IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 5/18/21

Guests: Linda Zhang, Steve Gallardo


Linda Zhang, the chief engineer behind the new all-electric Ford F- 150, is interviewed. Steve Gallardo, the lone Democratic member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, is interviewed.


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

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you here. We`ve got a lot to get to tonight.

There`s a lot going on in the news, a lot going on this hour. We`re going to be going live to Arizona in just a few minutes tonight where the Republican Party`s indulgence of the Trump election fraud fantasies have now turned into sort of a nightmare for their own party.

The dangerousness of what they are doing with this so-called audit of Arizona`s election results is now causing some Republicans who initially supported it to not just jump off this proverbial ship, but they are now trying to torpedo that proverbial ship itself. Republicans in Maricopa County, again, including some who initially supported this thing, they`re now not only demanding an end to the recount, they`re saying they will refuse to cooperate with or have anything to do with it anymore. They`re now pledging among other things to defend the integrity of Arizona`s election by fighting in court any purported result that is announced for this audit.

Some of the most lurid allegations made by the so-called audit group, the so-called recount groups about something being terribly wrong and them having discovered terrible discrepancies in what they have recounted and audited thus far. Some of their most lurid and irresponsible claims they have actually walked back tonight and admitted they aren`t true. We will have more on this ahead.

But the fight back from Republicans in Arizona who went along with this at first but recognize how dangerous and how bad this is, what it`s going to do not only to future elections in Arizona but potentially what`s going it going to do to future elections for the whole country, their fight back over the past 24 hours is like all of a sudden really loud and really angry. At times really eloquent.

It is something to behold, particularly for people who felt differently not all that long ago. And it`s interesting, that has been unfolding over the course of the last 24 hours, even as there was big news about the other one of these nonsense Trump election fraud fantasy quests that the Trump loyalist Republicans have been pursuing across the country. This includes that same super serious firm called the Cyber Ninjas that Arizona Republicans hired to run their recount clown show in Arizona. The Cyber Ninjas and this same cast of characters indulging this voter fraud fantasy thing.

In addition to them messing with the ballots and what they`re doing with the election results in Arizona, they have been pursuing a court case in Michigan, a county called Antrim County in the Michigan. And in the Michigan instance, they have also been alleging all these same bizarre conspiracies and fantasies about how Trump secretly won re-election even though it looks like he lost because something, something, bamboo something, something communism, Venezuela, Mike Flynn, buy my pillow, something, something.

They have been pursuing this in Arizona with the recount, which is now completely split the Republican Party, as half the party is like we`ve got to stop doing this and the Trump loyalists are persisting. In Michigan, today as Republicans in Arizona were throwing down the gauntlet demanding an end to the increasingly dangerous nonsense with Arizona`s ballots there, simultaneously today, the other place they are pursuing this in Michigan, today a judge in Antrim County, Michigan, threw out the Cyber Ninjas court case there.

So we`ve got a massive backlash, even within the Republican Party, as to what they`re trying to do in Arizona. The other place they have been looking to gin one of these up is in Michigan. Today, that was smacked down by a Michigan judge.

So we`ll have more on what`s going on there today. It does feel like a bit of a pivot point in terms of how far the Republican Party, at least in the states, is going to be able to indulge the Trump fantasy that he secretly somehow the president even though he lives at a golf club in Florida.

But speaking of Michigan, here`s a story today that`s a little something different for us, but I find this absolutely fascinating on like ten different levels. If you think about an American company that is a really big company, a company with a huge amount of revenue, a hugely successful retail enterprise, what do you think of? You might think of like Coca-Cola or Nike or McDonald`s or maybe even like a big credit card company like Visa.

Indeed, all of those big American companies make tens of billions of dollars every year in revenue. Huge companies with huge annual income. Not annual income, annual revenues in millions but in billions, in tens of billions.

Do you want to know what`s bigger than any of those, though? This. This truck. I don`t mean like the Ford Motor Company has more revenue than McDonald`s and Visa and Nike, it does, but that`s not what I mean. I mean literally just this truck.

Ford makes a lot of things. Ford makes cars, of course, and SUVs and crossovers. They just relaunched the Ford Bronco, which is super cute in its new iteration. They make transit vans and heavy duty commercial vehicles of all sorts and sizes.

