Tonight, the Republican governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, has signed into law a sweeping, staggering bill that undoes much of what constitute free and fair elections in the state of Georgia. MSNBC`s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": All right. That is "ALL IN" on this Thursday night.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Appreciate it.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
As far as names go, this story came with a really good one. His name is Aaron Langevelde. Mister -- excuse me, Aaron Van Langevelde. I forgot the extra syllable.
Mr. Aaron Van Langevelde is a young Republican lawyer. In November, he was a member of the Michigan board of state canvassers, which is the group of people, in Michigan, that`s in charge of certifying elections. Every state has to do that. Every-four years, when we pick a president, the people vote. The votes get counted. And then, the results get certified in each state.
It`s routine, as far as civics goes, it`s actually a little dull. Which in its own way is kind of awesome, but it`s critical, until all 50 states certify the results of their election, we don`t get a new president.
And perhaps, this is overstating it a little bit. But last November, this guy, with the awesome name, Aaron Van Langevelde from Michigan, he kind of saved democracy from all of us on Zoom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AARON VAN LANGEVELDE, VICE CHAIR, MICHIGAN STATE BOARD OF CANVASSERS: We have a clear duty to certify the results of the election, as shown by the return that was given to us. We cannot, and should not, go beyond that. As John Adams once said, we are a government of laws, not men.
And this board needs to adhere to that principle here, today. This board must do its part to uphold the rule of law, and comply with our legal duty to certify this election. I will be supporting the motion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I will be supporting the motion. By which American democracy was rescued from the brink. That low-key zoom meeting happened on November 23rd, just a few weeks after the 2020-presidential election. Joe Biden had definitively been called the winner. Donald Trump had lost. Biden had won critical-swing states, like Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, Mr. Van Langevelde`s home state of Michigan.
Trump, though, you may recall, said that he had not lost the election. And he said that Biden really hadn`t won. He had won. Trump said the election results had to be nullified. He should be declared the winner in a whole bunch of states that he, in fact, lost.
And it`s crazy enough in American democracy that he said that publicly, starting on election night. But then, he started acting on it, too. And it was actually, looking back at it, a careful, pretty methodical, coordinated plan, to try to get the election overturned, to not just thump his chest and yell about it. But actually, try to do it.
And yeah, we all remember the grammatically incorrect, misspelled lawsuits, and the rage tweets, and the Rudy Giuliani of it all. But there was something else that was more methodical, and more dangerous going on, too. Let`s stay on Michigan, for a second. The -- the election in Michigan in November wasn`t close. Biden won Michigan by more than 150,000 votes.
But to win the presidency, to get enough electoral votes to stay in the White House, Trump needed Michigan and more states, like Michigan, in his column. And so, he tried to get Michigan overturned, a few weeks after the election, but before the results were formally certified, in Michigan. Before his loss was, thereby, legally set in stone, Trump did what he could. He tried. He enacted a plan to try to get the election results in Michigan overturned.
He summoned the top-two Republicans in the Michigan state legislature. He brought them to Washington, to the White House, to try to get them to join his scheme to overturn the legitimate-election results in Michigan.
Part of the plan was to get the state-canvassing board, in Michigan, to delay the certification of the election results, based on the president`s made-up allegations of voter fraud. Delaying that certification would cast doubt on the legitimacy of the results. And that would fuel Trump`s scheme to get the canvassing board to ultimately come in and nullify the election results, overturn the election, and declare him the winner.
What Donald Trump wanted those Republican state lawmakers to do when he summoned them to D.C. was to lean on the Republicans who are on the state canvassing board, to get them to follow Trump`s directives, to vote to delay the certification of the election result in Michigan. Thereby, helping his scheme to, ultimately, overturn the results, in that state. He planned lots of different ways to do this in lots of different states. That`s how he was going to go after it in Michigan.
And when you -- you spell it -- I mean, we all lived through it but it`s still crazy sounding, right? You spell it out like that. He was really trying to do that. It`s nuts.
What`s even nuttier, though, is how close it came to working. There is four members on that state canvassing board in Michigan, two Democrats, two Republicans. You`d need a majority to vote together, in order to certify that Biden won the election in that state.
Before that vote, the Republican state party chair, the Republican national-party chair, and, of course, the head of the Republican Party, the president of the United States, all, weighed in. And told both of those Republicans, on that canvassing board, that they needed to vote against certification. They needed to refuse to admit that Joe Biden had been the legitimate winner of the election in Michigan.
And one of those Republicans went along. He didn`t vote to certify Biden as the winner in Michigan. The other one, however, told the president no.
That young, Republican lawyer, Aaron Van Langevelde. He was the only Republican on that board oh who stood up to the president, and the chair of the state party. He sat and, sort of, spoke quietly on Zoom. But thereby, stood up and saved democracy. It`s a ton of power, behind his words and what he did.
