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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 1/18/21

Guests: John Podesta, Jamaal Bowman, Natasha Bertrand, David Remnick, Christina Greer

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Rest in power, good lady. And that is tonight`s REIDOUT. Thank you all for joining us happy. MLK Day to all. Be safe. Wear a mask. And "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN. Two days to the inauguration, new investigations, new arrests, and new questions about safety in the Capitol. Tonight, former Obama Chief of Staff John Podesta on America`s first non-peaceful transfer of power and the chaos Joe Biden is inheriting.

Then, Congressman Jamaal Bowman on his plan to fix the failures that led to the siege. Plus, David Remnick on the New Yorker`s stunning first-person record of what happened inside Congress. And on the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., one last attempt to rewrite history from the White House, when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. We are 40 hours away from a transfer of power. But unlike nearly all that came before, it cannot be characterized as a peaceful transfer of power. There has already been violence against the transfer of power incited by the outgoing president that left five people dead including a police officer.

This is what it looks like in a nation that has had a violent threat to the transfer of power, 25,000 troops stationed in the capital, as if they were garrison in a war zone, a militarized Green Zone established around the center of the city. Much of Washington D.C. just utterly shut down. There are lots of ways to describe this moment, but no one gets to say they didn`t see it coming, that they were not warned.

If there is one thing that Donald Trump has made clear from the beginning going back to 2016, it is that he had never had any intention of conceding defeat if he lost and engaging in a smooth and peaceful transfer of power.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transfer of power after the election?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we`re going to have to see what happens. You know that. I`ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots or disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand that. But people are rioting. Do you commit to making sure that there`s a peaceful transfer of power?

TRUMP: No, we want to -- we want to -- get rid of the ballots and you`ll have a very -- we`ll have a very peaceful -- they won`t be a transfer, frankly. There`ll be a continuation.


HAYES: I mean, that was on camera. We all saw that, right? Will you commit to a peaceful transfer of power? Well, we`ll have to see. There will not be a continuation as Donald Trump said, but we are getting more reporting about how there was a plan all along, to steal the election, to overturn the results, defy the will of the people, destroy American democracy.

That plan was plotted and executed in broad daylight in public on Twitter with all of us watching, all the Republicans watching, and in front of numerous aides. Axios reports that as Trump prepared for Election Day, he was focused on the so-called Red Mirage, right. That was the idea that his voters` votes would be counted first.

Trump intended to exploit this, to weaponize it for his vast base of followers. His preparations were deliberate, strategic, and deeply cynical. Trump wanted Americans to believe a falsehood, that there were two elections, a legitimate election composed of in-person voting, and a separate fraudulent election involving bogus mail-in ballots for Democrats.

The outgoing president even choreographed his election night scheme as early as the second week of October. His former chief of staff Reince Priebus told her friend, he was stunned when Trump called him around that time and acted out his script, including walking up to a podium and prematurely declaring victory on election night if it looked like he was ahead.

Reince Priebus was stunned. What did he do about it? What did Reince Priebus do about it when the President confided him his plan to steal an election? Did he warn us? Did he say anything publicly? No, of course, not. He did what they all did. He just shut his mouth and let it happen even as it was all planned and plotted. It happened with a whole bunch of people like Reince Priebus -- thank you Reince -- looking on.

Some of them just jumped off the runaway train at the very last minute. Another profile who encouraged, Attorney General William Barr. It was Axios reports he had been butting heads with Trump since the summer. Now, Barr, again, could have taken a firmer stand. He could have been public. He could have told us what was happening. He could have rung the alarm bell sooner. He could have warned us. He didn`t do that. He sat by and let it happen. And instead, he quit a few weeks early with a letter comically effusively praising Trump and his way out.

Vice President Mike Pence, who decided at the last moment not to aid the coup. Good on him. Only to end up sheltering from a raving mob chanting hang Mike Pence as they stock the halls of the Capitol looking for him and his family.

But the time people like Barr or Pence, were interested in distancing themselves from the plot, it had already gained its own momentum. See it now in new polling for NBC News showing 74 percent of Republicans believe Joe Biden did not win the presidency legitimately.

