Under threat of impeachment and pressure from his own party, New York`s Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo steps down. Today, Mitch McConnell joined a whopping 18 other Republicans in supporting the bipartisan infrastructure bill which ended up clearing the Senate with a total of 69 votes. Florida parents are suing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over mask mandates ban. Democratic Governor Tony Evers vetoed six different Republican attempts to suppress the vote in his state.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: More people are going to die, a lot more businesses are going to close. If you want your restaurants open, if you want to go to Broadway, if you want to go to the theater, there is a way to do it. You don`t have to have FOMO. You can just freaking get vaccinated and stop believing conspiracy theories.
Xochitl Hinojosa, Tim Miller, thank you very much. That`s tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.
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MEHDI HASAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I am a fighter. And my instinct is to fight through this controversy.
HASAN: A shocking announcement from Andrew Cuomo.
CUOMO: My resignation will be effective in 14 days.
HASAN: Under threat of impeachment and pressure from his own party, New York`s Democratic governor steps down. Why does that never happen with Republicans? Then --
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After years and years of infrastructure week, we`re in the cusp of an infrastructure decade.
HASAN: A big bipartisan achievement for Biden, but can anything else get through the Senate? Plus --
GOV. TONY EVERS (D-WI): In many ways, Wisconsin has been at the forefront of the National Republican efforts to override the will of the people.
HASAN: I`ll speak to the Democratic governor of Wisconsin who just vetoed Republican efforts to undermine democracy in his state. And as COVID cases surge in Florida, parents are now suing Governor DeSantis to get their kids protected.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I don`t want to hear a bleep about COVID from you. Thank you.
HASAN: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HASAN (on camera): Good evening from Washington D.C. I`m Mehdi Hasan in for Chris Hayes. He was accused of sexual harassment and of being a toxic bully. He was at the helm as the COVID death toll skyrocketed. And now, he`s resigned. No, I`m not talking about Donald Trump, but rather the Democratic governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. After 10 years in office, Governor Cuomo was forced out under pressure from his own party.
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CUOMO: This situation, by its current trajectory, will generate months of political and legal controversy. That is what is going to happen.
I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing, and therefore that`s what I`ll do. My resignation will be effective in 14 days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HASAN: Now, this is certainly not the first time the governor has been embroiled in scandal. Just a few years into his administration, Cuomo is implicated in this case of corruption revealed by the New York Times. He allegedly ordered a commission that he set up tasked with rooting out corruption in New York state politics to withdraw their subpoena of a firm that worked for him. He basically ordered them to stop investigating corruption associated with him.
In response to his actions, the governor said that he had every right to monitor and direct the work of a commission he had created. But Cuomo brushed all that off and won reelection twice in 2014 and 2018. Then last spring, Cuomo became a national political star when New York was at the epicenter of the pandemic. His daily press briefings were must-see TV where the governor soothed people`s fears, told it like it is, and went after then-President Donald Trump.
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CUOMO: The President now says his own health officials are lying about the virus. His own CDC health officials are lying about the virus. Well, if the President is telling the truth, you know what he should do? He should fire them. Someone is clearly lying to the American people. And people are dying because of it.
Trump`s COVID scandal makes what Nixon did at Watergate look innocent.
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HASAN: But the adoration did not last long. Following months of concerns and accusations about deaths in New York nursing homes during the pandemic, the State Attorney General Letitia James released a report in January saying that the Cuomo administration failed to report thousands of deaths. And then came the barrage of sexual harassment allegations.
Lindsey Boylan, a former aide, was the first to accuse the governor in December of 2020. And between February and March of this year, at least eight more women came forward. The governor disputed the allegations, denied wrongdoing, and was determined to stay in office. But then, in March, New York`s Attorney General opened an investigation into the allegations and a bunch of prominent Democrats began calling for Cuomo to resign.
That list included both of New York`s U.S. senators, 18 of New York`s members of Congress, and the mayor of New York City. And just last week, the Attorney General`s Office finally released their report finding that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women and created a hostile work environment.
The calls from fellow Democrats for Cuomo to resign intensified coming from President Joe Biden on down. And one week later, here we are. Democrats put pressure on one of their own. A Democratic Attorney General opened up multiple investigations into the Democratic governor. And members of his own party finally held him accountable. And it worked.
