Congressman Jake Auchincloss, Democrat from Massachusetts is interviewed. Bloomberg News was first with the head-snapping news that hacker groups within the Russian government this weekend breached the computer systems of Republican National Committee.
ETAN THOMAS, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I mean, so many people right now for not violent crimes in jail for a nickel bag of weed. So, it`s a reflection of bigger problem in society.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Etan Thomas, thanks so much for joining us tonight. Appreciate it.
THOMAS: Thank you for having me.
HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Tuesday night.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Very happy to have you here.
Attorney General Merrick Garland today went up to Capitol Hill specifically to meet with members of the U.S. Capitol Police. The attorney general attended their roll call today to thank them for serving as police officers. Also to thank them for what they did to save the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.
It was six months ago today that a Donald Trump rally on the ellipse morphed seamlessly into a violent mob attack by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol. With D.C. police and U.S. Capitol Police officers on the front lines trying to defend it against that violent, violent attack.
The attorney general today said thank you to the Capitol Police officers for what they went through six months ago today, but he also importantly went up to the Capitol Police roll call today to update officers on the state of the Justice Department`s investigation into what happened, updating them on the 500-plus arrests that have been made thus far, the seriousness of the charges brought against those who have been arrested. Also the Justice Department`s efforts to find and arrest roughly to 300 people more they are looking for.
Justice Department -- law enforcement has arrested on average -- law enforcement at all levels on average has arrested three people every day since the January 6th attack happened. But some suspects they are looking are wanted for potentially serious crimes.
For example, they still got a huge reward for information that leads to the arrest of whoever it was that put pipe bombs, operable pipe bombs, not dummy props, outside the headquarters of both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee, just hours before the full-blown assault on the Capitol started. Looking for whoever put those pipe bombs there.
Today, the Washington field office of the FBI released 11 stomach churning new videos including stop motion and slow motion and spot shadows zeroing in on individual perpetrators as they try to identify lots more people who violently attacked police officers that day. The stuff they put out today is hard to watch and one instance they show an officer being beaten, being hit with a big metal pole.
There`s another close-up video of an officer being wrenched to the ground and stomped and beat by the mob. It does seem right that on the day marking six months from this attack we`d get the attorney general in person at the U.S. Capitol Police thanks the officers for defending the Capitol but briefing them on the Justice Department legal pursuit of the attackers which again continues.
President Biden tonight put out a strong statement marking these six months. It says in part: Not even during the civil war did insurrectionists breach our Capitol, the citadel of our democracy. But six moths ago today insurrectionists did. They launched a violent and deadly assault on the People`s House, the representatives and the Capitol Police sworn to protect them as the Congress carried out the sacred ritual of our republic and certify the Electoral College vote.
This was not dissent. It was disorder. It posed an existential crisis and a test of whether our democracy could survivor. A sad reminder that there`s nothing guaranteed about our democracy.
But while it shocked and saddened the nation and the world, six moths later, we can say unequivocally that democracy did prevail and that we must all continue the work to protect and preserve it. That requires people of goodwill and courage to stand up to the hate, the lies, the extremism that led to this vicious attack, including determining what happened so we can remember it and not bury it, hoping we forget.
It also requires all of us working together, Democrats, Republicans and independents, on behalf of the common good to restore decency, honor and respect for the rule of law. And it impels our government, both the executive and legislative branches to take the urgent steps needed to protect the fundamental right to vote.
That`s part of a long statement tonight from President Biden marking six months since the attack on the Capitol, January 6th, six months ago today.
Just a few minutes after that statement from President Biden came out, we got additional reporting from the White House that President Biden is going to meet with representatives from all these voting rights and civil rights groups this week. We think that`s going to be a meeting at the White House the day after tomorrow.
Now, that comes as progressive groups advocating for voting rights pushing for new federal protections for voting rights are increasingly pressing the White House and President Biden personally to do more, to push voting rights to the top of the agenda, to find a way to get it done, to push for voting rights protections as hard as President Biden is pushing for an infrastructure bill, as hard as he`s pushing to get the country vaccinated.
But as we hit six months since the January 6th attack today, that For the People Act, the federal legislation to bolster voting rights at the federal level, it is still sitting stalled in the United States Senate. And maybe this meeting with the civil rights and voting rights groups this week, maybe this statement from the president tonight about redoubling efforts here, maybe it does imply that there`s going to be some big new push to get it done.
