Rep. Kevin McCarthy names the Republican House members who voted to overturn the election to be the members of the January 6 Committee. Today we saw the very first sentencing for a January 6 rioter who is convicted of a felony. Attorney Merrick Garland avoids cases against the Trump administration. Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) is interviewed on fighting back against anti-voter laws. Three fully vaccinated Texas Democrats who flew to Washington D.C. to break quorum tested positive for COVID-19. Missouri COVID cases spike as health leaders in the state urge vaccination. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is interviewed on President Biden`s infrastructure plan.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: I am -- I am certainly sure of that. Reverend Liz Theoharis, Erin Haynes, thank you both very much.
And by the way, for those of you who are staying up late, I will be a guest tonight on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert which is very cool.
That is all for the REIDOUT tonight. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN. The first felony sentencing for a MAGA foot soldier in the Capitol attack. Tonight, why isn`t the Justice Department prosecuting the leaders who inspired him?
Then, as infrastructure votes begin, why is the White House waiting to act on voting rights. I`ll ask Congressman James Clyburn.
Plus, the Texas lawmaker who fled his state to stop voter suppression test positive for COVID in D.C. Trey Martinez Fisher joins me live from quarantine.
And my exclusive interview with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on America`s sluggish response to climate change and how to turn it around when ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. We just got the names of the people that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appointed to investigate the January 6 insurrection. Three of the five members that he chose voted to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania and Arizona, including Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, who according to a new book by Washington Post reporters, Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, was called out by a potential committee colleague, Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, as the guy who did this, the guy responsible for the January 6 attacks on the Capitol. And now that guy is going to possibly sit on the committee to investigate what happened.
These are reportedly the five the McCarthy`s chosen. There are a couple things we do not know. When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi first announced this Select Committee, one of the things she said was that she would have veto power over the appointments. So, right now it`s unclear whether or not she will give these members the OK.
I mean, people who actively voted against democracy on the day of the Capitol riot is something to watch. We will talk more about that with Congressman James Clyburn in just a little bit later in the show. But generally, if you feel a sense of deja vu as you survey the landscape of American democracy and politics in this fraught moment, you`re not alone. I feel it too. We have very much been here before.
There are so many ways in which the first year the Biden administration harkens back to the first year of the Obama administration. And that`s despite the fact that we generally see George W. Bush and Donald Trump as kind of opposite ends of the spectrum of modern Republican politics. But both Biden and Obama came to office after Republican administrations desecrated the rule of law, oppose all efforts to prepare the country for the looming and growing crisis of climate change, and then to boot, left the country mired in historic crises, huge crushing problems that had to be solved immediately.
That is what Barack Obama inherited on January 20, 2009. That is what Joe Biden inherited on January 20, 2021. And because of the similarities between these two, there`s really a lot to learn. I mean, there are -- there are lessons about how to pass a democratic agenda. There are lessons about obstruction and Senator Mitch McConnell`s true nature whether you can trust him. There are lessons about the importance of tangibly improving people`s lives as fast as possible.
But one of the biggest lessons to my mind, one that occupies us on this day is about accountability, the rule of law, and what happens to people who transgress. So, today we saw the very first sentencing for a January 6 rioter who is convicted of a felony. This is a first. His name is Paul Hodgkins, 38-year-old out of Tampa, Florida, who pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding when he entered the Capitol Building carrying a Trump 2020 flag.
He made his way in the Senate chamber and he took selfies there. He received eight months in prison significantly less than the 18 months prosecutors asked for. I want to talk a little bit more about that sentence of what it means. But overall, when you step back, the FBI and Department of Justice, I think, they`ve done a pretty admirable job with this massive investigation in the wake of the insurrection.
I remember on January 6, as we`re all watching live, right, as the people who stormed the Capitol just escaped, they all got away, thinking well, it`s maybe a little hard to find them. But the FBI and DOJ done a very good job of tracking these people down and then building cases and then bringing charges against them. There are more than 500 people who have now been arrested.
But in some ways, bringing accountability to those people, people like Paul Hodgkins, is the easier thing for our justice system to do. The much harder thing is dealing with the powerful people at the top. Today, we also learn the Department of Justice will not prosecute Donald Trump`s former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for lying to Congress.
You may remember this episode. We covered it a bunch. It was -- it was so sort of egregious even at the time. But Ross testified in Congress that he decided to add a question about the citizenship status of folks to the census after the Department of Justice said that data was needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act, federal voting laws. Please, Wilbur Ross, you got to add this to the census.
