Today, Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, leader of the Oath Keepers, became the first to be arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy in an indictment unsealed by the Department of Justice. Rep. Kevin McCarthy rejects January 6 Committee`s request to cooperate with the investigation, Rep. Liz Cheney accuses him of trying to cover up what happened. Sen. Ted Cruz pushes the far-right`s favorite January 6 conspiracy theory to prove loyalty to Donald Trump. Rep. Matt Gaetz`s ex-girlfriend just testified before a federal grand jury investigating the congressman for sex crimes. The United States Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration`s COVID vaccine and testing requirement for large businesses.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: And he can`t even hurt them anymore.
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: He can`t hurt them.
REID: But he still gets to be the autocrat. It`s amazing. Michael Steele, I appreciate you, my brother.
STEELE: You got it.
REID: Thank you very much. I appreciate you.
STEELE: Thank you, Joy.
HAYES: And that is -- that`s tonight`s "REIDOUT." ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN.
MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators at any level accountable under law.
HAYES: The Department of Justice finally moves up the MAGA food chain.
GARLAND: We will follow the facts wherever they lead.
HAYES: Tonight, jaw-dropping details in the seditious conspiracy charges for a right-wing extremist leader and what those charges mean for other Trump World figures.
Then, another big day for the January 6 Committee. I`ll talk to Adam Schiff about today`s new subpoenas as Liz Cheney calls out Kevin McCarthy for engaging in a cover-up.
Plus, Ted Cruz attempts to redeem himself with Fox News conspiracy theories, yet another ominous harbinger in the Matt Gaetz investigation.
And the Supreme Court`s shocking opinion that a deadly pandemic is not an occupational hazard.
When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. The charges filed today against a plotter the January 6 insurrection are not only the most serious we have seen, they are also the most descriptive the actions of all who took part in the events up to and around that day.
Seditious conspiracy, that`s the charge. Today, a man named Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, working-class hero, became the first to be arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy in an -- in an indictment unsealed by the Department of Justice.
Now, he is the founder of the far-right military dress-up gang called the Oath Keepers. Now, that`s a big deal for a number of reasons. First, here`s how the law defines seditious conspiracy, and I`ll quote for you. "If two or more persons conspired to overthrow put down or to destroy by force the government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof or by force to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law of the United States."
Now, that law and that charged, seditious conspiracy, was most notably used against Puerto Rican nationalists in the 20th century. In fact, that moment that they were charged for was the most violent thing to happen the Capitol before January 6. That`s when four of them stormed into Congress and open fire, injuring five representatives.
But in recent decades, it has also been used against right-wing anti- government groups, including a group of white nationalists who are charged with sedition and ultimately acquitted by an all-white jury in the 1980s after they tried to overthrow the government and establish an all-white colony in the Pacific Northwest.
It`s also used against a Christian right-wing militia group called the Hutaree back in 2012. They were alleged to be part of their own revolutionary plot to overthrow the government. Oh, the judge ultimately threw out the charge. So, it`s got a sort of checkered history in some ways, but there`s nonetheless a clear precedent set for charging far-right groups with seditious conspiracy, which brings us to the Oath Keepers, yet another right-wing anti-government group.
Now, the group was founded in 2009 by Rhodes, a Yale graduate and former lawyer, in response to the election of President Barack Obama. It is reportedly made up mostly a former law enforcement military officers which presents a little bit of inherent contradiction for any anti-government group. But the idea is to stand in opposition to the oppressive tools of state violence and power.
So, the purpose founding the Oath Keepers is to remind those currently serving have their oath to defend the Constitution from the group`s perceived enemies, the political left. It`s about who wields power as opposed to equal justice under law. So, Rhodes is your typical far-right extremist who believes the government only when not controlled by his faction, his people, is oppressive and tyrannical, conspiring to take away your freedom.
In August to 2020, he tweeted, "Civil War is here right now," before getting banned from the platform for inciting violence. Back in 2009, he outlined his paranoid anti-government position with my former colleague Chris Matthews.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, FORMER MSNBC HOST: I want to know when you would call your force together and challenge the U.S. government.
Elmer Stewart Rhodes, FOUNDER, OATH KEEPER: It`s not about -- it`s not calling forces -- it`s not calling forces together, it`s simply saying they`re not going to comply with orders to violate the rights of the American people. We`re not talking about asking them to go fight. We`re saying simply don`t fight -- don`t fight the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Oh, OK. So, keep that in mind. Just don`t obey unlawful orders. That seems harmless enough, I guess. As with a number of other prominent far- right extremist groups in this country, the Oath Keepers were heavily involved in the planning and execution of January 6, not just you know, disobeying bad orders.
