Average daily cases, hospitalizations, and deaths keep rising in Florida. Alachua County, Florida schools to impose two-week mask mandate. Senators told to expect vote on new voting rights bill within days.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: We can do three hours on talk radio, talkSPORT Radio tomorrow, on that. So, I`m going to put a pin on that one. Dennis Iron (ph) and Davidson (ph), thank you so much. That was great. That is all in for the week. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now with Ari Melber in for Rachel. Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you so much. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. I am Ari Melber in for Rachel during her much-deserved vacation. And I have some good news on that and her return, which we`ll share with you later tonight. It involves actually some of you, or at least one of you, an MSNBC viewer, who happens to be a wonderful grandma. This is real, and we`ll get into it later after some of the news.
Now, as for the kind of good news, that usually leads, the actual news well, today, the White House announcing 50 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID, a key milestone. Thanks to the quickening rate of vaccinations up 11 percent from the last week, and up 44 percent over two weeks, these improving signs come but not soon enough for everyone. Consider that last year around this time, there were about 57,000 new COVID cases per day. So that`s one way to count it. That is a clear number. And that was obviously a lot.
We lived through this together. 2020 was a year that became synonymous with tough times. So, how are we doing now? Tonight, are we approaching that same rate I just showed you? Are we a bit higher? A lot? Well, the news is no good there. A daily case rate is now almost double. That`s about 100,000 cases spurred by this contagious Delta variant. The other big difference is, this year, right now, we basically have a cure, if only more people would take it.
So, people in positions of power are now as it`s become so clear what the holdup is for some, they`re taking more dramatic action. New Jersey`s Democratic governor became the first in the nation to mandate all children returning to school this fall wear a mask regardless of their vaccination status. And he spoke about this safety measure and the contrast to other approaches in other parts of the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): Anyone telling you that we can safely reopen our schools without requiring everyone inside to wear a mask is quite simply lying to you? Because we can`t. I want as much - believe me as much as anybody else in our state to see our kids smiles as they start their school years. But I do not want to see at the same time any of them getting sick needlessly, or schools have to shut down again, and go remote because of an outbreak, and especially of a dangerous variant that is putting kids in its crosshairs.
Absent this requirement, that`s exactly where we`ll end up. And that`s not speculation. If you look to what`s already happening elsewhere, across the country in schools that have already opened, and they`re mostly in the southern part of the country, without a mask requirement, it`s not a matter of if, we would have a school closing outbreak, but when.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The governor is referring to the strange experiment America has been undergoing since the vaccine became basically available everywhere. Some places have gotten the high vaccination rates while still deploying a range of safety measures. And other places are just sitting out the evidence-based path to recovery. Now, he`s clearly throwing shade at places like South Carolina and Texas and Florida. Republican governors are talking up supposed freedom measures of freedom priority over safety measures, like pushing vaccines or masks.
And let`s be as fair as possible. There is a version of a fact-based dialogue out there about trade-offs and liberty when it comes to government policies. We`re all adults, we can deal with this together, we can discuss it together in a democracy. But let`s also be real. That is not what we`re seeing in many of these red states where the posturing and the Right-wing virtue signaling are leading to policies and rules and methods that just sound ridiculous when you read them out loud, like Texas stating that under their rules, there will be no requirement to even notify parents when there is a COVID outbreak at school.
Well, remove the word COVID, and just ask yourself if any parents of any ideology would ever want a new school policy that states when there`s an outbreak of something that can impact your kids, chickenpox, drugs, whatever, you don`t even find out about it as a parent. And that has nothing to do with liberty. That`s just forced ignorance that affects your ability to make informed decisions for your own family.
Now for all the talk of freedom or local control, and other red states here that are overriding the local control and choices of their own school districts, who in some cases have decided they do want to follow evidence and use safety measures including masks. So, in Florida, which is breaking all records for its most COVID cases ever this week, you see it there. While they`re readying students to return to school Tuesday as the governor goes to war against masks, some counties are pushing back against threats to
to defund schools over the issue, and still backing the mask rule well at least for a certain amount of time, like the opening weeks of school.
