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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 9/28/21

Guests: Bill McKibben, Liz Hamel


Future of Biden climate agenda at stake in reconciliation bill. Polls show racial gap in vaccinations closing as gap between political parties persists.


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

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

When a criminal complaint is filed in a case like this, it`s not unusual for there to be an affidavit that makes up the bulk of the complaint.


An FBI agent or some other law enforcement officer basically writes a first person narrative that`s an explanation of why the charges were being brought. The law enforcement official or the FBI agent explains his or her background and expertise in law enforcement.

The person describes the investigation that has led the charges to be being filed against this defendant. If the defendant got interviewed before or after the arrest, the FBI agent or the officer will explain what the defendant said in that interview.

It`s a narrative. It explains basically the nature of the evidence, what the investigation turned up, and why the charges are warranted from the point of view of the prosecution. That`s often how these things are structured.

And along those lines, here`s what we got from an FBI agent`s affidavit filing criminal charges against a woman named Dawn Bancroft. On or about January 12, 2021, the FBI received a tip with a video purported to be filmed by defendant Dawn Bancroft.

The video was a so-called selfie video which depicted Bancroft and another woman in the process of attempting to exit the U.S. building in D.C., the video also captured a large mob of individuals who have become bottlenecked at a capital exit point.

During the video, Bancroft stated: We broke into the capital. We got inside. We did our part. We were looking for Nancy to shoot her in the frigging brain. But we didn`t find her, end quote.

Your affiant believes that the "Nancy" Bancroft was referencing in this quote is Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Quote: Bancroft stated -- excuse me, Bancroft was wearing a red Make America Great Again ski cap style hat during the video. A screenshot of this video is depicted below and they actually included a color screenshot in the criminal complaint. There she is. Make America Great Again ski cap.

Quote: Bancroft was interviewed on or about January 20th, so eight days after the tip came in. Interviewed on about January 20th by your affiant, Bancroft said she had entered the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021. In particular, Bancroft explained that she followed other protesters up the exterior stairs of the Capitol building to a courtyard area filled with people.

Bancroft said she saw a window to the Capitol building which had been broken. She witnessed people entering the Capitol building. Bancroft stated that she followed and entered the Capitol building through this broken window at approximately 3:00 p.m. Bancroft stated that she was aware that she was entering restricted grounds when she entered through the Capitol building window. Bancroft stated that she had taken video of herself inside the Capitol building but had deleted it. Bancroft further stated that she had sent the video to her children and subsequently instructed her children to delete it. Bancroft showed the FBI agents additional photographs and videos on her cell phone that she filmed on January 6, 2021.

On or about that same day, January 20th, your affiant, reviewed CCTV footage that captured Bancroft attempting in fact to enter the Capitol building on January 6th.

So this is the basis for the charges. This is an FBI agent saying I`ve seen the CCTV footage of this woman entering the Capitol. She admitted to me in an interview on January 20th that she had entered the Capitol. She in fact had climbed in through a broken window and knew that she shouldn`t be doing that.

She then filmed a video inside the Capitol in which she said we broke into the Capitol we got inside we did our part we were looking for Nancy to shoot her in the freaking brain but we didn`t find her. She then sent that video to her children, hey, kids, look what mommy`s doing, but then told her kids to delete it. Presumably so mom wouldn`t get in trouble when the FBI came looking. We were looking for Nancy to shoot her in the freaking brain, sent that to her kids.

Today in court in Washington, D.C., something really interesting happened and quite provocative. There`s been a lot of these January 6 cases where people have done and said shocking things and been caught and charged for it. But this was one of those cases where the judge basically balked.

Federal judge today accepted a guilty plea from this defendant, from the shooter in the freaking brain defendant, and you`re not going to believe me when I say this, but the guilty plea that that judge was accepting from her today was her guilty plea to a single misdemeanor charge, which is something that prosecutors are apparently fine with even though the judge doesn`t -- doesn`t seem to necessarily agree.


The defendant is charged with basically being disruptive inside the Capitol building, as this laid out in the criminal complaint against her, what she`s charged with is the misdemeanor charge that prohibits parading or picketing inside the Capitol building -- parading, picketing, that`s what we`re calling this now.

