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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 3/23/21

Guests: Joe Neguse, LaTosha Brown

Summary

Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse is interviewed. Republicans in Georgia plan to combine all these voter suppression proposals into one big voter suppression bill before the state`s deadline eight days from now to pass legislation this year.

Transcript

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. Thanks, my friend. Appreciate it.

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

After the shootings, the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut in 2012, President Obama asked the then Vice President Joe Biden to lead a task force for the Obama administration on potential reforms to gun laws and gun policies, to try to find a way to advance gun safety somehow, to try to find a way around the obstacles that have made any kind of progress on that issue completely politically impossible since the early 2000s. All the while, the country was experiencing more and more and more increasingly horrific single shooter mass killings, gun massacres every year, while it became increasingly impossible to do absolutely anything in response to that.

President Obama put Joe Biden, then vice president, in charge of leading a task force in the Obama administration, to try to find a way around the obstacles that have made progress impossible, to try to figure out what could be done.

President Biden took charge of that and they moved very, very fast. It was December 14th 2012 when the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting happened, 26 little kids and teachers and school staff. That was a Friday, December 14th.

Before the next week was up, the following Thursday on December 20th, then Vice President Joe Biden had already started convening the first meetings in Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, THEN-VICE PRESIDENT: The president asked me to convene this meeting with you and we`ll be talking with others as well, because we have to have a comprehensive way in which to respond to the mass murder of our children, and we saw in Connecticut, you`re the first with whom when a president giving this charge along with some of our cabinet colleagues here. You`re the first group I wanted to speak with.

So what I`d like to do is the president is absolutely committed to keeping his promise that we will act and we`ll act in a way that is designed, even if he says we can only save one life. We have to take action. There are a number of things you know because I`ve spoken with you all for sew many years and continue that relationship over the past four years that there`s some things we can immediately do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Then Vice President Joe Biden. That was less than a week after the elementary secrete massacre in December, 2012. That was only six days after it happened. It`s convening that first meeting, in that case with law enforcement officials. That was the first meeting of that task force that he held but then he worked like a whirlwind on it. The pace of it, looking back, is -- I had forgotten how quickly it moved before I went back and looked at the timeline.

Here`s how "The Washington Post" described it. Just the following month in January 2013. They said, quote, in the 33 days after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, gun control rocketed through what one administration official called a time warp, transforming from an issue that was politically off limits to one at the top of Obama`s agenda.

At the center of the transformation was the Biden-led task force. It held 22 meetings, most of them in the same week, many of them over two hours long, Biden furiously scribbling notes in a black leather-bound spiral notebook. The group collected ideas from 229 organization, or as Biden put it last week, quote, reviewing just about every idea that has been written up only to gather dust on the shelf of some agency.

"The Post" continues, quote, the vice president placed phone calls, too, including one 45-month chat one night with the parents of a student who died at Sandy Hook. One administration said, quote, it was like watching an entire term of Senate hearings compressed into a week. Biden was gently interrogating witnesses, following up, finding common ground, finding discrepancies.

Again, that`s 33 days after Sandy Hook happened. In the end, the Biden task force moving incredibly quickly, meeting with everybody from law enforcement in that first meeting to clergy to families of gun violence victories to the NRA. Biden took an NRA meeting. He met with hunting groups, one of which gave him a duck decoy at the meeting. He even met with video game manufacturers.

All those different people being brought into the discussion at the end of all of it, a month into it, they recommended 23 different actions to try to increase gun safety, to try to reduce the number of Americans being killed by guns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I have no illusions about what we`re up against or how hard the task is in front of us, but I also have never seen the nation`s conscience so shaken by what happened in Sandy Hook. The world has changed and it`s demanding action. And so, in this context, the president asked me to put together along with cabinet members a set of recommendations about how we should proceed to meet that moral obligation that we have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: That moral obligation. That was January 2013. That was just a month after the Sandy Hook killings.

