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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 8/4/21

Guests: Charlie Savage, Stuart Stevens, Paul Krugman


Jeffrey Clark schemed with Former President Trump and he drafted a document stating falsely that the Justice Department had identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple States, including the State of Georgia. An accused Proud Boy, Ethan Nordean, suddenly secures $980,000 cash bail. COVID down-players face regrets amid the surge of the Delta variant. Congresswoman Julia Letlow (R- LA) urges vaccine after her husband dies of COVID. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson says he regrets banning mask mandates.


JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: All of you readers out there, hallelujah. She`s back. Your wait is over. Joy comes back tomorrow night. So, be sure to tune in. Among her guests, Donald Trump`s niece, Mary Trump. And I`ll see you again right here at 10:00 a.m. this Sunday. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN. Donald Trump`s coup came closer to succeeding than we ever knew. Tonight, the smoking gun document that could have upended democracy as we know it. And the DOJ official who tried to help Trump steal the election.

Then, where`s this accused Proud Boy insurrectionists getting his sudden windfall of cash that can spring him from jail. And the growing voices of COVID regret.

REP. JULIA LETLOW (R-LA): It`s a horrific way to leave this world. I don`t wish it on anyone else. We have the answer. Let`s use it.

HAYES: As a governor facing a rise in cases admits his anti-masking law is hurting his state.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): Our cases read low point. Everything is changed now. And yes, in hindsight, I wish that had not become law.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. The coup came closer to succeeding than we ever knew. And we know that Donald Trump plotted with his associates to overturn American democracy. He tried everything he could to keep himself in power over the will the people. And day by day, we have been learning more and more about how comprehensive and how dangerous that effort was.

But we did not learn the details of the single most damning piece of evidence yet until yesterday. And frankly, I have to say, it`s so damning and so unnerving, I`ve spent the last 24 hours scratching my head in disbelief that it is not a bigger story. Because the document we learned about yesterday should live in infamy in American history as a truly villainous text.

And if the acting Attorney General at the time had signed that document, it would have likely thrown the United States into the worst constitutional crisis since the Civil War. It may have precipitated actual civil strife and violence. The document was drafted by this man, a man you should know. Jeffrey Clark is his name. He is in a million different ways unremarkable. The kind of functionary lawyer that exists in droves in Washington D.C.

He went to a good law school, he worked in a big corporate firm, Kirkland and Ellis. He worked in the George W. Bush administration and back to Kirkland and Ellis, came back to the Justice Department 2018. In September of 2020, he was put in charge of the DOJ`s Civil Division.

New York Times reported that in December, as acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his deputy Richard Donahue were pushing back on Trump`s attempts to use the Justice Department to undermine the election, they were unaware that Mr. Clark, Jeffrey Clark, had been introduced to President Trump by a Pennsylvania politician, and that Clark had told the president he agreed that fraud had affected the election results.

Basically, he auditioned for the president and let him know that he would be willing to be the trigger man for Donald Trump in his attempt to kill off American democracy in its present form. And that is not hyperbole. Clark met with Trump. He schemed with Trump and he drafted the document I talked about. This letter, it`s a letter to the Georgia governor, the Speaker of the House, and the President Pro-Tem of the Senate, and it`s drafted for Rosen and Donahue to signs officially from the U.S. Department of Justice.

It says in part, "The Department of Justice is investigating various irregularities in the 2020 election for President of the United States. At this time, we have identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple states, including the state of Georgia. While the Department of Justice believes the governor of Georgia should immediately call a special session to consider this important and urgent matter, if he declines to do so, we share with you our view that the Georgia General Assembly has implied authority under the Constitution of the United States to call itself into special session for the limited purpose of considering issues pertaining to the appointment of presidential electors."

Basically, Clark and Trump teaming up, spell out what they want. They want the Acting Attorney General and his deputy to publicly state the election in Georgia was too tainted by fraud to be trusted, and that the Georgia General Assembly needed to use the power entrusted to it by the U.S. Constitution to simply come together and send their own electors to Washington.

Now, this would be a violation of Georgia law. But this letter is the Department of Justice telling them they do have the constitutional authority to do it. It would be a violation of the will of the Georgia voters and the will of the American people. It would mean the Department of Justice was literally signing on to the coup attempt in its official capacity. It would be a green light for mayhem.


And we know from Deputy Attorney General Richard Donahue`s contemporaneous notes released last week that Trump was already pressuring Acting Attorney General Rosen and Donahue, literally telling them just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican Congressmen.

