President Joe Biden directed his secretary of Education to take actions against Republican governors who are banning masks in schools, using the department`s oversight powers and potentially even legal action. Gov. Inslee revives the state mask mandate and mandates vaccine for school workers. Texas Supreme Court blocks the Gov. Abbott`s mask ban. Alabama Hospital Association in Wednesday said that there were negative 29 intensive care unit beds available in the entire state. Suspect in D.C. bomb threat surrenders after hours of standoff. Online sedition hunters are helping the FBI in the January 6 probe. Emergency evacuations continue in Afghanistan.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: They are tonight`s absolute worst.
And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.
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ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, we`re not going to sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators protecting our children.
MAXWELL: The push to protect kids, both from COVID-19 and from the governors who ban masks in schools.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like the governor is definitely trying to make a political statement and my daughter and other kids are just the collateral damage to that political statement.
MAXWELL: Tonight, the backlash to the people playing politics with the pandemic.
Then, the mad rush to evacuate Afghanistan as the Taliban blocks the Airport road. And the escalating threat of right-wing terrorism as a Trump extremist threatens to blow up his truck in Washington D.C. when ALL IN starts now.
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MAXWELL (on camera): Good evening from Washington D.C. I`m Zerlina Maxwell in for Chris Hayes. We are seeing a backlash around the country to red states bans on mask mandates especially in schools. In Texas, the Paris School District is defying Republican Governor Greg Abbott`s ban by face -- by adding face coverings to their dress codes. And they are just one of the many districts taking on the governor.
In South Carolina, several districts including Charleston County are requiring masks despite a state ban. And in Florida`s largest district, Miami Dade, the school board voted to approve a mask mandate in defiance of an executive order from their Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. Alachua County in the northern part of the state is also enforcing a mass mandate. I`ll talk to the superintendent of that district later in the show.
It`s the same story over and over and over. Republican governments put these nonsensical regulations into place in spite of warnings from public health officials and experts. And they know the regulations are complete and total nonsense and will be challenged. They`re doing it for political reasons and even in some cases, because of pure greed.
Like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who has been promoting an antibody treatment that his top donor invested in. The governor`s pro-COVID policies have certainly created plenty of customers for that. Now, some Republicans are starting to face the reality that`s staring us all in the face. As they see cases go through the roof of this Delta Variant, they`re expressing regret for the choices they made for political reasons.
Take a listen to the Republican Governor of Arkansas talking about the ban on mass mandates that he signed earlier this year.
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GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): I signed it at the time because our cases were at a very low point. I knew that it would be overridden by the legislature if I didn`t sign it. And I was not supportive of minority -- eliminated our statewide masked mandate. And so, you know, I signed it for those reasons that our cases were at a low point. Everything is changed now.
And yes, in hindsight, I wish that had not become law. But it is the law and the only chance we have is either to amend it or for the courts to say that it has an unconstitutional foundation.
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MAXWELL: That governor may not be able to do anything about it, but the federal government is going to try. This week, President Joe Biden directed his secretary of education to take actions against Republican governors who are banning masks in schools, using the department`s oversight powers and potentially even legal action.
Meanwhile, the new school year is starting in many states across the country and a lot of parents are upset and afraid.
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MISTY RUSSEL, PARENT: When I was walking away from dropping my daughter off, I was literally almost in tears thinking is this the right thing? Because you kind of know that these people are not recognizing the risk that`s going on here. It`s almost like knowing the house is going to catch on fire, but we`re going to let our kids sit in there and burn.
I feel like the governor is definitely trying to make a political statement and my daughter and other kids are just the collateral damage to that political statement.
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MAXWELL: I want to bring in Governor Jay Inslee, Democrat of Washington State who just instituted a vaccine mandate for all school employees in his state and also brought back an indoor mask mandate. Thank you so much for being here, Governor.
GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): Thanks for having me.
MAXWELL: So, these are among the strictest mandates in the entire country. Why did you decide to implement them now?
INSLEE: Well, there`s two things that we care deeply about. There`s -- that is we want our schools open because we know our kids need to be in school this year, and we want them safe when they`re in school. And there are two tools that are absolutely necessary to achieve both of those ends. Those are masks on our children and the people around them. And those are vaccinations on the people who serve them, our educators, our bus drivers.
