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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 7/15/21

Guests: Melanie Campbell, Senfronia Thompson, Robin Trotman

Summary

Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and other activists arrested today at voting rights protest. Interview with Democratic Texas State Representative Senfronia Thompson. Cases surge in Missouri as delta variant spreads.

Transcript

SEN. TINA SMITH (D-MN): They like this idea. It has the support in our big broad coalition. It`s got the support of unions and environmental organizations, utilities.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": Yeah. Yes, that is true. A lot of groundwork has been laid for this policy at this moment.

Senator Tina Smith, thanks so much for your time tonight.

SMITH: Thank you so much.

HAYES: That is "ALL IN" on this Thursday night.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Chris, happy birthday to MSNBC. Did you know it is our 25th birthday today?

HAYES: No. I had no idea. This is one of those moments. This is a very pandemic moment because I feel if we were all in 30 Rock, there would have been something going around.

But no, I didn`t know that. Happy birthday, 25 years.

MADDOW: Happy birthday. I know neither of us were here when it started, but we get to benefit from being here at the 25th. I know exactly what you mean. Bunting did not appear at my house, but I`m trying to get into the spirit of it.

HAYES: Right.

MADDOW: Hence, the crosstalk.

Anyway. Thanks, my friend. Much appreciated.

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

All right. So, this was a week ago today, in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Thursday last week. It was 112 degrees in Phoenix that day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(PROTESTERS CHANTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Fired up, can`t take it no more -- 112 degrees that day in Phoenix. Not counting the radiant heat off the tarmac there.

That was outside the office of Arizona`s Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Those folks were protesting outside his office because of his role in promoting and defending new voting rights restrictions in Arizona, including all the way up to the United States Supreme Court.

Also, Arizona`s new rules about how the state`s elections will be conducted in the future, new rules explicitly designed to make sure officials from the Democratic Party can`t play a top role in election administration in Arizona anymore, only Republicans will be allowed to do that from here on out.

Of those folks protesting outside Attorney General Brnovich`s office last week in Arizona, nine of them were arrested. It wasn`t -- they weren`t violent or anything. It was civil disobedience. It was a planned act, stepped into the street with the understanding that police would warn them and then arrest them, technically, for blocking traffic.

But nine people put themselves forward for arrest that day to dramatize their case, for voting rights in Arizona and against what the attorney general had done there to throttle them.

That same day, again, a week ago today, President Biden and Vice President Harris hosted a small group of influential civil rights leaders and voting rights advocates in a closed-door working meeting at the White House, to talk basically about what can be done, what the plan is, what plan can be developed to try to save voting rights, to try to backstop both voting rights and the free and fair and nonpartisan administration of elections, because Republicans are attacking both of those things so aggressively in every single state where they hold power this year.

And you know, on the Republican side, it has been driven as you know, it has at least dovetailed with this increasingly insane Jeremiahed from former Trump that he didn`t lose the 2020 election. There must have been terrible fraud. And he insists that Republicans who support him must lead weird inquisitions into the 2020 vote all over the country and then, of course, proclaim that really, he was the real winner, and he should be named president now.

Today, Arizona Republicans who are doing their so-called audit in Arizona, they gave a briefing on their progress. Only two Republican senators were there, but they tried to call it a hearing. This was -- this audit that they`re doing in Arizona, they launched it in April. They said it would take three weeks. It`s of course now mid-July, and they`re still going strong.

They made clear today that they`re definitely finding all of the fraud they have been fantasizing about, but it`s definitely going to take lots more investigation, lots more materials, probably lots more donations from Trump supporters nationwide. It looks like they will subpoena more stuff from the county, Maricopa County, where they got all these ballots from. The way they were talking about it today, it sounds like they think they have weeks to go, maybe months still to go. It`s such a big complex investigation.

There`s no sign actually that there was anything wrong with the presidential vote in Arizona. Nothing. There`s no sign that there was anything wrong with it. At all.

And I`m saying that not just like, because I can observe it, it`s because I can observe that the vote in Arizona was subjected to multiple official recounts, including hand recounts by people who are actually certified to do that work and know what they`re talking about.

[21:05:01]

They found that the Arizona presidential election was sound and there were no problems. But, of course, that won`t do.

