tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC March 23, 2021 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
five people died. because if you toss around names like soros and clinton and a dead president of venezuela often enough, you will find as we say around here, that words have consequences as sidney powell is about to find out. that is our broadcast for this tuesday night, with our thanks for being here with us. on behalf of all the colleagues at the networks of nbc news, good night. after the shootings, the mass shooting at the sandy hook elementary school in 2012, president obama asked the then vice president joe biden to lead a task force on potential reforms to gun laws and gun policies, to try to find a way to advance gun safety somehow, to try to find a way around the obstacles that have made any kind of progress on that issue completely politically impossible since the early 2000s.
all the while, the country was experiencing more and more and more increasingly horrific single shooter mass killings, gun massacres every year, while it became increasingly impossible to do absolutely anything in response to that. president obama put joe biden, then vice president, in charge of leading a task force in the biden administration to try they moved very, very fast. it was december 14th 2012 when the sandy hook elementary school shooting happened, 26 little kids and teachers and school staff. that was a friday, december 14th. before the next week was up, the following thursday on december 20th, then vice president joe biden had already started convening the first meetings in washington.
>> president asked me to convene this meeting with you and we'll be talking with others as well, because we have to have a comprehensive way in which to respond to the mass murder of our children, and we saw in connecticut, you're the first with whom, when theity gave me the charge. along with some of our cabinet and colleagues here. you are the first group that i wanted to speak with. so what i'd like to do is the president is absolutely committed to keeping his promise that we will act and we will act in a way that is designed, even if he says we can save one life. we have to take action. there are a number of things you know because i've spoken with you all for so many years and continue that relationship over the past four years that there's some things we can immediately do.
>> that was less than a week after the elementary secrete massacre in december, 2012. that was only six days after that happened. that was the first meeting of that task force that he held but then he worked like a whirlwind on it. the pace of it, looking back, is -- i had forgotten how quickly it moved before i went back and looked at the timeline. here's how "the washington post" described it. just the following month in january 2013. they said in the 33 days after the massacre at sandy hook elementary school gun control rocketed through what one administration official called a time warp, transforming from an area that was politically off limits to one at the top of obama's agenda. at the center of the transformation was the biden-led task force. it has 22 meetings, most of them in the same week, many of them over two hours long, biden scribbling notes.
as biden put it reviewing just about every idea that has been written up only to gather dust. the post continues, quote, the vice president placed phone calls, too. including one 45-month chat one night with the parents of a student who died at sandy hook. they said it was like watching an entire term of senate hearings compressed into a week. he was interrogating witnesses, following up, finding common ground, finding discrepancies. again, that's 33 days after sandy hook happened. the biden task force meeting with everybody from law enforcement in that first meeting to clergy to families of gun violence victories to the nra. biden took an nra meeting. he met with video game
manufacturers. all those different people being brought into the discussion at the end of all of it, a month into it, they recommended 23 different actions. to try to increase gun safety, to try to reduce the number of americans being killed by guns. >> i have no illusions about what we're up against or how hard the task is in front of us, but i also have never seen the nation's conscience so shaken by what happened in sandy hook. the world has changed and it's demanding action. it's in this context that that the president asked me to put together a set of recommendations about how we should proceed to meet that moral obligation that we have. >> that moral obligation. that was january 2013. that was just a month after the sandy hook killings. vice president biden led this
whirlwind incredibly tense, incredibly intensive process, and at the end of 33 days, had a set of 23 recommendations, from new federal research funding to things that can only be done by congress, things that can only be done through legislation. the president talked about the one single simplest smallest thing that could be done by legislation, something with more than 90% support among the american people, something that had massive support, more than 70% support even among members of the nra. >> it's time for congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun. the law already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks and that's
kept 1.5 million of the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun, but it's hard to enforce that law when as many as 40% of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check. that's not safe, that's not smart, it's not fair to responsible gun buyers or sellers. if you want to buy a gun, whether it's from a licensed dealer or a private seller, you should at least have to show you're not a felon or somebody prohibited from buying one. this is common sense. the overwhelming majority of americans agree with us, including 70% of the national rifle association's members, according to one survey. there's no reason we can't do this. >> there's no reason that we can't do this, he says. there's no reason we can't do it, except ape parentally, that we cannot do.
