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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 3/15/21

Guests: Chuck Schumer, Spencer Hsu


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the senator from New York is interviewed. Two different men were charged with assaulting Brian Sicknick, the U.S. Capitol police officer who died after being injured in the January 6th attack.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: I think SARS helped and the next time there`s a respiratory pandemic, we`re going to be much better. That will probably happen.

David Wallace-Wells, it`s a great piece. People should check it out. Thanks for making time tonight.

That is ALL IN on this Monday night.

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

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

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

You know, they tried to do in the most low-key possible way. They tried to take all of the heat out of it. No fireworks, nothing to see here. This is just a little administrative ho-ha, no big deal. You don`t need to write an article about this.

Don`t need to talk about it on TV. We`re not trying to make a stir. But you know, it is a big deal. They have finally cleaned it up.

Six months ago, almost six months ago exactly, "The New York Times" published a couple exposes about something really bad that was going on at the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC over decades, over generations, built a reputation for excellence and solid science that made it really the international gold standard for public health. CDC science, CDC advice, CDC guidelines are unparalleled worldwide in terms of their influence, their authority, the respect with which they are treated and followed.

It is a part of the U.S. government that we can righteously and uncomplicatedly be really proud of as Americans in terms of us having an absolutely uncontested best in the world status, absolutely global leadership.

And then the Trump administration happened. And they recognized that when the pandemic hit, the world would be looking to the CDC for gold standard science and guidance on how to understand it, how to combat it. The whole country, the whole world would be looking to the CDC for what counts as scientifically sound policy response to that crisis.

So the Trump administration, the Trump White House, they saw that. They recognized what they had in terms of the CDC`s incredible reputation for excellence, and they decided that would be an excellent thing to go after with a proverbial baseball bat. And so, CDC scientists, including the plain-spoken number two official at the CDC, the career scientist principle deputy director, Anne Schuchat, she was basically shushed by the Trump administration, not allowed to speak to the public anymore after her initial comments about COVID, about how serious it was, seemed too off key compared with the president and the administration`s happy talk about it.

The Trump appointee at the top of the agency, CDC director, Dr. Robert Redfield, was not exactly an ultimate fighting champion when it came to standing up for his agency. We reported among other things that CDC scientific teams that had been sent out to investigate mass infections happening by the thousands at meatpacking plants, Dr. Redfield got leaned on by the White House to tell the scientists in the field they needed to change their findings and their recommendations.

He apparently was happy to do so, was happy to pass on that pressure. He called CDC scientists from an office phone at the White House and told them to withdraw their scientific findings and instead issue squishier ones that the White House liked more. Just because the White House said so.

So we reported, a lot of people reported on a number of different elements of the CDC coming under inappropriate political pressure. Six months ago, "The New York Times" obtained documentation showing the White House and the Trump administration were repeatedly intervening in the scientific process at the CDC, and indeed, they were just publishing their own nonscientific White House junk. But they were putting it out under the CDC`s name.

And when CDC scientists and CDC officials tried to object to it, they overruled them, and this Trump nonsense went out as if it was CDC guidance. It`s like if you ordered food from a super fancy, fantastic restaurant with an amazing reputation, but I stole the food and instead dropped off some terrible frozen pizza at your house, right? I put it in the bag from the fancy place, but it was just like gross old pizza in the back of my freezer.

If I did that, first of all, of course, I`m a thief and a fraud. But also, you probably wouldn`t order delivery from that fancy restaurant again, right? You probably wouldn`t think they were that good, that fancy, certainly not worth the price since the one time you did order food from them what arrived was bleh.

The Trump White House stealing the CDC`s good name, and instead just putting out their own junk to bolster the president`s weird ideas about COVID and putting them out under the CDC`s letterhead, that was worse than their usual fraud and mismanagement. Because that was the kind of thing that breaks what we most need to be intact, right? That was the kind of thing that steals and sullies the hard earned reputation of the most authoritative source we have in the world, which we really need right now at a time when we and the world need authoritative science on how to fight COVID, right? We need them to be doing their best work. It`s the worst health crisis in a century.

