Steve Bannon now faces two charges of contempt which could each result in hefty fines or even prison time because he refuses to tell the committee or turn documents over to the committee about what he knew about the attempt to violently overthrow the government. After nearly two weeks of testimony, the case against Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who shot and killed two people and injured a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin last summer, came down to closing arguments today. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones lost in court today after a judge found him liable for defamation for spreading lies about the Sandy Hook attack. President Joe Biden sings Infrastructure Bill into law today.
MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: They`re talking about the United States of America. They`re talking about the United States of America because when Matthew mentioned it in the bible, he wasn`t talking about the physical ground that he was on. He was talking about something in the distance.
So, if we are going to have one nation under God which we must, we have to have one religion. One nation under God and one religion under God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: One religion? You just heard a decorated three-star general contradict the pillar of the First Amendment -- the pillar of the Constitution, the First Amendment. And for doing that, Michael Flynn is the absolute worst.
That`s the "REIDOUT." ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you feeling today Mr. Bannon?
HAYES: Three shirts, two counts of contempt, and one appearance in court today. Steve Bannon surrenders to law enforcement as we get still more disturbing reporting on Donald Trump`s obsessive plot to overturn the election.
Then, Alex Jones must pay the families of Sandy Hook victims. Tonight, the attorney who won today`s massive defamation suit joins me live. Plus --
Thomas Binger, PROSECUTOR, KYLE RITTENHOUSE TRIAL: You lose the right to self-defense when you`re the one who brought the gun.
HAYES: What we learned today as the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse nears a conclusion. And Joe Biden throws a party at the White House as infrastructure week finally arrives.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we`re finally getting this done.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. We`ve got a ton of new developments today in the story of the attempted coup, the effort at the very highest levels of the U.S. government to throw out the results of last November`s free and fair election and install the loser, Donald Trump, in power.
Today, one of the most prominent coup plotters, former top Trump Adviser Steve Bannon who was indicted on criminal charges last week over his refusal to cooperate with the House committee investigating the insurrection, Bannon, was in court.
He now faces two charges of contempt which could each result in hefty fines or even prison time because he refuses to tell the committee or turn documents over to the committee about what he knew about the attempt to violently overthrow the government. True to form, however, Bannon remains defiant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BANNON: If the administrative state wants to take me on, bring it. Because we`re here to fight this and we`re going to go on offense. And you stand by. You see how we`re going to go on offense, OK. Nancy Pelosi, Merrick Garland, Joe Biden, the whole -- the whole -- all of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you mean --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s just -- that`s a shtick, Steve Bannon. He was like that when he was down campaigning in Alabama for Roy Moore to be a U.S. senator. Now, another top Trump ally has taken something of a lower profile than Bannon who`s always out there promoting his podcast even as he also thumbs his nose at the subpoena from the January 6 committee.
And I speak of former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows who skipped a schedule appearance before the committee on Friday and then in response, as you might remember, the House committee fired off a statement warning that if Meadows does not cooperate, the committee will look at pursuing contempt proceedings against him as well.
And here`s the thing. Meadows lacks the bluster of Bannon who is in his heart of troll. Meadows played an enormous role though in attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election, perhaps even second only to the former president himself.
We now know for example that Meadows pressured the Department of Justice to investigate Trump`s utterly bonkers claims of voter fraud. I mean, even some of the most ridiculous ones. According to leaked emails, Meadows actually reached out to the Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen asking the DOJ to look into among other conspiracies, a fantastical theory that people in Italy had used military technology and satellites to remotely tamper with voting machines in the United States and switch votes for Trump to vote for Joe Biden.
Yes, there was an Italian conspiracy to use satellites to switch votes, OK. Meadows also traveled to Georgia following the election ostensibly to oversee an audit of the state`s ballot signatures although it`s unclear what expertise the former congressman brought to that job apart from lending legitimacy of the White House to an effort to sow doubt in the results of the election.
And the day that Meadows returned from Georgia, after he goes down there amidst this audit, he encouraged the president to personally call the head of that audit. And Trump then did just that. This is not Raffensperger. This is someone -- a subordinate telling her "When the right answers come out, you will be praised."
Again, this is a different phone call the one Trump made to Georgia`s secretary of state where he asked Raffensperger famously to find the votes he needed to win. But again, all moving on parallel tracks towards the same goal. The right answer that he referenced is basically any outcome that falsely declared Trump the winner of the election Georgia.
So, that`s just some of what Mark Meadows was up to. To be clear, this is not some low-level White House lackey. He`s the chief of staff. It`s arguably the second most powerful position in the entire White House besides the actual president.
