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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 3/24/21

Guests: Amy Klobuchar, Kim Janey


Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is interviewed. Mayor Kim Janey of Boston is interviewed.


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

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. A lot to get to this hour. This is going to be a busy show and a big one.

In the Obama administration, the issue of gun violence, specifically the idea of gun violence being treated as a public health issue, that almost derailed President Obama`s nomination for surgeon general, a doctor named Vivek Murthy. Republicans held up Vivek Murthy`s nomination for basically a year in order to try to make some sort of scapegoat out of him for the NRA.

Despite that year delay, Vivek Murthy was ultimately confirmed and he served as surgeon general under President Obama. He served as surgeon general in fact until President Trump fired Dr. Murthy from that job in 2017.

Well, President Biden has just brought Vivek Murthy back to be surgeon general again. He was confirmed by the Senate last night. He should be sworn in soon.

Tonight, the Senate also confirmed the official who will be Vivek Murthy`s boss at the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Rachel Levine was confirmed tonight to be assistant secretary of health. That is a history- making appointment. Dr. Levine is now the first transgender official to ever be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the highest ranking transgender U.S. government official in history. She will be the number two official at HHS.

All Republicans except two voted against her nomination, only Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski voted for her. So she`ll be Vivek Murthy`s boss.

Dr. Levine`s boss at HHS will, of course, be the new secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra. He was also recently confirmed. He will be sworn in soon. No Republican senators voted for him at all, but Democrats were nevertheless able to confirm him on a party-line vote.

In order to become health secretary, Mr. Becerra had to leave his previous job which was attorney general of the state of California and there had been a bunch of discussion that Congressman Adam Schiff of California, frequent guest on the show, he had such a high profile role particularly in the first impeachment of President Trump, there`d been lots of discussion that Congressman Adam Schiff might replace Xavier Becerra. He might get appointed to be California attorney general once Becerra got confirmed for his cabinet position in Washington.

Well, today, we learned that Congressman Adam Schiff will not be going home to California to take that job. He will stay in D.C as a congressman and an important one as chair of the Intelligence Committee.

Instead of him, California`s governor picked for the new attorney general job in California, a man named Rob Bonta. He is a state representative in California. He will now become the first ever Filipino American to have that very powerful gig attorney general of the most populous state in the country.

At the Justice Department in Washington, though, there`s trouble. We`ve been reporting for weeks now, for months now, on how the Trump presidency and the tenure of Attorney General Bill Barr really ripped the U.S. Justice Department apart at the seams in some important ways.

President Biden`s new attorney general, Merrick Garland, he has been confirmed. He is in position now, but he`s not just got the hard work to do of running federal law enforcement as attorney general. He`s now got to figure out what to do with all of the Trump and Bill Barr era scandals that are still straggling around the halls of Main Justice. You know, dragging their entrails down the hall. I mean, where do you start?

At least four different Trump cabinet secretaries we now know, at least four of them were referred to the Justice Department for potential criminal prosecution for various kinds of corruption four cabinet officials, and all of those criminal referrals were dismissed out of hand instantly. Criminal cases of course against the president`s friends or against people who could conceivably testify against President Trump in their criminal trials, those cases suddenly dropped by the Justice Department or interfered with at sentencing by the Justice Department even after guilty pleas were entered, even after convictions were handed down by juries.

The president`s personal lawyer not the one who went to prison, the other one, the president`s personal lawyer of late implicated in both of the scandals for which the president was impeached. Mr. Giuliani, the subject of an active federal criminal investigation but the U.S. attorney`s office investigating him was blocked from getting search warrants for Mr. Giuliani in conjunction with that case, thanks to direct interference from Trump appointees at the highest levels of the DOJ, reaching down and stopping search warrants being issued in the criminal investigation of Rudy Giuliani.

I mean, that`s not okay. It`s not just a mess there to clean up like it isn`t a bunch of cabinet level agencies after the Trump administration. At the Justice Department in particular, it`s not just a mess left over. It is an ongoing mess. It`s not just past scandals that need attending to it`s current cases that have been tampered with along the way during the Trump era.

It`s interference in law enforcement that still needs to be ferreted out, fixed and potentially prosecuted as corruption in its own right. It is a huge complex really bad problem that the Biden administration has had foisted on it, and I don`t think it`s getting nearly enough attention frankly. And this is like, you know, you loaned somebody your car for a week they did give it back at the end of the week, but now, you know, while you need your car to get to school and get to work and do your errands and stuff, it turns out the guy you lent it to spent the time that he had it pouring sugar in the gas tank and stripping off all the wiring and inviting an extended family of raccoons and squirrels to live permanently in the back seat and make nests.

