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[00:00:00]

The Rachel Maddow Show weeknights at 9:00 Eastern on MSNBC. Happy to have you here. Now, by rules of the courts, we're not allowed to record what happens, let alone broadcast a recording of it on TV. Federal courts don't allow cameras in the courtroom. Now, reporters and members of the public are allowed to be there themselves in person to watch or cover for the press most court proceedings. But that's it. You can you can sit in the courtroom and take notes and report on what you saw and what you heard while you were there.

[00:00:33]

But no cameras, no still cameras, no video cameras, no tape recording of the court proceedings. And that's been true forever in federal courts. I mean, you have to allow reporters in and members of the public in because it's a key value in our constitutional system that the administration of justice is. It's a public, that it's open to the public, it's transparent. We can see what what court proceedings are like. We can see what federal trials are like.

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So most proceedings let the public in, let reporters in to watch, but no cameras and some state state courts do let cameras in. And it's a controversial thing that they don't do it in the federal system, but in the federal courts, federal judges have decided against it. I think the basic idea is that they don't want that sensationalism of having federal trials play out on live TV or play out on the news. They don't want people involved in federal court proceedings playing to the camera for a fact, knowing it's going to be broadcast on TV later.

[00:01:31]

So all this to say I cannot play you the tape. I cannot play you a recording of what happened. But many court proceedings are held by Zoome these days, just like everything else because of the pandemic. And so today, a lot of reporters were listening in at this particular federal court proceeding over Zoome. And no, I cannot play you the tape of the screaming and yelling at this court hearing, but I can tell you with confidence, there was definitely screaming and yelling.

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Now, we just got the transcript tonight because reporters were able to listen in while this thing happened live. We know the tone in which the words in the transcript were uttered. The Washington Post in The New York Times simply called it a, quote, tantrum. Today, USA Today described the defendant in this case as, quote, erupting. The Daily Beast described him as, quote, losing it in court. And I'm not a good actor, so I'm not sure how much emotion I can accurately convey here.

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But here it is. The judge. Mr Barnett. Are you with us? You may be muted, Mr Barnett. We may have lost Mr Barnett, who is obviously the reason we're all here this morning. Pause the courtroom deputy. Mr Barnett. The defendant. Mr Barnett. Yes, the judge. Thank you for joining us again. Good morning. Mr Barnett, this is Judge Cooper. Can you hear me? The defendant. Good morning.

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Yes, I can hear you. The judge. OK, just like last time, we would obviously usually do this in person, but due to the pandemic, we are proceeding remotely. Are you OK with proceeding via telephone this morning? The defendant? Yes, that's fine. The judge. OK, very well. If you could your phone now, unless we need to hear from you, that would be very helpful. The defendant. OK, I'll mute now.

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The judge. Thank you, sir. Then the judge turns to the prosecutors. He says, all right, Miss Dauman or Miss MacLaine, where are we? One of the prosecutors, Nicole McClain, says, yes, your honor. And so at this time, I believe there's going to be a change in counsel in this case, which means the defendant is actually changing his defense lawyers and they're in the middle of that process happening. Prosecutor says, I had sent over to the defence lawyer a proposed protective order in this case for discovery that he was going to share with his client and speak to his client about.

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We've provided some discovery informally in this case, specifically through the US attorney's office in Arkansas. The government is still undertaking this massive effort to gather discovery in this and all of the capital riot cases. But the government is going to ask for today is for a continuance of sixty days to gather discovery, to discuss the protective order and for the new attorneys in the case to get up to speed on what has been done. The judge and the last time we were here, no plea offer had been extended.

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Is that still the case, prosecutor? That is still the case, Your Honor, and that is still the case in all January 6th cases, meaning no January 6th, arrestees have been offered a plea deal by the government. The judge says, OK, just out of curiosity, what is the government's estimate of the guidelines range for the dangerous weapons charge here? Have you done that calculation then some discussion between the judge and the prosecutors on how much time in prison the defendant might ultimately be looking at if he's convicted on the dangerous weapons charge he is facing that results like this?

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The prosecutor for the fifteen twelve, it's going to be the highest defence level here. I believe it's going to be a base offense level of fourteen. The maximum sentence on the fifteen. Twelve is a twenty year term of imprisonment and a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar fine judge. OK, all right. Just trying to figure out what we've got. And he turns to defence counsel, counsel, May 4th at 11 a.m.. Does that work for you, defence lawyer.

