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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 5/24/21

Guests: Jonathan Swan, Elissa Slotkin, Zach Montellaro, Julia Ioffe, Jamaal Bowman


Republicans have unified around voter suppression effort. Rep. Cheney won`t link the Trump big lie to anti-voter laws being pushed in states. The party of Trump is expected to filibuster the January 6 Commission. Local GOP officials run to anti-democracy platform that is being pushed by Donald Trump. President Biden called for an international investigation after the government of Belarus basically hijacked a commercial airliner. Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Yes. And then -- and then, to say nothing of the fact that they may not be safe leaving, which is really frightening. I guess it`s the one piece of good news is that at least we have a president that won`t try to cuddle up to Mr. Lukashenko and idolize him. Anne Applebaum, thank you very much for being here.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.


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

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We`re going to vote on the January 6 Commission in the Senate and the American people will see where every member stands on the side of truth or on the side of Donald Trump`s big lie.

HAYES: The Senate vote moves forward but the big lie endures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t see any linkage between Donald Trump saying the electron was stolen and then Republicans in all of these state legislatures rushing to put in place these restrictive voter laws?

HAYES: Tonight, the ongoing movement to undermine the election in 2022 and the state by state Trumpist push to replace the people who held the line in 2020.

Then Europe`s so-called last dictator uses a fighter jet to stop a passenger airplane and arrest a journalist. Julia Ioffe on the increasing boldness of autocrats.

Plus, a note of caution of the right-wing media over the ruin lab theory. And Congressman Jamaal Bowman on what looks like a real progress on a bipartisan police reform bill when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes, a lot of news today on the democracy front, which is perhaps somewhat weird thing to say. But in 2021, possibly the most important beat there is because our democracy survived an awful assault this year when rioters descended on the Capitol on January 6 in a violent attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election.

Now, more than four months later, we are still sifting through what happened. And every day, day after day after day, particularly if you are attuned to this beat as I am and we are here on the show, more and more evidence of the fundamentally dangerous and anti-democratic orientation of the Republican Party across all its various factions.

Case in point, Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, of course, has been in the news recently, former chair of the House Republican Conference who was just ousted from that position in leadership for the simple act of just telling the truth. Cheney, admiralty, refused to sign on to the big lie and pretend the election was stolen from Donald Trump. In fact, she denounced it as a lie.

And yet, and yet, in a new interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios, Cheney says she supports state Republicans implementing new voting restrictions. As Swan rightly notes, it`s a strategy that`s part of the big lie.


JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, AXIOS: You don`t see any linkage between Donald Trump saying the election is stolen and then Republicans in all of these state legislatures rushing to put in place these restrictive voter laws?

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Well, I think you have to look at the specifics of each one of those efforts.

SWAN: What was the big problem in Georgia that needed to be solved by a new law? What was the big problem in Texas? What was the big problem in Florida? What was that -- these laws are coming all around the states and like, what are they solving for?

CHENEY: I think you`ve got to look at each individual state law. But I think what we can all agree on --

SWAN: You can`t divorce them from the context. Come on.

CHENEY: Well, yes, but I think what we can agree on is that what is happening right now is really dangerous.


HAYES: But Liz Cheney is not alone. Take, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who`s seen as one of the most, you know, morally upright, courageous Republican actors in that post-election chaos. And to his credit, again, he zealously defended the integrity of the elections and the recounts in Georgia. He resisted Donald Trump`s multiple attempts to bully him into changing the outcome.

Well, Secretary Raffensperger has now endorsed Georgia`s restrictive election overhaul, which does things like shorten the time for mail-in voting, expand voter I.D. requirements and ban the distribution of food and water to voters waiting in line. Here`s another example. There`s Republican Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona, who is on the receiving end of Donald Trump`s venom after the election, same thing, right. Trump railing it was stolen, wanting him to overturn it.

The former president tried to bully him into doing more to essentially steal the election in that state where Trump lost. Well, Ducy brushed Donald Trump off back then. You may remember, he famously silenced a phone call from the White House with a custom ringtone while he was in the act of signing papers certifying the election results.

But Ducey like Cheney, Raffensperger, early this month, he signed restrictive new voting laws which will limit when voters can fix a missing signature in a ballot and purge tens of thousands of infrequent voters from the rolls. Also in Arizona, Senate Republicans` recount of 2020 ballots in Maricopa County resumed today. That`s after they -- well, they`re going pretty slowly so they had to take a break for high school graduations in the arena where they have been working. But they`re back at it. And now other states are starting to follow Arizona`s dangerous footsteps.