Hey, Merrick, here`s your car back. Thanks for the loan. Hope it`s still cool that that`s going to be your daily driver and your commuter car. Watch out the squirrel`s fight.

I mean, we have to use the Justice Department for stuff.

So, yeah, this is about what the last administration did but it is a current problem and for all the help that Attorney General Merrick Garland is going to need handling that disaster and digging out from it, I mean, just this week, the Bill Barr appointee who inexplicably got put in charge of the U.S. Attorney`s Office in D.C., just this week he appears to have actively screwed up potentially all the most serious prosecutions of alleged January 6th U.S. Capitol attackers. He did that this wee, even now the Trump folks that left over at the Justice Department are still messing stuff up, really serious stuff that`s at the top of the priorities list for Garland.

So, for all of the help that Merrick Garland is going to need in cleaning this up and riding the ship at the Justice Department, so far -- this is important -- he has none of his senior staff in place to help him get a hold of things there. None of them, he`s been confirmed, yes, but nobody else. Republicans have blocked all the other appointees at senior posts at the Justice Department so far, including one that`s coming to a head tomorrow morning.

And I`m going to be watching that when it comes to a head tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. in the Senate and I will tell you why.

Here`s the thing to know. This is Swisher County, Texas. It`s up in the Texas Panhandle. Amarillo is an hour due north, Lubbock is an hour due south, from the county seat in little Swisher County which is called Tulia. Tulia, Texas, does that name ring a bell for you?

Even if you have no connection to Texas at all, and you don`t know the name of every little town of 5,000 people in Texas, the name Tulia, Texas, might ring a bell for you if for example you ever watch "60 Minutes" on CBS, since Tulia, Texas, was the subject of one of the most astonishing interviews the great Ed Bradley ever put on TV as part of that in show.


REPORTER: Early one morning in 1999, Tom Coleman`s efforts culminated in 13 percent of Tulia`s adult black population. They were roused out of bed, paraded in front of local television cameras in handcuffs. Many of them half dressed, and charged with selling cocaine to Tom Coleman at various times over the course of his investigation.

The town`s newspaper declared Tulia`s streets cleared of garbage. It may be no coincidence that the road led Tom Coleman to the town`s black community. It was well known that he had used racial slurs in front of his superior officers in Tulia.

TOM COLEMAN, POLICE OFFICER: Everybody`s making a big deal, oh, God, he said a word like (AUDIO DELETED). Let`s put him in the electric chair. Yeah, the word (AUDIO DELETED) was bad in the `20s, `30s, and `40s and `50s, and `60s and `70s.

But now, it`s just common slang. I mean, people -- You know, you can watch TV, and hear that word, you know? It`s a greeting.

REPORTER: Coleman told me he used the N-word toe fit in with blacks during his investigation and admits he also used it among his white friends.

COLEMAN: The word (AUDIO DELETED). Yes, sir, I`ve used that word. I`ve used it a lot. What`s up (AUDIO DELETED).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that a greeting you would use with me?

COLEMAN: Oh, no, sir, not you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it`s OK to use it around other people?

COLEMAN: Yes, sir.


MADDOW: Oh, no, not you, sir. You I would never look in the face and call the n word but I otherwise use it all the time.

One of the most amazing things I`ve ever seen in a "60 Minutes" interview and for "60 Minutes", that`s saying something.

But the overall story was just insane. This is sort of a small town right about people as they say in the Texas panhandle. One morning, they mass arrest more than a tenth of the entire black population of the town and all of them, 40 more than people arrested, they`re all accused of being big time like cartel level drug dealers and drug kingpins.

Here`s how "New York Times" columnist Bob Herbert described it at the time in a column that he called Kafka in Tulia. He said, quote, Kafka could have had a field day with Tulia. On the morning of July 23, law enforcement officers fanned out and arrested more than 10 percent of Tulia`s tiny African-American population. Also arrested were a handful of whites who had relationships with blacks.

The humiliating roundup was intensely covered by the local media which had been tipped off in advance. Men and women bewildered and unkempt were paraded before TV cameras and featured prominently on the evening news. They were drug traffickers, one and all, said the sheriff. Among the 46 so- called traffickers were a pig farmer, a forklift operator, and a number of ordinary young women with children.

