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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, October 28, 2020

Guests: Amy Klobuchar, Sherrilyn Ifill


MSNBC continues its coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Senator Amy Klobuchar of the great state of Minnesota is interviewed.


JOHN LAPINSKI, NBC NEWS: And we'll be doing that even at the county level because that's what people are going to want to know. And we're going to try to tell people at best as we can what types of votes they are.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: All right. John Lapinski has got a lot riding on his shoulders. We'll be talking to you more between now and election night. Thank you, John.

LAPINSKI: Thank you.

HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

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.

We're going to start tonight in the great American city of El Paso, Texas. We're going to start tonight with the chief medical officer at Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso.


DR. OGECHIKA ALOZIE, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, DEL SOL MEDICAL CENTER: Just two weeks ago we were having public discourse around 500 cases a day, 700 cases a day, 800. Last week we broke the record three times, 1,000, 1,200, and then 1,400 today.

People need to understand that it's cases, hospitalizations, and unfortunately deaths eventually. And even though the mortality rate is better, the more people come in, the more this goes unabated, there's just going to be a lot of dark days going into the fall, and that's really unfortunate.

RICHARD SAMANIEGO, EL PASO, TEXAS COUNTY JUDGE: We are in a crisis. We obviously have 100 percent capacity now at all the hospitals. Our ICU units are at full capacity. We're now not able to take emergencies like we used to of non-COVID patients, which is always a danger point.

ANDREA CORTEZ, EL PASO, TEXAS RESIDENT TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19: Emotionally, you know, it's just been a really hard thing to take on. Of course, you would hear about all of these cases and you would just pray that it wouldn't get to your family, and you would have anxiety leaving the House, thinking that potentially you were exposed, hearing of someone nearby that has tested positive, thinking is that me?

ALOZIE: Between our E.R. doctors and our hospital doctors, our ICU doctors, everybody's tired. They see the patients that are coming in, the tempo of patients, and it's not just in our hospital. It's across the city. All my colleagues that I talk to across the city are realizing that there are more patients coming in, sicker patients coming in.

And so, as you can imagine, people are just tired. There's that exhaustion. But, again, we buckle up, and we have to take care of the patients. We're trying to do the best that we can as this epidemic spreads throughout our city.

CORTEZ: So it was a domino effect. My uncle got my grandfather. My grandfather got my grandmother. My grandmother got my mom and my uncle. And then my mom got my father and my siblings and I sick.

ALOZIE: This weekend, over the last week to two weeks have really been -- the tempo's increased. It's been amazing. We're seeing all sorts of patients. I mean, the narrative historically has been the above 65s, those that have multiple comorbidities. We're seeing 20-year-olds, 30-year-olds, 40-year-olds.

CORTEZ: Yes, it's definitely hard. It would have been hard -- I knew it was going to come, but knowing that it was because of COVID was definitely one of my biggest fears, and it came true. But it makes me smile because that day that they took him to the hospital, when he tested positive, he -- I went to go visit him just to see how he was doing, and I asked him how he was feeling. He struggled to get his words out just because he was having difficulty breathing, but then he finally said (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) which is like a champion.

So that just proves how he thought about the virus, how he thought about life really because he had told me that before. So it made things a little easier for me. Of course, I wish it didn't have to go that way, but unfortunately that's the way that it went, and I just hope that no one else has to go through that anymore, or less people have to go through that anymore and that this pain can stop for everyone as soon as possible.


MADDOW: Andrea Cortez is 23 years old. There are 15 members of her family in El Paso who have been infected with the coronavirus, who have tested positive. She's talking there with all that sadness. She's talking about her grandfather, Lazaro, who did not survive. He died with COVID.

El Paso tonight is in crisis. El Paso is closing in on 1,000 people hospitalized with COVID in that one city alone, in addition to everybody else who has to be hospitalized for every reason, they've got 1,000 patients hospitalized nearly in El Paso now. They're adding 30, 40, 50 more patients to their COVID hospitals every day.

There just isn't the medical capacity to treat that many people. That's why I wanted you to see the medical director there from the local hospital talking about how exhausted the health care providers are. There's 111 COVID patients on ventilators right now in El Paso according to the city's latest data, 111 people all on ventilators right now, that one city.