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One moment, Your Honor. Yes, that works for me. Yes. And then up pops the defendant. He unmuted himself defendant. I'm sorry. I need a sidebar with my counsel. That doesn't work for me. I need a sidebar. A different defence lawyer stands up. Richard, this is Stephen Metcalf, the defendant. I need a sidebar. I need a sidebar.

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Defence lawyer Stephen Metcalf. Listen, Richard, this that we're talking about now, this is a date wholly separate from any application for bail for you. So just hang tight. We're going to hash out everything we need to do with the court right now. There are a couple of other issues that we need to address, and we will speak to you as soon as you give us a call back today. Did you hear me, the defendant? Yes, I understand.

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But I've been here a long time. I've been here a month, and they're going to set it for another month and everybody else is getting out.

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Defence lawyer Richard the judge. OK, defence lawyer, I'm asking you to just hang tight. We're going to address a couple of other matters. The defendant I don't agree with this date. It's not fair.

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First, defence lawyer. So Mr Barnett, the judge. All right, Counsel, let me cut the short. OK, the defendant. I'm on the phone. I can't have a sidebar with my attorney. It's not fair. The judge, counsel, why don't we take five, the defendant, we need to start doing this in person, remember, the defendant just consented to doing this, not in person when the judge asked him directly at the start of the hearing.

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But now he says we need to start doing this in person. The judge. Mr Barnett, hold on, sir. We're going to take five and one of you meeting one of the defense lawyers. You can step into another room and contact Mr Barnett. Is that possible, the defendant? It is possible. We've done it before. The judge. Hold on, sir. Hold on. Hold on. Here's what we're going to do. The court will set a date for a further status hearing on May 4th at 11:00 a.m..

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The defendant. Oh, no, sir. The judge in the meantime, sir, if your counsel, the defendant, I have a phone number right here, he can call me. He's done this before. I've got a phone number right here. He can call me on the defense lawyer. Judge, I'll take the number. The judge. All right, take the number, speak to your client, and then we'll reconvene in five minutes.

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The defendant, the government keeps dragging this out and letting everybody else out.

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Defense lawyer Richard Richard, meaning the defendant. Richard, I'm advising you to just stop the judge, counsel, step out and call your client. The court goes into recess. Now, it is not reflected in the official transcript that we have obtained. But one reporter who is monitoring the hearing today for The Daily Beast swears that at that point in the proceeding as they were going to recess, the defendant also screamed, forgive me, quote, This has been a bunch of crap.

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The defendant in question here is this fellow who you will recognize from the immediate aftermath of the January 6th attack, this is the guy who mugged for the camera with his feet up on the desk in Nancy Pelosi's office, who outside the Capitol bragged to reporters about what he had stolen from Pelosi's office after the attack, after which she walked free and went back home. Local law enforcement in Arkansas declined to go arrest him. They just got in touch with him and gave him time to come turn himself in on his own schedule.

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When FBI agents arrived at his home in Arkansas with a search warrant, he told them that he had moved all of his guns out of the house and that they wouldn't find anything in his house to incriminate him because he told the officers, quote, I'm a smart man. You ain't going to find nothing out there. I assure you I'm a smart man. Among the things officers did find at his house was the empty packaging for the nine hundred and fifty thousand volt cattle prod style stun gun that he allegedly wore into the Capitol.

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I guess that is something that they might find there. The FBI affidavit in his case points out that in some of the photos of him reveling in Nancy Pelosi's office, you can actually see the top of that. Nine hundred and fifty thousand volt stun gun there on his left hip tucked into his belt. I'm a smart man. You won't find nothing. His name is Richard Barnett. He has been in custody awaiting trial. He's been charged with seven different crimes in federal court.

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Now he is in the process of getting himself new lawyers apparently didn't like the old ones. As I said, he's been charged with seven different crimes, including a weapons charge that we learned in court today could put him in federal prison for up to 20 years. We also learned in federal court today from his tantrum that he is absolutely convinced that he shouldn't be in jail any more right now while he awaits trial. He says it is not fair. He thinks he should be let out after the judge called this five minute recess today so he could try to get a hold of himself.

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His lawyers came back into the proceedings with the judge and calmly agreed to the next date that the judge had proposed in his case, the next status hearing. In his case, the lawyers will file something in the meantime to try to get him out of jail while he's awaiting trial. That's actually a separately adjudicated matter. But as of now, he is very upset about his one month or so that he has been in federal custody awaiting trial. Again, he's potentially facing 20 years in prison.

