Shades of Jim Crow are seen in new voting rollbacks by Republicans across the country. Republicans are whitewashing the insurrection that happened in the Capitol. Feds are probing Matt Gaetz`s travel with women to the Bahamas. Reported Trump fundraising scan gets assistance from the NRCC. President Biden aims to raise $2.5 trillion from corporate taxes.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Well, that ended on an inspirational note. That is the REIDOUT tonight. "ALL WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These new Jim Crow laws are just antithetical to who we are.
HAYES: The backlash to the big lie continues as Republicans give up the game.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, think about all these woke college university students now who automatically be registered to vote. You got an uninformed citizen who may not be prepared and ready to vote.
HAYES: Tonight, how everything old is new again down south.
GOV. HENRY MCMASTER (R-SC): This bill H.R.1 threatens the constitutional sovereignty of the state of South Carolina.
HAYES: Then, new calls for the January 6th commission as reports of plea deals surface and the attempt to launder an insurrection continues.
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: They wandered freely through the Capitol like it was their building or something.
HAYES: Plus, Congresswoman Katie Porter on the jaw-dropping new Trump fundraising scam. And who needs a blanket pardon when you can have a disgraced twice-impeached character witness?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The denial was not only a denial, it was a very firm denial.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. More than six decades ago, the flagship publication of the American right, the National Review, published an editorial in defense of Southern segregationists. A sainted legendary William F. Buckley, founder The Review argued why the South must prevail, writing that "The white community in the south is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail politically and culturally in areas in which it does not predominate numerically because for the time being, it is the advanced race."
That was 1957. Jim Crow obviously was alive and well. Now, fast forward 64 years, we have a new raft of voter suppression laws springing up across the country, and the flagship of the American right is now chastising anyone who would dare make the comparison to Jim Crow. Rich Lowry, the current editor of the National Review, writing that anyone using the Jim Crow charge as a political weapon should hang his head in shame.
Now, to concede the obvious point here, and I will readily concede it, the attack on voting rights we are seeing now is not exactly the same as Jim Crow, right. In the Jim Crow era, the South was a totalitarian one-party state backed by consistent vigilante violence. And many of the laws we have now were not yet on the books. There was a different Supreme Court and understanding of Supreme Court precedent.
So, yes, what is happening now is not Jim Crow, literally. But the historical parallels, well, they`re pretty illuminating nonetheless. As Jamelle Bouie points out in the New York Times, a lot of people have misconception about the voting laws during Jim Crow. The laws that disenfranchise Black Americans in the south and establish Jim Crow did not actually say they were disenfranchising Black Americans and creating a one party racist state.
It`s true. When we think about Jim Crow, this is what springs to mind. We usually think of these images, right? Segregated water fountains and bathrooms that said what they were doing explicitly, whites only, restaurants and businesses. A segregation that was clear and obvious on its face.
Voting laws, however, did not work that way. This is really important to remember, right? Because we had the 15th Amendment, the right to vote (INAUDIBLE) paid with the blood of hundreds of thousands of Union soldiers and freed slaves, right. So, it was illegal and unconstitutional in the constitution to deny the right to vote based on race.
So, the whole decades-long regime of Jim Crow and voting rights was coming up with regulations that were race-neutral on their face. As Jamelle Bouie explains, there was no statute that said Black people cannot vote. Instead, Southern lawmakers fund a web of restrictions and regulations meant to catch most Blacks, as well as many Whites and keep them out of the electorate.
That`s been the entire cat and mouse game to stop multiracial democracy in this country for over a century. For the majority of the time, it has been a non-slave country, right? Since the Civil War, the majority of the time, there were these rules in place. This is what it looked like on the actual frontlines of the Voting Rights fight in 1965 in Selma, Alabama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Dallas County courthouse steps became a dramatic stage as prospective voters lined up for the registrar`s office and signed. The key actor was Sherriff Jim Clark. More than half of Dallas County citizens were Black, but less than one percent were registered by 1965. Throughout much of the South, custom and law had long prevented blacks from registering.
In Selma, the registrar`s office was open only two days a month. Registrar`s would arrive late, leave early, and take long lunch hour. A few blacks who lined up with get in, and getting in was no guarantee of being registered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Oh, no, no. The office is just closed today, ma`am. The registrar is not here. It has nothing to do with race. Oh, we just took some drop boxes out of your neighborhood. There`s nothing about race here. That`s a clip from the amazing, the legendary PBS documentary Eyes on the Prize, which I recommend everybody watch if you can.
And you can see why this is a problem and why in 1965 with a lot of pressure and blood and sweat and tears and protests, the federal government had to step in with the Voting Rights Act. Now, the Voting Rights Act had a few brilliant provisions. One being, if certain states or localities or districts not restricted to the South, we should note, with a history of discriminatory practices wanted to change their voting procedures, they had to go through a process called preclearance.
