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tv   Alex Witt Reports  MSNBC  July 31, 2021 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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week. the study behind the change shows three-fourths of people infected in a massachusetts outbreak were indeed vaccinated. the cdc says this suggests it is possible vaccinated people can still spread the virus. nationwide at least 125,000 fully vaccinated americans have tested positive for the virus, and according to data collected by nbc news, those cases are spread across 38 states and represent less than 0.8% of fully vaccinated persons. again, 0.8%. that's important to note. also new today, the fda is vowing an all-hands-on-deck effort to get pfizer's covid vaccine through the full approval process. it is an effort to combat vaccine hesitancy that remains. no word yet on how soon the full approval could come. for more on all these developments, we have two nbc news reporters.
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ladies, welcome to you both. let's go first to you, kathy, close to me in new york, what more are we learning from the cdc data on the breakthrough cases? >> reporter: good afternoon to you. we are learning the extent of how dangerous the delta variant really is and how contagious it is, even among the fully vaccinated. cdc officials are saying the war has essentially changed. you mentioned earlier that there was an outbreak just a couple weeks ago in provincetown, massachusetts, and among the infected three-quarters were actually fully vaccinated, and based on further testing most of them had the delta variant. also at this current rate, according to the cdc documents, at this current rate we're seeing 35,000 breakthrough cases, but we do want to let folks know health officials are saying that vaccines are still effective, despite these new alarming numbers, and this is more reason for folks to get
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vaccinated, because we know now how contagious the delta variant is. it's as contagious as much as the chicken pox, and therefore getting this vaccine will keep you out of the hospital and also prevent deaths. this is a hot button issue. this has become very political. last tight cdc director rochelle walensky was on fox news. here's what she had to say when brett behr pressed her about a nationwide mask mandate. take a listen. >> are you for mandating a vaccine on a federal level? >> you know, that's something that i think the administration is looking into. it's something that i think we're looking to see approval of from the vaccine. overall i think in general i am all for more vaccination, but i have nothing further to say on that except that we're looking into those policies. >> reporter: and dr. walensky
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did walk back those comments and tweeted this statement out. she said to clarify, there will be no nationwide mandate. i was referring to mandates by private institutions and portions of the federal government. there will be no federal mandate. alex, right now only private enterprises, there's a long list of them that are starting to require vaccines for people who are coming back to the workforce. this includes google, we just heard from walmart as well as disney, and it seems like in the next few months there will probably be more to add to that list. meanwhile, here in new york city, the question is, masking, will there be more guidance as to what will happen as the numbers continue to tick back up again, and mayor bill de blasio said that this coming monday there will be more guidance as far as masking here in the city, alex. >> it's been hard to know which way the guidance is coming, what we have to do. it's really every day we have to pay attention on what we're finding and therefore the guidance has to change. thank you so much for that from
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new york city. let's go to heidi at the white house with the president's response to all the rising covid numbers. good day to you. how does the white house plan to boost vaccination numbers? what have they got in the works? >> reporter: we were supposed to be celebrating independence from this virus and instead the president is likening the current situation to an american tragedy, rolling out a number of new incentives that he is hoping will work. most of it is encouraging states to do these things, to provide $100 gift certificates to the newly vaccinated, encouraging schools to hold pop-up clinics before kids head back to those classrooms. there is a federal mask mandate now for federal employees, but the most important part of this strategy, alex, really is the communication around the vaccine and why we are here. the president making clear that we're here because not enough people got the vaccine, and there is a new more transmissible variant that is taking advantage of that and,
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very importantly, though, even though we're talking a lot about these breakthrough cases, kathy mentioned this and you mentioned it at the top, but it can't be mentioned enough, those are exceedingly rare, especially in areas with high rates of vaccination. the risk is three times lower to contract the virus in people who are vaccinated. so until more people understand that, alex, here is what the president said about what is coming. >> can americans expect more guidelines coming out and restrictions because of covid? >> in all probability. almost 1 million people got vaccinated yesterday, about half a million of those people for the first time, for the second shot. so i'm hopeful that people are beginning to realize how essential it is. >> reporter: when we talk about more guidelines, the deputy press secretary made clear after that we are not talking about lockdowns. that is not what the president is talking about. but if you're out and about here
