Interview with Congressman Jamie Raskin, congressman from Maryland, who sits on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis and a member of the January 6 Select Committee. Interview with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Man, when it rains, it pours. We`ve got news to break on a few different fronts tonight. There is a lot going on.
Today started out as a normal Thursday and we had sort of a normal Thursday day planned, and as we got closer and closer to show time, it turned into like time, it turned into like leak Christmas, leak, not as potatoes and leeks and but like leaks, newsworthy leaks and then it turned into subpoena Christmas.
So we threw out in its entirety everything we planned on doing tonight and started a whole new series of stories. So, I will tell you in advance there may be a little more hurly burly than usual because so many of these stories are breaking at the last minute and developing as we`re reporting them, but let`s just get into it. Forgive me any straying into the margins and veering out of the lanes a little bit.
But let me tell you what we`ve been working on. First we`re going to start with Arizona. Back in April, Republicans in the state legislature in Arizona announced they would start an audit with the election results in that state. They hired a contractor to do that audit, a guy who promoted QAnon conspiracy stuff online, a guy who had little experience whatsoever with election audits, which are actually a real thing. Real companies and experts can be certified to do real election audits. He was not one of those experts. In fact, he had no experience in the field at all.
But they nevertheless hired him and his company, which appeared to be just him, a company called Cyber Ninjas.
And with that auspicious beginning thus commenced an amazing just months- long, very Trumpy circus in Arizona. They did start in April. They said it would take three weeks. Now, it is five months later. They are finally going to release their results tomorrow.
Now, as we`ve been reporting, everyone in Trump world has been vibrating at a very high pitch, in anticipation of the release of the Arizona audit results tomorrow. Former President Trump has been outdoing himself in the lead-up to tomorrow`s report in terms of both the frequency -- the increasing frequency and the increasing apparent hysteria of his now more than daily statements about how the election was stolen from him and all will be revealed and the American people will soon see and the evidence is coming.
Well, I can tell you uh tonight that there has been a document circulating all day today in Arizona journalism circles, it is a document that purports to be a near final draft of the Arizona audit report the results of the Arizona so-called audit. Now, in addition to this circulating in Arizona journalism circles tonight, I have to tell you that we have reviewed it. I have reviewed it.
It`s three whole volumes -- how best to put this -- other than to tell you that its purported conclusions are objectively hilarious. We are not going to report on the contents of that purported draft tonight because even though multiple sources have told us that it is legit, we tracked down many sources today who all confirmed today that that is a close to final draft of the results that are going to be released tomorrow, we frankly despite that multiple source confirmation we just do not trust anything, anything, anything that has come from anywhere near this clown show process in Arizona.
So even though I can report to you with confidence and with personal knowledge that there is widely circulating in Arizona a draft of the purported results, we will wait. They will release their supposed results tomorrow, 1:00 p.m. local time, 4:00 p.m. eastern time. Trump world will lose their minds regardless of what it is they are going to report, but we will wait to see what they actually say. So, there`s that.
I will tell you, once the final results, such as they are, are released, one of the things that will be interesting to see is whether or not they revised those results from what appears to be the near final draft once it starts circulating in journalist circles and give people a chance to laugh at it.
Anyway, like I said, when it rains it pours and news has been developing over the course of the day and into tonight. Tonight, the select committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters who believed the lies about the election and who sought to block the certification of the presidential election results they sought to block President Biden being named the next president of the United States, they sought through violence to keep Donald Trump in power, the U.S. House committee that is investigating that attack has tonight just issued some very provocative subpoenas to four very high profile senior Trump administration officials.
Now, this has evolved over the course of the day in an interesting way as well. We learned at the start of the day today, reporting at politico.com and in "The Washington Post" early today that the January 6th investigation was in the words of "Politico`s" headline as you can see there was accelerating.
"Politico" was in fact first to report that the National Archives and Records Administration had started to produce documents and records to the committee from the Trump White House about events leading up to and including the attack on January 6th. Now, the National Archives and Records Administration keeps White House records. They are the custodian of those records. They are the ones who received the request from the committee to produce those records.
And what they do when it comes to a former president is they have to give the former president a chance to object to the release of those documents. Well, they`ve done so. The first stack of those Trump White House documents that have been requested by the January 6th investigation, the first stack of those documents have reportedly been delivered to former President Trump himself for his review as he and his lawyers consider what options they may have or may not have to try to stop the release of those documents to the committee and ultimately the release of those documents to the public.
