Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott ended the state`s mask mandate
and boasted that Texas is now 100 percent no restrictions to protect people
from the coronavirus. Republicans in the Senate have decided that not only
are they opposed to the COVID relief bill, they`re going to do everything
within their power to stretch it out as long as possible and delay COVID
relief as long as they can. Interview with Senator Chris Murphy of
JANAI NELSON, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR-COUNSEL: Expect
that states would in all likelihood adopt many of these democracy expanding
measures because they`re good, because they`re good for our democracy, and
they`re healthy, and they invite a more inclusive electorate, and that is
exactly what this federal legislation is pushing for and what we hope
states will eventually come around to accepting and embracing.
But federal -- it has no violation of state rights, and it is critically
constitutional given the broad congressional authority that exists in the
Constitution to regulate federal elections.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": Janai Nelson, Nse Ufot, thank you both.
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. Much appreciated, my
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you here.
Now, by rules of the court, we`re not allowed to record what happens, let
alone broadcast a recording of it on TV. Federal courts don`t allow cameras
in the courtroom.
Now, reporters and members of the public are allowed to be there themselves
in person to watch or cover for the press most court proceedings, but
that`s it. All right? You can sit in the courtroom and take notes and
report on what you saw and what you heard while you were there, but no
No still cameras. No video cameras. No tape recording of the court
And that`s been true forever in federal courts. I mean, you have to allow
reporters in and members of the public in because it`s a key value in our
constitutional system that the administration of justice is -- it`s a
public thing. It`s open to the public.
It`s transparent. We can see what court proceedings are like. We can see
what federal trials are like, so most proceedings let the public in, let
reporters in to watch, but no cameras.
And some state guards do let cameras in, and it`s a controversial thing
they don`t do it in the federal system. But in the federal courts, federal
judges have decided against it. I think the basic idea is they don`t want
the sensationalism of having federal trials play out on live TV or play out
on the news.
They don`t want people involved in federal court proceedings playing to the
camera for a fact, knowing it`s going to be broadcast on TV later.
All this to say, I cannot play you the tape. I cannot play you a recording
of what happened, but many court proceedings are held by Zoom these days
just like everything else because of the pandemic, and so today, a lot of
reporters were listening in at this particular federal court proceed
proceeding over Zoom, and no, I cannot play you the tape of the screaming
and yelling at this court hearing, but I can tell you with confidence there
was definitely screaming and yelling.
Now, we just got the transcript tonight because reporters were able to
listen in while this thing happened live, we know the tone in which the
words in the transcript were uttered. "The Washington Post" and the "New
York Times" simply called it a, quote, tantrum. "USA Today" described the
defendant in this case as, quote, erupting. "The Daily Beast" described him
as, quote, losing it in court.
And I`m not a good actor, so I`m not sure how much emotion I can accurately
convey here, but here it is.
The judge: Mr. Barnett, are you with us? You may be muted Mr. Barnett. We
may have lost Mr. Barnett who is obviously the reason we`re all here this
The courtroom deputy: Mr. Barnett?
The defendant, Mr. Barnett: yes.
The judge: Ah, thank you for joining us again. Good morning, Mr. Barnett.
This is Judge Cooper. Can you hear me?
The defendant: Good morning. Yes, I can hear you.
The judge: Okay, just like last time we would obviously usually do this in
person, but due to the pandemic we are proceeding remotely. Are you okay
with proceeding via telephone this morning?
The defendant: Yes, that`s fine.
The judge: Okay. Very well. If you could mute your phone now, unless we
need to hear from you, that would be very helpful.
The defendant: Okay, I`ll mute now.
The judge: Thank you, sir.
Then the judge turns to the prosecutors. He says: All right, Ms. Dohrmann
or Ms. McClain, where are we?
One of the prosecutors, Nicole McClain, says: Yes, your honor.
So at this time I believe there`s going to be a change in counsel in this
case, which means the defendant is actually changing his defense lawyers,
and they`re in the middle of that process happening.
Prosecutor says: I had sent over to the defense lawyer a proposed
protective order for this case for discovery that he was going to share
with his client and speak to his client about. We`ve provided some
discovery informally in this case, specifically through the U.S. attorney`s
office in Arkansas. The government is still undertaking this massive effort
to gather discovery in this and all of the Capitol riot cases. What the
government is going to ask for today is for a continuance of 60 days to
gather discovery, to discuss the protective order, and for the new
attorneys in the case to get up to speed on what has been done.
The judge: And the last time we were here, no plea offer had been extended.
Is that still the case?
The prosecutor: That is still the case, your honor, and that is still the
case in all January 6th cases -- meaning no January 6th arrestees have been
offered a plea deal by the government.
The judge says: Okay, just out of curiosity, what is the government`s
estimates of the guidelines range for the dangerous weapons charge here.