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He's very, very upset, uncontrollably upset today that he's been in jail even this long. Tonight, CNN's Evan Perez reports that federal investigators are, quote, examining records of communications between members of Congress and the pro Trump mob that attacked the US Capitol, as the investigation moves closer to exploring whether lawmakers wittingly or unwittingly helped the insurrectionists. The data gathered so far includes indications of contact with lawmakers, meaning contact between the writers and lawmakers in the days around January 6th.

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It seems like what investigators maybe have so far is metadata, meaning records that show calls and maybe texts between members of Congress and the rioters, metadata showing that it happened at such and such a time and such and such a date, potentially even where the phones were located when those communications happened on and around January 6th. As to the content of those calls and texts, though, it sounds like investigators aren't looking at the content of those communications yet. Quoting Evan Perez tonight, quote, Should investigators find probable cause that lawmakers or their staff aided the insurrectionists?

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They could seek warrants to obtain the content of the communications, quote. So far, investigators haven't found evidence that members of Congress knowingly aided or were involved in the insurrection. But the FBI has seized devices belonging to alleged rioters and has found communications that show connections that investigators plan to further examine. New reporting from CNN tonight. It hasn't been confirmed by NBC News, but federal prosecutors are looking at direct communications between members of Congress and the rioters around January 6th.

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That dovetails a little bit with what we learned from Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan last week. Congressman Ryan has been really directly involved in the January 6th investigations, in part because he heads up the part of the House that oversees the Capitol Police. So he has very close working relationship with the Capitol Police. And he told us here last week that federal investigators are also now reviewing footage, meaning videotape footage of Capitol tours that were given by some members of Congress or their staff the day before the Capitol attack.

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Some members of Congress have come forward and said they believe their colleagues in the House, other members of Congress, may have invited into the Capitol the day before the attack people who were part of the mob. The following day, on January 6th, Congressman Ryan told us that footage of those weird Capitol tours has been handed over to the US attorney's office in D.C. so federal prosecutors can review that footage to see if, in fact, those might have essentially been reconnaissance missions facilitated by sympathetic members of Congress to help the rioters basically cased the joint and get their bearings inside the Capitol before they attacked it and tried to ransack the place the following day.

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There are reportedly more than two dozen federal prosecutors now who've been assigned to the complex task of putting together potential prosecutions for planning and aiding and abetting the attack, including the question of whether political figures, including lawmakers and staff, aided the attackers.

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Today, because of warnings from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement sources, warnings that pro Trump forces might again try some sort of follow on attack on the Capitol today, the House was not in session out of an abundance of caution on their schedule. They had two bills they wanted to pass yesterday and today the for the People Democracy Reform Bill, which we'll talk a little bit more about later. And the George Floyd Justice and Policing Police Reform Bill.

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They had planned to do those over two days yesterday. And today they changed their schedule because of the threat. They ended up just staying late last night and passing them both so that they didn't have to be at the Capitol today just in case. And everything ended up being peaceful in Washington today, as far as anybody can tell. And so, of course, they're getting criticized for overreacting to the threat and these warnings from law enforcement and the FBI.

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But, you know, given what happened last time and given, you know, the stun gun guy throwing the tantrum over, still being in custody today, he was sort of right about one thing of the three hundred plus people arrested thus far for their part in the pro Trump violent mob attack on the Capitol. Most of those three hundred plus people have been released on their own recognizance to await trial from home. Most of those people are at liberty right now.

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Even some of the people accused of and charged with some of the most violent and intimidating acts have been let out by judges who have decided they don't need to stay in custody until their trial date comes around. So maybe the House is still a little skittish, given what they went through less than two months ago. When an operative pipe bomb was found outside an Iowa voting site on Tuesday this week, that was unnerving enough on its own, it was a community center at a small city in Iowa, just outside Des Moines.

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Voting was going on at that site on Tuesday on a local measure about a school board spending capital improvement funds like an incredibly non-controversial, very local measure. And somebody tried to bomb a voting site where that was what people were turning out to vote for. That was unnerving enough on its own in Ankeny, Iowa, this week on Tuesday. But it was also a reminder that whoever placed the two real operable, dangerous pipe bombs in D.C. at the headquarters of the Democratic and Republican parties, that bomber has still not been caught from January 6th, despite a six figure reward from the FBI for information leading to the arrest of that person.

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Despite pretty clear surveillance footage of that person right around the time the person was planting those bombs, the bomber in conjunction with the January 6th attack is still at large. So we're not yet two months out from the attack, the house was closed today out of abundance of caution after warnings about a potential follow on attack from Trump supporters at the fact that that didn't in the end, arise. The Senate, though, stayed in session today. And actually it looks like there may be going to be they're deep into the night and into the wee hours.

