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tv   Alex Wagner Tonight  MSNBC  February 1, 2023 1:00am-2:00am PST

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we'll be at the khorasan off we see some action there with dollars coming in but it will be hard to learn until there is a real ruling on this, could be weeks away. >> all right, kyle cheney, thank you so much. that is all in on this tuesday night. alex wagner starts right now, good evening. >> no, there's not a lot of that. >> happening in theot lower chamber. thank you, my friend. and thanks to you at home for joining us this evening. tomorrow morning the family of tyre nichols, the 29-year-old who was fatally beat by memphis police on january 27th lay nichols to rest at the church.
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vice president kamala harris plans to attend along with keisha lance boughts and mitch landrieu. tomorrow night we'll speak with reverend sharpton about how the nichols family and people across the country are grieving in this moment and what justice in this case looks like. but tonight sharpton, nichols family, and their attorney, benjamin crump, are gathered at the historic mason temple to discuss how authorities continue to investigate nichols death. the memphis fire department fired two medics and a lieutenant who all failed to give nichols medical attention in the immediate aftermath as theia officers who had just bean him laughed on the side lines. in addition to that the memphis police department confirmed yesterday that two other memphis officers on the scene that night have been suspended since january 8th.
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one of those two officers is a man named prestten hemphill. nichols family attorney and civil rights lawyer ben crump says hemphill is the one who pulled nichols from the car. you can see him tasing him in the body cam footage. nichols family and lawyer says hemphill was the one that said i hope they stop his expletive. we know this moment the violence it shows stands in stark contrast to what is in the police reports officers wrote just hours after they brutalized tyre nichols. an officer wrote he pulled nichols over because he was driving too quickly. the police report also says nichols was refusing a lawful detention and he, quote, swung at one officer and literally had his hand on that officer's gun. none of that shown in the
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videos. the police report it also lists emt martin, one of the five officers t charged with second degree murder, it lists him as a victim. it is unclear at least from the videos how that l is even possible. martin, the four other police officers charged, and preston hemphill were all members of a police unit called scorpion in response to an increase in violent crime in memphis. it was a special plains clothed unit of the police department, and it was focused on reducing violent crimes and seizing cars. officials like the mayor and the new police chief, cj davis, they praised the scorpion unit almost immediately as if it were sort of an overnight success. >> at the end of last year chief davis, who's here, created a street crimes operation to restore peace in our neighbors unit, scorpion. this unit addresses violent crime such as homicides,
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aggravated assaults, robberies and carjackings that occur throughout our city. since its inception this past october through three days ago the scorpion unit has had a total of 566 arrests, 390 of them for felonies. they have seized $103,000 in cash, 270 vehicles, and 253 weapons. >> officials say the memphis police department uses crimehe data to determine which neighborhoods to deploy the city's four scorpion teams. buton activists say special uni like scorpion they tend to target low income communities conducting mass pullovers in those neighborhoods. those units have proliferated in cities across the country as a kind of tough on crime strategy, but there have long been complaints about those special units. and aho in memphis residents sod the alarm about scorpion's aggressive tactics almost immediately. in fact a memphis man named cornell walker told l.a. times
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this weekend thatl. days before that scorpion team beat tyre nichols to death this gentleman, cornell walker, pulled over and accosted by scorpion officers. emmitt walker, he was the one who pulled walker from his car. they believe they were being targeted by young guys who wanted to steal their car. walker said he saw officer martin step out from his police vehicle. i need to see your mother effing hands or i'll blow your mother effing hands off. he didn't realize they were police at first until he saw their badges and the word scorpion on the back of their shirts. martin, that's the member of the scorpion unit, came over to their car and pulled walker out
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pointing a gun at his head from one foot away, walker told "the times." officers took him to the police car where other officers also had guns out. he saw three of the officers charged in the nichols case. i said i just came here to get a pizza, walker said. he, as in martin, didn't ever give a reason on why he pulled up on the car. that's walker's car. walker decided to call the memphis police department and itsmp internal affairs unit the day after this assault, but the internal affairs unit disregardedff his complaint. walker told the l.a. times, the sergeant kept justifying it. i was pulled out at gunpoint with these people dressed as undercover cops. how am i supposed to feel? i didn't even know they were police. i felt what happened to tyre nichols was preventable if internal affairs had taken action. it could have prevented it from happening, i believe. cities across the country have
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special anti-crime units just like the scorpion unit. in fultonni county, georgia, th unit is also called scorpion though noir now considering changing that name. inw new york city they're call gun violence elimination. baltimore it's the gun trace taskhe force. tyre nichols and his death, that has horrified the nation, and it has drawn attention to the work of these special crime units. so what happens now? joining us now is the co-founder and ceo for the center of policing equity and chair of the african american studies and professor of psychology at yale university. also the president of the naacp legal defense fund.e thank you both for joining me as we talk about a complicated issue but one that is as we see based onas the events of the la week ever more urgent.
