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tv   Alex Witt Reports  MSNBC  August 7, 2021 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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i will see you at 6:00 eastern and noon eastern. joe fryer continues our coverage. ♪ ♪ good day from msnbc world headquarters in new york. welcome to "alex witt reports." i'm joe fryer. alex is off. here is what is happening at 2:00 p.m. eastern, 11:00 a.m. pa civic. we begin with the latest on the coronavirus pandemic and a live look at south dakota where bikers are garthering by the thousands for the annual sturgis motorcycle rally. bikers are coming from all around the u.s., and officials fear it has the potential to become a superspreader event for the highly transmissible delta variant. the new warning in texas. modelling by the university of texas shows the austin, travis county area, could exceed icu bed capacity by tomorrow. the rising number of cases led officials to close an emergency room last night. the number of infections across the country has been trending
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upward since the beginning of july. florida set another new record in the last 24 hours, adding more than 23,000 new cases, the highest number there in a single day. political disputes over mask mandates rage on as students prepare to go back to school. >> governor desantis has done is purposely divided our public. he has made this a political issue. while the biden administration seems to be trying to sort of fight the virus, he's insistent on fighting them. it has become almost impossible to get people to get vaccinated, to wear masks because half of our population thinks that if they do that they're -- you know, it is an expression of support for or against a political party or a candor an office holder. >> nbc's stephanie stanton live from a back-to-school event in tampa. stephanie, florida is in the middle of all of this. what are you hearing from parents right now? >> reporter: well, joe, it is good to be with you. we are actually here outside raymond james stadium, and that
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is where that big back-to-school event just wrapped up. thousands of people came here, getting supplies. they were even doing covid shots. in terms of florida, of course, as you reported, florida is one of the hot spots for coronavirus. in fact, the florida department of public health just reported that more than 134,000 new cases of coronavirus have been reported here across the state just in the past week with 175 deaths. it is a grim milestone. nevertheless, the debate over mask mandates continues as millions of florida school children are expected to head back to the classrooms this week. last week governor desantis signed an executive order that essentially prevents school districts from mandating masks. now, he says, the governor says that he signed that to give the control back to parents, giving them the choice. he even threatened to pull funding from some local school districts if they did not comply. well, here in hillsborough
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county, this is tampa, this is hillsborough county, we did speak to the superintendent earlier this morning. he told us about what his district is planning on doing. >> there are statutory requirements passed on july 1 that gives the parents the choice to select what is best for their learner, every single day, especially in an educational setting. we will continue to value our parents and the same thing, have all of the mitigation strategies we can to keep them safe within hillsborough county. >> and the superintendent announcing that today he plans to let the public know that he will mandate masks in hillsborough county schools. however, with that caveat that parents still have the option to opt out. he says that parents will have to fill out a form stating explicitly they do not want their child to wear a mask. he feels that that will satisfy the governor's mandate, you know, making sure that parents still have the choice, but yet he wants to keep kids safe.
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so, again, there's a lot -- you know, a lot of people on both sides here in the state of florida, and we did talk to some parents here. a couple we talked to said their kids will absolutely bewaring masks. here is what some of them had to say. >> she's definitely going to wear a mask if that's what she has to do, and i feel more protected with her wearing it. >> it should not be mandated, same as vaccines. some people feel comfortable taking the vaccine, others don't. >> reporter: now, here in the sunshine state in terms of vaccinations, the latest numbers indicating that some 63% of floridians over the age of 12 are now fully vaccinated with about 70% receiving at least one shot. but when you lump in the children, when you look at all floridians across the board, that number drops to 49%. that is what a lot of people are concerned about, joe, is the fact that kids under 12 still cannot get vaccinated. parents are concerned and, in fact, there was a federal lawsuit that was just filed on friday in the southern district
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of florida here by some 27 plaintiffs on behalf of parents who have children with disabilities, and they say that by not mandating mask use in schools here in the state of florida that their children are being put at risk. these are special needs children who maybe can't wear a mask. so, again, the debate over mask wearing continues as kids are about to head back to the classrooms. >> all right. stephanie reporting from tampa. stephanie, thanks so much. the biden administration is considering using federal powers in the fight against the delta variant. nbc's mike memoli is in delaware. we have learned throughout the panned, the states, the governors have a lot of power. how is the white house responding to some of the republican governors refusing to bring back mandates or even preventing some local officials from putting them in place? >> reporter: yeah, joe. unfortunately, since even the earliest days of this pandemic mask wearing has been a highly politicized issue. it was really one of the defining contrasts in last year's campaign between
