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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 4/14/21

Guests: David Rohde, Sherrilyn Ifill


President Biden visited Arlington National Cemetery after announcing Afghanistan troop withdrawal. Live coverage continues of the fourth night of protests in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, after the killing of Daunte Wright. Jennifer Jacobs of "Bloomberg News" is first to report tonight that the Biden administration is getting ready to sanction Russia tomorrow -- Russian individuals and entities in response to Russia`s efforts to disrupt the 2020 election.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That`s right. He was indicted. He defended himself. He was not convicted. He is a U.S. senator in good standing.

Katie Benner, great reporting, thank you so much.

That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

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

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

This is a live look at Brooklyn Center in Minnesota tonight, where protests are expected tonight for a fourth straight evening. This is all happening after a 20-year-old man named Daunte Wright was shot and killed by a Brooklyn Center police officer during a traffic stop on Sunday. That officer resigned from the force yesterday, as did the police chief in Brooklyn Center.

Today, state prosecutors arrested the officer and charged her with manslaughter in the second degree.

But we will keep eyes on Brooklyn Center tonight as we have for the last few nights. There have been several dozen arrests each of the last few nights. There have been very, very heated confrontations between local residents and the police including a lot of tear gas and projectiles thrown.

Tonight, there is a curfew in effect in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. It starts at 10:00 p.m. local time which is 11:00 p.m. Eastern. You see there night is just falling there. We`ve seen things get tense there, particularly after nightfall over these last few nights.

I should also tell you there`s an increased presence of National Guard troops in the area tonight. About 2,000 troops were deployed, National Guard troops were deployed in the Minneapolis area for the last two nights. But as of today that has been increased by 50 percent. We`re expecting more like 3,000 National Guard troops in the streets there tonight.

We will have a live report coming up from Brooklyn Center, from the Minneapolis area later tonight as we keep eyes on -- we keep eyes on what`s expected to be a fourth night of protests.

But we start tonight with a story you may not know about someone you have seen before as a guest on this show, somebody who`s been a guest on this show as a reporter, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter talking about among other things the Trump Justice Department most recently. None that have would necessarily give you any inkling as to just where he has been, what he has been through, what he in fact literally escaped from.

Here it is in his own words, quote: The car`s engine roared as the gunman punched the accelerator and we crossed into the open desert. Another gunman in the passenger turned and starred at us as gripped his Kalashnikov rifle. No one spoke.

I glanced at the bleak landscape outside, reddish soil and black boulders as far as the eye could see. I feared we would be dead within minutes.

It was November 10th and I`ve been heading to a meeting with the Taliban commander along with an Afghan journalist and our driver. The commander had invited us to interview him outside of Kabul for reporting an Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The longer I looked at the gunman in the passenger seat, the more nervous I became, his facial little emotion, his eyes were dark flat and lifeless. I thought of my wife and family and was overcome with shame.

An interview that seemed crucial hours earlier seemed absurd and reckless. We reached a dry riverbed in the car stopped. They`re going to kill us, to hear my journalist colleague whispered. They`re going to kill us.

"The New York Times" published that account by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Rohde, in the fall of 2009. It was the story of what he had been through over the course of the previous year. The previous November, November 2008, a less than a week after the U.S. election where Barack Obama was elected, David Rohde and his two Afghan colleagues, a fellow journalist and a driver were kidnapped outside of Kabul. They were held by the Taliban for seven months in ten days. Before road and his journalist colleagues finally figured out a way to escape and flee into the night.

David Rohde at that time was already a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. And, once wrote escaped and got away from the Taliban, his editor back at "The New York Times" was interviewed back in the United States, about would everybody was not learning about what happened in David Rohde.

His editor was bewildered to report at the time, to tell NBC news of the time, that one of the first things that David Rohde did after escaping from his Taliban kidnappers and getting himself to safety, after seven plus months in captivity, one of the first things he did, after getting himself free, was to send an email to his editor at "The New York Times", because he had some corrections that he wanted to see in a story "The Times" just published.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We begin with news of an incredible escape by an American held hostage by the Taliban for more than seven months. David Rohde, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for "The New York Times" was kidnapped in Afghanistan in November. Friday night, he and another man reportedly climbed over a wall of the compound where they were being held, and fled to safety.

