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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 12/15/21

Guests: Dustin Stockton, Jennifer Lawrence, Mona Charen, Philip Bump, Anthony Fauci, Ro Khanna


January 6th organizers said they were in dozens of planning, meetings with congressional members and White House staff. Both are now cooperating as witnesses in the January 6th investigation. Chief medical adviser to President Biden on urging vaccines and boosters in the face of the Omicron variant surging nationwide ahead of the holidays. Republican governors touting funding passes with no GOP support. California Democratic representative on the future of the Build Back Better agenda.



REID: Two towns hit hardest by the tornadoes and told residents we`re here for anything you need.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The government is going to cover 100 percent of the cost. One hundred percent of the cost for the first 30 days for all the emergency work. I promise you, you`re going to heal, we`re going to recover, we`re going to rebuild. You`re going to be stronger than you were before. We`re going to build back better than it was.

We`ve got a lot to do. But the American people are ready to do it. This is the United States of America. There`s not a darn thing we can`t do. Thank you.


REID: And thank you for joining us tonight. That is "THE REIDOUT." ALL IN with Chris Hayes starts now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN, they are two of the planners of the January 6th rally now cooperating with the January 6th Committee.

JOSH NESS, DUSTIN STOCKTON`S LAWYER: There are people that are very senior in the former president`s orbit and there are also even lawmakers among them who I believe have good reason to be quivering in their boots.

HAYES: Tonight, Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence will both join me for their first interview together to talk about what they know about January 6th.

Then guess which congressman just out himself as one of the lawmakers texting Mark Meadows?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): This is as wrong as it gets. And I think deep down everyone knows it.

HAYES: Plus, why Joe Biden is pausing the push for Build Back Better.

BIDEN: There is nothing domestically more important than voting rights. It`s the single biggest issue.

HAYES: And Dr. Anthony Fauci on whether America is ready for a massive wave of Omicron cases. When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.

We are starting to learn the names of the lawmakers behind the text messages that Donald Trump`s then chief of staff Mark Meadows turned over to the committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. Earlier this week those texts were read into the record by members on the committee before they voted to hold Mark Meadows in contempt.

Well, today one of those anonymous lawmakers came forward himself. Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio. He of course one of Donald Trump`s top allies in the House, sent a text message to Mark Meadows the day before the insurrection about how the White House could attempt a coup on January 6th, quote, "On January 6th 2021 Vice President Mike Pence as president of the Senate should call out all the electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence."

I think he means president. And it goes on to include a lengthy citation for the Federalist papers like you do in text messages. Now NBC`s reporting that that text was apparently sent to Jordan by a conservative lawyer and former adviser on Donald Trump`s 2016 campaign, and then Jordan looked to the text and thought good idea so he copy-pasted it and sent it along to the man close to the president. Hey, here`s an idea for ending American democracy. Just popped into the old smart phone.

Remember, this man, Congressman Jordan, is the guy who the Republicans wanted on this committee investigating the insurrection. And his involvement was, well, it seems wisely now, later vetoed by speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. But I will say now it makes much more sense why Congresswoman Liz Cheney who sits on that committee said that Jim Jordan could be called to testify back in July.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I think that Congressman Jordan may well be a material witness. He is somebody who was involved in a number of meetings in the lead-up to what happened on January 6th, involved in planning for January 6th. Certainly for the objection that day as he said publicly. So he may well be a material witness.


HAYES: So Jim Jordan was literally passing along ideas to the White House on how to pull off the coup. And this is just the latest revelation from the committee. There will certainly be more to come. This morning in fact the committee spoke with a cooperating witness, a right-wing activist named Jennifer Lawrence. Not that one. The interview follows one with her fiance Dustin Stockton which the committee conducted yesterday.

Now Stockton and Lawrence were front line soldiers in Trump`s movement to overturn the election. As the subpoena for Stockton states, quote. "According to press reports, you and others working to organize the January 6th collectively communicated with President Trump, White House officials including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and others, about the rally and other events planned to coincide with the certification of the 2020 electoral college results.

"You reportedly were concerned about plans by the Stop the Steal movement to organized an unpermitted march that would reach the steps of the Capitol as Congress gathered to certify the election results."

I`m going speak to both of them in just a moment about those communications as well as some very serious allegations they have made on the record including one that Republican Congressman Paul Gosar from Arizona dangled a pardon from Trump for an unrelated criminal investigation the couple was tied to if they helped plan a series of pro-Trump rallies leading up to January 6th.


Before that, though, I think it`s important to set some context about who these people are. They are not household names like Mark Meadows or Steve Bannon. Both of whom are stonewalling the investigation, both have had contempt charges recommended against them. Stockton and Lawrence have always been on the fringes of right-wing politics. And part of their brand is to generate attention through inflammatory statements to put on a larger-than-life show.

"Politico" called them the Bonnie and Clyde of MAGA world. They met on the 2012 presidential campaign of Herman Cain, the late businessman and right- wing pizza mogul whose candidacy was something of a forerunner to the Trump campaign four years later. Cain of course sadly died of COVID last year after attending a big Trump rally in Oklahoma in the midst of the pandemic.

From the work on the Cain campaign, the couple bounced around to other Tea Party adjacent causes. Stockton started organizing rallies for stars of the conservative movement like former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, remember her, a late right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart and ultimately ended up on team Trump.