It would be the height of irresponsibility not to use both of those tools to protect our children. These children are now showing up in our emergency rooms in greater numbers. Just 10 minutes ago, I was reading an article about a 9-year-old child who is struggling for breath. Think about that, a child nine years of old -- of age struggling for breath because adults would not wear a mask or get vaccinated that was safe, effective, and free. I cannot understand why people think that is fulfilling our responsibility to our children.
So, we have adopted common-sense measures that will have masks, that we know that work and we know kids can deal with them. These kids are pretty resilient. They know how to get through this. And they`ve done it better than adults, actually. And also, a vaccine requirement for our educators and our nurses and doctors and for our state employees.
Because you know what people say, well, this is just about my health. That`s just wrong. It`s about everybody`s health. These are contagious diseases. Sure, if you don`t want to treat your cancer and your heart attack, that might be up to you. But it is not right in this country to not try to prevent a transmission of a contagious disease.
George Washington for goodness sakes, got his army vaccinated. So, these are common-sense measures. They might be the strictest, but I see Oregon has now joined us on these. California and New York have versions of this. I think you`re going to see people join us, unfortunately, because of the terrible toll this has taken on our families.
MAXWELL: In terms of those bus drivers and nurses and teachers that work in schools, if they don`t comply with the mandate to get vaccinated, are they going to lose their jobs?
INSLEE: Unfortunately, yes. We don`t want that to do -- to do -- that to happen. Look, we love these teachers. We love bus drivers. We love custodians. Custodians, frequently, are the most loved person in the school, and they`re pivotal and part of the educational team. So, we want to keep everybody who`s doing this great work. And there is no reason not to get these vaccines, except if you have some medical situation. There`s also a religious exemption for actual -- sincere actual beliefs. But otherwise, there`s no reason not to do it.
And we don`t think people are going to walk away from these careers when they have a chance to think about this. And the reason is, the evidence is so compelling. It`s compelling that we`ve had over 300 million doses safely, 165 million people. There`s no reason not to get this vaccine. And frankly, once people have to make a decision of losing their career and a paycheck or having a simple, safe, and effective vaccine, we think people are going to stay. We want them to stay. We want to continue educating our kids with these teams. It`s very important for all of us.
But if they don`t, you know, they will have to find other work. And they won`t be eligible for unemployment compensation either. So, we think there will be some mature, serious discussions in families. We will keep our schools open, and we will keep our great educators that we love and respect. And we`re going to save a lot of lives in the interim.
MAXWELL: Well, we`ve had vaccine mandates forever in a variety of contexts. I remember my first week of college needing to get a meningitis vaccine. So, this is nothing new.
INSLEE: That`s right.
MAXWELL: In terms of -- in terms of the Republican governors who are on the other side of the spectrum from you in terms of their COVID response, they`re going against the science. They`re actually banning people from being able to even implement mascon vaccine mandates. You`re leaning into the science to keep people safe. Why did you decide to lean into what the science says for us to do?
INSLEE: Well, that`s because we know it works. Look, science works. It`s why jets work. It`s why, you know, our cars work. Science works and it`s worked for us. We`ve had probably the fourth lowest per capita death rate in our state because we have followed science. And the science is so abundantly clear. It`s like gravity. It`s inarguable. Masks work. They cut the rate of transmission. This has been a very well-established fact.
Now, it doesn`t take understanding of quantum physics to understand why. It blocks transmission because of this thin barrier, which allows us to do what we normally do. Look, the other part of this, we don`t want to shut down our businesses. You know, when we started this, we shut down our whole economy and our schools. We do not want to go that route. Instead, we want to use these scientifically credible tools, one of which is mask.
And on the vaccine front, there is hardly something that has been proven more safe, more effective, and now universally available than these vaccines. But unfortunately, people have heard a lot of misinformation on the internet. And I hope everybody who might be listening tonight will step up and be a leader and talk to your relatives and the people you love and your co-workers about what`s really the truth about these vaccines.
They work, they`re effective, we haven`t had adverse impacts. If we all embrace each other, I think we`re going to get more people vaccinated. Science works. That`s why we follow it.
