tv MSNBC Live With Stephanie Ruhle MSNBC February 22, 2021 6:00am-7:00am PST
easier with time and what you're giving up is so small in terms of what is possible on the other side of recovery. >> what's been really beautiful is watching madeleine's face as you've answered that question because your mother loves you very much. the new book is "you are always loved, a story of hope," congresswoman madeleine dean and harry cunnane, thank you very much for being on. congratulations on the book and all of your success after a long battle. that does it for us this morning. stephanie ruhle picks up the coverage right now. hi there, i'm stephanie ruhle live at msnbc headquarters here in new york city. it is monday, february 22nd and we have a lot to get to, so let's get smarter. in just 30 minutes from now we will watch as merrick garland, the man once denied a spot on the u.s. supreme court, finally gets his confirmation hearing to be the u.s. attorney general. we're going to bring that to you
live as soon as it begins. at the very same time we are keeping a close eye on what's happening down in texas. the deep freeze there is over but you have still got 8 million people without power, people lining up to get food and that's not all their problems. some texans are now getting hit with massive electric bills. this woman's monthly bill was over $6,000. i'll explain why that is happening in just a minute. and finally, a new and terrible milestone, the number of covid deaths in the united states of america has now surpassed half a million. a figure equivalent to the total population of kansas city, or miami, florida. the president and first lady will hold a ceremony this evening to honor and remember those who lost their lives. but there is good covid news out there. coronavirus numbers keep coming down across the nation, new cases have fallen, more than 40% over the last two weeks, hospitalizations and deaths are down at least 30%. i want to start this very busy week on capitol hill, where
garrett haake is, garrett, let's talk merrick garland. we have to remind people, he did not have the opportunity to sit on the supreme court, having nothing to do with who he is as a person, this was all about republicans blocking a final win for obama before he left office. given that, what kind of reception is he expected to get today? >> reporter: yeah, it's notable, back in 2016 judge garland didn't even get a hearing before the judiciary committee. he'll get one today and he'll likely get a much friendlier response today than he would have for that other job. garland's history as a federal prosecutor, as a federal judge here in d.c., makes him even in the estimation of many of the republicans on this panel, a very well qualified pick for this job. he's not expected to have a particularly difficult confirmation hearing today although me he might face some politically challenging questions like how he might handle investigations into anyone surrounding joe biden, the trump family or into the capitol assault, which is, of course, still top of mind for folks up here today and then the rest of the week looks a little
bit more complicated on the confirmation front for biden nominees with xavier becerra, and the nominee for the interior secretary. for merrick garland it's a straightforward process. it will be interesting to see if they make -- boosting their own political brand, the scene we start this week here in congress? all eyes will be on that hearing a few minutes from now, garrett, thank you. we have got to turn to the latest in garrett's home state of texas where, this morning, the deep freeze is finally over but recovery efforts have only just begun. one of the biggest problems now facing texans, sky high electric bills. why? some residents there are getting hit with bills that are thousands of dollars higher than what they normally pay. one texan telling "the new york times" he owes his electric
company nearly $17,000 when he normally pays about $200 a month. so what in the world is behind this surge? it's not just supply and demand. it is largely about the state's unregulated energy market. to win over customers providers there offer all kinds of incentives, like something known as wholesale pricing, in most states like here in new york electric prices are regulated. the state can't higher them very much but in wholesale pricing prices can fluctuate daily based on supply and demand. the wholesale option is normally cheaper, but when there was a massive freeze the power grid was on the verge of collapse, supply plummeted and wholesale prices skyrocketed. this prompted state lawmakers over the weekend to hold an emergency meeting, signing two new orders, one that prevents energy companies from cutting people's power supply off if they don't pay, and the other to stop companies from sending these massive electric bills until the state finds a solution. antonia hylton is in houston
where she's been talking to residents hit with these crazy bills. what's the situation? >> reporter: residents are in complete shock over the spike in prices. many of them thinking it's unbelievable to see after a week in which we saw so much human suffering. people say that they understood that they had variable deals, that the rates could change and prices go up and down but that they never imagined that they would see bills going into the thousands. i want you to meet one of these texans. her name is jolie am mons, and she is the customer of a houston-based provider called griddy, they gave ore a 13-minute advanced warning over email that prices were about to explode, not enough time to find a new provider and jump ship. take a listen to this conversation i had with her. >> you have an $1800 total for monday, and a $2,000 total for tuesday. i was just shocked. >> how will it affect you to have to pay that amount?
