IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 9/17/21

Guests: Joe Neguse, Celine Gounder, Craig Whitlock, Ro Khanna


Trump critics face threats and harassment from MAGA mobs. The Capitol Hill braces for the pro-January 6 Rally tomorrow. The FDA Advisory Committee late today recommends against a third dose booster shot of Pfizer`s vaccine for most of the 180 million fully vaccinated Americans but recommends it to 65 and older.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: This debate to justify white nationalist radicalism and social unrest is truly the absolute worst.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.



THOMAS MANGER, CHIEF, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: There have been some threats of violence associated with this -- the events for tomorrow.

HAYES: Barricades at the Capitol as threats of physical violence help scare the United States congressman into retiring.

REP. ANTHONY GONZALEZ (R-OH): The truth is the environment is very toxic. And especially, you know, the dynamics inside our own party.

HAYES: Tonight, have violence and the threat of violence or undermining American democracy. Then, making sense of the FDA`s split decision on vaccine booster shots. And are the fossil fuel giants about to face their big tobacco moment?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes or no, do you believe nicotine is not addictive?

JOSEPH TADDEO, PRESIDENT, U.S. TOBACCO COMPANY: I don`t believe that nicotine or our products are addictive.



HAYES: Congressman Ro Khanna on the hearings to investigate fossil fuels role in climate change when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Politics in a functioning liberal democracy is about organizing people and power in institutions. It`s about persuasion and argumentation and resolving the inherent conflict within societies non-violently, right.

Things completely fall apart once you end up in a political reality in which menace and the threat of physical violence are a central factor in the life of your nation`s politics. That is a reality I fear is becoming common in this country.

Now, it really started to intensify during the height of the pandemic last year where we saw an inundation of threats of physical violence directed at public health officials who were very sensibly saying the virus is real, that we should take steps to stop it spread.

We saw with national figures like Dr. Anthony Fauci who received so many death threats for being the face of public health in this country, the government provided him with his own security detail. And with Dr. Deborah Birx who previously served as the pandemic response coordinator, she said, she simply ran out of enough time to report all the threats against her family.

We also saw threats directed at state and local experts like the director of LA`s Public Health Department, who was forced to publicly condemn the torrent of harassment directed at her and her colleagues. In fact, one executive and her organization representing local health officials said dozens of local public health experts left their positions last year, many of whom complained about being villainized by their community.

We also saw a disturbing trend of violence related to the 2020 election. And while there were incidents directed at members of both parties, only one side was being actively amplified by then-President of the United States who whipped his supporters into a frenzy believing the election was going to be stolen from him.

The National Association of State Election Directors called the run-up to the election "more challenging than ever imagined." Secretaries of state from both parties received death threats from Trump`s supporters with Arizona Secretary of State being assigned a security detail this past May because the threats had not abated even six months after the election.

But it wasn`t just high-profile targets. One county elections official told ProPublica they lived in fear that one tweet from Donald Trump would invite thousands of threatening phone calls. Unless we forget, one of the Trump campaigns lawyers called for a federal security expert to be shot for saying the 20 election was secure.

And then, of course, there was January 6 when the President`s supporters made good on their threats, storming the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to use physical force and violence and intimidation to intimidate lawmakers into keeping Donald Trump in power, very -- that that`s what they were doing. They were very clear about that.

That was something the President not only seemed to encourage in his speech before the insurrection, but as it was happening. You know, we now know Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican phoned President Trump to call the rioters only for the President to reportedly respond, "well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.

So, January 6 was the moment when Trump`s encouragement of threats of violence dating back to the early days of his campaign, he told his supporters to beat up protesters finally became a reality. And the fallout of that insurrection, 10 House Republicans and seven Senate Republicans were so scandalized and traumatized by what they had seen and experienced, they broke partisan ranks to vote to impeach or convict Donald Trump.

It was the most bipartisan impeachment vote in the history of this country, and it did not come without a price. First, the fallout from January 6, the impeachment is still very much a mobilizing factor for the fringe of the Republican Party. So much so that preparations are underway for a rally tomorrow in support of the rioters and insurrectionists, again, who as a group, try to use physical force to install Donald Trump into another term over the will of the American people.


Then there are the 10 House Republicans who supported impeachment. They continue to face both political pressure and again this sort of ever- present looming specter of some kind of violence. In addition to losing her position in Republican leadership over her vote to impeach Trump, Congresswoman Liz Cheney spent nearly $60,000 of campaign money on private security amid a torrent of death threats following the impeachment trial.

