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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 9/8/21

Guests: Jelani Cobb, Caroline Randall Williams, Alex Jahangir, Julie Fernandes, David Roberts


The statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia was removed after more than 130 years. Pressure from conservative lawmakers pushed the health department in Tennessee to tell its employees to not hold any COVID-19 vaccination events intended specifically for adolescents. Texas Governor defends abortion ban with a vow to eliminate all rapists. Today, the Biden administration announced a hugely ambitious goal to have solar energy make up nearly half of the nation`s electrical production by the year 2050.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN. A monument to an American trader comes down as new laws to choke democracy go up. The state of the moral universe as Robert E. Lee finally leaves the old Confederate capital.

Then, just what is the Justice Department planning to do to stop an out-of- control government in Texas?

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the states of Texas.

HAYES: Plus, as America`s worst COVID outbreak grows, new reporting on the right-wing backlash that led Tennessee to curb its own vaccination efforts.

SCOTT CEPICKY, REPUBLICAN STATE REPRESENTATIVE, TENNESSEE: That`s pure pressure applied by the state of Tennessee. Personally, I think it`s reprehensible that we would do that to our youth in Tennessee.

HAYES: And a stunning new Biden plan for America to get half its energy from the sun by the year 2050 when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. We all learn the story of the Civil War in school, at least the basics of it, slavery and the rights and status of enslaved people through America into a civil war from 1861 to 1865. The North, the union eventually won, and the south, the Confederate states that has succeeded were vanquished. And President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

But we are not taught hardly ever. I certainly was taught this only a little bit. But we know less about is what came after, after the union`s victory, which is the successful effort by those same Confederate forces to win back white supremacy in the south, and to win back the story of their own nobility.

And those victories are marked with monuments to the Confederacy to the losing side, to the traders, like this one of Robert E. Lee erected in the formal capital of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia in 1890, 25 years after Lee surrender and Appomattox.

And after the 13th, and 14th, and 15th amendments which made slavery illegal and unconstitutional in trying due process in our Constitution, and gave men of any color the right to vote and full citizenship, and after the Union victory, there was a hope born for people like Frederick Douglass and Thaddeus Stevens and Harriet Tubman of a true multiracial democracy enshrined in those Civil War Amendments of equal citizens under law with dignity and respect and freedom.

And the beginnings of that period, the period of reconstruction of the South with federal troops deployed to keep the peace, the Confederacy reduced to shameful and abject defeat. Black people were voting. They were registering to vote. And they were going to school and becoming local officeholders and mayors and town councilmen and members of Congress like Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi. I bet you`ve probably never heard that name. Maybe some of you know it. We don`t learn his name. He`s the first African American to serve in the upper chamber.

These were the actual beginnings of a true, genuine multiracial democracy in the south and in America that were then destroyed. And the effort to destroy it was this reactionary movement fought for decades by white Southerners to reclaim what they had lost in Appomattox, in Virginia, when the general of the Confederate Army, Robert E. Lee surrendered.

One of the first things those forces did was in Richmond, put up this massive 12 ton, 21-foot bronze statue of Robert E. Lee on a horse, an unmistakable message to all the Black people in Virginia about who was going to be in control in the city and the rest of the state. And then statues and monuments like these started to go up all over the place throughout the south, not just the south, though.

This chart published by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2019 shows two huge spikes in the construction of Confederate monuments in the early 1900s, then again, the 1950s and 60s. That first period of construction took place as southern states were enacting Jim Crow laws to essentially reimpose the apartheid rule that reconstruction had tried to abolish.

And the second period was during the modern civil rights movement, nearly 100 years after reconstruction. And during that movement with bloodshed and courageous action of people like the late John Lewis and many, many others, the country got the Voting Rights Act signed into law in 1965.

That Voting Rights Act reestablished a right to the franchise that had already been established in the constitution back in 1871, a battle for enfranchisement that had been won, and then lost, and then won again. And yet, no victory in this ongoing struggle about the nature of this country is ever final which is why there was such vicious folly, hubris, and cynicism even in the words of Chief Justice John Roberts in 2013 when he declared the South has changed.


Roberts wrote, "In the majority opinion in Shelby v Holder, the case that gutted a major provision of the Voting Rights Act that basically, well, racism may still exist but the system that creates inequality does not. And certainly, you can`t map it out." In 1965, the states can be divided into those with the recent history of voting tests and lower voter registration and turnout and those without those characteristics. Congress based its coverage formula on that distinction. Today, the nation is no longer divided along those lines, yet the Voting Rights Act continues to treat it as if it were.