Now, this is not a drill. And this is just not some theoretical exercise, that school leaders in Alachua County, Florida, are sharing their hardship. The evidence and the realities they`re living through to custodians who work in that very district just died of COVID, 80 of their fellow employees are quarantining right now, because that`s what it`s like in Florida.
And one leader says simply, if my adults are sick, or needing to quarantine, then I don`t have adults present to provide the education, just as simple as that. And so that`s where we begin tonight on a very important story. And joining us now as Carlee Simon, the Superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools.
I know it`s a tough time in so many ways. So, first of all, thanks for making time for us tonight.
CARLEE SIMON, ALACHUA COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT: Thank you for having me, I appreciate the time.
MELBER: Tell us what you`re doing and what you see as the best thing for the people involved in your schooling.
SIMON: So, we`re focusing on making sure that we have workforce available to provide the education that we know our students need. We`re very excited about having our students back in school on Tuesday. And because of what we`re seeing in our COVID numbers with our staff, we needed to make some decisions. And so, it started actually, on Monday, when we started to see the spike. And we still at that point hadn`t even had teachers on campus.
And just to give you some context, the last three weeks, our COVID cases are as much as the last five months combined. And for this reason, we decided that we needed to make sure that we mandated masks for all of our employees, our vendors and any visitors on our campus. And then we also were incentivizing the vaccinations because although the masks will help with prevention, really the goal is to get vaccinated. And so, we have an incentive for individuals who have been vaccinated, as well as any individual who is interested in being vaccinated.
On top of that, we also because we understand that our staff that have taken the time to be vaccinated, not only are they helping their own personal safety and the safety of their family, but they also are helping our community, our education community. And one of the things we are offering is that we`ll also provide COVID leaves for vaccinated staff if they have a breakthrough of the Delta variant. And the goal is to thank them for being a contributing member of keeping our workforce functioning, so we can provide the education to our students.
On Tuesday, our board listened for quite a few hours to medical professionals from our community. One of the benefits of Alachua County Schools is that the University of Florida is in our backyard. And we have medical professionals that are world renowned experts on pediatrics, as well as immunology and epidemiology. And they`ve been giving us guidance and consulting with us. And after their presentations at the board, the board was compelled to vote unanimously four-zero to approve masks mandate.
We`re hoping to revisit this in two weeks. So, the mandate is for the first two weeks of the school. And then what will end up happening is we`ll look at the data and we`ll determine from the data and consult with our professionals again and decide if we needed to extend this. We are concerned about this. We`d like to finish that up.
MELBER: Right. Right. And that really makes sense. I think anyone listening can hear the way you`re approaching it. The Republican Governor DeSantis really clashing with you and says this is in his view, you overriding the parents of the system that you serve. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Parents choice in Florida, and government can override the parents. And so, we believe the parents are the ones that have the choice. And we obviously have an executive order to that effect. Alachua County can`t override the parents. I think that`s pretty clear from the parents Bill of Rights that I signed. And quite frankly, I think that that`s the right thing to do anyways.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`ve got another guest standing by, so with about 30 seconds, I did want to give you the benefit of your response.
SIMON: So, we do believe in choice as well, and that is one of the benefits of the rulemaking process that occurred today with the governor and the Department of Health and the Department of Education is that they provided an additional layer of choice by allowing family members to utilize a Hope Scholarship voucher fine for them to choose if there`s another school or a school district that would provide them the type of environment that they would like.
On top of that for our own families, we do have a medical exemption where they can have a medical provider determined if the child can be exempt from having
a mask. And then of course, we have choice options that have existed for quite some time in the state of Florida. And so, I believe we are offering choice, but we are also making sure that we follow our constitutional responsibilities and that is to provide a safe, high-quality education to all students.
MELBER: Superintendent Simon with a big job, right in the middle of all this, thank you for your time.
We turn immediately now to the nation`s second largest city, Los Angeles, which is facing a spike in COVID cases as being in the pandemic, one in every eight LA County residents have been infected. The city is considering new actions following the example of New York, council introducing a new motion that would require vaccination proof in certain places like restaurants, gyms, and sporting events, and we turn out to someone else who`s on the front lines. There`s a lot of discussion, there`s a lot of debate, but these are people who are actually having to figure this stuff out as they go. Nury Martinez is President of the LA City Council introducing this motion.
