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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 3/16/21

Guests: Adam Schiff


Eight people have been shot and killed in the Atlanta metro area in Georgia tonight. The shootings took place at three different locations, three different massage parlors. The intelligence community in today`s report described how Russia basically laundered its influence operations through U.S. officials and prominent persons including several people close to President Trump. California Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the House is interviewed.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is ALL IN on this Tuesday night.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

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

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

We are covering late breaking news out of Georgia tonight. And I have to warn you, it is disturbing news and this is a developing story.

Seven people have been shot and killed in Georgia tonight, in the Atlanta metro area. At least two more people have been injured in what appear to be connected attacks.

NBC`s Atlanta affiliate has just confirmed that police do have a suspect in custody now in connection with these shootings. That confirmation coming in the last few minutes.

Police say the shootings occurred at three different locations, again, all in the Atlanta metro area, all three locations are massage parlors.

A suspected shooter first entered a business called Young`s Asian Massage Parlor, which is in Cherokee County, about 45 minutes outside of Atlanta. Police say the shooter at that location shot and killed three people there at that massage parlor and injured two others.

Then in a different location, less than an hour later, four more people shot and killed at two additional massage parlors in Atlanta. Again, so this is metro Atlanta, Cherokee County, and Atlanta proper.

Now, officials have not said whether they think these shootings at three places were connected, but police did note tonight that the shootings took place at three spas, three massage parlors, where the majority of the employees are Asian. Police say all four victims who were shot and killed at the second and third locations appeared to be Asian women.

Now, police say they have not yet identified a suspect or a motive. But again, NBC`s affiliate in Atlanta is confirming just within the past few minutes that a suspect is in custody in connection with these crimes.

It is important of course to note here as context that this news, this breaking news comes tonight at a time when hate crimes targeting Asian- Americans has skyrocketed, not just in the last year but specifically within the past few weeks. That can`t be far from our minds as we absorb this developing story out of Atlanta.

Joining us now on the phone is NBC News`s Atlanta-based correspondent Blayne Alexander who is following this story closely tonight.

Blayne, let me ask you, I know this is a developing and fluid story. Did I say anything there that is wrong, is there anything that you can update us on current reporting?

BLAYNE ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS (via telephone): Nothing wrong. I do have one update, though, for you, Rachel, and it`s an unfortunate one to bring to you. It does appear there has been an additional casualty. We`ve just gotten an update from the Cherokee County captain who has been updating us throughout the evening, and he says that one of the injured individuals has passed. So, now it does look like that brings the death toll unfortunately to eight people in this combination of three shootings.

So, you laid it out there pretty well, I mean, what we`re looking at are three different locations. It seems most of this unfolded over the course of about an hour or so. So, the first one was about 45 minutes, maybe an hour north of Atlanta. That`s where that first shooting took place. And that`s where officials say they do have the suspect in custody, as you mentioned.

We`re learning a little bit more about him. He`s a 21-year-old, his name is Robert Aaron Long. He was taken into custody after officials, you know, were able to release a surveillance photo of him and were able to capture him in a different county.

My understanding is that they did a sort of pit maneuver on him, and essentially were able to take him into custody as he was fleeing and on the road. He was taken into custody without incident. That`s according to the captain there in Cherokee County.

But then he came back down to metro Atlanta, kind of the north Atlanta area, the Buckhead area, and he was at two different massage parlors which were across the street from one another. Atlanta police told us they had actually gotten calls from one of them, and it was a robbery in progress, they responded to a robbery in progress, and while there they got a call for shots fired at a parlor across the street.

So, those two different scenes are something they`re looking at. Now, of course, the big question we`re asking, are they connected, are the two different counties connected. They say it`s too early to say whether they`re connected, it`s too early to determine if this was any sort of a hate crime or anything like that. They say they certainly are in touch with officials in the other counties to determine what if anything connected these incidents overnight, Rachel.

MADDOW: Blayne, do you know, and have authorities been able to confirm that the three different sites, these spas, day spas or massage parlors that were targeted, were all essentially at least marketed as Asian spas? Obviously, we`re thinking about this in terms of whether or not somebody may have specifically been targeting Asian-Americans for these multiple shootings.