BILL KELLER, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, NY TIMES: He was taken prisoner on November 10th. It makes it 222 days with my count in captivity. We had periodic contact, with David himself, or with the kidnappers. But we`re still long periods of time where we didn`t have information, and it was scary.

I mean, we -- there were certainly times when we wondered whether they had been killed. We had no idea what the outcome was going to be, and in the end, it may just have been that David had an opportunity, jumped the wall and got away.

I had a brief email from him today, because after seven months in captivity, he`s still a reporter. He went online and read the web story that we wrote about his escape, and he had a few small corrections that he wanted to make them. He sounds good, he sounds healthy. He`s completely exhausted, but also exhilarated and relieved.

UNIDENTIFIED FENALE: Incredible, that was Bill Keller of "The New York Times".

Rohde`s wife who married him just two months before the kidnapping says the family is grateful to everyone who helped.


MADDOW: He had a few small corrections that he wanted to make, so he sent me an email.

Imagine having the presence of mind, after being kidnapped and held hostage by the Taliban for a better part of a year, imagine having the presence of mind to get out and immediately contact your editor and sent some and it`s to the paper to make sure the story that is right.

But as I said, ultimately, David Rohde would write the full story himself, of what had happened to him, in a six-part series for "The Times", explaining his kidnapping, his captivity, how they survived, a desperate escape, he and his Afghan journalist colleague used a cards towrope that David Rohde had found and then hidden in a pile of old clothes, that hoping they could use it to escape.

They use that towrope from the car to basically fling themselves over a perimeter wall, it was about five feet wall on their side of it, so it was a 20 foot drop on the other side. They dropped down into his sewage ditch on the other side of it. They ultimately fled into the night in presented themselves at a local militia base. In the middle of the night, he and his colleague walk up to this militia base, and the guards on duty were absolutely convinced that these two guys, showing up in the middle of the night looking like hell, absolutely convinced they were foreign suicide bombers showing up in the middle of the night to kill them all.

This is how Rohde described it. Quote: I held my hands high in the air, and they`re not move an inch. A nervous card could shoot is dead as we stood in the street, with my long beard, scarf and clothes I looked like a foreign suicide bomber, not a foreign journalist.

Another voice came from inside the building, it sounded as if the guard was waking up his comrades. One or two more figures appeared on the roof and aim more gun barrels at us. The guard on the roof intermittently spoke in Pashto with Tahir. I heard Tahir say the words for journalist, and Afghan, and American.

Quote: My arms began to burn, I struggled to slow my breathing. I desperately tried to not move my hands. I told Tahir, tell them we will take off our shirts, thanking the guards my fear that we were suicide bombers with a vest of explosives. Tahir said something in Pashto and the man responded, lift up your shirt, Tahir said, I immediately obliged.

The guard spoke again, he`s asking if you`re an American, Tahir said, I`m an American journalist I said in English. Surprised at the sound of my own voice in the open air. Please help us, please help us.

I kept talking hoping they would recognize that I was a native English speaker. I said we were kidnapped by the Taliban seven months ago. We were kidnapped outside of Kabul and brought here.

I said, do you speak English? Hoping one of the Pakistani guards on the roofs understood. Do you speak English? The guard said something to Tahir. Tahir said, they are radioing their commander. They are asking for permission to bring us inside.

Tahir pleaded with the guards to protect us under the traditional honor code, a Pashtunwali, which required a Pashtun to give shelter to any stranger who asks. He begged them to take us inside the base before the Taliban came looking for us.

About two or three minutes past, the guards stood behind sandbags on the roof. Above us, stars glittered in a peaceful crystal clear sky. For the first time that night it occurred to me, that we might actually succeed. Escape -- an ending I never dreamed of -- might be our salvation.

He says, quote, I held my hands still and waited.

For the whole time that David Rohde was being held captive by the Taliban, "The New York Times" is employer kept quiet about. It in hopes that keeping out of the press making it not public, keeping it from become becoming public, would increase the odds that David would survive. And he did survive, and his survival, his escape, is just a remarkable story of resilience and luck, and keeping your head in unimaginable circumstances, even when they drag on and on and on.

