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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 5/11/21

Guests: Michael Scherer, Shannon Watts


The CDC`s vaccine advisory committee will meet tomorrow to consider the recommendation to change the age eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine that protects against COVID-19. Today is day five of the shutdown of the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S., the Colonial Pipeline, because of cyber attackers. Wyoming Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the third most senior Republican in Congress, is due to be ousted from that leadership tomorrow. Fulton County Grand Jury indicts Atlanta spa shooting on murder charges. A federal judge in Texas dismisses the NRA bankruptcy case and a New York lawsuit that aims to dissolve it as an organization can move forward.



Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Is it OK for you and I to kibitz how Lawrence got a presidential interview before us?

HAYES: Interesting. You want to do this -- should we do this here?


MADDOW: I don`t know. I mean, we don`t have to do it in front of anybody. But I just think, you know...


HAYES: Good for -- I mean, I mean, good for him.

MADDOW: I mean, I`m sure that it totally makes sense.

HAYES: Yes. Good for him.

MADDOW: Yes. Yes.

HAYES: There`s -- these things always pop up as news to me. I am like, all right, well, good for them. I am just here, Joe Biden, if you want to talk.

MADDOW: I know.



MADDOW: That`s exactly how I feel. A, I`m happy for Lawrence. B, I`m like, Lawrence? And, C, I`m like, did everybody know this was happening except for me?

But you didn`t know it was coming up either?

HAYES: I had heard -- I had heard whisperings of it.

MADDOW: All right.

HAYES: But now here it is.

We`re all going to watch it. We`re all very excited for our colleague sitting with Joe Biden.

MADDOW: It`s true.

HAYES: And there is true zero professional jealousy emanating off of your television screens right now.


MADDOW: No matter what your lying eyes tell you.



MADDOW: Thank you. Thank you very much. I appreciate the smokescreen, my friend.

All right. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Very, very happy to have you with us tonight.

Don`t tell Lawrence about any of that conversation.

As we have been reporting tonight, tomorrow`s going to be a big day.

The CDC`s vaccine advisory committee will meet tomorrow to consider the recommendation to change the age eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine that protects against COVID. Right now, that Pfizer vaccine is authorized for use in people age 16 and over.

Tomorrow, they will take up the question of whether that should be changed to age 12 and over. If, as expected, the CDC`s advisory panel says yes to that, and then the CDC itself agrees, then the first 12, 13, 14, 15-year- olds could start getting vaccinated in this country potentially as early as Thursday morning, as early as the day after tomorrow.

So, that`s a really big deal. That`s a big next step. We`re going to be talking more about that tonight.

The vaccine rollout, of course, remains a complex thing. The anticipation of tomorrow`s big Pfizer decision comes tonight, as the White House has also just told states that they`re not going to get any doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week.

Johnson & Johnson has been cleared in terms of safety concerns, after a brief hiatus. But, because Johnson & Johnson is one shot, instead of two shots, because it is very well-tolerated and effective, because it is easy to transport and to store at normal temperatures, a lot of states, a lot of entities, a lot of individual Americans have a preference for the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

But that company has been plagued by production shortfalls and glitches from the very beginning. And, apparently, now, for the first time, next week, that is going to result in the federal government not shipping J&J vaccines to the states at all, at least in the short term.

So, that`s a very, very interesting development. We will be watching that closely.

Today is also now day five, believe it or not, of the shutdown of the largest fuel pipeline in the United States, the 5,000-mile-long Colonial Pipeline that runs all the way from the Gulf of Mexico up into New England.

It sort of boggles my mind that this isn`t even bigger news than it is.

But today is day five of that largest fuel pipeline in the country being shut down because of cyberattackers, who reportedly seized control of the computer networks of the company that operates that pipeline. The attackers then demanded that the company pay a ransom of some kind to get their stuff back.

We don`t know how much ransom was demanded. We don`t know if the ransom might even have been paid by the company. The FBI is investigating this as a crime. The FBI says they have identified a Russian and Eastern European- based hacking group as responsible for the attack.

But, even with that, though, I mean, this pipeline is still down five days into it. And this is the biggest fuel pipeline in the country. And you can`t shut down something like that for five days without feeling it.