Now, we should note that Rhodes did not enter the Capitol itself. So, this is a fascinating detail. This indictment of him captures something broader than just the crime of physical entry into the building which is what has nabbed most of the people who have been charged. They were just caught inside the Capitol, getting in the Capitol is a crime.
No, with Rhodes, the crime was the conspiracy to stop the peaceful transfer of power and overthrow the government. Again, reading from the Rhodes indictment, as they put it, "beginning in late December 2020, via encrypted and private communications applications, Rhodes and his various co- conspirators coordinated and planned to travel to D.C. on around January 6. Rhodes and several co-conspirators make plans to bring weapons to the area to support the operation."
The indictment also reveals the Oath Keepers plan for a so-called Quick Reaction Force or QRF teams. We`ve heard reporting about this, but it`s spelled out in the indictment. And the purpose was to wait somewhere off site, later point the Oath Keepers and the mob and the crowd had gotten inside and taken over and we`re in control.
"While certain Oath Keepers members and affiliates inside of Washington D.C. breach the Capitol grounds and buildings, others remained stationed just outside of the city in QRF teams. The QRF teens are prepared to rapidly transport firearms and other weapons into Washington D.C. in support of operations using force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power.
Think about that for a second. Go into the Capitol, use the mob, get in, occupy it, and then move the guns in so you can`t be dislodged, and that the peaceful transfer of power can happen. They had teams stationed outside D.C. ready and waiting to transport guns and other weapons to Capitol to stop the peaceful transition of power by force, either to the threat or potentially the use of deadly violence.
Now, Ben Collins, one of the reporters here at NBC News uncovered this image from a pro-Trump message word from the night of January 5th where someone with the username 2021 is 1776 posted a picture of their firearms cache with the title "Ready to head to D.C. Guns staying safely in Virginia just a few blocks away."
This was real. This was the real thing. This was a real incredible threat the Oath Keepers were planning. They wanted to use force to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power in this country. In other words, they were engaged in a seditious conspiracy.
And I`d say that`s a pretty big deal because the idea of the January 6 insurrection didn`t originate with the Oath Keepers or Stewart Rhodes or anyone in that crowd. No, it was the logical conclusion of Donald Trump`s coup attempt.
After the former president exhausted all of his other options to overturn the election, after he tried pressuring state and local election officials to change the results in his favor, and he chose Georgia Secretary of State to find the votes he needed to win, and he had his lackeys draft a memo and how Vice President Mike Pence could overthrow the election and the will of the people unilaterally, and he worked to disseminate that plan to his allies in Congress, and both personally and through his cronies pressured Mike Pence to go through with that plan.
And after all that failed, Donald Trump was out of options. And he fell back on the last one available to him on that morning as he spoke there, which is overturning the election through brute force. So, he whipped his crowd of angry supporters into a frenzy and he launched them at the Capitol even as we now know some of the organizers of that same January 6 rally had explicitly lobbied against that because they were worried it could not be secure, that it would lead to dangerous violence.
And as the crowd laid siege to the Capitol, using brute force to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power and delay it, threatening members of Congress, assaulting police officers and chanting that they wanted to hang Mike Pence, Trump sat there and watched it on TV, even as the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his buddies on Fox News and even his own children begged him to intervene to stop the crowd from using force to stop the peaceful transfer of power.
No, Trump let it all unfold for hours as they use force to stop the peaceful transfer of power before releasing a half-hearted video telling his supporters he loved them and to go home. After it was clear that they would not be able to use violence to present -- prevent the certification free and fair election as outlined in the electoral account act.
As you know, I`m not a lawyer, Donald Trump has not been charged with any crime. But golly, that sure sounds like a seditious conspiracy to me to use "forced to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law in the United States, doesn`t it?
Ryan Reilly is a senior justice reporter at HuffPost and has been covering the investigation into the January 6 rioters closely and he joins me now. Ryan, you are as read up on this as anyone and have been following this. How big a deal is this Rhodes indictment today on this charge?
RYAN REILLY, SENIOR JUSTICE REPORTER, HUFFPOST: This is a big deal. I mean, this is -- this is the charge a lot of people have been waiting for it. Because, you know, it`s been a number of different charges that prosecutors have generated and used against defendants in these cases, sometimes getting a little bit creative with some of the federal statutes on the books and using them in ways that are clearly under the law, but or maybe not perhaps how people anticipated when they were being written, right?
