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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 5/3/21

Guests: Bernie Sanders, John Podesta, Abby Livingston, Linda Chavez, Derek Thompson, Jennifer Nuzzo


President Joe Biden is succeeding where former President Trump failed, and that is in unifying the country around common goals. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is interviewed on Joe Biden`s accomplishments in his first 100 days. Republicans are punished for not pushing the Trump big lie that the election was stolen. Republicans keep quiet amid the investigation into Matt Gaetz. Millions of Americans are saying no to the vaccine.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: But that briefing was not given according to a second source familiar with the matter, because of concerns that the briefing could complicate the criminal investigation into the former New York City Mayor. I will continue to follow this story. That is tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN. The on trumping of America.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just think about in terms of what`s better for America.

HAYES: How Joe Biden is thriving and the fierce urgency of now for Democrats with former Obama and Clinton advisor John Podesta and Senator Bernie Sanders. Then --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wouldn`t be surprised if they found thousands and thousands and thousands of votes.

HAYES: How an area wedding emcee doing 2020 cover tunes is still leading his party by the nose. Plus, why are national Republicans still silent over the latest Matt Gaetz bombshell. And unpacking the headline about herd immunity in the U.S., new reporting on what`s motivating people who refuse to take the COVID vaccine. When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. You know, when Joe Biden was running for president, his fundamental promise was to defeat the virus, get the country up and running again, and just be the polar opposite of Donald Trump by, you know, laying low, trying to unify the country around big goals.

At the time, Trump thought this was risible. He mocked Biden calling him "the most boring human being I`ve ever seen." We`re now more than 100 days into the Biden presidency. And so far, President Biden is basically ticking through every box, delivering on the big promises. And there`s new polling showing that maybe boring is exactly what a lot of people wanted.

I mean, I`ve said this before and I want to stress it again, Biden`s approach to the presidency so far is completely different in terms of approaching its rhetorical centrality than certainly, his predecessors are but even Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. Thanks to the Biden administration`s accelerated vaccination push, new cases of COVID are at the lowest point since the beginning of October, hallelujah. We have not had a fourth wave just that relatively muted bump at the end of the chart there.

Hopefully, as more and more people get vaccinated, that case number will get lower and lower and lower. It`s not a stretch to say the Biden administration has done as good a job at rolling out vaccines and vaccination as any other large developed nation in the world.

In addition, Biden`s stimulus package has provided the sparky promise. Look at some of these numbers. U.S. Gross Domestic Product, GDP hit 6.4 percent. That`s the second-best quarterly reading since 2003, trailing only last summer`s super anomalous record rebound right after we shut down the economy and then started to open it back up in the summer.

But last year`s numbers are crazy outlier. It was in an unprecedented set of circumstances. But aside from that, the last time the U.S. GDP hit 6.4 percent in the first quarter of the year was 1969. And again, it`s not just some large, abstract economic measurements because people don`t care about that. They generally care what the economy is doing their lives. They care about our own finances.

Thanks to the stimulus, Americans actually have more money to spend, a lot more. Look at this statistic. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, OK, disposable personal income, that`s the money that Americans have to spend, right. The amount of money the individual household has after tax has increased $2.36 trillion, 67 percent in the first quarter of 2021. Compare that with a decrease of $402 billion. That`s down 8.8 percent in the last quarter of 2020.

Look at the end of that chart. See how it goes down there and then rockets up. Some restaurant owners, other service employers have complained that, you know, they can`t hire people. People don`t want to work because the stimulus benefits are so good, even though a study last summer found extra unemployment benefits are not creating a disincentive for job seekers.

But again, think about this. If your big critique is job markets are too tight and you have to pay people too much money in their jobs. Most folks are going to take that, right? In fact, in new Yahoo News-YouGov poll found people like just about everything Biden is doing, at least a majority do. Americans approve his handling of the Coronavirus by a big margin 57 to 32. They approve his handling of the economy 49 to 38.

Biden is also above water on things that tend to be more polarizing and controversial, on climate change race, foreign policy, all major stories during the first few months of his presidency. And yet as surefooted as unified Democratic control has been in pursuing these big popular things, and they are 100 days in, you know, they`ve been doing a pretty good job, the Republican Party is still there. It is more radicalized against democracy than ever. That gets worse every day. We`re going to talk about that more.

It`s committed to using the tools at its disposal to lock itself into power, no matter what the voters think. And the institutions of American governance from state gerrymandering to the United States Senate already give the Republican power -- party incredible power to do that.

