Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old charged with killing two people and wounding a third, took the stand Wednesday at his homicide trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin. A federal district judge rejected Former President Trump`s attempt to keep White House Records on January 6. Republicans are gerrymandering their way to win elections. Marc Elias speaks on his fight against gerrymandering.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: That`s why it`s so important to teach about institutional racism. And for that, Cruz, DeSantis, and all the other ignorant folks who are trying to erase the past, you are tonight`s absolute worst.
And that is tonight`s "REIDOUT." We`ll see you back here tomorrow night with special guest comedian Jordan Klepper from the Daily Show. You do not want to miss it. ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voiceover): Tonight, on ALL IN.
KYLE RITTENHOUSE, DEFENDANT: I didn`t want to kill anybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Than why are you shooting at someone with an AR-15 at close range?
HAYES: Kyle Rittenhouse takes the stand in his own murder trial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn`t pick out the AR-15 for any other reason?
RITTENHOUSE: I thought it looked cool, but no.
HAYES: Tonight, from Columbine, to Sandy Hook, to Kenosha. The radical gun culture that brought us to this moment.
Then, the countdown to document production. What we know about the Trump appeal to stop the January 6 committee.
Plus, Marc Elias on his fight to stop Republicans from literally mapping their way back into power.
And as prices of goods and services keep creep up, some needed perspective on today`s big inflation number when ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Kyle Rittenhouse was just 17 years old when he drove across state lines to Kenosha, Wisconsin with an illegally obtained military-style assault rifle. He shot and he killed two men, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber. He wounded another, Gaige Grosskreutz.
This happened in the summer of 2020, in the middle of protests in Kenosha of police violence, of a Black man who had been shot by a police officer. And Rittenhouse traveled 20 miles from his home to wade into the protests and indeed the unrest and property damage and violence that had grown up around them. And he wound up using that semi-automatic gun to end the lives of two people which is what landed Rittenhouse on trial homicide and on the witness stand in that trial again.
Again, Rittenhouse was 17 when he killed those two men, not old enough to smoke a cigarette have a beer. In many ways, including in the eyes of the law, he was still a child, a minor. He is being tried as adult to the severity of the crimes he is charged with. But I think, to most sensible people, at least I would hope, the image of a child, high schooler carrying a deadly weapon designed for war doesn`t inspire confidence about the wise, judicious use of that weapon, about good decisions being made.
Just listen to Rittenhouse today admit that he mostly just liked the way the gun looked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn`t pick out the air 15 for any other reason?
RITTENHOUSE: I thought it looked cool, but no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn`t pick it out because you wanted to go hunting with it, did you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn`t pick it out because you were going to use it to protect your house, correct?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You picked it up because it looked cool.
RITTENHOUSE: I thought it looked cool.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Looked cool. That cool thing ended the lives of two people. Teenagers do a lot of things because they look cool. A lot of them aren`t good. Hearing that, it is difficult not to be reminded of one of the greatest tragedies in recent American history when 22 years ago, two high schoolers, the same age essentially as Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, one 18, who also thought guns were cool, murdered 12 students and one teacher and wounded dozens more at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
At the time, that was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, a record that has well, sadly been broken multiple, multiple times. And since terrifically these mass shootings have just become part of American life. They are an unfortunate but apparently acceptable cost of living in a free society.
It can be hard to remember just how seismic that felt, how pivotal moment Columbine was at the time, how shocking the heinousness the inexplicability of the crime was. And because it was so piercing to the American consciousness, it presented something of a PR problem for the forces pushing gun ownership in American life.
Thanks to some truly excellent new reporting by journalists Tim Mak, author of the new book Misfire: Inside the Downfall of the NRA, we now know how the National Rifle Association, the lobby for gun owners and manufacturers reacted in real time to the unfolding crisis. I`m going to play you some audio obtained by Mak who`s also going to join us in just a moment.
Now, these are secret recordings of an NRA Crisis Response conference call literally the day after the Columbine shooting. It`s April 21, 1999. And you can hear how the members of the executive board of this organization debate how to respond to this unfathomable tragedy. What to do, what to tell the public that had just watched the very guns the association celebrated be used to slaughter children.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYNE ROBINSON, NRA OFFICIAL: Is there`s something concrete that we can offer not because guns are responsible, but because we care about these people? Is there anything? Does that looked crass or --
TONY MAKRIS, PR CONSULTANT: Like a victims fund --
ROBINSON: Yes, we create a victim fund and we give the victim a million dollars or something like that. Does that looks bad or does it look --
MAKRIS: Well, I mean, that can be twisted too. I mean, why are you giving money? You feel responsible?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, well, you`re -- true. It can be twisted, but we feel sympathetic and --
BILL POWERS, SPOKESPERSON, NRA: Respectful.