The couple has had an on again, off again relationship and friendship with Steve Bannon who shares their affinity for bombastic and trollish politics. That working relationship took a turn in 2019 when they heard Bannon start a group called We Build the Wall, an organization which raised tens of millions of dollars from Trump supporters in order to privately fund a privately constructed border wall. They did build three miles out of it.

But the whole thing came tumbling down when Bannon, along with others, was arrested, Bannon arrested on the yacht of a Chinese billionaire, why not, charged with embezzling some of the money that he duped Trump`s base into donating. Kind of a mean thing to do to people that trust you. Never saw trial for it. Stockton and Lawrence, they had their RV raided by law enforcement. They`ve been stuck in a state of legal limbo.

Now Bannon had that taken care of because he was pardoned by Trump before Trump left office. On the last if I recall correctly. Stockton and Lawrence have not been charged. The lingering threat of legal action loomed over their heads which is presumably why after the 2020 election it was so tempting when, according to the couple, Congressman Paul Gosar reportedly dangled a blanket president pardon from Trump if they organized a series of Stop the Steal rallies leading up to January 6th.

We should note Gosar calls that allegation false and defamatory. Though it makes sense why someone would task the couple with that job because organizing rallies for right-wing causes is what they do. They are both believers in the big of a stolen election which is how the March for Trump bus tour came about. The couple traveled across the country and mobilized support for the dangerous and false idea that Donald Trump had in fact won the 2020 election when, of course, he did not.

And that tour culminated in the now infamous rally at the Ellipse, that`s the circle outside the White House, which was also organized by these two, by Stockton and Lawrence. You`ve probably seen footage of them a lot over the past 11 months. We play it all the time. Rudy Giuliani was there, John Eastman, the guy who wrote the coup memo, Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama who was wearing a bullet-proof vest. And, of course, the president, Donald Trump, was there, too.

The Ellipse rally is where they all whipped the crowd into a frenzy and sent them marching towards the Capitol.


RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP-ALLIED LAWYER: If we are right, a lot of them will go to jail.


GIULIANI: So let`s have trial by combat.

REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: And we fight. You fight like hell. And if you don`t fight like hell, you`re not going to have a country anymore. We`re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I love Pennsylvania Avenue. And we`re going to the Capitol.


HAYES: We all know what happened afterwards. The mob attacked the Capitol trying to unseat American democracy.

Now Stockton and Lawrence say they were upset by that last Trump speech. So upset they immediately returned to their hotel room and insist they did not storm the Capitol with the angry mob. All evidence points to that being true. There`s no pictures of them or anything like that.

In the days and weeks after the event, they say they took issue with the violence. They wanted the organization they work with to plan the rallies to come out against it more forcefully. But the couple also attempted a so- called MAGA sellout tour to shame the Republican members of Congress who voted to impeach Trump over his role in inciting that very same violent insurrection.

And while Stockton now says he believes Joe Biden won the election, he and Lawrence were still intimately involved in the movement. It started before any votes were even cast. Continued in the weeks after the election and built up to January 6th. Up to the fateful moment we just played when the president instructed people to go to the Capitol and fight. They were true believers. They worked to sow doubt in the foundation of our democracy.

Now to their credit, they are cooperating with the committee investigating the insurrection including turning over what their lawyer is calling a treasure-trove of documents.


And joining me now are Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lyn Lawrence who both helped plan the January 6th rally on the Ellipse, are cooperating with the committee investigating the insurrection. They are accompanied by Dustin`s attorney, Josh Ness.

It`s great to have you both on. Let me just start with your experience of interfacing with the committee and I understand there`s probably ground rules over what you can and can`t say in terms of what transpired. But if you could just take me through, Dustin, your experience. Yesterday I believe you were sworn in and deposed, is that right?

Well, I just watched your introduction, Chris. And that is exactly the kind of misinformation.


DUSTIN STOCKTON, JANUARY 6 TRUMP ELLIPSE RALLY ORGANIZER: That drove us to put the tour together in the first place.

HAYES: What was misinformed?

STOCKTON: I mean, the way you characterized. I want -- I think it`s important to set the record straight.

HAYES: Sure.

STOCKTON: The characterization that we were dangled a pardon by Paul Gosar in order to put these events together just simply doesn`t match the facts. We`ve been willing to turn every single thing over. We started the tour before we ever heard from Gosar.

HAYES: Right.

STOCKTON: Congressman Gosar, who has been a dear friend of Jen and mine, would have done that for us anyway. Also, the two of us didn`t need pardons. We haven`t been charged with any crimes.

HAYES: But Gosar --

STOCKTON: Not once.

HAYES: Let me just say --

STOCKTON: And so --

HAYES: Dustin --

STOCKTON: The idea -- no. Your characterization.


STOCKTON: That we were dangled -- there was some kind of quid pro quo.

HAYES: Sure.

STOCKTON: In order for us -- that we were going to get a pardon and that`s what kind of motivated us to do it. What motivated us to do it personally is that those charges, everything that I have, everything that we put together, the indictment from the SDNY, every piece of evidence I had as only two founders and an original board member was exculpatory. The charges and the indictment were trumped up. They were used to disrupt the political network that included the CEO --

HAYES: Dustin --

STOCKTON: -- of the winning 2016 campaign.

HAYES: Let me just stop you right there.

STOCKTON: No, and then the media comes after (INAUDIBLE).

