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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 11/16/21

Guests: Helene Cooper, Beto O`Rourke, Nikole Hannah-Jones


Trump Lawyer Sidney Powell believes that CIA Director Gina Haspel had embarked on a secret mission to get the server and destroy the computer server in Germany which contains evidence that a deep state cabal used rigged voting machines to change millions of votes during the 2020 election. The House is expected to vote on a resolution to censure Republican Congressman Paul Gosar and consider a motion to remove him from the House Oversight Committee. Beto O`Rourke announced his bid to become the first Democratic Governor of Texas in over 25 years. The 1619 Project was conceived by Nikole Hannah-Jones with the goal of reframing the discussion around American history, putting the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the conversation.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: They think that`s OK, but voting for infrastructure is bad and unacceptable because that goes against the party line. And that is why they`re the absolute worst. And that is tonight`s "REIDOUT." ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts right now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN.

MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Within the swing states, if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities and he could place them on those states and basically rerun an election in each of those states.

HAYES: New details on the length the Trump team went to pressuring the Pentagon to steal the election for him and pushing bonkers theories about the head of the CIA and a server in Germany.

SIDNEY POWELL, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: It is somehow related to this but I do not know whether good guys got it or bad guys got it.

HAYES: Then, Democrats moved to censure Republican Paul Gosar for his threatening anime video as Republicans try to kick moderates to the curb. Plus --

BETO O`ROURKE (D-TX), GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I`m running for governor and I want to tell you why.

HAYES: Beto O`Rourke takes on Greg Abbott in Texas. He`ll join me live tonight. And we have an exclusive interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones on her groundbreaking new 1619 Project book when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. I`m going to sketch out for you tonight a conspiracy theory that was apparently floating around the former President of the United States and the upper echelons of power in this country in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

Now, I got to say, it`s a conspiracy so outlandish and ridiculous the fact that anyone with a line of communication to the commander-in-chief believed it is honestly shocking and deeply disquieting. But here we go, all right.

According to theory, there is a computer server in Germany which contains evidence that a shadowy deep state cabal used rigged voting machines to change millions of votes during the 2020 election in order to steal the election from Donald Trump and hand it to Joe Biden. Here is Sidney Powell, one of the lawyers who worked with Trump to attempt a coup discussing this mind-blowing conspiracy just over two weeks after the election.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s reports that there was a piece of hardware, probably a server picked up in Germany. Is that true and is it related to this?

POWELL: That is true. It is somehow related to this. But I do not know whether good guys got it or bad guys got it.


HAYES: OK, that`s a strange thing to ask out of context and to answer in that way. I don`t know if good guys got it or bad guys got it. What are you talking about? Now, that claim is outlandish enough that there`s some server that has a smoking gun evidence the election fraud that again didn`t happen, that maybe the good guys or the bad guys got it, but it gets so much weirder, OK.

According to this theory, then-CIA Director Gina Haspel traveled to Germany to destroy this smoking gun server with all the evidence the conspiracy to steal the election from Trump. But while she was there, the conspiracy alleges, something went wrong. Haspel was injured possibly during a special forces raid. And again, depending on who you believe, she was either killed or detained at Guantanamo Bay on treason charges or still being held captive in Germany.

Keep in mind, Gina Haspel is just chilling in Virginia as the head of CIA. Like, she`s not anywhere. She`s just there, OK. But that`s what the theory says. Now, you`re probably thinking, this is the kind of unhinged paranoid thinking that only lives deep within Facebook groups and anonymous forums. Reality is much weirder than that.

You see, according to reporting in Jon Karl`s new book Betrayal, we`ve learned Sidney Powell, Donald Trump`s lawyer who we played for you a moment ago, not only believed there was a secret server in Germany with proof of a rigged election that she said there, she also apparently believed the part about the CIA director being held as a political prisoner for her role in the cover-up.

Again, according to the book, Sidney Powell, that woman you saw there, the President`s lawyer, reached out to a senior Trump intelligence official who worked in the Pentagon, a guy named Ezra Cohen -- and she knew him through their mutual associate Michael Flynn.

So, she calls Ezra Cohen who she thinks is going to be a reliable ally and demands he take action. "Gina Haspel has been hurt and taken into custody in Germany," Powell told Cohen. You need to launch a special operations mission to get her.

Karl goes on to write, Powell believed Haspel had embarked on this secret mission to get the server and destroyed the evidence. In other words, the CIA director was part of the conspiracy. OK, just take a second and drink this in. She calls up someone high-ranking official at the Pentagon to say, yo, dude, you got to launch a Special Forces mission to go get back the CIA Director who`s been captured because she was trying to get back the secret server that is evidence -- what?

