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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 5/12/21

Guests: Mickey Edwards, Sam Seder, Ro Khanna, Ayanna Pressley, Catherine Cortez-Masto, Miguel Cardona


The Republican Party voted Rep. Liz Cheney out of the House Leadership. Two of the highest-ranking former Trump administration officials were brought before the House Oversight and Reform Committee to answer questions about their role in the insurrection. Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto is interviewed. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona is interviewed on reopening schools in the U.S.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Because these meetings go into overtime only, they go past the hour only when this discussion is worth continuing.


O`DONNELL: Mr. McConnell is already up to a willingness of $800 billion on infrastructure.

REID: He`s going to talk him up.

O`DONNELL: I mean, that`s the hard part but they`re not -- they`re not zero.

REID: All right? Well, I`m going to take that optimism into my evening because I have --

O`DONNELL: Biden optimism. Try it for a weekend, just for a weekend.

REID: Well, I`m going to try it because I got to make sure that I get home in time to watch your special. Lawrence O`Donnell. Thank you very much, my friend, for being the first onset guests ever in the REIDOUT history.

We`re gonna be watching your interview with President Biden and his COVID team in an MSNBC townhall event, Vaccinating Americans tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC. But right now, REIDOUT is done. Chris Hayes starts now.


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

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I will do everything I can to ensure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.

HAYES: Republicans purge the truth from their party, go out and lie to the people.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I don`t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election.

HAYES: Tonight, just how far is Liz Cheney willing to go to stop Donald Trump?

CHENEY: This is the I think opening salvo in that battle, and it`s a battle we have to win.

HAYES: Then --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you at the very least apologize to the American public for what happened on your watch?

HAYES: Former Trump officials finally faced tough questions over the January 6th attack, and what we learned about the President`s order for the military to protect his mob.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was the President`s response to you with regard to the request made by Mayor Bowser?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fill it and do whatever was necessary to protect the demonstrators.

HAYES: Plus, one state`s vaccination drive just became a lottery.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): And the winner each Wednesday will receive $1 million.

HAYES: And after today`s big announcement about vaccinations for kids 12 and over, I`ll ask the Secretary of Education what that means for getting them back into schools.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s light at the end of the tunnel. Well, it`s growing brighter and brighter.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. In the end, it was done in the basement. Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming purged from Republican leadership this morning just after 9:00 a.m. for the unforgivable sin of refusing to lie about the last Republican President`s attempt to destroy America`s tradition of peaceful transfer of power.

It was done in the basement in the most cowardly way imaginable with a voice vote. They did a voice vote because they were afraid of their votes being on the record. And they did not do a secret ballot because they were afraid they might not win the vote. So, now there is no written record of how the Republican members of the House voted. It was not in public, but as I mentioned in the auditorium of the Capitol basement, and it was done in 20 minutes or so.

New York Times reporting that some members missed the vote because they were arriving to the meeting when it broke up. It all happened so quickly. Now, Congresswoman Liz Cheney has placed herself now outside the Trump movement that has enveloped the Republican Party. Although Remember, the main way she has set herself outside of the movement is just by continuing to say the simple truth that much of the party agreed upon in the hours after the violent mobs storm the Capitol chanting hang Mike Pence and trying to install the loser of the election over the winner against the will of the American people.


MCCARTHY: The President bears responsibility for Wednesday`s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump except to share responsibility, quell the brewing unrest, and ensure President-Elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The people who stormed this building believe they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president. And having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.


HAYES: God, but that was -- that`s all in the past now. I mean, we`re off that now. That was -- what was that, I don`t know, 10 years ago, two months, something? Everyone now bends the knee down to Mar-a-Lago. Republicans are focused on the future which is taking back power however they can by means democratic and not. And Congresswoman Liz Cheney is now an inconvenient roadblock to that goal.

There were some gloating after the vote by some of the more MAGA members including this truly classic and indeed inscrutable mission accomplished post from Congressman Matt Rosendale. That of course is the mission accomplished President George W. Bush banner. The one that he used when he announced the Iraq War was basically done, and it was like years and years from being done. Thousands of Americans lost their lives, tens of thousands of Iraqis after he appeared on that flight deck.

In fact, when he tweeted that, I spent a full 15 minutes wondering like, does he know what happened here? Why would he use that image? Is this a Iraq war thing about the Cheney`s and the neoconservatives? Anyway, the question becomes what now? the line has been drawn about what will and will not be tolerated in this Republican Party in the year of our Lord 2021.

