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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 2/15/21

Guest: Ted Lieu, Adam Jentleson, Elaina Plott, Jaime Slaughter-Acey�


On Saturday, seven Republican senators voted with the Democrats to convict Donald Trump. The final tally was 57 guilty, 43 not guilty. Democrats reverse course and drop impeachment witnesses. Rep. Ted Lieu (D- CA) is interviewed on the impeachment vote. GOP senators face repercussions for voting to convict former President Trump. President Trump could still face prosecution over the January 6th riot. Today, a bipartisan group of governors wrote a letter to the White House asking for more federal coordination with states to avoid confusion on vaccine distribution.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Daniel Neuhauser and State Senator Reynold Nesiba, thank you both for being here. That`s tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.


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

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Hang Mike Ken was the chant and they just dismissed that. Why? Because maybe they can`t get another job.

HAYES: America agrees with Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.

HAYES: Tonight, where democracy stands after Trump`s second trial, and the ongoing questions about the decision on witnesses with House Impeachment Manager Ted Lieu.

Then, he escaped the Senate, but tonight, new reporting on where the criminal investigations of Donald Trump are headed. Plus, why it feels like the insurrection never ended for state Republican parties across the country.

And as cases sloped down and vaccinations ramp up, is Joe Biden actually doing what he promised?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In 100 days, we can change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Well, history was made this weekend. There have now been four impeachments in American history. Donald Trump was the subject of half of them. And the second impeachment concluded on Saturday, and it was by far the most bipartisan impeachment ever undertaken.

You know, last year, Mitt Romney became the first senator in all of American history to vote to convict a president of his own party pursuant to an impeachment. And on Saturday, seven Republican senators voted to convict Donald Trump. The final tally was 57 guilty, 43 not guilty, the most bipartisan impeachment conviction vote in the Senate following the most bipartisan impeachment vote in the House last month.

Now, a 57-43 majority is a big majority. It`s a divided country. If you`re running for office and you win by 14 points, you have trounced the opposition. It`s not a close race. In fact, public opinion almost exactly follows the contours of that very same Senate vote. A new polling out today from ABC News and Ipso showed 58 percent of Americans say Trump should have been convicted. And get this. This is kind of uncanny. 14 percent of Republicans agree which is exactly the same portion of Senate Republicans who voted guilty.

But this is America, and when a vote to convict Donald Trump goes 57 to 43, at least in the very high bar of conviction and impeachment, it is the 43 who win the vote. The seven Republican senators who voted with all the Democratic senators to convict Trump, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, made some pretty fascinating statements about their reasoning for their votes.

Bill Cassidy posted this very forthright and concise statement on Twitter.


REP. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty.


HAYES: Lisa Murkowski released a detailed and fiery statement saying in part, "If months of lies, organizing a rally of supporters in an effort to thwart the work of Congress, encouraging a crowd to march on the Capitol, and then taking no meaningful action to stop the violence once it began is not worthy of impeachment, conviction, and disqualification from holding office in the United States, I cannot imagine what is."

But you knew the but was coming if you`ve been watching this weekend. The vast majority of Republican senators in a manifestly cowardly act of bad faith, hid behind a moot procedural question that they invented. Like, Mitch McConnell, who let`s remember, delayed the impeachment trial until Donald Trump is no longer president, at which point he said he couldn`t convict him because Donald Trump was no longer President. Thank you, Mitch.

That said, utterly absent from all of these proceedings was a single substantive defense of Trump`s actions. And even after voting to acquit the former president, Mitch McConnell took to the floor to basically say he thinks he`s guilty and should face legal consequences.


MCCONNELL: There`s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office as an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations has run -- he still liable for everything he did while he`s in office. He didn`t get away with anything yet.


HAYES: This guy -- I mean, what an amazing statement, right? Here he is Mitch McConnell facilitating no accountability for Donald Trump for four years and then says, well, he hasn`t gotten away with anything yet. Well, I wish -- I wish, Mitch, there`s someone out there that can hold them accountable.

So, at one level, in a very divided country, there is a very strong majority, both citizens and elected representatives, and bipartisan majority, right, who think the behavior of the President was monstrous as it was, that it was impeachable as it was. That Donald Trump deserves to never be allowed to serve in office again, which is true. That this was one of the most serious dereliction of duty ever by an American head of state.