So, I think that the seditious conspiracy charges really interesting here because, I mean, if you -- if this conduct doesn`t meet that charge, what is it on the books for, right? It`s almost like that`s sort of the -- it perfectly describes the operation here of what these people actually did. So, I think it`s, you know, it`s kind of long overdue in some people`s mind that they finally got to this really new platform.
HAYES: It`s also I mean, Rhoades has been a somewhat notorious figure both because people knew that he was, you know, the Oath Keepers` founder, they knew that he was around this, and he had not been charged yet. In fact, some smooth-brained geniuses over on the right had come up with this conspiracy theory, the linchpin of which was that Rhodes had not been -- Rhodes have not been searched. What is his significance particularly?
REILLY: Yes, I mean, if you just look at it his career path, also truly interesting. I remember I first interviewed him actually at CPAC over a decade ago. And now, this is where we are today, with them being the head of a conspiracy against the U.S. government.
I think that you know, this is -- this has been building for a while. There`s been some hints about this. If you look back on actually the volunteer attorney who worked with the Oath Keepers, actually, I was visited by the FBI had her phone seized a few months ago. You had another member of the Oath Keepers who started cooperating and reached a plea deal, that it had a cooperation component back over the summer.
So, there`s been these little hints along the way that they were building to something bigger here. And of course, Stewart Rhodes has been in this indictment and these previous indictments as individual one the whole time. And it was sort of very obvious who he was.
So I think that it`s been building to this point for a really long time. But it`s just remarkable to see it especially so close to the one-year anniversary finally come to the peak. You almost wonder whether or not, you know, maybe the plan had been to try to roll this out before Merrick Garland`s speech last week when he said that no one was sort of off- balance, even if you weren`t inside the Capitol or even if you were on the grounds, he was sort of laying out the potential for a broader case like this. And this is what -- this is what we see today.
But we had -- you know, there had -- just keep in mind, you know, you mentioned the Hutaree militia case before. I think there`s a huge distinction there because that case was basically built off of the possibility of something happening in the future. It wasn`t like a determine this is going to happen then.
REILLY: It was sort of -- you know, there was something hinged on it. But this case, on January 6, this is what they plan to do. This is what they were going to do, and they actually concurred operations to do it. And against the U.S. Capitol rather than, you know, somewhere in the states going against law enforcement.
HAYES: Yes, this is not the -- this is not the, you know, the sort of terrorism charges you`d occasionally get in the post 9/11 era of like, an FBI informant walks up to someone who`s like, do you want to buy a weapon to do something terrible? And I`m like, yes. I mean, this is -- they did it. And in fact, I mean, I got to say, let me just read some of the details here.
I mean, in a message, Rhodes urged his followers to refuse to accept the election result. He stated, we aren`t getting through this without a civil war. It`s too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, and spirit. He also calls for bloody revolution on December 22, 2020. In an interview, the regional Oath Keepers leader, Rhodes stated that if President-Elect Biden were to assume the presidency, we will have to do a bloody -- massively bloody revolution against them. That`s what`s going to have to happen. He urged President Trump to use military force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power, describing January 6, 2021, has a hard constitutional deadline.
And then finally, there is a list of the weapons purchased in the weeks after January 6, sights, mounts, scopes, magazines, ammunition, duffel bags. This -- they were -- I mean, as much as this sort of might have started I think is cosplay. Like, this was very, very real, Ryan.
REILLY: Yes, those are real weapons, right? Like there is a little bit of this is like, you know, seems a little bit like cosplay. It`s a little bit like pretend and everyone is sort of, you know, putting on that tough-guy demeanor. But you know, we`ve seen, you know, the Oath Keepers show up to events before. They were in Ferguson. They`re on the streets there. They`ve been sort of all over the place.
And this has been -- this has just been brewing for so long, but it all sort of came to this peak on January 6. You know, there have been past things that they`ve sort of organized around. I think they got involved in maybe (INAUDIBLE) conspiracy. So, there`s been a number of things.
But this is really, you know, the ultimate -- this was the moment that everything has came through ahead of January 6.
HAYES: All right, Ryan Reilly, thank you very much.
I want to bring in now Caroline Fredrickson, Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown University Law Center, senior fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice.
And, you know, Carolyn, it strikes me there`s this sort of profound question here. It`s almost a constitutional one about like, what -- you know, what graver crime can there be than essentially plotting to overthrow the government, particularly if you are the sitting President of the United States, righ?
And this is a tool and these kinds of laws, you know, things that were passed during the Red Scare and the Espionage Act that can come sometimes be used to sort of quash dissent. They could be, you know, dangerously targeted at sort of marginal figures. In this case, it really does feel like the person plotting the seditious conspiracy was the president.