Now, those documents being delivered to Trump and his lawyers so they can review them, that may be what led one slightly beside himself Trump`s Trump spokesman today to tell "The Post": that the only reason these documents are being demanded in the first place is because of this, quote, communist style select committee. Communist style, yes, like right after this thing with the January 6th attack they`re going to move on to putting out a five- year wheat production plan, and then we`ll all move to collective farms, as communist style. Are you sure that`s exactly what you meant?
Well, now, tonight, after that freak out earlier in the day about the Trump White House documents actually being produced by the National Archives and Records Administration, so they can ultimately be given to this committee, after that little freak out from Trump world earlier in the day, tonight, the January 6th investigation committee has issued subpoenas to four very high-profile Trump officials.
Steve Bannon, Trump`s former campaign manager and White House advisor, who was arrested and charged with multiple felonies last year before he was ultimately pardoned by Trump as one of his last acts in office. Also, Mark Meadows, Trump`s final White House chief of staff. Dan Scavino, Trump`s communications guy, the guy who wrote his tweets among other things. Also, Kash Patel, one of the Trump loyalists who was mysteriously installed at the highest levels of the Pentagon at the very end of the Trump administration after the election for reasons that have never become clear.
All four of those Trump administration officials tonight are directed in these new subpoenas to hand over documents to the investigation by October 7th. That`s two weeks from now. They are also directed to appear for depositions a week after that on October 14th and October 15th.
Now, will they comply with these subpoenas? Interesting question.
Congressman Adam Schiff is the head of the intelligence committee. He`s also a member of the January 6th investigation. He said earlier today before these subpoenas were issued that the committee may well consider criminal referrals for anybody who obstructs the committee`s work or who specifically refuses a subpoena, that compels them to come and testify and to hand over documents. So that very overt threat from congressman chef earlier in the day that to resist a subpoena from the committee is to invite potential criminal referral, referral for criminal prosecution and now tonight following that from Congressman Schiff, we`ve got these four subpoenas again to four very high profile members of Trump`s circle.
Here`s are the subpoenas to testify, here are the subpoenas to hand over documents. That`s developing just within the last hour. As well we`re going to have more on that ahead over the course of tonight`s show.
There`s one other thing to tell you and this is something we`re reporting tonight exclusively. For this next bit of news tonight, we need to stand back for just a second. Do you remember this from last spring, from the spring of 2020?
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Honestly, if you look at the trends today that I think by Memorial Day weekend, we will largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was April 23rd, 2020, vice president of the United States Mike Pence announcing to the entire world that from his perspective in the White House leading the COVID, you know, White House task force thing that he was leading, so like the -- the U.S. government`s point person overseeing all aspects of the COVID response, from his perspective, his point of visibility, he could say you know this COVID thing is going to be totally behind us by next month. It`ll be over by May.
Now, the pandemic obviously did not end in May 2020 when Vice President Pence said it would. But why did he say that?
In fact, it was not just Vice President Mike Pence, but President Trump and all these senior political appointees in the Trump administration repeatedly insisting over and over and over again, over months and months of suffering and death that there wasn`t too much to worry about because this whole covet thing was about to end. It was a blip, it was going to go away any day now it would be gone by May. Why did they do that? Why did they say that?
Even all these months later, even now that we have a new president, it remains one of the mysteries about the initial response to the COVID pandemic in this country, not just you know why it was generally bad and terrible and ineffective but also why it was specifically weird in the way that it was.
I mean, you may also remember how obsessed President Trump was with this drug hydroxychloroquine. He would get up at COVID briefings and say what a miracle hydroxychloroquine was. He talked about it like it was a cure or like it was the thing that could prevent you from getting COVID. He recommended that people take it not only to treat their COVID if they got COVID, but they should take it preventively. Even if you weren`t sick, you should take it preventively to ward off getting the virus.
And hydroxychloroquine is a real drug for real things but not for COVID. It was none of the things that the president said it was. Why did he keep saying that? I mean, eventually, the FDA had to put an official an official announcement telling people not to take hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent COVID because it doesn`t treat or prevent COVID and in fact taking it can be dangerous.
Last year, the speaker of the House announced that she would form a select committee in Congress to investigate what went wrong in the national response to COVID, what went wrong in the Trump administration as they failed so badly in their initial response to the pandemic and the United States became the worst hit country in the world in terms of the pandemic. That committee has started to turn up information not just about how the response to the pandemic was sort of structured, but also why we may have got down some of those very weird cul-de-sacs.
Just last week, that committee turned up something new or I should say it turned up some someone knew somebody who was not previously known to have advised the White House coronavirus response. His name is Dr. Stephen Hatfill. He`s a virologist.
