The Republicans Party or the Party of Trump struggles in the age of President Joe Biden. The Giuliani probe rams up after the FBI search of his home and office. Roger Stone said tonight on Real America`s Voice that he never accepted a penny from Greenberg. Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California is calling for Republican leader Kevin McCarthy to remove Matt Gaetz from the House Judiciary Committee immediately. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he expects to drive cases down enough to fully reopen New York City by July 1st. Republican legislators in more than 40 states have introduced hundreds of bills, targeting voting access and seizing authority over administering elections.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: The 2021 Inspiration List features Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bubba Wallace, Jose Andres and more inspiring America will air tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on NBC and on Sunday May 2nd right here on MSNBC at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
And that is the REIDOUT tonight. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.
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ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): Tonight, on ALL IN, big news on the Rudy front, a bombshell letter that appears to implicate Matt Gaetz, and the Republican Party in disarray takes another step to suppress the vote. Tonight, we`re learning about the Giuliani investigation and where it could be headed.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: That is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what they`re looking for when it comes to Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump.
MAXWELL: Then, the Daily Beast reporter who broke the latest Matt Gaetz bombshell joins me live.
Plus, outrage over a new Florida election bill designed to keep Republicans in power. And as the Biden administration bans travel from India, and vaccine hesitancy persists, there are new concerns about opening up. ALL IN starts right now.
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MAXWELL (on camera): Good evening from Washington D.C. I`m Zerlina Maxwell in for Chris Hayes. It`s been more than four months since Donald Trump left the White House for the very last time and Joe Biden was inaugurated as the new president. And still, for Republicans, everything is about Donald Trump.
We probably should have seen it coming in 2020 when the Republican Party did not even bother to write a new party platform. Instead, they just stated their support of Donald Trump and recycled the one from 2016. That included three dozen dated condemnations of the current president referring, of course, to Barack Obama.
And that is because there is no real Republican Party right now. They don`t have a policy platform. The Republican National Committee is all about Donald Trump. The Republican Party does not stand for anything besides supporting Donald Trump. And now that he`s out of office, the rest of the party is flailing.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who you may remember got escorted out of the U.S. Capitol building in the midst of the January 6th riot as hordes of Trump supporters rushed the building chanting, hang Mike Pence. Well, he wants a future in this Republican Party, maybe a 2024 presidential run. And so, that means he is not going to try to distance himself from Donald Trump or do anything to blaze his own path.
Yesterday, Mike Pence spoken at an event in South Carolina where he praised the many works of Donald Trump.
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MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In 48 months, the Trump-Pence administration achieved the lowest unemployment, the highest household incomes, the most energy production, the most pro-American trade deals, the most secure border, and the strongest military in the history of our country.
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MAXWELL: Pence is willing to overlook Trump literally calling him out as rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol because he wants to be the next president. And right now, you can`t be a Republican politician without the favor of Donald Trump because Donald Trump commands the base.
but Mike Pence isn`t going to be elected president. He has no constituency. The Trump base who stormed the Capitol on January 6th weren`t chanting, we love Mike Pence. Someone who was at the Capitol insurrection probably has a better chance of being elected than the real Mike Pence. Like this guy, Jason Howland who is running for Michigan`s 31st house seat district in 2022 and who was literally spotted in the throng pushing its way up to the Capitol steps.
And he`s not alone. There are at least three people who attended the insurrection that are now running for elected office. Another Republican positioning himself as Trump`s successor is South Carolina Senator Tim Scott who delivered the Republican rebuttal to President Biden`s speech before Congress this week. And who, despite describing his own experiences with racism, made the absolutely outrageous claim that America is not a racist country, just months after literal avowed white supremacists and this guy attempted to overturn our election.
The modern Republican Party has never been known for its ideological coherency, but they are twisting in the wind and digging into one sided culture war topics like the war on hamburgers and Dr. Seuss, oh yes, and Mr. Potatohead because without Donald Trump, they have absolutely no plan.
I`m joined now by two former members of the Republican Party, Jennifer Rubin, a Washington Post columnist who writes the Right Turn column and David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida who left the party two and a half years ago. We should note both of these folks are not Republicans any longer, which is important to frame this conversation.
Jennifer, I want to start with you. What is the current guiding principle of this Republican Party? Do you see a way that changes in the future?
JENNIFER RUBIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think there are two guiding principle. One, anti-democracy, they are opposed to democracy. They want fewer people to vote so that hopefully they could turn out their white supporters and maintain their grip on power as the country changes demographically and leaves them behind.
