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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 4/14/21

Guests: Elie Mystal, Jeremiah Ellison, Jeff Storms, Jason Crow, Katie Benner


Protests continue in Minnesota after the police killing of an unarmed Black man. A watchdog reports the Capitol Police ignored intelligence warning ahead of January 6th. The officer who killed Daunte Wright was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter. President Joe Biden says the United States will withdraw its forces from Afghanistan on September 11. Republican senators embrace the use of state power to punish Major League Baseball. Latest reports show federal investigators had Rep. Gaetz`s phone since December.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: The House previously passed the state bill last year, but the Senate Majority Leader at the time, Mitch McConnell refused to take it up at the Senate. We will continue to follow that story. That is tonight`s THE REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN. As police mobilize against protest in Minnesota, a damning report shows that Capitol police knew a violent mob was coming January 6th and chose not to act.

Tonight, America`s selective use of the full force of the state.

Then, new manslaughter charges and arrest of the police officer who shot Daunte Wright. The attorney for the Wright family joins me live.

Plus, new revelations and fresh trouble for Matt Gaetz amid a new report that Feds have seized his cell phone.

And it`s an announcement 20 years in the making.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s time to end America`s longest war. It`s time for American troops to come home.

HAYES: Afghanistan veteran turned Congressman Jason Crow on the President`s decision to end the longest war when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Today was wrenching in the Minneapolis area where the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin continued as lawyers put forward defense for the killing of George Floyd all the while in the streets people are out mourning, angry, protesting, chanting, traumatized about the police shooting and killing of Daunte Wright just a few miles away.

And all this happening as we approach the one-year anniversary of George Floyd`s death. The inescapable context is not just Floyd`s death, it`s the aftermath of the death and the protests and police response to the protests. And also inescapably what happened on January 6th at U.S. Capitol.

And taking all this together, it is hard not to see fundamental contradictions in how our country, the state wields force against citizens in terms of who has authority and who defers to whom in a police encounter, and who in the end fears whom.

In the case of George Floyd, Derek Chauvin`s defense is centered around Floyd being a threat, a figure so fearsome, so terrifying, and unruly that he had to be subdued and knelt on more than nine minutes long until he took his last breaths. In their case, that`s how dangerous he was. It`s how terrifying he was.

And you hear that a lot with police officers when they shoot civilians that they were scared. In the case of Daunte Wright, we have a 20-year-old man who was pulled over for expired registration before officers discovered he had a warrant out for his arrest.

And Daunte Wright was treated roughly, manhandled a bit, he was handcuffed, he was ordered around like a supplicant in a way that is fundamentally invasive to his dignity. It`s not enjoyable, if you`ve ever been in the other end of that interaction. When he attempted to get out of that situation, he was shot and killed at point-blank range by an officer who says she mistook her gun for a taser.

Everything about that interaction, everything about the George Floyd interaction, the police are the ones with the authority, the control. They have the weapons on their side. They have the authority of the government. And in both cases, they let both those men know they are in charge.

That same dynamic plays out in so many of the protests we see right after these killings with these enormous shows of police force. You remember Elijah McClain the 23-year-old Black man who died in 2019 after police restrained him with a chokehold, who begged that he was an introvert that he hadn`t done anything wrong.

His death got new attention last summer following George Floyd`s killing. And when people congregated to hold a peaceful violin vigil in his memory, he played that instrument, this is how the police in Aurora, Colorado responded.





HAYES: They stormed right into a peaceful vigil and ended up pepper spraying unarmed mourners at an event commemorating the life of someone killed by police. Now, this is an example. It`s a bad one but we sort of almost took it at random. I mean, this happened last summer in the middle of the largest civil rights protests against police brutality in modern history. Literally, millions of people participating in every state in the nation.

And it is true. We should be clear that there are examples, they`re documented, you can find video, right, of violence by those and other protesters, examples of lawlessness and property damage throughout the country in the context of tens of thousands of protests. But in the context of tens of thousands of protests and millions and millions of protesters, only a very small percentage of people were violent. And yet, the police prepare, prepared and prepare for those protests like they were going to war.

