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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 2/23/21

Guest: Jeff Merkley, Shannon Watts, David Jolly, Beto O`Rourke, Loyce Pace


Tiger Woods was involved in a single-vehicle rollover collision

around 7:00 a.m. and was extracted from the wreck and taken to the

hospital. The Senate held public accounting on the security preparations

and failures during the Capitol attack. Republicans push the conspiracy

theory that the Capitol attackers were not Trump supporters. AOC and Beto

O`Rourke raised millions of dollars for Texans. CPAC organizers canceled

the participation of rapper Young Pharaoh after posting anti-Semitic views.

The Biden administration is trying to undo the damage of former President

Trump`s handling of the COVID pandemic.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time this



REID: And one more reminder to all of you to join us -- thank you -- on

Friday at 7:00 p.m. for a special edition of the REIDOUT. I will be joined

by Dr. Anthony Fauci and members of the Congressional Black Caucus to

discuss racial disparities in the COVID crisis. Go to to

be part of our virtual audience and to submit questions.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT. We`ll be back here tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. with

special guest Ron Klain, President Biden`s Chief of Staff. "ALL IN WITH

CHRIS HAYES" starts now.


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


insurgents beating police officers with fists, pipes, sticks, bats, metal

barricades, and flag poles. These criminals came prepared for war.

HAYES: America`s first real security hearing on the plot to attack our

democracy includes a voyage to fantasy land.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Plainclothes militants, agents provocateurs, fake

Trump protesters, and undisciplined uniform column of attackers.

HAYES: Tonight, what we learned at the hearing with Senator Jeff Merkley.

Then, how the Republican gun fetish is a staple of anti-government


Plus, Beto O`Rourke on the ongoing nightmare in Texas and what we now are

learning about the condition of Tiger Woods after a horrible car accident

this morning when ALL IN starts right now.


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

of today, as you might imagine, we`ve been falling one breaking news story,

the serious car accident involving golf legend Tiger Woods. According to

officials, Woods was involved in a single-vehicle rollover collision around

7:00 a.m. Pacific Time. He was extracted from the wreck and taken to the


At a press conference a little while ago, the Los Angeles County Sheriff

said Woods was conscious when rescue workers arrived and there is no

evidence of impairment at this time. He said, Woods may have been going at

a greater speed than normal. There were no skid marks. The vehicle travels

several 100 feet making contact with center median, went across opposing

lanes, hit the curb, hit a tree, and the vehicle rolled over several times.

It was his agent who said he suffered multiple leg injuries and was

undergoing surgery. We are waiting word on exactly how this happened.

Obviously, we will keep you updated with any new details.

The other major story today comes to us from Washington D.C where 48 days

since the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol that led to the death of

three police officers. We had our first public accounting of the security

preparations and failures and one of the most significant historical dates

in modern American history.

Until this point, we had heard nothing from the people responsible for

defending the Capitol on that day. But today, the Acting Chief the

Metropolitan Police Department, former U.S. Capitol Police Chief, the

former Senate Sergeant Arms and the former House Sergeant at Arms all

testified before a joint Senate committee hearing. Those last three men all

resigned following the attack.

Coming into this hearing, we did not have consensus on the timeline events

during the attack and we do not have one still. We still do not know

exactly what happened. Steven Sund who was the U.S. Capitol Police Chief

during the attack blamed former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving and

former Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, for the sluggish response.

"I notified the two Sergeant at Arms by 1:09 p.m. I urgently needed support

and ask them to declare a state of emergency and authorize a National

Guard, Sund said. I was advised by Mr. Irving that he needed to run it up

the chain of command."

Now, Irving pushed back against Sund`s account, saying he did not recall

speaking to him at that time, had no record of any phone calls, or text

messages from Sund and never said he had to run Sund`s request up the chain

of command. Instead of reaching an agreement about what went wrong, so we

can stop something like this from happening again, those men were

apparently quite focused on saving what is left of their reputations after

this catastrophic failure we all watch on national television.

And speaking of reputation savings, Senator Ted Cruz, fresh off that now

notorious and probably not that relaxing trip to Cancun, who led the push

in the Senate to overturn Joe Biden`s election, to deny him the sitting of

electors and voted to do that even after the attack, had since -- had this

to say about preventable behavior.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): This hearing is nonetheless productive for analyzing

the security decisions and law enforcement decisions that were made real-

time and for learning from them, what can be done differently to ensure

that an attack like that never again occurs.


HAYES: Yes, Senator, we all trying to figure out who is responsible for

this so it never happens again. His colleague, Josh Hawley, who was the

first sitting senator to announce formally that he would object to

certifying the electoral college votes, therefore making that day a big day

a point of interest, right, the last possible stamp the Trumpist. The

senator who infamously raised his fist and salute to the crowd the day they

stormed the Capitol. He was outraged today when a reporter asked that

perhaps he was complicit in this attack.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, what do you say to your fellow senators and

to Americans who believe that you were complicit in this attack?