Have you done that calculation?
There`s then some discussion between the judge and the prosecutors on how
much time in prison the defendant might ultimately be looking at if he`s
convicted on the dangerous weapons charge he is facing. That resolves like
The prosecutor: For the 1512, it`s going to be the highest offense level
here. I believe it`s going to be a base offense level of 14, the maximum
sentence on the 1512 is a 20-year term of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
The judge: Okay, all right, just trying to figure out what we`ve got.
Then he turns to defense counsel. Counsel, May 4th at 11:00 a.m., does that
work for you?
Defense lawyer: One moment your honor. Yes, that works for me. Yes.
And then up pops the defendant. He unmutes himself.
Defendant: I`m sorry, I need a side bar with my counsel. That doesn`t work
for me. I need a side bar.
A different defense lawyer stands up. Richard, this is Steven Metcalf.
The defendant: I need a side bar. I need a side bar.
Defense lawyer Steven Metcalf: Listen, Richard, this that we`re talking
about now, this is a date wholly separate from any application for bail for
you, so just hang tight. We`re going to hash out everything we need to with
the court right now. There are a couple of other issues that we need to
address and we`re going to speak to you when we give you a call back. Did
you hear me?
The defendant: Yes, I understand, but I`ve been here for a long time. I`ve
been here a month, and they`re going to set it for another month, and
everybody else is getting out.
Defense lawyer: Richard --
The judge: Okay.
Defense lawyer: I`m asking you to just hang tight. We`re going to address a
couple of other matters.
The defendant: I don`t agree with this date. It`s not fair.
First defense lawyer: So, Mr. Barnett --
The judge: All right, counsel, let me cut this short, okay?
The defendant: I`m on the phone. I can`t have a side bar with my attorney.
It`s not fair.
The judge: Counsel, why don`t we take five. The defendant, we need to start
doing this in person.
Remember, the defendant just consented to doing this not in person when the
judge asked him directly at the start of the hearing, but now he says we
need to start doing this in person.
The judge: Mr. Barnett, hold on, sir. We`re going to take five. And one of
you, meaning one of the defense lawyers, you can step into another room and
contact Mr. Barnett. Is that possible?
The defendant: It is possible. We`ve done it before.
The judge: Hold on, sir, hold on. Here`s what we`re going to do. The court
will set a date for a further status hearing on May 4th at 11:00 a.m.
The defendant: Oh, no, sir.
The judge: In the meantime, sir, if your counsel --
The defendant: I have a phone number right here. He can call me. He`s done
this before. I`ve got a phone number right here he can call me on.
The defense lawyer: Judge, I`ll take the number.
The judge: All right, take the number, speak to your client and we`ll
reconvene in five minutes.
The defendant: The government keeps dragging this out and letting everybody
Defense lawyer: Richard -- Richard, meaning the defendant -- Richard, I`m
advising you to just stop.
The judge: Counsel, step out and call your client.
The court goes into recess.
Now, it is not reflected in the official transcript that we have obtained,
but one reporter who is monitoring the hearing today for `The Daily Beast"
swears that at that point in the proceeding as they`re going to recess, the
defendant also screamed forgive me, quote, this has been a bunch of crap.
The defendant in question here is this fellow who you`ll recognize from the
immediate aftermath of the January 6th attack. This is the guy who mugged
for the camera with his feet up on the desk in Nancy Pelosi`s office who
outside the Capitol bragged to reporters about what he had stolen from
After the attack after which he walked free and went back home, local law
enforcement in Arkansas declined to go arrest him. They just got in touch
with him and gave him time to come turn himself in on his own schedule.
When FBI agents arrived at his home in Arkansas with a search warrant, he
told them that he had moved all of his guns out of the house and that they
wouldn`t find anything in his house to incriminate him because he told the
officers, quote, I`m a smart man. You ain`t going to find nothing out
there, I assure you. I`m a smart man.
Among the things officers did find at his house was the empty packaging for
the 950,000 volt cattle prod style stun gun that he allegedly wore into the
Capitol. Oh, I guess that is something that they might find there.
The FBI affidavit in his case points out that in some of the photos of him
reveling in Nancy Pelosi`s office, you can actually see the top of that
950,000 volt stun gun there on his left hip tucked into his belt.
I`m a smart man. You won`t find nothing.
His name is Richard Barnett. He has been in custody awaiting trial. He`s
been charged with seven different crimes in federal court. Now he is in the
process of getting himself new lawyers. He apparently didn`t like the old
As I said he`s been charged with seven different crimes including a weapons
charge that we learned in court today could put him in federal prison for
up to 20 years. We also learned in federal court today from his tantrum
that he is absolutely convinced that he shouldn`t be in jail anymore right
now while he awaits trial. He says it is not fair. He thinks he should be
After the judge called this five-minute recess today, so he could try to
get ahold of himself, his lawyers came back into the proceedings with the
judge and calmly agreed to the next date that the judge had proposed in his
case, the next status hearing in his case. The lawyers will file something,
in the meantime to try to get him out of jail while he`s awaiting trial.
