The Ethics Committee in Congress today opened an investigation into Congressman Gaetz. Today was day 10 of the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer who`s charged with the murder of George Floyd, and today, the jury heard key testimony about how and why Mr. Floyd died. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in a press briefing today, urging the White House for a vaccination surge program; she wants an extra allocation basically of vaccines to her state.
EZRA KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I mean, personal debt crises here, and of watching markets fail again and again. And so, that`s moved them to the left and it changed the politics of the Democratic Party, dramatically.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": Yeah.
KLEIN: And as you said in the beginning, Joe Biden changes alongside the politics of the Democratic Party.
HAYES: Ezra Klein, that`s a great column. Thank you for making time tonight. Appreciate it. Have a great weekend, man.
KLEIN: Thank you.
HAYES: That is "ALL IN" on this Friday night.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Chris Hayes, would you be willing right now on television to reenact in a small way the dance you did on Instagram yesterday upon getting your second shot? Go on, do it. Go on, do it.
HAYES: I can`t. First of all, I don`t dance on command. I only dance -- I only dance when being vaccinated, at least on TV.
And third of all, you can actually -- we played the clip on my TV show. You can find it. It`s out there on the Internet.
MADDOW: It was very, very happy making. It was fantastic. And you don`t dad dance at all. You totally normally dance.
HAYES: I can move a little bit.
MADDOW: I only dance in chairs and not even when I`m vaccinated. But I know exactly the feeling. Congratulations, my friend. It`s great to see you.
HAYES: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. And while we`re on the subject, did I get it straight? I got my shot. I did. I`m so excited. I got the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine.
Can I just tell you about it for a second? I went on my own, so I didn`t have anybody take a picture of me, let alone me dancing like Chris did when I was getting the shot. I didn`t. I don`t think I would have liked to have seen me -- a picture of me getting the shot anyway because I am afraid of needles so it would make me throw up if I saw a picture of myself getting an injection.
But I did take this photo of myself right after I got the shot, right as I sat down in the waiting area. I know this is a terrible photo. I`m wearing my old, battered West Point baseball cap. I forgot I had put a right red binder clip for safekeeping. That`s on the brim. See that little red metal clip? I`m such a dork.
This will be forever my vaccine photo. But full notice I look a little crazy in the photo even beyond just the weird hat, and it is because I was sitting there bawling my eyes out from relief and gratitude from getting the shot.
I kept having to sneak a handkerchief under my mask so I wouldn`t totally soak it while I sat there crying.
As far side effects, I feel fine. My arm hurt a little bit right after and I felt a little woozily. I know there have been reports in the past few days about a few people in a few different states feeling bad after they got a Johnson & Johnson shot. That may be. I`m fine. Honestly my wooziness, sort of lightheadedness might have been because I was so emotional about getting it done. Also, because I am scared of needles and I get woozily whenever I see them.
I`m not going to go on about this forever, but I do want to say a thing about the vaccine. I feel like there is a sort of discourse in the American media, in the normal media, not the conservative media, which really is still mired in all sorts of disinformation and nonsense about COVID, including about COVID vaccines. But in the rest of the media, in left and center and everything but hard right crazy media, I feel like there has been a lot of patronizing, snobby discussion about people who don`t really want to get the vaccine.
I will just tell you I know a lot of people in my personal life, people in my marching order, my peers, people I love and respect and have a lot in common with who feel a little ughy or a little reluctant to get the vaccine. In addition to that, lots of people in my life are super-eager to get it and have been scrambling for an appointment and couldn`t wait to do it.
But alongside that, I also know a lot of people who are just hoping that nobody will notice that they haven`t gone because they`re still mulling it over, they`re kind of dragging their feet about it. They`re kind of dreading it.
I just want to say that is not anything to be ashamed of. Feeling that way, whatever you`re reading in the media, or hearing in the media, feeling that way, feeling a littler ughy is not necessarily born of you having some rank ignorance or because you`ve been drafted into some conspiratorial anti- vaccine movement, although there is one in this country.
I mean, for me, I am a person who is legitimately afraid of needles. I have passed out and fallen out of my chair from getting injections and from having blood draws in the past. I absolutely hate it. I get that part of it.
Incidentally I am also generally a stay away from the doctor for everything person. I don`t take any medication that I don`t absolutely have to and I try to limit any amount of time I have to take anything.
Also, I had had -- I hope this isn`t too personal. But I had a specific worry about the vaccine. I -- about four years ago -- had a really bad allergic reaction to a shot that I got. It wasn`t a vaccine. I had a back injury and had a injection. It went wrong and I had a scare with is that.
