IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 12/20/21

Guests: Paul Eaton, Michael Schmidt, Dave Chokshi, Heather McGhee, David Plouffe

Summary

Three former senior military officials warn of potential 2024 insurrection. Retired military officials decry the lack of military preparedness following the 2020 election. The House January 6 Committee is weighing a criminal referral against one Donald Trump. Former President Donald Trump and Bill O`Reilly reveal they received their booster shots.

Transcript

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN. As the January 6 investigation continues, former generals raise alarms about another insurrection. One of those former generals joins me live tonight.

Then, New York City`s health commissioner on what may be promising new data on Omicron and the importance of getting a word out on boosters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you get the booster?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got it too. Okay, so --

TRUMP: Don`t --

HAYES: And what may be the best hope for a path forward with Build Back Better on life support.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO CORTEZ (D-NY): I do not believe that the situation is beyond repair, but it`s going to take a different kind of thinking to get out of it than it did to get into it.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Top military officials are warning that what held last time, the military firewall blocking Donald Trump`s attempted coup might not hold again.

In a new opinion piece in the Washington Post, three former top military strategist, Major General Paul Eaton who commanded operations to train Iraqi troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Major General Antonio Taguba who of course authored the somewhat infamous internal report on abuse of detainees held at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq, and Brigadier General Stephen Anderson who served directly under general David Petraeus warn, "We are increasingly concerned about the aftermath of the 2024 presidential election and the potential for lethal chaos inside our military which would put all Americans at severe risk. In short, we are chilled to our bones of the thought of a coup succeeding next time."

I`m going to talk to Major General Paul Eaton in just a moment. First, we should discuss how the fortifications did hold one year ago. While Trump`s attempted coup was insidious and reckless and damaging to the very foundation of American democracy, it was also in many ways undeniably inept., relying on sloppy and brutish phone calls and outlandish conspiracy theories and lawsuits that kept getting laughed out of court over and over and over again.

And a big reason why the entire attempt was so haphazard was precisely because Donald Trump did not have the military on his side. Of course, that`s usually how coups work. I mean, by definition, a coup is usually a violent sudden seizure of power from a government that often involves the military.

We`ve seen it in countless countries around the world, Libya, to Chile, to Pakistan, and on and on. And tanks rolling into the town square to install a leader by force or remove one by force. But that didn`t happen following the 2020 election. Thankfully there, the guard rails of American democracy are inculcated enough into the operational day-to-day culture of our armed forces, that military leaders didn`t play along with this attempt to openly subvert our free and fair elections to overturn a democratic election.

And again, to be clear, it was not for lack of trying from Donald Trump. Because remember, and this has somewhat been memory hold, but remember, in the lead up to January 6, he apparently realized that in order to carry out a successful coup, he was going to need the military on his side.

In a memo circulated internally in the White House just weeks before the election, Trump`s enforcers in the personnel office recommended he fire then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper who`s the man in charge of the Pentagon.

Again, this was just weeks before the end of Trump`s first term, apparently ousting Esper simply could not wait. So, what were Esper`s transgressions that required him to be fired immediately? Well, disloyalty to Donald Trump. Specifically among other complaints, his refusal to use the force of the American military to quash George Floyd police brutality protest in the summer of 2020.

According to the memo, Esper "Publicly opposed the president`s direction to utilize American forces to put down riots." Think about that phrase, to put down riots. He wouldn`t go along with the President ordering troops to put down American citizens. And therefore, he had to go.

Because the logic follows, if he did not want to do it in 2020 during the summer, he would not use the military to quell protest after say, our President overturns the results of an election he lost or who knows what else. And Donald Trump apparently agreed with that. He fired Esper less than a week after the election.

In his outgoing moment of staff, Esper reminded the troops of their civic duty. "I want to thank you all for remaining apolitical and for honoring your oath to the constitution." Going on to write, "Always do the right thing," he intent.

Okay, so, they get rid of the head of the Armed Forces, right, Donald Trump`s appointee at the Pentagon. After the election, he`s out at the Pentagon. According to reporting by journalist Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, general Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election.

[20:05:18]

Milley was reportedly very concerned with the president`s mental state. He`s mainly worried that Trump might conduct a military strike but also that he might attempt an attack on America itself. As journalist Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker report, "They may try but they won`t succeed," Milley told his deputies about a possible coup. You can`t do this without the military. You can`t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We`re the guys with guns.

