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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 7/26/21

Guests: Jamie Raskin, Rachel Villanueva, LaTosha Brown


Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a member of the January 6 Select Committee, is interviewed. The Justice Department has issued an opinion that says that federal law does not prohibit businesses or agencies from imposing COVID vaccine mandates. The Poor Peoples Campaign is ramping up its season of moral direct action on voting rights.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Beto O`Rourke and Imani Perry, thank you so much for that. I really appreciate it.

That is ALL IN on this Monday night.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now with Ali Velshi in for Rachel.

Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHII, MSNBC HOST: Chris, have yourself a good evening, and a great show. Thank you, sir.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Rachel`s got the night off.

The date was March 9th, 1974. It was a Saturday, which is a little weird because you don`t think of big things going down in federal court on a Saturday.

And this is big. It was really, really big. In fact, nothing like it had ever happened before. A whole bunch of top associates of the president of the United States had to march into court that day to plead not guilty to a whole bunch of federal crimes.



Seven men who were once the most powerful of President Nixon`s administration and reelection campaign were arraigned in federal court in Washington today. Each of them pleaded not guilty to charges brought as a result of the Watergate cover-up in the break-in at Daniel Ellsberg psychiatrist.

REPORTER: The first defendant, Robert Mardian, arriving in the darkness of the underground garage. Some several hundred peoples have gathered, some came to watch and others to demonstrate.

Campaign lawyer, now defendant Kenneth Parkinson arrived. Then, former Attorney General John Mitchell. There were cheers for Charles Colson and the president`s former top aide, H.R. Haldeman. John Ehrlichman, almost hidden from view. And former Haldeman aide, Gordon Strong, and his lawyer arriving almost unrecognized.

And one by one, sandwiched among their ten lawyers, the defendants responded to the charges. Mitchell first loudly, not guilty all counts. Mardian, not guilty. Colson, not guilty. Ehrlichman, not guilty. Haldeman, not guilty. And Parkinson and Strong, not guilty.

When Mitchell left, he was taunting with cries of "traitor" and "go to jail" and the phrase "law and order".


VELSHI: Law and order was, of course, one of President Nixon`s slogans. Now, the crowd outside the courthouse used it to taunt Nixon`s former attorney general as he arrived to face his own criminal charges.

So, that was a big unprecedented day. America watching all of these top aides to the president filing into court, pleading not guilty to serious crimes, giving up their passports.

More than four decades later, we got ourselves another president who picked up Richard Nixon`s habit of talking about law in order, and also Nixon`s habit of being surrounded by crooks. But in Donald Trump`s case, instead of all of the people around him being hauled into court once for one big crime the way they were under Nixon, over the last few years, we`ve had to watch all of these close friends and associates of President Trump walk into court one at a time, each of them often facing charges in a completely separate criminal enterprise, each of them unique. Like snowflakes.

We watch Trump`s personal lawyer, arrived in court to face charges of making hush money payments to Trump`s alleged mistresses. We watch Trump`s national security adviser headed to court to face charges of lying to the FBI.

When Trump`s campaign chairman was indicted on a rat of felonies including tax and bank fraud, we had to walk very fast like maybe he get out around the press.

Trump`s longtime political adviser, Roger Stone, did the walk like he does everything else, flamboyantly, dressed like a cartoon villain and attended by a giant entourage to face his sentencing for lying to Congress and witness tampering.

And when Trump`s chief strategist Steve Bannon was charged with defrauding donors who thought they were donating to a fund to build Trump`s wall but were actually just donating to Steve Bannon`s pockets, he`s quite amiable and jolly outside the courthouse, also looking quite tanned and relaxed because they`ve been just arrested that morning on a Chinese billionaire`s yacht, still wearing two shirts though, always with the two shirts.

And now today, we`ve got the chairman of Trump`s inaugural, Tom Barrack, arriving at federal court in Brooklyn to plead not guilty to charges of acting as an agent of a foreign government of the United Arab Emirates and lying to federal authorities about it. Barrack is out on $250 million bond. As far as we can tell, the highest bond ever set in this country`s history. He had to give up his passports and he`s going to be monitored via an electronic ankle bracelet.

And after his plea, Barrack said in a statement: Of course, I`m innocent of all these charges and we will prove that in court.

And he will have to prove it in court because unlike so many of Trump`s other friends and associates charged with or convicted of crimes, for Tom Barrack, it is too late for Trump presidential pardon.


