IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 8/3/22

Guests: Stacey Abrams, Mona Charen, Harry Litman, Mandela Barnes


Voters in Kansas resoundingly rejected an amendment removing abortion rights protections from their state constitution, voting it down 59 to 41 percent. Big lie supporter Mark Finchem wins the Arizona GOP Secretary of State Nomination. Big Lie Republicans dominate the Arizona primary last night. The Department of Justice subpoenas Trump`s White House Counsel and Deputy Counsel in its criminal investigation of January 6.



JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: I`m not sure I`ve ever seen a situation where people who have already given so much had to fight so hard to get so little. And I hope we learn a lesson.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: I hope so too. That`s tonight`s "REIDOUT". ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.


MEHDI HASAN, MSNBC HOST (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s the message that Kansan sent to the rest of the country tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t mess with us.

HASAN: A big night in Kansas sent political shockwaves across the nation as voters overwhelmingly turnout for abortion rights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last night, the people of Kansas sent a message as clear as any I`ve ever seen in politics.

HASAN: Tonight, what the huge turnout and decisive win means for Democrats in the Midterms. Stacey Abrams will be my guest.

Then new reports. Trump`s top White House lawyers both subpoenaed by the Department of Justice over January 6. Plus --

ALEX JONES, RADIO HOST: If I was mistake, I was mistaken. But you`ve got the messages right there.

MARK BANKSTON, LAWYER: You know what perjury is, right?

HASAN: Alex Jones and his misinformation factory facing justice for his Sandy Hook lies.

MAYA GUERRA GAMBLE, JUDGE, TEXAS 459TH DISTRICT COURT: You must tell the truth while you testify. This is not your show.

HASAN: When ALL IN starts right now.


HASAN (on camera): Good evening from Washington DC. I`m Mehdi Hasan in for Chris Hayes. Do you know the last time Kansas went Democratic in a presidential election? It was 1964 when Lyndon B. Johnson carried 44 out of 50 states plus the District of Columbia. Since then, a Republican has won the state of Kansas every four years for the last 54 years. In 2016, Donald Trump won Kansas by 20 points. Less than two years ago in 2020, he won by nearly 15 points.

Kansas is a red, red state. And yet last night, we saw a huge win for liberals in Kansas. Voters resoundingly rejected an amendment removing abortion rights protections from their state constitution, voting it down 59 to 41 percent. Now, just to put that a bit more into context, just to put the entire political earthquake into context, that ballot question was supposed to be an easy win for the anti-abortion side. It was not even supposed to be close. A recent poll found that 47 percent of Kansans plan to vote yes on the amendment compared to 43 percent who plan to vote no. And Republicans were supposed to cruise to victory with their demographic advantage.

Last night, most of the primary races on the ballot were among Republicans. There wasn`t much incentive for Democrats to even show up aside from this one ballot question. And it was a strategic and very cynical decision to put this question on the primary ballot instead of the general election. Proponents of the measure were hoping and planning for a low turnout.

The question itself was intentionally garbled to confuse people. The text read in part, "To the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States, the people through their elected state representatives and state senators may pass laws regarding abortion, including but not limited to laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother."

Voters had to choose either yes or no to that statement with a yes vote being against abortion rights, and they no vote supporting them. Not exactly intuitive. But the people of Kansas turned out to vote in droves, and many of them were very concerned about this issue. After the Supreme Court`s decision overturning Roe v. Wade in June, voter registrations in Kansas surged nearly 1,000 percent and "women accounted for 70 percent of all new registered voters in the state." Yesterday`s turnout blew away all expectations.

On Friday, Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab predicted that -- predicted that about 36 percent of voters would participate in the primary election, 36 percent. Last time, as the numbers rolled in, he said that the actual number "could be almost 50 percent." And at that point, you`re looking at general election numbers. It`s looking a lot like the 2008 turnout for the Obama Presidential race, so it`s incredibly high turnout.

More than 900,000 people voted in Kansas, nearly twice as many as in the 2018 primary. And we are seeing some massive swings from the 2020 results. For example, Franklin County in eastern Kansas went for Donald Trump 68 to 30 percent. Yesterday, the people of Franklin County rejected this amendment 56 to 44 percent. Voters themselves were surprised. As one woman told NBC reporter Dasha Burns last night.


