FBI attributes JBS cyberattack to Russia-linked cybercriminal group REvil. Wisconsin Republicans push restrictive voting laws.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”: Well, that I agree with. That`s why I think it`s a matter of principle, which makes it more difficult.
Ezra Klein, Meagan Hatcher-Mays, that was great. Thank you both.
That is ALL IN on this Wednesday evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
I did not know it before today, but apparently when they launched it, they made like a movie commercial for it. They called it “The Beacon of Freedom.” This is a thing I knew existed. I had no idea they launched it with this like short film.
But it is worth watching now. It is only like 20 seconds or so. Watch this.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: All right. First of all, the idea of something being from the desk of someone and that thing also being a fast-moving enough thing that it requires like photography from space in order to show it, that`s kind of a weird mixed message because what`s like that that comes from a desk?
But this is the sort of ad they put out to launch the new public platform for Donald Trump`s desk. Yes, he used to be president, but now he`s at his house in Florida, arising, a beacon of freedom that is a place straight from his desk where you can speak freely and safely. Or maybe where he can speak freely and safely, since it`s his own desk and nobody else actually gets to speak there?
They literally launched this thing as a beacon of freedom. Less than a month ago, former President Donald Trump launched a website and they put out that like movie trailer exciting ad to launch it.
But then it turns out what the website was, was him just like putting little statements on there. He`s banned from social media platforms for promoting violence and undermining democracy. And so he just opened this thing, like started this website where he just puts little statements out. Most of them were about how he believed he`s secretly still the real president and he`ll be put back in office some day.
Well, today, that little experiment, that beacon of freedom, burned out, came to an end. This was the fairly brutal headline and lead in “The Washington Post” about it today. Quote: Trump ends blog after 29 days, infuriated by measly readership. Upset that it was being mocked for low traffic. Trump ordered his team Tuesday to put the blog out of its misery.
Former President Donald Trump`s blog celebrated by advisers as a beacon of freedom that would keep him relevant is dead. It was 29 days olds.
In March, Trump advisor Jason Miller told Fox News that Trump`s new social media platform would be revealed within three months and that it would draw tens of millions of people to become the hottest ticket in social media. He told Fox News, quote, it`s going to completely redefine the game.
“Washington Post” analysis of online data last month found that Trump`s site was actually attracting fewer visitors than the pet adoption service Pet Finder and the recipe site Delish. The blog`s prospects had not improved since even though Trump had taken to writing on it more. A new analysis shows that Trump did not like that his blog was being mocked as a loser.
Upset by these reports highlighting his measly readership, Trump ordered his team to put the blog out of its misery. You know, you hate to see it, very sad. Very sad. But presumably he will be back. There was a little bit of like a rumor control problem today where people believed falsely that Trump`s accounts had been reinstated on Facebook and on Instagram.
That was not true. But, yeah, he`s excluded from all social media and his blog failed. His effort to change the game, to completely redefine the game with his own platform that would have tens of millions of viewers, it failed and it didn`t last a month. So what that says in terms of the president`s influence in the social media world, the president`s influence online, the president`s ability to magically communicate with people so effectively, which the mainstream media has been telling us about for five or six years, it`s, it`s something.
So we`re watching that to see what the fury releases there. Tonight, the state of Ohio just announced another $1 million winner in the lottery drawing that it`s running for people who agree to get vaccinated against COVID-19. A man named Jonathan Carlyle from Toledo, Ohio, won the $1 million prize tonight as a vaccinated Ohioan.
A young woman named Zoie Vincent of Mayfield Village, Ohio, she won an all- inclusive college scholarship, including tuition, and room and board and books and everything, all because she`s vaccinated and their names were entered into that drawing in the Vax-a-Million Ohio drawing.
Ohio is the state that started the ball rolling with offering these totally over-the-top prizes as incentives for people to get the vaccine. It has proven to be a success. Ohio leading the way on this, they seriously boosted their own vaccine uptake numbers, particularly in the age groups they were targeting.
And now, states all over the country are doing similar giveaways and lotteries. Now, it`s sort of as of today gone national.
Today at the White House, President Biden announced a whole kind of overwhelming list of things that are being donated as rewards or incentives or even prizes for people who get vaccinated. Everything from a chance to win a free cruise, tickets to the next Super Bowl, tickets to the next Daytona 500, free tickets to Major League Baseball games. A lot of games you can even get your vaccination shot right there at the game, plus you can win free tickets to other games.