In February 2020, he started working with the White House Trade Representative Peter Navarro as an advisor on the pandemic response. Which is why as the congressional investigation was continuing their course of looking into the us government response in the first year of COVID, Dr. Steven Hatfill`s name started popping up all over the place even though he had never been sort of publicly declared as somebody who was involved in the response.
And you can see in this guy`s correspondence that the committee has dug up thus far that that kind of his involvement with the White House tracks with some of those otherwise inexplicable bizarre decisions and public pronouncements made by the Trump administration around COVID.
For example, I`ll show you this one. This is an email from Dr. Stephen Hatfill to Peter Navarro dated May of last year, so right before Memorial Day. He writes, quote: I`ve been working on tracking down some Israeli data indicating that this coronavirus thing may have now essentially run its eight-week course in most of the United States. Genetic bottlenecking of the virus may be underway now.
Again, that`s May 2020, Dr. Hatfill advising the White House COVID response, even though nobody knows that he is, telling his White House supervisor, ah, this whole thing is almost over looks like we`re about to be done.
In another email that same month, Dr. Hatfill forwards Peter Navarro at the White House headlines from a yet to be released study on hydroxychloroquine, a study that had not come out yet, a study Dr. Hatfill said would prove once and for all that hydroxychloroquine will greatly improve survival for COVID patients.
Look how he ends his e-mail, quote, if Fauci and Steven Hahn, head of the FDA, had done their jobs, 30,000 less people would have died. They have blood on their hands. What he means there is 30,000 Americans died because Dr. Fauci and Dr. Hahn didn`t support the widespread of hydroxychloroquine, which is the solution to COVID crisis in America.
Now, I should tell you, if his name rings a bell, this guy Stephen Hatfill did have a bizarre, very high profile turn in the news in a totally unrelated previous scandal 20 years ago, a legitimate national security crisis. In 2001, five people were killed after a string of letters were sent to news out news outlets and congressional offices containing anthrax powder.
In the course of investigating who sent those letters, the attorney general of the United States named Stephen Hatfill as a person of interest in the anthrax attacks. Stephen Hatfill was never ever formally accused of any wrongdoing, he was never charged with any crime, he was in fact exonerated.
Stephen Hatfill sued the Justice Department, saying they violated his privacy by publicly identifying him as a potential perpetrator of those anthrax attacks.
In the end, he got more than four million dollars from the U.S. government when the Justice Department settled that lawsuit with him.
So that`s this previous turn in the public eye for Stephen Hatfill, again, totally unrelated to this. But because of that, it was sort of all around weird to see this guy turn up in these emails that the House committee started releasing last week as part of their investigation. Frankly, they generated more questions than answers.
Why was Stephen Hatfill advising the COVID response in the Trump White House? Why was it never announced publicly? What was the extent of his role? What exactly did he advise the White House to do?
Well, tonight, we have something new to add to that. The House committee that`s investigating the Trump administration his response to COVID has just unearthed new documents regarding Stephen Hatfill`s time working for the White House and these emails have not yet been made public we have obtained them tonight you are seeing them here for the first time.
And in these new emails, we get a better picture of just how involved, how ingrained inside the White House Dr. Hatfill appears to have been as he was pushing these lines about how hydroxychloroquine was going to be the solution to COVID and how the -- the epidemic was going to was going to end it was going to burn itself out. This one is from February 2020 , right when Dr. Hatfill started advising the White House. He appears to be writing to a -- to a friend.
He writes, quote: Good morning, mate. Got my first good night`s sleep in over a week, never met big Don, that`s who you think it is, but worked close with some of those right under him and helped draft the memos to him. I`ve never seen anything like it.
They say, okay, what`s the next step. So I give my opinion, the phone gets picked up it gets run through somebody else. The next morning when I get in, stuff has already happened or it`s underway. I`ve never seen anything like it. Unreal.
I never knew the government could move so fast, it`s unbelievable. It`s 100 percent adrenaline rush.
Another email we can report on tonight shows that in April of last year, Dr. Hatfill received an email from the White House office of personnel saying he was being considered for an official White House job. Dr. Hatfill appears surprised by this. He calls the email unexpected. As far as we can tell, he was never officially hired by the White House in a formal capacity. He continues to refer to himself as an unpaid volunteer. What was all that about?
We can also show more evidence tonight released to us by the committee of not only Dr. Hatfill pushing the theory that hydroxychloroquine was a miracle cure for COVID, but that that quack advice from him was being received at the highest levels of the federal government. September of last year, again months after the FDA warned everybody to stay far, far away from hydroxychloroquine, here`s Dr. Hatfill writing to president`s -- President Trump`s chief of staff, the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
He says to Mark Meadows that Trump has been given -- excuse me, that Trump has been quote grossly misadvised on the proper pandemic response to COVID. He says both Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Hahn, the head of the FDA, need to be fired immediately and then he offered his advice on what the president and the country should do instead which includes, naturally, drum roll, please, quote, the outpatient and prophylactic use of hydroxychloroquine with zinc supplementation. That must be the COVID strategy from here on out.