HAYES: We feel respectful. Maybe we could throw $1 million at the families of the dead kids and openly pondering whether or not providing compensation to these victims would be interpreted as the gun lobby taking responsibility of the shooting.
Now, for the record, this is how the NRA ultimately responded to Columbine, by holding, get this, it`s previously scheduled annual meeting in nearby Denver, OK, a short drive away from the site of the shooting less than two weeks later, two weeks before these children had massacred their classmates. And two weeks later, there`s the NRA in Denver.
Hey, everybody, guns, guns, guns. Despite the public outcry from the victims` families, then-NRA president Charlton Heston showed up and rallied supporters. He delivered a speech in which he argued the association cannot let the tragedy, still fresh in public memory, be used to limit gun ownership.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLTON HESTON, FORMER PRESIDENT, NRA: We cannot, we must not let tragedy lay waste to the most rare and hard-won human rights in history. We will not relinquish it or be silenced about it, or be told do not come here, you are unwelcome in your own land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s right. We`re here. We love guns. I`m sorry about what happened over there. And that was ultimately the solution for the NRA to lean into it, to double down, to never waver from the messages that not only the Second Amendment is important, but the guns in the hands of people are good, that more people should have guns. There should be more guns out there. They should be more able to carry guns in wherever they want to for whatever legal purpose they want, more and more and more guns.
That messaging only further crystallized on December 14, 2012. That was the day that a young man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School with multiple guns, including once again, a military-style assault rifle and shot dead 20 1st graders and six teachers and staff. And that moment, I mean, Columbine felt unfathomable and that felt even more unfathomable.
And that unfathomably tragic moment became the inflection point for the NRA which this time didn`t even pause for self-reflection, no. Rather, like after Columbine, it committed itself further to the cause of widespread firearm ownership.
And then NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre held a press event in Washington take no questions but providing this indelible message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NRA: The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s it. That`s iconic now. That`s the message. You can recite it. That`s the message the NRA wanted to push after Sandy Hook, more guns. Add more guns equals more safety. Add more guns to a society. There`s a bad guy with a gun but add a good guy with a gun. And then, they`ll shoot each other and then there`ll be -- that`ll be safer.
Not a message of moderation strict control over deadly weapons, rather return to the state of nature in which problems are solved with interpersonal violence. And this put the NRA, which had cultivated ties on both sides of the aisle for decades in direct opposition to a Democratic Party now increasingly committed to gun safety legislation.
According to analysis of NRA ratings by the gun safety site The Trace, in 2010, more than a quarter of Democratic candidates for Congress received an A rating from the organization, meaning they vehemently supported gun ownership and second amendment rights. About half received F ratings, which means they supported gun control measures.
By 2020, there was exactly one Democrat candidate for the House with an A rating and he lost. Democrats, horrified by the slaughter of young children firmly entrenched the party on the side of gun safety. And that was not acceptable at the NRA, so it further recalibrated to the political right. And it completed the trajectory of its transformation from what began as a shooting club for union soldier veterans into this hard right extremist organization pushing not just a narrow argument focused on responsible gun ownership and gun rights, but a broader vision of stoking the right fetishization of both guns and violence and the use of those guns in violent confrontation.
The NRA ram these wild ads you can see here with this scary-looking footage of unrest framing America as a country in the midst of a violent revolution were left-wing protesters were collaborating with the media to destroy the American way of life. Here`s how one of those ads ends.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth. I`m the National Rifle Association of America and I`m freedom`s safest place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Freedom. That`s a message that was being pushed to a 17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse, a child. You hear warnings about the boogeyman of Black Lives Matter and Antifa, and he took this illegally acquired assault weapon, which he admits not for hunting or for home defense, and he throws himself with the fray and Kenosha and he kills two people.
The boy who killed people, the boy who killed people, is then celebrated by the same pro-gun law and order culture that produced him as a hero and a martyr. And he`s bailed out with the help of right-wing activists and he poses for photo gridding in the T-shirt of a long gun-themed Coffee Company that then courted controversy from the right when it distance itself from this person, this boy who`d killed two people accused of homicide.
There`s a legal question before the jury right now of Kyle Rittenhouse`s guilt or innocence. It`s being determined, will be determined. From what I`ve seen, I think it`s pretty likely he`ll be acquitted, honestly. There`s also the broader question of what kind of society we want to live in. Ask yourself that.