DAWN RATTAN, KANSAS VOTER: I`m surprised. We -- all my friends and I thought that it was going to be a very narrow margin of victory or defeat. And so we were just nervous. We`ve been nervous since we heard about the Supreme Court`s decision. I`m really proud that our state came through and decisively won.

I`m very happy for me. I`m very happy for my daughters and my family. I`m happy for my granddaughters and women to come and generations to come, that our state stood up and said, no. We`re the first ones to say no, so I`m just -- I`m overjoyed.



HASAN: Now, this result really should be the end of the debate over whether or not Democrats should put abortion front and center in their Midterm campaigns this year. Republicans who have been insisting that the Supreme Court decision would not change anything in the lead-up to the Midterms seem to have been proven wrong.

Just look at what Rich Lowry editor in chief of the conservative magazine National Review wrote just a few weeks ago. "The historic Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade which Democrats have been hoping will stun voters into supporting them in what otherwise would be a big GOP year hasn`t had much discernible political effect." That aged well.

And even Democrats themselves have sometimes been afraid of their own shadow when it comes to abortion rights. White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield took a lot of heat for this statement, defending President Biden`s initially lackluster response to the decision overturning Roe, saying his goal "is not to satisfy some activists who have been consistently out of step with the mainstream of the Democratic Party."

The result in Kansas shows that she was wrong too. Abortion rights activist who have criticized Biden for not responding more forcefully are clearly the ones in line with public opinion even in that deep red state. The President has also been criticized by some for almost never uttering the word abortion. Mr. President, do not be afraid to say the A-word. As the people in Kansas showed us last night, Americans are A-OK with it.

Now, we know Democrats would much rather talk about and run on "kitchen table issues," but their opponents are pro-forced birth, even forced birth for kids. That`s who they`re running against. So, you want to kitchen table issue? How about not chaining women to the kitchen table? Why not run on that? What we saw in Kansas last night shows that abortion is actually a perfect issue for Democrats, that both energizes their supporters and perhaps surprisingly, does not seem to energize Republicans in the way many thought it would. Maybe, just maybe, November won`t be all doom and gloom for Dems.

Stacey Abrams is the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, also the founder of Fair Fight Action and The New Georgia Project, both voting rights organizations, and she joins me now. Thank you so much for coming on the show tonight. Were you surprised not just by the win in Kansas but by the huge margin of victory?

STACEY ABRAMS (D-GA), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I was surprised by the margin but not by the success. Kansas has made a habit in recent years of doing the right thing, the election of Laura Kelly in the face of the extremist Kris Kobach signal that Kansas wanted good leadership. And in this case, they wanted the right to freedom for women in that state. They refuse to allow women to be relegated to second-class citizenship.

And I`m proud of Kansas and I`m proud of America for taking the steps we need to take to protect abortion care in the United States of America.

HASAN: So, in your state, Georgia, a federal appeals court allowed a six- week abortion ban to go into effect last month. What is the state of abortion access in Georgia right now tonight and what would you do as governor to secure abortion rights there?

ABRAMS: Brian Kemp past and extreme, callous, and dangerous abortion law in the state of Georgia. It is a six-week abortion ban which bans abortion before most women know they`re pregnant. We have a broken public health system where we have 82 counties without an OBGYN, 18 counties without a family care medical doctor. We have nine counties with no physician at all. And in this climate, we now have an abortion ban that denies women access to care.

I am strongly pro-choice because I understand that this is about freedom. This is about access. And this is about a right for women to choose her future. And I believe that Georgia is going to follow Kansas` lead. We do not allow ballot initiatives in Georgia and so the ballot initiative is voting me as governor of Georgia. We know that if you want to protect a woman`s right to choose her freedom to control her body and her future -- to your point about kitchen table issues. If women want the ability to determine what their lives look like economically and socially, then we have to elect a governor who believes in the woman`s right.

I am the only candidate in this race who does so. Brian Kemp has said that he`s overjoyed by this law, by this extreme ban, this lethal ban on women. And we know that what we saw in Kansas will be repeated here in the state of Georgia if women show up.


HASAN: So, you have progressives in your party insisting the President could do more with his executive orders. To be fair, he just unveiled one today on instance --on protecting interstate travel. But they want the administration to declare a public health emergency. Congresswoman Jayapal, head of the Progressive Caucus told me that on my Peacock show earlier today, declared a public health emergency.