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then-president trump and candidate joe biden. we saw when president biden was inaugurated he encouraged americans in his first 100 days to mask up as he put it. the president was also among the first to celebrate when the cdc issued guidance in may saying those fully vaccinated no longer needed to wear a mask. the challenge the white house is facing now that we have the cdc guidance in light of the new delta variant, that is encouraging many municipalities, local jurisdictions to wear masks again depending on the spread there, is it is hard to go backwards. but the white house has been clear that they are encouraging local jurisdictions, school districts, state governments even to impose these mask mandates as they see fit. but then you have a governor like ron desantis who, as the white house says, needs to get out of the way when local governments are trying to do it and he is blocking it. there's been a real war of words from the white house this week, and we heard this from jen psaki at the podium just yesterday. take a listen. >> well, i think i have spoken to this a few times, but i will
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say as a parent myself of two young children that i want public health officials to make decisions about how to keep my kids safe, not politicians. not only is governor desantis not abiding by public health decisions, he's fundraising off of this. >> reporter: now, joe, the white house has been very quick to praise republican governors. we heard the president do this yesterday of larry hogan of maryland, asa hutchinson of arkansas, mark dewine of ohio who they say have been doing the right thing in terms of their approach to the covid pandemic. when you add these mask mandate prohibitions that some governors are trying to impose with what we are already seeing, which is lower vaccination rates in a lot of these southern republican-leaning states, it really poses a challenge to the white house that they're really having a hard time confronting. >> all right. mike memoli reporting from delaware. mike, thank you so much. joining me now is msnbc medical contributor dr. blackstock, the founder and ceo of advancing health equity.
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dr. blackstock, always good to have you on. you know, dr. fauci warned this week a more severe covid variant could emerge as the average number of daily cases now reaches 100,000 a day. he said things are going to get worse. so, dr. blackstock, we're starting to hear about a new variant, the lambda variant. how worried should we be about the threat of these new potentially worse variants? >> well, joe, thank you so much for having me. as dr. fauci mentioned, when there is widespread transmission of coronavirus variants evolve and are created. so this most recent variant, the lambda variant, was essentially identified in south america, more specifically in peru, and has dominated a lot of the cases in that country and the rest of south america. right now it is still considered or classified rather as a variant of interest, meaning that it has some genetic markers that may indicate that it is more transmissible or may cause more severe disease.
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there's no lab or clinical data yet, and that's really what we need to elevate it to variant of concern. but whether it is lambda or another variant that evolves, you know, as long as we do not fully vaccinate the rest of this country and the rest of the world we do have to have serious concerns about variants evolving. >> let's be clear right now. the most appreciating issue is the delta variant, and to dr. fauci's point things are going to get worse, i mean in your mind what could that look like, especially in hard-hit places like florida? i mean how much worse could this get in the next few weeks and months? >> you know, i think it could get exponentially worse. we saw what the delta variant did in india and in the uk in terms of essentially ripping through the population of people who are unvaccinated. i think we haven't even seen the tip of the iceberg yet. when we enter the fall people will head indoors more frequently. there will be colder, dryer weather, which the virus likes and spreads more easily in.
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so those are things we have concerns about. and then students, they're returning to school for full in-person learning. these are congregate settings, high-risk settings. although schools in the past year were not shown to be key drivers of infection, we know that when community transmission rates are high, then schools can also contribute to that spread as well. >> i want to ask you about this new article in "the boston globe" that got our attention. i moan the headline reads, "lying about vaccination status. crossing state lines. pretending to forget id. some people are going to intense lengths to get unauthorized covid booster shots." we know right now boosters are not something that the cdc is encouraging or pushing for at this point. what concerns you most about articles and stories like this? >> yeah. you know, i do have concerns about this. i think there are moral and ethical implications to this one. two, i think there are public health implications.
