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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  December 23, 2021 1:00am-2:00am PST

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top of the priority list in the new year. i think something can be worked out, but will be right back talk about how that is. all remain hopeful that something is not gonna be destroyed for something so good. thank you very much senator. >> "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. good evening, rachel. >> good evening chris. thank you, my friend. appreciate you being here. thanks at home for joining us. appreciate you being here. it is a very excite lead-up to the christmas holidays at the end of this week. so much so that i feel like the news is kind of all rushing into the off-ramp, trying to get all done before the christmas holidays are upon us. one of the stories we've been watching tonight starts in the great state of georgia amid the tidal wave of election laws and voting rights restrictions enacted over the course of this year in republican-controlled states, all these laws coast to coast, aimed at making it harder to vote, easier for republicans
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to control elections and their outcomes. one of the most insidious such laws was passed by republicans in georgia. there's a reason there was a big national controversy this year over the voting rights restrictions passed in georgia. in that big new package of restrictive voting laws that they passed in that state, republicans included a new mechanism that allows republicans to take over all the local elections boards that actually control how elections are run in georgia. and how election results are counted. this is something we've been covering as it has happened, as it has rolled out across that state. and the effect thus far is stark. because when republicans take for themselves the power to remake all the county election boards in a state, what that looks like in practice, democrats, particularly black democrats, getting thrown out, getting purged off of county elections boards, and them getting replaced with white republicans. what does that look like in
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terms of the effects on elections themselves? look no further than lincoln county, georgia. a rural county north of augusta, georgia. that county's elections board was disbanded under the new state law. once they got rid of the existing local elections board, the first order of business for the new board, appointed by republicans, was that they decided they would eliminate six of the seven voting sites in lincoln county, georgia. the proposal from the new republican-appointed board is that this rural county, with zero public transportation, needs only one polling place for the entire county. the new board says having just the one site will somehow make voting easier and more accessible. and it will eliminate the need to transport voting equipment and staff to the remaining sites. yeah you know, it's such a hassle to transport voting equipment and staff to the places where people vote. when you can just put the entire burden on the voters to transport themselves.
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that's so much easier. one local activist in lincoln county says that single proposed polling place is like 23 miles away from some voters in that county. again, there's no public transportation in that county. she says, quote, this is not about convenience for the citizens. this is about control. that's how it's going in georgia right now. this is for real. and the state of georgia really has tried to make itself ground zero for republican attacks on elections in more ways than one. georgia was the first state to pass that sweeping omnibus elections bill in the wake of the 2020 vote, as former president donald trump and his allies insisted that the 2020 election and republicans needed to change the rules to make it harder to vote and easier for republicans to control the results. republicans in georgia are really the first to heed that call. and part of the reason republicans in georgia were so primed and ready to do that was the outsized pressure trump had put on that state in particular
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in the weeks after the 2020 election to try to get republicans in that state to falsify the results, to overturn joe biden's win there. it was georgia's top elections official, their secretary of state that trump called in january, spending an hour on the phone threatening and cajoling him that he needed to find just enough votes for trump to be able to declare that, actually, he won the state. trump also personally called georgia's lead elections investigator, a nonpartisan official, urging her that she needed to find fraud in the election results. trump's white house chief of staff, mark meadows, personally flew to georgia and turned up in person with a secret service detail at the site where election results were being audited in georgia. a trump justice department official draft adler to republican leaders in georgia telling them to look into replacing the state's biden electors with a new slate of trump electors. the justice department basically wants you to do that.
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rudy giuliani took his fake election fraud road show to georgia multiple times trying to convince state republican leaders that the election had been stolen and they should therefore put trump electors to the electoral college. there was so much pressure on georgia, so many attemptses to mess with election results in georgia that a state prosecutor in fulton county has opened what is now an ongoing criminal investigation into trump and his allies over whether they illegally interfered with georgia's elections when they pressured and intimidated those elections officials to try to get them to falsify the results. that prosecutor you might remember hired georgia's top expert on racketeering and conspiracy. georgia's top expert on state rico laws to work on her team, to work on that potential case. tonight, we've got some new reporting on one particular incident that took place in the midst of that wide-ranging, multi-faceted pressure operation that was brought to bear in georgia in the wake of the 2020 election.