Remember, the Republican Party constitutes exactly one-half of the viable American political coalitions, one-half in our democracy. And this is the decision they have made about who will lead them and who will not.

Now, there are people within the Republican coalition, I think, you know, lobbyists and staffers and apparatchiks and elected members and voters who are aghast at what is happening, Congresswoman Cheney herself, but there`s been a long line of others who have spoken out against Trumpism.

Congressman Kinzinger of Illinois who voted to impeach Trump stood by Liz Cheney and is still serving. There were senators, Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, both of whom decided to retire rather than serve in Trump`s Republican Party. More than 100 Republicans including some former elected officials, prominent ones, ones you`d recognize, have threatened -- it`s a very simple calculation about the viability of the Republican Party and preserving it and its connection to power over American life above all else, above principles or any other calculation.

That`s what`s going on in the minds here. And the person who I have to say has come to articulate the most -- that most honestly and forthrightly is Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. I mean, Graham`s politics to the extent he has them, probably line up with Cheney in an ideological sense, a lot more than he does with either Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of New York or Donald Trump.

Graham is from the Cheney wing of the Republican Party, right? But he`s very clear about his own calculation. He said this on Tuesday -- you got to read this to understand what`s happening here. "I think it would be a disaster for the Republican Party if we just didn`t acknowledge the fact that Donald Trump is the most popular person in the party. If you tried to run him out of the party, he take half the party with him."

A, I think Graham is right, right? They know that Trump could destroy them, their electoral viability, their proximity to power, and all that brings. And power is what they worship above all else, it`s what they are in pursuit of.

In an exclusive interview with our own Savannah Guthrie today, Congresswoman Liz Cheney embraced her role as the leader of the new -- well, this iteration of the anti-Trump opposition within the Republican Party.


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, MSNBC HOST: Are you the leader of the opposition in exile right now in the Republican Party?

CHENEY: I intend to be the leader -- one of the leaders in a fight to help to restore our party, and the fight to bring our party back to substance and principles, and in a fight to make clear that we won`t participate in a really dangerous effort that`s underway.

GUTHRIE: A lot of people frame this as a battle for the soul of the Republican Party.

CHENEY: This is the, I think, opening salvo in that battle, and it`s a battle we have to win. Because it`s not just about the Republican Party, it`s about the country.

GUTHRIE: The Trump political team is actively looking to coalesce around a primary challenger to you. What is your message to them?

CHENEY: You know, bring it on.


HAYES: Again, the bring it on thing, are we -- are we harkening back to Bush on purpose here? Remember when he said that? The reason is the Republican Party is not great. Anyway, the question for Liz Cheney, for Adam Kinzinger, for Jeff Flake, for all the never-Trumpers is OK, so what are you willing to do about what you say is an existential threat to American democracy?

The only thing that will get the attention of Republicans as a sort of collector, right, the party, the establishment that wants to stay in power, the only thing that gets attention will be credible threats to their political power. And credible threats to political power come via losing elections.

We all know the score here, right? It`s clear the base of the Republican Party, Republican Party voters, are overwhelmingly on board with the anti- democratic Trump forces. But on the other hand, political power in this country is determined by very small margins as we saw in Georgia where the entire control the U.S. Ssenate turned on two narrow upset victories.

It`s the very same reason Republicans are pushing through all this voter suppression legislation at the state level. You know, 30,000 votes here or 100,000 votes here, it all adds up. That margin in Georgia was 11,000 votes. The power the people in Liz Cheney camp have is that slice, that margin. They clearly are not a majority of Republicans, but there is some slice of them that can talk to and have a hold on.

So, then the question becomes will they use that power to hurt the electoral prospects of Republicans who are rushing to undermine American democracy to bring them to defeat, because if they do not, nothing will change.

Mickey Edwards is a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma. He`s one of more than 100 Republicans who has threatened to form a third party if the Republican Party does not make certain changes. Sam Seder is the host of the Majority Report, an online political talk show. And they join me now.

Mickey, let me start with you about the meaning of today in your -- whether you agree or not with my basic read on this about what has to be threatened credibly, for anything to change.

MICKEY EDWARDS, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN FROM OKLAHOMA: Sure, Chris. I mean, what`s happened is that for a long time, the problem here was Donald Trump. And it appeared that the difficulty for the country and, of course, for the Republican Party was one person who was out of control. And if you could just get him out of office, then things would come back to normal.