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we don't even have guidance yet on whether the general population has been fully vaccinated should be receiving boosters. then, of course, the global vaccine inequity piece, people are trying to get third boosters that are not indicated when the rest of the world is waiting to be vaccinated. so, you know, really those are my concerns, and i hope that this is not a pattern that we're going to continue to see. >> let's talk about masks. the cdc has said students should wear masks when school resumes for the fall semester. some kids already back in school this past week. some places are implementing that on a state and local level, but other areas like florida aren't able to mandate masks for kids, though we are starting to see some florida school districts try to defy the order. dr. blackstock, what should school districts and state governments know about covid in younger people right now as they try and make these decisions? i mean for your kids, will your own children bewaring mask when they get back to the classroom? >> yes, i have a 4 and 6 year old and they will be starting school in a few weeks shall and
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they will absolutely bewaring a well-fitted, high-quality mask to school. the fact is children under 12 years old have not been vaccinated. they are still at risk of being infected. they are still at risk for spreading disease. we don't know the picture yet on the impact of long covid in children. so they're incredibly vulnerable. i think that right now given that almost the entire country is either substantial or high transmission viral activity, it is indicated in most places in the country that schools should be wearing -- or instituting mask mandates. i think that's at a minimum. i even do think that vaccine mandates within schools should also be considered at some point. i think that will also help to reduce cases as well. >> noting your kids not just wearing masks but well-fitted, high-quality masks. dr. blackstock, as always, thank you so much. appreciate you taking the time this weekend. breaking news out of california, you are looking at satellite video of the nation's
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biggest wildfire, the dixie fire. it is causing thick clouds of smoke affecting air quality as far as the midwest. nbc's steve patterson is in the devastated town of greenville, california, about three-and-a-half hours northeast of sacramento. steve, tell us where things stand with the fire right now. >> reporter: joe, i know in your time covering fire, out west you and i both know that it is rare that containment on a fire actually drops. that's what happened overnight. it was more than 30% when we left it last night. it is now 21% after some new modelling came in. when you are talking about a fire now burning more than 440,000 acres, a third the size of rhode island, numbers like that don't make much difference against the size that they're dealing with on multiple fronts, almost a theater of war apart. the story line today, you can probably see it behind me, is this awful visibility. there's a layer of wildfire smoke, almost like a snow globe that we're just sitting in, which is good in a few ways.
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it is good for the weather system because there's no wind pushing the fire to a new front, but it is bad obviously for air quality. almost impossible to make air drops in something like this. meanwhile, back here in greenville, this is a city that's been destroyed. 75% of all structures gone. more than 100 homes at least all gone. behind me, this is actually the sheriff's substation, one of many buildings charred and burned to the ground here. we spoke to the sheriff in front of this building. he gave us an update on the number of missing. we will talk about that after the jump. but also just his community, he lives here, he grew up here. here is what he said about the heartbreak citizens are going through right now. >> it is devastating. it has been a long few days to try to process all of this. i don't know that i still have processed it. i just try to keep myself so busy that i guess i really can't, and i still have other communities that are being threatened by this fire. so it is -- yeah, i don't know.
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there's -- i'm -- i was born in greenville, a 5-year resident except for when i went into the air force for a few years. so there's a ton of memories here. there's a ton of memories in this substation where i worked with a lot of amazing men and women. >> reporter: and some good news from the sheriff. the number of unaccounted for was as high as eight last night. he had just gotten off the phone when i spoke with him. that has now dropped to just one person unaccounted for. of course, that number fluctuates up and down as they get reports incoming. again, the story line today is this air that is hanging with the smoke. it should help firefighters get a little bit better of a handle on it, but, again, it is burning in such a large area, they have a lot of progress, a lot of lost ground to make up for. joe. >> all right, steve patterson reporting from just an eery scene in california. thank you so much. the debate clock is running on capitol hill. senator tina smith joins me to
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now to breaking news. the second special legislative session is underway right now in texas. voting rights are expected to be the main focus as republicans there try again to pass that restrictive election law. the 57 house democrats who fled the state weeks ago in an effort to block that law have not returned for today's session. one of those state lawmakers told msnbc earlier how critical their time in d.c. has been as they pushed for federal action on voting. >> the record is clear. if you want to know how to suppress the vote, look at texas. what has been really great about these 30 days is we've been able to tell senators, whose jaws have dropped, what we've been facing in texas during the last decade. this isn't old time stuff. it is happening digital and contemporary and real-time in texas, and we need to stop it with national standards that protect the freedom to vote for
