JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: on trial.
Former Minneapolis police officer Kim Potter takes the stand in her own defense in the trial over the killing of Daunte Wright.
Then: high stakes.
The Biden agenda faces an uncertain future, as his policy priorities suffer major setbacks in the Senate.
Plus: the pandemic in Africa.
The Omicron and Delta variants of COVID-19 plague the continent amid vaccine hesitancy and resistance to safety protocols.
MICHAEL BALEKE: In cities across Africa, business seems to go on as usual in the way it did before the pandemic.
People have given up on masks, and, in many places, there is virtually no social distancing.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And it's Friday.
David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart consider this busy week of news.
All that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."
(BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: A jury in Minneapolis has gone home for the weekend, after a white former police officer recounted the fatal shooting of a Black man, Daunte Wright.
Kim Potter testified today at her manslaughter trial.
John Yang has our report.
EARL GRAY, Attorney For Kim Potter: The defense calls Kim Potter to the stand.
JOHN YANG: Today, former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer Kim Potter told jurors of the moment eight months ago when she shot and killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop, reaching for her Taser, but pulling her gun, seeing the look on another officer's face.
KIM POTTER, Defendant: And I can see Sergeant Johnson and the driver struggling over the gear shift, because I can see Johnson's hand.
And then I can see his face.
He had a look of fear on his face.
It's nothing I'd seen before.
EARL GRAY: What did you do?
KIM POTTER: We were struggling.
We were trying to keep him from driving away.
It just -- it just went chaotic.
And then I remember yelling "Taser, Taser, Taser," and nothing happened.
And then he told me I shot him.
JOHN YANG: During cross-examination, prosecutor Erin Eldridge underscored Potter's 26 years of police experience and training, including how not to confuse her Taser and her gun.
Eldridge pressed her on whether she felt threatened by Wright.
ERIN ELDRIDGE, Assistant Minnesota Assistant Attorney General: Never said, "I'm going to kill you"?
[13:25:02] KIM POTTER: No.
ERIN ELDRIDGE: Never said, "I'm going shoot you"?
KIM POTTER: No.
ERIN ELDRIDGE: Never said, "There's a gun in the car and I'm coming after you"?
KIM POTTER: No.
JOHN YANG: The prosecutor also asked if Potter did anything to help Wright after he'd been shot.
ERIN ELDRIDGE: You didn't run down the street and try to save Daunte Wright's life?
KIM POTTER: No.
ERIN ELDRIDGE: You were focused on what you had done, because you had just killed somebody.
KIM POTTER: I'm sorry it happened.
JOHN YANG: The incident began as a traffic stop, but Wright tried to flee after a struggle with officers who attempted to arrest him for an outstanding weapons warrant.
KIM POTTER: Holy (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
I just shot him.
I grabbed the wrong (EXPLETIVE DELETED) gun.
JOHN YANG: The defense argued that, mistake or not, deadly force was justified to stop Wright.
Potter is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter.
If convicted, she'd face years in prison.
Closing arguments are set for Monday.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: COVID vaccine maker Pfizer forecast the pandemic will last until 2024, now that the Omicron variant has emerged.
The company also said it is working on a three-dose vaccine for children 2 to 16, acknowledging its two-dose regimen is not as effective as hoped.
And the CDC endorsed letting students stay in class if they are exposed to COVID, but test negative.
Officials touted the policy over home quarantines.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC Director: Test-to-stay is an encouraging public health practice to keep our children in school, and CDC is updating our materials to help schools and parents know how to best implement this promising and now proven practice.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, COVID outbreaks forced the National Football League to delay three games.
The National Hockey League has shut down three teams through Christmas.
and a number of pro and college basketball games have been called off.
Officials in Western Kentucky have confirmed two more deaths as a result of last Friday's tornadoes.
Governor Andy Beshear announced the total has reached 77, the most from any storm in the state's history.
One person is still missing.
Russia published demands today that NATO get out of Central and Eastern Europe and deny membership to Ukraine.
The U.S. and its allies have rejected those demands before.
Moscow raised them again, as it deploys thousands of troops to its border with Ukraine.
Back in this country, the U.S. Senate headed toward the holidays with President Biden's huge domestic spending bill in limbo.
Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer cited the president's statement made last night acknowledging they lack the votes to act by Christmas.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): The president requested more time to continue his negotiations.
And so we will keep working with him, hand in hand, to bring this bill over the finish line and deliver on these much-needed provisions.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The president today talked up voting rights bills in a commencement address at South Carolina State University.
Those measures are also stalled in the Senate, but Mr. Biden said the battle is not over.
A Florida man who attacked U.S. Capitol Police on January 6 was sentenced today to more than five years in prison.
That is the toughest penalty yet for any of the rioters.
And Trump ally Roger Stone refused to answer congressional questions on the assault.
He invoked his right against self-incrimination.
Schools around the country were on edge today after shooting and bomb threats on the social media app TikTok.
Law enforcement agencies said the posts were not considered credible.
Even so, schools in at least half-a-dozen states called in extra police, and some canceled classes altogether.
And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 532 points, 1.5 percent, to close at 35365.
The Nasdaq fell 10 points.
The S&P 500 slipped 48.
That's 1 percent.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": an exhaustive fact-check of the 2020 election dispels myths of widespread voter fraud; the economics behind why many toys are out of stock this holiday season; singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile reflects on her rise to stardom; plus much more.