If you`re watching this, and you`re a gun owner or someone who considers yourself a defender of the Second Amendment abstractly, right, ask yourself, do we want a society in which political conflict is settled on the streets between people with guns? One in which everyone is armed, and can therefore view the other people armed as a plausible threat, which appears what happened on the streets of Kenosha. Is that the society we want?
Because that`s the outcome the pro-gun lobby is hoping to bring about, is bringing about. Go ask the families of those two dead men. And they`re doing it through lots of channels, including through an upcoming Supreme Court ruling which the conservative majority could very feasibly broaden its interpretation of the Second Amendment, to one that essentially requires all states to permit adult Americans to carry a concealed weapon basically all the time, for whatever purpose they want.
It`s not just a theoretical argument, it is happening now. It happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin and in the chamber of the highest court in the land.
Tim Mak is the Washington investigative correspondent for NPR, author of the new book Misfire: Inside the Downfall of the NRA and he joins me now. Tim, I want to -- I want to go back to this incredible tape you acquired of that conference call and just take us through a little bit of the context.
It`s -- I`ve listened to the longer stretches of it, and is just remarkable to hear them in real-time working through their crisis PR. What`s the context here and what ultimately did they decide?
TIM MAK, WASHINGTON INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: So, just to set the scene, and you`ve done a really great job of doing that, the NRA was planning to hold its convention just a little over a week after what turns out to be the shootings at Columbine. And so, they scramble on to this conference call, all sorts of executives and officials and lobbyists and strategist and they`re trying to figure out what they`re going to do.
And as you point out, they propose different approaches, a softer tone that they think about canceling their convention entirely. They suggest, well, maybe there can be a victims fund. But they kind of eventually land on what they ultimately decide after Columbine, but also has echoes for many, many years to come in the mass shootings that are sadly going to become more frequent after Columbine, and that is that they concede anything. That`s kind of accepting responsibility, that if they step back, there`s some level of complicity there. And that`s what you hear then kind of come to over the course of these hours of tapes inside the room.
HAYES: I want to play another part of the state because one of the things that I think the NRA would say about people like me or people in the, "liberal media," is that you elite, you look down on good, red-blooded, God-fearing Americans who love their Second Amendment rights. You have sort of condescension towards them.
So, I want to play you the NRA lobbyist and former president Marion Hammer and they`re deciding well, maybe we can kind of, you know, do a half measure here. We take down the exhibit hall, we don`t do part of the conference, we let the members meet, and she makes a point, oh no, if you do that, you`re going to -- you`re going to have a problem. Listen to what she says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARION HAMMER, FORMER PRESIDENT, NRA: If you pull down the exhibit hall, that`s not going to leave anything for the media except the members meeting. And you`re going to have the wackos with all kinds of crazy resolutions with all kinds of dress and like a bunch of hillbillies and idiots and it`s going to -- it`s going to be the worst thing you can imagine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Again, this is Marion Hammer. She is the former president of the NRA discussing her own members and saying the problem with taking the exhibit hall is then you will then just spotlight our own members who she describes as wackos dressing like a bunch of hillbillies and idiots.
MAK: It`s remarkable. It`s remarkable and shocking to see the NRA`s top officials express privately what they think about some serious portion of their members. You know, the NRA right now is in a lot of trouble. I`m sure there are a lot of NRA members today who are hearing these private thoughts about who they are and what they represent.
A lot of NRA members are already really upset with all these reports of millions of dollars-worth of corruption in the executive level of the NRA led by Wayne LaPierre and other senior officials. I`m sure they`re not happy to hear what they`re -- what`s being said about them behind the scenes.
HAYES: Final point here. You know, you write in the book -- and by the way, I got a chance to go through part of the book today is fantastic. It`s -- I`ve always admired you as a reporter, Tim, and it`s, it`s really great work.
MAK: Thank you. People should pick up the book. The sort of Columbine and then Sandy Hook, and then afterwards, you get the trajectory. You know, the NRA used to be like the ethanol lobby. And the ethanol is like, hey, we don`t care of your politics. If you roll with ethanol, you roll with us. You`re down and subsidizing ethanol. Like, we`re cool with you. We`re not - - we`re not giving you any vision for American society other than ethanol subsidies from the government are good.
The NRA used to be pretty focused on specific gun issues. It has morphed into a totalizing right-wing vision of the world. And you make the argument of the books that Sandy Hook was the inflection for that.
MAK: Absolutely. After Sandy Hook, you know, the Republicans and conservatives are really the only target audience for the NRA. They kind of dispense with what is for a long time before that been a really important strategic partner, those moderate Democrats who would support gun rights and the NRA.
