Republicans like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene smear political opponents as pro-pedophile. Tennessee GOP proposed a bill legalizing child marriages. A senior U.S. Defense official assesses Russian forces have completely withdrawn from the cities of Kyiv and Chernihiv but warn they could still pivot back. Today, President Joe Biden addressed a meeting of the North American Building Trade Union at a moment when organized labor is on a roll in a way it has not been in a very, very long time.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Yes, there you go. Anand Giridharadas, thank you very much, my friend. I appreciate it.
Before we go, really quickly, I want to send condolences from the entire REIDOUT family to the family of Eric Boehlert. Eric was not just a great and valuable guest, but a fearless man who held all of us in media accountable.
That is tonight`s REIDOUT. We are sorry to see him go. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN.
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR-GREENE (R-GA): This is the party of their identity. And their identity is the most disgusting, evil, horrible things happening in our country.
HAYES: The hateful smears keep coming as Republicans advanced I controversial new marriage law in Tennessee.
MIKE STEWART, TENNESSEE STATE REPRESENTATIVE: There`s no age limit in this bill.
TOM LEATHERWOOD, TENNESSEE STATE REPRESENTATIVE: No, there is not an explicit age limit.
STEWART: It`s my concern to be you`re changing or changing the law because of course, we have strict age limits on marriage in Tennessee.
HAYES: Then, as the allegations of war crimes grow, how Ukraine won an improbable victory in the battle for Kyiv.
And the House passes two criminal referrals for Trump cronies. What we know about what the DOJ is up to. And new reporting on the lack of federal prosecutors for the hundreds of January 6 rioters that have yet to be charged when ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. You know on this show, we`ve been highlighting a disturbing new trend on the right where Republicans and their allies play footsie with fringe conspiracy theorists by attempting to smear Democrats as sympathetic to child abuse.
It`s a dog whistle to QAnon supporters who believe that the Democratic Party is made up of the Satan-worshipping cabal of pedophiles who run a child sex trafficking ring. That is their belief. Now, not to be undone -- out done, last night Republican star Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia who has her finger on the pulse of the Republican base as well as anyone, took the rhetoric a step further, doing away with any pretense and just explicitly calling her political opponents pedophiles.
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GREENE: The Democrats are the party of pedophiles. The Democrats are the party of princess predators from Disney. The Democrats are the party of teachers, elementary school teachers trying to -- trying to transition their elementary school-aged children and convinced them they`re are different gender.
This is the party of their identity. And their identity is the most disgusting, evil, horrible things happening in our country. And that`s why we have to say it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, Greene may be the most extreme Republicans in terms of that rhetoric, her willingness to invoke QAnon, but she is far from the only one pushing that exact line of attack. In fact, it`s become mainstream. It was the entire basis of the Republicans smears against Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, soon to be the first black woman to sit on the Supreme Court in this nation`s history with a vote for her confirmation coming as early as tomorrow.
One of the prolific smear peddlers was Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.
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SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): I do want to go back to the issue about the child predators. Do you believe child predators are misunderstood?
So, is it your position that child pornography offenders are not pedophiles?
Do you believe that it matters to the children and their parents who suffer abuse what motivation those abusers had?
I want to make certain that we protect children and that we continue to do our best effort to protect children. I also want to make certain that we`re going to have judges on the federal bench and justices that are going to protect those rights of children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Again, the context here is clear, right? That`s just like, I don`t know, a few degrees more subtle than Marjorie Taylor Greene, but they`re doing the same thing. Now, if Senator Blackburn is acting in good faith, which seems doubtful to me, but if she is concern about, as I keep saying, the very, very real issue of child sexual abuse, then it`s odd that she doesn`t at least appear publicly to be using her power do anything about a very disturbing situation that`s been happening in her home State House.
State Representatives in Tennessee have been working on a bill known as HB- 233. Now, that`s obviously a Republican-dominated legislature. And it`s basically an anti-gay marriage bill. It would allow the state to make an additional marriage category only eligible to opposite-sex couples who do not want to be part of the same institution that allows gay people to tie the knot.
Now, that`s bigoted and bad on its own right. And it`s an indication, and this should be very clear of just how much right-wing forces right now are gathering themselves and champing at the bit to rollback marriage equality,. Hat is coming. But that`s not even the worst part of that particular piece of legislation. The House version of the bill, as it was introduced, didn`t include an age minimum.
