CDC purges Trump era junk guidance in quest to restore its good nameThe Rachel Maddow Show
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- 16 Mar 2021
Tonight's guests are Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Spencer Hsu, investigative reporter for the Washington Post.
The Rachel Maddow Show weeknights at 9:00 Eastern on MSNBC. You know, they tried to do it in the most low key, possible way. They tried to take all the heat out of it. No fireworks, nothing to see here. This is just a little administrative hoo ha. It was no big deal. You don't even need to write an article about this. Definitely don't need to talk about it on TV. We are not trying to make a stir.
But it is a big deal. They have finally cleaned it up. Six months ago, almost six months ago, exactly, The New York Times published a couple of exposes about something really bad that was going on at the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC over decades, over generations, built a reputation for excellence and solid science that made it really the international gold standard for public health, CDC science, CDC advice, CDC guidelines are unparalleled worldwide in terms of their influence, their authority, the respect with which they are treated and followed.
It is a part of the US government that we can righteously and uncomplicated to be really proud of as Americans in terms of us having an absolutely uncontested best in the world status, absolutely global leadership. And then the Trump administration happened and they recognized that when the pandemic hit, the world would be looking to the CDC for gold, standard science and guidance on how to understand it, how to combat it. The whole country, the whole world would be looking to the CDC for what counts as scientifically sound policy response to that crisis.
So the Trump administration, the Trump White House, they saw that they recognized what they had in terms of the CDC's incredible reputation for excellence, and they decided that would be an excellent thing to go after with a proverbial baseball bat. And so CDC scientists, including the the plain number two official at the CDC, the career scientist, principal deputy director, and shook it. She was basically shushed by the Trump administration, not allowed to speak to the public any more after her initial comments about covid, about how serious it was seemed to off key compared with the president and the administration's happy talk about it.
The Trump appointee at the top of the agency, CDC director, CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield, was not exactly an ultimate fighting champion when it came to standing up for his agency. We reported, among other things, that CDC scientific teams that had been sent out to investigate mass infections happening by the thousands at meatpacking plants. Dr. Redfield got leaned on by the White House to tell those scientists in the field they needed to change their findings and their recommendations.
He apparently was happy to do so, was happy to pass on that pressure. He called CDC scientists from an office phone at the White House and told them to withdraw their scientific findings and instead issued squishier ones that the White House liked more just because the White House said so. So we reported a lot of people reported on a number of different elements of the CDC coming under inappropriate political pressure six months ago, The New York Times obtained documentation showing that the White House and the Trump administration were repeatedly intervening in the scientific process at the CDC and indeed, they were just publishing their own non-scientific White House junk.
But they were putting it out under the name. And when CDC scientists and CDC officials tried to object to it, they overruled them and this Trump. Nonsense went out as if it was CDC guidance, it's like if you ordered food from a super fancy, fantastic restaurant with an amazing reputation, but I stole the food and instead dropped off some terrible frozen pizza at your house. Right? I put it in the bag from the fancy place, but it was just like your frosted gross old pizza that I had in the back of my freezer.
And that if I did that, first of all, of course, I'm a thief and a fraud. But also, you probably wouldn't order delivery from that fancy restaurant again, right? You probably wouldn't think they were that good, that fancy. Certainly not worth the price since the one time you did order food from them. What arrived?
Was there the Trump White House stealing the CDC's good name? And instead, just putting out their own junk to bolster the president's weird ideas about covid and putting them out under the CDC letterhead. That was worse than their usual fraud and mismanagement because that was the kind of thing that breaks what we most need to be intact. Right. That was the kind of thing that Steeles and sullies the hard earned reputation of the most authoritative source we have in the world, which we really need right now.
At a time when we and the world need authoritative science on how to fight covid, we need them to be doing their best work. It's the worst health crisis in a century. We've never needed to depend on them more. And so the Trump administration cut their knees out from under them and made them put out junk in their name. It's just just terrible like that. That's not that's not like just arson that's slashing all the tires on all the fire trucks at the station and then committing arson.