MAXWELL: Science checks out. That`s what my dad always says. He`s a biologist. Governor Jay Inslee, thank you -- thank you so much for being here tonight.
INSLEE: You bet.
MAXWELL: And please stay safe.
INSLEE: Be well.
MAXWELL: In Florida, corona -- thank you. You too. In Florida, coronavirus cases are rapidly increasing, as you can see on here on the right side of your screen. They`re averaging more than 20,000 new cases every single day. The state`s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed an executive order to protect parent`s right to make decisions regarding masking of their children, threatening school districts with actions including but not limited to withholding state funds.
Now, five counties are defying the governor and imposing mask mandates for their schools. Dr. Carlee Simon is the superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools in Florida, one of those districts mandating masks for students and she joins me now.
So, why did you decide to do this? Why did you decide to defy Governor Ron DeSantis and his effort to not allow folks to implement these types of mass mandates in schools?
DR. CARLEE SIMON, SUPERINTENDENT, ALACHUA COUNTY INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: Well, I don`t think we were really focused on defying the governor. What we were focused on was being able to run our school system and make sure that we reduce the transmission of COVID as well as reduce our quarantining.
And so, it started with us having this mandate just for employees and visitors. But the next day, the board did vote four-zero to unanimously decide to mask everyone, because we knew that this Delta Variant`s transmission is very fast. It`s going through our student body already right now quite a bit. We have an exponential increase in the rising of our positive cases.
We have over 1000 students right now that are quarantined. We have over 200 positive cases of students and over 50 positive cases for our staff. We need to be able to run a public education system and we need to make it face to face. And so that`s how we came to this point with having this decision.
Just this past Tuesday, our board did vote to extend again a 4-0 unanimous vote. They extended the mask mandate another eight weeks. So, we will have 10 total weeks where we`re making sure that we`re keeping our COVID numbers as controlled as we possibly can and reducing our quarantine time as much as we possibly can as well.
MAXWELL: Yesterday, the Biden administration announced a number of things that they`re doing to essentially put more pressure on states in a variety of different ways so that schools are able to keep their students safe. What support do you specifically need from the Biden administration to maintain the mandate you put in place given the pressure that you`re likely going to face from the governor and other political forces?
SIMON: Well, of course, we need the support from the federal government to just help us continue to do business and continue to run our school systems so we can provide this face to face education. I think there is a level of support we`re going to need that has, you know, political influence, as well as legal influence. But we also are looking at, you know, again, some of the concerns with just how faster cases are going, how the Department of Health is responding. We do have a shortage of nurses. And that makes testing our students a challenge as well as just the response time of having you know, the results from our testing to get students back into the classroom.
So, there`s multiple facets of the types of supports that we could really benefit from the federal government. So, I`m so appreciative that they are -- they`re watching and engaging, and they have let us know that we have their support, and we`re very thankful for that.
MAXWELL: So, we have some breaking news that just happened a few moments ago. The Texas Supreme Court just announced that they have temporarily overturned Governor Abbott`s ban on mask mandates. Do you think anything like that is possible in Florida? Are you hopeful there may be that kind of outcome where you are?
SIMON: Oh, I`m certainly hopeful. I think the answer entire process from how the executive order came about, how the emergency rules were established, we actually believe that we are in compliance with the law based on how the emergency rules were created and the writing of what they are. I think, you know, obviously, it was not what the governor had wanted, but based on the interpretation that we have of what was written in their law, we think that it keeps us in compliance.
So, we certainly would appreciate if all of these rules and laws and expectations were tested in the courts, because I do believe that they don`t support the public health of our state and I think that`s a concern.
MAXWELL: Well, we`re going to see and pay close attention to see how this all unfolds. Dr. Carlee Simon, thank you so much for being here tonight and please stay safe. Thank you. In neighboring Alabama, new cases are averaging higher than any time since mid-January. You can see the sharp increase here since July on your screen.
And with the state`s fully vaccinated rate at just 42 percent of the eligible population, the Alabama Hospital Association said that Wednesday, there were negative 29 intensive care unit beds available in the entire state, which is less than zero if you`re keeping track at home.
Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo is Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases for the University of Alabama at Birmingham and she joins me now. What does it look like on the ground when there are no ICU beds in a state? What happens if you have a stroke or a heart attack?