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This is a live shot of the Senate floor right now for the Republicans in the Senate have decided that not only are they opposed to the covid relief bill, they're going to do everything within their power to stretch it out as long as possible and delay covid relief as long as they can. A Republican Senate objection today resulted in the Senate clerks being forced to read out loud every word of the six hundred plus page covid relief bill. Republicans in the House try to stunt like this after President Obama was elected in 2009.

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You might remember that the Democrats in the House back then responded by hiring a speed reader, basically to troll the Republicans right back. The rules required that the amendment be read, the clerk will read the bill. The man who proposed to be inserted by the amendment offered by blank, insert the following Section one trip, shorten that list to a title that may be cited as the Energy Production Innovation and Conservation Act. B Table of contents, table of contents for the act is as follows.

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Section one short on table of Contents. Title one Clean Energy Standard. Section one one Federal Clean Energy Standard Title to American Energy Subtitle Conservation Efficiency Check.

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You're going to make us read the bill out loud. Well, we've just hired on a new staff speed reader and he'll be doing that reading for us. That was two thousand nine in the house for a variety of reasons. The Senate apparently cannot do that same thing tonight. They can't bring the speed reader back. And so for hours now, we have been listening to the poor clerks of the Senate who did not ask for this, who are getting no thanks from the Republicans, requiring them to do this for hours.

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Now, the clerks in the Senate have been pointlessly reading out loud, the six hundred plus page text of the covid relief bill. Also, it just takes longer for the covid relief bill to pass. The text of the bill is not a secret. It has been available for a long time for anyone to read if they wanted to. The stunt tonight making all the clerks staff do this. It's not going to stop the bill from passing. It's just Republicans making these clerks do all this all day.

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So it takes longer and longer and longer. And it's more exhausting for covid relief to ultimately pass, making the clerks pay, making the Senate staff pay. Yeah, that'll show them it's hilarious. Right. And I will say, just as an aside here. What they're doing tonight, making these clerks read the bill for no reason. Read the whole thing out loud. This is the big gun that the Republicans have been threatening Democrats with this year in the Senate.

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So this whole question as to whether or not Democrats will vote amongst themselves to get rid of the filibuster, the filibuster means it takes 60 votes to pass something instead of a majority instead of 50 votes. Democrats have 50 votes. They can't get 10 Republicans to side with them on anything. So as long as this filibuster rule exists, which puts a 60 vote requirement in any legislation, nothing else is going to pass except for a few little things they can pass a few things that they can pass through arcane budget rules that really limit what they can do.

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So Democrats have been debating whether amongst themselves, whether they should vote to get rid of the filibuster so they can pass stuff in the Senate and not let the minority Republicans block all legislation. While Democrats have been debating that amongst themselves, Republicans have been pounding their chests and threatening that if the Democrats vote to do that, the Republicans will go nuclear. The they will make the Democrats rue the day. What they have threatened specifically is that they will slow everything down in the Senate so much that it will just be impossible to do anything.

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It'll be totally exhausting. What they've been threatening to do is exactly what they're doing tonight, but they're threatening if Democrats get rid of the filibuster is to do this to force the bills to be read out loud in order to keep the Senate in session overnight and on weekends, which is in fact, really annoying and a big pointless waste of time. But you know what, Republicans, if you're going to do this anyway, even while the Democrats have kept the filibuster intact, then why should they be afraid of your threat to do this?

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You're already doing it. It's like breaking somebody's glasses and then saying, oh, you better do what I say or I'll break your glasses. Dude, you already broke my glasses. Why would I do what you want now? You can't threaten me with something you've already done or you're going to do more of this. OK, I already know what it's like to deal with this. I've already shown that I can deal with this. This is what you're threatening me with.

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Said a minute ago, I'd say more about this big, important bill that passed the House last night, H.R. one, this is the for the People Act. It's voting rights, it's election reforms. It's basically small D democracy. Reforms passed the House last night. Former first lady Michelle Obama released a really interesting statement, a strong statement on that bill tonight. She said, I'm thrilled to see that the House of Representatives has passed the For the People Act.

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She said that on Twitter. And then she attached the statement that says in part, quote, While we celebrate historic gains, unfortunately, too many leaders are working to reverse that progress and make it harder for people with every right to vote to cast a ballot. Our democracy remains under attack by the partisan and unpatriotic actions of those at the state level who are doing everything they can to curtail access to the ballot box. Make no mistake, the idea that we cannot both hold secure elections and ensure that every eligible voter can make their voices heard is a false choice.