So, unless President Biden and Democrats start to attempt the more politically dangerous, but necessary structural reforms, killing the filibuster, passing H.R.1 and the John Lewis rights -- voting RIGHTS Act, D.C. statehood, unless they start getting more support from all the Senate Democrats, including West Virginia`s Joe Manchin who this weekend says he opposes D.C. statehood, everything Biden and the Democratic Party have done more or less right, which again, they have -- this is not some like fanboy thing, just an evaluation of where they are in the first 100 days. They have been delivering on the things they said they would do.

All of that is still going to be imperiled by the structural conditions of minority rule in the U.S. governing institutions and a party that is radicalizing against democracy married to each other. And the clock on the Biden administration is ticking. Yes, Democrats control the House and Senate but for how long?

Look at how the party in the White House has traditionally fared in the first midterms on our new president. It`s not pretty. The only one to gain seat is George W. Bush, and that was shortly after 9/11. But part of that is just the thermostatic nature of public opinion, right? Republicans are in power, people kind of turn against them. Democrats are in power, people turn against them. So, you try to do the best you can.

But the deeper structural issues, the way that Republicans use gerrymandering in the states and has been utilized in the right, the increasing disconnect between the U.S. Senate, the median voter in a Senate race, and the U.S. populace, you have to address those. The President deserves praise for everything he`s accomplished to this point. But in some ways, it`s like, now comes the hard part, right? This gets to the core of the fundamental story of our time, which continues to be. Will American democracy be refortified against its enemies, or not?

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is chair of both Senate Budget Committee and the Senate Democratic Outreach Committee and he joins me now. Senator, you`re someone who I think shares with your colleagues there is a -- there`s a lot of big substantive stuff you want to do on worker`s rights in the pro act, which would be the strongest change to labor law probably since the new deal on climate, on health care, all that stuff, right?

And then, there`s the more structural reform areas. And I wonder if you see them in competition for prioritization or floor time or what that looks like from your perspective in the caucus?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Well, the answer is, yes, they are in competition. There`s a limited amount of time. We have 50-50 tie in the Senate. I think of the House throw up by three or four votes, so we can`t make any mistakes. But what I do think, Chris, is at this moment, what is the right thing to do policy-wise makes very good politics. And that is to continue Biden`s effort to be bold. to go big.

So if we, in the next several months can create millions of good-paying jobs by finally rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, if finally, we deal with the existential threat of climate change, which is not only the right thing to do in terms of the future of the planet, it also can create millions of jobs. If we can do what has never been done, Chris, and that his take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, they have never lost, they could double the price of your medicine tomorrow, totally legal.

If we can take them on and go to the American people and say, you know what, we reduced your prescription drug costs by 50 percent -- and by the way, because we`ve negotiated prescription drug prices with Medicare which every other country in the world does, we have enough money to expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing aids, eyeglasses and lower medical eligibility age to 60.

You are right about the structural problems that we face. But right now, if we can do those policy initiatives, a lot of people in this country could be nodding their heads, say, you know what, that`s pretty good. Maybe I`m going to vote for the Democrats.

HAYES: You know, I think -- I mean, that seems to be a perfectly persuasive or at least defensible theory of the case, right? That if you do good stuff, if life gets better, particularly when you think about how dark -- I mean, how really awful, you know, particularly December, January of this past year where in so many ways, the sheer level of death and suffering and the insurrection, all that stuff. But there`s also just this question of like, you know, when you look at that chart we showed, midterms are tough for the party in power just is the case.

And, you know, you were down in Kentucky recently, right, I think over the weekend, you know, trying to sort of take the fight to McConnell. I guess - - I guess the approach has to be you do the best you can and hope that if you govern well, you`re rewarded politically, right?

SANDERS: Well, the answer is yes. But your point is absolutely true as well. Look, we are fighting -- let`s be clear. The debate now with the Republican Party, it`s not all the health care or education or climate. It`s whether or not we remain a democracy. All across this country, unprecedented, vicious and ugly, voter suppression efforts are taking place. And we`ve got to deal with that.\

H.R.1 which is a very significant piece of legislation which makes certain that we will not have voter suppression, deals with billionaires buying elections, deal with -- deals with excessive gerrymandering, we`ve got a pass that. We`ve got the past time. It has to do with the future of American democracy. But we`re going to be moving on a dozen different directions. We`re going to be moving hard.

HAYES: Well, that`s -- I guess the question is, you know, I think the -- what you just said is important to me because I tend to see this in that prism that we really -- we survived the real narrow -- narrowly. It will attempt on something that would have profoundly altered the degree to which America is a functioning democracy, which was a frontal assault on the peaceful transfer of power by the loser to retain it over the winner. And that assault continues.

And I wonder if do people -- do you and your colleagues feel the kind of hot breath of that on the back of your neck, that that is still there, it hasn`t been permanently defeated in anyway.