I mean, Donald Trump`s lawyer, I guess, one revelation here was not just cynically promoting bogus conspiracies to sow doubt on the election. According to his report, she was a true believer. Calling up allies at the Department of Defense to rescue the head of CIA whom she believed was guilty of a conspiracy to steal the election.


Then, remember this woman had the ear, the trust of the former president, the most powerful man on earth. A man who when she made that call, still had control of the nuclear codes. It`s also worth noting here the man she called, Ezra Cohen, was not just some random Trump official. In fact, it kind of makes sense why Sidney Powell would think he would be sympathetic to her conspiracies.

You see, during the early days of the administration, Cohen was one of the sources who leaked information to House Republican Devin Nunes about the incidental surveillance of Trump campaign officials by intelligence agencies over their communications with foreign officials.

You may not remember this. It was a big thing on Fox, the so-called unmasking scandal which infuriated Trump. It dominated much of his attention over the next few years. So, that`s what Cohen is most known for being kind of a loyal soldier there.

He was first brought into the fold under the wing of Michael Flynn, Trump`s first national security advisor. And Flynn was only on the day -- job for 24 days before he was fired. He ultimately pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI as part of the Russia investigation only to receive a full pardon from Trump.

Well, after Flynn was pushed out, again, this guy Cohen, he bounced around a number of positions. But in the administration, he was in the orbit. He was a Trump guy. First, he goes to the Justice Department, then the Department of Defense. And it`s there in the pentagon in the waning days of this administration that he gets the call from the President`s own lawyer about the crazy Germany CIA conspiracy theory. You got to go rescue Gina Haspel.

Can you imagine the situation that would make it the case that the CIA director was kidnapped in Germany and the way that the defense official found out was a call from the President`s lawyer? That`s not the only call he got like that. He got a separate frantic call from his old boss, Michael Flynn, who like Powell, also fell down the fringe right-wing conspiracy rabbit hole.

And again, according to Karl`s book, Flynn calls Ezra Cohen while Ezra Cohen is on a trip to Middle East. "Flynn told him to cut his trip short and get back to the United States immediately because there were big things about to happen, according the book.

Karl writes that Flynn told Cohen, we need you. He told the DOD official, there was going to be an epic showdown over the election results. Cohen, to his credit, rebuffed Flynn, but then called his former protege a "quitter" for admitting defeat rather than pushing these conspiracies.

Again, still, serious attempt, former administration official, to get the Department of Defense to go along with the run-up to the insurrection. And Cohen is not the only person Flynn was talking to. We know from contemporaneous reports he also got into Trump`s head about potentially having the DOD use the military to impose martial law and "re-run the election." An idea Trump`s advisor has ultimately shot down.

But again, what does it mean that something like that was being considered in the West Wing? Because these conspiracy theories with right-wing brain poisoning had access to a president with similar brain poisoning who was desperate to do anything to stay on power even if it meant plunging a knife into the heart of American democracy.

And in the final days, that seemed to concern some of the cabinet members. Karl reports that Trump`s Secretary of Defense Mark Esper`s goal at the end of the administration "was to prevent the use of the military against American citizens during the days before the day of, the days after election."

Think about that. That`s his cheap goal as head of the Pentagon. Let`s make sure that we don`t turn the military on our own people. And he was ultimately pushed out in the waning days of the administration after Trump`s enforcers inside the White House issued a memo which accused him of insufficient loyal -- insufficient loyalty to Trump in part because he wouldn`t do that. Because during the protests against police brutality in the summer of 2020, he had objected to using military force against protesters.

Helene Cooper is the Pentagon Correspondent for The New York Times where she covered Ezra Cohen`s work in the Department of Defense under the Trump administration. And maybe, Helene, we could start with Esper and the figure of Esper.

I mean, look in any country that is experiencing, you know, essentially democratic backsliding or problems with its transition to peaceful power, like, the military is going to be a key player however they come out. And one of the things that`s clear from the accrued reporting, and I`d like to hear your perspective from your perch, is that people in the former President`s inner orbit and in the Pentagon both saw the writing in the wall about the inevitability of the Pentagon attempting to be roped into this kind of thing.

HELENE COOPER, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Hi, Chris. Thanks for having me. That was definitely a big worry at the Pentagon in the last year of the Trump administration, in sort of the last six to seven months of the Trump administration starting as you suggest with the Black Lives Matter protests, the moment that President Trump sort of got Mark Esper, the Defense Secretary at the time, and General Mark Milley who is still the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to walk across Lafayette Square with him so that he could do that photo op holding the Bible in front of Saint John`s Church.


