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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, December 30, 2020

Guests: Timothy Snyder, Andrew Weissmann, Bernie Sanders, Julie Morita, Linda Chavez


Republican Senator Josh Hawley is announcing today that he will object to the certification of some states' Electoral College results on January 6th when Congress is scheduled to ratify Joe Biden's victory. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has hired forensic accounting experts as part of the D.A.'s criminal probe into Trump and his business operations. Mitch McConnell blocks the vote on a $2,000 COVID relief check. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is interviewed on his push for the $2,000 COVID relief check. Desperate people camped out in line in the cold to get vaccinated in Lee County, Florida.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Brittany, you have a great room too. Thank you so much. Happy New Year, friends. That's tonight's REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.


MEHDI HASAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN. A Republican senator officially co-signs the anti-democratic fantasies of a defeated president. Tonight, what Senator Josh Hawley's endorsement of a coup means for January the sixth and beyond. Then --

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Here is what the leader of the Republican Party says. He says, $2,000 ASAP.

HASAN: Mitch McConnell's latest blockade for Americans desperate for COVID relief. Senator Bernie Sanders joins me live.

Plus, how did police ignore the stark warnings about the Nashville bomber? New questions about the delayed vaccine rollout for the Trump administration and from the massive federal failure on COVID and beyond. How America keeps paying for the Republican Party's enduring anti-government fetish.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Nine most terrifying words in the English language are I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

HASAN: ALL IN starts right now.


HASAN (on camera): Good evening from Washington D.C. I'm Mehdi Hasan in for Chris Hayes. Three weeks from now Donald Trump will no longer be president. And a lot of people will be breathing a huge sigh of relief. But one of the big worries for many of us is what happens when the next Trump comes along, someone who appeals to the base and is just as immoral and cynical as Trump, but who is smarter and savvier?

Well, today we got something like an official candidate announcement for that roll. It came from Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who cast himself as a reformist and a populist, a young senator willing to break with the old ideas and the old elites in charge of both parties. Hawley partnered with Bernie Sanders in calling for $2,000 COVID relief checks after Trump took that stance. And some of his positions including his very justified attacks on the power of big tech are shared by many on the left.

But Hawley is also a calculating politician who many believe is positioning himself for a presidential run in the post-Trump era. And he has decided that the best way to do that is to show that he is willing to overturn a democratic election and the American democracy itself in order to keep Republicans in power.

Hawley announcing today that he will object to the certification of some states' Electoral College results on January the sixth when Congress is scheduled to ratify Joe Biden's very legitimate victory. It's a move opposed by Mitch McConnell, because it means that every Republican senator will have to go on record and vote to either side with Trump and take a stand against American democracy or instead defy the Trump base by acknowledging the legitimacy of the election result.

That's because if a single senator, as well as a member of the House, objects to the Electoral College totals, lawmakers will have to vote on whether they agree to the objection. Now, there's virtually no chance for such an objection to succeed since Democrats control the House and will not vote to overturn Biden's victory. But a number of Republican House members have said they will object anyway. And now, Josh Hawley has as well.

And to be honest, Hawley has done us a favor, because while many Republican senators still haven't publicly accepted the election results, none had gone this far. Hawley has now outed himself as the lead plotter in the Senate in Donald Trump's attempted coup. It's a scarlet letter that should follow him forever. He's gone on record against democracy, and he's forcing the rest of the GOP to go on record too. It's important to understand how unprecedented this is.

As we noted earlier this week, not a single Democratic senator objected when Al Gore was declared the loser of the 2000 election, even though there was a much more credible case for the election having been stolen then. And when House Democrats objected, citing the incomplete vote count in Florida, it was Gore himself who was presiding over the proceedings in Congress who shut down the challenge.


REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Mr. Vice President, there are gross violations of the Voting Rights Act from Florida and I object, and it is not signed by a senator.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: The gentlewoman -- the chair thanks the gentlewoman from California on the basis previously stated. The point of order may not be received.


HASAN: We should also note that after the 2004 election, there was one Democratic senator who did object, Senator Barbara Boxer of California, but it was a very different situation. John Kerry had conceded, and Boxer made clear she wasn't trying to overturn the election, but rather to spotlight problems in Ohio such as voters being forced to stand in line at some precincts for 10 or even 12 hours.

