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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 5/4/22

Guests: Rebecca Traister, Stacey Abrams, Samantha Power


The conservative justice at the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to gut the abortion rights in the U.S. Rebecca Traister joins Hayes to discuss the response to the demise of Roe v. Wade. A source tells NBC News that Donald Trump Jr. appeared via video conference for two hours. Today, we also got a deeper insight into the Republican reaction after the insurrection thanks to yet another recording of Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy. Stacey Abrams joins Hayes to talk about how the abortion ruling will shape the 2022 Midterm elections in Georgia.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: It`s more than the battle deaths in all of our major wars combined. It`s hard to even know what to compare this to. We far surpass the 600,000 Americans who died from the 1918 Spanish flu. This is a sobering day and a reminder that this pandemic is not over.

About 360 Americans still die every single day. It`s a trauma that will live with us for the rest of our lives. One almost certainly made worse by so many Americans` resistance to vaccination and masking. I will leave you with the flags displayed on the National Mall last year at the time marking more than 600,000 deaths.

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


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN. Rage over Roe. How Republicans are on the threshold of pulling off such an unpopular move.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): The Republicans have been working toward this day, for decades.

Tonight, Rebecca Traister on what Democrats have to do now, Stacey Abrams on the need for action at the state level, and Samantha Power on the threat to American democracy. Then --

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): What the President did is atrocious and totally wrong.

HAYES: More trouble from McCarthy as new tapes emerged in the aftermath of January 6 when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. You know, I think anyone who pays close attention to politics, whether you`re a journalist who covers it like I do, or you`re active news consumer or practitioner, anyone in that category knows the Republican Party wants to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

They want to make most if not all abortions illegal in the state they control and as evidenced by their voting record in Congress and the country as a whole. They by and large do not want any exceptions for rape or incest. Most of the laws have been passing recently don`t have them. They want to criminalize the act leaving doctors, and maybe even in some cases, women who seek abortion open to prosecution.

And so, in that sense, arriving at this point where we have in black and white -- black and white leaked draft Supreme Court opinion that holy overturns Roe and would abolish the right to an abortion. That is not surprising. But of course, here`s the thing. Most people in a country of 330 million people do not pay very close attention to politics. In fact, most voters don`t.

And I think there`s a case to be made that part of the reason we now are at this point is because Republicans wizened up a bit to the sheer unpopularity of their position as they came closer to actually achieving. Let me explain.

So, nearly 60 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and that number is held steady for the past few years. That`s a 20-point margin, right? I mean, if you pull on Roe v Wade, all this stuff, it`s fairly consistent over time. Now, Republicans notice, and so they became more squirrely about what they were up to, even as they pursued their goal of overturning abortion rights with even more dogged tenacity.

And to be clear, this moment was 50 years in the making, and like all catastrophes, if it comes to pass, and I don`t know for sure that it will and hope it doesn`t, it will be the product of a whole bunch of things that had to go wrong at the same time. That`s the definition of a catastrophe. And the list is nearly endless. But it has been interesting to see the fallout on the right from this the draft.

Among the first responses from Republicans, and I think most people miss this. I read it on air because we were covering it real-time the other night. It came from far-right Congressman Billy Long of Missouri. Now, long is running in a contested primary to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Senator Roy Blunt. And on Monday night, within an hour after the draft opinion leaked, Congress Long put out a statement that reads in part, "I am optimistic that these reports are true, and that the Supreme Court will do the right thing, finally overturning this travesty of decision. I`ve always stood up for the right to life and will continue to do so."

That`s a perfectly logical expected thing to say. Like, oh, the thing you`ve been working for 40 years, 50 years is coming true. What do you think, Congressman? Great. Of course, he hopes it`s true. Billy Long and his colleagues have been working for decades to get this done. But that was it as far as I can tell of that kind of statement. We did not hear many more statements like that one from Republicans because the next day, the National Republican Senatorial Committee circulated this memo suggesting that party members, "Be the compassionate consensus builder on abortion policy."

And they made it clear they want Republicans to focus on the leak, writing in a sample statement, "This is a draft opinion. The leak of the document is troubling, and is indicative of the radical left mission to undermine the institution of the Supreme Court. It`s wrong and the leaker should be found, fired, and potentially prosecuted."

Well, they definitely got the memo, and they have stayed strictly on message ever since.



SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): It is utterly stunning that anyone at the court would leak a draft opinion. I`m appalled. This is the most egregious breach of trust at the Supreme Court that has ever happened.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): It says a breach of protocol. I think it will compromise the ability of the court to find consensus. I don`t know who did it. I hope we find out because the person or persons who did it really struck a blow against the rule of law.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): This lawless action should be investigated and punished to the fullest extent possible. If a crime was committed, the Department of Justice must pursue it completely.


HAYES: Just a side note on this. There`s no crime as far as I can tell from a lot of legal scholars. Like, leaking a draft opinion, there`s no law that says like you can`t leak a draft opinion just because it`s never ridden before. It actually has been done before in the mid-19th century.

Anyway, the Republicans got the message. Fox News clearly got the message as well repeating those same concerns about the leak over and over and over.


SANDRA SMITH, HOST, FOX NEWS: It appears to be a stunning and unprecedented leak.

LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, FOX NEWS: The leak itself represents a shocking and unprecedented breach of the court`s confidentiality.

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS: The point of leaking the opinion was to intimidate conservative justices. People could get hurt because of this leak.

DANA PERINO, HOST, FOX NEWS: The leak itself, is that a crime?


HAYES: The leak the leak, my norms, we love norms. Oh, God, a tradition has been broken. OK, the right doesn`t care about norms and traditions. They`ve been breaking them all over the place. And they sure as heck don`t want to talk about abortion or more specifically, they sure as heck do not want to talk about what is happening, likely, about the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, even though again, let`s be clear, they have been trying to overturn it for 50 years, and they have done everything in their power to achieve that goal.

They have stretched the constitution to a breaking point. They have partnered with a dangerous demagogue who nearly destroyed American democracy and a violent insurrection that killed people. And now, they are on the threshold of success, and they don`t want to talk about it.

And that made me think about a few minutes, a few moments in the last two presidential elections. So, in 2016, that demagogue, the dangerous one, Donald Trump, he spewed all kinds of heterodoxy is the Republican Party indulged, right? The base was fine with. They accepted it when he said everything from George W. Bush was a terrible precedent, to the Iraq war was bad, to famously John McCain was not a war hero.

But they would not abide any heterodoxy on abortion, and they would not abide when he accidentally screwed up and crossed their public line on abortion as he did in this now infamous moment with Chris Matthews.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, FORMER MSNBC HOST: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no, as a principle?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman.

TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.

MATTHEWS: Say, it`s 10 years. Why?

GUTFELD: I don`t know. That I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: You take positions and everything else.

TRUMP: Frankly, I do take positions and everything else. It`s a very complicated position.


HAYES: I`ve rewatched that tape a bunch and it`s fascinating, right? So, up until his run for Republican nomination, his whole life, Donald Trump was on the record as being pro-choice quite vociferously so. So, now he knows he`s there. He`s attempting in real-time to reason from first principles, right? Because he`s got to mentally model what a Republican thinks about abortion or a person who opposes abortion when he is not that, right?

So, OK. Republicans think abortion is murder. If Abortion is murder, there has to be consequences for the person who did it. And so, in that moment, you can watch him being like, OK, well. Yes, he comes with that answer, which is not in any way, a ludicrous conclusion. In fact, one might even say it`s a logical entailment of the first principles held by Republicans and anti-abortion activists.

But it earns him enormous blowback from both the left and interestingly the right, because you can`t say that, dude. Even a Republican candidate cannot say that, because it is so obviously and viscerally offensive, so noxious to the vast majority of the population that you would be dragging women into jail for abortions, even though, again, it logically follows from the principles Republicans themselves state.

So, that was a lesson for Donald Trump. And it was a lesson other Republicans had to learn the hard way too. Remember, in 2012, Republicans lost two sentences seats when candidates Todd Akin to Missouri and Richard Murdoch of Indiana took it too far defending the idea that a woman who had been raped should be forced to carry that child to term with Akin coining the absolutely ridiculous term legitimate rape.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about in the case of rape? Should it be legal or not?

TODD AKIN, REPUBLICAN POLITICIAN: Well, You know, people always want to try and make that as one of those things. So, how do you -- how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question? It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that`s really rare. If it`s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let`s assume that maybe that didn`t work or something.



HAYES: OK, I mean, even if you rewatch it now, what is it, 10 years later? Well, here`s the thing. It turns out, there is no good way to defend that position, because it`s a vile notion that, again, the overwhelming majority of Americans reject, despite the fact that it is the stated aim of the Republican Party, the conservative movement and anti-abortion forces. And so, all of those people sort of shrewdly adapted.

Leonard Leo is the head of the conservative Federalist Society, if not teacherly, at least in sort of practice. And he undertook an unprecedented intensive vetting process to make sure that any Supreme Court justices, any judges really nominated by Donald Trump will be true believers. And Trump basically outsourced this to him.

