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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 5/20/22

Guests: Dahlia Lithwick, Adam Serwer, Mark Follman


Emails show that Ginni Thomas, wife of the Supreme Court Justice, pressed state lawmakers to reverse Donald Trump`s loss. Adam Serwer joined Hayes to discuss the Republican efforts to sanitize racist theory. Republicans have voted against solving the baby formula shortage and voted against the law that would make it illegal for gas stations to price gouge you at the pump. A Fox News poll this week shows Brian Kemp leading David Perdue by a whopping 32 points. There are more guns in the U.S. than motor vehicles, cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles combined.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: -- last surviving Tuskegee Airmen. He`s in Rhode Island. He has asked for birthday cards for his 100th birthday. He turned 100 on Saturday. It is too late served me to send you a birthday card. But this is my birthday card. Happy birthday to our Tuskegee Airmen hero, Retired Sergeant Victor W. Butler. Happy birthday from the REIDOUT.

Thank you very much for watching, everyone. Have a wonderful weekend. Don Calloway, Dana Milbank, thank you all. That`s tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN.

GINNI THOMAS, WIFE OF JUSTICE THOMAS: My husband told me that the President asked about me twice, so I`m wearing my Trump button.

HAYES: New evidence that the wife and the Supreme Court Justice was intimately involved with Trump`s coup using a fringe legal theory endorsed by her husband.

CLARENCE THOMAS, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I think we are in dangers of destroying the institutions that are required for a free society.

HAYES: Then Adam Serwer on the stunning right-wing defense of a racist conspiracy in the wake of Buffalo.

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: The replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from faraway countries.

HAYES: Plus, jaw-dropping new data on the explosion of handguns in America, new polling that could give hope to Democrats in the midterms. And ahead of the next big primary in Georgia, how the disgraced ex-president is chucking an old friend under the bus.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Where`s David, David, David. He -- we love you, David. I know David so well. He`s respected and loved by everyone.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was intimately involved with plotting and promoting Donald Trump`s coup. And with each piece of evidence we get, it becomes harder and harder to understand how the Supreme Court Justice himself is not completely compromised.

We know that Ginni Thomas promoted and then attempted -- attended that rally that preceded the actual physical insurrection on January 6. We also, of course, have a slew of texts that she sent to the President`s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, in the weeks after the election. In those texts, she urged him to try to overturn the results.

Often were referring to wild conspiracy theories, including one that Joe Biden was being arrested and sent to Guantanamo Bay to face in Military Tribunal. The latest revelation about what Ginni Thomas did in the wake of the 2020 election shows a level of tactical sophistication that was clearly absent from those absolutely crazy texts.

And crucially, these actions were connected to her husband, the longest sitting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in a way that makes it harder for him and his defenders to fall back on the claim that they keep their work and personal life separate. But Washington Post reports that Ginni Thomas emailed two Arizona Republican lawmakers, pressuring them to help reverse the election results.

The first of two emails came days after Joe Biden was declared the winner. It reads in part, "Please stand strong in the face of political and media pressure. Please reflect on the awesome authority granted to you by our Constitution, and then please take action to ensure that a clean slate of electors is chosen for our state."

Thomas sent that message to Russell Rusty Bowers, speaker the Arizona House of Representatives. Bowers did not reply and refuse to participate in the effort to overturn the results in Arizona. For his efforts, a right-wing group tried and failed to recall him.

Now, the other recipient was state representative Shawna Bolick, wife of Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick. Justice Bullock is a longtime close friend of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. They work together before Thomas was appointed to the court and Thomas is even the godfather to one of his sons.

Shawnna Bolick to responded to Ginni Thomas right away writing, "I hope you and Clarence are doing great." She went on to give Ginni Thomas guidance on how to submit complaints about any of her experiences with voter fraud in Arizona. But sure enough, just a couple of months later, Bolick introduced a bill that would give the Arizona legislature the power to throw an election results just as Ginni Thomas wanted them to do.

Luckily, that bill never made it out of committee, but Shawna Bolick is now running for secretary of state in Arizona, a role where she would oversee elections. What do you think she`s going to do in 2024 when she gets an email like that from Ginni that time?

It is important to know that what Ginni Tomas has urged these two state legislators to do to just throw out the results of a free and fair election is what a lot of people on the right wanted. It`s what Donald Trump himself wanted to happen. It`s what his lawyer John Eastman advocated for in his infamous coup memo.

Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark suggested it in the letter he wanted to send out to officials in Georgia into every other swing state. It`s what Doug Mastriano now the Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania wanted his state to do too. All of these people in Donald Trump`s orbit wanted Republican-controlled state legislatures in states where Joe Biden won to pull off the coup by telling the voters that the politicians, not the people who actually voted, they decide who gets elected president. They were going to wrench that power away from the citizens.


Now, this is obviously a ludicrous idea that`s totally offensive to our notions of democracy and the rule of law. First of all, state legislatures are bound by the very laws they pass. And in the States, the law says that the winner of the popular vote gets the electoral slate.

But here`s where things get interesting. There is a fringe legal theory called the independent state legislature doctrine that supports the idea that state legislatures can just be like, no, no, we get to pick President. As SCOTUS blog describes it, the theory is "The Constitution gives state legislators not state courts, the power to regulate federal elections in their states."

Essentially, the idea is that state legislators are like these little kingly committees that can decide even after an election, whether or not the American people get to choose their president. And one of the people who ascribes to that theory, or at least is quite open to it in writing is Ginni Thomas` husband, Justice Clarence Thomas. You recently signed on to a dissent that called a "an exceptionally important and recurring question of constitutional law.

Clarence Thomas is one of the most powerful people in the country. He is absolutely going to be ruling on questions having to do with the election. Elections in the future, and this election back in 2020, back when Ginni was emailing. And here`s his wife, a private citizen, emailing an Arizona State Representative who also happens to be married to justice Thomas`s longtime friend, a friend so close to Thomas` his son`s godfather.

And here`s Ginni Thomas pushing that state legislator to sign on to the theory that Clarence Thomas publicly supports. The most charitable interpretation of Ginni Thomas and her role and her actions to bend over backwards that essentially people put up with her because of who her husband is.

Conservative writer Jonathan Last puts in on the Bulwark, "The only reason she was texting the president`s chief of staff instead of being an angry cat lady on Facebook is because she married a man who got himself appointed to the Supreme Court." That seems a little mean to me. I mean, it sort of takes away the agency of Ginni Thomas, the agency of Clarence Thomas in some ways.

So, another interpretation -- this is just another interpretation. I don`t know what it is but it`s that Ginni Thomas and Clarence Thomas are team. They are partners. They`re equals. And this is kind of a joint effort. She goes these Arizona legislators to queue up arguments that everyone knows Clarence Thomas will be receptive to when they come in front of the Supreme Court.

And Justice Thomas has increasingly been very clear about how he views himself as essentially a right-wing activist. He recently posed for this photo with Trump candidate Herschel Walker who`s running for the Republican nomination for Senate in Georgia.

Last week, he made wildly partisan comments in a friendly interview by torture memo author and war crimes enabler John Yu. In that conversation, Thomas repeatedly used the word we when talking about Republicans and conservatives, not even like sort of pretending which again, you know, kudos for honesty, claiming at one point that we do not engage in the same tactics as liberals.


C. THOMAS: You would never visit Supreme Court Justice houses when things didn`t go our way. We didn`t throw temper tantrum. I think it is -- it is incumbent on us to always act appropriately and not to repay tip for tat.


HAYES: No temper tantrums. What would you call the mob of people beating the heads of cops in on the steps of the Capitol? I don`t know which interpretation of Clarence and Ginni Thomas` actions is true. But it sure seems like we should get to the bottom of it definitively one way or another.

Dahlia Lithwick is a senior editor and legal correspondent with Slate. Her latest piece is titled The Biggest Mystery of the Supreme Court, Leak Isn`t Who Did It? And she joins me now.

You know, Dahlia, I got to say, there are people who say, look, Ginni Thomas is her own person, what she does isn`t relevant. Everything we find out it just gets harder and harder to just divide it even just conceptually or factually from Justice Clarence Thomas who sits in the court. Like, when you`re emailing a person who`s a family friend who your very powerful husband is a godsend to her husband, like, you don`t get to be like, well, this had nothing to do with the justice on the Supreme Court.

DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR AND LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE: So, here`s the good news, Chris, to the extent that there`s good news. You know, there are federal statutes and there are judicial canons and they don`t parse the questions you`re asking. They don`t try to figure out who is an independent ethical agent. They don`t try to figure out, you know whether spouses are working in tandem with their spouse.


They simply stayed -- and this is, you know, 28 USC Section 455. Any justice judge or magistrate judge is required to disqualify in any case in which their spouse is known to have an interest in the proceedings. So, the good news is, to the extent that there is any, we don`t have to worry about whether they`re colluding or they`re not colluding, or she`s off doing her thing and he`s off doing his. The question that the ethics rules, that the canon, that the actual federal statute asks is, does it look hinky to the rest of us.

