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

Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 8/4/22

Guests: Jason Stanley, Kimberle Crenshaw, Mondaire Jones, Masha Gessen


Conservatives cheer at Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban`s far- right messages at CPAC in Dallas, Texas. The DOJ charges four officers connected to the shooting of Breonna Taylor. DHS Inspector General`s background raises questions about why the Biden administration will not remove him from his position. The Senate is set to vote on the Inflation Reduction Act. Today, a Russian court sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to an outrageous nine and a half years in a Russian prison for carrying vaping cartridges with a small amount of cannabis. A Texas jury ruled that Alex Jones must pay $4.1 million to Sandy Hook parents.


CHARLES BOOKER (D-KY), SENATE CANDIDATE: This is bigger than any divide. And I`m proud of what Kentucky is showing even right now. I`m in Western Kentucky, and we`re helping with relief from the tornado as well.


BOOKER: And I`m asking everyone watching to join us. Go to response. Help us in this work.

REID: Thank you very much. Charles Booker, I always appreciate having you on. That is tonight`s "REIDOUT". ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.


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

VIKTOR ORBAN, PRIME MINISTER, HUNGARY: Far Right Europian racist, anti- Semite strongman, the Trojan horse of Putin hold speech at a conservative conference.

HASAN: Fascism comes to Texas. Yes, the poster boy of far-right politics in Europe speaking at CPAC and meeting one on one with Donald Trump.

Then, new details on the Trump appointee investigating the missing text messages.

And new details about Trump lawyers talking to the Justice Department about January 6. Plus --

BRITTNEY GRINER, WNBA PLAYER: I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that that is far from this courtroom.

HASAN: The truly unacceptable sentencing of Brittney Griner to nearly a decade in a Russian prison.

And a verdict reached in the Alex Jones defamation trial.

MAYA GUERRA GAMBLE, JUDGE, TEXAS 459TH DISTRICT COURT: You believe everything you say is true, but it isn`t. Your beliefs do not make something true. That is what we`re doing here.

HASAN: The millions of dollars he now owes for his Sandy Hook lies when ALL IN starts right now.


HASAN (on camera): Good evening from Washington D.C. I`m Mehdi Hasan in for Chris Hayes. Cast your mind back to two years ago. It was the summer of 2020. Donald Trump was still in office. Federal agents were being sent into American cities like Portland and Seattle and using war tactics against protesters for racial justice.

And I was in this very seat filling in for Chris Hayes for the first time when I said we should start talking about the F word, fascism.


HASAN: I`ve worked around the globe. I`ve interviewed prime ministers and government officials, dictators, despots, authoritarians. And I think it`s time in America that we finally have a proper conversation about the F- word. No, not that one. Fascism. I know. I know. It`s really controversial. People get very uncomfortable when you mentioned it. But to borrow a line, if not now, when? And if not us, the free press, then who?

For far too long, we have shied away from saying the F word. For a lot of people calling Donald Trump a fascist was just ad hominem, a lazy political insult. It was the liberal who cried wolf. Look, I get it. Fascism is associated with dictatorships with mass murder. And we`ve not had either yet here in the U.S., thank God. Although like with every good authoritarian, there is the question of whether President Trump will leave office when the time comes.


HASAN: Of course, Donald Trump tried very hard to remain in office after he lost the election. And if you look at these images from the other day, well, it seems as if things have gotten even worse. On Tuesday, the ex- President hosted the far-right authoritarian leader of Hungary, Viktor Orban, at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. He even found what looks like a fake White House to serve as the background for the photo op. Trump and Orban sat down for this meeting on opposite sides of a long table filled with aides as if they are both still world leaders at some sort of international summit.

Orban arrived in the United States fresh off a widely condemned speech in which he berated Europeans for becoming a "mixed race society." He claimed that countries who have welcomed migrants from outside of Europe are, "no longer nations." They are nothing more than a conglomeration of peoples. Adding, "We do not want to become peoples of mixed race."

This is not new rhetoric from Viktor Orban. For years, liberals have been warning about the danger of this, yes, I would argue, fascist leader as the American far-right has embraced him. Last year, Fox host Tucker Carlson even took his TV show to Hungry for a week of shows fawning over Orban and his policies which are anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-freedom of the press.

