tv Democracy Now LINKTV December 15, 2020 4:00pm-5:01pm PST
12/15/20 12/15/20 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york, this is democracy now! of america,oul democracy prevails. we the people voted. faith in our institutions held. the integrity of our elections remains intact. amy: as the electoral college formally votes to make joe biden the 46th president of the united states, we will look at a growing movement to elect the president through a national popular vote.
>> t problem we have with the electoral college is not the extence of the electoral college. it is the state winner take all laws that give all of a state's electors to the candidate who gets a fair plurality of the vote inside that particular state. amy: then as the u.s. covid-19 death toll tops 300,000, cases are spiking again inside prisons across the country. >> we can't be operating on alternative facts when it comes to these buildings. we can't have one set of rules for restaurants, gyms, nail another for, and prisons. amy: but first, attorney general william barr has resigned just weeks after angering president trump by saying he had found no evidence of widespread voter
fraud in the 2020 election. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the quarantine report. i'm amy goodman. the u.s. death toll from covid-19 topped 300,000 monday, as the first americans were vaccinated outside of a clinical setting. in queens, new york, the former epicenter of the pandemic, intensive care unit director, critical care nurse sandra lindsay was first in line for an injection of pfizer-biontech's conavirus vaccine. dr. michelle chester administered the inoculation. both women are african american. lindsay said afterwards she hoped to set an example for other african americans who might be skeptical of the vaccine, based on the u.s.'s sordid history of medical experimentation on black people.
>> it was an emotional experience. working on the front lines alongside my team, i saw a lot death., hurt, suffering, so i felt a huge sense of relief after i got the vaccine. i was not nervous. as i have mentioned before, i trust the science. i had no hesitation when i was asked if i would take the vaccine. amy: the first injections came as the united states recorded over 200,000 new cases and nearly 1700 deaths monday. in california, intensive care units across the state are at or near capacity, with no icu beds available across much of the san joaquin valley. los angeles has shattered records for new covid-19 cases in recent days. public health experts warn the worst could be yet to come, with models predicting an average of more than 3000 daily deaths
across the u.s. in the coming weeks. in international news, the czech republic and the netherlands have announced tough new lockdo measus over the holidays as covid cases continue to rise. italy's leaders are reportedly considering a nationwide lockdown from christmas eve until january 2. mexico has approved emergency use of the pfizer coronavirus vaccine monday, with plans to inoculate 125,000 people by the end of the month. mexico has recorded more than one-and-a-quarter million covid-19 cases and more than 114,000 deaths. in brazil, critics of jair bolsonaro are accusing the far-right president of lethal incompetence after his administration failed to prepare for a mass vaccination program. bolsonaro, who has called covid-19 a "little flu" and has used homophobic slurs to mock face masks, shunned pfizer's offer to sell its vaccine to brazil and has put all his hopes
on the oxford/astrazeneca vaccine. bolsonaro also rejected china's sinovac vaccine, which has been promoted by são paulo's governor, who is seen as a likely challenger to bolsonaro's reelection campaign in 2022. president-elect joe biden officially won the electoral college monday as electors met in their respective state capitals to formalize his victory, even as president trump continued to claim without evidence he was the victim of a massive conspiracy to rig the election. in lansing, michigan, authorities closed the state capitol and surrounding buildings after receiving credible threats of violence. michigan republican lawmakers
sanctioned gop state representative gary eisen after he suggested he was part of a group seeking to disrupt the electoral college vote and refused to rule out the possibility of violence. in arizona, electoral college members met in a secret location after 11 democratic electors received threats.
wisconsin's electoral college members were told to enter the state capitol through an unmarked side door amid similar threats of violence. wisconsin republicans refused to accept biden's victory and met separately at the state capitol to select what they called an alternate slate of electors casting votes for trump. in delaware, president-elect joe biden called a republicaeffort overturn the election results by 17 state attorneys general, and backed by 126 republican congressmembers, a "unprecedented assault on our democracy." mr. biden: in america, politicians don't take power. them.