HAYES: OK. Listen. Let me just be clear. I have zero dog in the fight about the characterization of what happened with you and Paul Gosar. I have zero dog in the fight about like We Build the Wall. I don`t know what the facts are about -- I know there were federal indictments. So let me just ask you this, just to clarify. You had a phone conversation with Paul Gosar`s chief of staff, right?

STOCKTON: We did talk to Tom Van Flein, yes.

HAYES: Yes. And he said that Paul Gosar had been talking to the president specifically about pardons.

STOCKTON: Correct. Yes.

HAYES: OK. So in a conversation with you in which he is praising your work organizing the rallies, he also tells you that the congressman had a conversation with the president of the United States about pardons, correct?

STOCKTON: Yes. That did happen.

HAYES: OK. Whether that`s a dangle or not, people can judge. Again, I don`t care whether it`s a -- how you characterize it. I just want to be clear on the facts here. You talked to the chief of staff and he said that Gosar had a conversation with the president about pardons. And we should also note the president did follow-through and pardoned an individual involved with "We Build the Wall" named Steve Bannon who is facing federal indictment.

STOCKTON: I think -- I think this is somewhere where we probably will be in a little more in agreement, Chris, which is, of course, Trump pardons the one guy, like the guys who were indicted, who has all the money and political connections to fight it. The triple amputee war hero who wasn`t a lawyer, wasn`t a political operative.

HAYES: Right.

STOCKTON: Right, Brian Kolfage who started it.


STOCKTON: We brought people like Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach, and we feel really bad about that at this point. But we brought them into protect Brian as he did this project. And yet, the one person who still got the charge -- it`s not one, there`s two other guys, too, but Brian in particular got left out to dry. So Trump pardons the only guy that he thinks he can get something back from.

HAYES: So, so how does --

STOCKTON: And that`s kind of the -- that`s been the hardest thing for I think me and Jen to deal with at this point which is there were several things, like we saw warning signs along the way with Trump, right? And, frankly, we made some excuses for him and excuses for why, you know, maybe Michael Cohen or Stephanie Winston Wolkoff or some of these other people that we knew and liked, right, had run into trouble with them.

But for us, when he directed people to the Capitol at the 6th, what we revealed to the committee is that there was an internal conflict that was ongoing inside the organizer groups about what the program and what the day on January 6th should look like, and we kind of lost that battle, and we didn`t realize we lost that battle until President Trump told people to walk down to the Capitol.


And we had put several events in D.C. together before. We knew the kind of logistics it took to do that safely. The marshals, the security.

HAYES: Sure.

STOCKTON: The stage, the sound. All the things you have to do to be able to safely manage a crowd of that size. And we knew that wasn`t in place and we knew that the people that they had asked to lead that were not people who should ever be associated with something as solemn as the White House. And for us, it was devastating.

It was very deflating. And it`s one of those, like, snap to reality moments where you look back over all of the previous warning signs that you`ve ignored and you have to challenge yourself on.

HAYES: So I just want to get your thoughts on this, Jennifer, because I have not heard from you yet. I just want to note when you talk about sort of Trump pardoning the one guy that he sort of got something out of, that the idea of, like, a pardon in exchange for maybe positive work there seems to be like not an implausible thing that was operating at least in the mind of Donald Trump. So like we`re not going to put that in a category of ludicrous, right?

Jennifer, I want you to speak to what Dustin just said which I think is very interesting about, like, unwillingly joining a club of people who trusted Donald Trump and then felt betrayed by him and then come out and say, yes, there were some warning signs there. Like do you feel like you`re in that group now? Is that where you`re at?

JENNIFER LAWRENCE, JANUARY 6 TRUMP ELLIPSE RALLY ORGANIZER: I mean, of course, hindsight is 2020. Looking back on some things, you know, I have some questions that I would love to ask President Trump, someone who I`ve known almost a decade now, and has actually played a huge part in my life. You know, as I`ve grown up. And, you know, I was one of the earliest supporters of President Trump. You know, in 2011, I was at Trump Tower when the Republican committee chairs from all over the state got together to beg him to run for governor.

And at that time, you know, he said that his path ran through all -- his path ran through D.C. and not Albany. And he knew right then and there, and he convinced me right then and there. So I have been a solid Trump supporter this whole time. But following "We Build the Wall," you know, the day after we were raided and we are completely innocent in this, President Trump came out on his Twitter and started throwing us under the bus saying we were showboating and, you know, saying -- going after the project.

And I mean when we raised that money, we did it in a very Trumpian way, a way, you know, that we hope that President Trump, you know, would approve of, of building on private land with private donors. And to see him come out and throw us under the bus, you know, it was very hurtful. And then, you know, as things progressed, we thought, you know, maybe, maybe he was still mad at Steve.

Maybe, you know, maybe there was something else. And then we saw, you know, what happened to us, losing our bank accounts and stuff that happened to us after the raid, and then censorship on social media is playing a huge part. I mean, when we`re talking about election interference or election fraud, I can say censorship plays a huge part in that.

HAYES: So I want to ask you about --


HAYES: Let me follow up on something.

STOCKTON: I just want to say, I just want to say Donald Trump calling you a showboat is like Michael Jordan calling you the greatest ever at basketball like I kind of took as a compliment but.

HAYES: OK. You got that in. So let me just follow up, there`s a key factual claim you`re making here, which I just want to follow up on because I think it`s key and then I want to come back around to one more thing and then I will let you guys go on with your evening.