The Pentagon sort of went on red alert, if you may. Both General Milley and Mark Esper were pushing back very much against the President`s efforts to invoke the Insurrection Clause to set the military against these Black Lives Matter protesters. And Trump -- that all set the stage for President Trump to end up firing Mark Esper, the Defense Secretary as soon as the election -- as soon as election day had passed.

But during those months, it`s so weird going back and thinking about this. That`s all these guys were talking about, the top generals, and a lot of the officials at the pentagon was about keeping the military out of the election process.

You get on the phone with them and they constantly were saying we`re going to stay out of it. This is not our role. We don`t -- there is no role for the military. And what they meant by that, the translation for that is they were afraid that the president was going to try to use the military to stick on civil rights protesters, that he would try to invoke the military, in some sort of way around election protests, which is why this ended up leading to the reticence that we saw on January 6 when you had Capitol riots and the military -- you had a pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol and the military was slower to respond than they normally might have been.

And that`s partly because for months, these guys kept saying we`re going to stay out of it, we`re going to stay out of it, we don`t want to -- we don`t want to be roped into this. So, it`s like, it all -- there`s -- I mean, looking back at this presidency, particularly in the last year, he -- president -- Former President Trump really managed to turn the Pentagon into nuts.

HAYES: Yes. And it`s -- in some ways, I mean, the kind of -- you know, one way of looking at this is a call from Michael Flynn to Ezra Cohen that we knew personally and had been kind of a protege or Sidney Powell, is evidence of the fact that they weren`t getting anywhere through the actual chain of command, right?

Like, the fact that Sidney Powell has to call Ezra Cohen and say go send Special Forces to rescue Gina Haspel which is a truly nutty thing to say. What was Cohen`s role in that -- in the Pentagon in the last days, because he gets put over there? And, you know, a lot of heads turn when that happens.

Esper gets dismissed. He gets replaced by Miller. Cohen and Kash Patel go over there. There`s this feeling of like, what exactly is Trump up to over at the Pentagon.

COOPER: There was. There was so much questioning about that. Because Trump had brought in the last few weeks, he brought in a number of newcomers including Kash Patel. Ezra Cohen came in a few months before but after once Esper left, there were a bunch of new people that came in who were widely viewed as sort of Trump acolytes.

Ezra Cohen came into the Pentagon, viewed as a Trump acolyte. He had been in the various jobs in the Trump administration, he`d been at the White House when Michael Flynn was National Security Advisor. As you -- as you mentioned, when Flynn was fired or resigned or whatever he did, H.R. -- he then worked for H.R. McMaster. But McMaster couldn`t stand him, and ended up sort of ushering him out.

He`s then resurfaced I think at DHS. He ended up at the Pentagon in the last administration and in the last year of the Trump presidency and was sort of looked on as oh, this is a guy that they`ve known, they`ve dealt with before because he has an Intel background but he was definitely viewed as a Trump guy.

And then, in the end, by the time we got to the craziness between November and January, Ezra Cohen, like many others, including to a certain extent the new Defense Secretary, the Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, found themselves in a situation where they`re still -- they`re basically trying to, you know, push back the -- you know, the real out there claims from both Michael Flynn who used to be viewed -- was widely viewed as just your traditional general, and sort of went down that rabbit hole as you suggested, and Sidney.

The Sidney Powell thing on the whole Gina Haskell being kidnapped in Germany -- I just -- I don`t know how to -- I can`t even get my head around that.

HAYES: No, I can`t either. And I think that was probably what Ezra Cohen was thinking on the other end of that line. Helene Cooper, as always, thank you so much.

COOPER: Thank you.

HAYES: A lot still ahead tonight. Beto O`Rourke is here for his first national television interview since announcing he`s running for Governor of Texas. Plus, my interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones on the newly expanded 1619 Project. Trust me, you don`t want to miss it. Stick around



HAYES: Tomorrow, the House is expected to vote on a resolution to censure Republican Congressman Paul Gosar and consider a motion to remove him from the House Oversight Committee.

Last week, the Arizona Congressman posted an altered video that depicted an anime character with Gosar`s head superimposed killing another character with Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez`s head. The video then showed Gosar`s character attacking a character with President Biden`s head.