And Vice President Biden led this whirlwind incredibly intense, incredibly intensive process, and at the end of three days, had a set of 23 recommendations, from new federal research funding to things that can only be done by Congress, things that can only be done through legislation. President Obama himself stood next to Vice President Biden as he explained the recommendations. And then the president talked about the one, single, simplest, smallest thing that could be done by legislation, something with more than 90 percent support among the American people, something that had massive support, more than 70 percent support even among members of the NRA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: It`s time for Congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun.

(APPLAUSE)

The law already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks and over the last 14 years, that`s kept 1.5 million of the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun, but it`s hard to enforce that law when as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check. That`s not safe, that`s not smart, it`s not fair to responsible gun buyers or sellers.

If I want to buy a gun, whether it`s from a licensed dealer or a private seller, you should at least have to show you`re not a felon or somebody legally prohibited from buying one. This is common sense. An overwhelming majority of Americans agree with us on the need for universal background checks, including more than 70 percent of the National Rifle Association`s members, according to one survey. So, there`s no reason we can`t do this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: There`s no reason that we can`t do this, he says. There`s no reason we can`t do it, except apparently, that we cannot do.

You might remember how this all unfolded. You`re fore given if it`s blurred together during the years because of the way these things resolve. Remember how this happened. After Sandy Hook, Vice President Biden put in charge of a task force which moves with incredible alacrity, incredible speed to come up with concrete proposals for things that can be done to try to reduce the number of people killed by guns in this country.

President Obama proposed just what you heard there, universal background checks, background checks should be run on the buyer anytime anybody wants to buy a gun in this country, 90 percent plus support for that among American people.

It`s simple. You have to have a background check if you want to buy a gun. That`s a simple idea. Overwhelming support, near unanimous support among the American people but Republicans in Congress, including Republicans in the Senate are not among that 90 percent-plus, apparently and decided they would go for something even lower than that smallest symbol of goal.

Conservative Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Pat Toomey, both with A ratings from the NRA, they said they wouldn`t pursue, they wouldn`t allow the pursuit of a simple rule that there ought to be a background check to buy a gun. Instead, they had their own idea and said they could get it done. They had their own way.

They had something that they said they could pass. We wouldn`t do more than what 90 percent of the country wanted to do. We instead just do a tiny little piece of it because they said so.

So instead of that simple thing, saying you have to have a background check, full shot, Senator Manchin and Senator Toomey said, no, no, we think that`s a terrible idea. We`re against that. We know 90 percent of the people are for it, we`re against it. But our idea is that the law will change to just say you have to have a background check if you buy a gun at a gun show or on the Internet. Only extend background checks that far. Gun show purchases, internet purchases, that`s it.

It is hard to imagine a smaller reform. But that is what they said they would do. That is what they said they could do. And so, the rest of the country, again, more than 90 percent just want freaking background checks for gun sales, full stop, the rest of the country stood back and took very credible senators pursue this basically rinky-dink reform instead. They said that was something they could get done and they failed. They couldn`t even get that done, not through the United States senate, not even right after the Sandy Hook massacre.

Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey were convinced, they convinced the whole political class that they had magic gravitas on this issue to show that the legislative process in the United States Senate can be trusted to work to do at least the smallest imaginable thing in an issue of overwhelming public concern. They were wrong. They could not even do that one pitiful thing.

Not in the United States senate. Not with filibuster rules in place that say a majority vote doesn`t count. So nothing happened in American law. No law change. Nothing made it through Congress.

In the final year of his presidency, President Obama was still not just expressing regret about that, still not just exhibiting a rare for him show of anger about that. In the final year of his presidency, he was still actively emotional about that years later.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Second Amendment rights are important. But there are other rights we care about as well. We have to be able to balance them. Because our right to worship freely and safely, that right was denied to Christians in Charleston, South Carolina, and that was denied Jews in Kansas City, and that was Muslims in Chapel Hill, and Sikhs in Oak Creek. They had rights, too.

