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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, October 1, 2020

Guests: Dana Nessel, Malcolm Kenyatta


Conservative political operatives charged by Michigan attorney general in connection with robocalls aimed at suppressing the vote. Pennsylvania Republicans seek power to investigate the November vote. Trump aide Hope Hicks tested positive for coronavirus.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": That is "ALL IN" on this Thursday night.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I have two things to say to you, Chris.

HAYES: Please.

MADDOW: Number one, is that your show tonight was fantastic. Literally every segment was the best thing I saw on TV or heard on the news every day today.

HAYES: Thank you.

MADDOW: I don't know if you just like had your Wheaties or what. It was great.

Second thing, what time do David and Ryan go to bed? Are they already in bed?

HAYES: They may be or may not. I am somewhat embarrassed to say this, those are my two oldest children, they go to bed really late. So, they may very well still be up. I don't know if they're watching, I hope they're doing something else, but they might be.

MADDOW: I just want to say, I don't do this very often. If they are awake, it's not worth walking them up for, but if they are awake, it is totally, totally worth taking them outside and making them look at the moon tonight.


MADDOW: The moon is like one of those weird, full moon things where it's like a Klieg light. You don't -- you can drive without headlights tonight. It is so bright, they should absolutely see it. You should blow them away. You should tell them that you made it.

HAYES: All right. I'm going to -- I'm going to, well, I'm going to try to get home as fast as I can, see if I can make that happen. Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. Thanks, my friend.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. You too should take a second to look at the moon tonight. It is one of those things.

All right. WWJ Radio in Detroit has been on the air for literally a century. It's like the godfather of commercial radio in the United States of America. WWJ has been broadcasting in Detroit with a gigantic 50,000 watt signal since August of 1920, 100 years.

And this summer, right as they hit the centennial mark of 100 years on the air in August of this year, 2020, they got a tip from a listener. WWJ reporter, Sandra McNeill, took on the story, and it turned out to be one of those things that started small and weird and seemingly very local. But it has since blown up into something that is not at all small, and it turns out it is not just local. It has stayed weird all along, but it's a remarkable thing and it came to a remarkable conclusion tonight.

The story that WWJ got based on this tip from a listener this summer is that starting in August, people in Detroit who were registered voters. Detroit is majority Democrat city, it's nearly 80 percent African-Americans, registered voters this summer in destroy who had phone numbers in the 313 area code, they started getting calls that kind of seems like crimes.

And I'm going to play the call for you here. I will tell you before I play it that it is, what you're about to hear is unmitigated bullpucky, none of this is true. But this is the call/crime that went out to Detroit this summer.


ROBOCALL TARGETING MAIL-IN VOTING IN MICHIGAN: Hi, this is Tameka Taylor from project 1599, a civil rights organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl. Mail-in voting sounds great, but did you know that if you vote by mail, your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants, and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debt?

The CDC is even pushing to give preference for mail-in voting to track people for mandatory vaccines. Don't be convinced into giving your private information to the man. Stay safe, and beware of vote by mail.


MADDOW: Beware of vote by mail.

You vote by mail, your personal information is going to be given to police to track you down for any old warrants and your personal information will be given to credit card companies to track you down for any old debt. And then the CDC is going to use that information if you vote by mail to hunt you down and make you take mandatory vaccines that you don't want, right? That's all horsepucky. None of that is true.

Voting my mail in Michigan doesn't actually put your personal information out there anywhere. Registering to vote means registering to vote, but beyond that, how you vote doesn't matter at all.

But when Sandra McNeill and WWJ in Detroit got that recording of that call, they started looking into it. They started looking into it, see if it was one-off or to see if this was a more widespread thing. They started looking into it, so did the state attorney general and Michigan secretary of state. And those state officials held a press conference. And they took the unusual step of releasing the audio recording of that call so that other people who might have received it, would recognize it, but also I think to put people on notice that this was misinformation, and if you get this, this is not only wrong, this is potentially a crime.

They gave a stern public warning, saying they're working to find out who was sending these absolutely false calls, full of disinformation trying to intimidate voters. They asked for members of the public if they too receive calls like this. Record the call, record the date and time you receive it, record any identifying information that came in with the call like on your caller ID or anything like that.

Michigan State Attorney General Dana Nessel warned that this is a felony under Michigan law to deter or otherwise disrupt the person attempting to vote. So, they went big with it.