Now, look, I believe top members of the Democratic Party both nationally and in New York should have to answer for how long they knew about Cuomo`s actions and whether they turned a blind eye to them. But as I say, eventually, when they turned up the heat, it worked.
It also worked with the previous two Democratic governors of New York, Eliot Spitzer who resigned amidst a sex worker scandal and David Patterson who bowed out in the face of allegations that he abused his office. And it worked with the former Democratic Attorney General of New York, Eric Schneiderman who resigned after four women accused him of physical abuse.
So, one rather important lesson from today`s shock resignation from Andrew Cuomo is the fact that the Democratic Party is still willing to take action against alleged offenders in its midst, unlike, wait for it, the other great political party in this country. I mean, Republicans have been all over the Andrew Cuomo story. But have they looked in the mirror recently?
Just take former Missouri Republican Governor Eric Greitens who resigned in 2018 amidst an ethics probe, two criminal charges, reports he had an affair, and allegations of blackmail. He`s now running again this time for the Senate and is the likely front runner to replace retiring GOP Senator Roy Blunt.
There`s Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio who`s faced multiple allegations that he turned a blind eye to sexual abuse by the Ohio State wrestling team physician while Jordan was the assistant coach. And yet Republicans continue to stand by him, even choosing him to be their ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee.
We have you even seen this on the Supreme Court. Clarence Thomas was confirmed despite Anita Hill`s accusation of sexual harassment. So was Brett Kavanaugh more recently after Christine Blasey Ford`s accusation of sexual assault. Not a single Republican voted no on Kavanaugh`s confirmation. Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida is currently, currently under investigation by the Department of Justice over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her to travel with him. Only one of his Republican colleagues, Congressman Adam Kinzinger, has called on him to resign. And Gaetz remains in office and on his committees.
And then of course, of course, just look at the former president who led an insurrection, was impeached twice, and has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than two dozen women. Republicans as a whole have never tried to hold him accountable for any of that. He remains the de facto leader of the party and their likely presidential candidate in 2024.
Now, Donald Trump and all these other Republican men have denied everything and refuse to acknowledge the validity of any of the allegations against them. They deny, deny, deny, and continue to have a future in their party. So, yes, today is a sad day for the Democratic Party. One of their stars, a man they were considering as a presidential candidate just a year ago, resigned in disgrace.
But you could say it`s a sadder day for American democracy because it`s a reminder that there are only consequences, there is only accountability for Democrats in our system, not for Republicans. Katie Hill is a former Democratic Congresswoman from California. She`s the founder of Her Time, a political action committee supporting women in politics, and author of She Will Rise: Becoming a Warrior in the Battle for True Equality. And Rebecca Traister is a writer at large for New York Magazine where she published this excellent investigative piece earlier this year about the allegations against Andrew Cuomo.
Thank you both for joining me, Katie, let me start with you. Where are we now in terms of the MeToo Movement in terms of standing up to sexual misconduct in public life? Did today move us forward?
KATIE HILL, FOUNDER, HER TIME: Look, I think it`s a really important line in the sand that has now been drawn, right, that we`ve been able to say this is not going to be tolerated by people in the highest positions of power, especially if you want votes from women, if you want votes from, you know, people who make up the Democratic base.
And I think that that`s, that`s meaningful, but it`s not enough because what we have to recognize is that harassment of women is an extension of violence against women. And that`s a much more pervasive problem. That`s something that, you know, all of these lawmakers can call for resignation but if they don`t do something basic like pass the Violence Against Women Act, you know, we`re big on bipartisanship, this is all the talk in the Senate, if they`re not willing to do something like that, their words calling for resignation, the people stepping aside for scandals, it`s just -- it just is not enough.
So, I think we really need to shift the conversation towards what are meaningful actions that are going to address this widespread epidemic of violence against women.
HASAN: It is an epidemic. And you`re right to talk about the need to move the conversation forward. Rebecca, it`s also a political day, a very political day. So, let me ask you a very political question. Is this the end of the legendary Cuomo political dynasty in New York? People today are already talking about him running again, in the future if he can dodge getting impeached and barred from office.
REBECCA TRAISTER, WRITER AT LARGE, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: I was going to say, when you pointed to the fact that Donald Trump may in fact have a future with his party, I don`t think it`s at all unthinkable that Andrew Cuomo will continue to have -- Cuomo who, in my reporting, I found and I think lots of people would agree with this, to have a lot of Trumpian characteristics.