In almost every state in the country, 47 out of 50 states, the epidemic is now officially growing, 47 out of 50 states, so it's getting worse. More than 1,000 Americans died from COVID today alone.

Last night, we covered the new study out of Kansas that compared Kansas counties with a mask mandate to Kansas counties without a mask mandate. The clear-as-day, totally blunt findings of that study are good news, that you can cut your new case numbers in half by implementing a mask mandate, in half. New cases in Kansas doubled in the counties without a mask mandate. They stayed flat in the counties that did require masks. It's as simple as that.

Kansas conducted what amounted to a natural experiment on mask mandates, and what they found could not be more clear. That ought to be news that we can use. That ought to be prescriptive information for us.

Tonight beyond that, we got more evidence along those lines, about mask mandates not only bringing down new case numbers as was proven in Kansas, but also bringing down COVID hospitalizations as well. This is brand-new data out of Tennessee. It is just as clear. It is just as clearly prescriptive as what we are seeing out of Kansas.

The news right now on COVID is terrible. It is a blessing that the diagnosis about what to do about it to bring the numbers down is so clear and so clearly proven in multiple states. We're going to have more on that later on this hour.

We're also going to be speaking later on this hour with Sherrilyn Ifill, head of the NCAA Legal Defense Fund. Among all the other things the legal defense fund is doing right now to protect the election, to protect voting rights, they have also today in their court fight against the Trump administration messing with the post office, today, they turned up jaw-dropping new information about just how badly the Trump administration has made sure to screw up the mail, right in time for this election.

Thanks to Sherrilyn Ifill in this court case that her organization is fighting, we know that in all important swing state of Pennsylvania, where the most Democratic votes in the state are going to come obviously from Philadelphia, the Trump administration has now made it so that less than 43 percent of first class mail is being delivered on time, 42.95 percent.

In Detroit, which happens to be the Democratic vote stronghold of the all-important swing state of Michigan, mail is being delivered in Detroit on time less than 53 percent now. Less than 53 percent of the time is the mail getting there on time. Northern Ohio, hello, Cleveland, the mail is now on time only 56 percent of the time. In south Florida, hello, Miami, it's 63 percent of the time.

I mean that's one way to try to win an election, right? If everybody has to vote by mail this year, then throttle the United States mail in Democratic strongholds in all the swing states. Easy peasy. Nice work if you can get it.

We talked last night about warnings from people like former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who is now bluntly warning American voters that it is now too late to rely on the mail to get your ballot in. If you have your ballot still at home, you have to physically bring it into a drop box now or to the clerk's office or to another location that your city or town has set up to drop off ballots. It is too late for the mail now.

We have also seen that warning from Michigan's secretary of state. She released this blunt statement yesterday as well. It is too late to rely on the United States Postal Service.

We're seeing similar warnings now from state officials in the all-important swing state of Pennsylvania. Also the all-important swing state of Wisconsin. Officials in both of those states warning it is now too late to count on the mail. You've got to bring your ballot in, in person now. There's no other way.

So we're going to talk with Sherrilyn Ifill tonight about her organization's lawsuit against what Trump has done to the Post Office and everything else the NAACP is doing right now to try to get all our votes counted and to push back on the voter intimidation measures we're seeing around the country.

But bottom line right now is that it is time. It's time. If you have your ballot at home, it really is too late to mail it in. Don't panic. Don't worry about it. Just be real. You need to drop it off by hand instead now.

If you need help figuring out how to do that in your state, NBC News set up a very clear website,, that you can go to to help you figure that out. Put in what state you're interested in learning about, and you -- it will direct you to the information in terms of how you can get your ballot in now.

But hear me now. Bottom line, in all states, it is too late to count on the mail now. Don't mail it now. Bring it in yourself.

Election expert Rick Hasen, who we have relied on for years on this show in terms of his knowledge of election law, Rick Hasen is now online all but screaming -- Rick Hasen is a very mild mannered guy, which you should know for context, but now on this point, he's yelling, all caps, if you live in Pennsylvania at this point, you should not use the U.S. mail to return your ballot, or at this point anywhere in the USA. Use a drop box or government office if allowed or vote in person.