thent power to flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. we now know nothing, not even a pandemic or abuse of power, can extinguish that flame. amy: biden's speech came as several top republican senators publicly accepted trump's loss
for the first time. michigan congressmember paul mitchell said monday he's leaving the republican party after becoming disgusted with president trump's attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. he spoke with cnn. stand upart hast to for democracy first compare constitution first come and not litical consideration, not simply for all political power. i have had enough. amy: president trump announced monday that william barr will resign as attorney general, tweeting that deputy attorney general jeff rosen would assume the role just before christmas. trump made the announcement just minutes after joe biden formally secured his victory in the electoral college. barr was a staunch supporter of trump's far-right agenda, but fell out of favor with the president in recent days after he announced the justice department found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
the american civil liberties union tweeted -- "bill barr was one of the worst attorneys general in u.s. history. he deployed the justice department not to promote justice -- but to serve donald trump." we'll have more on william barr's departure later in the broadcast with legal director of the aclu david cole. on capitol hill, a bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled a $908 billion coronavirus relief package monday, as unemployment benefits for millions of u.s. workers are set to expire the day after christmas. one part of the legislation would provide about $750 billion for schools, vaccine distribution, and the paycheck protection program supporting small businesses. it would also boost unemployment benefi by $300 p week -- half of the $600 a week increase in benefits that republicans allowed to expire over the summer. a second bill would provide $160
billion in aid for hard-hit state and local governments, while retroactively shielding corporations from liability if their workers or customers become infected with coronavirus. even if congress passes a coronavirus relief bill, economists warn some 12 million unemployed workers cou see a lapse in benefits for several weeks after christmas. this comes as republican senator josh hawley and vermont independent bernie sanders are demanding a vote on their proposal to provide $1200 relief checks to working class adults with an additional $500 per child. in saudi arabia, an oil tanker anchored in the port of jeddah was hit by a boat filled with explosives on monday. cbs reports it was the fourth assault targeting saudi energy infrastructure in a month. no one has taken responsibility for the attack. last month, houthi rebels in yemen took credit for firing a missile at a saudi aramco oil company distribution station in jeddah. this comes as the trump administration is considering
designating the houthis as a terrorist organization despite concerns the move could worsen the humanitarian crisis in yemen by hindering the work of aid groups. the united state has removed sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. the move is seen as part of a deal thasaw sudan and israel agree to establish formal bilateral ties in october. in 1993, the clinton administration placed sudan on the list for hosting osama bin laden in khartoum. the move had essentially cut off sudan from the international finance system for nearly three decades. the trump administration has issued sanctions on a turkish defense agency and four officials for turkey's purchase of a russian-made missile defense system in 2017. the move came just days after the u.s. congress passed a military spending bill that would have required the sanctions be imposed against turkey, a nato ally. last week the european union agreed to sanction turkey for drilling for gas in areas of the mediterranean claimed by cyprus.
in nigeria, boko haram has claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping of war than 300 students from a boarding school. more than 100 gunmen rated the role all boys school saturday, sending hundreds of students fleeing into the surrounding forest. an audiotape of leader claims the raid was meant to discourage western education in jury of. a new investigation into the poisoning of russian opposition figure alexei navalny claims a team of intelligence agents with russia's federal secuty service or fsb were involved in the act. some of the agents specialized in toxins and nerve agents. they had reportedly been trailing navalny for three years prior to his poisoning in august with the nerve agent novichok. navalny is still recovering in berlin. the probe was conducted by journalists at a number of outlets, including cnn and der spiegel, as well as the online investigativwebsite bellingcat. officials with the trump administration are acknowledging
the email systems of the pentagon, state department, and the department of homeland security were all compromised in a major cyberattack that also targeted the treasury and commerce department, as well as nuclear laboratories and some fortune 500 companies. the national security council held an emergency meeting monday to discuss what has been described as the biggest breach of u.s. government data in years. the hackers allegedly inserted malicious software into any .pdate for network management 300,000 customers worldwide. the trump administration has not identified who was behind the attack, but multiple news agencies suggest it was the work of hacking groups backed by the russian government. the news comes at a time when the government's cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency is without a director. president trump fired the agency's director chris krebs in november for claiming the election was the "most secure in american history." and maryland's longest-serving female prisoner was ordered
released monday. eraina pretty has been locked up for 42 years. she contracted covid-19 earlier this year. the 61-year-old woman entered prison as an 18-year-old after she was convicted of being an accomplice in two murders. in 2015, she spoke to abc news. 2003, i wrote the governor. i asked him for lethal injection. >> you asked? >> yes, because of the victims family and everybody, i wanted them to know i was sorry for the crime that i had committed. amy: we will have more on the pandemic and prisons later in the broadcast. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the quarantine report. i'm amy goodman in new york joined by my co-host juan gonzález in new brunswick, new jersey. hi, juan.