And we are now feeling the first effects on the ground of this sort of frighteningly successful attack, gas stations running out of gas, mostly in the Southeast, but increasingly up the Eastern Seaboard. Some of that may very well just be hoarding, as people are worried about supply shortages, and so they`re effectively causing them by filling up every tank they have got.

But hoarding can`t explain why airlines now are having to reroute planes and add new stops for long-haul flights because they can`t get the fuel they need to fly their regular schedules.

There is a real kink in the supply line here with this fuel pipeline shut down for five straight days. Why is it taking so long to handle this problem? We don`t really know. Did the attackers gain access to the control systems for the pipeline, in addition to the corporate networks of the company that runs it? We don`t know at this point.

I mean, they`re crucial questions. We`ll have more on this ahead over the course of this hour. I will tell you, we are keeping an eye out for a potential statement from the Colonial Pipeline operator.

The White House says that pipeline operator may decide within the next 24 hours whether they are finally ready to fully restart that pipeline. If so, that will, obviously, be the beginning of the end to this mini crisis. But it is an unnerving one, regardless.

So, we`re watching that. We`ll have more on that ahead.

In politics tonight, this is one that I have felt a lot of different ways about all at once. It`s either the biggest story in the political world or the littlest tempest in a teapot, depending on whether you feel like the Republican Party right now is just having its usual periodic moral convulsions, or whether you think they`re going through something more existentially serious, both for them as a political party, but also for us as a two-party democracy.

Regardless, whether or not you think this is something that will fade or whether this will be a benchmark in history, I have to tell you tonight, Washington and the whole political world and the whole political news media for sure is absolutely riveted to this story, which we`re also going to see play out over the next 24 hours now, in which the Republican Party is ousting one of its leaders for the grave crime of condemning the violent January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters, for the even more egregious crime of noting the truth that that attack was born out of a lie, that the Republican Party should maybe stop telling its constituents this lie that somehow it was election fraud that put President Biden in the White House, and former President Trump should be seen as a victim of that fraud who needs to be avenged, who should be returned to office because of something wrong with the 2020 election -- when in fact, there was nothing wrong with the 2020 election.

Wyoming Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney is the third most senior Republican in Congress. She is due to be ousted from that leadership job tomorrow because she refuses to go along with that now foundational lie of the Trump-era Republican Party.

But again, your mileage may vary on the story, right? Before this year, before this scandal, I would venture a guess that 99 percent of us had no idea who was the number three Republican in House leadership. Is it that important a job, right? Is the turnover of a person to a different person in that job really all that big a news?

Maybe not in the abstract. But in this case, the reason that she is being forced out of that job, it absolutely is big news, if this is effectively our public notification of the new rules by which all Republicans have to behave, or else.

Well, that`s a story that we`ve been following as it has been brewing for more than a week now.

And now, tonight, on the eve of what`s expected to be her ouster from the House leadership, tonight, just within this last hour, in advance of that vote to throw her out of her leadership job tomorrow morning, Liz Cheney got up on the House floor within this past hour and had something to say.

She had this to say about her party leadership`s devotion to a defeated and disgraced president.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Today, we face a threat America has never seen before. A former president who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans that the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence.

Millions of Americans have been misled by the former president. They have heard only his words, but not the truth, as he continues to undermine our democratic process, sowing seeds of doubt about whether democracy really works at all.

I am a conservative Republican and the most conservative of conservative principles is reverence for the rule of law. The Electoral College has voted. More than 60 state and federal courts, including multiple judges the former president appointed, have rejected his claims.

The Trump Department of Justice investigated the former president`s claims of widespread fraud and found no evidence to support them.

The election is over. That is the rule of law. That is our constitutional process. Those who refuse to accept the rulings of our courts are at war with the Constitution. Our duty is clear. Every one of us who has sworn the oath must act to prevent the unraveling of our democracy.

This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans. Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar. I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president`s crusade to undermine our democracy.

We must speak the truth. Our election was not stolen and America has not failed. We must love America so much that we will never yield in her defense. That is our duty.

Thank you.


MADDOW: On the eve of a vote that is expected to force her out of her leadership job in the Republican Party, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the daughter, of course, of former Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking on the House floor just within the past few minutes.

And a remarkable statement. A threat -- we face a threat America has never seen before. A former president who provoked a violent attack on this Capitol in an effort to steal the election has resumed his aggressive effort to convince Americans the election was stolen from him. He risks inciting further violence, she says.

