coronavirus fight TRANSCRIPT: 5/1/20, All in w/ Chris Hayes
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thanks for being with
us. And don`t go anywhere “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes is up next.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. It`s
May 1st today, begins a yet another month of this pandemic with yet another
month behind us utterly wasted by the Trump administration. Now, I should
be clear here, not wasted by us the American people who have with a truly
inspiring degree of unity of purpose, completely and totally upended our
lives a tremendous sacrifice to collectively by our government the time to
put in place the necessary elements to start to reopen, to get back to some
kind of normal wall crucially keeping the virus under control.
And the government, the federal government, the Trump administration has
squandered it. Nothing better represents this than these simple facts.
Listen to this, OK. We cannot test members of the U.S. Senate. The Daily
Beast reports this late into the pandemic. The Capitol`s attending
physician inform top Republican officials yesterday his office lacked the
capacity to test all 100 senators for coronavirus, and that they test they
didn`t possess could take two or more days to process.
If you are thinking yourself, 100 senators don`t seem like that many in the
grand scheme of things are correct. And they are arguably some of the most
important people in the United States because we need them to legislate
amidst this crisis, but they are not getting tested. That is where we are
on May 1st, more than two months into this.
Here`s another look at how utterly unprepared the federal government is and
how they completely ignored and botched the necessary and difficult steps
the virus – to control the virus and prepare the country reopen. Jeremy
Konyndyk who led the Obama administration`s humanitarian responses the
Ebola epidemic in West Africa points out, “Testing has been stuck as well.
After surging in March, growth slowed in April. Antibody surveys suggest
we`re only finding less than one in 10 cases.”
I should tell you, Jeremy will be joining us in just a few minutes to
discuss this. But testing which I should say spiked somewhat promisingly
today, one day, has over the past month basically plateaued. I mean, one
thing that comes through on this chart from the Financial Times is that
every other country in the world, at least niche reporting data, which
again, grain of salt there, has really started to bend the curve down of
new confirmed cases, and we have not.
Look at us up there. Italy, Spain, France, all very hard hit, they have
turned the corner with the number of confirmed cases, new confirmed cases
now in decline. And then look at us, the U.S., all the way at the top in
pink. It just jumps out at you as such an outlier. Everyone else seems to
have hit an inflection point where new daily confirmed cases are starting
to go down and we here in the U.S. are just cruising along at around 30,000
new cases a day.
And the American people, this is really interesting, across the political
divide, they recognize the failure of the Trump administration, of the
Trump White House, because every state governor, literally everyone,
liberal, conservative, moderate, Democrat, Republican, people reopening
quickly, people reopening slowly, they are all doing better than Trump in
their approval rating for their handling of the virus, every single one.
What a stunning state of affairs.
So here`s where we find ourselves. We now have a White House that wasn`t
true choice or just through sheer incompetence, it`s hard to tell, has now
arrived as of this May 1st, two months into this, at a national policy
essentially to sacrifice human lives to the virus to get the economy going.
Now, that is a view that some Republicans have explicitly articulated
throughout this process. You might remember Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson
who basically advocated for this when he said the Coronavirus may kill no
more than 3.4 percent of our population, so why do we have to close
Now that of course, that`s more than 11 million people. It would be the
worst plague on the continent since much of the indigenous population was
wiped out due to European disease. And you heard a similar sentiment from
Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick, who, in his defense just came out
and said it, that there are more important things than living.
Conservative voices have been out there saying I don`t care about your
frontline health care workers, or your grandmother in a nursing home, or
the bus drivers. I don`t care if those people die. I want my economy back.
And right now, we have the worst reported death toll in the world in
absolute terms. We continue to lose almost 2,000 people a day. We see
30,000 new confirmed cases every day. And that`s not coming down. It`s not
getting better yet, or at least not getting better as quickly as it needs
to get better.
And the Trump administration by again design or through sheer incompetence
has arrived at this policy of giving up on saving tens of thousands of
lives. Now we, the American people are going to be sacrificed on the altar
of their decision. Here with me now, Jeremy Konyndyk, the former director
of USAID`s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, a senior policy
fellow at the Center for Global Development.
Jeremy, as I say these words, they sound harsh, but I don`t – again, I
don`t know if this is the intent or incompetence but with the month that we
have essentially lost here, we are now faced with the choice of continue to
shelter in place which has its own cost or open up and just damn the
consequences which are going to be bad. Is that fair?
