The Chairman of the January 6th Select Committee, Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson is interviewed. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Director of the CDC is interviewed.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Right now, we have 100 million people in the United States who are eligible, who are not getting vaccinated. That`s the problem.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Yeah. Yes. Look at Vermont where they are at 85 percent plus, and they have crushed this thing. That could be all of us.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, as always, thank you, sir. Appreciate it.
That is ALL IN on this Tuesday night.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now with Ali Velshi, in for Rachel.
Good evening, Ali.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Chris, I never thought I`d say this, but that conversation with Dr. Fauci on viral load was compelling and fascinating, and I`m glad you went further down that road than one typically goes in primetime news. We all learn something from. Thank you, sir. Have an excellent evening.
HAYES: I appreciate it, but --
VELSHI: Yeah, go ahead.
HAYES: Thank you. I feel like I actually understand it now.
VELSHI: That`s exactly what it meant. I was listening to it thinking, you know, I don`t know why he`s going down this road. But I`m smarter for it and I appreciate it. Thank you, my friend. You have a good evening.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Rachel`s got the night off.
I want to tell you right off the bat that in just a few moments, we`re going to be joined by the CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Lots of questions for her on the spread of COVID-19. I took some lessons from that conversation that we just heard. And the CDC`s new mask guidance. So, you`re not going to want to miss that conversation. That`s coming up.
But, of course, we start tonight with one of the most sobering, chilling, and emotional congressional hearings ever on Capitol Hill.
At the first hearing of the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the Capitol, four police officers who were on the front lines that day testified to the brutality of the attack, to the horror of what they endured, and to how close they and so many of their colleagues came to being killed that day.
The hearing began with harrowing video of the attack, some of it never seen before by the public, some of it from the body cameras of the officers who were testifying today. The officers watched the video from the witness table. With D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone at one point getting up to comfort Sergeant Aquilino Gonell of the Capitol Police, and then it was time for the officers to tell their stories.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OFFICER MICHAEL FANONE, METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: At some point during the fighting, I was dragged from the line of officers and into the crowd. I heard someone scream, "I got one!" As I was swarmed by a violent mob, they ripped off my badge, they grabbed and stripped me of my radio, they seized ammunition that was secured to my body. They began to beat me with their fists and with what felt like hard metal objects.
At one point I came face-to-face with an attacker who repeatedly lunged for me and attempted to remove my firearm. I heard chanting from some in the crowd, "get his gun" and "kill him with his own gun."
I was aware enough to recognize I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm. I was electrocuted again and again and again with a Taser.
OFFICER DANIEL HODGES, METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: I was effectively defenseless and gradually sustaining injury from the increasing pressure of the mob. Directly in front of me, a man seized the opportunity of my vulnerability, grabbed the front of my gas mask, used it to beat my head against the door. He switched to pulling it off my head, the straps stretching against my skull, straining my neck.
He never uttered any words I recognized but opted instead for guttural screams. I remember him foaming at the mouth. He also put his cell phone in his mouth so he had both hands free to assault me.
SGT. AQUILINO GONELL, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: What we were subjected to that day was like something from a medieval battle. I literally heard officers screaming in agony in pain, just an arm`s length from me. I didn`t know at that time that was Officer Hodges. And he`s here today to testify.
I too was being crushed by others. I could feel myself losing oxygen and recall thinking to myself, this is how I`m going to die, defending this entrance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: This is how I`m going to die. Reporters who were in the room for those officers` testimony say you could hear a pin drop as they spoke. The members of the select committee were transfixed, the mode was somber, was respectful.
Some members of Congress were visibly emotional. That`s what you would expect at a hearing like this. But it wasn`t just the visceral nature of the subject matter that made this hearing so compelling. It has to be said that part of the reason today`s hearing was so solemn and so serious and so sincere was because of who wasn`t there.
There were no bomb-throwing Republican members of Congress trying to derail the hearing with ridiculous antics. No one yelling about how the real crime was all the election fraud. No what-aboutism about the radical left or Antifa.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy tried. He tried to put folks like this, Jim Jordan on the committee, Nancy Pelosi said no.