We have never needed to depend on them more. And so the Trump administration cut their knees out from under them and made them put out junk in their name. It`s just terrible. Like, that`s not -- that`s not like just arson. That`s slashing all the tires on all of the fire trucks at the station and then committing arson.

So, six months ago, as I said, "The New York Times" had a couple exposes on this disaster with the Trump administration hijacking of the CDC. Some of our reporting at the time matched that absolutely. It still raises my blood pressure six months on. Still raises my blood pressure to remember now that they did this.


MADDOW: They used the credibility and the authority of the CDC, right? But they posted their own made-up stuff under the name on the letterhead, on the website of the CDC, but these aren`t actually guidelines devised by CDC scientists or science. These guidelines did not go through the rigorous scientific review process that makes CDC guidance authoritative and trustworthy in the first place, but still they put the CDC`s name on it.

And CDC scientists are being told in a document obtained by the times that their objections to this guidance don`t matter. Guidance is going out under their name anyway. Because the White House and the Trump administration say so.

And this is probably the part where the CDC director is supposed to resign, either in protest of this happening or in shame for having allowed this to happen to his agency under his watch. Either is fine.


MADDOW: Either would be fine. That was this show six months ago. The Trump appointed CDC director, Robert Redfield, did not resign. But not long after that show, the American people, of course, decided that Robert Redfield`s boss in the White House, Donald Trump, would be retired from the White House against his will, and so we got a new president, a new administration, that meant a new CDC director.

And now, finally, today, without any fanfare whatsoever, they started to do the clean-up. The number two official at the CDC, Dr. Anne Schuchat, who had been silenced along other career scientists at the CDC under the Trump administration, Dr. Schuchat today submitted this very low-key report to the new CDC director, Rochelle Walensky, President Biden`s appointee too run the CDC, and Schuchat again was one of the career scientists whose public appearances and statements were stopped by the Trump White House.

Well, in the Biden administration, she`s allowed to have public facing documents and appearances again. And in fact, they put her in charge right away of going back over all of the CDC COVID guidance and advice that was published during the Trump administration to make sure that none of the junk survived, to take out and remove anything that hadn`t really been CDC science, that the Trump administration insisted be put out anyway. She was in charge of a review to identify and root out the junk the Trump administration put out in the CDC`s name or watered down or otherwise corrupted at that agency so once again we the public, we the world can have confidence in what the CDC says about COVID.

And so, this was publicly posted at the CDC`s website today, with no fanfare whatsoever. It didn`t even have a headline on it. You had to scroll through all of the various statements in the press section to find it with no headline on it. It`s all written in language so low-key that it might clinically work as an anti-inflammatory.

But you can`t hide this news from those of us who care about the CDC as the world`s gold standard authority on public health. They are not trying to make this a political thing. The word Trump and, you know, interference and politics doesn`t appear in this document.

But they`re fixing it. And the bottom line is that in their quiet way, and their diligent, quiet way, they`re now making clear that all this stuff is gone.

For example, this is a good one, the importance of reopening of America`s schools this fall. Not a typo. That was the title. That was the Trump administration thing last July that was forced onto the CDC. It was not their work. But it was put out in CDC`s name by the Trump White House.

One clear sign that something might be wrong there is there really is an extra of in the title. The importance of reopening of America`s schools this fall. That`s such a Trump White House thing. I`m surprised it wasn`t in all caps with some swears, but that is one of the things that is now gone. That was junk put out in the CDC`s name. It`s gone now.

Also that weird thing they put out on the CDC`s website April of last year: Opening up America again. See, it`s almost like the president`s slogan, and intentionally so. Not the CDC`s work, but put up on the CDC`s website. That`s gone now.

There was that bizarre turn in August, after President Trump had spent all summer saying the only reason we had so many cases in this country is because we were doing so much of that dump testing. We should slow down the testing and not test so much because, right, if you never got on the scale, that means you never gain weight.

I mean, it was one thing to hear that particular president voice that anti- testing inane nonsense all last summer. It was another thing, it was stomach churning, frankly, to see a document put out with the CDC`s name on it that repeated it. That said, yeah, actually, we should test fewer people.