There are free Xboxes being given away and free groceries for a year. There`s an airline giving away free flights for a year. Anheuser-Busch says today they will buy everyone in the country a beer once the country hits the goal of 70 percent of American adults having at least one shot.
The four biggest child care providers in the country will offer free child care to you while you go get your vaccine or if you feel poorly after you get your vaccine, they`ll cover your child care responsibilities at that point too.
They`re rolling out a big program at the White House for black barber shops and black hair salons to not only promote vaccines but in many cases to administer them too. There`s a college vaccination challenge program they`re rolling out.
The idea is to try to get to that 70 percent threshold of all adults having at least one vaccine shot by this time next month, by the Fourth of July. Right now, 12 states out of 50 have reached that threshold, 12 states out of 50 have 70 percent or more of their adults vaccinated.
The overall rate in the country as of today is not over 70 percent, it`s 62.8 percent according to the CDC. So this month is the big push to get us over that line. To get over 70 percent of adults in the country vaccinated within the next month.
And this is interesting. This didn`t get at much attention today from President Biden`s remarks but they`re asking Americans to volunteer this month to help get more of our fellow Americans vaccinated. They set up a website at email@example.com.
If you go to firstname.lastname@example.org, there`s a whole bunch of different things you can sign up for there. You can sign up to be trained on how to talk to your family members and neighbors about the benefits of getting vaccinated. You can sign up to do a phone bank to ask them if they need help arranging a vaccination or if they need their questions answered about a vaccination.
You can also register to help at a vaccination event in your town, all sorts of stuff. Again, we can do this.hhs.gov.
It`s interesting, you know, there`s not very many things in this country that we care enough about as a country that we`re willing to donate free beer to it, you know? Let alone free super bowl tickets and free million dollar prizes and free college scholarships and all the rest of it. But, you know, if anything can get us across that threshold, it`s probably a national call for volunteers to help do this for your country paired with free beer for everyone if we do it. I mean, that`s kinds of the perfect set of incentives, right?
You know, in Ohio and California and New York and Oregon and Colorado, it`s cash prizes up to $1.5 million. In some states, it is college scholarships, including Ohio and New York. In West Virginia, they`re giving up shotguns and customized pickup trucks.
In Minnesota, I kid you not, you can get a free fishing license if you`re vaccinated which makes me wonder how expensive a fishing license is in Minnesota anyway. But all over the country, all different ways, they are sort of pulling out all the stops.
And if the country can actually pull together in the same direction on this for a month aiming at July 4th having 70 percent of the country vaccinated, we would really be something for us as a country. It would be bragging rights for sure. It would be a collective endeavor we`d all get to brag about being part of. Of course as a bonus, hey, maybe we`ll all survive the fall and winter next year.
So it`s interesting to watch that news develop today. It will be really interesting to see the — I think particularly the volunteerism response but also the vaccine uptake response as so many private entities and public entities start pulling in the same direction to try to get those numbers up.
Tonight, the FBI put out a statement formally attributing responsibility for the cyberattack that shut down one-fifth of all U.S. beef production in the last few days. The largest meat packer in the world, the largest beef producer in this country is the gigantic company called JBS. They have got production facilities all over this country. All their production facilities were all shut down as of yesterday because of this ransomware attack that hit the company this weekend.
The FBI now says tonight that that attack was perpetrated by an organized crime group based in, say it with me now, based in Russia. It seems like they all are. It`s a group that`s called, depending on you pronounce it, some people say REvil, others say REvil. In any case, it rhymes with evil.
I am not an expert in this stuff, but the FBI in their statement of attribution tonight used the team Sodinokibi. I`m sure I`m saying that wrong. It`s a Russian-derived word, S-O-D-I-N-O-K-I-B-I. They`re also using that name along with REvil to describe the group.
Listen, I`m sure I`m saying them wrong. They`re organized crime groups based in Russia. It`s not like they want pronounceable, memorable Americanized names. Anything that rhymes with evil by definition is pretty catchy when you`re an organized crime group.
Here`s what the FBI said tonight in their statement attributing blame for the JBS attack to these groups. It says, quote: We have attributed the JBS attack to REvil and Sodinokibi and are working diligently to bring the threat actors to justice. We continue to focus our efforts on imposing risk and consequences and holding the responsible cyber actors accountable.
