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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 12/17/21

Guests: Kyle Cheney, Will Bunch, Olivia Beavers, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Jordan Weissmann


Convicted Capitol Rioter Cooperating with Jan 6 Panel; 1/6 Rioters Provides Evidence that may Impact Sentencing; Ex-Pundit: Fox Hosts "Dishonest" When Praising Trump; McConnell Calls 1/6 Panel "Fact-Finding" Interesting


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Look at who we met Star Wars. Levar Burton and Williams, I hung out with them --. Yo, I won the week. This has been the most epic week in California. Thank you all, Happy Holidays. Thank you, David Jolly, Don Callaway that today three to "All-In" with Chris Hayes starts now. I won the week.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on "All-In".


BRANDON STRAKA, HAIRSTYLIST, NEW YORK CITY: Patriots, welcome to the revolution.

HAYES (voice over): Every day we learn more about the plot to violently overthrow American democracy. One of the Trump mob criminally charged for January 6, now cooperating with prosecutors tonight what it could mean the investigation and what was actually planned at the Capitol?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plan was always to go to the Capitol.

HAYES (voice over): That is a congressional investigation edges closer to Trump. Mitch McConnell says keep digging.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think that what they`re seeking to find out is something the public needs to know.

HAYES (voice over): And nearly two years into COVID the official report on how Trump deliberately undermined the response.

DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Slow the testing down, please.


HAYES: "What All-In" starts right now. Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Today, a new document out of the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. revealed a very interesting development in the investigation of the January 6 insurrection.

And this document concerns the case of one of the hundreds of people who stormed the Capitol that day, a man named Brandon Straka. Now he`s a relatively well-known figure in certain right wing pro Trump politics. You see him there. He is a self-described former liberal who founded a campaign he calls walk away as and walk away from the Democratic Party and into the arms of Donald Trump.

Now in January, Straka was indicted on three charges related to his actions at the Capitol, including impeding a law enforcement officer and a disorderly conduct. He later entered into a plea agreement promising to cooperate with prosecutors by turning over evidence and being interviewed.

Now, Straka was scheduled to be sentenced next week. But instead today, prosecutors and Straka`s lawyers jointly filed this motion. And that motion asked for a 30 day delay because Straka has turned over new, potentially significant information. "On December 8th, the defendant provided counsel for the government with information that may impact the government`s sentencing recommendation".

Additionally, the government is requesting additional time to investigate information provided in the final pre-sentence report. Brandon Straka was one of the few people involved in the insurrection, which is of interest both the Department of Justice ended the Congressional Committee investigating January 6.

In fact, the committee is asked the National Archives for documents and communications relating to him to Straka from the Trump Administration`s records. Now, as we`ve learned more and more over the past year about what happened on and in the lead up to January 6, it`s become clear there are kind of two categories of people who are involved on that day right?

They`re the people who are in Donald Trump`s inner sanctum that`s people like Steve Bannon and Former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who have been subpoenaed by the committee but remain steadfastly loyal to former president.

And there are people who are a bit more removed like those who help plan the rally that preceded the insurrection. Those are people like Ollie Alexander and Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lynn Lawrence, who I interviewed on this show the other night.

Now, those three that I just mentioned, are cooperating with the January 6 Committee. All of those people, those closer to Trump and those in the outer circles, all of them appear to have been smart enough not to commit the federal crime of storming the Capitol live on television.

Brandon Straka is the exception because he was there. He was in the crowd on the steps the Capitol he recorded what he saw what he said.


STRAKA: We`re going in. We`re going in we`re going in. People are going in looking at this yes, the take the shield.


HAYES: Take the shield that`s him yelling that documenting it. Now the extent there was official planning and programming around the insurrection that guy Brandon Straka was also involved in the, you know, official events that were going on. He spoke at a rally the afternoon before the six riling up the crowd.


STRAKA: Patriots welcome to the revolution. We ladies and gentlemen are a problem for the media in this country. We are problem for the Democrat Party. We are a problem for the rhinos who wanted to lay down and hand over this election to Joe Biden and the Democrats.


STRAKA: Help me tell them right now. We`re not going away. We`re not going away. We`re not going away. We`re not going away.


HAYES: That was a promise they made on January 5th instruct that we`re there. We`re not going away. And they in fact, didn`t go away the next day. Straka has also claimed that he was scheduled to speak at the Capitol on January 6. So he`s this interesting key figure who is essentially at the intersection of the two activities on that day.