JEREMY KONYNDYK, SENIOR POLICY FELLOW, CENTER FOR GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT: I
think that`s fair. You know, we need a third option, but if we want that
third option, we have to build it. It`s not going to just organically
present itself. So until we begin building it – and that third option is
one we`ve known about for a long time.
You know, Trump`s former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, and colleagues
from Johns Hopkins, including Caitlin Rivers and some others wrote a great
piece at the end of March, laying out the plan. Others have written about
it, I`ve written about it. Ashish Jha who you`ve had in the program has
written about it. You know, it`s test, trace, isolate, and protect high-
risk people. It`s not rocket science.
We basically know what we need to do, but we don`t right now have the
infrastructure to do it. We have to build it.
HAYES: But I feel like I`m trapped in a bad version of Groundhog`s Day, I
mean, for a bunch of reasons for the pandemic. But we`ve been saying this
on this program, you`ve been saying it, others have been saying on this
program for five or six weeks, I mean – and what your tweet thread laid
out is that they just haven`t, the federal government has not done what it
needs to do to build that. Is that a fair assessment?
KONYNDYK: That`s absolutely a fair assessment. If you look at the reopening
the country plan that the White House rolled out, now it`s been a few
weeks, it puts everything on the states. It lays out nothing that is a
federal responsibility apart from basically telling the states what to do.
And we`re not going to win that way.
We have the CDC for a reason. We have FEMA for a reason. We have the
Defense Production Act, and it gives authority to the President, not the
governors, for a reason. We have never in the history of this country in
history of pandemic or anything in this country assumed that the federal
government would remain basically on the sidelines.
And it is – well, I won`t say it`s puzzling, because I think I understand
what the President`s political calculus here is, but I think we should be
really clear that he went to driving it is not a public health calculus,
it`s a political calculus. It`s a desire by the president to avoid being on
the hook for any of the hard jobs and to leave those to the governors.
HAYES: You know, we just put a graph up that showed the sort of difference
between what`s happening in New York and the rest of the country. And I
think that`s important because it points to what`s different about our
outbreak here. We have both an intensely localized devastating outbreak
around New York similar to Wuhan, or Lombardi, or Madrid, the worst hit
areas. And then also, as you can see there on that – illustrated in that
chart, very bad outbreaks in another number of other places in varying
intensity. And that presents a kind of unique challenge and also a federal
response for precisely that reason, right?
KONYNDYK: Absolutely. You know, the best metaphor and it`s a little off-
color so apologies, but you know, you don`t have a pink section and a
swimming pool. We can`t just have you know, a good response in some places
and a bad response in other places. That means we have a bad response
everywhere because New York is not safe until everywhere else is safe.
Everywhere else is not safe until you know all of their neighbors are safe.
I have family in Michigan. I can`t go see them for you know, who knows how
long. They can`t come see me for who knows how long because this is a
nationwide problem. It`s not something where once Maryland gets the house
in order, you know, we can all go wherever we want. You know, we have to
defeat this as a country.
And so yes, the dynamics are localized, and we`ll see different places peak
at different times. But as long as we have susceptible people anywhere in
the country, and there`s still a lot of them, we`re at risk until this is
HAYES: And suppression is really the key. That`s the thing the White House
federal government has failed to act on in this – in this last month. And
now, we have a situation like in Texas. You know, Texas is about to reopen,
their cases are still rising. I mean, this is – you know, it`s one thing
that the CDC recommends, the Trump administration`s own guidelines tell the
states 14 days of declining cases. This is Texas reopening with the cases
I mean, that is a recipe – again, I`m not a public health expert, but I`ve
been talking to a lot of them now for two months. That Seems a recipe for a
really bad outbreak.
KONYNDYK: You know, we have now cases everywhere and transmission
everywhere in this country and it`s not suppressed effectively anywhere.
You know, what we have seen during this period of national lockdown and
shelter in place is that, you know, we have some parts of society that have
been able to protect themselves.
If you have a job that you can do from home, if you`re really reasonably
well off, you can protect yourself. If you`re not, if you are at a job that
you still have to go to, if you`re in a job where you are not safe from
transmission of the virus, like say you work in a meatpacking facility, if
you live in prison, if you are in a detention center or a shelter or an
elder care facility, if you cannot socially distance and that`s where we`re
seeing the outbreaks.
And so, you know, what that tells us is as soon as we begin lifting the
protective measures that are protecting all of the other people from
getting it, we`re going to be – you know, we`re all going to be working
that same meatpacking plant in effect.