Were these all spas that were marketed as Asian locations?

ALEXANDER: In Cherokee County, in the first shooting, that is certainly the case. The other two, we`re still getting information on those. But we do know that`s the case in the Cherokee County shooting, and that`s something that the public information officer, the captain up there, spoke about when he was giving his first and initial briefing. And again, he wouldn`t go so far as to say whether it was targeted for that reason. But he did make note that have when he was giving his first briefing, Rachel.

MADDOW: And, Blayne, you mentioned there is a 21-year-old man, Robert Aaron Long, who is said now to be in custody. Do we know anything about why police targeted him, why they were able to release a photo of him, why they apprehended him? Do we know about why they believe he is connected to these crimes?

ALEXANDER: From what we understand, they just had that surveillance video. We do understand there were some witnesses inside the business at the time. Police, of course, are trying to talk to them, trying to get any information from them.

But there were some people who were able to see what happened. Now, the 911 call, as we understand, came from two people who were actually inside the building that were not shot and were not injured, fortunately. They`re the ones who made the calls. Police are still trying to talk to them to figure out what exactly they know. It`s certainly possible that information could have come from those who witnessed this, at least in part, Rachel.

MADDOW: Blayne Alexander, NBC News, Atlanta-based correspondent following this story closely as it continues to very many. Blayne, I have a feeling we`ll be back with you sooner rather than later on this story. Thank you for joining us on short notice tonight.

Again, this is news that we are following is a developing story, the bottom line is that what we`re looking at here is, we believe, eight dead. Additional people injured. Shootings at three different massage parlors or day spas in the Atlanta area, one in Cherokee County as Blayne described, 45 minutes or an hour north of Atlanta, the other two in Atlanta proper.

Police do have a suspect in custody now. Recently, now, a 21-year-old man who is in custody in conjunction with these attacks. But we don`t know more than that. This is the photo that we`ve got of the alleged suspect or at least the person who is in custody tonight. We don`t know more about this.

But obviously, part of what is front of mind here is the surge in anti- Asian-American hate crimes in multiple states in recent days, especially because we know at least the first of these massage parlors targeted tonight was marketed as an Asian day spa, an Asian massage parlor. We have been told that multiple of the deceased victims, several of the deceased victims tonight are Asian women. Disturbing story that is continuing to develop tonight in the Atlanta area. We will let you know more as we learn more.

All right.

On Friday night`s show here, you may remember us reporting on a sort of disturbing finding related to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. This photo that we showed on Friday night`s show is the badge of D.C. metropolitan police officer Michael Fanone who was injured in the Capitol attack. His badge was recovered by the FBI after it was dug up out of a man`s backyard in Buffalo, New York.

According to prosecutors, Thomas Sibick participated in the attack on the Capitol and specifically participated in a Trump supporter mob attack against officer Fanone. The officer was dragged into the mob, he was beaten severely, the mob tried to grab his pistol and screamed that they would kill him with his own gun.

The police officer described hearing the mob shout that at him. There is corroborating evidence that has also been cited by prosecutors of that. The mob did not end up shooting the officer with his own gun but did end up tasing him multiple times in the neck from close range. The officer was rendered unconscious, he suffered a heart attack, he was hospitalized.

Prosecutors say in the midst of that attack, it was Thomas Sibick of Buffalo, New York, who ripped officer Fanone`s badge off as well as his police radio. He then according to prosecutors repeatedly lied about that to investigators but then ultimately they did recover Officer Michael Fanone`s badge buried in Thomas Sibick`s backyard in Buffalo, New York.

So we reported on this case on Friday night after we got hold of the court documents in this case in part because they were so dramatic and in part because it appears to go some distance toward explaining if not solving the case of the nearly fatal attack on that particular D.C. police officer.

But to be honest, we also covered that court proceeding on Friday night because of the surprising development that after recovering Officer Fanone`s badge buried in this guy`s backyard, after identifying this guy as one of the mob who allegedly attacked this officer and then lied about it to investigators and then took home the trophy that he stole from the officer in the attack to bury it in his yard, after hearing about all of that and seeing all the evidence prosecutors presented about that, after Thomas Sibick was charged, the judge hearing his case, after he was arrested Friday night in Buffalo, let Thomas Sibick go home.