He joined the two Democrats on the board, and voted to certify the legitimate results of the election in Michigan, thereby, putting the final nail in the coffin in the president`s scheme to pressure Michigan Republicans to overturn the election for him.
And so, I mean, you see what I mean here. If it wasn`t for that one guy in Michigan on Zoom, proverbially, standing up to the president. Things might have gone very differently. It`s one thing to know that Trump didn`t accept the election results, and wanted to overturn them. It`s another thing to see how close he came to doing it.
And what the president did in Michigan, trying to get Republican state- election officials to void the election and declare him the winner, instead wasn`t, of course, the only place he tried it. Most famously, he did it in Georgia. The president leaned, heavily, on the secretary of state in Georgia, Republican Brad Raffensperger, the top-election official in the state.
He told Raffensperger that -- Raffensperger needed to find Trump around 12,000 votes. Just enough votes to undo Biden`s win there. Declare Donald Trump the winner. Say you recalculated.
Raffensperger, also, got another call, though, from the president`s ally in the United States senate. Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina.
Senator Graham, also, called Raffensperger and told him he needed to toss out all the mail-in ballots from some Georgia counties. You know, those mail-in ballots, the ones that skewed heavily for Biden? Yeah, chuck all those in the trash. Then, redo the count, and then see who comes out on top. That`s what Lindsey Graham told him he needed to do.
The president`s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, even flew to Georgia, unannounced, to stand there, in the building, menacingly, near the vote counters while they audited the ballots in Cobb County. What`s the White House chief of staff doing here in person, looming over the audit of these ballots?
I mean, it was a crazy thing, we all lived through. What the president and his allies were doing. They were -- what they were really, really trying to do was get the election results thrown out in states that Trump lost. It wasn`t just complaining about it. It was a concerted effort to have Republican officials, in various states, void or reverse or tamper with the election results to say Trump won, instead of Biden.
State elections officials, secretaries of state, the poor ballot counters, right? These were the pressure points that the president and his allies were leaning so heavily on. And in the end, it didn`t work, right?
But I mean, imagine if it had. Imagine if the Republicans on the receiving end of all that pressure had said yes to the president. Imagine if they had actually done what he wanted. Tossed out ballots, overruled results, decertified the election. Announced that Donald Trump had won elections that he didn`t win, which is what he was demanding. That`s what Trump wanted to do.
It came down to a handful of principled people, who said I do not have the power to do what you are asking me to do. And I won`t try to do it. And they stopped it from happening. We were sort of hanging by a thread, there, for a good few weeks.
Well, today? Republicans have found a new way to cut one of those last, dangling threads. Tonight, the Republican governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, has signed into law a sweeping, staggering bill that undoes much of what constitute free and fair elections in the state of Georgia.
It will actively prevent people from accessing their constitutional right to vote in a way that will disproportionately affect poor Americans and -- and Americans of color. Voters that, of course, tend to skew Democratic. And the voter-suppression elements of this Georgia law, that was, again, just signed tonight. It`s now Georgia law.
The voter suppressive elements to make it harder to vote, that`s -- those things have received a lot of attention. But here`s, maybe, the part that`s even worse. What this bill will also do is codify into law the process by which Donald Trump tried to undo the Georgia election results in 2020. What he, also, tried to do in Michigan and other states.
I mean, what Republicans in Georgia have written into this voter- suppression law, that was just signed tonight, is that they have given the Republicans in the state legislature the power to do, in Georgia, what Trump was trying to do in 2020, when he was trying to nullify the election results. And instead, have himself declared the winner.
By mandate of this bill that just passed into law in Georgia tonight, the secretary of state in Georgia, the one who stood up to Trump`s orders that he needed to find the right number of votes, and overturn the election. By mandate of this bill, signed into law tonight, he will, hereby, be removed as chair and voting member of the state election board, which is the entity that oversees the certification of elections in Georgia. That power will, instead, be handed to the Republican-controlled legislature, who will appoint a new chair of their choosing, as well as the majority of the board`s members.
Republicans in the Georgia legislature wanted to go along with what Trump was insisting should happen in Georgia. This bill will give them the power to do that. What this bill does is it carves out the people inside the state government, who refused to overturn the election for Trump.
It hands that power to a new, hand-picked group of people, friendly to the Republicans in the Georgia state legislature, who wanted to go along with what Trump was demanding. The election board will, also, be afforded new powers under this law. They will be allowed to take over any, individual county-election board in the state that they see fit.
So again, Republican-appointed officials from the state legislature, allowed to take over any counties` elections operations. Any county they choose. They don`t like a result in the specific county. They can oust that county`s election machinery, and instead take over, themselves.
I mean, Donald Trump had to make threatening phone calls. He had to cook up crazy conspiracy theories about suitcases filled with ballots. He had to send his chief of staff to go cross his arms and look mean while they counted the ballots.