A cyberattack on one is an attack on all of us — excuse me, on us all. We encourage any entity who is the victim of a cyberattack to immediately notify the FBI through one of our 56 field offices.
One question is, of course, what does the FBI do if you do call one of their field offices and tell them that you`ve been hit with a ransomware attack? It seems like there`s no magic bullet from stopping these things from happening.
According to “The New York Times” tonight, quote, REvil is one of the most prolific of the roughly 40 ransomware organizations that cybersecurity experts track. The group is among dozens of ransomware groups that enjoy safe harbor in Russia, where they are rarely arrested or extradited for their crimes. One of its previous affiliates was a group called DarkSide which was responsible for the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, the conduit for nearly half the gas and jet fuel to the East Coast.
After that Colonial Pipeline attack a few weeks ago which, of course, put a major crink in the supply of gas and jet fuel in the country caused gas shortages in multiple states over multiple days, you might remember after that attack on the Colonial Pipeline resolved, we learned that the company that operates Colonial Pipeline actually paid the ransom. They paid millions of dollars in ransom to DarkSide to get their operations back online. I mean, it still didn`t stop the pipeline from being shut down for six full days, nearly a week.
But you might also remember that after that pipeline attack was resolved, DarkSide announced that it was shutting itself down. They said they had lost access to their servers. They said they even lost access to their money online, implying maybe they even lost control of the ransom money that Colonial Pipeline paid them to get the attack stopped.
That announcement from DarkSide that they were taking themselves out of the game, taking themselves down, that they had been dismantled by hostile forces, that led to speculation that the U.S. government might have counterattacked against that group in retaliation for them taking out this big piece of critical American infrastructure.
Interestingly, the Biden administration denied that. They denied that U.S. Cyber Command or any other U.S. agency had anything to do with taking DarkSide offline after DarkSide mounted that attack.
So, interesting open question. Who did punch back at DarkSide after the Colonial Pipeline attack, taking their servers offline, taking away their ability to operate, to continue to effectuate these ransomware attacks, potentially taking away their money? Who did that if it wasn`t the U.S. government? Don`t know.
Did that punch back actually happen? Was DarkSide lying about having all of their resources taken offline and losing their ransom money? Were they lying because they wanted to take the heat off themselves because they got so much negative attention for that very, very consequential attack? We don`t know.
It`s interesting though, now, now that we`ve got another major attack on another major piece of American infrastructure, when the announcement was made that DarkSide was dissolving itself and their systems were taken offline and they were no longer going to exist, the entity that announced all of that was REvil, this other criminal hacking group also based in Russia that is now blamed not for an attack on critical fuel supply lines in the United States, that was DarkSide. REvil is blamed for attacking our critical food supply lines instead.
And the point of that is that maybe we don`t really need to learn the fine distinctions between all these stupidly named Russian criminal gangs because maybe they`re all interlinked Russian criminal gangs and the main thing we need to know about them rather than any supposed fine distinction between different entities among them, maybe the thing we need to know about them is that they are Russian organized crime gangs that are mounting very consequential transnational attacks, particularly targeting the United States, and they are apparently being allowed to operate by the government of Russia, because what`s there not to like, right? What`s there not for the Kremlin to like?
An American critical infrastructure being picked off at will, while the U.S. government looks helpless against it and millions of dollars flow into Russia as — you know, as ransom, as payment for the privilege of them shutting us down whenever they feel like it. What`s not to like if you`re the Russian government here?
If you`re the Russian government, you don`t necessarily want to get caught shutting down major U.S. fuel pipelines and food supply lines. But if you can arrange essentially for criminal gangs to do that and protect them while they do it, all the benefit flows to you and none of the consequences. Provided none of the consequences actually flow to you. So how long is this going to keep going on?
The White House today reiterated that this is something that they are raising directly with the Russian government. The White House keeps repeating this phrase that they`re communicating to Russia that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals.
Russia sure does, and these attacks from Russia — I mean in the space of a month have taken offline a shockingly large portion of U.S. fuel supplies and the U.S. food supply. What`s next?
So I mean I have questions about this. First of all, I`m surprised this isn`t getting more media attention than it is. But to the extent that we are covering it, are we covering it properly?