Prosecutors asked for Sibick to be held in bail pending his trial. The judge said, no, he`s free to go home, no problem. That was part of why we covered that on Friday night, because that was such a surprising decision that somebody implicated in crimes that violent and that serious, targeting a police officer, would be set free on their own recognizance.

Well, we have an update for you on that tonight. Today, the chief judge of the federal district court in Washington, D.C., Judge Beryl Howell, overruled that decision, reversed that decision and has in fact ordered that Thomas Sibick does have to wait in jail while his case is pending, so he`s no longer in home confinement.

So, there`s that. There`s been a number of cases now where local judges and in the places where Capitol rioters were arrested, they immediately move to let defendants go, they let them go and spend their at home. This is at least the fifth case now where we know a federal judge in D.C. has had to wade in and overrule a local judge`s decision so these Capitol riot defendants actually do have to stay in jail.

If you`re Merrick Garland starting your first full week at the U.S. justice department as America`s new attorney general, cases like this, I imagine, are giving you dyspepsia already. Welcome to the sand traps and trip wires that await you in the 30-plus criminal cases that are already pending against members of the mob of Trump supporters who violently attacked the Capitol to try to keep the former president in office.

Welcome also for Merrick Garland today to this bouquet of lit fireworks that was left on the doorstep of the new attorney general by Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. Senator Whitehouse was U.S. attorney in Rhode Island as well. He was attorney general of the state of Rhode Island, he is on the Judiciary Committee in the Senate.

When it comes to the Department of Justice and matters involving the justice system, Senator Whitehouse knows of what he speaks. And today, he sent this over to Attorney General Merrick Garland. And it`s nice in a way, it ends with a little handwritten postscript that says right next to Senator Whitehouse`s signature it says, with congratulations and best regards. Which is nice, that he put that on the letter. Nice to see those kinds of well-wishes.

But what this letter is, is a list of some of the most gigantic messes and scandals left behind by the Trump administration, which Senator Whitehouse would now please like Attorney General Merrick Garland to clean up, including what Senator Whitehouse describes absolute the, quote, politically constrained and perhaps fake FBI investigation into serious sexual misconduct allegations made against then-supreme-court nominee, now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The White House says, quote, if standard procedures were violated and the FBI conducted a fake investigation rather than a sincere, thorough, and professional one, that merits congressional oversight to understand how, why, and at whose behest and with whose knowledge or connivance this was done.

The senator says, quote, the FBI stonewall of all questions related to this episode provides little reassurance of its propriety.

So Brett Kavanaugh, of course, faced serious allegations of sexual misconduct, even sexual assault, while he was a nominee for the United States Supreme Court, part of the fight over his nomination was that the FBI would do essentially an examination of those claims. Senator Whitehouse says the FBI investigation into those claims against Brett Kavanaugh was not a real investigation, it was not conducted according to FBI standards, and he says the FBI`s refusal to answer any questions about it since is a sign that something was fishy there.

So, Senator Whitehouse writing to Attorney General Merrick Garland today saying, welcome to your new job, among other things I would like you to provide answers about what went wrong in the Brett Kavanaugh investigation that I believe was a fake investigation and not a real one, conducted and then covered up by the FBI. Wow.

And yes, we`re talking about the subject of an FBI investigation who is now a sitting Supreme Court justice, right? So this is a hotter than average hot potato.

And because Senator Whitehouse is not a shy senator, he is also demanding a review of a number of Trump administration Justice Department decisions to take actions that appear to have been potentially improper but they were nevertheless things that were demanded by President Trump. He wants a review of a number of those decisions by the Trump Justice Department. He`s also asking, no small thing, for Attorney General Merrick Garland to take a hard look at that Justice Department policy that says you`re not supposed to indict a sitting president. And, you know, fair enough, that probably does need looking at.

