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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 7/16/21

Guests: David Wallace-Wells, Denise Taylor, Jasmine Crockett, Pramila Jayapal, Timothy Snyder


COVID vaccine misinformation spreads as cases increase. COVID deaths rise as vaccine misinformation takes hold. Texas Democrats flee to D.C. to block state voting bill. Protesters urge Senate to pass voting rights legislation.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Solve that by spending the money we need.

DAVID WALLACE-WELLS, AUTHOR, THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH: I think one of the lessons of the events of the last week is that we do need to be spending a lot more money on adaption as well. People on the climate community I think have focused for a long time on decarbonization, which is critical, but we`re already - we`re sort of already unable to live in the world that we have today. And things are only going to get worse over the next few decades.

HAYES: Hannah Safford, David Wallace-Wells, thank you so much for your time tonight. That is all in for this week. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now with Ali Velshi in for Rachel. Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris, have yourself an excellent weekend. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Rachel`s got a much-deserved night off, but she will be back on Monday. And this woman says, she is a doctor, who was invited to speak to the Ohio legislature by a Republican lawmaker about the efficacy of the COVID vaccine. She was billed as a witness, the expert kind, an expert witness to help inform the legislature`s decision about whether to pass legislation around COVID vaccine. And this is how that went.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I`m sure you`ve seen the pictures all over the Internet of people who`ve had these shots, and now they`re magnetized and put a key on their forehead, it sticks. They can put spoons and forks all over them and they can stick because now we think that there`s a metal piece to that. There has been people who`ve long suspected that there was some sort of an interface yet to be defined in the interface between what`s being injected in these shots and all of the 5G towers not proven yet.


VELSHI: Not proven yet. The operative word there is yet. This came right after that testimony.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just found out something when I was on lunch, and I want to show it to you. We were talking about Dr. Tenpenny`s testimony about magnetic vaccine crystals. So, this is what I found out. So, I have a key and a bobby pin here. Explain to me why the key sticks to me. It sticks to my neck too. Yes, so if somebody can explain this, that would be great. Any questions?


VELSHI: You know what? No, I actually do not have any questions about whatever that was. Because the COVID vaccine does not make a metal key stick to your forehead or to your neck or to any other part of your body unless it`s a little bit sweaty. And while we`re at it, let`s just knock a few more out of these.

The COVID vaccine does not contain Satan`s microchips. It does not turn humans into hybrids, it will not spread communism, it will not give you mad cow disease, it will not kill everyone and decimate the world`s population. And if you interact with a vaccinated person, it will not affect your menstrual cycle.

The COVID vaccine will not turn you into a biological time bomb carrying a Coronavirus super strain and I know, I know, these are just some of the fringiest of the fringe reasons why people are hesitant to get the COVID vaccine. Vaccine hesitancy comes in all shapes and sizes. So not just nutty conspiracies, maybe you`re afraid of needles, maybe you`re afraid you`ll get sick, and you`ll have a bad reaction. But whether you think the COVID vaccine will imbue you with the microchips of Satan, or whether you`re just scared or skeptical.

The refusal by millions of people in this country to get vaccinated against COVID is a very bad, very scary, very dangerous thing right now in America because for the first time in months, we are seeing a steep rapid rise in new COVID cases.

Positive tests are up 121 percent in the last two weeks, hospitalizations are up 26 percent, deaths are up 9 percent, new cases are on the uptick in all 50 states. COVID-19 is still killing more people in this country than guns, the flu and automobile accidents combined. It is a triggering thing, given what we`ve just been through as a country to see declarations of a fourth wave about to come crashing down on us.

But of course, this time, we are not all equally vulnerable. Because this time, we have vaccines. The more than 160 million people who`ve been fully vaccinated remain at a significantly lower risk of contracting a serious case of COVID one that could land them in the hospital or potentially kill them. And the real-time data bears that out of all the people currently hospitalized for COVID in this country right now, all of them. 97 percent are unvaccinated.

For all intents and purposes, vaccinated people in this country are not experiencing the pandemic like the unvaccinated are. Both the president and the head of the CDC both remarked on the dual nature of this phase of the pandemic, the president in particular blasting Facebook for offering Safe Harbor to some of those conspiracy theories that are encouraging vaccine hesitancy. Watch this.



DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated. We are seeing outbreaks of cases parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk.