CAROLINE FREDRICKSON, SENIOR FELLOW, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: Well, that`s absolutely true. And I would say, the other thing about this is, you know, if you were writing a, you know, a case book and trying to illustrate exactly what seditious conspiracy is, this would be your example.
It could not be more on point, it could not be more fitting in in the statute itself, which, you know, you read it already, but you know, it`s worth reminding people that it`s -- involves conspiracy to overthrow put down and destroy by force the government of the United States. You know, what is this if not an exact illustration of that -- of the carrying out of that statute.
And so, you know, with Donald Trump`s role in egging them on, it`ll be very interesting to see where Merrick Garland goes next with this. I think a lot of people thought, you know, it`s about time. It is -- seems very clear that there was a conspiracy here and that bringing in the Oath Keepers seemed like the obvious step.
And, again, I think the evidence they have marshaled is voluminous. The indictment itself it`s chilling to read. I think we all knew this some sense of how much they had been planning, the weapons they`ve been acquiring, the force that they built up in Virginia waiting to come into the Capitol. But actually seeing it written down and the Justice Department`s kind of dry language really makes it come home about what would have -- what could have actually happened on January 6.
HAYES: Yes, and I think that I had the exact same experience reading through the indictment, and particularly on the -- on the weapons cache, and particularly the way that it syncs up with the key part of that day, which is the President watching for three hours, at one point tweeting and goading them on. As far as we know, many people in his inner circle are pleading him to basically call off the dogs.
The point of the Oath Keepers` seditious conspiracy is to take the Capitol and hold it so that the peaceful transfer of power cannot happen. And the President is watching this happen. One wonders whether he had precisely the same goal in mind as he`s watching this happen. We know they had the same aim in the end, which was to stop the peaceful transfer of power.
FREDRICKSON: No, I mean, you know, we don`t really want to put ourselves in Donald Trump`s mind. It`s a scary place to be, I`m sure. But let`s be honest. I mean, the fact is that he was contacted by many people -- I mean, his son was actually apparently too afraid to contact him directly and went through Mark Meadows. But people were in touch with him, including the Fox News hosts, about trying to get him to help persuade these rioters to stand down.
He didn`t do that. So, we`re left with thinking that he thought -- you know, he was -- he was really very interested in seeing them go forward. Again, I think, you know, we`re going to see in the future where the Justice Department goes with that. Will Donald Trump himself be brought into a conspiracy charge? Do they believe that they can actually charge him with the crime. But it`s -- there is a lot here for them to work with.
HAYES: Yes. I mean, that is a $64,000 question. I will note in other countries, that coups sometimes happen. And when they don`t work, the coup plotters and the people who attempt to execute them are charged. That`s the way it goes, you know, It`s a -- it`s a kind of like, you don`t -- you don`t like try and then you just -- they say, don`t do that again.
Like, that`s pretty standard in the in the in the post-coup reckoning playbook is that there are charges for the coup plotters. We`ll see if that happens here. Caroline Fredrickson, thank you very much.
FREDRICKSON: Thank you so much for having me.
HAYES: All right, next up, Kevin McCarthy in the hot seat. The most powerful Republican the House says he won`t cooperate with the investigation. And the vice-chair of the committee calls it a cover-up. Congressman Adam Schiff on how far the committee is prepared to go in order to get answers after this.
HAYES: One year ago today, Donald Trump was impeached for the second time, this time for "inciting violence against the government of the United States. The vote was 232 to 197 with just 10 Republicans joining the Democrats. The highest-ranking of those Republicans was Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, then the chair of the House Republican Conference. That is the third-ranking position in leadership. That is real, real high. That`s like, right up at the top.
She refused to ignore that Trump participated in a well, seditious conspiracy. In fact, the day before the vote, she released a statement saying, "the President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was is doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The president could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution."
Liz Cheney`s vote and those stark words put a target on her back because Donald Trump could not have somebody in Republican leadership that was openly opposed to him. Less than a month after the impeachment vote, the Republican caucus convened to vote on removing Cheney from her leadership position. It was a secret ballot, and she easily survived 145 to 61 with Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy telling reporters, "Liz has a right to vote her conscience. At the end of the day, we will be united."
Spoiler alert, whether McCarthy meant that or not, having someone behind him all the time reminding anyone who would listen that Trump should be exiled, it didn`t help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe President Trump should be speaking -- or former President Trump should be speaking at CPAC this weekend.
MCCARTHY: Yes he should.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congresswoman Cheney?
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): That`s up to CPAC. I`ve been clear in my views about President Trump and the extent to which following -- extent to which following January 6th, I don`t -- I don`t believe that he should be playing the role in the future of the party or the country.