And then he invented a constitutional principle to get rid of it. And that is, I would argue with a key turning point in the beginning of this direct assault to once again, melt the forces of reaction against multiracial democracy, because three years later, the country elected Donald Trump President. Donald Trump, by his own bragging, a great defender of monuments to white supremacy, including to Lee, and who had many times seem to channel the whole sordid and pathetic fantasies of Lee`s apologists.

You`ll remember during the summer of his first year in office, white men, snarling with torches, marched in Charlottesville. And what do they marched for? Putatively, they marched to stop a Robert E. Lee statue from coming down, carrying those torches and yelling, Jews will not replace us, among other things. One of them murdered a protester the very next day. And Trump said, well, they`re very fine people.

Then this past January, and a special election, the people of a former Confederate state made Raphael Warnock the first Black Georgian ever elected to the Senate, the first Black man from the states of the old confederacy in the U.S. Senate since reconstruction. And the very next day, a violent faction of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, almost successfully interrupting the peaceful transition of power, because if the country was going to be a true and equal multi democracy -- multiracial democracy, they didn`t want it. If it wasn`t theirs, it was not worth having. And so, they used American flags to beat cops. And they carry the Confederate flag, the flag of treason and slavery through the Capitol as they attempted to wrest back power for themselves.

The culmination of these dark forces from the unraveling of the Voting Rights Act, to the election of Trump, to Charlottesville, the attack on the Capitol on January 6, is a desperate attempt to forestall precisely the kind of world that Robert E. Lee fought against unsuccessfully.

Yet today, in Richmond, we bore witness to an incredible scene. This huge monument of the Confederacy in Richmond put up in 1890, the statue of Robert E. Lee that had been transformed by graffiti and anti-racist messages falling last summer`s murder of George Floyd was removed after more than 130 years, as people looked on chanting, hey, hey, goodbye.


CROWD: Hey, hey, hey, goodbye. Hey, hey, hey, goodbye.


HAYES: And there`s Virginia`s white governor Ralph Northam, who defied calls to resign in the face of blatant racism exhibited in his decades-old photo of his med school yearbook page. Remember that one surfacing showing one man in blackface, another in a KKK costume? No one quite sure which one was Northam, but he was probably one of the two.

That man, that product of a Virginia that made that kind of yearbook photo an acceptable thing to put in there, well, he`s the one who ordered the statues remove the last summer, and who celebrated by live-streaming it clearly viewing it as a political benefit for him for the Democratic Party in a state that is now reliably Democratic, that is considerably more progressive than many of the states throughout the older Confederacy.

The fact that Lee`s statue came down is no doubt a win for those of us who do believe in the project of multiracial democracy. But the broader lesson of Lee`s statue coming down is that no victory is ever definitive. No surrender ever final because the forces that oppose it endure and they are particularly organized and animated right now.

Caroline Randall Williams is a writer-in-residence at Vanderbilt University. She also serves as president of the Southern equity collective, the majority of black-owned multiracial, anti-racist consulting coalition, working to advise and educate organizations. Jelani Cobb is a professor at the Columbia Journalism School, a staff writer at the New Yorker. following the insurrection, he wrote a still very relevant piece titled Georgia, Trump`s Insurrectionist and Lost Causes. And they both join me now.

And Jelani, let me start with you because I thought of that piece as I was writing that monologue about the continuity, and your feelings today watching that Lee statue come down and what it means in this moment.


JELANI COBB, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: You know, it`s tremendous. And, you know, I think that one thing that I`ve always felt about the removal of these statues, that there`s been a counter-argument that you shouldn`t remove the history that the public should be aware that we were once so misguided as to honor a man like Robert E. Lee.

And, you know, my personal preference has always been that those statues be not removed, but toppled. That they`d be left in the public laying on their side as a sign of defeat, like a chess piece that`s been knocked over at the conclusion of a game. And so I think that that`s part of it.

The other part of it is the real reckoning with the fact that they have these cross currents. Even as Lee comes down, we see Texas celebrating a step -- moving a step closer to their goal of making it more difficult for people of color, for African-Americans to vote, and potentially leading the way for many other southern states to do the same or more of the same, I should say, which we`ve seen since the Shelby v Holder decision in 2013.

And so it`s a kind of a mile marker to say that there`s progress made but by no means is this run over.

HAYES: Caroline, you`ve written a lot about the sort of inheritance of the lost cause in the south. And I`m curious what your reactions were to seeing this today.

