Senate GOP blocked "For the People Act". Senator Klobuchar, for example, who chairs the Rules Committee in the Senate and tonight, she announced her committee is packing up and going to Georgia to hold a field hearing on the voting rights. Minnesota Senior Senator, the chair of the Rules Committee in the Senate, Senator Amy Klobuchar is interviewed.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Final question for you, how much is the mRNA technology, which is debuted here at scale, how transformational is that? I keep reading incredible new avenues of research for other vaccinations that might happen on that platform.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Absolutely. It`s transformative, Chris. It has been highly, highly successful with COVID-19.
And right now, even as we speak, investigators are applying it to HIV vaccines, to malaria, to tuberculosis, to influenza, and even to cancer immunotherapy. So, right now, it was so successful with COVID-19, a lot of people, good people, good scientists are working on a number of other.
HAYES: That`s right. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a pleasure as always, sir. See you soon.
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. Very happy to have you with us.
Did you know -- I did not know. I think of myself as someone who keeps reasonably up to date with the news and current events but I have been out of the loop because I did not know that aliens did 9/11. I had no idea. I only learned it today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID WILCOCK, AUTHOR: How do you navigate a course through material that encompasses ancient civilizations, extraterrestrials, secret societies, and what is the relationship between those and the governments of our moderate world?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was able to learn about an ancient race they referred to as ultra race.
WILCOCK: They are the most evolved extraterrestrial group that has ever been involved with humanity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They take a genetic approach to help them manage this great experiment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The CIA declassified a document that describes a cataclysmic series of events.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The main message from these ETs are for us to prepare ourselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You know, I had no idea. I thought I knew. I thought I knew about these things. I did not know. The ETs, the aliens and what they did, I didn`t know.
They are preparing us for the end of the world. They`re, I think, going to cause the end of the world? I don`t know if that`s supposed to be good.
The aliens, these cute little deflated Pillsbury dough boy, white aliens, they`re kind of good, but it`s also kind of end of the world, turns out it`s all hidden right out in the open.
That was a movie -- do we call these things a movie? That was a film that was released in 2019 -- at least 2019 when it was posted online. The same filmmaker also made this the year before.
Now, in this, you will recognize some of the same dudes from the other movie. But in this movie, they have different haircuts and they have different purported expertise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No tire tracks and no footprints.
WILCOCK: The Germans had a settlement on the moon. They had a settlement on Mars. And they were doing this as early as 1939.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Between the age of 16 and 17 years old, I was transported to the moon. And after 20 years, I was age-regressed back in time and then returned to civilian life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This money is going into underground military bases and secret space programs with technology far beyond what many of us could even realize.
WILCOCK: At some point, this is all going to break open.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The more you get involved, the more compromised you become. They may actually kill you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)(
MADDOW: Did you see the giant skulls? The skulls of giants there at the end? The giants who were also maybe old rich Dutch people who got their portraits painted. Yeah, I know. Huh, huh, huh? You ever seen those together?
And if you put those next to a turnip, I`ll tell you what. It turns out the giants were maybe the ones that did 9/11 and I think shot JFK. It was the giants -- or it was the aliens that did that. Maybe the giants got killed by the aliens after they shot JFK. Honestly, it`s hard to figure out.
I will tell you, as this filmmaker evolved overtime, his aliens have gotten better looking. They`ve gotten more stylish, kind of cooler. Can we say his aliens are getting more hip over time as his movies about them evolve? There`s certainly filter in the man`s later work, to be sure.
I mention this -- I mention this and I introduce you to this filmmaker`s work because for the future of our republic and one of our two major governing parties, it`s important to know that that guy, the aliens did 9/11 guy, has a new movie coming out this week. His 2018 movie was Nazis in space and aliens killed JFK. His 2019 movie was aliens are eating our DNA and free masons and watch out. And here comes the end of the world and the aliens are peaceful seeming and they`ll be cool with you if you watch these movies.
Those were his previous works. His new movie which comes out this week is about the Arizona audit, the so-called audit of the Arizona presidential election result arranged by Republicans in the Arizona state legislature. That is the subject of his next movie.
And he appears to be sort of the authorized documentarian of the Arizona audit. I say that because his movie apparently does feature all the people who are doing the audit, all the big players.
