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 everything down?
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 fully suppressed.
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 going up.
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 some.
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 country.
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, "the economy."
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 religion.
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 the coronavirus.
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 hit hard.
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 responses.
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 transmitted.
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 people.
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, Alexis.
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 people? 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 it today.
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 stakes here.
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 lost.
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 Navajo nation.
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 In.
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 we can`t?
(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 arms.
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 workplace.
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 amendment activists 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 guns.
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 oppressive.
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 BE UPDATED. END