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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 2/25/21

Guest: David Holt, Ankush Khardori, Danya Perry, Jennifer Granholm�


The Pentagon is confirming tonight that U.S. military forces conducted airstrikes against an infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in eastern Syria. 32 Republican mayors and governors across the U.S. signed on to a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to take immediate action on comprehensive Coronavirus relief legislation. The Manhattan District Attorney now finally has Trump`s tax returns after the Supreme Court shut down Trump`s final attempt to keep them hidden earlier this week. President Joe Biden faces criticism for reopening a migrant facility for children in Carrizo Springs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You tolerate direct attacks on the embassy and on us service members.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much, General Barry McCaffrey. I really appreciate you.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT. Tomorrow, we will present a very special edition of this program live for the full hour with Dr. Anthony Fauci, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and other medical experts to discuss the racial disparities in America`s COVID response. Don`t miss it all. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight, on ALL IN. Republicans refuse to quit Trump.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS: If the President was the party`s nominee, would you support him?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The nominee of the party? Absolutely.

HAYES: Tonight, as COVID relief heads to a vote, how one half of Congress is ignoring a crisis in favor of viral content. Then, the game of keep away is finally over.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m not releasing tax returns because as you know they`re under audit.

HAYES: I`ll talk to tax fraud prosecutors about what the Manhattan D.A. is looking for now that he has physically obtained Trump`s tax returns.

Plus, fixing the energy grid in the wake of Texas. My exclusive interview with the newly confirmed Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.

And is the perpetrators of Trump`s disgraceful family separation policy try to create a new controversy, Jacob Soboroff on what`s really happening on the border when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. We start tonight with Breaking News. The Pentagon is confirming tonight that U.S. military forces conducted airstrikes against what they say is infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in Eastern Syria.

The strike authorized by President Biden is the first military action of this administration. And it comes in response to a series of rocket attacks on U.S. targets inside Iraq. According to the Pentagon, the strikes destroyed multiple facilities located at a border control point used, they say, by a number of Iranian-backed militant groups.

For the latest, I want to bring in NBC News White House Correspondent Mike Memoli by phone. Mike, what can you tell us about what just happened?

MIKE MEMOLI, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, this is interesting when you consider several things we`ve been talking about a lot in the last few days. One is a call that we also learned just happened tonight between President and the King of Saudi Arabia, King Salman.

There was an interesting moment at the White House today where Press Secretary Jen Psaki downplayed what seemed to be a delay in that phone call saying, there were some misreporting about when it was taking place. But in the statement that we just received from the Pentagon, it was made clear that this action was taken "together with diplomatic measures and including constant consultation with our coalition partners."

We also know that Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke with his Saudi counterpart. And Biden has been making other calls to regional leaders in the past few days. So, this suggests that this was something in the works for days. And it also comes as we`ve already begun to hear criticism of the nascent Biden administration from Republicans as they`ve made some overtures to Iran about reigniting that nuclear deal.

The criticism from Republicans has been that there needs to be some sort of clear signal sent to Iran, for their continued destabilizing actions in the region. And well, now we seem to have a response of sorts from the Biden administration. And in this statement, as well, from the Pentagon tonight, they`re saying that this operation sends an unambiguous message that President Biden will act to protect American coalition personnel.

We know, of course, that one of the conditions that the Biden administration has set for renewed engagement with Iran in this nuclear deal would be that any new agreement that they enter into would have to expand beyond simply their efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon and to include some of their other destabilizing actions in the region.

And so, as the Biden administration is beginning to make its foreign policy doctrines known, an important signal tonight here about their willingness to take military action in order to back up their statements about this on the record.

HAYES: Do we know what the results of the strike were? The wording from the Pentagon was infrastructure, which suggests buildings, but there might have been people in them. Do we know if that`s the case?

MEMOLI: No. And this is the earliest moments of just getting this information from the White House now. Clearly, we would expect to have additional briefings tonight, either from National Security Council officials or the Pentagon. But at this point, we don`t have more information than that, Chris.

HAYES: On that note, you said -- I mean, the sort of context if folks have not been tracking this, of course, is that there has been a long simmering and sometimes exploding, essentially, proxy war between the Shia Crescent in the Middle East, particularly Iran, and its backing of Assad in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Sunni powers, particularly Saudi Arabia, which is in very, very, very, very, very much opposed to any kind of Iranian encroachments, has engaged in war in Yemen.

And the Trump administration signaled from day one, they would be heavily throwing their weight behind the Saudis and the Gulf States, pulling out of the Iran Deal, going Saudi Arabia first. We`re with you 100 percent. Do whatever you want to do. The Biden administration now has signaled they`re going to turn the other direction. This is an interesting move in that context.

MEMOLI: Absolutely, Chris. I mean, the term that Press Secretary Jen Psaki used from the podium today was recalibrating that relationship with Saudi Arabia. No one perhaps better than Joe Biden understands the complexities, the nuances, the pros and cons of our relationship with Saudi Arabia as a former vice president, as the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Traditionally, we`ve seen Saudi Arabia as one of our key partners in maintaining regional stability, but that has changed significantly. And the Biden ministration has wanted to make a clear break from Trump administration`s overtures to Saudi. You mentioned it. It was highly unusual that the first foreign destination for President Trump was not Canada, was not Mexico, was Riyadh.