But it has also stuck with me, not because of what it says about David Rohde, but because of what it showed us all, in very starkly human small terms. Would it show us all about the core impossibility, at the heart of the U.S. war in Afghanistan? The core strategic impossibility.

Because what we won there for, obviously, was to depose the Taliban as the ostensible leaders of Afghanistan. To get them out of power, to punish them for giving the al-Qaeda terrorists movement a haven. Al-Qaeda launched the 9/11 terrorist attacks against us, and then in the U.S. invasion push the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan to punish them for the actions of al- Qaeda, and to prevent them from harboring al-Qaeda again, or any other transnational terrorist entity that could threaten the United States again in the same way in the future.

And I say it that bluntly because that is explicitly in the authorization for the use of military force that Congress passed after 9/11, that has been used as a justification for the ongoing U.S. were there ever since, for the two decades since. But it`s to posing the Taliban, taking them out of power, was step one, step two was never all that clear. I mean, the overall idea, was to keep the Taliban, from returning to power, by standing up a different Afghan government that could govern the country and hold the Taliban obey, that could defend itself against the Taliban.

U.S. and coalition forces say state in that country for two decades trying to make that happen. Fighting the Taliban directly, yes, but also trying to stand up and support an Afghan government in Afghan security forces to fight and resist the Taliban themselves. But look at this at a human level, look back to what happened to David Rohde. And his two Afghan colleagues back in 2000 in 2009.

They were kidnapped, while on their way to interview a Taliban commander. That Taliban commander had been interviewed by Western journalist in the past, but for whatever reason he decided he would double crossed them and kidnap them instead of giving you them their interview.

And what David Rohde was able to piece together from captivity, what he would later write about for the times, was the fact that only for the first week that he was kidnapped, only for the first week, that the Taliban was holding him, only for the first week where they in Afghanistan. After just one week, they took him and his colleagues across the Afghan border into Pakistan. And that`s where they kept him. They kept him in a series of different houses and hobbles in Pakistan, for the better part of a year, before he was able to escape.

They kept he and his colleagues in a Taliban safe zone basically in Pakistan where, as he observed, from captivity, he could see that the militant group, the Taliban basically did as they pleased. They basically ran the place. And from which they ran all of their operations in both countries, in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, right?

So just think about that in terms of what that means for strategy. In terms that what that means for the point of what the American government and the American military is doing in Afghanistan. There`s a big U.S.-led war next door, against the Taliban, in Afghanistan. Except that enemy that the U.S. was fighting in Afghanistan, had another place they lived, and worked in planned most of their work.

It`s like if you are trying to lose weight, and so you kept dieting and dieting in cutting back on your portion sizes and your meals, being super disciplined all day long about eating well and never snacking, but then it turns out every night you sleep walk into the kitchen engorged on everything in the fridge, right? Doesn`t necessarily matter what`s happening during the day of that`s what`s happening during night.

Same thing strategically in drastically oversimplified terms, in this 20 years of war. Knocking the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan was one thing. Defeating them in some kind of larger war, preventing them from ever rising again in Afghanistan, that was something that a large U.S. military conflicts in Afghanistan was never going to be able to do.

Not when the Taliban wasn`t confined to Afghanistan and wasn`t really based there in terms of most of what they were doing.

The night that then-President George W. Bush announced in October 2001 that the U.S. military had started the first airstrikes in Afghanistan, the opening salvos of the war in Afghanistan, a prominent Democratic U.S. senator at the time, a senator named Joe Biden, was interviewed on CNN just a few hours after President Bush made his announcement.

Biden told CNN that night from Delaware that he was in favor of the airstrikes, he had in fast been in favor of the start of the Afghan war. He also expressed to CNN confidence that the Taliban would not be in control of Afghanistan much longer. But then he said, quote, the easiest part is going to be taking it down. The hard part is going to be putting it together.

Right. Knocking them out of power in one place turned out to be doable and quickly. Setting up something else to keep them at bay, to defeat them, to unite the nation of Afghanistan under a different kind of government, that didn`t happen, not with 100,000 U.S. troops there at a time, not with thousands of Americans losing their lives there and tens of thousands of Americans being injured there, not in a year of combat there, not in ten years of combat there, not in nearly 20 years of combat there.

