The White House quietly announced that President Biden is not lifting Trump`s refugee cap, and by this evening, the White House was walking it back, saying the president would revisit next month, and increase the refugee cap then. A member of the right-wing antigovernment militia the Oath Keepers pled guilty to two felony counts for illegally entering the Capitol wearing a tactical vest, armed with bear spray. Interview with Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": That is "ALL IN" on this Friday Night.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now with Ali Velshi, in for Rachel.
Good evening, Ali.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Chris, good to see you, have yourself a great weekend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us at this hour. Rachel has the night off, but she will be back on Monday.
It`s Friday, which means we made it to the end of a brutal week. Just in the last hour, police in Indianapolis have released the names of eight people shot and killed at a FedEx facility there last night.
Here they: 23-year-old Matthew R. Alexander, 19-year-old Samaria Blackwell. 66-year-old Amarjeet Johal, 64-year-old Jasvinder Kaur, 68-year-old Jasvinder Singh, 48-year-old Amarjit Sekhon, 19-year-old Karlie Smith, and 74-year-old John Weisert.
Again, these are the eight people shot and killed last night at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. Today police identified the suspected gunman, 19- year-old Brandon Scott Hole. He apparently used to work at the FedEx facility but has not worked there since last year.
Police say they do not have any information about the suspect`s motives, but he did have previous contact with law enforcement. The FBI said this afternoon that about a year ago, Indianapolis police seized a shotgun from Brandon Scott Hole`s house over mental health concerns after a call from his mother. The FBI interviewed him based on unspecified items that were found in his room.
That statement from FBI seems to suggest that at least at one point last year, the shooting suspect was prevented from possessing guns under Indiana`s red flag law. If so, one of the pressing questions about last night`s massacre would be when and how the shooter was able to acquire the gun that he used.
As the city of Indianapolis comes to grips with this horrific shooting still less than 24 hours old, the city of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, is still grappling with the police shooting death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright less than a week ago.
Today, Daunte Wright`s family announced arrangements for his funeral next week. Protesters are gathering outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department as they have been every evening this week. Tonight, for the first time this week the city has decided not to impose a curfew. So we`re keeping an eye on Brooklyn Center, Minnesota tonight, which is just a few miles away from the courthouse where the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd wrapped up this week.
Minneapolis, and honestly, the whole country is on edge as we await closing arguments next week and then ultimately a verdict.
And we`re keeping an eye on Chicago tonight, which is reeling from yesterday`s release of police bodycam footage showing the police shooting death of Adam Toledo who was only 13 years old. The footage shows Adam Toledo to be pretty clearly unarmed and surrendering at the moment he was shot although the officer`s attorney has already released a long, kind of pugnacious defense of his client`s actions.
Like I said, a brutal week for a whole lot of individual families, for a number of American cities, for the country as a whole. We`re going to have more coverage tonight on a number of those still-unfolding events.
But stay with me because there`s another narrative of this week in America, a story in which, even though so many things are broken, some things are working. As of today, the United States has administered over 200 million doses of COVID vaccine, 4 million doses in the last day alone. Nearly half of all U.S. adults have now received at least one dose.
Now, to be clear, cases are still rising in over 20 states, and places like Michigan remain in full-blown COVID crisis right now. So this news should not make us complacent. But the Biden administration is full steam ahead with its vaccine rollout and it`s working. And the American public appears to know it`s working.
In the latest, Pew Research Center poll, fully 72 percent of Americans say they approve of the job the Biden administration is doing with the vaccine rollout, including a majority of Republicans. Again, a lot of things are going wrong right now, but according to a whole bunch of new polling we got this week, Americans also feel like a whole lot is going right.
There is a headline this morning from NBC News, polls show Biden reaping solid approval ratings with popular policies. Four new polls this week all show more Americans approving of President Biden`s performance than disapproving, with his approval rating reaching as high as 59 percent in the Pew survey, not quite as high as President Obama at this point during his presidency but higher than any other president than Ronald Reagan.
The COVID relief bill Biden signed last month remains popular with nearly two-thirds of Americans. The massive infrastructure he`s currently pushing for is also pretty popular.
You know what`s even more popular than the infrastructure bill itself? The way Biden has proposed paying for it, an increase in taxes on corporations. Seriously, people really love that.