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler was -- of Washington was first -- who first recounted that conversation with Kevin McCarthy had with Trump while the instruction was ongoing, has since purchased a new security system for her home. We just learned that Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, sort of a young rising star in the party, two-term Republican from Ohio will retire from Congress at the end of his term. He was one of those yes votes on impeachment, in large part because of the threats against him and his family over his support for that impeachment.

And announcing his retirement, Congressman Gonzalez described an incident in New York Times which his family was greeted at the airport by uniformed police officers, part of an additional security detail following his impeachment vote. The congressman told the paper, he asked himself, "Is this really what I want for my family when they travel to have my wife and kids escorted through the airport?"

Now, at one level, it`s the latest example of the Republican Party purging Trump critics by any means necessary. And for his part, the ex-president is celebrating the victory that threats of physical violence helped to produce, right, helped to scare a United States congressman into retiring, writing in a statement, one down and nine to go.

Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado is on the impeachment managers in Donald Trump`s second trial who successfully convinced 10 of his Republican colleagues to support impeachment, and he joins me here tonight. First, just your reaction to the story.

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): I think it`s a troubling development for the health of our democracy and our ability to function as a constitutional republic. I know Anthony. He`s a friend. I think he is -- you know, he`s a conservative Republican member. Him and I are of the same age. We`ve co- chaired a bipartisan caucus in the Congress.

We have many policy disagreements, but fundamentally, he is a patriotic American. And he chose to choose ultimately rather a country over party and put country over party during the course of that impeachment trial and refuse to capitulate to President Trump. And I think it is a deeply troubling sign that he no longer has a place within the House Republican caucus and I think a harbinger of things to come.

HAYES: Representative Meyer who was also one of the yes votes, freshmen, right? He`s just been elected. I remember him saying something to the extent that he had other Republicans telling him they were disposed to vote yes, but they were literally physically scared. And, you know, that`s partly self-serving, but I guess I`m curious, like, you know, there`s a certain level, which in the world of social media, people say all sorts of stuff, right? I mean, everyone sort of gets used to that.

It does seem to me like there`s a little bit of a difference in kind here to when you get the bull`s eye on you from the Trump MAGA folks that is different than the normal stuff.

NEGUSE: Oh, no question. I think there`s certainly a distinction and a difference. The threat is very real. And one of the distinctions of this particular era that we`re living in that I find so disturbing is the normalization of political violence, and in particular, the ubiquity of that violence across multiple areas of civic life.

You talked about it. I don`t think anybody would imagine that you`d have threats of violence against public health officials, local county clerks. Again, I think it is a warning signal, right, an alarm with respect to the health of our constitutional republic and whether we can continue to function in that way with this kind of normalization of political violence.

HAYES: And then, of course, you`ve got the -- you`ve got the ex-president stoking it. This is his comment on the -- on the folks that are, you know, pending trial. Some of whom are -- many of whom re out on bail, some of whom are still incarcerated. Our hearts and minds over the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6 protest concerning the rigged presidential election. In addition to everything else, it has proven conclusively that we are two-tiered system of justice. In the end, however, justice will prevail. That that voice in that message matter for the folks in that party.

NEGUSE: That`s right, it has not gone away. And one of my concerns is I think we have been lulled into this sense of complacency that the threats that existed on January 6 have somehow gone away. They have metastasized. It`s been under the surface perhaps because the former president no longer has a Twitter account and a Facebook page. They are not on the front page of the newspaper every day.

But rest assured they -- those threats still exist. And of course, as though you needed more evidence of that, we see the rally that`s scheduled to take place tomorrow literally nine months after the insurrection.

HAYES: Are you worried about that?

NEGUSE: I am. I certainly hope that there is no violence. That it doesn`t descend to the type of violence that we experienced firsthand on January 6. I was there at the Capital on the floor during the insurrection. I think that there were lessons learned in terms of our police posture and so forth. And so, I`m certainly hoping that it doesn`t descend into violence. But the mere fact that it is happening should concern every American.


HAYES: Yes. I mean, one thing I think is probably useful to communicate to folks is that, you know, I spent time around members of Congress like yourself. You`re not going around with huge security retinue. I mean, you basically live like normal people, right? I mean, and so, you know, this stuff gets in your head a little bit. I mean, I think you can see it.

I want to play what Gonzalez said, but just him saying that -- him saying that at times it really struck me, that this was the moment. Like, you show up in an airport, and I think someone like yourself -- like you`re used to just going where you go like a normal person. And to have -- you know, your kid is going to put their hand in the hand of a cop to go through the airport is really sort of unnerving.

Here`s what he said in a local interview.

