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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  January 30, 2023 6:00pm-7:00pm PST

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come -- we are actually going to make a policy. it is not that we don't know what works, it is about will and we'll building. i will go with him on this, we come from a people who have been beat down for hundreds of years and i've not gone around a fight, we're not going away now. >> to my favorites, thank you. that is all in on this monday night, the rachel maddow show starts right now, good evening rachel. night, t>> good evening chris, h appreciated. thanks at-home for joining us. we have to have you here. first things first, i'm happy to report that stormy daniels appears to be doing great. she's apparently hosting a new reality tv show, i think possibly maybe it's streaming and not on tv. i don't really know but it's a sex ya gay dating reality show competition thing. lots of drama and lots of crying and lots of speedos.
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they seem to have figured out a way to do this with everything happening in speedos. watching the trailer for the new stormy daniels show, i learned the word, himbo. it's a noun. it's like bimbo but him. i had no idea. probably everybody knew this but me. i learned this today and find it helpful. himbos and here's some. anyway, so miss stormy daniels appears to be doing great and happy for that and happy to say it. today the reason it made sense to check in on that is because today in "the new york times" we finally got answers on the political financial legal moral public corruption scandal that started spiraling out from stormy daniels, i mean, depending on when you start
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counting, five, six, maybe as long as eight years ago. finally we have started to get close to the end. finally we have started to get answers. so first things first, her real name is stephanie clifford but changed it to stormy daniels and did that for a reason. she prefers to be called by the name she chose, so we shall call her stormy daniels and ms. daniels, let's get that out of the way. second, this story actually emerges both from miss daniels' story but another woman's story as well, karen mcdougal. you see her picture here. during the 2016 presidential campaign, stormy daniels and karen mcdougal both made similar allegations about one of the candidates for president that year, they both said that they had extramarital affairs with candidate donald trump. using the word affair here because -- only because i'm easily embarrassed. each of them made very specific
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claims about having had an adulterous physical relationship with candidate donald trump. suffice to say. for his part, mr. trump has denied that he ever had an affair with either ms. daniels or ms. mcdougal. ms. daniels has gone so far as to not only insist her claims are true despite his denials, she's actually publicly described what she said were unusual physical features of his genitals that a person could not know about him unless they had seen him in his birthday suit. she presented that information as part of her bona fides that it definitely happened. but mr. trump himself has denied and continues to deny affairs with either of these women and what prosecutors have spelled out in court is that trump was desperate to keep these women from making their allegations about him in public before the
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2016 campaign. and so prosecutors explained in court that he arranged for each of these women to be paid off ahead of the election so they would keep quiet before voters went to the polls. it was all to help his presidential campaign. he paid out a lot of money to these two women to keep their stories out of the news ahead of the election in order to improve his chances of being elected. that makes the payment a campaign expenditure and there are rules and laws and this payoff scheme to these two women, it broke some of those laws. and we know that is true because someone has already gone to jail for his participation in this scheme. now, the publisher of the pro-trump bizarre supermarket tabloid, "the national enquirer," he contacted trump after learning in 2016 that ms. mcdougal planned to make her allegations about trump public. "the national enquirer"
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publisher arranged to pay her $150,000 effectively to not tell her story about trump. this publisher of "the national enquirer" because the news gods hate me, they have -- the news gods have made it so that his name is david pecker. p-e-c-k-e-r. i'm not kidding. he expected to be reimbursed from trump world for that $150,000 payment to karen mcdougal but he never was. that meant that as soon as he heard there was another woman, stormy daniels who was going to make similar allegations about trump, he apparently was willing to contact trump about that, again, and to help make plans again to keep that story quiet before the election as well but in the case of the second woman, stormy daniels, mr. pecker was not willing to shell out the money for her himself. he had shelled out the money for ms. mcdougal, he was not willing to do it again for ms. daniels
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so when the daniels allegations came to mr. pecker's attention, mr. pecker contacted trump world. he contacted trump organization lawyer michael cohen and said, okay, i took care of the karen mcdougal one, this one you have to pay. i'm still out of pocket from the last woman we paid off. you haven't made me whole on that. you can pay off on this one and michael cohen then did it. he paid stormy daniels $130,000 to keep her story quiet before the election. and then in mr. cohen's case the trump organization, trump's family business reimbursed mr. cohen for that expense from company funds. and what i've just described is a crime. those payoffs to those women were for the benefit of the trump political campaign. they were campaign expenditures and therefore had to be declared as such and they were subject to campaign expenditure or campaign donation legal limits.