And it really looks hinky to the rest of us. And it seems to me that this whole deflection about you can`t be a feminist if you think that Clarence Thomas`s wife is somehow, you know, doing his bidding is a total distraction. The real issue is, the legitimacy of the court demands these ethics rules, these federal statutes that say the justice is whether or not they have an interest in their spouses litigation, whether or not their spouse is in the tank for a party in the case, the Justice recuses because it looks awful.

And so, I think maybe the way I would sort of reframe your question gently is, does this look awful? And if it does, it`s awful and he should not be involved in these cases.

HAYES: Yes, that`s really -- that`s very well said. I also think there`s something different about this revelation versus last, which again, themselves were, you know, conflicted up the wazoo, which is the text to Meadows feel a little like a spectator a little bit or like a superfan, kind of like, what are you hearing and don`t let up. Oh, is Biden on a barge to Guantanamo? Mark Meadows has to be like, no, I don`t think he is.

But this is -- this is her as a practitioner. Like, she is explicitly saying you, legislature, you with power, do this thing under this constitutional theory that I think -- she doesn`t say this -- that my husband is open to. Like, that`s a whole other level.

LITHWICK: It is. And I think it`s really, you know, you said this, but one of the recipients of these was actually involved in efforts to enshrine this in law. So, this isn`t just I`m just spitballing here. This is saying, here`s the thing we could all work toward together, which is codifying, in some fashion the idea that legislatures get to send fake slates of electors in future elections. And yes, my husband is open to it, but apparently you are, too.

And, Chris, I mean, I think in a normal world, you and I would not sit around and talk about this as though like, oh, those funny tutors. You know, too bad it`s a monarchy and we just have to live with it. I mean, there are meaningful efforts out there right now to do things to force the judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court, to have ethics rules, to have disclosure rules, to live by these rules that apply to every other federal judge but themselves.

And so, I think there`s a weird learned helplessness here where we just say, oh, well, Ginni, what can you do? It`s kind of funny? It`s not. It`s crazy. And this isn`t a monarchy.

HAYES: Yes, we should say that. And we should all -- I mean, we should note that the court is a coequal branch, and there`s checks and balances. But the way the checks and balances work it`s that Congress, for instance, funds the court every year. There`s lots of things they could do on that score.

My personal favorite ideas is that after the leak of Roe, they should take away all the clerks for all the justices because it can`t be trusted with them except Katanji Brown Jackson who gets four because she clearly didn`t leak. That`s one remedy I want. Just like, let`s make them work a little more if you want to be a Supreme Court justice.

But that aside, there`s also the fact that like this independent state legislature doctrine has this life outside of Ginni Thomas, and that -- and that Clarence Thomas is open to. And it was always the kind of Federalist Society like Supreme Court clerk legal nerd euphemistic version of the Trump coup, right?

It`s the Josh Hawley justification. It`s the Ted Cruz justification. This idea that like when push comes to shove, the Constitution says state legislator can just say nope, sorry, we don`t like your votes, voters of Pennsylvania. We`re taking that back and we`re sending it to D.C. which itself is nuts, but also has like disturbingly wide purchase among certain very powerful legal conservatives.

LITHWICK: Right. And this is an idea that you may remember has some of its genesis in Bush v Gore where he commands only three votes, there`s actually no majority that that signs off on this. So, this is a minority idea that comes out in a case that says it`s actually good for one ride only, right? Bush v. Gore is not supposed to be ever cited again. And so, this minority idea in a one ride only case is now being floated as though it`s the law of the land.


And you know, the other thing I guess I would say right now is that this idea that is crackpot in the hands of Rudy Giuliani and crackpot in the hands of Mitchell and crackpot in the hands of Ginni Thomas. This actual idea is going to be repurposed by serious white shoe lawyers making serious claims and arguments in 2024. And so, kind of past is future on this front.

And the thing that we`ve got right now and say, well, this is just nuts. There`s no authority for this and everyone thinks it`s crazy. Serious people will be making this argument in efforts to set aside the 2024 election.

HAYES: All right, Dahlia Lithwick, as always, a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you very much.


HAYES: Coming up, in the wake of the mass murderer in Buffalo last week, while conservatives have of course condemned the violence, in the same breath they`ve been defending the shooter`s obsession with the great replacement conspiracy theory. Atlantic writer Adam Serwer predicted the right-wing embrace of the replacement conspiracy years ago and he joins me next.