It was a week of setbacks for the Biden agenda and for Democrats in control of Congress.
A key piece of immigration reform hit a wall in the Senate, and voting rights bills have stalled.
Frustrated Democrats today intensified talks of changing the 60-vote filibuster.
Lisa Desjardins has been talking with some key figures involved, and she joins me now.
So, hello, Lisa.
You and I talked last evening about immigration, where it stood, but then, shortly after that, we learned that the Democratic hopes for immigration reform have hit a big wall.
Tell us about it.
LISA DESJARDINS: First, a quick reminder that Democrats have 50 votes in the Senate, a Senate which usually requires 60 votes to get past a filibuster, which can block almost any piece of legislation to do that.
To get past that, they're trying to use a budget reconciliation process to pass many pieces of the Biden bind agenda.
And one of them is what you just mentioned, immigration reform.
But it turned -- last night, we have learned that their plan is not going to pass muster for this budgetary process.
Let's remind people exactly what that plan was, quickly.
First of all, Democrats were proposing parole.
That would be a status that could not lead to a path to citizenship, but would give a legalized status to some six or seven million people in this country right now who are undocumented.
And, last night, we did play the voices from interviews that our producer Saher Khan has done with some DACA recipients and TPS, temporary protected status, recipients.
Those voices are important.
And they have been listening to the words especially of the Senate parliamentarian.
It is the Senate parliamentarian who decided whether or not those proposals were going to fit this budgetary reconciliation muster.
Do they have enough of a budgetary effect?
Here's what Elizabeth MacDonough, the parliamentarian wrote, according to e-mail provided to me by some sources.
She said: "These are substantial policy changes with lasting effects, just like those we previously considered from Democrats.
And those effects outweigh the budgetary impact."
Essentially, they're saying this is more of a policy change.
It's not a budgetary change.
As you can imagine, Democrats very distressed about this, upset, including some members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Three of those members wrote this today in response, saying that Democrats have to do everything they can to get to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, even if that means disregarding the Senate parliamentarian.
So that leads to this question.
Can Democrats overrule the parliamentarian yesterday?
Yes, Judy, they can.
But, politically, there is not the sense that they would do that.
There's not 50 votes to do that.
So this led us to talk to those undocumented - - those DACA recipients and others today for their reaction to this news.
And I want to go to a one of those folks that we talked to, Daishi Tanaka, who told us what his reaction was today.
DAISHI MIGUEL TANAKA, DACA Recipient: As someone who has DACA and has been -- consistently been played with political football on my future to stay in this country, and with the impending fear of courts ruling over DACA program, I think I wanted some permanency.
And the fact that there's no relief gives me a lot of stress and anxiety for what is about to come.
LISA DESJARDINS: Stress for him, but relief for conservatives, who were worried that a status for undocumented immigrants could make things at the borders -- at the border worse.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And so, Lisa, another big issue hanging in the balance, voting rights.
Lack of progress on this seems to be intensifying discussion around how to get around the Senate rule of the filibuster.
Tell us where things stand on that.
LISA DESJARDINS: We will talk about this more in the future, Judy.
But, quickly, I want to go over what proposals I know Democrats are seriously considering to get around the filibuster, first, the idea of enforcing the current rules that they have, especially forcing senators to actually talk during a filibuster, limiting them to the current rule, which is two speeches each.
That could last days, weeks, months, but Democrats say, maybe we need to do that.
The other option that they're considering is switching the filibuster from 60 votes to end the filibuster to 41 in order to keep it going.
These are taking on -- these talks are very real, including with Senator Joe Manchin.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we know you're going to continue to follow that, even as Congress is getting ready to go home for the holiday.
Lisa Desjardins, we love the Christmas tree.
LISA DESJARDINS: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We are just a week away from Christmas.
And, for some parents, finding that specific toy their child wants has been a real challenge this season.
That is due in part to the supply chain problems around the globe and how it lands back here.
Special correspondent and Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell has the story.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: In years past, hot toys have run low or run out.
Remember Tickle Me Elmo and the frenzy over Furby?
But this year, the out-of-stock signs popped up earlier, not just for the trendy toys, whose sudden popularity is hard to predict, but some of the classics too.
SHARON GISH, Manager, Fat Brain Toys Store: I called the owner.
And I was like, "Are you seriously telling me we're not going to have a Wooden Railway set for Christmas?"
You know, I was a little bit in denial.
And he was like, "Yes, I am telling you that train set is done for the year."
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Sharon Gish has managed Omaha's Fat Brain Toys Store for 14 holiday seasons.
On the game wall, no arcade basketball, no pinball machines, says Ann Messbarger (ph).
WOMAN: Right now, they're out of stock.
We're unsure if we will get more.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: The problem is surging consumer demand, plus supply chain issues.
Higher prices for raw materials, backed-up ports, and trucking shortages have made it more difficult for toy companies to stay stocked.
Take the Fat Brain Toys' distribution center.
On our recent visit, workers were busy filling orders.
MARK CARSON, Co-Founder, Fat Brain Toys: We definitely are starting to run out of stock on a few items.
Normally, you wouldn't see gaps like this start to come up for another week or two.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Mark and Karen Carson are the company's founders.