The Justice Department will evaluate whether the proposed law was a harmless change or whether it was just another one of the old tricks that have ruled for so many years. The key innovation there was that they were concerned with what the effect of the law would be, the disparate impact. So, no one can say, oh, wow, closing the register office early hurts all the Black folks who work until five? Who would a guess? We were just -- we wanted the register`s office to be closed early because it saved money, you see.
Now, conservatives gutted precisely that provision of the Voting Rights Act, right, back in 2013. Conservative Supreme Court Justice John Roberts famously writing things have changed dramatically in the South and throwing out the preclearance requirement, or at least the formula for it, telling Congress to come up with a better formula for which areas should be covered by it.
Now, Republicans since then have shown zero, zero interest in doing that, even though they`re in Congress. They could take it up if they wanted to. And so, what it means is that court decision has set off nearly a decade of attempts to suppress the vote, battles in state after state as Republicans get back to well, let`s say new tricks.
So, here we are in the year 2021. The Republican Governor of South Carolina, the state I should note for just historical accuracy of the Nullification Crisis, and Fort Sumter is arguing against another federal bill, H.R.1 that would protect and restore voting rights.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCMASTER: This bill H.R.1 threatens the constitutional sovereignty of the state of South Carolina. Those are not just words. That`s very important. This country, our state is built on the sovereignty of the states. This bill takes that away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The sovereignty of the states. Our country is built on the sovereignty of the states. It`s a claim you`ve heard before throughout American history, right? The federal voting rights law would be an egregious affront to the sovereignty of the states, particularly the sovereignty of the great state of South Carolina.
How can anyone listen to Governor Henry McMaster bringing about the indignity of the federal government coming into his state to preserve equitable access to the ballot and think this has anything at all to do with Jim Crow?
Ilya Shapiro is the Vice President and director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at Libertarian Cato Institute, who wrote about what he calls the outrageous double standard of the backlash of Georgia`s new election law in the National Review this week, and he joins me now.
It`s great to have you on, Ilya. I wanted to start with just some sort of historical, conceptual level setting, right? Because I think you and I would agree on a few basic things. One is that clearly, it is the case that as a -- that is a conceptual matter one could devise a facially race- neutral voting change that actually is designed to or has an effect that`s disproportionate racially, right?
ILYA SHAPIRO, VICE PRESIDENT, THE CATO INSTITUTE: Particularly if you have legislators saying, you know, I want to make sure that Democrats don`t vote or I want to make sure that racial minorities don`t vote. If you have evidence of that kind of intent, then and you`re harming only areas that are predominantly, you know, Democrat or minority, that`s suspect.
HAYES: Right. But you don`t -- I mean, I guess that`s interesting you introduced the point of intent, right, because to me, you know, in some cases, if you go through the historical record, particularly in Jim Crow laws, you do catch legislators saying things like, the goal of this law is to restore white supremacy to the state. That`s an actual quote, I think, from a felon disenfranchisement debate back in those days.
But in a lot of times, they don`t say that, right? Because they are aware of the 15th Amendment. So, they say things like, no, no, no, we just want to protect ballot integrity, right? So, in a historical sense, it`s also just a historical matter that people have used facially race-neutral changes in the project of keeping particularly Black people away from the polls.
SHAPIRO: Well, to the extent that whatever reforms in the last decade or so since Shelby County or otherwise, are meant to suppress votes, they`ve done a tremendously bad job. Voter turnout has increased. Mississippi and Georgia have higher Black turnout rates than White turnout rates. After voter ID was introduced, whether it`s in places like Indiana, or Georgia, or Tennessee, people came out more to vote including Blacks.
So, I mean, you know, you can talk about voter suppression, but it`s just as much of a myth as Republicans going around talking about voter fraud all over the place.
HAYES: Well, that`s not true, right? I mean, first of all, we know that there are disparate impacts to things like in the state of Georgia, right? So, we know that Black voters for instance --
SHAPIRO: I`m not sure.
HAYES: Well, we know that Black voters, for instance, wait on longer lines, right, than White voters. We know that --
SHAPIRO: OK, it`s not good to have long lines, which is why the Georgia law says that if a precinct has too long lines, you have to create more opportunities next time.
HAYES: Wait a second. But if we say that you`ve got, you know, 51 minutes on average for Black voters versus seven minutes for White voters, right? Now, you can say, hey, look at this, when all was said and done, that Black voters voted at a higher rate, which again, that`s great, right?
Look at this. This is data that we got from Jonathan Rodden, who did a great study of this. But it`s still the case that like you are taxing people. So, if people managed to overcome that, well, that`s good, you and I agree. But you shouldn`t have a desperate --
SHAPIRO: But you know who sets up voting places?
HAYES: you shouldn`t have a disparate time tax on people like that, right?
