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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 2/22/21

Guest: Sherrilyn Ifill, Ari Berman, Catherine Traywick, Sheldon White House, Syra Madad


Rep. Steve Scalise, the number two Republican in the House,

yesterday is refusing to say the very obvious fact that Joe Biden was the

legitimate election winner. Republicans are becoming the party of the big

lie that Joe Biden is the legitimate president. According to a new poll

from USA Today and Suffolk University, 73 percent of Trump voters say Biden

wasn`t legitimately elected. Georgia Republicans are pushing to limit early

and absentee voting. Texas residents are getting huge bills after power

shortages. Investigating the Capitol riot would be the first priority of

Attorney General Nominee Merrick Garland.



starts right now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN. The big lie is

alive and well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The election was not stolen, correct?

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): Look, Joe Biden is the president. There were a

few states that did not follow their state laws.

HAYES: Tonight, even with Trump in exile, how Republican radicalization

against democracy is in full swing.

Plus, the man who would be Attorney General on investigating the Capitol


SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): I`d like to make sure that you are willing

to look upstream from the actual occupants who assaulted the building.

HAYES: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse joins me live. Then, the shocking

aftermath of the nightmare in Texas. And it turns out, Ted Cruz wasn`t the

only Texas leader to flee the state during a disaster.

As the nation mourns a half million victims to the coronavirus pandemic,

new signs could be turning a corner when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The

Republican Party is now the party of the big lie. It`s central to the

identity of this faction. But every day that passes, the leaders of the

Republican Party not only refused to condemn the big lie that Donald Trump

really won reelection, but actively continue to push the narrative. That

big lie gets further cemented as a cornerstone of the Republican Party of

American conservatism.

In the run-up to the election and the weeks after the election culminating,

of course, in the violent insurrection to try to stop the peaceful transfer

of power, there was a focus on Donald Trump as the person orchestrating all

of it and that is undeniably true. But a majority of Republican members of

Congress affirm their support for that lie voting not to certify Joe

Biden`s election even after the Trump-fueled attack in the Capitol.

Donald Trump is off Twitter and down at Mar-a-Lago. The Associated Press

found that three softball interviews on Fox News Channel News, Newsmax, and

One American News Network in the last few days, Trump repeated his false

claim the election was stolen from him 10 times, each instance unprompted

and unchallenged.

And you`ll never guess what the polling shows. New polling shows the

Republican Party is still with disgraced ex-president. According to a new

poll from USA Today and Suffolk University, listen to this, 73 percent of

Trump voters say Biden wasn`t legitimately elected.

There was maybe a brief window following the attack on the Capitol, the

deadly insurrection against peaceful transfer of power, when every

Republican had a chance to turn things around, right, to refute the big

lie. That window has passed. They are not just apologizing for it. They are

embracing it. It is now (INAUDIBLE).

Take for instance, Steve Scalise, number two Republican in the House,

yesterday refusing to say the very obvious fact that Joe Biden was the

legitimate election winner.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clear this up for me. Joe Biden won the election. He is

the legitimate president of the United States. The election was not stolen,


SCALISE: Look, Joe Biden`s the president. There were a few states that did

not follow their state laws. That`s really the dispute that you`ve seen

continue on. And look, if you`re Joe Biden, you probably want to keep

talking about impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But Congressman, I know Joe Biden is the president. He

lives at the White House. I asked you, is he the legitimate president of

United States and do you concede that this election was not stolen? Very

simple question, please just answer it.

SCALISE: Once the elect -- once the electors are counted, yes, he`s the

legitimate president. But if you`re going to ignore the fact that there

were states that did not follow their own state legislatively set laws,

that`s the issue at heart that millions of people still are not happy with

and don`t want to see happen again.


HAYES: You hear that logic? Millions of people. We told people there was

voter fraud. That was all nonsense. That was a lie, right? So, now a lot of

people think there was voter fraud or that states didn`t follow through on

election laws, thereby invalidating results. So now, we have to make sure

it doesn`t happen again. We have to make it harder to vote. We have to

control things, rein them in.

Even today, Republican Senator Mike Lee tried to probe Attorney General

Nominee Merrick Garland about his take on the legality of purging voters to

the rolls, with the question Garland easily brushed aside.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): Do you believe that efforts to purge voter rolls of

individuals who have either died or have left the state in question or to

require voter identification are racially discriminatory and an assault on

voting rights?


answer yes or no, because you`re asking about motivations of individuals,

some of whom may have discriminatory purpose.