What Josh Hawley is doing is very different. Donald Trump continues to insist that the election was stolen from him. Last night, he was raged tweeting deranged attacks on Republican officials in Georgia who won't steal the election for him, including a claim that the Secretary of State's brother, "works for China."

It turns out the Georgia Secretary of State does have a brother, but he has nothing to do with Chinese tech companies or voting machines. He's just an ordinary guy. Then today, seemingly in response to Hawley's announcement, Trump tweeted, "January Sixth, See you in D.C."

On what basis is Josh Hawley contesting the election on the sixth of January? Georgia just finished yet another audit of its results that confirmed once again that Biden won and that there was no fraud. Trump's crack team has not been able to find evidence of fraud anywhere else. And their legal challenges have been laughed out of the courts again, and again. At one point they lost cases in six states in a single day.

And look, it's one thing for some of the most infamous Republican backbenchers in the House, the usual suspects to play along with Trump's coup attempt. Nobody expects much else from these people. But Josh Hawley is supposed to be a smart guy, the future of the GOP. I happen to think he knows what he's doing in trying to undermine a legitimate election. He just doesn't care because he thinks it'll help him win over the Trump base.

Hawley is a self-styled populist who loves to rail against the elites, despite being a member of the elite himself. The senator attended Stanford University and Yale Law after graduating from prep school. And is there anything less populist than telling more than 81 million Americans that their votes shouldn't count so that he Senator Joshua David Hawley can skim his way into the Oval Office come 2024.

For some perspective on all this, I'm joined now by Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder, author of "On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the 20th Century." You have been sounding the alarm bell about rising authoritarianism, fascism for many years now. What do you make of this latest development, a sitting Republican senator aiding and abetting Donald Trump's ridiculous attempt to overturn the election?

TIMOTHY SNYDER, HISTORY PROFESSOR, YALE UNIVERSITY: The thing that strikes me most, and maybe the thing, which is the most shameful and dangerous is the endorsement of the big lie. Senator Hawley knows that the claims he's making are not true. He knows that he is in effect endorsing a conspiracy theory. He knows that what he's doing is endorsing the story in which Mr. Trump is the victim, Mr. Trump has been stabbed in the back.

And from the point of view of American history and American voters, the sad, the tragic thing about this is that the real victims in the history of American voting are the people whose votes are not counted, African-Americans historically. And the way Mr. Trump's story runs is that it's those Black people, it's those people in the cities who stole the election.

So, what Mr. Hawley is doing -- and this is what shameful about it for him, I think, as a young man, as a white man, it's shameful to stand up there and endorse the claim that Black people voting is fraud. But in addition to the moral shame of it, there are the political consequences. When you make claims like this, you're basically saying the other side is cheated and so we're going to have to cheat the next time around.

HASAN: Yes, very true. And some people -- we talk about cheating, let's just get our language straight here, some people say we shouldn't call this a coup, or a coup attempt. That's -- it's hyperbole, they say. But what I -- what I didn't get is what should we call an attempt by the sitting president and his party in the legislature trying to overturn the result of a free and fair election that was called almost two months ago?

SNYDER: I think there's no -- there's no problem at all calling this a coup or a self-coup or an attempted coup. The only thing which is a little bit different about this, historically speaking, is how much of it Mr. Trump broadcast in advance. He spent six or seven months before November telling us how he would try to throw the election after November. And he did basically all the things he said he was going to do.

I mean, for people who think the military has to be involved, it's not for lack of trying. In early January -- in early June, Mr. Trump tried to bring the military into the streets of Washington. He's been talking to General Michael Flynn who, of course, as we all know, advocates a military coup to carry out a military-run election. He's tried basically everything.

But I'd also emphasize that the way that it obviously goes down isn't always in some kind of flash of lightning or gunpowder. It's often by way of technicality, like the kind of thing that's been organized for January 6th where you take some rule that's meant to be a little thing and you push it as far as it can possibly go and break the system that way.

So, taking the opportunity to render an objection and using that as a way to question the whole system, that's the breaking of norms, that's the stretching of rules which undermines democracy.

HASAN: Indeed, it does. And it doesn't matter whether it succeeds or not. People say, well, it's going to fail. Well, who cares? Attempted robbery is still a crime, and something we should call out. What do you make of Sen. Josh Hawley specifically? Because I've always worried that the real long term threat of authoritarianism of fascism even is not from Trump, but from someone who comes after Trump, who combines Trump's rhetoric and policies and the doors that Trump has opened with a more acceptable face and less personal baggage.