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we can fill in a piece of the puzzle that has really had us wondering, scratching our heads, trying to piece bits and pieces together. and this is something that we talked about before, before we sort of knew how to really explain what we were seeing. but you might remember it involves the story of one election worker, not a high-ranking person, literally a woman who was hired as a temp, temporary election worker getting paid $15, $16 an hour. she was hired in fulton county, georgia. and she, along with her family, endured a -- an unbelievable campaign of harassment and intimidation because president trump himself accused her, personally, by name, of having stolen the election from him in georgia. this story should be ringing a bell for you. we've covered it a few times now, when president trump called
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georgia's republican secretary of state to pressure him to overturn biden's win, when rudy giuliani went to the legislature to pressure them. in both instances they were fixated on an out of context video clip they insisted showed the election being stolen. they said they had video of election workers in atlanta, black election workers naturally, stuffing suitcases full of illegitimate ballots through the counting machines. they accused those election workers by name of committing crimes. on that call with georgia's secretary of state, trump used the name of one particular election worker 18 times. he called her a professional vote scammer and a hustler. trump even played the supposedly incriminating video on a big screen, on a big jumbotron, at one rally in georgia, saying that that clip showed a crime, and the crowd all stood there, rapt, staring at it, as if they could see a crime was being committed. of course, the video showed no crime, it showed nothing of the
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sort. it showed this woman, ruby freeman, 62-year-old retiree, and her daughter, a fulton county elections worker, doing their jobs. ruby freeman's daughter had asked her mom to sign up as a temp worker for election day, they were short-staffed due to covid. they were looking for people. she said, hey, mom, you should come work the election. her mom signed up as an elections worker. all that video showed was two women doing their jobs on election night, doing what they were supposed to be doing, not doing anything different than any other election workers on election night, but the trump folks decided they had these two black women on tape, a and they decided they would narrate that tape as if it showed the great crime of the century. and they put those women's names on those accusations. and once those women, ruby freeman in particular, was named as an election fraudster by president trump and rudy giuliani and all the rest, ruby freeman and her daughter and teenage grandson, even her mother, they were inundated with threats, vulgar and racist
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harassment and death threats. ruby freeman called 911 multiple times because people showed up at her house and started banging on her door. ultimately she fled her home on the advice of the fbi, and she went into hiding for months. so earlier this month we talked about this once again because we wanted to bring you the latest strange twist in the story as reported by a team of journalists at "reuters" who have been all over this story, more broadly, all over the story of election workers being harassed and threatened everywhere in the country that trump folks have been able to get their hands on them. this is from january 4th of this year. so it's two days after trump called georgia's secretary of state, pressured him to find enough votes to declare trump the winner georgia. that was the call where trump kept talking about this woman, ruby freeman, used her name 17, 18 times. two days after that call, january 4th, a random woman, a stranger, showed up on ruby freeman's doorstep and,
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according to a police report seen by "reuters," the woman claimed she had been sent by an unnamed high-profile individual. she had been sent to help mystery man. she had been sent to help mystery man because mystery man was in danger. the woman told her people were coming to her home in 48 hours, but this woman, trevian kutti, she claimed she had been sent to help, to somehow avert this thing that was going on when in 48 hours, where people were going to come to ruby freeman's house, and she was going to be in danger. now, as you can see from the "reuters" headline there, one of the things that made this story extra weird when it first emerged is that this woman, trevian kutti, appears to have been a publicist for kanye west? i don't know. a representative of mr. west has
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denied she was working for him when she showed up at ruby freeman's house. it seems more and more like a red herring. more importantly, we now know that the people involved in the incident have other connections that are far morrell to what happened here, and what it means for all of us, watching this dark turn that republicans took and that trump world took after the election when they decide they had were going to try to keep trump in power. so ruby freeman, after this woman showed up at her doorstep, saying that she was there to help, that something bad was going to happen to ms. freeman in 48 hours, ruby freeman agreed to meet with that woman at a local police station. she was so freaked out after a month of threats and harassment, that was the only place she felt safe meeting with this random stranger. because the meeting happened in a police station, part of it was caught on police body camera. "reuters" obtained that body camera footage. here's a part of that meeting as edited and subtitled by "reuters."
