Earlier today, the New York Times reported that not only did Donald Trump press the Justice Department to say the results of the 2020 presidential election were corrupt, but there are contemporaneous notes the prove it. The Justice Department today said the IRS must give Congress his 2015 through 2020 tax returns. The CDC released new data about the highly contagious Delta variant.
ALICIA MENENDEZ, MSNBC HOST: "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We fight like hell. And if you don`t fight like hell, you`re not going to have a country anymore.
HAYES: Donald Trump told his DOJ to "just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me."
NEAL KATYAL, FORMER PRINCIPAL DEPUTY SOLICITOR GENERAL, UNITED STATES: This was an attempted coup, an attempt to steal an election.
HAYES: Tonight, shocking new details of Trump`s push to overturn his election laws and what we know about the people helping him.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I spoke with him that day after -- think after. I don`t know if I spoke with him in the morning or not. I just don`t know.
HAYES: Then, why the Justice Department is suddenly saying Donald Trump`s tax returns must be handed over to Congress.
Plus, the alarming new CDC data driving the latest mask guidance and the absurd backlash it`s inspired.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How dare anyone in this institution attempt to dictate to the patriots of my staff how they may live their lives.
HAYES: And the new NBC reporting on whistleblowers who say they were told to downplay a COVID outbreak among migrant kids at a shelter when ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. It was a failed coup. Let`s call it what it was. In the immediate aftermath of the January 6 attack, and the early revelations of Donald Trump`s attempts both publicly and in private to overturn a democratic election, there was a kind of back and forth among scholars about whether coup was the appropriate term. But as we learn more, it really does feel like that`s the best way to describe what we are talking about here. And today, we got new evidence that supports precisely that.
Earlier today, the New York Times first reported that not only did Donald Trump press the Justice Department to say the results of the 2020 presidential election were corrupt, but there are contemporaneous notes the prove it. "The exchange unfolded during a phone call on December 27, less than two weeks before the attack on the Capitol," in which Mr. Trump pressed the acting Attorney General at the time, Jeffrey Rosen, and his deputy, Richard Donahue, on voter fraud claims the department had disproved.
Now, the thing is, Donohue, the Deputy Attorney General was taking notes. And the Department of Justice turned those notes over to the House Oversight Committee. And today, they publicly released some of them. Now, just a heads up because they are handwritten, they`re a little difficult to read. According to the Deputy Attorney General`s notes, Donahue responded to Trump saying, "I understand that the DOJ can`t and won`t snap its fingers and change the outcome of the election. It doesn`t work that way. To which Trump replied, I don`t expect you to do that. Just say the election was corrupt, and leave the rest to me and Republican congressmen.
Just say it was corrupt. The President is asking the Department of Justice to help him overturn the election and stay in power. Remember that the Deputy Attorney General is writing this down because in that moment, one imagines, he realizes the sheer transgressive gravity of what`s happening. Somewhat reminiscent of former FBI Director James Comey`s contemporaneous notes of his interactions with Trump.
Holy crap this guy is whoa, I should put it in writing what the President is asking us to do for posterity. We`re learning about this now because the House Oversight Committee got access to these notes. But in May, Trump`s acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who was on that call, was specifically asked about this under oath, and he dodged the question.
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REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): Prior to January 6, were you asked or instructed by President Trump to take any action at the department to advance election fraud claims or to seek to overturn any part of the 2020 election results?
JEFFREY ROSEN, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: Well, Congressman, as I just alluded to in your prior question, I can tell you what the actions of the Department --
CONNOLLY: No, sir. No, sir. Mr. Rosen, Mr. Rosen --
ROSEN: I cannot tell you consistent with my obligations today about private conversations with the president one way or the other.
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HAYES: Keep in mind that as Trump was trying to get the Department of Justice to help overturn the election, that was of course not the sum total of the plotting. Trump and his allies made multiple calls the election officials in Maricopa County, Arizona pressuring them, including one official who said he let the calls go to voicemail and did not return them.
Trump called an official on the Wayne County Michigan Board of canvassers after she voted against certifying the county`s election results. There was an invitation to Republican leaders of the Michigan State Legislature. They flew to D.C. to meet with Trump at the White House. There was the recording of course of Trump`s call to Georgia Republican Secretary of State. He actually made more than one. Who Trump told, "I just want to find 11,780 votes."
And when none of that work, then of course, there was the January 6 plot to overturn the election in Congress, to assemble a crowd, send them towards the Capitol to pressure Congress and his own vice president. And we`re learning more about that as well. Republican Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama is now facing a lawsuit over a speech he gave the morning of January 6 explicitly telling the crowd to start "kicking ass."