I happen to be on that trip. We all remember that famous moment of the president of the Saudi King in that orb as he was visiting an installation there. There was a belief especially among the Biden team, many of whom served, of course, in the Obama administration, that the Trump administration through there a lot too far, especially with Mohammed bin Salman, now the Crown Prince, he was Deputy Crown Prince at the beginning of the Trump administration, his attaining elevation to Crown Prince is in some ways the results of the Trump administration`s relationship, especially with Jared Kushner who built a close relationship with Mohammed bin Salman.

And when we saw what happened, of course, with Jamal Khashoggi, Biden during the campaign talking about Saudi as a pariah state, there was obviously going to be an effort to, as Jen Psaki put it today, recalibrate at best, that`s very diplomatic way of putting it, this relationship.

But I think what tonight`s action shows, and the obvious coordination, the consultations that have clearly been happening between American and Saudi officials beyond just the President and the king in the last few days to show that there is still a degree to which that we have to work with Saudi Arabia, that they need to be consulted, and that their role in the region is still going to be something that`s important in our foreign policy going forward.

HAYES: All right, Mike Memoli, thank you so much for joining us on Breaking News. We`ll bring you more information on these U.S. airstrikes tonight in Syria as we get it. Turning now to the ongoing crisis here at home.

You know, it was one year ago today, a day that I will never forget, a day that a previously unknown civil servant at the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, warned that the Coronavirus may cause severe disruption to our everyday life. She urged parents in this briefing she gave a year ago today, to talk to their children`s schools about remote learning. She said businesses should consider telecommuting options. At the time, it all sounded apocalyptic.


HAYES: This is a special edition of ALL IN. As concern about the rapidly spreading Coronavirus, tank stock markets for the second day in a row today. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn it`s only a matter of time until the virus spreads to communities right here in the United States.

The head of the CDC`s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said in a briefing today, "It is not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness."


HAYES: Now, one year later, we are where we are largely because the person in charge at the time, Donald Trump, was just not equipped to govern the nation in the crisis. He was equipped to host a reality TV show and attack people with his account. And so, he trolled his way through a pandemic, leaving us with 500,000 Americans dead, millions out of work, and arguably the worst year in American life in many generations.

And yet, the lesson republicans learned was not, don`t be like that guy. Instead, no, they see Donald Trump as the model for ascending in Republican politics. The incentives on the right are not to be an effective politician or to deliver for your state or your district. The incentives are to attract as much attention as possible by being as outrageous and even cruel as possible.

We saw this with Texas Senator Ted Cruz flying off to Cancun last week in the midst of a major crisis in his state, millions losing power, heat, and water after a series of winter storms. Ted Cruz thought was a good idea because well, he sees his job is podcasting and tweeting and sharing his takes, not really governing or helping people.

This is now a full-time endeavor for certain Republican members of Congress like the now-infamous Congresswoman from Georgia who was kicked off her committees after coming under fire for making bigoted, racist, and violent comments.

The Congresswoman is engaging now in a personal and gross attack on her colleague Marie Newman of Illinois following Newman`s wrenching, emotional floor speech about her transgender daughter in support of the Equality Act. That legislation, the Equality Act, passed in the House today. It would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Newman responded to the vitriol by placing a transgender pride flag by her office door, which just so happens to be across the hall from Marjorie Taylor Greene`s office, who then put up a taunting poster outside her door, as reporter Matt Zeitlin noted, literally posting, but printing out that poster and hanging it up on a wall, because that`s what she thinks being a member of Congress is all about.

And it`s not just her. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, once seen as someone with at least a kind of interesting, coherent ideology, lately, he`s been spending his days trafficking and right-wing conspiracy theories. Today, lobbing transphobic questions comparing gender reassignment surgery to genital mutilation at President Biden`s nominee for Assistant Secretary of Health, Rachel Levine, who would be the first openly trans-Senate confirmed federal official.

There`s also Lauren Boebert, the freshman congresswoman known for displaying her gun collection during the virtual committee meeting who has been busy complaining about the government "replacing moms and dads with bureaucrats" and about Hasbro dropping the Mr. And Mr. Potato Head.

Here`s the thing, though, all right. This is not what all Republican politicians across the country are doing. There are different factions in the Republican Party. There are Republican governors, for instance, even in blue states, like Larry Hogan of Maryland who well, definitely Republicans and doing a lot of things that liberals really oppose, my mind rightly. They are at the very least engaged in the act of governing.

Hogan has approval ratings close to 70 percent in a very Democratic state. But he`s got no national future in the Republican Party. You can clearly see that divide in what`s been going on with this very badly needed Coronavirus relief bill which probably will move for a vote in the House tomorrow.

