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

Guests: Cori Bush, Damon Hewitt, Cory Booker, Ari Berman, Ben Rhodes


There is a renewed push for police reform in the wake of the Derek Chauvin trial. Lawmakers are pushing for the passage of the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act. Stacey Abrams Schools GOP Senators On Voting Rights In A Senate Hearing; The United States Reaches 200 Million Vaccinations In 92 Days; Thousands And Thousands Of People Took To The Streets Across Russia Today To Protest The Treatment Of Imprisoned Opposition Leader Alexey Navalny.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that`s exactly what they`re going to continue to do.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: I hope that that`s not what happens. We shall see. Thank you, Kurt Bardella. Thank you, Angela Rye. That is tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts, well, right now.


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

MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: Yesterday`s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis.

HAYES: One day after the murder verdict, the push for reform grows.


HAYES: Tonight, how Derek Chauvin got more justice than just about any American ever does. And the renewed push for big change with Senator Cory Booker and Congresswoman Corey Bush.

Then, Senate Republicans confront reality by way of Stacey Abrams.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): I think you called it a racist bill, am I right?

STACEY ABRAMS, FORMER GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE, GEORGIA: I think there are provisions of it that are racist, yes.

HAYES: Plus, Ben Rhodes on what our President can do about the Russian president as protesters swarm the streets for Alexey Navalny. And Steve Kornacki and his big board break down where we are after 200 million shots in 92 days and where there is work to be done when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera):Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. You know, there are those that will tell you that former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin didn`t get due process. Some on the right are even calling his conviction a lynching, claiming the jury was intimidated into finding him guilty.

These people seem to be taking his conviction personally because they seem to be personally invested in Derek Chauvin and what he did and it being allowed. But the fact of the matter is, Derek Chauvin got more due process than at least 90 percent of criminal defendants in this country.

You know, every once in a while, America, we have a big show-stopping trial we all tune into like the Chauvin trial and people start to think a trial like that represents American justice just like Perry Mason or Law and Order. It doesn`t. Thinking that is like watching the NBA and assuming that that`s what every pickup basketball game in every level of schooling in America looks like.

Trials do not happen that frequently in America. Less than 10 percent of criminal defendant go to trial. The whole system works on plea deals. Every day the criminal justice system moves people from arrest to jail to plea to prison. That`s the system.

If every criminal defendant in America got the Derek Chauvin treatment, full trial, the entire legal criminal justice system would collapse tomorrow. It can`t function. Jail, plea, prison, that`s the way it goes for, you know, just about everyone, 90 percent of people except cops.

Cops are often not even indicted by grand juries. When they are indicted, they go to trial with the reasonable expectation they will be acquitted. Going into the Chauvin trial, in the aftermath of his conviction, it`s been abundantly clear that the criminal justice system is not fixed for the bigger problem here.

Nearly 30 years ago, in the wake of the police beating on tape of Rodney King and then the acquittal of four Los Angeles police officers involved, when the city and much of the country erupted in outrage, Congress gave the attorney general a new power to investigate police departments in cases involving a "pattern or practice of conduct by officers that may violate federal rights." This was part of the 1994 crime bill. And they came to be known as pattern or practice cases.

In May of 2000, the Justice Department announced it was filing a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department under that law alleging the LAPD is engaged in a pattern or practice of constitutional violations through excessive force, false arrests, unreasonable searches and seizures, and that management deficiencies have allowed this misconduct to occur.

Now, this followed years of misconduct at the LAPD beatings, and shootings, rampant corruption, including a group of officers originally tasked with combating gangs who essentially just became an armed gang themselves.

Later that year, the city of Los Angeles agreed to enter into a federal consent degree, that`s a mutually agreed-upon set of reforms to the police department and then a federal oversight process to make sure those reforms are being implemented.

Now, under the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice opened 25 of these pattern or practice investigations into police departments. I`ve read a bunch of the reports issued from them from Ferguson to Cleveland. One of the most prominent being the probe into the Ferguson Police Department after a police officer fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014.

But the Trump Administration almost completely abandoned the practice under both Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr opening just one investigation into the Springfield, Massachusetts Police Department in 2018. At the time, critics noted what a huge mistake that was, what an unused power.


VANITA GUPTA, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: This Justice Department is not interested in remedying major systemic problems in police departments.

The President, Jeff Sessions, Bill Barr have been uniformly focused on dismantling the police reform efforts that the Justice Department had been engaged in. This Justice Department has really walked away from the role that it needs to play.


HAYES: But Donald Trump lost and Joe Biden won. And today, the federal government is getting back in the game. Joe Biden`s Attorney General Merrick Garland announcing an investigation into Derek Chauvin`s police department.


