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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 6/18/21

Guests: Trey Martinez Fischer, Jean Peters Baker


Interview with Texas State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer. Interview with Jean Peters Baker, head of the head prosecutor at Jackson County, Missouri Prosecutor`s Office.


ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC HOST: We can`t cancel these conversations. We need to have these conversations, even if they`re hard. Clint Smith (ph), you made it easy. I thank you. I appreciate you taking the time out on Friday night. Stay safe.

That is "ALL IN" for this Friday night. Chris Hayes will be back on this chair on Monday. And you can catch me on my show streaming on Peacock weekdays at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.


Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Zerlina. Thank you very, very much. Great to see you. Thank you.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. It has come to my attention that this is Friday, which is profoundly excellent news. It makes me all the more happy that you are here. Happy Friday. Thanks for being here.

Today marks 150 days since President Biden has been President Biden, since he was sworn into office January 20th, 150 days ago.

And in terms of understanding what`s happened since then, over the course of these 150 days, I think there`s two things external to President Biden`s election that have really made all the difference in terms of what`s happened since, things that have been defining, determinative for the two sides in our electoral politics.

On the Republican side, the major determining factor for them is that the former president who Joe Biden beat in the election is not only still around, he`s agitating among his supporters and among Republican elected officials across the country to promote this alternate reality fantasy that he didn`t really lose his reelection effort. There was something wrong with the election. Americans shouldn`t believe in the results, and somehow it can all be undone.

That is a truly weird thing. I know we`ve all been cooking in that stew for months now, but never lost sight of how truly weird that is. It is utterly, utterly unprecedented in our country to have an ex-president out there saying the current president is a pretender and must be returned to the White House. It is truly weird. And I think it`s that kind of a warping effect on the Republican Party and on Republicanism over the course of the 150 days of the Biden presidency.

That, of course, has led to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th and the aftermath of that. It`s led to the elevation of quite insane conspiracies and conservative politics and media including the latest one on the Fox News Channel this week that says it was secretly the FBI that attacked the Capitol on January 6th. Those weren`t Trump supporters, that was the FBI.

Now we know why we didn`t see FBI Director Chris Wray anywhere in public on January 6th during the attack. He was busy applying his face paint and shining up his helmet horns.

Actually, I wouldn`t have guessed it by the chest hair. You never know. Clearly, I`m no expert.

But on that side of American politics and governance on the Republican side, that has kind of been the determinative thing. This new thing they`re trying on where they pretend they are one-term president was the victim of an elaborate hoax election and he`s the real president has to be reinstated. And anything is justified in the pursuit of that because it`s such -- all right.

That strangeness external to the election of President Biden, that has on the right really shaped these 150 days for the Republican Party in ways small and weird and large and weird, including Republicans nationwide concerted efforts since the election to restrict voting rights, because on the pretext of these totally baseless claims there was something wrong with the voting in the last election. We will have more on that in just a moment.

But I think that`s been in the 150 days since Biden is president that dynamic in the Republican Party and on the right has been the sort of driving force.

On the other side, the Democratic side of the ledger, the thing external to the election of President Biden that has been determinative, that has set course, for that party over these last 150 days, is something that happened in the first week of January when two Democratic U.S. senators were elected in the state of Georgia. And when Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock were elected senators from Georgia, that added two Senate seats to the Democratic side of the column and that made the Democratic Party not only the party represented in the White House and in control of the House of Representatives, it meant the Democratic Party would also control the U.S. Senate. Their election means that both houses of Congress and the presidency are in control, under the leadership of the Democratic Party.

And that has been the determinative thing in terms of how Democratic politics and the dynamics within that side of the electoral ledger have unfolded over these last 150 days. That`s why we have the big COVID relief bill as a country. That`s why President Biden has his cabinet in place and his first few judges confirmed, unified Democratic control of both houses in Congress and the White House.

It`s a precious thing for any party that gets it. And President Biden has that. Democrats have that. And it means in theory that Democrats can get stuff done. You`ve got the majority in both houses of Congress and the White House.

