In a lengthy rambling letter to the bipartisan committee investigating January 6, Rep. Jim Jordan has signaled he will refuse to speak to the committee after it requested his testimony last month. The January 6 Committee is now weighing whether or not to seek testimony from Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama. The D.C. Attorney General is suing the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers using a law originally written to take down the KKK by a Civil War-era law which is recently used in Charlottesville to put these groups out of business. This weekend, after much speculation, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin announced he is running for a third term.
EVELYN ANITON MCDOWELL, ASSOCIATION UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR AND DEPARTMENT CHAIR: I`m pretty sure they`re not going to see me there. I had it twice and I beat it.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Yes.
MCDOWELL: So, I don`t -- I don`t see -- I`m not worried about me but I am worried about other people not, you know, not being --
REID: We got.
MCDOWELL: I`m protected. My body has been protected naturally.
REID: Well, we`re -- we are out of time. I hope that you will get together with Dr. Patel and you guys can talk offline. We need to have more of these conversations because there are doctors begging you to change your mind.
MCDOWELL: Thank you, Joy, for having me.
REID: OK, thank you, Evelyn Anton McDowell and Dr. Kavita Patel. Thank you very much. That`s tonight`s "REIDOUT." All IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I spoke with him that day after, I think after. I don`t know if I spoke with him in the morning or not. I just don`t know.
HAYES: He`s a material witness with nothing to hide.
JORDAN: I`ve been clear all along, I`ve got nothing to hide. I`ve been straightforward all along.
HAYES: Tonight, as the committee prepares a public phase, why Jim Jordan is having second thoughts and what the committee is prepared to do about it with Congressman Adam Schiff.
Then, can the law that crippled the KKK hold the Proud Boys accountable for January 6? The attorney general of Washington D.C. joins me on his lawsuit. Plus, he could be America`s least responsible senator, and he`s running for reelection.
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Could the vast vaccination into the pandemic, could that be driving these variants?
HAYES: All that and the frontline Omicron challengers that are not getting enough attention when ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Congressman Jim Jordan is once again it appears putting on a show for an audience of one, Donald Trump. In a lengthy rambling letter to the bipartisan committee investigating January 6, the Republican from Ohio has signaled he will refuse to speak to the committee after it requested his testimony last month.
"The American people are tired of Democrats` nonstop investigations and partisan witch hunts. This request is far outside the bounds of any legislative inquiry, violated core constitutional principles, and would serve to further erode legislative norms."
Jordan, I should note, served as the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee during the Benghazi investigations. One of the many committees that was part of the nonstop, you might even call partisan witch hunts that ran for more than two years. But this letter marks a much different position for Congressman Jordan, crucially, who said multiple times last year he had nothing to hide from the committee including during a hearing of the House Rules Committee last October.
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REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA): Are you willing to tell the Select Committee what you know about events leading up to --
JORDAN: I`ve been clear all long, I`ve got nothing to hide. I`ve been straightforward all along.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It`s worth mentioning that Jordan probably does have something to hide or at least looks likely that he does. Remember, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy originally wanted Jordan himself to serve on the January 6 Committee, named him to the committee, and then Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi basically said no way and vetoed it.
Shortly thereafter, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the vice chair of that committee, called Jordan a "material witness" to its investigation. And Jordan has mentioned on multiple occasions that he spoke to Donald Trump on January 6, though he refuses to discuss when exactly those conversations took place. Here`s how he responded back in July when asked about them.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes or no, did you speak with President Trump on January 6?
JORDAN: Yes, I mean, I speak -- I spoke with the President last week, I speak with the president all the time. I spoke with him on January 6. I mean, I talked with President Trump all the time. And that`s -- I don`t think that`s unusual. I would expect members of Congress to talk with the President of the United States when they`re trying to get done the things they told the voters in their district to do.
I`m actually kind of amazed sometimes if people keep asking this. Of course, I talked to the president all the time. I talked to him -- like I said, I talked with him last week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On January 6, did you speak with him before, during, or after the capital was attacked?
JORDAN: I`d have to go -- I spoke with him that day after, I think after. I don`t know if I spoke with him in the morning or not. I just don`t know. I`d have to go back -- I mean, I don`t -- I don`t know that -- when those conversations happen but what I know is I spoke with him all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, I`m convinced. Are you? Now, that`s probably not the only reason Jordan will not comply with the committee. We now know that Congressman Jordan was also forwarding along messages to then-Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and his former House buddy on how to overthrow the election in the days before the insurrection.
So, it seems just from what we`ve gotten a glimpse of it, there`s quite a bit there. It`s also worth mentioning that there are simply no political incentives for Jordan to comply. In the year following January 6, Donald Trump has managed to successfully cajole the party back to his side on the question of whether it`s OK to do a coup or not.