SANDERS: I think many of us do. But I cannot tell you all of us do. You know, the point that I try to make to my colleagues is number one, as you`ve pointed out from a historical perspective, you know, it is going to be a really tough fight for Democrats to retain control of the House and the Senate.

And if we lose in either body, then to a significant degree, Biden`s agenda is finished. But second of all, you have a former president who continues to spread the outrageous lie that he won the election, all right. We have never seen this before. And many of his followers and many of his supporters in Congress maintain that lie as well.

So, we`re going into a territory we have never been in before, not debating ideas and issues, but dealing with an incredible level of disinformation and lies. How you deal with that is tough stuff, to be honest with you. But it`s something we have got to figure out.

HAYES: Senator Bernie Sanders who is hard at work in that -- in that governing coalition with the slimmest of margins, but so far getting a lot done. Thanks for making some time for us.

SANDERS: Thank you.

HAYES: John Podesta knows more than just about anyone else in the country about implementing a Democratic agenda, chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, counsel to President Barack Obama, campaign chair for Hillary Clinton`s 2016 presidential campaign. He recently published a piece of the NBC Think -- for NBC Think titled Biden`s first 100 days where complete success. Here`s how to make the next 100 even better. And John Podesta joins me now.

I want to pose a somewhat similar question you that I just posed to Senator Sander which is this. This approach which I think the Biden and Democratic majority have taken, which I think has been smart is, find things that are part of the Democratic agenda that were promised anyway, and are pretty popular and good on the merits and really lean into those. So, that was true COVID relief. I think that`s true of infrastructure.

The question is on something like D.C. statehood, which is more polarizing, even though it pulls quite well, but it`s more polarizing. It`s a more contentious fight in some ways. You might watch the poll numbers start to go south on it at some point. It`s like, do you hold it together to wait -- fight and make that a reality or do you not? That to me is the sort of question right now.

JOHN PODESTA, FOUNDER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, look, I think that the President is doing what he should be doing, which is he`s delivering for the American people. And they`re seeing that every day, starting with COVID. The distribution of the vaccine, passing the American Recovery Act, putting money in people`s pockets, we see the economy taking off now with jobless claims going down, people being able to go back to work.

And I think that builds capital to take on the tough fights like D.C. statehood which I think can be done. But I don`t think he`ll get any help from the Republicans there. So, I think he has to basically make the case - - and I agree with Senator Sanders, this assault on democracy that`s happening at the state level of by Republicans across the country has to be resisted. And I think the first step is to pass H.R.1, S1, the For the People Act.

But D.C. statehood is part of that agenda. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act is part of that agenda. That has to -- you know, that can`t be done through a fancy budget maneuver. That has to be taken head-on which will require him to change a few minds about whether the filibuster still has a place in the United States Senate. You know, President Obama called it the last vestige of Jim Crow and he was absolutely right in saying that.

HAYES: Yes, the elite consensus, for lack of a better word, at least consensus among folks that are working in Democratic politics, I think has really changed on this. I mean, I think it changed -- wouldn`t you agree that in the last 10 years or so, right, on the filibuster and its abuse and its use, but you know, you still got -- you`ve still got the 50 vote problem.

And, you know, you`ve got -- I think Joe Manchin is sort of a useful foil in some ways, but he also hides probably two or three other senators who are not there on a bunch of stuff also. And so, everyone could point to Joe Manchin, but it`s not clear you got, you know, your 49 votes on a lot of this stuff.

PODESTA: You know, look, I think the main highway is what he talked about in the speech to the joint session last week, which is to build an economy that`s going to work for working people and for the middle class. I think that builds his political capital. If he can get that done, if he can get people get wages growing, get people back to work, transform the economy, deal with climate change. I think he is amassing capital.

And I think that if you look at his job approval numbers, it closely tracks with how he`s dealing with the economy. I think people, if they feel like he`s got their back on the economy, they`ll come with them on these questions. And I think, frank -- quite frankly, the case he has to put the Democrats from Joe Manchin all the way to the other side of the spectrum, is that what`s happening in the states today, what the Republican Party is doing, is, in essence, Jim Crow.

They are trying to disenfranchise people right in left across the country. And as Democrats, we can`t let that happen. I think if you make that case, that making it more difficult for Black people to vote, more people -- more difficult for young people to vote, more difficult for Latinx people to vote, then I think you could build that consensus that that can break the back of that filibuster, at least for those civil rights centric issues.

HAYES: Yes, I mean, the precedent I always think of here is McConnell with Merrick Garland, right, which is, you know, the public opinion wasn`t on his side, history wasn`t on this side, norms weren`t on the side, he just made a calculation that like, this is what matters to us. Power here matters and we`ll -- whatever, we`ll take the hit. I think he made a political calculation that it probably also helped Republicans at the ballot box in 2016 to have that seat open.