you might remember how this all unfolded. you're fore given if it's blurred together during the years because of the way these things resolve. remember how this happened. after sandy hook vice president biden put in charge of a task force which moves with incredible speed to come up with concrete proposals for things that can be done to try to reduce the number of people doan killed in this country. president obama proposed universal background checks, background checks should be run on the buyer anytime anybody wants to buy a gun in this country. 90% plus support for that among american people. it's simple. you have to have a background check if you want to buy a gun. that's a simple idea. overwhelming support, unanimous support among the american people but republicans in congress, including republicans in the senate are not among that 90%-plus, apparently and decided they would go for something even lower than that smallest symbol
of gold. conservative gem joe manchin and pat toomey said they wouldn't pursue, they wouldn't allow the pursuit of a simple rule that there ought to be a background check to buy a gun. instead, they had their own idea and said they could get it done. they had their own way. they had something that they said they could pass. we wouldn't do more than what 90% of the country wanted to do. so instead of that simple thing, saying you have to have a background check, full shot, manchin and toomey said no, no, we think that's a terrible idea. we're against that. we know 90% of the people are for it, we're against it. but our idea is that the law will change to just say you have to have a background check if you buy a gun at a gun show or on the internet.
only extend background checks that far. gun show purchases, internet purchases, that's it. it is hard to imagine a smaller reform. but that is what they said they would do. that is what they said they could do. the rest of the country, more than 90% just want freaking background checks, full stop, the rest of the country stood back and let credible senators pursue this rinkey-dink tiny reform instead. they said that was something they could get done and they failed. they couldn't even get that done, not through the united states senate, not even right after the sandy hook massacre. joe manchin and pat toomey were convinced that they had magic gravitas on this issue to show that the legislative process in the united states senate can be trusted to work to do the smallest imaginable thing in an issue of overwhelming public concern. they were wrong.
they could not even do that one pitiful thing. not in the united states senate. not with filibuster rules in place that say a majority vote doesn't count. so nothing happened in american law. no law change. nothing made it through congress. in the final year of his presidency, president obama was still not just expressing regret about that, still not just exhibiting a rare for him show of anger about that. in the final year of his presidency, he was still actively emotional about that years later. >> 2nd amendment rights are important. there are other rights we care about as well. we have to be able to balance them. because our right to worship freely and safely, that right was denied to christians in
and from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun. every time i think about those kids, it gets me mad. >> that was president obama in 2016, emotionally reflecting on the fact that even after the murder of all those six-year-olds at sandy hook, even after all those other mass murders of dozens of americans killed by individual shooters legally armed to the teeth, even with all that, no, the united states senate insists there can be no changes, no reforms.
joe manchin insisted after 2012 that he could do it. that it could absolutely do its job on this issue as long as you let someone like him define the job that was to be done. just as long as you let someone like him lead the way. just as long as you let somebody like him work with other senators like him who had so much credibility in the gun lobby. we can't do anything more ambition than what he wants and what they want. watch what they can do when they decide to work on this. people like joe manchin said there's so much credibility on this issue, they could get things done. things that we all agree should be done. just watch. senators who represent the fringiest smallest most
hard-line ancient paleo politics position on this. they're the only ones with credibility on this issue. they're the ones who decide what's possible and they will show that the u.s. senate in isn't broken, that things can be done, as long as they decide what those things are. watch. everything else stopped. all that momentum after what happened in this country. after sandy hook. the outflowing of emotion after sandy hook, all of the momentum that was taken by the administration, all of the public desperation to do something. joe manchin said give that to me. i'm the one. i'm -- my way, this is the way we'll get things done. >> what we watched today really involved only one piece of
what's been a big complex debate about guns and it includes just a few senators. yet, the impact seems so much larger in part pause of the emotion that helped make it happen. driven by their loss. >> i feel like i carry my daughter's spirit when i got into these meetings. i wanted them to hear me as a mother. i asked them if they could please give me something i can tell my son. >> surrounded by newtown families to talk about today's break-through on background checks but only a whisper could come forth. i'm a parent. i'm a grandparent. >> manchin, a democrat partnered with pat toomey, a republican, to forge a compromise today. >> i think the substance of the bill makes a lot of sense.