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philip, professor, i want to start with yourof reaction to t story that is being reported in "the new york times," cornell walker, a man who sounds like he had inso some ways a similar experience at least at the outset with the scorpion unit. absolute confusion, overly aggressive response, obviously a different outcome. what is yourer thought when you hear the details of his story? and philip, i'll start with you. >> yeah, so the details of the story are not surprising. they're not uncomp. you recall during the terroristic reign of stop, question, and frisk in new york there wereis stories people couldn't believe until there was videotape of it. these specialty urban crime and gun and the gang units will also show up like this. they have a habit of causing incredible damage individually in terms of the community and then costing taxpayers a lot --
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a lot of money. folks forget that the rampart scandal in the 1990s, the lapd, that was the crash unit that also had an acronym that sounded like something that would be good but was crash cost $125 million. the task force in baltimore recently cost taxpayers $13 billion. these are responses to narratives of fear that bad black folks are coming to do damage to you. but what usually happens police do damage to those black communities, they end up paying out money and all of it in part because we only ask police to drive down the crime as if the way you drive it down is what you doyo afterwards as opposed using data saying those are the communities that don't have enough investment, they don't have resources so we can give people the s things they need s they don'tng have to cry out fo crisis in the first place, and that at the root is the thing
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that actually reduces the crime. >> to that end what philip says there are bad black people coming to get you this is exposed becauseyo of the race o the officers involved, the culture of violence, the culture of anti-blackness embedded in theac structure of policing and specifically these anti-crime units. how do we tackle this problem? what does the conversation begin to be inside policing units and the city like memphis where there was very much a dialogue about how to better involve the community, what criminal justice reform might lookcr like, what policing should look like? >> yeah, that's an excellent question and i want to take a moment to extend my condolences to the family this evening on the eve of the funeral, tyre nichols. i can only imagine the anguish and excruciating pain they're experiencing. but this does give us an opportunity to reexamine the investments of public safety and to think about what do we actuallyt need police for.
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and if you really are logical about that question, if you think aboutue what supposedly happened this night with tyre nichols, a alleged traffic stop, we don't need a gang -- and that's what they were -- a gang of officersey ripping him out o his ppcar, tasing him, beating him, chasing him down over an alleged traffic violation. it's not lost on me that this happened in memphis, which is the site of a case that legal defense fund won in 1985 about fleeing felons, which established that you cannot use deadly force against a fleeing felon if that felon is posing no danger. in this case we have a fully innocent man as far as we know. there is nothing to suggest that tyregg nichols was engaged in anything other than an attempt to get home safely. and instead he was interrupted by a gang of police officers who seemed intent on wreaking havoc onin this young man for no
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apparent reason. and sore we have to ask ourselv the question, do we need police pulling over every day citizens for any reason whatsoever? we don't. do we need police returning -- going to people to check on wellness, armed police? do we need police intervening when there's a mental health crisis? we don't. what we need are alternative responders, people who are trained in social services, people who are trained in behavioral science, people who can actually help, who can actually protect and serve, not harass, not, ultimately in the most egregious instances, kill. >> tota that end, philip, this unit was supposed to be dealing with, you know, homicides. this was supposed to be a violent crime unit, and the two anecdotes i've heard from the specific scorpion unit one man sitting in the car getting pizza with a friend and another man
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displaying no probable cause for the n police to not only come a him but toon ultimately kill hi beat him, to do what they did we saw well documented on the body cam footage. so what is happening these specialized units believe they can take --un first of all, the have the support from local law enforcement. there's a reason we s played th sound from the mayor and police chief. this was seen as a successful model for memphis. why -- what strategies were they employing and why were they seen as successful? you say and i think rightly so it is not a surprise they were targeting innocent people like this. this is something that is documented if not atth the cent of theat national media spotlig, surely the higher ups in law enforcement had to know this was not a unit without blemish. >> oh, i'm sure that they did. i'm sure that the -- as we said residents were absolutely a we saying, hey, we have problems here from almost the jump of the unit. but part of the sort of give