Remember when the CDC put this out last year inexplicably. If you don`t have symptoms, don`t bother being tested, even if you have been exposed to somebody who has COVID. They put that out with the CDC`s name on it in August. It was instantly apparent it was trash from the Trump White House, but they put it out. And now it`s gone.

They are restoring integrity. How do you get your reputation back? In part by owning up to the stuff that was done inappropriately, remove it, naming it, removing it, making sure it doesn`t happen again. That`s what they`re doing.

The CDC director under President Biden, Dr. Walensky, ordered a top to bottom review of all of the statements about COVID made in CDC`s name. All the statements that had been corrupted and falsified by inappropriate interference from the Trump administration and the Trump White House directly, that review is now done, and the trash is gone.

Now, we just need to be sure that kind of attack on the CDC never happens again. Or if anybody ever tries it again, it never gets that far again. I still can`t believe that Robert Redfield never quit in protest of what they did to the agency he was supposedly running, while he was in charge of it. But that will be what he lives with as his reputation and what he did to public health in America and in the world under his leadership while he let all that happen and he participated in the corrupting efforts that disgraced the CDC at that critical time. Never resigned, never peeped. Just an incredible disgrace.

But at least now it is finally cleaned up. That happened today.

Big news today in the cabinet, in the interior department. Former New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland was confirmed this evening in the United States Senate to serve as our nation`s next interior secretary. Deb Haaland today becomes the first Native American to lead the Interior Department. She`s the first indigenous person to serve as a cabinet secretary of any kind in the history of this country, and the symbolism almost takes your breath away, right?

I mean, this is the department, the part of the U.S. government that manages the country`s tribal lands. The interior secretary is in charge of managing the historically fraught relationship between the federal government and more than 570 federally recognized tribes. The decisions made by the U.S. Interior Department have a hugely outsized impact on the daily lives of indigenous people in this country, so to have that department now run by an original descendant of this nation, it`s just a -- it`s a stunning piece of symbolism. It`s monumentally important.

And you could feel some of that around the time of her confirmation hearings last month. This, for example, this is Brandy Liberty. Here she is holding up a photo of her grandmother as a young girl. Her grandmother was born on her tribe`s reservation. She didn`t become a U.S. citizen until she was 9.

Brandy says her grandmother was a fierce advocate for her people. She says the work that Deb Haaland can do as the head of the interior department reminds her of the work her grandmother did, just on a larger scale.

This is Debbie Nez-Manuel and her husband Royce. They belong to the Navajo Nation. Debbie actually spoke to Deb Haaland on the phone once. Debbie was running for state legislature. Deb Haaland endorsed her. She said Deb Haaland shared stories about life on and off a reservation, which resonated with her.

Debbie and her husband said they would not Miss Deb Haaland`s confirmation hearing for the world. They signed on to a virtual watch party to support her. They be there for it.

This was a billboard in Billings, Montana, before Deb Haaland`s confirmation. Quote, the first people of this land, the last to receive the vote. Our first secretary of the interior.

This was projected outside the Interior Department`s headquarters in D.C., the night before her hearing. Our ancestors` dreams come true.

Tonight, that dream became official. Deb Haaland confirmed with bipartisan support in the U.S. senate. She`s now our nation`s secretary of the interior. Which means that President Biden, more than 50 days into his presidency, is one step closer to a fully confirmed cabinet.

Biden is waiting for the Senate to confirm five more cabinet level positions, including some of the big ones like health secretary, for example.

The president so far has had to yank just one of his nominees, his pick to run the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden. As of now, President Biden says that Neera Tanden will have a different job in the administration. He`s still not named a new nominee for the Office of Management and Budget.

One of the people who had been described as potentially in contention for that was a long Democratic policy expert named Gene Sperling. Today, Gene Sperling was instead named to be the point person for the implementation of the big COVID relief bill, the $1.9 trillion rescue plan.

Gene Sperling will not be put forward as the nominee. Instead, he`ll be in charge of accountable to make sure the bill is put in effect efficiently and without bottlenecks.

There has been a lot going on in the administration in the past week, a lot of stuff from here on out, I think, is going to continue to focus on the COVID relief bill. Today, the Biden administration set sail on what they`re calling the help is here tour. President Biden, Vice President Harris, their spouses, are going to be going out all over the country to promote the COVID relief bill they just shepherded into law.

