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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 2/22/22

Guests: Tim Kaine, David Jolly, Steve Schmidt, Ben Crump


President Biden is calling provocative Russian moves in eastern Ukraine the beginning of an invasion. President Biden is announcing tough new sanctions against Russia. Donald Trump praised Putin`s invasion of Ukraine on a radio interview today calling it genius. Republican Rick Scott unveils his 11-point plan to rescue America.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: GOP lawmakers in Florida tried to erase LGBTQ young people. We want them to know we`re fighting for them.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: You are seen. And for all of you in Florida, you know, I echo every word that both of my wonderful guests just said, Thank you State Representative Fentrice Driskell, Brandon Wolf. You guys are brilliant.

And that is tonight`s "REIDOUT." ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: None of us should be fooled. None of us will be fooled. There is no justification.

WAGNER: The U.S. takes action against Russia for what the President is now calling an invasion of Ukraine.

BIDEN: We`ve cut off Russia`s government from Western financing.

WAGNER: Tonight, the latest on the international response to the crisis and the danger looming over Ukraine.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This is the greatest threat to security in Europe since World War II.

WAGNER: Then, the Republican embrace of Putin led by admirer and chief Donald Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, Putin is now saying it`s independent, a large section of Ukraine. I said, how smart is that?

WAGNER: Plus, the culture war cookbook. We`ll unpack Rick Scott`s manifesto for the Republican Party. And a rare conviction on federal hate crimes for the men who chased down and murdered Ahmaud Arbery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your family is about a fight like this family be. I`m telling you. Justice for Ahmaud.

WAGNER: When ALL IN starts right now. Good evening from New York. I`m Alex Wagner in for Chris Hayes. Today, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, called Russia`s actions in Ukraine and invasion, while the former president of the United States and the leader of the Republican Party called them "genius."

That pretty much sums up the situation here at home on the international crisis we will be discussing through the hour tonight. This all comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin formally declared two regions in eastern Ukraine to be independent republics and ordered in Russian troops for so called peacekeeping efforts.

Speaking from the East Room of the White House this afternoon, President Biden forcefully condemned Putin`s actions.


BIDEN: Who in the Lord`s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so called countries on territory that belong to his neighbors. This is a flagrant violation of international law and demands a firm response from the international community.


WAGNER: The President announced what he said was the first wave of economic sanctions on Russia while promising that there will be more to come if Putin further escalates the situation.


BIDEN: We`re implementing full blocking sanctions on two large Russian financial institutions VEB, and their military bank. We`re implementing comprehensive sanctions on Russian sovereign debt. That means we`ve cut off Russia`s government from Western financing. It can no longer raise money from the west and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either.


WAGNER: In the coming days, the, U.S. will impose additional sanctions on Russia`s elite and their families, people who Biden said share in Putin`s corrupt gains. All of this is a part of a coordinated move with European allies.

Today, the E.U. agreed to impose a first round of sanctions and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the United Kingdom plans to follow suit. Germany also made a significant move to punish Russia today. They halted the certification of the new $11 billion Russian natural gas pipeline, the Nord Stream 2. It`s one that runs between the two countries under the Baltic Sea. It`s a move that is being described as one of the strongest yet to punish Russia.

Now, the American response to Putin`s invasion is not just sanctions. It will have a military component as well. But President Biden was careful to describe this as purely defensive action.


BIDEN: I have authorized additional movements of U.S. forces in equipment already stationed in Europe to strengthen our Baltic Allies, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Let me be clear, these are totally defensive moves on our part. We have no intention of fighting Russia.

We want to send an unmistakable message though, that the United States together with our allies will defend every inch of NATO territory and abide by the commitments we made to NATO.


WAGNER: Biden concluded his remarks with a frank assessment of Russia`s intentions while still leaving the door open for diplomacy however distant that may seem at this hour.


BIDEN: None of us should be fooled. None of us will be fooled. There is no justification. Further Russian assault in Ukraine remains a severe threat in the days ahead. Nonetheless, there is still time to avert the worst-case scenario that will bring untold suffering to millions of people if they move as suggested.

The United States and our allies and partners remain open to diplomacy if it is serious. And whatever Russia does next, we`re ready to respond with unity, clarity, and conviction.



WAGNER: One opportunity for that diplomacy is off the table, however. Secretary of State Antony Blinken just called off a plan meeting with his Russian counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.