SHAPIRO: But Chris, you know who sets up polling places? It`s counties and the Democratic -- overwhelmingly Democratic counties who have places where a high percentage of the Black vote is in Georgia and elsewhere. So, for whatever reason, they should, you know, create an incentive. They should have the counties do more. And the state is trying to do that by expanding opportunities for early voting for absentee voting.
You know, and in fact, in Georgia, there`s more of that opportunity than places like New York or Delaware.
HAYES: Right, of course, but -- well, the direction of the chain matters. Here`s my question to you about Georgia, which is a law that you`ve defended that you think it`s crazy that anyone`s reading too much into this. My question with this, and the thing is -- the law I`ve seen in Iowa and Texas is what is the problem you`re solving?
So, it`s like, if you come to me and say, we`re now going to change the ballot matching, the signature matching we have the ballots with the voter ID, and Ilya Shapiro and others say, that`s perfectly fine. That`s race neutral. Why does that matter? And my question to you is, what`s the problem you`re solving? Why are you doing that? What was the problem with the signature match?
SHAPIRO: Are you honestly -- Chris, come on. You`re doing a disservice to your -- you`re doing a disservice to your viewers by saying that signature matching is somehow more accurate or less susceptible to suppressing votes that the officials don`t like than matching up by computer these social security number, the driver`s license, all these things that Blacks have the same rights that Whites do. And in fact --
HAYES: Wait a second. Wait a second.
SHAPIRO: -- you know, states like Colorado where Major League Baseball moved its All-Star game has even more of that stuff where they have all mail-in ballots and they have even more of that kind of ballot integrity measures.
HAYES: Right. And they have --
SHAPIRO: Look, Chris, we can agree on so many things, especially that you want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat, and you want to increase public confidence in elections. In Georgia, there`s not that confidence on either the left or the right. And that is why this law was passed.
HAYES: OK, but that public confidence, that is -- that`s the -- that`s the crux of it here, right? Because what you just articulated, which is the rationale that many Georgian Republicans have articulated is that you have to restore confidence. But again, we all live in the world. We read the news. We understand the context here, right?
The context of that confidence, particularly on say, ballot-matching, right, signature matching, is the President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, formerly, and the leader of the Republican Party waged a campaign to say that that ballot matching specifically was fraudulent, that there were many fraudulent votes. The fraudulent votes were particularly coming from Black counties, predominantly in places like Fulton, Gwinnett, and other places.
Like that`s what is causing the law. So, to turn around and say, well, why would you people think they`re up to no good after we just watch this strikes me as ridiculous.
SHAPIRO: You know, even Donald Trump makes accurate statements from time to time. Signature matching is a sham science. And I`m glad that they`re moving to something more exact and precise and objective rather than is your curlicue matching whatever you were writing, you know, 10 years ago when you were a younger person in a different body.
HAYES: But there`s no evidence that there`s a problem with it. There`s no evidence. Like, again, it`s a solution in terms of a problem that is happening after this massive, massive dislocation.
SHAPIRO: Look, you know what, Chris, there`s neither systemic voter suppression nor systemic voter fraud, but we introduced certain measures to increase public confidence. The greatest argument for voter ID, which is hugely popular, including among non-Whites, including among Democrats, including -- especially in Georgia --
HAYES: It`s confidence.
SHAPIRO: -- isn`t that it prevents fraud, but that increases public confidence in the election.
HAYES: Yes. The logic of that is that there will be tremendous public confidence for Republicans in Georgia if you said only Republicans could win. And that`s the -- that`s the dog that we`re chasing here. Ilya Shapiro who`s devoted 15 years of his life to working on these issues, you should read what he has to write, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
SHAPIRO: Thank you.
HAYES: In Mississippi, the top election official, the Secretary of State is warning of a grave threat that may emerge from expand voter registration, woke college students.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL WATSON, SECRETARY OF STATE, MISSISSIPPI: So, think about all these woke college university students now who will automatically be registered to vote whether they wanted to or not, again, if they didn`t know, to opt- out, they wouldn`t be automatically registered to vote. And then they received this mail-in ballot that they didn`t even probably know was coming because they didn`t know their registered to vote.
You got an uninformed citizen who may not be prepared and ready to vote. Automatically, it`s forced on them. And you go make the choice in what`s going to pay for those tools.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I want to bring in Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP. Mr. Johnson, you`re shaking your head at that. I mean, there`s been a number of conservatives recently, and Ilya is not among them, but there are others who have basically just come out and said, look, we don`t want everyone voting, we want to make sure that some people don`t vote, whether that`s woke college students, or it`s African-Americans, or people that we think don`t have the right credentials. How -- what`s your response to people articulating that view explicitly?