If these were major cocaine dealers, as alleged, they were among the oddest in the U.S. None of them had any money to speak of and when they were arrested, they didn`t have any cocaine, no drugs, no money, no weapons were recovered during the surprise roundup.

The first convictions nevertheless came quickly. One of the few white defendants, a man who happened to have a mixed-race child, was sentenced to more than 300 years in prison.

The hog farmer, a black man in his late 50s, was sentenced to 90 years in prison.

A 24-year-old black man was sentenced to 60 years in prison, and so on.

The entire operation was the work of a single police officer who claimed to have conducted an -month undercover operation. The arrests were made solely on the word of this one officer, Tom Coleman.

Mr. Coleman`s alleged undercover operation was ridiculous. There were no other police officers to corroborate his activities. He did not wear a wire or conduct any video surveillance. He did not keep detailed records of his alleged drug buys.

He said he sometimes wrote such important information as the names of suspects and the dates of transactions on his leg. In trial after trial, prosecutors put Coleman on the witness stand and his uncorroborated unsubstantiated testimony was enough to send people to prison for decades - - uncorroborated, unsubstantiated.

What was all the more amazing about this was that the cop in question who was the single-handed law enforcement source and the source of all evidence in this entire roundup of more than 40 people, the cop in question cheerfully admitted that he had absolutely no evidence, absolutely no corroboration, absolutely no way to substantiate anything that he was saying against any of these people whatsoever. All of it, all of it was just what he said, which he was happy to admit because clearly that was enough.


REPORTER: They were all given harsh sentences ranging from 20 to 341 years in prison, even though the arrests had turned up no cocaine, no drug paraphernalia, no weapons, no money or any other signs of drug dealing. The convictions were based solely on the uncorroborated word of Tom Coleman, who had followed none of the standard procedures routinely used in undercover drug operations across the country.

Just for the record, did you wear a wire or other recording device?

COLEMAN: No, sir.

REPORTER: Did you have any video or photographic evidence that the buys took place?

COLEMAN: No, sir.

REPORTER: Did you have any independent eyewitness testimony from another undercover officer?

COLEMAN: No, sir.

REPORTER: Did you have any fingerprint evidence?

COLEMAN: No, sir.

REPORTER: But don`t you want something more than your word?

COLEMAN: Uh-huh.

REPORTER: Another little piece of evidence that can point the finger at that person?

COLEMAN: Yes, sir, that would have helped, but that`s not how the operation went.


MADDOW: Sentences of up to 341 years in prison, dozens of people arrested, convicted, sentenced to very hard time.

The cumulative number of years that these folks got in prison was over 750 years in prison. They`re all arrested that one day, all based on that one officer with no supporting evidence whatsoever. Texas state officials at the time were beside themselves. by which I mean they were delighted.

More than 10 percent of all the black people in that town arrested and put in prison, a third of all the black men in that town. Give that officer a reward. They actually did give him an award.

The Texas state attorney general at the time gave that officer the Lawman of the Year Award. The state attorney general of Texas did that.

And then it all fell apart, it all fell apart astonishingly.


ANN CURRY, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: More than a dozen people convicted on drug charges are expected to be freed from Texas prisons today, this after the officer whose testimony sent them to prison was charged with perjury.

NBC`s Jim Cummins is in Tulia, Texas, with more on this story.

Hey, Jim, good morning.


That`s right. It was a huge drug case for such a small town involving minorities but now apparently.

In July, 1999, the authorities in Tulia, Texas, population 5,081, made a drug bust, arresting 46 people, 39 of them black, as part of a sting operation conducted by one undercover cop. Tom Coleman posing as a long- haired biker with a drug habit claimed he bought cocaine from the suspects. Some plea bargained for short prison sentences. The others went to trial.

And on the strength of Coleman`s testimony only, 19 of them were sentenced to a total of about 800 years in prison.

But on judicial review, Coleman`s cases began to fall apart.

VANITA GUPTA, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: Every transcript from every trial that ever took place around this thing has evidence of Tom Coleman perjuring himself on the stand.

CUMMINGS: One woman, Tonya White, could prove that she was 300 miles away in Oklahoma City cashing a check, the same day Coleman claimed she sold cocaine to him in Tulia. There is outrage over this drug bust. The Texas legislature passed a bill, calling for the release of all the suspects until the appeals of the case are heard.