At today`s briefing on their new different special pro-Trump Republican audit, the head of Cyber Ninjas, the guy on the left, this random QAnon- promoting guy who Arizona Republicans assigned to lead the audit, he kept insisting at this hearing that this is an incredibly complicated, incredibly complex, very, very difficult process, and therefore, it`s going to take a lot more time and obviously a lot more money for him. It`s going to take lots more work to figure it all out.

Maricopa County itself, the county they took all the ballots and the voting machines from, they responded today with this. Quote: It`s complicated and difficult for Senate contractors to do this audit because they are not qualified to do this audit. It would be like asking Doug Logan from Cyber Ninjas to play point guard for the Phoenix Suns. That, too, would be complicated and difficult, because he`s not qualified to do that.

That was from the county itself today. The chair, the Republican chair of the county board of supervisors responded to this briefing on the Arizona clown show audit today with this.

He said, quote: It`s clear the people hired by Arizona Senate leadership to supposedly bring integrity to our elections are instead just bringing incompetence. At today`s briefing, the Senate`s uncertified contractors asked a lot of open-ended questions portraying as suspicious what is known and well known to people who work in elections. In some cases, they dropped bombshell numbers that are simply not accurate. What we heard today represents an alternate reality that has veered out of control since the November general election. Senate leadership should be ashamed they broadcast the half-baked theories of the deep rigged crowd to the world today.

To Senate leaders, I say stop accusing us of not cooperating when we have given you everything qualified auditors would need to do this job. Finish your audit. Release the report. And be prepared to defend it in court.

Be prepared to defend it in court.

Again, that`s the county that had all its ballots and voting machines taken for this thing they`re doing in Arizona by the Republicans in the legislature who literally turned all of the ballots and the voting machines over to this QAnon conspiracy theory bizarro world process, which apparently is going to go on indefinitely now.

I mean, literally, the quasi-official documentary about the Arizona audit, which all the Republicans and the contractors involved in it participated in, was made by a guy whose previous movies are all about how it was space aliens who did 9/11 and the Nazis have a secret base on the moon, and lizard people live inside the earth in special pods and control us all. Check your fillings.

I mean, the Maricopa County guy, when he said you should be embarrassed about broadcasting the half-baked deep rig theories, that`s the deep rig reference from the Maricopa County guy. "Deep Rig" is the name of the insane movie about the Arizona audit from the filmmaker who brought you 9/11 started on Mars.

For what it`s worth, former President Trump apparently watched the Arizona hearing today about their audit and now considers it a done deal. He considers the election of Joe Biden to be definitively debunked. He is ready to be reinstated in Washington, gas up the Beast.

The former President Trump said today that Arizona must decertify its election because he won there, and he won in all of the other swing states, too. He is ready to be reinstated as president. Why is it taking so long?

He said today, quote: The Arizona Senate patriots are moving forward with the final results to be announced in the not-too-distant future. But based on today`s hearing, why even wait? Now, why even wait?

President Biden should just move out now because Republicans and Cyber Ninjas have fixed the problem of Trump apparently losing the election. Now, he gets to be president again. Why even wait?

So, I mean, in all seriousness, that whole thing about Trump thinking he`s still president and importantly telling his supporters that the fraud has been proven and Biden`s only pretending to be president, and he got there based on a crime, and he needs to get thrown out because he`s not a real president, he`s illegitimate, that little thing, that`s getting worse and not better right now.

That`s heading faster and faster toward a cliff that keeps getting higher and higher. Ignoring that problem is not making it go away. That is heading toward a very, very bad end. More quickly all the time.

But even Republicans who aren`t willing to explicitly espouse those crazy Trump election fantasies, they`re all going after voting and election administration hammer and tongs regardless.

[21:10:12]

And Democrats` plans to try to stop it frankly aren`t coming together. At least they`re not coming together at the national level.

That same day last week, when the civil rights leaders and voting rights advocates went to the White House to meet with President Biden and Vice President Harris, here on this show that night, I put the question to one of the people who had been in the room at the White House for that meeting, Wade Henderson from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. I asked Mr. Henderson basically, why he didn`t feel more despair about voting rights right now.