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-UT): That`s outrageous. I would say, that`s absolutely

outrageous and an utter lie. And no one I think who knows any of the facts

alleges any such thing.


HAYES: I mean, actually I`m one of the people who knows the facts, a lot of

people who know the facts do allege precisely that, senator. In fact, the

idea that either of those men, Cruz and Hawley, who not only pushed the big

lie the election was illegitimate but actively acted to overturn the

election democratic process who made January 6th the big showdown day where

they could do it, where they could stop Joe Biden from becoming president.

The fact they were allowed to participate in the hearing is what strikes

many as truly outrageous.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson did vote to certify Biden`s election but he

has also been one of the chief spreaders of conspiracy theories around the

election and attack on the Capitol. He did not hold back today, my word,

reading a fact-free right-wing blog entry into the Congressional record.

JOHNSON: A very few didn`t share the jovial friendly earnest demeanor of

the great majority. Some obviously didn`t fit in. And he describes four

different types of people, plainclothes militants, agents provocateurs,

fake Trump protesters, and undisciplined uniform column of attackers. I

think these are the people that probably plan this.


HAYES: Fake Trump protesters. Senator Johnson says agents provocateurs and

fake Trump protesters among others are responsible for the attack. After

all the evidence we have seen in the literally hundreds of charging


Someone should Sen. Johnson the charging document of, for instance, this

alleged insurrectionist, Jose Pia, who was charged with felony counts of

obstruction of law enforcement and assault on a law enforcement officer

with a deadly or dangerous weapon and who allegedly wrote on Facebook

"There`s a lot of memes and posts flying around saying the people who are

fighting last night were Antifa provocateurs, etcetera. I just want to say

that as a first-hand observer of every point of last night that it was not

Antifa. They were patriots who were trying to restore the republic after

being attacked by the cops who struck first. Even those who broke the

windows next to the doorway to the Capitol were patriots trying to find a

way to turn the flanks of the cops."

This is a consistent theme. Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol are

really angry because Republican politicians and conservative media who are

supposed to be supporting Trump and his righteous cause are giving credit

for all their hard work to Antifa. The lie that Trump and his supporters

are not responsible for the attack, it`s already canon in much of the GOP.

You see it in the polling.

I mean, get this Trump himself tried this lie out as the attack was

happening in a phone call with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as the

Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler recalled. "When McCarthy

finally reached the president on January 6th and asked him to publicly and

forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the

falsehood that it was Antifa that have breached the Capitol. McCarthy

refuted that and told the president, these were Trump supporters. That`s

when, according to McCarthy, the president said well, Kevin, I guess these

people are more upset about the election than you are."

He goes right from they`re not my people to well, maybe you should listen

to them. You know, in 1951, political philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote in

her now-famous book, The Origins of Totalitarianism "In an ever-changing

incomprehensible world, the masses had reached the point where they would

at the same time believe everything and nothing, think that everything was

possible and that nothing was true.

And the profoundness of the cynicism is sort of the point of the

totalitarian subject. Oh it`s Antifa, no it`s patriots, no it`s Antifa, who

knows? But for a Trump supporter to look at a sea of people in MAGA gear

and Trump hats and be like yes, that`s Antifa, that`s concerning. But to

have a U.S. senator who is on the committee charged with overseeing the

security of the Capitol pushing that lie while two others who were part and

parcel of why that day happened, act shocked they could be accused of such

things, that is illustrative of the broader state of one of the two major

parties in this country.

Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley participated in today`s hearing on the

January 6th interaction and he joins me now. No cutaway cameras at this

committee hearing, but what is it like as a fellow senator to read into the

record this nonsense, this lie about who is responsible when everyone who

was around knows who did it?

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-): Chris, you know, we had this powerful opportunity

to finally hear from some of the key managers of Capitol security, the

chief of police, the sergeant at arms of the Senate and the House, and then

have these colleagues try to turn this hearing into let`s perpetuate the

big myth, the big myth that this had nothing to do with interrupting the

vote to prevent Trump from failing to become president of the United

States, to make sure that Joe Biden didn`t become president.

It just -- it was -- it`s astounding. And it shows the challenge we have in

America where social media and cable television can get stories out in kind

of the Trump bubble, media bubble that is so hard to break into.

HAYES: Have Josh Hawley or Ted Cruz ever apologized for what they did on

that day?

MERKLEY: Absolutely not. Not to my knowledge. If they`ve whispered an

apology in anyone`s ears, it certainly isn`t something shared in the Senate

community. What is it like to have them there as these sort of ostensibly

disinterested, you know, I don`t know, judges in a hearing or investigators

as it were, when you know, that date became that date.