That of course is not an ideal situation to find in a democracy with the chair the Joint Chiefs of Staff saying we have the guns and you don`t. But it`s where things ended up with Milley as the firewall inside the administration at least according to those reports, and determined to stonewall the commander-in-chief if necessary, not to foment a coup like we`ve often seen when a military defies its leader but to prevent one.

In a statement responding to the Milley reporting, Trump said, "Sorry to inform you, but an election is my form of coup." What? "And if I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I`d want to do it with is General Mark Milley."

OK, I totally did not do a coup but if I did do a coup, it would not be with that guy. He`s negging Milley about his coup abilities. Milley has refused to comment publicly about any of this reporting though clearly he was talking I think to a lot of reporters behind the scenes. He has insisted his loyalty is only to the country and the constitution.

All of this is good. It is what we want to happen. That is to say the system works so that an authoritarian president was not able to weaponize United States armed forces to keep himself in power after losing a free and fair election. But as those former top military leaders warn in that new piece i quoted at the top, it`s not a status quo that we can just kind of take for granted going forward.

I quote again. "On January 6, a disturbing number of veterans and active- duty members of the military took part in the attack on the Capitol. More than one in ten of those charged in the attacks had a service record. A group of 124 retired military officials under the name Flag Officers for America released a letter echoing Donald Trump`s false attacks on legitimacy of our elections."

The authors of the op-ed go on to write, "The potential for a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines from the top of the chain of the squad level is significant should another insurrection occur." The idea of rogue units organizing among themselves to support the "rightful commander-in-chief cannot be dismissed."

Major General Paul Eaton served in the U.S. Army for 33 years including during the Iraq war. He co-wrote that opinion piece with two other retired generals. And he joins me now.

General, I wonder if you could just talk about the origins of this piece and why you felt the need to write it, how it came about, what precipitated it?

MAJ. GEN. PAUL EATON (RET), SENIOR ADVISOR, VOTEVETS: Well, great to be here. And thank you very much, Chris. So, the piece was designed to correct or at least to address a failure to imagine. The Republican Party has been imagining pretty well. The January 6 insurrection was unimaginable to me until I watched it unfold on various news outlets.

And the intent of the op-ed was to cause folks to consider that intelligent people are doing after action reviews on why 6 of January failed and what they can do to correct the failure -- the points of failure. So, if you went through a series of steps that we read and began to help trigger the op-ed, three governors dispute who the commander-in-chief of their national guards are. That`s another uh opportunity that we have for command failure and command lack of understanding of how the chain of command works.

So, with the indications and warnings that you laid out, with the fact that the Republican Party has gone to great lengths to infect America with this question of electoral suitability with the fact that the election of 2020 was a fraud, and we have 39 percent of the GOP who do not accept that President Biden is the duly elected president. We have 17 of the GOP who feel that violence to correct that situation is appropriate.

So, we wrote this op-ed to correct that failure of imagination, that it can happen. That Americans are going after it right now and offered mitigating opportunities to buy down the risk.

[20:10:02]

HAYES: Yes, I want to -- I want to read some of the prescriptions you have. And I think, before I get to that, just one more follow-up question about this. I mean, my read on what happened when you read about what was happening at the Pentagon and with ESPER and then Milley is that again, at some level, the fundamental small D democratic cultural ethos of the armed forces at least at the top levels really did hold, right?

I mean, at a deep level, the oath to the Constitution and the notion that this is not -- this is not what the armed forces should ever do is to interfere in election, that that held. I think your concern though is that could be eroded with sustained attempts by the ex-president and his sort of facilitators uh to eat into that belief at least among uh folks that are -- that are in the armed forces which of course is, you know, 1.5 million people or whatever.

EATON: Indeed there is an active movement right now on the part of the GOP to infect the armed forces of the United States with doubt that the election process is just not what we expect it to be to insert doubt that we are conducting fair and elegantly delivered elections.

So, there will be opportunities for good Americans to conclude that the election may not have produced results that are consistent with what they want and will listen and that we`ve just got to get after that particular threat.

HAYES: Yes, you`re right here. The Pentagon should immediately order civics review for all members, uniformed and civilian, on the constitution electoral integrity. There must also be a review of the laws of war, how to identify and deal with legal orders, and it must reinforce unity of command to make perfectly clear to every member of the Defense Department whom they answer to. No service member should say they didn`t understand whom to take orders from during a worst-case scenario.