The truth was essentially the opposite. Ross admitted he started thinking about the issue and then reached out to the DOJ to suggest they request adding the question. Could you send me a request to add the question because I want to add the question. Anyway, the effort was unsuccessful. Luckily, the Supreme Court ruled in 2019 they could not include the citizenship question on the census. Mostly they ruled because the whole thing was so shoddy and obviously manifestly manipulated and deceitful. But it was a pretty blatant attempt to intimidate immigrants and by committing immigrants, reduced their representation in the Senate -- in the census.
OK, now, Wilbur Ross, you remember him, 83-year-old multimillionaire, most notable for falling asleep in meetings and wearing $600 slippers, the Wilbur Rosses of the world, well, they often escape accountability. Again, we`ve been here before. Before Barack Obama became president, he said he would hold people to account for the war crimes the United States authorized and then committed during the Bush administration. And I do not use that term lightly.
There were orders to allow torture like waterboarding and other things that were clearly in violation of both the Geneva Convention and domestic law. Barack Obama was clear-eyed about that, about that transgression, but also about the political reality of potentially prosecuting former officials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Were still evaluating how we are going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions, and so forth. And obviously, we`re going to be looking at past practices. And I don`t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Forward, not backward, that would be an important slogan at that time. Now, war crimes had been prosecuted in the wake of the abuse that say, Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the most probably more notorious and recorded documented war crime in the Bush years. 11 U.S. soldiers were convicted of crimes related to the abuse captured in those infamous photos.
Former Army Reserve soldier Lynndie England was sentenced to three years in prison for her role. But remember, nothing ever happened to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who authorized the use of the interrogation techniques that multiple reports found led to Abu Ghraib. And that was the pattern.
And the question at the beginning of the Obama administration was, was that power pattern going to change? The answer is it did not. I think the reason is that the compounding crises and the fixed amount of political capital is the perception there of. The Obama administration essentially decided not to prosecute the engineers of the torture regime.
At the time, I thought they should have. In hindsight, I think they still should have. But I want to give them their due, you can simplify how easy a call these things are. I mean, there`s a reason that people are hesitant to prosecute members of the government particularly if we`re talking about prosecuting political officials of the other party once you take power.
There are political reasons for that, the blowback, right, and rule of law reason for that. You definitely do not want to end up in a lock her up cycle in which each successive administration jails members of the previous one in a never-ending tit for tat, which is a thing that happens in many countries.
But, but, but when the law is violated in egregious ways to torture people, when it`s violated by the people entrusted with the power to uphold and enforce a law, there must be accountability for that. And there was essentially none in the Bush administration.
John Hughes, the guy who wrote the torture memo is a tenured faculty of Berkeley, just chilling, goes on cable news, teaches. Hey. And there`s a direct line between lack of accountability and the world that we find ourselves in now. I mean, yes, Donald Trump was impeached twice, and yet he sits at Mar-a-Lago giving interviews where he sounds like a person entirely and completely fixated on up-ending American democracy having tried and failed once already.
Like he`s focused. He knows what he wants to do again. They tested out all the weak parts in the fence. They`re going to come for the fence again. Yes, he is still being investigated by the Manhattan District Attorney, but the dude tried to foment a coup six months ago. I don`t know what to tell you. That`s what`s waiting in the wings. That`s what`s being hatched, it`s being plotted obviously in front of our faces. Listen to what the man says.
And as Donald Ayer, Danielle Brian, and Norman Eisen write in the New York Times, those are the top who encouraged and incited the insurrection of January 6 should face accountability the same way that more than 500 rioters have and will. And yet, here we are again, they remain untouched.
Donald Ayer is one of the authors of that piece. He`s a former Deputy Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush. And Elizabeth Holtzman is a former Democratic Congresswoman from New York who served on the House Judiciary Committee which voted to impeach President Richard Nixon. She`s author of Cheating Justice: How Bush and Cheney Attack the Rule of Law and Plotted to Avoid Prosecution and What We Can Do About It.
Donald, let me just start with you. And maybe you can just give your argument as you wrote in The Times about why you think prosecutions at the top. Who that means and the means by which it should be done and why it`s important to do it?
DONALD AYER, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, what we actually wrote about wasn`t prosecutions. What we wrote about was essentially this process whereby when a member of the government, an employee gets sued, the attorney general or his delegate, I mean, the Department of Justice is required to certify whether the conduct was engaged in within the scope of his employment.