Republican leaders in Congress, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, bringing their whole kind of posters caucus together to oppose the $1.9 trillion bill. While local party leaders from across the country, Republicans from Governor Jim Justice in West Virginia, to the mayor of Oklahoma City are saying no, they need it, their constituents need.

In fact, the mayor of Oklahoma City is one of 32 Republican mayors across this country who signed on to this letter to Congressional leaders urging them "To take immediate action on comprehensive Coronavirus relief legislation, including providing direct fiscal assistance to all cities, which is long overdue."

And the mayor of Oklahoma City, Mayor David Holt joins me now. Great to have you on, Mayor. Maybe we can just start with you telling us how your city is doing amidst this pandemic.

MAYOR DAVID HOLT (R-OK), OKLAHOMA CITY: Well, thank you, Chris. You know, obviously, we`ve had a similar experience to lots of other cities. Our death per 100,000 is a little better than the rest of the state and a lot better than the rest of the country, so that`s good. But we still lost 1,000 of our residents over the last year. So, that`s something we mourn deeply.

And then obviously, there`s the economic fallout. And that`s something that we`ll probably talk about in a minute, because it`s not only affected our small businesses, but it`s also affected our ability as a city to provide the services that people depend on. So, we`ve again, probably had a better situation on that front than most cities, but we still lost a lot and we`re still trying to recover.

HAYES: One of the most contentious issues throughout the whole last year in previous rounds of Coronavirus relief was some sort of federal relief for state and local governments. The mayors have -- that you signed on to explicitly cited that as important in this package. What happens to your city if there is no relief, if you just got to make do and chalk it up and carry on?

HOLT: Well, we`re down five percent in our budget or I should say in our revenue this fiscal year. And that has meant about four percent cuts to police and fire and about 11 percent cuts to all our other city departments. So, it means that we can`t provide services that people depend on at the level they expect.

And we`re also one of the largest employers in the city of Oklahoma City. We have 4,800 employees and we`ve had to freeze a lot of our hiring. In other cities around the United States, they have had to lay people off. So, I mean, that`s how it`ll affect us if we don`t get this support.

You know, we`ll live. I mean, the world will keep turning, but we`re not providing the level of service that our citizens rightly expect. And we`ve had the opportunity through previous, you know, federal actions to support our local businesses, to support a lot of other entities, but we haven`t been able to actually support ourselves. We have not been able to provide ourselves relief for our revenue shortfalls. And that`s what we`d like to see in this package.

HAYES: There was one point at which when this was first being discussed, that then-Senate Majority Leader, now Minority Leader Mitch McConnell referred to, and many Republicans did, as a blue state bailout. That they were going to take federal tax dollars and throw it at the liberals who were up to all sorts of crazy extravagant spending.

As a Republican mayor of a large city, like, what do you say to that? Are we going to give you a blue state bailout here?

HOLT: No, I don`t know a single mayor or governor for that matter who isn`t down and their revenues. And Oklahoma is a red state and our revenues are down. Oklahoma City`s kind of a purple city, but our revenues are down. I understand -- you know, I`ve heard those arguments. In my view, it would be, there ways to address the need in the legislation if you want to match the revenue -- you know, the support with the need, but everybody has a need.

So, to say that to not support cities at all or not to support states at all is a totally unreasonable position. Because whether you`re in a red state or a blue state, a red mayor or a blue mayor, your revenues are down, and your services are suffering as a result. That is a fact.

HAYES: There`s also vaccination money in this. And I see that some stats from -- you`re in Oklahoma, 16 percent of the population has received two doses, other eight percent has gotten one dose. That`s not bad. Would it -- would it help you to have specifically money for vaccination as supply ramps up, you`re trying to get all the folks in your city?

HOLT: Well, absolutely. I mean, we`ll put it to good use. We just -- really, we need more doses more than anything. We have been very successful here in Oklahoma City. We`ll get every dose that they send us, we`ll put it in somebody`s arm in seven days. So, we just need more doses. If more money into that means more doses for Oklahoma City, that`s what we need.

HAYES: If I`m not mistaken, I think you worked on the Hill at one point. You`ve worked in Republican politics. I think you`ve worked in the George W. Bush administration. When you look at the fact that Republican`s Congressional leadership is now against this and whipping against it, like, are you having conversations with your Republican senators, are you having conversations with Republican Congressional Caucus and be like, guys, what are we doing here?

HOLT: Well, we -- you know, I`ve gotten together with a whole bunch of mayors from the state of Oklahoma, and we`ve been on Zoom with our senators, and they hear us. You know, they understand the need. And I should say, I`m better off than most mayors.

You know, back in the Cares Act, 35 cities got over 500,000, got direct funding and we were one of those. We were the only city in the entire state of Oklahoma who got direct funding, so everybody else really needs it even more than we do. And we`ve articulated that. I understand there`s -- you know, there`s a lot of other things in this bill and people have to -- you know, our representation has to look at the big picture.

But I`m a one-issue voter. And if it helps Oklahoma City, and in this package, by the way, would help Oklahoma City to the tune of $116 million, I`m going to fight tooth and nail for that.