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people. we are following breaking news on capitol hill. last hour a vote moving the bipartisan infrastructure package has moved one step closer to the finish line. a live report from the hill in a minute. first, you may remember the fundraising strategy used by donald trump using recurring donations. ""the times" is reporting that it led to millions of refunds this year. newly released records show trump, the republican party and their shared accounts returned $12.8 million to donors in the first six month of the year. this comes following reports trump has built up a $102 million political war chest. also new today, another republican has been added to the january 6th select committee staff. former gop congressman denver riggleman is joining as a senior technical adviser. he tweeted this video stressing how the investigation is not a
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matter of partisan politics. >> we can't worry about the color of the jerseys anymore or whether we have an "r" or a "d" next to our name. it is time for us to look in a fact-based way at what happened on january 6th. >> let's go to nbc's ali vitali on capitol hill. we want to talk about the bipartisan infrastructure bill. where do things stand there right now? >> reporter: at a little bit of a standstill, joe. you are right we saw key procedural vote happen just over the course of the last few hours during this rare saturday session here in the senate. that vote is going to allow them to move forward procedurally on to 30 hours of debate. that effectively takes the senators down the longer path to get to an eventual vote on this bipartisan infrastructure bill. simultaneously though here in the halls of congress, senators are negotiating for a faster track option, effectively trying to get all 100 senators on board with the process that would allow them to shrink down the numbers of hours of debate, figure out what amendments they're going to elevate as things that need to be debated here.
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that could be the faster way to get to the ultimate vote on this bipartisan bill. senate majority leader chuck schumer laid it out this way. it is going to happen. it is just a matter of if they take the easy path, which is the shorter path, or the hard path, which is the longer path that we've seen them kind of beginning to trudge down here on this saturday. other senators though seeming to echo that sentiment from schumer, of. listen for example to debbie stabenow last hour with our colleague. >> we know the final outcome is going to be, i believe, that votes are there for this. certainly the american people have waited long enough for infrastructure week! so we are -- you know, at this point i don't see what the republicans that are objecting gain other than if they just don't want to see the president succeed and they don't want to see us address the problems that the american people want us to tackle. >> reporter: joe, she is right about one thing. i have been covering
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infrastructure weeks in washington for years now. this is certainly -- and you can feel it on both sides as you talk to sources. this is certainly as close as they have gotten to actually getting something done on infrastructure. so, really, it is a matter of an artificial clock on this process right now. there is a fast way to do it, there's a slower way to do it that could likely stretch into next week. really, the only clock they're coming up against, joe, is the fact they're supposed to go on recess in the senate next week. really it is up to lawmakers to figure out at what point that actually happens. >> all right. another long week. ali vitali, thank you so much. appreciate it. joining me is senator tina smith, democrat from minnesota, my home state. good to have you with us. i know you are fresh off presiding over the senate floor. we saw you in the video earlier this afternoon. how confident are you this bill will be passed in the senate this weekend? when do you think we could see the final vote and infrastructure week finally comes to an end? >> well, infrastructure week has turned into infrastructure weekend, and as my colleague,
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senator stab now, said at this point it is just a matter of time. 67 senators voted to wrap this up and to move forward. as debbie said, it is just a matter of how much longer that takes. i don't think we're going to see any significant changes or any amendments that blow everything out of the water over the next many hours. you know, this is the way the senate rules work. i think it is actually a pretty good example of why the senate rules need to be reformed, that just a handful of senators can slow down progress for the american people. that's what is happening, but we're going to get through it and we're going to get this done. >> ali just mentioned you are on the longer path right now. there's the faster option. do you think you can get to the faster option? >> well, i certainly hope so. what is happening right now is that democrats and republicans are negotiating to try to come to some agreement about what amendments we take up and whether there's a way of expediting this timeline that we're on. it is clearly in everybody's interest, and i think the american people -- i know people in minnesota are watching and saying, okay, let's get this
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show on the road, let's get this done. but at the end of the day, we're going to wrap this up and we're going to pass legislation with strong bipartisan support that is going to make significant improvements in roads and bridges and broadband and airports and adding electric charging stations and supporting electric buses to address our climate challenges. all of these things are broadly popular, and it is understood in my state, in our state, joe, how much they're needed. we just have to get it done. >> so after this vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, how quickly do you expect lawmakers to try to move forward with that $3.2 trillion reconciliation bill, the so-called human infrastructure? >> so the next thing is to pass the democrat's budget resolution to move through this arcane senate process called reconciliation, but basically what that means is that we will be able to pass with democratic votes, because we don't have republican votes, additional really important legislation to