So the key factual claim here, which I think is fascinating is essentially an internal debate that emerges among the organizers about what happens after the Ellipse. And if you`ve ever organized something, you know that internal debates about things like this happen all the time. All -- it`s par for the course, right? A lot of cooks in the kitchen. What you`re saying is there was a group that wanted to mobilize that huge crowd and basically kind of send them off towards the Capitol.

Without a permit, we should note, without security, without any sort of checks for who would control the crowd, who would lead them, who would make sure things didn`t get out of hand, and you were in the opposition faction that said we shouldn`t do that. And the moment that you found out you lost that internal debate was the president of the United States saying literally to the riled up crowd, now you`re going to come with me down to the Capitol so they can hear you how angry you are.

That`s what you`re saying and what you`re telling the committee? Jennifer?

LAWRENCE: Absolutely. Yes. That is. And I mean, I`m quoted in "Pro Publica." I don`t know if I`m allowed to say what I actually said.

STOCKTON: You`re not.

LAWRENCE: The moment that, you know, he said it from the stage. But you can go look up that quote. But I mean, at this point, we didn`t know. Our plan for that day was we were supposed to stay at the Ellipse all day.


And we were being told that we could stay there 12 and 14 hours until all the electors had been seated up at Capitol Hill.

HAYES: Right.

LAWRENCE: And, you know, it was portrayed to us that, you know, if the electors were seated for President Biden, that Trump would, you know, recognize those results. So he wanted the largest crowd ever -- this is what was portrayed to us, you know, at the Ellipse, that if he had to give, you know, whatever his form of his, you know, sayonara speech was, you know, he wanted the biggest crowd there possible. And that was our plan.

So the minute that we realized like, oh, my god, you`re marching those people. We have nothing in place. Like there is nothing, like, what are you doing? And it was so disheartening and so deflating. And it`s really not OK.

HAYES: OK. Last question to you, Dustin. I just want to sort of level set here. So you`re going around the country, you`re saying this election was stolen. It was the Stop the Steal movement. Like you do get that it wasn`t stolen, right? That, like, Smartmatic didn`t manipulate votes. An Italian satellite didn`t get in. The ghost of Hugo Chavez did not come back to inhabit Dominion votes. That there wasn`t 50,000 ballots stuffed in a suitcase in Fulton County. That all of those claims were not true, right?

STOCKTON: Well, again for Jennifer and I, it goes back to the -- we have some personal issues. Just like, although I would ask you, do you now admit that the Russia memes that you guys ran 24 hours a day.

HAYES: Right.

STOCKTON: Like in the early days of the Trump, right, that got maybe several million impressions which our pages often do.

HAYES: I mean, you`ve got to have cite something specifically.


HAYES: No, no, Dustin. Dustin, I`m saying there are specific facts about the election --

STOCKTON: When you`re undermining democracy --

HAYES: No, no, no. We`re not talking about -- you want to talk about --


STOCKTON: There were dozens of ridiculous claims.

HAYES: Dustin, the election -- whatever you think about my coverage.

STOCKTON: There were tons of ridiculous clips.

HAYES: Which you have not watched.

STOCKTON: Joe Biden is the president. Joe Biden --

HAYES: Listen to me. No. I want something more than that. The claim that the election was stolen, that there was widespread manipulation of ballots by either the software makers who ran machines, in some cases didn`t even run the machines, by individuals who were systematically committing fraud on a scale of tens of thousands of votes to alter the outcome, that those are false claims. I`m just trying to establish a shared reality here.

STOCKTON: Those specifically are false claims.

HAYES: Great.

STOCKTON: I think Democrats and Republicans -- wait.

HAYES: We --

STOCKTON: Just real quick. Because it`s important. Please.

HAYES: We`ve made so much progress here, Dustin.

STOCKTON: Democrats and Republicans, every four years, whoever loses, right?


STOCKTON: Then goes on to say, oh, well, it was broken this way and it was broken this way. It`s not that there aren`t things that aren`t broken and should be done better with mail-in balloting.


STOCKTON: With the way we verify people. The way we give make sure everybody has access to voting.


HAYES: Those are policy disputes. It wasn`t stolen.

STOCKTON: The problem is, partisanly, partisanly, what we do is the left fights. When they lose, the right fights. When they lose.

HAYES: Well --

STOCKTON: We should really all be in favor of just broadly improving the system.

HAYES: I agree. I think we should have a great system --


LAWRENCE: I think that brings up an important point.

HAYES: And I don`t think that people should carry a lie about a false election or storm a Capitol or attempt to override the votes of the voters which I think all of us agree on.

Dustin and Jennifer, you guys gave me a lot of time tonight.

STOCKTON: Or widespread Russian interference if they have it.

HAYES: I wish you, I wish you well. I don`t know what the future holds for you. But hang in there, Dustin and Jennifer.

LAWRENCE: I mean, Chris, I think that there is a conversation to be had.

STOCKTON: It was spicy. I had fun. Thank you.

LAWRENCE: And I think this is the problem with America, Chris, is that.


LAWRENCE: We don`t have the conversations enough.

HAYES: It was great. I`m glad --

LAWRENCE: And I think that if we could sit down and have these conversations we could really move forward and find common ground where there is common ground.

HAYES: I think it`s good to start with a don`t violently storm the Capitol as common ground which I think we share, and also the election wasn`t stolen which I think we share after tonight.


LAWRENCE: That goes as well for state capitals a swell

STOCKTON: We do share that.