>> we don't have that kind of money lying around, even the credit card that electric account is attached to, there's not even enough available credit for that charge to go through. >> reporter: normally jolie's bills are around $130 to $200. she says that in the event that lawmakers don't find a way to permanently resolve this she's going to need some help get on a long-term repayment plan, stephanie. >> antonia, thank you. joining me now to explain all of this, dallas county judge clay jenkins. judge, for a new yorker like me this sounds crazy. our utilities, they're regulated. but texans decided years ago they want to privatize the market and make decisions for themselves and this is what you end up with. >> texans didn't decide that. electric companies and the governor decided that. and they set about a scheme that benefits large commercial users
with rock bottom prices who can hire people to watch the market constantly and hedge against risk but they didn't put in the necessary protections for regular small business and regular people. and so you have situations like this. you know, this is supposed to work like an adjustable rate mortgage on your house where there is a top end that they can charge you, but as you can see, because texans didn't put any regulations in place with the governor's team, griddy is able to charge people $10,000 and $20,000 to heat a small home. texans, cut off the automatic bill pay on the your credit cards for these exorbitant rates and don't pay them. >> is there any recourse, though, because the markets are privatized in texas there's always this risk so now if we're saying to people in texas, we're going to investigate this, you shouldn't have to pay your bill, who's going to pay the bill?
is the government going to pay these businesses? because it's going to be like winning the jackpot for them. >> well, first, we need an investigation to see if these businesses did everything within the specs of the law, and if not we get the customers out on that basis. the governor got us into this, he's going to need to get people out of it. it is fundamentally unfair for the government to set up a predatory pricing scheme, catch texans up in it, and then leave them holding the bag. in a week, by the way, where most of the people that are seeing these high bills went for days without any power or water. >> it is awful in every way. there's this idea out there, though, that deregulation is good for people. they can choose what they want. but regulation is protection. and now texans have been left unprotected. >> that's right. you need some regulation in a
commodity market like electricity. electricity is not the place where you want to allow gambling. most of these consumers didn't know they were gambling. just as when you buy an adjustable rate mortgage on your home you would be shocked if your mortgage bill went up 100 times more in a month, and they can't because there are regulations to stop that from happening. there weren't any consumer protections put in for people, for regular people. the system is built for the large commercial users. and so things like weatherizing the plant so that people would have power in extreme cold, or setting bands of which variable rates cannot go higher than. these were not thought up -- well, they were thought up because consumer activists asked for them but the governor's team
rejected it and here we are. >> what's the biggest challenge you see in dallas? >> well, twofold. we're trying to get water to people and the governor has cut our vaccine distributions in half and sent those to people in other parts of the state and so as we come back out of this we're trying to vaccinate our seniors where without the vaccine to do it. >> why would he cut the vaccines in half? right now we need all the help we can get on all fronts. >> well, that's a great question. the first time we heard from anyone on the governor's team was three days after our people had been without power and that was to tell them that -- tell us that despite the state getting a record number of vaccines this week, ours in dallas-fort worth would be cut in half and sent to other areas of the state. you know, i've got 80-year-olds, 75-year-olds who have been on a registry list since january
waiting for that first shot. this is the most vulnerable population and we have to got to get them vaccinated. if you want to see the texas economy recover, then you want to see as much vaccination as possible. >> we need shots in arms. we need water in homes, and we need affordable power. judge, thank you for joining me and stay safe where you are. >> thank you. >> i want share with you this heartbreaking and also heartwarming story out of texas. in the middle of the storm last week an h.e.b. grocery store near austin lost power as a wave of customers were desperately trying to check out. instead of figuring out how everyone could pay you know what the store did? they let everybody leave without paying. allowing customers struggling to survive the chance to stock up on vital supplies. one customer, tim hennessy wrote on facebook "this is the america i know," shoppers in the parking lot helping others with their
bags and coming together to push an elderly woman's car off of some ice. that is the america he knows and hopefully the one that will band together as texas tries to recover. we've also got some breaking news. boeing now officially suspending operations for more than 100 of its aircrafts after this happened on saturday. if you didn't see this image, look at it now. it is unbelievable. a passenger on a united flight departing the denver airport bound for honolulu captured the boeing 777 plane catching fire and the actual plane coming apart in mid-air. somehow no one was hurt on the plane or on the ground as debris rained down on a denver suburb. federal officials say united is the only american airline that uses this particular kind of jet with the pratt and whitney engines, look at those images, that is in somebody's front yard. still ahead, we're watching capitol hill as we are just minutes away from the confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee, a name
people know very, very well, merrick garland. but up next, back to the devastating covid-19 milestone, 500,000 americans dead. but here's the most important question. is the worst behind us? certainly hope so. for as littl. but it gets crazier. bring a friend every month and get every month for $5. boom! 12 months of $5 wireless. visible, wireless that gets better with friends. needles.
