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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 5/13/21

Guests: Rochelle Walensky, Mark Warner


Interview with CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky. Interview with chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.


RULA JEBREAL, JOURNALIST: We see where this rhetoric is going, and I fear it`s going to be bloodshed, pogroms, and what you saw these nights it`s going to become the norm in Israel and Palestine.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": Pray for that not to be the case. Rula Jebreal and Lisa Goldman, thank you for sharing your thoughts tonight. I really appreciate it.

That is "ALL IN" on this Thursday night.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

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

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

We`ve got a big show tonight. Really, really happy to have you here particularly on a news day that we are all going to remember for a long time because of this.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Today, CDC is updating our guidance for fully vaccinated people. Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.

Based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines, and understanding how the virus spreads, that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated.


MADDOW: That moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated. That`s the CDC Director Rochelle Walensky announcing this afternoon that if you`re vaccinated, you can stop wearing masks, indoors and out, except in very specific situations. In health-care facilities, in congregate care facilities like nursing homes or shelters, in congregate living facilities like jails or prisons, or interestingly on transportation, on buses, planes, airports, bus depots. Those are the exceptions.

But other than those things, if you`re vaccinated, it`s okay to take off your masks now, indoors and out. Really? Are you sure? How sure are you?

This is a big change. The previous CDC guidance on where and whether Americans can safely take off their masks was honestly really confusing and hard to explain.

The chart they put out initially wasn`t any help to me at all, but the new guidance makes sense. If you`re vaccinated, that`s you on the right side there. You`re good to go. Happy, green lit without a mask in all those circumstances.

If you`re not vaccinated, that`s you on the left. Still lots of danger, lot of complexity, lots of reason to worry. Lots to pay attention to.

But that`s the bottom line. The simple bottom line. That`s what`s so important about the CDC`s announcement today.

Life on the right is you, smiling without a mask on, vaccinated. Life on the left is you still mask in the almost every circumstance, and a lot of them still dangerous.

Life on the left is you not vaccinated. Are you sure you want that kind of complexity in your life and that kind of risk? You can make your life much less risky and much more simple if you move on over to the right side by getting your shot.

The CDC made this announcement at the White House COVID briefing today. The news networks all broke in with special reports on the big news. President Biden himself, along with Vice President Harris, they came out the address the press and the American public about it. It`s a big deal.

Both the president and CDC director, Dr. Walensky, repeatedly making that bottom line point clear, that this news is great news for people who are vaccinated. Your life, if you are fully vaccinated, can go very much back to normal. You can almost entirely drop the masks.

But if you`re not vaccinated, that doesn`t apply to you, and that simplicity, the benefits of vaccination, this huge weight on the scale in terms of getting your shot, that`s the big deal today. This is -- the CDC director and the president making that clear and making the case that it`s time to get your shot if you haven`t had it yet. Number one, because your country needs you to, but number two, because your life will get better and safer and easier if you do it now.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When your country asks you to get vaccinated, you did. The American people stepped up. You did what I consider to be your patriotic duty. That`s how we`ve gotten to this day. After a year of hard work and so much sacrifice, the rule is very simple -- get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do.

WALENSKY: The science is also very clear about unvaccinated people. You remain at risk of mild or severe illness, of death, or of spreading the disease to others. You should still mask and you should get vaccinated right away.

Your health and how soon you return to normal life before the pandemic are in your very capable hands. Once you are fully vaccinated, two weeks after your last dose, you can shed your mask.


MADDOW: You can shed your mask once you`re fully vaccinated.

Joining us now on this very big day is CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

Dr. Rochelle, it`s a real pleasure to have you with us tonight. Thanks for making the time to be here.

WALENSKY: My pleasure. Good evening, Rachel.

MADDOW: So, I have a lot of feelings about this announcement, if I can just speak in personal terms. When you said today in that briefing, we have all longed for this moment, like my heart leapt into my throat. It`s true, and it is such great news after all this time.

And at the same time, I am very nervous about what you said today. It is hard for me to imagine myself, you know, waltzing into the Stop and Shop tomorrow morning and not wearing a mask. I just feel I`m not wired that way anymore and it still feels -- it still feels risky.

So I -- again, forgive me for speaking in impersonal terms and I don`t mean to be too blunt about this, but how sure are you? Because this feels like a really big change.