HAYES: In August of 2019, a white supremacist walked into a Walmart in El Paso and open fire ultimately killing 23 people. In an online posting before the shooting started, he said the attack was "a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas."

At the time, the conservative National Review ran the headline Crush This Evil, condemning white supremacy. And elected leaders like New York Republican congresswoman Elise Stefanik released a statement saying, "We need to work together to lift our country above this epidemic of hate."

This week after the murder of 10 people at a supermarket of predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York where the gunman espoused the same vile racist ideas, the response was notably different. National Review editor Rich Lowry condemned the attack but implied the current immigration system serves the "narrow interests to one political party."

As for Stefanik, she issued condolences, but within 48 hours of the shooting tweeted "Democrats desperately want wide open borders and mass amnesty for illegals allowing them to vote. Like the vast majority of Americans, Republicans want to secure our borders and protect election integrity."

As the Atlantic`s Adam Serwer points out back in 2012, Republicans briefly considered the idea of comprehensive immigration reform and outreach to communities of color, but instead walked the path of Trumpism. Now, prominent conservatives have the choice to persuade their comments to reject this perverse ideology, rather than attempt to sanitize it from mainstream consumption.

Adam Serwer is a staff writer at The Atlantic and he joins me now. What do you think has changed in the last two years as we`ve seen the response to the aftermath of Buffalo with a lot of special pleading on behalf of people like Elise Stefanik who talked about the immigrants coming as the real insurrection and Tucker Carlson who talks about legacy Americans being replaced by more obedient people from the Third World and the defenses of it by folks like Rich Lowry and others?

ADAM SERWER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I think what you`ve seen is that the sanitized version of the great replacement conspiracy theory which is that Democrats want to import other liberals by which they mean non- white people, which is, it`s the same underlying racist sentiment, except it is suppressed in partisan language. It`s become too popular. It`s become too big to fail, essentially.

There are too many people in the Republican elite who believe it, so to condemn it, you would have to condemn other figures in the movement, and have kind of, you know, a civil war about it. And they don`t care enough about what it does to American society to suggest that there are Americans who are actual Americans than the rest of us are not real Americans, and to sort of suddenly imply that that division is racial, cultural and religious. They don`t care about what that does to society.

What they`re concerned about is conservative unity against the left. So, they don`t want to argue with each other about this underlying racist sentiment that`s being mainstreamed because that might harm their efforts to fight liberals, to fight Democrats. So, what they`ve done is they basically made their peace with it, and tried to rationalize it, and try to explain it in terms that sound a little bit less racist.

But ultimately, they`re saying the same thing which is that these people, immigrants who come to United States are just sort of robotically and mechanically liberal, which anybody who`s ever known -- who knows any immigrants knows that that`s just not how people think. They`re not any less rational or less persuasive than white people. You know, they make up their own minds.

And instead of wanting to appeal to these people, they`re sort of suggesting that they are a threat to the country`s essential nature which is defined more or less by being a white and Christian nation.

HAYES: Yes, that point is so important, first of all, because you see them sometimes say like the Taco Bell where they can`t win elections otherwise. It`s like, well, no, they can. They warped Donald Trump in 2020 by five million votes. Hillary Clinton beat him nationally by three million. It`s like they can win. So, that`s just to be clear, like, they can win national elections without this like importation.

But also, they`re -- it`s a very weird thing to be -- to hear them out of one side of their mouth talk about this replacement theory that has this like assumption that people are liberals and the other like, tout the fact that like, Donald Trump made huge gains in Miami Dade and South Florida. It`s like, right, because there`s all kinds of people that caught into conservative messages from all kinds of backgrounds.


SERWER: Exactly. Yes, I mean, that`s what`s really remarkable is that Donald Trump did better among Latino and Asian voters in the 2020 election. And yet they`re still talking about these voters in this way, these -- you know, immigrants, second generation, third generation, first generation immigrant communities as though -- you know, as Tucker Carlson put it, he said, obedient voters from the third world.

Now, that`s -- you know, that`s extremely racist. These people are no more obedient or less rational than anybody else in this country. And it`s -- I don`t want to call it a dog whistle because it`s far more explicit than that. But the point is, they`re implying that these people are sort of less capable of making rational decisions than other people.

And that`s -- you know, ultimately, the sanitized version of this is really saying the same thing. But it`s expressed in a little bit more coded language so as to provide that plausible deniability for the people who make the argument.

HAYES: There`s also this -- I mean, there`s this deeper thing and you`ve written about this a lot at the Atlantic and I`ve talked about in the show. This sort of idea, right, that, you know, the U.N. makes you a special is this kind of creedal nation, we sort of come around an idea from all different kinds of -- across different lines of difference.

