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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 8/12/21

Guests: Eric Holder, Carol Alvarado


Interview with Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general under President Barack Obama and chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. Interview with Texas State Senator Carol Alvarado. Today, the Pentagon announced that the U.S. will temporarily deploy 3,000 U.S. troops back to Afghanistan to aid in evacuation efforts.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Mehdi. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you here.

I cannot sing at all. You know how some people can like sort of sing like match a note, but they`re not good at carrying a tune. I can`t sing at all. People cry when I try happy birthday.

When I sing that national anthem, it sounds like a crime. It`s ter -- I`m just absolutely terrible. The only saving grace in my relationship is that Susan is equally terrible. So, we can sing together but nobody else can hear either of us sing.

Because I am so terrible at that, because it is astonishing how bad I am, I never make fun of anyone else`s singing no matter what.


MADDOW: That was the rendition of "God Bless America" that greeted conference-goers at the cyber symposium that has been underway all week in South Dakota, hosted by the CEO of a pillow company who`s named is Mike Lindell. Mr. Lindell has been in the news this week, you might have seen, because of a very conservative Trump appointed judge in Washington, D.C. just allowed a massive multibillion dollar lawsuit to go forward against him and Rudy Giuliani and Trump lawyer Sidney Powell. That lawsuit was filed by Dominion Voting Systems, the voting machine company that has been vilified by former President Trump and his supporters with all sorts of wild conspiracies about how that company is somehow to blame for the conspiracy that led Trump to appear to lose the election when secretly he won.

Dominion`s massive lawsuit against Giuliani and Powell and Mr. Lindell, this week that was allowed to go forward in federal court. That`s why his name has been in the court this week. But Mr. Lindell has been in the news a lot since the election. He has spent every waking hour promoting these Trump-related conspiracies about the election.

And I will say, his take on it, on this matter is a little bit different than the other Trump surrogates who have been carrying this water for all these months. Mr. Lindell`s standard line is that everyone will agree with this conspiracy theory. That the nation will soon come together in unanimous consensus, that in fact, Trump is still president, and he won the last election.

Lindell says that the Supreme Court will not only rule on the issue, which isn`t going to happen but when they rule on the issue, it will be 9-0. It will be unanimous because the evidence that Trump secretly won the election is so incontrovertible.

He said all the liberals in the media will come to the same realization. The liberals of he says of TV cable news will lead the charge to see Trump reinstated in his rightful office once they like all of us see and recognize the incontrovertible proof he has that Trump won. He even says President Biden and Vice President Harris will go along as well. They will not just recognize. They will graciously accept the incontrovertible proof that the pillow guy will reveal that this has all been a big misunderstanding. The election absolutely went the other way.

He says that Vice President Harris and President Biden will be very nice about it and they will leave office and welcome back in the real president and lord and emperor Donald Trump who will unite the country. Because Mike Lindell has the obvious, obvious incontrovertible proof that Trump won.

Mr. Lindell is also specifically the personal source of the claim that former President Trump reportedly repeats to others and himself believes, Lindell is the source of the claim Trump will be reinstated as president this month, in August 2021. That prediction that Trump will be reinstated, that among other things led to this recent Homeland Security briefing that was sent to police organizations around the country this week warning them of a renewed potential for political violence in our country by Trump supporters who are in fact expecting Trump to be reinstated as president in August because the guy from the pillow company says it`s true and Trump believes it. And so, therefore, why should not we all believe it?

Beyond him predicting that Trump would be reinstating in August, the bull`s-eye he has painted is actually getting smaller and more sharply defined. This week, Mr. Lindell convened this cyber symposium in South Dakota in which he said he would finally reveal the incontrovertible data that shows that Trump won the election.


The right-wing watchdog Patriot Takes which had that amazing version of "God Bless America" from the event, they also posted video of Mr. Lindell on far right talk radio, promoting his cyber symposium in South Dakota this week. Him saying not only does he still believe Trump will be reinstated this month, but it is actually tomorrow. Tomorrow morning, he says is when the whole world, the whole country, but actually, the whole world will have a unanimous revelation that Biden isn`t really president and Trump must be put back in the White House.

He said, quote, the morning of August 13th, that`s tomorrow morning, it will be the talk of the world, comma, going, hurry up. Let`s get this election pulled down.