It became the site of this, you know, largely because of Trump but partly

because those senators announced they were going to make it a contest. They

were going to have -- they were going to force these votes, they were going

to draw it out, and they were going to fight. And that`s what the crowd

wanted them to do.

MERKLEY: You know, I had echoes of the impeachment trial because there we

had the Senate as jurors, but some of the jurors were folks who had

perpetuated the big lie, led the effort to have other senators join them

in. And there they were today in the -- in the same hearing room kind of

continuing to provide the cover story as if they had no involvement or

engagement and it`s just kind of this is like a asteroid arriving from

outer space rather than something that they had participated in trying to

prevent the peaceful transition of power to a duly elected president.

So it`s a very strange and haunting moment. I could never have imagined as,

you know, growing up in Oregon and thinking about how the different

branches of government work to make checks and balances on each other and

people of integrity and competency proceeding. I could never have imagined

this happening here. We just have to keep pushing back in trying to put

adults back in charge.

HAYES: I felt somewhat frustrated by today`s hearing because i feel like I

don`t actually have that much clearer picture. There`s obviously a fair

amount of blame-shifting and score-settling and it`s a complicated

situation and, you know, I`m not really in a great position to sort of

second-guess the judgments of these individuals. It`s not my area of

expertise. But did you have the same feeling that we didn`t actually -- we

left with not a ton of clarity.

MERKLEY: No, absolutely. The basic message that the group of them were

presenting was this was an intelligence failure. We were not -- we were

thinking this would be like the million MAGA a march in November and the

second one in December and we didn`t have any indication to be any

different. And those didn`t become violence when they were in front of the

Supreme Court, so why would this one become violent.

And second of all that when they reached out to get approval from the

Pentagon to send the National Guard, the Pentagon slow-walked it. And so,

those were the two main messages that they were conveying. But here`s the

thing. There was an FBI report the day before reporting on far-right

extremists saying this is the moment to stop Joe Biden from being elected

and ensure Trump will be elected, that we will fight to the death to make

that happen, that there will be blood on the ground, that we must smash

windows and smash doors.

And that intelligence, when I asked the chief of the Capitol Police, did

that get into your hands, he said no, it was delivered to a sergeant, who

delivered it to our intelligence unit, but it never got to me. You would

think a manager, the head of the team would say, I`m supposed to make sure

that the channels of communication for important facts get to me so we can

make strategic decisions, and that didn`t happen and that`s on me because I

was in charge.

But there was no sense of any of these individuals saying, yes, I should

have done better. We should have drilled. We should on different strategies

where we didn`t drill. We should have had more training. We should have

equipment at a previous point in time. Very little uh sense that any of

these individuals were accepting responsibility for mistakes.

HAYES: And also points to my mind the need for some larger commission of

inquiry because the timeline of the Pentagon and the National Guard is

still unclear. We have reports about several officers who`ve been suspended

for possible actions that had that day -- again, none of this is in one

place with information that we know and I think we all need to see it.

Senator Jeff Merkley, who is on that committee and in that hearing today,

thank you very much.

MERKLEY: Thank you.

HAYES: All right, did you happen to see this the other day, this image?

This is what it looked like when freshman Republican Congresswoman Lauren

Boebert just zoomed into committee hearing the other day. That is not a

standard Zoom background behind her. That`s custom-made. That`s actually

per background.

Do you notice something different in the bookshelves? Not just a stockpile

of weapons sitting behind her. There is a deeper meaning to this image an

implicit threat too. I`ll explain right after this. Stick around.


HAYES: It`s been unclear for some time what exactly it is that Donald Trump

Jr. does. But like his father, he does love to make content. This week he

posted a video of himself ranting about teachers unions while pointedly

standing in a front of a wall of guns. The whole thing had a, here are my

thoughts from my bunker vibe.

But as weird as this image is, it`s kind of becoming a trend on the right.

Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert, owner of Shooter`s Grill in Rifle,

Colorado where guns are welcome and seemingly encouraged on the premises,

has built her political identity around guns.

Boebert to carry a Glock around dc and on Capitol Hill. She released a

video to make sure that we all knew it. Last Thursday, she zoomed into a

virtual congressional hearing with just a mess of guns piled on the

bookshelf behind her, AR-15 style rifles, a handgun just laying across a

bunch of books. Boebert who is raising four young boys later tweeted that

the guns are not in storage but are "ready for use." Apparently, she just

leaves them out because she fears she may need to fire multiple rounds of

ammo into someone who comes into her den.

You know, lots of people immediately noted that the use of guns in that way

as props and the implicit threat that comes with them has a, you know, long

not necessarily great history among various movements around the globe.