But while that legislation does it stalled in the Senate it is worth also getting real about the fact that Republicans aren`t just using their election loss last year and Republican fantasies about how the election must somehow have been stolen for them or otherwise they couldn`t have lost it, they`re not just using that to justify rollbacks of voting rights in every state where they`re in control, they are doing that. But they`re also in pretty significant numbers demanding a willingness to overturn elections as a new single-issue litmus test for Republican candidates for office of all kinds. Not just restricting voting rights, but demanding that Republican candidates pledge that they will overturn election results whenever they can and whenever it`s advantageous to Republican candidates.
Remember what was happening inside the Senate when the mob actually breached the Capitol six months ago and got inside? Remember what was happening on the Senate floor at that moment? A U.S. senator named James Lankford, Republican senator from Oklahoma, at the moment the mob got inside at that moment he was giving a speech on the Senate floor about how he was going to join with Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and all these other Republican senators to object to certifying the result of the election.
Senator Lankford was in the middle of a long argument about how he wanted Congress not to certify the election results on January 6th. He thought the election should stay uncertified for another 10 days past January 6th so the states could basically think again about whether their election results were really truly their election results and maybe they might prefer to send some different electors, as opposed to the ones they`d already sent for the count that was supposed to be happening that day.
That is the case that he was making on the Senate floor, pause the count. Let`s wait another 10 days. Let`s give states 10 more days to think about it. That`s the case he was making on the Senate floor when someone from Senator Lankford`s office came up to him while he was speaking -- which does not happen to U.S. senators when they`re speaking on the floor, nobody walks up to them and tells them anything.
But somebody from his office walked up to him very calmly and told him very quietly, that the mob was inside the building and Senator Lankford stopped his argument, he stopped his sentence mid-phrase. He said, "Thank you", and he skedaddled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): Pause the count, get more facts to the states before January the 20th. We proposed a 15-member commission just like what was done after the failed election of 1876. This -- we`re encouraging people to spend days going through all the issues, so states can have one last opportunity to address any challenges, then the states, as the Constitution directs, would make the final decision on their electors. I have some colleagues who have said that a 10-day commission is not enough time. So they have counter-proposed just ignoring the lingering questions. We need to do something.
My challenge today is not about the good people of Arizona.
SEN. PAT LEAHY (D-VT): And we`ll stand in recess until the call of the chair.
LANKFORD: Will pause. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Stand in recess, you can see Joni Ernst and Tom Cotton, both military veterans, looking around, recognizing something`s going on. You can see the commotion. You see people start moving around him. You hear Senator Leahy who`s presiding at that moment hit the gavel, he doesn`t know why, somebody from his office comes up and says they are in the building. Folds up his papers, walks away.
What Senator Lankford was arguing there on January 6th just after 2:00 p.m. that day, was that the election shouldn`t be certified. Congress shouldn`t certify them. The state should take another 10 days, a commission, a study. We`ll audit the result, right? It should take another 10 days, which would basically get us right up against inauguration day itself before the electors would actually be sent up to Capitol Hill and counted.
And as he`s making that argument, he`s getting right to the apex of his argument and then, oops, sorry, sir. Here they come. You got to stop what you`re doing and we got to get out of here. Here they come. Who`s to say they`re not coming for you.
After the mob rampaged through the Capitol, hunting the speaker of the House, hunting the vice president, pawing through senators desks on the floor of the Senate, injuring more than police officers, ransacking offices they could get into including the Senate parliamentarian`s office, Nancy Pelosi`s office, Senator Jeff Merkley`s office, after all of that happened on the 6th, six months ago today, to his credit, Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma changed his mind, decided that he no longer wanted to be part of delivering to the rioters what they had come for.
He tore up that speech he had been giving at 2:00 p.m., and when they reconvened that night, he gave a very different set of remarks just after 9:00 p.m.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LANKFORD: All right. I want to join my fellow senators and saying thank you to the Capitol Hill police, the law enforcement, the National Guard, the Secret Service, who stood in harm`s way while we were here debating, they were pushing back, and I was literally interrupted mid-sentence speaking here because we were all unaware of what was happening right outside this room because of their faithfulness and because what they have done. And I want to thank you them -- thank them.