HAYES: Mayor David Holt of Oklahoma City, $116 million for Oklahoma City -- I don`t live in Oklahoma City, but it`s it sounds good to me, so I support you, Mayor.

HOLT: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Thank you very much -- thank you very much for making some time tonight. I really appreciate it.

HOLT: Absolutely. Be well. Thank you.

HAYES: All right, for five years, they`ve been out there unknown just out of reach, like the suitcase and Pulp Fiction. But tonight, Trump`s taxes, the actual documents, millions of pages of records of the real things are in the hands physically of prosecutors. They`re being poured over by the Manhattan District Attorney`s Office as we speak.

To quote TPM`s Josh Marshall today. "Sure, hope Trump didn`t do anything wrong." That`s next.


HAYES: Even though Donald Trump was acquitted in a second impeachment trial by 43 Senate Republicans, the legal exposure tailing the disgraced former President, as well as his family and associates is creeping ever closer.

For starters, the Manhattan District Attorney now finally has Trump`s tax returns after the Supreme Court shut down Trump`s final attempt to keep them hidden earlier this week. Investigators now has several million pages of Trump`s financial records in their possession, and crucially, it is more than just his tax returns.

As Andrew Weissmann who led the prosecution of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort points out, "The value of the Mazars documents is not in the disclosure of tax returns. That is available to law enforcement from the tax authorities. Accounting records enable a prosecutor to see how the reported tax numbers were calculated. The underlying data is key to proving criminal intent as it was in the Manafort investigation."

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is wasting no time getting to the bottom of those records, apparently. The New York Times reported earlier this week, Vance has enlisted a prominent former federal prosecutor to help with the case with deep experience investigating and defending white-collar and organized crime cases.

That is far from the end of the Trump family`s legal concerns. Court filing earlier this week revealed Donald Trump Jr. was deposed on February 11th as part of investigation into alleged misuse of contributions for his father`s 2017 inauguration. According to the filing by the D.C. Attorneys General Office, Don Jr.`s testimony "raised further questions about the nature of an invoice related to the inauguration and revealed evidence defendants have not yet produced to the district."

Don Jr.`s sister, Ivanka, was deposed in the same case two months ago. And of course, there`s Trump`s former campaign manager turned podcast host Steve Bannon who Trump pardoned in his final hours in office after prosecutors alleged, and this is really key, Bannon`s crowdfunding We Build The Wall Campaign took hundreds of thousands of dollars donated and use them for personal expenses. Basically, they accused him of ripping off Trump people.

It turns out Bannon may not be out of the woods yet either. There are new reports the Manhattan district Attorney`s Office, who just got Trump`s financial records, has also subpoenaed financial records relating to Bannon`s border wall funding scheme.

After decades of shady dealings, four years of corruption at the highest levels, it looks like Trump and a lot of these people are in serious danger of possibly finally coming face to face with consequences.

I`m joined now by two experts of prosecuting fraud and public corruption. Danya Perry, former New York State Deputy Attorney General and former assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Ankush Khardori a former federal prosecutor who specialized in financial fraud and who penned the case for prosecuting Trump in the New York Review of Books.

Ankush, let me -- let me -- Ankush, let me start with you and ask if you`re right now sitting in Cy Vance`s office or you`ve been hired by Cy Vance and, you know, the van pulls up to the loading dock in the Manhattan DA`s Office and they take the boxes out, what what`s the plan? What are you doing?

ANKUSH KHARDORI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: That`s an extremely complicated question. So, I mean, there are a bunch of different ways you could come at this. You know, I think as Andrew Weissmann correctly pointed out, the work papers here are going to be really important in trying to retrace potentially where some important figures originated and how they progress through the lifecycle and onto reporting.

But you know, one thing that they can do is zeroing in on certain types of disclosures and reporting in areas where witnesses may have already told them to look, or where news reports have suggested that there may be some problems, for instance, surrounding consulting fees that are being paid to family members.

And in other areas, you may just want to begin the long and laborious process of trying to line up these documents against analogous types of representations that were being made to lenders or potential insures. So, how you come at this kind of depends on what sorts of tools you have in your arsenal.

I mean, if they have people who are, you know, former insiders or cooperators who are already helping them, that can be a great.

HAYES: Right. You`re saying -- so if they pointed you to places where they`re representing the value of something in one place as something, you know, high for, say, investors, and then when they tax time representing it as much lower, and they`ve already told you that, you can -- you can look for that and the corroboration and the and the worksheet around it in the documents.

KHARDORI: That`s exactly right. But then, you know, that would only be really the start of your inquiry into that particular anomaly or discrepancy, because you would want to understand exactly how those figures were calculated, who all had hand in them, whether it`s accountants, lawyers, auditors, you know, what you can glean from documents, e-mails, from witness interviews.

You would want to speak to really anyone who had a hand in preparing the relevant figures and documents. And you would want to try to test and close off any possible benign interpretations of what may have happened, including, you know, aggressive accounting or aggressive interpretations of tax law, that may not rise to the level of criminality.

