The January 6 Select Committee asks House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to cooperate with the probe. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) talks about the Democrats` fight for voting rights in the country. The U.S. announced $308 million in new humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan and a million new COVID vaccine doses provided through COVAX. Dr. Bob Wachter from the University of California, San Francisco Department of Medicine`s study shows that more than one in every 10 people who live in San Francisco might have COVID and have no idea, which indicates millions of people are building up additional immunity without suffering the ill effects of the disease at least right now.>
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: OK, Doc, thank you very much. I appreciate you. Dr. Vin Gupta, thank you very much. That is tonight`s "REIDOUT." ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to testify about your conversation with Donald Trump on January 6 if you were asked by an outside commission?
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Sure. Next question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would?
HAYES: Kevin McCarthy gets his time in the barrel.
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: I`m asking you specifically, did he say to you, I guess some people are more concerned about the election than you are?
MCCARTHY: No, listen, my conversations with the President are my conversation with the President.
HAYES: Tonight, the extraordinary letter from the January 6 Committee to Kevin McCarthy. Why they`re investigating his conversations with Trump before, during, and after the insurrection and why it has serious implications for the top House Republican.
Plus, Senator Elizabeth Warren on the new strategy for Democrats to pass voting rights.
And what looks like seriously encouraging data on the Omicron surge when ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. The committee investigating the January 6 insurrection is asking that the top Republican in the House, Kevin McCarthy, come and give them testimony before them.
This is the man poised to become Speaker of the House should Republicans take back control in the Midterm elections later this year, which is certainly a strong possibility. But before that happens, they want to hear about what McCarthy knows about the insurrection.
In a letter to McCarthy released this afternoon, the committee writes that they "Request his voluntary cooperation on a range of critical topics, including your conversations with President Trump before, during, and after the violent January 6 attack."
And in many ways, Kevin McCarthy has been at the center of Donald Trump`s coup plot, working behind the scenes to carry out his wishes. Although at first, we should note, McCarthy reacted the way that the overwhelming majority of normal people would, expressing shock and dismay at what had happened.
As the committee notes, McCarthy even spoke to CBS News while the attack was still going on, about how he begged Trump to address the nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said you spoke with the President. What did the President say he would do?
MCCARTHY: I don`t know. He had put a tweet out there. I told him you need to talk to the nation. I told him what was happening right then. I was very clear with the President when I called him. This has to stop and he has to -- he`s got to go to the American public and tell them to stop this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leader McCarthy, the President knighted states has a briefing room steps from the Oval Office. It is -- the cameras are hot 24/7 as you know. Why hasn`t he walked down and said that now?
MCCARTHY: I conveyed to the President what I think is best to do. And I`m hopeful the President will do it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you`ve spoken with his chief of staff?
MCCARTHY: I`ve spoken to the President. I`ve spoken to other people in there -- into the White House as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So, McCarthy, like everyone else, right, is desperately trying to get the president to call off the mob that he has sent to the Capitol that has now breached it and is threatening the lives by chanting hang Mike Pence of the people inside including Kevin McCarthy, right?
And at first, McCarthy stood by that. He delivered remarks on the House floor condemning the violence. And then a week later, as the committee also points out, he stood up and placed blame squarely on the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday`s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump, accept to share responsibility, quell the brewing unrest, and ensure President-elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Oh, yes, yes, yes, he`ll do that accept his share of the responsibility. But of course, much more was going on behind the scenes. Later on, we found out McCarthy had a talk with Trump on January 6 that got quite heated. He told his Republican colleague Jaime Herrera Butler about it at the time, and she released a statement the committee cites here.
The President initially repeated the falsehood that it was Antifa that has breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted and told the president they weren`t Trump supporters. That`s when according to McCarthy, the president said, well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.
Committee also quotes Politico`s reporting that Trump and McCarthy got into a screaming match after McCarthy demanded that Trump released a statement denouncing the mob. Trump finally relented and said he would send a tweet. That wasn`t good enough for McCarthy who wanted more. In fact, that fact pattern matches almost exactly the interview we just heard him give during the insurrection to CBS.
Politico later reported, as the letter notes, that McCarthy shared an even greater degree of detail with his colleagues in a widely attended conference call on January 11th. On that call, he stated that President Trump had admitted some degree of responsibility for January 6 in his one on one conversations with him.