This is not a guy who heard the criticism from his party and just stepped down like a good soldier and took responsibility for his actions. He was denying an incredibly unpleasant ways right up through today that he did anything wrong. He was offering really offensive defenses. I mean, when you ran through that timeline, consider that the people in his party were calling for him to step aside in March, and it is now August.
And he has hung in despite people including the two senators from his state suggesting that he stepped aside months ago, the President in his own party, President Joe Biden said he thought he should step down a week ago. He`s hung on a week. And I believe he would have hung on if he had found any path.
And in fact, you know, as other people have speculated already today, that it is entirely possible that he thinks if he steps away and dodges impeachment and removal from office, that he will have a political future. So, I don`t -- I think he is much more Trumpian and not necessarily the like, responsible Democratic, you know, official taking responsibility for his actions.
So, yes, I can see a future with Andrew Cuomo who has -- who is absolutely wedded to his own authority and his own power.
HASAN: I think, Rebecca, you`re reporting on this does stand up the idea that he is very Trumpian. I guess the point that I was making earlier is that whether or not he went willingly, or whether he was a good soldier, in the end, he saw that there were the votes for his own impeachment. And he saw the pressure that was coming his way, and that hasn`t happened in the Republican Party. We had two impeachment trials and Donald Trump got through both of them.
And, Katie, you have a unique perspective on this given the way you ended up resigning from Congress. What do you make of the Democratic -- "Republican double standard" when it comes to holding their bad actors accountable?
HILL: I think we see now there is absolutely no comparison. I mean, the fact that he went through it, all right, the fact that Matt Gaetz is still there, still on his committees. The fact that, you know, Eric Greitens is running again (AUDIO GAP) is not -- it`s not even an issue. It`s excused, it`s -- you know, it`s basically pushed under the rug. And that`s the same thing that we`ve seen for so long for all people in power on both sides.
And now, we finally, you know, decades after decades, have seen this shift on the -- on the Democratic side. And -- but, you know, Rebecca is right. It doesn`t mean that it`s going to -- it`s going to immediately go away, and we have to constantly be on the lookout for what -- are we -- are we holding ourselves accountable. And that`s one of the big reasons that I decided to resign was that, you know, I can`t stand here and say that, you know, one thing is right and make sure that my actions -- I need to make sure that my actions hold up to that.
And, you know, it`s a tough decision, but ultimately, I didn`t have people -- it was my own decision. It wasn`t people who were calling for it. And I think that`s a big difference.
HILL: And when we see Republicans not even coming close to.
HASAN: I think it`s one of the things that frustrates American voters more than anything else, the lack of accountability in public life. Rebecca, why do you think it was the AG`s report that seemed to be the straw that broke the camel`s back? Do we still just not believe credible accusations from multiple women against men in power especially popular Democratic men in power?
TRAISTER: Well, I think a lot of people did believe those accusations. There was a lot of reporting done in the spring. And of course, there had been an AG`s report on the cover up of the nursing home deaths that in some way happened coterminously and in some ways precipitated some of the reporting on the bullying and the sort of penchant for lying and cover up and ineptitude within the Cuomo administration.
This is an administration and a governor who`d gotten away over years with doing a performance of capability. And that`s what you saw on television at those briefings all last year through COVID and had done a real sort of theatrical of being in charge and people really responded -- voters responded warmly to that. And yet, what we learned is that all of that was built on kind of err on lies.
And there`s been so much reporting that people have believed on the cases of sexualized abuse and harassment, of bullying and professional misconduct, certainly, of cover-up and lying, some of the corruption that has been -- that has been a part of the Cuomo administration for years. I think it was the volume of all that stuff that really took hold amongst his fellow Democrats and lawmakers.
But the other thing is that we now have that in official investigation. This was a remarkable document that Tish James` office put together. You know, it`s 170 pages. There was something like 70,000 primary sources. They interviewed so many people. It was so thorough. It was absolutely -- it was implausible that you could simply deny it, although, of course, the governor did deny it today over and over again.
So, yes, I think there was -- it was sort of you couldn`t argue with this document. It is so vastly well put together and reported and it came out of the attorney general`s office. It was that investigation that people are always calling for that gets put in a different category from the journalism which of course, if done well, is also thorough investigation.