But because of this, you know, a dangling thread. People standing up, and saying, no, this isn`t right. Republicans couldn`t actually pull off what he was trying to do in Georgia in 2020. This bill just signed tonight snips that last thread. It removes the guardrails, that prevented Trump`s scheme in Georgia from working in 2020. It institutionalizes the potential to overturn an election in the state of Georgia, at partisan insistence.
And it`s done. Kemp just signed it.
And while this is about Georgia, this is not just about Georgia. This is a national strategy, that is endorsed by the Republican Party. "The New York Times" reporting that the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Party, has formed a brand new election integrity committee which is a group of 24 members of the RNC newly tasked with developing legislative proposals on voting systems for the states.
This election integrity committee at the National Republican Party is steered by a -- a Florida Republican who, still, to this day, refuses to say that President Biden was legitimately elected. He advertised ways for people to attend the January 6th rally in Washington, that turned into a violent attack on the Capitol.
"The New York Times" reporting that the Republican Party`s election integrity committee will be staffed by, quote, officials who were deeply involved in the stop-the-steal effort to overcome former President Trump`s election loss last year and who have refused after more than two months after president Biden`s inauguration, to admit publicly that his victory was legitimate.
So, the whole crazy stop-the-steal thing, the election was rigged, we should overturn the results. That stuff didn`t prevail in 2020. But it did not die, when Trump left office. It is alive and well in the Republican Party. And it is bearing fruit.
More from "The Times," quote, in Arizona, Republicans are pushing for control over the rules of the state`s elections. In Iowa, Republicans have installed harsh, new criminal penalties for county elections officials who enact emergency voting rules. In Tennessee, a Republican legislator is trying to remove a sitting judge who ruled against the Republican Party in an election case.
It`s happening, on an -- on the individual, human level, too. Do you remember Aaron Van Langevelde, right? The young Republican lawyer in Michigan who stood up to the president all by himself and refused the pressure to overturn the election in Michigan, even when all the other Republicans went along with it?
Republican Party in Michigan refused to renominate him to his position on the state-canvassing board. He will not be in charge of certifying the results in Michigan, anymore. Replaced by someone much more amenable to those schemes.
Donald Trump failed to overturn the election that he lost, in 2020, but not for lack of trying. The Republican Party, however, seems to be energized by those efforts. They were not defeated by that failure.
The Republican Party is, still, working on it. They are institutionalizing this, now. From the people they elect into office, to the committees they create, to the bills they write and pass into law. We are here, now, there is no turning back.
The question is, how do we meet that challenge? For Senate Democrats, part of the answer to that question is S-1, the For the People Act, which would try to roll back some of the damage being done by Republicans to voting rights. That bill has 49 co-sponsors in the Senate, 49 out of 50 Democratic senators have co-sponsored it.
The one Democrat who hasn`t is Senator Joe Manchin. He is the only Democratic senator who hasn`t signed on his name in support. Today, he explained why. He said today that, in a long statement, that he does not want to sign on to support this sweeping voting-rights bill that will afford federal protection to voting rights. He doesn`t want to sign on to it unless a bunch of Republicans vote for it, too.
This kind of bill that protects people`s right to vote, makes sure that every vote counts. That`s only a value to him, unless a significant number of Republicans in the United States Senate agree to vote for it, as well.
Just to really spell that out. What Senator Manchin wants is to find at least ten Republican senators to vote for a bill that protects voting rights. Ten senators from the party that`s trying to institutionalize the right to overturn free and fair elections, if a Republican doesn`t win them.
President Biden was asked, today, what he thought of the big voter suppression bill that Republicans just passed in Georgia, that`s been signed into law tonight. He said today at his press conference that he thought it was sick, despicable. He called it the most pernicious thing.
Broadly speaking, Georgia voters agree with him. A new poll in Georgia showing that the number of people who opposed part of the Georgia bill that allows the state legislature to remove, from power, state and local election officials. The percentage of people opposed to that in Georgia is 76 percent.
Seventy percent of people in Georgia oppose the part of the bill passed tonight that makes it easier to throw out ballots if a voter casts a ballot at a wrong polling location, even because they are given wrong instructions about how to vote. The bill passed tonight in Georgia will make it illegal for anybody to hand out food or water to people standing in long lines waiting to vote in Georgia.
The percentage of people in that state who oppose that part of the bill is 77 percent. It`s not just that the bill, as an idea, is radically unpopular. When you poll people on the specifics of what`s in the bill, it is radically, radically, radically, unpopular. Republicans in Georgia, though, do not care. Republicans, nationally, do not care. They are not trying to win a popularity contest here.
Who needs to be popular? We can just make it a whole lot easier to overturn an election, at will. A county votes for the Democrat, instead of the Republican.
Remove the county elections board before they have to certify their results. Put in your own people. Have them refuse to certify. Let`s rerun the election or just declare that we found enough votes. We`ve recalculated, and it turns out, the Republican won.
