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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, January 4, 2021

Guests: Ted Lieu, Michael Bromwich, Tim Kaine, Nse Ufot, Anthony Fauci


Two House Democrats are now asking the FBI to open a criminal probe into Donald Trump after a phone call of him came out pressuring the Georgia Secretary of Georgia to turn the election in his favor. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) is interviewed about his letter to the FBI to open criminal probe to President Trump. A growing number of Republicans joining the group of Congresspeople who will object to the Electoral College vote when Congress meets on Wednesday for the formal count. Georgians head to the polls in key Senate races. Dr. Anthony Fauci is interviewed on the slow pace of the U.S. vaccination.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: The whole thing it seems to be the one group of people that are staying motivated are black voters who are being motivated every day. Errin Haines, Jason Johnson, I wish we had more time. That is tonight's REIDOUT. Thank you all for joining us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN. Trump goes down to Georgia looking for an election to steal.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, what are we going to do here, folks? I only need 11,000 votes. Fellows, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.

HAYES: 16 days from the inauguration of President Biden, and President Trump won't let go.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: The will of the people prevailed. We won three times here.

HAYES: Tonight, calls for a criminal investigation of the president, the seditious activity of a lame-duck loser, and the caucus of Republicans ready to hold a gun to the head of American democracy. Then, control of the Senate is at stake tomorrow in Georgia. Is the President helping or hurting?

GABRIEL STERLING, IMPLEMENTATION MANAGER, GEORGIA VOTING SYSTEM: This is one I don't fully understand. No one is changing parts or pieces out of Dominion voting machines. That is -- that's not -- I don't even know what that means.

HAYES: And as Trump fiddles, the virus rages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's 35 million vaccines sitting on the shelf right now. We are way behind.

HAYES: Tonight, the Biden plan to surge vaccinations and a timeline back to normal. Dr. Anthony Fauci will be my guest when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I'm Chris Hayes. A Happy New Year to you. A day after the release of what is probably the most -- well, I think definitely the most damning presidential phone call of all time, the fallout over a president caught actively plotting sedition continues to grow at this hour.

Two House Democrats are now asking the FBI to open a criminal probe into Donald Trump. I'll speak to one of them in just a few minutes. The Fulton County District Attorney down in Georgia released a statement saying in part, "Like many Americans, I found the news reports about the President's telephone call with the Georgia Secretary of State disturbing. Anyone who commits a felony violation of Georgia law in my jurisdiction will be held accountable."

This afternoon the Republican official in charge of Georgia's voting system did a live point by point fact check of Trump's preposterous claims about voting in that state.


STERLING: Again, this is all easily provably false, yet the president persists. And by doing so, it undermines Georgians faith in the election system, especially Republican Georgia in this case, which is important because we have a big election coming up tomorrow, and everybody deserves to have their vote counted if they want it to be.


HAYES: Remember, that election official, that Republican official works in the Secretary of State's office. He's gotten death threats simply for standing up to the president and doing his job, along with other people in that office. And President-Elect Joe Biden was also in Georgia today campaigning for those two Democratic Senate candidates ahead of tomorrow's runoff election, which will determine the control of the U.S. Senate. And Biden lit into Trump for trying to take what is not his.


BIDEN: Politicians cannot assert, take, or seize power. Power is given, granted by the American people alone. And we can never give that up. It's always, always the will of the people must prevail.


HAYES: I mean, that's basically what democracy is about, right? People choose the people in power, not the people in power are getting to choose for themselves whether they stay in power. That's simple. But it was always clear we would end up here. It's always clear Donald Trump has nothing but contempt for democracy and for the rule of law and for democratic traditions and for the peaceful transition of power. It's been clear since he entered the political stage.

We have known for a very long time that he was, for instance, addicted to conspiracy theories and an inveterate liar, who brings out the absolute worst and those around him. We knew all that. But now here we are with the United States asking a state official to find him the votes he needs to stay in power.


TRUMP: So, look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more that we have because we won the state, and flipping the state is a great testament to our country.


HAYES: This already infamous phone call to Georgia Republican Secretary of State is one whole hour long. And in it, the president is actively, repeatedly attempting sedition. He is in the phone call plotting, conspiring against the democratically elected government of the United States which will take office in two weeks. He is seeking to overthrow it in advance.