And the second, of course, is this adulation of Donald Trump who himself doesn`t stand for anything but simply stands for Donald Trump. So, I agree with your analysis entirely. And I think one of the reasons why you see this sort of ridiculous cultural wars is they have to keep the pot stirring, they have to keep the base angry, and anger and engagement for them as the same thing.
So, without Donald Trump, to tweet every day and get them exercise over this or that, it leaves the rest of them to come up with these, as you say, ban hamburgers or Dr. Seuss or whatever the latest nonsense is, which of course, has nothing to actually do with our politics and with public policy.
So, I think they`re not even trying to imitate a political party anymore. They don`t have ideals, they don`t have principles, they didn`t really have a response to the President. That was a hot mess of a speech that Tim Scott gave. He would be a nice and admirable man but there was no content to that speech.
There was not a single idea he advanced. He gave Donald Trump who killed hundreds of thousands of people by failing to attack the Coronavirus credit. You know, it`s kind of a weird time warp when you go in and listen to these people to parallel universe.
MAXWELL: It really feels that way, Jennifer, often. And Adam Serwer, thankfully, who is still allowed to tweet, he tweeted today, a strange kind of denial greeted Trump`s ascension. And a similar one is setting in after his defeat both about what he did and represented, as though he were just an aberration rather than a manifestation of beliefs that have plagued American democracy since the founding.
So, David, is the heart of the Republican Party vastly different now than it was pre-Trump? How in your view hasn`t changed the most?
DAVID JOLLY (R), FORMER FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: Well, I think we learned a lot about the heart of the Republican Party in the first four years. And I think that`s the most telling lesson of the Trump era. Look, I would make the case there is a soft ideological line that continues to thread through the Republican Party, largely anti-tax and anti-regulation. And you could make the case irresponsibly so based on recent enactment of that agenda.
Perhaps there were some aberrations during Trump with a more populist trade policy, clearly an abandonment of fiscal responsibility as it relates to the debt and the deficit. But I think what we learned about the Republican Party that was most telling is that it was a party willing to elevate and celebrate a leader, a president, who routinely attacked and undermined our very republic and our democracy.
He undermined our security alliances with the West, he undermined our intelligence agencies, he undermined our judiciary, our press. He undermined the right of peaceful assembly. He undermined our own public health. He was a president impeached twice, including the second time for the attacks of January 6th.
And yet, what we learned about the Republican Party is they`re OK with that. And in fact, they`re willing to do it all over again if it gives them the keys to power in Washington D.C. That`s the most damning thing we`ve learned about the Republican Party. That has not gone away.
Adam`s tweet is right. I think a lot of Republicans are just assuming that none of this ever happened. They`re happy with the accomplishments of Donald Trump. There is zero self-reflection on the man himself that they celebrated, and that they elevated to the Oval Office, and would do so again at `24 if he runs.
MAXWELL: He had two impeachments and one term. We have only one more minute left, Jennifer, but in terms of the principles, the Republican Party needs to rediscover because being anti-democratic and in favor of authoritarianism and those impulses, that`s not something that is healthy for our democracy. So in your view, what are those things that the Republican Party needs to go back to from their past in terms of the principles?
RUBIN: Well, one of the reasons Donald Trump took over the Republican Party was because they had kind of run into an intellectual cul-de-sac. The ideas from the 1980s really don`t have much salience now. And you can see by their defense of corporate America and their defense of Reaganomics that kind of stuff just doesn`t sell in America.
So, I wouldn`t recommend that they go back to an ideology that`s now going on 40 years old. I think they have to sit down and think about what they have to offer that is relevant, that is acceptable, and that gives a future for them and the country. And they`ve never done that hard work. They just haven`t.
MAXWELL: Well, we`ll see what they do. And in 2012, they did have a whole (INAUDIBLE) done and they didn`t follow it. So, we`ll see if maybe they refer back to that and update their principles a bit. Jennifer Rubin and David Jolly, thank you both for being here. Please stay safe.
JOLLY: Thank you, Zerlina.
MAXWELL: We`re learning more about the investigation into Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. And there`s a specific piece of testimony from the very first impeachment of Donald Trump over a year ago now that you`ll want to see because it gets to the heart of it, and we`ll show you next.
MAXWELL: Back in November of 2019, during the first impeachment of Donald Trump, Fiona Hill, then the top Russia expert in the -- on the White House National Security Council testified about Rudy Giuliani`s apparent interest in Ukraine.