Thank you for being here tonight. Tell us that what you`re doing and advocating?
NURY MARTINEZ, LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Thank you. Well, the intent of the legislation is to require eligible adults to at least get one dose of the vaccine. If they want to enter into indoor places, such as restaurants, bars, entertainment centers, gyms, spas, movie theaters moving forward. This city council will consider this motion next week for a vote.
MELBER: And that makes a lot of sense, as mentioned, some other places have done it again, just helping people understand how this works. What do you say to those who look at this and argue that it`s designed to push people who say, well, OK, are you trying to make those places safer or are you just trying to withhold things in places for people, so they`ll get vaccinated? And if so, is that itself maybe a good public health idea?
MARTINEZ: Quite frankly, everyone`s exhausted. Angelenos have been asked to stay home to protect themselves and others, we are tired of having to explain to folks the importance of vaccination, our hospital workers are tired, moms are exhausted of staying home, some of them have lost their jobs have turned away career opportunities, kids are about to return back to school in about a week and a half. And if we`re going to protect our kids, we have to mandate vaccines, even if - if you want to go ahead and not get vaccinated, no one`s forcing you to do that.
But if you want to go out and have fun and go into a restaurant or a bar, you`re going to have to get vaccinated. Because those of us who have stayed at home have done any everything humanly possible to protect ourselves and each other are quite frankly, just exhausted. We don`t want to go back to the days of shutting down restaurants and businesses or issuing stay at home orders because simply people don`t want it here to what science and the data is telling us. Cases are rising.
We need to do everything we can to protect each other. But most importantly, our children who are getting ready to go to school, we cannot afford another year of the missing an entire school year because adults don`t want to listen to data and science and what they know what our medical experts are saying.
MELBER: Yes, then you say you`re exhausted. I think people hear and feel you on that. We`ve covered some of these places. And I showed a governor earlier, basically respectfully criticizing more conservative areas in the south, where they`ve had this idea of arguing against the science, talking about liberty, talking about choice, but really just going against what we`ve learned about how the vaccine and other measures work.
California, of course, is diverse, like anywhere else. But I think LA County is known to be far less conservative than some of these southern areas. I`m curious what else you think is contributing to some of the problems out there? And do you think misinformation and things spreading on the Internet is part of the problem?
MARTINEZ: Yes, I think it`s certainly misinformation. I think we`re doing everything we can in Los Angeles, we have three vaccines that work. We have vaccination events throughout the city of Los Angeles, in my district, we actually door knock on people`s homes and actually take the vaccine with us to try to incentivize people to get the shot right there. And then, so I think misinformation has a lot to do with it. And that`s why I think we need to continue to push up that information that works. give people the information they need, arm them with the information that`s going to save their lives and the lives of their children.
MELBER: Yes, Nury Martinez again, two guests here on our broadcast. We`re in the middle of this. We`re doing the work. Thank you so much for spending time with us tonight. I appreciate it.
MARTINEZ: Thank you very much.
MELBER: Thank you. Coming up, the Republican assault on voting rights is continuing in many different ways. Where`s the meaningful action? And what are the legal standards that you need to know as there`s some real signs of life? That`s next.
MELBER: It was 56 years ago today, that President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, a landmark civil rights bill and a combination of a movement that fought and marched and even bled for the right to vote.
Part of the legal breakthrough in the law was strengthening national protections for voting. That`s a response to the hard learned lessons the states would suppress the right to vote with no fear of consequences when the Feds took a hands-off and reactive approach. You could see Martin Luther King there with LBJ.
Well, today LBJ was honored with a new statue in Houston, the vice president tracing the rise and fall of parts of this law, which still provide some guardrails, but was significantly weakened by Chief Justice Roberts and a conservative block on the Supreme Court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Supreme Court has stripped away protections contained within the Voting Rights Act. And states have responded with a slew of anti-voter legislation. Americans deserve options to be able to cast their ballot. And that is why President Joe Biden, and I are calling on Congress to pass the For the People Act.
And the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And a large part of this boils down to how bad you think voter suppression is. The original law offered and the premise that it is so bad, it must be stopped in advance. And unlike some other problems, or even crimes, that there was a larger national imperative to protect this right to vote, not just punish voter suppression after the fact.