HASAN: Yes, it is. And Katie, I`m trying to walk a tight rope tonight. On the one hand, I do want to acknowledge the Democratic Party got together and finally push this guy out. On the other hand, I mean, you`re a former elected member of the Democratic Party in Congress. The Democratic Party also enabled him for many years. There is an argument that many top officials knew what Cuomo was like and let him get away with it for a long time, kept endorsing him every time an election came around.
HILL: Yes. I think that there`s is an inherent tendency to protect people in power. The longer they`ve been in power, the more entrenched they are. There`s -- the more people they have who are going to kind of come to their defense. And that`s a -- that`s a fundamental reality that we`re dealing with. And that`s why it makes it so difficult to go after people like this and to ultimately make sure that people are held accountable.
But I think it`s -- it is big that we`ve seen the tide turn. And it`s significant that we`ve had this happened today, that there`s there is this true marker of, you know, the one of the most powerful people in any of the states is finally having to be -- having to step down. And again, it`s not enough by itself, but it`s an important step in the right direction. And I hope that we actually see real action on, you know, meaningful protections for women in the workplace, and in their day-to-day lives.
HASAN: An important step in the right direction. We`ll have to leave it there. Katie Hill and Rebecca Traister, thank you so much for your time tonight. I appreciate it.
Until it actually passed, it seemed impossible.
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BIDEN: This bill shows that we can work together. I know a lot of people, some sitting in the audience here didn`t think this could happen. This bill is declared dead more often than anyway.
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HASAN: Somehow, 19 Republicans including the Senate Minority Leader actually voted for a major bill from a Democratic president. But does the success of the infrastructure bill do anything to help pass the rest of the Biden agenda? That`s next. Don`t go away.
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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): If I`m still the majority leader of the Senate, think of me as the Grim Reaper. None of that stuff is going to pass, none of it.
For the first time in my memory, I agree with Nancy Pelosi. I am indeed the Grim Reaper when it comes to the socialist agenda that they`ve been ginning up over the House.
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HASAN: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has long fancied himself as the Grim Reaper of the Senate, killing all of the Democrats` political priorities in the upper chamber. Well, not today, Mitch. Today, even McConnell joined a whopping 18 other Republicans in supporting the bipartisan infrastructure bill which ended up clearing the Senate with a total of 69 votes.
After months of skepticism that President Joe Biden could shepherd this major bipartisan legislation through an evenly divided Senate, today he took a victory lap from the White House.
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BIDEN: I want to thank a group of senators, Democrats and Republicans, for doing what they told me they would do. They said they`re willing to work in a bipartisan manner. And I want to thank them for keeping their word.
After years and years of infrastructure week, we`re on the cusp of an infrastructure decade that I truly believe will transform America.
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HASAN: It was a hard-fought and frankly surprising win for the White House. But infrastructure, you could say, was the low-hanging fruit. It`s unlikely the President`s other priorities will get any significant Republican support, which is why Democrats are already making moves to pass their $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill which takes meaningful steps on issues like healthcare and the climate, and can become law without any Republican votes just by a simple majority. But can they succeed in getting it through?
Joining me now is John Podesta. He`s the founder and director of the Center for American Progress. He previously served as White House Chief of Staff under President Bill Clinton and is counselor to President Barack Obama where he oversaw climate policy in the White House.
John, thanks for coming on the show this evening. You did serve under Barack Obama. Let me start by asking you this. Why couldn`t he ever get a deal like this on a huge issue like this? Is today`s win a product of Joe Biden being an ex-senator who loves bipartisanship, gets along with Republicans? Or is it, as some argue, because he isn`t a Black man who was accused of being born in Kenya?
JOHN PODESTA, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, look, I think there`s a lot in that question. And it`s good to be back on with you, so thanks for the opportunity. I think that what a Biden had was both a decade of lack of progress on infrastructure behind him and a dedication to try to find bipartisan solution.
Often during the Obama administration, when you needed to make a final deal, it was Joe Biden that went up to the Hill to negotiate with Mitch McConnell or the Republican leadership in the House to see if they could find common ground. And he did that through the course of this infrastructure debate. It`s an important victory for the President. It`s an important statement about his tenacity at trying to find common ground which he promised in the election.
But there`s also what comes next because a lot of what the President called for during the campaign proposed in the America jobs plan is still left on the table, still left to do what the Senate is just turned its attention to, which is the budget process and ultimately a reconciliation bill that will make the important investments in climate change.