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>> "we didn't want to frighten you, but we had to find you within this time frame."
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"we've put in place to move you, to secure you, from what may be authorized over the next 48 hours." "i cannot say specifically what will take place, i just know it would disrupt your freedom and the freedom of one or more members of your family." this woman then tells ruby freeman she's going to put her on the phone with somebody named harrison who she describes as someone, quote, with very high-level -- someone very high-level with the authoritative powers to get you the protection that you need. you need protection, we can give you the protection. at that point miss kutti asked the police officer to move away, so we don't have the rest on tape. but ruby freeman told "reuters" that, in fact, she got on the phone as suggested with this harrison person. she said once she got on the phone with him, he and the woman in the woman with her, kutti, tried to get her to admit to committing election fraud. ruby freeman says kutti told her, quote, if you don't tell everything, you're going to jail.
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what we now know, what we can report tonight, that is when kutti showed and up told this election worker, ruby freeman, she had 48 hours to come clean or else, the person she called up and put ruby freeman on the phone with, she claimed could get ruby freeman protection, that guy on the other end of the phone was a trump campaign operative. his name is harrison floyd. we spoke with him directly. he confirms that he was the harrison on that phone call with ruby freeman. and until shortly before that phone call took place, harrison floyd was the executive director of a thing called "black voices for trump." this is not like a volunteer organization of trump fans. something just associated with the trump campaign. harrison floyd was an employee of the trump campaign. look, we got these fec records that show he was paid by the trump campaign. he got a paycheck every two weeks through november 2020. he tells us that he was the one who sent that woman, kutti, to go to ruby freeman's house in georgia in january. now mr. floyd claims he was acting as a private citizen when
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he did that. he says he was no longer on the trump payroll. he says he also never threatened ruby freeman. mr. freud tells "reuters" he received calls from people offering ruby freeman immunity if she confessed to election fraud, but he would not say who those people were or on what authority they may be able to offer her immunity from prosecution. why would she be prosecuted? she didn't actually commit election fraud. mr. floyd says he reached out to this woman, kutti, who showed up at ruby freeman's doorstep. he reached out to her because he knew her from black voices for trump events. we've made numerous attempts to reach miss kutti, but she has not responded. if you look back at that footage, you might have noticed there was another guy in the footage from the police station. there's ruby freeman sitting with her -- and kutti on the left side of the screen. there's that guy in the light-colored shirt on the right. kutti introduced him to freeman as somebody who worked for her.
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"reuters" has identified that guy as another leader in black voices for trump during the campaign who, in fact, works for the republican party in georgia. for the record, that guy tells "reuters" he was just the driver that day. he had nothing to do with the meeting. but just step back here for a moment. just appreciate what we now know happened here. so this is in the midst of what at this point is already a weeks-long pressure campaign, right, by president trump and his allies in georgia. everybody from president trump and his lawyer, rudy giuliani, everybody on down, is hyping this whackadoodle conspiracy theory about a random atlanta election worker and her being the mastermind of the crime. they're doing that in order to justify getting republican officials in georgia to overturn the election results and say that trump won. that election worker is getting threatened like you cannot believe. she is in fear for her life under an onslaught of harassment and threats.
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in the midst of that, three people involved in the trump campaign, one of whom had until recently been a high-profile trump campaign employee, another who works for the republican party, they arrange to show up at this woman's house and tried to get her to admit to election fraud because then they could protect her. and the deadline they gave her was very specific, 48 hours. well, what was in 48 hours? why was it so important that they get to her before that 48 hours was up? well, at the end of that 48 hours, remember, that conversation happened on january 4th. 48 hours after that? was the certification of joe biden's win in congress. the thing trump and his allies were trying to stop at all costs. by the way, that thing they told ruby freeman about having exactly 48 hours to come clean, according to a lawsuit miss freeman filed against a right-wing website that promoted false stories about her -- 48 hours after the visit from the trump folks, on january 6th while the rioters were storming the u.s.