Yes, it means it could pave the way to legalize child marriage, like child brides. Again, I`m not making this up. I thought this was not true when I first read this story. But just listen to the sponsor of the bill, Republican State Representative Tom Leatherwood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEATHERWOOD: All this bill does is give an alternative form of marriage for those pastors and other individuals who have a conscientious objection to the current pathway to marriage.
STEWART: Is there no age limit in this bill?
LEATHERWOOD: Well, again, with my understanding, you know, I think would be -- 18 is the way this would be construed.
STEWART: Yes, but I just want to make clear just what the testimony is. There`s no age limit? OK, well, that would be my -- I just want to make sure there wasn`t an explicit age limit. My concern --
LEATHERWOOD: No, OK, I`m sorry. I didn`t understand your question. No, there`s not an explicit age limit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I`ve watched that several times today. What exactly are you up to here, Leatherwood? Like, you know there`s no -- there`s an explicit age limit in the law at the time as the other representative notes, but there`s no explicit age limit here. Now, the other man you heard talking, there`s Democrat Mike Stewart. He called the bill "a get out of jail free card for people who are basically committing statutory rape." Again, it sounds bad to me. Also, why -- what?
Again, just to be clear, this is not an abstract concern. There are people out there with fringe religious beliefs take advantage of such a loophole in the law. For example, there`s the story, somewhat infamous, of Warren Jeffs, a religious fanatic president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, not to be confused with the regular Mormon church.
He`s a polygamist accused of having 78 wives, dozens of whom were underage. Back in 2007, Jeffs was charged -- was convicted on charges of facilitating the marriage of a 14-year-old to a 19-year-old cousin. Again, that sounds disgusting and wrong to me.
Now, that alone is pretty horrifying. But wouldn`t you know it, Tucker Carlson, one of the most vocal champions of the Democrats are soft on child abuse spheres, didn`t see it that way. He didn`t think was a big deal. In fact, back in 2009, he went out of his way to defend Jeffs.
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TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS: Well, actually, he`s not in prison for that. He didn`t -- Warren Jeffs didn`t marry underage girls, actually.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s in prison for the facilitation of child rape.
CARLSON: Whatever the hell that means.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That means that --
CARLSON: He`s in prison because he`s weird and unpopular and has a different lifestyle that other people find creepy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he`s an accessory to the rape of children. That is a felony and a serious one at that.
CARLSON: What do you mean an accessory? He`s like, got some weird religious cult where he thinks it`s OK to, you know, marry underage girls. But he didn`t do it. Why wouldn`t the guy who actually did it who had sex with an underage girl, he should be the one who`s doing life.
The rapist in this case has made a lifelong commitment to live and take care of the person. So, it is a little different. I mean, let`s be honest about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, I mean, I`m just -- I`m just a humble cable news host trying to get my arms around this. A few things there. Mary there, I mean, Jeffs did marry them, not in the he married them as in they married him, but he married them like as in like a transitive verb, right? And the argument here is that Jeffs is just a religious weirdo being targeted for his different beliefs, which include child brides, like a 14-year-old, and also the rapist pledged to take care of the 14-year-old so that`s fine. And that Jeff should not be in jail for facilitating the incestuous marriage of a 14-year-old which again, that`s a view you can have. I think it`s really weird and unnerving. Just me.
In a way, Tucker got his wish. In 2010, Jeffs conviction was actually overturned. So, he was ahead of the curve there. Oh, but then, unfortunately, one year later, he was sentenced to life in prison after a jury found him guilty of raping a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old.
So, I think people are rightly concerned about the prospect of legislation that would legalize child marriage, particularly child brides. I think that`s probably what would happen. You would think that being such a great defender of children that Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee of all people, after that big star turn in those hearings, you know, in the very state where this is being proposed, would be losing her mind about this bill when it`s so glaring and obvious. I mean, given of course, the way she lost her mind during those Judge Jackson hearings. But as far as we can tell, not a peep, not one word, not one thing in public.
We actually reached out to her office today to get your thoughts on the perspective bill and what she thinks about child marriage. We haven`t heard back. Weird, you`d take an opportunity to hit that softball, don`t you think? But other people have been reporting about what is happening in Tennessee. In fact, it`s generated some pretty negative headlines for obvious reasons. I mean, the child bride bill doesn`t sound great, doesn`t it?
So, just today, two weeks after the tenancy Republicans admitted the bill had no explicit age requirements, they pass an amendment to the bill that would require both parties to be 18 or older before getting married.
Well, good. It took a little bit of work, even though its sponsor, that guy, Tom Leatherwood, seems to think the amendment wasn`t really necessary.
