2016 Texas voting case begins with provisional ballot. Texas state legislature convenes for special session. Michigan Attorney General to investigate false claims about election. NY suspends Giuliani`s law license over election lies. Biden signs order to boost competition across economy.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT & CEO, VOTO LATINO: A vast majority of Americans who do espouse progressive policies, who do believe in climate change, who do believe that we should be talking about race. And recognizing that there is implicit bias. So, and that`s the challenge. It`s not that they don`t have power. They have a lot of power. And they`re using it in very strategic ways that we will fall victims to it, if we don`t sound the alarm and saying, house is on fire.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: I`m now imagining what a Taylor Swift actual struggle session will look like. I`m trying to conjure that. I`ll think about that in weekend. Here`s Brown, Megan Hatcher, Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you all for joining us. That is all within for this week. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Have a fantastic weekend, my friend. Thank you. And thanks, at home for joining us this hour. All right. Just a few days after the 2020 presidential election, the lieutenant governor of the great state of Texas, man named Dan Patrick announced a cash reward, a cash bounty. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said he was ready to pay up to $1 million to anyone who could find evidence of the supposedly voter fraud that President Trump said had cost him the election.
And this $1 million prize was not just for people in Texas, it was an offer valid in all 50 states, whistleblowers and tipsters should turn over their evidence to local law enforcement. Anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and final conviction of voter fraud will be paid a minimum of $25,000, but up to $1 million. Wow. And wouldn`t you know it?
Soon after Texas`s Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick threw that chum into the water. He got a bite. Oddly, he got it from somebody who has the same job he has in a different state. The lieutenant governor in Pennsylvania, Democrat named John Fetterman said that he had taken on the challenge from Dan Patrick, and bingo, instantly, he hit paydirt. He said he had bang up surefire evidence of an instance of real voter fraud in the 2020 election right in his home state of Pennsylvania and it was maybe not the kind of voter fraud, his Texas counterpart was hoping for.
But John Fetterman tried to collect just the same. He said, hey, Lieutenant Governor Patrick, it`s me John Fetterman, your counterpart in Pennsylvania. I`d like to collect your handsome reward for reporting voter fraud. I`ve got a dude in Forty Fort PA who tried to have his dead mom vote for Trump.
Oddly, as far as we know, Pennsylvania`s lieutenant governor did not receive any of that reward money despite forwarding that information, in response to Dan Patrick`s claim. He didn`t get his money from Dan Patrick, even after he pointed to additional evidence of voter fraud again in his home state. Yes, there was the dude in Forty Fort Pennsylvania, that was a real thing. Dude did get arrested for forging an absentee ballot application in his dead mother`s name, so he could cast up fraudulent vote for Trump with her ballot.
But he was not the only one. There was another Pennsylvania guy. This one in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. He filled out a voter registration application for his dead mother as well. Although his mother had been dead for like a dozen years. The guy then requested and submitted an absentee ballot in her name with a vote for Donald Trump for president in 2020.
When the state of Pennsylvania flagged his mother`s voter registration as belonging to an obviously dead person, this guy ended up signing and sending back a letter to the state swearing that in fact, she was still alive. He did that all in order to deliberately cast a single fraudulent vote for Donald Trump. He plead guilty to it in court.
But wait, there`s more. There was a guy in Chester County, Pennsylvania, another registered Republican who went and cast his ballot at his local polling place. But then 45 minutes later, he came back wearing sunglasses. And in sunglasses, he cast a ballot in his son`s name, somehow, an alert poll worker saw through his brilliant sunglasses disguise.
If you don`t just want to pick on Pennsylvania, there`s also a guy in Ohio, an actual elected local Republican official in his town in Ohio. He voted twice in 2020, once for himself, and once by forging his dead father`s signature. Again, he`s an elected Republican official in Ohio.
Voter fraud is very, very rare in our country, but there are a few instances of it here and there usually affecting a single vote. And the few instances of it that do turn out from time-to-time, they`re usually ridiculous. And all of those instances that I just described from 2020. All of those Republicans, all of them got off with basically a slap on the wrist for their crimes. The dude in Forty Fort, Pennsylvania prosecutors dropped the most serious charges against him. They`re working out a plea deal.
The guy who voted for his long dead, dozen years dead mother swearing she was still alive. He got five years` probation. The local Republican elected official in Ohio who voted for his dead father, he got jail time. He got three days in jail and a $500 fine. And it is worth keeping that context in mind when you also remember the case of Crystal Mason. We`ve talked before on the show about the case of Crystal Mason.