And so today, now as president, Joe Biden stood in the exact same place, in the exact same room that President Bush stood in, when he announced the start of the Afghan war nearly 20 years ago. Joe Biden was there today to announce the end of that war.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We cannot continue this cycle, of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create ideal conditions, for the withdrawal and expecting a different result.

I`m now the fourth United States president, to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan, two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth. It`s time to end America`s longest war. It`s time for American troops to come home.

We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago. That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021. Rather than return to war with the Taliban, we have to focus on the challenges that are in front of us.

I`m the first president in 40 years, who knows what it means to have a child serving in a war zone. And throughout this process, my North Star has been remembering what it was like when my late son Beau was deployed to Iraq. How proud he was to serve his country. How insistent he was to deploy with his unit. And the impact it had on him. And all of us at home.

We already have first service members in Afghanistan today whose parents served in the same war. We have service members who are not yet born on when our nation was attacked on 9/11.

War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multi generational undertaking. We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives.

Bin laden is dead and al-Qaeda is degraded in Iraq -- in Afghanistan. And it`s time to end the forever war.

Thank you all for listening. May God protect our troops. May God bless all those families who lost someone in this endeavor.


MADDOW: President Biden speaking today from the same room, same place and same room where President George W. Bush announced the start of the Afghan war nearly 20 years ago.

The president`s remarks were followed by supportive comments by the secretary general of NATO who said all NATO troops will leave Afghanistan on the same timeframe as the United States. That means that all U.S. troops and NATO troops will be out by September 11th of this year.

The president`s remarks were also followed today by the president himself going to Arlington National Cemetery to pay his respects to the 2,488 Americans killed in the war thus far. He was asked by a reporter at Arlington if the decision that he announced today was a hard call. Here is what he said.


BIDEN: Hard to believe, isn`t it? I am always amazed at generation after generation, the women and men who were prepared to give their lives for their country. Look at them all.

REPORTER: Was it a hard decision?

BIDEN: I`m sorry?

REPORTER: Was it a hard decision to make, sir?

BIDEN: No, it wasn`t. To me, it was absolutely clear. Absolutely clear.


MADDOW: Absolutely clear. He says it was absolutely clear.

George W. Bush actually tried to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan after he had started it. He was not able to do so. The Obama administration, President Obama deliberated long and hard about what to do in Afghanistan, as his vice president Joe Biden argued, often without many allies in the administration, that it was time to finally and fully just get U.S. troops out. He did not win the argument back then and troops it not leave under president Obama.

But now, today, Joe Biden is president and he has made the decision. And it`s a firm decision. And it`s not conditions-based. It is a date certain by which U.S. troops will be gone.

He said today, interestingly, that it was not a hard decision. He said it was absolutely clear. A war with the Taliban, he argued today, is not worth more than the 20 years and thousands of American lives we have already put into it.

That Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist David Rohde spent more than seven months being held by the Taliban, in 2008 and 2009. He escaped and was able to write about his captivity.

Today, hearing the president speech, I thought about the service members and military families that I know who have served in Afghanistan, how they`re feeling today. I also thought of David Rohde.

And David Rohde, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, now executive editor at, joins us now. His most recent book is "In Deep: The FBI, the CIA and the Truth About America`s Deep State."

David, it`s a real honor to have you with us tonight. Thanks for making time.

DAVID ROHDE, NEWYORKER.COM EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Thank you, Rachel. I`m amazed by that introduction. Thank you.

MADDOW: Well, I`ve always been sort of stunned by what you`ve been through and how you`ve put yourself together again and got up and continued with what has been an astonishing career.

David, I just wanted to ask you at a sort of personal level, given what you`ve been through, given this incredibly unique set of circumstances that you`ve been through and that ordeal, how do you feel about the president ending the war today?

ROHDE: I feel relief. And what really struck me and impressed me about what you took away from my story is the impossibility of we knowing this war because of the role of Pakistan. And as long as Pakistan continues to give the Taliban a safe haven, the place I was held for seven months, it`s an impossible war to win.