The opening scene in the trailer for the film is Ken Bennett, the Arizona Republican official who has served all this time as the spokesman for the audit. There he is talking to the Nazis on the moon, aliens did 9/11 filmmaker. But while he is -- if you look at the background, he`s at the site of the Arizona recount audit thing at that arena in Phoenix talking to the aliens did 9/11 filmmaker about the Arizona recount.
The movie also includes lots of footage and testimony from the guy who writes books about treasure hunting and his big claim to fame was inventing a bar code scanner shaped like a house cat.
That`s the gentleman that now claims to have secret technology he can`t disclose to you which he calls kinetic artifact detection. It is secret but it is supposedly being applied to all of Arizona`s federal election ballots to prove, to prove, to prove -- that Donald Trump must of secretly one. Ask the secret cat scanner.
The movie also includes apparently the CEO who is maybe also the sole employee of Cyber Ninjas. That is the firm, the guy who`s actually running whatever it is the federal election ballots in Arizona. His name is Doug Logan. He is the CEO of Cyber Ninjas.
He was shadowed out visually in the original thriller for the movie, but they used his voice. When local reporters in Arizona recognize his voice and realize that was him, the filmmakers re-cut the trailer to make Doug Logan`s voice digitally altered. And when everybody laughed at them for doing that, they issued a third version of the trailer but this one with Doug Logan from Cyber Ninjas cut out entirely.
But if you think you are ready to learn the truth about the 2020 Arizona election results and you specifically want to learn the truth from the guy who finally figured out that it must of been aliens who did 9/11 and wow, JFK, too, watch out they might steal you and take you to the moon for 20 years. If that`s the guy you want to learn the truth from about the Arizona presidential election in 2020, he had some big news for you this week.
You will not be shocked to learn that he announced this news on a Telegram channel that is for followers of QAnon spaced conspiracy theory. But that`s where he made the announcement, you guys, you guys, his new movie is ready. He did the aliens movie in 2018, and a different aliens movie in 2019, but now, his 2021 movie is ready and it`s apparently shot on site at that Republican Arizona election audit in Phoenix.
It is premiering at a church in Phoenix this weekend, which I think means it`s time to the end of Arizona`s so-called audit this week. It`s one whatever they`re doing that so-called audit and it`s supposed to be wrapped up. And the big culminating event will be the screening of the official documentary about what happened in Arizona and how did the Arizona audit fall exposed to Trump truth.
Honestly, the reason we know about any of this is because really good reporters, dogged reporters at the "Arizona Mirror" and the "Arizona Republic" and local TV stations in Phoenix and groups like Arizona Right Wing Watch have been documenting the stuff for posterity because you otherwise wouldn`t believe it.
But a significant portion of the country, a majority of Republican voters across the country say they believe that Donald Trump actually won reelection or at least that there was significant fraud and there were many irregularities in the last election. And when majorities of Republican voters tell pollsters that, what they`re thinking of is the so-called audit in Arizona right? Oh, there`s a recount there right? And it sounds like they`re turning up stuff that`s really, really bad.
Well, now, from the guy who brought you the movie on the left about the secret space program, growing aliens deep inside the Earth, we`re about to get what I guess is the authorized documentary expose of the Arizona thing, including the support and involvement of the Republican officials and contractors who are running it.
And it would be a hilarious, it`s still kind of hilarious except for the part where this is the basis for Republicans in huge numbers now saying that the last election was distorted and corrupted by massive fraud and so nobody can have any faith in the election outcome. And therefore, Republican controlled legislatures across the country must dramatically restrict voting rights and change the administration of elections so we never have another election like 2020 again. I mean, it will also be the predicate for whatever is going to happen in our country in August when Arizona says they`re going to release their findings after whatever it is the QAnon Cyber Ninjas people did to the ballots in the voting machines in Arizona.
Their report on their so-called audit, they say, will be ready in late July or early August, and August is when Trump says he will be reinstated as president. He expects in August to be reinstated as president, presumably he believes on the basis of what Arizona is going to say they found in this thing that they set up in this local arena and had documented by the Nazis on Mars guy.