But then there`s the fundamental problem we all live with, the defining feature of American political life that despite the fact that there is a vast anti-Trump majority in this country, a pro-democracy majority, that the 43 percent on the other side is resilient and durable and well-nigh intractable.

The Louisiana Republican Party has already moved to censure Senator Bill Cassidy overs vote to convict Trump. Several Pennsylvania County Republican committees have censured Pat Toomey for his vote. A local paper calls it almost certain the North Carolina Republican Party will also vote to Senator Richard Burr.

The choice presented to Republican senators on Saturday was to break with a person who incited a deadly mob to prevent a peaceful transfer of power who had a crowd there chanting hang Mike Pence. And 86 percent of the caucus chose to stand with him. And that intractability of the caucus was the question at the center of the biggest controversy in the final day of the impeachment trial whether or not to call witnesses.

Politico describes it as a quote fiasco for Democrats. The impeachment managers are debating until 3:00 a.m. Saturday how to proceed, making the final call to force a Senate vote minutes before the Senate gaveled in at 10:00 a.m. The lead impeachment manager, Jamie Raskin, explained they wanted to call just one woman witness, a Republican Congresswoman who said she had information about a call between Trump and Kevin McCarthy on January 6th, an incredibly inculpatory call in which the President taunted Kevin McCarthy as the mob breaks down his windows, right?

Well, then, unsurprisingly, the Trump legal team tried to squash that plan by claiming they would call hundreds of witnesses and depose them in person.


MICHAEL VAN DER VEEN, LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: None of these depositions should be done by Zoom. We didn`t do this hearing by Zoom. These depositions should be done in person in my office in Philadelphia. That`s where they should be done.


HAYES: He`s quite a character, the President`s lawyer there as you can see. The vote to call witnesses quickly passed, right? So Democrats won that. But then, Senate Democrats apparently successfully pressured the House managers to change course, reportedly not wanting to drag out the proceedings, believing it was not going to win them any more Republican votes.

Chris Coons of Delaware telling the managers reportedly, "The jury is ready to vote. People want to get home for Valentine`s Day." It`s not a great quote, I got to say. Witnesses or not, the results of the impeachment trial does give a very clear picture of where things stand, right? A strong robust majority of Americans and members of Congress on the side of democracy, and a large, extremely powerful intractable minority of Americans and member of Congress against it.

One of the house impeachment managers, Congressman Ted Lieu of California, joins me now. Congressman, how do you feel about that 57-43 vote? Does that -- is there a victory there? Does it feel frustrating that it was not a conviction?

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Thank you, Chris, for that question. In most contexts, 57 to 43 is a blowout. This was not close. An overwhelming majority of both the House and the Senate concluded that Donald Trump incited an insurrection. Unfortunately, a minority of some Republicans did not vote to convict and that`s where we are today.

But history will record that Donald Trump incited insurrection. There`s no question about that. And history also includes four years from now. I think this makes it really hard for Donald Trump to try to do anything politically anymore.

HAYES: Oh, Congressman, I don`t know if that`s the case, I have to say. I mean, we will see. Lots of things can happen. But let me ask about the witness question. Bluntly, is it true that House managers wanted to call witnesses and the Senate Democrats got you to back off?

LIEU: So, I`m not going to discuss internal deliberations. What I will say is, based on what Mitch McConnell has stated and other Senate Republicans, we prove our case. We showed Donald Trump has incited an insurrection, they just hung their vote on a willful misreading of their constitution.

We could have brought in Donald Trump and he could have testified that he ordered the code read and directed a violent attack, and they still would have not convicted him because of their willful misreading of the Constitution thinking they had no jurisdiction over Donald Trump.

HAYES: Right. And I actually think that`s quite persuasive. I don`t think there were -- you know, there weren`t 67 votes even if he had the, you know, I ordered the code red moment in the well of the United States Senate. But when you talk about this sort of history in the record, I mean, I think that part of the thinking here is there`s a lot we don`t know, and there`s a lot that still needs to be presented.

Now, maybe you think the impeachment, you know, trial wasn`t a vehicle for that. But it does seem that, you know, getting people under oath about the events of that day matters even more broadly than the convection. What do you say to that?

LIEU: You`re absolutely right. I fully support Speaker Pelosi`s call for a 9/11 style condition. One thing we did see is there is a problem with enforcing subpoenas. So, had we tried to, for example, subpoena any witness that was not friendly, they could have held it up in court for months or years.