And in fact, remember, during his first campaign, Trump even promised he would appoint justices to overturn Roe. But after Trump`s election, the way they talked about it change and it got softer. That ultimate example that comes from Mike Pence, lifelong anti-abortion warrior, signed abortion restriction into law as Governor Indiana, clearly wants to see abortion made illegal obviously, right, obviously. We all know that as people who follow politics.

But watch this. During the 2020 vice presidential debate, he dodged the opportunity to come out and say that obvious truth.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Roe v Wade is overturned, what would you want Indiana to do? Would you want your home state to ban all abortions? You have two minutes uninterrupted?

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, thank you for the question. But I`ll use a little bit of my time to respond to that very important issue before --the American people deserve to know Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general was responsible for the death of hundreds of American servicemembers.

Addressing your very first question, I couldn`t be more proud to serve as Vice President to a president who stands without apology for the sanctity of human life. I`m pro-life. I don`t apologize for it.


HAYES: You know what`s missing there? What would you do? What would you want Indiana to do? Do you want to make abortion illegal? Do you say the word abortion? Do you say the term Roe v Wade? No, no, no. No, he`s pro- life. I spent my whole life working for this. I don`t really want to talk about it. Let`s talk about Qasem Soleimani. He spent two minutes not addressing the question in his wheelhouse. Like, Mike Pence is an abortion dude. What do you want to do, Mike Pence, before he even got around to saying that?

And in the first presidential debate, Donald Trump who promised in his first campaign in an unprecedented fashion, he basically said, here`s a litmus test, I will only appoint justices that would overturn Roe. Again, remember he needed to keep Republican voters together to have a shot at winning. It worked. He then turned around pretended he did not know how his last appointee to the court, Amy Coney Barrett, would vote.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The President also is opposed to Roe v. Wade. That`s on the ballot as well and the court -- in the court. And so, that`s also at stake right now. And so, the election is all --

TRUMP: You down know what on the ballot. Why is it in the ballot?

BIDEN: Because you said --

TRUMP: Why is it on the ballot? It`s not on the ballot.

BIDEN: It`s on the ballot in the court.

TRUMP: I don`t think so.

BIDEN: In the court. Well, there`s nothing happening there.

BIDEN: Donald, would you just be quiet for a minute.

TRUMP: And you don`t know her view on Roe v. Wade. You don`t know her view.


HAYES: It`s amazing, right? There`s nothing happening there. Like, literally the cliche of like nothing to see here. You don`t know our view on Roe v. Wade. So, again, part of what allowed this to happen, what got us to this point where the overturning of Roe appears to be imminent, is that Republicans understood and were clear lied about the wild unpopularity of their own aims.

And rather than dropping those aims, they did not. They simply pursued them through means separate from mass public opinion. They stack the court with anti-abortion judges who had steamroll precedent. And they were very, very quiet, sometimes just flat out lied about what exactly they were doing.

And now, all of that is out in the open. And for the love of God, Democrats, defenders of abortion rights, of women and pregnant people`s bodily autonomy and freedom, their ability to be equally protected by the laws, they must understand there is a reason Republicans are not talking about their extreme radical position because they know it is unpopular.

That means that Democrats should talk about their position because in two party politics zero-sum terms, their position is popular. As Rebecca Traister writes for New York Magazine, "the compelling claim on the hearts and minds of voters who want more justice and more equality has been sitting right there for Democrats this whole time. And unlike the right wing stories, this narrative has the benefit of being true. Our right to abortion is fundamental to human familial flourishing, to dignity and economic security, to health and love and happiness and thriving."

Rebecca Traister is a writer at large from New York Magazine, someone who`s written extensively over the years about reproductive rights, including one precious piece from 2019, titled Our Fury Over Abortion Was Dismissed Or Decades As Hysterical. Her most recent piece argues Democrats are not pushing back hard enough on the conservative rollback of abortion rights. And she`s someone whose voice is incredibly important, especially this moment. It is great to have her here.

Rebecca, what is striking to me about this moment, a moment that you have chronicled our plunge towards for years in your journalism, is that, unlike -- if you look at gay marriage, marriage equality, right, like public opinion really changed. There was a whole bunch of fights in the courts, there was a bunch of fights in the state legislators, the brutal political conflict we see.

But public opinion change. Like, people change their mind. Mass public opinion change. Public opinion has not changed here. It`s been very, very steady and yet, here we are. How do you understand it?