In your view, has President Biden, has his administration done everything they can to secure abortion rights since the Dobbs decision?

ABRAMS: We know that the federal government is facing a number of challenges, and that as we watch Congress and the President tried to do more, we need to look to Democrats to solve this problem. But my focus is on the people of Georgia. In the state of Georgia, it is the governor who will decide what happens next. Brian Kemp has said that he intends to expand this abortion law, this abortion ban to deny women the right to choose even in cases of rape and incest.

Today, we had conversations with women about pregnancy loss and miscarriage where they face being investigated. I am the only choice for women in the state. And I believe that if we understand that in Georgia and across this country, governors are right now at the frontlines of defending a woman`s right to choose. Then we will see not only turnout, but we will see rollbacks of these laws, which is what I intend to do as the next Governor of Georgia.

HASAN: You are running to be the first black female governor in the U.S. in a party that has done well, largely thanks to the efforts of black women voters turning out. How important is it that we focus on the fact that abortion and access to health care disproportionately affects Black women, especially poor Black women?

ABRAMS: In the state of Georgia, maternal mortality, we are the number one state for maternal mortality, and the Black woman is 3.3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related deaths in the state of Georgia. It is lethal to be pregnant in Georgia if you`re a Black woman. And we know that Brian Kemp has done precious little to address that issue.

Finally, after years of begging, they expanded access to Medicaid, but only for those who are already pregnant and for a year after pregnancy. What about the women before pregnancy? I had a sister who faced a lethal choice if she did not -- if she had been forced to carry a child to term it could have killed her. And under Brian Kemp`s law, she would not have been protected.

We deserve leadership and we deserve governors who actually understand biology and understand the danger that he is posing for women. I encourage people to go to my website at to learn more about the challenges we face in Georgia, but also the opportunity. This is -- I`m sorry, go ahead.

HASAN: No, I was going to say quick last question. We`re almost out of time. I just want to jump in one last question. People have looked to you in your party for strategic advice, how to boost turnout. Look at a turnout in Kansas last night. Do you think that is the ultimate proof that Democrats across the nation should be running on this issue come November?

ABRAMS: Democrats should be running on the issue of safety, justice and opportunity. In Georgia, music Midtown has one more example of how Brian Kemp is not only putting our lives in danger, he is also putting women in danger with our music Midtown canceling a concert because of his extreme gun laws and with what we are facing with the six-week abortion ban.

We know that Brian Kemp is a hard-right extremist who does not deserve to hold this job. And if Democrats across this country will run on the very real issues of safety, justice, and real opportunity we can win across this country and we can win here in Georgia.

HASAN: Stacey Abrams, thank you so much for your time tonight. I appreciate it.

ABRAMS: Thank you for having me.

HASAN: Coming up, a rash of Republican election deniers won their own races last night. The dangers of putting an Oath Keeper self-described in charge of a state`s election. That`s next.



HASAN: Back in 2014, a guy named Mark Finchem was running for a State House seat in Arizona, and said in an interview, I`m an Oath Keeper, committed to the exercise of limited constitutional governance. At the time, the average American likely knew little if anything about the Oath Keepers, but in the intervening years, the far-right group has become almost a household name, particularly for the alleged role that Oath Keepers played in sacking the Capitol on January 6.

Since then, they`ve been under intense scrutiny from both the committee investigating the insurrection, the January 6 Committee, and the Department of Justice. Last night, Mark Finchem, that self-described Oath Keepers well as a supporter of QAnon conspiracy theories and an election denier won the Republican nomination for Secretary of State in Arizona, a key swing state. How is that for a turn of events? And he`s not alone.

In Arizona, election denier Blake Masters, like Finchem, also endorsed by Donald Trump, won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate and will challenge incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly. And far-right candidate Kari Lake who is running to be the Republican nominee for governor with, yes, Trump`s support, claimed with no evidence that her campaign detected "some stealing going on a week before the primary."

But thanks to some late-night vote dumps, she`s now leading in a race that is too close to call, something she would undoubtedly call fraud had the dumps gone for her opponent. Oh, the irony.

Mona Charen is a conservative columnist and the policy editor at The Bulwark. She joins me now. Mona, thanks so much for coming on tonight. The Republican party of Lincoln and Eisenhower is now not just the party of Trump, but the party of Mark Finchem.