We know Trump is pressuring Republican Georgia Secretary of State famously telling him, "I just want to find 11,708 votes." But his key ally in this is this guy, Jeffrey Clark, this previously anonymous functionary, a guy that no one really knows, but who is effectively plotting a coup with the President.

OK, so then Rosen and Donohue get this letter and they think, oh, no. They refuse to sign the letter. Well, get this. The New York Times reports the Clark meets with Trump on his own, and then informed Mr. Rosen, the Acting Attorney General, the president intended to replace Rosen with Clark, who could then try to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College results.

Clark apparently convincing Trump to make him the Attorney General so he could sign that letter. And again, that letter being issued by the Department of Justice in an act that very likely would have precipitated a crisis from which the country may not have recovered. It would have put inordinate pressure on the Republicans of the Georgia General Assembly, again dominated by Republicans, a green light from the DOJ and they may very well have gone ahead, appointed their own electors pledged Trump, sent them to Washington. Maybe the other states would have followed suit.

It would have thrown us into a frenzy, a suddenly contested election even though there`s nothing to contest. It was very clear electoral results, one man won and one man lost. But the Times reports that Donohue convened a late-afternoon call with the department`s remaining senior leaders laying out Mr. Clark`s efforts to replace Mr. Rosen. Should Mr. Rosen be fired, they all agreed to resign en masse.

When presented with that ultimatum, Trump seems somewhat swayed by the idea that firing Mr. Rosen would trigger not only chaos at the Justice Department, but also congressional investigations, and possibly recommendations from other Republicans and distract attention from his efforts to overturn the election results.

And so, he backed off, and the guns stayed holstered. But we were this close to a world where the Attorney General United States, Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Clark publicly release that letter. And the man who came that close to doing that to committing that grievous act, Jeffrey Clark, is you know, just out in the world chilling, probably go to nice dinners, probably makes good income. He got a new job. He landed a job as the chief of litigation and director of strategy at the right-wing New Civil Liberties Alliance. Those are all his colleagues right there. They should be very proud. They work with them.

They do things like sue universities for mandating vaccines and they try to go to court the moratorium on evictions removed. Good folks. Come to think of it, it makes you wonder what the hiring practices are at the New Civil Liberties Alliance. How they all feel in the office -- well, maybe they`re not in the office about this guy who`s apparently willing to assassinate American democracy.

And he can get a job after a lot of this had already been publicly reported. This man who plotted with the president to destroy our form of government to steal the presidency and overturn an election and to essentially install Donald Trump as a tyrant against the will of the people. That man who did that.

The reason a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol concussing policemen and beating them with their own weapons is because the official mechanisms of power failed Trump thanks to men like Jeffrey Rosen. You got to hand it to him. And Richard Donahue, they did the right thing. But if the Department of Justice sends that letter, and the Georgia General Assembly calls a special session, sends a slate of electors for Donald Trump to Washington, well, then, they wouldn`t have needed the mob.

The man who colluded with Donald Trump on this coup should be disbarred. No one should ever hire him again. He should face eternal public shaming, Jeffrey Clark. It is insane to let this man, Jeffrey Clark, get anywhere near any institution in this country that matters at all. He aimed a nuclear weapon at the United States of America`s democracy. There have been little to no consequences for anyone involved in this whole disgusting and sorted affair. And unless there are, they`re going to try again. They came very close last time.

Charlie Savage is a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington correspondent for the New York Times. In January, he caught their piece titled Jeffrey Clark was considered on assuming, then he plotted with Trump. Charlie, maybe you could just tell us a little bit about Mr. Clark`s background because what`s striking to me here is this is not someone who comes from the world of like Trump Org as, you know, a loyalist. This is someone who comes up through essentially the mainstream channels of Republican Party lawyers.


CHARLIE SAVAGE, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: That`s right. Up until this event, Jeffrey Clark seemed to be a standard establishment Republican corporate lawyer. He`d gone to Harvard undergrad, Georgetown Law School, joined the federal society, clerked for conservative appeals court judge, joined this white shoe firm Kirkland and Ellis, and then work on environmental issues for the George W. Bush administration Justice Department.

From that perspective, the perspective of environmental regulations should be viewed with skepticism. They, you know, they inhibit economic growth. Let`s cut back and your authority narrowly goes back to private practice and comes back for the Trump administration, initially also in an environmental post.