I mean, pick the city. Buffalo, New York City, Denver, Colorado, Portland, Oregon, Atlanta, Georgia, wherever, they look like that. They look like they`re going to war. They have shields. They have big equipment. And they do that because they want to let people protesting know who is in charge, who holds the authority, who will bend the knee to whom? That`s the point explicitly. It`s a psychological performance.

That`s what we saw on the streets of Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center over the last few nights, a show of force with curfews and tear gas and flashbangs. And now just take all of that, all of that footage we`ve seen before last summer during last summer and since and now. Take all that and just look for a moment at the utter inversion of what happened on the steps of the Capitol in January.

There was hardly any police presence at all. I mean, there were officers there right, and I`ve covered multiple protests in Washington. There tends to be a lot of cops around when people are protesting particularly on the mall or the Capitol.

But on January 6th, there was relatively speaking, almost no one there. And they don`t have the big (INAUDIBLE) and the huge bits of equipment brought in. They have these little stanchions in front of them like they look like bike racks. But it`s not just the actual fortifying the presence, it`s also notable in the interactions of the police with the people.

Again, who`s doing the intimidating? Who is ordering who around in those interactions? During the insurrection, it is the overwhelmingly White mob telling the cops what to do, barking orders at them. It is the mob with the authority. It is the mob that has the cops trying to cajole and negotiate with the rioters. I mean, you can hardly blame them. They`re outnumbered. They`re in physical danger, right? But the fact that it got to that point, the fact that it got to that point is what`s so shocking.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any chance I could get you guys to leave the Senate wing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will -- I`ve been making sure they aren`t disrespecting the place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, I just want to let you guys know this is like the sacredest place.


HAYES: Any chance I can get you guys to leave the Capitol? I mean, how many Black folks in this country that are pulled over for a tail light, air freshener? How many get that as the opening line of the officer at the window? That police officer gently asking insurrectionists to leave the Senate chamber.

This was the attitude despite the fact there are hundreds of people at that moment violently invading the center of American democracy in an explicit attempt to subvert the peaceful transfer of power. Despite the fact that nearly 150 police officers were injured, cops their eyes gouged out and were beaten and tased and crushed and concussed and threatened to be shot with their own guns. And despite all that, there was one, one discharge of a weapon as far as we know.

And fair warning, it is disturbing to watch. The tragic shooting and killing of rioter Ashley Babbitt. At the moment when she was about to bust through a broken window, with hundreds upon hundreds of screaming angry people behind her beating down the window, steps from the chamber that contained at that moment actual members of congress. And in that moment, as a last resort, that officer there with fire -- with a gun, fired one shot and he killed her.

Today, the Justice Department said it will not file charges against the officer who shot Babbitt. And it is awful that she is dead. But think about the standard of the use of force here. Think about the use of that weapon. Think about the conceptions of fear. And if those conceptions of fear and authority of domination and subservience, if those that applied to Daunte Wright and George Floyd and millions of people of color who`ve dealt with police encounters, imagine if that had been brought to bear on that crowd at the Capitol. It would have been a massacre.

Of course, if you brought that to bear, it never would have happened because the police would have been armed and ready for a riot like they were at the vigil for Elijah McLean. And in fact, that is precisely what we are learning from this devastating new report about the January 6th insurrection by the Capitol Police Inspector General.

The report finds the Capitol Police were warned three days before the riot of the threat. "Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is a target on the sixth.

The inspector general quoted the intelligence warning is saying, "Stop the Steal`s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike."

They were specifically warned and they did not prepare. They did not prepare the way they prepare for just about every protest we`ve seen police at. And that is because of the racialized suspicion that`s at the heart of this whole thing, the conception of who`s a criminal and the conception of who is a threat. The conception of who will transgress the order, who has to be managed and controlled is so deeply embedded in both American society and law enforcement ad you cannot separate race from that in the context of American law and order in policing.

And we`ve just seen the starkest example we`ve ever seen. We all sat back and we watched. We watched people break in lawlessly, violently, recklessly, stroll through the Capitol and then walk away with no rest, no handcuffs, a single shot fired, a woman killed among hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people. Everyone in this country has now watched these two standards in front of our own eyes.