And now, we`ve just learned of yet another way that Meadows tried to throw his weight around in service of the coup, and it involved this woman Jenna Ellis. You might remember her from her time last year. She was a Trump lawyer who would go on TV and spout the same kind of ludicrous baseless conspiracies Meadows was supporting behind the scenes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNA ELLIS, TRUMP CAMPAIGN LAWYER: Well, our strategy is to make sure that we continue to challenge all of these false and fraudulent results.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: What is the point of all this?
ELLIS: Well, the point of this of course is to get to fair and accurate results because the election was stolen and President Trump won by a landslide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There you go. He won by a landslide. The election was stolen. Maybe it was the ghost of Hugo Chavez. Maybe it was the Italians with their special satellite. Who knows?
According to the new book Betrayal by journalist Jon Karl, that woman Jenna Ellis wrote a memo -- pay attention -- outlining the steps that vice president -- Vice President Pence could take to overthrow the results of the election on January 6 and hand victory essentially unilaterally to Donald Trump instead.
Now, if you are saying to yourself, wait a second, wait, that sounds familiar, you`re right. But to be clear, this is a different coup memo from another lawyer than the previously reported coup memo written by one of Trump`s other lawyers, multiple coup memos. Both of them encouraging Mike Pence to unilaterally essentially declare Donald Trump the winner more or less to overthrow the results of the election on January 6.
And according to Karl`s book, Meadows made sure that this memo, the you can do it Mike, you can throw out 240 years of peaceful transfer power, that this memo from Ellis, the conspiracy touting lawyer you just saw on Ari`s show, that it made its way to Mike Pence`s office.
We know what the game was here. The signal from the White House that it expected Pence to do its bidding. That was why Donald Trump was up there painting a target on his back. That`s why he tweeted. And it`s something, to give the bare minimum credit, that Pence did not do.
And those are not the only recent developments we got from the coup crew. Karl also reports that Fox Host Maria Bartiromo, a staunch Trump ally who used her shows during this period to platform the most ridiculous of Trump`s lawyers like lawyer Sidney Powell, was a true believer in the stolen election conspiracy, at least according to Karl`s reporting, because according the book, Bartiromo abandoned any semblance of journalistic ethics by reportedly calling then-Attorney General Bill Barr demanding he stop the steal.
"Barr told Karl on the record: She called me up and she was screaming. I yelled back at her. She`s lost it." That is a tough thing to hear from Bill Barr, the attorney general who, you know, blurred the lines between the DOJ and the White House to a dangerous degree in pursuit of Trump`s sycophancy. The same Bill Barr who in the run-up to the 2020 election work to sow doubt about the mail-in ballots.
By the end, even that Bill Barr who had a really serious case of Fox News brain had enough of the increasingly brazen attempts to overthrow American democracy that he yelled back at Maria Bartiromo calling him up to stop this deal. But other prominent supporters just doubled down instead like Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. That would be trump`s first national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
After Trump lost, he became one of the most vocal Trump allies pushing the conspiracy theory of a stolen election including arguing Trump should institute martial law to stay in power. Again, this is like the full coup deal, right? His involvement with the stop-the-steal hysteria earned him, it would appear, subpoena from the January 6 Committee as well. And frankly, not really surprising. Since leaving politics, Flynn has rebranded himself as a prominent figure in fringe political movements on the right.
Take a listen what he had to say over the weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLYNN: So, if we are going to have one nation under god which we must, we have to have one religion. One nation under God and one religion under God, right? All of us together working together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: One religion under God. OK, you hear that, Jews, One religion under God? You hear that Muslims? You hear that protestants? I mean, it`s a truly wild statement for a former political official and leader in the United States military. And on the one hand, this is mostly just the ramblings of a true crackpot figure.
But Flynn was someone who held a lot of legitimacy, holds a lot of legitimacy of the Republican base. And remember, thanks to a pardon from Donald Trump on charges of lying to the FBI. He`s a free man. Jenna Ellis is of course two, and Mark Meadows who`s just defying it. And Steve Bannon is at least for now a free man although only a free man because he too was pardoned by Trump.
They all have public platforms to keep this up, to keep plotting, to keep spreading the big lie, sewing doubt in our election integrity. Steve Bannon warning of a coming constitutional crisis. Given the chance to do it again, they will absolutely attempt another coup. The question before our country is, are we going to give them that chance.
Congressman Ruben Gallego represents Arizona`s 7th Congressional District. He`s been very outspoken about his experience during the January 6 insurrection including in a new interview with the Independent. And he joins me now.
Congressman, first as someone who served in the U.S. armed forces, I just want your reaction to watching what has happened to Michael Flynn. I mean, this is an individual who was called one of the finest intelligence officers of his generation. This individual was the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, you know, one of the key pillars of American intelligence apparatus, the key one for the DOD. And here he is running around. He advocated martial law, talking about the conspiracy being stolen, and that we have to have one religion under God.