juan: hi, amy. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. amy: minutes after the electoral college confirmed president trump's loss to president-elect joe biden, president trump announced via tweet on monday that attorney general william barr was resigning. he wrote in part -- "our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job! as per letter, bill will be leaving just before christmas to spend the holidays with his family." trump tweeted that deputy attorney general jeff rosen will take barr's place. barr announced he was stepping down in a resignation letter released shortly after he briefed trump about the justice department's review into voter fraud claims in the 2020 election. he wrote in the letter that allegations of fraud continue to be pursued. earlier this month, barr told the associated press -- "to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election." news of barr's departure comes
after it was reported that he knew earlier this year about an investigation into the president-elect joe biden's son, hunter, and his tax affairs. this prompted trump to last out at barr on twitter over the weekend, calling him "a big disappointment!" but barr has been one of donald trump's staunchest allies. this summer, "the washington post" reported that barr personally ordered police to beat and tear gas peaceful protesters who gathered near the white house in order to clear a path for president donald trump to walk to the nearby st. john's episcopal church, where trump posed for photos holding a bible. barr denied using tear gas during an interview on cbs's "face the nation." wasnd then method they used appropriate? >> when they met resistance, yes. they announced three times. they didot move. by the way, there was no tear gas use. the tear gas was used sunday when they had to clear the
street to come to the st. john's church. that is when tear gas used. >> their chemical irritants. >> no, pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. it is not chemical. pepper balls. amy: attorney general william barr also defended the administration's actions by blaming the antifascist movement known as antifa for instigating violence during the protest instead of police. >> we have evidence that antifa and other similar extremist groups, as well as actors of a variety of different political persuasions, had been involved in instigating and participating in the violent activity. "nation magazine" has reported that an internal fbi document shows the agency had "no intelligence indicating antifa involvement/presence" at the protests, though it did cite the presence of "far-right provocateurs." it was just this past july when attorney general barr faced
questions from the house judiciary committee in a confrontational hearing that included this contentious exchange with washington congressmember pramila jayapal, who noted the discrepancy between barr's deploymentf militarized troops in response to black lives matter protesters and armed militia members who displayed white nationalist symbols as they stormed state capitol buildings in protest of public health measures. >> one two separate occasions after president trump tweeted "liberate michigan" to subvert stay home orders to protect the public health of people in michigan, protesters swarmed the michigan capital carrying guns. some with swastikas, confederate flags, and one even with a dark haired doll with a noose around its neck. are you where the adjuster's call for the governor to be lynched, shot, and beheaded? >> no.
>> there is a real discrepancy in how you react as the top cop in this country when white men with swastikas storm a government building with guns, there is no need for the president to "activate you" because they're getting the president's personal agenda done. but when black people and peop of color protest police brutality, systemic racism, and the president's very own lack of response to those critical issues, then you forcibly remove them with armed federal officers , pepper bombs, because they are considered terrorists by the president? amy: for more on the tenure of william barr, we're joined by david cole, the national legal director of the american civil liberties union, professor of law and public policy at georgetown university law center. his most recent book, "engines of liberty: the power of citizen activists to make constitutional
law." last night tweeted "bill barr was one of the worst attorneys general in history. he deployed the justice department not to promote justice but to serve donald trump. david, explain. and respond to his resignation, few weeks over he was about to be doing because joe biden won the election anyway and to become the 46th president. >> and some since it is déjà vu all er again. jeff sessions, the first attorney general under president trump, the right-hand m for donald trump on every iss exceptne. or'st was his refusal decision to recuseimself from the investigation to russian interference on the election. and that one sin caused trump to basically push sessions out.