MARK CARSON: Our goal would be that we're at our peak by Black Friday.
We'd have an in-stock rate of about 90 percent would be the goal.
This year, we're at about 65 percent.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Filling orders for their hottest items, like the silicone push-and-pop toy dubbed the Dimpl has been a challenge.
MARK CARSON: At the exact same time that the most demand was out there for it, we could not... CATHERINE RAMPELL: Fulfill.
MARK CARSON: ... fulfill.
And it wasn't that we weren't placing the orders.
It's just we could not get them -- get them here.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: They're doing all they can to get stock in.
Are there still orders that you placed a long time ago that you're waiting to arrive?
KAREN CARSON, Co-Founder, Fat Brain Toys: Currently, I think we have 50-plus on the water that are -- that we just can't get our hands on.
MARK CARSON: Fifty containers of product that is somewhere between here and and on the water.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: And what does that mean in terms of the value of the product you're waiting on?
KAREN CARSON: I said hundreds of thousands.
And what did you say?
MARK CARSON: It's millions.
(LAUGHTER) KAREN CARSON: That kind of hurts.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Whatever stock does come in sometimes sells out immediately, especially since customers have been warned to shop early.
HOWARD BACHMAN, Shopper: I am shopping early, just because of what I have heard about all the ships sitting out in California waiting to unload and what have you.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Casey Bailey (ph) said stocks were low at the stores she's visited.
WOMAN: Everything is so picked over, or the shelves are really empty.
WOMAN: This is cute.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Staff here are confident they can find the perfect toy for every child.
But if your heart is set on a SpinAgain, you may be disappointed.
Has it been hard to keep these in stock?
SHARON GISH: Yes, it has been.
You will notice we either have a mountain of them or none of them, a mountain -- yes.
JULI LENNETT, NPD Group: People have cash in their wallets.
They didn't spend it on all those experiences last year.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Juli Lennett, toys industry analyst for the NPD Group.
JULI LENNETT: They're spending more, and we have the supply chain issues on top of it.
So, the big winners this year for the holiday season are going to be the toys that are actually on the shelf.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Of course, many haven't been.
JULI LENNETT: There are a lot of sellouts right now, first and foremost, trading cards.
Magic Mixies is another hot one.
I have not seen Magic Mixies on shelf for about a month now.
If you see it, buy it.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: The Christmas tree still won't be bare, assuming kids are a little flexible.
JULI LENNETT: I think it's going to be pretty tough on parents if their child has a very specific list.
If they say, I just want a Barbie doll, you will be able to find a Barbie doll.
If they ask for a very specific one, you might have a little bit of a harder time.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Bigger retailers found creative and costly ways to navigate the problems, says University of Michigan Professor Ravi Anupindi.
RAVI ANUPINDI, University of Michigan: Walmart and Target and Costco, they chartered their own ships to bring stuff in into the country.
So, for them, the distribution problem will be less of a headache.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Meanwhile, smaller companies are struggling to navigate these rough seas.
JOSHUA LOERZEL, Co-Founder and President, Sky Castle Toys: I think all I want for Christmas is ocean bookings.
So, if you see Santa, ask him for some extra container space.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Josh Loerzel's startup, Sky Castle Toys, makes LetsGlow Studio.
Kids use the special glowing stickers in TikTok videos.
The company launched last year.
JOSHUA LOERZEL: And, of course, 2021 was like, hold my beer, 2020.
You thought the pandemic was bad?
CATHERINE RAMPELL: He was planning in the dark.
JOSHUA LOERZEL: Typically we'd pay around $3,000 for a 40-foot container, three to four, depending.
The most recent containers we shipped were $25,000.
So, you're looking at like a six-times increase.
So it's been nuts.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Raw material costs have risen, too.
JOSHUA LOERZEL: ABS plastic costs up 31 percent.
EVA foam, which foam toys -- is in a lot of toys.
That's up 62 percent.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Reluctantly, he's had to raise his own prices.
JOSHUA LOERZEL: We were going to come out at $25, and we ultimately ended up at 35.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Other small toy companies are also facing higher costs, and trying to limit how much they pass onto customers.
Hey Buddy Hey Pal makes holiday decorating kits, including for Easter eggs.
CURTIS MCGILL, Co-Founder, Hey Buddy Hey Pal: I am the chief financial egg-pert.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Company co-founder Curtis McGill loves to crack those egg puns.
CURTIS MCGILL: My kids think they're eggs-cruciating when I use them all the time, but you're interviewing me from the egg-quarters.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Jokes aside, it's been a hard year.
CURTIS MCGILL: You could say you had a container, and three days later, they would say, sorry, we gave it to someone else.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: He adapted by cramming in more units each time he did book a shipping container.
CURTIS MCGILL: We made our packaging 30 percent smaller.
That's not something you do lightly in this business.
Your package on a shelf with 100 other toys, that's your billboard.
That's how you tell your story and set yourself apart.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: A few months ago, McGill canceled entire shipments of his Christmas product due to longer transit times.
CURTIS MCGILL: And we shifted gears to our Easter product.
Our EggMazing Egg Decorator is our bread and butter.
And we knew we had to have it here in time for Easter.
And we left half of our Christmas items in China.
They're actually in storage right now.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: These products are already made.
They're already manufactured and ready to be sold.