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million deaths on sunday, that is like losing everyone in the city of atlanta and it is more deaths than world war i, world war ii and the vietnam war combined. but please do not get numb to these numbers. remember, all of these people were our friends, families and our co-workers. i want to bring in dr. zeke emmanuel, the vice provost for global initiatives at the university of pennsylvania. he also served on the covid advisory board for the biden-harris transition team. last spring around this time we saw predictions of a death toll around 250,000. we thought it was massive. we thought it was extreme. now we're hitting 500,000. was this high a death toll inevitable? >> oh, absolutely not. it was not inevitable. a lot of this is a result of the way we responded to it and the lack of a coordinated response during the trump administration, the inability of states and the government officials to understand the magnitude of the
problem. and institute the right protections. remember, the cdc delayed issuing a mask suggestion and order. we had keeping restaurants and indoor dining open. not fully putting in place other safety measures. and i think, you know, when you compare the united states to other countries we did much worse. we have 4% of the world's population, and 20% of all the covid deaths and that tells you a lot. >> well, there's a new study that has a lot of people very excited about what's ahead. there's a study from israel showing that the vaccine can stop sickness and the spread of the disease. how much of a game changer is that? >> well, that's wonderful. i mean, it's absolutely fantastic news. and i think it relieves us, and it also suggested that one shot does -- is pretty effective. here is the worry in the face of that, which is the new variants
and the spread of the new variants. remember, we don't have that big a proportion of the population vaccinated even in the best states, west virginia and alaska, it's under 20% of the population vaccinated. israel has more than half of its population vaccinated. it's a very different situation. so if those variants spread, which many of us are worried about and the cdc suggested it's going to become the dominant -- that the british strain will become dominant in march that's more infectious and deadly. those are characteristics that are worrisome. the decline we're seeing is really, really wonderful. on the other hand, you know, it could go up and many of us are worried that it could go up because of this new variant, because we're sort of easing up. and those are, you know, worrisome signs. >> well, former fda commissioner scott gottlieb says that when he
looks at those falling numbers he takes that as a huge positive and the worst is most likely behind us. do you agree with that? >> i think that may be a little too optimistic. at every turn this virus has gotten the better of us. we keep thinking, wow, the lull -- in june we thought the lull was here and then we saw the explosion because of summer vacation, the fall, thanksgiving, christmas. so i'm probably a little more cautious. i think in general we hope that the worst is behind us but we can't plan that the worst is behind us. we have to plan for problems and i think that's a much better strategy going forward. we kept hearing all these rosy predictions in the spring. i have to say i was not among those making rosy predictions and i think, you know, it may turn out to be the case that
scott is right. he's a very smart person. i have a lot of respect for him but i'm not so sanguine at this moment. >> dr. zeke emmanuel, thank you so much for joining us this morning, you always make us smarter. as the u.s. hits 500,000 coronavirus deaths there's a lot of focus in washington on the next relief bill. the house budget committee will take up the $1.9 trillion bill today with a full house vote expected by the end of the week. meanwhile the biden administration is taking on the paycheck protection program. today the president is expected to announce new restrictions in an effort to make the program more equitable. what are some of the new rules? for two weeks only businesses with fewer than 20 employees can apply for loans. the administration will also lift current restrictions that bar people with student debt from applying for a loan. remember, when we first saw this program last summer you saw very big businesses making their way to the front and there was no money left for the smallest
ones. the biden team is trying to reverse the order. coming up next, we are just minutes away from the start of the confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee merrick garland. a former clerk for george garland joins me on how a man who prosecuted the oklahoma city bombers might handle the current rise in domestic threats. ♪ hey now, you're an all-star, get your game on, go play ♪ ♪ hey now, you're a rock star, get the show on, get paid ♪ ♪ and all that glitters is gold ♪
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from endpoints to everywhere. we are just a few minutes away from the start of the senate confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee merrick garland, my next guest knows him very well. tali winestein, she clerked for supreme court justice sandra day o'connor and is currently running for manhattan district attorney. tali, you know this manuel, tell us about him. >> thank you, stephanie. you know, it's funny, he was so good at being a judge, and a judge is minimalist. he's modest, he doesn't show his personality. after two decades i think that we all started to think as a country that that is all of who he is. but the judge garland that i
