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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 3/29/21

Guests: Benjamin Crump, Jaime Harrison, Tammy Duckworth, Jean Guerrero


It`s day one of Derek Chauvin`s murder trial. DNC Chair Jaime Harrison talks about the GOP push to make it harder for Americans to voter. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is interviewed on the Republican efforts to downplay the attack on the Capitol and on filibuster. CDC Director warns the U.S. is facing an impending doom amid COVID-19 case spike. Stephen Miller is running point for GOP on immigration.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, it`s a lot that`s going on in there that the people on the outside don`t understand.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Well, thank you for helping us to understand it this evening and being with us this evening. Bishop William Barber, Jennifer Bates, thank you both very much. And that is tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


MEHDI HASAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN. The Derrick Chauvin murder trial has begun.

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTOR: You can believe your eyes that it`s homicide. It`s murder. You can believe your eyes.

HASAN: Tonight, Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump on opening arguments and the defense position that the crowd was to blame.

ERIC NELSON, DEREK CHAUVIN`S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There is a growing crowd causing the officers to divert their attention from the care of Mr. Floyd.

HASAN: Then, DNC Chair Jaime Harrison on the new state trying to bother handing out of water at voting lines. Senator Tammy Duckworth on her new memoir on anti-Asian hatred and the filibuster. Plus, how is this guy now the Republican thought leader on immigration? And the dire new COVID warning from the director of the CDC.

ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CDC: I`m going to lose the scratch and I`m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom.

HASAN: ALL IN starts now.


HASAN (on camera): Good evening from Washington D.C. I`m Mehdi Hasan in for Chris Hayes. For the past year, we have been inundated with numbers, facts, statistics, how many electoral votes in every tightly contested state, the record number of jobless claims and the staggering charts of COVID cases, hospitalizations, deaths.

But today, one number stands out above all the rest, nine minutes and 29 seconds. Because that is the number that dominated a Minneapolis courtroom today in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who is charged with murdering George Floyd last spring.

When Floyd was first killed, videos from the scene showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd`s neck for an extended period of time. Even as Floyd could be heard saying he was in pain and could not breathe. But Chauvin`s lawyers, not unexpectedly, blamed everything and everyone except Derek Chauvin. He said Floyd was killed by an underlying heart disease, by his use of fentanyl. They said he resisted arrest and actually blamed the crowd that gathered as Chauvin knelt on Floyd`s neck.


NELSON: There are people across the street, there are cars stopping, people yelling, there are -- there is a growing crowd in what officers perceive to be a threat. They`re called names. You heard him this morning, a (BLEEP). They`re screaming at them, causing the officers to divert their attention from the care of Mr. Floyd to the threat that was growing in front of them.


HASAN: Yes, what could the police have done to deescalate that situation, to pacify that crowd they saw as such a threat. They were so distracted is the argument that they forgot not to kill someone. Now, the prosecution wasn`t having any of it, staying focused on what they say was the nine minutes and 29 seconds that Officer Chauvin refused to get off of George Floyd.


BLACKWELL: Police officers have difficult jobs. They have to make split- second decisions. They sometimes have to make split-second life and death decisions. This case is about Mr. Derek Chauvin and not about any of those men or women and is not about all policing at all.

And this case is not about split-second decision making. In nine minutes and 29 seconds, there are 479 seconds, not a split second among them.


HASAN: The prosecution played for the jury a powerful video shot by a bystander that shows the entire incident that led to George Floyd`s tragic death, including the crowd that gathered which was literally begging the police to let him breathe. They also played a video of the incident shot from a different angle, a fixed police camera across the street.

The first witness for the prosecution was the 911 dispatcher, who watched this feed in real-time as she was trying to do her job. And this was how she described watching that feed live when she looked back from focusing on her job.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so, when you did look back, still on the ground, like depicted here, essentially.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did you think about this when you look back and saw that it hadn`t changed?

SCURRY: I first asked if the screens had frozen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you ask that?

SCURRY: Because it hadn`t changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And did you find that it had frozen?



SCURRY: I was told that it was not frozen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see the screen change yourself?

SCURRY: Yes, I saw the person is moving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what did you start thinking at that point?

SCURRY: Something might be wrong.


HASAN: She thought something might be wrong. So, what did she do, this 911 dispatcher who works with police officers all day every day? She called the police officer sergeant to report the use of force. The only time she says she has ever done that. It was clear to her at that moment that something was wrong, just as it was clear to the crowd that gathered and begged officer Chauvin to get off of George Floyd.