After Sandy Hook, the NRA kind of rebundled itself as a "freedom organization." One that really doubles down on the culture war. It`s not just about guns anymore for the NRA. It`s about being the organization standing between the government and you and between, you know, people who want to take away your freedoms and you.
That makes it -- that marks a huge shift for the NRA and ultimately leads them to a place of strategic peril. I mean, today, the NRA is an enormous amount of financial and legal trouble. I think a lot of it stems from that decision after Sandy Hook.
HAYES: Tim Mak, the book is called Misfire. I really, really recommend it. Thank you so much for taking some time with us tonight.
MAK: Thank you.
HAYES: In the 10 months since the attack, there have been over 670 arrests related to January 6. So far, the people responsible for instigating the attack have essentially managed to escape justice. But could last night`s ruling change that? What happens now that a judge denied Trump`s attempt to block the January 6 Select Committee from obtaining White House Records after this.
HAYES: It`s been just over 10 months since January 6 insurrection. And so far, according to the Justice Department`s own figures released today, approximately 675 defendants have been arrested in nearly all 50 states, and 120 have pleaded guilty to a number of charges including four who pleaded guilty to charges related to assaults on law enforcement.
Today, one of those men was sentenced to 41 months in prison. His name is Scott Fairlamb, a former New Jersey gym owner seen here with beard and camouflage jacket screaming in a police officer space during the January 6 attack. He was caught on camera punching a police officer, not legal.
Today he was sentenced to nearly three and a half years in prison for his actions on January 6, the most severe sentence handed down so far. Prosecutors are also seeking the maximum sentence for the man who became the face of the insurrection, Jacob Chansley, also known as the QAnon Shaman, was one of the first rioters to breach the Capitol and made it all the way to the Senate chamber. You probably remember those images.
Late last night, prosecutors recommended he go to prison for 51 months. Also late last night, the man who urged QAnon shaman and the hundreds of other insurrectionists to go to the Capitol expressively. Now, we`re going to go to the Capitol. He lost a major legal battle in his attempt to block the January 6 Select Committee`s investigation.
A federal district judge rejected Trump`s attempt to keep White House Records secret saying "Defendants contend that discovering and coming to terms with the causes underlying the January 6 attack is a matter of unsurpassed public importance, because such information relates to our core democratic institutions and the public`s confidence in them." The court agrees.
Betsy Woodruff Swan has been covering all this as national correspondent for Politico. Barb McQuade is former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, the co-host of the Sisters in Law Podcast. And they both join me now.
Barbara, let me start with you on the order from the federal judge yesterday. So, basically, the White House waived executive privilege for these -- for these documents. They told the National Archive to turn them over. Friday was the deadline. Trump lawyer sued and said no, you can`t do that. And she said no. Yes, they can. What did you think about her reasoning in the opinion?
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I think her reasoning is very solid, Chris. I mean, what she says is, it is the current president, the sitting president, Joe Biden, who gets to decide whether something should be disclosed or not under executive privilege.
A prior President does have what the Supreme Court has referred to as a residual interest. That president can go to the current president and ask for or make a recommendation as to whether executive privilege ought to be asserted. But at the end of the day, the decision belongs to the sitting president and as Judge Chutkan in this opinion, the plaintiff is no longer the president. He is not a king. He does not retain this power.
The current president has the power. He has said we should turn this over. The legislative branch wants this turned over. It is really quite clear. So, I think that that decision is on really solid ground. I think there`s a possibility of an appeal that could delay things. But I think ultimately, the committee is going to get these documents.
HAYES: Yes, Betsy, I mean, we know that the Trump layers are already indicating obviously they will -- they will follow an emergency appeal. They will tend to stay the order pending and appeal to the Circuit Court which is one level up, the appellate court. The deadline is Friday. We know they`re going to try to delay. But this -- the rapidity with which this is being processed now is in stark contrast to the long periods of time we saw in the previous years for these kinds of issues to work their way through the courts.
BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: It does feel like it`s moving quicker than these kinds of things have moved in the past. And the members of the Congressional committee investigating all this have made it clear that they hope the court really gets this handled at a rapid clip regardless of the decisions the court ultimately reaches.
Part of the reason for that and what`s hanging over the head of every single member of the Select Committee, including the two anti-Trump Republicans on the committee, is the fact that it looks more likely than not that Republicans might take control of the House of Representatives next year. And that means there`s pretty much a hard and fast deadline for this committee to get their work done before it`s possible that the entire thing could just be instantly shuttered. They`re having to move really quick.