HAYES: Yes. Is it wrong to keep people of the voter rolls? Well, like

Merrick Garland said, it depends on why you`re doing it. The Republican

Party has a choice, right? It has had a choice in the aftermath of Donald

Trump`s loss. He`s a loser. He`s a one-term president. That doesn`t happen

often in American life. It happens when you get turfed out by people that

don`t like you, OK. They have a choice in the aftermath of that.

You can try to change your message so that you win elections, change your

message or policies, try to appeal to become a 55 percent coalition. That`s

one option. Or do whatever possible to deconstruct American democracy such

that they can rule from behind a barricade of 45 percent of the population.

They have chosen the latter. They`re doing it every day in front of our

faces. Look at the way the big lies playing out across the country.

Today, we learn the Supreme Court will not take up Republicans` challenge

to the election results in Pennsylvania, which is good, but three

Republican-appointed Supreme Court Justice advertised their willingness to

go in and override state election law in the future if that`s what it

takes. New York state legislature is diligently working hard, making voting

harder when controlled by Republicans.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 33 states have introduced,

pre-filed, or carried over 165 restrictive bills this year, as compared to

35 such bills in 15 states on February 3, 2020. That`s more than three new

bills to make it harder to vote for every day this year.

And despite Georgia`s Republican Secretary of State saying Donald Trump`s

voter fraud claims were just plain wrong, Republicans in that state in the

legislature have introduced a sweeping elections bill to limit early and

absentee voting.

As NPR points out, many of the changes in the bill would, surprise,

predominantly affect larger minority-heavy democratic strongholds of the

state, constituencies that helped President Biden narrowly defeat former

President Donald Trump in this state last November, then boosted Democratic

Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in Georgia`s January runoff


Rather than appeal to the Georgia voters who booted them from power in two

subsequent elections right next to each other, which they could do, they

could try to do, they`re trying to do everything they can to make sure

those people can`t vote again.

This is the source of Donald Trump`s power over the Republican Party, the

conservative movement. It`s not that he has some special talents per se. He

just continues to most authentically channel the anti-democratic paranoia

of the base. He`ll be making his big return this Saturday when he

reportedly plans to send the message to his Republicans presumptive 2024

nominee with a vise grip on the party`s base, which again, fine.

But if Trump disappeared tomorrow, or say, in the wake of the Supreme Court

decision that his accounting firm has to hand his tax return data to the

Manhattan prosecutor, if he were to be, I don`t know, prosecuted,

convicted, and locked up, the big lie and the resulting Republican push to

disenfranchise millions will not go away.

Sherrilyn Ifill has been following the big lie in its fallout. She`s the

President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and she

joins me now. Sherrilyn, I thought that -- I thought the Scalise police

interview was really, really telling about the work that this is now doing.

It wasn`t oh, crazy Donald Trump, he`s gone now. No, it`s still there and

it`s doing some important work for conservatives in the Republican Party.


Yes. Chris, actually, this is one of the most dangerous periods that we`re

in. And I honestly believe that if we don`t get to work addressing and

thinking differently about how you protect a democracy, you know, in all of

the various ways we can -- I have spoken out about the legal profession. I

believe it`s true for media and journalism. The idea of allowing these lies

and the kind of Trumpist way of speaking to cascade into what becomes

normal, is really dangerous.

It moves the line so that the outrages no longer depend on the presence of

Mr. Trump, they then exist as part of our new normal. And if we`re going to

have a democracy in this country, let alone a healthy democracy, we have to

get serious about pushing back against that.

HAYES: You`re seeing it too in the way that it is -- in Georgia, for

instance, where you`ve got this, you know, pointing to people`s paranoia, I

keep seeing republicans do this right. So a lot of them I think, have

learned whether they`ve watched other people get sued or just too

embarrassing to go down the full like the ghost of Hugo Chavez broke into

the machines and wired it for Joe Biden, like that. That`s too much. But

now it`s, well a lot of people believe it because you told them that But

they`re using that now as the predicate.

IFILL: Yes, but Chris, this started decades ago with the myth about voter

fraud that those of us who are civil rights lawyers have been fighting

against. And the failure to cabin and squash that lie despite countless

reports and studies demonstrating that there`s no existence of widespread

voter fraud left it lying around like a loaded weapon, to borrow from

Korematsu, for the modern iteration of the Republican Party and for Trump

to use. And that`s why it`s so important.

Today, we saw the hearings with, you know, Judge Garland who`s the nominee

to be attorney general that the turning the page really is about refreshing

a look at the rule of law and what it really means. And part of the rule of

law is restoring the department of justice to its role in protecting civil

rights. Things like voter suppression.

Since 2013 when the Supreme Court issued the Shelby County versus Holder

case, the Department of Justice has had to fight a rear guard action. And

then after Trump came in, fight no action whatsoever. And so, part of the

reset we have to do of this big lie is reminding ourselves of how we got

here, having accountability for how we got here, and starting afresh with a

new way of embracing what our obligations are to uphold democracy.