On Friday, a judge in Georgia ruled that out absentee ballots in Fulton County, and compensating much of Atlanta, can be unsealed and reviewed. All this coming as new polling from Ipsos and Reuters finds 61 percent of Republicans believe the election was stolen from Donald Trump. 53 percent of Republicans believe that Donald Trump is the true president right now. It`s sort of an interesting philosophical question about what exactly that would mean.

Now, it doesn`t help that elected members of Congress are out there pushing these lies day after day. I want to show you some video from a rally in Arizona last week. The woman you will see talking is Lauren Windsor. She is the executive producer of the political reporting web show the Undercurrent. She tends to go in with a camera and talk to members of Congress.

And at this event with members of Congress, she went undercover. She pretended to be one of the people who believe the big lie.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): And it`s our expectation that Arizona will be the launchpad to election integrity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rep. Gaetz was talking about how Arizona is going to be the template for the rest of the country. We just want to know like what can we do in states across the country to really protect election integrity? Like, what are the states where we can launch other audits?

REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): Well, I mean, we could actually do it every state, because what you`re doing is --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But what are the most important ones and the ones that would actually make a difference?

GOZAR: Michigan, Wisconsin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because we have to defend Trump. We have to defend our president.

GOZAR: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And is there anything --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, you know what, I got to get him to his car because we have an event tomorrow. So, thank you. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden did not win this election, though.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we do. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we actually change this? Can we defend President Trump from Arizona?

GOZAR: Oh we can.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to call your state senators.

GOZAR: We will. We definitely can.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Call your state senators.


HAYES: A staffer there, you know, I think sensing something was amiss in that interaction. But Gosar is very forthright, right? I mean, he`s not -- he`s saying, yes, we should do this in other states. Here are the states that I think we should do it. So, Gosar is that one fringe, right, but there is near unanimity in the Republican Party now, OK.

Across those various fractures, right, despite all the fighting amongst them, from Brad Raffensperger, and Liz Cheney, all the way to Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene, they`re united in their mission, again, to rewrite the rules to manipulate access to the ballot itself, control the electorate as much as is possible in their favor. In fact, it really has become, I think, arguably the number one policy focus for the entire party at the state level. And it`s dangerous, and it`s going to keep getting more dangerous.

I want to bring in Jonathan Swan who interviewed Congressman Liz Cheney for Axios on HBO. Jonathan, I just want to say that that question there, I really love the way you phrased it, because to me, it really is the issue. All of these details in these different states are different. You know, Iowa reduce the amount of polling time they had by an hour.

But the question of what are they solving for, no one can answer, particularly in the state like Florida that says, hey, we ran a great election. Donald Trump won. Like, it all worked. And then they have to pass something.

SWAN: Right. And the fact is, there are 400 -- more than 400 of these bills that have been introduced since the election, 90 percent of them primarily, predominantly pushed by Republicans. So, it`s not like it`s one state, it`s happening across the country. It`s happening in almost every state. Now, some of them are getting passed, and as you say, the details are different, but there is a common thread throughout these. Many of the provisions in these laws are responding directly to some of the concerns that Donald Trump has raised.

So, it`s just not plausible to say that there`s not a connection. There`s obviously evidently a connection between Donald Trump lying about the election and these laws being implemented.

HAYES: Yes. And I also thought -- what was interesting about that exchange you had with Congressman Cheney is that it showed something else which we`ve been saying on the program. There is no -- there is no definition in which that Congresswoman is a heterodox member of the Republican Party. Like, she`s not -- she`s not like a contrarian. She doesn`t have all sorts of, you know, different views. She is in sync with the Republican Party.

Her voting record shows it, the way she thinks about politics. She comes from Republican royalty, essentially. The only transgression is on the factual matter about what happened in the election.

SWAN: Yes. And the really important point, Chris, is ---you know, I`ve seen polling that show that 70 percent of Republicans -- I think it showed 63 percent, 70 percent of Republican voters consider Joe Biden to be illegitimate. That didn`t come just because of this one event where Trump said oh, the election was stolen. This was -- the soil was fertilized. The years and years and years of Republican elites and elected officials telling their electorate that fraud is rampant, it`s everywhere. You`ve got people in the inner cities voting four times, illegal immigrants, all sorts of -- that`s how you get 70 percent of people believing that. The soil was fertilized.

And what I found interesting about the Cheney interview was she refused -- I put that to her. She just refused to accept or acknowledge that but it`s obviously true. You don`t get 70 percent -- you could have the most talented demagogue in the world and you can`t get 70 percent of people to believe something as profound as that. It was -- the soil was fertilized for this.

HAYES: And I think you`re totally right on that. And it speaks to this question of how much continuity there is in this and the culmination in this and how much discontinuity? I mean, there`s ways in which, you know, what happened with the last Republican president was some kind of rupture. But those impulses were there.

