President Joe Biden signed executive order mandating vaccines for federal workers and contractors. Justice Department sues Texas over restrictive abortion law. Interview with California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, chair of the Administrative Committee.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Much appreciated it.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
You start in the summer of 1964. You go through the summer of 1965, and you get to the whole shocking climax of the thing by the summer of 1966.
It was a short period of time. It was world shaking stuff, but it happened fast and definitively and it all spooled out over the course of those two years -- `64 to `66. Start in the summer of `64.
July 2nd, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act. He signs the Civil Rights Act in 1964 into law. That`s the Civil Rights Act that had been filibustered by segregationists for 54 straight days.
But in the end, their efforts to stop it failed. LBJ signed it. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, of course, banned segregation in public facilities. Also in private facilities to which the public had access.
The segregationists at the time screamed bloody murder. It`s unconstitutional. You can`t tell private entities what to do. Actually, yes, yes you can.
In the summer of 1964, President Johnson made that law of the land. Then the following summer, July 1965, LBJ actually went out on the road this time for an unusual signing ceremony. He went to Missouri to President Truman`s presidential library in Independence, Missouri, to sign into law the bill that created Medicare and Medicaid.
He went to Truman`s Presidential Library because it was Truman who had first proposed that the U.S. government should commit to providing health coverage to all the elderly people in the country. Truman couldn`t get it done, while he was president, but in 1965, LBJ got it done. He signed the bill creating Medicare in July 1965.
And, of course, the conservatives at the time screamed bloody murder. A high profile conservative activist at the time named Ronald Reagan denounced this new program, this Medicare program as the end of America, as the end of freedom. It would mean a communist takeover of America. Be very, very afraid.
LBJ was not afraid, and it turns out, giving health insurance coverage to all the old people in the country doesn`t turn us into Russia or China. We`re still America. We`re just an America where old people get to see the doctor and get their prescriptions. Turns out it`s not the end of freedom.
At the time what the Johnson administration was actually most worried about, what serious critics and not just demagogues were worried about, was that there would be a flood of new patients into America`s hospitals because old people who couldn`t previously afford to see a doctor, now they would have health insurance coverage, they would be able to see a doctor. There were worries this new tide, this new flood of elderly patients suddenly accessing health services would swamp the nation`s hospitals.
That was the sort of substantive concern about the implementation of Medicare, and in the end that fear didn`t really materialize either, but the worry that it might and the worry about all the other things it would take to implement that big new change made LBJ and the Johnson administration build in a bit of lead time before the program actually started. So as I said, LBJ signed the Medicare bill in July 1965 but gave the country until July 1966 before Medicare would actually go into effect. So he basically gave the country, gave his administration a year to get it rolled out, right? We`ve got a year. Ready, steady, go.
Funny thing, though -- more than halfway through that yearlong wind-up, more than halfway through that yearlong on-ramp that LBJ had given himself to get implemented, nine months into that year that he had given the administration and the country to prepare for it, the Johnson administration suddenly realized what that Johnson signed into law in 1965, the Medicare bill, and what Johnson signed into law in 1964, the civil rights bill, they had something important to say to each other, which was maybe going to be a big problem in terms of implementing Medicare. Thanks to Medicare, every single old person in America was about to start having their medical bills paid for by this new federal program. Medicare was about to start a huge, huge new stream of federal government funding into hospitals all over the country.
But at that time all over the south, hospitals scoffed at the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Hospitals considered themselves immune from that kind of federal government meddling and hospitals all over the south were absolutely positively rigidly segregated. There were literally thousands of whites only hospitals across the south. And the Johnson administration came to this revelation during that year they had given themselves to roll out Medicare.
He signed it in the July 1965. It was due to go into effect in July 1966. But in March 1966, just four months before Medicare is due to start, due to go into practice, the Johnson administration sent out a polite but firm letter to hospitals throughout the country making clear to them that if they wanted to participate in this new Medicare program, if they wanted to qualify to get any money under this huge new program, ensuring every old person in America they could not discriminate on the basis of race at their facilities.
Now, that`s not going to be a problem, right? Everybody, that`s not going to be a big dealing right? No issue? The letter went out in March 1966. The program was supposed to be implemented July 1st that same year. By may 1966, "the New York Times" was reporting on its front page on an emergency meeting that had been convened by the Johnson administration, convened at the White House, to get the hospitals to move it, or to prepare for the consequences if they did not.