know is fierce, he is relentless, he's strategic, he's a fighter, this is the person that we also saw as a country prosecuting the oklahoma city bombings. i think that that's who we're going to see as attorney general. >> given that, given that he spent years prosecuting the oklahoma city bombing and where we are as a country in terms of domestic terrorism how important is that experience, how will that serve him now? >> oh, i think that it is -- really has become a part of the bedrock of who he is and it's why he would have been -- look, he would have been an excellent choice at any moment but it's why he is the man to meet this moment. as you said, think about the last time white supremacists sought to topple our federal government through a spectacular act of a violence, the most deadly act of domestic violence to date it was him, judge garland who jumped on a plane on behalf of the department of justice and moved to oklahoma
city and demonstrated that we can use the law, we can use our institutions for accountability and justice. and of course he's going to have to turn to another act of white supremacy, violent crime that sought to topple our federal government, the events of january 6th. and he is immediately going to know how to tackle that. >> any thoughts on whether or not or how he would pursue anything against former president trump, whether we're talking about the insurrection, or personal business matters? that is certainly going to be a top question for democrats. >> you know, i thought it was interesting that in the opening statements that he's about to give he made sure to remind the country that when he was a senior official at the department of justice that's when they set forth some of the rules that govern the separation of law and politics. and i have no doubt that judge garland, who helped shape those rules is going to abide by those rules. >> think back to what we saw in the last four years, whether it
was president trump with bill barr, with jeff sessions, former president trump repeatedly blurred the lines between the white house and the justice department. can merrick garland fix what trump broke? >> i think he absolutely can and he has a basis, remember, it's not like they were operating without guidance, without protocols, without rules. they -- those institutions were there, judge garland was among the small group of officials who helped bring them to life. and i think he is going to be able to revert and he's going to have the legion of civil servants who work at the justice department behind him. >> in his opening statement he's going to talk about equal justice for minorities but he doesn't have much of a record in that space, neither good nor bad. what should we know about him? >> well, you know, i think that the experience that he has had taking on white supremacy really
is the same kind of value that he's going to put out into the world. he understood that -- what a threat that was and how, you know, these values really can be brought back to life and constantly perfected. you know, he always said to us the core of who we are is that we treat like cases alike. that's really who he is. >> tali, we have to leave it there. i can just hear from my producer they are gaveling in so we absolutely want to watch these opening statements. we're going to turn now to dick durbin. >> i though this return trip has been a long time in planning and you're here finally. this will be the judiciary committee's first hearing of the 117th congress. before i turn to my opening remarks i'd like to just take a few minutes to make some acknowledgments. i want to welcome my friend senator chuck grassley as the committee's ranking member. when i first came on the senate
judiciary committee 24 years ago i was a ranking committee on a subcommittee with you and we dealt with the issue of bankruptcy. illinois and iowa sit next of each other and so do durbin and grassley. we have our differences but senator grassley and i have worked together on important legislation over the years, most recently on criminal justice and sentencing reform. i look forward to continuing that work in this congress. i want to
recognize the outgoing chair and ranking member. senator lindsey graham, who will join us remotely this morning, and senator dianne feinstein. senator graham, as is true of senator grassley, while we don't always agree, has always been a wok partner on many issues, including one of the most challenging issues, immigration. senator feinstein, i want to commend for leading the committee democrats with grace and resolve over the past four years. i know she will continue to be an important voice on this committee on a host of issues, including in her new capacity as
the chair of the human rights and law subcommittee which i was proud to chair in past congresses. i also want to welcome our new committee members who will either be here in person. i see one in person and one probably remote. senators padilla and ossoff on the democratic side, senator cotton on the republican side.