So, the law had something that required states with a history of a racist voting tactics to get clearance in advance for many voting reforms. That`s the part the Supreme Court got it, calling it antiquated, out of date and basically, unnecessary in today`s world.
Rachel has been reporting on Attorney General Garland`s various tests to DOJ and the challenges he faces. Well, this is surely one of them. And he`s out swinging the bat for restoring the full law in its approach, writing of the Voting Rights Act, pre-clearance provision were still operative. Many Republican voter suppression laws wouldn`t have been allowed in the first place. That`s that key pre-clearance issue I mentioned.
Now, if it feels like people are always playing, kind of a legal catch up with these restrictions all over the place. It`s not an accident. That is because the Supreme Court swooped in and made it so the only way to advocate voting rights is to be mostly reactive. And Congress is trying to get on the case, but it can still feel like whack-a-mole, a new 124-page report out today, argues this as an inflection point in protecting our democracy and says after reviewing thousands of pages of evidence, and a lot of testimony from experts, congressional action is needed.
Senate Democrats suggest a vote is coming on a slimmed down version of the For the People Act written by Senator Merkley who stood with Texas Democrats as they marked the final day of their special session. They`re the ones who broke quorum. This was over a month ago stalling that restrictive voter bill and they`ve been in Washington pushing on the issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): Say everything is bigger in Texas. But what is bigger than defending our national right to vote and our freedom to vote? They say, don`t mess with Texas. Why say, don`t mess with these Texan legislators who are defending the right to vote in their home state. I am so inspired by the voice that these Texans have brought here to Washington, D.C., that voice has continued to reverberate.
My colleagues and I have been meeting working to lay out that bill that can get majority support in the Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by that Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Thank you for being here today.
MERKLEY: Ari, it`s very good to be with you here on the 56th anniversary who can believe we`re still fighting this battle more than half a century later?
MELBER: Yes, I hear you. And we think about all these historical strands. What did it mean to you to be out with those officials and lawmakers, we just showed you it today? And what are you fighting for?
MERKLEY: It`s so helpful to have people on the front line who have experienced the direct impact of Republicans state house and Senate and governor who are trying to steal their right to vote, make it harder for them to vote by mail, to vote early, to do source (ph) the polls, buses for their church to go to the polls to vote, make it harder to vote even on election day. And this targeted strategy, that`s what existed before 1965. And it took incredible efforts to enforce the 65 laws before we finally got to the point that we really have secured the right of every American to fully participate in our democracy and shaping the future of our country.
But we`ve gotten so far back over the last couple of years, especially this last year as the state legislators start to - legislators start to - not the Texan Democrats, but the state Republicans back home, start to reshape the laws to block the ballot box. So, they`re coming to Washington and their bold walkout to defend the constitution of the United States, it helped focus the conversation extremely, extremely helpful. And I must say they are real freedom fighters.
MELBER: When you look at this suppression today, how much of it do you think is fundamentally racist which echoes this whole March since the 60s, and how much of it is just bare-knuckled partisanship, which may or may not be legal, as we live through a time where democracy itself has been challenged so much.
MERKLEY: Well, former President Trump saw in Georgia was that when people have access to the ballot box, community`s turnout, and they elected Democrats as senators from Georgia. And his response was, we`re going to make it harder for black Georgians to vote and black Americans all over the country. And these efforts are not just targeted to black communities, but other minority communities, the Native Americans and the college students, and so it`s a very targeted effect.
They know that
If they can force people to vote on election day that there`s time tested strategies to make turnout low by reducing the number of precincts voting places, changing their location, putting whether the no parking, understaffed them, so people have to wait for five or six hours and in line, putting out false information about the date and location. They know these things. So, they are trying to cheat Americans out of the right to vote. It is this - so much of it is targeted to black Americans, there is a fundamentally racist element to it.
MELBER: And we`ve also been keeping an eye on this looming vote that we`re told would be in the Congress here, I want to read about sort of slimming down that John Lewis Act, Chuck Schumer reportedly telling you and your caucus, you`d have these voting rights votes within days, and that they would trim the ethics provisions from the original bill scale back the mandates for automatic voter edge. excise a public campaign financing system for senators, which is a big deal, but kind of a separate issue. And backing off this attempt to change the composition of the FEC.