This is from "the New York Times" may 24, 1966. Quote, top official of state hospital associations in 20 states were called in today for an emergency conference down the hall from Health Secretary John Gardner`s office. Although the meeting was closed H.E. Hamilton, president of the Louisiana hospitals association told reporters what the greatest problem is. He said, quote, it`s the requirement that Negros and whites be permitted to share the same hospital room, he said.
I don`t know what hospitals will do, but I see some of them don`t see how they could comply with that. You know what? Turns out they could comply with that.
That was late May 1966. By the following month, June 1966, "The New York Times" was still estimating that 2,000 whites only hospitals in the American south wouldn`t be compliant with the civil rights law and so they wouldn`t be certified to participate in the Medicare program. But by the month after that, by July, when Medicare went into effect, those hospitals had dug deep and found it within themselves to start complying with the Civil Rights Act after all.
Around the 50th anniversary of Medicare in 2015, there was some renewed attention to that quiet but definitive way President Johnson and his Health Secretary John Gardner desegregated American hospitals overnight. There were headline like this one in "The Washington Post", the massive role that Medicare played in racial integration. This one in "U.S. News", desegregation, the hidden legacy of Medicare. I only point out the news coverage from 2015 just so to the say that you didn`t have to be there yourself in 1964, 1965, 1966 to see this happen firsthand. This isn`t a secret history nobody knows about.
This is what we did as a country in our modern history. But you`d never know it from the born-yesterday commentary in response to President Biden`s actions today. Today, President Biden announced a muscular new approach by the federal government to contend with the delta variant of the coronavirus, to try to finally wrench this pandemic to the ground and defeat it.
The immediate chorus from Republican governors and members of Congress and right wing commentators all over the country was, he can`t do that. He can`t tell private entities what to do. Really? Why does your car have a seat belt? Maybe the company that made your car, that private entity, didn`t want to put in seat belts. But nevertheless, your car has a seat belt. Why is that?
Why is the ground beef you bought for dinner tonight government inspected? Meat producers do, in the private sector, have every incentive to only produce meat that people like and doesn`t make anybody sick, right? We don`t need the government sticking its nose in and telling you that`s actually cow you`re eating and not road kill. Why is there government inspection of that privately produced product?
This is a link and pin coupling system. This used to be the industry standard for how you linked railway cars together.
And for whatever reason, this is what railroad companies liked. This is what they built for their cars. Even though brakemen not infrequently got their fingers ripped and their hands ripped off while they were trying to operate the stupid system to tying rail cars together. The companies liked it. This is what they used. This is what they had been using for decades. Why change? It would be expensive to have to do it another way.
Until 1893 when the federal government banned those types of couplings and forced railroad companies to use something that wouldn`t rip the hands off their employees of that was 1893, the Safety Appliance Act.
Today, President Biden announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Association, OSHA, part of the Labor Department, will issue new rules for employers in the United States that have 100 or more employees. The rule will say employees have to be vaccinate against COVID-19 or if they`re not they have to face mandatory COVID testing every week on the job.
And when President Biden announced that today, it was a plain chant one- note chorus from Republican politicians from cost to coast. President Biden can`t do that. Only a dictator could tell companies to do something like that.
Behold, President Richard Nixon. In December 1975, signing into law the creation of the agency that was built and established in this country to do exactly that, to do exactly what President Biden is employing it to do as of tonight.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: We see a bill that represents in its culmination the American system at its best -- Democrats, Republicans, the house, the senate, the whiteouts house, business, labor, all cooperating in a common goal -- the saving of lives, the avoiding of injuries, making the places of work for 55 million Americans safer and more pleasant places. This is certainly a great goal.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Biden today is in fact putting the muscle of the federal government and his authority as president behind trying to make our national offense against COVID more intense, more thorough, more rational, less porous, less helter-skelter and regionally divided.
Yes, he`s using the huge leverage of Medicare and Medicaid funding to tell health-care providers, if you get Medicare and Medicaid funding as your hospital, your facility, your staff must be vaccinated.
The chorus on the right was instant -- oh, that`s controversial! The commentary on the press on this -- that`s a very controversial thing to do. Some staff won`t want to be vaccinated.