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D-AZ): Look, this is probably the most un-American thing I`ve heard in quite a while. You know, Mr. Flynn, and I think people should stop calling him General Flynn. He`s no longer a general. Mr. Flynn served with Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Catholics, people from all over. I served with all the above, and people from, you know, Native American traditions.
We are very clear, there is no religion -- there is no one religion in this country. It`s been very clear since the Constitution of the United States. And I don`t know what this man is espousing but it`s crazy talk. We will not have one religion. We are a free country and you will be allowed to worship who you want or not worship. And there`s not going to -- Flynn or anybody else is ever going to be able to change that.
HAYES: You`ve been very vocal about your experience on the day of January 6, your desire to make sure that never happens again. And I wonder, from that perspective, as someone who is watching this take place and trying to plan how things may have to go down if violence did come to that chamber, if people came into the chamber, what you think about the increasing revelations of the coup plotters and how far along they got including Mark Meadows, the man you served with in the United States Congress.
GALLEGO: Well, look, nothing surprise me with Mark Meadows. I mean he was a cheap man before, and cheap in terms of his soul even before he left the House and went to the White House. So, it doesn`t surprise me that he sold our country for a person like Donald Trump. He would have done it for anybody.
Does it surprise me that they were plotting this coup as well as they did? Not really. I mean what surprises me though is the reaction to it. The fact that we have a not such a great and aggressive DOJ right now, the fact that we have a Republican Party who basically has endorsed the insurrection at least by ignoring the fact that it was an attempted insurrection, attempted a coup.
I thought better of them. I thought they`d be more patriotic than what they are now. Right now, they are just a group of people that are following a person, not even the Republican Party. Just you know, politicians just trying to sell their souls so that way they can win another election. It`s a very sad, sad reflection on the Republican Party right now.
HAYES: One of the members of your state delegation, a Republican named Paul Gosar has been -- I mean, courting controversy I think is to put it far too mildly. He put out an anime video that appeared to have him assaulting Alexander Ocasio-Cortez. He appeared at a conference of the white nationalist.
There`s discussion about some sort of official censure for Gosar, rather maybe a resolution taking him off committees. Do you support that?
GALLEGO: I do. Like, this has gone too far. This is not the first time he has incited violence. He`s hung out with anti-Semites, has said anti- Semitic, you know, phrases and tropes, you know, threatening the president also. It`s time to move on. He`s a joke. He`s been a joke to Congress. He`s not serving his constituents well.
If he doesn`t want to act, you know, in a civilized manner, then he shouldn`t be able to serve on committees. If he changes his tune, maybe it`s restore, but right now uh there`s no way that a member of congress like him should be serving. If he was in the private sector, he would have been fired by now by the way when you like threaten violence upon one of your co-workers.
But, you know, he continues to unfortunately get off the hook because you have someone like Congressman McCarthy who is -- you know, wants to be Speaker of the House and is afraid of losing his vote. And let me tell you. It`s not worth having the vote of an anti-Semite like Gosar in order to be speaker. I don`t think anybody wants to have that. But I guess, McCarthy feels like he needs it.
HAYES: You had an interesting -- you noted something interesting today about what was going on in your home state of Arizona with Doug Ducey who`s the governor there who`s doing a big hundred million dollar rural broadband thing. And you note in his -- in his announcement, the money came from the American Rescue Plan, President Biden`s initiative, and all Republicans voted against it.
The money, by the way, expands broad -- high-speed broadband, connect home schools, small businesses, more on underserved areas one of the largest broadband investments in state history. I`m guessing that that ARP and Biden didn`t get a huge shout-out at the press event for the governor today.
GALLEGO: I`m pretty sure it didn`t. But look, we are connecting rural America and, you know, people forget that, you know, Arizona has huge swaths of royals not just Maricopa and Pima. And during the, you know, COVID shutdown, a lot of them were significantly affected. It was very difficult for their students to get online to go to school. It`s very difficult for workers to get online and go to work or just simple as e- commerce.
So, we`re going to connect rural Arizona. You know, we have a not Donald Trump attitude. We don`t care that rural Arizona doesn`t vote for Democrats. They`re Arizonans, they`re Americans, we`re going to take care of them no matter what. I just wish that Doug Ducey would understand we`re on the same team here and actually give us credit for actually making this happen because it seems like -- it seems like he wants the best of both worlds. He wants the money, he wants the programs, but doesn`t want to give credit out.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Ruben Gallego, thank you so much for your time tonight.
GALLEGO: Thank you.