But, you know, with congratulations and best regards, Mr. Attorney General, enjoy the numerous things that are actively on fire that I have just left on your doorstep as a housewarming present.

But then, even after all that, late this afternoon, things got considerably hotter, including for the new attorney general, with the release of this actually quite remarkable document from the office of the director of National Intelligence. Now, a classified version of this document was apparently completed and submitted the first week in January, right around the time of the attack on the Capitol, incidentally.

But what we got today is the declassified version that have report. And because it`s declassified, we, the public, are allowed to see it. It`s a new law, actually, that says that reports like this have to come out, including versions of them that can be released to the public, after every major election now.

After the 2016 interference in our presidential election by Russia, one of the results of that, one of the changes made after that, which I actually wasn`t aware of until today, is that the intelligence community does, after every major election, have to do a report now on foreign adversaries` efforts to influence or interfere with our American elections. We will have that now, apparently by law, with every new major election, from here on out.

This is the first one that we have seen, and it`s a doozy. For one thing, it explains this. Last month, February, seemingly out of the blue, the FBI`s Washington field office posted this "wanted by the FBI" poster which includes a really quite large new reward for any information leading to the capture of this particular fugitive. The man is a Russian citizen.

His name is Konstantin Kilimnik. A wanted poster they put out about him last month says he is assessed by the FBI to have ties to Russian intelligence. The wanted poster notes that an arrest warrant was issued for him in the summer of 2018.

But, nevertheless, or at least last month, they`re suddenly offering a huge new reward, a quarter million dollars could be yours if you provide the FBI with information that leads to his arrest. Again, the arrest warrant for him has been out there for more than a couple of years. But suddenly, new urgency from the FBI about trying to get him and a boatload of new reward money, a quarter million dollar reward is a big deal, the FBI suddenly trying with some urgency to track him down.

So we didn`t know why that new alert on Konstantin Kilimnik was posted by the FBI last month. But now we know, when that was posted last month, that was in between the classified version of this report and the public version that we just got. The intelligence community finished a classified report on foreign adversaries` efforts to interfere with and influence our 2020 election. They finished that in January. They put out this thing, please help us find Konstantin Kilimnik in February and now we`ve just received the unclassified version of that report released to the public.

And perhaps this is why, right? Perhaps the roll of Konstantin Kilimnik of trying to interfere into a foreign adversary in our last election is why the FBI feels some urgency in trying to get this guy. Konstantin Kilimnik is now, according to this new report, assessed by U.S. intelligence to have carried out operations inside the United States on behalf of Russian intelligence in two consecutive presidential elections, 2016 and 2020. The U.S. intelligence community believes in both those elections he was running operations on behalf of the Kremlin to try to get Donald Trump into the White House in 2016 and to try to keep him there in 2020.

And the reason his name is familiar is because his name did surface in big ways in the Mueller investigation, and his name surfaced in an even bigger way last fall when the Senate Intelligence Committee put out their bipartisan report on what happened in 2016. This guy Kilimnik had a starring role in that report, perhaps more of a starring role than any other single person. The Senate intelligence report said bluntly Konstantin Kilimnik is a Russian intelligence officer. And that was an important blunt assertion, because he was so involved with the Trump campaign in 2016 while he was apparently serving as a Russian intelligence officer.

You might remember the reporting that Kilimnik went way back with President Trump`s 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort. You may also remember the reporting that during the 2016 campaign, Manafort for some reason decided to convey sensitive, non-public, Trump campaign data, strategy documents, internal polling documents, to this guy, Konstantin Kilimnik, who was a Russian intelligence officer.

Why did Manafort feed sensitive, non-public Trump campaign today to a Russian intelligence officer during the campaign while Russia was engaging in a big hacking operation to help Trump win? The Senate intelligence report said, quote, Kilimnik likely served as a channel for Manafort to Russian intelligence services. The report also said that they could never discern what was going on there, why Trump`s campaign chairman was shoveling all this campaign material to a Russian intelligence officer.