I fear for my Afghan friends. We can talk more about that, there are friends right now I`m desperately trying to get out of Kabul. But I think 20 years is enough. If Pakistan is going to continue to do this, it`s time to leave.

MADDOW: In terms of the sort of worst case scenarios, obviously this is a controversial decision. The president is announcing, the fact that he`s announcing it so definitively, he`s not carrying out a public process where he`s weighing his options, he`s just saying what he`s going to do, I think will circumscribe the debates somewhat.

But you are hearing a lot of criticism today including from people who say that, you know, the Taliban will now ascend, if not in all of Afghanistan, then in most of it, that the Afghan government has never stood, that there will be human rights disaster in the country of a different kind, the human rights disaster we`ve seen there during the course of these 20 years of war.

How do you -- I want to talk specifically about Afghans who have helped Americans in Afghanistan, setting that aside for a moment, thinking about the worst-case scenario, what do you make of the prospects? And whether the U.S. has off options to stop them?

ROHDE: The prospects are terrible. The Taliban carried out a series of targeted assassinations last year, they killed over 100 doctors, humanitarian workers and journalists, Afghan women`s rights activists.

It is right to pull out U.S. troops but it`s also right to vastly increase the number of visas we`re going to give those Afghans who fought shoulder to shoulder with American forces.

My friends who are journalists, Tahir, the Afghan journalist who saved my life, he`s out of Afghanistan but all of his relatives aren`t. I have many Afghan friends who are terrified. The right thing to do is to get them to the United States to help our allies.

A hundred and fifty thousand Afghans have died since 2001, 40,000 of them are civilians. That`s compared to 2,500 Americans. So those Afghan of who fought alongside American troops, we need to help them get out while they can.

MADDOW: Do you have confidence that the U.S. government can do that? I know that in the aftermath of the U.S. leaving Iraq and then ultimately somewhat redeploying to Iraq with the rise of ISIS, Afghan and Iraq -- Iraq and Afghanistan veteran service members advocated fiercely and relentlessly that Iraqis who had helped the U.S. in that conflict should get visas and should be brought home and their families should be protected and American promises to them should be upheld.

Did we learn anything from any of the failures to do that in Iraq that makes you have any confidence that the U.S. government might be better on this score toward the Afghans who helped us as we try to do this now?

ROHDE: I don`t have much confidence. There was sort of a long running Islamophobia in this country. We can bring Afghans here. We can vet them safely. The vast majority that come here are peaceful.

And I would call on the Biden administration, this is a bold move by President Biden. I applaud it. He needs to show how our immigration system can work. He needs to vastly increase the amount of Afghanis that come here in these very few months that exist, he needs to vet them.

I think that is his responsibility, we cannot just walk away from this. It`s a dangerous situation. It could be like you said, the Islamic State after U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq, they took control of much of Iraq. And, you know, U.S. troops could be back in six months.

But I do think this is the right step but we must help get our Afghan allies out of the country.

MADDOW: Pulitzer Prize winning reporter David Rohde now, executive editor at, David, thank you for your time and your insight tonight. Again, your experience there is unique and something that I think everybody has learned from. Thanks for being willing to talk with us about it tonight.

ROHDE: Thank you. Thanks so much.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more to get to tonight on this historic day in the news. As I mentioned at the top, we are keeping an eye on Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, fourth night of protests tonight over the police killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright on Sunday. This fourth night of protests is under way right now as night falls in Minnesota.

We`ve got multiple reporters on the ground describing the situation there as mostly peaceful but tense right now. We`ll be checking in with them and more ahead.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: It spreads across two full pages of newsprint, which is really striking. It says at the top, we stand for democracy. For American democracy to work for any of us we must ensure the right to vote for all of us. We defend the right to vote and oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot.

It was this big ad, like I said, spread across two full pages of print. And it ran today in "The New York Times," also ran in "The Washington Post." And this was not ad taken out by a progressive voting rights group or like the NAACP.

This is what the list of signatories looked like under that pro-voting rights statement: Target, Bank of America, Apple, Cisco, Berkshire Partners, American Express, Wells Fargo. Also the chairmen and chairwomen and CEOs of those and other big, really big corporations, some of the biggest companies in the country.

