Republicans across the party line are enabling former President Trump`s big lie that the election is stolen. Donald Trump ramps up anti- democratic lies at an Iowa campaign rally. Nuclear engineer for the U.S. Navy and his wife have been charged with trying to share some of the United States` most closely held secrets on submarine technology with another country, according to court documents unsealed on Sunday. Former GOP Rep. Allen West was hospitalized with COVID, is now more dedicated to fighting vaccine mandates.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: So, Eric Clapton, for your dangerous rhetoric on COVID precautions and vaccination, you are tonight`s absolute worst. And also, Bob Marley was better. And that`s tonight`s REID OUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must all demand justice for Ashli and her family.
HAYES: The leader of the Republican Party aligns with insurrection like never before and his followers line up for more.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): If I didn`t accept the endorsement of a person that`s got 91 percent of the re Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn`t be too smart.
HAYES: Then, why a candidate for governor in Texas suffering from COVID is still tweeting anti-vaxx messages from the hospital. Plus, what new polling can say about how the midterms will be won and the remarkable story of an engineer in the U.S. navy caught trying to pass secrets about nuclear subs inside a peanut butter sandwich when ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley is as establishment as an establishment Republican can be. He`s been a significant part of the American political landscape for as long as I`ve been covering politics for decades. First elected to the senate in 1980, Grassley currently serving his seventh term and arguably the most powerful figure in Iowa Republican politics, heck, in Iowa politics.
When last we discussed Senator Grassley on the show just a few short days ago, he had issued a rather tendentious rebuttal to the bombshell report from the Senate Judiciary Committee which tracked a number of new revelations and confirmed details about just how hard Donald Trump tried to effectuate a coup and install himself in power against the will of the people.
And this weekend, Grassley appeared at Trump`s rally in Iowa. And I have to say, what he said was incredible real, rare moment of honesty, utter honesty, something that can often be lacking in the occasionally dishonest trait of politics. Senator Grassley seemingly said exactly what he was thinking as he accepted Trump`s endorsement at that rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRASSLEY: I was born at night but not last night, so if I didn`t accept the endorsement of a person that`s got 91 percent of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn`t be too smart. I`m smart enough to accept that endorsement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: OK, to be clear, that was it. Donald Trump endorses Grassley, calls him on stage. Grassley gets up there says that -- he doesn`t say anything else about Trump, doesn`t say oh he`s such a great guy or he made America great again or anything. He did not say a good word about him because obviously there is nothing good to be said. He simply stated a set of facts that are true. Donald Trump is very popular among Republicans and Senator Chuck Grassley is a Republican. And so, he`s going to stand up there and smile and through a kind of grated teeth accept Trump`s endorsement because Iowa is not Senator Grassley`s state anymore. No matter how many terms this 88-year-old has served, Iowa and the Republican Party belong to Trump.
It doesn`t matter how close he came to murdering American democracy or how eager he is to do it again, which if you`re an elected Republican, you have to assume is at least a possibility more likely a probability. I mean, a national politician doesn`t generally hold a rally in Iowa, the crucial first in the nation caucus state without at least considering a run for the White House. Chuck Grassley knows that and so does Donald Trump.
But the fact of the matter is, even 88-year-old seven-term senators who are in the pantheon of Republican politicians in this country need Trump support or at least the lack of opposition to stay in power, or maybe they just feel like they do frankly I think it`s a little untested if Chuck Grassley told Donald Trump to go to hell what would happen. It`s hard to figure out where perception ends and reality begins. But in the end, it doesn`t really quite matter because Grassley is up there.
He is effectively endorsing Trump as he accepts Trump`s endorsement. And that`s the calculation that Senator Grassley and really the entire party is making. Just listen to Congressman Steve Scalise, Republican for Louisiana, a guy who`s the House Minority Whip, a pretty die-hard MAGA guy generally. It means he`s the second most powerful person in the House. And here he is on Fox News just over the weekend refusing to answer the one question most likely to anger the former president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Do you think the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump?
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): Well, Chris, I`ve been very clear from the beginning. If you look at a number of states, they didn`t follow their state past laws that govern the election for president.
WALLACE: So, you think the election was stolen?
SCALISE: What I said is there are states that didn`t follow their legislatively set rules.
WALLACE: For the last time, I promise, do you think the election was stolen or not?
SCALISE: It`s not just irregular, it`s states that did not follow the laws set which the constitution says they`re supposed to follow. When you see states like Georgia cleaning up some of the mess and people calling that Jim Crow law, that`s a flat-out lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The argument here to the extent there is one, it`s the Hawley-Cruz argument, right? The election was stolen because states made it easier for people to vote while a deadly and highly transmissible virus was killing hundreds of thousands of Americans. As Philip Bump points out in the Washington Post, the subjects here not quite being stated, but basically essentially boils down to the simple argument the election was fraudulent because Donald Trump did not win.