Oh, that`s interesting. So, the committee wants to know about all these conversations naturally. They are also invested -- interested in conversations McCarthy had when it came time to finally seat the electors that night. Again, the committee highlights this point in their letter. "You agreed to support continued objections to electoral votes from multiple states late in the evening of January 6, and then just the morning of January 7. The Select Committee wishes to question you regarding communications you may have had with President Trump, President Trump`s legal team, Representative Jim Jordan, and others at the time on that topic."
We should note -- and this really remains a startling fact. It was a startling fact that night and even more startling now. That after all that violence, McCarthy not only allowed those objections on the floor, he voted for the coup like the majority of House Republicans.
The Committee also wants to know more about Kevin McCarthy`s conversations with Donald Trump and others after the insurrection. They specifically pointed to a conversation on or about January 11th when he pushed the president to accept defeat.
McCarthy`s local news outlet wrote about that call. "McCarthy said he implored President Donald Trump during an intense hour-long phone conversation Monday morning to accept his electoral defeat and move forward with a peaceful transition of power. The House Minority Leader pleaded with him telling him the election is over and he need to move on. Stop this, McCarthy recalled telling."
The Committee notes that it appears McCarthy may also have discussed with Trump the potential he would face a censure resolution, impeachment, or removal under the 25th Amendment. It also appears that you may have identified other possible options including President Trump`s immediate resignation from office.
But things of course very quickly turned around between McCarthy and Trump. On January 28, McCarthy visited Mar-a-Lago to debase himself and to kiss the ring of the exiled ex-president who had sent a mob on McCarthy`s place of work, and who hadn`t even given him the courtesy of calling them off when McCarthy desperately phoned him from inside the besieged building.
The committee writes that they want to "Discuss any communications McCarthy had with President Trump at the time regarding his account of what actually happened on January 6, during that McCarthy`s public statements regarding January 6 changed markedly since their meeting."
The committee again is not wrong. This is all public record. McCarthy`s tone certainly sounded different. In this statement posted on Facebook along this photo, "Great meeting with President Trump today. House Republicans in the Trump ministration achieved historic results for all Americans."
And then McCarthy essentially started to do Trump`s bidding. This summer, when the January 6 Committee was being formed, he appointed five Republicans, three of whom voted to overturn the election on January 6. Speaker Nancy Pelosi vetoed two of the picks including Jim Jordan of Ohio, who has since been asked to appear before the committee as a witness to some of the most important events and is refusing to cooperate.
McCarthy of course then pulled the remaining nominees. The Committee concluded their letter by pointing out that McCarthy has recently indicated that he might be open to cooperating and "wouldn`t hide from anything," which is good. And they asked McCarthy to appear before them in just a few weeks, proposing times in the first two weeks of February.
We`ve watched as one rioter after another sentenced over January 6 by the Justice Department without anyone at the top facing any accountability. We`re now looking at the prospect of the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives having to come before the committee to testify about what he knows.
Betsy Woodruff Swan has been covering the January 6 investigation for Politico, and she joins me now. Well, this seems like a very, very big deal for the Committee to do this. What is your reporting suggest about the background and context for it, and what we can anticipate McCarthy is going to do?
BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: It is. It`s a big step. It`s moving into new territory in terms of going after not just Republican members, but the person who is more likely than not, frankly, to be the next Speaker of the House.
Knowing everything that I know about Kevin McCarthy, having followed House Republicans, sometimes very closely, sometimes a bit more of a distance for many years now, I would be stunned if McCarthy voluntarily cooperates with this committee.
McCarthy has become as anti-January 6 investigation as any member of Congress could possibly be. And, interestingly enough, some of his opposition to the January 6 probes both proposed and actually materialized in retrospect looks like a possible big strategic error for Republicans.
Remember, before the select committee was set up, Speaker Pelosi proposed to McCarthy the idea of having a bipartisan commission. Pelosi proposed that that commission`s work would be done by New Year`s Eve of last year. The entire January 6 investigation could be totally completed.
Kevin McCarthy refused to take that offer. And instead, we have this Select Committee that`s getting dramatically more information than would have come out if he`d accepted the offer that Pelosi had made. That said, it would be consistent with his career and where he`s at on this for him to totally step on the committee and dare them to take even more aggressive steps.
HAYES: Yes. It`s a great -- a great point. In fact, he had deputized a member of Republican leadership, the ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee, to work out a deal with Bennie Thompson which they did work out for a bipartisan commission, which he then pulled the rug out from under. They pass it anyway in the House. McConnell filibustered in the Senate. It would have been like the 9/11 Commission, a 50-50 split. It would have been done, I think, under statute in a year. So, this has all sort of produced by those choices.