They basically said in that press conference five or so weeks ago, you know, listen, you are targeting mostly black registered voters to dump all this information on them to try to stop them vote by mail. You may think it is cute but this is illegal in the state and we are coming for you. Well, today, they made good on that threat.

Tonight, Michigan State Attorney General Dana Nessel has announced felony charges that have been filed against for two men whose names were listed at the beginning of that robocall. They have publicly denied having anything to do with this call. They said this must be some liberal group trying to make them look bad. It should be noted that callers who received these calls also got caller ID messages saying the calls were coming from one of the two men's phone numbers.

These guys are Trump's supporters and conservative activists with a history of making flamboyant false claims. At one point, during a special counsel's investigation, Robert Mueller's office released a public statement announcing that they had referred these guys to the FBI after multiple women came forward to say that these guys had offered them money to make up sexually assault allegations against Robert Mueller. They referred them to the FBI for that. I wonder what happened with the FBI referral.

These gentlemen also fabricated sexually assault allegations against Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, in the heat of the Democratic primary. That allegation fell apart when the person they put forward to make those charges against Pete Buttigieg publicly recanted and admitted that it wasn't true and publicly explained that these guys had put them up to it.

They also tried to fabricate sexual allegations against Dr. Anthony Fauci. Seriously? They offered cash rewards to anybody who would say they heard Joe Biden using racial epitaphs. Right?

These guys are a peach of a pair, and they have been doing this kind of stuff to try to boost the Trump campaign and to boost the Trump presidency. They have been doing for a long time, apparently with impunity. But now, they are facing multiple felony charges in Michigan, four felony charges all related to the election crime of intimidating voters with a maximum jail time of I think 24 years in prison.

But here's what's particularly interesting here -- the investigation sparked by the Michigan authority deciding that they were going to go big and go public with this, turned up the fact that this wasn't just the local thing that it happened to one or two people. It wasn't even a Michigan's specific attack.

Turns out the calls went out all over. First it was to Chicago alderwoman. A local official in Chicago who alerted the board of elections there that she, too, had received this racist robocall at her home in Chicago. Then there was people in Pittsburgh and in Philadelphia who also said they got the same call.

When Attorney General Dana Nessel of Michigan announced these felony charges today, she said that her office conferred with the attorney general in Illinois, where Chicago is, and in Pennsylvania where Philly and Pittsburgh are, but she says she also conferred with the attorneys general in New York and in Ohio, because it turns out these calls have been going out to majority black districts, registered voters in majority black districts all over the country.

In all, in announcing these charges today, the Michigan attorney general's office estimates that 85,000 of these calls have gone out just in the past few weeks, trying to terrify black voters into not voting by mail. Think about that -- 85,000 mostly black voters getting these calls, saying if you vote by mail, the CDC is going to put you on a list for a mandatory vaccination that you don't want. If you vote by mail, the credit card company is going to track you down. Or if you vote by mail, the police are going to come for you. Eighty-five thousand of these calls in multiple states over a period of weeks?

After Attorney General Dana Nessel announced these charges today in Michigan, she did an interview with that reporter from WWJ who helped break this thing open from the start with that tip from a listener.

Reporter Sandra McNeill, she asked the AG the question that's actually been on my mind since I first heard about this story, why is, why did these guys had the gall to use their own names on this robocall which so obviously appears to be a crime in progress trying to intimidate voters? Why would you put your name on that while committing that crime? It's like robbing a bank and handing out your business card to everybody who might have witnessed it.

Attorney Nessel told the reporter from WWJ in response, quote, I honestly think that they've gotten away with so many things for so long, they thought that no one would do anything. They thought it wouldn't matter.

It turns out it matters.

Joining us now live from Michigan is the great state of Michigan's attorney general, Dana Nessel.

Madam Attorney General, thank you so much for being here tonight. I know it's a busy time.

DANA NESSEL (D), MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate your use of the term bullpucky. I never heard that before, but I'm going to use it.

MADDOW: Bullpucky and horsepucky are terms -- you're welcome to use either of them. I don't even collect commission anymore.

First, let me ask you if I got any of that wrong or if there's any important part of this case you brought today, that you announced today that I've missed.

NESSEL: No, I think it was a good summation. But what I -- I would like people to know is, first of all, you know, yes, that was 12,000 calls that were made to state of Michigan and really centralized in the city of Detroit, the 313 area code which is the city of Detroit.