The first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, was in New Jersey today at an elementary school. Dr. Biden, of course, herself an educator. She was reminding school officials today with this visit that part of the money from the relief bill goes to schools like this one to help them reopen fully and safely, while preventing COVID from spreading in the classroom.

That`s the kind of thing that is the point of this road show the administration is on right now. It`s not selling people on the idea of the COVID relief bill, because it is already passed. It is signed, sealed, and delivered. This national tour is about making sure everybody knows about what just passed -- every stakeholder, schools, vaccination centers, American families. Everybody is about to get a slice of help from this legislation.

This tour is about making sure they all know that a slice of this particular pie is coming their way.

Vice President Harris and her husband were in Las Vegas today, as part of this effort. They went to a vaccination center and a culinary academy. This is how she explained the reason that she and the president are going to be traveling all over the country this week talking about what this legislation will do.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s literally letting people know their rights, right? It`s kind of like you buy a product, you have already been sold on the product, but you need some directions on the box usually, right?

So this is about, hey, know that you`re entitled to this. File your taxes so you can speed up the benefits that you`re going to receive. Talk to your friends and neighbors about getting vaccinations because we`re speeding up the delivery and supply of vaccinations and sites like UNLV.

These are the things we`re doing to let people know what they`re entitled to and to spread the word. Think of it as a public education campaign. This is what`s happening. This is what you`re entitled to receive, so go out there and get it.


MADDOW: More of a public education campaign. Let people know what they`re entitled to and how to get it. Go out there and get it. That is -- that is indeed part of it. It`s also in political terms, it is also a victory lap, to brag on the fact that this was done. That in 50 days, they took the country from zero to $1.9 trillion in terms of help to individual American families and in terms of massively ramping up the COVID response.

I mean, this weekend, millions of Americans got their direct deposit relief checks, $1400 stimulus payments that were part of the big COVID relief bill. For eligible Americans who haven`t gotten their checks yet, they are on the way. They`re going out very fast.

This victory lap national tour is an opportunity for president Biden and Vice President Harris and Democrats in Congress to say to the American people, hey, those checks in your account, that direct deposit in your account, your health care premiums dropping by hundreds of dollars a month, the tax credits, the child tax credits that are doing a lot every month to lift you and your family out of poverty, I mean, for middle-class families, demonstrably raising people`s income.

I mean, for families making $50,000 to $90,000 a year, in that sort of middle income strata, just the components of this bill that apply to people in that strata, it`s like giving people a 5 percent to 6 percent raise in your salary just from this one bill. It`s all the more so for people who are further down on the income spectrum.

So this is the president and the vice president and congressional Democrats saying, hey, we did that, which is good politics. The point is to try to get the American people to connect the dots here, right?

Common wisdom in the Democratic Party right now is that the Obama administration didn`t pull that off effectively enough in 2009 when they had their stimulus. They put money into people`s pockets through their economic recovery bill when we had the economic crisis then, but nobody knew it. It was passed in such a way and it was sort of underwhelmingly promoted in such a way that voters didn`t give them enough credit for the help in the bill. Democrats got killed in the next midterm election.

Joe Biden was around for that in 2009, and so you`re seeing Democrats here having a lessons learned moment. Show your work. Tell the American people what you did for them and maybe they`ll ask you back the next time they go back to the ballot box.

Now that the COVID relief bill is passed, though, now that we`re on to the public education campaign part of it, the brag about your accomplishments part of it, the question of what the Biden administration and the Democratic controlled Congress are going to tackle next really is wide open because they have a lot of options to choose from.

I mean, look at what the house has done in addition to passing COVID relief already. The House passed a landmark LGBTQ civil rights bill. The House passed a landmark bill to expand background checks for gun sales. The House is actively working on a bill that would grant statehood to Washington, D.C. The House is going to hold a hearing on that next week.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying this weekend that the House is now also ready to take up a sweeping infrastructure bill. She`s instructed key committees in the House to start working on it.

Looming over all of this is For the People Act, the massive voting rights and democracy reform bill that the House passed earlier this month. This is absolutely formative and seminal. That bill is essentially right now the only national response to the wave of Republican-backed bills in Republican-controlled states that will roll back people`s access to the ballot box.