REBECCA TRAISTER, WRITER-AT-LARGE, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, it`s fascinating, because there`s been a refusal to accept where public opinion is. There was actually a shift in polling on abortion. For a long time, you got these polls that said, the United States is divided 50-50 on abortion. And then we got better polling approaches to how you ask questions about this.

And when you started to ask two different questions, one, how do you personally feel about abortion? You got the 50-50? And then do you want abortion to be illegal, you got to these numbers that were like 70 percent of Americans, even in purple and red states want abortion to remain legal. And that has been consistent.

But it`s like the party, the Democratic Party, could not hear, was resistant to this knowledge of how popular this was and has shied away from it. You know, you`re pointing out the fact that Republicans have paid attention. They know their position is the unpopular one. Democratic leadership over my lifetime has not behaved as though they were on the popular and winning side of this.

They have not embraced the call to defend abortion rights full-throatedly. They have refused to have the fights directly about Supreme Court nominees. You know, even today, the day after the leak, you had Democratic leadership in Texas supporting -- Henry Cuellar, the incumbent who is an anti-abortion Democrat.

You have not had a party that has stood solidly, passionately, and with, you know, moral fortitude behind the defense of abortion rights. And that is part of the story of how we got here.

HAYES: There`s also the -- there`s also the fact that -- and this is something you`ve been you`ve been writing about and chronicling as well is that like, again, it`s not going to stop here. Again, people who pay attention to this know this, but I just want to be clear, like, it`s -- this is -- here`s Kevin Cramer today. And again, I think this is an important message for people to hear, particularly for people like, well, I live in a blue state and abortion is protected here.

Like, this is Kevin Cramer today, again, sort of saying the quiet part loud. He mentioned someone crossing North Dakota State lines to get an abortion. I don`t find a lot of solace in that just because it didn`t happen to my state. So yes, it`s -- I think you could expect the pro-life activists would push for federal protections. Like, yes, you can. Like it seems to me that everyone should be clear-eyed and take these people at the word about where this will go.

TRAISTER: Right. And I think that`s another real failure on the part of the Democratic Party that is treated this honestly as if it wasn`t a reality, right? People who have been screaming about the loss of Roe, the potential overturn of Roe or just the gutting of Roe which of course remains a possibility that it will stand as an empty shell, have been told that they`re hysterical and overdramatic for years, right?

But part of what that does, in addition to having not had the fight you are supposed to have in order to defend this, is to leave us profoundly unprepared for what`s about to happen, right? there has not -- you know, coming from a -- from a partisan standpoint, Democrats have left their people undefended in all kinds of ways, including with a very warped perception that don`t worry, A, this probably isn`t going to happen, B, if it happens, you`ll be fine if you`re in a blue state when in fact, there are all kinds of perils and just wildly change circumstances that are about to come into play as soon as the Supreme Court decision comes down. I believe no matter how it comes down, whether it`s the full overturn, or whether it`s an all but overturned gutting.

HAYES: Yes. We should be clear here that we don`t know the outcome and there`s no way that what will happen out of doors will be the expansion of abortion rights. They will either be cut back considerably and dramatically or entirely annihilated. Those are the two options -- you know, those were the two options. Before we knew this draft leaked, that was always going to be the two options. But very clearly, those are the two options.

TRAISTER: Right. And I also want to point something out about what is actually at stake, like every day. One of my first reactions two nights ago when this news broke, and I was -- I was actually watching your show as it was happening. And I was confused, right? Is this real? What is this leak? I don`t know. Does this mean this is going to be the decision? I was very confused.

And what I needed, what my concern was, oh, my gosh, this country is full of patients who have appointments for tomorrow and Friday and next week. And if I`m confused about what this means, there needs to be a message sent to those patients who need care. And care is still legal because the one thing I didn`t know was this was not an official decision.

So, where was leadership? What needs to happen from Democrats who are the stewards of these rights, right, is in this moment, there needs to be a focusing and centering on the millions of people who need care, who are about to face criminalization, being cut off from access. There needs to be direct messaging to them about the fact that they can still go to keep those appointments in coming weeks, that this is not official.

There needs to be -- this is not about political brinksmanship right now, which is -- which I think was what so much of the media and coverage and even some of the Democratic talking points have been about. There`s actually -- one of the things that has to happen is we have to center the people who are at stake and whose lives are going to be profoundly affected by this.