I mean, we`ve covered them on the program. We -- you know, the Voting Rights Act struck down by, you know, the Roberts Court, you know, back in 2013, I believe if I`m not mistaken. And these bills start creeping up in that vacuum before we ever get to Donald Trump.

SWAN: Yes. The provision was -- the key provision of federal oversight was gutted out of -- out of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. You`re exactly right. And these bills start to pop up. But the really intense period of this legislation coming is right now and it is absolutely in direct response to Donald Trump.

And I just found it interesting that Liz Cheney has made the decision to sort of put January 6 and Donald Trump in this fortress with these huge walls around us, and basically said, I`m not accepting that there was really any context that led to this. And I`m not accepting that these actions that are taking after are connected to this. It`s a very curious decision that she`s made.

HAYES: And final point here. And I know, this is something you`ve done reporting on, your colleagues have, and we`ve -- I mean, it`s -- you really can`t overstate the degree to which at the grassroots level, the Republican Party in the States, which again, is cadre, right? That`s a small kind of vanguard of folks. But among that people, this is what they`re obsessed with. This is what they`re thinking about. This is what`s mobilizing folks. This is what`s getting them to go to rallies. This is not they`re still like a dog with a bone with this stuff.

SWAN: 100 percent. And you see it in so many different ways, but the big way you see it is the fundraising.

HAYES: Yep, exactly.

SWAN: You know, the elected officials are using this message to raise tens of millions of dollars. It`s absolutely what`s energizing the grassroots at the party.

HAYES: It`s why you got George P. Bush taking a call from Trump and tweeting out a picture of receiving said call in his car, I think, today. Jonathan Swan, great interview, seriously. Thanks so much.

SWAN: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: All right, Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan serves on the Homeland Security Committee. She`s one of the original supporters of a January 6 Commission, and she joins me now.

Where do things stand right now on the commission specifically? I think there was -- there were more defections from Republicans than maybe the worst-case scenario, but still nowhere near majority of the caucus. And how do you see this playing out going forward?

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): I actually feel more optimistic in the last, you know, 48 hours. Susan Collins and Romney and others coming out and say that they`d vote for it. And that -- I think it`s really important that Leader Schumer is going to put it to a vote no matter what. I mean, have people be on the record. Just kind of vote on it and let the country see what you voted on. And I think I have a more positive feeling this week that it`s going to pass.

HAYES: Your district is a -- is a pretty swingy district. And I`m curious just what your -- and I know that, you know, you`re relatively new to Congress, and you`ve been very pretty focused interlocutor with the folks that you represent. And I`m curious just, you know, how remote these sort of democracy fears feel the folks who are coming off one of the worst years in American life in some ways, and how much you get questions about it, or how much it is front of mine whether from Republicans or Democrats?

SLOTKIN: Yes, I just -- I don`t think that this is the first thing that the average person in my district is thinking about and talking about. It is most definitely the first thing that the elected Republicans, many of them, not all of them are talking about, right? And I think we have to really make a distinction between folks who might have real ideological differences with Democrats.

They really -- you know, they are lifelong Republicans. They have a different view of the role of government in our lives, and then a different category of people who just literally believe we`re in a culture war and there`s no rules, there shouldn`t be any rules, they can dismantle democracy if it means winning that war.

There are two separate categories. And the vast majority at least of Michiganders are practical, reasonable people who just want their government to run especially after COVID.

HAYES: But do you think that -- I mean, the question always becomes whether that -- whether delivering on this sort of concrete promises can overcome those ideological objections or people just find ways to hate it either way, right? And so -- I mean, there are lots of positive indicators in American life, vaccination rates, COVID transmission particularly in the state of Michigan, I`ve seen that you know, that spike that you guys had has come way down. You`re on your way to suppression.

Are you hearing like from the folks in your district like, oh, inflation, deficit, all this sort of code words that have been sort of packaged I think specifically to Republicans in opposition to whatever agenda Democrats are taking on now?

SLOTKIN: I mean, what I`m hearing about are the things that people feel on the ground which is they want to get back to normal. They want an economy that supports that. A lot of my business owners are struggling to get people, you know, to fill their jobs. And I think there`s legitimate reasons for that.

So, I`m hearing a lot of that. I do think that people understand that they are getting a lot of relief coming into the state. They are about to feel the real impact of the COVID relief package will do an infrastructure package. Like, those are real things. For us here in Michigan, we cut our local budgets back in the last recession, and we never recovered. So, I do think that concrete money coming in for water systems, for infrastructure, will be a big deal here.