MONA CHAREN, POLICY EDITOR, THE BULWARK: Yes, they`re the reality resistant caucus, at least big chunks of the Republican Party. I was really distressed to see Peter Meijer go down in Michigan, one of the republicans who voted to impeach Trump.


CHAREN: And that was sad. We are facing in the next couple of weeks the primary for Liz Cheney who has demonstrated what really principled Republican conservatism can mean and can look like. But it`s -- her chances of prevailing in this Republican Party are pretty dim. So, yes, that`s where we are now.

But let`s remember, it isn`t a completely bleak landscape. Trump`s picks did not succeed in Georgia. In fact, Kemp, the gubernatorial candidate that Trump oppose won in a landslide in his primary. And so, you know, there have been a few bright moments. But no, it`s -- I`m not going to pretend that it isn`t -- that the party has not gone into a really dangerous and, you know, kind of dismaying cul-de-sac. The idea that an Oath Keeper could be -- yes, go ahead.

HASAN: I was going to say -- I was going to jump in and be the Debbie Downer. I admire your attempt to find some moments of optimism. But even someone like Brian Kemp, who yes, Trump attacked, he also passed a voter suppression law in Georgia. He`s not a defender of democracy in any way. And isn`t the problem that a lot of us in the media -- a lot of us in the media we look for, well, Trump candidates, did they lose or did they win? The reality is whether his candidates win or lose the big lie has taken over the party. That`s part and parcel of the Republican Party now.

CHAREN: Look, so yes. And if you -- OK, again, if you want to look at the state of the party, it is -- it is bleak. But the one area where there is hope is where you have jungle primary. So, for example, Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse in the state of Washington survived challenges. Why? Because you don`t have this tiny percentage in the state of Washington determining voting in primaries. They have a jungle primary.

That is -- in our current moment in -- with how sick one of our political parties is, I really think this is one procedural reform. I know it sounds boring to talk about process. But honestly, when the fate of your country is hanging in the balance, you have to look for what may possibly help. And one thing that may help is these open primaries where he will not have the Trumpiest five percent or 10 percent of the party determining who the nominees are.

HASAN: So, Mona, if the Republicans take the house in November, Kevin McCarthy becomes speaker and these Big Lie candidates like Finchem take the secretary of state offices in key swing states, is it hyperbole, is exaggeration to say that 2022 could end up being the last fully free and fair election for the U.S. given they`re not going to allow Democrats to win in 2024. They`re not going to allow a free and fair election in 2024 are they?

CHAREN: I think that`s overstated. I think it has to be on our minds and we have to be vigilant. And obviously, these are just primaries, these are not general elections. Hopefully, a number of these extreme candidates will be defeated. I mean, what we saw in Kansas suggests that the abortion matter is going to weigh very, very strongly in voters` minds.

And you`ve got people like this woman in Michigan, I think, who -- who`s name I forget right now, Dixon, who is opposed to any exceptions for abortion except for the life of the mother, so she would not allow for exceptions for rape or incest. Those kinds of candidates are going to be more vulnerable in general election matchups. So, it`s -- you know, look, I bow to no one in my alarm about the state of our democracy but we are not at that point yet of, you know, slitting our throats, Mehdi. We`re not there yet.

HASAN: Mona, you should -- you should come on the show more often. Your semi-optimism is a good antidote to my permanent pessimism and depression. Mona Charen, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

CHAREN: My pleasure.

HASAN: Still to come, why do former Trump agencies and officials keep losing all that text from January 6? How do they keep getting wiped from government-issued phones? And is anyone going to jail for it? That story is next.



HASAN: With apologies to playwright Oscar Wilde, to lose one Trump government agencies text messages maybe misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness. But to lose three? We have seen a deluge of stories over the past few weeks about key national security agencies and departments from the Trump era, like the Secret Service, like the Department of Homeland Security, having deleted all text messages from January 6. And the latest reports of deleted text now come from the top Department of Defense officials wiped, gone from government-issued phones.

If this happened under any other administration, this would be a huge, huge scandal. There would be public calls for people to go to prison over it. But with these guys, it`s more like who`s next. Accountability might not be dodged forever though. Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was subpoenaed by the Department of Justice to testify before a grand jury conducting a criminal investigation into January 6 making Cipollone the highest former Trump official to go before federal investigators. Cipollone`s deputy, Patrick Philbin, was also served with a subpoena in that probe.