So six months ago, as I said, The New York Times had a couple of exposes on this disaster with the Trump administration hijacking of the CDC, some of our reporting at the time matched that. Absolutely. It still raises my blood pressure six, six months on, still raises my blood pressure to remember now that they did this. They used the credibility and the authority of the CDC. But they posted their own made up stuff under the name, on the letterhead, on the website of the CDC.
But these aren't actually guidelines devised by CDC, scientists or science. These guidelines did not go through the rigorous scientific review process that makes CDC guidance authoritative and trustworthy in the first place. But still, they put the CDC's name on it. And CDC scientists are being told in a document obtained by the Times that their objections to this guidance don't matter. Guidance is going out under their name anyway because the White House and the Trump administration say so. And this is probably the part where the CDC director is supposed to resign.
Either in protest of this happening. Or in shame for having allowed this to happen to his agency under his watch, either spying either would be fine. That was that was this show six months ago. The Trump appointed CDC director, Robert Redfield, did not resign. But not long after that show, the American people, of course, decided that Robert Redford's boss in the White House, Donald Trump, would be retired from the White House against his will.
And so we got a new president, a new administration that meant a new CDC director. And now, finally today, without any fanfare whatsoever, they started to do the cleanup, the number two official at the CDC doctor, and look at who had been silenced alongside other career scientists at the CDC under the Trump administration. Dr. Shusett today submitted this very low key report to the new CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, President Biden's appointee to run the CDC.
And Schuchat, again, was one of the career scientists whose public statements and appearances were stopped by the Trump White House. Well, in the Biden administration, she's allowed to have public facing documents and appearances again. And in fact, they put her in charge right away of going back over all the CDC covid guidance and advice that was published during the Trump administration to make sure that none of the junk survived to take out to remove anything that hadn't really been CDC science that the Trump administration insisted be put out anyway.
She was in charge of a review to identify and root out the junk the Trump administration put out in the CDC's name or watered down or otherwise corrupted at that agency so that once again, we, the public, we, the world can have confidence in what the CDC says about covid. And so this was publicly posted at the CDC website today with no fanfare whatsoever. It's all it didn't even have a headline on it. You had to scroll through all of the various statements in the press section of the CDC's website to find it with no headline on it.
It's all written in language so low key that it might clinically work as an anti inflammatory. But you can't hide this news. For those of us who care about the CDC as the world's gold standard authority on public health, they are not trying to make this a political thing. There is the word Trump and interference and politics doesn't doesn't appear in this document. But they're fixing it, and the bottom line is that in their quiet way and they're diligent, quiet way, they are now making clear that all this stuff is gone.
For example, given the importance of reopening of America's schools this fall, not a typo, that was the title that was the Trump administration thing last July that was forced onto the CDC. It was not their work, but it was put out in CDC's name by the Trump White House. One clear sign that something might be wrong there is that there really is an extra of in the title the importance of reopening of America's schools this fall. That's such a Trump White House kind of thing.
I'm surprised it wasn't in all caps with some Suares, but that is one of the things that is now gone. That was junk put out in the CDC's name. It's gone now. Also, that weird thing they put out in the CDC's website, April of last year, opening up America again. See, it's almost like the president's slogan and intentionally so not the CDC is work, but put up on the CDC's website. That is gone now.
There was that bizarre turn in August after President Trump had spent all summer saying the only reason we had so many cases in this country is because we were doing so much of that dumb testing. We should slow down the testing and not test so much, because if you never get on the scale, that means you never gain weight. I mean, it was one thing to hear that particular president voice, that anti testing inane nonsense all last summer. It was another thing.
It was stomach churning, frankly, to see a document put out with the CDC's name on it that repeated it. That said, yeah, actually, we should test fewer people, remember when the CDC put this out last year, inexplicably, if you don't have symptoms, don't bother getting tested, even if you've been exposed to somebody who has it. They put that out with the CDC's name on it. In August, it was instantly apparent that it was trash from the Trump White House.