Yes, that`s true. You think that`s less of a reach than LBJ using Medicare to forcibly desegregate 2,000 whites-only hospitals in the south overnight? Do you think this is an unprecedented thing President Biden is doing?
That hospitals and health facilities order, that staff have to be vaccinated, that builds on what he already ordered several months ago in terms of nursing home staff. Nursing homes that get federal funding and, they basically all do, the condition is nursing home staff have to be vaccinated. This is an extension of that to apply to hospitals and health facilities.
President Biden is also using his authority over the federal work force to require vaccinations among federal workers and among federal contractors.
But, but, but, he can`t tell federal contractors how to do business. Yes, he can. Yes, he can.
The same way he`s requiring federal contractors to pay a $15 an hour minimum wage. This is not a new dictatorial power he`s assuming. This is how the government works. Wake up.
And yes, he`s using OSHA to require large private employers to vaccinate employees or test them. Educational institutions that he has direct authority over, like schools operated by the Defense Department, Head Start programs, early Head Start programs, he`s using his authority to ensure teachers and staff at those programs will have to be vaccinated, too. That said, for the vast majority of schools, the president doesn`t have to authority to directly order something like that. In those cases he`s recognizing the limits of his authorities and instead calling on states to put similar rules in place -- get school staff vaccinated to protect kids.
He`s calling on states to put those rules in place everywhere, even as he`s calling out the red state governors and other elect officials who are trying to build their political futures on blocking the COVID response at all costs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Despite America having unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months, free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot, and to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19. Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they`re ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from COVID in their communities. This is totally unacceptable.
The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing. Nearly three- quarters of the eligible have gotten at least one shot. But one quarter has not gotten any. That`s nearly 80 million Americans not vaccinated, in a country as large as ours, that`s 25 percent minority. That 25 percent can cause a lot of damage, and they are.
The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals, overrunning emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack or cancer.
My message to unvaccinated Americans is this -- what more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? We`ve made vaccinations free, safe, and convenient. The vaccine has FDA approval.
Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We have been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us, so please do the right thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We have been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. Your refusal has cost all of us.
Elsewhere in his remarks today, the president said, what makes this incredibly frustrating is we have the tools to combat COVID-19, but a distinct minority of Americans supported by a distinct minority of officials are keeping us from turning the corner. These pandemic politics are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die. We can`t allow these actions to stand in the way of the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life at normal.
President Biden today basically hitting the reset button. A new no-holds- barred approach to get our country to the vaccination rates we need to stop overfilling our hospitals, to stop 1,500 Americans dying each and every day, to get transmission down to the point where we can some day see the end of this thing and we can stop deploying active duty military teams to rural hospitals around the country to bolster their staff that is falling by the wayside in exhaustion and despair.
And the reaction on the right today and tonight and in much of the beltway press is, oh, presidents can`t do stuff like this -- that is a born yesterday canard, an ahistorical, deliberate, head in the sand canard about which President Johnson, President Nixon, President Roosevelt, who was it who signed the Lincoln railway coupling ban? President Harrison -- would like to have a word with anybody screaming today that president Biden doesn`t lead a federal government with these type of authorities. These are absolutely the authorities of the federal government. His choice is he`s going to use them to try to save lives and get us past that pandemic that is otherwise just not quitting.
The more substantive question here is not about, you know, whether this represents us becoming communists like Reagan said about Medicare, right? People are going to talk about this to whatever political advantage that he want to try to turn it to. The real substantive question is, how is this all going to work, and is this in fact a path to end the pandemic?
Joining us now is Dr. David Kessler. He`s the co-chair of President Biden`s COVID advisory board. He`s former FDA commissioner. Dr. Kessler, it is an honor to have you with us tonight. Thanks you so much for being here.
DR. DAVID KESSLER, CO-CHAIR, PRESIDENT BIDEN`S COVID-19 ADVISORY BOARD: It`s my pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: The president today talked explicitly about how science needs to lead. They gave the American people assurances for example, on the question of booster shots and the approval of vaccinations for kids under the age of 12, he gave the public assurances today that science will lead, that the doctors will make data base decisions and that will set government policy.
As a senior scientist advising the president, are you in favor of the approach that President Biden laid out today, and do you believe it is enough to put us in a materially different position to ending the pandemic?
