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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, August 31, 2020

Guests: Ashish Jha, Adam Serwer, Nancy Pelosi, Chris Murphy, Cornell Belcher


The president appointed Scott Atlas, who is pushing for herd immunity, to be his pandemic advisor. The White House ends in-person intelligence briefings on election security for Congress. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is interviewed on the White House ending in-person intelligence briefing on election security for Congress. According to a top Trump adviser, "the more violence, the better it is for President Trump's reelection. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) is interviewed about the fatal shootings at protests.


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


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. 64 days until the election, 185,000 dead, and Trump's new favorite medical advisor has a plan to just let the virus keep spreading. His herd immunity at any cost, the new White House plan.

Plus, as foreign interference in the election ramps up, why our elections security briefings for Congress ramping down? The Speaker of the House will be here.

Then, Senator Chris Murphy on the President's chaos campaign strategy and why he says Trump is "deliberately killing people." A reality check on the state of the race with two months to go, when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I'm Chris Hayes. There's a new plan, a new one being pushed in the White House that proponents hope will both defeat the virus and get the President reelected. And that plan is to just let most of all of us get infected with the Coronavirus. And if more than two million people have to die as a result, well, so be it.

That might sound crazy or hyperbolic, but that is really what it is. That is what is happening. The Washington Post reporting that that strategy is being pushed by a guy named Scott Atlas, who just this month became the President's pandemic advisor. He reportedly fashions himself as an anti-Fauci. The guy is not an epidemiologist. He's associated with a Conservative think tank and he does make appearances on Trump T.V.

And last month, he made the case that America should embrace a strategy of so-called herd immunity. Basically, the idea being, let the virus spread among everyone except the most vulnerable and then we all build up immunity, and then it's all over. Now, this strategy has been tried before in Sweden, most notably, and it was a disaster.

You want to know what herd immunity looks like? Look at this chart. This is the cumulative Coronavirus deaths per million people in Sweden. They are -- they're at the top line compared to Denmark, Finland, and Norway who all impose mandatory lockdowns. As you can see, the Swedish strategy lead to more than five times as many deaths as its neighbors. We should also note Sweden has suffered basically the same level of economic setback, so they didn't really get a whole lot out of it except a lot more dead Swedes.

The Washington Post calculated what it would take to get to herd immunity in the U.S. "With a population of 328 million in the U.S., it may require 2.1 to three million deaths to reach a 65 percent threshold of herd immunity. 2.1 to three million Americans. Think about that.

The White House is publicly denying that it's pursuing herd immunity, but that doesn't really ring true, does it? Because the president brought this guy Scott Atlas into the White House to be his advisor for a reason. He reached out to him, brought him in. And this herd immunity strategy is basically honestly what Donald Trump has been pursuing already.

It's a huge part of why the virus has been and continues to be so bad here. It's explicit. I mean, Trump hasn't really hidden this in his rhetoric, in his spring push to end lockdowns before it was safe, in his insistence on getting kids back to school no matter the level of outbreak in the community and the risk, his call for "the people of our country to think of themselves as warriors ready to die on the battlefield."

It's why we have lost more than 184,000 Americans to the virus, why we have continued to lose more than 1,000 people a day, day after day after day. It's still happening right now even as we've gone over the second hump of this outbreak. Look at Iowa where Republican Governor Kim Reynolds has followed Trump's lead and pushed aggressively to open up and get back to normal and get back out there and the state is now in the middle of a predictably massive outbreak. Students back in schools, universities.

Iowa now have more cases per capita in the past seven days than any other state. We know what that graph looks like. We keep seeing graphs like that over and over again. We also know that I was reporting false information about cases for months. The state of Iowa is reporting inaccurately low case numbers as decisions were being made about reopening schools and businesses. Does that sound familiar?

Of course, in doing all this, Kim Reynolds, who the republican governor of that state was just following the president's lead, just open up and if people die, well, I guess that counts as culling the herd before you get to herd immunity.

Iowa was not alone. Ever since the virus hit, there had been this chorus of conservative T.V. personalities and cynical opportunists and grifters and right-wing politicians who have pressed Trump to ignore the public health experts and just let people die in mass and then we'll move on. And in the words of Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, there are "more important things than living."