It will end partisan gerrymandering. It will put a bright light on all the dark money in politics. It will create a federal national guarantee, put a floor under what states can do in terms of rolling back voting rights -- while Republican-controlled states are moving as aggressively as they have in a century to roll back voting rights.

Like I said, Democrats have a full menu to choose from in terms of what they`re going to do next. Even if you`re just looking at major pieces of legislation that have already passed the House or are on their way to do so soon. But for each one of those legislative priorities, honestly, nobody has any idea how it`s going to pass. Nobody has any idea what exactly is going to come next and how exactly those bills are going to pass the Senate.

We know how they pass the COVID relief bill. Can they pull that same trick off again with another one of these bills? Which are they going to choose if they`re going to use that same process?

What happens next fully depends on Chuck Schumer and the 49 other Democrats in his chamber. And it is easy to be cynical here, right? For all these pieces of legislation that have passed the House or that are going to pass the House, Democrats in the Senate need ten Republican senators to sign on with them, otherwise these things are dead on arrival-ish. Unless they can maneuver around that.

Before you fast forward to the end of the movie, though, right, before you decide it`s all a foregone conclusion that all of the stuff passing the House won`t go anywhere else, look at what they just did with COVID relief. Checks are in people`s pockets right now. Health care premiums are going down right now. American families are going to start to rise out of poverty.

It`s going to cut child poverty in half. Cut overall poverty in this country by a third. All because of what Chuck Schumer was able to muscle through the Senate. What are they going to do next? And how are they going to get it passed?

We`re having a moment in this country. How long is this moment going to last?

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer joins us live here next.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Joining us now from Washington for "The Interview" tonight is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the senator from New York.

Senator Schumer, it`s really nice of you to make this time. Thank you so much.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Thank you for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: So when we spoke in January when I came down to D.C. to see you, you told me that you felt it was important to get big, strong, bold things done. You told me, quote, we will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do.

How -- how is that going so far?

SCHUMER: Well, so far so good, Rachel. You know, when we started out, they said how are they going to get three big things done at once?

The impeachment trial of Donald Trump, which I think showed what a despicable man he was. Cabinet, we now have six -- by the end of this week, 16 of the cabinet, almost all will be in there.

You mentioned Deb Haaland. What a historic choice. Native Americans have never had a seat at the table. Now they do.

We put more money into the ARP bill for Native Americans than ever before, and she`ll stop the rape of our great federal lands by oil companies.

We`re putting people in my -- and then, of course, we did the AR -- the ARP. As you said, Democrats promised, put us in office, you`ll get checks. They`re getting checks.

Put us in office, the vaccines will start coming forward. They are.

Put us in office and we`ll do something about child poverty, food banks, helping people pay the rent -- so many different things. And we are getting those done. But, Rachel, we are just getting started.

Our caucus knows from one end to the other that we need big, bold action. Not just to get out of the COVID crisis, as difficult as that is, but also there were so many problems that America had before COVID started. We have to tackle them. There are many that we have to tackle.

We have to tackle climate. We have to tackle income and racial inequality. We have to strengthen our democracy and not let the despicable activities that you mentioned earlier by these Republican legislators go on.

We have a big bold agenda, but we`re getting it done. We`re going to have to get it done. Failure is not an option, and we are just getting started.

MADDOW: I think you mentioned the democracy reforms, and I did describe some of those rollbacks that are happening in the states right now. Compare today when we talked in January, I do think a lot of people around the country right now are sort of freaking out about what is happening in Republican-controlled states, everywhere from Iowa to Arizona to Georgia to Texas, all over the country, anywhere Republicans have power, it`s being called the biggest rollback in voting rights since Jim Crow.


MADDOW: Is that -- that sudden assault in the states, Republican- controlled states, is that changing the calculus for you at all about what is going to be necessary to pass the For the People Act.

SCHUMER: First, what they`re doing is despicable and it`s racist. Racist. It`s Jim Crow.

I mean, in Georgia, one of the ways we won is the African-American community was mobilized. One of the things they liked, they have done very successfully is what they call Souls to the Polls. People go to church on Sunday, and then buses come to the church, and they go and vote, early voting is allowed for several weeks in Georgia before the election.