But even though it was obvious at the time, this trial stands out, because police officers are so very rarely brought to trial, no matter the circumstances. The New York Times reported in September "Law enforcement officers kill about 1,000 people a year across the United States. Since the beginning of 2005, 121 officers have been arrested on charges of murder or manslaughter. Of the 95 officers who have cases have concluded, 44 were convicted, but often on a lesser charge."

Because of that, this case is bigger than the murder of one man. It is the rare opportunity for a jury to hold law enforcement accountable and send our entire nation a larger and absolutely crucial message that Black lives do matter.

Veteran Civil Rights Attorney Benjamin Crump leads the legal team representing the family of George Floyd. He`s represented the family of Trayvon Martin, as well as the families of victims of police violence, including Michael Brown Jr., Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake, and he joins me now.

Benjamin, thanks so much for coming on the show tonight. What is your takeaway from day one of this trial?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, LAWYER REPRESENTING FLOYD FAMILY: Well, I thought that the prosecution was very powerful from beginning to the end of the day, with the opening statements where they educated all of us that it wasn`t eight minutes and 46 seconds, but it was nine minutes and 29 seconds that Derek Chauvin torch it George Floyd to death with his knee on his neck.

And then the first witness was a bombshell. The fact that this 911 dispatcher said that I didn`t want to be a snitch, but I knew what I was witnessing in that video was wrong. They were killing a man. And so I thought that was so impactful to start the trial off.

And they ended the trial there (INAUDIBLE) with Donald Williams, when he talked about the humanity within him that after he went fishing and watched a fish suffocate from lack of oxygen, and then to witness a human being George Perry Floyd, Jr. suffocate from a lack of oxygen, how you can`t be human, and that don`t affect you.

However, it didn`t seem to affect Derek Chauvin at all. It was intentional him keeping his knee on his neck.

HASAN: Of course -- of course, the defense rejecting the claim that he suffocated to death. They are claiming he had underlying health conditions. They`re saying he used drugs. They`re trying to pass the blame onto all of these other factors, even blaming the crowd for distracting the police. Do you think anyone on the jury will buy that after watching the video they saw today because they only need one juror?

CRUMP: Well, I pray that they won`t, but I`ve been a civil rights attorney for all of my professional life, that I have been Black all my life. And we all know that we can never take for granted that a police officer will be held accountable for killing a black person unjustifiable.

So, even though we think the video is very compelling, that we understand that this is a referendum on can Black people get equal justice in America.

HASAN: Yes. Well put. Let me ask you this, Benjamin. Earlier this month, the city of Minneapolis agreed to settle a civil lawsuit from George Floyd`s family for $27 million. How do you feel about that decision? And do you think it impacts the trial of Derek Chauvin that we`re seeing right now, that the jury might think, well, justice has already been done. He already got -- the family have already gotten this big payout. No need to send this guy to jail too.

CRUMP: As the attorney for George Floyd`s family, with my great co- counsels, we lead that effort and doing what we were retained to do and that is to get civil justice under the Seventh Amendment of the United States for the family of George Floyd.

And now, we`re looking to Attorney General Keith Ellison and his prosecutors to give George Floyd`s family that justice, the criminal justice under the 10th Amendment that says state governments have to hold people accountable for committing criminal acts against other citizens.

Why is it that Black people should not be afforded for justice, that we should only have to be content with getting partial justice, when the Diamond family, a white woman was killed right here in Minneapolis, Minnesota and her family received $20 million. Nobody said that well, maybe her family shouldn`t be afforded criminal justice.

HASAN: That`s a very good point.

CRUMP: No, right now America, you have to live up to your high ideals of equality and justice for all. That means Black people too, America.

HASAN: And you talk about being Black in America and what black people had to face in terms of waiting for police to be held accountable. Of the three Louisville police officers who fired their weapons into Breonna Taylor`s apartment, killing her, only one was charged. And he was charged with endangering Taylor`s neighbors when his bullets pass through Taylor`s walls and enter the neighbor`s apartment. What is the difference between these two incidents, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, that led to a murder charge here and almost nothing in Louisville?

CRUMP: Well, I think, obviously, the video is a very graphic, it galvanize people in cities all across America, in fact, cities all across the world. It is the most-watched murder of a citizen by the police in American history. The internet says it`s been viewed over 15 million times and it`s probably been viewed on television just as much.

So, I think that`s what makes this case different from Breonna Taylor`s case who I was honored to represent her family as well. And we must remember that they when people say this is a hard case, this is a difficult case, we rebuke that. This is not this murder case is not hard when you look at this torture video of George Floyd.