(APPLAUSE)

Our right to peaceful assembly, that right was robbed from moviegoers in Aurora and Lafayette. Our inalienable right to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, those rights were stripped from college kids in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara, and from high schoolers at Columbine, and from first graders in Newtown, first graders.

And from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun. Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was President Obama in 2016, emotionally reflecting on the fact that even after the murder of all those six-year-olds at Sandy Hook, even after all those other mass murders of dozens of Americans all killed by individual shooters legally armed to the teeth, even with all that -- no, the United States Senate insists there can be no changes, no reforms.

Joe Manchin insisted after Sandy Hook in 2012 that he was the one who could do it, that he would show that the United States Senate was not broken, and it could absolutely do its job on this issue as long as you let someone like him define the job that was to be done. Just as long as you let someone like him lead the way. Just as long as you let somebody like him work with other senators like him who had so much credibility in the gun lobby.

We can`t do anything more ambition than what he wants and what they want. But watch what they can do when they finally decide to work on this, right? Because people like Joe Manchin said there`s some credibility on this issue, they could get things done. Things that we all agree should be done. Just watch.

The Senate can work on this issue when it needs to. Just watch. Just put things in the hands of the senators who disagree with 90 plus percent of the American public on this.

The senators who represent the fringiest, smallest, most hard-line, vestigial, ancient paleo politics position on this, they`re the only ones with credibility on this issue. They`re the ones who decide what`s possible and they will show that the U.S. sent in isn`t broken, that things can be done, as long as they decide what those things are. Watch.

Everything else stopped. All that momentum after what happened in this country, after Sandy Hook, the out-flowing of emotion after Sandy Hook, all of the momentum that was taken by the administration, all of the public desperation to do something. Joe Manchin said give that to me. I`m the one. I`m -- my way, this is the way we`ll get things done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: What we watched today really involved only one piece of what`s been a big complex debate about guns and it includes just a few senators. Yet, the impact seems so much larger in part pause of the emotion that helped make it happen.

Driven by their loss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like I carry my daughter`s spirit when I got into these meetings. I wanted them to hear me as a mother. I asked them if they could please give me something I can tell my son.

REPORTER: Surrounded by Newtown families to talk about today`s break- through on background checks but only a whisper could come forth.

Manchin, a Democrat partnered with Pat Toomey, a Republican, both A-rated by the NRA, to forge a compromise today.

SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-PA): I think the substance of the bill makes a lot of sense. To me, this isn`t gun control. This is common sense.

REPORTER: Under the plan, background checks combined to cover buyers at gun shows and shopping on the Internet, just like those already required when buying from licensed dealers. The law would not affect individuals who privately buy, sell or give their weapons to family, friends, or even strangers.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): This is something that`s so right, and it does so much good and to will prevent people who shouldn`t have a gun from having it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: He could not get that done. Something that`s so right, it does so much good, he couldn`t get that done. And now he is insisting that he is the one who has to be trusted with this task again, because he will not allow anybody else`s ideas to move forward.

The alleged shooter in the Boulder, Colorado, massacre today was released from the hospital after receiving medical treatment and is now at the Boulder county jail charged with ten counts of murder. He is 21 years old.

He was born the same week at the Columbine high school massacre in 1999. When Columbine happened, it felt like the world stopped and it would never start up the same way again. Thirteen people killed at Columbine high school in 1999.

Again, it felt like the biggest news we`d know for a decade, right? But the country would continue to have mass shootings at actually an accelerating pace.

In 2012, just before the Sandy Hook massacre, it was Aurora, Colorado, a massacre in a movie theater that left dozens of people shot and wounded, left 12 people killed.

But actually, the Colorado experience shows that the Joe Manchin don`t actually do anything plan is not the only option. And when we hear from senators like Joe Manchin that we can do nothing else, we have to put it in his hands, despite all the ways he`s failed in the past, you can look at a state like Colorado and say, actually, there are other options we could try. At the time of the Aurora killings, the governor of Colorado was a moderate man, John Hickenlooper, not exactly a champion of gun reforms at all.

