tv Politics Nation MSNBC November 28, 2021 2:00pm-3:00pm PST
he's maybe the strangest of this crew. that wraps up the hour, everybody. i'm yasmin vossoughian. i'm going to turn it over to reverend al sharpton and "politicsnation." good evening and welcome to "politicsnation." tonight's lead, now or never. right now i hope that democrats can finally committee all of their resources, because with the fight over the bipartisan infrastructure plan finished, and with democrats in the senate hopefully ready to strike a deal on the build back better act, it's time for the party to use that momentum to counter the national push from republican state lawmakers to restrict the vote in battleground and diverse
states as much as possible. ground zero for that effort right now is georgia, where joe biden won an unexpected yet decisive victory one year ago, made possible by activists of color. and now the emerging battleground state is poised to see its electoral districts chopped up and skewed in the state's gop's favor, joining texas, ohio, north carolina, and others ahead of next year's midterm elections. to the we look at how the peach state's democrats are fighting back and ask whether the federal government can do anything to help, because black democrats in congress are fighting their own battle, trying to keep their districts intact against republicans, while some of their longest serving lions retire. i'll talk to one of those lions
later at the end of her nearly 30-year run about what the party's priorities should be next year and in the next decade. but first, joining me now, congresswoman nikema williams, democrat of georgia and chair of the georgia democratic party. thank you, first of all, for being with us tonight, congresswoman. and before we get to what continues to happen politically in georgia, i want to get your reaction to the murder trial of the man who killed ahmaud arbery, the verdict, and what did it mean for your state? >> first, thank you for having me and having this discussion today, reverend al. i know that you are no stranger to georgia. you're an honorary georgian. so i appreciate everything that you continue to do to uplift our voices here down in the peach state. last week, i remember sitting in the car, not exactly knowing
when the verdict was going to come down. and i had my 12-year-old niece in the back seat as we were going to pick up some final things for our family gathering. and the verdict came through and we were listening to the radio. and i had to explain to her, she lives in alabama but we were all together for the holidays, and she didn't understand why i was so tense in anticipation of the verdict. but i had to explain to her that we don't always see the justice that we deserve, and how this was only one case, and where we saw accountability in this, that we have to make sure we continue to focus on the overall system that allowed this to happen in the first place, that allowed not only -- we wouldn't have seen this happen had it not been for someone recording this and the video not coming up. and then we had a prosecutor who tried to sweep it under the rug for weeks. and we finally got to see some accountability.
so it meant a lot to me. but it also was the stark reminder of how much more work we have to do. there is a coalition in georgia called just georgia and they are working beyond the verdict, and that's what i'm focused on, because we still have work to do in this country so that my little black son carter knows that his black life matters in this country. >> and that group is very effective. the georgia naacp was there with us, and you know we have an office of national action in atlanta. you came to our 30th anniversary, we were honored you came to the 30th anniversary a few weeks ago. >> i'm going to miss your birthday party, al. >> thank you. let me go to the point i really wanted to talk to you about, congresswoman. last week your state became the latest to see its gop-dominated legislature redraw its
congressional maps to either grow the number of republican districts or reduce democratic representation by cutting into diverse and minority majority districts. as the democratic party chair in your state, how do you fight back? what federal weapons do you need, and are you worried about potentially losing not just the extraction of a congressional seat, but losing members, legislators like lucy mcbath in georgia? >> i mean, what they have shown us here in georgia is that they are -- republicans will do anything possible to win an election. and so they've tried to basically draw us out being a competitive state. we saw when we delivered our electoral college votes for joe biden and the u.s. senate seats, that georgia is a 50/50 state and our congressional district lines should reflect that. but georgia republicans last week tried to draw a black woman out of her district by making it
a solidly republican seat. and we understand here in the south, especially as a black woman in the south, that sometimes we have to take this to the courts. so i was pleased to see just today we've been working on what this -- we are fighting for fair maps, not democratic maps, not republican maps. we want fair maps in georgia. we want it to reflect the will of the people. we're building multiracial coalitions on the ground and we want those coalitions to be able to come together and choose the candidates of their choice, the elected officials of their choice. marc elias tweeted today that georgia was the number one state when it comes to litigation over gerrymandering, over our maps, not just on the congressional level but the state level. so we have some work to do. i'm not afraid to take something to the courts when it doesn't work out for us in the legislature because i know we have rights as black people to vote in this country by going to the federal government, by going to the court. i'm not letting up. it's time to put the pressure on
and we need the white house behind us, the department of justice behind us, because we have to make sure our democracy truly represents all of us. >> before we lose you, congresswoman, as we discuss mobilization ahead of next year, i was enthused to see, working on this multimillion dollar initiative from the democratic congressional campaign committee to engage black and latinx voters ahead of midterms, trying to keep engagement constant like you and others did in georgia to deliver those wins last year. what can you tell us about what you're doing specifically on voting rights and voter education? >> so reverend al, i was just named as the first ever voting rights chairman for the dccc. that shows our intention to make sure we are engaging not just around the electoral part. if someone shows up to vote and their vote doesn't count, then we didn't do our job.