Even having lived through Nixon and Watergate as a country, we`re just not accustomed to watching our courtrooms play host to this never parade of government and campaign officials and presidential friends and donors all from a single one-term presidency.

And it`s not just high-profile figures. The upper echelon of Trump`s inner circle, our nation`s courts from coast to coast are packed with people, hundreds of them who are charged with committed crimes in the former president`s name.

Many of the Americans who attacked the Capitol on January 6th are in explicitly arguing in court that President Trump told him to do it. He told him the election was being stolen. He told them it had to be stopped. He told them to go to the capital.

Donald Trump`s whole second impeachment was based on the allegation that his actions and rhetoric in the weeks leading up to January 6, up to and including his intense incendiary speech on that day led directly and predictably to the Capitol insurrection.

And so, here is where else we are in unprecedented territory as Americans right now. Not only are we still grappling with the aftermath and repercussions of January 6, not only are it`s hundreds of alleged perpetrators still making their way through the legal system as we speak, but the dynamic that led to the insurrection, Donald Trump and his allies riling up his supporters with the big lie and accusations of a stolen election and demands that something be done about it, that is ongoing.

I mean, there`s no real analogy for the situation but imagine if after all those Nixon officials want to trial and then a few months later, Nixon resigned under threat of impeachment, but then Richard Nixon went on a national Watergate speaking tour, and he held rallies to tell his crowds that he`d be back in office any minute as long as his great patriotic supporters did everything they could to keep obstructing that deep state fake Watergate investigation.

Well, this weekend, Donald Trump was in Phoenix, Arizona, appearing in front of a giant backdrop, a backdrop that said President Donald J. Trump like he`s still the president.

He was there and he praised on the ongoing so-called audit of 2020 ballots in Maricopa County being run by the Cyber Ninjas at the direction of Arizona Republicans.

In his rally this weekend, Trump said the Arizona audit and all the audits that the Republicans are trying to start in other states will reveal that the election was stolen. And then, he implied that he will be reinstated as president.

Trump`s buddy, the pillow salesman, has actually put a date on it now. Trump will be reinstalled on August 13th -- mark your calendars, friends, it`s Friday the 13th.

As with all things Trump, it`s funny and ridiculous and dangerous. There`s a fear that some of Trump supporters might actually be marking their calendars.

Here is the brand new chief of the U.S. Capitol Police speaking to CNN this weekend.


REPORTER: Is that concern you? We may see a repeat of January 6?

CHIEF TOM MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: I`d be a fool not to be concerned about that.

REPORTER: We know this chatter and some of these extremist forums looking into August. Some of these extremists thinking that that`s a month that the former president is going to be reinstated.

Have you seen any intelligence in the run up to August or what is possibly planned during August that concerns you?

MANGER: Well, certainly, we are absolutely laser focused on information like that. We`re paying attention to that. We are -- we`re not going to show all of our cards and say, OK, these are all the things we know. But I can tell you this, we`re going to plan for everything we know.


VELSHI: That`s the new Capitol police chief that`s got a lot on his plate right now, even us his force has to prepare for more possible violence stemming from election conspiracy theories.

Many of the officers on Capitol are still suffering from the after effects of January 6th. Some 140 officers were injured that day. One died a day later of stroke and two others later died by suicide.

"The Washington Post" reports that many officers are still coming to grips with the full extent of their injuries, both physical and emotional. Quote: "They have emerged from January 6 with a complex jumble of physical and emotional trauma that is made diagnoses and treatment challenging. The problem some officers said his made more difficult by efforts of Republican lawmakers to downplay the riot."

Even as the former president is out on the road pushing the big lie, still riling up his supporters, still raising the specter of more violence, still, his allies in Congress are busy rewriting the history of the insurrection, describing it as a normal tourist visit, describing the insurrectionists as peaceful patriots, even taking up the insurrectionists cause.


Tomorrow, several of the Trumpiest members of Congress including Matt Gaetz, currently under federal investigation himself, are holding a press conference outside the justice to demand answers on the treatment of January 6th prisoners.

And Republican leaders of Congress have done everything they can to block serious investigation of what happened on January 6. First blocking the creation of a bipartisan commission, then trying to stack the new House Select Committee with members of Congress who actually push election conspiracies and downplayed the violence of January 6. And then, boycotting the committee altogether.

Speaker Pelosi is appointed two Republicans to the select committee anyway, adding Illinois` Adam Kinzinger, along with Wyoming`s Liz Cheney.