And you do not have to use your imagination to picture what the Republicans would have been doing today if they had been in that hearing room, because they were all just outside, doing it.
While officers described the violence they experienced at the hands of the insurrectionists this morning, several Republican members of Congress were holding a press conference in front of the Justice Department defending those same insurrectionists. They called the January 6th attackers, who are in jail awaiting trial, political prisoners. They demanded answers about their treatment in detention.
The event was cut short after the speakers were drowned out by protesters, some of whom were there to heckle Congressman Matt Gaetz who is himself under federal investigation for possible sex trafficking of a minor. But okay, you might be saying those are the outliers, the extremists, fringe Republican members of Congress. They`re not the leaders of the House Republicans.
But House Republican leaders had their own press conference this morning. As the select committee held its hearing without them, and honestly, the line between extremist fringe and mainstream leadership seemed awfully blurry. Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik saying with a straight face that the January 6 attack on the Capitol was all Nancy Pelosi`s fault.
You start to see why it was difficult to find any Republican members of Congress to serve on the select committee who would actually take the investigation into January 6th seriously. But Speaker Pelosi did find two of them. Today we got to see for the first time how those two Republican members will approach their role on this select committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We cannot leave the violence of January 6th and its causes uninvestigated. The American people deserve the full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and preparation for January 6th. We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House. Every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack.
Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward. If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight. It`s toxic and it`s a disservice to the officers and their families, to the staff and the employees on the Capitol complex, to the American people who deserve the truth. I want all Americans to be able to trust the work this committee does and get the facts out there free of conspiracy.
This cannot continue to be a partisan fight. I`m a Republican. I`m a conservative. But in order to heal from the damage caused that day, we need to call out the facts.
It`s time to stop the outrage and the conspiracies that fuel the violence and division in this country, and most importantly, we need to reject those that promote it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Now, on the surface, today`s hearing was about what police officers experienced on January 6th. It was a reminder of how awful and brutal and violent that day actually was. But the reason such a reminder is even needed is that Donald Trump and his allies, including Republican members of Congress who lived through the attack personally that day, are actively trying to rewrite the history of that day as a peaceful protest. Or a normal tourist visit.
And that created an undercurrent of frustration and anger at today`s hearing that could be heard at times in the officers` testimony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GONELL: The same people who we helped, the same people who we gave them the borrowed time to get to safety, now they`re attacking us, they`re attacking our characters.
There are people right now in front of the Justice Department asking to release some of the very same people to be released, even though we are testifying about the trauma and the agony and everything that happened to us. It`s pathetic. And they shouldn`t be elected officials anymore.
FANONE: So many of the people I put my life at risk to defend are downplaying or outright denying what happened. I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room. But too many are now telling me that hell doesn`t exist, or that hell actually wasn`t that bad. The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful!
PFC. HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: The sentiment going around that says, everybody`s trying to make January 6th political. Well, it`s not a secret that it was political.
They literally were there to "stop the steal." So, when people say it shouldn`t be political, it is. It was and it is. There`s no getting around that.
Telling the truth shouldn`t be hard. Fighting for -- fighting on January 6th, that was hard. Showing up January 7th, that was hard. The 8th, the 9th, the 10th, all the way until today, that was hard.
Everything is different, but nothing has changed. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are being lauded as courageous heroes, and while I agree with that notion, why? Because they told the truth? Why is telling the truth hard? I guess in this America, it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: A powerful point from Harry Dunn of the Capitol Police. If this select committee is going to perform a real investigation into January 6th, there`s actually no getting around the politics of it.
We have two major political parties in this country, and the people who attacked the Capitol did it to try to keep a president from one of those political parties in power. Their actions that day have been at best excused, and at worst, promoted by lawmakers of that same political party.
And so, that presents a host of uncomfortable but necessary questions for this committee to answer. And it was one of the most powerful moments of today`s hearing when, right at the end, the chairman of the committee, Bennie Thompson, asked the officers directly who were there testifying, what do you want us to do?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): What would you task this committee in its body of work, what would you like to see us do?