Harry Litman is the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. He served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice. He joins me now Harry, thanks for coming on. These deletions --



HASAN: -- keep getting normalized as bureaucracy or bad records management, but it is actually illegal to destroy federal records, is it not, whether intentionally or accidentally? Why isn`t that getting more attention?

LITMAN: You know, look, I think it`s beginning to. And the coincidence that you alluded to with the wild quote, we could put a bigger turn on it because all three of them are people who are likely to have evidence, important evidence about January 5 and 6, most recently with Ken Cuccinelli, we know Trump was calling up and badgering to cease voting machines. So, those texts ought to be really probative.

And yes, at this point, it`s -- a mystery would be putting it kindly. You know, we`re almost at the dog ate it kind of phase and it`s not passing the smell test. But it`s simple in this sense, Mehdi. It`s just you`ve got this going on and what has to happen is DOJ needs to open an investigation. I think it will. It could be sprawling. It could be simple. But the people in charge have to be put under oath and just, you know, get to the bottom of it and fast.

Note that the officials in both cases are saying we didn`t do anything. We gave it back just as we were supposed to. Something really stinks and it`s completely critical to the broader January 6 investigation. You know, this is -- this is like the cover-up that`s worse than the crime, except as you say in this case, the crime is so gargantuan, we really haven`t been focusing on this so far.

HASAN: And Harry, as someone who worked in main justice, what do you make of the DOJ subpoenaing Trump`s White House Counsel, his deputy White House Counsel? How much should we read into that?

LITMAN: You know, it`s really big, it seems to me. Look, we already knew that they were focusing on Trump. And both the Cipollone and Philbin are absolutely inner sanctum. They were there for everything. If they testify, it`s sort of the equivalent of the White House Tapes for Nixon that we didn`t have at the time.

They were -- they were present for all the criminal stuff. Moreover, we know where they stand on it. We know they told Trump it was illegal. We know that they were horrified. Now, there`s this issue. Are they going to try to dodge with executive privilege and will they do it sort of aggressively or do they just need a kind of court order to make them talk?

But I think it really makes it clear that they -- you know, this is coming at Trump like a freight train. And that`s the real -- you know, that`s the only real reason to be looking for both Cipollone and Philbin. And it could -- it could on its own, crack the case in a way that we`ve been thinking they need a cooperating witness to do. It`s really big.

HASAN: Harry, last question to you. Are these new Grand Jury developments, these subpoenas, are they evidence of a new, more aggressive posture from the DOJ or is this in line with how their investigation was always going to progress?

LITMAN: Yes, look, so my view on this is the latter. I know, there`s been a lot of criticism, but much of what they did has been behind the scenes and it was after a huge operation with 840 people charged. I think why it`s coming out now is they`re bringing people to the grand jury, and it`s those people who are talking whereas the people from DOJ, we`re not talking before.

So, I think they`ve been at least for several months very earnest about this. And it`s only now that the public evidence is making that apparent.

HASAN: Harry Litman, we will have to leave it there. Thank you so much for your analysis. I appreciate.

LITMAN: Thank you.

HASAN: Still ahead, conspiracy theorist and grifter Alex Jones may be in serious legal trouble.


BANKSTON: Mr.Jones, in discovery, you were asked, do you have Sandy Hook text messages on your phone and you said no, correct? You said that under oath, didn`t you?

JONES: Oh, if I was mistaken, I was mistaken, but you`ve got two messages right there.

BANKSTON: You know what perjury is, right?



HASAN: The latest from the Jones trial and the huge error his legal team just made. To call it a rookie mistake would be an insult to rookies. That`s next.


HASAN: If you are a trial lawyer, cross-examining someone on the stand, it doesn`t get much better than this.


BANKSTON: Do you know where I got this?


BANKSTON: Mr. Jones, did you know that 12 days ago, 12 days ago, your attorneys messed up and sent me an entire digital copy of your entire cell phone with every text message you`ve sent for the past two years, and when informed, did not take any steps to identify it as privileged or protected in any way. And as of two days ago, it felt free and clear into my possession. And that is how I know you lied to me when you said you didn`t have to text message about Sandy Hook. Did you know that?