That`s actually a separately adjudicated matter.
But as of now, he is very upset about his one month or so he`s been in
federal custody awaiting trial. He`s potentially facing 20 years in prison.
He`s very, very upset, uncontrollably upset today that he`s been in jail
even this long.
Tonight, CNN`s Evan Perez reports that federal investigators are, quote,
examining records of communications between members of Congress and the
pro-Trump mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol as the investigation moves
closer to exploring whether lawmakers wittingly or unwittingly helped the
insurrectionists. The data gathered so far includes indications of contact
with lawmakers meaning contact between the rioters and lawmakers in the
days around January 6th. It seems like what investigators may maybe have so
far is metadata, meaning records that show calls and maybe texts between
members of Congress and the rioters.
Metadata showing that it happened at such and such a time on such and such
a date, potentially even where the phones were located when those
communications happened on or around January 6th. As to the content of
those call and texts, though, sounds like investigators aren`t looking at
the context of those communications yet.
Quoting Evan Perez tonight, quote: Should investigators find proposal
cause, that lawmakers or their staff aided insurrectionists they could seek
warrants to obtain the content of the communications. Quote: So far,
investigators haven`t found evidence that members of Congress knowingly
aided or were involved in the insurrection but the FBI has seized devices
belonging to alleged rioters and has found communications that show
connections that investigators plan to further examine.
That new reporting from CNN tonight, it hasn`t been confirmed by NBC News,
but if federal prosecutors are looking at direct communications between
members of Congress and the rioters around January 6th, that dovetails a
little bit with what we learned from Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan last week.
Congressman Ryan has been really directly involved in the January 6th
investigations in part because he heads-up the part of the house that
oversees the Capitol Police so he has very close working relationship with
the Capitol Police, and he told us here last week that federal
investigators are also now reviewing footage, meaning videotape footage of
Capitol tours that were given by some members of Congress or their staff
the day before the Capitol attack.
Some members of Congress have come forward and say they believe their
colleagues in the House, other members of Congress may have invited into
the Capitol the day before the attack people who were part of the mob the
following day on January 6th. Congressman Ryan told us that footage of
those weird Capitol tours has been handed over to the U.S. attorney`s
office in D.C. so federal prosecutors can review that footage to see if, in
fact, those might have essentially been reconnaissance missions facilitated
by sympathetic members of Congress to help the rioters basically case the
joint and get their bearings inside the Capitol before they attacked it and
tried to ransack the place the following days.
There are reportedly more than two dozen federal prosecutors now who have
been assigned to the complex task of putting together potential
prosecutions for planning and aiding and abetting the attack, including the
question of, quote, whether political figures including law lawmakers and
staff aided the attackers.
Today, because of warnings from the FBI and the Department of Homeland
Security and other law enforcement sources, warnings that pro-Trump forces
might, again, try some sort of follow on attack on the Capitol, today, the
House was not in session out of an abundance of caution.
On their schedule they had two bills they wanted to pass yesterday and
today. The For the People democracy reform bill, which we`ll talk a little
bit more about later, and the George Floyd justice in policing police
reform bill. They had planned to do those over two days, yesterday and
today. They changed their schedule because of the threat. They ended up
just staying late last night and passing them both so they didn`t have to
be at the Capitol today just in case.
And everything ended up being peaceful in Washington today as far as
anybody can tell. And so, of course, they`re getting criticized for
overreacting to the threat and these warnings from law enforcement and the
FBI. But, you know, given what happened last time and given, you know, the
stun gun guy throwing the tantrum over still being in custody today, you
know, he was sort of right about one thing. Of the 300-plus people arrested
thus far for their part in the pro-Trump violent mob attack on the Capitol,
most of those 300-plus people have been released on their own recognizance
to await trial from home.
Most of those people are at liberty rite now, even some of the people
accused of and charged with some of the most violent and intimidating acts
have been let out by judges who have decided they don`t need to stay in
custody until their trial date comes around.
So, you know, maybe the House is still a little skittish given what they
went through less than two months ago. When an operative pipe bomb was
found outside an Iowa voting site on Tuesday this week, that was unnerving
enough on its own. It was a community center at a small city in Iowa just
outside Des Moines, voting was going on at that site on Tuesday on a local
measure about a school board spending capital improvement funds like an
incredibly noncontroversial very local measure, and somebody tried to bomb
a voting site where that was what people were turning out to vote for?
That was unnerving enough on its own in Ankeny, Iowa, this week on Tuesday.