This just doesn`t seem like a helpful way for a mature democracy to handle the transition of power. You know? And it -- you know, maybe it all seems like fun and games until an angry armed mob storms or national capital to stop the election results from being certified. Or someone reporting to the pro-Trump faction in your state legislature starts banging on your door demanding to know who you voted for, threatening that you seem like the kind of person or this seems like the kind of address that feels a little shady to them and that`s going to be reported as fraud.
The watchdog group, American Oversight, this week, obtained a bunch of documents from the Arizona Republicans who set up and have administered the so-called audit there. Among the documents they have obtained was this one about reporting back apparently on a door to door canvas, quote, by its citizens nonpartisan grassroots projects. They say they went door to door in Maricopa county and Pima County, Arizona, knocking on peoples doors, asking who lived there and then asking about their vote in the presidential election in November, and then reporting up to Arizona Republicans that literally most of the addresses they want to seems like likely fraudsters.
Quote, today, over 3000 homes have been canvassed in order to verify the integrity of the voter rolls. Fifty-two percent of those canvassed addresses require an affidavit for irregularity. Fifty-two percent. Really? A majority of households in Arizona are seen as needing affidavits because of irregularities as reported by volunteer citizen canvassers.
This tracks with news that we saw a week ago in the "Arizona Republic". Quote, people are knocking on the doors of Yavapai County residents, this is in Arizona, and asking how they voted in the last election, while falsely claiming to represent that county reporters office, according to sheriff`s office officials.
The mysterious door to door survey has alarmed local officials. It comes after the U.S. Justice Department warned Arizona Senate Republicans against plans to canvas voters homes as a part of an unprecedented review of November`s election.
In fact, that warning is true in May. The U.S. Justice Department, the senior U.S. Justice Department official wrote to Arizona Republicans mourning them about what they were doing with the so-called audit, warning them about strict federal laws that govern the handling of ballots and voting machines after a federal election. Arizona Republicans blew that off and kept doing exactly what they had been doing before, which means the Justice Department apparently didn`t mean what they said and that letter because they never followed up and took any visible action despite the implied threat and not letter.
But the Justice Department letter to Arizona also explicitly warned Arizona Republicans about what happened in their stated plans to go bang on peoples` doors to ask them about their vote in the presidential election. After DOJ sent that letter, warning about the mishandling about ballots and voting machines, warning about plans to go door-to-door asking voters to ask about how they voted, Arizona Republicans responded to that part of it and said, yeah, well, they didn`t have plans to do door-to-door stuff anyway.
But now in this records request, thanks to American Oversight, we know that that happens. I mean, when Arizona Republicans have reported to them in these volunteer canvassers is that it was thousands of Arizonans who got knocks on their door with random people holding clipboards, trying to appear like officials something, demanding to know about their vote in the presidential election.
It happened in Maricopa County. It happened in Pima County. It happened in Yavapai County. The Justice Department explicitly warned Arizona against doing this, warned Arizona Republicans because it`s against the federal law that prohibits intimidating voters in this way.
They got the warning. They apparently did it anyway in three counties, thousands of households. Is the Justice Department going to do anything about the other than their stern warning they sent in May followed up with no action in response? Anyone? Hello? Is this thing on?
We don`t know what, if anything, the White House and the Biden administration, more broadly, plans to do to try to defend voting rights and to protect election processes against this unprecedented and still rising tide of pressure from Republican-controlled legislatures and Republican statehouses around the country.
Today, a reporter for "Vice News" says she asked the number two Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin, what would happen next after Republicans filibustered the voting rights bill in the Senate today.
Elizabeth Landers wrote that Senator Durbin responded, quote, I`m not sure, meaning I`m not sure what will happen next. He then hinted that President Biden is, quote, doing a lot of things that haven`t been announced publicly.
Before too long, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain retweeted that, pointedly, literally with a little pointing emoji, seeming to endorse the idea that there may be actions President Biden himself or the Biden administration more broadly is taking on this issue that we can`t yet see. Okay. I`m intrigued. I`m looking forward to finding out about that.
But whether it`s potentially Justice Department action to enforce federal laws around the handling of ballots and not intimidating voters or whether it`s something else they`ve got in mind, when it comes to the law, when it comes to the path of legislation, it did hit that big expected speed bump today, thanks to Democrats` unwillingness to reform the filibuster rules in the face of Republican willingness to use the filibuster against absolutely everything, even voting rights.
