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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 10/28/21

Guests: Chris Murphy, Lyz Lenz, Lisa Lerer, Michael Lewis


President Joe Biden unveils his new $1.75 trillion spending package. Today, the trial began against the organizers of the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville that killed Heather Heyer. Early voting is underway in key Virginia Governor`s race. Big oil executives face Congress over Climate Crisis.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: The belief that it`s your right to use team- sanctioned racism to root for the home team, that is the absolute worst. And that`s tonight`s "REIDOUT." ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts right now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one got everything they wanted including me, but that`s what compromise is.

HAYES: As the Build Back Better plan finally approaches a vote, tonight, the long view of what this means and how he got here.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Your vote tomorrow will decide which party controls the United States Senate.

HAYES: Then, the historic civil trial of white supremacists begins in Charlottesville.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not non-violent. We`ll kill these people if we have to.

HAYES: We`ll go inside the courtroom where this guy defending himself favorably cites Mein Kampf.

HAYES: Plus, fossil fuel executive faced Congress over climate change disinformation.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Some of us have to actually live the future that you all are setting on fire for us.

HAYES: And author Michael Lewis on the missed opportunities of America`s failed COVID response when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. You know there`s a cliche you hear a lot from people who cover politics like myself. I`m sure I`ve used it on their show. It`s got a bunch of different formulations but it goes something like this. If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made.

It`s a cliche you`ve probably heard of. There`s a reason it`s a cliche and that has endured. Millions upon millions of meat-eating people across the world enjoy sausage. I am one of them. It`s delicious. But you 100 percent do not want to know what is in it or watch how it is made.

The same can be said for legislation. You might be very happy with the end result, you might not like it that much, but you really don`t want anything to do with the process of actually watching it get made. So, we`re seeing that on display right now with the Democrats` big climate social spending bill.

And just to level with you, our view on this editorially is generally not to cover the daily ins and outs of the negotiations because even as someone who covers us for a living, I find it maddening. I personally find it extremely confusing and intolerable and we`ll set up a segment and be like oh, we`re going to do something on the billionaires tax tonight, and then it`s like, billionaires tax is gone, so OK, fine.

That said, there is some real tangible news today worth covering and taking a moment to think about, all right. The Democrats have unveiled the new compromise version of the bill. It`s got the White House deal of approval. This version they think -- again, who knows might actually be able to become law. As of now, it has $1.75 trillion price tag, again, over 10 years. It includes a bunch of provisions on the climate and Medicare and the ACA and child care, but it leaves out some of the most popular proposals Democrats have been championing for years. I`m going to get to more of that in a moment.

But before we do all that, it is probably important to just take a step back, exempt ourselves from the relentless presentism of the news cycle, and assess how we got to this point where the Democrats have slashed this proposed $3.5 trillion agenda in half, but also where they`re considering spending $1.75 trillion on social welfare programs and climate at all.

Think back to 11 months ago. You`ll remember, Joe Biden was elected president. It took about two weeks to count the votes. We didn`t know what was going to happen. We did know basically on election night the Democrats were likely to lose House seats. And it looked touch and go there. And it also looked very much like Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was going to remain the Senate Majority Leader.

It wasn`t even clear, if you`ll remember, in the beginning, those Georgia races were going to go to a runoff. In other words, President Biden was going to be presiding over divided congress. And he would be a kind of lame-duck from the start unable to pass any major legislation. But thanks in large part to a truly impressive get out the vote effort and very, very well-run campaigns by two candidates, combined with Donald Trump very publicly imploding over his faults and increasingly desperate claims of voter fraud, democrats managed to defy the odds to win both runoff Senate races in Georgia, remarkable and improbable.

January 5th, that happened, and it secured them unified control of the government at least both houses of Congress and the White House. With that control, suddenly there was a kind of new vision of what the future could be. There was hope that President Biden could bring about some real lasting change in the country.

I mean, here is the newly anointed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York back in January.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We have turned the page to a new chapter in the history of our democracy. And I am full of hope this will be an exceptionally busy and consequential period for the United States Senate. There is much to do and we are ready to get to work.



HAYES: And that hope was made good. It was -- it was a paid down as it were, cashed out by the very swift passage of a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill which seemed to signal the Democrats were willing to embrace progressive policies. There was thousands of dollars for families in checks in COVID relief that came in that bill, an extension of COVID unemployment insurance and a whole bunch of stuff, money for schools and for transportation in the big cities that were bleeding out from COVID, right?

Even as Biden who ran as the moderate pragmatic candidate was overseeing the agenda, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party was ascended and was certainly ascendant intellectually in terms of how the party was thinking about things. I mean, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, right, the self-identified Democratic socialist, probably the left-most member of the caucus was in charge of the budget.