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capitol in washington, a crowd also surrounded ruby freeman's house outside atlanta and shouted at her through a bullhorn. fortunately, she had already fled her home by then. we now know more. it's one thing to think about randos, people in the general public, random trump supporters, people who consume right-wing media being somehow dragged along by the rhetoric and by the doxing of individual election workers, people led to go as random people issue these threats. against election workers, right? knowing it's coming from the public. it's worrying enough. knowing it was being brought to bear on this particular woman in that super insidious way, that effort to extort her, was brought by people who were associated directly with the trump campaign. that's the kind of insane pressure that was brought to bear on regular people by this campaign that they mounted in
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the states and in washington to try to falsify the election results and keep trump in power. but, of course, it's not just georgia. it's all over. last night you might remember we took a look at how things have devolved fast and badly in the state of wisconsin where a partisan review of the 2020 election results has been set up by republicans in the state legislature. it's 100% trump people and trump appointees and stop the steal election conspiracy theorists who are running that review, 100%. even though it's being paid for by taxpayer funds in wisconsin. that wisconsin review has turned the corner from just making over-the-top, totally unsupported claims that the election must have been stolen. this election audit and the republicans supporting it in wisconsin have moved on from that to threatening that they're going to arrest election officials, and they're going to arrest the mayors of large democratic-leaning cities in
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wisconsin. because sure why wouldn't they try that? there's been no negative consequences for them with everything they've tried thus far. now there's more news along those lines from the great state of texas. this is a story broken this week by the "metro" columnist at the "austin american-statesman," bridgett grumet. she said, quote, i am worried for our democracy. so is travis county clerk dana debeauvoir, the county's tough as nails elections chief for the past 35 years, now speaking publicly about a serious threat she faced this year, an effort by texas republican attorney general ken paxton to charge her with a crime for her handling of the 2020 election. she says, quote, i don't take kindly to being threatened and feeling i can't speak back. to be clear, attorney general paxton did not succeed in his efforts. but earlier this year he tried to indict debuavoir over unlawfully obstructing a poll
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watcher, a class a misdemeanor that could bring up a year in jail. it was a pretty trumped-up charge and it did not fly, even in paxton's hand-picked venue of williamson county, known for more conservative leanings. a grand jury returned a no bill in april, meaning they refused to hand down the indictment that the attorney general asked for. it all sounds so tidy in the past tense, but debeauvoir lived through months of uncertainty. attorney general paxton pursued her, starting in november 20, and it wasn't until july she learned that the grand jury had declined to charge her. she says, quote, there was nothing i could do to defend myself except to go hire, me personally, hire private attorneys. that was $75,000 to me, debeauvoir said. travis county commissioners voted in august to reimburse her legal fees. early on she worried she might have to eat those bills. had the case gone to trial, legal costs would have reached hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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she said, quote, of course, part of the attorney general's purpose in doing that was to intimidate me and financially bankrupt me. she says, quote, it was a deliberate thing. it was a deliberate thing. and, of course, it was a deliberate thing, i'm sure, and it is part of a trend. we are seeing classic voter suppression tactics, you know, closing down all but one of the polling places in lincoln county, georgia, for example. all the changes they've passed to make it harder to register, harder to vote. we're also seeing a massive and continuing escalation of threats and harassment against elections workers at all levels all the way down to temporary day workers on election campaigns. excuse me, on election days. among other things, that's causing lots of election workers and positions low and high to quit and never want to do that kind of work again. and in wisconsin, and in texas, anywhere republicans have control, we're seeing republicans try to jail elections officials and county clerks. or at least to threaten them with that.