But they're in a warehouse somewhere in China.
Is that right?
CURTIS MCGILL: In China, right now, yes, ma'am.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Would you ever consider moving some of the production to the United States, or somewhere else closer by?
Would that make a difference?
CURTIS MCGILL: We actually set out to do that from the very beginning.
Unfortunately, in order for us to do that, our product would be almost three times more expensive, so we knew that wasn't an option.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Most toys are made in China.
But even the few toys already manufactured in the U.S. have had disruptions, like these name puzzles carved at Fat Brain Toys' distribution center.
MARK CARSON: Three different times this year, we have actually completely run out of wood.
The mills have been shut down because of worker shortages.
And then, once they did get fired back up, then they didn't have truck drivers to get it from Portland all the way to Omaha.
CATHERINE RAMPELL: Fortunately for us, he was eventually able to replenish those wood supplies.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Catherine Rampell in Nebraska.
JUDY WOODRUFF: As the Omicron variant sends a fourth wave of patients to hospitals across Southern Africa, leaders there and across the continent are pointing fingers at wealthy nations.
Special correspondent Michael Baleke reports from Uganda.
MICHAEL BALEKE: It's approaching high season as the summer begins in the Southern Hemisphere.
But tourist spots in Cape Town are abandoned.
The hotels and restaurants are empty, as South Africa's hospitals begin to fill up, jammed with patients infected with both the Omicron and Delta coronavirus variants.
Joe Phaahla is the minister of health for South Africa.
JOE PHAAHLA, South African Minister of Health: The number of cases in the fourth wave have exceeded the peaks of the third, the second, and the first waves.
MICHAEL BALEKE: The Omicron variant was first detected in Southern Africa last month, and Africa accounts for nearly half of the Omicron cases reported across the globe.
Africa CDC's director, John Nkengasong, says COVID-19 infections are surging on the continent, and research is under way to see if Omicron is fueling that surge.
Latest figures from the World Health Organization show the African continent has reported close to 200,000 new cases in just the last week.
DR. JOHN NKENGASONG, Director, Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: If you now look at the different regions and say, where are a lot of cases are coming from, 79 percent of the cases are coming from Southern Africa.
MICHAEL BALEKE: The discovery of Omicron triggered a cascade of reaction, with many countries closing their borders to South Africans, and foreign tourists staying away.
This sparked a wave of outrage, and cries of betrayal across Africa.
Ugandan health care activist Sylvia Nakasi says the decision to call out South Africa was rushed.
SYLVIA NAKASI, Health Care Activist: When you think back, you say, is it because it's an African country that has announced?
Because other variants have been found in India and other countries, U.K., but we didn't hear that rushed decision to travel bans.
MICHAEL BALEKE: The tourist industry was set to rebound this holiday season after two years of the pandemic, and those who rely on tourists to make a living are worried about what's yet to come.
Patson Makasa sells African art and fabric to tourists who come to Cape Town's world-famous beaches.
PATSON MAKASA, Beachfront Vendor (through translator): I can't survive without tourism.
You know, here in Cape Town, it is a tourism industry.
MICHAEL BALEKE: Survival, whether economic or health-related, that's the concern for millions of people across the continent.
Africa's attempts to fight the coronavirus have been undermined by the lack of vaccines, but also the slow uptake of the available doses due to hesitancy among the population.
There are also distribution challenges, like the lack of cold storage facilities and poor road infrastructure, which has made it difficult to access communities in remote areas.
While wealthy nations were buying up the lion's share of vaccines, African nations waited for months for the first vaccines to begin to trickle in.
A mistrust of vaccines continues to haunt the continent, even in countries like Ghana that have enough vaccines to go around.
ADJOVI SENAMU, Vaccine Skeptic (through translator): I don't want to take the vaccine because I am scared I may suffer some side effects.
I have not been infected with COVID-19, so I don't see the need to take the jab.
GIDEON SOSU, Vaccine Skeptic: I think that the vaccine is very dangerous, which has serious effects when we get it injected in our system.
And I don't believe I will get coronavirus.
MICHAEL BALEKE: In East Africa, Uganda has announced its first cases of Omicron.
Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng says the government is ramping up efforts to get vaccines into communities.
DR. JANE RUTH ACENG, Ugandan Minister of Health: The more COVID-19 circulates among the communities, the more opportunities the virus has to change or mutate.
It is therefore extremely important that we all work to reduce the circulation of COVID-19 virus to interrupt mutations.
MICHAEL BALEKE: Uganda has so far received more than 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines from the U.S., the U.K., Europe, and China.
More than seven million of those doses have been administered to a population of about 47 million people.
But in cities across Africa, like Uganda's capital, Kampala, business seems to go on as usual, in the way it did before the pandemic.
People have given up on masks, and, in many places, there is virtually no social distancing, a clear sign that Africa's prospects for a full recovery any time soon are looking grimmer by the day.
Just over 10 percent of people in Africa have received one dose of a vaccine, compared with more than 60 percent in North America and Europe.
Africa believes it's bearing the brunt of panicked policies from the wealthy Western countries, which hoarded the vaccines.
And Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis says they are making Southern Africa a COVID pariah.
GEORDIN HILL-LEWIS, Mayor of Cape Town, South Africa: The problem is that, it's now embarrassing for those governments to go back on what they have done.