BLINKEN: Last week, I agreed to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week on February 24 to discuss our country`s respective concerns about European security, but only if Russia did not invade Ukraine.

Now that we see the invasion is beginning and Russia has made clear its wholesale rejection of diplomacy, it does not make sense to go forward with that meeting at this time.


WAGNER: So, tonight, the world is waiting to see what Vladimir Putin will do next. Earlier today, he spoke to the Russian press about his demands, saying he wanted Ukraine to renounce its ambitions to join NATO, to demilitarize, and to recognize Russia`s sovereignty over Crimea, the region that Putin illegally annexed from Ukraine back in 2014.

Those remarks came just minutes after the Russian parliament approved Putin`s request to use military force abroad. And this evening, in Ukraine, President Zelensky called up the military reserves, urging his people to fight for their country and their freedom.

NBC News Correspondent Matt Bradley joins us live in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which is about 25 miles from the Russian border. Matt, what has the military presence and build-up been like in your area near where you are right now?

MATT BRADLEY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, as you mentioned, Alex, we`re 25 miles away from the Russian border. And just over the border, we`re hearing from Maxar Technologies, not verified by NBC News, and other analysts groups, who are seeing, you know, attack helicopters, the Sukhoi attack jets. And we`re starting to see self-propelled howitzers, tanks, lots of dynamic movements just over the border.

And actually, you know, this is some of the -- some of the most dynamic movements that we`re seeing along the entire rim of Ukraine. And it`s very threatening because here in Kharkiv, this is one of those places, it`s a Russian speaking City, one of those places that Vladimir Putin probably feels like because it`s a Russian speaking place, that they will rally to the defense of Moscow. And that`s one of the things we heard in that speech that he made last night.

The sort of imperialist -- neo imperialist ideology that he`s been putting forward, this idea that Ukraine is not a state in the sense of other states. That it doesn`t enjoy the same privileges of independence that other states do. And that it actually it was Russia that made it an independent state to begin with.

And that`s one of the things that people in this part of the country are really bracing against, because it wasn`t so long ago that Vladimir Putin might have been right, that there would have been a lot of sympathy here for Moscow, that a lot of people here who are Russian speakers, who have family in Russia, would have seen Russia as a partner.

But lately, we`ve started to see a major shift linguistically as well. A lot of people here are starting to learn Russian deliberately as an expression of their patriotism. And they really have said, when I`ve been speaking to them, that they are willing to fight for this country.

And that`s why, you know, all of that military buildup just across the border, and it is very threatening, though we haven`t seen a major incursion in this city. It really is something that`s actually bringing the country together, rather than tearing it apart, which seems to be what Vladimir Putin wants.

Again, this is something that is happening on the level of NATO as well. He`s actually breathed new life into that cross Atlantic alliance just as he`s breathed new life into the unity of Ukraine. And that`s what we`ve been hearing for President Zelensky, calling on this entire country, as you just mentioned, to come together and fight.

And recent surveys have shown that at least a third of this country are actually willing to go out into the streets and pick up arms and fight against a Russian incursion. And even in this part of the country, which again, is mostly a Russian-speaking country, Russian speakers are a minority in Ukraine, and Vladimir Putin has said they`re subject to oppression, even genocide.

But here, they feel Ukrainian. I`ve been here for weeks and I`ve spoken with a lot of people. They say they are willing to fight and die for Ukraine. They don`t believe that line that they`ve been hearing from Moscow. Alex?

WAGNER: Wow, just a gross miscalculation in terms of how the Russian aligned Ukrainian public would react to all this. Matt Bradley, thanks so much. Please stay safe. We`ll be back to you soon.

After weeks of negotiations fell apart over a bipartisan sanctions bill, last week, the Senate instead issued a non-binding resolution warning Russian President Vladimir Putin to cease threatening Ukraine and NATO.

Senator Tim Kaine is a Democrat from Virginia. He`s a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and the Armed Services Committee. And he joins me now. Senator Kaine, it`s always good to see you, especially in a quickly moving news environment like this one.

Can we first talk of the White House`s position on all of this? Biden, the President, said for the first time today that this was the beginning of an invasion. There`s been a lot of analysis about the use of the word invasion. The White House was not using that language last night. Do you think that reflects a more aggressive posture here? Do you think something changed over the course of the last 24 hours?


SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): Well, it`s an invasion now. It`s -- I mean, it`s an invasion this, you know, recognition of these breakaway puppet states that Russia has dominated since 2014. And if you -- if you know anything about Donetsk and Luhansk, what you know is that these were thriving communities before Russia decided to dominate them. And now, they`re Stalinist grim lands of no opportunity.

So, if anyone wants to know what Russia will do for you, all you have to do is look at Donetsk and Luhansk. And that`s why communities like Kharkiv, even closer to Russia, are now moving more and more West more and more turn toward Ukrainian nationalism, because they see that Russian dominance means a grim Stalinist future.

So, it is an invasion and not just the recognition of these puppet states, but now we hear of Russia moving more and more military assets into Donbas, into Donetsk, into Luhansk, and it is unifying Ukraine, and it is unifying NATO.

So, yes, it`s an invasion. It`s not an aggressive posture from the Biden administration. It`s an acknowledgment of a reality. And my colleagues in the Senate, Democratic and Republican, by and large, see the reality for what it is.

WAGNER: We`ll talk about your colleagues across the aisle and the House in a later segment. I`m glad to hear that you think that there`s a quorum of - - bipartisan quorum in the Senate that agrees what the White House is doing.

I guess, I wonder, is there anything in the sanctions package that the President announced today that surprises you?

KAINE: No. I mean, sanctioning any who have connections with the breakaway republics dominated by Russia, sanctioning Russian individuals. The Biden administration did a great job quietly convincing Germany to basically shut down advances on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Germany didn`t want to do that. This was important to them. They weren`t willing to do it in advance.

But the Biden administration, Secretary Blinken, and others got Germany to agree. Look, if Russia invades Ukraine, even if we think this will help Germany, we have to shut it off. This is a big, big deal shutting off the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

I think when we return to Congress next week, we`re all in our states this week, you`re going to see a congressional resolve on sanctions. Were resolved on the sanctions package, what it should contain. There was disagreement about what should trigger it.

Democrats said, don`t initiate sanctions unless or until there`s an invasion. Republicans wanted to initiate sanctions before an invasion. But that an invasion would trigger punishing sanctions, and that the U.S. should work together with our allies to make sure that we`re all on the same page. That`s all decided upon. And I think you`ll see us act in a bipartisan way when we meet Monday.

WAGNER: I just -- I have PTSD about people in the Senate telling me that things are going to be handled in a bipartisan fashion to work in lockstep with the goals of this White House. I mean, this package has fallen apart before. You just said that it was not the substance, but really the trigger. That was the thing that sort of caused the whole thing to fall apart.

You already see the beginnings of politicization around what`s happening in Ukraine. President Trump`s comments today calling Putin`s moves genius probably haven`t helped anything. You`re really convinced that next week when you guys are back in session, Republicans are going to play ball with Democrats and effectively work to further the Biden foreign policy agenda, the national security agenda?

KAINE: So, I think enough Republicans will. There will be some who will follow Donald Trump. You know, Donald Trump calling Putin`s move a genius move, a savvy move, you know, he couldn`t get a Nobel Prize, so he`s maybe trying out for the Order of Lenin, or even better finally, a Trump Tower in Moscow.

But we`ll put our Republican colleagues on the board and see whether they`re, you know, Vladimir Putin appeasers or whether they are standing up for the Western democracies. And I believe that enough Republicans will stand against Vladimir Putin`s aggression, that we will be able to coalesce around the sanctions package.

Again, I think Democrats and Republicans agreed what the package should be. The question was what should trigger it? There`s no disputing now that the Russia, you know, recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk and moving a military assets in Ukraine. The trigger has been passed in the western democracies led by the United States. We have to stand up against it.


WAGNER: Time will tell. Senator Tim Kaine, may the wind be at your back. Thank you as always for your -- for your time and efforts.

Still to come, as Republicans tried to blame President Biden for Russian military aggression, their leader, Donald Trump, is now praising his old pal, Vladimir Putin. That`s next.


TRUMP: So, Putin is now saying it`s independent, a large section of Ukraine. I said, how smart is that? And he`s going to go in and be a peacekeeper. That`s the strongest peace force. We could use that on our southern border.