All 50 Republican senators voted today that there should not even be a debate on the voting rights bill, the For the People Act. That also meant that Republicans didn`t even consent to consider to even talking about a different version of the bill, like for example the significantly reduced iteration of the bill proposed by conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Senator Manchin has been the focus of so much attention on this issue because of the peculiar angle he took on this thing.
It wasn`t just that Manchin said he didn`t want to vote for a voting rights bill unless it had Republican support. He said that, but he also expressed this relentless and sort of inexplicable optimism that some Republicans would support voting rights in the end. When he wrote his op-ed in his hometown paper recently, expressing his opposition to any voting rights bill that didn`t have Republican support, that was sort of an implicit criticism of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate for writing a voting rights bill that no Republican senator could support.
Senator Manchin put his theory to the test though. He wrote his own version of the voting rights bill, showing his concept of the kind of bill he felt Republicans rightfully should support and should be expected to support on voting rights.
Senator Manchin drew up his own proposal, what he thought should get Republican votes. The Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, responded by calling the pro posed bill, quote, rotten.
And then today, Republican senators, all 50 Republican senators, voted to not even consider what Joe Manchin put forward. So, does this change Senator Manchin`s mind about any of this? Does it shift his idea that no voting rights bill should pass if it doesn`t have Republican votes?
Now that he sees the way that Republicans are approaching this issue in terms of deciding what they`re going to vote for, what they`re going to vote to debate, what they`re going to vote to hear, does this change his mind about whether or not a voting rights bill must have Republican votes if it is going to be a legitimate approach to this issue that deserves his support? We don`t know.
Senators leave at the end of this week to go home for a two-week-long -- oh -- July 4th recess. What senators hear from their constituents when they`re at home about the importance of voting rights, that may be determinative here as to whether this is now over or whether there might be a next step.
At home in Phoenix, Arizona, today this was the scene at the offices of Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema. She is the other conservative Democrat who`s been a hold-out on this issue, also insisting that since Republicans ought to support voting rights, Democrats should give up on it if they don`t. I know, I know, I know. And her constituents clearly know.
In addition to these visits at her office today, Senator Sinema is also facing ads like these ones running on Arizona TV stations just blasting her for not being willing to get it done, for not standing up for voting rights.
Now, I don`t know how this is going to end, but I do know that Republicans in the states are going maximalist with their position on this issue. To the point where they literally aren`t ashamed to have the dude who makes movies about Nazis on the moon and aliens doing 9/11 becoming the official documentarian for their effort to promote election fraud narrative to bolster not only disrespect for election broad strokes but specifically to bolster Republican efforts in all Republican-controlled states now to rescind voting rights and make voting harder.
They are going for a maximalist conception here. Senate Republicans in Washington know that as long as the filibuster is there, Democrats have no options in terms of backing up voting rights. Clear on that -- the Republican Party being clear on that in terms of whether there`s going to be federal protection for voting rights, clears the field for Republicans in the states to go maximalist and shamelessly as far as they can on this issue, to make voting as restricted as possible, to target voting restrictions and the administration of elections in a way that is maximally partisan to their advantage.
And so they proceed. Unless Democrats can figure out, can get their heads around the fact that this is what they`re up against and fight this same kind of fight, on the same kind of terms.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is an original co-sponsor of the voting rights bill that stalled today in the Senate. She says her next move is to take the show on the road. She says she`s going to start doing field hearings in the states documenting stakes and taking it to places where the fight is being waged.
Senator Klobuchar joins us next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Across the nation, constitutional rights are being assaulted, and I fear that if we don`t act as a body in this moment, we will have crossed a dangerous Rubicon in our nation.
Why are some people hiding? To what end? For what purpose? At whose behest?
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): We were reminded on January 6th that it is up to us to protect against threats to our democracy. Honestly, I would love to get some support from the other side of the aisle, but we have to be honest, I don`t expect we`re going to get it.
So, my Republican colleagues, this is not the end of the line for this bill. This is not the end of the line. This is only the beginning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senators Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota were among many Democrats today who spoke out in support of S.1, the For the People Act, the big voting rights bill, ahead of this afternoon`s first big vote to put on the Senate floor for debate. It`s already passed the House. If it can pass the Senate, it will go to President Biden and he will sign it into law.