HAYES: Right.

LIEU: We`re still litigating the McGahn subpoena from the very first impeachment. With the 9/11 style commission, I think we can get to the bottom of all of these facts. And they`re also going to find, by the way, that Donald Trump incited an insurrection.

HAYES: Were you at all --- I was -- I have to say, I thought McConnell`s routine was quite cowardly and a sort of classic example of him trying to have it both ways. That said, I was struck by the tone of what he said. I mean, he basically conceded you did prove your case. And he wasn`t the only one. There are others that made noises somewhat similar even that they were votes against conviction on this really lame narrow procedural question.

LIEU: What was remarkable about Senator McConnell`s speech was not only that he sounded like a House impeachment manager for the first half and then contorted himself to explain why he voted to acquit. But also, basically what he was saying is that he thinks that Donald Trump should be in prison. He is essentially saying the criminal justice system is there to hold Donald Trump accountable. That is a remarkable statement coming from the Senate Minority Leader.

HAYES: Final question for you. You know, these are strange undertakings. You know, America, we have this kind of mythos we tell ourselves about the kind of civic tradition of debate and persuasion. Oftentimes, American politics doesn`t look anything like that 99.9 percent of the time.

Here was a rare sort of situation where you go into the other body and you tried to persuade them. And again, you came out with seven votes that probably weren`t there in the beginning, or maybe. What was your sort of takeaway from that experience?

LIEU: You`re right. It is a strange experience. This is not like any normal trial. But it does show me that there are still elements of Republican Party that will listen to their eyes and ears and not reject the evidence. And so, I am pleased that seven of the Republican senators have voted to convict.

And again, we laid out a very damning case. And a vote of 57 United States senators is very damning. And history is going to record this. And when I talk about four years from now, I`m talking about specifically about Donald Trump running again for President. I think it`d be hard to try to convince the American people that they should vote for him one more time, even though he incited a violent attack on our nation`s Capitol.

HAYES: It is strange the degree to which this party has wrapped itself around this loser. It`s usually not what happens in party politics. Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

LIEU: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Mehdi Hasan is the host of the "MEHDI HASSAN SHOW" and NBC`s Peacock Streaming Service and Adam Jentleson, the former Deputy Chief of Staff to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, also the author of the great new book Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate, the Crippling of American Democracy, which he and I discussed on my podcast, Why Is This Happening? And they both join me now.

All right, Adam, I`m going to -- I`m going to ask you to put on your Senate cap here for a second. I made a joke while this was all happening that there`s literally nothing U.S. senators hate more than half to be in the U.S. Senate, and that the entire institution functions around that fact. And it did feel to me like that was the operating issue with this weird back and forth on the witnesses. How did you see it?

ADAM JENTLESON, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF TO HARRY REID: Yes. In the Senate, they call it jet fumes. And that`s when the lure of the airport starts to get stronger than the issue that`s in front of you. I think that was probably an issue here. I think the fundamental problem that they faced was that they didn`t think that -- as strong as the case that the House impeachment managers put on, and it was extremely strong, I think the Democratic senators didn`t think that any more Republican votes were going to change, at least not enough to get them to the 67 needed for conviction.

And so, I think part of the feeling was that dragging the trial on would delay their need to get to the urgent action of Biden`s agenda, to the confirmation of his nominees, and to other things, and it wasn`t worth the time to do that. And I`m making the best case I can here, but I think, ultimately, that is what rules the day. And you know, jet fumes can be -- can be a very powerful thing when it comes down to it.

HAYES: Well, Mehdi, I know -- I think you, you have been strongly calling for witnesses. I do want to play this Ted Cruz clip, because I do think the best argument against it is that, right? That like, there just aren`t going to be the votes there. Here`s what Ted Cruz who has a podcast, I guess, now because he doesn`t, I think, enjoy being a senator that much, had to say about the vote.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I said, look, you got you got to remember, you`ve already won. There are not 67 votes to convict. There are 55 votes to convict, plus-minus two. I think there`s a low of 53. I think there`s a high of 57. And that`s really the band that`s in play. So, my opening advice was don`t do anything to screw it up.


HAYES: So, I mean, given that -- I mean, he was right about it. You know, what do you say in response, his argument of like, why keep doing it?