But they put it out and now it's gone. The city's now restoring integrity. How do you get your reputation back in part by owning up to the stuff that was done inappropriately, removing, naming it, removing it, making sure it doesn't happen again? That's what they're doing. The CDC director under President Biden, Dr. Walensky, ordered a top to bottom review of all the statements about covid made in his name, all of the statements that had been corrupted and falsified by inappropriate interference from the Trump administration and the Trump White House directly.
That review is now done and the trash is gone. Now, we just need to be sure that kind of attack on the CDC never happens again, or if anybody ever tries it again, it never gets that far again. I still can't believe that Robert Redfield never quit in protest of what they did to the agency he was supposedly running. While he was in charge of it, but that that will be what he lives with as his reputation and what he did to public health in America and in the world under his leadership while he let all that happen.
And he participated in the corrupting efforts that disgraced the CDC at that critical time, never resigned, never peeped, just an incredible disgrace. But at least now it is finally cleaned up. That happened today. Big news today in the cabinet and the Interior Department. Former New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Holland was confirmed this evening in the United States Senate to serve as our nation's next interior secretary. Deb Holland today becomes the first Native American to lead the Interior Department.
She is the first indigenous person to serve as a cabinet secretary of any kind in the history of this country and the symbolism of her leading the Interior Department. It almost takes your breath away, right? I mean, this is the department. This is the part of the US government that manages the country's tribal lands. The interior secretary is in charge of managing the historically fraught relationship between the federal government and more than five hundred and seventy federally recognized tribes.
The decisions made by the US Interior Department have a hugely outsized impact on the daily lives of indigenous people in this country. So to have that department now run by an original descendant of this nation, it's just a it's just a it's a stunning piece of symbolism. It's monumentally important. And you could feel some of that around the time of her confirmation hearings last month. This, for example, this is Brandee Liberty. Here she is holding up a photo of her grandmother as a young girl, her grandmother was born on her tribe's reservation.
She didn't become a US citizen until she was nine. Brandi says her grandmother was a fierce advocate for her people. She says the work that Deb Holland can do as the head of the Interior Department reminds her of the work that her grandmother did just on a larger scale. This is Debbie Ness, Manuell and her husband, Royce. They belong to the Navajo Nation. Debbie actually spoke to Deb Holland on the phone. Once Debbie was running for state legislature.
Deb Holland endorsed her. Debbie says Deb Holland shared stories about life on and off the reservation, which resonated with her. Debbie and her husband said they would not miss Deb Holland's confirmation hearing for the world. They signed on to a virtual watch party to support her to be there for it. This was a billboard in Billings, Montana, before Deb Holland's confirmation, quote, The first people of this land, the last to receive the vote, our first secretary of the interior.
This was projected outside the Interior Department's headquarters in D.C. the night before her hearing our ancestors dreams come true. Tonight, that dream became official, Deb Holland confirmed with bipartisan support in the US Senate. She is now our nation's secretary of the interior, which means that President Biden, more than 50 days into his presidency, is one step closer to a fully confirmed cabinet. Biden is waiting for the Senate to confirm five more cabinet level positions, including some of the big ones, like health secretary, for example.
President so far has had to yank just one of his nominees, his picked to run the Office of Management and Budget. Neera Tanden. As of now, President Biden says that Neera Tanden will have a different job in the administration, has still not named a new nominee for the Office of Management and Budget. One of the people who had been described as potentially in contention for that was a long, a long Democratic policy expert named Gene Sperling today. Gene Sperling was instead named to be the point person for the implementation of the big covid really felt the one point nine trillion dollar American rescue plan.
Gene Sperling, will not be put forward as the OMB nominee. Instead, he will be in charge essentially of accountability to make sure that bill is put into effect well, efficiently and without bottlenecks. There has been there has been a lot going on in the administration in the past week, a lot of stuff from here on out, I think is going to continue to focus on the covert relief bill. Today, the Biden administration set sail on what they're calling the help is here to President Biden, Vice President Harris.