But after Aurora, he came to believe that some common sense popular gun reforms were not only necessary, they were possible, and it`s worth doing. And Governor Hickenlooper announced his support for new gun safety reforms in Colorado state law. He announced it in December 2012 just a few days before the Sandy Hook shooting happened. That, of course, focused the whole country`s attention, but Colorado was already moving.

In Colorado, they did pass new laws. Nothing radical, but common sense changes that were very, very popular with the public, including limiting high capacity ammunition magazines and yes, requiring background checks.

The Republicans and the gun lobby went nuts and vowed revenge. They did get some of that. Two Democratic senators who supported those reforms were recalled from office, two of them. The year after those gun reforms were signed by Governor Hickenlooper the following year 2013 and again in 2016, Republicans took control of the Colorado state senate.

But in 2014, John Hickenlooper was also elected as Colorado governor, and in 2018, Democrats won back the Colorado state senate. One incumbent was ousted from his seat. He lost his seat and by a lot to the father of a young man who was killed in the Aurora massacre. A gun lobby Republicans who had won the recall effort against those other two Democrats in the state senate who had supported gun reforms, those gun lobbyists went after Representative Sullivan as well but those attempts failed. Last week, Representative Sullivan he was just reelected.

Colorado is now represented in the United States Senate by Senator Michael Bennet and by Senator John Hickenlooper, the former governor. In order to get his seat in the U.S. senate, Senator Hickenlooper ousted pro-NRA incumbent Republican Senator Corey Gardner last year.

Senator Hickenlooper and Senator Bennet said today in the wake of the Boulder massacre that they support national reforms to support gun policy nationwide. A lot of Democratic senators are saying that today. When you hear that from Colorado, Senator Hickenlooper has lived through what it means to not only say that but to do it, to show that, yeah, you might rattle some cages when you do it but if you`ve got a the vast support of the people on your side, it will be viewed as the right thing to do, despite the fact that you will have opposition. And if you do it, there`s no guarantee in life. There`s no guarantee in politics that your career will thrive but Hickenlooper has show that it can.

Today, President Biden is calling once again for action for the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I don`t need to wait another minute let alone an hour to take common sense steps that will save lives in the future and urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act. We can ban assault weapons, and high capacity magazines in this country once again.

I got that done when I was a senator. It passed. It was law for the longest time. And it brought down these mass killings.

We should do it again. We can close the loopholes in our background check system including the Charleston loophole. That`s one of the best tools we have right now to prevent gun violence.

The Senate should immediately pass -- let me say it again. The United States Senate -- I hope some are listening -- should immediately pass the two House passed bills that close loopholes in the background check system. These are bills that receive votes of both Republicans and Democrats in the House.

This is not and should not be a partisan issue. This is an American issue. It will save lives, American lives. And we have to act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: We have to act. But he`s talking to the United States Senate there. And Joe Manchin, the senator from West Virginia, he will not ask, even after the humiliation and what he dragged the country through in 2013. Manchin reiterated today that he doesn`t support background checks for all gun sales, which is something that has already passed the House. It passed the house even with some Republican support, which means Joe Manchin is to the right of House Republicans on the issue of background checks which more than 90 percent of Americans and more than 70 percent of NRA members continue to support.

If he alone changed his mind on this and decided that he really does care about this, that actually probably would be enough to get that one reform over the finish line, which if he changed his stance on the bill itself, if he found it in his heart to support background checks. Given that, and his stamps on keeping the filibuster rule in place so that majority votes don`t count even for his own legislation, those two issues alone, Joe Manchin holds the fate of this in his hands. He promised this was an issue that moved him, in tears, as a parent, as a grand parent, he promised that he could get it done.