Today, in accepting her guilty plea to that single parading misdemeanor, federal judge hearing, Dawn Bancroft`s case, apparently had a bit of a hard time accepting that this is really how the case is going and this is really how it`s going to end. Here`s reporting from WUSA reporter Jordan Fischer who was in court today for the hearing.

Quote: A federal judge pressed the Justice Department today on why a Capitol riot defendant who said she wanted to shoot House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was only facing misdemeanor charges saying during her plea hearing that he was appalled by the comments. Then Fischer quotes the judge, quote, it is very troubling to hear someone say the reason they entered the Capitol on January 6th was essentially to murder the speaker of the House. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan told Dawn Bancroft, quote, it is very troubling.

Here`s Ryan Reilly`s reporting for "Huffington Post" today. Quote: At the hearing, Sullivan called Bancroft`s comments about Pelosi horrible and outrageous. He asked a federal prosecutor on the case why it didn`t rise to the level of a threat. He said Bancroft was very fortunate that there was not a more serious charge. Judge Sullivan said that the comments will certainly come up at Bancroft`s sentencing in January and that she should be prepared to explain her language at that point because it could have an impact on her sentence.

He said, quote, I don`t want to in any way minimize the very troubling nature of a pretty outrageous statement.

Judge Sullivan then reflected on one of the, quote, large questions of January 6th, how so many law-abiding citizens like Dawn Bancroft had turned against their government, and he quotes the judge. Quote, so many people up until January were outstanding members of the community, never been in trouble. But on January, they morphed into -- they morphed into terrorists, the judge said.

Like I said, these are provocative remarks, but this sort of thing keeps happening over and over again in cases involving the January 6 defendants. The Justice Department is bringing hundreds of cases against people who participated in the attack at one level or another. But over and over again, judges keep asking prosecutors once these cases get into court, you sure this is all you want to charge this person with? You know what this person participated in, right? You know this was an attempt to overthrow the government by force?

And we`re charging the participants in that effort with having a parade in the wrong place? That was today in federal court in Washington, D.C. Here`s another piece of it.

The Republican Accountability Project you might remember that name this is a group that was formed -- lots of attention when they came together and formed last year. These are Republicans, many of them high-profile former Trump administration officials who have changed their mind, who reject Trumpism in their party, who are horrified by what happened while Donald Trump was in office as president. The Republican Accountability Project is sort of sees its role now as trying to expose the ugliness of Trumpism in the Republican Party and trying to break the former president`s hold on the current party.

Well, a few days ago they posted a tape online which showed a pro-Trump Republican congressman named Paul Gosar addressing on September 11th what appears to be a small crowd of supporters at a restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona. And the tape is -- the tape is really quite something. For one thing, it is -- it is just hard to believe looking at this viscerally, it is hard to believe that this is a sitting member of Congress, but it is.


REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): We can do that and follow through on this audit Folks, if it`s what I`ve been told and I had people come to me early hours of the day after from the security exchange fraud department to the CIA fraud department, that between 450,000 and 700, 000 ballots were altered in the state of Arizona, and I`ll give you some validation.

Dominion, which happens to be the machines in Maricopa County, why do I bring that up? Is there known for switch and delete, okay? Kind of suspicious? If this comes out the way it is, I have to tell you, we have to charge people.


GOSAR: The supervisors have to be charged. So what I`m telling you, the governor knew exactly what I just told you, and he`s still certified.


It could be avoided.

Now, there`s also be some good vision (ph). In Georgia, they`re doing a forensic audit called Fulton County which is the Atlanta area, Jody Hice, who`s my friend who`s running for the secretary of state because of the problems there, has told me that there are error rates of over 60 percent of many of the precincts.


MADDOW: Sixty percent errors in the election. He`s got sources from the security exchange fraud department -- anybody ideas? Any, anybody, any? Hmm?

The security exchange fraud department, he`s got his sources and also the CIA fraud department.

Now, when somebody emailed you, Congressman, and told you they were the CIA fraud department, did they also ask for your bank account number? Did they also ask me to wire him a little something? Is it possible the email came from a Nigerian prince?

No, he`s got his sources. The security exchange fraud department and the CIA fraud department and the guy his friend who`s running in Georgia knows it`s 60 percent error in the election. This is -- this month, this September 2021. His name is Paul Gosar. He is a serving member of Congress.