DR. JEANNE MARRAZZO, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM: Thanks, Zerlina for having me. It is absolutely terrifying for people and for people who are experiencing adverse health outcomes, but also for the staff who are taking care of patients. So, imagine if you are having a stroke or a heart attack, you come to an emergency room. Most of the times you can`t accompany your family member in because everything is so chaotic, because of COVID, and then you`re faced with a situation where you may not be able to be admitted to an ICU bed.
In fact, what`s happening is that people are having to create alternative spaces to provide intensive care in these settings. So, we, for example, have opened up additional ICUs on floors that were not previously used as ICUs. We also unfortunately are having to board patients in the emergency department, as are many hospitals in Alabama. That creates a huge amount of pressure for not just the patients who are there, but also the staff who are really stressed, have their hands full trying to take care of the deluge of patients coming in.
And then the final thing I`d say is that many of these patients are quite ill. If you are sick enough to be admitted to an ICU, you don`t really want to be in a hallway in an emergency department. Again, we`re trying to do the best we can. We will take as good care of you as we can if you do come to us. But at some point, people are really going to have to face the fact that, you know, there`s only so much that places like our hospitals can expand to accommodate these really sick patients that we`re seeing.
MAXWELL: In terms of the ICU space, one of the things that I`ve learned in my life experience is that the nurses that work in ICU is they`re a specialized type. Are there staffing shortages also in terms of ICU nursing staff to take care of these patients?
MARRAZZO: It`s an incredibly important question. So, you`ve probably been to an ICU or know someone who has an you may recall, the normal ratio of patients to nurses is two to one, right? You have a nurse who`s in -- taking care of two adjacent rooms, typically, mostly because these patients are not only often on a ventilator, but they`re on multiple intravenous infusions ranging from pressure medications to keep their blood pressure normal. They`re getting fluids, they`re getting antibiotics, all kinds of stuff. It`s intensive monitoring situation.
The situation with COVID is really complicated because as you expand these ICU care situations, which as I said, we`re needing to do, you`re having necessarily to ask nurses to take care of more patients. And also, imagine trying to do that in the ER where you`ve got, again, nursing staff trying to take care of all the other myriad problems that they are having to deal with.
So, the staffing issue is a huge thing. When people talk about ICU beds, really what we should be talking about is the totality of being able to take care of people with adequate medical care, and it`s really, really challenging.
The other thing I`ll mention is that with rates of transmission as high as they are here in Alabama in that graph that you showed, it`s inevitable that some of our staff are getting COVID especially with kids going back to school now, kids under 12 not being vaccinated. So, that`s another hit that we`re having to deal with, because people want to take care of patients, they want to be here, but if you got COVID, you got to stay home. So, really very challenging situation right now.
MAXWELL: In terms of the conversations you`re having with patients, can you just give us some -- a taste of what those conversations are like? Are the patients you`re seeing unvaccinated regretful about that decision? Give it give us a little sense of what you`re hearing firsthand?
MARRAZZO: Well, there`s a couple things I will say about the patients we`re seeing. And I want to make a couple of points that this appears to be a different surge, demographically, and epidemiologically, from what we saw last spring. And it relates to the conversations we`re having to patients. And I think more data will be coming out about this in the next couple of weeks.
But what we`re seeing is that the people that we are admitting to our ICUs are on average a decade younger than what we saw in the previous surge. So, before it was around 60, we`re now seeing patients around 50. And that means that we are seeing younger people getting into the ICU and getting ventilated or put on an intubator -- put on a ventilator, which is really very disturbing.
That is an incredibly scary thing for families. They are seeing their young brothers, husbands, sisters, kids, in some cases, getting put on ventilators. And that is sparking a lot of pain, a lot of discussion about I wish I could have gotten the vaccine, why didn`t I get the vaccine? Can I get the vaccine now? And unfortunately, you can`t do that.
The other thing we`re seeing that I would like people to know is that more of the people that we are seeing in our ICU are having to be put on ventilators than the last round of COVID we saw. And that is very worrisome because with COVID, it`s kind of an unforgiving infection. Once you get on a ventilator, it can be very hard to come off it.