HAYES: Just a little over an hour ago, closing arguments wrapped up in the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. The case now goes to the hands of the jury. Next, how long until we might get a verdict. Why the judge dismissed one of the charges already. That`s right after this.
HAYES: After nearly two weeks of testimony, the case against Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who shot and killed two people and injured a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin last summer, came down to closing arguments today.
The prosecution`s main argument was that Rittenhouse created the dangerous situation when he himself drove 30 minutes from his home to the area where protest over the police killing of a black man had spiraled armed with a semi-automatic AR-15. And that in so doing, he cannot claim self-defense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BINGER: So, what you see in that video is his left arm reaching for the gun, holding it up. That is what provokes this entire incident. And one of the things to keep in mind is that when the defendant provokes the incident, he loses the right to self-defense. You cannot claim self-defense against a danger you create. That`s critical right here.
If you`re the one who is threatening others, you lose the right to claim self-defense. You lose the right to self-defense when you`re the one who brought the gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Kyle Rittenhouse killed two people last August, 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum and 26-year-old Anthony Huber. He also wounded a third man who survived. The Assistant District Attorney argued that Rittenhouse incited the first shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum when he pointed his AR-15 rifle at people. And he said, Rittenhouse created the conditions for the subsequent shootings because the crowd believed he was an active shooter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BINGER: In this case, the crowd was right. The crowd knew the defendant had just shot someone. When they`re coming after him, they know he`s just shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum. But you know, not every active shooter situation is the crowd have perfect knowledge. When they`re told that person running up the street just shot someone, we don`t have time in the moment to go back and take a look at the body and replay the video and make a decision before going after the person with the gun. Every day, we read about heroes that stop active shooters. That`s what was going on here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The defense also wrapped up their closing arguments this evening. They try to place the blame on the people who Kyle Rittenhouse shot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK RICHARDS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR KYLE RITTENHOUSE: Kyle shot Joseph Rosenbaum to stop a threat to this person. And I`m glad he shot him, because if Joseph Rosenbaum had got that gun, I don`t for a minute believe he wouldn`t have used it against somebody else. He was irrational and crazy. Every person who was shot was attacking Kyle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The defense just rested. The judge gave the jury final instructions. They will start deliberating first thing tomorrow.
Danya Perry is a former federal prosecutor, former New York State Deputy Attorney General. David Henderson is also former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney and they both join me now.
It`s great to have you here. I thought, you know, those clips we played and the closing arguments in general sort of distilled down I think the essence of the case even independent in some ways of the law which I think we`ll get into which is, you know, Rittenhouse, that moment that we all see in the video when Rittenhouse is on the ground and he has the gun and he shoots up, you know, clearly he is at some sense defending himself.
He`s on the ground. There`s someone over him, one of whom has a gun. But also, that situation was produced by the fact that a whole crowd thought that there was an active shooter and that he was it and was going to try to do the right thing.
And David, what is that cash out in the law? Like, that argument that in some ways precipitating the incident vitiates the self-defense -- your right to self-defense. Like, what does the law say about that?
DAVID HENDERSON, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I mean, Chris, you`re hitting the nail in the head. And honestly, you can even keep the argument tighter with regard to what Rittenhouse did, and that is gun owners understand you can own a gun, you can carry a gun. What they don`t seem to understand is you cannot threaten people with your gun.
The moment you point your gun at someone, you have now committed a crime, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and that person has the right to self-defense. That started with Rosenbaum. And Rittenhouse said, well, I shot him in part because he`s reaching for my gun. Well, you pointed your gun at him claiming that you had to use lethal force to stop him.
And I think the legal analysis really begins there. But it became very muddled over the course of this trial and it makes me concerned about the verdict.
HAYES: Yes, Danya, that point about -- I mean, that`s sort of in some ways the enraging tragedy of this entire thing which is that almost every actor and including Kyle Rittenhouse at least in those discrete moments has a plausible claim that they were trying to defend themselves. I mean, Rosenbaum reaches for the gun because he pointed at him. Then, Rittenhouse gets to say, well he`s reaching for my gun so I was defending myself.
And then, the crowd says well, he just shot someone. Go stop him. And then, he`s on the ground. And so, you`ve got this like set of incredibly horrific violent acts each of which have some plausible claim to self-defense.
DANYA PERRY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, that`s a great distillation of this trial and of this problem more broadly. The issue here is did Mr. Rittenhouse act reasonably in self-defense, and also did he provoke or has the prosecutor put it, create the very danger that eventually ended here? And that`s exactly what you can`t do.
In Wisconsin, you can own a gun. You can carry it openly. You cannot create a danger and then claim that you`re acting in self-defense. So, that`s the essence of it. And it is a true jury issue. It`s interesting that the facts are -- very few facts are in dispute here. There was video, there was testimony, and there are some places where the video may have been grainy and that may be a question for the jury to determine.