And even though I got the FDA fact sheet, and I checked the ingredients closely all of the vaccines and so I knew for sure there was no overlap between the components of the injection to which I had the bad reaction, and what`s in all of the vaccines. I knew there was no overlap. Still, I can`t -- I`m not going to like, that made me worry.
But look, actually, on that point, in this terrible photograph that I took, you can see that`s my shirt. You can see they put a second sticker on me. I have the upside vaccination sticker up there on my shoulder, but then next to that, you see it says Q/23 yes, 30 minutes. They put that on me because that means I answered yes when they asked in the pre-screening whether I had an allergic reaction to a shot before. I had.
Because of that, they put me through additional medical screening and the other sticker on me. Indicating I had to stay 30 minutes instead of 15 minutes in the observation period after I got the actual dose. So, they kept an eye on me twice the usual time, while I waited for that half an hour. And I don`t know what they thought of me sitting there for that half an hour crying like I was reading old yeller over and over again.
But that`s how it went. I had legitimate fears and ughiness. I felt the fear and I did it anyway.
So just listen, if you are like me, if you have been feeling ughy, or resistant or if you`ve just been dragging your feet about whether or not to get the vaccine, I get it. You are not a jerk or some sort of fool or some conspiracy theorist for feeling that way. Lots of us have lots of reasons to feel reluctant or even scared, or to try to hope this is all going to blow over for everybody and we won`t ever have to personally get shot ourselves.
I am right there with you. I totally get it. But here`s the thing, here`s the thing that I feel like I have totally clarity about now having done it. It`s not for you. You are not doing this for yourself. If you are at all like me, your own health, your own risk is not a big rational driver of all of your actions.
Maybe you feel fatalistic if I get COVID I get it. Maybe you feel like your odds are good that you won`t get a bad case if you do get COVID. You know, fair enough.
You know, if that`s how you feel about your own COVID risk and you are weighing that distant not that concerning risk to yourself, against all the very present ways you feel bad and worried about the vaccine. Then, you know, you`re maybe thinking the vaccine feels like the more present danger. It feels like the more dangerous, the more onerous worry. I get it. I understand that balance.
But you are not getting the vaccine for you. Even if you don`t care that much if you are going to get COVID. I know you should care, but a lot of us don`t, right? A lot of us don`t -- aren`t wired that way. We`re risk tolerant in terms of ourselves.
Even if you don`t care that strongly about whether you yourself are going to get COVID, or it`s a risk that you feel like you`re willing to take, or you can`t do anything about it, you feel fatalistic about it, what you do care about what will move you what does tip the scales decisively in favor of you going and getting that shot that you really don`t want is this -- it`s that you really do not want to be the person who gets it and then spreads it to other people, regardless of how you feel about the risk of getting at yourself.
I mean, God forbid, God forbid, if you don`t get vaccinated because of whatever is driving your reluctance, I don`t care, I understand. It`s all reasonable stuff in many cases. But God forbid, if you don`t get vaccinated and then you get COVID, and you unknowingly spread it to other people who you know or who you encounter, and those people get sick from it or die from it, those people give it to their family members and then their mom or their dad dies from it because of you, because you wouldn`t get vaccinated.
I mean, God forbid because you live with yourself in that circumstance, if you had the choice to get vaccinated and you decided, no, I`m scared, and then that decision cost somebody else that you know their life because they got it from you, it`s not for you.
I mean, if you get vaccinated, your risk of getting really sick or dying from COVID yourself, that risk drops to basically zero, and that`s true with all the vaccines. But what is more important to me and the way that I`m wired, and what maybe more important to you is that if you get vaccinated, your chance of ever spreading the infection to somebody else just drops off a cliff.
If you get vaccinated, yeah, you saved yourself. I know you don`t care. More importantly, you have saved everybody else because now you`re like 90 percent less likely to get infected and to be able to transmit it to anyone else. So even if you don`t want to, get your vaccine so you don`t ever kill anybody with COVID. Yes, it will protect you but honestly, it`s not for you, it`s so you don`t kill other people, it`s so you don`t spread it to other people because how could you live with yourself if you knew that you had done that?
I mean, are you scared of getting the shot? Me too. Get a shot.
Is your fear of the shot really more scary to you than the prospect that you are going to be a vector spreading a fatal virus to people around you if you don`t get that shot, just get it? Maybe you`ve told yourself you`re playing it safe. You just want to wait and see since this is a new vaccine, no, 114 million Americans, nearly half the adult population in this country, has had a vaccine shot already, 114 million of us have had it.