So, I think for political reasons, I am afraid, not for reasons of data or science, it is difficult for them to reverse those travel bans.
So, we are expecting that it will take some time, but we are not letting them rest.
We are working very hard.
Our teams are speaking to those governments every day.
MICHAEL BALEKE: Ambassadors to Washington from 16 Southern African countries are calling on the White House to lift travel restrictions, claiming that the controls stigmatize Africa and devastate the tourism industry, pushing the hope of economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic even farther out of reach for much of the African continent.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I am Michael Baleke in Kampala.
JUDY WOODRUFF: More than a year after President Biden won the presidential election, former President Trump and his allies insist, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud led to a stolen election.
A new, exhaustive piece of reporting from the Associated Press shows that simply is not true.
AP Reporters went looking for cases of voter fraud in six states that Trump has challenged, and they found fewer than 475 potential instances out of more than 25 million votes cast, a number that would not have come close to changing the outcome.
I spoke yesterday to Christina Cassidy.
She's one of the reporters for the AP.
Christina Cassidy, thank you so much for joining us.
This was a deep and wide-ranging effort that you and your colleagues made.
What, there were you and 10 other reporters.
You talked to, what, 340 election officials across these states.
What were you trying to find out?
CHRISTINA CASSIDY, Associated Press: Heading into the November 3 election, we were certainly aware about various statements being made about voter fraud.
We were also aware that academic studies had shown that it was exceptionally rare.
But once November 3 happened and we saw everything that happened since, we decided at the AP that we wanted to go to the source.
We wanted to look for the voter fraud, and we wanted to identify what voter fraud had occurred, what potential voter fraud had occurred in the November 3 election.
And so we embarked on this reporting effort that involved reporters in six states, the six states that were disputed by President Trump and his allies.
And we went to the local election officials.
And we asked them to identify for us any potential instances of voter fraud that they had flagged during their post-election certification and canvassing work.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And what did you find?
CHRISTINA CASSIDY: Well, in the end, we found it was just shy of 475 potential cases of voter fraud in those six states, which would not have made a difference in the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And this was out of millions of votes cast, if you add up all the votes in those states.
Christina, tell us -- just give us a couple of examples of the fraud that you did find, those individual cases.
CHRISTINA CASSIDY: Sure.
I mean, they ran the gamut.
You had individuals like a gentleman from Wisconsin who was a felon, and he did not understand or did not know, he said, that he -- he thought he was eligible to vote.
And so he voted.
And it turns out Wisconsin is not one of those states that have loosened laws for felon voting.
So, there was that instance.
We had a woman in Maricopa County who has been charged.
Authorities say that she submitted a ballot on behalf of her mother, who had died about a month before the election.
And there were other instances of people who had submitted mail ballots.
Either they had mailed them or dropped them off and those ballots showed up after they had voted in person, whether in early voting or on Election Day.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we know that former President Trump, the people who support him, continue to push this notion of massive voter fraud, despite all evidence to the contrary.
And you spoke to the former president.
What did he say?
CHRISTINA CASSIDY: Well, the president definitely spoke about his concerns about the pandemic-related changes, and how there were -- that there was such an increase in mail ballots, and his belief that those are less secure.
But speaking with election officials, they stand by their protocols and their procedures in place.
And there are numerous procedures, protocols in place, guardrails to ensure that every ballot is accounted for.
Mail ballots that are sent out, they are logged.
Every mail ballot that is returned is logged.
They go through various security checks in a number of states.
They do -- they conduct signature verification.
So, when those ballots come in, they're looking at the signatures.
And every time a voter has had contact with their election office, whether it's signing a petition, requesting a ballot application, submitting a ballot, those signatures are on file, and they're kept on file.
And so, when those ballots come in, they're reviewed.
They look at those signatures, and if there's a discrepancy, they flag it.
They contact the voters.
They say, hey, there is an issue here.
You need to come in and prove that this is your ballot.
And if that person doesn't come in, that ballot is discarded and is not counted.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, let me just ask you, is there any possibility, based on what you found, that this election could have been counted erroneously, that the results could have turned out differently than they did?
CHRISTINA CASSIDY: Not based on voter fraud, no.
JUDY WOODRUFF: All right.
Christina Cassidy, an exhaustive piece of reporting from the Associated Press.
Thank you very much.
CHRISTINA CASSIDY: Thank you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And now we turn to the analysis of Brooks and Capehart.
That is New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Jonathan Capehart, columnist for The Washington Post.
Very good to see both of you.
Let me just start right off the bat, Jonathan.
AP, 11 reporters, they spent months working on this.
They talked to 300-some-odd election officials.
Not even close to a chance that there was an election -- would have been a change in the election result.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right.
And I loved how she emphasized 475 potential cases of voter fraud out of millions of votes cast.
And what that says is that this is more evidence that the big lie is indeed the big lie.
There was no massive voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Even the person who was in charge of election security in the Trump administration said that this -- that the 2020 election was the safest in American history.
And so what this -- whether this makes a difference, I don't know, but I do -- in the short term.
But I do know, in the long term and for history's sakes, it is good to have yet another -- more evidence that there was no voter fraud.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And it is -- David, as Jonathan is saying, there's been one look after another, investigation.
The evidence is just not there.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes.
And I don't think it will make much different.