But now, it`s not just liberals who are condemning Orban. Here is a very recent condemnation of the Hungarian Prime Minister. "I don`t know how you didn`t notice that you were presenting a pure Nazi text worthy of Goebbels," referring of course to Adolf Hitler`s chief propagandist, Joseph Goebbels. That did not come from some left-leaning MSNBC host or a Democratic congressman. Those are the words of Victor Orban`s own long- standing advisor who worked with him for 20 years. She quit over that speech.

But can you guess where Viktor Orban is still welcomed and even revered. That would be right here in the U.S. of A at the Conservative Political Action Conference taking place in Dallas, Texas. Today Viktor Orban delivered a speech to CPAC titled, How We Fight. It was an adoring crowd.



ORBAN: The globalists can all go to how I have come to Texas.


HASAN: That very diverse crowd at CPAC stood up to give a standing ovation to a fascist. This is what has happened to the conservative movement in this country. And listen to Orban`s call to action to all his American fans in Dallas today.


ORBAN: You have midterm elections this year, then presidential and congressional elections in `24. And we will have election in the European Parliament same year. These two locations will define the two fronts in the battle being fought for Western civilization.


HASAN: Let`s be clear. Victor Orban`s definition of Western civilization is white people. Remember, no race mixing. And Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California even went so far as to tweet this. "They are reporting a man who denounced mixing races. They might as well be wearing white sheets at this point."

Republicans of course always claimed they`re not talking about race. They say they are not racists. But they just use coded language to get around saying the obvious racist words. And now they have no defense for inviting a purveyor of racism and of fascism to their conference in Dallas. They are literally hosting and cheering for a man who gives speeches using Nazi rhetoric. This is truly taking it to a new and dangerous level normalizing and mainstreaming fascism.

But it is coming from the party that is also producing mani-fascists who are cropping up on the state level all over the country. Several of them are on the ballot in Arizona this week, including Blake Masters, the Republican nominee for Senate and Kari Lake, Republican candidate for governor. They both want to imprison Dr. Fauci, they say, although they never even bother to explain why, just lock him up. And it only gets wilder from there.


KARI LAKE (R-AZ) GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I want to lock somebody down. And it`s that liar, Dr. Fauci.

It`s time to take a sledgehammer to the mainstream media`s lies and propaganda.

Day one, I take my hand off the Bible giving the oath of office, and we declare an invasion on our southern border. And then we`re going to blow up the drug tunnels. And I don`t care if there`s a narco-terrorist in there when we do it.

This next election, if you`re caught cheating when I`m Governor, there`s not going to be a slap on the wrist. We`re going after people.


HASAN: Kari Lake is one of many Republicans on the ballot this year, who also deny the 2020 election results. Mark Finchem, Republican candidate for Secretary of State in Arizona, is an election denier. He`s election denier. So as Kristina Karamo, Republican nominee for Secretary of State in Michigan. And Tudor Dixon, Republican nominee for governor of Michigan. There is Eric Schmitt, Missouri`s Republican nominee for Senate. Diego Morales, Republican nominee for Secretary of State in Indiana. And Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania. Plus, Wes Allen, Republican nominee for Secretary of State in Alabama. Adam Laxalt, the Republican nominee for Senate in Nevada. And Jim Marchant, Nevada`s Republican nominee for Secretary of State, all election deniers. They don`t believe in liberal democracy.

And so today in 2022, I`m sorry to say, the Republican playbook is the Viktor Oban playbook. And you can call that what you want, but I`m going to continue to call it fascism.

Jason Stanley is a professor of philosophy at Yale University and the author of How Fascism Works: The Politics Of Us And Them. Kimberle Crenshaw is a pioneering scholar and writer of civil rights, critical race theory, and the law. She`s a co-founder of Critical Race Theory, in fact, as well as a distinguished professor of law at UCLA and Columbia University. They both join me now.

Jason, let me start with you and let`s cut to it. Was that fascism on display at CPAC today? Was that a fascist that American conservatives were enthusiastically embracing and applauding?

JASON STANLEY, PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, YALE UNIVERSITY: First of all, we have to remember that just because there`s not mass murder happening at the moment, it doesn`t mean it`s not fascism. There is no mass -- there`s no genocide in Germany or Italy in the mid-1930s, nevertheless, you had fascist regimes.