There`s the legal, you know, first amendment protected protest that happens at the labs and people assembling to say they think Donald Trump`s the president that`s legal, and then the illegal violent coup attempt when they invaded the Capitol.

And that`s what makes us to big deal that he is cooperating. That rally on January 5, where Straka spoke was a fully legal demonstration as with the January six rally the lips, all that was protected free speech, where it veers off course into criminal activity, of course, is when the mob including Brandon Straka, in that - I have to say very nice code descended on the Capitol.

And there is a really interesting question that`s been developing that has to do with how the decision was made to sic the mob on the Capitol? Donald Trump, of course, sent them instructed them to go; he did it on camera in front of all of us at the Rally Ellipse.


TRUMP: We`re going to - we`re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue. And we`re going to the Capitol.


HAYES: Whether or not to do that, to tell the crowd to go to the Capitol, remember, you would go on to say who`s going to go with them, though he didn`t. Whether or not to send the crowd to the Capitol in that moment was we have learned actually a matter of great debate among the people planning the events on January 6.

That`s at least what rally organizers Justin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence told the congressional committee and told me earlier this week.


DUSTIN STOCKTON, JAN 6 ELLIPSE RALLY ORGANIZER: 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 6 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 or 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.


HAYES: So they knew it was unsafe to do that. And they knew it was a bad idea to do that. And they knew there was no security to do that. And then they find out this is their - what they say in that moment the president`s decided to do. So some people involve the planning people like Stockton and Lauren, they say they raised the red flag about the idea of going to the Capitol, they spoke up and they said it was reckless and possibly dangerous.

And then it was debated. It wasn`t just a spur of the moment thing, or it wasn`t something that was had been under, you know, under contemplated, they debated it and they were overruled. We also know from the documents that then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows turned over to the January 6 Committee that Meadows wrote a weird email on January 5, indicating the National Guard and I quote, his email here would be present at the Capitol, "Protect pro Trump people".

So if you put this together, it sure looks like Trump and his allies and including Meadows were contemplating the scenario in which the mob marched the Capitol and pro Trump insurrectionists might be clashing with counter protesters in the streets, hence the need to protect the pro Trump people.

And now we`ve got a guy who was there who was involved in the lead up to the insurrection who`s on the stage there at the rally the day before, who breaks into the Capitol and who`s cooperating with federal government and who says and has said on tape, the plan all along was to go to the Capitol.


STRAKA: Yesterday, a lot of us got up very, very early. We went to this event in which Donald Trump spoke. The plan was always to go to the Capitol. We were going to march from that event, which was at the Ellipse. The plan was always to march from the Ellipse to the - to the Capitol. And there was going to be another rally. I was one of the speakers slated to speak at the Capitol.


HAYES: Well, it turned into a rally inside the Capitol and of course leaves open some key questions. Whose plan was it to march? How did that plan come about? And who knows about?

Kyle Cheney is a Senior Legal Affairs reporter at POLITICO. He wrote about Brandon Straka today and the potentially significant information he provided. Will Bunch is the National Communist of Philadelphia Inquirer his latest pieces titled "Theory Trump`s January six coup plan worked? How close it came why it failed?" And they both join me now.


HAYES: Kyle let me start with you because you`ve been doing great reporting on this piece that I`ve been following very closely. Your takeaway from Straka`s roll and the end the document file today in court?

KYLE CHENEY, POLITICO, SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, it has to be something significant because your prosecutors don`t usually make a big show of, we have to - we requested a 30 day delay in his sentence. And that`s not a short small amount of time to assess the impact of the information provided.

So it`s very cryptic, you know, it could - it could be a lot of things, it could be information that helps them arrest somebody else. Next to him on the steps, you know, or it could be, as you know, laid out very well, something about the mindset of the organizers that may border on not just the Justice Department`s investigation, but also maybe the January 6 Committee`s investigation.

You know, when Donald Trump said, we`re going to go to the Capitol that inspired a lot of people in that crowd to go, they weren`t necessarily planning to go. So the fact that he said that, whatever his mindset was, actually did drive a lot of people to go.

And so if there was some someone out there saying, our plan was always to go, and I was going to speak, and there was a very set of order of events to this, he may have some awareness, given his connections to all the people involved.

HAYES: Yes, we should know for the time that there are people that are already going to the Capitol, they`re already sort of, you know, sort of knocking over barriers before Trump tells them to, so that that some of that had started beforehand.