And any mentioned at the insurrection is anything other than a normal tourist visit or any refutation of Donald Trump`s big lie of election fraud are met with swift condemnation from the former president and his base and right-wing media.
It`s why the committee likely will not see any meaningful cooperation from most Trump allies, even as it becomes increasingly clear that Jim Jordan, as well as Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania whose testimony was also requested by the committee, are not definitely the only two sitting members who could be "material witnesses to the investigation."
The January 6 committee is now also weighing whether or not to seek testimony from Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama. Now, Brooks we know was involved because he was one of the most vocal proponents of Trump`s big lie of the stolen election and is now the subject of a lawsuit from fellow Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell, which alleges that Brooks incited the insurrection at that January 6 Rally of the Ellipse when he made these comments whipping up the crowd while wearing body armor.
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REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): We are not going to let them continue to corrupt our elections, and steal from us our God-given right to control our nation`s destiny. Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.
Now, our ancestors sacrifice their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes, and sometimes their lives to reverse their descendants in America that is the greatest nation in world history. So, I have a question for you. Are you willing to do that same?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
I mean, pretty straightforward, right? They sacrifice their blood and their lives for the cause of our liberty. Are you willing to do the same? Let`s march to the Capitol. In addition to Brooks, it appears as though the committee has found itself with a fresh list of potential targets with former Trump administration official turned never-Trumper Stephanie Grisham providing the panel with a list of potential witnesses it had not previously considered. That`s according to committee member Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland.
And the committee is expected to request testimony from former Vice President Mike Pence in the next few weeks. It`s unclear if Pence would agree to cooperate with that committee. We`re going to talk about that in a moment. But it does seem very unlikely that Brooks or other close Trump allies will cooperate.
The simple truth that Joe Biden whooped Donald Trump in a free and fair election that wasn`t, in the words of Mitch McConnell, particularly close, that simple fact that`s just a statement of the world has been rendered and unutterable heresy by Trump. The former president will not accept even the most basic acknowledgment that he lost the election or that he attempted a coup or that the deadly insurrection was the logical conclusion of his own lies about the election. You can`t say any of that.
Case in point yesterday, Senator Mike Rounds, conservative Republican from South Dakota, not a squish, not a RINO, made this just obviously true factual statement on television.
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SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): As a part of our due diligence, we looked at over 60 Different accusations made in multiple states. While there were some irregularities, there were none of the irregularities which would have risen to the point where they would have changed the vote outcome in a single state.
The election was fair, as fair as we`ve seen. We simply did not win the election as Republicans for the presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, it should come as zero surprise, Donald Trump did not react well to that and we knew it was coming. In one of his non-tweet statements, he has to email a journalist since he`s been banned from Twitter. Trump came off as you know, unhinged. I`ll quote for you.
"Senator -- in quotation marks -- Mike Rounds of the great state of South Dakota just went woke on the fraudulent presidential election of 2020." Boy, if there`s someone who conjures the image of woke, it`s Mike Rounds. Going on to ask, "Is he crazy or just stupid?" Declaring, "He is a weak and ineffective leader. I hereby firmly pledge that he will never receive my capital endorsement again."
Now, Senator Rounds doesn`t really need his endorsement, at least in the near future. He`s not up for reelection for another four years. It seems unlikely he will lose his seat over the controversy. In fact, we should say, Rounds, to his credit, refused to back down. He wrote in a statement today, "I`m disappointed but not surprised by the former President`s reaction. However, the facts remain the same. I stand by my statement. The former president lost the 2020 election."
It`s amazing how controversial he has rendered that statement, the former president lost the 2020 election. It remains true that for most Republicans, you can`t say that. It is simply easier to remain silent than potentially, you know, upset Trump.
Only Senator Mitt Romney of -- Mitt Romney of Utah, frequent Republican critic of Trump, voted for the impeachment, came to Rounds defense. He tweeted a list of other Republicans who have previously said the simples plain fact that Joe Biden won the election. Something Republicans in question probably wish Romney hadn`t done, right, because again, that is a heresy. You`re not allowed to say it. They might incur an unendorsement of their own from the former president.
Again this is just how Republican politics works now. You have to openly embrace celebrate Donald Trump`s alternate reality like Congressman Jim Jordan does because again, even the most basic acknowledgment, he lost, he lost, that truth will put a political target on your back.
You know, for a moment, a year ago, it seemed like it might not be -- it might not be like this. In fact, one year ago today, in the aftermath of the insurrection, Trump ally, Fox News hosts Sean Hannity who may himself be called to testify, we`ll see, sent this text messages to Jim Jordan and Trump`s then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, having a little group chat powwow.
"Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in nine days. He can`t mention the election again. He can`t mention the election again ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I`m not sure what there is left to say."
For a second there, it seemed like Hannity and Jordan and Meadows, maybe, Republican Party, understood that you can`t just continue to lie about election that was -- you lost. It looks pathetic and weak and deranged. And lying about it was not a coherent political strategy for the future.
But then, all those people pay no apparent political cost for continuing to lie, including Donald Trump. Donald Trump mentions the election every day. He was right on that, Hannity was wrong. And Trump has only become further entrenched in his state of belief that he wanted. His allies in Congress and in the right-wing media, like Hannity, help perpetrate that lie because they all seem to think that telling the truth is just not worth making Trump mad.
Congressman Adam Schiff is a Democrat representing California`s 28th Congressional District. He sits in the bipartisan committee investigating January 6, and he joins me now. Are you surprised by Jim Jordan`s statement that he will not voluntarily cooperate and provide testimony to the committee?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I have to say, I`m not that surprised but, you know, he said he had nothing to hide, and then he decided, well, I guess -- I guess I have a lot to hide. It`s unfortunate but it is who he is. And we will do our best to figure out how do we respond to members of Congress who refuse to comply voluntarily whether that is compulsion or whether that is trying to find the evidence using other means.
But look, he acknowledged talking to Trump on the day of the attack on the Capitol. And in terms of that conversation, there are only two people, unless there were others in the room during that conversation who can really speak to what went on. So, we obviously would like him to come in.
But his decision not to -- not all that`s surprising, because I assume that he reached the conclusion if he came and told the truth, it would put him at odds with the foreign president. And he just doesn`t have the courage to do that.
HAYES: I want you to respond to the accusation that`s leveled by Jordan and others that, that this is a violation of legislative norms by asking for voluntary cooperation from fellow members of Congress in the course of an inquiry, that that`s, you know, reckless and beyond the pale and you`ve crossed some threshold that you`re going to regret crossing.
SCHIFF: Well, you know, the most recent precedent was in the Russia investigation and during the time, as I recall, when Nunes was the chairman, so Republican chairman, I think that`s right, we had we extended invitations to two members of Congress, one Republican, one Democrat, and they both came in and gave voluntary testimony.
And whether it was during Nunes or when I became chair, either way, there was no objection by members of Congress to it and no objection by the members that were asked. They came in. They did what they should do.
But here, you know, it certainly appears from these two -- both Perry and Jordan that nothing matters quite so much as staying in the good graces of Donald Trump. And you know, Chris, I have to say watching those clips and reading Senator Round`s statements and see him refer to the facts of the election and refer to them not in a gaslighting way, you find yourself, you know, just pleased and admiring that someone would speak the plain truth.
The bar has become that low. Speaking the facts about a presidential election, apparently, you know, makes you a hero now in the GOP. But that`s where we are. That`s where we are in Trump`s Republican Party. And it`s why it`s hard to get these members to come and testify.
HAYES: Well, here`s -- I think here`s a great example. Julie Tsirkin reporting on John Thune`s reaction. Thune has occasionally come under criticism from Trump for stating the plain fact. And this is just sort of an example of a kind weaselly cowardice here. Well, I say to my colleague, welcome to the club, he joked. I don`t think that re-litigating and rehashing the past is a winning strategy. I mean, I think if we want to be a majority in January 2023.
This is the most that Thune or anyone will muster, which is a kind of like, instrumental tactical argument for why indulging this truly dangerous lie that resulted in a deadly insurrection is maybe not the best thing to do politically. But that`s about as far as anyone will go other than Romney.
SCHIFF: You know, sadly, I think that`s right. And even more sad, to my point of view is the point you were making earlier, which is, it looked like it was going to be difference a year ago in the aftermath of that terrible, tragic day, it looked like the Republican Party was going to finally recognize the disastrous ends to which Donald Trump had brought the country.
And they weren`t going to go along with this big lie, and they didn`t expect anybody else to go along with that big lie. Not even Sean Hannity expected the party to adhere to that big lie. But a year later, they`re more wedded to it than ever. And they`re using it, of course, around the country to usher in these laws attacking the democratic infrastructure of the country.
And in that sense, you know, it`s such a terrible but factual statement that our democracy is on a weaker ground now than it was a year ago.
HAYES: Let me ask you about Vice President Mike Pence. There`s been a lot of reporting about it. There`s a New York Times story today. I`ll read you the headline. Pence and January 6 Committee engage in high-stakes dance over testimony. And I`ll read you a portion of this.