But at the end of the day, it really will come down to those two questions. Did Kyle Rittenhouse act reasonably and did he provoke this entire situation? Did he -- did he cause the very trouble that that is at issue in this trial?
HAYES: Yes, and that --
PERRY: And it`s a tough issue for the jury to decide. I think you can never predict what a jury will do. It may be a tough one.
HAYES: Yes. I mean, it seems to me that I -- from the amount of the I`ve watched, the analysis I`ve read, that it`s in some ways actually a hard case the prosecution to make for a variety of reasons that hasn`t necessarily been made -- been made easier either by the judge or by the prosecution`s own performance. Is that generally your sense if you had to sort of distill a top line here, David?
HENDERSON: Yes. Chris, from the get-go, I didn`t think this was a winnable case.
HENDERSON: I feel better after closing arguments today but I didn`t until closing arguments. And here`s part of the problem. The overarching themes here are not simply self-defense and whether or not Rittenhouse`s beliefs were reasonable. Indirectly, you`re putting the police on trial in this case. They saw him out there. One of the charges that they had was him unlawfully carrying a rifle.
The police saw him out with the rifle. They passed out water to him. He ran down the street holding the assault rifle after he shot three people, killing two, and they didn`t even stop him and question him. Indirectly, you`re putting the police on trial. You`re also putting gun laws on trial.
And so, in this case, what`s consistent with the other cases that we currently see in the news is people who believe in those laws and who believe in the police and the police are being taken for granted these days are likely to vote to a quick Kyle Rittenhouse for reasons going far beyond the legalities of this specific trial.
HAYES: What do you think, Danya?
PERRY: I agree with a lot of what David said. But it is as we see on Twitter and we stay in public debate, it`s a polarizing case. And so, while there may be some jurors who go in that direction, there are maybe others who will be troubled. In this case, the judge took away with one hand. He took away a misdemeanor count at the very last minute, but he gave with the other hand and he allowed lesser included offenses to be charged.
And so, you could very well see -- again, I hate to be in the prediction business when you`ve got a jury deliberating, but you could very well see a hung jury here or compromise -- and a compromised verdict.
HAYES: Wait, can I stop you there for one second? I just want to follow up on that because I didn`t actually understand that and I watched that happen today. So, he takes away the weapons charge which seems like clear-cut. I mean, he was definitely holding that weapon, right? He cited an exceptional law dealing with hunting, the age of the defendant, the length of the barrel which apparently was not long enough to qualify for the offense he`d been judged with. And then he said, they consider lesser charges on whether he provoked the attack. What is -- Danya, what does that add up to?
PERRY: So, you`re absolutely right. The sixth charge which was the misdemeanor unlawful possession of a weapon count by a minor seemed to have been a slam dunk. He was, of course, underage. He was of course, carrying a rifle. So, that should have been an easy win for the prosecution.
The judge citing what he believed to be a certain murkiness in the law, dismissed it at the very last minute, not giving the prosecution an opportunity to appeal that. So, that is gone and that cannot be the basis for compromise verdict by the jury.
The judge did allow lesser included offenses with respect to two of the charged crimes. And so, that would be potentially an opportunity for the jury if they cannot agree unanimously on one of the more serious offenses to say OK, let`s split the baby here and let`s agree on a lower offense. Although those charges do still carry very significant penalties.
HAYES: All right Danya Perry and David Henderson, thank you both. I really -- that was very clarifying. I appreciate it.
PERRY: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Meanwhile, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones lost in court today after a judge found him liable for defamation for spreading lies about the Sandy Hook attack. One of the lawyers, in that case, joins me just ahead.
HAYES: It`s a very crowded field but Alex Jones just might be the preeminent purveyor of sick conspiracy theories in this country, a fringe radio host who made his living selling overpriced ineffective vitamin supplements like these with names like alpha power and brain force.
Jones was catapulted into the mainstream when then-candidate Donald Trump appeared on his radio show in 2015 and praised his "amazing reputation." Jones has spent his time ranting about truly bizarre conspiracies, I mean, really bespoke ones, not just the main ones. Like, the government is controlling hurricanes with weather weapons and my personal favorite, chemicals in the water turning frogs gay.
He`s been pushing really dangerous lies, 9/11 was an inside job, that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring, and most horribly, that the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting were six adults and 20 first graders were murdered, that it never happened, that it was a hoax, that it was staged by crisis actors.