Obviously, the commission that we have asked for is not going to happen at this point and I understand that, and we`re headed towards tonight towards the certification of Joe Biden to be the president of the United States. And we will work together in this body to be able to set a peaceful example for the days ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In addition to that statement on the floor that night, Senator Lankford a little bit later on that night also released this joint statement with Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana, asking for the vote to certify Biden`s win in the election to be unanimous. Both Lankford and Daines were going to object to the certification. But after the attack on the Capitol, they put out this statement together. We must and we will have a peaceful and orderly transition of power. We now need the entire Congress to come together and vote to certify the election results. We must stand together as Americans we must defend our constitution and the rule of law.
Senator Daines and Senator Lankford released that the night of January 6, six months ago tonight. That`s from two senators who`d been planning to block the certification of the election results, but after the attack on the capital that day they said you know what no we are not going to do it this way.
Senator Lankford indeed within a few days had even written an open letter to the African-American citizens of his state of Oklahoma, apologizing for how he had expressed his doubts about the election, specifically calling out lots of majority/minority cities and locations that he said were particularly suspicious in their election outcomes. He said, quote: After decades of fighting for voting rights, many black friends in Oklahoma saw this -- meaning saw my explanation of my objections to the election -- as a direct attack on their right to vote, an attack on their vote to matter and even a belief that their votes made an election in our country illegitimate.
He says, quote: I should have recognized how what I said and what I did could be interpreted by many of you. I deeply regret my blindness to that perception and for that I am sorry. Senator Lankford writing that letter to African-American citizens in Oklahoma on January 14th, just the week after the attack on the Capitol.
Well, now, that same U.S. Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, he`s up for re-election in 2022. And he has a challenger in the Republican primary who is running against him purely and solely on the grounds that Lankford was wrong to vote in the end to certify the election result the night of January 6th.
Because he ultimately voted to certify the election result to declare that Joe Biden had in fact won the election, Senator Lankford should therefore be ousted from the Senate. And not only is he facing that primary challenge in his re-election fight in Oklahoma, the remarkable thing here is that the chairman of the state Republican Party in Oklahoma has endorsed that challenger, has endorsed that challenger to Senator Lankford who again is only running against Lankford on that one plank.
The state Republican Party chairman of Oklahoma just spoke at a rally for the guy who is trying to unseat Republican U.S. Senator James Lankford specifically because he voted to certify the election, the state Republican Party chairman endorsing the challenger to the sitting incumbent Republican U.S. senator.
If you run a state Republican Party and you`ve got an incumbent Republican U.S. senator who`s up for reelection, usually you would not expect the Republican Party in that state and its chairman to be crusading against the incumbent senator trying to get him or her thrown out of office. Usually, that`s how it works for obvious reasons.
But six months on from the Capitol attack today, what we`ve got now is a Republican Party that does that and what we`ve got now are a lot of single- issue Republican voters and Republican activists for whom their single issue, the only thing that`s driving them in politics is this fantasy that Trump secretly won the election and the election must be overthrown so he can be reinstated.
It has turned the state Republican Party in Oklahoma against their incumbent Republican U.S. senator as he faces a re-election battle. It`s also animating hundreds of Republican campaigns for all sorts of state offices all around the country, Amy Gardner reporting today for "The Washington Post", quote, dozens of candidates promoting the baseless notion that the election was rigged are seeking powerful statewide offices such as governor, attorney general and secretary of state, which would give them authority over the administration of elections. These candidates are running in several of the decisive states where Trump and his allies sought to overturn the outcome and engineer his return to the White House.
Quote: Of the nearly 700 Republicans who have filed initial paperwork with the FEC to run next year for either the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives, at least a third of those Republican candidates have embraced Trump`s false claims about his defeat. At least a third of them.
So at the center of the stage, there`s Republicans -- in fact, right, Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country restricting voting rights and Republican governors across the country signing those new restrictions into law. Democrats apparently powerless among themselves to decide that it`s worth changing the Senate rules to block that sort of action by the other party. So, it`s proceeding unimpeded, unimpeded now by the courts with the collapse of the Voting Rights Act, unimpeded by any change in voting laws that the Democrats could agree amongst themselves to enact if they decided it was priority enough and if they decided they would change the Senate rules to get it done.