Had George Floyd been a White American, citizen nobody would say this is a difficult case. They would scream bloody murder and expect justice to be swift. It`s only because George Floyd was an African-American that they now engage in this intellectual justification of discrimination.

HASAN: It`s a very good point. And you`re right about the crowd and the cameras. The defense lawyers are trying to blame the crowd today. The irony is, without the crowd on those cameras, we wouldn`t be having a trial like this. Benjamin Crump, thank you so much for your time and your insights. I appreciate it.

CRUMP: Thank you, brother.

HASAN: Next, the new voter suppression tactic in Georgia that`s so brazenly ridiculous that even South Carolina GOP Senator Lindsey Graham can`t summon an excuse to defend it. I`ll ask DNC Chair Jaime Harrison how they plan to stop other states from following suit, after this short break.



CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: Senator, why on earth if Americans are willing to wait in hours to vote would you make it a crime for people to come and give them a bottle of water?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Well, all I can say is that that doesn`t make a whole lot of sense to me. I agree with you there.


HASAN: Even Senator Lindsey Graham, even him, even Lindsey cannot defend the new an awful legislative attack on voting rights and voter access in Georgia that everyone is talking about. As indefensible as that Georgia law is though, the rest of his party are fully on board.

In Florida, for example, Republicans are now trying to make it harder to vote by mail in a blatant move to suppress voting. Obviously, Georgia was won by Joe Biden, but Florida was actually won by Trump, and yet Republicans are still doing this stuff. They`re basically being meticulous in making sure there are no swing states next time around.

Anywhere Republicans can prevent Democrats from squeezing out a close win, they will do it. Remember, there are now 253 bills trying to restrict voting in 43 states. This is not just Georgia. Georgia is just the beginning. So, what do we do about it?

I want to bring in Jaime Harrison, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the DNC. Thanks so much for joining me tonight. Jaime, The Republicans say they`re not trying to prevent thirsty people in long voter line from getting water, they`re trying to prevent bribery, which is preposterous, is it not?

JAIME HARRISON, CHAIRMAN, DNC: It is preposterous. And if they weren`t, why is Florida also thinking about making it illegal in Florida to provide water and food to folks hanging in line? And I can guarantee you, you know, the people who stand in line longer? You know which communities those are? Those are the communities of people of color.

If you take a look at the time in which Black folks and Brown folks, Native folks stand in line to vote much longer, why is that the case, because they don`t have all the voting machines that are normally allocated into some White community.

And so, Mehdi, what we see here is Jim Crow 2.0. Let`s just call it what it is. And it`s embarrassing. It`s sad. In a nation in which we send our sons and daughters overseas to fight for democracy and other country and they risk life and limb for democracies in other places, we got Republicans in this country who do every damn thing that they can in order to prevent and prohibit people from exercising their right to vote, and that`s just not right.

And we as a party, the Democratic Party is going to do everything that we can to fight against it.

HASAN: You`re absolutely right about the discrepancy in the lines between people of color and white people. The irony is in Georgia, of course. They`re trying to limit access to voting by reducing things like mobile polling stations. So, the lines get longer, but then it`s harder to stay in line because you can`t have any refreshments. It`s double whammy.

Jaime, you say the Democratic Party is going to do everything in its power to stop this. Some might say, look, we`ve heard this before. Actions matter more than words. If Congress, if the Senate, if Democrats in the Senate who are the majority party, don`t get rid of the filibuster, then H.R.1, the For The People Act has no chance of getting through and reaching Joe Biden`s desk.

How do you get the holdouts in your party, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema on board protecting democracy and the right to vote?

HARRISON: Well, you know, I`m going to leave -- I used to be a vote counter back in the day for Mr. Clyburn in the majority whip`s office. I don`t envy the task that Chuck Schumer has in terms of getting those votes together in the Senate. But this is what I can control, Mehdi. It is how do I make sure that we get more votes in the United States Senate in order to make sure that things like this never happen again.

And that`s my job at the DNC is to make sure that we can maximize and get more Democratic senators into the United States Senate to make sure that Mitch McConnell never again gets his hand on that gavel.

HASAN: I mean, with respect, Jaime, I understand that you don`t want to comment on individual senators. But when you say I want to get more Democrats into the Senate, a lot of voters will say, we did. We went to the polls. We won the Senate. We went in Georgia in the runoffs. We did it. We pulled off a victory, a close victory, but we have control of the Senate, Democrats would say.