Everyone went along with Trump`s plan until was too late. So, now, this is the country the Biden administration and the Democratic Senate and House are tasked with governing, a country that requires 25,000 armed troops to keep the peace on Inauguration Day. A country where a huge chunk of the opposition, a majority, a supermajority, wrongly believes they were the victims of a coup.

John Podesta was the chairman of Hillary Clinton`s presidential campaign, was a counselor to President Barack Obama. He`s been a Democratic stalwart for years, and he joins me now.

Let`s start on that note, John. I mean, how do you understand the task of governing that this incoming administration is being handed amidst what we have, which is in some ways a crisis as severe and acute as Barack Obama inherited in 2009, with the added poison of this challenge to democracy and democratic rule, and the big lie about the election being stolen?

JOHN PODESTA, FORMER COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, thanks for having me on, Chris. And it`s good to see you just 40 hours before we have a change of administration. I think there`s no question that Donald Trump incited an insurrection, but he had a lot of enablers who helped them. Republicans like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, people in the House like Kevin McCarthy, all of whom should go down in shame.

But I think one of the things that you have to give credit to President- Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris for is they`ve responded with real discipline, with a sense of that they need to lead this country, that there -- they spoke about four crises throughout the campaign, the COVID crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the racial justice crisis, and the climate crisis.

But I think they have to add a fifth crisis, the democratic crisis we have of a party that is intent on continuing to lie to their voters about what actually happened. They produce no evidence of fraud, and yet they lied and lied and lied. And look what they produced on January 6th. Sure, Donald Trump is the worst of it, but he had a lot of help along the way.

HAYES: And this is where-- I mean, I think this question, I mean, again, this is a very difficult task. I do not envy, the Biden-Harris administration or the very, very narrow Senate majority with news today about how that Senate majority is going to function because, you know, the Republican Party is the opposition party in the U.S. and has a, you know, a hold on between 40 and 48 percent of the voters depending on the election, right? They`ve got a bunch of House seats.

So, everyone`s going to show up to work on the 20th and it`s like, OK, what are we doing here? And yet, it seems like it can`t be that, right? Like, at one level, I understand you got to get to work and get stuff done. At the other level, it`s like, I don`t know what you say to Josh Hawley if you`re face to face with him in the United States Senate.

PODESTA: Well, look, I think what the Biden-Harris administration need to do is kind of focus on their task. And I think that`s why they`ve said, leave the impeachment trial up to the Senate.


PODESTA: We`re going to focus on what we need to do, which is to get on top of the virus which, of course, is another sin of the current administration that they botched the -- denied the science, botched the response, caused the circumstance under which now 400,000 Americans have died. And now they`re -- you know, we have a weak response on the vaccine distribution. They have to, first and foremost, get on top of that, begin to put some salve on the pain that people are feeling.

President-Elect Biden laid out a very aggressive agenda to do that with additional payments, with the family medical leave, expanding the child credit, ensuring that renters aren`t evicted, making sure that student loan borrowers get a moratorium on their student loan payments.

That`s what they need to do. They get got to get on top of this. They got to get people back to work. And then they have to make the investments that Joe Biden described when he was running for president. That`s probably going to come in a second big package. And they`ve laid out a very aggressive executive agenda that will take place in the -- that was laid out and Ron Klain`s memo over the first 10 days.

So, they got a lot of work to do. And I think they got to get on with it. I think the American people, if there`s any chance to bring people together, will respect the fact that we now have a competent government on their side, whoever you voted for, trying to provide relief to this country which is in such desperate need of leadership and, you know, and the skill that - - and experience that Biden and Harris have brought in their Cabinet picks and picks for the White House.

HAYES: John Podesta who has served several Democratic administrations and has watched our politics arrive at its current point, thank you so much for making time for us tonight.

PODESTA: Thanks, Chris. Freshmen Democratic Congressman Jamaal Bowman of New York State introduces first bill in Congress last week, the Congressional Oversight of Unjust Policing Act or COUP Act for short, to investigate what exactly happened on January 6th, and ties between policing and white supremacy.

Congressman, first, just as a sort of basic informational level, what do you know about what happened on January 6th? And what do you feel like you and your colleagues need to know?

REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): So, there`s a lot we know now, based on reporting after the fact. So, we know the FBI had information of a possible attack on the Capitol. That information was not shared, not only within the FBI, but wasn`t shared with Capitol Police. We also know that the chief of Capitol Police also had information that was similar, but that information was not shared with other law enforcement agencies.

But it was shared with the House Sergeant at arms. And the House Sergeant at Arms decided against calling in the National Guard because of this fear of optics. And when you compare that response to the response of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters in Washington and across the country, there`s obviously a lot of questions that need to be answered there.

So, we know that information now. But as I watched -- you know, I was in my office. Thank God, I wasn`t in the Capitol when this happened. But as I watched the attack on the Capitol, my first question was, how the heck did they get past Capitol Police? And how the heck were they able to enter the Capitol grounds?

So, those were the immediate first questions, and it clearly showed we were unprepared in terms of person power and, you know, we weren`t prepared in terms of how we shared intelligence and how we did not use force to push back these insurrectionists.

HAYES: I`ve spoken to freshmen Congresswoman Cori Bush, who is in the same class as you, right? You`re two individuals new to Congress. I mean, it`s striking to me like this was your fourth day on the job or fifth day on the job, right? Just what was that, like? I mean, I imagine there`s a lot of nerves that go into this and a lot of excitement. And you`re now in the United States -- you know, member the United States Congress, credible upset victory. And now you`re there and cowering in your office.

BOWMAN: Cowering in our office for 16 hours, not receiving any sort of security updates throughout the day, praying that they don`t then turn their attention toward our offices, because we did not have the law enforcement defense structure set up to protect us, and praying that my colleagues in Congress were not killed.

So, this was just an insane sight to see. My initial thought was the war of 1812. As you know, that was the last time the Capitol was attacked. But again, like what surprised me was not that these white nationalists and domestic terrorists tried to attack the Capitol. What surprised me was that we weren`t prepared.

And as you said, that was the third or fourth day on the job. And I`m proud of my team that within 48 hours, we had a draft of our first bill ready to go, and very proud of my colleague, Cori Bush, who within the same time period, actually, probably sooner had a draft of her first bill. You know, but this is a chance for all of us in Congress to sort of begin at a new baseline, and stop spreading the myth of American exceptionalism and accept the fact that this is exactly who we are and this is exactly who we`ve been throughout our country`s history.

Whenever there`s social progress. There`s white backlash, particularly from the people who believe that this needs to remain a white-dominant nation, and they are afraid of the multiracial democracy that we are becoming. Right after we send our first African American and Jewish Senators in Georgia to the Senate, right after that, the day after, we have an attack on the Capitol.

This is a new baseline and now we have to deal with the issue of white nationalism seriously and police departments but also throughout all of America`s institutions.

HAYES: So, how does that transfer into what a governing agenda looks like here? Because, again, it`s a divided -- I mean, 75 percent of Republicans think that Joe Biden stole the election, right? Like -- and I don`t know -- you know, I think some of that polling is a little -- I don`t know how much it`s a real belief, but there are millions, if not tens of millions Americans were convinced that the opposite happened, right? That like, some nefarious force stole it from their guy and gave it to Joe Biden.

BOWMAN: It`s insane. And Trump began this sort of disillusionment, from the very beginning of his presidency. He came out talking about fake news, he came out talking about alternative facts, criticizing MSNBC, CNN and other reputable news media outlets, questioning of their integrity. So, he began his presidency with this nonsense. And he`s ending it that way.

I`m hopeful, because many of these senators who initially were going to protest the Electoral College results change their mind after the insurrection, but in terms of my Republican colleagues in the House, I cannot fathom why they will not only continue to protest the Electoral College results, but they continue to just disregard the laws of the House of Representatives.

I mean, they`re walking around on the House floor without mask, disregarding the rules there. They`re trying to bring firearms to the floor on a consistent basis, pushing past Capitol Police and walking through metal detectors. So, they have this disillusionment and this almost sick devotion to a single person, Donald Trump, because they believe that Donald Trump is going to maintain the nation that they want to maintain, as opposed to just evolve in, like we`ve done throughout our nation`s history and like other nations have done and figure out how to work together.