Secretary of state isn`t going along with the scheme to overturn the election here? To put the -- to put the Republican on top of an election that the Democrat actually won? Well, we will take away the secretary of state`s ability to stand up and do the right thing.
This is done. This is law. It is on the books, as of tonight, in Georgia.
Waiting for Joe Manchin to come around, and recognize what`s happening here, so the federal government can come to the rescue here, with a federal law to protect voting rights. That is not going to happen. That is not going to cut it. He is thinking that Republicans are going to come along, and decide they support voting rights, actually, while their entire party is working to undo them, at a fundamental level, right?
This isn`t rogue Georgia Republicans. This is a nationwide effort, being helmed by people, assigned the task by the National Republican Party, who come from the stop-the-steal, storm-the-Capitol, Trump-secretly-won wing of Republican politics. You think ten Republican senators are really going to come over and say, you know what? We ought to defend voting rights?
There are civil rights and voting rights groups that are mobilized in Georgia. But, so far, that has not proven to be enough to stop this, to push back against this kind of assault on our democracy. The worst of the worst tactics that Trump brought to the fight last year so that election results could be overturned, if Republicans didn`t win. That is happening, right now in -- in Georgia and apparently, it`s going to take a different kind of fight to stop it.
Joining us now, is Ari Berman. He is the senior reporter at "Mother Jones Magazine" covering voting rights. He is author of "Give Us the Ballot", the modern struggle for voting rights in America. And he has been following every twist and turn of this, from the beginning.
Ari, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it.
ARI BERMAN, SENIOR REPORTER, MOTHER JONES: Great to see you, Rachel. Thank you.
MADDOW: Let me ask, because I know that you are very much an expert on this. Let me ask if I explained any of that wrong, or if I am getting any of this the wrong way around.
BERMAN: No, you nailed it, as usual.
MADDOW: What is your top-line reaction to what just happened in the state of Georgia? We knew that this was moving fast. I`m not sure it was clear, until it was actually happening, that this was going to rocket from the House, all the way through the Senate, all the way to the governor`s desk, and into law. All, in one day. What`s your reaction?
BERMAN: My reaction to what`s happening in Georgia is that Republicans, all across the country, including and personified by the state of Georgia, are now weaponizing Trump`s lies to make it harder to vote. And because they failed to overturn the last election, they are trying to steal and overturn the next election, and putting into place as many measures as they can to do a massive-power grab to, both, make it harder to vote, and to consolidate their power over how elections are run and certified.
And the fact that they took a two-page bill, Rachel, turned it into a nearly-hundred-page bill, and then, passed the entire thing in one day, the House, the Senate, the governor, just goes to show you that voter suppression in Georgia and voter suppression, nationally, is now the central-organizing principle of the Republican Party.
MADDOW: I think, it`s fail -- fair to anticipate that the -- the -- the types of restrictions on access to the polling place, that were passed in this bill, would have changed the electorate in Georgia. Would have changed the number of votes cast, overall, and probably the balance of -- of how the votes were cast in 2020.
But even just putting that aside. Putting aside the -- the bulk of this bill, which is about making it harder to vote, making it harder to vote, in particular, for people who are likely to vote Democratic. What about the structural changes to, as you put it, how elections are run and how elections are certified?
If this law had been in place in Georgia, in November, 2020, when Trump came in and leaned on Georgia Republicans and said, you guys got to help me out here. I need to have won Georgia. Can you make that happen? Would they have been able to use Georgia law? Would they have been able to do it? Do what Trump demanded, if this law had been in place?
BERMAN: Yes, if this law had been in place, Donald Trump, absolutely, might have succeeded in overturning the election in Georgia because his biggest Republican critic in Georgia was the secretary of state. Where they have just removed, as the head of the state board of election and they have removed him as a voting member.
So, if the Republican legislature in Georgia had wanted to overturn the will of the voters, they could have done that through control of the state board of elections and through leaning on county board of elections. And this is why they have made this such a big part of the bill.
There are more sections of this voter-suppression bill that -- that entrench the Republican Party and the state legislature`s power over election administration than any other part of the bill. So a lot of things got the headlines, right, Rachel? Not being able to give people food and water, trying to cut back on early voting. Those kind of things got the headlines.
I think the real purpose here was to intensify control over how every aspect of elections are run in Georgia. So when there are close elections in the future, which they know there will be, they will have unprecedented power to challenge the election results. And to decline to certify them, if they don`t like who the winner is.
MADDOW: Wow. And that is why this is a five-alarm fire. Not just in terms of voting rights, but in terms of protecting American democracy tonight.
Ari Berman, senior reporter at "Mother Jones", somebody who`s reporting this absolutely seminal on this issue -- Ari, thank you for being with us tonight, I really appreciate it.
BERMAN: Thank you so much, Rachel.