But at a certain point, you know, you have to make these pretty hard decisions about what matters to you in the long run, even if it`s going to be a fight in the short term. And what I hear from you is that you sequence it in such a way that you build capital for that fight. But at some point, you`re going to have to have a fight.

PODESTA: Yes, I think -- I think that`s exactly right, Chris. And right now, I think what the President is doing is he`s reaching out to Republicans, I`m a little skeptical about that, quite frankly, but to try to see where there`s some common ground at least on infrastructure. But I think he`s put big packages to do things like expand paid leave, make the child tax credit that was part of the American Recovery Act permanent. You know, put people to work, doing the things that we need done and child care and eldercare.


PODESTA: Transforming the energy system in America by creating a cycle of innovation and job creation. That`s I think, in their mind job number one. He`s got a certain amount of time to do it. I would say between now and the August recess, if they can get some things done by bipartisan means, more power to him. I think they`re going to probably have to go back to reconciliation. But they have to get these -- they have to tee up and argue for these Democratic reforms are in the issue -- in the interests of the country and core values to Democrats.

HAYES: Yes, that to me is a big question about everything. Is it -- are you fortifying democracy or are you -- are you defending it against its foes or are you not. John Podesta, thank you for your time tonight.

PODESTA: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Right now, a key part of being a member of the Republican Party, one of the two major parties we have, is to continue spreading the big lie, thereby proving to the MAGA base that you still are firmly in Trump`s corner. But what happens to Republicans who just won`t do it, they won`t say two plus two equals five? The fate of the party of Trump defectors after this.


HAYES: The big lie, the false toxic claim that Donald Trump actually won the election was stolen from him by some ever more complicated conspiracy is what led hundreds and hundreds of rioters to storm the Capitol on January 6th. And that big lie is now the central litmus test for ideological purity inside the Republican Party.

For Republican politicians it is either you`re with us on the big lie or you are against us. Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah who of course voted to impeach the former president twice, the second time for inciting an insurrection is now getting booed by members of his own party when he just references his criticisms of Donald Trump.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Now, you know me as a person who says what he thinks that I don`t hide the fact that I wasn`t a fan of our last president`s character issues, and I`m also no fan -- aren`t you embarrassed?


HAYES: Mitt Romney, fascinating character. He`s like, you could boo all you want. I still got five homes. What are you going to do? That was at the Utah Republican Convention this past Saturday. Then there`s the number three Republican and House leadership, Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming. Her political life now appears to basically depend on whether she can defend the simple factual statement that Donald Trump lost the election. That`s it that is now everything for her future.

This morning, she tweeted, "The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading the big lie, turning their back on the rule of law, and poising our democratic system." This while members in her party are predicting she will be out of her leadership role by the end of the month.

And on the ground in a runoff special election this weekend in Texas` sixth congressional district, the only openly anti-Trump Republican in the field got absolutely walloped. He picked up just three percent of the vote.

And in Arizona, the Republican Party is continuing the dangerous and farcical recount of all the ballots in Maricopa County nearly six months after the election. Meanwhile, the former president himself is still waxing poetic about finding irregularities right around the corner, apparently living in an alternate reality down at Mar-a-Lago.


TRUMP: The state senate of Arizona just had a great ruling that the audit, forensic audit can continue. And let`s see what they find. I wouldn`t be surprised if they found thousands and thousands and thousands of votes. So, we`re going to watch that very closely.

And after that, you watch Pennsylvania and your watch Georgia, and you`re going to watch Michigan and Wisconsin and you`re watching New Hampshire, they found a lot of votes up in New Hampshire just now and you saw that because this was a rigged election. Everybody knows it.


HAYES: It`s the cutaway to the wedding band that really makes that clever. I mean, that sounds like a person in the grip of a genuine delusion that would be deeply and profoundly worrying if you were a loved one. I mean, you would be like, what do we have -- what are we going to do here about this? And that belief is now the defining ideological feature of one of the two major parties.

For more on the power Trump and his big lies still have over the party and its voters, I want to bring in Abby Livingston, Washington bureau chief for the Texas Tribune. Abby, I wanted to talk to you because, you know, we get elections every two years, but then we get these specials. And they serve as a kind of, you know, little diagnostic temperature check.

They`re weird, because they`re not, you know, the big elections. But Texas 6, you know, one guy tried to do the I don`t like Donald Trump, but I`m still a Republican, and it just -- there`s no market for it.

ABBY LIVINGSTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE TEXAS TRIBUNE: Correct. And this is an especially weird special election. Texas has not really had any special elections for House races and federal that fall in the middle of the year, the off-year where you can`t really line it up on election day in a really long time, so long I can`t really place it.