WALENSKY: We`re sure. There`s an extraordinary amount of evidence now that demonstrates the vaccines are working in the real world, in cohort studies, in care facilities, in -- across all states, that these vaccines are working the way they worked in the clinical trials.

Importantly, there`s also new data just even in the last two weeks that demonstrates these vaccines are working in -- against the variants that we have circulating here in the United States, and also data has emerged that has demonstrated that if you are vaccinated, you are less likely, not likely to asymptomatically shed the virus and give to it others.

So, it is -- it is this coalescing of all the evidence now that tells us really, it is safe to take off your mask.

Now, that said, I think your point is really well taken -- for the last 15 months we have been saying wear a mask. And so, we`ve become -- it`s been engrained in us. You can`t leave the house without a mask. I went for a walk for the first time without a mask outside a week ago, and that felt strange, right?

So I think we all are going to have to become comfortable with this again. But what we`re saying is now is time to make those efforts to start getting comfortable.

MADDOW: You`re going to, I know, end up reiterating some of what you just said to answer these questions, but I surveyed a lot of people, both on the staff of this show and in my personal life today in terms of things they feel nervous about still even after listening to you and listening to the president today.

Here`s one. If I am vaccinated and the coworker that I sit next to at work is not vaccinated, is it really safe for me not to wear a mask all day at work if I know I`m in the presence of people who aren`t vaccinated? I can`t control whether or not they`re wearing masks. I can only control whether or not I do.

Is it safe to be around somebody indoors all day long who hasn`t been vaccinated who may not be mask compliant?

WALENSKY: What I would say is that it`s safe for you as a vaccinated person. You`re 95 percent protected from disease. And in some studies, that`s 97 percent protected from disease. For those breakthrough infections that can, you know, rarely occur, for the most part, they are resulting in asymptomatic or very mild disease. So, it`s really quite safe for you, the vaccinated person.

It`s not unsafe for the unvaccinated person, especially if that person is taking off their mask. And so, what we would say is for that unvaccinated person, please do either keep your mask on or, in fact, better yet, go get vaccinated.

MADDOW: In terms of breakthrough infections, people who are vaccinated who are nevertheless contracting COVID -- I know it`s a very, very small number of people, but you have -- you and the CDC have talked about the fact that there have been thousands of these cases.

Importantly, they`re less dangerous cases of COVID. They tend to be asymptomatic cases. Very, very, very, very small proportions of people who are vaccinated who still get infected, end up very sick or having to be hospitalized. They also pose less of a risk to other people in terms of shedding -- having a high viral load shedding virus, all of those important things.

But have we learned anything? With now having -- you know, tens of millions of people vaccinated in this country, hundred of millions of shots out there, have we learned enough about the differences between the vaccines? Can we yet say whether there`s more of less of a chance of a breakthrough infection with any of our three vaccines, or should we think of them all as essentially offering equivalent protection?

WALENSKY: So, we do know from the clinical trials that the vaccines did what they were supposed to do. They were supposed to prevent severe infection, hospitalizations and death, and all of them worked equally well in doing so. They were essentially 100 percent effective in preventing severe infections, hospitalizations, or death.

Do we know exactly whether one vaccine might result in more asymptomatic infections than another? That is still under study. But for the most part when we have seen these studies that have been doing screening of people, testing of people who have been vaccinated, what they`re finding is when they`re asymptomatically infected, rarely asymptomatically infected, they`re not shedding virus to others.

MADDOW: On that point, I guess I have a testing question, too. When I think about my own experience over the past 14 months, if I found myself for some reason in a car without a mask on with other people who didn`t have masks on or in some other sort of enclosed space where we didn`t have masks on, over the course of this past year, I am now wired to think of myself as having been exposed and needing to get tested because I`ve been in an unsafe place.

Now that I have been fully vaccinated, I hear you in terms of how safe I am, even in that kind of an environment, but under what circumstances should I still consider getting a test? Should I be worried about having an infection that`s asymptomatic? Should I be just looking out for symptoms? Those of us who are vaccinated, when do we test now?

WALENSKY: So, really, our guidance actually updated on this a bit ago, several weeks ago, and has basically said that you do not need a test if you`re fully vaccinated and you`ve been exposed. However, you do need a test if you`re fully vaccinated and you have symptoms.

So, this is one of those things that`s really important, and that is if you are vaccinated and you have symptoms of COVID-19, please do put your mask back on, go get yourself tested and keep your mask on until your test comes back negative.