HAYES: You know, it`s also striking to me, it`s not like Republicans -- you

know, this was a very strange election many ways because it was happening

amidst a pandemic. And in some ways, it was an experiment, right, with lots

of different new policies being instituted precisely so as to make it

easier to vote. And I should note, many of those policies happening in

states that Donald Trump won which no one objects to, like North Carolina

and Texas, there`s no actual principal difference. It`s just that Trump won

those, they don`t object to those.

But it`s also the case like, it`s -- we had record turnout and it`s not

like Republicans got trounced everywhere, you know. I mean, they did

perfectly fine in lots of races. It was a close election. It`s a closely

divided country. The idea that you would look at this turnout and be like,

well, we can never win again if we keep letting people turn out, it`s like

that`s crazy.

IFILL: Well, it`s almost like it`s too hard to play by the rules and it`s

too hard to actually appeal to voters.


IFILL: What they`ve discovered with the aid -- with the aid of social media

is that actually, it`s easier to lie. It`s easier to pretend. It`s easier.

I watched today`s confirmation hearing and, you know, I watched Republican

senators kind of switch it up. You know, it was almost as though it were

2015 again. We were talking about Fast and Furious.

And there was almost a pretend that what`s happened the last four years has

not happened. And if that doesn`t get called out, that also gets

normalized. And so, that`s what they do. It`s actually easier to lie. And

any you know seven-year-old kid knows that. It`s not easier on your spirit,

your soul, your integrity, you know, the rule of law. But to win in the

short term, sure you could just lie.

And what`s really appalling is that we`re watching across the board an era

in which there are scores and scores and hundreds and hundreds of leaders

who have no honor.

HAYES: There`s also the central fact here and it`s one that has recurred

throughout American history. You and I have had conversations about this

before that we have -- we now have -- we`ve got two major political

collisions in American life and one of them really is kind of radicalizing

against democracy.

It`s a faction increasingly divorced from the basic reality of what

happened in the election but more militant in its belief that those other

people don`t deserve to rule even if there`s more of them. And that`s just

-- to me that`s a central story of American politics and that`s as

dangerous as it gets.

IFILL: Well, what has happened is that national politics now mirrors what

has often been true in the south, right? Today, Merrick Garland talked

about the Department of Justice having been created during reconstruction

to fulfill the guarantees of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments which was

to ensure that Black people would be full citizens and particularly to

protect their right to vote.

Once again, southern white supremacists did not want to accept the outcome

of the Civil War, the outcome of the process that produced the 13th, 14th,

and 15th Amendments, and the reality of the fact that in many

jurisdictions, the Black population outnumbered the white population. So,

they embarked on this -- on this wage of, you know, this violence and this

effort to suppress Black citizenship.

We saw this again in the years before the civil rights movement really

began. We saw white supremacists after Brown, refused to accept the Supreme

Court`s decision and instead embark on massive resistance. This is what

white supremacists have done in this country for the entire history of this

country, is when the law does not work in their favor refuse to accept the

rule of law, refuse to accept the outcome of elections, and if necessary,

default to violence to stay in power.

And so, we have to kind of become clear-eyed that this is about power and

it`s about law. And we have to get very, very serious if we`re going to

reset and hope that we`re going to have a democracy of some integrity.

HAYES: Sherrilyn Ifill whose work I always admire and whose insights i

always cherish, thank you very much for your time tonight.

IFILL: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: I want to bring in now Ari Berman, Senior Reporter of Mother Jones.

His latest piece is titled report -- Georgia Republicans are doubling down

on racist voter suppression. And Ari, this is to me, Georgia is the kind of

the canary in the coal mine here. It has been for a long time on this

specific issue.

You`ve got a Republican Party that just got their butts kicked, right? They

lost the state in the presidential, then they lost two senate seats that

they didn`t think they were going to lose. And again, like, this is the

place where the existential choice is OK, do we go back and think like

well, how do we appeal to Georgians more or maybe we can pair off those

margins with new voting rules. What are they doing?

ARI BERMAN, SENIOR REPORTER, MOTHER JONES: You`re absolutely right, Chris.

Georgia is really ground zero for voter suppression because the

demographics of the state are changing Black voters in particular turned

out record numbers. The state flipped blue and then elected two Democratic


And the response by Georgia Republicans is to roll back all of the voting

methods that led to that record turnout, to get rid of automatic

registration, to eliminate voting on Sundays when Black churches hold souls

to the polls voter mobilization drives, to restrict mail voting.