SNYDER: Yes, you're making a great historical point. I mean, very often, the authoritarians who remember in the past had someone who went before them and paved the way, and that someone then gets forgotten when the next person comes along. I mean, look, Mr. Hawley is somebody who ran for attorney general of Missouri in 2016 complaining about ladder-climbing politicians. 10 months later, he announced his run for the Senate. In 2018, he becomes a senator. At this point, he's basically auditioning for President.

And so we have to realize that what he's doing is not just a challenge to the system, it's also a form of self-dealing, because the situation in 2024 is very possible, namely, the Republicans control the Congress, Mr. Hawley is the Republican candidate, and he loses the presidential election. But we get to do Operation Crybaby a second time around.

So, what Mr. Hawley is doing now is making that scenario more thinkable and more plausible. He's setting up a plan B by which he himself can become president after losing a presidential election. That's one more thing which is (INAUDIBLE)

HASAN: I think you're right about that. Timothy Snyder, we'll have to leave it there. Thanks so much for being with us tonight. Thank you for your insights into Operation Crybaby indeed.

One of the reasons Donald Trump is so obsessed with not leaving office is because on January the 20th, he faces a number of potential legal issues, but will no longer have the shield of presidential immunity. And now, the Washington Post is reporting that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has hired forensic accounting experts as part of the DA's criminal probe into Trump and his business operations.

For the latest on that probe and the various investigations into Trump and his possible legal exposure, I'm joined now by NYU Law School Professor Andrew Weissmann, who served as lead prosecutor in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel's Office, as well as chief of the Fraud Section of the Justice Department.

Andrew, what do you make of this news about Cyrus Vance hiring this accounting firm FTI Consulting? How big a deal is it? Should Trump be worried?

ANDREW WEISSMANN, FORMER LEAD PROSECUTOR, MUELLER PROBE: We don't know yet in terms of whether the Manhattan District Attorney's Office will make its case. But if there is something there, if there's a there-there, then yes, you would be worried if you're Donald Trump, his family, and his companies.

And the reason is, one, the president cannot pardon himself out of state criminal liability. And the New York State criminal investigation is something that will go on regardless of what the President does with his pardon power.

But more than that, the forensic accountants that are reported to have been hired are true experts. Forensic accountant, essentially, is a fancy word for an expert who can follow the money. And FTI is an outfit that is really reputable. In fact, I know them pretty well, because not only do they have former FBI agents and analysts there, they have one of the lead forensic accountants that worked for the Special Counsel investigation is actually at FTI.

And they are really good at detecting fraud, at following and tracing money, and particularly good at attribution. And what I mean by that is, if somebody sets up sort of offshore accounts, uses fake or sham names, they're really good at tracing money flows so that they can attribute that money to a particular person.

And the reason that's important is if you're not paying taxes on it, and you can show that that's income, then you can -- you can make a criminal case, and that's exactly for instance, what we did in the Paul Manafort case, which is we traced all of his bonds across the globe with the help of spectacular forensic accountants. So, I suspect that's exactly what Manhattan is going to try to do here.

HASAN: So, it's interesting you mentioned Paul Manafort who, of course, was just pardoned by the president after being convicted for all those crimes. And I wonder how much do you think a desire to avoid being prosecuted himself, a desire to keep his own immunity is driving this ridiculous effort to overturn the election result and stay in office beyond the 20th of January?

WEISSMANN: Well, you know, again, no one knows for sure. But if there is criminal liability, they give a very powerful motive for the President to want to stay as president because he then enjoys a Federal de facto immunity because the Department of Justice will not prosecute a sitting president. And it also confers some advantages in -- even an in state law in terms of being able to delay things in terms of the investigation.

So, if there is criminal liability there, that is a powerful motive to want to stay in office, although, you know, as you reported in the last segment, you know, it's a fool's errand at this point, because, you know, on January 20th, the President will actually no longer be the president, and he is going to have to contend with this state investigation, which by all accounts is doing exactly what a good follow the money investigation should be doing.

HASAN: One last quick question before we run out of time. A lot of people are putting a lot of faith in these state lawsuits and Trump facing, you know, court -- some form of court battle after he leaves office. Will a former U.S. president ever really see the inside of a U.S. prison cell? I doubt it.