GARLAND: Yesterday`s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis. Today, I am announcing that the Justice Department has opened a civil investigation to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing. The Department of Justice will be unwavering in its pursuit of equal justice under law.


HAYES: Attorney General Merrick Garland will be heading that new pattern of practice probe along with his newly confirmed number three at the Justice Department, Vanita Gupta, now the Associate Attorney General of the United States who you just heard speaking about the need for those investigations.

The Chauvin trial laid bare the dire need for change in American policing. This is one existing policy tool we do have to reform police departments that are broken. Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush from Missouri became a grassroots organizer and activist in Ferguson after the killing of Michael Brown Jr. and she joins me now.

Congresswoman, you have seen this up close and it`s part of what got you into politics. Your reaction to both the trial yesterday and the announcement from the Attorney General today.

REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): So, the trial was just traumatic to watch but it`s as traumatic as every day living in this country as a Black person or a Brown person or an indigenous person that just would like to just live your life, the life that, you know, you get to see other people live but you just don`t get that, you know. And so we got to see that play out in this trial.

But we`ve seen this happen over and over again. You know, watching with bated breath, watching with bated breath what`s going to happen with this verdict. OK, well, it came back a little faster than it could have come back so maybe it`s going to be guilty or maybe it`s just that type of juror. Like, it was just all of these thoughts.

But the thing that people expect us to be, overjoyed and happy and, you know, just celebrating this. We -- this should be the thing that if you murder someone, you know, you put your knee on someone`s neck and you were supposed to -- you know, and it was your job to protect and serve the community but you put your knee on someone`s neck that begged you -- that kept saying that they were -- you know, that they couldn`t breathe and people were saying oh, you`re going to kill him, and you continue to do it, I think that says that we have this huge problem.

You know, but the thing that I don`t understand, I`ll say, Chris, is why we have to keep fighting this? Why is it that the world was watching like, what is going to happen with this? It should have been that oh, we already know what`s going to happen because it shouldn`t have happened. This should be the thing.

But now, we`re here and I hope that all of ours law enforcement see -- and I`m not someone that`s anti-law enforcement, so let`s not put the -- nobody needs to put that out. I want people to do their jobs and do it right and be held accountable in everything that they do. So, pay attention, law enforcement.

HAYES: Yes, do their job, do it right, and be held accountable which I think are principles that there`s a broad actually agreement on, I mean, if you -- if you articulated the vision that way. And obviously, you`re a member of Congress. You represent police officers. I`m sure you have interactions with them as a representative in that respect.

I mean, I guess the question is do you think the federal government can help here. You`re a member of Congress now. You worked your way from being an organizer and activist in the wake of Michael Brown`s death to now having a vote in that Congress. Do you -- do you think the federal government has a role to play here?

BUSH: Absolutely. Well, first of all, you know, just the fact that we do get to bring fort forward legislation, you know -- and I`m here to legislate. I`ve said it a million times. I`m here to legislate to save Black lives because Black lives are -- like, there is this huge problem in our country where Black lives are always targeted. Brown lives are always targeted.

So, I`m here to legislate with that in mind first. So, yes, that is our job. So we have the power of the pen and the power of the purse. So, we can do something about it. We do have legislation that has been brought forward, The George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, we have the Breathe Act, you know. And then my office, we are also working on some things that we will be bringing forward.

But you know what, the thing is I am a member of our House Judiciary Committee. Even sitting on this committee, one thing that I can look at is bringing those -- bringing to the forefront these issues that I`ve been able to witness. So, this is the thing, Chris. I`m not talking about what I`ve just heard. I`m not talking about what I read only. I`m not talking about what other people have said or e-mail. I`m talking about what I have seen and witnessed and what I have experienced myself.

I`m someone who I remember laying on the ground, Chris, during the Ferguson Protest the night when the (INAUDIBLE) bill was called by the -- yes, that night. And I remember laying on the ground and being stumped by several police -- several law enforcement officers, and just being on that ground wondering who do I call out to in this moment? Who do you call when it`s the police? Who am I -- who am I calling out to save me?

We should not live in a country where that is the thing for somebody who is just trying to work to save lives and just being a member of this community, period. So -- but now, now that I sit in the seat, that is the work that I have before me to call that to the carpet, to put those people, to bring them before in hearings to make sure that that change happens.

Look, change doesn`t happen if people don`t feel it, if their lives don`t change, and that`s what I`m here to do.

HAYES: Congresswoman Cori Bush, great pleasure to have you on tonight. Thank you very much

BUSH: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: I want to turn now to Damon Hewitt, the acting president and executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. That`s an organization you may have heard of and it was previously led by Kristin Clarke who is now awaiting confirmation to lead the Justice Department`s Civil Rights Division.