The President, in turn, has of course ignored the science and manipulated data and pressured his government agencies to fall in line. Now, last week, the CDC quietly changed its guidance to state that you do not necessarily need a test even if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.

That is not what most epidemiologists believe, in fact, the opposite. It was around the same time that the President trotted out as FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to hype an unproven plasma treatment for Coronavirus. And then Hahn later had to apologize for that performance for overselling the plasmas benefits and for misrepresenting the science.

But he now once again seems to be bowing to pressure from the president. In an interview this weekend, he said his agency was prepared to authorize a vaccine before phase three clinical trials were complete even though again, most public health experts say those trials are absolutely necessary.

And think about this for a second. Think about how perverse this is, OK. Are you listening? They've put all their eggs in the vaccine basket. That's the solution herd immunity until we get to the vaccine. People just die and get sick and then we get a vaccine. That's what they're going for. But if you mess up people's perception of the efficacy of the vaccine that has the potential be incredibly dangerous, both because of the risks of rushing the vaccine, but also because doing so could undermine faith in it, even if it does work at a time when polling shows a majority is unsure about getting the vaccine, or saying they're ruling it out entirely.

This is where we are now again, months and months into this as more Americans die every day in an election year. The sheer nihilistic absurdity of the denialism we're seeing maybe best embodied in something that I saw earlier today and didn't believe was true until I looked into it and it was, posthumous tweets from the now-deceased Trump supporter and former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, who again passed away is no longer with us, passed away from Coronavirus in July. He contracted the virus after he attended a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Kane's personal Twitter handle has remained active after his death. Obviously, he's not the one tweeting. This morning, his personal account still out there still tweeting, tweeted and then deleted this, that the virus is not as deadly as the mainstream media first made it out to be.

Well, it certainly was deadly for Herman Cain. The idea that the President's advisors pushing the President, I think, is sympathetic to that his allies like his idea behind herd immunity is that people like Herman Cain are not really worth saving, or maybe a loved one that you know, who is immunocompromised or a loved one in a senior citizen home or nursing home. Those people are just going to -- well, they're going to be part of the herd that has to be called. You win some you lose some.

That's what is happening in front of us right now. I mean, not explicitly yet, but there's a guy explicitly advocating for that and has the President's ear. And if that seems like a monstrous view, you're not wrong. Today, 60 days before the election, Joe Biden was on the campaign trail. He traveled to Pennsylvania for a speech about the civil unrest that we've seen in several cities. They took time to remind Americans about the toll that Trump's disastrous response has caused.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Trump, you want to talk about fear? You know what people are afraid of in America? They're afraid they're going to get COVID. They're afraid they're going to get sick and die. And that is a no small part is because of you. We're now on track to more than 200,000 deaths in this country due to COVID.

More than 100,000 seniors have lost their lives in the virus. More cops have died from COVID this year than then have been killed on patrol.


HAYES: More cops die from COVID is here and killed on patrol. Joining me now to talk about the idea of letting more Americans die unnecessarily from the virus, Dr. Ashish Jha, physician, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and Adam Serwer, who is a staff writer at the Atlantic.

Dr. Jha, let me start with you. You know, we've covered this for months now, this sort of Sweden idea and the herd immunity idea. And, you know, three weeks, four weeks, five weeks into this novel pandemic, that I understood people thinking, well, let's think outside the box here, but it just seems almost like crazy and almost unspeakably nihilistic for a White House adviser to be pushing this now.

ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Chris, thank you for having me on. It is a bit crazy. We are many months into this. We know some things that work and some things that don't. And work as defined by not having a lot of people die and not having your economy get destroyed.

Sweden is not the model for any of us. And even today, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former Trump FDA Commissioner, has a really good op-ed in the Wall Street Journal saying is much. The fact that this idea keeps coming up, this feels to me like laziness, we don't want to do the hard work of protecting American lives. And so, there's this strategy of let's just let it go and see where it goes. We know where to go.

HAYES: You know, I can't help but think, Adam, that there's a -- I mean, obviously, the president the beginning, he denied the problem. He basically wanted the economy and the stock market to be good, so he could be reelected, and basically is not cared one way or the other except in that sense.