They said they never got to the bottom of it because even though Manafort was interviewed a dozen times, he lied consistently during these interviews about one issue in particular, his interactions with Kilimnik, the Russian intelligence officer at the center of the committee`s investigation. These lies violated Paul Manafort`s plea agreement which obligated him to be truthful in his cooperation with the government. Those lies therefore exposed Manafort to a more severe prison sentence than his plea agreement contemplated.

Manafort`s obfuscation of the truth surrounding Konstantin Kilimnik was particularly damage to go the committee`s investigation because it directly foreclosed insight into a series of interactions and communications which represent the single most direct tie between senior Trump campaign officials and the Russian intelligence services.

That was last fall. That was the Senate intelligence committee`s report. That report mentioned Konstantin Kilimnik more than 750 times by name.

Well, again, that came out last fall. Now, in very short order, we know quite a bit more, right? Because that was in the fall. Then there was the election. Then in late December, Trump pardoned Paul Manafort for his crimes.

So, big picture, that means Manafort effectively got away with whatever it was he was doing with Konstantin Kilimnik to help Trump without ever telling investigators the truth about it. Trump effectively rewarded him for not spilling the beans about his work with a Russian intelligence officer while he was running Trump`s 2016 campaign. Trump got him off the hook, because he never squealed.

That pardon was late December. In February, again, we saw the FBI suddenly slap a $250,000 reward out there for any information leading to Konstantin Kilimnik`s arrest. Now we know, as of today, what was going on behind the scenes in the interim was the intelligence community was concluding that Kilimnik was not only involved in the Russian effort to interfere with the election in 2016, but to also interfere in the 2020 election to try to get Trump reelected.

This is the declassified report that just came out today. Quote: We assess that President Putin and the Russian state authorized and conducted influence operations against the 2020 U.S. presidential election aimed at denigrating President Biden and the Democratic Party, supporting former president Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the United States.

Quote: We have high confidence in these judgments because a range of Russian state and proxy actors who all serve the Kremlin`s interests worked to affect U.S. public perceptions. We also have high confidence because of the consistency of themes in Russia`s influence efforts across the campaign.

Quote: A key element of Moscow`s strategy this election cycle was its use of people linked to Russian intelligence to launder influence narratives, including misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against President Biden through U.S. media organizations, U.S. officials, and prominent U.S. individuals, some of whom were close to former President Trump and his administration.

Quote: The primary effort the intelligence community uncovered revolved around a narrative that Russian actors began spreading as early as 2014, alleging corrupt ties between President Biden, his family, other U.S. officials, and Ukraine. A network of Ukraine linked individuals including Russian influence agent Konstantin Kilimnik who were also connected to Russian intelligence services took steps throughout the election cycle to damage U.S. ties to Ukraine, to denigrate President Biden and his candidacy, and to benefit former president Trump`s prospects for reelection.

We assess this network also sought to discredit the Obama administration by emphasizing accusations of corruption by U.S. officials and to falsely blame Ukraine for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election instead of Russia. Andriy Derkach, Konstantin Kilimnik and their associates sought to use prominent U.S. persons and media conduits. These Russian proxies met with and provided materials to Trump administration linked U.S. persons to advocate for formal investigations. They hired a U.S. firm to petition U.S. officials. They attempted to make contact with several senior U.S. officials. They also made contact with established U.S. media figures and helped produce a documentary that aired on a U.S. television network in January 2020.

This is the intelligence community`s unclassified report out today on Russia taking a second run at us, taking a second run at a U.S. election, again in 2020, like they did in 2016. This time to try to keep Donald Trump in the White House and to try to undermine Joe Biden`s chances of getting in.

Along the way, if they could make Americans no longer believe in the sanctity of our democracy and make us hate each other even more than we already do, so much the better, that`s icing on the cake, right? I mean, the efforts to get a documentary on U.S. television, based on Russian disinformation, to make contact with prominent U.S. persons and launder Russian disinformation against Joe Biden through prominent persons and U.S. officials and U.S. media figures, that is quite transparently about the trash and slime that Rudy Giuliani and pro-Trump Republican Congress men and senators dragged around the 2020 campaign for months, to try to make it seem like Joe Biden had some kind of Ukraine related corruption scheme staining his reputation when he did not.