So, Mr. Hewitt, you`ve got big shoes to fill. We`re all watching the Kristin Clarke hearing. You have a lot of experience with these what we call federal consent decrees, patterns and practices investigations by the Department of Justice into local police departments that lead to some sort of oversight situation. Do they work? Is this an effective tool in the tool kit here?

DAMON HEWITT, ACTING PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LAWYERS COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER LAW: Well, first of all, it`s important, Chris. Thanks for having me. It`s important to make sure we use every tool that is in the toolkit. You know, there`s a reason why former Attorney General Jeff Sessions tried to neuter this tool on his way out the door.

In fact, (AUDIO GAP) throughout his time in the seat as Attorney General is because there was some concern or fear that it was going to be an effective tool actually, right? But there`s a reason why it wasn`t used. And this is the reason, of course, why Attorney General Merrick Garland is using the tool once again.

It`s not perfect, right, but it is the one thing that we have right now at the executive level that can actually go beyond an individual case, an individual killing, an individual murder, or an individual trial to look at every aspect of policing in a particular jurisdiction.

It could be triggered by a particular killing as this one was in Minneapolis, but it could be triggered by any number of things including complaints from community members who are getting the wrong end of the deal.

HAYES: One thing that that I found as a journalist with these patterns and practices investigations is they produce a written record by the federal government that almost has this effect of saying the community is like you`re not crazy. It`s pretty bad here.

And you saw that with the Ferguson report of patterns and practices where, you know, federal investigators went in and basically confirmed that this was a fundamentally a kind of exploitative force. We saw it in Cleveland, Baltimore, a whole bunch of other places.

How important is just that record-setting in having an authoritative voice the Justice Department go in and document what is happening with a given police department?

HEWITT: Well, look, it`s civil rights 101 is documentation and putting some daylight on the situation. What it does, Chris, is a couple of things. One, it creates that record which helps build the case, the policy case, the activism case. But it also is again it`s validated to communities.

It gives people energy but it also gives a roadmap to those at the local level who actually want to make change. We can actually be partners in that. It can provide you an effective road map as well for exactly what is the problem, what is wrong, and what the changes could be.

HAYES: What other tools do you want to see marshaled here? I mean, again, in the aftermath of this, the aftermath of the biggest civil rights protests in probably a generation, this brutal murder that happened video recorded, a country in which police officers killed three people a day, it`s sort of unlike anything that happens anywhere else in the world, but a country also with very high levels of interpersonal violence which relates to that, right? I mean, it`s a very armed populist that police are engaging every day. What other tools do you want to see marshaled here?

HEWITT: Well, look, there`s cycles of violence in a variety of communities and state violence is one part of it. And that`s what the federal government and local and state governments can certainly address directly. But, look, what we need is a counterpart for the parent and practice investigations. And I think Cori Bush mentioned one great one, it`s the George Floyd Justice of Policing Act.

We need that one-two punch (INAUDIBLE) and criminal liability inappropriate cases. That won`t be every case, right, but inappropriate cases. We need a registry that shines some daylight on what officers are doing when they act with impunity. And again, it`s not all officers but there`s certainly some, too many frankly, who are acting with impunity, day in and day out jumping from one police department to the next without any semblance of accountability hurting and killing people when they go unchecked.

So, if we have the moral clarity that the information can provide from these pattern practice investigations combined with the potential for enforcement at the executive level and the potential for civil and criminal sanctions, I think we can then start to see can the legal system when it is fully loaded actually start to make some informative changes in policing.

HAYES: All right, Damon Hewitt, thank you so much for sharing your experience and expertise with us tonight. In her address to the nation last night, Vice President Kamala Harris urged the Senate to pass the George Floyd Act which Mr. Hewitt was just discussing. That`s a policing reform bill that she introduced along with Senator Cory Booker last summer.

Now, in the wake of the guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin trial, there`s a renewed attention on making meaningful change in policing. It`s sort of a now or never moment for the George Floyd Act. If it`s going to pass, it`s got a window right now. So, I`m going to talk to Senator Cory Booker about whether they can get this done right after this.



KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Last summer, together with Senator Cory Booker and Representative Karen Bass, I introduced the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act. This bill would hold law enforcement accountable and help build trust between law enforcement and our communities. This bill is part of George Floyd`s legacy.

The President and I will continue to urge the Senate to pass this legislation not as a panacea for every problem but as a start.


HAYES: Last summer, in the weeks following George Floyd`s murder, members of Congress promised fundamental changes to policing. It was not long before a bill in George Floyd`s name was passed in the House along party lines. It never advanced to the Senate where Republicans offered a counter bill, a watered-down version of the bill instead.

