A Trump-appointed federal district judge issued this astonishing ruling essentially siding with Donald Trump and his lawyers ordering the appointment of a special master. Experts call the Trump-appointed judge`s special master ruling as laughably bad and untethered from reality. Trump rally in Pennsylvania highlights a January 6 case of an alleged Nazi sympathizer. Washington Post reports that a document describing a foreign government`s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities was found by FBI agents who searched Donald Trump`s Mar a Lago residence. Trump`s fake elector was caught on tape as she escorted data breachers into Coffee County Elections Office in Georgia. Republican Party in Wisconsin is engaged in an increasingly vicious civil war over should Republicans of the state move to invalidate the 2020 presidential election.
ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D-TX), STATE SENATOR: We are last in funding in mental health in the United States. Let`s have a special session on school hardening.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Yes.
GUTIERREZ: We spent $110 million in 2019. They spent $4 billion on this Operation Lone Star nonsense.
REID: Unbelievable. Yes, he`s -- all he`s talking about is undocumented people. That`s what he`s talking about, instead of the safety of these little children and their teachers. Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez, thank you very much.
And that is tonight`s REIDOUT. Thank you all for tuning in. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
BILL BARR, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The opinion, I think was wrong. And I think the government should appeal it.
HAYES: The special master ruling on the ex-president`s stash of classified documents. Tonight, the Trump judge who gave him what he wanted. What it all means the investigation and the rule of law? Then --
CYNTHIA HUGHES, FOUNDER, PATRIOT FREEDOM PROJECT: He wanted to take part in what he thought was going to be historical event.
HAYES: The insurrectionist and alleged Nazi sympathizer who became the latest MAGA martyr for January 6.
Plus, one of Trump`s fake electors caught on tape as she escorted data breachers into a county election office in Georgia.
And how invalidating 2020 became a RINO litmus test in Wisconsin when ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. It`s been about 32 hours since a Trump-appointed federal district judge issued this astonishing ruling essentially siding with Donald Trump and his lawyers, giving the ex-President nearly everything he wanted and more in the case of his clearly unlawful and possibly criminal retention of classified documents that are not his.
Now, we`re going to get to the details of the ruling itself. But first, it`s just notable this decision has come under unbelievable, overwhelming, and near-universal criticism. Law professor at Duke University telling the New York Times, "This ruling is laughably bad, and the written justification is even flimsier."
Paul Rosenzweig, a former George W. Bush official calling the ruling "A genuinely unprecedented decision by a judge." Andrew Weissmann, former lead prosecutor in the Mueller investigation who I will speak to at this very table in a moment wrote the ruling as "Untethered to law and presents a skewed recitation of the facts." Even Bill Barr got on it -- in on it earlier today.
Now, you might be wondering how he ruling when so catastrophically wrong to invoke reactions like that for some pretty serious and sober folks. One theory of how we came here is essentially the Trump view of the situation. The ex-President has made it very clear he believes judges he appoints should work on his behalf rather than on behalf of law. As president, he had a habit of calling them my judges and decrying those appointed by his predecessor as "Obama judges."
All that came to a little bit of a head in 2018 when Trump publicly attacked so-called Obama judges for ruling against him for his proposed restrictive rules for asylum seekers, which prompted a rare rebuke from Chief Justice in the Supreme Court John Roberts.
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DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You go to the Ninth Circuit, and it`s a disgrace. And I`m going to put in a major complaint because you cannot win if you`re us a case in the Ninth Circuit. And this was an Obama judge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s true that Judge John Tiger was appointed by President Obama, but when asked about the comment by the Associated Press, the Chief Justice said we do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges, or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.
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HAYES: OK, so two views of how judges operate here. The Donald Trump legal realist ultimately cynical view, judges are essentially political cronies who rule in your favor. The John Roberts justice is blind, everyone doing their legal best, right? Two views. Today, it seems like Trump might have had the better theory about his judges, at least in this one case.
And it`s so egregious in part because, in the past, Trump`s reliance on his people his judges has failed. The Roberts view of things has held. I mean, a bunch of Trump-appointed judges throughout Trump`s bogus legal challenges of the 2020 election. That did not stop one Trump surrogate from publicly speculating the Supreme Court justices Trump appointed would come through for the ex-President in his attempts to overturn the election in Pennsylvania, before the election was even called.
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HARMEET DHILLON, LEGAL ADVISOR, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN: We`re waiting for the United States Supreme Court of which the President has nominated three justices to step in and do something. And hopefully, Amy Coney Barrett will come through and pick it up. There`s no guarantee of that loose so we have to fight this on the ground and make sure that we challenge every placement we are.