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but that's not how they were handled. and, you know, "the national enquirer for" for their part pretended their $150,000 expenditure was for hiring this woman for fitness columns or something when it was really just to pay her off to keep that story out of the news to help trump's campaign. the michael cohen expenditure was declared on the trump organization's books as payment for legal expenses. and paying a porn star $130,000 is a lot of things but the practice of law, it is not. so when they booked those expenses as legal expenses, that may well have been part of the crime. and so michael cohen, trump organization lawyer in 2018, he pled guilty to committing this crime. in 2019 he reported to federal prison for his role in this crime. "the national enquirer" and
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mr. pecker were given immunity in return for their cooperation with the federal grand jury investigation that ultimately sent mr. cohen to prison so that's how david pecker and "the national enquirer" got off given their participation in this crime but cohen actually did have to go to prison. here's the thing, though, here's the thing that never made sense for years. it never made sense. to this day has not made sense that mr. cohen is the one who went to prison for this when no one else did. i mean, "the national enquirer" and publisher with the funny name, them being granted immunity, you may not like it but it's explicable and understand what prosecutors did there. when it comes to trump and the trump organization it never made any sense that they escaped sort of scot-free despite the fact that prosecutors had this crime dead to rights. in court as he pled guilty
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michael cohen read a description of his crime, hi description of what he did that led to his guilty plea. this is a formal statement to the court written by prosecutors. he stated it under oath. it was formally submitted to the court and that description that he read explained in detail that michael cohen committed the crime with trump. he committed it for trump and at all times during the commission of the crime he was operating at trump's direction. so why did trump not get charged? why did the trump organization not get charged? i mean, in the case of trump personally, yes, there is a justice department policy that says, no indictment can be brought against a sitting president. but were it not for that policy, would trump have faced charges for this crime? how could it be that michael cohen did and trump didn't? if the only reason they didn't charge trump is because of the justice department role that precludes indicting a sitting president, prosecutors certainly
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could have said so. they could have said that that was the only reason evers not being charged, that would have led to the expectation and probably the event wallet those charges would basically be put on hold during the duration of his presidency and then those charges would come into force upon him stepping down from office. the prosecutors in this case did nothing like this. they pursued no charges against trump. instead, they told the court that this other guy committed the crime with trump and for trump and at trump's direction, they prosecuted the other guy and sent him to prison and they never brought charges against trump. never said anything about it. nor did trump's business get prosecuted even though prosecutors spell out in court the business was used to launder the funds that cohen and trump used to commit the crime. i mean, "the national enquirer" did the same thing but got immunity to avoid charges for doing that the trump organization didn't get immunity. but they didn't face charges either. why is that?