i look forward to working with each of you. there are some historic firsts in the judiciary committee, senator padilla will be chairing the subcommittee on immigration, citizenship, border safety. i'm honored he's the first la -- senator cory booker will chair, the first black senator to chair a subcommittee. to all of of our other members returning to serve on the committee welcome back. i want to thank all the
committee members for agreeing to hold this committee hearing and vote on judge garland's nomination. it is a great honor to serve on this committee. the senate established the judiciary committee by resolution on december 10th, 1816, making it among the very first standing committees of the senate. this committee has seen many consequential debates and approved many important nominations and landmark legislation. in the committee's history there has only been one prior illinois senator to serve as chair, judge garland, limon trumble who led the committee from 1861 to 1872 and during his term of service, was a democrat, a republican, a radical republican, and a democrat again. he was the most bipartisan senator you can imagine. his tenure was established by passage of historic legislation, 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the constitution. the friedman's bureau acts of
1865 and 1866, the civil rights act of 1866. the last of these was introduced by trumble and ultimately became the nation's first civil rights law. as the nation wiz torn apart by original sin, slavery and widespread violence and injust that continued even after the 13th amendment's passage as african-americans throughout the nation faced racism. our nation is still dealing with the consequences of these injustices. people of color face systemic racism, and we are still working to rid this nation of the horrific legacy of slavery and jim crow. this committee can make a difference. we have the jurisdiction and the opportunity to do it through legislation, oversight and nominations. including this nomination of merrick garland to serve as our nation's next attorney general. there have been few moments in history where the role of attorney general and the occupant of that post have mattered more. judge garland, should you be confirmed, and i have every
confidence you will be, you'll oversee a justice department at an existential moment. after four tumultuous years of intrigue, controversy and brute political force the future of the department is clearly in the hands of the next attorney general. under attorney general sessions and the successor bill barr the justice department literally became an arm of the white house, committed to advancing the interests of president trump, his family and his political allies. it came as little surprise then that the u.s. department of justice became the trump department of justice. general barr stated clearly that he believed the attorney general was the president's lawyer, not the nation's. and what were the results? too many in the department's senior roles cast aside the rule of law. trump appointees in the department sidelined career public servants from attorneys to fbi agents, limited their roles, disregarded their nonpartisan input, overriding their professional judgment and
falsely accusing them of being members of the deep state and the department pursued policies of almost unimaginable proportions. from separating thousands, thousands of innocent migrant children from their parents, to banning innocent muslims from traveling to our shores, from defending and even ardoring violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters to parroting baseless lies about voter fraud. the misdeeds of the trump justice department brought this nation to the brink. in fact, as we learned after president biden's inauguration, a senior official in the trump justice department jeffrey clark plotted with president trump for one final stab at the results of the 2020 election. they were thwarted at the last minute by justice department attorneys who threatened to resign en masse rather than join their effort. so judge garland, it's no
overstatement to say that your nomination is one of the most critical in department history. when i reflect on it i'm reminded of two previous attorneys general, one a democrat, the other a republican, robert kennedy, edward levy. kennedy entered office at a time of political turmoil. the nation started down a path towards civil rights, equal rights and equal rights under law were still an aspiration for too many people of color in the united states. in june 1863 several years into his tenure as a.g. kennedy testified before the house judiciary committee. he said "the demonstrations of the past few months have only served to point up what thinking americans have known for years, that this country can no longer abide the moral outrage of racial discrimination." . he continued, "if we fail to act
wisely the ugly forces of violence will surely rise and multiply throughout the land." the moral outrage of racial discrimination remains with us today as do the forces of disorder and violence. and tragically the justice department and the previous administration fanned the flames of discrimination but a restored justice department, a department under new leadership, can and i believe will meet the moment. there are great challenges ahead, the right to vote is under constant assault by those who wish to suppress the voices of communities of color. we have a criminal justice system still in urgent need of reform. and too many americans, whether because of race, national origin, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity face inequality in their daily lives. it is time for the department of justice to confront these realities that unfortunately continue to threaten, as robert