So, we`re very worried we`re seeing a lot more people without previous health problems, so not the comorbidities that we had last time, not the older folks that we had last time. Clearly a reflection of the fact that the biggest group of people in Alabama who don`t have fully vaccinated status are young adults, and that is really preventable, and very, very worrisome.
MAXWELL: It is very worrisome. And getting on a ventilator that is not an experience that you want to have as the person who`s being ventilated or the family member who`s being told we`ll be right back, we`re going to go intubate your family member, just pray. Because that`s generally how that conversation goes.
Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo thank you so much for being here and for giving us a glimmer of what`s happening on the ground in Alabama. Please stay safe.
MARRAZZO: Thank you so much.
MAXWELL: Still ahead, everything we know about the bomb threat at the Capitol today, the Trump supporter behind it, and why he was able to stream live on Facebook for hours during the standoff. That`s coming up next.
MAXWELL: After a tense five hour standoff in front of the Library of Congress, a Trump supporter from North Carolina who claimed to have an explosive device in his truck, crawled from the vehicle and surrendered to police. Capitol Police say a search of the truck did not turn up any viable explosive devices.
The suspect live-streamed on Facebook for hours during the standoff, listing a litany of grievances, demanding the resignation of President Biden and insisting Donald Trump replaced Biden and pardon millions of Trump supporters. The incident comes less than a week after the Department of Homeland Security issued a terrorism threat summary warning, "Through the remainder of 2021, racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists and anti-government, anti-authority violent extremists will remain a national threat priority for the United States."
As a former FBI Special Agent, Clint Watts served on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. He is now a distinguished research fellow focused on terrorism, social media, and Russia at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He`s also the author of a great book Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians and Fake News.
And Clint, what do we know about the suspect and his motives at this point?
CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, Zerlina, he`s a pretty interesting character. You could tell right away just from watching the footage that it was a mix of, you know, political grievances. Specifically in that live stream, he talked about President Joe Biden, many, many times. He seemed to be talking about it not being a political issue, but only talking about Nancy Pelosi and the president. So, clearly, he picked this location for a reason.
I think the other point is it speaks to the power of the insurrection. Many months later, this is now the second incident around the Capitol where we`ve seen people show up. This becomes like a magnet, essentially, for people that have anti-government views. So, that`s very clearly what he had.
Separately, though, what you could also seem to tell from his rhetoric, and what he was talking about is he was a troubled individual. He clearly is under a lot of stress, talked quite a bit about getting back and speaking with his family, his thoughts were often rambling and incoherent. And so, he`s under some sort of mental duress, mental stress.
He did not have an actual device, even though he`s making lots of claims, or at least a functional device. And so, ultimately, what I -- what I noticed about is he created a spectacle and drew attention to his case. And when you look at his social media feed, he was talking about other rallies and other locations. He listed one particularly in North Carolina.
So, I think ultimately, what we see is the insurrection isn`t over in terms of the aftermath and the effects that it has on our country.
MAXWELL: In terms of how this incident fits in with the Homeland Security warnings that we`ve had recently, how does it fit in with other things that we`ve seen? We`ve seen a number of things since the interaction, but this seems to be the most serious so far.
WATTS: That right, Zerlina. So, what`s interesting in all of this is you have actual organized groups and that`s sort of the militia collectives that we saw, some of them showing up at the insurrection, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Three Percent Movement, certain members of those chapters and groups showed up. That`s not what this was.
This was what we would call essentially a stochastic event, one that just kind of happens at random and it`s very hard to protect -- predict or anticipate where somebody takes it upon themselves to do an attack or at least attempt to look like they`re doing an attack to draw attention to their cause.
I think that`s the toughest one for all of law enforcement, Homeland Security to attack because there are no indicators of which of the many hundreds if not thousands of individuals who make these claims are actually going to deliver on them. So, it`s really going to be a challenge for us, I think, for the rest of the year and well into 2022.
MAXWELL: I`m curious your reaction to folks like Republican Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama who plotted with Trump to overturn the election, and he released a statement today saying, "Although this terrorist motivation is not yet publicly known, and generally speaking, I understand citizenry anger directed at dictatorial socialism and its threat to liberty, freedom, and the very fabric of American society."
This feels to me like this is emboldening more people to do these kinds of actions, because in a way, he`s implicitly justifying this behavior. You`re saying, well, I understand why they`re mad, although I don`t agree with their methods.