Also, this week, President Biden announced the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan by September 11th of this year. It`s a controversial decision, to be sure. Plenty of different opinions on whether this is the right strategic move at the right time. But this will mark the end of America`s longest war. American troops will be coming home.
And however, your mileage may vary on the wisdom of this popular decision, the rollout of this new Afghanistan policy this week was undeniably a demonstration of our government working the way it`s supposed to work. As president Biden was announcing the troop withdrawal to the American people, his top diplomat, the man on the right, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, was in Brussels, consulting with our NATO allies and partners in the Afghanistan conflict. Imagine that.
Then Blinken left immediately for a surprise visit to Afghanistan to assure Afghanistan`s leaders and its people of America`s enduring commitment to that country. It was showing them America`s support by showing up in person, the secretary of state, because that`s what it looks like when you have a functioning government with a functioning foreign policy apparatus.
And let me just be clear, this afternoon "Politico" got hold of a new State Department inspector general report outlining all the ethics violations of the last secretary of state. Mike Pompeo and his wife asked State Department staffers to handle tasks for them. Booking salon appointments, picking up their dog, mailing their personal Christmas cards, planning events for outside political groups that they favor. Honestly, it`s remarkable this inspector general report actually saw the light of day because you will recall, Mike Pompeo got the inspector general who was originally looking into these violations fired when he got too nosy.
Look, we don`t really know, maybe the new secretary of state is also using foreign service officers as his own personal task rabbit service. It`s early days yet. But so far, he seems to be just putting his head down and doing the work like everybody else in the Biden administration appears to be doing.
Today, after that surprise visit to Afghanistan, the secretary of state was back in Washington for the first in-person visit by a foreign leader to the Biden White House. President Biden welcomed the Japanese prime minister. They had a meeting. They had a joint press conference.
They said mutually supportive things about each other`s countries. It was pleasantly uneventful, which can be nice after the last few years. The Biden administration today did what seemed like an inexplicable policy screw-up. During the campaign, candidate Biden promised to lift President Trump`s harsh limit on refugees allowed into the country.
Trump had cut the number of refugees allowed to its lowest number ever and Biden called his commitment to refugees a moral necessity.
But today, the White House quietly announced that President Biden not be lifting Trump`s refugee cap. Anonymous officials told reporters that Biden was concerned about the optics of allowing in more refugees while there`s so much political pressure surrounding the U.S./Mexico border.
So, what followed, interestingly enough, outrage from Biden`s own party, not just the left flank. The number two Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, came out and called the decision unacceptable. It was several hours today of the first real total revolt of the Democratic Party against the policy move from the Biden White House. And by this evening, the White House was walking it back, saying the president would revisit next month, and increase the refugee cap then.
We don`t know what happened there, but in its own way, today`s one-act play about the refugee cap was another example of the government working the way it`s supposed to. The White House made a bad, super unpopular decision, their party let them know it was a bad, super unpopular decision, and they walked it back, all in time for folks to make it home in time for dinner.
And as we consider all these moving parts, all the things that are broken and not working in this country, all the things chugging along, even functioning better than they have for years, consider today`s date. Today marks 100 days since the January 6th attack at the U.S. Capitol, 100 days since insurrectionists stormed the Capitol while lawmakers tried to certify the results of the presidential election.
Three hundred and seventy-nine people have so far been charged with federal crimes for their actions that day. And today, prosecutors secured their very first guilty plea.
A member of the right-wing antigovernment militia the Oath Keepers pled guilty to two felony counts for illegally entering the Capitol wearing a tactical vest, armed with bear spray. And what makes this guilty plea today noteworthy, besides being the first one, is that it comes with a cooperation agreement. We know the Justice Department has been working on building a large conspiracy case against members of the Oath Keepers, considering charging them with sedition. Formal cooperation from a member of the Oath Keepers could help them make that case.
The cooperation agreement with the Oath Keepers member Jonathan Shaffer spells out that the government may recommend reducing his sentence if he provides substantial cooperation in the government`s case. He`s required to cooperate, not just with the U.S. attorneys` office for the District of Columbia, but with any other federal state or local law enforcement.