comes in andarr again is entirely presiden trump's right-hand man, doing his bidding rather than providing an independent justice department, which is what our constitutional norms and traditions require, but when he will not repeat president trump's lies about widespread voter fraud and when he did not illegally disclose the existence of an investigation into hunter biden before the election in order to undermine the election, trump again sort of right some off and throws him overboard. loyal toe too president trump. and bill barr, for all intents and purposes, he was the most loyal henchmen and yet even he got sacrificed in the end.
juan: david cole, i want to ask you about probably the biggest story of the election, obviously, of this year, the coronavirus pandemic and the statement i the attorney general echoing the anger of president trump against the lkdowns that these lockdowns, according to him, apart from slavery, were "the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in american history come cut the attorney general speaking earlier this year. >> remarkable statement. this justice department in four years as conducted a single voting rights act enforcement action. rights actbudding enforcement. specirr announced a
initiative to go out and sue cities and states that were simply trying to keep people safe, simply trying to save lives. like the president -- he essentially fomenting the views of the deniers who refuse to wear masks, who refuse to engage in social distancing, and who are responsible for the 300,000 deaths that we have now seen in this country. it is intolerable. juan: one of the other areas of much controversy with the attorney general was his order to prosecutors to dismiss charges against trump's national secured advisor michael flynn, who has since been pardoned by
the president. his efforts here to in essce interfere with his own justice department's prosecutions? >> there is a long-standing tradition in the justice department of independent. it includes independence of the attorney general from the president, which barr throughout the window, but also includes lineendence of the prosecutors from the attorney general himself. it is the kind of federalist system. and we don't want the top political people deciding who gets prosecuted and who doesn't. so we let those decisions be made by the u.s. attorneys in the particular local districts, but not bill barr. he interfered in the michael flynn prosecution -- after michael flynn had pled guilty. pled guilty to order them to dismiss the prosecution. he also interfered in the roger
stone case where his prosecutors sought a much more serious sentence against roger stone, and he intervened to push for leniency. in both instances, he violated the norms of the department. why? to aid president trump. not to promote justice, not to promote independence, but to aid president trump by doing favors for his cronies who had violated the law. amy: i want to talk about the people who are on death row asking about william barr's role in the trump administration's revival of the death penalty. trump intends to kill four more people before he leaves office on january 20 post of the last will be january 12. these are the president's lame-duck period in over 130
years since grover cleveland executed three people of color, among them chalked up native american. -- choctaw native american post of the latest to be put to death was brandon bernard, a 40-year-old black man killed on international human rights day, december 10, even after five of the nine surviving jurors changed their minds and said that brandon should not be executed. the federal government's only death chamber at the u.s. been attention in terre haute indiana is only equipped to killed by lethal injection. in order to expedite this killing spree, the trump administration quietly issued a rule change authorizing federal executions to take place as well by firing squad, poison gas, or electrocution. it was going to be starting on christmas eve but they pushed it to december 28. can you talk about, well, this killing spree? world isst of the
moving in the direction of recognizing the death penalty is a violation of basic human rights. there is been a moratorium on the federal executions for a very long time. as they are going out the door, the trump administration is seeking to do as much damage as it can on all fronts. but in no area is more cruel and unusual than with respect to these individuals. there is no need to rush to judgment. the rush here is simply that they recogze that joe biden is opposed to these executions which they would not go through if joe biden were in office. they want to kill these individuals before they leave office.