PETER ALEXANDER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: On COVID misinformation, what`s your message to platforms like Facebook?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They`re killing people. I mean they really, look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated and that`s - they`re killing people.


VELSHI: We are at this bizarre juncture of the pandemic right now. It`s a split in the American experience. On Earth one, on planet vaccine, we`re going to go to the grocery store without masks, we`re having barbecues with our friends. We`re eating indoors at restaurants without fear, but on earth two in the parts of the country where most people are unvaccinated. People continue to get sick; they`re going to the hospital; they continue to die of COVID and that is not just a danger to those people who are unvaccinated. It is a danger to everyone.

The vaccine hesitancy on earth too has the potential to compromise all of the hard fought progress that we`ve made here on earth one. Take a look at Los Angeles, LA County, the largest in the country announced that beginning tomorrow, mask wearing will once again be mandatory while indoors, not just for people who are unvaccinated, for everyone.

The County Health Commissioner calling it an all hands on deck moment with COVID on the steep rise in LA. We have similar news out of Las Vegas tonight with less than half of that state fully vaccinated. Vegas health officials are recommending that everyone start wearing masks to get in crowded indoor places, regardless of their vaccination status.

Every time the virus duplicates, that provides more chances for new variants to emerge, variants that could be resistant to the vaccine. Vaccine hesitancy is a threat, not just to the unvaccinated, it`s a threat to all of us. As long as, there are unvaccinated pockets of the population that presents a feeding ground for the virus to take hold.

Let`s take for example, the state of Mississippi, new cases are up 95 percent in Mississippi over the last two weeks, hospitalizations are up 79 percent, only 34 percent of Mississippians are fully vaccinated, they are tied for last place with the smallest proportion of their population fully vaccinated.

States with low vaccination rates like Mississippi are and will continue to be in dire straits until and until more people get vaccinated. That`s going to take work. It`s going to take creativity; it`s going to take someone like Denise Taylor. Denise Taylor used to be a professional basketball coach. She was the head coach of the women`s team at Jackson State for 10 seasons. She went on to be a coach for the WNBA.

These days, she works in health care, she runs an operation for a clinic in the western part of the state. And right now, she`s doing something in Mississippi that quite honestly could be the playbook anywhere struggling to get people vaccinated. Ms. Taylor is essentially a one woman traveling sales force trying to sell the vaccine across her community to people who haven`t gotten it. She essentially drives around looking for pockets of unvaccinated neighbors having personal one-on-one conversations to convince people to get the shot.

Yesterday for instance, she went to a conference for teachers to talk to as many educators as she could about the importance of boosting Mississippi`s vaccination rate before the school year starts. Ms. Taylor says she talked to this one teacher for a full half an hour. Watch this.


DENISE TAYLOR, CLINIC OPERATIONS MANAGER, DELTA HEALTH CENTER: Say that again, tell me. So, you`re going to do what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m going to get vaccinated.

TAYLOR: Why are you getting vaccinated?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because of you, because you really stressed the importance. It`s OK, it`s safe. And if I want to make an investment in my family, I need to do it. And my students. And I thought about, with this new variant, that the youth - most of the deaths and people being in the ICU are the youths - so I can`t imagine bringing it to my students or having a student share it. And school is about to start so, going to get vaccinated.

If I get vaccinated, it`s probably about a hundred people that`s going to get vaccinated. Because they were looking to me for advice. And because I wasn`t vaccinated, they well, I`m not vaccinated. That they would have been very hesitant to do it. So, I`m pretty confident it will be more to follow.

TAYLOR: Will you update me, will you let me know how many people you get vaccinated? OK?


TAYLOR: Thanks.


VELSHI: The program run by Denise Taylor`s clinic has gotten more than 700 people in the communities they serve vaccinated.


How is she doing this? And why are we not doing it everywhere? Joining us now, Denise Taylor, operations manager at the Delta Health Center in mound by you Mississippi, look at that smile on your face. That is exactly how you should be looking.

TAYLOR: Vaccination time. What time is it? Vaccination time.

VELSHI: That is exactly right. You have made it vaccination time for a whole bunch of people who were not going to do it. I have to say on one hand, Denise, it doesn`t seem like the most efficient way of doing it. But it seems remarkably effective. You`re getting out there, spending half an hour if you have to talk to someone and she comes away, not only ready to get a vaccination, but ready to tell she said 100 people to get vaccinated?