And I think there have been several things since the election and since the interaction and today that have made it clear that this is not just a Donald Trump thing, it`s a group of people in Congress, it`s the Republican Party leadership from the RNC down and the members of Congress and a lot of governors who have basically given up on the idea that it is their role to protect democracy, to protect the Constitution, you know, to ensure fair elections and freedom of the press, and rule of law, and all the things that make America great.

And so now, a lot of us have decided that what has to happen, we either have to see whether we can bring the party back to its senses or leave it. And not just leave it, not just go off in the wilderness, but actually create an opposition that can target people.

So, you were mentioning about the large numbers of Republican voters who happen to be, you know, loyalists to Trump, and they`re out there and they`re at large numbers, but they`re not all in one place. So, it may be 70 percent who agree with him, but it may be 90 percent in some rural areas and 45 percent in some urban areas.

And so, a third party or an active group of people who within the party, you know, who are willing to challenge at the state legislative level, at the congressional level, and then put a fight. I mean, that`s what we have to do.

HAYES: Sam, there`s always this question about, you know, what`s the cause and what`s the effect here? And today, I feel like it`s pretty -- it`s pretty definitive. I mean, that what the party is and what it what its voters are most sort of fervent supporters want it to be is being reflected accurately by leadership, right? I mean, they`re not doing the wrong thing by their voters with this vote today.

SAM SEDER, HOST, MAJORITY REPORT: Right. And I would -- you know, and I appreciate the idea that there are some Republicans who are willing to at least entertain the notion of being basically a spoiler in in elections to come. But I think what`s really important is that the framing of the idea of Republicans coming to their senses, I think, is just we are so -- we are really, honestly, five or six years beyond that -- even being able to frame it that way.

I mean, the idea that Donald Trump dropped out of the sky and suddenly became the nominee of the Republican Party and won the presidential election just by fiat or something is just absurd. The Republican Party has been heading this way for 20 years, maybe more.

And so, this is not a question of coming back to their senses. This is a -- this is a one-way ticket for the Republican Party. And for those people who are claiming that they have the power to be spoilers, they either exercise it or they don`t. There is no bringing the Republican Party back to their senses. There is no leveraging this.

HAYES: Yes, it does seem to be a which side are you on moment, I mean, or it has been. I mean, I think -- honestly, I think 2016 was and then 2020 certainly amidst of a pandemic that killed 500 -- 600,000 people in America and counting. There`s -- but there`s always this like, what you see, what`s so, so crushing and enraging at the same time is the denial. Like, the desire for it not to be a problem, which is a very profound human impulse, but really dangerous.

And here`s so -- here`s Bill Cassidy, you know --- you know, Brian Kilmeade, if he`s the nominee, would you vote for him? He`s not going to be our nominee. And it`s like, we`ve been doing -- Mickey, we`ve been playing this game for five or six years, and that`s brought us to the point of a mob storming the Capitol and trying to gouge the cops eyes out.

EDWARDS: Yes, well, first of all, I just want to say that, you know, let`s not try to make this that every time you disagree with the Republican policy, that that means that this is all one straight line because that`s nonsense. But you started out, Chris, by making the point about the fight for the soul of the party. I`m not sure the party has a soul anymore.

The leadership in the party seems willing to do anything at all just to hold on to power. And a lot of it is cowardice. And some of it is driven from -- it`s not all from the grassroots. A lot of it is listening to the Kevin McCarthy`s and others in Washington who are feeding this, who are fueling it. And so, it`s working for both directions.

And that is true. We`re willing to look at a third party because I think it may be right that trying to do it from within the party just won`t work. Because I see very little indication that people who are in high positions in the party today really have that soul that you were talking about. You know, how can I keep my office? How can I avoid getting defeated? Because I like people calling me Mr. Congressman, I like people saying, yes, Congressman, what can we do for you, and they don`t want to lose that job. And there`s a lot of cowardice.

Not everybody, you know, in the Republican part of the legislature, the Congress, loves Donald Trump, but they`re sure afraid of losing their job, and they`ll do whatever it takes to keep it.

HAYES: Although one of the things, Sam, that I learned in the Bush administration, and I think it`s interesting that we have these Bush references today and Liz Cheney, the bring it on, is that there`s no democratic check for some of the most awful things that can be advocated. I mean, when the -- when the Republican Party and Bush went along with essentially a global torture regime, it`s not like the bottom dropped out for them electorally. Like, people were -- like, there`s a lot you can violate that should be sacrosanct without pushing you politically. People keep waiting for the political punishment. It`s not going to come in any definitive sense.