If they can agree among themselves as to what must be done, if they can coordinate the president`s agenda with what Pelosi is able to move in the House, with what Schumer is able to move in the Senate, Democrats should theoretically be able to get stuff done. If there aren`t party defections of Democrat becoming a Republican or unexpected retirements or God forbid, deaths or debilitating illnesses within the Democrats the majority, they`ve got this precious thing for two years. Two years until the next election where they very well may lose their majority, right?

So, they`ve got two years, 24 months to get stuff done with this precious control of both Houses of Congress and the White House. It is Democrats` goal to use that precious 24 months efficiently, to get as much done as possible.

On the Republican side, if we`re honest about it, frankly, it`s their goal to waste as much of that time as possible. So, Democrats and President Biden can`t use the time. They can`t get stuff done in this precious 24 months that they`ve got. That is really how this works.

Democrats want to maximize but they can do in 24 months, Republicans want to minimize what can be done in 24 months by wasting as much as that time as they possibly can, 24 months.

Except, this time, Democrats only got 23 months. Because for the first month of the new Congress, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell wouldn`t agree to an organizing resolution to set the rules of the Senate even though Chuck Schumer and the Democrats became the majority, Schumer became the majority leader in the first week of January when those Georgia senators were elected, but it wasn`t until the first week of February that Republicans in the Senate actually let the Democrats have control -- control of the committees, control of the floor, all the other things that a majority and a majority leader is supposed to have.

Mitch McConnell kept that to himself. Just kept that first month for his own party, while he very, very, very, total speed slowly begrudgingly agreed to finally handover the gavel, only after he burned a solid month off the calendar.

So, thanks to that maneuver, which was forgotten about now, Democrats actually with this precious period where they`ve got the majority in both houses of Congress and the White House, they don`t have 24 months, they have 23 months, because Mitch McConnell stole the first month. They are down to 23.

Then there`s August. On the Senate calendar, they don`t work in August. What are they, French?

I kid you not. The Senate`s official website says the reason the Senate takes all of August off is in part -- look. Senators can catch up on their summer reading. For that noble reason, they take off all of August every year and it`s on the calendar this way. In this Congress, they`re slated to take off all of August this year and all of August again next year.

OK. So, take those months off the calendar, too. That gets the Democrats from 24 months in theory, down to 23 months, because McConnell stole their first month from now, and dropped down to more months to 21 because of the August catching up on the reading time.

So, now, they`ve got 21 months max to do anything. And it is June! More than four months that they`ve got our passed by, February, March, April, May, now, we`re in June. So, they are down to less than 17 months total to do everything they want to do.

The next big thing they want to do is infrastructure, which is bottom line not actually coming together. They have spent weeks now merging in two months now, negotiating with Republicans about what Republicans want from an infrastructure bill. Even though the Republican Leader Mitch McConnell promised ahead of time and in public that there won`t be Republican Senate votes for the infrastructure bill, he`d said that out loud in public in advance which should have been a clarifying thing. He said there will be, and I quote, zero Republicans who will vote for the infrastructure bill.

But still even though he said that at the beginning of May, weeks now drifting into months now there is the Democrats talking earnestly with Republicans about a thing they definitely will not vote for no matter what -- while time passes, while a lot of time seems to be passing.

Progressive firebrand Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez put a fine point on this problem earlier this month. She said, quote: During the Obama administration, folks thought we have a Democratic supermajority for a while. It lasted four months.

Democrats are burning precious time, negotiating with Republicans who won`t vote for anything even a January 6th commission. McConnell`s plan is to run out the clock.

It`s a hustle. We need to move now.

And yes, it is the role of progressives to, you know, push the Democratic Party`s leadership to be more aggressive and more ambitious. That`s part of how this is played. In this case, the number two Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, is kind of seeing the same song as Representative Ocasio- Cortez.

This is from "The Washington Post" this past week. He says, quote, I`m very impatient, said Schumer`s top lieutenant, Senator Dick Durbin before the chamber adjourned last week with the calendar quickly evaporating, and my Durbin`s count, only six scheduled work weeks between now and September. The party`s chief vote counter, Senator Durbin, said Democrats could not afford to stomach much more delay.

