At the January 6 Live Hearing, Speaker Bowers described the extraordinary campaign he was subjected to trying to coerce him into overthrowing the results shortly after the election. We have another live hearing scheduled tomorrow that will include principals who were in the room when Donald Trump attempted his own kind of mini-coup inside the Department of Justice, so he could then use the power of that office to steal the 2020 election. Former Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill joins Hayes to discuss the risky bet of elevating MAGA Republicans. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) joins Hayes to discuss the Senate voting to advance the bipartisan gun legislation.
JOY REID, MSNBC ANCHOR: Power to fight the climate crisis. All of those decisions will likely come in the next two days or next week. And we will be watching. And that`s tonight`s "REIDOUT". ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN.
RUSTY BOWERS, REPUBLICAN STATE REPRESENTATIVE, ARIZONA: You`re asking me to do something against my oath and I will not break my oath.
HAYES: He refused to break the law for Trump. And in return, Trump`s mob came for him.
BOWERS: Video -- panel trucks with videos of me proclaiming me to be a pedophile and a pervert and a corrupt politician.
HAYES: Yet, in spite of the threats, and in spite of what the ex-president tried to make him do, what it says about the Republican Party that Rusty Bowers says I`d vote for Trump again.
Plus, what we`ll learn tomorrow about Trump`s attempt to use the Justice Department to hang on to power. Committee member Jamie Raskin joins me on that, then, Senator Chris Murphy on a big step forward for gun safety.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY, (D-CT): This is the most significant anti-gun violence bill that Congress has voted on in 30 years.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The story of the January 6 Committee hearing so far, has been -- well, a story about a lot of things but a story about human beings facing high stakes ethical tests, very high stakes tests, and how they respond to being squeezed and pressured by the most powerful man on earth. We saw that stark display. Yesterday, we heard testimony from three Republicans who hold key positions of power in their home states. Those three men all conservatives, all of whom voted for Donald Trump resisted pressure from the ex-president and his allies to help overturn the 2020 election.
Some of the most compelling testimony came from a man named Rusty Bowers, who is the sitting Arizona Speaker of the House, Arizona, of course, was one of the few states that decided the election going for Joe Biden by about 10,000 votes. Yesterday, Speaker Bowers described the extraordinary campaign he was subjected to trying to coerce him into overthrowing the results. It began shortly after the election with a phone call from Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani claiming that proof of fraud in Arizona. They wanted Speaker Bowers to hold a hearing on this alleged evidence.
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BOWERS: The ones I remember were first the -- that we would hold that I would allow an official committee at the Capitol so that they could hear this evidence, and that we could take action thereafter. And I refused. I said, up to that time that the circus, I called her the circus, had been brewing with lots of demonstrations both at the counting center at the Capitol and other places. And I didn`t want to have that in the House. I did not feel that the evidence granted in its absence merited a hearing, and I didn`t want to be used as a pawn.
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HAYES: Of course, none of that evidence ever turned up despite requests from Bowers to see it but the requests from Trump and allies continued. Trump and Giuliani told Bowers that they wanted the Arizona legislature to remove the electors for Joe Biden and replace them with electors for Donald Trump. We know that in pursuit of this plot, a group of Trump supporters in Arizona eventually went so far as to send a fake slate of electors to the National Archives. But Bowers again refused to get involved citing his oath to the Constitution and his faith.
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BOWERS: I said, look, you are asking me to do something that is counter to my oath when I swore to the Constitution to uphold it. And I also swore to the Constitution and the laws of the state of Arizona, and it is a tenant of my faith that the constitution is divinely inspired by my most basic foundational beliefs. And so for me to do that because somebody just asked me to, is foreign to my very being. I will not do it.
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HAYES: Now, Speaker Bowers continued to face pressure, especially from Rudy Giuliani as Trump and his people spread the big lie across the country. And in early December, adherence to that lie occupied the Arizona House Representatives building looking for Bowers. Committee member Adam Schiff revealed this new video.
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REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA): This is a previously undisclosed video of protesters illegally entering and refusing to leave the building. One of the individuals prominently shown in this video is Jacob Chansley. Perhaps better known as the QAnon shaman, this rioter entered the Capitol on January 6, was photographed leaving a threatening note on the Dyess in the U.S. Senate chamber or and was ultimately sentenced to 41 months in prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding.