And that`s part of the reason that the court strategy for Trump`s team, the benefit is not just the chance of ultimate victory, which isn`t high, but also that it can really slow things down. Remember, it took Congress years to get Don McGahn, Trump`s White House Counsel ultimately to testify.
Many of these matters take so much time that by the time the information gets to Capitol Hill, it feels like it`s more something that`s relevant to a history book than to actually helping legislators make decisions about laws they need to pass to keep this country safe and secure.
HAYES: Yes. And on that note, I mean, what we`re seeing -- we saw -- so, Steve Bannon who just you know, sort of is engaging in a kind of massive resistance against the lawful subpoenas of a duly convened committee. He`s now being joined, it appears, by Stephen Miller who was also subpoenaed. Bannon has a referral to the Department of Justice.
I want to play you what Stephen Miller said to Laura Ingraham last night in which he said he`s going to take the same route. Take a listen, Barbara.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN MILLER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: It`s just an attempt, and you know this as well as anybody, to distract from the horrific failures of the Biden presidency. President Trump left Biden the secure border, a successful roaring economy, peace in the Middle East, low stable inflation.
LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: You`re not going to be showing up to testify in this so-called Select Committee.
MILLER: Fist, I don`t even have the documents, Laura.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I mean, I just feel duty-bound to point out he left him the worst catastrophe in 100 years with the hundreds of thousands of people dead. But that aside, Barbara, there has to be consequences that people don`t show up, or there -- people are not going to show up. This is incentives 101.
MCQUADE: Yes. I think we, as citizens of this country, want our elected representatives in Congress to be able to investigate that over which it has power to legislate and oversight of its appropriations. And that`s what it`s attempting to do here.
If people just say, no, I`m not coming, they`ve really lost an important power. We`ve lost an important power, because there are our elected representatives. And so, I think that`s why there are -- all eyes are on this Bannon referral when and if the Justice Department will bring criminal charges.
It seems very likely that we will see some sort of action I think out of the Justice Department. They have to show a willful violation without any defense. I think there`s a possibility of some, you know, executive privilege argument or some advice of counsel argument here. But I think we will see either criminal or civil action coming out of the Justice Department in short order.
HAYES: And Betsy, we should say that there`s a huge sort of swath of folks that have been subpoenaed now. Not all of them, I think, will go that road. And there are some who may be are going to cooperate with protest.
SWAN: Sure. The committee has said that of all people, Mark Meadows and cash Patel, two very dedicated Trump loyalists, have been engaging with them. And Meadows would be sort of uniquely well positioned to try to argue that executive privilege would mean he didn`t have to engage.
So, they`re very much potentially charting a path for other Trump loyalists to have some sort of permission structure to at least engage with this committee and not to totally stiff-arm and reject it. The fact that Jeff Clark showed up in person and hung out for 90 minutes with committee members last week -- he didn`t answer their questions, he didn`t give them what they want. He himself may still face contempt.
But the fact that he was there in person with his lawyer and dialogue with them a little bit, even distinguishes them from Bannon. And that`s the kind of thing that DOJ prosecutors might consider. How much respect are these witnesses showing to the committee? Are they having any pretense of taking it seriously?
So, I think there`s -- while it`s likely that there will be other folks who are subpoenaed who do the same thing that Bannon does, I think there`s going to be a significant number who follow more in the Mark Meadows route, more in the route of other folks whose names aren`t yet public who decide the juice is not worth the squeeze when it comes to potentially tangling with DOJ or with civil litigation as part of a potentially expensive legal effort to defy a lawful subpoena.
HAYES: Betsy Woodruff Swan and Barbara McQuade, thank you both.
Coming up, the growing Republican effort to take back the House by redistricting themselves into power. I`ll talk to the busiest elections lawyer in the business Marc Elias about what can be done to stop it ahead.
HAYES: So, back in 2018, the voters of the very conservative state of Utah were faced with a ballot proposition, a measure called Proposition four proposed creating an independent redistricting commission. So, take it out of the hands out of partisan lawmakers, put it in a commission, and the seven members would then be responsible for drafting and recommending congressional and state legislative district maps when they are redrawn every 10 years after the census.
Now, that measure won. Utah voters like that. A little over a year later, Republicans who were in control of the state legislature said, no, we don`t like that, and they essentially overrun it. They then passed a bill saying no, we`re going to allow lawmakers to completely disregard the independent commission`s maps, putting them in control of how the districts are redrawn.
And now guess what, they`re using that power producing blatantly gerrymandered maps, breaking up the more urban liberal areas of the state. So, the independent commission proposed these three maps, a little hard to sort of see what`s going on there. They did not pick a favor but you will see that liberal-leaning Salt Lake County in the north-central part of the state in the pink section in all those maps.