WEISSMANN: You know, this is one which is very interesting. And it's useful to think of this from a global perspective because we hold ourselves out as a nation where the rule of law is the crown jewel of, you know, our democracy. And yet we haven't seen a, you know, former president or president being held to account criminally.

Hopefully, that's because there hasn't been the kind of criminality that would lead to that result. But if you compare that to other countries that are so-called Western democracies, you know, there are countries that do apply the rule of law to leaders. It's going on right now in France, it is going on in Israel. And there's no reason if you really think about it, if you believe as the Supreme Court has held that the president the United States, the presidency is not above the law, then there is reasonable to support that kind of resolution.

HASAN: Well, I hope you're right. That's all I can say. Andrew Weissmann, thank you so much for your time and your insights tonight.

Next, there is bipartisan support for increasing the COVID relief checks to $2,000. So, why is Mitch McConnell refusing to budge? I'll talk to Senator Bernie Sanders on his fight to make it happen after this short break.



SANDERS: We have a very unlikely ally in President Trump. Nobody here has disagreed with Trump more times than I have. And yet here is what the leader of the Republican Party says. He says $2,000 ASAP. So, even on this issue, amazingly enough, the President of the United States is right.


HASAN: That was Senator Bernie Sanders today arguing for $2,000 stimulus checks for all Americans in this terrible pandemic and noting the push from Donald Trump for that same thing. But while the leader of the Republican Party wants those checks to go out ASAP, Mitch McConnell does not.

That's why the Senate Majority Leader made sure when he introduced a bill for those payments to load the bill down with completely unrelated provisions, one to repeal certain legal liability protections for internet platforms, and one provision to investigate supposed mythical voter fraud, both described by Democrats as poison pills to kill the effort to expand financial relief.

Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, has been leading the charge for increased stimulus checks for weeks and plans to continue raising the motion for that House bill in the Senate. He joins me now from the Senate.

Senator, thanks for coming on the show. Mitch McConnell is upset with you. Susan Collins is upset with you. The Republicans want to go home and celebrate New Year. But am I right in saying you want to keep them in town for as long as it takes and force a vote on this because many Americans are unable to put food on the table for New Year's?

SANDERS: You got it. Look, nobody wants to say here a minute longer than we should. But it is unconscionable to me to see members of Congress fleeing home to their families while all over this country, you got families who are struggling to put food on the table. You're looking at millions of people who are worried about being evicted from their homes. You have people, in the midst of this terrible pandemic, cannot afford to go to the doctor. They're accumulating massive debt.

No, we have got to stay here and do the right thing, and that is pass legislation that was passed already in the House and that's providing $2,000 for every working-class person in this country.

HASAN: So, you mentioned providing it to every working-class person. The Washington Post editorial board today is saying going from $600 to $2,000 checks is a waste of money. It could be better spent elsewhere, they say. The Post also reported a couple of weeks ago that you and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia had a heated exchange over direct checks versus unemployment benefits.

What's your response, Senator, to this argument that it's not a good use of money, that the money shouldn't go to all or most Americans because not all of them need $2,000. It should be targeted at the unemployed instead. What do you say to that?

SANDERS: Well, we have put into the legislation that just passed an extension for 11 weeks of unemployment benefits with a $300.00 supplement. I would go higher than that. I fought and wanted to see a $600.00 supplement on top of normal unemployment. So, it's not either-or, Mehdi. It is a question of understanding that right now we are looking at a working-class in this country that is in more desperation than any time since the Great Depression.

You had a half the people trying to survive living paycheck to paycheck. The pandemic is getting worse. People don't know how they're going to get to a doctor. People are worried about being evicted. There is enormous desperation out there and you can't turn your back on that.

Now, I find it interesting that my friends at the Washington Post or the Republican leadership, you know, when it comes for tax breaks to rich people or corporate welfare or bloated military budgets, that's okay. But when you stand up, and you say that working-class families need some help, oh, my God, the world is going to collapse.

So, I'm (AUDIO GAP) Amazon making billions and billions of dollars and not paying a nickel in federal taxes, no one talks about that. But when you're helping a mom trying to feed her kids, oh, my God, we can't afford it. This is hypocrisy.