Remember, that first impeachment was about Trump allegedly soliciting help from Ukraine for his reelection. And it was clear way back then that his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, he was involved especially with the ousting of U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. And part of the reason we know that is because of Fiona Hill`s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee where she recalls a conversation with then former National Security Adviser John Bolton.
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FIONA HILL, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR EUROPEAN AND RUSSIAN AFFAIRS, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: It was part of a conversation about the things that Mr. Giuliani was saying very frequently in public. And we saw them often -- or saw him often on television making these statements. And I had already brought to Ambassador Bolton`s attention the attacks, the smear campaign against Ambassador Yovanovitch and expressed great regrets about how this was unfolding. And, in fact, the shameful way in which Ambassador Yovanovitch was being smeared and attacked.
And I`d asked if there was anything that we could do about it. And Ambassador Bolton had looked pained, basically indicated with body language that there was nothing much that we could do about it. And he then in the course of that discussion said that Rudy Giuliani was a hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up.
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MAXWELL: Well, a year and a half later, things are certainly blowing up for Rudy Giuliani. That suspicious involvement in Ukraine that Fiona Hill described is why he is in trouble now. It is why the FBI raided his home in office earlier this week, seizing his electronic devices.
For more on the Rudy investigation, I want to bring in Harry Sandvik, former assistant U.S. Attorney in the criminal division for the Southern District of New York where of course Rudy Giuliani was in charge as the U.S. attorney from 1983 to 1989. So, what might these prosecutors be looking for in Rudolph Giuliani`s home and office?
HARRY SANDICK, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY IN THE CRIMINAL DIVISION, SDNY: Good evening. Thank you. I think what they`re looking for is evidence that there was a violation of a statute called the Foreign Agents Registration Act. This is a statute that says that if you`re going to advocate to the U.S. government on behalf of a foreign principal, like a foreign government official, you need to register with the Department of Justice.
The reason why we have this law is because there`s a belief that we need to know who is advocating for a foreign power, that it`s important that dates back to World War II. And I think what they`re looking for is to see, is there evidence that he was advocating to President Trump or others in the administration for the firing of Ambassador Yovanovitch in order to either provide him with political benefit or perhaps financial benefit.
MAXWELL: Why is it so significant that they would execute a search warrant that they got approval from a judge to go into his residents and office? Why is that in and of itself actually a significant development in this particular context?
SANDICK: Sure. It`s significant for a couple of different reasons. First of all, it`s significant because if you`re getting a search warrant, you have to go to a federal district judge and make a showing that there is probable cause more likely than not that there is evidence of a crime in the place to be searched.
That`s a very high standard. It`s not just a guess, or a suspicion. And you have to show it not to, you know, your colleagues in the U.S. Attorney`s Office, to a federal judge. Secondly, here, it being done search warrant for a lawyer. I can tell you having done this in my career as a prosecutor, you have to clear many thresholds to get a search warrant for a lawyer. And people believe that this search warrant may have been reviewed even by the deputy -- by the deputy attorney general herself.
So, you don`t do that for a fishing expedition. You don`t do that for a guess. You do that when you think you have very strong evidence that a crime was committed. And we saw with Michael Cohen three years ago, almost exactly three years ago, that they believe they had that level of evidence, and only a few months later, he was charged and pleading guilty.
MAXWELL: Yes, and you know, memory is short in this particular case. I feel like, you know, Michael Cohen is out saying, Rudy, I told you, why didn`t you, you know, do what I said. So, Rudy says they already had access to his iCloud which is, you know, as everyone knows where your e-mails and messages get stored even if you try to delete them from a device.
So, could they be going for maybe an obstruction charge looking to see if he`s deleted things that they already had access to on his cloud?
SANDICK: I think that`s possible. I think it`s also possible that they believe perhaps by talking with other witnesses. Remember, there have been other people who have been indicted in the southern district who may have met with the government and given information that he doesn`t just keep information in the cloud.
What if he keeps it on a flash drive? What if he keeps it on a physical hard drive or on a computer that is not backed up in the cloud? We`re so accustomed to all of our lives being backed up in the cloud. But it`s worth remembering that lots of things on computers aren`t backed up in the cloud.
This would have had to have been addressed in the supporting affidavit, a sworn statement by probably an FBI agent that the judge would have reviewed as part of the search warrant process. And from, you know, the fact that they have things in the cloud doesn`t mean they have flash drives, or his other computer information or paper for that matter if that was also within what was being searched.