But that effort to get it on to the floor today for debate failed. All 50 Republican senators voted against even starting debate on the bill.
This was a filibuster. They required 60 votes to get this thing onto the floor and Republicans insisted unilaterally and unanimously that that would not happen.
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell promised to make sure the bill stays dead, that it never goes anywhere. He vowed today to, quote, put an end to it.
But despite today`s defeat for proponents of the bill, a chorus of Democratic senators said this fight is still beginning. They`re not letting this go.
Senator Klobuchar, for example, chairs the Rules Committee in the Senate and tonight, she announced her committee is packing up and going to Georgia to hold a field hearing on the voting rights and on the voting rights fight in Georgia to hear firsthand from voters in one of the states where election rules and voting rights are being radically restricted in the aftermath of President Trump`s re-election loss last year.
Vice President Kamala Harris is technically the president of the Senate. In that capacity, she presided over today`s vote. Afterwards, she also promised that this is not over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The issue here is, is there actual access to the voting process, or is that being impeded? And the bottom line is that the president and I are very clear, we support S.1. We support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. And the fight is not over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You can hear the reporter at the end there saying, what`s next? What`s next? Which, of course, is the key question.
Joining us now is Minnesota senior senator, the chair of the Rules Committee in the Senate, Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Senator, it`s great to have you here. Thank you so much.
KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: What`s next? Where does this go?
KLOBUCHAR: What`s next? We`re going to Georgia.
The Rules Committee has not gone on the road for 20 years, and that is just the beginning because my colleagues maybe should have learned a lesson in Georgia, my Republican colleagues.
And that is I smiled when I heard the great Senator Warnock speak, the guy who said it all in probably one sentence. This is all summed up that some people don`t want some people to vote.
And guess what? When the people of Georgia saw what was happening back in early January, when they saw the big lie being perpetrated on them, when they saw their elections being undermined by the Republican Party, they turned out and they voted. They didn`t just vote in one Democratic senator, they voted in two.
So, we had the people on our side on this big time, Rachel -- Democrats, Republicans, independents. The bill polls at, what, 78 percent for many of the provisions? We have a united party as you saw by the vote today.
So, we are not ending this fight. And one of the ways we do that is getting out of this Capitol dome and heading out to the states so we can hear from people and so my colleagues can hear them because it`s hard to hide when you have people talking about standing in 10-hour lines without food and water or people trying to find one drop-off ballot box in the middle of Harris County, Texas, of 5 million people, or the discriminatory voting practices, or six states still requiring notarized signatures from notary publics just to get an application for an absentee ballot.
That`s what they`re going to hear when we go out there to states across the country.
MADDOW: And is it your expectation that that kind of pressure and that kind of public support for the voting rights protections that were in this bill, is it your expectation that that will peel off Republicans who will decide that they want to align themselves more with public opinions on this, that they see the light on this, and Republicans will peel off and support it? Or is it your expectation that Democrats in your own caucus will decide that this is important enough and there`s enough public support for this, that this is worth a new approach for the Senate rules that allows this to be passed without Republican votes?
KLOBUCHAR: I would take either. But the point is that I`m not giving up, and Senator Warnock is getting (ph) up, nor is -- nor is Senator Merkley. We are not giving up.
And I favor abolishing the filibuster, and I came to that decision after years of inaction, after seeing how important legislation on things like climate change, and immigration reform, things where there was even bipartisan agreement got stopped because of an archaic procedure. And I don`t think our colleagues on the other side should be able to tyrannize us basically and the country and hold the country hostage. I don`t think you should be able to filibuster our democracy. That`s what I believe.
But, of course, yes, we have to convince our colleagues to make changes. They`ve been open to reform. You`ve heard Senator Manchin talk about the standing filibuster, and we can proceed that way, and we can also put pressure on Republicans.
But the point is, there are so many provisions in this bill, including, by the way, the DISCLOSE Act to go after dark money in our politics. That is overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly popular. And I`d like to see my colleagues on the other side vote against that,
Or my Honest Ads Act which simply says that social media companies have to put disclosures and disclaimers on these ads so we know exactly where the money`s coming from.