HASAN: Yes, indeed, indeed. And those tax cuts cost four times as much as these checks, but they never mentioned that. What's been good to see, Senator, is the Democratic leadership get behind you on this fight. And in fact, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris was one of the co-sponsors on your bill earlier this year to try and get monthly checks to Americans until the crisis is over.

Do you think the Biden-Harris administration and the Democratic leadership in Congress will now get behind more of the policies you're pushing on spending, on relief, on stimulus in 2021, or will they get pressured to focus on the deficit, on austerity, as previous Democratic administrations have?

SANDERS: Well, I think you mentioned a moment ago disagreement that Senator Manchin and I had. That's true. And it really has a lot to do with how we conceive of the Democratic Party. And I believe that the Democratic Party has got to see itself, not as the party of the upper-middle class, that's fine, but as the party of the working class.

The fact that Donald Trump has won tens of millions of working-class votes despite being a pathological liar and a fraud, speaks to the failure of the Democratic Party and standing up for those very families. So, I will do everything I can to oppose moving into austerity economics. People are hurting. We've got to stand with those people. We have massive income and wealth inequality in America. We've got to address that as well. HASAN: One last question, Senator. You mentioned Donald Trump. You've worked with Republican Senator Josh Hawley on trying to get $2,000 checks into the relief bill. Today, he's announced that he'll be objecting to the election result next week in Congress. How is this not anything other than an open and very dangerous attack on American democracy by Senator Hawley and other Republicans in the House?

SANDERS: You're right. You know, I can't argue with you. You're absolutely right. What Trump is doing and those people who support his approach are trying to delegitimize elections in this country. And that is undermining American democracy. It is inconceivable to me that you still have Republicans who are refusing to acknowledge that Joe Biden is the president-elect, Kamala Harris is the vice-president-elect, and they are literally trying to undo the democratic process.

And that makes me very nervous not for what's going to happen next week. We will deal with that. But it makes me very nervous that there are millions and millions of people prepared to support candidates who truly do not believe in democracy. And that is an issue we've got to confront.

HASAN: Indeed, I think it makes all of us nervous. Senator Bernie Sanders, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.

SANDERS: Thank you.

HASAN: Ahead, is there any hope for speeding up the process of getting the vaccine to people? I'll talk to a member of Biden's COVID advisory panel about what can be done right after this.


HASAN: Here in the final days of 2020, we are once again seeing long lines in the streets of America, not for voting this time or for testing, but now for the COVID vaccine itself. This is what it looked like in Lee County, Florida overnight, as desperate people camped out in line in the cold to get vaccinated. A line that itself has the potential to spread the virus.

According to Bloomberg, so far states have only used a fraction of the vaccine doses they received from just over 50 percent in North Dakota, down to barely 11 percent in Maryland. Washington Post editorial about the slow pace of vaccination in the United States includes this startling observation. "At the current rate, it would take the United States approximately 10 years to reach that herd immunity level of inoculation. That's right, 10 years."

But so much of the problem isn't about the states themselves, it's about how the federal government has been almost completely absent in creating a vaccine distribution plan. Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan made this point yesterday on this very show that the states need help from the federal government in crafting a massive national plan to keep Americans safe.

But the federal government is just saying no. It's up to the states, they're on their own, which might not be that surprising because it's like the testing debacle all over again. When the Trump administration claimed there were plenty of tests and blamed states for the shortfall. But states didn't have enough tests and said they were abandoned by the federal government.

Dr. Julie Morita is a former commissioner of the Chicago Public Health Department and she's also a member of the Biden Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. Thank you so much for coming on the show. The current vaccination distribution rates are so slow that we are being told it'll take 10 years to get enough Americans vaccinated for herd immunity, 10 years. How does a Biden administration turn that around up the pace?

JULIE MORITA, MEMBER, BIDEN COVID-19 ADVISORY BOARD: Hi, Medhi. Thanks for having me tonight. As you pointed out, these are really challenging and heartbreaking times with record numbers of hospitalizations and deaths occurring. And the President-Elect recognizes that in order for us to change the course of this pandemic, we really need to increase vaccine administration rate.

And he's committed, in his own words, to move heaven and earth to make that happen. And what he's outlined is really using the Defense Production Act, if necessary, to increase supplies and materials the manufacturers need, working closely with governors and mayors to make sure that they have the resources they need to actually support vaccination efforts.