DERRICK JOHNSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: I think you`ve said it correctly. This is a solution searching for problem. I live in Mississippi, the reason why you have a higher Black turnout is because it was aggressive organizing to overcome the barriers. The reason why you have a higher Black turnout in Georgia is because of the groups like Stacy and Nse have organized to overcome the barriers.
There are no issues here to be solved. If section five of the Voting Rights was in place, none of this could even be possible. If we want to do anything, we need to make sure we open up access to elections. And it is -- it is unfathomable to think that they`re constantly trying to compare Georgia with other states when in fact, we`re talking about Georgia, a state with a long history of suppressing votes.
And the worst thing that happened in their mind is the outcome of the November election, the outcome of the runoff election was different than anybody expected because people overcame the barriers that were in front of them.
HAYES: Your point there about the Voting Rights Act and its gutting I think it`s important to stress here. I mean, part of the reason we`ve been having these political fights so often that now has the Major League Baseball moving to Denver is precisely because all of this used to be handled by folks of the Justice Department, who without fear or favor, as civil servants, would look at it and make a determination.
And if they -- if Joe Biden`s Justice Department made a determination that Georgia law, the Mississippi law was fine and not have a racial disparate impact, then they go ahead, and we wouldn`t have this huge controversy.
JOHNSON: That`s correct. I mean, this is not about intent. This is about impact. This is about the outcome. And we`ve fought for so many years to ensure that voting was made accessible to all citizens, but particularly African-Americans. And what we`re witnessing in Georgia, and what I just heard from the governor of South Carolina is old school dog-whistle politics of state`s rights coupled with a modern-day trend, to try to shape the voter of the electorate to meet the needs of the elected officials, as opposed to the elected officials trying to win over voters.
The Republican Party conservative, they need to understand that the policies that they have in place are failed policies, they have yet to enlarge attempt to attract more people so as opposed to do what`s logical when you have a political system that`s evolving, so you could attract more voters, they try to -- they try to downsize the system so you can limit access. That`s not consistent with our constitutions and that`s not where we should be in this nation.
HAYES: I guess my question is how much federal intervention here matters. I mean, now you -- the sound we played from Governor McMaster of South Carolina is against H.R.1. And there are all kinds of different substantive critiques people might have of different portions that bill which is quite expansive in many ways. It`s got a bunch of stuff in it.
But the sort of basic sort of idea of the Voting Rights Act 1965, right, was to create this sort of floor. And as it`s been gutted, that sort of the idea behind H.R.1. And I wonder, as someone who`s from Mississippi and done a lot of work in a bunch of different states, like how important federal intervention is here?
JOHNSON: Well, it`s huge. I think we are -- we`ve come to a point of this nation that we need to create a common floor of expectation across all jurisdictions across every county to have certain expectations, that we have a number of precision accessible to a good proportion of voters in that county, that we have the number of machines in each one of those precincts, that we open up voting so we`re not doing it on a workday in the middle of the week, that we have a runway of several days.
And in fact, we need to make sure that every eligible voter can actually cast about it. Open up this bracket to allow people who are rightfully entitled to vote, allow them to vote.
HAYES: Derrick Johnson, CEO of the NAACP, thanks so much for making time tonight.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
HAYES: Three months later, there`s still a lot we don`t know about the January 6th insurrection. And now, former national security military and elected officials are calling formally for a 9/11 style commission even as there are attempts to rewrite the history attack happening right before our eyes. That dangerous whitewashing after this.
HAYES: There is right now an ongoing effort night in night out to rewrite the history of the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and it`s working. We are just three months, one day since the insurrection. New Reuters poll shows that half of Republicans either believe the insurrection was mostly a nonviolent protest or that left-wing activists who wanted to make Donald Trump look bad were to blame. A little inconsistency between those two views, but nevermind.
This is all held by the steady stream of disinformation and weird apologizing for the criminals who took part in the insurrection on Trump TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: This is the day that we pause to remember the white supremacist QAnon insurrection that came so very close to toppling our government and ending this democracy forever. A mob of older people from unfashionable zip code somehow made it all the way to Washington D.C. probably by bus. They wandered freely through the Capitol like it was their building or something.
They didn`t have guns, but a lot of them had extremely dangerous ideas. They talked about the constitution and something called their rights. Neither Lisa Eisenhart nor her son damaged any property at the Capitol or committed any violence. They just walked in what we used to refer to as the people`s house.
These are people whose crime was trespassing in the Capitol. We`re not endorsing that, but some perspective, please.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yes, these are just people who were walking through the Capitol, right? We all remember that`s what happened. I mean, it should not have to be said but apparently, it does. The insurrection was in fact dangerous and violent like when an insurrectionist crushed this D.C. police officer against a door as he screamed in agony or when someone threw a fire extinguisher at officers on the scene who we`re trying to keep the peace as the riot went on all around them, or the dozens and dozens of injuries sustained by police officers that day into -- including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick who died subsequently.