And so, what you had here, we also have a top-two system in our special elections, which means the top two candidates, regardless of party, go into a runoff if no candidate clears 50 percent plus one vote. And there were 23 candidates in this race, Democratic and Republican.

And to add on top of that, this could be a battleground race. It`s really a Republican seat, but it`s trending somewhat Democratic. It`s got rural stretches, suburban and urban. And so, it was a very strange race to begin with. But on the Republican side, there really wasn`t any oxygen for an anti-Trump candidate so much so that Michael Wood, the candidate who was running on that platform was completely an afterthought in in coverage and how we looked at the race.

HAYES: Yes, there`s no -- I mean, there`s just no market for it. There`s -- you know, there`s a tiny sliver of people that, you know, have publications or, you know, columns for major newspapers, but it`s just not -- it`s not a broad political movement. The broad political movement is now, I think, with Liz Cheney, the question being called that you`re allowed to be silent about the big lie, right, in Republican politics. You can just sort of uncomfortably look the other way.

But it`s becoming clearer and clearer that it just won`t be tolerated for Republicans to loudly proclaim the basic truth of the matter about what happened in the election.

LIVINGSTON: Well, Michael Wood`s most prominent endorser was Adam Kinzinger, the Illinois Republican who has been out on this. And Kinzinger did what he could, but that is one single member of Congress. And that is, I didn`t check the exact donations, but Kinzinger can, you know, donate some money from his campaign to the other campaign. He can, you know, lend tweet about him try to raise the stature of a candidate. But other than that there is no infrastructure for an anti-Trump Republican.

The candidate who came in first, Susan Wright, who is also the widow of Ron Wright, the congressman who died, which is the reason why there is a special, she had endorsements from everyone you can think of, the state party, Donald Trump, the Club for Growth, the establishment country club type Republicans in the area, these are all groups that were fighting for years ago, and they just very naturally seem to land on the same spot with the exception of Rick Perry, who endorsed Jake Ellzey the second runner up who is facing off Wright in the runoff.

HAYES: Right. So, you`ve got -- I mean, what you`re seeing here, I think, is that there`s just a coalescing of what -- there isn`t really a civil war anymore. I mean, you know, Liz Cheney, I mean -- and you`ve got a Texas Congressman -- the Texas Congressman who represents fifth district who we just tweeted saying like she`s going to be at a leadership, I think he`s probably right. Like, they`re just going to purge. I mean, we`ve seen this but the other party`s at other times. They`re just going to purge the dissenters who insist on saying this wildly irresponsible in their view thing which is the true fact of who won.

LIVINGSTON: Yes. That congressman who tweeted that is Lance Gooden from a nearby district. And yes, I was -- that was my only -- I always going to point out, this is not a civil war. These are -- this is like rebels going after the Deathstar, but there`s really no path to blow it up. These are skirmishes of individuals and not group movements to take on Trump or Trump followers.

HAYES: Abby Livingston who writes at the Texas Tribune, thank you so much.

LIVINGSTON: Thank you.

HAYES: Ahead, amidst growing reports of the sex trafficking investigation into Matt Gaetz, why are all the Republicans basically staying silent on it? The business as usual GOP after this.


HAYES: Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida has not been charged with sex trafficking of a minor, but his associate, former Florida official Joe Greenberg has. And last week we learned that Greenberg allegedly wrote a big long confession letter claiming that Matt Gaetz committed the same offense according to the Daily Beast who say they obtained a hand-written copy of this big confession letter.

Now, NBC News has not independently verified that letter. Matt Gaetz has consistently denied the allegations that he has ever paid for sex, or had sex with a 17-year-old. That would be a legal minor or otherwise a child. Now, in the court of public opinion the politicians are subjected to which is different than the due process of our courts, you know, accusations of sex trafficking a minor and FBI investigation, those allegations, your buddy and associate being charged with that, usually pretty big deal, kind of tough on the reputation, maybe that`s fair, maybe that`s not, yet we have seen a near-complete wall of silence about Congressman Gaetz and an unperturbed soldiering on for Republicans that just about every level.

The Florida Senate President recently told the Tampa Bay Times, "I have no thoughts." The Florida House Speaker said "I don`t have any reaction to it." The Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis claimed "I don`t have anything to say." Yes, why would you have anything to say about any of this, right? Yes, maybe, you know, is associate who sex trafficked a minor, maybe he did too.

We reached out to the offices of Governor DeSantis, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Rick Scott, asking if they support Congressman gets Gaetz`s continued service representing their state and Congress. We did not hear back from Governor DeSantis or Senator Rubio. We did receive this statement from Senator Scott`s office which is interesting. "Senator Scott has been clear that these are extremely serious and concerning allegations and we need to get all the facts."