Mr. Pence, they said -- these are sources around I guess the ex-Vice President -- has grown annoyed the committee is publicly signaling it has secured a greater degree of cooperation from his top aides than it actually has, something he sees as part of a pattern of Democrats trying to turn his team against Mr. Trump. Is that what you`re engaged in?
SCHIFF: No. We just like him to come in and share with us what he knows. And I hope that he will. You know, I`m sure that he is weighing that same calculus that Jim Jordan and others have weighed, but I would hope that he would show greater patriotism than we see from someone like Jim Jordan.
He knows what`s right for the country. He knows what happened at the election. He knows the pressure campaign he was under. And he knows he could do a service to the country by talking about it. But he also knows that there`s a political cost that will come with that.
I hope he makes the right decision. That`s all we can -- we can hope for. But in terms of, you know, how much cooperation or non-cooperation we`re getting from people around him, you know, I`m not going to comment on that. All I can say is that the Vice President has very material testimony, and we hope he`ll do the right thing.
HAYES: You know, Congressman, when I was about 14-15 years old, as a five foot five-inch backup, JV point guard, I had a moment when I realized I was not going to be an NBA player. And it was actually liberating for what I was able to do with the rest of my life after that. And I think Mike Pence could have that moment with the presidency of the United States might be good for everyone.
Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you very much for your time.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Next, the D.C. Attorney General suing the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers using a law originally written to take down the KKK by a Civil War- era law which is recently used in Charlottesville to put these groups out of business after this.
HAYES: So, back on December 29 of 2020, just one week before the insurrection, there was a kind of almost sort of dress rehearsal. And Enrique Tarrio who`s the head of the far-right Proud Boys group seen here in the group`s blacking yellow colors, made a bold pronouncement on social media saying the Proud Boys will quote turnout in record numbers on January 6, but this time, but time with a twist. We will not be wearing our traditional black and yellow. We will be incognito. We will be spread across downtown D.C. in smaller teams."
That actually comes from indictment for other Proud Boys who are charged with a series of federal offenses for their actions in the Capitol, criminal federal offenses. Now, by all accounts, a lot of the Proud Boys listened and they showed up in the Capitol that day.
Here is Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola using a police shield to smash in one of the very first windows of the Capitol be broken. They were kind of a vanguard here really at the beginning of the group. And here he is a few minutes later after officer Eugene Goodman famously led his group away from those unprotected Senate members in the Senate chamber.
The Proud Boys are not alone. The far-right militia group known as the Oath Keepers also came prepared on January 6. You may have seen this footage. We`ve played it before. You can see they came fully dressed in combat gear. They`re there in a stack leading up into the Capitol. And more than a dozen Oath Keepers have been federally charged, again, criminally in connection with their actions on that day.
Well, now, the city of Washington D.C. is going after these far-right groups as well in civil lawsuits. Last month, the city`s Attorney General Karl Racine announced he was suing both groups using a law written to take down the Klu Klux Klan. And D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine joins me now.
Can you explain to us the theory --- the legal theory behind this lawsuit that you have filed against these groups?
KARL RACINE, ATTORNEY GENERAL, WASHINGTON D.C.: Sure, Chris. And thank you very much for having me. It`s like two point guards getting together after a long time. Here`s the theory of the case. The Klu Klux Klan act, Chris, as you know, was passed in 1870, signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant.
It was passed into law for a specific reason. That is that after slavery, democracy actually took hold in the former Southern states. And so, you had Black Democratic cities and other towns where the representatives were voted in by the people. And sure enough, what happened? Violent insurrections, murder, looting, and violence.
That act, the Klu Klux Klan Act, was intended to stop the principle group that was violating democracy, causing insurrections. That`s the Klu Klux Klan. And that`s the act that was utilized in the Charlottesville case. That`s the act that we`re pursuing in D.C. And, Chris, we`re going to win our case, because the facts don`t lie, the camera doesn`t blink, and the court is going to do what it`s empowered to do, hear the facts and apply the law.
HAYES: So, let`s talk about -- you mentioned Charlottesville. And I think, you know, the Klan act is a piece of legislation that I had in reading about reconstruction, which I`ve done quite a bit in pretty -- I`ve spent a lot of time thinking about. I knew the law from then. But it hadn`t been kind of, you know, not dormant or it was rare to see it utilized in this means.
Charlottesville was a big deal. They filed a lawsuit under the provisions of this law and won a judgment. I wonder what lessons your team took from that trial?
RACINE: Sure. And in fact, the Charlottesville litigators did an extraordinary job and I commend them. In fact, you know, they brought other claims. And to be clear, the Klu Klux Klan Act claim itself did not go to verdict. There was not a unanimous verdict.