And this is something. The cooperation agreement specifies Mr. Shaffer can request that he be put in the witness protection program. Prosecutors will sponsor him for acceptance into that program if they agree that it`s necessary, which presumably suggests that the Cooperation that Mr. Shaffer could give could pose a risk to others and himself. So, 100 days out from the Capitol attack, hundreds of people charged, now one guilty plea and that person is cooperating with prosecutors.
The prosecutors have described the Capitol attack as likely the most complex investigation ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice, even when everything else going on, this story is far from over.
Joining us now, Katie Benner, "New York Times" reporter who covers the Justice Department.
Katie, good evening.
You`ve been covering a lot of stories, including the story of Matt Gaetz. But this is one you`ve been on for a while. We got about 400 people arrested, 379 people charged, and the first plea agreement. How significant is this? Because many people have seen the video that people posted, the selfies, the social media postings.
One assumes it may not be the hardest prosecution. But the Justice Department says these are actually complicated prosecutions.
KATIE BENNER, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right, so to your point, the Justice Department has actually gone through and they have charged more than 400 people with pretty straightforward crimes, entering the Capitol building when they weren`t supposed to, assaulting police officers. In order to build more complicated cases, things like conspiracy, things even like sedition. They really do need to start getting people who might have information on any plot to speak, and to speak and cooperate and have their testimony and words used against their peers. So, this is a really big deal for the government.
VELSHI: Yeah, talk to me about what`s involved in this, because we`ve known they`ve got video and they`ve got people`s phones and texts and things like that. What does cooperation look like in this particular case? What are the kinds of things that this person with whom they may have made this deal could do for the government?
BENNER: So they`re going to be asking this person whether or not he can provide the names of people who may have worked with or may be known to have plotted to attack the Capitol. They will ask him whether he has text messages or other evidence of planning.
They also want to know whether he was involved in conversations after the fact about hiding evidence, about misleading investigators. So they`re going to ask a broad array of questions to see if they can find information that leads to higher level people who may have known about a conspiracy.
VELSHI: I want to read from the plea document about this business of the witness protection program. The plea agreement reads: the United States attorney`s office for the District of Columbia will sponsor your client for acceptance into the witness security program of the United States Department of Justice.
I guess it stands to reason, right, if he`s going to testify, possibly, or point out people or methods that were used, it sort of sends a message as to how serious groups like the Oath Keepers really are. This could pose a real threat to him.
BENNER: Absolutely. They`re saying they do believe the Oath Keepers could be a dangerous group. They`re an armed militia. They`re worried about his safety.
Also, this also shows the prosecutors have been working steadily over the last 100 days to make more complex cases despite the fact that the political conversation about the attack has taken a really sharply divergent turn with a lot of people on the right saying it wasn`t so bad, that it wasn`t that big a deal, and that, you know, it might not even have been what we thought it was, which was Trump supporters attacking the Capitol, that it could have been people on the left, members of Antifa.
The government has basically put its head down, blocked all of that out, basically pressed it to the side, and continued on to charge people and to find people who can help them as they seek to bring, you know, folks who attacked the Capitol to justice.
VELSHI: What do we know about the Oath Keepers? And what they do and what sort of threat they might pose?
BENNER: We know that the Oath Keepers, they`re a militia. It was started basically with a lot of former members of law enforcement, former military members. They espouse an ideology in which they`re supposed to be protecting the government or protecting American citizens but they also believe the federal government is really problematic and could in and of itself be harming our civil rights, our civil liberties.
So they are classified by the FBI as an antigovernment militia because they believe the government itself is doing harm. One of the interesting things about the Oath Keepers is that under President Trump, they had a champion in President Trump, they actually supported him despite the fact that he was the head of the executive branch of the federal government.
VELSHI: Katie, I don`t know how you keep it straight, you`ve got so many stories going on. I want to ask you about the Department of Justice filing a lawsuit against Roger Stone today, a blast from the past. The headline of your story reads: The Justice Department sues Roger Stone, a longtime Trump ally, alleging tax evasion.
What`s the story about?
BENNER: The federal government is saying that Roger Stone for a series of years from 2007 to 2011 did not pay his taxes, that he actually entered into an agreement with the government and was paying his back taxes on a monthly payment plan when he decided to stop. He created different entities. They were actually controlled by him, in which to start moving money and assets around in order to hide things from the government.
