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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 12/22/21

Guests: Pete Aguilar, Olivia Beavers, Ryan Goodman, Eric Topol, Craig Spencer, Michael Bennet


The House Select Committee investigating January 6 has asked Rep. Jim Jordan, one of former President Donald Trump`s top congressional allies, to voluntarily meet with the panel as it zeroes in on Republican lawmakers who may have significant knowledge of events leading up to the US Capitol attack. There`s a new potential explanation identified by the online forum Just Security on the delayed response of the National Guard during the January 6 riot. The FDA authorizes the first pill to treat COVID-19. U.S. Army develops a vaccine to treat all COVID variants. The Senate has already officially left Washington for the end of the year, leaving a whole pile of legislative priorities on the table for 2022.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Meanwhile, our country`s leaders and continuing to show their inability to do anything to stop this takeover are tonight`s absolute worst. And that`s tonight`s "REIDOUT." ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN. The January 6th Committee wants to know what Jim Jordan knows.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I just don`t know. I`d have to go back -- I mean, I don`t -- I don`t know that -- when those conversations happened.

HAYES: Tonight, the formal request to speak to Jim Jordan and why their inquiry goes beyond conversations with Trump on January 6th.

Plus, new reporting on why the Pentagon held back the National Guard during the insurrection. Then, good news whether you take the pandemic seriously or not.

BRIAN KILMEADE, CO-HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: We`re the therapeutics of that mono -- monocolonial -- the treatment therapy --

AINSLEY EARHARDT, CO-HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: The monoclonal antibody, yes.

KILMEADE: Yes, the antibodies there`s only one that`s still working out.

HAYES: Tonight, the optimistic new research about Omicron and why the FDA approval of a therapeutic pill could be a game-changer. And more unequivocally good news about presents under the tree.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As the New York Times did today, Christmas gifts are arriving on time this year. Good news. We`ve saved Christmas.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Back in July, when the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi was assembling the select committee that would investigate the January 6 attack on our democracy, you may recall House Republicans led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made a pretty big deal about the makeup of the committee.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Speaker Pelosi has taken the unprecedented step of denying the minority party`s picks for the Select Committee on January 6. This represents something that has not happened in the House before for a select committee by the historian. It`s an egregious abuse of power. Pelosi has broken this institution.


HAYES: Now, McCarthy`s strategy was pretty obvious at the time. He was trying to stack the committee with Trump allies who would do everything in their power to disrupt the investigation they all proclaimed to be illegitimate. And the loudest of them, of course, the person who would run point on that would be Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Now, Speaker Pelosi rejected Jordan`s appointment to the committee precipitating that a speech by Kevin McCarthy. And the reason she did was because, among other reasons, there were concerns that Jordan and other Republicans should not be part of the committee investigating an incident in which they could potentially be witnesses or worse. Well, what do you know?

Today, the bipartisan select committee investigating January 6 sent a letter to Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio requesting he voluntarily meet with investigators to discuss his role in the events of January 6. Notably, like the letter that was sent to Scott Perry, another House Republican, this is not a subpoena. It`s basically hey, you`re a member of the House, we`re doing House business here, come talk to us.

But the committee is nonetheless requesting testimony from Jordan who as previous reporting has indicated was integral to the Congressional strategy for Trump`s attempted coup. In the letter to Congressman Jordan, the Committee says, "We understand that you had at least one and possibly multiple communications with President Trump on January 6th. We would like to discuss each such communication with you in detail.

Congressman Jordan freely admits that he spoke to Donald Trump on the day of the insurrection, but he gets a little well squirmy when you try and pin him down on exactly when.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you speak with President Trump on January 6th?

JORDAN: Yes. I mean, I speak -- I spoke with the President last week. I speak with the President all the time. I spoke with him on January 6. I mean, I talk with President Trump all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On January 6, did you speak with him before, during, or after the Capitol was attacked?

JORDAN: I`d have to go -- I spoke with him that day after, I think after. I don`t know if I spoke with him in the morning or not. I just don`t know. I`d have to go back and -- I mean, I don`t -- I don`t know that -- when those conversations happened.

REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA): When did you speak former President on January 6? Did you talk to the President before, during, or after the attack on the Capitol?

JORDAN: Of course -- of course I`ve talked to the president -- of course I`ve talked to the president. I`ve been clear about that. I talked to him all the time. This is not about me, Mr. Chairman.


HAYES: I think so would you tell Jim Jordan that I talk to him all the time line isn`t doing the work that he thinks it`s doing. Now, again, Kevin McCarthy tried to make that guy part of the investigation into what happened on January 6th and the lead-up to it. But in its letter to the congressman, the committee points out that Jim Jordan`s involvement, of course, extends way beyond whatever conversations he had with Trump on the six, before, or after, during.