MADDOW: Since -- since these -- these bills, these measures, have been pending in Georgia. We have been covering, all along, the effort in Georgia to try to organize against it and fight against it. Well, tonight, that includes some very dramatic footage of a member of the Georgia legislature being arrested at the governor`s door, when she was trying to be allowed into the signing ceremony where Governor Kemp was signing this thing.
We have got that footage for you, ahead. It will curl your hair.
The fight against what just happened tonight, in Georgia, has also taken a turn, tonight. We have got breaking news on that next in terms of a legal fight over what happened.
Lots more to come tonight. This is a big deal. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Okay. Have you seen this footage, yet?
As Georgia`s Republican Governor Brian Kemp announced tonight he was signing Georgia`s new law of restricting voting rights, giving Republicans control over the running of elections and the handling of election results.
Tonight, the livestream of that signing ceremony, which Governor Kemp was conducting in a private room out of the public eye. That livestream was interrupted. And we didn`t know why, at the time.
It turns out, there were knocks on the door, from a Democratic state representative, named Park Cannon. She wanted to see the signing. She was objecting to the bill being signed, and announced, behind closed doors, she was then arrested by Georgia state troopers for knocking on the door, where the signing ceremony was happening.
Here, on tape, you can see it. They then dragged her through the Capitol. They put her into a police car, and put her in jail.
This is happening tonight. This is a Georgia Democratic state representative.
Now, we do not know Representative Cannon is still in jail, at this hour. There are conflicting reports as to whether she may still be in jail, what she may have been charged with but that is happening, locking up state legislators asking to see the signing of the bill. While Republicans claim, for themselves, new rights to run the elections, certify, and determine the results of them, after the Republican president demanded that they use that kind of power to nullify the election results, and declare him the winner, now three months ago.
Tonight, also, the Democratic Party`s leading voting rights litigator, the lawyer who beat back Republican efforts in 2020 by winning 62 different election cases, upholding Joe Biden`s presidential victory. That lawyer, Marc Elias, tells tonight that he has filed the first lawsuit to combat this new election law in Georgia.
Joining us now is Marc Elias, Democratic elections attorney. He is the co- founder of Democracy Docket.
Mr. Elias, thanks for joining us on what is really a remarkable day in -- in your world of expertise but also in the news.
MARC ELIAS, DEMOCRACY DOCKET FOUNDER: Thanks for having me.
It`s actually a sad day, because today, democracy was assaulted. You know, we saw democracy assaulted with the big lie. We saw democracy physically assaulted, on January 6th. And today, we saw democracy assaulted with a pen, the pen of Brian Kemp, as he signed a law to try to accomplish what Donald Trump, in the big lie, was unable to accomplish.
And that`s a sad day for us. But it is also a day that we need to renew ourself and steel ourselves for the fight ahead that will take place in court.
MADDOW: Tell me about the -- the -- the fight that you expect in court. Obviously, we are familiar with voting battles, including a lot of them, fought by you, over whether or not Republicans can restrict access to the ballot box, whether they can cut early voting, cut access to absentee voting, require people to do things, and show papers, and jump through hoops that they -- the constitution doesn`t say they have to do in order to cast their ballots.
I am less familiar with the litigation landscape when it comes to Republicans taking over the running of elections, the tallying of election results, and the certification of those results. This seems like new territory, to me.
ELIAS: It is. I mean, it shows the ingenuity of the Republican Party, to find ever-new ways to attack voting. And attack democracy.
Tonight, you know, we are filing a lawsuit, on behalf of the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter, and RISE, a student organization, because we know that these laws are all aimed at disenfranchising black voters and, also, young voters.
And so, you know, the role of the courts are to protect fundamental rights, when politicians fail them. And right now, Republican politicians, around the country, are failing voters and failing democracy.
And we have to turn to the courts. You know, we filed the lawsuit in Iowa the morning after that terrible bill was passed. And now, we have filed and are filing this one in Georgia.
MADDOW: Would the two pieces of legislation on voting rights pending before the United States Senate? The John Lewis Voting Rights Act. The HR-1 the For the People Act, which is now Senate bill-1 in the Senate. Would those help?
ELIAS: Enormously. Enormously. One of the things that I most worry about, Rachel, is that some of the successes that I, and others, had last year, may have caused people to think, oh, no big deal. You know? Republicans do crazy things. We go to court. Marc wins.
We can`t count on that. I mean, the fact is Congress needs to fix this. Congress needs to put in place guardrails to protect our democracy. And only Congress can do that.
And so, I implore every member of the -- the Senate, right now, to look and search in their heart, whether or not they want to fight for our democracy, because otherwise, we`re going to keep seeing these attacks, and we`re not going to beat them all in court.
MADDOW: Marc Elias. Democratic elections attorney, co-founder of Democracy Docket, filing a lawsuit tonight against this Georgia bill just signed by - - by Republican governor, Brian Kemp -- Marc, thank you for helping us understand. I appreciate it.