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LEATHERWOOD: My position that bill never would have allowed minors to be able to get married because contracts so forth, but I can see and understand how that might have been misunderstood.
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HAYES: Again, round of applause, to be clear. It`s a good thing. It`s good Tennessee Republicans are not legalizing child marriage. It`s bad that it basically took weeks of public outcry for them to do something about it. Again, the very party that claims to be very concerned with protecting children right now that`s accusing their enemies of being liberal pedophiles, wrote a bill that apparently would have allowed children to get married, and then they got caught. And after public scrutiny and backlash, they reassessed and change the language the bill, no thanks to Marsha Blackburn.
Democratic State Senator London Lamar is a Tennessee legislator and she joins me now. I cannot make heads or tails of this entire scenario. I have followed the reporting from your state closely. Give us the context for this legislation. Like, what are they up to down there?
LONDON LAMAR, DEMOCRATIC STATE SENATOR, TENNESSEE: Absolutely. This is another Republican attempt to circumvent marriage and basically put their own values on the everyday people of Tennessee. What the attempt of this bill is to say that marriage between a man and a woman is the correct way to marriage. So, what we`re doing is undermining the marriage system we already have in place to try an another attempt to circumvent the decision of the Supreme Court.
It`s just interesting, this party is always a party of contradictions. You know, the party that says we need to follow the law of the land, law and order, follow the rules, is the party that`s exactly trying to circumvent the exact laws of the land that`s come down for the Supreme Court. Now, when this bill was pushed, if it wasn`t for the mass outcry of many citizens of this state, this bill would have passed and not placed those amendments on there that will put the age restrictions.
But I want people to be very, very clear. This is not an accident that those age restrictions were left off. Again, a former State Senator David Fowler was pushing against a ban for child marriages as a way to push back against same-sex couples. They knew the unintended consequences.
Now that people are out crying and talking about this particular bill, we want to put the age requirements in which will be on my Senate floor tomorrow. However, the bill is more than likely going to pass because we are again, at the past seven years making constant attacks against the LGBTQ community and their ability to love one another.
Tennessee has a host of problems we need to solve. We need to talk about our education system, we need to fix our criminal justice system. An hour ago, I had to stop a bill to ban books in the libraries. We need to focus on the real issues like getting people jobs, versus deciding who has the right to love and who doesn`t. Those are not the statements we need to be making in this state when we have plenty of other issues we could be focusing on.
HAYES: So, the Supreme Court decision you`re referencing, of course, Obergefell of I think 2014 if I`m not mistaken, that essentially finds the Constitution protects marriage equality, right in every state. Here`s -- I`ve got a few follow-up questions. One is, has this been the kind of thing they`ve been taking a run at in successive legislative sessions? You know, there`s sometimes like abortion bills, for instance, that will come up again and again, or is this new, this kind of attempt to create like a straights only version of marriage in your state? Have they done this before or is this new?
LAMAR: They have done it before. Back in 2018, before I answer the legislation, there was an attempt to do the same thing, but it was killed. And so, we are coming back again at making another attempt that creates a brand new form of marriage and the state that`s never been done before. And the unintended consequences of this which were truly intentional, in my opinion, is that we didn`t put any age restrictions and we will then allow child marriages in this state.
Again, this is -- there`s been attempt every year even before I got into the legislature to circumvent the LGBTQ family to live a happy, healthy, and fair life just like everybody else in this state. And this is just taking it to a whole new level.
HAYES: All right, well, I`m glad that it appears to have stopped the child bride provision of the legislation in your state with a little bit of natural notice. Tennessee State Senator London Lamar, thanks so much for your time.
Now, I want to bring in NBC News Senior Reporter Brandy Zadrozny who wrote reports on extremist movements including QAnon. And Brandy, I wanted to talk to you tonight because you`re -- you`ve been embedded in this subculture for a very long time. I think for people that haven`t, the rhetoric coming from the right, right now, between what we saw at the Ketanji Brown Jackson hearing, Ron DeSantis and his spokespeople.
I mean, and then on the internet among writers at places that Democrats are pedophile -- pro-pedophile, pedophile adjacent, pedophiles themselves, it`s truly like shocking stuff. But you`ve been sort of tracing the pre-history. Explain how we got here.
BRANDY ZADROZNY, NBC NEWS SENIOR WRITER: I mean, it really is like blowing my mind. People asked me, you know, what are the QAnon people saying? Like, well, just look at the Congresswoman`s Twitter. It`s like, that`s what they`re saying. It is so mainstream. I mean, this happen -- this came from a blog, a message board in 2017 and 2018 and how fast they have mainstream this lie that pedophiles are everywhere you look in the Democratic Party, in Hollywood, in your schools, in media, like, they`re literally just everywhere. That just happened so fast.