In 2016, she went to her local polling place in Tarrant County, Texas to vote, she discovered her name was not on the voting rolls there. So, at the suggestion of a poll worker, Ms. Mason, filled out a provisional ballot. She was told basically, we`re not sure what the problem is, but fill out this provisional ballot. That way, if there is any real problem here, we won`t count it. But provisionally, you can cast this vote in case we can sort out whatever seems to be the matter.
Few months after that experience, Crystal Mason was arrested and charged with illegal voting because when she filled out that provisional ballot, she was on supervised release after completing a prison sentence for a federal conviction. And she thought, because she had served her time in prison, that she was eligible to vote, she did not know that under Texas law, you`re not eligible to vote unless you`ve also completed any probation or any supervised release - after release from prison. She did not know that.
Even though that was a technical misunderstanding. And even though she casts a provisional ballot, and even though her provisional ballot was never counted. She nevertheless was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. Five years hard time for illegal voting.
So, if you are a Republican white guy engaged in an elaborate premeditated scheme to deliberately cast a dead person`s vote for Donald Trump, even though you know that person`s dead and it`s illegal, oh, it`s forgiven, probation, perhaps a small fine. But if you are Crystal Mason in Texas, trying to vote because she does not know she is not eligible. She`s only not eligible on a technicality. And in fact, her vote is never counted five years in prison.
Now, you may remember us talking about Ms. Mason`s case on this show before, it sticks in your mind right, because it is so, sort of egregious on its face, particularly egregious in context. Now it looks like again, in the state of Texas, it may be happening again.
This story starts on primary day in Texas last year, so not the general election. This was actually Super Tuesday. The day that 15 different states and territories held their presidential primaries, including Texas, March 3rd last year and the turnout on Super Tuesday last year was massive.
Harris County, Texas, home to the state`s largest city of Houston. Harris County was not prepared for the huge turnout on Super Tuesday last March. There were crazy long lines at lots of polling places, particularly in heavily minority communities. People in those communities had to wait hours to vote in many circumstances. And that was when the nation met a man named Hervis Rogers.
Mr. Rogers was the last person in line at the polling site on Texas Southern University`s campus that night. That`s him, bald guy there in the white shirt. Right on the other side of that glass door. Hervis Rogers worked two jobs. He got to the polling site just before polls closed at 7 PM to cast his ballot in the presidential primary. But in the end, it took him six hours and 20 minutes to get to the front of the line and cast his ballot. He finally walked out of that polling place after 130 in the morning.
According to some reports, he may have been the last person in the entire state of Texas to cast a vote that night. Again, he waited in line more than six hours. He told reporters after it was all over that it was worth it. He felt good. He also said though, that he`d been there so long, he had to go get ready for his next shift, for his next job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what`s next for the night?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, forgive me and go to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Got to get ready and go to work. After six hours online to vote. So, a couple things came out of that 2020 primary day in Texas. For one, Hervis Rogers became a little bit of the story of the day, became sort of one news cycle mini celebrity because his persistence and dedication were so impressive, also, because no American should have to be so persistent and so dedicated in order to just cast a vote.
The other thing that happened in the wake of that was that the county clerk who oversaw that voting debacle on Super Tuesday last March in Texas, that county clerk apologized and resigned.
Harris County commissioners appointed a new clerk, an energetic, ambitious, enthusiastic young man who really hit the ground running, he changed the allocation of voting machines and he extended voting hours, he convinced Harris County officials to approve millions more dollars to pay for poll workers and drive-thru voting and mail-in-ballots all things to try to ease the bottlenecks that led to such terribly long lines, hours long lines during the primary.
We actually spoke to him, you might remember on this show, the first day of early voting for the general election last year when all his hard work paid off. That day, the first day of early voting, Harris County had a record smashing turnout for the general election, almost doubled the early voter turnout in 2016.
Harris County continued to smash early voting records. It also recorded its highest voter turnout in decades, in large part because Harris County made voting so easy and so accessible. They didn`t want to get stuck in those bottlenecks of years passed. Vote at more times, in more places, vote from your car, vote by mail.
Texas Republicans looked at that, they looked at record voter turnout in their state`s largest city, one of the most diverse cities in the country. And they said oh, no, we cannot let that happen again. And that is why Texas state legislators are back in the state capitol this week called back by the state`s Republican governor for a special session, among other things, try to pass some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country.
