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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 8/24/22

Guests: Ian Bassin, Zoe Lofgren, Tressie McMillan Cottom


New York Special Election results show a shift in 2022 tides. Democrat Pat Ryan won the special election in New York`s 19th district. Former Senator Claire McCaskill joins Hayes to discuss how voters are increasingly rejecting GOP extremism. Washington Post reports that information in the Trump Mar-a-Lago stash are among the most sensitive secrets we hold. January 6 investigators traveled to Copenhagen to view the Roger Stone footage. President Joe Biden announces $10,000 in student loan debt relief.


PRISCILLA THOMPSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Something that certainly would not bode well for all of the people who turned out today to express their concerns. Joy?

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Wow. Wow. Priscilla Thompson, that is excellent reporting. Thank you very much. What a letter. Thank you very much. I appreciate that. And that is tonight`s "REIDOUT". Wow, that is a lot. ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.



PAT RYAN (D-NY), CONGRESSMAN-ELECT: We won because this was a referendum on freedom.

HAYES: Breaking news, a political party that threatens democracy and ends reproductive rights may have trouble winning elections.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (R-CA): Republicans should be very, very, very scared this morning about their prospects.

HAYES: Tonight, national political shockwaves from an election in Upstate New York. Then, it just gets worse at Mar-a-Lago where Donald Trump reportedly refused to return the most sensitive secrets American intelligence hold.

Plus, why is the January 6 Committee sending investigators to Denmark and what does it have to do with Roger Stone? I`ll ask Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.

And measuring the impact on tens of millions of American lives after President Biden`s student debt cancellation.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I made a commitment and I`m honoring that commitment today.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. We got new election results last night. And I got to say, in the clear light of day, 24 hours later, one thing is clearer than it has ever been. We are right now as I speak to you tonight in a whole new world politically. What the future will bring, how the November midterm elections will unfold 76 days from now is obviously unknown. It`s in the future. But if you`re trying to figure out what the expectation, it is basically a jump ball now. It`s a -- it`s a 50-50 proposition right now. And I am shocked to find myself saying that.

I mean, truly, just a few months ago, it did not seem like that would be the case. And there were a number of obvious reasons why. Of course, first are the structural factors. In modern politics, it`s a truism. The incumbent party loses seats during the Midterm Elections. It dates back to the FDR administration, if not longer. It`s a reality of our system of government, political gravity.

The Democrats start off as underdogs. Then they had to contend with a string of really bad luck, part of it just the end of the pandemic`s worst phase and the getting back to normal. There are lingering supply chain issues and the pandemic led to concerns over empty store shelves, including that very well-documented and very scary baby formula shortage.

And those supply chain issues were also one factor in record high inflation, which again, was afflicting basically every country across the world. But you know, you can`t tell a voter as well, everyone is in the same boat. It really did seem poised to be the single undoing of the Biden administration. And part of that inflation were the enormously high gas prices.

Another issue for incoming Democrats, Republicans -- again, this is a political layup taking every opportunity to talk about the price of the pump and how is the Democrats fault. Of course, part of the reason gas prices were so high as the Biden ministration was trying to contend with the largest land war in Europe since World War II, which was dominating headlines, the six-month anniversary of which is today. As well as a seemingly total collapse of all President Biden`s major legislative domestic goals in Congress.

And all of that together led to historic lows in President Biden`s approval rating. I mean, in the 30s, worse than Donald Trump was at the same point the presidency. A majority Americans, huge majority saying the country is on the wrong track. Just an endless sense. I mean, I really felt this way. Things would never really go back to normal.

People were and I think rightly predicting an absolute catastrophe, a bloodbath for Democrats in the Midterms, possibly in line with the 2010 Midterms when reactionary backlash to President Obama and the Affordable Care Act led to Democrats an absolutely ruinous election where they lost 63 House seats, six in the House, six in the Senate, and many state houses that they may not recover for a generation.

But then, as summer started just a few months ago, things changed. The first real evidence we got of this change this pivot, this new trajectory that we`re on, wasn`t really so much in polling, though that started to change too and I still have a hard time trusting it too much. But it was an actual special elections where real voters are showing up to cast actual votes.