And progressives in the House were bullish on pressing broad agenda addressing climate change and reducing income inequality by taxing the very wealthy and also expanding the social safety net to look more like our pure wealthy democracies. And there was also a palpable feeling, and I say this as someone who covered the Barack Obama years, that Democrats had learned from some of the mistakes of the Obama years. That they were not going to get bogged down in bad-faith arguments from the deficit hawks crucially or those that would demand consensus with increasingly radicalized Republican Party.

A star to be a real sense at least among the least cynical observers out there that Joe Biden could oversee the kind of transformational presidencies we saw under presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.

Now, the cynics or the skeptics, let`s say, have ultimately been pruned right in certain ways. It is pretty clear whatever the Democrats do accomplish and it could be a lot, it won`t be the scale of the new deal of the great society, two massively consequential political agendas that reshape the American economy and social contract for decades. But there`s also a pretty clear reason for those scale-backed expectations which in some ways never made sense to begin with.

Here is a snapshot of some of the Senate majorities under presidents FDR and LBJ when these men accomplish some of the most impressive social welfare packages. They had overwhelming Democratic majorities, enormous. You know, two-thirds in the Senate.

Here`s the current make of the Senate in case you forgot. It`s a 50-50 split with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tie-breaking vote. And this narrowest of all possible majorities means that the most conservative Democratic senators, their names are familiar to us all, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have total veto power over the entire agenda.

And the two have spent the past few months in a truly brain-goringly maddening fashion chipping away at the Democrats big ambitious priorities, demanding their party do increasingly less and less for no discernible reason other than an ideological aversion to spending money to make material conditions better for people and or perhaps a desire to please their corporate donors who don`t like some of this stuff.

So, that brings us to our current moment. Democrats have unveiled their new compromise bill. Thanks to Manchin and Sinema, it doesn`t contain some of the most broadly popular proposals democrats have floated. For instance, letting Medicare negotiate drug prices. The congressional budget office estimates it would save, save less money for the government fiscally responsible, save $450 billion over 10 years, and I don`t know, is it popular? Oh yes, it is. Favored by 83 percent of the American public including 82 percent of independence and 71 of Republicans. It seems like a thing you`d want to do.

Or a paid family leave plan despite the fact the U.S. is one of only seven, count them seven countries in that big, big, big world of ours that does not at the very least offer paid leave to new mothers who just had a baby.

So, Manchin and Sinema have kneecapped some very popular provisions from the bill, political ramifications from that decision remain to be seen. Although, apparently, it has some vulnerable House Democrats worried. President Biden`s approval rating has taken a bit of a dive during these ugly public negotiations. You probably know that. But it is also worth reminding people that before January 6, Donald Trump`s lowest approval rating was not during his first impeachment or Charlottesville, it was in December 2017 when -- what was going on then? Republicans were publicly negotiating their wildly unpopular tax cuts because nobody likes watching the sausage get made.

Listen, I think it`s fair to say many of the compromises along the way served only to make the legislation both materially worse and less popular, but also it is the case. That $1.75 trillion package is a lot. It`s the largest climate investment I`ve ever covered in my life. In fact, it seems increasingly possible.


Here`s the bullish case. One year from now, as we approach the midterms, and again, get out of the day-to-day momentum of the news cycle, where are things going to be next fall. Will we have vaccinated ourselves somewhere close to normal. Will we have put a stake through the heart of COVID? Will President Biden be overseeing an economy that is appreciably better than the one hes inherited with the supply of chain kinks having worked out and wages rising and unemployment diminished and growth high?

Will people feel in their lives the material effects of child care subsidies and a renewable a child tax credit thanks the ambitious bills that were ushered through with the nearest possible majority in the Senate? All that in broad strokes is not only a real possibility, it even might be a likely outcome. That`s where I`m choosing to look at where things stand right now.

Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut is one of the senators who will decide the fate of that social spending package and he joins me now. How are you thinking about today`s development, Senator?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I think that what you are seeing come together is extraordinary and historic. And I think you are right to look at this year as a whole. I think Joe Biden`s first year will go down as possibly the most consequential and impactful first year of any president in our lifetime.

He has cut childhood poverty in half because of the American Rescue Plan. He will have pass the biggest one-time investment in infrastructure rebuilding roads, bridges, the electrical grid, the biggest investment ever in infrastructure in the country`s history. And through the Build Back Better agenda, universal pre-k, a cap on child care costs, as you mentioned, by a mile, the biggest investment in clean energy in the nation`s history. And by the way, an increase in taxes on corporations and millionaires and billionaires to pay for it all so that we are not borrowing on our children in order to pay for these investments today.