WATTS: That`s right, Zerlina. Two things, hey, Mo Brooks, you are not helping. You`re making things worse, number one. If you`re worried about the safety of all Americans, you wouldn`t make a statement like he made today, which is essentially having it both ways, right? He`s saying this is an incident where I worried about police on the Capitol, but at the same point, I understand the justifications.
Well, whenever political leaders start to go along with the justifications of people who are participating extremists, you are more than likely going to get more inspired extremists. So, that is particularly damaging to our country. It also just speaks to the nature of what`s going on, which is domestic extremists vote and international terrorist don`t, and that`s why he made that statement there.
He`s trying to play to a base and have it both ways. And ultimately, he`s going to be the one that could be potentially a victim there at the Capitol someday.
MAXWELL: That`s a scary thought. But also, why would you want a terrorist to vote for you? That`s a question for another segment. Clint Watts, thank you so much for being here tonight. And please stay safe.
WATTS: Thank you.
MAXWELL: Up next, why the sentencing of a January 6 rioter was called off last minute thanks to some online sleuths. And what they found, after this.
MAXWELL: More than more than seven months after the January 6 insurrection, the FBI is still building cases and relying on tips from the internet vigilantes who are helping. He`s a point one insurrectionist named Robert Reeder had his sentencing scheduled for yesterday. And he pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of picketing, demonstrating, or parading inside the Capitol.
But at the last minute, the judge delayed the proceedings after amateurs cyber sleuth uncovered this video of him appearing to assault a police officer. They shared it on Twitter just hours before the sentencing was supposed to begin. He could now face additional charges. But why are private citizens doing this work and not the FBI?
Ryan Reilly is a senior justice reporter for HuffPost. He`s been reporting on the ongoing investigations into the January 6 insurrection. He`s writing a book about the FBI unprecedented use of crowdsource information in this investigation.
So, Ryan, tell me more about these sedition hunters because I feel like that`s my next Halloween costume. And I need to know who they are, how they started, how they operate, give you the goods.
RYAN REILLY, SENIOR JUSTICE REPORTER, HUFFPOST: Yes, I mean, they`re all from all over the country and indeed the world. And basically, this is -- these are people who are very motivated to find out the people who were behind January 6. And they`re hunting down these clues and they keep spreadsheets and they keep documents, they have now screen grabs out the wazoo as one sedition hunter told me. Basically, they`re trying to hunt down every moment and track people as they go throughout the Capitol and then also identify people who have not been arrested yet.
You know, with Richard Reeder here, the case -- this was someone who was arrested very early by the FBI. And I think the important background here is that this wasn`t a target of sedition hunters initially because he was one of the very first arrests. He was someone who was caught up with facial recognition by federal authorities very early on. And so, it wasn`t someone they really spent much time focusing on.
But when this case popped up, they did a little hunting around and check out what was happening with this case because they saw it was a misdemeanor. And all of a sudden, they uncovered this video. So, it really is this remarkable moment where these online sleuths completely changed the trajectory of a federal prosecution.
MAXWELL: That is absolutely incredible, but also makes me wonder what the FBI is doing. I understand they`re working very hard to prosecute as many people as possible. But this example shows you that there -- they might be missing some crimes. So, the FBI, it`s not like they don`t have the capability. They have a long history of surveilling and sabotaging left- wing organizations and spaces, most recently with Black Lives Matter. Why are we seeing the same urgency with this investigation?
REILLY: You know, I think the thing that makes the sedition hunters work so well is the crowdsourcing. And that`s something that the FBI is just not set up for. This isn`t how they go about things. With bank robbers, they`re used to individually focus on individual targets in specific geographic areas. They`re not really set up internally or externally to basically use the sort of power of the crowd and try to connect some of the dots here.
Because the way that they`ve organized behind the scenes on the sedition hunter`s side is that they`ve been able to tag people`s activities throughout the entire time they`re at the Capitol. So, someone might remember, oh, I was watching this footage and that person was there. So, this assault, they came up with something that they really spotted at the very last minute and really does just completely change the game.