HASAN: John, you`re right to say it`s an important victory for the President. It is. But I wonder if I`m being cynical here. Does it also set a dangerous precedent for the White House and for Senate Democrats that they keep going for bipartisan bills in the Senate, even though we all know you can`t protect voting rights for American democracy itself, unless you do it in a partisan way, unless you get rid of the Senate filibuster and pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act?
PODESTA: Well, I am certainly for that and think that the filibuster needs to give way to the assault on voting rights, the New Jim Crow as President Obama said, in order to pass those vital pieces of legislation. But I think the White House had a smart strategy here. They understood that if you started with this bipartisan bill, you`d build support amongst particularly the Senate moderates and some moderates in the House as well, to move forward with the big reconciliation package, which really attacks the climate problem, which as we saw this week with the new IPCC report, we have got to get our attention turned to making the investments that are going to stop our crisis from turning into calamity.
HASAN: So, you mentioned climate change and the IPCC report. You oversaw climate policy under President Obama. Given the IPCC report yesterday which warns that in many ways we`re already past the point of no return and that, "many changes due to past and future greenhouse gas emissions are irreversible for centuries to millennia. Is there a proper sense of urgency here, John?
I mean, the climate money in the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill, that`s great. But it`s not enough. It`s nowhere near enough given the urgency, given the scale of the challenge. Surely you accept that.
PODESTA: Well, I think that the important investments the President has put forward which will -- I actually think boost the economy, create jobs, it`s a positive opportunity. Also, it will reduce emissions by a substantial degree. I think the combination of the tax credits for clean vehicles and clean power, together with the clean energy standard, which has now got a new fancy name called this Clean Energy Performance Payment, those things together will both reduce emissions in the power sector by 80 percent, which is what we need to meet the President`s target of cutting emissions in half by 2030. That`s what the IPCC call for as well.
And it`ll boost the biggest growing sector of emissions in transportation by going from what we have now, which is about two percent electric vehicles in new car sales to 50 percent which, again, the President noted with the auto execs last week. They can hit as long as these provisions are passed.
But time is of the essence. It`s now in Congress`s hands. Are they going to go forward with this, past the reconciliation package, make these investments, save us from the cataclysmic effects of climate change, or will it stall. And right now, I think it`s -- you know, it`s better than 50-50 that it`ll pass but you need every single Democrat essentially voting for this?
HASAN: Yes, every single Democrat including Joe Manchin of West Virginia who loves his coal and fossil fuels. I do hope you`re right that it`s better than 50-50. I guess time will --
PODESTA: We need both AOC and Joe Manchin. You can`t -- you can`t lose either one, you know. So it`s --
HASAN: You can lose either one. Let`s see what happens. I hope that needle is threaded for the sake of all of us. John Podesta, thank you for your time in your analysis tonight. I appreciate it.
PODESTA: Thank you.
HASAN: The headlines have been terrifying, makeshift morgues outside hospitals and overflow tents for COVID patients and states begging for ventilators from the federal government. Hospitals at full capacity with elective surgeries cancelled, massive staffing shortages and hospitals dealing with COVID.
You know what -- you want to know what`s really scary? All those familiar headlines on the screen, they aren`t from last spring, they`re from right now. This is all happening again in states like Florida and Texas with GOP governors who play fast and loose with this pandemic. That`s next.
HASAN: Former President Ronald Reagan famously said something back in 1986 that Republicans haven`t stopped talking about since.
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RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think you all know that I`ve always felt the nine most terrifying words in the English language are I`m from the government and I`m here to help.
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HASAN: 35 years ago, that was a good punch line, used to get a laugh while attacking Democratic voters for receiving so-called government handouts. But over the years, Reagan`s funny rhetorical flourish has weirdly become the defining ideology and operating principle of the Republican Party.
When Florida Governor Ron De Santis was asked about reports that his state health officials facing a COVID surge, were requesting 300 ventilators from the federal government, he said "I would honestly doubt that that`s true. But I`ll look." Texas Republican governor Greg Abbott talks a similar game. Last month while explaining why he won`t implement statewide safety precautions to slow the spread of the virus, he said "We`re past the time of government mandates. We`re into the time for personal responsibility." And yet yesterday, the governor appealed for out of state help as the Delta wave continues to overwhelm Texas hospitals.