Jeremiah Ellison is a member of the Minneapolis city council, Elie Mystal is a justice correspondent at The Nation, and they both join me now. Ellie, I mean, I guess the different standards, the different conceptions of who`s to be feared and suspicious and criminal and who the police force should be deployed against is not new. But I just cannot watch any of this right now and not think about the sixth. How about you?

ELIE MYSTAL, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: I mean, Chris, welcome to my life for 42 years, right. I mean, the sad reality is that this is the country that white people want, that a majority of white people want. These are the people that a majority of white people vote for. These are the standards that a majority of white people are comfortable with. These are the judges that a majority of white people support.

And we know that this is happening because the majority of white people want it. Because whenever there is a movement, a moment, an opportunity, a law, a legislation, a case, a chance to change it, a majority of white people resist it. That`s how we know that this is what a majority of white people want.

Now, we might find here and there a couple of individuals that white people are willing to throw overboard and abandon. Derek Chauvin might be one such individual that people are willing to be done with and pretend like he`s a bad apple or a rogue agent. But when it comes to the systemic issues, and when it comes to the systemic change that we need in the society, a majority of white people resist that change.

I can therefore only infer that a majority of white people like it this way. They want the permissiveness of white violence and they want the over- the-top crackdown on black bodies.

HAYES: Councilman Ellison, I wonder if anything has changed in your city, in your own personal interactions with the police or how the police are out there in the streets right now in this very fraught moment of the protests.

JEREMIAH ELLISON, CITY COUNCILMEMBER, MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: I think in the last year or so, there`s been a lot of reason to hope and be hopeful about changing Minneapolis but I think that by and large we`re seeing that even as local elected officials want to move away from this militarized police force, the status quo was saying no, we`re doubling down, we`re tripling down.

You have the mayor of Brooklyn Center, and I know him pretty well, saying that he thinks the use of tear gas is inhumane. And what does the sheriff do? What does the governor approves? What is operation safety net which is supposed to be the response to the trial that is now being deployed against citizens here in throughout the metro, they dumped tear gas on his residence without his permission. You know, the council has felt the same way.

And so, I think that there is there`s still a battle that we`re looking to win here about how we keep our neighbors safe in this kind of environment. But I would say, as it stands right now, you`re seeing who`s on the wrong side of that. You`re seeing the governor brag about the largest police presence towards these protesters. He`s bragging about that.

The mayor of Minneapolis is actually one of the people at the helm of operation safety net who is doing this to Brooklyn Center residents against the request of the Brooklyn Center mayor. And I think that that`s a shame and I`m disgusted by it.

HAYES: Let me -- Elie, let me argue against myself and make a point here and I want your respond too and then Councilman, I like your respond to it as well, which is in comparison, I offered, right? You could say that January 6th shows precisely the problem with not taking crowd control seriously, right? That it was an object lesson that unless you show sufficient force, that unless you show up with shields and gear and tear gas and all that stuff, very quickly a crowd can overtake law enforcement, can wreak havoc, can lead to all sorts of awful things, right? And that`s the lesson here.

So, you know, why are you mad that police are showing this or trying to maintain control of crowds when you`re mad they didn`t do that in the Capitol?

MYSTAL: Yes. So, two points to that. First of all, as we saw at Capitol, it took one shot. It didn`t take a tank, it didn`t take an air drop. It took one shot to make those people who were rabid and willing to go attack Congresspeople, took one shot to make them back up.

And that -- and that`s how force needs to be used, one shot. You don`t need the over militaryization, right? So that`s number one. Number two, and I`ve said this a lot. My goal as person who cares about social justice, a race man, as a person who wants to see my race treated well in this country, my goal is not bring white people down to the level of law enforcement that Black people have to face. That would be horrible.

I wouldn`t wish -- I wouldn`t wish a white cop on my worst enemy. I don`t want that. What I want to do is lift Black people up to the level that`s been enjoyed by white men in this country since 1797. That`s the goal. So, it`s not that I want more shooting at the Capitol on January 6th, I want less shooting and less tear gas and less violence on our streets.

HAYES: Councilman, what do you say?

ELLISON: I would say that you got to look at intention of the group that showed up to those different protests. You have folks at the Elijah McClain protest playing violins. You have folks at Capitol looking to undermine democracy. You can tell by intention of the crowd what kind of response you might need.