Think about this, that's 12,000 calls to 12,000 potential voters. Trump won the state of Michigan by just over 10,000 votes. I mean, this is incredibly impactful.

And what I thought about for a long time is what is the point of having all these laws in the book in regard to voter suppression, voter intimidation, threats against voters if we never actually enforce them. And what we know about 2016 is that Trump didn't win because of the people who voted for him in Michigan. He won because of the people who did not vote at all. And that is what I think these folks trying to accomplish and sup suppress the vote and scare people into not voting absentee during the course of the global pandemic.

And we're not having it in this day. We're just absolutely not going to accept these individuals can be so brazen and to attach themselves personally to these phone calls and think they can just get away with it. If they think it's funny, they can joke around about it behind bars as far as I'm concerned.

MADDOW: Is there a technical reason why cases like this are hard to bring?

Obviously, these gentlemen have -- that you have -- that your office charged today, they have their names on the front of this robocall, they since publicly denied that they actually made the robocall and said somebody else must have done this in their names in order to make them look bad or prank them.

When it comes to the technical nature of proving that these were the people who in the charges conspire to and ultimately committed these act of voter intimidation, is it hard to prove?

NESSEL: Well, unfortunately, for Mr. Wohl and Mr. Burkman, about a year ago in my office, we established one of the first anti-robocalling task forces. And so, we weren't interested at the time in political related robocalls. We were interested calls that are made that end up defrauding people and scamming people. So, we already had the technology in place.

So, we knew where these calls were coming from and that allowed us to work with authorities in the state of California and thanks to my good friend, Attorney General Becerra in California who assisted us in this investigation. But we have compelling evidence that these individuals committed these crimes, and we're quite clear and confident about who the perpetrators of these crimes were. They obviously never thought that we would actually investigate and actually charge.

But, you know, voters suppression is a very serious manner and as Thomas Paine famously stated many years ago, voting is the right upon which all other rights are dependant.

So, if you deprive somebody of their ability to vote. You deprive them from everything else in life. And, you know, this has gone on for far too long. I think many people are tired of their scam.

This isn't the first time we investigated these guys. As you noted, there was an incident involving Pete Buttigieg. That involves the state of Michigan and individuals who live in the state of Michigan. So, it's not the first time I have seen their names on a piece of paper in my office. And we are tired of them coming into our state and stirring up this kind of trouble by using false and misleading statements and trying to threaten or intimidate voters.

MADDOW: Are you worried of other types of -- other approaches towards voter intimidation in Michigan? Obviously, such a crucial swing state as you mention, the margin there in 2016 was basically nothing, between the president and the Biden campaign as well, pay lots of attention to the state.

Are you worried that this might be designed to dovetail with other suppressive measures or intimidation measures at Michigan polling places?

NESSEL: Well, I -- that's why we're expecting here and we've already seen, and that's we're trying to work with our partners, and the many social media platforms. We talked to Facebook and Twitter and Google, and YouTube, and we are trying to ensure that as soon as we identify misinformation that is out there or disinformation, that it is removed, or at least that's flagged. It's a little hard, though, when so much misinformation is actually coming from the president of the United States himself.

But, you know, what we have to do as public officials is we have to fight back misinformation with accurate information and make sure people know how to vote, when to vote and how to make sure their vote counts, because I think that this misinformation is out there in an effort to deter people from going to the polling place in the first place or from casting their absentee ballot. We want to make sure that doesn't happen by letting people know there are all these different avenues by which you can vote. It's safe, it's secure, and ultimately, your vote will count. And after the votes are counted and tabulated, the person who has the most votes will win.

So, this will be a free and fair election, but we just have to combat all the noise, all the misinformation that's constantly out there so that we don't see massive voter suppression which is again what we saw in 2016.

MADDOW: Attorney General Dana Nessel of the great state of Michigan, thank you so much for coming on the air with us tonight and help us understand. Good luck to you. Thank you.

NESSEL: Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: All right. You know, it's -- it's interesting. It has been an unsettled day on this front, when it comes to efforts to try to intimidate you out of voting, to make it harder for you vote, all right, to set the stage to contest the vote or block the count somehow. I mean, like the attorney general just said there, in Michigan, where these guys allegedly, you know, sent those racist robocalls are now being charged with felonies, these are the charge sheets today, in Michigan, as the attorney general said, Trump beats Clinton there in 2016 by 2/10 of a percent.

