Six months after the January 6 attack at the Capitol, there`s new video, new arrest, and new details on the investigation into the Capitol insurrection. The House moves forward with investigation into the January 6 insurrection. With the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, there`s an increased push to get to states that are low on vaccination. Former Rep. Allen West launches his bid for Texas Governor. Adam Serwer has a new book titled Cruelty is the Point where he talks about the past, the present and the future of Trump`s America.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Well, and I didn`t even get into the Nigerian team that they`re trying to throw out. It`s just a hot mess. But Monte Jonesville thank you for being on.
That tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN. Six months after the attack on democracy, new video, new arrest, and new details on the investigation into the Capitol insurrection.
Then, how America miss the Biden goal of 70 percent vaccinations by July 4.
GOV. JIM JUSTICE (R-WV): The red states probably have a lot of people that, you know, are very, very conservative in their thinking and they think well, I don`t have to do that. But you`re not thinking right.
HAYES: Plus the cruelty is the point. Adam Serwer on his new book chronicling the dangerous politics unleashed by Donald Trump.
And that twice-impeach for president gives up the game on stage.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You didn`t pay tax on the car? I don`t even know. Do you have to put -- does anybody know the answer to that stuff?
HAYES: David Cay Johnston on -- has answers to all this stuff and he joins me on a supersize edition of ALL IN starting now.
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HAYES (on camera): Good evening from Chicago. I`m Chris Hayes. Happy Fourth of July. As the nation celebrates Independence Day, this long weekend, we`re also about to mark six months since the insurrection at the Capitol in January. The Department of Justice has now arrested more than 500 people in connection with the attack. We are tracking a lot of different developments in those overlapping investigations.
Over the weekend, we got new details in the case of a former Virginia police officer who by -- we should note is not the only former police officer, named Thomas Robertson. He is facing multiple charges after allegedly participating in the January 6 insurrection. According to prosecutors, Robertson and another off-duty officer entered the Capitol Building, posed for this photo in front of the statue making obscene gesture.
They then boasted about their exploits on social media. Robertson writing, "we actually attacked the government. The right in one day took the effing U.S. Capitol." After his arrest in January, a judge released Robertson pending trial on the condition he could not own any firearms or other weapons.
Well, days later, authorities found eight firearms at his home but the judge decided to give him a second chance. Now, prosecutors are asking the judge to revoke Robertson`s release, saying he has once again violated those same conditions by and, I quote here, possessing a loaded them for rifle and a partially assembled pipe bomb at his home and by purchasing an arsenal of 34 firearms online. They say Robertson also tried to hide the transactions indicating the payments on Venmo were for wedding photos.
Yesterday, Robertson`s lawyers responded to prosecutors with a truly special defense that reads in part, "Mr. Robertson was an antique gun lover. He served his country honorably, and the guns he allegedly purchased, but did not possess were antique guns from World War II era." So, it`s fine to them apparently because he only bought them, had not yet picked them up, and he just really loves antique world war two guns.
I should note, World War II guns are still guns, and as lawyers themselves admit, they are not actually antiques. In fact, there`s an official definition for this, which I learned. The U.S. government says firearms are only antique if they were manufactured in or before 1898, long before World War II.
But anyway, the guy just loves apparently to buy guns even when judges tell him not to. A judge will decide whether Robertson will remain on pretrial release early next month. Now, some other rioters of the Capitol on January 6 have tried to harder to hide evidence of their wrongdoing. A new review by the Associated Press finds at least 49 defendants are accused of trying to erase incriminating photos, videos and texts from phones or social media accounts documenting their conduct as a pro Donald Trump mob stormed Congress.
Experts told the AP that those attachments reveal a desperate willingness to manipulate evidence once these people realize they were in hot water. And they can "serve as powerful proof of people`s consciousness of guilt and make it harder to negotiate plea deals and seek leniency at sentencing."
There`s also a new category of crimes where we`re getting some information on the Department of Justice has apparently been focusing on in their investigation of the Capitol insurrection. Recently, the FBI has made a flurry of arrests in cases involving alleged attacks on journalists who were documenting the riot on January 6th.
The first was a 43-year-old Illinois man named Shane Jason Woods, and he allegedly assaulted media equipment set up on Capitol grounds and then ran into and tackled a cameraman causing him to fall to the ground and drop his camera. The FBI went on to arrest several more people allegedly involved in similar attacks. There were a bunch of them. You saw them documented. You see there like the Virginia man -- Virginia man scene in this video smashing up media gear outside the Capitol. He allegedly, well, once again, bragged about his actions in texts to a friend later that day.
More video of the horror of the attack continues to come out day by day as all these cases move forward. This newly released court exhibit shows the disorienting and claustrophobic conditions officers were in on the front lines as they tried to keep out the mob.