This sort of kicked into gear after he was indicted as part of the Russia investigation, the Mueller investigation. He even went so far as to try to hide his house by selling it to a sham entity that would buy it. So the government is alleging not only does he owe a tremendous amount of money, that he deliberately tried to defraud the government.
They filed a civil lawsuit to recruit the money which according to the government totals about $2 million.
VELSHI: Wow. We`ll continue to add that to the list of Katie Benner stories we`re following in "The New York Times". Katie, good to see you as always. Thank you. Katie Benner covers the Justice Department for "The New York Times." Thanks for your time this evening.
Before we move on, an update on the story Rachel led the show with last night, a tantalizing new bit of information released by the Treasury Department this week, that Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian intelligence operative and a former business associate of Trump`s 2016 campaign chairman Paul Manafort, passed sensitive polling and campaign strategy from that race to Russian intelligence services. Presumably the same polling and campaign strategy information that we already know Kilimnik had gotten from Manafort. In other words, collusion, right?
So the big question is, when did the U.S. government come to know about this? When did we connect the dots from Manafort to Kilimnik to Moscow?
Well, this was already known, but just super classified during the Mueller investigation or did we find out more recently?
Tonight, NBC news has a little more about that. Quote, the U.S. intelligence community has developed new information about Konstantin Kilimnik, whom they call a Russian spy that leads them to believe the associate of ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort passed internal campaign polling and strategy information to Russian intelligence services, two U.S. officials say. The official did not disclose when or how the U.S. came into possession of the new intelligence about Kilimnik including whether or not the information was developed during the Trump or Biden administrations. The officials did not identify the source or type of intelligence that had been developed, end quote.
So just a little more there, but not nearly enough to answer some big, burning questions.
We`ll be right back with more. Stay with us.
VELSHI: As we mentioned at the top of the show, it`s now been 100 days since insurrectionists stormed the seat of our government in an attempt to overthrow an election. One of the things that shocked people watching the scene that day was how the vast majority of those insurrectionists, many of them violent, were allowed to essentially just walk away from the scene of the crime. No attempt at making mass arrests at the Capitol. In fact many of the insurrectionists were allowed by law enforcement to get in a car or a plane and go home. They were allowed to flee the scene.
Now, some were arrested days later, some months later, and many of them are still at large and wanted by the FBI.
Contrast that event, 100 days ago, with the week that we just experienced as a nation. In the past week we watched as 20-year-old father Daunte Wright was shot to death during a traffic stop, initially over expired registration tags that escalated into an arrest for an outstanding misdemeanor warrant. He was unarmed.
The officer who shot Daunte Wright said she thought she had reached for her Taser and was attempting to stop him fleeing the scene. Instead she shot him in the chest, ending his life.
In Chicago, we watched the footage of 13-year-old Adam Toledo who was shot by a Chicago police officer. The officer was responding to calls for shots in the area. According to a statement from that officer`s lawyer, the 13- year-old, quote, began to flee, unquote, when the officer took after him. Police say a 9 millimeter pistol was found at the scene but video shows Adam Toledo complying with the officer`s request and putting his hands in the air just before he was killed.
All of that happening against the backdrop of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin who stands accused of murdering George Floyd while trying to arrest him for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill. Prosecutors and the defense in that case called expert witness after expert witness to debate whether Derek Chauvin`s decision to put his knee on George Floyd`s neck for 9 1/2 minutes might have been an appropriate response for a police officer in that situation.
George Floyd and Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo did not get to just go home and wait the way so many Capitol insurrectionists did. They did not get to walk away from the scenes of their alleged crimes carrying stolen laptops and other souvenirs. They did not get to stop for a selfie with police on the way home.
Now, of course not everyone on January 6 received that kind of treatment. Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed by police when she and a mob of other protesters attempted to breach the barricaded door inside the Capitol. And there were many Capitol police officers who worked hard to protect that Capitol that day, including one who lost his life in the process.
But when you reflect on the history-making attack on our democracy that took place just 100 days ago, it`s hard to watch the footage from that day alongside the continuous stream of footage of men and women and children dying during everyday interactions with police. It`s hard to look at those incidents together and not conclude that there are in fact two systems of justice in this country. Can that be fixed? And if so, how?
Joining us now, Phillip Atiba Goff. He`s a professor of African-American studies and psychology at Yale University and a co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity.