HAYES: Jeremy Konyndyk whose work on this has been really vital throughout,
thank you so much for taking the time.
KONYNDYK: My pleasure. Thanks.
HAYES: I`d like to turn now to Heather McGhee, a distinguished senior
fellow at the progressive think tank Demos and NBC News Political Analyst.
And Heather, you were just on my podcast last week and we were talking
about some of these related issues, and I can`t help but feel that as it
has become clearer and clearer the disproportionate effects of the illness,
the old, the sick, the poor, the incarcerated, that the calculation of the
value of the life versus opening up the economy has shifted in the minds of
HEATHER MCGHEE, NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that there`s been a
calculated effort to try to divide the American people at a moment when our
instinct has been from day one to surge into a sense of solidarity that
frankly, I`ve certainly never seen in my lifetime. But we`ve all been
willing in one way or another to put our lives on hold or to put our lives
at risk to protect (AUDIO GAP) to protect our neighbors and to protect the
And now you see what is frankly funded by the same billionaire network that
has brought us the Tea Party making a different narrative, which is let us
sacrifice the weak, which is actually what a poster said in a protest, and
let us let the frontline and essential workers who are disproportionately
women and people of color, bear the brunt of reopening the economy, which I
will just say is, by the way, a false choice.
If we haven`t controlled this virus, we don`t have an economy to return to.
You can open up all the restaurants you want, but if people are worried
that they`re going to die because they go to them, that restaurant owner is
not going to be in business for very long.
HAYES: Yes. The polling here is really interesting. And again, I think your
first point, I just want to hang a lantern on that for a moment, which is
that it is amazing that Americans have done this. I mean, when you look at
the almost unfathomable behavioral changes, you know, with obviously,
partly that`s ordered by the government, but partly it`s everyone just
doing their share, it is an incredible collective undertaking, the American
people have undertaken as citizens, as civil society, to look out for each
other`s health, across lines of race and ethnicity and class and religion
and political disposition. Like that`s been an incredible thing. We, we
need – we need the government to do its part of the job here, and they`re
just not doing it.
MCGHEE: That`s right. There have been people who have done extraordinary
things. Tens of thousands of people who were not practicing medicine
anymore who went from places where they were not at risk and signed up to
go to New York City to be on the front lines. You`ve got daycare centers
that are staying open just to take care of the children of nurses.
And I want to say again that the people who are seen as essential workers
right now, who are basically knitting together this country with their
labor are most likely to be immigrants, people of color, and women. The
same people who`ve been fighting for $15 an hour. The same people who today
are on strike Instacart workers, Target, Whole Foods, Amazon. Tens of
thousands of people who said, we need hazard pay, we need an essential
worker`s Bill of Rights like Elizabeth Warren and Ro Khanna have
introduced, basic things, actual protection, hazard pay, paid sick leave,
and health care.
This choice of watching Americans struggle to put food on their plates
versus being able to reopen the economy is a false one. We could be wiring
all American bank accounts of working in middle-class people $2,000 a month
automatically. We could be enrolling people automatically onto Medicare. We
could be canceling rent and mortgage payments and student debt payments.
This shelter in place doesn`t have to be this economic strain.
It is a strain because people who don`t care about the American people have
been in charge way too long and have gutted our social safety nets are in
and are in charge with the United States Senate and the White House today.
HAYES: Final point on the – on the sort of divisions and public opinion
about this. I thought this is very interesting. Jim Tankersley at The Times
tweeted about a polling firm that had looked at Americans who oppose
lockdowns that just over five percent of those who oppose lockdowns are
non-white workers who have personally lost a job in the crisis, right?
People extremely exposed to economic disruption. Under 70 percent, just
under 70 percent are white workers who have not lost a job in the crisis,
which gives you a little bit of an indication about what`s going on in
terms of what we`re really talking about here when we`re talking about,
MCGHEE: Because what`s happening is that white Americans who are, you know,
really in the Conservative News bubble have been taught that there`s sort
of no such thing as society if that society is a multiracial society. And
so, greed is good. The desire to just spend money is actually a paramount
And so there`s not a sense that people are willing to sacrifice for their
neighbor, particularly if that neighbor is not in the same cul de sac as
them. That is a message that has been drilled into people in a conservative
ecosystem. And fortunately, that`s still the minority of the country. 70
percent of Americans overall support the shelter at home policies.