So yes, the fight to get corporate America off the sidelines, to get them to push to defend democracy and voting rights as we are experiencing the biggest rollback in voting rights in more than a generation, as Republican- controlled states try to clip voting rights everywhere they can, that fight to get corporate America involved in defending American democracy, this big show of force in "The Times" and "The Post" today is a big win, given the size and heft of those corporations.

But also, at the same time it`s not like corporate America is speaking with one voice on this issue. "The Wall Street Journal" now reporting that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the main lobbying arm for big business, the chamber of Congress has simultaneously decided it will pressure U.S. senators to vote against HR-1, the For the People Act, the big national voting rights bill that has already passed the House and that is now pending before the Senate.

It will be interesting to see how that lobbying effort goes, now that so many really big American businesses are wading into this fight and saying they support voting rights. They all say they support voting rights. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is telling U.S. senators, as the chamber of commerce, we want you to vote against voting rights. How`s that going to resolve?

Against that conflicted backdrop today we saw President Biden`s nominee to lead the civil rights division of the Justice Department, Kristen Clarke. We saw her testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on her way to taking that all-important job. If confirmed, Kristen Clarke will be the first African-American woman to lead the civil rights division in the entire 64-year history of the Civil Rights Division.

Senate Republicans spent the whole day berating Kristen Clarke over all the terrible things they see in her record as an accomplished and uncontroversial civil rights lawyer just as they tried to do in the hearing for Vanita Gupta, president Biden`s nominee for the number three job at the Department of Justice who also happens to be an accomplished progressive woman of color.

Incidentally, the first vote in the full Senate on Vanita Gupta`s nomination is expected for tomorrow. She is expected to be confirmed in a final vote next week even though Republicans have done their best against her.

Just like Vanita Gupta, there`s no reason that Kristen Clarke will not be confirmed to run the Civil Rights Division despite the grilling she got from Republican senators. If she is confirmed, that will put the country one step closer to having a Justice Department that leads the way in protecting the right to vote in states across the country. But whether the business community is going to be a sort of faithful and utile ally in that fight does sort of seem like a jump ball at this point.

Joining us now is Sherrilyn Ifill. She`s president and director counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Ms. Ifill, it`s real pleasure to see you tonight. Thank you so much for making time.


MADDOW: Let me ask you first about the Kristen Clarke nomination. You have been an outspoken proponent that Kristen Clarke is the right person for this job and that she should be confirmed by the Senate. Her confirmation hearing was marked by Republicans sort of doing a Fox News pageant, acting out Fox News prime time arguments against her as if she is the real racist and she is really controversial.

What do you make about this process thus far and her prospects of being confirmed in the end?

IFILL: Well, Rachel, I have to say I thought that Kristen Clarke was masterful today. She`s not a TV lawyer. She`s a real lawyer.

And so she was really able to defend her record. She has an astonishing career as a civil rights lawyer behind her, leading the civil rights bureau at the New York state attorney general`s office. She, of course, was a lawyer at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, leads the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, worked at the Department of Justice for six years.

And so she comes to it with just tremendous experience. But today, what people could see was just the intelligence, the poise, the confidence, and she couldn`t be shaken. It`s unfortunate, we should be thanking ourselves. And I think Senator Cory Booker said that, we should be grateful that someone like Ms. Clarke is willing to serve particularly at this time in the country when we need someone with her vision, clarity, and commitment to really lead, as you say, in the enforcement of the nation`s civil rights laws and to really address the crisis of civil rights that we`re in at this moment in the country.

MADDOW: Part of the crisis or at least the confrontation that we`re having right now in the country is over the crucial issue of voting rights and voter suppression tactics that seem aimed quite specifically at African- American voters, other voters of color, poor voters, disabled voters, other people who can be cut off from the polls if the voter suppression litigation is written the right way to accomplish that goal.

What do you make right now, Sherrilyn, about with the push me/pull you with corporate America, with business interests that are starting to speak out including this remarkable ad today in "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post," starting to sort of find therapy voice as supporters of democracy and supporters of the right to vote, while simultaneously were saying things like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, lobby U.S. senators that they ought to vote against the most important voting rights bill that we`ve seen in a very long time.