Now, at the time, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker called the bill "woefully inadequate, deeply flawed, and painfully weak." When it comes to policing reform, Senator Booker may have a closer handle on this than any other senator experientially at least. Not only is he one of the drafters the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, he was mayor of Newark, New Jersey in 2011 when the Justice Department sent him a letter announcing a patterns and practice investigation into a city`s police department.

By the time Newark of the DOJ entered a settlement announcing mutually agreed upon reforms, in May 2016, Booker was in the Senate. Since then, he`s made a number of proposals to reform criminal justice including one that was signed into law by Donald Trump in 2018.

And joining me now is Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey. I wonder first, Senator, if you can -- if you can give viewers -- we`re talking about the George Floyd Policing Act, we`ve talked about some of its provisions, we`ve referred to as reform. What would it do? What`s the -- what`s the sort of succinct version of people about what it would do and how it applies to the problems folks experience of policing at the ground level?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Yes, well, I`m glad you brought this up. I`m a former mayor with a majority Black city, majority Black city council, Black mayor, and we were doing innovative reforms some of which have made a big difference. But the Justice Department scraped our data and showed us that we had severe challenges and problems. And we went about changing them and even further with the ACLU.

But this goes to show you this isn`t about good intentions, this isn`t about overt racism. This is about systems that are desperately needed -- desperately need change. And the best way I know about doing them is creating real accountability. And accountability in the George Floyd Act has, number one, a lot more transparency.

That data that was scraped by the Justice Department of my city, we want to pull that data from every police department to begin reporting from uses of force to even the racial breakdown of their traffic stops and more. In addition to that, we want to ban certain practices that has led to the death of people like Eric Garner or Breonna Taylor, specifically those kinds of no-knock warrants and those kinds of chokeholds.

On top of that, we want to create greater liability. When you violate someone`s civil rights, when you violate our law, we want to see real accountability. And that means taking on things like qualified immunity which are shielding cities and officers from that.

So, there`s a lot in our bill that would go a long way in shifting American police accountability and that`s what we`re really pressing for.

HAYES: You know, I`ve heard this argument from -- you know, sometimes I`ve heard this argument from folks I think who are advancing it cynically. But I`ve heard it non-cynically a lot from police officers, police officers who I think are probably good cops, good police officers, good at what they do and care about it, that something like for instance getting rid of the qualified immunity protections which is something the Supreme Court has kind of built up through its jurisprudence to make it essentially an impenetrable shield for, you know, misbehavior on the job, that that would put police officers in a defensive crouch, it`ll make them less proactive, and you will get worse policing. What`s your -- what`s your argument in response to that.

BOOKER: That`s just -- that`s not my belief. I don`t share that belief whatsoever. I really do believe that you have to in any profession know that if you grossly violate laws and civil rights, that there`s consequences for that. We`ve seen the kind of impunity that has led to a lot of folks death as if these bad officers or bad apples do not think there`ll be consequences when they do these horrific things.

And so, I am trying my best. I`m in the midst of some deep talks to get to a place where we don`t solve all the problems. I think policing reform is going to take a lot more but where we can say to America we have created more accountability, more transparency, change standards, and are going to take a big stride towards making Americans safer.

And the police profession which is hurting right now, it is hurting. In my state, for example, a headline just read that we have a historical low in applications for our state police. We need to heal police community relations and trust in law enforcement.

And so, there`s a lot we have the work, we have to do, and I think we can. This is the moment to make some strides towards a greater justice in our country.

HAYES: Karen Bass who was one of the co-authors of this legislation on the House side was on Joy Reid`s program in the last hour talking about feeling like there`s some prospects here. I think there`s some informal conversations with having with Tim Scott who is the author and sponsor of that sort of alternative bill that was floated the last time around.

Is there an actual bipartisan consensus majority piece of legislation -- is that a possibility in the next short term?

BOOKER: It`s most certainly a possibility. Tim and I are friends. We`ve done big bills together before and he is a good faith actor and we are in conversations. And I have some confidence that we can get something done. The question is will it be enough so that we can say it`s real reform, real change?

Because I`ve seen things before from racial sensitivity training to community policing funding and it has not led to a stop of the deaths of people like Tamir Rice, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Gardner, and the names that we all know. So, my standard is are we making -- are we making real substantive reforms that we can say are really going to make a difference in accountability in our country.

And so, I`m encouraged by the conversations right now. And I`m hard at work. This has been the center of my efforts for many days now to try to get something delivered to the President`s desk.

HAYES: All right, Senator Cory Booker, thank you so much for coming on tonight.

BOOKER: Thank you very much.

HAYES: Just ahead, Republican Senator John Kennedy tries to go toe-to-toe with Stacey Abrams on voter suppression laws and shockingly does not go so well for him. That amazing exchange next.