We`re not showing the actual video because well, it`s a threat of violence where an anime version of Gosar kills one of his colleagues. Well, that`s all very disturbing. Congressman Gosar has also not apologized to the video. In fact, he has dug in saying, "It is a symbolic cartoon. It is not real life. Congressman Gosar cannot fly. The hero of the cartoon goes after the monster, the policy monster of open borders. I will always fight to defend the rule of law, securing our borders, and the American first agenda."

Just tonight, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi addressed Gosar`s actions and why they`re going to vote on censuring him.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): He made threats suggestions about harming a member of Congress. That is an insult not only an endangerment of that member of Congress, but an insult to the institution of the House of Representatives. we cannot have members joking about murdering each other as well as threatening the President of the United States.


HAYES: Michael Steele is the former Chairman of the Republican National Committee and he joins me now. I thought that -- Pelosi`s statement, we cannot have measure -- members joking about murdering each other as well as the president, you know, when you put it that way, it`s like -- it`s a little hard to disagree with that as a general rule about how you`re going to conduct any institution whether it`s a workplace or the Halls of Congress.


MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think that`s right, Chris. But I think there`s a broader reality that Nancy Pelosi and others are trying to deal with, and that is just the slow and sometimes fast roll into the space, this downward spiral --


STEELE: -- into this sort of personalized vehemence and antagonism, outright violence towards each other as members of the House. It`s you know, arguably from the Republican side towards Democrats. So, I think a lot of this is uh Nancy`s way of saying look, we really got to be serious about this and take this serious particularly on the heels of January 6.

I think absent all of those things, you probably could do it -- you know, most members would probably look at it as a one-off and go oh, yes, well, that was kind of dumb. He shouldn`t have done it. And you would probably have a little bit more relaxed approach. But not in this environment. You cannot be relaxed when Gosar deliberately puts this into the public space as a sitting member of the United States Congress. You have to respond to it.

HAYES: I total -- I totally agree with that which is why I found his -- you know, the sort of weird defense of it so lame. Because yes, in another context, one could say like, it`s a cartoon but here`s -- look, here`s what he -- this is what Gosar tweets. This -- I think it`s still up.

This is 12:05 on January 6th. Biden should concede. I want his concession on my desk tomorrow morning. Don`t make me come over there with the mob that would then storm the Capitol. Like that`s -- and tagging the guy who is one of the coordinators of Stop the Steel.

Like, that mentality which was understood by the crowd as basically a show of force, a violent show of force to stop the peaceful transfer of power is the context that of course hangs over all of this.

STEELE: Well, and what`s important about that, it feeds right into what the January 6 Commission is trying to get to the bottom of. How much of evidence like that, attitudes, behaviors that were put out into the public space that riled up people on the heels after the election and certainly before January 6 sort of set the predicate in motion for what ultimately occurred.

So, yes, I mean, when you have a member -- like, OK, I`m going to wait to find out what Gosar thinks about the election or if I got to put it on his desk. No. But it feeds into a broader storyline that had been perpetuated by President Trump for over four years. And specifically, Chris, going back to the spring and early summer of 2020, when the President made it very clear, if I don`t win the election, it`s because the other side cheated, because there was fraud.

So, all those dots connect and Gosar wittingly or unwittingly continues to provide further evidence for January 6 Commissioned to complete its work.

HAYES: So, you`ve got -- so Gosar -- there`s -- giving him the censure vote, our reporting from the room -- some of the reporting I see -- saw suggested in a closed-door caucus meeting, McCarthy urges a no vote on the censure. We`ve got to stick together. But stick together is not the operative principle for other folks.

So, Liz Cheney, of course, is getting essentially disowned by -- the Wyoming GOP which voted to no longer recognize her as a Republican. And which -- again, that -- you know, again, she`s you know, serving on this committee, she voted for impeachment, she`s outspoken about Trump. Trump is adored by the base. The one that to me is even more wild is John Katco who has now been targeted.

You know, he`s a homeland -- ranking member on Homeland Security. He`d be the chair of the next Congress if they took over. And Marjorie Taylor-Green and others are basically calling for him to lose his committee chairmanship not for anything other than voting for that infrastructure bill.

STEELE: Yes. This from a committee member -- from a member of the caucus that doesn`t even have a committee assignment, who`s not even recognized officially as a member of the House. So, really, you know, Marjorie Taylor- Greene and others of her ilk speaking out in this matter is not serious.

But what makes it problematic is that the Republican leadership is not serious about dealing with it. The fact that you`re sitting here saying, well, let`s stick together guys, you know, in the face of something that is so obnoxious as what Gosar did, so appalling as stripping down the leadership of Liz Cheney, to me just speaks to how -- to be polite, Chris, on this evening, wayward the party has um traveled from its moorings.