I will say this. I`ve never seen this kind of force result in control. I`ve never seen this kind of force result in outcomes that folks are saying they`re trying to prevent, right? Businesses still get their windows broken. And I would argue it`s usually after tear gas has been dumped. It`s usually after the well-fortified buildings and police inside them have pushed these people into the unprotected neighbors and commercial corridors that they`re so desperately claiming they want to protect.

It`s usually after they`ve used that kind of force that the chaos starts. This kind of force contributes to the chaos. It is one plus two equals three. It is that simple. And if we want a different result, then we have to do something differently. And right now, at least in metro area, in Minneapolis, I don`t see the will from the state and city`s top leaders to do anything differently.

HAYES: Jeremiah Ellison, Councilmember there in Minneapolis, Elie Mystal, thank you both. I really appreciate that.

The officer who shot and killed Daunte Wright was arrested and charged with second degree manslaughter as protesters take to the street again tonight in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. The lawyer for the Wright family joins me for exclusive interview next.



BEN CRUMP, LAWYER OF THE WRIGHT FAMILY: On this day, in 2021, in less than a week, Reverend Al, in less than a week, the district attorney made the decision that we will charge this officer and the family of Daunte Wright will get to have their day in court.


HAYES: Kim Potter, the former Minnesota police officer who shot killed Daunte Wright was arrested, taken into custody this morning on a charge of second-degree manslaughter. She was released within the last hour after posting $100,000 bond. The charge comes a day after both her and the Brooklyn Center Police Chief resigned.

We`re learning that on Sunday, Potter was training other officers when they pulled Daunte Wright`s car over. When she tried to arrest him for an outstanding warrant, Wright appeared to try and get back in his car. She shouted taser, taser, taser, and then fired her gun once into Daunte`s chest killing him.

Joining me now is civil rights attorney Jeff Storms who represents the families of both Daunte Wright and George Floyd. Let me start first, Mr. Storms, with how the Wright family is doing. I know they must be in unimaginable grief. Can you give us an update of how things are?

JEFF STORMS, LAWYER OF THE WRIGHT FAMILY: You know, they`re shell-shocked, right? I mean, you go from living, you know, your ordinary day-to-day life to then having one of, if not the worst thing, that could possibly happen to parents to all of a sudden the entire world really descending upon them.


STORM: And so, I think that you know, they`re trying to get their feet under them. You know, they not even close where they really to a place to be able to process all the feelings of grief and anger at this point.

HAYES: Yes, I can -- I mean, in my experience covering these situations, it really is a brutal thing to juggle emotionally both the grief, the intense sense of loss, and then also just the, you know, the attention of cameras and reporters and all that.

What is your view or the family`s view about the developments in so far as the officer-involved being charged?

STORMS: Well, obviously, we all believe the officer should have been charged. And the officer being charged is a good initial step towards justice. But that`s a long road ahead. And you know, while we talk about wanting to achieve -- hold justice, you know, or as close to that as we can get in terms of criminal convictions or civil resolutions, you know, nothing can bring the Wright`s son back, right? You know, their family member back, their father back.

So, it`s nice you know. It should happen. It should really be a no-brainer. But I think you know, when we see officers charged, you know, we almost get um over-excited as if we`ve made some sort of giant leap forward. But instead, you know, as your prior guests talked about tonight, we`re really just taking steps that, you know, are equal. You know, this is how the response should be.

HAYES: What is your response to learning that the officer in question was training on the day this happened and I think -- I think actually as far as we know in the moment this happened, an officer who by her own account, mistook her taser for her gun or gun for her taser who has been on the force for 20 years and is training people?

STORMS: Well, I think for all of us, I think you know, we hear this term accident, right? And this wasn`t an accident. There were a numerous amount of intentional actions here. And it starts with what I believe was an intentional act of training. And that training was how to make pre-textual stops, right?

You know, we -- obviously, there`s a lot of discovery left to be had in this case, only a minimal information, amount of information has been shared with us in the world thus far. But for all the reasons we`ve heard that this stop took place, every one of us knows it`s a classic pretext, and that`s what they were teaching their officers.