And this all comes up in the context of Mo Brooks, Congressman Mo Brooks from Texas` behavior on January 6 where he advocated that people kick ass and said a whole lot more things stirring up that crowd that went up and did what it did. And he`s now been sued by Congressman Swalwell, along with a number of other people. And he is asked, the Attorney General, to certify that he was acting within the scope of his employment, so that he, in fact, as a congressman who stirred up the trouble on January 6 ought to be defended by the United States, in fact, defended in the sense that they step in and substitute them themselves, the United States government, as the defendant in the case, and he is immunized by that process.
The article we wrote, essentially says, clearly, Attorney General Garland should not certify, indeed he should conclude that Brooks was not within the scope of his employment. And if you think through the consequences of what would happen if he did so certify, Brooks would be off scot-free and essentially you`d have opened the door for Trump and others to make the same claim that things they did were also within the scope of employment.
So, we`re pretty optimistic that Garland will do the right thing. But we felt that it was important to make this point in this article.
HAYES: Yes. And just to clarify my position before, which I apologize for that, you know, there`s a variety of ways accountability can be had here. There`s a civil suit right now against Mo Brooks. You`re arguing against the government certifying essentially his incitement as part of the normal course of business or underneath his official duties, to give him a kind of protection, have the government defend him, that that would be the Department of Justice sort of going out of its way to shield him.
There`s other questions about whether the Department of Justice should be more aggressive in actually wielding whether prosecutorial powers or others, Liz, on something like the Wilbur Ross case. Which again, like I get, how thorny that is. I get that prosecutions for, you know, misleading or perjury of Congress are not that common. Roger Stone, obviously was convicted of that. So, I understand the hesitancy there. But at the same time, it does look like impunity for people at the top a little bit. What do you think?
LIZ HOLTZMAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSWOMAN, NEW YORK: Absolutely. I mean, it`s not so hard. Just stop and think about Attorney General in the United States Richard Kleindienst. He was prosecuted and pleaded guilty for misleading Congress, actually lying to Congress, and he was convicted, that he served a -- he had a suspended sentence. But there was accountability. There was no question that he wasn`t going to be dealt with because the evidence was very clear about that.
In the Nixon administration, in Watergate, what you had was accountability. Yes, Nixon ultimately was pardon but he was indicted, an unindicted coconspirator. He -- the top members of his administration, Attorney General John Mitchell, went to prison. His top aides, Haldeman and Ehrlichman went to prison, substantial prison sentences.
We`ve had accountability for top people in office. What`s happened to us? I was a prosecutor in Brooklyn. If I ever said I`m going to look forward, not backwards when people committed murder, or rape, or robbery, or burglary, I would have been out on my ear in two seconds. Because if you don`t hold people accountable for the crimes, then you trivialize the crimes and you also, when it comes to high official, set and double standard, why officials can escape and others don`t?
AYER: I am all for accountability but I think --
HAYES: Yes, I mean, as a --
AYER: I agree with the idea of accountability but I think it`s a little bit simple-minded to equate the situation after Watergate with what the Attorney General now has to deal with in the Trump administration. What happened after Watergate was a Republican administration cleaning up its own mess.
We have the worst president in the history of the country who was probably also the most corrupt who left the country in a complete mess. And the Justice Department is working overtime to deal with a lot of the things that have been done. You know, the domestic terrorism issues, prosecuting the people involved in January 6, cybercrime, all sorts of things they`re doing. And there`s really a question of how much energy it is appropriate for this Justice Department now to be putting into prosecutions that are going to be viewed by 20 percent or 30 percent of our population as political in nature, even though they`re not, even though I think they would be totally justified. These are hard calls.
And I think you need to recognize that Merrick Garland and the department only have so many bullets. And so, the idea that they`re making hard judgments, which again, I think they`re difficult, and I think maybe sometimes they`re not going far enough, but it`s not an easy thing to just say, oh, go prosecute everybody. There`ll be a price to pay.
HOLTZMAN: I`m not -- I`m not saying they shouldn`t go prosecute everybody. I`m just saying that we have set a standard. And it wasn`t a Republican administration that cleaned up itself, it was a special prosecutor, the special prosecutor`s office that prosecuted these people.
HAYES: Right. Well --
HOLTZMAN: I think that -- I`m just saying that when you have a high-level official who appears to have -- there was sufficient evidence to require the -- to allow the Inspector General to forward that document to the Congress -- I mean, to the -- I`m sorry, to the Justice Department and say that they have to consider prosecution. When you don`t go forward in that case, you better have a pretty good explanation, because otherwise it does suggest favoritism.