HAYES: There`s a hearing on voting rights in the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. And Stacey Abrams, one of the people responsible for turning Georgia blue testified as a witness. For some reason, Republican Senator John Kennedy seemed to think he could stump Abrams by asking her to list all the reasons Georgia`s new restrictive voting law is racist. But Stacey Abrams, one of the most knowledgeable people in the country about that law was ready.


KENNEDY: You`re against the Georgia bill, I gather. Is that right?

ABRAMS: I`m against certain provisions of it, yes.

KENNEDY: OK, I think you`ve called it a racist bill, am I right?

ABRAMS: I think there are provisions of it that are racist, yes.

KENNEDY: OK, tell me specifically -- just give me a list of the provisions that you objected.

ABRAMS: I object to the provisions that remove access to the right to vote, that shorten the federal runoff period from nine weeks to four weeks, restrict the time that a voter can request and return an absentee ballot application, and eliminate --

KENNEDY: Slow down for me because our audio is not real good here.

ABRAMS: Certainly.

KENNEDY: Could you start over for me?

ABRAMS: Certainly.

KENNEDY: Thank you, ma`am.

ABRAMS: It shortens the federal runoff period from nine weeks to four weeks.


ABRAMS: It restricts the time a voter can request and return an absentee ballot application.


ABRAMS: It requires that a voter have a photo identification or some other form of identification that they`re willing to surrender in order to participate in absentee ballot process.

KENNEDY: That -- if I can stop you. That`s where they`re going to not comparing signatures but the voter ID.

ABRAMS: Yes, sir. And as I pointed out, we would come only the fourth state in the nation to require voters to put at risk their identity --

KENNEDY: Yes, ma`am. What else? What else.

ABRAMS: It eliminates over 300 hours of dropbox availability. It bans --

KENNEDY: OK, what else.

ABRAMS: It bans nearly all out of precinct votes.

KENNEDY: Bans what, I`m sorry?

ABRAMS: It bans nearly all out of precinct votes.


ABRAMS: Meaning, that if you get to a precinct, and you are in line for four hours, and you get to the end of the line and you are not there between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m.

KENNEDY: OK, what else.

ABRAMS: You`re going to start all over again.

KENNEDY: Is that everything?

ABRAMS: No, it is not. No, sir. It restricts the hours of operation because it now, under the guise of setting a standardized timeline, it makes it optional for counties that may be -- may not want to see expanded access to the right to vote. They can now limit their hours instead of those hours being from 7:00 to 7:00, they`re now from 9:00 to 5:00 which may have an effect on voters who cannot vote during business hours during early voting. It limits the voting hours --

KENNEDY: OK, I get idea. I get the idea.


HAYES: OK, that`s enough. You asked, sir, Now, the Georgia law is just one example of the aggressively, for lack of a better word, anti-democratic laws being pushed and passed by Republicans across the country. In Florida, Republicans passed a law that basically attempts to criminalize protesting though that`s going to be challenged, introducing new crimes like aggravated rioting and mob intimidation.

The law also, and this is real, increases protections to those responding to demonstrations granting civil legal immunity to drivers who run through crowds of protesters. Florida Republicans are also trying to pass a voter restriction bill which would make absentee voting harder. It just passed out of the Florida Senate Rules Committee. It`s one of hundreds of such bills.

According to Brennan Center for Justice, as of last month, legislators have introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states. Not just in places where Republicans feel they might lose but in places like Montana where Trump won comfortably and they elected a Republican governor. That governor just signed a pair of laws ending same-day voter registration and increasing restrictions on voter identification.

Ari Berman is a senior reporter at Mother Jones covering voting rights, also the author of Give Us The Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, and he joins me now. Ari, you know, one of the things that came through I thought very effectively in Stacey Abrams response to Senator Kennedy and in all these bills is there is a kind of death by a thousand cuts feel to them, right?

Like, small -- like, oh, we`re going to limit this and we`re going to make -- we`re going to reduce drop boxes and reduce hours and squeeze a little bit. It`s all these marginal changes that all go in one direction.

ARI BERMAN, SENIOR REPORTER, MOTHER JONES: That`s absolutely right. It`s a cumulative impact of voter suppression, Chris. And remember, in Georgia, they initially wanted to do these big sweeping changes. They wanted to get rid of no-excuse absentee voting. They wanted to repeal automatic voter registration. They wanted to cut weekend voting.

And that was so politically unpopular. They went for these more under-the- radar changes. They thought people wouldn`t be able to understand things like stripping the secretary of state of power after he stood up to Trump or giving them control over election administration that they didn`t have before, or throwing out ballots that are cast in the wrong precinct.