For more on where the new bar in the Republican Party has been set, I`m joined by Linda Chavez, former White House Director, Public Liaison under President Ronald Reagan. I have to say, I guess at least the Rick Scott statement is better than nothing. I mean, you know, you`ve been around politics, I`ve covered policy for a while. Like, you know, people get accused of stuff where they`re -- you find out there`s investigation, there`s ways to issue statements not saying, look, this definitely happened that express concern. And there`s just been this total like, see no evil, hear no evil response so far.

LINDA CHAVEZ, FORMER REAGAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, that`s exactly right. And, Chris, I think you`ve had to reach down at the sixth circle of hell to get a heretic like me to come on and speak about it because Republicans won`t. I mean, it`s just -- it`s really quite amazing. I cannot remember any sec scandal in my 40 years or so of activity in politics in Washington D.C. where you didn`t have at least some hemming and hawing and hedging and discomfort and indicating that, you know, if it turns out to be true, you know, of course, we`re going to do something.

And it`s usually been the end of a politician`s career. And most politicians don`t even wait to get to either a court of law or even the larger court of opinion on the polling place. They stepped aside. They stepped down, not Matt.

HAYES: And I -- yes, and I think -- I mean, I honestly think that`s -- there`s some level which that`s somewhat bipartisan. I think there have been standards now set partly through Trump that like if you soldier on. But the other thing when you talk about sex scandals, right, I mean, what I keep thinking about in this -- in this case is, you know, I think there`s been a little bit of evolution of what consenting adults do is maybe not a matter of public opinion. But the adult part matters a heck of a lot in that sentence.

Now, again, he denies it, he has not been charged, but like, that is what is on the table. That is what his associate has been accused of.

CHAVEZ: Well, that`s right. And what they`ve all learned is they`ve taken play out of Donald Trump`s playbook which is to deny and to deflect. They deny that anything happened, and then they tried to make the scandal. The reporting of what happened as certainly Matt Gaetz has tried to do, claiming his father was being essentially get up from money, trying to make the people who are actually trying to get to the bottom of what`s happened the bad guys,

HAYES: There`s -- we should also note that it`s not like he`s been people have been rushing to defend him, right? There`s a little bit of continuity with past scandals that I see here, which is there`s a lot of finger in the wind, generally politicians, as a -- as a species, when one of their own finds themselves in this situation.

But the only reason that this guy who in another case would just be a backbencher no one`s heard of, it`s the fact that he goes on Fox, and the fact that he`s close to the president changes the trajectory of all that. And those are the two biggest power centers in the Republican Party. Otherwise, there`s no reason to care about this dude one way or the other.

CHAVEZ: Yes. And, you know, you mentioned Liz Cheney in your earlier segment and the final brief, she`s been given. Well, Matt Gaetz was the guy who went out to the State of Wyoming and stood on the state capitol and basically said that he would -- was ready to move to Wyoming to challenge Liz Cheney. You know, he is the hero of the Trumpist wing of the party and that`s what`s keeping him, I guess, you know, not just in office but making sure that those who want to criticize and won`t.

And in the big deal is the fact that, you know, this is not just consenting adults doing whatever they do. This involves a 17-year-old girl who may have been brought across state lines, that would be a violation of the Man Act and there was money involved. So, it`s really a serious matter. And we`re making light of it here, but it`s not a matter to make light of. I think it`s serious.

HAYES: No, it`s serious as hell. And I should also say that, like, the feds prosecute this all the time. There`s a lot of people doing bids for this kind of thing. This is not a small matter in the eyes of the law either. Linda Chavez, thank you so much for taking some time away from the sixth level of hell, what apparently where you reside to join us.

CHAVEZ: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, as vaccine demand drops, fewer people are getting a vaccine each day, what happens if we don`t reach "herd immunity?" How do we get back to normal? There`s a way but you got to stick around. That`s just ahead.



ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If we keep getting people vaccinated every day, more and more people get vaccinated, you`re going to see a turning around of that curve, and the cases are going to start coming down.


HAYES: The ultimate goal of this country`s mass vaccination campaign is, as Dr. Anthony Fauci alluded to on this show, to really start actively suppressing the virus, right, driving the cases down. And it has been working. We have not yet seen cases fall off a cliff like they have in Israel, which if you don`t include the occupied territories, the West Bank and Gaza, leads the world in per capita vaccination.

So, we haven`t seen that yet. But we have seen real progress over the past three weeks. The U.S. has gone from a seven day average of more than 71,000 new cases per day, download average of less than 50,000 new cases per day. If we can keep vaccinating that number is almost certainly to go -- keep going down. And as that happens, if and when it happens, that really should change everybody`s risk assessment.