And that`s different and superior to the European model which is like blood and soil and this like one ethnic group. So, it`s wild to watch conservatives explicitly celebrate like Hungary, for instance, right? They`ve got the CPAC conference. And they`re there, and they`re being, you know, feted and cheering with Viktor Orban, who`s this, you know, sort of a validly aspirationally illiberal quasi authoritarian leader.

And it`s, it`s so bizarre because it`s like, call me a jingoist, but like, I don`t think America is better. I think the American model is better, and here these conservatives bowing and scraping before the President of Hungary.

SERWER: Yes, I mean, well, look, Chris, it`s also ironic because 100 years ago, these arguments that they`re making about how these people are coming from abroad, and they`re less intellectually capable, and they`re replacing the people who are real Americans. We heard those arguments 100 years ago, and they were made about the ancestors, some of those -- of some of the people who are making that argument today.

In the 1920s, we passed all these racist immigration laws that were targeting Italians, Jews, Greeks, not just Africans and Asians, because supposedly, they were replacing the true Northern European, Anglo-Saxon Americans were the only real Americans who existed in the country.

And now, you hear the descendants of the people who are targeted by that kind of hatred, repeating the same kind of hatred. It`s really disappointing that people don`t learn from that kind of history. But the reason why that why they`re repeating it is because it is politically mobilizing.

It`s a way to reaffirm this essential victimhood of conservative identity, which is that liberals are trying to destroy you, destroy the country, destroy your way of life. And this is just one way to make this argument. And it`s become too popular for conservatives to fight the way that they should be fighting.

HAYES: Yes, this term that I`ve seen Nicholas Confessore writes about in the times that legacy Americans, which is one that --

SERWER: I mean, just say what you mean. It`s so (INAUDIBLE).

HAYES: Yes, I`m just saying. What do you mean by legacy Americans? Well, in his defense, you know, Tucker Carlson himself a legacy case who was emailing Hunter Biden to get his son into Georgetown does know a lot about legacies. Adam Serwer, thank you very much.

SERWER: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, new polling shows that core Democratic agenda items are actually drumroll, wildly popular. But will they do enough to capitalize on the momentum before the Midterms? And later, high stakes primaries on one of the firewall states that stood in the way of Donald Trump`s attempted coup. Why we should all be paying attention to Georgia just ahead.



CHRIS HAYES, NBC NEWS HOST: In the last few days, Republicans have banded together to make two politically toxic votes. They literally voted against solving the baby formula shortage, they wouldn`t give $20 million to the FDA to help address it. And they voted against the law that would make it illegal for gas stations to price gouge you at the pump.

Part of the power of holding a legislative majority is that Democrats can force their opponents to take bad votes like those. But of course, ultimately, the goal is to actually pass legislation to make people`s lives better.

And in a world with a lot of bad political news for Democrats, we just got an NBC News poll from March and May that has some surprisingly good news in it.

So, we know the party that controls both houses of Congress and the presidency will always have an uphill battle in the midterms. When you add to that the COVID pandemic the biggest disruption to ordinary life in 100 years that we`re still mired in and the fact inflation is high, you would expect polling to be bleak.

Here`s the surprising good news. Two the main priorities from President Joe Biden`s social safety net and environmental justice plan known as Build Back Better happened to be two of the most popular candidate positions in our new NBC poll.

62 percent of those polled were more likely to support a candidate who wants to expand clean energy production like solar and wind projects. 62 percent were more likely to support a candidate who enact Biden`s proposal to lower health care and prescription drug costs.

But here`s the thing, Democrats still stand for both those positions. And the even better news is they still have a reconciliation vehicle which would allow them to pass legislation from the Senate with only a simple majority.

If Democrats could pass just those two priorities, clean energy, lower drug and health care costs, they could deliver some tangible victories while crucially forcing Republicans to vote and run against them.


HAYES: Now, getting everyone on board has been difficult on this as we know, but Democrats shouldn`t and can`t just give up. These are popular positions that would make a real difference in people`s lives. And this might be the last shot they have to get it done.



HAYES: Former Georgia Senator David Perdue has been Donald Trump`s ride or die since even before they both lost statewide in Georgia in 2020. When Trump wasn`t able to complete his coup, he endorsed Perdue unequivocally over and over again against Georgia`s incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who Trump blamed for their duel defeats.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A friend of mine and a great senator man who -- I don`t know, are you going to run for Governor David Perdue? Are you going to run for governor?