HAYES: Yes. And to that point, it`s hard to do that if you won`t to say the word abortion, for instance, right? So, if you want to say like, we want to make sure that women that need abortions, that`s the word, if they need abortions, can access abortions, because abortions are legal and you`re right to obtain. And we want to make sure that that you know, if you have - - like, again, even just saying the word a bunch, like they don`t want to do that, and so then you end up in this situation.

TRAISTER: And it`s been 50 years. And when -- and when Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the night this draft leaked put out their message, their statement, it did not include the word abortion. They couldn`t say it. It`s something that activists had been after Joe Biden about. He didn`t even use the word abortion in his State of the Union Address. You know, he did -- he has used it in the past couple of days sort of unwillingly.

But again, they`re not treating this as a moral and actual medical emergency for millions of people and their families.

HAYES: Rebecca Traister, great to have you on. Thank you very much.

TRAISTER: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: All right. We`ve got much more to come tonight, including the news that Don Jr. just testified in front of the January 6 Committee. Plus, the brand new McCarthy tapes. What Trump`s top House Republican was saying behind closed doors in the days after the insurrection. And later, my interview with Stacey Abrams who`s bid for governor -- Georgia Governor is one of the most closely watched races of the Midterms. Stick around. You don`t want to miss it.




DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, guys, you saw the leak from the Supreme Court, an unprecedented thing. This kind of stuff doesn`t happen. I don`t know that I`m ever aware of a leak. This is about like Congress where everything leaks. And trust me, I`ve done enough testimony. Things are leaking during closed-door hearings. I get it.


HAYES: That`s a video that Donald Trump Jr. posted yesterday morning. And I want to say we haven`t altered it at all. That`s how he actually posted it. That`s how he appears to be speaking. He posts that before he went and voluntarily testified before the January 6 Committee. A source tells NBC News that Trump Jr. appeared via video conference for two hours. Hopefully, the folks transcribing were up to it.

We don`t -- do not know what he talked about, but we do know two days after election day he texted White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows a plan to dispute the election outcome. And then while the Trump mob was storming the Capitol on January 6, he texted Meadows, "He`s got to condemn this crap ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough. This is when you go to the mattresses on. They will try to eff his entire legacy on this if it gets worse." I think it`s fair to assume both those things came up.

Today, we also got deeper insight into the Republican reaction after the insurrection thanks to yet another recording of Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy. The recording comes from New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns for their new book this will not pass, and shows McCarthy just two days after the insurrection condemning Trump`s actions as atrocious and working with Joe Biden to move the country forward.

We`re gonna play the entire call released from the reporters. I want to note the video and subtitles are theirs, not ours.


MCCARTHY: Yes, but what the president did is atrocious and totally wrong. For the standpoint, we`re 12 days away. I mean, the one point I`d make with Biden -- if you have an impeachment and you`re stuck sitting in the Senate and he needs cabinet members, he`s got Secretary of Defense, he`s got a lot of things he`s got to have moving. And if you think from a perspectives, you put everything else away, this country is very, very divided.

I mean, I`ve got people I`ve never thought would be in this type of condition that very sophisticated, they think this thing is going to be different, they`re angry, they want to continue the fight. I mean, I`ve never seen anything like this. The best way, I think, for everybody as Americans moving forward is to focus on the future not the past, trying to bring us together.

And I do think the impeachment divides the nation further and continues to fight us great. That`s why I want to reach out to Biden. I wanted the President to meet Biden but that`s not going to happen. I want to see about us meeting with Biden, sitting down, make a smooth transition to show that and continue to keep those statements going.

So, hopefully, I need to talk to Pelosi, then he`s going to -- hopefuly he calls me today and see if we could start that process. I think that it`d be beneficial to his presidency too. And I actually think he personally would be stronger above it, to actually say something to that extent. I want to move the country forward. Why have this -- if they more to impeachment, that means they call us back next week. Their members have it a little easier with proxy, but God, that puts everybody else just -- they`ll continue it. They`ll start -- they`ll protest everybody. And I`m just worried about --

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Excuse me. Sorry. I think they`re getting -- Kevin, of getting them not to move on impeachment.


MCCARTHY: I`m trying. I`m trying to do it not from a basis of Republicans, just basis of hey, it`s not healthy for the nation. You know what. That`s why -- that`s why that`s conversation I want to have with Biden himself. I mean, from what -- I used to do breakfast with when he was VP up at his house there. I think he would do that. I think he would get all that. I don`t know what his staff would think, but we`ll see.

And Leganski, what were you hearing about the call? I had a couple of Dems call me right now while I`m on this call, so, I didn`t get any feedback yet.