One thing we have learned is, if you fact-check people, they dig in and they believe their wrong belief more strongly.
And that's just the fundamental problem here.
There's a Brookings Institute scholar, Jonathan Rauch, who has a phrase, the constitution of knowledge.
How does knowledge get created in society?
We think about our U.S. Constitution, which is set of laws.
But we have an informal system that creates knowledge.
And we're -- we in the media are part of it, checking things out, experts, the academy, all sorts of institutions who obey by a certain set of rules, that any hypothesis can be tested.
We will check each other out to make sure whether we're right or wrong.
We will have a big argument, and we will slowly build up knowledge.
And that reporting is part of that constitution.
Lots of Americans, millions and millions and millions of Americans, have simply opted out of it.
They simply don't trust the constitution of knowledge.
And, therefore, they're not part of the democratic regime.
They're not part of building up the regime.
But it's still important to do what the AP reporters did to keep the constitution of knowledge going and hope that some emotional or intellectual or some shift, so people will say, yes, those people are reliable.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And for historical purposes, as you were saying.
So, in connection with this, to a degree, the House select committee looking into the January 6 attack on the Capitol, which was all about not believing the election results, Jonathan, this week, we had an interesting development.
Mark Meadows, who was going to cooperate, then said, I'm not going to cooperate.
The House then voted to say he's -- to find him in contempt of Congress.
But, in the process, he did turn over documents.
We learned these text messages that show members of Congress, FOX News anchors were urging President Trump to do something to stop the mob.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: It seems as though Mark Meadows was trying to have it both ways, trying to cooperate, but then, once his book earned the ire of the former president, tried to backtrack.
But, by the time, he backtracked he had handed over thousands of documents.
And that's how we know about these text messages.
That's how we know about the urgent pleas for help from members of Congress, from FOX News, personalities and so on.
These are all things that had been reported at the time.
It's not like we are learning anything new.
But what I caution people against is thinking, because this is - - oh, we knew this already or this isn't anything new, to remember that to actually have a text message with a time stamp and a name attached to it in a legal proceeding is vital.
It is paramount.
And it goes from being a story that's a -- you know, an unnamed source to, no, this was a text message to Mark Meadows from fill in the blank member of Congress.
We need help, and this -- and it was sent at this time.
I think that this 1,000-piece crossword -- 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of the ocean that the January 6 Select Committee has been working on after the last two weeks, to me, it seems like we're at 980 of those pieces put in place.
They know a whole lot more than we know.
But what we found out last week, this particular -- this week in particular, has been stunning and fascinating.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We do know some more.
We don't know the whole story, David, but how much difference is this going to make, do you think?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, we do know some more.
I'm struck they brought Mark Meadows -- they cited him for contempt, because he was a member of Congress.
He was a member the House for eight years, and they all know him.
And so they're unlikely -- unlikely that that happens.
But it shows how seriously they're taking this.
We learned, for sure, that the White House absolutely knew what was going on every second on January 6.
And we know Meadows was sort of the like -- as chief of staffs tend to be, he's sort of at the nexus it of, of all of all the messages.
And he's playing an interesting role here, just as character analysis.
Everyone at that time was called upon to either stand up for democracy or not.
And Mike Pence, to his great credit, stood up for the democracy.
Earlier, Bill Barr, the attorney general, stood up.
Meadows was like halfway.
He was saying, "Yes, I support you" to people who were outside, but it seems, in the rooms with Trump, he was more or less doing whatever the president told him to do.
And so he is sort of like not leading the insurrection, but not stopping it.
And history is filled with people who took that route.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will see where it goes from here, now that he's -- whether the Justice Department decides to proceed to charge him.
So, now to -- I have to ask you about where Congress is, as we get ready for the Christmas holiday, Jonathan, and Lisa Desjardins reporting on it earlier.
Democrats are about to go into next week with no Build Back Better.
Big disappointment for them.
Should they have not promised that it was going to get done in 2021?
(LAUGHTER) JONATHAN CAPEHART: Short answer, yes, they shouldn't have promised.
But, again, as we have talked about around this table for months, the reason why Democrats had been pushing like crazy to get Build Back - - first, bipartisan infrastructure, then Build Back Better done by the end of calendar year 2021 is because everyone assumes that, by 2022, nothing is going to get done because of the midterm elections.
Congress is always making these deadlines for itself, artificial deadlines.
And then, when they blow past them, everyone's disappointed or people say that it's a failure.
I think Democrats, as long as the reconciliation authorization is still there, and from what I understand, it hangs in there through the fiscal year, which means... JUDY WOODRUFF: The legislative framework.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: The legislative framework - - that, if this bleeds over into January, February, not ideal, but if they actually get it done, then that will be a victory.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Can they do it?
DAVID BROOKS: Sure.
I still sort of bet on them.
But I'm beginning to have some doubts.
(LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: We're going to get new inflation numbers in the middle of January or so.
That - - if it gets even higher than it is now, that will really make it a lot harder, because Joe Manchin is really concerned about inflation and federal spending boosting that.
I think -- in retrospect, I think they were right to try to be FDR, try to do something big, there are a lot of problems in this country, and try to address them.
Having seen that, Joe Manchin has been utterly consistent.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Yes.
DAVID BROOKS: And he's just said what he meant.
And it's been clear.