Yes, what he said. We are seeing court decisions including from the United States Supreme Court coming in fast and furious now about how long various states will be allowed to continue accepting ballots. Republicans in states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and North Carolina have been trying to cut short the time after which ballots won't be counted. Pennsylvania today decided that they will segregate, they will set aside any ballots that are received after the close of the polls on Tuesday.

Even if those ballots were put in the mail and postmarked long before election day, they're going to set those ballots aside if they arrive after the polling places close on Tuesday because they know Republicans inevitably will try to get those ballots thrown out and not counted.

The newly empowered hard-right conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court today signaling that even though they're not going to decide on that Pennsylvania issue before election day, they very well might decide it after election day, especially if it looks like that might make the difference on whether or not Trump's elected, right?

So because of that, Pennsylvania is making sure that ballots received after the polls close on election day are set aside just in case because they know that Republicans and potentially conservative justices will attack those ballots and try to have them not counted. And that's interesting in terms of what's happened to the courts and what's happened to the basically right-wing seizure of the law enforcement process around voting rights.

But what that means for you, the voter, is very simple. Like I said, don't put it in the mail at this point. If you've got a ballot, you're going to need to bring it in, in person. And while we're on the subject about being real about our expectations, we also need to get real about what's actually going to happen on election night, on your TV and out there in the states that are going to decide this election.

Now, there's no reason for this to loom large in your memory, but when Pennsylvania held their primary this year, they were originally going to hold it in April, then ended up moving it to early June because of COVID.

When Pennsylvania, this incredibly important swing state of Pennsylvania, when they held their primary this year on June 2nd, not only were the results of that primary not called for six days, six days by the press, eight days in the state, the states after-action report on how that primary went noted that in more than half of Pennsylvania's counties, the actual count of ballots was still going on more than a week after election day, right?

So that's just Pennsylvania. But a lot of experts and some well-known, very stressed out worriers on television think that the election is more likely to come down to Pennsylvania than to any other state. And the polling there right now is tight. The state of Pennsylvania, even in the best of circumstances, doesn't report their results quickly. Their most recent election was that primary in June when it took them over a week.

I mean this year Pennsylvania is one of the states, Wisconsin is another where poll workers aren't even allowed to open and start counting even one ballot until election day itself. I mean lots of states, they start processing ballots and counting them as soon as the ballots come in. But in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, nope, not a single ballot counted until Election Day dawns.

Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are also states where they don't have a ton of experience with mail-in ballots. In 2018, about 5 percent of the ballots cast in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were cast by mail, only 5 percent. This year it's going to be way, way, way, way more than 5 percent, and those states just don't have a ton of experience and, you know, well worn infrastructure for dealing with that. So it's going to be slow.

Even if everything goes perfectly, it's going to be slow. It is not a sign of breakdown in the system. It's a sign of the system, particularly in Pennsylvania.

Up in Michigan, they do have more experience with mail-in ballots there. About a quarter of all their votes in 2018 were mailed in as opposed to 5 percent in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. So Michigan's more used to dealing with considerable numbers of mail-in ballots.

But even still, Michigan is now explicitly warning that nobody should expect election results from Michigan on election night. The secretary of state is just saying, nope, it's not going to happen. There's not going to be Michigan results on November 3rd.

It will take longer than that to get the votes processed and counted.

And so, I mean you can say this about a lot of different states. In Alaska, for example, where there's a really interesting Senate race right now, where an incumbent Republican senator might lose his seat, Alaska is saying they won't even start to count ballots other than ballots cast on Election Day. So any absentee ballots, any mail-in ballots, Alaska isn't going to start to count those ballots until a week after Election Day, right?

So, in individual states, there's no expectation whatsoever that we're going to have quick results if the results are anywhere, anywhere near close.

But thinking about the presidential race, I mean Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, that trio of crucial states, on election night, experts are warning -- they're trying to sort of raise awareness of the fact that the way the vote is going to be counted in those states, the expected partisan divide between an early vote that's likely to be heavily Democratic and an election day vote that's likely to be heavily Republican, experts are warning that when particularly looking at the crucial tier of northern battleground states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, experts are warning that when the first results are released after polls close on election night from those states, those states are likely to look better for Trump on election night than how they are going to turn out in the end because the Republican-leaning votes are likely to be tallied first.