HAYES: Yes. And that – and that is a triumph of solidarity that continues
on this Mayday. Heather McGhee, it is always great to talk to you. Thank
you so much for your time tonight.
Coming up the alarming coronavirus outbreaks in places where the people in
charge pretend the disease just doesn`t exist. We`ll talk about where those
outbreaks are and what`s happening there right after this.
HAYES: Certain voices, some of them quite prominent, pushing to just reopen
the country, want to pretend as if the coronavirus just does not exist,
that we should reopen and get on with our lives and forge ahead. And
there`s a question I guess about, well, what would that look like, right,
if you just pretended it didn`t exist? And guess what? We have an answer.
It`s called the nation`s meatpacking facilities.
By and large, these facilities have continued to operate in the main as if
nothing is happening outside of there in the world with the virus.
Employees working shoulder to shoulder for hours and hours, day after day.
My colleague Rachel Maddow has done some absolutely incredible, incredible
reporting on how these plants have become coronavirus hotspots.
And today, the Centers for Disease Control released a new report on just
how dire the situation is. It shows that meatpacking plants are among the
biggest coronavirus clusters around the country with 115 facilities across
19 states affected by the virus, nearly 5,000 workers are infected. Those
are the ones we`ve detected. That`s about three percent of the workforce
across those facilities. Again, that we`ve detected. That is something
workers and those advocating for them are really concerned about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KISHAWN HALL, EMPLOYEE, PERDUE FARMS: I look around, over 1,700 people.
That isn`t safe at all.
JOE HENRY, LULAC IOWA COUNCIL: These workers are very afraid. I mean, I`m
getting phone calls all the time. All our activists are getting phone
calls. Workers don`t know what to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And what`s going on in meatpacking facilities is just part of what
we`re learning increasingly about the virus which is this. The highest risk
situations are enclosed spaces in type quarter for sustained amount of
time, All right. So in addition to meatpacking plants the CDC reports to –
report points to long term care facilities, places like nursing homes and
psychiatric hospital and as we have been saying on the show for months,
correctional facilities, jails and prisons.
In fact, the New York Times found that the top ten coronavirus clusters in
the country include naval aircraft carrier, prisons, and meatpacking
plants. That`s the whole top ten. Joining me now is Alexis Madrigal, a
staff writer at the Atlantic who has been covering the outbreak and co-
founded the COVID Tracking Project, which is a vital essential collection
of state by state reported data on testing and positive, rates like that on
Alexis, it`s great to have you on. I want to ask you if between your work
on the Tracking Project and what we`re learning about where the biggest
clusters are, what that means about where we are in that – in this – in
the outbreak in the U.S.?
ALEXIS MADRIGAL, STAFF WRITER, “THE ATLANTIC”: Yes, I think by the numbers,
it just means we`re in a new phase of the outbreak. You know, people have
been talking about first wave, second wave, we`re kind of seeing this mini-
wave right now, where, you know, in the initial stages, you saw major metro
areas with major links to international travel, that were that were really
And now we`re seeing a second wave, you know, that I think, is epitomized
by the meatpacking industry. You`ve got really high-risk workplace
situations. You know, I was listening to an agribusiness guy from
University of Illinois and called the workplace conditions at packing
plants the opposite of social distancing. And that`s really where we`re
seeing these outbreaks. And I think it really just speaks to where we`re in
a new moment of this outbreak and It probably requires different kinds of
HAYES: What do you mean by that in terms of – in terms of how we test and
target and what we do in those sorts of facilities?
MADRIGAL: Yes. I mean, you know, if you have a big outbreak in New York,
you can start testing last few, you can bring on the resources of these
large states and rich areas. If you`ve got an outbreak at a Smithfield
plant or got an outbreak at JBS, Cargill, Tyson, the other big meatpacking
plants, you`re going to have to test through the company.
And I think that`s one of the big things that`s going to change. You`re
going to see a lot of testing of these workers. And I think they`re
probably already trying to figure out how to do that right now because we
know that they`re going to be kept open. This is sort of part of President
Trump`s plan and it`s part of sort of trying to keep the food system as
stable as possible.
HAYES: Yes, I mean, the other – the other areas we keep saying are prisons
which have been bad from the beginning and are intensifying, and eldercare
facilities which again, you know, these are all three – all three of those
have in common along with a naval ship that is inside close quarters
sustained periods of time.