And yet the block right now is not necessarily just Republicans who don`t want to vote H.R.1, it`s Democrats who don`t want to get rid of the filibuster, even for H.R.1, this talk of a democracy exception. Do you support that? Would you say that`s a good temporary way forward that you don`t have to get rid of the whole filibuster, just get rid of it for H.R.1 to protect voters in Georgia and Florida./

HARRISON: Mehdi, this is my belief. We got to do everything that we can. And right now, I`ll give -- I`m going to give Senator Schumer all the freeway that he needs to in order to make the deal that he has to. But I have been very clear to everybody, these rights -- and it shouldn`t be a Democrat versus Republican thing. This is about the Americans right to vote. It`s our most sacred right as American people.

It`s the foundational right in which all other rights are built upon. And when that is chipped away, and when that is taken away, everything else falls down. And so I again, I`m not going to -- you know, Senator Schumer will take whatever he needs to do in order to get this done. But they understand this, that we need to demonstrate to the American people that we stand up for the sacred right of voting. And so I hope that he will use every trick in this book. We used it in the House to do just that.

HASAN: OK. So, let me -- I won`t ask you to count votes anymore, but I will ask you for your opinion. You very plainly and bluntly and rightly said this is Jim Crow 2.0. Let`s call it what it is. Would you say the filibuster is also a Jim Crow filibuster?

HARRISON: Well, you know, listen, I`m from South Carolina. I know a lot about the filibuster from -- you know, the record for the longest filibuster was Strom Thurmond when he was filibustering the Civil Rights Act. We know that the filibuster has been utilized on a number of occasions on issues dealing with race, and particularly suppressing and prohibiting Black Americans, in particular, from exercising all of their rights as American citizens. We know the sordid history of the filibuster, and it`s time that we have to address it.

And so, again, I`m going to give Senator Schumer all the liberty in the world to do just that. But for Mitch McConnell or anybody else to say that they don`t understand the history of the filibuster, they need to go back to history class.

HASAN: Indeed, they do. Just to shift gears a bit, Jaime. Your former opponent, Senator Lindsey Graham was on Fox News Sunday and talked about needing his AR 15 in case gangs try to come to his house in the event of a natural disaster in South Carolina. Have a listen.


GRAHAM: I own an AR 15. If there`s a natural disaster in South Carolina where the cops can`t protect my neighborhood, my house will be the last one that the gang will come to because I can defend myself.


HASAN: What do you make of that bizarre argument from Graham for AR 15.

HARRISON: Lindsey Graham lives in Central South Carolina. The population is probably less than the block that you live on. You know, the only game that Lindsey Graham`s going to see in Central is probably at the Walmart standing in a one line that is open (INAUDIBLE) people.

I mean, it`s ridiculous. Lindsey is ridiculous. And he just needs to be quiet. His folks just need to tell him to stay off camera because he`s making -- he`s embarrassing himself in the state of South Carolina.

HASAN: Getting Lindsey Graham to stay off-camera. That is a big ask, Jaime, maybe even bigger than getting rid of the filibuster. Jaime Harrison, thank you so much for being here tonight.



HASAN: I appreciate your time. I appreciate your time. Thank you.

Stick around. My interview with Senator Tammy Duckworth coming up on the Republican efforts to downplay the attack on the Capitol, on voting rights, and yes on that filibuster and more after this short break. Don`t go away.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Duckworth, were you on the Senate floor when this happened? How are you doing? Are you safe?

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): I am safe. I`m barricaded in a secure -- barricaded in a secure location. I was actually calling my way to the Senate floor in the tunnels underneath the Capitol when the Capitol Police turned me around and had to go to a secure location.


HASAN: When the Capitol was breached on January 6th, Senator Tammy Duckworth was perhaps the most vulnerable member of congress Stuck inside. Having lost both of her legs in combat in Iraq, the senator was in her wheelchair in the Capitol`s complex`s underground tunnels, so it was not that simple for her to evacuate.

That`s when her military training kicked in. She barricaded herself in an office with two aides and kept in contact with friend and colleague, Senator Amy Klobuchar, to make sure she knew what was happening outside of her location.

According to USA Today, when the Capitol Police officers pounded on Duckworth`s door, they shouted that Klobuchar had sent them, something that insurrections wouldn`t have known -- insurrectionist, excuse me, wouldn`t have known. So, Duckworth would be reassured it was safe to open the door. Just horrific to even think about what could have happened.

And Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat from Illinois and author of the brand new memoir, Every Day Is a Gift, joins me now. Senator, thanks so much for coming on the show. I want to talk about the Capitol attack with you in just a moment. But before I do, your new book is a memoir telling your remarkable life story.