Is our journalism about this stuff something enough so that we non-tech folks actually understand what`s going on here, what the stakes are, how to keep it in perspective and how we understand the range of potential responses. Do we need to get better at explaining this or are we correctly grasping the essentials. Sort of a first order question for someone like me to make sure that I really grasp the importance here.
Secondly, given that so many of these attacks are originating in Russia, should we really expect that these attacks could be shut down by the Russian government if the Russian government were so inclined? I am under no illusions that the Russian government is so inclined, but if their head could be turned on this, if consequences or incentives could be changed for them, for the Russian government so that they suddenly desired to stop these things, do we expect that they could?
Also, is there any evidence that the United States government has the capacity, the offensive capacity to brush these groups back? To shut them down, to dismantle them, to rob them of their ill-gotten gains? I mean, what does the FBI mean when they say they are continuing to focus their efforts on imposing risk and consequences. Imposing risk and consequences, what does that mean in FBI speak when we`re talking about this kind of attack on the United States?
And, you know, bottom line, is this as scary as it seems? Is this something that actually has been going along like this all the time and we`re just paying a little bit of attention to it now because these happen to be a couple of high-profile attacks? Or are these, in fact, really high-profile attacks?
Is it true that for whatever reason right now these Russian criminal gangs operating from the safe harbor of the Russian government, letting them operate here, are these Russian attackers hitting targets in our country that are way closer to the heart of who we are and how we live? If so, why is that? And if these attacks are getting more serious and more consequential, does that change what we as a country should or could do in response?
David Kennedy worked as a hacker for the United States Marine Corps and also for the NSA, for the National Security Administration. He specialized in signals intelligence and cyber warfare operations. He`s now out of government. He is the founder of an information security company called TrustedSec. It consults for Fortune 100 companies and governments. It also trains U.S. military cyber protection teams.
Most crucially, tonight, the thing to know about him is his company has worked on multiple previous ransomware attacks carried out by this group REvil that the FBI is now blaming for this major attack on the major U.S. supplier of beef, JBS.
David Kennedy now joins us live.
Mr. Kennedy, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate you being here.
DAVID KENNEDY, FORMER NSA HACKER: Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me on today.
MADDOW: First let me ask you the embarrassing question about REvil versus REvil and the other Russian origin word that the FBI is using to describe this group. Am I making a hash of it or am I close?
KENNEDY: You did really good on it. It`s a pretty accurate term. Most people say REvil that we typically hear in the security industry. But any of them is fine.
MADDOW: Let me also just ask you sort of the first question that I teed up here tonight. I obviously am not a super tech-minded person. I`m a standard American old person who knows how to turn things on and off and that`s it, but I do recognize this is a pretty significant challenge for the country.
As somebody who really understands this stuff pretty well, what else should we understand? Let me give you the chance to correct anything I might have portrayed inaccurately in terms of how serious this is and what kind of attacks these are?
KENNEDY: You hit a couple of really important to note is that these groups operate with complete impunity inside of the Russian government, you know? The Russian government may not know exactly which targets they`re going after but they have no recourse for going after U.S.-based targets as long as they don`t target Russian influences or Russian government entities. They can essentially work, you know, causing as much damage as possible.
REvil more specifically nets over $100 million a year from ransomware groups. DarkSide very similar to that figure as well. If you look at Ryuk, multiple of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, these groups continue to grow, expand. Their sophistication grows.
And here`s the big piece to note. You mentioned why are we just talking about this now, has this been a problem for a long time? It really has, but the problem is that we continuously are paying these ransoms because they`re getting so good at what they do, going after our backups, also stealing our data, that they entrench themselves and these companies cannot recover.
And it`s a terrifying situation for these organizations because you`re looking at businesses that have been around for 100, 200 years and now they`re completely shut down. They can`t operate, they can`t paychecks, they can`t, you know, export goods, they can`t manufacture products, they`re completely shut down. The only recourse they have is to pay these ransomware groups.
You know, I talk to one executive and he`s like, I literally had to go underneath the shower and just sit there because I felt so dirty for paying this group for the ransoms but it`s the only way that our business could actually operate.
And, you know, they`re making hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. And what they`re doing is they`re investing into more research and more development so they`re getting more sophisticated which means they target larger organizations, which we saw with Colonial, we saw with JBS, we saw with Acer (ph), we saw with Universal Health Systems.
We`re continuously seeing much larger breaches at a much larger scale now because the sophistication of these groups have grown.