These races, these special elections, they normally take place outside usually election days to replace sudden vacancies, right? They`re generally a pretty good bellwether for where the country is headed. A good example, one of the most infamous is back in 2010. Remember when Republicans Scott Brown kind of shocked the world defeating Democrat Martha Coakley by nearly five points in the special election to replace the late Senator Ted Kennedy in deep blue Massachusetts.


Ted Kennedy passed away and that guy won the seat. That defeat was ominous and it foreshadowed the party`s very grim prospects 10 months later. So, if Democrats were in that same position as Democrats were in the end of 2009, or they were in summer of 2010, if they were cruising towards a historic November blowout, you would expect Republicans to be significantly overperforming in the special election races.

But the thing is, they are not. The first clue we got to this is back in June when there was a special election to replace Nebraska Republican Congressman Jeff Fortenberry. Now Fortenberry resigned from Congress after he was convicted of three felony counts of lying to the FBI about foreign campaign contributions. The Republican running to replace Fortenberry won that special election, but the margin was much closer than anyone expected.

A guy named Mike Food won Nebraska`s first congressional district, but he only went up by six points in June of this year. Donald Trump won that seam district by 15 points in 2020. Fortenberry won that seat by 22 points in the same election cycle. That was number one.

Number two, we saw something similar in this month Minnesota special election to replace late Congressman -- Republican Congressman Jim Hagedorn. Now, the Republican, again, won the seat. It`s a Republican seat. Republican Brad Finstad won the seat. Finstad won by four points which about matches Hagedorn`s latest margin.

Trump won the district by 10 points in 2020. Again, that -- those numbers there where you`re winning by six points less than Donald Trump, where you`re winning by the same margin as the guy who held the seat, those are not the kind of results that you see in a red wave year. In a red wave year, in 2010 year, in 1994 year, in that environment, you might see Republican candidates rack up double-digit margins of victory. Instead, Democrats are the ones who`ve been overperforming.

And that brings us to last night special elections in New York. Politics junkies were really looking at these two races because they are their own kind of Bellwether. So first, there was the race in New York`s 23rd district to replace former Congressman Tom Reed. We`ve had him on the program. He resigned after a lobbyist accused him of touching her inappropriately without her consent.

In 2020, Trump won the district by 11, Reed won it by 17. Last night, the Republican candidate did 10 points worse, winning by about seven points. Again, that`s four points off Donald Trump`s performance in 2020. The real marquee race last night was on New York`s 19th district to fill the seat vacated by Democrat Antonio Delgado when he became New York`s lieutenant governor. He was appointed to be the lieutenant governor when the previous lieutenant governor was indicted.

Now, the 19th is a swingy rural district, a perfect case study for this theory, right? It`s one of those districts that Obama had won and then Donald Trump won the district by six points back in 2016. Joe Biden four years later narrowly flipped it back in 2020 by two points. So, this is a district that go either way. Again, if this were 2010 or this were 2014 or 1994, this is the kind of competitive district, you know, a mid-August, special election, hard to get turnout, where you would expect Republican enthusiasm to drive the Republican candidate to absolutely crush it.

I was expecting the Republican to win this race. Not only was that not the case, the Republicans didn`t win it at all. Democrat Pat Ryan won that special election. And as of now, he`s basically matching Biden`s margin of victory in 2020.

Now, there are a lot of reasons why the tide is turning for Democrats nationally. Inflation didn`t increase last month, month over month for the first time in like a year. It looks like it may have peaked. Gas prices are down quite significantly for earlier this year. And there`s a lot of political science literature to suggest gas prices are one of the most important inputs in voters decisions, and present.

But Biden`s luck seems to have shifted, partly the product of a lot of hard work by a lot of people, including the President and other staffers. Democrats found a compromise within their own party to pass that climate change bill. Today, Joe Biden announced his long-awaited student debt forgiveness plan. We`re going to talk about that later in the show. It`s a big deal.

But of course, the two most obvious factors that change things right when you look for the inflection point that change things in Democrats favor are abortion rights, and the existential threat to American democracy. Now, on abortion rights, it was of course, the Dobbs decision overturning Roe versus Wade in June that immediately, I mean, in that moment, within days, cast millions of women in America into legal regimes of forced pregnancy that are basically unmatched almost anywhere in the world.