He was a crucial player in planning the coup attempt that led to the insurrection in the first place. "We also must learn about the activities that led to the attack on January 6th. Public reporting suggests you may also have information about meetings with white house officials and the then-president about strategies for overturning the results of the 2020 election.


HAYES: To be honest, the committee is almost underselling Jordan`s involvement here. As New York Times reports, two days after the AP called the election for Joe Biden, Jordan huddled with top Trump staff at campaign headquarters and "The group settled on a strategy that would become a blueprint for Mr. Trump`s supporters in Congress. Hammer home the idea of the election was tainted, announce legal actions being taken by the campaign and bolstered the case with allegations of fraud." That`s exactly what they did.

None of it quite worked of course except the so doubt and legitimacy of a free and fair election, something Jordan seemed eager to go along with. Weeks later, in December of last year, he doubled down, told Trump not to concede, telling a reporter, "We should still try to figure out exactly what took place here. As I said, that includes I think debates on the House floor potentially on January 6. Jordan meant what he said.

On January 5th, we now know he forwarded a text message to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows encouraging Vice President Pence to just overturn the election single-handedly, throw out the will of the voters, and essentially pave the wall -- way to install Trump as the winner.

On the day itself, January 6, Meadows is one of -- Jordan was one of 147 members of Congress who voted not to seat the electors. That`s not all. The Committee also wants to know if Jordan worked to dangle pardons for fellow coup plotters. We would also like to ask you about any discussions about the possibility of presidential pardons for individuals involved in any aspect of January 6 or the planning of January 6.

Joining me now, a member of the January 6 Committee, Congressman Pete Aguilar of California. Congressman, why do you want to talk to Jim Jordan?

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Well, as the letter from Chairman Thompson indicated, we want --- we feel that the information that he has in his possession can shed some light on exactly what happened and what transpired on January 5th and January 6. That`s the basis of it.

And for someone who publicly said that he has nothing to hide, it seems fairly clear to any American watching that someone who is dedicate -- truly dedicated to democracy and our institutions and of Congress, he should be willing to come forward and have a conversation with his colleagues about what he knows.

HAYES: Yes. Scott Perry has already said that he won`t -- he won`t cooperate with this. Jordan was asked about this today on Fox. And I want to play you what he had to say and get your -- get your response.


KILMEADE: What will your reaction be? Will it be the same as Mark Meadows, take a walk, or would you sit down and speak to them?

JORDAN: I mean, we just got the letter today, Brian. We`re going to review the letter. But I got to be honest with you. I got real concerns about any committee that will take a document and alter it and present it to the American people, completely mislead the American people like they did last week.


HAYES: I think that`s a reference into the -- into the text that he sent to Mark Meadows because it didn`t have like the full citation and it wasn`t noted that it was a forwarded text. I don`t know. He seems to be upset about that. What do you make of his reaction?

AGUILAR: Quite the stretch for missing a period at the end of a sentence. So, that`s -- it`s unfortunate. But look, I mean, that`s what we`ve seen from some of these individuals who are close to the former president is they`re going to look at every way to uh delay and avoid and evade the committee`s work.

And that`s exactly why uh someone like Mr. Jordan isn`t fit to serve in this body uh with us in this investigation. And so, it`s important. Look, we`re going to try to get our work. We`re going to appeal to him as a colleague to come before us truly, if he has nothing to hide. And from that interview that you played before, clearly there he knows more and he was talking about we`re going back and checking, but he didn`t say that because he knows that there`s ways to go back and check how many conversations were had.

So, we`re going to ask for his -- we`re going to appeal to him as a colleague, but we`ll await his formal response to us.

HAYES: I mean, part of what we`re seeing here unfold between Scott Perry I think yesterday and Jim Jordan today is that, you know, it`s just a matter of public record independent of whatever fact-finding your committee has done. It`s a matter of public record that a number of members of Congress in the House Republican Caucus actively coordinated with the White House on a strategy to prevent the rightful seating of the person that won the election, Joe Biden, and to keep the person who lost the election as president over the will of the American people.

That`s just a fact that we all know. It`s a matter of public record. And there`s no way to do an investigation of January 6. It`s not going to start to brush up a bunch -- against a bunch of your colleagues.


AGUILAR: Well, and we`ve been very clear that we`re going to follow every lead wherever it goes. That`s why as early as August, the chairman sent letters, preservation letters to telecom companies. That included people close to the president. It included members of Congress. We publicly noticed that and let people know that.

But -- because we wanted folks to know that we weren`t going to be deterred by this. And so, nothing so far has surprised us. We`ll continue to work through the game plan. But clearly the premise still holds that some of these individuals were coordinating with the white house on a pressure campaign to overturn uh the election. And so, we`re appealing to our colleagues here to shed some light on that.