We`re going to support a great gentleman.

He`s a great guy.

A wonderful man and incredible family. And who really got screwed by Kemp is the only candidate in this race who can beat Stacey the hoax Abrams.


HAYES: Isn`t that beautiful? I just love when he feels good about another person in his life because he seemed like someone who needs that, it`s a beautiful friendship.

Only now, it looks fairly obvious that both losers may lose again. A Fox News poll this week shows Kemp leading Perdue by a whopping 32 points, ouch. And now Trump is chucking his buddy under the bus.

NBC News National Political Reporter Marc Caputo reports "Trump seems to have given his campaign up for dead and isn`t planning to make any more personal appearances in Georgia on Perdue`s behalf".

And that`s just the tip of the iceberg for what will be a really important primary election in Georgia next week. Marc Caputo joins me to talk about it all now. Marc, welcome.

Marc, just before this segment, I saw some reporting. It turns out that according to federal election filings, Trump has actually transferred $2 million from his political operation Perdue which for Trump is really a lot like he`s pretty stingy with that. He really did do everything he could for Perdue.

MARC CAPUTO, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: He did. And one of the people we quoted in our story that you just referenced, an adviser to Donald Trump said Donald Trump has done more to help elect David Perdue than David Perdue.

In the eyes of Trump from those we`ve spoken to who have spoken to him, he just didn`t think -- doesn`t think that Perdue has done enough. He hasn`t campaigned hard enough. He hasn`t raised enough money. He hasn`t hit the hustings in the right way. His message is bad. That`s as described to us from you know what Trump says.

And if you talk to Republicans in Georgia, they`ll tell you the same thing. They`ve always said that, you know, Perdue wasn`t a very good candidate. He was a guy who didn`t really like voters, they say, didn`t really like making fundraising calls, didn`t like giving campaign speeches. And that`s a real job hazard if you`re a politician.

HAYES: Yes, it also strikes me and I`m not in Georgia and haven`t reported directly in the race but I`ve followed it quite closely that there was never any defining logic for Perdue`s primary challenge other than the obvious one, which is that Donald Trump had a grudge against Kemp for the 2020 election, and in the end, that`s not enough, even for Republican primary voters.

CAPUTO: Right. And it`s difficult to dislodge an incumbent in your own party when he`s running for reelection. And he aligns with the party in almost every way that the average rank and file Republican voter does.

And Kemp at the same time was delivering conservative goodies one bill after another during the legislative session, he had a very good session, he was able to raise money through it and raise his profile through free media.

So, Perdue was really up against a kind of -- it`s kind of a suicide mission to engage in the first place. But, you know, he decided to go along with it. And he kind of trashed his friendship, him and Perdue or Perdue and Kemp used to be friends or at least political allies. That`s certainly not the case anymore.

HAYES: So, there`s another primary that I think is even more important than this one, which has like really like --

CAPUTO: Raffensperger.

HAYES: Yes, Raffensperger. And it`s like -- it`s like what we`ve seen in Pennsylvania, where you got Mastriano. You know, when you got someone who just explicitly is running on a basically, like, I would have done the coup in 2020, I will be open to overturning the will of the voters agenda. That`s what Jody Hice is challenging Raffensperger. Raffensperger famously, the Secretary of State who refused to do that.

We don`t have a ton of polling, it looks like Raffensperger is ahead. But that`s definitely a huge high stakes one to watch on Tuesday.

CAPUTO: It is. And if you would have spoken to me or a bunch of folks, certainly people in Georgia in 2021, you know, January 2021 or thereabouts, they would have just told you that Raffensperger was a dead man walking.

And now, as you said, you referenced those sparse polls we`ve seen. We`ve also been told about other polling from other campaigns that have tracked this race, it does look like that Raffensperger is going to come out on top.

He`s probably not going to be able to crack 50 percent they say, and therefore it`s going to probably be in a runoff between him and Hice. But the reality is, is that there`s a possibility, I should say, the anti- Raffensperger fervor, the pro-Trump like, we`ve got to throw the bastards out. And we`ve got to get -- we`ve got to get all these new people in, and we can`t have another election like we had in 2020.

That forever might be dying. And there`s a good possibility that, you know, this 60 percent of Republicans assuming the poll from the Fox News poll is right, these Republicans are going to vote in the majority it appears for Governor Kemp, those are going to be the same elector, the same voters who are going to wind up voting the same type of voters who want to vote in a runoff with Raffensperger.