Quote: I`ve seen this movie before, he said. It`s called the Affordable Care Act, referring to the lengthy talks over health reform under President Barack Obama. Quote: We waited a calendar year for bipartisanship then, and it never ever appeared.

The amount of time the Democrats have to get anything done with these precious majorities they`ve got, it`s already been shrunk. Durbin says between now in the fall, they`ve only got six work weeks total on the calendar.

As John Wayne used to say, they are burning daylight. It`s time to get moving. Sort of understandable frustration there, both from, you know, vibrant progressives is in the House and from Senate Democrats in the leadership.

Understandable frustration and impatience there in terms of how much they want to try and get done and how much time they`ve got to get it done. Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey has an idea for getting it done. He said this week, if the infrastructure bill isn`t just negotiated, if it isn`t just negotiated or voted on and passed and on the president`s desk before the August recess this year, their big break to catch up on their summer reading, Senator Markey says, well, if this thing isn`t fast and a done deal before the August recess, then they shouldn`t take their August recess. They should just cancel it. And stay at work and get it done.

And that would have a practical effect of putting time back on the clock for Democrats to use their precious majority to actually do stuff. Reading is fundamental, I know. I do not want to discourage any senators from getting through their summer reading stacks. I got quite a stack myself.

But, you know, why don`t they just plan to give him selves more time to get stuff done? What is more important in that than their jobs? I mean, that`s what the Republicans would do if the Republicans had the majority. I don`t see that speculatively. I say that because we know it for a fact, that is what they did. This is 2018.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): If you look at the amount of work that we have to do, it`s inconceivable to me that we can`t use these weeks. We`ve got this backlog of nominations. Just to sum it up, I think we have enough work to do for the American people that we should be here during these weeks. Everybody should anticipate that we will be here as I announce today.


MADDOW: Everybody should anticipate we will be here as I announce today. What he had announced that day, this was 2018, Trump was president, Republicans were in control of the Senate, what he had announced that day is that they were canceling the August recess. Actually, they didn`t totally cancel it, they shortened it. They took a single week off, instead of taking the whole month off.

And they did it because they could. Because Mitch McConnell and the Republicans had the majority in the Senate and they wanted to use it to do stuff, even if their summer reading list were going to be a little bit neglected. They didn`t actually even have legislation they were working on at the time. They just wanted to confirm more Trump judges. But even still, they gave themselves time to do it. They gave themselves effectively more power by giving themselves more time at work to use the majority they fought so hard for before they lost that majority in the next election.

Why don`t Democrats do that this year? They would give themselves effectively more power and more options. By giving themselves more time at work to do stuff while they have this precious majority that history says they are likely to lose in the next election. And conceivably, they could even lose before then.

And whether you`re for the Democrats` decision to spend weeks and months talking to Republicans who will never vote for anything anyway, no matter how much talking they do, whether you like that strategy or you don`t. Even if you think that should chatting with Republican senator senators are somehow valuable, why wouldn`t you give yourselves more time to do that, too?

Even among people who disagree as to what Democrats should be prioritizing and doing with their time in the majority, more time to do all of it would help any and all of those priorities.

Jonathan Bernstein has recently been making this case at "Bloomberg News". You see the headline there: Congress should cancel its summer recess. He argues that more time means more options for the majority.

He says, quote: Additional Senate time would be especially valuable for the basic work of confirming Biden`s executive branch and judicial nominations. There`s now an increasing logjam of nominations that have been cleared by Senate committees for final actions. It`s likely to get worse, with more than 100 nominations still needing committee consideration. The result has been that the confirmation pace has fallen well behind when it was at this point in Barack Obama`s and George W. Bush`s presidencies.

Leaving town as currently scheduled for two weeks for the 4th of July, and then another five weeks for August recess without making substantial progress on that gap, that would be irresponsible.

Sure, but what about the summer reading? I think that`s a point well-made about nominations. I honestly think that point is hard to argue with. But it also equally applies to the legislation they want to pass. It equally applies to infrastructure, which they have said they want to pass in July.