But also, I cannot help but this sort of conception of people being expendable. Lives expandability is related to what we know about where people have been most affected where the lives have been lost in terms of disproportionate populations among African American folks, indigenous populations, Latino folks among the Rio Grande Valley, that there's a sense in which the idea of expandability is related to who is getting hit the hardest from this virus.

ADAM SERWER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Yes, I mean, look at when you look back in April, when the demographic data first started coming out, there was a -- there was a complete shift both in conservative media and then subsequently in the White House about rhetoric about personal responsibility and freedom. And this is too much -- this is too high a price to pay, we should just let people go out and deal with the virus. And if people die, people die, and that's the price of freedom.

That started in April. And now what we have essentially is, you know, conservatives have been saying we should run the government like a corporation for many years. And now you have the government being run like a corporation for the purpose and profit of one single person, that's Donald Trump.

And the only problem is that Donald Trump is a scammer, and his business model is to do as little as possible to provide the service that he's supposed to provide in order to, you know, in order to scam the customer out of what they're supposed to actually get. That's reflected in his entire business approach. And now it's reflected here, where he's president, but he doesn't want to actually do the work to contain the virus, so he's gravitated toward an approach that will cost Americans dearly, but might help his political prospects, and is the least, and provides -- and requires the least amount of work on his part to actually pursue.

HAYES: When you look at, Dr. Jha, when you look at the situation we're in, I mean, part of what is so maddening again, six months into this about to go back to school, we've got campuses full of students where they're testing positive at crazy rates in many places, including in Iowa right now, particularly we've seen outbreaks, is that we never actually really pursued any strategy. I mean, this has been essentially drift towards doom from more or less day one, except for about the eight weeks when the country largely due to governors, shut down and mass. Aside from that, we're just -- we continue to be adrift.

JHA: Yes, the policy has been largely a strategy of bluster of get the kids back to schools, get the colleges open, get people back to work. Again, all the things that we agree with, like, I want to get kids back to school, we want to get colleges open. But as Adam said, the problem is, in a pandemic, you have to do stuff, you got to like, set up the conditions for it.

You've got to set up the testing, you've got to get case-loads low, you got to fix ventilation, like these things don't happen naturally. And there has been very little interest on the part of the federal government to do any of those things. It's been mostly, you know, this sort of like the old Nike "Just Do It." Well, it doesn't work in that pattern. And you actually have to figure out how to get it done.

Some governors are doing it some cities and states are doing it, but boy, a lot of them are trying to wing it.

HAYES: The thing that I can't get over and I keep returning to Adam. And you and I have covered national politics during a similar period of time where similar ages and cohorts is the degree to which the President's supporters seem to have just kind of acclimated to the level of death and misery that is just it would have been inconceivable six months ago. Particularly when you think about the aftermath of say, 9/11 or you even think about the 11 hearing -- 11 different committees investigated the death of four Americans in Benghazi. There is a sort of collective political madness, death worship almost around what's happening right now that I find myself shocked by.

SERWER: Well, look, I wrote this in March. But the problem here is that the President's cult of personality, which was clear was exacerbating the problem as early as March. It says that whatever the president says is true, and the President has approached the Coronavirus, the way he's approached everything else because he sees it largely as a public relations problem.

So if he can shape it -- if he can will people out of believing what they see with their own eyes, then he will no longer have a political problem because he can just tell them over and over again that the virus is not a big deal it's going away, that many people haven't died. It's fine. We could just open schools, there are no real consequences. You know, this is -- his supporters are the only people in the country who are willing to actually live in that alternate universe.

And that's a real problem because that's ultimately a lot of people. It's not a majority of the country, but it's too many people to seriously deal with this problem and contain the pandemic.

HAYES: That's exactly right. We're all -- we're all in this together, whether everyone recognize that or not Dr. Ashish Jha and Adam Serwer, we're thank you both.

Coming up, Trump's intelligence director calls a halt to in person congressional briefings on election security even as Russia tries to tip the election to Trump. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joins me next.


HAYES: U.S. intelligence agencies all agree that Russia ran a huge influence campaign to help Donald Trump get elected in 2016. And the Intelligence Community says that Russia is still interfering to try to help Trump win this year. Just over two months before Election Day, however, this President's top intelligence official just told Congress that he will no longer provide them with in-person briefings for election security issues.

The Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe says he's doing this to crack down on leaks, even though there's plenty of reporting the president just hates it when people bring up Russian election interference, and as even punished officials who had the temerity to brief Congress about it.

Democrats are outraged by the decision to cancel those in-person briefings. Joe Biden says this is quote how American national security and sovereignty are violated. And in a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intel chair Adam Schiff said this is a "shocking abdication of its lawful responsibility to keep the Congress currently informed." And one of the people who author that statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, joins me now.

Let me first start -- Speaker, it's great to have you -- with your understanding of what this decision is, why it happens and what its implications are.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Well, let's just put it in its perspective. In the National Security Act of 1947 states very clearly that the intelligence committee -- Intelligence Committee must fully and currently briefed Congress on intelligence matters. So, they're flying in the face of the law which established all of this procedure.

We said shockingly, but it's hard to be shocked anymore at the abuse of power of this administration, now, isn't it? It's very clear that the President wants, invites, appreciates Russia's involvement in our elections, which is not lawful, which is not lawful. So, when the President doesn't want Congress breached or the American people -- by the way, this intelligence belongs to the American people. It belongs to the Congress. The administration is the custodian of it, and we protect sources and methods. But we do also protect our elections. We don't want Vladimir Putin deciding who the next president is. We want the American people to decide that the President thinks otherwise.

HAYES: Just a sort of technical question, but I have been a little unclear from the reporting. Is this no one in Congress gets in-person briefings or the committees don't and the and the so-called Gang of Eight, the leadership still does? What is your understanding of what they're saying the policy is now?

PELOSI: Well, whatever it is, it's wrong. I mean, that is to say they have a responsibility to brief the committees and also the full Congress, and they set up those opportunities to happen. And we accepted them, we set the dates. So, this was all on a path until they must have gotten order from headquarters that they should not brief the Congress.

They're using the excuse of leaks. Well, we don't know of any leaks and we don't want any leaks, and we would condemn any leaks. But that is not a reason. It is an excuse on the part of the president. As we all know, and you said so clearly, he doesn't even want to hear the word Russia. We don't know politically, personally, financially what Russia has on this president, but it must be something.

But for people into his party to go along with this, that can sometimes be shocking. Nothing he does is shocking. But you would think with their history in the Congress, their knowledge of the intelligence process and how valuable that is, that they would corrupt it for Donald Trump, is that is shocking.

HAYES: Obviously, I was going to ask you what the recourse is here but --

PELOSI: I have every intention -- I have every intention that the Gang of Eight will be briefed, but I have never wanted to stay there. I've always wanted more members, the committees and the Congress to know because they have to make decisions. And how that can they make decisions if only eight people know what is relevant to their judgment?

HAYES: There is a huge decision out of a three-judge panel of the D.C. appellate court today ruling two to one, somewhat remarkable ruling that essentially, they're -- the courts have -- there is no constitutional power for the courts to enforce a Congressional subpoena. It has to do with former White House Counsel Don McGahn that has been working its way through the courts for a long time, basically saying, look, that's up to you Congress, I guess, with your inherent contempt abilities, but don't come crying to us the courts. You released a statement saying you're going to appeal that. What's your reaction to that decision?

PELOSI: Again, to put it in perspective, they brought against us before this three-judge court and they said we did not have standing to bring this. We appealed it to what they call on bonk, the full court which is 11 members. They ruled in our favor that we did. Now, that was the one standing that this is one on the substance, so we will appeal this to the (INAUDIBLE) court, and we'll see what happens there.

And at that point, we have options to go to the Supreme Court. If we win there, they'll probably go to the Supreme Court, and then Congress can act upon it, pass legislation and the rest. But the very idea that they would undermine the system of checks and balances, three co-equal branches of government, each a check and balance on the other. To have this third branch of government appointed by the president to make a ruling against the constitution just shows you the -- on top of what we just talked about, just tells you how important the next election is, let's put it that way.