At a White House ceremony today to mark the 31st anniversary, by the way, of the great bipartisan triumph of the Americans with Disabilities Act, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy took time out with the press court to attack Nancy Pelosi and his two Republican colleagues who joined the select committee, calling them -- hope you`re sitting down for this one -- Pelosi Republicans.

With or without the cooperation of Kevin McCarthy or any other Republicans not named Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger, that House Select Committee to investigate the January 6th attack will begin its work tomorrow, and its very first hearing will feature testimony from police officers. Four police officers who are at the Capitol that day, two from the U.S. Capitol police, two from the D.C. metropolitan police.

Some of these officers have been visiting lawmakers in recent weeks trying to get their voices heard. Well, tomorrow, we all will get to hear their stories and the committee says that the hearing will also include new video from the attack that is not been seen publicly before.

What should we expect tomorrow and what should we expect from this investigation as it moves forward?

Joining us now, Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a member of the January 6 Select Committee and he served as the leading impeachment manager in the second impeachment of Donald Trump. He`s also a member of the Judiciary Committee. He`s a former constitutional law professor as well.

Congressman Raskin, thank you for joining us tonight. It`s good to see you again.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): It`s great to see you, Ali.

VELSHI: Congressman, let`s talk about what happens here. Just this evening, in the House of Representatives, they had a Republican House leader trying to get his nominees to this committee seated. He still thinks that there is some play that he had there, but you`re moving ahead. It is bipartisan. Whether it needs to be or not, it is bipartisan and it`s moving ahead tomorrow.

What does success look like for you?

RASKIN: Success looks like an investigation that gets up the truth and, you know, we`re not going to be distracted by any of Kevin McCarthy`s circus or antics are sideshows here. We`re starting off on the law enforcement officers because they`re on the frontlines defending Congress, defending the democracy against these waves of medieval style violence. They`re going to describe, you know, getting beat up with baseball bats and Confederate battle flags and Trump flags and really gruesome awful things that will run on for four or five hours.

This was a premeditated coordinated violent assault on Congress of the United States and, of course, it`s pathetic that you`ve got members of Congress and people like Kevin McCarthy who are doing everything they can to sabotage real investigation. But I think Speaker Pelosi has outmaneuvered them. despite the fact that we rejected the independent commission that they demanded -- five Republicans and five Democrats with equal subpoena power, we did that in the Republican still killed it because they don`t want a real investigation and America is really starting to ask the question, what is that they`re hiding because it`s not all about Donald Trump. You don`t attack the Congress of the United States with one guy.

So we`re looking at what were the networks of political influence and domestic violent extremism that got together to attack Congress on January 6 when we were counting Electoral College votes. How did they try to thwart the democratic process and stop the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in our history?

VELSHI: You`re going to hear from a few police officers. We are going to hear from a Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell, Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who we`ve heard of from an TV, and Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges. But they will present evidence very much like you did at the impeachment trial. evidence that matches up with images that many of us have seen, and are familiar with that you described, this medieval attack on the Capitol.

But this other issue that you want to get to the bottom of, the network of influencers, the extremists who were in there, how do we get to the bottom of that? Who do you call and how do you get them in front of the committee? To explain who inside Congress empowered these insurrectionists?

RASKIN: Well, that`s going to be the next wave of investigative process. And we`ve got some top flight investigators and lawyers and staffers here on Capitol Hill, who have come together as part of a select committee, to try to unearth what we`re all of the networks of influence that got together, to mobilize this attack on Congress.

And, of course, we have subpoena power. We`ve got investigative power, and we are going to let the chips fall where they may. We are going to follow every possible lead in order to determine what happened, how it happened, why it happened, who paid for it, and are they still out there. What do we need to do to prevent the next attack?

Because, you know, the political scientists will tell you that the shortest sign of a successful coup is a recently failed coup where the perpetrators were able to study the weaknesses, and the inadequacies in the security program that exists. So, this is deadly serious business and that we have a very cohesive bipartisan committee that`s going to work to get to it all the answers.

VELSHI: You know, after January six, you really describe the effect that it had on you. Your daughter had seen it and been there. How is it that one`s party can affect their need to get to the bottom of an attack at their workplace, that targeted all of you? Your staff, your police, your security, in your case your family?

How does that fall along partisan lines? I`m sure you have asked this question of your colleagues.