JOHN LEGANSKI, HOUSE REPUBLICAN MINORITY LEADER FLOOR DIRECTOR: Yes, just said they`re discussing it. It seems like there`s definitely, obviously anger on their side but also division strategically on what to do. You know, I think the options that have been cited by the Democrats so far are the 25th Amendment, which is not exactly an elegant solution here.

MCCARTHY: That takes too long too. It could go back to the House, right?

LEGANSKI: Yes, correct. And if the President were to submit a letter overruling the cabinet, and the vice president, two-thirds vote in the House and Senate to overrule the president. So, it`s kind of an armful. Obviously, impeachment has been discussed. And then I mean, I think they want him to resign, which I don`t see happening, either. But members are talking about it and we`ll keep you posted on what we`re hearing. But certainly I would say it`s possible there are votes in the House next week.


HAYES: It`s pretty striking to listen to that, how normal McCarthy sounds in that recording, no smearing or disparaging Democrats, someone who seems to have, again, normal instincts, a firm grasp on reality, casts everything he has said publicly since then in a much more cynical light.

The recording just reaffirms the National Republican Party is very much the party of Donald Trump. And the assault on both democracy and now women`s bodily autonomy and freedom is happening at every level of government. I`m going to talk to Stacey Abrams, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the state of Georgia, about that very thing next.



HAYES: Georgia might be the mostly -- most closely contested swing state in the entire country these days. It went for Biden by just over 11,000 votes. Of course, it gave Democrats their narrow majority in the Senate in January 2021. At the state level, however, it is dominated entirely by Republicans, which means it also passed a ban on abortion after six weeks before most people even know they`re pregnant. And that ban was signed by Republican Governor Brian Kemp back in 2019.

Now, the law was initially struck down by a federal court because it`s flatly unconstitutional. It`s not currently in effect, but it`s now in the hands of the Appeals Court which put the matter on hold until a decision comes down from the Supreme Court about Roe v. Wade. So, if the High Court overturns Roe, which appears it is poised to do, Georgia`s abortion ban will go into effect immediately joining over a dozen other states with trigger laws or bands already on the books.

Because of all that, the high stakes in this gubernatorial race are now monumentally higher. If Kemp wins its primary, later this month, he will face off in the fall against Stacey Abrams who narrowly lost a camp back in 2018. And joining me now is Stacey Abrams, a Democrat from Georgia and a candidate for governor.

It`s good to have you on the program. Let`s start with obviously the huge cataclysmic news and the direct effect it will have on the voters of Georgia and this election. What is the difference between you and your Republican opponent whether it`s Perdue or Kemp on that law that the Georgia legislature has passed?

STACEY ABRAMS (D-GA), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Georgia in 2019, as you pointed out, passed a forced pregnancy bill, a ban on all abortions after six weeks with very limited exceptions. And what that ban reveals is their intention going forward. If they are willing to limit it at six weeks now, if they see trigger laws that allow for unilateral ban, I have no doubt they will try to pursue that.

And so, it is critical that we not only elect me as the next Governor of Georgia, but that we use this opportunity to elect a state house and the state senate that will let us roll back these egregious laws. Regardless of what happens with this decision, the leaked opinion or not, we know what the intention is. Brian Kemp has been unequivocal about his position as is David Perdue. And our responsibility is to do what we can to protect a woman`s right to choose, to protect the ability to make choices about our dignity, our welfare, and our health, and this is the moment to get that work done.

HAYES: Just to be clear, I mean, what I hear from you is you -- obviously, you oppose that legislation. You would seek to repeal it were it to become law under a decision striking down Roe.

ABRAMS: Absolutely. During my tenure in the legislature, I helped defeat HB 1155 which was a bill that attempted to use eugenics as a justification for disallowing abortion. I fought against the 20 week ban and helped keep it tied up in court for six years. Unfortunately, after I left the legislature, Brian Kemp, upon becoming governor, passed this terrible six- week ban.

But I`m unequivocal. I believe in the right to an abortion. And this is something I came to over many years. I grew up in the Deep South in a religious community where the question of abortion was almost unequivocally no. But it took my exposure to a broader set of conversations, including to a friend, a dear friend in Mississippi who had to make a tough choice without the support she needed without support from me, for me to start to think about what does that mean?


I think Rebecca pointed out earlier, Rebecca Traister, that you may not choose abortion for yourself, but almost a majority of Americans believe that you should have the right to make that decision. This is not a conversation for politicians. This is a conversation between a doctor and a pregnant person, a pregnant woman, to have the conversation with her doctor and her family about what makes sense.