to me, this isn't gun controll. this is common sense. >> just like those already required when buying from licensed dealers. the law would not affect individuals who buy, sell, or give weapons to families, friends, or even strangers. >> it will prevent people who shouldn't have a gun from having it. >> he could not get that done. something that's so right, it does so much good, he couldn't get that done. and now he is insisting that he is the one who has to be trusted with this task again, because he will not allow anybody else's ideas to move forward. the alleged shooter in the boulder, colorado, massacre yesterday was released from the hospital after receiving medical treatment and is now at the boulder county jail charged with ten counts of murder. he is 21 years old. he was born the same week at the
columbine high school massacre in 1999. when columbine happened, it felt like the world stopped and it would never start up the same way again. 13 people killed there in 1999. again it felt like the biggest news we'd know for a decade, right. but the country would continue to have mass shootings at actually an accelerating pace. in 2012 just before the sandy hook massacre, it was aurora, colorado, a massacre in a movie theater that left people shot and killed. actually, the colorado experience shows that the joe manchin don't actually do anything plan is not the only option. and when we hear from senators like joe manchin that we can do nothing else, we have to put it in his hands, despite all the ways he's failed in the past, you can look at a state like colorado and say there are other options we could try. the governor of colorado was a
moderate man, john hickenlooper. he came to believe that some common sense popular gun reforms were not only necessary, they were possible. he announced his support. he announced it in december 2012 just a few days before the sandy hook shooting happened 678 that of course focused the whole country's attention, but colorado was already moving. in colorado they did pass new laws. nothing radical but common sense changes that were very, very popular with the public, including limiting high capacity ammunition magazines and yes, requiring background checks. the republicans and the gun lobby went nuts and vowed revenge. they did get some of that. two with democratic state senators were recalled from office.
two of them. the year after those gun reforms were signed by governor hickenlooper the following year 2013 and again in 2016, republicans took control of the colorado state senate. in 2014 john hickenlooper was also elected, and in 2018, democrats won back the state senate. one incumbent was ousted from his seat. he lost his seat and by a lot to the father of a young man who was killed in the aurora massacre. a gun lobby republicans who had run the recall effort who had supported gun reforms, the gun lobbyists went after representative sullivan as well but those attempts failed. last week, he was just re-elected. colorado is now represented in the united states senate by senator michael bennett and senator john hickenlooper, the former governor. in order to get his seat in the u.s. senate, senator
hickenlooper ousted republican senator corey gardner last year. senator hickenlooper and senator bennett said today in the wake of the boulder massacre that they support national reforms to support gun policy nationwide. a lot of democratic senators are saying that today. when you hear that from colorado, senator hickenlooper has lived through what it means to do it. yeah, you might rattle some cages when you do it but if you've got the vast support of the people on your side, it will be the right thing to do. if you do it, there's no guarantee in life. there's no guarantee in politics that your career will thrive but hickenlooper has seen that it can. president biden is calling once
again for action for the country. >> i don't need to wait another minute let alone an hour to take common sense steps that will save lives in the future and encourage my colleagues in the house and senate to act. we can ban assault weapons, high capacity magazines in this country. once again. i got that done when i was a senator. it passed. it was law for the longest time. and it brought down these mass killings. we should do it again. we can close the loopholes in our background check system including the charleston loophole. that's one of the best tools we have right now to prevent gun violence. the senate should immediately pass -- let me say it again. the united states senate -- i hope some are listening -- should immediately pass the house bills that close loopholes in the background check system. these are bills that receive votes of both republicans and democrats in the house.