All of a sudden, the legislature for no reason that they can justify says, no more Sunday voting aimed at preventing black people from voting. It`s despicable. In some states, they`re saying you want to vote by mail, you need a notary public.

Now, what poor person is going to be able to bring a notary public to their home to witness these things?

So this is one of the most despicable things that has been done. And yes, that is why when I became majority leader, I made the Democ -- We the People Bill, S-1, which includes so much, and it`s very important.

And there are other things important, too. The Biden Build Back Better proposal, which combines strong climate change, millions of jobs for people who haven`t had jobs, good paying jobs before, low-paying jobs, no jobs, people who got out of prison, and making sure that as we build a massive infrastructure proposal, not only is it green, but it particularly pays attention to the people who are left out, poor people, people of color. That`s high on the list.

We have a big agenda to do. And our caucus knows we have to get it done. Will it be easy? No. Passing this ARP was not easy. But we have no choice if we want to move America forward.

The good side of this is, as people saw, when Democrats got in, it`s really making a difference in their lives. If we can continue to show people that, that we can actually govern and get things done, then the kinds of siren calls of racism, of bigotry, of divisiveness that Donald Trump and other dictatorial type personalities who were floating around and trying to gain politically, they won`t be able to gain. We can fill the void with real accomplishments that makes people`s lives better.

MADDOW: You were able to pass the American Rescue Plan, which does have a very practical impact on the vast majority of people in this country, as evidenced by the fact the people have started receiving $1,400 checks in their bank accounts already as of this weekend, but you were able to do that procedurally using the budget reconciliation rules so that Republicans couldn`t use the filibuster against it. You were able to pass it with a simple majority of 50 votes.

You can only do that so many times though. Is there just one more opportunity to do that with one more piece of legislation this year? Is that how budget reconciliation works?

SCHUMER: Well, we are exploring the ways to use budget reconciliation. And we are trying to make it as flexible and as broad as possible so we can do many different kinds of things. That`s for sure.

But obviously, it`s not going to work in every instance. It has to have a fiscal impact, as you know. And so, some things don`t.

Those things, we`re going to have to pass, and on things like that, we would welcome Republican support. No question about it. And maybe some of them will see the light on some of these issues.

But if we don`t get Republican support, we have to move forward with big, bold action. And our caucus will come together. We will figure out the best way to go. Everything -- everything will be on the table. And we will move forward. We have to.

MADDOW: Can you tell us at all about those discussions among Democrats about whether -- obviously, the filibuster rules have changed over time. They changed just a few years ago to not apply to Supreme Court nominations. They changed a few years before that to not apply to other nominations below the Supreme Court.

Is -- are those kinds of discussions about -- is it a black and white let`s keep the filibuster or let`s kill it discussion, or are you talking about ways that it might be narrowed down so that it didn`t apply to specific kinds of legislation? There are proposals that it shouldn`t apply, for example, to voting rights.

SCHUMER: Right. Well, let me say this. First, I think we will show and our caucus gained strength from showing unity in getting some things done, as the AARP and very possibly the Build Back Better. Second, I think we will show the public we will see, we will test our Republican friends.

When McConnell was the leader, he put none of these good things that you mentioned earlier that the House passed on the floor. I will put them on the floor. And we will see on very popular issues where Republicans stand.

I recently said when the House passed the background checks bill, I`ll put it on the floor. Ninety percent of the American people are for background checks, 80 percent of gun owners are for background checks. Where do our Republican friends stand?

And if they go along with us, great. If they feel the pressure, there are campaigns mounting right now on these issues in their states which I think are very good. I don`t mean political campaigns. I mean issue-oriented campaigns, door-knocking and things like that.

If they go along with us, great. But if not, as I said, we`re going to have to put our caucus together, put our heads together in our caucus, and figure out the best way to go. Everything is on the table.

The one thing I think we do understand, which helps us, Rachel, is that every Democrat -- and we have a diversity of views, as you know -- but every Democrat understands that we have to move forward in a very significant way.

Some would prefer to test the Republicans for a longer period of time, some for a shorter period of time. But we have to. And I have a leadership team. We meet Monday nights.