MAXWELL: We have one minute left, and I wanted to ask you about the news that we just got that the FBI actually told Rudy Giuliani that part of his engagement with the Ukraine and officials in Ukraine was spreading propaganda of Russian intelligence. So, if the FBI comes and tells you that, are you supposed to stop?
SANDICK: You really should stop. That would be the prudent thing to do. But look, I can tell you from my own career as a prosecutor, and even some work I`ve done as a defense lawyer, people who are engaged in criminal activity sometimes have a feeling of invulnerability. They don`t recognize the risks that they face.
Also, he may have thought that the bar at Department of Justice was going to protect him. He also may have thought that the President was going to pardon him. None of those things seemed to have happened and indeed the cloud search warrant happened in 2019. So, just a series of bad calculations based on what`s been reported.
MAXWELL: He might be regretting some of his life choices I imagine in this moment. Harry Sandick, thank you so much for being here tonight and for helping us understand the latest in this investigation.
SANDICK: Thank you.
MAXWELL: Next, a stunning new report from the Daily Beast about Congressman Matt Gaetz. His Florida wingman, a handwritten confession, oh, and of course Roger Stone. The reporter who broke that story joins me right after this break.
MAXWELL: There`s a bombshell new report from the Daily Beast about the investigation into embattled Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida. The Daily Beast says they have obtained what they call a confession letter written by Gaetz`s associate Joel Greenberg a former Florida Republican official.
In the alleged letter, The Daily Beast says, Greenberg claims he and Congressman gates paid for sex with multiple women as well as a girl who was 17 at the time. Greenberg reportedly wrote the letter while working with Roger Stone to secure a pardon from then-President Donald Trump.
NBC News has not been able to independently verify this report. As for comment, Roger Stone told an NBC News producer "I made no effort whatsoever to secure a pardon for Mr. Greenberg. And I took not a dime from him or anyone else seeking a pardon. I have seen no substantiation or actual proof of any of the wild accusations he has made against Congressman Gaetz."
And today, the PR firm hired by Congressman Matt gates provided NBC News with this statement and asked that it be read in its entirety. "Congressman Gates has never paid for sex, nor has he had sex with a 17-year-old as an adult. Politico has reported Mr. Greenberg`s threats to make false accusations against others. And while the Daily Beast story contains a lot of confessions from Mr. Greenberg, it does not add anything of substance and certainly no evidence for the wild and false claims about Representative Gaetz. In fact, the story goes some way to showing how Representative Gaetz was long out of touch with Mr. Greenberg and had no interest in involving himself in Mr. Greenberg`s affairs."
Jose Pagliery broke that story in the Daily Beast where he is a political investigations reporter and he joins me now. So, how did you obtain and verify this letter?
JOSE PAGLIERY, POLITICAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, "THE DAILY BEAST": So, obviously, we can`t reveal who your sources are. That`s just the policy we`ve got. We do have to protect them. But I can say that we went to great lengths to verify the authenticity of this letter. So, multiple sources did confirm that these letters were authentic, as well as the text message -- text messages.
And we actually went out and compared the handwriting in this letter to public records. So, Joel Greenberg ran for office, right, and he had lots of documents he had to fill out. And so we made public records request to get them and then got a handwriting expert to take a look at that and compare it to the letter. And that handwriting expert independently said this was a match.
Now, as to the letter itself. It`s interesting that that comment from this PR firm representing the congressman says that there`s nothing of substance here because the reality is, there is. Up until now, we`ve looked at Venmo transactions that we had the Daily Beast exposed. And while they insinuate that behavior, they didn`t exactly prove it.
But this is the first time that someone is explicitly stating what went on. And what this letter says is that Joel Greenberg saw firsthand receiving payments acquiring young women for sex and having sex with a 17-year-old which in Florida is a crime. And the letter states it explicitly.
MAXWELL: In terms of the scope of this investigation, obviously, you`re talking about underage women, potentially and allegedly, according to all of the facts that we have so far, and also travel across state lines. You`re talking about money changing hands in these Venmo transactions that you referenced from your reporting.
So, in terms of all of the things that you`re finding, how do you put all of that together in terms of what the FBI is trying to find and prove in this investigation?
PAGLIERY: Well, this investigation actually, as far as we know, is in the hands of the U.S. Secret Service. They`re the ones who led it because the initial investigation into Joel Greenberg had to do with money, Bitcoin, making threats to a local politician. And so, that`s how it started. It`s blown up since then, and it has gotten really, really big.