Fire Fauci, fire the head of the FDA, and instead move to a natural hydroxychloroquine and zinc response. He says that other countries are doing this. He said those countries are able to bring their localized COVID outbreak under control in a matter of 14 days and that`s why those countries in particular haven`t had major outbreaks.
He says it is, quote, necessary to reaffirm that the widespread outpatient use of hydroxychloroquine is the only way to control the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. at this time. Again, this is last fall.
So, where is this guy come from? How did he get into the White House to be advising them on the COVID response? Why is he telling White House chief of staff that he must fire the top infectious disease doctor in the U.S. government, fire the top scientist overseeing the scientific response and instead the White House should just be passing out hydroxychloroquine and zinc in Pez dispensers. That`s what the needs to be America]s response. Oh, and by the way, the pandemic will just disappear on its own.
Why did that happen? Why that guy?
We learned another thing about Dr. Hatfill in these documents, and this is brand new. It appears from looking at these documents in the House investigation that Dr. Hatfill`s portfolio expanded beyond COVID in the final months of the Trump administration. Again, he`s an unnamed but apparently quite connected White House advisor telling the White House that the COVID pandemic will end on its own, all we need to do is give everyone hydroxychloroquine and fire Fauci.
That`s what he`s doing for months when he brags to his friend he`s working seven days a week, 10 hours a day, 365 days a year, he`s worked there for months, that`s all he`s doing.
But then here he is November 9th, a few days after the election. You see, the subject of his email here is, White House proof, proof in quote. He tells friends he`s going to Arizona for election stuff. This is less than a week after the election.
Why is a virologist advising the White House on COVID going to Arizona for election stuff? Also, what proof is this about?
December 12, we get another e-mail from this virologist advising the U.S. government on COVID response. The subject of this one is plan B for Trump legal fight. The email says, for Rudy, our plan B following the Supreme Court decision of Friday evening. This is his advice, his legal advice as a virologist on how to get the Supreme Court to overturn the election results and keep Trump in power.
Two days later, December 14th, Dr. Hatfill sends his supervisor in the White House, Peter Navarro, a link to what he calls the national expert on detecting fraudulent ballots, the link he sends to the White House takes you to a video of Jovan Pulitzer, remember the guy who invented the CueCat the hand-held scanner in the shape of a cat, the guy from the Arizona fake election audit. Technology expert can determine if ballots are legitimate or fake in seconds.
The virologist who is advising the White House that hydroxychloroquine is the cure and that the epidemic will it will end on its own, he`s hooking them up with Jovan Pulitzer videos on detecting, you know, cat scratch fever in your election results.
One more, on the day after, that December 15th, Dr. Hatfill emails a White House policy analyst five words. Could this possibly be true? He includes a link which takes you to a tweeted out bogus conspiracy theory about how Joe Biden`s family owns Dominion Voting Systems secretly. And so, for that reason, the entire election is null and void.
And this White House official responds to the virologist, oh bleep, I will look into that, OMG, OMG.
A couple weeks later, January 5th, a friend writes to Dr. Hatfill and asks him, why are you not fixing the virus? Why are you not fixing the out-of- control COVID outbreak in the country?
He responds, quote, because the election thing is out of control. I go where my team goes I watched them for four weeks and then I started to help in little ways. I found I had a small talent for some of this, upon discovering and outlining what happened in Nevada. This is changing second by second. I`ve got to admit it`s excitingly addictive and he says hydroxychloroquine is on the back burner until this fight is over -- meaning until this fight to overturn the election results is over, because he`s transitioned from advocating that the U.S. should stop responding to COVID and just give everybody hydroxychloroquine, he`s transitioned from that to how to expose the truth about, you know, the Biden family owning the election machines and so check with the cat guy.
I mean, truly what was this guy doing? Why was he a White House advisor on COVID in the first place? How did he all of a sudden turn into a helping hand in the fight to overturn the election?
We reached out to Dr. Hatfill for comment tonight, we have not heard back. But the House investigation that has dug up this correspondence, they want more information on this as well.
We can report first here tonight that the House committee that`s investigating the U.S. government`s response to COVID, that committee has just issued a subpoena to Dr. Steven Hatfill for documents from his time advising the Trump White House. The committee first asked him to voluntarily turn over documents back in April and to sit for a transcribed interview. The committee tells us Dr. Hatfill so far refused to cooperate and otherwise minimized his involvement in the COVID response in a way that appears to be contradicted documents that he have turned in already. And so, they have therefore sent the subpoena for documents tonight.