Millions of Americans have been misled by the former president. He continues to undermine our democratic process, sowing seeds of doubt about whether democracy really works at all. The election is over. That`s the rule of law. That is our constitutional process.

She describes the more than 60 state and federal courts, including multiple judges the former president appointed, have rejected his claims.

That is the rule of law. That is our constitutional process. Those who refuse to accept the rulings of our court are at war with the Constitution. This is not about policy. This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president`s crusade to undermine our democracy.

Liz Cheney, not going quietly as they throw her out of her leadership role. Unless they are going to vote to expel her out of Congress, she is still going to be the congresswoman from Wyoming whether or not she still has a leadership role in name in the Republican Party. She is effectively claiming a leadership role in the Republican Party outside the formal party leadership, which apparently requires fealty to this lie about the election and fealty to the former president no matter how outlandish his claims in order to be a nominal leader in the party.

And it has been a fascinating thing to watch because this has been the chronicle of a political death foretold, right? As soon as we knew that Liz Cheney was teetering in terms of her Republican leadership post in Washington, it seems like almost an inevitable conclusion that she will be voted out, that there is nothing that can save her. That`s just the way the Republican Party works right now.

You cross Donald Trump, you are seen as an enemy of Trump, and you are politically over. And so it`s just a question of how long it was going to take, and how Liz Cheney would comport herself while she awaited her inevitable fate. It does seem like she is planning on being loud about it and not -- neither sort of simpering along with this fate, but also not going away, not willing to back down back down on it.

And "The Washington Post" had some really fascinating reporting over this weekend, it was matched by some reporting today from CNBC about how Liz Cheney doesn`t just plan to stay in Congress and keep saying what she believes. She plans to escalate as much as she can her battle to try to turn the Republican Party away from Trump and specifically, specifically the Trump lie about election fraud having been the story of the 2020 election.

So" The Washington Post" had -- reporting this weekend about Cheney`s efforts to continue that fight, and the divide, part of what she sees as what`s wrong with the Republican Party, the divide between her and the other Republican leaders in the House.

Specifically, "The Washington Post" described a House Republican retreat last month where the party had its officials run through for Republican members of Congress important internal Republican Party polling numbers.

Here`s how "The Post explained it, quote: When staff rose to explain the party`s latest polling in core battleground districts, they left out a key finding about Trump`s weakness, declining to divulge the information even when directly questioned about it."

Trump`s unfavorable ratings were 15 points higher than his favorable ones. His unfavorable are 15 points higher than his favorable ratings in the core districts being discussed, according to the full polling results which were later obtained by "The Washington Post."

Nearly twice as many voters had a strongly unfavorable view of former President Trump as a strongly favorable one.

But they left that data out of the presentation they were making to House Republican members, because even when their own polling shows, in their own House districts, where their own members are going to be running for re- election, shows danger with associating themselves with Donald Trump, shows dangerous numbers in terms of his unpopularity, they are unwilling to voice those things out loud even to their own members, because nothing bad can ever be said about Donald Trump.

That`s something beyond showing loyalty. That`s about willingness to -- willingness to hurt yourself, willingness to inflict political pain on yourself in order to, instead, display this other thing about the former president and the lies he`s spinning to his base.

And, you know, if you listen to, I think, a lot of the Beltway press right now, you`d be tempted to believe that tomorrow`s vote is happening because Liz Cheney is an insufficiently Trumpy Republican, that she hasn`t supported the Trump agenda over the past four years when Trump was president.

That`s absolutely not true. According to, Liz Cheney voted with Donald Trump about 93 percent of the time, whereas the Republican who is due to replace Liz Cheney in her leadership job, a New York Republican named Elise Stefanik, she only voted with Donald Trump 78 percent of the time, significantly less.

In terms of policy, in terms of allying herself with Donald Trump, in terms of how Trump governed, Cheney is much Trumpier than Elise Stefanik. But that`s just proof that this isn`t at all about policy. It is about something else. It is about personality. And it is about supplication. It`s about performative sycophancy, bending the knee abjectly to Donald Trump.

And in that respect, Congresswoman Stefanik has absolutely passed the test in ways that Liz Cheney couldn`t. Stefanik has emphatically endorsed the big lie about the 2020 election. Liz Cheney has stood by the obvious truth that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election fair and square.