And you talk in your book about growing up as a biracial child in Southeast Asia in the 1960s, the daughter of a Thai-Chinese mother and an American soldier father, dealing with obvious discrimination back then. So, I wonder it must be extra painful for you to see the wave of anti-Asian violence and racism in America today.

DUCKWORTH: Well, it`s painful but not unexpected. Unfortunately, we`ve had a long history in the United States of discrimination against Asian- Americans who have often been treated as an other -- you know, and when we did have anti-Asian violence immediately after the 911 attacks, for example.

A lot of Sikh temples were attacked. And we had the one incident that had happened in Wisconsin where Sikhs were, you know, members of very peaceful religion were actually killed because they were mistaken for being Muslim. And so, unfortunately, the Asian-American community has been the target of violence for a long time. And that violence is often underreported. And that`s really the dangerous part is we really don`t know how much there is going on right now.

HASAN: Yes. And you not only have co-sponsored a resolution with Senator Mazie, Hirono condemning anti-Asian hatred, but you`re also at one point with threatening to block Biden nominees over the lack of AAPI cabinet members, the lack of diversity at a sensitive time like now. You`ve since backed off of that. Why? Has Joe Biden done enough on this issue for you?

DUCKWORTH: Well, we came to an agreement and I`m very proud that there is now going to be an AAPI senior staff member in the West Wing. And then there are other things that we -- that we`ve talked about doing and really raising the visibility of AAPIs within divided administrations. So, we had very productive conversations.

And if you read my book, you`ll know that, you know, really standing up and representing those who may not have a voice is something I`ve done every since I can remember.

HASAN: Yes. So you`ve amassed a series of firsts in your political career and public life. I know. And that ended with you ending up in the Senate representing the state of Illinois. Let`s talk about January the sixth and the Senate. What was the attack on the Capitol like for you? And what do you think of Ron Johnson and other Republicans now trying to rewrite what happened that day suggesting it was just a bunch of rowdy patriots wandering the hallways?

DUCKWORTH: Well, they were not rowdy patriots. My office was actually -- the window is absolutely shattered. One of my offices is right next to where the insurrectionists broke in. And they were using -- I was not in that particular office at the time, but they were using a battering ram to try to get into that office.

And I`ve been -- still picking up broken glass out of my office. And I`ll be rolling along and I`ve seen more broken glass everywhere. We`re still dealing with it. But frankly, you know, this is -- it is something that just made me so angry and so mad. After everything that I`ve done in my life, and all those years I spent in uniform, wearing the country`s flag on my shoulder, to see that same flag used to breach the Nation`s Capitol, you know, was not only horrific, but it made me really, really mad. And we can`t ever let that happen again.

And so when Ron Johnson and others tried to, you know, wiggle out of what happened there or try to rewrite history, I`m going to be there to tell folks exactly what happened because I was there too.

HASAN: I`m glad you`ll be doing that. Democracy is under assault, not just via insurrection, but via GOP voter suppression laws at the state level. Let`s be clear, the only way to stop those laws to protect voting rights and get H.R.1, the For The People Act passed in the Senate is to get rid of the filibuster. You`re not going to get 10 Republicans. You`re not going to get one, even Mitt Romney, the most moderate Republican senator says there`s no way he`ll ever vote for H.R.1. Do you support getting rid of the filibuster to pass H.R.1?

DUCKWORTH: I would support getting rid of the filibuster to pass H.R.1. I do think we should look at filibuster reform first and go to the talking filibuster, which is what most Americans think about when they think of a filibuster. They think of Mr. Smith goes to Washington, somebody stands up, you know, and speaks until, you know, they can`t speak anymore.

But really, right now, the filibuster has been abused and it doesn`t cost a senator to anything to have the filibuster. And so, I think a good step would be to have filibuster reform and say OK, you want to -- you want to stop us from having the Voting Rights Act, then you need to stand up and speak and stay there as long as you can to oppose it. Feel some pain if you`re going to do it.

HASAN: So, why is it do you think that there are colleagues in your party in your Senate caucus, Joe Manchin, especially the Kyrsten Sinemas of this world, who don`t see to see the urgency of getting rid of the filibuster. Kyrsten Sinema is senator in Arizona, which is the -- I think it`s a state with the second-highest number of voter suppression laws after Georgia right now. And yet, I don`t see the urgency among some of your Senate colleagues, to get rid of the filibuster, get H.R.1 on Joe Biden`s desk and start protecting voter access, which is under assault nationwide.

DUCKWORTH: I can`t speak for my colleagues. I can only speak for myself. And you know, if you read the book, you`ll see that I had a childhood where I lived in a lot of war-torn countries where my dad worked for the United Nations. And, you know, I watched a Vietnamese people fleeing, putting everything that they own.