MEHDI HASAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Ted Lieu just made the argument. I just find this to be a bizarre argument. If the argument is, well, we wouldn`t have got any extra votes out of it, we wouldn`t have got to 67, why have a trial at all, then? Why bother doing any of this stuff if the argument is we`re going to let the Republicans decide what is and isn`t acceptable in this trial?

I mean, I find that bizarre. And I interviewed Eric Swalwell on my show earlier, another House impeachment manager. He said history will judge the Republicans. Ted Lieu just said to you, history will judge the Republicans. I don`t know about your viewers, but I`m fed up of waiting for history to judge the Republicans. Why can`t we judge them in the here and now?

And the way you do that is not worrying about whether you get 67 or not, which we all knew that we`re never going to get to 67. It`s about doing your best job to fully expose the truth of what happened on January the sixth, and expose Republicans in the process. And that means you call for witnesses. That means you bring witnesses. That means we hear from everyone.

I mean, think about this. If Barack Obama had incited Black Lives Matter protesters to attack the Capitol to stop the electoral count for Donald Trump in 2017, do you think the Republicans would have held a five-day witness-free trial in order to get home for Valentine`s Day? They wouldn`t have. They did Benghazi for four years, millions of dollars. Hillary Clinton testified for 11 hours in one go. They didn`t move on. I`m not sure why Democrats are always moving on.

HAYES: Yes, the Benghazi thing I keep thinking about because I remember so clearly night -- I think it was night one in Cleveland in the 2016 RNC, 40 years after this awful thing happened in which four Americans died at the - - at the consulate in Libya that was overrun by militants. Four years later, 10 commissions later in investigations. It was the night one or two theme of the RNC was what happened in Benghazi.

I mean, you know, that was four years of -- and I do think whether witnesses or not are the issue, Adam, to me, I was glad to see Pelosi is announcement today because frankly, as a citizen, as a journalist, I just have a lot of questions I would still like to see answered.


HAYES: And if it`s not going to happen in an impeachment trial, there better be some venue for getting to the bottom of this stuff in a public transparent fashion.

JENTLESON: Yes, I think that`s probably, without speculating too much, what was going through the minds of a lot of senators was that someone else can do it. I think, you know, a commission, law enforcement, the DOJ. You know, somebody else could do it. They`ve got a lot on their plate.

I`m trying hard here but you know, I think that, you know, that`s what they wanted to do was do the best job they can. They acted as impartial jury. The House managers laid out a very compelling case. But I think the senators, you know, saw the writing on the wall that the outcome was not going to change. And they have a lot to do and they wanted to get on with it.

HAYES: Well, and I will say, I mean, one of the things that was so strange about the witness moment was just that part of what prompted it right, Mehdi, is this report that comes out about this phone call which is just so movie villain-esque, right? I mean, Kevin McCarthy, he`s -- Kevin McCarthy, loyal (INAUDIBLE), right, is on the phone with President of the United States as the mob is coming in saying please get them to back down. And first, the president says, well, they`re Antifa, they`re not mine. And Kevin McCarthy says, basically, I`m looking at their Trump hats, dude.

And then, the president says, well, Kevin, it sounds like they`re more upset about the election than you are. And the idea that that happened, A, was already in the public record because the Congresswoman at issue had talked about it. And B, it was just like, well --

HASAN: Weeks early.

HAYES: -- we`re moving on from that. That`s a little tough to stomach. Yes.

HASAN: It is tough to stomach. And don`t forget, Kevin McCarthy, also a central player in Benghazi who came out at the time and said, we helped bring Hillary Clinton`s ratings -- poll ratings down. He`s now a central player in this story.

And he doesn`t have to testify. He`s not brought forward. Jamie -- again, this again undermines -- look, to be clear to your viewers, I think the House impeachment just did a great job of laying out the evidence. All of their performances, pretty much all of them were very impressive, very strong. No one`s questioning that. But the logic of this argument that they`re pushing, which is well, we wouldn`t have changed any votes. Hold on, then why did you admit her statement? What did that do?

Is it weird to kind of have my cake and eat it? Hey, we got this statement. We entered it into the record. It didn`t change any votes. So, why even put the statement in the record? I mean, at some point, you have to say what was the purpose of this? And I get it, you know, hold Donald Trump to account, convict him according to the Constitution, you didn`t get to 67. But there`s also something called politics. You can do some politics here, Democrats. How about doing some politics for once?