KESSLER: I do, Rachel, and what the president announced today, this meets the moment. This is an unprecedented pandemic. The president has led today.
I`m a doc, pediatrician. I`ve listened to what he said. We have been patient, 75 percent of adults have rolled up their sleeves. They have done the right thing, but we have 80 million who have not.
The president is taking these steps to ensure that more people get vaccinated. It`s about one thing and one thing only -- saving lives.
MADDOW: The president had previously announced other approaches to vaccination using his leverage over the federal work force. He talked about encouraging vaccination among the federal work force by requiring vaccination or allowing people to test out of it.
Now he`s saying federal workers and indeed employee of federal contractors will have to be vaccinated. Was anything learned from the previous order in terms of how to implement that sort of thing well?
I mean, it`s a vast federal work force, but it does seem like it was on again off again from agency to agency and sub work force to sub work force in whether or not the previous role was effective.
KESSLER: We now know that mandates work. We have seen the impact they have across businesses, universities, and hospitals. Every institution that has implemented mandates have seen their vaccination rates increase. They work. That`s why the president did what he did today.
MADDOW: Is that also true in terms of nursing home staff? I mentioned that the president had previously used his leverage over federal funding for nursing home facilities to require nursing homes, essentially to get all of their staff vaccinated. As we`ve talked about before, unvaccinated staff ended up being the lynch pin to explaining so many of the deadly and tragic outbreaks in congregate care and elderly care facilities like nursing homes.
Did the previous mandate he announced about nursing homes also create a meaningful uptick in the amount of staffing for those facilities, that is vaccinating?
KESSLER: You certainly see increases over time. Nursing homes, you saw previous steps with veterans administration. You saw it with federal workforce. In some ways this is just an arc.
No doubt that we are upping the ante, but the stakes are very high.
MADDOW: The other thing that the president talked about today, which is something I feel like has fallen out of the national discussion is testing. He said that he will use the Defense Production Act to increase the supply of rapid at-home tests and make them more affordable. He said places like Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger will begin to supply them at cost as soon as next week.
Can you talk from a scientific perspective about how testing fits into this muscular new approach? How Americans in our private lives, particularly if we have access to tests we can buy ourselves at an affordable rate, how we should think about testing in our lives now moving forward?
KESSLER: I can talk just personally -- I mean, as a pediatrician, as a grandfather, I get a phone call, it`s 9:00 at night. My grandchild has a fever, has some symptoms. You know, kids get runny noses, fevers always all the time, but you want to know. You want to know whether this is COVID, because there are things you can do.
And the fact is, having at-home tests -- especially -- I mean, this is a big deal getting a real discount by these companies that you can order these in-home tests. You want to have an in-home test. You run it, and you can know in 15, 30 minutes whether this is COVID or this is just a typical cold.
It`s very important. We have to give people the tools, especially when it comes to our kids. You know, we have to create environments that protect them. Most important thing to protect them is having communities that are vaccinated, families that are vaccinated. These tests can make a real difference in people`s lives, in families` lives.
MADDOW: Dr. Kessler, one of the other reasons that testing is so important, and you and I talked about this. I think you and I had one of the earliest televised conversations on this topic since the start of the pandemic. But if you do know that you have COVID early enough, if you can catch it before you become seriously ill enough that you need to be hospitalized, you do have a treatment option that you don`t have if you wait until you get sicker, later on in the course of the disease, and that is these monoclonal antibody treatments.
And you and I talk months ago about how effective they are, about how difficult it`s been to ensure a lot of uptake. People, again, need to take those treatments before they`re too terribly sick.
The president today talked about increasing the pace of monoclonal antibody shipments across the country, upping by 50 percent. We`ve seen demand for these treatments go way up over the summer. How do you think that part of the pandemic response is going, and how hopeful do you feel about those treatments?
KESSLER: I`m very hopeful about those treatment treatments. Those treatments work. The fact is, on July 1st, we`re shipping 10,000 of these regimens a week. We increased that dramatically to over 100,000, and we`re committed to sending out 150,000 a week.
So, a big uptake. Obviously the downside of that is delta is requiring us to use more. We want to get that curve down. But if you test positive and you are at risk for hospitalization, if you are at high risk, you should get monoclonal antibodies.