Tomorrow is the six-month mark, six months since the worst attack on American democracy arguably, probably since the Civil War. And it`s still not over, of course. The FBI continues to arrest and charge more and more people by the day.
Scott MacFarlane is an investigative reporter for NBC4 in Washington and has been following all the details of these cases. And he joins me now. Scott, let`s start with the former police officer Robertson and his case, a sort of remarkable brief, I have to say, by his defense attorneys who again, it`s their job to advocate for their client, but I`m not quite sure the judge is going to buy it.
SCOTT MACFARLANE, NB4 INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: It`s striking, Chris, for a few different reasons. First of all, his defense lawyer in this new filing is arguing Mr. Robertson, there`s no evidence he had the guns. But if he did have the guns, they are antique guns because he`s an antique gun hobbyist.
Put those specifics aside, here`s where we are. Six months after the insurrection, so many back and forth arguments for defendants and prosecutors over whether just simply be held in jail pending trial. The trial itself, that`s a long ways off. The first major trial to be scheduled so far in this insurrection, Chris, is the accused Oath Keepers group. The trial date is late January 2022. That`s a year after the insurrection.
It`s worth mentioning, some of the defendants, in that case, are being held in jail pre-trial, which means they`ll have served a year in jail just to get to the trial date. The basic point here, Chris, is we`re closer to the starting line than to the finishing line of most of these cases.
HAYES: Yes, it`s a really good point. And you and I talked about this before, the sheer volume and the capacity issues that are straining against that one, basically, D.C. office is dealing with it. You mentioned the Oath Keepers. I think, judges -- it seems to me the vast majority of folks that have been apprehended have been released pre-trial, some have not, like the Oath Keepers. And one of the things that comes through in that New York Times video is how key as relatively a small sort of vanguard of very coordinated folks were to these key moments of breaching, you know, the outer perimeter or the inside of the Capitol.
I want to play a little bit from the Times documentary on the Oath Keepers and have you talk about where those cases stand right now. Take a listen.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Oath Keepers a far right paramilitary group are also here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have men already stationed outside D.C.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their leader has said the group is ready to follow Trump`s orders and take members of what they call the deep state into custody. They`re organized staging their military-style equipment neatly on the ground. And later, they put on body armor, talk on radios, and chat with their supporters on a walkie-talkie app called Zello.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a good group. We got about 30, 40 of us. We`re sticking together and sticking to the plan.
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HAYES: Sticking together, sticking to the plan, 30 to 40 of them. How many have been apprehended and what are the government -- what do we know from government filings about how they`re approaching that group?
MACFARLANE: Yes, Chris, there are three groups -- three groups upon which we`re focused most intently because they`re kind of the heart of the action right now, three far-right groups. The Oath Keepers being one of them, the Proud Boys being another, and the Three Percenters is the most recent to be charged.
The Three Percenters case kind of in its infancy right now. The Oath Keepers -- the Oath Keepers the Feds had made some progress. There are about 20 accused Oath Keepers facing that conspiracy charge of being equipped for action that day of plotting and planning. Prosecutors have secured three plea agreements from accused Oath Keepers. And in all three cases, the defendants have agreed to cooperate and help with the investigation.
And just last week, Chris, the prosecutors told the judge, they`ve had productive plea negotiations with many of the other defendants in that case. That`s an early win for the Feds.
HAYES: We also saw from that video -- I mean, I every time that I`ve watched in the video, I`m sort of attentive to more and more details about the equipment that people have, certain people have. You know, there`s a guy walking around with a baseball bat. You`ve got folks with, you know, famously with the, you know, the plastic hand ties. But in that video we just show, someone has got a strobe light on them.
You can see from the -- I mean, it`s truly bizarre. You`ve got this sort of inversion in which the people attacking the police and the perimeter are equipped with precisely the kind of like disruptive crowd control devices that normally the police have and are being wielded on the police themselves.
MACFARLANE: Yes, they`ve got chemical spray, a hockey stick, a sharpened flagpole. And once they got their hands on the police riot shields, they used those riot shields against police. You have cases here where the feds alleged defendants came armed with makeshift weapons ready for action. Other cases where the Feds allege the defendants found things and made them ready for action.
But as we sit here at the six-month mark, a couple of top lines jump out at me. You have 516 federally charged defendants at least right now. The Capitol Police chief says there were at least 800 illegally in the Capitol. There may be more rest to come. But also, another top line, Chris, a lot of police, a lot of military veterans and a few locally elected government officials among those charts. They really stand out.
HAYES: Scott MacFarlane who`s been doing fantastic work on this day in day out, thanks so much for making time for us tonight.