Not surprisingly, it has led to a massive backlash and mobilization among Democrats, although not just Democrats. It`s especially true for women who are registering to vote in record numbers since reproductive rights were put so explicitly on the ballot. And since Roe was overturned, we`re basically at a record high for the number of Americans who identify as pro- choice.


Plus, we just saw voters in deep-red Kansas overwhelmingly vote in support of abortion rights when it was put to a referendum. Abortion was certainly a key factor in that victory in the 19th district, Democrat Pat Ryan`s victory in New York`s 19th last night. In fact, Ryan ran as unabashedly pro-choice candidate. He said explicitly his strategy, nationalize a race by making it a referendum on reproductive rights. And voters told NBC News that abortion was top of mind during this race.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As you were casting your ballot today, what was sort of the issue that was top of mind for you?

KATHERINE TREZZA, NEW YORK VOTER: I think just in general, for me, being a woman, firstly, abortion rights are incredibly important.

ROBERT TONNER, NEW YORK VOTER: The first thing that pops into my mind is that Roe versus Wade thing. That just -- that freaked me out. And I just thought that, you know, every election, every time there`s a chance to vote and to say something, you got to go out and say it.


HAYES: Those voters are not alone. Abortion is likely going to be a major issue for Democrats in November. But it is not the only issue. In fact, according to a new NBC News poll, abortion is not the number one issue for Americans right now. It`s not inflation or the economy either, which is honestly kind of surprising. No, the number one issue, the issue that most Americans volunteer for the thing that they`re most concerned about are threats to our democracy.

And it makes sense. I mean, the last president attempted a coup, and unprecedented attempt to snuff out American democracy as we know it. He nearly got away with it. He`s almost certainly going to run again in 2024. In the meantime, a party beholden to him has this crop of new candidates running for office in his wake who posed profound threats to our basic democratic order.

Carl Paladino famously racist, sexist New York Republican who got himself into trouble this campaign season not for the first time when he publicly praised Adolf Hitler`s leadership style. Laura Loomer, an ultra-fringe conspiracy theorist, anti-Muslim extremist, calls herself a proud Islamophobe, was photographed last night with outright white nationalists at her campaign party. They both ran Republican primaries last night. And they lost, that`s the good news, but by single digits.

I mean, these were close races. These were competitive races. And I cannot -- truly cannot overstate how unfit these two people are. These are self- disqualifying candidates. These are people that should be not within 1000 miles of the halls of power. They should be at a 20 races at best. Instead, Paladino and Loomer both earned well over 40 percent of the vote.

So, the voters in this country, part of the majority I got to say, voters in the broad -- the popular front, I`d like to call it, right, the pro- democracy coalition, the pro-democracy majority, those voters have every reason to continue to be freaked the heck out that the Republican Party, one of the two major parties we have, simply cannot be entrusted with the keys to our Constitutional Republic.

And the threat to democracy, to abortion rights, to bodily autonomy, that is -- it has changed the game. Just ask Democrat Pat Ryan, the winner of that special election in New York`s 19th district.


RYAN: I think the message is when fundamental rights and freedoms are under attack, we have to stand up, we have to fight, we have to be strong and clear. And when you do that, people rally. I mean, the issues at stake, reproductive rights, abortion access are our fundamental rights that transcend partisanship. And we saw that in Kansas, we saw it last night here in New York. I think we`re going to continue to see it.

And we just saw polling that the number one concern for people in this country are threats to democracy. That is real. That is visceral. And that is what I really center this campaign about.


HAYES: Now, look, it`s still early. And as I keep saying and have, I think, said always on this show, right, the future is unwritten. That can change between now November. Lord knows what could happen. Imagine being early February and thinking like you knew what was going to happen in 2020, right? But it is absolutely the case that right now, from what we know, we are an entirely new political world.

Claire McCaskill is a former Democratic senator who representative Missouri from 2007 to 2019. And she joins me now. Claire, you`re obviously an extremely astute political observer and one-time practitioner. What`s your understanding of where the landscape is now and how it`s changed and why?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first, I want everybody to slow down a little bit. We are still the underdogs in this election. And I am speaking as someone in 2018, we picked up 40 seats in the House but we still lost four senators. And you`re looking at one that got beat that year.


HAYES: Totally, yes.