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how is that? well, some of the answer, the first sort of start of the answer came out in this shocking book which i think should have gotten a lot more attention than it did when it was published. jeffrey berman was the u.s. attorney in sdny, the federal prosecutor's office in manhattan when this was happening and he technically was recused from directly overseeing this case. the hush money case, because he had been part of the trump campaign before he was appointed u.s. attorney. and he thought that might have seemed like a conflict of interest given that the indication involved fraud allegations of campaign expenditures, so he was technically recused from overseeing the case but was in charge of the u.s. attorney's office when it went to court and in this book "holding the line" that geoffrey berman published he explains in detail that main justice under trump reached in to sdny and intervened with the
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prosecutor's office in manhattan to protect trump in this case. he says it explicitly. this is from page 24 of his book. the first time main justice interfered -- sorry, even though i was not overseeing the cohen case i still had to deal with other issues involving it all of them deriving from the same source, main justice and its attempts at interferes, the first time main justice interfered was when the information was being finalized. information is a term of art in this context. after cohen agreed to plead guilty the charges instrument against him became an information rather than an indictment. so that was the title of the document that berman is referencing, an information, it was about 40 pages long, he says. and it, quote, referenced a person identified as individual 1 as having acted in concert with michael cohen. he says, quote, there was zero doubt as to the identity of individual 1. it was donald j. trump. he says consistent with doj
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guidelines we first submitted the information to the public integrity section at main justice. they signed off. we then sent a copy to the deputy attorney general at the time, rodney king rosenstein informing that cohen's guilty plea was imminent, the next day the prosecutor in my office overseeing the case received a call from rosenstein's principal deputy. why the length, he argued that now that cohen is pleading guilty we don't need all this description of the crime. the prosecutor responded what are you concerned about? rosenstein's depsey proceeded to identify specific allegations that he wanted removed from the information, almost all of them were iteming referencing individual 1. donald j. trump, quote, it quickly became apparent it wasn't the overall length or detail of the document that concerned him, it was any mention of individual 1. the two men went through a handful of these allegations,
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some of which the prosecutor agreed to strike, others he did not. the revised document now 21 pages, remember, it had started at 40 pages, now 21 pages kept all of the charges to which cohen was pleading guilty but removed certain allegations including allegations that individual 1 acted in concert with and coordinated with cohen on the illegal campaign contributions. so that's all from geoff berman's book. he was the u.s. attorney at sdny at the time and he says basically trump appointees at main justice leaned on sdny and had them strip out of court documents in this case 19 pages of prosecutor's descriptions of trump's role in those felonies. it was a 40-page information, a 40-page statement to the court, main justice made them cut it down to 21 pages by cutting out the rest of that descriptions of trump's role in the crime. and although they didn't want to
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go along with it they went along with it and felt like they had to. and if you've ever spent any time as an elementary school student on a playground with bully, you will know what happens when you let someone push you around like that. that, of course, is never the end of it. it just gets worse from there. berman goes on to describe how trump appointed attorney general william barr personally intervened in the hush money investigation later as well. quote, while cohen pleaded guilty our office continued to pursue investigations related to possible campaign finance violations, when barr took over as attorney general in february 2019, six months after cohen had pleaded guilty, barr not only tried to kill the ongoing investigations, but incredibly suggested that michael cohen's conviction on campaign finance charges could be retroactively reversed. barr summoned the prosecutor leading the hush money case in late february, so this is one of
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the first things barr does when he becomes attorney general. he own becomes attorney general in february. before the end of the month he summons the lead prosecutor on the hush money case to, quote, challenge the basis of cohen's guilty plea as well as the reasoning behind pursuing similar campaign finance charges against other individuals. the prosecutor was told to cease all investigative work on the campaign finance allegations until the office of legal counsel, a part of main justice determined if there was a legal basis for the campaign finance charges to which cohen pled guilty and until barr determined there was a sufficient federal interest in pursuing charges against others. the directive barr gave the prosecutor which was amplified that same day by a follow-up phone call was explicit. not a single investigative step could be taken, not a single document in our possession could be reviewed until the issue was resolved and if main justice decided there was no legal basis for the cohen charges, the attorney general of the united states would direct us to dismiss the guilty pleas of