I want to bring in Congresswoman Elaine Luria. She`s a Democratic of Virginia serving on the Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. Congresswoman, I guess my first question for you is given how complex the legislative environment is in the Capitol right now, the Biden agenda balancing a bunch of competing imperatives, you know, a fragile recovery as we emerged from COVID-19 and battle this new variant, why did you want to want to be on this committee? What was your reaction when you were named to it?
REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): Well, Chris, as you may know, I served in the military for 20 years, and I took the oath of office very seriously, when I first took it when I was 17, through my entire 20-year career, and now serving as a member of Congress.
And, you know, like you just showed in this last clip, this former police officer who is the very person who took an oath to defend his community and uphold those laws, the very duty that he had to uphold those laws, he`s the person breaking those, trying to disrupt the operations of our government when certifying the electoral results of the President, and brutally attacking with this mob police officers.
So, there`s so much more to know about what happened on January 6, and this is just incredibly important work that we must do to ensure that something like this can never happen again, and to protect our democracy and our government and our country moving forward.
HAYES: The original proposal, which was part of that bipartisan commission and the details have been worked out with the ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee John Katko, Republicans voted against it. Mitch McConnell killed it with a filibuster in the Senate. This Select Committee is there instead.
The benefit that -- among other things, that that first idea had is that those commissioners would be sort of working on this full time. Like, how much of an enterprise do you perceive this in terms of just your own portfolio as a member of congress and the resources that you`re all going to have to pursue this?
LURIA: Well, you know, this is very important work. And I think that all of us -- it`s a very small group. And we`re waiting on five additional nominees from Minority Leader McCarthy to fill out the committee. I understand how important this is for the country and to get to the bottom of the events on January 6.
So, those on the committee will be complemented by a staff. And we will work at this tirelessly until we get to the bottom of the facts. And truly, we will take the information where the investigation leads us. And I feel like you know, nothing`s off the table. There`s so much more to know about what happened that day. What led up to the events of the sixth? Why didn`t we have better intelligence? Why didn`t we have better preparation for this? Why did it take so long for the National Guard to arrive to reinforce the police?
There`s just so much information to know, so I think that we just have to underscore the importance of this and put that due diligence and focus into this effort to get the answers.
HAYES: Are you confident -- you just mentioned that there are five members who will be named by the Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Speaker Pelosi named eight members, you among them, seven Democrats, one Republican in Liz Cheney. Are you confident that there are members with whom you can, in good faith, engage in cooperative inquiry into this extremely, awful, awful moment in American history and sort of get to the bottom of it and lay out the facts?
LURIA: I am confident that there are people we can do that in good faith with. I`m very confident in the eight members, including a republican Liz Cheney, who`s part of the committee with us now. And you know, I can`t really comment on minority McCarthy`s deliberations as to who is going to nominate for this, but I can guarantee you that the eight people who are currently nominated and serving on this committee will do it impartially in a non-biased way and leave partisanship at the door because this is very important work.
HAYES: Do you sense on Capitol Hill, people have noted this before and even you know, playing the sound of Kevin McCarthy himself, casting blame at Donald Trump`s feet for the insurrection and, of course calling the president -- then-President frantically what was happening. The sense that in the moments after, in the day in which everyone came back and voted to approve the electors, although majority of Republicans voted against it, there was a sense of the -- of the trauma and the urgency and the horror of what had happened, how close it came to, to something truly, truly awful, and that that`s ebbed over time. There`s been a kind of effort to whitewash it. Do you feel that on Capitol Hill?
LURIA: I think it`s still very real, very alive, very tangible for the people who were there, for the Capitol Police officers. You know, I walked by, and I say hello, and I thank them for what they did and the situation that they were in where it was dangerous and they were risking their lives to protect the Capitol and the lawmakers and the staff in the building during this interaction.
So, you know, I`d say that it`s very tangible. And, you know, the fact that there are all of these charges, I think that the last person on the show mentioned 516, up to maybe 800 people who were in the Capitol who could potentially be charged as well as the people you mentioned who are attacking media and journalists outside.
And I think the more we see these images, The New York Times put together a very compelling 40-minute video that I`d urge everyone to look at to understand the coordination and all the angles from which this attack was taking place simultaneously. So, I think that the more that we learn, the more horrifying this becomes.
HAYES: Congresswoman Elaine Luria who has been selected to serve on that Select Committee representing her district in Virginia, thank you so much for your time tonight.
LURIA: Thank you.
HAYES: All right, America has officially come up just short of President Biden`s ambitious goal to have 70 percent of adults at least partially vaccinated by the Fourth of July. There`s a shockingly easy way to figure out whether your state hit the mark or did not. We`ll talk about that and the alarming spread of the Delta variant next.