TAYLOR: Absolutely. That was so awesome, man. Again, it just - my heart just start beating like so fast. I was, I was just so pleased to hear that when she - I talked to her yesterday. And then today, she was like, I`m going to do it. So, it makes a difference.

VELSHI: Talk to me about what it is that makes a difference? Can anybody go up to anybody? Or what is it you had to understand about this person that allowed you to speak her language, to speak to her own fears to overcome her resistance in order to get her to say, I`m moving from vaccine hesitant or vaccine resistant into a vaccine salesperson, frankly.

TAYLOR: First of all, it`s a no judgment zone. When I approach people, it`s like, you meet them where they are, and their fears, their hesitation, it`s real, because I was hesitant. So, the blueprint is, is just that one-on-one face-to-face contact, and to communicate, and educate them on why. I always ask like, why. And once they told me why then that`s where the communication come in, and the education come in and answering their questions.

And I think that`s the blueprint, like meet people where they are, and answer their questions. And, educate them to trust the science. Look at the facts, trust your providers, and just meet them where they are, because and let them know, it`s OK to be scared. It`s OK to be hesitant. But once you educate them, it makes a big difference.

VELSHI: There`s a wonderful woman a doctor in Philadelphia, Dr. Ala Stanford, and she`s been making the same argument to me, she says, for all the government campaigns and the Twitter campaigns, the social media campaigns, they`re good, they have the right information. But actually, it is something about going to people`s communities, meeting them where they are. Sometimes that means churches, it means community centers, it means barbershops, it means out there and having that conversation on their terms.

If they`re vaccine hesitant, they`re not coming to your hospital, they`re not necessarily coming to your clinic.

TAYLOR: Absolutely. I mean, you`ve got to - just like the missionary, you go in the streets, and you talk to people, and it`s like, hey, there`s not one person that I meet no matter where I go to the gas station, to the convenient store, to the grocery store. Have you been vaccinated, and if they say no, I say why? And then that`s when the conversation start.

And I say, and I let them know, it`s OK, because I was hesitant too, and then you listen to them. And then now you`re able to answer their questions and give them the feedback to educate them, and to inform them on the questions and the concerns that they have. And so, I think, you`ve got to be in a no judgment zone with them, and kind of put yourself in their shoes, because it`s real, that they are, they are scared, some of them are scared of needles.

Some of them, there`s a transportation problem. Some of them is just a misinformation, they`ve read so much information, that they`re confused. And so, I just listen. And it`s sometimes it`s 45 minutes. It`s even been an hour. But you know what, once you listen, and you ask them questions, and they feel good about it, then they make that decision to take the vaccine. And so that`s the charge that I give to everyone, all of the teachers, the coaches, the leaders, the people that they trust is that you meet them.

VELSHI: So, Denise, you need to do a masterclass or a TED talk or something like that for the rest of us to help us understand how to do it, because I hear you, I hear everything you`re saying, it all makes sense. But I wonder if I`m in the midst of this conversation with someone at what point I`m going to feel like throwing up my hands and say, you know what, I`m done with you. There is no talking to you.


You`re stubborn, you`re getting your garbage information from Facebook, and I have to go have lunch or something.

How do you get past that part? Because we all hit that zone with someone where you feel like saying you`re speaking nonsense now, and I don`t know how to continue this conversation.

TAYLOR: It`s the patience. I have a nephew, I talked to him for 45 minutes. And he moved from like, first base to second base. Because at first it was like, no way, then he said, OK, I`m going to consider it. So, we have to be patient. And we have to understand that these are real fears that people have, these are real concerns that they have. And then some people, we`re here in the Mississippi Delta, what I found is that some people do listen to some misinformation. But some people are not capable of reading and understanding, the information that`s out there.

So, it`s important. It`s important for us, the people that they trust that we help them to understand and explain, facts. And so that`s the other thing that I thought, especially here in the Mississippi, Delta, everybody can`t read. And everybody can`t understand all the information that`s out there. So, when you listen to them, and you meet them where they are, trust me, it makes a difference. And that`s where the success has come from, is that you empathize, and you understand, and you answer their questions.