Not just that Trump is coming back in August. It is tomorrow morning. It will be the talk of the world. Do you think?

What happens if that`s not true? Where do you go with a failed prediction that specific? Right? That sort of thing doesn`t end well of it`s not like you can weasel out of saying, I meant August 13, 2022. What are you going to say, right?

Yesterday, the far right "Washington Times" newspaper reported that at the Mike Lindell cyber symposium in South Dakota, Mr. Lindell`s own handpicked cyber expert, some cyber security guy he hired to review his incontrovertible data from the election. And I tell you, the guy -- this guy in question is cited in some of the crazy Trump election lawsuits. He`s one of the people Giuliani and company relied on for their affidavits that they waved around all over the country saying they had proof of the fraud.

This cyber security fraud is definitely someone on team wing nut. He is on their side. He is Mike Lindell`s handpicked expert to review this data, his supposed proof about the election being stolen. Well, the conservative "Washington Times" newspaper is now reporting that that dude handpicked by Mike Lindell to look at the data. He looked at the data and -- the word you`re looking for is sad trombone. Wah-wah.

You see the headlines there -- headline at "The Washington Times" Exclusive: cyber expert says his team can`t prove Mike Lindell`s claims that China hacked election.

Here`s the lead in "The Washington Times". Dateline: Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The cyber expert on the red team hired by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell now says the key data underpinning the theory that China hacked the 2020 election unveiled that Cyber Symposium is illegitimate.

Mr. Lindell said he had 37 terabytes of irrefutable evidence that hackers broke into the election systems and switch votes in favor of President Biden.

The proof, he said, is visible in intercepted network data, or packet captures that were collected by hackers and could be unencrypted to reveal a cyberattack occurred and votes were switched.

But cyber expert Josh Merritt, who`s on the team hired by Mr. Lindell to interrogate data for the symposium, told "The Washington Times" that packet captures are unrecoverable in the data provided by Mr. Lindell, and that the data cannot prove a cyber incursion. Quote: So, our team said, we`re not going to say this is legitimate if we don`t have confidence in the information, Mr. Merritt told "The Washington Times" on Wednesday, the second day of the symposium.

If you are someone who is confidently predicting that some amazing but highly unprovable thing is going to happen in the future, think hard about when you`re promising it will happen, right? Think hard about how you`re promising, in terms of how specific your time frame is, because -- I mean, enough people are on this train, right? Where Trump has led them to believe he is still rightful president. The election was stolen and the evidence exists and it can be revealed and it will be revealed.

If you show your work and put out your supposed evidence to be checked, those Trump folks are being led off a cliff in terms of their homes and dreams and expectations. And it is easy to look down at them for that. It`s easy to have sort of schadenfreude about that. But they`re real people who are really invested in this and there will be consequences for them psychologically, maybe politically, sociologically in terms of falling off this proverbial cliff.

What will they do? I mean, this is the big reveal. This is the thing they`ve been banking on against everybody on earth one, telling them something different. This is the thing they`ve been clinging to and it is now being revealed and it`s nothing? What do they could in response?

Soul searching is not probably the answer. Self-reflection, humility, those are not usually the first things that happen.


But as Aaron Blake notes at the "Washington Post" today, there was one really handy bit of confirmation in this proclamation from Mike Lindell`s cyber expert that he didn`t actually have any data proving the election. When he made these comments to "The Washington Times" saying that Lindell`s data didn`t prove the election was stolen, Lindell confirmed to "The Washington Times" the source of this supposed data on which Lindell has built this whole conspiracy theory -- these months of rantings and ravings and fake documentaries and symposia and websites and exposes and all the rest, including the reinstatement in August fantasy.

Where does this date come from that Lindell has used as the basis for all these months of agitation on this issue? Well, his cyber expert confirmed, the actual material that is the basis for these claims has been provided by a man named Dennis Montgomery.

And I`m guessing you do not recognize that name, but you might remember him from these headlines not long ago. The man who conned the Pentagon. Also, how a Reno casino conman duped the CIA and pulled off one of the most dangerous hoaxes in American history.

National security and intelligence reporter James Rosen wrote a book in 2014 about this guy. It`s about other things, too, but a big part was that this guy conning people and conning the government out of huge sums of cash, including by him claiming that he could decode news stories broadcast by al Jazeera and inside those news stories, he could access magic secret al Qaeda messages because he could find them in the pixels.