You know, the other -- the other question I have here, I mean, just going through that -- the facts there as laid out by the committee is, so much of this is already in the public record. I mean, his -- him being at the center of this is not in dispute at all. Him knowing things that the committee would want to know about is not in dispute. There`s no hiding here. So much of this transpired fully in public view.
SWAN: The committee`s leverage with McCarthy -- with McCarthy is quite limited. If they sued to try to get him to come in, it would be in court for more than a year. If they asked the Justice Department to prosecute him after if they potentially issued a subpoena, the likelihood that DOJ would charge him would be very much up in the air.
The only leverage -- the most easily accessible leverage that the committee has in this case, is saying to McCarthy, look, you`re going to be part of our report, you`re going to be part of history, you`ve already talked in great detail in varying terms about what exactly happened on January 5th, 6th, and 7th, so you might as well come in and get your version of events on the record so that you have a voice in the history-making document that we are working on.
I don`t think McCarthy is going to take them up on that offer. But that`s the author they`re making this letter which is notably not a shouty letter.
HAYES: Yes. And that`s the way reporters do it who don`t have any means of legally compelling people to talk to them, but often will use precisely that approach, which is like, well, I`ve already talked to all your enemies. So, you know, if you -- if you want to sort of tell your side of the story, like I`m all ears. We should -- we should talk.
You know, the other -- the other thing that strikes me here about this situation is whatever happens, the embarrassment factor here is a key part of all this. And you see it with Hannity, and with Ingraham, and with Kevin McCarthy. One of the themes that`s coming out, it seems to me, in the committee`s investigation is everyone during those three hours, everyone across the board, had hair on fire about how horrible it was, and how the President had to step in and stop it and he didn`t. And this is another example of yet another person who was in that boat.
SWAN: No one said this is a good idea and it`s going to work. There`s zero people who we are aware of who had Trump`s phone number, or Mark Meadows` phone number who were saying great strategy, give it a couple more hours, and then Biden will buy out. Nobody thought that.
My sense is that the text messages that the committee has been getting particularly, what they`ve gotten from Mark Meadows, they described getting reams of production from him, is really helping them get their foot in the door and crack open, get a much more detailed picture into the communications of the people who were closest to the White House, closest to the President. That`s meaningful information they`re getting and I think there`s a lot more to come.
HAYES: Betsy Woodruff Swan, great reporting as always. Thank you very much. I want to turn now to one of the members of the committee investigating January 6th, Democratic Congressman Pete Aguilar of California.
I imagine there was some considerable discussion about this request. Why do you think this is justified? And what do you say to people that view this as a provocation or escalation?
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Well, we lay out the case in the letter. And what Chairman Thompson indicates in the letter is that we know, just like you indicated, based on public reporting, that the minority leader had conversations with the former president as well as members of the former president`s team leading up to January 6. He was aware of their strategy to challenge the outcome of the free and fair election in addition to January 6 itself.
The number of conversations and text messages that were bandied about, those are all relevant to our investigation. What was the President doing during these 187 minutes that he didn`t call off the rioters who were coming into the Capitol? For Kevin McCarthy and for us on the House floor, what was he doing? What was his mindset?
Those are the questions that are worth answering, in addition to after January 6, from security questions that a Leader McCarthy asked to his conversations with the former president himself. Those are all within bounds and most of those are within the public domain that we`ve indicated but we feel that this is important for the sole purpose that no member of Congress is above the law.
If we`re all committed to democracy, if we`re all committed to the constitutional oath that we took, then members should be coming forward. And McCarthy said himself, sure, he`d come forward. So, we`ll see.
HAYES: Yes. Let me just play that. We played it in the opening and we`ll play it again. Now, this was when what looked like what would happen would be a commission would be in panel that might request his testimony, was asked this question. Take a listen real quick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to testify about your conversation with Donald Trump on January 6 if you were asked by an outside commission?
MCCARTHY: Sure. Next question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Sure, next question. There`s already some precedent here. So, you`ve got Scott Perry and Jim Jordan who`ve been asked to voluntarily come in and share what they know what the committee. They both said they`re not going to do that. What do you do about that? I mean, there`s talk about subpoenas, but the subpoenas I think would be fairly innovative.
I don`t know if that`s happened before. Usually, Congress members just cooperate with congressional inquiries. How are you gaming this out?