And so, you know, Marjorie Taylor Greene showing the -- making this -- all the claims like you just showed before, this is really a years-long fever dream come true for some of the worst people on the internet. Like, they did it. They made it. This is it.
HAYES: I have to say, again, I wrestle with this because I know lots of people, including myself, you know, I`ve had mental health issues in my life and wrestled with them and lots of people do, so I always feel weird sort of bumping up against the language of mental health or mental health diagnosis.
But there`s something -- you know, I`ve gotten on Tik Tok recently, and occasionally a video will be served up the algorithm that is like someone saying, like, I caught these child traffickers. And it`s just a video of like a random person, like a random passerby in a grocery store. And it`s very clear to me that like, it seems very clear that the person is taking this as not well.
Like, that -- I`m looking at like genuine break with reality. They think they`re seeing a child sex trafficker, what they are seeing as a person walking down the grocery aisle. And it has like 20,000 likes, and I am like what is going on in the world? But this is omnipresent.
ZADROZNY: I mean, but that`s a thing. Like, that stuff belongs on the internet, right? We`ve had the white van freakout where someone takes a picture of a white van and says, Oh my God, my children. There was one where it was like car seat in the parking lot where they said a car seat in the parking lot was evidence that someone was coming to steal your baby. But it was just someone taking out one party and they just bought one and leaving their old one, right?
ZADROZNY: But those videos have always -- those videos have always gone crazy on TikTok and online because that`s where urban legends spread.
ZADROZNY: But that`s where they should stop. The fact that they`re in the halls of Congress, the fact that they`re at, you know, confirmation for Supreme Court Justice, that is the thing that`s blowing my mind.
HAYES: Yes, I mean, I guess what you`re saying is this has crossed over in a way that you didn`t even quite anticipate. But it does seem -- and I guess the question also, is there -- is there blowback now? I mean, you know, saying my -- the opposing party are a bunch of evil pedophiles is like, really, really ugly rhetoric.
Someone on the internet said this sounds like, you know, pre genocide rhetoric, right? Like, they`re the most evil kind of thing that you can imagine. And whether there`s some blowback for that, even if -- I don`t know, even in the same universities on the right that are inhabiting this.
ZADROZNY: I mean, I have -- there`s this famous GIF. It`s just LOL, nothing matters, and it just spins around and around. And that`s sort of what I feel sometimes in this reality. But, you know, I do think it`s important to notice that this is an anti-LGBTQ argument, right.
HAYES: And so, this has always been really popular. As you know, we had the moral majority, we had the satanic panic, we had during marriage equality, you know, I remember, the Duggars actually made these robocalls saying beware of trans people because they`ll molest your children.
Like, that`s always just been a really popular argument in evangelical and ultra-conservative movements and that`s here. But I think you`re right. I think that expansion show -- and just explaining it to everyone is a pedophile that disagrees with you. I want to believe that there`s some price to pay for that.
HAYES: Brandy Zadrozny, thank you so much your time tonight.
Tonight, the House holds two former Trump aides in contempt for defying subpoenas from the January 6 investigation. So, what does the Department of Justice do now? They`ve got a full docket sitting there over in that building.
Plus, after Ukrainian forces managed to stop Russia from taking Kyiv, how should we think about Ukraine`s chances of overall victory? The reality on the ground after this.
HAYES: On the second day of Russia`s invasion of Ukraine nearly six weeks ago, my colleague, Ali Velshi, interviewed the Ukrainian Minister of Culture and Information Policy from his car early in the morning in the suburbs of Kyiv, as Russian troops were closing in. They`d already been attacks on airport just outside the city and Ukrainian ministers still showed this amazing moment of defiance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: You do not feel they`re going to succeed in taking out your administration and your government?
OLEKSANDR TKACHENKO, MINISTER OF CULTURE AND INFORMATION POLICY, UKRAINE: No way.
VELSHI: What will you do if they if they occupy Kyiv? What happens? What are your contingency plans? Will you go west to Lviv? Will you form a government in exile if the Russians force you to?
TKACHENKO: I said they will never take Kyiv.