Georgia Republicans wrote every aspect of their state`s voting law. But at

soon as it didn`t work for them any longer, now they want to change the

entire system.

HAYES: Well, that`s such a great point too. And also, part of I think the -

- you know, it doesn`t cut as neatly as I think some people might think it

does. I mean, obviously, like the Souls of the Polls and Sunday voting is

very clear target. But you know, Nate Cohn made this point, and I thought

there`s plausible argument here. There`s no serious reason to think

Democrats benefit from say -- benefit from say male absentee voting. It

does have some downsides to electoral system. Dems could even trade it for

something they should -- they care about if bipartisan electoral bill was

possible which of course is not the case.

But Republicans seem to have very clear images of like who this helps and

who it hurts. And given the coalition`s influx, it`s not even clear to me

they understand their own best interest here.

BERMAN: Well, they`re willing to accept a lot of collateral damage if they

believe that it`s going to hurt their opponents more.

HAYES: Right. That`s right.

BERMAN: Because right so many Republicans in Georgia used automatic

registration, so many Republicans in Georgia used early voting. Democrats

outnumbered Republicans in early voting for the first time in January 5th.

Meaning that Republicans have used early voting at a higher rate than

Democrats in every single election in Georgia before January 5th.

Before November, Republicans were the ones who voted by mail in Georgia in

larger numbers. Republicans specifically exempted voter ID from mail

ballots because they thought their voters were going to vote by mail in

larger numbers. They didn`t want to disenfranchise their voters.

So, everything they`re talking about now is a direct response to the fact

that Democrats won in November and won in January. And instead of trying to

reach out to new constituencies, they`re trying to suppress those new

constituencies from voting in the future.

HAYES: And I`ve watched some of the -- I`ve read some of your reporting.

There was even hearings the other day about this where there -- a lot of

them, even Raffensburger to a certain extent, right, which to his credit

sort of stood up against the big lie. There has been a lot of this like

yadda, yadda, yadda about like, well, a lot of people think there was a lot

of fraud so we have to do something even though there was no fraud. They`re

still using the false beliefs by people who are the subject of propaganda

as a predicate for making changes to the law.

BERMAN: Yes. It`s pretty amazing to watch, Chris. I mean you have the

Republican Secretary of State in Georgia stand up so publicly to Donald

Trump, yet he`s completely on board with his party`s voter suppression

crusade. And that`s why I believe so few Republicans denounce the big lie.

Or even those that did denounce it still found it useful in the sense that

they knew they could use this in the future.

They knew Donald Trump didn`t win the State of Georgia. But they knew that

if they created enough doubt, if they manufactured enough of a crisis, then

they could introduce all of these laws in response to that "crisis" that

would fit their political goals. And so, even though they`ve stood up

against Trump, they are now using Trump`s lies or the perception of Trump`s

lies as the basis to make it much more difficult to vote in the state.

HAYES: And there`s a pattern here bigger than Georgia that you have shown

in your reporting that we`ve seen all over which is that Republican parties

in closely divided states sometimes get -- are the most radical. They`re

the ones that are most -- sort of most militant about this because the

stakes are so high. And a few ten -- you know, 10,000 votes in either

direction means the difference in power. They can be some of the ones that

are the most extreme in the avenues they pursue to try to curtail the


BERMAN: Well, that`s why we`re seeing some of the craziest voter

suppression bills introduced in states like Georgia and Arizona because

they know if they can change 15,000 votes that`s enough to make a

difference. And they`re talking about getting rid of things like automatic

registration and days of early voting and no-excuse absentee voting that

millions of voters used in the last election.

We`re not talking about small changes around the margins. We`re talking

about changing the entire voting systems in some of these states, changing

policies that tons and tons of people use. And so, they believe that if

they`re able to shave off just 20,000 votes, that`s enough to try to keep

the state red or prevent it from becoming blue.

HAYES: Right. Ari Berman who is doing some of the best reporting on this,

you should follow his work. Thank you, Ari.

BERMAN: Thanks.

HAYES: All right, so, Senator Ted Cruz had quite week, right? We all

followed his travels. He`s back from Cancun. You probably saw that. Maybe

he learned a valuable lesson. I mean, I don`t want to get too excited.

Anyone, of course, can go out and hand out some bottles of water and tweet

pictures for everyone to see. It is a nice Texas-themed mask.

But did he also just completely reverse his long-held conservative beliefs

and come out for more regulation? Could that be true? The ideological

epiphany of Ted Cruz, that`s next.


HAYES: As Texas continues to recover from that historic winter storm and

subsequent energy disaster, the bills are now coming due, literally. Texas

is the nation`s most deregulated market by design, and customers in the

state could sign up for plans with very highly variable cost, cost that

could shift dramatically depending on available supply.