HAYES: Dustin and Jennifer, thank you both for coming on. Be well.

LAWRENCE: State capitals. Peace out.

HAYES: That was fascinating.

Mona Charen is the policy editor of the "Bulwark." Her latest piece is the "MAGA Perversion of Patriotism," Philip Bump is the national correspondent for the "Washington Post," recently wrote a piece titled "On January 6th Itself, Trump`s allies understood he was the catalyst."

Well, Mona, I think it was interesting when Dustin said that he was now in the company of like Michael Cohen and others because there is a sort of funny pattern that we`ve seen over the years of people being like I trusted the guy, I liked the guy, he threw me under the bus, I no longer trust him. And it`s remarkable at a sort of pattern recognition level how often that has happened.

MONA CHAREN, THE BULWARK POLICY EDITOR: Well, you would think that people could be able to spot this from a distance. I mean, Trump does this to so many people so consistently.


But there is still seems to be this tendency on the part of some to just say well, it hasn`t happened to me yet. So I still like him. I don`t know. I mean, it`s a little pathetic honestly. And those two people, I`m glad you were able to find common ground on, you know, we shouldn`t storm the Capitol. And, yes, the election was not stolen. But, honestly, the big lie was the catalyst for the attack on the Capitol.


CHAREN: Without the lie, you don`t have the rage, you know, that impelled people to violence. And so, you know, they are the part of the great dysfunction in this society.

HAYES: Yes. Well, and I will also say, Philip, that one thing that I saw them do and you`ve seen various (INAUDIBLE), like there`s all this different sort of stacked diversions of the big lie. There is like the most -- there`s the most obviously manifestly insane, which is like, you know, the ghost of Hugo Chavez or like the Italian satellite was like in the back end of the Smartmatic system and it was rigging everything.

And then you fall back, you fall back and you get back to, like, well, big tech censored people and also states changed their mail-in voting procedures in violation of what I think is constitutional prerogative for only a state legislature. And that`s like the gentlemen`s version of it, which is like the Josh Hawley-Ted Cruz. But it all amounts to the same thing which is like the Democrats winning isn`t legitimate and we don`t recognize it.

PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, exactly. There was this very pointed effort as Donald Trump was making these claims about election fraud in the wake of the 2020 election to try and come up with a face for it. And you`re right that Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz really at the forefront of that. Josh Hawley first by saying I`m going to object to the elections in Pennsylvania because of these, you know, these changes to the law, which had already been adjudicated by the state`s Supreme Court, it`s worth noting.

And then Ted Cruz came along and amplified a similar claim, you know, saying that we just need time to review these things. They were trying to come up with a way to both appeal to Donald Trump`s base and wink at them and be like, that`s right, the election was stolen, wink, wink.

HAYES: Right.

BUMP: And then whisper on the side to their colleagues, and say, by that, I mean that there were these legal issues of with which I have strong concerns. Right? I mean, it`s this game that they were playing. And it trickles all the way down. I mean, just last night on FOX News, you saw someone making these claims that actually it was stolen because Donald Trump`s text messaging system was shut down by these major mobile carriers which there was an accident that happened in July of last year. But this is how ridiculous it is. You have to come up with these ideas for how this actually occurred that lets you not have to buy into these totally bonkers conspiracy theories.

HAYES: Which gets you back to the sort of legitimacy issue, Mona, to me, which is, you know, Jordan comes out today and say yes, I was just passing along this idea from a, you know, a law professor that Mike Pence could unilaterally invalidate these electoral college votes. And it`s like, at some level it`s like what is publicly admitted to and what`s happening in private is a frontal assault on the basic democratic legitimacy of whether people can pick their own rulers or not. And people did it all over the place. In every direction.

CHAREN: No, it`s really, really disgusting and worrisome what is happening on FOX. What happens every single night. The lies that incite so much hatred and the refusal to accept the legitimacy of the elections. Look, without that, everything else is lost. If we`ve lost that, if every election is now going to be a battle that could get violent, then we are no longer a democracy. It`s over. And we`re teetering incredibly close to that.

We really don`t know. And what these FOX figures, I mean, honestly, what they did on January 6th was, you know, they said, oh, well, this proves that we were concerned about rioting. We don`t like any rioting. But of course if their subsequent story is correct namely that it was Antifa, why would they be telling Donald Trump to control Antifa? Donald Trump doesn`t control Antifa.

I mean, they knew perfectly well what was happening and they revealed that in their text messages. Those were his Storm Troopers. He had -- he alone had the power to call them back. And then they go on television and say, gees, they didn`t look like Trump supporters to me. And, you know, the whole scheme of lies and distortions and distractions that they have pedaled ever since. It is just the most disgusting thing. And I`m sorry, I almost don`t have words for it. I`m so upset.

HAYES: You`re not wrong, although the vaccine stuff is tied in my mind.

Mona Charen, Philip Bump, thank you both. Really appreciate it.

Next, COVID outbreaks in the NFL, universities scramble as cases rise, hospitals in many parts of the country once again at the brink. We have Dr. Anthony Fauci here to address those alarm bells right after this.



HAYES: Oh, man. As much as no one wants to hear this, especially during the holidays, it is looking more and more likely we are in for a big surge in COVID-19 cases around the country. The evidence is everywhere you look. In places doing the most testing right now, the numbers are frankly staggering.