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michael cohen, a man who implicated the attorney general's boss, the president. berman closes with, i've tried not to make assumptions about the motivations of barr or anyone else. i'm a lawyer trained to deal in fact. but barr's posture here raises obvious questions. did he think dropping the charges would bolster trump's defense against impeachment charges? was he trying to ensure that no other trump associates or employees would be charged with making hush money payments to perhaps flip on the president? was it part of an effort to undo the entire series of investigates and prosecutions over the past two years of those in the president's orbit, people like michael cohen, roger stone and michael flynn? was the goal to ensure that the president himself could not be charged after leaving office? geoffrey berman explains that barr subsequently tried to take the whole hush money case out of sdny, take it out of his office
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and give to other u.s. attorney. berman blocked that effort from barr. berman also explains that the standoff between his prosecutors' office and main justice went on for miles while main justice explicitly barred prosecutors from looking at a single document or taking a single investigative step of any kind. while this one guy, michael cohen is sentenced to prison. even though that same prosecutor's office had named another person with whom michael cohen committed this felony. and so, no, they never charged that other person. they never charged trump even though they concluded he had committed the crime with cohen. never charged him. never tried to charge him. never tried to charge anyone else. at sdny if you read this at bottom level, berman's book is called "holding the line" for a reason, standing up to corrupt
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improper pressure from trump appointees. the story he tells about the hush money case, though, is the story of sdny standing up to the corrupt improper pressure from trump's justice department appointees just enough to stop michael cohen's prosecution from being undone after the fact, but that was it. the investigation of anybody else involved in those crimes got kiboshed. and nobody else was ever charged. and then they walked away from it. and so we've been left with this for like five years now. this is the equivalent of federal prosecutors like supposedly fearless g men cracking the case and busting open a whole gang of brain robbers then only prosecuting like the one guy that sold them the ski masks and letting all the rest of them go. then it got worse, because "the new york times" reporters william rashbaum and ben
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pro-protest reported that in addition to effectively botching this as a federal case and federal prosecution, federal prosecutors at sdny blocked anyone else from pursuing this case either. making illegal campaign expenditures whether you lie about it on your books by calling it legal expenses, making illegal expenditures is a crime in every state as well as a federal crime. and new york state prosecutors were therefore interested when cohen told congress what he had been involved in. new york prosecutors were interested. in pursuing potential state charges related to this crime. charges related to this crime. but as william and ben reported at "the new york times," quote, the new york district attorney's office considered mounting an
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inquiry in 2018 but they paused it at the request of federal prosecutors. so federal prosecutors get blown up by trump's doj, by main justice under trump for even just bringing a case against michael cohen, they get ordered to not investigate anyone else for these crimes. they get threatened even cohen is going to be let go too despite the fact he pled guilty. they fold in the face of that pressure. and simultaneously they tell state prosecutors that they can't look at the case either. you can't look at this actually. this is -- we're the feds and we're handling this. yeah, the feds were not handling this. at least they were not handling this well. but while they were otching it they were preventing other prosecutors to pursue it on their own terms without pressure from main justice and that brings us to today's news. to this finally starting to clear up. for us as a country, finally
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starting to get clear of the mess that president donald trump and attorney general bill barr made of american law particularly where it comes to public corruption. these things don't just disappear into the ether. they create precedent. they worm away at the integrity and the basic core functions of the u.s. justice department and unless and until they are fixed or corrected, it just rots the system. this stuff can't be left to dangle. it has to be tied off. even if federal prosecutors aren't going to do it themselves, somebody is going to have to and today william rash baum and his colleagues at "the times" were forced to report that new york state prosecutors as of today have started presenting evidence to a grand jury related to this case. and this time it is not about michael cohen. this time it is finally about trump. quote, the manhattan district attorney's office today began presenting evidence to a grand jury about donald j. trump's
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role in paying hush money to a porn star during his 2016 presidential campaign laying the groundwork for potential criminal charges against the former president. the grand jury was recently impaneled the beginning of witness testimony today represents a clear signal that the district attorney alvin bragg is nearing a decision on whether to charge mr. trump. "the times" goes on to report that mr. pecker, yes, there's that guy again, mr. pecker, the former publisher was seen today with his lawyer at the building where the grand jury is now starting to hear witness testimony. "the times" also reports prosecutors are seeking grand jury testimony from at least two trump organization employees who may have been involved in effectively laundering the funds for this illegal campaign expenditure. a third trump organization employee who may also be brought in to testify, he'll be easy for prosecutors to find because he is alan weisselberg, the cfo who is currently serving a jail