And well, when that supply shrank way down amid the winter storm, right,

some households that kept power were hit with electricity bills as high as

$10,000 or more. Seriously, one man nearly emptied his savings account so

that he would be able to pay in more than $16,000 bill. Telling the New

York Times, my savings is gone. There`s nothing I can do about it, but it`s

broken me.

Now, some are celebrating. The president of one drilling company said that

as prices spiked, that -- and you`re going to like this quote "obviously

this week is like hitting the jackpot." Meanwhile, many of the politicians

who supported the deregulation are now rushing to condemn the effects of

it. For instance, our old friend Sen. Ted Cruz who have been feverishly

doing damage control following his jaunt to Cancun, tweeted, the high bills

are wrong, adding, "State and local regulators should act swiftly to

prevent this injustice.

But not long ago, Cruz was holding up Texas energy market as a model that

should be exported to the rest of the nation. This was Cruz two years ago.

"Success of Texas energy is no accident. It was built over many years on

principles of free enterprise and low regulation with more jobs and

opportunities as a constant goal. We work to export this recipe for success

to more and more states so that all Americans enjoy the same prosperity.

Catherine Traywick is the power markers -- markets editor at Bloomberg News

where you can find a new story about how ordinary Texans are going to be

paying for decades for the failures that cause this ongoing catastrophe.

Catherine, great to have you.

When I first saw the news about the like the $10,000 bill which was I

screenshot, I thought it was one of those like, too good -- like that can`t

be true viral, like someone photoshopped it. So, when the New York Times

push alert came out, I was like, my God, they`re really going to do this.

They`re really going to go and try to charge people tens of thousands of

dollars. How is this possible?


explained it pretty well in your introduction. One of the -- one of the

options that customers in Texas have is to choose to pay wholesale

electricity prices which are extremely volatile. Most of the time it`s fine

because Texas has so much wind and gas power that prices stay relatively


But as we saw last week, those prices can absolutely skyrocket and it can

actually bankrupt people. So, anyone exposed to those prices last week are

facing extremely high bills. The wholesale power market has a very high

price cap of $9,000 a megawatt-hour. I`m not sure if everyone who

subscribed to these plans were aware of the risks that they faced.

I will say that one of the main retailers who has been behind these bills,

Griddy, has made a point of saying that they`re not the ones necessarily

charging these customers, they`re making a very small amount of fees.

They`re just essentially passing -- they`re passing the costs from the

market to the customers.

But I think it`s also worth noting that they`re not the only kinds of

customers who are going to end up paying high electricity bills because

even traditional utility customers are going to end up paying for this

event in the same way that Californians paid for the Enron crisis for 20

years. And that`s because utilities that had to pay for gas and electricity

at exorbitant prices last week are going to find a way to pass those costs

onto their customers even if that means spreading it out over utility bills

over the next two decades.

HAYES: Oh, that`s interesting. So, your point is that even if -- so there`s

-- the example of those folks who signed up for this wholesale power which

again is a little bit of a Texas quirk that you can even do that, right,

and there`s no -- there`s a very high cap on that so that we`re seeing the

viral $10,000 bill.

But your point is like, these companies -- the generators and utilities,

the utilities paid out of their eyeballs to get power. They`re going to

just defray that cost to Texans for years.

TRAYWICK: Yes. That`s probably what`s going to happen. We`re going to have

to see how it plays out over the next few months.

HAYES: I wonder -- there`s reporting today that the FERC which is a federal

regulator of energy is -- has opened up two probes, one into potential

market manipulation during the storm, the other into climate change risk to

electric grid reliability. I wonder how much you think, as someone who

covers this space, this event is a real like inflection point not just for

Texas but for everyone.

TRAYWICK: It`s definitely an inflection point. It`s hard to say at this

point how much is actually going to change in Texas. Texas likes to do its

own thing. The federal government has very limited jurisdiction over Texas`

power markets. They can pretty much, to some extent, regulate reliability

but they can`t regulate the prices the way that things are structured right

now. So, there`s very little that the federal government can do here.

If they find manipulation, they can go after parties that manipulated

energy prices during the crisis, but that`s not something we`ll know about

for months or even longer.

HAYES: I should also note here that Ted Cruz was not alone in leaving the

state during this. We just got news today that the Attorney General Ken

Paxton and his wife Angela Paxton went to Utah during the Texas freeze, so

this seemed to be a little bit among -- a theme among Texas Republicans.

Catherine Traywick who has been leading a team doing great reporting on

this, thank you so much for being with us tonight.