Now, there's a few other potentially important states where that same dynamic might be at work. In Virginia, for example. But Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin is where the experts are most focused in terms of a potential false impression on election night in states that could be determinative.

Of course, it's also why President Trump is now constantly insisting that the winner of the election must be declared on election night, yeah, before all those other pesky ballots are counted that might show a result that he doesn't want.

Senate Democrats have just put out a short little guide. It's interesting. I've never really noticed that sitting senators have done something like this before. But it's helpful actually.

And basically what they're doing here is they're trying to set expectations for what the election is going to be like as we, the voters, as we, the citizens, absorb information about the tally as it is taking place. They've called it "counting votes and what to expect on election day."

And they actually -- I credit them. They actually spell it out sort of perfectly. Quote, this year, we know that in some states, vote totals on election night might not give us a complete picture of who will win when all the votes are counted. Election experts warn that because this year, a higher percentage of Republicans are voting in person while more Democrats are requesting mail-in ballots, early vote counts that don't include many absentee ballots may create the false appearance that Republicans are ahead.

President Trump's rhetoric indicates he may exploit this illusion and claim victory for himself, then falsely claim that there's massive fraud in mail-in ballots that have not yet been counted or reported. Some states are working to reduce the opportunity to undermine our elections in this way by reporting how many outstanding absentee ballots remain uncounted. Americans should be prepared to reject misinformation and be patient about results in places where counting ballots may take longer.

Be patient. Reject misinformation. I feel like we should all collectively get that same tattoo right now.

In the great state of Minnesota, they've always got huge voter turnout there, which is a source of great Minnesotan pride. They're almost always the best in the country.

Today, four former governors of Minnesota, Republican, Democratic, and independent -- you remember who the recent independent governor of Minnesota was? Four governors of Minnesota put this together that I'm going to show you basically to tell people to chill out, to relax and reject misinformation. Be patient.

Basically saying don't expect an election night result. Also I should warn you in advance, in this video we learn that a significant proportion of former Minnesota governors have unexpectedly interesting hairdos.




GOV. TIM WALZ (D), MINNESOTA: Minnesotans.


PAWLENTY: We've all had the privilege of serving as governor of this great state.

DAYTON: While we may not agree on every issue.

VENTURA: We all agree that this election is the most important election of our lifetime.

DAYTON: So make your voice heard and vote.

WALZ: Vote.

VENTURA: Go vote.

WALZ: With so many of us voting by mail, it may take a little longer to verify a winner.

PAWLENTY: And that's okay. It's by design.

VENTURA: A delay just means our system is working and that we're counting every single ballot.

DAYTON: There may not be a clear winner on election night.

PAWLENTY: But no matter who wins, let's demonstrate the civility and decency that Minnesotans are known for.

WALZ: There is so much more that unites us rather than divides us.

VENTURA: Let's show the country there's a better way.


MADDOW: If you're a man and you have ambitions to be governor of Minnesota someday, you need to think right now about what your crazy hairdo is going to be in your retirement, right? You didn't know that, but it's a hard one, but start thinking about it now.

They're right, though. And more leaders in more states frankly need to be doing what you just saw from those former leaders and current governor of the state of Minnesota, especially when it comes to Republicans and independents because there really are a ton of people voting this year, right?

And we've seen that in -- we've seen that not only because this is a crucial election. There's a lot of people voting by mail this year. States that have long had voting by mail have always had elevated voter turnout compared to the rest of us. So, yeah, the votes are going to take a long time to count, in part because there's a lot of us, and because there's going to be lots of mail-in votes, particularly states that don't have a lot of experience with that, those votes may take a particularly long time to count. And a lot of particularly crucial states, particularly for the presidential outcome, may be the places that count the slowest.

And so we prepare, right? We think ahead, and we absorb the hard truth that it is now too late to entrust your ballot to the post office, so you need to bring it in, in person. We absorb that information. We plan accordingly, and we act.

And we absorb and maybe even explain to others that it doesn't mean something's wrong if we don't have anywhere near a definitive result on election night in terms of who's going to be the next president. It doesn't mean something's wrong if the results we do have on election night only reflect which votes have been counted first, and that's likely to give those early night-one results a partisan tilt one way or the other depending on which states picked which votes to count before the others.