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support child care, to provide the biggest middle class tax cut we have seen in this country for decades, and to do something that i am very focused on, which is to move us towards a really transformational clean energy future. all of this, again, is broadly popular. we are going to pass that budget resolution before we leave town. i also believe we are going to have votes on voting rights. we just saw a little bit about that on your program before i got on. many of us are looking forward to being able to vote again to show our support for stopping these highly restrictive voter suppression laws we are seeing in places like texas and georgia. >> with the reconciliation bill you need all 50 democratic senators. do you believe the moderates are on board right now? >> we have a lot of negotiating to do, but the key thing is that this budget resolution just puts out a framework for where the investments will be. and then in august and september
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we will be negotiating on the details of that. i am confident that the democrats will come together to get that passed, and then we will just keep working on it. >> senator pelosi has said the house won't vote on the bipartisan bill until a reconciliation package is ready. this has been a balancing act all along. do you fear that one could jeopardize the other right now? >> no, i'm confident that the two need to go together. they are, you know, bound at the hip. they need to be chained together. many of us who are very excited about the reconciliation bill are supporting the infrastructure bill because we know that the two things are going to come together. so i think speaker pelosi is absolutely right. the american people need all of this work to get done. this is the moment to get it done, and as the senate and the house works together, the timing of this will be organized so both bills will get passed and both bills will get the signature of the president. >> senator tina smith from minnesota. thanks so much for joining us. we appreciate it.
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a former staffer of andrew cuomo files a sexual assault criminal complaint with authorities in albany. what investigators said about the case just a short time ago, next. at usaa, we've been called too exclusive. because we were created for officers. but as we've evolved with the military, we've grown to serve all who've honorably served. no matter their rank, or when they were in. a marine just out of basic, or a petty officer from '73. and even his kids. and their kids. usaa is made for all who've honorably served
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now to breaking news. the criminal complaint filed against new york governor andrew cuomo, the first criminal investigation of his alleged conduct is under way in albany. the sheriff confirmed receipt of a complaint alleging criminal conduct of a sexual nature against the governor. reaction from the new york attorney general's office, officials say they will cooperate fully with the albany sheriff and turn overall related evidence. governor cuomo is disputing the allegations. he has challenged the accounts of women identified in the attorney general's report and he is not charged with a crime. nbc news correspondent kathy park joins us from albany. what more can you tell us about the latest developments? >> reporter: hey, joe. good afternoon to you. so we know that the woman, still an unidentified woman, right now just labeled as executive
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assistant number one according to the a.g. report, came to the sheriff's department on thursday and filed this complaint. according to the a.g. report she alleges that the governor reached under her shirt and touched her inappropriately, something that the governor has vehemently denied. the sheriff, we heard from him not too long ago, said that he felt comfortable calling her a victim and commended her for coming forward and sharing her story at such a difficult time. this is still very much in the early stages of the investigation. the victim will have to sit down with the sheriff's department again for further questioning, and the sheriff's department said that they will be linking up with the d.a.'s office as well as they move forward. here is more from the sheriff. take a listen. >> i can tell you that i had a female victim come forward which had to be the hardest thing she has ever done in her life, and make an allegation of criminal conduct against the governor. i think as far as the sheriff's office, i am elected as well. i think that we have a proven record in this area, in this
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region of helping people, taking care of people, and i think that's what we're supposed to do with law enforcement. i think that's what we're supposed to do in government, is take care of people. i have a young lady that came in who is alleging she was victimized and we are going to do everything in our powers to help her. >> reporter: and, joe, obviously this is a very high-profile investigation, and the sheriff said that the governor will not be treated any differently. the a.g. also responded quickly after this press conference wrapped up, saying that they will turn over all evidence related to the complainant. meanwhile, reporters pressed the sheriff about potential charges. the sheriff said it is preliminary at this point, but a misdemeanor charge is a possibility, and beyond that a possible arrest. once again, still very early as far as getting more information about the complaint, which has not been released at this point by the sheriff's department. meantime, joe, i think it is interesting because less than a mile away from where this press conference was taking place, the
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governor was spotted at the governor's executive mansion, preoccupied on his cellphone. so interesting that two different things were playing out at the same time. then come monday, it is going to be interesting here in albany because the judiciary committee will be meeting here to discuss potential impeachment proceedings, and the governor has a deadline for friday to submit any evidence in his defense. joe. >> all right. kathy park reporting from albany. kathy, thank you. new concerns from governor cuomo's lawyers. they're calling for transparency from the new york attorney general's office, asking officials the release transcripts related to their investigation. >> said that the assembly wants to move forward, to the extent they want to move forward with impeachment you now have an impossible standard for us because we are not given access to the evidence. >> joining us new york state senator todd kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor and former