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sentence at rikers island for tax fraud at the trump organization. he was reportedly involved in this too. so this is a crime that was committed in 2016. the last time it was in court was in 2018. the last time someone went to jail for this crime was in 2019. federal prosecutors bobbled it and they simultaneously blocked state prosecutors from pursuing it themselves for a long time. there was also a weird interlude where one manhattan d.a., one new york state prosecutor started an investigation into this matter and then a new prosecutor came into office and stopped that investigation and then the new prosecutor restarted it a few months later after some of the lawyers who had been working on trump-related investigations quit in protest and did so loudly. this has been a weird saga. this has been an on again, off again criminal case. at core it is a simple crime. it is a very understandable crime. one in which the evidence is
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really clear. and for years now, i mean we're going on seven years since the crime, five years since people started going to prison for it, for years people have been doing backflips to make sure there are no consequences for the guy who committed the crime and was the only one to benefit from it. the purpose was to help donald trump's campaign for president. he did become the president. which apparently does give you carte blanche to stay out of handcuffs for four years while occupying the oval office. but not after. it doesn't last once you're out, once you are out of the oval office you're supposed to go back to being the kind of person who isn't allowed to get caught committing crimes without having to pay. it has taken alt of these years, i am happy to say stormy daniels is doing fine. she's doing better than fine. we're about to find out if we can say the same about the rule
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and it's only available to comcast business internet customers. so boost your bottom line by switching today. comcast business. powering possibilities. reporter at "the new york times" who first broke the news that new york prosecutors had been considering charging donald trump's company over payments to a porn star that amounted to an illegal campaign contribution. mr. rashbaum and his colleagues reported also that those
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prosecutors, the state prosecutors have been told by the feds that they should back off because the feds were handling this matter. we then got this blockbuster from william rashbaum, inside barr's effort to undermine prosecutors in new york. then william rashbaum broke the news that the d.a. was reviving the investigation and issuing subpoenas. when a new d.a. appeared to once again put the brakes on the investigation it was william rashbaum and his colleagues who broke the news two lead investigators have resigned from the office in protest. it was william rashbaum and his colleagues who then broke the news that the d.a. had restarted the investigation and today you will not be surprised to hear that it was william k. rashbaum as the lead byline on the scoop that they started presenting evidence to the grand jury, the beginning of testimony rips a
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clear signal that the district attorney is nearing a decision about whether to charge mr. trump. he's been the nation's died to this otherwise confounding story. joining us now is william k. rashbaum. mr. rashbaum, thank you so much for your reporting on these stories. the country needed you through all of this. >> well, thanks, thanks for having me, rachel. i don't think i've heard my name mentioned repeatedly that many times since i -- i don't know when. >> it's all for the good. hopefully, i mean, given that we have been following your reporting on this for years and you have been through every twist and turn of this road i have to ask if you have any sense of how close to the end of the road this story is or do you think we're just right in the middle of it and there still will be years to come? >> well, i mean, firstly, i have
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to say that, you know, almost all the work we've done has been as a team and i work with a lot of very talented, very aggressive, very hard-working people and i'm not the only one pursuing this, but it does seem like it will go on forever and, you know, there's a possibility that there will be charges soon but i think we've seen that a number of times. it felt that way a number of times, so i think we just have to reserve judgment and see where this goes. >> under this particular prosecutor, this d.a., there has been a bit of a u-turn as you and your colleagues reported at "the times." when bragg became d.a. he
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inherited an investigation including a grand jury that heard evidence and heard testimony about both this hush money case and some other things related to trump, you then reported on two investigators, two top lawyers who had been working on that who resigned in protest saying they didn't believe that this d.a. was moving quickly enough or effectively against trump and that he ought to be. now we see the same d.a. going back to the grand jury specifically on this hush money issue and perhaps on other matters, as well. do you have any insight into what might have explained that u-turn from this d.a.? >> you know, this investigation from when it began in 2018 through the tenure of cy vance who was the d.a. until mr. bragg took office at the beginning of 2022 has had a lot of twists and
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turns and, you know, it's unclear -- i'm certainly not inside alvin bragg's mind and he is someone who plays his cards close to the vest, so, you know, he and his office have maintained since they made that decision not to go forward with the grand jury presentation, they've maintained that they were continuing the investigation. they still now maintain they are continuing the investigation into the valuations case and there are indications that we've seen that they are doing so, so it's really -- it's hard to chart those twists and turns and understand everything about why the twists and the turns came when they did.