FANONE: We had violent political rhetoric. We had the organization of a rally whose title was "Stop the Steal." And at that that rally occurred on January 6th, which I don`t believe was a coincidence.
The time, the place, the circumstances of that rally, that rhetoric, and those events, to me leads in the direction of our president and other members, not only of Congress and the Senate, but that is what I am looking for is an investigation into those actions and activities which may have resulted in the events of January 6th. And also whether or not there was collaboration between those members, their staff, and these terrorists.
GONELL: In my opinion, we do need to get to the bottom of it, who incited, who brought those people here. Why the people were made to believe that the process was rigged.
HODGES: I need you guys to address if anyone in power had a role in this, if anyone in power coordinated or aided or abetted or tried to downplay, tried to prevent the investigation of this terrorist attack.
DUNN: I use an analogy to describe what I want as a hitman. If a hitman is hired and he kills somebody, the hitman goes to jail. But not only does the hitman go to jail, but the person who hired them does. It was an attack carried out on January 6th, and a hitman sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Joining us now is the man tasked with getting to the bottom of that, chairman of the January 6th Select Committee, Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson.
Congressman, thank you for joining us.
I know today is a long and busy one for you. It continues. So we appreciate some of your time.
Those -- the testimony of those officers laid waste to the criticism that we have been hearing literally since January 7th that there`s no need for further investigation into this. They -- while you were all under threat, they faced the battery, the medieval battle, that took place.
What did you take away from that today, what did you learn today?
THOMPSON: Well, first of all, Ali, thank you for having me.
VELSHI: My pleasure.
THOMPSON: Let me tell you, we now know who the real heroes of January 6th. It was rank and file law enforcement officers of the Metropolitan Police Department, Capitol Police, as well as the other departments who came and helped defend this Capitol from the rioters.
They`re the real heroes. And part of what we wanted to do today was to get on the record what they experienced on the other hand, what they have had to do since that January 6th, and also on your last clip, what is it they would like us to do?
I think the four clips that you heard from the witnesses say it all. We want to know who facilitated this. If individuals came to a peaceful rally on the 6th, why did they bring bear spray, why did they bring all those other weapons with them? If you come into a rally, you`re coming to have a good time.
You shouldn`t have to have Kevlar vests, you shouldn`t to have helmets on and all those other things.
So, what those men brought out today, based on their training as law enforcement, is exactly what the committee needed to hear. We now have a message. We now have a mandate.
But I want to thank them, because we came perilously close to losing this constitutional form of government. They helped preserve our democracy. They gave members enough time to physically get out of the Capitol. They gave members and staff enough time to take cover.
They gave members and staff enough time to take the ballots that they were counting and keep them safe. So we could count them at 3:00 in the morning.
VELSHI: That`s right.
THOMPSON: So we thank them for that.
So it was a tremendous testimony. And I`ve been here for 28 years. And all my 28 years, Ali, I`ve never been in a hearing where the members, everyone there, was riveted by the testimony. It was gut-wrenching, but it was something we felt as a committee we had to do.
VELSHI: You know, you and I have talked since the days you knew you`d be chairing this committee. We discussed the way it would take shape, whether Kevin McCarthy would appoint people, who he would appoint.
There was something about the pin-drop silence, the somberness, the seriousness of this that benefited from the fact that everybody who was listening to that testimony seemed to share a view that, we need to get to the bottom of this and the perpetrators need to be connected to whomever it was who instigated this so it doesn`t happen again.
It seemed like this was purposeful right from the beginning, but Officer Dunn made the point that for those saying it`s not political, it is political. We have to answer that question, that politics got us into this thing on January 6th.
THOMPSON: Well, these people came to Washington on January 6th for a reason. We want to know who financed it. We want to know who helped organize it. We want to make sure that anyone who had anything to do with though rioters who came to Washington on January 6th, we will get that information.
I assure you the people on this committee are absolutely committed to getting to the truth. Truth, Ali, will be the disinfectant for this great country of ours. And we`ll work hard to make sure that we accomplish that.
So we will meet before we adjourn for the August recess. We`ll decide a way forward. But I can assure you that the issuing of subpoenas and other things necessary as we follow up this tough testimony today is in order, and we will be carrying those subpoenas forward.