If people would take him seriously, they'd say, OK, that's what we got to live with.
These are our constraints.
How do we deal with -- we're not going to get the New Deal?
How do we deal with plan B?
And so what they did, they decided to keep every little aspect of the bill, but shrink it down and make it temporary.
I think it would have been smart of them just to pick a few things and say, we're going to have a child thing, where we're going to have child tax credits, early childhood education, community college.
That's what we're going to do.
That's what the country needs right now.
I think Manchin would have had a much easier time seeing -- and the public would have had an easier time saying, this is what that's about.
But they decided that we want to keep all of our constituencies happy a little.
And I think it's made it harder to pass.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Is that what's gone wrong here, do you think?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Yes, I'm hard-pressed to disagree with David here.
There's Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, who is one of the moderates.
That had been her argument from the very beginning.
Let's do a few things, and let's do it -- let's do them well, and there are any number of things to choose from.
And who knows.
Maybe come 2022, if it bleeds over into 2022, that that's the route that they go in.
But they have to get something done.
JUDY WOODRUFF: I mean, but David raised child tax credits.
I mean, those expire.
The current tax credits expire at the end of December.
A lot of people are going to be left without assistance that they desperately need.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And I'm glad you brought that up, because I -- sorry, but I forgot about that.
If there is a forcing mechanism to get something done before the end of this calendar year, that could be it.
But that means you're putting - - you're depending on the Senate to actually do something.
And, as we have seen, they don't do stuff when you want them to.
DAVID BROOKS: Even if it does pass, it still gets extended by another year.
And so they just be -- be set to expire.
And they do that to keep the budget seem reasonable.
And their assumption is that, once it's in there, people -- voters will demand you keep it forever.
I'm not so sure.
I love the child tax credit.
It's not as popular as I think it should be.
Voters are a lot like, well, we don't want that much spending.
So it could -- either this December next December, it could just go away, which would be a tragedy, because it really is a very effective child poverty program.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But what about the role of Joe Manchin?
I mean, David brought up that he has some legitimate concerns, but he's also integral to what's going on with voting rights.
I mean, Democrats have said this is a priority.
But he's saying no, Kyrsten Sinema too.
What about the role that he plays?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, OK, so Senator Manchin is unbelievably frustrating when it comes to Build Back Better.
Yes, he's been consistent, but he's been unbelievably frustrating.
Yet, when it comes to voting rights, to my mind, he's been a little less frustrating, because, at least on that, he has been trying to shepherd the bill through.
I mean, I think, three times, they have had a bite at the Apple trying to get a vote to even just bring the bill to the floor for a debate.
And it's gone down.
But that's because Joe Manchin has -- like, here's the bill.
Here's the proposal.
The problem, though, is the filibuster.
And correct me if I'm wrong, David.
I thought there were signals this week from Manchin that he might be amenable to some rule changes.
The problem then becomes not Joe Manchin when it comes to voting rights.
Kyrsten Sinema, senator from Arizona, who came out earlier this week, and just said once again, no, I'm not interested in changing the filibuster.
And if you don't do that in any form, voting rights isn't going anywhere.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And what's at stake if it doesn't happen, David, in a minute?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, I mean, all the state - - I mean, the worst scenario is state legislators around the country, Republican ones, take over elections away from public servants.
And then -- this is what we talked about last week.
Then who knows what happens in 2024 if that process gets hyper-politicized.
So that's the nightmare scenario.
Will Manchin budge?
I sort of think not.
There are a lot of signals and countersignals than ever come out of his mouth.
One thing he should agree to is, if you're going to filibuster, you have to actually be on the floor talking.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right.
DAVID BROOKS: And that would make the filibuster at least a little harder.
And it wouldn't ruin the filibuster or reform it.
It would actually make it really a filibuster.
And so I'd love to see that little reform - - him and Sinema endorse that one.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We never have a filibuster here.
That's for sure.
(LAUGHTER) JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Jonathan Capehart, thank you both.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thanks, Judy.
DAVID BROOKS: Thanks you.
JUDY WOODRUFF: When the Grammy nominees were announced recently, there was Brandi Carlile with five nominations, including record and song of the year, heady stuff and now almost expected for this star of American roots and country music.
But not so long ago, things were quite different.
Jeffrey Brown met Carlile in Seattle for our arts and culture series, Canvas.
JEFFREY BROWN: Brandi Carlile calls her new record, "In These Silent Days," a pandemic album born from a time of isolation with family at her rural home an hour outside Seattle, a time to stop and reflect on her climb to stardom and where it began, in places like Seattle's Paragon restaurant and bar.
BRANDI CARLILE, Musician: I remember coming in here right around this time of day, when I knew I could talk to the manager, and it wouldn't be too busy.
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes.
BRANDI CARLILE: And I said, hey, I have got a P.A.
system and a guitar player.
And if you give me -- like, maybe we will start at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday nights, we will do it for free for a month.
And if, a month later, you have seen that you have an uptick on Sunday nights, then you can start paying me or feeding us, or... JEFFREY BROWN: You might consider paying me?
BRANDI CARLILE: Yes, yes.
JEFFREY BROWN: Gigs at local Seattle spots were the norm for years, along with busking for tips at the famed Pike Place Market, the hardworking life of a very hard-working musician trying to make it.