But again, that -- that vote to replace Liz Cheney with Elise Stefanik is expected to happen early tomorrow.

Joining us now is "Washington Post" national political reporter Michael Scherer, who was the lead byline on that scoop about Trump`s bad polling numbers being omitted from a presentation at the last House Republicans` retreat, just a remarkable little snapshot into what`s going on inside that party right now.

Mr. Scherer, thank you so much for being here. It`s nice to see you.


MADDOW: I mentioned a little bit my own, sort of, push-me/pull-you feelings on this story. I do think that it is important and that this may end up being a landmark moment in terms of how the Republican Party defines itself in the post-Trump era.

But I have to ask, with all the close reporting that you and your colleagues have done on this, how significant do you see tomorrow`s vote and -- and Liz Cheney`s remarks tonight?

SCHERER: I think they are significant. I think you got it, some of it, in your opening there.

You know, Donald Trump wanted to make an example of Liz Cheney when she voted for impeachment. She -- he sent out aides right away to Wyoming to denounce her. He celebrated the Republican Party in that state when it censured her. He commissioned a poll to show how unpopular she was.

But Liz Cheney is making clear tonight, and I think you`ll see it tomorrow and I think you`ll see it for days to come, that -- that, instead of an example, he`s getting a rival here. And she`s going to take this case the distance.

And I think her event horizon here is longer than he thought it would be. She`s not just looking to the next midterms. And I think she`s going to fight very hard for her seat. She may not win it. But she`s going to fight very hard to win re-election in Wyoming.

But she`s really looking, at this point, to, sort of, carry the flag, from a conservative point of view, from an old Republican point of view, of -- of trying to push the party beyond Trump.

And -- and in that, I think, is a real threat to the current Republican Party that -- that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy envisions, because his bet right now is that the way they win the midterms and set themselves up for 2024 is to just gloss over these divisions.

And, you know, don`t scare the suburban moderates. Don`t scare the Trump voters. Just get everybody to come out together holding hands, thinking about Joe Biden`s overreach and how they want a check on Democratic governance.

If Liz Cheney follows through with what she`s indicating she`s going to do, that`s going to complicate that, not just, you know, over the next week or two, but all the way through next year.

MADDOW: What kind of assets and resources and pull does she bring to bear to that kind of a project, as compared with some of the other Republicans who we have seen, at least for brief periods, try to carry that same banner?

We have seen strong -- strongly worded, at least, challenges to the perception of Donald Trump as the leader of the party from people like Congressman Adam Kinzinger, or briefly from Senator Mitt Romney of Utah.


MADDOW: What does Liz Cheney bring to this that others who have gone before her haven`t?

SCHERER: Yes, I don`t think we know the answer to that.

But you`re right. There`s a half-dozen groups out there. There`s more than a half-dozen former lawmakers. There`s dozens of former Bush aides and campaign strategists who go out every day and say, Donald Trump is bad for the Republican Party.

I think what Liz brings is, she`s a rising star. She has the Cheney name. She really has unblemished conservative credentials. She`s going to continue to attack from the right. There`s not going to be a moderate Liz Cheney that`s going to suddenly appear at some point. She`s going to continue to be a fierce opponent of Joe Biden.

And she`s going to be making, in a high-profile way that I think someone like Adam Kinzinger has not been able to do, or even Mitt Romney, the conservative case, like you saw her do tonight, that what -- that what President Trump did on the 6th of January, what he is continuing to do in denying the results of the election are really an affront to the fundamentals of what the Republican Party is.

And I think it`s to be seen whether she gains traction there. I think some of it is beyond her control. There are some polls that suggest, even though this is still very much Trump`s party, especially within the mechanisms of the party, there is some dwindling of support in favorability for Trump since January among Republicans.

And it is possible. There`s one scenario here, where Donald Trump continues to fight, do what he`s done, maybe finds his way back on to a social network in the coming months. But more and more Republicans over the next year decide that maybe it`s time to turn the page.

And if they are looking in that direction, she is going to be there, I think, to sort of give them a voice.

Now, whether -- you know, I don`t think we -- anyone can claim, though, that, you know, this is anything but a tiny rebellion. It`s another tiny rebellion against, you know, Donald Trump`s party. And you know, whether it succeeds is still very much an open question.