MCCARTHY: On that high note, thank you all very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You can sort of see his soul leave his body midway through there. Now, Cheney continue to speak out against Trump, and so in May, House Republicans held another vote to remove Cheney from leadership. This time, it was done by a surprise voice vote instead of a secret ballot, meaning you had to record where you were on this and Congressman Cheney lost the vote.
She was purged from House leadership because she refused to ignore Donald Trump`s attempts to overthrow the government while Kevin McCarthy cover things up and do Trump`s bidding. When it came time to investigate the insurrection, McCarthy tried to submarine it, and so Liz Cheney joined the investigation, becoming the vice-chair of the committee. Now she wields the power and is getting well, last laugh or at least a laugh. We`ll see if it`s the last one.
Yesterday, the committee asked McCarthy for his testimony on what he knows about the insurrection. Today, after McCarthy refused to cooperate, Cheney said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: We know that Leader McCarthy was pleading with the President to tell people to go home when police officers and others were being beaten here at the Capitol. So, you know, I wish that he were a brave and honorable man. He`s clearly trying to cover up what happened. He has an obligation to come forward and we`ll get to the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California is a member of that same January 6 Select Committee, was also the lead impeachment manager for Trump`s first impeachment and he joins me now. Congressman, why is it so important to talk to Congressman McCarthy?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, McCarthy, by his own admission, was on the phone with the President on January 6, and as Liz Cheney said, trying to get the President to intervene and stop the violence. And yet the President did nothing for such a long time.
McCarthy has said sometimes in kind of a self-serving way what he said in that conversation, he`s told others, but he hasn`t really said what the President`s response was. And of course, that`s vital to know what the President`s actions were, what his inactions were, what his state of mind was. So, there are few people that could speak to that better than McCarthy or Trump. That`s why he`s a key witness.
HAYES: What do you make of -- what is your response to his announcing he won`t cooperate with the inquiry?
SCHIFF: You know, look, it`s not that surprising, even though he pledged that he would cooperate, that it would testify, because, you know, he has been engaged in trying to cover for President Trump. Practically since the insurrection there were that few -- there was a few, you know, days immediately after the attack on the Capitol where he was laying blame on Trump, but very soon, he was down at Mar-a-Lago begging forgiveness. And ever since, he`s been part of that effort to sweep this entire attack under the rug.
So, it`s not surprising. You know, hoping or wishing that he were an honorable and courageous person, there`s a little chance of that ever happening. That`s just not who he is. But nonetheless, he is a key witness. We`ll have to figure out now what to do about him.
HAYES: Well, I mean, I guess you`re not going to get out ahead of the committee, but we are in interesting, legal and sort of constitutional frontier here about compelling testimony from a fellow member of Congress for congressional inquiry. As far as I know, that hasn`t happened. We haven`t seen subpoenas for that kind of thing. How do you think about it?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, the last time this came up was during the Russia investigation when it was chaired by Devin Nunes. There were two House members with pertinent information, one Democrat, one Republican. We asked them to come in, they both said, yes. They both did their duty.
But now, we have McCarthy and others refusing to do their duty. The way I look at it, we have -- we have certain remedies, potentially, with McCarthy, with Perry, with Jordan, with other House members that we don`t have with a Steve Bannon, for example, or Mark Meadows. That is because the House can control its own members, can discipline its own members.
So, there are other options than the criminal contempt route. We haven`t decided on what options to use but there is an ability of the House to essentially police its own that we`ll have to consider.
HAYES: That is interesting. I had not thought of that but that`s a good point. You do have subpoenas that have been issued now for a few of the big tech firms, which is interesting. I think there had been channels of communication for voluntary cooperation and production. I guess those are broken down. I think it`s a Meta and Google and Twitter and Reddit. Why do you feel those subpoenas are necessary? What are you looking to get from these tech companies?
SCHIFF: You know, sadly, they were necessary. We have been trying for weeks and months to get information from these companies about the use of those platforms to organize the attack, the use of those platforms to spread the big lie, and other items that are very pertinent to our investigation. And frankly, it`s been pulling teeth to get the relevant documents from these companies.
From you know, Meta, for example, we`ve been trying to get information about their shutting down of the committed they have established on civic integrity, and the shutting down to that after the election and the repercussions as a result of that. And my sense, frankly, from the document production of these companies is they`re sharing with us what they think we already have or what they think we already know. But we know there`s other material out there, and we`ve lost patients and we`re now going to require them to provide it.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Adam Schiff, we will continue to get updates from you as this progresses. Thank you very much.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, the desperate search by Republicans to avoid blame for January 6 reaches new levels of delusion. And Ted Cruz in search of redemption is leading the charge. That`s next.