This week, the Department of Justice denied representing Brooks in the case, arguing among other reasons, "Instigating an attack on the United States Capitol would not be within the scope of a member of Congress`s employment." Fair point. It`s clear Brooks was part of the planning for Trump`s coup because Brooks said so himself. Check this out.
Back on December 21, 2020, more than two weeks before the insurrection, Politico just reported it out, a good piece by Melanie`s Zanona, President Donald Trump huddled with a group of congressional Republicans at the White House on Monday where they strategized over a last-ditchlast-ditch effort to overturn the election results next month. Congressman Mo Brooks who is spearheading the longshot push to overturn the election results in Congress organized the trio of White House meetings, which lasted over three hours and include roughly a dozen lawmakers. It was a back and forth concerning the planning and strategy for January 6, Brooks said in a phone interview.
I mean, he literally said they were meeting about strategy to overturn the election on the record two weeks before it happened. Then on the morning of January 6, Congressman Mo Brooks spoke at the same rally as Donald Trump. We`re now learning that when he stood up there and spoke about taking the protest the Capitol, he was wearing body armor.
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REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): I`ve got a message that I need you to take to your heart and take back home and along the way, stop at the Capitol. Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.
What are the words that scare the hell out of socialists and we need Republicans alike? Join with me, USA, USA. Washington, America, heed those words because we`re going to carry them right to you. USA, God Bless America, and the fight begins today.
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HAYES: Yes, go kick ass. Well, they did. I wonder if when Mo Brooks saw them beating the cops and cussing them and violently assaulting them, they thought, oh, they`re kicking ass. I told the to kick ass. Mo Brooks was not the only congressman implicated in the plot to keep Trump in power. The New York Times reports Mr. Trump did not name the lawmakers, the ones who are helping him. But other points during the call, again, this is the one that they took notes of, he mentioned Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio whom he described as a fighter. A spokesman for Jordan said, "Congressman Jordan did not, has not, and would not pressure anyone in the Justice Department about the 2020 election.
That Politico Report from a few days before Trump`s DOJ meeting says, "Other members who were in attendance include some of Trump`s staunchest allies on the Hill such as Congressman Jim Jordan." So, he was in the same meetings plotting on how to overturn the election.
Earlier this week, Congressman Jordan was asked if he had spoken to Donald Trump on January 6. Listen to this response.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First off, yes or no. Did you speak with President Trump on January 6?
JORDAN: Yes, I mean, I speak -- I spoke with the President last week, I speak with the president all the time. I spoke with him on January 6. I mean, I talked with President Trump all the time. And that`s -- I don`t think that`s unusual. I would expect members of Congress to talk with the President of the United States when they`re trying to get done the things they told the voters in their district to do. I`m actually kind of amazed sometimes if people keep asking this. Of course, I talked to the President. I talked to him -- like I said, I talked with him last week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On January 6, did you speak with him before, during, or after the Capitol was attacked?
JORDAN: I have to go -- I spoke with him that day after, I think after. I don`t know if I spoke with him in the morning or not. I just don`t know. I`d have to go back and -- I mean, I don`t -- I don`t know that -- when those conversations happen. But what I know is I spoke with him all the time.
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HAYES: Boy, he looked comfortable answering those questions, doesn`t he? Now, if Jim Jordan was speaking to Donald Trump about the attack in the Capitol as it happened, he absolutely could not be on the committee investigating the attack because as Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney pointed out, Jordan can be a material witness who is called to testify.
At some level, the coup plot was done out in the open. I mean, reported in Politico. We all saw it. And when all else failed, when Trump could not pressure the election officials, when he could not enlist the Justice Department, when he did not have enough votes in Congress, the last thing left to him was the mob, and so he use the mob. That violent bloody insurrection, the failed coup we saw was his final attempt after he tried everything else, but he`s not done trying.
Devlin Barrett covers the FBI and Justice Department with The Washington Post, author of October Surprise: How the FBI Tried to Save Itself and Crash an Election. He`s been covering these handwritten notes published by the House Oversight Committee today.
Devlin, I wonder if you can just give us a little context about the people in the room this call, Rosen, and Donahue, and Trump and the context for this note-taking.
DEVLIN BARRETT, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. So, we reported earlier this week that this conversation was actually part of a pattern that was going on at the time of Trump regularly calling Rosen who is serving as the Acting Attorney General, because Bill Barr had just left the department. And Trump kept calling him and kept talking about this voter fraud and these various things he`d heard and seen, and that we wanted the Justice Department to pursue.
And Rosen who remember is just acting. He`s the caretaker for what is supposed to be, you know, hopefully, the quiet last weeks of the Trump administration. And obviously, it`s anything but. And he`s, as just been described to us in these conversations, he`s trying to be friendly and hear him out but not commit to anything. And a couple of times are told he tries to change the subject and is basically unsuccessful because Trump won`t let it go.