But let`s go back to the women for a second, we know that there were several young women who were implicated here. A previous investigation that my colleague Roger Sollenberger at The Daily Beast and I have exposed is how this network of women was used. Lots of them are telling us that they`re victims, but there`s also a lot of involvement on their behalf as well.
And when we were reaching out to several of them, they would block us on Venmo and Instagram and stop receiving our text messages, some of them have lawyered up.
And so, we know that the investigators are looking at all of this, and it`s a -- it`s quite a sprawling investigation at this point, it doesn`t just have to do with this allegation of sex trafficking.
And we do have one, at least one woman who was 17 at the time, but we hear that lots of the other ones were young women who were in college.
But again, I want to go back to the news that we broke yesterday, which is this letter, there`s a lot in that letter. This is the first time that we know of that this is explicitly stated by Joel Greenberg. And understanding the context of this letter is important.
Greenberg didn`t write this because he was cutting a deal with prosecutors, as we hear he`s doing now. He actually wrote this in an attempt to get a pardon from President Trump and make this all go away.
And so, if we`re talking about what the context of the letter is, and why he would talk about Matt Gaetz, he`s actually trying to save himself. He just does it in a way that`s incredibly damning for this common -- for this congressman.
MAXWELL: It seems strange to think about him asking Roger Stone, though, to sort of go and act as his agent to try to ask Donald Trump for this.
Roger Stone said tonight on Real America`s Voice that he never accepted a penny from Greenberg. Let`s take a listen. And I want to get your reaction because he`s apparently involved in just about everything.
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ROGER STONE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: I never accepted a penny from Mr. Greenberg, or anyone else who was seeking a presidential pardon. I`m aware of no actual evidence or proof that Congressman Matt Gaetz has done anything wrong.
Like you, I`ve read the allegations but where`s the beef? I`ve seen no evidence that this is true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAXWELL: We only have a short amount of time here. But what is your reaction? Why is Roger Stone literally in every political scandal?
PAGLIERY: OK, that`s a great question. I guess he`s just been around that long playing dirty politics with so many involved.
But the truth is, if he wants to see the evidence, he`s welcome to go to The Daily Beast website and check it out. Because we`ve actually put the screenshots of the text messages right there. And they are an explicit detail as well.
Greenberg details, everything he claims he did, and this deal where he`s trying to seek this pardon from the Trump -- from Trump, and he`s doing it through Stone. And in those texts, it`s clear that Stone is making lots of promises.
MAXWELL: Jose Pagliery, thank you so much. It was great reporting. And as the story continues, I will pay very close attention to your updates.
PAGLIERY: Thank you.
MAXWELL: I want to bring in Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California who is calling for Republican leader Kevin McCarthy to remove Matt Gaetz from the House Judiciary Committee immediately.
Congressman, why is it so important to remove Matt Gaetz from the Judiciary Committee?
REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Thank you Zerlina for your question. Like all Americans, Congressman Matt Gaetz is entitled to the presumption of innocence. But he is not entitled to sit on the House Judiciary Committee. That is an honor and a privilege.
And this committee has jurisdiction over the Department of Justice, which is the very department that has opened a criminal investigation in which Matt Gaetz is a subject, that is a clear conflict of interest and leader Kevin McCarthy must remove Matt Gaetz from the committee immediately.
MAXWELL: Why are you asking for this to happen? Why isn`t Kevin McCarthy speaking up and saying Matt Gaetz should step down from his committee assignments himself?
LIEU: I am on the House Judiciary Committee and I believe this is a conflict of interest. I hope Republican leader Kevin McCarthy also sees that this is a conflict of interest.
And you know, for a party that in the past used to proclaim family values, this seems very antithetical to family values.
MAXWELL: Do you think he should resign from Congress entirely Matt Gaetz?
LIEU: So, again, Representative Gaetz is entitled to presumption of interest of innocence. But I do want to say that these charges are extremely serious.
If the allegations are true, and Representative Gaetz did in fact, either pay for sex with a minor or entice a minor for sex, under federal law, that is a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.
And then, there`s already Florida State law that makes it illegal for anyone over 23 to have sex with a minor and that is punishable by up to 15 years of imprisonment.