But it was also a reminder that whoever placed the two real operable
dangerous pipe bombs at D.C. at the headquarters of the Democratic and
Republican parties, that bomber has still not been caught from January 6th,
despite a six-figure reward from the FBI for information leading to the
arrest of that person, despite pretty clear surveillance video of that
person right around the time the person was planting the bombs. The bomber
in conjunction with the January 6th attack is still at large.
So we`re not yet two months out from the attack. The House was closed today
out of an abundance of caution after warnings about a potential follow-on
attack from Trump supporters, an attack that didn`t in the end arise. The
Senate, though, stayed in session today, and, actually, it looks like
they`re maybe going to be there deep into the night and into the wee hours.
This is a live shot of the Senate floor right now.
Republicans in the Senate have decided that not only are they opposed to
the COVID relief bill, they`re going to do everything within their power to
stretch it out as long as possible and delay COVID relief as long as they
can. A Republican Senate objection today resulted in the Senate clerks
being forced to read out loud every word of the 600 plus page COVID relief
Republicans in the House tried a stunt like this after President Obama was
elected in 2009. You might remember that the Democrats in the House back
then responded by hiring a speed reader basically to troll the Republicans
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rules require that the amendment be read, the clerk
will read the bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In lieu of the matter being proposed to be inserted by
the amendment offered by blank, insert the following, section one, short --
shorten that list, (INAUDIBLE) may be cited as the Energy Production and
Innovation and Conservation Act, table of content. Table of contents for
the act is as follows: Section 1, short title and table of contents. Title
1, clean energy standards. Section 11, federal clean energy standard. Title
2, American energy. Subtitle 8, conservation and efficiency --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You`re going to make us read the bill out loud? Well, we`ve just
hired on a new staff speed reader and he`ll be doing that reading for us.
That was 2009 in the House. For a variety of reasons, the Senate apparently
cannot do that same thing tonight. They can`t bring the speed reader back,
and so for hours now we have been listening to the poor clerks of the
Senate who did not ask for this, and who are getting no thanks from the
Republicans requiring them to do this.
For hours now, the clerks in the Senate have been pointlessly reading out
loud the 600 plus page text of the COVID relief bill. Also all so it takes
longer for the COVID relief bill to pass.
The text of the bill is not a secret. It has been available for a long time
for anyone to read if they wanted to. This stunt tonight making all the
clerks have to do this, it`s not going to stop the bill from passing. It`s
just Republicans making these clerks do all this all day so it takes longer
and longer and longer and it`s must exhausting for COVID relief to
ultimately pass making the clerks pay, making the Senate staff pay, that
will show them. It`s hilarious, right?
And I will say just as an aside here, what they`re doing tonight making
these clerks read the bill for no reason, read the whole thing out loud,
this is the big gun that the Republicans have been threatening Democrats
with this year in the Senate. So this whole question as to whether or not
Democrats will vote among themselves to get rid of the filibuster.
The filibuster means it takes 60 votes to pass something instead of
majority, instead of 50 votes. Democrats have 50 votes. They can`t get 10
Republicans to side with them on anything. So, as long as this filibuster
rule exists, which puts a 60-vote requirement on any legislation, nothing
else is going to pass except for a few things that they can pass, a few
things that they can pass through arcane budget rules that really limit
what they can do.
So Democrats have been debates amongst themselves whether they should vote
to get rid of the filibuster so they can pass stuff in the Senate and not
let the minority Republicans block all legislation. While Democrats have
been debating that amongst themselves, Republicans have been pounding their
chests and threatening that if the Democrats vote to do that, the
Republicans will go nuclear. They will make the Democrats rue the day.
What they have threatened specifically is that they will slow everything
down in the Senate so much that it will just be impossible to do anything.
It will be totally exhausting.
What they`ve been threatening to do is exactly what they`re doing tonight.
What they`re threatening if Democrats get rid of the filibuster is to do
this, to force the bills to be read out loud in order to keep the Senate in
session overnight and on weekends, which is, in fact, really annoying and a
big pointless waste of time, but you know what? Republicans, if you`re
going to do this anyway, even while the Democrats have kept the filibuster
intact, then why should they be afraid of your threat to do this. You`re
already doing it.
It`s like breaking somebody`s glasses and then saying, oh, you better do
what I say or I`ll break your glasses. Dude, you already broke my glasses.
Why would I do what you want now?
You can`t threaten me with what I`ve already done. You`ll do more of this?
I`ve already shown that I can deal with this. This is what you`re
threatening me with?
I said a minute ago, I`d say more about this big important bill that passed
the House last night, H.R.1. This is the For the People Act. It`s voting
rights, it`s election reforms. It`s basically small D democracy reforms,
passed the House last night.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama released a really interesting statement, a
strong statement on that bill tonight. She said I`m thrilled to see that
the House of Representatives has passed the For the People Act.