MCCASKILL: So, I really want everyone to realize we can`t stop organizing, we can`t stop donating, we can`t stop volunteering. We are still the underdogs. Having said that, I think even though abortion wasn`t at the top of the list when you ask people in that poll what issues they cared about, when governments across the country are threatening to forced incest victims to give birth, that makes people angry. And anger equals turnout. Emotion equals turnout. And that`s what we were missing in this election.

Everyone was worried about inflation, worried about gas prices, and then we had the slaughter of children in a classroom closely followed by the taking away of a fundamental right that women in this country had had for 50 years. That combination, I think, is what`s motivating more people to vote. And that`s what I think you`re seeing here.

It remains to be seen, honestly, Chris, whether Trump voters will turn out when Trump is not on the ticket and not in office.

HAYES: So, that -- I want to -- I want to hone in on that point. Obviously, I completely agree. I mean, I think that, you know, at this point, the best case scenario, right, would be for the absolute best, everything went perfectly for Democrats to like barely hold on to the majority. So, that`s at the highest end of like your expectations, right, if you`re a Democrat.

So, you -- Democrats remain the underdogs for all kinds of reasons. But on that turnout question, there`s something really interesting. You know, you look at the rural numbers last night in some of these districts that had sort of more densely populated places, more rural places, you didn`t see the kind of turnout. You didn`t get the turnout numbers in those rural districts you would kind of need, right, to hit those like 2016 margins, or to hit the -- you know, a big Trump victory or big red wave.

What do you understand that as that one, what you just mentioned is that maybe those folks don`t turn out if Trump isn`t actually there?

MCCASKILL: There`s a whole lot of people that became active in my state for the first time around Donald Trump. They remain slavishly loyal to him, to him, and he loves them. And by the way, money is another big part of this. And one of the reasons that Republicans are struggling in campaign donations, candidate donations, is the grassroots money is all going to Trump, not to Marco Rubio or Dr. Oz or J.D. Vance.

HAYES: Right.

MCCASKILL: When they`re putting $20 million of dark money into help in Ohio, you know they`re very worried. And that`s the other thing I want to say about where we are right now. Everyone is talking oh, Val Demings outraised Marco Rubio. Watch. You hear that beep, beep, beep, Chris, that`s the dark money truck backing up right to dump tens upon millions of dollars in all of these races across the country.

So, everybody has got to remain vigilant because just because more people are giving to Democratic candidates doesn`t mean there aren`t mega-donors in the back room writing five, 10, $20 million checks to try to get the candidates of their choice that are on the other side.

HAYES: That`s a great point. And we should note, thanks to the Supreme Court`s conservative jurisprudence following Citizens United and the wonders of modern technology, that Rick Scott who`s the -- who`s tasked with winning Senate seats, Republicans can probably coordinate some of those donations and that dark money from his yacht in the Adriatic Sea where he is right now on a vacation which has earned him I think some fairly justified ire from folks in Republican politics who feel like the multimillionaire, billionaire on the Italian yacht vacation tweeting about Joe Biden, and maybe not doing the best job is not the guy you want right now in the trenches. What do you think?

MCCASKILL: Yes, I think that`s right. And there`s a fight brewing, a fairly big fight brewing between Rick Scott and Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell thinks that it was Rick Scott`s job to get some of these fringe candidates out. He didn`t. Trump is supporting Rick Scott and not Mitch McConnell. So, there is really some -- I`ve never seen this kind of "trouble in paradise" in the Republican caucus. But there`s trouble there. There is real disunity over who`s in charge.

HAYES: Yes, it`s a great point. And Mitch McConnell`s dead pan candidate quality was not tossed off. That -- he knew what he was saying and he knew who that was directed to.


HAYES: Claire McCaskill, always great to hear from you. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.

MCCASKILL: You bet, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, the most sensitive secrets we hold. That`s a phrase from a stunning nude report on what the FBI expected to find a Donald Trump`s retirement home. That`s next.



HAYES: The more we learn about the facts and circumstances that preceded the FBI search of Donald Trump`s Mar-a- Lago residence, the worse it gets to the ex-president. Now, I said that I think verbatim yesterday, but then after I said it, it was shown to be true yet again, because we got even more revelations. The latest according to The Washington Post, "About two dozen boxes of presidential records stored in then-President Donald Trump`s White House residence were not returned to the National Archives and Records Administration in the final days of his term. Even after Archives officials were told by a Trump lawyer the document should be returned according to an email from the top lawyer at the record-keeping agency."