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>> well, to the extent we are going to be able to chart those twists and turns we will be doing so through your work. i will tell you we had been following tips and trying to get the story ourself hearing about this possible grand jury and, of course, you beat us to it with ten times the detail we could have ever dug up. we're all following in your wake on this story, thanks very much for being with us. >> well, thank you. that's very flattering and thanks for having me on. >> appreciate it. all right. i will tell you one last note on this story, as we've been talking about there were these two prosecutors in new york d.a.'s office who quit in protest last year. the last time this investigation appeared to go on ice. one of those prosecutors is a veteran very accomplished lawyer named mark pommerantz and he has written a book on this and it's caused consternation but it is nevertheless coming out. mark is going to be on "60
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minutes" this weekend talking about it then his first live interview is going to be here with me this time next week so you might want to put that in your calendar for next monday night. much more ahead here tonight. stay with us. i'm with it ♪ ♪ i gotta good feeling about this ♪ ♪ yeah, ♪ ♪ so let's get it ♪ ♪ i'm feeling good vibes ♪ every day, millions of things need to get to where they're going. and at chevron, we're working to help reduce the carbon intensity of the fuels that keep things moving. today, we're producing renewable diesel that can be used in existing diesel tanks. and we're committed to increasing our renewable fuels production. because as we work toward a lower carbon future, it's only human to keep moving forward.
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so the parents of tyre, we want the names of everyone involved released. the officers, the emts, the
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firefighters, anybody that was on the scene that was -- they were complicit in his murder. anyone that was there that didn't render aid, didn't tell someone to stop, didn't tell someone this isn't right, we should get help, they're all complicit. >> anyone that didn't render aid, anybody who was there, they're all complicit. they held a sunset vigil at the park where he liked to take pictures of the sunset and they called for accountability after the release of body cam surveillance video showing the absolutely merciless extended beating that killed him. since that video footage was released friday memphis police say they have suspended two more officers beyond the five that we previously knew about. they say these two officers were relieved of duty the day after tyre nichols died and before the video was made public. these two officers are suspended
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not fired and at this point they're not facing charges like the other five officers are. also the memphis fire department says they have fired two emts and a lieutenant for the failure to render aid to mr. nichols after emts arrived on the scene. and mr. nichols lay there mortally wounded and desperately in need of help. this all comes as mr. nichols' family prepared to lay him to rest this wednesday, the day after tomorrow will be his funeral. next week mr. nichols' parents have been invited to attend the state of the union, they would be guests of steven horsford. additional protests and vigils happening tonight as we speak in memphis in places as far flung as chicago, also we're seeing here is a vigil at a skate park in sacramento, california, where mr. nichols is from. we'll let you know more as we learn more. we're keeping an eye on those
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gatherings tonight. joining us is vicky terry. thank you so much for being here. i know this is just a really difficult time where there's a lot of demands on your time. >> thank you so much, rachel. i appreciate you having me. >> since the release of the video on friday, we have learned about more suspensions of officers, firings of emts from the fire department, people who didn't render aid even though they were there and capable of doing that i have to ask what's your reaction to these ongoing developments over the past few days? >> well, i'm not surprised because i had heard that there would be more people fired and, you know, or disciplined because of what part they took in not rendering aid or just being there and not doing anything, so i figured that there would be more and i'm thinking there will be even more.