In 2016 in Michigan, there was something like a 4.5 million votes cast and Trump won with a margin of less than 11,000 votes, right? Basically, that happened because black turnout was down in Detroit. And so, now, we've got these guys allegedly committing felonies to try to target black voters in Detroit to make sure people are too afraid to vote. That's what they're going for, that is what they are counting on, all right?

With targeted Facebook and social media ads, with robocalls like this crime, the margins count. The margins certainly counted in 2016, and they're counting on it again.

So, as we get to the final stretch here, we are seeing these efforts to chip away Democratic margins, to make it harder to vote for Democratic and likely Democratic voters, everywhere they can, particularly places where Republicans hold power.

Today, for example, was a day in Texas where Republican Governor Greg Abbott ordered that, he ordered this today. He ordered that -- he changed his mind, so forget the previous voting plan in Texas, forget what Texas counties were already doing. He said, today, with one day's notice, that as of tomorrow, Texas counties have to remove all their drop box locations for people to drop off their ballots.

Now, the counties have installed lots of these drop-off locations for ballots. In Travis County where Austin is, there's four different places to drop off your ballots. In Harris County, which is one of the biggest counties in the country, more than 4.6 million people live in that one county. There have been a dozen different places where you can drop off ballots.

And all these Texas counties have been advertising all their remote drop off locations for your ballots, for weeks, they've had these remote drop-off locations up and running for weeks. There are even poll observers. They're stationed at the drop-off locations, to make all size comfortable and everything is kosher and all these places you can drop off your ballots. And so, it's all up and running in Texas.

But Governor Abbott today, with no warning, said all of those sites must be shut down tomorrow, one day's notice. He has proclaimed -- a proclamation today that there could only be one drop-off location per county as of tomorrow.

So, like Harris County which includes Houston, Harris County, pick one, you have to close 11 of your voting sites.

To be clear, Harris County geographically is roughly the size of Rhode Island. It's nearly 2,000 square miles. More than 4.6 million people live there. They have to close 11 of the 12 sites where people have been dropping off ballots. You only get one from here on out, you get one day's notice to make the call. Nervous much, Texas Republicans?

I mean, it's true in lots of small, likely populated rural Texas counties, maybe only having one drop off site is not going to make that big of a difference, but in big, diverse urban counties, literally big 2,000 square mile counties, where almost all of the Democratic votes will come from in Texas, this is a last minute no notice shutdown to try to keep people from being able to vote.

The League of United Latin American Citizens, the civil rights group LULAC, has already announced tonight that they're going to sue the Texas governor tonight to try to stop this. But the Texas governor is trying to make this go into effect tomorrow. So, we shall see.

In Pennsylvania, crucial swing state of Pennsylvania, we are seeing a whole bunch of things coming together along these lines all at once. You remember the president in the debate on Tuesday night saying, bad things happen in Philadelphia, telling his supporters that they need to go into the polls and watch very carefully because bad things happen in Pennsylvania -- excuse me, in Philadelphia.

Trump campaign people this week did try to illegally get into the facilities in Pennsylvania where people were picking up absentee ballots at satellite election offices in Philadelphia earlier this week. Local election laws do not allow poll watchers at sites like that, so the Trump's campaign folks were turned away. And now, the Trump campaign is trumpeting the fact that their folks were turned away and not allowed to do something illegal, as if that's some sort of nefarious sign of fraud in Philadelphia.

The federal Department of Justice, the Trump appointed U.S. attorney in Pennsylvania, last week put out that bizarre press release trumpeting the start of a federal investigation into ballots being discarded in Pennsylvania, right? The U.S. attorney going out of his way to say they were definitely Trump ballots.

The White House, the president and the Trump campaign all jumping over that with the help of the U.S. Justice Department when it turns out not to have been all Trump's ballots and just to have been a mistake that was caught and fixed right away at the local level, but not before the Trump side tried to turn it into a national rallying cry about the election being stolen by Democrats in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is one of these states where areas outside the major cities tend to vote Republican, and the cities tend to vote more Democratic. Of course, all that matters for the Electoral College is who wins the most votes statewide. But that creates this internal dynamic in the state where the Republican Party tries to demonize and shut down and make as inconvenient as possible the vote that comes from the cities in their state. That's why Republicans are hyping Philadelphia so much, right? They want to win Pennsylvania, well, they want to target Philadelphia to tamp down the voting, in the biggest source of Democratic votes in the state.