HAYES: In terms of between now and the election, there is this looming question about any kind of subsequent relief or rescue money. There has been an impasse. The Heroes Act passed out of the House three months ago or four months ago, I want to say, it sat there. Mitch McConnell didn't take it up. They got to -- then May 15th, they got a few good jobs numbers and they thought up, we're done with this, then there was a huge second spike. We've seen economic activity level off; a lot of people are struggling. The President jerry-rigged this executive order to maybe get people some additional relief, it's not going to last very long and is incomplete. Are negotiations ongoing, and where are they?

PELOSI: Well, you have described the situation very well, except that put some numbers on it. We passed the bill on May 15th. At that time, Mitch McConnell pressed the pause button. He said there was no reason for us to do anything. Since that time, 4.6 million more people have been infected. Four and a half million more people have been infected and 96,000 more people have died. Thank you for your paws, Mitch McConnell. Too bad you didn't tell the virus to pause.

OK, so we have engaged in these negotiations, but just look at it this way. What further evidence does anyone need, that this President didn't care less about the spread of this virus than to see what he did vandalizing, by the way, the White House by bringing all those people there, no mask, no distancing and the rest. He slapped science right in the face of what a bad example that was.

So if we're going to succeed in negotiations, we have to look to the science. Dr. Jha has told us over and over that we need three million tests a day. That's what we have in the Heroes Act. But they just won't do it. They won't take up a strategic plan to do that. They won't do state and local government which is so essential to our heroes, that's called the Heroes Act for health care and first responders, and sanitation, transportation, teachers, teachers, teachers, food suppliers and the rest.

So we have a real problem here because they will not -- they do not understand the gravity of the problem. They refuse to accept the science and what science is advising. And hence, we have this situation where we -- I think that what the -- what Donald Trump is saying to the American people, because now we're coming into school this week, kids are going to school and the rest is saying to them, choose me over your child, because I'm not going to spend the money it takes to make it safe to go back to school. I'm not going to do what it takes to stop the spread of this virus or when kids go to school to have the ventilation, the spacing, the teachers that you need to do that.

This is appalling, but again, yet again, another reason why if only they would pay attention to the scientist, scientist, testing, tracing, treating, spacing, masks, sanitation and the rest. Instead, the president just wants what now, herd immunity, which is totally discredited by anyone who knows anything about epidemiology, except his advisor, who knows nothing about it.

HAYES: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, representing her district there in San Francisco, as you can see from the backdrop, and it sounds like we're not that much closer on this -- on this bill, thank you very much for making --

PELOSI: Well, we need to be. And let me just say --

HAYES: Well, I hope something passes. I mean, if I can editorialize.

PELOSI: Yes, we do too. We do too. But again, let's just say this week, we're having our day of action for kids going back to school and you'll see what parents, teachers, children think about this. But again, we very much want to have an agreement. Thank you. Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Thank you. Thank you, Speaker. I appreciate it.

Coming up, the President embraces violence as a reelection strategy. Senator Chris Murphy joins me ahead.


HAYES: For democracy to function, you want it to be the case that people in power believe that it's their political interest for things to go well. It's just kind of a basic rule, the feedback mechanism, at the heart of representative government, right? I mean, when things go well, people are happy, you know, flourishing and then politicians are rewarded with reelection when things go badly, and politicians are trouble, and they get voted out.

So it's pretty important that broadly speaking that the folks in power believe that people doing well, living peacefully, not dying from say the Coronavirus, not getting evicted is a good thing and will help them stay in power. Conversely, it's incredibly dangerous for the incentives to be in the opposite direction, but that is clearly the case with President Donald Trump.

And here's what Trump's senior advisor and former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said just last week.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who's best on public safety and law in order.


HAYES: She's right at a certain level it is clear, very clear, of course not in the way she intended. The President believes that more chaos and anarchy, and vandalism, and violence, bloodshed, that that will help him. That will help him get reelected. It is perverse, but he believes the worst things get for Americans, the better it is for him.

Today, in a speech in Pennsylvania, Joe Biden made the obvious but important point that despite Trump's desperation, to pin the country's ails and the guy running against him, Donald Trump is in fact the president.


JOE BIDEN: This is a sitting president of the United States of America. He's supposed to be protecting his country. But instead, he's rooting for chaos and violence. The simple truth is, Donald Trump failed to protect America. So now, he's trying to scare America.