RASKIN: Well, I`ve got to say, that overstates it because it`s really not along partisan lines. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are proving that the Republicans out there who are not afraid to examine these actual events, and underlying causes. It`s one guy. It`s 80 or 90 percent of the Republican Party who has come under the psychological spell of Donald Trump.

And so, we were living through the remarkable moments, when a modern political party is behaving much more like an authoritarian religious cult of personality. Where one person dictates when everybody says and when everybody does.

And so, when Kevin McCarthy comes out today and he calls my colleagues Pelosi Republicans, it`s clear that he sees a patriotic American acting beyond political party. And he sees a Pelosi Republican. In other words, that`s the way that all of the Trump robots see it. It`s really scary.

But you are going to see in this select committee, real bipartisanship at work. That is every member of the committee is contributing a lot. Working together for a common goal of trying to determine what`s took place on January six and how do we make sure it never happens to us again.

VELSHI: Congressman good to see you. Godspeed on your work, Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. He`s a member of the Select Committee. Appreciate your time tonight.

We`ve got a lot of news to get to tonight, including what looks like be a big step in the fight against COVID, and against people who refused to get vaccinated. That`s next. Stay with us.



VELSHI: In St. Louis, Missouri, they`re back to indoor mask mandates today. In Louisiana, one of the largest hospitals is stopping non-emergency surgeries. A single county in Central Florida is seeing 1,000 new COVID-19 cases a day. Hospitals there are near capacity. The mayor saying they are in crisis mode.

It`s easy to remember a time when these kinds of headlines were routine. But it`s unfathomable that we are back here again.

With a highly contagious delta virus on the rise, look at the far right of your screen. All 50 states and the country are experiencing a significant growth in COVID cases. In the last month, the rate of new cases per day has quadrupled nationwide. And that trajectory is fueled by the millions of Americans who remain unvaccinated.

States have tried giving people free beer, free food, cold hard-cash as incentives to get the shot. Still, only 49 percent of the country is fully vaccinated against COVID, well below the threshold needed to achieve herd immunity. And so now, with crisis mode bearing down on us once again, some states are pulling out the last tool in their arsenal, to try to curb the spread of COVID.

We saw it for the first time last month, when the hospital system in Houston Texas, required all of its health care workers to get vaccinated if they wanted to keep their jobs. It was a little bumpy at first. More than 150 workers quit or were fired for not complying. A group of them filed a lawsuit against the hospital, but since then 98 percent of the employees at the hospital system have been fully vaccinated. Two percent received exceptions or deferrals. And the judge in the lawsuit tossed out the case.

She said the hospital was just quote, trying to do their business of saving lives without giving patients the COVID-19 virus.

Now, if you measure success here by how many people got vaccinated in the ecosystem of people working at this one hospital system, this worked. A 97 percent vaccination rate among a single group of people is probably higher than anywhere else in the world right now, so now other people are running Houston`s playbook.

Today, both the city of New York and the entire state of California announced they will require all their employees to either get the COVID vaccine, or subject themselves to weekly testing. This new rule will apply to around 340,000 municipal workers in New York City, from teachers to police officers to government officials.

In California, it implies to every state employee, roughly a quarter of 1 million people, plus 2 million onsite public and private health care workers in the state.


The Department of Veterans Affairs also issued a vaccine requirement today for all of its health care employees, working in the V.A. health system. It applies to 115,000 frontline health care workers. It is the first vaccine mandate at the federal level in America.

Just tonight, the Justice Department has issued an opinion that says, federal law does not prohibit businesses or agencies from imposing COVID vaccine mandates. This may encourage more businesses across the country, to issue these requirements. Get the shot or don`t come to work.

There is been a flurry of action around mandating the COVID vaccine for certain places of the population. It is a trend that many medical professionals hope to continue. Today, nearly 60 different medical groups, issued a joint statement, calling for a mandatory vaccine requirements for all health care workers in the United States. For many groups on the list, it was the first time they made such a public endorsement, of mandating vaccines.

But their reasoning is clear. They write, quote, as the health care community leads the way in requiring vaccines for our employees, we hope all other employers across the country will follow our lead in implement effective policies to encourage vaccination. The health and safety of U.S. workers, families, communities in the nation depends on it, end quote.

Joining us now is Dr. Rachel Villanueva. She`s the president of the National Medical Association, which is one of the nearly 60 medical organizations that signed on to the joint letter, recommending a vaccine mandate, among health care workers. She`s also assistant professor of gynecology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, and a member of the medical advisory group of the Black Help Trust.