So, the emails dated May 2021, about 100 days after Trump vacated the White House, just one of many efforts the Archives officials made for months and months to get the records back discreetly. In the end, it took the FBI showing up to Mar-a-Lago to retrieve a lot of those records just a few weeks ago.

Two people familiar with the search tell the post, "Some material covered is considered extraordinarily sensitive because it could reveal carefully guarded secrets about U.S. intelligence gathering methods. One of them said the information is, and this really stopped me of tracts "among the most sensitive secrets we hold."

Ian Bassin is a former Associate White House Counsel under President Barack Obama and co-founder and executive director of Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to fighting efforts to undermine democracy. And he joins me now. Ian, first, let me start about this revelation here in this reporting, and I want to read this here because I thought it was it was interesting.

So, you`ve got the White House`s own lawyers apparently saying, you got to give this stuff to the Archives. I`m quoting from a letter. "It is also understanding roughly two dozen boxes of original Presidential records were kept in the residence of the White House over the course of President Trump`s last year in office have not been transferred to the archives despite a determination by Pat Cipollone in the final days the administration that they need to be." That`s the NARA folks writing.

You worked in the White House Counsel`s Office in the -- in the Obama White House? What`s the significance of that?

IAN BASSIN, CO-FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PROTECT DEMOCRACY: I mean, we when I was in the White House Counsel`s Office, constantly briefed senior White House officials all the way up to the President on the importance of following laws like the Presidential Records Act and the host of others that govern executive branch behavior. And one of the things that we would say in those briefings is that there are serious consequences for violation of these laws. And as with any set of rules, the fact that consequences exist is one of the key reasons why people follow rules.

So, I say that because it`s hard for me to imagine being in the White House Counsel`s Office trying to train people on the right things to do and having there being a clear precedent that there are no consequences for violation, which is just one of the critical stakes here for what is going to happen after all these facts have come out. And it`s fairly clear, as you indicated just now, that the former president, you know, seemed to be fully aware of what he was doing.

HAYES: Yes. I will just say, first person, my wife worked in the White House Counsel`s Office in the Obama Administration as I`ve said many times. She, you, all of you guys were neurotic obsessives about this kind of stuff. I mean, truly to what I found, like an almost deranged degree, like, I-dotting, T-crossing. But to your point, the stakes here, particularly when you`re dealing with sensitive information for people that are sort of falling this and be like, what`s the big deal about documents, what do you say to them why do you take it so seriously? What do you say to them about what the stakes are here over and above whether people follow the rules?

BASSIN: Well, I want to link this back to what you were talking about earlier in the show about threats to democracy, right, which is about something about accountability and threats to democracy. So, I think one of the most enduring shifts in American perceptions over the last several years, and you wrote about this in your first book, Twilight of the Elites, has been after the financial crisis, there was a real change, whereas before the financial crisis, there was the sense that Americans felt that if they worked hard and played by the rules, that they too could succeed, that they could get rich, that they could get ahead.

And after the financial crisis, there was this notion that for, you know, average Americans, if you -- if you worked hard, you weren`t going to get ahead. And if powerful people broke the rules, they were going to get ahead. And that was a real fundamental shift. And it`s one of the reasons why one of the most effective lines that Donald Trump had in 2016 and one of the elements of his appeal was to say, if you average voter had done what Hillary Clinton had done, you would have gone to jail.

Now that was false, but it played on this notion that there`s a different set of rules for the powerful and everyone else. And that shift is actually driving a loss of faith in our system and is driving the democracy crisis of which Donald Trump is a symptom. And if the end result of all of this is that the average realtor from Dallas who entered the Capitol on January 6, the rank and file person gets prosecuted with a full weight of the American government, but the leader at the top who has orchestrated all of this law- breaking gets a free pass, that`s not going to solve our democracy crisis. That is going to cement the sentiment driving it that the American Dream, that the rule of law, that equality under the law, that no one is above the law is a lie.

That`s the stakes above and beyond whatever the secrets are that are really important this country, and those are independently really important. Those are the stakes here as to whether our system is really can hold in his true.