CAROLINE RANDALL WILLIAMS, WRITER-IN-RESIDENCE, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Well, I think I want to echo Jelani in saying that, of course, a relief (AUDIO GAP). There is a victory in seeing the monument come down. But on the other side, you know, I don`t like shadowboxing with my enemy. I don`t like shadowboxing with the oppressor. I don`t like being gas-lit.

And I think that there is some real brilliance to the notion of toppling them, but leaving them where we can see them, leaving them in the light for -- certainly for at least as long as the, you know, systems of oppression that they fought to uphold, remain an impediment to equity in any fundamental lasting way in this country. Because I think we`re witnessing this moment of regression, right? We`re witnessing similar to what you outlined when you were talking about the post-Civil War era. We had reconstruction and then we had this radical vise-like reclamation of white supremacy in this head-spinning way that we`re watching happen again.

So, I think that it`s a triumph, for sure, but it`s also bittersweet because we still have so much work to do.

HAYES: Yes. And I don`t often waste people`s time with the words of the former president, but in this case, I`ll just read them because it sort of endorses precisely the thesis here, making the subtext attacks. He`s issuing a statement saying Lee should be remembered as perhaps the greatest unifying force after the war was over, ardent in his resolved to bring north and south together, through many means of reconciliation, imploring his soldiers to do their duty and becoming good citizens of the country. And then this truly astounding take. If only we had Robert E. Lee to command our troops in Afghanistan, that disaster would have ended in a complete and total victory many years ago. There`s no way to even begin on that one.

But -- yes, I know. It`s truly --

COBB: Is he supposed to do in Afghanistan what he couldn`t do in Virginia where he was from?

HAYES: Yes, I suppose that`s, that`s the lesson if there`s any sense to be found there. But to me, it`s like, right, this is the point. Like, the guy carrying the Confederate flag through the capitol, it`s not an accident. That`s not like -- you know, what the -- what the Confederacy about was an existential violent battle about whether the country would be a multiracial democracy or white man`s Republic.

And there is a portion of the company that said, if it can`t be a white man`s Republic, then we don`t want the country. And that`s the attitude that still is rearing its head today.

COBB: Yes. I mean, this is fundamental. And I think that we like to think as we`ve euphemized the Confederacy into some sort of Southern fraternity that`s been totally misunderstood. But they were in the crosshairs of some very serious currents of American history.

This is what Lincoln and Douglas were arguing about in 1858. This is what Chief Justice Taney was grappling with and the Dred Scott decision a year before this. This is what the first Congress was dealing with when they created the first immigration law that restricted citizenship to free white men.

And so, there are these complicated -- you know, the ways in which we`ve never really understood and never really decided who we are and what we want to be. And so, we can`t really dismiss this. And even as the kind of laughable comments that betray yet again, Donald Trump`s ignorance of history, they`re reason to kind of shrug and say, how did this guy ever make it this far. But we also know that they`re very dangerous elements, as we saw on January 6, that take these things entirely seriously.


HAYES: And the other continuity, Caroline, to me is this sort of the kind of story about the stabbed in the back, about the betrayal, right? That the rightful -- people that rightfully should have had power were unseated by those who had no claim to it, which is the story that the white south told for decades, and is the story that Trump is telling his supporters every day basically.

WILLIAMS: Well, Chris, I think that both you and Jelani have put a point on it that the big question is, who does America mean to be in the long term because, you know, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written by a man who owned his wife`s sister. He owned his own children.

American democracy was not actually conceived of to serve a multiracial, multi-gendered population. And so, we are about the work always of figuring out how to make the dream of America and the ideas of it serve the people of it more completely. And I think that, you know, figuring out how to ask to do something it wasn`t actually intended to do is, you know, the labor of my life. But it`s also terrifying, and asking people to do something they didn`t intend is really complicated.

So, I think that -- and you know -- and, you know, you show the picture of the man that is waving the Confederate flag to the Capitol, and I will say it, I`ve said it once and I`ll say it again, you know, my great-grandpa Edmund Pettus, Alabama sent him to Washington D.C. as their senator, you know, shortly after reconstruction. They sent -- Confederates have been in the Capitol since right after the Civil War.


WILLIAMS: Confederacy never really left America. And we have to reckon with that because we haven`t been real about who we are and where we`ve been. And if we don`t, then we can`t get where we need to go.

HAYES: Caroline Randall Williams and Jelani Cobb, thank you both. I really appreciate that.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for having me.