AGUILAR: Well, if they were committed to protect the Constitution, they would come before us. But as you indicated, they`ve indicated for a variety of reasons, some nonsensical that they don`t want to come before the committee. In the case of Mr. Jordan and Mr. Perry, clearly, they were communicating with the White House and the former president about the strategy to overturn the free and fair elections. And so, that`s problematic to them.
So, it`s unfortunate. There are other tools that we have. Chairman Thompson has said that we`re reviewing those. If we have things to share, we will share those. But at its core, I think our appeal is to our colleagues. If you`re committed to this institution, if you`re committed to making this place work, to protecting and promoting democracy, then we have to stand against overturning free and fair elections at a minimum and stopping a peaceful transfer of power.
And the fact that they were coordinating in those efforts is deeply troubling. And the fact that they don`t want to talk about those efforts now, and join efforts to whitewash history, is troubling to a lot of us.
HAYES: As a member of the committee, how would you characterize where you are in the work -- the ark of this, how much you`ve learned and how much further there is to go?
AGUILAR: Well, we`re in the investigative stage right now. So, there are depositions, transcribed interviews, and discussions that are happening daily. There was hours and hours of those discussions today itself. So, you know, we continue to make progress and we continue to hear things that are helpful to our investigative efforts.
We`re piecing those things together, we`re connecting the dots, we`re having more and more conversations, over 300 so far, and we`re making significant progress. The next phase will be the more public phase that we do. And that`s when we`ll share these results with the American public.
HAYES: All right, when should we expect that?
AGUILAR: Well, I`ll let Chairman Thompson detail some of -- some of that timeline. But in the foreseeable future, we definitely want to share some of what we find and some of the conversations that we are having in a public domain, hopefully, where more Americans can watch and learn what we have learned about the importance of protecting democracy.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Pete Aguilar, thank you so much for your time.
AGUILAR: Thank you.
HAYES: Tonight, Kevin McCarthy, the most powerful Republican the House is asked to testify in the investigation into January 6. Next, Michael Steele on the political implications of a rarely calculated escalation for the committee, and former federal prosecutor helps read between the lines and the committee`s letter after this.
HAYES: First, the bipartisan committee investigating January 6 requested testimony from Republican Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Perry responded, "I declined this entity`s request and will continue to fight the failures of the radical left."
Then the committee requested testimony from Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking member of the powerful House Judiciary Committee. A request which Jordan called "an outrageous abuse of the Select Committee`s authority."
Today, the committee went to the very top requesting testimony from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the highest-ranking Republican in the House caucus. Now, McCarthy is yet to respond to the request. He previously indicated he would cooperate with the investigation. But he`s also now called the committee a "sham."
I want to bring in Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. And, Mike, let me just start with you on just the oh, snap implications here of, you know, going straight to the top of the House Republican caucus and say like, you clearly have information we want to know about.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and I think that`s important -- an important point not to miss or even overplay, because what it says is that the information that the committee has been collecting has led to this moment. You don`t make this move unless you`ve got something that creates the impetus for it, supports the impetus for it, and justifies making because, you know, the political ramifications, Chris, are enormous.
So, what are those political ramifications? One, it exposes the efforts of the Republicans and more specifically McCarthy on that day, how they responded to the President, what they said, not for the period interest of oh, what were your conversations like, but were you aware of just how much this was driving the narrative that led to what we were witnessing live on television.
McCarthy, sort of one off to the reporter that you showed in the first segment where he was like, oh, yes, I`ll respond. We know that that was bull. There`s no way that he was going to do that. I think Betsy put her fingers on it. That`s not going to be a driver for him right now to cooperate, but rather the consistent driver to obstruct and to play it off as a witch. But the committee has got to come with the hammer. And if they`re prepared to do that, this could get interesting real quick.
HAYES: Well, let`s talk about that, Barbara. I mean, we`re in interesting legal and constitutional territory. You know, you get subpoenaed in a criminal case or you get, you know, subpoena for document production or deposition in a civil case, you comply generally. It`s very rare not to.
This is A, a voluntary ask for compliance. And then the question is, well, what do you do if not? And that answer to me is not -- the legal and constitutional questions here do not seem to me settled or resolved. What do you think?
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I agree with you, Chris. You know, the phrase unprecedented, is maybe overused from time to time in our current culture. But this really is a situation that is unprecedented, Congress serving a subpoena on one of its own members.