And I think the bottom line is, we have to meet the needs of the American people, period. And as long as President-Elect Biden and Vice President- Elect Kamala Harris are focused on that, we in the House will be focused on that, and hopefully, the Senate will come along and the American people will see what`s happening and vote these delusional insurrectionist supporters out of office in 2022.

HAYES: Congressman Jamaal Bowman from my home borough of the Bronx, thanks for making time.

BOWMAN: Thank you.

HAYES: Next, less than 48 hours until Joe Biden is inaugurated, and D.C. is on high alert. National Security Reporter Natasha Bertrand here to lay out what security precautions are underway. What we can expect to see on Wednesday right after this.


HAYES: In less than 48 hours, Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the next president of the United States in a Washington D.C. that none of us has seen before. As Atlanta reporter Brendan Keefe pointed out, Biden will walk through this arch to his inauguration, that view, through the same doorway where riders crushed D.C. police officer in a door, over the same step where a rioter was trampled to death, and down the same stairs where an insurrection is beat a D.C police officer with an American flag.

Since the assaults in the Capitol, the area has transformed to attempt to ensure the inauguration safe. 25,000 National Guard troops are stationed in and around the Capitol. The Associated Press reports that quote U.S. Defense officials say they`re worried about an insider attack or other threat from servicemembers involved in securing President-Elect Joe Biden`s inauguration, prompting the FBI to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event.

Now, that level of vetting would probably be prudent, security measure at any time, but it does take on some added urgency given that several current and former military members and guardsmen have been charged in connection with that assault in the Capitol.

Earlier today, what turned out to be a small fire at a homeless encampment near the Capitol, a debrief shut down to the building and an evacuation of the inauguration rehearsal. Despite the threat of violence, despite the pandemic, the inauguration is moving forward just with fewer people. Earlier tonight, the Presidential Inaugural Committee lit an art display on the National Mall representing the 50 states and the U.S. territories and representing the American people who are unable to travel to Washington for this inauguration.

Politico National Security Correspondent Natasha Bertrand has been covering the inauguration security concerns. Last night, she shared this video she shot of troops down at the Capitol, and she joins me now.

Natasha, where do things stand in terms of preparation and sort of anticipation of security officials with 40 hours to go until this event?

NATASHA BERTRAND, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Yes, I mean, things are pretty tense in D.C. right now. Every -- pretty much every way that you would try to get to the Capitol is blocked off by a checkpoint, and they`re calling it the Green Zone. So, if you want to approach the Capitol, you have to go through metal detectors, you have to get wanted down to make sure that you don`t have any weapons, and it`s a big process.

And there are National Guard members standing on corners with machine guns, and it`s just -- it`s a very tense scene. Right now, I think what they`re most concerned about still is the possibility of improvised explosive devices of people coming into the city with weapons. But we haven`t seen yet any incidents.

And there was an incident the other day where someone drove in with unauthorized weapons. But he was released. He didn`t seem to be posing an immediate threat. There was an incident earlier today with the fire that you mentioned. But a lot of this seems to be just general anxiety and abundance of caution. And that`s really what we`re seeing right now.

There`s going to be our active-duty troops on standby to support the National Guard. So, there`s a lot of preparation going on. And they`re feeling both anxious, but also optimistic that the show of force right now is so great, that it will hopefully deter anyone from trying any kind of insurrection activity.

HAYES: Yes, it does -- it does seem to me -- I mean, this is the domestic threat -- the sort of joint threat assessment from the FBI and DHS saying domestic extremists pose the most likely threat to the inauguration. The extremists remain a concern to their ability to act with little to no warning, willingness to attack civilians and soft targets, and ability to inflict significant casualties of weapons that do not require specialized knowledge.

It does seem to me -- people talk about security theater, and this does seem to be an example of it with a kind of point, right? Like, you probably don`t need 20,000 Guardsmen to secure the Capitol. The projection of like stay the heck away seems to me part of the thinking behind this.

BERTRAND: Absolutely. It`s them saying this is what we can mobilize in response to a couple thousand of you trying to attack the Capitol with absolutely no real plan to try to overtake the building. Look what we can do to try to deter you in the future. You don`t stand a chance.

That`s not to say that there might not be a kind of lone-wolf kind of attack that`s really hard to prepare for. You can never obviously prevent 100 percent against some kind of terrorist attack, which is also what the security officials are emphasizing that they`re doing their absolute best that they can prepare for every single possible danger.