HAYES: Trump's open embrace of lawlessness which intensifies as we head to the elections should concern everyone. The President was roundly criticized for using the White House as political prop for his campaign. The New York Times reports "Mr. Trump's aides and he enjoyed the frustration anger he caused by holding a political event on the South Lawn of the White House, shattering conventional norms and raising questions about ethics laws violations. He relished the fact that no one could do anything to stop him," said the aides.

Trump and his supporters believe deeply that the law is not a binding constraint, that it is made to be broken, that it exists to punish enemies and protect friends. And now just today, just a few hours ago, we had the sitting president, listen to this, the sitting president defending extrajudicial killings by his supporters.

We're already way past the precipice. We're in the canyon of danger right now. We're going to talk to Senator Chris Murphy about that next.


HAYES: There was another death in the streets of an American city during a protest this week, and a supporter of a far-right group known as Patriot Prayer was shot and killed in Portland, Oregon on Saturday night. The group was part of this caravan of Trump supporters who took the streets of Portland driving through the city, clashing with people protesting police brutality, one of them shooting paintballs off the back of the car. The circumstances surrounding this shooting are still unclear, including whether the man who was killed was armed or not and who shot him.

Now, this follows the killing of two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin last week by a 17-year-old vigilante. The president defended the alleged murderer today from the White House and it is in line with a broader practice among far-right Trump supporters to bring guns to protests and brandish them.

It is one thing that protests are loud and angrily -- and angry and there is heckling, but it is a completely different universe if people have guns. And let's be clear here, that is true no matter what the ideology is, of the person who is armed. Don't bring guns to protests.

But America is the most heavily armed country, basically, in the developed world, and one of the most violent, and those things are related. And we are now seeing that play out on the streets in this incredibly perilous moment. And so tonight, I'm talking to one of the lead anti-violence advocates at the federal level, particularly on gun violence.

Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, he has a new book out tomorrow titled, The Violence Inside Us, about America's relationship with guns and violence. It's great to have you, Senator. Congratulations on publishing the book which you found time to do, which I'm impressed by.

The title of the book is the violence inside us. And from the beginning, I think back in March, as I've watched street protests, and when we saw the protests of the Shelter in Place Order in place like Michigan, where you had armed protesters inside the state capitol, I have worried intensely about the combination of street protesting guns, whoever that is, whoever is bringing guns, whoever is shooting. And I am worried about the moment that we appear to be now entering into. What is your assessment of this?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, I mean, let me just put it in the context of the case I make in this book. This book is about America's natural predilection to violence. As humans, we have a natural predilection to violence, and the book tells that story. But in this country, because of our history bathed in violence, first against Native Americans, then African Americans, and our amalgamation of people coming from different races and ethnicities and religions, America was always going to be a place that was more combustible than other nations.

And thus, it was incumbent upon us to be more careful about the access that we gave people to the kind of weapons that can result in the end of life. And so, America has this responsibility, I argue in the book, to be more careful about gun laws than any other place because it is access to weapons, especially really powerful weapons that turns, you know, just ordinary everyday argument into a deadly incident.

And to your point, that is the danger of these protests. These protests are ready are emotional, but they can become killing grounds if they become flooded with weapons on either side. But the book also tells a story, Chris, of a long history of white vigilantism in this nation. This isn't the first time that white Americans have marched into places full of people of color and decided to carry out justice themselves. And put in that context, it's a reminder of how much work we still have to do.

There was a really disturbing moment earlier. I'm going to play the President's response to a question about a 17-year-old sort of self-anointed vigilante who is facing murder charges for allegedly shooting and killing two people at Kenosha protesters. This is what the President had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to condemn the actions of vigilantes like Kyle Rittenhouse?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're looking at all of it. That was an interesting situation. You saw the same tape as I saw. And he was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like. And he fell, and then they very violently attacked him. And it was something that we're looking at right now and it's under investigation, but I guess he was in very big trouble. He would have been -- he probably would have been killed, but it's under -- it's under investigation.


HAYES: What does it do when the President justifies an extrajudicial killing by one of his supporters?