HAYES: Right. So, that`s s a key part of this too which is that there`s a pattern here. This is a sustained effort, your reporting indicates, as opposed to a one-off conversation.
BARRETT: Right, absolutely. And you can see also through his public statements that Trump keep -- through the late half of 2020, Trump keeps trying to draw the Justice Department into these arguments he`s making about the election. And before the election, then-Attorney General Bill Barr is actually willing to entertain and help with some of these notions, help with some of this criticism. But after the election, the mood in the relationship really changes.
And you know, Barr is -- leaves as that relationship has soured. And Rosen is sort of left there to try to manage the situation and not upset the applecart essentially. And there`s a really dangerous dance. One former official described to me, as you know, the department was on a knife`s edge, trying to both listen to the president, not blow him off or anger him or incite a greater confrontation, and at the same time, not let the Justice Department be used for something as alarming and, you know, counterfactual as this.
HAYES: Tell me about Donohue here. I mean, the notes strike me is not an accident, and the fact that they`re preserved strike me is not an accident. Who is he? What`s his role at this point?
BARRETT: Right. So, Richard Donohue is a longtime Justice Department employee. He, you know, had -- at one time, he was the U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn. He has been a senior aide in the Justice. By the time that these notes are taken, he has been a senior aide inside the Justice Department for the Trump administration.
And he`s had to run interference and sort of play internal traffic cop a little bit on these contentious issues involving Trump in the election. So, he also gets wrapped up in, if you remember, the fights between President Trump and the state of Georgia over the count. And he has to navigate DOJ`s, you know, essentially staying out as best they can have that fight.
So, he keeps touching these very complicated, very tricky issues. And I think you`re right. The notes are taken for a reason. They`re taken because he feels there needs to be some kind of record that this is going on. And importantly, he needs to preserve as much what Trump said, which is what we`re focusing on. I think from the Justice Department view, they need to preserve what they said and what they did. And that`s very important you can see in Rosen`s public and private statements.
HAYES: Yes. Devin Barrett who has done great reporting on this, thank you very much.
BARRETT: Thank you.
HAYES: Donald Trump`s request for His Justice Department to just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me sounds a lot like his requests the Ukrainian president that led to his first impeachment when he said, "I would like you to do us a favor though." This time, Trump was more desperate. He felt he could much more explicitly state his request because these were his people. There was no quid pro quo necessary.
Daniel Goldman served as the House Majority Counsel in the first impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, prior to that, federal prosecutor in Southern District of New York, and he joins me now.
I am struck by the similarities here, particularly that line which I think is so damning, just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me. What`s your reaction to that?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, HOUSE MAJORITY COUNSEL, FIRST IMPEACHMENT TRIAL OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You`re exactly right, Chris. It`s the more desperate, more extreme, and more untethered Donald Trump trying to cheat, or in this case, overturn the election. I mean, the Ukraine Impeachment was all about Donald Trump trying to cheat in the 2020 election. He had won the 2016 election using Russian interference. He wasn`t charged criminally with that, but the Mueller report indicated that he certainly knew about it, his campaign knew about it, and they use the Russian interference.
Then he tried to extort Ukraine into helping him cheat in the election. And then he lost the election, and now he`s just simply going all out, so to speak, to overturn the election. It is a stunning, stunning request. And there are other things that in the notes that jumped out to me that I think will be very relevant to prosecutors looking at Donald Trump`s conduct in the aftermath of the 2020 election.
The first thing he says that jumped out to me is, you may not read the internet as much as I do. Well, you`ll remember Chris, that there was a lot of internet chatter about storming the Capitol right in the lead up through January 6. And one of the issues in impeachment two was how much did Donald Trump know? Well, here he is admitting that he reads the internet.
And then the other thing, which is separate and apart from the coup here is him once again asking them to prosecute Hunter Biden. This is the President of the United States asking the Department of Justice to prosecute his political enemy. That is Banana Republic stuff.
HAYES: OK, you just said prosecutor. Here`s the thing that I find really frustrating about this whole thing. First of all, the idea that anyone would let this man within sniffing distance of power is like manifestly insane and essentially a kind of democratic deathwish, A. B, how can it not be the case that this is not a crime?
I mean, someone wants to describe the coup attempt as akin to someone walking down a hallway of a hotel and just trying every door, which is kind of what he did. It wasn`t that like, sophisticated. It wasn`t that tried out, but he just tried every door. Now, they all ended up locked, so he couldn`t steal the stuff. But if one was open, he obviously would have. And that seems criminal to me just in an intuitive sense.