In D.C., that`s what we`re going to accomplish, which is a unanimous verdict. The lessons from Charlottesville and the lessons from suing insurrectionist and hate groups is that money matters to them. When you come after their money, their assets, their buildings, guess what, they run, they scatter, they hide, they complain.
Don`t take it from me. This is what they say about being sued. One defendant in the Charlottesville case said this lawsuit is "financially crippling," totally detrimental to what I`m doing. I don`t want to go into some public event where I can be blamed if something goes wrong. We can`t do anything publicly.
Another defendant said, but because of pending lawsuits, we`re not going to be moving forward officially with any fundraising at this time. Look here, the money matters. This was not a pro bono event on January 6. It was well- organized, well-planned, and well-financed. We`re going to go find the money and make the corporate pay.
HAYES: Your lawsuit is one of the -- there are a number of lawsuits in a bunch of different directions. Obviously, there`s a lot -- that`s not surprising when you have something as disastrous as what happened on that day to see a variety of civil actions against a variety of players. One of those lawsuits is against the president, former President Donald Trump, for conspiring with the same -- co-conspiring with the same groups that you are suing.
And there was arguments today in federal court about the dismissal of that case in which the former president`s lawyers urged the judge to dismiss lawsuits, accusing him of conspiring with, again, these two far right extremist groups and others to block the presidential vote count.
I imagine you`re monitoring all of these as you think about the case that you`re pursuing going forward.
RACINE: We`re working with the Anti-Defamation League, we`re working with States United, have two great law firms, Dechert and Paul Weiss. We`re watching everything. And people might ask why aren`t you suing the former president? Here`s the deal. We`re suing in this phase of our litigation. The individuals and entities that organized, planned, and participated in the insurrection. We`re also looking at all the evidence being developed by the excellent job that the January 6 Subcommittee is doing, and frankly, by the very good job that the Department of Justice is doing in bringing cases.
Hey, Chris, on December 22 of last year, just two and a half weeks ago, a gentleman named Matthew Greene, a leader of the Proud Boys pled guilty to conspiring to plan, organize, and to participating in the insurrection. That is every essential element of our case. Again, we`re going to win this suit, and our investigation continues.
HAYES: All right, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, thank you very much.
RACINE: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Still ahead, the COVID-denying, vaccine-fear-mongering, January 6- defending senator from Wisconsin announces he`s running for reelection. But that could be -- why that could be great news for Democrats after this.
HAYES: This weekend, after much speculation, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin announced he is running for a third term. He announces to the people of Wisconsin via, of course, an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal. In it, Johnson admits he`s breaking his promise that his reelection campaign in 2016 would be his last. The reason, he did not anticipate Democrats "taking over the government or their disastrous policies."
He also notes there will be a massive effort to try to, "destroy and defeat him." And on the latter point, Senator Johnson is definitely right. With this announcement, he has rocketed to the top of Democrats` list of Senate targets this year because Ron Johnson is essentially in a category of his own.
I mean, his positions are so odious, he`s so troller, so far right and pro- MAGA, but he comes from a state that doesn`t line up with all that. I mean, he`s not from a plus-30 Trump`s state. Wisconsin has voted for the Democratic candidate for president eight of the past nine elections.
In 2012, Wisconsin voters elected progressive Democrat Tammy Baldwin as their second senator. She serves the people of Wisconsin as well. Then, of course, the state narrowly flipped red for Donald Trump in 2016, which helped Ron Johnson, I think, the same year that he won reelection.
But there`s a real gap between Ron Johnson`s politics and the way he performs those politics and a huge part of the state, which is part of the reason I think you could argue he is one of the worst Republican senators.
I mean, Senator Johnson`s reaction to the 2020 election has been particularly bad. He amplified and promoted claims the election was fraudulent. He even held a hearing on so-called irregularities last December, three weeks before the insurrection. What do you think that was doing to people to hear those things?
He was one of the people whipping up the frenzy ahead of January 6, announcing or leaking that he planned to object to the certification of electoral votes. Now, he changed his mind at the last second after the violent insurrection at the Capitol. But honestly, I think Ron Johnson has been the single worst Republican on COVID.
Right from the get go, when he downplayed the risks of this new disease, he told them a Milwaukie Journal Sentinel, "We don`t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on highways. Johnson has since gone on to tout all sorts of unproven treatments. He`s Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine, most recently, mouthwash.
He held hearings on those as well. He has been pushing an increasingly explicitly anti-vaccine message which puts them almost in his own category. I got to say. He even falsely linking vaccines to deaths.