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It's based on lies and it flies in the face of our history. It's sad, it's infuriating. And she says, quote, It is a genuine threat to our future that must be taken seriously. Michelle Obama says, quote, That's why I'm thrilled to see the House passed the for the People Act. This bill will make it easier for ordinary Americans to register and cast a ballot. It will ramp up election security and end partisan gerrymandering. And it will do much, much more to make sure that our system of government remains in the hands of the many and not the few.

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I urge the Senate to follow suit and pass this bill as soon as possible, because there is nothing more important to the health and future of our democracy than safeguarding the right to vote. Statement tonight from former first lady Michelle Obama on the For the People Act that passed the House last night. She is urging the Senate to pass it as well. It will not pass the Senate as long as the filibuster is intact. That that bill will never get a single Republican vote, and that means there's no way for it to pass into law, even though the Democrats have a majority in the House and the Democrats have a majority in the Senate and the Democrats have a Democrat in the White House who wants to sign it.

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And even if the Democrats allowed the filibuster to stay in place for everything else, allowed Republicans to require a 60 vote margin to pass everything else, but they narrowed it just so you couldn't use it against voting rights anymore.

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And the filibuster has been narrowed very recently. The Republicans in twenty seventeen narrowed the filibuster so you couldn't require 60 votes to confirm a Supreme Court justice. They just made that change in twenty seventeen. Why couldn't the Democrats say, you know what? You changed the filibuster in twenty seventeen for Supreme Court justices. We're going to change the filibuster filibuster in twenty twenty one. Not to get rid of it, but just so you can't use the filibuster, you can't require a 60 vote margin to pass stuff that relates to our small democracy to pass voting rights legislation.

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They could limit the filibuster just that way, and if they did that. That could pass H.R. one that could pass before the people act, that could get these sweeping protections of voting rights enshrined into federal law. And the Republicans, yes, they be very angry and they might retaliate by slowing the Senate down as much as possible and forcing bills to be read out loud, imagine kill her. Obviously, they're doing that already. All the stuff they've been threatening the Democrats with, they're already doing it.

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They're doing it tonight. They're doing it as we speak. So Democrats, what are you afraid of? To adoption taxpayer identification number for purposes of subparagraph three, in the case of a defendant who has adopted a placement for adoption, the term valid identification number shall include the adoption taxpayer identification.

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They say if you're not prepared to hear the answer, then maybe you shouldn't ask the question. Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott apparently took that advice to heart this week when the governor ended the state's mask mandate and boasted that Texas is now one hundred percent, no restrictions to protect people from the coronavirus. Apparently, when he made that change this week, he did not bother to ask his coronavirus advisers about it. Maybe he didn't like what he thought they would say if he asked them.

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Governor Abbott had previously touted that he had these four nationally recognized medical advisers who would guide all of his decision making on stopping the spread of covid-19 in Texas. But when Texas reporters called those advisers this week after the big policy change, three of the four said no, they'd never been consulted by Governor Abbott about this huge change he just made. And the fourth told reporters that he, quote, couldn't say whether the move was a good idea. Not much use having a bunch of top flight medical advisers for your covid response if you're just going to not ask them before you lift all coronavirus restrictions in the nation's second largest state.

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But the repeal of the mask mandate in Texas and all of the restrictions that are designed to protect Texans from getting covid-19 for all the danger it could pose to the health of Texans by creating another surge in cases there, it could also very easily become a national problem. Texas is the second highest number of daily cases of any state in the country. If a state that big with that many cases gets really cavalier in terms of transmission, that could be a real problem in terms of America's efforts to get our whole country effectively vaccinated.

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One of the things Dr. Fauci has been warning for weeks and weeks now is that the more virus transmission there is, the more cases there are, the more likely we are to see more of these dangerous variants develop variants or mutations. Viruses don't mutate unless they replicate. They replicate when they get into new hosts, when they get into new bodies, more transmission into new people, more cases means more replication. More replication means more opportunities for more mutations.

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And these mutations produce the variants that in some cases are more resistant to our existing vaccines. So you see the problem, right? If states start lifting restrictions and start sparking a surge in new cases, that's going to lead to more new variants, which will make the vaccines less effective everywhere. All the states scrapping their mask mandates Mississippi, Alabama, they're all worrying. But Texas is the most worrying simply because its size means its actions will have bigger national consequences.