MADDOW: Dr. David Kessler, co-chair of President Biden`s COVID advisory board, former FDA commissioner -- sir, thank you for your time and as always for your clarity tonight. It`s an honor to have this time with you.
KESSLER: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: In 2010, the state of Arizona passed into law the most aggressive anti-immigrant legislation that at that point can pass anywhere in the country. You may remember it as the "show me your papers" law. One of its requirements is that it made law enforcement officials in the Arizona ask for proof of legal immigration status from anyone they suspected might be an undocumented immigrant regardless of why they expected it.
The show me your papers provision was just one piece of a sweeping radical anti immigrant bill in Arizona that. That law made it a crime to be undocumented in Arizona. A criminalize providing shelter to an undocumented immigrant.
In 2010, three weeks before that law was due to go into effect, the U.S. Justice Department under President Obama sued Arizona over that proposed law, they argue Arizona was trying to do there conflicted with existing federal law around immigration, they contended that Arizona did not have the right to effectively undo federal law with its own actions at the state level. That was the legal approach they took in tackling that Arizona bill.
Ultimately, for the most part anyway, the Supreme Court agreed. In 2012, the Supreme Court struck down most of that radical immigration law in Arizona and they struck it down on the grounds that they undermines existing federal law.
Well, now, today, that would appear to be the relevant legal history we all need to remember to understands the huge news, that the Biden Justice Department announced this afternoon, because they are apparently going to run that same play again. Today, the Justice Department under Attorney General Merrick Garland, they sued Texas over the Texas`s new law that essentially bans abortion, in their lawsuit, DOJ accuses Texas of passing its abortion ban, quote, in open defiance of the Constitution.
The Constitution, under current president protects a woman`s right to get it abortion no matter what state she lives in. Their argument here is a direct echo of the same argument the DOJ used in 2010, to great effect that Arizona case, that argument, that legal protections, trying to federally force all by the U.S. Constitution, under state law that tries to get around those protections.
Because the Texas abortion ban ignores those federal constitutional protections, Merrick Garland and the Biden Justice Department now say the court should strike down the Texas banned altogether. That is the type of argument they`ve decided to take. That argument did succeed once in the Supreme Court. In blocking parts of that nightmarish Arizona immigration law.
Could it work here to? Is this the right approach to take to try to on ban abortion in the state of Texas?
Joining us now is our friend Barbara McQuade. She`s a former U.S. attorney. She first tipped us off to this parallel history, and we`ve been researching it and looking into every since.
Barb, thank you for being here. Thanks for your help thinking about this, this afternoon.
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, you bet. My pleasure.
I saw this case it was really excited to see. It because regardless of the way this case comes out on the merits, this at least is a victory for the rule of law, because now the Justice Department can get this statute before a federal judge.
MADDOW: So, that`s the important thing. And I think not a lot of lawyers don`t appreciate here, is that part of the way that Texas was able to sneak its abortion ban into law, despite Roe v. Wade, supposedly protecting any state from banning abortion, is they created a scheme. In their law, that effectively prevented any sort of obvious approach to a lawsuit. Who would be sued? Who would have standing to sue them? On what grounds should the federal courts take that on? That was the way that the Supreme Court justice got the law to stand. This takes on that problem directly.
MCQUADE: Yes. I think over the past several days, that you`ve seen probably many legal analysts, including me sort of scratching our head saying, man how did they get this case before the court? In fact, the legal director, for Right to Life of Texas said, that this law was written deliberately to stymie judicial review, and so really the only one actor that can do anything about this. The one entity that has the power to sue a state is the Justice Department.
So, you know, Merrick Garland says hold my beer and he`s filed this lawsuit today. will -- many people have been frustrated with some of his inaction overtime. But this is a big action, and this will -- as we said, at least tee up this case before a court.
With this makeup of the court might do to that long-standing precedent of Roe versus Wade on the merits is a different question. But at the very least, we can proceed, and I think it`s very likely we might even say a state injunction that will put this law kind of on the backburner, until it can be briefed and argued in court, and get at least get some temporary relief for abortion seekers in those who provide it in Texas.
MADDOW: That`s the next part of this that I was going to ask you about. Obviously the Supreme Court has looming on its docket, that Mississippi case, where by the conservative majority on the, court appears to be ready, to overturn Roe versus Wade on the merits, but that would likely be a decision that would be getting maybe next summer, in terms of the courts term. The issue with this Texas ban is they`ve allowed it to go into effect, since last week.