CAPUTO: And, you know, there`s a good possibility that people are going to ask themselves like, well, you know, I voted for Kemp when Trump told me not to, and, you know, I`m kind of moving beyond the 2020 stolen election lie, you know. So, why should I replace Raffensperger?

And, you know, there`s a possibility that Raffensperger might win and really kind of up in what was our conventional logic, just, you know, a few months ago.

HAYES: Yes, that seems to mean that we`ve been tracing a few of these areas that Idaho primary challenge earlier this week, where, you know, to me just from a sort of pro-democracy standpoint, rather than these are really important races.

It`s like, I don`t have a dog in the fight because I`m not a Republican. And I don`t, you know -- I don`t have a dog in the fight otherwise, but in this case, you do have an explicit Jody Hice saying, it was still in big lie. Raffensperger should have done what Trump said. Raffensperger saying, no.

You`ve also got the primary. You`ve got a Herschel Walker, the former University of Georgia football star -- an NFL football star, who doesn`t really live in Georgia, live in Texas, but was basically recruited by Trump and despite lots of misgivings from the Republican establishment, looks like he`s going to cruise the nomination to take on Raphael Warnock in what`s going to be a marquee race. And there`s lots -- there`s still a lot of worry about how Herschel Walker stands up in a general election.

CAPUTO: Well, there is and you`re seeing and you`ve seen in the primary, Herschel Walker came in to the primary, he wasn`t really coroneted. I`ll be at he is going to win by a large margin, it appears.

And his opponents Gary Black is specific in the GOP primary. He`s let Walker have it and all of these stories have come out about you know, Walker and these domestic abuse allegations, his use of firearms, his apparent lack of honesty, according to the reports, those things are going to start to wear into him.

And one of the things that Herschel Walker is going to learn that a lot of celebrity candidates learned just as Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania, you can start running for office as a celebrity, but there`s probably nothing worse for your brand than to go into a political campaign because, you know, political campaigns or marketing campaigns, and they sell the candidates the same way that like Coca Cola sells soda.

And what winds up happening though, unlike in a conventional marketing campaign in a political campaign, you know, if there`s Coke versus Pepsi, will Pepsi is going to spend $50 million to tell you how terrible Coke is. And that`s what`s going to -- that`s what`s happening with Herschel Walker. That`s going to be a bruising, bruising campaign before that one`s over between him and Warnock.

HAYES: All right, Marc Caputo, thank you very much.

CAPUTO: Thank you.

HAYES: Next, unnerving revelations about the skyrocketing number of guns in America and why the gun lobby has spent decades trying to keep people from learning that information.



HAYES: There are more guns in this country than motor vehicles and in cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles combined.

As of 2017, there were 120 firearms for every 100 Americans. The past two decades as the rate of mass shootings skyrocket in this country, the powerful gun lobby has worked to block the government from just researching gun violence.

And so, we know that we have more guns in people and more guns than vehicles because of outside research that has been done.

But now, thanks to an executive order from President Joe Biden, we have the first study on guns by the government itself by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the first one in 20 years.

The 306-page report was released just three days after the mass shooting in Buffalo that left 10 people dead that contain some really disturbing revelations.

Back in 2000, one year after the Columbine Massacre reinvigorated the movement to get guns off the streets, this country manufactured close to four million guns.

In 2020, the U.S. manufactured more than 11 million guns, that`s nearly a 200 percent increase over two decades.

The study also finds that in 2021, police recovered more than 19,000 so called ghost guns, which can be assembled from kits at home and are difficult to trace. More than 10 times the 1,700 ghost guns recovered just six years ago.

And these ghost guns are increasingly being used in crimes. Perhaps not surprisingly, according to The New York Times, ghost guns accounted for 25 to 50 percent of all guns recovered at California crime scenes.

Mark Follman is the national affairs editor in Mother Jones, author of the new book Trigger Points: Inside the Mission to Stop Mass Shootings in America.

Mark, first was just talking about the context for having this data being compiled and released by the ATF which itself is both a kind of small victory, but also a demonstration of just how hard making policy in this area is.

MARK FOLLMAN, NATIONAL AFFAIRS EDITOR, MOTHER JONES: Yes, well, I think this report is an important confirmation of what we`ve known for many years now, but only in kind of fragmented bits of reporting and research, that there are more guns everywhere, more and more, a lot of them.

And, you know, it`s been very hard to get this information up until now because of a suppression of research, essentially, through the political forces, namely, the gun lobby, the NRA and their allies in Congress putting a stop to any kind of research like this.