HAYES: And I do think -- I mean, the other thing that I think is hanging all over them, we should know they went on recess. So, to Adam`s jet fumes point, that they weren`t going to pass COVID relief. But the COVID relief timeline, I think, is the thing they`re most worried about, which again, I think is the correct justification.

I do think there was a little bit of a walking and chewing gum that probably could have happened. Mehdi Hasan and Adam Jentleson, thank you, gentlemen, both.

Next, the growing push by state Republicans to punish fellow Republicans for standing up to Trump. The disturbing trend of what it means the rest of us next.


HAYES: Despite neglecting, indeed exacerbating a pandemic that led to the deaths of almost half a million Americans and counting, despite citing a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol for which Mitch McConnell himself says he is responsible, and despite more members of his own party voting to convict him than in any other presidential impeachment in U.S. history, and in spite of being a one-term president, the disgraced ex-President Donald Trump remains extremely popular with the Republican base.

A CNBC survey conducted shortly before Trump`s second impeachment trial find 74 percent of Republicans want him to stay active in some way, including 48 percent who want him to remain head of the Republican Party. It continues to be the case the Republican base loves Donald Trump and what he offers.

So, it is not surprising to see the Republican Party in state after state calling emergency meetings to censure the republicans that had the temerity to vote to evict a guy who incited a violent mob. And one fundamental truth that remains clear through the assault in the Capitol and Trump`s latest impeachment is that there is still incredible demand for Trumpism in the base of the Republican Party, no matter how destructive it is.

New York Times national political reporter Elaina Plott spent a lot of time covering the transformation of the GOP under Trump. And she joins me now. Elaina, you`ve seen all these headlines now from the state parties, but I`m curious what to make of it. Like, how seriously to take them, how seriously the politicians were being targeted by them take them? ELAINA PLOTT, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It`s a great question, because I think pre-McCain-Feingold, this conversation I think would actually look pretty different. State parties actually had way more of a more practical role in the day to day of political activities in states, which is to say they were fundraising vehicles. They were pretty important in terms of candidate recruitment.

But with the advent of Super PACs and things like that, state pretty sort of devolved into this more ceremonial body as it were -- and, you know, were seen as sort of the promulgation of the more activist wing of the party. But the problem right now, Chris, is that that activist wing of the party is more emblematic of the base, I think, than it has been in quite some time for the GOP.

So, when you see things like state parties, you know, in Louisiana censuring bill Cassidy, that to me is more than just sort of a symbolic effort by the fringe elements of the party and the way it would be say 10 years ago. That is actually, I think, a great marker in terms of what a Louisiana Republican would face in a primary going forward, and what issues they would feel they would have to equivocate on.

In this case, you know, you`re going to see a lot of talk about things like election integrity from Republicans who want to hold office in any state, Texas, Arizona, Louisiana going forward.

HAYES: Yes,. And I thought that you know, the censure is I think, to your point about like, this represents something real right. Like, these state parties are this liaison with the grassroots the party, the activist, but also a huge part of the base. Like, this is not some tiny little faction.

You know, there`s this interesting question about if a Republican just said, like, I don`t care what you think -- you know, Ben Sasse is sort of the closest to this, although Sasse really like kissed up to Donald Trump a lot to just enough time did not get a primary challenge, then got reelected and then has found his courage again.

But he released this statement before all this to his state party when they were talking about censoring him, I want to play a little short bit of, which was interesting just because you never see anyone saying it. Take a listen.


SEN. BEN SASSE (R-NE): Let`s be clear, the anger in the state party has never been about me violating principle or abandoning conservative policy. I`m one of the most conservative voters in the Senate. The anger has always been simply about me not bending the knee to one guy.

You are welcome to censure me again, but let`s be clear about why this is happening. It`s because I still believe, as you used to, that politics isn`t about the weird worship of one dude.


HAYES: I wonder how viable this is, right? Like all the incentives pull away from that is the problem.

PLOTT: I guess I would quibble with that slightly because I actually think what has allowed state parties to become more of a presence in the daily political life for Republicans is precisely because leadership will not address them definitively one way or the other.

Like I said, there`s been this sort of soft equivocation that has built up over the past four years that I think has allowed them to gain more stature and gain more prominence. Have you had people like, you know, for instance, Governor, Greg Abbott, from the moment Allen West took over the Texas GOP, made very clear that, you know, his views and his leadership in the party was not representative of the, you know, enterprise he wanted to lead in Texas.