And what the Republicans did to fashion this legislation, honestly, it seems like they just sort of looked at all the things that Harris County implemented last year, the measures that made voting easier and more accessible, made the voting process so smooth, led to record turnout. They looked at what Harris County did and they wrote a bill making, all of that illegal. No more drive-thru voting, no more 24 hour voting, no more sending mail in ballot applications out. All those things help people vote in Harris County, do we find things that help people vote in Harris County, made it easy and convenient to vote, ban that. Whatever that was, don`t do that anymore, make it illegal.
And just as Republican legislators gather in the Texas Capitol now for this special session to rollback voting rights, and to make an extra special just as former President Donald Trump and Trump asked Republicans from all across the country gathered up the road in Dallas for the annual CPAC convention. Just as all that is happening in Texas, today comes word from Texas that Hervis Rogers has been arrested. He has been arrested by the Republican attorney general of Texas for illegal voting.
Turns out when Hervis Rogers waited over six hours to vote in March of 2020, on Super Tuesday, he was a few months short of the end of his parole for an old burglary conviction in the 90s. He`s been out of prison for more than 15 years, but his parole did not technically end until last June. And he voted in the primary in March.
Texas attorney general has now charged Hervis Rogers with two counts of illegal voting, alleging that he voted in the 2018 general election as well. We do not know at this point whether this was an honest mistake on Hervis Rogers` part, perhaps he did not know he was allowed - he was not allowed to vote, we don`t know. That said perhaps it was a deliberate premeditated scheme to wait over six hours in line to vote in a democratic primary in order to break the law on purpose.
We do not know what Mr. Rogers has to say about any of this. We can`t ask him because the attorney general of Texas has locked him up, has locked up Hervis Rogers on $100,000. bail. He`s in prison tonight. Unable to pay $100,000 bail. Bail is set at $100,000, what, because he might escape and vote again.
Also, I should tell you this, Hervis Rogers lives in Harris County. The big diverse county that includes Houston that I just told you about, right? Hervis Rogers lives in Harris County. He voted in Harris County, but the Texas attorney general has chosen to file these charges against him in neighboring Montgomery County.
We asked the attorney general`s office, why they filed these charges in that other county. They told us essentially because we can. They told us the laws allow them to file these charges in any county that abuts Harris County, if they want to. They wouldn`t tell us why they picked Montgomery County to press these charges specifically. I can tell you though, that according to the most recent U.S. Census data of the eight possible counties that abut Harris County, of the eight possible counties, they could legally have charged Hervis Rogers then, of the eight counties from which they have the option of drawing a jury pool, if this case goes to trial. Montgomery County is just about the widest, it has the lowest proportion of African American residents of any of those counties.
I mean, I can`t tell you for certain that that is relevant there. But I can tell you that it`s true. The attorney general`s office, we went back to them again, they will not tell us why they chose this county.
I`ll also tell you that the ACLU of Texas has put out a strong statement on this tonight, it says, the arrest and prosecution of Mr. Hervis Rogers should alarm all Texans.
He waited in line for over six hours to vote to fulfill what he believed to be his civic duty. He is now locked up on a bail amount that most people could not afford. He faces potentially decades in jail. Our law should not intimidate people from voting by increasing the risk of prosecution for at worst innocent mistakes. We will continue to fight for justice and for Mr. Rogers and will push back against efforts to further restrict voting rights.
Only he had been a white guy casting a vote in the name of a dead relative for Donald Trump, right, can we all agree that that`s the way that - I will also tell you that the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has put on his own statement tonight, sort of, at least he has tweeted. He refers to local public radio news article that broke the news of Hervis Rogers` arrest as this liberal NPR article.
Ken Paxton says, Hervis is a felon rightly barred from voting under Texas law. I prosecute voter fraud everywhere we find it. And Ken Paxton prosecutes it whenever he wants to, as well. It would seem, and wherever he wants to.
The alleged illegal voting Hervis Rogers is accused of took place almost a year and a half ago. It`s not like he was hiding it. Like I said, he was a national media figure for a hot minute, because he had to cast his vote after that six plus hour wait before heading off to his other job. But apparently, this is the moment to arrest him, to lock him up on $100,000 bail and to bring charges against him that could put him in jail for decades. This is the moment. For some reason now have happened today.