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away is in the way the mayor touted the success, numbers of arrests, numbers of felons. we're evaluating law enforcement but for the things that they can get away with charging people for, not numbers of convictions, not number of folk who are in less crisis, not the metrics of actual safety, the metrics of punishment. as long as we've got metrics of punishment then for sure law enforcement is going to look like a huge success. the you gotli right to the cor of one of the issues here if the real reason is to have a scorpion unit -- and by the way i don't care what the acronym is, if you have a poisonous predator for the name you're using state dollars for, don't think that's going to end up with ath lot of safety going on. wasn't is the scorpion who stabbed the frogs and they all drowned in the river in the firstd place?fi but if you've got a scorpion unit whose job it is to deal with the most violent crime, the murder spike we saw at the height of the pandemic, there's no justification for low level
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traffic enforcement. but the reason they're doing it in those neighborhoods as they know they dogh simply a drag ne through the neighborhood they're going toh get enough people wi enough stuff in the car they can charge them and the community can feel they're being kept safe. untilel we actually start askin questions what safety means and exactly asaf folks in oakland he been saying and folks in chicago have been saying, we've got to use police for less for things we could possibly train them for, and by the way get them out of the things they themselves have said they want out of, out of mental health, and for sure out of low level traffic which is deadly for the officer and in this case deadly for one motorist. >> when we talk about what safety means t there's a generational divide on this, is there not, philip?no especially in memphis the atlantic has some great reporting on this. older residents of some of these communities want to see a strong police presence. the younger member of these communitiesme are kind of woke
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this idea -- and i don't mean that in the perjorative sense at all but they're aware of the systemic abuses in the criminal justice system and law enforcement and much more wary of a police presence in their neighborhoods given the history here. it seems like it's more complicated than just, you know, this is what safety means to this community because that seems like a matter of debate. am i overstating that? >> no -- so i would add complication to your complication. for sure the polling says that, but i'm notol sure the polling gets at the right question. the reason why you have older black folks -- and i'm now into that demographic now -- who will say, yes, we want a police presence is because not only have they been around since the explosion of defund the police but lived through defund the education system and defund mental health hospitals and comes in the form of drug houses and other resources.
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they've been defunded so the only thing they've got left that gets any municipal dollars are the police. if you take the police away, what they'reli saying is you ha taken away literally everything. and we have no faith once you've taken it away you will give it back in any form to these communities. they've lived through a kind of terrorism of disinvestment in their communities. during the heightin of the 1980 and 1990s when we saw a huge investment in law enforcement from what counts as the political left in this country, black folks weren't only saying we want tougher punishment for these folks in the streets, they were also saying and we would love ifo you would invest in t communitywo so we don't have to call out in crisisha in the fir place. that message was mostly lost on politicians who were scared of talking about tiit, and we're n at a point where we say there must be are generational divide. there is an experience of disinvestment, younger generations grew up in this, and older generations like me have watched it unfold so folks are more scared to give up any money
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that's coming a into those all.nities at >> that makes absolute sense. i've got to ask you it's not just obviously memphis who has have the scorpion units. there's a unit in new york city that's give that sounds nice, there's one in baltimore. do you think the death of tyre nichols is going to prompt a real soul-searching about the necessity of these things or do you think each city tells a different story about what's happening? >> well, it absolutely should, and it's quitelu disheartening hear that governor hochul in new york is considering expanding these types of units in the state. that isni absolutely the wrong thing to do. that is the wrong direction to go in. we should be reducing the footprint of police in our society overall, not expanding them and certainly not funding and deputizing these specialized units that operate outside the bounds of general oversight and authoritysi that most police uns and regular police officers had
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to adhere to. these units are invited to infiltrate communities in ways that are extraordinarily dangerous to them and those people. and i will say that what's particular pernicious about these specialized units is that they are deployed in the most underresourced communities as phil just said and ones that are relatively defensive because of that, that have the least amount of capacity and ability to report the injustices that they experience, to rally the push back against this violence and against this terrorism visited upon them by thesi state. and that makes it easy, right? you can get an easy win against a vulnerable community if you were tovu take that same specialized unit and bring it to a different community and more resourced andd wealthy communi you would never see the same