"It`s obviously toxic and dangerous and of course dishonest to claim the 2020 election was riddled with illegally cast votes. It wasn`t. But it`s toxic and dangerous in a different way to suggest the election was tainted by legally cast votes for the candidate you hoped would lose."
And there is some additional context here that is worth remembering. Again, the two bits of sound we played you were over the weekend, right, this is what`s happening right now as I speak to you. After the January 6 insurrection, many members of the upper echelon of Republican politics began to distance themselves from Trump, and then they flock back to his side when it became clear as Grassley so helpfully reminded us with his honesty they cannot win without him.
But while all this is happening, the figure at the center of it, Donald Trump, is not kind to change the subject or moderate his message. He`s actually getting more radical, more extreme about his election loss and the attack on the Capitol. It was kind of shocking months ago when Trump started publicly taunting the police officer who fatally shot Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt on January 6 as she was attempting, as you might remember, to storm through a broken window and into a lobby near where Members of Congress were actually present sheltering with an angry destructive mob at her back. That`s the moment that she lost her life. She was shot by a police officer to prevent her from doing that.
Well, Donald Trump released a statement saying, we know who the officer is. Now, he`s gone a step further and fully taken up the perceived martyrdom of Babbitt`s cause as a political cause. Here he is in a recorded video for her family who are understandably still in mourning over a life tragically lost.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We must all demand justice for Ashli and her family. So, on this solemn occasion, as we celebrate her life, we renew our call for a fair and nonpartisan investigation into the death of Ashli Babbitt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What Babbit`s family -- how Babbitt`s family mourns their loss is really their business, but the ideological purpose of Trump`s involvement here is ultimately about the perceived nobility of what insurrectionist Ashley Babbitt was doing in support of a larger movement to violently overthrow the duly elected government of the United States. And it`s a project Donald Trump remains very committed to when he calls the election rigged and says the insurrection was "A day of protesting the fake election results."
Again, he is endorsing it over and over. He endorsed it at the time, briefly unendorsted it for a second, endorsing it again. Even in the light of all that, we are seeing the Chuck Grassleys of the world and everyone else in the party probably taking his endorsement and defending him on TV.
The larger point here one made by Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine last week among others is a point we`ve cited before in the show. As long as Donald Trump remains the figurehead and king maker and likely nominee the Republican Party, as long as he is the presumptive guy on the ballot in 2024, there is no way to separate the Republican Party as an entity from the authoritarian aspirations of Trump himself.
They are a conduit for those aspirations. They are one and the same. They are the vehicle that he is driving, assisting the Republican Party as a party, as an institution in any capacity is tantamount to enabling Trump`s attempts to subvert American democracy. You cannot separate them.
As two never-Trump conservatives argue in a new essay of the New York Times, the short-term goal of stopping Donald Trump`s second attempt in a coup in 2024 means refusing to cooperate with the Republican political project at all. "Rational Republicans are losing the GOP civil war. The only near-term way to battle pro-Trump extremists is for all of us to team up on key races and overarching political goals with our long-time political opponents, the Democratic Party."
Miles Taylor is one of the co-authors of that guest essay along with former New Jersey Republican Governor Christine Todd Whitman. He previously served in the Department of Homeland Security under President Trump whose leadership he criticized in an anonymous essay and book.
Miles, this struck me as a somewhat interesting and important point particularly for yourself but also for Christine Todd Whitman who is a, you know, a Republican in good standing and had been a Republican good standing even if critical of Donald Trump. I think she still considers herself a Republican, that it`s not enough to criticize and it`s not enough to effectively neutral that actually like this is zero-sum and you have to work for one entity over the other.
MILES TAYLOR, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Yes, I mean, look -- you know, Chris, I`ll be honest with you. This is not an easy thing for either Christie or I to say. I mean, we`re lifelong Republicans. We wanted the party to succeed. But you said it earlier is that it`s become the cult of personality, the party of Donald Trump, and what`s worse, an authoritarian institution.
And again, I don`t say that lightly. I feel that angry phone calls and messages from fellow Republican friends today who said come on, Trump is already out of office, what do you mean we shouldn`t retake the House or the Senate? My point is what we`re talking about inside the GOP is that these are not real Republicans anymore. They certainly haven`t earned it. And then, getting the leadership of the Congress back would pose a danger to the country.