Their spouses are going to be going out all over the country to promote the covid relief bill they just shepherded into law. The first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, was in New Jersey today at an elementary school. Dr. Biden, of course, is herself an educator. She was reminding school officials today with this visit that part of the money from the relief bill goes to schools like this one to help them reopen fully and safely while preventing it from spreading in the classroom.
That's the kind of thing that is the point of this road show the administration is on right now. It's not selling people on the idea of the covid relief bill because it is already passed. It is signed, sealed and delivered this this national tour as about making sure everybody knows about what just passed every stakeholder schools, vaccination centers, American families, everybody is about to get a slice of help from this legislation. This tour is about making sure they all know that a slice of this particular pie is coming their way.
Vice President Harris and her husband were in Las Vegas today as part of this effort. They went to a vaccination center and a culinary academy. This is how she explained the reason that she and the president are going to be traveling all over the country this week talking about what this legislation will do. It's literally letting people know their rights, right? It's kind of like you you buy a product, you've already been sold on the product, but you need some directions on the box usually.
Right. And so this is about, hey, know that you're entitled to this, file your taxes so that you can speed up the benefits that you're going to receive. Talk to your friends, neighbors about getting vaccinations, because we are speeding up the delivery and the supply of vaccinations and sites like Unhealthy. This is these are the things we are doing to let people know what they are entitled to and to spread the word. Think of it more as a public education campaign.
This is what's happening. This is what you're entitled to receive.
And so go out there and get it more of a public education campaign. Let people know what they are entitled to and how to get it. Go out there and get it.
And that is that is indeed part of it. It's also in political terms, it is also a victory lap to brag on the fact that this was done, that in 50 days they took the country from zero to one point nine trillion in terms of help to individual American families and in terms of massively ramping up the covid response. I mean, this weekend, millions of Americans got their direct deposit relief checks. Fourteen hundred dollar stimulus payments that were part of the big covid relief bill for eligible Americans who haven't gotten their checks yet.
They are on the way. They are going out very fast. This victory lap national tour is an opportunity for President Biden and Vice President Harris and Democrats in Congress to say to the American people, hey, those checks of your account that direct deposited in your account, your health care premiums dropping by hundreds of dollars a month, the tax credits, child tax credits that are doing a lot every month to lift you and your family out of poverty. I mean, if for middle class families demonstrably raising people's income, for families making fifty to ninety thousand dollars a year and that sort of middle income strata, just the components of this bill that apply to people in that strata, it's like giving people a five or six percent raise in your salary just from this one bill.
And that's not it. And it's all the more so for for people who are further down on the on the income spectrum.
So this is the president and the vice president and congressional Democrats saying, hey, we did that, which is good politics. The point is to try to get the American people to connect the dots here. Right. The common wisdom in the Democratic Party right now is that the Obama administration didn't pull that off effectively enough in 2009 when they had their stimulus. They put money into people's pockets through their economic recovery bill when we had the economic crisis then, but nobody knew it.
It was passed in such a way and it was sort of underwhelming, promoted in such a way that voters didn't give them enough credit for the help that was in that bill. Democrats got killed in the next midterm election. Joe Biden was around for that in 2009. And so you're seeing Democrats here having a lessons learned moment, show your work, tell the American people what you did for them, and maybe they'll ask ask you back the next time they go back to the ballot box.
Now that the covid relief bill is passed, though, now that we are onto the public education campaign, part of it, they brag about your accomplishments. Part of it, the question of what the Biden administration and the Democratic controlled Congress are going to tackle next really is wide open because they have a lot of options to choose from. I mean, look at what the House has done in addition to passing covid relief already. I mean, the House passed a landmark LGBTQ civil rights bill.
The House passed a landmark bill to expand background checks for gun sales. The House is actively working on a bill that would grant statehood to Washington, D.C. That's going to hold a hearing on that next week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying this weekend that the House is now also ready to take up a sweeping infrastructure bill. She's instructed all the key committees in the House to start working on it. Looming over all of this is the for the People Act, the massive voting rights and democracy reform bill that the House passed earlier this month, this is absolutely formative and seminal.