Last week coronavirus readings in Boston-area waste water which is a really good surveillance system showed a dramatic rise reaching levels not seen since the height of the January surge.

The NFL Players Association released a statemen today pushing for daily COVID-19 testing after 75 players tested positive on just two days, Monday and Tuesday alone. According to ESPN, at this pace the league will have more positive player test this week than it had for the first three months of the regular season, 110.

Cornell University shut down its main campus in Upstate New York after a surge in cases. There have been over 1100 student cases in the past week including a significant number with Omicron variant. That`s even though 97 percent of the on-campus population is vaccinated. Cornell`s vice president for University Relations said, quote, "Virtually every case of the Omicron variant to date has been found in fully vaccinated students, a portion of whom also have received a booster shot. We have not seen evidence of significant disease in our students to date," he added, which of course is good and welcomed news.

But right now, there`s lots of hospital across the country that are still dealing with very intense Delta outbreaks. One expert on infectious disease at UT Health San Antonio told CNBC, quote, "In the weeks to come with Omicron what we`ve got here might be a perfect storm, a more infectious variant along with upcoming holiday travel, and so we`re concerned about what we`re going to see later this month and early in January."


So how should you be thinking about these next days in the pandemic? What can you do about it? Dr. Anthony Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as well as chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, and he joins me now.

All right, Dr. Fauci, when we had you last on, we were in that window, we were waiting to see data about Omicron. And now we`ve got a bunch pre-print data from lab studies. We`ve also got a fair amount of data of what it`s doing in the world because of sequencing and surveillance.

Is it fair to say that our best understanding right now is that it is more transmissible than Delta and the most transmissible variant we have faced yet?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I think it`s fair and accurate to say that, Chris. There is no doubt, if you look at its doubling time, it`s really quite low. It`s somewhere around three days, which means that if you do the math on that, and you have it in your community, pretty soon it`s going to be totally dominating. That`s what happened in South Africa. That`s what`s going on in the U.K. And I think we can expect the same thing to happen here in the United States within the next few weeks. No doubt it is a highly transmissible virus.

HAYES: Yes, I mean, again, I don`t want to freak anyone out. And I think, you know, people who are watching this program, I think like the country and most of them are vaccinated, I hope most of you have gotten boosted. So I don`t want to freak people out. And we can talk about severity in a second. But I do think people should mentally prepare. Like, we`re going to see a lot, a lot of cases.

I mean, probably more than we`ve ever seen before because we no longer have essentially any non-pharmaceutical interventions, social distancing, bars close, all that stuff. None of that is happening. It`s probably not coming back. There is a lot of circulation happening, like, people should understand that this is probably what the next four to six weeks look like.

FAUCI: Well, there`s no doubt. There`s going to be a lot of infections particularly for the reasons that you said that we`re moving about in society a lot more freely. We have the colder weather keeping people indoors. We have the holiday season associated with traveling coming up. I mean, those are real challenges when it comes to a highly transmissible virus.

Somewhat of encouraging news is that if you look at all the data that we`ve gotten thus far from South Africa and from the U.K., which clearly have more experience at this point than we do with Omicron, that vaccines, although the efficacy to prevent infection has dramatically gone down, when you give that boost, that third shot, of a two-dose MRNA, it reconstitutes it pretty well, particularly for severe disease that might lead to hospitalization.

So I don`t think that you are going to see for sure a lot more infections. I think that the vaccines as good as they are, are going to still allow there to be breakthrough infections. What we hope will happen and it looks like that`s going to be the case based on what we`re seeing in South Africa, that particularly if you get boosted, your protection from severe disease is still going to be considerably high. So big challenge on infection. But protection with the booster I think is going to be good.

HAYES: Yes. And we should say it, I mean, the data that you presented earlier today shows some of that, that third shot. So I think the first takeaway I`ve had and we`ve been saying this on this program and you were out front on this and there were dissenters, who I think were very clearly wrong, and in fact whose dissent I think actually like -- was tangibly destructive, although (INAUDIBLE) didn`t do in good faith, on boosters is that people should get boosted. Like the number one thing right now if you`re watching this and saying, like, what should I do? If you`re not boosted is get boosted. Is that your advice?

FAUCI: Absolutely, Chris. There is no doubt about that. The data are overwhelmingly strong in that direction. No doubt about it.

HAYES: There`s two other things I think to consider here. I mean, one is testing. There is reporting today the White House is a little concerned about testing capacity. I have already seen -- starting to see anecdotally we have higher transmission here in New York City, longer lines for testing. It`s very hard to catch up to exponential spread with the linear systems of human markets and institutions that we`ve seen time and time again with this.

Are you, in the White House are you concerned with, prepared to handle the kind of testing surge we can imagine in a world in which we have half a million cases a day?

FAUCI: Yes. We absolutely are revving up dramatically the testing capability. We made an investment of about $3 billion to make anywhere between 200 million and 500 million tests per month available.


And you`ve heard what the president said about getting free testing or reimbursable testing. But we really got to get even more that we are doing right now. As I`ve said so many times, Chris, we have to flood the system with tests so that anybody and everybody can readily have a test available when they want it. We are going in that direction rapidly. Hopefully we`ll get there soon.

HAYES: And then finally, the question on masks. In New York state, Governor Kathy Hochul has put into place a mask ordinance for certain institutions outside of, you know, in areas that don`t require them. What is your recommendation about masking in public places at this point and what -- how Omicron figures into thinking about that?