So, what do I mean specifically about that not real Republicans -- we used to define what it meant to be conservative as free minds, free markets, and free people. Right now, what we`re seeing the party is closed minds, an approach towards markets that`s protectionists, and not an approach that emphasizes free people, but again authoritarianism in the style of Donald Trump.
And as I noted, they haven`t earned taking back the Congress. They haven`t worked in bipartisan fashion. All they`ve done is continue to spout Trump`s lies. And the danger is obvious to all of us, Chris, especially if Kevin McCarthy is speaker of the House in the lead up to the 2024 election. Given everything we saw them try to do to subvert the last election, we cannot trust my own party to lead the House of Representatives in the lead up to 2024.
HAYES: You just said you fielded angry phone calls. Like, who`s left that`s persuadable on this? Like, when you write a piece in The New York Times -- and I`m glad you did and I think it was the correct thing to do morally -- is anyone -- like, are there people in the persuadable middle in the echelons of the Republican Party who are open to seeing this or is everyone now so polarized in the sort of like, MAGA chatter or never-Trumper world?
TAYLOR: Yes. You know, Chris, that`s a really good question. No one has ever asked me that question. And I think the answer is pretty clear. There are very few Republicans left that can be persuaded. The battle lines have been drawn. And there`s no question that the MAGA side and the GOP civil war is the bigger side.
But that`s not actually what`s significant here for what Christy Todd Whitman and i are discussing what`s significant is that there are actually, even though it`s a smaller group, millions of rational Republicans, what I call the rational remnants of the GOP who are a relatively silent cohort but who also did throw the last election in large part for Joe Biden and who still can be mobilized in these key races.
So, what we`re saying is those Republicans who couldn`t support Donald Trump, couldn`t stomach it, we now are calling on them to get involved in their Congressional races, in their Senate races, to do the same to keep the Trump GOP out of power in this next cycle. And we think we can do that.
In fact, this week, we`re going to release a slate of those candidates unifying democrats, a few courageous Republicans that we want to protect, and some independents that are going to be running under the new America banner that we hope will be a firewall against Kevin McCarthy becoming the Speaker of the House.
HAYES: There`s also -- I mean, there`s also the explicit project happening in the state level. This is from the USA Today. At least two-thirds of the 15 declared contenders seeking to be Republican nominee for secretary of state in five battlegrounds, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin have either said the 2020 election was stolen or cast doubt on the results according to a Reuters investigation. We`re trying to get America first secretaries of state elected throughout the country, we`re concentrating in swing states, said Jim Marchant a Republican candidate for Nevada Secretary of State. What do you think about that?
TAYLOR: Yes, I mean, what I think about that, Chris, is we`ve got Halloween coming up. And I read stuff like that and I think it`s spooky as hell. I think that`s scarier than anything I`ve seen on Netflix in the lead-up to these holidays. And that`s really because this is not just a federal issue.
I mean, the big lie has ceded itself deeply into communities around the country and these state and local races that are so important. I mean, you got to think political parties are built from the ground up and not the top down.
So, right now, at the grassroots of the Republican Party, the MAGA big lie has infected the discourse and it`s really become a lit litmus test for these candidates who are running for these offices that again as you know are going to be the offices that oversee the administration of our elections the integrity of our vote. That is very scary to me.
I used to work on election security. I oversaw those efforts at the Department of Homeland Security. I know for a fact we put in place very, very good systems such that Christopher Krebs, my colleague was right when he said the 2020 election was one of the most secure in American history.
But if we`ve got secretaries of state around the country that want to meddle in the elections the way these people do and the way Trump wants them to, we`re not going to see elections that are nearly as secure.
HAYES: All right, Miles Taylor, thank you so much.
TAYLOR: Thanks, Chris.
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is a Democrat representing California`s 19th Congressional District. She sits on the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack. She also serves as impeachment manager in Donald Trump`s first impeachment and she joins me now.
Congresswoman, a lot of people are looking to your committee as this one institutional bulwark against all these. I mean, obviously, there`s the bulwark of winning elections but there`s an uphill battle in many respects there preserving the integrity finding accountability for January 6th. Where is the committee right now as that subpoena deadline passed and a lot of sort of hand-wringing and worry about whether this will mean a kind of open defiance that that steals the power from what you`re trying to do?
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, we`re very committed to getting all the evidence that we are seeking and that we need to paint the complete picture of what happened on the 6th and leading up to the 6th. We`ve had quite a few people come in voluntarily to the committee. We`ve received thousands and thousands of pages of documents. We are engaging with the lawyers of three of the four individuals who have been subpoenaed. I think the ones you`re referring to but other subpoenas are issuing.