again, it is beyond belief. juan: i want to ask you about one of barr's recent actions. earlier this month, he pointed connecticut u.s. attorney john -- special counsel investigating the 2016 election. that essentially ensures that durham will keep his investigation and doubles down on one of trump's obsessive claims, that the national security and critical concerns about his campaign and russia in 2016 sullied the legitimacy of his election and presidency. what about this extension of basically drums mandate into the coming years, the coming years of the biden administration? >> it is a bookend of what bill barr did when the mueller report
came out. the mueller report comes out -- well, it is delivered to e attorney general, and the rest of us cannot see it. barr holds a press conference in which he blatantly mischaracterizes its findings to make it sound like it is an absolution when in fact it was an indictment and ever thing but in everything but name. the facts were devastating. , rather than seek to tell the american people the truth, you know, told a tainted story, a cover-up, essenally, and sought to present the mueller investigation as if it was saying nothing wrong happened. to aid andontinuing abet trump's effort to sort of
call into question a very legitimate investigation into significant russian intervention into our presidential election. so very, very disturbing. i have no reason to doubt john durham. i suspect nothing will come of this in the end, but it is disturbing that barr, rather than tell people the truth, sought to shave that truth in bossthat would help his and mislead the american people. amy: finally, david cole a question overall about pardons. i think trump has 10 fewer than any other president, to say the least, except for his friends. means when the attorney general steps down -- just overall, the legacy of the trump and barr justice
department? was first named, people thought maybe this guy is going to come in and restore the integrity of the justice department that jeff sessions had pretty much eviscerated. because barr was clearly at the end of his career. he did not need to go anywhere. this was sort of his last career move. people saw him as a straight up guy under george h.w. bush. but, no, he came in and essentially sought to aid and abet whatever president trump sought up to this lastoment whe he was unwilling -- and you do have to give him credit for that. he was unwilling to repeat the lies. many other republicans have repeated the lies that trump has
spouted about the election ever since he lost on november 3, but barr did not. i think you do have to give him credit for that. you have to give him and it for not disclosing -- illegally disclong investigation into the run-up to an election. unlike jam comey. beyond those two actions, for which essentially he lost his job, he was the enabler-in-cheek. amy: david cole, legal director the national legal director of the american civil liberties union and professor of law and public policy at georgetown university law center. his most recent book is "engines of liberty: the power of citizen activists to make constitutional law." we come back, the electoral college officially votes to make joe biden president. we will look at the growing movement to challenge the electoral college. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
winter park, colorado. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the quarantine report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. president-elect joe biden and vice president-elect kamala harris officially won the electoral college monday, as electors met in their respective state capitals to formalize their victory. this comes even as president trump continued to claim without evidence he was the victim of a massive conspiracy to rig the election. former georgia gubernatorial candidate stacey abrams presided over georgia's body of electors who marked for the first time in three decades georgia elected democrat. >> the ballots have been reviewed and transmitted. please state the name of the person for whom you cast for your vote for president. the joey vote prepares biden. -- president joe biden. looks joe biden.
>> joe biden. >> joe biden. announce joe to biden has received 16 votes for president of the united states. amy: as stacey abrams spoke monday in georgia, washington post reporter michelle ye hee lee tweeted -- "meanwhile, in another part of the georgia state capitol electors cast ballots for trump, , 16 declaring that 'the contest of the election is ongoing.'" she posted a photo taken by freelance journalist haisten willis of the unofficial electors. elswhere, in arizona, a group of fake electors sent the national archives notarized documents falsely claiming the state's 11 electoral votes went to trump. the 11 real electors, who were actually chosen by arizona voters, cast their votes for biden and harris.