Okay, good. Try. And if you don`t get it then, why not say now that you`re going to stay until you do get it done? I mean, that`s what McConnell did in 2018 when he didn`t even have anything good he was working on. He was just so worried about giving up precious time in power, before he potentially lost his slim majority in the Senate, which the Republicans did lose in the next election. He said you know what, there`s better things we can do then take all of all this off.

Right now, the Democrats haven`t even slimmer majority that McConnell did then. He had a 51-49 majority. Right now for the Democrats, is 50/50 with Vice President Harris breaking the tie. You can`t get any slimmer than that. I mean, some elderly Democratic senator takes off for all of august, and God forbid, gets a fright in a night, or gets eaten by a shark or something.

I mean, this thing will be over even faster, before we even get to the midterms conceivably, right? I mean, anything could happen. They`ve got a majority by a thread right now. Why not use the time they`ve got that`s the thing in life to certain?

Infrastructure is in process already. The first procedural stuff in infrastructure started this week. It`s in process already. Why not stay and get it done.

Voting rights -- voting rights is about to be a process, too. The first test vote in the Senate on voting rights is on Tuesday. And this is interesting, the anti-corruption group and bipartisan group or nonpartisan group called represent us just released the kind of amazing one minute spot today, basically to try to light a fire under us, light a fire under the country about passing the voting rights bill through the Senate.

I`m going to show it to you. But I`ll tell you, relevant background information for those of you at home who are as clueless about celebrities and famous singers and actors as I am. The woman in the spot here is the singer Katy Perry, who is very famous. The man is her partner, the actor Orlando Bloom, who is also very famous.

They also, in real life, this is relevant, have a nine-month-old daughter whose me name is Daisy. You`ll see at the end of the spot why that is relevant.

With that background for those of us who are a little dumb about these things, here it is. Like I said, it`s one minute long. And it is set in the year 2055.


ORLANDO BLOOM: Let`s hope this work.

KATY PERRY: We`ve got to tell them.


BLOOM: You are our only hope. America doesn`t exist in our future. Democracy is dead. We have no voice. The regime watches our every move.

PERRY: It started when voter suppression ran wild all over America.

The voting rights bills died in the Senate. Polling places closed. We lost our right to vote.

BLOOM: The future doesn`t have to be. You have the power to change it. Save democracy while you can!

PERRY: Call your senator now.

BLOOM: Tell Daisy we love her.


MADDOW: The voting rights bills died in the Senate. Save democracy while you can. I know that lands with the delicacy of a sledgehammer. But it is very well done.

On Katy Perry`s Instagram, which has 123 million followers, you can watch that and then click through to an explainer about the For the People Act. The phone number to call your senator. A simple script to use when making your call. It`s a good effort, very well organized.

But realistically, right now, regardless of the amount of public pressure on this thing, it does still seem like there`s a brick wall on the way passing it through the Senate.

Would more time help? I mean, if Senator Joe Manchin is trying doggedly to move Republicans to vote for some kind of voting bill, would more time for him to do that help? Probably not. Would it move any Republicans, I don`t think, in the end.

But with more time trying to do that helped convince him that it`s never going to happen? And that there are ways to pass voting rights anyway without Republicans, which he should support because he gave it his all. Maybe that would help.

It would probably help more than senators catching up on their summer reading for the entirety of August, while they burned off another month off their time holding the majority.

The pressure is also coming from the states, including the Republican controlled states, where the lack of federal protections for voting rights mean Republicans-led legislatures and governors are actively rolling back voting rights in the states, as quickly as they can number the new bill to do so.

Texas is perhaps foremost among the states, in terms of how aggressive Republicans are being with their rollbacks of voting rights.

Also in the forefront of this, in terms of how articulate and insistent Texans are being about the fact that they need help to protect their voting rights. They need federal help here. They`ve been making this public case that Texas Republicans won`t stop any of this. In fact, is likely to get worse and worse as long as they can keep changing the election rules to keep themselves in power.

This weekend, Sunday afternoon, there`s going to be a big rally in Texas on the steps of the state capitol in Austin, that is effectively beings framed as a plea to Washington, a plea to the United States Senate that the Senate should pass the For the People Act, the federal Voting Rights Act, so in states like Texas, Republicans no longer have the option of stripping voting rights, even further.