Other protesters who occupied the Arizona House of Representatives building included Proud Boys, while men armed with rifles stood just outside the entrance. I understand these protesters were calling for you by name, Speaker Bowers, is that correct?
BOWERS: That is correct.
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HAYES: Between them in the morning of January 6, Rusty Bowers fielded more calls, calls from Donald Trump, Trump`s lawyer, the man who co-wrote -- co- wrote the coup memo, John Eastman, and Republican Congressman Andy Biggs of Arizona, and they all wanted the same thing. They all wanted Speaker Bowers to violate, in his words his oath of office, and break the law and help Donald Trump remain in power and he refused. Every time the threats ramped up.
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BOWERS: We received my secretaries would say in excess of 20,000 e-mails and tens of thousands of voicemails and texts, which saturated our offices and were unable to work, at least communicate.
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HAYES: Threatening behavior then spread to the speaker`s home where it continued until recently.
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BOWERS: We have various groups come by and they have had video -- panel trucks with videos of me proclaiming me to be a pedophile and a pervert and a corrupt politician and blaring loudspeakers in my neighborhood and leaving literature both on my property and arguing and threatening with neighbors and with myself. There was one gentleman that had the three bars on his chest and he had a pistol and was threatening my neighbor.
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HAYES: This was all going on outside Rusty Bowers` home in Arizona. While inside that same home, his daughter was dying.
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BOWERS: We had a daughter who was gravely ill, who was upset by what was happening outside, and my wife that is a valiant person, a very, very strong, quiet, very strong woman. So it was disturbing. It`s disturbing.
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HAYES: Bowers` daughter, Kacey Bowers, died on January 8, 2021. The following month in February, the far-right Patriot party of Arizona launched a recall effort against speaker Bowers for refusing the coup. The recall eventually failed in June due to a technical flaw that Bowers is term-limited in the Arizona House, his position now. So this year, he`s running for the State Senate and he faces a challenge or the Republican primary who says the 2020 election was stolen.
As we look back at what we`ve seen and heard over four committee hearings, Rusty Bowers embodies a key part of the story. Because there are a few people, more than a handful, a few people faced with a great moral test who acted with integrity, and ultimately, that`s what saved our democracy in the end. But the other part of the story is that the Republican Party as a whole, as an institution in American political life, is a continuing threat to the Republic, even if some of its members did the right thing when called to against great odds and great pressure.
Mr. Bowers summed that all up when after that testimony he gave, he told the Associated Press despite everything that happened to him and his family and his community, and the assault on the Capitol on January 6, he would vote for Trump again. "If he is the nominee, if he was up against Biden, I`d vote for him again. Simply because what he did the first time before and COVID, was so good for the country. In my view, it was great."
Maybe that`s posturing, but you know what, I believe him. I believe him. Mitch McConnell has said the same thing. I believe him, so as Bill Barr, I believe Bill Barr. That`s it, in a nutshell, the problem that we all face, the distance between the genuine individual integrity that Rusty Bowers showed and the nature of this broader force that no one not even Donald Trump really, truly controls because, in the end, the whole is greater and worse than the sum of its parts. And the whole really is, right now, a mortal threat to our democracy.
Mona Charen is a conservative columnist and policy editor for The Bulwark where she hosts the Beg To Differ podcast and she joins me now. Mona, your reaction to Mr. Bowers` testimony and then to what he had to say today.
MONA CHAREN, POLICY EDITOR, THE BULWARK: So his testimony was incredibly moving. Very, very heartfelt, impressive, exactly what you want to see out of an American. And then to see that "this morning," you know, I was telling your producer, my first reaction was sort of that emoji of somebody banging their head on a desk, you know, that was sort of -- that summed up how I felt. It`s just -- it`s kind of inexplicable that someone -- even someone like him can say that despite all of the things that he just told us and his tremendous integrity, that he would then yet still be willing to vote for the man who attempted to subvert democracy.
But, Chris, I also have to say that, you know, I completely agree with you that our democracy is in peril and that the Republican Party is most of the reason for that, but there is a role here too for the Democratic Party that they are not fulfilling. For example, Brad Raffensperger is running for reelection as Secretary of State in Georgia. The Democratic Party could make a stand for the importance of democratic values by not contesting it. They should say we want to show just how important we think it is that he stood up for the rule of law and for what is right, we`re not going to contest this election. That would be meaningful.