Osama bin Laden, for one, liked to pose in front of a bookshelf with a gun

prominently displayed.

The Irish Republican Army would display guns in its propaganda posters and

its murals. Cuban revolutionaries, they posed with guns all the time too.

And no single side of the spectrum has a monopoly on this aesthetic. I

mean, you can see it you know all over the world. It is unquestionably the

aesthetic of armed struggle of revolution or insurrection.

A movement or faction that puts images of guns as the celebration of guns

front and center in its political aesthetic is a movement that`s engaging

in something other than what we might call the normal rhetoric of elected

democratic politics. You can`t escape the meaning of it. It communicates

that they`re committed to or at the very least open the possibility of

violent overthrow of the government or the existing order.

And now, the Republican Party, it seems like it`s becoming common and

unremarkable. You`ll remember Marjorie Taylor Greene posed with this gun in

her campaign ads next Democratic members of Congress. She wears a mask

reading Molon Labe which is ancient Greek for come and take them in the

halls of Congress.

And that`s been used for bunch of reasons, but in her case the implied

message seems to be, if you try to take away our guns, we`ll start

shooting. Over decades, the right has built up this entire ideology around

the Second Amendment rooted in frankly the ridiculous idea that the U.S.

government itself denied itself a monopoly on legitimate use of force

because the founders had gone through evolution themselves.

And the history just doesn`t bear that out. It`s not true. Not now and not

during for instance the Whiskey Rebellion way back in 1794 when President

George Washington got into his old uniform and got on a horse and sent in

troops to violently suppress a violent tax protest.

Many Republicans are now signaling they retain the right to use violence to

overthrow the government at any time, that that`s actually the core of part

of their political principles in the Second Amendment. And they are willing

to brandish that claim as a threat in pursuit of their political aims.

And it`s not some academic thing, right? I mean, right now the threat of

violence and menace hangs over our collective political life. From the

armed protests in the Michigan State House last spring which included men

who the FBI says plotted to kidnap and kill the Democratic governor, to the

violent insurrectionists on January 6th. Some of whom vowed to kill any

lawmakers who wouldn`t do their bidding.

It`s become increasingly standard for the most hardcore devotees of Trump

and his faction to at the very least wink at the notion that they`re ready

to hurt anyone who gets in their way. And sometimes, the threat is all too

real. Here`s one example. Last year, an anti-feminist attorney who

described himself as a Trump volunteer, murdered the son of a federal

judge, Esther Salas, nearly killed her husband using a gun. Salas was the

target. The killer has also been tracking Supreme Court Justice Sonia



ESTHER SALAS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE: You know, we were screaming, Daniel,

hold on and don`t leave us. And then I just -- as I think about that day, I

just -- I realized i was watching my only child fade away.


HAYES: Shannon Watts is the founder of Mom`s Demand Action for gun sense in

America, staunch critic to the way some Republicans use guns for political

gain. With me is David Jolly. He used to be a Republican member of Congress

in Florida, and he left the party back in 2018.

Shannon, you know, politicians will often through my life as a political

reporter pose with guns in different ways. John Kerry and a duck blind and

Joe Manchin shooting a bill and, you know, there there`s a certain -- you

know, a lot of Americans really like guns. They cherish owning them for

sport. There seems to be a different thing happening in that Lauren Boebert

pose that says something different. It`s communicating something different.

What do you think it`s doing?


pure and simple, right? I mean, that`s the point of having these guns

behind them. They`re not saying, you know, we are here to demonstrate our

freedom. They are there to threaten our freedom. And that`s particularly

alarming given that just a month ago, we had arms insurrectionists stormed

the Capitol and they had enough live ammunition to shoot every member of

the House and Senate five times.

So, this has nothing to do with self-defense. You know, this is a dangerous

trend that really started on the internet years ago. I mean, you may

remember, you had Moms Demand Action volunteers on your show in 2014 who

were having lunch and these armed men in Texas pulled guns out of their

cars and sort of tried to intimidate them while they were having lunch and

it was an international story.

And now that behavior has become mainstream in in many ways because of the

NRA. You know, it is at worst about owning the libs and it is becoming more

and more about causing a second civil war. And really that`s why passing

stronger gun laws has never been more important.

HAYES: Yes. The sort of semiotics of it, the symbolism, the meaning of it,

David, to me is just really inescapable. It`s like I think the people who

are really into guns are like, well, this is just a thing that I love,

right? This is my hobby or this is this object that I think is super cool.

And so, you know, it`s protected by the First Amendment. It`s expression by

political identity.

But it`s like, if you show up my kids` little league game and you just

happen to be sporting the gun you really like, we`re all freaking out. I

mean, you can`t separate the two.


than even that. The danger that we`re seeing among today`s Republicans, the

examples you just gave, is the direct correlation between the imagery and a

target. Donald Trump Jr. talking about teachers unions. Marjorie Taylor-

Greene with her imagery of the squad as she`s holding the automatic weapon.