ELIAS: Thank you, and thank you for amplifying this important issue.
I have an update for you, regarding state Representative Park Cannon. We just showed that footage of her being arrested.
Governor Brian Kemp signed this law, tonight. It was -- it passed the House today. It passed it through the Senate instantly. And then, instantly, thereafter, put it on the governor`s desk and he signed it tonight in a lightning-fast process.
We saw Representative Park Cannon, a Democratic state representative in Georgia, knocking on the door where Governor Kemp was holding the signing ceremony for this bill. She was arrested for knocking on the door.
I mentioned that there were competing reports, tonight, about whether or not she was still in jail. We have just been advised that she is out of jail. She has been released on bond. But she has been charged with obstruction of law enforcement, and preventing or disrupting general- assembly sessions, which are serious charges.
She was handcuffed, and dragged out of the state Capitol for knocking on the door to be admitted to the signing ceremony. Fulton County district attorney`s office, again, says that she has been released on bond. But this is as ugly as it gets in Georgia.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: You know how sometimes we do something on this show that nobody else in the news is talking about? This is one of those. This is why you watch, I know.
All right. Here goes. There are two big, well-marked exit doors from COVID that we, as a country, are basically not using. One of them is something we are screwing up because of disinformation, malicious and otherwise, about vaccines.
And this is something you ever seen you have seen a lot of coverage of. Lots of communities having lots of different problems with vaccine hesitancy and it`s got a whole bunch of different drivers. It`s everything from generic anti-vaccine conspiracies and fears to, I kid you not, online- Russian disinformation designed to undermine Americans` confidence in Western vaccines because they compete with the Russian ones.
Anti-government fears about the development and approval of the vaccines. Bad communication and misunderstandings about the merits of one-approved vaccine, versus another. There is all sorts of different drivers of it.
And as vaccines become more and more available to us, the reluctance, in some quarters, to actually get vaccinated when a vaccine is offered, it has been a big focus of concern and discussion and news attention. And work, right now, by the Biden administration and some of the states that have been handling this better than others. You have heard a lot of news about that, right? And rightfully so.
That really is an exit door for our country, from COVID, right? Over half- a-million Americans, dead. Still, more than a thousand Americans, dying every day. There is an exit door from COVID called mass vaccination. We will deprive ourselves of that way out of this nightmare, unless we can contend with vaccine hesitancy and vaccine resistance we see among some Americans. That`s exit door number one that we`re not using. And you have heard quite a bit about that one, I`m sure.
Here is the other one. The other exit door from COVID that we are not using, but this one, no one`s talking about. This is something that is available. This one doesn`t have the same malicious forces and quacks and conspiracy theories and long, difficult history behind it.
This one is an exit door from COVID that we`re not using, just because people don`t really know about it, because it`s not being offered to them, and they don`t know to ask for it. It`s treatment. It`s new drugs that successfully treat COVID. So if you get COVID, you won`t get sick and die from it.
These treatments have been around, for a little bit now. They first started getting approved by the FDA, late last year. President Trump, himself, got treated with one of these drugs when he was in the hospital. These drugs are around. There`s been a lot of studies already showing that they are effective.
But as a leftover of the Trump administration`s general non-strategy for COVID, this was another thing the federal government, under Trump, didn`t really do anything about. They just assumed the states would come up with something, in terms of distributing these treatments and making sure that people who needed them, got them.
Well, it turns out, most states didn`t do that. Most states, to this day, offer no easily-accessible data about where and how to get access to COVID treatment, if you`re COVID positive and you have got symptoms.
I mean, states like Massachusetts, where I live, and New York and Florida and California. If you test positive for COVID and you have got symptoms, you want to know what your options are for getting treated. Those big states, with tons of cases, they give you virtually nothing, no information about treatment, unless you already know about it and you`re specifically searching for it, by name.
In Florida, specifically, if you click on the link on the state website about what to do if you have got COVID and you`re feeling sick. Florida helpfully offers you information right up top about getting a vaccine.
Which is, like, you know, I`ve been in a car accident. I`m hurt. I need an ambulance. And the state of Florida drives up and offers you a seatbelt, right? Late. Bad timing.
If you have already got COVID, a vaccine to keep you from getting COVID is not going to help. But if you do get infected, 50,000-plus Americans are still getting infected every day, there are drugs, new drugs, that are sort of shockingly effective at treating it.
The Trump administration left the administration of those treatments to the states. Most states have blown it, in terms of getting those treatments actually used by people they can help. And you may have seen headlines like this one out of the state of Michigan last month. Why is a stockpile of promising COVID-19 treatment sitting unused in Lansing? Why, indeed?