Yes, there are big important things that aren`t in this bill, but taken together with the infrastructure bill and the rescue plan. Man, I don`t know that you can match up another president in their first year who`s made a bigger impact on people`s lives.

HAYES: I want to talk about the drug -- the drug pricing aspect of this because, you know, I got to say, I think you know, you`re on board with this. You`d vote for it tomorrow, right? I don`t think Chris Murphy of Connecticut has been the in the problem here. But this is what Elissa Slotkin said who is in a swing district in Michigan.

"No normal person can understand why we can`t negotiate for drug prices, so what they see when we can`t pass that year after year is greed, and I have no problem saying I`m frustrated the other side of the aisle, but in this case, my own party because that one is just a simple thing to do."

And one of the dynamics I think to think about here is -- which is a little inverted from things that I`ve covered before is you`ve got swing district members saying like please, please this polls well in my district, I ran on this, essentially being voted -- vetoed by like two senators who were like no.

MURPHY: Yes, but that`s the consequence of a 50-50 Senate. I mean, this is the slimmest Democratic majority in the history of the country. And this --

HAYES: Well, definitionally.

MUPHY: -- slimmest of all majorities will have by the end of the year passed -- definitionally -- will have passed the most consequential set of social policies in our lifetime. I think that you need to stay tuned on the question of prescription drug cost controls. We were negotiating throughout the day to add some of those provisions back including some negotiation of prescription drugs.

I would not be surprised if by Monday or Tuesday, when the House brings up this bill prescription drug reform including negotiation, maybe not all of the negotiation the progressives would want but significant negotiation of prices is in that bill.

HAYES: That`s interesting. It gets to another thing. And I`m going to now having done the sausage metaphor going to ask about how like a question about how you stuff the meat in the casing, OK. One of the things that`s fascinating to me here, you know, people who have taken civics or or watch schoolhouse rock of this committee system.

You got these committees and the committees work on different things, their areas of expertise, they have chairs, they have staff that really knows it, the tax writers and ways of means are notoriously expert in how the tax code works which is very complicated.

Here you`ve got a weird thing because you`ve got the committees and they`re doing stuff. But then you`ve got like a Manchin and Sinema. So, the negotiations are happening this sort of weird way where it`s like I had this tax idea and it`s like, well go ask Joe. Go ask Kyrsten. It`s got to go over to them, like the prescription drug plan.

But like, they don`t have the institutional knowledge to write -- to OK this stuff because they`re not the people that are the chairs of the relevant committees. It seems kind of weird in that way.

MURPHY: Well, yes and no. I mean, every single one of us is elected and empowered to make decisions for ourselves notwithstanding whether we`re a committee chair or not. And so, you know, this is always the problem when you are making sausage that you were dealing with legislators that aren`t subject matter area experts.

But, you know, I have been involved in these negotiations with Kyrsten Sinema over the prescription drug negotiation provision. She`s very smart. She does not share my views on this subject but I don`t know that the deficit here is one of her knowledge of the topic.


HAYES: Right, no.

MURPHY: Right now, it`s that her opinion is just fundamentally different than some of the rest of us. But again, there are pieces of this that are still being negotiated, not many, but this is one of them. And I still think we may be able to add something.

HAYES: When people look at the political terrain right now, what is your -- how -- what do you look out and see? Because I mean look, we know thermostatic public opinion, right? People -- when party has unified governance, there`s a -- there`s a mobilization in the -- in the opposition. You know, people are looking forward to Virginia, this question about whether Democrats deliver or not. Like, what do you think of as what matters six, nine months from now for the politics of all this?

MURPHY: Well, listen. I think people are openly questioning whether democracy works for them any longer. They are openly entertaining other offers which is why Trump`s neo-authoritarianism appeals to so many voters. And so, this is our opportunity to show people that democracy can demonstrably change their lives.

And so, that`s why it`s important that a few of these investments pretty immediately make tangible changes. The child care investment is one of those. People are going to be paying less for child care next year than they were this year. I mean, they`re going to notice. Second, I think it`s really important for us to show that we are taking something from the haves.

You know, people are not satisfied just to do better, they also want to know that we are sort of rebalancing the economy. And so, I`m going to go out there and just as aggressively talk about the tax increases on billionaires and millionaires, the minimum corporate tax that`s built into this bill so that amazon actually pays something into the federal government just as I am going to talk about the social investments.