MAXWELL: Hypocrisy these days, I mean, particularly in this post-Trump era. I don`t know that this version of the Republican Party cares that much if we say, hey, you`re being hypocritical, you asked Katie Hill to resign, you asked Al Franken to resign without proof of their guilt that was preempted that -- do you think that Republicans care about hypocrisy at this point?
You know, Matt Gaetz is still in Congress and I don`t really hear anybody except Adam Kinzinger saying that there`s a problem here.
LIEU: I`m glad that Adam Kinzinger has spoken out. I hope more Republicans speak out. I believe every Republican member of Congress should be asked why they still support having Matt Gaetz on the House Judiciary Committee.
And again, this doesn`t have to do with whether or not Matt Gaetz did these allegations. It has to do with that he`s under a criminal investigation from the very department over which the House Judiciary Committee has oversight. It`s simply a conflict of interest.
The Republicans can put someone else on the committee temporarily. It`s not like they`re going to lose a slot which simply you can`t say you can`t have Matt Gaetz there.
MAXWELL: Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you so much for being here and please stay safe. Have a great weekend.
LIEU: Thank you.
MAXWELL: Still ahead, as vaccination rates climb, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city could fully reopen by the summer. But how soon is too soon? The road to normal after this.
MAXWELL: In response to India`s raging COVID outbreak, today, the Biden administration announced that it will restrict travel from that country to the United States starting on Tuesday on the advice of the CDC.
Well, the virus has stretched India`s health care system to a breaking point claiming over 3,000 lives a day. The CDC director has signaled a hopeful trend here in the U.S. with a steady decline in COVID cases.
Yesterday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he expects to drive cases down enough to fully reopen New York City by July 1st. That optimism we are hearing is mainly because vaccines appear to be curbing infections.
Today, the White House announced that 100 million Americans have now been fully vaccinated. That is nearly 40 percent of all U.S. adults.
But if there is one hiccup to all of this, Madad would call that a hitch in the giddy-up, it is that the pace of vaccinations has slowed down.
We seem to have reached the point where it is no longer about meeting demand for shots, but about people who are resistant and do not want the vaccine.
"New social science research suggests that a set of deeply held beliefs is at the heart of many people`s resistance, complicating efforts to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control."
Dr. Syra Madad is an infectious disease epidemiologist and the senior director for the Special Pathogens unit for the New York City Health System and she joins me now.
So, Doctor, are we entering a new phase or a different phase of vaccine hesitancy?
DR. SYRA MADAD, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EPIDEMIOLOGIST: We most certainly are. You know, we right now, I think are in a good position here in the United States where cases and infection rates and deaths are declining, and vaccination rates are increasing.
But certainly, if we are to look at getting out of this pandemic, we want to try to vaccinate as many people as possible.
And we`re going to hit a wall, I would say probably in the next couple of weeks where we`re going to have a surplus of vaccine supplies and less demand for it. You`re seeing that now as you`ve mentioned, you know, less number of people are getting vaccinated on a daily basis.
We certainly want to address vaccine hesitancy right on and front on, if you will. And I think there`s a couple of things to mention. The reasons why people accept, decline, or just want to wait are for many different reasons, it could be because of their political affiliations. And you`re seeing more Republicans refused to get vaccinated. It could also the because of personal experience, knowledge gaps. It could be because of, you know, (INAUDIBLE) racism and general awareness.
So, there`s many different factors here at play that we want to address, you know, very specifically and very methodically, and with compassion and empathy.
MAXWELL: So, how do you modify the messaging for those different groups, for example? So, if you are a younger, healthier person -- you know, elderly Americans, they were online to get this vaccine as soon as it was announced, many of them.
But younger Americans, they`ve been sort of told from the beginning that this doesn`t really hurt young people. Why is that not the right message in this moment with the variance spreading? And how do you modify that messaging to younger people so that they aren`t so vaccine-hesitant?
MADAD: So, I like to use a, you know, a strategy called the truth sandwich (PH) and this is from really the politics where it comes out of the political sphere, and that`s providing key facts.
So, starting with the key fact, when you hear, you know, young people say, well, I`m healthy, I don`t need to get vaccinated, that`s the furthest from the truth.
So, first, young individuals are susceptible to infection, they are susceptible to hospitalization and death and we are seeing that across the U.S. and across the world. More young adults are getting infected ending in -- and ending up in hospitals require ICU care.
And when we look at the younger, you know, populations, certainly, you know, we`re seeing less number in terms of death from them. But we have also the risk of lung COVID. So, you`re seeing lung COVID is something that is infecting many people, both young and old, people that have mild illness, or may not even know that they were infected. And these are, you know, symptoms and issues that they`re facing weeks or months out.