HAYES: Yes, I mean, it almost seems like overly simple to say this. But it just seems so obviously true that if you pump more guns into a society, you will likely get more violence and more serious violence in that society, whatever its underlying political, ideological, demographic profile is. Like, just holding all things equal. And that`s a little bit of what we`re seeing here. Like, it`s just wild, how many more guns there are in America now than there were 20 years ago.


FOLLMAN: Yes, I mean, we have an estimated 400 million of them now. But I think what`s even more important here, Chris is to step back and look at the bigger picture of what`s happened in terms of the conditions in the country over the last handful of years.

Because not only do we have so many more firearms in circulation now, we`ve also got increasing political turmoil and volatility. We have stresses from this pandemic era. And we`ve seen a real rise in violent far right extremism going on in the country. You know, from the attack on the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, which was an event by the way where many people were armed. Some reporting I did with colleagues at Mother Jones show that.

And then also, we`ve had this string of horrific mass shootings in recent years motivated by this kind of violent extremism from synagogues and Pittsburgh and San Diego and elsewhere, to attacks targeting Latinos and Texas at a Walmart in El Paso.

And then, this horrific event that we just saw, again, in Buffalo targeting black Americans, this is -- this is a growing problem in terms of specifically these terrible mass attacks.

HAYES: One bit of data that I have been thinking about a lot, which I saw the other day is this is from CDC data, and it`s a decoupling of non- firearm homicides and firearm homicides. So, we`re seeing like, starting around 2015, you see a spike of firearms as homicides, where they sort of come uncoupled from non-firearm homicides.

And that huge spike that we`ve seen in 2020 is way, way bigger than the spike in non-firearm homicides, which again, suggests to me that like there is just this real supply issue driving some of this.

That like, if you spread more guns in a society, particularly under conditions of tension and conflict and disruption, like in the pandemic, that is going to have pretty obvious natural, violent consequences.

FOLLMAN: I think so and you know, we know also that during the pandemic, there was a real surge in gun buying as well, which makes sense with this increasing manufacturing. There were record gun buying in 2020 and beyond, through certain periods.

So, you know, I`ve talked to experts and threat assessment about this, which is the focus of trigger points, this prevention method. And these are folks who specialize in the behavioral warning signs and the security issues and the mental health issues that revolve around gun violence and other forms of attacks.

And I saw a really notable rising concern among them, too, which was very striking to me in the last couple of years, because they`re normally very reserved in their view of what`s going on. This is the work that they do, but hearing from folks like that that these conditions, and this just supply of ever increasing guns, was going to lead to more and more violence. And I think, unfortunately, that`s what we`re seeing now.

HAYES: When was that? When did that start to turn for them? I mean, because there`s sort of interesting inflection points here, like you see it on that data in 2015, where we started to see homicides go up in a number of countries around -- a number of cities around the country, it kind of came back down and obviously 2020, the sort of distribution and production of guns has been escalatory for 20 years.

So, where did you start to see those inflection points in your reporting?

FOLLMAN: Well, I really started to hear about it as I was finishing up the book in 2020 with I think a convergence of factors, one being the very volatile political environment around the 2020 election that was really stoking extremism on the far right, that I think culminated on January 6th in some sense.

But then, also, the stresses of the pandemic, which are, of course, intertwined with the political volatility and extremism that we`ve seen in a way that that was politicized and weaponized in some ways.

So, I think it`s been multiple factors that were -- have fed into it. And that`s certainly what I`ve heard from threat assessment experts as well.

HAYES: Finally, and quickly, you know, Brendan Koerner has got a great book about the hijacking airplanes in the 1970s called we on the skies, which people should read if you get a chance.

And one of the things it`s clear there is it becomes a kind of copy crack crime, like you see a group hijacking a plane, you`re like, oh, maybe I can do that.

How much of that aspect? You know, we saw explicit references in the Buffalo shooters to previous shootings, like how much of that is also at play here in these mass shootings?

FOLLMAN: It`s significant, Chris, and it`s been growing. I`ve documented this for a while, and I write about it at length from the book too, it`s been steadily escalating I think because of the digital media environment that we live in now with social media.

And so, you know, the more that people who are thinking about doing these kinds of attacks see it, they want to emulate it. So, it`s a very real problem.

HAYES: Yes. And a real conundrum I think for folks in the press like us about how you deal with that and covering it.

Mark Follman, thank you for joining us, and I appreciate it.

FOLLMAN: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: That is ALL IN for this week. "MSNBC PRIME" starts now with Mehdi HASAN. GOOD EVENING, MEHDI.

MEHDI HASAN, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you very much and have a great weekend.