And it`s only in the second half of 2020 that he starts to rise suddenly and inhabits this pivotal role that you`ve been describing. He takes over without Senate confirmation in an acting capacity the Civil Division of the Justice Department, and then immediately starts signing briefs to go after some of Trump`s enemies in court, and that sort of thing, still kind of what you would expect the Trump Justice Department to do.

And then after the election, suddenly he`s playing this role as the guy who is extremely interested in all these conspiracy theories about how Trump actually won the election or there was fraud, and is undermining the acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen as he tries to hold the line against a White House that is pushing the Justice Department to publicly say that the election was corrupt, to provide that veneer of an alternative reality that as Trump said in those notes you cited, he and Republican allies in the Congress could use to build a stampede towards overturning the election results.

So, quite a bit out of character for who he had appeared to be for most of his career up until that point, Chris.

HAYES: And what`s striking about the lawyer that we -- that the letter that we now have is, you know, Trump is sort of plotting around, you know, shaking the tree wherever you can. But this letter lays out a kind of fringe constitutional theory, but who knows, perhaps a defensible one, which is that state legislators are endowed by the Constitution with, "plenary power" to contribute their electors. And it`s a roadmap very explicitly to these states with some sort of legal rationale from the Department of Justice. It`s not just saying, hey, go find me the votes. It`s saying, hey, here`s how you could do this under the authority of the U.S. Constitution.

SAVAGE: That`s right. You know, we knew this letter existed. My colleague Katie Benner reported on it and that initial story about this whole imbroglio that you showed earlier in your broadcast here. But we did -- seeing the letter is quite striking. It`s such a -- it is, as you say, a roadmap. And I think it does cause us to reevaluate what was happening in late December.

You know, during that period, I think from an outside perspective, the Trump efforts to overturn the election, this is of course before January 6, had a certain comic overtone, because the conspiracy theories were so outlandish and one thing after another would get knocked down. Republican judges were laughing them all out of court. You know, they had these -- Giuliani`s infamous press conference where they scheduled at the Four Seasons landscaping instead of the Four Seasons Hotel by mistake. And it just seemed ludicrous up until January 6 when suddenly it became deadly serious when we saw people being sucked into it in such a way.

But now, for the historical record, this -- some of that -- what they were doing makes more sense. There was an end game. And the end game was to create an alternative reality in which there was doubt, in which the Justice Department said the election was corrupted. And that`s all you had to do said Trump in those notes that you talked about. Just say it`s corrupt and I`ll do the rest.

It reminds me a little bit of the first impeachment where what they really wanted from Ukraine was an announcement of a corruption investigation into Biden, perhaps more than the actual investigation. They wanted the statement that could then run with it. And so a statement this election was corrupt to push republicans in the Georgia legislature to send different electors to Washington, and perhaps create momentum for an end game.

Now, all that dust being kicked in the air in December makes a lot more sense, Chris.

HAYES: Charlie Savage who`s done great reporting on this, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

SAVAGE: Thank you.

HAYES: For more than this overt attempt to corrupt the Justice Department and overturn the election, I`m joined by former Democratic senator from Missouri, Claire McCaskill, and Stuart Stevens, a senior advisor to the Lincoln Project, author of the book It Was All A Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump.

Claire, let me start with you. I just -- I read this letter a bunch yesterday when it came out, and I just kind of took my breath away. I mean, it`s -- I think, if it come out, it would -- there`s odds it would have been such a scandal because it`s such a scandalous document that it might precipitate a backlash, you know, greater than its effect. But it`s a coup attempt in black and white that, you know, came pretty close.


CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Chris, as I read the letter I kind of got sick to my stomach because this was a lawyer at the highest level of the Department of Justice. And what he laid out there as a lawyer is so offensive. I mean, you have to remember that for lawyers, really the law is a slave to evidence. The law has to serve only in the context of factual evidence.

And what`s really stunning about this letter is there`s not one drop of evidence in it. There`s not one solid allegation of anything. And we know that Barr which, by the way, he was in the hall of fame of Trump lackeys, Barr, the Attorney General, had said clearly there was no fraud that would have impacted the results of the election.

So, you had the attorney general who had done everything almost that Trump wanted him to do including overturning guilty pleas of other Trump lackeys. I mean, really bizarre, outrageous things. Him saying, there`s no evidence, and then this guy writes this letter. I have one question to the lawyers of America. Are we going to let this guy continue practice law? Is he going to be allowed to appear in front of courts as if he has some respect for the rule of law or for evidence?