VELSHI: All right, you put more gas in my tank for this one, I`m ready now. They`re going to be a name for people like you in 25 years, when we`re talking about how - at the end of this pandemic, we still had people who weren`t getting vaccinated, there was no way to get through to them. The government took ads out and all that. And they`re going to tell the story of people like Denise Taylor who said, I`m going to go into every bayou, in every corner of every state and every church, and we`re going to find people. I want to get this done, Denise, thanks for all you do.

Denise Taylor, Coach T. Now you understand why they call it that.

TAYLOR: In the house. What time is it? Vaccination time. Hey, let`s win this game of this vaccination game. You know, let`s shoot a shot. And let`s go plus, in our community, every one of you, you and you, all of us can make a difference. So, our challenge in every coach, every leader, every superintendent, every athletic director, every student athlete, first of all, start with your family, your family, your friends, your coworkers, and each one of us and we get one person, and this one person today that you get to take the vaccine, that`s a win for all of us.

So, now we can start watching basketball games, we can continue to hug people, and kids can go to school and get that socialization that they need. So, I`m asking everybody to join this campaign. Let`s shoot the shot. Let`s win this vaccination game. Let`s do it.

VELSHI: Thank you.

TAYLOR: Vaccination time. Yes.

VELSHI: She is the operations manager at the Delta Health Center. I`m fully vaccinated. I feel like getting another vaccination after this whole thing. Thank you, ma`am for all that you do. Thank you for your time. Tonight, we are going to be right back with The Rachel Maddow Show.




VELSHI: Startling image to see the head of the Congressional Black Caucus zip tied and led away by the police. But it is an image that reflects a long tradition of black leaders causing good trouble to protect voting rights in America. I`m referring to yesterday when chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty and eight other voting rights activists were arrested at the Hart senate office building.

They were protesting the lack of momentum on two big voting rights bills in the Senate. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act. Today, Vice President Kamala Harris hosted some of those activists at a meeting at the White House to push the issue further. We are now five days into a dramatic act of civil disobedience by the Democratic members of the Texas State Legislature.

On Monday, 51 Democratic state representatives literally left the state to deny Republican state legislators the quorum that they would need to pass anti-voting legislation. The governor of Texas has since said that as soon as they step foot back in the state, they will be arrested. And all of this, this civil disobedience, all of this good trouble is somewhat cosmically timed.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the death of the civil rights leader, the former congressman John Lewis, whose acts of good trouble that helped bring around the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Tomorrow, the official ceremony honoring Louis will be the christening of the USNS John Lewis, a 742-foot- long navy ship.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will lead a congressional delegation to San Diego to participate in the christening. That will honor the former congressman`s legacy. In a less official manner. Protegees of John Lewis like the Congresswoman Joyce Beatty are calling for some more good trouble in his name on voting rights and there will be vigils around this country from Georgia to New York to North Carolina to Texas, to honor the late congressman and to carry his torch for democracy.

Specifically, the protesters who were arrested yesterday, and the Texas representatives who are holed up in D.C. and the Americans holding vigils across the country, they are calling for voting rights legislation at the federal level. Without legislation at the federal level voters in Republican controlled states all across the country might be out of luck, which means all eyes are on moderate swing votes.


Senators like Joe Manchin, who have the power to act at any point they want to protect the right to vote by agreeing to carve out voting rights from the Senate filibuster rules, which would allow voting rights protections to pass with a simple majority in the Senate without needing 10 Republicans to sign on. That`s all it will take.

Tonight, while 51 Texas Democrat representatives are in D.C. to plead with senators, like Manchin, Manchin himself has flown to Texas for a fundraiser held by, are you sitting down for this prominent Republican donor, which seems to me, like just the opposite of good trouble.

Joining us now is one of the Democratic state`s representatives currently in D.C. Representative Jasmine Crockett. Representative Crockett, thank you for being with us tonight. You are in a state that over the last 50 and 65 years, we have not often had the chance to talk to someone and you are actually in a state of civil disobedience right now, you have left your state so that you will not be arrested by the sergeant at arms as assigned by the governor of Texas. So, you cannot be brought back to the legislature to be present and establish a quorum for legislation that will pull back on the voting rights of your fellow Texas citizens.

REP. JASMINE CROCKETT (D-TX): Yes, that`s absolutely right. First of all, thank you so much for having me. And thank you so much for covering the story. You know, it is quite disappointing that we are coming up on the year anniversary of John Lewis, someone who gave up so much of himself for the purpose of voting rights. Yet, instead of honoring his legacy and his sacrifice, we`re actually rolling back the hands of time, back the hands of time to a time in which he felt it necessary to march in Selma. You know, it`s unfortunate, in addition to that, that you see someone like Congresswoman Beatty, who was arrested. And you juxtapose that with January 6th, and the number of criminals that still have not been arrested.