But then there`s a huge wave in this, you know, over that period of time. And one of the things that happens, well, and you and you write in this column, which sort of caught me in an interesting way is there`s no one else there around. And that that Meadows email, which appears to contemplate the possibility of counter protesters and appears to contemplate other people being there.

We know from a lot of the testimony of folks that had been indicted about their fears of ANTIFA. They were going to clash with ANTIFA. That never happens. And you sort of lay out a theory that there was an anticipation that would happen, and actually those clashes were part of what they conceived of as an important part of what they want it to happen that day.

WILL BUNCH, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER NATIONAL COLUMNIST: Yes, absolutely. You know, that Mark Meadows email that was unearthed and released this week is just so critical, I think, to understanding the whole day, because, as you said, why, you know, why would the National Guard be on standby to protect pro Trump protesters?

I mean, it wouldn`t be to protect them from the Capitol Police. It would have to be they protect them from some kind of threat, which would be leftist counter protesters. And if you go back and look at the timeline, you know Trump and his inner circle spent months building up the threat from ANTIFA, starting in the summer of 2020, when he talked about them as a terrorist organization.

One thing that I just went back and revisited recently is, on January 5, the day before the insurrection, Trump released several things about ANTIFA he tweet - while he tweeted about them, and he released a memo urging the government to step up its efforts against ANTIFA this is when he`s supposed to be packing up the White House to go to Mar-a-Lago but yet, he`s still focusing on ANTIFA.

And I think he was really trying to pump them up. Because there had been - there had been street clashes between leftists and right wing protesters as recently as December 12th in D.C., and I think they had every expectation that would happen again.

What was such a turning point on January 6, is what didn`t happen, which is there was a big campaign on the left, there was even a hash-tag, don`t take the bait. And no, no leftist protesters at all stayed up that day, showed up that day, and the clashes they expected didn`t happen.

And the National Guard froze like a deer in the headlights, you know, instead of without this mission to fight against ANTIFA they didn`t act for three hours.

HAYES: Yes. And just to go back to that point, you may not come back to you in a second Kyle. But just to follow up on that people forgot there was this weird kind of trial run for this whole thing that happens in December, December 12th, which is like the, the million MAGA March, whatever.

And that`s where you end up that evening with a bunch of Proud Boys like marauding around D.C. and clashing in some cases with ANTIFA folks in like street fights you get Enrique Terrio who was the Proud Boys, you know, burns the church sign like that kind of like, you know, street fright, political brawling, which we don`t necessarily associate with, like a particularly healthy democracy.

That`s happening on the evening of December 12th. In smalls, which do far fewer people? I mean, the idea of a note of that, you know, times 10 times 100 is a sort of awful thing to contemplate, but I think, a possibility that was in the minds of all the people, at least in the Trump world that were planning this?

BUNCH: Right. And you have to go back to remember the other big revelation of this week, which is the 36 page PowerPoint presentation that was circulating up on Capitol Hill. And you know the most chilling part of that is the idea that Trump could declare National Security Emergency.


BUNCH: And again there has to be a pretext you know it could have been - it could have been street fighting it could have been the two pipe bombs that didn`t explode at the DNC or the RNC. But, you know, we don`t know what would have happened if there had been some kind of pretext that the White House could have blamed on the left, how they would have responded or how the National Guard would have responded?

HAYES: Kyle, you wrote a piece that I thought was really interesting and relates, I think, to some of the revelations we had this week, which had been quite a few, mostly thanks, I think, to the Meadows documents, about what this committee, the Jan six committee, learn from impeachment?

The January 6 hearings, in contrast, will be free of the onscreen bickering, delay tactics that marked the 2019 hearings. There`s a real unity of purpose here to this committee. It`s bipartisan, but people are united in what they are trying to achieve. And so far, it`s been very impressive in terms of what they`ve been able to get done.

CHENEY: It`s true when I say in the piece that, you know, one of the maybe the weightiest decision of all that could influence the outcome here is the fact that GOP Leader McCarthy decided not to participate. He was angry that Speaker Pelosi vetoed two of his picks Jim Jordan, and Jim Banks to sit on the committee.

So he pulled everybody out. And it turns out, that may be the best thing that happened to them, because now they are all driving in the same direction, which almost never happened in the congressional investigation. There are no fights over who to subpoena.

I mean, they may debate them, but they`re all on the same page, essentially the same mission. And they`re not trying to build a counter narrative build an opposition. And we don`t see that this is actually kind of a rare case study in what happens in congressional committees are all united to get to the same place, which they almost never are. And that`s why if they do succeed, they may have Kevin McCarthy the bank in the way.