Well, the Biden administration is now trying to change that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MARCELLA NUNEZ-SMITH, COVID-19 HEALTH EQUITY TASK FORCE CHAIR: The positive impact of these treatments has become pretty clear. These treatments can make a huge difference. Eli Lilly`s newest monoclonal antibody combination therapy has shown to reduce hospitalizations and deaths by up to 87 percent.
So, the National Institutes of Health, you know, and the infectious-disease society of America. They both formally recommend the use of this treatment, in patients with mild or moderate COVID-19. These treatments are efficacious. They show enough promise in clinical studies to recommend their broader use during this pandemic to help us save lives.
For all Americans, these treatments for COVID-19 are free. And the cost of administering them is covered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s the Biden White House, trying to get out the word, Dr. Michelle Nunez-Smith.
And I think they are trying to get out the word, particularly to doctors. Hey, start using these freaking drugs. They drop the chances of hospitalization and death, in high-risk COVID patients by 87 percent. That`s really close to a cure for the people who are most at risk of dying. Why are we not treating people with this?
Dr. Fauci, Dr. Anthony Fauci keeps briefing, as well, on this. And it`s interesting. It never gets any pick-up whenever he does it because I think all anybody in the news media wants to talk about is vaccines but these numbers he is talking about. These are nuts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIRECTOR: In individuals, who were ambulatory with the question being asked, can we keep them out of the hospital? It showed a 70 percent reduction in COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths.
Again, in ambulatory patients, reduced hospitalization and risk of death, with an 85 percent reduction, when you look at this, compared to placebo. When you have infection in a nursing home, and you looked at the groups, be they staff or residents, who are randomized to placebo, versus Imdevimab, there was an 80 percent reduction in the incidence of moderate or worse COVID-19. Where there is an infection in the household setting, the results were really dramatic. There was 100 percent protection against symptomatic infection, in the group compared to placebo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He is talking about all different studies there, though. But those numbers are crazy, 80 percent reduction, 85 percent reduction, 70 percent reduction, 100 percent protection against symptomatic infection.
Numbers like that do not come along, often, in medical science. The scientists keep briefing on this stuff. And they keep saying things, like, really dramatic results, a huge difference, proven to be efficacious.
These treatments are now the recommended way to treat COVID now, by the National Institutes of Health and by the Infectious Disease Society of America.
This is not some snake-oil thing. This is proven stuff. And these treatments are a potential-exit door from the worst of the COVID nightmare. We`re just not taking it. We`re just not using these treatments, as a country, broadly speaking. And that`s because people don`t know to ask for them, or how to get them.
For patients over 65, for patients of any age with other health conditions that make you high risk to get sick and potentially die from COVID. The really, unequivocally, not at all bad, all-good news, is that, for free, in this country, you can get a treatment that`s 70, 80, 87 percent effective at keeping you healthy, and well and out of the hospital. Even though you have got COVID, and you`re at high risk and you`ve already got mild to moderate symptoms. That`s incredible. But more than 70 percent of the doses of these drugs available aren`t being used. They`re just sitting there.
Well, the Biden administration has just started $150 million new effort to get these treatments out there, and into patients to save lives. These drugs, these monoclonal antibody treatments, they`re not just for rich and connected people, like when Donald Trump got it in Walter Reed last fall.
These treatments really are for everybody, and they`re free. We know they work. They`re available for the taking. In most cases, they`re just not being used. But the places that are using these treatments, those places ought to be getting national headlines about how well it`s working, how we do have this very effective way to actually beat COVID.
No, it`s not vaccinations to prevent people from getting COVID. This is to treat people, and keep people alive, once they get infected. Fifty thousand-plus Americans are still getting infected, every day. Turns out, we can keep them alive. Keep them out of the hospital.
Like, the South Carolina hospital system that reported, earlier this month, that they have treated over 1,200 high-risk patients in South Carolina with one of these combination monoclonal antibody therapies. After treating more than 1,200 patients with this drug, the percent that needed to be hospitalized was under 3 percent, which is a crazy-low percentage for COVID patients, otherwise at high risk for hospitalization.
Also, the high incidence, high-risk factor community in Imperial Valley, California, where their hospital started proactively treating hundreds of patients with antibody infusions, anybody in a high-risk category, treated right away, right after they tested positive. Their hospitalization and death rates at the medical center plummeted among those who took the treatment. We spoke with their medical director here, last month.
And part of the friction. We talked to Dr. Fauci about these treatments and he explained that part of the friction for why more people aren`t taking this drug is that it needs to be infused. It`s like a shot that you have to sit there and take for an hour. You have to sit there for an hour, while the drug is infused into you.
That logistical thing is seen as enough of a hustle that patients aren`t being told to take these drugs because nobody wants to arrange infusions for them. But infusions aren`t a difficult thing. It`s not rocket science. It`s not complex. We can do it in every state in the country.
In Michigan now, one senior state health official has started bringing infusions in to long term care facilities. So, your aunt or grandpa in a long term care facility, your older friend. He or she tests positive at that facility.