That bill is essentially right now the only national response to the wave of Republican backed bills in Republican controlled states that will roll back people's access to the ballot box. It will end partisan gerrymandering. It will put a bright light on all the dark money in politics. It will create a federal national guarantee, put a floor under what states can do in terms of rolling back voting rights.
While Republican controlled states are moving as aggressively as they have in a century to roll back voting rights, I mean, like like I said, Democrats have a full menu to choose from in terms of what they're going to do next. Even if you're just looking at major pieces of legislation that have already passed the House or are on their way to do so soon. But for each one of those legislative priorities, honestly, nobody has any idea. How it's going to pass.
Nobody has any idea what exactly is going to come next and how exactly those bills are going to pass the Senate. We know how they passed the coveted relief bill. Can they pull that same trick off again with another one of these bills? Which are they going to choose if they're going to use that same process? What happens next fully depends on Chuck Schumer and the forty nine other Democrats in his chamber. And it is easy to be cynical here, right, for all these all these pieces of legislation that have passed the House that are going to pass the House, Democrats in the Senate need 10 Republican senators to sign on with them.
Otherwise, these things are dead on arrival ish unless they can move or maneuver around that before you. Fast forward to the end of the movie, though, right before you decide it's all a foregone conclusion that all this stuff passing the house won't go anywhere else. Look at what they just did with covid. Relief checks are in people's pockets right now. Health care premiums are going down right now. American families are going to start a rise out of poverty.
It's going to be how it's going to cut child poverty in half, cut overall poverty in this country by a third, all because of what Chuck Schumer was able to muscle through the Senate. Well, what are they going to do next and how are they going to get it passed? We're having a moment in this country, how long is this moment going to last? Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer joins us live here next. Stay with us. Joining us now from Washington for the interview tonight is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the senator from New York.
Senator Schumer, it's really nice of you to make this time. Thank you so much. Thank you for having me, Rachel. So when we spoke in January, when I came down to D.C. to see you, you told me that you felt it was important to get big, strong, bold things done. You told me, quote, We will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do. How how's that going so far?
Well, so far, so good, Rachel. You know, when we started out, they said, how are they going to get three big things done at once, the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, which I think showed what despicable man he was cabinet.
We now have six by the end of this week, 16 of the cabinet, almost all will be in there. You mentioned Deb Holland. What a historic choice. Native Americans have never had a seat at the table. Now they do. We put more money into the AARP bill for Native Americans than ever before. And she'll stop the rape of our great federal lands by the oil companies. We're putting people in like that. And then, of course, we did the AARP, the AARP, as you said, Democrats promise put us in office.
You'll get checks. They're getting checks put in an office. The vaccines will start coming forward. They are put us in office and will do something about child poverty, food banks, helping people pay the rent. So many different things. And we are getting those done. But, Rachel, we are just getting started.
Our caucus knows from one end to the other that we need big, bold action not just to get out of the credit crisis, as difficult as that is. But also there were so many problems that America had before covid started. We have to tackle them. There are many that we have to tackle. We have to tackle climate. We have to tackle income and racial inequality. We have to strengthen our democracy and not let the despicable activities that you mentioned earlier by these Republican legislators go on.
We have a big, bold agenda, but we're getting it done. We're going to have to get it done. Failure is not an option and we are just getting started. I think you mentioned the democracy reforms and I did describe some of those rollbacks that are happening in the states right now compared to when we talked to in January. I do think a lot of people around the country right now are sort of freaking out about what is happening in Republican controlled states everywhere, from Iowa to Arizona to Georgia to Texas, all over the country, anywhere Republicans have power.
It's it's being called the biggest rollback in voting rights since Jim Crow is that that sudden assaults in the states, the Republican controlled states, is that changing the calculus for you at all about, well, what is going to be necessary to pass the for the people act first?
What they're doing is despicable and it's racist. Racist. It's it's Jim Crow. I mean, in Georgia, one of the ways we won is the African-American community was mobilized. One of the things they like they have done very successfully is what they call souls to the polls.