Dr. Villanueva, thank you for joining us this evening.

Your response, first of all, to this new news of the Department of Justice issuing an opinion to say it would not be a legal, in their opinion, for businesses and organizations and employers to issue a mandate.

DR. RACHEL VILLANUEVA, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE CLINICAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF OBSTETRICS/GYNECOLOGY: Thank you for having me. I think it is such a great piece of information, in our arsenal against the COVID-19 vaccine, to have this information. It is critically important, that we encourage all members of society that are able to get the vaccine to get vaccinated. It`s really the only way that we`re going to surmount the pandemic.

VELSHI: Well, it`s kind of interesting, right? Let`s just put of the CDC`s latest numbers on vaccinations. The percentage of the total population that is fully vaccinated is just under 50 percent right now, 49.1 percent. You can see the second line to the right to the right side of the screen.

Dr. Villanueva, are you surprised that were bumping up against this level of resistance? Is this what you have expected?

VILLANUEVA: I`m not surprised. I`m disappointed. But I`m not surprised. I think we have had a lot of -- it`s been politicized.

VELSHI: I have trouble with that one, too.

VILLANUEVA: And it has been there`s been so much misinformation, around the vaccine. And I think confidence in the vaccine is not very high. And so I am not surprised. I think it is not unusual for any individual to have concerns about taking a new medication, or a new vaccine.

But it is critical that we encourage all members, across America, who are able to get the vaccine, to get a vaccine.

VELSHI: You are an obstetrician, a gynecologist, you are in the business of dealing with people`s fears about medicine, what they don`t know about medicine, and doctors in theory should have a great deal of empathy for people.

How do you blend the empathy that you have for people who are fearful, maybe subject to the misinformation about the vaccine, with the fact that it is affecting the rest of us. We are actually seeing another wave of COVID coming back, because this virus is spreading the way it is amongst unvaccinated people, and affecting those of us who are vaccinated.

VILLANUEVA: I think it`s very simple. It`s being a doctor 1:01, or being a health care provider 1:01. You really have to listen to your patients. It`s not -- you can`t really beat them over the head with the information.

I think you have to meet them where they are. You have to help educate them, you have to validate their concerns, and walk them through why so important. And at the National Medical Association, we are primarily the underserved, marginalized and under-research populations, who are -- whose vaccine rates are significantly lower, than the general population.

So, for our organization, it was so important for us to sign on to this statement, so that we could encourage our own patients to take the vaccine.


VELSHI: I have written down the word so I say it right, the politicization you are talking about the vaccine. Masks were politicized before the vaccine, and now, Dr. Fauci is suggesting that revised mask guidance is under active consideration. Fauci said on Sunday, they`re revising mask guidance is part of the discussion.

You know, the taking off of the mask, in places where people are vaccinated, felt like a return to normalcy. Do you think we might have to go back to everybody being masked?

VILLANUEVA: I would definitely leave that up to the experts. What I will say is that, we see a return to normalcy. But now we`re seeing a surge, and a return to what we saw last year, and increased rates, cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations, and deaths. Over 90 percent are in people who are not vaccinated.

So, as far as the vaccination, we encourage all that are able to get vaccinated to get vaccinated. And whatever strategies we need to do to surmount the pandemic, and the COVID-19 virus, we will do. And that means that experts decide we need to continue to wear masks, or vaccinated people need to start wearing masks again, that I think that`s what we need to do.

I think nobody wants to live through the trauma that we`ve lived through, last year, and the number of deaths we lived through. So whatever we need to do, we will do.

VELSHI: I think that`s the right attitude.

Dr. Rachel Villanueva, thank you for joining us. Rachel Villanueva is the president of the National Medical Association and clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the NYU School of Medicine. I managed to say that properly the second time.

On Thursday, Rachel told you how a group of African American men, including a sitting member of Congress, Representative Hank Johnson there in a suit, were arrested on Capitol Hill for their demonstration on favor of national voting rights registration. Well, today, dozens were arrested in Arizona for doing the same thing today.

I`ll give you a few guesses about whose office that protests took place outside. The answer when we come back.



VELSHI: The Poor Peoples Campaign is ramping up its season of moral direct action on voting rights. Today, it held 27 rallies, in cities across the country.

In Phoenix, the Reverends William Barber and Jesse Jackson held a rally to put pressure on sentencing Chris -- they want her to support the end of the filibuster in the passage of the voting rights bills. After the rally, they let a march through the streets, to her office where they held a sit in, blocking the entrance as they saying, this little light of mine.