It`s a mouthful of what`s cut out and then by implication, there`s still plenty left in the bill. What is this strategy mean of having a slimmed down version? And what would your response be to some skeptics who might be watching tonight and say, well, if you`re still waiting on Republicans, and it`s going to be that kind of thing, then how are you ever going to get any of this out without reforming the filibuster?
MERKLEY: So, there are three basic missions. One is to stop the dark money so that billionaires cannot buy elections, hiding and fighting - while hiding from the American public. The second goal is to stop gerrymandering. And there is intense conversation of Republicans right now about basically gerrymandering on steroids. And they know that in just four states, they can gerrymander another six to 13 seats, that would be a 26-vote swing in the House, they already feel like they have about a 15 seat advantage that is that 30 seat swings as it is.
In other words, the margin, which is eight seats right now should be about 38, if there was equal representation, and so that this is extremely important, and then defending the ballot, and that means early voting, that means vote by mail, that means making sure that people have full access on election day as well, these things will all be well protected in the bill that we`re producing.
So, you think of the first hurdle is, we have to get a bill that 50 members agree to even though they come from very different systems of voting, so lay out this national set of standards, and these end to dark money and the end to gerrymandering, lay that out and agree on it. And that`s what we`re working on right now. And I think we`ve narrowed it down from 100 issues to about two or three, and we`re working hard to resolve the final pieces.
Then, when we are away from Washington, there`s going to be an intense effort by several of our colleagues to recruit Republicans to join us, because they should join us, they swore an oath to the constitution to defend the rights of Americans to vote. And if we come back and we do not have their support, then we have to find the path for 50 of us to get this done, unfortunately, without them. And I`m very confident, we will find a way.
MELBER: Interesting. Senator Merkley, I want to thank you very much. And coming up, embracing the big lie and its consequences for everyone except maybe Trump, but could that change, stay with us.
MELBER: Donald Trump lost the presidential election so clearly across several states that there was ever even a single case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court regarding his loss. There were some other lawsuits as well. I spent a whole bunch of time doing legal reporting on them back in those sundry days of November, December 2020. But most were actually worse than just losing cases. They were frivolous.
Some were so far beneath the basic legal requirements to get into court that they were just tossed. Or worse, some appeared to be in fractions themselves, because while lawyers can make many arguments for a client, they cannot blatantly lie in court. That`s perjury, it can get you in trouble. Just ask Rudy Giuliani.
Now accountability throughout our court system still takes time, it always has. And now we are seeing some of that process, like a supposed class action suit that was filed in Colorado on behalf of all of the registered voters that claimed Trump actually won the 2020 election. That`s just not a claim a lawyer can submit to a court without evidence.
Now, the lawyers behind that very case, are facing consequences. A federal judge is hitting them with a major penalty, they must now pay the lawyer fees for everyone individuals and companies that they sued. And if anyone knows how high lawyer fees can get, well, it`s lawyers.
To quote someone else familiar with the law, Shawn Carter. Chains is cool to cop. But more important, is lawyer fees. That`s how it is now. That`s how it always be. So true. And that`s how it be for a whole group of people that are paying the price for these election laws. And Giuliani by the way, paying with more than fees. He`s losing his livelihood. He`s already banned now currently from practicing law because his license was suspended over specifically the election lies. He is also separately under criminal investigation.
Another judge is mounting punishment for pro-Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood to say nothing of these separate criminal prosecutions of over 550 people for the Insurrection itself. And as the first hearing of the committee investigating that Insurrection showed, there`s also a gap here because most of the - this conduct was done for someone, as one Police officer put it for the Hitman who ordered the hit, who requested much if not all of this
be done. I`m talking about Donald Trump. Now a new piece by legal experts makes the case that he should be federally investigated for all of this by the Garland DOJ, which is familiar with the doctrine that sitting president cannot be indicted but that no longer shields Trump. And these experts argue efforts to overturn a fair election simply cannot be tolerated. And Trump`s conduct must be investigated.