in michigan, electors also formally cast their votes for biden and harris. he came after trump administration filed lawsuits that were dismissed by state and federal judges, and also attempted to pressure republican lawmakers to replace democratic electors. republican michigan state representative gary eisen was reprimanded and stripped of his committee assignmentafter he told a radio host monday morning he planned to join a protest to obstruct the state's electoral college vote that could turn violent. this is eisen speaking to port huron-area radio station wphm-am on monday morning. >> what event are you referring to? >> it will be all over the news later on. >> this sounds dangerous, gary. >> it is dangerous. there's going to be violence, protests. asked if i would assist today
and i said to me know what? how can i not? senior white house advisor stephen miller appeared on fox news monday and claimed trump and his allies plan to pursue a so-called alternate elector strategy. >> the only date in the constitution is january 20. we have more than enough time to write the wrong up this fraudulent election results and certify donald trump is the winner of the election. as we speak today, an alternate slate of electors in the contested states is going to vote and we're going to send us results up to congress. this will ensure all of our legal remedies remain open. that means if we win these cases in the courts, we can direct the alternate slate of electors be certified. in georgia, wisconsin, pennsylvania, can do the same. likewise congress has the opportunity as well to do the right thing. additionale cause
defects, donald trump is the one of the selection. amy: despite this, joe biden address the nation in a nationally televised speech monday night just hours after winning the state-by-state electoral college vote that officially determines the u.s. presidency. mr. biden: together, vice president-elect harris and i , well 306 electoral votes exceeding the 270 needed to secure victory. 306 electoral votes is the same number of electoral votes that donald trump and vice president wone received when they 2016. at the time, president trump calls it a landslide. by some standards, these numbers represented a clear victory then and i respectfully suggest they do so no. amy: we turn now to look at a growing movement the president
the popularly elect with or withouelectoracollege. thatsave pasd a law elecrs will to whichever caidate ns the nional populavote in e countras a whe, regdless wt caidate wi in tha partular sta. th is knowas the nional popular vote tersta compa. e compacwill not takeffect til eugh stat adopt iso the average- aggrege of the electol votes uals 270r more, fta gear to the esiden to the st popul candidate. w're jned now john ko, air ofational pular vote. lcome ba to demoacy now! it igreat thave youith us. can you expla what thi movent is? but firs respond to what haened yesteay in this country. in most other years, the electoral college vote, people did not pay much attention to it.
but this year, they sure did. >> well, people didn't pay attention because the flaws of the current system he become more and more apparent to people. five about 45 presidents have come into office without having the national popular vote. in the last six elections, we've had two wrong winter elections and also two near miss elections, including this current election. at 21,000 people had changed their minds i arizona, wisconsin, and georgia, president tru would have received enough electoral votes to be reelected, despite the 7ct that joe biden was over million votes ahead in the national popular vote. , could youkoza explain a little more about this compact?
i am wondering, even if you are able to get the number of -- requisite number of those two states to vote in favor of it, what is to prevent congress to pass legislation to overturn it? >> infect the constitution gives the state legislatures the howusive power to decide eachoral votes are -- state shall appoint in the manner the legislature -- [indiscernible] role in deciding how electoral votes are awarded as a matter of law, so it is an exclusive state process. the current system, the winner ke allystem, that causes these wrong winr elections, these numa selectis, and
causes the fact that presidential candidates only campaign in a dozen battleground state lawsse are all and can be changed in same way they were passed, t a vote of the ste legislature. , linda states that have passed this compact, making their way to -- they're coming close to red 200 votes, need 270, before this is adopted all over the country. it is not exactly abolishing the electoral college. it remains. of whateally gets rid the electoral college has done in the past because it will be guided by the popular vote. what states have voted for this? how many more do you need? >> the states that have voted for ilude delaware, hawaii, rhode island, and vermont.
eight medium-sized states, colorado, whereby the voters just reaffirmed the action of the colorado just later and governor and approved national popular vote. colorado, connecticut, maryla, massachusetts, new jersey, new mexico, oregon, and washington. and then california, illinois, and new york. we need states with 74 more electoral votes to put this into effect. hopefully, in time for the 202 presidential election. progress in that direction, there are nine additional states with 88 electoral votes where at least one house of the legislature has already passed the national popular vote bill. so we're optimistic that we can succeed in putting this into effect in time for the 2024 election.
where onehose states house of the legislature has approved it but the other has let's say when the second house approves the bill -- because most legislation, if not approved by both houses in a term come has to be re-voted on, doesn't it? how would at work? >> you're correct. for example, our bill passed the virginia house early in 2012 in -- 2020. but when it comes up in 2021, we will have to go back to the house and passhe senate. so you are correct. legislature,state like bills in congress, he to a newrted when legislature comes into being. amy: what are the states you think are most likely? >> we are here optimistic about virginia.