FAUCI: Well, notwithstanding Omicron, we should be doing it for Delta. Namely, we should be wearing masks in indoor congregate settings, particularly which is usually the case, when you don`t know the vaccination status of the people that are around you.

HAYES: Right.

FAUCI: You really should be wearing a mask. There`s no doubt about that. This is a highly transmissible virus. We`re in a surge right now. It just doesn`t make any sense not to do that.

HAYES: All right. Dr. Anthony Fauci, that was clear and helpful. I appreciate it.

FAUCI: Thank you. Good to be with you. Thank you.

HAYES: Next, even as Republicans continue to bash the president`s COVID relief money, they sure don`t seem to have any problem spending it.


GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: I have had people ask me from time to time in the state, Kristi, why don`t you just give the federal money back? After all, it`s the taxpayers` money. Well, that was my first thought, too.




HAYES: Kristi Noem is the Republican governor of South Dakota, the first woman elected to that office, elected in 2018 after serving as the state`s single at-large member of Congress for years. She is a close ally of President Trump, campaigning for him ahead of the 2020 election and then claiming the results were fraudulent. Noem also has clear aspirations for the White House herself. And from day one of the Biden administration, Kristi Noem has been predictably a vocal critic.

She`s fought the president on everything from vaccine mandates to economic policy. She`s been especially loud about her displeasure with the $1.9 trillion COVID Rescue Bill. Last week in the Governor`s Annual Budget Address, Noem derided the money that came from that bill as a handout.


NOEM: We should all celebrate that our state is doing great. But it shouldn`t be a celebration where a bigger government is a result. So as South Dakota`s revenue goes up, I want to make sure that we are only spending that revenue on necessary investments that benefit our people.

Now there is another kind of revenue that`s come into South Dakota this past year. And that is revenue that`s not brought here in the traditional sense. It`s a giant handout from Washington, D.C. Now that money isn`t appearing out of thin air. Those are taxpayer dollars, too. And it`s money that is being borrowed from the future from our children, our grandchildren, and beyond.


HAYES: When that giant handout actually came to South Dakota, of course, Krisi Noem didn`t turn it away. She opened her hand and took the nearly $1 billion slated for her state from the bill. "The New York Times" pointing out she plans to use that money to invest in local water projects, make housing more affordable and build new daycare centers. Governor Noem actually highlighted those spending plans in the very same budget address where she criticized the stimulus bill.

She is just one of a slew of Republican governors who attacked the idea of getting help from the government and step right up to take the federal money when it`s offered to them, which I guess is better than rejecting it. They even paraded it around. There is, of course, Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio who touted his plans to spend the stimulus cash on grants for first responders and water projects.

And Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona recently publicized his plans to invest $100 million to expand high-speed broadband. The second paragraph of the press release he admits the funding came from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just unveiled his new spending plan. The "Politico" says it`s packed with federal stimulus funds from the Biden administration that he wants to use for his most politically popular programs including a gas tax break and $1,000 bonuses for police and teachers.

In fact, and this is good news actually, not a single governor has declined to take the stimulus funds offered to them. When push comes to shove, they want the credit for what Joe Biden and congressional Democrats got done without a single Republican vote.




UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you still believe you can get Build Back Better Act done this year?

BIDEN: I hope so. It`ll be close.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, what kind of progress have you made on Build Back Better? What kind of progress?

BIDEN: Some.


HAYES: Despite the optimism from President Joe Biden, NBC News is reporting now that Senate Democrats will likely miss passing Biden`s Build Back Better plan by the end of the year, pushing things off until 2022, according to four sources familiar with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer`s plan. That`s despite months of back and forth with West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin who is still a major holdout on the bill.

On top of that Senate Democrats have not even cleared all the procedural hurdles necessary to hold a vote, which basically means the whole thing could be pushed off even longer. Now apart from this delay having lasting consequences for Democrats, there`s also immediate ramifications. Today is the last day that families will receive a monthly payment from the child tax credit. Without the passage of Build Back Better, that could be the final check that 35 million families see as we head into the new year, although some will also get it when they file their taxes next year even if it`s not continued.

Congressman Ro Khanna is a Democrat from California`s 17th District, a member of the House Oversight Committee as well as the Progressive Caucus which has been knee-deep in the Build Back Better negotiations, and he joins me now.

Every time I talk to a member on the House side, they`re like in the same boat as the rest of us.


REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): We`re waiting for Manchin.

HAYES: I text him, like what do you know? It`s like, I don`t know, what does Joe Manchin want?

KHANNA: Well, we`ve done our part. I mean, we sent a bill. We compromised. We started at $3.5 trillion. And we need him now to deliver. The president looked us in the eyes and said, he has the 50 votes.

Here`s what I don`t understand. He says we want a 10-year number, we don`t want it just for one year. Fine, we had the 10-year number, that was the $3.5 trillion. You can`t have it both ways.

HAYES: Well, OK. Well, but here`s what he`s saying and I want to just give you what Manchin said. He`s saying now -- this was the latest. He`s giving you a budget because for some reason that`s the number. Now never mind that all of you guys passed $758 billion in one year of authorization for the Defense program yesterday without anyone batting an eye.

KHANNA: Right. $30 billion more than the president wanted.

HAYES: $30 billion more than the president wanted. Stipulated, OK. He says the budget is $1.75. And then he says this sort of weird thing about like, I want, that`s the budget and you should make things permanent and you guys figure out what`s in there.