In fact, as a New York Times reported, "The Capitol assault resulted in one of the worst days of injuries for law enforcement in the U.S. since September 11 2001 terrorist attacks. At least 138 officers were injured." The man that Tucker was essentially defending in that clip is the guy who showed up to the Capitol in tactical gear with a taser, who picked up Capitol Police plastic zip-tie handcuffs that according to prosecutors, he understood to be "instruments of restraint and kidnapping."
That`s why he was nicknamed Zip Tie Guy. The U.S. District Judge described him like this. "By word and deed, Munchel was -- has supported the violent overthrow the United States government. He poses a clear danger to our republic." The dangers of whitewashing what happened on January 6th or why there are growing calls for 9/11 style commission, because there`s more we need to know.
And now there`s new letter signed by more than 140 former senior national security military and elected officials calling for just that kind of bipartisan commission. One of the signers of that letter Olivia Troye, former advisor for Vice President Mike Pence, former Homeland Security Advisor, she joins me now along with Hayes Brown, MSNBC Columnist, editor of "MSNBC DAILY," who wrote that pro-Trump whites afraid of being replaced attack the Capitol. That`s a race riot.
Olivia, let me start with you about your involvement in this and what you sort of envisioned and why you think it`s necessary.
OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: Hi, Chris. Thanks for having me. Well, so we wrote this letter because this is a group of national security officials both on the Republican and Democratic side we - - across the political spectrum who are watching the rise of these threats of white supremacy, violent extremist, are watching the rise of disinformation campaigns and illicit financing. And all of these events, and all of these types of like, threats that are on the rise in the country, led to the events of January 6th.
And I think it`s what happened at that day at the Capitol was a massive national security failure. And there are a lot of lessons to be learned here. And that`s why we`re calling for an independent commission to really review what happened that day, what went wrong, what needs to be fixed going forward, because this is critical for us. This is a huge event. And similar to 9/11, a commission would really help us get to the bottom of it and really give us recommendations on moving forward as a national security community to prevent this from ever happening again.
HAYES: You know, Hayes, I`ve seen a few folks on the right who kind of play this like, apologizing but not apologizing role for what happens, saying, you know, these are just people who are left out of the modern economy and who just had questions, and no one wanted to listen to them as they`re showing like B-roll than like smashing through windows.
I mean, you know, there`s the MLK line about the riot of the language of the unheard, which has now been like turned on its head for these folks. And what do you -- what do you make of that?
HAYES BROWN, MSNBC COLUMNIST: So, I will say, I do think that they really believe that they feel like they are the unheard at this point because I wrote that piece because of a new study that came out from political scientist Robert Pape in Chicago who basically says that rather than being a bunch of people from you know, where you would think, Trump country, a number of the people who were at the insurrection are from areas where Biden won. They`re in areas where the non-White demographics have been changing, have been shifting.
And because of that, I really have to look at this from that lens, that lens of this great replacement conspiracy theory that`s infected so many on the right that Trump knowingly or unknowingly really supported during his time in office and really amplified. That`s really a driving factor here for a lot of these people.
These are white people who are, you know, relatively well off, but fear of losing their privileges. They fear that in other people getting rights, they are going to be losing out on their privileges. And because of that, we got what we saw on January 6th. So, it`s really important that we don`t let the Republicans, the conservatives, the people at Fox News take that away, to strip that away from the narrative of what happened here.
These were people who were very concerned about issues of race, and we`ve acknowledged that when we`re talking about them.
HAYES: It also strikes me, Olivia, that like there`s this real battle right now -- we`re three months after it. And you know, I`ve been a journalist now for about 20 years, I guess. And you know, some things are in the new cycle, and then there`s -- they`re gone and forgotten, and some things indoor.
And I think there`s a battle right now over the place of this event whether it will be forgotten, whether it will be sort of just memory hold or whether it will be remembered and we`ll learn from.
TROYE: Yes. I think these Republican officials that continue to lie to their constituents and the voters across the country, the same people who enabled this event happening and this insurrection on January 6th, they don`t get to do that. We`re going to be here to remind them, remind them of what they`re doing the lies that they`re feeding, because they are part of this entire disinformation campaign and situation that is fundamentally dangerous to our democracy.
And they can do all the whitewashing they want, but the fact of the matter is, we all watched in horror what happened that day. There are people that have left even the Trump administration who said enough, right, in the past who said that crossed the line.
And so, these Republicans who continue to kind of write -- you know, try to rewrite history here on what happened, we`re going to need to remind them and we`ll be here to remind them of what happened because they need to be held accountable whether going forward this is not OK. This is our democracy. Our democracy is at stake here.