VELSHI: Well, that is a -- that is a as decisive a statement as we can expect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It is now 40 days later, and so far, he has been proven correct. The Russians have not taken the capital city of Kyiv. In fact, today, a senior U.S. Defense officials of the U.S. assesses Russian forces have completely withdrawn from the cities of Kyiv and Chernihiv but warn they could still pivot back.
Courtney Kube is an NBC News Correspondent covering national security at the Pentagon, and she joins me now. Great to have you, Courtney. Let`s start -- I mean, I remember seeing that and thinking that was the kind of bravado that you would want from a government official, right? But I wasn`t quite sold that that was correct at a sort of military level.
It does seem at this point, the battle for Kyiv in the initial stages has been won by the Ukrainians and they have repelled the Russian advance. Is that what the U.S. government sees?
COURTNEY KUBE, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So, nobody is really spiking the football here to say that Kyiv is completely out of danger. But this initial -- if you look at this as one of the phases of this Russian military campaign for a large scale invasion of Ukraine, this initial phase of going in and taking Kyiv, the Russians have all retreated. So, it does look like the Ukrainians have repelled this initial phase.
Now, I think the reason that people aren`t saying this is a huge win for Ukraine is that it`s very possible that later down the road, the Russians could come back. They could still attack Kyiv from the air. That`s still possible. So, it`s not -- it`s not that Kyiv is completely out of the woods. But you`re absolutely right, Chris. It does look like this initial phase the Ukrainians push the Russians back.
HAYES: Yes, exactly. I`d never want to say like, well, that`s it, that`s done. I mean, clearly, this is an incredibly dynamic situation. But there was -- all I`m trying to say, which does seem clear, like, there was an attempt to take Kyiv. There was a convoy headed for it. There was an attempt to encircle. There was unspeakable brutality and what appeared to be war crimes in the suburbs around it that were occupied. And ultimately, whatever they were trying to do achieve tactically there, they did not achieve, right?
KUBE: Exactly. And not only did they try to take Kyiv, but when they were getting pushed back by the Ukrainians, and they were facing logistical issues and everything, the Russians doubled down, and they opened a whole new line of assault. So, they opened up a third line to try to encircle the city. They were never even able to encircle the city, let alone really take any of it.
HAYES: Right, that`s a great point. So, now, we -- it does seem like the first phase of this war has finished. That doesn`t mean anything about what its ultimate outcome is or what the -- but there is now this shift to the east. Everyone is saying that. The Russians themselves are saying it in their own state media, the Pentagon, the Ukrainians. What does that mean? Tell us -- tell us what the shift to the east means here.
KUBE: Right. So, the forces that were arrayed around Kyiv, it`s somewhere in the neighborhood in Chernihiv, it`s about 40 battalion tactical groups of Russians. And the numbers are kind of hard to say exactly, but that`s roughly about 40,000 Russian troops. And for perspective, that`s 40 BTG`s. There were another 80 to 90 in the rest of the country. So, that was a significant part of their firepower.
They`ve all moved up north into Belarus, into Russia. The belief is that they are there to sort of get their gear working again, to potentially bring in some reinforcements, maybe some new gear, drive around Ukraine, and to re insert or reinvade in the eastern part of Ukraine.
Now the question that officials can`t seem to answer, I think, that they just don`t know yet is where exactly will Russian begin sort of the next phase of this campaign? The one thing that they do agree on is that Russia is believed to be -- the next sort of assault is going to focus more on the southeast. So, on Donbass.
One of the reasons for that is the Russians already have, of course, military forces and contractors in the Donbass area. They also have a pretty strong logistical supply there. So, the belief is that the forces will move in north of there, they will sort of surround the Ukrainian military that are there along the along the line of contact near Donbass, and then they`ll have them surrounded and they`ll be able to move in. It`s what the military sometimes called a double envelopment.
But they`ll move it around them. And that will, according to defense officials, that has the potential to be a very brutal fight if and when that begins in the coming weeks.
HAYES: That is really alarming, but also clarifying about where things stand right now. I saw some Ukrainian officials tweeting today about Kyiv, you know, restaurants opening back up in schools right there. So, there`s this crazy thing happening where that`s happening.
We know the East is still in conflict and the images coming out of the places that have receded from Russian occupation just unspeakably brutal. The mayor of Mariupol today estimating 5000 civilians, including over 200 children dead there. We`re going to keep monitoring all that.
Courtney Kube, thank you very much.