I should tell you -- and I don`t mean this with any snark -- there has been some reporting in the Arizona press that it is possible that he is not well, there may be something health-wise going on with Congressman Gosar. We have no reason to believe that`s true and I should let you know that the congressman has said in response to that reporting that he`s fine health- wise.

But this is -- this was not -- Paul Gosar is not saying like, I don`t know what that was I`m sorry, I was having a meltdown. This is what Republican members of Congress are selling back home right now, and again, all the Beltway press is like, there`s normal politics happening in Washington. What`s going on in the Republican Party deserves looking at, deserves attention because what they`re saying particularly at home to their constituents, particularly as they start getting ready to run for re- election is all of this stuff, and it`s a current animating force in one of the two major parties in our country.

Pretending that it`s not or pretending that this is in the past isn`t helping us. I will show you another piece of this now. I mentioned a few days ago that a Colorado lawsuit was about to become a font of information about where all this stuff came from, about how these lies and conspiracy theories about the election got invented, how they came up with this stuff, how they started propagating it.

You heard this congressman in Arizona for example selling this stuff about Dominion voting machines, right? Dominion voting machines that`s been one of their big villains, right? That`s been the animating conspiracy theory behind why the Arizona election results needed to be audited and they had to bring in the Cyber Ninjas because the results couldn`t be believed.

Well, that`s been that line from the beginning. That`s what they`ve been selling from the beginning, and an executive from Dominion voting systems filed a lawsuit against former President Trump and Trump`s lawyers and his allies who have been promoting these conspiracy theories and lies about Dominion voting machines. And as we have reported, the discovery process in that lawsuit has led to a lot of really important information, in part because it has led to a lot of the people involved in concocting those lies and conspiracy theories in the first place having to sit for depositions under oath, having to explain under oath why they said this stuff and where it came from.

And that gives us a priceless window into how this stuff came into being, how this nonsense stuff ended up being promoted by the former president`s lawyers and by the former president himself in a way that is now in overdrive and that more than anything else in the country is driving the politics of the Republican Party today. Now, as far as I know, and I may be wrong here and I will correct myself if I am, but as far as I know, this is -- this has not previously been reported on TV.

We know that in Colorado where the lawsuit was filed, "The Colorado Sun" news outlet uh picked up some of this and reported on some of this deposition. But we think we`re the first national outlet or the first TV show to report on any of this, I`ll tell you if that`s wrong but that`s as far as we understand it.

What we`ve got is a deposition from this lawsuit in which former President Trump`s lawyer Rudy Giuliani is under oath, and the portrait the deposition lays out into where all these conspiracy theories and complicated lies about the election came from, all this stuff that he sold to the public and he tried to sell to the courts and he sold to the press about what was wrong with the election, all this stuff, the initial seeds of this whole conspiracy theory that is the animating force of the Republican Party, Rudy Giuliani, was pressed under oath to explain where that stuff come from, where that stuff came from? Where he learned it from?


Here is Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani -- I should mention he right now is currently awaiting word as to whether the suspension of his law license will be permanent or if someday he might get it back -- but here is under questioning and under oath explaining the due diligence he did as a lawyer as an officer of the court when he decided that he needed to go public with these claims that the election was stolen. He needed to go public with these claims that Dominion voting machines and executives of Dominion were the villains who somehow stole the election from Donald Trump.

And remember, this conspiracy theory was not just for them. It is absolutely still alive today. It is absolutely entrenched on the right to the point that 78 percent of Republican voters say they believe it and say they don`t believe Joe Biden was legitimately elected president and Donald Trump should still legitimately be in the Oval Office because of all the things they`ve heard about things going wrong in this rigged election, where did that contention come from? Now we know because here is the president`s lawyer explaining how hard he worked to make sure that his story about the rigged election was a real thing before he started spreading it.

Here`s what he says -- question: as I`m hearing your testimony in terms of eyes on information about your claims about Dominion voting systems, we`ve got some media reports that you generally described and then you looked at some Facebook postings that you described? Answer, Giuliani: I don`t remember if it was Facebook. Those social media posts get all one to me. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

Question: social media postings. Answer, Giuliani: I think it was Facebook. Question: anything else that you laid eyes on? Answer, Giuliani: right now, I can`t recall anything else that I laid eyes on.