In Philadelphia, the local Republican Party chairman has just announced that the party intends to have poll watchers at every single polling station in the entire city of Philadelphia, which means the Republican Party plans to have like 1,600 Republican poll watchers in polling places just in Philadelphia. Yeah, what could possibly go wrong?

Bart Gellman at "The Atlantic Magazine" reporting last week that Republican Party officials in Pennsylvania closely studied the voting in the last election, in the primary election specifically to prepare themselves for all the different ways they're going to try to get people ballots disqualified now in the general election. That's why Democratic officials in Pennsylvania to re-up their efforts to try to teach voters how to fill out and submit and sign their ballots absolutely perfectly since we now know that Republicans will be looking for any way, any reasons, any opening to get your ballots thrown out.

'Tis the season. This is how they are competing this year.

Yeah, sure, they like their people to vote. But more than that, they want your vote. If you're not going to vote Republican, they want your votes either never cast in the first place, or never counted, right? It's Republicans against voting and everybody else voting against them.

But in Pennsylvania specifically where Clinton lost to Trump in 2016 about less than three quarters of one percent, right? In Pennsylvania specifically, where right now they are leaning so hard on the vote, where they're trying to nationally demonize the whole idea of Democratic votes in Philadelphia, today, Republicans took a giant leap forward in their aggression in terms of what they are trying to do to the elections specifically in that state.

Now, I'll tell you, this is a live issue and a developing story. The Republicans in the state legislature trying to ram this through right now this week. If they do it, I'm telling you right now, other Republican-controlled legislatures are going to try to ram it through their states as well.

Democrats are trying to sound a national alarm about what Republicans are trying to do in Pennsylvania right now. They're fighting like you can't believe and it is going to be decided quickly, perhaps tomorrow.

We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, I'll tell you what it is that Republicans are trying to do in Pennsylvania. This is a whole new gambit from them. We've got a live report from Pennsylvania from somebody right in the middle of that fight. That's next.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: On Tuesday night, right after the presidential debate, the local paper in Philadelphia helpfully explained to its readers why it was false for the president to claim in a debate that were some kind of voting shenanigans happening in the city of Philadelphia and that Republican poll watchers were wrongfully being blocked from Philadelphia polling places.

"The Philadelphia Inquirer" noted in its coverage first of all that, quote, the Trump campaigned has no poll watchers approved to work in Philadelphia at the moment. Also, quote, there are no actual polling places opened in the city of Philadelphia right now.

In other words, the only problem with the president's claim that Trump campaign poll watchers were blocked from polling places in Philadelphia is that in a city right now, there are no poll watchers and there are no polling places from them to be blocked. But other than that, nailed it.

Now what actually happened is that Trump campaign people tried illegally get into place where people can pick up absentee ballots in Philadelphia. They're not allowed there. Neither campaign poll watcher is allowed in facility like that. But that's it, that's all that happened.

So, the local paper in Philly responded to the president's election fraud claim by just calling bullpucky on it and kind of laughing the president's face in the process.

Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania on the other hand, they had a very different reaction. This was a headline in "The Philadelphia Inquirer" the very next day. Quote, Pennsylvania Republicans want to create and control an election integrity panel with subpoena power.

"The Washington Post" in their coverage described that the Republicans in the state legislature want to create as having, quote, wide-ranging powers to investigate the vote, including the ability to subpoena election officials and members of the U.S. Postal Service while the election and vote-counting are still in progress.

Pennsylvania Democrats expressed alarm Wednesday that the proposed committee in the Republican-controlled chamber could disrupt the election by subpoenaing ballots and by bringing an election officials and others to testify before the vote count has been certified.

Republican State Rep. Garth D. Everett proposed the resolution and defended it as a way to learn from the 2020 election after the fact, but he conceded that the committee's work could be done before the voting has been completed.

And while the guy who proposed the committee was trying to make it sound as innocuous as possible, the Republican leader in the Pennsylvania House went ahead and just said the quiet part out loud, claiming that recent court ruling ensuring more votes will be counted in Pennsylvania, quote, injected chaos into the general election and that this new committee, the Republicans want to form in the legislature will, quote, ensure the legislature can act as a check on this hijacked process.

And judges are ruling that ballots should be counted, while the Republican controlled legislature can check that.