this is not and should not be a partisan issue. this is an american issue. it will save lives, american lives. we have to act. >> we have to act. but he's talking to the united states senate there. and joe manchin, the senator from west virginia, he will not act, even after the humiliation and what he dragged the country through in 2013. manchin reiterated that he doesn't support background checks for all gun sales, which is something that has already passed the house. it passed the house even with some republican support, which means joe manchin is to the right of republicans. if he alone changed his mind on this and decided that he really does care about this, that actually probably would be enough to get that one reform over the finish line, which if
he changed his stance on the bill itself, if he found it in his heart to support background checks, given that, and his stamps on keeping the filibuster rule in place so that majority votes don't count even for his own legislation, joe manchin holds the fate of this in his hands. he promised this was an issue that moved him, in tears, as a parents, as a grand parent, he promised that he could get it done. he could get it done, actually, now. if he wanted to. i mean, even now with the nra almost dissolved in disgrace and in bankruptcy, instead of doing what he says he wants to do, he will do what the nra wants instead. not even the nra's members want that but joe manchin does. because of that he personally will stop the whole country from getting any substantive relief from this thing that plagues us
still. it will likely almost certainly come down again to whatever the president now president biden can do on his own without congress, which is not much. and that is because the united states senate does not work, even for things more than 90% of the country wants done, even things that tear our hearts this much and even when we seem to agree on anything else, the senate does not work in large part because of democrats like joe manchin. because of that we can't do anything substantive as a country on this issue. despite senators like joe manchin saying this means a lot to them. there's a lot going on right now, including in washington. former first lady michelle obama has tonight published a powerful call on the senate to pass the
federal rights voting bill that has passed the house and is pending berore the senate. we're going to have a report coming up tonight on the real urgency behind that right now, something that happened last night and tonight and is going to continue to loop this week that ought to be on the national radar in terms of the voting rights bill. we've also got reporting ahead on a real problem at the justice department with a bill barr appointee, a sort of leftover in the justice department from the trump era who has screwed up in a way that may screw up all of the january 6th capitol rioter prosecutions. a lot to come tonight. we'll speak with
congress joe neguse who represents boulder, colorado. stay with us. start your day with crest 3d white and from mochaccinos to merlot, your smile will always be brilliant. crest 3d white brilliance. 100% stain removal, 24 hour stain resistance to lock in your whitest smile.
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there's a lot that we don't know. there's a lot still unfolding from yesterday's events. but let me simply say this. this cannot be our new normal. we should be able to feel safe in our grocery stores. we should be able to feel safe in our schools, in our movie theaters, and in our communities. we need to see a change, because we have lost far too many lives. as i said, i've lived in boulder county for many years and one thing i am sure of is this, our community is strong, it is kind, it is compassion ait, and it is
resilient. and we will get through this together. >> colorado congressman joe neguse speaking about yesterday's mass shooting in boulder, colorado. police released the names of the ten people who were killed in the massacre. they range in age from 20 to 65. also disclosed the name of the the 21-year-old suspect who's in jail after being treated at the hospital yesterday for a gunshot wound. he faces ten counts of murder. john neguse is with us. he grew up in boulder, has been serving his community there for years. congressman, thank you for joining us. i'm so sorry for what boulder is going through right now. >> thank you, rachel. i appreciate it. >> one of the things that has been difficult even just nationally looking in on this
disaster is how long it has taken to get basic information about what happened. there was a long delay, obviously, a chaotic scene and an emotional one for police, who lost one of their own along the way. and a report that it was worse than initially reported. i have to just ask how you think your constituents are doing, how boulder is doing today? >> they're hurting, rachel. they are hurting. it's been a devastating 36 hours for our community here in boulder, for our state and for our country. the loss of life is truly unimaginable. but when you consider the ten people who lost their lives yesterday, people who were friends or family members, brothers, sisters, neighbors, treasured community members, each of whom lost their lives, and the families who woke up this morning without their loved ones, that pain, that anguish is
just too hard to fathom. so our community is grieving. and it's going to take a while. there will be very difficult days, weeks, and months ahead as we grieve with those families and of course with officer tally's family, an officer who bravely gave his life and his heroism saved lives. it's just a heartbreaking tragedy. >> i think that it is heartbreaking for anybody looking in on this, particularly those who can emphasize with it, because there have been mass shootings close to them or their communities. so many americans in that circumstance. i think we are also becoming a little bit hard-hearted about these things when we think about whether or not we'll ever adapt as a community and as a country to try to stop things like this from happening in the future. we lament these things, i feel like we're dissolving into a bipartisan hard hearted system