HAYES: And does that -- I mean, is that something that bridges the divide? I mean, traditionally, it used to be the case that those would be the kind of things that like the Michigan caucus get together and discuss, you know, in a fairly non-partisan way, or fairly bipartisan way, I should say. Like, did those discussions still happen or have those relationships gotten so frayed in the aftermath of just the, you know, what we`ve seen?

SLOTKIN: You know what, during COVID, I spent more time with my local Republican officials than in the previous two years. I mean, I think that don`t forget that, you know, the local communities are the ones where the rubber hits the road. And people were really feeling the pinch. So, I`m talking to all my mayors and town supervisors. We were doing regular zoom meetings in a way that we just never did beforehand.

So, I was working hand in glove with them. And it very rarely got super political, very rarely. I mean, an occasional basis. And that continues now. I spent my Saturday walking around one of my local communities, a flower fair with a local Republican official. We have differences of opinion, but they`re not differences on the role of democracy.

HAYES: Right. Final question for you. You sound encouraged about -- you think -- you think that Schumer is going to bring this to vote. And you sound like there`s -- this is not dead in the Senate right now as far as you can tell.

SLOTKIN: No, I don`t think so. I mean, it`s tough and it shouldn`t have to be this tough. And we`ve talked about this. Literally, I encourage members to read it. It`s a cut and paste job from the 9/11 Commission. So, if you`re against the Commission, you must have had some sort of problem with the 9/11 Commission because it`s a cut and paste job. So, I encourage people to read it. It should pass.

HAYES: All right, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, lovely evening light there in the great state of Michigan coming through that window. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

SLOTKIN: Have a good one.

HAYES: All right, next, will the guardrails that stops Trump from stealing the elections still be in place on the next threat to democracy? The push in battleground states to install Trump loyalists into crucial election rolls after this.


HAYES: In 2020, when it became the defending legitimacy of the presidential election, it was the secretaries of state who held the line. Democrats like Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson who pushed back against what she called already debunked conspiracy theories. There was then Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar in Pennsylvania who was sued by the Trump campaign for certifying the election. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs who received death threats after announcing that Joe Biden won her state.

You also had Republicans like Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske of Nevada, the only Republican statewide officeholder who is censured by her party because she would not fully investigate the big lie. And of course, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who President Trump tried to strong-arm into finding nearly 12,000 votes to declare him the winner. It is not too much of a stretch to say that these public officials were the guardrails that basically saved American democracy in its current form, at least for now.

Next year, 26 states have Secretary of State elections. According to a new piece by Politico, some of the people running for those jobs tried to overturn the 2020 election, or to put it another way, the campaign set up the possibility. The politicians who have taken steps to undermine faith in the American democratic system could soon be the ones running it.

The author of that piece is Zach Montellaro. He covers state politics and voting rights for Politico and he joins me now. Zach has great piece putting together sort of connecting a bunch of dots we`ve been kind of paying attention to. Who are some of the candidates who are -- who are sort of throwing their hat in the ring for Secretary of State which tends to be, you know, the kind of thing that aspiring politicians want to move up to statewide office go for not necessarily because they`re saying like, I`m an election administration person. It is often a stepping stone. What are you seeing on the ground?

ZACH MONTELLARO, STATE POLITICS REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes, so we`re seeing candidates kind of across the country get an early start to this race. You know, it`s not a huge surprise. Secretary of State is not traditionally top of the ticket race, right? I would be shocked if many viewers could name the Secretary of State pre-2020.

That`s going to change this year. We`ve already seen a lot of candidates get in. We`ve already seen groups that invest in these race saying this is going to be a historic year. But what we`ve seen is that early so far, there are Republican candidates who are talking about or are already in the race about running for Secretary of State who haven`t accepted the results of the 2020 election and have gone further than that, have actively sought to undermine the legitimacy of President Joe Biden`s victory.

Jody Hice, Representative Jody Hice of Georgia, is probably the biggest example, of course. He`s primary Secretary Raffensperger. He has the President`s endorsement -- rather, former President Trump`s endorsement. But there`s others as well.

HAYES: Yes, there`s -- I didn`t know a lot about a Representative Mark Finchem who`s a state rep in Arizona who is going to run. And I want to just play this sound first. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the Republicans who kind of came out, you know, kind of had had enough and disgusted with this recount effort and attacks on the integrity. And one of them called out Finchem of by name.

I`m gonna play that tap and then you can maybe explain who Finchem is and what he`s up to. Take a listen.


STEPHEN RICHER, CHIEF ELECTION OFFICER, MARICOPA COUNTY: Mark Finchem is running for Secretary of State. Process that. If the election was completely fraudulent as he says, why would you run for Secretary of State? What do you think, Dominion is going to rig it in your favor this time? Why are you running if you do not believe in these elections? I would suggest that his actions speak a lot louder than his words.