And then you want to talk about lawmakers in Texas, and the threats, the empty threats, let me be clear, that our governor is sending out about arresting us. It`s amazing who we want to arrest in this country. We`re doing everything that we can to fight for democracy. But we don`t want to arrest those that are breaking the law, that are killing people, that are doing the things that they claim, the Black Lives Matter protesters were doing. They were actually rioting, insurrectionist, but we want to arrest duly elected Congress persons and state representatives.

VELSHI: Let me ask you about Texas, and voting, Texas is one of the hardest states in which to vote, they simply don`t make something easy that we should make easy. Texas has no examples of widespread voter fraud. Texas has virtually zero examples of any voter fraud, and the very things that this legislation is meant to pull back on 24-hour voting, drive through voting helping people get to the polls, none of them are at all connected to any instances of voter fraud in Texas.

In other words, there is no argument that if you take away drive through voting, you take away 24-hour voting fraud in Texas elections will decrease.

CROCKETT: No, you`re absolutely right. I mean, what you`re trying to apply logic, right. I determined that there is no logic in the legislature, at least the Texas Legislature, this is all about a power grab. You know, that`s what people need to understand. They need to understand the full context of what`s going on. Texas already makes it harder than every other state to vote. We simply say we want nice things in Texas, too, right?

When we look at the majority of states, 36 states plus D.C. have online voter registration. We had a number of bills that were filed this session saying, hey, give us online voter registration, which has nothing to do with fraud whatsoever, right? We`re talking about the registration process. And guess what, we couldn`t get a hearing on something as simple as voter registration. Being online.

We also deal with in Texas, them saying, hey, you know what, we`re going to expand the number of hours that you can vote. Really what happens in our code and most codes is that there is a minimum standard that`s developed within the code that says, hey, you have to have at least this many hours. Well, what happened is we had a millennial who was in control of the elections during a pandemic, who thought outside the box, he expanded the hours.

So, some people say, well, we don`t have 24-hour voting. So why is Texas so upset? Well, most states don`t set a maximum. And Texas is trying to tell everyone else in the country. If you don`t have a maximum, you need to make sure that you do that.


But just like that I tell the people all the time you may not have 24-hour restaurants when you go to a small town, but when you go to the big cities, you`re going to have restaurants that are open 24 hours a day.

And if you can go and grab McDonald`s 24 hours a day, I don`t know why it`s so problematic for you to be able to vote 24 hours a day if your elections administrator feels as if there`s the need, and the money is there to make it happen.

VELSHI: Representative Crockett, have you ever been arrested?

CROCKETT: I have not.

VELSHI: Are you prepared to be arrested because you may be very shortly.

CROCKETT: I`m prepared to do whatever is required. You know, I am only the 22nd black woman ever elected in the Texas House. The first ever elected black woman is actually here with us, Senfronia Thompson. And so when we look at the numbers, and I know the sacrifice that someone like Senfronia has made throughout the years to pave the way for somebody like me, there are plenty of people that died, that fought that were beat.

The least that I could do is give everything that I`ve got because I was elected to serve the people of House District 100. And that`s exactly what I`m doing. Whatever the sacrifice may be, it pales in comparison to what those that came before me were actually willing to do. I`m doing my part.

So that little girls like the little one that showed up to my office this week, the four-year-old child whose mother brought her in, doesn`t have to keep fighting this fight. It`s ridiculous. The John Lewis is dead right now yet we`re still fighting for the very things that he was fighting for when he was in his 20s.

VELSHI: You`d be proud of the good trouble that you and your colleagues are getting into Texas State Representative Jasmine Crockett, thank you for your time tonight.

CROCKETT: Thank you so much.

VELSHI: So, if you are eagle-eyed you might notice that I`m not in New York tonight. Instead, I`m in Portland, Oregon. More on why I`m here after this.




VELSHI: This is not a joke. This is not a drill. This is for real for the first time in years. It really is about to be infrastructure week. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has announced that on Wednesday next week, the United States Senate will likely hold its first big vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill being negotiated by a group of moderate Democrats and Republicans in the Senate.