ALEX JONES, RADIO HOST: See, I told you the truth. This is your Perry Mason moment. I gave them my phone. And then --

GAMBLE: Mr. Jones, you need to answer the question.

JONES: No, I --

BANKSTON: Did you know this happen?

JONES: No, I didn`t know this happened. But I told you I gave them the (INAUDIBLE).

GAMBLE: Just answer the question.

BANKSTON: And you said -- you said in your deposition, you searched your phone. You said you pulled down the text and did the search function for Sandy Hook. That`s what you said, Mr. Jones, correct?

JONES: And I had several, several different phones with this number, but I did, yes. Of course. I mean, that`s why you got it.

BANKSTON: No, Mr. Jones, that`s not what happened.

JONES: My lawyer sent it to you but I`m hiding, OK.

GAMBLE: Mr. Jones, please just answer questions. There`s no question. Mr. Bankston, also, only ask questions.

BANKSTON: Sure. Mr. Jones, in discovery, you were asked, do you have Sandy Hook text messages on your phone and you said no, correct? You said that under oath, Mr. Jones, didn`t you?

JONES: Oh, if I was mistaken, I was mistaken, but you`ve got the messages right there.

BANKSTON: You know what perjury is, right? I just want to make sure you know before we go any further. You know what it is?

JONES: Yes, I do.


HASAN: That was just one of the many gobsmacking moments from the seven-day trial so far of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Jones has already been found liable for defamation after using his platform to spread the false and offensive conspiracy theory that the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax. The trial in Texas right now is about how much he should pay in damages and the jury is now deliberating.

The trial has laid bare what we already knew, Jones`s website InfoWars is a cesspool of disinformation, hate, and grift. Earlier this week, InfoWars host named Owen Shroyer admitted he didn`t know basic fact-checking before he shared an article attacking the father of the Sandy Hook victim.


BANKSTON: So, let me ask you this. If I have -- if you get something from a source and you`re -- and you look and say, you know, this source sometimes is reliable, sometimes, they`re way out there and unreliable. Isn`t it incumbent on you to check it and do some sort of vetting before you put it on air?

OWEN SHROYER, HOST, INFOWARS: Yes, I could have done a better job.

BANKSTON: You could have done a job.


HASAN: And InfoWars producer also refused to say whether Alex Jones should have verified his bogus claims about Sandy Hook before he made them publicly to his legions of loyal viewers.


BANKSTON: We heard Mr. Jones say there are photos of kids who they said die who are still alive. That`s what Mr. Jones said.


BANKSTON: And Mr. Jones should have verified that he was going to say something that outrageous, right, or do you not think so?

KARPOVA I`m not -- can`t speak very much of what`s going in -- going through his head that time.


HASAN: And just yesterday, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble issued Jones a brutal dressing down over his seemingly pathological inability to tell the truth, even while under oath.


GAMBLE: Mr. Jones, you may not say to this jury that you comply with discovery. That is not true. You may not say it again. It seems absurd to instruct you again that you must tell the truth while you testify, yet here I am. You must tell the truth while you testify. This is not your show.


HASAN: And it`s worth noting that Alex Jones is not just the far-right fringe figure he should be because past guests on his program like Donald Trump and Congressman Matt Gaetz and more recent guests like Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene have lent legitimacy to this conspiratorial, far- right bloviating, who peddles nonsense conspiracies about murdered children, and Hillary Clinton being a demon and the so-called Jewish mafia controlling the world.

Alex Jones should have been rejected by Republican leaders and lawmakers, but instead, he was shamefully embraced.




GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that none of these reforms would be easy. But we have to move ahead with courage and honesty, because our children`s retirement security is more important than partisan politics.


HASAN: That was then-President George W. Bush pitching his plan to privatize Social Security during the 2005 State of the Union Address. But as it turns out, he didn`t move forward with honesty or courage, shock horror. Bush toured the country touting his plan, a long-time Wall Street fever dream, but voters didn`t buy it. The proposal was dead on arrival.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fight over Social Security, it`s looking like the height of campaign season now. President Bush has been traveling the country making his pitch that reforms are needed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The President and his top aides have launched their own new campaign in support of private accounts.

KARL ROVE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: I feel very good about where we are. We`re winning the debate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s committed to the personal accounts. They`re an awfully good idea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A point the President himself repeated at rallies in New Jersey and Indiana Friday.