HAYES: Yes, that`s a great point, that actually it makes more sense in the embedded context of the training that this is trained in a pretextual traffic stop. You actually have some experience in this area. You represented a man named David Smith who died in Minneapolis police custody. I think it was about a decade ago after being both tased and then kneeled on if I`m not mistaken. Tell me about that case and what has come out of that case or what hasn`t come out of that case 10 years ago?

STORMS: You know, it`s just -- the feelings of deja vu are just such a gut punch, right, for people who have been involved. Now, you know, myself having been involved in three of these cases and then the Smith family having to relive their brother`s death you know each time something like this happens.

And so, you know, in that case, David Smith was a young man who was killed in just a hauntingly similar fashion to George Floyd. And it was at a time where people where not paying as much attention, you know, to these events. And people tell me, well, you know, maybe if there would have been video of that. Well, there was.

You know people can find the video on the internet of David Smith being mechanically asphyxiated in a similar way to George Floyd. And when you know, the team resolved the case, you know, back in 2013, the city of Minneapolis agreed that it would provide training to all of its officers in 2014 on positional asphyxiation.


STORMS: And you know, obviously, the entire world has learned that training to the extent it happened, obviously didn`t stick.

HAYES: Jeff Storms, one of the attorneys for Daunte Wright`s family, thank you so much for making time tonight.

STORMS: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

HAYES: The President just announced the beginning of the end of the longest war in this nation`s history. That`s next.



BIDEN: I`m now the fourth United States President to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan, two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility onto a fifth. I`ve concluded that it`s time to end America`s longest war. It`s time for American troops to come home.


HAYES: Today, President Joe Biden officially announced his plan to withdraw all remaining U.S troops from Afghanistan in time for the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks this fall. It has been a long time coming since the very beginning of the war through the whole 20 years. Our leaders have signaled the end is just around the corner as they talked up everything from the Afghan government being responsible for their own security to pulling out troops.


DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We`re at a point where we clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction.

GEORGE BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Peace will be achieved by helping Afghanistan develop its own stable government. Peace will be achieved by helping Afghanistan train and develop its own national army.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. And we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer. Reductions will continue at a steady pace with more and more of our troops coming home.

And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014, the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are working to finally end America`s longest war and bring our troops back home. We`re bringing them back home. We`re almost finished in Afghanistan coming in. We`re dealing -- we`re down to a small number. We`re coming home by the end of the year.


HAYES: So, is it really going to happen this time? Will we finally see the end of America`s longest war? Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado is a retired United States Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan in 2004 and 2005, and he joins me now.

First, Congressman, I want to talk to you as someone who served there. I`ve seen a lot of folks that served there today expressing how they feel today. I think people that whether they support or don`t support the decision, it brings up a lot of emotions for folks that have been there. How about you?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Yes, it`s certainly an emotional thought to think about the end of this war. First of all, I agree with President Biden that it is time to bring our men and women home, but we have to do so in a responsible way. We have to do so in a way in coordination with our allies. Our NATO allies have just as many troops as we have there, actually more than we have there, and we have to make sure we`re protecting our troops in the process.

But for those of us who fought and lost friends there, you know, there`s a part of our heart that is in Afghanistan. And you know, many of us left parts of ourselves in that country. And so, we want to make sure that we`re doing this in the right way.

But it is time to do what`s necessary. I mean, as your video montage showed, the American people have heard every promise, every iteration, every plan. If there was a military way out of this or a way to solve this, we would have found it a very long time ago, so it`s just time to do what we need to do. We have to make sure we`re doing it right.

HAYES: You had previously partnered with Congresswoman Cheney to oppose any withdrawal or withdrawal -- total withdrawal in the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act a few years back. Has your -- how was your thinking changed?

CROW: Well, I wasn`t opposing a withdrawal actually. Our amendment in the NDAA wasn`t opposing the withdrawal. What it was actually doing was saying that if an administration was going to withdraw, that they actually had to engage it with Congress in that process. That they had to make assessments of certain important things like the protection of women and children, the protection of our forces, the engagement of our allies, that they had to consult with Congress and to make assessments of those things.