that it's worth trying to reform gun laws, trying to reform the kind of policies and processes around gun ownership and gun transfers and ammunition purchases and things like that. that might make a difference. how are you feeling on that scale today? >> i'm frustrated. you know, i have to say, rachel, i -- you're -- the frustration i can hear in your opening remarks on the program resonated with me and i think resonated with a whole lot of americans, certainly many of my constituents who i've spoken to in the last day and a half. people are upset, they're grieving, they are angry at the inaction of the federal government. there is clearly a crisis that has been metastasizing year after year. you mentioned columbine high school. i was 14 years old when that massacre occurred. to think it's been 21 years and the reality, the federal government has done virtually
nothing to address the pervasive gun violence that hit our home community just last night, it's difficult to fathom. and we can't at the end of the day accept failure and inaction as an option. i think we have to press forward and i'm certainly going to press forward with my colleagues to make sure we pass common sense gun violence reform. it's time for the american team to say enough is enough. >> you will now become one of the informal caucus in congress, and there are many members of that caucus where your district has been marred by an act of national significance, a mass murder, a mass -- act of mass gun violence in your district. when these things happen in the future, you will be called upon to speak as the representative of a community that struggled through one of these things. it does feel like the moral
authority, which you gain here, of course, will come at a cost in handling this tragedy, but you will have a voice from here on out in terms of talking about how the country should handle these things. when you hear frustration from people like me. when you hear frustration from your constituents about the senate being the place where these things go to die, is that levened at all for you by hope that it actually will change in the senate, that hearts might change, that the senate might get their gumption together. are you hopeful that things could move? >> i am, rachel. i am. i have to be. you know, i firmly believe public opinion has trended in the direction of support for these broadly popular provisions that we have been discussing like universal background checks as an example. i intend to reach out to every single united states senator about why we need to enact common sense gun violence reform legislation.
i truly believe that we can make this happen, that we can get it done. for those who doubt that, i would simply say in the last year, in february of last year, i had an opportunity foe attend the president's state of the union. i brought as my guest, tom mouser. he tragically lost his son daniel in columbine. daniel was my age when he lost his life. tom refused to give up. he spent the better half of the next year and a half campaigning for a law closes the loophole. you articulated the steps colorado has taken. there's more work to do. there's simply no excuses to not doing so. my constituents are tired of excuses. >> congressman joe neguse representing boulder. thank you for your time tonight.
i know it's a really difficult time. thanks for being here. >> thank you, rachel. >> hearing him say that, you know, you want -- you want public servants, particularly young incredibly talented public servants, like congressman neguse, i'm talking about his behind his back, you want people with talent and ambition and values and the kind of communication skills that somebody like that has. you want public servants with hope. right. you want people who believe even against the kind of circumstances that i've been describing here tomorrow, the sort of, you know, brick wall that we've run into so many times in this country, despite the public will to do something. you want people in positions of power and people who are ascendent in politics. we'll be right back. stay with us.
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with not one but two mass shootings within the span of a week, debate in congress is shifting about gun safety reforms. where almost all republicans stand, if senate democrats don't at least try, it is basically guaranteed there will be no gun reform at all. there will also be no move to protect voting rights at all. last night during a private call, georgia senator willie warp ok reportedly urged with the president the urgent need for voting rights legislation to counter efforts in his state and others to radically restrict voting righties. this led to a discussion an reform of the filibuster. if democrats aren't going to do anything to stop republicans nationwide from rolling back voting rights, they're going to
have to do it soon if it's going to have an effect in georgia. earlier this month both the georgia house of representatives and the senate passed a bunch of bills to try to make voting harder. in the past 24 hours, two of them made their way out of committee and are now ready to be voted into law. to making it illegal to hand out water to people who are waiting in long lines to vote. republicans in georgia plan to confine all these voter suppression proposals, the governor's desk for him to sign right away within the next few days. what's going on in georgia or nationally over the next eight days that might derail this speeding train? joining us once again is latasha brown, co founder of a group. ms. brown, thank you so much for being with us. it's nice to have you back.
>> thank you for having me, rachel. >> so i asked the last time that you were here if you would come back and keep us apprised because it did feel like this was going to move fast while it was moving. i'm making good on that. i want to ask you to get us up to speed about where you are. >> it's moving pretty fast. what we are very deeply disappointed in is it seems like the chamber of commerce cut a deal with republicans reporting to the minority didn't bother to meet the democrats in congress and on senate bill 202, which is devastating. it cuts out sunday voting on -- new omnibus bill on -- during runoffs and some of the things that you raised. it gives who have the -- it gives the republicans whoever's in power authority over the board of elections.
if they don't like the results, they can do a recall and cancel elections. the results, so that is part of the problem that's authenticated on the lie that trump made. what we're seeing is organizations like ours, the new georgia project, action pac, naacp, they wrote a letter saying that this is egregious and that we want to see him veto this bill that this bill should not pass. black voters and voters in the state should not be punished because of civil rights in this last election. >> you mentioned one change that i think is worth pausing on and going back to for a second. this idea that the republicans and the state legislate, in this new legislation that's want to pass, they would have the authority to remove local elections supervisors if this bill passes. if you think about what they would have done with that power after the 2020 election, the way
that president trump and president trump's supporters and republicans pressure to try to stop the certification and votes in individual counties, to try to reverse the vote count, to try to undermine those things at the local level, this legislation they're passing would have given republicans around the legislature the ability potentially to stop individual counties from certifying the vote. they could just say no. >> absolutely. it would have been devastating. i believe it would have been totally different. as we're going forward, it's so anti-democratic. it's interesting. today -- on today, this is 155 years when andrew johnson actually as president of this country vetoes the civil rights bill that was -- ultimately was overwritten a couple of days later but we're still 155 years later fighting for the basic fight to vote. this should be a basic civil rights.
>> latasha brown, the co-founder of black voters matter. thank you for your time. thank you for keeping us honest on this issue about what georgia businesses are doing here. their public platitudes to the contrary being closely monitored by you and others, keeping the national media honest on this. thank you for helping us understand. >> absolutely. thank you for having me. >> we'll be right back. stay with us. don't settle for products that give you a sort of white smile. try new crest whitening emulsions. for 100% whiter teeth. its highly active peroxide droplets swipe on in seconds. and stays on ten times longer to continue whitening long after you apply.
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oppositing the government's t' attempt to put him in jail, pending trial. the judge called an emergency hering today on six hours' notice to make all the lawyers o in the case discuss sherwin's comments.as the judge told the lawyers, i'm surprised, and i'm being ye restrained in my use of terminology, to see him sitting for an interview with an on going investigation. they seem to affect the jurpry pool, and the government, should know better. the judge said, let this hearing serve as notice on the justice department i will not tolerate continued publicity in the media.
the d.c. u.s. attorney's office said the head of the criminal division, he told the judge, the justice department has rules and procedures, and interviews as far as we can determine, the rules and procedures were not complied with, and it goes to the office of professional responsibility to review. so michael sherwin, the big barr appointee who was acting d.c. u.s. attorney when the capitol happened..c so he took control from the first days. he is no longer acting u.s. attorney in d.c. but he is stili a justice department employee.nt he is still subject to internal investigation, and discipline. he is now investigated about pending cases. whatever happens to him personally as a repercussion about the bone headed move, it
should be noted the judge took e the justice department to task, and anonymous law enforcement officials, and they opened an investigation, and the justice department's problems with employees, talks to the media about pending riot cases goes behind michael sherwin. but the michael sherwin problem is a really bad one. is the justice department going to get it under control so they can try the cases without more o surprises? i hate to say it, but watch this space. t it with bayer aspirin. be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. so you want to make the best burger ever? then make it! that means cooking day and night until you get... (ding)... you got paid!
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that is going to do it for us tonight. happy to have you with us tonight. i will see you tomorrow night. now it's time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. >> good evening, rachel. i went to the grocery store today, as planned yesterday before there was a mass shooting at a grocery store, and i walked around the store thinking things i've never thought of before. how do we get out of here? if we have to get out somewhere other than the door where i came in, and i don't think we thought about our grocery stores that way before. >> you k