HAYES: Olivia Troy and Hayes Brown, thank you both. I appreciate it. Still to come, breaking news about Congressman Matt Gaetz with investigators now examining whether he traveled to the Bahamas with women who are paid for sex. Plus, the new statement by Donald Trump that raises, well, more questions than answers. The total denial after this.
HAYES: Another day, another crazy report about Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. Tonight NBC News citing a law enforcement official reports that federal investigators are looking into his travel into the Bahamas with women and specifically whether those women were paid to travel for sex, which could violate federal law.
According to CBS News, Gaetz allegedly traveled with, and I`m quoting here, a marijuana entrepreneur and hand surgeon named Jason Pirozzolo who allegedly paid for the travel expenses, accommodations and female escorts. Pirozzolo did not respond to requests for comment.
CBS News also reporting investigators want to know if Gaetz was accepting paid escorts in exchange for political access or legislative favors. Gaetz denies that he engaged in sex trafficking including with a 17-year-old girl who was reported to be part of the investigation. A spokesperson told CBS News Representative Gaetz has never paid for sex, nor is he had sex with an underage girl.
What began with blaring headlines about sex trafficking has now turned into a general phishing exercise about vacations, and consensual relationships with adults. It`s important to remember as these stories keep breaking, Matt Gaetz is not some plucky young guy who made a name for himself in his own. He`s the son of the former president of the Florida Senate whose connections and deep pockets helped his son become a state senator and a member of Congress.
In 2008, Gaetz was charged with DUI after getting pulled over for speeding in his daddy`s BMW. He refused a breathalyzer test and the charges were ultimately dropped. This is someone who`s always coasted on his privilege. So, it`s no surprise he glommed on to another child of privilege whose dad opened doors for him, Donald Trump.
When Gaetz and his associate started being questioned by investigators last year, New York Times reports Gaetz sought a blanket pardon from Trump who he had been loyal to for years. It`s not clear how much Gaetz knew about the investigation at the time. Gaetz didn`t get the pardon, but after a long delay, Trump did come out today with a brief, carefully worded statement claiming the congressman had never directly asked him for a pardon. Adding that Gaetz has totally denied the accusations against him. He totally denied it.
It`s one of the most damning things Donald Trump can say about a person. I mean, remember Roy Moore, the Alabama theocratic credibly accused of sexual misconduct with underage girls? Moore denied those allegations, but they likely cost Republicans the Senate seat and here`s what Trump said at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, he denies it. Look, he denies it. I mean, he totally denies it. He says it didn`t happen. And you know, you have to listen to him also.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What about Vladimir Putin who our intelligence agencies say meddled in U.S. elections to help Trump?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: President Putin, he just said it`s not Russia. I will say this. I don`t see any reason why it would be. President and Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Then there`s Saudi Prince -- Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who our U.S. Intel reports has approved an operation to capture and kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The king firmly denied any knowledge of it. The denial was very strong. It wasn`t like there was a question in his mind. The denial was very, very strong. The denial was not only a denial, it was a very firm denial.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Roy Moore, Gaetz, you know, Mohammed bin Salman, Putin, they all denied it. Case closed. For the latest in the Gaetz saga, I`m joined by Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell who`s been writing about Matt Gaetz in his career and roots in Florida.
And Scott, I wonder, you know, how this all plays in Florida where Gaetz and his father in particular an extremely known entities.
SCOTT MAXWELL, COLUMNIST, ORLANDO SENTINEL: Yes, they are. Back in Florida, Don Gaetz was pretty respected. Matt Gaetz was known as Baby Gaetz when he started to develop a career thanks in large to his father, but most of it is par for the course. In fact, one of the things that I have been writing about lately is there`s sort of this faint shock and awe of curled flushing among particularly Republicans who seem to act like they`re surprised by this stuff with Matt Gaetz.
I don`t know anything about the current accusations. They -- you know, they have -- they still have yet to play out. But there`s plenty that has been absolutely proven about Gaetz`s behavior in the past that was widely open that we`ve written about for years, and folks down here didn`t seem to care until now, when it was a political liability.
HAYES: Say more about that. What do you mean?
MAXWELL: Well, you know, just to give you one example. One of the reasons we followed Gaetz here in Orlando, it wasn`t sexy, but because he was involved in asking Florida`s governor to stop Orlando`s airport void with appointees who tried to mount a bid in him, mount a coup and handout these no bid legal contracts. That may not sound like something your viewers probably care about. But let`s tell you something. That is Orlando`s swamp.
And every one of your viewers in every town in America, they have their own swamps. And while Gaetz was up there screaming about draining the swamp in Washington, he was trying to pull the sludge here. And in fact, one of those board members that he helped -- that he was buddies with appointed was the one you just mentioned at the top of the block who`s being investigated for taking a flight to the Bahamas with.
And all of this stuff fits together. There were lots of questions. There have been investigations. But most of the time, when Matt got cornered, he would start, you know, screaming about Antifa or undocumented immigrants and it was red meat for the crowd that would usually end up supporting him.