Joining us now is Texas State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer. He led the walk out of Texas House Democrats that successfully stalled that state`s last big anti-voting bill. This week, he another state Dems have been on Capitol Hill meeting with senators, meeting with Vice President Harris to advocate passing this voting rights legislation.

Representative Martinez Fischer, thank you so much for being with us. I appreciate you taking the time.


MADDOW: Indeed.

It has been, I know, a big week. And it`s likely to be a big weekend with this Capitol steps rally in Austin on Sunday. Let me just ask you where you think you are in the fight? How durable you think the victory is that you already achieved in the legislature, you and your caucus? And how hopeful you are about further progress?

MARTINEZ FISCHER: We`re at that crucial moment. You have to go hard or go home. America is now talking about voting rights. We need real reform. We need to have a chance. We`re holding the line here in Texas. We walked out that but that would be forever.

Republicans are silencing voices all over this country. They started in Georgia. They silence voices there. They went on to Florida. When they were done in Arizona, 40,000 Latinos, they came off the voting roles.

And if we get silenced in Texas, Republicans will march just all over this country until our democracy is destroyed. So, listen, we`re going to do it for Daisy, just like in the video clip. But we need to do it now, and now is the time.

MADDOW: When you were in Washington. Forgive me if I`m wrong, I understand among the people you met with this week was Senator Joe Manchin, who is the one Democrat in the Senate who is not signed on to support that for the people act. First of all, is that true? And if so, how did it go?

MARTINEZ FISCHER: Yes. So, I met with Senator Manchin`s chief of staff, his legislative director, for 45 minutes. And everybody is telling me about Washington standards. It`s almost of a lifetime.

I`ll be very frank, they couldn`t have been more kind. We went through S-1, you know, blow by blow, all of the compromise points that were released, 24 hours later, we went through them. And really, you know, what really hit them over the head, as they were explaining West Virginia law to me -- I`ll be real brief.

But in West Virginia, if you`re in a county jail, you get to vote by mail. If you work a shift and, because you work a shift you can`t work during the day, you get to vote by mail. During the pandemic, you could vote by mail.

We cannot do any of those things in Texas. The hurdles are that high. There`s so much tripwire on the ground. The voter discrimination in Texas is not accidental, it`s intentional. And that`s why we need national reform.

MADDOW: Let me ask you about another Texas specific part of this. It seems like, looking from the outside, that in anger, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott has decided to effectively defund the legislature? To defund the people who work in the legislature, support staff, as punishment for you and your colleagues having walked out to stop the anti-voting bill? Is that actually what is happening? Am I reading correctly what he did today?

MARTINEZ FISCHER: You are reading that correctly. I mean, obviously the governor needs a civics lesson. You`re not going to hurt me. My salary is protected by the Texas constitution. It`s not a lot of money. I don`t do it for the money.

He`s going to hurt the hardworking men and women who actually do the jobs. As a matter of fact, he`ll hurt the ones drawing maps for legislative redistricting, which again is another big front on the attack on voting rights. I mean, he`s proving our point, that this is really kind of sham government governance.

If you ask me, these are the kind of shams you do when you are not as cool as Governor DeSantis, I guess. What he really needs to focus on is doing the work himself. You know, all of this notion of building a wall, defunding the legislature, all these things he is doing when we are not in town, he should be doing it when we`re there. If he has the bravado to pass that kind of legislation, why don`t you try it when we`re all at work in Austin?

But you know, listen, he wants to play what we call pinata politics here, where he just wants to swing at everything. But I think the people of Texas know better. But he is exhibit A as so why we need somebody -- why we need national voting rights so that we can deal with governors and bullies like Governor Abbott.

MADDOW: Democratic Texas State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer -- good luck this weekend with the Austin event. And come back anytime. I know this fight is joined and it will not be a short one. Come back and keep us apprised, sir.

MARTINEZ FISCHER: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. Thanks very much for being here tonight.