And what does it say to the other 80 percent of Americans who are concerned about seeing that justice is done to people commit crimes in high places?
AYER: I agree.
HAYES: Yes. And I think that both of these -- yes, both of these -- I mean, I think the reality is the gravity that pulls on all this as a political capital that Donald spoke to. And that`s unfortunate from a justice perspective I think has been very warping in the past. And we`ll see if that continues to be the case. Donald Ayer and Elizabeth Holtzman, thank you both. That was great.
Don`t go anywhere. My interview with Congressman James Clyburn, third highest-ranking Democrat in the House, about the members of the sedition caucus being appointed to the January 6 committee and whether the White House is doing enough in the fight for voting rights. Congressman Clyburn joins me next.
HAYES: When you talk to just about any politician or political candidate, and they talk about the issues they`re passionate about and things they want to see done, it can seem like every issue they talk about as a priority. But the flip side of that means that nothing is priority if everything`s a priority. At the end of the day, politicians, particularly those in power, have to make choices. What do you do first? What do you Marshal political capital for? What`s the sequencing?
In the case of the Biden administration, it`s pretty clear at this point that infrastructure, the total package, both economy and more traditional infrastructure, that that`s the priority. They are actively negotiating two separate pieces of legislation around those priorities, the one the bipartisan deal they struck, one which is going to go through reconciliation, and they want them done now. They`ve got, you know, a full- court press.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pushing for procedural votes on both of those tracks this week. It now appears that might be delayed, although that`s been back and forth. But since infrastructure is happening now and all the energy and the focus and political capital is being spent on it, other legislation like for instance, voting rights protection, electoral reform, just is naturally moved further down the line, both in a time sense and a priority sense.
And that being said, Senate Democrats on the Rules Committee held a field hearing on voting rights in Atlanta, Georgia today. It`s the first field hearing in 20 years, and it focused specifically on Georgia`s absurdly restrictive new voting law.
Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina is a ranking -- number three ranking Democrat in the House. He of course endorse Joe Biden when it seemed like Biden`s presidential campaign might be flagging. That endorsement helped him win South Carolina, essentially, the nomination after that. He`s advocated the president and Senate Democrats work behind the scenes to carve out an exception to the filibuster to pass voting rights protections. And Congressman James Cliburn joins me now.
First, I wonder if you agree with my read of the prioritization right now of the legislative agenda of this Democratic administration right now.
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, I think you`ve got to right with chronology. I`m not sure that you hit it right on the subject matter. To me, voting is the top priority whenever we`re talking about politics. Now, that didn`t mean that on the calendar, it will be voted on first. And that`s certainly not the case here.
But voting remains a top priority with us. All the other things are secondary if we can`t get people to the polls.
HAYES: Yes, that -- I mean, part of this has to always comes back to the math in the Senate and reconciliation. I think you`ve been very, I think, astute and compelling on the idea that there are already carve-outs for different things that don`t -- can`t be filibustered, that this should be in that category. I just wonder if you feel like you`ve had more conversations or made any progress with that argument to the -- to the people that will need to agree with you to get to a resolution?
CLYBURN: Well, I think I`ve made progress with a lot of people. I`m not so sure how much progress I`ve made the two people particularly and that`s the two senators who seem to be wedded to the filibuster no matter what. I`m still working with them. And I think I am making progress. We`ll see when the time comes.
HAYES: There was an announcement -- big announcement the house today which is the Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announcing the five members that will serve on that January 6 Select Committee. It`s notable that three of those members including, you know, Jim Jordan, quite notoriously, that Jim Jordan voted along with three of those members -- to other members voted against Joe Biden being -- electors being seated, voted essentially to overturn the election in line with what Donald Trump wanted and what the mob wanted. I wonder if you think that vote should be disqualifying to sit on that committee.
CLYBURN: Well, personally, I would think so. But politically, I can understand what Kevin McCarthy is doing. I do not agree with it. I think we ought to be serious about this. And I`m not too sure how serious some of those people are about where we are in this country and what we need to do to preserve this democracy for our children and grandchildren.
It wouldn`t be a shame for us to inherit such good, long work that`s gone into building this country into what it is today, to allow ourselves to seat into an autocracy, which is what some people see in the wall. That`s not what this country is all of that. And I don`t think that we can be serious about preserving it if you don`t put people on these committees who are serious about finding out what really happened, why it happened, and what we should do about it.