GOLDMAN: Well, it`s all evidence that could be used as part of some sort of sedition prosecution or a specific state prosecution like what`s going on and in an investigation in Georgia where he tried to interfere in the election in a particular state. So, it`s not that it is not potentially criminal. I just think that we all need to look at all of these notes and recordings as pieces of evidence in a larger puzzle.
And that`s why I point out that admission of his that he reads the internet. That type of thing can be very helpful for prosecutors to piece together a case. The problem is that no one has ever done this before. It`s not something that`s ever been anticipated that a president would literally try to have a coup in order to overturn an election by will, purely by will -- by might, if he could have, but as we know by now, Mark Milley and others and Mark Esper in the Defense Department were not going to let that happen.
So, his outlet was these acting folks in the Department of Justice to try to use his power and coercion to get them to do his dirty work. And they resisted. The institutions held, the individuals held ultimately, which is why it was a failed coup.
HAYES: Yes. Well -- and no -- I just got to say, talk about like, world- historical cowardice from William Barr. William Barr knows what the guys up to. William Barr could have gone public, but he leaves, writes and utterly like preposterous and chromium to the greatness of Donald Trump knowing full well the man is attempting a coup essentially in the moment, and then just hands over the job of protecting American democracy from said coup to Jeffrey Rosen and pieces out. Good work, buddy.
GOLDMAN: Yes. And it`s, you know, up until the sycophantic resignation letter and him leaving, you know, he did actually stand up to Trump on this one issue. He was his lackey and accomplice for two years. But on this issue, he said there was no evidence of election fraud. And that did set the stage I think, for Jeffrey Rosen to be able to push back a little bit. So, I am no fan of Bill Barr, but I actually think on this topic, other than advocating the thrones so to speak, he did resist.
HAYES: That`s true. And maybe it`s because I`m a journalist and because I have a television show that this occurs to me and it doesn`t occur to functionaries, but like, no one goes public. Everyone just like plays a good soldier and doesn`t say anything. The guy is rattling the cage trying to overturn an election. Like, for the love of God, say something publicly. That`s just me.
Daniel Goldman, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
GOLDMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: Donald Trump went two campaigns and an entire presidency keeping his tax returns hidden. Today, we found out the game of keep away may finally be over. The decision to withhold Donald Trump`s tax returns from House Democrats has been reversed by the Garland Justice Department. And so, the man`s taxes must be released to Congress. What happens when they get them? Does this mean the public will get to see them? And why is this happening now? Don`t go anywhere. That`s coming up next.
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REP. JIMMY GOMEZ (D-CA): Can you give us any insight into what the real reason is that the President has refused to release his tax returns?
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: The statements that he had said to me was that what he didn`t want was to have an entire group of think tanks that are tax experts run through his tax return and start ripping it to pieces and then he`ll end up in an audit until ultimately have taxable consequences, penalties, and so on.
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HAYES: Not wrong, not wrong. Donald Trump managed to keep his tax returns a secret his entire time in office, which was no small feat. And Democrats have been trying to access them for years. In 2017, Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey asks the chairman of the tax writing House Ways and Means Committee to formally request 10 years of Trump`s tax returns. The chairman was Republican, he shut down the effort.
When Republicans lost control of the House a year later, Congressman Richard Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts became chair of that committee giving him legal authority under statute to formally request Trump`s tax returns. And a few months after being sworn in, he announced he would be doing just that. But then the IRS missed the deadline to hand them over. Neal issued subpoenas to both the Treasury Department and the IRS. When that didn`t work, he sued.
Then in September 2019, Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance got into the act subpoenaing Trump`s accounting firm for eight years of his tax records. Now, Trump took that matter all the way to Supreme Court while continuing to challenge the oversight powers of the House Ways and Means Committee. Then, he lost the election shortly after he lost a Supreme Court case. In February this year, the Supreme Court allowed Manhattan prosecutors to obtain Trump`s taxes, so they have it.
Early this month, Trump`s company and its top money man were charged, of course, with tax fraud in Manhattan court. Today, however, the Ways and Means Committee finally got some movement on their years-long quest. The Justice Department under Merrick Garland said that Trump`s tax returns must be released to Congress, which means soon. They could potentially even be made public.
Betsy Woodruff Swan, national political reporter for Politico has been tracking these developments, and she joins me now. So, Betsy, my understanding is there was a an opinion from the kind of -- it`s kind of like the Supreme Court inside the Department of Justice, the Office of Legal Counsel, OLC, which gives legal direction that basically that office overturned a previous set of guidance that was offered during the Trump administration. Is that right?
BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: That`s right. When Trump`s lawyers were in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel, they said that members of Congress were acting in bad faith. That even though Congress claims to have a legitimate legislative purpose, they actually just wanted the tax returns to embarrass Trump. Therefore, Treasury didn`t have to give them to Congress. That was the Trump DOJ argument.
Now, that it`s Biden`s lawyers who are running DOJ, including this Office of Legal Counsel, what they`ve said is look, even if some members of Congress are hoping that the President will be embarrassed by the contents of his tax returns, it`s hard to imagine why he would be, but maybe some of them are hoping that. What DOJ says is even as they are hoping that, it`s not germane to the question of whether or not Congress actually has a legitimate legislative reason to reach for these tax returns.
And DOJ, the OLC within the Justice Department confirms that yes, they do have a legitimate legislative reason. One really fun piece of history with all this that`s cited in the DOJ opinion is that the reason Congress got the power to pick individual people`s tax returns, the reason specifically this committee did, is because of bribery, corruption, and scandal.
The law was changed in 1924 because Congressional investigators during the Teapot Dome scandal, which involved bribery, felt that they were getting stiff armed by the IRS. They carry that investigation out, they change the law, and the first time a member of a president`s cabinet went to prison was the result of that scandal.
So, there`s a pretty direct through-line from the reason Congress has this power to what they`re trying to do with the power today.
HAYES: Yes, the -- I always found the justifications on the other side fairly tortured, that they had to do with it -- that Congress is acting in bad faith, there had to be this legislative intent. It always also seemed obvious to me the legislative intent is we`re considering a law to require presidential candidates to just close your taxes. And that`s the -- that`s the legislative intent of the House Ways and Means Committee. So, like, we`d like to see that one guy who hasn`t done it in 40 years, see his taxes to see if it`s justified.
But here`s the OLC opinion. It says, the 2019 opinion which they were retracting went astray, however, in suggesting the executive branch could closely scrutinize the committee`s stated justifications for its request in a matter that failed to accord the respect and deference to a coordinate branch of government.
So, this seems now settled. They`re going to get the taxes. What happens now?
SWAN: What`s likely to happen next is Trump in his personal capacity is likely to sue to try to block these tax returns from going from the IRS to the DOJ. He`s taken every step known to lawyers to try to keep this information from becoming public. I don`t think he`s going to roll over and give up just because the Biden DOJ has changed the Trump DOJ his opinions.
He`s got just a couple days to move in court. We`ll know within the next couple of days whether or not he`s going to try to take legal action to keep this from going forward. And then it`s likely to be litigated. I don`t think Congress is going to get these tax returns within the next few days. But that`s the next step. And the fact that DOJ has changed its position makes things a lot less comfortable for Trump.
HAYES: All right, Betsy Woodruff Swan, thanks so much for making time tonight.
SWAN: Thank you.
HAYES: If you want to know why the CDC is saying it`s time to mask indoors, again, even the folks who are vaccinated, you need only look to a motorcycle rally in South Dakota. Dr. Hotez is here to explain ahead.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Today, the CDC released new data about the highly contagious Delta variant and part of the basis for its recommendation earlier this week, the vaccinated people start wearing masks again in certain situations, particularly indoors, large settings, in places where there`s high community transmission.
Now, we first heard about this data yesterday, at least in part from a leaked CDC document in which they said "the war has changed" referring to the Delta variant. And we`re seeing a backlash to this new guidance predictively from Republicans, but just -- not just from them, from frankly, all kinds of folks across the spectrum.
A lot of people, particularly those who are fully vaccinated are understandably really frustrated by the idea of putting masks back on and feeling like we were getting sucked back into this pandemic and pandemic life.
And there are some more than fair critiques about how the CDC has handled its communication over the last few months from the somewhat sudden announcement back in May that masks were no longer necessary for fully vaccinated Americans. And it was honor system and everyone should just sort of do their thing, do that in the reversal this week. And like whiplash of learning the Delta variant is quite serious, something that actually kind of sort of started to know four or five months ago. So, what happened?
Part of the reality here right, is that the virus mutates. And the data released today does show the Delta variant is more dangerous, though, like so much of what`s happened over the course of this pandemic. This data itself is provisional, and by no means definitive.
All that said, I think a lot of this frustration is legitimate. What I don`t think is legitimate is just this entire faction of conservative Republicans who have opposed or even tried to sabotage every single attempt to deal with the virus, whether it`s social distancing, or closing down bars and restaurants or masks or vaccinations.
HAYES: They seem to be in favor of just letting the virus run rampant and sicken and kill as many people as possible, and they seem completely incapable of marshaling any energy or anger on behalf of protecting people. Instead, they have depthless wells of it to direct all of their energy into stunty histrionics about being asked to put a piece of cloth over their face.