we're engaging around the educational piece. we've seen state after state, including my home state of georgia, enacting laws to suppress the vote. we're going to make sure we're putting resources ahead of the election to educate voters on how to cast their ballots, what these changes in the laws are and how to make sure they're counted even after they're cast because there's been so many changes in our battleground states across the country. so i'm excited to be leading in this effort for the dccc. as people will tell you, your budget reflects your values. and the dccc has put the money behind this work so we can truly get out and meet people where they are and make sure every vote is counted in these midterm elections. >> and she's leading the dccc's efforts, he's the state chair of the democratic party and she sits in the seat held by the late, great john lewis, i'm sure he's proud to have a fiery woman like you sitting in that seat. congresswoman nikema williams,
thank you so much for being with us tonight. joining me is my political panel, maya rocky moore cummings, and rick tyler, co-founder of andre strategies and an msnbc political analyst. rick, let's start with the new variant of coronavirus. scientists are still trying to understand the threat posed by this mutation. but it could spark a new wave of infections and death, they warn, if we don't take this seriously. with that in mind, take a listen to what an anchor on one of fox news's highest rated programs had to say about the variant just this weekend. >> pete buttigieg, our transportation secretary, is potentially our new president in 2024 or so the democrats want, has said we can't fix the supply chain problem until the pandemic
is over, until covid is over, and now we see these new variants. so that's the answer, is more lockdowns, more lockdowns, more fear, and therefore he doesn't have to do his job of fixed the supply chain because we'll just keep this whole chain going. >> there's always a new variant. >> count on a variant every october. >> i mean, rick, how can we ever defeat this virus if right wing politicians and media personalities continue to treat it like it's a political game? >> well, they do, and you notice we're moving to the next presidential nominee faster than the variants are developing. rev, we don't know how serious this one is yet, meaning we'll find out whether the current vaccines and boosters will be effective against it. we know it transmits more quickly. we know it's already spread to many other countries although i don't think it's each day the united states yet. but we don't know whether it's a
more deadly disease. but here's the problem. there's 1.2 billion unvaccinated people in africa alone. that doesn't include the rest of the world. that's 1.2 billion opportunities for another variant or a more deadly variant. and until we make a commitment, until the united states takes a leadership role globally, along with other nations, to defeat this virus, meaning it doesn't matter if the virus -- the virus doesn't care if you're rich or poor. the rich will find their vaccines. but they can still be affected by a global pandemic because the poor are not getting vaccinated. that's currently the case in africa. and so it requires global leadership and a global response. or we won't defeat this virus and we'll be a mix, some people will lockdown, some people won't, and we won't get out of
it. we've got to get out of it and the only way to do it is be committed to defeating it. >> maya, we hope it was a restful thanksgiving for our lawmakers, because when they return to dc, they have plenty of work to do. the deadline for keeping the government open is december 3rd. the deadline for raising the debt ceiling is december 15th. and then the senate must take up the build back better act and defense spending bill to get them passed by the end of the year. that's a lot to accomplish for a congress that hasn't had a great track record for forging compromise even between the two parties or even amongst themselves. maya, are you confident they can get all of this done? >> they can get it done. the question is will they get it done before the new year by the deadlines that each particular measure requires. the answer is likely no. and with that, we can expect to see some fireworks.