HAYES: The administration`s goal was 70 percent of adults partly vaccinated by the Fourth of July, at least one shot. As a country, we were not able to reach that threshold. Right now, we`re right about 67 percent, so just shy. That said, 20 states have hit the goal Vermont, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Mexico, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Maryland, California, Washington, New Hampshire, New York, Illinois, Virginia, Delaware, Minnesota, Colorado, Oregon, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam have also reached 70 percent mark.
Now, look at those states, all right. What are those states have in common? When you step back, you look at this map, it is very hard to ignore the fact that all these states, all basically blue states, right, they are states that were carried by Joe Biden in the 2020 election. The rest of the country, particularly those where Trump won big are still struggling to get their vaccination numbers up.
With the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, there`s an increased push to get those lagging states. Places like Mississippi which right now is the lowest vaccination rate in the entire country, just over 46 percent with one dose, to try to get them and others like them closer to the goal.
Ed Yong is a staff writer for The Atlantic. Last month, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his work on the Coronavirus and how America failed in its response to it. His latest piece is on the three simple rules that underscore the dangers of the Delta variant. And he joins me now.
And Ed, let me first offer my sincere congratulations on the Pulitzer. It was incredibly, incredibly well earned for all your work. I want to talk about the states -- the divergence we`re seeing in vaccination rates. And just in the beginning, there was a lot of confounding variables about states that were hit hard, states they were doing a good job and bad job. The further on we`ve gotten, the more of these sort of underlying kind of political social structures seem to be driving a really worrying divergence in the -- in the paths of the countries combating the virus.
ED YONG, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Yes. I think the pattern that you identify clearly shows how polarized America`s attitudes to the pandemic and now to vaccinations have become. I wouldn`t send a small note of caution that politics isn`t the only factor that`s driving this. There are also issues of, you know, trust and so on. And even in states that have met Biden`s goal, there are still going to be pockets of unprotected, unvaccinated people. And it`s really important to keep maintaining that push for more vaccinations across the board and not, you know, to be complacent especially as we`re seeing the Delta variant which is much more transmissible and which is pummelling unvaccinated communities spreading around the U.S.
HAYES: Yes, let`s talk about that. I mean, part of the issue -- look, the U.S. always had a hard time mobilizing sort of collective effort to undertake basic aspects of pandemic control, like test and trace and testing and quarantine, right? We were bad at that from the beginning. At this point, that seems like we`re definitely not going to go back to that. So, vaccination is really the key. What do we know about the Delta? What are the three rules as you lay them out in your piece? And what does that mean for American policy at this moment?
YONG: Right. So, the three rules are pretty simple. First, the vaccines are still holding their own against the variance. The second is that the variants are pummelling unvaccinated people. And the third is that the longer we allow that second dynamic to continue, the less likely the first will hold, because we will get the evolution of more transmissible variants that may start to really eat into the protection that the vaccines provide.
Delta hasn`t quite done that yet. One shot is -- doesn`t provide great protection against it, but two, full vaccination still seems to do so. Now, no vaccine is perfect. And the higher community transmission gets, the more the pandemic is allowed to rage free among unvaccinated people. The more you`ll get breakthrough cases, the more you`ll get breakthrough hospitalizations.
So, you know, we really shouldn`t be resting on our normal here. We should be trying our best to drive down the spread of Delta across the country, especially in unvaccinated communities. Sadly, using a lot of the measures that you said quite rightly, that we haven`t done very well at thus far.
HAYES: Yes, I mean, here`s this -- I saw this today that the White House on Thursday saying it`s going to send out special teams to hotspots around the United States to combat the highly contagious Delta Coronavirus variant amid rising case counts in parts of the country where vaccination rates remain low, which seems like a good idea. But part of the problem, right, is that it`s the same problem in both places.
So, if you`re -- if you`re going to pick a county with low levels of vaccination where you`re seeing rising case counts, my guess is, just blindly taking a guess, those places are going to tend to be the most resistant both to sort of political and institutional level to say, reinstating mask mandates and social distancing and saying, no, you can`t have your wedding this July. We thought you could. So, you`re dealing in some ways, it`s like the same core problem of the resistance either on the vaccination side or on the kind of public health measure side.
YONG: Yes, I think that`s right. I think it`s an unfortunate consequence of the erosion of trust that we had over the last year and a half. And sadly, once that genies out of the bottle, it`s very hard to put it back in. And yet, we do have to try. I do commend them for taking measures to do that. One could argue that perhaps a lot of the measures that have already been already put in place like masks mandates will roll back too quickly. And we now find ourselves in this difficult position where, you know, we`ve sort of gone all in on vaccines as the one protective measure that is going to save us. And yet, in a lot of communities, vaccination rates aren`t high enough. And that`s not even considering people who won`t benefit from that, the immunocompromised people who might not mount a significant immune defense children who still aren`t eligible for vaccines.