HAYES: In the absence of cooperation, can you envision a situation in which Jordan and or Scott Perry would be subpoenaed?

AGUILAR: Well, we`re not there yet, but we do have other tools. We haven`t been shy about using those tools in other cases. And so, we`re going to await the response from our colleague here, and then the chair will huddle with the committee and we`ll chart a path forward. But it`s also important to note that over 300 people have been interviewed, some that we noticed publicly, I think over 40 that we noticed publicly, many conversations are happening quietly, and we would prefer that to gather information uh to review and to continue to chase these investigative leads.

We`re going to continue to do that work, you know, out of the public realm. And we`re going to -- we`re going to have success doing that. But we`re not going to be deterred for investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Our mission and our focus is to get to the truth and Chairman Thompson has been charting a path to get us there.

HAYES: All right, Congressman Pete Aguilar, thank you very much.

AGUILAR: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: For more on Jim Jordan, I`m joined by Olivia Beavers, congressional reporter at Politico. If nothing else, Olivia, this highlights what a mess it would have been if Jordan was sitting on the committee.

OLIVIA BEAVERS, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes. And you know, you sort of talked about it earlier. We are approaching a point that we sort of knew was inevitable which is if the January 6 committee wanted to do what it has always talked about doing which is going through exactly what happened that day, who Donald Trump was speaking to, including members of the House, that means that at one point these members on the committee would be trying to get their own colleagues to testify before them.

And you were just trying to get Congressman Aguilera to say it right there. Does the committee choose to subpoena them? We`re entering into a sort of murky unprecedented position of do they want to take that step or do they try to censor or, you know, refer them to the ethics committee.

And one thing to think -- keep in mind is that Congressman Jim Jordan will potentially be and is poised to be the next chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, so he will also likely use those tools for reasons that are completely unrelated to January 6 for whatever is in the interest of the House Republicans that they want to use politically or whatever and try to subpoena Democrats.

So, you know, that`s something that I`m sure is in the back of their mind as they`re weighing whether they do take that step to subpoena Jim Jordan. And he`s key, as you highlighted earlier, to kind of figuring out what happened on January 6.

HAYES: Yes, I mean, when you talk about unprecedented, there`s so much that`s unprecedented here. Obviously, you know, the actual event that happened on January 6, the sort of resistance to a peaceful transfer of power as embodied by the incumbent and defeated president which we`ve never seen anything quite like that. But there`s also like -- you know, Watergate -- obviously, Nixon had his -- he had his allies in Congress.

But it`s not like they were like plotting with him. I mean, he kept that pretty much -- you know, they kept that in the White House. Like, again, like I just said to Congressman Aguilar, it is simply a matter of public record. There were sympathetic collaborators in this scheme both quite publicly and behind the scenes in the House Republican Caucus. I mean, after the attack, the majority of the caucus comes in and votes not to seat the electors. So, like, there`s no way to do this investigation that`s not going to put them squarely in the middle.

BEAVERS: Well, you know, it`s going to be interesting. And one thing that we highlighted earlier when I actually was on your show a couple of months ago, was that we know that Jim Jordan didn`t have just one phone call. He admitted to me that he had multiple phone calls. And one source told me that he was urging Trump to tell his followers to stand down which seems to fall in line with some of the text messages and other documents that Liz Cheney and the committee were reading off.

So, you do know that he was involved in various different steps of the way even though he still won`t say when that phone call happened. So, it`s going to be interesting to kind of keep pulling up these threads. And yes, it is unprecedented the area that we`re in. And so, it`s going to be interesting to see how the committee moves forward.


HAYES: Yes. Just to play another exchange from that rules committee back and forth between the chair Jim McGovern and Jordan on that -- on that question where Jordan confirms at the very least he talk to him after the attack. Take a listen.


MCGOVERN: Did you talk to the president -- former president before, during, or after the attack on the Capitol or was it all three? The reason I ask is that, you know, you had 84 days since you said you couldn`t remember and you would check. So, if you could just clarify the record. Was it before, during, or after the attack on --

JORDAN: I talked to the president after the attack.

MCGOVERN: So, not before or during.

JORDAN: Right.


HAYES: Yes. I mean, that -- it`s not clear whether that`s true. I mean, that`s what he says. But it`s also -- it`s also interesting to imagine, you know, the sort of embarrassment he`s seeking to avoid is that it coming out that he called the president and told him like, please call off the mob that is threatening all of us as many people were doing at that time.

BEAVERS: Yes. I don`t -- what didn`t make sense to me about that point is why would you be calling the President asking him to tell his mob to stand down if the attack was already over.

HAYES: Right.

BEAVERS: So, that`s something that I haven`t been able to square is the point that he`s making, if he`s made multiple phone calls, you know, he`s also not saying that a phone call didn`t happen when rioters were trying to reach the Capitol and stop the election from being certified.