And then last week, Ron Johnson tried out a new argument against getting vaccinated. It`s an interesting one. Listen to this. On a local Wisconsin radio show, he questioned why scientists think they know better than God.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: Why do we think that we can create something better than God in terms of -- in terms of combating disease? Now, there are certain things we have to do. But we`ve just made so many assumptions and it`s all pointed toward everybody getting a vaccine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I mean, wow. I mean, there`s a lot of people who believe in God and believe that God helped create the antibodies and, you know, the amazing, beautiful human mind that created the vaccines. But the question now is, does this all matter politically or are the structural factors in midterms and the loyalty of the diehard MAGA base enough?
Ruth Conniff is the editor in chief of the Wisconsin Examiner where she recently wrote a commentary piece about how Wisconsin became ground zero for the big lie, and she joins me now.
Ruth, I wonder what you -- if you feel the same way about Johnson, who to me -- you know, I think about on the Democratic side, there`s like Sherrod Brown or John Tester, two good examples of these are pretty progressive senators, particularly Brown in, you know, contested states.
They are -- they`re sort of better -- they have better politics than then you might anticipate given how close those states are. And Johnson is like the inverse of that. Like he has far worse politics than you would anticipate based on how close the state Wisconsin is.
RUTH CONNIFF, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE WISCONSIN EXAMINER: Yes. And as a result, he`s giving a lot of Republicans a heart attack. I mean, not only are Democrats excited to run against Johnson, Republicans will say privately that they really, really hoped he would not run. They had some other people who were a little more normal that they had in mind, including Mike Gallagher, Congressman from Green Bay, who was very personable, presents well, seems kind of moderate.
The problem for Johnson is he -- the softening of support for Trump in the suburbs in Wisconsin which helped defeat Trump here in 2020, those are the people that Johnson needed, and yet Johnson is doubling down on all the positions that the suburban women who turned against Trump really don`t like.
All the anti-vaccine stuff, the real extremism. You know, he doesn`t seem terribly concerned about hanging on to the people who helped elect him. And that`s why The Cook Political Report moved him as an incumbent senator, the only one into the tossup category. That`s unprecedented.
HAYES: Yes, that`s -- it`s such a good point. I mean, the most recent polling on favorable and unfavorable in the state from Marquette, which has a very good polling operation back in October, had him underwater. And I think the thing that`s really striking to me is the messaging on the vaccine, because a lot of other Republicans have been very careful to try to create this conceptual boundary between you should get the vaccine, the vaccine is good, but we don`t want vaccine mandates.
Johnson really has, it feels to me, been a category of his own on pretty like, explicitly anti-vaccine messaging.
CONNIFF: 1I mean, I think the word messaging gives him a little too much credit. I don`t know where he gets the ideas that he gets. But you know, having a press conference with some people who had rare medical conditions and suffered some harm as a result of vaccination, to put out the word that it was extremely dangerous for people to get vaccinated is just -- it`s bonkers.
And he, as you pointed out, had held hearing on these discredited alternative remedies. And in his Wall Street Journal op-ed today, or yesterday, says that one of the reasons he`s running is because he`s so concerned about mishandling of the pandemic. I guess, because he thinks that people need to run around unvaccinated and infect each other.
It`s just -- it`s really over the top. And sometimes it makes so little sense, it makes people in Wisconsin really cringe.
HAYES: So -- but he`s part of a broader trend that I`ve noticed. And this is true -- it`s true Michigan as well. It`s somewhat true, I think, in Pennsylvania. But Wisconsin, Michigan, particularly, where you`ve got these states that are very closely divided, they`re very hotly contested. They really are like paramedics clinging states. And yet the Republicans that rise to prominence in those states tend to be like, really out there.
Like, the Wisconsin Republican Party is really -- it`s not like Johnson that much of an outlier when you look at the state reps, the state legislature, and the leadership of that party which really does seem far to the right of the median voter of your state.
CONNIFF: Well, I do you believe that Wisconsin is ground zero for the big lie. And in terms of voter suppression, in terms of sending these phony electoral votes that helps give rise to the January 6 insurrection, claiming that there was a reasonable reason for Republicans to say they were electors and cast electoral votes which they had no legal reason to do for Trump, that is all true.
However, I will say this, Ron Johnson has said that our Republican legislature -- Republican-dominated legislature should be able to overturn the results of elections, that was a bridge far even for the Republican leaders of our state legislature who went on the record denouncing it and saying, no, no, we don`t actually plan to personally overturn his election results.
So, he -- you know, even for the right-wing take over Wisconsin, Johnson is really extra.
HAYES: All right, well, there`s going to be a primary on the Democratic side. There`s a few good candidates. We`ll be following this race closely. We`ll have you back to talk about it. Ruth Conniff, thank you so much.