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REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): if I am to cowardly bend the knee here like those on the left wish, then what is to stop you all from taking your tyranny to the rest of this country that I love? How dare anyone in this institution attempt to dictate to the patriots of my staff, how they may live their lives. Arrest us, if you will, but I will not cower, and I will not bend.
Madam Speaker you have come to take away our liberties. But Madam Speaker, in this country you are outnumbered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Bro, this is not the battle of Lexington, OK? We`re just talking about putting a little mask on. That was Republican Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina referring to the mask mandate in the House is tyranny.
And in the halls of Congress yesterday, a group of about a hundred unmasked Republican staffers apparently protested by playing beer pong in the halls of Congress with water because babies are not all 21. I didn`t actually quite get the deal.
Now in some ways, the basic dynamics of the fight against the virus have changed with Delta. In other ways, they`re still pretty familiar and how we`re going to fight against it, it`s going to look pretty familiar to a lot of us. That`s next.
HAYES: So, one of the reasons the CDC changed its mask recommendation for vaccinated people is because of what happened in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Over the July 4th weekend, thousands of visitors descended on the small town, this happens every summer, most summers. There are events and there were parties and people packed into restaurants and bars and there was an outbreak of COVID. 469 people contracted the virus. According to CDC, nearly three quarters of those new COVID patients were fully vaccinated.
Now, Provincetown is a very liberal place in a very blue state. It`s got one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.
As a result, the hospitalization rate in the Provincetown outbreak was minuscule. Of those 469 people, only five people were hospitalized, four of them were fully vaccinated, and no one died.
In other words, the vaccines did their job. Again, to stress this whole thing. The headline is a happy story about the effectiveness of vaccines put to an absolute stress test.
That is broadly in line with what we`ve been hearing about the Delta variant. It`s incredibly transmissible, more contagious perhaps than the 1918 flu or smallpox, and is transmissible even among the vaccinated but the vaccines do an incredible job of stopping severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths.
So, here`s the CDC data on COVID cases earlier this month. There were eight times as many cases in unvaccinated people, that`s the green line, then in vaccinated people, line in blue.
Now, look at the data on hospitalizations and deaths, there were 25 times as many unvaccinated people hospitalized and 25 times as many unvaccinated people who lost their lives.
Right now, according to the White House, a hundred million eligible Americans are still unvaccinated. And there are lots of events like Provincetown that are going to be happening this summer in places with vaccination rates much much lower than Massachusetts.
For instance, remember the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, the 2020 Super spreader event with all the Trump signs without any masks or social distancing, the event that one study estimates could have led to over 200,000 COVID cases last year alone.
Well, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is happening again in the week. And you just got to imagine the folks of the CDC, among others are filled with dread.
To help explain the new data on the Delta variant, I`m joined by Dr. Peter Hotez co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children`s Hospital, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, and author of Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-science.
All right, Dr. Hotez, here`s the thing about the Provincetown study is that I felt like they`re kind of two ways to interpret it. One is like, wow, there was a full outbreak among vaccinated people, we haven`t really seen this before. But also, this was an incredible stress test of the vaccine`s efficacy in preventing serious illness and it held up remarkably well. Is that a fair characterization?
DR. PETER HOTEZ, CO-DIRECTOR, TEXAS CHILDREN`S HOSPITAL CENTER FOR VACCINE DEVELOPMENT: Yes, absolutely. Look, these vaccines are still very robust in terms of the way they were designed. I mean, the original design of all of these vaccines that came out of Operation Warp Speed last year was to stop symptomatic illness and they`re still doing that. And originally it was 95 percent, now it`s about down to 88 percent for the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine, the two doses. And much higher, way over 95 percent of protecting against hospitalizations and deaths.
So, if you`re vaccinated, you`re almost certainly not going to get very sick or lose your life from COVID 19. The idea that these vaccines could also stop asymptomatic transmission was something that came out after the vaccines were released to emergency use. And there was studies in Israel and the U.K. showing hey, in addition to stopping severe symptomatic illness and symptomatic illness, guess what? It`s also stopping asymptomatic transmission, because the antibodies are getting into the nose and mouth and stopping virus shedding. That means then we could take off masks and if we`re vaccinated, we don`t need to be tested anymore.
So, the only thing that`s really dropped out, and even that`s not completely is that second performance feature because the Delta variant produces so much more virus and even that may be fixed later on by a third immunization potentially.
HOTEZ: So, this is not time to despair if you`re vaccinated, the ones who have to despair are those -- are the unvaccinated of course, and that`s what we`re now seeing where I live, in the southern of the United States, we`re seeing lots of unvaccinated young people now going into the hospital, even in some pediatric intensive care unit.