People go to church on Sunday and then buses come to the church and they go and vote. Early voting is allowed for several weeks in Georgia before the election. All of a sudden, the legislature, for no reason that they can justify, says no more Sunday voting aimed at preventing black people from voting. It's despicable. In some states they're saying you want to vote by mail, you need a notary public. Now, what poor person is going to be able to bring a notary public to their home to witness these things?
So this is one of the most despicable things that has been done. And yes, that is why when I became majority leader, I made the democracy. We the people built one which includes so much. And it's very important.
And there were other things important to the Biden build back better proposal, which combines strong climate change, millions of jobs for people who haven't had jobs before, good paying jobs before, low paying jobs, no jobs, people who got out of prison and making sure that as we build a massive infrastructure proposal, not only is it green, but it particularly pays attention to the people who are left out, poor people, people of color that's high on the list.
We have a big agenda to do and our caucus knows we have to get it done. Will it be easy? No. Passing this AARP was not easy, but we have no choice if we want to move America forward. The good side of this is, as people saw when Democrats got in, it's really making a difference in their lives.
If we can continue to show people that that we can actually govern and get things done, then the kinds of of siren call, of racism, of bigotry, of divisiveness that Donald Trump and other dictatorial type personalities who are floating around and trying to gain politically, they won't be able to gain.
We can fill the void with real accomplishment that makes people's lives better. You were able to pass the American rescue plan, which does have a very practical impact on the vast majority of people in this country, as evidenced by the fact that people have started receiving fourteen hundred dollar checks in their bank accounts already as of this weekend. But you were able to do that procedurally using the budget reconciliation rules so that Republicans couldn't use the filibuster against it. You were able to pass it with a simple majority of 50 votes.
You can only do that so many times, though. Is there just one more opportunity to do that with one more piece of legislation this year? Is that how budget reconciliation works?
Well, we are exploring the ways to use budget reconciliation and we are trying to make it as flexible and as broad as possible so we can do many different kinds of things, that's for sure.
But obviously, it's not going to work in every instance. It has to have a fiscal impact, as you know. And so some things don't. Those things we're going to have to pass and on things like that, we would welcome Republican support, no question about it. And maybe some of them will see the light on some of these issues. But if we don't get Republican support, we have to move forward with big, bold action and our caucus will come together.
We will figure out the best way to go. Everything everything will be on the table and we will move forward. We have to. Can you tell us at all about those discussions among Democrats about whether obviously the filibuster rules have changed over time? They changed just a few years ago to not apply to Supreme Court nominations. They changed a few years before that, to not apply to other nominations below the Supreme Court. Is are those kinds of discussions about is it is it a black and white?
Let's keep the filibuster or let's call it discussion? Or are you talking about ways that it might be narrowed down so that it didn't apply to specific kinds of legislation? There are proposals that it shouldn't apply, for example, the Voting Rights Act.
Well, let me say this first. I think we will show and our caucus gained strength from showing unity in getting some things done as the AARP and very possibly the build back better. Second, I think we we will show the public.
We will see we will test our Republican friends when we put them. You know, when McConnell was the leader, he put none of these good things that you mentioned earlier that the House passed on the floor.
I will put them on the floor and we will see on very popular issues where Republicans stand. I recently said when the House passed the background checks bill, I'll put it on the floor, 90 percent of the American people are for background checks, 80 percent of gun owners are for background checks. Where do our Republican friends stand? And if they go along with us, great. If they feel the pressure. There were campaigns mounting right now on these issues in their states, which I think are very good.
I don't mean political campaigns. I mean issue oriented campaigns, door knocking and things like that. And if they go along with this, great. But it's not as I said, we are going to have to put our caucus together, put our heads together in our caucus and figure out the best way to go. Everything's on the table. The one thing I think we do understand which helps us, Rachel, is that every Democrat and we have a diversity of views, as you know, but every Democrat understands that we have to move forward in a very significant way.
Some would prefer to test the Republicans for a longer period of time, some for a shorter period of time.