At the same time Schumer has also made Wednesday the deadline for Senate Democrats to finalize their much bigger $3.5 trillion infrastructure package. That means next week, we should finally be able to see what`s in both of those bills and have a better gauge on the likelihood of them passing.

Right now those two proposals appear to be on radically different paths. The bipartisan bill appears to have hit a snag after Republicans refused to accept Democrats` best plan for funding the bill because it would have meant collecting more taxes from rich people.

Republicans tanking a bipartisan proposal because they don`t want to make rich people pay more taxes, who could have seen that one coming? As lawmakers scramble to try and save that bipartisan bill, Democrats appear to be making much better progress on their larger package, which does not require any Republican support.

This week, Senator Joe Manchin, one of the key Democratic swing votes indicated that when it comes to the Democrats only much larger infrastructure package, he`s ready to be a team player, I want it to proceed, Manchin told a reporter for the Hill, adding that he wants to be part of the negotiations on a reconciliation bill.

Like with everything in the infrastructure debate, nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to. And if you think you know what the end result of all of this is going to be, then I`ve got a bridge to sell you and maybe a few roads and tunnels to all of which may be in need of repair.

But for now, Democrats appear ready to go big or go home with their larger bill. It could include everything from sweeping climate change legislation, to immigration reform, to measures that would make it easier to form a union and that is on top.

On top of the already ambitious proposals on child care, health care, other human infrastructure that President Biden rolled out as part of his infrastructure agenda three months ago. Today, the Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg traveled to Chicago to push for the administration`s infrastructure agenda.

Just before that event, I sat down with Secretary Buttigieg here in Oregon to discuss the Senate`s two track approach to infrastructure. And what he thinks of the bill that Senate Democrats are putting together which takes a broader view of infrastructure than Republicans do.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: The idea that Americans ought to have paid parental leave, just like people in pretty much every other country, I think, is something that you don`t have to be a Democrat or Republican to believe. And by the way across the country, most people think we ought to do it`s in Washington, that there seems to be a problem.

Now, early on in this debate, if you remember a few months ago, when we were talking about human infrastructure, I heard a lot of Republicans saying, oh, you know, childcare is great. Building veterans hospitals is great. We just don`t think its infrastructure. So you should put it in a different package. Fine, now it`s in a different package. Let`s see if they`ll vote for it now.


VELSHI: Yes, we shall see. By the way, you can catch the full interview with Secretary Buttigieg this weekend on my show "Velshi". But as the White House and the Senate Democrats begin to coalesce around a plan or a set of plans, there`s still one other group whose input and support will be key to passing these major proposals and that group is House Democrats.

Joining with us now is Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Chair of the House Progressive Caucus, which is sure to play a big role in deciding what kind of infrastructure deal can pass in the House? Congressman, good to see you it`s nice to be in your part of the country.

You heard that conversation with the Transport Secretary.


He`s prepared to do the easy low hanging fruit transport side of the bill, the bridges, the roads, the buses, and the stuff that Republicans and Democrats can generally agree to.

But he`s talking about the fact that there is a much bigger, much more interesting bill that has a much broader and more modern view of what infrastructure actually is. And a lot of those things are things that you support.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): That`s right, exactly Ali. I mean, this is the opportunity for us to invest in all the things that are going to make Americans feel differently about their lives, not just the fact that they`re going to have good green jobs and highways and roads and transit that we`re going to take on climate change in a real significant way.

But also, that we can get women back to work, that families have childcare, that people have health care. These are really significant pieces. They are populist, they are popular, and they are necessary. And that`s why I think this big reconciliation package has so much support from Republicans, Independents and Democrats, because it is so necessary for us to allow Americans to have hope and opportunity again, where they wake up every morning, and they feel differently about their lives and livelihoods.

VELSHI: But you make an interesting point. It`s got so much support amongst Republicans and Democrats, not Republicans in Congress or the Senate to the same degree. What do you do about that? Americans get it, Americans get that all of these things are something that makes their lives better, their working lives better, their home lives better.

There are still some Republicans who are caught on an old-fashioned view of infrastructure being bridges, roads, tunnels, planes, buses.

JAYAPAL: Well, that`s why we`re going to do this without Republicans. We`re doing this as a reconciliation bill, this will be a budget resolution that just needs 50 Democrats in the Senate, and I hope we get some Republicans with us. We certainly will try to do that. If they`re listening to their constituents, they`ll vote for it.