Phillip, it`s good to talk to you again. Thank you for being with us.
You and I have spent some good time over the last year having this discussion about policing and about different justice systems in this country. We`re now more than -- we`re now almost a year out from when George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis.
What`s your sense of what things look like now when you take a look at that comparison to how people were treated on January 6th?
PHILLIP ATIBA GOFF, YALE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Yeah, I mean, it`s an apt comparison. We`ve been seeing on social media for the last several days, you know, Kyle Rittenhouse is out, drinking, underage, Dylann Roof got Burger King, and Adam Toledo is shot with his hands up, literally complying with officers.
It turns your stomach. It makes you wonder how anybody who is living in these neighborhoods surveilled by law enforcement can trust that when they call for help, that what`s going to show up is safer than what they`re calling for help from. But I do think once we`re past this trial, there is reason for optimism across this country.
There are experiments across the country, Project Nia in Chicago has a wonderful thousands of experiments website, because they are local organizers are saying, we`re done with doing things the way that we`ve done them.
So in city after city, they`re taking law enforcement out of mental health checks. They`re taking law enforcement out of low level traffic enforcement which would have saved Daunte Wright`s life. But taking law enforcement out of the places where there`s a danger that they could hurt somebody and there`s not a lot of utility of introducing a badge and a gun.
So I don`t know what`s going to happen on the other side of all those experiments. But I do know that there are enough folks in this country who are saying, enough, we have to change the way that we allow communities to keep themselves safe.
VELSHI: And I don`t want to paper over what some people mean, because when some people say defund the police, they mean they don`t want police around. What a number of people mean is reallocate resources to things that can be more effective. So many police calls that go wrong are traffic stops, petty crimes, mental health issues, substance abuse issues, things that there are other ways to deal with.
Is the reception for some of these ideas like this Project Nia that you`re talking about, is it growing with people who understand that these things don`t have to end up with death and don`t have to end up with entire communities distrusting the police or fearing for their lives every time they interact with police?
GOFF: Yeah, I mean, I think at least in my experience to go communities all over the country and frankly, talking with law enforcement, there`s one place where I think we`re not going to go back. I think we`re not going to go back to thinking we`re going to solve these problems by making policing bigger.
You`re quite right, people mean different things by "defund." at the root of the defund movement, such as it is, is a word that is scary in these places for a lot of folks, the word "abolition." I have to say out loud, abolition in these contexts often comes from a guy named W.E.B. Dubois, right? In 1935, when he coined a phrase "abolition democracy".
And I want to be clear, he`s not just talking about the United States and having abolished slavery, he`s talking about abolition democracy as a language for what we have to stand up affirmatively to get rid of the toxins that slavery left us in the body politic. It`s not just about getting rid of something. It`s about the things we need to put in place so we can actually look like our ideals.
In the context of policing, what that means is, isn`t everybody safer when they don`t have to call out for help in an emergency, when they have the resources so they don`t need to call 911 in the first place?
So yeah, people mean lots of different things when they say defund, but everybody can agree no real estate agent has ever made a sale when they say, and in the end, you can call 911 more often. That`s ridiculous.
So, the logic that we need more law enforcement to keep us safe rather more resources so we don`t need law enforcement, I`m hoping that it`s run its course, because the communities most affected, they`re never going back toe that that.
VELSHI: We`re looking at a protest in Chicago on the left side of the screen, by the way, and people are dancing, it`s a performance of sorts, actually.
Phillip, thanks. This is an evolving conversation and I appreciate how much time you spent with us in the last week helping us sort this through. Phillip Atiba Goff is a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity.
A hundred days after the Capitol insurrection, an unsettling new normal in the halls of congress. We`re going to talk with a member of Congress about the trauma he experienced and now he can work with his colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
VELSHI: This is what the resolution said. Quote, on January 6th of this year in Washington, D.C., thousands of insurgents took part in a despicable act. They attacked the Capitol while a joint session of Congress was meeting to certify the results of the presidential election. Be it resolved that we, the duly elected members of Natick Town Meeting, condemn the actions of any and all persons who took part in this heinous act and declare that they in no way represent the sentiments of this body or the town of Natick.