Obviously, it`s 33 years in the U.S. Armed Forces as a general. You do a lot of planning, a lot of worst-case scenario planning. It`s sort of the job. It strikes me that that`s kind of what you`re talking about here except with worst-case scenario planning for something catastrophic internally.

EATON: Indeed. A few months before the last election, we had something called the transition integrity project. And we had four scenarios. This was developed by Rosa Brooks and her team. And what we did not consider was the military having a problem within each of those scenarios.

What we are asking for is to red team this. What we`re asking for is to have that burst of imagination, what can happen and what do we do about it. And that`s the war game component that i think that we need to see the nation do about two years before the actual election coming up in 2024.

HAYES: I wonder, General -- obviously, you co-wrote this op-ed with two other retired folks, if this is a topic of conversation the circles in which you operate. If this is -- if the aftermath of January 6 of the shock of it, the surprise of it, the possibility of further democratic erosion and watching that as a explicit project of certain actors, if that`s just something that is circulating a lot in the in the circles your running.

EATON: Chris, here`s the thing. All of us know, men and women, we trusted. They are our friends, they may be our family members, and they are infected by this GOP message that the election was stolen. We all have these people. And we all know that they`re smart enough to know better, but for some reason this feast of fealty to Donald Trump has has just compromised the intellect and the wisdom of so many Americans. It`s -- we have a -- we have a failure to imagine and we`ve got to fix that.

HAYES: That`s a very, very profound point and personal. And I know that -- I`ve even spoken with former colleagues of Michael Flynn who, you know, have a very hard time squaring the individual they see now and the things he says with the man they served with. And I know there`s a lot of people that feel that way about a lot of other different folks.

And I appreciate you taking some time. Major General Paul Eaton, thank you for your time tonight.

EATON: Thank you very much for having me.

HAYES: All right, breaking news published a few minutes before we came to there from The New York Times tonight. The January 6 committee is weighing a criminal referral against one Donald J. Trump. We`ll talk to one of the reporters who just broke that news next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:15:00]

HAYES: Just a few moments ago, we got a bit of breaking news on the committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. The New York Times reports the committee is weighing the possibility of recommending criminal charges against former President Donald Trump and others in his circle.

"According to people briefed on their efforts, investigators for the committee are looking to whether a range of crimes were committed including two in particular whether there was wire fraud by Republicans who raised millions of dollars off assertions the election was stolen despite knowing the claims were not true, and whether Mr. Trump and his allies obstructed congress by trying to stop the certification of electoral votes.

New York Times Washington Correspondent Michael Schmidt is one of the reporters who broke this story and he joins me now. Michael, take us through uh your reporting on this. It seems like there`s a bit of an arc here in terms of where the committee might have started and where they`ve been going as they have undertaken their work.

MICHAEL SCHMIDT, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Look, this committee was established to create the most authoritative account of what happened on January 6. Now, like in many congressional investigations, when they got under the hood and they took a look at what happened and they`ve looked at these troves of evidence, they`ve begun to consider whether that in the end they`ll have to make a criminal referral.

Vice-Chairman Cheney really let the cat out of the bag on this last -- in the past few weeks where she publicly read from the criminal code. And what we did is we went back and did some reporting to sort of look at the extent that the committee is looking at this issue, the two biggest issues, the ones that you laid out.

[20:20:17]

And look, a criminal referral uh has no real legal weight. But what it would do is it would -- it would possibly change the pressure on Attorney General Garland. The Attorney General has been able to largely skate without having to address the question of whether Donald Trump is being investigated and whether, you know, if he`s not being investigated, why not.

He has largely skidded on that issue so far since coming to office. But if the committee after a thorough investigation were to make -- send a letter to the Justice Department saying look, here`s where we think there is criminality, it would put new pressure on DOJ to at the very least be responsive to Congress and to explain to congress what`s going on here.

HOLT: Yes, it`s a great point about the institutional dynamics here that I hadn`t even thought of. I mean, you know, I think what`s been clear is much of this was done I mean even from the phone call with Raffensperger. I mean, there`s lots of stuff in the record that we know even through reporting such as yours and others and other things that have happened that show that, you know, whatever the legal status. Like, the president was trying to overturn the election and stay in power based on a set of untrue false statements about how the election went.