SEDER: Look, there is -- there is -- none of that -- it`s not coming at all. I mean, the bottom line is there is an opportunity for maybe 100 former Republicans or would be former Republicans to play a spoiler role. But all of this, the soul -- the battle of the soul of the party, that is over there. You know, that all of this has been resolved.

I mean, you know, John Dean wrote a book about authoritarianism in the Republican Party, and he did that during the Bush years. This is -- we are so far past any type of moment of threats or anything to that effect. It is all sewn up. And the bottom line is, to the extent that Cheney or anyone else has the ability to be a spoiler, that is their only value.

And you know -- and so, I think you don`t have to venerate Cheney, but I`ll tell you if they set up a third party to run against a Republican congress people in swing districts, I will support that endeavor and that`s about it.

HAYES: Mickey Edwards --

EDWARDS: We will sign you up for that. But I wrote, by the way, even before John Dean`s book, I said the same thing that you just said in a book in 2008. So --

HAYES: For a long time coming.

EDWARDS: (INAUDIBLE) party for a while.

HAYES: Mickey Edwards and Sam Seder whose microphone just sounds incredible. Nice work there, Sam. Thank you both.

SEDER: Thank you. I appreciate it.

HAYES: Among the things that cause Liz Cheney her job in Republican leadership today was her insistence on a commission to investigate January 6th. Well, today, as Cheney was getting fired in the basement of the Capitol, the Democratic-led oversight committee got its first chance to grill the Trump officials who are running the Justice Department and the Pentagon during the Capitol Hill insurrection.

Now, we already know a lot about what Donald Trump did to incite the Capitol attack. Today, we learned something we did not know before. Today, we learned that Donald Trump approved the D.C. mayor`s request for a National Guard deployment on January 6th not to protect Congress, but to protect his mob. That incredible revelation and more next.


HAYES: Today, more than four months after the January 6th Capitol insurrection, two of the highest-ranking former Trump administration officials were brought before the House Oversight and Reform Committee to answer questions about their role in the insurrection. The hearing included testimony from Jeffrey Rosen, the former Acting Attorney General, and Christopher Miller who`s the former Acting Secretary of Defense.

There are a lot of crazy moments we`re going to play for you, but I want to start with this one from the former Secretary of Defense where he basically says Donald Trump told him in advance of January 6th to kind of like, protect the rioters.


CHRISTOPHER MILLER, FORMER ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I had a meeting with President Trump on the third of January concerning some international threats. And at the very end, he asked if there were any requests for National Guard support, and I informed of Mayor Bowser`s request.

REP. BYRON DONALDS (D-FL): What was the President`s response to you with regard to the request made by Mayor Bowser?

MILLER: Fill it and do whatever was necessary to protect the demonstrators that were executing their constitutionally protected rights.


HAYES: OK, protect the demonstrators executing their constitutionally protected rights. It`s pretty interesting particularly given Trump`s rhetoric about Black Lives Matter protesters for the entire year prior. The President did not order him to protect the elected officials, the vice president, he was focused on protecting his supporters who would go on to storm the Capitol at the President`s invitation.

The former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen was asked directly if the former president tried to get him to overturn the election, and he pointedly refused to answer that direct question.


REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): Prior to January 6th, were you asked or instructed by President Trump to take any action at the department to advance election fraud claims or to seek to overturn any part of the 2020 election results?

JEFFREY ROSEN, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: Congressman, as I just alluded to in your prior question, I can tell you what the actions of the department were or were not.

CONNOLLY: No, sir.

ROSEN: I cannot tell you --

CONNOLLY: Mr. Rosen, Mr. Rosen --

ROSEN: -- consistent with my obligations today about private conversations with the president one way or the other.


HAYES: I mean, that`s fun. Christopher Miller actually just did that in the other part of the hearing. Now, keep in mind, just four days before this, Donald Trump called the Secretary of State of Georgia to get him to overturn the election results in his state.

And another point in the hearing, Congressman Ro Khanna of California told the former Acting Attorney General he was dumbfounded over the amount of time between what the National Guard was first requested and when they finally showed up.


REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Secretary Miller, I want to ask you today, will you at the very least apologize to the American public for what happened on your watch?

MILLER: I want to highlight the incredible job that the members of our armed forces and civilians --

KHANNA: Secretary Miller, I agree with you about the forces.


KHANNA: Secretary Miller, it`s my time. Your pugnacious style is not going to override the democratic process. Learn to respect it. My question isn`t about our troops or armed forces. Everyone recognizes they`re extraordinary. My question is about your incompetence in leading them.