But we have to when I have a leadership team, we meet Monday night who's on my leadership team, where we discuss where to go, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin and Mark Warner. And time and time again, we respect each other's views. We talk it through and then we move forward successfully. And that's what I believe we will continue to do. And a big, bold way.
We have no choice. America needs it. When do you think we'll start seeing the first judicial nominations move forward? Obviously the Trump administration did that in a machine like way. They put hundreds of judges with lifetime tenure on the on the courts. We haven't seen any judicial nominations from this president yet. Will we should we expect those soon? Yes, I've been working with the White House and urging them that we they put so many right wing beliefs, some of the people who they put on the bench where people I hate to use all these bad words, but they're just horrible.
They had no understanding of working in the other person's shoes. They were narrow, right wing, often young people. So we have to restore the balance to the bench. And that's of great urgency. And we will and we are I am already discussing the process for nominations that once we filled a cabinet and where and the major appointments to the president, we're almost done with that. We will move on and start appointing judges and redressing the imbalance that Trump put on the bench.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said it's nice to have this much time with you. Thank you so much for your time tonight. Good to see you. It's great to be with you. And tell your listeners we will change America in a big, bold way. We must. It's an imperative and failure is not an option.
All right. Much more to get to here tonight. Stay with us. So it's not like he was keeping it a secret defendant's ideology was no secret to his coworkers, nor could it have been as indicated by multiple co-workers. Defendant shaved his facial hair into a Hitler mustache, which he wore while on duty that said, quote, defendant's affinity for Hitler and the Nazi party went far beyond facial hair. That's a filing from federal prosecutors arguing that this man, arrested on seven counts for his role in the US capital attack should not be let out of jail pending trial.
At the time of the attack, he was an Army reservist, also working as a contractor at a US Navy base in New Jersey on that Navy base where he worked. The man his name is Timothy Hale. Cucinelli, according to prosecutors, was say it was well known among his co-workers as a vocal white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer after he got arrested for his alleged role in the US Capitol attack. NCIS, the Real One Navy Criminal Investigative Service, interviewed forty four of his colleagues at work at the Navy base.
Of the forty four colleagues they interviewed, thirty four of them told investigators that, yes, he held, quote, extremist or radical views pertaining to Jewish people, minorities and women. When thirty four out of forty four people interviewed about it, about you can confirm that. Yeah, you hate the Jews and minorities and women. Maybe you've been talking about this too much at work. If his stated views at work were not a giveaway, then perhaps there was also the fact that he did wear a Hitler mustache while on duty at the Navy base.
Maybe that could have been a tip off, too, especially after he was rebuked by a supervisor for wearing that particular kind of mustache, especially because he very clearly meant it to be a Hitler mustache. My God. Nevertheless, this contractor with a very public affinity for for Hitler, including wearing a Hitler mustache, continued to work at that Navy base, all the while holding a secret level security clearance. If you can hold a security clearance while having views that obvious, what what is a problem for getting and holding a security clearance?
All the best people, all the best people in the pro Trump mob that attacked the capital on January 6th, today, two different men were charged with assaulting Brian Cesnik, the US Capitol Police officer who died after being injured in the January 6th attack last month. Officer Neck, you may remember, he lay in honor at the US Capitol. That is a very rare honor in our country. It is an incredibly solemn and sobering thing, according to federal prosecutors today.
Thirty two year old West Virginia man and a thirty nine year old New Jersey man, their friends who grew up together, they apparently went to the Capitol together on the 6th. Prosecutors say they worked in tandem. They worked together at the Capitol attack to attack officers with some kind of irritant spray. They were allegedly captured on video footage discussing the use of bear spray before employing that or something like it against Brian Cesnik and two other officers, one of whom was injured enough by the spray that she apparently had scabs all over her face, physical injuries to the skin on her face after being hit with this stuff.
Both of these men appeared at separate court appearances today. Government prosecutors argue that they, too, should be held in custody until their next court hearings. Joining us now is Spencer Shiu, legal reporter for The Washington Post, who's been covering these arrests and more. Mr. Shue, it's nice to see you tonight. Thank you for joining us. My pleasure. Thanks for having. The death of Officer Cesnik is something that resonates morally and materially for us as a country since the January 6th attack, but it is one that has been shrouded in a lot of mystery.