What we saw was certainly fascist rhetoric. The title of Orban`s talk, How We Fight, is clearly a reference to the French fascist Why We Fight. So -- and we saw the themes of fascist rhetoric on full display. Great replacement theory is central to Nazi ideology, the idea being that leftists and communists want to replace white Christianity by immigrants from -- by non-white immigrants.


HASAN: Kimberly, how dangerous is it to have someone talking about the evils of race mixing one week and then another week being promptly hosted by Republicans in Texas? What does that tell us about the modern GOP`s attitude towards race and racism and the progress we were supposed to have made on these issues?

KIMBERLE CRENSHAW, DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF LAW, UCLA AND COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, you know, in some ways, it is revealing of some of the dynamics that we`ve been talking about for the last two years. Look, the interplay between ethno nationalism, white supremacy, and the Republican Party has never been more clearly presented for the entire country to see.

We`re not talking about dog whistles anymore. This is a bullhorn. So, in one way, I`m actually thinking OK, now we can see it, now this is making it clear that when we have these attacks on race and racial history, when we have the attacks on the vote, when we have this whole theory or this whole big lie that the election was stolen, we can now see where this is coming from.

This is right out of the playbook about fascism. You create an other, you demonize the other, you create a narrative of your own mythic past that these others are taking away from you. And then that can justify aggression, violence, even government takeover is all in the name of saving the Republic to pass onto our innocent children. So, it`s all there for everyone to see at this point.

HASAN: So, Jason, just picking up on Kimberle`s point that it`s all out in the open now on racism, for example, after the Roe decision was overturned, a lot of liberals said they`re coming for same-sex marriage next. Orban explicitly today went after same sex marriage and transgender people too. He got applauded for it from American conservatives.

That`s a crucial part of the fascist or neo-fascist playbook, isn`t it? And we`re seeing that cross over the Atlantic at rapid pace right now in 2022.

STANLEY: Yes, so in classical fascism, the vice-ministerial for homosexuality and abortion was utterly central. The Nazis represented themselves as the purveyors of respectable family traditional values once they took power. And Orban is the mastermind, along with Putin, of the war on LGBT. Orban drove a university, Central European University out of Hungary on the basis of the claim that it was teaching Marxist-derived gender ideology.

This attack on gender ideology and LGBT comes straight from Eastern Europe and Orban is a mastermind. He`s won multiple elections on attacks on LGBT. So, he`s come here to present the message as the kind of person who got it done with that strategy.

HASAN: Yes, very good point. Kimberle, last question to you. One of the key parts of the Orban playbook that Jason just mentioned is to go after universities, crack down on the liberal education system. You are, of course, one of the pioneers of critical race theory. How much of the anti- CRT stuff that we`ve seen here in the U.S. over the past year is mirroring that authoritarian Hungarian tactics all about really cracking down on universities across the board?

CRENSHAW: Oh, absolutely. And let`s be honest, how much of what we see going on over there is mirroring what went on here. I mean, the one thing that I would caution when we say, well, it`s never happened here is in fact, it has happened here. It`s a matter of what we call it. When we think about the tyranny of segregation, when we think about holding an entire group under their heels, when we think about genocide (AUDIO GAP) America, and all of them justified in claims that only one group deserves to be considered to be truly American citizens, that is part of a fascist project.

And taking over the universities to force compliance to force stories and narratives that back that up is completely out of the fascist playbook. I expected it. It happened. And now the challenge is for those who are stakeholders in democracy to see it for what it is so we can come together and fight it more (AUDIO GAP).

HASAN: I think we are losing you there. You`re still with us, but I think we`re out of time anyways. Kimberle Crenshaw, Jason Stanley, thank you both for your analysis. Much appreciated. Another shameful day for American conservatism I think it`s fair to say.

Coming up, it turns out the guy tasked with investigating the missing Secret Service text is a Trump appointee with a history of not doing investigations. Why is this person still employed by the Biden administration? That`s next. And my guest is Congressman Mondaire Jones. Don`t go away.




MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Earlier today, I spoke with a family of Breonna Taylor. This morning, they were informed the Justice Department has charged four current and former Louisville Metro Police Department officers with federal crimes related to Ms. Taylor`s death.