This is the map that the Utah Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve today. So, what it does is it takes that pink section where there`s a lot of liberal voters, and it splits it into four districts. So, you take all those liberals and Democratic-leaning voters, you split it up, now they don`t have any power. And they sent this to the Republican Governor Spencer Cox for approval. Last night, Governor Cox dismissed concerns about the maps and the redistricting process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SPENCER COX (R-UT): I understand the frustration that people are feeling right now. And the place that that should be directed is making sure that that we elect people that have the same interests that you do and are interested in maybe changing those maps the next time around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So, if you don`t like it, you can vote people out. But that`s -- no, that`s wrong. That`s precisely the problem actually, Governor. The people of Utah did vote on this. They wanted an independent commission to decide not the partisan legislature, and now that partisan legislature has overruled the people`s choice.
And now, they`re going to overrule a choice and make their own maps to choose their own voters. They`re controlling the mechanisms of representation. That`s why voting won`t solve things here. And of course, it`s not just Utah. This partisan gerrymandering is happening in a bunch of Republican-controlled states, some Democratic ones, too. We`ll talk about that in a second.
In recent years, Ohio voters approved again, similar bipartisan redistricting commission to draw fair maps in the state of Ohio. But guess what, Republicans in control of the Commission intentionally blew through their chance to weigh in by the end of last month. They pass a deadline, which then once it lapsed, move the authority to guess who, the Republican- controlled legislature. And guess what they did.
This is what the current map of congressional districts looks like in Ohio, not a whole lot of blue but a few Democratic-leaning districts around major cities. This is the proposal from the Ohio House Republicans bring the balance down to just two, two Democratic-leaning districts and 12 Republican leaning districts. That is in a state that Donald Trump won by just eight points.
Then, we got in North Carolina. Now, North Carolina quintessential swing state, pretty much 50-50. You got a Democratic governor, Republican legislature. And that Republican legislature passed a new highly gerrymandered map last week. The current map is on the left with eight Republican and five Democratic seats. The new one on the right bring this at 10 to three with one highly competitive seat.
If all these changes stand, get this, Republican cause net several congressional seats next year, maybe four or five, six, before they even have to do anything, before that to run a single election, raise any money, figure out their message. Now, there`s one man fighting against this harder than probably anyone else taking these battles to court, and he will join me next.
HAYES: Every 10 years after the census, nearly every state in the Union goes through the process of redistricting. They redraw the lines of their congressional district maps as well as the state legislative ones. And that mind drawing is really important. It sparks a lot of fights as the party in power in each state tries to draw the most beneficial map for them.
Sometimes the gerrymandering goes way too far creating unfair and undemocratic situations. And that`s where the courts come in, like in North Carolina where voters are challenging the newly redrawn map getting Republicans two more safe seats. And they are arguing it as an improper partisan gerrymander.
Lawyer Marc Elias and his Elias Law Group are representing North Carolina voters on that case. He`s an expert in voting rights litigation, also the founder of Democracy Docket which provides information and analysis of voting rights.
Marc, before we get to North Carolina which is a particularly egregious case, I want to start with the Supreme Court which had a kind of landmark case in which it said, you can do whatever you want in partisan gerrymandering. If you could -- if you could take a state that`s 50-50 and figure out a way to give it all to one party, you can do that. There`s nothing in the Constitution stopping you. And that really does appear to have opened the floodgates.
MARC ELIAS, FOUNDER, DEMOCRACY DOCKET: It does. You know, two things happen between 2011 and today. One, is the Supreme Court`s decision in Common Cause versus Rucho, the case you refer to, where the Supreme Court, as you said, open the floodgates and said, geez, we come up with a lot of tests for a lot of things, but we can`t figure out how to gauge whether there`s a partisan gerrymander, which is crazy but that`s essentially what they said.
The other thing that happened is Donald Trump. And with Donald Trump came the draining of any last ounce of shame that the Republican party hack. So, you now have a shameless party that is not afraid of appearing anti- democratic, engaging in anti-democratic behavior because it says they`re allowed to
HAYES: Yes. And North Carolina, I mean, this is -- the Ohio one is interesting because Ohio was already was so wildly gerrymandered back in 2011. There`s not much more to the game. But North Carolina, I mean, you`re going from 8-5 to 10-3 with one toss-up. And here`s a stat that really blew my mind.
It would take an absolute blowout over seven percentage points in the statewide popular vote for Democrats to even get half of the state`s congressional delegation. This really is a particularly egregious one, it seems.