Also, there has been this tendency on the part of some Democrats to support this sort of in a -- in a sub-Rosa way, but they are -- they`re running ads trying to get election denying extremist Republicans the Republican nomination, so there`ll be ease -- they think they`ll be easier to beat in November. That`s incredibly irresponsible.
CHAREN: I mean, that should not be happening. If the Democrats are sincere about the danger to democracy, that should not be happening.
HAYES: Yes, the latter part -- so in the latter part, you`ve successfully tee something later in the show because I actually -- I agree with you on that. Yes, I agree with you on that. Actually, I have a commentary on that later in the night so on that second point about the sort of elevation of these voices, I think that`s very dangerous. On the first point, though, I mean, I think what we`re all wrestling with --I mean, look, we -- it`s a democracy, people have different views like we should have candidates battling each other. I mean, the idea of not filling in candidates, like everyone should go, you know, Mitt Romney wants to like cut the capital gains tax. Like people want different things. What -- that`s what we do.
The point is that you can`t trust -- you can`t run a two-party democracy where you can`t really fully trust one without -- with power and not establishing an authoritarian takeover. It`s just got to be the case that both parties can be trusted to alternate in power in the normal process of aid and argumentation. And right now, it`s like that guardrail feels so thin. And to see a man who evoked tremendous admiration for me yesterday, I mean, genuine profound goosebumps say that the next day was like, wow, that guardrail feels thin.
CHAREN: Right. But you see, the reason he said it is because he is a victim of toxic polarization which has come to characterize our politics, I don`t need to tell you. And so -- but my point is that Democrats really need to push back against it in some way. Look, I`m a Never Trump Republican.
HAYES: No, I know.
CHAREN: And I have, you know, swallowed my pride in many ways and supported candidates that I don`t like, I don`t agree with on most things, because I agree with them on democracy. That`s the most important thing.
CHAREN: And I`ve been willing to sacrifice a lot in the name of only voting for people who I think can be trusted with democracy. And I would like to see Democrats do that in the case of Raffensperger say we`re not going to contest this guy because we want to drive home how important his stand was for upholding democracy.
HAYES: All right. That`s an interesting point. I`ve -- watched later. we`re going to talk about some of this later in the show.
HAYES: We got Claire McCaskill coming up, actually to talk about some of that. Mona Charen, thank you very much.
CHAREN: My pleasure.
HAYES: The January 6 committee today announced there won`t be any hearings next week, in part because they`re still getting new evidence, which means tomorrow`s hearing is the last one on the calendar for now. It`s a big one because it`s all about Donald Trump`s attempted mini coup inside his own department of justice. We`ll get into all that with committee member Jamie Raskin next.
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RUBY FREEMAN, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTIONS WORKER: I have lost my name, and I lost my reputation. I`ve lost my sense of security all because a group of people starting with number 45 and his ally, Rudy Giuliani decided to scapegoat me and my daughter, Shaye, to push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen.
SHAYE MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTIONS WORKER: A lot of threats wishing death upon me, telling me that you know, I`m -- I`ll be in jail with my mother and saying things like, be glad it`s 2020 and not 1920.
SCHIFF: We`re a lot of these threats and vile comments are racist in nature?
MOSS: A lot of them were racist. A lot of them were just hateful. Yes, sir.
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HAYES: Yesterday`s January 6 hearing was really powerful and included some of the most compelling testimony I`ve ever seen in a hearing. We have another hearing scheduled tomorrow, that one will include principals who were in the room when Donald Trump attempted his own kind of mini coup inside the Department of Justice, so he could then use the power of that office to steal the 2020 election. We`re going to hear from Trump`s acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, his acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, and his assistant attorney general Steven Engel.
Congressman Jamie Raskin is a Democrat in Maryland who sits in the January 6 Committee. He was also the lead impeachment manager in Trump`s second impeachment trial for inciting the insurrection. Congressman, let me -- let me start with you on this question of what your takeaway is from the committee`s evidence in the presentation so far of, like, what saved us from the worst outcome? Because one of the themes here I think, from the committee is how close it came, ultimately, that he just fell short. How do you understand what ended up saving us?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN, (D-MD): Well, it was the courageous acts of a lot of strong constitutional patriots along the line that prevented a whole series of plots from succeeding. You know, first there, of course, there were judges who refused to be told what to do, more than 60 of them, federal and state, including eight or nine of them who were appointed by Donald Trump himself to the bench.