So later today, the same courthouse where they were convicted, the remaining 13 people will be released by a judge.


MADDOW: That was June 2003. That was a morning report that aired on NBC in "The Today Show" that morning. And then later that day, that judge it did free everybody because it turns out when pressed when somebody actually tried to defend these people against these charges, when you started to investigate whether or not what this one cop had said was true, it turns out the cases against all of them were entirely made up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically I`m a trial judge.

REPORTER: So two months ago, District Judge Ron Chapman ruled that all Tulia suspects had been improperly convicted.

Today, 12 of those, still doing time, were brought back in chains to the same courthouse where they had been tried.

JESS BLACKBURN: Let these people go. Let them go today.

REPORTER: And Judge Chapman did release them on their own recognizance until the cases are decided on appeal.

Meanwhile, Coleman has been indicted for aggravated perjury in another case.

It was jubilation for them and their loved ones.

Joe Moore was the first to be convicted. He got 90 years. He was asked what he had lost from this experience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just about my life.

REPORTER: Tonight, most of the Tulia drug suspects now have a chance to resume their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great day. Great day.

GUPTA: Good afternoon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon.

GUPTA: My name is Vanita Gupta. I`m an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Following a dramatic hearing at the Swisher County courthouse today, retired District Judge Ron Chapman granted bail and ordered the immediate release of 13 individuals who were wrongfully convicted of drug charges in Tulia, Texas, and have been imprisoned for years since their arrest. Judge Chapman found Tom Coleman to be, quote, the most devious, non-responsive law enforcement witness this court has witnessed in 25 years on the bench in Texas.

According to the court`s findings, Coleman submitted false reports, misrepresented his investigative work and misidentified various defendants during his investigation. In addition testimony by Coleman and other law enforcement officials involved in the Tulia drug sting revealed Coleman`s arrest on theft charges and abusive official abuse of official capacity while conducting the Tulia investigation.


MADDOW: Did you catch that last bit? The cop in question here, the cop who made up all the information that resulted in the arrest of all these people and them all getting these 60, 90, 300-year sentences, the cop himself got arrested during the course of this investigation for theft and abuse of office.

The Kafka-esque upending of this town was the work of this one crooked police officer who himself had been charged with theft and abuse, who would go on in fact to be convicted of perjury.

That young civil rights attorney who went to Tulia, Texas, in the wake of all these convictions, who went through all of the cases and realized that they were all built on nothing, who personally lined up lawyers from all around the country for more than 30 defendants who didn`t have any defense counsel, whose appeals had already been rejected, who acted as lead counsel herself for the NAACP in all those defendants cases as they pried this thing open, who got the crooked cop to break down and meltdown on the stand in March 2003, which did break open the case and all the convictions were overturned, and all the prisoners were freed. And in August 2003, Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry issued a full and complete pardon for all of those poor people.

That young civil rights attorney who exposed what happened there who made that happen, her name is Vanita Gupta.


GUPTA: I basically spent two full days in the Swisher County courthouse going through files, trying to piece together the stories of these cases and then found out who their family members were in the town and just drove to their homes and spent a fair amount of time really, really just kind of getting to know them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She wasn`t just a little lady with a little voice, she was a little lady with a lot of power and a lot of knowledge and a lot of caring.

GUPTA: We will not rest in our quest to write the horrific wrongs that have been inflicted on our clients and on this community.

I came back to New York, I made a chart of the 26 individuals and kind of compiled all that information. We needed to put law enforcement on trial.

I also realized that I was one attorney with 46 potential clients, so I mobilize the law firms in New York City and Washington, D.C.


MADDOW: It`s footage from one of several documentaries that has been made about this landmark miscarriage of justice, and what it took to expose it, and end it.

That lawyer, Vanita Gupta, went on to become the head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Justice Department under President Obama. Widely respected in that role, she served in that very high profile job without any whiff of scandal or trouble.

President Biden has since nominated her to be the number three official in the whole Justice Department, assistant attorney general. In that nomination, she has among other things the support of every major law enforcement organization in the country, including the Fraternal Order of Police, which is the police union organization that twice endorsed Donald Trump, even they support Vanita Gupta.

Vanita Gupta is one of the senior Justice Department officials who is not confirmed in this administration because Republicans are not only blocking her nomination, they are slow walking it through the Senate. They`re trying to trip it up, trying to keep her from being confirmed.