He couldn`t find them in the pixels. That was all made up. And it had been suspected for a long while. You see the data from "The Daily Beast", November 9, 2020. It had been suspected for a long while that this legendary con artist had sold a new version of his con to the Trump secretly won the election people.

But now, the Trump secretly won the election people have confirmed that is where they`ve gotten their so-called data. That`s where they got this data that they had been confidently complaining, while inconvertibly show and prove to everyone that Trump won and we`ll all see that date and it will be so clear and we all say, I`m so sorry. We disagreed about this, let`s all get together and go to the new re-inauguration.

So maybe we`re not all going to wake up all 330 million of us tomorrow, you know, joining in a unanimous consensus revelation that the wrong guy is in the Oval Office. Maybe that won`t happen. But the consequences who really believe that will happen may be significant and may cause bizarre behavior. It may cause people to need help.

I think it is an unpredictable moment in terms of people going down the QAnon Trump election fraud rabbit hole. These next few days will be hard. The rest of the month will be hard, but the next few days is probably going to be hard for them.

And sort of watching it closely enough to recognize that, you know, it really is like a visit to earth two -- pitiful and sad and ridiculous. It may drive consequences for people who have really been living this fantasy. But it is also driving real live events here on earth one.

Today, the citizens of Mesa County, Colorado, just found out they`ll have to foot the bill for buying all new elections equipment in their county, thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars of otherwise sound equipment, something that`s not that old, that now has to be decertified and can`t be used again and it needs to be replace, because there`s an elected Republican county clerk in Mesa County, Colorado, who apparently wanted to earn her way into a day one headliner appearance at Mike Lindell`s cyber symposium.

A secretary of state investigation in Colorado has found passwords for this local voting equipment in Mesa County, Colorado, were photographed and posted online on right wing blogs and all sorts of conspiracy sites, supposedly to show that, you know, China, China, something, something, pack it captures bamboo unclear.

But as in Arizona where they had to decertify machines and buy all new ones, because Arizona Republicans forced Maricopa County to hand their election equipment to the randos trying to find the magic proof Trump secretly won. As in that one Trump supporting county in Pennsylvania where they did the same thing and they needed to buy all new election equipment there, too.

Now, again, in Mesa County, Colorado, they have spoiled and therefore rendered decertified the actual voting equipment from that county, and the county taxpayers will have to pay to buy all new stuff because of elected Republicans` eagerness to feed this nonsense and shame.

Also today, "The Associated Press" was first to report that the Trumpy ex- judge, who Wisconsin Republicans have put in charge of their efforts to question and undermine those election results after Biden won Wisconsin. That ex-judge has so far spent Wisconsin taxpayer money to send him on a pilgrimage to Arizona to go see what these Cyber Ninjas are doing there with the mess that they are making of that states ballot and voting machines.

Not only did he have Wisconsin taxpayers pay for him to go see the Cyber Ninjas, in the Arizona audit, it was revealed today in "The Associated Press" that he also had the taxpayers of Wisconsin foot the bill to send him to South Dakota, this week, so he could attend the Mike Lindell cyber symposium as well. God bless America, because you know, so much to learn.

Meanwhile, actual election workers, all over the country are having to live and work amid the jet stream of the sewage that the Trump folks are still spewing out about election fraud. "The Washington Post" reporting now that Maricopa County supervisors who have resisted the Cyber Ninja`s nonsense audit out there, last week they were sent an orange Guantanamo-style jumpsuit in their offices, along with a voice mail where the caller threatened to murder each individual member of the board of supervisors and every member of their families.

The anti-democracy, anti-election nonsense at this point from Trump world, from Trump Republican world, it`s so absurd that it is collapsing in on itself, which may be dangerous in terms of the individual consequences for individual people who have been living that fantasy. But it is collapsing. The arguments are collapsing.

And in a good faith world, when the evidence underlying their so-called argument was revealed to be fake, the argument would then be lost. The farfetched claims that supported that argument are revealed now as false. The false idea of the fraud in the election, the false idea at the heart of this con, in a fact-based world, they would also collapse.

But that is not happening. Even while the circus filter on this stuff becomes a laughingstock. That core idea, that there was fraud in the election, is still something the Republican Party is planning to ride all the way back into power, all over the country and ultimately in Washington. Last night and into this morning, a Texas state senator stored for 15 straight hours, in the Texas Senate, to use try to stop Republicans in that state from passing the latest motion version of their voting rights bill.

For 15 straight hours, she did not sit down, she did not eat, she did not drink water, she did not go to the bathroom, she was not allowed to lean on anything.

About halfway through the whole thing, she did put on a back brace, put a back brace on her waist to help her stay on her feet. She started shortly before 6:00 p.m. Texas Time, last night, and she wrapped up shortly before 9:00 a.m. this morning. Her Democratic colleagues gave her a standing ovation for slowing down the Republican effort. But in the end, even 15 straight hours of standing on her feet, that wasn`t enough, because literally minutes after she left the floor, the Republican senators, on a party line vote, pass their bill to make it harder for Texas people to vote in upcoming elections.

But on the other side of the Texas capitol, members on the house have been mounting their own delay tactics for weeks, dozens of Texas Democrats from the house left the state entirely to deny the House a quorum. So that they couldn`t pass the anti-voting bill through the house side, like the Senate did last night.

Some of those Democrats have since returned home. The Republican House speaker has, as we reported last night, signed out warrants for their arrest for not showing up to work, all this time. Yesterday, one of those House Democrats who is back in Austin, he secured a court order shielding him from being arrested. Today, 44 of his House Democratic colleagues requested similar orders from the court, to prevent their arrest as well.

It seems like that effort was actually going to succeed, but now, look what happened tonight. A Texas Supreme Court justice has undone that initial order, which opens the Texas Democrats back up to being arrested, at any time, unless they return back to work so that the Republicans can have their quorum, so they can pass through the House the bill making it harder for people to vote. The same one that passed in the Senate this morning after a 15-hour effort by that one Texas senator, to try and hold it up.

What else can they do?

These anti-small D democracy efforts that we have seen all over the country this year, they are not just about making it harder to vote, it`s also about manipulating the elections themselves, gaining control over the count.

ABC News just did an analysis of all the anti-voting bills that Republican legislatures have passed this year. What they found was startling. I didn`t expect the number to be this high. Using data from the nonpartisan group Voting Rights Lab, ABC identified nine different states, nine states that have stripped the power of overseeing elections away from technocratic nonpartisan parts of state government and instead handed the administration of the elections over to partisan actors, essentially passing into law a partisan takeover of the administration of elections, right?

How the votes are tallied. Who decides what votes are counted and the actual counting. That shift in power has happened in nine states already this year, all passed by Republican legislators, all signed by Republican governors. Those are done, nine of them, on the books.

And, you know, all the things that we are talking about, bottom line standards, protecting the right to vote, keeping partisan influence out of election administration, even doing away with partisan gerrymandering, where Republican-run state legislatures choose electoral districts in a way that guarantees more Republicans get elected. And Democrats do their districts in such a way that ensures Democrats get elected. That kind of gerrymandering and the voting right stuff, all of those are components of the For the People Act, which already passed the House of Representatives, right?

It`s Senate Bill 1, a landmark voting rights bill proposed by Democrats in Congress this year. Of course, the For the People Act was dead on arrival in the Senate. Republicans guaranteed it would never get any votes from them to pass.

But the pressure to pass some kind of a federal legislation, to backstop voting, to codify protections around voting, that pressure remains and in some ways is increasing. Just today, outside the White House, family members of the late great Congressman John Lewis, the late congressman, held a rally to try and pressure President Biden into calling for the Senate to end the legislative filibuster, so Democrats can pass the legislation even if they get zero Republican votes.

"The Washington Post" reports today that at the end of this month, there will be 100 nationwide marches on voting rights. Excuse me, nationwide marshes ago organized by more than 100 organizations all over the country. The group that convened the protest outside the White House today, with John Lewis`s family, they told us there will be civil disobedience, including at the White House, before the end of this month.

Senate Democrats say that when they return from their recess after Labor Day, the first thing on their legislative to do list is working on new voting rights legislation, although we don`t know what will be in it, since the For the People Act was stopped.

But this fight is joined. This fight is absolutely joined in the states. And Republicans don`t care that the basis for them fighting harder than they have in the past generation to restrict voting rights, and to take over the administration of elections, is based on absolutely cuckoo for cocoa puffs conspiracy theories that are being laugh out of its own venues at this point.

Republicans don`t care, they are happy to run that as far as they can into real policy and real law, even if it takes terrorizing election officials. Even if it takes buying into these conspiracy theories that they otherwise won`t defend, that are at the heart of the claim that voting somehow needs to be changed.

The fight is on in this, from the Republican side, full to tilt. On the Republican side, then on the Democratic side, the fight is join to. And I think part of what is underappreciated about the fight for voting rights, is that at the helm of that fight, are some of the most influential politics figures both in Democratic politics and in the U.S. government, including the former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who is going to be our guest right here, next.

Stay with us.



MADDOW: This is how the bill read back in March. It says: No favoring or disfavoring of political parties. Prohibition, all in caps -- the redistricting plan enacted by a state shall not when considered on a statewide basis be drawn with the intent or the effect of unduly favoring or disfavoring any political party.

That piece of proposed law was part of HR1, the For the People Act. It`s a ban on partisan gerrymandering, so no state could draw its districts for elections in a way that was design to benefit one particular party. Boy, that would be a big change.

The For the People Act as it was originally constructed was going to put a stop to that. And the House passed the For the People Act in March, with that language in it. Every single Republican in the House, of course, voted against it.

When the bill got to the Senate, Senate Republicans blocked it. The vote fell along party lines, 50/50. The Republicans were 10 votes short of the 60 votes that were needed to overcome a Republican filibuster of the bill. So, it failed.

Well, now a group of senators, all Democrats -- Joe Manchin, Raphael Warnock, Amy Klobuchar, Jeff Merkley -- they say they`re working on another version of a voting rights bill that will be a slimmed down, narrower version of its former self. Joe Manchin in particular keeps saying that he is absolutely convinced that he will get Republicans to vote for it, even though Republicans have shown no interest thus far.

Whatever the legislation is, it is teed up to be job 1 for the United States Senate when they come back into session. That said, they`re not coming back into session until mid-September, which feels like a long way away, given the rush right now in Republican-led states including Texas right now as we speak to roll back voting rights and to seize partisan control of election administration everywhere they can, and as fast as they can.

And this fight, at least this hope for a fight, happens as today we got the first data from last year`s U.S. Census which will set off the traditional partisan scramble to redraw congressional districts, where Republicans have power, they will draw districts to benefit Republican elections.


When Democrats -- where Democrats have power, to a lesser degree, they will redraw districts to benefit Democrats in elections.

We know some of the top lines from today`s census data. Our country has become notably more diverse. The absolute number of white people in the country has decreased for the first time ever.

And that information is super important. It matters. It`s interesting. It drives some people crazy. I know.

But understanding how it will be used to alter our political landscape for the next decade, that is worth considering. And that fight is live.

Joining us now is Eric Holder. He`s the former U.S. attorney general under President Barack Obama. He`s the chairman now of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

Mr. Attorney General, it`s great to see you. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

ERIC HOLDER, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: It`s good to see you, too, Rachel. Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: I am struck by the fact the Democrats` big, proposed reform on voting rights, which is how a lot of us have short-handed it. The For the People Act, which you`ve advocated for its passage, that not only would it undergird voting rights, that we think of in traditional sense, making it not too hard for people to go to vote, it would have made a national prohibition on using census data, drawing districts in such a way that was designed to benefit one party or the other.

I have to imagine that that would be sort of a dream for you, how the Democrats figure out a way to pass it.

HOLDER: You know, the For the People Act is really a comprehensive pro- democracy bill. It deals with dark money. It deals with voter protection, and it also deals with ending partisan gerrymandering.

If you deal with those three problems, you make the nation -- you make our political system more responsive to the people of this country. We have a better democracy. We have a better nation. And that`s why I`m sporting it.

It is my conversations with Senator Schumer and other people in the Senate. It is a top priority for them. Senator Schumer thinks that there`s a process that he needs to go through to try to maximize the chances of actually passing the bill. And so, we`ll see what happens.

I mean, at the end of the day, at the end of the day, it`s going to come down to I think a binary choice between passing this pro-democracy bill and defending an arcane Senate procedure that in the past has been used to frustrate civil rights legislation. That`s the choice that I think the senators, the Democratic senators ultimately are going to have to make.

MADDOW: Do you think that ultimately, it gets passed because of a reform or a carve-out from the official filibuster? Or do you think that ultimately it gets passed because Republicans somehow see the light? It seems like throws only two options and the latter to me seems impossible.

HOLDER: Yeah, I don`t think you`re going to get 10 Republican senators to vote for the bill in whatever form it`s presented to them.

I do feel a certain sense of cautious optimism that we can have a carve-out of the filibuster to allow the passage of this very important bill. I mean, the numbers that we saw today show that the country is younger, it`s more diverse, it`s more urban, it`s more suburban, it`s less rural.

Those numbers should be used in a way that comes up with representative democracy in both our state legislatures as well as the United States House of Representatives. And the way to do that is to ban partisan and racial gerrymandering. This bill would ban partisan gerrymandering.

Without that protection, I really fear what you`re going to see happen in states like Texas, North Carolina and Georgia, and Florida in particular, where you got Republican control of both the governorship as well as the state legislature, and I think they`re going to try to gerrymander their little hearts out to the extent they can.

So passage of the bill is important and passing this bill relatively soon is equally important.

MADDOW: Let me ask you a strategic question. If the protections like we`re talking about in the For the People Act don`t pass, and so legislatures like the ones you were talking about there. It`s places like Texas, Florida, Georgia, where Republicans have their legislature, Republicans have the State House, they take this data and they gerrymander, they do an extreme gerrymander to basically lock Democrats out of the possibility of holding any congressional seats in those states.

That may be enough. It`s been argued this year that that may be enough for Republicans to take control of the House in the midterm elections if they aggressively gerrymander it that much.


MADDOW: If there is a ban on doing that sort of thing, shouldn`t Democrats just do the same thing? Shouldn`t they press their advantage in places where they`ve got control of the legislature and the governorship to maximize the number of Democratic states?

HOLDER: You know, that`s the beauty of the position that Democrats have. If we fight for fairness, if we make sure that we get the number of seats that we are entitled to, both in the state legislature as well as in the House of Representatives on the basis of fair criteria, Democrats and progressives will do just fine. Republicans have to cheat in order to win.


And so, yeah, they`ll try to do what they can in Texas and Georgia, Florida, North Carolina. We`ll bring lawsuits if we have to do that. We won lawsuits already in North Carolina that reduce the margin there I guess to 8-5 when it was before. It was a two-seat greater differential for Republicans. There`s constitutional amendment in Florida that we will use in litigation as well.

But there`s no need for Democrats to do anything other than to fight for that which is fair. If you fight for that which is fair, and if we are successful in that fight, Democrats will do, as I said, just fine.

We don`t have to cheat. Republicans have to cheat in order to win and that`s why they are in favor of partisan and racial gerrymandering. They know that if substantial numbers of people vote in this increasingly younger, increasingly more diverse, increasingly less rural America, that they don`t stand a chance of winning. They get that. They understand that.

MADDOW: Let me ask you what you make as a former senior administration official, as somebody who`s very close to former President Obama, who`s also close to President Biden and Vice President Harris -- what do you make of the direct action strategy that`s being brought by voting rights advocates? Obviously, Vice President Harris and President Biden are very much in support of the reforms like the For the People Act and they`ve called for their passage and they`ve advocated for their passage and they`ve made a public case for them.

We know that, you know, we`ve heard all the speeches, right? We know their position. But yet, you`re seeing increasing and sort of increasingly relentless focused by moral leaders on this issue who are getting arrested, people who are getting arrested at the Senate Office Building, at the Supreme Court, at the White House.

We`re expecting this summer of direct action on voting rights to accelerate to the point where there`s going to be considerable civil disobedience outside the White House, people calling -- trying to set off a moral alarm here. What do you make of that strategically, as somebody who`s been a target of those kind of protests in the past and somebody who knows the people who are being targeted by these activists?

HOLDER: Power cedes nothing without a demand. And we too often underestimate the power that we have as regular American citizens by marching, by protesting, by raising our voices. That`s a really important part of the thing that I`m leading, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. We have a big advocacy campaign to get Americans involved in this fight.

If we make our voices known, if we demand the kind of change, the fair change that we are -- we`re seeking, I think that it will help in the process.

Yeah, it`s not going to probably move Republicans. I`m being realistic about that.

On the other hand, Democrats are going to have to think to themselves, do I want to be seen as the personal who, like James Eastland, Stennis, those people before who stood against the passage of civil rights bill? Do I want to have that as my legacy? In raising the consciousness of people by demonstrating, by getting arrested, by doing the things that ended segregation.

If you`d asked people back in the 1950s, do you think marching, demonstrating is going to bring down a system of American apartheid? You probably would have said, no, that`s just not going to happen.

And we should not lose faith right now. We shouldn`t lose faith right now. Citizens can make a change.

Citizens need to be in the streets. Citizens need to be demonstrating. Citizens need to be calling their representatives to demand the kind of change that will make this country more representative, make our democracy more fair.

MADDOW: Eric Holder, former attorney general of the United States, now chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee -- Mr. Attorney General, it is always an honor to have you here. Whenever you can be here, we`ll have you. Thank you so much for joining us.

HOLDER: Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead here tonight. Stay with us.




STATE SEN. CAROL ALVARADO (D), TEXAS: My friends, voters suppression anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere. As we draw on this discussion to an end, it is my sincere hope that civil acts by every day Texans from the Senate floor, to the ballot box, can help to shed the light on the all important issues. Instead of making it easier to vote when, this bill makes it easier to intimidate, instead of making it harder to cheat, it makes it harder to vote.


MADDOW: Fifteen hours. That is how long Texas date senator Carol Alvarado managed to stand up and thereby stop Texas Republicans passing an anti- voting bill last night. She stood and filibustered for 15 hours.

For context, you might remember in 2013, sort of the nationwide sensation when then State Senator Wendy Davis made national headlines, filibustering an anti abortion bill in the state of Texas. That infamous Wendy Davis filibuster lasted 13 hours. Last night, what Senator Carol Alvarado did lasted 15 hours.

Filibuster in Texas is not a like a filibuster in the U.S. Senate this stays where you can send it in by email. In Texas, you actually have to stand up, hold the, floor and talk the entire time. State Senator Carol Alvarado managed to do that for those 15 hours last night. The human body can only hold up for so long.

Minutes after her 15 hours ended, Texas Republicans did go ahead and pass their anti-voting bill anyway on party line vote.

Ever since Texas Republicans introduced a bill, Texas Democrats have made it that their mission to slow it down by any means necessary even though they cannot stop them from passing it, they`re at least trying to slow it down. That`s why Texas Democrats from the House fled the state earlier this year.

As I mentioned early on the show that`s why Texas Republicans are doing everything they can to arrest those House Democrats, so they can run this anti-voting bill through.


The only thing that it seems, could stop Texas Republicans from this draconian bill, to make it harder, much harder to vote, in the state where it is already hardest to vote in the country, would before Congress to pass some sort of federal voting rights protections that wouldn`t let Texas or any other state fall below them. Texas Democrats like Senator Carol Alvarado are doing everything they can to buy as much time as possible for that potentially happen.

But obviously, they are doing so at great, invisible personal sacrifice.

Joining us now is Texas State Senator Carol Alvarado.

Senator, I really appreciate you being here, because I know you have been through a lot over the past 24 hours. Thank you so much.

ALVARADO: Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: Have you slept?

ALVARADO: I`ve taken about an hour rest. A lot of messages and calls to return. And this -- when you finish this, you are running off of pure adrenaline, so it takes a while to come down.

MADDOW: Well, it was a remarkable feat and I have to ask if you -- I mean, our office talked with you before you settled into this --


MADDOW: -- and we know that you are pragmatist about this. And we know that you told our producer that this was intended to be something that would slow things down. You knew it wouldn`t stop it.

Does it feel worth it, especially now that your feeling the physical pain of what you did?

ALVARADO: Absolutely. I was demonstrating that I am literally standing for democracy for 15 hours. But what`s important to note here is that Texas Democrats are not taking this lying down. There is a lie line that we live by, don`t mess with Texas.

So I say, don`t mess with Texas Democrats. Just because we don`t have the numbers doesn`t mean we have to roll over and let them do whatever they want. This filibuster was meant to put the brakes on this, and to shine a national spotlight. And it worked, because we are getting calls from all over the country, while I was filibustering, we were getting stories from people, and how this bill would suppress them, mainly from the disabled community and the seniors.

MADDOW: In terms of how this is going to go from here where -- the other dramatic thing that happened was this ruling by a Texas state Supreme Court judge that effectively clears the way for your colleagues to get arrested, they thought a lower court could block those arrest warrants for them. The Supreme Court seems to have cleared the way for them to be arrested.

How has that inflecting you and your colleagues` thinking about this and what your options are and what the stakes are for you personally?

ALVARADO: Well, you know, sometimes we think it`s like the Wild West here. And when you see actions like that, you kind of wonder. It`s unfortunate that these issues have become so divisive, so partisan, and we know they`re founded on, really, no merits.

It all stems from the big lie told by the big liar himself. And they have allowed themselves to be manipulated by him. And now, it has spilled over not just to the Texas legislature, but so many, and what Texas Democrats tell other legislative bodies, you don`t have to stand and take it if you don`t have the numbers.

And that`s why we are doing everything that we can to slow it down, to give people the opportunity, to really take a close eye to see what Republicans are doing to us.

MADDOW: Let me ask you about something at the -- we are seeing happening in Texas, we are seeing it increasingly in states around the country, we are definitely seeing it at the national level in Washington, D.C. And that is people turning to direct action, people taking to the streets. People, including members of Congress, engaging in civil disobedience, and doing Montgomery style marshes, putting themselves at risk of arrest, putting themselves, in a nonviolent way, in -- out in the public eye in a way that puts their lives on their bodies on the line and put themselves at risk for this.

I want to know how that plays in Texas, whether that does pluck at people`s heartstrings. Or whether that might harden some peoples hearts because they don`t want to be associated with a radical cause.

How do you think there direct action strategies play at home in Texas?

ALVARADO: I think it`s demonstrated how serious we are about how serious we are, about stopping this, or slowing it down. I think people realize that if we are making sacrifices, making a sacrifice of standing for 15 hours, putting your body through that, or members in the House sacrificing their livelihoods, being away from their family, we want people to know that this is serious. And that Texas Democrats have taken this debate to a whole new level.


MADDOW: Texas State Senator Carol Alvarado, I am tractor beaming through the camera. You`re a big tub of tiger balm, or your liniment of your choice, I hope that you can get some rest and take care of yourself after this extreme circumstance you put yourself in. Thank you for helping us understand it tonight --

ALVARADO: Thanks, Rachel. Take care.

MADDOW: -- and hope you get some rest. Thank you so much.

All right. More ahead tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: It may not be a surprised by that is still a shock to see the lightning speed at which the Taliban is continuing its advance and Afghanistan. Afghanistan has 34 provincial capitals. Of those 34, the Taliban has seized control of 12 of them just in the past week.

"The A.P." reported the grim news late this afternoon that the Taliban took control of Afghanistan`s second largest city, Kandahar, and its third largest, Herat.

The pace of the Taliban`s advance is putting a renewed focus on the speed at which the U.S. has to get out of Afghanistan, and our Afghan allies -- translators who work with U.S. troops and their families, Afghans who worked with U.S. government agencies and with media organizations.


Today, the Pentagon announced that the U.S. will temporarily deploy 3,000 U.S. troops back to Afghanistan to aid in evacuation efforts.

But with the second and third largest cities in the country now reportedly falling, there is of course increased anxiety surrounding the fate of Afghanistan`s largest city by far, the capital city of Kabul, and with that, the fate of the large U.S. embassy there.

This is the security alert the U.S. embassy put out today. This is, quote, the U.S. embassy urges U.S. citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options.

If you cannot afford to purchase an airline ticket at this time, contact the U.S. embassy for information regarding a repatriation loan. Give the security conditions and reduced staffing, the embassy`s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited, even within Kabul.

The State Department also announced today that an unspecified number of the 1,400 Americans who work at that embassy are being sent home, in addition to just citizens who may be in country for some other reason. At least some of those 14 will be staying. The embassy will continue to operate.

"The New York Times" reports that American negotiators are trying to extract assurances from the Taliban that they won`t attack the U.S. embassy even if they do take Kabul. At the same time, "The Times" report American officials in Washington and Kabul are holding regular meetings to assess whether and how soon they may need to evacuate and abandon the embassy itself.

Again, it does not matter that this is not a total surprise. That does nothing to undercut how much of a shock it is and how much of a moral shock it will be for our country if these evacuations don`t succeed. Watch this space.


MADDOW: Thanks for being with us tonight. Very happy to have you here. I`ll see you again tomorrow night.

Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" where the great Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight.

Good evening, Ali.