He also seem to imply -- amidst all sorts of weird parts of that phone call, he seemed to imply in another way to stay in power that he didn't want to use because the vote margin was so narrow. Take a listen.


TRUMP: Now, we do have a way, but I don't want to get into it. We have -- we found a way in other states, Cleta, excuse me. But we don't need it because we're only down 11,000 votes, so we don't even need it. I personally think they're corrupt as hell. But we don't need that because all we have to do, Cleta, is find 11,000-plus votes. So, we don't need that. I'm not looking to shake up the whole world.


HAYES: OK, I'm not looking to shake up the whole world, whatever that means. Now, Trump has been openly vocally plotting this attempt to destroy American democracy from before the election even happen, and in the hours after, and in the week since.

In fact, it's the only thing he's been focused on. Even though in Los Angeles, for example, hospital morgues are so full that the National Guard is being called in to help county workers as corpses are moved into storage. They need the National Guard to sort through the dead bodies piling up in L.A. County. And even though we were pushing 4,000 deaths a day at the end of the deadliest year in American history -- in American history, even though we are careening towards 400,000 dead Americans with the vaccination program that is 18 million doses behind where it should be and the country is in tatters. This is it. This is all he cares about. It is all he has cared about.

We learned today Georgia Secretary of State spoke to Trump after the White House switchboard had made 18 attempts to have them speak with Trump over the two months since the general election. That's persistent. That's focus. I mean, say what you will about the guy. His attention span does seem short. But when he's focused on something, he made 18 calls to Georgia Secretary of State before he finally got through.

And for an hour, he's sounding at times both crafty and cagey and canny and also just completely insane, basically instructing the Secretary of State to change the results of democratic election or face criminal prosecution. And as the New York Times' Peter Baker points out, this is not some secret scheme. I mean, it is. We found out about it. But he's been doing it in front of all us. He's called the Republican governors of Georgia and Arizona to get them to intervene. He summoned Michigan's Republican legislative leaders to the White House to pressure them to change their state's results. He called the Republican speaker the Pennsylvania house twice to do the same.

And perhaps the most outrageous in all this, Trump has plenty of Republicans supporting him. All of them committed to the principle the United States isn't a democracy and does not get to elect a president who is not Donald Trump. As of right now, 13 Republicans in the Senate, dozens more in the House has said they will oppose certifying Joe Biden as the next president.

And amidst this, the only defense of Trump, we have heard from anyone really thus far, it's also the only defense of his phone call that led to impeachment, right, another corrupt phone call, is that it hasn't worked yet. But incompetence is no defense at all.

Today, two Democrats in Congress, Ted Lieu of California and Kathleen Rice of New York wrote to the FBI calling for a criminal investigation into Trump's call to the Georgia Secretary of State. And one of them, Congressman Ted Lieu joins me now. Congressman, why'd you write the letter? Do you think this is criminal?

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Absolutely. If you look at what Donald Trump did, for approximately an hour, he threatened and berated the Georgia Secretary of State to commit election fraud. That is illegal under both federal and state law. 52 U.S. Code Section 2511 says that you cannot knowingly and willingly essentially attempt election fraud. That's what he did. And under Georgia State law, you cannot solicit election fraud. So, it's very clear to me that these were illegal acts.

HAYES: What is -- what is the feeling among you and your colleagues about what to do about this? It is -- to my mind, I don't know if it is a technical criminal violation, though I think there's obviously colorable case there is. But if this isn't criminal in some deeper sense, then nothing is, right? The President is plotting the overthrow of the rightfully elected government in the United States. What is your duty in the House as House Democrats to do here?

LIEU: So, the House has three types of actions. We could certainly try impeaching him again, because I think this is also an impeachable conduct. But the purpose of impeachment is to remove the president, and the American people already decided to fire him. We could also make a criminal referral, which is what Congresswoman Kathleen Rice and I did to the FBI. Or we could do something like censure, which is to record for historical purposes the congressional disapproval of their treasonous behavior of their president. And that's something that members of Congress are exploring.