HAYES: Over the weekend, we observe the anniversary of the passing of John Lewis, of course, your colleague and friend for many years, civil rights icon, who you know, was at the forefront of the passage of the Voting Rights Act that finally turned America into a true functioning multiracial democracy, really, for the first time in history. How do you think about his legacy at this very perilous and fraught moment as we`re fighting over whether we`re going to remain a multiracial democracy?
CLYBURN: Well, thank you so much for mentioning that. John Lewis and I first met in October 1960. We became best friends. We had no idea back then that we would end up serving in Congress together. But throughout those years, on voter education, John Lewis ran the Voter Education Project for this entire southern region when I was doing the same thing down in Charleston. So, voting is very, very important to us.
Now, I`ve never made the kind of sacrifices that John made. I practiced non-violence, John internalized nonviolence, and he became the real icon of this movement. And that`s why upon his death, I read the record to the floor and asked for unanimous consent to rename H.R.4 the John R. Lewis Voter Education Act. And we did it.
It wouldn`t be a shame for us to honor him with a ship as we just did over the weekend, to honor him with a likeness that the state of Georgia is going to send up here to the Capitol. All of that, and all the time who has ever really wanted out of life was for people who look like him to have unfettered access to what makes this country what it is.
And it would be a shame for us to go through all of these massive nations and not pass the John R. Lewis Voter Registration and Education Act -- Advancement Act. That`s what we need to be doing. That`s what John Lewis would want more than anything else. Now, I would hope that with everything else, we would do that.
But, see, I do remember that six months after that march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which was back in March 1965, the following August, August 6, Lyndon Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act. And those kind of interests me. Less than a year later, he was unceremoniously ousted out of Smith. And so, these kinds of things I`m used to, but I would hope to be a better body than that in the Congres.
HAYES: I want to thank you for coming on tonight, Congressman. I want to sort of put a pin in and say that the next time you come, on I would love to hear more at extended length about that -- what that 1960 meeting of young James Clapper and young John Lewis was like. So, I`m going to have you back so we could talk about that. Congressman James Clyburn, thank you very much.
CLYBURN: I look forward to it. Thank you.
HAYES: Next, my interview with one of the Texas Democrats who fled the state and just tested positive for the coronavirus after getting vaccinated. What to make of breakthrough case after this.
HAYES: Over the last few weeks, we`ve talked at length about how Texas Republicans have tried to force through some of the most restrictive voting legislation in the country with Texas Governor Greg Abbott calling a special legislative session leading Democrats in the state legislature to flee the state to break quorum, which is a kind of break glass way of stopping a bill to stop the vote.
And more 50 of those Democrats traveled to Washington D.C. where they met with Vice President Kamala Harris as well as Senate Democrats to advocate for stronger federal voting protections. And this weekend, a twist. Three fully vaccinated Texas Democrats tested positive for COVID-19. That numbers now up to six, again, all fully vaccinated.
Here`s the thing. The vaccine has proven both in clinical trials in the real world unbelievably effective both at stopping transmission of the virus and also hospitalization and death, but not perfect. And as community transmission rises, more and more virus around there, and you massively expand the number of exposures with a new more contagious variant and a pool of people who are not vaccinated. You will just as a matter of math, expand the number of fully vaccinated people who end up catching the virus.
Texas State Representative Trey Martinez Fisher is one of those Texas Democrats who traveled to Washington where he then tested positive for COVID. And he joins me now. Thanks for joining us, Representative. First, how are you feeling?
TREY MARTINEZ FISCHER, DEMOCRATIC STATE REPRESENTATIVE, TEXAS: You know, Chris, thank you for asking. I`m feeling OK. I have a, you know, mild grade fever. But I`m in good spirits. And I think I`m recovering pretty well.
HAYES: What was your reaction when you got that positive test?
FISCHER: You know, I`ll tell you what, it really freaked me out. I woke up on a Sunday morning. It was a typical Sunday morning, I had my coffee, I read my news, I spent some time on the yoga mat. And I was getting ready for a staff meeting. And as a practice, we do take a rapid test before we get in the room together. And mine came out positive.
I couldn`t believe it. It`s never happened to me before. I waited 15 minutes, did it again. I felt like 1000 bucks. I mean, I had no idea. Had I not had that meeting that morning, I probably could have gone the entire day before testing in the afternoon and would not have known that I was positive for COVID.