So the president`s lawyer -- maybe he looked at Facebook posts to come up with the Dominion did it conspiracy theory, but he can`t really remember and all social media looks the same to him but Facebook sure is probably Facebook. He doesn`t remember looking at anything else.

Then the deposition turns to Mr. Giuliani`s claim that there was a source, there was a witness who claimed to know that Dominion voting systems had rigged the election for Joe Biden. There`s a witness -- oh, Mr. Giuliani, did you talk to this supposed witness?

Question, I take it from your testimony that you or your team didn`t interview him? Answer, Giuliani: I didn`t interview him. Question: okay. Answer, Giuliani: I can`t tell you if someone on the team didn`t interview him, I think somebody interviewed him.

Question: you said the source`s story was credible. Do you have any knowledge about this source that led you to believe he was credible? Answer, Giuliani: no, I didn`t have any information that he wasn`t. It`s not my job in a fast-moving case to go out and investigate every piece of evidence that`s given to me. Otherwise, you`re never going to write a story.

He says, quote, why the heck wouldn`t I believe him? I would have to have been a terrible lawyer that would like to exercise rather than giving my client the benefit of the doubt. I`d like to exercise every single thing I could against my client. Gee, let`s go out and find if it`s untrue, I didn`t have the time to do that and there was nothing that said to me I should do it.

Lawyer then says to him, question: have you heard the term trial by press conference? Answer, Giuliani: I have. Question: all right, was this trial by press conference? Answer, Giuliani: no, sir.

Question, why not? Answer, Giuliani: it was investigation by press conference. It was laying out the facts that we had. I didn`t make a finding on who was telling the truth or not. I laid out what I knew and what I knew I had no reason to believe was untrue.

It wasn`t trial by press conference. It was investigation by press conference. I read some stuff I think it was maybe on Facebook. I laid it out to the public as what we knew to be the facts, and no, I had no idea if it was true or not. I didn`t even try to check. Why would I try to check? You wouldn`t have a story then.

He literally says, why the heck wouldn`t I believe him? I would have had to have been a terrible lawyer.

I would have to be a terrible lawyer. Gee, let`s go find out if it`s untrue, I didn`t have the time to do that. There was nothing to me that said I should do that.

This is a deposition filed in court in Colorado in a case brought by an executive from one of the companies that has featured in the Republican Party`s conspiracies -- ongoing conspiracies about the last presidential election. The president`s lawyer admitting that when he seeded that conspiracy theory with the public in the first place, which has now grown into the animating principle of the Republican Party, at the time, he seeded that conspiracy theory in public he doesn`t remember, if he even read a single thing about it except maybe he saw a Facebook post but he can`t remember.


He never interviewed anybody who supposedly supplied the story, supplied the evidence backing the theory.

He made no effort, took no steps whatsoever to determine if any of it was true because that would ruin the story. Why would he do that?

Again, this deposition from Rudy Giuliani filed in a defamation case brought by a former executive from Dominion voting systems.

But that story that he admits was just concocted is what ultimately led to the attack on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6. A federal judge today saying in bewilderment that that attack turned otherwise law-abiding Trump supporters into effectively terrorists that day when they decided to try to overthrow the government by force.

That concocted story led to the fiasco in Arizona where Republicans did spend months undoing and retrying their election results. And even today, their Republican Congressman Paul Gosar is saying because of their audit of the review and the Dominion voting systems and the blah, blah, blah, there should be a redo of the election between Biden and Trump because Dominion, et cetera.

That story, that concocted story is behind all of these editorials you might have seen in the newspaper in Texas today if you live in Texas. All these editorials in different Texas papers today as even the state`s homegrown press which has seen everything, they today cannot quite believe that Texas also is going to audit its election results because is Trump insists they must because Dominion, because of this story that under oath they will admit they invented out of fall cloth. It`s all made up.

This is the scene today in Chicago with former President Barack Obama when he picked the spot on which this would happen today. He was actually still president. It was July of 2016 when President Barack Obama chose this site, Jackson Park in Chicago, to be the official home for his post-presidential library.

Today, Chicago was the official groundbreaking officially kicking off construction on the project -- you see the former president the former first lady there. And a new presidential library is always a cool thing. You know, it`s a research center, a museum, a monument to history for the public to engage with.