HAYES: Yes. I mean, just ask reality winner. what happens when the government comes at you for leaking a single document to the public, the longest Espionage Act conviction, four years in prison for one single document. That`s what happened to her. We`ll see what happens to Donald Trump. Ian Bassin, thank you very much.

BASSIN: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Still ahead, the January 6 Committee has been quiet recently but they have still been busy with investigative trips to Denmark. Public hearing is expected to start back up next month. Committee Member Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren joins me next.



HAYES: As I mentioned the top of the show, the number one issue for voters right now according to a new polling from NBC is threats to democracy. It seems that`s due in part perhaps in large parts of the work of the January 6 Committee publicly scrutinizing the ongoing threat that Donald Trump and the MAGA faction of American politics poses to American democracy.

They`re not done yet. New reporting says that aides for the committee traveled to Denmark last week to review documentary footage related to Trump ally Roger Stone. Apparently, he had a documentary being made about him too. We`re slated to hear more of the committee`s finding soon when hearings resume next month.

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is a Democrat from California who serves on the January 6 Committee, and she joins me now. First, let me ask you that question about that polling about threats to democracy being the number one issue top of voters` minds. What role do you think your committee`s work has played in that? What`s your reaction to seeing that?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, I don`t know what role we`ve played but it is, in fact, a very serious matter as I think the committee has showed through our hearings. Democracy was hanging by a thread on January 6 and that thread is not yet over. And we have a lot of things we need to worry about, the economy, inflation, the environment, good jobs and the like. But if we lose our democracy, we won`t be able to deal with any of that.

And I think that is really sinking in with people. At least that`s what people tell me when I`m out and about in my district.

HAYES: You know, the committee it seemed to me, and you can correct me if I`m wrong, engaged in a long period of fact-finding, it started having public hearings, those public hearings themselves produced more information, more fact, finding more witnesses coming forward, more documents that lead to more hearings. What should we be expecting this fall when the committee reconvenes after this recess?

LOFGREN: Well, we`ve been working throughout this recess, the members of the committee as well as our staff getting additional information. Another thing that we`ve been working on, as you know, the committee`s charge is not just to find all the facts and lay them out, but also to come up with potential recommendations for legislative changes or administrative changes. We`re also working on that.

And Liz Cheney, and I have just about finished our work on our proposal for the Electoral Count Act, so that people intend on overturning our democracy will have a harder time with their mischief in the future, as well as other things. So, yes, we`re working and we hope to have more information and facts for the public in September as the chairman and vice chairwoman announced before we recessed in July.

HAYES: Speaking of the vice chair who both of them said that we can expect public hearings in September, the Vice Chair gave an interview talking about Mike Pence who she said she hoped would testify. I know that, you know, you`re all just -- you`re speaking to me now as an individual member. You`re on the committee, you don`t speak for the committee, but would you like to see Mike Pence testify?

LOFGREN: Sure. We`ve we learned a lot about Mike Pence because his top people did come in and answer questions extensively. So, it`s not a complete unknown. But if he were willing to come in, that`d be great. I`d love to talk to him. There`s still a few missing pieces I think.

HAYES: There is reporting that some staffers went to Denmark to view footage from a documentary film that was being made about Roger Stone. What can you tell us about that?

LOFGREN: Well, as you`ll recall, Roger Stone came in to our committee and publicly revealed that he had taken the Fifth to every question. He refused to answer questions. And we`re a civil body. We`re a legislative body and you`re allowed to make some assumptions when someone pleads the Fifth. Apparently, he must fear that he has criminal liability for the actions.

Well, it turns out, videographers took a lot of footage of a whole variety of people, including Mr. Stone, and especially when a witness refuses to answer questions, we`re eager to see what the video evidence might show. So, I can`t go into it more than that, but we do hope to find all that there is to know not only about Mr. Stone, but Mr. Bannon and many others who I think played a role in the whole events leading up to January 6.


HAYES: They did a lot of video recording of themselves it seems. I mean, just about everywhere all throughout all the cases in January 6, the bigwigs as well. No shortage of that. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, thank you so much for coming on tonight.

LOFGREN: Anytime.

HAYES: Still to come, a big, big move for the Biden administration that will help millions of people struggling with student loan debt. That`s ahead.