the bill also passed one house in maine in 2019. and in mhigan in 2018. 25 of the 38 state senator sponsored the bill, including a majority of both parties. then it passed the minnesota house in 2019. and some other states. juan: the obama council on public affairs says this is a democratic blue state effort and opposes your proposal. what is your response? effort, it is an bipartisan proposal. it has received reports in support in state after state, including, by the way, the oklahoma senate where we passed the senate a few years ago with bipartisan vote. the obama council on public relations is the leading
opponent to national popular vote. wrongave a lot of opinions. they think the current system is just fine, that it is ok to have second place wrong winner elections, that it is ok to have all of these recounts and lawsuits and litigation -- which comes from the winner take all all -- and that it is ok that the presidential campaigns are focused on just a dozen battleground state and leave 38 states basically as spectators to the presidential election. juan: could you talk a little bit abouthe history of the electoral college, why was it created in the first place and why has it been since a durable institution in american politics? >> electoral college itself is in the constitution and it allocates electoral goods among the states, but it doesn't actually say how the members of
the electoral college are appointed. so it is durable bause it is in the constitution. it is in the constitution because at the time the constitution was written, the haveern states wanted to more representation than the number of people who are allowed justify -- a polite way of saying the slaves -- such a form the union, this wheremise was arranged the states would receive a certain number of electoral votes based on the number of people in those states. but then the states, notably southern states, could have only say rich white people allowed to vote. amy: so it is based on slavery. >> --
amy: john koza, thank you for being with us. we will continue to look at this. chair of national popular vote. consulting professor at stanford in computer science and electrical engineering. he is also former ceo of scientific games. next up, sus covid-19 death toll tops 300,000 cases are spiking across the prisons of this country. we will get an insight update from san quentin. stay with us.
amy: charlie pride, one of the most successful black country artists in history. he died saturday of complications from covid-19 at the age of 86. not long after performing at a largely mask-free awards ceremony hosted by the country music association. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the quarantine report. i'm amy goodman with juan
gonzalez. we turn to the covid-19 crisis unfolding in prisons and jails. as the u.s. death toll tops 300,000 and u.s. healthcare workers begin receiving the coronavirus vaccine this week, advocates are pushing for incarcerated people to be prioritized in the vaccine rollout. this comes as prisons face their greatest swell in covid cases since the beginning of the pandemic. nearly a quarter million incarcerated people in the u.s. have been infected with covid-19 according to the marshall project. as infection number store in california, all the state's prisons have active coronavirus cases. infections were up 130% last week. despite this, the california department of corrections is continuing to transfer incarcerated people between institutions -- behavior that helped spread the virus in the prison system in the first place. on monday, san quentin state prison began the transfer of
nearly 300 prisoners to other institutions, against the advice of health professionals and despite the outcry of prisoners. this comes after a california appeals court ordered prison authorities to cut the populations of the overcrowded prison in half in october after a first wave of the coronavirus at the prison left 28 people dead. democracy now! reached incarcerated journalist juan moreno hnes on the phone late last week. haines is one of dozens of prisoners who have filed petitions for release due to the pandemic. he said that he was told he would be transferred out of san quentin as early as monday. -- as early as this week. >> at a call from my attorney. my attorney told me the judge told him to ask me or make me an offer, if i dismiss my petition for release out of san quentin based on these unconstitutional conditions, he would not transfer me to -- from san
quentin. i refuse to drop my petition against these cruel and unusual conditions. expect theing i department of corrections to do to me is to tell me to pack my stuff and move me to another prison. want to transfer me to another institution, i can't save the living conditions are going to be there but the one thing i can probably guarantee, i will be living in an enclosed, --tilated housing is an unventilated housing unit. what is the difference? congregant an setting, an enclosed building, the risk of contracting coronavirus is astronomical. .t does not make any sense the only thing that makes sense about the transfer order is the judge will comply with the order to reduce the population at san