MADDOW: Let me also ask you about the exceptions to the broad rule that you laid -- or the broad guidance that you laid out today. It makes sense to me that in congregated living, congregated care facilities, places like homeless shelters, nursing homes, health-care environments, jails and prisons, that even vaccinated people are advised to still be -- to still wear masks in those kinds of environments because of the risks associated with those environments specifically.

I don`t really understand the transit guidance. What is it about being on a bus or in a plane or in a bus depot or in an airport that`s different than being in a restaurant or a bar or a grocery store? Why do we have that exception for transit?

WALENSKY: Yeah, this is a really important question. Thank you for that.

So this guidance today was about individuals, and what individuals who are vaccinated can do. And we now at CDC have the hard work in the weeks ahead of taking all of our guidance, our child care guidance and school guidance and camp guidance and our travel guidance and updating it in the context of what we can do as individuals.

Importantly for the travel guidance, we have travel guidance but we also have a travel policy that involves not just CDC but multiple agencies coming together in a policy, and that policy is another thing that we are going to have to look at in the context of our new guidance.

MADDOW: So if transit, if policies around wearing masks on transit are revised the, CDC guidance about masks on transit would also essentially revise to comport with those policies? To sort of being addressed in tandem?

WALENSKY: Yeah, we will -- we will collaborate together among different agencies to decide what to do about our current travel policy.

MADDOW: Okay. Last question for you.

For parents who have kids under age 12 -- obviously the Pfizer vaccine now is approved for kids age 12 and up. But if you`ve got kids under age 12, how do you approach this guidance within your family? The kids need to keep wearing masks if they can`t be vaccinated, even if their older siblings and their parents have been vaccinated and they don`t have to wear masks. That seems like that`s -- that`s going to be an awkward inter-family dynamic for a lot of folks who have kids of different ages or just young kids.

WALENSKY: Right. So, first of all, let`s just celebrate for a brief moment that we have now a vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds, which I think was really great to see that we can now vaccinate 17 million more people in the United States because of this new authorization and recommendations yesterday.

But you bring up an important point about what about children who are between the ages of zero and 12. And, you know, we have to treat them as unvaccinated. So yes, those children still do have to wear a mask to protect themselves. And the same, you know, sort of mitigation strategies apply: wear your mask, distance if you can`t wear a mask, and go to well- ventilated -- ventilated spaces.

MADDOW: Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, congratulations on -- I mean, in some ways, this is an achievement of our public health folks, and an achievement of the CDC to get us to a point where we can announce this kind of historic change in guidance today. Thanks for being with us on a big day.

Come back any time, as always. Let us know if anybody starts messing with you and the scientists at the CDC, and we`ll knock their block off for you.

It`s good to see you, Doctor. Thank you for being here.


WALENSKY: You, too. No problems so far. Thank you so much.

MADDOW: All right. Let me know. You know how to reach me.

All right. It is an amazing thing. I mean, I will just tell you at a personal level -- I`m sorry for speaking about that at such a personal level with Dr. Walensky. But when I was talking to people about this new guidance and what to ask her, everybody had such personal feelings about it and I realized I did too and all these questions.

Part of it is that I feel like I`m going to have to rewire myself so when I see somebody out in the world who doesn`t have a mask I don`t instantly think, you are a threat. Or you are selfish or you`re a COVID denier and you definitely haven`t been vaccinated. I mean, we`re going to have to rewire how we think about each other, because the CDC`s guidance, which she just told me, we are sure, is that if you`re vaccinated you don`t need to wear a mask except in specific circumstances. That means as we change as a country we`re going to look at each other differently and unwire our preconceptions about what a mask or lack of a mask means.

President Biden spoke to that today asking for people to -- President Biden actually and Dr. Fauci both spoke to that, asking for people to essentially be patient, be compassionate, give people respect for whatever they decide on this front because with this changing guidance, we`re going to have changing norms and we have to give each other space to have feelings as we go through what`s going to be a big change that`s going to create a lot of visceral -- a lot of visceral reaction in a lot of us just in our day-to- day lives. Just big day, big change.

All right. So there`s lot going on in the news today. Obviously, this amazing milestone moment from the CDC. I`m very grateful to have a chance to talk with the CDC director about the announcement. One nice change for me on this show between this administration and the last one is being allowed to speak with policy makers and people in positions of authority in the government who can explain the decisions of the government, not having access those kinds of officials from the last administration was honestly, I mean, petty I think on their part, but it was a drag for us. On days like this, I`m particularly grateful that the administration puts these folks out.