And then there were Republican election officials in the states who refuse to bow down and usurp the will of the voters and just appoint electors for Trump. There were elections officials like Secretary of State Raffensperger, and Speaker Bowers, who refused to do what they were told. There were people like Shaye Moss, and Ruby, who refuse to be intimidated and browbeaten into not doing their jobs. And then ultimately, there was Mike Pence, who also stood up to the pressure and intimidation.
I mean, Donald Trump was like a steamroller, who was seeing who he could stampede essentially to do his will but these people stood up and the Capitol officers stood up and defended us for multiple hours when, you know, the domestic violent extremist groups could have gotten in, and they could have killed enough Democrats to switch control of the House of Representatives from the Democrats to the Republicans. So it was the courage of a lot of people, there was some luck in it, and some fortune in it.
Ultimately, I think that there`s so much more passion for democracy in the country than there is support for insurrection and coups. But on the other hand, we`re still in the fight of our lives here. And as we can see from the escalating violent threats against colleagues like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, and these election officials and so on, we`re not out of the danger zone at all because violence has been unleashed and we have not definitively put the insurrection and the coup down.
HAYES: Tomorrow, we have these Justice Department officials, this was a hearing that was delayed and we`re going to get to it tomorrow. What should we expect here? We know, some from reporting, we`ve heard some of the testimony in subpoenas, what should we be looking for tomorrow?
RASKIN: Well, I mean, it`s a startling thing to see the Department of Justice which people like to think of as a paragon of legal neutrality and objective decision-making suddenly being saturated by these outrageous political demands by the president of the United States, essentially to enter into his political campaign network and go and fight for him. And, you know, you have DOJ lawyers and observers who keep saying, why doesn`t he just use his own lawyers to go and make these claims? Why is he trying to get the U.S. Department of Justice to do it?
But that was the whole thing to try to subdue the DOJ and make it bend to his political will. And again, we see some tough constitutional patriots who say no. We see some other people who capitulate and are willing to do anything in the interest of advancing Donald Trump`s ambitions in their own power.
HAYES: One through-line that connects yesterday`s testimony that was revealing yesterday and tomorrow as we`ll see I think is -- I have to say, I -- we`ve spent as much time as anyone reporting on this I think. And I`m thinking about it.
And it is still surprising to me how the scope and systematic nature of the various attempts that just the thing that you guys showed about, the calls to the state legislators, the calls every day, the voicemails that it was not grasping at straws, you know. It wasn`t -- it wasn`t a temper tantrum. Did you understand how systematic, how broad, how, you know, targeted this entire effort was before entering into this investigation?
RASKIN: Well, I had an inkling of it because he did leave no stone unturned. And within the creaky antiquated Electoral College system, there are a lot of nooks and crannies and opportunities for a bad faith actor like Donald Trump to plant a lot of booby traps. And that`s precisely what he did. So, you know, I had thought about trying to identify the various decision points and junctures within the Electoral College.
And sure enough, he was at all of the -- trying to have his way and to usurp the will of the people and substitute his own political will. And it is sort of shocking when you step back and look at it. I guess the sad thing for me is that I`ve entered so much into Donald Trump`s head that I can see exactly where he`s going to go in the next move.
RASKIN: I mean, he has a real blood thirst for power.
HAYES: Congressman Jamie Raskin, we`ll be watching tomorrow. Thank you very much.
RASKIN: Thanks so much for having me.
HAYES: Still ahead. Why Democrats are spending money to support the most extreme far-right candidates in Republican primaries? The risky gambit and why it could backfire after this.
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SCHIFF: Our democracy held because courageous people like those you heard from today put their oath to the Constitution above their loyalty to one man or to one party. The system held but barely. And the question remains, will it hold again?
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HAYES: We just watched the January 6 Committee present evidence on just how close we came to the functional end of American democracy, at least in its current iteration. And after watching the fourth hearing, I feel pretty radicalized about how truly acute the threat is and also about how untenable the current political situation is.