MADDOW: Is this a problem that is more sophisticated and larger than law enforcement and government can handle? And I ask that sort of from two perspectives. Number one, you talked about the impunity with which these groups operate in Russia. If Russia decided to change their mind about these groups for whatever reason, I understand that they have every incentive to let this go ahead and are not likely to have their head turned on this.
But if they did, would they have the power to control these groups or shut them down or divert them in some way? Alternatively, does the United States or any other government entity have the ability to offensively combat them, to either dismantle them or blunt their influence?
KENNEDY: That`s a great point. The answer to that question is if the Russian government didn`t want these ransomware groups to operate, they would not be operating, 100 percent. So it would require the Russian government to take a different stance on these ransomware groups that are operating out of Russia.
Let`s just be frank. You have the top five ransomware groups are out of Russia. They`re making hundreds of millions of dollars being influxed into the Russian government and it`s good for business for Russia, bad for business for the United States so it`s good for Russia ultimately.
There are cases where we`ve worked very closely with a number of different countries. Most recently there was a very large organized crime ransomware group Emotet which weren`t located in Russia, they were located in a few different countries. Law enforcement in those regions in conjunction with law enforcement in the United States led raids that actually busted up this specific group and they`re no longer operating anymore.
The problem is as soon as this group went dark, four other ransomware groups took their spot. DarkSide is another example. DarkSide went dark and a new group called Five Hands took their spot and is handling the ransomware that DarkSide filled.
So, it`s really a whack-a-mole problem with these different groups. And it comes with incentives, because, you know, they`re getting paid, so companies are paying the money for that, which is one problem.
The second problem is that these groups can work with impunity without worrying about getting busted if they`re in Russia. It will take some pretty major distinctions and sanctions and going after the country and making Russia really focused primarily on targeting these organizations in order to make some sort of change. And we have not seen that historically from Russia at all.
MADDOW: Last question for you, David. President Biden and Vladimir Putin are due to have a summit in two weeks, and we`re seeing a lot of provocative behavior by Russia leading up to that summit. We`re even seeing the Russian government bragging about the fact that they`re planning on being even more provocative leading up to that summit.
Do you think it`s possible that these attacks are hitting closer and closer to the heart of American critical infrastructure, hitting fuel supply lines, hitting food supply lines in part because that`s in the Russian government`s interest in the terms of the way they`re trying to test and provoke President Biden ahead of that meeting?
KENNEDY: That`s a great point to bring up. We`ve never really seen ransomware groups target critical infrastructure like we have in the past several months. Let`s just be clear, Russia has also been involved, the Russian government, the FSB, has been heavily involved in some major prolific attacks against SolarWinds, which ultimately impacted Microsoft, Intel, VMware, Cisco, all the major companies that are technological backbones of our company. Also going after federal government agencies, our energy grid.
Russia`s government has been very overt on these cyber fronts. We`ve never seen these ransomware groups bite off so big of an attack against critical infrastructure before. They have primarily been focused on companies where they can make $3 to $5 million. Never the critical infrastructure that we`ve seen before so they have been very brazen with what they`re doing and it`s very peculiar it`s around the same time frames with the new administration coming onboard to test the waters.
So that`s absolutely a possibility. These groups again don`t focus on these high-value targets without some very clear communication coming from the Kremlin. I`d be very surprised if they weren`t aware these targets aren`t going on and if it wasn`t directed by the government itself.
MADDOW: All right. And Targets big enough and important enough it demands a response from the U.S. government and that`s what they`re getting. David Kennedy, former NSA hacker, founder of TrustedSec, an information security consulting company, Mr. Kennedy, thanks for helping us understand here, I really appreciate your expertise and clarity here.
KENNEDY: Absolutely, Rachel. I`m hoping for the Ohio lottery win. I got my vaccine so we`ll see if I get that next month.
MADDOW: Very good. I`ll see what I can do. I`ll put in a word.
MADDOW: We`ve got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Windham, New Hampshire, is a small town in the southern part of New Hampshire, about an hour outside of Boston. About 14,000 people live in Windham, New Hampshire. Last election day, on the ballot there, they had races for four seats in the state legislature.
When the ballots were counted up from Windham, the top 4 candidates, the winners of all those four seats were all Republicans. A Democrat came in fifth, but the returns showed that it was really close. She had only lost out on one of those four slots by a grand total of 24 votes. And so that Democrat who came so close, she asked for a recount.