It`s interesting to see Republican governors setting aside their anti- government principles to accept a few handouts. And that`s because government is not the problem in a public health crisis. It`s the solution unless, of course, the federal government is controlled by parties and Republicans.
Last year, when New York and other Democratic-led states were hit hard by COVID, there was concerned that the Trump White House was playing politics in its response. Eventually, reporting would bear this out. Vanity Fair wrote that when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the White House desperate for supplies, Donald Trump`s son in law, Jared Kushner, who had taken on a key role in the response said, and I quote, "Cuomo didn`t pound the phones hard enough to get PPE for his state. His people are going to suffer and that`s their problem."
Another Vanity Fair piece specifically highlighted how the Trump White House saw COVID as a strictly blue state problem, quote, most troubling of all perhaps was a sentiment the experts said a member of Kushner`s team expressed that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors. And that would be an effective political strategy.
Shameful, truly shameful, and yet right now, we have exactly the reverse situation. We have all of these red states in dire need of help, and a blue president eager to help them.
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BIDEN: I say to these governors, please help. If you`re not going to help, at least get out of the way. The people are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.
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HASAN: I have to ask, what`s worse, small government Republican ideologues who let kids die because they refuse to work with the tyrannical federal government and their evil CDC, or small government Republican hypocrites who quietly asked for federal government help, but only after it`s too late for many of their own sick constituents?
Coming up, a group of parents in Florida are suing governor Ron DeSantis trying to protect their kids from his reckless COVID policies. One of them joins me next.
HASAN: For many students in Florida, today was the first day of school. At the same time, Florida has more kids hospitalized with COVID than anywhere in the country. At least 172 children are currently being treated. And it`s not just kids. 47 percent of staffed ICU beds in the state have Coronavirus patients in them, the highest percentage in the U.S.
You would think that a COVID crisis like that would incentivize the governor to change his behavior and encouraged measures that would reduce transmission like vaccines, like masks. But instead, Florida Republican governor Ron DeSantis is standing by his executive order against mask mandates in schools and he`s threatening to withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who defy that order.
But now, some Florida families are fighting back. A group of parents across the state are suing the governor on behalf of their children saying his order is unconstitutional. Alisha Todd is one of those parents. Her 10- year-old son attends a special needs school in Palm Beach County where social distancing isn`t possible, but where masks have helped prevent the spread of illness in the past. And she joins me now.
Alisha, thanks so much for coming on the show. Today was the first day of school in the Palm Beach County school system which your son attends. Did he go to school in person today? How was it?
ALISHA TODD, SUING GOV. DESANTIS OVER MASK MANDATE: He did not. My son actually has multiple medical conditions that his doctor`s advice put him in extreme medical risk where he to be infected with COVID. He recently had brain surgery and is extremely vulnerable. I`m not willing to put my son at risk.
But the bigger picture here really is that the governor shouldn`t be willing to put any of the kids in Florida at risk. Last year, we had mask mandates in place with students whose school, navigated those mandates beautifully.
HASAN: Yes. When you talk about your son being at risk, and got multiple issues, and you as a parent, obviously have to prioritize his safety. I have to ask though, do you believe Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, does he actually care about your child`s health or is this all just politics to him in your view?
TODD: If the service cared about the health care of the children in Florida, he would have followed the medical advice of the expert -- the expert advice of medical experts and the CDC. He`s done the opposite to score political points. And what`s more insulting is that he`s fundraising off of it as well. He`s basically proud of the way that he`s put my son at risk and it`s shameful.
HASAN: It is indeed shameful. Tell us about the lawsuit, Alisha, that you and other parents are filing against Governor DeSantis. What can that achieve?
TODD: Sure. So, Governor DeSantis signed the executive order that prohibits schools from putting massive mandates in place. If they do, they`ll lose their funding. This goes obviously against all the CDC guidelines as the COVID cases are surging in our community.
I joined with other parents because children like mine who have disabilities, they make them -- it makes them more susceptible to injury or death and they`re at greater risk. They can`t attend school under this policy. It`s basically put children like my son in an impossible situation. They`re unable to take precautions and protective action and they risk exposure at school by other unmasked children.
And our hope with the executive order is that we`ll get a ruling that will rule that unconstitutional and we will be able to get at least this the school systems to put in mass maybe it`s in place.