So, center stage, Republicans are getting this done. They are in a draconian way rolling back voting rights. They`re also changing election laws to give partisan state legislators and other partisans more control over the counting of the votes, and the election rules and the certification of the vote and disputes after the election.
They`re seizing the power over elections for partisan Republican actors as well, while they`re making it harder for Democratic-leaning voters to cast their vote or have it counted, right? That`s -- that`s center stage and that`s enough of an emergency when it comes to our democracy, right?
But in the wings, the new normal and Republican Party in Republican politics is a demand that newly elected Republicans or credible Republican candidates for office must show a willingness to use their power to overturn elections from here on out.
James Lankford facing a primary challenge endorsed by the chairman of the Republican Party in his state by a candidate who is running against him because he didn`t use his power to try to overturn the election to keep Trump in office. Hundreds of Republican candidates for statewide office across the country saying they will -- they want to be elected to office so they can use their power in office to overturn election results for favored candidates.
And, you know, that is what the post-election so-called audits of the election are about. Did you hear what they`re doing in Wisconsin now? We`ve got more on that ahead tonight. It will blow your mind.
That`s what the political rallies now regularly being held by the former president are all about, him pressing these grievances about how the election was stolen and how real Republicans would have overturned the election for him and he`ll get his revenge and his supporters should get their revenge on any Republican office holders who don`t use their power to overturn election results. I mean, that`s the actual ground truth of Republican campaigns right now in the states when you look at the grounds on which people say they are running the planks of the platforms that these people are standing on to contest statewide offices.
Incidentally, it`s also what`s behind the white supremacist, weird Hitler youth-looking march in downtown Philadelphia this weekend, right? Hundreds of legit white supremacists in matching little dweeby uniforms marching on Philadelphia this weekend yelling the election was stolen, the election was stolen, right?
They`re shouting all their white supremacist nonsense, stuff very much like the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally from back in 2017. But what else are they yelling? The election was stolen, the election was stolen.
I will tell you that there is one silver lining of the Hitler youth-looking white supremacist group marching in Philadelphia this weekend which is that Philadelphians met them when they arrived and ran them out on a rail, at least according to a local police official.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL CRUM, PHILADELPHIA POLICE OFFICER: They started engaging with citizens of Philadelphia who were not too happy about some of the things they were saying. Apparently, these males felt threatened, and at what point, somebody in their crowd threw a type of what we believe is a smoke bomb to cover there to retreat and they literally ran away from the people of Philadelphia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They literally ran away from the people of Philadelphia. Yes, did they look up Philadelphia before they traveled there?
We`ve got a lot to cover tonight. The U.S. government is now confirming that the American withdrawal from Afghanistan is now 90 percent over. President Biden had set September 11th as the date by which all U.S. forces would be out of Afghanistan. Now, as of July 5th, more than 90 percent of the entire withdrawal process is done.
A great number of members of Congress who served in Afghanistan are now turning up the heat to try to make sure that Afghans who worked as translators and in other support roles for U.S. troops during that long war can get can themselves get out of Afghanistan ahead of what is appears to be a lightning Taliban advance across the country which threatens the lives of those Afghans who helped U.S. troops, threatens the lives of their families.
NBC`s Richard Engel has actually been embedded with a group of Afghan commandos. These are members of the Afghan military who are the sort of elite anti-Taliban fighting force left there. They`re now fighting without U.S. support. He filed an incredible report from Afghanistan about the kinds of actions they are now engaging in to fight the Taliban, to stop a full Taliban takeover of that that country.
But we`ve got at on the home front Afghan veterans in Congress trying to make sure that Afghan helpers for us troops get out. And it`s taking -- it`s something that needs to happen fast, it`s taking a really interesting term we`re going to be looking at that tonight.
We`ve also got a really fascinating turn in the big ransomware attack that hit this weekend and the new news breaking tonight that the National Republican Party may have simultaneously been hit by a cyber attack from Russian government hackers. That is fascinating in its own right. The RNC is denying that they were hit, whether or not the RNC is up to admitting if they were hit, it`s a fascinating challenge for the U.S. government.