This one though is also a reminder that our immediate past president after President Obama who has been out of office the better part of a year now, he hasn`t done anything to start planning his own presidential library. He hasn`t even announced where he would like it to be. Not in general terms, not in specific terms, in fact no terms at all have been announced for his library.

And you know, these things do take a long time to get off the ground. Barack Obama selected the location for his presidential center more than five years ago. They just started putting shovels into the dirt today.

Why is it that there`s no Trump presidential library being cited as we speak? Well, for Donald Trump to start planning his post-presidential library, that would require him to acknowledge that he is post his presidency and apparently, we are not there yet. The animating life force in the Republican Party right now means that their last president thinks he is still the rightful president and three-quarters of the Republican Party`s voters agree with him.

President Biden tonight cancelled his own planned trip to Chicago tomorrow so he can stay in Washington and keep working on negotiations to try to keep the government from shutting down, to try to avert the debt ceiling crisis, to try to pass his infrastructure bill and his budget. Again, all the beltway press looking at this fight in Washington is thinking about two parties that have two different ideas about what the governing principles of the country ought to be and how much money we ought to be spending versus raising in terms of revenue.

Widen the aperture from the Beltway press stuff, look around. What`s going on in the Republican Party has nothing to do with governing the country. What`s going on in the Republican Party more than ever has to do with overthrowing elections, overthrowing small D democracy and getting stuff done by force. Ignoring that when you`re looking at the rational negotiation -- negotiating positions of the two parties in Washington is to put your head in the sand.

That said, we do see President Biden and the Democrats trying to get stuff done. We see them under the gun incredibly in terms of timing trying to get it done by the end of the week. We`ve got live updates on that and more ahead.



MADDOW: In Senator Joe Manchin`s home state of West Virginia, the three and a half trillion dollar Build Back Better legislation that`s being proposed by President Biden, it is overwhelmingly popular. The support in West Virginia among West Virginia voters is almost unbelievable. The Build Back Better legislation has 80 percent support statewide.

Just ask self-identified conservatives in deep red West Virginia how many of self-identified conservatives pulled on the bill support it? Well, that number is 77 percent. I don`t know if Senator Joe Manchin knows that about the views of his constituents back home but to the extent that he wants credit for being the Democratic senator who`s holding the bill up. His voters back home might not be happy about that.

And it`s not just Senator Joe Manchin, of course, and it`s not just West Virginia in which the home state rumblings might be disconcerting to Democratic senators who are holding this thing up. In Senator Kyrsten Sinema`s home state of Arizona, the state`s Democratic party is so fed up with her not being on board with the bill that they passed a resolution this weekend part of which reads, quote, if Senator Sinema votes against the reconciliation bill supported by President Biden and the vast majority of Democrats in both the House and the Senate and if she continues to delay, disrupt votes to gut the reconciliation package of its necessary find funding, then the Arizona Democratic Party state committee will go officially on record and will give Senator Sinema a vote of no confidence.


If you have been following the news about this dispute at all, you`re probably well-versed in the political dynamic here by now. Democrats almost unanimously want to pass a huge potentially groundbreaking piece of legislation on climate and the social safety net and infrastructure. In the Senate, these two conservative Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are holding the whole thing up.

But they have a problem and that is when you actually look at what`s in the package, it`s all very, very popular stuff, including in their home states.

Take for instance what the bill would do on electric vehicles. Reporter David Roberts did a really good job of translating this from sort of energy wonk to English in his newsletter "Volts" this week, talking about how if the bill gets passed, here`s what you`d get in terms of buying an electric vehicle. If you buy an electric vehicle, you`d get a tax credit, you get a rebate essentially of $4,000. But it goes up from there if you were to buy that car before the year 2027, you`d get an extra three and a half thousand dollars on top of that. If it was an electric car made in the United States by a union auto shop, well, then your rebate would go up another four and a half thousand dollars on top of what you`re already getting.

And it keeps going like that until the tax credits available under this bill reach a grand total of $12,500 back. You could get $12,500 off the purchase price if you choose to buy an American-made electric car instead of a traditional gas engine vehicle. I mean, that sounds less like a dry piece of legislation and more like a car ad, right? Who doesn`t want to save $12,500 on their next car and also help the environment while doing it?