this is high stakes politics at its worst, if you will. and i think we'll expect to see mcconnell actually cooperating to probably try to avoid a shutdown. nobody wants the government shut down before you go into a midterm election year. so with that, you know, there are a number of measures that are up, including the build back better bill, which is important for democrats with regards to, you know, certainly waving the flag to say that they got something done for the american people in the midterms. so i expect that, you know, there is going to be some high stakes politics. it won't necessarily all get done by the end of the year. but it will get done. >> rick, when kevin mccarthy returns to washington this week, he'll be welcomed by a republican caucus that seems out of control. this weekend, the house minority leader claimed to be in talks with democrats trying to broker a sit-down between represent
lauren boebert and ilhan omar in an effort to end the controversy surrounding islamophobic comments made by boebert. meantime, georgia congresswoman marjorie taylor greene has been taunting mccarthy, threatening to withhold her support for his speakership if he doesn't take a hard line with republicans who don't embrace far right positions. now, republicans seem to be in a strong position headed into the midterms. but could party disunity threaten that? >> it absolutely could. marjorie taylor greene has finally figured out that she has something over kevin mccarthy, that is her vote for speaker. i don't think the rest of the caucus would be very pleased with her, because the speaker is voted by the majority of the house. it doesn't seem likely the republicans will get the
majority as things stand now. that could change. and then kevin mccarthy would be in line to be speaker, a position he's wanted for a very long time. he needs desperately to bring unity to his caucus in order for that to happen. so yeah, some of these rogue members, members who have lost their committees, like marjorie taylor greene because she can't behave herself, he needs to get those people in line or capitulate to them, which i'm not sure is going to work. >> maya, the january 6th committee will start depositions. so far mark meadows and steve bannon have simply refused to cooperate. have you expecting the select committee to make any progress in these coming weeks?
>> actually, i am. the select committee has been methodical in its efforts to get at the heart of the matter, to understand the role that all people played, organizations and, you know, leaders played in this. the fact that they're actually looking at and going after members of congress who may have been involved in the planning, they're trying to understand what people in the white house, particularly the president knew about the violence that was planned. and certainly that they are looking at even how the nonprofit organizations and the funders of this effort, you know, pulled it off, is exciting. that means that they are methodically going through all of the evidence. they're calling people to testify. a lot of people are coming and complying with the subpoena. those who are not complying with the subpoena, i expect will get the same treatment that bannon got, including mark meadows. and so all eyes are on the courts to find out what they're
going to do with regards to donald trump and i expect we need to all hold them to the standards set by the 14th amendment which says that if you undertake any insurrection against the u.s. government, you know, you can certainly lose your position in congress, in the u.s. senate, and in any office of import to american democracy. >> rick, very briefly, please, i want to get your take on disgraced former president donald trump. he was just the latest republican leader to fawn all over kyle rittenhouse, posing with him for a photo at his palm beach club, after several republican congressmen announced their plans to make rittenhouse a congressional intern. isn't this an explicit endorsement of political violence from the republican party? >> certainly people could take it that way. there's two people, i believe
two people, one severely injured, and that's something we should take into account. i don't think kyle rittenhouse is very wise to go around trying to make him a celebrity and i don't think the right wing is going to do itself any favors by making him a hero. what happened was a tragedy and there's no good or final outcome one way or the other, and certainly not politically, so no. >> maya rockeymoore cummings and rick tyler, thank you for joining me. coming up, a powerful tool for change is in each of our pockets. how can we harness it? next, i'll tell you in "rise up." later, congresswoman eddie bernice johnson of texas joins "politicsnation." we'll discuss her difficult decision to retire after blazing a trail for black women in politics for nearly 30 years. first, my colleague richard lui with today's top news