HAYES: Tonight, brand new details about the Republican pressure to end a vaccine outreach program in one of the states with the worst outbreak in the country right now. You don`t want to miss it. That`s next.



HAYES: Right now, Tennessee is experiencing one of the worst Coronavirus outbreaks anywhere in the U.S. There are nearly 90,000 active cases of Coronavirus in the state. And just for reference, that is more than any other time during the pandemic including the brutal last winter.

And yet Republicans in the state in some cases are actively harming efforts to stop the spread of the virus. You may remember this headline from July we covered that Tennessee suddenly abandoned its vaccine outreach to minors not just for the Coronavirus but for any vaccine. Today, we`re learning more about the sequence of events that led up to that dangerous move.

The Tennessee Health Department was trying to stave off an outbreak of Coronavirus in schools, by texting thousands of families telling them to get their teenagers vaccinated because they had become eligible to do so, tweeting out photos of children with band-aids on their arms. Well, for some Republican lawmakers, the health department`s campaign to get kids vaccinated went too far. At a hearing in June, they let the Health Commissioner know it.


JANICE BOWLING, REPUBLICAN STATE SENATOR, TENNESSEE: Parents are rightly concerned, angry, disappointed, shocked, all the different words she could use.

KERRY ROBERTS, REPUBLICAN STATE SENATOR, TENNESSEE:It looks like the Department of Health is marketing to children. And it looks like you`re advocating.

CEPICKY: When you have advertisements like this with a young girl with a patch on her arm all smiling, we know how impressionable our young people are and wanting to fit in in life. Personally, I think it`s reprehensible that we would do that to our youth in Tennessee.


HAYES: I mean, you would think that this Department of Health is marketing fentanyl or malt liquor or menthol cigarettes. It`s a vaccine. After that hearing, the outreach to get teenagers vaccinated was effectively stopped by the Department of Health. Mission accomplished. And we`re learning today, vaccination events were put on hold.

According to the Tennessean which broke this story, pressure from conservative lawmakers also pushed the health department to tell his employees not to hold any COVID-19 vaccination events intended specifically for adolescence. The department had been planning special events specifically targeting this age group for weeks, according to internal documents recently obtained by the Tennessean.

Today, less than 43 percent of Tennesseans are fully vaccinated against a Coronavirus. That is low. Republican Governor Bill Lee has supported holding all vaccine outreach programs to and about teens in the state saying parents should be the one to decide.

Dr. Alex Jahangir is an orthopedic trauma surgeon and the chair of the Nashville COVID-19 Task Force as well as the Nashville Board of Health. And he joins me now. First of all, just to level set, Dr. Jahangir, can you tell us how things are going in your state with COVID right now?

DR. ALEX JAHANGIR, CHAIR, NASHVILLE COVID-19 TASK FORCE: You know, things are the worst it`s been since I first took over as -- in March of 2020. Our cases is the highest it`s ever been. Our mortality rates is at the highest. The hospitals are literally at the brim. I`m a practicing surgeon and we are literally now canceling procedures that are important so that we can have room for COVID patients.

And it is really tiresome and frustrating. And more so now than ever, we have so many children that are infected. Over 40 percent of cases just last week in Tennessee were in children. So, things are really as dire as they`ve ever been.

HAYES: Yes, I saw this number about COVID infections and kids 5 to 18 years old we have there. Now, of course, those are two categories, right, because 12 and up are vaccine eligible and below 12 are not. But you can see on the graph there, like, it is spiking in children. There`s a certain amount of which children will make up a higher proportion of cases because seniors are the most vaccinated demographic.

But what does this mean for the basic levels of community transmission and the safety of the populace of the state of Tennessee right now?

JAHANGIR: You know, I think what is important is even those between 12 and 18 who are eligible for vaccine, they have maybe 26 percent of that age group who are vaccinated, which is terrible, right? I mean, it`s just purely terrible. And so, what this means is we have children that are not able to go to school because schools are not allowed to be virtual and kids who are sick have to stay out.

We have schools that don`t allow masks to be worn, or it allows kids to opt-out of wearing masks. And I think that that is purely anti the whole point of trying to keep kids in school. Masks has been shown to keep -- lower the risk of this disease in kids. You look at the two largest counties in Tennessee, Shelby and Davidson County, which decided not to allow an opt-out, per capita, they have half the number of COVID cases as any other school district.

So, it`s really as bad not only for the health of the state, but also for the opportunity to learn and opportunity to do all the things that are important that we want kids to do.