It is a difficult spot that we find ourselves in even though the big picture is a little rosier than then it was. I think, the optimism that we`re all feeling right now is kind of tenuous and a lot depends on how well we do over the next few months both domestically and internationally.
HAYES: You know, we played at the open West Virginia Republican Governor Jim Justice, and what`s been striking to me about him is I feel like, in many places, Republican officials have just kind of given up on it being their job. I mean, it`s not that they`re anti-vax, but they haven`t sort of put their shoulder to the wheel. Justice stands out for doing that. I mean, he really has been working hard, even though West Virginia`s numbers are below that far below that threshold. And he had a very blunt message for people about, you know, the deadliness here. Take a listen.
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JUSTICE: The red states probably have a lot of people that, you know, are very, very conservative in their thinking. And they think, well, I don`t have to do that. But you`re not thinking right. What it really boils right down to it, they`re in a lottery to themselves. You know, we have a lottery, you know, that basically says, if you`re vaccinated, we`re going to give you stuff. Well, you`ve got another lottery going on, and it`s the death lottery.
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HAYES: I thought the death lottery is a pretty good phrase. And it reinforces the fact that we are still staring down the barrel of thousands and thousands and thousands of unnecessary deaths over the next few months cross this summer.
YONG: I agree. I think it`s going to be a tragedy. I think those deaths are going to once again, before some of the most vulnerable communities. And you know, I really want us all to remember that we`re all in this together, the pandemic does remain a collective problem even if we are vaccinated, right? You may be -- you may personally feel very safe right now, and rightly so. But, you know, my point -- my third point in my list stands, the longer we allow this to continue in unvaccinated communities in the U.S., and for the majority of the world that remains unvaccinated, the more likely you`re going to get the emergence of variants that actually do beat the protection that the vaccines offer.
So, if we`re still making the same mistake as last year and treating this purely in individualistic terms, if you`re only asking, am I safe and acting just based on that information, you`re going to make bad decisions that might jeopardize your safety in the long term. We really are all in this together, and we can`t stop until everyone is safe.
HAYES: Ed Yong, very, very wise words as always. Thanks so much for coming on.
YONG: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Here`s a question. Can you still run for office as a Republican if you`ve denounced Donald Trump as reprehensible for demonizing immigrants and Muslims? Tonight, one Senate primary candidate in Ohio is trying to save his campaign by apologizing for doing just that. That story is next.
HAYES: Texas Governor Greg Abbott is now facing a high-profile challenge from within his own party with former Florida Tea Party Congressman Allen West announcing his candidacy this weekend. West who moved from Florida to Texas after he lost reelection in Congress and then stepped down last month as the chair of the Texas Republican Party has been critical of Abbott, even participating in a protest of the governor`s mansion over COVID restrictions last fall.
Now, Governor Abbott easily won reelection 2018 beating his Democratic challenger by more than 13 points, but his approval rating has sunk since then hitting just 44 percent in a poll last month and Donald Trump won Texas by just 5.5 points last year. So, what is this challenge from the right mean for Greg Abbott for more broadly, Texas Republicans and Republicans across the country? Kristen Soltis Anderson`s a co-founder of the polling and analytics firm Echelon Insights, also columnist of the Washington Examiner, and Tim Miller, former communications director for Jeb Bush`s 2016 campaign, former spokesman for the Republican National Committee, now writer at large for Bulwark. And both of them join me now.
Kristen, I`ll start with you. I mean, I know that Abbott has faced a lot of political headwinds, you know, the handling of the of the freeze in Texas, I think, particularly hurt him quite a bit. I don`t think that from the perspective of the median voter that he`s like, been too liberal. And so, I just wonder what incentive structure it creates for Republican politicians when you see someone like Allen West primarying Abbott from the right, what it means for how he is going to conduct the governance of Texas going forward?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, the incentive structure is that if you`re running for office, it gives you a way to raise money, it gives you a pension, it gives you prominence. So, there are lots of incentives to run for office short of being interested in the act of government. So, in some ways, Allen West primary of Greg Abbott doesn`t surprise me a lot.
Whether Greg Abbott is vulnerable, I think has a lot to do with, you know, his job approval right now is in sort of the mid-40s, as you showed on that chart, is that primarily driven by disaffection with his style of government. It`s not necessarily about left or right but about, you know, the handling of things like the energy crisis in Texas.
If you have sort of moderate Republicans who may have been fans of Abbott but aren`t necessarily -- Allen West isn`t necessarily the cure for that issue. If, on the other hand, his numbers are sagging because far right Republicans are viewing him more skeptically, then that`s where you have to take this seriously.
And there`s no real one way that over the last decade more conventional Republicans have beat back primary challenges with the exception of one thing, and that`s take it seriously. Taking it seriously, putting your effort into making sure that your opponent doesn`t just get to have free rein and define the race is the number one thing that has allowed Republicans who have successfully beat back challenges from the far right to do so.