Those allegations were not only false. The U.S. intelligence community has concluded they were concocted by the Russian government as deliberate disinformation to try to help Trump in 2020. Russian agents used various U.S. officials and entities to launder that disinformation. But it was directed from the Kremlin. It was directed specifically by Russian president Vladimir Putin to try to get Trump reelected.

And although he is not mentioned by name in the report, both "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" point out the obvious tonight, that Rudy Giuliani clearly is one of the major conduits for this Russian disinformation that`s described in the report, especially since one of the named Russian intelligence operatives in the report, Andriy Derkach, met repeatedly with Rudy Giuliani in 2020, fed him all sorts of material that Giuliani used in various media appearances. Giuliani continued to defend that guy even after the guy was sanctioned by the U.S. government last year as a Russian agent.

"The Post" notes tonight that Giuliani`s, quote, repeated meetings with the suspected Russian agent came under scrutiny by U.S. officials. That is true. Whatever you think about Rudy Giuliani`s efforts to launder Russian government disinformation to try to help Vladimir Putin interfere in our election on Trump`s behalf for a second time, Rudy Giuliani`s involvement in these schemes has attracted scrutiny from U.S. investigators. And frankly, that is another lit firecracker that is buzzing on the doorstep of the new Attorney General Merrick Garland right now.

I mean, put the other piece of this together with it. One of the things we know about Rudy Giuliani and part of the scrutiny that he received for his role in this foreign influence operation against our country, against our last election, one of the things we know about that, as first reported here on this show, is that SDNY prosecutors sought a search warrant for Rudy Giuliani`s electronic devices as part of the criminal investigation into Mr. Giuliani`s actions.

As we first reported, it was Trump appointees at main justice who kyboshed that and would not allow SDNY prosecutors to execute that search warrant against Giuliani.

So where does that stand now, Mr. Attorney General? I mean, the criminal investigation of the president`s attorney, Mr. Giuliani, is reportedly still a live thing. One of the things, one of the messes, the still stinking messes that the new Attorney General Merrick Garland is going to have to handle inside the Justice Department now is the from above, apparently artificial interference and shutdown of the criminal investigation into Rudy Giuliani by Trump appointees, while we now know the intelligence community was apparently hot on his heels for his role in this latest Russian attack on our country.

The Bill Barr Justice Department quashed investigative steps in the investigation into Rudy Giuliani while we now know the intelligence community had identified him as a key conduit for Putin, a Putin-directed Russian intelligence operation to interfere in our election for a second straight time. They`ve got a $250,000 reward on one of the named people involved in that scheme. Rudy Giuliani, under scrutiny for his role in that scheme. Bill Barr blocking the search warrants that were part of that investigation. What happens to that now?

Hope you`re enjoying your first week at the new job, sir. Hope it is not too stressful.

Congressman Adam Schiff, chair of the intelligence committee, joins us live next. Stay with us.


MADDOW: I guess I should have known this was coming. I definitely did not know this was coming. Apparently after all major federal elections now, we`re going to have public facing reports from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence about whether any foreign adversaries tried to interfere or influence the most recent election. By law, that`s a new requirement.

Today, we just got the first one, a new unclassified report about foreign adversaries trying to mess with this past U.S. presidential election in 2020. You might remember when Trump`s intelligence chief John Ratcliffe said everybody was paying way too much attention to Russia, Russia is fine, really it was China that was doing way worse to us, why isn`t anyone talking China, according to the intelligence community, that`s not true at all. The report today said China did not try to influence our election at all but Russia tried again full bother just like they did in 2016.

The intelligence community in today`s report describing how Russia basically laundered its influence operations through U.S. officials and prominent persons including several people close to President Trump.

Joining us now is Adam Schiff. He is the chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the House.

Sir, thank you so much for making time tonight, I really appreciate you being here.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): It`s a pleasure.

MADDOW: So I imagine that you probably had access to the classified version of this report. I`m sure that you knew that the unclassified version was coming. I didn`t, I`m stunned by the level of detail and by the schemes that are described here.

Let me just start by asking you if I`ve described any of it wrong or if I`m looking at any of this the wrong way around, as far as you can tell.