HAYES: Who is Finchem?

MONTELLARO: Yes, Representative Finchem is an Arizona state representative who has been one of the largest proponents of the audit, for lack of a better term, in Arizona. That audit being run by the State Senate has been just absolutely ripped apart by actual election officials as a scam, as dangerous because it`s kind of sowing distrust. Representative Finchem is not running it but he`s a big proponent of it. He`s kind of basing his secretary of state campaign off that audit.

Sometimes he phrases it as he`s just asking questions. Sometimes he says there was fraud in the 2020 election. But he is basically using this audit to launch his campaign to challenge Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

HAYES: You know, one thing we saw on the election, which is why I think these positions are so important, is that, you know, people tend not to pay a lot of attention to the kind of actual bureaucratic procedure by which votes get transferred into a declaration of who won. But there`s a lot of points in the process where an elected official sort of acts in a ministerial capacity to basically just vouch to stamp. You know, the Secretary of State certifying is one of them.

Just to say, yes, we count the votes. This person won. You know, you got to ask what happens if a secretary of state animated by, you know, conspiracy theories or pure partisan vitriol, just says, no, we`re not recognizing it.

MONTELLARO: Yes, there`s no real modern parallel for this. We don`t know what would happen if a secretary of state just said, no, I`m not -- I`m not signing off on this. And then this goes down the chain as well. You know, forget about Secretaries of State for a moment. Think about the locally elected county clerks or city clerks. These are very, very low profile positions.

And people -- that`s the people who are actually doing the vote counting to. What if somebody who has these beliefs gets in that spot as well? There`s all these pressure points that really people didn`t think of before 2020 because we hadn`t had a reason to. And now it`s kind of exposing the potential points that can be kind of driven in that could be dangerous, frankly.

HAYES: And did you find in your reporting a sort of symmetry of interest in these races between the different parties or does this become a sort of focal point for a particular very MAGA-centric faction of the Republican Party as opposed to other factions of the Republican Party or Democrats?

MONTELLARO: Well, I think if you ask that question maybe six or eight months ago, it would be a different answer. But now I think, think about Secretary Benson, a very prominent democratic secretary of Michigan. For a lot of Democrats, their Secretary of State has also become a household name.

I`ve talked to folks who`s going to work for both sides, Democrats, Republicans on these elections. They`re expecting 2022 to be maybe one of the biggest Secretary of State years ever. There`s going to be more money coming and going to be more attention. There can be more outside groups. So, it`s not like everyone is not paying attention. After 2020, Democrats, Republicans of all stripes are certainly watching these races. It won`t -- it won`t sneak up on anyone like they may have in the past.

HAYES: Yes, that`s a good point. Really good reporting. Zach Montellaro, thanks so much for making time tonight.

MONTELLARO: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, international outrage after Europe`s so-called last dictator effectively hijacks a passenger plane in order to arrest an opposition journalist. Will he get away with it? That unbelievable story next.


HAYES: Within just the last hour, President Biden called for an international investigation after a "outrageous incident this weekend" when the government of Belarus basically hijacked a commercial airliner as it flew between two European Union countries and then proceeded to kidnap passengers off that airliner.

Belarus is a landlocked European country with Russia in the East, Ukraine at south. Like other Soviet satellite states, it achieved independence in the early 1990s when the USSR collapsed. After a few years in the country`s very first election, a man named Alexander Lukashenko took power. He has been ruling Belarus ever since, winning, "five more elections," none of which were deemed free and fair by credible international observers.

His nickname is Europe`s last dictator. His closest ally is Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now, after Lukashenko got 80 percent of the vote last year, thousands of Russians took to the streets in protests. You may remember this. The crackdown against them was brutal.

Human rights groups estimate that around 35,000 people have been detained since August. This weekend, Lukashenko`s regime arrested another protester by calling him a fake bomb threat to the commercial airliner he was on and diverting his flight with a fighter jet.

26-year-old Roman Protasevich is a dissident journalist who fled Belarus two years ago. He had been living in Lithuania where he continued to report on Lukashenko. Last week, he flew to Athens in Greece to meet with an opposition leader. And then on Sunday, he boarded a Ryanair plane to return home to Lithuania.

The flight that he was on took him over Belarusian airspace and it is in Belarusian airspace when the leader of Belarus, Lukashenko, sent a MiG 29 fighter jet up into the air to intercept his flight just minutes before it was going to cross into Lithuanian airspace. In fact, according to his own press service, Alexander Lukashenko "personally ordered the fighter jet to escort the Ryanair plane to the Minsk airport in Belarus after a bomb threat.