Instead, Allen West has made very clear that, you know, his party in Texas believes that the election was stolen and that you know, voter fraud is their number one, verbatim, number one issue moving forward. So, when Greg Abbott released his legislative priorities for the session a couple of weeks ago, his number three item was, "election integrity."

So again, that`s sort of the winking and nodding, but in some ways, Chris, I think post-Cold War Republican vernacular is not especially equipped to deal with this moment, because this is no longer, I guess, quibbles over say, ObamaCare or the marginal tax rate. This is, you know, very fundamental things like, do you believe that the person who is holding office today in the White House was credibly elected. That`s the divide within the GOP right now that the state party is bringing to bear every day.

HAYES: Yes, that`s a good point. We should also note there is this divide, right, between officeholders who have responsibilities in terms of governing which you`re seeing on say, COVID relief, like mayors and Republican governors being like, yes, we would like COVID relief, and like the Allen West of the world who don`t have any responsibilities whatsoever, makes it a lot easier.

Elaina Plott, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

PLOTT: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Two days after escaping conviction in the Senate, Donald Trump is reportedly worried about criminal exposure. We`ll talk about why his fears are well, pretty well-founded next.



BRUCE CASTOR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY OF DONALD TRUMP: If my colleagues on this side of the chamber actually think that President Trump committed a criminal offense. after he`s out of office, you go and arrest him. The Department of Justice does know what to do with such people. And so far, I haven`t seen an activity in that direction.


HAYES: It`s not that long ago that Donald Trump`s own defense attorney appear to suggest that the Department of Justice should arrest his client. While that might not have been effective advocacy, it does appear to reflect real worries for Trump. A report from over the weekend said that "Trump has privately voiced concerns in the last two weeks about whether he could face charges as a result of the January 6th riot."

And perhaps you should be concerned. A speech on Saturday to try to explain his vote to acquit Senator Mitch McConnell who for years refuse to rein in Trump implied that`s what the legal process is for.


MCCONNELL: Impeachment was never meant to be the final forum for American justice. President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office as an ordinary citizen. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.


HAYES: Perhaps something to think about considering that Donald Trump is already facing criminal investigations in both Georgia and New York. Former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne knows a bit of -- little something about how the legal process works and she joins me now.

So, Cynthia, there`s -- I think there`s kind of three buckets to think of here. And maybe we should sort of go through them in terms of criminal exposure. There`s New York and taxes and business problems. There`s Fulton County and the -- and the Raffensperger call. And then there`s the federal government.

So, let`s start with New York which, you know, the New York Times reporting makes a facial case for illegal tax fraud, you know, without even any -- getting any secret documents.

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Right. But it will be -- it`s very important to get the tax documents. And it looks like that`s going to happen relatively soon. I will say that this New York bucket is my personal favorite because it involves money. And there`s nothing Trump loves more than money. And so, it would be a victory if he could be prosecuted because of abuse of the tax laws. But we have to wait until the full documents come out which should be relatively soon.

HAYES: Right. So, there`s -- we have Wall Street Journal reporting of New York prosecutors there is an act of criminal investigation. There`s still no definitive ruling from the Supreme Court, right, about whether -- they have not been turned over yet.

ALKSNE: That`s right. There`s no definitive ruling. They have not been turned over yet. The Supreme Court required them to be turned over. That went back down to the lower court and the Trump Organization appealed again. And so, we`re waiting for a ruling on that.

But in addition to the Cyrus Vance prosecution, there`s also the tax case in New York that`s the civil fraud case. So there`s -- that`s a bucket with two scoops in it.

HAYES: Right. Now, then there`s the Fulton County in Georgia, right? This to me is also -- I just find -- you know, that phone call which I think we`ve lost a little memory because the phone call comes up, you know, basically a day before the Georgia election and two days before, three days before the insurrection.

You know, I covered Chicago politics, notoriously corrupt. And the dynamic in Chicago politics was you had a bunch of corrupt politicians, and then U.S. Attorney`s love to come to the Northern District of Illinois where they made their bones locking up and prosecuting local corrupt politicians.

And if a Chicago alderman had been on the phone with the person who administers elections in Cook County`s verbatim saying what Trump said, they would have been indicted in a big show press conference within 24 hours in the Northern District. It just seems so obviously criminal what happens on that phone call.