HAYES: That was obviously him asking questions at the former Acting Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General. Congressman Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts, were both part of today`s hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee and they join me now,

I`ll start with you, Congressman Khanna, because we just played that clip. Do you feel like you got a fuller sense? Did you learn new information from Christopher Miller?

KHANNA: No. I think what was shocking is no self-awareness, the arrogance of power, no humility, no accountability. And it`s scary that people like that really were in charge of the most powerful military in the world. And then to learn, I guess, the revelation that Donald Trump is more concerned with those who are going to storm the Capitol. They`re not demonstrators. They`re not protesters. These are insurrectionists.

And the question is, who did he think was a threat to them? I mean, was he concerned that the Capitol Police would protect people? And what was the threat to these interactions other than if they were going to do illegal things and try to kill police officers?

HAYES: The sort of point about how they prepare for protests in different directions, which is one of the things you cannot escape about that day, Congressman Pressley, you brought that -- brought that up in the hearing. Because, I mean, I`ve -- you know, I`ve covered protests on Capitol Hill and there`s like, usually quite a pure force even, you know, very peaceful protest, right?

So, I want to play this exchange and then get your reaction to it when you`re going back and forth with former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen on this question.


REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Mr. Rosen, do you agree, based on your observation and your expertise, that the DOJ acted differently in preparation for the January 6 attack than it did during the summer of 2020, just a yes or no.

ROSEN: I think we`re dealing with two different -- very different situations. And in both, the responses were tailored to the situation at the time.

PRESSLEY: Yes or no, was it different for Black Lives Matter than it was on January 6th?

ROSEN: I think we`re talking about very different situations.

PRESSLEY: OK, reclaiming my time, reclaiming my time, reclaiming my time.


HAYES: I mean, he sort of concedes the point when he says different situations, because obviously it was different.

PRESSLEY: Well, I`ll tell you what was in common here was white supremacy was the primary driver in our government`s violent response to the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests, as well as white supremacy was the primary driver of their inaction in the face of the deadly insurrection of the January 6 attack, and it just couldn`t be more plane, Chris.

The coalition of largely Black and Brown activists protesting against state violence and systemic racial injustice were demonized, traumatized, brutalized. They were met with tear gas and rubber bullets, and multiple militarized federal agencies were engaged in this response.

But when it came to white supremacists, seeking to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power, a violent mob wearing T shirts that said Camp Auschwitz, brandishing Confederate flags, erecting a noose on the west lawn of the Capitol, calling United States Capitol Police officers that are Black Americans the N-word over and over again, causing injury, trauma, loss of life, the federal response was delayed, inefficient, and insufficient.

And so, we have got to confront white supremacy, root it out, and that begins with accountability. And of course, they are running from that. They are delusional enablers. One of our colleagues today even said that what happened was no different than tourists touring the Capitol milling about.

HAYES: Yes. I actually want to play -- I`m glad you brought that up because one of the most -- I mean, there`s sort of the revelation from Miller about this conversation on January 3rd. There`s Rosen sort of dodginess about all this. But your colleague`s responses really unnerving to watch them essentially try to, you know, retcon what we all saw in front of our eyes.

I`m going to play a little bit of some of the things they said about what happened to get both your reactions. Take a listen.


ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): Let`s be honest with the American people. It was not an insurrection. And we cannot call it that and be truthful,

REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): Madam Chairwoman, my constituents demand answers, but the truth is being censored and covered up. As a result, the DOJ is harassing peaceful patriots across the country.

REP. PAT FALLON (R-TX): I don`t know who did a poll that it`s Trump supporters.

REP. PAT FALLON (R-TX): Our Democratic colleagues and their friends in the mainstream media are quite fond of labeling January 6th as an insurrection or even a rebellion. But are those descriptions accurate or are they hyperbolic?


HAYES: Congressman Khanna, you think they`re hyperbolic?

KHANNA: Of course not. And I think Representative Pressley makes a very important point. These are the president`s enablers, Trump`s enablers. And it goes to your earlier segment, Chris. We put all of the blame on Donald Trump and he deserves it. But what we have to step back and ask is who is empowering him?

And what this hearing reveals is that it`s not only the highest elected -- appointed officials, his Secretary of Defense and Attorney General who are empowering him, it`s half of Congress, the Republicans who are empowering him. And that is as much an indictment as Donald Trump. That`s a deeper concern for democracy.