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And then, of course, there's the practical concerns for how these decisions play out on the ground now that Texas has lifted its mask mandate, now that the governors gleefully declaring that Texas is one hundred percent open and no more masks, while all the conflicts over mask wearing are going to move to the doorsteps of individual businesses and facilities, that will each have to make their own decisions about whether to require masks and how to enforce it if they're going to, given what the governor is saying and what the state rules are now.

[00:28:10]

These conflicts have already led to violence across the country. A security guard in Michigan shot and killed at a Family Dollar store after refusing to allow somebody in without a mask. Another man shot and killed a police officer in Louisiana after the cop escorted him out of a high school basketball game for not wearing a mask. And in Houston, Texas, the AP reports that Police Chief Art Acevedo is worried about, quote, more aggressive encounters like one in December when a customer confronted over a mask at a Houston bar smashed a glass over an employee's head.

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Houston police officers, for their part, will continue wearing masks despite what the governor is doing at the state level. Chief Acevedo says, quote, We can see conflict coming, sadly, and I think a lot of this is going to be self-inflicted. Joining us now, I'm pleased to say, is Houston's police chief, Art Acevedo. Chief Acevedo, it's really kind of you to make time to be with us tonight. Thank you.

[00:29:03]

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

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I'm honored to be asked, what are your concerns about the governor's decision to rescind the statewide Mascord or what do you think? What kind of impact do you think that's going to have on the Austin PD? Well, I think first and foremost, my concern is for my fellow Texans that we know that the science says we're supposed to be wearing these masks while we're in close proximity to each other. And it runs contrary to everything we've been told. And quite frankly, last time we opened the state back in May of 20/20, we had done really well as a police department, keeping the virus down.

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As of two days ago, we had 60 officers that are off because of this virus. I promise you, if you come back in six weeks, I hope I'm wrong, but we're going to see that many more of our first responders are going to be impacted by the virus, not to mention our fellow Texans. On top of that. Now, we're going to have more conflict in our community because in Texas, we have property rights, business owners, our property rights, and they have every right to require these masks.

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And the folks are going to be called out to deal with the violence that may come from. This is, sadly, our men and women in blue. So property rights in Texas, a business owner, for example, can still insist that a mask has to be worn by any customer coming to that business or anybody coming to that business for any reason. The unnoticed, despite that right by the business owner, the property owner, there will be conflict that first responders, police officers in particular, are going to have to deal with because those people who don't want to wear a mask are going to say, hey, the governor told me I could not wear a mask.

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Despite what you're telling me, you're absolutely I mean, that's exactly right. We we have a governor that has gone against the science, gone against, I think, what's in the best interest of the collective health and safety of the men and women and children in the state. And now we're going to see that people say, the heck with you, a police officer, business owner. I'm going to do what I'm going to do. If it was happening with a governor's order, you can imagine what's going to happen now that the governor has said you don't have to wear them, I think is bad policy.

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It's it's shortsighted. And sadly, when you look at the fact that we may have enough enough vaccine for the entire nation by May, according to the Obama administration, we're so close to getting this done that this is a step in the wrong direction. It's going to have a very negative and deadly impact to the American people and here the people in Texas. And so that's something we should all be concerned about.

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Chief, do you feel like you have any lessons learned or any wisdom that you can impart to people watching tonight about sort of de-escalation when it comes to conflicts like that? I think in a lot of states and a lot of different circumstances where there's all sorts of different types of mask rules we have a lot of us have seen and we've all heard about the scary confrontations where people who work at specific workplaces feel threatened and feel at risk by people coming into those workplaces and not wearing a mask.

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We've seen confrontations on street corners. We've seen confrontations among passers by. Have we learned anything about how to de-escalate the situation so that they don't end up in violence?

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Well, sadly, when you look at the issues of violence just generally across the country and police chiefs think that covid and the psychological impact this had on the American people is impacting violence, what we hope people will do is listen, you don't get paid enough to have to deal with an angry person that, quite frankly, is so self-centered that are more interested in their so-called freedom than in simply wearing something that can save the lives of their fellow human being.

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Please don't get in a physical confrontation. Just let them go on their way. And if they're not leaving, call the police. That's what we're there for. And we're trained to do hopefully de escalate and resolve the situation. But we've seen police officers murdered. We saw here in Houston a young man employee at a bar with a glass broken over his head simply because we want people to be decent enough, decent enough. We're what the governor says.

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Forget what the law says, what does our own humanity call upon us to do? And that's to be cognizant that this is one of the best things we can do is wear masks that keep each other safe. And I'm hopeful that Texans are, by and large, good people, God fearing people, people that care about their neighbor. And I think this will be a good opportunity, like I said in a tweet, for us to see who cares about their neighbor and who cares about themselves, I think would be very telling about the characters of the people that we that we live and work with.