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results you see here. those units would be disbanded immediately. you only see them in the communitiesee that are already suffering and already vulnerable. and weer have to examine this predatory policing that is at the end of the day the foundation of our policing system overall snch. >> yeah, i will say cellphone footage and body cam footage are not substitutes for the resources these communities need toit report injustices, right? we may know about tyre nichols because ofre body cam footening but that's thought a substitute what should actually happen in the community to s prevent this from ever happening again. thank you both for your time tonight. >> thank you. we have much more ahead tonight. i'll be joined live on set by one of the senior investigators who served on the january 6th committee, what he had to say about the investigations findings. that's coming up next. but george santos hopes everyone
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doesn't it further wear down credibility when you put someone who's under state, local, federal, and international investigation as a representative of your party -- i'm talking about george santos. >> congress is broken and i think your listeners -- our viewers should understand what proxy voting was because it never took place -- >> but i'm asking about george santos, because you could put it to a vote. >> what i'm trying to do is change some of these committees as well. like the intel committee -- >> so you're just not going to answer the question i ask? >> you don't get to question whether i answer it. >> i don't think you've said the name like george santos like
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once. >> but you know what -- >> you're talking about proxy voting -- >> never speak his name. do not speak his name. that was house speaker kevin mccarthy attempting to bluster his way through a question about republican congressman and serial fabulist george santos. interviews like that may be why we got to news today george santos is taking a step back. after a private meeting with speaker mccarthy last night he announced he'd temporarily recuse himself from committee assignments while attempting to resist calls for his resignation. the fbi has officially asked the fec, the federal elections commission, not to take any actions regarding santos' alleged campaign finance violations not because they think santos is innocent but because the fbi has opened its own criminal investigation into george santos. today we learned santos' campaign treasurer officially resigned her position last week.
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right around the time of that resignation santos' campaign filed paperwork to hire a new person as campaign treasurer, a person who later said he also did not want that job and never authorized anyone to file that paperwork on his behalf. so, yes, not eager to be filling that particular position. today congressman santos sat down for his second televised interview since these scandals broke. his first televised interview did not go so well when fox news, as in the fox news, grilled santos about his numerous lies. this time santos waded into fringe yr waters over at the right-wing news network where he was not asked about any of his falsehoods but things still managed to get sort of awkward. >> history has shown that the american people can pretty much forgive anything, but that starts with a sincere apology normally, a lot of remorse
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shown. prevailing opinion is you have not yet shown that. >> you know, i -- i don't know what you mean by that. >> i do. none of this is going very well for george santos. in fact, all of it is incredibly embarrassing for sarge santos and the party he's a part of, the gop. so why is george santos still in congress? well, george santos is still in congress because kevin mccarthy holds the speakers gavel by only five votes. he needs every single one of them including george santos'. with that reality in mind he's turning a blind eye to the most deceptive of his party and paying heed to the most nihilistic ones. they're allowing them to effectively take the nation's economy hostage in a standoff over the debt creel. he's essentially looking over the edge and showing no indication he's willing to turn his caucus back.
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tomorrow speaker mccarthy is set to speak with president biden to discuss the debt ceiling although president biden says he refuses to let republicans use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip. he has one message and one message alone for the embattled republican leader, show me your budget and i'll show you mine. former senior white house advisor to president obama and co-host of the wildly successful podcast "save america." for those who have not read your wonderful illuminating posts i highly recommend them. but one of the things is your comparison, the lessons learned between the last time a democratic white house had to negotiate with republican hostage takers. if you could sort of paraphrase, summarize the wisdom you gleaned between 2011 and 2013 as a member of the obama administration. >> absolutely, alex.