And so, abortion is already effectively banned in Texas. The type of relief that attorney general garland in the Justice Department are asking for, here with a, the kind of stay there asking, for that kind of pace they like the courts to look at this in, do you think this is something that could provide immediate relief? How quickly might the Texas lobby put on hold? And effectively reinstate abortion rights in Texas?
MCQUADE: I think it could happen very quickly. One of the things the Justice Department did here is take advantage of a local rule that allows courts to, parties to identify cases as companion cases, to a prior case. So what they did here, is made this a companion case. To the case the original challenge to this Texas statute. It was signed to Judge Robert Pittman. I know Robert Pittman, he was a lawyer in the Justice Department. He was a former U.S. attorney. It is now a federal judge.
He had put that on a fast track, when that lawsuit was filed in July. You may recall, he scheduled a hearing for the last days of August, to make a decision on this case. So he could decide whether to grant injunctive relief, when the Fifth Circuit swooped in, and put his stay on his decision, allowing the law to go forward.
And so, I think now the ball is back in the court of Judge Pittman, he will look at this and decide appropriately I think. Because there is contrary case law, it`s very clear, there`s a strong likelihood of success on the merits, and also a strong likelihood of irreparable harm, for that reason, regardless of how this case comes out of the merits, I think it will be the stay, I think it will be done very quickly, and I think it will restore abortion lights to people of Texas, at least until the Supreme Court can decide the case this term.
MADDOW: Again, making the important point, Judge Pittman could make that decision basically very quickly, now that these initial filings are in.
Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney, Barb, it`s great to see you. Thank you for helping us understand.
MCQUADE: Thank you, Rachel. My pleasure.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Immediately after the mob attack, on our nation`s Capitol on January 6th, the Capitol got fenced off from the outside world. And it remains over a full six months. I had to go to D.C. and go into the Capitol once, during that period of time for an interview. It felt like a fortress. It felt like getting in or out of a military base in a conflict zone.
The fence went up in January, finally came down in July. But yesterday, there was first to report, that the fencing is about to go back up. And that is because Trump supporters are planning to rally at the Capitol, nine days from now, next Saturday, in a rally that is being held explicitly in support of the people who attacked the Capitol the first time on January 6.
The organizers say it will be a peaceful demonstration. But given how their last rally at the Capitol when in January, there`s obviously plenty of concern.
Speaker Pelosi, the Senate Leaders Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell, the lead Republican in the House, Kevin McCarthy, they are all reportedly going to be briefed about security surrounding the rally on Monday. The rank and file police officers will be in charge of securing the Capitol that day. They have all had the leave canceled for that day. They will get their security briefing tomorrow.
But there`s at least one meter we know of, who has already been briefed on the security preparations for that event. That`s because she has a key role here. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is the chair of the Administration Committee in Congress, which sounds like a bureaucratic thing. The technical thing you need to know about that committee in this instance is that it oversees House security. And as such, as chairman of that committee, chairwoman of that committee, she was briefed yesterday by the Capitol police chief.
Congressman Zoe Lofgren also sits on the House committee that`s investigating the January 6th attack. Last month, the committee sent document requests to eight different government agencies, including the National Archives. As well as 35 different social media and telecom companies, asking for records, related to the January 6th attack. The deadline for those requests, deadline for response to those requests was actually today.
So, what if anything to the committee received? And what should we know about the preparations for this next Trump supporter rally at the Capitol, that among other things that`s causing the dreaded fans to go backup.
Joining us now is California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. She is chair of the Administrative Committee. She`s a member of the Select Committee.
Congressman Lofgren, it`s a pleasure to have you here with us tonight. Thank you so much for taking time.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: What should the American people understand about the preparations for that rally next weekend? Obviously it`s better to be safe than sorry, it`s better to prepare for something to be worse than it ultimately ends up being?
But how are you thinking about it and how confident are you in the preparations?
LORGREN: Well, I got briefed, as you mentioned, and we have new leadership in the Capitol police as well as the House sergeant at arms. They had a lot of questions and clearly there is a better plan, more organization for this event than was the case in January. We may get a little more information in the next day or two. As you mentioned, the speaker and the minority leader will be getting information as well.