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Houston police chief Art Acevedo. Chief, it's it's real, it's kind of you to just take this time to be with us here tonight. Good luck in the days ahead. I know this is a new challenge for your force.

[00:33:38]

Thank you very much. All right. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us. One in general, chapter seventy seven of such code as amended by searching after section seventy five twenty seven, the following new section, section seventy five twenty seven, a advance payment of child tax credit. A General Secretary shall. So this is a live picture and that's live sound from the Senate floor. This is what Republicans think is a hilarious stunt. We bring the sound down a little bit.

[00:34:09]

They're just I think we get the point. Yes. Thank you. This is what Republicans think is a hilarious stunt to forced Senate clerks to read out loud every single word of the covid relief bill, not because it's not otherwise available for people to read it if they want to. It is and not because their own constituents don't want this bill. This is actually some of the most popular major legislation in decades. Republicans just want to make as much of a mess of it as they can.

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And so the poor Senate staff is going to have to go all night. Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson is the senator who forced this tonight. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut today used his time today in the Senate to blow up one by one the Republicans supposed objections to the covid relief bill. It's a little hard to listen to my Republican colleagues claim that this bill is too expensive when they were willing to spend the exact same amount of money in twenty seventeen on tax cuts for their wealthy corporate and millionaire friends.

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So in many ways, the crisis today is exponentially worse than it was a year ago when Republicans to a person were willing to spend two trillion dollars on the crisis.

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Now, all of a sudden, when Democrats are in charge of the White House, when a Democratic majority leader sits here in the United States Senate, one point nine trillion dollars is too much money to spend on a crisis that is taking on a daily basis. Three to four times as many lives as it did when we spent this money a year ago. Here's the second critique that is made over and over about this bill. It's a partisan bill. Republicans say, well, that is a complaint of Republicans own making because it is only a partisan bill in the United States Senate.

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Three out of four voters support the American rescue plan. All of a sudden, since Democrats took control of the White House and took control of the Senate, all of these things, which were categorized as covid relief by Republicans in March, are no longer covid relief.

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You're just supposed to think of these as extras, as Democratic priorities. Ninety percent. Ninety five percent of what's in the package we're voting on today. It is is simply an extension of the same set of funding streams that we authorized in a bipartisan way a year ago, and so this idea that this is some Democratic wish list, when we are essentially just extending or increasing the same funding streams that we're in, the Kahrizak is nonsense.

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Nonsense. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy just picking apart one by one the arguments that Republicans have used to justify voting against the very, very popular covid relief bill. All Republicans are apparently going to vote against it. It's very popular. He's calling their bluff and pointing out that even though Republicans have voted for stuff like this with this kind of a price tag before, quote, all of a sudden since Democrats took control of the White House and the Senate, Republicans are now clutching their proverbial pearls and saying how horrible it is.

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It is still alive. Ongoing process right now in the Senate as the Republicans have forced the out loud, pointless reading of the bill. Senator Chris Murphy joins us next. Stay with us. Section seven five twenty seven, a taxpayer during such taxable year, any failure to do so reduce the credit shall be treated as arising out of a mathematical or clerical error and assessed according to Section six.

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That is a live shot and that is live sound. Tonight, we are in the middle of a big stunt by Republicans where they are holding up the passage of the covid relief bill by forcing Senate staffers to stay up all night reading every word of the bill out loud for no reason. They're apparently going to try to keep doing things like this for that bill to keep holding up the bill for days more, if not weeks more, because, yeah, definitely what the country needs is for us to wait as long as pointlessly possible to pass like the funding for vaccine distribution and the money to reopen schools.

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It's definitely going to pass. We just need to make sure we waste as much time as possible before we pass it, because that's how you own the Libs. Joining us now is Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Senator. I really appreciate you making time to be here tonight. Thank you. Thanks. What should we think about what's happening in the Senate right now? The country wants the covid relief bill. It is broadly popular among Democratic voters, independent voters, Republican voters.

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The Republicans are deciding they're just going to make it as painful as possible, as exhausting as possible, and make it take as long as possible, even though it's ultimately going to pass. What do you think the country should take away from that? Well, you know, this is nothing new, right? Both sides have used delaying tactics. I think it's the first time that I've ever watched either party forced these clerks to sit there and read every word of a multi hundred page bill.