HAYES: Still to come, as the House refers two more Trump aides to the Justice Department for contempt charges, new reporting the DOJ is overwhelmed with January 6 cases. Plus, the push to unionize Amazon warehouses gets a major boost from the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: That`s what unions are about in my view, about providing dignity and respect for people. Amazon, here we come. Watch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Today, President Joe Biden addressed a PAC meeting of the North American Building Trade Union at a moment when organized labor is on a roll in a way it has not been in a very, very long time. Just in the past one week, an unaffiliated, totally grassroots campaign organized the first-ever union in an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, unionizing the more than 8000 employees there.
And the leader of that movement, a man named Chris Smalls, who along with many others, started the effort early in the pandemic, he was singled out by the company and fired ostensibly for violating Coronavirus protocols. But an internal memo leaked to Vice News showed a corporate campaign targeting him saying he is not smart or articulate, and that Amazon should try to "Make him the face of the entire union organizing movement."
Well, they got that right. Now, Smalls is taking a rightly earned victory lap after the union vote succeeded on Friday. And he is in fact the face of the entire movement. It`s worth remembering Amazon is not the only large longtime ununionized workforce. In the past few months, there have also been labor incursions into Starbucks stores, part of an industry that is notoriously hard to unionize.
Since the first store in Buffalo, New York voted to form a union late last year, close to 190 have petition for union elections. And 10 stores have voted to join workers United, including the Manhattan flagship store.
And so, it was in this context that President Biden, a pro-union guy, head of the party most associated with the labor movement, went to this union conference to deliver this message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: That`s what unions are about in my view, about providing dignity and respect for people who bust their neck. That`s why I created the White House Task Force on Work Organization and Empowerment, to make sure the choice to join a union belongs to workers alone. And by the way -- by the way, Amazon, here we come. Watch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s a pretty remarkable moment. Now, after that from the President, you just have to wonder about Amazon spokesman Jay Carney, who served as White House Press Secretary under President Barack Obama, and before that, as communications director for then-Vice President Joe Biden.
You really have to wonder how that line from his former boss landed as he no doubt watch the President`s speech from his office this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Just for the record, Madam Speaker, let me say that we are here for this contempt process today. But the President`s own daughter complied with the wishes of the committee. And I would think that if his daughter comply with the wishes of the committee, everyone else should even the people who work for him.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): In America, no one is above the law. Neither Mr. Trump, nor Mr. Scavino, nor Mr. Navarro is some form of royalty. There is no such thing in America as the privileges of the crown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: A couple of hours ago, the House voted to hold former Donald Trump aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in contempt of Congress for defying subpoenas from the January 6 Committee. It was a bipartisan vote to 220 to 203 with two Republicans, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, joining with Democrats. That vote results in a refer to the Department of Justice which will decide whether to criminally prosecute those men. These are the fourth and fifth referrals from the committee.
Harry Litman served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General and as a U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. And he joins me now. And Harry, I`m happy to have an opportunity to talk to you because I think there`s a fascinating, complicated set of calculations that are being made over Main Justice about these issues.
How do you think about how they are thinking about what to do? They got the Bannon one and they indicted. They got Meadows, and they have done nothing. Now, they`ve got these two as well. How -- what`s the analysis you think they`re using over there?
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes. So, you`re right. Bannon straightforward -- and we know, to Bannon, to Meadows, to all of these guys, there`s no claim of executive privilege. No question is privileged. That`s been put to bed including by the Supreme Court.
But the question really is, the answer to your question is what`s going on with Meadows? It`s been almost four months. And it`s a little -- it`s opaque but a very -- there`s a lot of supposition now and don`t shoot the messenger. But that everybody`s favorite division in the Department of Justice, OLC, has a few memos out there that are making it harder to go after Meadows because they say, and no court ever has said it, in fact, a court has rejected it, but they say certain senior-level advisors to the President have so-called testimonial immunity, meaning they cannot show up at all. They can just say forget about it.
Now, if that -- who gets some senior-level advisors? So, let`s start with Navarro. I don`t think so. And in general, he`s just saying I want to prompt to waive executive privilege. But forget about that. It is Biden`s. I don`t think there`s a strong case. I think he will be indicted.
Scavino, who they really need as they really need Meadows. He`s at Trump`s shoulder all of January 6. He knows what`s going on. I actually think he`s ready to do a year in jail for the boss. But if the -- if the Department is staying its hand because they`re a little worried about these memos, either they`re worried their DOJ policy as say, kept Mueller from indicting Trump, or they`re worried that they sort of keep the Department from finding guilty intent beyond a reasonable doubt.
If that`s their calculation with Meadows, what about Scavino? Because the argument is its senior-level advisors. Look, he`s like a caddy who showed up and is a fetcher for Donald Trump, on the one hand, not very senior. On the other, he`s got this kind of odd gas title, Deputy Chief of Staff.