As the plane landed, one passenger said the dissident journalist started panicking, saying this was because of him. He just turned to people and said he was facing the death penalty. He was arrested along with his girlfriend and three other passengers believed to be members of the Belarusian security services, still by the way called the KGB, also got off the plane.

No explosives were found, and the flight with the rest of the passengers on board was eventually allowed to leave to continue to its destination. Just a few hours ago, a video was released on social media appears to show the journalist, I got to say hostage style, confessing the crimes that would carry a long sentence.

It remains unclear what will become of him. It also seems clear that Europe`s last dictator has stepped over a line here. I mean, using a fighter jet to stop commercial aircraft flying from one E.U. country to another is an incredibly transgressive act.

Julia Ioffe moved to U.S. from the Soviet Union as a child. She`s covered Russia, its neighboring countries for much of her professional life as a journalist. She`s now a correspondent for G.Q. and she joins me tonight. I think, Julia, for folks that have sort of monitored this maybe in the background of their news consumption, know a little bit about Lukashenko. The brazenness here is really jarring. I`m wondering what your reaction was.

JULIA IOFFE, CORRESPONDENT, GQ: It was about that. When I saw the news yesterday, my jaw just hit the floor. And it took me a while to compose myself and, you know, get the jaw back on my face. It`s really, I mean, incredible not just, you know, calling in the fake bomb threat from Hamas and, you know, using the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to further his own aims, sending a fighter jet to force a civilian airliner to land not where it was supposed to outside of the European Union just to arrest a 26-year- old journalist and his girlfriend, I mean, it`s just -- it`s really breathtaking.

HAYES: What`s the context here in terms of both sort of, in some ways, desperate -- I can`t tell if this shows desperation or confidence, right? In one level, it`s like, confidence because you can get away with it. Desperation, because you are so focused on this one 26-year-old journalist. He`s such a threat to you, you need to get him. But what does this mean to you about Lukashenko and his relationship to the E.U. and to Russia?

IOFFE: So, I think both Lukashenka and Putin are now in this phase where, you know, if any gloves were on at any point, they`re off and thrown away and long gone to the, you know, the city dump. This is a fight for his survival after the August election that was widely believed to be rigged, and the mass protests, the biggest in Belarus` history, swept the country.

He cracked down really hard as you said. He arrested tens of thousands of people, many of whom including the leaders of the opposition remain in jail. People reported being tortured, raped, threatened with mock executions. And this also comes today, Lukashenko signed a law, a really insane media law basically banning journalists from covering unsanctioned protests. Protest against Lukashenko, you can`t cover as a journalist. If you get fined, you can`t crowd-fund your fine. You`re not allowed to hyperlink to banned information. You can`t run media organizations from outside the country.

You also see this happening inside Russia, an unprecedented sweep against all kinds of journalists for just covering anti-Kremlin protests, also using similar tactics of equating the opposition with terrorists and extremists, ISIS, and Al Qaeda, and the Taliban. These are these are men who want to stay at power at any cost and they`re throwing away any pretense that was left and any -- even nods to democratic norms.

HAYES: Yes. And Putin, I mean, it`s been very clear, right, that he`s sort of obsessed and I don`t think crazily so, right, this sort of domino theory of everything. I mean, Ukraine really, like sent him around the bend. He has -- he has expressed in his own words, and I think probably seems to believe that there`s essentially a vast, you know, U.S.-led conspiracy to sort of overthrow these regimes on his doorstep. And that each one that goes, you know, threatens him imperils Russia.

So, clearly, he`s very invested in Lukashenko and it does seem like, absent that investment, it`s hard to imagine something this brazen happening.

IOFFE: Well, they`ve had a pretty kind of up and down relationship. I think Putin isn`t always happy with Lukashenko and vice versa. They step on each other`s toes quite a bit. I think what we are seeing here -- I mean, the E.U. responded. You know, he timed this very poorly to coincide with a big meeting of E.U. heads, and they responded by isolating Belarus. So, no flights can fly over, no -- basically, no flights coming out of Belarus can land pretty much anywhere in Europe.

This also affects Russian travelers who were used to traveling to Ukraine through Minsk because there are no flights anymore between Kiev and Moscow. But I think it shows the limits of -- that the West has. OK, they`re going to put in some sanctions. Well, he`s already known as the last dictator of Europe. They`re already a bunch of sanctions. They`re a bunch of sanctions on Putin.

And you know, if you have Russia in your corner and maybe China in your corner, it doesn`t really matter all that much what the U.S. and E.U. do.