There was this amazing graphic of one South Korean call center, which was
shown on the show before, just gives you a sense of like what we know about
the highest, most dangerous kinds of environments for transmissions as a
call center. You can see all the people on the top there in blue are the
ones that got the virus. It seems to me that thinking hard about what you
do in those situations is really key right now.
MADRIGAL: Yes, that`s absolutely right. And I think, you know, one thing we
know is that the air handling systems have tended to be really important.
You know, like in that graphic that you saw, it`s basically people who are
all in the path of the air conditioning. And I think, you know, it also
speaks to the fact that we are learning so many new things about this
virus, and we`re learning so many things about the ways that it`s
And because the U.S. is in fact of leading example of a country that`s been
hit really hard, we find ourselves in a position to learn a lot about the
way that we are both going to be affected by this virus and also the way
that we`re going to – we`re going to fight it. And I think in these group
settings, one of the things that`s going to be really important is a
technical group asset. And it`s been done a lot for HIV AIDS, where you`re
able to sort of use a smaller amount of test materials and group people
together to get more out of fewer tests, but still test a lot, lot, lot of
Because at the end of the day, if you want to keep these meatpacking places
open, you`re going to have to basically test those people every day. And
right now, we can`t really do that, but we`re going to need to.
HAYES: Yeah, that point about testing – that in these environments, if
you`re going to have a nursing care facility, or you`re going to have
people in prison, or you`re going to have them be packing plant, the only
way out is constant repeated testing so that you can find it immediately
and isolate immediately. There`s no way around that and we don`t have the
capacity right now. Alexis Madrigal who`s been doing amazing work in
tracking what our testing capacity is and is not, thank you so much,
Still to come, why is the president siding with an armed militia storming
the Michigan State Capitol? One of the lawmakers inside the chamber
describes the scene ahead.
HAYES: This morning, the former vice president, and apparent Democratic
nominee, Joe Biden appeared here on MSNBC on Morning Joe where for the
first time he responded to a sexual assault allegation made by a former
senate staffer named Tara Reade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC: Would you please go on the record with the American
Did you sexual assault Tara Reade?
BIDEN: No, it is not true. I`m saying unequivocally, it never, never
happened, and it didn`t. It never happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: When we covered this story earlier this week, a few days ago, Joe
Biden had not addressed these allegations. Today, as you saw, he did. It
was his first time directly responding to them on the record.
A lot of people were unhappy with the fact that we even covered the story,
which is why you may have seen the #firechrishayes trending on Twitter most
of the day yesterday. Needless to say, I received a lot of feedback about
the segment, which basically fell into three categories. The first category
were people who basically said, I don`t believe Tara Reade, I believe Joe
Biden based on their assessment of the actual verifiable facts of the
story, such that we have them.
And they pointed out, as we did when we covered this the other day, that
her story has changed quite considerably.
A year ago, she told a California newspaper that in 1993, Joe Biden touched
her several times making her feel uncomfortable. And then back in March,
she made a much more serious allegation claiming that in 1993 then Senator
Biden sexually assaulted her, penetrating her with his fingers under her
skirt. Biden denies that accusation, as you saw, specifically responded to
Tara Reade also claims that she complained to three other people who worked
in Biden`s senate office at the time when she was there about harassment,
not assault. And then all three Biden staffers, who have been contacted by
reporters, they all say no such complaint was made.
Biden`s then executive assistant was vehement in her denial, quote, “I
never once witnessed or heard of or received any reports of inappropriate
conduct, period. Not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone. I have absolutely no
knowledge or memory of Ms. Reade`s accounting of events, which would have
left a searing impression on me as a woman professional and as a manager.”
The people that fall into category one say that the weight of those three
people, those three staffers, plus Joe Biden, long record of public life,
against what Tara Reade says about what happened at the time, leads them to
conclude that she is not telling the truth.
Now the second set of responses I got was from people who fall into the I
don`t care category, some of them even use the phrase, we`re in the midst
of a national nightmare, the worst disaster in generations, and we just
need to get rid of Donald Trump.
Now, that is not the way that I think about analyzing this particular
story, but it`s an honest expression of how some view the trade off and the
And then the third category, which I got a lot of, was the one that was the
most disquieting to me, which is a whole lot of people pointing to various
aspects of Reade`s character or her writings or her politics as a kind of
proof that she`s not credible, that she`s making it up. Oh, she didn`t
report this sooner, or she said nice things about Joe Biden, her former
boss at one point, so how could he have assaulted her, or she supported
candidate Bernie Sanders so clearly this was just a political hit job, or
said things that people find strange on social media, and on and on, much
of it adding up to you just can`t trust this woman.