WAGNER: Donald Trump has never been shy about his admiration for Vladimir Putin. And that was on full display in a radio interview today where Trump lavished praise on Putin for his strategy in Ukraine.



TRUMP: I went in yesterday and there was a television screen and I said, this is genius. Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine -- of Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that`s wonderful. So, Putin is now saying, it`s independent, a large section of Ukraine. I said, how smart is that? And he`s going to go in and be a peacekeeper. That`s the strongest peace force. We could use that on our southern border.

By the way, this never would have happened with us. Had I been in office, not even thinkable. This would never have happened. And you know what the response was from Biden? There was no response. They didn`t have one for that. Now, it`s very sad, very sad.


WAGNER: That is the former president of the United States praising the Russian president for seizing Ukrainian territory and calling that genius while also bashing President Biden for not being tough enough on Vladimir Putin.

That incoherent Biden bashing is now fodder for Trump`s groupies in the House.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): I do know President Biden said that he was going to put an end to Nord Stream 2 if there was an invasion. So, I want to hear him say this is an invasion. And I am going to put an end to Nord Stream 2.

REP. MATT ROSENDALE (R-MT): Why would we engage ourselves in a border dispute thousands of miles away in Eastern Europe when we can`t control our own southern border?

REP TED BUDD (R-NC): It`s just a total display of American weakness and we can`t allow that to happen.

REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R-KY): We need to stay the heck out of it. I`ve heard Biden and even some senators threaten economic sanctions. I wouldn`t get into an economic war with the -- with Russia either, because we import a lot of stuff from Russia.


WAGNER: We do? Trump`s special blend of relentless criticism of Biden and relentless appreciation of Putin is now being shared throughout the halls of Congress and among the Republican base. A recent Yahoo News YouGov poll found more than six in 10 Republicans and GOP leaning independents now say Russian President Putin is a stronger leader than Joe Biden.

David Jolly is a former Republican congressman from Florida. He left the Republican Party and now -- and now chairs the Serve America Movement, a bipartisan effort to fix American politics. And Sahil Kapur is an NBC News Congressional Correspondent. He wrote about Trump`s lavish praise of Putin today. And both gentlemen join me now.

Sahil, let me start with you. How is Trump`s unwavering support for Vladimir Putin manifesting itself in the Republican House caucus?

SAHIL KAPUR, NBC NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alex, that`s really sparked a debate within the party writ large. And I think you see those two quadrants both in Washington and outside Washington. In Washington, most Republicans, not all, but most are still sticking with a traditional foreign policy kind of hawkish playbook when something like this happens, blames a Democratic President, call them weak, say they should take more action, say that a lack of you know, aggressive action invites this kind of behavior.

But out on the road, and in the rest of the Republican Party, it`s a very different sort of situation. We see candidates for election who are running for, you know, the Senate in 2022. JD Vance, for instance, in Ohio trying to wash his hands of this thing. He doesn`t care what happens in Ukraine.

And a lot of this is driven by this growing sense, this growing attitude and MAGA media, that is echoing President Trump`s sympathies for Vladimir Putin. His attitude that the United States should not get involved in this, his questioning of us alliances and the idea that the United States needs to stand by allies and its commitments to NATO. He`s considered according to reports withdrawing from NATO in the past.

And there`s this growing sense, this growing attitude in the Republican Party that United States should pull back from that, which is at least some of what is driving this. And of course, Washington tends to be a lagging indicator of where, you know, parties are. I think the campaign trail is a -- is a leading indicator and the MAGA movement tends to be an engine of where the Republican Party is headed down the road.

So, this playbook is -- this, you know, this book has yet to be fully written. And I think we are seeing it evolve in real time how Republicans are struggling, you know, with how to message this.

WAGNER: Yes. Well, if you listen to what`s being said out in the country and how Republicans are answering polls, 60 percent of them think Putin`s a better leader than Biden.

I mean, Dave, it feels like the right hand isn`t talking to the right hand. On one hand, you have Republicans in Washington being hawkish neo-con saying we should be doing more and pressing Putin harder. And then we have the grassroots talk radio MAGA media saying, forget about Ukraine. Biden is wrong. We need to focus on the southern border.

Does anybody and will anybody in the party ask Republicans to resolve this incoherence? It`s -- logically, it makes no sense.