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dana debeauvoir, quote, it was intended to be intimidating, and try as i might, some of that was successful. she's spent 35 years running elections in travis county, texas. she is retiring next month on her birthday, the day she turns 68. she says she's retiring for personal reasons, not because the republican attorney general of texas has spent months this year trying to put her in jail and all the stress and financial strain that that entailed. but honestly, it seems like that was what intended, and honestly it couldn't have helped. joining us is dana debeauvoir, travis county's elections chief. thank you for your service to travis county, and thanks for making time tonight. we really appreciate your time. >> good evening. my pleasure. >> so let me just ask you, you've said that ken paxton's
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attempt at trying to get you indicted was intended to be intimidating and some of that was successful. i wonder if if you could take us back to the moment when you realized this was happening, when you realized what he was trying to do. >> it all began with a complaint in the counting station where a few poll watchers were claiming that they couldn't see or hear clearly enough what was going on. and their complaint was odd because they were standing right next to me in the middle of the counting station. what these people really wanted to do was hover on top of innocent election workers who were trying to do the work of processing ballots, and the poll watchers refused to wear masks. this was in the middle of a pandemic. austin was in stage 5, and there was no vaccine. so i fought back. i said, no, i'm not going to allow these election workers to be intimidated and potentially infected like that.
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so, no, you can't get that close to them without wearing a mask and without on serving some basic scientific protections. that caused a dispute with the republican party. so we entered into negotiations. and the outcome of those negotiations said that, okay, our poll watchers can get as close as they want as long as they're careful, as long as they wear masks, and we do practice social distancing. so before too long, we had worked out a compromise. there was no reason for the attorney general, ken paxton, to step in and try to intimidate. but he didn't find it very helpful that we had found a way to accommodate people and that we had insisted on masks. and so he was angry. and what better way to try to boost his stroke with his party voters than to take on the county clerk who had fought back in probably the most liberal voting jurisdiction in texas. >> and of course, grand jury
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proceedings are secret. we didn't learn about your situation until you decided to speak to the "austin american-statesman" about it. how did you learn about it? did you ever get to speak to the grand jury? how did you learn about the dispensation of this case, including the sort of remarkable fact that ken paxton appears to have brought this case to a grand jury and the grand jury said, no, we know you want us to indict her, but we're not going to? >> that is correct. it was months of not knowing what was going on. and this case was first turned down by the texas supreme court. and since then, this practice of his of individually seeking out county clerks and elections administrators has also been dismissed by the third court of criminal appeals. so, you know, this is not the way to conduct business. nevertheless, he took it before -- himself, took it before a grand jury sometime in
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the early part of this year. and i was not allowed to speak to the grand jury. i had to rely entirely on my attorneys. my attorneys were very concerned about my safety and that if i said anything, it might provoke a worse reaction at a time when he was out of control. so the only thing i could do was keep quiet, trust my attorneys, and hope that we would get through this and the chance that i would be able to clear my name. the grand jury "no-billed" me in april of this year. and i was not even given the courtesy of a notice of that until july of this year. so for a couple of months, i had been cleared and was not even notified. and it wasn't until a couple of months after that that i found out that the risk management insurance policy of the county could also reimburse me for the $75,000 i had already been out to defend myself up until indictment.