HAYES: OK, but my concern, in some ways, is the ticket seriously is precisely the issue, right? I mean, like, West shows up at a -- at a protest of COVID restrictions of the governor`s mansion, right? There`s been what we saw this Mike DeWine of Ohio, State Republicans, elected members, the party itself going nuts because of any sort of public health precautions. And so, taking the primary challenge seriously, my concern, Tim, is that you end up bending your governing decisions to head off primary challenges in ways that will negatively affect public health or whatever the issue may be.
TIM MILLER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, JEB BUSH 2016: Well, here`s the good news for you, Chris. The Texas legislature is only in like 10 weeks every other year. So, they`re actually through that session. They might have to call him back again. But there might be a minimal amount of governing happening from Greg Abbott going forward. But look, I think so.
I talked to a Republican consultant for Rolling Stone article a few months ago about the party there. And the problem that all of the Republicans are facing is that Donald Trump and his ilk have what he called Saddam Hussein- like numbers out in Lubbock, out in rural Texas, out in West Texas, and dipping numbers, you know, in the Houston suburbs and the Dallas suburbs. And this is obviously a microcosm of the country, but it`s particularly stark there.
So, having this primary will mean that Greg Abbott will have to shore up that part of the state where he needs to have those Saddam Hussein-like numbers. What could that mean? You know, we got we see these National Guard troops going to the border. There could be ad hoc vigilante efforts by the state of Texas to crack down on immigrants on the border. I mean, that could be a real-life example of a governing action that Abbott might take now to shore up his flank to deal with somebody like West.
HAYES: There`s also news of another candidate, Republican candidate in a crowded field in Ohio, J.D. Vance who is a venture capitalist and Yale Law grad, and I guess, Hollywood screenwriter, producer, his book was adapted, basically punches every elite ticket possible, hates the elites, is going to -- is going to deliver for average folks. He tweeted back in 2016 some nasty things about Donald Trump, that he was reprehensible because it is used towards immigrants and Muslims. He said he was voting for Evan McMullin. He is now apologizing for that Kristen. He`s asking people not to judge him by those tweets. He sincerely regrets saying them.
And you know, this is -- none of this is surprising, but the sort of ritualistic, almost Stalinist groveling and sort of self-criticism struggles sessions that any Republican have to go through the era of Trump is still remarkable behold.
ANDERSON: Well, bear in mind, there are a lot of Republican voters who didn`t necessarily love Donald Trump in the 2016 primary, but as his presidency went along, many warmed up to him even at the same time that Republicans were losing independent voters in the suburbs, etcetera. So, when someone like J.D. Vance says yes, I wasn`t crazy about the guy in 2016, but I`ve changed my tune, there are a lot of Republican voters that kind of sympathize with that perspective.
So, you know, what I find in my research is that most Republican voters, they`re less interested in someone who has loyalty to Trump, the man, and has been consistent ever since day one on that front, and they`re more looking for someone who represents the kinds of fights Donald Trump has oriented the party forward. And that is I think the strategy that you`re seeing J.D. Vance tried to deploy in Ohio.
HAYES: Yes, I mean, I think that the data that -- I`ve read some of Kristen`s polling on this. I mean, I think the data here is very clear that like that Donald Trump, his ethos is what Republicans like. It`s -- that`s what they`re choosing. They`re not forced into it. It`s like affirmatively, this is our vision for what American leadership should be, what the country is, who owns the country, who gets to violate and transgress and who doesn`t get to violate and transgress, which I think is key.
And I think that that, you know, that more than the cult of personality in some ways, Tim, is actually the core driver here.
MILLER: I think that`s true. But, you know, I think you might be being a little generous. I think that survival fealty to Donald Trump is still a big part of the picture here, at least for -- you know, even if it`s only 40 percent of the primary electorate. That`s a significant -- that`s a part of the primary electorate that J.D. Vance needs. The Ohio Senate race is a perfect microcosm of what`s happening in the Republican Party. You have somebody that said that fellow Christians, everyone is watching us when we apologize for this man. Lord, help us. J.D. Vance running for the seat. You have Marco Rubio supporter Josh Mandel, you`re the former chairwoman of the state party who supported John Kasich.
All of these people, if you look at their Twitter feeds are like their shrines to Donald Trump. It`s shameful. I mean, there`s -- you know, we are six months now past his attempt to overthrow the election. This could have been as a race between three people of differing visions. You know, J.D. Vance, more populist, Josh Mandel more tea party, you know, other candidates more, you know, traditional establishment. But it`s not that. It`s a competition to yes, both do it, but you guys are saying it represent the fights that Donald Trump fights and the people that need to be torn down, and the people that need to be defeated, the elites in the left. But it also is an effort to just suck up to one guy. And that is very much still happening and J.D. Vance is I think the starkest example of the flip flop, but it`s happening across all of these Republican primaries.