stories. in just the last few minutes and hours, canada added to the list of countries with the omicron variant of covid, joining others including australia, denmark, and the netherlands. these cases are believed to be linked to travelers from southern africa. the united states will ban travelers from eight countries in the south of africa starting monday. opening arguments begin tomorrow in the federal sex trafficking trial of ghislaine maxwell. maxwell is accused of helping long time companion jeffrey epstein to recruit and groom and sexually exploit young girls. maxwell has pled not guilty. a 26-year-old man from guatemala stowed away in a plane's landing gear bay. he survived temperatures as low as 65 below zero, lack of oxygen, and managed to stay
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for this week's "rise up," i wanted to talk about the power we each hold in the palm of our hands. i'm not speaking metaphorically. i'm talking about our ever-present cellphones. there are lots of reasons to be concerned about screen time. but the ability for nearly everyone to document misconduct in real time has been one of the biggest advantages and advances for social justice in this country that we've ever seen. even before we all carried cameras in our pockets, amateur video evidence could galvanize a nation and change attitudes about law enforcement. three decades ago, los angeles police officers savagely beat a
black man named rodney king. it was the kind of brutality that many people of color in l.a. and other places had come to expect from some law enforcement. but this instance happened to be caught on video by a bystander. that man gave the footage to the local news. and it went pre-internet viral, airing on television stations across the country and sparking a nationwide conversation about racism and police brutality. while those officers were ultimately acquitted, sparking riots, there is no denying that the video changed the discourse around policing in america forever. just last summer, the minneapolis police department originally described the murder of george floyd as, quote, man dies after medical incident during police interaction.
it was the video of derek chauvin kneeling on mr. floyd's neck for almost nine minutes that drew national outrage, culminating in his eventual conviction of that murder. the bystander did the only thing she could, pulled out a phone, hit record, and bore witness. in the killing of ahmaud arbery, there was no arrest made until 74 days after mr. arbery was shunted down and shot by three white men. those arrests came just two days after video of the incident was uploaded to the internet by a local radio station. strangely, that footage was shot and released by one of the perpetrators who somehow thought the video would help him.
however it gets released, it is undeniable, it is an undeniable fact, it was crucial when it comes to police misconduct and racial justice. in an ideal world, police would be accountable for their actions. many communities require police to wear body cameras. more should do so. and there should be real consequences for officers who don't keep them turned on. until then, each and every one of us has the means to collect video evidence in our pockets right now if we choose to do so. and as long as your own safety is not an issue, it is your first amendment right to record in public spaces or private ones if the property owner has given permission. you do not have the right to interfere in most cases, so keep your distance. and most states restrict secret
recordings, so do not try to hide what you're doing. and it is illegal for officers to try to delete your footage. that doesn't mean some won't try. they say that a picture is worth a thousand words. but the right video can be worth so much more. the right video can shed light where there was darkness and bring truth where there were only lies. sometimes a video can help us rise up and bring justice and accountability when otherwise all hope would be lost. >> man: what's my safelite story? my truck...is my livelihood. so when my windshield cracked... the experts at safelite autoglass came right to me... with service i could trust.
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life has spanned nearly 30 years representing her dallas area district, serving as the dean of democrats' texas delegation. at a time when her state has become an emblem for our national divisions. joining me now, retiring congresswoman eddie bernice johnson, democrat of texas, one that i've respected more than i can say. congresswoman, thank you for joining us tonight. and -- >> thank you very much. i'm delighted to join you. >> thank you for joining us. you've signaled for some time that this would be your last term in congress. i think my question is more personal, because i've read where you said that some of your biggest legislative victories came with the support from your republican colleagues in texas. yet between the state's so-called voter integrity law,