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HAYES: Now, again, the Supreme Court, as we all know, three of those justices in the sixth -- in the 6-3 majority, Trump appointed, right, they didn`t intervene on behalf of Trump. We also know that according to testimony from counsel to the former Vice President Mike Pence, coup plotter John Eastman was telling people that conservative justices on the Supreme Court would essentially clear path for the coup to take hold.
Eastman of course was in touch with Clarence Thomas`s wife Ginni Thomas at the time. So, Eastman is telling people that of Pence had gone along with the scheme to throw out the results election and turn it over to rogue state legislatures, they would have been in the clear.
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GREG JACOB, FORMER COUNSEL TO MIKE PENCE: He again tried to say, but I don`t think the courts will get involved in this. They`ll invoke the political question doctrine. And so, if the courts stay out of it, that will mean that we`ll have the 10 days for the states to weigh in and resolve it.
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HAYES: Again, these are examples of Trump people saying, look, these are our people, they will come through for us. Now, thankfully, again, it never got that far. But it is clear many people in Trump`s inner circle and Trump himself believed fully, despite the evidence to the contrary in the election litigation, that the judges he appointed would act essentially as MAGA collaborators in robes.
Now, that is where the judge in question today, Southern Florida District Judge Aileen Cannon comes in. She`s got an unremarkable resume for a conservative judge, right? She`s a lifelong member the conservative Federalist Society, which has long sought to remake the judiciary and armed movement conservatism. Few years in a private law firm (INAUDIBLE). She has not been on the bench for very long.
She was approved, this is interesting, by the McConnell-lead Republican- controlled Senate, get this, in the lame duck period after the 2020 election. This is when Joe Biden was President-Elect but Donald Trump was still actively trying to foment coup. Judge Cannon is the archetypal Trump judge known for her conservative jurisprudence, which is why, and this is another interesting detail here, when Trump filed this complete nonsense lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and others earlier this year, which frankly, I had forgotten about until this story because it was so ludicrous, over allegations his campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election, yadda yadda, Trump went shopping for a judge.
He tried to get the case in front of none other than, drum roll, Judge Cannon, which is interesting. As the Daily Beast reports, "When his attorneys formally filed the paperwork, they selected a tiny courthouse in the sprawling Federal Court districts for this northeast corner, 70 miles from Mar-a-Lago. They ignored the West Palm Beach federal courthouse, that`s a 12-minute drive away. Trump`s legal team, it seemed, was specifically seeking out a particular federal judge.
Now, the plan didn`t work through the luck of the draw. This is like a lottery system of which judge you get. Trump suit was instead put before a different judge rather than Cannon who promptly threw it out, But not before noting this in the ruling. Listen to this. "I note that Trump filed this lawsuit in the Fort Pierce division of this district where only one federal judge sits, Judge Aileen Cannon who Trump appointed in 2020. Despite the odds this case landed with me instead. And when Trump is a litigant before a judge that he himself appointed, he does not tend to advance these same sorts of bias concerns."
So, Trump got lucky this time. He got Cannon. He went judge shopping, and again, this time, the DOJ case did land before Aileen Cannon. Now, at first, she appeared skeptical requesting more information from Trump`s lawyers as to why the case was even coming before to begin with. There is a pending legal matter under another judge, magistrate judge, Florida Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, right? That`s the name you recognize already overseeing it. He`s the one who had the hearing about which parts of the search warrant would be made public and which parts would be the affidavit would meet by public. He`s overseeing, right?
So, Cannon asked like why me. But she seems to have gotten the picture pretty quickly. Last week, she took the unprecedented step of basically telling everyone ahead of time she was going to rule on Trump`s favor, before issuing the ruling itself yesterday, which as we noted a moment ago, is basically the laughingstock of the entire legal profession.
Canon ruled the Department of Justice must pause reviewing the documents it sees from Trump weeks ago, essentially putting much of the investigation on hold, which of course, was Trump`s only real gold here. Cannon also ordered, "The appointment of a special master to review the seized property for personal items and documents and potentially privileged material subject to claims of attorney-client and or executive privilege."
Now, let`s just set the table here. Nobody disputes that Trump or the people working for him, right, took the government documents at issue. And they do not belong to him. That`s not in dispute either. They belong to the United States Government pursuant to the Presidential Records Act. So, they should be in the custody of the National Archives. So, Donald Trump should not have a say in whether their reviewed. They are not his.
Furthermore, Donald Trump is not the executive. That`s the executive -- the executive privilege. Joe Biden is. So, it`s almost impossible see what executive privilege there are to consider, not to mention the Department of Justice, which is reviewing the documents on the other side of this motion, is unlike Donald Trump, actually part of the executive branch.