DAVID JOLLY, FORMER FLORIDA REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I think they should. And not only resolve their incoherence, but challenge their patriotism, Alex. Look, the world is -- the West is on the brink of a war with which they don`t know what to do about, right? There`s very little avenue to engage in a resistance against Vladimir Putin in this moment.


And insteps, Donald Trump, who kind of overturns the applecart a little bit, and I believe represents a security threat to Western interests. And you see then a Congress that is interested in enabling him, and a party that`s interested and enabling him.

And I think the most telling thing if we frame this in an era in which there may be a European war, recognize that only Donald Trump spoke today. Bush 43 didn`t, Obama didn`t, Jimmy Carter didn`t, Bill Clinton didn`t. Donald Trump sought some type of political vengeance today, unlike past presidents. And you saw a Republican Congress willing to enable him.

In past eras, the Congress, regardless of Democratic or Republican, would only ask one question which is, what resources does the United States need to represent the interests of the West and confronting this move by Vladimir Putin? That is the sober approach to governing to foreign policy that is absent in today`s Republican Party, as exemplified not just by Donald Trump, but by his Republican followers on Capitol Hill.

WAGNER: Yes, I mean, to that end, Republican House leadership today released a statement, it`s Kevin McCarthy. Sadly, President Biden consistently chose appeasement and his tough talk on Russia was never followed by strong action.

Lethal aid was slow walked anti-air and anti-ship capabilities were never directly provided, pre-invasion sanctions proportionate to the aggression Putin had already committed were never imposed, and sanctions on Nord Stream 2 were waived.

OK, just first, remember when Trump withheld weapons from Ukraine and got impeached over it. I mean, the amnesia is staggering. But also I mean, I guess I wonder, Sahil, do you think the actions of today -- the statement was written before we had I believe all the details on the sanctions package and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline being halted. Do you think that appeases Kevin McCarthy? Or is this just Biden feels like a pinata right now, we`re going to take a bat to him in whatever way we can.

KAPUR: Oh, the message was certainly known well before this happened, Alex. I think Republicans have consistently -- House Republican leaders in particular, have seen Biden as an easy target here. It`s unclear -- I mean, there are nuanced criticisms of the US`s actions, you know, overall, going back many years with NATO expansion. But that`s not what is happening here.

I think Republican leaders are seeing an opportunity to criticize Biden, and it`s the oldest playbook in the Republican political arsenal. It goes all the way back to 9/11. Maybe even before dating back to the 90s where you criticize the Democratic president for not doing enough, for not being aggressive enough.

But it`s also -- you know, it`s not exactly consistent with the de facto leader of the Republican Party who is simultaneously saying that Putin was effective here, he`s savvy, this was kind of a genius move. And oh, by the way, if I were president, it never would have happened.

So, what Republicans are primarily trying to do is drive a political message that, in part, this is President Biden`s fault. They`re, of course running against him in the 2022 elections. They`re trying to take back control of Congress.

And by the way, after I published that story, I heard unsolicited from the White House, you know, which was happy to pile on former President Trump, you know, arguing that nobody has less credibility than him when it comes to Russia and Ukraine, pointed out what you just did about the fact that Trump apparently tried to blackmail Ukraine in an action that ultimately got him impeached, which of course had something to do with the former president himself.

So, yes, Republicans have known exactly how they want to play this politically.

WAGNER: I mean, I remember the impeachment trial even if they don`t. I also remember the time that you used to stand by an American president when we`re talking about foreign adversaries. But it`s a new day.

David Jolly and Sahil Kapur, thank you both for your time.

KAPUR: Thanks, Alex.

WAGNER: Next, saving the country by saying the Pledge of Allegiance. One Republicans unhinged 11-point plan to rescue America. And Steve Schmidt on why it isn`t so far from the party`s actual agenda. That`s just ahead.



WAGNER: As Republicans set out to reclaim control of Congress this fall, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been careful not to put forward an agenda. Instead, McConnell has kept his cards close to his chest, offering only a vague I`ll let you know when we take Congress back.

But today, Florida Senator Rick Scott who leads the Republican election effort in the Senate, he released his own agenda. Boy, is it something. The 11-point plan to rescue America is a steaming hot buffet of conservative red meat. It begins with this doomsday screed about the militant left.