HAYES: What I find remarkable at all is this like, it`s so preposterously obviously like ploddingly, you know, hucksterism. I mean, all these -- all these people like discovered this belief yesterday. Like, everyone is just trying to get over. But because Trump has shown how much you can turn people into marks, everyone else now able to do it. It`s like, well, we can sell whatever -- they`ll buy, whatever we sell them if we give it -- give it them in this package, Kristen.
ANDERSON: Well, I think if you actually -- the example that comes to mind most is something less about, you know, the Ohio Senate race and more -- think about all of the members of Congress who right after January 6 came out and were very critical of him saying that he was responsible, etcetera. And then, polls like the ones my firm does showed that Republican voters, there was a little bit of a moment of, OK, maybe we turn the page from this guy, but pretty quickly went away because there`s no one else in the control room, there`s no other leader of the party that has stepped up to sort of fill that void. And so as a result, Donald Trump sort of remains the de facto leader of the party, and there`s no political incentive to cross him.
HAYES: I mean, if Donald Trump decided tomorrow to wage a campaign to make hang Mike Pence the litmus test for the Republican Party, the vast majority of Republican officeholders would get behind hanging Mike Pence. And that`s a grim, dark-ass thing to say, but it is the GD truth right now. It is that bad. I really truly believe that.
Kristen, you`re shaking your head, but I truly don`t think there`s a line.
HAYES: No, I really don`t. Like, I don`t think there`s --
MILLER: (INAUDIBLE) you know, he would. (INAUDIBLE)
HAYES: I don`t think -- I don`t think there`s an actual line -- I do not think there`s an actual line of moral transgression that can be crossed at this point that people would blanch at. I think that`s part of what`s so dark about this moment is that there`s no actual thing to cross over and people say, that`s too much for me. I don`t think it`s there. Maybe it is, Kristen. Maybe I`m wrong in the polling shows it`s there.
ANDERSON: Well, I`ve thankfully never actually pulled the exact proposition that you just made. And I do think that there are lines where you do see moments where Donald Trump would say or do things that some people in the party would brush off, but others would just say they didn`t believe it was real. They didn`t believe what was happening, they would think that it was being twisted. So, that`s why I push back against the idea that they would just endorse some sort of horrible thing just because Donald Trump said so. I think there`s a lot of other complexity going on there. And hopefully, my God, I hope I never have to pull test something as horrific as that.
HAYES: I got to say, I think some really horrible things have already been endorsed, because Donald Trump said so, which is partly why I find myself in such disquiet about the state of the nation. Kristen Soltis Anderson and Tim Miller, thank you both.
Next, the author behind the phrase that would define the Trump era. Adam Serwer joins me on his phenomenal new book. Why the cruelty extends far beyond the past four years, after this.
HAYES: By the time we were halfway through Donald Trump`s term in office, the barbarity of his ministration is already exceedingly clear, it was often so shocking and dark, it left a lot of people wondering why. How can he and the people that align with him be so cruel?
In October of 2018, Adam Serwer answered that enduring question with this famous piece in The Atlantic titled The Cruelty is the Point coining a phrase that would come to define not just the Trump era, but the steps our country took that culminated in this distinct moment.
Now, Serwer has a new book out with the same title where you perplex on why that essay became the cultural touchpoint it did, writing I never expected the response it got, but I think the reason it resonated was that it articulated something many of us implicitly felt the struggle to put into words that the President enjoyed hurting people in ways large and small, that many of his supporters enjoyed it when he heard people. The more anguish you felt, the more fun it was for them. This is not simply an ethos, but a policy approach.
And Adam Serwer, author of the new book joins us tonight. Congratulations on the book which is excellent, Adam.
ADAM SERWER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Thank you.
HAYES: That last part is a key part of that essay which is about it`s more than rhetoric, it`s policy, that this cruelty was instantiated. Talk about what you mean by that.
SERWER: So, obviously, cruelty is an individual problem. All human beings are capable of cruelty. But the book is really focused on cruelty as a part of politics, specifically, the way that it`s used to demonize certain groups, so that you can justify denying people basic rights under the Constitution, and exclude them from the political process.
And from the beginning of Donald Trump`s 2016 campaign, he was all about attacking groups that were seen as external to the Republican coalition, and blaming them for the struggles of his base in a way that would allow him to engage in -- as president, to justify using state force against religious and ethnic minorities that he blamed for the country`s suffering.