I mean, the Wyoming party telling they -- we no longer recognize you as a Republican, well, OK, I don`t remember seeing your signature on my voter registration card or --


HAYES: Right, yes. It`s a very --

STEELE: -- or on the application when I sign. So, who gives a rats patootie what you recognize. You don`t get to make that decision. And that`s the cancel culture that has grown inside the GOP where they want to cancel who you are as a Republican. That`s a problem.

HAYES: Denunciation. We`ll see. I mean, the primary voters of that state will get a -- get a say in this, and that will be very interesting to watch. Michael Steele, as always, thank you.

STEELE: You got it.

HAYES: Don`t go anywhere. I`m going to ask Beto O`Rourke about his campaign to become the first Democratic Governor of Texas in over 25 years. How he plans to turn Texas blue, after this.



ANN RICHARDS (D), TEXAS STATE TREASURER: I`m delighted to be with you this evening because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like.



HAYES: That was then-Texas State Treasurer Ann Richards, a true legend, giving the keynote speech at the 1988 Democratic National convention. Her speech, like many convention keynotes, helped propel her political career. Just two years later, in 1990, she was elected Governor of Texas. And that was the last time the state elected a Democratic governor.

In fact, no Democrat has won a statewide race there since 1994 nearly 30 years ago. In 2018, one Democrat did come pretty close. That was Beto O`Rourke who was then-Congressman from El Paso who nearly defeated Senator Ted Cruz and captured nearly as high a share of the vote as Ann Richards did when she won.

Well, now, Beto O`Rourke has decided to run for governor releasing this announcement yesterday.


O`ROURKE: I`m running for governor and I want to tell you why. This past February, when the electricity grid failed, and millions of our fellow Texans were without power, which meant that the lights wouldn`t turn on, the heat wouldn`t run, and pretty soon their pipes froze, and the water stopped flowing, they were abandoned by those who were elected to serve and look out for them.


HAYES: And joining me now for his first national television interview as candidate for Governor of Texas, Beto O`Rourke. It`s good to have you, Beto. First, I want to -- I want to ask about what was the moment when you decided to run for this office and why governor, when previously you`ve been a member of Congress, you`d run for Senate, you run for president. Why this office? Why now?

O`ROURKE: There`s such a great opportunity in Texas to bring the people of this state together and do the really big things that most of us care about and want for our families. Like, making sure that the best jobs in America are created right here in Texas, or that we have world-class public schools for our kids to go to, or that we make some progress on some pretty common sense issues like expanding Medicaid which would allow hundreds of thousands, more Texans to be able to see a doctor and would do a world of difference to bring down our property tax bills.

But it`s also about getting past this moment where Greg Abbott has brought us to such a small place. The bounty placed on the heads of Texas women who want to make their own personal health care decisions, the permit-less carry law that allows anyone to carry a firearm without a background check or any training whatsoever in Texas, and these transgender bathroom bill bans or deciding which girls can play which sports in this state. We got to get past that small mean vision of Texas and get back to the big things.

We got to make sure that everyone can come together and allow this state to reveal its potential. I`m pretty proud of Texas and I want to make sure that I serve this state as its next governor.

HAYES: You`re -- obviously, you`re not a political analyst. You`re a -- you`re a politician yourself. You run for office. But I imagine when you`re sitting with your advisors, you`re thinking about the possibility of a campaign. People said look, 2018, you had one of the best performances of any statewide Democratic candidate in years in the State of Texas.

But in a pretty favorable macro environment, 2018 generally, pretty favorable midterm for Democrats when they`re the out party. Looking ahead to next year, you got a Democrat in the White House, you`ve got a country that is still trying to get out from under this once in a century crisis. There`s a lot of people who must have been telling you like you`re going to get your -- this is hard enough. But add the environment to this and you`re -- you are really looking down the barrel of a difficult, difficult task.

O`ROURKE: You know, that might be the case. But that`s not how we feel here in Texas, and I`ll tell you why. Beyond that big bold vision that we want to get back to, beyond getting past these extremist divisive politics of Greg Abbott, there`s also some basic things that we need to make sure that we get right, like our electricity grid.

Under Greg Abbott`s watch, the energy capital of North America, the State of Texas, lost power for millions. And not only was it an inconvenience, and not only were many homes ruined when the pipes first froze and then burst, but we lost the lives of hundreds of our family members and neighbors, including an 11-year-old boy, Chris, who froze to death in his bed.