This resolution was passed overwhelmingly in a town meeting in Natick, Massachusetts last night. A group of local government officials choosing to formally condemn the attack on the Capitol on January 6. It`s a powerful act of local governance in its own right, but even more so when you take a look at who was in attendance for that vote.
Among the local officials voting on that resolution was a woman who has been criminally charged for participating in the Capitol attack on January 6th. She had to sit through that vote last night, listen to her colleagues formally condemn the very behavior she`s been accused of participating in.
That`s how one town in Massachusetts is grappling with what happened 100 days ago, and with their town`s own role in what happened. Because we`re all still grappling with what happened, right? In our own ways, in our own time.
And no one more acutely than the people who actually lived through it that day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Seeing the dramatic effect it had on my staff is something that will live with me forever and for which I will never forgive them.
REP. JAMES RASKIN (D-MD): There was chaos and pandemonium on the floor. People trying to put on gas masks and figure out how they work. I remember clearly the sound of the battering ram up against the door. I remember seeing members removing their congressional pins so as not to be recognized.
REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Trauma, like any trauma, affects different people in different ways and on different timelines. In some ways, just keeping busy, my work, has allowed me to stay focused on what I need to do. But, you know, that may have deferred also my internal approving processing of this issue too. So, I think that will happen over time.
IJGOR BOBIC, HUFFPOST POLITICS REPORTER: Slowly realizing, oh, it`s not just ten guys, oh, my God, they`re all over the rotunda, oh, my God, where are the cops? They`re inside the chamber. That moment slowly coming to realization, it`s not a good place to be.
Every time I walk up the steps, that good man led them all away from, I feel bonded to those stairs.
DION MONTAGUE, CAPITOL FOOD SERVICE WORKER: Grabbing people, ID`ing them, some people didn`t belong there, I was scared to death. It could have been a lot worse. I`m glad it wasn`t. I`m kind of over it, but not over it. I keep a vigilant eye, too, I keep an eye out all the time.
LT. RANI BROOKS, CIVIL DISTRUBANCE UNIT CDR: I was tackled and they stole my helmet. They tried to get my gas mask. It was all these surreal things, this cannot be happening, this cannot be happening. But it was.
I have moments. It comes back in like flashes. It`s hard to not have it with you every day, for those of us that work at the Capitol still. We`re still working at our crime scene.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: NBC News Capitol Hill producer, our colleague Frank Thorpe, with that moving piece today. He shot all those black and white images himself too. Lawmakers, their staff, reporters, Capitol police officers, food service workers. January 6th was a trauma for everyone inside the Capitol that day. A lifetime may not be enough to process it, let alone 100 days.
One member of Congress in particular has been outspoken about that in the weeks that followed. Michigan Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee has represented the great city of Flint in Congress since 2013. He`s spoken out about his experience grappling with the aftermath of the Capitol attack. He`s experienced PTSD in the days that followed.
Congressman Kildee joins us here this evening.
Congressman, thank you for being with us. This is a tough topic because you all had to get to work immediately, you were actually at work, you had to continue your work that day. But you now know that everything that those people told Frank Thorpe they were fearful about, they had every reason to be fearful about. There were people who were intent on taking you hostage or worse.
How do you process that in the last three months?
REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): Well, it`s been hard. I mean, this is something, like what the speaker said, I`ll take this with me the rest of my life. It`s been hard to process.
For me, I had some pretty serious reaction to it and PTSD. I`m still dealing with that. I feel like my old self again, but it took a while.
You know, it`s hard to process it, in some ways, Ali, because we keep going back to that same building. I was on the floor of the House today, looking at this spot in the gallery where I took cover.
I still have to work with and speak to these members who contributed to this big lie, benefitted from this big lie, and now want to say, well, let`s let bygones be bygones. It`s not that simple.
VELSHI: I think that`s a really important piece. I want to -- I want to play another section of -- there`s, by the way, a picture of you. I want to play another piece from Frank Thorpe`s package about Senator Mitt Romney and how he felt about this, then we`ll talking about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): My operations guy texted me that the protesters had entered the Capitol. And so I left the Senate chamber where I encountered Officer Goodman who suggested I return to the chamber because that would be the safest place. Not terribly long after that, an official came into the chamber and said you need to evacuate.