So, it`s a mixed bag. We`re prepared to do everything to use every tool that we have to get compliance with these lawfully issued subpoenas. It`s really pretty terrible that someone would just decline like Mr. Bannon uh for no valid reason to just refuse to comply with these subpoenas. It`s outrageous.
HAYES: So, when you say three or four, the three that you`re talking to, Dan Scavino, Kash Patel, and Meadows, those are the three whose lawyers have engaged and Bannon is the one who`s not engaging at all?
LOFGREN: Correct. He sent a letter saying he does not intend to comply. So, there`s no reason for that. He -- you know, to the extent that there is executive privilege, it`s held by the current president, not a former president, and it`s about a close allies employees. Mr. Bannon wasn`t employee during the time in question. I don`t think he has any claim whatsoever for this.
HAYES: I want to play you something -- I mean, part of what makes this take on some added urgency, I think the project that you`re engaged in both in terms of enforcing the subpoenas but the deeper project is that, you know, it`s unfolding for our eyes. I want to show you what the -- what the ex- president Donald Trump said this weekend at a rally, right, that he wants to define the country`s current politics along an axis of the big lie. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The single biggest issue, the issue that gets the most -- the most poll, the most respect, the biggest cheers is talking about the election fraud of 2020 presidential election. Nobody has ever seen anything like it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I mean, I think that`s a lie. Actually, I think it`s a self-serving lie because people are actually enthused about other things. But it does present the problem that he intends to focus all the attention of the Republican Party on the big lie.
LOFGREN: Yes, pretty obviously that`s his point that somehow he was a victim. There`s no evidence for this. But when you have propaganda and lies, you don`t need evidence. You`re engaged in selling a lie and having people believe it. That`s what`s happened with many people and the former president. It`s very dangerous. If people don`t have any faith in the United States and our systems, it undercuts our democratic republic which i think may also be one of the former President`s goals.
HAYES: Congressman Zoe Lofgren who serves on that committee, thank you so much for your time.
LOFGREN: Thank you.
HAYES: As a Republican Party`s transformation into a now a kind of party of insurrection, right, the vehicle for another attempt at it, as it increasingly poses a threat to American democracy, the coming midterm elections, a little more than a year from now, could be crucial in protecting American democracy. And for Democrats, the President`s approval rating is a fairly reliable predictor for how those midterm elections go.
We just got to look at the latest numbers and what they mean for Democrats big D and little D looking to hold on to power, after this.
HAYES: The pattern going back through most of modern American politics is that parties with unified governance holding the House and the Senate and the White House face a real uphill battle in the midterm elections. There`s a kind of natural gravity moving against the party in power especially unified power.
We saw it in 1994 when Bill Clinton`s approval rating was at 46 and Democrats lost 53 seats in the House. We saw it again in 2010. Barack Obama`s approval was just 45. The Democratic majority lost a record 63 House seats. Even three years ago, in 2018, Donald Trump`s approval rating was 40 percent and the Republican Party lost 40 House seats.
Right now, the Democrats have unified government but of course the slimmest of majorities. And with that power, they`re trying to get essentially total consensus to pass very ambitious legislation, both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the full Build Back Better agenda. And they are doing it as the president`s approval rating, which is the best predictor of future electoral performance, has gone to about 45 percent. That`s about what you saw with Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
The question now is what does that mean for the party, how avoidable is this, how much is it tied to their current legislative agenda, and what do the Democrats have to do in the next year to avoid blistering midterm losses? Fernand Amandi is a Democratic pollster based in Florida and he joins me now.
First let`s start on the -- with the kind of provocation here which is that all of this stuff is structural and it doesn`t really matter what the party does. That that basically, the nature of the structure -- the sort of structural polarization in American politics means that you`ve got each party`s base is around 40, 45 percent and then the independents tend to swing against whoever`s in power so you end up with what these numbers look like. What do you think of that as a theory?
FERNAND AMANDI, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: You know, Chris, I think there is some truth to that. But fundamentally, what makes this different in the historical aberration sense maybe a prior midterm cycle where those patterns were consistent. I think facing right now, the problem with the COVID-19 pandemic which is according to the polling I`m seeing and everybody else is looking at, that is the be all end all issue in America today.
And for better or for worse, you know, all of the sausage-making the back and forth on reconciliation and the infrastructure battles are not touching the erogenous zones, if you will, of the American voter on what they`re most concerned about and it is COVID. And to the extent that there is a messaging war room or political war room in the White House these days, I think the only thing that should be on the wall is it`s the COVID-19 stupid.
Because you see a direct correlation crisp between President Biden`s rising approval rating peaking really in the mid-May, late May, June period of this past summer when it looked like we were getting back to normal. But as the Delta summer happens, what happens is he started to go back down. I think that`s fundamentally the dynamic that you`re seeing play out and why we see some of these sagging approval ratings for the president.