HASAN: Today, President Biden talked about governors interfering in school masking decisions. Governors like DeSantis. Here`s what he said. Have a listen.
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BIDEN: I find it interesting as some of the very people are saying that hold government positions are people who are threatening that if a school teacher asks the student if they`ve been vaccinated or if a principal says that everyone in my school should wear a mask or a school board votes for it, that governor will nullify that. That governor has the authority to say you can`t do that. I find that totally counterintuitive, and quite frankly disingenuous.
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HASAN: Alisha, the White House today said it was looking to see if schools affected by the masked mandate ban could be financially compensated. Do you think the President is doing enough? What`s your message to Joe Biden if he`s watching tonight.
TODD: President Biden has taken the pandemic seriously since before he was elected. And he really came at a time that we needed a president who would do that. But today, I saw his press secretary say if elected officials can`t help keep people safe, then they should get out of the way, just as we heard him say in that clip as well.
They`ve already sent sort of extra medical supplies and ventilators because of the surgeon`s cases in our state and we`re grateful for that. I just hope none of those ventilators will be necessary for children who catch COVID at school because of the governor`s breakfast policy.
HASAN: Alisha, I keep hearing from politicians like DeSantis and Greg Abbott in Texas that this is about choice. Let parents choose. Let people be free. And it`s a kind of selfish attitude because children don`t have any choice especially unvaccinated kids under 12. How hard has this pandemic been especially this recent chapter of the pandemic being for you, for your son, for your family?
TODD: It`s been extremely difficult on us honestly. I mean, my son just wants to be in school and wants to be with other kids. And, you know, while he`s saying it`s about choice, he`s eliminated the choices for me and for my family and for my son. So, I don`t really see where we get a choice because our choices is putting my son`s very life at risk.
HASAN: Yes, it`s just -- it`s just crazy. I cannot believe that elected politicians in this country are willing to put kids at risk to score political points. But I appreciate you, Alisha, for standing up and speaking out and for coming on the show tonight. Thank you so much. Please do stay safe and I hope your son stays safe.
TODD: Thank you for having me.
HASAN: Up next, the fight to save democracy in Wisconsin and by extension in America. The Democratic governor who just vetoed six different Republican attempts to suppress the vote in his state joins me live. That`s next. Do not go away.
HASAN: If there is one thing Republicans have been fixated on since November, it`s making voting in the 2022 and 2024 elections as hard as possible. The Brennan Center for Justice has found "between January 1 and may 14 of 2021, at least 14 states enacted 22 new laws that restrict access to the vote." The United States is on track to far exceed its most recent period of significant voter suppression, 2011.
And we have seen those attempts to restrict access to the vote play out on the ground. Earlier this summer, Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature passed a series of bills restricting who can return absentee ballots, requiring elderly and disabled voters to send in IDs to request an absentee ballot and prohibiting clerks from correcting defects on absentee ballot envelopes.
But today, Wisconsin`s Democratic Governor Tony Evers vetoed those bills, saying, "In recent years, we`ve been used as a petri dish for Republican plans to undermine democracy. Well, not anymore." And Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers joins me now.
Governor, thanks so much for coming on the show this evening. Tell me about these bills you vetoed today. What were Republicans trying to do and why was it so important for you to veto them?
EVERS: Well, they go to the heart of democracy, Mehdi. And thanks for having me tonight. And it was I did this with great pleasure, but also great thoughtfulness. What they propose comes to the heart of our democracy which is -- which is voting. And you mentioned several the issues that the Republicans took up.
Now, the irony here though is this. Many of these items became law or became practice by Republicans. Suddenly they have an election where things didn`t go their way and now it`s part of voter fraud. All that is frankly baloney. And I was very happy to be able to make sure that the absentee -- we have a strong absentee ballot situation here in the state of Wisconsin, and we`re now keeping it. And the same thing as it relates to all number of -- number of bills that they put together.
But this is just the beginning. These six bills are just the beginning. I proud -- I pride myself in being pro-democracy and I assume everybody in the country is that way. But these bills were not pro-democracy.
HASAN: Governor, there`s been a lot of reporting, a lot of reporting recently that the White House thinks they can out-organize Republican voter suppression, that they can still win with higher turnout come 2022 say. When you look at places like Wisconsin with its legendary gerrymandering where Democrats won the majority of votes in the state elections in 2018, but only a minority of seats in the legislature, that is clearly not the case. You can`t out organize a gerrymander, can you?