VELSHI: And the Justice Department has supported your view of that, they cleared the -- in fact, I`ll just read this from "The New York Times." The Justice Department notified former officials this week that they could testify to the various committees investigating the January 6th attack. The letters to former officials leaves unclear whether the select committee investigating the January 6th riot has made such a request.
You`re telling me that you`re prepared to send subpoenas out to get people there. Have you done so yet?
THOMPSON: No, we have not. We appreciate the Justice Department stepping forward. We don`t think anyone should claim executive privilege at any level of government. This is the ability of our committee to do our work. In order to do it, we have to have access to any and all information and any and all individuals who had anything to do with the travesty that occurred on January 6th.
So we are committed. And let me tell you, Democrats and Republicans on this committee are committed to making and identifying everything we possibly can within the scope of the charge that we have as a committee.
All the facts and circumstances, wherever the facts lead us, we`re prepared to go.
VELSHI: Congressman, thank you for your time tonight. I know you`ve got to get back to work. You and your committee have your work cut out for you.
Bennie Thompson is chairman of the January 6th select committee. We appreciate your time, sir.
THOMPSON: Thank you.
VELSHI: We`ll have more here tonight on today`s incredible testimony. But up next, we`ll be joined live by the head of the CDC on the new guidance issued about wearing masks indoors. We`ve got a lot to ask her.
Stay with us.
VELSHI: It`s not the kind of news we hoped for from the CDC these days, but today, it was the news we got. The CDC has changed its current guidance about when Americans should wear masks in response to the alarming spread of the highly infectious delta variant of COVID-19.
In a dramatic reversal from its previous guidance, the CDC now says that all vaccinated Americans should wear masks while indoors if they are in areas with what the CDC calls high or substantial levels of transmission.
Look at the map. The red represents areas with high transmission. The orange is substantial transmission, which is a lot of the map.
According to the CDC, transmission is high enough in 63 percent of the country right now that indoor mask-wearing is now recommended regardless of vaccination status.
And that was not the only stunning reversal out today from the CDC. Two and a half weeks ago, the CDC said that fully vaccinated students will not need to wear masks when they return to classrooms this fall. Today, they took that back.
The change in policy also applies to all students or people who work in the classroom. The CDC says it`s recommending that all students, teachers, staff, students, and visitors wear masks in all K-12 schools this fall, regardless of their vaccination status.
Joining us is Dr. Rochelle Walensky. She is the director of the CDC.
Dr. Walensky, thank you for your time. Thank you for being with us this evening.
The reaction I`ve seen on social media to this is it`s giving people whiplash. The CDC has changed fairly suddenly in the opinion of some people.
Give me a sense of the science behind this decision.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Good evening, Ali. Thanks for having me.
The first thing I want to convey is that that map has a lot of orange and a lot of red. Eighty percent of those counties that are orange or red have less than 40 percent of people vaccinated.
WALENSKY: So those counties very much correspond to the people who are undervaccinated in this country, where we have not put up a large enough fortress as a population to tackle this delta variant. So, I think that that`s really important because the main message here is that map looks like that because we haven`t done a good enough job of getting people vaccinated.
The most important message here is to get vaccinated.
But when I became the director of the CDC, my -- I felt it`s my responsibility, and I told the American people, that I would follow science. And that science would be what is motivating and driving our recommendations.
When we were in May, we had 1 percent of our sequences being delta, the majority of our sequences were an alpha variant of the virus. And the data on the alpha variant demonstrated that the vaccines were working really well against preventing severe disease and death, and if you happened to get a breakthrough infection, you couldn`t transmit that alpha variant to others.
So, what`s happened in the last two months?
What`s happened in the last two months is that now, we have 83 percent if not more of our sequences that are the delta variant. We know the delta variant is much more transmissible, even in the absence of the vaccinate -- in the absence of vaccination. We see that in the map and why it`s gotten so red so fast.
And what we learned, really just even in the last several days, is that if you happen to be a vaccinated person that was a so-called breakthrough infection, somebody who is vaccinated but got infected anyway, a rare event, that those people can now, with the more transmissible delta variant, transmit to other people.