And so, we don`t really know how that can shake out. And so, there are legal questions. We sometimes refer to that is litigation risk. You don`t really know what`s going to happen. But I would have to think that this has been a very skilled legal staff that appears to be guiding this investigation. I don`t think they would have gone down this road of this very public request for voluntary information if they didn`t plan to back it up with some sort of legal process. And so, it could be a subpoena, and we`ll see how that plays out.
HAYES: Yes, I mean, that`s -- that is the big question. There`s also the other dynamic here that I`m just utterly fascinated by, Michael. And this is something I feel like you have more insight into than I do. You know, as I`m going through the recitation of facts in the -- at the top of the show, you know, one of them is, you know, that on January 11, he`s on a phone call of the Whole House Republican caucus, and he`s -- you know, and I`m thinking, well, Liz Cheney was on that call. Liz Cheney was number three in House leadership. Liz Cheney was probably around all of this. Liz Cheney probably heard him say like, the President is -- better say something.
So, you know, there`s an informer on the inside of the operation A. And B, I think part of this is, like I said to Betsy, you know, the narrative that that is being crafted here is showing all these Republicans who in the moment understood what was happening, and were horrified as a key part of the story this committee wants to tell.
STEELE: And that`s what makes this so hard for them to play the oh, I`m not going to cooperate game now because you did have Liz Cheney in the room on the calls listening to the leadership in how they were approaching this. And I can assure you that Kevin McCarthy shared his conversations or portions of that conversation with members of that -- of that caucus.
So, what animates some of this is what Liz already knows and what Liz is probably already shared, and said, OK, here, turn this page, picket that scab, go after that point. And that`s what makes this hard for Republicans now who on January 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th were expressing their honest outrage about what they saw and how the President responded who then by, in Kevin McCarthy`s case, the 28th of January was licking the boot.
It wasn`t even bending the knee, it was licking the boot to curry favor with the guy who two weeks before they thought were -- was a real threat to this democracy.
HAYES: And quickly, finally, Barbara, you know, we`ve only really seen -- I mean, Bannon is the -- is the one who sort of really just flouted it and he was referred for contempt and is going to be prosecuted. Everyone else has kind of played it both ways. Meadows was cooperating, then he wasn`t. He also has it contempt referral. Others have pleaded the fifth others have cited privilege, etcetera.
So, there is a real -- I mean, it`s not like members of Congress are going to treat this like nothing if they get a subpoena.
MCQUADE: I think that`s right. And I think one of the things the committee has done well is sort of this public shaming with this six page letter and laying out all of the details about why they want his testimony and why it`s so compelling. And so, anybody who reads that I think would feel some shame that you need to come forward and tell what you know.
But in terms of legal process, we`ll see if we get there with a subpoena whether he opposes that. There`s been some argument that perhaps the Speech or Debate Clause gives him some cover, but I don`t think so. That clause is designed to protect members of Congress from the executive branch from arrest. I don`t think it protects a member of Congress from a fellow member of Congress.
HAYES: Michael Steele and Barbara McQuade, thank you both.
When we come back, we have Senator Elizabeth Warren. We have a lot to talk about, and we will get to it all right after this.
HAYES: Almost 16 years ago, in July 2006, the Voting Rights Act was up for reauthorization in Congress. And during the debate, the majority whip took to the Well the Senate and delivered an eight-minute-long speech in favor of the landmark legislation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We have, of course, renewed the Voting Rights Act periodically since that time, overwhelmingly and on a bipartisan basis, year after year after year, because members of Congress realized that this is a piece of legislation that has worked.
And one of my favorite saying is that many others use from time to time is if it isn`t broke, don`t fix it. And this is a good piece of legislation that has served an important purpose over many, many years.
This landmark piece of legislation will continue to make a difference not only in the South, but for all of America and for all of us whether we`re African Americans or not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Shortly after delivering those remarks, Mitch McConnell will go on to vote for the bill that he whipped his members to vote for, and the Voting Rights Act Reauthorization passed in a Republican majority Senate 98 to zero. A week later, President George W. Bush would sign that bill into law.
Today, Mitch McConnell, that same man, now the Senate Minority Leader gave a speech where he disingenuously attacked President Joe Biden for his speech yesterday on the need to pass landmark voting rights legislation, particularly after the Supreme Court gutted the not broke don`t fix it bill that they had passed, the same issue McConnell himself champion years ago.
Right now, there is little hope any Republican in the Senate will vote in favor of any voting rights bill. Today, Craig Melvin of NBC News spoke to Vice President Kamala Harris about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not absolve the 50 Republicans in the United States Senate from responsibility for upholding one of the most basic and important tenets of our democracy which is free and fair elections and access to the ballot for all eligible voters.