The question is like, what that adds up to the Department of Justice. And your point here is this committee issuing a referral would have huge reverberations in the institutional dynamics of the meaning of the president`s actions vis-a-vis the Department of Justice.

SCHMIDT: You would think that it would be something difficult -- you know, difficult for the Justice Department to not address in some way given the largeness of that question. If you remember back all the way to 2017, the Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill were holding up the nominations of top Justice Department officials including Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.

And what happened was that pressure became so great and they demanded -- what they were demanding was answers about what was going on with the Russia investigation.

HAYES: That`s right.

SCHMIDT: And it was to unlock Rosenstein`s nomination to get him confirmed that the FBI Director at the time, James B. Comey testified before Congress and acknowledged the fact that there was this investigation. He briefed lawmakers in private and then he publicly went out and said it at a congressional hearing. That created huge reverberations in Washington, the simple fact that Comey was acknowledging it. Rosenstein got confirmed and then he helped fire Comey.

HAYES: Right. That`s a great point. What else can you tell us just about the progress of the committee`s work? Because at some level, this is all -- there have been no public hearings thus far. We have seen them come forward and give some evidence. We`ve seen high-profile cases of individuals who have refused cooperation whether that`s Steve Bannon who has a criminal referral at the Department of Justice and then was indicted or it`s Mark Meadows, or it`s people pleading the fifth like roger stone.

But underneath the iceberg, hundreds and hundreds have been interviewed, tons of documents. It seems there`s been a lot of work that has already done. I`m just curious what your reporting indicates about the progress of it all.

SCHMIDT: Well, look, whatever they have, whatever they know, it was enough for Liz Cheney to go out and say what she did, you know, in these past few weeks where she read from the criminal code.

HAYES: Yes.

SCHMIDT: I think this committee wants to be taken seriously. They wanted this to appear like it`s a bipartisan effort that is following the facts. Going out there and reading the criminal code is one of the more aggressive things that a congressional committee that has no criminal powers can do. And what we were able to learn is that there`s -- there is work underneath those statements. It was no accident that she was saying it. There are different criminal codes that they have looked at.

The investigation has former federal prosecutors working on this. They don`t want to be embarrassed by sending some sort of frivolous letter to the Justice Department that would be ignored. They would want this to be a truly serious thing.

HAYES: Let me -- let me just play a little bit of Cheney -- what you`re -- what you`re citing here. Her talking in language that was just lifted from the U.S. criminal code of about obstruction of Congress. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Mr. Meadow`s testimony will bear on another fundamental question before this committee. And that is whether Donald J. Trump, through action or inaction corruptly sought to obstruct or impede Congress`s official proceeding to count electoral votes. This committee is entitled to Mr. Meadows testimony and it will inform our legislative judgments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[20:25:07]

HAYES: And we should note here, Michael, just a final note, is that my understanding is there`s actually a bunch of people have been charged with obstruction of official proceedings who actually stormed the Capitol. This is an actual criminal charge that is -- that that has been filed against lots of folks who were there doing precisely that.

SCHMIDT: As best as we know, as best as our reporting shows, the Justice Department investigation has worked from the ground up. It is -- it is really focused on those individuals who literally stormed the Capitol on January 6. And as part of those prosecutions, some of those individuals have been charged with obstructing Congress.

Now, the question is that, can that be applied to someone who was not themselves literally obstructing Congress. And these are for larger legal issues(AUDIO GAP). And the Justice Department would really, really have to weigh. But the question is that, would the committee do this and when would they do it.

HAYES: All right, Michael Schmidt, thank you so much for both that great reporting and for joining us at the last second. I really and truly appreciate it.

SCHMIDT: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: An absolutely jaw-dropping, almost unbelievable look at just how quickly the new COVID variant has taken over the country. What you needed to know as the holidays get underway ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:30:00]

HAYES: I think one of the weirdest aspects of this entire pandemic as we`re about to enter calendar year three of it is the fact that many Republicans just will not admit that they are vaccinated or boosted. It`s weird and cringey and awkward even though it`s just a simple question. They seem to want to perform this anti-vaccine flirtation with the 20 percent or so of Americans who were just solidly against getting the shot.