So, I think that`s an important script for us to follow moving forward, tell people what they`re getting but also tell people that we`re taking something from the folks that have frankly been fleecing the regular folks in this country for the last two decades.

HAYES: My favorite detail of the ProPublica reporting on Jeff Bezos was him filing to get the child tax credit because he qualified because he had zero income. All right, Senator Chris Murphy, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

Today, a group of white supremacists appeared in court standing trial for their role in organizing the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville that turned deadly four years ago. And while today was just the opening statements, the fact that a few the defendants chose to forego legal representation led to some jaw-dropping moments including the neo-nazi who favorably cited Mein Kampf and bragged about his radio show. And I`ll talk to a reporter who was there for it all next.



HAYES: It has now been four years since the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. But the disturbing images of that August weekend are very hard to forget. Hundreds of far-right protesters, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, members of the KKK, gathered in Charlottesville for a rally against the city`s decision to remove a statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee.

The night before the planned Unite the Right Rally, a group of white nationalists marched through the campus of the University of Virginia. They carried lit tiki torches and chanted phrases including white lies matter, Jews will not replace us, and the Nazi slogan Blood and Soil.

The next morning, things got even worse. City descended into violence as far-right groups and counterprotesters clashed in the streets. The governor declared a state of emergency and the rally was canceled. Then tragedy struck that afternoon when an avowed white nationalist plowed his car into a group of counterprotesters killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Today, the trial began against the organizers of that rally. It`s not a criminal trial, it`s a civil one. One of the defendants is Christopher Cantwell. He became known as the Crying Nazi after posting a video of himself weeping when a warrant was issued for his arrest in the wake of the rally.

Now, he`s already been convicted criminally of battery and assault for his actions in Charlottesville. There he is crying. BuzzFeed reports that Cantwell who`s defending himself in this civil trial because no lawyer has been able to tolerate his antics, prepared for trial by watching Fox News host Tucker Carlson with white supremacists in prison and getting legal advice from a Neo-Nazi.

That`s an interesting -- that`s an interesting choice. Within the first minute of his opening statement in court today, Cantwell quoted Adolf Hitler`s Mein Kampf. He then later used the N-word according to reporters listening to the proceedings.

One of those reporters following the trial on Charlottesville is Lyz Lenz, a contributor to HuffPost where she recently wrote about a 19th-century law that dismantled the KKK now could bring down a new generation of extremists. And Lyz Lenz whose coverage I was following all day today joins me now.

It`s great to have you on, Lyz. Before we get to what happened today, just -- you wrote about the theory of the case here. And I wonder if you can just sketch out for folks that haven`t been following this. This is a civil lawsuit under a law from the 19th century. What is -- what is the lawsuit alleged and how is it being tried?

LYZ LENZ, CONTRIBUTOR, HUFFPOST: So, in 1871, Ulysses S. Grant asked for this sweeping legislation that he was swiftly granted something that doesn`t really happen these days, but it basically allowed civil suits against -- it was specifically designed to dismantle the KKK. It allowed a civil lawsuit against anyone who restricts your civil rights, your ability to travel, your ability to move freely.

And that landmark legislation was able to basically dismantle the KKK after the civil war. And it dismantled them for a long time until about the 20th century when we`ve seen a resurgence of white supremacist violence. And so this case, Sines v. Kessler is one of the most expansive uses of the KKK, act of the 1871 law in the modern day. And they`re trying to -- the lawyers -- the plaintiff`s lawyers, in this case, are trying to basically sue the white supremacists out of existence. So, that`s what`s going on.


HAYES: So, the lawsuit -- so, under this 1871 clan act which again was created in response to the sort of white supremacist terrorists who had risen in the wake of reconstruction in the south that were using uh violent means and intimidation to stop Black folks from voting, to stop Black folks from assembling, from registering to vote, right. So, this creates civil liability for people that engage in the white supremacist activities designed to restrict people`s civil rights.

The theory of the case here is these people at the Unite the Right Rally did this and they are now civilly liable.

LENZ: Yes.

HAYES: They are facing trial today. What was -- what happened on day one, who was there, and what did you observe?

LENZ: Well, we`ve had a couple days of jury selection, and today was opening statements. So, we saw very -- right in the beginning, we saw the plaintiffs saying you know they had been beaten and had their civil rights restricted by the white supremacists at the rally and they say that this was a conspiracy of violence, that violence didn`t just accidentally break out.

What they`re alleging and hope to prove through this case is that violence was planned, violence was coordinated, and that violence was the point.

And then, we had the motley crew of defendants. Two of them are defending themselves. And there`s an assortment of lawyers who are all kind of trying to say well, we didn`t really plan it. It was kind of an accident. Also, if there was planning, it was everybody else`s fault.