HAYES: Kyle Cheney and Will Bunch that was great. Thank you both. First, he found out they were texting his chief of staff behind his back on January 6. Now there`s more heartbreaking news for Donald Trump but his favorite friends on Fox for all their lavish praise in public, they`ve been insulting him in private. It`s taco Friday next.




LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: As I close out this year, I thought it was super important to reiterate just how fortunate we were to have had a president like Donald Trump for four years.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: You are working as hard as you did when you were in the White House. Except you play a little Gulf War that you you`re keeping an insane schedule. Seven days a week. You really don`t stop.


HAYES: You just don`t stop Donald. You`ve heard the term rhinos, right Republicans in name only it`s a common epithet Trump uses to attack Republicans who are not sufficiently groveling like those two towards him.

Well, tonight we`ve coined a new phrase for those people who go on TV and suck up to Trump night after night to basing themselves and increasingly humiliating and cringe inducing ways. But behind the scenes, low that bad mouth and everyone they are tacos Trumpers on camera only. It`s pronounced but the short.

Now you may recall a few weeks ago, two Fox News Contributors abruptly resigned their positions citing host Tucker Carlson`s conspiracy at least special about the January 6 insurrection, the two men quit their lucrative TV contracts rather than remain complicit in the network`s ongoing disinformation campaigns.

Now one of them Jonah Goldberg is out with a new piece explaining his departure, which lays the blame on Fox personalities who privately disparaged Trump while publicly singing his praises. I quote him here.

I know that a huge share of the people you saw on TV praising Trump for being dishonest. I don`t merely suspect it; I know it because they would say one thing to my face when in my presence, and another thing when the cameras and microphones were flipped off.

And while some of Fox`s more prominent opinion hosts are true believers. That duplicity was nonetheless on display earlier this week when we learned that Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity were frantically texting, then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows during the insurrection, trying to get Trump to call off the violence even as he defended his conduct on the air.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): "Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy". Laura Ingraham wrote. Please get him on TV, destroying everything you have accomplished Brian Kilmeade texted. "Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol" Sean Hannity urged.


HAYES: Now that really craven duplicitous have it both ways attitude extends all the way to the top Republican Party. For instance, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who both reporting suggests and just oh, my hunches, I think I have a nagging feeling is a taco who private privately lows the former president.

I mean, here he is twice this week speaking approvingly of the committee investigating insurrection a committee I should note that he lobbied fellow Republicans against.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who you personally in contact with Mark Meadows that day and other White House officials to urge the Trump to do more?

MCCONNELL: Yes, I was not. But I do think we`re all watching as you are, what is unfolding on the House side. And it will be interesting to reveal all the participants who were involved. We were watching the investigation that`s occurring over in the House. Reading about it like everyone else, and it`ll be interesting to see what facts they find. It was a horrendous event. And I think that what they`re seeking to find out there`s something that public needs to know.


HAYES: Olivia Beavers covers Congress for POLITICO, and she joins me now. I thought that last sentence is so revealing both of what I think McConnell believes but also that the sort of sheer cowardice and I`m editorializing here of the efforts he took to block the committee from actually happening?

Or at least even a different version than what this would have been a joint committee, right, especially Committee, which he lobbied against, to say, well, this is something the public needs to know was the of course the imperative for the entire thing that he lobbied against in the Senate?

OLIVIA BEAVERS, POLITICO CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Exactly. Well, you know, the Bipartisan Commission, it had a lot more support in the House and more generally by Republicans than the one that we`re seeing with this January 6 Committee.

But what`s interesting is his new take as he pointed out he was against the commission and we understand that this is because he didn`t want something coming out during the election where Republicans were forced to be responding to Trump constantly.


BEAVERS: But now that this committee is doing the work anyway, he`s saying, yes, of course, you want to know. And we do know that Mitch McConnell was very angry at Donald Trump after January 6. And so this is sort of his way of lending credence with his suggestions that he wants to know what`s coming out, even if he did not want responsibility for what was going to come out of the commission if Senate Republicans supported it.

HAYES: Yes. I mean, McConnell strikes me I found the Jonah Goldberg piece refreshing because he just says something that I think everyone knows in Washington, which is that a huge swath of Republicans and conservatives talk all kinds of trash behind the scenes about Donald Trump, who they think is a buffoon, and an idiot, and a menace and a million other things, and then come before the cameras and they kiss up to him.