This weekend on Fox News, Republican Governor Ron Desantis of Florida showed us exactly what this kind of dalliance sounds like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Governor, we`re not even sure what fully vaccinated means anymore. The other day, Dr. Fauci said, you know, we could be that fully vaccinated means three shots which is two shots for the vaccination and then one booster shot. Have you gotten the booster?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): So, I`ve done whatever I did the normal shot. And you know, that at the end of the day is people`s individual decisions about what they want to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: You see -- I did whatever that is the normal thing and then at the end of the day, that`s people`s decisions. Now, what is especially funny about that preposterously deliberate evasion from Governor DeSantis, oh me, booster, I don`t know, who can tell, is that his efforts to appease the MAGA faithful, he has gone even more MAGA than Donald Trump, more Catholic than the Pope as we used to say.

On Saturday, Donald Trump himself declared to the world along with former Fox News Host Bill O`Reilly -- remember him? That Trump is fully vaccinated and boosted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FORMER HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Both the president and I are vaxxed. And did you get the booster?

TRUMP: Yes.

O`REILLY: I got it too. Okay, so --

TRUMP: Don`t, don`t, don`t -- that`s all -- there`s a very tiny group over there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Very tiny group over there. It`s interesting. I wondered what happened to Bill O`Reilly. I guess there he is. You even heard the former president there calling out the small group that booed him? And it is good that Donald Trump and Bill O`Reilly announced they received their booster shots.

As we`ve been discussing on this show a lot, we are way behind on booster doses in this country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that only about 30 percent of fully vaccinated adults have received a booster and nearly every day new data comes out showing the booster doses are particularly important in the fight against the Omicron variant which has been able to evade a lot of folks who have two-dose vaccines not entirely, but the booster boosts its efficacy.

Today, for instance, Moderna announced their booster significantly raises anti-bottle levels to thwart Omicron. But we should already have many more Americans boosted. Now, to its credit the Biden administration anticipated this need. They prepared a big rollout. Do you remember this? This was the headline all the way back in August.

U.S. announced his plan to offer boosters to all Americans starting in late September. But then came the descent, all sorts of folks. Some experts, those of the World Health Organization for example arguing it would be unethical to give Americans a third shot while many vulnerable people around the world, billions in fact, had not even had one dose.

Now, that`s a totally reasonable ethical argument and I understood the WHO making it, but it`s not a scientific judgment, it`s a policy argument. Two top vaccine regulators at the Food and Drug Administration, doctors Philip Krause and Marion Gruber even left the agency in part because of the White House`s booster plan according to the New York Times.

In an article written with other international vaccine experts, they claimed the data did not support giving all healthy Americans a booster, that supplies would be better used on the unvaccinated. They said they were concerned about politics leading the science when in fact really it was the other way around.

I mean, they`re making a political judgment about whether -- where those doses are best used, but the science narrowly was clear. Data from other countries like Israel showed booster doses worked. President Biden`s plan to boost everyone was absolutely the correct one on the merits of the science and it was essentially sabotaged out of good faith it seems, but still destructively by a bunch of public health experts who arrogated to themselves a larger policy determination about trade-offs and ethics and where the doses should go.

And all that has led to really muddled messaging all around and worryingly low levels of booster doses as Omicron begins to burn through the country. This is an important reminder. As much as folks say trust the science in this pandemic which is true, science should inform policy but cannot determine it. It is necessary to good policy but not sufficient.

[20:35:04]

There are always going to be a lot of judgment calls that our leaders have to make and those calls are just going to get even more intense with the incoming Omicron wave. We`ll talk about that with the health commissioner for the city of New York next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Tonight, the White House announced a staff member who was in close contact with President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID today. On Friday, this person who`s usually not in regular contact with the president spent about 30 minutes in what they are calling proximity to Biden on Air Force One during a flight from South Carolina to Pennsylvania. Staffers fully vaccinated and boosted and tested negative before boarding Air Force One.

White House is announcing tonight President Biden has tested negative for COVID. This comes on the heels of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker and Congressman Jason Crow testing positive for COVID. All three fully vaccinated and boosted. All three say that they`re experiencing only mild symptoms which is great.

One thing is clear so far about this new Omicron variant, it is highly transmissible. I mean, really transmissible. In fact, tonight the CDC is reporting omicron is now the most common variant in the U.S. accounting for about 73 of new COVID cases. Look at this chart the CDC put out tracking the variance. The orange color is Delta. It is the dominant strain for the beginning of the chart which is September 18th onwards. It accounts for basically all the cases.