They even make what`s basically a supercar. If that`s the wrong thing to call it, I am truly sorry. If you can just let me borrow your Ford GT for a day or ten, I swear I`ll learn all the proper terminology and get it back to you without a scratch.

But of all the things that ford makes, the thing that they make that alone pulls in more revenue than McDonald`s or Nike or Visa or Coca-Cola is the F-150 -- excuse me, the F series pickup truck. It`s the most popular vehicle in America. And it always is.

More Ford F series pickups, they`re full-size pickups, are sold, more of these vehicles are sold than any other vehicle in the country and that is true every year, year after year, decade after decade. And it`s never even close.

I mean the amount of revenue that just Ford full-sized pickups generate in sales every year is more than $42 billion a year. Just on that one vehicle alone, dwarfing all of those other American companies just with this one type of Ford truck.

So that`s -- like if that`s what you work on, if you`re part of the Ford F series truck manufacturing, marketing, sales process, if you work on that, it`s like, don`t screw that up. We make $42 billion a year on these vehicles. Nothing else in America comes anywhere close. And it has been that way for decades. Don`t screw it up.

Couple of years ago, 2019, Ford did a stunt with their flagship full-size pickup. It was in a rail yard in an undisclosed location. They put out a very slick video outlining what they did, but it showed ultimately one truck, one F-150 towing more than a million pounds.

And you see all these trucks, they`re sort of streaming by the front of your screen. That`s 42 Ford F-150s lined up nose to tail. They picked 42 of them because that represents 42 years that the Ford full-size pickup has been the best-selling vehicle in America, 42 of them nose to tail, those lined up to be about the same length as ten double-decker freight train train cars, and 10 double-decker freight train train cars weigh more than a million pounds.

And what they did in this stunt is they had their new truck, just one of them, their new ford, put on a tow strap and tow those ten double-decker freight train train cars. More than a million pounds of towing being towed by this one Ford f-150.

And then they upped the game. Then all of those 42 pickups, those new pickups that were lined up alongside the train cars, they actually drove them into the train cars. They drove those 42 trucks that they had brought, loaded them into the train cars so now this whole thing was that much heavier. But again, they had just that same truck, that one truck tow the ten train cars again. This time the train cars contained the other 42 pickup trucks inside them.

And, you know, stunt for ford. Nobody knows where this is going or what exactly this is they are demonstrating. This nice woman who`s driving apparently organizing the thing explains to the ford truck owners that they assembled for this stunt that, yeah, as she was driving, as she was doing this tow, she could feel the weight of the million plus pounds. But even with the 42 trucks loaded into the train cars, over 1.2 million pounds being towed by this one vehicle, it didn`t feel like too much of a strain, it was fine.

I mean truck ads -- for context here, a million pounds, 1.2 million pounds towing, is that a big deal? For context, truck ads at this point brag to the high heavens that their full size pickups can tow 10,000 pounds or 15,000 pounds.

Here a couple of years ago, Ford is unveiling something that can tow 1.2 million pounds. It doesn`t even make sense. It`s not even walking outside and you`re used to a blue sky and instead the sky is green. It`s like walking outside, you`re used to a blue sky, and instead the sky is food.

It`s like wrong noun. Something here is different. A pickup truck towing over a million pounds? That doesn`t even compute. It just seems like a typo.

That was 2019 from Ford. And the big reveal from that stunt was that the magic truck that was able to do the million-pound plus towing was an electric truck. It was the prototype of ford`s new electric F-150. It`s electric and it can do that? No, it can do that because it`s electric.

Here`s the thing. Whether or not you care about pickup trucks, whether or not you care about cars, whether or not you care about electric cars, even whether or not climate and energy are things that keep you up at night, or not, if the Ford F-150 becomes an electric vehicle, if Ford can transition that particular vehicle to electric, because as an electric vehicle it`s better, good-bye gas cars in America.

There isn`t a single thing that could be done in this country to move us further and faster toward a no gas automotive future and everything that means for infrastructure and climate and all the rest of it. There`s nothing that could move us further and faster toward that than this one vehicle, this specific vehicle, not only having an electric option but actually being better as an electric vehicle than it is as a gas one. Being more capable as an electric vehicle than it is as a gas one.

Because pickup truck owners in this country, and there are gazillions of them, want their vehicles to be better and more productive and they want them to look cool. F-150s recently changed from steel bodies to aluminum bodies. When they made that change, everybody said, oh, truck owners are going to think that was prissy and this was going to be a big mistake by Ford. Truck owners weren`t going to like that. Aluminum seems like a wussy material.

It actually turns out, trucks made with aluminum bodies than steel bodies can do more capable. They can do more with that change of materials with really no downside, that made any difference in anybody`s life.

F-150s recently shifted from their most popular engine being a big V-8 to instead being a boosted V-6. Not because F-150 owners got any greener in their sensibilities, but because the smaller engine turned out to be better. It was better. The eco-boost V-6, more hauling capability, more towing capability and, yeah, it uses less gas.

But even if you don`t care about that, the point was still it was better. More power, faster, more capable, an improvement. So, yeah, everybody wants the better option. Everybody wants the better vehicle. Everybody`s wants the better engine. Everybody wants the better body.

Ford did recently start offering a hybrid truck. Do Ford f-150 owners want a hybrid? I don`t know, maybe some do. You know what truck owners do want? They want to be able to do stuff that they couldn`t do before or needed expensive other equipment to be able to do.

I don`t know what Ford F-150 owners and potential customers think about the hybrid in the abstract, but you know what people really liked and turned out really wanted was the freaking generator that came wired into that truck, into the bed of the truck. What Ford did they figured out a way to use the technology in that truck to put a generator in it that you can plug stuff into. There`s plugs like you`d have in your house right next to the tailgate.

Do you want in the abstract the latest technology in your gigantic multi thousand pound work vehicle? No, not in the abstract. But if you live in Texas and the power goes out for days because it got cold and Texas` power grid can`t operate in the cold, being able to back your truck up to the front of the house so you can run extension cords in it and keep stuff plugged in, yeah, turns out people want that.

Not necessarily because it comes in an eco-conscious package but because that`s cool. That`s really useful. That`s better than not having that.

Mass consumer adoption of a better product, when that product is already outselling everything else in its class by a mile for decades, that`s the kind of change that instantly renders everything else obsolete.

Now, I`m a little reluctant to talk about this on TV because I am a car person, which means I don`t necessarily have a good sense as to how much appetite anybody else has to hear about these things. I`m a car person. I`m on my second Ford F-150. I have two other Ford trucks before those.

For everything that`s different between Susan and I, part of the reason we got together is because we`re both car people. When I met Susan, she had straight six carbureted CJ with her initials in gold leaf on the door. I was like, oh, my God, I think I`m dead. I just met you and seriously, that`s yours?

Like I`m dead. My life as I knew it before is over. Please, can I meet your car?

That was her car. That was her Jeep. I set it on fire many times squirting starter fluid into it under the hood while she tried to turn over the engine. Being a car person doesn`t necessarily mean that you`re mechanically-minded.

But, you know, whether you`re good with a carburetor, you`re either into cars or you`re not. It`s fine either way. But as a news matter, whether you`re into it or you aren`t, it is worth knowing that right now, the single most important leap forward our country could make toward becoming an electric car country is for this one specific vehicle, the best-selling country -- the best selling car in the country by a mile, for decades, the Ford F-150 to become an electric vehicle. For it to become an electric vehicle because the electric version of it is better than what it was when it was only offered as gas.

The most important thing, the most important single change that our country could make fast would be for that change to happen. No pressure, right, if you`re involved with making the F-150. But we`re about to find out if we`re there.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My name is Joe Biden and I`m a car guy. And I wanted to be here today, the day before you unveil the next generation of America`s best-selling vehicle to the entire world to thank you. Thank you for showing how we win the competition of the 21st century. You know, how the future is going to be made, how it`s going to be made here in America. Made in America.


You know, I just got a tour of a ground-breaking electric vehicle center here along with UAW workers. They showed me the technology they`re using to build this first-ever fully electric F-150. I was able to sit in it. Quite frankly, they let me see it so I apologize to you that won`t see it until tomorrow, but man, you`re going to like it.

And I`d sure like to drive it. I wonder whether or not I can lose the Secret Service and go out to the track. But y`all think I`m kidding, don`t you? The press knows I`m not.


MADDOW: He did actually take it out and rip it around the track at his trip today in Dearborn. They have all that cladding around the vehicle. It looks like a weird paint job on it. That`s to disguise the shape of the vehicle. Obviously, you can see the basic shape of it but that`s so you can`t see too much detail. It`s supposed to be optical illusion so you can`t make out exactly what it looks like and that`s because it hasn`t been properly unveiled. It`s going to be unveiled tomorrow at 9:30 p.m. Eastern in what`s probably the most anticipated car launch in -- well, since I`ve been a car person.

President Biden did give away some of the specs. We did get to see him driving it around. He said to reporters he thought he could do 0 to 60 in 4.3 seconds. A full-size crew pickup. Those are very fast numbers. It didn`t sound like that was right until he took off like the truck was fired out of a gun.

That all happened ahead of the formal revealing of this truck tomorrow night.

Linda Zhang came to this country in third grade. "Detroit Free Press" just did a profile on her that explained a little of her backstory. She came here at 8 age, speaking zero English. She learned the first part of the alphabet, ABCDEFGH, the first eight letters of the alphabet on the plane on the way over to America but that was her entire knowledge of English by the time she landed.

She learned quickly. By the end of her family`s first year here, she was fluent in English. Started to do great in school. She and her family were from China. Her dad had come over to be a grad student at Purdue in Indiana and that`s how she and her family moved here when she was 8 years old.

Her dad was an engineer. Mom was an engineer too. Ultimately, Linda became an engineer as well. Degrees in electrical engineer, degrees in computer engineering. She got those advanced degrees while working at Ford. Ms. Zhang started there when she was 19. She`s now in her 40s.

And the woman who you saw driving in the towing a million pounds stunt with all the rail cars with the truck stuff inside the rail cars with the first prototype of the Ford F-150, that`s here, that`s Linda Zhang. And the reason he`s in all of these videos, including the big reveal about how much it can tow, the reason she`s on this because she is the chief engineer in charge of the electric Ford F-150. She`s the chief engineer for the vehicle that can do more to change the history of the combustion engine than anything else since the invention of the internal combustion engine.

If what she has done works, and crucially if it is better than what has come before it, if what Ford has done is build a Ford F-150 that is all electric, that is better than Ford F-150s that are powered by gas or diesel, this will change the game. This will change the climate literally. This will change America`s relationship to the internal combustion engine faster than anything else could. That one vehicle would make that big a difference.

Linda Zhang`s labor of love with her team at Ford could be one of those turning point inventions that catapults us forward technologically not in an incremental way but really all at once.

Joining us now is Linda Zhang. She`s the chief engineer behind the new all- electric Ford F-150.

Ms. Zhang, it`s a real honor to meet you. Thanks for being with us.

LINDA ZHANG, ELECTRIC FORD F-150 CHIEF ENGINEER: Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: No pressure on you the way that I`m describing this, I know. And I know there`s a lot of details that you can`t get into until the truck officially launches tomorrow night. But bottom line, I think there`s a gazillion Americans who have gas-powered trucks and like their gas-powered trucks. There`s a reason Ford F Series is the most popular for decades running.

What`s your pitch to them? Why switch to the new one instead?

ZHANG: Well, in a way, the F-150 Lightning is an inflection point for not only the company as we electrify some of our most best-selling trucks but also for the country as we`re basically entering a bit of a transition to be able to get to an EV adoption. And this truck not only provides our customers with the reliability and durability that they need but also productivity and functionality along with a lot of new tools that we provide with the use of electrification, whether it`s powering up your home as a backup generator or power on the go to be able to light up an entire campsite or work site.

MADDOW: I know that you`ve been working at ford since you were 19 years old. You`ve had your whole career there. Being the chief engineer on this vehicle is a really key role for a key inflection point both for the company and the country. How much does Ford need to reinvent itself to be able to produce the electric version of this truck?

I know that a lot of people when they got a glimpse of it behind the president today at his event, they thought, wow, that really looks like an F-150, it doesn`t look like some futuristic rebadged totally different thing that`s designed to scream that it`s an electric thing but it`s got to be such a different process to make something like this. It`s got to be a reinvention for the company in its capacity as well.

ZHANG: Yes, in a way. So we leverage a lot of the really great elements about the truck. And what our customers love about the truck. So whether it`s the Super Crew Cab with the five passenger seats or the full 5 1/2 inch box, those are some of the things that we carry over because we know that our customers need that.

But in addition to that, we do take a look at all of the electrification bits and get it to the point that it does do the job, whether it`s durability or reliability or productivity, making sure that it functions the way that our customers would expect and actually in a way exceeding some of those expectations as well.

As you saw in some of the videos with President Biden, the performance of the vehicle is just amazing. It`s exhilarating and his ability to take off and get that fastest acceleration of any truck is so much fun.

MADDOW: I have to ask you, as chief engineer, I know from reading some of what I`ve read about the production process for this vehicle that one of the things that you have permanently helmed is sort of torturing the truck, putting it through everything from minus 40 degrees to 120 degrees temperatures, insane grades and saltwater baths and caustic materials and putting it through everything the proving ground has to offer.

It sounds terrible from the point of view of the truck being treated that way but I imagine being the person in charge of that some of that was kind of fun. Was there anything that you particularly enjoyed or thought was cool about trying to put it through its paces?

ZHANG: Oh, definitely. So with nearly century of truck know-how, we know that durability and reliability is really important for our customers, so we put the F-150 Lightning through the same grueling engineering and testing regimen as we do all of the F Series. And with that, that includes a lot of the tests that you mentioned. Whether it`s up power hill or over a creek, some of those routes are so tough that we actually have robots to drive them. So, really getting the truck to be the best product for our customer so they can depend on it to get their job done.

MADDOW: Linda Zhang, chief engineer behind the all new electric Ford F-150 which will be formally revealed in 24 hours, which I really believe could be the biggest leap forward. If it takes off, it will be the biggest leap forward we will have as a country in terms of moving away from internal combustion engines.

Good luck. I imagine you won`t sleep much in the next 24 hours, but thank you for taking the time to be with us tonight.

ZHANG: Thanks so much for having me.

MADDOW: All right. We have much more to get to tonight, stay with us. Appreciate it.


MADDOW: You may have heard over the weekend that former President Donald Trump and his supporters got very excited because the so-called audit of the 2020 presidential election in Arizona had finally found a smoking gun. They said they found the evidence that the presidential election was tampered with somehow and maybe this was the proof that Donald Trump really didn`t lose Arizona and, therefore, he didn`t really lose the election and, therefore, secretly he`s still president and all will be revealed.

Former President Trump rushed out a statement about it, saying, quote, the entire database of Maricopa County in Arizona has been all caps deleted. This is illegal, and the Arizona state senate, who is leading the forensic audit, is up in arms.

Yes, the Republicans who run the Arizona state Senate did seize more than 2 million ballots from Arizona`s largest county. They did hand them over to a firm called Cyber Ninjas to recount the whole presidential election. They were up in arms -- it`s true -- just like Donald Trump said.

And so, today, they announced that they would be holding a hearing with the QAnon conspiracy theory promoter who runs Cyber Ninjas and the other folks they have running this so-called audit. They said they would hold this hearing to get to the bottom of this scandal, to tell America what`s going on with the smoking gun deleted database.

But then at the hearing today, the geniuses running the audit actually had to admit, sorry, we do actually have the database. It was not deleted. We misunderstood. Never mind.

Election auditors say they have the data that they accused Maricopa County of deleting. We have that. You said you threw it -- we have it. All right.

That whole thing the former president was yelling about, the election crime he had discovered that would undo the 2020 election and put him back in the White House, never mind that didn`t happen, oops.

But something about this latest debacle involving the clown show Arizona audit, this messing with the presidential election results in Arizona, seems to have broken something in a bunch of Arizona Republicans or maybe broken something open among Republicans who had previously supported this so-called audit or who had at least stayed grudgingly silent about it. The recently elected Republican Maricopa County recorder, the election administrator, he was just elected in November. He defeated the Democratic incumbent and became the new county recorder.