So, this ruling is basically saying a special master needs to be appointed to see what the executive branch needs to hide from itself, with one part of that executive branch being Donald J. Trump who is not part of the executive branch in point of fact. It`s exactly as ridiculous as it sounds. Yet it is currently the law of the land, at least until the Department of Justice appeals and maybe appellate courts weighs in.
But it`s crucial to keep in mind that the law is not just some like objective thing carved in stone out there free from our political reality. The law in a functional sense, at the level of human behavior and institutions, a law is whatever a judge decides it is no matter how ridiculous until they`re overruled, and then in the United States, it`s ultimately whatever five Supreme Court justices say it is.
And if there were five Ginni Thomases or Aileen Cannons on the Supreme Court, it`s entirely possible Trump would have gotten away with his attempted coup. So, as of now, this ruling stands. What comes next? Nobody knows.
I`m joined now by someone who may have an educated guess. Andrew Weissmann spent years working in the Department of Justice. Most recently, he served as lead prosecutor in Robert Mueller`s special counsel investigation. He`s just written a piece to the Atlantic about this special master case titled A Ruling Untethered to the Law. And he joins me now.
Well, tell me how you really feel. I guess, let`s start at this. I mean, again, I try -- I try to check my own biases here, right? Obviously, I have them -- I have my own sort of, you know, principles and politics. I read the ruling. And again, I`m not a lawyer, and then I read other (INAUDIBLE). Give me your, your distillation for non-lawyers of what makes this such a strange ruling.
ANDREW WEISSMANN, FORMER LEAD PROSECUTOR, ROBERT MUELLER`S SPECIAL COUNSEL INVESTIGATION: So, I think there are two things. One is that, as you mentioned, the very upset when January 6 happened, we all saw in the district courts, that the courts really held, that the sort of insidiousness of Trump and what has happened to that party did not take hold in a forum where facts, law, logical reasoning, precedent is based to have sort of prime place.
And here you have a decision that is just not tethered to the law. It`s really intellectually dishonest. Even its recitation of the facts, which is usually a good sign of whether the judge is going to sort of, you know, play it straight, just ignores so many facts and skews everything in favor of Donald Trump. So, it`s really, really hard to read this and say this is an intellectually honest piece.
Now, obviously, there are Trump-appointed judges who have done the right thing and made really good decisions, this is really dispiriting as a lawyer. The other part is this idea that Trump is going to get unequal justice. You know, we saw that during the entire bar Justice Department, we saw it with Michael Flynn, we saw it with Roger Stone. And this is another example of creating a rule that she just comes right out and says it, which is he`s getting something that every single person who`s under investigation in the United States would love to get, which is enjoining a criminal investigation.
HAYES: This is a really important point. It`s not just the ship orders a special master -- and sometimes those happen. I mean, we have -- you have situations where for instance, a lawyer is searched, right, and you`ve got to make sure that some of those documents are you know, are exec -- that have privileged claims don`t get mixed in. She goes a step further to the point where like, I`m not even -- I didn`t even know a judge can do this.
WEISSMANN: Yes. So, that`s one of the reasons people are reacting to this. Every single defendant is going to look at this and say, give me that which -- you know, what he has who wants to have a criminal investigation of himself or herself, so you`re going to ask to have the exact same thing.
And what she did here is she said, you know, there`s a tiny kernel of maybe attorney-client information. It`s not even clear the parties agree that there`s some sort of dispute. She took that kernel and said, everybody stopped everything, not only are the -- I`m going to appoint a special master just for those small number of potentially disputed items, but everything has to stop, including, you know, any document that`s classified, documents that are stolen by the person under investigation. And he now gets to look at them for no reason whatsoever.
HAYES: This is how you put it and it struck me. You said every defendant relish the opportunity to delay a criminal investigation by having a court enjoined the government for investigation that never happens. The time- honored recourse for someone aggrieved by a search is not that unelected judges unilaterally decide to join the constitutionally delegated power of the executive branch to investigate and prosecute. Defense remedies in a post-indictment motion to suppress evidence from a search.
I mean, a lot of people are saying like, I have literally never heard of a judge doing this.
HAYES: There`s also this -- the point which, you know, I just can`t get around where she basically no notes in a footnote I don`t really have jurisdiction over this. She says the court recognizes that under the Presidential Records Act, U.S. -- the United States District Court of district Columbia State shall have jurisdiction over any action initiated by the former president asserting a determination by the Archivist to prevent -- permanent public dissemination in presidential records violates the former President`s constitutional rights or privileges.
Like, it`s written into the act. She says, it`s right there in black and white. Here`s the statute, citation.