Now these are the kinds of things that have been used forever against women
making these types of allegations. And to me, the lesson of the #metoo
movement is not that you believe every allegation, of course not, no, the
lesson is to take allegations seriously, to swiftly investigate the facts
surrounding them, as best as one can while leaving aside the worst age old
instincts to drag the women who make those claims through the mud.
HAYES: We`ve lost more than 64,000 of our fellow Americans to this plague,
and we are trying to make time here on this show at least once a week to
just take a moment to honor and mourn just a few of the people that we
Like Valentina Blackhorse, who is just 28 when she succumbed to the virus.
The winner of numerous Navajo pageants, she was raising a 1-year-old
daughter. Her sister said she aspired to one day become president of the
Steven Chang was born in China. He moved to New York City as a teenager,
eventually going to work in the restaurant business. His son Roger, who is
a teacher in Detroit, said his dad knew how to enjoy the simple things,
cooking and gardening, and planing mahjong, it was just so easy to be with
him,r roger said. You can show up and how you were and you just felt like
he`d love you no matter what. Steven Chang passed away from the virus last
week. He was 75-years-old.
Kevin Hooker grew up on a family farm in Illinois during the Great
Depression, of 10 children. A devoted family man, he passed away Sunday
just 10 days after his beloved wife Sammy succumbed to COVID-19. The couple
had recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. They are survived
by a large and loving family, including his granddaughter, Amy, who is a
talented producer here at All
Mary Jane York Taggart (ph) was 88 when she lost her battle to COVID-19 on
Tuesday. She came to Pennsylvania from Massachusetts more than 50 years ago
where she worked for the Sears and Roebuck company until retirement. No one
who ever met Aunt Jane would soon forget her boundless spirit or her tipsy
singing, least of all her extended family, which includes our own executive
producer Dennis Horgan (ph).
Sonia Hernandez (ph) came to the U.S. from Colombia in 1977 to find the
American dream and she met her husband Eddie and lived with him in Brooklyn
where they were superintendents beloved by all the residents in their
building and where they raised two successful college educated sons.
Now, I personally got to meet Sonia (ph) and Eddie when my wife Kate and I
first moved to their building in Brooklyn, and when we moved back to New
York in 2011 with my wife pregnant and us facing a new city and new job and
the prospect of becoming first-time parents, Sonia (ph) was just this
incredible presence of light and stability and wisdom and our kids just
adored her. We all adored her. And Sonia Hernandez (ph) passed away from
the virus on Wednesday.
There are too many stories to tell of the people we`ve lost. One small
thing that our government can do as we noted last night on this program is
to simply authorize FEMA to pay burial costs of the family members of
Coronavirus victims who can`t afford it, something this nation has done
before after national tragedies. It would cost us, in the grand scheme of
things, a pittance. It would be a simple, straightforward, concrete
expression of grace and honor and solidarity from our government amidst
this ongoing nightmare.
Can we as Americans do this one small thing? What kind of country are we if
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Let us in. Let us in. Let us in. Let us in. Let us in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was the scene in the Michigan capitol yesterday as protesters
demonstrated against the state`s lock-down, or ostensibly that`s what they
were demonstrating for.
Despite the majority of residents being in support of Governor Gretchen
Whitmer`s Coronavirus response, hundreds of people, including assault
rifle-toting militia members, packed shoulder to shoulder, very few of them
wearing masks, screaming to be let on the house floor while bearing their
Now, the ostensible subject of these protests was the reopening of
Michigan`s economy, which was shut down in early March after Whitmer
declared a state of the emergency, because it`s one of the hardest hit
states from the virus.
But looking at this scene of two little girls in Donald Trump and Barack
Obama face masks dancing to a song about how the government takes your
money, you kind of gets the sense this was your fairly standard right wing
circus event, also part of a concerted effort to mount some kind of 2020
version of the Tea Party.
But unlike 2009 there is a Republican in the White House, and so of course
Trump has effectively sided with the armed men storming the capitol. “Hear
them out,” he says. “They`re very good people,” which sounds a lot like
very fine people.
Joined now by Michigan State Senator Dayna Polehanki. She was in the
capitol yesterday and tweeted directly above me, men with rifles yelling at
us, some of my colleagues with bulletproof
vests are wearing them.