And we did that because the Trump administration was not consulting with Congress. They were actually ignoring us because they didn`t want to engage and they wanted to do whatever they wanted to do without talking to the American people. But this is not any one administration`s war. This actually is a war that`s been borne by the American people. They`ve borne the brunt of this.

It`s our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, our brothers and sisters that have been doing the fighting and dying of this war, and they should have a say in making sure that we`re ending in a responsible way.

So, that`s what that provision was about. We`re obviously in a very different situation now with President Biden where he`s consulting with Congress, doing it the way that it should be done.

HAYES: I feel like I should note obviously, and I know you know this, that the Afghan people have borne the brunt of it, you know, more than the U.S. has in many ways, I mean, the sheer number of deaths there, tens of thousands of civilian casualties, an entire country that has been in a state of war for 20 years and longer than then.

And I know that something you feel very strongly about is providing special visas to those who served as translators. But there`s more broadly the question of the U.S. letting in people from Afghanistan or other places that are war-torn. Are we doing enough right now for the folks in Afghanistan that worked with U.S. forces and are now trying to come to this country?

CROW: The answer is undoubtedly no, we`re not doing enough. There`s a huge backlog of special immigrant visa application requests now. There are Afghans who at great risk to themselves and their families. Many of whom have died serving right alongside American soldiers, people that we`ve made promises to, that we`ve said that if you serve with us, if you protect us, if you serve as a translator, if you help maintain a U.S. base that we will take care of you and your family.

We have an obligation to those folks. And if we pull out over the next five to six months and we leave those people behind, then that`s on us and we`re going to have to live with that. So, I`m going to make sure that we`re not turning our back on those folks, that we`re keeping our promises to them, and we`re protecting as many of them as we can. So, I`m going to work really hard with the administration over the next six months to do so.

HAYES: Yes, the Atlantic had a good piece on the special immigrant visas, the SIVs, which is the category here that -- George Packer writing on this. Applications for Special Immigrant Visa or SIV disappear into bureaucratic black hole, often for two or three years at a time. Initial application if approved by the embassy is just the beginning of an ordeal that can consume months or years of additional time. What`s the solution here? Is it just -- is it just beefing up the resources to process these in a timely orderly fashion?

CROW: It is largely resources, Chris. It`s money and it`s personnel. You know, there`s a backlog. They actually have a system in place to do this, but it requires embassy personnel to process the requests. And importantly, it actually requires military commanders to certify eligibility for these sib applications.

A military commander has to submit a certification or letter saying that this person served alongside. And that`s one of the things I`m really worried about that as we rapidly draw our forces down, that these military commanders are going to return home and the Afghans that worked with them are not going to have those commanders that are -- that are going to be there to submit those certifications.

That`s why we have to move very quickly and aggressively here to make sure that we are addressing the backlog and putting the resources behind this system so that we do not leave these folks behind.

HAYES: Yes, that`s a key point, right. So, part of the paperwork requires U.S. forces present. If they`re not present, the paper -- you then just can`t get the thing, so that has to be a priority. Congressman Jason Crow who served in Afghanistan, now serves the United States Congress, thank you so much.

CROW: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Up next, the trifecta of cancel culture warriors trying to cancel protections from Major League Baseball and new trouble for Matt Gaetz. Have you heard that before? Well, new trouble for Matt Gaetz as federal investigators get their hands on his phone. That`s ahead.


HAYES Have you noticed there`s a lot of confusion in the air about what exactly the first amendment does or does the no protect as lots of people on the right pretend to be outraged on incursions on first amendment and speech and so-called woke mobs.

You might remember when a Republican Senator Josh Hawley in Missouri backed a plot to overturn the Democratic election, he subsequently lost his book deal, though he quickly got it from another company. Hawley`s publishing house decided as they are, you know, constitutionally allowed to do in free country, not to publish his back after he chose to get involved in the events of January 6th and voted to overturn the election.

And when that happened, Josh Hawley, who loves to whine, it`s one of his favorite things to do, and the right, they all cried censorship. That`s not really censorship. I mean, you know, private actors do have some control over speech, but that`s private actor making private choice in private sphere.