HAYES: All right, Olivia Beavers, thank you so much for your time.

BEAVERS: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Up next, an intriguing explanation for one of the biggest mysteries of January 6, why the Pentagon took so long to send in the National Guard. We`re military officials actually trying to stop a full Trump coup by keeping troops away from the insurrection. That`s next.



HAYES: Three hours and 29 minutes. That`s how long it took on January 6 from the moment rioters breached the Capitol to the moment the National Guard finally arrived. In that three hours and 29 minutes, lawmakers and Congressional staff barricaded themselves on chamber floors and offices as rioters ran through the Capitol. And police fought to prevent more insurrectionists from breaching the building.

Exactly why the national guard wasn`t deployed earlier despite increasingly desperate requests from the Capitol Police is one of the big questions about January 6th. And now, there`s a new potential explanation identified by the online forum Just Security, the "senior military officials constrained the mobilization deployment of the National Guard to avoid injecting federal troops that could have been remissioned by the president to advance his attempt to hold on to power.

One of the co-authors behind that extraordinary piece is Ryan Goodman, founding co-editor-in-chief of Just Security, professor in New York University School of Law and he joins me now. Ryan, I found this piece really illuminating. Let`s start with just like the problem to solve for here. It just was very clear both during the day as we were watching and in the aftermath that something has gone catastrophically wrong when the seat of the U.S. government could come under attack, violent attack for three and a half hours and there are no reinforcements, there is no essential backup from the National Guard to protect it.

The question is why did that happen? What is the official explanation for it?

RYAN GOODMAN, FOUNDING CO-EDITOR IN CHIEF, JUST SECURITY: So, the official explanation is that the Department of Defense was actually operating with great dispatch. But it takes bureaucratic procedures in order for them to determine what will be the concept of operation before they will authorize the deployment. And they first had to mobilize the forces and -- but they were acting with alacrity is the official line. And it just -- you know, things take time is the way in which they`ve tried to describe what happened.

HAYES: And yet you`ve got folks -- you`ve got for instance the whistleblower who`s the general counsel for the D.C. National Guard saying it`s ridiculous that the notion that the official story is true and that there wasn`t concern about optics. You basically are positing another theory which I find compelling which is what?

GOODMAN: So, the evidence points to our account which is that the senior leaders of the Defense Department were very concerned that if they sent the D.C. National Guard into the Capitol, that at the stroke of a tweet essentially, the president could just say I remission them and now they`re at my disposal, and he could invoke the Insurrection Act. And they in fact admitted that when interviewed by the DOD`s inspector general that that was an operative concern that they had going into January 6.

HAYES: Yes, this is something Chris Miller said to the Inspector General at DOD. I knew if the morning of six or prior if we put U.S. military personnel on the Capitol, I would have created the greatest constitutional crisis probably since the Civil War which is an incredibly chilling thing to say because the question is well, why. And it seems that that`s the concern, right?

GOODMAN: That`s right. That`s not about optics which is public perception. He`s saying something much more dramatic. And in his congressional testimony, he actually says I was cognizant of the fear that the president would invoke the Insurrection Act for political purposes. And based on that fear and concern, it factored into why I constrained the National Guard.

So, he`s admitted quite a bit of it. And if you piece it all together, it seems to line up with the facts that really did happen that day which as you say there`s no good explanation. We need an explanation for why it took the guard over three hours to even get there.

HAYES: Right. So, the idea is the highest levels of leadership at the Department of Defense are concerned that if the National Guard is brought in to back up the Capitol Police and MPD who are there being set upon by the mob, the President is ultimately their commander and can say the new mission is you must clear the Capitol of everyone, we`re not doing the electoral stuff today, everyone go home. And then you have something that we`ve never encountered before.

GOODMAN: That`s right. It`s a constitutional coup. And that`s exactly what he could do. He could say, we`re locking everything down. We have to lock it down until we figure out what`s going on here, right? And that`s -- that was the goal. We know that`s the goal. He wanted to delay the certification at a minimum so he could have tried to effectuate it that very way.


HAYES: And in fact, all different players in this are understanding that. Ruben Gallego, you know, is on the record saying that he told his, you know, fellow members of Congress, look, like, don`t get on the buses and leave because that`s how a coup happens. We know that Mike Pence essentially refused to leave the building.

And I think all of those different folks, DOD, Mike Pence, Ruben Gallego, all these people understand the president of the United States wants to stop the transfer of power. And if he can get everyone out of the building, then maybe he can do it.

GOODMAN: That`s right. And that`s why you even have on the phone Mitch McConnell with the Secretary of Defense later in the day saying we need this cleared, we are getting back to work so that everybody can continue to perform their duties and transfer power to the next president.