He could get it done, actually, now, if he wanted to. I mean, even now with the NRA almost dissolved in disgrace and in bankruptcy, instead of doing what he says he wants to do, he will do what the NRA wants instead. Not even the NRA`s members want that but Joe Manchin does.

And because of that he personally will stop the whole country from getting any substantive relief from this thing that plagues us still. And because of that, because the United States is broken in that particularly way, it will likely almost certainly come down again to whatever the president now President Biden can do on his own without Congress, which is not much.

And that is because the United States Senate does not work, even for things that more than 90 percent of the country wants done, even for things that tear our hearts apart this much and that agree on this much, even when we seem to agree on anything else. The United States Senate does not work in large part because of Democrats like Joe Manchin. And because of that we can`t do anything substantive as a country on this issue, despite senators like Joe Manchin saying this means a lot to them.

There`s a lot going on right now, including in Washington. Former First Lady Michelle Obama has tonight published a powerful call on the Senate to pass the federal rights voting bill that has passed the house and is pending before the Senate. She`s calling on them to change the filibuster if need be, in order to do that. We`re going to have a report coming up tonight on the real urgency behind that right now, something that happened last night and tonight and is going to continue to happen this week that ought to be on the national radar in terms of the urgency for that federal voting rights bill.

We`ve also got reporting ahead on a real problem at the Justice Department with a Bill Barr appointee, a sort of leftover in the Justice Department from the Trump era who has screwed up in a way that may screw up all of the January 6th Capitol rioter prosecutions.

A lot to come tonight. We`re going to speak with Congressman Joe Neguse tonight who represents Boulder, Colorado, where the shootings happened yesterday.

Lots to come tonight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): There`s a lot that we don`t know. There`s a lot still unfolding from yesterday`s events. But let me simply say this. This cannot be our new normal.

We should be able to feel safe in our grocery stores. We should be able to feel safe in our schools, in our movie theaters, and in our communities. We need to see a change, because we have lost far too many lives.

As I said, I`ve lived in Boulder County for many years and one thing I am sure of is this, our community is strong, it is kind, it is compassionate, and it is resilient. And we will get through this together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse speaking about yesterday`s mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado. At that press conference, police released the names of the ten people who were killed in the massacre. They range in age from 20 to 65.

They also disclosed the name to have the 21-year-old suspect who`s in jail after being treated at the hospital yesterday for a gunshot wound. He faces ten counts of murder in the first degree.

Joining us now is Congressman Joe Neguse who represents Colorado Second District, which includes Boulder. He grew up in Boulder, has been serving his community there for years.

Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. I`m so sorry for what Boulder is going through right now.

NEGUSE: Thank you, Rachel. I appreciate it.

MADDOW: One of the things that has been difficult even just nationally looking in on this disaster is how long it has taken to get basic information about what happened. There was a long delay, obviously, a chaotic scene and an emotional one for police, who lost one of their own along the way. And then the late night news that it was worse than initially reported had suggested.

Now that we have a sense of the scale of this catastrophe, I have to just ask how you think your constituents are doing, how Boulder is doing today?

NEGUSE: They`re hurting, Rachel. They are hurting. It`s been a devastating 36 hours for our community here in Boulder, for our state and for our country.

The loss of life is truly unimaginable. But when you consider the ten people who lost their lives yesterday, people who were friends or family members, brothers, sisters, neighbors, treasured community members, each of whom lost their lives, and the families who woke up this morning without their loved ones, that pain, that anguish is just too hard to fathom.

So, our community is grieving. And it`s going to take a while. There will be very difficult days, weeks, and months ahead as we grieve with those families and, of course, with Officer Talley`s family, an officer who bravely gave his life and his heroism saved lives. It`s just a heartbreaking tragedy.

MADDOW: I think that it is heartbreaking for anybody looking in on this, particularly those who can emphasize with it, because there have been mass shootings chose to them or their communities. And there are so many Americans in that circumstance. I think we are also becoming a little bit hard-hearted about these things when we think about whether or not we`ll ever adapt as a community and as a country to try to stop things like this from happening in the future.