And I think the net effect is remember, Trump asked the republican secretary of state in Georgia to find him 11 000 votes. And the secretary of state couldn`t do that. So, now, they are passing these laws to try to find 11 000 votes and more by making it harder to vote in future elections.

HAYES: You know, Georgia is such an interesting example because there`s a history there with Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams before this. There`s a longer history there because it`s a state in the -- in the Deep South that had, you know, all the kind of Jim Crow sort of laws on the books prior to the voting rights act. And now, it`s a state that flipped by this narrow margin. Huge, right?

Montana is interesting because it`s like Republicans did fine. They had same-day voter registration and they did fine. You could win an election as a Republican. You don`t need this. And yet, same impulse, one of the first things the governor is doing.

BERMAN: Well, this is the playbook all across the country, Chris. The top priority of the Republican Party right now is to make it harder to vote. And not just in states that Joe Biden won. Obviously, that is ground zero for the effort. Places like Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, this is where they`re most desperate to enact these restrictions on voting.

But they`re also pushing them in states that Trump won like Florida and in states that he won quite comfortably like Montana and Iowa. So, they`re all marching off the same kind of playbook. And the laws that they are passing to restrict voting rights are very similar all across the country.

For example, Georgia passed a bill that criminalized giving food and water to people in line. That was a quite controversial provision. Well, similar bills have now been introduced in Florida and in Arkansas, criminalizing election administration. That`s happening not just in Georgia but in Iowa, in Florida, in other states, in Texas.

And so, really not just -- they`re not just trying to make it harder to vote in all these states, they`re trying to make it hard about in all the same ways practically in state after state after state.

HAYES: There`s a -- you know, there`s an Ohio story I saw today about that that they have judicial elections that Democrats have done pretty well in, and they`re they don`t have the party line listed even though the judicial -- people running for these state courts are Democrats and Republicans and the Republicans want to change it now to have a partisan ID.

And I thought it was interesting because that isn`t anti-democratic. I think you can kind of make arguments in both directions honestly in terms of voter transparency. But it`s yet another example of losing a set of elections and immediately going to the rules as the thing -- the thing to deal with as opposed to like your message, your platform, whatever you`re going to do.

BERMAN: Well, that`s been the playbook all across the country. It hasn`t been to reach out to more voters, it`s been how to have fewer voters participate in the process. And it`s always about changing the rules only when they don`t work for them.

So, in Georgia, Republicans wrote all of the voting laws. And they were perfectly fine with them until Democrats started using them in large numbers. And it`s interesting in Florida, they`re trying to make it harder to vote by mail, they`re trying to get rid of drop boxes. Well, they`re only doing that when Democrats outnumbered Republicans in mail voters for the first time.

So, they trumpet -- they talk about trying to get people to vote by mail, and then the second the Democrats start doing, they say, no, no, no, we have to get rid of these things. They`re just really telling that instead of trying to appeal to more voters, they`re just trying to have fewer voters participate. And I think that`s basically their central organizing principle everywhere when it comes to how they view democracy right now.

HAYES: Yes. I mean, I think they have convinced themselves. And I don`t -- I don`t even think they`re right about this. Here`s the crazy thing. I don`t think they`re right. I don`t even think the statistics bear it out. But they`ve convinced themselves the fewer people voting the better for us. And so, on the margins, let`s make it harder.

Ari Berman who is the reporter on this beat and has been for a while, thank you so much.

BERMAN: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: All right, don`t go anywhere. As the U.S. hits a major milestone of vaccinations, the one and only Steve Kornacki here at the big board to break down the latest numbers. That`s coming next.


HAYES: You know, life is complicated and being a human in the world presents all kinds of challenges all the time. I mean, maybe you`re in a fight with a friend or a family member or someone else and it`s bumming you out, it`s keeping you up at night. Maybe you have some kind of workplace conflict or you have a relative who is sick or your kid is getting bullied in school or you`re in debt and stressing your finances. I mean, there are just all kinds of sources of anxiety and difficulty around us.

And it is never the case that you can just go and get a shot and take it all away. It`s not how life works. That never happens. Which means the coronavirus vaccine is as close to a magic wand as will exists in our life.

Over the last year, the virus has been a source of tremendous stress and anxiety and heartache and grief and actual peril to your health. And now, you can just go and get a shot and essentially make all that stress disappear. That`s why people talk about getting emotional when they`re getting the vaccine.