Among the things the left plan to change or destroy are American history, patriotism, border security, the nuclear family, gender, traditional morality, capitalism, fiscal responsibility, opportunity, rugged individualism, Judeo Christian values, dissent, free speech, colorblindness, law enforcement, religious liberty, parental involvement in public schools, and private ownership of firearms.

It is a lot. And yet it goes on. Scott proposes 11-policy pillars, ones that offer some insight as to the soul of the modern-day GOP, like this one where Scott proposes to raise taxes on the poor. Scott declares that "All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount, explaining currently over half American -- half of Americans pay no income tax.

And just who will process an audit all those new taxes on the four is really anyone`s guess since Rick Scott also promises Republicans will immediately cut the IRS funding and workforce by 50 percent.

Elsewhere in his 11-point plan, Senator Scott remains committed to Donald Trump`s Big Lie, dedicating an entire section to election with the demand that "Ballots can only be submitted to a polling location by a voter or the Post Office. No ballots that show up after Election Day will be counted ever."


It`s unclear if Scott understands how this would affect American service members, many of them voting Republicans or diplomats working overseas. An inconvenient detail and a document full of the inconceivable.

And then there is Scott`s declaration that men are men, women are women, and unborn babies are babies. We believe in science. Apparently, Scott believes so much in science that he goes on to say, men and women are biologically different because he, as in God, created them.

To that end, he offers a federal policy to reaffirm this religiously scientific view of the American family. Even though many single moms heroically do the job of raising a family as my mom often had to, children need and deserve both parents and government should not be shy about saying so.

Just how punitive Scott intends the government to be when it comes to working moms. That too, remains unclear.

Coming up, I will talk to Steve Schmidt about Senator Rick Scott`s plan for America and what it says about the Republican Party in the year 2022.



WAGNER: Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott just released an 11-point plan to rescue America, presumably on behalf of the whole Republican Party ahead of this fall`s election. And it reads like a laundry list of Republican grievances with attacks on things like legal voting, teaching American history, and the LGBTQ community.

Given that Republicans have the trends of midterm elections on their side, Scott`s document offers real insight into how the party is thinking about this country and what they might do if they regain power.

Steve Schmidt is a former Republican strategist and co-founder of the Lincoln Project. He joins me now. Steve, always good to see you. Let`s just talk about this plan. Mitch McConnell, a wise creature of politics, has if nothing else, has interestingly not released any kind of plans for the country. But Rick Scott has taken it upon himself to do so.

This document which is really, it`s a doozy, do Republicans win with this stuff? Do Democrats win with this stuff?

STEVE SCHMIDT, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, we live in a very, very serious moment. The world is at the edge of war with the largest invasion of Europe since the end of the Second World War, perhaps eminent. And this document such as it is, is just a laundry list of grievances and nonsense that has no chance of being made into actual public policy.

There`s no rigor behind. It was written by some ideological 23 or 24-year- old, did a couple of drafts, and there you go out to the American people. It`s not a blueprint for anything other than to titillate Fox News viewers and to tickle their erogenous zones or grievance zones on Fox and Friends and, you know, on the other end of the evening, Tucker at 8:00.

WAGNER: But Steve, you know, I understand where you`re coming from, but at the same time, this is stuff that`s being turned into legislation at the state level. I mean, the Don`t Say Gay Bill, the school board fights over teaching American history, you know, the efforts at electoral fraud -- election fraud reform.

I mean, it`s as crackpot as it may sound when it`s in black and white, it`s actually happening. I mean, I guess it`s not without a sort of a foot in reality, if you will. And I guess I wonder, is this not actually shaping the Republican Party?

SCHMIDT: I think that we have a real-life autocratic movement in this country. We saw the events of January 6. We`ve seen the apology is for it, the lies, the conspiracies. The Republican Party has become an organized conspiracy to take power.

We have Republican leaders, the former Secretary of State or former president cheering on the Russian autocrat, Vladimir Putin. Wherever we look, we see Republican elected officials serving as Russian useful idiots. This moment in time is a -- is a profoundly dangerous one and it`s clearly before us.

Republican Party is talking about banning books, Republican activists in some places are burning books, misinformation about a vaccine in a pandemic and the life-saving vaccine has killed upwards of a million people in this country.