SCHIFF: No, not at all. Actually we did know it was coming because we wrote the department in our intelligence bill that they publish this report, just as we required that the report of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi be made public, that the public has a right to know and when that information can be disclosed without compromising sources, then it should.

And there was another (INAUDIBLE) purpose behind it, Rachel, which is we knew that the Trump administration was politicizing the intelligence. At you pointed out, Ratcliffe was misleading the public by hyping the threat from China. So was Bill Barr and others in the administration.

The requirement that the report be declassified was an attempt to at least try to hold them accountable so they would know at some point those deceptions would be disclosed. And here, the deception was, you know, quite breathtaking. China had not made the decision to intervene. Russia had, and it was actively engaged, including using that same Kremlin intelligence agent, Konstantin Kilimnik, who had been secretly meeting four years earlier, Paul Manafort.

What really distinguished the efforts to work with the Russians in 2020 compared to 2016 is in 2016, the Trump campaign tried to hide it. In 2020, having beaten the first impeachment trial, they were quite overt about their efforts.

MADDOW: In terms of what the public knows here, and I take your point about how much it matters to us and how much it matters in terms of accountability around these issues, that because of what you wrote into those laws, we the public are allowed to see this now, but it seems to me, and I may remember this wrong, but it seems to me that during election season, heading into 2020, the Trump administration was keeping cards quite close to the invest in terms of not briefing Congress and certainly not briefing the public about what were then ongoing foreign influence operations by Russia to try to influence the 2020 election.

They must have been aware at the time some of these influence operations were happening. Did they take steps to prevent the public from knowing what they knew because we would then recognize that some of these Russian influence operations were actually getting an assist from people close to the president?

SCHIFF: Yes. I think in briefings to Congress, some of the compromised leadership of the intelligence community gave briefings that were dissembling, that were trying to equate the threat of interference from China or Russia or elevate the threat from China over that from Russia. And we were seeing the intelligence reports, so we knew that they were misleading.

And, you know, we said publicly that we disagreed with what Bill Barr was saying and John Ratcliffe. But we couldn`t show you the evidence. Now we can. And, you know, this is what has to be guarded against in the future.

This report, these analyses, were actually written by intelligence professionals during the Trump administration but, of course, they were concealed. Now this is being put out in a very no-nonsense report. The president of the United States is preparing to bring about sanctions on Russia or its interference and other malign activities. That is as it should be.

And our best defense against this in the future, because the report makes clear the Russians haven`t stopped doing this, they`re not going to stop doing this, the best defense is for both parties to commit to reject foreign interference no matter who it helps. That consensus has been missing, was impossible with Donald Trump. We need to try to find it now.

MADDOW: If there were U.S. officials or U.S. persons who were briefed by the intelligence community or briefed by law enforcement that they were being fed disinformation that was part of a foreign influence operation targeting our election, if there were people who were warned, you are being targeted by an intelligence operation that is targeting the United States to try to influence our election, and those people, after being warned, knowingly continued to participate in those operations, is that potentially a criminal act? Is that something that those U.S. persons or indeed U.S. officials might have trouble with the criminal law about which they might have trouble with the criminal law if investigations follow along the lines of what`s described in this report?

SCHIFF: Yes, very similar to what Mueller looked at. You can commit conspiracy to defraud, for example U.S. elections, or conspiracy to violate U.S. campaign laws by receiving foreign opposition research or derogatory information whether it`s truthful or untruthful. The difficulty is in the proof.

You know, Mueller`s team had evidence, as you pointed out, that Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman for Donald Trump four years ago, was secretly meeting with Konstantin Kilimnik, an agent of the Kremlin, and giving him inside polling data from the campaign.

Now, that was at a time when the Kremlin was doing a clandestine social media campaign to help Donald Trump. And that polling data, of course, would be very useful to someone doing a clandestine social media operation to know what messages to use, to know what audiences to target, what states were critical. So they had evidence of that kind of collusion four years ago. But not enough to prove the crime of conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt.