ELIAS: It is. And hats off to the Republicans in North Carolina for being both persistent and also completely shameless in gerrymandering. Just rerun the tape, they passed a map after 2011 last round of redistricting. That was a blatant racial gerrymander. It is a racist map. We know that because I sued them. And we went to the Supreme Court and won in the Roberts Court that the map they drew disadvantaged Black voters.
So, when they do, they came back, and they passed a 10-3 map. And what the leadership of the North Carolina legislature said was that they passed a 10-3 because they couldn`t figure out a way to only created to democratic seats. If they could have, they would have created 11-2 map. So, we sued them again, and one again, this time under the state constitution.
And here we are again. They`re back to a 10-3 map. I mean, they are just insistent on not letting voters choose politicians. But I guess they figure that if they let the voters do that, they won`t win elections.
HAYES: Well, and then part of what we`re seeing here -- so you`re saying -- I should -- I should note, there are some states that look to be in Democratic control moving quite aggressively towards maximizing Democratic control in those states. We don`t know the New York map yet, but that might be a place to look for that. The Maryland map is back and forth, but it might squeeze out the lone remaining Republican.
But when you look at the example of these places that have tried independent commissions, Ohio, also in in Utah, in Iowa, I think similar, similar, they seem like they buckle under the pressure of the level of partisan intensity in American politics and the shamelessness the Republican Party. Is that fair?
ELIAS: Yes. The intensity, though, to be anti-democratic is not in American politics, it`s in the Republican Party. But otherwise, I agree with you, Chris. This is kind of the rule I have -- I have come to live by. Never engaged in any political process that requires Republican politicians to act in good faith.
ELIAS: I mean, the problem with a lot of these traditional Commissions is that they assume that Republican legislators will act in good faith. And as you point out in Utah and elsewhere, that just isn`t the case.
HAYES: Finally, I want to -- I want to talk about a piece you wrote which I really like about five years later in the Democracy Docket this week, talking about the sort of big lie. The Big Lie was born in the aftermath of the 2020 election, but it was conceived on Election Day in 2016. Without the 2016 election, there is no big lie, no violent insurrection, no unraveling of democracy.
You sort of take stock of where we are five years after that Election Day and the state of our democracy, what is your -- what is your big lesson about where we are?
ELIAS: I think we`re on the verge of losing our democracy in one or two elections unless we change course. I mean, the fact is, we face a crisis in this country in which one of the two major political parties have become captive to a cult of personality of a failed one-term president who is an authoritarian who cannot win the popular vote.
He didn`t win the popular vote in 2016, narrowly won through the Electoral College, and lost the popular vote by more in 2020 and the and the Electoral College, and then incited a riot and a coup attempt in the US Capitol. And rather than the Republican Party recoiling from that and distancing itself, they are now embracing it.
I just want to add one way for you to think -- your audience to think about this. On last Tuesday, Terry McAuliffe lost a close gubernatorial election.
ELIAS: The margin right now is 1.9 percent. He conceded the next morning. In New Jersey, the Republican candidate for governor lost by nearly three percentage points. He still not conceded. Think about that. All of the pressure in the Republican Party is on their candidates, never concede, never accept the results when they lose an election. And that will lead to trouble in 2022 and 2024.
HAYES: That is very well said. We`re monitoring the Ciattarelli situation in New Jersey for precisely that reason. You can`t have a democracy in which it`s only OK and the election is only free and fair if Republicans win, right? Like, that`s just not the way it works. But that is the -- that is precisely what the situation that they have produced.
ELIAS: That`s right. And if you look at election night, there were already calls by Republicans for Terry McAuliffe to concede that night. He was criticized that he did it the next morning. Yet those Republicans are now egging on someone who has clearly lost the election in New Jersey. They are egging on to not concede.
HAYES: Marc Elias, thank you very much.
ELIAS: Thank you.
HAYES: This morning, we found out consumer prices have seen the biggest year over a year increase in 31 years. Next, some very crucial perspective on how today`s inflation number fits into the larger picture the American recovery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 90 people remain unsettled about the economy and we all know why. They see higher prices. They go to the store or online and they can`t -- they go to the store or go online and they can`t find what they always want and when they want it. And we`re tracking these issues trying to figure out how to tackle them head on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: President Joe Biden was at the Port of Baltimore today and he addressed the eye-popping inflation statistics released by the federal government. Today, the Consumer Price Index basically an average of the change in the price of all consumer goods and services rose 6.2 percent. That is the highest increase in over 30 years since 1990.