So, how will that play out? It`s not clear from the OLC memos which already are themselves discredited in the courts, but maybe giving the department fix. How do you like those now?
HAYES: Right. So, the Office Legal Counsel is weirdly kind of like -- it`s like the Supreme Court within the federal government, right? They issue these rulings that kind of hold as the law that the federal government internally will use, right? So, you`re saying that there`s --
LITMAN: The executive branch.
HAYES: The executive branch, right. Yes, the executive branch. Sorry, yes.
LITMAN: So, even though -- I`m sorry, so even though with Mueller, nobody - - you know, there -- it was just the OLC memo. Mueller said, DOJ policy, it binds me. And here this idea of testimonial immunity, Garland might think, DOJ policy binds me. Sorry, go ahead.
HAYES: Right. So, what you`re saying is, if that`s the thing that that`s holding them back on Meadows, then we have an interesting test case here. You think Navarro doesn`t clear the bar and they -- and then we should see them move forward in the way they did with Bannon. Scavino might be -- might be a tighter call.
There`s also -- I just want to throw one thing out there too, which is, again, I don`t know what they`re thinking but like, look across the street at the court, right? It`s a six-three court. You don`t -- I mean, I would be worried about making bad law, right, if you keep things up to this six- three court in terms of what they will do with the inevitable appeals that might go up to them.
LITMAN: You know, it`s fair, but Garland says on January 5, I`m not thinking about that. And now, Scavino, he`s such an important witness. And I think again, a year is not -- doesn`t determine much. I think what the Department needs to be doing is really investigating him. He`s knee-deep. I`m sorry, he`s neck-deep in the whole January 6 stuff. He`s the social media guy.
If they get him for conspiracy, so he`s got real -- they`ve got real leverage on him. Now, he might cooperate. I think he`s ready to do, you know, a year on his head is the monsters put it otherwise.
LITMAN: And that`s, by the way, a year is what you get for contempt.
HAYES: Yes. Representative Jim Banks today on the floor basically made -- said that. He said, why do you want to put this poor man in jail? It`s unconscionable to want to see your political opponents be locked up, like, lock them up. It`s unconscionable.
Harry Litman, thank you very much.
LITMAN: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: All right, the DOJ investigation into January 6 has run into a bit of a snag. So far, nearly 800 arrests have been made in connection to the attack. The problem is they don`t have enough lawyers to prosecute them all. That`s next.
HAYES: It has been exactly 15 months since thousands of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol Building hoping to keep Donald Trump in power, and the trials for all those people are still happening. Yesterday, a lawyer who is representing several notable January 6 defendants, including a member of the right-wing Oath Keepers who`s charged with seditious conspiracy, was disbarred in the state of Virginia for a long list of violation. The decision is expected to impact that seditious conspiracy trial that is currently scheduled for July.
But that is just one defendant out of literally hundreds, even those people are just the ones who`ve been charged. According to a new report from NBC News` Justice Reporter Ryan Reilly, the FBI has names of hundreds more January 6 rioters that the Justice Department doesn`t have enough lawyers to prosecute them all.
Ryan Reilly has been reporting on all the January six investigations and trials. He recently joined us here at NBC News, and I couldn`t be happier, and he joins me now. Good to have you, Ryan. This has been -- it`s like -- it`s like a snake eating an elephant, right? I mean, it`s been a difficult thing for the system to process the sheer volume from the beginning. What is your reporting indicate the sort of hold up is at the -- at the DOJ prosecutor level?
RYAN REILLY, NBC NEWS JUSTICE REPORTER: I think it`s really just a capacity issue. You know, this is a large number of cases. This would be a logistical nightmare in any scenario. But when they really started, they sort of drew that line for entering the capitol as to where they`re going to charge people. If you entered the capitol or if you assaulted an officer outside, that`s when you`re going to be charged.
Now, when they drew that line, they really didn`t have an idea of the full scope of number of people who entered the Capitol building. Back then, it was around 800 were the estimates. And in reality, we`re talking about 2500 people, plus all the people who assaulted officers outside without ever entering the building.
So, we`re very quickly approaching the universe of 3000 potential defendants here, which is just an enormous, enormous amount. I mean, that`s multitudes of what a court -- the court in D.C. typically handles on an average year when it`s a few 100 cases. So, you really just need a lot of manpower to prosecute these cases.