HAYES: Yes. I like that as a kind of monocausal, you know, theory here. I just -- I mean, first of all, it jives with just my own personal like, feeling thermometers. Like, I was feeling really psyched in May and June and then really upset that Delta was wreaking the havoc it was in, you know, in August and September. So, I think there`s a lot to that.
And also, I think, in some ways that`s a positive story for the White House in this respect which is to the extent you can actually get the country vaccinated and community suppression suppressed that you have a June next year, a summer next year that feels like the first genuinely post-COVID summer there`s political benefit there and that`s basically what you`re theorizing.
AMANDI: That`s exactly right. I mean, again, it does come back to that filter of COVID. Even the talk about infrastructure now, we were doing some focus groups the other day and we were talking about some of the elements of the infrastructure bill and how it would fix you know America`s corroding infrastructure bridges roads and tunnels. And somebody said, how are they going to fix it when I can`t even get materials to fix my house because of the supply chain issues.
And again, I think it comes back to what was President Biden`s central argument in the campaign that he would be able to better litigate COVID in the fiasco and the disaster that the Trump administration oversaw, a lot of people myself included, think COVID is ultimately what prevented Trump from getting that second term.
And the sooner Biden can laser focus on that, make sure those booster shots are out, that sense of confidence is coming back to the American people, not those just in the beltway, us junkies who follow the particulars of legislation, but the sense of that national animus, if it starts to rise again, I think you can get these numbers back.
HAYES: Yes. And I think that the point about supply chain interruptions -- all that stuff flows from COVID, right? I mean, basically, we had this once-in-a-century disruption to everything in around the world. You know, economic life, personal life, family, all this stuff. The undisruption of it, the sort of reclaiming whatever`s on the other side is like a fitful and difficult process. And I think there was some hope that it wouldn`t be, but it clearly is.
The other thing i think is interesting is this polling about the one of the signature Democratic initiatives which is this child tax credit, right? So, you`ve got tens of millions of home -- of families with young children now getting direct payments to the government, direct deposit. It`s doing great things on child poverty. It`s making it easier for folks to afford child care or things like that.
And when you look at the polling, you know, 39 percent say had a major impact on financial security was pretty good, only 38 of those polled credit Biden for the payments. What do you make of that number?
Well, what I make of it is the numbers don`t lie. And I think what we`re seeing there is a testament to what the American voter is saying. They simply do not know. And the Biden administration for better or for worse has not made that case specifically around these child tax credits and how they`re impacting the American people`s lives and making their lives better. We have seen just this overwhelming information zone of topics and issues whether it be COVID, Afghanistan, the battle over saving democracy. And it`s really hard for the average everyday voter to really zero in on these things.
So, as soon as I think they can get back, refocus, re-engage, that`s where we saw Biden`s numbers rise, that`s going to be the path back to getting these numbers above water which to your point earlier are critical if the Democrats want to hold on to the House and the Senate in 2022.
HAYES: All right, Fernand Amandi, thank you very much.
AMANDI: Thank you.
HAYES: Here`s a question for you. Have you ever hid an SD card with nuclear secrets in a peanut butter sandwich and then try to sell it to a foreign country for tens of thousand dollars in cryptocurrency only to find out it was the FBI sticking you all along? That scoring and the charges against a Navy engineer and his wife, after this.
HAYES: April 1st of last year, a U.S. Navy nuclear engineer with top security clearance named Jonathan Toebbe mailed a brown envelope to a foreign nation. Toebbe`s envelope contained restricted navy documents, an SD card with instructions how to reply, and a message saying in part, I apologize for this poor translation into your language. Please forward this letter to your military intelligence agency. I believe this information will be of great value to your nation. This is not a hoax.
Several months later, that package made its way to an FBI attache in the country. And the very next week, the FBI began its correspondence with Jonathan Toebbe posing as agents of that government he had reached out to. They gained Toebbe`s trust by placing a signal at a location associated with the foreign government in Washington D.C.
They also sent an initial payment of $10,000 in the form of a cryptocurrency called Monero. Toebbe asked them for $100,000 in exchange for more documents containing confidential U.S. Navy information including printouts, digital media files, containing technical details, operations manuals and performance reports.
Toebbe and the undercut undercover FBI agents went on to arrange a series of drop-offs. The first was in West Virginia where Toebbe with the assistance of his wife Diana left an SD card wrapped in plastic and placed between two slices of bread on half a peanut butter sandwich. The FBI sent Toebbe $20,000 in cryptocurrency in exchange for the information on that card which included documents containing militarily sensitive design elements operating parameters and performance characteristics of Virginia- class submarine reactors.