And in a lot of ways, this is one of the central issues the Biden administration and the Democratic Party because prices are rising and there`s not a lot they can do about it. Republicans are in turn, not surprisingly, pouncing on this with their messaging and mainstream press outlets are all raising the alarm about costs going up and it can seem like the sky is falling. There`s a case to be made that we find ourselves now in a situation that is in a way better than what the alternatives could be.
Contrary to the freakout over prices rising, Bloomberg, Joe Weisenthal argue today our economic indicators show that "the totality of the labor market has come out ahead of inflation." And Joe Weisenthal, editor of Bloomberg, co-host of the Odd Lots Podcast joins me now.
All right, Joe, there was a lot of -- you know, a lot of hand-wringing, a lot of concern today. I think you and I would both agree six percent inflation is too high, not sustainable, not good. What`s your case for the other part of the ledger to look at when you`re looking at the full totality of where we are in this recovery?
JOE WEISENTHAL, EDITOR, BLOOMBERG: Yes. Six percent inflation is hot by any measure. And if you look at food, if you look at gasoline, these are prices that people see every day, and they have a lot of valence for people. But we have had the most extraordinary labor market recovery in ages. Nearly 20 million people have become reemployed, reentered the workforce since the bottom of the pit in the pandemic.
And when you sort of factor that in, all of these people -- you know, we`ve talked about real wages as a concept of economics. And so a lot of people`s wages have not kept up with the six percent gain inflation. Not good. But when you factor in the fact that about a year ago or a year and a half ago, many people`s real wages were literally zero because they had lost their jobs. When you factor that in, and when you factor the totality of wage income, it`s actually far outstripped inflation.
This is not sustainable. This should be a source of concern for the White House. There should be an urgency about addressing bottlenecks and other factors that are preventing a sort of equilibrium in prices. That being said, I do think it`s really important to look at the extraordinary employment gains that we`ve seen over the last year or over the last year and a half, and not evaluate the economy by a single moment.
HAYES: It`s such an important point. The 20 million people whose wages went from no wages, to a job, like inflation bites. But you know, the other way we could do this is we could run the economy, very cool, we could have a lot more people out of work.
There`s this thing called the Phillips curve, which is an old economics idea that there`s a trade-off between, you know, higher inflation and lower unemployment that like, you got to sort of find the right balance that kind of Goldilocks.
HAYES: And I mean, that`s sort of the argument you`re making here, right? That if policymakers aim too high, it`s better to aim high, and miss high than aim too low and have millions and millions and millions of people out of work who shouldn`t be.
WEISENTHAL: I mean, the -- I mean, the labor market is healing faster, not just in the great financial crisis, which is setting a very low bar because the pace of recovery after the 2008-2009 crash was dismal. The labor market is healing faster than the 2001 recession, which is considered by many stretch to be a very shallow recession.
And there`s something else to consider that OK, not only have total wages outstripped he gain and total wages that we would imagine a collective national paycheck not only outstripped inflation, but if you add in the transfer payments, if you add in the expanded unemployment insurance, if you add in the multiple rounds of checks, then the take home pay for the American household collectively far outstrips and is consistently beating inflation.
And it`s important to do that because many of the critics who when they cite the high inflation, they cite those checks. Like, oh, this is -- this is what happens when you give people money. This is what happens when you print people -- print it. But those largely went to people who were either lower income or zero income at the time. And in such, they`ve definitely come out ahead.
If you break down wages, and one more point on this, the one quartile of income earners that`s growing very fast is actually the bottom quartile, which is something that we really I don`t think I`ve seen in decades. So again, 6.21 inflation, this has concerns everyone. But in a different -- in a sort of broader context of the economy, this looks like a price worth paying for the recovery that we`ve seen in so many others sort of labor and household wealth metrics.
HAYES: Yes, household income, wages, wages at the bottom part of the scale -- wages in the bottom of our scale among young people which is sort of an amazing quadrant two sort of getting the most gains here. And I think -- you know, I think we`re going to see big action taken but I am with you on this. Like, aim high and overshoot is better than the opposite because you and I both lived through the aftermath of great recession in which trillions of dollars of productive capacity was left on the floor for no reason.
Joe Weisenthal who has been a voice of sanity on this for as long as I`ve been following his work, thank you very much.
WEISENTHAL: Thanks for having me on.
HAYES: One last note before we go. We have a really special new episode of my podcast out this week. Guest author Jay Caspian Kang that is part history, part memoir, all grappling with what we mean when we talk about the Asian-American experience, the fastest-growing demographic in the country. I found it persuasive and provocative. I hope you check it out.
That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.