I mean, Republicans succeeding with all these new anti-voting rights restrictions all across the country. The courts with the conservative majority in the U.S. Supreme Court leading the way, stripping legal protections for voting, even for voting restrictions that admittedly only go after minority voters. The courts effectively closing themselves off to hearing voting rights cases or vindicating people who had been victimized by restrictions on their voting rights. Unified Republican opposition in Washington to passing anything to bolster voting rights at all, and Democrats who can`t figure out a way to pass voting rights protections without Republicans -- even though a little unity and a single change in the Senate rules is all Democrats would need to be able to do it.

So I said to Wade Henderson after he had that meeting at the White House, after he had come out of that meeting at the White House and said he felt encouraged on voting rights, I said to him, it feels to me like all doors are closed. Why do you feel encouraged? What do you know that I don`t know? What else can be done?

This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WADE HENDERSON, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL & HUMAN RIGHTS: It was a real belief that we who are advocates for change have to take direct action if we are going to be effective in rolling back what we see happening at the state level in the courts and the failure of Congress, particularly the Republican Senate, to address these issues.

We will be engaging in a summer of direct action in an effort to highlight the importance of this issue and what is needed to help turn it around.

For example, next week, a group of black African American women will be leading a week of action in D.C. that they hope will help give voice to the concerns of African American women and will help propel this issue to the front of people`s agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: A summer of direct action. He was speaking one week ago today here on this show, talking about a summer of direct action led by, he said last week, next week, a group of African American women leading a week of action in D.C.

The courts are increasingly closed to the American public on this issue. Republicans are ramming through restrictions in the states. Democrats can`t get it together because of people like Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. They can`t get it together to protect anybody from Washington.

And so, this -- this is the other way, direct action. This is the idea. This, it turns out, is the plan -- direct action to try to create a new way around what is otherwise an impenetrable political impasse.

And, of course, direct action doesn`t mean force. It doesn`t mean violence by any means. But it does mean physical action. It means demonstrations. It means tactical, personal action. It means showing up in a way that is designed to move people, to wake up their conscience, to make them see their incentives to act or not act differently than they did before -- nonviolent, direct action, and civil disobedience.

That was what we saw that same day last week at 112 degrees Fahrenheit in Phoenix, Arizona, outside the attorney general`s office, nine arrests at that protest. That`s what we saw in Arizona last week. That`s what we saw today in Washington, just as Wade Henderson told us we would see.

Today in Washington, D.C., the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Joyce Beatty, and a group of about 20 civil rights activists, mostly black women, they marched through the streets in D.C. to the U.S. Capitol.

This is Congresswoman Beatty in the front there in the blue blazer. Escorted by the congresswoman, the group entered one of the Senate office buildings this afternoon. When they walked in the door, the congresswoman took a second to really punctuate what they were doing there and what their intentions were.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOYCE BEATTY (D-OH): Today, we`re sending a strong message. We have black leaders from across the country, black leaders who marched with John Lewis. This is not about one generation. It`s about all generations.

[21:15:01]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

BEATTY: And today, we are represented by all generations. And that`s why today is important. Look at where we stand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

BEATTY: We stand in the United States Senate, places that we couldn`t work, we couldn`t even clean at one time. But today, black women say we`re not waiting. Black women say that we`re demanding our right to vote. And it starts today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: It starts today.

Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio, chair of the Black Caucus. She and her group started marching through the lobby, the atrium of the Senate office building, singing songs. You might recognize on the right there, in the Black Voters Matter t-shirt, LaTosha Brown who has been a guest on our show a number of times. Turns out she has amazing pipes, just a beautiful voice.

They made their way to the center of the building. They kept singing. Clapped. They asked the Senate to act to protect voting rights.

Capitol Police officers started warning them over a megaphone that they were all about to be arrested if they didn`t stop. As you can tell, their voices droned them out. That`s right about the time the singing turned into chanting. You can hear them saying, end the filibuster. End the filibuster. There`s all those police officers waiting in the wings. You know what`s coming.

Congresswoman Beatty started a chant of "pass the For the People Act. Pass the For the People Act," and you see that police officer off to the side readying the zip ties. That is when the arrests started.

Congresswoman Beatty was the first one arrested. As her hands were being put in zip ties, she started one more chant. She said, "Fight for justice." Congresswoman Beatty and eight others arrested today at the Capitol.

And the arrests gave us this sort of stunning image today. And others like it. The chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, her hands zip tied behind her back. A police officer with her belongings in a plastic bag, part of the processing for arrest.

Congresswoman Beatty has been processed. She`s since been released from police custody.