I -- really, it is really astounding to me that he has not been called up today on charges in front of the D.C. Bar.

HAYES: You know, Stuart, I think the kind of optimistic take here, and it`s not -- it`s a serious one is that, in the end, Jeffrey Rosen and Donohue to their credit, fought against it. They created this sort of pact to resign. They went to Cipollone. This today, we got this -- this was also turned over to the Oversight Committee. This is Deputy Attorney General Patrick Hovakimian saying basically, you know, this is the kind of dead man`s switch, right.

This evening, after acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, over the course of last week repeatedly refused the President`s direct instructions to utilize the Department of Justice`s law enforcement power for improper ends, the president removed Jeff from the department, Rich Donoghue and I resigned from department effective immediately.

I mean, they had that ready to go. And to their credit, that was what stood between. But my concern is the admixture in the current Republican Party of Jeffrey Clarks and Jeffrey Rosens.

STUART STEVENS, SENIOR ADVISOR, THE LINCOLN PROJECT: Yes, look, I`m not the guy to come to you looking for an optimistic view of this. Because I think it`s simple what they want to do, they do want to overthrow the electoral process as we know it. So, what happens to this guy? He tries this, it comes close, it fails. He goes through a cushy job. What are they going to do?

They`re going to sit there, they`re going to try to refine their arguments, they`re going to try to build more legal theories, and they`re going to come back. You don`t see an ounce of remorse here. No one is apologizing. And it`s always the people you`ve never thought about who are up for doing the unthinkable. And that`s what this guy is. And he has a complete structure that supports him that`s well, finance. They`re very patient and they think they`re going to win.

HAYES: That point Stuart just made clear is so true, which is that there`s two kind of schools of -- look, in sort of mainstream Republican Party, there`s people who are embarrassed by it and don`t want to talk about it. You know, and that`s, you know, the Mitch McConnells of the world who filibustered the January 6 Commission. And then there`s the people who actively plot it and are just out there floating around with essentially no repercussions.

There`s a tiny group of people, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, a tiny group of people who say this is wrong. We shouldn`t have done this. But by and large, it`s just -- it`s just it`s either denial or cooperation.

MCCASKILL: Well, first of all, we have a couple of things working in our favor. I hate to inject a note of optimism here, but we have a couple of things working in our favor. One is the Republican Party is shrinking. And there is a chunk of the Republican Party that agrees with was Cheney and agrees with Congressman Kinzinger. And so, I do think that electorally I think we are not in a horrible position.

The other thing is we have to remember here, Trump-appointed judges laughed his lawyers out of the courtroom when they tried to go through the courts to get redress. And so, we`ve got to remember that we do have this balance of power between the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch. So far, on some things I don`t like what the judicial branch has done, but in terms of this election, they did the right thing and said you know what, you don`t get anything if you don`t have evidence.


HAYES: You know what, it`s interesting. But what`s fascinating to me and that`s all that`s true, that letter is an end-run around the courts. And the reason it`s an end-run around the court, Stuart, is because there`s a recognition that the soft underbelly of American democracy are the state legislators of the Republican Party who are the most radicalized and the most sort of, for lack of better phrase, down to clown. And I think that`s why, Stuart, that`s what`s so dangerous about that letter to me when I play out the cascade of effects that may have happened had it been released.

STEVENS: Yes, you can`t look at this letter in isolation, Chris. You have to look at it as one step in a process. And what else is in that process? Well, what are they doing? They`re out there and they`re trying to make it harder for people to vote. Across the country they`re doing this in a very methodical way.

So, this is not just a random guy who went out there and went rogue. He`s supported by what is really the majority of the Republican Party establishment now. And you see it reflected in these state legislators. And you`re one signature away from probably something close to a successful coup.

HAYES: Claire McCaskill and Stuart Stevens, great to get your perspective on this. I really appreciate it.

If you`ve been watching our show at all over the last few months, you know that if we have NBC4 Reporter Scott MacFarlane, it means there`s a huge or bizarre update on the cases against the January 6 rioters. Well, Scott is here tonight to explain why a jailed member of the proud boys got a sudden windfall of nearly $1 million into his bank account. The mysterious cash influx and what the DOJ has to say about it next.



HAYES: In the nearly seven months since the January 6 insurrection, prosecutors have filed charges against more than 500 people. And at least 30 of them are members or associates of white supremacist groups including this guy, a 30-year-old Ethan Nordean, a self-described Sergeant at Arms for the proud boys who goes by the alias Rufio Panman.