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there will be discipline or let go, i'm not sure which one they're going to do. >> and thinking about individual people being disciplined as you say or being fired, being charged in some cases, that's an important part of accountability here, but i was thinking this weekend about the disbanding of this scorpion unit, which is the unit to which the five officers had been charged, that they all belonged to and that is a sort of different type of accountability, right? it's a little bit of structural change rather than just personal accountability, person by person. i wanted to ask you about that difference tonight. i wonder if that's maybe a potential opening for bigger changes for some larger scale progress. >> well, i think that it should be disbanded right now. we need to -- they need to investigate more because there are probably other incidents that have happened with these scorpion units that we don't
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know about, so i think an investigation needs to be made into that unit and even others that maybe gang units, tactical units, anything that we have i guess where you have all of these officers out here and we don't know exactly what they're doing because i've heard of others that have been attacked by this scorpion unit. i'm not sure myself, but, you know, there are other things that are going on, you know, you always hear the rumors or whatever so they need to do a full investigation of the scorpion unit, you know, go to the internal affairs to see if reports have been given to them that have not been followed up. i've even had some that come in my office in the past few days after this was, you know, announced so other people are coming forward now saying this has happened to them or to their son or to, you know, someone they know. >> that form of accountability
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of airing out the depth of the problem, the number of victims, the number of people who may have been victimized by a system that's broken, key, obviously that's part of really addressing what happened. vickie terry, executive director of the memphis branch of the naacp, mystery, again, i know this is a difficult time. thank you for making time to be here with us. >> thank you, thank you so much for having me. thank you. >> all right. take care. we'll be right back. if your work, works for your community, then you're on team earth.
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her name is guillena timchenko from lentaru and she was very good at that job which is why in the end she was fired from that job. it was in 2014 shortly after russia invaded ukraine, invaded ukraine and took crimea in 2014, she was fired from lentaru when they public -- more than 60 of h.e.r. employees had a statement of protest and all followed her out the door, 60 of them. timchenko and her former team from said they would
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build a new independent news organization, news written in russian for the russian people. and they decided they would call themselves meduza, the motto is the news returns which makes sense once you know the story of why they were founded. meduza decided 0 set up headquarters not inside russia but next door in latvia hoping that that would make it harder for the russian government to meddle in their operations or to meddle with their finances. they published meduza con tent on their website which is but they also published it on an app which is a harder thing for the kremlin to block. and it worked at meduza, it worked for awhile. in 2021 russia labeled meduza a foreign agent. that label was designed to scare away and threaten anybody who might advertise on meduza and had the desired effect and made
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it almost impossible for them to pay their bills. through it although and at great personal risk their journalists and editors, they somehow managed to keep themselves afloat but even more than that, they really managed to succeed. meduza is the most read independent news source in the russian language. which, of course, brings us to now. the kremlin has now taken another swing, a big swing at meduza labeling them no longer just as a foreign agent but what the kremlin calls an undesirable organization that effectively outlaws the very existence of meduza inside russia. anybody inside russia who visits their website or likes any of their social media content or tries to share a link to one of their articles could be jailed for that in russia. the designation that the kremlin has just given this news organization gives authorities the power to jail anybody who tries to give money to meduza or
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to jail anybody who even agrees to talk to them for an interview. given this, it is unclear how meduza will continue to do their work. they say they will keep trying and then some. meduza's staff issued this public letter to their readers. i want to read part of it. they say, quote, we'd like to tell you that our new undesirable status doesn't worry us, but that would be untrue, we are afraid. we fear for our readers and for those who have collaborated with metuza for many years but we believe in what we do and believe in free speech and believe in a democratic russia. the greater the pressure against us and our values, the harder we will resist. meduza, m-e-d-u-z-a, dot, i-o.
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before we go tonight just one last thing i want to flag for you, one thing to watch in the coming days. it's this headline from "the washington post." justice department asks the federal elections commission to stand down as prosecutors probe santos. this is about george santos and what this story is about is the justice department asking the federal elections commission to not take any actions against congressman george santos for any of his alleged campaign financecampaign finance with violations. th violations their own criminal investigation into the congressman. so, they want the fec to defer to that criminal investigation. there's been lots of news about republican congressman, and apparent kong man george