HAYES: Ryan Goodman who did some great work, you can check it out over at Just Security, thank you very much.

GOODMAN: Thank you.

HAYES: Ahead, something we don`t get to talk about nearly enough. But tonight, there`s actually some good news on the COVID pandemic front. Promising data on Omicron, what it means for your holiday plans, next.



HAYES: Right now, many of you are probably in the midst of some holiday preparations whether that`s traveling or hosting a gathering or still figuring out what you`re going to do. It`s a good time to take stock of where we are. You know, six or eight weeks ago, things were looking not so bright for this holiday season. COVID cases were rising again, that Delta wave that had been in the sort of south in the summer coming to the northeast in the fall, across the country.

We were also looking at the supply chain crisis, gas prices were spiking. A lot of reasons for concern as many Americans were hoping to get their lives back to some semblance of normal particularly going into winter which was really brutal last year, and more than a year and a half into the pandemic.

And then of course came the Omicron variant driving a crazy, truly astounding rise in cases that is unlike anything we have seen since the very beginning the pandemic and even maybe more than that. I mean, take a look at this graph of daily cases in Washington D.C. It`s almost comical. The line goes straight up practically at a right angle.

So, a lot of people have been feeling like oh, my gosh, again? So, tonight, I have a rare opportunity to deliver a bevy of good news that has come in over the last 24 hours. First of all, as you probably noticed, the supply and shame crisis has really unwound. What was genuine concern mixed with lots of heavy breathing about the store shelves being empty on Christmas and Joe Biden`s America never came to pass.

New York Times headline today Why Christmas Gifts are Arriving on Time This Year? Fears of the disrupted supply chain could wreak havoc on the logistics industry over the holiday turned out to be wrong as many Americans ordered early and shopped in stores.

Now, the supply chain issues were real. They were not a completely imagined problem at all. The Biden administration made a plan to address it. I wasn`t convinced it would work but it appears to have. I mean good luck and effort together, good result, that`s great news.

There`s also encouraging news about the omicron variant and what it means for all of our lives. There`s a lot we still don`t know about this strain, the one that was just identified in South Africa a few weeks ago, about a month ago.

A new study from South Africa`s National Institute of Communicable Diseases found that people diagnosed with Omicron were 80 percent less likely to be hospitalized than those with another variant. Researchers in the United Kingdom have found a similar trend. They have data out of Scotland showing that people with Omicron variant were 60 less likely to be hospitalized than those with Delta.

Now, I want to be clear here. We don`t actually know for sure what the causal mechanism is here, why that`s the case. It`s possible that Omicron is looking less severe because of the combination of vaccines and natural immunity in the general population at this point from previous infection. But we do have real-world data and the real-world data thus far is relatively promising about the severity of illness.

We`re also starting to get data about Omicron right here in New York where we had one of the worst outbreaks in the entire world, of course, in the spring of 2020. New Yorkers have a lot of traumatic memories from that. It safe to say that almost everyone was touched by it. The situation in our hospitals was incredibly dire. Many people lost loved ones.

So, as Omicron began to hit the city, there was a lot of fear we were in a repeat of March 2020. And again, you get that straight line up. Now, New York is probably about two to three weeks into this massive wave of cases brought on by Omicron. You can see the practically vertical line there on the right.

But in a city with nearly 80 percent of all residents receiving at least one dose of the vaccine, hospitalizations are not spiking as badly as you might anticipate. I mean, they`re nudging up. Today, the head of New York City Health and Hospitals Mitch Katz shared more -- Mitch Katz shared more stark data showing the difference between now and March of last year.


MITCH KATZ, HEAD, NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITALS: The 11 hospitals of health and hospital currently have 54 patients in our ICUs due to COVID. That`s compared to the peak in March 2020 where we had 970. And the 54 is compared to the lowest we got to which was around 20 a few weeks ago. So, very, very slight increases in the sickest of patients.


HAYES: So, 54 ICU patients in that public hospital system now versus 970 in March of 2020. That`s an apples-to-apples comparison, folks in the ICU with COVID. So, that`s nearly 20 times less. Now, again, we`re a few weeks into this. We don`t know where it`s going to go. But that`s what we`re talking about we say we are in a different place now, and thank god that we are.


Now, you may have heard about the biggest and possibly best news of the day which is the Food and Drug Administration just approved, the first at-home pill treatment for COVID for people ages 12 and up at high risk for severe disease. It`s an antiviral drug. It`s made by Pfizer. It`s called Paxlavid. It appears to be very effective.

A study more than two thousand high-risk people found the drug reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by nearly 89 percent when taken within three days of the onset of symptoms. In fact, the drug performed so well that Pfizer actually stopped that study moving to get it approved and out of the public as quickly as possible.