This is not someone who would have been getting this type of misdemeanor deal had they known about this from the very beginning. And this is someone who lied to the FBI and said he didn`t have an encounter with them. So, this is -- he was about to get a sentence that probably is a lot shorter than what would have happened had they not come up with this.
Luckily, there was a carve-out in the plea deal that allowed the federal authorities to bring additional charges if they see a crime of violence, which obviously this is. So, there is still the ability to bring further charges. But this is something that, you know, would not have gone down this path towards this misdemeanor plea deal had they known about this information earlier on.
MAXWELL: Well, I really am grateful to the sedition hunters for making sure that anybody who committed a crime at the Capitol that day is held fully accountable under the law. Ryan Reilly, thank you so much for your time tonight. And please stay safe.
MAXWELL: Ahead, with thousands trying to flee Afghanistan, reports that the Taliban has set up checkpoints around the airport in Kabul, what this means for getting people out next.
MAXWELL: As the U.S. continues to step up its efforts to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies on military jets, other Afghans are trying to leave the country on commercial planes. That`s how many members of Afghanistan`s first-ever all-girls robotics team managed to escape boarding a commercial flight from Kabul to Qatar on Tuesday.
The team became world-famous a few years ago when members were denied visas to travel to the United States and they were finally allowed in after 53 members of Congress signed a petition and Trump intervened. The team then traveled all over U.S. -- the U.S. and Europe, winning accolades and competitions and meeting with celebrities and politicians like Senator Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire who called the team an inspiration for young women across the globe.
Tonight, 10 women`s have that all girls robotics team are safely in Qatar. But the others are still in Afghanistan where they face a worrying future under the Taliban. They aren`t alone. thousands of other Afghans are still desperately trying to flee the country. But with the Taliban blocking the road to the airport, it is unclear just how all of those people are going to get out safely.
I want to bring in someone who is trying to help Afghans flee the country, Sunil Varghese, the policy director for the International Refugee Assistance Project. So, a lot has changed between Monday and today. We all woke up Monday morning, and I think, it`s safe to say, a lot of us were horrified by the images that we saw Monday morning. What is the status of the effort to get as many refugees out of Afghanistan safely as we sit here today?
SUNIL VARGHESE, POLICY DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL REFUGEE ASSISTANCE PROJECT: Thank you for having me. I think first, to be clear, we`re speaking about tens of thousands of people that worked with or for the United States advancing our democratic policies, advancing our work to protect the freedom of speech, advancing women`s rights, and that work was done with the promise that if that work put their lives in danger, the United States would have their back and make sure that they were brought to the U.S. to safety.
And what had happened was once the U.S. pulled out, the Taliban started going door to door hunting people down and the U.S. has not kept up his promised. So, since Monday, the airport is secure by U.S. government troops, flights are going out. But we don`t have enough flights and we don`t have enough Afghans on those flights.
The other unfolding humanitarian crisis is that it is very difficult to safely get inside the airport. That`s where the choke hold is right now. The U.S. government has identified tens of thousands of people, have sent out visas and boarding passes. But -- and telling people to go to the airport, but they can`t get in.
There are Taliban checkpoints, the gates are just incredibly crowded. We have a client who has tear gassed her and her toddler. We`ve had another client beaten by the Taliban. We have clients who are pregnant and just have been waiting for hours and hours with no hope, just unclear as to whether or not they`re going to be able to get into the airport. So, that is a current situation.
It`s -- at nighttime, there`s a curfew and there are many, many Afghans, including our clients that are sleeping outside the gates and just hoping that the Americans let them in and that they can get onto flights to safety.
MAXWELL: You said that the Biden administration has come up short. In what ways have they come up short in terms of assisting these folks who, as you said, have helped America in their efforts in the war in Afghanistan? And what do they need to do at this moment to speed up this process so folks are not sleeping outside on the ground hoping somebody is going to open the door in the morning?
VARGHESE: As soon as that -- as the Biden administration announced that we would have military withdrawal from Afghanistan, organizations like IRAP where I work and others made it clear that any sort of military withdrawal would put those allies partners at risk, and any sort of military retrograde operation, a complex s logistical puzzle to move 20 years of supplies and equipment out, had to have a component that evacuated people, but it did not.