All right, you heard Sherrilyn Ifill talk about that committee hearing

today. The enormous challenge facing Attorney General Nominee Merrick

Garland leading the investigations into January 6th attack no matter where

they go. And one senator wants to know how far up he is willing to look.


HAYES: As the FBI continues to track down rioters who took part in the

Capitol siege on January 6th, we were getting a better idea of just what

people and groups were involved. Miami Herald reports that on Friday, a

former Florida police officer who quit back in august was arrested and

charged after live-streaming his part in the invasion.

He was not the only former police officer there. In fact, according to a

criminal complaint that revealed the stunning conspiracy charges against

nine members of the Oathkeepers, the FBI noted one member`s application

paperwork boasted about 13 years of experience in law enforcement in North

Carolina serving as a K-9 officer and a SWAT team member before moving to

private security.

Another member of the same group is Jessica Watkins identified on the right

side of your screen here by the FBI inside the Capitol. According to her

attorney, she was there to provide security to the speakers at the

president`s rally, an escort for the legislators and others to march to the

Capitol as directed by then-president. "She was given a VIP pass to the

rally. She met with secret Service Agents."

Now, the secret service denies it employed any private citizen to provide

security. This woman`s attorney draws a line from the president`s rally to

the very group the Justice Department alleges did knowingly combine,

conspire, confederate, and agree with each other to corruptly obstruct

influence and impede Congress` certification electoral college vote.

It`s the same group of which another member conversing on Facebook about

whether or not to bring firearms that day, said, "OK, we aren`t either, we

have a heavy quick response force 10 minutes out though." As more arrests

are made, charges brought, we`re learning just how much of an influence

militias like the Oathkeepers had on the attack at the Capitol.

Today, at the very scene of that attack, there`s a hearing for the man who

if confirmed will lead the Justice Department. And with this massive task

involving hundreds of investigations that have only just begun, he was

asked about just how far the DOJ would be willing to look.


SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): With respect to January 6th, I`d like to

make sure that you are willing to look upstream from the actual occupants

who assaulted the building in the same way that in a drug case you would

look upstream from the street dealers to try to find the kingpins, and that

you will not rule out investigation of funders, organizers, ring leaders or

aiders and abettors who were not present in the Capitol on January 6th.


HAYES: So, how did Merrick Garland answer Sheldon Whitehouse`s question

about how far upstream he`s going to look, we`ll find out and talk to

Senator Whitehouse himself right after this.


HAYES: There`s nothing the Republicans can do to stop Merrick Garland from

getting his hearing today. And on the first day of his hearing for the

confirmation to be the next Attorney General, the Capitol Hill insurrection

was not surprisingly a big topic.


WHITEHOUSE: With respect to January 6th, I`d like to make sure that you are

willing to look upstream from the actual occupants who assaulted the

building in the same way that in a drug case you would look upstream from

the street dealers to try to find the kingpins, and that you will not rule

out investigation of funders, organizers, ringleaders, or aiders and

abettors who were not present in the Capitol on January 6th.

GARLAND: Fair question and again, your law enforcement experience is the

same as mine. Investigations -- you know, I began as a line assistant U.S.

attorney and I was a supervisor. You know, we begin with the people on the

ground and we work our way up to those who are involved and further

involved. And we will pursue these leads wherever they take us.


HAYES: The Democratic Senator asking that very important question, Sheldon

Whitehouse of Rhode Island on the Judiciary Committee and he joins me now.

Senator, it strikes me that in some ways that`s one of the most fraught

issues the new attorney general will face among a lot of fraud issues which

is how to conceive of and prosecute and investigate the Capitol Hill riots

and insurrection particularly the connections to more mainstream political

actors in the Republican Party.

WHITEHOUSE: Yes. Well, the good news is this is a guy who really knows what

he`s doing. And he has handled massive investigations before when he did

the Oklahoma City bombing. And it`s not all that complicated from a

prosecutor`s point of view to understand how you take a street-level case

and flip people and work the, you know, money trail to work your way up and

get the people who are at the center of the enterprise or behind the

criminal activity.

So, it`s fraught in the sense that there`ll be probably some complaining

and, you know, convincing about whether he did enough or too much. But

you`re not dealing with having to invent something new. This is very well

trod ground by an awful lot of federal prosecutors. And, you know, Garland

really knows his stuff.

HAYES: There were a lot of questions today from Republicans about

politicizing the Justice Department which -- I know. You`re laughing

because -- I know. It was -- yes, there was a weird time warp where a lot

of talk about how, you know, rogue the DOJ had gone in 2013-2014 with a

kind of memory wipe of the last four years. What`d you make of that?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, I think there`s a tactic that the Republicans use that

whenever we say something and they get kind of caught doing something, they

try to create a simulacrum of it in Democratic land so it becomes just

offsetting penalties.