Those are the consequences of Greg Abbott, and that is not lost on the people of Texas. 72,000 have lost their lives under this pandemic throughout his administration because he`s rejected the science and the best guidance from public health experts. In fact, he wouldn`t allow local school districts to require masks in the classroom.And so, as of September we led the country in the numberhood of childhood COVID cases and deaths.

The people of Texas know that we need change. They understand the cost and consequence of keeping Greg Abbott in office. And I think you`re going to see that in the turnout in this election and the participation of voters here in communities like Laredo where I`m spending the second day of this campaign, a community that has so much to offer this state and the rest of the country.

I want to make sure that we reflect that pride that we see here in Laredo, and we also protect the lives of the people here in Laredo and across the state of Texas. I think that gives us an extraordinary opportunity to make the case and to win this election.


HAYES: I want to note that the polling the governor`s job approval rating has gone down considerably, so there is, I think, fair to say widespread disaffection with him. It`s quite notable since 2020. He`s five points underwater. There`s also polling showing you and him tied in a head-to-head back in October.

He has spent a lot of time uh the governor on talking about the border. There has been a lot of -- Abbott has brought governors from other states down to the border. He has gotten pressure from his right flank, folks like Allen West who are primarying him to deploy more of the National Guard there. What do you think about the governor`s approach to the border?

O`ROURKE: I`ll tell you. As someone who was born and raised on the border and who with my wife Amy is raising our three kids on the border in El Paso, and someone who chose to come here to Laredo on the second day of this campaign, also on the border, if we want to know the answers to these questions, we`ve got to ask the people who actually live them and experience them and understand them.

And so, that begins with ensuring that those who represent us whether in Congress or in the White House actually make some progress on rewriting our immigration laws, and that in the meantime we come back to these communities and ask what it is that they need and how we can better support them.

But we also need to reflect the fact that we are a state, and in this case in Laredo, a community of immigrants. And their presence here makes us stronger, makes us more successful, and makes us safer than we would be otherwise.

This is a really great thing that we have in Texas. The fact that so many people from around the world have chosen to make this state our home and make us so much more successful by their very presence. But the last thing we need to do is what Greg Abbott has been doing.

He`s been calling this an invasion. He`s been asking Texans to take matters into their own hands. These are literally his words. And it`s that kind of dangerous rhetoric that inspired somebody a little more than two years ago to drive 600 miles from Allen, Texas with an AK-47 and opened fire on people in El Paso killing 23 of them, claiming that he was there to repel an Hispanic invasion of Texas.

That`s also the cost and consequence of Greg Abbott. That is not a Texas value, not for Republicans or Democrats alike. That is too extreme, too radical, and too dangerous for this state.

HAYES: You had supported some kind of assault weapons ban reinstating and perhaps even a mandatory gun buyback of certain weapons. The state basically telling not -- no one would be able to have those weapons, they wouldn`t be grandfathered in. It was a plank of your campaign. You said at one point in referring to what had happened in your hometown, hell yes, we`re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We`re not going to allow them to be used against our fellow Americans anymore. Do you still support that?

O`ROURKE: I do. And it`s because most of us in this state, this state that has a proud long tradition of responsible gun ownership which we lived in the O`Rourke household where my uncle, Raymond, who is a sheriff`s deputy taught me and my sisters how to shoot, and also the responsibility that comes with owning and using a firearm.

We don`t think that people should have weapons of war and we shouldn`t have to worry about our friends our family members our neighbors being shot up at the grocery store, in the movie theater, or in our schools, or at church. What we do know is that there`s a lot of consensus and common-sense solutions like an assault weapons ban or like background checks, universal background checks that would save the lives of our fellow Texans.

What we don`t want is what Greg Abbott has just done. He signed a bill into law that allows any Texan to carry a loaded gun in public despite the fact that 35,000 licenses to carry a firearm request were denied by law enforcement in the state over the last five years. All those people can now carry a loaded gun in public as can the tens of thousands who knew better than even apply for a license to carry. That`s why police chiefs, law enforcement who we should be supporting in this state, begged the governor not to sign that into law.

HAYES: Sign that law.

O`ROURKE: Most Texans understand that. So we`re going to work together to make sure that we have common-sense gun legislation and protect the Second Amendment here in the State of Texas.

HAYES: Beto O`Rourke running for governor in the State of Texas, thank you for your time tonight, sir.

It`s been over two years since the release of the 1619 Project. It continues to reverberate through our schools and our politics. Tonight, Nikole Hannah-Jones on the newest entry to that groundbreaking bodywork. Don`t go anywhere.