And that was really why we updated our guidance with the update of new science that came over the last several days.
VELSHI: So in the last day or so, we`ve heard from New York City, the state of California, the Department of Veterans Affairs, that they are requiring people to be, you know, vaccinated or provide proof or ongoing testing.
Do you think we are approaching a time where we should be empowering organizations and companies to be able to do that, to mandate vaccination?
WALENSKY: You know, since May, we have always said that local jurisdictions need to really understand what`s going on locally. We have a very heterogeneous population right now. We have areas of this country that have enormous rates of vaccination and very low rates of the disease. And we have areas of this country that have low rates of vaccination and extraordinarily high rates of disease.
And so, we always knew that the responsibility was going to have to fall locally to make these policies. And so, yes, I think that that is exactly what needs to happen.
VELSHI: Are you changing any of your behaviors in terms of travel, in terms of interacting with people, and how you`re dealing with other people? We`ve been so excited about the reopening of America.
WALENSKY: You know, this weighs heavily on me. We -- we`ve been doing this for 18 months. America is tired. America is sick. America has seen a lot of people suffer, and America has suffered a lot of loss.
So this is not something that I expected would be welcome news. It was certainly not something that I wanted to do. But my job is to protect the safety and health of the American people.
And so, this is what I felt we had to do with the new science that was given to us. I am definitely masking more now.
VELSHI: Dr. Walensky, thanks for your time tonight. Dr. Rochelle Walensky is the director of the CDC. We appreciate you being here.
When we come back, we`re going to hear more from today`s harrowing testimony about the storming of the Capitol, including words that I never thought I would hear uttered in a congressional hearing, said for a powerful reason.
Stay with us.
VELSI: One of the most powerful and disturbing moments at today`s January 6th hearing was hearing the officers who were there that day recount firsthand the racism they encountered from many in the pro-Trump crowd. Now, we`re going to play a portion of that testimony. I want to warn you in advance, this video contains racial epithets and strong language that are disturbing to here. I`ll be honest and tell you we debated whether or not to play those words. But we decided it`s best not to censor what Officer Harry Dunn told the nation today.
Now, if you would prefer not to hear them, and we understand if you do, now is the time to mute your TV for the next minute and a half.
OK. Here`s Officer Dunn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DUNN: I told them to just leave the Capitol, and in response they yelled, no, man, this is our House. President Trump invited us here. We`re here to stop the steal. Joe Biden is not the president. Nobody voted for Joe Biden.
I responded, well, I voted for Joe Biden, does my vote not count?
Am I nobody?
That prompted a torrent of racial epithets. One woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled, you hear that, guys? This nigger voted for Joe Biden.
Then the crowd, perhaps around 20 people, joined in screaming, boo, fucking nigger.
No one had ever, ever called me a nigger while wearing the uniform of a Capitol Police officer.
In the days following the attempted insurrection, other black officers shared with me their own stories of racial abuse on January 6th. One officer told me he had never, in his entire 40 years of life, been called a nigger to his face. And that streak ended on January 6th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: That streak ended on January 6th. That was Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn.
His colleague, Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell also described how some rioters saw the color of his skin and told him he wasn`t American.
D.C. Metro Police Officer Daniel Hodges recalled being dismayed to see that so many of the insurrectionists that day were carrying "Blue Lives Matter" flags as they attacked law enforcement. Those lines, the blue line across the black American flag, started to pop up all over the country as part of the backlash to the growing Black Lives Matter movement against racist policing in America.
Proponents of so-called Blue Lives Matter movement waved that flag in order to claim that they opposed calls for racial justice, not because they support racism, but because they support police. Yet on January 6th, when so many of those Blue Lives Matter supporters were faced with the decision about whether it was more important to back the blue and support law and order, or join with a violent, racist mob attacking law enforcement, they made it clear to the officers who were there that day what their real priorities were.
As these officers came forward to tell their story what was they experienced that day, under oath, how will the so-called proponents of law enforcement respond?