GONZALEZ: The truth is, the environment is very toxic. And especially, you know, the dynamics inside our own party which have sort of stopped making sense to me in a lot of ways. We just seem to have lost the ability to dialogue and to reason, and to do it in a way that`s respectful and thoughtful inside of politics.

Our politics has gotten so polluted, that you know, that environment, for me personally, it`s just not one that that I`m willing to be a part of going forward.


HAYES: There`s also a selection process here which I find really unnerving which is that, you know, who -- he was going to be replaced most likely, it`s very red district, with the kind of person who is a devotee of Donald Trump and maybe thinks the election was rigged. It probably -- that would probably be a litmus test in that race.

NEGUSE: That`s right. No, I mean, he committed the cardinal sin which is to go against the former President Trump. And I suspect his replacement will be a far right member who will adhere to that philosophy that has taken hold within the House Republican caucus. I couldn`t agree more with what Representative Gonzalez said. And I hope that more Americans listen to his message to the extent that we can actually debate policy issues in an intellectual way and not have this descend into threats, as you said, that pose real risks to those of us who have families and children and so forth.

HAYES: What is it -- what is it like on the hill right now? It was -- it was so palpably dysfunctional and tense and toxic for those first few months. I mean, I was just -- folks like yourself, come on at the right program. I was in conversation off the record with members of Congress, and it was just so clear that like, you guys were A, kind of traumatized, B, just in a very, very bad work environment, just as human beings in a work environment was clearly very bad. Has it improved?

NEGUSE: It`s hard to say, Chris, but if I was compelled to answer, I would say it hasn`t. It`s just as vitriolic as it was before. And again, I mean, think about the context in which we find ourselves in just yesterday -- today, rather, I`m sorry. It`s Friday. Our staff at the Capitol were encouraged not to come to work today because of another protest that was planned that could very well descend into violence.

HAYES: Congressman Joe Neguse who is my first onset guest in 18 months. I think the last time I was sitting in a studio with someone, it was like the mayor of New York being like, well, we`re hoping that it doesn`t go -- that`s really wild. So, it`s great to have you here.

NEGUSE: Good to be back.

HAYES: I hope to see you again soon.

All right, Brandy Zadrozny is a senior reporter for NBC News who has extensively covered the threat of right-wing extremism in the Trump era. Her latest reporting outlines the Paranoia infighting among the insurrectionist crowd ahead of tomorrow`s event.

Brandy, yours and Ben`s reporting on this was illuminating to me in so far as the paranoia has extended far enough that they have appeared to have convinced themselves the event they planned is a false flag.

BRANDY ZADROZNY, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so we`re seeing a lot of -- on the forums that were -- I`m sorry, on the forums that were before, I`m hearing feedback so it makes me sound a little crazy. But on the forum before that we`re really cheering the January 6 rally, those people are all now saying, don`t go. This is a false flag. This is the honeypot. Thisdis a Fed trap to make you commit crime. And so, nobody`s going that we can really tell.

HAYES: It also seems that there`s a little bit of face-saving here from some folks, particularly from the ex-president, which is that it looked like maybe it was headed towards being a little bit of a dud and a bust. And some people trying to sort of get out ahead of that.

ZADROZNY: Yes. So, this protest or this rally is being planned by this guy Matt Braynard. He`s a low-level campaign staffer for the 2016 Trump campaign. He was fired according to him. And so, he started this group. Look at America -- Look Ahead America. And basically he`s a duelist player in Trump world and MAGA politics.

Now, he like so many others found a really easy business opportunity in questioning the integrity of the 2020 election. So, he raised more than $650,000 to investigate this so-called voter fraud. We can see how that went. Now he`s pivoting to January 6 conspiracy theories claiming that the DOJ has sort of unfairly prosecuted January 6 people. That they were just sort of roaming around the Capitol and that they should all be free.

So, for me, it`s really a story about a small-time political wannabe writing the continued mega wave of them in order to make money. But it also really important day that this is a -- it`s an idea that really permeate the far right. And so, if it were someone with a little work (INAUDIBLE), it was someone with a little better standing in MAGA world. We might be looking at something very, very different.


HAYES: See, this is -- what has been striking to me about this also is the difference between a universe in which Donald Trump is the President of the United States and on every platform, rallying people to go do something and him not being that. I mean, that that really does make a difference. It was apparent on January sixth, in watching this develop.

Him not being on Twitter, him not being on Facebook, him not being president, like all seems to me, massively important in terms of how many people can be sort of riled up to go to something like this.