kennedy said, the very premise of american democracy. judge garland, when i think of what you face in restoring integrity and independence to the justice department i also think of another one of your predecessors and fellow chicagoan edward levy who likewise assumed office at a time of turmoil. he was president of the university of chicago before his nomination to serve as attorney general for president ford. and when he came before this committee for his confirmation in 1975 he was asked about removing the justice department from the ambet of partisan politics. this is what he said. "i do not believe that the administration of justice should be a partisan a matter in any sense but i do not think the cases should be brought to reward people or to punish them for partisan reasons." . he continues, "i think it would be a bad thing to believe the administration of justice was not even handed because it was
in some ways tilted by partisan politics." why was this question asked? why was levy's response so important? two years earlier president nixon attempted to use the justice department as his -- the special prosecutor overseeing watergate. richardson refused to fire cox. each of them were fired in what became known as the saturday night massacre. richardson and rocklehouse refused to act in a way contrary to the rule of law. they refused to put partisan politics in the personal interest of president nixon above fidelity to the constitution and the principle of equal justice for all, even those who occupy the white house. in the wake of nixon's action the justice department faced a reckoning with the department's legacy still tarnished, public confidence shaken. preponderate gerald ford turned to levy to restore honor,
integrity and independence. well, judge garland, the nation now looks to you to do the same. the public's faith in the department of justice has been shaken, the result of department leadership consumed with advancing personal and political interests. in fact, had it not been for several justice department attorneys i mentioned earlier, threatening to resign this january, president trump might have gone even further than he did to overturn the election results and that raises critical questions this committee and you must reckon with. judge garland, we're confident we can rebuild the department, it's one hallowed halls, that you can restore the faith of the american people in delivers justice. i want to close by -- overturn the 2020 presidential election. you probably noticed when you came to capitol hill how it's changed. you lived most of your life, and i've lived a large part of mine coming to this capitol hill to visit, to work, really to honor
the traditions of these buildings. we now have established a perimeter around this building. it stretches for blocks in every direction, and a ten foot high fence that walls off this capitol building from the rest of america. at the top of the fence, barbed wire. inside the fence, we have not only our loyal police force, but men and women of the national guard from all over the united states, thousands of them still standing guard over this building. what a commentary on the current state of america that we face today. but it's needed. we were here on january 6th. we lived through it. we were lucky, for most of us, we were not in direct contact with the mob. others were. and sadly paid a heavy price for it. for months president trump spread falsehoods about the election and fraudulent voting and before a single vote had been cast he claimed that he
could only lose as a result of fraud. far too many americans gave credence to these unproven dangerous claims. we know the result. we saw in the attempt to subvert democracy culminating in the events of january 6th when this armed mob stormed the capitol, sought to disrupt the counting of electoral college votes, violently targeted congress, our colleagues in the house, our families, even the vice president, staff, ultimately causing the senseless thefts of capitol police officer brian sicknick and d.c. police officer jeffrey smith. when you're confirmed judge garland you along with the rest of the nation will continue to grapple with the january 6th attacks. but you'll be in a unique position with a unique responsibility. as the nation's chief law enforcement officer you'll be tasked with the solemn duty to responsibly investigate the events of that day, to prosecute all of the individuals responsible and to prevent future attacks driven by hate,
inflammatory words and bizarre conspiracy theories. you know what it's like. you've been there before. you've seen domestic terrorism. you led the investigation, prosecution of the olympic -- of the oklahoma city bombing. and in doing so made the nation safer, and brought some measure of peace and healing to the victims and their families. i'm confident that given this prior experience you're up to the task the department now faces in the wake of january 6th. in fact, i can think of few people better suited to do it. i look forward to hearing your testimony, but at this point i will turn to my colleague senator grassley. >> thank you, senator durbin. welcome to judge garland. glad that you've been honored with this appointment to be attorney general of the united states. welcome the public at large, most of them very remote, not the large crowds we normally have when we have an attorney
general nominee before this committee. i have a longer statement that i'll put in the record, and i've still got plenty to say even this morning. i, of course, congratulate senator durbin on his new role as chairman. he has already referred to he and i getting acquainted on the administrative oversight subcommittee, and working on what now is badly needed law when agriculture's in bad shape by passing chapter 12 agricultural bankruptcy legislation, and i look forward to working with you in the future here. and i also want to express my admiration for senator feinstein, the previous democrat leader of this committee. she and i have worked closely together during the years that -- i promise we will dip back into that in a moment. but we've got other breaking news out of washington, d.c.