I mean, it`s very easy to get swept up in the will they, won`t they political narrative around this bill, and this week, that is all very dramatic will they, won`t they. But it`s also worth talking about what`s in the bill, not just because it`s popular and that should and will affect whether or not it gets passed, but also because if this thing is going to get passed, it`s important that it be right, that it be the best bang for the buck that we can get. I mean, this could be the biggest piece of climate legislation we`ve passed as a country ever. As such is it a collection of the right ideas? Would it make a dent? Is it moving us in the right direction?

Joining us now is Bill McKibben. He`s a climate expert. He`s one of the founders of the grassroots environmental group

Mr. McKibben, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being here.


MADDOW: I imagine that you are rooting for the reconciliation bill, the Build Back Better bill to pass because it seems like America`s biggest stab yet at doing something on climate. But what do you actually think substantively about the climate stuff that`s in it? Does it appeal to you?

MCKIBBEN: Yeah, absolutely. It`s a -- it`s not only our best stab, it would be really the first piece of serious legislation that the U.S. Congress has ever passed for that climate change, and the wonks who have looked through it with, you know, with great detail and they`re very good at this have said that the provisions in there, this clean electric pricing plan, the tax credits, the home electrification things, they`re enough to get us to that almost to that 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, that Joe Biden has promised, that the scientists have told us is the absolute minimum we could possibly hope for and that uh and it would give John Kerry importantly something to negotiate with when he goes off to this international climate conference in a month in Glasgow.

MADDOW: I know, Bill, that in addition to being an expert on climate, substantively, you`re also um a pretty distinguished expert in terms of how -- knowing how things get done on this and how the politics and how power works around these issues. Are the right people making the right arguments to help get this thing passed? If it would be as consequential as you are describing in terms of climate, it`s obviously a very, very high stakes decision this week for everybody for whom that`s a number one issue.

MCKIBBEN: Well, first of all, the process in and of itself is obviously crazy. And Senator Sinema and Manchin are just behaving in the most cruel fashion at this point, trying to play off one constituency against another. That`s not how this thing`s been fought. You know, the Sunrise Movement and the Dreamers and the nurses who are working on healthcare, they`ve all been rallying together to get this three and a half trillion dollar bill through. And to negotiate with people who won`t even tell you what their end in negotiating is, that Senator Manchin and Sinema, is crazy-making.


That said there`s been remarkable work done to get this bill in place and it`s been very powerful to watch the progressives in the House stand up and insist that it`s got to pass.

You know, bipartisan infrastructure build by itself doesn`t really do much. It`s mostly a series of giveaways to the fossil fuel industry. The only reason for doing it is so that you could have the chance of passing this actual really important climate bill.

We don`t know if it`s going to happen and we know that if it doesn`t happen, just as it didn`t in 2009 the last time Congress teed something like this up, then there`s likely to be no significant climate legislation ever in the period of time that scientifically relevant to dealing with the greatest crisis we ever faced.

Already, we`re miles behind. There was a study in science yesterday saying that children born this year would face seven times more weather disasters in their life than those of us like me who were born 60 years ago. So we`re already miles behind all we`re trying to do now is protect civilization from being just cut off at the knees and we`re down to our last innings.

MADDOW: Down to our last innings.

Bill McKibben, climate expert, one of the founders of -- Bill, thank you for joining us tonight. I know we are in the middle of the hurly- burley in terms of whether this thing is going to sort out in the end. Thanks for helping us understand the stakes.

MCKIBBEN: Thank you, Rachel. Take care.

MADDOW: I will tell you that in terms of Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, she is facing that pressure at home from the Arizona Democratic Party telling her that, you know, listen, if you don`t help pass this thing, if you don`t stop being an obstacle to passing this thing, we don`t know what to make of you as our senator, we`re going to pass a vote of no confidence. We`re not sure what else we can do.

You sense this real regret among Democrats in Arizona who worked so hard to get her that seat, feeling like now, they`re having to fight against her for even Democratic priorities that she says she agrees with.

I will tell you though that to the extent that Senator Sinema has been somewhat inscrutable on this issue, the one thing she`s been frequently saying she really cares about and really wants to get something done about is climate. She says that`s one of her biggest priorities, one of the main reasons she wants to be in the United States Senate, which makes it all the more difficult to imagine why she`s standing in the way -- she and Senator Manchin are the ones standing in the way in the Democratic Party of passing the only significant climate legislation we have in the hopper and the biggest shot we`ve had in a generation. Anyway, on our own terms.