Both civil rights leaders word rested at the sit in. Barber later posted this photo of himself in zip ties, with the caption, we`ve got to get these shackles off our democracy.

Senator Sinema responded through a spokesperson to defend her support of the filibuster, saying essentially that eliminating the procedure to pass voter registration could lead to more restrictive voting laws down the line.

It`s been over a month since Republicans voted to back the For the People Act, and the frustration is, growing not just with Senator Sinema and her counterpart, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, but also with President Joe Biden.

Reverend Barber will be in Texas tomorrow, to launch a four-day Selma to Montgomery style march to the Texas state capitol, to draw more attention to the need for voting rights protection. Today marks two weeks since Texas Democratic state representatives left Texas for D.C., to deny the Texas legislature a quorum, thus stalling a bill that would restrict voting access in that state.

And since then, that group of Texas Democrats have met with the vice president, Kamala Harris, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, among launder lawmakers, but they have not been able to get a meeting with the president himself. And their frustration is starting to bubble over.

During a remote office call with the member of Congress, Texas State Representative Richard Pena Raymond said, quote, he won`t meet with us on Zoom like this, and I`m trying to be tactful, but I don`t know how else to say it, man, I`m just pissed off at this point.

Here`s what LaTosha Brown, cofounder of Black Voters Matter told "Politico": Hope is quickly turning into frustration. Constantly, we are showing up to protect democracy. When in the hell are those who claim that they are committed to democracy, going to show up to protect those that protect democracy?

Joining me now, LaTosha Brown, cofounder of Black Voters Matter.

LaTosha, you have spoken patiently with us for a very long time. You too are running out of patience. At the same time, you are being joined by this direct action. We are seeing arrests in acts of civil disobedience on a daily basis across America, in a matter that we have not seen largely since the civil rights movement.

LATOSHA BROWN, BLACK VOTERS MATTER CO-FOUNDER: Absolutely, because we have not seen the kind of affront, the kind of attack on voting rights that we are seeing right now. It`s so much of what we saw in the sixties. This isn`t just about voter ID. This is about states and the GOP putting themselves in a position where they`re weaponizing the administrative process, so they can actually take over on the election results.

You know, we are seeing that in Georgia. We are seeing that all across this nation, you know, to the extent that the Texas Democrats had to flee from their homes to go to D.C., to try to stop this voter suppression that talks about -- I think that`s a demonstration of how intense this fight we`re in right now.

So, while we are seeing, these direct actions is not going to stop. This is not something that is just going to go away. This is not something we can now out-organize or out-litigate. We`re going to have to have federal legislation to make sure that we protect voting rights, and really unravel what a lot of the damage the Republicans are doing right now.

VELSHI: Let`s take a look at the states that are enacting restrictive laws right now.


These are states voting rights laws pushing for audits, things like that. And then, of course, you got -- I`m going to show a second map here -- these are states that are actually efforting these audits, like Pennsylvania and Michigan, where they may not get much traction but they are trying.

LaTosha, until people who are not directly affected by this, as you and Georgia or people in Texas were, until everybody understands this is a front and all voting rights, we`re not activating the rest of the population.

How do we get people to understand this is their problem? This is not a black urban problem. This is not a black voters in the South problem. This is a democracy problem.

BROWN: Yeah, I think there`s a number of things that we have to do. One, we have to be honest to lift up what is happening right now, that this isn`t just what happened in Georgia. We`re seeing this widespread all across the nation.

And while black voters and brown voters have been targeted in many of those states that you`ve seen the most egregious laws come up, the truth of the matter is that it is going to impact all voters. That`s every single one of us.

You know, anytime, one of these that we have to help people understand, is that anytime a political party be the libertarian, the green, the Democrat, the Republican, it doesn`t matter -- anytime a political power -- party abuses their power to really be in their authority to actually take laws in place so that whoever does not vote for them, they can punish, or they can prevent them from voting or making more difficult, that that in itself is political corruption. That is literally the unraveling. That is how democracy dies.

When we look at undemocratic institution in nations all across the world, when you are starting to see the effects of democracy and how democracy was taken down we are seeing those effects right now, and we`re seeing those steps. And so, we got to really recognize that there`s a larger issue that needs to be done and just the right to vote. That anytime a party is abusing and administrative process, to literally be able to navigate and create the results that they want, which is precisely what Trump is asking them to do in the last election.