It's great that the stimulus bill provided funding over the weekend, but those resources were lacking up until recently, and it's going to take a little time for the states and locals to take advantage of it. And the President-Elect is also committed to having a massive public awareness campaign to really increase vaccine acceptance, which we really need to work on as well.

The President-Elect is really committed to doing everything possible to change this course and to increase vaccine administration rate.

HASAN: So, Dr. Morita, when states say they aren't getting enough doses out because the federal government isn't supporting them. And when the federal government says, nope, it's up to the states to do this. We've done our bid. Where does the truth lie in your view? Is on one side or the other? Is it somewhere in the middle?

MORITA: So, having been a former Health Commissioner in Chicago, I understand the challenges that we face during these public health emergencies. And so, it's the same people who are responsible for contact tracing, or testing, to responding to outbreaks and long-term care facilities, supporting health care facilities in their surges.

They're being asked to do the vaccine administration and coordination of that program. And up until recently, they haven't had the resources they needed. Again, the federal stimulus approval of this weekend will be helpful, but there will likely be more resources that are needed to really ensure that these vaccine programs can ramp up, get the vaccines administered as quickly as possible. With the appropriate resources, I'm confident they can.

HASAN: You were involved, I believe, also in the immunization responses to the Swine Flu and Ebola outbreaks as well during the Obama years. What lessons can be learned from them?

MORITA: I think there were some critical lessons that we learned during Ebola, during H1N1, during Zika, that a strong federal coordinated response is essential. So, the federal agencies were working closely together and also working really closely with state and local, so we felt support, and we had the resources that we needed.

It was also essential to have really clear and consistent communication that was based on science and facts. Those kinds of things really helped us to be responsive and to do what was appropriate when we needed to do it.

The other thing that was really critical is that we really leaned into engagement with our community organizations, understanding what the community's questions were, hearing from them, understanding what concerns they had and who they needed to hear from to really have faith and confidence in the vaccines that were being administered.

Those same kinds of things need to happen again to ensure that we can actually respond and turn the tide of this pandemic.

HASAN: Well, let's hope they do. Dr. Julie Morita, thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us. We appreciate it.

MORITA: Thank you.

HASAN: Tonight, why was the warning local authorities got about the Nashville bomber effectively ignored? That story next.


HASAN: We continue to learn more about the Christmas Day bombing in Nashville, Tennessee. A police report obtained by the Tennessee and newspaper reveals that the girlfriend of the alleged bomber, Anthony Warner, told police more than a year ago that he was making bombs in his RV. That's the same vehicle that exploded outside and AT&T facility last week, injuring three people and causing destruction across several blocks in downtown Nashville, as well as communication outages across the area.

After she made the report in August 2019, police officers visited the alleged bombers home, but he did not answer the door. They saw the RV parked behind the house, but it was behind the fence and they couldn't see inside. Police also noticed several security cameras on the property and an alarm with wires attached at the front door. Officers then sent their report to the FBI to check their databases and no results turned up.

In a statement, Nashville police said "at no time was there any evidence of a crime detected and no additional action was taken. No additional information came to the department or the FBI detention after August 2019.

Now, I have to say, as a brown-skinned Muslim following this story, I have so many things to say. For a start, Black and Brown people and Muslims, in particular, don't get visited by the police when we're suspected of making secret bombs. We get our homes raided, we get detained, we get interrogated, we get demonized and smeared in the press.

And when a Muslim is believed to have blown himself up and hurt people in the process, it's a suicide bombing, a suicide attack. It's not a mysterious motorhome blast as Reuters rather quaintly described the Nashville attack. Brown bombers are almost always terrorists until proven otherwise. A white bomber is a loner, a recluse mentally ill.

Now, to be clear, we don't know yet what Anthony Quinn Warner's motivations were. NBC News reporting today that he may have believed in conspiracy theories about lizard people and 5G networks. What we do know though is that as a white man, a white Christian, Anthony Quinn Warner gets a benefit of the doubt, has a certain privilege shall we say, that people who look like me and with names like mine never get. We're back after a short break.


REAGAN: I think you all know that I've always felt the nine most terrifying words in the English language are "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."


HASAN: That line from Ronald Reagan in 1986 has become the operating governing principle for modern-day Republicans. They want us to believe that government does not and should not help people. And they never miss a chance to repeat that mantra.