HAYES: That`s exactly where I wanted to go next, Danya. So, I`ll go to you on this, right. I mean, my understanding is, tax cases can be -- can be hard -- criminal tax cases can be hard to build. And the reason is that people can engage in -- they can make mistakes, or they can engage in sort of aggressive use of the tax code that doesn`t cross over into criminal. What is the line? What are you looking to establish if you are a criminal prosecutor, in this case, Cy Vance?

DANYA PERRY, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, NEW YORK STATE: You`re right, it can be a fine line. And I think there`s a tendency to oversimplify. You know, there`s looking from the outside in. You might think, well, let`s just look now. We`ve got the records or the DA`s Office has the records. Let`s look at the four corners of these records and let`s see what they show.

Do they show inflation of certain assets for certain purposes or deflation for certain purposes? But you`re absolutely right, Chris, that, you know, you have to prove -- a prosecutor is going to have to show willful and intentional conduct that you`re going to have to pin on individuals.

And so you`ve got to look outside the four corners of the documents. As Ankush just pointed out, you`ve got to look at the work papers, you`ve got to look at the business records. And, you know, the best of all scenarios is you`ve got an insider who can actually walk you through it because it can be incredibly complex and nuanced, and get you to intent.

And that`s really what it is here. It`s criminal intent. And that is not so easy from the set of papers and documents. It`s just --

HAYES: Right. The documents -- the documents -- it`s hard to make intent of the documents alone is what you`re saying.

PERRY: Exactly right.

HAYES: Ankush, there`s also the question of the timeline here, which I find sort of fascinating. I mean, one of the things that Donald Trump has done very effectively throughout his life, and I think it`s true of a lot of powerful people who pay lots of money to attorneys, is just drag stuff out. It just get longer and longer and longer.

You did -- you know, you stiffed some piano tuner at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, and it`s like, yes, maybe you can get paid in eight years if you track -- you know, track them down. They`ve already -- you know, he managed to kick the can down the road long enough to get out of the White House. What`s the -- what kind of timeline can you imagine here with something like this, given how many records, how complex it might be?

KHARDORI: Yes, I mean, that`s a great question. And I think the best we can say is that an investigation of this kind of complexity into this sort of area can take years plural, and that`s under very good conditions.

Now, the DA`s Office has been very impressively circumspect about kind of what sorts of things that they`ve done already, but it looks like investigation is still in its relatively early stages, that they didn`t do a lot of aggressive investigative work while Trump was still in office.

But -- so, it`s not entirely possible from the outside looking in to sort of assess kind of where they are in kind of the lifecycle of an investigation like this, but if it`s early on, I mean, it could be a long - - a long time before any kind of decisions are made one way or the other.

You know, as Danya correctly pointed out, you know, identifying culpable individuals with criminal intent and then trying to work yourself up the organization as high as possible, that can take a long, long time. And if this investigation really is in its relatively early stages, you know, I would be surprised if anything of any great consequence happens anytime soon.

HAYES: Danya, the last question for you is just about the broader context of this. Like, what -- you know, you worked in an office that I`m sure had political conceptions, right, running around the state attorney general. You do your job apolitically, but politics exists outside. Like, the thinking inside that office about this?

PERRY: You know, look, I`m sure, you know, to Ankush`s point, this could take a while. And I think I`m certain that the DA`s Office is going to take the time that`s necessarily but to also do it as quickly as possible while memories are fresh, while there`s, you know, interest.

There`s obviously a great amount of public scrutiny and public interest in this case, and so they`re not going to let it get stale. They`ve got -- they`re throwing all the resources at it. They`ve got, you know, consulting and outside consulting company, and they brought in Mark Pomerantz who is a very reputable and respected investigator and former prosecutor.

And so they`re looking to get this done. They obviously have been waiting for, you know, for the records. And they`re going to get to it as quickly as they absolutely can.

HAYES: The segment is served as an intro into why white-collar criminals get away with it and why white-collar criminal prosecutions are difficult and rare with Danya Perry and Ankush Khardori. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

PERRY: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Big news this week as America got its first look at the very first upgrade to the trusty old U.S. Postal Service mail truck. The first upgrade this century and I have to say it is pretty fun, nasty.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I appreciate everyone taking the time to share this exciting day with us. And now United States Postal Service is proud to present the next generation delivery vehicle.


HAYES: OK, I just want to say, this was controversial on Twitter. I love this thing. This gloriously endearing, busted-ass duck van is the beginning of the future of federal vehicles. Now, most of these vans are gas-powered which is not great, though they are apparently designed to be converted to run on electricity.

President Biden wants the entire fleet to be electric as part of his multi- pronged effort to combat climate crisis. The person who`s going to be in charge of figuring out how to move the country to a cleaner energy future as quickly as possible just got sworn in just a few hours ago. The brand new Secretary of the Department of Energy joins me for her very first interview on the job next.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America. Our win and our solar got shut down and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid.

RICK PERRY, FORMER ENERGY SECRETARY: If we were in the AOC world, fast- forward 10 years and everything is solar, everything is wind, there are countless lives that could be lost with this type of reckless adhering to a philosophy that quite frankly is not scientific.