We`ve got much more to get to this Friday night. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Joe Biden marked his 150th day as president by touting the fact that 300 million COVID vaccine shots have been administered since he took office. Three hundred million vaccine shots in 150 days is impressive.

But one of the reasons the Biden administration chose that metric to focus on today I think because it`s starting to look like the United States will not hit the exact benchmark that President Biden set six weeks ago, which is to get 70 percent of the adult population in our country at least one vaccine shot by July 4th.

We might get very close. Depending on what happens in states that have been really lagging in their vaccination rates, it`s possible if this turn around, we could get there. The adult vaccination rate in roughly half the state is still below 60 percent, a handful mostly in the South are still below 50 percent. So, that is worth watching between now and the first week in July. I think it`s a sign that they marked this other benchmark today.

But they`re moving on other fronts too. I thought it was very interesting to see this week that the Biden administration announced a $3.2 billion effort to boost and speed the development of antiviral drugs to treat COVID, not vaccines which prevent you from getting COVID, but a drug to treat you with if you get infected, a drug that can keep you from getting seriously ill.

Currently, the most effective treatments we have are the monoclonal antibody infusions which are amazingly effective. But they have to be given at a specific time. They have to be given early on after infection, before somebody is sick enough to be hospitalized. Also, for whatever reason, we can`t seem to get it together as a country to concur the logistical challenge of what takes to administer those drugs. They have to be administered by infusion.

So, even those drugs show lots of promise, their impact has been limited because of the constraints on how those drugs are used. Well, the idea behind the new $3.2 billion antiviral investment is that we should be able to develop an easy, simple pill you take that just makes you better if you get infected. The hope, if the research goes well, is some of the first contenders for a treatment like that could be online and ready by the end of this year. So, that`s potentially some very good news. It`s an interesting insight into the government putting that big amount of money into that, because it could obviously be a game changer.

Here is my nominee for best story of the day on this front or at least the most intriguing one. April last year, during the first peak in the COVID pandemic, the inspector general at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report. And that report said hospitals around the United States were desperately short on COVID tests and on PPE, on protective equipment for hospital staff. A reporter informed President Trump about that report and its findings at a White House COVID briefing where the president had been in the middle of crowing about how awesome the federal government`s response was to the pandemic.

Trump responded by declaring that report to be wrong. He demanded to know the inspector general`s name. He wanted to know his name. He assumed it was a dude. Once he found out her name, President Trump proceeded to attack her publically.

Then he tried to replace her to install a different inspector general he handpicked for the agency. That`s how it started.

Here is how it`s going. President Biden today announced that not is he keeping that official on at HHS, he is now nominating her to be the Senate confirmed inspector general for the Health and Human Services Agency.

Her name is Christi Grimm. She told the American public grim uncomfortable truths about the pandemic that very much upset the White House and put a bull`s-eye on her from the president of the United States. But now we have a new president and this president has decided that is the kind of person, who tells hard truths, who deserves a promotion and permanent job.

Elections have consequences. Character does too.


MADDOW: Prosecutors are tough guys. They`re not always guys, but I mean colloquially, even when they`re women, they`re tough guys. They are prosecuting lawbreakers. They are seeking prison terms for bad guys. They are insisting that the law will be followed and there will be consequences for those who don`t follow the law, because they are in charge of administering those consequences.

Being a prosecutor is not a shrinking violent kind of job. It`s also not the kind of job in which you ever hear an apology.

And so, this footage I`m about to show you, this tape from Missouri from, a tenth floor conference room in the downtown courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri, this is unlike anything I`ve ever seen before from a prosecutor, anywhere. Just watch this.


JEAN PETERS BAKER, JACKSON COUNTY, MO PROSECUTOR: We`re here advocating for Mr. Strickland`s freedom and his conviction should be vacated. Most importantly though, I`m advocating that this man must be freed immediately.

My job is to protect the innocent. And often, prosecutors show hubris, right? You`ve probably seen me show some of that from time to time.

And today, my job is to apologize. It is important to recognize when the system has made wrongs. And what we did in this case was wrong.

So, to Mr. Strickland, I am profoundly sorry. I am profoundly sorry for the harm that has come to you. It is not, however, just Mr. Strickland that I owe an apology to. It is to the victims` families in this case.