MURPHY: Well, first of all, it's not under investigation. He's been charged with murder. He has the right to protest that charge, but this isn't an investigation that is awaiting a charge. He has been charged with murder. And what the President is doing is to frankly send a clear message to others that might bring guns to protests, that would drive their cars into very volatile places like the streets of Portland. He sending a message of encouragement. Why? Because to your earlier point, he wants more chaos. He wants more unrest. He wants more violence because he is backed into a corner.

He saw the poll showing that he was down by 10 to 15 points and he played the only card he had left. He was, you know, kind of like the bank robber who's in a corner of the building surrounded by police and his only play is to blow the building up and hope in the chaos that he can escape. Well, this president isn't going to escape because people aren't just going to buy this crazy argument that he's making that he is not to blame for anything that's happening in this nation.

He wants to go to Kenosha, not to heal, but to try to stir that place up. And I think Joe Biden did a great job today of calling a spade a spade. I don't think the President gets away with this ridiculous attempt at a Jedi mind trick.

HAYES: There's -- I want to ask you about a tweet you had in a moment, but just one more question on this. There is a sense I think sometimes like we don't know why say violence goes up or down in the society given times. And of course, there were many, many more violent homicides, for instance, in say, 1992, 1993 as a percentage of the population. It's gone down, it's come up a little bit this year in a worrying way for a lot of people. What is your book say and what do you say about like, what do we know about solutions essentially, about ways that we can reduce the violence that we experienced as Americans?

MURPHY: Right. The first half of my book is really a history of American violence. And it's a fascinating history because it's not until the middle 1800s that we start to become a global outlier of violence. And that occurs at that point in American history for three reasons. One, the expansion of our enslaved population as the cotton gin was invented, and we had more slaves in this country, we needed more violence to try to keep the economic order in place.

Also, because of new waves of immigrants who contested for space in a growing economy, violence was a result of those entrance, but also the handgun. But when the handgun came into play, and became wide -- and became widespread in American society, it resulted in much more violence as well.

But what we see is that violence has rapid points of decline as well. And they tend to coincide with changes in America's gun laws. In the 1930s, in the 1990s, we see the two biggest declines in American violence and they happen right after the first set of national gun laws in the 1930s, and then the Brady Background Check Bill in the 1990s.

And so that's why I believe that while gun laws isn't a panacea for controlling violence, history certainly shows us, as I explained in the book, that it gets us pretty quick returns.

HAYES: Final question for you. You tweeted this weekend, "Can we take the gloves off and tell the truth about the President's pandemic response. Trump is deliberately killing people. He holds rallies when people get infected. On Thursday, no social distancing or mass, sending a clear message that the CDC should be ignored. His plan is to kill people. Let's just say it." You stand by that?

MURPHY: I do stand by that. I know that sounds harsh, but this is a president who knew exactly what he was doing. He knew by refusing to socially distance people at his convention, by refusing to let them wear masks or at least not requiring masks, that he was sending a clear message to all of his followers that those things aren't worthwhile.

And the science tells him that if people aren't wearing masks and they're not socially distance, then thousands of people are going to die. Let's call a spade a spade. The President knows exactly what he is doing. He's refusing to model the right behavior for the American public and that is going to result in people dying.

If you're on your way to the grocery store and you decide to drive on the sidewalk instead of the road knowing that that may kill people, you are rightly called a killer. So I do believe this President is deliberately killing people because all he had to do was make different choices about the behavior that modeled and there would be thousands of additional people alive today. That's his choice.

HAYES: Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, he has a new book that is out, The Violence Inside Us, and it is out tomorrow. I'm going to check it out, you should as well. Thank you, Senator.

MURPHY: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, fact-checking the ominous narrative that last week was somehow amazing for Donald Trump at the state of the race with 64 days until Election Day, next.


HAYES: Did you start feeling a little panicky this weekend about the state the presidential race? Did you start to feel a little "Here we go again energy?" So you're not alone. Some combination of last week's Republican Convention and the just awful news out of Kenosha, Wisconsin and in Portland, brought about this narrative that Donald Trump is on the rebound and Joe Biden is in trouble.

And of course, it is possible for Donald Trump to tighten the gap or even pull ahead. We know that can happen because well, we are living in the America where that did happen back in 2016. But it is really not in any way clear that that is the objective reality right now. There have been a few recent polls showing the race tightening. But the national polling average from FiveThirtyEight still has Joe Biden up seven points. A new poll of Florida's key 13th district which Hillary Clinton won by just three points has Biden up 14 points.