I told you, when it rains, it pours. In the case of this latter story, it feels like it`s the beginning of this story.
Joining us now is Congressman Jamie Raskin, congressman from Maryland. He sits on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. I will tell you he`s also a member of the January 6 Select Committee.
Congressman Raskin, you are a busy man at the best of times. Thank you for making time to be with us here tonight.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I`m delighted to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: It`s a lot of news to get through and we`re breaking some of it here tonight for the first time. Let me just first ask you based on your role on both committees if I`ve gotten any of this wrong or misstated any of this as far as you know.
RASKIN: Believe it or not, everything that you`ve said about Dr. Hatfill is consistent with what we`ve been able to learn from different sources. But, of course, we`ve sent him this subpoena because we want all the documents that he`s got.
We`re talking about a virologist who was working, he said, 10 hours a day, seven days a week on COVID-19. He was enthusiastically hawking the hydroxychloroquine cure for COVID-19. He was an active vaccine skeptic. He was urging the firing of Dr. Fauci, and pretty much everything that he said was at least parallel to what President Trump ended up saying.
And it`d be interesting to know which way the influence was flowing. It may have been going back and forth, but he clearly was someone who was meaningfully involved in their COVID-19 efforts, and I used that word in a very liberal way. But what`s curious about him is that he also was a political actor and as you were saying, at the end, he began to range far and wide in terms of the Trump entourages, his activities, including being delegated to go out to Arizona to work on their efforts to spread the big lie out there and to try to overturn the 2020 election.
So, you know, the public health of America was in hands of people like this. Because he was classified as a volunteer rather than actually put on staff, he didn`t have to go through any kind of ethics review and that means there was no conflict of interest check in terms of any of his private activities.
MADDOW: One of the other things that does seem that sort of sticks out going through these documents today is that while he appears to have downplayed to the committee his role in the coronavirus response, he has certainly played it up in his correspondence to many of the people he was emailing with, talking, bragging about how influential he was how much time he was spending on this had become more than a full-time job for him, and while as you mentioned he was only ever classified I guess formally as some sort of volunteer, at least he never went through any of the sort of vetting process and disclosure process you`d have to go through in order to be a more formal White House advisor or White House employee, he does say in some of these documents that he`s got a dot-gov email address, he`s got an email address that cites him in the executive office of the president.
Is it, in fact, clear whether or not he was in fact officially attached to the -- to the White House into the Trump administration?
RASKIN: No, it`s not entirely clear. It`s possible he was that -- he was put on the government payroll, but we just don`t know at this point. He`s using private email to conduct government business, outside of the rules. But perhaps he was put on the government payroll at some point and we just don`t know that. So there are a lot of mysterious facts here that need to be cleared up, and we should be able to get to the bottom of that.
I mean, it`s you know I`ve got a real affinity to what we`re going through with uh in the January 6 Select Committee.
Basically, there are lots of people who declare themselves to be public servants or people trying to render service to the country and they should continue to render service to the country by turning over all information that they have. Certainly, this is where we are on January 6. It should be considered not only a duty for anyone who`s got information about the violent attack, an insurrection on America on January 6, to turn over that information. It should be considered an honor. It should be considered a privilege.
I certainly hope the former president United States would turn over all the information that he has, but perhaps, that`s too much to hope for.
MADDOW: Well, on that January 6 investigation, as I mentioned at the top, you are a very busy man you are on the committee that is investigating the coronavirus crisis, you were also on the January 6th investigation committee, and these subpoenas that went out um tonight to Steve Bannon, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino, who was a senior communications aide to the president, and Kash Patel, sort of mysterious figure who ended up at the highest levels of the Pentagon in the very late stages of the Trump administration, those -- those subpoenas from the January 6th investigation do represent a sort of I guess sort of an acceleration, a sort of ticking up of the intensity of your investigation.
I wanted to ask if we should expect those to be the first of many subpoenas or are these four really at the center of the bullseye into in terms of who you`re hoping to hear from?
RASKIN: No, I think that you will find that there will be other subpoenas forthcoming. We`re collecting a lot of information from emails, Facebook posting, Twitter postings. We have millions of pieces of evidence that have already flowed into us, and a lot of this was televised and recorded. And so, if any of these people think that they`re somehow going to escape undetected, they`ve got something else coming, and they really should cooperate at this point with our investigation by giving us all of the information they have about the attack on Congress.