HAYES: Some more election news. After last night`s primary election, we are now almost certainly going to have a new youngest member of the United States Congress. The U.S. Constitution requires members of the House to be a minimum of 25 years old. And the last 25-year-old elected to Congress sworn in right before January 6 was Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina. You remember him.

Cawthorn was initially embraced by Trump, bunch of other Republicans, until a series of scandals tarnished his appeal. Most notably his claim that Republican colleagues invited him to cocaine-fueled orgies.


REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): I look at all these people, a lot of them. you know, I`ve looked up to through my life, I`ve always paid attention to politics, guys that you know -- then all of a sudden, you get invited to like, hey, we`re going to have kind of a sexual get together at one of our homes. You should come. And I`m like, what did you just ask me to come to? And then you realize they`re asking you to come to an orgy.

Or the fact that, you know, there`s some of the people that are leading on the movement to try and remove, you know, addiction in our country, and then you watch them doing a key bump of cocaine right in front of you.


HAYES: Just a keep bump of cocaine right in front of you. That earned him a rebuke from the Republican House leader. He was not liked about that. Criticism from fellow North Colorado Republicans, a whole controversy that he should name names. So, after alienating just about everyone in his own party, Cawthorn lost his primary election three months ago. He will leave Congress after his term ends in January.

His replacement as the new youngest member of Congress will almost certainly be Maxwell Frost. Now, Frost is a 25-year-old who won his Democratic primary race by double digits in Florida`s comfortably blue 10th congressional district last night. Maxwell Frost is in every way, essentially the opposite of Madison Cawthorn.

While Cawthorn was busted twice for trying to board an airplane with a loaded gun, Frost is a gun violence prevention advocate, a former national organizing director for the pro-gun safety group March of Our Lives founded after the shooting in Parkland, Florida. While Cawthorn, a who`s who of Republican lawmakers who wanted to get rid of him including the senators from his own state of North Carolina, Maxwell Frost had a who`s who of progressive voices and politicians behind him including Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

And while Madison Cawthorn tried to support the overthrow of American democracy by helping to incite a violent mob to stop certification of Biden`s win and subvert the will the voters, Frost was trying to expand democracy by leading a voter turnout program which helped drive record numbers of young people to the polls.

From where I stand, it seems like a pretty good trade. And on his first day as the Democratic nominee in what will almost certainly be a Democratic seat, Frost can tout one of the main issues he campaigned on, student debt cancellation. The President just made a big announcement on that really impressive details are hidden in the fine print, but they`re there. And that`s next.



HAYES: Have you ever wondered what at the federal level unified Democratic governance gets you? Well, you`re seeing the answer right now and it`s quite a bit. I mean, just look at the list of major legislation passed since the beginning of Joe Biden`s administration with the Democratic House and Senate behind him, although with very thin majorities.

The American Rescue Plan invested $1.9 trillion in the pandemic recovery, expanded the Child Tax Credit only for a year, unfortunately, but it put $1400 checks in millions of American mailboxes. It also helped state and local budgets. They didn`t have to cut and fire a whole bunch of people. Then, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law last November, funds everything on roads and bridges, to broadband access and power systems, utilities.

There`s the new Inflation Reduction Act, the largest investment in fighting climate change in this country`s history, will spend over $300 billion over 10 years. Also lower the cost of prescription drugs, creates a minimum tax rate for the wealthiest corporations. That`s legislatively.

Today, President Biden announced a sweeping plan for student loan relief. The administration will forgive up to $10,000 of debt for people making less than $125,000 a year, up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s 20 million people who can start getting on with their lives. All this means people can start -- finally crawl out from under that mountain of debt, to get on top of their rent and their utilities, to finally think about buying a home or starting a family or starting a business. And by the way, when this happens, the whole economy is better off.


HAYES: As the President said, this one program is going to help millions and millions of people just in material terms. The Democratic agenda so far have moved trillions of dollars focused primarily on middle working class and poor people. Tressie McMillan Cottom is a professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, an opinion columnist for the New York Times. She`s also the author of Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For Profit Colleges in the New Economy. She joins me now.

Tressie, you`re one of my go-to people on this issue on things about higher ed. It`s your area of academic expertise, though you write about a wide variety of topics. What`s your sort of top-line takeaway to folks who I`m sure are texting you all day about what this means? What do you think of it?