That's okay. Be patient. There's nothing wrong with that system. We've all got to be patient, though. It's going to take a while. It also means that anybody declaring victory on election night based on those early preliminary first votes counted, they should be laughed off the screen.

Joining us now is Senator Amy Klobuchar of the great state of Minnesota. She's one of the authors of that Senate 2020 report that I told you about earlier.

Senator Klobuchar, it's great to see you. Thanks for being here tonight.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Well, thanks, Rachel. Thanks for noticing our governors' hair. I will say Jesse Ventura has had even wilder haircuts than that.

And thanks for mentioning the report. It's actually -- I'm the ranking on the Senate rules committee and worked on this along with Bernie Sanders and Tammy Duckworth, Martin Heinrich, as well as Chris Murphy.

And we really thought it was important for both the Senate races, which you know are so critical, as well as the presidential to tell people to be patient. And I'm trying to picture you being patient, Rachel, but I know you can be.


KLOBUCHAR: And the other thing we wanted to make clear is that you've got to turn up the turnout, but turn out the misinformation because we just know there's a lot of stuff out there. And the president himself has kept really recently, very often been saying, oh, hey, we've got to get it all done on election night. He's just playing a game there.

Twenty-one states, Rachel, 21 states -- no, 22 states actually vote and count their votes after the Election Day. They start before, many of them, but they don't finish until after because their ballots can be postmarked on Election Day. That includes red states like Utah. That includes states like Kansas. That includes states like Texas.

So this is complete misinformation that the president is putting out there, and that's why we thought it was really important. And I love that Tim Pawlenty was part of that video, the former Republican governor. That we have Democrats and Republicans coming together to say be patient, and you must count the votes.

MADDOW: In terms of how to deal with this in a practical way, I mean part of the reason that it's hard to give people in advance practical information about how exactly to get their ballot in, what's the best way to do that, how to make sure their ballot is going to be counted, and what to expect on election night is that some of these rules are still in flux.

I mean, we're still getting Supreme Court rulings, tonight multiple Supreme Court rulings on how late ballots can be counted in places like Pennsylvania and North Carolina. And it's sort of -- you know, we can go into the weeds in terms of explaining the absolute implications of each of those rulings, for each of these states, but the fact these things are being decided so late I think makes it feel daunting to give people hard and fast advice.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, it does, and the Republicans in many states are just going to the edge, pushing this to the very end, trying to limit the number of people that can vote. But at the same time, Americans are voting in droves. Seventy-five million people have already cast their ballot.

And as you said at the beginning of the show, people have got to vote and vote now. We've seen increased COVID numbers in a number of states, so go out there tomorrow and vote. Either bring in your mail-in ballot if you have it, figure out where you need to go, or go in there with so many states having early voting right now and do it that way.

And that's one of our number one messages, especially when we see COVID on the rise as you pointed out in Texas, next door in Wisconsin. And I've just been so heartened by what people are doing out there -- learning the rules, helping each other to vote, and certainly this bodes well for Joe Biden. You know he's leading in so many states.

I'm so excited that he's doing so well in the middle of the country, working to the end. And Donald Trump, to me, he's on defense right now. And when he gets on defense, he gets meaner than mean. And he is going out there and trying to discredit our democracy, and I don't think the people are going to stand for it.

They're ready for change, and they're ready to have a president with competence and compassion in the White House. That's what I see around my state.

MADDOW: Senator Amy Klobuchar of the great state of Minnesota -- Senator, thanks to you and your colleagues for putting this out. I thought this was even-handed and clear. It's a nice touchstone, I think, for people to be able to like get realistic, calm information about what's otherwise going to be a fraught week.


MADDOW: Thanks for being here.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. Thanks.

MADDOW: All right. There's so much going on. It's sometimes easy to forget that we've already had major cases of allegedly criminal voter intimidation in multiple states and foreign interference this month.

And because this year is this year, both of those instances just got crazier, we've got, I think, important updates on both of those stories coming up for you next.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Earlier this month, we reported here on a disturbing voter intimidation campaign that was allegedly carried out by two Trump supporters who have a long history of right-wing stunts and outrageous false claims. In August this year, registered voters in Detroit, Michigan, most of them African-American, started receiving a phone call, a robocall, which was full of claims that are absolute bullpucky from top to bottom.