ROBERT PITTENGER, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, NORTH CAROLINA: President Reagan once told us that the nine most terrifying words in English language are "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Remember that old -- that old Ronald Reagan line?

TODD AKIN, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, MISSOURI: I believe that Ronald Reagan had it right.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I agree with Ronald Reagan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most feared words in the English language.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most terrifying words in the English language.

CRUZ: The scariest words in the English language.

SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR, ALASKA: The nine most frightening words in the English language are "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and I'm here to help.

SEN. MIKE ENZI (R-WY): I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm from the government --

CRUZE: And I'm here to help you.

ROMNEY: I'm here for the government -- from the government ---

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm here to help.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): I'm from the government and I'm here to help you is what -- one of the most frightening lines in America. It's no longer a joke.


HASAN: 2020 was perhaps the year we needed help from the government the most. And yet the government was nowhere to be found. As a public health crisis exploded in this country, President Trump and his administration went from pretending the Coronavirus didn't exist, to not being honest with the American people about what they knew, to completely dropping the ball on testing, to not advocating for policies that would keep Americans safe, to missing the mark on distributing the vaccine and endlessly delaying a second COVID relief package.

Their abject failure, their dereliction of duty has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and unprecedented economic turmoil. And not only are they not upset about it or regretful, they have the audacity to be complaining about socialism. Former Trump ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley tweeting the other day, "2020 was the year socialism went mainstream. This terrifying trend threatens the future of every American."

As we discussed on the show earlier, at the current rate, it could take 10 years to vaccinate every American. So, I'm pretty sure too much government action is not our problem right now. It's far too little. I'm joined now by Linda Chavez, who served in Ronald Reagan's White House, and Michelle Goldberg, op-ed columnist for The New York Times.

Linda, let me start with you. Thank you both for joining me, but Linda, let me go with you first. That mantra that government is a problem, that someone's saying they're from the government and they're here to help is the biggest fear an American could have. Surely you can't still believe that in a year of mass unemployment and, frankly, mass death?

LINDA CHAVEZ, FORMER OFFICIAL, REAGAN ADMINISTRATION: Well, first of all, the federal government's primary responsibility is to provide for the common defense against a foreign enemy, or in this case against an enemy that comes in the form of a virus. So, I actually believe that the federal government is the only government that can successfully be able to distribute this virus and, frankly, the current administration, I guess it's just as well, that they didn't try to do it because this has been the most incompetent administration in the history of America, at least during my lifetime.

So, I don't you know, think that if Ronald Reagan were alive today, that he would be saying that the government should not get involved for -- involved in defending American against a virus that, frankly, crosses borders. The idea of federalism has no place when you're talking about something that moves with people across porous borders.

HASAN: That's a fair point. Michelle, though, does it make you laugh or cry when you see Nikki Haley and other Republicans obsessing over socialism at a time when Food Bank lines are growing, millions of Americans are falling into poverty, and even a Republican president is calling for direct cash payments?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I would say that the only kind of -- one of the only very, very thin silver linings of this extraordinarily terrible era is that it really has put the nail in the coffin of Reaganism, right? When Josh Hawley, when very conservative Republicans are calling for $2,000 survival payments along with the entire Democratic Party, I think that this, you know, sort of right-wing austerity has been killed off for good even if there are still people like Nikki Haley and Ted Cruz and some others who are trying to keep its corpse alive.

And everyone in the country now has experienced what it's like to live in a nation where the federal government simply doesn't work, and it is dystopian.

HASAN: Yes. And Linda, Michelle mentioned the nail in the coffin of Reaganism. And I just want to expand on that. Wasn't it the war on so-called big government that Reagan started and that even Bill Clinton joined in on, that left the U.S. uniquely among advanced industrialized nations unprepared to deal with a public health crisis like this rickety infrastructure, lack of universal health care, no real social safety net?

CHAVEZ: Well, I have to say that I still consider myself a conservative. I'm not sure how much longer I can stay a Republican. We'll see on January 6th. I may not be able to maintain my Republican registration after the Republicans do what they're planning on doing with the Electoral College vote.

But I do think that there is a big difference between believing that there are some jobs that government should do and some that it shouldn't. And I don't think it's really the nail in the coffin of Reaganism. As I say, I think if Ronald Reagan were alive, I think he would have reacted very differently than Donald Trump did.