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thanks for having me. back in 2011 the tea party republican just taken over and they just like kevin mccarthy and george santos and this group said they were not going to raise the debt limit without extracting some concessions from the president around spending and deficits like then -- like now they were pretty vague about what they wanted, but they wanted a big fight. and separate from that speaker boehner came to president obama and said what if we just try to come to a big agreement where we would do some long-term deficit reduction and we could do some things in the short-term to help the economy grow during the great recession. president obama took him up on that -- you take a gamble to have that conversation with him, had that conversation. it fell apart, and the country came so close to defaulting that the economy took a massive hit, people lost their jobs. growth got hurt and we suffered our first ever default -- our first ever downgrade in our credit rating. the lesson the president and
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vice president biden recognized you cannot have a fair negotiation with a gun to your head. that is exactly what the debt limit is. it is a gun to your head, economic terrorism. it is deeply dangerous. >> i mean the other part of it is who are you going to negotiate with? first of all, you're talking about a group of people who have no idea what they want although they're putting medicare, medicaid and social security on the table. kevin mccarthy holds the speakers gavel by one vote, effectively a vote of no confidence gets him out of there. it's not officially called the vote of no confidence, but that's what i'm going to call it. if you're biden in this, there's the lessons from the obama administration and also the reality who could he even negotiate with? what does he do in this instance? do you think he can actively stake out a position where i'm not going to talk to you about this because democrats like joe manchin are saying you've got to
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be reasonable -- that's not how he sounds but you know what i mean. >> you're exactly right. let's just hypetheticly say but kevin mccarthy was a sear wrs, substantive person of good faith. even if they had that deal there's no evidence kevin mccarthy would deliver the votes for that deal. he'd be more likely to lose the speakership than be able to get that bill on the floor of the house and passed. it wouldn't matter because there was nothing -- no one to negotiate with and they have no idea what they want to negotiate about. here's the simple message the president has done and president obama's message in 2013 which is raising the debt limit is congress' job. it is simply a procedural vote to allow the treasury department to pay the bills congress has already incurred. if you want to have a big
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negotiation or a big fight over the budget bill, the spending bill is going to come due later this summer, let's do that. let's take the danger of default, of undoing all the progress we've made since the pandemic by putting the risk -- so take that aside and then we'll have a conversation. you do your job and you're welcome to come down here and have a meeting with me and hammer something out. >> can i highlight the fact also, setting aside the actual negotiations, the fact republicans are openly saying maybe it's all about trimming or just slashing the social safety net at a moment when even president trump realizes that it's politically suicidal, and i must highlight for those who do not know, the rnc is telling the gop that they need to double down on pushing restrictive abortion bans in order to win in 2024. this party and the elders, if there are any that are actually
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sailing this ship with their hands on the captain's wheel, just political reality would tell you don't say slashing medicare and social security and pushing restrictive abortion bans out loud in the year 2023. how do you think they're thinking about -- i truly don't understand what the logic is behind all of this. >> they're -- they're not thinking. this ties to what you said about george santos to begin with. their only existence is not some ideological agenda or party preference, it's to own the ellipse. trying to have this big fight to win something and they don't even know what they want to win. is it social security cuts, defense cuts, increasing defense spending, is it defunding like jim jordan tweeted about the other day, they have no idea. you cannot allow one half of one branch of congress to use the threat of a global financial crisis to extract policy concessions they cannot get through the normal electoral
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process. they did not win a governing majority. they don't have the house and the senate. they don't have a veto-proof majority. so if president biden were to negotiate with them or come to some sort of concession to reward this behavior and maybe they get whatever makes them happy, what happens the next time? is it a federal abortion ban? is it book bans? is it undoing the law that was just passed preserving marriage equality? you cannot allow that to happen. there's a normal legislative process. and all the polling shows he has the most political high ground possible for this fight. >> this is not the normal legislative process, and by the way this is not normal, period. dan fifer, former senior white house advisor to president obama and co-host of podcast saving america, great to see you, my friend. and thanks for coming on the show. >> thank you. still ahead this hour the latest from ron desantis in
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florida where a new battle has emerged in the conservative culture wars. that is next. stay with us. e culture wars that is next stay with us why are 93% of sleep number sleepers very satisfied with their bed? maybe it's because you can gently raise your partner's head to help relieve snoring. so, you can both stay comfortable all night. and now, save 50% on the sleep number 360 limited edition smart bed. ends monday.