There`s a lot going on. We got reporters who join us tonight. We got lots to come. Stay with us.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a Taliban controlled area outside Kabul, Afghanistan`s best troops huddle before tonight`s mission. They`ll raid a safe house and kill or capture the Taliban inside. Before, these elite troops had American support shoulder to shoulder, no longer.
What is it like now fighting all on your own no American support?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are ready to fight. If we die we don`t care about it. We are ready. We are for this.
ENGEL: So, the building they`re closing in on is a mosque and they think there are 15 Taliban fighters inside.
But soon the commando on point spots a Taliban fighter.
The RPG is going to fire.
They have clearly lost the element of surprise, so now it`s a straight-up fight.
Wherever you can find it.
They finally made it. This was their target. No idea what could be waiting inside.
They look through the mosque`s windows but the Taliban are gone. They escaped?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Escaped. Taliban escaped. Yes.
ENGEL: The Taliban haven`t gone far. The commandos kill three of them in hiding and an Afghan airstrike kills three more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This mission is very good and successful for us.
ENGEL: But is it enough? The Taliban are making rapid advances. The U.S. trained Afghan army is crumbling, losing or surrendering a third of the posts in the last few weeks.
Richard Engel, NBC News, Logar Province, Afghanistan.
MADDOW: NBC`s Richard Engel with Afghan commandos, just remarkable and scary reporting on that fight that remains as U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan.
Today, the Pentagon said the U.S. withdrawal from America`s longest war is more than 90 percent complete. In addition to pulling out troops and the equipment that go with them, that go with them, that goes with them, the U.S. military handed over seven military facilities to the Afghan defense ministry including Bagram, the largest U.S. military installation there, the Bagram Air Field.
The speed at which American troops have been leaving means the Pentagon will almost certainly complete the withdrawal by President Biden`s September deadline, but it also raises concerns about what happens there in the aftermath of U.S. forces leaving. This weekend, the top U.S. military official in charge of overseeing the troop withdrawal raised alarm about how quickly the Taliban is growing its control over large swaths of the country. He warned about a potential civil war upon the departure of U.S. forces, warned about the potential for a full Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
And that that prospect obviously raises all sorts of questions about the length of this war, what choices we as a country have to make on our way out the door, what options Afghanistan as a nation will have in the long run. But before any of those long runs concern in the very near very short run, it also raises a very concrete question about the promises that our government and our military made to Afghans who helped U.S. forces fight the war and whether America is keeping those promises.
During the long U.S. war in Afghanistan, U.S. troops enlisted the help of thousands of Afghan interpreters who assisted the U.S. mission at great personal risk to themselves. Those interpreters and other people who served in support roles for U.S. forces, they`re now in very acute danger, very severe danger of being targeted by the Taliban as the Taliban rushes to overtake the country. And they took risks to support U.S. forces. The question is whether the U.S. can make good on its promise to take care of them? In this case, that means to evacuate them out of the country in very short order.
It is to that point, that the veterans group Vote Vets has just released a powerful new ad that features 11 sitting members of Congress, all of whom are veterans, all trying to pressure President Biden basically into keeping America`s promise to protect the Afghan interpreters who assisted the U.S. military. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD/VOTEVETS)
REP. ANTHONY BROWN (D-MD): As the sun rises on America`s Independence Day --
REP. CONOR LAMB (D-PA): The sun sets on America`s longest war --
REP. MIKIE SHERRILL (D-NJ): Our troops are coming home on orders of our commander-in-chief.
REP. SALUD CARBAJAL (D-CA): Promise made, promise kept.
REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): But our troops aren`t the only ones who serve the cause of freedom.
REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS (D-MA): There are thousands of Afghan interpreters who served at our side as loyal as any one of us.
REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): My interpreter is an American hero too.
REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): We promised to have their backs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They put their lives on the line for us and they`ll be in danger once our troops are gone.
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBEGER (D-VA): The president did the honorable thing when he promised to get those who helped us out of harm`s way.
SLOTKIN: Now we need to get it done.
REP. KAI KAHELE (D-HI): We`re down to days and weeks to save thousands who served beside us.
REP. ANDY KIM (D-NJ): Whatever it takes, we in Congress are ready to help.
AUCHINCLOSS: Because we leave no one behind.