And here`s the thing, here`s why this is all worth knowing, ready? Who do you think is the Republican senator who is leading the charge against Vanita Gupta and has stopped her from being confirmed thus far? So Merrick Garland doesn`t have any of his top people there with him at the Justice Department.

Vanita Gupta is going to be the number three official the Justice Department. She`s not there yet. Why is that? Well, there`s a Republican senator taking point on this, leading the charge to try to keep her from being confirmed. Who is that? The senator from Texas, a senator from Texas who used to be attorney general of the state of Texas.

It`s Texas Senator John Cornyn, who when he was attorney general of the state of Texas, is the guy who gave officer Tom Coleman the Texas Lawman of the Year Award for his great work in Tulia, Texas -- before Vanita Gupta came in and exposed who that guy actually was before he was convicted of perjury, before every single one of those cases was overturned because that guy made them all up. And they all got full pardons from Rick Perry because of the Kafka-esque nightmare and disaster that was that guy who John Cornyn named Lawman of the Year.

I wonder -- I just wonder if Senator John Cornyn might be at all embarrassed about this and about the young lawyer who came to Texas and exposed this thing, this terrible and cartoonishly evil thing that he had helped along, that he had celebrated, that he had given an award to. It is now Senator John Cornyn leading the charge against Vanita Gupta, to be the number three official at the U.S. Justice Department, even against all of those law enforcement organizations endorsing her.

Judiciary Committee is due to vote on her nomination tomorrow. Republicans led by John Cornyn have been demanding that Vanita Gupta actually needs to come back and do her confirmation hearings over a second time. That is not going to happen. Tonight, we have obtained exclusively I think the reply letter from Democratic Judiciary Committee chairman, Senator Dick Durbin. The reply to Senator Republican senators demanding that she needs to do her confirmation all over again. Senator Durbin telling Republicans, no, they are not going to stop Vanita Gupta`s nomination any longer.

It says in part, quote: Dear senators, well, I always appreciate hearing from colleagues on the committee, your request to hold a second hearing on Vanita Gupta`s nomination to the associate attorney general appears to be little more than a delay tactic, aimed not at gathering more information but at obstructing a highly qualified and historic nominee who`s dedicated her career to the protection and expansion of civil rights. The committee will not hold a second hearing from Ms. Gupta, and her nomination will move forward with a committee vote.

A second hearing on Gupta`s nomination is unwarranted and unnecessary. The committee will vote on her nomination tomorrow. Sincerely, Dick Durbin, committee chairman.

Vanita Gupta is going to be confirmed by the Senate ultimately. She will be the number three official at the U.S. Justice Department under Merrick Garland, and that is despite unified Republican opposition to her led by the senator who she humiliated and exposed in Texas, nearly years 20 ago for his enabling encouraging, celebrating role in one of the worst most racially explosive, astonishingly brazen law enforcement put up jobs in the last generation.

Senator Cornyn, I do not know if he`s ashamed by his role in all that. I wonder if he ever tried to get the award back. But his effort to get revenge on the woman who had to come in and fix his mess, that effort will fail. She will win and he will lose again. God bless, Texas.

It`s going to happen tomorrow morning 10:00 a.m., and the Judiciary Committee. I for one will be watching.


MADDOW: Today in the Senate, we saw some we basically never see. This was the top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, and the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, squaring off opposite each other at a hearing.

I don`t know if you watch a lot of footage of the U.S. Senate, you might not be quite as big a civics nerd as I am, but this is you should know this is something that doesn`t happen. If you`re the leader of one of the parties in the Senate, you don`t sit on any committees. And so you never see them at hearings, you never see either of them sitting up at the dais at a committee hearing like this, let alone both of them at the same time at the same one.

But that is how important this hearing was today that the leaders of both parties in the Senate came in person, in part so they could yell at each other.

This was the first hearing on S-1, Senate bill 1, the For the People Act, which is the Democrats` big voting rights protection bill.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder and a bunch of other witnesses gave testimony on the bill to the Senate Rules Committee chaired by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar today. As I said, the leaders of both parties were there in person.

This voting rights legislation is probably the one thing that could stop the hundreds of state-level voting rights rollbacks that are currently in the works in Republican-controlled states. It has already passed the House, but how can it pass the Senate?