I will tell you, we`ve also got the head of the Intelligence Committee in the Senate joining us tonight, which I`m also grateful for.

President Biden today, he spoke on the mask announcement but he also spoke today on the crippling cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline. He ascribed blame for it today. Blamed it on a criminal enterprise base in the Russia.

And he said interestingly that the Russian government itself didn`t do it. That it`s the conclusion of the FBI that the Russian government isn`t responsible for the attack directly. But he said the criminal network that did it is base in the Russia. And he said the administration is now talking to Moscow directly about how responsible countries should handle criminal enterprises like this that are operating within their borders.

Lots to say and lots to ask about. We`ve got Senator Mark Warner, the head of the Intelligence Committee in the Senate who`s going to join us in just a few minutes on that. I`m really looking forward to that conversation.

There`s also some laugh out loud news to get to tonight on the Republican recount of the Arizona presidential election results. We`ve got that ahead tonight.

There`s really interesting news on whether we`re going to get an infrastructure bill, and just how urgent that question is getting.

We`re going to get to all of that tonight. I`m looking forward to it.

But while we`re -- while I`m just being myself, while I`m just talking in personal terms tonight, can I just take a second here this part of the show to tell you what I think is the most single insane thing that came up in today`s news? I don`t know that anybody else is covering this in TV news. It`s definitely not getting a lot of attention, but honestly I find it completely astonishing, and I just need to get it out of my system.

All right. About eight weeks ago, a fantastic reporter Jane Mayer at "The New Yorker", she`s a national treasure. Jane Mayer eight weeks ago published a newsy article at "The New Yorker" about New York state prosecutors and the criminal case they`re pursuing against former President Donald Trump. And that piece in the New Yorker was published at a high profile time for the investigation. It was right after a court ruling cleared the way for the prosecutors in New York to obtain a hard drive that contains millions of pages of Donald Trump`s tax records and financial records and business records dating back ten years to 2011.

And Jane Mayer is such a good reporter, such a good writer. Here`s part of how she laid it out.

She said, the hard drive includes potentially revealing notes showing how Trump and his accountants arrived at their tax numbers. The hard drive is believed to be locked in a high security annex in Lower Manhattan. A spokesman for the district attorney`s office declined to confirm the whereabouts of the hard drive, but people familiar with the office presumed that it`s been secured in the radio frequency isolation chamber in the Louis J. Lefkowitz State Office Building on Centre Street in New York. The chamber is protected by a double set of doors, the kind use in the bank vaults, and its walls are lined with what looks like glimmering copper foil to block remote attempts to tamper with digital evidence.

She says, quote, it`s a modern equivalent of Tutankhamun`s tomb. Such extreme precautions are not surprising, she writes, given the nature of the case. No previous president has been charged with a criminal offense. Trump remains the Republican Party`s most popular potential presidential candidate. He recently signaled interest in another run.

But if he`s charged and convicted, he could end up serving a prison term instead of a second White House term.

Jane Mayer goes on to profile the district attorney who is leading this criminal investigation of Trump in New York. In fact, in this piece they breaks the news he`s going to be leaving office at the end of this year which really puts a ticking clock on how fast the case against Trump is likely to move this year since that prosecutor is not likely to want to hand it off midstream to his successor. He`s going to want to do it himself.

There`s tons of news there. Super interesting. And in the middle of this piece -- I have had this physically cut out and tacked up on my book shelf ever since. Jane Mayer dropped this, she says, quote, Trump has already demonstrated a willingness to engage in unthinkable tactics to protect himself. Among his social circle in Palm Beach, speculation abounds that Florida`s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis might not honor an extradition request from New York if a bench warrant were issued for Trump`s arrest.

The state`s attorney from Palm Beach County tells "The New Yorker" that he doubts such defiance would stand. Extradition he points out is a constitutional duty and a governor`s role is ministerial. But he admits the process might not go smoothly. You know what, he says, I thought January 6th was going to go smoothly. Congress` role was ministerial, then, too.

Governor DeSantis did not respond to a request for comment.

So, this was eight weeks ago. Jane Mayer just dropping into this already newsy profile of the New York state prosecutors that are pursuing criminal charges against former President Trump, just dropping in the middle there that if Trump is indicted by those New York state prosecutors and there`s a warrant out for his arrest in New York state, maybe the Republican governor of Florida would, what, like hide Trump? Shield him from extradition like he`s an international hijacker hiding out in Tehran or something?