HAYES: Senator Ted Cruz is so desperate to get back into the good graces of the insurrection apologists that he will do just about anything. Last week, Fox News host Tucker Carlson lit him up for calling January 6 a "terrorist attack." So Cruz then went on his show to beg and grovel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Well, Tucker, thank you for having me on.
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Of course.
CRUZ: When you aired your episode last night, I sent you a text shortly thereafter and said, listen, I`d like to go on because the way I phrase things yesterday, it was sloppy and it was frankly dumb.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Thank you for calling me out, sir. I deserve to be called out. Please continue to do so. That was not enough. Cruz is so desperate to be let back in the club that he`s now carrying water for a preposterous and dangerous conspiracy theory. It`s been growing on the right and you probably haven`t heard about it but here`s how it works.
From the moments after the attack on the Capitol, Trump and many of his supporters were desperate to find a story that would make the day look better for them. And at first, they tried blaming their usual left-wing boogeyman Antifa but that didn`t really catch on.
It`s obviously preposterous, and so it`s replaced by a new fringe theory that is cropped up, suggesting that there were unidentified federal agents circulating, riling up the crowd, attempting to sort of, you know, launch them into these dangerous activities, in other words, to entrap the good- hearted, virtuous, peaceful Trump supporters.
There is zero evidence to support this theory, but that hasn`t stopped it from getting a ton of traction. I mean, Tucker Carlson has devoted a bunch of airtime to it. And at a Senate hearing -- Senate hearing on Tuesday, Ted Cruz tried to help further Tucker`s narrative, asking an FBI representative about a figure who has become the star of this conspiracy theory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRUZ: Well, there are a lot of people who are understandably very concerned about Mr. Epps. On the night of January 5, 2021, Epps wandered around the crowd that had gathered. And there`s video out there of him chanting tomorrow, we need to get into the Capitol, into the Capitol. This was strange behavior so strange that the crowd began chanting, fed, fed, fed, fed, fed, fed. Ms. Sanborn, was Ray Epps a Fed?
JILL SANBORN EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY BRANCH, FBI: Sir, I cannot answer that question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And thus, Ted Cruz got a sound bite. Of course, the FBI will never answer that question. But of course, they don`t discuss their informants. You can ask them if Ted Cruz is a Fed. They`re not going to tell you either way.
But the man Cruz names, Ray Epps is a real person. And I got to say, the scene he describes did happen. You see here and Epps was it the Capitol on the Sixth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAY EPPS, CAPITOL RIOTER: OK folks, spread the word. As soon as the president is done speaking, we go to the Capitol. The capitol is this direction. We are going to the Capitol where our problems are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So, again, the sum total of this galaxy brain theory is basically that Ray Epps was there urging people to go to the Capitol, but he hasn`t been charged with anything. So, then he must be an FBI agent.
The problem with that story is Ray Epps himself has already debunked it. He`s a Trump supporter guy. He spoke to the January 6 Committee. He told them he was not working with any law enforcement agency on January fifth, or sixth, or any other time, that he has never been an informant. He`s just the guy who wanted to start in the Capitol the way that a bunch of other Trump supporters did.
Now, the one small silver lining is this proves that there is this sense on the right that they understand how offensive the insurrection was to most Americans and that they have to desperately find someone else to blame because the truth of it looks and sounds so bad.
Next, one of those Republicans who`ve been actively pushing the Ray Epps conspiracy calling January 6 a quote -- I`m not making these up -- "fed insurrection." Well, it turns out he might himself be in some trouble with the Feds.
HAYES: There is a major development in the criminal probe into Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida. His ex-girlfriend just testified before a federal grand jury investigating the congressman for sex crimes. NBC News is withholding the woman`s name to respect her privacy.
The investigation into Gaetz began more than a year ago when a former political ally of his was charged with a laundry list of misconduct. To be clear, Gaetz has not yet been charged with any crime. He denies all wrongdoing. He says he has never paid for sex or had sex with a minor while he was an adult. And he is painting the entire ordeal as a vast conspiracy against him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): The smears against me ranged from distortions of my personal life to wild and I mean wild conspiracy theories. I won`t be intimidated by lying media and I won`t be extorted by a former DOJ officials and the crooks he is working with. The truth will prevail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Mark Caputo is National Political Reporter for NBC News who broke the news yesterday that Gaetz`s ex-girlfriend was appearing before the grand jury, and he joins me now.