With Lauren Boebert, it`s this defense against the big government.

And January 6th, we saw a willingness to tackle that government. That`s

where the danger of the Republican Party moving from a party of less

government to one willing to undermine and kneecap and tackle the

government while leaders of the Republican Party are embracing this imagery

of the Second Amendment.

That`s where it`s so dangerous because that gets us to a world in which the

Oklahoma City bombing happened. And Chris, there`s two major deceits that

Republicans practice. The first is they conflate fundamental rights with

absolute rights.

Laura Boebert did that in her rant before the Natural Resources Committee.

She suggested that owning guns and taking them into the Capitol is an

absolute right. That`s not the case. All of our fundamental rights have

certain restrictions including the Second Amendment, including the first

with speech religion and so forth.

The second deceit Republicans practice is they know that there`s no

legislation that would pass the house and be signed by President Biden that

would take away gun ownership from law-abiding rightful citizens their

ability to own guns.

And so, they reframe it around this issue of freedom, that Democrats want

to take your freedom. And that is a powerful drug that they`re peddling in

this imagery that they`re presenting.

HAYES: Right. And then there`s this -- there`s a sort of ideology there too

which we saw in the Michigan -- we saw it in Richmond, right? Richmond to

me was part of the beginning of this. That`s when thousands and thousands

of gun owners converge in the capitol with their guns, right. And again,

it`s like, it`s a protest and it`s non-violent. But when thousands of

people with guns converge in capitol, that sends a certain message.

And Shannon, that -- you know, it feels to me like it`s gone from like we

like guns because we`re into hunting or target practice, to I need it for

self-defense, to no I actually want to retain the right to overthrow the

government violently. And that seems like a more and more mainstream idea

at the core here.

WATTS: Absolutely. You know, it is the logical outcome of allowing gun

lobbyists to write our nation gun laws for decades. Again, Moms Demand

Action has been sounding the alarm on this. We would have marches and

rallies and go to restaurants or stores and see people open carrying which

is largely unregulated in over 40 states in this country. And again, years

ago when I started doing this, the NRA called open carry down-right weird.

And then they changed their mind and they started to support it.

And really, the NRA has led us to this moment, right? They never miss a

moment to say the sky is falling and the only way to stay safe is to shoot

at it. And because at the end of the day, this is again not about self-

defense, this is about enriching gun manufacturers and gun lobbyists. And

for too long they have had so much sway over our lawmakers and our laws.

HAYES: David, there`s a polling that shows uh 39 of Republicans considering

that political violence can be justified. Now, of course, context for that,

you know, you can argue that there are some circumstances, the Warsaw

Ghetto for instance where it`s justified. But that`s a pretty high number.

And, you know, we`re also just living in the aftermath of like, a big act

of political violence in the Capitol to try to stop the peaceful transfer


JOLLY: Chris, this is the real life danger of where the Republican Party is

today. The first step in justifying violence is delegitimizing your victim.

And by Republicans suggesting that the government is not legitimate, that

the elections are not legitimate, it more easily justifies violence by

people who would consider taking this into their own hands through the use

of firearms. That is the danger with which Republicans are flirting.

HAYES: Shannon Watts and David Jolly, that was a great discussion. Thank

you both for your time.

JOLLY: Thank you.

HAYES: All right -- all right, coming up, in the face of a statewide

emergency, you might remember, Texas Senator Ted Cruz hopped on a plane to

Mexico. Beto O`Rourke on the other hand got to work. And Beto joins me



HAYES: Just one week after the Texas electrical grid known as ERCOT failed

and left millions of Texans without power during freezing winter storm, a

full third of ERCOT`s board handed in their resignations. Not one of them

actually lives in Texas, by the way. And while people literally froze to

death in the dark last week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton traveled to

Utah to talk about an anti-trust lawsuit against Google. Senator Ted Cruz

dipped to Cancun with his family before being shamed into cutting his trip

short, he flew back on Thursday.

As he flew back on Thursday, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-

Cortez launched a fundraising drive for Texas. Within two hours of

announcing her fundraising effort, she pulled in $325,000 in donations.

Days later, she was on the ground in Houston volunteering with some of her

Texas colleagues in the House and ultimately raising $5 million.

Former Texas Congressman Beto O`Rourke has also been stepping up to help

his fellow Texans. His organization Powered By People has raised over $1

million. He`s been going door to door checking in on folks, helping connect

them to various resources. And Beto O`Rourke joins me now.

First, I just wanted to get a sense from you of how things are there. I

know the weather got a lot warmer, power came back, a bunch of people still

with water issues or water damage. What`s it look like there?