All of these things are going to be on the ballot as we move forward.
MADDOW: I mentioned a few minutes ago about an exchange with Senator Durbin of Illinois that a reporter from "Vice News" had with him today in which he`s told her that he wasn`t sure what was going to happen next procedurally. But he also said that it was his understanding that President Biden and the Biden White House are doing a lot of things on this issue that haven`t been announced publicly but that might be materially relevant in terms of what happens next.
Do you have any idea what he`s talking about? Is there someplace else we should be looking in terms of next steps or what other resources might be available for voting rights protection?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, there`s a lot of things. We`re working on an infrastructure package right now. And there`s going to -- you know, there`s the bipartisan group that`s negotiating hard, but there`s also going to be a second package, and we can include election infrastructure in there.
When it comes to the Justice Department, you`re looking at people like Vanita Gupta that`s over there, people like Kristen Clarke. These are experienced leaders who understand voting rights.
This is not your daddy`s Justice Department or should I say your Daddy William Barr`s Justice Department anymore. These are incredible forceful leaders who know what they`re doing.
So, I can`t tell you exactly what they`re going to do. But what I can say is they`re going to make sure that these states out there who are even thinking of impinging on people`s right to vote, they`re going to go after that because you can`t do that in America.
This is a fundamental right shared by Democrats, Republicans, independents, anyone that wants to vote in America, something our whole country was founded on, the simple idea of democracy.
And these guys, whatever they are, Cyber Ninja, whatever they are, they are messing with us right now.
And people in this country don`t like that. Look at what they did in Georgia back in January.
So, we`ve got major, major work in front of us on many fronts, Rachel. So, I don`t want to take away from the work we`ve got to do in the coming month on infrastructure and Build Back Better.
But I can tell you, there are a number of us that see the evil that`s out there and we`re not just going to pretend and go away. That`s why I`m bringing the Rules Committee out on the road.
MADDOW: Minnesota senator, chair of the Rules Committee, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota -- it`s great to have you here. I know that this is the start of a different kind of fight here. Thanks for keeping us apprised, Senator. It`s great to see you.
KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. A little jarred by the whole Daddy William Barr thing. I`m just -- I`m just going to take a quick shower. I`ll be right back.
MADDOW: A year ago my very good, very old friend, a producer on the show, Steve Benen, published a book that is basically a -- I mean, it`s not a reference guide. It`s a narrative. But I have sense used it as a frequently referred to reference guide for how to understand today`s politics and how to understand what`s not the same between the two parties.
The book is called "The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics."
The basic thesis is that the Democratic Party is different from the Democratic Party in one very specific way. They are post-policy. Whatever they may have been in the past or whatever they may have been driven in the past, the key insight you need for understanding them today is that they are not working on policy anymore. They are not working on governing.
They`re working on power. They`re working on messaging. They`re working on all sorts of other things that benefit themselves, but governing, policy, running the country, not a functioning dynamic inside their party at all.
And a post-policy party uninterested in governing is, of course, a very nice, very empty vessel that can, with shocking ease, be taken over by, say, a demagogue with no goals beyond his own power and ego.
Here`s a little piece of it. This is from a brand-new afterword to "The Imposters" which his just out day in paperback. Among the hallmarks of post-policy thinking is the rejection of data, evidence and the expertise. In the case of the 2020 presidential election, the data showed Trump losing the race badly. The evidence of the contrary simply didn`t exist.
Even experts from Trump`s own administration rejected the president`s utterly ridiculous claims. Indeed, Christopher Krebs, the nation`s top security official at the Department of Homeland Security celebrated the fact that the elections were the most secure in American history and were untainted by irregularities. President Trump responded by firing Christopher Krebs for having told the truth.
When even Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department couldn`t find the evidence of systemic fraud. Trump parted ways with him too. It would have been awful enough for an American president to borrow the playbook used too often by foreign autocrats, but the calamity was made worse by the willingness to endorse Trump`s democratic assaults.
With limited exceptions, congressional Republicans cheered the president on what he tried to overturn the results of his defeat, unmoved by Trump`s apparent madness and the toll it`s taking on the integrity of the country`s institutions.