BUSH: Talking about helping people build up an asset base, which I think is a vital part of a stable future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But so far, several national polls say the public isn`t buying the President`s pitch.


HASAN: After Bush`s goodwill tour, about two-thirds of the country disapproved of his handling of Social Security. So, bold, courageous Republicans dropped the privatization proposal. It was a political non- starter. But 17 years later, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who is more blunt than he is bold, wants to bring it back.

Johnson told a radio program this week that he thinks Republicans should open the door to make programs like Social Security and Medicare eligible to be defunded by Congress. Even though recent data for progress poll found 83 percent of Americans want to expand Social Security, not make cuts to it. And proposals like that, as well as a similar radically right-wing plan from Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott to end programs like Social Security without congressional reauthorization, are exactly why Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who whatever else you think of him, is a smart political strategist, does not want to tell voters what his party will do if they take power.

McConnell knows the Republican agenda is incredibly unpopular, which is why Democrats should be hanging Johnson and Scott`s plans around the neck of every Republican lawmaker running for reelection in November. Make them own them, or run from them. I mean, if defund the police is unpopular as a political slogan, how unpopular is defund Social Security and Medicare?

I`m joined now by Mandela Barnes, the lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, and the likely Democratic nominee to run against Ron Johnson for the Senate this November. Thank you so much for joining me on the show today. Were you surprised to hear Ron Johnson -- were you surprised to hear Ron Johnson just openly say in an interview that he`s effectively up for cutting Social Security and Medicare?

MANDELA BARNES, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, WISCONSIN: I`ll tell you, I`m not surprised to hear that from Ron Johnson because he`s a self-serving, out- of-touch ultra-millionaire politician who cares about himself more than the rest of the people in Wisconsin. The reality is he went to the Senate, doubled his wealth, and he wants to make life harder for everybody else.

That`s the unfortunate representation that we`ve been getting from Ron Johnson. It`s exactly why I decided to run for the U.S. Senate to get him out of office, because people are going to continue to be left behind as long as he`s in office. But I`ll tell you, we need your help. We need people to show up. We are beating Ron Johnson in polls right now. But we need to finish the job this November. If you have an opportunity, go to and help us get the job done.

HASAN: Ron Johnson has called for a federal 20-week abortion ban as well. He said women who don`t like Wisconsin`s abortion restrictions can move. I wonder, are Democrats being aggressive enough in making Republicans own their incredibly unpopular agenda, tax cuts for the rich, cuts to Medicare, forced to birth?

BARNES: I`ll tell you. I can`t think of a more out-of-touch position to have. And this is personal for me. I`m an only child but it wasn`t my mother`s first pregnancy. She had a complicated pregnancy that she chose to end. We actually -- she was brave enough to actually record a commercial saying as much, sharing her story so that others know that they are not alone.

70 percent of the people at the state of Wisconsin agree that Roe should be the law of the land. We are tired of out-of-touch politicians, people like Ron Johnson, who put politics over our health, who put politics over our safety, and who put politics over everything else in their own personal agenda, their own personal ambition. People are tired of being left behind.

HASAN: With respect -- with respect, I`m not disagreeing with what you`re saying, but you didn`t answer my question, which is, shouldn`t your party be campaigning much more aggressively on some of these issues? I feel like Democrats always are too afraid of their own shadow. BARNES: Well, I can`t speak for other Democrats. I`m not here to make excuses for anybody. I`m here to talk about our campaign which we are being aggressive on the issue of abortion. We are being aggressive about the fact that Ron Johnson is so out of touch that he once held -- people in the state of Wisconsin to go to Illinois to get an abortion. We are holding him accountable every step of the way. And we`ve centered expanding the Democratic majority and in the filibuster in codifying the right to choose and the law.

He`s been a forefront of this campaign. I`m not sure, you know, what anybody else is doing. I`m squarely focused on what we have going on in Wisconsin and how do we reckon with the 1849 bill that we have, the 1849 law that bans abortion.

HASAN: Just briefly, tell our viewers about the 1849 law in Wisconsin.


BARNES: Well, let`s take a little trip back in time, if you will. This was when women didn`t have the right to vote. They certainly weren`t part of the legislature, but they had laws that govern their bodies. This was right a year after Wisconsin officially became a state. This is the type of archaic law that people are forced to live under right now because Congress -- because of the Supreme Court, I should say, and their disastrous decision to take away the right to choose overturning 50 years of precedent.