As Republican legislators gather in the Texas state capital to try to make it harder for Texans who look like Hervis Rogers to vote. And just in time for Ken Paxton to give his big headliner speech at CPAC this weekend in Dallas, just before Donald Trump takes the stage there. I should also tell you, the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton himself is under indictment on securities fraud charges in the state of Texas, has been for years.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is currently under FBI investigation for abusing his office to allegedly benefit a wealthy campaign donor and elaborate scheme that was so egregious and over the top, seven of Paxton`s top deputies in the attorney general`s office reported him to law enforcement authorities.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is currently under investigation by the Texas State Bar to determine whether his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus fraud claims amount to professional misconduct that should result in him losing his law license. Remember when he tried to get the Texas - excuse me remember when he tried to get the United States Supreme Court to toss out other states presidential votes for Biden and declare Donald Trump the winner?
Yes, forge your dead parent`s signature in order to vote for Trump. slap on the wrist maybe, try to overturn a whole democratically decided election. You get to be Attorney General of Texas, even if you`re already under indictment, but wait in line for over six hours to cast a vote a few weeks before your parole is up. You get locked up with bail you cannot possibly pay, charged in a county that seems designed to ensure an all-white jury for you. threatened with decades in prison, seems to be where we are today.
Joining us now is Texas State Representative Nicole Collier. She represents part of Fort Worth. She`s also Chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus. Representative Collier, thank you for taking time to be here with us on a Friday night. I really appreciate it.
REP. NICOLE COLLIER (D-TX): Thank you, Rachel. I appreciate being here.
MADDOW: Obviously, I`m talking about a couple different things that are happening at once here. This case of Mr. Hervis Rogers, his arrest, these potential charges against him and the Texas special session right now to try to restrict voting rights across the state. Let`s start with the second one of those first, what is at stake in this special session? And do you think that there is any hope of holding off changes to Texas law?
COLLIER: Well, the Republicans have created barriers, they have filed bills that will create barriers to voting. We had one of the highest voter turnout rates in the last general election. And our former Republican appointed secretary of state said, those elections were smooth, insecure. Let me tell you what`s on the line. Your ability for free and fair elections are on the line. And what they are trying to do is to limit your voice.
So, you know blacks have one of the higher voter turnout rates in Texas, but we`re also over represented in the criminal justice system. So, when you create laws that are going to create new criminal penalties, it`s going to impact people of color more. In fact, the ACLU did a report that showed that the Texas Attorney General`s Office targeted people of color, 72 percent of the cases that they have filed have been against black and Latino people, especially most of them being women.
So, we have reason to be concerned. We all need to make sure that we turn out to oppose any further attempt on our right to vote.
MADDOW: I know that you have called on Texas residents to come make themselves known at this special session, to come to Austin, to come to the state capitol to come to these hearings, as Republicans try to pass new laws to make voting even more restricted in Texas.
I know that we`re expecting a pretty considerable rally at the Texas state capital for people who are trying to fight these rollbacks of vote, these proposed rollbacks of voting rights. Has this captured the attention of the people of Texas? Has this captured the attention of black and brown communities in Texas who, as you say, are particularly targeted by these types of voting rights attacks?
COLLIER: There has been a concerted effort. The churches are getting involved, making sure this is reminiscent of what happened in the 1960s, where we were fighting for equality. And we`re still fighting for equality today. But now we have more support in the business arena and in with our churches are back at it again, making sure that people are organized, that they`re prepared, because we have to stay ready. Always be ready, because they are chipping away at our right to vote.
So yes, I believe that there are more opportunities for people to speak. But we are just outnumbered in the Texas legislature. When you look at the numbers, there`s only 67 Democrats and that`s not enough to overcome this oppressive bill. So, we`re going to have to use all the tools that we have, whether that`s parliamentary procedure by filing amendments, or putting points of order up there. We`re going to do everything we can to stop this bill going forward.
MADDOW: Texas State Representative Nicole Collier, Chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus. Representative Collier, thank you. I know this is a really intense time. Thanks for keeping us on track here and up to date. I really appreciate you being here.
COLLIER: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right, we`ve got much more to get to, busy Friday night. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Last month, Republicans in the Michigan state senate published a report laying out the results of their own month`s long investigation into claims by former President Trump and his supporters that the election in Michigan was somehow rigger, that Joe Biden didn`t really win Michigan by more than 150,000 votes, that somehow the voting in Michigan must have been tampered with or burgled by the ham burglar.
Somehow Trump must have really won. They looked into all of it, deeply. And what they found was babkas. And I quote, this committee exhausted every resource available to it to thoroughly and faithfully examine our elections process in Michigan and drill down on claims and testimony specific to the 2020 election.
The committee found no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud and Michigan`s prosecution of the 2020 election. A detailed examination of all evidence presented to the committee established an undeniable conclusion. There is no evidence to prove either significant acts of fraud, or that an organized wide scale effort was - an organized wide scale effort to commit fraudulent activity was perpetrated in order to subvert the will of Michigan voters.
While again, this was a review by Republicans in the Michigan state senate, no fraud or irregularities in the Michigan election. sad trombone, very sorry, it turns out Biden just won Michigan.
Now at the top of the junk heap of Trump conspiracy theories about the Michigan election is a totally bananas set of claims about one Michigan county, county called Antrim County. And the Republican senators who investigated all the Trump conspiracy theories about Michigan found that the claims about Antrim County are actually the stupidest of them all.
The Antrum County conspiracy theories were indisputably false, demonstrably false and, based on misleading information and illogical conclusions. In fact, the Michigan Republicans found that the claims being made about Antrim County, Michigan, were so outrageously false. They were so egregiously and obviously divorced from reality. They found that the people still pushing those claims might actually be motivated by something other than just misunderstanding, they might be motivated by something worse than just ignorance.
The Senate Republicans in fact wrote this into their report. The Committee recommends that the Michigan Attorney General consider investigating those who have been utilizing misleading and false information about interim county to raise money or publicity for their own ends.
It`s actually the only fraud that Michigan senators said they found, when they looked deeply and carefully into all the Trump world conspiracy theories about the vote in Michigan. The only fraud they were able to find was the fraud committed by the Trump folks who were trying to sell this untrue, totally debunked, totally fictional fairy tale thing about Antrim County for profit. This is from The Detroit News, in an interview, Senator Ed McBroom, Chairman of the Oversight Committee that wrote the report, said his panel found what appeared to be potentially fraudulent activity among some individuals who have been making false claims about the election.
McBroom said, if you`re profiting by making false claims, that`s pretty much the definition of fraud. Well, here`s some news for us today. Michigan`s Attorney General Democrat Dana Nestle, today announced that she accepts that request and that challenge from these state senators who did the report debunking all the false fraud claims about Michigan.
She said today that her office will investigate what they`re asking her to investigate.
Her office said today that the attorney general`s office and the Michigan State Police will investigate people who are profiting off making these Trump world false fraud claims about the Michigan election.
And it seems like it might not be hard to know where to start. "The Detroit News" today pointing out that, in fact, one of the main proponents in Michigan of the fake election fraud claims there has up an Election Fraud Defense Fund, the fundraising page, which says that he`s raked in over $384,000.
"The Detroit Free Press" points out today that another prominent Republican proponent of the fake election fraud claims in Michigan, a former state senator, his website, making all these false fraud claims also solicits financial donations for himself.
There`s also this, which we found today on the telegram channel promoting the cause of an Arizona style election audit in Michigan. They`re apparently - they`re going to hold an event in Michigan two weeks from now where you can learn all about the confirmed existence of systematic election fraud in Michigan, you can learn all about why they need to have a forensic audit there. You can learn all about it after you cough up $20 to get in the door.
We tried contacting the organizers today to find out where that $20 goes. If you, in fact, decide to hand over your hard earned money to attend the Michigan fraud fest. So far, we have not heard back from them, but we will keep trying.
One other thing to watch here, though, it`s going to happen early Monday morning, because it`s not just grifty potential fraud suspects in Michigan who have been pushing the false election fraud claims in Michigan.
In late November, Trump attorney Sidney Powell and three other lawyers filed a federal lawsuit in Michigan trying to push many of these same claims. The lawsuit actually tried to force the State of Michigan into awarding its electoral votes to Trump, even though Biden won the election in Michigan.
The federal judge hearing that case in late November, not only dismissed the Trump world lawsuit, she basically nuked it. She wrote in her ruling in early December, "Plaintiffs ask this court to ignore the orderly statutory scheme established to challenge elections and to ignore the will of millions of voters. This the court cannot and will not do. The people have spoken."
The judge said, "This lawsuit seems to be less about achieving the relief Plaintiffs seek and more about the impact of their allegations on people`s faith in the democratic process and their trust in our government." That was December federal court ruling.
Well, on Monday morning - this upcoming Monday, bright and early, that same federal judge has now demanded the presence of all of those Trump lawyers who brought that dumpster fire lawsuit. She`s demanded the presence of all of them at a hearing to consider, "Motion for sanctions, motion for disciplinary action, motion for disbarment referral, motion for referral to State Bar disciplinary bodies." That`s where the Trump lawyers who filed that lawsuit will be Monday morning in Michigan.
So only two weeks ago that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani lost his license to practice law in New York State, thanks to his alleged lies and misrepresentations to the court in his own dumpster fire legal efforts on behalf of Trump`s false claims that he secretly won the election. That was just two weeks ago.
This week, Mr. Giuliani lost his license to practice law in Washington D.C. for the same reason. Well, now we know that Monday morning, Sidney Powell and the other Trump lawyers who tried to play that same game in Michigan, they will have their reckoning as well.
While the Michigan State Police and state attorney general start investigating anyone who is making money, still trying to sell this disproven, malicious anti-democracy horse hockey to the American people.
Happy Friday, everybody, TGIF. Lots of days we move back, some days though we really do move forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Think of the 26-year-old employee at a company. She`s a star worker, but she isn`t being treated right. She`s underpaid, passed over for promotions.
A competitor across the street knows and wants to bring her in at a higher wage, but she can`t do it. Her company threatens legal action over a non- compete clause she had to sign in order to get hired in the first place. She can`t afford a lawyer for help, so she`s locked in.
Imagine if you`re in her shoes. You`d feel powerless, disrespected, bullied, trapped. That`s not right. Workers should be free to take a better job if someone offers it. If your employer wants to keep you, he or she should have to make it worth your while to stay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Biden, this afternoon, just before he signed a new executive order designed to increase competitiveness across the economy. And I`ll tell you this, this seems like kind of a big deal. It`s at least got big aims. Making things worth the American people`s while, whether as an employee or as a customer seems to be the kind of unifying factor of the order.
But it`s - this thing touches on so many different parts of the economy, it`s almost hard to get your head around it at first. It covers everything from reining in non-compete clauses like we just heard the President describe there to make sure Americans can leave their jobs for better offers.
It orders changes to make drug prices more competitive by allowing Americans to buy imported Canadian drugs. It has really specific stuff like allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter at drugstores, the way we sell reading glasses over the counter. Right now hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars, making them an over the counter purchase like reading glasses could bring that down from thousands to hundreds of dollars.
This executive order, today, even has a line in it, I kid you not, about forcing cell phone manufacturers to let you get your phone repaired by a third-party rather than making you come back to them.
Who hasn`t been annoyed by those weird rules in the past.
There`s another line that would make it, so if you`re if you paid for Wi-Fi on a flight, and the Wi-Fi didn`t work, or if you paid to check a bag, and then the airline lost your bag, the airline would have to give you your money back, because they didn`t actually provide those services.
There`s all those specifics, but then there`s really big, broad changes too to very big things like how merger and antitrust law will be enforced. There is in fact, so much here that I wanted some help breaking it down from somebody in a position to know.
Joining us now is Bharat Rammurti. He`s Deputy Director of the President Biden`s National Economic Council, Mr. Rammurti, it`s a pleasure to have you here. Thanks for making time tonight.
BHARAT RAMMURTI, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Is it fair to say that people getting - treated more fairly, either as a customer or as an employee, ought to be thought of as the unifying idea here, the unifying theme here?
RAMMURTI: Yes, the common thread through this entire executive order and the 72 specific actions that are called for in it, is reviving competition in the American economy. And that`s going to do three things - it`s going to lower the prices that people pay for goods and services they buy every day, it`s going to raise wages for workers, and it`s going to promote innovation and dynamism in the economy.
So to give an example, non competes, you talked about that at the beginning, about 60 million workers in this country are subject to non- compete agreements. And these are not high level executives, who as the President said today, know the secret formula for Coke, and you don`t want them to go to Pepsi. These are hotel workers, construction workers.
One in five workers without a college degree is subject to a non-compete agreement. I heard the other day about yoga teachers being subject to them. And by banning these types of non-compete agreements, what we allow is workers to go find a job that`s better for them, which is going to cause wages to go up for workers, get people better options, maybe better benefits, more flexible hours. And that`s the kind of economy that the president wants to build.
MADDOW: How much of this can be done by executive order? I mean, obviously, legislation is always the sort of more permanent way and also the more difficult way to get stuff passed.
But I`m struck by the fact that the word encourages, appears a lot in this executive order, is some of this, the president laying out the way he wants the economy to operate, or some of this enforceable, and stuff that can actually be changed by virtue of the president signature today?
RAMMURTI: No, there`s a lot that`s going to change, because of this executive order today. There`s a set of orders towards, what are called the executive branch agencies, health and human services, the department of transportation, and so on, where there are clear directives to take action and within a certain timeline.
So for example, that hearing aids change that you talked about, that`s directed to happen within 120 days. As you know, there are some portions of the order that talk about encouraging or urging agencies to do things, that`s because some of these agencies or independent agencies like the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and so on.
But in those cases, we at the White House have talked to those agencies, they are on board with the changes we are talking about. So we hope and expect over the next months to see a series of changes that are going to make concrete improvements in people`s lives.
MADDOW: Let me ask you specifically on that hearing aids point. I`ve been fascinated with that hearing aids issue for quite a long time, just because it`s so easy to understand, especially when you look at that parallel with reading glasses, for example, which you can get over the counter and which made reading glasses so much more affordable for the tens of millions of Americans who need them.
President Trump signed legislation - I think, it was a bill in his first year in office that was designed to accomplish that same goal. But of course, it never happened. Why didn`t it happen then? And why will it happen now?
RAMMURTI: Yes, as you know, this was actually a bipartisan proposal from Senator Warren and Senator Grassley to allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter. It passed in 2017. By law, the Federal Food and Drug Administration was supposed to issue regulations to actually allow the hearing aids to be sold over the counter by 2020.
The Trump administration didn`t take action on it. President Biden wants to make sure that as soon as possible folks can get hearing aids over the counter. And I would just note, 50 million Americans suffer from mild to moderate hearing loss and only one in seven of those folks actually have hearing aids. And the reason for that is because it can cost up to $5,000 a pair.
With these changes, folks will be able to walk into their local drugstore and pick up a pair of hearing aids like they buy a thermometer. It`s going to cost a few 100 bucks instead.
MADDOW: Bharat Rammurti, Deputy Director of President Biden`s National Economic Council, this is a big deal. Thanks for helping us understand all those pieces of it. Thanks for being here tonight.
MADDOW: All right. More ahead, stay with tonight.
MADDOW: NBC`s Chief Foreign Correspondent is our friend Richard Engel. Richard is in Kabul, Afghanistan right now as U.S. troops complete their withdrawal from that country after 20 years of war. Today, Richard met with a guy who worked for years as a translator for U.S. troops there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD ENGEL, CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT FOR NBC NEWS (voice-over): In Kabul, I met Tom which is what U.S. troops called him.
ENGEL (on camera): Did you hear President Biden`s promise.
TOM, TRANSLATOR: I got a lot of news, a lot of announcements, but they are no action.
ENGEL (voice-over): Tom lived in closed quarters with U.S. troops and has reams of recommendation letters. He helped translate for and sometimes defend U.S. forces on 150 combat operations.
TOM: He told me like, hey Tom, just get behind me and show me the enemies.
ENGEL (on camera): So you`re pointing out the U.S. soldiers where are the Taliban.
TOM: Yes, I`m pointing them.
ENGEL (on camera): They are over there, they`re over there.
TOM: Yes, I showed.
ENGEL (voice-over): Tom`s former company commander vouches for him and wrote a letter endorsing his application.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We owe a debt not just to Tom, but to the interpreters that served us and fought alongside us.
ENGEL (voice-over): Tom has been waiting for his visa for four years.
TOM: This process is really hard man.
ENGEL (on camera): You helped the U.S., now the U.S. needs to help you.
ENGEL (on camera): Simple as that.
TOM: Yes, yes. That time U.S. need - was need help, so we helped them. Right now, we need help, so U.S. Army, the U.S. government have to help us.
ENGEL (on camera): Seems reasonable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He went over 150 combat missions with U.S. troops. Think about that, over 150 combat missions. The U.S. promised we would keep him safe in exchange for him helping our forces there. But in his case, so far, we are blowing it. As you heard Richard report there, this young man applied for a U.S. visa to get out four years ago. But still nothing.