Lots more to come tonight. Stay with us.



MADDOW: So this is interesting and this is a real change and this is something that probably deserves more attention than it`s getting. As recently as this summer, as recently as July, the percentage of white adult Americans who reported getting at least one shot of the COVID vaccine was 70 percent. That`s according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

Compare that number in July to black adults the number was just 65 percent, and for Hispanic adults. the number was just 61 percent. So this again, this is adults who said they`d gotten their first shot. As of July, whites, 70 percent, blacks, 65 percent, Hispanics, 61 percent.

Racial divide, that was in July. But now, look, take a look at a new poll just released today by Kaiser showing that that gap has basically closed and there`s a different gap now that explains what`s going on in the country with our vaccination rates. Look at the gap closing, as a baseline, the number of all American adults who report getting at least one shot now that number for all American adults is now percent.

But look at it by race, the numbers have really evened out the percentage of white adults who say they`ve gotten at least one shot is now 71 percent. Compare that now to black adults and Hispanic adults, those reporting at least one shot among black adults, 71 percent among Hispanic adults. So those are all really, really tight and Hispanic adults is actually the highest proportion.

This basically means that race is no longer a statistically significant factor in terms of looking at adults who have chosen to become vaccinated. There really isn`t a racial divide anymore.

But there is another factor that sticks out like a skyscraper. Take a look at this, as I said 72 percent of American adults have had at least one shot that`s our baseline here. But in blue there, that`s the number of Democrats who say they`ve gotten at least one shot, that`s 90 percent. Now, look at Republicans who say they`ve gotten at least one shot. That is that 58 percent.

That is the gaping divide now. That is the difference now. That is where we are as a country, how do we defeat that challenge?

Joining us now is Liz Hamel. She`s vice president and director of public opinion and survey research for the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Ms. Hamill, I appreciate you being here tonight. Thank you.


MADDOW: Let me ask you about the significance of these findings, and the change over time. To me, it feels like positive news for the country, positive news for public health to see the racial divide shrink. It wasn`t a gigantic divide as recently as July, but it was larger than it is today. In fact, in statistically significant terms, have those numbers tightened up meaningfully?

HAMEL: Yes. In our surveys, they have, and even if we go back further than July, we go back to April and May earlier on, in the vaccination effort, what we found in our surveys is that many black and Hispanic adults were telling us they weren`t yet ready to make a decision about getting the vaccine.


They had questions and concerns, both related to side effects but also to access to the vaccine or time off of work. And we have found that that gap that used to exist between black and Hispanic Americans and white Americans in terms of vaccination has closed in our surveys.

MADDOW: In terms of the divide that remains with political party affiliation, is there anything in your survey data that indicates other than calling yourself a Democrat or Republican what might be driving those decisions? You just spoke about the kinds of concerns that were driving what we`d previously seen as a racial gap. Are there any other subtleties about why Republicans are so much more reluctant to get vaccinated that your surveyors and your poll is able to figure out?

HAMEL: Yeah, well, you know it`s not a new thing that we see these big partisan divides in how people think about the vaccine and it really reflects a lot of other attitudes towards the pandemic in general that divide along partisan lines. I think one of the big ones in terms of understanding attitudes towards the vaccine is the fact that Republicans are much more likely to feel like the seriousness of the pandemic has been exaggerated by the news media and they`re much less likely to be personally worried about getting sick as opposed to Democrats who are more likely to feel like the seriousness is being appropriately reported and they`re more worried about themselves and their family members getting sick.

MADDOW: One of the things that we have seen in terms of policy interventions that`s been -- at least to my untrained eyes -- sort of shockingly effective are these vaccine requirements. And I`m saying that they seem to have been shockingly effective mostly on self-reported results from the entities that are putting in place these new rules. For example, United Airlines reported last week that once they announced that they were going to require vaccination for their employees, 97 percent of their U.S.- based workforce is now vaccinated. Today, with the vaccine requirement for New York health workers going into effect, today, the percentage of New York healthcare workers who`ve gotten a dose of the vaccine is up to 92 percent.