This was the call.


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. None of that is true. None of that is true.

Voting by mail in Michigan or anywhere else does not actually put your personal information out there anywhere for the police department or credit card companies or the CDC, who is going to come track you down and inject you with a vaccine by force. None of it. None of it is true. It's all false, and it's disgusting.

And sending people robocalls that tell them that's what will happen if they vote, that's likely very, very, very illegal.

Well, a couple of weeks ago here on the show, we spoke with Michigan's attorney general the day that her office filed felony charges against the two men named at the top of that robocall, felony charges all related to the crime of intimidating voters.

It turned out this robocall did not just go out in Detroit. It went out in lots of cities, especially in lots of districts in cities with mostly black voters -- Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia. The indictment in Michigan claimed that as many as 85,000 mostly black voters got these trash calls in multiple states.

Well, now update. Following on those felony charges in Michigan, these same two guys have also just been indicted in Ohio since that same robocall apparently went to registered voters in Cleveland as well.

Also today -- ask this is kind of amazing -- a civil case was brought by civil rights groups who are suing these guys for allegedly sending out these intimidating calls. This is in addition to the felony charges they're facing in two states. In that civil case brought by civil rights groups, a federal judge in New York has now ordered these two pro-Trump guys to send out a new robocall to all of the tens of thousands of people who received the original one, and they have to do it right away, now, before the election.

The judge even wrote the script for this new robocall he is ordering them to do.

According to the judge's order today, the corrective call from these guys must say this. Quote, at the direction of the United States district court, this call is intended to inform you that a federal court has found that the message you previously received regarding mail-in voting from Project 1599, a political organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, contained false information that has had the effect of intimidating voters and thus interfering with the upcoming presidential election in violation of federal voting rights laws.

These two guys who allegedly sent out the intimidating robocalls to black voters, they have to provide proof to this federal judge by close of business tomorrow that they have sent out this new robocall taking it all back, explaining that the courts have called this voter intimidation and it was an illegal attempt to interfere in the election. They've got to that. They've got to tell the court they've done that by close of business tomorrow or they'll be facing new contempt charges.

So, watch this space on that one.

But this is now officially crazy season. Things are getting weird fast on a number of different fronts. You will also recall that last week, Trump's appointed director of national intelligence, former Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe, not held in high esteem by his colleagues or by anyone in the intelligence community as far as we can tell, John Ratcliffe held an emergency press briefing that was in equal parts scary and inexplicable.

Ratcliffe announced that Iran was behind a bunch of emails that had been sent to Democratic voters in multiple states. The email said they were from a violent pro-Trump white supremacist group called the Proud Boys. The messages were spooky because they contained Democratic voters' full names and home addresses, and it threatened these voters that if they didn't vote for Donald Trump, the Proud Boys would know it, and they would come after them. Again, it includes voters' real home addresses.

Well, Trump's intelligence chief, John Ratcliffe, announced these emails had been orchestrated by Iran. Then he said something truly odd. He said Iran had done this to, quote, damage President Trump, which made no sense, right? Threatening emails sent to Democratic voters to scare Democratic voters into voting for Donald Trump or else -- those were designed to hurt Donald Trump? How does that work? Why did he say that? What could that possibly mean?

Well, today we got our answer. Trump's director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, he apparently just made that part up. This is from the excellent reporter Natasha Bertrand at, tonight. Quote, the reference to Trump was not in John Ratcliffe's prepared remarks about the foreign election interference as shown to and signed off on by FBI Director Chris Wray and senior homeland security cybersecurity official Chris Krebs. Wray and Krebs stood behind Ratcliffe supportive of the general intention to alert voters to a malicious influence operation, but according to two senior administration officials, they were surprised by Ratcliffe's political aside, which had not appeared in the prepared text.

He made it up. He ad-libbed. He just blurted that out in the middle of what had otherwise been prepared for him to say.

Good to know that the director of national intelligence just flat-out makes stuff up that appears to be diametrically false while otherwise warning the public about voter intimidation operations. I mean, between intimidation by the president's allies in the form of these racist robocalls and the administration being the opposite of straight with us about foreign interference and Republican officials at all levels trying to make it harder to vote or top votes from being counted, American voters this year, we are up against a lot.