CRAIG MELVIN, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: What about Senator Manchin? What about Senator Sinema?
HARRIS: I don`t think anyone should be absolved from the responsibility of preserving and protecting our democracy --
MELVIN: Are you --
HARRIS: -- especially when they took an oath to protect and defend our Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Senator Elizabeth Warren is a Democrat from Massachusetts, one of the co-sponsors of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, someone who`s famously found herself on the other side of Mitch McConnell`s attacks on the Senate floor, and she joins me now.
Where do you think -- so, what is the plan right now on this legislation? I mean, it`s going to get a vote one way or the other or there`s going to be an attempt to overcome a filibuster. Like, there`s something moving forward and Senate procedure is -- always baffles me. So, since it`s your job, explained to me what`s happening.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Well, let`s do the easiest version of this, and that is that Leader Schumer has decided he is going to launch this plane. And that is he is going to bring us to the floor, which he can, to be able to debate the Voting Rights bill.
Now, we don`t yet have landing gear to get it back down. That is a vote at the end where a majority can pass it because we have -- always remember this part. Right now, we got all 50 Democrats in the Senate are solidly on board. We`ve got the vice president you just heard from. We can win the vote to protect the vote all across America. We just got to get to that vote. And that`s where we get tangled up on the filibuster.
So, Chuck is going to launch us off, and we`re going to see if we can build the gear to get some landing and get to a vote at the end and pass the Voting Rights bill. We need this all across our country.
HAYES: Yes, I should say, I saw this today. The House is going to pass a -- sort of combine these two -- these two different pieces of legislation into one. That`s what you`re going to take up. The leader can start debate without overcoming a filibuster, and then you`re going to try to, you know, basically get to a point where you can, I don`t know, vote to change the rule or bring Republicans along.
I mean, it`s interesting, the launching the plane without landing gear. I mean, I think that`s an apt metaphor. How confident do you feel about this?
WARREN: Well, would I rather have landed here before we launch it, you bet I would. But the worst possible outcome is that we never get to the voting rights bill. And we have done everything we can. We`ve got all 50 Democrats on board on the content of the bill. We know how desperately it is needed.
We are watching what`s happening all around this country right now, a concerted effort by the Republicans to deny people the opportunity to vote, to say that they`re not going to certify those votes, they`re going to let Republican legislators override the will of the voters, and to gerrymander people so that votes mean less than they would otherwise.
So, we know the importance. And look, is it the ideal solution? No. But is it the best solution in front of us? You bet it is. I`d rather see us go forward. I want action. I want everybody in America to be able to watch that debate on the floor of the Senate and to see who stands up for voting and who stands up to say I`ll change the rules, I`ll do what it takes to be able to protect this cornerstone of democracy and who it is who`s going to fight against that.
HAYES: There was a bunch of -- there`s been a bunch of economic data over the last few days. There`s inflation data today, CPI data that showed seven percent was the sort of headline number. There`s some parts of it, as the President note today, shows a meaningful reduction in headline inflation over the last month, gas and food coming down. It demonstrates we`re making progress in slowing the rate of price increases and basically says that more needs to be done at squeezing family budgets.
You know, when people ask me about well, what do you think politics? What do you think of the Democrats this year? My one-line answer is if inflation stays where it is, the Democrats are hosed. Do you agree?
WARREN: Let me just do this slightly differently. Do keep in mind that we have created more jobs in the first year of the Biden administration than ever in the history of the United States. A lot of people are back at work.
Now, are high prices a problem? You bet they are. But there are a lot of different pieces that are going into this. Some of this is companies that are passing along high prices that come from the manufacturing sector that come in their ability to sell goods. But some of this is coming from kinks in the supply chain. And there`s evidence that these are starting to untwist.
But you have to remember, there`s another part to what`s going on too. And that is these giant corporations who say, wow, a lot of talk about high prices and inflation. This is a chance to get in there and not only pass along costs, but to inflate prices beyond that and just engage in a little straightforward price gouging. We now live in a time when profit margins are higher than they have been in 70 years. Two-thirds of the publicly traded companies in this country are seeing higher profit margins than they did before the pandemic.
Now, your profit margins don`t go up just because your costs went up. They go up because you saw an opportunity. And you said, as the chair of the Federal Reserve said to me yesterday in testimony, why are they raising prices? Because they can.