There were more than140 officers of the Capitol police and the Metropolitan Police Department who were seriously injured, broken noses, broken arms, broken ribs, broken legs -- you know, traumatic brain injuries. We`ve got dozens and dozens of people suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome right now, and for the first time in American history, they delayed the counting of electoral college votes by four or five hours, and this was the most massive violent assault on the workings of Congress and on the U.S. Capitol since the war of 1812 and 1814.
So how in the world could a high-ranking government official want to hide information or relevant documents that he or she might have about what took place? I mean, that`s an astounding thing when you consider it.
MADDOW: Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin sits on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis and also on the on the select committee that is investigating the January sixth attack, a lot of news from both of those committees tonight, sir. Thank you for your -- for your diligence as a member of Congress, putting in all the extracurricular activities uh that can be done as a member of Congress right now. Thank you for your time tonight for being with us.
RASKIN: And thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
All right. We`ve got much more to get here tonight, busy night. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is the headline in "The New York Times" this morning. Quote: Arizona`s criticized election review nears end, but copycats are just getting started.
As we wait to see how things play out in Arizona tomorrow with the release of the report from Republicans so-called audit of the election results in that state, we have also been watching what is in fact a copycat Republican-led election investigation in a few other states, including one that is proceeding oddly now in Pennsylvania.
As I mentioned when it rains it pours. And in tonight`s news, we`ve got interesting new developments around this one.
Republicans in Pennsylvania have voted as part of this investigation that they want a subpoena fairly intrusive personal records from every single voter in the state. If you voted in Pennsylvania, Republicans there are demanding by subpoena for every single voter in the state your full name, your date of birth, your full address, your driver`s license number, your partial Social Security number. Are you comfortable with them having that? Do you know what they`re going to do with that once they get it?
The Democrats in the Pennsylvania Senate quickly actually filed a lawsuit against the Republicans to try to stop these subpoenas from going out, but just tonight, something new. The attorney general of the state of Pennsylvania has now also filed suit against the Republican-led Senate committee that is conducting this election investigation, along with the chairman of that committee and the Republican leader of the state Senate all in an effort to stop these subpoenas to get all this data on everybody who voted in the state.
I want to read you something about how the lawsuit starts. Quote: Pennsylvania citizens have constitutionally guaranteed rights to free and fair elections and to the protection of their personal information, both fundamental rights are threatened by the abuse of power at the center of this case. The commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Department of State and acting secretary of the commonwealth bring this action to protect nine million Pennsylvania voters from an unlawful attempt to subpoena and share with unknown third parties their private information. The Pennsylvania state senate`s Intergovernmental Operations Committee has demanded voters` private information not to conduct a good faith investigation or to further secure Pennsylvania`s elections but instead to pursue a disproven narrative designed to undermine faith in the results of Pennsylvania`s 2020 presidential election.
Throughout the election investigation, the purpose has remained the same, to placate former President Trump and his political base and propagate his false allegations while avoiding the embarrassment that`s resulted from previous efforts to provide evidence of voter fraud that does not exist.
The lawsuit not only says it is unlawful for Pennsylvania Republicans to subpoena all this sensitive and identifying personal information from all the voters in the state, but the attorney is also warning that Republicans really have not been very forthcoming with what they`re going to do with this information once they get it or who else they`re going to give it to.
Quote, the chairman of the election committee, Senator Dush, would not rule out retaining vendors associated with former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell or those who had worked for candidates in the elections under investigation.
This lawsuit tonight, again, from the Pennsylvania state attorney general is asking the courts to declare knees Republican subpoenas invalid and unenforceable, essentially trying to choke off this Pennsylvania effort to do what Arizona has done over all these period of months.
Joining me now is Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
Mr. Shapiro, thanks for making time for us tonight. I know it`s a busy night.
JOSH SHAPIRO (D), PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good to be with you, Rachel. Thanks.
MADDOW: Is it clear to you why they want this information about all the voters in your state?
SHAPIRO: I think what`s clear is that they continue to perpetuate the big lie. I think what`s clear is that in doing so they`ve not only been lying to their constituents but now they`re putting nine million Pennsylvanians at risk of having their private personal information compromised.
They`re violating their constitutional right to privacy. They`re trying to have a chilling effect on our election and what our lawsuit makes clear is we will not let them get away with it.
MADDOW: It is surprising to me given the -- given how provocative this request is in the Republican subpoena or this demand is in the Republican subpoena, I mean, they must know that voters across the state are not going to want all of this personal identifying information handed over to an investigation in the -- in the state legislature.