HAYES: Hakeem Jeffries, your colleague, he is high up and House leadership, I think the fourth or fifth ranking member in House leadership. This is what he had to say. I want to get your reaction to it with respect to Donald Trump and what to do about his behavior. Take a listen.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): With respect to what has currently taken place, I have not viewed the transcript. We're not looking backward. We're looking forward to the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20th.


HAYES: I understand and I'm sympathetic to that attitude. And I think, you know, you don't want to make more of what he's doing. I also understand the Democrats have a very big legislative agenda they'd like to pursue. But it also seems to me, if there is not a penalty for this behavior, which will continue and intensify, I think, in the coming weeks, what does that mean for the future of the American democratic project?

LIEU: You're absolutely right, Chris. That's one reason Congresswoman Rice and I did that letter because Donald Trump is still president for the next 16 days. He's delusional, he's potentially quite dangerous. He needs to know there are potential consequences to his illegal behavior. And if he knows that law enforcement is going to look into it, or if there's referrals for law enforcement to look into it, it might mitigate his behavior. And at the end of the day, no one's above the law. Not the President and not any former president.

HAYES: Congressman Ted Lieu of California, thank you so much for making time tonight. I appreciate it.

LIEU: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Michael Bromwich was one of three courtroom lawyers of the government during the criminal case against Oliver North back during the Iran Contra scandal, also a former Inspector General for the Department of Justice, legendary in I.G. circles, and he joins me now.

As a lawyer, and as a lawyer who is quite familiar with the workings of the government, what's your assessment of what we hear on that phone call?

MICHAEL BROMWICH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, you have a president who wants one thing and one thing only and is that -- that is to be declared the winner of the presidential election. He's come up with the states that he needs to target in order to do that. And he is perfectly willing to take whatever steps are necessary in order to get that result.

He has a single-minded determination to do that. He doesn't care what furniture he breaks along the way, including our democratic institutions.

HAYES: When I listened to the call, and I read the transcript and went back through it, I mean, I kept having the thought of if this is not criminal in some sense, then what could possibly be? I mean, nothing is more fundamental, right, to a democracy is the people choose their leaders, and the leaders don't get a vote a veto if they get turfed out. Like, that's basically the -- like the one-sentence Twitter version of what a functioning democracy looks like.

And if you're trying to subvert that, it seems to me that you're doing something criminal in some profound sense whether or not you violate federal statute.

BROMWICH: Well, you're certainly doing something morally wrong and contemptible. And I do think his conduct in the call does make out a series of federal crimes. And so, I'm glad that Congressman Lieu and his colleague have referred the matter to the FBI for investigation. And if they take this on, which I think they clearly should, they shouldn't stop at the phone call. They should extend their investigation to other things he's done with respect to officials in Georgia, and public officials in all of the other states that he's contesting.

We would be naive beyond belief, if we thought this was the only time that he tried to pressure state officials, whether they are Secretaries of State or attorneys general or state legislators. And we have to believe knowing what the kinds of things he's done in the past that he would stop at nothing, including promises to them future benefits that would flow from him to them.

So, I think it's very important that we have an investigation and that it'd be broad-based. And that would involve talking to a wide array of elected officials in all of the contested states.

HAYES: It's a really important point. The only reason we have this documentary evidence is kind of protection from the Secretary of State's office. In fact, they said as much that, you know, Lindsey Graham had essentially solicited a similar kind of thing, can you throw out votes. To protect themselves and protect the characterization of the call, they recorded it.

We know he's had conversations with other people in other states. And there's a point in this conversation where he says, we think we're going to be able to flip other states, right. He knows that. So, there's already an arrow being drawn by the President himself to similar kind of conspiratorial conversations.

BROMWICH: That's exactly right.

HAYES: You have a lot of experience as a government lawyer in trying to sort of hold power to account. And I just wonder like, where -- what -- is there any analog in your career for what this is? I keep trying to search for the right word or the right characterization, or some comparative touchstone in some other country or something in our own history, or maybe something that happened at a city level at a very corrupt city machine or county machine or state. Have you ever been amidst something like this?

BROMWICH: The short answer is no. I've never seen corruption on this scale on any level where you have, in this case, the chief executive the country engaging in all manners of illegal activity to accomplish his goals, in this case, winning the presidential election. I think I lived through Watergate. I was in college at the time. And I think Nixon was a piker compared to Donald Trump.