And that`s not just true of Fox News personalities. It`s true of members of Congress and members of the U.S. Senate, like 100 percent true, and I know that you have been a party to that I am sure, as everyone in Washington has been.

BEAVERS: Yes, I mean, I talked to Republicans all the time, it`s part of my job. And they say things privately that are wholly different publicly, why they don`t want to incur the wrath of Donald Trump? They don`t want the entire party apparatus to turn against them. They don`t want to have a primary opponent.

But what they`re doing is having this sort of different kind of private versus public projections, and it`s creating a very different false sort of suggestion of where the party actually is in terms of their support of Donald Trump. But will they support him?

Absolutely because to not support he is also politically detrimental to them but they will, you know, groan and moan and shake their heads and say, I can`t believe he`s saying this. We`re doing this. And I`ve seen that for years.

HAYES: Yes, and I want to be clear about this. I mean, look, there`s a certain amount of like, that`s just politics, people, politicians will say things in private, they won`t say in public, it`s also the case that like, people can be cynical, or they may, you know, they make decisions about what they`re going to spin or that that`s all sort of in the normal.

But the level of dishonesty here to me is distinct from anything else, like I talked to politicians off the record. And like there`s a difference between them saying a thing to you and then like turning around to the cameras and saying the opposite.

You know, that that is there`s a level of fundamental dishonesty and duplicity and like, to facedness that is core to how the Republican operates by holding a party, at least part of it operates around Donald Trump that I have never encountered around other things in my life as a political reporter.

BEAVERS: Because I think all you have to do is look at some of the Republicans who are some of the most forceful Donald Trump critics. I mean, if you look back in the day, Mark Meadows was not on board with Donald Trump. And then when they saw how the political tides were changing, they saw that he was going to be president.

Well, you know, they suddenly were changing face and suddenly being a very pro Donald Trump person. And that`s not just Mark Meadows; it was a lot of the House Freedom Caucus, who was reluctant to support him. And now they will basically support whatever Donald Trump is pushing for, there was a large change in the party.

And it just goes to show that in politics, people will morph and they will transform and they will do what they think is possible to survive politically, in many, many cases.

HAYES: Yes, with no ethical boundary, which is the thing that`s striking to me or and no, I mean, as someone with a high degree of moral narcissism, and no concern for their own integrity, which is the thing I think people should be concerned about, but that`s just me. I didn`t realize again, Olivia Beavers as always a pleasure. Thank you.

BEAVERS: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Still ahead the damning official report on what we all saw with our own eyes as Trump deliberately botched the pandemic response that`s coming up.




HAYES: If you dear viewer are feeling a sense of COVID deja vu, you`re not alone. A lot of people are having flashbacks to the very beginning of the pandemic, especially when you look at the map showing the change in COVID cases over the last two weeks, any state that is not yellow has had cases rising, which you can see is most of them, particularly there in the northeast, across the Midwest.

New York State Of course, where I am right now and where the pandemic first took hold and first was most brutal nearly two years ago, in that state, the number of positive cases hit a new record today. And we`re seeing the same thing happen in some ways, which is cancellations. Broadway shows have been canceled, the Rockettes cancelled, the NFL now is postponed three games that are scheduled for this weekend after a surge in cases among players.

Now a lot of the surge has happened. There`s sort of like two different surges happening right now. There`s a delta and then we`re going to get to Omicron. But we`ve seen throughout the pandemic when cases rise, hospitalizations follow and you can see increases in States across the country, from Connecticut to South Carolina. Many of the other spikes that are happening in the Northeast right now, at least in cases are driven by the new Omicron variant.

We should point out the U.S. is behind other countries like the UK where Omicron became the dominant variant seemingly overnight, and Omicron charts look unlike other charts, OK? This is an example like there`s just nothing like this we`ve seen in the pandemic before. It just is a different thing. Look at Omicron shoots straight up the end of this chart. That`s the red line, overtaking the Delta variant in just days.

And there are numerous charts in countries undergoing overcrowd outbreaks that look like that. Denmark, for example. The UK also just recorded its highest number of daily COVID cases since the very beginning the pandemic and that`s despite a higher vaccination and booster rate then us here in the US.


A new study by Imperial College London found the risk of reinfection with Omicron coronavirus variants is more than five times higher, has shown no sign of being milder than Delta so that`s the bad news. It just - it is what it is, it`s out there. I will say this though and I am someone who`s obsessively consuming this information.