KHANNA: Well, here`s the problem. I mean, to make it permanent, it is $1.4 trillion on the child tax credit.


HAYES: Right.

KHANNA: So -- and we don`t have the Republican votes. So, OK, we`ll make that permanent. You`ve got to increase the budget.

HAYES: Right.

KHANNA: Or you want to take away every climate provision, you want to take away universal preschool, you want to take away the child care. I mean, it`s just he knows it`s not possible.

HAYES: Well, but then where are we? Like where are we right now?

KHANNA: Where we are is President Biden needs to say, I got the progressives to compromise. They gave up half their stuff. I looked them in the eye and I said, I have the 50 votes. It`s time we vote. This is my credibility, my reputation. Have the vote. Dare him, dare him to vote no.

HAYES: Now I will remind you that Mitch McConnell tried that on the ACA.


HAYES: And Donald Trump tried it. It was a high stakes thing and I will for the rest of my life, I will remember where I was at 1:00 in the morning when John McCain come up and went --

KHANNA: Here`s the difference. They were trying to take away things from the working class. We`re trying to give things to the working class. I think it`s very difficult. And then if he votes no, then we could do it sequentially. What is he opposed to? I just think people are tired of waiting. The longer this drags out, the harder it`s going to be to get this passed.

HAYES: I want to talk about a topic that has been in the news recently, which is student debt. There was, starting in the Trump administration, a sort of suspension of payments on student debt as part of COVID relief. Those are set to go back. I think start back in February. People that owe money have been getting e-mails being like, here it`s coming again. Thus far, the administration has declined to either cancel student debt or postpone it further.

What do you think they should do?

KHANNA: It`s substantively wrong and it`s awful politics. President Biden campaigned on $10,000 of student loan forgiveness. He needs to deliver, and they should continue not having people repay until it`s tied to some student forgiveness. Otherwise they`re going to say, OK, I didn`t have to pay loans under Trump. Now under President Biden I`m suddenly going to have to pay loans?

HAYES: Do you think that they -- I mean, some people say that they have essentially unilateral ability to cancel debt. They should just cancel the $10,000 that he ran on and just do that.

KHANNA: That`s my understanding. And that`s what people smarter than me, they`ve looked into it and they say he has that ability. And --

HAYES: I mean, until the five justices of the Supreme Court say he doesn`t.

KHANNA: Fine. So let the Republicans sue. Let them be the party that sues to say we want --


KHANNA: To have to pay thousands of dollars in student loans.

HAYES: Better ask for forgiveness than for permission.

KHANNA: Yes. Especially because they`re on solid legal ground here. And this is an issue, you talk to young folks. They care about two things. They`re under debt. Forgive the student loans, and climate. These are the two things that motivate them. And it`s just, I can`t tell you how dumb the politics are to have them start paying in February.

HAYES: What do you think -- there`s a lot of back and forth about sort of where the economy is right now. And one of the things that I wanted to talk to you about is, I understand, you know, it`s very obvious that inflation freaks people out. I understand why it does. High gas prices. But I also think there`s like a little bit of underappreciation of how progressives, progressive caucus, the Biden administration, even working with Trump, who like just wanted to sign checks and didn`t care what was in the bill.

KHANNA: Right.

HAYES: Actually foresaw like a tremendous amount of very progressive macro policy that no one seems to want to take credit for because the environment right now is very uncertain and inflation is high and people are pissed off about that.

KHANNA: I think you make a good point. I stand by everything we did. I stand by the stimulus checks. I stand by the American Rescue Plan. I stand by infrastructure. I stand by having investments in child care and climate, and yes, obviously, inflation has to be addressed, but in my view, that`s partly the Fed`s issue. They were buying back bonds. They`re buying back Morgan securities.

I mean, the Fed needs to do -- deal with that, not that we have some austerity politics in fiscal policy, when we`re helping the working class.

HAYES: Let`s talk about democracy. So today they said they`re going to try to work towards passing some versions of the bill that have passed the House to sort of refortify American democracy. It`s unclear whether they can clear the filibuster or go around it. That aside, what is your perspective as these January 6th hearings or, you know, investigation plays out? You are colleagues with these people that were actively participating in essentially like an anti-democratic push in the U.S. Capitol.

KHANNA: Right. You know what was the most shocking to me? Donald Trump Jr.`s text to Meadows saying please tell my father he needs to do more than tweet? You know we`re in a bad shape when his son can`t get through to him and is asking Meadows to stop Donald Trump. It shows, I mean, how outrageous it was, what was going on.

HAYES: Yes. And I wonder, too, like, do you think this is having the effect of -- it seems to me part of what`s happening here is just reminding everyone what they felt in that moment, what they felt in the 12 and 16 and 24 hours after that Trump has done a very good job, and FOX has done a very good job of trying to (INAUDIBLE).

KHANNA: I think it`s reminding people, and we`re learning how serious it was. I mean, I didn`t realize the extent of it. They have PowerPoint presentation saying he was going to declare a national emergency. I mean, this is the stuff you read about in other countries.


I mean, they literally had a plan, and here`s what I find scary. It wasn`t just in Donald Trump`s head. There were 20, 30 people who knew about it and were close to going through with it.

HAYES: Congressman Ro Khanna, nice to have you here in person.

KHANNA: Chris, always a pleasure.

HAYES: Be safe, have a good holiday.

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