BRANDI CARLILE: I was really interested in things like printing and hanging posters and busking and stopping people on the street and handing them a pamphlet and telling them about the show.
It's a city that sort of rewards that and values that.
JEFFREY BROWN: I got in last night, and I was taking a walk, and I saw somebody hammering their poster into a... BRANDI CARLILE: You did, still?
JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, I did.
BRANDI CARLILE: Yes.
Still got it.
Seattle's still got it.
JEFFREY BROWN: That was you, huh?
(LAUGHTER) BRANDI CARLILE: That was absolutely me.
JEFFREY BROWN: Her stunning performance at the 2019 Grammy's of "The Joke," a ballad to those who feel marginalized, brought her national attention.
Now 40, Carlile told her own coming-of-age story in a recent memoir titled "Broken Horses," about growing up poor in rural Washington state, moving from place to place, her father's battles with alcoholism, her mother's aspirations to be a country singer.
A self-described misfit, Carlile writes of being gay in a community with few role models and a church that didn't accept her.
From the beginning, though, she says, addicted to performing.
BRANDI CARLILE: Well, it's easy to get addicted to performing, because it's quite an adrenaline rush, you know?
I would say that it was something that I experienced so young that I just always wanted to do it.
I wanted to do it.
I wanted to feel understood and seen.
JEFFREY BROWN: Did you feel misunderstood and unseen?
BRANDI CARLILE: No, not for the most part, but I felt like I chose those moments to reveal myself.
JEFFREY BROWN: Her musical collaborators and soul mates, identical twins Phil and Tim Hanseroth, Phil on bass and Tim on guitar.
They traveled for years in an old van now permanently parked outside Easy Street Records, another Seattle music landmark where Carlile took us to browse the bins of her heroes, some of whom have become close friends, like Elton John.
You wrote in your book about how you wanted nothing more in life than to be Elton John, it sounds like, when you were a real little girl.
BRANDI CARLILE: Yes.
I fell in love with him when I was like 11 years old.
And he was just such a magical beast to me, that I felt a kinship to him.
JEFFREY BROWN: What's kind of cool, I imagine, is now you're right across from him.
BRANDI CARLILE: I know.
Actually, when you put it that way, it's utterly surreal.
(LAUGHTER) JEFFREY BROWN: Yes, is it?
BRANDI CARLILE: Yes, it's very surreal.
JEFFREY BROWN: I mean, these bins, like, these record store bins that you come to as a young music fan, and you flip through, you dream about seeing yourself there.
I thought it'd be C.D.s.
But what did I know?
(LAUGHTER) JEFFREY BROWN: What she did somehow know for certain is that she would make it, even if that took longer than she'd hoped.
She writes of being 15 years into her career before receiving a first Grammy nomination.
And only later did she come to see how gender and sexual orientation could be barriers to success.
BRANDI CARLILE: I definitely am still having to overcome it, and I definitely had to overcome it.
I wasn't paying much attention, because I was in a state for a long time of just euphoria that these dreams would come true, and these things are happening in my life, not knowing that it could still have been bigger and better, and that it indeed was bigger and better for my male counterparts.
JEFFREY BROWN: It's been particularly true, she says, in her world of country and American roots music.
BRANDI CARLILE: I chose that album cover.
JEFFREY BROWN: That's pretty good.
She points to another musician who would become a friend, Tanya Tucker.
In 2019, Carlile co-produced a critically-acclaimed comeback album with Tucker decades after Tucker had fallen from favor for an outlaw image for which her male counterparts in the 1970s were celebrated.
BRANDI CARLILE: It made me realize that there are just two very different lanes for women and men, particularly in roots music.
Now, forget BIPOC or LGBTIQA+ people.
There's not even a lane.
I knew I wanted to get involved in that, because it's really challenging, and it made me feel like I felt as a kid in church.
Like, I don't belong here, and that's why I'm going to stay.
It's an act of defiance.
JEFFREY BROWN: Seems to be changing a little, perhaps?
I don't know.
What's your impression?
BRANDI CARLILE: Yes, it's changing in the tributaries.
It's changing on the edges, in Americana, folk, roots, bluegrass.
There's still a giant metallic steel door shut to country.
But we will see.
Somebody's going to get that thing opened.
And, when they do, we're all going to come running in.
(LAUGHTER) JEFFREY BROWN: Today, Carlile and her wife, Catherine, are parents to two daughters.
She's part of a country super group called The Highwomen formed in 2019. and she speaks up as she sees necessary, including with the recent Grammy nominations.
She expressed gratitude, but also wondered aloud why her song "Right on Time" was shifted to a pop performance category, rather than country or Americana, where she sees herself.
BRANDI CARLILE: I think a lot of queer people are cognizant of, if not sensitive to being disenfranchised.
And the thing that makes that poignant is that there's so many American roots people, there's so many rural people in this country, people that live in not downtown Seattle that are so systemically rejected by the correlating culture.
Country music, roots music has a vortex.
It has a culture.
And there are country queers.
And they need to see acceptance and affirmation in those places, you know?
JEFFREY BROWN: For now, Brandi Carlile awaits the Grammy Awards ceremony and plans to take her pandemic era album, "In These Silent Days," on tour, pandemic allowing, in the spring of next year.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown in Seattle.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Such terrific music.
And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
Join us online and again here Monday evening.
For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and have a good weekend.