HAYES: IN 2019, The New York Times launched -- Magazine launched the 1619 Project marking the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in this country. It was conceived by Staff Writer Nikole Hannah-Jones with the goal of reframing the discussion around American history putting the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the conversation.

The project earned a great deal of praise. Nikole Hannah-Jones won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. But it also received loads of criticism as it became a wildly controversial object of scorn and derision on the right.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 1619 Project with The New York Times where the Democrat Party is trying to re-educate American youth to tell them that our Founding Fathers were criminal slave owners who were trying to create a slave state.

DINESH D`SOUZA, FILMMAKER: Let`s be real about this. In 1619, there were exactly 20 slaves in America. So, the idea that these 20 guys were central to the American economy or the building of America, it`s nonsense.


NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The whole project is a lie. I think certainly if you`re an African-American, slavery is at the center of what you see is the American experience. But for most Americans most of the time, there were a lot of other things going on.


HAYES: Next year, Donald Trump launched a special committee to counter the 1619 Project. He called it the 1776 Commission.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I`m also pleased to announce that I will soon sign an executive order establishing a national commission to promote patriotic education. It will be called the 1776 Commission.

It will encourage our educators to teach our children about the miracle of American history and make plans to honor the 250th anniversary of our founding.


HAYES: The commission included no professional historians and then issued a report claiming that historical revisionism is shaming Americans and is intended to manipulate opinions. Joe Biden terminated the commission the very same day he was inaugurated.

The battle had already begun about how central slavery is the story of America and how we understand our nation`s trajectory in the light of that history. And that battle predicated the ongoing backlash we`re seeing now as many of the right insist that kids receive what Trump once called a patriotic education.

Last week in North Dakota Republican Governor Doug Burgum signed a law banning the teaching of so-called Critical Race Theory which the law defines as "The theory that racism is not merely the product of learned individual bias or prejudice but that racism is systematically embedded in American society and the American legal system to facilitate racial inequality.

Well, that -- not teaching that leaves out a lot of material. And this is not just happening in North Dakota. According to Education Week, so far this year, 28 states have introduced bills or taken other steps that would restrict teaching Critical Race Theory or limit how teachers can discuss racism and sexism. In Virginia, the newly elected Republican governor campaigned on banning Critical Race Theory.

But now, Nikole Hannah-Jones is expanding her argument in a book published today titled the 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. Nikole joins me talk about all that next.



HAYES: Two years ago, when the New York Times Magazine decided to publish the 1619 Project, this deep examination of racism and slavery in this country and its centrality to the spine of American history, it was quite an event. The magazine issue was so popular. Just look at this line of people standing outside the New York Times building waiting to get their hands on a physical copy.

When those ran out, copies of the issue were reportedly selling for over $100 on eBay, a really remarkable moment. And now, there`s a book which expands on the groundbreaking journalism of the original piece.

Nikole Hannah-Jones covers civil rights and racial injustice for New York Times Magazine. She`s creator of the 1619 Project for which she won a Pulitzer Prize in 2020, and the new book called the 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. Nikole, it`s great to have you on. Congratulations on publication.

You know, this has become such a part of the American discourse, I mean, I think to an a degree that I don`t know but I imagine you didn`t necessarily anticipate becoming quite the central axis of like the national debate. And so, I wonder, if someone comes up to you and says well, I`ve sort of heard about it, I`ve heard about the 1619 Project, like, what is it? What`s your sort of summary to someone who`s like -- what is the project, what does it mean?

NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: Thank you. Thank you for having me on. And you`re absolutely right. I couldn`t have predicted any of this. But what the 1619 Project is, is the year 1619 is the year that the first Africans were sold into the colony of Virginia. So, that marks the beginning of American slavery.

And what we argue in the project which commemorated the 400th anniversary of that moment was that slavery is so foundational to the United States that its legacy can be seen all throughout aspects of modern American society.

So, in capitalism, in our highway systems, in our educational systems, in incarceration, in our culture, and that these connections can be drawn in many surprising ways including the very democracy itself. So, through a series of essays, as well as pieces of short fiction and poetry, we really try to center slavery in the narrative of the American story and the contributions of Black Americans which have largely been treated as an asterisk.

HAYES: Yes, this -- I want to read from the essay that was first published. It`s in the book as well. When you talk about sort of patriotism, your father -- the sort of opening scene, your father hoisting the flag outside your home in Waterloo. You say, my father, one of those many Black Americans who answered the call, knew what it would take -- what it would take me years to understand.

But the year 1619 is as important to the American story as 1776. That Black Americans, as much as those men, cast in alabaster in the nation`s capital, are this nation`s true founding fathers. No people has a greater claim to that flag than us.