But Ali, you know, not a single Republican voted for the American rescue plan, a rescue plan that put money in people`s pockets, shots in arms, got kids back to school, and these Republicans were nowhere to be found. So, we`ll do it by ourselves if we need to do it that way, because we can through budget reconciliation.

So that is why the Progressive Caucus has been so clear. And I`ve been on the show with Rachel before saying we said we were not going to move a bipartisan bill, unless we had the reconciliation bill agreed to and voted on at the same time, and that it had to contain our five most important priorities for the Progressive Caucus.

I am happy to report that those five priorities are in the bill. We are still working out the details of the numbers, which will be a long fight. I don`t want to minimize that. But this is a significant step forward with the $3.5 trillion proposal that the Senate has settled on.

VELSHI: Congresswoman, thank you for joining us tonight. As I said, it`s fun being on the West Coast. We`re going to finish the show. It`s still going to be time for dinner out here in Oregon, but good to see you as always.

I have to say I always appreciate it because you join me early in the morning and boy that`s painful in this time zone. So, thanks for being here. Washington Congressman Pramila Jayapal, Chair of the House Progressive Caucus.

All right up next, our nation`s top military official says he was worried about a Trump coup. How seriously should we take that and is that threat over? I`ve got just the person to ask after this.




VELSHI: This week, we learned that in the final weeks of Donald Trump`s presidency, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley was so worried that Trump might attempt some kind of coup to stay in power that Milley was making plans with other U.S. military leaders about how they would block an order from the president if he attempted to use the military to remain in office.

Those revelations are contained in a new book due out next week from "Washington Post" Reporters Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker. Here`s one excerpt MSNBC is obtained ahead of the book`s publication next week, "A student of history Milley saw Trump as the classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose. He described a wage that he kept having his stomach churning feeling that some of the worrisome early stages of 20th century fascism in Germany were replaying in 21st century America".

He saw parallels between Trump`s rhetoric of election fraud and Adolf Hitler`s insistence to his followers at the Nuremberg rallies, that he was both a victim and their savior. "This is a Reichstag moment, Milley told aides, the gospel of the furor".

Now, there`s an inherent shock in hearing the country`s top military leader comparing the U.S. President to Hitler, but it`s worth drilling down on this a little bit because according to the new reporting, Mark Milley wasn`t just casually throwing around Nazi references as epithets to disparage President Trump.

He was using historical context. This wasn`t a case of Trump is bad, so I`ll call him Nazi named Milley saw a very specific historical analogy in what Donald Trump was doing. In February of 1933 the German parliament building the Reichstag in Berlin went up in flames.

German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, who up until that point had attained power by democratic means, blamed the communists and said it was the beginning of a terror campaign by the left. On that premise, his government proceeded to suspend constitutional rights, giving Hitler the power to rule by Fiat and Germany literally turned from a democratic to an authoritarian state.

In the weeks after the November election, Milley feared that Donald Trump was creating his own version of the Reichstag Fire and Emergency that justifies the suspension of the rules that demands an authoritarian response. The election was rigged and stolen by shadowy left wing forces.


Therefore, we must stop the counting of the votes. We must suspend democracy. Milley feared the Trump would attempt to use the military to achieve this suspension of democracy; instead he took the form of an insurrection that sought to stop the certification of an election, an insurrection that succeeded for a few hours but ultimately failed.

And given that it failed, given that Trump did leave office and democracy did prevail, it is tempting to leave this all behind us to read Carol Leonnig and Phil Ruckers` book as a kind of an historical artifact reporting on a period of our history that is thankfully behind us except it is not over.

Donald Trump has never had more of an iron grip over the Republican Party than he does right now. That framing so alarmed Mark Milley that the election was stolen, the results should be thrown out and Trump should be reinstalled as President. That is basically the Republican platform for the 2020 elections right now.

Up and coming GOP candidates have to swear fealty to the notion that Trump is the real president. Just yesterday, the House Republican Leader made a pilgrimage to Trump`s New Jersey golf club to kiss his ring. When Republican voters are asked who they want to be the 2024 GOP Presidential Nominee.

Trump wins by a mile and Republicans are enacting voting restrictions and stripping power from nonpartisan election officials so they can attempt to make sure they win elections one way or another. Joining me now is one of the most perceptive thinkers on this subject.