Those alleged crimes include civil rights offenses, unlawful conspiracies, unconstitutional use of force, and obstruction offenses.



HASAN: Today, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Department of Justice has brought charges against four police officers in connection with the 2020 shooting of Breonna Taylor. Taylor was a 26-year- old emergency room worker who was killed during a botched police raid on her apartment more than two years ago.

Police serving a warrant -- prosecutors now say officers lied to obtain, broke down Taylor`s door in the middle of the night. Taylor`s boyfriend who was a licensed gun owner, shot one of the officers in the leg, believing him to be an intruder breaking into the apartment. The police then opened fire shooting Taylor five times.

There were many, many flaws in the way this raid was executed and it likely should never have happened in the first place. So, while it is a good thing that some of the individuals involved are now facing charges, accountability, you might be asking why now two years later. And why are these charges coming from the DOJ and not from Kentucky prosecutors where the raid happened?

Well, let me introduce you to Kentucky`s Attorney General, who is a Republican named Daniel Cameron. Back in 2020, his office did not charge the officers involved with obtaining the warrant or for Taylor`s death. Instead, they charged one of the officers for accidentally firing into Taylor`s neighbor`s apartment, and he was later acquitted.

Now, Cameron says that it was a grand jury`s decision not to charge anyone else and that is technically true. But members of that grand jury have since gone public to say that Cameron`s office basically left them no choice. As the Associated Press reports, three of the jurors allege, "Cameron staff limited their scope and did not give them an opportunity to consider homicide charges against the police in Taylor`s death."

And Cameron is not just a state attorney general. He`s a rising star in Republican Party politics. He`s a protege of Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. And Cameron is widely seen as a leading choice to eventually replace McConnell as Kentucky`s next senator whenever McConnell who is 80 decides to leave office.

Cameron was a speaker at the 2020 Republican National Convention, a gig usually offered to young politicians that the party sees as among its future leaders. And Cameron also happens to be running right now for governor of Kentucky. He declared his candidacy back in May even though the election is not until November of next year. Oh, and he`s been endorsed by Donald Trump.

Today, Ben Crump, the attorney for Breonna Taylor`s family called Cameron out by name for the decision not to charge the officers.


BEN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR BREONNA TAYLOR`S FAMILY: The first thing I will say is thank God that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron did not get the last word in regards to justice for Breonna Taylor.


HASAN: It is clear that Daniel Cameron wants to move on from the Breanna Taylor case to look forward, not back. But these new charges from the Department of Justice might make that more difficult than he thinks.



HASAN: The guy tasked with investigating the missing texts from the Secret Service is a man named Joseph Cuffari. He`s the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General. And he has quite a troubling history when it comes to investigations. Back in 2012, he was in charge of a Department of Justice Inspector General Field Office in Arizona. A government report found that he failed to let the Assistant U.S. Attorney and his own supervisors know about a "prisoners request for his testimony violating Department of Justice regulations." And he broke more regulations when he "provided the prisoners mother with the names of his friends law firms."

The Washington Post reports that as the DOJ was deciding if it would investigate him, "He quickly retired and joined the administration of then Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer as a policy advisor for public safety. In 2019, he was nominated by Donald Trump to become the Homeland Security watchdog. As Inspector General, he directed his staff to "tread lightly on the conduct of former political appointees in his own party to avoid embarrassing them when investigators uncovered mismanagement or misconduct," according to the Post.

He declined to investigate the Secret Service role in clearing Lafayette Square or the treatment of Haitian migrants at the border. And of course, most recently, he failed to notify Congress about the deleted January 6 Secret Service texts and did not try to recover them. And so, all of this begs the question nearly two years into the Biden administration, why does this very controversial Trump appointee still have his job?

Congressman Mondaire Jones is a Democrat representing New York`s 17th Congressional District. He joins me now. Congressman, President Biden made a pledge before he took off it`s not to fire any inspectors general. And late this afternoon, the White House Press Secretary confirmed that the DHS watchdog will not be fired. Do you agree with that? Given what we know, shouldn`t people like Cuffari be out on the ear. What happened to accountability?