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in washington, d.c. as i was the other day, it's hard to miss the direction that we're going here, and right after that yesterday when i was talking to some business owners about the move towards potentially mandating the vaccine, is when the announcements came out from disney, from google, from walmart, and so the white house is making clear that they are supportive of this, but it really is going to be in the hands of localities, as well as businesses. now, the one criticism here that i did hear, alex, is why we took the masks off in the first place. and that is a question that will be posed to this white house, because we did have, based on some reports, news about the delta virus and some data that health officials were looking at about the transmissibility of this as early as may, alex. >> thank you so much with all the stats from the white house. we appreciate that. joining me right now is dr. peter hotez, co-director of
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the center for vaccine development at childrens' hospital and dean of the national school of tropical medicine at baylor college of medicine. good to see you again, sir. let's start with the cdc internal report, which we received yesterday. among some of the things that we learned, the agency says, quote, the war has changed with the spread of the delta variant. noting it's causing more severe illness, it spreads as easily as chicken pox. additionally, the cdc says breakthrough cases may be as transmissible as those in unvaccinated people. all really important points to think about. i'm curious your biggest takeaways from the document and what does this mean, this snapshot in time, relative to the whole pandemic? >> i think, alex, the most important message that people need to take away is that if you're not vaccinated, this virus is different from our previous covid-19 virus
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lineages, in that it's so much more transmissible. two to three times more transmissible than the uk variant, the b.1.1.7, which was more transmissible than the original lineage. so we're looking at something that's up there with chicken pox and not quite measles level, but it's one of the most transmissible viruses we've seen in a long, long time. and as a result, as this virus starts to circulate across the south, where vaccination rates are the lowest, we've got maybe 15%, 16% of adolescents in louisiana, for instance, vaccinated compared to 70% up in the northeast. that's how big a disparity this is among young people. this is going to accelerate across the south, and the big safety signal that i'm worried about is what happens when schools open in a few weeks here in the south. we tend to start earlier than in the northeast and that's where things can go very wrong very quickly. we're already seeing young people getting admitted to the hospital, we've seen pediatric
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intensive care unit admissions, and that's what i'm looking for closely. so the real takeaway needs to be we have to aggressively vaccinate the south and we have to aggressively vaccinate the mountain west states which are underperforming in terms of vaccination. if we don't, we're going to pay dearly as a country and i think that's the most important message. i think we got sidelined with some of the misleading numbers saying 74% of the outbreak in provincetown was due to vaccinated individuals. it forgets the dot, dot, dot, piece, that that's among thousands and thousands and thousands of vaccinated people who were there over that period in july. so the vaccines are still highly protective, 88% protective against symptomatic illness, more than 95% protection against severe illness. so the vaccines still work and i think we've gotten sidetracked with some of the mixed messaging and headlines. >> look, i'm listening to you put out all these proven statistics to the effect that
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science is able to corroborate everything you're saying. what do you say to those anti-vaxxers, those people specifically whom you've referenced in the south who still have yet to get vaccinated? if it's not for religious or you have a pre-existing medical condition, i'm talking about those people. what do you say to them right now that changes their mind and helps them get vaccinated? when they look at breakthrough cases, for example, they can say, look, the vaccine isn't really working. how do you tell them, yes, it is working? how do you influence people to the point where you say, this is what you must do to keep yourself healthy? >> the first point is to recognize that they're victims of this mask disinformation campaign coming out of the political right and the nongovernmental groups at the center of hate, which is incredible we have to have an organization like that, and