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fortunately, the no-bill meant that i was innocent and i could return to my normal life, which had, in fact, been disrupted. the thing about what attorney general ken paxton did was some of this disruption by the poll watchers and by the attorney general was successful. it slowed down our tallying. and it has influenced the texas legislature to write election laws that now seek to harm our election judges and our election workers. and that's what i fear for the future is going to be more of a problem. >> right, to the extent that they have a feedback loop of their own on this. they've suffered no consequences from any of the things that they did. they achieved some of their goals, got away with it, have gotten away with it, and have given themselves the power to do it more and worse in the future. >> that is correct. now poll watchers are no longer the eyes and ears of the people. these are partisan disrupters who have now been given, quote, free movement inside the polling place to do whatever they feel
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like they need to do to observe the election. the problem with that is that it's all very one-sided. because now election workers and election judges, who are the defenders of our democracy, who protect us, now can't do anything to protect us. they are not even entitled to a safe workplace. that makes it very difficult to get good, civic-minded people to come and help us conduct elections. so this assault on the conduct of election hurts our ability to be able to bring democracy to the people. and i am very worried about how we're going to protect those folks in the future. before i leave you with anything too negative, there are things we can do to protect them from the future, and i'm looking forward to continued work in that area. >> dana debeauvoir, travis county elections chief in texas,
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thank you for your service all these decades. thank you for fighting this at the outset. i am sorry for the backlash that you faced and that incredible fear and harassment and disruption that it was to your life to deal with it. thank you for enduring it. thank you for your service. thanks for being here tonight. >> thank you. i love elections, and we've got to keep fighting the bad ideas that are coming along. >> right on. thank you, ma'am. much appreciated. all right. we've got much more here to get to tonight. stay with us. re to get to tonight stay with us
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how do i know that you're legit? ♪ ♪ yeah, that's more like it. on january 6th did you speak with him before, during, or after the capitol was attacked? >> i'd have to go -- i -- i spoke with him that day -- after, i think after. i don't know if i spoke with him in the morning or not. i just don't know. i'd have to go back and -- i mean, i don't -- i don't know -- that -- when those conversations happened. but -- but i -- what i know is i spoke with him all the time. >> ever since the january 6th
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attack on the capitol, republican congressman jim jordan has had a hard time explaining what kinds of communication he might have had with president trump that day. he's hemmed and hawed his way through questions about it for months now. today the january 6th investigation said they're seeking an interview with congressman jordan. they said, quote, we understand you have at least one and possibly multiple communications with president trump on january 6th. we would like to discuss each such communication with you in detail. congressman jordan is the second republican member of congress from whom the investigators are seeking information. yesterday republican congressman scott perry said he won't cooperate with the investigation, he won't voluntarily testify or give them documents. the investigators responded in a statement that says, quote, if members with directly relevant information decline to cooperate and instead endeavor to cover up, the select committee will consider seeking such information using other tools. when they say "other tools," does that mean we're about to see subpoenas?
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come plsry instruments brought against sitting members of congress? that's never really happened before in an investigation like this. how would that even work? joining us is california congressman, member of the january 6th investigation, congressman adam schiff. it's nice to see you, thanks for being here. >> good to see you. >> congressman jordan tonight said on the fox news channel that he would review the request for testimony and documents that he received from your committee. he doesn't seem inclined to cooperate. if he doesn't cooperate, are you allowed to subpoena members of congress like you can subpoena other people? is there a rule about that sort of thing? can you do that? >> we can do that. there's no prohibition against subpoenaing a member of congress. in the recent past, for example, in the russia investigation, we requested two members of congress, one democrat, one republican, to come and voluntarily testify, and they did. it wasn't necessary to compel them. we certainly hoped it wouldn't be necessary to compel members here. mr. jordan indicated earlier in the year, i think he said he had
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nothing to hide, and we hoped he would, therefore, come forward. we'll find out soon enough. but that is one of the other tools that we will have to consider. >> we know from the letter to mr. jordan today, which was released publicly, that one of the things that you all want to ask mr. jordan about is about pardons. potential presidential pardons. chairman thompson wrote in his letter today, we'd also like to ask you about any discussions involving the possibility of presidential pardons for individuals involved in any aspect of january 6th or the planning for january 6th. is there any -- i know some of what you are working on is stuff that you can't talk about publicly. but because that much has been made public, can you explain to us at all what the committee means by that, what that might be in reference to? >> well, there has been reporting about the potential of pardons for people that participated in some way in efforts to overturn the election. and obviously that's of deep interest to the committee.