But this -- if there was even a quarter of the security presence that we`re seeing now prior to the January 6th riots, we wouldn`t have seen that happen. So, I think this is maybe somewhat of a -- of an overcorrection, but it`s one that`s necessary to show the general public that they can be protected.

HAYES: You mentioned IEDs, and it just occurred to me, you know, and all these unrests. Like, am I crazy or we not figured out who put the pipe bombs, which according to law enforcement officials were actually functioning real pipe bombs, right, not like some sort of hoax and not some sort of, you know, fake item. Like, they were real. We still don`t have that -- we`ve not caught whoever did that, correct?

BERTRAND: Correct. That person or people have not been identified yet. And the FBI has been really all hands on deck trying to figure out who did this because obviously, that person could act again, whether it`s Molotov cocktails, whether it`s pipe bombs, whether it`s another kind of improvised explosive device, there is the fear that this could be repeated.

And that, of course, is very difficult to prevent again. They`re doing -- they`re doing sweeps all over the city. They`re bringing in people with specialized training in detecting and getting rid of IEDs. National Guard members are also receiving specialized training to deal with that. But it`s not part of their normal training, and this is something that has them on edge as well, because the people who planted those improvised explosive devices, those pipe bombs outside of the DNC and RNC on January 6th, they still have not been brought to justice.

HAYES: All right, Natasha Bertrand who`s been doing great reporting on this beat, thank you very much.

BERTRAND: Thank you.

HAYES: Ahead, a chilling first-person view from inside the Capitol. David Remnick joins me to talk about how the New Yorker got the footage everyone is talking about and what it tells us about what happened next.


HAYES: -- of the most striking and horrific images of the salt in the Capitol have come from people who were among the crowd, rioters themselves who live stream their crimes, as well as journalists who braved the Trump mob.

Yesterday, the New Yorker released a remarkable video filmed by veteran war correspondent Luke Mogelson who was pepper-sprayed while documenting the attack.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re outnumbered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s (BLEEP) million of us out there and we are listening to Trump, your boss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Defend the constitution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go. You won`t report the media, now you can`t. Start making a list. Put all those names down. And we start hunting them down one by one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Traitors to the guillotine.



HAYES: Mogelson followed the insurrectionists as they pushed into the Senate chamber in search of lawmakers who had just been evacuated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s got to be something in here we can use against these scumbags.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a good one.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hawley, Cruz -- Hawley and Cruz want us to do this so I think we`re good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, absolutely.


HAYES: A short time later, an outnumbered officer tried to convince the insurrections to leave the chamber.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a shot in the face with some kind of plastic bullet. Is there any change I can get you guys to leave the Senate wing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will. I`m making sure they aren`t disrespecting the place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, I just want to let you guys know this is like the sacredest place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know. Hey, you know what, I`m going to take it --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody took a seat at this chair because Mike Pence is (BLEEP).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should be stopping us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no. He`s doing -- he`s doing the right thing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s obeying his oath.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m making sure you guys don`t do anything else. Now that you`ve done that, can I get you guys to walk out of this room please?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. But this is our Capitol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s be respectful to him. There`s four million people coming in so there`s a lot to control. We love you, guys. We love the cops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s only a matter of time. Justice is coming.


HAYES: A full 12 and a half minutes of Mogelson`s footage can be found on the New Yorker Web site along with his remarkable account of what happened that day, and what he`s seen covering violent Trump supporters for the past 10 months.

I`m joined now with the editor-in-chief of the New Yorker, David Remnick, who assigned Mobilson to that beat. It`s incredible -- it`s an incredible feed of reportage by Luke -- incredible footage. What do you feel like you took away from it encountering it in sort of first-person through his eyes?

DAVID REMNICK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE NEW YORKER: You know, I was discussing this with Luke`s remarkable editor Dan Zelenski. And what`s so striking about it besides the images of craziness and stupidity and rage is the degree at almost every point in which the rioters, the insurrectionists are either emboldened by the words of the President of the United States or they imitate the words of the President of the United States.