We lament these things. We tear ourselves up about them. But I feel like we were sort of dissolving into a bipartisan hard hearted system that it`s worth trying to reform gun laws, trying to reform the kind of policies and processes around gun ownership and gun transfers and ammunition purchases and things like that. That might make a difference. How are you feeling on that scale today?

NEGUSE: I`m frustrated. You know, I have to say, Rachel, I -- you`re -- the frustration I can hear in your opening remarks on the program resonated with me and I think resonated with a whole lot of Americans, certainly many of my constituents who I`ve spoken to in the last day and a half.

Folks are upset, they are grieving, they are angry at the up action of the federal government in taking gun violence seriously. There is clearly a gun violence crisis in our country that has been metastasizing year after year, decade after decade.

You mentioned Columbine high school. I was 14 years old when that massacre at Columbine occurred. And to think it`s been 21 years and the reality, the federal government has done virtually nothing to address the pervasive gun violence that hit literally our home community just last night, it`s difficult to fathom.

And we can`t at the end of the day accept failure and inaction as an option. I think we have to press forward and I`m certainly going to press forward with my colleagues to make sure we pass common sense gun violence reform. Its time has come. I think the American people have to say enough is enough and we`re not going to accept inaction.

MADDOW: You, by dent of this tragedy, will now become one of the informal caucus in Congress, and there are many members of that caucus where your district has been marred by an act of national significance, a mass murder, a mass -- act of mass gun violence in your district. And when these things happen in the future, you will be called upon to speak as the representative of a community that struggled through one of these things.

It does feel like the moral authority, which you gain here, of course, will come at a cost in handling this tragedy, but you will have a voice from here on out in terms of talking about how the country should handle these things.

When you hear frustration from people like me, when you hear frustration from your constituents about the Senate being the place where these things go to die, is that livened at all for you by any hope that it actually will change in the Senate, that hearts might change, that the Senate might get their gumption together, to get rid of the filibuster role that stopped these things. Are you hopeful that things could move?

NEGUSE: I am, Rachel. I am. I have to be.

You know, I firmly believe public opinion has trended in the direction of support for these broadly popular provisions that we have been discussing like universal background checks as an example. I intend to reach out to every single United States senator about why we need to enact common sense gun violence reform legislation. I believe -- I truly believe that we can make this happen, that we can get it done.

For those who doubt that, I would simply say in the last year, Rachel, in February of last year, I had an opportunity foe attend the president`s State of the Union. I brought as my guest, Tom Mauser. He tragically lost his son Daniel during the Columbine High School shooting. Daniel was my age when he lost his life.

And Tom refused to give up. He spent the better of the next year and a half campaigning for amendment 22. It`s an amendment that ultimately passed in our state, closing the gun show loophole. You articulated in great detail the various steps that Colorado has taken over the course of the last two decades. There`s more work to do, but we have to be hopeful that this is a problem, a crisis that we can solve, because there`s simply no excuses to not doing so. And my constituents are tired of excuses.

MADDOW: Congressman Joe Neguse, who represents Boulder -- sir, thank you so much for your time tonight and this chance to talk with you. I know it`s a really difficult time. Thanks for being here.

NEGUSE: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Hearing him say that, you know, you want -- you want public servants, particularly young, incredibly talented public servants, like Congressman Neguse, I`m talking about his behind his back, you want people with talent and ambition and values and the kind of communication skills that somebody like that has.

But you do actually want public servants with hope, right? You want people who believe even against the kind of circumstances that I`ve been describing here tonight, the sort of, you know, brick wall that we`ve run into so many times in this country, despite the public will to do something, you want people in positions of power and people who are ascendant in politics who believe that stuff can get done.

Anyway, we`ll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: With not one but two terrible mass shootings within the span of a week, debate in Congress is shifting to whether or not Democrats will change the filibuster rules in the Senate so we can finally have some gun safety reforms as a country, because of where almost all Republicans stand on this issue, if Senate Democrats don`t at least try, it is basically guaranteed there will be no gun reform at all.