County election officials in Pennsylvania, the folks who are actually administering this election, they're telling the legislature that instead of doing this new committee to investigate the election, while it is still underway, it would be super helpful instead if the legislatures could, quote, shift focus and making changes that could help improve the election. Election directors have been begging the legislature since the spring to let counties start counting this year's high volume of mail-in ballots before Election Day so that vote counting doesn't stretch on for days or weeks after Election Day.

But Republicans do not want to do that. They do not want a quick and efficient counting of votes. They do not see that in their interests this year, at least not in Pennsylvania. I mean, those days or weeks of ballot counting after election day, that period of manufactured crisis in a state that could very easily end up deciding the presidential election, well, with the Republicans' new integrity committee in place raising all kinds of doubts about the vote and subpoenaing uncounted ballots and subpoenaing elections officials and postal workers are bringing them in for questioning in the middle of the vote, I mean, do all that until you feel like maybe there is no way of knowing who really won, right?

And then the legislature will just pick a slate of electors that they think most approximates whatever the vote might have been since the real vote, of course, can't be discern, it's such a mess. That's their sweet spot this year. That's what they are aiming at.

Sure, they like to win but especially in places they think they might not or they think they will not, they rather make sure that it appears that nobody won and they had to take control.

As Democrats in the Pennsylvania House tried and failed to stop this measure from being brought up the committee, one Democratic legislature said in protests, he said it loudly, quote, democracies die slowly, and I think this bill will be fatal blow to our democracy.

This is a live fight right now in Pennsylvania. That lawmaker joins us next. Stay with us.



STATE REP. MALCOLM KENYATTA (D-PA): Democracies die slowly, I think this bill would be a fatal blow to our democracy. When we talk about what was just reviewed, this -- I guess we're calling it committee on election integrity, have no integrity. Has none.

We heard the president last night saying bad things happen in Philadelphia. The reality is, bad things are happening in this committee. This is a bad bill that should never have been brought up. This is unacceptable and despicable piece of legislation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for your comment.

KENYATTA: No, and, Mr. Speaker, I'm not finished. I mean, Mr. Chairman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are finished.

KENYATTA: I'm not finished.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why can he finish?

KENYATTA: I should be allowed to finish. I was elected just like you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you would lower -- if you would lower your tone.

KENYATTA: And you can tell me to lower my tone but I am not going to lower it when we are talking about our democracy and people vote.

This bill would allow ballots to be subpoenaed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It specifically says you can't subpoena ballots.

KENYATTA: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's in the constitution.

KENYATTA: This bill is a farce, a lot of things that are in the Constitution that this resolution is ignoring, including the fact that folks have a right to have a free and fair election which is going to blow up. This is unacceptable, Mr. Chairman. I will tell you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said it five times.

KENYATTA: I am glad you are keeping count, because this is unacceptable and I am so disappointed that you would not bring this up when I read this and it had your name on it. I am so disappointed.

You should be, too. You should be ashamed. You have been out of order. You've been out of order.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Representative Kenyatta, if you don't get under control.

KENYATTA: Are you going to have security drag me out, Mr. Chairman?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your member under control.

KENYATTA: Mr. Chairman, you are not going to get me under control. You need to get your focus under control.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you making emotions?

KENYATTA: This -- your caucus is acting more like a cult than it's acting like a caucus.

I am ending my statement there. This is personal, because democracy is personal to me and it should be personal to you.


MADDOW: No one is getting Malcolm Kenyatta under control. You heard in a moment there.

Representative Malcolm is trying to stop what's happening in Pennsylvania. The Democrats in the legislature there are trying to stop it.

Republicans in Pennsylvania, this is potentially going to end up being a story of serious national significance. They are trying at this late date to create a brand new select election integrity committee that they're giving subpoena power to investigate the 2020 election in the middle of the 2020 election.

You heard Representative Kenyatta there introduced a motion to table that all together. That's a Republican-controlled committee and that motion failed. But this fight is not over yet and the national spotlight on this is only getting hotter.

Joining us now is Representative Kenyatta. He's Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He serves a part of Philadelphia County.

Representative, sir, thanks very much for being here. I appreciate your time tonight.

KENYATTA: Thank you so much, Rachel, and thank you for talking about this. I say all the time, what happens in state legislatures matter.

MADDOW: Yeah, and, boy, does it feel like it's easy to understand the national implications of what happened in state legislatures right now, but I don't know if we are seeing any other state a last minute move by a Republican controlled legislature to try to institute a new body to control the vote and to potentially affect the way that the Democratic -- excuse me, that the presidential election is conducted.