Through all that there`s - there`s quite a bit of hopeful data out of South Africa where the variant was first identified and where we think one of the first omicron outbreaks happened. So this chart is from the South African Department of Health, and it shows deaths among hospitalized patients. And omicron, which is what the fourth wave, that`s the gray line there. Those are the gray bars, right? Those gray bars, which are deaths of hospitalizations are two thirds lower in the country`s omicron wave. You see how those gray bars much lower than previous variants. That`s a great signal. This is like real data.

This isn`t, you know, studies in labs. This is actual patients they`ve actually had. So we can hope that hold true here as omicron takes hold. That`s because hospitals in many places are already understaffed and overwhelmed with the Delta variant. While there continues to be huge holes in our response to this pandemic, at every layer from strained healthcare system, to big lines for testing happening in New York right now.

It is also, I think, important to realize, because I`ve been seeing people say, well, this is just like 2020 but it is quite different. We really are better equipped this time around as we go into this new wave. More than 72 percent of adults in this country are fully vaccinated, that`s over 200 million people. And we`ve got good reason to believe that vaccination will be a good protection against severe illness, particularly if you were boosted.

More than 31 percent adults have gotten a booster, which really helps against Omicron and if you haven`t gotten it yet, I would urge you to go get it immediately. Both of those numbers need to be a lot higher. But again, night and day compared to - there were no vaccines, right? Two years ago, no vaccines, no immunity that anyone had from previous infection like nothing. We were a naive population for this virus.

One of the reasons we can see the cases go up right now with Omicron is because we have eyes on the virus in a way we didn`t back in March 2020. We have surveillance because we now have testing infrastructure in place. We have rapid tests. Yes, they should be free and available to all. New York City is actually going to mail out I think about a million, but we`ve also got PCR tests. All of these are getting overwhelmed as happens in an outbreak. But we do have some testing capacity that gives us some sense of what`s going on.

We also have quality masks. We know how to take steps to keep ourselves safe. Masking in big indoor settings, for instance, at home rapid test if you can get them before you go to an event. Also, another really important difference between now and 2020 is there`s not a sociopath in charge of the country anymore. Donald Trump is not in charge anymore. We knew his attitude to the pandemic was shockingly bad.

But tonight the official Congressional investigation into his administration`s responses pandemic is out. And the details are absolutely gobsmacking. One of the committee members behind that report joins me next.




HAYES: Back in April 2020, about only a month into this once in a century pandemic which continues to play out today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put together a Select Subcommittee to look into the federal response to the coronavirus. In the past 20 months as that subcommittee of seven Democrats and five Republicans examine the government`s response to the crisis, more than 800,000 people in the United States are dead of COVID.

A lot of those deaths were and continue to be avoidable. Particularly in the early part and had the Trump Administration had a plan. But every turn of the way it seemed like Donald Trump was doing everything in his power to make the situation worse.


DONALD J. TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In light of these studies, the CDC is advising the use of non-medical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure. So it`s voluntary, you don`t have to do it. They suggest it for a period of time. But this is voluntary.

Here`s the bad part. When you test of - when you do testing to that extent, you`re going to find more people, you`re going to find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down, please.

We develop immunity over a period of time and I hear we`re close to 15 percent. I`m hearing that and that is terrific. That`s a very powerful vaccine in itself.


HAYES: Today, the committee released report on its findings, and we`re learning more about how much of the chaos can be traced directly back to the Trump administration`s handling of the virus including evidence of the administration`s `deliberate efforts to undermine the nation`s Coronavirus response for political purposes,` which included efforts to reduce the amount of testing and championing a dangerous herd immunity strategy among other failures.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi is the Democrat of Illinois and a member of that subcommittee investigating the federal response to Coronavirus pandemic, and he joins me now. Congressman, I wonder if you can just start by laying out the sort of key findings of your committee in this report.

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Well, thank you, Chris. Not only did the Trump Administration not prepare for COVID even when they knew about it, not only did they pursue quack solutions to COVID, such as getting everyone to take hydroxychloroquine but they actively silenced truth tellers in the government and scientists who were trying to give briefings to the public. And they politically interfered with the judgment and decision making and guidance given by the CDC.

You mentioned the testing guidance where they basically altered testing guidance in August 2020 to reduce the testing of asymptomatic people, even though that was contrary to science. Dr. Deborah Birx said the reason was to obscure how rapidly COVID was spreading through our society. And of course, that had deadly consequences.

HAYES: Yes, the whole idea was to you know - he says it there actually you know, to impute this to him, he doesn`t like the fact that numbers are going up because he thinks it reflects poorly on his political prospects. And the way to do that is to just stop testing so that the numbers will be lower so that he has a better chance of reelection, which seemed to guide as your report found and as we saw in real time guide everything at every step.