the u.s. supreme court declining to block a new york grand jury from getting president trump's personal and corporate tax returns. pete williams has the latest. pete, explain this. former president trump's team has been trying to prevent this grand jury from seeing his taxes. and the supreme court said sorry, charlie, not going to happen? >> exactly right. you may remember earlier this year the court said the president wasn't immune from the grand jury's investigative powers so he went back to court a second time arguing, okay, well in this case i'm saying the subpoena is overbroad and today the supreme court said it would not hear his appeal of two lower court decisions that rejected that. so two things about this. number one, obviously bad news for the president who has fought tooth and nail to keep these tax returns away from the prosecutor led by cy vance. it doesn't mean the tax returns will become public anytime soon, they may never become public
unless vance uses them as evidence and brings charges. it's bad news for the president. his accountants now must turn over eight years of tax documents to this grand jury that's investigating the hush money payments and other aspects of the trump organization's finances. in response to the supreme court's order today by the way it was a brief unsigned order, just one line, cy vance said simply the work continues. and by the way, we've been waiting for the supreme court to decide what to do here since last october. that's when the trump emergency appeal was filed to the supreme court. and my guess was the court didn't want to get involved during the election campaign and then didn't want to get involved in all the legal controversy after the election and then didn't want to get involved in the impeachment issue but now that the coast is clear the supreme court's order has come out, a brief one-line order saying, simply, it was referred to the circuit justice steven brieer and denied. >> what's the timing if cy vance
says the work continues when will that grand jury see those taxes? >> almost immediately. the accountants -- this is it, this is the end of the road for the president's lawyers to appeal here. the accountants for the president have always said they'll abide by whatever the courts say, and this has all been set to go, sort of in the starting blocks, even though vance's team had won in the lower courts. vance agreed to hold off on any demand for these documents until the supreme court has handled this case. you can bet that that is all ready to go, all they have to do is turn the key. those demands will go to the accountants, the accountants are ready to turn it over, so i suspect this will be a matter of days. >> so they're going to see it immediately. can you give us more insight into what that means after that? >> well, the grand jury is going to have to decide whether these two new puzzle parts, if you will, these -- they'll look at his taxes from the accountants,
add to their knowledge of the trump administration and whether that constitutes a crime and vance will have to decide whether to bring charges or not but we know this grand jury has continued to work. they've brought in new forensic accountants. the topics they're looking at seems to be growing as well. they've said very little because of grand jury secrecy. but it's expanded beyond simply is it tamts. the genesis of all this was michael cohen's testimony before the senate that the president wasn't truthful in stating his assets, that sometimes he would overstate them when he was trying to get loans and sometimes he would understate them when he was trying to avoid taxes. that's sort of what got this started and then the hush money payments as well, but it's gone beyond that, it's gone beyond those payments. it's gone beyond that treatment. it's looking at a much broader look at the trump administration. >> and as a reminder the president's former fixer michael cohen was interviewed again last
week. pete, thank you. i want to bring back with us the perfect person to react to this, tali weinstein with us. what do you think of this? can you explain what the supreme court decision means for the investigation? >> sure. stephanie, so i think that what the supreme court did today was widely expected, although somewhat mysterious what took them so long. the president, president trump, had made one last ditch attempt not to have to produce the documents that had been subpoenaed from him and his arguments really depended on him occupying the office of the presidency, which obviously he no longer does. so this means that years into it vance is now going to get the documents that he originally sought and which in his court filings he had said were part of an investigation into protracted criminal conduct.