Prosecutors say that Nordean seen here in photos inside the Capitol, helped the proud boys hatch a plan to attempt to break into the building as many points as possible to stop the certification of the election. He is charged with six counts including conspiracy. He has pleaded not guilty to all.

And he is still in jail pending a hearing and federal prosecutors want to keep him there. Especially because your dean who formerly worked at his dad`s restaurant, has apparently come up with almost $ million to offer his bail money. In a filing yesterday, the Justice Department warned about Nordean`s apparent influx of $980,000 to offer as a secure bond, and added defendant has not offered the court any information about the source of these funds. And the sudden windfall raises more questions about the defendant`s continuing power and clout than it resolves.

The reason we know about Nordean`s million-dollar offers is thanks to the hard work of NBC News4 investigative reporter Scott MacFarlane who joins me now. Scott, just layout his case here and then what the DOJ says about the fact that he now has access to these funds to bond out.

SCOTT MACFARLANE, NBC NEWS4 INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Hey, Chris, there have been thousands of pages of court filings in these January 6 cases. And this is why we try to read each one. It was the final paragraph of the final page of the Justice Department`s latest filing against Ethan Nordean where they raised this concern about this, "sudden windfall of $1 million."

We work backwards, and saw a few weeks ago Nordean did offer $1 million secured bond or a home in exchange for his release from jail. The prosecutors call that offer a gilded cage offer. They say it does raise questions about his continued power and his continued clout. They`re asking the court where did he get this money?

So, we checked and talked to Nordean`s defense attorney tonight who says the money was raised by family. And they say that the prosecutors know that and the court soon will. They didn`t go into any more detail. And the Justice Department declined comment a few moments ago.

But here we are now nearly seven months since the insurrection, and Ethan Nordean is still trying to fight to get out of jail until trial. That`s an indication, Chris, of where these far-right group cases stand. The Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Three Percenters, we have a few plea agreements. But generally speaking, there`s a long, winding legal road ahead.

HAYES: Yes, so you know, we`ve talked about the categories here and some of the dispositions of some of the cases, pleas and very little jail time for folks that were in the more spur of the moment category. Let`s say people who went into the Capitol and then the category of people that the government is alleging plotted this, planned it, and executed it. He is in that court category again, according to the government`s case.

MACFARLANE: Yes, Chris. The charge is conspiracy for Ethan Nordean. That`s the same charge faced by other Proud Boys, the same charge faced by other accused Oath Keepers. In fact, there have been a few plea agreements from the Oath Keepers to conspiracy counts, and they have agreed to help the investigators, the federal prosecutors. That`s what we`re waiting for.

Earlier this week, I reported the proud boys cases might be moving closer to plea agreements according to prosecutors at hearings. Will the Fed secure or even seek cooperation deals from the accused Proud Boys?

HYAES: Yes, we`ve got some indications that maybe beginning at least in talks, Reuters reporting on Monday that there were some early talks but it doesn`t seem like we have anything as far along as the Oath Keepers where we actually look like we`re going to get some please. Scott McFarlane who`s been doing fantastic work on this as always, thank you.

Ahead, the Louisiana Congresswoman who lost her husband to COVID-19 complications is begging her constituents to get the vaccine as the state battles a devastating Coronavirus outbreak.


LETLOW: I would have given anything. I would have given everything for that shot to be available for us. I mean, looking back now, and for someone to turn it away, I just -- it`s heartbreaking to me.



HAYES: So, we`ve been watching Republican politicians and legislators, conservative media weapon this frenzy about critical race theory. And amidst that frenzy, it`s easy to lose sight of what exactly critical race theory is, what it`s about, and partly because it`s complicated.

The way that I think about it is really this is a debate about how central we think race, and particularly anti-Black racism is to America. How central it is to American life, throughout our history and into today. That is fundamentally the debate we are as a society having. And so, I thought it`d be good idea to show you some data I think is useful to think about in that context when you ask yourself is race have a side story in America or an essential one in this country.

Now, this comes from a pre-publication study in the Health Affairs Journal, and it looks at the increase in mortality rates across different groups of folks during the pandemic. Now, of course, we already know COVID disproportionately affected people of color. Black people have died at 1.4 times the rate of white people according to the data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project. Indigenous and Hispanic people have died at higher rates than white people as well.