The number of people who have died from getting the shot is zero, whereas the number of people who have died from getting COVID in this country is now approaching 560,000. So, if you have been telling yourself this story that you`re playing it safe, that you`re not getting the vaccine because the vaccine is a relatively new thing, so you`re playing it safe and not getting the vaccine, think about it. If there are two paths and at the end of one path, there are zero deaths and at the end of the other path, there are more than a half million deaths, which one`s the safer path?
It is okay to feel reluctant or ughy or scared and not want to get it. That is nothing to be ashamed of. But feel the fear and do it anyway, get it, because most of all, it is not for you. It is to keep you from getting it and then spreading it, seriously.
If I can get it and like have such an emotional release from the fear and anxiety and relief and gratitude about it that I can cry through it like a baby in front of lots and lots of other people, including lots of people in uniform, if I can do it, you can do it. I do not recommend this angle for your selfie, nor do I recommend wearing a hat with a binder clip on the brim. But you can do it. If I can do it, you can do it.
So I will not talk of this again, but there you have it.
We`re going to be talking later on this hour about whether they might start surging more vaccines into places that are having tons of new cases. In the case of Michigan, where they have a really big spike in cases, now a big spike in hospitalizations. The fear is if you could get more people vaccinated more quickly there, you could reduce the spread by reducing the number of people who can get it and give it to others. See how that works?
We`re going to have some expert advice on that later on this hour, talk about why that`s actually controversy with the governor of Michigan now asking for more vaccines. The White House saying we will send you more vaccinators and try to accelerate your ability to distribute it, but we`re not necessarily sending you more vaccines, but talk about that as a live controversy later on this hour.
We`ll also have a live report this hour from Minnesota and the trial of the officer who`s accused of killing George Floyd. Dramatic medical testimony today that seemed to put to rest the contention that George Floyd died because of any cause other than having that policeman`s knee on his neck. Again, that was dramatic, very moving testimony today. We`re going to have more on that coming up.
This weekend in politics, one thing to watch for is that the Republican Party this weekend is decamping to Donald Trump`s house to the place where he lives. They`re holding the big Republican National Committee`s donors retreat in south Florida this weekend. They made the decision a few weeks ago that they would at this retreat leave the site of the retreat and instead pay more than $100,000 of the Republican Party`s money to former President Donald Trump. They will pay him so they can hold a gala dinner at his private Mar-a-Lago club tomorrow night.
Think about that dynamic. He`s like threatening to sue them if they don`t stop using his name and their response is to pay him over a hundred thousand dollars to go have dinner at his house and beg him to please grace them with their presence. Oh, the dignity the self-respect, it`s quite overwhelming.
Meanwhile, this the person who they are falling all over themselves to try to continue to ingratiate themselves with and to continue to associate themselves with, what`s going on in his life?
Well, "The Washington Post" is now reporting that a grand jury subpoena has been executed in New York for financial records related to the Weisselberg family, the family of Alan Weisselberg who`s the top financial officer at the president`s business, the Trump Organization and who was also the top financial officer for Mr. Trump`s father before that. "The Post" reports that investigators seem to be homing in on some unexplained or at least seemingly irrational compensation and attendant potential tax evasion which they appear to be tracing through Weisselberg family financial records that again they have now obtained through subpoena.
For example, I`m not at all totally clear on what this means but "The Washington Post" reports tonight that for whatever reason, something strange seems to have been happening around money and an ice rink in New York City operated by the Trump Organization. The bottom line is that the president`s business, the Trump Organization, appears to have paid a king`s ransom to Alan Weisselberg`s son whose job ostensibly was managing this ice-skating rink for the Trump Organization.
This is not like an Olympic facility. It`s a recreational ice rink that`s only open at most six months out of the year. It`s a cash-only business. But for, you know, it`s like not like a huge entity, right? It`s a seasonal cash-only ice rink in a park.
But for some reason, the manager of that ice rink, Alan Weisselberg`s son, for that job appears to have been paid a $200,000 a year, plus a $40,000 cash bonus yearly, plus at least possibly -- at least one, possibly two rent-free apartments, including one on Central Park South which is one of the most expensive addresses in Manhattan, plus he received a leased luxury SUV at no cost to himself, plus he got private school tuition for both of his kids, which was like $50,000 a pop per year. Plus, sleep away camp costs for both of his kids and more all, as compensation for him managing an ice rink in a park that`s only open half the year and only takes cash.
So like I said, I`m not exactly sure what that means but hey, everybody`s taxes in order? Everybody made sure you declared all of your compensation?
There have been multiple reports from multiple news organizations that the prosecutors New York state prosecutors who are investigating the president in his business may be trying to essentially flip the president`s chief financial officer, the Trump Organization`s top financial executive, to testify about what he knows about what`s being investigated at the president`s business. This obviously could be part of that pressure.