HAYES: And Congresswoman Pressley, I mean, you saw on display in real time this kind of counter-narrative that has been spun up. It`s been very prominent in certain right wing media outlets about what happened on that day and now is, you know, become kind of cannon for these Republican members of Congress, even though they were there with all of you in that building on that day as the, you know, the mob was ransacking the place.

PRESSLEY: It`s stunning. And the fact that these -- that these members of Congress, one, perpetuated this big lie, support and enable this attempted coup, and in the perpetuating of that big lie continues and it`s become foundational to what we see happening in states throughout the country who seemed actively to actually suppress the vote.

And the fact that there are those who proceeded to vote against certifying the election results after the attack, they must be held accountable as well.

HAYES: Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Congressman Ro Khanna of California, both on the House Oversight Committee, thanks for making time tonight.

KHANNA: Thank you.

HAYES: Still ahead, can Republicans turn their war on voting rights into a winning issue with voters in 2022? The fight for the Senate after this.


HAYES: To my mind, one of the oddest aspects of the Biden presidency is the inability of Republicans to muster much rhetorical vigor in opposition to the administration`s main domestic legislative initiatives. Sure, all Republicans oppose the code relief bill, and they will all most likely oppose the jobs bill and the infrastructure plan. But if you pay much attention to their public pronouncements or right wing media, you can see they do not spend much time on it. They would rather talk about canceled culture or how best to regulate the bodies of trans teenagers.

But there is an exception. It`s a massive one. That is on the issue of campaign reform and voting access. Republicans are not just united but rabid, zealous, as we saw in yesterday`s markup of S.1, that`s sweeping voting and campaign reform bill that Democrats are advocating. Republicans clearly sends this kind of issue of fundamental question of the scope of our democracy excites their base in opposition.

And they are already planning to run attack ads against Democratic senators up for re-election 2022 to try to spook them. One of those centers running in a swing state next year is Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. She`s a Democrat of Nevada. And she joins me now. I think, Senator, that these kinds of things are basically psych jobs. But I wonder if you think this is the kind of legislation that`s going to be front of mind in either direction for voters come the midterms a year from now.

SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO (D-NV): You know, I think in general, Chris, people are really tired of all the dark money, right? They want transparency, they want accountability. They want to be able to go in and vote at the end of the day, in a safe and secure manner. And they want to make sure that is protected.

And what we see in the ads, particularly with ads that I see in Nevada that are already out against me, they`re just blatant lies. And what I -- the intent, I can only imagine is because Republicans and Mitch McConnell want to continue to be able to have all this dark money in these elections that you can continue to buy the elections to that benefit them.

HAYES: Yes, the dark money provisions here are a big part of what (INAUDIBLE) would do. It would it would sort of increase disclosure and kind of clarify some of the more ambiguous regulations that grew out of the Citizens United and then subsequent rulings have created super PACs. I mean, that`s just a bright red line for Republicans. Like, they absolutely don`t want that. In fact, they want the opposite.

Their position is anyone should be able to spend any amount of money in any fashion at any time to be the Democratic Senator, for instance.

MASTO: Well, that`s right. And you got a question. Why the transparent or why the secrecy, right? Why are they hiding it? Why are they afraid of accountability? Why are they afraid of transparency? And I will tell you, the For the People Act, which I support, which is right now moving through committee, as you talked about at hearings on it, it`s very simple. What does it do? To address all the dark money that`s out there so special interests and can`t buy elections or billionaires can`t buy elections, it addresses that. It prevents that from happening.

It addresses gerrymandering so Democrats and Republicans can engage gerrymandering. Why? Because voters should choose their elected officials and not the other way around. And then it also secures one of our fundamental freedoms, which is that freedom to vote in a safe and secure manner, without it being restricted or suppressed. That`s what the For the People Act Does, and generally it is good for voters in this country. And it`s something I questioned why Republicans opposed to it.

HAYES: My understanding -- so there -- I don`t know what the whip count is here. You`ve got a filibuster to deal with. You would be forgiven, I think, if you came -- let`s say you`re you were beamed in as a reporter from another country and you`re reporting on the U.S. You say, you know, the opposition party right now is passing all these laws in the states to change voting law -- rules in ways they think will benefit them.

The majority party that has control the federal government is trying to do to sort of ensure access, but they may not be able to do it because they have a supermajority and maybe not all their numbers are on board. Like, how do you explain that?

MASTO: Well, at the end of the day, here`s what is important, and this is why we need to talk about this and let the general public understand truly what`s at stake here. I mean, look what`s going on in Georgia. They pass voter suppression laws so extreme that you can`t even bring somebody a bottle of water who is standing in line to vote. I mean, it`s outrageous.