REP. MONDAIRE JONES (D-NY): I think that`s right, Mehdi. And this is part of a broader problem. We also have an attorney general, who until recently, thought it would have been too inappropriate to investigate the former President of the United States who we know incited the violent insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.

There`s got to be more accountability for some of the personnel making up this administration. And I know that the President wants to do the right thing. I think that there may be people around him who may be advising him to not do that. And so, we`ve got to make sure that we hold his feet to the fire, so to speak.


HASAN: Yes. I mean, I`m not sure what Louis DeJoy is still doing running the Post Office, but there you go. Look, sticking with the 1/6 story, there is new reporting that Donald Trump`s legal team is, "in direct communication with Justice Department officials." He seems worried, concerned. Do you think Trump should have been subpoenaed by now, if not by the 1/6 Committee, then by the DOJ? You mentioned Merrick Garland a moment ago. Would you like to see a more aggressive stance against a man who seems to be using his former president status as a kind of legal and political shield?

JONES: Mehdi, as you know, our democracy is in crisis. And the idea that any person, even a former president of the United States would be above the law is counter to what we know to be true about what democracy should look like. No one gets a pass, certainly not a guy who we`ve got voluminous evidence on. And it cannot be the case that the January 6 Committee somehow has more evidence than the United States Department of Justice with all of its resources.

This is a real problem. Whenever someone in leadership, and now I`m talking about Merrick Garland, decides to elevate his own personal views, in this case, it being -- it being a concern that somehow it would be political, too political to investigate and indict the former President of the United States, and elevate that over what justice requires, including what the future of our democracy I think requires.

Because this guy is out here -- and Donald Trump is the person I`m talking about now -- still the de facto leader of the Republican Party, still inciting violence, talking about running for reelection, evading -- having evaded all accountability thus far for the his conduct. And there being nothing to sort of prevent him from doing the same thing all over again.

And this is personal for me, obviously, as someone who lived through that violent insurrection and who nearly died at the Capitol on January 6, only to see two thirds of my House Republican colleagues vote hours later not to certify that free and fair presidential election from 2020.

HASAN: So, let`s switch gears a bit. Let`s talk about what`s going on in Congress. We are expecting a vote soon on the big budget reconciliation bill, the "Inflation Reduction Act." Were you surprised to see Senator Sinema, the lone holdout, suggesting she wants to rule to close the carried interest loophole which benefits finance guys removed from the bill?

JONES: We need better people in Congress, Mehdi, whether in the House or in the United States Senate. I believe we will get this reconciliation bill done. It is not surprising to me that someone who has done Wall Street`s bidding before, including last fall during those dramatic negotiations over Build Back Better and the infrastructure investment in Jobs Act is now causing problems again where even Joe Manchin has signed off on a transformative piece of legislation.

It is certainly not everything that we passed last fall in the House of Representatives, but we are talking about allowing Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs and cap the annual cost of prescription drugs at $2,000 a year. We are talking about unprecedented climate action to the tune of approximately $370 billion to help us reduce our carbon emissions by 40 percent by the year 2030 while creating millions of good- paying union jobs over the next decade. And of course, yes, raising more money than we spend which has the opposite effect of inflation.

There is no good reason why -- and folks on Wall Street will tell you this even if they`re being honest and typically in private conversation, why there should still be this carried interest loophole. We can raise revenue by making folks on Wall Street pay their fair share. And in particular, we`re just talking about being taxed at the rate of ordinary income in the same way someone working at McDonald`s would be for example.

HASAN: Yes, it`s a -- it`s a problem. Sinema is always a problem it seems. You said it`s a transformative bill and it is. You outlined why. As a progressive, though, do you have any concerns about any of the contents of the bill? Senator Bernie Sanders, for example, said yesterday that he wants to amend it to remove all the giveaways that are in there for fossil fuel industries, which were presumably put in there to keep Joe Manchin on board.

JONES: Look, I`ve got issues with some of the permitting provisions contained in the draft text, but here`s the thing. We are on the cusp of doing something transformative. It is certainly the case that the good in this legislation outweighs the bad. It`s why you`ve got organizations like Sunrise Movement endorsing this legislation as well.