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acting deputy chief at the u.s. attorney's office for the eastern district of new york. he is now running for district attorney in long island's nassau county. first of all, is the governor's team likely to get access to trans scripts as the process plays out? if so, how soon? do they have a point? >> it is important to remember this isn't a court of law. this is a process that is now headed toward a vote by the assembly of impeachment. i think the problem with the governor's position with his attorneys is, you know, you can certainly try to poke holes in a given story. you can say you weren't treated fairly, but the evidence that the attorney general presented and the picture that her investigators painted was really overwhelming. we are talking about 11 victims, corroborating witnesses, other types of evidence, and it all really painted a damming picture. i think you are asking legislators and, frankly, voters to believe it was a giant
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conspiracy of, you know, 11 different victims who happen to be collecting evidence years before this along with really evilly motivated prosecutors and other politicians. i'm from a purple area of long island, and the people i'm talking about aren't buying it. if they had given the governor the benefit of the doubt before, they certainly aren't now. of course, the governor has the opportunity, we can't forget, to go and speak about this whenever he wants, however he wants. he has a bully pulpit. if there's something he wants to say, he could say it. i think it rings hollow to voters and new yorkers to say, i want the transcripts. >> you know, we heard more about the criminal complaint in albany today. several new york county d.a.s have started investigations. do the criminal investigations change anything at all as far as you're concerned? >> well, i think they really heighten the stakes and really add to the governor's list of problems. but what it told me today was it is very clear that the sheriff believes the victim. you know, i used to do intake of
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sex crime cases, and there are cases that come in and you have lots of questions and you want to resolve them. there are cases where you just don't believe the person because they give an account that may not be believable, and then there are people that you just believe. i highly doubt -- you could also tell from his tone today, but i highly doubt that the sheriff goes out there today and makes this announcement without having that very strong feeling of belief and credulity in the victim's statement. that says a lot, but it also says that impeachment may not be the toughest thing the governor is dealing with. >> the governor consistently denies wrongdoing. he put out the video showing his interaction with people and addressed some of the allegations in the report. we heard from his attorneys yesterday. they basically believe the a.g.'s report was not fair. after hearing from his attorneys yesterday, does it give you any pause at all with moving forward or do you think things need to keep going at the rate they're going? >> look, there's no doubt if something is in the criminal
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court in that sphere that the governor deserves his day in court. like i said, the governor at any point can address these allegations. he has a microphone. he has a giant bully pulpit. he can sit and answer questions until the cows come home. the problem is his attorneys presented an account last night that made it look like this was, you know, a completely jinned up thing on behalf of evilly motivated officials including a former u.s. attorney. but also they were trying to poke holes here, poke holes there, we didn't get the notes here, there's a day that the date is off here, but they didn't address the trooper's harassment and, you know, her assault claims. they also didn't address the entire mountain of evidence. 11 witnesses, eyewitnesses, corroborating testimony. it is just a lot, and the new yorkers that i'm talking to are at this point not giving the governor the benefit of the doubt. i think all of these arguments really don't amount to a frontal, serious undermining of
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the attorney general's excellent, thorough and really well-done report. >> when it comes to the impeachment process, we know monday is a key day, but this is going to take some time. how does this process work? how will it play out in the coming weeks? how do you want it to play out? >> i think the most important thing our viewers need to know is in albany, unlike washington, impeachment means the temporary removal of the governor. the governor would not be the governor during any trial. i think what that means is the zero hour, you know, where the rubber hits the road is the moment right before the assembly would go and do that. i think that's the moment where the governor has to really decide to stay on and fight this in a prolonged trial, which may put the victims through a lot, and also as a non-governor or whether he wants to go in a different direction. but i have urged the assembly to move strongly and swiftly. the ball is in their court right now. i think they're making sure that they are, you know, trying to be as fair as they can and give the governor an ability to respond, but it looks to me that they're moving in the direction of impeachment. that's the direction they should
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be moving. >> senator kaminsky, thank you for joining us. we appreciate it. >> thanks for having me. a new round in the fight for voting rights in texas. why republicans are doubling down today. next. why republicans are doublig down today next everybody's a skeptic. paper money. it's the future! get outta here. i'm leaving with my gold. it's not crazy. help me, mother. it's an omelet. just crack an egg. ♪ someone once told me, that i should get used to people staring. so i did. it's okay, you can stare. when you're a two-time gold medalist, it comes with the territory.