And, of course, that effort has only grown in pace and scope since then. The effort to undermine the results of the 2020 election is now the animating force within the Republican Party which more than anything is working on rescinding voting rights and seizing partisan control of the administration of elections. And it shows no sign of slowing down to the contrary.
But here is one other important point that Steve makes in his book and this is part of why here`s why I love Steve and have worked with him for many years and since literally we were literally kids. They gave us his kids.
He also writes about the fact that it`s not inevitable that Republicans are post-policy party, it`s a choice that they`re making and you can prove it. Steve says, quote, it would be a mistake to assume that Republicans are incapable of effective policy making. When using gerrymandering techniques to give Republican candidates unfair and undemocratic electoral advantages, for example, Republicans have demonstrated an uncanny ability to carefully utilize evidence in pursuit of substantive goals.
In North Carolina, for example, an appeals court found that Republican officials drew legislative district boundaries that targeted black voters with, quote, almost surgical precision. It was part of a racist scheme to undermine democracy, but it was also a reminder that Republicans are willing to set their mind to it they`re able to roll up their sleeves and do substantive work in pursuit of their goals. Their goals are sometimes abhorrent but the party at least has the capacity -- meaning their numerate, right? They just don`t choose to be when it comes to things like bogus election fraud claims. When it comes to drawing maps for electoral advantage, oh, they can be very numerate about that.
I mean, from all of these incredibly specific target laws being passed with Republican controlled states. Laws aimed at making it harder for certain people to vote and easier for Republican officials to overrule election outcomes they don`t like. Up to and including tonight`s united Republican Senate blockade against even debating new voting rights bills, Republicans are showing that they can set a goal and work toward it. It`s just that the only goal that they seem to have right now is making it harder to vote and undermining face in American elections.
Joining us now is my friend Steve Benen, a longtime producer of this program, the editor of MaddowBlog.com and the author of "The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics", which is out today in paperwork -- in paperback with a brand-new afterword.
Steve, congratulations my friend. It`s great to see you.
STEVE BENEN, AUTHOR, "THE IMPOSTORS": It`s great to be here. Thanks so much.
MADDOW: This is the part where we remind people that you are also the first ever guest on the first ever RACHEL MADDOW SHOW where you are sitting in front of a fake bookcase, now 13 years down to the road, you`re still my guest when I need to talk to you but those are real books and they`re at a jaunty angle.
BENEN: You know, I`m annoyed by the fact when I look back at that original interview, you look the same and I don`t. And that seems terribly unfair.
MADDOW: It`s a wig. That`s pretty much how I do it. That`s my secret.
Steve, I want to ask you about what we saw today and the conversation I just had with Senator Klobuchar. Seeing Republican unanimity against even debating the voting rights bill, seeing Senator McConnell define this as something that, you know, a hill he`ll die on, and this is not a problem, and therefore, it needs no solutions and Republicans will entertain nothing on this issue.
How does that -- how does that fit into your broader understanding of what the Republican Party wants and what they`re good at?
BENEN: Well, what they`re good at is acquiring and maintaining power. And that is really their only principal focus, their only principal goal. I think today we saw evidence of that.
What Democrats did was approach this as a policy matter. They saw a problem in need of solution. They relied on data. They relied on evidence. They turned to experts and they put together a credible governing solution the way a governing party should.
What did we see from Republicans? We saw the opposite. We saw them discard the data. We saw them discard the evidence. We saw them focusing on their political goals, their ideological goals.
And that`s very much in keeping with this post-policy thesis. A governing party would approach this entirely differently. And so, that asymmetry where Democrats are approaching one way and Republicans another, that asymmetry is the defining problem in my mind of American politics today.
MADDOW: You and I talked about this idea, this insight into this difference between the parties for a long time before you wrote the book and we`ve been talking about it ever since and now with the new afterword, and the paperback version, I feel like the conversation keeps getting deeper but we`re in the same place that we were, and we still have the same pressing issue in terms of what the country needs, which is what do you do about it?
We don`t -- we still don`t have a playbook for what to do when one of two major parties in the country gives up on the idea of governing and decides to work essentially just on holding power. Is there -- do you feel like your understanding of this phenomenon has advanced to the point where you can be prescriptive as to how Democrats should approach combat with their partisan counterparts here given the differences between the two parties?