I talked about it in the book, you know, watching people putting their children into a boat and then facing the unknown dangers of the sea, because they think that`s the safest thing, the best thing that they can do. I`ve seen what happens when you lose democracy. And I`ve seen how important it is to preserve and defend democracy. It`s why I went to Iraq. You know, because I believe that our democracy.

And so, you know, I can only speak for myself. I think that H.R.1 is incredibly important. I sat on the floor with a great John Lewis trying to get a vote on uniform -- on universal background checks and this is -- you know, for gun reform. And the filibuster rule is really destroying our ability to do anything because Republicans refuse to do anything.

HASAN: Indeed, you are a veteran, as you mentioned. You lost limbs fighting for your country. Some would say you`ve lost those limbs fighting in a war that was unnecessary. It`s become now an endless war. Biden ran on ending endless wars, including those that he voted for back in the day.

Last week, he refused to commit to a May 1st deadline to pull out of Afghanistan. There are still American troops in Iraq and Syria. The Defense Budget is basically the same size as Donald Trump`s. I wonder, are we going to see the kind of change from Donald -- from Joe Biden, on foreign and defense policy that we`re actually seeing on domestic policy right now on the domestic front?

DUCKWORTH: Well, I actually speak at length in my book about my decision to volunteer to serve in Iraq, even though I didn`t believe in the war. And I spent some time talking about where I was in terms of my thinking. You know, as a soldier, you swear the oath to defend, and you swore the oath to follow all lawful orders. And at the time, you know, the order to invade Iraq was a lawful order.

And so even though I personally didn`t believe in the war in Iraq, I was very proud of my service. And I go at length about this and in the book for those who, you know, who wanted to look at a soldier`s perspective on this. But I will tell you that one of the best things we can do is to end and repeal the AUMF that have been abused since 2001, 2002, 2003.

Those are the fig leaves that have been used to continue these endless wars. That`s the first place that we can start. And we don`t need Joe Biden for that. We in the Senate can do that ourselves and repeal it. And then, if we want to stay in Iraq or Afghanistan, and then let`s, let`s pass a new AUMF, and let`s have the guts to debate it on the floor and actually cast our vote.

A lot of my colleagues don`t want to do that. They would rather allow, you know, administration after administration to abuse to AUMF. And that I think is the first thing we need to do is to get rid of it.

HASAN: Do you agree with Joe Biden -- I completely agree with you, especially on the AUMF, just before we run out of time, on Afghanistan. Do you think the troops should come home on the original May 1st deadline?

DUCKWORTH: You know, I want the troops to come home. I hate -- I hate an artificial date, because that tells the enemy when you`re going to be gone. I would rather have milestones base that becomes from some sort of an agreement that we have with our allies, for example, when they stand up and they`re able to do a certain thing we come home, that there`s some sort of a multinational agreement for it.

But if you tell your ally -- you know, you tell your enemy, what you`re going to do before you do it, you might as well -- it`s like giving them your playbook. You might as well, you know, just hand them some extra ammunition. So, I worry about artificial deadlines. I would rather bring up troops home in a way that we don`t have to send them back again, you know, a few months or a year or two later.

HASAN: Fair enough. Senator Tammy Duckworth, author of the new memoir, Every Day Is A Gift. Thank you so much for your time tonight. I appreciate it.

DUCKWORTH: Thanks for having me on.

HASAN: Next, if you`re already planning a return to normal this summer, hold that thought because the head of the CDC delivered a brutal reality check today. Her warning next.


HASAN: Do you remember when the mood started to shift about COVID. It was only a few weeks ago that we started getting all these good news headlines. Plummeting cases show the pathway to crushing COVID, a possible COVID-19 end game, the light at the end of the tunnel. Optimism reaches a new high.

Well, today, the CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky who will appear on "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" in just a little while, poured some cold water and all that happy talk.


ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CDC: Now is one of those times when I have to share the truth, and I have to hope and trust you will listen. I`m going to pause here. I`m going to lose the script and I`m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom.

We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope, but right now I`m scared.


HASAN: She`s scared for good reason. After a dramatic drop, new cases have been rising even a massive vaccine rollout. You can see that red line on the chart. That`s the daily average of new cases, and for the past week it`s been moving steadily up. That`s due in part to the spread of more contagious variants of the virus, but it`s also due to the relaxation of restrictions in states like Florida, which was extremely aggressive and reopening and where Spring Break revelers have recently been overwhelming Miami.