Joining me now, Derrick Johnson, the president and CEO of the NAACP.
Derek, good to see you. Thank you for being with us.
This testimony today, some of which we`ve heard before, which of which we knew anecdotally, that is hard to shrug off.
DERRICK JOHNSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: You know, I`m not surprised. Domestic terrorism in this country has always been based in white supremacy. Unfortunately, the prior administration allowed racism, division, and hatred to germinate in a way in which people felt more emboldened.
But I was glad to see Congressman Johnson chair this committee, someone who grew up in Mississippi, who had to face down racist attacks throughout his entire career.
What we are looking at is this concept of who people see as legitimate citizens and not legitimate citizens. And African-Americans have long had to face that question, whether it was us advocating for education, access to voting, or just to make sure that the Constitution also applied to us.
What we`ve seen on January 6th was an insurrection. That insurrection was based on white supremacy. And we`ve seen it before. But it was during the civil war.
VELSHI: We don`t often play profanity and epithets on air. But we thought it was important to hear that, because there`s something different about doing this under oath and telling the nation in an investigation into what happened.
Does anything change because of that part of the testimony? Do you think there are people who have denied the importance of studying January 6th and the movements that may have led to it, might tonight register that the penny might drop for them and say, there`s something here?
JOHNSON: I hope so. You know, unfortunately, media has been so democratized that individuals only go to the places where they want to hear their likeness and to reinforce their frame of thinking.
What we`ve seen today on public display is undeniable. What we know in this nation, if you allow domestic terrorism to go unaccounted for, you guarantee more domestic terrorism to exist. That`s what African-Americans face in the South throughout the time of segregation. These were individuals who were waving flags, the Confederate flag, who felt they were doing their patriotic duty. But in fact, they were holding up a treasonous symbol, commemorating a treasonous act, under this notion that there was a supreme race, and we did nothing to stop them.
We must stop what we`re seeing on January 6th, because if we don`t address not only those who were out there, but everyone who participated in planning and carrying out that insurrectionist, treasonous act.
VELSHI: You know, for the last year and a half, most of the times that we`ve seen police officers on TV in the course of carrying out their duty, it hasn`t been particularly positive. It`s been because of things that have happened.
So this sort of -- this one is a little hard to calculate because you are hearing from these police officers of color, talking about what they experienced from this mob, yet we are still struggling in this country with the very reason why we have a Black Lives Matter movement, because people said they were facing violence at the hands of police, black people said that, other people said, that`s not true, people don`t arrest people and beat them and up kill them for the sake of it.
How are we reconciling this now?
JOHNSON: Let`s be clear. Law enforcement officers by and large are not bad people who we have in eight law enforcement agencies across the country that lack the mechanism to hold officers accountable when they cause harm in our community. We have far too many agencies that have been -- they have allowed white supremacist mentality to invade their ranks, and they have done nothing about it.
We have allowed a small community to fan the flame of fear of otherness, therefore giving police justifications to create a reign terror on far too many communities. We have to right-size the relationship between law enforcement agencies and community. But we have to recognize that white supremacist dogma has invaded law enforcement agencies, we have to root it out, we have to hold people accountable. We must people communities safe.
VELSHI: So, Derrick, so many of our conversations the last year have been about the different experience of being American, the different America that you experience depending on the color of your skin, sometimes as it relates to policing.
Let`s listen to what Officer Dunn had to say. Congressman Adam Schiff, head of the House Intel Committee, asked him about his experience in America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Is this America what you saw?
DUNN: Everybody even sitting at this table fought a different battle that day, but it was all for the same war. And as black officers, I believe we fought a different battle also. And -- the fact that we had our race attacked, just because of the way we look, you know -- to answer your question frankly, I guess it is America. It shouldn`t be. But I guess that`s the way that things are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: This message we keep hearing over and over again, "I guess that is America, that`s the way things are." And that reconciliation has been very difficult on America in the last year for other people to see it, and they saw it with George Floyd, right? They looked at it and they said, George Floyd lived a different life than a white American would if the same thing had happened.