Those submarines run on nuclear power and deploy cruise missiles. The next drop-off took place in South Central Pennsylvania. This time, Toebbe hid the SD card in a sealed band-aid wrapper. After that successful exchange, Toebbe essentially asked for advice on how to be a better spy, writing, "Please tell me if i make a mistake or if you have advice on how to accomplish a task that I can improve my skills and reduce our shared risk."
He also detailed the thousands of pages of classified documents he still had in his possession and asked for a total of $5 million for them. The final successful drop-off happened in Eastern Virginia where Toebbe concealed an SD card in a chewing gum package containing schematic designs for the Virginia class submarine.
At that point, the FBI had seen enough. This weekend, they arrested Jonathan and Diana Toebbe in West Virginia after the Toebbe`s placed another SD card at a pre-range drop site. They will appear in federal court tomorrow. Frank Figliuzzi is a former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI. He`s now an MSNBC National Security Contributor.
Frank, great to have you in the program. This was what you did for years is run the office that was dealing with this. What do you -- what is your reaction to the details of this story?
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first, thank god this turned out all right for the United States. This was a narrowly averted disaster in terms of the plans, the workings of a Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarine that contains, Chris, the latest in stealth technology. It`s a fast attack sub.
What fascinates me about this and what I know reporters have been working on all day, right, is what country was it yes that actually cooperated and turned us on to this, right? This is fairly rare. I mean, I`ve seen situations throughout my career, even adversaries thinking this is too good to be true. This must be a provocation. We`re going to report this to the FBI.
I`ve seen every adversary do that. But this one looks like it fully cooperated and you know why. They`re -- in the charging documents, it actually says that country agreed to fly -- at the request of the bad guys, they agreed to fly a signal over what sounds like its embassy in Washington on Memorial Day Weekend of 2020. The FBI said hey they`re asking us -- they`re asking our undercover. Can you fly a signal -- can you put a signal up in D.C. over your building, and they said yes and they did.
It`s a pretty cool story but it`s also a message here that this happens way too often. And the message of course is espionage doesn`t end well for the people trying to do it.
HAYES: Well, OK, there`s a few things here. One is I`m obsessed with who the country is, right? Because if it -- like if it`s an allied country, like what a random weird thing to do, you know, to just reach out to some allied country and say like I want to spy for you, right? And if it`s an adversary or someone that we have an adversarial relationship with, then there`s the question of like, why they cooperate as much they do. So, there`s that.
And then there`s the motivation question. You know, having you know done some reporting on counterintelligence and having you know read about Aldrich Ames and these sort of famous stories, you know, usually it`s sort of ideological affiliation or money. And I guess it`s money here, but it`s -- the motivation here is really unclear. Have you ever seen someone ex- nihilo do this before where they just make an approach?
FIGLIUZZI: Well, the FBI has studied literally every single person in history convicted of espionage in the United States. And there are definite commonalities here. Ego, bitterness, and greed are major factors. So, I think as we dig into this, we`re going to find that they`re bitter about, something they weren`t treated right, they were separated from service, something like that.
But I`ll tell you what`s really odd is a married couple agreeing to do it together simultaneously, very, very strange. As to the country, we`re all digging on this, right? It`s a country they felt might benefit from our nuclear technology.
Now, I will note there`s a line in the charging document about where one of them says to the country or the undercover agent, maybe someday we`ll stumble over each other at a cafe and share a bottle of wine. That sounds cafe and wine, like a certain country to me, but we`ll have to find out.
HAYES: OK, so how often are there -- I mean, I guess there`s no like survey at a given moment you could tell us like how often this is. But you`ve got -- you know, you`ve got what, over a million people with top-secret -- top- secret security clearance. You got huge -- you`ve got both the direct employees, you`ve got the intelligence agencies, you`ve got -- and then you`ve got contractors, right? Like, you know --
HAYES: What -- how many people at a given time are engaged in this kind of thing or is it just exceedingly rare?
FIGLIUZZI: I wish I could tell you it was exceedingly rare. It`s not. And many of these people do get approached and an undercover agent is inserted without getting into the highly classified details of how our agencies know what`s happening when someone reaches out to a diplomatic establishment of a (AUDIO GAP) and then there`s cooperation that occurs. So, these get intercepted and quietly taken down often. It`s not rare enough in my opinion.
And the question for the Intelligence Community and FBI Counterintelligence is how to prevent people from even thinking about it in the first place. We spent a great deal of time in my career doing defensive briefings. Don`t let this happen to you. Report the person you think exhibits these symbols, these signs. That`s where it comes in. It didn`t work in this case, but the undercover technique did.