Who`s on my leadership team where we discuss where to go? Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin and Mark Warner.

And time and time again, we respect each other`s views. We talk it through, and then we move forward successfully. And that`s what I believe we will continue to do in a big, bold way. We have no choice. America needs it.

MADDOW: When do you think we`ll start seeing the first judicial nominations move forward? Obviously, the Trump administration did that in a machine-like way. They put hundreds of judges with lifetime tenure on the courts. We haven`t seen any judicial nominations from this president yet.

Will we -- should we expect those soon?

SCHUMER: Yes. I have been working with the White House and urging them that, you know, they put so many right-wing -- some of the people who they put on the bench were people -- I hate to use all these bad words, but they`re just horrible. They had no understanding of walking in the other person`s shoes. They were narrow, right-wing, often young people.

So, we have to restore the balance to the bench. And that`s of great urgency. And we will.

And I am already discussing the first (ph) process for nominations, and once we fill the cabinet and we`re -- and the major appointments to the president, we`re almost done with that. We will move on and start appointing judges and redressing the imbalance that Trump put on the bench.

MADDOW: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer -- sir, it`s nice to have this much time with you. Thank you so much for your time tonight. It`s good to see you.

SCHUMER: Rachel, great to be with you. And tell your listeners, we will change America in a big, bold way. We must. It`s an imperative, and failure is not an option.

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


MADDOW: So it`s not like he was keeping it a secret. Quote, defendant`s ideology was no secret to his coworkers, nor could it have been. As indicated by multiple coworkers, defendant shaved his facial hair into a Hitler mustache, which he wore while on duty. That said, quote, defendant`s affinity for Hitler and the Nazi party went far beyond facial hair.

That`s a filing from federal prosecutors arguing that this man arrested on seven counts for his role in the U.S. Capitol attack, should not be let out of jail pending trial. At the time of the attack, he was an army reservist, also working at a contractor at a U.S. Navy base in New Jersey. On that navy base where he worked, the man, his name is Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, according to prosecutors, was well known among his coworkers as a vocal white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer.

After he got arrested for his alleged role in the Capitol attack, NCIS, the real one, Navy Criminal Investigative Service, interviewed 44 of his colleagues at work at the navy base. Of the 44 colleagues, they interviewed, 34 of them told investigators that, yes, he held, quote, extremist or radical views pertaining to Jewish people, minorities, and women. When 34 out of 44 people interviewed about you can confirm that, yeah, you hate the Jews and minorities and women, maybe you have been talking about this too much at work.

If his stated views at work were not a giveaway, perhaps there was also the fact that he did wear a Hitler mustache while on duty at the navy base. Maybe that could have been a tip-off, too, especially after he was rebuked by a supervisor for wearing that particular kind of mustache, especially because he very clearly meant it to be a Hitler mustache. My God.

Nevertheless, this contractor with a very public affinity for Hitler, including wearing a Hitler mustache, continued to work at that Navy base, all the while holding a secret level security clearance. If you can hold a security clearance while having views that obvious, what is a problem for getting and holding a security clearance? All the best people, all the best people in the pro-Trump mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6th.

Today, two different men were charged with assaulting Brian Sicknick, the U.S. Capitol police officer who died after being injured in the January 6th attack. Last month, Officer Sicknick, you may remember, he lay in honor at the U.S. Capitol, that is a very rare honor in our country, an incredibly solemn and sobering thing.

According to federal prosecutors today, a 32-year-old West Virginia man and a 39-year-old New Jersey man, they were friends who grew up together, they apparently went to the Capitol together on the 6th, prosecutors say they worked in tandem, they worked together at the Capitol attack to attack officers with some kind of irritant spray. They were allegedly captured on video footage discussing the use of bear spray before employing that or something like it against Brian Sicknick and two other officers, one of whom was injured enough by the spray that she apparently had scabs all over her face, physical injuries all over her face after being hit with the stuff.

Both of these men appeared at separate court appearances today. Government prosecutors argued they too should be held in custody until their next hearings.

Joining us is Spencer Hsu, legal reporter for "The Washington Post", who has been covering these arrests and more.