Long term, we want to get those prices more under control. We need competitive markets. And that means enforcing our anti-trust laws, enforcing the laws that promote competition in this country that helps small businesses compete. That`s going to help us not just in the short run, but that`s what`s going to help us in the long run too.
HAYES: All right, Senator Elizabeth Warren, thank you so much for making time tonight.
WARREN: You bet.
HAYES: Still to come, could we be rounding the corner of the Omicron surge? Promising new data could be the light at the end of the tunnel, although you`ve heard that before. That`s just the head.
HAYES: We`ve been covering on this show the increasingly dire, desperate, and pointed calls by humanitarian groups to forestall mass starvation in Afghanistan, a country that in the last five months has seen foreign aid which made about 75 percent of the previous government spending completely dry up.
Now, it is true, there was enormous corruption during that previous regime. A lot of the aid never ends up in the hands of ordinary Afghans. In fact, it`s been a theme of a number of reports from the U.S.-Afghanistan -- U.S.- Afghanistan watchdog, including the most recently quarterly report to Congress last October.
But since the Taliban took over, even the relatively small amount of aid that was making its way into the hands of ordinary Afghans has almost completely disappeared. It`s been cut off. The inflows are gone. And that`s in large part because of U.S. sanctions and the freezing of the Afghan government`s own assets.
Well, yesterday, less than 24 hours after we called on President Biden to take action on this dire humanitarian catastrophe, the spokesperson for the National Security Council announced that the Biden administration would send Afghanistan $308 million in humanitarian assistance, along with another million Coronavirus vaccines pointing out the U.S. remains "The single largest donor of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan."
Now, that`s excellent news. We applaud that. It`s a real step in the right direction. But of course, scale is what really matters here. And to give you an idea of the scale of aid needed to avoid mass starvation in Afghanistan, the United Nations is trying to raise $5 billion to avoid a humanitarian disaster. That`s a lot of money.
But here`s the thing, there`s a way to get that amount of money to Afghanistan without spending a single cent of U.S. taxpayer money or diverting funds from other initiatives. Right now, the Afghan government has assets totaling about $9.4 billion frozen in U.S. accounts. That is nearly twice what the U.N. is trying to raise an aid. We could just release the money to the current Afghan government who are the Taliban.The Treasury Department could just do that.
Now, there`s an argument that we don`t know if we can trust the Taliban to use the money to make the lives of their citizens better. And that`s completely a valid point. The Taliban clearly has done many, many awful things and people don`t trust them rightly. But it`s also pretty clear that the Taliban and the Afghanistan Government currently isn`t just playing broke. The country is extremely poor. All of the aid got cut off. Afghanistan is in extremely dire straits. 97 percent of Afghans live below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day.
Humanitarian groups, and these are ones that are not like, you know, tend towards hyperbole, are telling us that half the population, more than half the population, 20 million, three million people already don`t have enough to eat, OK. So, whether you trust the Taliban or not, we can be guaranteed that if nothing changes in the status quo, a truly unfathomable humanitarian disaster is going to follow.
If nothing changes, then nothing changes. The first step to do is to change something. There is more the United States can be doing and we should do it right now. It does not cost us a cent. Releasing the Afghanistan government`s money could mean the difference between life and death for millions.
HAYES: I`ve spent a lot of my time staring at charts trying to figure out where we are on this latest COVID wave. And there were two over the past few days that really stood out. The first one, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, they have been tracking COVID mRNA in samples of Boston wastewater. That`s the sewage. And for most of the pandemic, wastewater has been a really good predictor of a COVID surge even before people begin to test positive.
You can see the little bump on the left from the surge last winter, and then you can see the COVID levels skyrocket starting about a month ago. You can also see them clearly coming down again now about as fast as they went up, which seems like really good news for the Boston area.
The other chart I want to show you comes from Dr. Bob Wachter. He`s the chair of the University of California, San Francisco Department of Medicine. Now this chart shows the number of positive COVID tests at the University Hospital. And you can see the numbers skyrocket in December.
Now, the dark line on top shows the percentage of patients who came in who are presenting with COVID-like symptoms, fever, or sore throat who then tested positive, right? So, nearly half the people come into the hospital saying hey, I feel sick, test positive for COVID.
But just as interesting is the light line right below it. That`s the percent of asymptomatic patients who tested positive for COVID. Those are people who are in the hospital for something else entirely. They`re not showing any signs of COVID, but they`re testing for it anyway. And more than 12 percent of those people have COVID and didn`t even know it.