And especially as these cases are brought forward, it`s not as though they`re just making their way through the pipeline very quickly. They take a while. There`s -- even if someone is going to plead guilty, there are several stages to this process that require sentencing memos and sentencing hearings and status updates and discovery disclosures.
So, this is really, really just a huge logistical nightmare for DOJ. And that`s why they requested more prosecutors, more than doubled the amount of prosecutors that they have currently assigned to the January 6 cases for the next fiscal year.
HAYES: Yes. Lisa Monaco who`s one of the deputies for Merrick Garland, one of the sort of -- the number two level over at the DOJ said something -- you know, she said this the other day, and it caught my eye. It`s like, this is the largest investigation in the Department`s history. And I was like, oh, I guess that numerically must be the case.
But when you talk about -- I don`t want to think I have even processed the number of 3000. I mean, I`ve been following your reporting. I know what the arrest numbers are up to 800. But what you`re saying is there are like, many, many more outstanding still.
REILLY: Correct, yes. And hundreds of them have been identified already by citizen sleuths. So, these are like dead-to-rights cases. I`ve reviewed several of them. And they have the -- like, they`re just -- there`s zero doubt. They erase any reasonable doubt. They have -- you know, it`s the match and then it`s items of clothing that they`re wearing that they find in other social media photos online. Like, these are -- these are the people who did it. There`s really just like, no doubt about it. They really nailed these identifications.
But the problem is that, you know, you`re dealing with this system that isn`t used to absorbing this many cases. You`re dealing with field offices scattered throughout the country where hey, maybe some field office in one part of the country isn`t as enthusiastic about January 6 cases as some other. Maybe it gets held up in the bureaucracy at some point. So, there`s just a lot of complicating factors to this.
And, and yes, citizens sleuths have identified more than 2500 individuals inside the Capitol building that day. So, that`s really the scope that we`re dealing with here. And there`s 350 people, if you go on the FBI website right now, who are most of them who are accused of assaulting officers outside of the Capitol, who are still wanted by the FBI and haven`t yet been arrested. Dozens of them had been identified by --
HAYES: Wait, 350 people -- 350 people who assaulted officers or suspected of?
REILLY: Yes. Most of them who assaulted officers are very -- are very highly sought after by the FBI. Correct. These are high level cases.
HAYES: There was also another big headline today, which was the first acquittal in a January 6 case. An individual named Matthew Martin, a Trump supporter from New Mexico, believe the election was stolen, who went to trial before a federal judge. I know you were reporting on that. What happened there?
REILLY: Yes. So, this was the second bench trial that we saw. And it was before Judge Trevor McFadden who was a 2017 Trump appointee. It was a second bench trial that he brought forward. In the first bench trial, he did sort of a split verdict where he found the defendant Couy Griffin guilty on one charge, but not on the other charge.
And that was a case where there was extensive video evidence Couy Griffin actually had, a videographer following him the entire day. So, his entire experience was documented. And you see him jumping over these barriers and climbing up these various points. So, the evidence just sort of hit you over the head that yes, he was passing through these barriers and it was clear day that he knew what he was doing.
In this case, it`s a little bit more complicated because he didn`t have that pathway as well defined by video footage. He didn`t have a videographer with him. So, in this case, the judge said that, oh, actually, when he said that, oh, he thought he was being led into the Capitol, even though there was a smashed window by the door, even though the alarm is blaring, because there was a cop there who wasn`t actively stopping anyone from entering the Capitol, given how overwhelmed he was and outnumbered by the crowd, he maybe had reasonable -- reason to believe that he was allowed inside the Capitol.
So, that`s the justification that this judge came up with. So, you know, I think that might be a signal for defendants going forward who might have not otherwise been willing to test their case. If they are only charged with misdemeanors, then they can bring this to a bench trial instead of facing a D.C. jury, they might be willing to test their luck there.
So, that could even complicate this entire investigation even more as people see if they want to test those cases rather than take a guilty plea or go to trial.
HAYES: Yes, and I`m a true believer in vigorous defense for people, the -- you know, the presumption of innocence. And in some ways, there`s a relationship between the capacity issue you highlight and that which is that this should be sorted through the justice system. People should have their day in court if they want it. And there should be this sort of capacity and logistical man and woman power to make that happen for everyone at issue. That they`d be, you know, arrested, if that`s the suspicion and then get the trial if they want to trial, and we allow the law to sort of work its way through.
Ryan Reilly, great to have you on board. Thank you very much.
REILLY: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" with Ali Velshi starts now. Good evening, Ali.