I suppose that I can stop there. But harms like this, extend beyond criminal defendants and those with the title a victim. It goes to the broader community.

And to that end, I want to tell this community that I represent that I find this mistake in this system to be profound, to be one that I should take every ounce of energy that I have to correct. I am sorry for this mistake made by the system.


MADDOW: I find this mistake and this system to be profound, one that should take of enter every ounce of energy I have to correct.

That is the prosecutor. The head of the prosecutors` office in Jackson, Missouri. Her name is Jean Peters Bakers.

The man she apologized to directly in that statement is named Kevin Strickland. He has been in prison for over 40 years in Missouri, since he was 18 years old.

But Ms. Baker`s office, which prosecuted him in that case, they have determined that he didn`t do it. That he shouldn`t have been prosecuted. It wasn`t him.

The case against him was based primarily on a single witness who recanted her testimony, who says it wasn`t him. She sought desperately to have him released. Two other men convicted in conjunction with a crime also say he did not do it.

The prosecutors own formal review of the case found that that case was brought against him in profound error.

We`ve reported on this case a few times in the last few weeks, closely following reporting from "The Kansas City Star". What is actually astonishing to me though is that this story is still out there now for us to still be talking about it.

That remarkable press conference by the prosecutor in Jackson County, Jane Peters Baker`s, that was 39 days ago. That was May 10. He`s still in jail.

Our justice system is adversarial. There`s a prosecuting side and there`s a defense side and the fight it out. In this case, though, it`s not the defense, it`s the prosecuting side saying wow, know there is good no case here. We were wrong. He needs to be freed, and saying it in profound and moving and earnest terms.

Thirty-nine days ago. You heard that prosecutor there. No action, Kevin Strickland, still in prison right now. How is this possible?

Joining us now is Jean Peters Baker. She is head of the head prosecutor at Jackson County, Missouri Prosecutor`s Office.

Ms. Baker, thank you so much for joining us tonight. I`ve really been looking forward for to the chance to talk with you.

BAKER: Thank you for having me.

MADDOW: I assume that that statement that you gave on May 10th was something very pro profoundly different than other public statements you`ve had to make in the years as a public servant. I imagine that must have been hard to do and must have been something that stuck with you?

BAKER: It`s a humbling job. It`s -- many days in this job are humbling. But this is just simply the right thing to do, and it continues to be a failure as I sit here right now talking to you, that Kevin Strickland remains in jail tonight. It`s another wrong.

And I intend to do everything I can in my power to make sure it`s corrected.

MADDOW: The Missouri Supreme Court did not act on his case. The governor, Governor Mike Parson of Missouri, has made very clear that he`s in no rush to do right by Mr. Strickland. He does not see this as a priority.

How do you think this ends ultimately? Do you think that the governor ultimately will free him? Or will there have to be some different path here?

BAKER: The governor has that power and he issued 36 pardons very recently. Most of those people were already out of prison.

However, I think Mr. Strickland is rightly in that category of someone who is deserving of that kind of government action by our governor.

Now, it may not happen. I`ve -- looking into the feature future, I can`t see what`s going to happen here.

But what the governor also has the ability to do is sign a bill into law that would give me the power to at least go to a local judge and say, judge we made a mistake. And I want -- I`m asking you judge to hear the evidence and give him remedy.

MADDOW: That bill has been sitting on the governor`s desk without any action by him thus far. Isn`t that true?

BAKER: That`s right. That`s right. But I do expect that will become law, and I do expect on its effective date of August 28th at 9:00 a.m., I will act. The first moment I have a moment to act.

MADDOW: I know from statements from your office you have had the opportunity to meet with the victims` families from this crime, this triple murder from which Mr. Strickland was wrongfully convicted, to talk with them about the profound effect that this has to have on them in terms of closure and piece over the loss of their loved ones. Even the family of the woman who was a witness in this case recanted her testimony, who wanted to see Mr. Strickland cleared.