MADDOW: Right.

And I -- it`s a very important point, I think, in terms of the length of her event horizon here, and how long a game she feels like she can play here, and how many resources she can bring to bear. It`s a really important way to look at it.

"Washington Post" National Political Reporter Michael Scherer.

Mr. Scherer, it is really nice to have you here. Thank you so much.

SCHERER: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right, we have got much more ahead here tonight, including a dramatic court ruling tonight out of Texas, of all places, that could radically change American politics in one key way.

We have got details on that ahead. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Former President Trump is facing criminal investigations from prosecutors in two states. In New York state, the investigation concerns multiple allegations of business and financial fraud. In the state of Georgia, the criminal investigation of the former president concerns potentially illegal election interference by the former president.

Well, tonight, that same prosecutor`s office in Georgia, state prosecutors in Georgia have brought just a battleship of an indictment against the 22- year-old defendant who is charged with killing eight people at three different Atlanta area day spas a few weeks ago, in March. This indictment today alleges that the defendant chose his victims in part on the basis of their sex and race. So hate crimes charges have been brought against him.

You may recall that of the eight people he`s alleged to have killed, seven of the eight were women, six of the seven women killed were of Asian descent. Prosecutors are going to seek the death penalty against him with these enhanced hate crime charges layered on top of multiple murder counts.

Again, this is not the federal Justice Department. These are state charges brought by state prosecutors in Georgia.

All the more striking because Georgia Republicans in the state legislature there responded themselves to that gun massacre back in March by moving almost immediately after that horrific mass shooting to loosen gun laws even further in that state. Just -- it was a remarkable thing at the time.

A mass killing by a gunman who reportedly purchased the weapon he used in the killings just hours before he went out and shot and killed all of those people. Georgia Republicans responded to that by loosening Georgia gun laws even more. They apparently wanted to move quickly after that gun massacre to smooth the path for the next guy who decides that`s how he plans to spend his day in Georgia. It`s just incredible.

On that same front, thought, there was big, big news late today, big bad news today for the entity that is more responsible than any other person, place, or thing in America for our country becoming the most heavily armed nation on Earth, for America becoming in our time the land of multiple mass civilian shootings every single day.

Today`s bad news for the National Rifle Association, for the NRA, happened in a north Texas courtroom and the ruling from the judge is one of those ones where I like started highlighting on page one and then I ran out of highlighter.

It`s just, I mean, this is one of those rulings that, you know, serves the definitive legal purpose, but it`s also written so clearly and so bluntly, it also has the effect of just explaining this whole thing to the public, too, to those of us who have been watching this case in particular and wondering if this might be finally the start of the end of the NRA.

Let`s me just read you from the start of the ruling. United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, in re National Rifle Association of America, United States Bankruptcy Judge Harlin DeWayne Hale. And this is the judge`s order.

Quote: The National Rifle Association of America, the NRA, is a 150-year- old organization with approximately five million members. The NRA asserts it is the nation`s foremost defender of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In recent years, however, it has become apparent that the NRA was suffering from inadequate governance and internal controls.

The attorney general for the state of New York conducted a 15-month long investigation of the NRA that according to the attorney general revealed widespread misuse of assets by the NRA`s Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, and his circle of insiders for their own personal benefit.

Nine months ago, the New York attorney general filed a lawsuit seeking dissolution, seeking the dissolving of the NRA based on allegations that, number one, the NRA has conducted its business in a persistently illegal manner and abused its powers by operating without effective oversight or control. And number two, the directors or members in control of the NRA have looted or wasted the corporate assets, have perpetuated the corporation solely for their personal benefit or have otherwise acted in an illegal, oppressive, or fraudulent manner.

The NRA filed this case seeking the protection of the Bankruptcy Code to preserve itself as a going concern in the face of litigation that it argues poses an existential threat.

The question the court is faced with is whether the existential threat facing the NRA is the type of threat that the Bankruptcy Code is meant to protect against. The Court believes it is not.

The judge continues, quote: For the reasons stated herein, the Court finds there is cause to dismiss this bankruptcy case as not having been filed in good faith, both because it was filed to gain an unfair litigation advantage and because it was filed to avoid state regulation.