HAYES: There`s also just these awful tragic stories. We`re seeing these across the country, particularly throughout the south where the Delta variant is spreading and where there have not been vaccine mandates of teachers falling victim to the -- to the illness, and in some cases, losing their lives. There`s been headline after headline across the country, and really, really brutal.

Is there -- in terms of leadership, you know, there are different ways that political leaders can message on this. And one of the things I keep saying is, you know, when a political leader wants to talk about an issue, and when they don`t. Critical race theory is a great example. Like, they`ll find ways to talk about critical race theory. Has the Governor Lee been pushing on vaccination, pushing on public health measures? This has been something he`s active and eager to talk about into message to try to protect the citizens of your state.

JAHANGIR: You know, early on in the pandemic, the governor did try to advocate to do things we need to do, mask mandates and so forth. But very recently, that has not been the case. And as you saw, the state legislature has been very proactive in trying to minimize any power that any local health board such as the National Board of Health has, and frankly, probably what the governor can do.

And so, you know, as a Board of Health in Nashville, we`re one of the six independent health entities in the state. We no longer have the power to issue an emergency public health order, the exact order that made us the first state -- city in the southeast to issue a stay-at-home order. The State Department of Health was actually, if you had listened to that hearing that you broadcast, literally, they wanted to dissolve the State Department of Health because of the issues you brought up.

Now, think about it. That`s not only issues that we get regarding vaccines, but that`s water, that`s air quality. I mean, it is -- it flabbergasted because if we`re talking about pro-life and being safe for the people of our state, we need to be proactive in these measures.

HAYES: There were state representatives that wanted to dissolve the entire State Department of Health over this.

JAHANGIR: They did. In fact, they scheduled a hearing for the month or week or so after that hearing that you broadcast. Fortunately, they didn`t follow through with that. But literally, there`s no point to the State Department health and some of these legislators in mind, which I might also add has rabies shots and all of the other things that we do. So, it really is extreme, and that the health is vital for every Tennessean. And I think that`s the number one job of government is to protect each resident of this state.

HAYES: Dr. Alex Jahangir, thank you so much for sharing a little bit of time and good luck down there. We`re thinking about you.

JAHANGIR: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, the Department of Justice announced it will protect Texans who are seeking abortions. What does that mean? What the DOJ can do to challenge that Texas law next?




ABBOTT: It provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion. And so, for one, it doesn`t provide that. That said however, let`s make something very clear. Rape is a crime. And Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets.

So, goal number one in the state of Texas is to eliminate rape so that no woman, no person will be a victim of rape.


HAYES: That was Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott yesterday answering a question about why a survivor of rape or incest should be made to carry the baby, the product of that crime to turn. And he did not back down from the flagrantly unconstitutional anti-abortion law he signed. To be absolutely clear, he`s arguing that six weeks is enough time, an exception for victims of rape or incest is not necessary, because the reasoning goes, the state will simply go up and stop all of the rapes. A truly inspires strategy. Why didn`t anyone think of this before? Just end all sexual assault by wanting it badly enough or pronouncing it from the lectern.

Now, the governor`s comments understandably received their fair share of well-deserved mockery online like Texas State Representative Gene Wu pointing out the Texas Republicans "Pass the law putting $10,000 bounty on people who help victims of rape with an abortion but did not put a $10,000 bounty on rapists." Mary Trump, an outspoken critic of her uncle Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans, "Imagine having a way to prevent all future rapes and not sharing it before now."

But here`s the thing. Texas doesn`t actually apparently take rape investigations particularly seriously. Because according to a strong ally of Governor Abbott, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, the state had more than 6000 untested rape kits in its possession earlier this year. This is actually an issue Cornyn has been very dogged on.

So, 6000 kits are potential evidence for 6000 crimes just sitting on the shelf. So, I don`t know, maybe Governor Abbott should start with those. And according to a Texas base where it currently suing the state on behalf of sexual assault survivors, 70 to 80 percent of the sexual abuse and assault cases she pursues end without criminal prosecution even when charges are bought brought. One Texas district attorney says that they often do not make it to trial, let alone a conviction.

Now, there`s lots of reasons criminal prosecution might not be what many survivors of sexual abuse want. But if Governor Abbott has a grand plan to end rape in Texas, he is doing a very terrible job so far.