We don't yet know the exact circumstances of officer death. As far as I understand, there hasn't been an autopsy report released about the cause of his death. Do these arrests today advance the story any further in terms of what we understand about this officer losing his life? Yes, yes, you put the big caveat up front, which is neither of these men is charged with the death of officer said that officer signets death has not been ruled a homicide because there has not yet been a cause of death established.
Having said that, this is a bit of a breakthrough for investigators 10 weeks after the attack, being able to find evidence of the assault in surveillance and other openly sourced video tracking that back with officers body worn cameras allegedly showing Jeremy Julien Katar spraying the substance about five or six feet away from officers that he allegedly obtained from George Tadeus. And and then they received tips confirming by by by individuals who say they confirmed the identity of these two men based on FBI wanted images.
Having said that, prosecuting authorities say that they don't know what, if any, connection this assault may have had with Officer Signets death. What we know is that the acting attorney general at the time, Jay Rosen, said that he died, Officer Cygnet died as a result of the injuries he suffered defending the US Capitol. Capitol Police said he was injured while physically engaging with protesters and also said he died because of injuries he sustained while on duty. But they have not taken the opportunity as of yet to say if he was injured in some other way.
And this particular episode and the toxicology results have not been made available, which is unusual after two weeks. Spencer, one of the things that we have been following and covering here is efforts by online researchers and civilian volunteers to comb through the the comb through the open source stuff that's out there to try to answer the FBI's call for information about these the hundreds of people now that the FBI has asked about information on and among some of those researchers and particularly talking to reporters who have been fed information by those researchers, there's been frustration that sometimes they don't know what the FBI is doing with this information.
They don't know if the stuff they're able to piece together, the tips they are able to provide are going anywhere if the FBI's acting on them. This does seem like one of those cases, though, where tips from the public did help lead the FBI to these arrests today. Is that fair to say?
Oh, absolutely. I think over and over again, we've actually know reading these charging affidavits, seeing signs that investigators are very much helped by tips. They've said they've received two hundred and ten thousand tips from the public. You mentioned this case. There's another prominent case of alleged members of the Oath Keepers, several people from Ohio that are part of the 10 person indictment. One of the largest group of co-defendants allegedly conspired in the capital that were found by on my sluttiest who had worked with The New Yorker magazine, WNYC Radio also work that work on that same group because one of their militia researchers was listening to a radio like like in real time that day, January 6th, where they got word that a militia investigator reported hearing some of these alleged conspirators talking while in the capital.
And so, yes, there've been a number of cases where the online community, where it's belling the cat or a group, the citizen lab at the University of Toronto, have been involved. Local reporter for The Washington Post, Spencer Shu, Mr. Shue, thank you so much for joining us. We've been following your reporting closely on this story. It's good to have you here.
Thanks so much. All right, we'll be right back. Stay with us. Even though the Trump administration is technically over as a country, we're still suffering from a hangover from some of the Trump era's worst decisions, like, for example, the hiring of this guy, Republican mega donor Louis Dejoy, who Trump hired to run the post office into the ground under his disastrous tenure. We've had, of course, a precipitous decline in the On-Time delivery of the Mail.
But even though Trump is gone now, Louis Dejoy is still there at the head as the head of the Postal Service. That's because the rules say he can only be fired by the board who hired him, while President Biden has nominated three new people to take seats on that board. Today, the White House officially sent those nominees names to the Senate. That's important because if those nominees are confirmed, the board will consist of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, plus one independent who happens to be a nonpartisan, technocratic expert on voting by mail.
If these new nominees are confirmed, that would mean that they could finally get rid of the Trump guy. They could finally get rid of Lewis Dejoy again. The names of the new nominees went to the Senate today to start the confirmation process. Watch this space. The Rachel Maddow Show weeknights at 9:00 Eastern on MSNBC.