And that`s when I was most frustrated and angry, angry at those who had gone along with the big lie and told the American people that the election had been stolen. I pointed to a couple of people who had participated in that ruse and said, you have caused this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Congressman, he said, "you have caused this" to people, unlike this trauma that other people have experienced, the weird thing about your trauma is you and Senator Romney and everybody else go back into this place with people who had a choice not to do this, and in many cases saw some of this coming and encouraged it.
KILDEE: Yeah, I mean, that`s really the point, Ali. And you just said it. They made a choice. They made a choice in the months leading up to that attack. They fanned the flames. And then inexplicably, two-thirds of the Republicans in the house of representatives made a choice after the attack was over, after I had to be rescued by a tactical unit of the Capitol police, to save my life, I had to watch Republican members come to the floor of the House and vote to confirm the lie that was the predicate for that attack.
You know, Senator Romney said it, we still have anger. My anger has just waned somewhat. But what hasn`t waned, what hasn`t diminished is that I look at those members of Congress as smaller people now, as lesser. I can`t trust them, because I now know in a moment of real pressure, when they have to choose between their country and their own hide, I know how they`re going to choose.
And it`s very difficult to work with somebody when you know that about them, when the pressure is on, they did not choose their oath of office, they did not choose our history of democracy, they chose the narrow, small path. That`s hard to forget.
VELSHI: Congressman, thank you for taking this time. And I know you speak for a lot of other members of Congress who are going through this, for whom it has hit them at home, but they had no choice but to keep on working. That is a hard environment to continue to work in when you know who caused this and why it happened.
Congressman, good to see you. Thanks for joining us. Dan Kildee is a Democrat from Michigan.
Well. Coming up next, the sneaky way Republicans in one state are trying to change the law to make it harder for people to vote. Stay with us.
VELSHI: All right. It`s pop quiz time. In which state is the Republican- controlled state legislature trying to make voting harder for their citizens?
Is it A, Georgia? B, Texas? Or C, Michigan? Trick question. It`s all of them.
But Michigan is starting to stand out from the pack, not just for the particularly blatant voting restrictions that Republicans in the state are trying to pass but for how they`re trying to pass them. Right now, Michigan state Republicans have 39 different voting restriction bills in the state legislature. They`ve got a slim majority in both houses, so passing as many of those 39 bills as they want to shouldn`t be a problem.
But Republicans in Michigan only control the statehouse and state Senate, unlike in Georgia or Texas where they`re in complete control of the government because they have the governor on their side. You would think that would present a problem for state Republicans and their bills in Michigan.
The Democratic governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, has already said she will veto any bill they pass that restricts voting rights. So, it should be game over. That`s how our government is supposed to work.
But the chairman of the Republican Party in Michigan announced late last month he`s got a plan, a workaround for that pesky veto thing. He wants to blend all of those bills into one big anti-voting rights package and sidestep the governor altogether.
You see, Michigan law allows voters to petition lawmakers directly by gathering signatures to have lawmakers take up a piece of legislation, which sounds very, very Democratic. But it only requires the signatures equaling 8 percent of the people who voted in the last governor`s election and once that is done and the legislature votes for it, bills passed that way cannot be vetoed by the governor.
And I know that`s a lot of procedural mumbo-jumbo for a Friday night. But when you look at the numbers, you see how crazy this is, because 8 percent of the people who voted in the last governor`s election, that`s about 340,000 people. That`s how many signatures you need.
There are nearly 8 million people in the state of Michigan who are old enough to vote. So, they only need a little over 4 percent of the state`s voting age population on board with this plan to get it through and avoid a veto. An even wilder part of this is we of this is we already know how the vast majority of it population of the state offense Michigan`s voters feel about this issue because they voted on it in 2018.
Just over two years ago Michigan voters voted 2-1 in favor of expanding voting access in their state. So not only are Michigan state Republicans trying to take away voting rights in their state but doing it in the most contorted, least Democratic way one could imagine.
Now, if you were the secretary of state for the state of Michigan and you were in charge of protecting and administering elections in your state, what would you do right now?
Well, you don`t have to answer that question because joining us right now is the Michigan secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson.
Secretary Benson, good to talk to you. Thank you for being with us.
It`s complicated stuff. I don`t know how much of that I got right, but it does seem something that seems like a neat Democratic trick to be able to get people to introduce legislation might be used as a workaround to the actual democratic process and might work at restricting votes in Michigan.