There will also be no move to protect voting rights at all. Last night during a private call between President Biden and Senate Democrats, Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock reportedly raised with the president the urgent need for the Senate to pass national voting rights legislation to counter efforts by Republicans in his state and others to radically restrict voting rights. And that led apparently in this discussion between the president and Senate Democrats to a discussion during that call about reform of the filibuster.

If Democrats aren`t going to do anything to stop Republicans nationwide from rolling back voting rights, they`re going to have to do it soon if it`s going to have an effect in Georgia. Earlier this month, both the Georgia House of Representatives and the Senate passed a bunch of bills to try to make voting harder. In just the past 24 hours, two of those proposals made their way out of committee and are now ready to be voted into law. These bills will do everything from adding absentee ballot voter ID requirements, to limiting drop boxes, to disqualifying provisional ballots, to making it illegal to hand out water to people who are waiting in long lines to vote.

Republicans in Georgia plan to combine all these voter suppression proposals into one big voter suppression bill before the state`s deadline eight days from now to pass legislation this year. They want to get on the governor`s desk for him to sign right away within the next few days.

What`s going on in Georgia or nationally over the next eight days that might derail this speeding train?

Joining us once again is LaTosha Brown. She`s cofounder of Black Voters Matter, a group that`s been campaigning to get Georgia-based companies, businesses, to come out against this wave of state legislation to restrict voting rights.

Ms. Brown, thank you so much for being with us. It`s nice to have you back.

LATOSHA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTERS MATTER: Thank you for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: So I asked the last time that you were here if you would come back and keep us apprised because it did feel like this was going to move fast when it started moving. I`m now making good on that. And I`d like to ask you to get us up to speed about where things are and how fast this is going.

BROWN: It`s moving pretty fast. You know, what we hear is they are very deeply disappointed in is it seems like the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce cut a deal with Republicans who actually met with Republicans, according to the minority Democrat leader, didn`t bother to meet the Democrats in Congress. And on deal with SB, Senate bill 202, which is devastating. That`s a bill that actually cuts out Sunday voting on -- new omnibus bill on -- during runoffs and some of the things that you raised, including the most egregious part of it, is that it gives whoever the -- it gives the Republicans whoever`s in power authority over the board of elections.

So, quite frankly, if they don`t like the results, they can do a recall and cancel elections, but -- the results. So that is part of the problem that`s all predicated on this big lie that Trump made. So, right now, what we`re seeing is organizations like ours, the New Georgia Project, Action PAC, NAACP, there are 400 ministers that met on Friday. They delivered a letter to Governor Brian Kemp`s office, saying that this is egregious and that we want to see him veto this bill that this bill should not advance.

Black voters and voters in the state should not be punished because they use their civil rights in this last election cycle.

MADDOW: You mentioned one change that I think is worth pausing on and going back to for a second. This idea that the Republicans in the state legislate your in this new legislation that they want to pass, they would have the authority to remove local elections boards and local elections supervisors if this bill passes.

I mean, if you think about what they would have done with that power after the 2020 election, the way that President Trump and President Trump`s supporters and Republicans pressure to try to stop the certification and votes in individual counties, to try to reverse the vote count, to try to undermine those things at the local level, this legislation they`re passing would have given Republicans around the legislature the ability potentially to stop individual counties from certifying the vote. They could replace whole local election boards and just say, no, no, we`re putting on our people there.

BROWN: Absolutely. It would have been devastating. The outcome would have I believe totally different.

And so, as we`re going forward, it`s so anti-democratic. So, you know, it`s interesting. Today -- on today, this is 155 years when Andrew Johnson actually as president of this country vetoes the civil rights bill that was ultimately was overridden a couple of days later, but we`re still 155 years later fighting for the basic right to vote.

This is not a partisan issue. This should be a basic civil right issue.