Most of Jones`s videos about Sandy Hook have been removed from the web but here`s one example that aired in the excellent PBS frontline documentary United States Conspiracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX JONES, RADIO HOST: The whole thing was fake. I mean, even I couldn`t believe it. I knew they jumped on it, used the crisis, hyped it up, but then I did deep research and my gosh, it just pretty much didn`t have --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Jones was sued for defamation by eight Sandy Hook families who argued that he profited by spreading lies about the murder of their loved ones. Jones tried to blame his comments on a "form of psychosis" brought on by the "trauma of the media and corporations lying so much."
Today, a judge ruled for the family saying because Jones refused to turn over documents ordered by the courts including financial records, he was liable by default. So, what does that mean and what happens next?
Josh Koskoff is one of the lawyers for the Sandy Hook families and he joins me now. Mr. Koskov, it`s good to have you. I mean, first just describe for us what the actual suit was here? What were you alleging in the lawsuit?
JOSHUA KOSKOFF, ATTORNEY FOR THE SANDY HOOK FAMILIES: Sure, Chris. Alex Jones did something very simple. He, in an effort to make a lot of money, really easily and without much work, he decided that he would prey on the families of Sandy Hook to come up -- come up with a theory, a story, a narrative that was so ridiculous and cruel that it would appeal to a certain member -- amount of people in the -- in our society and that would drive traffic to his platform in which he could sell his products like you described and make a lot of money really easily and really quickly.
And that`s exactly what he did. And it didn`t matter to him to what advantage she was making of the families pain.
HAYES: I mean, obviously --
HAYES: Yes. So, in the United States, you can say a lot of horrible things about people under the First Amendment, but you know, defamation exists. And what`s the -- what`s the standard here that you`re presenting to the judge that that presented this -- that pushes us over from someone being an a heinous person to actually committing a civil infraction?
KOSKOFF: Sure. Well, I mean, first of all, the motive here is to make money and that he makes money by getting people`s attention and standing out among a field of people who will say terrible things. He knows that what he`s saying is false. He knows it is totally beyond the pale. There`s no value to the speech whatsoever as none of the hallmarks of the type of speech that we hold dear in our country that we might disagree with but that we recognize people have the right to say.
HAYES: Today, the judge ruled in the family`s favor due to -- I mean, my understanding is that Jones` posture towards the suit is just like, a little like Bannon`s posture towards the January committee. Like, I`m just not doing anything, screw you. Is that more -- I mean, what happened and what does this ruling mean?
KOSKOFF: Yes, it`s a -- it`s an apt analogy. And it just -- it just shows that no matter how many -- how much a person disrespects and has no respect for our judicial system, the judicial system provides them with the same opportunities as if they respected the system.
What happened today was exactly what Alex Jones knew would happen which is the judge gave him a lot of warnings to come up with the evidence that were -- that the families are entitled to that shows his business conduct and the parameters about how he makes money.
Jones must not want us to see that. He must not want us to do that so badly that he will even accept what he knew was coming was a default. So, that just begs the question of exactly, you know, how -- could it actually be even worse than we think it is.
HAYES: That`s striking. So, the -- at issue are documents relating to his business enterprise and the means by which he makes money which are subject to discovery for the suit, and he has just refused to hand those over and is instead essentially affirmatively opted for default judgment against him to be liable for the defamation rather than produce those documents.
KOSKOFF: Exactly. I mean, first of all, you -- I`ve learned that you underestimate Alex Jones at your own peril. He`s an extremely smart person. He knows exactly what he`s doing. Everything he does is calculated. This was not -- this was a decision to not disclose this information because I`m sure they felt that they would be better off having to go in front of a jury without the jury knowing all of this and the sort of details of how they make money without due regard to other people`s lives or safety.
HAYES: So, what happens next? I mean, this has been a nine-year journey, I think, for these families or somewhere around that timeline. What happens next?
KOSKOFF: What happens next is the walk-off on the hearing and damage is really just -- it`s a hearing before a jury. So, the families still get their day in court and get to explain to a Connecticut jury exactly how Alex Jones impacted their lives by preying on their -- on their pain and by getting in the way of their healing process and allowing them to grieve something that sadly really did happen.
If there`s anybody that would love for Sandy Hook not to have happened, Chris, it`s the Sandy Hook families.
HAYES: How long have -- has this suit been working its way through the court? I followed it here and there. It`s been a story that I`ve sort of kept up on. And it seems like it`s been a very long time to get to this moment today.
KOSKOFF: It has been. Again, remember, the law has given -- the system has given Alex Jones a lot of opportunities, Chris, to even extensions of time to -- and that`s what`s resulted in this delay. They -- he filed an appeal that got to the Connecticut Supreme Court. He tried to appeal that decision to the United States Supreme Court. All of this ate up months and months of time.
And I`m sure he hoped that the families would just lose faith and give up but if he thought that, he doesn`t understand the resolve of these families.