And here`s what I mean. The strategy for preserving American democracy cannot simply be for one party to win every election, or else our system of representative democracy falls apart. It`s never going to work in a two- party system. So, we need Republican candidates who can be trusted not to execute a fascist takeover of our country if they take power. Something House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has spoken about quite a bit.
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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I`ve also said that Republican Party -- country needs a strong Republican Party. They made great contributions to our country. I say this to Republicans all the time. Take back your party from this cult. Take back your party. America needs a strong Republican Party and a strong Democratic Party.
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HAYES: Pelosi got some flak for those comments, but at the basic level, she`s right. I mean, normal healthy democracies don`t just have one party in power always. A functioning multiparty democracy has to be able to empower its conservative coalition with state power without fearing authoritarian takeover.
But as things have devolved out of the normal, we`re seeing a strategy being used in electoral politics where campaigns try to elevate the most noxious the most extreme candidates in the opposition party in order to help their own candidate win. The theory is to prop up an opposing candidate that`s so unelectable that your candidate seems like the only sane choice even of voters the other party.
Perhaps one of the first examples of this was then-Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is reelection bid in 2012. McCaskill was running as a Democrat in a pretty red state. She determined her best bet would be to run against a far-right Congressman named Todd Akin in the general election. So, her campaign spent nearly $2 million on an ad by highlighting Akin`s conservative credentials in the hopes of pushing him to victory in the Republican primary.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most conservative congressman in Missouri, as our senator, Todd Akin. A crusader against bigger government, Akin would completely eliminate the Departments of Education and Energy and privatize Social Security. Todd`s pro-family agenda would outlaw many forms of contraception. And Akin alone says President Obama is a complete menace to our civilization. Todd Akin, Missouri`s true conservative is just too conservative.
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HAYES: Senator McCaskill`s gambit work. Akin won the nomination and justice Senator McCaskill anticipated it paid off. McCaskill went on to win the general election by 15 points. And to be clear, McCaskill made what sure looks like a very smart tactical decision at the time. In her political environment, elevating Akin probably won her that seat, and it gave Democrats a crucial vote in the Senate.
So, this strategy has been seen as a model for future candidates. In fact, the Democrats basically tried the same thing again in 2016 with Donald Trump, but America has become increasingly polarized it had in just four short years. And Trump, despite all of his flaws, obviously, won the election electoral college. And so, that strategy backfired because politics changed.
Suddenly, it seemed like there was no such thing as a candidate too extreme for Republicans. Two years later, Claire McCaskill would lose her reelection bid against Republican Josh Hawley who`s in many ways, even more extreme than Todd Akin was. And so, you would think in this precarious moment ahead of what many forecasters say, will be a red wave election. In the midst of the January 6 hearings, what we`re learning about how close we came, Democrats would not be trying to elevate extremist candidates, election deniers, people with ties to QAnon, but they are.
It was Democratic Gubernatorial Nominee Josh Shapiro`s strategy in Pennsylvania. His campaign ran an ad supporting coup plotter Doug Mastriano successful bid for the Republican nomination. But here`s the thing. Mastriano was a very good shot at winning in November, and it seems clear would certainly use the levers of power to put his finger on the scale for Donald Trump in 2024. Here`s how Shapiro justified that decision on this show last month.
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JOSH SHAPIRO (D-PA), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: He has been poised to be the Republican nominee for weeks. He has led in every public and private poll, oftentimes by a healthy margin, even before Donald Trump at the 11th hour jumped into this race. I think what we`re trying to do is what we`re going to continue to do after presumably he wins the nomination tomorrow, and that is show the clear differences and show people what`s at stake, and show just how dangerous and out of touch he is with Pennsylvanians.
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HAYES: But it`s not just Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nanci Pelosi`s PAC is spending nearly $50,000 to support a far right election denier for the Republican nomination in a swing congressional district. Big money groups linked to the Democrats are spending $1.5 million for running hard-right candidates for Colorado`s Senate and Governor`s races.
And look Democratic strategist presumably have a reason for doing what they`re doing. There`s probably data I don`t have access to which shows this strategy is their best bet for a victory in November. But in a time when our democracy is on a razor`s edge, it does seem like a very risky gamble, doesn`t it?