TRESSIE MCMILLAN COTTOM, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA CHAPEL HILL: It has been a busy day. Good to see you, Chris. You know, there`s a saying where I`m from in the American South this isn`t nothing to sneeze at. And so, that is my top line takeaway. You know, it can be difficult to accept a win when there`s so much that we need to win and still need to fight for.

But this is a pretty good day, a day that we owe a lot of credit to student activists for, for people who kept this issue in the limelight that kept pushing Democrats to the left on this issue. That is why we`re looking at something that actually targets and addresses negative amortization, which is when your loan balance increases over time even though you`re making payments.

This is something that takes into account that some people go into student loan indebtedness with a negative wealth position. So, targeting those people who have Pell Grants, those are -- tend to be the lowest income college students. So, all of these things are actually really good things. And we should probably enjoy this day. That is my top line takeaway.

HAYES: Yes. Your point there about negative amortization, which is one of the sort of sickest and most perverse aspects of this problem, right, people ending up paying much more than they initially borrowed. I mean, much, much, much more orders of magnitude, sometimes three or four times more because of ballooning interest payments. There`s some provisions here on that right to cap that.

And then there`s also -- this, I think, is an important thing that slipped through, the maximum percentage of your income paid. So, over and above the cancellation of some of this debt, they`re going to reduce that from 10% to five percent. Is that right?

COTTOM: That is correct, which takes into account something that activists and scholars who study this issue have been concerned about for some time, which is a lot of student loan indebtedness was taken on with the assumption that wages would rise over time, and that they would keep up with the cost of living inflation and what have you.

And I think this is an acknowledgment that the percentage of income that people were paying to this debt could not keep pace with wages. And so, I think this is an acknowledgment that the labor market hasn`t done its fair share to and rewarding people`s educational attainment. So, yes, this means more money in people`s pockets month over month, it also means paying less over the term of the loan.

And listen, this is money by the way that is going back into the federal government. The idea that there should have been so much profit extraction from the student loan system was always one of the more perverse and negative consequences of some policy missteps over the last few years. And this begins to address that.

HAYES: So, one of the thing -- one of the reasons I wanted to have you on particularly because I -- your book -- really learned a lot from your book, Lower Ed. You`re seeing -- this has provoked a lot of debate and discourse, right? And I think there`s some good faith criticisms of it and some folks across the spectrum. But one thing I find really pernicious is this kind of class war framing that you`re seeing often from like extremely wealthy, credentialed and degreed conservatives that this is -- you know, this is a handout to like the upper class, the expense of like the folk like the welders and the -- and the real working class.

And as someone who like really studied this issue, I want to hear what you say to that line of argument which has been everywhere today.

COTTOM: Well, it is -- first and foremost, it is disingenuous. It isn`t supported by evidence or fact, but that isn`t the point, right? When we start talking about class warfare and we start, you know, using sweeping terms like, you know, the wealthy, the working class, the real American, what we`re then talking about is political sportsmanship, right? And these are actually two different issues.

What was released today was actually really substantive engagement with understanding what has created the student loan crisis. The politics of it does not pay attention to those really real material conditions at all. The idea that this is a giveaway to wealthy people ignores the fact that wealthy families don`t need to use the student loan system.

To the extent that any wealthy family does use the student loan system, you know why they use it? They use it for tax planning purposes, right? To get low interest, cheap money that -- so they can use their money for investment vehicles in the interim. They are not using student loan money the way that most Americans use it, which is to survive, to pay their bills, to pay their tuition, right, and to get through school.

So, the idea that there`s this substantive group of student loan debt holders that have an extreme amount of wealth and this is a giveaway to them is the kind of political gamesmanship that happens when, I would point out, a party is losing the narrative. You know, despite what we have argued about in the discourse over the last few months, the idea of getting people out from under student loan debt is actually popular, right? This is the party who has lost the popular line with people that they need to turn out to vote.

HAYES: I can say, I was fairly agnostic on this but -- you know, whether this would be popular or not, but I think the polling has been consistent that it is quite popular. And I think that you`re right that some of the caterwauling today is because of that. Tressie McMillan Cottom, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night. the Alex Wagner Show starts right now -- "ALEX WAGNER TONIGHT" I should say. And I`m coming to you 15 seconds late. I apologize.