That continues all the way until this weekend when boom, on December 18th, that switches to omicron in purple. The world health organization says that in areas of community spread, cases of Omicron, crime are doubling in 1.5 to three days which is just an astonishing rate. On top of that, both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines without boosters appear to be less effective against the fast-spreading variant. Though, we should note, more effective than nothing.

On the other hand, there is also some real-world data that`s encouraging early data out of South Africa shows that so far COVID hospitalizations are lower in the Omicron wave than in previous waves. And while researchers say it`s too early to make any pronouncements about how deadly this variant is, so far it looks like even though omicron cases are spiking, hospitalizations do not appear to have followed. Yes it still is very early.

But take a look in New York City where an Omicron surge is building rapidly. So far, weekly hospitalizations among vaccinated people, the orange line you see there, are still relatively flat which is a good sign. So, on the one hand, early lab research on Omicron suggested could be unprecedentedly destructive, certainly a more transmissible.

On the other hand, the early real-world data we have out of South Africa as well as now a little bit out of Denmark and the U.K. does not seem to bear that out which offers some real cause for optimism instead. So, how do we square those two conflicting ideas?

Dr. Dave Chokshi is the commissioner of New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and he joins me now. It`s great to have you, Dr. Chokshi. And you`ve got quite a task on your hands. First of all, what data are you looking at in your perch as the head of public health in New York City to understand what this variant is doing?

DR. DAVE CHOKSHI, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE: Thanks so much for having me, Chris. And yes, we`re following data not just day by day but often multiple times a day. The key is our epidemiologic data following our numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. But we`re also following our vaccination numbers very closely as well as the proportion of cases that are estimated to be Omicron which right now in the New York City area is about 92 percent.

HAYES: 92 percent. You know, it`s interesting you said that because starting about a week ago, something has started happening in New York which is that everyone started getting COVID. I mean, I had never seen anything like it having reported through and lived through the pandemic multiple times. It was clear that like something new was afoot.

What does it say to you about the rapidity of transmission and what it -- what are your observations or what does the data suggest about people -- most of the people I know, all the people I know have gotten it have breakthrough cases, have either been vaccinated and boosted or vaccinated.

CHOKSHI: Well, the way I break it down is we have to look at exposure, infection, and disease. When it comes to an exposure to the coronavirus turning into an infection, Omicron is the fastest, fittest, and most formidable version of the virus that we`ve seen. And so, we have to take steps to try to prevent that from happening.

These are the layered precautions that you`ve heard us talk about like masking and distancing and better ventilation, you know, for almost two years now. We also do have to look at weakening the link between infection and disease. And that`s where vaccines are vitally important and will remain so even in the Omicron era.

It does mean that getting as many people fully vaccinated as possible as we have done aggressively in New York City -- over 71 percent of all New York City residents are now fully vaccinated. That is critically important. And we`re now layering on booster doses to add yet more protection.

HAYES: Yes. I want to put up the data because New York City is an interesting case study. 71 percent fully vaccinated across all age groups, another 8.2 partially vaccinated, so that`s you know almost 80 percent of the city, at least partially vaccinated. It`s a place that has high levels of antibodies from previous infection, obviously, because it took the worst -- one of the worst outbreaks in the entire world in the first wave back in the spring of 2020.

[20:45:04]

And I guess the big thing that everyone is going to look to in this city is with a city of vaccination rate this high and Omicron completely dominant, what does it do on several illness? What happens to hospitalizations? Because that`s going to be an indicator I think for what phase the pandemic we`re in and what it means for the rest of the country is this -- they can expect similar outbreaks.

CHOKSHI: That is the critical question. And I`ll start by saying, you know, we feel a lot of humility. You know, I this is my fourth wave in New York City. We have lived through it, we have responded to it as public health leaders, and so my approach is one of great humility which means we`re not going to take anything for granted.

And we are preparing for hospitalizations to increase. I expect that they will, you know, despite those very high levels of vaccination that we have described. But I also want to emphasize, you know, we`re not -- we`re not powerless against this. We have a lot of agency. We just have to bring to bear all of the tools.

You know, some of the ones that I`ve mentioned, starting with vaccination, including booster doses, we`re emphasizing higher quality masks like KN95s, KF94s, or N95s ventilation which can be as simple as moving things outdoors or cracking open a window or a door as well as testing. We`ve got to bring to bear all of these layers in concert and we can help to blunt the impact of Omicron.