HAYES: Yes, that`s a really good point. We should say, yes, we just showed that clip the European Union began the process of banning Belarusian airlines from flying over the bloc`s airspace or landing in the airports effectively severing the country`s air connection to Western Europe, which again, you know, that`s -- that has some teeth to it. But, you know, I kept thinking today as I was sort of processing the news on this about Jamal Khashoggi, who, you know, Mohammad bin Salman had murdered according to U.S. intelligence in a foreign capital, right, like not even in his own country.

IOFFE: A NATO capital.

HAYES: A NATO capital. We saw it -- we have seen essentially the crackdown on Hong Kong protesters happened kind of just right in the open. This sort of testing of the limitations of sanction condemnation, all these things seems to be a broader global phenomenon than necessarily just Lukashenko and Putin. And to your point really says like, well, what exactly -- you know, what is going to stop people?

IOFFE: Yes. And if you look -- you know, if you look at Belarus` main trading partners, it`s mostly Russia, Ukraine, a little bit of Poland, and way, way down at the bottom is Germany, the Netherlands, etcetera. So, OK, you can impose some sanctions, but they`re not trading with you that much anyway.

The other thing is Vladimir Putin has been talking about this quite a while. He said it at his -- at the Munich Security Conference in 2007 that he was working toward a multipolar world where not all -- there wasn`t just one country, i.e. the U.S. calling the shots. And he`s getting it right. Thanks to China, thanks to his own actions, it really waters down the power of any punitive measures that the --- that Washington and Brussels could take.

HAYES: Julia Ioffe, that was illuminating. Thank you so much.

IOFFE: Thank you.

HAYES: Next, why the Wuhan lab leak theory isn`t really quite the smoking gun conservators think -- seem to think it is. What we do and do not know about the origins of COVID-19 after this.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Three million people have died from this pandemic. And that should cause us to explore all possibilities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact that the Biden administration will not confront them on the origins of this and hold them accountable is really disrespectful to every American that lost a loved one as a result of the worst pandemic of our lifetime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With 589,920 dead Americans, at what point is President Biden say we don`t want to wait for the WHO. We don`t know what they`re doing. This needs to be an American-led effort to get to the bottom of what happened.


HAYES: You may have noticed, there`s been an intensive effort by those in the right to advance a theory about COVID origins from a lab called the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. This notion called the lab leak hypothesis by some is not, I got to say, it`s not completely insane. But we do not really have any actual like direct concrete evidence for it being the case.

But the idea, as reflected in the reporting from the Wall Street Journal yesterday, is that some employees of the Wuhan Institute, a place that studies these kinds of viruses, right, viruses in animals, ones across to humans, that some of those folks were hospitalized in the fall of 2019 which would be very, very early in the development of the epidemic with COVID-like symptoms.

Now, because that lab was studying coronaviruses in animals that might cross over to humans as had happened in other cases in SARS, for instance, the theory is that if through a tragic accident, right, one of those employees -- this is not a bioweapons lab, right? These are like public health workers who`s trying to get their arms around this. That one of those employees ended up contracting one of those animal-borne viruses in that lab, that maybe they are the vector by which it was released into the general population and would then go on to become COVID-19.

Now, as I said, there are some suggestive data points like this new Wall Street Journal reporting that makes it at least plausible. It`s not like impossible. There was some early speculation that it was like a bioweapon, but that`s just implausible. The genomic sequencing tells us it`s not, OK.

But in terms of where it started, it`s started in a market, in a food market among some animals there or in this virology lab, the World Health Organization said no hypothesis is off the table. The real answer is we really just do not know concretely for a bunch of reasons, partly because the Chinese government is not exactly like touring everyone through the origins of this thing.

But it`s all kind of indicative of the strange narrative first approach of so much the conservative media`s coverage of the virus in the beginning. I mean, since January of last year, right, we`ve seen these bizarre twists and turns in the coverage, which always seemed to put some ideological, useful, polarizing story first. Like, the Chinese government is bad or our heroic president has found the miracle cure in a malaria drug, rather than any attempt to just in good faith, assess what is happening with a complicated and deadly once-in-a-century pandemic.

And that impulse, that`s pretty ubiquitous and it can be contagious for all of us. The most important rule to follow with COVID or anything else, right, is just to try in good faith with diligence and rigor and curiosity, to assemble the best picture of knowledge you can, what are the facts in the world, and then see what the social and political implications are after you have a handle on that.

And that way, you don`t end up with these bizarre contradictions that if it was the Chinese government that unleash COVID, well, then it`s horrible and more proof of the irredeemability of the Chinese Communist Party, but also COVID is really not that bad and liberals are crazy for overreacting. It`s just flu, right?