ZADROZNY: Donald Trump was an incredible unifier of extremist factions, from QAnon, to anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, to militia groups, to you know, Proud Boys, street thugs, like you name it. He could really rally them to all come together. And, you know, he did it several times. And the last time that he managed to do it for the rally on the Capitol, we saw what happened.

So it`s good news in terms of tomorrow, we don`t really expect to see the sort of violence that we saw or anywhere close to on January 6. But you know, again, like, you know, that stuff is still there, those ideas are still out there. And like you showed so well on your first segment, you know, the way that we`re seeing that violence is that lower local level.

So, we`re seeing, you know, doctors and healthcare professionals being harassed and sometimes assaulted. We`re seeing journalists being assaulted in Portland and in LA during anti-trans-protests. We`re seeing school board meetings where QAnon people, and anti-maskers, and just general people who want to make a name for themselves are getting up and harassing school board members or harassing school board members as they leave saying, we know where you live.

It is a -- there is -- it is an environment where violence is sort of just there all around us all the time. And then you have this plausible deniability in this gaslighting where, you know, members of the right say, oh, we`re just going to the school board meetings. Oh, we`re just exercising our first amendment rights. Oh, we`re just going to the Capitol and you know, the cops opened up the gates, so it`s fine, and it`s not. And I think that we have to call violence and the threat of violence when they see it.

HAYES: Brandy Zadrozny, great reporting as always. Thanks for joining us tonight.

One moment at -- one month after the President announced booster shots for all Americans were coming, the FDA pulls the handbrake. So, just who will actually be eligible for a booster? Are you confused about this? I am somewhat confused. We`re going to try to sort it out next.



Today an advisory committee from the Food and Drug Administration voted to give booster shots to Americans 65 or older, as well as folks high risk for severe COVID. However, the committee voted against giving booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine to most eligible Americans, meaning people over 16, which is somewhat of a blow to the Biden ministration as it been originally hoping for approval to begin rolling out extra doses to every American adult starting next week.

The decision not to offer the extra doses to most Americans seem to come down to data that did not quite justify a booster when the vaccine appears to still be working the way it is designed to which is protecting against severe illness, hospitalization and death.

One FDA committee member told The New York Times that it`s unclear that everyone needs to be boosted other than a subset of the population that clearly would be at a high risk for serious disease. So, the question now becomes what next?

To help me answer that, I want to bring in Dr. Celine Gounder. She`s an infectious disease specialist and a former member of the Biden transition COVID-19 advisory board. Before we get to the votes today, I just want to start with the data. Because there`s a -- there`s an Israeli data set that I think was the one that was the most probably useful. And I didn`t quite understand what that data said.

It seemed to me to suggest that the benefit to the immunity, immune protection from a booster was really small and short, like 12 days. What is that data -- what do the data say that this was grounded on?

CELINE GOUNDER, FORMER MEMBER, BIDEN TRANSITION COVID-19 ADVISORY BOARD: Chris, you know, I think what the data clearly shows is that among the elderly, which the Israelis defined as over 60 in that age group, you do see an increased risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. However, that data was really inconclusive as to whether there was truly an increased risk among younger people.

And it really did require digging in, looking at that data more closely, and analyzing it more closely to really understand some of the trends that we`re seeing over time and trying to sort out what`s waning immunity or not, what is related to the Delta variant or not, and what`s related simply to the fact that older people got vaccinated first.

HAYES: Okay, we need to take a step back. When you say the increased risk, right, you`re talking about -- there were suggestion that people 65 and older, of senior citizens, the longer they went, the more that risk of that severe illness increase. So, that`s one finding. Then the question becomes, if we`re seeing some immunity waning, is another shot doing the trick. right. And it seems to be suggestive on both but not a slam dunk. Is that a fair characterization?

GOUNDER: I think that`s right. I think there`s pretty good evidence that there is increased risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death among the elderly with time since vaccination. With respect to whether an additional dose of vaccine restores that immunity, that`s really unclear honestly from this data, because they had such a short period of follow up.

You know, only a couple of weeks of follow up is really not enough to tell you, are you boosting that level of immunity long term or is it really just a short term boost?


HAYES: I see. So, the recommendation today is seniors over 65 should get a booster shot. And there`s, I think, sufficient supply. right? There`s also then this question of using the doses that exist. And there`s something of a zero sum game because there`s a certain amount of doses. This was the recent piece in Lancet echoing things that WHO had said that calling for a moratorium on boosting until the benefits of primary vaccination had been made available to more people around the world. This is a compelling issue, particularly as a currently available evidence does not show the need for widespread use of booster vaccination in populations that have received an effective primary vaccination regimen.

Now, that consideration is outside of the FDA`s portfolio, correct? Like they`re making this solely based on the data.

GOUNDER: Yes, the FDA really just rules on safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. They`re not in the business of making broader public health recommendations, you know, is -- are these vaccine doses best used here in the United States? Are they best used around the world? That`s really not their mandate. And so, they really just ruled specifically on the data, looking at was there an increased risk, of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, and in which populations -- and so therefore, which populations would benefit from an additional dose.

HAYES: So people that are over 65, are recommended to get a booster shot starting soon, I think. And that`s going to be available. I guess I didn`t quite understand as I was tracking this -- the source, it seemed like there was an intense controversy and fight happening inside the government, right? You`ve got two FDA, people who even resigned over it when Joe Biden came out in August, saying this is going to be our plan. And I guess I just didn`t quite understand what the stakes of that fight was. It`s just like, people had different views on what the data said. Was there something deeper I was missing in terms of subtext?

GOUNDER: I think this is a different read of the data. And I think it depends to some degree. Are you a basic scientist looking at laboratory data at antibody levels? Are you an epidemiologist who looks at big-picture population level data? Or are you looking at both? And I think that does somewhat bias the perspective of the specific scientists looking at the data.

And I think that`s also where some of this schism occurred was between people who are looking at this big picture at the population level, and people looking at this at the laboratory level.

HAYES: So, the laboratory level, what you`re saying is, if you`re looking at it at the laboratory, you will you see boosted immunity, boosted antibodies, and it`s like, OK, there`s some -- there`s a case here for this. If you`re looking to population level, the question is, how long does that last and what`s the marginal increase in efficacy of deploying a booster at scale? What does that get us? Is that what you`re saying?

GOUNDER: Yes, that`s exactly right. So, are you relying on antibodies to really tell us what immunity is going to look like? And we know that yes, with an infection or with a vaccination, you see a spike in antibody levels, but those levels will wane. They will come down. If they did not, if you had high antibody levels to every single infection or vaccination you`d had in your lifetime, your blood would literally turn to sludge. And so we rely on memory cells to kick back into play and rev up antibody responses when you`re exposed.

HAYES: Right. OK, final question. Is -- and then I`ll let you go. Should we anticipate that this is going to be like the flu shot where there`s yearly, you know, we`re getting vaccinated for it routinely or is it more like tetanus?

GOUNDER: Yes, this is where I think the terminology of booster is wrong. It`s really an additional dose. Most vaccines are given as two, three, or four dose regimens. And so, we anticipate that eventually this will be a three-dose regimen.

HAYES: OK, all right. That`s helpful. Dr. Celine Gounder, thank you so much for making time tonight.

GOUNDER: My pleasure.

HAYES: Still ahead, an appalling reminder of the carnage of U.S. counter- terror policy as the Pentagon finally admits the truth about the drone attack that killed an aid worker and seven kids in Kabul. That`s next.



CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: As we withdrew U.S. forces from Afghanistan last month and started to evacuate American and Afghan civilians, there was a terrible attack on the Kabul airport by a branch of ISIS called ISIS-K.

You`ll remember, 13 American servicemembers lost their lives in that attack, alongside more than 170 Afghans according to the Washington Post. It was brutal. Happened right by the airport amidst this crowd.

And just days later, the U.S. conducted a drone strike on a man the military believed was equal to ISIS facilitator.

Now, days after the attack, the nation`s top military officer General Mark Milley defended the strike amid reports of civilian deaths saying "At this point, we think the procedures were correctly followed, and that this was a righteous strike."

Well, today, the Pentagon admitted it was not an attack on an ISIS facilitator. It was instead an attack on 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children.

These are images of those who were killed in the strike according to The New York Times and The Independent. The adults were Zemari Ahmadi, his cousin Naser, and his 20-year-old son Zamir. Ahmadi`s younger sons were also killed Faisal and Farzad. As well as his nephews, Benyamin and Arwin.


HAYES: Three young girls were also killed in the strike, little girls Ayat, Sumaya and Malika. All of them have names like our children have names, like your children have names. Like Ryan, David and Anya have names.

The so-called explosives, the military claim they saw on the back of the truck are likely water bottles. And with that extensive reporting from New York Times, which did an incredible job of investigating security footage leading up to the strike and showing fairly conclusively that they killed the wrong person -- people. It is hard to know if we would have heard the Pentagon say today they mistakenly killed 10 people, 10 innocent people living their lives.

Here`s the thing, killings by our government and our military like this are not new. In fact, they have been frequent. Horrifically so throughout the two decades of war the U.S. has waged in Afghanistan. They are a huge part of the reason it was time for the U.S. to leave Afghanistan and why so many civilians were happy to see us go.

Craig Whitlock is an investigative reporter for The Washington Post, author of The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War and he joins me now.

Craig, I can`t help but feel a certain frustration with the reaction to this insofar as this has been something very common throughout the war on terror and has been largely occluded from the consciousness of the American public by and large.

CRAIG WHITLOCK, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: You know, what was unusual about this case, Chris, is that there was such extensive evidence collected by news media organizations in terms of surveillance video and witness statements that showed very clearly that the targets here were not terrorists, that this was an aid worker and his family that the Pentagon`s account of what happened originally just didn`t stand up to scrutiny. And that`s because it`s happened in Kabul and there were lots of reporters around.

But most of the airstrikes and drone strikes in Afghanistan and other places occurred in rural areas where there`s no journalists here to witness it, or they can only come in days later.

So, what`s unusual about this case is that there was essentially video of what happened, and it was pretty well documented that the official version was false.

HAYES: Brown University, the Costs of War Project has said this, in fact that we had sort of amped -- we had amped up our strikes in 2019 and 2020. Then, in 2019 airstrikes killed 700 civilians more (INAUDIBLE) civilians than in any other year since the beginning of the war, in `01 and `02.

And the international -- and the numbers of civilians killed by international airstrikes increased about 330 percent from 2016, the last full year of the Obama administration to 2019.

So, there had been an increased pace of this kind of activity in the last few years.

WHITLOCK: Yes, and this is a time when the American public really wasn`t paying very much attention to Afghanistan.

But under President Trump, the number of airstrikes in the war in Afghanistan intensified to new levels that hadn`t been seen previously in the war.

So, even though we had many fewer troops on the ground in Afghanistan than we did at the height of the surge under President Obama, the air wars reached new record levels of airstrikes, and the number of civilian casualties increased every year.

This went on until the last year, so when the U.S. sort of had a truce of sorts with the Taliban -- but this is something that`s absolutely true, the number of civilian casualties increased year by year and the airstrikes reached new levels.

So, this sort of thing was unfortunately very common in Afghanistan and in the last few years.

HAYES: And particularly in outside of Kabul, right, in rural areas. This dispatch file for the Wall Street Journal, I thought was very good. It was just about the fact that in these rural districts, there`s basically something approaching peace for the first time in two decades.

In Afghanistan`s rural districts where Taliban rules don`t differ that much from existing conservative customs, the calculation is different in terms of support. To villages here, the collapse of the Afghan republic and U.S. withdraw mean, above all, the guns have fallen silent for the first time in two decades.

WHITLOCK: That`s right, Chris. And there`s something else I want to point out about this strike though. The Pentagon said today that the threshold for them to get the green light to fire this missile was only that they needed a reasonable certainty, it`s how they described it, that the target in fact pose an imminent threat.

So, reasonable certainty, that doesn`t sound very iron-clad. That almost sounds like a little more than 50 percent guess that they think the target is a threat. That`s something that the Pentagon acknowledged to be that they need to raise that threshold in the future. But that`s something I think warrants a lot more scrutiny.

Here you have not just an attack, but it was in Kabul in the most populated city in Afghanistan where they knew they were going to be lots of civilians around. And, you know, that`s a kind of threshold that I think the military, but Congress as well needs to take a closer look at.


WHITLOCK: Because this is a tactic that, as you pointed out, has been going on for 20 years. That`s really the heart of our counterterrorism operations.

But going forward, you know, there`s some question as how not only effective this is in terms of hurting civilians or actually killing suspected terrorists. But does it cause more problems than it solves in terms of the backlash among civilians in that area?

Because, you know, there`s no question as you point out, rural areas of Afghanistan, there`s -- people are just so tired of war and tired of the violence and people aren`t real keen on the Taliban, but they`re just -- they just wanted to fighting to stop.

HAYES: Craig Whitlock, whose new book The Afghanistan Papers is out now and has been reporting about the war on terror in depth for years. Thank you very much.

WHITLOCK: You bet.

HAYES: Coming up, it was an iconic reckoning for the executive selling cigarettes.


SEN. RON WYDEN (D-OR): Do you believe nicotine is not addictive?


WYDEN: Mr. Johnston?

MR. JAMES JOHNSTON, FORMER CHAIRMAN AND CEO, RJ REYNOLDS TOBACCO COMPANY: Congressman, cigarettes and nicotine clearly do not meet the classic definitions of addiction.


HAYES: The congressman wants to do the big oil what Congress did to big tobacco, joins me ahead.