Now, that is why again, we have to expand this democratic majority because it shouldn`t be left up to states for people to figure out if and when they`ll be able to get an abortion. This is a constitutional right that has to be protected. The Senate had a chance to act. But we have people like Ron Johnson, who again, thinks that abortion should be illegal with almost no exception, somebody who has stood in the way of personal freedom and personal choice.

And that`s what the stakes are with this election. That`s what we`re dealing with right now. If we get rid of him, we get one step closer to making sure that the right to choose is enshrined in law all across this country.

HASAN: The Washington Post published a piece this week about your apparently evolving political views. They cite a tweet your official Lieutenant Governor account posted back in 2019 with progressive Congresswoman Squad member Ilhan Omar. "She`s brilliant. She cares about the environment, read the tweet. It also said she`s exactly who we need in Congress right now fighting for what`s right."

The piece goes on to say, "Nearly three years later, Barnes is distancing himself from Omar and some polarizing ideas he has associated himself with as he closed it in on the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate." Are you trying to distance yourself from the left because I would note that you`re running against a guy Ron Johnson, who doesn`t seem to care about distancing himself from the far-right fringes of his own party?

BARNES: Well, I`ll tell you, I`m proud of my progressive track record fighting for working families across this state. And we are focused on delivering for working families. That`s what this campaign is coming down to, not get caught up in the national narrative. This is about how do we improve lives of people who have been struggling in the state of Wisconsin.

I have a working-class background, I come from a working class family, and is the same exact people in households and in neighborhoods like mine all across this state who deserve better. For people like Ron Johnson, as you mentioned, who are rather catered to the fringe of his party to the far right, a person who will be so audacious as to try to send fake electors to Mike Pence to try to overturn our democracy. That`s also what`s at stake in this election.

And that`s exactly what we`re fighting for. I`m going to keep fighting for the same things that I have fought for as a legislator, as an organizer, and now as lieutenant governor.

HASAN: So just to be specific, because sometimes it`s easy to talk about labels, moderate, progressive, left, right. In 2020, you tweeted, and I quote, "Medicare for all is a much more moderate proposal than any war. In my view, a sensible statement if I ever heard one. Do you stand by that tweet? Do you plan to support single-payer health care once you`re in the Senate?

BARNES: Oh, I absolutely still support universal health care. And I`ll tell you, right now, there`s so many people with so many heartbreaking stories across the state of Wisconsin. I met a farmer outside of Eau Claire who told me about when he and his wife were expecting, before the baby even was delivered, they face severe complications, racked up a quarter million dollars in medical debt.

Now, that`s the type of debt that can shatter your dream. That`s the type of debt that you could lose a family farm over. And it speaks to the broken healthcare system we have in this country. I absolutely support universal health care with Medicare for all being the quickest path to get there. I joined Senator Tammy Baldwin in her support -- or excuse me, in her support for Medicare for all.

HASAN: So, what happens -- let`s cast forward what happens? We saw a lot of election denials win in primaries across the country last night. We were talking about it earlier on the show. What happens in a state like Wisconsin? You mentioned the fake electors scheme that Ron Johnson was apparently involved in. What happens in 2024 or even in the midterms this year if there are attempts to rig ballots, change results, contest elections that have been certified? What`s your plan then? How worried are you about Wisconsin being one of the battlegrounds?

BARNES: Well, again, look what the January 6 Committee revealed. Ron Johnson`s office tried to overturn the election. If they are able to get the majority in either house, hey, you can just imagine what antics, what tricks they`ll try to pull. And this is the unfortunate reality that we`re experiencing because democracy just isn`t working out for Republicans.

They have failed to keep up with the will of the people. The issues that they support, the things they take on and challenge are so very unpopular. (AUDIO GAP) can be politically (AUDIO GAP) if they work to overturn our democracy. So, that`s what we`re fighting for right now.


BARNES: And I don`t want to wake up on November 9 and to see Republicans gain more seats in the U.S. Senate or ended up with a majority in the House. (AUDIO GAP) lives are at stake right now.

HASAN: We will have to leave it there. Mandela Barnes, thank you so much for your time tonight. I appreciate it.

BARNES: Thank you.

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