As Wall Street Journal notes, that usually happens if an experimental drug is found to be so effective it would be unethical to continue the study including subjects who received the placebo. Pfizer had tens of thousands of pill packs ready and waiting to be distributed for their Memphis warehouse upon approval from the FDA. It`s a five-day regimen two pills per day taken along with a generic antiviral.

Pfizer says they will have 180,000 courses ready by the end of the year. That will likely not be enough to meet demand in the immediate future. Production will ramp up into the next year. U.S. government already has a contract to buy 10 million doses which could be a real game-changer along with vaccination and rapid testing at scale to create the future of the new normal.

And on top of that, some more great news out of the blue. Get this. U.S. Army scientists at Walter Reed have developed a vaccine that works on COVID-19 and all of the SARS coronavirus variants. This is the strain of viruses that has caused problems for 20 years, I mean very huge disruptive outbreaks from SARS to MERS, to COVID-19. The vaccine has just completed phase one trials with positive results. It`s a really, really big deal, enormously encouraging. Go Army researchers.

Now, the experience of the pandemic has been so insane, incredibly traumatic for a lot of people a lot of ways. It`s the largest mass casualty event of our lives. It`s not nearly two years off American life expectancy. You can see that traumatic -- dramatic drop in this chart. It`s been the largest disruption to American daily life since at least World War II.

Of course for all that reason, they`re justified and still being on tenterhooks about what`s going on. There`s a lot of reasons to think that in this particular moment, as we approach the holidays, the future looks better than the past.



HAYES: There`s some good reason to be hopeful right now. A data showing Omicron is resulting in less severe illness than other variants at least so far, the FDA approving the first at-home pill to treat COVID. Obviously, a lot of concern remains with Omicron now identified in all 50 states and cases just skyrocketing in the places where it`s transmitting just ahead of the holidays.

We also just got news that House Majority Whip James Clyburn has tested positive for COVID. He says he`s fully vaccinated and boosted, so far asymptomatic. He`s 81 years old. Dr. Craig Spencer is Director of Global Health and Emergency Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. He recently wrote about his concerns that Omicron will overwhelm America`s emergency rooms in The Atlantic. And Dr. Eric Topol is a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, also writer in residence at Substack where he publishes the newsletter Ground Truths.

Dr. Topol, let me -- let me start with you because you have been -- I follow you for sort of granular updates on the emerging Omicron literature. And again, a lot of this is very early. It`s pre-prints which means hasn`t gone through peer review. And we`ve got both lab studies which are looking at how the molecule works and the virus works and then we`ve also got just like, what`s happening out in the world.

It does seem an emerging theme is less severe illness even if we don`t understand the mechanism that`s producing.

DR. ERIC TOPOL, WRITER-IN-RESIDENCE, SUBSTACK: Chris, it`s great to be with you and also with Craig. I think this is a really important point you`re making. The severity of the illness is hard to gauge, but as you reviewed, there`s now data from three countries, Scotland, England, Denmark. It all looks favorable, as well as South Africa.

So, we have a lower severity which is partly from our immunity wall, but there are some hints of an intrinsic activity of the virus being less. It can`t infect lung cells as well. There`s a lot less loss of smell and taste. These are good things. So, it may be a combination. It`s largely this immunity wall which hopefully we will have enough of.

You know, some of those countries we`re comparing with as you touched on are a much better immunity wall with vaccines than we have.

HAYES: Right. Although in South Africa for example which is much -- has a lower vaccination rate than the U.S., there`s also a lot of zero prevalence there. I mean, a lot of people have had COVID. They particularly were coming off a huge Delta wave in that country. So, those combined form some sort of patchwork of immunity wall, right?

TOPOL: Exactly. Yes, for sure.

HAYES: Dr. Spencer, let me -- let me ask you -- you know, you`re -- we`ve talked to you throughout this pandemic. You`ve worked all over the world in very intense situations of viral outbreaks. You were a doctor during the Ebola crisis. You were in New York during this first wave. I mean what`s your perspective on this data, what it means -- first for New York but then let`s zoom out to what it means for the hospital systems around the -- around the country.

DR. CRAIG SPENCER, DIRECTOR, GLOBAL HEALTH AND EMERGENCY MEDICINE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Sure. Well, it`s great to be back and good to see you, Eric. Look, you know we have an immunity wall here as well in New York City right. We got hit over the head in March and April of 2020. We`ve had infections throughout we have a city that is highly vaccinated. And right now there are a lot of people freaking out. I`ve got a lot of friends, colleagues, providers that are testing positive.

But you`re right and I appreciate the positive spin that you gave in the last segment. Look, we are not in March 2020. I`m not going to work every day afraid that I`m going to get infected and lose my life or infect my family. We have treatments. We have vaccines. We have the experience and the knowledge for how to treat patients to reduce the severity.