One of the last Democratic politicians who actually pulled this off to great success joins me here at the table next.
HAYES: Back in 2012, then-Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill decided to take a gamble. Her campaign spent nearly $2 million, you know, attacking, but in some ways supporting a far-right candidate in the Republican primary, at least supporting in the view of the voters. The logic was if McCaskill could run against a fringe opponent, she would have an easier time holding the seat. And her money paid off when her handpicked Candidate, a man named Todd Akin won the nomination. Akin`s campaign quickly and famously imploded when he made these comments about sexual assault and abortion on a local news program.
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CHARLES JACO, HOST JACO REPORT: OK, so if an abortion could be considered in the case of, say, tubal pregnancy or something like that, what about in the case of rape? Should it be legal or not?
REP. TODD AKIN (R-MO): 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.
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HAYES: McCaskill would then go on to win her election by double digits. But the country has changed so much since 2012. Candidates like Todd Akin are no longer the Republican Party`s fringe, they are the party. So, should Democrats keep rolling the dice by propping up extremist opponents?
Former Senator Claire McCaskill represented Missouri as a Democrat from 2007 to 2019 and she joins me now. It`s great to have you here.
CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you.
HAYES: I mean, obviously, it was it was a very deft tactical strategy, and you didn`t just eke out a victory. I mean, he imploded. I mean, and that had effects throughout. Did you -- what went into your head as you guys were thinking about running these ads in the primaries?
MCCASKILL: Well, the first analysis was, would he be that different in the United States Senate than the other two viable candidates in the primary? Their voting records would have been about the same, Chris. They were all very conservative candidates. They all were going to vote much differently than I would. So, it wasn`t as if I was saying, I`m going to put somebody in who`s really bad compared to the other two --
HAYES: Right, right.
MCCASKILL: They were all three bad.
HAYES: Yes, that`s fair.
MCCASKILL: Secondly, it was an analysis that he didn`t have enough money. And I knew he was kind of weird. He said weird things. He didn`t have a filter. And I just thought, well, if we put enough money in it -- and by the way, that ad, if you notice, it said, I`m Claire McCaskill, I approve this message. There was nothing in that ad I didn`t believe. He was too conserve.
HAYES: No, yes, totally, yes.
MCCASKILL: So, to me, it was pretty upfront. I paid for the ad. Everybody knew I paid for the ad. And it really worked because I paid for the ad because people were calling going, if she wants us to vote for him, not to vote for him, we`re voting for him.
MCCASKILL: Because people -- the conservatives really didn`t like me, as you might imagine.
HAYES: OK, so now let`s talk about like the Mastriano example, right?
HAYES: So, it`s a similar analysis. I mean, I think that probably Mastriano in Pennsylvania is probably on the margins a weaker candidate than some of the other people that were in that primary field. I think Shapiro thinks that. Shapiro said to me well, he was, you know -- but he`s also like -- he strikes me as existentially dangerous to American democracy.
MCCASKILL: Yes, things have changed in 10 years. A couple of things have changed. One, what Todd Akin said that got him in so much trouble, wouldn`t get him in trouble today. And I think people forget, the Republican leadership really in a monolithic way, came together and rejected Todd Akin after that. They said don`t come to the Republican convention. John McCain said he doesn`t belong in the Senate. I mean, Mitt Romney was, you know -- and Paul Ryan, were stiff-arming him. So it was --
HAYES: That`s why you won -- well, not the only reason, but you won 15 points in a close --
MCCASKILL: No. Definitely why I had that much in a state that`s, you know, voted for Trump fight 20 points a few years later, two years later.
MCCASKILL: So -- no, more than that. But the point is that, you know, the Republican leadership had a bar that they were willing to stand up to in terms of their candidates. We don`t have that now. I think, you know, you know, as you and I were talking, if you can say, Hang Mike Pence and the Republican Party doesn`t reject you --
MCCASKILL: You know, there`s a problem. Now, I`m not going to criticize the candidates who are doing it because I assume they`ve been careful. I assume they`ve done the data and they believe that they can win in the most robust way if these extreme candidates are nominated. And, you know, some people will argue that Donald Trump elected that candidate in Pennsylvania because that was his candidate, not the ads that Josh Shapiro ran. So --
HAYES: Right. But the point is that it`s a very high leverage strategy.