JOHNSON: You know, I too see America. And that was one of the most profound poems of the Harlem renaissance is the recognition that the Constitution that we have fought for, the Constitution that we helped build around, the reality of that, America has never been about a supreme race, it has always been about the many.
Unfortunately, that Constitution, those promises, the guarantees have not always been afforded. When you have someone who put on a uniform to protect and serve and seek to be a part of this concept of America, to perfect America, you have those who want an America that`s not America. That`s segregated, that`s separate.
It has nothing to do with the constitution and the guarantees therein. Therefore, we must address those individuals and stop maligning many in my community and other communities because I, too, see America.
VELSHI: Derrick, it`s always a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you for joining us.
Derrick Johnson is the president and the CEO of the NAACP. We appreciate your time tonight.
Even if Congress investigates the January 6th attack on the Capitol, hundreds of criminal cases are working their way through the court system based on evidence that the alleged insurrectionists posted online themselves.
We`ll get the latest on those cases when we come back.
VELSHI: All right. This guy, the one with the bullhorn and the tactical gear is Samuel Lazar. He`s an alleged rioter from January 6th who was arrested yesterday in Pennsylvania and charged with federal offenses like assaulting, resisting, obstructing law enforcement. Federal prosecutors have footage of him grabbing a bike rack that the Capitol police were using as a barricade and trying to pull it down with one hand while spraying at them with what appears to be mace with his other hand.
And if that wasn`t enough evidence for you, prosecutors also have this video from a few hours later that day, where lazar openly admits to macing the police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMUEL LAZAR, ALLEGED RIOTER: They maced us, those tyrannical pieces of (EXPLETIVE DELETED), and we maced them right the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: We maced them right the F back.
Now, I should note that during a brief court appearance today, Lazar said he intends to dispute his charge. Lazar is the latest of over 500 individuals arrested in the past six months in conjunction with the attack on the Capitol. Like in many of those cases, the evidence in Lazar`s arrest, the videos of him macing the police, the video of him confessing to it all, all come from what is essentially a small army of volunteer internet sleuths, regular people who have combed through tons of social media photos and videos to identify rioters and tip off the FBI about their actions.
Now given the volume of evidence, you`d think they would move very quickly. But just 25 people so far have pled guilty, which leaves 550 more cases left to resolve. It`s a ton to keep track of, and almost no one is doing as good a job of it as our next guest.
Joining us now is Ryan Reilly. He`s a senior justice reporter at "The Huffington Post" who`ve been watching January 6th riot cases like a hawk.
Ryan, thanks for joining us tonight.
I think the question a lot of people have is there is probably been no incident in recent history there is so much video from so many angles and corroborating witnesses and people admitting and posting on social media themselves that they were there and taking pride in it. Why are there not way more convictions and guilty pleas at this point?
RYAN REILLY, SENIOR JUSTICE REPORTER, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Yeah, I mean, I think the answer is bureaucracy. I mean, look at the extent of this investigation. Just try to imagine an inbox full of 200,000 tips, right? That`s a lot of tips. That`s how many -- more than the FBI received up at this point and trying to organize that and sort it is very difficult for an organization that in a lot of ways is pretty old school.
You know, at the FBI, there`s a real resistance to putting things down in writing. There is a heavy reliance on email. When there is this system that doesn`t necessarily, you know, isn`t up to speed and takes a little while to catch up to cases, it`s really causing a backlog here and a lot of these sedition hunters who have identified individuals months ago and watch him go around to -- Rudy Giuliani in Pennsylvania, go to other political rallies in Pennsylvania, are just a little bit confused about why it`s taking so long.
Some of these sedition hunters now have their own individual relationships with FBI agents. But others are dumping this into a black hole when they send something to the FBI and don`t know where the tip goes.
So, the Sam Lazar case has been out there awhile now. Finally, now, the FBI does something about it. But him sitting out there for a long time is something that`s difficult for the FBI to explain. I think might be something this commission is interested in, as well.
VELSHI: So there are a lot of people being charged. There are virtually no people that have been identified who are being let off the hook, but the gravity of these charges is different. You may be of the mind all of them should be charged because they all did something wrong, but some of them are being charged with relatively minor charges. They`re not generally being let off the hook but charged with minor things. There is a lot more energy going into the serious stuff.