Former President Trump has reportedly now hired a new criminal defense lawyer to represent him in this case that`s being pursued against him in his business by New York prosecutors. Interesting -- interestingly, the new lawyer he has hired is 84 years old, so we at least know he`s very experienced. He`s reportedly a former law partner of one of the lawyers that the prosecutor`s office has brought in as kind of a special counsel to helm this investigation of the president. So maybe they think that he knows how the prosecutor ticks and he can unwind him somehow, I don`t know, he`s 84.
One of the other criminal defense lawyers the president former president has hired will also now have to divide his time between the Trump defense in that criminal case in New York and what`s reported to be this live criminal federal investigation into pro-Trump Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. Congressman Gaetz and former President Trump will both apparently be using Marc Mukasey as their defense counsel in the two big these two big criminal cases that they`re both reportedly facing.
Mr. Gaetz reportedly hired Mr. Mukasey as well as a second attorney who is most famous in the Northeast for having represented a number of high- profile sex crime defendants recently.
Congressman Gaetz has now lost a second senior staffer from his congressional office. First, he lost his communications director, now his legislative director has also apparently quit. The Ethics Committee in Congress today opened an investigation into Congressman Gaetz with a statement that itself will curl your hair, just the statement of what they`re investigating him for.
Quote: The committee is aware of public allegations that Representative Matt Gaetz may have engaged in sexual misconduct and or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity or impermissible gift in violation of House rules laws and other standards of conduct.
That`s just the description of what they`re looking into. That will be a bipartisan inquiry in the House Ethics Committee. The congressman`s office put out a statement tonight saying the allegations against him that are being investigated by the Ethics Committee, they`re all false.
Nevertheless, the circle of people involved in the Congressman Matt Gaetz scandal is becoming both more clear and also seemingly a little more precarious for them. There`s been a lot of focus for good reason on Joel Greenberg, Congressman Gaetz`s friend who is in jail now awaiting trial on 33 federal counts, including a charge of child sex trafficking. He was a local elected official in Florida, the Seminole County tax collector.
The investigation into Congressman Gaetz reportedly involves the same underage girl who was cited in the Joel Greenberg child sex trafficking charges.
Today, Mr. Greenberg was back in court in Florida entering a not guilty plea on the third superseding indictment that federal prosecutors have filed against him. There was an initial indictment. They filed three more federal indictments since then, each one adding additional federal felony charges. This latest one to which he pled not guilty today includes charges of him allegedly embezzling $400,000 from the tax collector`s office that he ran and him allegedly bribing a federal official to help him try to commit fraud to steal COVID relief funds. That`s nice.
Mr. Greenberg pled not guilty to those additional charges today in federal court, but he is apparently in negotiations with prosecutors to plead guilty at some point to all of it or at least some part of it in exchange for a plea agreement and a plea agreement in a case like this would likely trade some leniency to Mr. Greenberg`s sentencing for him cooperating with prosecutors and telling them about other criminal behavior he knows about.
And because of the reported overlap between the charges against Mr. Greenberg and the investigation into Mr. Gaetz, that is not good news for Mr. Gaetz.
Joel Greenberg himself though appears to be not in a good place which may be important context here when considering what Mr. Gaetz might have to fear for Mr. Greenberg if Mr. Greenberg becomes a cooperator.
We`ve obtained newly released records from the sheriff`s office in Seminole County, Florida, that indicate that when sheriff`s deputies went to Joel Greenberg`s house to arrest him just last month for violating the terms of his bail, the sheriff`s deputies in Seminole County, Florida, ended up in a five-hour standoff with him while they were trying to arrest him. The incident records from the Seminole County sheriff`s office say that Joel Greenberg tried to negotiate with deputies over the phone as they were outside his residence.
According to the sheriff`s office, quote, during the negotiations, Mr. Greenberg made suicidal comments stating at various times that he would take pills utilize firearms and that he had an improvised explosive device. He told the sheriff`s deputies that were there to arrest him that he had a bomb and was going to use it against the sheriff`s deputies or use it as the world`s least efficient means of suicide.
I`m just going to read this from the -- Joel continued to negotiate via phone. During the negotiations, Joel made suicidal comments stating at various times that he would take pills utilize firearms and that he had improvised explosive devices. Joel also stated that he had hidden several items in his anal cavity. Joel opened the front door to the residence and threw a bag full of medication onto the driveway before retreating back into the residence and closing the door.