HAYES: While politicians in Texas were lying about their energy woes, it was not chiefly caused by renewables, it was natural gas mostly. Exposed by this month`s massive winter storm and blaming them on the Green New Deal in a state that of course still gets the majority of its energy from gas and coal, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was busy volunteering on the ground in Texas, raising $5 million in relief efforts.

She also took time out to explain why a state like Texas will need a massive investment in renewable energy to help them weather the next storm.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): It is sad but this is part of our new normal as a country. And we`re going to have to really get really good at responding to these disasters swiftly and effectively, and also making the infrastructure investments necessary to prevent these kinds of catastrophic chain impacts from happening again. And frankly, you know, that is what the Green New Deal is all about.


HAYES: This is an enormous area for potential growth and win-win solutions for the U.S. It will upgrade the energy grid to make it more efficient. The person who will oversee a lot of that work to happen whether through legislation or through executive actions for the Biden administration is new Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm who was confirmed today by an overwhelming bipartisan vote.

And Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm joins me now. Secretary, Madam Secretary, it`s good to have you on the program. Congratulations on your new position.

HAYES: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: When you got the first message saying, I don`t know, you`re being vetted for Energy Secretary. I don`t know how the communication went down. Like, why Energy Secretary? Why did you want this job?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, UNITED STATES ENERGY SECRETARY: Well, first of all, Chris, for me as the former governor of Michigan, the place where the automobile was built, I am all about bringing clean energy jobs especially to communities like -- that have relied, as Michigan has for so long, on a product that is based on oil and gas, like the car, the internal combustion engine.

And because of what I did in Michigan, what we did in Michigan to diversify within the auto industry and outside the auto industry, it was a way to bring jobs, good-paying jobs to our state. And if we could do it in Michigan, certainly the state can be doing it.

We had -- before COVID, there were about 126,000 people in Michigan working in the clean energy industry. I`m totally obsessed about how to create good-paying jobs in America. And this is the most -- it is the biggest opportunity for us. In fact, the President, you may have noted, had a supply chain meeting yesterday with a bipartisan group of senators in the White House.

And honestly, if we can bring the supply chains for all of these clean energy products to the United States, and instead of letting our economic competitors eat us for lunch, the jobs that could be created for us in the U.S. good-paying jobs are boundless. So, that`s why, for me, this was the job of a lifetime really.

HAYES: The rhetoric on this is, as I`m sure you`ve heard, right, is always about two things. One, that clean energy is unreliable, which was what was trotted out in the wake of the Texas disaster, despite the fact that you had nuclear plants go down, you had coal and natural gas go down. And also that it will -- it will kill jobs, that this is all zero-sum and they`re going to take away your jobs. And, you know, I wonder how much traction you think those arguments have right now?

GRANHOLM: Well, I think that some want those arguments to have traction. But really, it is not politics that is causing us to move to clean energy and seize that opportunity. It`s really the market. These companies and countries across the globe are deciding that it is too much for us to see a planet that is in -- that has so many horrible climate events.

And Texas is one example of that, but California`s wildfires, and we can go down the list. You know, the story. So, the bottom line is these fossil fuel industries, unfortunately, for those who are working in them are seeing challenge from their market perspective.

So, the great thing about the Department of Energy is we are the solutions place, the laboratories, there are 17 national labs, and they are working on solutions to decarbonize fossil fuel, to make sure we have the opportunity to have baseline fuel that does not pollute, that does not spew carbon emissions.

Our goal in the Biden administration is to get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. And that`s exactly what we`re going to do, adding new clean energy to the grid, as well as decarbonizing the base fuel that we have.

HAYES: Yes, that that point you just made about the labs, you know, whenever you study the org chart of different departments, you find like, you know, different weird things in different places. But big part of the Energy Department are these labs. I mean, this runs one of the biggest -- outside the Pentagon, probably the biggest research operation in the U.S. government.

GRANHOLM: Yes. And you should come and do a show at one of the labs where we can look at some of the cool technologies that they are in the process of not just discovering, but now our Department of Energy, because a lot of these technologies need to be deployed, our focus is going to be both on discovery, but also deployment.

We`ve got to add as a nation a huge amount of clean energy to the grid, especially if we`re going to electrify for example, the transportation system, especially as more technology comes online and you`ve got to have more energy being put on the grid. So, we`ve got to upgrade the grid. We`ve got to add new energy, new clean energy. We`ve got to add gigawatts to the grid. So, the Department of Energy is also going to be in the business of deployment.

HAYES: Final question for you on the Department of Energy. A huge part of the department energy portfolio is nuclear safety and the nuclear program. I don`t know, I mean, are you just doing like a ton of briefings on nuclear?


HAYES: I`m serious. I`m just -- it seems like that would be an interesting learning curve. Like, there`s a lot of really technical stuff under your portfolio now.

GRANHOLM: Totally, totally. And, you know, I`m not a nuclear physicist. One of my predecessors -- a couple of my predecessors were physicists like that. But I, fortunately, will have experts who are nuclear physicists and nuclear scientists in the realm.