And the other thing which is so fascinating to me because they`re attacking me in my state, but let`s take a look at Nevada`s law as voter laws. We have automatic voter registration. We have same day registration. We have early voting, so we can make it very easy for voters to get out and vote. And during the middle of a pandemic, we made sure that we had mail-in voting so that a voter can vote in a safe and secure way, in a manner that is good for them to keep them safe.

Now, through that last election, we had -- did not have a pattern of rampant fraud happening, even though -- even though they challenged in court five times to claim there was and they lost every single time the Republicans tried to challenge it, but it didn`t happen. And so, for me, in my state and talking about voters` rights and what we have in Nevada, that`s an example of what we should have in this country. And really, that`s an example of what is in the For the People Act.

HAYES: Yes, the question again, becomes whether you can get Manchin on board and what you can do about the filibuster, and there`s some reporting suggesting there`s some revisions down the line as that bill works its way through. The Democrats are planning some revisions to that. So, this is -- this is all very fluid situation. We can get you back as this proceeds.

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, thank you for joining us.

MASTO: Chris, thank you.

HAYES: All right, still ahead, one state`s new vaccination push that includes handing out $5 million in cash prizes. Yes, you heard that right. And how will today`s big news about vaccinating kids affect the push to get students back in the classrooms. The Secretary of Education himself, Miguel Cardona, is here to talk about that just ahead.


HAYES: Tonight, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, in a video address to his state, announced a special new lottery drawing with $1 million a week prize.


DEWINE: Two weeks from tonight, on May 26, we will announce a winner of a separate drawing for adults, adults who have received at least their first dose of the vaccine. This announcement will occur each Wednesday for five weeks. And the winner of each Wednesday will receive $1 million.


HAYES: They`re calling it Ohio Vaccimillion, a new special lottery drawing with a weekly prize of as you heard, $1 million. You just have to be 18 years or older and vaccinated. If that`s an incentive, I don`t know what is. It comes at a time as we are rounding the corner on the virus really this time because of the data suggests the vaccines are doing exactly what we hoped they would do.

That`s from COVID here in the U.S. are nearly at their lowest point since the start of the pandemic. Look at that. Cases and hospitalizations rose somewhat in late March and early April, they have begun falling again. In fact, according to New York Times, on Monday, we had the lowest total number of people hospitalized from COVID since April 2nd of last year.

45 percent of all American adults have now been fully vaccinated, nearly 60 percent have received at least one dose. And then today, the government took another step in helping to increase the level of immunity in this country greenlighting the Pfizer vaccine for kids aged 12 to 15, an important step towards vaccinating all children and also getting them back to school safely.

The thing we wanted to happen is happening slowly but surely. We`re suppressing the virus thanks to vaccines. Tonight, as part of an MSNBC special called Vaccinating America, our colleague Lawrence O`Donnell interviews President Joe Biden about the success the vaccine rollout and whether the President is worried about vaccine hesitancy.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth of the matter is, more and more and more people are getting the vaccine. And so, I`ve never believed that there would be a large percentage of Americans who wouldn`t get the vaccine.


HAYES: A full interview with the president followed by town hall with the administration`s COVID team, it airs in just over an hour at 10:00 p.m. You do not want to miss it.


HAYES: There`s no real precedent for the changes to American primary education over this past year. None. The pandemic brought about a transformation of schooling as we knew it. Nearly every school-aged child in this nation attending some form of remote learning suddenly getting classroom instruction via software designed for adults to have meetings.

Now, the return to in-person schooling has been uneven across the country. Here in New York City, the largest school district in the country, 582,000 students, 61 percent, are choosing to continue remote learning for the rest of the year.

In Los Angeles, just seven percent of high school students have returned to campuses. Coronavirus cases coming down, kids 12 and up becoming vaccine eligible. It seems a safe bet not a sure thing, but a pretty good bet, the issue of safety is receding quickly, right? Teachers vaccinated, staff vaccinated, parents vaccinated, and there are still millions of parents who right now say they will not send their kids to in-person school in the fall.

So, how does the Biden administration tackle this? No better person to answer that question than the Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. Secretary Cardona, let me start on the question of data, which is hard to come by and spotty and has been a real issue throughout. We don`t have great national aggregate data on this. Do you at the department know, right now, can you tell me, like what percentage of kids are in school and what aren`t, and what the racial or economic breakdown of those kids is?