Donald Trump's not a conservative. The idea that he somehow has Reagan's ideology is nonsense. The man has no ideology. He's a narcissist and he is led like a narcissist, and frankly, he's now in the process of trying to destroy the Republican Party.

HASAN: But it's not just Trump, I guess, Linda, it's some of those Republican enablers as we just played the tape of some of those people in Congress who still do echo Ronald Reagan --

CHAVEZ: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

HASAN: -- when they're calling -- when they're calling for, you know, no spending on unemployment benefits or direct checks in the middle of a pandemic. Michelle, let me ask you this. How tough a job does Joe Biden have? Joe Biden, a pretty centrist politician, supporter of austerity in the past, how tough a job does he have convincing Americans to have faith in government again, especially after the last four years of incompetence, as Linda put it?

GOLDBERG: Well, it's going to be extraordinarily hard, especially if Democrats don't win these two Senate seats in Georgia, because a Senate controlled by Mitch McConnell is going to be devoted to one thing, and that is destroying a Joe Biden presidency.

And the way you destroy a Joe Biden presidency is you hobble the economy, you hobble any ability to get aid to the States, right. We've already seen this movie once before with Barack Obama. There's no end there. And I think that, you know, Mitch McConnell is savvy enough to know that if the country looks like it's failing, the Senate is not going to be blamed, even if they're the roadblock.

The other thing that that Joe Biden is going to be contending with is he has to put together a vaccine strategy, a strategy to get people inoculated, you know, basically from a standing start. If you look at what's happening in Israel, for example, and I know Israel is a very different country than America, but they're on track to basically be done by March.

You know, and if you look at the extraordinarily slow pace that even the vaccines that are already out there, how slow it is getting them into people's arms because nobody thought to train extra -- you know, extra workers, nobody thought to put together this entire infrastructure, or they knew the vaccines were coming down the pike, but they didn't think to kind of create an infrastructure to actually deliver them to people. It's an astonishment even though it's the sort of failure that we've seen over and over again.

And so Joe Biden starting on January 20, has to start creating an infrastructure that should have been in process for months and months now.

HASAN: Yes. And there hasn't been that process. And you mentioned kind of the cynicism of some Senate Republicans. Linda, would you concede at least. We just said a moment ago, it's not just about Trump. Even before Trump, Mitch McConnell was doing the same during an Obama presidency. You can't have a stimulus as big as you want because it's a Democrat in the White House.

Trump comes along, he gets a huge stimulus when he needs one in the middle of a pandemic. Now, you have Ron Johnson talking about we can't -- you know, we have to worry about debt. The same Ron Johnson who voted for $2 trillion unfunded tax cuts. Would you accept there is some of that politics going on? This isn't about big government, small government, you know, ideology theology.

CHAVEZ: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, you know, it's very hard. As I say, you know, I don't understand what the Republican Party stands for anymore. I really don't because they've embraced populism, which has been, you know -- there's Bernie Sanders populism and there's Donald Trump populism. I don't like populism of any sort.

They've abandoned many conservative principles. And as I say, one of the biggest failings has been competence which one thing, you know, living in Washington and being part of government for many administrations is one thing you could always count on the Republicans is bringing in competent people into the government. That's no longer true.

This administration has not had the best people. And I'm hoping that the Biden administration, at least they have people who have some familiarity with government, who served in positions of before. And look, there may be a role for the military to play. This is a logistical nightmare. And you have to have the bodies out there to distribute and get the vaccines, not just -- you know, FedEx and UPS have done a great job flying the vaccine bottles in, but you've got to get them into people's arms. And that's going to require mobilization of the kind we haven't seen in decades in the United States.

I think you're right, but that would require some kind of political imagination among some of the people in Congress, especially Republicans. One thing I would say, Linda, just to be fair, you said the Donald Trump's populism is Bernie Sanders populism. I mean, Donald Trump's populism is racist, Bernie Sanders isn't. I should put that out there.

But I appreciate both of you coming on to talk about this. Linda, Michelle, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you so much for your insights.

That is ALL IN for this evening. Be sure to check out my show streaming weeknights on Peacock including tonight's special report, an entire episode dedicated to the victims of COVID-19. 50 stories of 50 lives lost. I really do hope you watch that. But of course, not before you check out my very good friend Ali Velshi who is hosting "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" tonight. Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: What a pleasure, my friend. Have yourself a great evening.


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