HAYES: How are your clients, these families, how are they feeling today?
KOSKOFF: I mean, they`re feeling both that pleased that the court put its foot -- that put this foot down not that the court has been doing it, but they`re also feeling like this is another ploy by Alex Jones to prevent them from learning what went on behind closed doors and to prevent them from accomplishing one of the things they really want to accomplish which is to make it clear to the public that there are lots of ways to make money in this country and this is not one of them.
This is not acceptable. They do not want to see other people go through what they have been and then to be preyed on like they were prayed on by this man.
HAYES: Yes. Speaking to editorialize for a moment, not legally but morally, it`s indefensibly despicable what has happened. And thank you for making some time with us tonight, Josh Koskoff.
KOSKOFF: I appreciate it.
HAYES: It is finally infrastructure week in America. The President signs his bipartisan infrastructure deal into law. Senator Sherrod Brown is here to talk about the huge win for the Biden administration just ahead. Stick around.
HAYES: Texas has become home to some of the most radical right-wing legislation in the country. In fact, Roe v Wade is effectively gutted there right now. And at the same time, Republican Greg Abbott has fallen out of favor with many in the state. The latest polling shows his approval underwater, 48 percent disapproval, just 43 percent approving.
It`s a sign of the Republican governor`s vulnerabilities as he faces a primary challenge from the right in the person of former Texas Republican Party Chair Allen West. Well, today, Abbott is getting a formidable challenger on the left as Better O`Rourke announces his campaign for governor.
O`Rourke was a Texas Congressman who rose to national prominence when he came within three points of unseating Senator Ted Cruz in a state where Donald Trump had beaten Hillary Clinton by nine points just two years before. He ran in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary solidifying his national presence in head-to-head matchups with other major Democratic contenders.
Tomorrow night, Beto will join our show for an exclusive interview to discuss how he plans to beat Greg Abbott in a state that has not had a Democratic governor since 1995. You do not want to miss it.
Up next, no matter which party wins the governor`s mansion in Texas next year, they will have more money than ever to help their state now that President Biden has signed the bipartisan infrastructure bill into law. That`s next.
HAYES: To understand the core of President Joe Biden`s political problem right now, look no further than Arizona`s Republican Governor Doug Ducey. Last week, he took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to detail all the ways "the administration is hostile to the state I lead." And then today, at a great fanfare, he sent out a press release titled, Governor Ducey invests $100 million to expand high-speed broadband.
Oh that sounds like a good idea. Where did the money for such an important improvement come from? The funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act. Oh, yes, that would be the same American Rescue Plan pushed by Joe Biden the minute he won the presidency, signed into law by Joe Biden earlier this year without a single, not one, Republican vote.
The bill was even watered down by Arizona`s own Senator Kyrsten Sinema when she infamously gave a thumbs down to raising the federal minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. Yet, the governor of Arizona is perfectly happy to use the money from the American Rescue Plan that Joe Biden signed into law just days after slamming Biden for not helping his state.
It`s the quandary the President finds himself in right now. He faces implacable opposition even as he passes extremely popular legislation, like for instance, the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that he signed into law today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: When you see those projects starting in your hometowns, I want you to feel what I feel, pride. Pride of what we can do together as the United States of America. Folks, you know, the same goes for my plan to Build Back Better for the people, getting folks back to work and reducing cost of things like child care, elder care, housing, health care, prescription drugs. Together with the infrastructure bill, millions of lives will be changed for the better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The infrastructure law enjoys 63 percent approval according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. The Build Back Better Bill which is yet to come over vote has a 58 approval, and yet the president`s approval rating in that very same poll is just 41, which raises a sticky question for Democrats in the midterms, if passing popular legislation doesn`t make you popular with the voters, what does?
Senator Sherrod Brown is a Democrat of Ohio who`s not up for re-election next year, but hoping to get a Democrat elected to the state`s other Senate seat, and he joins me now. Senator, I want to read you a headline which I`m sure you would cheer. This is the kind of Manna from Heaven for politicians.
This is the Columbus Dispatch. "After months of politics, the infrastructure bill is now law. What`s next for Ohio? For Ohio, the law could mean a whole host of things, money for Columbus transportation projects, a new bridge to ease congestion on the Brent Spence Bridge, broadband in Appalachia, and maybe even Amtrak routes." Are you excited about the ribbon cuttings and such that are -- that is coming Ohio`s way?
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): Well, I`m excited about the ribbon cuttings but I`m excited more about putting people to work, about building the Brent Spence Bridge, about what it means in Appalachia and in the east side of Cleveland to the first students to have broadband. I`m excited about the investment in public transit systems in Ohio.