So we saw a lot of defendants kind of throwing each other under the bus. There was Cantwell who decided to use his um his opening statements to make a lot of inflammatory and racist remarks which were -- which was just physically hard to hear. It was really uncomfortable. But what actually was even more uncomfortable was listening to other lawyers justify racism and justify chanting phrases like, you know, choose go home and even worse which I`m not going to repeat on air, under the guise of respectability which was -- it was -- it was a really difficult day of opening statements.

HAYES: When you say Cantwell -- I mean, I don`t want you to repeat verbatim, but someone using the N-word and citing Mein Kampf, you know, favorably, it sounded like a Nazi rant. But I want to make sure that that`s tracks with what he did because I wasn`t there.

LENZ: Oh, yes. So Cantwell whole -- before he was thrown into jail, he was like a podcaster kind of shock jock. And you know, it was really cynical what he said. Within two sentences, he`s you know, citing Mein Kampf. He`s saying, you know, basically all people are not created equal, and then worst from there.

And you know, what it was is it was like, you know, kicking over a log and seeing the rot and the bugs underneath. You know, this is the kind of like virulent racism that we as white people try to avoid, right, and we can because of the color of our skin. And what this trial is doing is making us I think as a nation face the violence of the words and the violence of the rhetoric and see how it translates into the violence of action.

HAYES: All right, Lyz Lens who`s been covering this trial in Charlottesville, thank you very much.

LENZ: Thank you.

Hayes: Coming up, Donald Trump announces he`ll hold a tell a rally for Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin. And election observers fueled by the big lie are sticking out polling places less than a week to go before the election night in Virginia. We`ll talk about it all next.



HAYES: We`re all watching the important Virginia gubernatorial election on Tuesday between Democrat Terry McAuliffe who was previously the governor of the state before being turned limited out and now running again, and Republican Glenn Youngkin who spent 25 years at the private equity firm The Carlisle Group.

Youngkin has kind of pretended he`s not a Trump Republican. He said President Joe Biden`s election victory was certifiably fair. He seems pretty in step with Donald Trump and his base. He kind of has to be. He`s a Republican. Youngkin has promised to ban critical race theory in Virginia schools if he`s elected.

He ran this ad where a mother complains that a book her child had to read for school without revealing the book was the Pulitzer prize-winning beloved by Toni Morrison about the abuses of slavery considered to be a modern classic, or that her child was a high school senior taking advanced placement class.

Youngkin has also gone out of his way to strongly hint there will be -- could be foul play in the Virginia election. He`s called for an audit of the state`s voting machines and has a whole section of his website calling for poll watchers and election integrity which of course is a kind of code word.

It appears many have heeded the call. The Washington Post reports an army of so-called Republican poll watchers is expected to turn out across the state. Lisa Lerer is a national political correspondent for the New York Times. She`s been covering the Virginia Gubernatorial Race, writing today on the impact of Youngkin`s anti-CRT ad. And she joins me now.

Lisa, I wanted to start on a sort of meat and potatoes campaign question. So I`ve followed this race like many national political observers, but have not followed it closely and I am not a Virginian. People talk about Youngkin and education as being this important, you know, part of his plank but I was on the website today, I was like going through. Is there an education proposal or platform plank that`s not about the CRT stuff? Like - - or standing up for parents. Like, is there some version of George W. Bush`s big like, we`re going to do this and this and you know high stakes testing etcetera. Like -- or is it just another way of saying like the CRT stuff?


LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it`s sort of another way of offering this really broad rallying cry for a lot of things that motivate his conservative base. So yes, for sure. It`s CRT which of course we know is an academic concept that`s really not taught till college or law school. So, this is not something like first graders in the state of -- the Commonwealth of Virginia are learning. It`s in fact not taught in Virginia schools.

But it`s also other things that Republicans are opposed to that really get them riled up into the polls. Things like mass mandates and vaccine mandates. Things around transgender students and what pronouns they should be called and how they should be treated. So, it`s not an education plan per se in the way that you are thinking about it both as an observer and a voter and a parent, right? Like, how much money is he going to put into the schools. It`s not like that.

It`s more a broad rallying cry designed to rally up his supporters in the election that will be overwhelmingly determined by it`s -- you know, which side gets more of their people out. It`s a base election in an off, off year.

HAYES: Yes. And that`s -- and that`s not to say it`s not an issue. I mean, obviously, there are parents who care about this stuff. But I just wanted to be clear that I wasn`t missing something in terms -- because I`ve covered races that were about education. They were about like, teacher class size, they were about like whether there was going to be high stakes testing, all these education policy issues. But it seems like what we`re talking about here is this kind of anger that many parents feel that their children`s education and the control of it has been taken from them and Glenn Youngkin will restore it and Terry McAuliffe won`t. And that seems to be the kind of message.