So with all this anxiety swirling around, let's take a closer look of where things actually stand with 64 days to go. Joining me now Democratic strategist and pollster Cornell Belcher. Cornell, it's good to have you. My priors throughout have been that the structure of the race is stronger than maybe any race we've covered particularly since maybe 2008 or further back than that, and that that in the end is what's driving the fundamentals here. What do you think -- what do you think of things -- where things stand right now?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST AND POLLSTER: I think that do shock. You know, shock, you know, for progressives. Joe Biden is not going to win the election by 12 points. And I'm with you. I have a lot of friends who called nervously like the bolts are tightening. He's not going to win it by 12 points, and there was no one by 12 points, Chris. So I'm not surprised that the poll is tight, particularly after the convention.

I was wondering if he was -- he would get a convention bounce he did in 2016. I think he did this time around, and the margin is still seven to eight points, which is right in line with where Obama was in 2008. But I will say this, I am not comfortable until I see filing into a majority. I actually don't care what the margin is, right. I think in the end, this may be two or three-point race. But I don't care if it's a two or three-point race if Joe Biden gets to 51 percent. And he's not at a majority quite yet in any of the in any of these polls, so I think there is still work to do.

HAYES: That's interesting. So that that benchmark for you 50 to 51, which again, was part of the reason that there are a lot of have, you know, confidence in Obama in 2012 was that even when polling was tight, he was -- he was right there in that majority level. That that to you is a key thing that you have your eyes on.

BELCHER: That's where you can't lose. If you get to a majority, you can't lose look. You know, go back to 2016 --

HAYES: Well --

BELCHER: Well, yes. That's another topic. Look, go back in 2016, you know, what does he got in most of these battleground states? In New Hampshire, you have what, 47 percent. In Wisconsin, what was he? 47. In Pennsylvania, 48 percent. He's somewhere between 47 and 40 -- 47 and 48 percent. He never was able to get to the majority in most of the battle rounds. And as you know, he didn't win the plurality nationally.

So he was able to win in those battleground states because Hillary was never able to garner a majority. She was never able to capture all the elements of that Obama majority. And that's what keeps me up late at night is again, until Joe Biden gets to 51 percent, I think Democrats have -- need to be cautious and they got to work their tails off because this -- the race is still in play for Donald Trump.

And look, Chris, I think -- I think he's probably going to get back to where he was in 2016. I do. I think in Pennsylvania in Wisconsin, he's going to get it back to roughly 45, 46 47 percent in the end, and so it's got a tighten.

HAYES: That's -- so Joe Biden went to Pennsylvania today. He gave a speech. I thought there was -- you know, there's clearly this attack on him where Trump is trying to sort of paint him as some puppet of like the radical left and Antifa. And I thought he had a pretty good -- I mean, look, if you're a guy who's been in public life for 50 years, you might as well lean into that, right? If you're a guy who got elected that Senate in when you're 29, and you're running for president at 77, and you've been basically a kind of centrist Democrat your whole life, you might as well lean into that. And I thought this line was pretty good when he says, you know me. Take a listen to this.


JOE BIDEN: You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family story. Ask yourself, do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?


HAYES: I thought that was a pretty effective line actually.

BELCHER: You know, but Chris, I think you're being too rational. I mean, it's -- yes, it makes all the sense in the world. But Donald Trump just came out of a convention where fact-checkers showed that most of what he said was not part of reality, and he got a bump out of it.

HAYES: Right.

BELCHER: So, look, I think to those who are leaning towards Trump, and those who voted for Trump again, I think the scare tactics might work, Chris. Look, and we've talked about before, look, there is a unfortunate large swath of history in America that says, you know, you can drive wide ends against the other and benefit.

In the end, Joe Biden is not going to win the majority of White voters. The question becomes, does -- you know, does he get the 38, 39 percent of White vote? That's the big x-factor.

HAYES: Cornell Belcher, it's always good to talk to you on this stuff so I'll have you back again soon. Thank you so much. That is ALL IN on this Monday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.


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