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yep... everything hurts. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ breaking news out of texas. another special session just it did not meet quorum without democrats. republicans want to eye dress a controversial election bill. nbc's jay gray is live in austin. jay, what does the process look like now without quorum? what happens next? >> reporter: yeah, joe, what happens right now is the waiting game continues. as you talked about, they gavelled in the second special session of the summer here in austin, and then without much ado left because there was no quorum at this point. they will continue to try to reach that quorum, and the governor has said he will call as many special sessions as necessary over this election legislation. let's boil it down to its simplest points. republicans say it is going the make elections harder to rig,
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harder to cheat during an election. democrats are saying that it suppresses votes, especially black and latino voters here in the state of texas, and right now most of those democratic representatives have left and gone to washington where they feel like they can do more good for texas voters when it comes to the issue. >> we did not make quorum today at the capital in texas because we were not participate in the republican effort to restrict and limit the freedom of texans to vote. that's what is happening here. this is a coordinated national attack on our voting rights, and we need congress to act at a federal level to protect those rights. >> reporter: yeah, and, look, a lot of the texas democrats feel like they may see something this week from washington that would even supersede what is happening here. so they're working and waiting for that in washington. understand though, joe, a lot of these folks have been away from
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their families for a month, away from their other jobs for a month. you know, you can't make a living being a state lawmaker in texas so a lot of them have other jobs. that's beginning to wear on this group. they say whatever they do, they will do it together, and right now they plan on staying at least through the week in washington. >> yeah, jay, any idea -- i mean eventually something has to give here. how long do they plan to stay in d.c.? at what point do they think they might have to return? >> reporter: yeah, no, you're absolutely right. i think that maybe by the end of this week we will see them start to give way a little bit. they say they're not only waiting for something to happen in washington, but they want a sign from the governor that he will at least negotiate here. to this point they just don't have that. the democrats know once they come back, once they enter the chambers here, the fight is in essence over. they don't have the votes necessary to stop this bill from going through with the republicans holding the majority in both the house and the senate. they'll do whatever they can to delay it, but, joe, ultimately they understand they will have
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to come back and this will have to be worked out. >> jay gray reporting from austin. jay, thanks so much. the top moments at the tokyo games from someone who knows what it is like to be on the winner's podium. stay with us. ay with us pad that protects differently. with two rapiddry layers. for strong protection, that's always discreet. question your protection. try always discreet. [sfx: psst psst] allergies don't have to be scary. spraying flonase daily stops your body from overreacting to allergens all season long. psst! psst! all good what are you wearing, dog? they're pants, dog. no, these are pants, dog.
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that's why we're building 5g right, that's why there's only one best network. right now it is nearly 4:00 a.m. in tokyo where athletes are resting for the final day of the summer olympics. team usa is on top with 108 medals followed by china with 87. the russian olympic committee, great britain and japan round out the top five. the u.s. women's water polo team won gold for the third olympics in a row, beating spain, 14-5. team member ashley johnson is the first african-american woman to make a u.s. olympic water polo team. first-time olympian golfer nelly korda won gold. today the president and first
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lady will meet virtually to congratulate them on their accomplishments. joining me to talk about the highlights is former u.s. national soccer team goalie brianna scurry. i believe you graduated from a high school just down the road from mine. so a little bit of connection there. >> wow. >> good to have you with us. you said one of your favorite moments from this year, and one of mine too, was the emotional moment between u.s. swimmer caeleb dressel and his family after his big win. even though it was virtual, still so powerful. describe that moment. how did you feel watching it? >> i felt so good with his victory. that first event was not his strongest and you could totally see that he was so incredibly happy and relieved. when they showed his family and him talking to them during his interview afterwards, and his just absolute emotional showing, i just -- my heart went out to him and his family. i was so excited for him.