That was a remarkable thing that Jane Mayer raised the prospect of eight weeks ago in "The New Yorker". Well, apparently yes, that`s a thing. That`s happening. I mean, they`re at least working on it. today picked up this story line and run with it and it turns out this is actually a thing in Trump world that they are working on. The naughty problem of how to shield him from extradition, you know, once he`s indicted. And there`s an arrest warrant for him, because apparently they expect that`s on its way.

Here`s "Politico`s" reporting today -- call caps, scoop. Palm Beach makes contingency plans in case Trump is indicted. Law enforcement officials in Palm Beach County, Florida, have actively prepared for the possibility that New York prosecutors could indict former President Donald Trump while he`s at Mar-a-Lago, according to two high ranking county officials involved in planning sessions.

Among the topics discussed in those meetings -- because they`re having meetings about it -- quote, how to handle the thorny extradition issues that could arise in an indictment against Trump moves forward. An obscure clause in Florida`s statute on interstate extradition gives Governor Ron DeSantis the ability to intervene and investigate whether an indicted person, quote, ought to be surrendered to law enforcement officials from another state. Which mean as Mar-a-Lago prepares to close down for the season -- didn`t even know that was a thing -- and as Trump therefore relocates to Bedminster, New Jersey, this summer, it isn`t just the Florida heat he`s leaving behind. He could lose a key piece of political protection if an indictment comes down while Trump is in Bedminster, New Jersey, for the summer this could play out very differently. An attorney for Trump declined to comment.

So, high ranking county officials in the county where Trump lives in Florida are having meetings now reportedly preparing for an anticipated standoff that will ensue once Trump is criminally charged -- because they`re expecting that? -- and once a warrant is issued for his arrest in New York.

Law enforcement officials and county officials meeting about this possibility in Florida, and now through the press publicizing in advance that there is a little clause in Florida state law that might let the Republican governor down there try to shield Trump from arrest somehow. Yeah, you wonder why all the Trump people keep floating the idea that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is going to be Trump`s running mate in 2024.

Yeah, keep flattering the guy. They`re trying to line you up so you`ll keep Trump out of jail soon. Like this year, way before 2024. When they tell you you`re going to be his running mate it`s because they`re trying to get to you build a moot around his castle to keep the -- to keep law enforcement away.

Well, now, Trump is apparently planning on leaving Florida for some portion of the summer, moving to misplace in New Jersey, and that I guess would be a comparatively easy place for him to be arrested. So maybe that is affecting his thinking about his summer plans, right?

I mean, forgive me, but it is crazy to me that this is part of news right now. A former president has never faced criminal charges in our country ever. This former president is still running the Republican Party, demanding the scalps of his enemies and demanding loyalty, and demanding people repeat his bananas claims that he`s still the president and didn`t lose the last election and it`s put the Republican Party in convulsions while they purge people who no longer please him.

But, meanwhile, that same former twice impeached one term president is facing criminal charges in the state of Georgia. Yesterday, we found out the main witness for the serious federal obstruction of justice allegations against him is about to testify to Congress about Trump`s behavior, which could result in a federal criminal referral to the Justice Department on those serious obstruction allegations for what he never had to face the music while he was in office.

The New York criminal investigation of him really does have millions of pages of his tax and business and football records, apparently all on a hard drive locked up in a modern Tutankhamun`s tomb.

"The Wall Street Journal" reports today a private school in New York has been subpoenaed in conjunction with the New York investigation, in the way that might not just signal additional pressure on witnesses against Trump in that investigation. It might signal that additional tax related allegations about violation of federal tax law could be referred from those state prosecutors back to SDNY, which would involve a whole other set of prosecutors on his case.

And in that context, the, like, 378th most clicked on news story of the day is, oh, by the way, who hum, we might have a physical battle ahead soon, sometime over the next few months in which the former president tries to barricade himself in Florida with the help of local Republican official who is say they`re try to keep him from being arrested from either the feds or New York state.

You know, totally normal. Some ex-presidents open a library, right, or start a foundation. This one goes shopping for somewhere without an extradition treaty where he can rule from exile?

I wish this were hyperbole. Amazing times we live in. Just amazing. We`ve got lots to come tonight.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: People locally call it the M Bridge was it`s kind of in the shape of the letter M. Technically, it`s called the Hernando de Soto Bridge. It was built 48 years ago. It`s a little stretch of Interstate 40 that connects Arkansas to Tennessee, across the mighty Mississippi River.