Sexual Assault happens and people become pregnant by it. Those are facts. And in the meantime, victims of sexual assault in the state of Texas lack access to an abortion effectively if they become pregnant, an outcome that is unimaginably cruel by design. So, why aren`t we seeing more action to test and challenge this unconstitutional law? And crucially, what is the Department of Justice going to do about it?

Julie Fernandez is former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice under President Barack Obama. She`s now Associate Director of Institutional Accountability and Individual Liberty at the Rockefeller Family Fund.

Julie, the Department of Justice came out the other day and they said, look, there`s a -- this is a constitutionally enshrined right, as Supreme Court jurisprudence firmly establishes. And our job is to protect constitutional rights. That was sort of about it. And I think the question is, what are the options for DOJ action here?

JULIE FERNANDES, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, INSTITUTIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY, ROCKEFELLER FAMILY FUND: Well, Chris, I think that, you know, the department coming out with the statement that they`re interested in protecting the constitutional rights of women is wonderful, but they need a statute. And they need to figure out what statute might apply.

This is kind of uncharted territory in many ways, because of the structure of the Texas law and because this is just a very challenging -- it`s very challenging to figure out with our -- with the department -- it`s not mine anymore, department statues what`s the right fit.

So, for example, there`s something called the freedom of access to clinic entrances act. That was enacted in the 1990s. And the idea was to try to have a way to have the department stop the sort of often violent and often super intimidating people that were trying to stop women from accessing clinics. So, there is a statute that would sort of allow you if this is understood to be intimidation of women, perhaps intimidating them from be able to access abortions. That`s one avenue I`m sure they`re looking at. I think maybe even Attorney General Garland may have mentioned the Face Act.

There`s also federal statutes that DOJ enforces that have to do with depriving people of their constitutional rights. 18 USC 242, the statute that the department uses for often for police misconduct cases, but also 241 which is a conspiracy provision that is very similar so it allows a kind of a broader prosecution. But there the person who is the -- who is prosecuted has to be operating under color of law.

And in this statute, as you know, these are private citizens. Are they deputized attorney state attorneys general? What`s their status? Part of the sort of trickery here is creating a statute where private citizens are denying people their rights? How`s that going to work?

HAYES: Well, and part of -- yes, but what`s -- and also what`s crazy here is because of this sort of devious Rube Goldberg machinery built up here, you`ve got -- you`ve got a current status quo in which, you know, they`ve come up with this sort of too cute by half reason that you can enjoy the law, because there`s no public official to enjoy, and it`s all private citizens. And yet, no one`s actually sued yet.

But the providers aren`t providing the service because they`re fearful of it. And so, the current status quo, which someone has to break up -- I mean, I`m not the lawyer here, but someone has to break up the status quo is, well, it worked. And you can`t get an abortion in the entire state of Texas. And that`s it. Like someone`s got to get creative here.

FERNANDES: No, I think they`re trying -- I`m sure they`re trying to get creative, Chris. But this -- look, at bottom, this is an intimidation statute. And as you say, it`s working. And how do -- how does the department figure out how to use the tools that it has to go after an intimidation statute?

The other thing is that part of the problem here is that who`s got the power? The power here sits with the courts and the courts right now, and particularly our supreme court is incredibly hostile to the right to -- for having the right to an abortion. And so, really, they have the power to decide whether or not this too cute by half actually works. I mean, it`s very similar to the court we`ve seen example after example of this court just operating not really with the law, but just with sheer force of they`ve got the power, and that`s kind of the root of our problem, I think.

HAYES: OK, but institutionally, I mean, you know, in a legal sense, I don`t think there`s a difference from a lawsuit brought by a private party to enjoin and the Department of Justice. But there is institutionally, right? I mean, like, it seems to me that at least getting involved in the fight is necessary.

Again, I don`t know how that would happen or who they would sue or how it would work. you have smarter legal minds than I. But it would -- it would as signal if there`s some entrance into the legal battle by the actual Department of Justice.

FERNANDES: Well, I think that`s why they`re trying to figure it out. I think that`s why Attorney General Garland is trying to figure this out, because he understands the symbolic power of having the department stand up and say this is not OK.


FERNANDES: We`re not going to allow these really cute work-arounds to be the avenue for eroding fundamental rights. And remember also that -- and this is in your piece in the beginning, but it`s so worth underscoring, this statute actually -- putting the cuteness aside, it makes it prohibits any abortion after six weeks, that is facially unconstitutional, Chris. And there`s got to be some way to just get at that.