So this is a bankruptcy court ruling out of federal court, federal bankruptcy court in Texas. It`s very bad news for the NRA. And therefore, it`s potentially huge news for whether the United States of America is ever going to deal with having an ongoing and ever-worsening plague of gun violence like no other country has ever seen among civilians in the history of the world. Just that. No biggie.

But what happened here in this case is that the NRA had the ancient misfortune to be founded right after the Civil War, back in 1871, in New York state. It`s not headquartered in New York state anymore. It hasn`t been for a long while. But that`s where it was founded. And that`s where it got its charter as a non-profit, in New York state. It is, therefore, regulated as a non-profit under New York state law.

And, among other things, New York state law says you can`t loot the place to line your own pockets if you are running a non-profit in the state of New York.

In August of last year, New York state Attorney General Tish James indeed brought a lawsuit against the NRA on the basis of New York state law. And her case alleged that the NRA was so corrupt, that its executives were self-dealing and spending money on themselves and their cronies to such a flagrant and wanton extent that the state of New York was going to use state law to dissolve that organization, and to seek reparation, to demand restitution to the tune of tens of millions of dollars from specific named NRA executives that the state said were involved in the corruption.

So a bunch of whistleblower claims, a bunch of investigative journalism, now this more than a year-long New York investigation is all how and why we have, you know, learned in recent months that while your lovable, rabid gun fan NRA member great uncle has been scraping together his hard-earned cash every month to send in his dues all these years so he can make sure he has his NRA member sticker on his bumper, what the actual NRA has been spending your uncle`s actual money on is like Italian silk suits, literally $275,000 worth of amazing Italian suits for one NRA executives -- one NRA executive.

He had the NRA pay for these, after he personally selected them at a Beverly Hills boutique.

It was -- it`s one thing to, you know, read in the newspaper about that kind of thing allegedly happening at the NRA. It`s another thing in this trial to have it all confirmed and to get to hear that NRA executive, Wayne LaPierre, try to make it sound OK, that this is what what NRA dues-paying members were actually, in the end, paying for.


(UNKNOWN): Now, Mr. LaPierre, are you familiar with the store in Beverly Hills, California, called Zegna?


(UNKNOWN): And you`ll see here on Exhibit 339 -- did you ever see the Exhibit 339 before today?

LAPIERRE: Yes, I have seen this.

(UNKNOWN): And do you know under what -- the -- the letter represents -- it involves clothing purchases by Ackerman McQueen on your behalf. And in the letter, Mr. Winkler says there were -- your -- "We need to address your wardrobe. You required us to provide specifically purchases at the Zegna store in Beverly Hills, California."

Do you see that?


(UNKNOWN): It says, "Due to the substantial nature of the total, we should address these items immediately." And it lists out a dollar number of $274,695.03. Do you see that?

LAPIERRE: I do see that.

(UNKNOWN): And you`ll see attached is a list of purchases by date and amount. Do you see that on the back?

LAPIERRE: I do see that.

(UNKNOWN): All right. And did you receive from the Zegna store clothing in a value of $274,695.03, paid for by Ackerman McQueen?

LAPIERRE: I never saw the receipts.

(UNKNOWN): And you did not pay for the suits, correct?

LAPIERRE: Correct.

(UNKNOWN): So the suits were a gift, correct?



LAPIERRE: They were work -- they were work wardrobes.


MADDOW: They were work wardrobe -- $274,695.03 that Wayne LaPierre required us to provide specifically in purchases from this one store in Beverly Hills, California -- $274,695 worth of suits, all bought for Wayne LaPierre from the NRA, but it was for work.

It was either that or, you know, those uniform jumpsuits with the name on the patch. We decided that $275,000 worth of Italian silk suits would be a better use of NRA dues-paying members` money. So that`s what Wayne got for himself.

And that was -- that was just one piece of it. My work wardrobe -- doesn`t everybody get a work wardrobe like that, $275,000 worth of Italian suits?

There was also Wayne and his family using NRA members` dues to pay for repeated family private jet trips to and from various family homes and the Bahamas, also his conflicts of interest, which also always seemed to result in a little something nice for Wayne, like the guy whose firm Wayne LaPierre signed off on, receiving contracts worth millions of dollars in payments from the NRA after that same guy repeatedly let Wayne stay on his 108-foot yacht, which included a full crew, including a chef, also some jet skis and an extra smaller boat that, like, rode along on top of the giant yacht.