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♪ every search you make ♪ ♪ every click you take ♪ ♪ i'll be watching you ♪ - [narrator] the internet doesn't have to be so creepy, the duckduckgo app, lets you search and browse pria blocking most trackers all forf your search history is never tracked, so it can't be shared. and when you leave search, duckduckgo helps keep companies from watching you as you brows. join tens of millions of people making the easy switch
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by downloading the app today. duckduckgo, privacy simplified. (upbeat music) in the fall of 1964 a small college in sarasota, florida, opened its doors to its very first class of 100 students. it was named new college, and a big part of the school's mission
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was to be inclusive by adopting an open admissions program that wouldn't discriminate based on race, creed, national origin, or cultural status. it was a novelty in a state that was once part of the slave owning confederacy. today new college of florida ranks number three in the princeton review of public colleges and universities that make an impact in the community. the school only has about 700 students, many of whom identify as non-heterosexual. in fact, that's one of the specifically inclusive things about the college. students get to decide their gender identity without judgment in the state of florida. you probably see where this is going. new college of florida has become the new target of governor ron desantis' cultural war. he thinks that because a school is funded by state taxpayers the school ought to have a conservative identity, a conservative christian identity, which is not what it has had or
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ever had. and to carry out this mission governor desant has appointed six new members to the college's board of trustees. these men along with four others of desantis' picks now make up the majority of the board of new college, and they are not wasting any time. this afternoon they held their very first official meeting, but before it even started the end game was clear. >> the legislature has agreed to authorize immediately $15 million for new college for recruiting new faculty and for scholarships for students. and so you're going to have a situation where you're going to be able to go out, recruit people to come, say, hey, here's the mission, here's what we're looking to do.
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i mean you have people ask me how do i apply. >> that money, the $15 million the governor was talking about, that is to hire new faculty for new college. in that same event governor desantis announced new reforms for higher education in florida, ones that will eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion and critical race theory and make sure that, quote, core coarses are rooted in western tradition. sitting next to governor desantis was christopher rougho who hours later carried out the governor's mandate by immediately calling for the abolition of the new college office for outreach and excellence. rougho claims diversity divides people. >> one of the items that we discussed -- that i discussed today with governor desantis and legislators presents, it often
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divides people and offers separate judgments of race and identity. >> my opinion does matter unfortunately for you. christopher rufo is right, he's now part of a conservative majority taking over new college, florida. while there's resistance in the form of rallies and protests, rufo and his conservative cohort now have the power to make immediate change. and their first order of business today hours ago was to fire new college's president and replace her with former florida education secretary, richard corcoran, a desantis ally and anti-crt -- the take over has begun. we will be right back. anti-crt begun. we will be right back. and when you book and pay throug you're covered by our happiness check out today. angi... and done.
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the january 6th committee investigators were split into teams by color. and the red team investigated the people who planned and attended the attack on the capitol. one of those senior investigators on the red team, james sasso, who worked on the final report is now sounding the alarm saying the january 6th attack was not just an insurrection to keep trump in power, it was an attack on democracy as a whole. this is a quote from his latest op-ed. it wasn't they wanted to contest a supposedly stolen election as trump called them to do, they wanted to punish the judges, member of congress, and law enforcement agencies, the so-called political elites who had discredited trump's claims. now, we have seen that kind of violence beyond january 6th. we've seen it play out across
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the country. yesterday in new mexico a grand jury indicted a failed republican state candidate for targeting and shooting the homes of several democratic officials. last week california officials released a body cam footage of the brutal attack on paul pelosi, the husband of the former speaker of the house. that attack by an extremist and a believer in the big lie. over the summer a man who stormed the capitol on january 6th, he shot at an fbi field office in ohio. there are countless other examples. january 6th was not an isolated incident. it was a symptom of a much broader and deeply entrenched problem in the united states. joining me now is james sasso. he serve as a senior investigative counsel for the january 6th committee and worked on drafting its initial report. thank you for being here on set. >> thank you so much for having me. >> and continuing a really important part of the conversation. it obviously didn't end on steps of the capitol and inside the capitol that day. it continues on. the first thing i want to ask
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because you were involved in the drafting of this, you mentioned this in your op-ed, do you think the focus of the report and jeperally speaking with the committee's work was too much on the actions of the former president and not enough about the systemic problems that have taken root in american society? >> so i think we were very successful in how we framed the report to focus on the former president. when you think about just the amount of resources we had, the limited amount of time we had, thinking even in terms of what the american public is willing to listen to or understand, it'd be very hard to tell a 50-year story, right, about how the rioters identities were challenged, how they fell out of favor, and how they learned to distrust the federal government. >> yeah. >> but what we really needed to do was to focus on the immediate threat that president trump really brought to light and what he did by inciting the riot.