So, the overwhelming message is we have to vaccinate the south and we have to vaccinate the Mountain West states where very few adolescents and young adults are vaccinated in order to present -- prevent real catastrophe as the school start opening in the south in just a couple of weeks.
HAYES: So, there`s a question that an outstanding question -- let me follow up on the Provincetown question. I`ve seen some people today some -- and not just like randos, but some people with public health background saying that you know, Provincetown is a very special case.
I mean, the -- someone pointed out it`s 85 percent men, more or less, it`s an incredibly intensive -- I mean, talk about designing a super spreader event. There`s a lot of drinking, there`s a lot of tight quarters, there`s a lot of hookups. There`s a lot of the -- you know, people being very close to each other. That this maybe is not like the most representative of Delta spreading more broadly in an -- not as an intensively kind of virus friendly environment as July 4th week in a Provincetown. What do you think of that?
HOTEZ: Yes, actually, you know, this report that came out in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the MMWR didn`t really tell me anything I didn`t know. We already knew that the reproductive number of this virus is between five and eight is highly transmissible.
For me, the most important thing it confirmed is that you`re not going to die if you get -- if you get fully vaccinated, even against the Delta variant unless very special circumstances, those who are on immunosuppressive therapy or a couple of other factors.
So, I think, you know, the way it was written, you know, there is that 74 percent were vaccinated. Remember, there are thousands and thousands of vaccinated people going through Provincetown which probably has one of the highest vaccination rates anywhere, and the overwhelming number of people are not getting sick.
HAYES: I guess the question then becomes on this mask guidance, right? I mean, I guess, part of -- you know, part of the argument people are making is they`re saying, look, if I`m vaccinated, people around me are vaccinated. And the Provincetown example is an example of the fact that -- you know, that it can spread, you can have an outbreak among people that are vaccinated and, in the end, not have calamitous results that you would have sort of in unvaccinated. Then, why this sort of new masking guidance in indoor areas?
HOTEZ: Well, the reason is this, because the vaccines are not as strong against Delta in terms of that second performance feature of asymptomatic viral shedding. It means that if you are then going into a setting like that, then coming home to family members who are vulnerable, such as little kids or those who are immunocompromised, you could potentially bring that virus home with you and that`s the reason for wearing masks.
So, the truth is, you know, many of us who are vaccinated are still wearing masks when we go into indoor settings anyway. So, I don`t think it`s going to be that much of a change in behavior.
I think the more important guidance we need right now is for specialty populations, those of extreme age or those who run immunosuppressive therapy. Do we need that third immunization to keep that small percentage of breakthrough hospitalizations into intact and roll this, then also stop virus shedding? And what about the people who`ve gotten a single dose, J&J vaccine, should they get a second dose?
HAYES: Yes, we should note that Naftali Bennett in Israel has announced a policy for those of a very advanced age to get a third shot booster. I think it`s the first country that`s doing that and that`s something else to look for as we go forward.
Dr. Peter Hotez, clarifying, as always, thank you.
HOTEZ: Thank you.
HAYES: Next, whistleblowers alleged COVID cover up claiming they were told to downplay outbreaks of the coronavirus among children held in migrant shelters. Julia Ainsley has the story right after this.
HAYES: There`s a migrant shelter for unaccompanied children located near El Paso, Texas and Fort Bliss. And this overcrowded facilities house between 1,000 and 5,000 children at a time.
Now, thanks to two whistleblowers, we`re learning about terrible conditions inside the shelter including huge coronavirus outbreaks among children and a lack of adequate masks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARTHUR PEARLSTEIN, WHISTLEBLOWER: There were these tents all over these places, these massive tents just crowded with kids. This was an environment in which COVID spread very very rapidly amongst the kids and ultimately, amongst many of the staff as well.
LAUREN REINHOLD, WHISTLEBLOWER: We were told to not share practically everything we witnessed there. We were told to not be on social media, to limit our conversations about the site with close friends and family, and to definitely not talk to the media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The two people you heard there are the whistleblowers. Both career civil servants who volunteered to be detailed to the shelter when the Biden administration ramped up staffing to accommodate an increase in unaccompanied minors.
They filed a complaint with a nonprofit Government Accountability Project running "At a town hall meeting with detailees, a senior U.S. public health service manager was asked and refused to say how many were infected with COVID. Because if that graph of infections is going to The Washington Post every day, it`s the only thing that we`ll be dealing with and politics will take over. Perception will take over and we`re about reality, not perception. All the manager would acknowledge is that several children had to be hospitalized.