BENEN: I think that some Democratic senators make the same mistake that some voters make, which is that for years we can make the assumption that there were two responsible and mature governing parties. Folks make that decision all the time, assuming that both Democrats and Republicans, despite their differences, have the technocratic wherewithal to solve problems.
And the point I`m trying to emphasize in the book is that that assumption is badly in need of reexamination, because to assume that Republicans are governing party is to overlook this radical transformation that we`ve seen in the party over the course of the last 12 years.
And so, when we see some Democratic senators, people like West Virginia`s Joe Manchin, they make this assumption -- they`re sticking to this old fashioned assumption that Republicans are the same as they were. They`re not. They`ve made this transition to being a post-policy party. They`ve abandoned the pretense that policy making matters altogether.
MADDOW: And that means that there`s no point in arguing policy with them essentially.
MADDOW: That the field of combat once they`ve designed it is power only. It has to be power politics, right?
BENEN: Exactly right. When Republicans focus exclusively on the acquisition and maintenance of power and when they get Democratic senators treating them as if they`re a member of a governing party, well, that is -- that leads to breakdowns. We`ve seen several of those breakdowns just this year on things the first debate of 2021, on Democrats` COVID relief package.
What did we see from Republicans? A preoccupation with Dr. Seuss and the months that followed on infrastructure. On January 6th commission, on voting rights -- again and again, the Democrats are talking past one another because the parties are not just asking -- they`re not just offering different answers. They`re asking different kind of questions.
MADDOW: Steve Benen is a producer on this show. He`s the editor of maddowblog.com. There`s probably nobody writing on politics in a daily way that has more influence on the way I think about politics than the great Steve Benen.
Steve, congratulations on the paperback. Again, the book is called "The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics". It is out today, the paperback edition with a new afterword.
Steve, thank you so much for your time tonight, my friend. It`s great to see you.
BENEN: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: All right. More ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Polls are now closed tonight in the race to be the Democratic candidate for mayor in the largest city in the country. And even if you know absolutely nothing about New York City politics, even if you`ve never been to New York City, you probably know that the Democratic primary for mayor in New York City is essential will I the whole ball game.
New York isn`t what it used to be, and whoever the Republicans pick in their primary, that person, dollars to donuts, will not win the general election in November. The Democratic candidate will have a huge advantage. It just means whoever wins today`s Democratic primary will likely be the person who goes on to govern the city that has a population larger than roughly 40 of the 50 states. It`s a consequential thing.
And the field of contenders is gigantic -- former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, the borough president from Brooklyn whose name is Eric Adams, the former sanitation commissioner for the city, Kathryn Garcia, lawyer and civil rights activist Maya Wiley who you have seen here on MSNBC on her role as an MSNBC contributor. That`s just to name a few. That`s a minority of the candidates who are running.
But whether or not you care about who`s ultimately going win, this is going to be fascinating to watch, because this is the first time New York`s using ranked choice voting. You just don`t vote for your favorite candidate, you pick your top five and list them in order of preference, one, two, three, four, five.
If your first choice doesn`t win and gets knocked out, your first choice gets reallocated to your second choice, third choice, fourth choice, fifth choice. It`s complicated. At least the tabulating is complicated, even though the voting isn`t all that complicated.
Right now, we`re getting the first numbers on who voters ranked as their first choice. We expect to get more of this first choice, first round numbers tonight. But if, you know, nobody gets 50 percent, they keep going until somebody does.
The ultimate tabulation of who wins the Democratic primary is expected to take until next month before we actually know.
Our own Steve Kornacki is watching this complex data as it starts to come in tonight. He`s going to be giving a full update to my beloved colleague Lawrence O`Donnell live in the next hour. So, you`ll want to stay tuned for that.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: All right. That`s going to do it for us for now. Overnight tonight, of course, we`re going to be watching election results come in, in New York, including the New York`s race. Also, the very interesting question of who will replace Cy Vance, the New York state prosecutor in Manhattan who`s been pursuing this complex, potentially very consequential criminal investigation of former President Donald Trump and his business.
We`ll have coverage of all that and more tonight here on MSNBC, continuing now with "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.