She said that on Twitter, and then she attached this statement that says in
part, quote: While we celebrate historic gains, unfortunately too many
leaders are working to reverse that progress and make it harder for people
with every right to vote to cast a ballot. Our democracy remains under
attack by the partisan and unpatriotic actions of those at the state level
doing everything they can to curtail access to the ballot box.
Make no mistake: the idea that we cannot both hold secure elections and
ensure that every eligible voter can make their voices heard is a false
choice. It`s based on lies and it flies in the face of our history. It`s
sad, it`s infuriating, and she says, quote, it is a genuine threat to our
future that must be taken seriously.
Michelle Obama says, quote: That`s why I`m thrilled to see the house pass
the For the People Act. This bill will make it easier for ordinary
Americans to register and cast a ballot. It will ramp up election security
and end partisan gerrymandering, and it will do much, much more to make
sure that our system of government remains in the hands of the many and not
I urge the Senate to follow suit and pass this bill as soon as possible
because there is nothing more important to the health and future of our
democracy than safeguarding the right to vote.
Statement tonight from former First Lady Michelle Obama on the for the
people act that passed the House last night. She is urging the Senate to
pass it as well. It will not pass the Senate as long as the filibuster is
That bill will never get a single Republican vote, and that means there`s
no way for it to pass into law even though the Democrats have the majority
in the House and the Democrats have the majority in the Senate, and the
Democrats have a Democrat in the White House who wants to sign it. And, you
know, even if the Democrats allowed the filibuster to stay in place for
everything else, allowed Republicans to require a 60-vote margin to pass
everything else, but they narrowed it just so you`re couldn`t use it
against voting rights anymore, and the filibuster`s been narrowed very
The Republicans in 2017 narrowed the filibuster so you couldn`t require 60
votes to confirm a Supreme Court justice. They just made that change in
2017. Why couldn`t the Democrats say, you know what, you changed the
filibuster in 2017 for Supreme Court justices. We`re going to change the
filibuster in 2021 not to get rid of it, but just so you can`t use the
filibuster -- you can`t require a 60-vote margin to pass stuff that relates
to our small d democracy, to pass voting rights legislation.
They could limit the filibuster just that way, and if they did that, that
could pass H.R. 1. That could pass the For the People Act. That could get
the sweeping protections of voting rights enshrined into federal law.
And the Republicans, yes, they`d be very angry and they might retaliate by
slowing the Senate down as much as possible and forcing bills to be read
out loud. Imagine, right?
Honestly, they`re doing that already. All the stuff they`ve been
threatening the Democrats with, they`re already doing it. They`re doing it
tonight. They`re doing it as we speak. So Democrats, what are you afraid
SENATE CLERK: Two, adoption tax period identification number. For purposes
of subparagraph 3 in the place of a defendant who is adopter for adoption,
the term valid identification number shall include the adoption taxpayer --
MADDOW: They say if you`re not prepared to hear the answer, then maybe you
shouldn`t ask the question.
Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott apparently took that advice to heart
this week when the governor ended the state`s mask mandate and boasted that
Texas is now 100 percent no restrictions to protect people from the
Apparently when he made that change this week, he did not bother to ask his
coronavirus advisers about it. Maybe he didn`t like what he thought they
would say if he asked them. Governor Abbott had previously touted that he
had these four nationally recognized medical advisers who would guide all
of his decision-making on stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Texas.
But when Texas reporters called those advisers this week after the big
policy change, three of the four said, nope, they`d never been consulted by
Governor Abbott about this huge change he just made and the fourth told
reporters that he, quote, couldn`t say whether the move was a good idea.
Not much use having a bunch of top flight medical advisers for your COVID
response if you`re just going to not ask them before you lift all
coronavirus restrictions in the nation`s second largest state.
But the repeal of the mask mandate in Texas and all of the restrictions
that are designed to protect Texans from getting COVID 19, for all the
danger it could pose to the health of Texans by creating another surge in
cases there, it could also easily become a mask problem. Texas has the
second highest number of daily cases in the country. If a state that big
with that many cases gets really cavalier in terms of transmission, that
could be a real problem in terms of America`s efforts to get our whole
One of the things Dr. Fauci has been warning for weeks and weeks is the
more virus transmission there is, the more cases there are, the more likely
we are to see more of these dangerous variants develop. Viruses don`t
mutate unless they replicate. They replicate when they get into new hosts,
when they get into new bodies. More transmission into new people, more
cases means more replication, more replication means more opportunities for
more mutations. And these mutations produce the variants that in some cases
are more resistant to our existing vaccines.