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But when Democrats have used delaying tactics in the past, it's been because we knew the public was on our side. Right. I mean, I went to the floor and gave a 15 hour speech in favor of a background checks bill that was supported by 90 percent of Americans. We used all sorts of tactics to try to extend the debate on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act because 70 to 80 percent of Americans supported our side in this case.

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Know, this is a wildly popular bill. It's a bill that people want. As I said on the floor today, 60 percent of Republicans really want the stuff that's in here. So to the extent that they're reading the bill aloud, to the extent that anybody is listening to it, what they're going to hear is a whole bunch of provisions, the extension of unemployment benefits. Fourteen hundred dollar checks for low and middle income Americans, money to produce more vaccines more quickly, money to reopen our schools.

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All of that is stuff that people really, really want. So if they want to extend this debate, I think it frankly hurts them politically. But I think it also hurts the American public because we are running up against some deadlines here. Unemployment benefits do expire in about a week. So we really need to get this done. And we'll stay through the weekend to make sure that these delay tactics don't ultimately stop the bill from being passed.

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It strikes me and I said something about this earlier in the show tonight, that what that what's happening tonight on the floor of the Senate, this forced, pointless, exhausting delay and waste of time and waste of effort is the sort of thing that Republicans threaten to do if Democrats reform the filibuster, if Democrats either got rid of or narrowed the rule that allows Republicans to require 60 votes to pass legislation so they can you can instead pass things with just 50 votes, with just a majority.

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They this is sort of the big gun they threatened to use. The big proverbial gun they threatened is they're doing it anyway, even without any reform of the filibuster. I wonder if that might change any of the internal negotiations and discussions among Democrats about whether it's worth it to try to narrow the filibuster so that some important legislation can pass. Well, as you know, I think the filibuster is fundamentally anti-democratic, I thought that for a long time. Listen, the American public made a choice in 20 20.

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They wanted not only for Joe Biden to be president, but they wanted his party to control Congress so that his agenda could pass. And the fact of the matter is that's made very difficult when 40 members of the Senate can hold everything up. But what you're seeing tonight is actually how the filibuster used to be used. It used to be that if you wanted to filibuster something, you actually had to stay on the Senate floor. You had to actually make your case day after day.

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And if your case was really unpopular, the longer you stayed on the floor, the worse you did. So people didn't use the filibuster to stop things that the American public wanted. Now, that's not what the filibuster is. The filibuster is just the sort of automatic right of the minority to require 60 votes to get anything passed. So one of the reforms we're thinking about when it comes to the filibuster is just going back to the old days and saying if you want to stop something from passing, then you actually have to sit on the floor.

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You actually have to give speech after speech, because I think Republicans or Democrats, if they're in the minority, would be much less willing to use the filibuster if they had to do this, if they actually had to put on a show in opposition to something that the American public really wanted.

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The reason there hasn't been a change in the filibuster rules already is because as far as we can tell from the outside, a couple of your more moderate colleagues, Krysten Sinema from Arizona and Joe Manchin from West Virginia, have said they don't want any change in the filibuster rule. Can you pull back the curtain a little bit and just tell us if anybody's talking to them about these things or the type of not abolishing the filibuster, but reforming it or tweaking it in some way to make it more meaningful?

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Are those conversations happening with Senator Snowe and Manchin? Because they're the ones that have to be moved here? I understand, folks, impatience, we are, of course, only about 30 days into the new president's term, only about two months into this new session, and so we are having conversations inside the caucus about how we can reform the rules. But I don't know that we should expect that they are going to bear fruit immediately. And I do think that there is a belief amongst some in Congress that the filibuster promotes bipartisanship.

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Right, by requiring members of the minority party to sign off on something before it becomes law. You are incentivizing the two parties to come together. There's really no evidence that that's how it works. In fact, because it gives the minority party veto power, it just allows them to sit on the sidelines and do nothing. It really has been a very long time since the Senate has done anything meaningfully and bipartisan immigration reform back in 2013 was probably the last time.

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If you want to get the two parties to come together, then give the majority party the ability to move things with a majority vote that will very quickly incentivize the minority party to come to the table and try to get something that is a little bit closer to their priority list. So I think that conversation is going to continue to happen and mature inside the caucus. My hope is that we'll be able to come together around some rules reform. It probably doesn't happen until a little bit later in the term.

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Senator Chris Murphy, appreciate you being here tonight. Thank you so much. Thank you. All right. We'll be right back. Stay with us. That is going to do it for us tonight. Thank you for being here on this fine Friday, Eve. I'll see you again tomorrow.

[00:45:08]

The Rachel Maddow Show weeknights at 9:00 Eastern on MSNBC.