Mark, let`s just start with the context of this inquiry which starts with this individual named Joel Greenberg who gets -- who gets busted in it for a whole bunch of stuff that he was up to. And we know as a just a sort of matter of fact that he was an associate friend of you know, new Matt Gaetz. The two of them spent time together.
MARK CAPUTO, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Right, Joel Greenberg was a one-man crime spree. He`s really one of Florida`s great political sleaze balls that we`ve seen in quite some time. The investigation into him quickly led prosecutors to look at Matt Gaetz, in part because Greenberg wants to shave time off of a sentence and wanted a lenient treatment from prosecutors. So, he`s one of the witnesses in this case.
The other witness is the alleged victim. From what we understand, she said that when she was 17, she is told by their prosecutors, the grand jury, or the investigators, or a combination of all three, that Gaetz had had sex with her when she was 17 and that money changed hands.
From what we understand, there`s no direct evidence showing that money changed hands from him. It would have gone potentially through Greenberg. That`s where Greenberg comes in. That brings us to the third person in this case, the ex-girlfriend. She occupies an important role for prosecutors because she can tie these various matters together. She was Gaetz`s girlfriend at the time. She was his confidant.
We don`t know exactly what she said. Presumably, she said something to prosecutors what they want her to say because she is seeking an immunity deal. They did suspect her of participating in an as yet unclear obstruction of justice scheme with Gaetz. He denies that as well where she was on the phone with one of the women was involved in this case. They patched in Gaetz in a three-way call, and then allegedly or purportedly, justice was obstructed in some form or fashion. Again, he denies that.
Now, for months she had been working -- her lawyer had been kind of seeking this immunity deal. And the prosecution was essentially stalled. Well, that got uninstalled and unstuck on Wednesday when she went into that courthouse. And what she said to that grand jury in her all-day testimony, presumably is not inuring to the benefit of Matt Gaetz.
HAYES: So, wait, just so -- I don`t think I had quite tracked that this had developed quite this far. So, you have -- I mean, we know -- so we knew Greenberg was cooperating. And, you know, we knew that from court filings in which the Fed said, you know, they kept postponing his sentencing date. He now has a sentencing date.
And we just learned that the ex-girlfriend testified. I guess I didn`t know for sure the victim herself had come before the grand jury. Do we know that?
CAPUTO: We don`t know if she came before the grand jury. But from what we understand from our sources, she has communicated to them in some form or fashion that this was the case. They probably would not be at this stage of the case unless the alleged victim, in this case, was cooperating in some form or fashion or had at one point furnished evidence to them.
HAYES: Right. So, again, we don`t know the future. I should note, again, that Gaetz denies this. But I guess I would say you`ve covered politics a while and I`ve covered politics a lot particularly in Chicago when I was younger, and this kind of thing would happen. Like, you`re not psyched if you`re sitting in Matt Gaetz`s like, kitchen cabinet gaming out what things look like for you with this federal investigation. Is that a fair thing to say?
CAPUTO: Yes. I think -- you know, we don`t have all -- we don`t have access to the information that the grantor has, but it`s safe to say that the chances of Matt Gaetz being indicted now are way higher than they were before. That doesn`t mean he will be indicted by the grand jury.
CAPUTO: Now, if that happens, this is going to go up to Merrick Garland, the U.S. Attorney General, to decide whether to proceed with the case. And it`s no slam dunk that even if they decide to indict him, charge him an open court, that they`re going to get a conviction. It`s a sex trafficking minor.
CAPUTO: They might be applying the law in a relatively novel way relative to the way other sex trafficking minors cases are prosecuted. This sounds more like kind of a classic sex with an underage prostitute that you might see in a state court, but there`s really no prostitution charges in federal court. There is sex trafficking minor, that is if you have sex with a minor and something of value changes hand, you`re guilty of sex trafficking the minor regardless of whether you thought she or he in that in another case, was not a seven -- whether you thought she was at the age or not.
So, you know, there`s -- it`s a strict liability component. It`s very difficult to get out of. But sex trafficking crimes are difficult ones to prove. This happened in 2017. There are orgies, there are lots of drugs, there are a lot of hazy memories, and there are a lot of witnesses against Matt Gaetz who, at least in the case, two of them, are potentially providing evidence that they`re giving in return for lenient sentences or lenient treatment from the federal government. He would exploit that in court or mention that in court, certainly. And we`ll see what the jury sides.
HAYES: Yes. Wow. All right, we will keep our eyes on this. I think it will demand that. Mark Caputo, good to have you on board, man. And thanks for the great reporting. I appreciate it.
CAPUTO: Good to be here. Thank you.
HAYES: Tonight, President Biden`s vaccine and testing requirements struck down by the Trumpist Supreme Court. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh is here to talk about what this means for you and for the fight against a pandemic next.