ALKSNE: Right, it does. And it`s interesting that now it looks like they`re going to look at Lindsey Graham too, because he made some phone calls. And Raffensperger felt that Lindsey Graham was nosing around, suggesting that perhaps he should throw out votes.

I`m interested in this case, but recognize that the statute really doesn`t have much in the form of a penalty. And so, if I had to pick a prosecution that would end up being the serious prosecution, I would say it`s the New York.

HAYES: So, then that brings us to this vexed federal question. It just seems to me the President`s activity is, in many ways, either flirted with or ran afoul of federal law. Seditious conspiracy or election fraud, things like that. That`s a very vexed question for new A.G. How do you see this in the Federal Department of Justice context?

ALKSNE: Well, I think the first thing is to get the Attorney General installed and to get a United States Attorney there and get a feel for what they want to do. Now, they have open grand jury investigations, obviously, because they have all these 200 cases. Some of which include the conspiracy and the Proud Boys and the communications that they had before the January 6th insurrection.

And we`re going to learn some -- they will learn something from there. But they`re going to have to expanded dramatically in terms of a criminal prosecution. Recognize that much of what was admitted in the Senate impeachment trial is not admissible in a court of law. I mean, it`s not admissible against one defendant that somebody else said that they did it because the other defendant told him to.

I mean, that isn`t -- that isn`t going to work. You`re going to have to have some serious intent. So, there`s a lot to learn about how they got there, who paid for the buses, what they ate, what did Trump know exactly what happened in the timing of the day? What were the Roger Stone meetings? Was there any coordination between other family members and the Proud Boys or the Oathkeepers?

I mean, there`s just hundreds and hundreds of witnesses to put in front of the grand jury. It`s a huge allocation of resources. And that will be a decision made in the United States Attorney`s office with the Attorney General. And I just don`t think we know what the answer to that is.

Now, Pelosi is investigation may very well help move the ball along. My -- I mean, I think all of our experiences that Congress has difficulty enforcing subpoenas and my guess is there wouldn`t be -- there would be a problem here because there`s so much to do.

And also, problems with congressional investigations is that if they -- if they give anybody immunity, that gums up the criminal prosecution. So, we have a long way to go before there`s anything solid in the -- in this prosecution.

HAYES: That`s really helpful and sort of illuminating. Cynthia Alksne, thank you so much for making time tonight.

ALKSNE: Good night.

HAYES: Still to come, The Biden administration is ahead of schedule when it comes to getting people vaccinated, but states say they could be doing even more. What that would take ahead.


HAYES: The 2020 presidential election was about one single issue. It was the absolute necessity of getting the pandemic under control.


BIDEN: You cannot get the country moving until we control the virus. In order to keep the country running and moving and the economy growing and people employed, you have to fix the virus.


HAYES: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ran and won on that message. And rarely has there been a clearer mandate or a more clear-cut benchmark for success. Either the administration will succeed or they won`t. And with the more contagious variants spreading across the world, the most important task right now is accelerating vaccinations as quickly as humanly possible.

In early December, Biden promised to get 100 million vaccine shots into American arms in the first 100 days of the administration. But it became clear fairly early on that was insufficiently ambitious, that they could do more. And here`s the thing. They really have been.

On President Biden`s first day, according to Bloomberg`s COVID-19 vaccine tracker, we were averaging a bit over 900,000 vaccines per day, which is pretty close to that million a day benchmark they wanted. But that has steadily increased, OK. As of yesterday, we`re now up to an average of 1.7 million doses a day. Some days, we hit two million. That`s closing in on almost double where we were just a little more than three weeks ago.

It`s a huge uptick in less than a month, genuinely impressive. If we can get up to three million doses a day, something Dr. Peter Hotez told me a few months ago, and I thought -- but if we can get there, we can start thinking about a spring that looks a lot different than last year.

And that`s not to say there haven`t been real problems with vaccine distributions in this country. There definitely have been, no question. But things are right now trending in the right direction. And many of the places that were struggling across the country, California comes to mind, really are getting their act together.

Now, I know we`ve gotten so used to being one of the international laggards when it comes to dealing with this awful virus. Trump`s performance find us all to expect the worse. But here`s the thing. On vaccinations, we`re actually doing pretty darn well. The U.S. has administered more doses per 100 people than all but four other countries. When it comes to getting shots in arms, we`re outpacing Canada and European countries, Asian countries, really just about everyone.