The narrative first failures of right-wing media during this pandemic, I think, have tangibly degraded the nation`s ability both to govern itself and fight off pandemics. But it is not exclusive to them. Those impulses suffuse all of us. And I`m speaking about myself here, right, that do this for a living. It should be an object lesson to all of us not to let ourselves view the world primarily as through a set of facts that may or may not be conveniently marshaled for a specific political end.



BRIDGETT FLOYD, SISTER OF GEORGE FLOYD: It has been a long year. It has been a painful year. It has been very frustrating for me and my family, for your life to change within a blink of an eye. That officer didn`t know what he took from us last year.


HAYES: Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Amidst the pandemic lockdowns, that death triggered, arguably according to some tallies, the literal largest civil rights protests in American history.

A year later, there are some pretty disquieting questions about what has changed, what has been gained and lost after the outpouring of people in the streets, young, and old, white, black, Asian, Latino, indigenous in towns, small and cities large.

I thought a good person to check in with would be Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Democrat from New York. He`s part of a new crop of progressive Democrats. He represents a fascinatingly diverse district in the Bronx and Westchester. I should say, full disclosure, my brother works for him as an advisor, but I don`t hold that against a congressman.

Congressman, it`s good to see you. You know, I was thinking of you because, you know, you`re part of a new class of Democrats. You ran a successful primary against the long-term incumbent. And your election happened right in the midst of this. I mean, you were campaigning as this was happening in the streets. And I`m curious what -- where you are a year later in the conversations you have with your constituents about what has and hasn`t happened?

REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): So, I`m pretty reflective, personally, because as you mentioned, a year ago, the murder of George Floyd happened and there were just so many uprisings not just across the country but within the district. And you know the district pretty well, Chris. So when you see young people in Rye, New York organizing Black Lives Matter rallies or young people in Scarsdale or young people in Mamaroneck, that`s what we saw a year ago after the murder, and right before our election.

But a year later, you know, police have literally killed someone every single day minus six days over the last 365 days. We still haven`t passed the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act in the Senate, and there are still efforts to water that policy down which is the floor, not the ceiling, by the way.

And now that crime is has grown in certain parts of the country, we`ve had calls for more police. And here the NYPD has unveiled a robot police dog that it will use for surveillance. So, while you know, new conversations are happening, and the entire country got to see the horror of the murder of George Floyd, we still are not far enough along yet to really have the transformative policy and change both federally and locally that we need.

HAYES: There`s two things you mentioned there. I want to follow up with one. You talked about a rise in crime, and I should say specifically violence. We`ve seen shootings -- particularly shootings and homicides. The crime statistics are broken out in all kinds of ways, but I think it`s pretty clear those have gone up. They`ve gone up in New York City.

And the ways in which that is interacting with this policy -- the New York Times running this headline that, you know, there`s pressure to add police amid rising crime. It focuses on Los Angeles, but you`ve seen some of the same arguments made. I`m curious what your discussion with your constituents are about precisely this question.

BOWMAN: So, it`s this -- it`s this binary, right? It`s either, you know, freedom or prison. And we never talk about the in-between. You know, what is the in-between? I think the American Rescue Plan is one example of the in-between in terms of bringing the resources to bear to communities that have been historically redlined.

So, invest in our -- in our public infrastructure, invest in our schools, invest into social infrastructure to provide the academic, mental health, and social supports that people need. Invest in jobs and job training programs. That is what we`re hearing from people on the ground, in addition to, you know, we`re still hearing about, you know, the accountability piece of it right. If someone does harm against a community, they need to be held accountable.

But the count -- accountability doesn`t always look like jail, or prison, or solitary confinement, or torture. It looks very different if we reimagine public safety. Give people to help in the supports that they need and they are less likely to commit crime or commit harm against the community. We have to understand. Crime is more prevalent and historically, under resources -- under resourced, neglected, and red-lined communities. So, once we invest the resources in these spaces and begin new dialogue and conversations and implementation, I believe and what we`ve seen prior to this recent uptick is a consistent decrease in crime.

And let`s not forget COVID`s impact on this in terms of trauma and distress in the job loss that people have been going through. You know, it`s a convergence of all of these factors that I believe and people in the district believe has led to the increase in crime.

HAYES: Yes, that point I think is a really important one, because people taught -- point to the material deprivation of the last year, which is true and -- but the sheer amount of trauma and dislocation, social rupture that happened in the past year, I mean, fabrics torn apart. I mean, that has an impact on places. I`m sure it`s had an impact in many of the places in your district as well.

Congressman Jamaal Bowman, thanks so much for making time tonight.

BOWMAN: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: That is ALL IN for this Monday evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris.