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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 6/15/21

Guests: Katie Benner, Jodi Kantor


The Trump White House and the president were pressuring the Justice Department officials to support his false claims of election fraud. A "New York Times" report exposes unfair and unsafe conditions at Amazon.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Nikole Hannah-Jones, thanks for making time tonight. I really appreciate it.

That is ALL IN on this Tuesday 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. Happy to have you here.

As President Biden prepares for his big summit tomorrow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, it`s been a white knuckle day for democracy back here at home. In a congressional hearing today on the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, there was no explanation, none, for why the National Guard stood down for hours while the Capitol was over run that day by a huge violent mob of Trump supporters. The oversight committee in the House has documented 12 different requests to the Pentagon that day, trying to get help from the National Guard, 12 different requests while the attack was under way.

Five different times, the National Guard was told that they needed to standby and be ready to maybe do something. But it was close to five hours before any National Guard troops were sent to the Capitol. At which point, the Capitol was well and truly overrun.

Today, one of the Pentagon officials who couldn`t explain that delay in dispatching the guard on January 6, one of the officials who couldn`t explain it, never the less testified about it was a General Charles Flynn. General Charles Flynn is the younger brother of Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who, of course, called on Trump supporters to come to the Capitol on January 6, who publicly called on Trump to declare martial law and have the military take over the country and rerun the election and swing states where Trump lost.

Michael Flynn`s brother Charlie on January 6th was the deputy chief of staff of the United States Army, which he described essentially being the COO, the chief operating office of the United States Army. After the attack happened on January 6, when hard questions started to be asked about why the National Guard wasn`t there, why the National Guard took so long to get there, why request after request produced no help for hours and hours.

When hard questions first started to be asked about what happened there, the Pentagon initially made false public statements saying that General Charles Flynn, Mike Flynn`s young brother, had nothing to do with fielding any of the requests for help, or taking part in any of decision making about whether the National Guard could actually be deployed to help save the Capitol.

Those were false denials from the Army that Charlie Flynn was involved. Today, General Flynn explained to the House Oversight Committee that he was involved in those decisions and in that planning, even though he didn`t have answers for what went so wrong and why it took five hours to get there.

We still don`t know why the Pentagon lied initially about General Charles Flynn and said he wasn`t involved in those decisions. We also still don`t know why the Pentagon sat on its hands for hours instead of sending anyone to help, even though they very well knew exactly what was going on and directly fielding panicked calls from lawmakers asking for help.

We also don`t know whether General Charles Flynn and his brother Mike Flynn were in communication at all about anything on that day of the attack, or anything in the lead up to the attack. We don`t know that at all.

So, that`s very unsettling. General Charles Flynn has since been put in charge of all U.S. Army Forces in the Pacific, while his brother Mike is currently touring the country. Appearing at events marketed to adherence of the QAnon conspiracy theory, telling them there really ought to be military coup in this country to reinstall Trump in power, propounding the fantasy to his followers that Trump will be put back in as president sometime this year, because the result of the election shouldn`t count and won`t count much longer.

That`s one brother while the other is running the U.S. Army in the Pacific Region. After being part of whatever decision making process went so wrong at the Pentagon on January 6, that resulted in there being no help from the National Guard to save the Capitol for hours, while it was being over run by supporters of the General Charlie Flynn`s brother Mike, and then President Trump.

Like I said, kind of a white knuckle day today for democracy here at home. Simultaneously today FBI issued a warning to lawmakers that adherence to the QAnon conspiracy theory may soon get more serious about trying to physically harm Democrats and others who they see as enemies. We assess that some violent extremists adherence of QAnon likely will begin to believe they have an obligation to change serving digital soldiers toward engaging in real world violence, including harming perceived members of the cabal, such as Democrats and other political opposition, instead of continually waiting Q`s promised action, which have not occurred.

So simultaneously now we`re getting that warning from the FBI and we`ve got a local press in Arizona, "The Arizona Republic" warning that QAnon adherents in Arizona and around the country have a new focus, a new obsession which is the so-called audit in Arizona where Republicans in the legislature there have taken most of the states ballots in voting machines and given them to Trump supporters who have promoted all the stupidest and wildest claims about the election somehow being invalid.

I mean, these things coming together is unsettling. The FBI already considers QAnon to be a domestic terrorist threat. They are now warning that QAnon folks are likely to move into serious violence to try to start physically harming people they see as their enemies and those are the folks that have effectively been given the ballots and voting machines in Arizona so they can tell us what went wrong in the presidential election.

"The Washington Post" reporting today that whatever it is they are doing with the ballots in the voting machines in Arizona appears to be almost done, which means they`ll soon be saying publicly whatever it is they`re going to say about the presidential election result last year in Arizona. Presumably, they`re going to call for decertifying the Arizona result which is not a thing. They`re going to say that there was something so wrong in Arizona that if the election can`t count or maybe they`ll just say that they found so much wrong that they can`t explain it all, but the election result just can`t be trusted. Maybe they`ll say the election should be re- run in Arizona which is also not nothing.

But today, we learned that when President Trump was still president after the election he tried to force that to happen. House Oversight Committee today released a couple hundred pages of emails that they had tantrum the Justice Department showing us way more than we previously knew about how Trump tried to use the power of the presidency, the power of the federal government to stay in power despite losing the election.

So, I mean, this is a striking thing, there it is in black and white. Trump had a legal brief sent to the Justice Department on December 29th, 2020. He told the Justice Department that they should file this brief with the United States Supreme Court about how the presidential election was invalid.

The brief ends with this, Pray for relief: Wherefore, the United States, meaning the should be done on behalf of the Justice Department, on behalf of the people of the United States, wherefore, the United States respectfully requests that this court issued the following relief. Declared that the Electoral College votes cast by such presidential electors appointed independent states, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Nevada cannot be counted. Enjoin defendant states use of the 2020 election results to appoint presidential electors to the Electoral College.

Then the brief actually just says that part again, just repeats it verbatim.

Like I said, Trump`s exactly wrap himself up in the best lawyering. They just repeats the same phrase.

Enjoin defendant states` use of the 2020 election results to appoint presidential electors to the Electoral College and authorized the defendant states to conduct a special election to appoint presidential electors.

That`s what they were telling. He wanted the Justice Department to tell the Supreme Court to do that. So that was sent December 29th. Trump had that brief sent over to the U.S. Department of Justice, telling them they needed to file this with the Supreme Court. So the U.S. government would be asking for all the presidential election results to be thrown out in all the swing states that Trump lost. The electoral votes should be counted in the Supreme Court should somehow order new elections for the president in all of those states.

Forty-four states, you can keep your election results but the six we`re going to redo it, right?

And, you know, I guess, maybe either the military, right? Per Mike Flynn, would order the re-running of the election in the swing states that Trump lost or the Supreme Court would do it for the Justice Department brief that Trump wanted filed on his behalf. This brief that he wanted the Justice Department to file on his behalf.

But either way, the idea was to re-run the parts of the election that Trump lost. The actual election results wouldn`t be allowed. There have to be new elections in the swing states he lost. That was the plan.

And these emails just released today between the Trump White House and the Justice Department, they are shocking to see. They`re being billed as more evidence of exactly how Trump in the White House were pressuring the Justice Department to try to force the overturning of the election results to keep Trump in power even though he lost and they are that. They tell us more about the White House was asking for.

But what they also are and again unsettling. These new records we got today, they`re also a detailed record of Justice Department officials, not only receiving, right? Not only entertaining this crazy stuff from the White House but Justice Department officials acted on it.

They took in this caterwauling crazy nonsense from Trump, from the Trump White House, but then they actually pushed it out to federal prosecutors, two U.S. attorneys to reliving U.S. states. I mean, it is one thing to be sort of the victim, right? To be on the receiving end of White House pressure on stuff like this. It`s another thing entirely to receive that pressure and decide not that you are going to absorb it and shield the rest of the government and the Justice Department just sort of inappropriate pressure, it`s another thing entirely to not decide that you`re going to absorb it instead for you to pass it onto your subordinates to act on it? Because that`s the White House wanted?

I mean, this would be like in the news business if somebody in politics was pressuring executives at MSNBC that I needed to cover something differently than I did. The right thing to do in that circumstance is for the executive to handle it him or herself, right? To either tell the person to buzz off or to say, yeah, yeah whatever, but absorb it. The important part is to never tell me, to never actually pass on the actual pressure. So some outside persons` efforts to affect our editorial freedom, our journalistic freedom, they aren`t effective.

But if that executive turned around and said, hey, Maddow, I heard from blanketty blank and they really want you to do this differently, first of all, I would quit. But second of all, I would know that person isn`t doing their job.

That`s what happened at the Trump Justice Department. Trump leaned on senior officials of the Justice Department to act on this crazy stuff and they didn`t just sit on it. They passed -- they fielded it out to actual federal prosecutors, two U.S. attorneys. And they did it a bunch of times.

And this, to me, seems like more of the shocking part of this story and certainly the more urgent matter from the current Justice Department under Merrick Garland to act on, to investigate, to get to the bottom of, to clean up, and to make sure it never happens again.

But look, we`ve got all in black and white now. Here`s December 14th. December 14th 2020, and look at the time stamp on this. The time stamp here is 4:57 p.m. Subject: from POTUS.

And then it`s got an attachment to it that it`s this nonsense conspiracy stuff about Michigan. It`s a cover-up of voting crimes, laws have been capital B broken. A capital C cover-up is capital H happening regarding the voting machines in Michigan. This is a seditious conspiracy theory. Michigan cannot certify for Biden.

This is like a flyer you`d find in a bathroom somewhere that would make you decide to quietly leave that place and not come back.

But the president of the United States sent this to a top Justice Department official on December 14th at 4:57 p.m. And then what happened to it? Two minutes later, for 4:59 p.m., the principal deputy to that Justice Department official forwarded that attachment, the crazy Michigan stuff to the actual top federal prosecutors in Michigan.

This is sent to the U.S. attorney from the Eastern District of Michigan and the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan, from the principal associate deputy attorney general. See attachments per Rich Donahue.

The senior level official at the Justice Department sending this, forward this stuff out to the actual federal prosecutors in that state again, being on the receiving end of crazy stuff is not something you can be blamed for. Sending it on from the top offices at Main Justice down to federal prosecutors in that state, that is another matter altogether. That is a serious problem at the Justice Department. Is that being fixed?

Less than an hour after those two Justice Department officials, one of them receives or from the White House, the other one two minutes later sends it on to those Michigan U.S. attorneys. Less than an hour after that happened, Trump announced that those two officials were being promoted to new jobs. They became the acting attorney general of the United States and the acting deputy attorney general of the United States.

Congratulations, gentlemen, how are we doing with my Michigan conspiracy? Yeah, we fielded that out to the Michigan U.S. attorney. The U.S. attorney`s boss now. Yeah, good, you`ve got these new jobs now.

They happened in Pennsylvania as well. Moonbat allegations about the election about the election being invalided in Pennsylvania. This top Justice Department official sent it out to the top federal prosecutor in Western Pennsylvania, the U.S. attorney there.

On January 1st, Trump`s White House chief of staff told the then-attorney general that he needed to have another Justice Department official look into nonsense, moonbat claims about the Georgia election being somehow invalid. How did the then attorney general respond? Well, he sent that other official, in fact, the cell phone number of the U.S. attorney, the top federal prosecutor on Georgia.

That U.S. attorney gets called. We don`t exactly know what happens in those calls but within two days, that same official whoa also rang the bell of the U.S. attorneys in Michigan and Pennsylvania, he is on the phone with that U.S. attorney in Georgia and then sending that U.S. attorney in Georgia a "thank you" for his resignation.

What did he resign over? What did he asked to do that he resigned instead of doing it?

I mean, what we`ve got now isn`t just a record of Trump and his White House chief of staff trying to use the Justice Department to overturn the election and keep Trump in power. It is the record of the Justice Department like whining about it a little bit, but going along with it, too, which is way worse.

The Oversight Committee says they want testimony from all these officials. That seems like a start.

Joining us now is Katie Benner. She covers the Justice Department for the "New York Times." She`s been way ahead of everybody else reporting on Trump`s post-election attempts to pressure the Justice Department. She was first to report on these documents from the Oversight Committee today.

Katie, it is nice to see you. Thanks for making time.


MADDOW: I feel like a lot of the attention today has focused on the new information that these documents gave us about how the Trump White House and the president were pressuring the Justice Department. There`s also been some attention to the fact that Justice Department officials sort of complained among themselves as to what the Trump White House was asking them to look at and asking them to do.

I feel like there has been less of attention to the fact that this stuff was farmed out to U.S. attorneys. I wonder if you had any perspective on that given what you know about the Justice Department?

BENNER: Sure. I mean, I think what we saw on the last few weeks before the January 6th attack, you saw officials basically tacitly agreeing with one another that they would not do anything. They would take in material, they would forward it along.

It was almost like a wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Everybody knew that nobody was going to open an investigation or appoint a special counsel. But they`re trying to placate the president.

Now, the most generous read about this and what I`ve heard from sources is that people really felt like they needed to stay in their places because if they were get fired or if they were pushed out, they would be replaced by at that point, who knew? There were real concerns that it could be like a Rudy Giuliani figure who would do, you know, things for the Justice Department that should never be done.

So, that is one read of it, and another is that we saw four years of the Justice Department being attacked by the president. We saw him publicly pressuring officials and extraordinary ways that have not been done really since the Nixon era. And over those four years we almost became numb to it.

I think that goes for people inside the Justice Department as well. You know, conversations reporting has showed up in "The Washington Post", "The New York Times," CNN, and other outlets shows that officials also begin to have conversations among themselves to the effect of, well, if we don`t do it, how bad is it? If the coup doesn`t happen, how bad is it? We kept law and order in place, nobody really knows this is happening in the public view, we can hold things together.

So, I mean, that you really do get a flavor of that in these emails. To your point, grumbling, passing things along but nobody actually taking any action. No investigations launched. Everybody kind of just nodding as well as they can.

MADDOW: And the one person who resigns here about whom we still don`t know the back story is be Vijay Pak, who was the U.S. attorney in Georgia. We do know, we`re tightening the timeline in terms of things that we don`t know here. We see the White House chief of staff Mark Meadows forwarding sort of some of the moonbat Georgia stuff to the attorney general, within a couple of days. He`s sending more stuff and asking for a specific Justice Department official who seems inclined towards the presidents view the election, to look into what`s going on in Georgia.

We now know the attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, passed on the U.S. attorney in Georgia phone number to him, and within a couple of days he had resigned and was being thanks for his resignation by one of the officials who had just been promoted. Do we know anything more about what Vijay Pak was asked to do, or what led to his resignation?

BENNER: Well, if you look at the documents, one of the other interesting things that we see is that there is a very tense meeting that "The New York Times" originally reported on that takes place that day where you have the president essentially deciding whether or not he`s going to keep Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen in place or whether or not he`s going to replace him with the acting head of the civil division Jeff Clark.

Jeff Clark believed the president`s assertion that he had actually won, you know, the election or that fraud had so damaged the election, that the results could not be known. Clark was a true believer and he was constantly trying to get other officials on board, with some sort of plan to do something particularly in Georgia, particularly in Fulton County.

So, we see this showdown happen at the White House. We see time stamp coming out of that meeting between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m., where various officials are saying we don`t have a full readout but we think that Rosen is going to remain attorney general. We think that one email event says that the cause of justice one, we`re not going to have somebody who believes these conspiracy theories running the Justice Department.

A lot of that meeting was about Georgia. A lot of that meeting was about Donald Trump`s true belief that something has happened in Georgia. He`d have that call with Brad Raffensperger in Georgia trying to get him to do something to get votes, to find fraud, to find evidence that would cast doubt who had won that state.

And then we see this really tense and awful meeting happen. It`s after that meeting that you see Rosen`s deputy emailed Vijay Pak. It`s only a few minutes after the entire top of the Justice Department has been debriefed on what happened on this meeting. The president`s obsession with the Georgia is known. The fact that something is going to probably happen to Vijay Pak or he`s going to be mentioned, he`s already mentioned in the call with Brad Raffensperger is known.

And it is at that point that the number two official calls Pak and you can assume that he likely explains to him what has just transpired in the meeting and President Trump`s obsession with Georgia. He probably presents some with a couple of options. Now, if you were Vijay Pak, I don`t know what you would do. I don`t know for sure what I would do.

I will say one option being to quietly leave before I`m tweeted about in my reputation is utterly destroyed by President Trump doesn`t sound like the worse option in the world. And you can also say that that is still completely inappropriate and that that option was on the table. But that is one of the most interesting things about the timing of Pak`s departure, is it happens after this long meeting where you almost see every single official at the top of the Justice Department resign in protests because of how the president intends to or wants to do around Georgia.

MADDOW: And, of course, the fact that there is a criminal investigation underway by a Georgia state prosecutor now, as to whether or not the president may have acted criminally when he tried to interfere in the administration of the election in Georgia. It raises question as to how that might be another avenue. That investigation might be another avenue towards figuring it out, whether Vijay Pak may, in fact, end up being a witness in the state investigation.

It remains to be seen. Of course, Katie Benner, a reporter covering the Justice Department for "The New York Times" -- Katie, this beat keeps getting weirder and weirder. Thank you for helping us understand it.

BENNER: Thanks.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead on this busy night. Stay with us.


MADDOW: I have read this headline over and over today and I still sort of can`t get over it, even just the basic grammar of it. MacKenzie Scott gives away another $2.7 billion dollars to charity. Another? MacKenzie Scott is one of the richest women in the world. Today, she announced in fact that she`s donating more than $2.7 billion dollars to charitable organizations this year.

But again, and that headline the word another is where I get tripped up, because also this is about what she`s giving this year but it`s June. Why would you be announcing what you`re doing this year in June? Oh it`s because that`s what`s he`s given away at the first half of this year.

Last summer, she announced that she gave away almost $2 billion to historically black colleges. Then at the end of last year, she announced that she`d given more than $4 billion to a bunch of other charities. Now today, nearly $3 billion against just in the first half of this year.

She`s given more than $8 billion and its 12-month period. It`s an incredible thing in lots of ways.

But there`s another reason I can`t get this headline out of my head today. MacKenzie Scott, of course, used to be MacKenzie Scott Bezos. She was married to Jeff Bezos, who is the founder of Amazon. They divorced in 2019.

Because of his stake in Amazon, Jeff Bezos is by far the richest person on the earth. When the two of them got divorced, MacKenzie Scott got her own share of the fortune. Her settlement basically in the divorces that she holds 4 percent of Amazon`s stock.

When they divorced a couple years ago, that meant she was worth about $36 billion. But now, owning 4 percent of Amazon`s top means that she`s worth not $36 billion, but more like $60 billion.

And that`s even with giving away $8 billion in a year, right? Giving way $8 billion as fast as she can. Amazon is worth so much as a company, giving away billions of dollars a year doesn`t affect the fact that her network still just keeps going up and it`s not like she is Jeff Bezos. Jeff Bezos himself is something worth $190 billion.

He says he has so much money now, the only thing he can think of to do with it all is to launch himself into space. He says -- I know you think I`m kidding or I`m being hyperbolic, but he said a few years ago that the only way I can see to deploy this much financial resources is by converting my Amazon winnings and space travel that is basically it.

And so, now, he`s doing it. He`s funding a space tourism company and he`s headed to space next month himself.

The wealth that Amazon, that company has generated, it`s almost impossible to wrap your head around, especially over the past year because of the pandemic, Amazon which was already unimaginably gigantic saw a huge upsurge in business last year. Like everybody was staying home, everyone was staying out of stores. Everyone is ordering everything online.

If you take what Amazon made in profits in the three years before the pandemic and add those three years of profits together, that`s how much Amazon made last year alone. They made three years of profit in one year last year. And so, yeah, Jeff Bezos is making himself into a space man and his ex-wife is giving away billions of dollars a year and still only getting richer as she does it.

But, of course, the way that company is able to generate all of that concentrated wealth is that they have a huge, massive army of workers who handle all of those packages. They`re the ones who make Amazon all the money, along with the company`s bottom line that work and ballooned last year.

Last year between July and October, Amazon hired 350,000 new employees. That`s more people than live in the entire city of St. Louis, Missouri. They added 350,000 new workers just from July to October.

Right now, Amazon is the second largest private employer in the United States in their own pace to become the largest private employer within the next year or two. And last year, reporters at "The New York Times" started talking to Amazon employees wherever they could find them, specifically, they started talking to people who have hourly jobs working at this facility. It`s called JFK 8. It`s on Staten Island in New York City.

Amazingly, it`s the only fulfillment center that Amazon has for the largest city in the country. It`s huge. It`s the size of 15 football fields. Again the only Amazon fulfillment center for the whole New York City area.

Reporters from "The New York Times" spent months talking to employees who work inside that facility. And today, they published what they found. This is the headline: The Amazon that customers don`t see.

"The Times" interviewed nearly 200 current and former Amazon employees for this piece, many of the people who work inside that gigantic JFK 8 facility. And what they were able to thread together from all the stories is that the bluntly dystopian picture of what it`s like to work in that fulfillment center, especially during COVID.

Here is just one anecdotal example from a family called the Castillo family. On the left there is Albert Castillo with his wife and their two kids, Alberto had worked at JFK 8 for five years when COVID hit New York last spring. He and his wife talked about weather should stay home from work to avoid getting COVID. But they`re trying to buy a house, they needed the income, he kept going to work.

This is how "The Times" tells the rest. Quote: When Mr. Castillo arrived to work at JFK 8 on March 24th, he heard the warehouse had its first positive COVID case. He messaged his boss replied, yes, I forgot to bring that up. And out of that everyone who worked with the employee had been notified.

Mr. Castillo called his wife to discuss whether to head home. They decided he would finish out his shift on the dawn drive back to New Jersey, his throat began itching.

Mr. Castillo became severely ill with COVID. He suffered permanent brain damage. Doctors say he will never speak or eat or work again.

For a while, Mr. Castillo`s family was receiving disability payments from Amazon but out of the blue, they stopped coming without warning. His wife frantically tried to reach somebody from Amazon to find out what happened. Most of the calls and emails went unanswered.

Finally, she got someone on the phone who agreed it was an error and reinstated the payments. But then she got an email from Amazon addressed to her husband that made no sense under the circumstances and said, quote, we notified your manager in H.R. rep about your return to work on October 1st, 2020.

What? Mr. Castillo cannot eat or talk let alone work. How is he going to go back to work? Especially since the company notice they`re paying him disability payments.

Mr. Castillo`s wife says she doesn`t think the company ever really understood what happened her husband. She told "The Times" said she wanted to ask Amazon, quote, are your care workers disposable? Can you just replace them?

A spokeswoman for Amazon expressed regret that Mr. Castillo`s family did not feel properly supported. The company said he and his family are an Amazon`s thoughts and prayers. They also said those disability payments were prematurely halted in error due a systems issue that has affected other employees as well.

Mr. Castillo, of course, was not the only employee at JFK 8 to come down with COVID. By May, another one of his coworkers had died of COVID. But look at what "The Times" is now reporting. Quote: While Amazon said publicly that it was disclosing confirmed cases to health officials, New York City records show no reported cases from the Amazon facility until November. "The Times" notes that Amazon and city officials dispute what happened.

But believe me when I tell you that horrible confusion with the Castillo family, at this construction site with sporting COVID cases is just the tip of the iceberg. This blockbuster in the times paints a picture about an American workplace for American employees have been fired by mistake and then unable to find any real human being in HR to try to fix it, let alone reinstate them.

It`s a story about a company that suffers from immense, almost unfathomable turnover.

"The Times" found that even before the pandemic, Amazon was losing 3 percent of its hourly workforce every week which means 150 percent turn over a year. Their entire workforce was completely turning over in less than a year.

One former Amazon employee telling "The New York Times" about what it means for a company as biggest Amazon to churn through its entire huge workforce once or twice a year. He says, quote, you need to have 8 million, 9 million, 10 million people apply each year.

That`s about 5 percent of the entire American workforce. The company is worried they will literally not have enough people to keep turning through the keeping the same company that they are.

The people who have been or likely will be employed by Amazon represents a really big slice of people who live in this country, given the size of that company and how big it keeps growing. But according to this reporting in "The Times" in particular, it appears to be a problematic place to work to say the least.

It`s particularly problematic if you`re not a white pride person. According to internal records obtained by "The Times", black employees at JFK 8 were 50 percent more likely to be fired than their white coworkers. More than 60 percent of the workers at the JFK 8 warehouse are black or Latino, but 70 percent of the people of company put in management positions there were white or Asian.

Amazon said, I couldn`t confirm that data without knowing more specifics about its source. One former HR vice president at Amazon who spoke to "The Times" told "The Times" that Amazon intentionally limited upward mobility for hourly workers, which means if you`re a core worker at Amazon, the ones making it possible for Jeff Bezos to shoot himself into space, particularly, if you`re a worker of color at Amazon, chances are you are not moving up in the company.

The company is deliberately making sure that there is no upward mobility for its hourly employees, who are the ones, again, make the company it`s money.

But they are also not sticking around and Amazon for the long haul, which is planned. That turnover is a structural problem at Amazon. It`s by design.

According to that same senior HR employee, Jeff Bezos from the beginning didn`t want hourly workers that were going to stick around for any amount of time. He said Bezos saw a, quote, large disgruntled workforce as a threat.

The Amazon official told "The Times" that Amazon`s data showed most employees became less eager overtime and that Jeff Bezos believe that people were inherently lazy. He said Bezos would tell him that, our nature as humans is to expand as little energy is possible to get what we want or need.

Apparently the guiding philosophy at the company that`s about to become the largest employer of Americans. If you`re an hourly worker, if you`re one of those people at JFK 8, it just doesn`t seem like there is no future you at Amazon but there`s no step up, right? They`re going to turn through you until they get someone else to do your job.

The richest company on the horizon, right? Company generating amounts wealth without away for the people who create that wealth to participate in its rewards, and it`s one thing when a lot of companies are like that. It`s another thing, it`s a thing for the country when you are about to become the largest private employer of Americans.

This reporting in the times today is the kind of journalism that leaves a crater when it lands. Jodi Kantor is one of the lead reporters on this story and she joins us next.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Joining us now is Jodi Kantor. She`s one of the investigative reporters behind this mammoth, new "New York Times" investigation of a company who`s about to become the largest private employer of the United States, Amazon a company with 150 percent annual turnover in its workforce.

You will also recognize Ms. Kantor as a Pulitzer Prize winner for her reporting on #metoo movement and the abuses of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Jodi Kantor, it`s very nice for you to make time to be here tonight. Thank you so much.

JODI KANTOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you for having me.

MADDOW: Why Amazon? Why did you pick --- you and your co-authors pick Amazon as the subject for this investigation?

KANTOR: I think the ultimate question of this investigation is how can Amazon be so precise and sophisticated with packages and yet treat people so differently? For example, at Amazon, you can get a job (INAUDIBLE) just for applying for a leave, just for applying for a very routine leave, many people have gotten them. And they really alarmed workers into thinking that something is wrong.

They`re sort of that notification that you mention a few minutes ago, to Ann Castillo (ph) when her husband was so ill. She got a message saying, you know, to her husband, Alberto, saying when are you coming back to work? Even though for months, she had been trying to tell the company that her husband was very, very severely ill.

MADDOW: Jodi, one of the things that I found nightmarish in your reporting was the moment by moment monitoring of Amazon workers at fulfillment centers. Their rate at which they accomplish their task and their time off task when they`re doing something that physically the company in its automated system does not believe to be productive movement. It feels sort of like Kafka-esque.

KANTOR: So, we tell the story of a worker named Diana Santos (ph) who was a very good performer. She was regularly praised by our bosses and yet at the end of 2019, she was fired. Why? Because she had one bad day.

She had one of those nightmare days at work where one thing snowballed into another thing and she says she really tried to stay on task, but other things got into the way. There were breakdowns, et cetera. She had to pause for a few minutes.

At the end of the day, she was told that her job totals was too high and she was escorted out.

That kind of practice has created a tremendous amount of fear among Amazon workers. People watching tonight may have heard the idea that Amazon workers can`t take bathroom breaks. That is not literally true, but it represents the apprehension that this company creates its workers.

Now, actually, over the last couple of weeks we asked Amazon`s many questions, we asked them for a lot of response and we went to them with Diana Santos` story I think four times and finally, they came back at us and said that they are changing that policy just a little bit so that now nobody can be fired for one back there. They will look at an average overtime.

So this is also a fascinating part of the reporting because on the one hand, we found all these enormous problems in the warehouses, on the other hand, Jeff Bezos recently said that he wants to do things differently and the question is now, how far will he go?

MADDOW: Reading about this is a business story, you can almost imagine a sort of evil genius on the business side thinking, boy, I wish I had that. I wish I had the ability to treat workers that disposable, to automate all of their interactions with the company. To have them get hired by a machine and fired by a machine, and have them not have anybody to call and complain, and I can just turn through people and use them like tools.

You can imagine the sort of evil business -- sort of efficiency argument for this type of work, and clearly, it`s part of the secret of how Amazon has been so profitable. But the other thing that I did not realize at all before reading this reporting is that Amazon is starting to realize that they`re operating this way at such a massive scale, they may be burning their way through at least the American workforce in the way that is going to force them to change, because they can`t just keep doing this. There aren`t 10 millions Americans who are going to apply for these jobs every year, if this is what the jobs are like.

KANTOR: There were some courageous veterans who went on the record with my colleague Karen Weise. They did a story with Karen Weise (INAUDIBLE). And why they told Karen in Seattle is that they are deeply worried.

They are worried about Amazon running out of workers and they`re also worried about scale. What they`re saying is that some of the Bezos` ideas like the idea that workers are lazy, human beings want to expand less effort, et cetera, et cetera, they`re seeing these were interesting, provocative ideas when you tried them in a smaller workplace, but when you try to scale them up to these gigantic proportions, in some cases with computers doing a lot of work, and some human intervention but not always a ton, then that is when the system begins to break down.

And yes, executives are turning through worker so fast that there are starting to worry about running out of workers.

MADDOW: Jodi Kantor, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter from "The New York Times", who Jeff Bezos wants to shoot into space, I`m willing to bet. At this point, he`s going to offer you his seat, do not take it, Jodi.

Congratulations to you and your colleagues in this reporting. Thank you so much.

KANTOR: Thank you so much.

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


MADDOW: Today, we are one step closer to a new federal holiday. They`re currently ten federal holidays that were recognized here in the United States but we will likely soon have 11. Senate today passed a resolution establishing Juneteenth as a national federal holiday.

Juneteenth, of course, celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, of course. But there would be another two and a half years before the last remaining slaves in Galveston, Texas, finally learned of their freedom on June 19th, 1865. June 19th is Juneteenth.

Now, the fact of the Senate vote was unanimous today, that came as a bit of a surprise. Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson had previously blocked to this but I guess today he got over it?

The bill will now go to the democratically controlled House, it is expected to pass in the House. Still TBD on when exactly. After that it is expected to be signed into law by President Biden.

It has been almost 40 years since the last new federal holiday was created, the holiday honoring the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That was created in 1983.

But we`re about to get another one. If you are one of the roughly two million federal workers in this country, starting next year, you can expect an extra day off for that federal holiday. As for the rest of us who don`t work for the federal government, it is not only something worthy of celebrating, it is definitely something worthy of bugging your boss to give you the day off to celebrate it.



MADDOW: The meetings going to be held in a place called Park La Grange. I think that`s how you say it. I`m definitely going to say Grange and not grange which is what it looks like.

It`s a big park in Geneva, Switzerland. It has a big 18th century villa in the middle of it. It`s going to be 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time for us, 1:00 p.m. local time tomorrow in Geneva when it all starts. That`s when Putin will arrive.

The Swiss president will greet him at the facility and escort him into the villa. Then after Putin, President Biden will arrive. The Swiss president will greet him and bring him into.

And then Biden and Putin will hold their bilateral meeting and that`s a very small meeting. The two of them, each side will have an interpreter and each side will also have their top diplomats. So for Biden, it`ll be Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. For Putin, it will be Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. But that`s it at the bilateral meeting.

Then after that small chat, there will be a second meeting that`s expended, an additional five officials joining the talks from each side. All in all, the talks are scheduled to last a total of 4 to 5 hours.

Former Russian Ambassador Michael McFaul says that at President Obama`s summit with Putin, Putin spent the whole first hour in a monologue talking uninterrupted lee about how much he hates the United States and how he feels very aggrieved by everything about the United States. So I don`t know if they`ve built an hour for him to whine, but we`ll see.

After the talks, President Putin will give a solo press conference and then President Biden will give a solo press conference after him as well. All we can say for sure is that will have a very, very nice backdrop and it will get started, again, early tomorrow morning, 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time is when it all starts.

All right. That`s going to do it for us tonight. I`ll see you again tomorrow night.


Good evening, Lawrence.