HAYES: Yes. Julie, me with my humble BA can write the opinion that a six week ban is facially unconstitutional under the court`s current jurisprudence pursuant to Roe and Casey and the whole (INAUDIBLE) at all.


HAYES: So, yes, I mean, that`s -- but that`s -- but that`s the problem. I should note that, you know, there`s reporting on this at the Washington Post. Department officials have been discussing other ways to get involved in recent days and that Garland said they have reached out to U.S. Attorney`s offices, FBI field offices in Texas and across the country to discuss our enforcement authorities. We`ll see what happens. Julie Fernandes, that was very informative. Thank you very much.

FERNANDES: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: All right, ahead, can the United States transition to having nearly half of all of its power generated by the sun in just three decades? The bold new blueprint to tackle the climate crisis coming up.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Climate change poses an existential threat to our lives, to our economy, and the threat is here. It`s not going to get any better. The question can`t get worse? We can stop it from getting worse.




HAYES: I think many of us who lived through the horror of September 11, 2001 even remotely just watching it on television as I did, have a bit of a knot in our stomachs about the upcoming 20th anniversary in anticipation of the emotional intensity of remembering and reliving that day as we hit this milestone.

The terror of the attacks on September 11 traumatized all of us. I mean, obviously the people that lost loved ones most intensely but the entire nation. And looking back two decades later, we can see how that trauma manifested in the tremendous deal of fear and confusion and anger in this country and how some bad actors took advantage of that, rallying traumatized nation towards what ended up being a whole host of destructive, counterproductive, often screamingly immoral policies.

When I was 22 years old when this happened, my views on this were considered radical. I did not think we should have gone to war in Afghanistan. I didn`t believe we should have visited violence upon violence. Now, 20 years later, those ideas have aged into acceptability, if not respectability.

And as we sit here watching the Taliban back in power in Afghanistan, lashing women in the streets of Kabul, it`s very hard to say the costs outweigh the benefits or the benefits outweigh the costs. And as we reflect on how this nation reacted with the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the end of the war coinciding, it is clear that public opinion really has changed.

In spite of all the recent negative news coverage, 77 percent of Americans still say they support the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. It`s a strikingly high number. It says something, I think about perspective in hindsight that we`re now getting.

To think about the post 9/11 period, that hindsight that comes with the 20th anniversary is also the subject of a new feature documentary airing tonight on MSNBC. The film tells the story of survivors who recorded their personal experiences in a video booth in the wake of the attacks and then return this year to reflect on those they lost and their lives over the past two decades.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Lisa Knapp. It`s Tuesday, April 27, 2021. It`s very surreal to be back here and to be talking about everything that`s happened and changed since then, and then also specifically, the experience of recording that video in this booth.

Hi, my name is Lisa Knapp. And today is September 10, 2002.

It was 364 days after September 11 that I went in and I recorded that video. And I know that in those 364 days, I didn`t like deal with my feelings about Lindsey or even the day of September 11 itself.

I`ve avoided talking to my friends, talking my family, talking to coworkers about everything that happened just because I`m not ready. I mean, it`s the worst thing I`ve ever seen. And it`s the worst thing I hope to see.


HAYES: Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11 airs commercial-free on MSNBC right after Rachael tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. It`s also streaming exclusively on Peacock. You don`t want to miss it.



HAYES: Today, the Biden administration announced a hugely ambitious goal to have solar energy make up nearly half of the nation`s electrical production by the year 2050. It`s part of a larger effort to address climate change and reach net-zero carbon emissions over the next few decades. It is not an easy lift, because right now solar panels provide three percent, three percent of the nation`s electricity, which includes powering this very show, actually. And yet, we have to massively scale up to make this happen.

Here`s what the solar and wind power looks like today. You can see the wind projects pretty well there in blue, the solar in orange. Well, that`s a lot harder to find, isn`t it? Smattering from Massachusetts, down the East Coast, into Florida, some running up through California. Here`s what Princeton University researchers say is needed to get to the netzero goal by 2050 the Biden administration just doubled down on.

You can see the solar projects much more clearly here. It also shows the scale of how much capacity we will need to add. David Roberts covers clean energy extensively as a creator and editor of Volts, a great newsletter and podcast devoted to covering climate change, clean energy, and politics. And he joins me now.

David, I immediately thought of you as someone that I sort of trust on this stuff when I saw this announcement, which is, it`s not -- it`s unclear whether this is a plan, this is a goal, a kind of marker they`re laying down. But I guess first, how should we think about the feasibility from a technical standpoint of getting from here to there?