Because he was just elected in November, that means he had literally nothing to do with administering the election in November. He just took office this year after he himself was elected in that election. He has said publicly he had no interest in getting involved in this clown show fight over what happened in the November election. He was clearly hoping just to sit it out and let it blow over.

But it`s not blowing over. And when former President Trump put out his statement this weekend Trumpeting the deletion of Maricopa County`s voter database and that being a huge crime, Maricopa County`s Republican election administrator decided that he had finally had enough, that he could no longer sit by and hope this all went away.

He said, quote, wow. This is unhinge -- talking about President Trump`s statement. I`m literally looking at our voter registration database on my other screen right now. He said we can`t indulge these insane lies any longer, as a party, as a state, as a country. This is as readily falsifiable as two plus two equals five. If we don`t call this out, dot, dot, dot, and he just left it there at the ellipses.

I mean, on the one hand, Republicans in Arizona now appear now to be standing up in some numbers and calling this stuff out and it seems like they`re mostly doing it because they recognize that they`re starting to look foolish. For example, you could hear the exasperation in the voice of that Republican Maricopa County elections administration when he appeared before the board of supervisors in the county yesterday and recited the litany of insanity that he even he has been subjected to in his few short months in office.


STEPHEN RICHER (R), MARICOPA COUNTY RECORDER: I have been accused of inserting fake ballots delivered from a South Korean plane. More recently I have been accused of deleting entire databases even though I participated in the transference of all databases to the Senate, have seen them with my own eyes and even though I still have access to the current fully functional voting database. It is enough.

Supervisor Hickman has even been accused of feeding ballots to hundreds of thousands of chickens at his farm and then purposefully incinerating them.


MADDOW: Incinerating the chickens to cover up the evidence that the chickens ate the ballots because you wouldn`t just incinerate the ballots. You`d want them to pass through a chicken first and then you`ve got to get rid of the chicken, see? Come on. Don`t think we don`t know how to play this game without a chicken in the middle of the incineration process. It could all be reverse engineered and then Joe Biden would be president.

Even one Republican state senator who voted for this audit now tells "The New York Times," quote, it makes us look like idiots. Looking back, I didn`t think it would be this ridiculous. It`s embarrassing to be a state senator at this point.

The Maricopa County board of supervisors, it`s a five-member board. Four of the five are Republicans. Today, they refused an invitation from the state Senate president to attend that hearing they held today with the conspiracy theorist they hired to run this supposed audit.

The supervisors instead wrote to the Republican president of the state Senate and this is what they said. Quote: You have rented out the once good name of the Arizona state Senate to grifters and con-artists who are fund- raising hard-earned money from our fellow citizens even as your contractors parade around the coliseum, hunting for bamboo and something they called kinematic artifacts while shining purple lights for effect.

None of these things are done in a serious audit. The result is that the Arizona Senate is held up to ridicule in every corner of the globe and our democracy is imperiled.

And our democracy is imperiled.

This split in the Arizona Republican Party that`s spilling out into the open this week seems to have risen in part because of Republicans` concern about them becoming a laughingstock, yes. But they`re also making the point now that as much as people are laughing at them about this and as bad as that is, this also has serious consequences, not just how Americans think in the abstract about our democracy, you know, about if elections are real things that we should use that have verifiable outcomes and that`s how we make political decisions in this country.

Even beyond that big picture, just looking in the short term and locally, Arizona Republicans are now saying, hey, when we next have an election in this state in 2022, by doing this, by indulging every conspiracy and fantasy about supposed election fraud that we can conjure from the ether and treating it all like it`s equally serious and all must be tracked down, by doing this we are on track to have an electorate that doesn`t believe in the results of the next election. At least that doesn`t believe the results of the next election.


BILL GATES (R), MARICOPA COUNTY SUPERVISOR: We certified the election back in November. But now it`s time to say enough is enough. It is time to push back on the big lie.

We must do this. We must do this as a member of the Republican Party. We must do this as a member of the board of supervisors. We need to do this as a country. Otherwise we are not going to be able to move forward and have an election in 2022 that we can all believe the results, whatever they may be.