Senator Schumer keeps saying failure is not an option on this bill in particular. Today, he said this bill will pass this body, meaning it will pass the Senate. Why does he keep saying that though? I mean, is he cheerleading for that to happen or is there some plan to make that happen?

Republicans are 100 percent, 1,000 percent opposed to this? How is it going to pass?

Joining us now is Senator Amy Klobuchar of the great state of Minnesota. She`s chair of the Rules Committee and she ran this landmark hearing today.

Senator, it`s great to see you. Thanks so much for your time.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thank you, Rachel. And by the way, thank you for covering Vanita`s hearing tomorrow. I`m going to be there, and she`ll just be fantastic in his job, perfect for this moment in time with major prosecutions going on of hate crimes, and thank you for really showing her strength as a candidate and how great she`ll be in the Justice Department. Thank you.

MADDOW: Well, thank you for saying so. I mean, I`m struck by both her the backstory about her, what she`s done and how she ended up as a relatively young person in these high-level positions in the Justice Department because of her incredible track record starting at a really young age. But the bad blood behind what appears to be some of the Republican-led opposition to her it just strikes me as something that ought to be national news. If you if you gave the Tulia, Texas, detective, an award,. maybe you should step aside when Vanita Gupta sits down in your committee hearing. But I guess we`ll see that tomorrow.

KLOBUCHAR: Speaking of it, with our hearing, this is a moment though this bill, when you look at some of the things we`ve been dealing with on the floor tonight led by Chris Murphy, dealing with background check bill that 80, 90 percent of the American people want, all of the things that are just stuck a lot of it has to do with Republicans attempt at gridlock. I personally favor getting rid of the filibuster.

But what you saw in our hearing today with the strength of this bill, you didn`t just see Eric Holder testifying for it. Trevor Potter, remember that name? The former head of the Federal Election Commission, Republican head, chief counsel to John McCain in both his presidential races, testified for the bill because he believes we just need to have pick up our democracy again.

As I said on the inaugural stage, brush it off, move forward as a country, hundreds of bills trying to suppress the vote. Yet, we had 160 million people vote in November in the middle of a pandemic. Why? Because a number of states had extended vote by mail, they made it easier to register, they made it easier to early vote. Why would we close the door on that now?

This is a moment you only get maybe every 50 years for civil rights for elections, and that is why Senator Schumer made this s and why we are so devoted to passing this bill.

MADDOW: I feel like the devotion to passing this bill is something that I am seeing in real time and here, and I believe in the sincerity of it. What I don`t understand is the plan to get it passed? If the filibuster`s still in place, then the only way to pass things without Republican support is to go through budget reconciliation. This isn`t broadly speaking the kind of thing that can pass through budget reconciliation.

What is the -- what is the plan to hope that public support eventually drives Republicans to change their minds?

KLOBUCHAR: Let`s start with this. It`s passed the House, that`s always a good thing. Number two, first time we`ve ever had a hearing on this bill and we`re going to have a markup to get it to the floor which we can do in a 50-50 Senate um after in April, the month of April on my committee.

Then we go forward and this bill is led by Senator Merkley. He`s doing a great job. We go to the floor, and there, of course, we -- there`s nine bipartisan provisions in there. We do try to build support, but barring that we already have Senator Manchin talking about the fact that with some version of this bill or any bill he`s willing to move to a talking filibuster. You know what that means? That means we actually make the other side speak, we make them stand and speak, and they have to come in day after day and night after night like in Mr. Smith goes to Washington and own their objections to common sense reforms supported broadly by Democrats and Republicans out there.

To me, it`s a little like the American Rescue Plan. They were objecting to that, but the people wanted it and we got it done with 51 votes.

So we start with getting it to the floor and from there, jump ball, a lot of things can happen.

MADDOW: Sign me up for a front row seat.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Rules Committee, that`s more than just determination. That sounds like a plan. Thanks for helping us understand it tonight. We`ll have you back to talk about it more as it goes through the process.

KLOBUCHAR: All right. Thank you.

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


MADDOW: She was the only person who showed up for geography that day. September 12, 1974, Valerie Banks and her backpack were the only ones in class. A court had just ordered city of Boston to desegregate its public schools. The court said Boston had to begin busing white kids to black schools and black kids to white schools an effort to force the schools to integrate.

Lots of families from white neighborhoods in Boston balked at the idea of sending their kids to school in traditionally black neighborhoods. They balked especially at having black kids come to what had been all white schools.