I don't think -- is this something you guys knew was coming or as much of a surprise to you as us outside the state?

KENYATTA: You know, usually, we get 24 hours notice before a committee hearing that the bills are coming up. They put it in our inboxes, you know, I think right before the presidential debate and for months now, Rachel, they have been trying to throw sand into the gears of our democracy and now, they're sanding out this election integrity committee that as I said has no integrity to investigate the sand.

You know, they have parroted all of President Trump's fever dreams around voter fraud. But here's the reality, the only fraud I see is Donald Trump. He lies to the American people. He cheats on his taxes and now, he is trying to steal our election.

And, unfortunately, Republicans in Harrisburg and Republicans across the country are more than happy to help him destroy our democracy. And they have decided, Rachel, that they're not going to contest this election on policy or on the progress that we need to see on climate change and healthcare and this COVID-19 pandemic. They're not going to have the election on those terms. They are doing everything they can to take away the power of our vote here in Pennsylvania to maintain their power.

MADDOW: We've seen so many different stories out of Pennsylvania in a tight period of typically over the past few weeks in terms of the Trump campaign, the national Republican Party working through the local Republican officials in the state and Trump appointed the federal officials in the state to try to essentially burn a hole through Pennsylvania's voting plans through sheer dent of attention and demonizing the idea of any Democratic votes out of Pennsylvania and specifically out of Philadelphia.

I mean, from the federal investigation weirdly announced by the U.S. attorney before he sort of recanted it before anybody figured out what actually happened there, to the president talking about bad things happening in Philadelphia from the debate stage, totally mischaracterizing this thing with poll watchers, calling for his supporters to turn out in great numbers and they'll watch the polls while he's talking about Pennsylvania.

I mean, from the outside feels like they've got everything they got trained and trying to screw up the voting process in Pennsylvania. How much confidence do you have that they'll succeed at that or do you feel that Pennsylvania knows what they are doing in terms of carrying out the election that this is noise, and things will go like they ought to.

KENYATTA: So, I think people need to understand and I have been doing my level best as elected official here to reinforce the fact that we have free and fair elections here in Pennsylvania. We have safe elections here in Pennsylvania. It is safe to cast your ballots by mail or any other way you choose.

But I think one of the things we have to focus on, I said it right at the top, is on our state legislatures. You know, Rachel, our -- we get sworn in on January, but the term for our state legislature actually starts on December 1st. And so, you know, a couple of days ago, I went on a five-day tour helping colleagues and future colleagues get to the House to win back this chamber which we haven't held for a decade.

If we are able to win the chamber in November, we can stop this. We can stop it. People have to get engaged and we need to have the spotlight trained on what they are doing. And you are training the spotlight on it right now. And what happened yesterday with Chairman Everett, you know, it wasn't about me. He was trying to silence me because I was making clear of what their scheme was, to try to disenfranchise black and brown people in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and to silence the voices of people of conscience who are rising up across the state, who wants to cast their ballots against Donald Trump and for a different vision that Joe Biden represents.

And, you know, at the end of the day none of us can be silent about what's going on. And so, if people want to stop this, they need to get involved with the PAHDCC, they need to get involved with local statehouse races here in Pennsylvania and they need to call Speaker Cutler, call Chairman Everett and call Leader Binghoff (ph) and tell them to stop trying to disrupt the vote and to get their hands off of our democracy.

They tried to silence me yesterday, and I would not be silent. And I think every single one of us should raise our voice about what is happening, because if they can't win fair and square, they are committed to cheating. And I think it is a shame to watch this Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus, as I said, go from a caucus to a cult. I am say ashamed to see what happened

MADDOW: State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta and Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, sir, thank you for helping us understand. I know you are right in the middle of this, and as you're saying, not just in your district but statewide. Keep us apprised. This is a really, really national story. Thank you.

KENYATTA: Thank you so much for talking about it, Rachel.

MADDOW: What Representative Kenyatta was saying there about the focus on the state legislature, he's right and he's not just saying that because he's in a state legislature and he thinks local fights are important.

What's going to happen in state legislatures particularly in swing states with Republican controlled state legislatures is going to be really, really important and we need to start building up muscles in the national media and in terms of what we pay attention to citizens nationwide to watch for things in these legislatures, particularly Republican-controlled legislatures in swing states to watch for these kinds of scams like the Republicans are trying to pull off in Pennsylvania.