MAXWELL: It`s such a good point about the long-term symptoms and of COVID 19 itself, because people are like, I don`t want to take the vaccine. What about the side effects? And I`m like the side effects of COVID are much worse.
Last question here in the last minute, what about kids? We`ve been talking about getting to herd immunity, does that include vaccinating children?
MADAD: So, I think first, you know, herd immunity is something that was very much talked about, you know, in the first year of the pandemic. And I think we can certainly look at herd immunity or just generally, we don`t need to have herd immunity to slow transmission. And we`re seeing that with COVID-19 vaccines, we`re seeing that the vaccines are extraordinary, they`re working so well.
And that`s where you`re seeing, you know, in New York City that a July 1st, you know, reopening mark, which, you know, is a good goal to achieve. Because it`s not a one-way street, we`re not going to put restrictions and not have -- and have to say that we`re not going to lift them when we`re seeing positive results.
So, when we look at children, we certainly need them to be vaccinated because they make up 25 of the population. And we have vaccines that are in file right now for that population, so we just want to make sure we build that confidence in the young generation as well.
MAXWELL: You mentioned the July 1st date, in the last -- we just have like one more second, is that too early to reopen?
MADAD: I think it`s certainly it`s based on scientific. We`re looking at indicators and metrics. We are looking at good news, but it`s going to be based on science. But as things continue to trend variance, we`re going to have to be adjust but that`s a good goal.
MAXWELL: Dr. Syra Madad, thank you so much for making the time tonight and please stay safe. Have a great weekend.
MADAD: Thanks for having me on.
MAXWELL: Since losing the White House, it`s been a top priority for Republicans to make it harder for people to vote and they just scored another victory on that front in Florida. The Republican threat to democracy, up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You watched Joe Biden last night deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress. He repeated twice this proposition that we are a systemically racist country, your reaction?
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Well, it`s a bunch of horse manure. I mean, give me a break.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAXWELL: Well, Republicans nowadays seem to lack any real governing agenda, meaning they can`t tell you what they are for. They have no problem telling you what they`re against, like so-called wokeness. Biden`s made up ban on red meat and oh, democracy.
So far, Republican legislators in more than 40 states have introduced hundreds of bills, targeting voting access and seizing authority over administering elections.
Yesterday, Florida became the latest state to pass a bill that will make it harder for millions of people to vote by putting restrictions on drop boxes and voting by mail.
It does not include the provision that got banned -- that banned people from giving food and water to voters waiting in line.
Republicans soften the language to instead ban anyone from "Engaging in any activity with the intent to influence or effect or the effect of influencing a voter."
I`m joined now by Florida State Senator Shevrin Jones, a Democrat representing parts of Broward and Miami Dade counties. And Ari Berman, senior reporter for Mother Jones, whose latest piece is called Florida Republicans just passed a Georgia-style voter suppression bill and who is the author of the great book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.
So, Ari, how restrictive is this bill on a scale from one to 10 in your view?
ARI BERMAN, SENIOR REPORTER, MOTHER JONES: Well, it`s pretty restrictive Zerlina. And considering that Florida was cited as a model for election integrity by Donald Trump, by Ron DeSantis, it`s extremely restrictive, because this was the state they said was the model for the rest of the country in terms of how to run elections.
And then, when Democrats and black voters started using vote by mail at a higher rate than Republicans, that`s when they decided to roll back mail voting, to ban drop boxes, to expand challenges, to vote counting.
So, they wrote the rules, they won under the rules, but the minute that new demographic groups started using those rules, now they`re rolling them back.
MAXWELL: The same question to you Senator, do you think this bill is as bad as Ari lays that out? What`s your rating on a scale of one to 10?
SEN. SHEVRIN JONES (D-FL): Absolutely, I think Ari is spot on and truth be told, there is no scale when it comes to how we scale on the barriers when it comes to our civil liberties.
Florida creating these barriers is nothing but a power grab attempt by the Republicans. Truth be told, because they lost.
When you`re talking about restricting how an individual can go to the ballot box to drop off their ballot, restricting those hours from nine to five, knowing that individuals are at work, knowing that within the African-American community that is where blue collar workers are working. Florida knew exactly what they were doing when they created these laws.
This was a record number year for individuals went out to vote. And because of that, they changed the rules.