The sheriff`s documents here then say it should be noted that during the negotiations and then there`s a long period -- that`s long period of the -- a long piece of the report that`s redacted, but I mean, this doesn`t sound good. Again, according to the sheriff`s office deputies say that at one point, he`s threatening that he has a bomb, that he has improvised explosive devices and he appears to have thrown medication a bag full of pills onto his driveway while he`s negotiating with the deputies telling him he`s going to kill himself that he`s got a bomb, other things.
Eventually, after five hours, the deputies were apparently able to safely take Mr. Greenberg into custody. They took him to a hospital they say for medical clearance and then they took him to jail where he remains today. He is facing 12 years mandatory minimum in prison, plus potentially decades more in prison if he is convicted.
But again, the judge in Mr. Greenberg`s case has now given him and prosecutors until mid-May, next month, to come to terms in a plea agreement and any plea agreement in this case would almost certainly have to include him telling prosecutors what he knows that might be relevant to any ongoing federal child sex trafficking investigation involving a sitting congressman, Congressman Matt Gaetz.
"The New York Times" is also now reporting that the Gaetz investigation has expanded to include the congressman`s reported discussions about a sham fake candidate who was put up in a Florida state Senate race last year in an effort apparently to divert votes from the Democratic candidate and thereby help the Republican. Congressman Gaetz denies any involvement in this scheme, but it should be noted that there were a number of these last year.
The same type of scheme where a Republican was running against a Democrat and then another candidate appeared on the ballot to apparently try to divert votes from the Democrat, that same scheme recurred at least three different times in different Florida state Senate races last year when the Florida Republican Party was trying to hold on to the state Senate. In at least three different Florida Senate races last year, candidates appeared on the ballot who nobody knew in politics who didn`t do any campaigning, there were people who didn`t appear to have any interest or involvement in the race or in politics more broadly whatsoever.
But mysteriously, hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on their behalf on really slick mailers that went out to Florida voters promoting these no-name candidates as strong electable progressives. And in all three of these cases, the Republican Senate candidate won with more or less help from the progressive vote being split between the real Democrat who was actually running and these randos who were advertised as progressives who were also on the ballot.
"The Orlando Sentinel" reports tonight that the candidate who Matt Gaetz is alleged to have discussed putting on the ballot last year in a Senate race where one of his friends was running for a Republican Senate seat, the sort of what appears to be the sham candidate Gaetz is alleged to have discussed trying to get on the ballot is an unemployed former substitute teacher from Seminole County, Florida. She did not campaign at all during the entire duration of the Florida state Senate race in which she was a named candidate.
Records show that she only had four donors to her campaign. "The Orlando Sentinel" says they tracked down one of them yesterday. He said he had never heard of that woman, let alone donated any money to her. Nevertheless, there were hundreds of thousands of dollars` worth of very slick political flyers sent out on her behalf that showed a stock photo of an African American woman, even though the woman in question here the sham candidate who had her name on the ballot happens to be a white woman.
The woman did attract a few thousand votes in the race, the Democrat lost, Matt Gaetz`s friend, the Republican Florida Senate candidate won. That young woman who randomly ended up on the ballot in that race has now apparently picked up stakes and suddenly moved to Sweden, according to "The Orlando Sentinel".
One of the other races in Florida where a sham candidate was allegedly paid to take a place on the ballot to help the Republican candidate win, that has resulted in felony campaign finance indictments for two of the people involved. But this other case with the young lady who was represented on a flyer as a black woman when she was not a black woman and she`s now gone to Sweden after earning a few thousand votes in that race, that has resulted thus far in no charges that anybody knows of but it is reportedly now part of the Congressman Matt Gaetz federal investigation as well.
I should also tell you that the Republican lobbyist in Florida who Congressman Gaetz is alleged to have talked to about the sham candidate who fled to Sweden, today, he was just let go from his pro-Trump Republican lobbying firm.
But, hey, National Republican Party, let`s all pile into Mar-a-Lago this weekend to try to keep the Trump train on track since it is turning out so well for everybody involved. You know he no longer has the power to pardon anybody, right?
Lots of news still to get to tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Today was day 10 of the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer who`s charged with the murder of George Floyd. Today, the jury heard key testimony about how and why Mr. Floyd died.
The defense in the case has tried to argue that it wasn`t asphyxia caused by Officer Derek Chauvin`s knee, pressing into George Floyd`s neck. They`ve tried to argue that that isn`t what ultimately killed Mr. Floyd. They suggested instead that it might have been George Floyd`s pre-existing heart condition, or something related to drug use that killed him during his interaction with Minneapolis police officers.