I mean, saying we`re not going to publish your book is not really censorship. Now, somewhat ironically but perhaps predictably, the most frontal assault on first amendment protections of speech and political action is coming from precisely the people who are whining most about this supposed problem.

That would be people like Senators Josh Hawley and Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. Now, you might have seen the news early this month that Major League Baseball, again, a private business, decided to move all-star game out of Georgia in protest of that state`s new restrictive voting law.

Again, I think we can all agree, Major League Baseball has the right to do that. That`s core constitutionally protected activity. They can put their games where they want to and they can move games for political purposes if they want to.

Now, what the first amendment does not allow is for the government to punish them for that speech. I mean, think about it. We don`t want a situation where we had a tax code that will say, you know, corporate tax rate 25 percent, but for companies that express this certain political view, we`re going to make it 30 percent. You can`t do that.

Discrimination by the government using tax code or regulation or anything else as punishment or coercion for protected speech or political activity is explicitly not allowed in first amendment jurisprudence for good reason. And yet, Senators Josh Hawley, and Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz, all with very fancy degrees from very, very fancy law schools, all three former Supreme Court clerks which is as fancy as you get in the law world, well, they`re going to make baseball pay.

You see, they`ve just introduced a bill to take away the league`s antitrust exemption, which again, might be perfectly good thing to do on the merits. I`m not sure baseball should have antitrust protection, I don`t know. But you cannot do is you cannot take that away as a punishment for moving the All-Star game because you think they`re too woke. You can`t do it. Flatly authoritarian, flatly a violation of the first amendment.

And yet, here they are, the great speech crusaders, the ones who whine most vociferously and excessively about censorship from the mob, the defenders against censorship explicitly saying we`re going to use government force to go in and coerce and punish this political speech we object to. It tells you everything you need to know about how legitimate those concerns are and whether it`s about any principle whatsoever are just raw excursion of power.

Coming up, the latest in the Matt Gaetz investigation, including news that investigators have had his phone since December. That`s next.


HAYES: Back in February, the Intercept reported within hours of the Trump assault on the Capitol, the FBI seized thousands of cellphone records related to the attack. Florida Republican Matt Gaetz saw that news and he was absolutely outraged. "This story is jaw dropping. We should hold hearings in the House Judiciary Committee to review how and why they FBI was gobbling up phone data from their critics."

Now, there`s all sorts of reasons to worry about the FBI overreach and spying on members of Congress for sure. But it turns out Congressman Gaetz has a very personal interest in the government seizing phone data. As you probably know by now, Gaetz is facing a federal investigation related to possible sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl as well as whether he and his associates paid women for sex.

He maintains he never had sex with an underage girl, never paid for sex, and never did anything illegal. Last night, Politico reported that sometime this winter, federal agents executed a search warrant and seized Matt Gaetz`s iPhone according to three people who were told about it by the Congressman who proceeded to change his phone number in December. Probably a good call. It`s probably a good idea.

Now, that suggests that when he sought to crack down the FBI gathering phone data in February, he knew federal investigators had his phone. That was not the only Gaetz story that dropped last night. New York Times reporting the Congressman`s associate Joel Greenberg, you remember, the former county tax collector facing 33 federal charges has been cooperating with the Justice Department since last year including about Matt Gaetz`s activities.

And here with the latest is Katie Benner of the New York Times, one of the reporters who broke that story last night.

Katie, you know, you are a reporter who`s on the Justice Department beat so you report on investigations a lot. And I guess my take away from the reporting is like, this is some real serious stuff. It doesn`t mean he`s guilty, it doesn`t mean there`ll be charges. But if this was like your best friend telling you this, you`d be worried for them.

KATIE BENNER, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It`s a worrisome investigation to be sure. I think that one of the things we should look at is the timeline again. We know that investigators have been talking to, you know, Mr. Greenberg for about four months learning as much as they can from him.

He`s not what you would call a truthful person. As you can see from the indictment, he has lied before. There`s no reason for investigators to believe everything that he`s ever said. And so, they started to gather evidence including at least two key cell phones that we know of, one from Mr. Gaetz and one from Mr. Gaetz`s girlfriend. And they did that at the end of last year.