They did a recount and what it turned up was kind of weird. Rather than missing a slot in the state legislature, rather than missing fourth place by just 24 votes, the recount showed that she had lost by way more than that. She had lost by more than 400 votes.
The voting machines appear to have undercounted the votes that were given to the Republicans and over-counted the votes for that Democrat. Again, in those races it didn`t change the overall result but it did change the margin which was interesting and worth getting to the bottom of.
Windham officials said they thought it could have something to do with their voting machines simply because their voting machines were old. They were from the `90s and weren`t upgraded for a decade.
The state agreed to an audit what happened in Windham, New Hampshire, because there had been this discrepancy in the recount. They wanted to make sure nothing more serious was wrong with the machines or with the process there.
Just to reiterate, this was an incredibly local issue. This wasn`t an audit of all the election results in New Hampshire. It wasn`t even an audit of all the state legislature races in New Hampshire. It was just a handful of machines in one small town in just the state legislature races there.
But despite the narrowness of the apparent problem there, that didn`t stop former President Trump and his supporters of glomming to this tiny audit of this specific problem in New Hampshire because they thought this would be their opportunity to expose the widespread fraud in the 2020 election that would show that Donald Trump was robbed of being re-elected. This would cast doubt nationwide on the integrity of the whole presidential election. The Windham, New Hampshire, state legislature results. The margin, not the results.
Last month when the New Hampshire state legislature held a meeting to decide who would perform the odd it in Windham, what was described as an angry mob of Trump supporters descended on that meeting. They demanded that New Hampshire reject a candidate for the job who had extensive experience auditing elections and instead they demanded that New Hampshire hire Jovan Pulitzer, a guy who says he invented a device that can suss out whether ballots are real or fake but can`t tell you how it works because it`s secret.
He`s also, you`ll also recall from the other times we talk about him on the show, he`s the inventor of the hand-held cat-shaped bar code scanner that was named one of the worst tech product inventions ever made. That`s who they wanted to do the audit.
It`s not just supporters of Donald Trump who have turned this audit in Windham, New Hampshire, into a clown car for the big lie, it`s Donald Trump himself too. Last month, the former president posted this on his now defunct blog. He posted, quote, New Hampshire`s election audit has revealed — has revealed that large-scale voting machines appear to count nonexistent votes. State and local communities are seeking confirmation. It`s probably true, but we`ll soon know.
Why aren`t Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans doing anything about what went on in the 2020 election? How can the Democrats be allowed to get away with this? It will go down as the crime of the century. Other states like Arizona and Georgia, where a judge just granted a motion to unseal and inspect ballots from the 2020 election, and Michigan and Pennsylvania and more to follow.
It`s probably true. This is Trump basically saying that this audit in New Hampshire, this is going to be the thing that blows the whole thing open. It`s all going to be exposed. After New Hampshire, he says, comes Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa, the White House, ha! It`s probably soon, we`ll soon know.
Well, in the end, we did soon know. That statement from former President Trump about how New Hampshire was going to start the undoing of the whole election, that was just over a week ago. That was May 24th.
Three days later, this was the headline at “The New Hampshire Union Leader”. Quote, Windham, New Hampshire, audit finds no fraud or evidence voting machines were tampered with.
Go figure. Turns out former President Trump was incorrect when he said large-scale voting machines, whatever those are, were counting nonexistent votes in New Hampshire.
There had been a very specific problem with the way ballots were handled in that town involving them being folded by the wrong machine that allowed the fold to read some things as votes that weren`t votes. When they unfolded them and looked at them, it turns out that was the only problem, they re- ran them and got the results. That was it. When they sorted that out, they realize that had been the problem. Now we know what happened in New Hampshire.
It didn`t reveal that nationwide there was a huge voter fraud scandal. But even with that flop in New Hampshire, the fight to pretend that Donald Trump is the rightful winner of the 2020 election remains active. The so- called odd it in Arizona continues apace. It`s still anybody`s guess as to when that will wrap up but state lawmakers are kicking around the idea of doing yet another election audit in Arizona after this one, auditing again the same 2 million ballots being sham audited right now because what they`re doing right now isn`t enough.