HAYES: I will also say that it does show a very, very clear and compelling use case for cryptocurrency which is, you know, untraceable payments from your foreign spymaster, so that`s something to consider as well. Frank Figliuzzi, thank you so much for your time.
HAYES: First it was Hydroxychloroquine, then it was Ivermectin, and now, anti-vaxxers have latched on to the Regeneron antibody treatment. But it isn`t quite the miracle answer they think it is. I`ll explain why next.
HAYES: Over the weekend, Republican Texas Gubernatorial Candidate Allen West announced that he had a fairly serious case of COVID. He announced it in Twitter in a series of tweets. He and his wife both contracted it although she only she had been vaccinated. And he announced he was going to be admitted to the hospital because his blood oxygen was low.
Now, West is a somewhat notorious figure. He retired from the Army after he was fined for using improper interrogation methods on an Iraqi policeman. He was briefly a Florida congressman where he`s a member of the far-right tea party caucus and then he got turfed out. He then moved to Texas here he was elected chair of the statewide Texas Republican Party before resigning that position so he could challenge the current Republican Governor Greg Abbott who he`s going to primary.
And West`s approach to COVID has been what you would expect from a far- right figure in America railing against the vaccine and mandates while promoting alternative treatment. And when West tested positive, he tweeted he was "Already taking the malaria drug Hydroxychloroquine and the parasite drug Ivermectin protocols" two things that have not been established in the data to help stop COVID. After he was hospitalized, he said he underwent monoclonal antibody infusion therapy and the results were immediate.
Now, this is great news. We obviously want everyone to get better. One of the more bizarre and grimly fascinating aspects of the far rights approach to covet is they`re constantly searching for a way for COVID to be not that big of a deal. And that`s led them to very strange obsession, strange obsessions with certain treatments like the aforementioned hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, and monoclonal antibodies over the more effective vaccines.
Now, just to be very clear here, unlike hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, monoclonal antibodies appear to work. They are actually shown to effectively fight COVID in the data that we have. They are authorized, I think, under emergency use authorization of the FBI -- FDA which explains that monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system`s ability to fight off harmful antigens such as viruses so they`re manufacturing antibodies proteins that mimic the immune system`s ability to fight off harmful antigen such as viruses.
So, they`re manufacturing antibodies proteins, putting them to fight the virus directly in your blood and it seems to work. It`s how Donald Trump was treated for COVID before we had vaccines. But there are also some real downsides to monoclonal antibodies as a kind of scalable solution for this once-in-a-century pandemic.
While treatment is free for patients, it costs the government which is agreed to purchase these in bulk, more than $2,000 a dose, right? That`s compared to around $20.00 for one Pfizer vaccine dose or 100 times what a vaccine dose costs the government. And monoclonal antibodies have to administer intravenously. It`s not a pill or a shot like the vaccine.
Again, it`s good people can get this treatment and it does seem effective. I`m happy that Allen West was able to get it and it seemed to help him out. West then having gotten this treatment turned around and said, "After this experience, I am even more dedicated to fighting against vaccine mandates. Instead of enriching the pockets of big pharma and corrupt bureaucrats and politicians, we should be advocating the monoclonal antibody infusion therapy."
Wait a second, wait a second, wait a second, wait a second. Just to reiterate. Big pharma makes a vaccine, big pharma also makes the monoclonal antibodies, and charges 100 times the vaccine cost to the federal government. This is -- that tweet from Allen West is the logical endpoint of this insane destructive nonsense the writers pursued ever since COVID first appeared. There has to be some secret cure they are not telling you about because it`s not that big a deal and all of this to prove Donald Trump was right, I guess.
I mean, good luck with that. I genuinely hope Allen West along with everyone suffering from COVID right now gets the treatment they need, and together we fight this virus.
HAYES: Nearly three weeks, the FDA approved COVID booster shots for seniors and high risk individuals in an effort to provide more protection to the people who need it the most. Now, even though only Pfizer booster shots has been approved, the number of people getting booster shots has surpassed the number of people getting their initial vaccination doses.
But the booster are not without controversy. Today, Doctors Without Borders called only the U.S. to "Stop hoarding excess COVID-19 doses and share the vaccines with the rest of the world." So, to balance the need to keep Americans as safe as possible the need to vaccinate the world, Dr. Francis Collins has been the director of the National Institutes for Health for more than a decade. And he joins me now.
Dr. Collins, there is been a really interesting debate about the booster. And I was -- I was sort of thankful Doctors Without Borders put the statement out today because it seemed to me they named the subtext of that debate. It seems the data shows there is some effect for folks particularly those at high risk of a booster, some not enormous, but a real effect.