HAYES: Did you start to have symptoms then soon after?
FISCHER: You know, a little bit of a sore throat. I think the really the worst of it is I had some fever, but a couple of Tylenol every six, seven hours, that seems to take care of that. And you know, I`m on the mend. I worked all day Sunday, I worked all day today. I`m now virtual, but my work hasn`t finished. It still continues. And I think I`m going to come out of this OK.
And I`m grateful. I`m grateful that I was vaccinated. I`m grateful that I would never want to have COVID. But if I`m going to get it, this is the way I want to get it.
HAYES: Yes. I mean, you see some people -- there are folks I think who are confused about this, and then there are folks, I think, who are either, you know, sort of aggressively stupid or aggressively liars, attempting to say that, oh, if there`s a breakthrough case of COVID in a vaccinated person, well, then what good is the vaccine?
As someone who got vaccinated and then got a breakthrough case, like, what do you -- what do you tell people who are maybe hesitant about vaccines or worried about the efficacy or about how you feel about the decision you made?
FISCHER: Well, I would tell them, talk to somebody who had COVID that was not vaccinated, and then talk to somebody like me. If there was no such thing as a rapid test, I would think that I have some allergies or maybe a slight cold, because that`s exactly what it feels like.
I talked to one of my House colleagues this morning who spent a number of days in the hospital and said it was the worst illness of his life. He would never want to do it again. I wouldn`t want to relive that experience. And I`m thankful that we had -- that I had this vaccine. You know, that variant is obviously no joke. So, for everybody in America that`s on the fence. I wouldn`t -- I would get off that fence and get vaccinated. And for those naysayers, you know, I don`t know what to tell you. But being in an ICU -- being in an ICU, being on a ventilator, if that`s not going to change your mind, I don`t think anything I can say will change your mind either.
HAYES: All right, Texas State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer there with those Democrats breaking quorum. They`re in the indefinite future. I hope you feel better. Thanks for making time tonight.
FISCHER: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: There is a lot more to the story of those Texas Democrats. Tune in later tonight for an MSNBC special event. Lawrence O`Donnell and Jonathan Capehart will be joined by many more Texas Democrats to talk about the fight for voting rights in their home state and in our nation`s capitol. We`ve got an incredible hour plan. Watch it all tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
And next looking for the helpers in places where COVID is striking hardest. The front page plea to get vaccinated as Missouri battles one of the worst Coronavirus outbreaks in the country. That`s right after this break.
HAYES: The Springfield News-Leader is the biggest newspaper covering Springfield Missouri. It`s been around since the mid-1800s. Yesterday, the paper did something that caught my eye. At a time when nearly all the surgeon COVID cases in the country stems from those who are unvaccinated, the Springfield newsletter published this front-page story the big above the fold quote from the city`s health director, please get vaccinated.
The piece also included a push from various community leaders including Republican Senator Roy Blunt who said "Vaccines are key to finishing the fight against COVID and saving lives. I`ve been vaccinated and I encourage everyone to get vaccinated as well."
Despite the wide availability of vaccines, Missouri right now, particularly parts of southwestern Missouri, have seen a significant increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations over the last several weeks. Just 40 percent of the state`s fully vaccinated, the number is about the same for Greene County where Springfield is located.
There`s a door to door efforts in parts of the state to encourage vaccinations, but in some places because of vaccine hostility, it`s not even an option. In low vaccinated Shannon County, 135 miles east of Springfield, anti-vaccine sentiment is so high, a clinic has offered private rooms for patients who don`t want to be seen getting a shot.
Amos Bridges is the editor in chief of the Springfield News-Leader. He`s responsible for that front page we showed you at the top of the segment. And he joins me now. Great -- thanks for having you on tonight, Mr. Bridges. Can you just first of all just tell us about your town and what it`s going through right now, what things look like in terms of the virus right there?
AMOS BRIDGES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, SPRINGFIELD NEWS-LEADER: Well, I think what we have been seeing is the Delta variant kind of colliding with our relatively low vaccination rates. And so, we`re seeing you know, hospital census climbing. The health officials here have been raising the alarm in an increasingly serious way for the past couple of weeks as, you know, really capacities getting maxed out. They`ve had to call in additional nurses, arrange for additional equipment, and you know, stressing that there is a straightforward way to address the situation which is to get more people vaccinated.
HAYES: So, how did this -- how did this issue come together? Where did the idea come from?