Senator, what was it like to be amidst that?
STATE SEN. DAYNA POLEHANKI (D-MI): You know, Chris, I was a high school
teacher for almost 20 years before becoming a state senator, so I am no
wimp. But what I saw at my workplace yesterday inside the Michigan capitol
was a bunch of men in a balcony in camo and bulletproof vests and carrying
rifles. And I`m not embarrassed to say that I was afraid.
HAYES: You know, I had the thought that if, you know, if a neighbor comes
to your door and knocks on and it wants to have an argument about something
between the two of you, that`s one thing; if a neighbor comes to your door
and knocks on it and wants to have an argument with an AR-15, you`re not
really having a conversation.
Like it doesn`t seem to me from the images I saw – that this felt like
intimidation, not peaceable assembly.
You know, we support both first and second amendment rights here in
Michigan, of course, but yesterday`s protests was far beyond expressing
frustration about a governor`s executive orders. You know, as a teacher, I
wouldn`t have wanted someone walking in our school with a rifle, and in the
same way, I wouldn`t want them walking around the capitol, my workplace,
with a rifle.
You know, you can express your second amendment rights without intimidation
or infringing on my first amendment rights to serve my constituents in my
HAYES: What is the state of play in Michigan? I know that the governor has
had fairly high approval ratings for a handling. You have a very bad
outbreak in that state, which you`re trying to bring under control. You`ve
also got Republicans in the state legislature as far as I can tell
essentially siding with the protesters and trying to block the governor`s
extension of a state of emergency.
POLEHANKI: Yeah, you know, people are understandably frustrated right now,
but getting back to your point about the president, it`s not helpful that
anger is being stoked at the federal level with the liberate Michigan
tweet, and like you mentioned at the state level, we`ve been called in to
make countless votes on restricting our governors` executive orders instead
of making child care affordable or expanding paid sick leave or getting
people unemployment benefits.
And because there`s no chance that our governor won`t veto these, it`s also
really just pure political theater.
HAYES: What is the stated policy aim of your Republican colleagues here? I
mean, what – is the idea to follow the Georgia model, essentially go back
out there and see what happens?
POLEHANKI: You know, I don`t know. We – our senate majority leader put
together a bipartisan work group to look into this, and they were supposed
to make recommendations April 30, but one day after the work group convened
and had met, they came up with their own plan. So the web site, I don`t
even know if it went live to get public opinions.
So ostensibly, you know, they`re saying we`d love to work together but then
they`re kind of taking the reigns away away and just doing their own thing.
HAYES: Will you tell me a little bit about your district? Obviously, you
referenced this before, this is brutal time for everyone, whether people
are sort of being hit by the virus itself, or the economic consequences of
shutting down the economy, I mean, what are you hearing – I think the
people that show up with guns want to portray themselves as representative
of public opinion, but you talk to your constituents, and it`s a relatively
small district in a state senate district in Michigan, what do you hear
from the folks that you`re talking to?
POLEHANKI: I hear from my constituents about the real pain that they`re
feeling as they try to pay their bills and put food on the table, and you
know I support them. I think our office has heard more about unemployment
benefits and having problems getting them than anything. But I think at the
end, I just want your viewers to know that what you saw happen in Michigan
yesterday is not representative of Michiganders at large.
Michiganders by and large are doing their best to stay home and stay safe,
and they understand that our governor`s actions have saved thousands of
lives. So I don`t want people to think what they saw on TV yesterday was
representative of the bulk of Michiganders, because it is just not.
We are hard-working people. We want to get back to work, but safely. And we
trust our governor to do that.
HAYES: State Senator Dayna Polehanki, who was amidst the chaos yesterday
tweeted out images of that have been seared in my memory. T hank you so
much for making some time with us tonight.
POLEHANKI: All right, thanks.
HAYES: I want to turn now to Christopher Mathias. He`s an excellent
reporter who covers the far right, as a senior reporter at HuffPost. This
is sort of his beat.
And Christopher, you`re reporting on this has caught my attention because
obviously there have been a number of these protests at various state
capitols throughout the country, and you know, anyone can show up to
protest, so I don`t want to tar any of the protesters by association, but
you have been pointing out that a lot of the people who have shown up to
these protests, or sizable number, it`s not just like random angry people.
These are people part of very organized parts of the far right.