>> from a public opinion standpoint obviously people across this country would love to see those taxes, but as it relates to this case, and i know you don't have intimate details, how important are they? >> well, you know, it is important to say, stephanie, that we don't know because of grand jury secrecy what it is exactly that the manhattan da's office is looking for and looking at, but it certainly seems that this is an important trove of documents in order to be able to -- just because of the things that they themselves have been saying about the kind of criminal conduct that they are pursuing, they've signaled they might be looking at tax fraud, they might be looking at insurance fraud, they might be looking at other kinds of financial fraud. >> tali, stay with us. i want to broaden this conversation and bring in ari melber, also, obviously, the host of "the beat" here at 6:00 p.m. eastern right here every night of the week. ari, how big of a deal is this?
>> i think it's significant because you basically have someone who has been running from any accountability for their taxes their entire public life and career. you have this problem from when donald trump was a candidate and claimed he would release it, then he was president, then we saw the truth was that he was going to keep fighting this. he's been fighting it the whole time. this is a huge loss to him. only donald trump knows why he's so worried about even a private grand jury review of his taxes. so it's significant that he has lost in what looks to me like a complete and total legal way as pete williams was reporting. this is the end of the line of donald trump trying to keep these taxes secret from investigators. >> then even if we can't see his taxes based on this ruling, does this ruling, ari, get us any closer to a scenario where we could? because i can tell you i really want to see them. >> you want to see them. a lot of people are interested in them. i think we all know put the law
aside for a second, secrecy tends to get people more interested in things. so, yes, i think there is a mechanism here -- let me say it like this, no, we won't see them soon because that's not what the ruling is about, but, yes, it would be possible that if in fairness to donald trump or anyone we can't presuppose what's in them, but if the investigators found they did provide evidence of crimes or other activity that had to be pursued in court, then they could in other ways become part of evidence. so we could learn something about them even if we didn't see them released, you know, posted online. >> tali, what could this mean for other pending trump cases? we know a lot is being investigated right now. >> right. so unfortunately, stephanie, we don't really know, right? we know that this is where the manhattan da's office wanted to start, that this was the first group of documents that they
wanted to review and it seems obvious why that would be true, but as ari said, we don't really -- we don't -- we are not going to see what is in there and what could really follow from it unless there are indictments or guilty pleas and we wind up getting into court. >> ari, the president was able to call in a lot of favors, certainly not with the supreme court, he was disappointed with what they had done, especially as it relates to election fraud, but does the president have any more allies that he could turn to whether it's in this or something similar? we doesn't want any of these proceedings to happen. >> no, i think we're still at the front end of donald trump's post-presidency. litigation is slow. this entire case, this breaking news today, people waking up and going, oh, wait, oh, he's got a tax problem still, what is that from? it's from a case that's been going now for some time,
obviously began when he was president. i think to your question, stephanie, there are other problems that he may have in court that will be post-presidential, that will be even potentially more difficult. this took a long time and was initially litigated under his full powers as president, which, by the way, do have closer calls for anyone who is a current occupant of the office. when you look at the ongoing investigation in georgia, which stems from the same thing that he was put on trial for in the senate, the larger plot to steal the election and what leverage he did or didn't pull on that, and other business questions, none of those things will have any favors called in or have any benefit of being president because he will be an ex-president throughout the pendency of that litigation. so i think in a way what we're looking at is the beginning of the beginning for donald trump's legal problems as an ex-president. >> tali, does any of this impact any of merrick garland's confirmation hearing? i asked you earlier, there are definitely democrats who are going to be trying to get an
understanding of his willingness to pursue legal action against donald trump. does this ruling impact that? >> no, i think it's important to say, stephanie, that this ruling is about holding trump accountable for criminal acts that he may have committed before he became president against the people of new york. right? violations of new york state law. and i think it's an entirely different question whether and how the justice department may hold him to account either for what he might have done during the course of the presidency or in connection with january 6th. >> we are about to have a busy day in washington. tali weinstein, ari melber, ari, you can stretch, you can have a gatorade but i'm pretty sure you're going to need to strap in, you are not going anywhere for the rest of the day. that wraps up this hour. i'm stephanie ruhle. thank you for watching. my friend and colleague hallie jackson picks up breaking news coverage on the other side of the break. don't go anywhere. it's going to be a hot day on msnbc. go anywhere. it's going to be a hot day on msnbc.
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