WEISSMANN: Yes. So, it`s -- the reason you`re having trouble is because there is a judge saying, oh, yes, I know that the law, but guess what, I`m just not doing it. And it really puts the department in a very hard position right now. They have to decide do I want to appeal this, and that has a lot of downsides. There`s delay that`s built-in. On the other hand, you may want to do that because just as a matter of precedent, there`s the idea of letting this stand. So, that`s a huge conundrum.
Plus, the 11th circuit, as you know, is no longer the 11th circuit of when I was growing up, and it`s very stocked with judges who may in fact have the same kind of erratic view of the law and the facts that we see in judge Canons decision. On the other hand, do you just sort of leave it be and go forward with a sort of special master process when you know that you`re in front of a district judge who may slow things down, who may be very unfair and the way she applies the law and the facts in this process? So, it`s a really tough call.
Or do you do what I sort of call a hybrid, which is you appeal the injunction but you go forward with a special master process because I think you really want things to proceed quickly.
HAYES: Yes. And the injunction seems to me, again, speaking as a not a lawyer, but the least defensible -- I mean, it`s sort of the lowest hanging fruit on appeal, because it is such a remarkable reach as a step for a judge to order.
WEISSMANN: Yes, and I think one thing that`s really important here is that the injunction, although she says it applies just to criminal investigation, in fact, would really hurt the DNI, these sort of classification, national security investigation, because the two are really inseparable. So, for her to say, we`ll go forward with the thing that`s really important, but by the way, you can`t use agents, you can`t use the grand jury, you can interview witnesses which you would do as part of the criminal process is to me completely unrealistic.
HAYES: To that end, she does say -- yes, she says, you can keep doing your damage assessment of what this has done. The Washington Post just reporting I think just before we came on the air, if we have that headline -- no, I`m going to read it off-screen. Material on foreign nation`s nuclear capabilities seized at Trump`s Mar-a-Lago it goes on to describe, the information is so closely held in sort of Special Access Program compartment and that basically only the president or cabinet-level officials have the authority to read people into this.
So, this is like the details of a foreign nation`s nuclear capabilities were in the documents taken in the raid, according to reporting for The Washington Post, highlight the sensitivity of what we`re talking about here.
WEISSMANN: And why somebody -- you know, I`ve seen those things when I was in the government, I didn`t want to see them. It was so sensitive. The idea that you would take that home and have that sort of floating around at Mar- a-Lago is just unfathomable. But the main issue now is that the DNI really needs to know who had access to that.
That is paramount there. And nothing that this judge is doing should in any way interfere with that. To me, that`s the part that I think Merrick Garland has to be thinking, how do I sort of appeal that piece of it.
HAYES: Yes. Andrew Weissmann, this was really eliminating. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
WEISSMANN: Thank you.
HAYES: When it came time for the Department of Justice to decide whether or not to let a January 6 defendant named Timothy Hale Cusanelli out of jail, one of the things they pointed to that concern them was, "defendants white supremacist ideology and Nazi idolatry are central to his dreams of a civil war, and they use these images to support that claim." Hale Cusanelli is still in jail, but he has been turned into a MAGA celebrity thanks to a campaign event this weekend that featured Donald Trump himself. That story next.
HAYES: Donald Trump held his first rally this weekend since the FBI is extraordinary search of his home at Mar-a-Lago. He traveled to Pennsylvania campaigning for Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and the nominee for governor Doug Mastriano, a guy who is at the Capitol on January 6. But the most notable speaker of the evening ended up being a woman named Cynthia Hughes, the leader of a support group for insurrectionists who have been charged for attacking the Capitol on January 6.
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CYNTHIA HUGHES, FOUNDER, PATRIOT FREEDOM PROJECT: I`m the founder of the Patriot Freedom Project. The foundation started after the arrest of my nephew who has been languishing behind the walls of a DC jail almost two years for his participation in the January 6 rally. He committed no acts of violence, and he assaulted no one that day. He went to the nation`s capitol to hear his president speak. He dressed in a suit and tie and his favorite hat. Tim wanted to take part in what he thought was going to be a historical event. Instead, he witnessed a horror show.
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HAYES: It sounds like a guy who`s just there exercising his First Amendment who`s kind of swept up in the whole thing. What Cynthia Hughes failed to mention is the man she calls her nephew is allegedly a Nazi sympathizer. Now, it may be a strong language, but this is a picture of Timothy Hale Cusanelli proudly sporting a Hitler mustache in photos revealed by prosecutors in a court filing.