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because it suggests that some that were involved in the planning of january 6th understood they may be engaged in criminal activity or activity that would subject them to prosecution. so that is a very important line of inquiry. we think he has information to offer. and we hope that we'll be able to get it from him voluntarily. >> and the idea was potentially prospective pardons? don't worry about committing crimes over this venture we're all going to be part of together, if you commit any crimes, we'll make sure you get a pardon? it's not necessarily pardon offers for previous crimes that were already known or already charged? >> you know, the short answer is, i don't know. it could have been any combination of things. it could have been, hey, if we succeed in overturning the election, there will be pardons for anyone who participated. or, if we fail, then there will be a pardon on the way out the door. we simply don't know. but clearly, if people that were organizing january 6th understood that those involved may have conducted or would be about to conduct criminal activity in an effort to overturn a presidential
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election, that's something the public ought to know about, something congress ought to know about, something we should legislate against in the future. >> congressman adam schiff, member of the january 6th investigation, sir, thank you very much for your time tonight. super interesting, i really appreciate it. >> thank you. >> we've got more news ahead, stay with us.
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me too! woah, look! mom is on tv! she's amazing! (cheers) xfinity brought us together, after all! power your whole home this holiday with wifi speeds faster than a gig. click, call, or visit a store today. sing 2 we're creating a company, the complex chemistry involved in creating the active ingredient in the pill means the production takes, as i mentioned, about six to eight months. now that the pill is authorized, we will have discussions to explore how we can help them improve their manufacturing capacity even further by providing any resources that they need as quickly as pfizer gets the pills manufactured and delivered. we will be immediately providing them to states and jurisdictions for distribution. so the bottom line is, today is
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an exciting development and we applaud the american company for their innovation. we do have 10 million doses ordered, which is the largest amount of any country in the world. >> jeff zients at the white house today announcing what is, in fact, an exciting development. a new treatment, not a preventive like a vaccine, but a treatment you can take if you get infected right after covid symptoms start. this is a big deal, and this is a really good thing. it's three pills that you take twice a day. you do that for just five days. this is a treatment by pfizer. it was given emergency use authorization today by the fda. the reason they approved it really quickly is because the results from this drug in clinical trials are just fantastic. the clinical trials showed if you can get this treatment within three days of your symptoms starting, it reduces your chances of being hospitalized or dying by 89%. that is an astonishing number.
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again, it's just pills. it's not an infusion you need at an infusion center. it's not a series of injections you need over multiple days. it's just a five-day course of pills that you take at home, then you're done. so this is huge news today. but, of course, the devil's in the details. as jeff zients said at the white house today, this is a hard pill to make. the chemistry is complex. so even though the united states has bought 10 million doses already, even though it's approved for use in the united states as of today, we're apparently only getting enough of the drug to treat 65,000 americans between now and the end of the year. 65,000 sort of sounds like a lot, but for context, we're seeing over 200,000 new infections every day now. so having only enough drugs to treat 65,000 people is really not much. and it's not going to ramp up all that fast either. for the whole month of january, for example, pfizer's only expecting to be able to deliver enough pills to treat 200,000
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people. again, that sounds like a lot, but we're getting more than that many people infected every day now. so it's really not nearly enough. eventually, getting into february, march, april, later into the year, pfizer will be able to deliver more, millions of doses ultimately, not tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands like they're starting with. when they are able to ship millions of these pills, that really will mean that potentially thousands of american lives will be saved. this is huge. for right now, though, day one of this new era in effective covid at-home treatment, today is day one of that. for right now, there's all this hope associated with this new treatment, but also all these challenges. we have to deal with really limited supply in the short run. how are we going to do that? also, people need to get this drug really, really soon after they get their first symptoms. it's a drug that you have to get by prescription. how are we going to make it so people can get the drug in time? also, this is a drug that's got kind of a wallop.