BRIDGES: I had the idea as I was leaving work one night and kind of looking at our weekend budgets and the stories that we had planned, and it felt like we were coming up on another one of those inflection points, kind of like that second week of March where all of a sudden, we were making plans to work remotely March of 2020 when we all went to remote work. And so, I actually kind of ruined date night with my wife working through the idea for that front page and having her help me brainstorm people that we might try to get for that page.
It`s when we`ve been noticing is that the -- you know, the public health leaders who were kind of banging the drum weren`t necessarily getting through to some of the people who were either outright opposed, or just hesitant, you know, maybe reluctant about getting the vaccine for one reason or another.
But we knew that there was increasingly, you know, a fairly broad spectrum of folks who were encouraging vaccination. And so I had the idea of, you know, let`s get as many of those folks that we-- as we can, who are encouraging vaccination for a number of reasons. And, you know, so show -- you know, show folks who maybe are on the fence that there are a lot of people, maybe some people who they identify with who are encouraging vaccination.
And, you know, maybe people will see somebody that they can -- you know, that they trust that they identify with, and that might make it a little bit of a difference.
HAYES: Do you -- you know, this is a hard thing to assess, but from -- you know, you`re embedded in that community and you report on it there. I mean, do you think that there -- that as this variant spreads, that people maybe start to think differently about vaccination and, you know, protecting themselves?
BRIDGES: I do. We`ve already seen that. The health department -- the health director, actually, the other day tweeted that, you know, while we have cases rising week, they also have their best week for vaccinations that they had since May just last week. So, there`s some indication that folks are changing their minds.
And it seems to be really a case of, you know, finding that one way that it touches home for somebody, you know, maybe somebody that they know talks to them about getting vaccinated or someone they know ends up in the hospital, which would, you know, be the kind of the worst-case scenario. But we`re really seeing that folks have a wide range of reasons for being reluctant. And so, we`re trying to reach them through a variety of ways.
HAYES: Amos Bridges, thanks for your work, and thanks for making time tonight. I appreciate it.
BRIDGES: Thank you.
HAYES: Ahead, with the climate crisis on our doorstep, I`ll talk with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm about how fast and how far the White House is ready to go to take action. Secretary Granholm joins me next.
HAYES: One of the most maddening aspects of America`s very sluggish and wholly inadequate response to climate change in the energy transition is that there is a whole lot of low-hanging fruit we still have not picked. Here`s just one example. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 100 years of drilling for fossil fuels have left three million abandoned oil and gas wells across the U.S. and more than two million of them are just unplugged.
And plugging or capping those wells means they would no longer emit greenhouse gases which would cut emissions significantly. In fact, back in April, NBC`s Josh Letterman went to Montana to report on these unplugged oil wells.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, you can smell that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes,
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can definitely smell that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And with infrared cameras, you can see it, dangerous gases spewing from abandoned oil and gas wells.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, that`s methane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s methane gas, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you`ve got gas 30 times more powerful than carbon dioxide and trapping heat in the atmosphere, and it`s just coming out as well, and you would have no idea that it`s even there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you can`t. You can`t see with the naked eye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Again, these wells are just open, spewing this invisibly all the time not to produce actual fuel just for no reason. Capping these wells is just one part of the Biden infrastructure proposal that`s currently making its way through Congress. One of the biggest advocates for that legislation, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm who joins me now.
I didn`t actually know a lot about this provision until I sort of started to do a deep dive. It does really seem like a no-brainer.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, U.S. SECRETARY OF ENERGY: Total no brainer. In fact, the President in his original proposal had put $16 billion in to be able to do this. Democrats like it. Republicans like it. It`s got bipartisan support. Why it hasn`t been done earlier, I don`t know. We really need to take care of this because that greenhouse gas that they`re referring to is methane, hugely powerful in causing climate change.
HAYES: Yes. One of the things I think that`s appealing about this, and my understanding is that $16 billion proposal is actually in the bipartisan part of the -- of the bills that are now working their way through, is that it would employ folks that work on oil rigs, pipefitters, the kind of people that normally do drilling would give them jobs in the industry they`re trained for that would essentially do the opposite of drilling.
GRANHOLM: Exactly. And I mean, I would -- you`d add on to that abandoned mines, same thing. You could put mine workers to work, getting paid, good union wages, to be able to cap the mines that they know very well, similarly on the oil and gas side. So, yes, it really is huge -- it`s a small number inside of the bipartisan framework, but it had it will have an outsized impact in terms of climate change.