It doesn`t mean that we can`t fight to improve it between now and final passage. But I want to be very clear that a lot of what is in this legislation is what we fought so hard for last fall. And I`m proud that we have gotten to this moment. It`s a shame that has taken this long. And there`s a lot of other stuff, including the universal childcare provisions that I co-authored that we did get in the House version last fall, that I`m going to be fighting to get in a future -- in a future Build Back Better or whatever we decided to call it. But in the meantime, this is an incredible piece of legislation.


HASAN: Quick last question. Lots of your colleagues keep getting this question. You`re going to get it too. Do you think Joe Biden should be running for re-election in 2024? Will you support him when he does -- if he does?

JONES: I think Joe Biden should do whatever he wants to do. If he feels that he`s in a position to win the presidency again in 2024, then that is a situation that everyone should evaluate at the appropriate time. But I think that he needs to continue to be allowed to do his job on behalf of the American people. You know, the economic policies that he is advancing right now, including in this upcoming Inflation Reduction Act, these things are broadly popular with the American people. They are going to lower the costs of working folks, and I`m going to be proud to support that legislation.

HASAN: OK. I`m going to take that as a maybe he should. Congressman Mondaire Jones, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

Still to come, Vladimir Putin`s plan to make others suffer for his invasion of Ukraine, Brittany Grinder`s conviction and potential Russian war crimes. That`s all next.




GRINER: I understand everything that`s been said against me, the charges that are against me, and that is why I felt guilty. But I had no intent to break any Russian law. And of course, I understand that it was an honest mistake that I made while I`m -- while rushing under stress trying to recover from post-COVID and just trying to get back to my team.


HASAN: Today, a Russian court sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to an outrageous nine and a half years in a Russian prison for carrying vaping cartridges with a small amount of cannabis or less than a gram into Moscow in February. President Joe Biden rightly called a sentence "unacceptable" and called on Russia to immediately free the basketball star. Discussions still appear to be ongoing for a potential prisoner swap that would include Griner and a former U.S. Marine named Paul Whelan in exchange for a Russian arms trafficker named Viktor Bout currently serving a 25-year sentence from among other things, conspiring to kill Americans.

But the sad reality is that Brittney Griner is just a pawn being punished by Moscow over us support for Ukraine during this ongoing conflict. And right now, in that war, Russia is committing horrific war crimes against the Ukrainian people. Something my next guest has been reporting on in the New Yorker in a new piece titled The Prosecution of Russian War Crimes in Ukraine.

Masha Gessen is a staff writer at The New Yorker and author of several books on totalitarianism, including surviving autocracy. Masha, thanks for coming on the show tonight. You looked at the personal stories of people affected by these war crimes. do they think they will ever get justice?

MASHA GESSEN, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, first of all, thank you for having me. The question is, what is justice, right? What is justice for people who have lost their loved ones who also have come back to houses that have been destroyed. And you know, in the -- I mostly reported the story from the western suburbs of Kyiv which have become known the world over as the site of Russian war crimes. This is Bucha, Irpin, and smaller places.

But they`re also they`re examples of the massive-scale atrocities that are going on all over Ukraine as far as we can tell in every territory that is occupied by Russians. And some places have suffered much greater destruction and wholesale killing of civilians that we didn`t even see in the western suburbs of Kyiv.

But in Bucha, for example, I don`t think there`s a single house that is intact. And so, what is justice for people, mostly poor people who come back who have lost their breadwinners, who have lost their home, who have lost -- nothing to live on, who have -- and is catching the person who pulled the trigger justice? Is taking 10, 15, 20 years to get to the Russian leadership and prosecute them for the crime of aggression, or even possibly, as Ukraine wants to do for the crime of genocide, is that going to bring justice? Is putting by Mr. Putin in prison as much as we would all love to see that, would that be justice?

That`s -- you know, that`s a really profound question that I tried to grapple with in the story. And what we`re seeing now is something unprecedented, which is that Ukraine is investigating and prosecuting these war crimes within weeks of the actual crime.


HASAN: How -- so, Masha, let me jump in there and ask how are they doing that? How are they working through tens of thousands of cases in the midst of an ongoing conflict?

GESSEN: Right. So, that`s -- I mean, the scale of this both the actual physical scale, the amount of evidence, the number of sites that need to be examined, and the number of crimes -- at this point, the prosecutor general`s office in Ukraine has clocked more than 25,000 different war crimes that they have already been able to document to some extent.