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it's not like popping an aspirin. people who have serious kidney problems or liver problems may not be able to take it all. it doesn't mix will with other prescription drugs, including some common ones. those potential drug interactions appear to be serious enough that doctors are going to have to be careful not to give this new drug to people for whom it might be dangerous because of the other prescriptions that they take. it's a lot of moving parts to deal with here. but honestly, don't lose sight. this is an exciting day. this is the kind of covid treatment breakthrough we have been waiting for and the fda finally approved it. it is going to be a bear to deal with the limited initial supplies. it's going to be a bear to deal with the need to be both careful and quick in prescribing it. but we will remember this day. this day, we are going to look back on this day as a blessing, but it is also going to be a test of us too. is also going ta test of us too
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far right side of the graph. look how steep that line is climbing at the right side of the graph. that's how fast our covid infection numbers are rising right now as a country. that is a terribly steep line. that is terrible. but today was also a really good day. the fda today approved the first covid treatment pill. it's a five-day course of pills from pfizer. if you take it right after the start of covid symptoms, it can drop your chances of having to be hospitalized by nearly 90%. huge news. huge day. this is a real advance. lots of devils in the details, though. joining us now is dr. nahid bhadelia. she is an infectious disease specialist director for policy and research at boston university. doctor, thank you for joining us tonight. >> thanks for having me, rachel. >> so at first, the supplies for
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this promising new anti viral are going to be really, really limited. how do we ensure that the very limited quantities of this drug are getting to the people that most need it and for whom it will do the most good? >> as you said, this comes at an incredibly important time because the omicron surge is up and all of our return to normalcy depends on keeping high risk and unvaccinated patients out of the hospitals, the hospitals are not overwhelmed but at a time where some of the tools in our medical toolbox like monoclonal antibodies don't seem to be as effective. with this limited supply of the new tool, what we're going to face is what we face when rem remdesivir was new. how do we get this to places where it will do the most good? we found so far is that states are allocating a certain amount and work with hospitals and clinics and others to try to get certain doses out to places where patients may access it.
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in this case, because the time is so short and because it's linked to testing as other things so quickly after testing or symptom onset, we need to make sure as we increase testing access, that we link that testing access to potential for those taking it are those who can access testing and those who have established medical care because they can call up their doctor and get a per prescription and these who don't have access can do that. we want to tell them more about the drug and linking sites that are testing to refer patients to where they can get treatment. >> so ideally, if somebody comes into a testing site or accesses testing somehow and gets a positive result, that person is also at the start of having symptoms. if they've got the kind of risk factors that they are high risk to proceed to potentially be
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hospitalized, to potentially die from covid, the fact that they test positive should be an activating catalyst to get them a prescription for this drug, and it won't be a widespread thing at the outset because we don't have enough of it, but ideally, that's what we should be working for in a matter of a couple of months. >> that's right. then there are places that are high yield where you easily have nursing homes, this would be helpful for those who are older. that's an easy place to potentially dispense. it's also easy for patients already in care who might be immunocompromised because their doctors are educated. those in the community that are high risk that may not be able to access and i think the linking of testing will be important to get people into care and that's one of the goals that we should be looking at. the other is telling more people about this drug. right? so they're aware of it. the fact that it's available, the worry that i have is that
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people are going to be using the rapid test and finding out the result they don't know for example this pill is available if they qualify or high risk, they won't be able to access it. we need to do education on the public side to ensure people are aware of this resource. >> that's right. with so many things in health care, often you don't get it unless you ask for it and you don't ask for it unless you know it exists and that you can benefit and that you ought to get it. that is a public campaign waiting to happen. infectious disease physician director for the infectious disease and research. thank you for your time tonight. appreciate you being here. this is a big day. >> thank you. all right. we'll be right back. stay with us. ♪ ♪ 'tis the season to break tradition in a cadillac. don't just put on a light show—be the light show. make your nights anything but silent. and ride in a sleigh that really slays. because in a cadillac, tradition is yours to define.
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join over a million members by signing up for free on the xfinity app. our thanks. your rewards. that is going to do it for us tonight. we'll see you tomorrow. "way too early" with jonathan lemire is up next. new treatment and new research offers encountering signs in the fight against covid. as we learn more about the omicron variant, the question is could the strain already be near its peak here in the united states? plus, a pennsylvania congresswoman carjacked at gunpoint. several suspects have been arrested. the question is how is she doing this morning? and president biden talks about whether he plans to run for re-election. the question is what does he think about the prospect of a rematch with donald trump? it's "way too early" for that. ♪♪