MADDOW: LaTosha Brown, the co-founder of Black Voters Matter, thank you for your time. Thank you also for keeping our focus, for keeping us honest on this issue about what Georgia businesses are doing here. Their public platitudes to the contrary, their actual actions here being closely monitored by you and other groups in the state are keeping the national media honest on this in the way that I think we couldn`t be without your close watching. Thank you for helping us understand.

BROWN: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

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

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MADDOW: The Justice Department is having an uh-oh moment involving the guy who until a couple days ago, was in charge of the investigation on the January 6 attack on the Capitol. That is a bad thing to be screwed up by a former Trump Justice Department official. But that`s what`s happening.

The former U.S. attorney decided as he was leaving office this past week, that he would go on national television and publicly speculate about what further charges prosecutors might bring against the Capitol rioters. His name is Michael Sherwin and he went on "60 Minutes" and said that he thinks federal prosecutors probably bring sedition charges against some of the people who are currently charged in big conspiracy cases for their actions at the Capitol.

He said, quote, I believe the facts do support those charges. And he talked about what the evidence is ultimately pointing at in terms of potential future charges.

You are not supposed to do that. There are very clear Justice Department rules about not making statements about charged individuals and pending cases, including potential future charges or the quality or nature of the evidence, the merits of potential charges.

You don`t talk about those things in the press because people don`t get tried in the press. You only make comments like that in official proceedings in court, not on TV.

Michael Sherwin apparently didn`t know that?

Justice Department veterans immediately raised red flags about that interview. We then learned that Sherwin apparently did this interview without permission from the Justice Department, where officials were reportedly, quote, infuriated by his interview.

Now today, it was starting to see the repercussions play out in court, in cases involving Capitol rioters. One Proud Boys leader citing Sherwin`s comments in a court filing today, opposing the government`s attempt to put him in jail, pending trial.

The judge in another conspiracy case called an emergency hearing today on six hours` notice specifically to make all the lawyers in the case discuss Sherwin`s comments. The judge told the lawyers, I`m surprised, and I`m being restrained in my use of terminology, surprised to say the least to see Mr. Sherwin sitting for an interview about a pending case, in an ongoing criminal investigation. These types of statements in the media have the potential of affecting the jury pool, and the rights of these defendants, and the government, quite frankly, in my view should know better.

The judge said, let this hearing serve as notice on the Justice Department that I will not tolerate continued publicity in the media that I believe affects the fair trial rights of these defendants.

The D.C. U.S. attorney`s office said the head of the criminal decision, he told the judge, quote, the Justice Department has rules and procedures that govern contact with the media and interviews. As far as we can determine at this point, the rules and procedures were not complied with respect to the "60 Minutes" interview. Therefore, that matter has referred to the Justice Department`s Office of Professional Responsibility to review.

So Michael Sherwin, this Bill Barr appointee who was acting D.C. U.S. attorney when the Capitol happened. So he took control from the first days. He is no longer acting U.S. attorney in D.C. but he is still a Justice Department employee. He is still subject to internal investigation and potential discipline by the Justice Department. He is now investigated for having given this media interview about pending cases.

Whatever happens to him personally as a repercussion for this bone-headed move, what he did can`t be undone when it comes to all these ongoing criminal cases. The Justice Department has to deal with the repercussions. It should be noted the judge also took the Justice Department to task for a "New York Times" article which cited anonymous law enforcement officials discussing the case, Justice Department officials said they opened an investigation into that article too, which means the Justice Department`s problems with its employees, talking to the media about pending Capitol riot cases goes behind Michael Sherwin.

But the Michael Sherwin problem is a really bad one. Is the Justice Department going to get it under control so they can try the cases without more surprises?

I hate to say it, but watch this space.

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MADDOW: That is going to do it for us tonight. Very happy to have you with us tonight.

I`ll see you again tomorrow night the same bat time, same bat channel.

Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."

Good evening, Lawrence.