I`m in the Rio Grande Valley. And I was in an unincorporated community

called Hargill. It`s about a thousand residents there. They lost power for

four days. Luckily they have that back on now, but they`re still under a

boil water notice which means they cannot drink what comes out of the tap.

So, along with other volunteers, we were distributing water there.

Folks are recovering. They`re getting their back -- their lives back to

normal but they are deeply frustrated as are millions of Texans across the

state. We`ve been to San Antonio, Austin, up to the rural part of North

Texas, in Rains County where it`s eight days and counting now where some

communities still do not have water.

And I think everyone understands this is not a natural disaster, it is a

man-made one. And the men who made it are still in power and have yet to be

held accountable for it. And folks want answers.

HAYES: Yes. You could feel, you know, in my conversations with Texans

through last week, this kind of dual sense of I got to bear down and get

through this and figure out a way to not have my pipes explode all over my

house and make sure my elders are, you know, warm. But like a rising rage

coming up in everyone`s throats really across a political spectrum of like

how in God`s name is this the situation in Texas.

O`ROURKE: It`s interesting. We were in a small community called Point,

Texas in Rains County in the northern part of the state yesterday. And I

think it`s you know pretty reliably red. In fact, one of the people who

volunteered with us had a Trump make America great again mask on as we were

distributing water.

But it`s interesting, his dad lives on a property that doesn`t have running

water anymore because of the power outage and the failure of the local

water utility, and they`re drawing water from the pond on their property to

drink. And he said I used to be concerned about COVID. Now, I`m concerned

about cholera.

And this is happening in the 21st century in the wealthiest country on the

face of the planet, in the energy capital of North America, a government

has completely failed us. More than 10 years of deregulation, decisions

made not to weatherize or provide for excess capacity or connect us to the

rest of the electrical grid has left people out and on their own.

And it has accounted for at least 30 deaths just in the greater Houston

area. And as you know, an 11-year-old boy who died in his trailer home, an

eight-year-old girl who died next to her mother of carbon monoxide

poisoning, and many other deaths. And probably many more than we will ever

know about, and none of them -- but none of them had to happen.

And as you said at the introduction, you know, folks want to blame ERCOT or

think that if the board members resign, then this issue is over. It is not.

The folks who made these decisions are still in power and we need to make

new decisions and potentially have new people in those positions of public

trust to make them if we`re not going to have this again, especially

considering that weather events like this because of climate change are

going to become more frequent, more severe, and unfortunately, they`re

going to be deadlier going forward. We have to change course.

HAYES: What do you see as the fallout politically? I mean, you`re saying

there`s anger and that this isn`t just about ERCOT. There are policy

decisions made at the state level. What does that look like and how do you

ensure that this isn`t one of those things where people kind of quickly

forget about it and move on to other things?

O`ROURKE: I think because of the great reporting that you`re seeing in

Texas and by national outlets such as yourself, folks are connecting the

dots. They recognize that Governor Abbott appoints to the public utility

commission that has the regulatory oversight responsibility and power when

it comes to ERCOT.

They realize that every member of the Texas Railroad Commission which

regulates not railroads but the oil and gas and energy industry in Texas

have responsibility for the development and transmission of our energy

resources that were completely stalled out over the course of this storm.

And people want answers and they want accountability and they want to know

that this is not going to happen to them again.

You know, the worst part about this, of course, has been the loss of life.

But you mentioned the broken pipes which have been produced, you know,

flooding in people`s homes, mold on their drywall that has to be pulled

out, so far, the most expensive storm in Texas history.

And then to add insult to injury, you have rate payers who signed up for

variable pricing electricity plan who got bills for $17,000, a school

teacher with a $10,000 one month electricity bill that is in no way her

fault. And she should not have to pay.


O`ROURKE: That`s up to the state government that failed her.

HAYES: Well, that seems like a layup for Texas politicians of any

ideological stripe. We should note the President is going down to Houston

on Friday to survey the aftermath. Former Texas Congressman Beto O`Rourke

in the Rio Grande Valley, thanks for making some time for us tonight.

O`ROURKE: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Ahead the cancel culture wars are so important to Republicans it is

the theme of this year`s CPAC, America Uncanceled, so it sure would be a

shame if they had to cancel a speaker after uncovering some old tweets

wouldn`t it? Yes, that`s next.


HAYES: As half a million Americans dead from the pandemic and millions

still out of work and hungry, conservatives have focused in on the biggest

problem facing America, cancel culture.



understand their cancer culture. We`re not letting them cancel culture us

at all.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Do you have a functioning first amendment when the

canceled culture only allows one side to talk?

JOHNSON: We`re witnessing the cancel culture purge being kicked into

overdrive here.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR-GREENE (R-GA): Cancel culture is a real thing. It is

very real.