MADDOW: One of the Republicans on the Maricopa County board of supervisors, as they all in unison demand that Republicans in the state legislature stop messing with the election results. Stop their supposed audit, their supposed recount of the presidential election results that is apparently going to stretch out through the summer as they put President Trump`s election fraud fantasies under the spotlight.

One of his colleagues on the Maricopa County board of supervisors is going to join us live here next.

Stay with us.



STEVE GALLARDO (D), MARICOPA COUNTY, AZ BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: The fact is this, folks: the election wasn`t in question until a couple of days after the final vote count. That`s when all of a sudden, whoa, there might be a problem. We don`t like who won the election so let`s call into question.

Let`s start rumors and unfounded statements and conspiracies. Let`s throw these out there. Let`s do everything we can to undermine the will of the voter, undermine our democracy. Let`s do everything we can.

No one thought it would last this long. 195 days and we`re still talking about it, six months later. I don`t see this ending, Mr. Chairman, unfortunately. You have some folks right now that are in control of the Arizona State Senate and it is not elected members of the body. These are outside forces that control the Senate. And President Pham does not have the political courage and wisdom to be able to stop it.


MADDOW: Steve Gallardo, a member of the board of supervisors in Arizona, he is the lone Democrat on a five-member board that has come to the end of its patience. That is now angrily demanding that the Republicans in the State Senate that have been conducting this election fraud fantasy audit of Arizona`s presidential election results, they are demanding that they call it off once and for all before any more damage is done.

Mr. Gallardo, thank you for being here tonight. It`s a real pleasure to have you with us.

GALLARDO: Thank you for having me.

MADDOW: Let me ask what you meant at the end of those remarks that I just played. You said there are outside forces controlling the Senate. The folks that are right now in control of the Arizona Senate, it`s not elected members of that body. These are outside forces that control the Senate and the Senate president doesn`t have the political courage and wisdom to be able to stop it.

What do you mean by those outside forces?

GALLARDO: You have organizations, you have Trump loyalists, they are doing everything they can to undermine our democracy, undermine the will of the voters in the state of Arizona. There`s nothing that we can do to try to convince these folks that the election was safe, secure and accurate.

They have taken control of the Arizona State Senate. They have now forced them to continue this sham audit. They had a sham hearing earlier today.

These outside forces are raising money off this audit. They`re raising money to be able to continue to push the big lie, and they`re also using this particular audit to push legislation. Voter suppression legislation, that`s what they`re doing.

This is what it`s all about. It`s about continuing the big lie, it`s about raising money, and it`s about using this to push legislation that will hurt the ability for minorities and elderly and poor people from voting. That`s what this is all about.

MADDOW: I feel like you have been a loud voice against this from the very beginning, talking about the danger of this, the ridiculousness of this, the real damage that could be done by this and how it would be used in this way as you just described.

What it feels like is new is in the last few days, so many Republicans in Arizona, including fellow Republicans on the board with you in Maricopa County are now basically saying, yeah, we`re with you. We`re with Supervisor Gallardo on this. This has to end, this is dangerous, we need to call a stop to this, it`s gone too far and doing too much damage.

What sort of turned it on for Republicans? What changed their minds and made them see it the way they now seem to?

GALLARDO: Enough is enough. The fact is that we received a letter from the Arizona State Senate accusing us of committing crimes here in the state of Arizona and in Maricopa County. They have called for us to be arrested.

Enough is enough. I believe that many of the Republicans there in Maricopa County have said this is enough. We`re not going to continue to stand on the sidelines and be quiet. We`re going to speak out.

And that`s what you`re seeing. You`re seeing members not only on my board but countywide elected Republican officials. You`re seeing Senate Republicans that are now stepping up and saying enough is enough.

The fact is that they have done more damage to our democracy, the credibility of our election system over the last six months than ever before. And it`s time for elected officials to stand up and say enough is enough, knock it off, stop this ridiculous sham audit.

And for those that want to sit on our sidelines, our governor, Governor Ducey, wants to sit on the sidelines, doesn`t want to upset Trump and the Trump loyalists, enough is enough. He needs to step up.

The attorney general who wants to run for governor, he needs to step up. No more standing on the sideline. Anyone who is wanting to run office in 2022 needs to pick a side. Are you on the side of conspiracy theorists and con artists or are you on the side of democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law? You have to pick a side.