LERER: And that`s -- you`re really hitting at the central political question in this whole thing which is we know that these issues get conservatives going. We know they get Republicans to turn out. And frankly, if you`re a Republican and you`re the Youngkin campaign and you want to get your voters to the polls, these are good issues for you because they tie together sort of the MAGA part of the base that`s worried about things like CRT with maybe your more moderate republicans who you know, have some mixed feelings about vaccinating their children or something like that. So, you`re uniting your party under this broad sort of banner.

What we don`t know which is a really important question is whether it is convincing these suburban parents, the very same people in north -- outside, you know, Northern Virginia, outside of Richmond, who really won the races during the Trump administration for Democrats. Is this impacting their vote?

We know CRT isn`t. Like, we know that from polling. But we also know that they`re pretty unhappy with schools. I think you`d be hard-pressed to find any parent in America right now who`d say that schooling is going awesome, right? It`s just not how anybody is feeling. So, we don`t -- this will be a test for that very issue.

HAYES: I think schooling is going awesome actually, but I think -- I`m in the minority.

LERER: Well, you`re the one. We found the one.

WATTERS: I`m happy they`re back -- I`m just so happy they`re back in school. But finally, I mean, the thing that`s leaned over this is Donald Trump, right? Donald Trump loses the state by 10 points. Glenn Youngkin is playing this kind of like he needs the manga vote but he can`t embrace Trump, but there`s this sort of arm-length thing so there`s a Trump rally for him where they salute a flag that was present at the insurrection and he has to kind of like you know dance around it and now Trump threatening to do like a telerally on Monday. Do you have any reporting on that because he`s been this engaged in this kind of cat and mouse trolling about whether he`s going to do an event in Virginia.

LERER: Oh, I can confirm it`s happening. I confirmed that this evening. He`s doing a tele-town hall. Like, for viewers who might not know what that is, that means he`s not coming to the state. He`s not going to set foot but he`s going to be on a phone call with what is expected to be thousands of his supporters kind of getting people eager to go to the polls, you know, either --

HAYES: Right.

LERER: -- on Tuesday for in-person voting. So it`s still sort of that delicate dance. The real question will be whether Youngkin shows up on that call. We don`t know if that`s going to happen yet. But even if he does, it`s not clear how usable that will be for the McAuliffe campaign because this can be right before election day.

HAYES: Yes, that`s fascinating. That`s -- that is -- that`s a great example of trying to have it both ways. Lisa Lerer, thank you very much.

LERER: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: Coming up, Dr. Deborah Birx testifies on the tens of thousands of lives she says could have been saved. A claim author Michael Lewis joins me to discuss the Trump Administration`s failed pandemic response in just ahead.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes or no, do you believe nicotine is not addictive?

JOSEPH TADDEO, U.S. TOBACCO: I don`t believe that nicotine or our products are addictive.

ANDREW TISCH, LORILLARD TOBACCO: I believe nicotine is not addictive.

EDWARD HORRIGAN, LIGGETT GROUP: I believe that nicotine is not addictive.

THOMAS SANDEFUR, BROWN AND WILLIAMSON: I believe that nicotine is not addictive.

DONALD JOHNSTON, AMERICAN TOBACCO: And I too believe that nicotine is not addictive.


HAYES: 27 years after big tobacco was called to Capitol Hill to answer for decades of misinformation about the danger posed by their product, executives of the top big oil companies were called to testify about their role in spreading decades of misinformation about the danger posed by their product.

Unlike the big tobacco executives, the CEOs of Exxon, Shell, BP, and Chevron, along with the president of two industry groups testified remotely to the House Oversight and Reform Committee today, probably in nice climate-controlled rooms. They were grilled about their company`s well- documented efforts to cover up the link between fossil fuels and climate change, but not one of them would admit to any deliberate wrongdoing.


REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Today, the CEOs of the largest oil companies in the world have a choice. You can either come clean, admit your misrepresentations and ongoing inconsistencies, and stop supporting climate disinformation, or you can sit there in front of the American public and lie under oath.


REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D-NY): Mr. Woods, CEO of Exxon, do you agree that climate change is real?


MALONEY: Thank you, Mr. Lawler, CEO of BP America. Do you agree that climate change is caused by human activities?


KHANNA: Would you commit to saying you`re not going to fund any group that`s going to engage in climate disinformation at least?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chairman Khanna, what I`ll commit to is continuing to be an active member of the API.