Tim Snyder, Professor of History at Yale University. His books include "On Tyranny: 20 lessons from the 20th century" 20 lessons from the 20th century. Tim Snyder, Professor Snyder, good to see you tonight.

I want to - one of the reasons I want to talk to you is because of an essay that you wrote barely a month into the Trump Administration back in 2017, titled "The Reichstag Warning" in which you write, the Reichstag fire shows how quickly a modern Republic can be transformed into an authoritarian regime. The American Founding Fathers knew that the democracy they were creating was vulnerable to an aspiring tyrant who might seize upon some dramatic event as grounds for the suspension of our rights.

As James Madison nicely put it tyranny arises, "On some favorable emergency". So I want to get your response, Professor Snyder to this reporting about what General Milley feared in the last days of the Trump Administration?

TIMOTHY SNYDER, YALE UNIVERSITY HISTORY PROFESSOR: Well, my personal response is that I`m grateful that General Milley reads history. And I think the broad significance of all this is that our leaders and our aspiring leaders should be reading history.

There are two really important references in what you decided the first is "Federalist Paper 48", in which Madison who himself thought very historically recognized how fragile Republics are and recognize that people would want to overturn them will use a real or in the case of Mr. Trump, this time, an artificial emergency.

And the second important reference is the Reichstag Fire. And again, I think General Milley was right to be thinking in those directions, this idea that Mr. Trump was a victim, and therefore because he was a victim, everything was permitted that is familiar from fascism and using something to do with the parliament.

In this case, our Congress as the pretext is also familiar with the idea that he lost the election and something dramatic had to happen to Parliament. That`s terribly familiar. So I`m grateful that General Milley is referring to history. I think that`s very important.

VELSHI: One of the things you told Dana Milbank, this week, the Journalist Dana Milbank is that a failed coup is practice for a successful coup. Your view is not that this insurrection failed. We`re glad it failed. And now we know a lot better. You`re worried that to the people who were inspired by to do what they did on January 6, they remain inspired.

SNYDER: We`re now working within the framework of a big lie. And one of the things I was trying to explain last fall is that once Mr. Trump makes this big claim that he actually won the election, we`re going to have a polarized society, we`re going to have one political party, which makes it their single issue, which is basically what`s happened.

So long as we`re in that framework of a big lie, we can expect one of the political parties to try to rig the system because after all, if you tell people that the other side cheated, you`re basically promising your people that you`re going to cheat as well. And this scenario is now playing out with voter suppression.

With the culture wars, we get ourselves to a scenario where in 2024, the Republican candidate could lose by a lot, let`s say 10 million votes, and you could still rig up some kind of electoral college majority and then we`d be in a position of much greater tension, sadly, than we were in 2021.

VELSHI: You were talking to us a lot last fall about this. And it`s sad because the things you were saying seemed exaggerated didn`t seem big, and yet every last one of them has come to pass. What are you worried about? Do you think that we`re going to be stuck in this situation heading into 2022 and 2024 elections or do you think there`s some way to understand this to be students of history and not let this continue?


SNYDER: Look, I mean, as I said at the top that the encouraging thing is that some people listen to history. And if you compare 2016 to 2020, I mean, I was saying the same thing. So you`re kind enough to remember for four years, but there was a difference between how Americans reacted in 2020, to how they react in 2016?

In 2016, we were very much in the mode of saying, we`re exceptional or institutions are going to save us. In 2020 there are an awful lot of people who are thinking actively thinking ahead, but also thinking historically and making preparations for worst case scenarios. And those preparations are in fact, what saved us.

So the institutions only save us if we make those institutions live, if we care about them if we act for them. So I`m either a pessimist or an optimist. I think that the possible dark, the possible dark scenarios are very much with us; we could very well lose our democracy in the next four years. But I`m also - I`m pleased that people are paying more attention to history.

And I think if we understand that America is not outside of history, that things that have happened elsewhere, can happen here in various forms. If we understand that, then we`ve got a fighting chance.

VELSHI: Well, neither an optimist nor pessimists, but we are keeping you very close for the next couple of election cycles. Timothy Snyder is an Author and a Yale University History Professor, thank you for being with us tonight. And for all those other nights in which you informed us about how we need to be looking at what`s going on today through the lens of history? We`ll be right back.