As a result, cases in Florida have been rising especially among the young. Now, more than 5000 cases per day. And in less than a week, new variant cases in the state have now doubled. To some extent, today`s bad news is the consequence of the good news from a few weeks ago. Many people particularly though not exclusively, Republican lawmakers, seized on that moment of optimism to start acting like it`s basically all over. But it`s not over. And the President knows it.

Today, Joe Biden said states should reinstate masked mandates and wait to reopen businesses until the virus is more under control. While many of us are acting like we`re done with COVID, the fact is that COVID is not done with us. And that doesn`t mean that there isn`t good news out there. Biden said today that 90 percent of U.S. adults will be eligible for COVID shots by April 19th, with sites within five miles of your home. And that`s incredible.

We are getting closer and closer to genuine mass vaccination. But we can`t shoot ourselves in the foot. And when the director of the CDC says she`s scared, then I`m sorry, but we all should be scared. And we should be absolutely determined not to let our guard down.

Coming up, something you may have missed over the weekend, a group of Republican senators went down to the U.S. Mexico border to stage a publicity stunt including the chief publicity stunt man himself, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas who posted selfie videos in the shrubs.

Now you may remember this isn`t Cruz`s first trip to the border this year. Although the last trip, Ted didn`t stop until he made it all the way to sunny Cancun, abandoning his state in the middle of a once-in-a-century crisis. But Ted Cruz isn`t the only one counting on you to forget about his past antics. The rebranding of Stephen Miller, architect of some of the most odious immigration policies of the Trump administration, well, that`s going on right now and we`re going to talk about it next.


HASAN: There is no shortage of odious people who gain power thanks to Donald Trump. But if you had to pick just one who should be pushed out of public life, who should hang his head in shame and never be heard from or taken seriously ever again, it would have to be Stephen Miller, the guy who was more responsible than anyone for stealing children at the border, taking them from their parents` arms.

The guy who targeted both legal and "illegal immigrants" for four years demonizing them, mistreating them, making a mockery of the very idea of America as a nation of immigrants, a melting pot. A man who leaked e-mails to push a story from a white nationalist Web site and recommended a racist novel popular among white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

Stephen Miller is probably the most repugnant individual to serve in the Trump White House, which itself is an achievement given the competition he faced for that title. And yet, we are now seeing the normalization of Stephen Miller. And not just on Fox News, where he gleefully concerned trolls the new administration about the situation at the border, Politico just wrote up a new legal group he`s launching to harass Biden, and quoted Miller in its influential Playbook newsletter like a pundit whose sage thoughts on immigration we should all take very, very seriously.

The Hill newspaper wrote a story about Miller weighing in on the royal controversy as if anyone should care what Stephen Miller spreader of white nationalist propaganda thinks of Meghan Markle or of racism.

The media have a tendency to treat anyone who has held a prominent government position as worthy of respect after they leave office. But that`s not right. Stephen Miller does not deserve to be normalized. Someone said he deserves to be prosecuted. At the very minimum, he deserves to be shunned.

I`m joined now by investigative journalist Jean Guerrero, author of Hate Monger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist agenda. Jean, thanks so much for coming on the show. Explain to us why in your view, Stephen Miller stands out among all of the many awful people that Donald Trump hired to work in his White House.

JEAN GUERRERO, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, he was not only responsible for Trump`s most sadistic policies, you know, systematically separating children from their parents, gutting the asylum system, dismantling refugee admissions, strangling Green Card access, essentially targeting families, you know, not criminals and cartels, but children and their parents.

And I really see a case study and radicalization. You know, this is a story of an extremist who ended up steering national policy and national debate around immigration. As I showed in my book, he was indoctrinated at a very young age during a difficult time in his life by a man who believes that everything we hold dear in American society is a result of white men.

And you know, Stephen Miller was radicalized in the way that so many other Americans are currently being radicalized by the, you know, the way that he shaped Trump`s speeches and the way that he`s shaped national debate around this issue. And he wields enormous influence now of the Republican Party.

HASAN: He does, sadly. And just on that point you were making, your book subtitle refers to the "white nationalist agenda." And we in the media field don`t cover that enough, do we? How Republicans like Miller have mainstream far-right -- were far-right racist talking points, especially on immigration and the situation at the border.

GUERRERO: Exactly. Not only do we not cover enough, I mean, we also normalize him and we are -- we normalize white supremacist ideas. We are helping people like Stephen Miller launder incredibly dangerous conspiracy theories about white genocide that have motivated acts of extreme white terrorism like we saw in El Paso where 23 people were killed by a person who was citing a "Hispanic invasion."