HAYES: Earlier this year, Greenpeace`s investigative platform revealed damning video they secretly recorded and it was a video of a senior lobbyist for ExxonMobil who confirmed on tape that the oil giant was actively fighting against legislation to tackle climate change.

He claimed to speak with moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin`s office every week in an effort to tamp down President Biden`s climate plans. And he admitted that ExxonMobil fought against climate science to protect their bottom line.


KEITH MCCOY, FEDERAL RELATIONS, EXXONMOBIL: Did we aggressively fight against some of the science? Yes. Did we join some of these shadow groups to work against some of the early efforts? Yes, that`s true.

But there`s nothing -- there`s nothing illegal about that. You know, we were looking out for our investments. We were looking out for -- our shareholders.


HAYES: Nothing illegal about it. That story and those revelations from the big oil lobbyists reminded me of what happened with big tobacco.

The big seven tobacco companies, the largest in the U.S. held incredible power and influence over American politics for many, many years. And they went essentially unregulated decade after decade, long after we knew that smoking carried a whole host of health risks.

There were some efforts to control over time, right? First, requiring a surgeon general`s warning on cigarette packs in 1965. Then banning all T.V. advertisements for cigarettes in 1971.

Again, a pretty big step. Banning the smoking on domestic flights lasting less than six hours in 1990.

Wasn`t until 1994 when the chief executives of the big seven were called to testify before Congress that we finally started to learn the truth about what the tobacco companies knew and what they were trying to hide.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finally, under oath, chief executives, top men of the nation`s seven biggest tobacco companies facing a subcommittee chaired by one of the industry`s fiercest critics, Congressman Henry Waxman, who`s accused them of manipulating nicotine content to keep smokers hooked.

Not so, said Philip Morris`s William Campbell.

CAMPBELL: We do not spike our cigarettes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, the committee moved to the bottom line, addiction.

WYDEN: Yes or no, do you believe nicotine is not addictive?

JOSEPH TADDEO, FORMER PRESIDENT, U.S. TOBACCO COMPANY: I don`t believe that nicotine or our products are addictive.


EDWARD A. HORRIGAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN AND CEO, LIGGETT GROUP INC.: I believe that nicotine is not addictive.


DONALD S. JOHNSTON, FORMER PRESIDENT AND CEO, AMERICAN TOBACCO COMPANY: And I, too, believe that nicotine is not addictive.


HAYES: Sure, guys. Just a few weeks after that hearing, The New York Times received leaked documents that proved that major tobacco company had known about the health hazards of cigarettes for decades and chose to remain silent to keep their research results secret to stop work on a safer cigarette and to pursue a legal and public relations strategy of admitting nothing.

The tobacco company`s lies and they were lies worked at a certain level. They bought them many years and probably billions and billions of dollars in revenue.

All those executives, they got rich. They had great retirements. Probably passed down a lot of wealth to their kids, all the while people were dying.

Now, in the year 2021, the oil industry is basically doing the same thing. But in this case, it`s our entire planet and all of us who are going to pay.

So, what are we going to do about it? Well, the chairman of the House Environmental Subcommittee is prepared to stage hearings of big oil executives, just like those tobacco hearings 25 years ago to get to the bottom of their lies about climate science. I`ll talk to him next.



HAYES: The largest tree in the entire world is right here in the U.S., it is a giant sequoia in California named General Sherman. It has been growing for about 2,500 years.

Tonight, it is directly in the path of a dangerous wildfire. And all park rangers can do is wrap the tree in fire resistant foil. That is one small bit of reality of the changing climate.

As the United Nations found in the recent report, human caused emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are the primary driver of such changes.

And yet, for decades, many oil and gas companies like Exxon knew the world`s use of fossil fuels would warm the planet and could eventually endanger humanity.

But they chose to put its muscle behind efforts to manufacture doubt about the reality of global warming its own scientists had once confirmed.

Now, Congress is investigating.

Yesterday, the House Environmental Subcommittee sent letters to the CEOs of four major oil companies, along with the presence of two trade groups requesting information on their organization`s role in spreading disinformation, setting a hearing date of October 28th.

Congressman Ro Khanna is a Democrat from California. He`s chair of the Environment Subcommittee that is planning on holding these hearings and he joins me now.

Congressman, tell me what the idea is behind this hearing.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Well, Chris, you framed it exactly correctly. We want to have big oil hearings, like Waxman had the big tobacco hearings. In fact, people advising Waxman actually are helping us craft the investigation.

There are three main objectives. First, get the executives to admit the climate disinformation they`ve had in the past.

Second, ask what the ongoing activities are in killing climate legislation, or funding shadowing group -- shadow groups.