HAYES: Ah, yes, an active member of the API. The API of course the oil industry`s lobbying group, the American Petroleum Institute which has worked, as long as I`ve been covering politics, to kill a lot of climate legislation.

Today`s hearing wrapped up after six hours with little new information to share, but the chair of the committee promised to subpoena the oil companies to get the truth about their climate change agenda.


MALONEY: We are at code red for climateand I`m committed to doing everything I can to help rescue this planet and save it for our children. We need to get to the bottom of the oil industry`s disinformation campaign and with these subpoenas, we will.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would you describe the job President Trump is doing behind the scenes and in front of the cameras during these daily briefings that we`re seeing? What`s been your perspective, Dr. Birx.

DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: He`s been so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data. And I think his ability to analyze and integrate data that comes out of his long history in business is really been a real benefit during these discussions about medical issues.


HAYES: OK, all right, come on. I mean, I remember seeing that. That was Dr. Deborah Birks, the then-White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator at the end of March 2020 singing Donald Trump`s phrases which again she could have sung them and said well he really cares about this and he`s good at making judgments, but analyze the data?

We were having the worst outbreak of COVID around the world running out of life-saving ventilators. And now, we have yet another inside account of the malpractice and the lying and neglect perpetuated by that man who`s so good at synthesizing the data during the pandemic. And it comes from none other than Dr. Birx.

An interview, excerpts released by the select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis, she says the 2020 election "took people`s time away from and distracted them away from the pandemic." Adding that they were "actively campaigning and not as present in the White House as previously."

As Michael Lewis wrote in his incredible book about the pandemic, the administration`s failures were enormous. They flowed from the top. We`ve seen in a testament that the insidiously destructive persistence of vaccine refusal and the grandstanding by current politicians. We`re now in a situation where even affirmative vaccines became widely available around the spring, around April, we`ve still lost more than 180,000 people according to NBC`s reporting. So, what does that say about where we are?

Michael Lewis, the author of the book I just mentioned called The Premonition: A Pandemic Story which analyzes the failures of the CDC in the Trump administration to contain the coronavirus and he joins me now. It`s great to have you in studio.


HAYES: Talking to you like human being.

LEWIS: Good to see you face to face.

HAYES: So, here`s my big question for you. The book analyzes the structural failings in American public health from the top to the bottom. And they`re not just Trump, there`s a bunch of other stuff. And then we got to a point where a lot of that stuff on the vaccine proliferation like structurally got pretty fixed. You know, logistically, we`re getting it down.

And then we hit up against a social barrier, cultural barrier. How do you understand that as part of the story that you told in the book?

LEWIS: Well, the social barrier hit was a social barrier we hit in the very beginning of the pandemic right where the whole idea of having a coherent strategy that everyone followed was dismissed. And that the idea that -- I mean, Trump basically said every state for itself and go find your own supplies and didn`t kind of pooh-pooh social distancing and all that.

So, a strategy -- a strategy that we created in the United States and pedal to the rest of the world that was used effectively to save millions of lives around the world. We ourselves did not avail ourselves to it consistently across the country. And as a result, hundreds of thousands of people are dead.

So, this is just this all over again, right? It`s sort of like we`re really good at creating knowledge and then we`re really good at not using the knowledge we created. We`re really -- the vaccine is a -- it`s a breathtaking scientific achievement. So, how does it fit into the story? The Premonition -- you know, it`s funny, the characters in the premonition have gotten the wrap of having predicted the pandemic, and it`s just because they live their lives in preparation for it.

What they really did, what the premonition really is a premonition that we might fail in spite of having -- of all of our resources are of the privileged position we were in as a country before the pandemic, to respond to a pandemic, there were problems you could see, and there were two big ones.

One was the low status of the public health officer that the charity dean who`s the main character of the book --

HAYES: Incredible character.

LEWIS: Incredible character. Badass, local public health officer, ran up again and again against resistance from her community to the measure she needed to take to stop tuberculosis from spreading or stop a meningitis outbreak on a campus or -- and so, to actually --

HAYES: It`s like, who are you and who are you to tell me what to do from the big hospitals to the politicians --

LEWIS: Because what had happened is not only did we starve that character of resources and there`s thousands of them around the country, I mean, that is our system such as it is. It isn`t the CDC running everything, It`s you`ve got all these local public health officers, state and local. And they have -- they have incredible legal powers but they don`t have a social power because they`re low status, poorly paid. No one really understands -- feels the need for them or felt the need from going -- understood their role.