This new data breaks it down even further. This graph shows the increase in deaths, all causes, so-called all-cause mortality from the second quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2020. Now, that`s about three months into the pandemic, right. So, this first grouping of bars on your left side of the screen shows the increase in deaths per 100,000 people among uninsured people. Those are people that don`t have health insurance. So you`d we`d have a pretty high rate.

Now, you`ve got uninsured Hispanic people, that`s the yellow bar. Non- Hispanic others, it`s Asian, Pacific Islander. Indigenous folks, that`s in red. And then, non-Hispanic white people in blue. That`s Hispanic, Asian, and Indigenous, and white folks in blue. Now, we`ve added in the last group here, and that`s Black Americans represented by the teal bar.

Now, look at that. Deaths among uninsured Black folks went up nearly three times more than uninsured white folks. OK, let`s look at insured people. See that? See that teal bar again? It`s similar. Deaths among insured Black Americans increased five times more than among insured white Americans. In fact, you are better off being an uninsured white person than being a Black person with health insurance.

Well, what about income? Maybe this is just an income proxy effect. How about when you break it down by income? This data is from families whose income is below the federal poverty level. These are people $26,200 for a family of four last year. Again, you see that teal bar way, way above the others? Deaths increased six times more among poor black families than poor white families.

When you look at families making up to four times the federal poverty level, OK, that`s middle-class families. Guess what, basically the same story. Deaths were up five times more among Black folks than white folks. Even with people in the middle class, families making over $100,000, more than four times the federal poverty level. There was a five times greater increase in deaths among Black people than white people. In fact, once again, you are better off being a very poor white person, than a middle class black person in terms of your risk of death during the pandemic.

Another way of breaking it down is by whether or not you can work from home, right? That`s been a particularly important factor, of course, during the pandemic. In the aggregate, there was a bigger increase in deaths among people had to go to work in person versus people who could work from home.

But look what happened to mortality. Even among Blackfoot folks who could work from home, an eight times greater increase than among white folks who could work from home. And for people who had to go into their places of work, deaths among Black folks increased about three times more than white people.

Once again, you were better off being a white person who had to go to an in-person job every day throughout the first few months of pandemic than being a black person who had the option to work from home. Across all of these different subcategories, one thing remains constant, all of those really tall teal bar -- teal bars towering over a bunch of small bars, those are Black Americans dying at higher rates no matter how you slice the data.

What you`re looking there on your screen when you look at these graphs is the ubiquity of race particularly structural racism against Black people that has existed in this country since before its founding. That is produced the conditions we have a population in this country that is more vulnerable to a respiratory virus, a virus that of course has no idea what race anyone is.

Because of all that population has been subjected to through the years for segregation, dispossession, leading to black people living in areas where poor air quality and having much higher rates of comorbidities, all the accrued legacy of structural racism, this is the result. This is what it looks like when people make the argument that race, that anti-Black racism, in particular is the central story in this country.

These graphs show what that means in a tangible sense for arguably the most important thing we have for all of us, which is how long we get to stay on this planet.



HAYES: Scott Apley was the kind of person who makes up the backbone of state political parties across the country. You can find them in any state. He was a city council member in Dickinson, Texas. That`s his state. An official in the Galveston Republican Party, he was active in local conservative politics and on Twitter where he frequently posted Bible verses and engaged in right-wing causes.

Back in April, Dr. Leanna Wen posted a benign tweet about the vaccine, Apley told her in response, "You`re an absolute enemy of a free people telling her to shove the carrot where the sun don`t shine." On Sunday, Scott Apley was admitted to the hospital and he was diagnosed with COVID. He succumbed to the disease early this morning. He was 45 years old. He leaves behind a wife and an infant son.

The Texas Republican Party put out a statement celebrating Apley`s life offering prayers for his family. It`s notable the statement doesn`t mention the circumstances of his death. It`s because in this bizarre alternate reality that`s been constructed in some corners of the American right in the pandemic age, you can`t admit the COVID is out there and that it`s dangerous and it`s deadly and it leads to awful tragedy.

We`ve seen this before. The former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, of course, died from COVID complications after attending Trump`s campaign rally in Tulsa. Trump offered his condolences on Facebook but never mentioned the cause of Herman Cain`s death. Two other national Republican politicians also died from COVID. And there was this strange air that hung over their desk too, because Republicans have created this view the virus just isn`t that bad or that dangerous, so you can`t really say anything about it.