JOCELYN BENSON, MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: Exactly right. And you`re talking about 4 percent of the voting age population being utilized to make the rules of democracy that would apply to the other 96 percent of the voting age population. And as you rightly pointed out, these are rules that have been well-settled and embraced by the vast majority of voters on both sides of the aisle in our state, the ability to vote absentee, the ability to use drop boxes which were widely popular and secure in 2020.
So, you know, what is most pernicious about this is yes the policies themselves which is really an extension of the big lie as we reflect on really the tragedy of January 6th, recognizing the extension of those tragic events are these legislative maneuvers we`re seeing all around the country and in Michigan. And then trying to get them through in really one of the more anti-Democratic ways which is, you know, again particularly an affront to voters in our state on both sides of the aisle and truly anti- American.
VELSHI: So there are two particular issues here. First of all, all of these anti-fraud type attempts are a problem in search -- a solution in search of a problem because we haven`t actually had this problem the entire country is up in arms about trying to solve. But the second one is not everyone comes forward and says, hey, we`d like to do this to suppress voter rights. In fact, some of these bills the wording is surprising misleading claiming the bills would do more to establish in-person voting.
Explain to me how you get to the bottom of what the Republicans are trying to do in Michigan?
BENSON: Well, I think the bottom line is to look at what voters have said over and over again they want in our state. In order to participate in our government which is, you know, critical to ensuring every other policy that is made is one that reflects their values, they have voted overwhelming to have a right to vote absentee and in fact 3.3 million of the 5.5 million of the citizens who voted in November chose to vote absentee. Voters on both sides of the aisle, a wildly popular policy.
And notably a vast majority -- or a significant number of those who voted absentee returned their ballots on Election Day at a local drop box. And one of these bills would actually eliminate the ability for voters to use the drop boxes on Election Day which would disenfranchise a significant number of citizens that return those ballots on Election Day. And a lot of these are technical policies that would combine to really undermine the will of the vast majority, millions of voters in the state who have not only stated overwhelming they want to have an option to vote absentee and in person, both safely and securely, which we`ve been able to establish in our state. And they want to have confidence when they choose that option they choose their way of voting, they`ll be able to do so without any additional burdens.
VELSHI: That`s remarkable the number of people who voted absentee in Michigan and did it successfully without voter fraud.
Secretary, good to see you again as always. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, thank you for your time tonight.
And we have one more story to get here this Friday night. Stay with us. We`ll be right back.
VELSHI: After the Biden administration announced new sanctions on Russia yesterday it was expected that Russia would retaliate in response and today, Russia did just that. The Russian government announced the expulsion of ten American diplomats and also said it would shut down all U.S. non- government organizations that remain in Russia and interfere with Russian politics.
Of course, the Biden administration levied significant economic sanctions on Russia, but Russia doesn`t have the leverage to punish the U.S. economically in the same way. Even Russia`s foreign ministry acknowledged saying, today, quote, we of course understand the limitation of our abilities to mirror a squeeze on the American economy.
Instead, Russia placed travel bans on eight American officials banning them from Russian soil, including Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Chris Wray, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines. Of course, none of these were planning on traveling to Russia in the near or distant future.
Former national security adviser Susan Rice was one of the eight on the list had this reaction tonight. Quote, so much for taking my family on spring break to our favorite Airbnb in Siberia, announcing yesterday saying, since President Biden said he wanted to de-escalate tensions with Russia, he wanted a, quote, stable predictable relationship with Russia. It seems today at least Russia did not want to escalate, responding with proportional sanctions and expulsions. As for President Biden`s in-person summit with the Russian President Vladimir Putin this summer in a third country somewhere in Europe, it appears Russia is still mulling that invitation over and has yet to rule it out.
As Rachel would say, watch this space.
That does it for us tonight. Rachel will be back on Monday. I`ll see you tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. Eastern for my show "VELSHI". We`ll dive into a new information that`s coming out this week about Russian meddling in our elections. I`ll be joined by an expert on Russian misdeeds, an opposition leader who`s now been poisoned twice. You don`t want to miss it.
Time now for "THE LAST WORD" with my friend Jonathan Capehart in for Lawrence tonight.
Good evening, friend.