She released this statement this evening saying: I stand in solidarity with black women and allies across the country in defense of our constitutional right to vote. We have come too far and fought too hard to see everything systematically dismantled and restricted by those who wish to silence us. Be assured this is just the beginning.

That was today, direct action in Washington, D.C. there`s been a lot of talk, a lot of speechifying on voting rights, including that barnburner of a speech on voting rights from the president himself this week in Philadelphia.

But unless some new path is opened, we are heading into a very near future where not only is voting made significantly harder for all the communities least likely to cast votes for Republican candidates, but we`re headed into a next election soon in a whole new environment that we have never been in before.

We`re not only do we have new voting restrictions, but Republicans coast to coast are primed and eager to believe that election results are not real and objectively knowable, and election results should not count unless they win, where the administration of elections is taken over by partisans from that party who think the same way, where partisans who think that same way are newly empowered to handle not only the counting but disputes and rule changes and audits and recounts and certification or decertification of election results, especially ones that aren`t to their liking.

That is what we`re heading into for the next election, unless there`s some kind of federal action to backstop voting rights and the nonpartisan administration of elections. This massive effort from the Trump wing of the Republican Party to corrupt and it legitimize the 2020 election result, you think that`s a stand-alone effort? You think that only applies to 2020?

As that sort of desperate future gets closer and closer, and as the normal paths around it seem to be coming to dead ends, we are now seeing the phase in this fight where the people who care the most about it and are willing to do the most about it are trying to create brand-new paths to make progress possible. And they`re using direct action to do it.

We`re seeing that at scale with the Democrats from the Texas legislature all walking out of the state capitol in Austin and flying to Washington this week. They`re going to be in Washington for weeks away from their homes, away from their families, all to deny a quorum back home to slow down what the Republicans are trying to do to voting rights there, and of course, dramatizing by their very presence in Washington how much only federal help matters, how much only federal action can stop the country from sliding toward what we are sliding toward.

[21:20:13]

In a moment, just a moment, we`re going to speak with one of those Texas Democrats who met with conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin today. Fascinating, the confrontation between him being the man who is stopping progress on voting rights in America and the Texas Democrats who have left their homes and their jobs and come to Washington to beg for his help.

He came out of that meeting with the Texas Democrats today saying it was a good meeting, an informative meeting. He said that they were all in complete agreement that action must be taken in Washington to protect voting rights. He then said that every senator, Democrat and Republican, should vote, should vote for voting rights protections. That`s what he thinks should happen.

So there shouldn`t have to be a rule change or anything because it will be a 100-0 vote. Should be. That`s what he is hoping for, I guess.

And hope is good. Hope is excellent. Hope is life-giving. But hope is not a strategy.

As of right now, direct action is the last remaining strategy.

Joining us now is Melanie Campbell. She`s the president and CEO of the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation. She was one of the people who was arrested alongside Congresswoman Beatty today.

I should add that all of the women arrested today in that protest will be meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House tomorrow on the issue of voting rights.

Ms. Campbell, I`m sure this has been a long and intense day already. Thank you for staying up and being here with us tonight. Appreciate you being here.

MELANIE CAMPBELL, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATIONAL COALITION OF BLACK CIVIC PARTICIPATION: Thank you, Rachel. I`m always up watching you. So I`m good. Appreciate it.

MADDOW: That`s kind of you to say. I have to get you a Nielsen box quickly before this is over.

Let me just ask you about this experience today. This was a dramatic thing, at personal risk that you and your colleagues did today. How did you decide to do it, and how did it go?

CAMPBELL: Well, first of all, thank you again for the invitation to join you tonight. Actually, what sparked me and several others really to decide to organize around utilizing nonviolent civil disobedience, direct action, was really after the vote when the Senate, the ten senators would not even vote to debate voting rights. Not just the name of the bill but just the notion that you won`t even have a discussion.

And so, for us, that was like a line crossed to say that our voting rights can be shelved in this country, and that`s not okay. And so we knew we had to continue to engage, as I was in the meeting with my civil rights colleagues last week with President Biden and Vice President Biden (ph), but also, we also knew we needed to weigh in with the Senate.

And so, for us, we`re going to continue a summer of activism. Not just in Washington, D.C. but across this country. As you mentioned, my brother Wade Henderson, who was doing some actions around Congressman John Lewis` one- year anniversary of his passing.