There`s something else that Fauci talked about, right. What`s the ambient level of community transmission? It is part of the reason for the new CDC guidance that fully vaccinated people in most situations do not need to wear a mask outdoors, as well as why New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut announced today that many businesses will be able to fully reopen in mid- May with the New York subway returning to 24-hour service.

If we can mass vaccinate, suppress the virus, the risk really does go down a ton. And as traumatic as last year has been for all of us, we should resist the urge to act as though nothing has changed because the best science is now suggesting things are changing. We can start to reclaim something akin to normalcy.

But some folks remain extremely wary. For example, the upscale progressive leading town of Brookline, Massachusetts, one of the most educated communities in America says it is keeping its own outdoor mask mandate in place even though the CDC says such a mandate is no longer necessary.

Now, about a month ago, or maybe two months ago, I started hearing some people snarkily saying there was some subset of liberals who just want to live in the pandemic forever. And I thought that was ridiculous, and I still mostly do, but there`s a little bit of inertia going on here that we are all going to have to get over.

Now, of course, getting back to normalcy still depends on solving the far bigger problem of getting more people vaccinated. And a great reporter just sat down with about a dozen people who are still saying no to the vaccines to ask them just what`s the deal, what are you thinking? And what they had to say is fascinating. The reporter is here to tell us what they said after the break.



BIDEN: There`s a debate, you know -- and I`ll end with this. There`s a debate on what constitutes herd immunity. Is it at 70 percent of the population, is it 68 percent, is it 81 percent. The point is that by the end of the -- right now, every single person 16 years or older, doesn`t have to wait in line, can show up and get a vaccination now. My plead to everyone, get vaccinated now, please. Thank you.


HAYES: President Biden today in Portsmouth, Virginia responding to a question about the U.S. timetable to achieve herd immunity. In other words, when will the country have enough collective immunity so that we`re all essentially indirectly protected, right, the virus is just squeezed out of the population entirely?

And that is a big question because of today`s New York Times report about how experts now believe that reaching that level of herd immunity in the U.S. is unlikely, which sounds really awful, although the truth is a lot more complicated. Early on, the target herd immunity threshold was estimated to be about 60 to 70 percent of the population. As a result of a dominant new variant, experts now calculate herd immunity threshold to be at least 80 percent.

But here`s the thing. There`s no real magic number here, right? If we continue to vaccinate people, we should continue to push the viral transmission further and further down. Dr. Ashish Jha responded to the Times story on Twitter writing that as we get into summer and fall, no, we may not hit herd immunity, but infection numbers will be low, vaccinated folks will be mainly safe.

We`re clearly seeing a decline in the number of vaccinations as we reach into the tens of millions of Americans were not champing at the bit to get a shot or who are just actively resisting on. They don`t want to get it. To put it another way, our ability collectively to control the virus will depend on them.

In a new piece for the Atlantic, writer Derek Thompson decided to interview about a dozen such people and found the consensus for most of these folks to be, I trust my own cells more than I trust pharmaceutical group. I trust my own mind more than I trust liberal elites.

And joining me now is Derek Thompson, staff writer for The Atlantic and Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, lead epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Derek, let me start with you. I like the peace. I learned a lot from it. What did you learn by talking to people who are vaccine resistant?

DEREK THOMPSON, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Vaccine resistance is so complicated. You know, you`re not talking to a handful of people and they`re all repeating the same catechism.

HAYES: Right.

THOMPSON: There are always sort of different nuances that you get based on different people. They come to this in very different ways. But I think that the big idea here is the summary that you just put up. It`s this two- part summary. Number one, I trust my own immune system more than I trust big pharma. And number two, that they essentially trust that they`re going to be able to get through this without having to take on any pharmaceutical intervention.

I think it`s really important to look at, you know, the risk assessment that people tend to make here because I have taken this virus unbelievably seriously. And so, in a way that I wanted to sort of admit this piece, I am of course, rooting for these vaccines to work.

In a very interesting way, I think a lot of people that I talked to are not necessarily rooting for these vaccines at all because they never took the pandemic particularly seriously.

HAYES: Right.

THOMPSON: They`ve been eating inside in restaurants. They`ve been traveling. They`ve been doing all these things they consider normal, and they`re frankly a little bit offended by the suggestion that they have to accept a pharmaceutical intervention to get back to a normal life that frankly, they never stopped living.

HAYES: Yes, that part of it I think is key because to get back to normal message only works to the degree people suspended normalcy, tens of millions of Americans have not. And Jennifer, then the question becomes on the math side. I know a lot of people -- I got texts from people today when the New York Times push alert happened of like, oh, no, we`re not going to hit herd immunity, this will become endemic, we`re going to constantly have to be dealing with it. What -- I guess the question is, what`s the spectrum look like, you know, past 50 percent to 60 percent or 70 percent, and how much does that matter in a collective sense?