So, you could -- you could see watching which the friction she experienced with the community that she was going to have a war on her hand if she had to do something really big. And you also saw that she wasn`t going to get any backup from the center -- the Centers for Disease Control, that they had sort of removed themselves from the role of actual disease battlefield command because it was messy and controversial and turned themselves into kind of an academic institution that wanted to wait till they had lots and lots of data before they made any decisions.

And what all these characters would tell you is that if you wait until you have certainty in the beginning of a pandemic --

HAYES: Too late.

LEWIS: -- the game`s over, you know. By the time you get the data, the virus has spread. You`ve lost your chance to contain it. So, I find -- I don`t know. I don`t know about you, but I find the situation we`re in amazing. If someone had told you that we would be looking at 750,000 dead Americans and that wouldn`t be enough to unify the country behind a sensible strategy, I`d have said you`re crazy. I thought this was -- this would do it. And --

HAYES: No, it`s forced but --

LEWIS: I think -- I think Charity Dean would say no.

HAYES: Well, I thought -- I mean, I thought of Charity Dean because one of the things that we`ve covered is we`ve -- and you sure you`ve seen this, you know these meetings where a public health official -- we had a guy on - - we have -- I`ve talked to a local public health official in Nashville, Tennessee, we talked to a local public health official in a county of Missouri where, you know, they`re getting up and saying, hey, we should -- the kids should wear masks in schools or X, Y, Z, and they get screamed at her. You know, we know where you live --

LEWIS: So, it`s worse than that right because in 30 something states, there have been bills introduced in the legislature, some of which have passed to reduce the authority of public health officers. I mean, that we`re positioning ourselves to be in a worse place if another one comes along. We`re in a better place in that we have this miracle vaccine that we know we can repurpose from probably other viruses. But that we have -- we have reduced the authority of the people, the battlefield commanders to actually run the battle, and that we have an entrenched minority of one-third of the population that is ready to not do anything to protect their fellow citizens.

HAYES: So that`s my -- that`s my question to you because there`s technical failures that happen, right? I think some of the slowness by the CDC, there`s some technical failures on mask guidance, and then there`s this deeper failure -- and I think -- I`m really curious to hear what you say to this. The way this shook out ideologically, the political valence of adhering to public health measures versus not, was that inevitable or is that accidental?

LEWIS: Well, it`s a huge failure of Trump`s leadership, right? He could have -- you know, what was required as an out of the -- right out of the box -- out of the gate, they needed to be kind of -- the country need to put on -- be put on kind of a wartime footing. You need to make sacrifices for your country. That the thing got framed as lives versus livelihood was really unfortunate because it`s not true. It`s not true.

HAYES: Yes, no.

LEWIS: That if you`ve got people dying in your community, people aren`t going to be going to restaurants.

HAYES: It doesn`t matter where you are. Even South Dakota or Arizona, places that are fairly fair. When the numbers go up, the economic activity goes down.

LEWIS: There is something like -- the best natural experiment is the Nordic countries, right? Because you`ve got you had Denmark and Norway and Sweden, and Denmark and Norway did a full on social distancing. Sweden let the virus run. And there`s been a post-mortem on this.

Five times the deaths in Sweden than the other two, the rate of death, and greater economic cost. So, it isn`t either or. You aggressively contain the thing and you get more of your economy. So, there`s that what was going on, and that framing of it was a big problem. But the framing -- the sort of -- the sort of bizarre notion of freedom that I should have the freedom to infect you with a deadly disease -- we accept constraints on our daily life all the time.

I`m not allowed to drive drunk, you know. But it`s like standing saying I should have the right to drive drunk. And the way that it became a kind of kind of attached to this idea of -- this very odd idea that I should be able to do whatever I want to do regardless of its effect on you. That was another strain of it. I don`t -- I don`t know -- would my characters ever predicted that? No.

Doctors who were in the middle of the book, who drained up the strategy and embedded it in the CDC, they never would have anticipated the CDC failing the way it failed. So, they didn`t see it all, but they gave -- they had a sense that like we`re not as prepared for this as people think. They had a sense that there are these problems that -- in rolling out the strategy that we haven`t really faced up to.

HAYES: Michael Lewis, it`s a great joy to have you here. It`s great to see you in person. The book is called The Premonition and it`s out. We also did a podcast. If you`d like that interview, you can go to Why Is This Happening? You and I spoke for about an hour about the book.

LEWIS: And if you don`t like the interview, you don`t have to go.


LEWIS: You have the freedom not to listen to that podcast.

HAYES: Exactly. There are no interview mandates. We have not reached a point in tyranny in which the government can force you to listen to my podcast, though who knows?

That is ALL IN on this Thursday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.