Texas Congressman Ron Wright who had lung cancer died after contracting the virus earlier this year at the age of 67. The Texas GOP released a statement on his death that did not mention COVID. The Louisiana GOP did not mention COVID in their statement either after Congressman-elect Luke Letlow passed away from COVID at the age of 41, weeks before he was eligible for the vaccine, just days before he should have been sworn into Congress.

His widow Julia Letlow took a seat in Congress. And now, seven months after her husband`s death, she`s telling her story and urging others to get the shots.



LETLOW: Someone asked, well, what would you -- what would you tell somebody who was on the fence about possibly receiving the vaccine? And I said, I tell them about Luke. I would tell him my story.

I would have given anything. I would have given everything for that shot to be available for us. I mean, looking back now, and for someone to turn it away, I just -- it`s heartbreaking to me. And it is a horrific way to leave this world. I don`t wish it on anyone else. We have the answer. Let`s use it.


HAYES: It`s so important for folks like Congresswoman Letlow to come out and to tell her story, endorsed the vaccines. And we`re seeing more of that. A lot of it from political leaders has been driven by some serious regrets by a bunch of Republicans particularly who just didn`t say anything for a long time and now we`re staring into the abyss.

That includes Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson who`s now regretting a ban on mask mandates, but finding it hard to get it reversed. The quandary for Governor Hutchinson and other Republicans next.



HAYES: Arkansas just recorded its largest daily increase in COVID hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic, result of a nearly 70 percent increase in cases in the last two weeks. Now, the Governor of Arkansas is having regrets over his handling of the pandemic earlier this year when he decided to sign a ban on mask mandates in April.


HUTCHINSON: 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. 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.


HAYES: Governor Hutchinson is now asking state lawmakers to reconsider the mask ban so that local school districts can require mass for kids when classes start up in a few weeks. Currently, nearly 20 percent of the state of Arkansas has COVID cases are among children under 18. You would think with numbers like that, with less than 40 percent of the state fully vaccinated, Governor Hutchinson could convince the state`s Republican-led legislature to overturn the ban. But it`s easier said than done. When you look at the kind of response the governor is getting as he tries to hold the COVID vaccine town halls across the state.


HUTCHINSON: I would like to have one person that would speak. Will somebody wish to speak from the corner here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s in the vaccine? Give me the answer. So if you inform consent means you tell me what you put my body. If Mr. Doctor gives me a vial says trust me, I`ll give you a vial, you trust me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What will save lives, Governor? And it`s not the vaccine. We know nothing about them. But we know about therapeutics.


HAYES: That`s -- well, that`s a public health challenge brought about in large part by a number of people in the right who peddle disinformation, who have been pushing freedom over Fauci-ism in the terms of Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. As Nobel laureate and opinion columnist Paul Krugman writes, "When people on the right talk about freedom, what they actually mean is closer to defensive privilege, specifically the right of certain people, generally white male Christians, to do whatever they want.

And Paul Krugman joins me now. So, Paul, you wrote about Florida. And this is -- and it hit on something that I`ve been thinking about a lot. And there`s two ways I think of viewing the response to COVID in sort of ideological terms I`d like to get your feedback.

So, first, I should note that the best response in the state or in the country arguably has been Phil Scott, Republican Governor of Vermont. There`s other Republican governors who did well. But the way I`ve been thinking about it is, is there an inherent part of conservatism and its skepticism of essentially regulation of negative externalities that has made it so wedded to this kind of bizarre freedom of the grave on things like masks and social distancing, or is this just a kind of fluke, disordered version of conservatism we have now? Which do you think it is?

PAUL KRUGMAN, OPINION COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Actually, neither. The lesson I`ve taken, the revelation for me has been that it`s not even -- It`s not even about a reflexive opposition to regulating negative externalities. I mean, that`s been true of something like climate change. But what`s really striking about the Republican response here in places like Florida is that in fact, they`re all into regulation.

You know, the right has told us for decades that business people should have the right to make their own decisions. If they want to deny service to somebody based on whatever criteria, their sexual preference, their race, freedom -- free markets business has the right to do that. But suddenly, it turns out that it`s not OK. It`s illegal for a business to deny service to someone who refuses to wear a mask or someone who refuses to provide evidence of vaccination status.

So, it turned out this whole freedom, free markets thing was -- is not what they really care about. Do they -- as I said, this word to them does mean what we think it means. They`re really talking about something quite different and my guess is it`s privilege. But that`s the most amazing thing.