MCCASKILL: It is.
HAYES: And it`s also like - it gets a little bit -- I think back to this Mona Charen point, I don`t know if you saw on the A block, where it`s like, it is hard to -- like, people want to win, obviously, and they want to win for good reasons, not just selfish, ego reasons. They want to do things, right? But this question of this -- a little bit of this ethical choice, like it`ll -- you`ll marginally improve your odds of winning. But if you lose, like the threat to democracy is more severe. And like, I think that that one`s got to figure maybe a little larger than it is right now.
MCCASKILL: I`m not sure about that. And I think it`s really easy to cast a moral judgment on these candidates, particularly if you`ve never run in a district or in a state where you can`t win with just the members of your own party.
HAYES: Right, sure.
MCCASKILL: I mean, a state like Missouri right now, you know, none of us are cheering for Eric Greitens who had that repugnant effort to get attention this week, you know, saying he`s going to hunt down and murder.
HAYES: Oh, the death squad --
MCCASKILL: Yes, his political opponents. None of us want him in the United States Senate. But I guarantee you this. The Republicans are all really hoping he doesn`t win the primary, because they know we have a shot if he wins the primary. I don`t think anybody`s promoting him in the Democratic Party.
HAYES: No, no, that`s a different -- I mean, that`s a different thing, right, if you -- if you sort of take the hand you`re dealt with. The question is when you`re actively doing things to intervene.
MCCASKILL: Right. Right. But some of the districts, it`s probably a smart move, because they`ve looked at the data, they looked at the various people running, they see where the best chances to win, and put in a legislative body particularly. It`s not like one more crazy congressman is going to make a huge difference in Washington at this point. There`s plenty of them.
HAYES: I mean -- right, I guess that`s true. But I also feel like the political culture of the country is so degraded. It`s so obviously degraded and the degradation of the culture is so clearly like an actual -- again, like a real threat.
MCCASKILL: OK, let`s make a deal. Let`s come --
HAYES: I mean, I have no power over this.
MCCASKILL: I want to back to the show after the election is over. Let`s analyze how many of their efforts to nominate the most extreme candidates were successful --
MCCASKILL: -- and how many of them were defeated.
HAYES: I mean, if you pull it off, God bless you.
MCCASKILL: Yes, that`s what I say. If you pull it off, God bless you. But no question, there`s much more --
HAYES: You better pull it off.
MCCASKILL: -- much more today than there was a decade ago. Much more danger.
HAYES: All right, Claire McCaskill, it`s great to have you. Thanks for coming in.
MCCASKILL: Thank you. You bet.
HAYES: I appreciate it. While all eyes on Capitol Hill have been focused on the House in the January 6 hearings, last night, there was a major breakthrough in the Senate on gun reform. Senator Chris Murphy on last night`s bipartisan vote after this.
HAYES: While much of our attention has been on the dramatic testimony from the January 6 Committee hearings in the House, the Senate quietly voted 64 to 34 to move a new bipartisan gun safety bill forward. It means 14 Republicans voted for it. Democrats hoped to pass the bill out of the Senate by the end of the week.
The bill is not nothing either. It`s not some like trivial symbolic thing. It is the first major national gun legislation in 30 years. And among other things, it is going to close the so-called boyfriend loophole, add enhanced background checks for anyone 18 to 21 years old, allocate a lot of money to help states with red flag laws, and spend billions of dollars improving mental health care across the country.
The bill came together just weeks after the murder of 19 children and their two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. And for all the concerns in the aftermath of that horrific mass shooting, this time would be like every other time, we would all be very upset, grieving, and nothing would be done, so far, that`s not how it turned out.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut led this bipartisan effort and he joins me now. It looks like -- I mean, I guess first of all, if you`re -- you got the votes, right? I mean, this is going to pass. Is that your strong belief?
MURPHY: That is my strong belief, right? I shouldn`t count my chickens until they`ve hatched, but we had 14 Republican votes last night. We will have final passage either tomorrow evening or on Friday. We actually I think have a chance to grow that number and have 15, 16 Republicans supporting this in the end, something that was frankly unthinkable 30 days ago, absolutely unthinkable 10 years ago when we only got three or four Republican votes for the first attempt at passing anti-gun violence legislation after Sandy Hook.