HAYES: We should say the New York City operates a number of public testing sites. A number of public vaccination sites has been announced plans to send ventilator masks, N95 to folks as well as free rapid tests. So, you know, the city public health infrastructure is stronger than almost anywhere else in the country.

The big question -- your point about humility here is, you know, where are we now on the fourth wave? Like, you`re saying we have more tools. I think people feel that but there`s also this like pit of the stomach feeling of like well this got canceled and that got canceled and these three people I know have COVID.

CHOKSHI: Yes. Well, look, especially in New York City, you know everyone is feeling traumatic echoes of that first wave. Those memories will be seared in my brain, you know, until the end of days for me, and no one wants to go back to that. But we do have to realize that we are in a different place. First and foremost, because of vaccination, but because of all of those other, you know, layered approaches to safety. I`m really proud of the ways in which New York City has brought that into communities. You know, actually meeting people where they are in neighborhoods to provide them with the resources that they need.

And that`s what we`ll have to do to weather what will be a challenging few weeks and particularly to save lives and prevent suffering. And I do think that we uh we can do that despite the challenges that Omicron brings.

HAYES: Crack a window at your gatherings. Crack a few windows, get that booster, rapid test before you get together. That`s my own personal advice to people. Dr. Dave Chokshi, thank you very much.

CHOKSHI: Thanks for having me, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, what was really behind Joe Manchin`s decision to just unilaterally torpedo the Biden agenda apparently or maybe not. The path forward next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:50:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): This is a mammoth piece of legislation and I have my reservations from the beginning. And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can`t. I`ve tried everything humanly possible. I can`t get there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: This weekend, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia went on Fox News to declare his opposition to the President`s signature domestic climate and social safety net bill known as a Build Back Better. It`s unclear if that means game over. One immediate result of his opposition will be on the expanded child tax credit. We`ve covered it a lot on the show.

More than 35 million families including I think 92 percent of households with kids in West Virginia started getting those payments back in July. It cut the child poverty rate in this country by about a quarter in just its first month according to researchers. That program will come to an end if lawmakers do not come up with a solution in just over a week.

There`s more and more evidence that the expansion of the child tax credit is the thing that Manchin actually really wants to get rid of. Two sources tell HuffPost that Joe Manchin who drives a Maserati and well, lives on a yacht, calls it a houseboat, privately told colleagues he thought parents in West Virginia and other places would "waste the payments on drugs instead of providing for their children that Americans would fraudulently use the proposed sick leave policy to go on hunting trips."

This sentiment is not just held by Joe Manchin. In fact, a lot of voters feel that way too. In fact, it`s at the core of why the American social safety net looks the tattered way it does. Joining me now, David Plouffe, President Barack Obama`s 2008 campaign manager, senior advisor, and Heather McGhee board chair at Color of Change, a progressive non-profit civil rights advocacy organization, author of The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.

And Heather, when I saw that HuffPost reporting, I thought of you immediately because your whole book is about this sort of the racialized suspicion that someone somewhere is going to get away with something they`re going to get some benefit ends up costing all of us. You call it dream pool politics.

And in this case, it just seems so apparent. Like, the thing that Joe Manchin is worried about. And this is not public. Like, privately telling other lawmakers that someone somewhere is going to buy drugs or fake sickness, so no one can have this.

HEATHER MCGHEE, BOARD CHAIR, COLOR OF CHANGE: That`s right. Even though we know that there are benefits to everyone, there are benefits that are spillover effects beyond just the affected families which is as you said, 92 percent of the families in West Virginia, vast majority of them white, and this is a benefit particularly the child tax credit that goes way up the income scale. This is something that is just a recognition that it`s expensive to raise a child and that it every other one of our peer industrialized nations do much more in terms of helping families do well and thrive.

[20:55:33]

And the thing is this is not over. And that`s the one thing I want to say, Chris, that`s so important is that I`m hearing from advocates that they`re going to ignite right after the holidays and make sure that everybody in Washington understands that this once in a lifetime shot for America`s future.

It`s not just -- I mean, obviously it`s for families and children, all of the different provisions. It`s for the climate. But it`s really about whether this country is going to survive and thrive and be competitive in the future. And that`s why so many of the wall street ratings agencies and investment banks downgraded our outlook if we don`t take care of stewarding our house, right, if we don`t refill the pool of public goods for everyone and stop having these somewhat racialized, degrading attacks on government, torpedo economic prosperity for us all.