And so, that`s how young Valerie Banks ended up in the geography classroom all by herself, the first day of school under that court-ordered busing program. White parents just flat out refused to send their kids to school if there were going to be black kids there too.

Within a year and a half of busing starting in Boston, a third of white kids got taken out of Boston public schools and it is painful to see that young girl sitting all by herself in that classroom.

But it only got more traumatic for kids like Valerie from there. Black students on their way to school were the target of big racist mobs in Boston, often really violent protests by white people in Boston. They threw rocks at the kids while they got on the bus. Black kids had to duck shattering glass coming at them through the bus windows as the buses were attacked.

Here`s a woman screaming at a bus full of black children who were being taken home after school. The photographer said she was yelling to those little kids, go home and stay home, yelling at the little kids.

People walked through black neighborhoods in Boston wearing Ku Klux Klan gear. They set a mannequin of a black person on fire, an effigy. This is a building in a white neighborhood in Boston, a message for all the black kids, all the black students being bused in to see on their way to school every morning. We blurred what the word is but you know what the word is.

The trauma those kids had to endure it would have been it would be almost unbelievable if there weren`t the pictures to prove it.


JEAN MCGUIRE, BUS SAFETY MONITOR: I remember riding the buses to protect the kids going up to South Boston High School and the bricks through the window, signs hanging out those buildings, go home. Pictures of monkeys, the words, the spit. People just felt it was all right to attack children.

REGINA WILLIAMS, BUS SAFETY MONITOR: I had no idea what to expect busing thing. I didn`t know anything about South Boston. I didn`t know anything about, you know, they didn`t like us I didn`t know anything that was in store for us. But when we got there, it was like a war zone.

I came back and I told my mom and I never forget. I said, ma, I am not going back to that school unless I have a gun, exactly at 14 years old. I am not going back to that school.


MADDOW: That overt racism those racist attacks in Boston over busing, it took years before any of that simmered down. But stars for those who lived through it never faded away. Boston remains an incredibly unequal place to live by just about every metric.

In 2015, the net worth for a white family, net worth for a white family living in Boston was roughly $250,000. Net worth of a black family living in Boston was an average of eight dollars.

The Boston Police Department is 65 percent white, even though white people make up less than half the city. That`s still today.

If you look at what the city itself is investing in, where they`re doling out lucrative contracts of the more than $2 billion handed out by the city between 2014 and 2019 in contracts, one half of one percent of those contracts went to black owned businesses.

And you see it in representation at the highest levels too the mayor of Boston has only ever been a white man, for all time. For the last 91 years, that white man has been either of Irish or Italian descent, full stop, 91 straight years of Irish-American or Italian-American men.

The city of Boston has never been represented by a black person at the highest level. The city has never been represented by a woman, until now. This is Kim Janey. Her family has lived in the Boston neighborhood of Roxbury for six generations.

When she was 16 years old, Kim Janey became a mom, while she was still in high school. After she graduated high school, she started a community college.

She ultimately enrolled at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She worked a job cleaning bathrooms while she was a student at Smith, so she could afford tuition and to provide for her daughter. She then spent years as an organizer and advocate pushing to reform Boston`s public schools.

2017, she was elected to the city council in Boston. She was chosen by her peers then to become the city council`s president. That choice was made last year.

And as city council president, well, there she was in place. That is how this week, Kim Janey became mayor of Boston. The last mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, just resigned to become President Biden`s labor secretary. When the mayor resigns, the line of succession in Boston is that the president of the city council gets automatically elevated to be acting mayor. That makes Kim Janey as of this week, the first black person to lead the city of Boston, the first woman to lead the city of Boston.

She was also one of those Boston kids in the `70s who was pelted with rocks and racial slurs on their way to school. Kim Janey was 11 years old when she got on those desegregation buses in Boston. She was bused to a school in the same part of Boston where they set that mannequin of a black person on fire.

Yesterday, yesterday, she went back to that school that she was bused to in 1976. She went back this time on her first full day as the mayor of Boston Massachusetts.


MAYOR KIM JANEY (D), BOSTON: As a girl growing up in Boston, I was nurtured by a family who believed in me and surrounded by good neighbors who knew my name. It was my village. But when I was just 11 years old, school busing rolled into my life, I was forced onto the front lines of the 1970s battle to desegregate Boston public schools. I had rocks and racial slurs thrown at my bus simply for attending school while black.