So you see the problem, right? If states start lifting restrictions and
start sparking a surge in new cases, that`s going to lead to more new
variants, which will make the vaccines less effective everywhere.
All the states scrapping their mask mandates, Mississippi, Alabama, they`re
all worrying, but Texas is the most worrying simply because its size means
its actions will have bigger national consequences. Then, of course,
there`s the practical concerns for how these decisions play out on the
Now that Texas has lifted its mask mandate, now that the governor is
gleefully declaring that Texas is 100 percent open and no more masks, all
the conflicts over mask wearing are going to move to the door steps of
individual bids and facilities that will each have to make their own
decisions about whether to require masks and how to enforce it if they`re
going to, given what the governor is saying and what the state rules are
These conflicts have already led to violence across the country. A security
guard in Michigan shot and killed at a Family Dollar Store after refusing
to allow somebody in without a mask. Another man shot and killed a police
officer in Louisiana after the cop escorted him out of a high school
basketball game for not wearing a mask. And in Houston, Texas, the "A.P."
reports that Police Chief Art Acevedo is worried about, quote, more
aggressive encounters like one in December when a customer confronted over
a mask at a Houston bar smashed a glass over an employee`s head.
Houston police officers for their part will continue wearing masks despite
what the governor is doing at the state level. Chief Acevedo says, quote,
we can see conflict coming, sadly, and I think a lot of this is going to be
Joining us now I`m pleased to say is Houston`s police chief, Art Acevedo.
Chief Acevedo, it`s really kind of you to make time to be with us tonight.
ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON POLICE CHIEF: Thank you. Thanks for having me in.
Honored to be on.
MADDOW: What are your concerns about the governor`s decision to rescind the
statewide mask order? What kind of impact do you think that`s going to have
on the Houston PD?
ACEVEDO: Well, I think first and foremost, my concern is for my fellow
Texans. We all know what the science says. We`re supposed to be wearing
these masks when we`re in close proximity to each other, and it runs
contrary to everything we`ve been told.
And quite frankly last time we opened the state back in May of 2020, we had
done really well as a police department keeping the virus down. As of two
days ago, we had 60 officers that are off because of this virus. I promise
you, you come back in six weeks, I hope I`m wrong, but we`re going to see
that many more of our first responders are going to be impacted by the
virus, not to mention our fellow Texans.
On top of that, now we`re going to have more conflict in our community
because in Texas we have property rights, business owners have property
rights, and they have every right to require these masks, and the folks are
going to be called out to deal with the violence that may come from this is
sadly our men and women in blue.
MADDOW: So property rights in Texas, a business owner, for example, can
still insist that a mask has to be worn by any customer coming to that
business or anybody coming to that business for any reason, do you an
anticipate despite that right by the business owner, there will be conflict
that first responders, police officers in particular are going to have to
deal with because those people who don`t want to wear a mask is going to
say, hey, the governor told me I don`t have to wear a mask despite what
you`re telling me.
ACEVEDO: That`s exactly right. We have a governor that has gone against the
science, gone against what`s in the best interests of the health and
collective safety of the men and women and children in this state, and now
what we`re going to see is people are going to say the heck with you, a
police officer or business owner. I`m going to do what I want to do. If it
was happening with a governor`s order, you can imagine what`s going to
happen now that the governor says you don`t have to wear them.
I think it`s bad policy. It`s shortsighted and sadly, when you look at the
fact that we may have enough vaccine for the entire nation by May according
to the Biden administration, we`re so close to getting this done that this
is a step in the wrong direction. It`s going to have a very negative and
deadly impact for the American people, and here are the people in Texas.
It`s something we should all be concerned about.
MADDOW: Chief, do you feel like you have any lessons learned or any wisdom
you can impart to people watching tonight about sort of de-escalation when
it comes to conflicts like that. I think in a lot of states, this a lot of
different circumstances where there`s all sorts of different types of mask
rules, we have -- a lot of us have seen and we`ve all heard about scary
confrontations where people who work at specific workplaces feel threatened
and feel at risk by people coming into those workplaces and not wearing a
mask. We`ve seen confrontations on street corners. We`ve seen
confrontations among passers by.
Have we learned anything about how to deescalate those situations so they
don`t end up in violence?
ACEVEDO: Well, you know, sadly when you look at the issues of violence, up
and generally across the country, police chiefs think that COVID and the
psychological impact it`s had on the American people is impacting violence.
What we hope people will do is listen. You don`t get paid enough to have to
deal with an angry person that, quite frankly, is so self-centered that
they`re more interested in their so-called freedom than in simply wearing
something that can save the lives of their fellow human being.
Please don`t get in a physical confrontation. Just let them go on the way.
If they`re not leaving, call the police. That`s what we`re there. And we`re
trained, helping de-escalate and resolve the situation.