SHERRILL: We need to take them too.
BROWN: We need to take them too.
SLOTKIN: We need to take them too and give them the freedom they earned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We need to take them too.
Joining us now is Congressman Jake Auchincloss. He`s a Democrat from Massachusetts. He`s a retired marine who served in Afghanistan. He`s one of those members of Congress who appeared in that new ad urging the protection of Afghan interpreters and their families.
Congressman Auchincloss, it`s a real pleasure to have you here. Thanks for taking the time tonight.
AUCHINCLOSS: Thanks for having me on, Rachel.
MADDOW: It does feel like this is a very short order demand and a very short order task. The reference there in the ad is to days and weeks. What do you think the time frame is here? And do you think this is doable?
AUCHINCLOSS: Yes, it`s doable. The war on terror has been with me my whole life. I reported on the attacks as the editor of my middle school newspaper, I joined the Marine Corps as a platoon commander after college. Just a few weeks ago, as a member of Congress, I voted to repeal the AUMF.
And I know that that`s a story shared by many of the veterans who joined me in that video with Vote Vets, and we`re coming together to make sure that America keeps its promise.
When I was a platoon commander in Afghanistan, I worked with several interpreters who were with me when we hit IEDs, who were with me as we talked to village elders and Taliban-controlled villages. I made promises personally to them and I want to keep them.
MADDOW: In terms of the U.S. government`s capability in this regard, there`s been some interesting discussion about what it would take to get this done at speed, moving Afghan interpreters and their families to a third country where they can have their visas processed and be vetted before they`d be cleared to come to the United States, potentially moving them to Guam, U.S. territory, for that purpose.
Obviously, the huge months long back -- in some cases, years-long backlog that has become the normal in terms of processing these kinds of visas won`t work here. How do you see this logistically coming together? What do you think should be done?
AUCHINCLOSS: President Biden said that he would get 100 million shots in arms in his first hundred days, he more than doubled that. He said he`d deliver a big bold infrastructure bill, he`s delivering that as we speak. He said we are going to withdraw fully by September 11th and secure the futures of the 18,000 interpreters who aided American troops, I have full confidence he`ll deliver that. And we in Congress are going to keep the pressure up and keep the oversight up to ensure that it happens.
Yes, in Congress, we can pass procedures to streamline and expedite the SIV program and that`s necessary. But we know that that`s still a years-long timeline. There needs to be immediate action to relocate these interpreters from Afghanistan to third countries, so that they can have a safe place to apply for the SIV program.
MADDOW: As you say though, President Biden has said this can happen, right? President Biden has pledged that we will not leave them behind. You and your fellow veterans in Congress making a very articulate, very persuasive case that this needs to be done. Everybody seems to be arguing on the same side of it.
But yet, it doesn`t appear to be operationally happening. Sometimes it`s harder to push on an open door than a closed one. Do you know either who needs to be persuaded or what fires need to be lit under what parts of the government in order to make it start happening more quickly?
AUCHINCLOSS: Unlike President Trump who turned his back on the Kurds and allowed them to be massacred, this president`s going to keep his promises. He`s been clear about that. They are moving expeditiously. We have negotiations ongoing with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, will be relocating up to 9,000 of the Afghan interpreters, the other half we are still in negotiations with other countries about that.
I have confidence that this administration can execute and that we will see them safely relocated before September 11th.
MADDOW: Congressman Jake Auchincloss, Democrat from Massachusetts, thank you for being here and helping us understand. I know this is -- as I said - - a short order problem that needs a big response and very short term. We`d love to have you keep us apprised as this develops.
MADDOW: All right. Much more to come here tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Bloomberg News was first with the head-snapping news that hacker groups within the Russian government this weekend breached the computer systems of Republican National Committee. NBC News has not independently confirmed Bloomberg`s story. The RNC does say that a third party IT provider they used had been breached. They`re denying any of their data has been compromised though.
That said, tonight, "The New York Times" appears to be matching Bloomberg`s reporting, saying, quote, early indications are that the culprit was Russia`s SVR intelligence agency, the group that initially hacked the Democratic National Committee six years ago.