And it`s a signal of how far this debate has come, how the political power on the issue of guns has shifted in a decade, a credit to literally millions of activists and advocates all across the country. And I think we`re going to get this done and get it over to the House and sign the most important anti-gun violence bill in 30 years. That`s a big deal.
HAYES: The NRA is going to whip against the vote. They announced that after it came out. That`s not a surprise. Does it matter, I guess?
MURPHY: I don`t think it matters. And that`s shocking, right, because again, for 30 years in Washington, the NRA got everything they wanted. And if the NRA opposed a bill, it was essentially dead letter. That`s not the case any longer. And that is because over time, citizens have organized. And especially in the wake of Uvalde, when senators went home, they heard loud and clear from their constituents that this time, doing nothing could not be an option. The fear and the anxiety was just palpable in this country.
So, yes, the NRA is opposed to this bill. And there are going to be somewhere between 15 and 20 Republican senators, they`re going to vote for it, which I think sort of paves the way for even more progress in the future now that we have broken this logjam. That`s maybe the legacy of the bill in the long run.
HAYES: Yes, that was actually going to be my follow-up. You know, the way political power works, I think the sort of specter of it sometimes can be as important as the -- as the effectuation of it. I mean, the Donald Trump effect, right? Like, oh, he`s going to tweet about me, or he might endorse my primary. Like, it turns out when you actually take on Donald Trump in a primary, in a Republican primary, like, you got a shot. And I think to the extent that that happens, it diminishes his power.
And I wonder if there`s a similar dynamic with the NRA, right, that if you -- if you cross them on a vote and you`re still around, maybe that changes the calculation.
MURPHY: Well, and what if, for Republicans who vote for this, they see political gain, not just the lack of a sky falling? I think that`s what`s going to happen. I think Republicans are going to see that there are a lot of folks who sign up for their cause in the wake of this who might have stayed on the sidelines. But now that they see a Republican willing to act on gun violence, that`s going to accrue to their political benefit.
But I mean, just for a second, Chris, I don`t want to view this all through the prism of sort of the political shift and what comes next because this bill in and of itself saves a whole bunch of lives between red flags and taking guns away from domestic abusers and new tools to stop gun trafficking. This bill is going to save thousands of lives all across this country. And I want us to, you know, also celebrate that.
HAYES: Totally. So, I want to talk about the federal criminal offences for gun trafficking and how they work. What is in there and what does that -- what does it mean?
MURPHY: So, you know, one of the biggest problems in this -- in this country is the flow of illegal guns from states with loose background check laws where criminals can easily buy guns, into states like Connecticut that have stricter background checks. There is no federal criminal prohibition on gun trafficking. There is no federal criminal prohibition on straw purchasing. That`s when somebody goes in and buys guns for someone that is prohibited from buying guns. That`s how a lot of these guns get into illegal traffic.
So, for the first time, we now have federal crimes that prosecutors can use and threaten to use to unwind these trafficking rings. And I`ve heard a couple experts in the field suggest that provision may actually be in the long run the most important because to cut down on the flow of illegal guns into places like Connecticut, cities like New York or Chicago, you know, it might pay off in bigger ways than some of the other provisions of this bill around red flags or background checks on under 21-year-olds.
HAYES: Well, that`s why I wanted to zoom in on that because the supply issue seems so pressing here, right? There were so many guns in the country. There have been so many sold just in the last three years. This seems -- you know, you`ve got individual actors, right, someone who has some kind of distress that might be stopped by a background check. But in the broadest sense, that part of the bill seems like the most to address the aggregate supply of just how available guns are for people to use for bad purposes.
MURPHY: What we know is that in communities that have more guns, there`s more gun violence. It`s a one-for-one. As you have one percent more guns available in a community, you have one percent more homicidal violence. And, you know, what we also know is that without the federal government being involved in going after gun trafficking, states are really helpless because the trafficking occurs across state boundaries.
But the gun lobby had been incredibly effective for 30 years in stopping the passage of a federal prohibition on trafficking because they knew that ultimately that was going to make it a lot harder for this illegal flow of guns that makes a lot of money for these guys. So, this is a big deal.
HAYES: Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, thank you very much for joining us tonight. That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.