And I wonder, have you told the White House that? Have you told them what happened in Wisconsin? Why aren`t Senate Democrats, Democrats in D.C. listening?
EVERS: Well, I have -- I`ve made that clear to our own -- our own senators. There`s no question about that. We need some help from the federal government. But even with the gerrymandering piece, I think we`re going to be in a pretty good place here in Wisconsin. We are able to work hard in the last election with Joe Biden here to make sure that Republicans cannot override my veto on these important issues. And as a result of that, I feel confident that we`re going to be in a good place going forward.
But obviously, there are states all across this country that do not have Democratic governors and do have Republican legislators -- legislatures that are in the majority. And, you know, around voting, it shouldn`t look any different in Florida as it doesn`t in Wisconsin. And so, we have to make sure that every state has the ability to make sure that they`re having -- giving eligible people the right to vote. And that that is -- that is a national issue. But I feel confident here in Wisconsin we`re going to be in a good place.
HASAN: You were asked today, Governor, whether two Wisconsin county should comply with Republican subpoenas to turn over their ballots and voting equipment. What was your response to those subpoenas?
EVERS: Well, I think I said, if they asked you what would you say? And I said, hell no. I mean, it`s pretty simple. First of all, it was a subpoena that was issued by someone who didn`t then have the authority to do it. And second of all, it was from a legislator who went down to Arizona and watched what a farcical thing was going on in that state and wants to bring it here in Wisconsin.
So, yes, I`m very confident that the two counties will refuse this request, this bogus request, and -- but the unfortunate thing, it will end up in court, and so we`re going to spend taxpayers money to essentially make sure that democracy continues to happen. But it is this outraged by a handful of Republican legislators who frankly are still dreaming that Donald Trump won, have kissed the ring. And so now, this is -- this is their way of solving that.
HASAN: Governor, let`s talk COVID. 68 percent of Wisconsinites over 18 years old have gotten one dose of the vaccine. That`s actually lower than the 71 percent in Florida which is in the middle of a major outbreak. What are you doing to encourage more people in your state to get vaccinated and what is holding them back?
EVERS: Well, it`s a number of factors and that`s the complexity here. Yes, we led the nation for several weeks when we had lots of people that wanted to make sure that they got their shots in arms and we were we were very, very successful. It has plateaued, we`re still -- we`re still reaching out to people as much as we can.
Now, I just have to remind everybody that my ability to require mask at the state level was taken away by the state Supreme Court. And so, there`s a limited things that I can do. But at the end of the day, you know, we`re going to have schools that are going to be safe. We have several of our school districts in the state that have already made that decision, a local decision, and held by, you know, local school boards are saying.
Yes, we need to have everybody masking up. Yes, we need to make sure things go well here. We need to get kids back in school. No question about that. But school districts are stepping up. But am I concerned? Absolutely. And I`ve said this a lot of times and it is going to be hand to hand combat now. It`s individuals that many of them, frankly, are reticent because they`re not part of a healthcare system. And frankly, they need an extra push.
And so, I`m encouraging everybody in the state of Wisconsin to go through their elect -- their mental Rolodex and find those people that they know have not been vaccinated and reach out. It`s not going to happen because of the Milwaukie Bucks, or the governor of the state, or the Milwaukee Brewers are encouraging people to do it. It`s going to be friends and neighbors that are going to be making this happen in our state. But I feel confident about our schools being in a good place going forward.
HASAN: Governor Evers, what do you make of your fellow governors in Texas and Florida, Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, the way they`re behaving so recklessly? Do you believe they have blood on their hands? A lot of people are dying in those states who don`t have to die.
EVERS: Yes. And especially discouraging as it relates to schools and that`s -- that is my background. And when you`re telling that -- telling your local school districts that they cannot protect their kids the way they want to, they cannot do something that the parents of that school district wants, it seems counterproductive frankly. And we should be -- we should be in a better place than that. And I believe at the end of the day, it is causing more deaths and it is -- it is causing more sickness.
HASAN: It`s awful. It`s awful to watch. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, we`ll have to leave it there. Thank you so much for your time tonight.
EVERS: Thank you.
HASAN: That`s ALL IN on this Tuesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.