And third, get them to commit to stop that and not run interference in the president`s agenda.


HAYES: Well, they`re probably not going to do the third, right?

KHANNA: Well, look, I mean, they`ve told their own board of directors that they`re for sustainability. I mean, they are telling the American public even in response to our letters, they`re saying that they actually are for good climate policy.

So, they have the First Amendment right to kill climate legislation. But what they don`t have the First Amendment right is to lie. They can`t lie to their board of directors, they can`t lie to their customers. And so, they need to come clean in what they`re actually doing.

HAYES: Yes, I mean, this -- I want to play this little bit of, again, from this -- that sort of interview with the -- with the lobbyists that was recorded by the Greenpeace folks and then, published by in the U.K., of him talking about the carbon tax, which I think is fascinating.

Basically, you`ve got a number of these companies say, oh, yes, we support a carbon tax. Would you think, well, that`s weird, I wouldn`t expect that. He sort of explains why that`s the case. Take a listen.


MCCOY: Nobody is going to propose a tax on all Americans. And the cynical side of me says, yes, we kind of know that. But it gives us a talking point that we can say, well, what is ExxonMobil for? We`re for a carbon tax.

No, it`s not -- it`s not going to -- carbon tax isn`t going to happen. And the bottom line is, it`s going to take political courage, political will, in order to get something done and that doesn`t exist in politics. It just doesn`t.


HAYES: What do you think of that?

KHANNA: Well, it`s the most cynical explanation. And we have actually reached out to McCoy. Exxon has already produced the documents to our committee concerning all of that. Some very concerning documents that I don`t want to go into, but they`re going to have a lot of explaining to do.

And the reality is this, Chris, as the clips you played with big tobacco, what really killed them is those executives coming to Congress and lying.

And I think if the oil executives come before our committee and lie, they`re going to be done. The best thing they can do is come clean, tell us exactly what they`ve been doing and commit to stopping it.

HAYES: Yes, why does it matter -- I mean, I would love for the record to reflect what they know and what they`ve known but why does that matter?

KHANNA: Well, why it matters is we`re going to ask them, are you going to stop spending millions and millions of dollars on killing climate legislation? And they have one of two choices. Either they say no, in which case, they`re basically lying to their board of directors, lying to the American public. Or they say yes, and then if they continue to do it, they`ve committed perjury.

The reason they`ve gotten away with this is because, frankly, Democrats haven`t controlled Congress that much over the last 20 some years. So, we`ve never had the power of subpoena, and we haven`t been willing to use it.

And Carolyn Maloney and I have said, you`re going to come in, we`re willing to use any tool in our toolbox. And so, they really now are going to be under oath and it`s a different ballgame.

HAYES: Are they -- what are they doing up on the Hill right now? I mean, you`ve got this -- you know, you`ve got the clean energy standard, it`s been changed around, a little bit of clean electricity standard, or it`s going to be amount of money paid to utilities to get the reconciliation.

But this is really be key, right? We want to get utilities get moving away from fossil fuel. And how active are they on the Hill right now on this pressing point?

KHANNA: They`re very active. I mean, the clean energy standard, in my view, is the most important part about the reconciliation bill, it would create both incentives and stakes for utilities to move towards renewable energy by 2030.

And those lobbyists are working from what I hear, both with House Democrats and some House Democrats and senators to try to say, kill it or weaken it.

And what we`re saying is, now there`s going to be a magnifying glass, because you`re going to have to answer under oath whether you`re actually engaged in that kind of lobbying. And if you are, you`re going to have to explain that to the American public.

HAYES: When you say lying to their shareholders. I mean, there`s an interesting -- the angle here, right, is that they know that their business model is not sustainable long term. Like, you can`t pull oil out of the ground in 2080. You just can`t do it, right?

So, they have to have some story they`re telling shareholder and financial markets about what they`re going to do.

KHANNA: Chris, you`re right and actually, I was in New York coincidentally a couple days ago and someone in the finance industry said they have a capital problem. They`re with ESG investment, they know that giving investment into oil and gas companies without a sustainability plan is much more expensive investment.

So, they understand all of that. They had activists, board of directors, Exxon did elected who said we want to have a green energy plan.

Darren Woods, the CEO has said, OK, I want to have a green energy plan. We support climate legislation. That`s their public posture. They can`t then simultaneously be funding third party groups to kill climate legislation. They can`t be misleading their own company shareholders and I think that`s really the crux of their liability.

HAYES: All right, Congressman, Ro Khanna we will keep our eyes on that, which is coming up. Thank you.

That is ALL IN for this week. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.