DAVID ROBERTS, CREATOR AND EDITOR, VOLTS: Sure. The main thrust of this study was to look at if we want to decarbonize the electricity sector, specifically, not the whole economy, with the electricity sector by 2035, which is Biden`s stated goal. Say we passed the regulatory mandate forcing that to happen, what would -- how would the electricity sector respond?


HAYES: Right.

ROBERTS: What would it look like? How much would it cost? And it turns out that you`d get a whole lot of extra solar, a lot of extra wind, and -- but to me, the headline, the real headline here is you can drive 95 percent of the greenhouse gases out of the U.S. electricity sector by 2035 with no extra cost to electricity ratepayers. It would cost roughly the same as our current trajectory.

HAYES: Wait, really?

ROBERTS: Yes. I mean, you have to remember, when you stop using fossil fuels, you stop having to buy fossil fuels, and you stop having to maintain fossil fuel infrastructure. You save a lot of money. You get a lot more work out of electricity than you do out of fossil fuels, like on a per-unit basis. So, there are immense savings in efficiency just through switching to electricity.

So -- and that`s not even taking into account the health and climate benefits of ramping down all those fossil fuel power plants. If you -- if you bring those in, the benefits swamp the costs.

HAYES: Yes, we should -- just so that people get a sense of what we`re talking about now. Here`s our current generation by source. So 60 percent is still from fossil fuels, and that includes coal, there`s some oil, a lot of natural gas, then there`s nuclear which makes up a fifth, solar is tiny there, 2.3 percent. Other renewables, you`ve got wind in the mix.

And this is what the kind of running the model, right? So, if we get a clean electricity standard, we say, you guys have to switch over to clean electricity, we get a pie chart that looks a lot -- a lot like that which is dominated by solar and wind. I mean, I guess the question is like, OK, the implementation mechanism here is if you pass a clean electricity standard, the local utilities are going to have to do this. What happens next? Like, do -- how do they do that? What does that mean?

ROBERTS: Well, it means -- it means two things. One is just a lot of building, building, building, building. So, that`s why -- that`s where the extra costs come from is incrementally, you are basically rebuilding a new electricity grid built around weather-dependent sources. So, that involves a lot of things, a lot of new transmission lines, a lot of new technologies to balance power, a lot of new plant -- grid planning, all that kind of thing. So, there`s a ton of building.

And then the second sort of vexing thing is, if you want to meet these targets, you have to retire a lot of fossil fuel assets before what is technically the end of their rated lifespan. So, how do you pay for that? Who pays for that? Who gets the benefits versus the costs of that.

HAYES: Right.

ROBERTS: So, that`s -- those are the two sides. And one note here is a clean energy standard like they have in the states is just a regulatory requirement for utilities to build more clean energy, which means the utility has to pass those costs on to ratepayers. But the policy that`s up for debate here federally today is called a clean energy payment program, which is not a regulatory requirement, it`s a -- it`s a pot of money paying utilities to transition to clean energy.

And the reason that`s significant is that cost to ratepayers tend to be pretty regressive, right? But federal money, federal income tax is much, much more progressive. And also, if you`re a state like West Virginia, this amounts to the federal government saying, hey, let us pick up the tab for you to switch to clean electricity. You do it, we`ll pay for it.

It`s a --it`s just worth noting. It`s not a standard anymore. It`s just literally the federal government paying utilities to do it.

HAYES: Yes, this is a really important point. It`s gone from kind of a stick to a carrot. I mean, it`s a huge -- it`s a big pot of money and incentive to try to take away the regressive features of it, which I think is both smart on the policy and smart on the politics of actually making this happen.

ROBERTS: Yes. If there`s one thing that could help a policy survive once Democrats lose control, and Republicans take back over, it`s a nation full of utilities who have gotten accustomed to receiving checks, right?


ROBERTS: That`s a very big constituency.

HAYES: And do you think that`s the thinking here?

ROBERTS: Well, the main thinking is this thing has to go through budget reconciliation, right? So, you can`t regular (AUDIO GAP) payments and or fees. So, that was the initial impetus to translate it this way. But I think having translated it this way, it does actually have quite a few benefits. And one is it`s much more progressive, economically speaking.

HAYES: I love going through like Senate legislation like you would go through like the ruins of an old civilization to like find out like who their gods were and our God is the filibuster and reconciliation. It`s like, all right, that`s story is --

ROBERTS: (INAUDIBLE) any normal person.

HAYES: David Roberts, thank you very much. It was great.

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