Look, when they`re destroying cameras, they`re using the rhetoric of, you know, enemies of the people, and they`re outside destroying television cameras and press equipment. When they`re inside, they`re yelling, 1776. And this is us, and this is our boss. This is the temper of Trump rallies for five years, gone berserk.

This is the apotheosis of all those rallies that would go on for hours on Fox News getting everybody riled up. It`s the apotheosis of what`s going on social media for years, imitating and incited by not some crazy revolutionary in his basement, but by Donald Trump, the President of the United States.

That is what`s so striking about these images in the way they overlay what we`ve known for years. This is not some incredible surprise.

HAYES: There`s there are two moments that -- on that point that are particularly striking. One is the man who says to the Capitol Police Officer like, we have been sent here by your boss, Donald Trump, which just as a sort of constitutional matter is not true. Like, he works for a separate branch of government, which is the Article One government. But then there`s the other -- there`s the other point where the guy is ruffling through the pages in the Senate chamber. And he says he thinks that Ted Cruz would approve of what he`s doing. Like, they are just coming out and saying, like, we are here under the authority of Republican politicians who have sent us the message that this is acceptable.

REMNICK: Language matters, politics matters. What comes out of the mouths of senators and president`s matter. And they can matter in a way that`s inspiring. You know, we`re talking today on the Martin Luther King Day. We`re celebrating one of the great Democrats and freedom fighters and one of the most eloquent people and most inspiring people of the 20th century, and the opposite can happen.


REMNICK: The perverse opposite can happen. And a nutcase like we`re now watching carrying the flag, desecrating the flag, in my view, desecrating the Senate chamber, that`s the opposite of it. And he is using the language of the elected president of the United States, who then said that the election was illegitimate and that you should act on it. March.

They acted on the words of Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump Jr. who we`ve been told in countless articles wants to pay a political career of his own. This is madness. And for the Senate not to act on this, to -- for it not to have a thoroughgoing trial and exact justice and what justices do would be itself a terrible crime in my view.

HAYES: One of the aspects of the reporting in this piece that was also really revelatory to me was that the reporter had embedded with some of these folks back in, I think, December when there had been a much smaller kind of protests. The President had driven through it. It ended up in a bunch of these folks sort of marauding the streets of Washington D.C., just beating random Black passers-by, ripping up Black Lives Matter sign off a historic AME church, and burning it.

But you can see -- I mean, because he was there then, that was just the -- it was just perfect continuity between what was happening there and what happened to the capital.

REMNICK: You know, Luke Mogelson has been covering for The New Yorker for years, things like the war in Afghanistan and Syria and he`s very experienced. And he came -- he lives in Paris, and he spent a lot of time in Middle East and South Asia and the rest. And he came here nearly a year ago to begin reporting on what`s now reached its zenith for his native correlate.

He wrote a long piece about the Proud Boys. He wrote a long piece about the situation in Michigan. He wrote about, you know, Antifa which is hardly an equivalent here, but that`s another matter. And he got -- yes, he got to know all of these people. A lot of these people travel around. They follow the orders of what they`re told to do or what they`re inspired by on social media, and by extension, their fearless leader.

He thought today, Chris, about an event -- you know, there`s so many in these four years and we now have this opportunity to look back on it. I can`t help thinking that cabinet meeting some years ago when all the cabinet members sat around the table, obviously, at the order of the President of the United States praising the great Generalissimo. And it just struck me as something out of the playbook of authoritarians and totalitarians for many decades that, you know, Masha Gessen, Tim Snyder and so many people have been reporting about for so long.

And that`s what history is going to focus on in large measure is that this disgusting event, this horrible, humiliating, terrible event, which may be the forecast more events like in the future, who knows, comes out of that kind of behavior, that kind of twisted attitude toward leadership in our country. It`s a terrible, terrible tragedy. And I`m afraid it was for a day that he was elected.

HAYES: You were a reporter in Russia in a sort of prior phase your career - -

REMNICK: Years ago.

HAYES: Years ago. But you were there at a moment of very -- a kind of combination, if I`m not mistaken in the -- in the timing here, sort of hope and then the fragility of a kind of democratic experiment and trying to get out away from the past. And I just think -- I wonder like when you look at where this country is right now, it -- you know, it happens day by day. The Capitol attack was a wake-up call. But just the very real fragility of American democracy at this moment, which I feel more intensely and viscerally than I ever have in my life as a reporter reporting on American politics.