its six-week abortion ban and its congressional map, is this the same republican party you were able to work with in the past? or is it something new that black democrats are facing now in texas? >> well, reverend al, this is a totally new day of philosophy that i never experienced. you know, i was in the texas house and texas senate prior to going to washington. i have never experienced this kind of backwardness. and it seems to be -- texas seems to be leading it for the rest of the nation. it is really very, very unfortunate. but some of the people that i work with, i had worked with at a state level prior to going to
congress and maintained a working relationship. one of the people that was responsible for helping with this extreme gerrymandering was tom delay. and yet tom helped me a great deal, because i was in congress one term, and we lost the majority. i didn't go there just to sit there. i went there to do things that was going to help people at home and help people in general. and so, you know, when i became chair of this committee, the last time we got the majority, i had been in congress 26 years, with only six years being in the majority. i was not going to sit there and do nothing. so i had to work with the majority to get things done. and i must tell you that tom
delay was one of the people that helped me the most. >> now, congresswoman, having watched the nation's challenges evolve over your tenure, as you prepare to retire, what should democrats' priorities be moving forward, in your opinion? >> well, first of all, we've got to preserve our right to vote. that's our number one priority. and we are having difficulty getting it passed in the u.s. senate. i hope that it will be passed before i retire. but you know what is so interesting to me is that every major issue that we've fought for in the past is on our table again and on our plate to try to do something about. it's unbelievable. what kind of atmosphere that has been created by the last president. it's unfortunate. but we've got a big ladder to
climb to try to stop the rollback and move forward. and we cannot afford not to keep trying. >> do you think the political extremism generated by texas republicans could be effectively countered and organized around in 2022? you have beto o'rourke now in the state governor's race. could the fight for voting rights and against the abortion ban make him the first democratic governor in 30 years? >> i hope so. it's time for a major change in texas. it's almost like meanness is a sport in texas now. i've never known it quite this bad. >> have you ever decided on who you're going to support to replace you, if that is at all
possible that someone could replace eddie bernice johnson? >> yes, i have. let me say i have lots of friends and acquaintances who are interested and have been in touch with me. and i tried very hard to pick what i considered the youngest, smartest, and most experienced person, and i think i have. i have selected jasmine crockett. some of the people have been supporters of mine but i wanted someone young and i wanted someone smart and i wanted someone who looked at the office as a job, not just glamour, not just title, but work. and i have watched her work this last session in the texas house. and i didn't know her well, she
reached out to me during the year, collaborated back and forth. when i mentioned that to her, she was a little surprised that i was thinking about her, because it was, i felt, a responsibility to support someone. first, i wanted a woman. and secondly, i wanted someone who was smart and focused on getting the people's work done. and i had seen that displayed in her behavior. i'm very proud and i will be supporting her very strongly. >> all right. well, we don't take sides at this point, but certainly she's been on this show, i've called her the senator. with your endorsement, we may have to upgrade that. congresswoman eddie bernice johnson, thank you for joining me and thank you for your service over the years. after the break, a new leader for a new era. how one of the nation's oldest civil rights groups will tackle the recent resurgence of prime
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been fighting for civil rights and racial justice for over 80 years, over eight decades. the organization has had just seven leaders. but a new president will be taking the helm this spring. and joining me now is jenai nelson, incoming president of the naacp legal defense fund. ms. nelson, thank you so much for joining us this evening, and i've known you, you've been in the battlefield and we've been in a couple of fox holes together with the amazing predecessor you had, cherylin ifill. recently you did an interview with "the washington post" and something you said made me realize you are someone who, as the kids say, understands the assignment.