But one of the most experienced and powerful defenders of voters in this country against all those forces and more is and has been the NAACP legal defense fund. And they are right in the middle of one of these red-hot fights right now in a way that is turning up all sorts of useful information to the public that we didn't have before. Their president Sherrilyn Ifill joins us next.


MADDOW: As I mentioned at the top of the show, there is a court case brought by the NAACP fighting what the Trump administration has done to mess up the post office. That case has turned up some stunning information about how much damage they've done. On-time delivery rates for the mail down in the 50 percent and 60 percent range and sometimes even worse in some of the most important Democratic voter strongholds in some of the most important swing states in the election just as everybody's been mailing in their ballots. It's now too late to mail in your ballot. If you still have a ballot, you have to bring it in, in person.

I have to tell you that case, that NAACP case has done more than reveal the extent of the problem. Judge Emmet Sullivan, who has been overseeing that case, has also now ordered the Trump administration to reverse all the postal service changes they implemented that screwed up the mail so bad. And he's being really specific about it.

Look at this from his order. Quote, the guidelines regarding the use of late and extra trips are rescinded. USPS personnel are instructed to perform late and extra trips to the maximum extent necessary to increase on-time mail deliveries, particularly for election mail. To be clear, late and extra trips should be performed to the same or greater degree than they were performed prior to the summer of 2020, when doing so would increase on-time mail deliveries. Any prior communication that is inconsistent with this instruction should be disregarded.

He is rescinding the changes at the Postal Service that screwed up the mail and ordering the postal service to give new directives to all postal workers, telling postal workers that they now need to do whatever it takes to get the mail delivered on time, particularly when it comes to election mail.

Not only did the judge order the post office to issue that new order to their workers verbatim, he also ordered them to make sure that all relevant postal service personnel must receive that order either as a one-page notice or as a stand-up talk.

Like I said, just remarkable stuff. It is still too late to trust your ballot to the Postal Service. But in terms of trying to force the Post Office to actually deliver election mail right up until the wire, this is as direct as the courts can get. And none of this would have been possible were it not for the work done by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, who in their tireless efforts to protect the right to vote brought this case before the court.

Joining us now is Sherrilyn Ifill. She's president and director counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Ms. Ifill, it's an honor to have you here tonight. Thanks for being here.


MADDOW: I am -- I feel like I have sort of two equal -- not opposite, but equal and parallel thoughts on the Postal Service right now, which is they did so much damage that nobody can count on the Postal Service to get their ballot in now, between now and election day. And if you still have your ballot, you should bring it in. And also people like you seem to be sort of fixing the damage that they did to the Postal Service. It may not be in time to rescue everybody's ballots over the next few days, but it does seem like you are nailing them to the wall here.

IFILL: Well, yes, Rachel. This suit is really important, and our partners -- it's LDF, the Legal Defense Fund, and Public Citizen, and bringing suit on behalf of the NAACP. Some of this is about the mail. Some of this is just about people who need their prescription drugs, elderly people, people who count on the mail.

But with regard to the election, you're absolutely right. If you haven't already dropped your absentee ballot in the mail, you want to take it to a drop box. You want to take it to the board of elections. But all of us know -- actually put their ballot in the mail and they've been tracking it and it still hasn't arrived.

So there's still work to be done with ballots that are in transit, that are in the postal system. And this ruling by Judge Sullivan today requiring the postal service to inform their employees that they're to take extra trips, late trips, that there are people every day of the kind of information you showed earlier in the show is violate vitally important seeing that those ballots are delivered by election day.

Every vote matters. You can't give up on it and say it's too late. There are still ballots in the system that need to be delivered, and this ruling is going to help.

MADDOW: What do you think overall, sort of big picture about the level of voter intimidation and voter trickery and the other things that are being done to undermine people's ability to safely and sanely navigate the voting system and get their vote cast and counted?

It feels to me like we've had a number of very high-profile, scary intimidation tactics that have been exposed. I know that we've got a lot of people worried about things like potential violence around polling places.

How does this year compare to previous years?