Here someone like Rudy Giuliani may have to worry about that. But he is unlikely to have to worry about more easily proven offenses like failing to register as someone representing a foreign power or their own campaign laws. Prosecutors tend to pick the charges most easily proven.

MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, thank you for your time tonight and thank you for having made sure that we, the public, and we, the press, could see reporting like this from the intelligence community. I know you had to do that by getting it into law. But on a night like this, it`s really paying off in terms of our understanding. Thank you.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

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


MADDOW: People took pictures of the presidential motorcade from their front porches today. Others gathered in their front yards to try to get as good a look as they can.

This woman made a quick handmade sign for the president to see as he drove by. It says, thank you from AAP essential workers, which I think AAP in this instance stands for Advanced Auto Parts, judging by the logos on these women`s shirts.

President Biden drove by that thank you sign during a visit in Chester, Pennsylvania, today on his way to a flooring supply shop, all to highlight the fact that small businesses are getting financial help from the massive COVID relief bill that he just signed, he and the vice president are both fanning out across the country to try to highlight what the bill does.

The White House also announced today that the administration is upping the number of vaccine doses that are being allocated to the states. Their current rate of distribution is that within the next week, they expect more than 22 million COVID vaccines to ship out over the course of the next week to do the states. If you do the math, seven days, 22 million, that means the states are being allocated an average of more than 3 million shots a day.

If those could actually be delivered, if we could sustain a pace like that for delivering shots, that of course would be fantastic. President Biden campaigned on the promise to put 100 million shots in arms the first 100 days of his presidency. The president now says we`ll likely meet that goal quite early, within the next week or so.

And the faster, the better, for more reasons than just the obvious. Today the state of Wyoming officially lifted move their COVID restrictions of all kinds, including the statewide mask rule. Wyoming joins a growing list of mostly Republican-run states that are just flat out getting rid of all requirements around COVID including the rule that people need to wear masks when they are out and about.

That`s despite the fact that wearing a mask is still strongly recommended by the CDC. But of course there`s no nationwide mandate.

One thing I want to give you a heads up we`re going to be talking about on tomorrow night`s show, as governors, again, in mostly Republican-run states, start rescinding mask mandates, it is possible that we are about to have something that looks a little bit like a national mask mandate for workplaces. This is something that`s not getting a lot of attention particularly from the beltway press. But it appears to be pretty imminent.

And we`re going to be talking about that in a special report on tomorrow night`s show, about a coming conflict between Republican states that don`t want to mandate masks and a federal rule that`s about to go into effect that basically will force it.

Stay with us. More ahead.


MADDOW: So we have been watching for new developments of the course of this hour that we have been on the air. We do have an update for you on the breaking news that we covered at the top of the hour.

Eight people have been shot and killed in the Atlanta metro area in Georgia tonight. The shootings took place at three different locations, three different massage parlors. Police say a shooter killed four people at the first location, a massage parlor in Cherokee County. A massage parlor called Young`s Asian Massage. It`s about 45 minutes north of Atlanta.

And then about an hour later, there were shootings at two more day spas, massage parlors. This time in Atlanta itself, these two spas across the street from one another, four more people were shot and killed at the two additional spas. Eight people dead.

Police have not identified a motive but it is impossible to overlook that the majority of the employees at the local businesses of Asian descent. It comes at a time in our country when hate crimes against Asian-Americans have radically increased and we don`t know if that`s what this is but that context is hard to ignore as we are continuing to learn about this spree of crimes.

You may remember President Biden in his prime time address last week condemning the recent rash of hate crimes against Asians and why it`s stomach churning is that we know from police is of the eight people killed at these three locations at least four of the eight people shot and killed are women of Asian descent.

Police do have a suspect in custody tonight. NBC affiliate in Atlanta is reporting it`s a suspect not just in the first shooting that occurred in Cherokee County where four people were killed but also a suspect in the two additional shootings next within hour in Atlanta.

Again, this story continues to develop. We`ll bring you more as we know more. Stay with us.


MADDOW: This has been a very, very busy news night. It looks like it`s going to continue to be so throughout the night.

But that does it for us at least for now.


Good evening, Lawrence.