I have -- I don`t even say I evolved. I call myself a converted. I -- and I come to this with the zeal of the converted because I understand the concerns that people have. But Martin Luther King Jr. once said that he cannot segregate his moral concerns. You cannot believe that it is OK to steal the ability of women to have bodily autonomy and say that you believe in human civil rights. I cannot do that. And as governor, I will not do that.

HAYES: You -- that`s a very forthright answer. And it`s striking to be the context you`re in. I mean, obviously, like I said, Georgia is a really, really tight state, right? It`s obviously a very closely balanced state. And what I`m hearing from you is that like this is your substantive belief. You also don`t think this is the kind of thing that you need to whisper or, you know, be squirrely about.

ABRAMS: No. You cannot take equivocal positions on things of moral certainty. And the moral certainty is that we are talking about women`s lives. This is not a conversation to be had on the debate stage, this is the responsibility we have as Americans to defend this right and to make certain that this is not a right that is dependent upon your zip code.

Geography should not determine the quality of your humanity. And that is why today we suspended temporarily, our fundraising to make sure we were directing resources to five organizations. We want those who still need those services right now to have the services. And so, I encourage people to go to so you can contribute to those organizations that are providing these services.

I was unequivocal in 2018. I`ve been a staunch advocate and support (AUDIO GAP). I`ve been in support because I know what this means because I`ve talked to women who have made these choices. I`ve had staffers who`ve had to make difficult calls. And there`s never been a moment where it was right for me as a state legislator or even hopefully as governor to tell someone that I know better than they do and then their doctor does.

HAYES: All right, Stacey Abrams who is running for governor in the state of Georgia, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

ABRAMS: Thank you.

HAYES: Still to come, when rolling back reproductive rights signals of backsliding democracy, former ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power joins me just ahead.



HAYES: In the early days of the pandemic, it was inspiring to see people coming together every night during a frightening and unprecedented moment to pay tribute to frontline health care workers. Two years later, it still feels truly cathartic even though we now know just how deadly the pandemic would be.

More than a million Americans have now died from COVID. It`s just unfathomable number. Hundreds of Americans are still dying every single day, and hundreds of healthcare workers are still trying to save them. I spoke with one of them for the latest episode of my podcast Why Is This Happening? Dr. Thomas Fisher works in emergency room in Chicago Southside. He`s the author of a magnificent new book titled Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak in a Chicago E.R. It`s a memoir about treating vulnerable and disenfranchised patients during the worst days of the pandemic.


DR. THOMAS FISHER, AUTHOR, THE EMERGENCY: We not only need to respond in such a way that allows to protect -- us to protect everybody given our shared humanity in moments of crisis. But why can`t we do that all the time? Why aren`t there a random or at least even distribution of protections, goods, and services that allow everybody to be healthy?


HAYES: The full episode is available now wherever you get your podcasts. It`s part of a new week-long series from NBC and MSNBC called Inspiring America which highlights stories of people like Dr. Fisher who have made an extraordinary impact on their communities over the past year.

Many of them will be celebrated in a special primetime event, the second annual inspiration list, which airs this Saturday night at 10:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC.



HAYES: It`s important to note that if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and rolls back abortion rights in this country, the U.S. would join a very small group of countries going the wrong way on abortion rights. In fact, only three countries have done so since 1994, Poland, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. In that period, 59 countries have expanded access according to the Center for Reproductive rights.

Last fall, New York Times reporter and columnist Max Fisher warned that the overturning of Roe may be just the beginning since curbs on women`s rights tend to accelerate in backsliding democracies, a category that includes United States according to virtually every independent metric and watchdog.

Samantha Power is the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development who served as the ambassador of the U.N. under President Obama. She has made trips to the region in around Ukraine, most recently Slovakia and Moldova this spring, and she joins me now.

It`s great to have you on. I want to ask first, just about the U.S. image abroad, particularly as you`re engaged in aid efforts and diplomacy around the war that`s happening in Eastern Europe, and the degree to which perceptions of American democratic vibrancy matter. Like, whether there`s a certain degree to which people are looking across the ocean and kind of wondering, where is this country at and what does it mean to be an interlocutor with you with this country that seems to be in a bit of a democratic crisis?

SAMANTHA POWER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR OF THE U.N.: Well, Chris, first, just let me say how disturbed and alarmed I am personally about what we have seen over the last day or two and what it might portend.