Today, the Arizona so-called audit had visitors however had visitors. You can see in this photo, there`s all these people in colored shirts who are part of the so-called audit, but those guys in suits, those are Republican state lawmakers from the great state of Pennsylvania. They today got a private tour of the ongoing Arizona audit.
The CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the firm that`s running this B.S. audit, he squired them around the site himself today. When asked by a reporter whether he wants to do an Arizona-style audit in Pennsylvania, one of those Republican lawmakers touring the site today responded, I do. I do.
This kind of effort is spreading anywhere Republicans have power. In Wisconsin, Republicans there have come up with a brand new way to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Joe Biden`s victory in their state as well. This one will blow your socks off. We`ve got that story for you next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: The state of Wisconsin has a Democratic governor, but Republicans are in control of the state legislature, which means a lot of headlines like this, one from two weeks ago. Wisconsin Republicans reject funding to fight homelessness.
The governor proposed spending money to fight homelessness amid a nationwide economic downturn. The legislature says, no, we`re not doing this. Or this from last week. Wisconsin Republicans quickly kill Medicaid expansion. Wisconsin voted to give lots more people health insurance in the state. Wisconsin Republicans blocked that.
Just today Wisconsin Republicans reject proposal from the Democratic governor to shore up the state`s unemployment program, which has been stretched thin by the pandemic.
That`s what headlines look like in Wisconsin politics right now. But Wisconsin Republicans have found one thing they are willing to move forward on, which is trying to cast doubt on the 2020 election results from Wisconsin.
Just like Republicans in Arizona, Wisconsin`s Republican-controlled legislature has decided they`re going to spend an undisclosed amount of taxpayer funds to entertain President Trump`s fantasies about some kind of election fraud that will explain why Joe Biden is in the White House, even though it really should be Donald Trump. In Wisconsin, though, the way they have decided to go about doing it is weirder than anything we`ve seen in other states so far.
According to reporting from the “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel”, the Republican speaker of the Wisconsin assembly has hired three former police officers to carry out an investigation to, quote, investigate aspects of the November election. Quote, Assembly Speaker Vos said he was giving the investigators a broad mandate to spend about three months reviewing all tips and following up on the most credible ones. The officers have reportedly been given subpoena power.
Over the weekend, “The Journal Sentinel” dug into the backgrounds of one of the three officers hired by the Republican speaker. His experience in investigating voter fraud includes him writing a bogus report on alleged voter fraud in the 2004 election that a federal judge later declared not trustworthy. According to “The Journal Sentinel”, that officer used his own funds to pay for copying and binding some copies of his bogus report which he then delivered himself to the heads of the state Democratic and Republican parties.
His boss then banned him from visiting the polls on election day in 2008, after which he quit the police force to go work for a Texas-based Tea Party group that sends conservative partisan poll watchers to the polls on election day and that has been accused of intimidating minority and Democratic voters.
That`s who Wisconsin Republicans have just given subpoena power to, to cast doubt on the presidential election results in Wisconsin, which I should note Joe Biden won by a not inconsiderable margin.
Joining us now is Ben Wikler. He is the chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party.
Mr. Wikler, it`s nice to see you. Thanks very much for joining us tonight.
BEN WIKLER, DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF WISCONSIN CHAIR: It`s great to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Looking in from the outside, this feels both in keeping with what we`ve seen in other states, including Arizona, and it also feels weirder and smaller. Can you tell me whether or not that`s an appropriate impression or is there something else I should understand about it?
WIKLER: So I think you`re right that it`s weirder. It`s very much in keeping with Wisconsin in 2021. But it`s not smaller, because the difference between Wisconsin and the other states where Republicans are trying to Trump up these sham investigations is that Wisconsin has been the tipping point in the last two presidential elections.
And the other difference is that we do, as you said, have a Democratic governor, Tony Evers, who can actually veto Republican suppression bills. So this is about one thing. It`s less about trying to relitigate 2020 and more about having Trump steal 2024. If Republicans manage to try to build up this suspicion and if they win the governorship, they`ll pass voter suppression vote for 2024 which is why we`re obsessed in re-electing Tony Evers in 2022 so they can`t carry out this dastardly plot.
MADDOW: As they pursue this in the state assembly, it is remarkable. We don`t know. As far as we know, we can only discern the name and, therefore, the background of one of the officers who they have hired to do this investigation and so we don`t know who else is going to be involved. But if they follow the other guy`s lead, we have a sense what the character of this investigation is going to be like.