She was also a victim in that crime. She was also injured in that crime. Can you tell me anything -- I mean, obviously, respecting their privacy -- can you tell me how the victims` families and her family felt about this dramatic turn in this case?

BAKER: I think -- I shouldn`t be surprised. I`ve been at this job a while, so victims have constantly given me great heart and it`s really an honor to represent them in the system that I have.

But these victims, I guess I hoped 43 years would mend more wounds. And it`s just another reminder to me that this type of injury doesn`t get mended. It`s when you learn to live with and you learn to go on, but the harm is always right there. And each one of the victims I met with, several sisters, brothers, a mom, all reported the same. That this is a harm they live with to this day.

MADDOW: Jean Peters Baker, head prosecutor of the Jackson County, Missouri Prosecutors` Office, leading this profound effort to reverse what was apparently a wrongful conviction to free a man who`s done 43 years in prison for a crime that`s now believe he did not commit.

Ms. Baker, thank you for your time tonight. I know you mentioned the date August 28th, nothing else happens. You have new powers to address on that date.

BAKER: Yeah.

MADDOW: Keep a surprise. Our audience cares about the story as to why. We`d love to stay up to date on what`s happening.

BAKER: We`re going to fight for him.

MADDOW: Thank you so much.

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



OPAL LEE, JUNETEENTH ACTIVIST: We had a celebration to die for. A tiny little park called Sycamore Park. We had 30,000 people.


LEE: The paper said in a three-day period, 10,000 people a day. Oh, did we have fun! We were partying. The park is supposed to close that 10:00, and all they did was to pull the plug that turned the lights off. That meant we are supposed to go home.

Why did I get on a flatbed truck and put that plug back in, and partied till dawn.



MADDOW: Ninety-four year old Opal Lee, reminiscing about celebrating Juneteenth in Fort Worth, Texas.

We talked about Ms. Opal Lee last night here on the show about how on Juneteenth when she was just 12 years old in 1939, Juneteenth the day marking the end of slavery in Texas her family`s home in Fort Worth was attacked and burned by a white mob.

Since then, she`s become a nationwide advocate to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. She`s also been, all these years, a fixture of Juneteenth celebrations in Fort Worth, Texas. Every year in Fort Worth, Opal Lee organizes a two and a half mile walk on Juneteenth to the courthouse in Fort Worth, to symbolize a two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation during which Black Texans remained enslaved.

When she does that same two and a half mile walk tomorrow in Fort Worth, it`ll be the first time she laces up her tennis shoes to do so on a federal holiday.

Fort Worth will celebrate Juneteenth tomorrow with that two and a half mile walk also with a big church service in the morning, with a big outdoor concert with fireworks display.

And like I said, Fort Worth has a big Juneteenth celebration every year, like lots of American cities. But this will be the first time the celebrations are marked by a federal holiday. Not just in Fort Worth, but all over the country.

Chicago, tomorrow, is going to be holding a big march to commemorate Juneteenth. There will be a parade in Philadelphia tomorrow, same thing in Atlanta.

I have it on good authority the Atlanta parade has an all female motorcycle escort team. Hello!

One of the many events going on in the Bay Area is a lawn party, in Oakland. The great city of Oakland, California.

In Tucson, they`re hosting a huge block party, vendors and food trucks in the afternoon. There`ll be performances at night. The Juneteenth celebration in Biloxi, Mississippi, there will be music and art and free food, and also free COVID shots between the hours of 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. in Biloxi.

South Dakota, right now, is the only state in the country that hasn`t recognized Juneteenth as any form of state holiday or day of observance. But in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, tomorrow, there`s going to be a Freedom Walk in the morning, and a DJ battle and a fashion show at lunchtime. And an art auction in the afternoon.

And all of those are just a random sampling. Google where you live. See how your city or town is celebrating Juneteenth, if you do not already know.

I know these kinds of celebrations happen every year, especially in black communities across the country. But this year for all the obvious reasons, this is going to be the one where you get back up on the flatbed, plug the thing back in. It`s going to be a special one this year.


MADDOW: I`ve just double checked, triple checked. It is in fact Friday. So good bye.

I will see again on Monday.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight.

Good evening, Ali.