WHITEHOUSE: So, they try to make the Department of Justice of Eric Holder

look like the Bush Department of Justice or worse yet the Trump Department

of Justice. I can promise you, you never had a federal judge file a brief

in federal court written by another retired federal judge accusing the

Department of Justice of the kind of mischief and malpractice that we saw

in and around the Flynn case.

So, it`s political theatrics. There`s not much behind it. But, yes, I guess

you just kind of have to smile to keep your moral up about that stuff.

HAYES: I thought that Merrick Garland had a really interesting answer to a

question Cory Booker about sort of bigotry and anti-Semitism. I want to

play in case folks hadn`t seen it. But it also spoke to sort of how you

could conceive of the mission. Take a listen.

WHITEHOUSE: That is a great moment.


GARLAND: I come from a family where my grandparents fled anti-Semitism and

persecution. The country took us in and protected us. And I feel an

obligation to the country to pay back and this is the highest best use of

my own set of skills to pay back.


HAYES: I found that a really profoundly moving moment watching it was it in

the room.

WHITEHOUSE: It sure was. The country that took us in, that protected us

when we were fleeing from anti-Semitism, that`s a -- that`s a hell of a

story. That`s the American story right there and the fact that it rose up

in this fairly old guy with that kind of emotion at that particular moment.

You may have your doubts about, you know, how much fight or energy he`ll

bring to the job but, boy, you can`t doubt the heart that he`ll bring to

the job. And if he keeps his head in that place where he remembers what

kind of a country we are, we will do very well with Merrick Garland as

attorney general.

HAYES: You know, what struck me when he talked about -- he talked about

reconstruction and the role the Department of Justice played in protecting

the rights of the newly enfranchised freedmen in the post-confederate


You know, there`s two sort of histories of this department, right. It has

been on the side of a righteous guarantor of people`s rights and democracy.

It`s also been, you know, J. Edgar Hoover`s FBI sending tapes to martin

Luther King Jr. to try to get him to kill himself and red scare.

I mean, there`s sort of different dueling legacies in the Department of

Justice. And it really matters a lot how this administration is going to

remake it.

WHITEHOUSE: It does. It matters which legacy you attach yourself to

emotionally and which legacy you choose to honor. And when you`re also as

able and experienced and calm -- I mean, I don`t know if you noticed it but

we had some pretty challenging questioners. A lot of whom want to be the

Republican nominee for president, and they couldn`t lay a punch on him.

And he didn`t have any tricks. He didn`t have any quarrels. He didn`t have

any gimmicks. He just was a dead honest principal guy. And that was enough

to make them just miss every punch.

HAYES: Yes. I will say he`s someone who I know a fair amount of people who

have worked with, were clerked for, or been around and his temperament, his

judgment is really universally praised. It`s very hard to find someone to

(INAUDIBLE) around him. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, thanks so much for

making time for us tonight.

WHITEHOUSE: Thanks for having me on. All right, still to come, President

Biden doing something his predecessor did not. Tonight, honoring the more

than 500,000 lives lost. But here`s the thing. At this dark moment, could

it be the case the darkest days the pandemic are actually behind us? The

road ahead next.




Americans who have died in one year in this pandemic than in World War I,

World War II, and the Vietnam War combined. That`s more lives lost to this

virus than any other nation on earth.


HAYES: A few hours ago, President Joe Biden acknowledged a number that many

of us could not fathom a year ago. More than 500 000 people in this country

have died from the coronavirus. It`s a number so large and indecipherable

that it resists context. It is quite simply too much. You can`t give

comparisons. You can try to but it`s too much for us to understand

collectively. And it is too much to bear for those millions and millions

who have lost one person, one person they loved and cherished.

The President and the First Lady along with Vice President Kamala Harris

and the Second Gentleman commemorated the loss of life with a ceremony

tonight outside the White House. 500 candles representing a thousand lives

each on the stairs and balcony of the White House.

Across town, the bells of the National Cathedral tonight went for 50

minutes straight ringing 500 times to commemorate those we`ve lost.

We`ll be living with the aftermath of this for a very, very long time. And

it`s shocking and horrible as it is to think about what it means to lose

half a million people, there`s also this truth here in this dark pandemic

winter that this is the very first time in the course of this pandemic in

the last year that it seems possible that we actually are turning a corner,

that the worst might be behind us, and things may not get worse before they

actually get better and keep getting better.

To help get a better sense of where we are now, I think I`m joined by Dr.