But we`ve seen police officers murdered. We saw here in Houston, a young
man, an employee in a bar with a glass broken over his head simply because
we want people to be decent enough, decent enough, forget what the governor
says, forget what the law says. What does our own humanity call upon us to
do? And that`s to be cognizant that this is one of the best things we can
do is wear masks to keep each other safe.
And I`m hopeful that Texans are by and large good people, God-fearing
people, people that care about their neighbor. This will be a good
opportunity to see who cares about their neighbor and who cares about
themselves. I think it`s going to be very telling about the characters of
the people we live and work with.
MADDOW: Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo -- Chief, it`s kind of you to take
this time to be with us here tonight. Good luck in the days ahead. I know
this is a new challenge for your force.
ACEVEDO: Yeah, thank you very much. Be safe.
MADDOW: All right, much more ahead tonight, stay with us.
SENATE CLERK: In general chapter 77 of such code is amended by searching
after section 7527, the following new section, section 7527A, advanced
payment of child tax credit. A, in general, the secretary --
MADDOW: So this is a live picture, and that`s live sound from the Senate
floor. This is what Republicans think is a hilarious stunt. Will you bring
the sound down a little bit there? I think we get the point, yes, thank
This is what Republicans think is a hilarious stunt to force Senate clerks
to read out loud every single word of the COVID relief bill, not because
it`s not otherwise available for people to read it if they want to. It is.
And not because their own constituents don`t want this bill. This is
actually some of the most popular major legislation in decades.
Republicans just want to make as much of a mess of it as they can, and so
the poor Senate staff is going to have to go all night. Wisconsin
Republican Senator Ron Johnson is the senator who forced this tonight.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut today used his time today in
the Senate to blow up one by one the Republicans` supposed objections to
the COVID relief bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): It`s a little hard to listen to my Republican
colleagues claim that this bill is too expensive when they were willing to
spend the exact same amount of money in 2017 on tax cuts for their wealthy
corporate and millionaire friends. So in many ways, the crisis today is
exponentially worse than it was a year ago when Republicans to a person
were willing to spend $2 trillion on the crisis.
Now, all of a sudden, when Democrats are in charge of the White House, when
a Democratic majority leader sits here in the United States Senate, $1.9
trillion is too much money to spend on a crisis that is taking on a daily
basis three to four times as many lives as it did when we spent this money
a year ago.
Here`s the second critique that is made over and over about this bill. It`s
a partisan bill Republicans say. Well, that is a complaint of Republicans
own making because it is only a partisan bill in the United States Senate.
Three out of four voters support the American rescue plan. All of a sudden
since Democrats took control of the White House and took control of the
Senate, all of these things, which were categorized as COVID relief by
Republicans in March are no longer COVID relief.
You`re just supposed to think of these as extras, as Democratic priorities.
Ninety percent, 95 percent of what`s in the package we`re voting on today
is simply an extension of the same set of funding streams that we
authorized in a bipartisan way a year ago. And so this idea that this is
some Democratic wish list, when we are essentially just extending or
increasing the same funding streams that were in the CARES Act is nonsense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy just picking apart one by one the arguments
that Republicans have used to justify voting against the very, very popular
COVID relief bill. All Republicans are apparently going to vote against it.
It`s very popular. He`s, you know, calling their bluff and pointing out
that even the Republicans have voted for stuff like this with this kind of
a price tag before, quote, all of a sudden since Democrats took control of
the White House and the Senate, Republicans are now clutching their
proverbial pearls and saying how horrible it is.
It is still a live ongoing process in the Senate as the Republicans have
forced the out loud pointless reading of the bill.
Senator Chris Murphy joins us next. Stay with us.
SENATE CLERK: -- 27A, to such taxpayer during taxable year. Any failure to
do so reduced to credit shall be treated as a rising out of a mathematical
and clerical error and --
MADDOW: That is a live shot and that is live sound. Tonight we are in the
middle of a big stunt by Republicans where they are holding up the passage
of the COVID relief bill by forcing Senate staffers to stay up all night
reading every word of the bill out loud for no reason.
They apparently are going to try keep doing things like this to hold up the
bill for days more, if not weeks more because, yeah, definitely, what the
country needs is for us to wait as long as pointlessly possible to pass the
funding for vaccine distribution and the money to reopen schools. It`s
definitely going to pass. We just need to make sure we waste as much time
as possible before we pass it, because that`s how you own the libs.
Joining us is Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.
Senator, I really appreciate you making time to be here tonight. Thank you.
MADDOW: What should we think about what`s happening in the Senate right
now? The country wants the COVID relief bill. It is broadly popular among
Democratic voters, independent voters, Republican voters, the Republicans
are deciding they`re just going to make it as painful as possible, as
exhausting as possible, and take as long as possible, even though it`s
ultimately going to pass.