As I come out -- I`m a daughter of the South, Rachel. I come out of a place in Mims, Florida, where Harry and Harriette T. Moore`s home was bombed, NAACP leaders, their home was bombed. Why? Because they were registering black people to vote.

So, it`s in my DNA, quite frankly. And I come out of Atlanta where I spent a lot of years with -- in the civil rights community. And so, we know that direction action is one of the tools that we must use when we can`t get our leaders to act.

And so, that`s part of our strategy. Not the only part of the strategy, but it is a part of the strategy.

MADDOW: I feel like Democrats in Washington have perfected the art of speaking on this issue, including, I think, the president deserves credit for an impassioned speech he gave earlier this week on it. They have not been able to translate that into action. As you say, direct action, the kind of direct action that you and your colleagues engaged in today, is another part of the strategy to try to push it, to try to get through this impasse.

I just have to ask, thinking about it tactically, the way that you are, being willing to put yourself out there the way you have, including today, looking ahead to those other elements of direct action that we`re expecting over the summer, are you hopeful? Are you optimistic? Do you see a path?

CAMPBELL: Yes, I do. I believe the one thing about it, history is a great teacher. And sometimes you can look at something and you say, my sister Reverend Dr. Bernice King, we were in a town hall this week, it`s part of our week of action.

[21:25:08]

And it`s always darkest before the dawn.

And so, if you believe in that, and we have faith in that, we were at the United Methodist building prior to going over to the Senate and spent a couple of hours with a speak-out with leaders from Georgia who helped make sure that the turnout happened in Georgia, the Texas legislators came by, and we had several of our organizations from across the gamut come together in unity to make sure that we`re clear that for us, voting rights is not -- it`s not an option to say we will go back to the 1940s, Rachel, because at the end of the day, for African-Americans in this country, we have always had to fight for our vote. We have always had to have federal intervention.

And so for us, to say, well, we don`t have enough votes, what does that mean? We risk our lives in 2020 to turn out the vote, in the middle of a pandemic. And so we expect for our leaders to lead. And so we`re going to continue to put the pressure on those leaders, and believe that at the end of the day, we will win.

Now, will we win tomorrow? I am sure not, but we`ll continue to fight until we win.

MADDOW: Melanie Campbell is the convener of the Black Women`s Roundtable, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and was arrested today alongside the chair of the Black Caucus, protesting for voting rights in the Senate office building.

Ms. Campbell, thank you for your time tonight.

CAMPBELL: Thank you.

MADDOW: I hope -- I hope you get a good night`s sleep after what I know has been a stressful and intense day. Thank you for being here tonight.

CAMPBELL: Thank you so much. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. Coming up next, as I mentioned, we`re going to be talking with one of those Democrats from Texas who has left her home state, left her family, left her job, came across the country to stop Republicans from what they`re doing against voting rights in Texas. To dramatize to the Senate, to dramatize to Washington that federal help is needed to try to stop what is otherwise happening at the hands of Republican legislatures and governors across the country.

She has an incredible story to tell. She met today with one of the Democratic senators who is standing in the way of Democrats protecting voting rights. She met today with Joe Manchin. She`ll tell us about that next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:31:35]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STATE REP. SENFRONIA THOMPSON (D-TX): I`m not up here to take a vacation in Washington, D.C. I`m not going to be a hostage, that my voters -- my constituents` rights will be stripped from them. We have fought too long and too hard in this country. These Republicans in this legislature may have changed the messiah. Jesus to Trump, but I haven`t.

And I`m going to make sure that everything that I can do that my constituents` rights will not be stripped from them because of what they believe in is a lie. Trump lost the election. And they need to tell the people of this country the truth. And if they won`t, I`m going to.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: And if they won`t, I`m going to. I believe her.

She is the dean of the Texas state Democratic Caucus. Her name is Representative Senfronia Thompson. She was elected to the Texas State House the year before I was born, in 1972. At the time, she was a single mother of three.

She managed to put herself through law school while also serving in the legislature. She became a lawyer. She opened her own solo practice. "Houston Chronicle" wrote about her in her nearly 50 years of lawmaking in the Texas House, Representative Thompson has been at the forefront of historic change. She led successful efforts to raise the minimum wage in her state. She helped ban racial profiling by police.