CHRISTOPHER MATHIAS, HUFFPOST: That`s correct, yes. I think it`s
interesting, if you look at the video that the senator took in the state
house yesterday, and you just had up on the screen, you will notice, for
example, that one of the protesters, the militia people, had a Hawaiian
shirt on. That`s not by accident, that is a code for a big luau, which
itself is a code for boogaloo, which is this far right code for the idea of
this far right code for the idea of, this coming civil war that these
militia groups want to fight.
So you`re correct to say that these aren`t your normal kind of second
perhaps. And they are very well coordinated. And we`ve seen a proliferation
of these militia groups during the pandemic, of them organizing on
Facebook, and openly talking about civil war, and about how the government
invention to prevent more death is actually some kind of ruse for a, you
know, a government takeover, and for the government confiscating everyone`s
And I think what`s really important to stress here is fundamentally, when
you step back, what we saw yesterday in Michigan, what we`ve been seeing
across the country is the epitome of white privilege, because essentially,
what we know about this virus is that it is disproportionately affecting
black and brown people across the country, who tend to, you know,
disproportionately be our front line workers.
And what we saw yesterday in Michigan was a bunch of armed white dudes
storming into a state house, to argue for essentially what, that the
economy be reopened, which would inevitably lead to more people dying, and
disproportionately more black and brown people dying.
HAYES: You mentioned the Hawaiian shirt, the big luau, or the boogaloo,
which is a bizarre kind of Internet thing. But can you just explain the
mythology there, because it is – I have noticed recently over the last few
years, particularly in the Trump era, like this fringe idea, to move toward
the center of there is going to be a second civil war, you see even
relatively mainstream adjacent right wing writers sort of talk about this.
Talk to me about what this mythology around the boogaloo is.
MATHIAS: Sure, yeah. So, the boogaloo, like I said before, is kind of a
code for this coming civil war. It has its origins, it`s used across the
far right, it has its origins, it`s kind of like a winking reference to an
80s movie called Electric Boogaloo, and basically, you know, it`s on, white
nationalist circles, it`s about this coming race war that people want, and
more anti-government extremists in militia circles, they essentially, you
know, they see every kind of government intervention as one step away from
the government confiscating all their guns, and putting them in FEMA
concentration camps. It`s tied up in the idea that we`re on the cusp of
some kind of new world order or world government that is going to be
And I think they have kind of seized on the instability caused by the
pandemic, to kind of, you know, show their faces, and organize and recruit.
And I think there`s also – the senator was correct that, you know, in
general, they`re definitely newsworthy and deserving of coverage, of
course, because they can be very dangerous, and I think it is important to
stress that these groups have a long history of being connected to white
nationalist groups, and of being implicated in bombings and murders.
They are also often very bigoted, especially towards Muslims. And have
been, anti-government militia movement writ large has been implicated in
plots attacking Muslims in Kansas, and in Michigan, and elsewhere.
HAYES: I just want to be clear, we`re showing footage from the protests
yesterday that the conversation is not a – we`re not taking the people
that you`re seeing there, are tied to those groups or members of those
groups, or have done any of those things, just so that is incredibly clear
here, but there is there way in which right now, there`s a kind of
interesting conundrum to me, which is that you have this far right that`s
mobilizing, you have these sort of local governors who have become the
targets and yet, a lot of these folks are huge supporters of Donald Trump,
who are showing up in MAGA gear, when, you know, it is the Trump
administration`s own CDC that says like you should have 14 days of
declining cases, it`s a weird square for them to try to circle.
MATHIAS: Yeah. And this has been kind of the fundamental paradox of the
anti-government militia movement since the Trump administration, because
they are, in many ways, they see and view the government itself as
illegitimate and don`t think the laws apply to them, yet they hear Trump
and kind of like what he is saying.
So it`s, yeah, I mean it`s kind of a hard thing for them to square, but
they somehow manage to do it. And I think, you know, a lot of what we`re
seeing with the anti-shutdown protests in a way, I think, is kind of, you
know, an outlet for the far right in general. Like, the – what happened in
Michigan yesterday, very much was a circus of the far right, as you put it,
and I think aesthetically, they have very similar to Trump rallies in that,
you know, you have people in MAGA hats, next to members of fascist groups
like the Proud Boys, which were in Michigan, and militia groups that are
all kind of forming this coalition around Trump.
HAYES: There`s something that feels on the precipice, when you see a bunch
of armed individuals demanding to break into a legislature.
Christopher Mathias who is a great reporter in all of this, thank you so
much for making time for us tonight.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the