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break it down for them. and remember that, yes, there are breakthrough cases, there are 35,000 breakthrough cases in the u.s., but that's among 162 million vaccinated americans. so the vaccines are highly protective and almost nobody is losing their life or going to the hospital who has been vaccinated. so 99% of those hospitalized that are losing their lives are unvaccinated. and also we have to get past the fake narrative that's out there that vaccines are for older americans. if you're young and healthy and fit, you're not going to lose your life. they cite these death numbers, but there's still a lot of serious illness, hospitalizations among young people. 26% of young adults who get covid-19 have the symptoms for more than six months. this is not a time in your life when you're applying for a mortgage, starting a family, applying to graduate school,
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applying to colleges, taking sats when you have to worry about cognitive and neurologic impairments. >> i'm glad you made that point because we haven't lived through this pandemic long enough yet to know the long-term ramifications of this. people say, how do we know? we don't know yet because we haven't lived through it long enough. we're getting the statistics and the research as we go along. but scott gotly, the former head of the fda, he suggested this week that a lot of the spread is among vaccinated people because they don't realize they've been infected. so is it clear to you that this new cdc data -- who precisely is responsible for the majority of the spread? is it unvaccinated americans or could it potentially be vaccinated people? >> well, again, yes, there's probably some vaccinated people who are responsible for transmission, but overwhelmingly it's the unvaccinated.
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and we know that, we know that because there's a very strong association between screening levels of covid-19 transmission in this country and low vaccination rates. it's no accident that covid-19 is accelerating aggressively from missouri into arkansas, louisiana, across into alabama. it's a direct association with the low vaccination rates and that has to be emphasized. >> dr. peter hotez, thank you so much. there's so much to talk about so i hope we see you again soon. let's go to the breaking news, the culmination of a four-day 27-mile march through the streets of texas to protect voting rights. it is led by the poor peoples' campaign, black voters matter and beto o'rourke. all three of them leading the charge. gary, welcome to you. it's day four of this march. what are you seeing? >> reporter: alex, activists and
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organizers love to say they're bringing street heat, emphasis on the heat. it's a hot one today but there are still thousands of people out here today at the texas state capitol to protest, and to rally for federal voting rights legislation. that's really what they want here. they're calling on president biden to do anything related to this. and back in washington, it's a little bit of a different mood. the president, the vice president and congressional leadership met yesterday at the white house to talk about a path forward for this federal voting rights legislation and nbc news reporting, our hill reporting, says that it's going to be a bit of a slimmed down version. so we're talking about things related to the idea of early voting and same-day voter registration, the more complicated the more controversial issues will be held for a later time. folks here want something done, they want anything done. here's what reverend barber said on msnbc earlier today. >> we love you, show us the
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detail. it can't be less than. we're tired of less than. we must fully protect this democracy. come talk to the people on the ground. put those legislators on air force one, fly them to the airport in austin. have a meeting right there. then fly them back and then go to the well of the congress and say we have to do all of this, not just some of it. and i guarantee you the people will stand up for you. >> reporter: now, all sides here are in a race against the clock. the texas legislature special session ends a week from today. congress is already heading out on august recess. speaker pelosi said if there is legislation that comes up, she will call her members back to washington. but activists here tell me it's really about the momentum they need to keep up, the longer this is drawn out the harder it is to keep the momentum up. >> absolutely. thank you so much. so just when you thought the public would never see donald trump's taxes, a move by the
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department of justice, makes it seem like that is a very real possibility now. how did that suddenly happen and what answers might we find to some long asked questions? we'll talk about it next. ou kno can trust? with subaru, you get kelley blue book's most trusted brand winner, seven years in a row. in fact, subaru has won most trusted brand for more consecutive years than any other brand. no wonder kelley blue book also picked subaru as their best overall brand. once again. it's easy to love a brand you can trust. it's easy to love a subaru. i'm not hungry! you're having one more bite! no! one more bite! ♪ kraft. for the win win. ugh, these balls are moist. or is that the damp weight of self-awareness