Dr. Wachter says that if you extrapolate this larger population, it can mean that more than one in every 10 people who live in San Francisco might have COVID and have no idea. That can indicate millions of people building up additional immunity without suffering the ill effects of the disease at least right now.
So, between the COVID positivity going down to Boston wastewater, also the possibility a lot of people are having these asymptomatic cases, there are some beams of light breaking through what is yet another dark COVID winter.
Here to tell me if I`m being too optimistic looking at these charts, Andy Slavitt, host of the In The Bubble Podcast. He served as the White House Senior Advisor for the COVID Response for the administration. He`s the author Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response.
Andy, we`ve seen that Omicron signal everywhere, spike up spike down. That Boston wastewater chart is a perfect example. Where do you think we are in the cities on the East Coast that got the first New York, Washington, Boston etcetera?
ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR FOR THE COVID RESPONSE: Well, I like it when you present good news, Chris. And I think in this case it`s warranted. It`s a little bit around the corner. And so, I think what this tells us is getting to the next few weeks, depending where you are in the country, is going to require a little bit of patience.
But the key insight, I think, is that when we get through, I think what has been an incredible crush on our hospitals, the question we`re all going to be asking is, what do we get for all of this Omicron -- prior Omicron infection? What kind of protection does it provide us? Will that in fact give us the kind of year that we hope we have where we`re at -- we are protected against any serious illness, and we`re able to back to normal?
That`s the hope. That`s the thing where I think everybody`s going to be talking about shortly as we make it through these next -- this next wave. And as we pass through New York, hopefully, there`ll be just where London is headed and just where South Africa has already been.
HAYES: Yes. And I think that the reason the San Francisco data was fascinating to me is, you know, we`re -- when we -- when the U.S records 750,000, a million cases a day, you know, that is a fraction of the actual number of people that have COVID or contracted COVID on that day.
I don`t know if it`s 1/5. I don`t know if it`s 1/10, or 1/20, but lots more people are getting this thing than are presenting. And the -- and the positive part of that, particularly these are asymptomatic cases is that those are conferring antibody protection that builds up an immunity wall for whatever comes next.
SLAVITT: That`s right. We could be talking about five, six million people a day by some estimates, including, you know, IHME is right around there in the University of Washington. That means that this burns to the population very quickly. And as you say, if this confers immunity against future infection, and there`s been some studies done on one particular in South Africa which shows that it does protect against Delta. And what`s likely the case is that it will protect against serious illness.
It may not protect against the same type of symptoms, runny nose, modest infection. And so, we may still be dealing with some of that type of disruption. We`ll have to see. But if it does, indeed, protect us against serious illness, that is going to be very, very good news because that`s going to mean that the country is going to have a degree of protection at least for the near midterm.
HAYES: There was reporting and Politico today in which a senior administration official argued that in an effort to send you know, surgical grade mask, N95, KN95, right, like actual respirator masks to Americans would make little difference because half the country won`t wear any mask. A lot of people were very upset by this.
And I want to ask you a broader question for people that voted for Joe Biden, support the president and say, I voted for him a lot about the pandemic, and Trump was obviously disaster, crazy, but I can`t get tests, I can`t necessarily get masks, I`m going through another winter of this chaos, and I am really frustrated this administration has not done more. What do you say to them?
SLAVITT: Well, I don`t think that that statement is -- reflects administrative -- the administration`s policy. I think ministration policy is to leave nobody behind. And yes, we have an incredible shortage because we have an incredible number of cases. And we have a shortage of everything. We have a shortage of personnel, nurses, and doctors. We have a shortage of tests. We have a shortage in virtually everything. Fortunately, not boosters and vaccines.
But look, people are going to be rightly frustrated going through this shortage. I think much of this was unforeseen and unforeseeable. But certainly you could say hey, we should -- we should be better at planning and having more tests and more testing. And in fact, I don`t know if you saw today, but Tom Inglesby from Johns Hopkins was just named the new testing coordinator from the White House. That is excellent news. This is the person you want it to be accountable for testing.
We have doubled the amount of antivirals coming. So, when we get to the middle of the year, when we get to April, I think we`re going to have sufficient antivirals for large portions of the population. So, they`re anticipating that need.
So, I think the -- you know, the White House from, you know, all my conversations over there, the people are out in front about as much as you could expect them to be in front of and still facing big challenges.
HAYES: All right, Andy Slavitt, as always, great to hear from you. Thank you very much. That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.