HAYES: Julia Ainsley, NBC News correspondent covering the Department of Justice Homeland Security has been covering this story, sat down with the whistleblowers. And NBC News has also obtained the exclusive audio from inside that facility in Fort Bliss.
Julia, I want to play that in a moment. But first, just to set sort of the context here, we`re talking about this is the Biden administration that had a huge influx of unaccompanied minors that were spending way too long in CBP custody. And there was a concerted effort because CBP (INAUDIBLE) there`s no place for kids of any kind, to move them through that system to cost the DHHS. And in response to that, HHS scaled up its shelters and this is one of them, right?
JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That`s right. I mean, at the time, if you think back to March, and President Biden would announce that another shelter was opening, he was trying to give the biggest numbers possible. He talked about Fort Bliss opening for 5,000 children, that potentially being able to hold 10,000 children. That was a win for them, because they were able to get children out of the terrible conditions in Border Patrol custody where they were never supposed to be forever 72 hours, and then they had a better place to sleep.
But instead, what it meant is because of these facilities having to be emergency intake facilities, they had to rely very heavily on contractors. They don`t allow state licensing. They don`t have state licensing where they do this emergency and take facilities.
So, there`s a lot less oversight, a lot less transparency. And that allows this kind of environment to fester, especially when you talk about those big numbers.
And the whistleblowers who I talked to talked about spread -- beds being so close together that you couldn`t even go through them. If you`ve seen from pictures we have, these are caught stacked on top of each other. They`re not real bunk beds.
It`s the kind of environment that would make COVID spread very quickly. And it`s also the kind of environment that when a child has a real medical or mental health concern, as many of them did, they don`t get that help as quickly as they should.
HAYES: Yes, I mean, it sounds like from the whistleblowers, I mean, this is just an overwhelmed facility. This is not functioning in a way that can be child centered in any way.
I want to read what HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said, he said our duty in HHS to provide safe appropriate care for the unaccompanied. We take allegations of wrongdoing seriously and swiftly report allegations not only in the Office of the Inspector -- sorry, I`m, (INAUDIBLE) we take -- we constantly work to improve the conditions and services, work hard to care for children in these challenging settings. I`ve been to Fort Bliss, including this month. I have inspected conditions at the facility and questioned site managers. I`ve spoken to the children. While they`re in our custody, they will continue to receive safe appropriate care. And every emergency site will be investigated.
My question, I guess, for you is what now happens with these complaints? And are there going to be changes at this facility?
AINSLEY: Yes, I mean, that`s the thing they`re not committing to, right? They`re talking about taking piecemeal allegations, referring them to authorities, referring them to their internal controls through the Office of the Inspector General.
But what we haven`t heard either from Becerra, or from the White House is to do a wholesale investigation to Fort Bliss and of other emergency intake facilities and to get to the bottom of why these contractors got this contract in the first place.
The three contractors involved here who were running the facility when are whistleblowers were there, which I should point out was April through late June, they had no previous childcare experience. None of their contracts ever involve taking care of children. They dealt with military intelligence and disaster cleanup.
And between the three of them, they had $1 billion in contracts. So, those are the kinds of things we`re taking on as investigative reporters and that seems that there would be a time for the administration to also be looking at that wholesale approach to, rather than taking piecemeal allegations.
And as you know, some of these allegations are very serious that it`s not something you would want an inspector general to handle. You would want someone to come in right away and see if someone needs to be immediately removed from caring for these children.
HAYES: Yes, I want to play some of this exclusive audio about staff being caught with minors inappropriately, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t give you daily numbers in breakouts and graphs and things like that. Assume everyone has COVID. Act appropriately.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have already caught staff with minors inappropriately. If you catch them, especially if it`s a staff member, you separate that minor away from that person immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That obviously, Julia that has to be investigated yesterday, and this facility has to be made sure to be safe for children but this can`t wait.
AINSLEY: Right. I mean, that audio that we obtained that was taped in May, that was in May training session for employees trying to tell them, you know, please don`t -- please separate anyone you see who might be having a sexual encounter with a minor.
For us, we would think, well, you would do a lot more than separate them, and very quickly. They do talk about filing reports. They do talk about that, but there doesn`t seem to be this immediate accountability. And it`s something that they admit has happened.
AINSLEY: And so, given the fact that a manager who`s training employees knows that has happened, it seems like we are getting a very muted response from the administration and from Secretary Becerra.
HAYES: This is -- if any of this is -- again, these are allegations and there`s some documentation. But if any of this is remotely close to reflective, this is utterly, utterly, completely unacceptable in every possible way.
Julia Ainsley, great reporting. Thank you very much.
That is ALL IN for tonight. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now with Ali Velshi in for Rachel. Good evening, Ali.