We know that`s all part of this bill. And I -- you know, I hear this about poll rate, poll numbers, and first, it`s 11 months till the next election, but more importantly, it`s because we aren`t talking about what we have accomplished. We didn`t talk enough about the child tax credit which 90 of Ohio families since March -- I`m sorry -- since July have gotten over the three -- are getting a $3000 tax cut, 90 of Ohio`s families are getting at least that amount. We didn`t talk about fixing the pension.
We`re not -- so one once these two bills are done right now, this one and the infrastructure and then Build Back Better, then we all go on the road and we start talking about it and how it affects people`s lives. And it clearly affects people`s lives in a positive way.
And you know, I want voters in Macon, Georgia in July to say, you know, I voted for Biden and Harris and I voted for Warnock and Ossoff and my life got better. And that`s what we`re going to be seeing and hearing. And those poll numbers will look very different and the election will look very different in 2020.
HAYES: Can I -- just to follow up on that on the child tax credit which I`ve been fascinated by both because I`ve followed the sort of long policy pre-history of this which you have been fighting for a very long time. It came to fruition. It`s --some extension is probably going to be in the Build Back Better bill. It depends on how long.
When you talk about that, do you hear constituents talk about it voluntarily? Like, are you getting people saying like, I`m getting this thing and it`s really helping me. Are people aware of it in their lives?
BROWN: Well, they`re absolutely aware of it. They don`t really know where it came from. And one of the things we do is around this time every month and we did it again this week, we asked people, tell us your stories about what the child tax credit means to you. It relieves the anxiety of the last week of the month to figure out how to cobble together the money to pay your rent.
One father said, I can now buy equipment for my daughter`s fastpitch softball team. A mother said, I sent my kid to -- my son to summer camp this year for a week. We`re hearing people say, I`m setting aside money for community college, all the things that come out of this. And we listen to those stories and then we talk about those stories.
BROWN: I mean, I don`t make predictions and I never really have on your show much, Chris, over the years, but one prediction I`ll make is Child Tax Credits going to be as popular, social security. And how dare Republicans, all of whom voted no, as you remember, and Democrats all of us voted yes, how dare they try to take it away in 2022 or 2024 or whenever the next election cycle comes up?
HAYES: I first covered you back in 2006 or the roundup of 2006 when you ran for Senate in Ohio. And you`re taking on incumbent Mike DeWine, I believe, if I`m not mistaken who`s now the governor. And I think you know, DeWine, obviously a Republican, but I think he`s done a creditable job on some of the COVID stuff. He was quite early in in responding.
Rob Portman, I think you have a good working relationship with. And in fact, Rob Portman, one of the Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill and was at the White House today. I got to ask you what you think about this Republican primary happening in your state which really just feels like a race to the bottom where you`ve got one candidate running ads, telling everyone that Josh Mandel is Jewish. You got Josh Mandel, you know, pulling over the side of the road saying that, like, everyone should massively resist vaccines. I mean, what is going on in that race?
BROWN: Well, they -- essentially, they`ve all -- they`re all against -- almost all of them are against the infrastructure bill which Senator Portman and I teamed up on and the number of Senate Republicans, not all that many House Republicans voted for and they`re all paying a political price.
They`ve lost their minds. I mean, we have a good strong candidate, Tim Ryan, who understands the dignity of work, who`s running his campaign putting workers at the midst -- at the center of his campaign is he will do that in the Senate. And I think that this is a seat -- it`s not one people are counting on much because Trump carried Ohio twice by eight points.
There`s only three of us in the Senate that represents state -- Democrats who represent states Trump won twice, John Tester and Joe Manchin, but we`re going to -- the news is going to be good coming out of this race. We have a good candidate, and they lost their minds on the Republican side.
HAYES: Final question for you is also about your state and redistricting where the Republicans there are -- they`re pushing -- they`ve already got a wildly gerrymandered map which they crafted back in 2010 and the aftermath of that. They`re pushing to add even another seat. It would end up with a crazy like, 13-2 balance.
Again, people think of Ohio now as a red state. You represented it. Trump won it by eight points. But a 13-2 map, the gap between that and how divided the state is, it really seems quite a lot.
BROWN: Yes. I mean, we go to court. All the legal end voters and people who have fought this extreme gerrymandering -- and there`s 12 to 4 for the last 10 years, and not one of those 16 seats ever changed parties during the five elections. That`s how precise they do in a state that`s growing real fast -- how precisely the redistricting.
You know, there`ll be lawsuits. I don`t think this is going to stand. But I know that they`re all like Mitch McConnell. All they care about is power and right-wing judges and big tax cuts. That`s what they live for. That`s what they continue to do. And the voters aren`t going to buy it this time.
HAYES: Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, one of those three senators who represents those states, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
That is ALL IN on this Monday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.