About Time

About Time

Stacey Abrams on Biden’s leadership, Georgia’s election and challenging voter suppression, PBS New Hour January 21, 2021

Judy Woodruff:

And, in fact, what we saw in 2020 and at the end of the election, President Trump and the people who support him making almost the opposite argument, that too much has been done to go out and to make sure minority voters can vote, people who may not be citizens can vote, they claim.

How — I mean, there’s a wave of belief out there today that something went wrong in this election. They’re coming at it basically from the opposite direction.

  • Stacey Abrams:

I wouldn’t put this in terms of opposite direction. I would put this in terms of truth and lie.

We know that it is true that voters have been purged from the rolls, thousands of whom should never have been removed. We know that there are communities that experience multihour lines, when communities that are better situated and whiter have a faster attempt and a faster capacity.

We know that the issues of voter suppression played out in plain sight when we saw state after state try to force people to go to the polls in unsafe conditions, rather than allowing them to use the safety of voting by mail.

Then you have the lies that were told by Donald Trump and by his adherents. We had more than 60 lawsuits where evidence could not be produced. We saw Donald Trump himself at the outset of his administration convene a voting fraud task force and dismantle it because they could not find proof.

There has been absolutely no proof of widespread voter fraud. It did not happen. And, this year, Republican leaders acknowledged that that was true.

And so the moment we create this false equivalence between voter suppression, which has been baked into our nation since its inception, and voter fraud, which largely in the 20th century and 21st centuries has been a figment of imagination, then we cannot give them equal time and equal measure.

We have to dismiss and push back against voter fraud, so we can focus on ensuring that every eligible citizen in the United States of America has the same ease of voting, no matter who they are, where they live, or the color of their skin.

New White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Biden’s first 100 days, PBS New Hour, January 21, 2021

  • Judy Woodruff:

At the same time, you have — again, this is coming from Republicans, who are saying it’s all well and good, the president’s early days, but these first executive orders, what is it, 16, 17 of them, look like a wish list, a progressive wish list, something that doesn’t sound very much like the president’s outreach for unity.

If he — in other words, they’re saying, if he really wants to work with us, why is he putting such an agenda out there that we can’t go along with?

  • Jen Psaki:

Well, I think the question there, Judy, is, what exactly are they opposed to? Do they not think there is a climate crisis, or do they not think — the critics, I should say, not all Republicans, far from it.

Do they not think that Americans should wear masks? I mean, you look at polling, and that’s not what it says.

So, I think the president’s outreach and success in engaging with members of the Republican Party is going to be judged by his words and by his actions. And that is going to be whether he can work with them, listen to them, hear from them, take feedback from them on legislation, and find a path forward.

But the executive actions that he proposed were what he felt are essential actions to take immediately to bring relief to the American people and overturn some of the most detrimental steps of the prior administration.

But he’s pretty confident there’s still a path forward with Republicans.

  • Judy Woodruff:

One other thing, Jen Psaki.

And that is, the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, is saying today, late today, that he believes the impeachment trial for former President Trump should be delayed until the middle of February to give President Trump time to pull his defenses together.

Is President Biden prepared to see that wait?

  • Jen Psaki:

Well, Judy, the president’s focus is primarily on the COVID relief package that he announced just a week ago. And that’s what he’s having conversations with members of both parties about.

We’re going to leave the mechanics and the timing and the process of how an impeachment trial will proceed to leaders in the Senate. And we’re certain that Senator McConnell and newly — new Leader Schumer are going to have some interesting discussions about that.

But we will leave them — we leave it to them to determine what the path forward is.