HAYES: Yes. To fact check there, a bunch of like, investment banks and Goldman Sachs, Moodys were like, we`re down -- we`re rising downward. Our GDP projection for next year to everyone, Wall Street, everyone, because Manchin just maybe killed this thing. Like, that was the tangible effect which to me was like man,you couldn`t write a better headline, David.

And I think part of what`s so maddening about watching this play out, and I agree with Heather, it`s not over, we`re going to talk about that in a sec, is you know, people always saying the Democrats like, you guys need to get away with these culture -- you need to get away from fighting these culture-war wedge issues. And they`re mad at activists who said defund the police and yadda, yadda.

And this was like, this whole bill was like, here`s some meat and potato stuff, OK. Wherever you are, we`re going to give you some money to raise your kids. We`re going to help you hire someone to take care of your senior citizens who need elder care, here`s some day care. Like, here`s some good investments in clean jobs. It was -- the whole theory of it was let`s do some meat and potato stuff that`s popular. And it`s polling at 68 percent in West Virginia. Like, it worked at some level. Even that were not enough for Joe Manchin.

DAVID PLOUFFE, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER, 2008 OBAMA CAMPAIGN: Yes. Well, Chris, if we were talking on HBO, I could tell you what I`d really think about this. But I`ll tell you the question and just picking up on what Heather said is where do you go from here?

Having worked in the West Wing I can tell you, when you work in that building, it`s as far from an Aaron Sorkin episode as you can imagine. You know, every day is hard, it`s terrible. There are setbacks. There are things you`re not expecting. So, the question now I think in the weeks ahead, as furious as a lot of us are, is do we focus on how do we hurt Joe Manchin or do we focus on how do we help tens of millions of Americans and the plan.

And I really do believe there`s going to be an opportunity, you know, later than we like but on a child care tax credit, ACA subsidies, maybe prescription drug reform, and a huge uh investment in climate in addition to then voting rights. So, listen, if by the end of January or mid-February able to say OK, we came back and got a lot of what was in the original Build Back Better -- not all -- and we`re able to secure our democracy, I think we`re going to be in a much different place than we are today.

So, that`s where the focus has to go. And I know how frustrating that is, but you can either basically say it`s done. And let`s remind people, I hope with all of my heart this doesn`t happen. But the Democrats could lose control, and as bad as the Senate map is in `24, for a while. So, this is your opportunity to help as many people as you -- as you can.

HAYES: I totally agree with you. I think Heather agrees too. I mean, the point is that like, no one can hurt Joe -- like Joe Manchin, he`s got his house, he`s got some Maserati, he`s got a coal brokerage, he`s a U.S. senator, he won at a Trump plus-35 state. Like, he`s -- Joe Manchin is going to be Joe Manchin.

Which brings me the next point, Heather, which is like this reporting from Jeff Stein and Tyler Pager at the Washington Post basically saying like, Manchio proposed a $1.8 trillion package to the White House. It didn`t have the child tax credit because he apparently really does not -- like, he affirmatively doesn`t like that.

But at this point, my feeling is like, OK fine. The way to call the bluff is literally give him the pen. You write the bill. And like, if that`s what it takes to get 50, that`s what it takes, right? Like -- or -- because saying it`s over essentially gets everyone off the hook including Joe Manchin and Sinema. If you say, OK, fine, it`s over like, then they`re chilling.

MCGHEE: I think you`re right that if Joe Manchin has a vision of what he wants, I mean again it`s just so hard to just complete that sentence, right? This one billionaire from a very small state gets to say what the entire country should have and families struggling all over the country should and shouldn`t have based on these outdated ideas of what it is that parents spend money on, right?

There`s actual data about what parents are spending their child tax credits on. Don`t worry. He doesn`t have to look that up. He can just have his sort of racialized you know, classist impressions. But anyway, sorry, I just had a hard time even getting that sentence out of Joe Manchin once.

But nonetheless, the question is are we having and a country that can be competitive because families have what they need. And that`s the choice in front of Joe Manchin and all the rest of the Democratic Party has to say about the answer to that question.

HAYES: David Plouffe, Heather McGhee, thank you both.

That is ALL IN on this Monday night. The Rachel Maddow show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.