And today, excuse me, in this week, there was an alarming dispatch from the westbound side of that bridge, the Hernando de Soto Bridge.


911 OPERATOR: Memphis 911 emergency. Do you need police, fire, or ambulance?

BRIDGE INSPECTOR: I am doing a bridge inspection here on the I-40 Mississippi River Bridge. And we just found a super critical finding that needs traffic shut down in both direction on the I-40 Mississippi River Bridge. We need you to get people off the bridge as soon as possible in both directions.


MADDOW: A super critical finding. That was a 911 call made by an engineer doing a routine checkup on that bridge on Interstate 40 over the Mississippi river in Memphis this week. He keeps calling it a critical finding, a supercritical finding. What he means by that is that he and the other bridge inspectors found a crack in one of the structural beams that holds the bridge up.

The director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation said today that that kind of fault, that kind of crack could lead to a, quote, catastrophic event, meaning it could lead to bridge to fall down. So, yeah, when you are a bridge inspector, you see that kind of damage, you actually do just call 911, and the bridge was immediately closed, not just to all traffic on the bridge, on the road, but to all boats under the bridge in case it didn`t just collapse but collapsed down into the Mississippi River.

Thirty-five thousand vehicles cross this bridge every day. Between that and the barges on the Mississippi River that travelled beneath it, this is a really important transit point for lots of different things and people. Right now, it`s closed indefinitely because of a giant unattended crack that might cause the whole thing to collapse at any moment.

We`re kind of having that kind of a week as a country. I mean, today was also day seven of the huge fuel disruptions up and down the East Coast after the biggest fuel pipeline in the country was taken offline as a result of a foreign cyberattack. We`re going to talk about that in just a moment.

But the difference between the shutdown of the pipeline and the shutdown of this major interstate bridge over the Mississippi right now is that the bridge wasn`t attacked. The bridge is a piece of critical infrastructure we just neglected badly enough that it almost fell down. It`s, of course, not just this one bridge that`s falling apart. There`s bridges and roads and infrastructure decaying all over this country.

That`s the impetus behind Preisdent Biden`s big infrastructure bill, to start investing and repairing that old infrastructure now, patching it up before it starts to crack and break and fall down and build new, better, more modern infrastructure that will keep us going for the next generation or two or three.

Today, President Biden took a meeting with multiple Senate Republicans trying to find a bipartisan deal on an infrastructure bill. As it stands today, the president`s offer has been rejected by every must be of the Republican Caucus. They don`t like his infrastructure. They want to agree to a smaller less expensive, less ambitious idea for infrastructure.

The president today called his meeting today with Republican senators, quote, very, very good. He said he was optimistic that an agreement could be reached. The lead Republican negotiator is Senator Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia. She said they made progress towards finding middle ground. Good for them?

It does beg the question of why the Biden administration is moving towards the Republican plan on infrastructure at all. They don`t necessarily need them, and if what Republicans want is less ambition, less work, why do that? Are they even going vote for it in the end?

This week, a group of progressive groups led by John Podesta sent a letter to President Biden essentially telling him to abandon the pursuit of bipartisanship here, to just use the Democratic majority in the Senate to pass the bill he has proposed and the Democrats want, don`t water it down the way Republicans want it, particularly because they`re probably not going to vote for it any way. They say, quote, those who argue for small minded measures are on the wrong side of history.

It`s an interesting counterpoint to the president`s repeated persistent attempts to try to broker a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure or, frankly, anything else. If the president does what Republicans are asking, if he makes the infrastructure bill cost less, the end result is that the bill will do less.


BRIDGE INSPECTOR: We have a broken bridge member. We need to get traffic off the bridge.


MADDOW: We need traffic off the bridge. We`re having a 911 moment, literally in terms of failing infrastructure in this country. What to do about it, how ambitious to be. Watch this space.

We`ll be right back. Stay with us.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As for the people who carried out this attack, the FBI released detail on the attack to others can take steps to avoid being victimized by Colonial has been. We do not believe the Russian government was involved in this attack, but we do have strong reason to believe that the criminals who did the attack are living in Russia. That`s where it came from. We have been in direct communication with Moscow about the imperative for responsible countries to take decisive action against these ransomware networks.