A late breaking, never heard of before new select committee that's going to oversee the election that they're just forming in the middle of the election and they're giving themselves control over it and subpoena power? Really? I mean, Republicans control the legislatures in Pennsylvania, and in Arizona, and in Florida, and in Michigan, and in North Carolina, and Wisconsin, and all of those states are going to be hard fought and what the legislature tries to do on those states to potentially mess with the vote, to mess with the count, to mess with the assignment and election of electors to the Electoral College, that is going to be national news in all of those states. We got to train our sight on that stuff right now.

All right, we'll be right back, actually with a bit of breaking news about somebody at the White House, a very high-profile person at the White House who have been diagnosed with COVID. I will have that story for you when we come back.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: I want to let you know about some news that has broken late tonight. It was first reported by "Bloomberg News".

It's about Hope Hicks, one of the president's closest aides and longest serving advisers. She has today tested positive for the coronavirus. Hope Hicks, of course, is a very high profile White House staffer. You might remember that she left the White House for a while to go work Fox, I believe, but then she came back to the White House in February of this year.

Now, the White House has not made any kind of announcement or direct comment about her contracting COVID, but the initial report from Bloomberg has now been matched by NBC News and by their news outlets. We, of course, hope for the best for Ms. Hicks for her own sake. Hopefully, this will be a full and quick recovery for her.

But one additional thing to worry about here is this: Hope Hicks traveled with the president on Air Force One two days ago, on Tuesday, to and from the presidential debate. Here she is stepping off the plane in Cleveland without a mask.

Then yesterday, the day before she tested positive, she traveled with the president to his rally in Minnesota. And for that right, she was in even closer quarters with the president. She rode with him on Marine One, on the president's helicopter.

And again, nobody wears masks around this president. He makes fun of people who wear masks.

A White House official told NBC News tonight that contact tracing has been done and the, quote, appropriate notifications and recommendations have been made. I'm sure they have been.

Somebody positive not wearing a mask that close to the president in that tight of quarters for that long a proximity, that's a big deal.

We'll be right back.


MADDOW: I can guarantee you have not heard about this and that you are going to be interested. On the night that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, one of the other things that happened that night that never made any news because the news about the justice just overwhelmed everything is that that night, the Mueller report got unredacted, a bunch of it did at least.

Here is an example of what came out from behind the black redaction boxes that Friday night. Footnote 49 on page 23 of the original version of Mueller's report that we had all seen described efforts by that Russian troll farm to criticize Hillary Clinton's record as secretary of state and then it says in that footnote, the IRA, Internet Research Agency, also used other techniques such as redacted, redacted, redacted, redacted. Well, that was just unredacted by court order that Friday night that Justice Ginsburg died.

Now, we can see what that actually said. It said, quote, in early 2015, IRA, Internet Research Agency, employees published an online adult -- published an online adult video sites, a purported adult film involving Hillary Clinton. Ah, that had been redacted. But now it's not. Good to know.

Also, check out page 27. There was a big blacked out chunk in the middle of the Mueller report as we had seen it. Newly unredacted. It cites one Internet Research Agency boss saying that in Internet postings, quote, Clinton should be portrayed as a supporter of illegal Latinos from poor countries of South America creeping across the U.S. border, gangsters from drug cartels of Latin America, Muslim American migrants, the emphasis should be made on the role of so-called undocumented Democrats in the elections.

That was the Russian instruction to Russian trolls for what they should contribute to the campaign about Hillary Clinton in 2016. Good to know, right?

Also good to know especially when right now Trump's director of national intelligence and Senate Republicans are promoting a conspiracy theory of Russian origin that the Clinton campaign somehow invented the whole Trump-Russia scandal as well.

That was just some of the new information that was unredacted two weeks ago that went largely unremarked upon because of when and where it happened in the news. But now, the same judge who ordered those redactions has told the Justice Department they need to release a further 15 pages of Mueller's report. These are blacked out sections that relate to Mueller's decisions about who to charge and who not to charge, discussions related to the Democratic Party getting hacked in 2016 and the Trump campaign being interested in those documents and WikiLeaks released them that June. Fifteen more pages of the Mueller report are getting unredacted.

The specific date by which the Justice Department has to unredact this stuff, I kid you not, the judge says on or before November 2nd, 2020. So on the eve, literally the eve, the day before the presidential election 15 more pages of the Mueller report including potentially why they didn't charge the president night before the election.

That does it for us tonight. We'll see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.


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