And what they could do with that kind of data is start to verify some of the things that Greenberg told them or shoot down the things you told them. Another thing they can do is they can see those sorts of conversations they were -- they were having in the months after Greenberg was first indicted last year for child sex trafficking, to see whether or not they discussed it and whether they discussed they had any worries about that investigation.

HAYES: So, the phone seizure here -- I want to take a step back and think of this through the prism of bureaucratic and institutional politics. I mean, we`re talking about a phone seizure of a sitting congressman who is a stalwart ally of the president under a Justice Department being run by Bill Barr. Like, that`s -- I mean in any Justice Department showing up and saying we`re serving you a search warrant, Congressman, on your phone is going to be a big deal. That`s a big deal.

BENNER: You know, these are serious moves. But keep in mind, they do not always end in charges. The last time we publicly know that this happened was when Senator Burr`s phone was seized around the investigation into stock price manipulation and the coronavirus. He was one of a handful of senators investigated for whether or not he used inside information about the coronavirus to trade on stocks.

He ultimately was not charged and he was cleared. So, while seizing your phone does imply something very serious, it does not necessarily imply guilt.

HAYES: That`s a great point. There seems also a distinction here which I think is probably worth talking about both in the legal severity, I think, the political fallout and, you know, the ethical severity which is one category would be paying women who are adults for sex which is illegal. The other would be paying a minor. Those are both being investigated. Do I understand that correctly?

BENNER: Yes, so paying a minor for sex or giving a minor anything of value, it doesn`t have to be money, it could be food, it could be drugs, it could be a hotel room, that is a federal crime that comes with a 10-year mandatory minimum. It`s extremely serious.

Paying an adult for sex -- if you`re paying an adult for sex, that`s prostitution. That`s not a federal crime. That`s a state crime. So, the Justice Department would not charge that. If you are paying adults with something of value for sex but also forcing them to have sex, they`re having sex for fraudulent reasons, they`re being coerced, now that`s something the Justice Department we know is looking into. We don`t yet have evidence that that has happened.

HAYES: There`s also what seems to me like a number of characters here in Florida politics. I mean, you`ve got -- so, you`ve got this Republican official, right, Mr. Greenberg. You`ve got Gaetz. You`ve got reporting in New York Times and other outlets about a trip to the Bahamas with a hand surgeon and marijuana impresario who is close to Governor Ron DeSantis. There`s another Florida Republican official who shows up here.

So, it also strikes me there`s some political exposure broadly among Florida Republicans right now as they`re viewing this investigation going forward.

BENNER: Absolutely. So, we know that one of the things the investigators have been told about is the idea that, you know, Congressman Gaetz has spoken with others about key Senate races in Florida and whether or not there was any political chicanery going on there.

HAYES: Right.

BENNER: But keep in mind, again, Congressman Gaetz is an extremely safe district and this is also a local Florida political story as much as it`s a national story. And these are not people who really are risking, you know, being cast out of politics, being cast out of their lobbying work because of this scandal.

And by Congressman Gaetz, I mean, if he is not indicted, I don`t see a way in which he would lose an election in this district. He`s still extremely popular. So, while there are moral implications of while this does create a really important national conversation about what we expect from politicians and what it means to be a good member of Congress and a good member of the House, that doesn`t mean that Congressman Gaetz would ever lose an election.

HAYES: Yes, I mean, I don`t think he would lose if he were indicted. I mean, we`ve actually seen that play out.

BENNER: Absolutely.

HAYES: Yes, in a number of cases. Do we know the timing of the phone and the pardon ask because that seems like -- I got winter in the story and I don`t know if like -- it just seems like if you`ve had your phone seized and then you`re like what about a pardon, it looks like you maybe knew something was up.

BENNER: Yes, you know, so in our reporting, we feel that those things happen very close together but I wouldn`t want to say which happened first per se, but they were near the end of the year of last year. But to your point about being indicted and still running, we have to remember the case against New Jersey Senator Menendez.

HAYES: Right.

BENNER: That`s a really important place to look at because he was indicted and he ultimately was exonerated. So, yes, to your point, you can be indicted and still win elections.

HAYES: That`s right. He was indicted. He defended himself. He was not convicted. He`s a U.S. Senator and good standing. Katie Benner, great reporting. Thank you so much.

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