If all this free-market rhetoric and then suddenly when businesses choose to do something responsible about a pandemic, then all of a sudden, well, no, we`re going to crack down on business and force them to go the way we want them to. It`s just -- you know, it has been a kind of, you know, what President Obama used to call a teachable moment. We`ve learned something -- we`ve learned that basically it`s been -- it`s been a fraud all along.


HAYES: Well, it`s a good point particularly in, you know, I think Ron DeSantis who is the subject of your column who I would say, has not had the worst COVID response in the -- in the country. There`s been far, far worse. But to me, the single most deranged piece of COVID policy during the entire pandemic was DeSantis signing an order banning cruise ships of all places from requiring vaccination, right?

I mean, again, that`s -- they want to have -- this is a purely logical -- I mean, it`s both sound from a public health perspective, but obviously, from a business perspective, that`s a logical thing. You want to have vaccinated people on your cruise ship. To step in and use state power to interrupt that.

KRUGMAN: I mean, this is a twofer, right? I mean, it`s hard to think of anything stupider than not taking precautions on a cruise ship. It`s a petri dish. It`s a -- you can`t think of a -- of a worse environment to not be taking proper precautions. And then, whatever happened to the sacrosanct rate of businesses to, you know, -- of the private sector to make its own choices? All of a sudden, you have this draconian heavy-handed public regulation basically on the surface of death, which is quite an amazing thing.

I mean, as we`ve said, they`re -- sorry, I`m doing it myself -- DeSantis has a lot of competition in terms of doing a bad job. But that may be the single most spectacularly regulatory, horrible but regulatory action that we`ve seen.

HAYES: What`s also strange here, this -- we had this polling out today that that, you know, DeSantis, his approval rating has gone down. He`s at 44 percent. Biden actually has a higher approval rating in Florida. And all the things you see, again, for all this sort of polarization that we`ve seen around these mask mandates and vaccination, you know, vaccination is kind of like a -- it`s like a 60-40, 65-35 issue. There`s vast -- big majorities of Americans who, you know, support it. There`s -- this was true of a lot of COVID measures.

So, it`s not even -- I mean, in terms of your point about what`s ideologically regulatory, it`s not even political pandering in the sense of -- at least not pandering to the broad public. I mean, sometimes the broad public could be wrong about something and you`re pander into them. Like, you know, there`s a time when the death penalty was very popular. I don`t think it`s any good. But you can`t even explain it that way.

KRUGMAN: Yes. This is -- I think we need to put this in context. It`s all linked together. All this stuff, it makes no sense at all in terms of science. It makes no sense at all really even in terms of short-term politics. But this notion that certain kinds of people -- you know, like I said, basically white male Christians, but certain kinds of people are not supposed to be inconvenienced. They`re not supposed to be asked to make sacrifices. That`s for the other people.

And that`s why -- I mean, one of the things I`ve noticed a lot is the extraordinary rage over tiny things. So, one of the things I use say, there was this crazy thing about phosphates and detergent. And you know, nobody really notices that but it became a symbol. And I think that`s what`s happened is that that vaccination, mask-wearing have become symbols of this horrible notion that maybe we`re all in this together.

HAYES: Yes. This former Arkansas -- this Arkansas lawmaker, current state senator Trent Garner had this tweet. He sponsored the ban on masks that Hutchinson now regrets. He says, the mask mandate ban in Arkansas was one of the most important laws we passed. The left wants more control over you and your children`s lives. Masking is now about power, not public safety. The left is attacking because they know we`re winning.

Now, again, it`s like, you know, I don`t -- I`ve said this a million times in the show. I don`t like wearing masks. I understand why they`re important in large indoor public gatherings, particularly in the time of Delta. But the most important law you pass like, wow.

KRUGMAN: Yes. Chris, I mean, in ways, it`s right. It`s anti-masking that`s about power, right? It`s about the statement of, you know, who`s in control here. And yes, this is truly an amazing thing. And how -- of all the hills to die on, basically, to say that you have the right to endanger other people`s health, but that is where they`ve gone.

HAYES: Yes. I`m hoping that we can get school off the ground safely in the southern states. I`m hoping that Delta receded as quickly as it came. We have our fingers crossed on that and a lot of fronts. Paul Krugman, as always, thanks for making time tonight.

KRUGMAN: Thanks for having me on.

HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now with Ali Velshi back in for Rachel. Good evening, Ali.