If those early indications are right and this is Russian security services hacking the computer systems tied to the Republican National Party, the National Republican Party, I mean, that`s a big hairy deal, right? The Russian government attacking American political parties after all we`ve been through, and just three weeks after Biden and Trump -- excuse me -- Biden and Putin met and supposedly had their big confrontation over this kind of thing?
The reported attack on the Republican Party hit at about the same time that a Russian-based organized crime group called calling itself REvil claimed responsibility for a ransomware attack on a U.S.-based tech firm. They`re demanding $70 million as ransom in that attack. REvil was also behind the attack that shut down the big meat processing company JBS last month, you might remember.
But REvil has also been attacking all sorts of high-profile targets on U.S. soil for more than a year now. Hitting like a law firm that worked with all sorts of celebrities and big corporations like Apple and schools, even green energy companies. Their cyber attacks along with the attacks of other organized Russian criminal groups led to that fairly bold confrontation just under a month ago between President Biden and Vladimir Putin.
In that meeting, Biden says he told Putin that because these criminal attacks were originating on Russian soil, that these Russian criminal groups were effectively operating with impunity from Russia, he says he told them that Putin was effectively responsible for these attacks and that if the U.S. determines that attacks like these are going to continue to happen, we would respond.
Again this weekend, before this REvil group took responsibility for this latest big cyber attack this ransomware attack, President Biden doubled down again saying if the attacks were determined to be from Russia, he, quote, told Putin, we would respond.
Well, what about now? What if it`s not just organized Russian criminal groups giving Putin some degree of deniability, but if this reporting from Bloomberg and "The New York Times" is right tonight that it`s also Russian security services targeting U.S. political entities again, how do we respond now? What should we expect?
Joining us now is "New York Times" cybersecurity reporter Nicole Perlroth.
Nicole, it`s nice to see you. Thank you for making time tonight.
NICOLE PERLROTH, NEW YORK TIMES: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: It does feel like these are sort of -- well, I don`t know if they`re twin attacks or parallel attacks. The timing of these two attacks being so close to one another does feel suspicious given that this our REvil group appears to operate from Russia and the RNC attack appears at least at initial glance to be from Russian government hackers.
Do you think it`s right to look at these as potentially linked?
PERLROTH: I don`t know if they`re linked yet. You know the thing about REvil is that the ransomware attacks never stop, but they`re getting a lot worse. What is clear though is that I think we`re being tested. You know, Biden laid out a big red line during the campaign and said he was putting Putin on notice, that he would not tolerate any form of election interference and that appears to be something along the lines of what we`re seeing right now with a breach of a contractor used by the RNC, although we don`t know if the RNC was the end target or collateral damage.. So those are the questions we`re asking.
In terms of the ransomware, they just had this summit as you just described where ransomware was at the top of the agenda and Biden said here`s a list of 16 critical sectors if you hit with a disruptive ransomware attack, we will respond. Well, over the Fourth of July weekend, we saw one company in one of those critical sectors get hit with ransomware in a supply chain attack, where not only were their customers hit but their customers` customers were hit.
So, so far, the impact in the United States seems to be muted. We haven`t heard about a lot of American targets. But in Sweden, a grocery chain had to shut down 800 stores. Their railways were affected. Their pharmacies were affected, and this is precisely the kind of attack that Biden called out in that summit just a few weeks ago.
MADDOW: What is the general understanding in the field about what the U.S. government means when it says we will respond? What is the -- what`s -- what`s in the arsenal? And what is actually deployable?
I`m not up enough on what cyber offense looks like to know what the U.S. government might do if in fact Biden decides to back up his words with action.
PERLROTH: Well, until now, we`ve responded largely with sanctions and indictments and that never really gets us anywhere because clearly it`s not a deterrent. As we all know, Russia doesn`t extradite its cyber criminals. So they enjoy safe harbor there. So the question is what`s next?
And the problem is, is that U.S. systems are still so vulnerable that every time we try to prepare some kind of response for a Russian hack, whatever it is, whether it`s election interference or ransomware, we`re always coming at this from a position of but what will Vladimir Putin do? Because we`re still so vulnerable here.
And so, that really hamstrings our response. But some of the options that have been thrown out there are things like, why don`t we take off take out the lights in Russia? And that`s -- there`s been this very short of war conflict between us and Russia over the years. My colleague David Sanger and I broke the story a couple years ago that Cyber Command was hacking into the Russian grid and making a very loud show of their access to say hey we`re here if you turn off the lights or do something seriously disruptive to the United States, we`ll turn around and turn your lights off too.