Thanks, NRA dues-paying members. Wayne made sure that your money went to that guy. That guy let Wayne use his yacht, with the crew and the chef.

When the NRA -- when all this started to get exposed, when the NRA got caught for this stuff, in this corruption and self-dealing scandal, Wayne, that same executive, the guy with the suits and the private jet trips for his family and the yacht vacation bribes and all the rest of it, he came up with what he was sure was an escape hatch.

He thought that he had come up with a "get out of jail free" card for the NRA. He thought he had come up with a magic trick that would prevent the NRA from getting shut down by the attorney general of New York state. At least, he thought that is what he had discovered.

What he tried is he tried to declare bankruptcy, to basically dissolve the NRA on their own terms in New York, and then they would reincorporate themselves across the country in Texas, where I guess Wayne thought, you know, state law wouldn`t be used against him no matter how many more suits he bought with NRA members` dues.

Well, today this federal judge in bankruptcy court in Texas ruled that that escape hatch doesn`t work for this. There is no such escape hatch for the NRA. Avoiding getting in trouble for running your supposed charity like you were auditioning for the live Wikipedia theater version of the word embezzlement, that`s not what bankruptcy court is for. And so you can`t use declaring bankruptcy that way. You can`t use it for a shield against the kind of litigation that New York state is bringing to bear against NRA, which they are -- against the NRA, which they are going to use to shut the NRA down.

Here`s Judge Hale again today, quote: Based on the statements of counsel and the evidence of record, the Court finds that the primary purpose of this bankruptcy filing was to avoid potential dissolution of the NRA in the New York attorney general`s case.

The court is not in any way saying it believes the New York attorney general can or cannot make the required showing to obtain dissolution of the NRA. But this court is saying that the bankruptcy code does not provide a sanctuary from this kind of threat.

He says, quote: This is not an appropriate use of bankruptcy.

He concludes: This constitutes cause for dismissal.

So, the NRA`s effort to declare themselves bankrupt, and thereby escape what is waiting for them in New York state, has failed. The NRA cannot declare itself bankrupt to avoid being potentially shut down by the attorney general of New York.

Escape hatch closed.

That means the case against the NRA now continues, with them clearly having no get-out-of-jail-free card.

It also means the brutal politics of guns in this country are likely to never be the same.


MADDOW: Gun safety groups have been celebrating today`s thunderclap ruling against the NRA by a federal judge in Texas who ruled that the NRA cannot escape a New York lawsuit that aims to end the organization, that aims to dissolve it as an organization.

The NRA had tried to declare bankruptcy to avoid that fate. A federal bankruptcy judge today blocked that, told them, no, they can`t do it.

The president of Everytown for Gun Safety said in response, quote: Today`s disastrous decision for the NRA shows that they can`t even file for bankruptcy correctly, which doesn`t bode well for the many lawsuits and investigations they must now face.

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, said this, quote: We showed the world the NRA could be taken on and beaten, not only by exposing them but by notching victory after victory in statehouses, school boards, city councils and board rooms.

The NRA got its clock cleaned in court, but the gun safety movement is stronger than ever.

Joining us now is Shannon Watts. After the Sandy Hook shooting, she founded Moms Demand Action to push for stronger gun safety laws. She`s also been following this NRA trial very closely.

Ms. Watts, it`s nice to see you.

We spoke at sort of the outset of this trial. I`ve been really looking forward to hearing your reaction to today`s ruling.

SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER, MOMS DEMAND ACTION: You know, I would offer the NRA my thoughts and prayers. But as the judge found out today, the only faith the NRA has is bad faith.

And this filing for bankruptcy ended up just being a disaster and a colossal mistake for the NRA. It was a Hail Mary to avoid accountability. The court saw right through it. They properly dismissed it for lack of merit. And really, it`s a victory not only for the accountability of the NRA but for the rule of law.

MADDOW: The executives who are named in the New York lawsuit include Wayne LaPierre, who`s been the public facing head of the NRA for a very long time now. He`s also ascribed much of the sort of egregious financial mismanagement that`s alleged in the New York case against the group.