People are -- you know, the New York Times profiled Stephen Miller using words like firebrand instead of white supremacist. And as I show in my book, you know, he is a person who invited a well-known white nationalist to his university. He was friendly with a white nationalist named Richard Spencer. And he was inspired by white supremacists literature and, and thinkers, including a book that refers to immigrants as beasts, as monsters, as swarthy skinned phantoms and talks about the destruction of the white world by Brown and Black people.

You know, if you connect the dots between what he did for Trump and what he -- the ideas that he`s promoting now in the Republican Party and right-wing media, and it`s very much about these right supremacy ideas that he was radicalized to believe at a young age.

HASAN: And it`s not just young age or ancient history, he was sharing this white nationalist propaganda while in government, two other colleagues in government, two underlings. And I`m just amazed that that was never a biggest story. And now here he is -- you know, we expect to see him on Fox News. That doesn`t shock me. But to see him in some of the more "mainstream publications" being treated as just another government official, former government official, is truly shocking and shows what a short memories some of us have.

Jean, when you were writing your book Hate Monger about him, what was the most remarkable or shocking thing you discovered about Miller or his life or his journey?

GUERRERO: I mean, one thing is just the fact that his policies were meant to be cruel and harmful to people of color. You know, based on strategy papers that I reviewed it for the book and correspondence that reviewed it, these were policies and rhetoric that were meant to incite white hatred and meant to radicalize and create, you know, extremism in the American public.

And the other thing that was remarkable to me, it`s seemingly mundane, but it was incredibly revealing about his character. You know, Miller, for a very long time, was obsessed with Robert De Niro`s monster character in the movie Casino. And his longtime friend tells me that Stephen Miller would dress up as this monster, you know, for special occasions. He would speak like him, he would -- he would behave like him, he would pretend to be him.

And this obsession that Stephen Miller had with mobsters explains his attraction to Donald Trump, and just this idea that there is no law and order apart from might makes right. This sort of fetish for the white male anti-hero while demonizing and dehumanizing people and communities of color in a systematic way.

HASAN: Indeed. And that -- and that line of thinking is so important to expose as you have in your book. It`s so important for all of us to talk about as we`re doing right now because what`s so both fascinating and frustrating about watching Stephen Miller is that my understanding is before Donald Trump elevated him to kind of speechwriter to campaign aide, warm-up act during the 2016 campaign and then brought him into governor -- government as the guy who wrote the American Carnage speech and other such addresses, he was a kind of, you know, a fringe gadfly figure working out of Jeff Sessions` office.

Even other Republicans in the Senate and other Republican staffers didn`t take him seriously. And now, thanks to that elevation by Donald Trump, thanks to that four-year White House tenure, we`re supposed to take him seriously. We`re supposed to read political playbook and, and see quotes from Stephen Miller as you would from any former administration and just shrug our shoulders.

GUERRERO: Exactly. And I would go farther. I mean, Trump couldn`t have done the harm that he did without Miller at his side. And Miller was always pushing him in the most aggressive direction when it comes to rhetoric. And when it comes to policies. Trump really only cared about his border wall. For him, it really was about stopping illegal immigration.

But Stephen Miller convinced him that, you know, he had to go after immigration overall, and that he had to crack down on children and their parents in a -- in a very cruel and systematic way. Because for him, it was not about national security as I show in my book. For Stephen Miller, it`s about fears of demographic replacement. It`s about the "browning of America," this terror of "third world takeover" that was very popular in the California of Stephen Miller`s youth, as I document in the book.

HASAN: Yeah, and the irony is, of course, Jean, he`s the descendant of refugees.

GUERRERO: Exactly. You know, he comes from people who fled Eastern Europe, Jewish refugees who came here fleeing nationalist agitators. His grandmother, as I write in the book, you know, try to record for him the lessons about the dangers of demonization and the value of people who come here to the United States with nothing but the clothes on their back and speaking no English.

And these are lessons that Stephen Miller directly ignored and attacked over the course of his life and has continued to do so in a very concerted way. And it has taken over the Republican Party. You know, I think that this is going to be a major issue, Stephen Miller`s narratives around immigration. They`re going to be central in the Midterm Elections.

HASAN: Sadly, yes.

GUERRERO: And they`re just going to try to whip up hysteria about this, you know, alleged (AUDIO GAP)

HASAN: It`s truly horrific. I mean, to sum it up, it`s truly horrific that he`s still on the scene. Jean Guerrero, thank you for writing that book and enlightening us about Stephen Miller. And thanks for being with me tonight.

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