What do you think the country should take away from that?
MURPHY: Well, you know, this is nothing new, right? Both sides have used
delaying tactics. I think it`s the first time I have ever watched either
party force these clerks to sit there and read every word of a, you know,
But when Democrats have used delaying tactics in the past, we knew the
public was on our side, right? I went to the floor and gave a 15-hour
speech in favor of a background checks bill supported by 90 percent of
Americans. We used all sort of tactics to try to extend the debate on the
repeal of the Affordable Care Act because 70 to 80 percent of Americans
supported our side.
In this case, you know, this is a wildly popular bill. It`s a bill that
people want. As I said on the floor today, 60 percent of Republicans really
want the stuff that`s in here.
So to the extent that they are reading the bill aloud, to the extent
anybody is listening to it, what they`re going to hear is a whole bunch of
provisions, extension of unemployment benefits, $1,400 checks for low and
middle income Americans, money to produce more vaccines more quickly, money
to reopen our schools, all of that is stuff that people really, really
So if they want to extend this debate, I think it, frankly, hurts them
politically. I think it also hurts the American public because we are
running up against some deadlines here, unemployment benefits expire in
about a week. So, we really need to get this done. We will stay through the
weekend to make sure the delay tactics don`t ultimately stop the bill from
MADDOW: It strikes me, and I said something about this earlier in the show
tonight, that what the -- what`s happening on the floor of the Senate, this
forced pointless exhausting delay and waste of time and waste of effort is
the sort of thing that Republicans threaten to do if Democrats reform the
filibuster, if Democrats either got rid of or their owed the rule that
allows Republicans to require 60 votes to pass legislation, so that they
can -- you can instead pass things with just 50 votes, with just a
majority. This is sort of the big gun they threatened to use, the big
proverbial gun they threaten to use. They are doing it without any reform
of the filibuster.
I wonder if that might change the internal negotiations and discussions
among Democrats about whether it`s worth it to try to narrow the filibuster
so that some important legislation can pass.
MURPHY: Well, as you know, I think the filibuster is fundamentally anti-
democratic. I thought that for a long time. The American public made a
choice in 2020. They wanted not only for Joe Biden to be president, but
they wanted his party to control Congress so that his agenda could pass.
The fact of the matter is, that`s difficult when 40 members of the Senate
can hold everything up. What you are seeing tonight is how the filibuster
used to be use. It used to be that if you wanted to filibuster something,
you actually had to stay on the Senate floor. You had to actually make your
case day after day.
If your case was really unpopular, the longer you stayed on the floor, the
worse you did. So people didn`t use the filibuster to stop things that the
American public wanted. Now, that`s not what the filibuster is. It`s sort
of an automatic right of the minority to require 60 votes to get anything
So, one of the reforms we are thinking about when it comes to filibuster is
going back to the old days and saying, if you want to stop something from
passing, you actually have to sit on the floor. You actually have to give
speech after speech because I think the Republicans or Democrats, if they
are in the minority, would be much less willing to use it if they had to do
this, if they had to put on a show in opposition to something that the
American public really wanted.
MADDOW: The reason there hasn`t been a change in the filibuster rules
already is as far as we can tell from the outside a couple of your more
moderate colleagues, Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona and Joe Manchin from West
Virginia has said they don`t want any change in the filibuster rule.
Can you pull back the curtain a little bit and just tell us if anybody is
talking to them about these things, or the type of -- not abolishing the
filibuster but reforming it or tweaking it to make it more meaningful. Are
those things happening? They are the ones that have to be moved here.
MURPHY: I understand folks` impatience. We are, of course, only about 30
days into the new president`s term, only two months into this new session.
And so we are having conversations inside the caucus about how we can
reform the rules. But I don`t know that we should expect that they are
going to bear fruit immediately.
Listen, I do think that there is a belief amongst some in Congress that the
filibuster promotes bipartisanship by requiring members of the minority
party to sign off on something before it becomes law, you are incentivizing
the two parties to come together. There is really no evidence that that`s
how it works. In fact, because it gives the minority party veto power, it
just allows them to sit on the sidelines and do nothing.
It really has been a very long time since the Senate has done anything
meaningfully and bipartisan. Immigration reform back in 2013 was probably
the last time. If you want to get the two parties to come together, then
give the majority party the ability to move things with a majority vote.
That will quickly incentivize the minority party to come to the table and
try to get something that is a little bit closer to their priority list.
So, I think that conversation is going to continue to happen and mature
inside the caucus. My hope is that we will be able to come together around
some rules of reform. Probably doesn`t happen until a little bit later in
MADDOW: Senator Chris Murphy, appreciate you being here tonight. Thank you
MURPHY: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: That is going to do it for us tonight. Thank you for being here on
this fine Friday eve. I`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.
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