So, look, does this 11-point plan evidence of something that wasn`t clearly evident before? I don`t think so. The reality is -- and I think the Democratic Party needs to do some soul searching here, is you have a radical extremist party that has engaged in intimations of violence, that is quite clear about its efforts to say to gay Americans, to other Americans that you`re less than, and this party is winning.

This party is on track to take control of the House of Representatives. This party is on track to possibly be in charge of the United States Senate. This party is not faithful to American democracy. It`s proven that over and over. We have an enormous problem in the -- in the country.

And it`s not that we need more evidence to understand it. It`s that we need to face and understand these last five years and understand clearly what`s ahead by just listening to what it is that the people that are involved in a conspiracy to end democracy are telling us what they want to do.


WAGNER: I mean, and you talk -- I think you are Cassandra warning us of what may be ahead. I do wonder though, there`s a part of it that I think is really interesting in Rick Scott`s plan. The plan says, Republicans will ensure the government will never again ask American citizens to disclose their race, ethnicity, or skin color on any government forms.

Now, a lot of the disclosure of race and ethnicity helps us understand who we are, and it allocates funding for certain underserved communities. But I think it reflects this desire on the part of Republicans to blind themselves and the country to demographic change.

And when we talk about the future of the Republican Party, I wonder, you know, they are making their home on an iceberg that`s melting? And how long can you be the party that wants to pretend that people of color don`t exist and aren`t ascendant and in numbers alone in this country? I mean, how is this a blueprint for the future?

SCHMIDT: Well, I think that one of the things that you have to look at is the -- and you know this, is the -- is the increase in Black male vote share for Trump between the 16 and the 20 election. You know, the clear fault line in American politics is whether you have a college degree or not.

We have an increasingly a class disposition that is -- that is shaping American politics and this is at the core where we see Trump`s hottest demagoguery. Look, the Republican Party has been hostile to immigrants, to women, to a lot of different group. But the economic populism, the grievance is not aimed strictly at white people. And its -- and it`s resonance in its audience isn`t just the White audience.

So, this movement that we see out there is dangerous, it`s metastasizing, and we`ll see what -- we`ll see what comes of it. But look, Rick Scott`s 11-point plan isn`t going to become law, but the malice intentions that are behind it, you know, wherever present in our society, we should pay attention to it.

WAGNER: Well, that is what we are trying to do tonight. Steve Schmidt, it`s always a pleasure to speak with you, my friend. Thanks for your time.

SCHMIDT: Good to be with you.

WAGNER: Tonight, the man who killed Ahmaud Arbery are found guilty again, this time on federal hate crime charges. My interview with Ben Crump, the family`s attorney, about today`s historic verdict right after this.


WANDA COOPER-JONES, MOTHER OF AHMAUD ARBERY: What the DOJ did today, it was made to do today. It wasn`t because of what they wanted to do. They were made to do their job today.




WAGNER: On February 23, 2020, exactly two years ago tomorrow, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery went for a run near his home in Georgia. As he jogged into the Satilla Shores neighborhood, he was targeted and chased by three white men, Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory, and their neighbor Roddie Bryan.

Bryan was filming as the men hunted Arbery down in their trucks, cornered him, and confronted him with a shotgun. Then, as he tried to run away, Travis McMichael shot him three times. All three men were charged and convicted of felony murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Allegations of racism did not play a large role in that criminal case, but it was the main focus of the separate federal hate crimes trial against the three men. And it is worth noting how rare federal hate crimes charges actually are.

An analysis last year found that the Department of Justice declined to prosecute 82 percent of hate crime suspects from 2005 to 2019. That`s in part because it is very difficult to secure a hate crime conviction. Prosecutors need to prove not just that the defendant committed a hate crime, but that they did so with bigoted or intolerant intent.

That is what federal prosecutors had to prove in the case against the McMichaels and Bryan, that these three white men who chased down and murdered a young Black man had a demonstrable history of racist beliefs.

Over the course of the eight day trial, the jury saw plenty of evidence that these three men frequently used racial slurs and made openly racist comments that shocked their friends and colleagues.

As NBC News reports, the prosecution noted that Travis McMichael once texted a friend saying he loved his job because zero Black people work with him using the N-word. In another incident, commenting on an online video of a Black man lighting a firecracker stuffed in his nose, he messaged a friend saying it`d be cooler if it blew the head off the man using the N- word.