And I keep coming back to that sentence because it seems to me there`s a strong version of that claim, and a weaker version or sort of more provocative and a less provocative, right? In the language, you say, that year is as important to the American story as 1776. My interpretation of the meaning of this project is, we know 1796 is important. That`s the sort of foundational moment. That`s the -- we get that story. Here`s a story that should be on equal footing, this kind of yin-yang of what our story is.

I think there are people who are saying that -- think you were saying, this is the fundamental essential truth about the nation, that this is more important in some ways in 1776. And I`m curious to hear you talk through how you think about it.

JONES: Yes. So, that language was written that way on purpose. And what we are really arguing is that so much of the -- what makes America unique in ways good and bad, right, the societal tensions, the kind of our greatest divides, our polarization, but also our culture, our language, our music, our cuisine, again, democracy itself, that so much of that begins with that decision in 1619 to engage in African slavery.


And so, it`s really saying how could we better understand our country if we considered 1619 as an origin point. As you said, we all know the story of 1776. And that`s a story of these intrepid colonists who decide that they need to break off from the British empire so that they can have freedom and liberty and so that they can create a society based on individual God-given rights.

But the truth is, in 1776, one-fifth of the population in those 13 colonies was enslaved. They lived in absolute bondage. And so, that narrative of freedom is not enough to explain our society. We are a country that was founded both on the idea of the freedom and the practice of slavery. And so, we say, if you want to really understand that, these defining tensions, you have to go back to 1619.

HAYES: There -- I want to read for you a passage of a new North Dakota bill that has become law. It is like a lot of legislation that has passed throughout the country particularly in Republican-controlled states that has attempted to target what the bill`s authors call critical race theory but a term that has become kind of amorphous, I think. So, they give a specific definition I think it`s useful and elucidating.

Here`s what this law says that it is banning. For purposes of this section, Critical Race Theory, which is what they want to ban, means the theory that racism is not merely the product of learned individual bias or prejudice but that racism is systematically embedded in American society and the American legal system to facilitate racial inequality. The bill then bans instruction relating to that belief.

Systematically embedded in American society, the American legal system, facilitate racial inequality strikes me is actually a pretty good summation of you have and that the 1619 Project sort of grows out of. And it kind of names a little bit of the fundamental fight here about whether that`s going to be taught or not.

JONES: Yes. So, one, can we just acknowledge that it is insane that a state legislature would say that you can`t even teach the concept of structural racism, not that you`re even saying we have it, but that you can`t even teach the concept of it.

We all as Americans should be outraged and very worried whether you like the 1619 Project or critical race theory at all. But we need to understand what they`re saying then. It is inarguable that our country was founded with racism in the law, with racism in the courts, with racism in every structure of our society.

One only has to look at the constitution which labels enslaved people three-fifths of a person. We only have to look at the slave codes and the Black codes and the fact that I have two books that are biblical length that are just a listing of all of the ways that Black people were discriminated against in the law. This is inarguable.

We had legal segregation in this country until the decade before I was born. And that said, you could segregate against Black people in housing, in schools, in the courts. You could discriminate against Black people when it came to employment, whether they could go to the public library or public swimming pool.

All of these areas of life, legally, you could discriminate against Black people from 1619 all the way up until 1968. So, it`s ludicrous to say that you have to teach an understanding of this country that says it`s only individual actors, there`s nothing systemic here. And that clearly, Chris, is a response not just to the framing of the 1619 Project which, of course, argues that racism is embedded in the structures of a society that was founded with one-fifth of the population enslaved.

But what it`s also saying is it is a response to the racial protests of last year, where people were saying it`s not just about individual bad cops, it`s not just about policing, that we have a society that is built to be fundamentally unfair and we are dealing with the ramifications of that.

So, this is seeking to turn us away from thinking like that, and instead to say, this is just about individual White people who may have prejudice, and it`s about making white people as a race feel guilty and bad, and it`s neither of those things.

HAYES: Yes. I got to say the North Dakota legislature is I sort of -- I`m somewhat grateful for the clarity which they enunciate precisely what the actual philosophical stakes are about. And again, this is instruction relating to that as you noted. Just talking about it is now banned in the state of North Dakota.

The book is called The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. It has a bunch of fantastic essays, including our own Tremaine Lee who is in there and a bunch of other wonderful writers I really admire. It is out today and you can pick it up now. Nikole Hannah-Jones, thank you so much.

JONES: Thank you.

HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Tuesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now. Good evening, Rachel.