Mr. Hsu, it`s nice to see you tonight. Thank you for joining us.


MADDOW: The death of Officer Sicknick is something that resonates morally and materially for us as a country since the January 6th attack. But it is one that has been shrouded in a lot of mystery. We don`t yet know the exact circumstances of Officer Sicknick`s death. As far as I understand, there hasn`t been an autopsy report released about the cause of his death.

Do these arrests today advance the story any further in terms of what we understand about this officer losing his life?

HSU: Yes. Yes, you know, it put the big caveat up front which is neither of these men is charged with the death of Officer Sicknick, that Officer Sicknick`s death has not been ruled a homicide because there`s not yet been a cause of deaths established. Having said that, this is a bit of a breakthrough for investigators ten weeks after the attack. Being able to find evidence of the assault in surveillance and other openly sourced video, tracking that back with officers` body worn cameras, allegedly showing Julian Khater spraying the substance about five or six feet away from officers that he allegedly obtained from George Tanios, and they received tips confirming or by individuals who say they confirmed the identity of these two men based on FBI wanted images.

You know, having said that, prosecutors are clear to say they don`t know what if any connection this assault may have had with Officer Sicknick`s death, but we know that the acting attorney general at the time, Jay Rosen, said that he died, Officer Sicknick died as a result of the injuries he suffered defending the U.S. Capitol. Capitol police said he was injured while physically engaging with protesters and also said he died because of injuries he sustained while on duty.

But they have not taken the opportunity as of yet to say if he was injured in some other way, or this particular episode, and again, the toxicology results have not been made available, which is unusual after ten weeks.

MADDOW: Spencer, one of the things we have been following and covering here is efforts by online researchers and civilian volunteers to comb through the tape, comb through the open source stuff that`s out there, to try to answer the FBI`s call for information about these hundreds of people now that the FBI has asked about information on. And amongst some of those researchers and particularly talking to reporters there`s been frustration that sometimes they don`t know what the FBI is doing with the information, if the stuff they`re able to piece together, the tips they provide are going anywhere, if the FBI is acting on them.

This does seem like a case where tips from the public did help lead the FBI to these arrests today. Is that fair to say?

HSU: Oh, absolutely. I think over and over again reading these charging affidavits seen signs that investigators are very much helped by tips. You know, they said they received 210,000 tips from the public. You mentioned this case.

There`s another prominent case of alleged members of the Oath Keepers, several people from Ohio that are part of the ten-person indictment, one of the largest cases of co-conspirators that were found by online sleuthers that worked with "The New Yorker Magazine."

WNYC radio also worked on that. We think it`s one because a researcher was listening to a radio-like app in real time that day, January 6th, where they got -- where that militia investigator reported hearing some of these alleged conspirators talking while in the Capitol. And so, yes, there`s been a number of cases where the online community where the online community, where it`s -- Bellingcat or the Citizen Lab at University of Toronto, have been involved.

MADDOW: Legal reporter for "Washington Post," Spencer Hsu -- Mr. Hsu, thank you so much for joining us. We`ve been following your reporting closely on this story. It`s good to have you here.

HSU: Thanks so much.

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


MADDOW: Even though the Trump administration is technically over, as a country, we are still suffering from a hangover from some of the Trump era`s worst decisions. Like, for example, the hiring of this guy, Republican mega donor Louise DeJoy who Trump hired to run the Post Office into the ground.

Under his disastrous tenure, we had, of course, a precipitous decline in the on-time delivery of the mail and even though Trump is gone now, Louis DeJoy is still there as the head of the Postal Service, it`s because the rules say he can only be fired by the board who hired him.

Well, President Biden has nominated three new people to take seats on that board. Today, the White House officially sent the names to the Senate. That`s important because if those nominees are confirmed, the board will consist equal number of Democrats and Republicans, plus, one independent who happens to be a nonpartisan technocratic expert on voting by mail.

Well, if these new nominees are confirmed, that would mean that they could finally get rid of the Trump guy. They could finally get rid of Louis DeJoy.

Again, the names went to the Senate today to start the process. Watch this space.


MADDOW: That`s going to do it for us tonight. I`ll see you again tomorrow night.

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

Good evening, Lawrence.