Now, I have a lot of concerns that other places around the country may not have the same level of protection either because they haven`t seen the virus as much or they`re not as highly vaccinated. In many of those places, staff are already overworked. They`re tired, they`re exhausted, but there`s just not enough of them. And that`s why I`m worried, in addition to more healthcare workers getting sick.

Then in the coming weeks and months, despite all the positive news that you just laid out, we`re going to see a crisis in many of our healthcare institutions and their ability to cope even if the wave is smaller.

HAYES: Yes. That point is a key one because first of all there`s also -- there`s a lot of Delta in the country and that there`s a lot of hospitals - - there`s a lot of hospitalization in the country from that Delta wave that never sort of subsided, right? I mean, we had sort of one and then it sort of was moving northeast. But also you got these staffing issues. I have already started here in New York City. Like, you`ve got a lot of staff in New York City hospitals that are testing positives. You have staff constraints there.

You`re right that, you know, basically you said you can`t surge a circuit that`s been burned out. And for frontline providers there`s simply no fuse that can fix the fact that we`re fried, that there`s just a certain level of constraint and -- that that`s going to make this difficult either way even if that real world data is encouraging in terms of severity of illness.

SPENCER: Right. In March 2020, like I wrote, we were worried about ventilators. Right now, I`m worried about nurses. It is a lot harder to make a nurse than it is a ventilator. We can`t do that quickly. We can`t do it as well. And a hospital bed is just a bad without a good nurse by its side.

HAYES: Now, let`s talk about Paxlavid, Dr. Topol. This really does look encouraging and it really does seem like there`s two keys here, a testing regime that allows people to know they have covid early so that it can be taken with the onset of symptoms and a supply and mechanisms of distribution that can meet the need.

TOPOL: Right. Well, it`s more than encouraging I`d say, Chris, because in fact this is the biggest advance we`ve had since vaccines in the two years of the pandemic. Why is this so important? Because all the other things we`ve had, vaccines and monoclonal antibodies, they rely on our immune system, and this bypasses that.

Omicron is of course the challenge to our immune system and our vaccines but we don`t have to worry about that with this Paxlavid. In addition, it has a marked reduction in the viral load that we carry in our upper airway by more than 10-fold very quickly after taking the first few pills which may come in handy with what you were just talking about, you and Dr. Spencer about, health care workers. If they get sick or they get infected, they`re off for 10 days.

HAYES: Right. That is the thought of that aspect.

TOPOL: Yes. One other thing. If you can drop block hospitalizations by 89 percent and death, that`s -- and up to five days from the onset of symptoms, I mean this is really big stuff. So, I`m excited about it. I haven`t been excited about anything besides vaccines pretty much for the last couple of years.

HAYES: Yes. And Dr. Spencer, obviously, the question here which is a question that we`ve faced with vaccines as you know supply has grown but it`s still constrained is who gets this and how. And there`s a sort of internal question the United States, what to do with these doses which is like a specific and pressing bioethical question where do they go, and then a broader question which is a global equity question which is still incredibly intense on vaccines as well as the therapeutics of will the global south and billions of people who are not in the in the first world have access.

SPENCER: Like everything that we have had through this pandemic, I am concerned about equity and equity first. Domestically, it`s going to be the people with connections that are going to find a way to get these limited doses that will be rolled out in the next couple weeks. This is going to be a challenge because not everyone has four hours to stand in line here in New York City. You know, you see where people are testing positive. It`s the wealthier parts of the city, not because they have more COVID but because they have more time.

It`s going to be a problem here for the rest of the country. It`s going to be a problem internationally because we know that even if Pfizer has said that they`re going to license this so other places can, you know, have the recipe to make this, there are some restrictions in there that allow -- that don`t allow countries like Brazil, China, Turkey, Russia and others to do so. And there`s going to be fewer doses going internationally in addition to fewer vaccines and a lot fewer tests that people won`t even be able to use these medications if they can`t get that positive test in the first place.


HAYES: Yes. That point about connections, one of the most sort of morally debased moments of the -- of the pandemic is watching Trump and his inner circle all get Regeneron and then come out and say oh everyone`s going to have access to this monoclonal antibody that, you know, has cost the government $2,000 a treatment. And like, here we are a year later it`s still not happening.

Dr. Craig Spencer and Dr. Eric Topol, thank you so much.

SPENCER: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Still ahead, the fight to save one of the most popular Biden policies, the Child Tax Credit before it expires next month. One of the architects of the plan joins me next.