The argument against it seems to be entirely about this sort of equity question. How do you think about this?
DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Well, I`m glad we are talking about it, Chris. I`m somebody who has dedicated a lot of my efforts and medical research to the global problems, not just the domestic ones. So, I care a lot about this, too.
But I think this is turning out to be a false dichotomy where we don`t have to say one or the other. We can do both end. We at the United States level have already donated over one billion doses of vaccines to the rest of the world, more than the rest of the world combined. We are the largest donor by far. And the boosters we`re talking about might be 10 percent of that. So, it`s not as if this is like doing a terrible number on the global supply.
And let`s keep in mind, we the United States also, sadly, have the highest death rate of any country in the world from COVID-19. And we have people who are over 65 are in high risk situations where the vaccine effectiveness is starting to wane a bit, and they`re at risk. Could we really turn our back on them and say, no, sorry, we can`t help you.
We have to push the manufacturing. We`re doing that both in the U.S. and in Europe, and with our partners in Asia, India, Australia, Japan, as well, as a somewhat longer-term boosting vaccine manufacturing in Africa. We need more of that capability. But we`re on top of all that.
So, I wish people including Doctors Without Borders wouldn`t put this forward as an either or. It ought to be on both end.
HAYES: Well, so let me -- just two things there. One is, the billion doses, is that what we`ve committed to or that`s what we shipped?
COLLINS: We have shipped, I believe, about 115 million doses. We`ve committed another billion. 500 million of those supposed to be sent out by about the end of this year, and another 500 million in 2022.
HAYES: Yes. No, I just want to make that distinction because I`ve learned the hard way from say falling particularly climate that, you know, commitment and shipped or commitments and meeting commitments sometimes there`s a little space between those two.
I mean, the issue right now, right is are we at a pace fast enough and the rest of the world, particularly the global south, poorer countries, to get people vaccinated that sort of suppress community transmission and another thing -- another phenomenon like Delta?
COLLINS: Well, you`re exactly right about that. Because we even have to have some self-interest here enlightened, I hope, not to see this virus continue to spread in other parts of the world where variants like Delta can arise again. So, we want to be sure both for benevolent reasons, and for also trying to end the arrival of new variants that this happens.
But I think -- the other thing we have to think about is the challenge of actually getting the vaccines distributed in low and middle income countries is not trivial. We`re doing everything we can to help with that. But if right now, there were nine billion doses, it would be really difficult to get them all into arms. We need to push that part really hard too.
HAYES: So, on the -- on the question of the data about people coming for booster shots exceeding those getting initial doses is so striking to me, because I do think it`s an example of the -- of the kind of -- the challenge we face, right, which is that, the further we go, the more people that get their first shot every day, the more that people not getting the shot shrinks and shrinks into a group that really doesn`t want it, right?
And we`re now in that -- we`re getting closer to that group and questions about how to reach that group and whether we can get enough of them to get something that looks like herd immunity is really the open question that I wonder how -- if you think we have an answer to.
COLLINS: Well, it is ironic, indeed, isn`t it, Chris, that we have vaccines that are safe and effective, and they`re still almost 70 million people who have not decided to even get that first dose, even when they see the data that more than 1000 people are dying every day in the U.S. and virtually all of those are unvaccinated?
It just boggles my mind. I`m a scientist, I`m a doctor, I`m not a politician, but somehow this is all gotten tangled up, and people have lost their grip on evidence of what ought to be used to make a decision like this. I`m glad we have mandates. I wish they weren`t necessary. But it does look as if they`re working, Chris.
I mean, look, United Airlines, 99 percent of their staff are now vaccinated. Rutgers University, pretty close to that. People don`t like them, people object to them, people say you`re treading on my freedom. But you know, freedom has responsibilities, not just rights. And if this is what we have to do to get to the point where this virus is sent packing, well, that`s up to all of us to get there.
And nobody can say, well, it`s not my problem. It`s all of our problems. And maybe mandates are the way to solve it.
HAYES: Finally, Doctor, you`ve announced you`re stepping down at the end of this year, is that right?
COLLINS: That is correct. After more than 12 years and working for three presidents, I think it`s time for some new leadership with some new vision. And so, I let the president know, by the end of the year, he`ll have a chance to find somebody else to come and lead this amazing organization, which has been a great privilege for me to lead.
And I am one of those who will tell you public service is the most wonderful kind of experience you can have. And I hope a lot of people listening will hear that and maybe look for that opportunity for themselves.
HAYES: All right, well, thank you both for what you`ve done, Doctor, and for joining us tonight. Dr. Francis Collins, be well.
COLLINS: Glad to be with you, Chris. Be well yourself.
HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Monday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.