HAYES: Wait, I`m sorry. So, I mean, clearly, congressmen have all kinds of connections. You`re talking about the marijuana entrepreneur and hand surgeon Mr. Pirozzolo?
MAXWELL: As a matter of fact, I have pulled up e-mails I had with mister -- Dr. Pirozzolo and Matt Gates just today from two years ago, when I was trying to understand why Matt Gaetz, and I don`t know that this has been widely reported, tried to make Dr. Pirozzolo Florida`s Surgeon General, even though his expertise seemed to be medical marijuana at the time.
That one didn`t pan out. As a consolation prize, he got to be a member of the Orlando airport board and control about $2 billion worth of contracts.
HAYES: Oh, so this -- I mean, it`s established these guys have relationship. There`s some association between the two. It`s just a matter of record. The question of, you know, the allegations themselves being distinct, what you`re saying is like, there`s a connection there.
MAXWELL: Oh, there`s definitely a guy. I can share my e-mails with you, yes. I`ve swapped notes with both of them about this and they didn`t deny that. And that`s the thing, Chris. A lot of this stuff has been open. You know, the shock about the sex games talk, well, more than a year ago, one of Gaetz`s former legislators came right out and accused and said Gaetz, they created a sex game when he was in the legislature where young male legislators scored points based on how many people they could sleep with.
And the accusation was that they got fewer amounts of points for sleeping with lobbyists and the most for sleeping with say, another married legislator. This has been out for a year, Chris. (INAUDIBLE) was the legislators who said it. There was suddenly people who seem to be surprised and interested in it. But it`s been reported down here for quite a while.
HAYES: Scott Maxwell with some fascinating context about the world of Florida politics. Always lots to learn about that state. Thanks for sharing your reporting tonight.
MAXWELL: You bet. Thanks.
HAYES: Still ahead, the grift continues. Congresswoman Katie Porter on Republican fundraising operation that scammed millions from their own supporters. Plus, we have an amazing update, amazing, on the fundraising story that you do not want to miss. Do not go anywhere.
HAYES: Earlier this week, we shared a truly wild story from the New York Times on how the campaign of former President Donald Trump had intentionally built his own supporters out of tens of millions of dollars. The Times explained how the Trump campaign and the for-profit company that processed its online donations called WinRed forced donors to read through convoluted fine print and manually uncheck a box in order to avoid larger and repeating donations.
By the month before the election, people who did not read through this barrage of nonsense were committing to double their donation as well as make it a weekly recurring payment. In the end, the Trump campaign refunded $122 million in 2020. That`s more than 10 percent of the total money raised that year.
But what if I told you this scam was not limited to Donald Trump and that the Republican Party is still running this scam right now. The Bulwark reports the National Republican Congressional Committee or NRCC is currently running the same play again with help from WinRed.
When you make a donation to the NRCC, you`re again confronted by two yellow pre-checked boxes making the donation monthly recurring and doubling your donation in order to grant you Trump patriot status. Only now the language is much more demanding indeed somewhat psychotic.
The first box reads in bold letters, "We need your help to draft Trump for president. Check this box if you want Trump to run again. Uncheck this box if you do not stand with Trump." And then in regular type, "make this a monthly donation."
The second reads, "Trump patriot status missing. As a top grassroots supporter, we were surprised to see you abandoned him. This is your last chance to update your status to active." And then, in regular type, "Donate an additional X dollars automatically."
Then here`s the worst one we`ve seen so far on the NRCC fundraising page. This language is downright totalitarian. Ready? "We need to know we haven`t lost you to the radical left. If you uncheck this box, we will have to tell Trump you`re a defector and sided with the Dems. Check this box and we can win back the House and get Trump to run in 2024."
If you uncheck the box, they`re personally going to tell Donald Trump you`re a defector, literally the message here. To keep the box checked, we`re going to just keep scraping your bank account every month.
Remember, if you get to the point where you`re reading these boxes, you have already committed to giving money to the Republican Party. But instead of thanking you, the NRCC says they will tell your leader personally you were a traitor unless you give more. It`s so egregious and fraudulent. And when we booked an election expert to talk about it earlier this week, he said we needed to talk to someone who is an expert in consumer fraud. Well, tonight we have that Congress`s foremost expert coming up.
HAYES: After news broke, the Trump campaign had been scamming supporters at a millions of dollars by guiding online donors into weekly recurring contributions. We invited election expert Rick Hasen on the show, and he basically said, because the scheme was so fraudulent outside the boundaries of election law, we`re even better off having another expert on to talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK HASEN, FOUNDER AND EDITOR: ELECTION LAW BLOG: When I was asked to be on your show, I was thinking, you actually should have Katie Porter on, my former UCI colleague who`s now in Congress who is a consumer law expert. I mean, this is kind of if this were a commercial enterprise, you know, we`d be talking about the Federal Trade Commission.