We`re joined now by one of the authors of that piece, legal expert and former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance. Joyce, thanks for being here.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA: Good to be with you, Ari.
MELBER: Tell us about the evidence in the case you make here.
VANCE: The argument, I think is a simple one. And it`s intuitive. It balances the need that DOJ has to restore its bonafide as an agency that the above the political fray that doesn`t do anything for political reasons, and to balance that very important priority against sustaining the rule of law. And we conclude that in this absolutely remarkable situation, where you have every appearance that a sitting president was involved in insurrection, that the Justice Department must fully investigate the facts and circumstances around that.
We don`t know, it could be that there`s investigation going on and that DOJ as it so often does, has managed to do that in secret. But the point that we make is that that investigation must be robust, it must look at a wide variety of possible federal crimes. And if there is sufficient evidence to charge, charges should be brought.
MELBER: Yes, I think it`s a very important piece that you write and politics here are funny and are supposed to have no role at the DOJ. I think everyone has been reminded that of the last four or five years. And although it may be counterintuitive, there`s evidence that some Biden folks view this as potentially a political distraction or worse for them. But of course, that shouldn`t matter anymore than what Trump`s political prerogatives and goals were. It should be independent.
I think you and your co-authors go great lengths to look at the idea that if there was this kind of felonious conduct, potentially it should be probed. In a related development tonight, that was breaking just as we were getting ready to come on the air. You have new details about the lengths that were pursued, to cook the books, to override state results, to try to get some government support or laundering for some really wacky conspiracy theories. And this comes against the backdrop of people testifying.
So, an outlet has a story here about the former Deputy Attorney General Donahue interview with the Senate Judiciary today. And the acting Attorney General doing there in the coming days. Donahue late December also spoke with the Senate Judiciary Committee. Rosen is the one on the way. And this comes amidst basically a lot of detail about a Trump loyalist inside the DOJ, basically trying to get intelligence briefings or other support for really wacky unfounded theories, and then perhaps even become attorney general himself. What did you think about all of these news stories?
VANCE: We should be paying attention to this, Ari. This is deeply distressing. This shows that there was a Trump loyalist inside of the Justice Department, who had not only fully bought into the big lie, but who was advocating it and advancing it in a very real way. Because if Jeff Clark had gotten his way, then acting Attorney General Rosen would have sent a letter to the Georgia legislature directing them to take over the election in Georgia and to compel an outcome for Trump, despite the absence of any evidence of fraud.
And it`s fortunate, frankly, that the acting Attorney General pushed back, declined to play games with Clark, who was someone who had been an Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. he`d become the acting Head of the Civil Division. He was so far out of his lane asking for an intelligence briefing on ongoing criminal matters, that it`s difficult to see how that even happened, but it speaks to how much dysfunction there was, and how the Trump monkeys were really running the show at that point.
MELBER: Yes, Joyce, thank you so much, really appreciate it as always. When we come back, there are big developments here regarding the allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. We have that story and much more. Stay with us.
MELBER: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo facing new levels of legal trouble today after a woman who asserted that the governor groped her in the Executive Mansion has now filed a criminal complaint against him. That`s a new development. The unidentified individual referred to as executive assistant one in a report by the New York attorney general is one of 11 women who have made allegations of sexual harassment against the governor who denies her specific allegations.
The alleged incident first reported in March by the Albany Times Union. Then Governor Cuomo`s office had referred that very complaint to the Albany County Sheriff`s Office saying it had an obligation to report any such allegation to the police. Prosecutors in Manhattan and Albany County have already opened criminal probes into the governor and prosecutors in three other counties have asked for Investigative materials. So that suggests five different offices having some level of review, we can`t say exactly the formal description of each investigation.
Now, Governor Cuomo also faces a separate but related process inside the New York state legislature. That is the impeachment investigation.
Today, several lawmakers` makers are announcing they plan to introduce a measure that would prevent impeached officials in New York from even receiving a New York state pension. That measure can be viewed as a way to encourage
Governor Cuomo to resign and avoid what would be a new financial sanction, if he lost the impeachment trial. Calls for Cuomo`s resignation intensifying over the past week, the entire New York congressional delegation, longtime Cuomo allies within the Democratic Party, as well as his old friend and president of the United States coming together and saying he should step down based on the strength of the evidence in the report.