But yes, I mean, people don`t realize that the Department of Energy does both the security of the nuclear weapons system in the United States as well as nuclear energy and the research that`s going on there, especially like with small modular nuclear systems, etcetera.

So, yes, it is there -- on the nuclear side, it is a wonderful learning curve for me. But fortunately, there are so many experts inside the department who`ve got this -- who`ve got this down.

HAYES: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, former Governor of Michigan, I`m envious. It seems like that`s a difficult but --

GRANHOLM: Isn`t it great?

HAYES: It seems like a fun job. I mean, hard but --

GRANHOLM: And Chris, just one more thing about this is that, you know, the Biden administration wants to put 40 percent of the benefits of the investments in this clean energy economy, which you`re going to see in the jobs package next go-round, into communities that have been suffered from environmental pollution and also been hurt by the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy and fossil -- away from fossil fuels, I say, benefit from the investments and hopefully clean energy.

So, that commitment by this administration to invest in these communities is also going to be a big part of our portfolio that I`m very excited about.

HAYES: All right, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, thank you so much for giving us your first interview. Come back again.

We just hit a pretty significant milestone in the Coronavirus fight, 50 million vaccine shots in American arms. The Biden administration marked the occasion by inviting an elementary school counselor, a grocery store worker, two firefighter EMTs to get their vaccinations at the Eisenhower Executive Building. And the President talked about his hopes for a ramped up vaccine effort.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As hard as it is now to believe, we`re going to hit a phase in this effort maybe as late as April or May where many predict that instead of long lines of people waiting to get a shot, will face a very different scenario. We`ll have the vaccine waiting. We`ll have ramped up vaccine supplies.


HAYES: The White House is well ahead of its target of 100 million shots in 100 days. They said it on the campaign trail, they said in the transition, they said it in the White House. But as we`ve noted here, that target itself just is not ambitious enough. Last week`s massive storm across the middle of the country pushed the vaccination rate down. Understandably, you had you by entire state of Texas without power.

We had been vaccinating 1.7 million per day last week rolling average. It`s 1.3 million this week. That`s not good. But there`s reason to be hopeful. That weather pattern is gone. And the UPS says it expects vaccine distribution to jump by 40 percent next week, 40 percent. It could climb even higher if we add a new vaccine such as Johnson and Johnson`s vaccine.

That too is looking very good as documents released by the FDA on Wednesday show the agency deems that Johnson and Johnson vaccine is safe and effective. And by this time tomorrow, approval could be a reality. The Vaccine Advisory Committee is meeting all day Friday to debate on emergency use for that single shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine. It could be a game changer.

So, think about it. Less than 24 hours from now, we could have three approved vaccines. That can mean a faster return to normal. Just this past Monday, I spoke with Dr. Syra, Madad from New York City Health System about the kind of vaccine optimism scientists are starting to feel. It`s optimism we should all frankly be feeling. But as the President noted today, we are not out of the woods yet.


BIDEN: I want to make something really very clear. This is not a time to relax. We must keep washing our hands, stay socially distance, and for God`s sake, for God`s sake, wear a mask. Some of our progress in this fight is because so many Americans are stepping up and doing those things. And the worst thing we could do now is let our guard down.


HAYES: He`s right. We can -- we can turn this pandemic around only if we keep it together, if we do what we failed to do before. Look at this chart. That`s a chart of Coronavirus deaths particularly in long-term care facilities. That the red line, OK. Look at that red line. See the inflection point? See where it starts to drop just after vaccines begin rolling out? Look at that.

This is a turnaround that could be in all of our futures, OK. So, let`s avoid a fourth wave. Please. Just hold on. Hold on. Just continue adhering to public health advice. Socially distance, wear masks, don`t be indoors with a bunch of other people particularly not unmasked, if you could avoid it for another month, six weeks. We can do this.


HAYES: The Trump administration`s immigration policy is one of the greatest moral stains of recent American history. No aspect was cooler than the explicit decision to systematically separate migrant parents from their children, rendering them unaccompanied. Before a judge halts the program 2018, at least 2,654 immigrant children were separated from their parents or caregivers as a result of the Trump administration`s policies according to government data.

Well, NBC News reports that lawyers working with the Biden administration had found the parents of 105 separate migrant children in the past month. The parents of 506 separated migrant children still haven`t been found.

President Biden has moved to end numerous Trump immigration policies which preserve and fortify the DACA program, protecting people brought to the U.S. as children from deportation. But he`s also received intense criticism recently for reopening a migrant facility for children in Carrizo Springs, Texas, which can hold up to 700 children ages 13 to 17.

Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeting "This is not OK, never has been OK, never will be OK, no matter the administration or party." Meanwhile, the architect of some of the Trump administration`s cruelest policies, Stephen Miller, is trying to salvage his tattered reputation by claiming it`s actually the Biden administration that is pushing monstrous immigration policies.


STEPHEN MILLER, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Laura, what we are seeing here is the cruelty and inhumanity of Joe Biden`s immigration policies. He took a secure border, a humane border, a safe border, and he`s turned it into this.