VELSHI: Natasha, thank you again for your time tonight. Thanks for your continued efforts to preserve everybody`s right to vote.

LaTosha Brown is the founder of Black Voters Matter.

OK. In just a minute, we`re going to be joined live here by NBC`s Richard Engel. He is going to be with me on set and he has a lot to say about his time in Afghanistan last week.

We`ll be right back.



VELSHI: This is the headline from "The Arizona Republic" today. Quote: Arizona Representatives Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar vote to abandon Afghan allies.

What follows is a scathing editorial indicting these two Arizona congressmen for being part of a small group of 16 Republicans who voted against an overwhelmingly bipartisan bill to try to expedite the process forgetting Afghan translator who help U.S. forces to safety as America ends its longest war. Quote: When the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam, there were unfortunate, sometimes tragic repercussions for some of the Vietnamese who assisted our troops.

The idea of the House bill was to not let that happen again, to appreciate loyalty, to demonstrate empathy, to exercise humanity. The bill before them was unmistakably and indisputably good.

In voting, no, Congressman Gosar and Biggs prove themselves to be unmistakably and indisputably the opposite.

Gosar and Biggs are not the only Republicans facing backlash for voting against helping Afghan translators. Over the weekend, the veterans group Vote Vets released this ad targeting two different Republicans for their vote against the bipartisan bill.


AD NARRATOR: When nearly every Republican and Democrat in Congress comes together to make sure local interpreters who served as faithfully and kept our troops safe are offered a way out if they want it, guess who teamed up and voted to abandon them to the Taliban? Boebert and Greene.

This axis of evil wouldn`t know a patriot of one stepped up and shook their hands. They don`t respect service and sacrifice. They ridicule those who serve and praised traitors and insurrectionists.

If Boebert and Greene won`t stand up for America, let`s make it our mission to replace them with people who will.


VELSHI: There are just 46 days left until we reach the Biden administration`s end of August deadline for withdrawing all remaining U.S. forces from Afghanistan, 46 days.

And despite the efforts of those 16 Republicans, other members of Congress and veterans groups across the country are doing everything they can to try to save those Afghan translators and their families before it`s too late.

With each passing day, the challenge faced by those translators becomes more dire. Thousands of Afghans eligible for a U.S. visa face a perilous journey through Taliban-controlled territory just to reach the capital, Kabul, from which they can be evacuated.

Mohammad, a 33-year-old IT technician in Kandahar who worked for the U.S. military told NBC News: Our city is surrounded. It can fall to Taliban militants anytime.

As the U.S. departs, the U.N. reports that civilian casualties are at a record high, up nearly 50 percent over the same six-month period a year ago. Meanwhile, on the battlefield, the Taliban`s grip on the country continues to grow. They now control about half of Afghanistan`s district centers.

But take a look at this map. The bright red areas on this map shows how much territory the Taliban has taken. That`s just three months.

Over the past week, the U.S. has supported the Afghan army with airstrikes but it remains unclear how much longer that support will last.

So as the situation on the ground enough in Afghanistan continues to get worse and with that U.S. and NATO withdrawal now more than 95 percent complete, what will happen to the thousands of U.S. allies in a country that is desperately looking for a way out?


Joining us, Richard Engel, NBC chief foreign correspondent, who`s with me in person.

Richard, you are the first correspondent I`ve been in person with a new year and a half. So welcome and thank you for your great reporting.

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s been a great honor. I`m surprised. I didn`t know I`m the only one here. I`m not in New York very often. I came in from Afghanistan and looking around -- there`s nobody home.

VELSHI: Yes. We`re getting back to normal we hope.

ENGEL: Good.

VELSHI: Afghanistan is not. And your reporting on Afghanistan is actually tonally very different from what the Biden administration is saying is going on. They`re saying there`s a very well-trained military, a very strong military and an air force. We`ll back him a little bit if they can handle the Taliban.

Everybody on the ground is saying that doesn`t look like that`s how it`s going to go.

ENGEL: Look at the map you just showed. And the quote you just put on the screen. Many cities are surrounded and the Taliban could probably take most of Afghanistan, if it wanted to. If the U.S. pulled back and stopped these last airstrikes, that are carrying out to just keep the door open, during the last bit of the exit that happens.

The Taliban could probably take it. It seems like they`ve been holding off. They have surrounded a lot of the major capital areas, or major urban centers. It may have set themselves up in a position to take over militarily.