No more standing quiet on the sidelines. If you want to run for public office, you need to let the voters of the state of Arizona and Maricopa County know exactly which side you are on.

That is question number one in the 2022 election. We need to stop this ridiculous sham audit. We need to restore our confidence in our democracy, and the only way we can do that is by telling the voters the truth. Our election was safe, secure and accurate.

MADDOW: Steve Gallardo is our guest. He`s the only Democratic member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors which is now locked in combat over the Trump fantasy election fraud scam audit that`s happening in that state -- Mr. Supervisor, would you mind holdings on holding on, I have another question I need to ask you about how you think this will resolve. Can you stick with us for just a moment?

GALLARDO: Definitely.

MADDOW: All right, we`ll be right back with Steve Gallardo right after this. Stay with us.


MADDOW: It is my nominee headline of the today, in "The Arizona Republic". Election auditors say they have the data that Maricopa County officials were accused of deleting. Put in the passive voice there, but what they mean is the election auditors who accused of Maricopa County of deleting data admit they have all the data all along.

Back with us is Steve Gallardo. He`s a member of the Maricopa County, Arizona Board of Supervisors.

We have been talking about the new rift that appears to have opened in the Republican Party as more Republicans in the state start to see that recount, that audit of Arizona`s p[residential election results as a toxic and dangerous thing.

Mr. Gallardo, I wanted to ask you -- with things like that collapsing, this public allegation that the board of election had been involved in some sort of election fraud subterfuge and deleted this data, former President Trump jumping on that and calling it the crime of the century and saying that it revealed the fraud behind the election and then today them quietly admitting oh, actually, they didn`t delete anything, we had it all along, sorry, our bad. Does that -- does that get us any closer to the end of this?

Is that sort of embarrassment the way this thing is going forward getting us any closer to the end?

GALLARDO: You bet. The Arizona state Senate has made a mockery of this whole process. They have hired consultants that have no clue.

The Cyber Ninjas are a cyber disaster. They have no credibility. They have no experience. They have no idea what they`re doing.

And this is the case point, period. The fact is the claim that we have deleted files when they had them all along.

They have no experience in the election audits. They have no experience on the technology, or the conduct of an election. And they are there just throwing around the coliseum here, looking for bamboo fibers.

It`s unfortunate that Arizona is once again in the spotlight, embarrassing. All because a group of Arizona state senators do not have the political courage to tell the Trump loyalists the truth, that Trump lost the state of Arizona and our elections were safe, secure and accurate.

But first and foremost, we need to fire these consultants. We need to put an end to the madness and go back to rebuilding the confidence and trust that our elections have had for many, many years.

We have a solid election procedural manual. We have a solid election process. The federal government has claimed that our elections are the most secure elections in the country.

Yet the Trump loyalists refuse to accept the fact that their candidate lost the election. At the expense of our democracy, they are willing to throw everything away to try to find something that doesn`t exist. We need to put an end to this audit now.

MADDOW: Steve Gallardo, the lone Democratic member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, I really appreciate you making time tonight. It does feel like the sand is shifting under your feet right now in terms of how this is going to end. Keep us apprise, we`d love to have you back, sir. Thank you.

GALLARDO: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got more ahead. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: That`s pretty much do it for us tonight. Before we go, I just want to tell you one little piece of developing news, this is not something that we at MSNBC or NBC News has confirmed. But CNN has just reported within the last few minutes on a statement they say they received from the New York attorney general.

As you, know, the former President Trump is making history as the only former president to have ever been known to be under criminal investigation. He`s under criminal investigation by state prosecutors and New York and also in the state of Georgia. He is also, his business interests are known to be under civil investigation by the New York attorney generals office.

Well, again, per CNN tonight, they say they`ve received a statement from the New York attorney general office saying this: We`ve informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan D.A. The New York state prosecutor who is already known to be investigating them in criminal terms.

Again, that is not been confirmed right now by MSNBC but that is CNN`s reporting. If so, that remarks yet another historic benchmark in what is turning in to be a historic, in a bad way, post-presidency for the former president.

That will do it for us now. See you again tomorrow night.

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

Good evening, Lawrence.