IFILL: You know, Rachel, I`m actually quite comfortable with this discomfort, because what we are seeing is a real shake-up happening in corporate America. As I have been appearing and speaking with business leaders and business groups, I have been telling them that we are in a democracy moment. You know, there was one crisis that we could see on January 6, because it was filled with violence, because it was there on our TV screens and we could all feel the sense of America slipping away from being a stable democracy.

But I want to be clear that these voter suppression laws that passed in Georgia, that are being proposed in Texas, that just passed in Arkansas, modeled on Georgia, criminalizing giving food and water to people on a line voting. In South Carolina, we just submitted testimony today in opposition to the South Carolina voter suppression bill.

This is as much a threat to the integrity of our democracy as January 6 was, because it`s -- as the Supreme Court has said, the right to vote is preservative of all rights, it is fundamental. And this state by state attack, we saw an attack on the Capitol on January 6, now we`re seeing a state by state attack on voting.

And it`s going to require all of us to stand up and to speak powerfully for democratic principles and that includes corporate America. They don`t get to be bystanders. And this is a moment of reckoning in which corporate America is going to have to tell the rest of the country whether democracy is something that they are agnostic about, whether it is not necessary to the business model of American corporations, or whether they believe that as citizens, and corporations, as you know, actually receive lots of rights as citizens by the United States Supreme Court, well, if you are a citizen, you have an obligation to stand up for our democracy.

And so I think the ads today, that was incredibly powerful. I do feel the need to point out that this shift, this seismic shift, this move, this destabilization and this willingness of hundreds of corporations to speak up, was led by black business leaders, black business executives, who first spoke out in that ad with 72 of them signing it in "The New York Times" several weeks ago. And they listened to the voices of grassroots and community activists and national civil rights organizations pushing back against what was happening in Georgia.

This is what it`s going to take if we`re going to protect and save and strengthen and our democracy. It`s going to take people moving out of their comfort zone and being willing to stand up for the principles that should undergird any true democracy with integrity.

MADDOW: Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director-counsel of the NAACP legal defense and educational fund, Sherrilyn, it`s always really good to see you, thank you for joining us with so much going on in the news that hits your areas of expertise, it`s really good to have you here. Thank you.

IFILL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead here tonight. Stay with us.



MAYOR MIKE ELLIOTT, BROOKLYN CENTER, MN: And my message to all who are demanding justice for him and for his family, is this: your voices have been heard. Now, the eyes of the world are watching Brooklyn Center. And I urge you to protest peacefully and without violence. Let us show the best of our community.

And to the Wright family, I know that there is nothing I can say or do that will bring Daunte back or ease your grief. But I promise you this: His death will not go in vain.


MADDOW: That`s Brooklyn Center, Minnesota Mayor Mike Elliott earlier tonight calling for peaceful protest on what is now the fourth night of demonstrations after the police killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright on Sunday.

Today, the officer who killed Daunte Wright in that traffic stop was charged with second degree manslaughter in Daunte Wright`s killing. That charge carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison. The officer was arrested this morning and taken to jail. She`s been released on $100,000 bail. Her first court appearance is scheduled for tomorrow.

That is the backdrop for day four of protests tonight in the streets of Brooklyn Center.

Joining us from there is NBC News correspondent Ron Allen.

Ron, thanks so much for joining us again tonight. I know you`ve been out there several nights in a row in at times challenging conditions.

What are you seeing tonight and how do you compare it to how the last few nights have been?

RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rachel, as has been the case every night after nightfall, things get a bit more tense. And we have seen more debris, bottles, rocks, going into the police compound in the last half hour or so. It`s a very different crowd tonight. There`s a lot of people riding around on -- in cars and motorcycles, racing up and town the down the streets.

There`s also a lot of hostility directed towards us, towards the media. There was some of this on social media, urging people to smash cameras. That`s one reason we are keeping our distance. There have been a couple of incidents were photographers closer have been pushed back by some elements in the crowd.