HAYES: The Senate has already officially left Washington for the end of the year, leaving a whole pile of legislative priorities on the table for 2022. That includes the Build Back Better Bill, President Joe Biden signature climate and social safety net plan. And that also means, this is important, the enhanced Child Tax Credit which was passed, the American Rescue Plan earlier this year in which the administration has touted as a vital tool to help middle class, working class families and also to fight child poverty. And it`s currently set to expire at the end of this year.

By mid-January, without another enhanced benefits check, as many as 10 million children could fall back into poverty. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado is one of the architects of the Child Tax Credit, and he joins me now.

Senator, this has been one of your central focuses as a U.S. Senator. I was going to say your life`s work, but that`s maybe a little overstating things. But it`s --


SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO): I will say, Chris, I ran a virtually unnoticed campaign for president on this idea.

HAYES: You know, I forgot about that. But you didn`t know I`m kidding. You did -- you did run on that. No, but in all seriousness, like you have worked so hard, and I know Sherrod Brown, and others have worked with you to have this happen. It`s been there.

First of all, what`s the takeaway just substantively, if you`re saying, OK, we ran the experiment, we tried it for a year, what is your takeaway about its success failures what you think of it?

BENNET: It`s been one of the most successful domestic policies in generations. We`ve cut childhood poverty almost in half, we`ve reduced hunger by a quarter. Just think about that for a second. We`ve reduced hunger in this country where we one of the highest child poverty rates of any industrialized country. We`re 38, out of 41. And the poorest people, the poorest generation in America are children.

And what we`ve said is this -- we don`t have to accept that as a permanent feature of our democracy, our economy, and it has worked exactly as we expected it would, which is people spending money to pay the rent, to buy groceries, and really importantly, to buy a little extra childcare so they can stay at work to support their families.

HAYES: I want to read you some reporting about your colleague Joe Manchin who I think is -- you know, it`s pretty clear, he`s not super on board with this. Of course, he voted for the American Rescue Plan that piloted this for this year, Huffington Post reporting that he has told several fellow Democrats, he thought parents who waste monthly child tax credit payments on drugs instead of providing their children, according to two sources familiar with the senator`s comments.

And I have to say that mindset is not limited to the Senator. I think there`s a lot of people who say, oh, you`re just sending checks to everyone. What are they going to do with the money?

BENNET: I think the anecdotal evidence in Colorado is people are spending it as I described it. I remember when the first checks went out, I met mom after mom and mom across the state who were saying that we were able to buy back-to-school clothes for our kids without bankrupting our families.

These are the choices by the way people are having to make when we`ve had an economy that for 50 years has worked really well for the top 10 percent and hasn`t really worked for anybody else. Finally, we have a tax cut for working people after we`ve cut taxes for the richest people in this country to the tune of $6 trillion. I can make all kinds of arguments about that -- why that`s welfare, why that`s not needed.

This is a time when kids -- when families really need the help. And that`s why we have to find a way to bridge the gap. We can`t allow January to come without continuing the enhanced child tax credit. That`s what we`re going to fight to do.

HAYES: Well, we all know there are no rich people who ever use their money to buy drugs. But in terms of --

BENNET: Well, the other thing about that -- the other thing about that, Chris, I`ve been in the Senate now for 12 years. I`ve been there in the chaos at the end of the session when rich people`s tax cuts are expiring. We never have any trouble extending those.

And here we find ourselves in this position that we`re thanks to Joe Biden and the work of Sherrod Brown and Kamala Harris and Cory Booker and others, we`ve actually got a massive tax cut for working people, and we`re going to say what. We want to raise taxes in the middle of this pandemic in double childhood poverty. It makes it`s completely irrational.

HAYES: Well, so you`ve got -- I mean, unless the lay of the land is different than I perceive it, it`s -- you got one guy to convince, and he doesn`t seem to be on board.

BENNET: Well, he`s not on board, and that guy`s my colleague, Joe Manchin. We have a difference of opinion about this. But, you know, no one in the Senate has a monopoly on wisdom. And I think that it is very clear that in other countries that have a child allowance like the child tax credit, the workforce participation rates are actually higher because it`s easier for people to stay at work when they`ve got a benefit like this because they can buy childcare. If the car breaks down, they can get it fixed.

And all I want to plead with Joe Manchin about is let`s give it a chance to actually work. We`ve only seen it for six months and the early reports are extremely positive. Let`s let it go and see whether he`s right or whether I`m wrong. And let`s try to come to an agreement on other things that I may not agree with but I`m willing to vote for in order to pass something for the benefit of the American people, which is, of course why we were all sent to Washington to begin with.

HAYES: That is going to -- that`s going to be at the top of the priority list in the New Year. I think something can be worked out here. Maybe we`ll have you back to talk about how that is. I remain hopeful that something this good is not going to be destroyed for no reason. Sen. Michael Bennet, have a great holiday. Sir, thank you.

BENNET: Thanks. Have a great holiday, Chris.

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