HAYES: He oversaw the kidnapping of children. That man. It`s an audacious attempt to gaslighting by a man who pushed policies that brought misery and pain to so many people seeking a better life for themselves and their families. It`s important understand exactly what is going on here.

Here to help us do that, I`m joined by MSNBC Correspondent Jacob Soboroff, author of Separated Inside An American Tragedy. So, Jacob let`s start with this facility because I think one of the things that has gotten confused or gets confused in this is the difference between accompanied minors and unaccompanied minors.

There`s a whole population of teenagers mostly who show up at the border with no parent. And that -- is that the population this facility is for?

JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: That`s right. And you know what, Chris, I mean, I`m glad to be talking about this with you because I first learned about this on the night of June 13, 2018, the night I joined you for about seven and a half minutes after coming out of one of the permanent facilities in Brownsville, Texas, Casa Padre.

That was the former Walmart Shelter, 150,000 square feet, 1,500 boys in there 22 hours a day from 10 to 17 years old. That facility, the guy who ran it, Juan Sanchez said to me that night, because of the separation policy, things are going to get so overcrowded here. What you are going to see soon is unlicensed facilities popping up on federal government property. And that was when I think days before we got the announcement of the Tornillo facility that everybody found uniquely reprehensible down on the border.

But we should be really clear, these are not the Border Patrol facilities. It`s not the very specific central processing station in McAllen, Texas where children were kept in cages, which I also saw with my own eyes. And I think that there`s a little confusion about that going on right now.

HAYES: OK, so here`s -- just so people -- folks are clear. Look, we`re just talking about the population of children that show up at the border seeking asylum unaccompanied. They are processed through ICE, usually in really bad conditions. They`re not supposed to be held more than 72 hours. Often they are.

They are then transferred. And eventually, they`re supposed to be placed with Health and Human Services shelters through what you call ORR, right? Why are those shelters not -- why do they not have the capacity such that they feel the need to open this new temporary 700 kid facility in tents?

SOBOROFF: Great question. And the answer was different during the Trump administration than it is during the Biden administration. During the Trump administration, the answer was it was a manmade disaster, because as you said, children were rendered unaccompanied when they were stolen away from their parents that created this overcrowding condition, not only in the Border Patrol stations, but also in the permanent Health and Human Services shelters, which is where by law children are going so that they are not trafficked as has happened in previous administrations during the Obama administration.

The reason why the temporary influx shelters are being opened today is several reasons. Number one, there`s always an uptick around this time, during presidential transitions of people arriving at the southwest border, that includes children. They were preparing for this before the administration came in.

Number two, HHS tells us the weather. You couldn`t discharge children in Texas fast enough because of the weather over the course of the last couple weeks in the Texas area. And number three, and perhaps most importantly, because of COVID protocols, capacity at the permanent shelters is down.

And so, you know, I want to be clear. Do bad things happen in ORR facilities? Of course they do. There`s a lot of reporting. Aura Bogado has done an incredible amount of reporting on this. And I recommend everybody go check out the reporting and the research that she`s done. But there are oversight mechanisms for that.

The reason I think there is unique disdain for the idea that these facilities are being brought back into service is because they don`t have the oversight mechanisms that the rest of the system does. But that is the best worst option at this point for these children until they`re discharged to sponsors.

HAYES: Right. So, just to be clear, those ORR facilities, they`re around the country, we saw them around the country, and they`re run often by local nonprofits. They are -- they are licensed. There`s some sort of inspection. As you said, Aura Bogado has been an incredible reporting on this, has found some unbelievably egregious practices in some, but there is an accountability system.

The reason the immigrant`s rights advocates don`t like this -- they didn`t like it during Trump and they don`t like it now is that these don`t have the same infrastructure oversight. You`ve got people watching kids, you need structures of oversight. You`ve erect a tent area on federal property, and you don`t have that same accountability infrastructure.

SOBOROFF: And I think that there is a lot of callback to the Trump administration where not only the Homestead Shelter in South Florida was overflowing. We saw the Democratic candidates go there in the summer of 2019 during the debates. But also, that is the private company that operates Homestead that John Kelly, the former DHS Secretary and Chief of Staff was working for and being paid by it after having participated in the early days of the family separation crisis.

I think that everybody wants to see a move away from these types of facilities. At this point, there is not another option until the Biden administration either decides to take a pass of the TVPRA, the trafficking protections act that governs some of this, the Flores Settlement Agreement, the list goes on and on. It is very early in the administration, and they have not yet said if they`re going to chart a new course away from these types of facilities.

HAYES: Yes. And then, I guess the big question now is we also -- you know, we have had essentially the border frozen for a year by the Trump administration using essentially COVID as both reason and excuse. At some point, that`s going to end. There`s a whole bunch of different complicated pieces they`re going to have to undo with that, but we`re going to see what that brings, because there`s a whole host of new challenges that will present themselves when that happens.

Jacob Soboroff, who`s been doing great reporting on this for years now, thank you for being with me tonight. I appreciate it.

SOBOROFF: Thanks, Chris.

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