It does feel like employment-based vaccine requirements at least anecdotally are showing themselves to be very effective in terms of raising vaccination numbers. Is there anything that the survey data tells us in terms of what to expect and how that may interact with this big partisan divide in terms of Republicans not believing the seriousness that underlies those requirements in the first place?

HAMEL: Yeah. We did ask people how they feel about these employer requirements and you know, not surprisingly, they`re not very popular among unvaccinated people. And if we ask unvaccinated people what would you do if your employer required you to get a vaccine, about three in say they`d be likely to get it but if you instead give them the option to say what if you had to get a vaccine or be tested weekly, over half say they take the weekly testing options.

So I think whether -- you know, how successful the mandates are in increasing vaccination rates might have to do with how employers roll them out.

MADDOW: Right, exactly.

Liz Hamel, vice president director of public opinion survey research for Kaiser Family Foundation, thank you and your colleagues for taking time to put this out in such a way that it is digestible and understandable by a lay audience. And thanks for helping us understand it here tonight.

HAMEL: Great. Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: It is important to understand these dynamics. I will say that one of the things that caught my eye today in terms of vaccine requirements is that the Vatican is now putting in place a vaccine requirement. As a Catholic, it has been interesting for me just personally watching people trying to say that there`s they should get a religious exemption from the vaccine because they`re Catholic. Well, not only is Pope Francis vaccinated, he`s now as of tonight instituting a vaccine requirement for anybody who works in the Vatican, and will start docking pay for Vatican officials who don`t go along with it. Which I think is going to complicate the effort to try to make that a religious exemption to vaccination in this country but we shall see.

I`ve got more head tonight. Stay with us.



MADDOW: All right. Here is a story that I swear has given me a rash every time we cover this story and we cover the fact that this is still going on as a story. I get like a new itch. I get hives. But this is a real thing. Still happening.

We are now more than eight months into the Biden administration and you know who is still running a major federal agency we all count on in this country? This guy. His name is Louis DeJoy. And somewhat unbelievably, he is still postmaster general of the United States.

He was appointed to that job last year during the Trump administration. He has zero postal service experience, but lots of experience running companies that compete with the post office and therefore wish the post office to be worse at what it does. He also has lots of experience shoveling huge amounts of money to Republican candidates including then President Trump.

As you say recall, as soon as Mr. DeJoy took this post, he said about deliberately slowing down and screwing up mail delivery in this country. You might remember some of his greatest hits like destroying 10 percent of the Postal Service`s custom made multimillion dollar mail sorting machines, just as the postal service was preparing to handle millions of time sensitive mail-in ballots for the presidential election.

But you know, during the time he`s been in charge, his own former company has done well and he`s done well personally. Under Louis DeJoy`s leadership, the U.S. Postal Service ramped up its business with a logistics company that Louis DeJoy used to run. It`s a company that continues to pay him millions of dollars in his ongoing investments and contracts with him.


So the Postal Service is going more business with the company that pays him what it does well. He`s running the Postal Service. Oh. And to top it all off, he is currently right now under FBI investigation for an alleged brazen illegal campaign donation scheme. Former employees of Mr. DeJoy describe to "The Washington Post" an almost comically blatant operation in which DeJoy allegedly pressured his employees to make donations to Republican candidates of his choosing and he would reimburse those employees with their, quote, donations. That`s called a straw donors scheme, and that is very much against the law.

How can this guy still be running the postal service? It is true President Biden cannot hire him directly. He technically reports to a Postal Office Board of Directors, many of whom are also holdovers from the Trump administration. The chair of that board who has backed Louis DeJoy, and all of his plans to make the postal service worse, the chair is the head of an investment firm from which Louis DeJoy purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bonds, since he`s had the postmaster generals job, which is nice.

I mean, how is this tenable that he is still postmaster general? Which means more of his big plans for ruining the mail going into effect. "USA Today" that as of the end of this week, U.S. mail service will be becoming even slower and more expensive in a way that`s designed to be permanent. Under the latest changes, 40 percent of first class mail will be affected.

A spokesperson for the Postal Service says these changes, quote, will improve service reliability and predictability. As in your mail will be reliably and predictably slower and more expensive for no reason other than the fact that Louis DeJoy is still breaking the post office because he is still in that job. How long will we remain stuck with this guy?

Watch this space.


MADDOW: All right. That`s going to do it for us tonight. I will see you again this time tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.