MIGUEL CARDONA, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: Yes, we know pre K through eight, 54 percent of our student are full in-person learning five days a week. About 90 percent of our students pre-K to eight have an opportunity to go to school at least partially throughout the week. But we do know also, unfortunately, that it`s not -- it`s not even across the board.

About 50 percent of fourth-graders that are Black and Latino are still remote. About 60 percent of our Asian students are still remote in fourth grade. And across the country, about 20 percent of our white students are remote. So, it`s an uneven return to school. And that`s why I`m really pushing for all schools to open five days a week for all students at this point. I think our students deserve it and we need to make it happen.

HAYES: So, that -- so there`s two aspects of this. And that data sort of syncs up of what we saw the New York Times saying half of Black and Hispanic children, two-thirds of Asian American children in remote school compared with 20 percent of white students. That`s the latest federal data. So, there`s two aspects here, right?

In the beginning, it seemed that these racial disparities were being driven by the nature of which school systems were and weren`t open, right? Large systems like Unified School District of Los Angeles, in New York City, those are predominantly Black and Brown. They`re minority White school districts, and they were the ones that were closed.

Now, as schools reopening, there`s another issue here which is hesitancy on the part of a lot of families to send their kids back into school and expressing that hesitancy on into the fall. How are you going to deal with that? How are you thinking about that issue?

CARDONA: You know, the reality is a lot of families feel like their students are getting a good experience in remote learning or a better experience than having a partial week in school. And we have to remember that for many parents, it`s not convenient and it`s not possible to send their children to school one or two days a week. We need to open five days a week.

But we also need to make sure that our schools are welcoming environments for our students. Let`s face it, some school systems, they weren`t meeting the needs of the students before the pandemic, or students felt disengaged or didn`t really feel welcome there, so we have a lot of work to do. There is hesitancy about the COVID-19 vaccine, but there`s also a lot of work to be done to make sure that all of our schools are welcoming places where students want to be and where parents want to send their children.

HAYES: But what`s that mean, right? I mean, if people had those feelings prior to the pandemic, they`re being -- I`m not sure I understand what you mean or what you understand as why a lot of parents feel like I don`t want to send my kids back. I get the logistical issue. As a parent, I literally made that decision. My wife and I had a certain point, because we thought, well, every second Wednesday and every Monday of the -- you know, forget it. There`s a lot going on here.

So, five days a week, we can do five days a week. At home, we could do. But this this this question about welcoming or safety or these other concerns, how do you understand that?

CARDONA: Sure. So, you know, physical safety, obviously, is number one. We know that in a lot of our urban centers or a lot of dense communities, they experienced COVID much more significantly. They experienced family loss. They experience job loss. There`s a lot of trauma associated with this, and there`s that fear.

But there are also students who feel that you know what, school wasn`t the -- I didn`t want to be there before or it wasn`t meeting my needs, or it wasn`t serving what I needed, and I`m more likely to stay at home if I can. And, and another one is, for our Asian students, I don`t want to go back to an environment where I might feel like I`m going to be discriminated against because of the pandemic, and I`ve heard that as well.

So, there are a lot of different factors. We have to make sure that as we`re reopening our schools, we`re talking about mitigation strategies. We`re talking about making sure that we`re keeping our students and staff physically safe. But we also have to return them to environments that are welcoming, that are nurturing, that has social (AUDIO GAP) well-being of our students at the forefront, and that also are trauma-informed.

We`ve all experienced trauma together this past year. Sadly, in those urban centers or in those dense settings, the data show, they`ve experienced much more. They`ve experienced loss much more. So, we have a lot of work to do, but I`m really confident that our educators across the country will do it. I just want to make sure that we`re not thinking about just the fall. We got to get it done. Our kids are waiting. Every day that their home is a lost opportunity on that social engagement that we know is critically important for our students.

HAYES: Yes, do you -- I mean, is the data fairly clear to your mind that, you know, Zoom school or remote schools is not as good as in-person school in the aggregate?

CARDONA: In the aggregate, yes, definitely. There is no -- you know, your father. You know that feeling when your children come home and they talk about their friends and their interaction with the teacher. You know, yes, the Zoom -- I commend the teachers and the fact (AUDIO GAP), but we know no replacement for in-person learning.

And especially after a year, our students need socialization. They need to be around one another. So, the conditions are safe enough. We have vaccines available now for our students, for our staff. There`s no reason why we`re not reopening our schools five days a week full time. I want to make sure we get it done.

HAYES: Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, thank you so much for making time tonight. Come back anytime. That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.