It`s so remarkable because nothing else in life works that way. In that sense, it really is a miracle. Just today, President Joe Biden announced we have administered 200 million doses of the vaccine in less than 100 days, in 92 days which is great news. And here to crunch the number to tell us exactly how much of our country is vaccinated and how much we still have to go is the great Steve Kornacki back at the big board.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Chris, thanks. Let`s take a look. A couple of different ways at the way we can look at the numbers. And by the way, plan your, that`s NBC`s way of helping you figure out where, how, when can you go get the vaccination. Like right now, 40.5 percent, a little bit more than 40 percent of the entire population, everybody in the United States from the oldest to the youngest, and the entire population in this country now 40.5 have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.

Now, there are a couple of other ways to break down this number. That`s everybody. What about just the adult age population, folks 18 years and older? The number gets higher there. In fact, it was this week that that milestone of 50 percent of the adult population in the country having at least one dose. We crossed that milestone this week, 51.5 percent.

Work your way up to senior citizens, the most vulnerable group, 65-plus, now over 80 percent of seniors. That number continuing to rise with at least one dose. You can add another layer on to this fully vaccinated, getting both shots. Take a look at that category for these groups, and again, it`s basically a quarter of the total population, a third of the adult population, and two-thirds fully -- two-thirds of the senior population.

And just as a reminder, I think, when you look at those numbers among seniors, that rate of vaccination there -- look there again, there have been more than half a million deaths tragically from COVID. Look how skewed it has been towards seniors though, 81 percent. Of those deaths you see there, more than 80 percent have come from those 65 and older, 95 of those deaths have come from folks 50 and older.

So, when you see vaccination rates that high right now for seniors for older Americans, keep that in mind right there, and that also probably goes a long way to explaining this what you see here. This is the rolling average here of deaths from COVID.

Remember, early this year, we were really hitting that new peak early this year. This right here, this is basically the start of February. This is basically the point where we cross the 10 percent threshold for vaccinations and it`s been climbing and climbing, you know, millions every day really since then.

And as that`s happened, you can see here that daily rolling average of the death rate has really dropped. It`s kind of plateaued a bit lately. One thing we`ve seen lately is there are more and more people getting vaccinated every day, but the exponential growth in vaccinations actually seems to be stopping, maybe even slowing a little bit.

So, that might be the cause for concern at least right now, can you get that really ramped up, get those numbers even higher than we`ve seen. One other way of looking at this quickly is to compare that one shot for the adult population in the U.S. How does that compare to some other countries around the world to just give you a sense of the range that`s out there right now.

So, for at least one shot, Israel kind of leads the way internationally 62 percent there. If you look, by the way, at Israel right now, this could be a preview of what`s to come here. If you look at the new daily cases in Israel, they`re really getting low right now.

One other thing I think that`s notable, Japan, Summer Olympics is supposed to be this summer in Japan, one percent right now in japan of the adult population there has at least one.

HAYES: Yes, that chart, that one you got up there, is so fascinating. Israel, we should note, of course, that`s Israel proper, not the West Bank and Gaza in terms of the population that is vaccinated. That`s the denominator there.

But Israel, U.K., and United States, I mean, those are places that had bad outbreaks, had a tough time. Whereas, if you look at places like Japan or Germany, like, they did a much better job of suppressing the virus but it`s topsy-turvy in terms of who`s vaccinating and what countries were doing a better job on the suppression then.

KORNACKI: And I think interesting too, you note the U.K. versus U.S. here. Keep in mind, this is at least one dose because the way they`ve stressed this, the rollout in the U.K. has been to get everybody at least one dose and in some cases kind of put off that second dose. If you looked at the fully vaccinated numbers, the U.S. would actually vault past the U.K. on that one.

HAYES: Yes. Among large countries, we are up near the top. Steve Kornacki, that was fantastic. Thanks for joining us tonight. Good to see you.

KORNACKI: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: All right, massive arrests in Russia tonight. Thousands of protesters are taking to the streets in support of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny who doctors say could die at any minute. Ben Rhodes on what the Biden Administration can do next.


HAYES: Thousands and thousands of people took to the streets across Russia today to protest the treatment of imprisoned opposition leader Alexey Navalny. His health is failing. There is real concern he is essentially slowly being killed by Russian state, by President Vladimir Putin in front of the world.

And people gathered in cities and towns like Vladivostok which is a port city not too far from China and North Korea chanting, "Putin is a thief." In the other side of the country, the capital city of Moscow, protesters chanted, "get a doctor to Navalny."

I mean, people gathered to support his wife Yulia who also took to the streets. According to one human rights group, nearly 1,500 people were arrested in Russia as the government cracked down the protesters. Incredibly brave what those folks are doing.

There`s a new administration in the White House that is no longer openly deferential to Vladimir Putin, but still, it`s the same set of intractable problems between the two countries. The Biden Administration just leveled new sanctions against Russia for their sprawling act on the U.S. government.