HAYES: Less than a week after an emergency appeals session, the Supreme Court just did exactly what many feared they would do, and blocked the Biden administration`s COVID vaccine and testing requirement for large businesses.
All six conservative justices, including the three put there by Trump united against it, ruling six to three to halt the Occupational Safety and Health Administration`s workplace rule, writing, "Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA, the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly.
Marty Walsh is the Labor Secretary under the Biden administration and he joins me now. Secretary Walsh, clearly you thought you had the authority. What`s your reaction to the ruling today?
MARTY WALSH, U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: Well, certainly very disappointed in the ruling. You know, we were doing this rule to keep Americans safe, to help get Americans back to work, to make sure that people don`t have to worry about when they`re going to work. But unfortunately, the court rules against the way that we felt was right.
You know, we talked to medical experts who supported what we`re doing. We spoke to legal experts who thought we -- who said we had the authority to do this. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court had a different opinion.
HAYES: You know, part of the logic here, which I`m going to read to you is this idea that it`s not specifically a workplace hazard, and ergo can`t fall under OSHA`s purview.
"Although COVID-19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most. COVID-19 can and does spread at home and schools during sporting events and everywhere else that people gather. That kind of universal risk is no different from the day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases."
I mean, the thing that`s striking to me here is like A, you`re not required to go to sporting events or other things. And second of all, like, half the country -- a huge percentage of countries when working from home or remote working for precisely this reason. Clearly, it`s had some effect on the workplace, right?
WALSH: No, it certainly has. You`re absolutely right. And people are still working from home. And, you know, once a month, I do jobs day in this country and people say, you know, how come there`s so many jobs open and people aren`t going back to work? And one of the reasons I think -- one of the big reasons is people are concerned about going back to work to a non- safe work environment.
And, basically, this was not a -- this was not a mandate that we did. What we did was vaccine and -- I mean, vaccines or testing. So, if you chose not to get vaccinated, and you`re an employer, you would have to come up with a process to get your employees tested once a week, and then those folks that haven`t -- weren`t vaccinated would wear a mask inside work.
It`s a really -- this was not overly burdensome, number one. And number two, it really was intended to make sure that workplaces are safe. And unfortunately, you know, again, I think that, you know, it`s unfortunate that this -- that this ruling came down this way tonight.
HAYES: Do you think there`s any irony? We should know that the court met in person, although several the people arguing to strike it down, tested, I believe, positive beforehand, so they couldn`t appear in person, which seems interesting. You know, that`s a workplace issue. You probably won`t want them in the court with you.
Sonia Sotomayor also chose to appear remotely. And there`s also some restrictions in the court itself around testing and masking and things like that. Do you see any irony in the fact that the court considers it something of a workplace safety issue, to regulate the spread of COVID in the place they all are?
WALSH: Also, I find a little irony on the fact that if you look at the Omicron variant numbers, how high they`re getting right now, we`re making a decision based on not having another basically protocol or safety protocol in place that would keep people safe and the ruling comes down as the Omicron variant spikes as more and more people get sick.
I think Delta, if I`m not mistaken, it was yesterday, Delta Airlines announced that their employees that were vaccinated are getting some symptoms from the normal common variant, but no severe illness and no deaths. And they talked pre-vaccine the -- I think they were losing a person a week for the -- in that one company because there was no vaccine.
So, when you think about that, the irony is that here we are during the week saying we have no right to do it. Meanwhile, there are decisions being made all across America whether or not we keep school open next week or do we go remote. What do we do in businesses? You know, I just think again, it`s very short sighted by the justices that rules against this today.
HAYES: Well, I just want to say I`m very glad that they got those positive tests to catch people before they could have come into their workplace with COVID and introduce that to the Justices. Obviously, you wouldn`t want that kind of thing in your -- in your workplace.
WALSH: No, that`s --
HAYES: That`s what covered 80 million -- go ahead.
WALSH: No, you want to make sure that when you go to work, that you feel comfortable and safe there. And the folks that are vaccinated in your workplace, you know, they`re vaccinated, and the folks that I`m vaccinated. Certainly if they tested, you know that if they have the virus, they`re not going to bring it into work.
HAYES: Yes, it`s nice also the court, you know, work remotely for a while so they could, again, keep that out of the workplace, which was a good smart thing for them to do. Secretary Marty Walsh, thank you very much.
WALSH: Thanks for having me tonight.
HAYES: All right, that is ALL IN on this Thursday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated. Thanks to you at home as well for joining us here. I`m very happy to have you here this evening. So, this is -- this is the descent.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.