IFILL: Well, I mean if you're in the business of civil rights, you've seen stuff like this before. This -- you know, I saw the top of your show yesterday. We all know about the history of voter intimidation. And if you've been a voting rights litigator, you know that it never really went away completely.

But the situation we have now is that we have an accelerant, the president, who is spreading disinformation in a climate that is extremely tense. And so when the president says things like the remarks he made today, discrediting the idea of counting votes after Election Day, as you pointed out, absentee ballots are regularly counted after Election Day. Military mail-in ballots are counted after Election Day. Provisional ballots are cured and counted after Election Day.

But when the president deliberately puts this kind of misinformation out there, essentially suggesting to his supporters that if counting is happening after Election Day, it is somehow illegitimate or illegal, he is lighting a match in an already tense situation.

We saw what happened in Michigan. The secretary of state issued a guidance and an order saying that you couldn't have unconcealed weapons in polling places. That was challenged. A judge overruled that yesterday. We've seen threats against the Michigan governor and other elected officials.

This is a very, very volatile period. People with open carry intimidating, and so we have a right to be concerned. And usually what you would have is responsible leadership attempting to tamp down that kind of conduct.

And what makes this year different is that what we have at the very top of our country is someone who is actually riling that up. And so we are worried, but fortunately so many civil rights organizations and actually many leaders in the states, including attorney generals in a number of states, are really preparing for this, are getting out ahead of it, are working to ensure that voters can feel safe, that they can cast their ballots and that those ballots will be counted.

MADDOW: Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, somebody whose work is part of the reason that people can feel assured that their votes will be cast and counted because of the work that you and your colleagues have done so tirelessly -- thank you so much for being here tonight. I have a feeling I'm going to be talking with you in days ahead, thank you so much.

IFILL: I hope so. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Last night, we highlighted a new study that shows Kansas counties that mandate that the residents wear masks have half as many new COVID cases as Kansas counties that don't mandate wearing masks.

Just clear as a bell. Mask mandates will flatten the number of new cases. If you don't have a mask mandate, you're going to have double the number of cases you'd otherwise have. That was out of Kansas.

Now researchers in Tennessee have shown the same principle applies when it comes it hospitalizations. Researchers at Vanderbilt University has just found that hospitals mostly treating patients from counties without a mask mandate saw COVID hospitalizations increase at a much steeper rate than hospitals treating patients from counties that are do have mask mandates.

Look, here's the growth in hospitalizations from June through now at hospitals in areas without mask requirements. Again, this is Tennessee. Look at how that line just shoots up in October, a more than 200 percent increase in COVID hospitalizations.

Now look at this. This is the same scale, same time frame, June through now, same Y axis, right? But this shows you that the hospitals and areas that do require residents to wear masks, well, they've had a very different experience. There's no growth in COVID hospitalizations there. It has flattened.

Again, the difference between what's on the left and the right is a mask mandate. Look, side by side, on the left without mask mandates. On the right, with mask mandates. It's very simple.

It is a blessing that the science is so simple and so clear on this point. It's just a question of whether or not we're actually going to do anything about it.

Do that point, we have recently reported on North Dakota, which has the worst outbreak in the country now. The North Dakota state capital of Bismarck has only two hospitals between them and they've been reporting one or two ICU beds available for the whole city. Just last night, the Bismarck City Commission finally did act to try to turn those numbers around.

The commission passed a countywide mask mandate for the first time, in a 3-2 vote. Now, it's a weak one. There's no penalty for defying that mandate. But they're trying. Watch this space. Also, watch those stats.



BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Last week when Trump was asked if he'd do anything differently, you know what he said? He said, not much. not much.

Really? Not much? You can't think of anything that you might be doing differently? Like maybe you shouldn't have gone on TV and suggested we might inject bleach to cure COVID?

He had no problem --


MADDOW: Former President Barack Obama has been having what appears to be the time of his life on the campaign trail for Joe Biden recently. Tonight, we learned that President Obama's going to make a joint appearance with Joe Biden on Saturday on Halloween in Michigan, just three days before this election comes to a close.

You will recall that Obama and Biden handily carried Michigan in 2008 and in 2012, whereas Donald Trump eked out a win in 2016 there by 10,000 votes. Well, Obama and Biden will be together in Michigan on Saturday.

All right. That's going to do it for us tonight. See you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.


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