REMNICK: I think the contrast between the period of 1989 to the -- to the early 1990s, a sense of American triumphalism that somehow, I hate this thing. It wasn`t, you know, it wasn`t what it was cracked up to be, but the end of history that somehow everything had been solved, everything that was major have been solved ideologically and historically, as if democracy was somehow founded on a kind of permanence everywhere.

And there were in fact, there`s a flowering of democracies in South America and elsewhere, all over Europe. But democracy is an idea and democracy is a process and democracy can be derailed and democracy can be destroyed. And this notion that America is somehow invulnerable, inviolable forever is childish.

And if, in fact, the Trump experience at least gets us to understand that and make sure that we are serious about that, then that`s an extremely important thing. Because look, democracy had -- you know, it`s such as it was, was a very short-lived experience in parts of eastern Europe and Russia and Central Asia and all the rest.

We have much deeper roots, deeper institutions, however imperfect they are. Nevertheless, what Luke was filming, what everybody was writing about, what we saw on January 6th was a terrible example of the impermanence of something that we don`t cherish it and hold it, it will be gone.

HAYES: You think -- you think the windows can`t be shattered until they are. David Remnick who`s at the New Yorker with that great piece, thank you so much for being with us tonight.

REMNICK: Thanks for having me, Chris.

HAYES: Still to come, the Trump administration`s pathetic attempt to rewrite history on their way out the door. I`ll explain the head.


HAYES: The final hours of Donald Trump`s law and order regime has turned into a factory assembly line of executions unparalleled in recent American history. Over the weekend, Dustin Higgs became the last prisoner to be executed under Trump and the 13th since July. In fact, three federal death sentences were carried out in the last week alone.

The federal execution chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana has been more active in the last six months than has been in the last 17 years. Donald Trump and William Barr and everyone involved have moved heaven and earth to override objections, go over procedural hurdles, and go on an unprecedented spree of executions that has been sadistically cruel.

Despite the very real awfulness of the crimes, these are awful, awful crimes, all these people, Slate points out that nine of the 13 put to death had significant intellectual disabilities, severe mental illness, and or histories of abuse. But really, it`s the capriciousness of it all, the capriciousness that was pointed out by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor after a six-three ruling from the court with the conservatives siding with the Trump administration to let an execution to proceed.

And in her dissent, Sotomayor wrote, the government gives no compelling reason why it suddenly cannot wait a few weeks. This is not justice. There could be no justice on the fly in matters of life and death. Around the same time of that dissent, New York Times reported that Trump hangers-on and associates were soliciting tens of thousands of dollars, in at least one case, millions of dollars from people who`ve been convicted of crimes who are seeking pardons from the president.

There it is, right? All in one split screen. This is what Donald Trump`s vision of law and order has always looked like. Running the federal execution chamber at full tilt while the well-connected pay money for pardons. For my friends, anything. And for my enemies, the law.


HAYES: Martin Luther King Jr. would have turned 92 years old this week, seven years younger than Betty White to get a sense of how close this history is. We celebrate a holiday commemorating MLK just 12 days after a white supremacist riot stormed the United States Capitol carrying the flag of Donald Trump.

And if it is still unclear to you at this late date what position Trump and his administration have on the forces of white supremacy and the course of our history, look no further than their official White House document released today on MLK Day titled The 1776 Report. It was commissioned last fall is an obvious attempt to rebut the 1619 Project of The New York Times Magazine, which was an examination of the history and enduring consequences of the institution of American slavery.

Today`s report from the White House reads like, oh man, I don`t know. Like, a sophomore year term paper maybe by Stephen Miller, using images of Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, and Abraham Lincoln while defending America`s founding on slavery, all stamped with the weight of the U.S. government.

Christina Greer is an associate professor of political science at Fordham University and she joins me now. I mean, the first thing I will say here is this is not in any way like a serious anything. It`s essentially a troll. That`s the full content of it. Like there is no actual intellectual -- like there`s interesting stuff to debate about the 1619 Project and the role of slavery. Like, there`s real academic debate on this. This is not that.