HAYES: Just to zoom out for a second. We`ve been talking about this bill and the sort of climate aspects of it for weeks. And it seems there`s sort of two questions, right, which is how much can we deploy the current technology we have which is really a money question. And then, when do we hit the frontier of what we can do with the technology we have, which is an innovation question.
I wonder how you think about those, particularly the role of the Department of Energy which has a huge research aspect to it?
GRANHOLM: Yes, I mean, the Department of Energy is really the solutions department. We have 17 national labs that are really breaking ground on all sorts of clean energy research. So, for example, Chris, in the past couple of weeks, we`ve announced to what we call Earth shots, which are big, hairy, audacious goals, to cut the cost of hydrogen, to cut the cost -- that`s clean hydrogen -- to cut the cost of storage, energy storage, batteries for utilities. We have a goal of cutting the cost of solar in half yet again. And solar is the cheapest form of energy on the planet.
So, that`s on the technology side. And then of course, you have to deploy all of these technologies. And the DOE has got funds to be able to do that in our loan programs office. So, we are pressing the envelope on both ends, employ -- deployment as well as technology.
HAYES: It`s interesting, you raise the storage, because in my mind reading the situation, that does seem to be -- you know, there`s a lot of places where we do have deployable tech right now that`s underutilized. But as we deploy that more and more, the storage is solving the storage question, right, particularly around solar which obviously is there during the day and not during the night. Like, solving that at scale does seem like one of the biggest challenges in the space right now.
GRANHOLM: Cracking the code on how you can create clean dispatchable power is really the endgame. Every country is looking for this. And certainly, if we can crack the code, because solar is so cheap, and the next cheapest form of energy is wind, those are both so cheap, but they don`t -- you know, they don`t come exactly when you need them. So, if you can store that energy, and then dispatch it when you need it, it would solve an enormous amount of problems.
So, our goal was to cut the cost of that big storage by 90 percent. And honestly, we are -- we can see this happening even as we speak because the cost of storage already has dropped significantly.
HAYES: How -- I mean, when you think about scale here, what kind of dollars are we talking about? I mean, maybe you can talk about the sort of Earth shot that you announced here. But you know, at some level, when you think about this stuff, it`s expensive. All of it is expensive. We`re talking tens, hundreds of billions of dollars. But when you think about it in the - - in the context of the cost of climate disaster, or climate mitigation, or even what we spend on defense, it doesn`t seem -- it doesn`t seem like out of the realm of possibility.
GRANHOLM: The average amount that we have spent over the past five years to clean up after these climate disasters is $125 billion every year. So, you just -- and that keeps going up. I mean, in the 80s, it was like $17 billion. So, we are seeing this exponential increase not just in climate disasters, of course, but then the cost for cleanup. And so, we can do nothing and sit back and continue to watch that happen. But then we will continue to spend way more than what we`re talking about in this infrastructure package or in the reconciliation package.
We`ve got to address climate change. Not only is the west on fire, our hair should be on fire about this. We have 881 days left in this term of this President`s administration. We feel a huge sense of urgency. When I say 881 days, I`m excluding weekends, working days, that we can solve, at least take a huge chunk, put us on the path to get to the President`s goal -- President`s goal of getting 100 percent of our energy from clean sources by 2035.
HAYES: Final question for you is just a kind of legislative tactical, which is how much these conversations -- I mean, it does seem it`s an all hands on deck push from the Biden administration right now on both these, a bipartisan package and the reconciliation package moving them together. The timing on this vote for the bipartisan package is a little up in the air right now. But are you in regular contact? Is the cabinet -- is everyone the administration talking to folks on the hill trying to keep moving this?
GRANHOLM: Oh, yes. It is and all effort. You know, cabinet members are talking to their committee chairs. Everybody is talking to the to the people that they know, but also the ones that they want to persuade. Everybody has something, a different perspective to bring on it. So, you better believe we are in touch with people all the time, the White House and the cabinet, and we are going to bring this across the finish line one way or another.
HAYES: Yes, that -- I mean, it`s funny. When legislation -- there`s a point in following these legislation fights where you feel that the decision has been made by one group of people that it is going to pass and that everything kind of revolves backwards around that. And I feel like I`m starting I see that congeal. That doesn`t -- that does not mean that it will but I can feel the kind of will intensifying just in terms of the folks that I`m talking to as well.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, thank you so much for making time tonight.
GRANHOLM: You bet, Chris. Thanks for having me on.
HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Monday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.