Does Governor Tony Evers have any say or any control over what happens with this investigation?
WIKLER: Well, last time Republicans used — they signed a million dollar contract to start getting ready to re-gerrymander the state and they lost in court. Progressives sued them and showed they weren`t actually allowed to do what they did. Republicans are thwarted at every turn in their attempts to dismantle our democracy because we have a Democratic governor. That`s why we were able to win here in 2020 because they weren`t able to shred voting rights going into this hard-fought election last time.
So while they`ll have their investigation, I`m sure they`ll come up with a bogus report like the ex-police officer did years and years ago. It won`t turn into a bill that`s signed into law if the governor has his veto pen, which he does. Governor Evers is our last line of defense in this fight. They are not convincing anyone outside of their hard core partisans.
The most important thing is to make sure they don`t get trifecta control of the state and legislate the way they have in Georgia, in Arizona, in Texas and Florida.
MADDOW: The one thing that we`ve seen also in Arizona is that this has become a huge fund raising juggernaut for Arizona Republicans. They are raising so much more money this year than they were this time last year.
There was a great report about it today just in “The Arizona Republic” that by creating the spectacle, whether or not they`re only appealing to their hard-core partisans, they have been able to attract Trump supporters money from all over the country that`s all going into the coffers of Republican activists and the Republican Party in the state as they make this into a cause celebre that may not have any direct manifestation in terms of the election results but will cast aspersions — create suspicions about the election result and build up their party and their ability to compete in the next elections.
WIKLER: It`s a grift for the GOP, but they`re turning it into political power. And the important thing is that if you believe in democracy, if you believe that everyone should have a say in determining self-government in our country, you`ve got to support the folks that are fighting for democracy.
In Wisconsin, that means going to withstems.org or going to tonyevers.com, chipping in. We`re hiring organizers right now. You can find the application page at our website to make sure that across the state, we`re talking to voters about the fact they do have voting rights. They can request absentee ballots. Republicans can`t shut that down, as much smoke as they like to kick up.
So we`ve got to get both feet on the gas pedal to drive forward and make sure our democracy actually works in 2022 so that it`s not gone in 2024.
MADDOW: Ben Wikler, Wisconsin Democratic Party chair — Ben, thank you for joining us. Really a pleasure to have you here.
WIKLER: Thanks so much.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So this was a weird thing. Last July, depths of the COVID crisis and the government mismanagement of it, the Trump administration randomly announced they were going to give a huge $765 million government loan to a private company, to ramp up American pharmaceutical manufacturing. And the company that was going to get this huge loan was Kodak. Kodak? The camera company? Really?
Why? Was it just alliteration? They`re like cameras. Kodak, COVID, close enough. I mean would that be any weirder than any of the other way they made decisions?
Super random announcement but there is Kodak last July announcing a huge, three-quarters of a billion dollars government loan last summer as if it was already signed, sealed, and delivered. Well, it turns out that loan to Kodak never actually materialized It never happened.
Kodak never did a big pivot to drugs. It never produced anything. What was going on there? What was that all about?
Well, we now know that the month before the announcement, Kodak`s CEO who knew that potential federal deal was in the works, he bought a ton of Kodak stock for himself nearly 50,000 shares. When that huge federal infusion of cash was announced, Kodak stock went from a little over $2 a share to a high of $60 a share.
So that proved to be a prescient stock purchase. In case it looked like some sort of funny business on, that seemed to be supported by actions later taken by the New York Attorney General Letitia James who is now aggressively pursuing a case against the company for having used the Trump administration`s terrible, disorganized, cronyism, catastrophic COVID response as an opportunity for what looks like blatant, illegal, inside trading.
Tish James` office is now seeking a court order to force the Kodak CEO and general counsel to testify publicly about the matter. Her office says Kodak`s statements to investors claiming the stock trades were in compliance with company insider trading policy, Tish James` office says now to the court those statements were false and misleading.
Kodak is denying this. They say Attorney General Tish James is wrong on the facts. Kodak and the Attorney General Tish James`s office are not just interpreting the same facts differently both groups are outright saying the other is lying. But this is the sort of thing that will have a resolution because it looks like it is going to be settled in a court of law.
Public testimony unwinding this one should be quite fun. Watch this space.
MADDOW: That is going to do for us for tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with the great Lawrence O`Donnell.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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