She forced insurance companies to cover advanced mammograms and HPV tests. She was the driving force behind Texas`s first alimony law, as well as a hate crimes bill in our state. Representative Senfronia Thompson is the longest serving African American woman in the history of the Texas legislature. She`s the longest serving woman of any race to ever serve in that body.

But this week, she has left Texas. She is a Texas institution who has left Texas along with her colleagues to slow down Republican efforts to restrict voting rights back home by denying them a quorum, and to push in Washington for federal help for new federal protections that would stop Republicans from what they`re trying to do to voting rights, what they`re trying to do to election administration, not only in Texas but everywhere.

Today, Senfronia Thompson was one of the Texas Democrats who met with Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, who stands almost alone in blocking Democratic efforts to protect voting rights for the American people. How do you think that went?

Joining us now is Democratic Texas State Representative Senfronia Thompson.

Representative Thompson, it`s a real honor to have you here tonight. Thank you so much.

THOMPSON: Thank you for letting me join you.

MADDOW: Let me just start by asking how the meeting went with Senator Manchin today.

THOMPSON: I thought it went well. We were able to have dialogue with him. And tell him about our plight in Texas and the urgency that we see in the federal government legislature up here passing the bill to protect voters` rights of Texans and Americans.

MADDOW: Senator Manchin came out of that meeting and said he was in total agreement with you and the other Democrats he met with on the need to protect voting rights. He said that he has an idea of legislation that should get support from every senator, that could get 100-0 bipartisan support.

[21:35:00]

I have to ask if he shared with you and your colleagues what that -- what that is. It sounds like -- it sounds wonderful, but it sounds a little like magic given the impasse that it feels like we`re otherwise at on this issue.

THOMPSON: I wish it was magic. But let me tell you, basically, he said we talked about the Voters Rights Act, and we talked about Section 5 and Section 2. And we talked about the bill that we have pending in our state legislature. And what his ideas were that he thought he could put guardrails around and pass and get enough support from the Senate to pass and be able to protect the voting rights of Americans.

MADDOW: How do you feel things have gone in these few days since you and your colleagues took this remarkable step, got on the planes in Texas and flew to Washington? Obviously, it has the practical effect of slowing down what`s going on at home with what the Republicans are trying to do, but you came to Washington also not just to get gone, but to make this case. The dramatic case that you`re making by your physical presence, that federal help is needed.

How has it been these past few days? How do you feel it`s going?

THOMPSON: Well, I think it`s going well. And the reason that we came, particularly the reason why I came, is when I go back to my childhood and the things that happened and I saw the struggle of African Americans in the state, and my state now is 84 percent people of color. And we`re back at square one almost in trying to protect a right that we have that all citizens have been given.

And we`re up here trying to make sure that the Republicans do not manipulate the law and strip away our voting rights to benefit themselves to stay in power. I think we have made some advancements in being able to advance our arguments as to why we think the Congress is the ideal place to ensure that all Americans participate and have a voice in their democratic process by voting.

MADDOW: Texas State Representative Senfronia Thompson, an institution in the Texas legislature and an unparalleled way, dean of the Texas House of Representatives and the Democrats, Representative Thompson, it`s an honor to have you here. I know you and your colleagues have really put yourself out at great personal inconvenience to do what you`re doing. Thank you for helping us understand, and I hope things go well in the days ahead.

THOMPSON: My pleasure.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:41:40]

MADDOW: This is the headline in "The St. Louis Post Dispatch" today. Quote: National Institutes of Health director most worried about Missouri`s COVID-19 spread compared to any other state.

And here it is in "The Washington Post": the delta variant is ravaging this Missouri city. Many residents are still wary of vaccines.

And then here`s "The Kansas City Star": these southwest Missouri counties are COVID hot spots, state advisory says.

That`s about this advisory warning that Missouri`s health department issues today as hospitalizations have spiked across the state. Counties in your region are experiencing a surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations.

You take a look at the bottom part of that map, you can see the southern part of Missouri is getting hit the hardest. Green County is among the worst of it. That`s where Springfield, Missouri, is.

The hospitals in Green County say they`re overrun now. They`re at capacity already with the influx of new sick patients still steeply rising. The CEO of Cox Health in Springfield said yesterday, quote, we are at our capacity. Mercy Hospital also in Springfield, they ran out of ventilators this month. They had to borrow from other hospitals.