REILLY: That`s right. I mean, those charges that a lot of the misdemeanor charges that most of the defendants are facing are the sort of thing you would face if you went to the Capitol, properly went through security and interrupted a congressional hearing. That`s the same type of charge.
So, there is a little push back from people in the communities that this is a much different event than a Code Pink protester that holds up a sign during an unfolding congressional hearing. But, you know, that`s basically what the charge that prosecutors have at hand and you don`t want to over reach, of course, because that`s something that already Republicans and some of the defense attorneys are accusing the government of doing, even though if you compare this to a lot of recent cases that the Justice Department handled, they are going more lax than they were against anti- Trump protesters back in during the Trump`s first inauguration.
So I think that`s something that the Justice Department keeps in mind because if they -- if they do overreach and they do overcharge someone, that`s going to have tremendous consequences not only in the judicial system but also in the legislative system because that`s where we`ll see a lot of political pushback if there is overcharging by the Justice Department.
VELSHI: Officer Hodges, one of the four police who testified today said most of the officers used the term terrorist. They talked about domestic terrorists. Officer Hodges held up the U.S. Code to back it up. So they were making a distinction between somebody that interferes in a hearing and what these folks were doing.
REILLY: Yeah, this is really an interesting legal distinction because there isn`t a law that makes it illegal to commit act of domestic terrorism. But there is. And that surprises a lot of Americans.
What there is, is on the back end, you can say -- you can get a terrorism enhancement and classify something as an act of terrorism but broadly speaking, there is not just one law that says this makes an act of terrorism, domestic terrorism illegal. There are individual statutes that apply to specific instances. But, you know, notably, gunning down people in a mob isn`t one of them so that`s not something that would normally be classified as a domestic terrorism incident.
If you look at Dylann Roof`s charges years back, that wasn`t domestic terrorism. So, you know, under the legal definition, I think Officer Hodges is right this meets the definition. That is something federal prosecutors have been saying in court and they say that this meets the legal definition. And the DOJ has referenced domestic terrorism statutes and calls it a domestic terrorism investigation and there are many domestic terrorism prosecutors that handle cases assigned to it and they`re handling it as a domestic terrorism incident.
But they`re going to be careful when they deploy that charge because that`s obviously a very politically loaded charge that you want to be careful about deploying -- you know, make sure you`re always deploying it properly.
But there really is no other way to describe what happened on January 6th. So, what they were trying to do was influence the government and this is a violent act to influence the government`s actions. So, it`s really hard to get away from that definition when that`s basically by the books what it is.
VELSHI: Ryan, good to see you. Thank you for joining us tonight. Ryan Reilly is a senior justice reporter at "Huffington Post."
OK. Up next, we have an update on a story Rachel has been following very closely. Stay with us.
VELSHI: Well, if all goes according to plan, all U.S. combat troops will be out of Afghanistan in littler over a month. So the clock is ticking loudly for the Afghan translators who fought alongside U.S. forces and who are now living in fear of the Taliban who are quickly advancing through the region.
As of now, the U.S. has yet to safely evacuate a single wartime ally in the 13 days since the operation to rescue them was announced. Tens of thousands still wait in fear they or their families would be the next ones targeted while they wait for their exit.
There has been some movement on the issue. Today the bipartisan leaders announced an agreement to spend over a billion dollars to cover the costs of resettlement for Afghan translators. This is part of a larger emergency measure intended to fund additional security on Capitol Hill and reimburse the U.S. Capitol police and national guard in the wake of January 6th insurrection.
It progress but by no means a done deal. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he hopes to get the bill passed this week but that, of course, involves Republican senators. So we shall see.
We`re going to continue to keep a close eye on this story as it develops because frankly, time is running out.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
It`s time now for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Lawrence, you and I -- I think we probably and our viewers have seen what we thought was all the video we could see and hear out stories we could hear about January 6th. But today blew my mind. I mean, there`s just -- there was more and it was that much more compelling and that much more serious and it lays waste to those people who say there is nothing more to hear here.