If that New York case is successful, not only would the NRA be dissolved as an organization, but Mr. LaPierre would be -- they`d be seeking millions of dollars in essentially restitution from him. And he`d be banned from ever holding this kind of a gig ever again in any sort of non-profit. It does feel like the stakes are as high as they could possibly be for the people who`ve been running that corner of the pro-gun, anti-gun reform movement.

WATTS: Absolutely. I mean, the NRA used to be a power broker. Now they are just broken. The road ahead of them has gotten so much harder. They have to go back to fighting all of these various litigations across the country against former donors, angry vendors.

And they also have to face lawsuits from the New York attorney general, the D.C. attorney general, and this news really comes at the very worst time for the NRA because the discussion about background checks in the Senate is just heating up.

And so, it will be onerous, if not impossible for the NRA really to effectively oppose gun safety and lobby lawmakers, which they always do, while fighting these court battles and their mounting debt.

MADDOW: Do you think that the background check litigation -- legislation, excuse me, has a path through the United States Senate?

WATTS: Absolutely I do. You know, we are having very positive conversations with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. This is something 90 percent of Americans support, 89 percent of gun owners -- only one in 10 even belongs to the NRA -- 87 percent Republicans.

On top of that, this return to normal after COVID also means the return of horrific shooting tragedies across the country. It is time after 25 years for Congress to act. It`s the right president. It`s the right Congress, and we are going to make sure this gets done.

MADDOW: Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, thanks for being here tonight. Now this bankruptcy ruling means the New York cases -- the New York case is going ahead. I imagine we`ll be tracking that with you as well in days ahead. Thanks, Shannon. It`s good to see you.

WATTS: Looking forward to it. Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. More ahead. Stay with us tonight.


MADDOW: It has now been five days since the biggest fuel pipeline in America was hacked. Russia or Eastern European-based cyber criminals burrowed into the computer networks for the operator of the Colonial Pipeline last week. They apparently stole a bunch of the company`s information, demanded a ransom to give the data back.

We don`t know if the company paid the ransom. But the company did respond by shutting that entire 5,000-plus-mile pipeline down on Friday to try to, they said, prevent any further breach of the operations.

This is a pipeline that distributes gasoline and diesel fuel and oil to heat up people`s homes, also a significant amount of jet fuel, which means the implications of this pipeline being down for days are pretty staggering. I mean, without fuel running through the Colonial Pipeline, gas stations in parts of the East Coast are running out of gasoline, particularly in the Southeast.

Gas stations in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Florida, and Virginia, some gas stations in all of those states had empty tanks today. Four states have all declared states of emergency, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina and Florida, to try to deal with fuel shortages. American Airlines announced today that all direct flights from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Hawaii, and from Charlotte to London, those flights will now have to make a stop along the way to refuel, because there isn`t enough jet fuel in North Carolina right now to power those long-haul flights all the way to their destination without stopping.

Southwest Airlines says they are flying in planes full of fuel to Tennessee, trying to supplement the dwindling local fuel supply because of the pipeline shutdown.

The thing that`s distressing, though, is that, even though we don`t know whether or not a ransom was paid, it really appears like this is not ending any time soon.

The company that operates the pipeline says they are expecting to resume full operations by the end of the week. The White House says that we should expect some sort of decision potentially to be announced by the company as soon as tomorrow.

But even if that happens, fuel moves slowly through a big pipeline like this, about five miles an hour. At that pace, it will take about two weeks for fuel to make its way from where the pipeline starts to where it ends. As cyber attacks go, this is freaking consequential. This is one for the record books. And it is not over yet.


MADDOW: If I have been glowing a little green through your TV screen tonight, it`s not a bad mix on your screen. It`s professional jealousy -- mixed with pride, yes, and appreciation and happiness for my beloved colleague. But also, I am green with envy because tomorrow night, the one and only Lawrence O`Donnell has a one-on-one interview with President Joe Biden.

It is part of the special MSNBC town hall on vaccinating America. It`s tomorrow, 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

In addition to his interview with the president, Lawrence is also going to be joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci, by Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, and by Moderna vaccine developer, Kizzmekia Corbett.

It`s going to be kind of an amazing thing.

"Vaccinating America: An MSNBC Town Hall", tomorrow, live at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, and streaming live on Don`t miss it.

Also, don`t tell Lawrence I`m jealous.


Good evening, Lawrence, and congratulations, my friend.