They had been treating more than 130 patients every day since Sunday. And I know that`s an absolute value number, what does that mean? Well, for context, that`s more patients than they have ever treated before for COVID. That`s more patients than they treated daily during the big winter spike that everybody thought was the worst of it.

They`re treating more COVID patients in Springfield, Missouri, now than ever have before, and hospital administrators say over the next three to four weeks, they`re anticipating only higher and higher numbers in terms of the new daily influx.

Where will those patients go?

Springfield, Missouri, is running out of room for COVID patients already. They need a place to put the patients that are sure to come. As we talked about on the show last night, the county health department and local hospitals asked the state, asked the governor of Missouri, Republican Governor Mike Parson, to help them set up some kind of alternative care site in Springfield for COVID patients. They need somewhere to send COVID patients who are stable enough to move. They need to make room for the dire cases that are coming in in such great numbers now.

We checked in with the Springfield, Green County Health Department today about the status of their request after they made this public appeal yesterday for basically a new field hospital, a new care site to be set up by the state. They told us that the state hasn`t answered. Hasn`t yet given them any answer or a timeline for when they will make a decision.

But as the county health director put it yesterday when she announced the request, the request was pretty simple. What she said is, quote, we need help. Will they get it?

Joining us now is Dr. Robin Trotman, infectious disease physician at CoxHealth in Springfield, Missouri.

Dr. Trotman, it`s a pleasure to have you with us tonight. Thanks very much for taking time to be here.

DR. ROBIN TROTMAN, COXHEALTH MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF INFECTION PREVENTION: Well, thanks, Rachel. Thanks for having me on.

MADDOW: So we have been following what`s going on in your region, and at your hospital as best as we can from afar. I think the country`s eyes are increasingly on southwest Missouri and southern Missouri with concern about what`s happening there in terms of COVID cases, COVID hospitalizations, and hospital capacity.

What should the country know about the trouble you`re in right now?

[21:45:05]

TROTMAN: Well, this is -- this has been similar to our previous surge that we would have seen last year, only this was much more explosive. That`s the only word I can use. You know, we went from a lull in the spring to at capacity as far as staffing goes.

We were ready as far as our supplies and our physical beds. But what we didn`t have are the staff. That`s what stresses the system now, and that`s why some of our outlying hospitals, we have to transfer patients and can`t accept them to the main hospitals. So, those are our limits.

But really, the thing that has been most surprising is the age, the demographic of the patients. They`re much younger and they get sick quicker. And this really, we had a long lag time last year in the middle of the U.S., and this time, it really came up on us fast to where we went from 20 or 30 patients in the hospital to now, we`re full with 130 to 140 patients.

And the demographic is very different. It`s younger people, fewer comorbidities. You wouldn`t expect them to be so sick so quickly. So this is just kind of a warning to people around the country as you watch this delta variant evolve. You know, be ready to manage a different demographic of patients.

MADDOW: What kind of help do you need? We obviously saw that pretty dramatic request for help to the state that was made by the county health director and your hospital and another large hospital yesterday. They`re asking for an alternative care site to be set up, basically saying physically, things are maxed out. They need more space, more staffing, more funding for things like antibody treatments that if you can get them to people before they`re too sick to be in the hospital, sometimes that can alleviate the progression of the disease.

What kind of help do you need?

TROTMAN: So all of those are true. You know, probably priority one is a physical space to manage the less sick patients that are transitioning to home. It`s a lot different this time, you know, before we had a lot of senior citizens and maybe nursing home outbreaks and they had a disposition, a nursing home to go to. And in this case, you have younger people who maybe are a little too sick to go home and need a sort of halfway point for oxygen and minimum medical care.

Another big one is you hit at, the monoclonal antibody infusions. We`re probably not doing those as much as we would like due to logistics and staff. We filled up some units where we were infusing those and that has a backup for people with other urgent needs, broken bones and other illnesses.

The alternative care site was just proposed to the state in the last couple days. So, I know that it`s sitting on their desk, and they`re willing to help, and we have a good track record of collaborating and standing up other alternative care sites around the state. But yeah, we could use that physical space for the infusions, and we could use help with staff. At least until more of our traveling contract staff arrive.