And I think, you know, our system, impartially incentivizes this, because, you know, between gerrymandering, between Senate apportionment, between the Electoral College, our system enhances the influence of the most conservative elements of the electorate. And so it becomes more urgent for the party that represents those elements to tell that group that they`re on the verge of destruction, so that anything that they do in order to prevent that destruction is justified.
And you can see this in the rhetoric that the sort of apocalyptic rhetoric that Donald Trump used all the time. And that`s how you end up with people justifying horrible things because those horrible things then become heroic acts of self-defense against impending doom, and someone like Donald Trump becomes a great hero who is standing in between you and annihilation, instead of a narcissist who enjoys being cruel to people who are weaker than he is.
HAYES: Yes. You`re right about -- I mean, there`s also that thrill, right, the sort of thrill of transgression which is a theme that sort of comes up throughout the book in that title essay as well. And, you know, someone I think, had used the term vice-signaling to refer to this sort of opposite of virtue signaling. But in some ways the transgression itself is a display of power. And I think we`ve seen that over and over.
SERWER: It`s a display of power. It`s a display of power, but it`s also a way to form community. And the sort of the deep politicize metaphor that I use is, you know, when you`re a kid, you know, in elementary school, or middle school, or something the cool kids are teasing another kid, you might join in because you want to be part of the cool kids or you might be afraid to say something about it because you don`t want to become the next target.
And what -- and that sort of teasing becomes a kind of community formation where the kids were teasing the kid who`s on the outside, you know, they form a bond through this act of transgression. They know they`re doing something bad, they know they`re doing something mean, but they`re also forming a line that says we`re us and he -- and they are them. And therefore anything us does is against them is justifies.
HAYES: you know, another place for that exact same sort of thinking shows up and there`s a great essay in here that had not been published previously about police unions where that that precise kind of us versus them thinking really flourishes both in rhetoric and an action in the way that police unions tend to talk to the public. And you basically make an argument in the essay that they should be abolished, they should not exist, why?
SERWER: Look, all unions advocate for their workers. The difference is that police unions, because they have the authority to use lethal force in order to protect the public, they have an interest in maintaining a level of impunity for that use of force against the public where they`re meant to protect. This not only undermines the community`s trust in them and makes it difficult for them to do their job, it also protects the officers who abuse those powers and silences other officers who might want to say, hey, this guy, you know, has a habit of getting out of line and hurting people or abusing his authority.
And in doing so, the unions cultivate a culture that views the public as the enemy rather than the people that they are meant to protect. And look, if we say, ultimate power corrupts absolutely. There`s no power more ultimate and the power over life and death. And, and without accountability for that kind of power, it necessarily develops a contempt for the public that it is meant to serve. And we understand this instinctively when it comes to governments, you know, we when we talk about non-democratic governments, we understand that authoritarian leaders are not beholden to the people and will abuse their powers precisely because they`re not -- they cannot be held accountable democratically.
And this is a kind of negative feedback loop that has been created where the police unions are mistrusted by the public, particularly elements of the public that suffer the most from high crime. And internally, you know, officers who abused their powers or who misbehave are protected from that misbehavior both by the structure of the system in which they work and by the fact that the officers who might speak up and say, hey, this guy probably shouldn`t have the kind of power he has would be silenced and ostracized by other members of their community in part because of the existence of the union.
HAYES: I got to say, your writing throughout this period has been a kind of moral beacon that I think that you very early on were very clear-eyed about the scope of the moral threat that was posed and not just by the specifics of Donald Trump or who he was, but by the movement and the urges in American life that gave rise to him. They haven`t gone anywhere, have they?
SERWER: No, I mean, like I said, this is a structural problem. This is a structural problem. And it`s a reflection of the racial and ideological and religious polarization of the two parties. And the important thing, and one of the things I want to get across most in the book is that the kind of arguments that we`re having now go right back to the founding. You know, the founding fathers said, all men were created equal, and then they wrote a constitution that protected property of men, protected the ownership of slaves.
And so, these unfulfilled promises of the Declaration of Independence of the of the founding promises of our country are a constant site of conflict because the people who are denied those promises, wants to be free, and they demand it.
HAYES: That`s right.
SERWER: And the people who do not want to extend those promises find new job applications for denying people the rights that they`re due under the Constitution. And Donald Trump is merely the latest manifestation of that. He did not invent this kind of politics. It long predates him. It`s been a part of both parties. And it`s just something that you know, we struggle with as Americans and will continue to, you know, regardless of what happens to him.
HAYES: The new book is called The Cruelty is the Point: The Past, Present, and Future of Trump`s America. It`s really excellent. It`s a great read for this summer. Check it out. It is out now. Adam Serwer, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
SERWER: Thank you so much.
HAYES: Don`t go anywhere. We`ve got much more to come on our supersized patriotic July 4th, July 5th edition of ALL IN. It continues right after this.