Well, today, prosecutors took that head-on they began their case with testimony from a forensic pathologist named Dr. Lindsey Thomas, who described the cause of death in this instance in terms that could not have been more clear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Have you Dr. Thomas formed an opinion about the mechanism of death?
DR. LINDSEY THOMAS, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Yes.
BLACKWELL: Would you tell us what that is?
THOMAS: In this case, I believe the primary mechanism of death is asphyxia or low oxygen.
BLACKWELL: Did you rule out drug overdose as a cause of death?
THOMAS: Yes. There`s no evidence to suggest he would have died that night except for the interactions with law enforcement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Dr. Thomas`s testimony today followed some compelling testimony yesterday from another expert witness, a pulmonologist named Dr. Martin Tobin, who according to one reporter in the room covering the trial yesterday had the jury on the edge of their seats with his harrowing and thorough description of how Mr. Floyd died.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MARTIN TOBIN, PULMONOLOGIST: Mr. Floyd died from a low level of oxygen and this caused damage to his brain that we see and it also caused a PEA arrhythmia that caused his heart to stop.
On the right image, you see his knuckle against the tire. And to most people this does not look like terribly significant. But to a physiologist, this is extraordinarily significant, because it tells you that he has used up his resources and he`s now literally trying to breathe with his fingers and knuckles. When he last takes a breath, the knee remains on the neck for another three minutes and 27 seconds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That testimony from these expert witnesses yesterday and this morning was all leading up to very highly anticipated testimony today from the county medical examiner who performed the autopsy on George Floyd after his death. Now, the reason this testimony was so highly anticipated was that when the medical examiner did his autopsy report, he didn`t list asphyxia as the cause of death for George Floyd. He did cite Mr. Floyd`s heart condition and cited drug use by Mr. Floyd as contributing causes.
Now, the defense has hinged their case on this. They made a very big deal about this at the beginning of the trial an opening statement suggesting that this will be the crux of their case, that Officer Chauvin is not the reason that George Floyd died.
Well, today, that medical examiner was on the stand and he made it perfectly clear that he believes in his professional opinion that the reason George Floyd died that day is because of what Officer Derek Chauvin did to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANDREW BAKER, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MN MEDICAL EXAMINER: In my opinion, the law enforcement subdual restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of that those heart conditions. The other significant conditions are things that played a role in the death but didn`t directly cause the death. So, for example, you know, Mr. Floyd`s use of fentanyl did not cause the subdual or neck restraint. His heart disease did not cause the subdual or the neck restraint.
ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: All right. So, these are items that may have contributed but weren`t the direct cause.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Testimony from expert witnesses and the medical examiner today in the Derek Chauvin trial.
Brandt Williams is a reporter for Minnesota Public Radio who has been covering the trial has been checking in with us periodically over the course of this.
Mr. Williams, it`s nice to see you again. Thank you for joining us tonight.
BRANDT WILLIAMS, MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO: Oh, good, to be here.
MADDOW: It feels like this is a big pivot in the case from the prosecution that we have heard earlier in the in their case about Mr. Floyd as a human being. We have heard about the witnesses and the other people who saw what happened in terms of the confrontation that led to Mr. Floyd`s death. Now, we are into the medical and physiological fact of the end of his life.
It feels sort of like the third act of the -- of this presentation, does that seem right?
WILLIAMS: Yeah, it seems to be that the prosecution is starting to wind down their case. As you mentioned, they went through basically hitting all the points that they started off by mapping out during their opening statements which seemed like you said ten days ago, it feels like maybe a hundred days ago.
So they`ve been hitting those points and today was one -- as you mentioned -- one of those big moments where the medical examiner who was the only doctor to examine George Floyd when he died and had not seen the video before he came to his conclusions, which is important to note, testified today and revealed the findings that we were just listening to.
MADDOW: In terms of how this is going to resolve -- as you say, it feels like this is sort of maybe the last act of the prosecution laying out their case. In terms of the way the prosecution has performed than any surprises that have arisen for example on cross-examination with any of these witnesses, is it clear to you what the defense`s best cards are going to be to play when they finally take their side, when they when they`re able to present their side of it?
WILLIAMS: So it seems to me that they`re -- the cards they have to play -- Eric Nelson is still trying to poke some holes as far as the state`s case as to how much of a role Derek Chauvin played in George Floyd`s death. Now, I`m not a lawyer and I`m not going to try to read you the legal instructions on the -- on the counts that he`s facing on a second degree murder, second degree manslaughter and third-degree murder. But basically, in layman`s terms, they come down to the degrees of culpability that Chauvin plays.
So it may be the difference between just a manslaughter or a second-degree murder depending on how much jurors believe that children was involved in George Floyd`s death, how much did George Floyd`s compromised heart play in even though it, yes, Dr. Baker said it was the actions of the officers that precipitated this dying, but juror is going to have to decide how much of Chauvin`s role is responsible.
MADDOW: Brandt, one last question for you. As we head into this weekend, we start looking ahead towards what`s going to happen next in this trial, how much is Minneapolis paying attention to this trial? How closely is this being watched in the community?
WILLIAMS: It`s definitely getting a lot of attention. I walk through downtown Minneapolis every day. I`m walking by the courthouse. There`s a presence of people outside of the courtroom, it`s not a large presence at times but usually there`s a number of people outside waving banners in support of George Floyd. There have been mornings when I started about 6:00 in the morning, I remember walking by the courthouse before 6:00 a.m., and hearing people blasting loud music, loud club music, and gearing up for another day of protests and demonstrations.
So people are paying close attention and some people are getting involved. They`re going out and they`re speaking out and they`re taking to the streets.
MADDOW: Brandt Williams, reporter for Minnesota Public Radio as the Derek Chauvin trial continues, thanks for your time tonight, Brandt. It`s good to see you.
WILLIAMS: Welcome. Good to see you again.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead here tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): I`m urging the federal government to create a vaccination surge program to help states like Michigan now, because it`s Michigan and the Midwest today and tomorrow, or next week, it could be the Northeast or the South or another part of our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A vaccination surge program.
That`s Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in a press briefing today, urging the White House for a vaccination surge program. She wants an extra allocation basically of vaccines to her state. The governor said that she made that case directly to President Biden during a phone call yesterday. She made the plea publicly today. And this is not the first time she started airing this ask.
Michigan right now is the hottest hot spot in the country. Nationwide, the country is leveling out at around 65,000 new cases per day which is a very high plateau that`s bad. But look at Michigan, look at the shape of the graph in Michigan.
This is a graph of Michigan`s new cases per day right now. Look at that compared to the U.S. Yeah, that steep red line shows the seven-day average of new cases. As of yesterday, the seven-day average just in Michigan is over seven thousand cases a day. It`s approaching the worst it`s ever been.
And you can see how swiftly that number just keeps relentlessly rising. It`s been rising since mid-February. The incline is actually getting steeper over time and we all know what follows an increase in cases, you get an increase in hospitalizations.
Hospitalizations in Michigan are now rising rapidly to a dangerous level. They started to creep up back in late February but it`s bad enough now that hospitals in the Detroit area are once again nearing full capacity. Statewide in Michigan, hospitals are at 92 percent capacity right now, with that case number graph still rising that steeply.
Michigan is in a bad place. But with the vaccine rollout nationwide going great, with more and more vaccines being delivered every week, with an ever-increasing supply of vaccines available to the American people, it would seem that there`s something as a country that we should be able to do to help a state that`s in crisis like Michigan is right now.
And we have been reporting on this idea since last week when Governor Whitmer first asked the federal government to please surge more vaccine doses, extra vaccine to her state to try to help fight the spiking cases. Vaccinated people don`t -- not only did they not get sick and they not die from COVID, by and large, they don`t get infected and they don`t spread the virus either. A place that has out of control spread could really benefit from everybody getting vaccinated very quickly.
In her call with President Biden to make that request for more doses for a second time last night, the president reportedly talked to Governor Whitmer about the federal government`s plan to help Michigan better administer the doses that they`ve already got. He also reportedly said the federal government will help Michigan increase their testing capacity, which is important.
The president reportedly told the governor that Michigan will get more personnel to help administer vaccines. They`ll also get more therapeutics more treatments for people who have COVID, to keep them from getting very sick, to keep them from being hospitalized, to keep them from dying.
But Jeff Zients, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, after he reiterated that part of the plan during today`s COVID briefing, he stressed that there isn`t going to be a surge vaccine program. That the White House will continue to distribute vaccines based on just population alone, at least for now, rather than surging extra vaccine to places that have bigger problems in transmission.
When it comes to the brass tacks of how many doses delivered to Michigan actually wound up in people`s arms whether part of the problem is that Michigan is being somehow super inefficient with the doses that they`ve got, we crunch those numbers today and it if you use CDC data, it looks like Michigan is basically doing what everybody else is doing. They`ve given out about 76 percent of the doses they have received and, of course, you`d like that to be 100 percent, but 75 percent, that`s on par with the same figure nationwide. They`re better than many other states.
Michigan doesn`t seem to be having a crisis right now because they`ve got a particular -- they`re doing a particularly bad job administering vaccines. It just seems like they`ve got a ton of virus right now. Wouldn`t a ton of extra vaccine help them?