CHRISTINA GREER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Absolutely not, Chris. And I think you`re being very generous by saying it`s a sophomore year paper.

HAYES: High school. Sophomore high school. I should have been clear.


HAYES: Sophomore high school.

GREER: OK, I`ll give you that. I`ll give you that. I mean, using -- you know, using pictures of MLK -- Dr. King and Frederick Douglass, but you know, the fact that the architects of this project had the audacity to put it out on a day like today after what we witnessed on January 6th, when we know -- these are -- there are certain things that are facts, Chris.

The vast majority of the founding fathers of this nation, I call them the framers, they owned human beings. They owned Africans -- enslaved Africans. They forcibly raped women. They separated families. They defecated in people`s mouths. These are all documented. They beat people to death. They treated them worse than animals.

And so, for this project to say, well, I mean, other people did it too. And to keep talking about it is really divisive. I don`t understand how we can ever move forward as a nation if we don`t recognize the reality of brutality and the bloodthirsty nature of the white supremacy that this nation is predicated on, and the anti-Black racism that this nation is predicated on.

HAYES: That point about the, you know, the cruelty and the monstrosity of the institution of American slavery, and it`s distinctness -- I mean, the report makes this argument like, well, slaves have in common throughout human history. American chattel slavery was just a different institution than those institutions. It was like what happened in the Caribbean as well.

But you know, one of the things that I -- that blew my mind, because the history isn`t taught, is when you go back to the contemporary observers that time, Tocqueville is one of them, tons of English at the time were like, boy, these Americans, they talk a big game about freedom, but man, do they whip the hell out of their human slaves that they own. Like, they realized at the time. You cannot stress this enough.

And honestly, the thing that the 1619 Project helped to do was reset people`s understanding because I think that the history, a lot of us was like, they didn`t know any better. And this is trying to sort of reassert that idea.

GREER: Right. And keep in mind, Alexis de Tocqueville is coming to just study some prisons, and he`s just observing American life. And he recognizes that this is a certain type of brutality that he was just unused to. But I think we also have to recognize that it`s a four legged table of not just white supremacy and anti-black racism, but racialized capitalism, and patriarchy is the fourth leg.

But the racialized capitalism piece is what threw off so many European observers where they recognize that the economic vitality of this new nation was predicated on enslaving human beings, right?

HAYES: Right.

GREER: And selling them throughout the -- throughout the nation. And so, as we try and present this -- America as a brochure is phenomenal. It`s a force -- it`s a five-star Ritz Carlton, right. It`s the Four Season. America in practice, the fact that we stay at war, the fact that we cannot get enough of subjugating other groups of people, primarily Black Americans.

Every single policy in this country is based on exclusion of Black Americans to a certain degree. This is who we are. And so, we still have in the year of our Lord 2021 where Americans scratching their heads and saying like, this isn`t us. How can it be? It absolutely is. And this is what James Baldwin says.

What you have to do to tell yourself that this isn`t you does more damage to you than anyone else. And this is what`s been going on in America. And we`ve reached this point where we now have people storming the Capitol with the Confederate flag, with swastikas, essentially claiming it`s their nation, when -- because we`ve never had honest conversations. We talked about George Washington and his wooden teeth, but we don`t talk about the fact that George Washington ripped the teeth out of his enslaved Africans and put them in his own mouth as his dentures.

So, like, we`ve never been honest about who we are as a nation, and we find ourselves here trying to face it in 2021.

HAYES: The final point to me that`s also just absurd here is like, look, we debate all this stuff. We fight about it. That`s what good open democratic culture is. People have arguments about history. That`s what academic debates existed. There`s a million on everything.

This idea that there`s something like great patriotic education that everyone needs to take in uniform is so offensive to the very democratic underpinnings of the entire enterprise of a free people.

GREER: Right. Well, I mean, if you want to have a universal education, we just need to base it in fact. So, you know, I`m not against having a universal understanding of what America is, but that understanding has to be based in the fact that we are a nation that fact is U.S. chattels slavery for centuries, and it has repercussions in every single aspect of policy that we see today.

HAYES: Christina Greer, as always, great to have you on. Thank you.

GREER: Good to see you, Chris.

HAYES: That is ALL IN for this Monday evening on MLK Day. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.