you spoke openly about the recent resurgence in open white supremacy while still recognizing the progress we have made. what does the fight against white supremacy look like from the vantage point of the naacp legal defense fund? >> reverend, thank you so much for having me on your show, it's a delight to be with you. you're right, we've been in fox holes and on the front lines for so long together. thank you for your service and for that of my predecessor who will be continuing at the helm through the spring. the resurfacing of white supremacy has been just an extraordinary phenomenon in the past few years. we've all known, those of us who do racial justice work, we all know white supremacy never disappeared. it has been part of this country's dna for its entire existence. it never fully abated. but what's been unleashed and
revealed in the past several years is deeply alarming. it has been emboldened. it has been enabled. and it has literally been invited to the table of this democracy. for anyone who cares about the future of our democracy, our multiracial, multiethnic democracy, that is growing with an emerging majority of people of color every single day, we need to take this fight for justice very seriously. and at the legal defense fund, we have many tools that we use as part of our advocacy to empower black communities and to preserve our democracy. we're known most for our litigation. we were founded, as you said, 80 years ago by thurgood marshall who became the first african american supreme court justice. we have brought cases across our history that have literally brought our constitution to life, that has allowed this country to begin to live its ideals, from ending state-sponsored segregation, in our famous case, brown v. board
of education, to ending redlining and so many other practices that have forced discrimination to divide our country in deleterious ways. and we'll continue to litigate. we'll also do policy work. we'll also use organizing and research. >> that's what you do, you litigate, you organize. the naacp legal fund is separate from the naacp. in the trial in charlottesville, the jury awarded $25 million in damages against white supremacists. what are your thoughts on civil litigation as an avenue for
accountability? >> it's a very important avenue. that decision last week to award $25 million in damages is critical because it strikes at the economic infrastructure of the white supremacist movement. so it is a crippling impact on those five organizations that were part of the defendant pool, as well as the individuals. but we can't stop there. one of the deep concerns about that case was that the conspiracy to commit racial violence was not something that the jury actually found, even though they awarded generous damages. and it's important to recognize that that is in fact what happened in that case. there was a conspiracy to bring white nationalist groups to charlottesville, virginia, to incite violence and to cause corrosion and division and, sadly, it did result in the loss of one life and the disablement of many others. that type of verdict sends a message that white supremacy is not tolerated in any part of our
civil society, our multiracial, multiethnic democracy cannot countenance that type of organized domestic terrorism. having that economic impact on those groups is critically important, to send that message and to, frankly, defund them. >> i have to ask you about voting rights. it seems obvious that there is a link between the rise in open white supremacy and the continued right wing outrage over free and fair elections in which black and brown voters were decisive in the outcome. do you see voter protection and the invite against white supremacy as parallel struggles or are they one and the same? >> absolutely. what we're seeing is a fight on three critical fronts. one is an assault on the right to vote. the other is an assault on the right to protest. and the third is an assault on truth, an assault on the ability to receive information and
expression. we're seeing that in so many laws that are proliferating across the states that limit voting rights, that are targeted against protesters, and that are limiting the dissemination of truthful history and information. and we are, in cases in each of those areas, engaged in advocacy in each of those critical areas. and voting underpins it all. there's no way we can change our condition if we cannot peacefully, lawfully, and nonviolently express our conditions at the ballot box and seek policy changes that will inure to the benefit of our entire democracy. and our right to vote is the bedrock of that. >> janai nelson, very happy to have you on, very happy to be working with you. thank you for joining me. up next, my final thoughts. stay with us. ♪ ♪
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mourn the passing of virgil abloh, founder of off white. he died at 41 years old. he's talked a lot about racism in the fashion world. virgil was one that was a trailblazer and broke through and made a difference. may he rest in peace. unrelated to that, moments ago the president met in person with his chief medical adviser, dr. anthony fauci, and members of his white house covid response team. that team updated the president on the latest developments related to the omicron variant. and clearly, as the holidays are now upon us and we're in the midst of between thanksgiving and christmas, as family and
friends gather, be very conscious. get vaccinated. get boosters if you qualify. wear your masks. do what is safe and do what is healthy. protect yourself. don't have a holiday spirit in a reckless manner. we'll be right back. ood. so when my windshield cracked... the experts at safelite autoglass came right to me... with service i could trust. right, girl? >> singers: ♪ safelite repair, safelite replace. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪day to night to morning,♪ ♪keep with me in the moment♪ ♪i'd let you had i known it, why don't you say so?♪ ♪didn't even notice, no punches left to roll with♪ ♪you got to keep me focused, you want it, say so♪ ♪day to night to morning,♪ ♪keep with me in the moment♪ new cheetos boneless wings
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weekend at 5:00 p.m. eastern. my colleague ayman mohyeldin picks up our news coverage right now. >> thank you very much, rev, have a great evening. good evening you to all at home. welcome to "ayman." congress is back in session on monday with a busy session scheduled ahead of them. how will the outcome of this next month shape the midterms? plus concerns over the new omicron variant rises as cases continue to pop up in countries across the globe with new travel restrictions going into effect on monday. what do we actually know about this new variant? and the rise of far right extremism. how do people fall down the qanon rabbit hole, and how we can prevent it from happening. i'm ayman mohyeldin. let's get started. i hope you had a relaxing holiday weekend, because things in washington are