JORDAN: This cancel culture is so dangerous and we have to push back. This

is the number one issue for the country to address today.


HAYES: The number one issue for the country to address today. He said that

like a week ago. The menace of cancel culture is so important it`s felt so

intensely that the whole theme of this year`s conservative CPAC conference,

the premier event for American conservatism is America Uncanceled.

Of course, the definition of cancel culture has always been really

slippery. I mean, almost every workplace, organization, political party, or

even conference of conservative activists has some lines about what kinds

of speech it thinks are acceptable and what kind is just aren`t.

Mostly conservatives are mad that non-conservatives are drawing lines that

they just don`t agree with. You can probably see where this is going. How

long do you think it took the America Uncanceled conference to themselves

cancel someone?

CPAC posted this tweet at 4 18 p.m. yesterday. "We have just learned that

someone we invited to CPAC has expressed reprehensible views that have no

home with our conference or our organization. The individual will not be

participating at our conference."

And with the canceled speaker going unnamed there, that could have referred

to well, any number of CPAC speakers who have expressed reprehensible

views. That`s sort of the whole point of CPAC. It turns out the America

Uncanceled organizers canceled a rapper named Young Pharaoh. This is him on

the archived version of CPAC`s page pushing to his social media which

contains posts saying Judaism is not real, along with anti-Semitic views.

Young Pharaoh had been scheduled to speak on Sunday afternoon just one hour

before CPAC`s keynote speaker, a man who was canceled by the voters of

America who reportedly said he would only appear if his former vice

president didn`t. Young Pharaoh`s comments were too reprehensible for CPAC,

but the man who helped -- whose words helped incite an insurrection to the

Capitol, he gets the keynote.

When we come back, as we pass 500,000 lives lost to the pandemic, a look at

how many might still be with us if it weren`t for the failures of President

Trump. That`s next.


HAYES: Tonight, Congressional leaders gathered on steps at the Capitol to

commemorate the half-million Americans who have now died from COVID-19.

Even though cases are now trending down, we`re still losing over 1,000

people per day on a weekly average, 2,000 just recorded today. And it`s

always worth remembering, important to remember, it did not have to be this


To choose two examples, the U.S. and South Korea, for example, both

recorded their first official COVID cases on the same day at the end of

January last year. South Korea immediately rolled out large-scale testing

and contact tracing and strong messaging en mass, the U.S. did not.

Here`s a chart showing new deaths attributed to COVID since the pandemic

began. The blue line is the United States. Deaths soaring, peaking

throughout the year. And the pink line in the bottom is South Korea. If the

U.S. had followed the same trajectory as South Korea, if we had the same

number of deaths per capita, we would have lost about 10,000 Americans

instead of 500,000.

And while it was impossible to truly know how many Americans would have

been saved if the previous administration had taken the pandemic seriously,

it`s pretty clear their actions caused irreparable harm.



DISEASES: The people who wanted to deny that this is something that was

serious when you get a signal from above that it might not be, then you

don`t do the kinds of things you need to do. I mean, I still have flashing

in my mind those scenes of when we were trying to tell people to really be

careful and avoid congregate settings.

And I used to see on television at night people crowded at bars inside, no

masks. I mean, that was just asking for trouble. And in fact, that`s what

we got, a lot of trouble.

HAYES: Now, President Joe Biden of course trying to undo the damage, to

bring the pandemic to a close by vaccinating the population, but just

basically doing everything the last administration didn`t, like you know

setting example and wearing a mask, asking Americans to social distance,

not listening to junk science.



awareness that, you know, injecting bleach into your system doesn`t do it

for you. I being -- you know, I mean, think about all the -- all the

ridiculous things. And there is online still, there are those who are the,

you know, the vaccine --


BIDEN: -- deniers.


BIDEN: And telling all these stories about what`s -- that aren`t true.


HAYES: It`s going to take a lot to change the trajectory that has unfolded

in America over the past year. Hear talk about what went so wrong, what

needs to be done to make it right, one of the members of Joe Biden`s

transition COVID-19 advisory board, president executive director of the

Global Health Council Loyce Pace. It`s great to have you.

You know, we talked about -- talked about South Korea in the intro, but

South Korea was a A-plus student, right? They did what -- they had one of

the best responses in the world. And in fact, throughout the pacific,

across governments and with different forums and institutions, Vietnam,

Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New

Zealand, they all did a really good job.



But even if you -- if you compare us to the European Union or Canada, where

do we stack up? Where is the U.S. in our response if you -- if you just

look at these sort of Atlantic countries?

PACE: Yes, you know, Chris, I can appreciate the laundry list of countries

that really are were ahead of us in their own response. And I think it`s

important to step back and not just look at the 500 -- the milestone that

we hit yesterday with 500,000 deaths which is just heartbreaking and

infuriating. But even just think about what that means in the scope of the

rest of the world, right, the U.S. actually is taking up or accounting for

20 percent of global deaths and 25 percent of cases that makes no sense

given we aren`t even five of the world`s population.

And so in addition to the countries you mentioned, you know, you do have a

host of others that have demonstrated frankly that leadership matters,

right, and that it`s critically important that no matter what you know, you

have to do right by the people you`re serving. And that`s frankly what we

didn`t see in this past year with this pandemic.

HAYES: How much should we think about this -- I mean, there`s a few things

that make America exceptional, distinct here, right? So, one is Donald

Trump was president. Then there`s the nature of America`s general baseline

health and particularly health inequities that were there before Donald

Trump. And then there`s the degree to which America`s public health

infrastructure is not that good.

Like, where do you apportion those different points of blame?

PACE: Yes, you know, I wonder if we spread the blame sort of equally across

each of those because this certainly was a problem uh before 2020 when the

pandemic was upon us. We know that health disparities were a thing

regardless of what happened in the past year.

And so, you`re absolutely right. Our solution has to be focused not only on

correcting the mistakes or placing any blame, we have to really go back and

really dig deeply into the roots of this very problem and understand how it

turned out, how we ended up with rates of hospitalization and deaths two

and three times than in certain communities particularly in Black, Brown,

and indigenous communities.

That`s unconscionable and we see that trend actually worldwide where Black

and Brown folk are suffering and struggling with the impact of this.

HAYES: Well, I just want to ask you though. Is that -- is that a

sociological factor? Is that -- is that a policy leadership fact, right?

Like, when --

PACE: I think it`s absolutely tied to policy. We know that public health is

of course scientifically based on its own in its own right, but we are

powerless without the policy and without political leadership.

HAYES: I guess, I mean, do you think it`s policy specific to the U.S. COVID

response or broader -- I mean, you know what I mean? Like, it`s -- I agree

with you. It`s clearly policy, right? We make choices to have racial

inequities in this country. We make them every day. But those racial

inequities and the fact that they put people on the front line in so many

ways whether it was the work they had to do or the comorbidities that were

produced by the environments in which they lived and the access to health

care they had before or if it was like the guy at the top was saying

injecting bleach was the solution and telling people to get out there like

they were warriors.

PACE: Yes. And I -- and I think it`s both and not either or. It`s really

hard to choose one or the other. And the leadership or the lack thereof was

not helpful. Let`s be clear, right? We really needed our government, people

from the very top on down to step up. And I`m grateful, frankly, for the

career staff and others who really held the line, who really ensured that

people still had correct information because myths and misinformation are a

variable thing that we`re fighting against now. And it`s harder to catch up

when all of that is out there.

It`s also critical that now there`s a plan for not just vaccine

distribution right, but testing and tracing. This is what other countries

did right as well. You had, even the U.K. which struggled in its response

frankly, when these variants emerged, the fact that they were actually able

to identify them and address them is critical.

And that -- those are the types of systems we didn`t already have in place

before now and we`re just playing catch-up.

HAYES: Right. And those systems, I mean, I think that we`re going to

hopefully get to a point where we have vaccination suppression, you know,

at some point this summer. But we know it`s seasonal and there will be, you

know, next fall and winter. There`ll be ways in which we have to battle it,

and we`re going to need those systems in place then particularly.

PACE: Absolutely. And I would even say, you know, we don`t really quite

understand the virus fully to know that we have even that long to wait.

HAYES: Right. Yes, that`s a good point.

PACE: And so that`s why we`re still saying it`s critically important to

practice those public health measures regardless of where we are in the

calendar or even in our trajectory with vaccines because we -- it`s

changing before our eyes. And particularly, until we can catch up, it`s

going to continue to beat us.

HAYES: Yes, that`s an important point. And I don`t want to -- like, we got

to just hold on. It`s like -- it`s at the end of a car ride where you`ve

been fine for the nine hours and now the last 10, 15, 20 minutes just seem

unbearable. And I think a lot of people in that mental state, but with just

a certain amount of consistent messaging and discipline we all need.

PACE: Yes, I know. And I understand that people are tired too, right? I

mean, I do this for a living and I am exhausted not just because of getting

up every day trying to fight this thing but because i too miss my friends

and family, and I too wish this were all over and it just isn`t. And

unfortunately, we do have ways to go.

I have faith that we can continue to stand strong and understand that we`ve

made it through tough times before frankly as a country. I think we pride

ourselves on that. And I know it sounds rather cliche but that`s what I`m

still --

HAYES: We can do it. All right, hang in there. Loyce Pace, thank you so

much for making time. Come on back. That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE

RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.




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