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so i think it was right to focus on him and a story powerful to the american public. it's not that we ignored all these other topics in any sense of the word. in our investigation we asked witnesses, we would ask the defendants we were talking to, you know, what brought you here and getting to more than just president trump. so it is there in our documents and our materials and even in our report, you know, on these topics, but we thought it was very important to focus on the president's immediate threat -- >> focus on the thing that is in our immediate front view mirror, but i've got to ask you used the time frame 50 years. it would be hard to write a report tracing the last 50 years, which suggests this has been brewing for some time. and i want to get into what you learned talking to these people who were so animated by the struggle that they felt the need to foment revolution, right? you mention disinformation sort of -- i mean, i'm not going to say -- i mean it sounds like it's slightly minimized in
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thathis op-ed and i want to follow up on that. you say a few of the defendants we interviewed complained about being misled by social media. that doesn't sound like the sort of poison of misinformation was the gateway drug to the insurrection. how -- how important is it to combat that? what else did you see as leading them to this insurrection? >> well, i hope i wasn't minimizing it because it is incredibly important we do something about the way our citizens consume information and where that information is coming from, but i think we have to think backwards and look forward. this is why i said 50 years and comes out in my research when i was writing my dissertation. you can only think of people being susceptible to these kind of thoughts, to qanon. i mean you have to wonder why so many people were willing to listen to president trump's big lie in 2020 but also tell the lies he was telling earlier than
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that and all the horrible rhetoric. and why are people getting onboard with that? what about their identity? what about their political views leads them to be susceptible to qanon? so that is the 50 years i was talking about. but, yes, like as an immediate problem now that we have people who are willing to listen to that information and believe that over, you know, the institutions of government and institutions of education, media being an institution, so the distrust in how all the rioters felt, he goes further -- >> and deeper. >> and deeper. when we talk to a lot of the defendants they would have similar talk tracks about, well, you know, i wasn't that political but the government really wasn't there for me, it was for other people. and those are what i note as -- >> the break down in terms of the government being responsive to peoples needs. where does racial animus fit
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into all this? >> that's the worst part. we would hear about blm almost equated to terrorist organization that wanted to burn down cities, and it's not at the same time a lot of the defendants were talking about how they wanted government to work for everybody, and it was impossible for them to understand that the black lives matter movement had those same ideals behind it. and, you know, that's a lot of the racial animus that exists, and that also is tied into the distrust of the federal government that i mentioned. there's a lot of what we call in political science layered reasoning here, so you can think of people seeing the federal government work for rich people rather than ordinary americans and that's one level that does it. for small businesses it can be corporations get tax cuts. a lot of white americans felt left behind in the '60s and '70s it is their view the government
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turned to benefitting the elites and black and brown people, and so like these problems that they see layered on top of each other led them susceptible to a lot of political rhetoric that sort of hijacks those anxieties. >> and those emotions. >> and those emotions. >> james sasso, senior investigative counsel on the january 6th committee, this work you did -- and it's all in the report itself so comb through it. thank you for your time tonight. we will be right back. thank you for your time tonight. we will be right back.
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that is it for us. we will see you again tomorrow. way too early with jonathan lemire is coming up next. my brother was the most peaceful person, the most. he's never lifted a finger to nobody. >> got a long fight ahead of us, and we're going to stay strong for it. so justice foryr


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