quentin by increasing it somewhere else. they're just plain whack him all. amy: that was incarcerated journalist juan haines speaking from san quentin prison. over the weekend, we reached michael adams, who is also incarcerated at san quentin, by phone. adams. spoke with >> people are pancake. people are nott only from a place of covid outbreaks, but also the political aspect -- san quentin. if guys walking around here not knowing -- their high-risk medical but sitting in places that have outbreaks. there is a nervousness, chaotic mess, a fear that because probable insane quit and. --
palpable in san quentin. amy: well, for more, we go to oakland where we're joined by james king. he is a state campaigner for the ella baker center for human rights, and a member of the stop san quentin outbreak coalition. he himself was incarcerated at san quentin from 2013 until this past december. welcome back to democracy now! it is great to have you with this. for the first time in the pandemic's history, the state prison system is battling covid-19 in all of the state's prisons come all 34. can you talk about what is happening and what people are describing as chaos, what needs to be done? >> good to see you again, amy. is outbreak in 34 prisons surging in a way that shows that overcrowded, unventilated prisons throughout the state are not safe to protect people from covid-19. something that public health officials have an saying for the
past nine months. the public health officials have called for san quentin itself to andepopulated to 50% brought the state there are calls for each of our mass overcrowded prisons to be incarcerated in the same manner. throughout the state, there's no capacity to physically distance within our prisons. there are no proper hygiene and personal protection equipment that is passed out. and the buildings themselves are poorly ventilated, as you heard from juan. was firster, there district court of appeals ruling which ruled that san quentin should reduce its population to 1775 people either by transfers and get them the option to decide which to do. their choosing transfers of over
300 of the most elderly, medically-vulnerable people out of the prison throughout the state, even though cases are surging throughout the state prison system. juan: what has been the response of state officials to possible releases, either of the most elderly or vulnerable patients or of those who have been convicted of nonviolent crimes? >> we have not heard from governor newsom on this in months. as your reporting detailed, there were 130% surge in cases just last week within our state prison system. close to 10,000 active confirmed cases throughout the state right now within our 34 prisons. the governor is radio silent. we don't know with the response will be. we can see from the california department of corrections and rehabilitation they want to keep everyone imy transfer the most medically-vulnerable to other dangerous living conditions as
opposed to just releasing the 300 people to their homes and transitional housing. juan: what about the issue of vaccinations? we are not hearing from any major public officials of prioritizing inmates in the prison systems across the country. can you talk about your sense of how the vaccinations should be handled? and also, what the response of inmates would be to the vaccination? >> you know, california has a very aging prison population. you see elderly people throughout our state prisons who are living in these highly dense congregant settings. we think the virus -- we think the vaccine should be available to them as soon as possible. at the same time, the conditions -- the public health conditions that make prison living so dangerous existed way before
coronavirus came onto the scene th year. studies show being in prison is to 15 yearse you 10 older than people who are not incarcerated. so we don't see the vaccine as a substitute for releases by any stretch of the imagination, but it should be available as soon as possible to keep people safe. amy: james king, if you could talk about the movement to get the voices of those out inside the present out, and the idea on this issue of vaccines as the u.s. says they're going to institutionalize settings of the most vulnerable -- for example, people in nursing homes -- prisons have almost become these institutionalized places for many older people close together. how do people protect themselves inside? >> famously at san quentin
during the height of the outbreak were thousands of people were infected, at one point prison administrators told oee people to sleep head to and that way they would be six feet distance from each other. we had reports of people sleeping with masks on, sleeping double masked. when they were fortunate enough to get a mask. insideliving conditions our state prisons have not been adequately protective of people from this virus at all. happenthing that would were people in congregant settings any nursing homes and other facilities should also areen for people incarcerated. just as the virus is coming inside the prison at an accelerated rate, we know it is going to row and come out at an even faster rate. amy: james king, thank you for being with us, member of the stop san quentin outbreak coalition. state campaigner for the
oakland-based ella baker center for human rights. he himself was incarcerated at san quentin from 2013 until this past december. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to email@example.com or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new yoxxxxxxdñoo s