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he is the heir apatient to michael phelps, right? he also went on to win four more gold medals individually and collectively on the team relays. so he really had phenomenal games, and i am just so happy for him and his family to have come out and done so well. >> we know he hates the michael phelps comparisons but it is hard to avoid them after the olympics he had. >> yes, it is. >> let's talk about great, gymnast simone biles. she has been a fan favorite since 2016. these olympics very different for her. what do you make of her decision to pull out to focus on her mental health and coming back at the end of getting that bronze in the balance beam? >> simone showed not only her incredible ability in her sport but also her awareness and wisdom of mental health. she knew that she didn't have the connection between her mind and her body with her sport and realized that she needed to take a step back. not only did that help protect her physically and mentally in
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her game, but also allowed her to have one of her teammates step into her place in her stead and then go on to win silver in the team competition. and then another american did win the all-around for gold. so i think simone really showed great leadership and bravery in making the right decision and also really brought mental health to the forefront and gave it more visibility that it does need. a lot of athletes, including myself, really rallied around her and supported her in her very hard decision that she had to make, but the right one for her and her team. >> we are discussing that more and more because of some of these young athletes. >> yes. >> are there any other moments that stood out to you? >> i got to tell you, right now women's basketball, they're going for their seventh olympic gold medal. i mean talk about a dynasty. absolutely an amazing team, going for their seventh gold. not only are they excellent on the court, but a lot of the women played in the wnba or do now, and they still fight for
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social justice and causes in society. so they, like the women's soccer team, have a dual mandate not only to have excellence on the court but also fight for what is right off the court. i really appreciate and respect them and wish them the best of luck this evening in going for gold. >> quickly, just your perspective. you won gold in atlanta in '96, in athens in 2004. what is it about the olympics? why is it they stand apart from the other competitions out there? >> i think for all of us the olympics are something that so many of us watched when we were young. myself, i was an 8-year-old girl sitting on the couch watching the 1980 lake placid ice hockey team. so we saw greatness on tv and we wanted to be that greatness ourselves. that put us on a trajectory to do amazing things and to have excellence in sport. i think a lot of athletes have that same experience when they were younger, and now here they are themselves being a true inspiration for younger athletes in the future. i really feel like being on the
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podium is a dream come true for so many of us, and for myself, lucky enough to be able to do it more than once. so i know when i see those athletes up there getting that medal for the first time and commenting how heavy it is and really looking at it and having that great sparkle in their eye, that's the true olympic spirit. i absolutely love seeing that, whether i'm doing it myself or watching someone else have that dream come true. >> that is one of my favorite moments, how they all say how surprisingly heavy it is. thank you for joining us. we do appreciate it. so numbers of note about who might be most interested in getting a covid booster shot, next. d booster shot, next was that your great-grandmother, keeping the family together? was that your grandfather, paving the way for change. did they brave mother nature... and walk away stronger?
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as we approach the top of the hour, here are some numbers of note when it comes to the pandemic. despite 70% of americans receiving at least one vaccine dose, the u.s. is now averaging more than 100,000 new covid cases a day, just over 107,000 to be more precise, compared to about 11,000 daily cases in late june. the fda meanwhile is soon expected to approve a booster shot for fully vaccinated americans with weakened immune systems. some 7 million people in the u.s. are immunocompromised. with the surge in delta cases coming as the school year approaches, teachers are worried. in a recent teacher survey, 78%
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said the pandemic is causing frequent stress and burnout. we're so grateful to our teachers for everything they've done during this pandemic. that will do it for me on this edition of "alex witt reports." i'm joe fryer. my friend, yasmin vossoughian, picks up our coverage from here. ♪ ♪ good afternoon, everybody. i'm yasmin vossoughian. it is a very busy saturday with breaking news happening right now on several fronts across the country. for a second stat in a row, the u.s. senate is in session, having already passed one procedural vote a few hours ago. plenty of pitfalls still lie ahead. we're live on capitol hill as the two sides try and avoid a political derailment. the number of covid cases are exploding, and, unfortunately, breaking records, as if this country doesn't have a vaccine. now fears of an outbreak have moved from summer festivals to schools where unvaccinated kids are set to start


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