Russia expelled 10 U.S. diplomats in response. Satellite photo show Russia has more war planes closer to Ukraine than previously disclosed, and nearly 100,000 Russian troops on the border. But how does the U.S. manage to create some kind of workable bilateral relationship with Putin`s Russia?

Ben Rhodes served as the Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications under President Barack Obama. He has closely been following developments on Russia, tweeted out "It`s hard to capture the profound sadism and broad ramifications of slowly killing your most powerful and popular opponent in front of the entire world. What Putin is doing to Navalny is a defining moment in our times and people must not look away."

And Ben Rhodes joins me now. You know, Ben, I think obviously the this relationship was very strange under Donald Trump. His deference to Putin was very strange, his refusal to criticize. But it was also always the case that the difficulty of this relationship was deeper than Trump, and you`re really seeing that now.

It`s like, OK, well, Trump is gone and we could, you know, do sanctions and we can call out human rights abuses, but I don`t know how much that changes Russian behavior. Like, how do you see the path forward here?

BEN RHODES, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: Well, first of all, Putin tends to make the decisions that he thinks are his best interest for his own domestic political standing. And the U.S. has tried pressure and he`s done what he wanted to do whether he`s in places like Ukraine or Syria. We`ve tried to have resets of relationships with Russia and he`s still done those things.

HAYES: Right.

RHODES: So, I think we have to understand that Putin is going to make these judgments particularly about how he treats people at home on his own. But at the same time, what we can do is shape those choices and pose a cause. Because part of what Putin is doing and part of what I was referring to in that tweet is not just strangling Russian opposition in civil society, he has been at the vanguard of a brand of nationalism and authoritarianism that has spread around the world as well.

And it`s important for the United States to take a stand not just against Putin but against that trend which we`ve seen even reaching of course our own border.

HAYES: But this is always the problem to me with Russia is like, and then what question, right? Like -- and it keeps being the problem. It`s a nuclear power, right? I mean, so you know, when you talk about the Donbas, when you look at Eastern Ukraine, OK, you know, they basically straight up stole Crimea. It was an international crime. You can`t just go and take another country.

We impose sanctions. Those had some costs but they thought for their own security was probably worth the cost, right? We`re not going to go to war with the nuclear power and they know that. If they kill Navalny in front of the world, it`s like, OK, what`s the answer to the "then what" question?

RHODES: To me, the answer is that we take the work that Alexey Navalny has been doing. And we do things that are not only necessary to confront Putin, but also to uphold the things that we care about around the world.

What do I mean by this? Alexey Navalny has been successful because he has relentlessly exposed the corruption of Putin and his circle. The day that he returned to Russia and was imprisoned, he released a video about a house that Putin owns that is the most expensive house in the world.

If the United States government wanted to reveal the full extent of Vladimir Putin`s corruption and that of his circle, we could do that. If the United States of America wanted to spend much more resources cracking down on money laundering on the trafficking of dark money through the American financial system that supports the oligarchy of not just Vladimir Putin but some of his like-minded friends around the world, we could do that.

So, to me, it`s about going on offense not necessarily against just Putin himself but against the brand of corruption that he represents, that Navalny and his supporters and those people in the streets are so frustrated with. That`s something that we have not yet done and could do.

HAYES: So, I want to make an argument on the other side just as a devil`s advocate because I think it`s a thorny problem, right? The way in the other direction is like look, we need a modus (INAUDIBLE) with Russia. We just have to find one.

Again, a nuclear power, like, we don`t want nuclear war. And so, doing those -- like, we`re sort of caught in an escalatory game here. And you saw this a little bit with Biden, right? The same day that Biden is saying, here are the sanctions for the SolarWinds hacks. It`s like, let`s find an off-ramp, here`s a summit, that the things you`re describing keep us in the escalatory loop.

I`m not saying they`re wrong. I`m just like gaming out is there a way that we unilaterally bring the relationship into something more functional or is that just not possible?

RHODES: I`m not sure, Chris, that it`s possible with Vladimir Putin running Russia.


RHODES: And we have to recognize that`s because of Vladimir Putin not because of us. That said, I don`t think we should be going to look for war here. I don`t think that we should be going to look for cyber escalation upon escalation. The big -- the big complex relationship between the U.S. and Russia has enabled for corruption -- sorry, for cooperation on things like the Iran Nuclear Deal or nuclear arms control at the same time that we`re confronting our -- each other in other areas.

Again, I do think we have to do certain things because we care about them not just in Russia but globally. The reason to go after corruption and autocracy is not because we`re seeking to get rid of Putin in Russia, it`s because we`re seeking to get rid of those things globally. And the United States can take a stand for those principles not just in opposition to Putin but everyone.

HAYES: Yes. The point about money laundering is really, really, really well said. Ben Rhodes, thank you so much.

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