CONNIFF: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: Coming up, the public health emergency lurking underneath Omicron Why one ER doctor is sounding the alarm, just ahead.
HAYES: One of the more harrowing images from Afghanistan this summer as the U.S. pulled out finally ending two-decade long war and the Taliban close in on Kabul, a two-month-old baby held up by his desperate father outside the Kabul airport, trying to save him from the surgeon crowd, a soldier grabbing the child, hoisting them over the barbed wire and into the airport port.
In the chaos, that baby was lost in the airport. His parents and the rest of his family were evacuated to the United States. The baby stayed missing for months until he was found with a local taxi driver who says he discovered the infant alone and crying at the airport. This weekend, the baby was returned to his grandparents in Kabul. The State Department says it will work to bring him to the United States to reunite him with his parents who are now in Michigan.
If you felt like I think many people did, like I certainly did, this awful feeling of helplessness and impotence as we watched those scenes outside the airport five months ago in Afghanistan, I have to tell you that even though the cameras are not there anymore, there`s something even worse happening now. And there is something we in the U.S. can do about it.
As Afghanistan settles into winter, aid groups estimate nearly 23 million Afghans, more than half the population, "already do not have enough to eat, with many lacking even solid shelter, and they are being forced to choose between heat and food."
Now there is little help available from the Taliban government. And part of the reason for that is about 75 percent of the former government`s budget was funded by foreign aid which was essentially stopped when the Taliban took power.
But there are things our government and President Biden could do right now to get money flowing into the country to hopefully help millions of Afghans. For example, the U.S. government could release the $9.4 billion of Afghan government assets that were frozen last year. They could also ease the sanctions against the Taliban.
They can encourage the international community to restart aid. Because right now, withholding aid from the Afghan government which as odious as it is, there`s no question about that, produces zero positive geopolitical effect. Instead, it is brutal in terms of human cost.
Millions of Afghans are in imminent danger of starvation. There is something that we can do to help. The Biden administration can change its current cruel, indefensible and horrific posture tomorrow if they want to. Release the money and get aid flowing. Americans need to make their voices heard in the same way they demanded evacuations for our allies during the war when all the media was covering it and all the guys of the world were focused on it.
It is an indefensible moral scandal to consign tens of millions of people to freeze and starve to death this winter. Mr. President, you cannot let this happen.
HAYES: Right now, the Omicron Coronavirus variant is spreading through the U.S. with unprecedented speed. We`ve never seen anything this contagious in the span of this pandemic. Today, there are over a million new cases counted. The unofficial total is likely even higher than that, way higher, probably.
More worrisome than cases is that a major cities like New York, D.C., and Chicago, hospitalization rates are now exceeding what they were last winter when the vaccine was not widely available. Nearly 67 percent of the eligible U.S. population is fully vaccinated. But when you have a highly contagious variant and millions of unvaccinated people, that means a lot of people are going to end up hospitalized.
As emergency room Dr. Craig Spencer writes in New York Times, "This influx of Coronavirus positive patients is also creating another source of infection for healthcare workers who are being sidelined in numbers I`ve never seen before. The domino effect will affect all levels of the healthcare system from short-staffed nursing homes to ambulances taking longer to respond to 911 calls."
Dr. Craig Spencer is an emergency room physician, Director of the Global Health in Emergency Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, and Dr. Megan Ranney is also an Emergency Room Physician and the Academic Dean for the Brown University School of Public Health. And they both join me now. It`s great to have you both.
First, let`s just start -- Dr. Spencer, I`ll start with you. And Doctor, I`ll go to you just because you are practitioners, what emergency rooms look like right now amidst this Omicron surge.
DR. CRAIG SPENCER, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: Well, I do think it`s important to stress the fact that this is not March 2020, right? We have treatments and tools and experience to lower the mortality for COVID patients regardless of the variant. That is great news for doctors like myself and Dr. Ranney and nurses and everyone else that was on the frontlines throughout this pandemic.
But the problem is that we`re seeing this cascading effect of so many patients, providers that have left, providers that are getting infected, that right now we just don`t have enough providers or beds to take care of the patients that are streaming into our EDS, not just from COVID but from non-COVID illness as well.
HAYES: Yes, Dr. Ranney, is that -- I`ve read about, you know, that you`ve got staffing shortages in health care which should -- we see shortages in a lot of places, particularly acute and health care, that that was true even in the fall before Omicron, and talking to the doctors that I know and interact with. And now you -- that`s being exacerbated by doctors catching Omicron and having to -- and having to quarantine and stretching staffing levels very, very thin.
DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: That`s exactly right. Even though the number of COVID patients in our hospital in ICU are about the same as they were a year ago. Overall, our hospitals are much more crowded, both because we`re taking care of all of the other problems that exist out there in the world. And all the folks who put off care for the last two years, and we have fewer staff.
Health care has been affected by the great resignation as much as anyone else and perhaps more so because the effect of this COVID wave is not just this COVID wave. It is the multiplicative effect of COVID wave after COVID wave after COVID wave with no change in the underlying systemic conditions that are burning out our healthcare workers, causing moral injury and hurting hospitals and systems across the country.
I really can`t describe, Chris, how tough it is in emergency departments right now, particularly across the Northeast, but also other places that have COVID surges. We have wait times that are through the roof. We have patients with serious medical and traumatic injuries that are waiting hours and hours and hours in the waiting room not because we don`t want to care for them, but simply because there`s no space in the end.
And the worst part of it is that we feel like we`re on our own. We have been sounding the alarm, not just for months, but for two years now. And we`re still waiting for those systemic fixes to be put in place.
HAYES: Well, I want to talk about those. So, just to -- just to your point about the greater resignation as is often called, we have record numbers of people leaving their jobs, the vast majority going to get other jobs. So, it`s not like people are just quitting.
But we`ve seen that in healthcare as well. There`s polling that say that 18 percent of healthcare workers say they`ve quit a job in 2020 -- since 2020, February 2020, which is a pretty remarkable number. 69 percent have said they`ve considered leaving their job.
So, I want to talk about the math of Omicron and what it`s doing to hospitals and then the fixes. So, let me first go to the math, Dr. Spencer. You know, let`s say you have a generic variant of the Coronavirus. And I remember having trying to get my head around the math of this back when it first came, which is even if it`s individually not that risky to a given individual, healthy 35-year-old, right, if it`s really transmissible, you`re going to get in the aggregate a large number.
And we`re seeing this with Omicron. It`s like just to do back the envelope, it`s like it could be at a 10th. 1/10 is dangerous to folks, particularly with the immunity wall of vaccines and previous infections. If it`s 10 times as transmissible, you literally are going to have the same aggregate amount of people coming into your hospital system, even though individuals are looking at it and saying, well, I`m -- it`s 90 percent, less of a risk for me.
And it`s hard to deal with that, I think, in this sort of social cultural- political context, and then when you look at what`s happening in your hospitals.
SPENCER: Absolutely. What we know is the data suggests that Omicron is about half as severe in terms of creating hospitalizations and those bad outcomes as Delta. It`s milder but not mild, especially because it looks like it can transmit at to four or maybe six times the rate of previous variants. Meaning, that may wash away any potential benefit of it being milder.
The point is that it`s happening -- it`s all happening now at once so quickly in places that are already overburdened that we just don`t have the wiggle room, and people, and providers, and space. And that is what the big concern is, such a condensed timeframe. Even if milder, it`s not mild. Get vaccinated. That is the one thing that can change the calculus for an individual and for all of us.
HAYES: Yes. So, the vaccination and boosting is key, is key, is key. But Dr. Ranney, like, when you talk about systemic fixes, it`s like, first, there`s the short term of what are interventions that can be done to stop hospital systems from being overwhelmed. And then broader, what do you mean by systemic fix?
I`m sorry, Dr. Ranney, are you there? Oh, I think -- I think you froze, so I`ll go back to you, Dr. Spencer.
HAYES: What can be done in the short term and what are systemic fixes look like?
SPENCER: Look, Omicron precipitated a crisis just like COVID initially precipitated a crisis, but healthcare in this country was in crisis beforehand. We had too few providers, we had too few primary care physicians. You know, people that were already vulnerable and made vulnerable by this pandemic had been so before COVID even hit the shores.
We need to focus more on building up that primary care and increasing access. This is an issue for things like Paxlovid, the oral antivirals we`ve been talking about. There are systemic fixes that involve putting patients first and not necessarily pharmaceutical companies, or profits, or really the will of the hospital. This is where we need to put the patients first.
If we had done so from before the pandemic and even from when the pandemic started, or even when Omicron was first, you know, notified. And we sent people can 90 fives and we did more to get people on board as opposed to putting in place, you know, purposeless travel bans, we would have been a lot farther ahead in the game. We would have been a lot better prepared for this pandemic. Unfortunately, we may leave this one not that much better prepared for the next one.
HAYES: Yes. I mean, one thing that I`ve thinking about is like, apparently, we need more supply of good quality and affordable, free, ideally, health care for people. And that`s something that`s really come out of this. And that`s something people need to be working towards in the future.
Dr. Craig Spencer, Dr. Megan Ranney, thank you very much. I think we lost your connection. That is ALL IN on this Monday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.