Now, that`s the product of a tremendous amount of work by a bunch of people, some Democrats, some Republicans, mostly folks in med school of profession and public health, all levels of government. But it`s also a result of real concrete steps by the new administration to get people vaccinated and get the pandemic under control.

And we`re going to talk about what is going well, what problems remain, and crucially, how to keep things going in this right direction right after this.



ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CDC: We anticipate by the end of March we`ll have 200 million vaccines available. I`m proud to say that as of yesterday, we have put 50 million vaccines into people`s arms. We anticipate by the end of the summer we will have enough vaccine in order to vaccinate the entire U.S. population that is eligible.


HAYES: The Biden administration has been ramping up COVID vaccinations nearly doubling the number of shots in arms and increasing the vaccine supply to states by 28 percent, but it still is not enough. Today, a bipartisan group of governors works with the White House asking for more federal coordination with states to avoid confusion on vaccine distribution. There seems to be some turf issues in that letter. And they also want to figure out a way to get more shots into more arms more quickly.

To discuss those challenges ahead, the success of the vaccination program so far, I`m joined by Jaime Slaughter-Acey, she`s assistant professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. I wonder if we can start with your view about what`s -- what is working right now and what is not working in the American vaccination program?

JAIME SLAUGHTER-ACEY, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, DIVISION OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Evening, Chris. Yes, there`s -- I mean, there`s a lot of things that are working right now in the vaccination -- in our vaccination program with respect to COVID-19. But there`s also a lot of things that we can improve on.

In terms of this decrease that we`ve been experiencing since that all time high of COVID-19 cases, it`s most likely a mixed bag of things that are proving effective or proving to be beneficial at reducing the number of new cases each day in the United States. And so, part of it is the increased pace in vaccinations and the administration of these vaccines.

It is also probably an increase in people participating in social distancing, masking, reduced travel after the holidays. But it`s also probably a reduction in mixed messaging that has occurred since we`ve had the Biden and Harris administration take place. And lastly, I would just say that decrease may also be the result of testing locations moving or are being converted more into vaccination locations.

HAYES: That`s interesting. So, we see that, you know, that case slope is coming down. We`re also seeing in hospitalizations, which is really, really, really great news. On the vaccine front, we`ve seen this issue where we, you know, we`ve almost doubled the shots per day. And I guess my question for you is like, does that feel sustainable to keep going up at the -- at that slope we have there or do we have some bumps ahead of us to kind of continue expanding at this pace?

SLAUGHTER-ACEY: I definitely think that we have some bumps ahead of us just like we`ve had bumps ahead of us in terms of the testing, getting testing rolled out. Part of that is because our landscape isn`t set up for equal access and distribution of the vaccines at multiple levels. So, talking about the engagement between -- or the cooperation between the federal, state, local, as well as government versus nonprofit or for profit.

There`s a lot of coordination that has to go on. And as we increase our rollout of the vaccine, we are definitely going to run into some bumps in that -- in that area.

HAYES: Yes. It seems like the part -- that`s part of what this letter from governors was today that if reading between the lines, it seemed a little bit of a turf concern. Like, we had full -- we were -- we were the ones distributing the vaccine, and now the federal government has added some things they`re doing.

They`re shipping directly to some places. They`ve opened up these direct centers. They`re sending to community health centers. But it also seems to me like increasingly this question of equity and communities that have been -- that are not getting vaccinated are going to get more and more urgent as the sort of like, lower hanging fruit gets vaccinated?

SLAUGHTER-ACEY: Absolutely. One of the things that we know about this pandemic is that it intersects with structural racism. And that means that our Black and Brown communities are experiencing the pandemic in a way that`s different from the rest of the United States.

And while many of these efforts that are being rolled out address vaccine access and distribution for the general population, we have to remember to center those at the margins and that -- and that means our Black and Brown communities to ensure that they have access to the vaccine and information that will -- that will increase the uptick of the vaccine within those communities.

HAYES: Yes, it seems like there`s -- part of a little bit of the tension that I -- that I glean from that letter from the governors association is a little sense to me that federal government was trying to kind of overshoot them to address that problem. We`re going to see how that plays out as we go forward.

Dr. Jaime Slaughter-Acey, thank you so much for spending time with us tonight. I appreciate it.

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