So, just -- you know, the legal, the physical, the psychological scale of this is literally unimaginable. And then it raises the question of how is the justice system that`s -- it`s an intact justice system. In that sense, Ukraine is lucky. But as one human rights lawyer said to me, even the best justice system in the world would not be able to digest this amount of time. And we`ve never been lucky enough to live with the best justice system in the world. How is Ukraine going to be able to cope with this, we don`t know.

HASAN: So, let me ask very quickly. You are on the ground out there reporting. Tom Friedman of The New York Times was saying this week that he`s hearing talk about the U.S. administration being uncomfortable having some questions over President Vladimir Zelenskyy`s handling of this war in his government. Is that what you heard when you`re out there?

GESSEN: Well, I think that`s the kind of thing you might -- you`re more likely to hear in Washington than on the ground in Ukraine. But actually, what I want to say about that is that, if anything, that`s the reason to prosecute these war crimes now. Because you know, we talk about compassion fatigue, we talk about Ukrainians needing to be or we don`t, but some people do talk about Ukrainians needing to be reasonable and realize that they have to cede some territory to Vladimir Putin.

These trials, these prosecutions, these investigations remind us what happens to people who are -- who live in the land that is occupied by Russia, the mass-scale atrocities that are perpetrated there.

HASAN: Quick -- Masha, quick last question. With Brittney Griner sentencing today, there`s talk of a prisoner swap being on the table, a deal. What do you think about the prospects of a deal between the U.S. and Russia in the form of a prisoner swap?

GESSEN: It`s very difficult. You know, we`re talking about a closed system. There`s no way to make predictions, but we do know that she`s a hostage, right? And hostages are generally taken in order to be used. Apparently, Russians are interested in more than Viktor Bout. And there are all kinds of theories about who they`re interested and why they`re interested in that person. But I think you know, one thing that we can see that is really in front of our eyes is that Brittney Griner is a hostage.

HASAN: Masha Gessen, we will have to leave it there. Thank you so much for your reporting and for your time tonight. I appreciate it.

GESSEN: Thank you.

HASAN: Still ahead, the grift finally catches up to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Find out how much money a jury says he owes Sandy Hook parents for his hate for lies. That`s next.




ALEX JONES, HOST, INFOWARS: Their goal is to "punish me and silence us and shut us down." That`s why they lie to the jury in the damages portion and say I got hundreds of millions of dollars. That`s why they do this so they get some giant judgment on the already guilty Alex Jones that they hope is too big for us to even get a bond on.

Well, once you`re in bankruptcy, it`s all there in the court, and the bonds for the appeals are half your net worth. Well, that isn`t going to be very, very much, maybe $1 million, $1.5 million or something. And they`re going to try to claim all this other wealth. But it`s not true, so then we will be able to continue on with appeals and the rest of it for years. And we will be able to fight these kangaroo courts.


HASAN: That was conspiracy theorist Alex Jones over the weekend boasting publicly about his plan to avoid a large judgment in his Texas defamation trial by declaring bankruptcy. Well, it didn`t work. Today, a Texas jury determined that Jones must pay families of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre more than $4 million in restitution for repeatedly using his platform to spread the false conspiracy theory that the shooting was a hoax.

Earlier this week, the judge in the case reprimanded Jones for lying on the witness stand and told him in no uncertain terms that he could not tell the jury about his bankruptcy scheme.


GAMBLE: You may not tell this jury that you are bankrupt. That is also not true. You may have filed for bankruptcy. I don`t know that but I`ve heard that. It doesn`t put -- it doesn`t make a person or company bankrupt.


HASAN: And to be clear, this is not the end of financial consequences for Jones. The damages awarded today were to compensate the families he defamed. Next, come potential punitive damages, payments Jones may have to make as punishment for his conduct. Remember, the Sandy Hook parents originally wanted $150 million. And also, Jones faces a separate defamation damages trial in Connecticut. Again, for his disgusting Sandy Hook lies.

Ben Collins has been closely following the trial in Texas. He`s a senior reporter for NBC News covering disinformation, extremism, and the Internet, all things we associate with Alex Jones. Ben, thanks for joining me. What is your main takeaway from today`s decision and what comes next for Alex Jones?