We`re also going to pursue a measure to disrupt their ability to operate.

REPORTER: Are you confident that Putin was not involved?

BIDEN: I am confident that I read the report of the FBI accurately, and they say they were not, he was not, the government was not.

REPORTER: Will you consider doing any kind of retaliatory cyberattacks to shut down these criminals? Are you ruling that out?



MADDOW: Are you ruling that out? No. Are you ruling out a retaliatory cyberattack against these guys? No.

President Biden staying the cyberattack that shut down the biggest fuel pipeline in the country for a week was not mounted by the government of Russia but the guys who did it live in Russia. He said it`s something the Biden administration is taking up with the Russian government as they move to disrupt groups like this. What does that mean to disrupt a criminal network who mounts these kinds of attacks?

And for that matter what would a retaliatory attack look like if that`s what the U.S. government was going to do? Because in the wake of this attack on us, this successful attack on us, here`s the other part we have to think about.


REPORTER: Were you briefed on the fact that the company did pay the ransom?

BIDEN: I have no comment on that. Thank you.

REPORTER: Thank you, sir.


MADDOW: Were you briefed on whether the comment paid a ransom? No comment. Which implies, yeah, the company did pay a ransom.

Bloomberg News, in fact, today was the first to report that the company that operates the Colonial Pipeline did cough up something on the order of $5 million to the group that attacked this piece of infrastructure, which means the group who did it, their bottom line outcome is that they made $5 million. And they got worldwide publicity and the pipeline was still shut down and disrupted for nearly a week.

As it stands right now, that is a rally bad outcome for us, because not only did we display this vulnerability to the world, and not only did we incur that kind of pain in terms of the fuel shortages and all of the inconvenience that this caused in terms of shutting this thing down, but now they got paid, and so, that`s plenty of incentive for them and groups like them to keep doing stuff like this and worse.

Bottom line, the way this resolved is bad for the United States in terms of incentives and ongoing way going forward for these kind of attackers. Unless there`s something tells we should understand about how the U.S. can strike back here.

Joining us now is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia.

Senator, it`s a real pleasure to have you with us tonight. Thank you for making time.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: I look at the overall picture of what happened with that pipeline, and I think, we lost and they won. The disruption to us was profound. They got paid. They got away with it as far as we can tell, but I know I don`t have the visibility into the situation that you do.

How do you see it?

WARNER: Well, maybe worse than you see it. You know, I have been talking about this for years, getting no traction. The number of ransomware attacks that go on every day that people often pay in crypto currencies like bitcoin, could stun most of your audience. And while in this case, Colonial Pipeline did the right thing, they notified government, they notified law enforcement, they were under no obligation to do this.

And the remarkable thing is, you know, this was one ransomware attack that shut down a third of the nation`s gasoline against one company. Probably the bad guys -- let`s assume the president`s right, there was no Russian government involvement, but the Russian spy services were definitely watching this, watching this.

So let`s think back a couple months ago. Some of your audience probably remember something called the SolarWinds attack. That attack, which was the Russian government, penetrated 18,000 companies.

Luckily, the Russian spies only took out information. They didn`t shut down those 18,000 companies. They could have done the same kind of thing in terms of a ransomware attack that attacked Colonial Pipeline. That would have brought our whole economy to a halt.

And we don`t even have a requirement at this point that says if you`re attacked, even if you`re a government agency, you have got tell the FBI, the cybersecurity administration, CISA, and we cannot solve this just with the government. We need Microsoft, Amazon, we need the cybersecurity companies all collocated so mid incident we can get this information and try to respond, because the awful secret is, in a world of cyber, a good bad guy, talented, not good -- a talented bad guy can, you know, one time out of 1,000 break through the barriers of most companies.

And we saw that -- the ramifications of that with Colonial over the last five days. Think about that when the Russian spies were in 18,000 companies for six months and most of us in the government didn`t realize that.

MADDOW: When the president today said that the U.S. government is taking action to disrupt the operation of these people who carried out this attack, how should we understand what that means?

WARNER: We have offensive capability capabilities as well. We`ve got to be willing to punch back against our adversaries. We cannot, whether it`s the Russians or Chinese, allow them to steal our intellectual property, basically hold hostage companies for ransomware or, in the case of SolarWinds, actual trade information about individuals.