The crowd, of course, is very diverse. There are people here from many, many different reasons. But the bottom line is that there`s a lot of just more frustration, anger. This manslaughter charge, people feel just falls very short. They want to see a murder charge. They insist that Mr. Wright was murdered, killed in the streets, and that`s what the charge should be.

They`re also calling in some cases, I was to go some of the leaders of the protest earlier today, they want to see a special prosecutor take over this case, an independent person appointed by the state attorney general, not the local county prosecutor who has been assigned the case who they feel is too close to law enforcement to really prosecute this case in the way that they want to see it happen.

Also today earlier, there was a group of state legislators who have a long list of reforms that they want to see passed in this state including an end to qualified immunity which protects police officers. They want to see changes in the juvenile justice system.

And I don`t want to get into the minutiae of it too much but the point is there are a lot of concerns here that go beyond the Daunte Wright case and go beyond even the George Floyd case.

So when you talk to the organizers, they will tell you, these protests, there`s no end in sight to them. It`s going to go on, regardless perhaps even of the outcome of the George Floyd -- of the Derek Chauvin case regarding George Floyd, because people here feel there is an endemic problem that`s racially based with policing in this state.

And they think that the manslaughter charge is further evidence of that. A lot of people point to the case of officer -- former officer Mohamed Noor, the Minneapolis police officer who back in 2017 was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of a white woman, a resident who called 911 and Noor and his partner arrived on the scene, he opened fire from his squad car when the woman approached, thinking that he and his partner were being threatened. It was a mistaken incident, they would say, he would say.

But he was convicted and sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison. People see that case and they see what`s happening with this white officer, and they just see a double standard. So for so many reasons, these protests are going to continue.

Again, the bottom line, things are relatively calm tonight. We`re still an hour or so from curfew. And that`s when the police and the National Guard, who have a very militaristic looking presence again tonight, a lot of fatigues, a lot of armored vehicles, heavy equipment, that`s when they move out and try to clear the streets. And that`s when we think there could be more trouble -- Rachel.

MADDOW: Ron Allen for us in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, tonight -- Ron, thank you for that.

Again, in terms of what Iran was just referencing in terms of the curfew, the curfew in Brooklyn Center tonight is 10 p.m. local time, which is 11 p.m. Eastern Time. And again, once that curfew is in effect, people are supposed to, if they`re being the curfew, clear the streets and police can use that as the pretext for clearing demonstrators away from the police station, which is where you see them there.

The chain link fence that you can see there at the center of your screen where the protesters are directing their attention, that is essentially a temporary barrier that has been put up with chain link and jersey barriers, around police headquarters in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. It has been the focal point for these demonstrators for the past four nights.

But again, another cold night as night falls in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. And plenty of people they`re making their feelings known in this same site that we have seen them for the past three nights as well.

We`ll keep an eye on this throughout the night. We`ll be right back.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Breaking news tonight from "Bloomberg News". Jennifer Jacobs of "Bloomberg News" first to report tonight that the Biden administration is getting ready to sanction Russia tomorrow -- Russian individuals and entities in response to Russia`s efforts to disrupt the 2020 election. The U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russia made at yet another concerted effort in 2020, to attack and undermine our election to try to benefit Donald Trump campaign. The sanctions are reportedly in response to that.

Also reportedly in response to the SolarWinds hack that hit nine federal agencies and 100 big private companies last year. According to "Bloomberg News", the plan is for the U.S. government to sanction about a dozen Russian individuals, including government officials and intelligence officials, plus 20 Russian entities of some kind. Plus, the reporting that the U.S. government could expel as many as ten Russian officials and diplomats from the United States tomorrow.

This of course, comes right after President Biden and President Putin had, what sounded from the readout, to have been a very tense phone call yesterday. This happens, of course, while Russia has amassed 80,000 troops along its border with Ukraine. That is a show of Russian military force on a scale they haven`t put up since they invaded Ukraine and took a piece of it forever themselves back in 2014.

But again, "Bloomberg News" reporting tonight, that a significant round of sanctions on Russia is coming from the Biden administration tomorrow. We have not independently match that reporting. But we are watching it develop quite closely.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: All right. That is going to do it for us tonight. I`ll see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.