But given that, knowing how provocative it must be, they don`t have an explanation as you write in your lawsuit -- they don`t have any explanation as to what they`re going to do with this information or who else they might give it to. Is it your belief or is it -- do you think it`s -- it`s plausible that what they are intending to do is to hand it over to a you know Cyber Ninjas outfit or some other kind of vendor who they`re going to hire to do this work?
SHAPIRO: The chairman of the committee who we sued for his conduct here made clear that that is their intention, to take the private personal information, Social Security numbers, driver`s license numbers and the like and take all of that information of 9 million Pennsylvanians and handed over to a third party. And indeed upon questioning the chairman to ask whether that third party could for example be associated with Sidney Powell, the now disgraced, discredited attorney for the former president, they indicated that that could be a possibility, that a association of hers could receive that.
Look, as the state`s top lawyer, we have prosecuted, investigated cases of data breach. In fact we led the national investigation into Equifax. That`s a company that obviously had controls and yet people`s data was still compromised. Here, to turn it over to some third party like Cyber Ninjas or like somebody associated with Sidney Powell, puts people`s information at risk and raises all kinds of legal questions.
That`s why we went to court today and that`s why we simply will not let these Republican leaders in the state Senate get away with this.
MADDOW: Can you tell me about the decision why you just chose to bring this suit in addition to the entire committee and the chairman of the committee, that`s conducting this investigation why did you include the Republican leader in the state Senate, the Republican Senate president as a defendant here why is that important to your case?
SHAPIRO: Because the Republican leader is trying to orchestrate this sham. Indeed, he bragged about the fact that he checked with Donald Trump before instructing this chairman to go forward with this effort. So he is involved with this.
Look, this is who the modern day Republican Party is, and these politicians who issued and backed these subpoenas, including the leader of the state Senate, they have sold out Pennsylvanians who value small government who value their privacy, to fuel a lie and to undermine the way we run elections and have run elections for generations. And they`re doing it because Rachel they believe that their own power is more important than your constitutional rights. That`s what this is all about.
MADDOW: Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who again has brought suit tonight against this Republican-led investigation in the Pennsylvania legislature, seeking to investigate the election results ala Arizona, ala Wisconsin, all these other states where Republicans have power -- Mr. Attorney General, thank you for making time tonight. Thanks for helping us understand.
SHAPIRO: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got more ahead tonight. I told you it`s a busy night. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Here`s an interesting sort of unexpected update tonight on a story we brought you first a few days ago. As you know, Russia had its elections this past weekend. Main opposition leader in Russia is Alexei Navalny. The Russian government tried to assassinate him last year, then they put him in prison. They`ve since outlawed his organization put many of its other leaders and workers in jail as well.
But for the election this weekend, Navalny`s organization created an app that voters could use for voting strategically voting basically in a coordinated way to consolidate support behind a single anti-Putin candidate in each district, the candidate with the best chance of actually winning. They built this smart voting app as a as a key part of that organizing effort to try to get Putin`s political party out of power and thereby oust Putin from the Kremlin.
They created this app helping people coordinate their votes in the strategic way but then this was the headline in "The New York Times" on Friday as the election opened up in Russia. Quote: Google and Apple, under pressure from Russia, remove voting app. Apple and Google removed an app meant to coordinate protest voting in this week`s weekend Russian elections, a blow to the opponents of President Vladimir Putin.
The app, quote, disappeared from the two technology platforms just as voting got underway. Putin`s government pressured out Apple and Google to take this Navalny app out of the app stores and they caved.
And that was not the end of it in terms of the caving. Over the weekend, as Russians voted, Google also blocked videos, Google owns YouTube. Google blocked YouTube videos that Navalny`s allies had posted on YouTube to help again coordinate this opposition voting this smart voting strategy. They blocked those videos at the request at the demand of Putin`s government.
Well, now, Bloomberg News reports that employees of Google are increasingly upset about the company`s repeated and consequential capitulation to Russian government threats. Quote: staff members complained over the weekend about Google`s decision in internal forums and on a messaging board that has served as a breeding ground for protests within the company.
Images circulating inside Google spoofed its corporate creed about prioritizing users. One picture depicts a man reading a magazine below the slogan "Putin the user first", get it, putting the user first, Putin the user first.
Since its formation, Google has used the motto to make information universally accessible and useful. One meme image being circulated again inside Google among its own employees displayed a map of the world where the Russian voting app was allowed every country was marked universally accessible except for Russia, where the image just read useful.