And according to prosecutors, he often espoused anti-Semitic views once telling a co-worker, and I quote, "Hitler should have finished the job." In court, Hale Cusanelli testified his comments were ironic, that he never quote really thought it was true. In May, Hale Cusanelli was convicted on all five charges he faced, included, obstructing an official proceeding, which is a felony. He is set to be sentenced later this month.
And these comments from Timothy`s self-described -- Timothy`s self- described aunt come just days after President Joe Biden faced a lot of criticism for referring to the MAGA philosophy as quote semi-fascism. Well, call me crazy, but don`t think there`s anything semi about rocking a Hitler mustache, espousing far-right views, and then taking part in attempted coup against the democratically elected government.
It`s shocking, this man, the one whose picture you see there was celebrated as a political prisoner of conscience at the rally led by the former president and leader of the Republican Party and attended by the Republican candidates for Senate and governor of Pennsylvania. NBC News justice reporter Ryan Reilly has been following all the January 6 cases and he joins me now.
And Ryan, you were the first one because you`ve been covering the cases so closely that alerted to me as I was following your reporting that this was the individual. I had seen the picture, of course. Tell me more about this individual`s case.
RYAN REILLY, MSNBC JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, so, Cusanelli was -- Hale Cusanelli he was convicted by a jury. And what was remarkable to me about this case is, it was -- it was overseen by Judge McFadden who decided that after that he was convicted that he would be willing to give an extended sentence or a longer sentence to Hale Cusanelli because he found his testimony, "highly dubious."
This is an individual with a very long record of, you know, essentially fascist-like views here. He was actually arrested back in 2010, believe it or not, for having a potato gun with a bunch of his friends that had the phrase White is right on it. He had this right-wing -- you have this right- wing podcast. And obviously, he had exchanges with that, that and that woman that you refers to as his aunt, in which he used anti-Jewish slurs in his text messages to this aunt.
So, she`s not unaware of his views and his pretty deplorable views that were clear to all of his colleagues who were interviewed. And I think, you know, over -- dozens of his colleagues were interviewed, and expressed their, I think, frustration with some of the views that this individual had expressed at their job, Chris.
HAYES: I`m sorry, rewind that for a second. You say that there`s evidence that he used anti-Jewish slurs in text messages with the woman who was speaking about the plight of a poor nephew at that rally?
REILLY: That`s right. Yes. And those messages came out in the -- in the court documents. And, you know, there are a lot of frustrations even amongst, you know, the January 6 community as they refer to themselves about this guy sort of being the poster boy. There`s a lot of controversy. NPR has done some great reporting about how this money is actually being allocated and used.
And there`s a lot of controversy within the community. I was speaking with someone in that community today. He was very upset that, you know, they`re being -- that this is essentially the poster boy for this. It`s just -- it`s just odd for him to be the person you`re going to point to say that there`s overreach here. It`s such a very poorly chosen poster boy for this.
You know, you would expect them to go with somebody who`s much more run of the mill. You know, maybe a grandmother or something you throw in there. But you know, they -- in reality, they don`t have those cases to look at because there was this grandmother today who there`s a lot of blowback on the right about that case being brought forward. And lo and behold, she got sentenced to probation. She didn`t actually end up serving any jail time even though DOJ went for two weeks or 14 days in that case.
So, there`s not a lot of people you can point to who are still locked up that you can say, oh, this person is being overheld because their cases have been examined so closely, and everyone who`s still being held really is determined to be a danger to the public going forward, Chris.
HAYES: Yes. I mean, I guess -- yes, I think if you`re trying to gain sympathy the guy with the obvious Hitler mustache, who all of his co- workers, many of his co-workers said had essentially fascist, Nazi- sympathizing views, made anti-Semitic remarks used anti-Semitic slurs in texts, his aunt is not the person you want to promote at a rally attended by Mehmet Oz, Doug Mastriano, and Donald Trump.
All right, Ryan Reilly, thank you very much.
As I mentioned at the top of the show, Breaking News from The Washington Post about what was in one of those documents found at Mar-a-Lago by the search team about the nuclear capabilities of a foreign nation. One of the reporters that broke that story is going to join me on the other side of this commercial break, so do not go anywhere.
HAYES: We`re following some breaking news on the Justice Department`s investigation to the documents Donald Trump had stashed away. The Washington Post has just reported that, and I quote, a document describing a foreign government`s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities was found by FBI agents who searched Donald Trump`s Mar a Lago residence." The Post previously reported that nuclear documents were among those sought by investigators.
One of the reporters who broke this story for The Post, Devlin Barrett, joins me now on the phone. Devlin, thank you for scrambling to join us. Pretty explosive stuff. Tell us what your reporting indicates about the nature of this document.