BEN COLLINS, NBC NEWS SENIOR REPORTER: Well, the main takeaway is that this is going to go on forever. But this is a first sort of punch against InfoWars. It`s the first time he`s had to pay up in any real way for the years of why`s that he has sick upon not just these parents and families, but also the country and also this court now. You know, he was -- he didn`t provide any discovery or things like that over the years. This was a -- he was just talking about kangaroo courts. He tried as hard as he could to make this kangaroo court.

So, the takeaway today is that he is going to pay at least a little bit, $4 million, which we`ve learned from this trial is probably not that much to him. However, we`ve also learned some other things in this trial. And those other things that we learned at this trial, for example, his leaked phone, are probably going to make him pay much, late -- much further and much more later on.

HASAN: So Ben, you`ve been covering Alex Jones for a long time. Did anything surprise you during this trial? Did we learn something, wow, that`s crazy even for Alex Jones?

COLLINS: A lot of things surprise me. First of all, this leaked phone thing, the fact that his lawyers handed over the entire contents of his phone, a few years` worth of his emails and texts were sent over to the Sandy Hook parents, that was shocking. And it`s -- and it`s shocking for a couple of reasons. First of all, it had its financials in it. And I`ve been chasing Alex Jones`s financials. I can`t even count how long. It had been a decade, somewhere in there, and nothing has provided a real clear picture about how much money this guy makes.

It`s so much more than I ever dreamed. There are days it apparent -- it seems the InfoWars takes in $800,000 a day. And that`s extrapolated. That`s $300 million a year. That`s an incredible amount of money. And if that`s just from the store, if that`s not just from its side projects and all the Bitcoin stuff that he`s gotten recently, it can be more than that which is truly shocking.

That came out by mistake. There are other things that are in that phone that came out by mistake. So, that is going to last for a very long time into these next trials. And maybe I presume, tomorrow as well, once they go into punitive damages.

HASAN: Ben, you mentioned the money he`s making. As you say, 800 grand a day at one point in 2018. How much did this trial and his testimony get to the bottom of how much is he a crazy ideologue, how much is he a cynical grifter?

COLLINS: Well, it kind of went both directions. This guy went up there and performed the same Alex Jones character on the stand as he would see it indoors. Does that mean it`s actually him? I don`t know. You know, he said it all under oath, but he was caught lying under oath several times, even the judge said it several times. So, if you think that performance is who we actually is, then that`s what showed up on the stand.

However, the guy is making an enormous amount of money. This is an empire of lies that he has built over the last decade. And it`s been -- it`s more than ever before.

HASAN: And it`s not -- Ben, it`s not just the financial empire -- I`m sorry to jump in but we`re running out of time. I have to make this point. It`s not just a financial empire, it`s a political empire. He has people -- you know, Donald Trump appeared on his show when he was running for president in the 2016 race. Marjorie Taylor Greene still goes on show even now. Very recently, she was on his show.

COLLINS: Yes, he`s a kingmaker in that space. And it`s because the production values are high and knows how to get to people. This guy is going to keep saying that he -- like, his world is smaller than ever just as all of these people who show up on Fox News say, you know, my book was banned, people are trying to silence me, all this stuff, and they show up on places like Tucker Carlson show, which is the highest rated new show on cable.

You know, this is the exact thing. It`s a playbook he has developed to victimize victims even further for his own bank account, and claim that he is the one being victimized. He made more in 2018, 2019 than he did before, that he did in the years before when he was on Facebook, when he was on YouTube. So, he made a self-sustaining ecosystem based on lies and fear. And the Sandy Hook parents, they were -- you know, they were the beta test for this basically.

HASAN: That is depressing. It`s important that you`re telling us that but depressing. Ben Collins, thanks so much for your reporting as ever.

That is ALL IN on this Thursday night. "MSNBC PRIME" starts right now with my good friend Ali Velshi. Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: It was -- it`s a depressing story but it is an important story and it continues to play out. So, I`m glad that you and Ben were having that conversation. You have a great night, my friend. We`ll see you tomorrow.

HASAN: Thank you.

VELSHI: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. If you would allow me, I`d like to take you back in time.