You know, these kinds of deceptive things, that it`s just like the worst kind of marketing whatsoever, and it relies on people`s inertia and confusion, and it preys on the people who are the least sophisticated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So, with the story back in the news today, we figured we better talk to Katie Porter. So, Congresswoman Katie Porter, Democrat from California joins me now. There`s a lot I want to talk to you about, Congresswoman. But you do have a specialty in in consumer law and consumer protection and I just -- I`ve never seen anything like this in the -- I mean, it`s really scummy behavior. What do you think of this?
REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): We should definitely respect Americans who are trying to participate in our democracy including by making donations. And I`ll tell you, Republican, Democrat Independent, I have never met an American who likes to feel cheated or scammed or taken advantage of.
So, I think the best practice here for campaigns of all types of both parties is to make very, very clear if people are being asked to make a recurring contribution, don`t use that as a default setting. And you`ll be really honest with donors about what you`re asking for, and what they`re going to be asked to pay.
HAYES: It`s also sort of a fascinating case study, right, in like how you can use path of least resistance who are opt-in versus opt-out, or all these different ways. I mean, we know there`s all kinds of ways to commercial enterprises or banks or others use literally fine print to get people. And this is just like an -- it`s like a -- you couldn`t design a better study for.
PORTER: Well, we had to crack down repeatedly on this kind of requirement that consumers opt out of things. It`s been a big issue. It`s still an ongoing issue in a lot of businesses. And the framework we`ve used to analyze this if this were a commercial enterprise is, is this an unfair or deceptive practice? And the touchstone for that is consumer confusion.
And I think here, the very, very high refund rate that we`re seeing, which is many, many multiples for the Trump campaign versus the Biden campaign is one piece of evidence we can use to conclude that people didn`t understand that this is what they were signing up for.
HAYES: So, there`s a big, big fight happening right now in Congress about this infrastructure bill. It`s happening in different ways. One of the ways it is, is on the pay for, as they say in Washington D.C. right, which is how the revenue will be raised. And there`s a proposal to raise the corporate tax rate.
I want to play you what the -- what the President said about that today and get your reaction, particularly because you come from the swing district, you come from the heart of, you know, ancestrally, the tax revolt in Orange County that launched 30 years of a certain kind of politics. So, take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I hear anybody hollering in this recovery, the so-called before I became president, this case shape recovery, where billionaires made 300 billion more dollars during this period. Where`s the outrage there? I`m not trying to punish anybody. But dammit, maybe it`s because I come from a middle-class neighborhood. I`m sick and tired ordinary people being fleeced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What are the politics like in your district, your constituents, on raising taxes?
PORTER: Well, let`s be clear, what we`re trying to do is make the investments that our country needs to grow our economy. And that is in the interest of corporations to have a strong economy. They need roads, they need bridges. They need an educated, trained workforce. They need a workforce that`s drinking clean water, for example, and that has broadband. And that`s exactly what they`re being asked to pay for here.
The President`s proposal, which I strongly support, is to simply revert the corporate income tax rate to what it was before Donald Trump`s disastrous presidency. This is a simple proposal. It`s to simply go back to that 28 percent rate, which by the way, would still be the lowest rate of taxation on corporations since before World War II.
HAYES: You`ve also talked about the importance of sort of care infrastructure. And there`s a weird thing happening right now with this, I think, silly, disingenuous semantic debate about like, what`s infrastructure and what`s not as if like, infrastructure is a magic word. And if it`s infrastructure, then it`s good, if it`s not, it`s bad which, you know, some things are good and bad on their own.
But Senator Marsha Blackburn was talking about like $400 billion for elder care. This is outrageous. I think a lot of people saw that and thought, money for elder care sounds good. What is your view on the importance of care in this general package of investments?
PORTER: Well, the way we ought to be thinking is not -- doesn`t meet somebody`s definition of infrastructure, which is we talked about as a changing term. But really, we should be asking ourselves, is this an investment that will grow our economy and be clear making sure families can afford child care, making sure that people have broadband access, making sure that schools don`t have lead pipes, making sure that people can leave their seniors or their disabled family members in safe high quality care so that they can go to work is about growing our economy.
The reality is the United States of America has never made the investment in families that our competitor nations have done, and it`s holding us back economically. So, that`s what this plan is about, not about somebody`s ever-changing definition about what is it is not infrastructure. The touchstone for me is, is this an investment that will grow our economy. If it is, we ought to be doing it. If it`s not, we ought to be questioning it.
HAYES: My definition is it has to have a pipe. You got to you -- if you want to do eldercare, you got to carry a pipe. That`s the very simple. Congresswoman Katie Porter, thanks for making time tonight.
That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.