DEVLIN BARRETT, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. So, like I said, the material in question was a document describing a foreign country`s military defenses. And we don`t know -- you know, the people we talked to are not willing at this point to say which country which is obviously an important detail that we`re still chasing. But included in that description is that country`s nuclear capability as part of their military defenses.
And so, I think, you know, one of the things that we`ve been reporting on throughout as best we can is not just what they were looking for, but what they found. And in addition to that, one of the things that`s been described to us is that some of the special access program information -- that`s a government term for highly, highly classified information was so close hold that the only people authorized to let other people know about it, were the president, some cabinet-level officials, or near cabinet-level officials. And that`s another way of measuring just how closely held some of these secrets were.
HAYES: So, I want to follow up on that, right, because you can imagine there`s the full spectrum of information about the nuclear capabilities of foreign country. What your reporting indicates is that some of the information at least -- at least according to your reporting and sources, was basically at the upper, upper echelons of how closely held it would be by the U.S. government.
BARRETT: Certainly some of the material was that. I think -- I think that`s fairly clear both from the public court filings and what we have been told by sources close to the case.
HAYES: I guess the question is what -- you know, from the damage assessment point of this, I mean, this sounds like very valuable information for all kinds of people that may or may not be floating it out of Mar-a-Lago. I don`t know. The judge in the Federal District in Florida is allowing this damage assessment to proceed. But this indicates that there might be real significant consequences in case that wasn`t already clear.
BARRETT: Right. And I think you have to think of that assessment as -- you know, there`s two steps here, right? One is a risk assessment, which is, OK, what type of material was this? What kind of damage could happen if it were to fall into the wrong hands? And that`s number one. And that`s what`s currently underway.
And then, I think is as a -- as a part of that but distinct is you have to try and understand as best you can how whether that actually did fall into the wrong hands. Who had access? Who might have, in fact, read a document or looked at a document or been told about a document like this? And so, that`s a separate and to be honest probably a little more difficult of a question to answer. But both of those things are important questions that government officials are now trying to answer.
HAYES: Final question I guess is what -- I`ve seen a bunch of people saying, look, I had security clearance. If this was found in my house, I would be in a lot of trouble. I mean, given your long career as a reporter in these worlds, what`s your sense of how seriously the government would take such as this were it just anyone working with clearance in the U.S. government?
BARRETT: I think it`s absolutely true that the Intelligence Community, the agencies that are part of it takes the very notion of removing information from a SCIF and just taking it home with you if you`re not a senior official with a SCIF in your home incredibly seriously. We`ve seen that before in past cases. We`ve -- you know, that is -- that is a very clear area of concern for intelligence officials and has been for a very long time.
I think you know, what`s so complex, but also simple about this case is that it involves the former president, which is not something we`ve really seen before.
HAYES: All right, Devlin Barrett, phenomenal reporting. Thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it.
BARRETT: Thank you.
HAYES: Still ahead, it turns out the Republicans who warned of election sketchiness in Georgia were right, sort of, new surveillance video that shows links between various pro-Trump efforts to overturn the 2020 election next.
HAYES: We now have a video showing one of Donald Trump`s fake electors in Georgia literally leading a group of computer experts into an elections office in January 2021 where they breached voting systems. This happened in Coffee County, Georgia in the southern part of the state. It happened the day after the insurrection. Trump attorney Sidney Powell coordinated an effort to take election data from Coffee County using a team of computer experts from a data forensic firm. We should note they didn`t change any votes or anything like that. They were just taking the data.
They were helped along by then chairwoman of the County Republican Party Cathy Latham. Now, Cathy Latham was also one of the 16 fake leaked electors who signed paperwork falsely claiming Trump won the election, that they were the rightful electors. According to The Washington Post, Latham who works as a teacher, "Said in sworn testimony she taught a full day of school that day and visited the elections office briefly after classes ended." And she was there for "just a few minutes."
But here she is on surveillance camera, walking into the Coffee County Election Office. According to The Washington Post, this happened just before noon on January 7. She stays inside for a while and then comes back out to greet the computer experts and escort them into the elections building acting as if it`s all part of normal business. NBC News is reached out to Cathy Latham for comment but have not yet -- have yet to hear back. The data forensic firm at issue referred NBC News to their lawyers and declined to comment.
Gwen Keyes Fleming is a former DeKalb County, Georgia District Attorney, co-authored the Brookings Institution`s report titled Fulton County, Georgia`s Trump Investigation, and she joins me now.
Gwen, let`s just begin with the law at issue here, Georgia law, about whether this is the kind of thing that`s lawful for a county chair of the Republican Party to lead someone in and give them access to private voting data in the machines of the voting system.