And just yesterday, on my first full day as mayor, I visited my childhood alma mater. I saw students happy to be back in school with their teachers and friends instead of the pain and trauma that I had experienced in middle school.

To think that my teenage grandsons were born at a time when there had never even been a black woman on our city council and today, my six-year-old granddaughter Rosie and other little girls can see themselves represented in Massachusetts` highest court, the halls of Congress, and now, in the 55th mayor of Boston.



MADDOW: The new mayor of Boston, Massachusetts, Mayor Kim Janey joins us live here, next. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Here`s how "Boston Globe" columnist Adrian Walker put it. He said, quote, How far behind is Boston? Welcome to one of the few major American cities that has never elected anything but a white male mayor.

In cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, this barrier fell a generation or more ago. Even cities that don`t post particularly big black population like Seattle and Denver have elected black mayors, in some cases more than one. But here, here in Boston, the old line held.

Not anymore.

Joining us now for her first national interview since becoming mayor of the great city of Boston is Kim Janey.

Madam Mayor, thank you so much for being here and congratulations.

MAYOR KIM JANEY (D), BOSTON: Thank you so much. It`s an honor to be here. I`m a big fan. Thank you for having me.

MADDOW: It`s nice of you to say.

Let me just ask you one of the -- one of the things you said in your speech when you were sworn in today was that you bring to this moment life experience that is different from the men who came before me.

Tell me -- tell me about what that means for this job, for the city of Boston. How -- how that will influence this incredibly large job you`re taking on now?

JANEY: Well, as -- as a woman growing up, as a little girl growing up in Roxbury, as a black woman who has lived through some of our darkest days in our city, I certainly bring all of that with me.

But, I also know that our city is a city of hope and possibilities. And so, I am encouraged certainly by what I saw when I visited my childhood alma mater.

As you have said, I was bused during the desegregation era here in Boston. It was a very traumatic experience growing up, a very violent time in our city. And me sitting here as mayor does symbolize how far we`ve come as a city, but we have a lot of work to do.

Yesterday, on my first full day as mayor, I had the opportunity to go back and see young people learning in the classroom. I actually visited a classroom where they were studying desegregation in Boston and to be there in that classroom as someone who lived through that experience and able to share that experience with the students was pretty incredible, and to be there as the first black mayor and the first woman mayor for our city was just mind-blowing.

You know, it was great to see students in the classroom learning and engaged and not having to worry about that painful time in our history. That being said, we do have a lot of work to do in Boston. These issues, these challenges are not new. They are centuries old in the making. There is a lot of work to do when it comes to combating structural racism in our city.

And I will bring my lived experience and my unique perspective as a black woman to this work.

MADDOW: It strikes me also that from a national perspective, Boston has a pretty unique role right now in the response of the pandemic just because Boston is, A, not only a tech hub, but also a healthcare capital for the country. And Massachusetts had a hard time with COVID.

Is the vaccine roll-out in Boston, and other elements, logistical elements of the COVID response is now going to land in your lap as mayor as you take on these responsibilities?

JANEY: Yes. It is a huge priority for me, making sure that we are rolling out the vaccines equitably. So, communities that have been hardest hit, it`s no surprise that communities of color have been hit particularly hard disproportionately here in Boston and other cities across our nation. And that`s due to the preexisting inequities before COVID.

And so, it is incredibly important that we make sure we`re getting the vaccine out equitably, that we are reaching all communities and lifting up those who have been hardest hit, and that is the number one priority for me so that we can reopen safely, make sure we`re getting businesses opened and workers back to work and our students back in the classrooms with their teachers and their peers.

MADDOW: Kim Janey, sworn in today as the new mayor of the great city of Boston -- again, congratulations. You have a huge task ahead of you. Godspeed. Come back frequently. And it`s good to -- it`s so good to see you on this job.

JANEY: I`d love to. Thank you so much, Rachel. Take care.

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


MADDOW: Heads up for tomorrow`s news, at 1:15 p.m. Eastern, we are expecting the first formal press conference of President Biden`s tenure in the Oval Office. It`s the first one he`s done since he`s been president. We will all be watching.

Vanita Gupta`s confirmation hearing which ought to be fireworks, 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, the Judiciary Committee. It`s going to be a big day tomorrow in Washington.

See you again tomorrow night.


Good evening, Lawrence.