Some of the other options that have been discussed is a leak of Putin`s financials or a leak of some kind that would expose the kind of corruption that Putin fears with Navalny and the goal would be to create three thousand Navalnys.
And then we have pulled off a series of attacks, small cyber strikes things like we`ve taken out a ransomware group`s infrastructure ahead of the election last year because we were worried they would lock up voting infrastructure. or we actually hacked into the computers at the Internet Research Agency, which is where Russia`s trolls were sending out a lot of their divisive messages to Facebook and other social media.
And I don`t know exactly what the message just said, but they said something like, we know who you are and if you meddle with our upcoming election, in that case, it was the 2018 midterms, we will come for you. So, you know, I think there is a working group at the State Department right now, with the U.S., and 19 other countries that are coming up with a menu of consequences, and trying to figure out you know where is the threshold for these attacks and where will we respond beyond the usual low-level diplomatic penalties.
MADDOW: "New York Times" cyber security reporter Nicole Perlroth, thank you so much for your reporting tonight and also as always your clarity in explaining these things.
PERLROTH: Thanks, Rachel. Great to see you.
MADDOW: You, too.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: They waved flags, held up signs, chanted and listened to several speakers including former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman.
JUSTICE MICHAESL GABLEMAN: I don`t think anyone would be here if we all had confidence that this was an honest election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We wouldn`t be here if we had confidence this was an honest election. Report by a local NBC station covering a rally in Milwaukee, the day last November that it was announced that Biden had won the 2020 presidential election.
And that man who the reporter`s speaking with there is a former Wisconsin state Supreme Court justice. His name is Michael Gableman. He spoke at that Stop the Steal rally.
Mr. Gableman is now back in the news because he was just appointed by Wisconsin Republicans to oversee their latest attempt to undermine the 2020 election results. Unlike the bizarre world third-party audit that Arizona Republicans have been undertaking in their attempt to undermine the election results, in Wisconsin, they`ve decided their review will take the form of an investigation.
So far, for the investigation, they`ve hired that Trump supporting "I don`t trust the election results" former state judge to -- he`s going to be overseeing the investigation, along with two former police officers, one of whom was previously banned from getting anywhere near polling sites on election day in 2008 because he got caught distributing a self-published report full of bogus allegations about voter fraud.
So that`s going to be his doing the investigation for Wisconsin Republicans.
Last week, "The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" obtained the contracts that Wisconsin Republicans have entered into with these investigators, so now we know how much taxpayer money is going to these guys to do their investigation of the vote.
Interestingly, "The Journal Sentinel" is also reporting that one man in Wisconsin has decided he doesn`t want to wait for the results of whatever that sham information turns up investigation turns up. He is going to conduct his own personal review of 2020 election in Wisconsin. Quote: A New London man has been making copies of ballots in some communities as he conducts his own review of an election Joe Biden narrowly won in Wisconsin. The man has made copies in at least two Dane County communities, Verona and Westport, as well as other counties that he would not disclose to reporters.
In one county, copies of all the ballots from the 2020 election were already posted online, but apparently this guy decided he didn`t want to reference those images as posted online. He instead went down to the county and made his own physical copies of the ballots, which I guess is something he`s allowed to do maybe.
Republican officials are increasingly around the country engaged in all kinds of weird attempts to undermine the election results and try to say that Trump really won. Wisconsin may be shaping up to be one of the weirder ones.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: When COVID-19 first overwhelmed New York City, New Yorkers every night at 7:00 would lean out their windows and make noise to thank health care workers. Well, now, tomorrow, essential workers will be the focus of the city`s first ticker tape parade since the before times. Hospital personnel, first responders, transportation employees, city workers, small businesses, education, child care providers, many other workers who kept the city afloat during the worst of the pandemic will be honored. Fourteen floats traveling along the Canyon of Heroes on Broadway, ending at city hall.
The grand marshal will be Sandra Lindsay, the nurse from that hospital in Queens who was the first to get the Pfizer vaccine in December. Again, that is all happening tomorrow in New York City.
That is going to do it for us tonight. I`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.