There`s a negotiated process going on in Doha, Qatar. Negotiators, Taliban representatives I`ve spoken to, don`t put a lot of faith into that. Even officials don`t put a lot of faith in that. They think the Taliban are just waiting, wasting time, allowing this process to go on and on.

In theory, what they`re negotiating about is like a future power sharing agreement, in which the Afghan government, in which the U.S. is backing till now, negotiates with the Taliban and says, OK, we`ll give you have half. We`ll give you 40 percent. We`ll give you 60 percent.

And the Taliban saying, okay, let`s just keep talking, let`s just keep talking. And they set up their troops in a position around all the cities, around Kabul. So, as soon as the last of the American troops leave, they can take those cities, and then that process will be meaningless.

Why would they give anything now and negotiations when they`re poised to take those --

VELSHI: Those kinds of power sharing agreements have not worked very well in the Middle East. In fact, we saw it -- one of them failed in Tunisia just today.

ENGEL: And what`s happening about the translators is absolutely tragic and it was avoidable, frankly. OK, it`s America`s longest war, 20 years. You would think you would have time to plan for an exit like this.

And this deal to pull out was signed by President Trump. So it`s been a long time they had to plan for this day. The U.S. military does plan very well. They were able to get out their troops safely so far. They`ve been able to get out, a lot of equipment, a lot of weapons.

I don`t know why they didn`t put any thought in to this and there are thousands and thousands of people there who can`t come in to Kabul and send in their forms and get processed and they`re going to die. They`re going to die unless something happened.

VELSHI: You know, we fully understand the argument that Joe Biden has made about getting out of Afghanistan, America`s longest war, hoping it will be an outcome that we keep on hoping for, sending another generation of soldiers in there. That makes a lot of sense.

But on the other side, what`s the danger of Afghanistan falling?

ENGEL: Well, many. Aside from the horrible outcome for the translators and all of the people that work for us, which is a moral failing, it also sends a message to the rest of the world, who will work with us again if this is what you do with the people who signed contracts, got paid, risked their lives, went on missions and you leave them to die? So, who`s going to work with us in the past?

But then Afghanistan itself, the Taliban are using this as an enormous rallying cry. And already, they are about 22 different extremist groups that operate in the region and they are coming to join the party. They want to see this Taliban victory. The Taliban is going to be able to say for generations to come that it pushed out the United States. It did what ISIS couldn`t do, it did what al Qaeda couldn`t do. It will be the champion of extremist groups.

That does a lot of damage. It encourages extremists. It could potentially destabilize Pakistan. And that`s an interesting dynamic here because Pakistan played a big role in supporting the Taliban. Now, Pakistan is worried about spillover. It is worried that it encouraged this fire and now the fire could jump over the border and engulf Pakistan as well.

Pakistan is major -- massive country, 200 million people, nuclear weapons. So, destabilizing Pakistan, allowing Afghanistan to become this symbol or the Taliban become the symbol of extremist defiance and victory. And then the sort of moral baseless of leaving behind the translators.

But that might -- there is still a little time but the window is closing for them.

VELSHI: Thank you for your great reporting on this and for telling us --


ENGEL: It is good to be here. Let`s do it again.

VELSHI: We absolutely will. You`re always where I am, my friend.

Richard Engel is NBC`s chief foreign correspondent.

OK. One more story tonight. Stay with us. We`ll be right back after the break.


VELSHI: It`s rare when you can get a lobbyist to speak candidly about how their profession works, let alone a senior lobbyist from the largest oil company in America, ExxonMobil.

Posing as recruiters an elaborate sting operation, Greenpeace UK and the British outlet Channel 4 News, tricked one of Exxon`s senior lobbyists into thinking he was interviewing at a position for another company and, well, listen to him discussing Exxon`s approach to climate science.


KEITH MCCOY, EXXON LOBBYIST: Did we aggressively fight against some of the science? Yes. Did we join some of these shadow groups to work against some of the early efforts? Yes, that`s true.


VELSHI: ExxonMobil insist that its lobbying fully complies with all laws and this sting was just the latest effort in a decades-long campaign by Greenpeace to smear them.

We do not know that but the House oversight committee intends to get to the bottom of the matter. Today, that committee sent a letter to Keith McCoy, the lobbyist in question, requesting his presence for a transcribed interview on the matter next month under oath.

The committee wants an answer by Friday. If the lobbyist denies their request, a subpoena could be right around the corner. As Rachel would say, watch this space.

That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, my friend.