As for Gregory McMichael, he was reported to have said, "Those Blacks are all nothing but trouble, in response to the 2015 death of a civil rights activist. And Roddie Bryan was reportedly enraged to learn just days before the shooting that his daughter was dating a Black man, using a slur to describe him.

The prosecutors successfully made their case. They cleared the high bar of proving intent. And today, the jury of eight white people, three black people, and one Hispanic person convicted all three men of federal hate crimes.

After the verdict, the attorney for Ahmaud Arbery`s family, Benjamin Crump, noted that no one had been convicted of a federal hate crime in the state of Georgia before today.


BEN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: This is the first time in the state of Georgia`s history where there has been a conviction for a federal hate crime.



CRUMP: And you all did that. You all did that.


WAGNER: Ben Crump is the attorney for the family of Ahmaud Arbery, and he joins me now. Ben let`s just first talk about your reaction to this verdict only took the jury a few hours to deliberate.

I mean, on one hand, it shouldn`t be surprising at all that they secured a conviction. And yet on the other hand, as you point out, it was incredibly surprising to get this outcome, especially in the state of Georgia. How have you processed what happened today?

CRUMP: It was historic, Alex, in every sense of the word because we have to remember, we`re in the Deep South. And you think about how many times people have been killed in the state of Georgia and there have been racial amicus, but there was no Federer hate crime ball ever until, as Wanda Cooper Jones said, 2,22,2022. And she called it Super Tuesday, because it was so significant, that you finally have a hate crime conviction that we pray will set a new precedent to have more of these cases bought when we know race as a motivating factor.

WAGNER: Ben, you know, I think a lot of people followed the first trial. We saw a lot of the footage of it. We saw a lot of the coverage of it. But we did not know what really was transpiring behind the close wall of the court today. And I read this account of what happened inside the courtroom as the verdict was read.

And this is from the Washington Post. The jury foreman, a Black man from Dublin, Georgia was visibly crying as U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood asked each juror to affirm their votes in the Brunswick Georgia courtroom. The man`s voice caught as he said, yes. And tears ran onto his face mask.

I also heard accounts that the prosecutors were crying. Can you just tell us what it was like inside the courtroom at this moment in history as you - - as you call it?

CRUMP: It was very emotional, Alice, because remember, we had a human being that was hunted down like a dog. He was lynched by lynch mob for jogging while Black, not in 1941 or 1950, but this was in 2020 during our lifetime, during our day.

And so when you think about the fact that Ahmaud Arbery didn`t do anything wrong. When you hear the 911 operator asked Travis McMichael, what is he doing? And his response, Alex, is he`s a Black man running in our neighborhood. That was his crime. That is why they hunt him down and shot him with a shotgun that left a hole in his back the size of a teacup salsa.

And to finally, after two years of fighting, for his mother and father and his family, to get this measure of justice, this historic measure of justice, it was overwhelmingly emotional. I mean, you had tears in their eyes and people was just so happy that finally justice for Ahmaud Arbery.

WAGNER: And I feel like it was justice beyond Ahmaud Arbery because of the nature of these hate crimes trials. This was -- it`s a rare occurrence, right, that the federal government is moving forward on a hate crimes charge, and that it succeeded. It felt bigger than then than this one case, right? And I feel like what we sense in the courtroom is the weight of history, right?

I mean, it bears mentioning that this was never supposed to happen. The Justice Department had secured a plea deal with the defendants, and it was Ahmaud Arbery`s family that really insisted, that was the sort of generating force and getting this to trial.

Can you talk a little bit about that and what it was like for the family fighting not just the injustice of society for the slaughter of their child, but the Justice Department and not wanting to have a plea deal, wanting to see this trial -- wanting to see this go to trial?

CRUMP: Absolutely. They wanted to have them have the most punishment possible. And the fact that, you know, the prosecutors were concerned that it`s so difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt what was the intent in their mind. And so, they were concerned about that, but it was Wanda and Marcus who said, it doesn`t matter. We want our damn court. They lynched our son. We don`t want them to have any measure of leniency. And they got that today.

So it is a historic day for them. It`s a historic day for Georgia. It`s a historic day for America, Alex.

WAGNER: It is indeed. Ben Crump thank you so much for everything.

CRUMP: Thank you.

WAGNER: That is ALL IN on this Tuesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" with Ali Velshi starts now.