JENNIFER NUZZO, LEAD EPIDEMIOLOGIST, JOHNS HOPKINS CORONAVIRUS RESOURCE CENTER: So, I mean, I think what people are really afraid about when they`re texting you is that we`re never going to go back to normal. And that`s just not true. I mean, we`re already seeing the effects of vaccination. Case numbers are coming way down, which is great. We`re seeing what is possible in Israel with, you know, just over 50 percent of the population vaccinated where, you know, things are easing up.

And I think that`s likely in our future, even though we still have this incredibly important problem of needing to reach people who so far don`t want to get vaccinated. So, I think life is going to return to normal. People who are vaccinated are going to feel the sense of freedom to partake in all sorts of activities much more safely, and the case numbers are going to fall and that is going to continue to protect us.

But what is really the tragedy is that we`ve got all these people who don`t yet understand the value of vaccines and don`t yet see it as being relevant to their lives, and particularly take their points that you know, they trust their immune cells more. The irony is that often what kills people is the overreaction of people`s immune cells. So, it is important that we reach people with these vaccines.

But I think it`s expected this is new, and it`s understandable that people are on the fence about it. We just need to continue to have the tough conversations and not give up on people. I really think we can reach them, particularly as we go into the future months where they see people continuing to get vaccinated and be absolutely fine and be emboldened by their vaccination status.

HAYES: Well, yes, that`s a good point. I think Derek also, there`s different buckets here. So, there are people who I think really don`t like the idea of getting vaccinated, the people you talk to. And then there`s a lot of people who just haven`t gotten around to it yet. I mean, and I will say, like, I don`t want to judge anyone, because I`ve had items on my to do list since like 2015 that I haven`t gotten to.

So, like people -- you know, people are quirky. Like, you`ve got stuff to do, and then you don`t get around to it. There`s all these states now, Derek, that are trying to sort of induce. West Virginia gives young people $100 savings bond. Maryland just announced they`re going to give $100 to state employees. New Jersey will give each person one free beer, which is you know, a lot less money-wise. Connecticut will give each person a free drink. Do you think this kind of stuff helps at the margin?

THOMPSON: At the margin, yes, it actually helps. And by the way, I do kind of love the fact that we`re seeing like laboratories of democracy in terms of vaccine incentivizing. You know, like Oregon can give people like a (INAUDIBLE) and California can give them a cab. Like, I think it`s very creative and funny.

I do think that the reason it works in the margin is because of exactly what you pointed out. This is not a monolith of that no people. There are actually (INAUDIBLE) and there are vax (INAUDIBLE). There are people who are vaccine resistant, and there are people who are vaccine procrastinating.

And so, I think it`s really important to recognize that this is a huge group and we can nibble away at the margins. And one of the best ways to nibble away at the margins is to tweak the cost-benefit analysis. That`s what the Oregon pinot and the California cab and the West Virginia savings bond all does.

It increases the benefit of that cost-benefit analysis so that if you`re a vax (INAUDIBLE) or a vax procrastinator, not a total vax noer, then you`re going to come off the fence, come off the bench and say, all right, if it`s easy to do this, and I`m going to get 100 bucks or like a free, you know, half a bison on the side, yes, I will say yes to the vaccine.

HAYES: Yes. And we`ve also -- we`ve seen this with voting, right? I mean, the more hassle you make it, the fewer people vote and the easier you make it, the more people will vote. Like, it`s a fairly simple logic. There`s also now a new population that`s going to come online, Jennifer, which are -- which are children.

We`ve got this news today, the FDA set to authorize the Pfizer vaccine for those 12 to 15-year-olds by early next week. So, those are people that right now can`t get a vaccine who now will be vaccine eligible. And that`s going to help in terms of what our denominator of the full population that can even get a vaccine is.

NUZZO: Yes. I mean, you`re going to see this expand. There`s going to be more options for people to get vaccinated. So, I think we`re going to continue to make progress. I know parents are probably quite happy to take one COVID worry off their list if they can get their teens vaccinated. I think we`ve got bigger global problems though, where we have global inequities and adults -- high-risk adults dying across the world, but make me a bit uncomfortable that you know we`re in this situation where we`re having to really you know, induce people.

But I think whatever it takes to get people vaccinated is important. I think New Jersey should add pizza to their incentive list with that beer.

HAYES: I agree. And you`re right on -- the on the global inequities which we`ve been covering in this day on. We need to get vaccines both the intellectual property and the actual vaccines out to as many people as possible. Derek Thompson, Jennifer Nuzzo, thanks so much for making time tonight.

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