Governor Cuomo denies all the allegations and is standing firm. Today, his attorneys held a somewhat unusual press conference via Zoom, where in addition to the responses that already given to the report, they spoke about these new allegations specifically against the governor in the criminal context. Cuomo basically has to deal with what is now apparently an open criminal investigation. And the governor`s lawyers say, we should expect to actually hear more from the governor soon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A woman identified as trooper number one alleges that the governor ran his finger down her spine and said, hey, you, and in another instance, he touched her stomach, from her belly button over to the portion of her hip where she carries her gun. Do any of you have any response to those allegations?
RITA GLAVIN, ATTORNEY FOR ANDREW CUOMO: The governor will address that allegation himself. And so, I will let him speak for himself, when he does.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will he do that?
GLAVIN: I can`t give you a timeline. But I know he wants to do it soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We`re joined now by Dan Alonso; he was the deputy number two official at the Manhattan district attorney`s office. He also has experience as a federal prosecutor, and a lot of insight into exactly how these kinds of investigations work. We are here now at the end of the week, and it`s quite a set of developments for the governor. What do you see as the most serious legal exposure that he has right now?
DANIEL ALONSO, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, he`s got a multi front war, Ari. He`s got the possibility of serious civil suits. He`s got the possibility of being removed from office, and he`s got the possibility of a criminal charge. Obviously, criminal charges are always serious. This is not the kind of criminal charge that could result in incarceration. But that doesn`t mean it`s not serious, right. These theoretically, at least are misdemeanors, which are still crimes, but they`re still, not nothing, but they`re not the most serious crimes around.
So, I would say probably he`s most focused on staying in office. So, the assembly`s going to meet on Monday to start the process, and they`ve given him a week to respond to some of the allegations. And I expect that in the next week or so, the assembly will be deciding on articles of impeachment.
MELBER: When people hear that multiple DAs in New York, are looking at this, help us understand how that`s the case, if under geographic jurisdiction typically wouldn`t be all that many different places.
ALONSO: It`s only because the report itself specifies or the DAs have learned that the various acts that could theoretically be criminal have taken place in multiple counties. So, we have Oswego, Nassau, Westchester, New York and Albany. And it doesn`t mean that they`re all serious. It doesn`t mean they`re all results in criminal charges. But it does mean that those DAs are at least fulfilling the responsibility to look at the charges that the attorney general has suggested from a report.
MELBER: Yes and speak on that because Attorney General James conducted a very thorough and relatively quick report here. It certainly had bad evidence against Governor Cuomo in the sense that multiple individuals with different experiences in different places were reporting and alleging this conduct and so that obviously, in the eyes of the investigators and the careful review they did went to the probative value, the likely truth that they thought of these allegations. And that`s what came through in the report`s findings.
Having said all that, Attorney General James also said publicly that this was all largely civil in nature. So, help us understand why having said that, we`re hearing about multiple criminals, at least criminal reviews this week.
ALONSO: So, the reason is, because the act even though she made findings that they violated civil laws, there are some acts that are talked about, like the grabbing of the rear end are the grabbing of the breast under the blouse, which of course, would constitute a crime. But prosecutors don`t prosecute by report. So, I think that Attorney General James appropriately declined to say, this is a crime and instead left it to the people that have jurisdiction over criminal activity.
Your viewers may not know that the New York State Attorney General has very limited criminal jurisdiction, so she could not have taken those facts and run with them. So, it`s up to the local DAs of the counties where geographically happened, you said yourself geographical jurisdiction to actually look into the criminality. So, it was appropriate for the attorney general
not to say, and by the way, I find this violates the laws against forcible touching or sexual abuse in the third degree, which are the two technical crimes. She didn`t do that. She`s leaving it to the DAs that have jurisdiction, it`s appropriate for them to look at that. I think we need to let them look at it independently, not just by reading the report, and need to interview the witnesses. They need to see what the corroboration is for themselves and make their decision in the interest of justice.
MELBER: And finally, given your expertise, how do you assess the way that Governor Cuomo has denied and rebutted these allegations?