This translator who Richard spoke with today told him that people he knows who translated for British forces or for French troops in Afghanistan, they have had their applications to get out processed and OKed, and they have been flown out. It`s all been done quickly and safely already.
Those people he knows who worked with forces from other countries, they`re out and safe already, as the Taliban now forms a ring around Kabul, and has claimed responsibility for coverage - that has claimed coverage of more than 85 percent of Afghan territory.
So for some reason, if you served British or French troops, you`ve been taken care of already. But if you served American troops, you`re still just sitting there, as time starts to run out and as the Taliban close in.
Now, President Biden has pledged that the U.S. is going to do the same. That there is a home in the United States for these folks if that is where they want to be. That we will stand by them as they stood by us. He has made that commitment, its crystal clear, but honestly, there isn`t sign of it on the ground.
One of the proposals that has been floated for how to get - help get the U.S. translators to safety in the very near term, which is when they need to get to safety, is for the U.S. to fly them to the U.S. territory of Guam. We have done that before. Guam has served as a safe landing place for tens of thousands of evacuees from previous U.S. wars.
That`s where they have come first, as their applications for U.S. visas are processed. Guam knows how to do it. They say they are ready to do it again. Last night on this show the governor of Guam told us that she and the island of Guam are basically ready and waiting for somebody in the U.S. government to reach out to her so that Guam can make this happen for these translators to whom America owes a debt of gratitude.
Guam is happy to do it. They are ready to start putting plans in motion, but they haven`t heard anything from the Biden Administration. What`s going on? What`s the hold up?
We got some insight into that today. Wednesday this week, I interviewed Matt Zeller, he`s an Afghanistan veteran. He`s been organizing to get translators evacuated. When I asked him why it seems like nobody`s arguing against this plan, but still it`s not happening. He said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: --the holdup here.
MATT ZELLER, TRUMAN PROJECT NATIONAL SECURITY FELLOW: We`re told it`s Department of Homeland Security. We`re told it`s career officials who want to do the whole, oh, we can`t bring them here. They might be bad people. This program has existed for over 13 years and in that time not a single nefarious individual has snuffed through.
These people had to be vetted to work with us overseas so they`ve gone through extensive vetting just to be able to serve alongside U.S. forces.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He said they were told. I asked him what`s the hang up. We`re told that`s the Department of Homeland Security. That answer caught my attention when Matt Zeller told us that a couple of days ago here on this show.
Well, now today some new reporting from our colleagues at NBC News appears to confirm that assessment. NBC News reporting today, "Biden Administration officials have been locked in an internal debate over plans to evacuate Afghans who worked for the U.S. military, with some officials arguing against taking the evacuees to U.S. territory, where they would have more legal rights once they arrived.
In the administration`s discussions on the issue of getting these translators to safety, some officials at the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department have voiced misgivings about evacuating Afghan partners to Guam or other U.S. territories where their visa applications would be reviewed, according to two congressional aides and three people familiar with the matter." it`s five sources.
"Those officials believe there are additional legal issues you encounter when you bring them to U.S. territory," said one congressional aide. "If an Afghan`s visa requests were denied on US territory, legal experts said the applicant would have recourse to appeal the decision under American Immigration Law. But if instead the applicant was in a third country, he or she would have virtually no grounds to appeal any rejection of a U.S. visa request or an order to deport that person back to Afghanistan."
All right. It is worth pointing out here again, that these are translators who risked their lives to help American forces in Afghanistan and they have already been vetted by the U.S. Military in order to carry out that work.
Let me just say this clearly, if, in fact there are random officials who are not the president - there are random officials at Homeland Security and the State Department who are worried that if those translators end up in a U.S. territory like Guam, they`ll have too many legal protections. They`ll have too much due process, while their claims are evaluated. And that`s the holdup for evacuating any of them at all? That`s a problem.
That is so backwards. It`s almost inside out. I mean, heaven forbid they get due process from us, after all they have sacrificed for our country. The risk is that some of them might get too much due process, so we`re not evacuating any of them?
President Biden appears legitimately committed to getting this done, but for whatever reason, the government he runs is not getting it done. The holdup appears to be at the Homeland Security Department, and according to this NBC News report today, also at the State Department.
Officials at Homeland Security and the State Department are blocking this from getting done and it is getting to be too late. The President says he wants this done. Getting this done means it has to be done quickly. The dithering and hand wringing here is blocking any of the evacuation effort from actually starting. Somebody has to unplug this.