MADDOW: Dr. Robin Trotman, infectious disease physician at CoxHealth in Springfield, Missouri -- again, the country is really looking at you with concern, both to learn the lessons but also really pulling for you and your staff at this difficult time. Thank you for your work. Thank you for helping us understand it.

TROTMAN: You`re welcome. Thank you for your time tonight.

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

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[21:52:34]

MADDOW: So, this is from the transcript. Lawyer addressing the judge, quote: seriously, this is what you think is worth the time and effort of all the lawyers, your staff on this proceeding?

The judge: I would caution you to not question my procedure. I`m here to question what you`ve done, sir. I`m here to evaluate.

Lawyer: and I am not a potted plant.

The judge: I`m here to evaluate.

Lawyer: I am not a potted plant. I will represent my client.

The judge: that is quite fine, but you don`t worry about what I`m doing at this point. You are here to answer my questions.

So that went well, then. This hearing went on like that for six hours on Monday this week, the start of this week, as a federal judge in Michigan called that hearing to determine whether nine pro-Trump lawyers should face sanctions, whether they should be punished by the court for the laugh-out- loud Trump lawsuit they brought last November, demanding that Michigan should be forced to give their electoral votes to Donald Trump even though Biden won the Michigan election.

The judge dismissed the actual lawsuit months ago, but now that same judge is deciding whether there ought to be consequences for these lawyers for using her courtroom to push lies and conspiracy theories with only made-up evidence to base it all on. And I say it`s made-up evidence because of the judge`s ascertainment.

The judge called the pieces of evidence they presented for this lawsuit, quote, fantastical and, quote, obviously questionable if not false on their face.

In one of the affidavits, they tried to submit as part of this case, a poll watcher said he felt the way ballots were being handled was, quote, perplexing.

In the hearing on Monday, the judge asks the potted plant lawyer, quote, and you think being perplexed by an observation is sufficient enough to get into court? It`s sufficient to support an affidavit. Do you feel that that constitutes evidentiary support, sir?

The lawyer: absolutely. In this case --

The judge: wow, okay.

The word "wow" only rarely comes up in trial transcripts and never from the judge.

Those lawyers could be in some trouble. They could ultimately face disbarment over their actions in that Trump case in Michigan.

But here`s something else to watch. Tomorrow morning, a whole different slate of pro-Trump lawyers are going to face their own totally separate sanctions hearing before a totally separate federal judge, this time in Colorado.

[21:55:02]

These are pro-Trump lawyers who filed their own lawsuit seeking to overturn the 2020 election. They brought their suit against the voting machine company Dominion and Facebook and Facebook`s CEO and his wife, and election officials in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. They were all in on it together. The deep plot to rig the election.

The best part is that these lawyers filed this suit as a class action. They named as their class of plaintiffs all 160 million registered voters in America, and they sought $1,000 per voter in damages. They sought $160 billion.

You`ll be shocked to hear that case was laughed out of court just like the one was in Michigan. But now, the people who are sued in that bananas case, Dominion and Facebook and Pennsylvania and Michigan, they`ve all asked the court to sanction those lawyers as well for bringing that ridiculous case, for using the court system for that purpose.

The state of Pennsylvania argues in their motion for sanctions against those lawyers, quote, the farfetched conspiracy theories being peddled here feed a dangerous narrative that the presidential election was somehow compromised. Election workers have been threatened because people believed that lie. People stormed the Capitol for the same reason. States have relied on these lies as the reason to change voting laws.

Appropriating a court`s legitimacy to package lies as legal claims and then legitimizing dangerous conduct based on those false legal claims is a vexatious use of litigation. Attorneys acted in bad faith by initiating this lawsuit. They should be sanctioned as a consequence.

Again, those attorneys, those pro-Trump attorneys have been ordered to appear before a federal judge in Colorado bright and early tomorrow morning.

Watch this space. I will certainly be watching that courtroom.

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[22:00:24]

MADDOW: That is going to do it for us tonight. Earlier in the show, we talked about Congresswoman Joyce Beatty and the dramatic arrest of the congresswoman tonight at the Senate office building in a protest over voting rights. We`re pleased to say that Congresswoman Beatty has been released from custody after being arrested today.

She has been processed, and she is out, and she is going to join our friend Lawrence O`Donnell right now on "THE LAST WORD."

So, Lawrence, I`m going to get out of the way because I am desperate to hear you talk with Congresswoman Joyce Beatty about her experience today.