KRISHNAMOORTHI: That`s right. But of course COVID ultimately shows up in hospitals. It shows up in infections, it shows up in deaths. And so regardless of whether Donald Trump decides to test less for COVID, that doesn`t mean that COVID goes away. And unfortunately, it led to perhaps 1000s of more deaths than would otherwise have been the case, had we tested asymptomatic people, quarantined people who had COVID and of course treated those away from those who had not had COVID.

HAYES: I want to just go through some of the findings here just to put them all out. They block CDC briefings media appearances. We know that happened with Dr. Nancy Messonnier after she warned people that schools are about to shut down and was never heard from again even though she was right. Sought to sidestep the CDC to finalizing guidance, they weakened CDC is testing guidance.

As you noted, they instructed career scientists to destroy evidence of political interference. They pressured the FDA to authorize ineffective Coronavirus treatments. We know from whistleblowers resigning, that that`s the case. This I think is the most the sickest, darkest, most despicable episode. When - when Scott Atlas got was hired in the White House and championed a herd immunity strategy in which the solution was to get everybody sick with COVID, have the weak to die off.

And the survivors have antibodies and have it over and done with. And if that had happened, we would have had hundreds of - I mean, we would have had hundreds of 1000s of more deaths than we had because state local governments kept social distancing guidelines, tried to keep people alive until a vaccine came. But what did you discover about that episode?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, what we discovered that -- is that Scott Atlas talked about this on Fox News. And really after he did that, he was hired by President Trump to help lead our COVID pandemic response. And as you mentioned, this herd immunity theory would have led to hundreds of 1000s if not millions, more deaths. It was enunciated in something called the Great Barrington Declaration, which by the way, a lot of these quacks still believe in, and they are not remorseful about it.

They don`t apologize for it, they still think that this is the way to go. And I think people should know that as they make choices about who to hold accountable and whether to elect people back to office who still subscribe to that nonsense.

HAYES: You guys found. I mean, Dr. Deborah Birx at this point is sort of at her wit`s end with these people with Atlas and the herd immunity, folks. There`s an email from her in August of 25th 2020 when Atlas is holding a roundtable on herd immunity at the White House. "I can`t be a part of this with these people who believe in herd immunity, they are a fringe group without grounding in epidemics, public health or on the ground common sense experience, I`m happy to go out of town or whatever gives the White House cover for Wednesday."

This is her basically sidestepping it, although she doesn`t come out at the time to blow the whistle on this.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Right. And also, Francis Collins, by the way, wrote an email around that same time saying that we need to do a takedown of this theory publicly. However, neither of them did that. And that was, in my opinion, regrettable. I think that it would have helped had they come out publicly and said what they felt. But on the other hand, you know, truth tellers were silenced throughout the government. It wasn`t just the two of them.

And I think that this is what happens when you have politics infecting science, Chris, when you have politics guiding what science should otherwise be dictating in terms of guidance, judgments and decision making with regard to our health. That is a very troubling, troubling issue.

HAYES: Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, who served on that subcommittee, thank you very much.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Are you fed up with constant attempts to appease one particular yacht owner from West Virginia. A possible solution to the legislative gridlock next?



HAYES: There`s a lot of frustration right now among Democrats and progressives in Washington and across the country. Now President Joe Biden`s big climate and social spending package, the Build Back Better plan is being postponed until next year. Most of that frustration has been directed at West Virginia Democratic Senator, Senator Joe Manchin as well as Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, both of whom have been seeming to run out the clock.

Manchin in particular at this moment, I mean, Democrats and the President have been working to please Manchin and after months of negotiation, it`s not clear he will come around. Back in July, Democrats announced a $3.5 trillion program full of major legislative agenda items, really good programs that were popular, that Joe Biden ran on, they just didn`t come out of the blue.

Manchin, the crucial 50th vote in the Senate said no, we need to get this price tag down to 1.7 trillion, 1.75. And Democrats said OK, King Manchin, we will bring it down. So they kept all those priorities more or less that were in that bill, but they shortened the amount of time that they would be in effect which reduced the cost. King Manchin said that does not work either. He called it a shell game and a budget given.

Instead what Manchin says he wants Democrats to pick fewer priorities and then fund them for a decade, which would effectively make them permanent. And we`re now in this situation where everyone wants to tear their hair out. Listen to Senator Bernie Sanders who was one of the architects of that original bill and the chair of the Budget Committee described his frustration on this show yesterday.



SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): You got two people saying, hey, if you don`t do it my way, I don`t care what the President wants. I don`t care what 48 of my colleagues want. It`s my way or the highway, and that I regard is arrogance. You can disagree. Look, I have disagreements as you well know. All right, you fight for your ideas, but you don`t say my way or the highway, and that I feel very strongly about.


HAYES: OK. But here`s an interesting take, weirdly enough, what Manchin now appears to be advocating here also actually lines up with a growing critique that I`ve been seeing emerging from some progressive observers of legislation, who are worried that the current version with all these different programs for temporary amounts of time will ultimately amount to not that much in the medium term because it will just be destroyed by an incoming Republican Congress.

These people that make the argument, why not focus on fewer legislative priorities for longer periods of time and in his latest piece for Slate, Jordan Weissman argues that quote, prioritizing fewer items, but making them permanent, is a much more reasonable way to go about reforming the safety net for the long term. And joining me now is Jordan Weissman, Senior Editor for Slate.

Jordan, I liked your piece, and I`ve seen other people make it even before Manchin said this. So let`s just take Manchin out of the equation. Back when Democrats had to deal with the idea of OK, how do we get a $3.5 trillion bill down to 1.75, one of the choices they made was, we`ll keep a lot of the stuff we want, which includes paid family leave, which includes universal pre-K, which includes elder care, which includes Obamacare fixes, which includes expanded Medicaid benefits, climate spending, but we`ll reduce the amounts of time. What`s the problem with that?

JORDAN WEISSMANN, SENIOR EDITOR, SLATE: Well, I think one easy way to think about it is to just imagine what would have happened in 2017, or 2018 if Obamacare had been set to expire, right? If the ACA had not been permanent? Do you think we would still have the Affordable Care Act today? I think chances are not.

The reason that program survived was because you needed a majority of Senate Republicans to vote to repeal it. And as a result, you know, John McCain was able to give his thumbs down. And that was that. You know, the ACA is with us to this day, and it`s very popular. If that program had just been lapsing on his own, or on its own, that would have been it.

John McCain would not been able to save it, it would have just disappeared. And I think that`s the sort of example a lot of people have in the back of their heads when they`re saying yes, fewer programs permanently for longer.

HAYES: Yes, so right. So let`s say if you say, look, we`re going to have a paid family leave program, and it`s going to go for three years, and then afterwards is going to have to be renewed. The theory is that it will be so popular, it will be impossible for Republicans not to renew it. You don`t necessarily buy that.

WEISSMANN: I mean, that`s kind of the line I have heard over and over again, from advocates for these different programs, and for some people in Congress. And, you know, it`s a judgment, I don`t objectively know that they are wrong. I don`t think anybody objectively knows who is correct here. I mean, they`re, you know, you`re just - you`re speculating about the future.

But, you know, the Republican Party has shown, or many members of the Republican Party have shown themselves willing to repeal very popular legislation. And, you know, when Donald Trump was president, he took all sorts of unilateral action to try and essentially tear down the Affordable Care Act, even though it was very unpopular to do so.

Imagine a scenario where Donald Trump is president again, do you think he`s going to care much if Joe Biden`s childcare program lapses and creates chaos? I think not.

HAYES: Of course, the problem is, then you have to make these choices and you got to cut stuff, right? And there are these promises that have been made on the campaign. And they`re also good stuff like America doesn`t have paid leave. It`s the only country in the OECD. It`s the only rich country in the world.

It`s one of the only countries in the world that doesn`t have official federally mandated and paid for maternal leave. And I think it`s very painful for people to contemplate cuttings up things because what it sets up is this kind of like, Hobson`s choice between different priorities.

WEISSMANN: It`s wrenching. I mean, that`s what makes this whole conversation so difficult for anyone from you know, moderates, the center left to you know, the progressives is that all - all the stuff in this bill is pretty good, or most of stuff in this bill is pretty good. You know, nobody wants to be a person who says, yes, I think it`s time to, you know, cut, cut, you know, home care for the elderly and disabled, or let`s - let`s not improve public housing in America. It feels terrible to be the one to say that, but in the end, Joe Manchin is the 50th vote.

And it is also possible to create a pretty good bill that does a lot of these things permanently. In my piece, I outlined one potential example where you could preserve a lot of the child tax credit expansion. You could do childcare and pre-K. You could do fixes to Obamacare subsidies.