Joining us now is Dr. Farhan Bhatti. He`s a family physician in Lansing, Michigan. He`s the Michigan state lead for the Committee to Protect Medicare.
Dr. Bhatti, it`s a real pleasure and an honor to have you with us tonight. Thank you for taking time out of your busy practice.
DR. FARHAN BHATTI, MICHIGAN STATE LEAD COMMITTEE TO PROTECT MEDICARE: Thank you. The pleasure is all mine. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Could you use more vaccine in your practice?
BHATTI: Absolutely. We could use more vaccines in our state. Look, the -- I appreciate all the efforts that the Biden administration has undertaken to help Americans get to where we`ve gotten. They`ve instituted a national plan when we didn`t have one before, but Michigan`s hurting and we`re hurting for a lot of reasons that I that I`m sure we`ll get into.
But the federal government can do a lot more how many vaccines we`re going to get week after week after week here. And if you don`t know how many vaccines you`re going to be getting, you can`t schedule patients or people effectively. You can`t schedule patients when you don`t know when the vaccines are coming and how many you`re going to get.
So if the federal government were to give more to Michigan, if they were to surge our capacity, then entities across the state that are administering vaccines could scale up. I was talking to the health department director in my county, Linda Bale (ph), earlier, she would love to be able to scale up our capacity we can very quickly, start immunizing people 12 hours a day, seven days a week. But we can`t do that if we don`t know how many vaccines are coming our way.
We need vaccines in our freezers and in our refrigerators so that all across the state, we can -- we can schedule people as effectively and as efficiently as possible to get shots into arms as quickly as we can.
MADDOW: Do you think that Michigan is having a particular problem or sort of the same problem that everybody`s having at the same level a vaccine uptake of people actually having the option of taking the vaccine but not wanting to get it or not wanting to get it now? Is that dynamic the same in Michigan as you`ve been hearing from other physicians around the country or is there anything special going on in your state?
BHATTI: What`s happening in Michigan as far as the rising cases is a perfect storm. Vaccine uptake is one of them. Another one is that we`ve got more b strain here compared to every other state in the country except for Florida. And we`ve got school districts that are open in person, many of them across the state and while we don`t think the kids are going to get in the classroom, they`re certainly getting it at after school activities and sporting events.
And we`ve got mixed messaging coming from political leaders. You know, we`ve got our Democratic governor, but we`ve got Republicans that lead the House and the Senate and for the better part of the past year, they`ve been downplaying this. They`ve been parroting the Trump talking points. They`ve been telling people not to take it seriously, that health experts don`t know what we`re talking about.
They showed up to the floor of the House and Senate without wearing masks just to, you know, to spite the governor. And, you know, unfortunately, the single biggest predictor about whether or not a person is going to get the vaccine is their political affiliation. Thirty-six percent of all Republicans say that they`re not going to get the vaccine ever, and that`s compared to only six percent of Democrats.
And I`m seeing that every day in my clinic, we`re vaccinating people ourselves in my clinic and the patients of mine who are conservative are much more likely to refuse and we`re spending a bunch of extra time talking to people about how the vaccines work, why they`re safe and why people should get them and how we need to reach that 80 percent number to get to herd immunity.
And sometimes, I`m able to convince people, but sometimes, it`s very hard as an individual physician to compete with the things that they`re hearing from elected officials that they look up to, or that news networks that they watch every day, they`re hearing things that it`s you know that this isn`t as big of a deal as we`re making it out to be. It`s hard to compete with that.
MADDOW: Dr. Farhan Bhatti, a family physician in Lansing, Michigan, Dr. Bhatti, thank you for joining us tonight. I know there`s a lot of national focus right now what`s going on in Michigan. I hope you will come back with us as your state comes up with options to fight this back.
BHATTI: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: All right. We will be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This weekend in a different part of our solar system, really big news, after the spectacular feat back in February of landing the Perseverance rover on Mars, on Sunday night, NASA is going to try to launch a teeny-tiny helicopter named Ingenuity, for the first powered flight on another planet. The Wright Brother were the first flight on Earth, Ingenuity will try to be the first powered flight on some other planet.
Ingenuity is almost ready to go, it`s been getting the batteries solar charged and yesteryda gave the rotors a test spin.
If it works as designed, it will be a short hop ten feet up for 30 seconds, but of course, a giant leap for humankind. Sunday night. We will all be watching space.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Putting my vaccination sticker back on. Just going to, keep reaffixing it to things. I don`t recommend sticking it to your head if you are going to then stick it to the rest of the articles of clothing the rest of the week.
Anyway, that does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again on Monday.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight.
Good evening, Ali.