And at times when you`ve got companies that are negligent like Equifax was, with 140 million Americans` personal information that the Chinese stole, and there was no repercussions, we need to hold some people accountable, but in the interim, we also need to make sure there was at least a -- you know, when the fire is burning, you got to report it to the firemen, and you`ve got to then pulse the whole network the make sure there`s not other fires out there.

This appears to have just been a case of hack against one pipeline. I think back again to the SolarWinds hack -- 18,000 companies. You know, luckily, it was only an espionage mission. It had had been a ransomware attack, we could have -- you know, it could have shut down part of the economy. And people say, that may never happen here.

The only way to look at what Russia did to Ukraine, repeatedly, they shut down the Ukrainian economy or turned off all the power right before Christmas in Ukraine. Think about that happening all across America. We can do a better job. We have the capabilities both offensively and we can increase our defense, but we also need to make sure this information is at least shared in a public private way.

You know, the government can`t do it alone. The private sector can`t do it alone. We need to equivalent of an incident reporting mission, and this is one area, Rachel -- I heard it earlier about the bridges, and I`m with you, we need to fix that. We need to deal with our infrastructure in major, once in a generation way.

But on this, there is bipartisan support, and we need to put a new legal legislative response to build upon President Biden`s executive order he put out yesterday.

MADDOW: Virginia Senator Mark Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee -- you have absolutely been sounding this alarm for a very long time. I feel like even in the coverage of this Colonial Pipeline attack, it`s almost being covered like it`s a natural disaster of some sort of accident. It is in fact an attack, and there`s a lot of complexity to what`s warranted in response.

Sir, thanks for helping us understand it. I really appreciate you making time to be here tonight.

WARNER: Well, Rachel, I just say, just as we can fix our bridges, we can also do a better job on our cybersecurity. And we ought to commit ourselves in this United States. We can do it better. So, thanks so much.

MADDOW: I hear you, sir.

All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.




JORDAN KLEPPER, COMEDIAN: Last week, I traveled to a sweltering Arizona where Republican state senators are auditing results of the 2020 election in a giant arena next to an actual carnival.

KATIE HOBBS, AZ SECRETARY OF STATE: It is headed by a company that has no editing or election experience, and they are making up the rules as they go along.

KLEPPER: So, who is running the audit?

HOBBS: Cyber Ninjas.

KLEPPER: Did you say Cyber Ninjas?

HOBBS: I did say Cyber Ninjas.

KLEPPER: Is it run by a 12-year-old boy?

HOBBS: It sounds like it, right?

KLEPPER: While the Cyber Ninjas website looks like the invitation to my ninth birthday party, we must not judge audit companies by their splash page.

But you give it to the pros, let the pros handle this? Think some amount --


HOBBS: -- nothing to do with audit or elections.

KLEPPER: Well, maybe they are new-ish to it? How many audits have they done?

HOBBS: None.

KLEPPER: They`ve never done an audit?


KLEPPER: Well, I mean, give them a wide berth, right? First job, make some of states with her first job. I remember my first job, I burned a lot of hamburgers. I work at T.J.Maxx.


MADDOW: Jordan Klepper of "The Daily Show" interviewing Arizona secretary of state Katie Hobbs about whatever it is that Arizona Republicans are doing with the presidential election results and their state.

I want to show you this, happening right now in the arena that Republicans rented to do whatever it is they are doing to the 2020 election ballots looking for a watermarks and folds and bamboo that will reveal the dark side plot to steal the election from Donald Trump.

In just a few minutes, tonight, expected to stop whatever it is they are doing and pack everything up. They will put the whole thing away for a week while this venue hosts a whole bunch of high school graduations. They will move all the ballots and everything back in and unpack and start counting and scanning and doing everything again.

What could go wrong? I mean, that`s a totally normal and professional thing to do, right? Already, the Twitter account for the audit run by an uncertified total inexperienced conspiracy theorist led a bunch of Trump artisans is claiming they`ve uncovered significant discrepancies as they unbox and re-box the ballots they will soon unbox again.

Oh, you`re finding discrepancies? What an unexpected turn of events.

I know we`ve been covering this since it started three weeks ago, but you should know, this was supposed to be done by tomorrow. But instead, they are packing at all of, and they are going to unpack it again in a week and keep this thing going all summer long, because they think this is going great for them.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: All right, that is going to do it for us for now, but I will see you again tomorrow.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with the great Lawrence O`Donnell.

Good evening, Lawrence. Congratulations on your epic, epic, epic thing last night. The town hall and your interview with President Biden were amazing.