And this is no difference, this is a total reminiscent of the Jim Crow era. Only now, instead of Jim Crow, they`re called elected officials, and they are our sheriffs, state legislators, senators and governors and Florida is moving the goalposts.
MAXWELL: Ari, it feels to me to that point that, you know, there`s a blueprint that states are following here, following the lead of Georgia. So, in your view, did Georgia just start this off and all other states are like, OK, we`ll take that legislation and we`ll one-up you.
BERMAN: Yes, it`s absolutely true that Georgia has become the blueprint for Republican voter suppression efforts all across the country.
I mean, we`re seeing identical provisions now in state after state. We`re seeing limiting drop boxes, making it harder to get mail ballots, banning voters from getting food and water in line, expanding challenges to vote counting. These are all things that Georgia did that`s now happening in Florida, in Arkansas and other states.
And it`s also clear that Georgia is the tip of the iceberg, that every week now, it seems like a new state restricts voting rights. And this is extremely alarming and we are in a very dire moment for democracy.
A lot of people (INAUDIBLE) Georgia, we couldn`t let this happen in other states. Well, it`s happening in Florida. It`s happening in Montana. It`s happening in Texas. It`s happening in Arizona. Republican voter suppression is happening unchecked right now and that`s the most disturbing thing about all of this.
MAXWELL: Senator, it feels to me like, you know, to Ari`s point, this started in Georgia. And folks were like, OK, this is bad, right? They put the piece in the Georgia bill originally, you can`t even give food and water to people standing on a line.
But then I`m like, why are people on this line? The line is there because of other types of voter suppression, like closing polling locations.
So, in your view, is the messaging to voters clear enough about what the Republicans are attempting to do here?
JONES: Well, the one thing I`m clear on is that the voters recognize that their voices are being heard and that`s why people are coming out to vote in the manner that they are doing.
And so, because people recognize what the Republicans are doing, all of this is doing is adding fuel to the flame to our people saying that, OK, we`ve seen this before, we`ve been here before. If you want to try to restrict us to vote, therefore, we`re going to come out in more massive numbers.
I can tell you this, that groups, they know what the Republicans are doing, and they are already organized and to do the -- to do these things, to ensure that we are prepared for the next election.
I`ll say this, that as long as we are moving in this direction and the Republicans know that they are losing, people will continue to come out and show strength in numbers to ensure that our voices are heard.
Because, as long as we are in this position that we`re in now and moving in this direction with someone like President Joe Biden, people know that we are better than what we were a few months ago when we had Donald Trump. We`re going to keep moving forward.
MAXWELL: We just have one more minute here. But Ari, in an exchange between Louisiana Senator John Kennedy and Stacey Abrams, I`m just going to paraphrase it instead of playing you the sound.
But essentially, it was trying to get her to explain how their voter suppression law in Georgia is racist. The racism seems pretty baked in.
So, to speak to how these bills are racist, just explain what she was trying to articulate in the hearing.
BERMAN: Well, what she was trying to articulate in the hearing and what`s happening all across the country, is that Republicans are targeting the voting methods that were used to increase turnout among black voters and voters of color.
And in Florida, they`re attacking mail voting after the black share of mail voting doubled from 2016 to 2020. Florida Republicans were fine with mail voting when white people were voting by mail. But when black people started voting by mail, then they`re trying to roll it back.
And that`s the exact same thing that`s happened in Georgia. That`s what`s behind all of these voter suppression efforts, that when black voters` communities of color turnout in higher numbers, instead of trying to reach out to more voters, you change the voting laws to try to disenfranchise people in future elections.
MAXWELL: Senator, can we fight these bills without federal legislation as American voters?
JONES: Well, listen, we can -- we can definitely fight. We need the federal government to fight these, but we also have to fight these things on the ground. It`s going to have -- it`s going to take us to be on our feet to fight these tooth and nail.
And I can tell you, right now, that we are prepared to continue to fight these things and take them all the way to the Supreme Court because you cannot and they will not silence the voices of people, because people know exactly what the Republicans are on to and they will not win.
MAXWELL: State Senator Shevrin Jones of Florida and Ari Berman, thank you so much for being here tonight and for helping us discuss this extremely important topic. Voter suppression is anti-Democratic and should not be happening in this moment. So, thank you for making the time tonight to join us.
That is ALL IN for tonight. Chris Hayes will be back on Monday. You can find me hosting my shows Zerlina weeknights at 6:00 streaming on Peacock. Make sure to check it out. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.