GWEN KEYES FLEMING, FORMER DISTRICT ATTORNEY, DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA: So, first of all, the election law in Georgia is very clear that only the Secretary of State is the only person who can authorize access to computers. So, anybody in any local county does not have the authority to authorize access. And so, in the absence of authority, what we`re looking at here are potential crimes of criminal trespass in terms of either altering or removing data, either permanently or temporarily, but then also, computer invasion of privacy, where you`re using a network without authorization to access personal information.
And I think a strong case could be made that voting records or how people vote would fall within that personal information umbrella.
HAYES:" There, they are just trucking their equipment. It`s really wild. So, we`ve been following this. Obviously, there`s been reporting from The Washington Post, some of it coming from a civil lawsuit about this forensic firm retained by Sidney Powell and other Trump lawyers that gained access in several places around the country to this voting data. And in this case, it appears with the help and cooperation of this official, this local county chair. The county was a very Republican county. It went to Trump by huge amounts.
My other question for you is the jurisdiction question. We have an ongoing investigation to the fake electors and possible criminal attempts to subvert or overturn the election coming out of Fulton County, Fani Willis. Is -- what are the boundaries of her jurisdiction as she looks into this case?
FLEMING: Well, she does not have jurisdiction in Coffee County, but the facts that are coming to light -- and again, these would all have to be facts that she would be able to either present to a special grand jury or if it gets to the point of charges, she would have to present it in court. If the call to set up the breach was received in Fulton County, then she can make an argument that she has jurisdiction.
And I think the public evidence is saying that this was an Atlanta-based firm that was called by Ms. Powell or others in the campaign to begin the process of looking or breaching these computers. So, that call, depending on where it was received, gives the full DEA jurisdiction.
HAYES: I mean, the story is really wild in every new detail we get. Again, I don`t know if that -- you know, it meets the bar of criminal conduct, but it does all seem facially unlawful. Like, you can`t -- obviously, you can`t have this. You can`t have just like random folks hired by the campaign or associates of one party running around grabbing privileged information off voting machines.
FLEMING: Well, and again, I think that`s one of the reasons why you have these laws on the books. And we`ve talked about some of the crimes that are in Title 16, the regular criminal code, but there might also be charges under the election code. Obviously, by January 7th, the election was long over, but this notion that computers should not be breached or should not be used in a way that accesses personal information or copied without authority, those are just some basic principles that you see in many states, particularly Georgia.
So, it will become a question as to what evidence the Fulton DA can find as it relates to what`s been reported publicly. And then she`ll make a decision as to whether she wants to wrap that into whatever case either she or the special grand jury will come to -- will bring to the fore with their report when they finish their investigation.
HAYES: Yes. We should also note that these kinds of breaches happen in other places around the country, including in Michigan, through the firm`s Cyber Ninjas, which visited the election building in Michigan, election building in January 19. So, there`s more of a story than just Coffee County, though it seems like the penetration there was the most egregious. Gwen Keyes Fleming, thank you so much.
FLEMING: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: Still to come, the Republican push to tighten their grip on a state Joe Biden won in 2020 next.
HAYES: In recent years, Wisconsin has probably been the battleground state that is the closest in the entire country. Right now, the Republican Party there is engaged in an increasingly vicious civil war over single question, should Republicans of Wisconsin move to invalidate the 2020 presidential election?
On the no, I don`t think we can do that side is the extremely right-wing speaker at the Wisconsin House Robin Vos. And on the yes, let`s give it a try side is Republican Senator Ron Johnson, the guy who hired one of Wisconsin`s fake electors to his campaign staff, the guy whose chief of staff was texting with an aide to Mike Pence trying to deliver a slate of fake electors on January 6.
Keep in mind this is against the backdrop of a state where Republicans have gerrymandered themselves into a position where they could win supermajorities in the state and basically control who gets to certify the 2024 election.
Ben Winkler is one of the people trying to stop that from happening. He`s the chair of the Democratic Party in Wisconsin and he joins me now. It`s good to have you here.
BEN WINKLER, CHAIR, WISCONSIN DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Let`s start with the statehouse. Wisconsin has notoriously one of the worst partisan gerrymanders in the country. We`ve used this as an example. It`s the kind of state where in a 50-50 state, 50-50 election, you still have huge Republican majorities because of the way they do the districts. There`s a new map now that -- is that better that new map?
WINKLER: So, we should have a better map because we have a great Democratic Governor Tony Evers. He ran on a pledge to fight for fair maps. But Republicans passed super gerrymandered maps through the legislature, and then the right-wing State Supreme Court with an assist with an unsigned shadow docket opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court actually refused to follow their own guidelines and chose the state legislatures maps going forward.