On question, when I was U.N. ambassador, I actually saw some of the positive of this. You know, when ObamaCare passed and Americans established the right to health care for the first time, there was a sense of oh, OK, America is joining countries that have been pushing for social and economic health rights and welfare for a long time, and now even can be in the vanguard of that at the U,N. and beyond where we see setbacks, on women`s rights, on women`s empowerment.

Of course, that`s going to affect how people hear us as we talk about women`s empowerment, whether economic empowerment or personal empowerment abroad. It has a major impact. The amount of scrutiny, interest, curiosity, love-hate relationship, right, with everything that goes on inside our country, and there`s just no country on Earth that is watched as much as this one.

And, you know, again, I had the positive experience. As we recognize same sex-marriage, that became a source of great inspiration to LGBTQ rights activists around the world and was something also we were able to push from the United Nations to expand the rights of people who didn`t have laws that were as friendly to LGBTQ people as ours were becoming.

Something like this, I can`t even imagine what it will do, again to our support for women and human rights generally around the world.

HAYES: You`ve been visiting the region. You were just and Slovakia, Moldova, I believe last month. Of course, there`s an enormous humanitarian need in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There`s a proposal for $33 billion aid package that is coming from the White House. I think it`s expected to pass.

But you know, that`s a lot of money. And I do hear people say sometimes about foreign aid, particularly even in this case where I think people support the Ukrainian cause say like, that`s a lot of money. We have problems here. As someone who would be seeing firsthand it would be sort of overseeing some of the distribution of that, what do you say to those folks who are skeptical?

POWER: Well, first, let me say how heartening it is to see so little skepticism about whether this cause is worth it. I mean, I do think there aren`t that many issues that people agree upon up on Capitol Hill. I had a long briefing today with a bipartisan group of senators who are very much immersed in the details of where food assistance is going and which nongovernmental organizations we should be funding, frustration that it wasn`t moving more quickly, a frustration that I share. But this is really galvanizing a degree of unity for now up on Capitol Hill that`s heartening and that I think, is reflected in communities around America.

Now, as it recedes from the headlines as compassion fatigue sets in as it has in so many conflicts in the past, you know, maybe that will become a harder sell. But for right now, I think people see that the battle between democracy and authoritarian -- authoritarianism is lived on the frontlines in Ukraine, that when a country is gratuitously invaded and bombarded and pulverized, where starvation is used as a weapon of war, that is something that taps into the best I think of the American tradition, whether that`s the Marshall Plan, and the (INAUDIBLE) and a very positive memory of something like that, or even World War II itself of coming to Europe`s rescue, and standing up to fascism.

So, I think there are historical chords here that have been pressed and are resonating in ways that that so far, again, as you said, is bringing about quite a positive reception to this request.

HAYES: There`s about I think, six weeks ago, people started to look at grain production and food exports from both Ukraine and Russia and the centrality they play in the diets of people around the world, particularly in Africa, but in other places as well, and started to get real worried. Where are we on it?

On the sort of 10 being worst case scenario in terms of that particular aspect, and one being like it`s not a problem, like where are we right now on that? How is that developed?

POWER: Well, I think we have even more insight into the degree of dependence on Ukrainian wheat. So, to give you one statistic, I think that that to share the kind of brings it home. Apparently, one out of roughly every two or three pieces of bread in Sub Saharan Africa is made with Ukrainian wheat.

And to be very clear, I think maybe when you and I last spoke, we were very focused on planting of crops, harvesting the bombardment, what would it mean for Ukrainians ability to sow their harvest, and to reap that harvest. Now, we`re very, very focused on actually Russia`s blockade --

HAYES: Right.

POWER: Of the Black Sea and of Ukrainian ports because the truth is, the Ukrainians have been heroic. They`re out there in their flak jacket with their demining equipment. They`re actually bringing the harvest in. There`ll be a little reduction, but not nearly as severe as we had thought. But getting it out of Ukraine at scale, and out to developing countries that are so vulnerable is our biggest challenge right now.

So, more pressure on Russia to open up those ports. None of that pressure has paid off so far. Pressure by African countries, that`s going to be important. We have drawn down something called the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust with USDA, our agriculture colleagues, to bring food commodities onto the market. This supplemental requests asked for an additional $3 billion in humanitarian assistance. That`s going to be incredibly important.

And USAID is working in 80 countries, developing countries, many in Sub Saharan Africa, to think about how can they draw on for example, organic fertilizer so as not to have to rely on Russian fertilizer, which of course is now limited in its export market.

HAYES: That`s a very clarifying answer. I thank you for your time. Samantha Power, thank you very much.

That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night. "MSNBC PRIME" starts now with Ali Velshi. Good evening, Ali.