Today, Alexei Navalny himself weighed in tweeting from prison. Quote: If something surprised me in the last elections, it was not how Putin forged the results, but how obediently the almighty big tech turned into his accomplices. The giants Apple and Google complied with the Kremlin`s demands and removed our app from their stores. My beloved YouTube has deleted our video. These programs which Putin calls extremist only contained information about opposition candidates in your constituency. The very intention to organize voters in order to put competitive pressure on the ruling party was declared criminal and big tech agreed with this. This means it recognized the right of an authoritarian thief to subjugate the internet, turning it into an instrument for seizure of power.
Joining us now is reporter Mark Bergen who has been covering the story for Bloomberg Technology and who helped break the story about Google employees and their own disquiet over this matter.
Mr. Bergen, I appreciate you making time to be here tonight. Thank you.
MARK BERGEN, BLOOMBERG REPORTER: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So you covered these things more closely than I do. Let me just ask if I misconstrued any of that or missed anything important there?
BERGEN: No, that`s that sounds spot on and the meme gen, it sounds kind of trivial, it is an internal messaging board where there are a lot of trivial things posted. But it`s also been the place where if you`ll recall a few years ago Google employees were the ones who protested their government contract with the Defense Department, and they protested their plans to re- enter China with the search engine there, both of which were subsequently - - they -- you know, Google didn`t renew its Pentagon contract and Google hasn`t gone into China.
So Google employees have been powerful forces in the past few years. That being said, you know, a lot of their organizing potential inside the company. There`s been a significant clamp down. This doesn`t feel, you know, they`re not -- that so far, they`re not sending petitions around. They`re not marching out in protests that they had in the past.
It`s relatively meager. It will -- you know, be interesting to see how long this goes on and particularly you know after the elections if Google respond any different way.
MADDOW: No two situations are the same, political situations adapt and they`re different in different countries, and leadership in companies adapts and changes over time. So, I don`t think there`s anything that you can say is you know direct apples to apples, oranges to oranges comparison.
But with that caveat, the sort of pressure that Russia put on both Google and Apple here, is that the kind of pressure that Google and Apple have previously resisted and now they`re caving, or was this some sort of new upping of the game where they really had no choice and their employees shouldn`t have expected that they might have taken a more courageous stand?
BERGEN: Yeah. I`ve heard two different versions of this and talking to both people inside and people who have been at the company. And I should note, the onset that Google has not said anything officially. They`ve given no comment whatsoever about this and I think Apple the same as far as I know.
Others have reported that uh Google not only have the threat of criminal charges as you mentioned but some rather explicit threat that their local employees in Russia would be arrested, that they didn`t take this down. And I think the people internally that will point to that is we had no other recourse.
And they will also argue that they`re facing similar pressures in countries like India and Vietnam. There are a fair amount of countries that are becoming much more aggressive about Internet controls. That being said, rewind ten years ago, 11 years ago now to 2010, Google rather famously left China. It pulled its search engine, YouTube. YouTube was never there, but a lot of its main services, left the country.
Google came out and they sort of presented this as we are standing up to totalitarianism. In fact, Sergey Brin, who was one of Google`s co-founders who was born in Soviet Russia was the one who publicly talked to "The New York Times" and other outlets at the time and presented this as a valued base stand against censorship.
So Google has its history for a long time of sort of standing up for the freedom of expression, freedom of the internet. And there has been a lot of employee there`s both current and former who have said that the current management has changed significantly from the past.
MADDOW: Briefly, if Google did make a decision to not operate in Russia because of this, if they pulled out of Russia in the way they pulled out of China, particularly if Russia is going to say you have to have employees here in order to operate here, and by the way, we`ll threaten to arrest them whenever you don`t do what we want, if they chose to pull out of Russia, would it cost them a lot of money? Is Russia a big revenue generator for them?
BERGEN: So they don`t disclose their revenue in Russia. There are estimates that the country, from what I`ve seen, Google`s primarily a digital advertising company. Russia is a little under $4 billion in total advertising spend to give you a sense of small fragment of what Google is earning. YouTube alone just in one quarter made $7 billion.
And, you know, but YouTube is a really interesting phenomenon where Navalny called it his beloved YouTube. He and a lot of other opposition figures and dissidents in Russia have used YouTube where the state media has blocked them out. Now YouTube could clearly continue to operate. Google could decide just not to make any advertising and they could go out and say we`re providing a service to Russians we think important.
Thus far, the company thinks that the financial benefits of remaining there are clearly outweighing the costs.
MADDOW: Unsustainable. I won`t put that on you. I won`t ask you to respond to it, but to me it`s absolutely unsustainable.
Mark Bergen, reporter for Bloomberg technology, thank you for helping us understand that. It`s a pleasure to have you.
BERGEN: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: That is going to do it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow night, which I have a feeling is going to be just as nuts.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.