At the end of the day, we did not evacuate people. And so, as soon as the U.S. withdrew from the provinces, the Taliban put up checkpoints on roads, made it difficult to get into Kabul. And then what we saw over the weekend was Kabul itself fall, and still no plan from the administration on how to get people out.
You know, for example, we had a client who applied for one of these visas because she was working to improve educational opportunities for women in a province outside Kabul. She`s applied six years ago and is still waiting. And we were able to get her on one of the last flights out from her town to Kabul before it fell. But now she`s in hiding.
It`s unclear when it`s going to be safe or how it`s going to be safe to get to the airport. And if she gets to the airport, how does she get in? It`s not too late. We`re in the 11th hour, but we`ve got days, maybe a week to make sure this evacuation doesn`t turn into a massacre. And for that to happen, we really need to get more Afghans onto planes and out of the country.
MAXWELL: Sunil Varghese, thank you so much for making the time tonight and for being here and helping us understand what`s happened between Monday and today. Please stay safe.
VARGHESE: Thank you.
MAXWELL: Up next, we`re r getting our first real picture of what the American public at large thinks about the war in Afghanistan. And the numbers, they may surprise you. That`s next.
MAXWELL: 1Despite the political fallout from the US`s chaotic departure from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden is standing by his decision to withdraw from the war, refusing to call it a mistake in the face of bipartisan criticism. But as the evacuation continues, how are Americans feeling about the nation`s longest war?
A new poll out today shows that 62 percent of the country, almost two- thirds of the country, believe that the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting. Cornell Belcher is a Democratic pollster and strategist and he joins me now.
I think there`s a lot caught up in the responses to that particular question. But with the majority of Americans believing that the war wasn`t worth it 20 years after it started, do you think that President Biden will ultimately benefit from being on the right side of the bigger question here even if the short-term situation on the ground is unstable and very fluid?
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER AND STRATEGIST: It`s great questions, Zerlina. And good to be talking to you, by the way. Here`s the problem. Americans are notoriously short-sighted or, you know, forgetful when it comes to foreign policy. You know, it`s not something that they sink their teeth into, right? Two months or three months from now, will the average voter be thinking about what`s happening in Afghanistan, a place where most of us can`t find on a map when there`s -- when they`re trying to think about there`s kids going back into schools and dealing with COVID and rising prices.
You know, I`m not surprised that the President is in fact, where the vast majority of Americans are on this, but I don`t think short term or long term, he`ll get much benefit from it. Look, I remember the night vividly when Brock Obama came on television and said he -- you know, Americans had brought justice and gotten Bin Ladin, and Americans sort of rallied around him. But, you know, two months later, that rally -- that rally was gone.
I think Americans are more focused on what`s happening in their -- in their communities, what`s happening in their homes, what`s happening with their kids, and not so focused on what`s happening on foreign shores for better or for worse.
MAXWELL: In a lot of ways, this is one of those places where I`m surprised Democrat and Republican governors are asking to take in Afghan refugees. This surprises me in the year 2021. So, pudding Biden and what the American people think about the decision to withdraw aside, it`s bipartisan in terms of trying to do the humanitarian thing and taking these refugees who need to resettle.
Do you think that that is going to unfold in an organized fashion or do you think the conservative and right-wing forces will ultimately push back because they are absolutely not traditionally pro-refugee?
BELCHER: Well, no, not only are they not pro-refugee, they -- you know, the bedrock pillar of the Republican Party these days is, in fact fear of the other and fanning those fears of the other and you know, look, whether we`re being invaded from the -- we`re being invaded from our southern border, to we`re losing our country.
You know, they`ve constantly pushed this fear of the other and what they call to real Americans losing their -- losing their country. There is no question in my mind that Fox News and others on the right will play the fear of taking in more brown people in this country as again, you know, them losing their country then being overrun and others taking over their country.
We will see and hear this about this in the midterms without question because it is -- because that -- fanning of the flames of fear about the other is bedrock to republicanism under Trump right now.
MAXWELL: Yes, you`re already hearing them blame undocumented immigrants who are not going over the border into Florida for the COVID surge. So, I think that that is actually probably a pretty smart prediction.
Cornell Belcher, thank you so much for being here tonight. And please stay safe.
BELCHER: Thank you.
MAXWELL: That is ALL IN on this Thursday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Zerlina.