ALONSO: Listen, he`s got a right to do that. And there is a point that his lawyers made today about not having access to the evidence. I think that that`s not a bad idea to release the transcripts of the witness interviews so that the governor can use them in his rebuttal in the assembly.
In terms of, I think the - some of the rebuttal was a bit thin today, it didn`t certainly address all the allegations. It addressed some of it. But I think that those lawyers are a little bit, fighting with one hand tied behind their back, because they don`t have all the evidence. So, I think we have to we have to wait and see and give the governor a chance.
MELBER: Understood and appreciate the legal analysis you bring particularly as someone who has handled a whole range of investigations. Dan Alonso, thank you for your time tonight. I want to tell everyone--
ALONSO: Thank you, Ari.
MELBER: We will be right back, and we will - thank you. We will have as promised and answer to the burning question, many of you have been asking about Rachel, in a fun way I think, so stay with us.
MELBER: President George W. Bush in October 2002 signed a permission slip from Congress to send American troops into Iraq. Formerly it`s called the Authorization for Use of Military Force. Now his dad, George H.W. Bush also received one from Congress when he sent troops to the Gulf in 1991. Now both of those authorizations from Congress are actually still on the books. The balance of power in our system of government is supposed to kick in here the power of war, which the president can use isn`t supposed to just be there forever.
Now, almost two decades after the start of the Iraq War, more than 30 years after the Gulf War. Finally, it actually looks like Congress is ready to reel in some of these authorizations because the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to repeal both of them this week. A journal reporting 10 Republican senators support repealing these giving Democrats the 60 votes that nowadays they need for most things because the filibuster, so it looks like we will actually see an effective repeal of this war power, the first in 50 years. And that`s an update we wanted to give you before the weeks out.
And now we turn to the long-awaited news about Rachel, some have asked a big question, including a lovely lady named Pat who has gained a following online just by being herself. Her granddaughter shared these videos of her on TikTok showing her doing everything from enjoying chocolate covered marshmallows, to showing how she keeps Kleenex handy in her Walker.
Well, now she`s got a new video, it features Pat wondering when Rachel Maddow will be back and sparring a bit over what the key question is here. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, that`s her private business where she is, you can`t ask that. It just when will she be back. That`s the question. When will she be back?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, here`s a picture of her. Rachel Maddow`s page, there is a picture of her with a fish.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably she`s fishing somewhere. I could have told you that, she`s fishing. I want to know when she`s going to be back. I don`t care where she is. I don`t want to know where she is. I mean, that`s her business, where she is on her vacation. Not my business. So, there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, Pat told you she`s fishing. You can see she also respects boundaries. She just wants to know when will she be back? Well, I`m here to report live on MSNBC to pat. And anyone else wondering the answer. Rachel will be back Monday. And with Rachel back Monday, I hope you tune in right here at 9 PM Eastern to welcome her. If you happen to looking for me, Ari, well, I`ll be back 6 PM Eastern on The Beat.
And let me share something with you one more thing here tonight. Next week, on The Beat, we`re going to have an exclusive interview with one of the two people you see right here in this photo. Now this is a picture from inside the vice president`s office, you can probably tell and I`m not telling you we have the vice president on The Beat, but a very influential voice on many issues, including Black Lives Matter.
On the right is the Atlanta artist Lil Baby, and he was welcomed to the White House along with George Floyd`s family on the anniversary of Floyd`s death. And we`re going to have him on The Beat to discuss those issues, his meeting with Vice President Harris and what`s going on with black lives matter in Atlanta and around the nation. So that`s on The Beat next week.
Now, if you want to find me and ask me any questions like Pat or talk about TikTok or anything else, you can try me on social media, or the best place to always reach me is arimelber.com, that`s arimelber.com and you can connect with me. And we share highlights from The Beat, law, a little bit of music, anything you might want.
All right, that`s the end of this hour, but keep it right here for The Last Word with Jonathan Capehart in for Lawrence O`Donnell. Hey, Jonathan.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: Hey, Ari, thanks. Thank you very much. Well, the Biden plan is working. That`s how President Biden responded today to the new jobs report. The U.S. added 943,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate, well that dropped to 5.4 percent. The lowest unemployment.