Now, it is a Saturday. House will not be in session, so others that difference. There is some chatter out in the Internet, some people promising violence. To me, it is astonishing that people who attacked the Capitol Police. We saw the video, just brutal attacks name some of these officers, trying to kill Mike Pence and members of Congress. And some people are calling these people political prisoners? I mean, come on.
So this is a weird view of what is going on. But we hope to be very prepared and the security preparations are made by the professionals, not my by my committee but I wanted to be fully briefed.
MADDOW: Obviously, there is a through line between the January 6th attack and this forthcoming event next weekend. Literally, that event is being held to celebrate the people who attacked the Capitol and to lionize them, as you described. By that comes as your investigation, the select committee investigation of January 6th is really hitting a crucial phase.
What can you tell us about the requests from information that have been out for the committee? I know today was the deadline to receive a lot of information from government and companies, records related to that attack.
LOFGREN: Well, I talked to the staff a few hours ago. And quite a bit of information has come in. And it is still coming in. The deadline extends to, I think, midnight tonight. So I can`t really tell you what has come in except that there is a great amount of material.
And we will be learning more tomorrow about what`s in it. And the staff may have an announcement, later this evening. I don`t know for sure. But it is clear that agencies responded.
MADDOW: The House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, had a striking response to the request to top telecom companies in particular, asking them to retain records, including records related to members of Congress who participated in the rally that participated preceded the attack on the Capitol. He basically threatened the companies, saying that if they complied with these requests, they would lose their ability to operate in the United States. And when Republicans were in the majority they would not forget companies that comply with this request for information.
I have to ask what you make of that. I think anybody else telling companies not to respond to congressional inquiries would be considered attempting to tamper with that investigation. I don`t know if that designation applies to the Republican leader here. But I want to get your reaction to that.
LOFGREN: I was astonished, frankly, by his statements. Number one, there is no basis in law for it. Number two, as you point out, eighties a felony to obstruct a congressional investigation, 1505 of the 18 USC. Now, whether he has a defense or not, I don`t know. Sometimes there is a speech or debate clause by the doesn`t protect against criminal activity.
The real point is, what is he hiding? What is he trying to keep the proof from coming out? I think the leaders of our country, and Kevin is one of them, should be stepping forward and trying to get to the bottom of everything that led up to January 6th. People who are not doing that are a mystery to me, unless they have participated.
I don`t know. I can`t imagine what his reason for that is, if there is a benign reason for these statements.
MADDOW: California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, chair of the House Administration Committee, member of the January 6th Select Committee -- Congresswoman Lofgren, it`s nice to have you here with us, thanks for helping us understand.
LOFGREN: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I`m not sure if we should have seen this coming, I certainly didn`t see this coming. But look, this plane, you are going to see on your screen right here, this is a Qatar Airways Boeing 777. That is the first passenger flight to depart from the main airport in Afghanistan, the Kabul airport, since U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan last month.
The scene at Kabul airport was markedly different from what we saw just weeks ago. Instead of U.S. Marines, we had Taliban fighters patrolling the runways, the Taliban white flags on the flagpoles. Despite the fact that U.S. forces are in control there, and the Taliban clearly are, today, 113 people, including Americans, Canadians, Brits, Germans, Ukrainians all left on that Qatar Airways Boeing 777. The flight flew out of Kabul and landed in Doha in Qatar.
More flights out, the fight to get out again have started.
Maybe not just this one, maybe more to come.
In a statement today, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said today that today`s flight was the result, quote, of the department`s regular and close engagement with regional partners, particularly with Qatari authorities.
Qatari and Taliban officials said today that another flight is expected to take off tomorrow. The Taliban is expected to let it go.
For its part, the Biden administration says it will not divulge details about any upcoming flights due to what they call the ongoing terrorist threat to such operations. Clearly, it is still a very fluid situation there. But by all appearances, the evacuation flights from Kabul appear to be back on, as of today. With the likelihood that more flights will continue, at least tomorrow and maybe beyond then. And that is something.
More ahead, stay with us.
MADDOW: All right. That is going to do it for us on this fine Friday eve. Tomorrow is Friday. So, today is Friday eve. Nobody can take that away from us.
But I will see you back here tomorrow night.
Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD". Ali Velshi in for Lawrence tonight.
Good evening, Ali.