In Michigan, they started this program where they bring these monoclonal antibody treatment into those facilities. They do the infusions for people right there where they already are after a positive test. And in those high-risk patients, they are, again, seeing below 3 percent of them having to go to the hospital. They are seeing instant improvement.
And I know this is a thing that nobody else is talking about in the news. I know. We`ve had to scour local news stories and White House transcripts that nobody else picked up on or wrote news stories about in order to put even just this story together.
But that`s -- that`s dumb. In the middle of a pandemic that is still killing over a thousand of us every day, where the vast majority of us still aren`t vaccinated, it out to be three-inch headline territory that we`ve got something. We Americans have got something in quantity sitting on shelves ready to go that`s all but a cure for this disease, and it`s free to any of us, and we all qualify for it if we`re COVID positive and we need that very generous criteria about what counts to make you high risk for getting sick.
The Biden administration is trying to get the word out. Now, at last. But, man, scream it from the rooftops. We could cut our hospitalization and deaths over 70 percent right now with what we`ve already got if we just did this, if we just got this together. We should get this together.
We`ve got more ahead with somebody who knows this first hand. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Today, at the first formal press conference for President Biden, there were zero questions for him about COVID. Before he started taking questions, he announced he`s doubling the vaccination goal for our country. He wants 200 million vaccination doses in 100 days now, talked about the promise of COVID relief bill.
But no reporters asked him any question at all. I would have asked about the administration`s new effort to try to get Americans who have COVID treated for the disease.
Joining us now is Dr. William Fales. He`s professor of emergency at the Western Michigan University. He`s also state medical director for the Michigan Health Department`s Bureau of EMS, Trauma and Preparedness.
Dr. Fales, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to be here tonight. I appreciate it.
DR. WILLIAM FALES, WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY EMERGENCY MEDICINE PROFESSOR: Rachel, thanks for having me and more importantly, thanks for taking the time during the show to shed some light on this really important therapy.
MADDOW: Well, I was struck by the news out of Michigan. We saw interesting reporting that much Michigan like a lot of states had these promising therapies on hand but they were just sitting in a warehouse unused. But also, you and your colleagues have pioneered efforts to try to get more patients who could benefit from them to uptake these therapies, to actually get them to people where they are.
Can you tell us a little bit about you`re trying to do that?
FALES: Yeah, it`s really a multi-prong approach. When we first took delivery back in November, Michigan like most every state was being hit pretty hard by COVID. And initially we provided the therapy to the monoclonal antibodies to every hospital in the state. And some of them embraced it right away, some of the larger academic centers. Interestingly some of the more rural and smaller hospitals jumped on the monoclonal bandwagon.
They were -- really, at the time they were worried about their hospitals being overwhelmed with COVID patients. We saw a big uptake in our rural hospitals in the Upper Peninsula using the antibodies. But they still -- we had many hospitals that were not using it.
So, we`ve tried hard to get the word out to clinicians, probably not as well to the patients. And I think that`s really what hopefully we`re doing tonight is letting patients know that this is a therapy.
You mentioned the nursing home response. This is something I think we`re really proud of in that when these nursing homes have an outbreak, this is -- we kind of refer to this as a mass casualty instant in evolution. And now with the antibodies, we`re able to scramble a team of state nurses and partner with local paramedics and come in and in the matter of a couple of hours, treat 20, 30 patients at one time with amazingly good success.
Just a very surprising small number, very few number of hospitalizations in a group that`s super high risk.
MADDOW: I mean, it sounds like that could become a sort of standard of care in congregate living facilities. Obviously part of a logistical difficulty is that you`ve got to get somebody to an infusion center or some other health care setting in which they can get an infusion. It`s not the most complicated thing. That`s not the most common medical procedure.
But if you can meet people where they are, you can --
FALES: I`m sorry? It`s not hard to --
MADDOW: You can bring in those things where people --
FALES: -- that can be done in any hospital, any emergency department. We`re sending paramedics out and nurses out and doing them in people`s homes. So it`s not hard. That also doesn`t make it easy. So, it requires a little bit of planning or fair amount of planning, but it can be done.
MADDOW: Dr. William Fales, medical director of Michigan`s Bureau of EMS, Trauma and Preparedness, I`m saying your full title because I`m implicitly conveying to state health officials and the people who know them around the country right now that they should call you and talk to you about the progress you`ve been able to make on this in Michigan because I do think that it`s a way to save a lot of lives and to keep a lot of people out of the hospital. And it just -- people need to -- people need to know it`s available.
Thanks for helping us understand it, sir.
FALES: You bet. And for the record, I am not a snake oil salesman. So, thank you.
MADDOW: Yeah, indeed. Absolutely.
All right. That is going to do it for us tonight. Thank you for being here.
We`ll see you again this time tomorrow.
Now it`s time for "The Last Word" with Lawrence O`Donnell.