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new today, and to borrow a phrase from yogi bera, it's not over until it's over. the senate is ironing out the final details of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill. the chamber voted friday to move forward with the bipartisan legislation. majority leader chuck schumer saying the senate will not leave for august recess until the job is done. >> i understand that writing the text of a bill of this size is a difficult project. i've been part of many such efforts in the past. but i urge the bipartisan group to finish their work so we can begin the amendment process here on the floor. i have said for weeks that the
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senate is going to move forward on both tracks of infrastructure before the beginning of the august recess. the longer it takes to finish, the longer we'll be here. but we're going to get the job done. >> also developing in washington, newly released notes reveal donald trump asked the department of justice to declare the 2020 election corrupt, this during a phone call back in december. nbc news reports, in response to being told the justice department can't and won't snap its fingers to change the outcome of an election, trump is quoted in the notes as saying, i don't expect you to do that. just say that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the r congressmen. >> allen smith wrote that article. big article. thank you for joining us. first of all, those notes, what else was revealed about the december phone call? >> well, i mean, according to the notes taken by richard
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donahue, the second in command at the department of justice at the time, they had pushed back on a number of false claims of voter fraud the president had presented them at the time, and no matter really how much pushback they gave -- the president responded along the lines of, well, i just don't think that you're paying attention to the same internet i am. and just this morning the president released a statement not denying anything that was released in the notes, but instead saying -- what's wrong with trying to uncover. so he hasn't backed away from it and i think a key thing here is sort of the change in the justice department's position from when trump was in office.
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when he was president, it is very likely that some of these documents would have never been turned over, but the biden justice department has taken a different view of executive privilege and therefore have provided these documents to the house oversight committee which is examining his conduct. >> we heard about 50%, 60% of what you said. certainly the most salient points. i'm going to move on. i hope we get this figured out with you, because this is such a big story. i appreciate your insights. i'm going to discuss them right now with jonathan lemire. let's get the tech stuff worked out. there's even more developments from the doj which says the irs must turn donald trump's tax returns over to a congressional committee that has been requesting them. they've been requesting them since 2019. the decision came down friday after the office of legal counsel said the committee had given sufficient reasons for requesting the information. joining me now, msnbc political analyst, white house reporter
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for the "associated press," jonathan lemire. i am shocked you're here, considering you've been hosting so early in the mornings. thank you so much for being here. so let me ask you about how big of a deal this is and when does congress first see trump's taxes? >> first of all, alex, glad to be here. any day this week where i can sleep past 3:00 a.m. felt like sleeping in. today is a treat. much easier on the body. first of all, we don't know yet. first of all, donald trump is about as litigious as they come. this could be tied up for days, if not weeks or months still to go. but, yes, it is a significant development and democrats have said that they want to investigate trump's business conduct while he was in office. they want to review how the irs decided not to release this.
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there will be a full-fledged probe into these returns. it's not a guarantee they'll be made public. the committee would have to vote to do so. odds are, they will eventually show them to the public, six years' worth. this is certainly a major step in what, of course, has been a years' long quest for the democrats and for, frankly, all of us to get a look at the former president's taxes. >> here's my question. everything gets leaked these days, jonathan. come on. do you think that the american voting public, american citizenry has a right to know whether donald trump was telling the truth about his net worth, the way he ran his companies, his philanthropic in devers and donations and the like? especially if the guy is considering running again? >> that's a key point, and i think you're right. the odds are this would leak if indeed it gets to congress. the timing is unclear. we would probably get at least a
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snapshot, if not the full picture. the american public deserves to know if the president made money off of his time in office. we know what had to be disclosed about the fact that secret service paid at his golf clubs for lodging while the president was in new jersey or florida throughout his time in office. there's probably a lot more than that. of course the american public would like to know. he may be a candidate again. he may not make a decision for quite some time but it's safe to say he is the presumed front-runner prepared to run again and he defied presidential tradition by never releasing the returns while a candidate or as president. and i think there are a lot of people on both sides of the aisle who would like to see that. >> saying they were under audit when the irs said you can put them out there. the question has always lingered, why not, and now perhaps the answer to that will be obvious. let's go to what you've been
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doing with covering president biden's reaction to the new spike in covid cases. the approach is what? how is the white house going to tackle this surge? >> what should have been a triumphant week for president biden with senate voting to advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill, really making the promise that he could bring the parties together, reach across the aisle and prove that this democracy can still do big things for the people, trying to compete with, say, china, was overshadowed somewhat by this rise in cases, the delta variant. so we heard from him this week talk about a few measures to try to push federal employees and contractors to get vaccinated and making lives, frankly, rather difficult for those who don't. he's encouraging state and local governments to offer $100 payments to people to get vaccinated if they haven't yet. he has ordered, and this is important, the military to study
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whether the covid-19 vaccine should be added to their list of required inoculations. if you work for the department of defense, you have to get vaccinated, particularly if you're going overseas. secretary of defense austin has signed off on this to fasttrack the covid-19 vaccine to be added to the list of required shots. they're doing all they can and they're trying to empower local leaders. they feel like there are some people in the country who don't want the vaccine, a lot of them profiled in a way, they voted for donald trump last time around, that the message from the white house won't be effective, maybe something from a local leader will. they are heartened that republicans and media figures are encouraging people to get the shot. and even as the delta variant is sending cases surging throughout the country and we're seeing hospitalizations certainly in deep red states where they're running out of hotel rooms -- hospital beds, i should say, we're also seeing, perhaps encouraging, a rise in vaccinations. they're tracking together. more people are getting the shot. so maybe the warnings are being
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heard. >> the president was saying yesterday, the previous day, which would have been thursday, there were 1 million vaccinations administered. that is good news. thank you so much, jonathan lemire. i'm so glad you showed up. honestly, i was betting you would be too tired. good to see you. thank you. >> glad to be here. this week's capitol attack hearing highlighted the republican party's alleged betrayal of its law and order principles, but will such hypocrisy cost the gop at the ballot box? hi mr. charles, we made you dinner. ahh, thank you! ready to eat? yes i am!
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we're going now to the gut-wrenching testimony from four capitol hill police officers during the house select committee's first hearing this week. the officers sharing the emotional stories about the january 6th attack, along with the riot's physical and mental toll on them. let's all take a listen. >> on january 6th for the first
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time i was more afraid to work at the capitol than in my entire deployment to iraq. >> i was grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country. i was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm, as i heard chants of, kill him with his own gun. >> several attempted to knock me over and steal my baton. one latched onto my face and got his thumb in my right eye, attempting to gouge it out. i cried out in pain and managed to shake him off. >> the crowd, perhaps around 20 people, joined in screaming, boo, [ bleep ]. no one had never, ever called me [ bleep ] while wearing the uniform of a capitol police officer. >> joining me now, ashley pratt, communication strategist and board member of republican women
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for progress and director of progressive programming at sirius xl and host of the show on peacock. i've got to say, hearing it again, it almost reduces me to tears, these brave guys, they're in -- they're safety, that's what they do, they're police officers. and to hear their accounts, it's pretty chilling. i imagine that's close to your reaction, too. what about the disgusting racial slurs? we bleeped em. people can figure out what was being said. this goes far beyond the results of not liking the election. >> of course, it does. and i think that a lot of folks have been trying to make that point through the trump years, back during the campaign, i remember us landing on the description that donald trump was normalizing racism and making it okay again for people to go out and be overtly racist. i remember some of his rallies
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during the campaign in 2016 and i remember thinking, this looks like something that should be in black and white, like out of eyes on the prize or something. this doesn't look like 2016. and now, five years later, i think about those moments all the time, because the culmination of so much of that ugliness and energy was january 6th, and those folks who stormed the capitol, they weren't just doing that because they loved donald trump. they were doing it because of what donald trump represents. he basically emboldened white supremacists to storm the capitol and say those people of color, that coalition of color that put joe biden into the white house, their votes are not legitimate votes. that is essentially what the big lie is based on, alex. and unfortunately we're in a moment where the threat of this type of political violence is still here because you have an entire political party operating in bad faith that can't see on the screen what really happened
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and they're still lying about it. >> yeah. in fact, ashley, several leading republicans were asked if they had watched that hearing and they said no. in a piece that you wrote for nbc news, think, historically republicans have been the party that has proudly represented law and order. but while republicans are still quick to declare their loyalty to law enforcement on the campaign trail, most of the party has become apologists for the rioters, as was noted throughout tuesday's hearing, gop members have refused to acknowledge that brutal force was used against officers during that riot at the capitol and that police were themselves the target. how, ashley, could republicans hear that testimony and claim to be the party of law and order, how could they in any good conscience ignore that? >> it's no surprise that the republicans are living in an alternate reality and one that is complete dangerous. they're trying to minimize, downplay and distract from what
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really happened on january 6th and that's because the longer this investigation continues, the more skeletons they're going to find in the gop's closet, as pointed out by zerlina. there's a history of racism and becoming of white supremacy into the party. the very people that were serving to protect, that take an oath to protect us, were beaten with blue lives matter flags. the party of law and order that says they support law enforcement were using flags that say they support law enforcement to brutally beat them. that right there is a jarring picture and a disturbing one and one that really happened on january 6th. so, again, when these gop members are saying that this was just a normal day at the capitol and these were tourists coming to tour the capitol, they were terrorists and they were traitors and they are trump supporters. so right there you have a real problem right now in the gop because the more they live in this alternate reality, the more
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dangerous and the more violent it's going to get with trump as their leader. >> and also while this was happening, the hearings i'm talking about, there were a handful of republicans who held a press conference. they were demanding justice for those rioters who stormed the capitol. they called them political prisoners. the washington most, dana milbank wrote the half dozen lawmakers, including matt gates of florida, marjorie taylor greene of georgia, made explicit what has been more obvious by the day, they stand with those who attempted a violent coup. and house republican leaders held a news conference blaming january 6th on capitol police and particularly house speaker nancy pelosi. i mean, zerlina, how and why are they defending these people and trying to turn this around on nancy pelosi? >> well, they turn everything around on nancy pelosi. it's always going to be nancy pelosi's fault. before that it was hillary
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clinton. maybe they throw in aoc. any woman who has a strong opinion and values. the bottom line here is that the threat is still here. i think we have to go back to that point every time possible, because with the republicans elected in congress that, bay, marjorie taylor greene wasn't even in congress and apparently her election results were fine. just donald trump's were wrong. but i think that as long as you have folks like this in the congress that are placating what those insurrectionists, their violence was for, you're going to have the threat of more violence, alex. and i think that's the thing that concerns me as we go forward, because every time donald trump puts a date on the calendar, law enforcement should stay on high alert for the potential for more violence. as republicans try to violently overthrow elections on the state level, they're legislatively trying to subvert election results by changing the rules
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for how those votes are counted. so it's a full court strategy right now for republicans. they know that the demographics of the future are not in their favor. they're trying to rig elections so they can maintain power and i think that those anti-democratic actions need to be called out for what they are. >> zelina maxwell, ashley pratt, thank you. make sure to catch "zerlina" that's on week nights at 6:00 p.m. eastern. chicago is hosting the biggest music festival of the year and health officials are worried about it. today a big change goes into effect to make it safer, but will people listen? that i should get used to people staring. so i did.
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spectacle under normal circumstances, but take a look as we give you aerial video from chicago as thousands of concertgoers gather for lollapalooza. let's go to nbc news jay gray joining us from chicago. welcome. we have the good news, at least this festival is outdoors, but there's some bad news. we saw the video. there are a lot of people crammed together. so how concerned are officials about this becoming a superspreader event? >> reporter: yeah, i think there's some real concern, alex. not only among officials, but others in this area. and you don't see a lot of masks, you don't see any social distancing at all, and no masks. here's how it works when you get here and people are starting to trickle in this morning. you have to show your proof of vaccination. it has to be a physical card or paper. it can't just be a picture of one. if you don't have that, you have
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to have evidence that you've tested negative in the last 72 hours. everyone is encouraged to bring a mask inside. again, you don't see many of those here. and you talk about the concern, a lot of people are worried about what happens after this party is over. >> really hard to determine what would make it a superspreader event, but, you know, it's very possible that there will be people with covid who, unknown to them, have covid, and it's very possible that they're going to spread it to others, especially given the delta virus. so that's why i think that people really need to take precautions. >> reporter: let's go over some numbers real quick. hundreds of thousands expected over the four-day period here for lollapalooza. 90% of those going inside have shown proof of vaccination, so that leaves about 10% that are telling them that they tested negative in the last 72 hours or
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so. at least 600, and likely more at this point, we haven't gotten the full report, but at least 600 just turned away initially, they didn't have either and so they weren't allowed inside. here's the big worry, alex. not only is it going to be an issue in chicago where over the last month the rate of infection has gone up by four times but you've got people coming in from all over the country. what are they taking back to their communities? a lot of people are going to be watching closely over the next several weeks to see what plays out from this festival. >> jay gray, thank you so much, from chicago. >> the twisties, what are they, how dangerous they can be and how they dashed simone biles' olympic dreams in tokyo. my conversation with dominique dawes next. and take. it. on... with rinvoq. rinvoq a once-daily pill can dramatically improve symptoms... rinvoq helps tame pain, stiffness, swelling.
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i'm so glad you're ok, sgt. houston. this is sam with usaa. do you see the tow truck? yes, thank you, that was fast. sgt. houston never expected this to happen. or that her grandpa's dog tags would be left behind. but that one call got her a tow and rental... ...paid her claim... ...and we even pulled a few strings. making it easy to make things right: that's what we're made for. usaa. what you're made of, we're made for. get a quote today. now the very latest on the tokyo olympics. here's a look at the medal count. the usa and china tied both now with 46 medals.
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the russian olympic committee, japan, brittain rounding out the top five. and gymnast simone biles is out of tomorrow's vault and uneven parallel bars finals. the six-time olympic medallist widely considered the greatest gymnast of all time withdrew from competition tuesday and sat out thursday's all-around final. she has said on social media she's dealing with what's known as the twisties. and joining me now is dominique dawes, herself a 1996 olympic gold medalist and the first african-american to win an individual event medal in gymnastic on floor exercise. i've got to admit during the commercial break i was telling you i remembered watching you. these twisties, i know this is familiar territory for you. for someone who hasn't experienced doing flips and the like in the air, how common is this? what is this that simone is dealing with? >> this is definitely a mental block and it would be any athlete's nightmare to have to
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deal with this in the middle of a competition, especially being an olympic games for simone biles. i can't imagine, and the concern is, it jeopardizes one's mental health as well as their physical health, because if she were to get lost in the air there's no guarantee how she's going to land. >> 100%. i've been talking to friends, some of whom were saying she bailed and she let everybody down. i'm like, you know that some of the tricks she's throwing she could literally kill herself or paralyze herself if she does it wrong. i mean, people seem to forget that. >> they seem to forget that she sacrificed her whole childhood to have this opportunity. there's no one in their right mind that would plan to pull themselves out of an olympic games, knowing that as the professional athlete she is, this is an opportunity for big-time endorsements. i think she has brought attention to the issue of mental health, which is very good for the sport of gymnastics. we're going through a bit of a black eye right now.
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we need to change the culture. she carries the weight of the world on her shoulders and many times that will manifest itself as a mental block and today they call it the twisties. >> let me play a little bit of what we heard from simone earlier this week about this decision to withdraw. let's take a listen to this together. >> it's been stressful, this olympic games, just as a whole, not having an audience, there are a lot of different variables. it's been a long week, it's been a long olympic process, it's been a long year. i knew that the girls would do an absolutely great job and i didn't want to risk the team a medal for kind of my screw-ups, because they've worked way too hard for that. it's okay to sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself because it shows how strong of a competitor and person that you really are rather than just battle through it. >> she makes a good point. she knew that her routines were not going to be her best, so by stepping aside, she allowed the
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u.s. women to get the silver. is that how you read it? >> i do. she was able to listen to her inner voice and do what was best for simone biles and team usa. she stayed on the floor and she continued to falter and fall, there is a chance that they would not even have made it on the podium. i love the fact that she is still out there on the floor being their biggest cheerleaders. she is holding it together for the press. any athlete would be behind the scenes beside themselves because this was her opportunity to shine. however, you know, i commend this young girl because it takes a great deal of humility, a great deal of courage, to really do what she's doing and to be out there publicly still smiling. >> 100%. and speaking of publicly, she's given us video on instagram, shared what her routines are looking like right now. here's part of a report from nbc's tom llamas and that's
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included. >> biles' olympic status looks uncertain, the star posting these since deleted clips to instagram. the videos showing her struggling on the uneven bars, along with messages including one reading i didn't quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync. >> when you watch the video up close, you can see that it's almost like her head is even turning. she's not staring straight at the bar. it's like she's looking to find where she is in the air. that's the twisties. but what she's dealing with, this is all out there on instagram. it's been deleted. social media. at the height of your career it wasn't so prevalent. how much of an impact do you think that has had? >> definitely social media adds a whole nother element of pressure that i can not relate to. after the 1996 olympics we went on tour and the message boards came out and i remember my teammates wanting to hear what the fans were saying about us, and i said absolutely not. i know one minute someone is going to put you on a pedestal,
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the next they're going to rip you down. the best thing she can do is turn off her social media visit. i think it's brilliant she put out the video to show the fans what she's struggling with behind closed doors. that would be very challenging to overcome during an olympic game. >> does she compete monday in floor exercise or tuesday? these twisties are definitely going to come into play on floor. >> they'll definitely come into play because she does a double-double off beam, a triple-double on floor. so i don't want to put any prediction out there but i hope she's able to work through the mental block during this short period of time. >> i'm just a fan, what can i say? thank you for your time. >> thank you. congressman jim himes on trump's taxes and what he wants most answered about the long-running mystery coming up.
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around 200 afghans who helped the u.s. during the afghanistan war are now safe in virginia after a mass evacuation. the first wave of interpreters and their families were bussed to an army base in virginia on friday morning after arriving at dulles airport. global affairs reporter is joining us now. dan, welcome to you. i know this is good news for so many, but what is next for these interpreters and the families who are now here in the u.s.?
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>> thanks, alex. for these families, this is a huge milestone. they'll do a last bit of paperwork and they get a final medical exam. they've already been covid tested. then refugee charities will help them as they've been doing for years for other refugees. this is a really small fraction of a huge group, tens of thousands of afghans who are trying to get visas to the u.s., who were promised visas because of the work they did risking their lives, working for u.s. troops over the past two decades. and it's not clear that all of them are going to get evacuated. >> that's concerning. those that will, how long is that going to take for those who remain in afghanistan? >> the administration has not said but we do expect more flights in the coming days. so about 2,500 are being flown directly to the u.s. because their applications were basically finished and basically
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approved. then there's another 4,000 who will go to third countries. we don't know which countries. and their paperwork will get processed there. that leaves something like 16,000 afghans, plus their families, who are waiting. some of them outside kabul. they don't know how they're going to get there. the biden administration is taking a lot of heat for this and being criticized that they should have had a better plan in place much earlier. >> they have a plan for the 6,500, but the other 16,000, you are right on that. come back and let us know when we have updates on them. thank you so much. >> thank you. a very good day to all of you from msnbc world headquarters in new york. welcome to alex whit reports. we're starting with breaking news. a rally under way at the texas state capitol to push for improved voting rights.

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