HAYES: The state legislators maps are written by Republicans who have gerrymandered themselves into that position for Republicans in this next one. And my understanding is if you take the 2020 election, right, so run the numbers with 2020 -- Biden won the state. What would that look like in the state houses?
WINKLER: It puts them right on the brink of having two-thirds super majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. And that means that this small number of state legislative contests will be absolutely critical to ensuring we have any semblance of democracy in the state alongside defeating the extremists in the governor`s race and reelecting Governor Evers.
HAYES: Wait, I just want to hammer this home for people.
HAYES: This is a state that`s quintessentially 50-50 state, right?
WINKLER: Purple, purple, purple.
HAYES: Purple, purple, purple. This is a state in which if you had the exact same results as 2021 -- Joe Biden won the state -- Republicans in both houses with the new maps would have near supermajorities in both houses.
WINKLER: I can`t stress it enough. It is --
HAYES: That is wild.
WINKLER: It is -- it`s a democracy desert and the state legislature, which is exactly what they want. They want to be voter-proof. They want --
HAYES: Right. That`s what it sounds like.
WINKLER: Yes. And they run like it. I mean, even in statewide elections, like Ron Johnson is running on cutting Social Security and making sure manufacturing jobs stay overseas. These are not things that people who want to appeal to majority of voters in the state do. And in the state legislature, it is just one special interest giveaway after another.
Right now, it`s because we have Tony Evers who has been able to veto 128 extreme right-wing bills that Wisconsin doesn`t have some of the most extreme, ultra-right-wing policies of any state in the country.
HAYES: Right. And if they -- so you got to Evers, right? So, you got a statewide election, right. And people say we want this Democratic governor, Tony Evers, right?
HAYES: In a tight state, but they`ve drawn map so it`s like, well, if you lose 50-50, we might get -- within spitting distance of two-thirds, we could just override the governor`s vetoes. We just rule from these two houses that we have drawn for ourselves.
WINKLER: The question of whether we should --
HAYES: It`s an insane state of affairs.
WINKLER: It`s totally wild. And this question of whether we should even be a democracy, it`s -- we`re living it every day in Wisconsin. And it`s -- it`ll come down to a handful of votes. One person knocking on doors in their own neighborhood could flip a statewide election or stop Republicans` super majorities in the legislature.
HAYES: Ron Johnson is in cycle. He is one of the top targets. Mandela Barnes, the current lieutenant governor is the nominee of the Democratic Party. What is the -- what do you see as the defining issue of that race? He has survived two, he`s won twice sometimes against the odds. What do you think?
WINKLER: So, the core question on this is whether someone who`s basically just out to serve himself and his wealthiest donors, people who poured tens of millions of dollars into his last race and then walked away with $215 million for two people in the next year -- because Ron Johnson wrote a special tax break for owners of certain kinds of corporations --
HAYES: Ah, the pass-through break.
WINKLER: The pass-through break.
HAYES: The Ron Johnson pass-through break.
HAYES: Just for people who aren`t tracking this. Late in the negotiations in the Trump-Republican tax cut bill, when it looked like it was all done, Ron Johnson came in and said, no, there`s this extra thing you have to put in which is a carve-out for people that structure their corporations as pass-through corporations. Why does that --
WINKLER: Well, what happens is that Ron Johnson`s -- his own company that he basically received from his father-in-law is structured as a pass- through, was. He then sold it at a huge profit. And his two biggest donors, Dick Uihlein, the biggest funder of the Stop the Steal protest, and Diane Hendricks, two right-wing billionaires, their giant companies were also structured as pass-throughs.
So, they literally got a 10 to one return on their $20 million campaign investment in one year. That`s who Ron Johnson is fighting for. Mandela Barnes, son of a public school teacher and a third shift UAW auto worker working for working families across the state.
HAYES: Tim Michael`s, quickly, very, very strongly anti-abortion candidate says he wants the 1849 law to control in Wisconsin bodily choice.
WINKLER: This is pre-Civil War law when women didn`t have the right to vote in our state.
HAYES: Currently worked -- it`s now the law.
WINKLER: Currently -- Governor Evers has said he will grant clemency to anyone prosecuted under it. And he`s suing to invalidate this law. If Tim Michaels comes in, this is the law of the state. So, stopping him for the future of freedom and Wisconsin and for the future of democracy in America absolutely critical. wisdems.org/donate, I should mention.
HAYES: The gerrymander stuff is bonkers, truly like existentially dangerous. Ben Winkler, thank you.
WINKLER: Thank you.
HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Tuesday night. "ALEX WAGNER TONIGHT" starts right now. Good evening, Alex.