Syra Madad, an epidemiologist, Senior Director of System-Wide Special

Pathogens for New York City`s Public Health System who has been dealing

with this on a day-to-day basis for an entire year.

First, Doctor, let`s just talk about the commemoration today. I`ve been

working on a piece of writing about this about how we think about this

loss. And it is just -- it is notable to me how little collective public

mourning there has been partly because we`re in the midst of it. How

important do you think it is, this sort of memorialization?


absolutely important. It`s important to understand the number of lives that

we`ve lost, the number of people that have been affected by this pandemic.

I mean, if you`re just looking at today`s milestone, that`s the population

of Atlanta. I mean, that`s a significant number.

And as President Joe Biden mentioned, you know, in order for us to move

forward, we need to heal and we need to make sure that we humanize these

numbers. That`s so important and. And for me and my colleagues and so many

health care workers that have been battling this pandemic either from a

public health or a healthcare delivery standpoint, you know, we face so

many different challenges and powering through the carnage that we`ve seen

for the past, you know, year it`s just unfathomable.

But we are meeting this milestone with hope seeing the signs that we`re

seeing thesis hospitalization and that trend certainly is very, very


HAYES: So, I did a monologue last week where I sort of made the case for

optimism, right. Like, here`s all the data you could accrue to make the

case for optimism. We don`t know the future. There`s best case and worst-

case scenarios. You responded with kind of I agree with this, a bunch of

other epidemiologists did as well. There are other people who think it`s

too rosy.

Where are you right now as someone again who`s there from the first day in

the New York City public health system dealing with the worst outbreak in

the world at the time? A year ago in this city, where are you at in terms

of whether you think we are -- there is light just ahead?

MADAD: There`s absolutely light at the end of the tunnel. And I certainly

am cautiously optimistic. I`m very hopeful looking at the trends. This is

not an artificiality in terms of the number of cases and hospitalizations

and deaths that are on the decline. You`re seeing, you know, a significant

and steady decline.

And what you`re going to -- what you`re also seeing is, you know, in this

current, you know, period that we`re in this pandemic, we have a huge

weapon which are vaccines, very, very effective and safe vaccines that

certainly can turn the corner that can really end the pandemic as we know

it. And it`s just making sure that we, as you`re hearing, this race against

the variance, the cases, and increasing vaccinations, so that`s very, very


HAYES: I want to ask you about messaging because, you know, in public

health messaging is policy. And I understand there`s a kind of prudential

caution. Dr. Fauci is talking about the possibility we`ll still be wearing

masks in 2022, and a real hesitancy to tell people look, if you`ve got

grandparents who are vaccinated and it`s been a few weeks, like bring them

to the house. They can hug the kids.

I get that. But it also seems to me that like, sending the message that

there is something different and better on the other side of the vaccine

seems pretty crucial in the messaging here. And the message that like well,

nothing`s really going to change after you get the vaccine seems a little


MADAD: I agree. We absolutely need more COVID optimism especially because

of the vaccines. And we need to make sure we`re painting a picture to the

American public to know that we have better days ahead with vaccinations.

If two individuals are vaccinated, they can certainly resume the, you know,

the pre-COVID life that we`ve had in terms of meeting indoors without a

mass things like that.

And I certainly do hope that we have more public guidance that comes out

very, very soon that can talk about the policy change and what people can

do once they`re vaccinated because that is what`s lacking. And that`s what

people are asking. I get messages from family and friends and community

members all the time, I`m vaccinated. I have another friend who`s

vaccinated. Can we meet each other? Can we do things indoors?

And you know, we want to see this from a public health standpoint and have

that guidance come out. So, it`s just really playing that ketchup right


HAYES: Right. That thing which is like what`s on the other side of the --

of this -- what`s on the other side of the second shot? What`s on the other

side of this winter? What`s on the other side of this? Like, you know,

meeting a friend for dinner indoors might be the thing that`s on the other

side of this. And that I think is a really powerful inducement for folks.

And again that has to be consistent with what the data shows us. It`s early

but I agree with you about how important that is. Dr. Syra Madad, thank you

as always for making time tonight. I appreciate it.

MADAD: Thank you.

HAYES: It has, of course, almost been one year. We`ve been living with this

pandemic. Our lives have all changed in ways we could never could have

expected. All that will be -- ALL IN will be marking the anniversary in the

weeks to come.

We`d like to hear from you. So, tell us your story in a short video about

your life under COVID. One story could be about anything, your job, your

family, your hobbies, what you cooked, what you miss, what you learned, big

changes and small. And then, send that video to us at

I really, really hope we can hear from you. We`re working hard to try to

commemorate this in an appropriate way as we come up on a year of this

pandemic. That is ALL IN on this Monday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW"

starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.




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