What he did was awful. He deserved to leave office. But if you compare just phone call, some of the Watergate tapes with this phone call, there's no comparison. And if you look at the full range of conduct that Richard Nixon engaged in, it doesn't hold a candle to what Donald Trump has engaged in.

So, no, I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. I'm not aware of anything like it in our history. And I haven't heard anybody suggest anything that is any worse than what we're seeing now.

HAYES: Michael Bromwich, thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us tonight.

BROMWICH: You're welcome. Good night.

HAYES: For more on the unfolding assault on democracy, Hayes Brown is a writer and editor for MSNBC Daily, Michelle Goldberg, opinion columnist for the New York Times, whose latest piece is titled To Defend Democracy, Investigate Trump, which I heartily agree with.

And on that note, Michelle, I mean, look, as with everything, right, this was true of, you know, Russia, if you're listening, when he said that in the microphone. It was true of Hunter Biden when the call becomes public and he just says on the microphone, like, yes, you should -- you know, he's been doing this in front of us.

But one thing that I think is an important detail here is it's not an act and it's not performance. I mean, to the extent that anyone had reported that this was for the benefit of his followers to show he's fighting, he is trying to stay in office past January 20.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. I mean, he's kind of trying to solicit or extort or whatever word you want to use, criminal conduct. And I think all the arguments for not investigating and not prosecuting Donald Trump on their own makes sense, right? It makes the argument that you can impeach him or that there's no point in impeaching him less than three weeks before the end of his term.

The argument that Joe Biden's A.G. is going to want to move on, you know, that the Congress and the President are going to have their hands full repairing the unbelievable damage that Donald Trump is leaving in his wake. All this -- all of these arguments that there's arguments that prosecutors might have a hard time making a case precisely because -- I think I call it in my piece, there's almost this psychopath defense that Donald Trump is not capable of telling right from wrong. And so, he's not capable of understanding that the things he's saying are not true and that the arguments that he's making -- and that he's not capable of lying, because he's not capable of understanding that he's lying.

All these things make sense individually. But if you -- at some point, if you don't punish cheating, you encourage more of it, right? I mean, the Republicans, I think, used to understand this when it comes to petty crime. But we need a broken windows theory of creeping authoritarianism, that if you just let this go over and over and over again, especially when you have a party that kind of use democratic -- all democratic victories as suspect illegitimate, you're encouraging this kind of behavior.

And eventually, you go -- eventually, you devolve from an imperfect democracy towards what political scientists call competitive authoritarianism, which is you have -- you know, you have elections, you have the appearance of a democracy, but the underlying system is so tilted that real competition becomes impossible and one party's power just becomes more and more entrenched.

HAYES: You know, one upside here, and I'm searching for silver linings at an impossibly bleak moment, but hey -- is that I do -- I do think it's the case that there has been a theory and an approach by many Republicans have waiting him out, right? Just like let him talk himself out the way you would with, you know, a child having a tantrum, right?

And there was this infamous quote from an anonymous source in the Washington Post back in November 9th. What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time? No one seriously thinks the results will change. That's one senior Republican official. Trump is going to force a reckoning and a recording one way or the other, which side are you on. And I think that's actually an important thing for the Republican Party to have be called on.

HAYES BROWN, MSNBC DAILY WRITER AND EDITOR: I agree with that. But here's the problem with that. The Republican Party thinks a lot of its members and of its base are stupid. They think that their party can't really look into what's going on with Donald Trump and what he's actually trying to do and what the actual situation is.

And the fact that they in Congress cannot overturn the Electoral College, that's something they just can't do. But we have people like Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, who are smart men. They know better. But they are banking on the fact that the people whose votes they count on don't understand how the government works.

They're banking on the idea that, yes, sure they're going to call for this vote and they're going to be recorded as being in support of Donald Trump, period. And that's all that's going to really matter in the historical context. They're really hoping that's the case.

Now, I'm with you, Chris, in that I really am like, fingers crossed, that something actually happens from this, like historical record that we're going to get from them. But they are really laying it all on the line and saying, look, we want our voters to know we backed Trump even though we can't actually do this thing we say we're going to do.

HAYES: Well, and that's what -- you know, what's fascinating about the phone call and Gabriel Sterling's performance today, Michelle, where he did that sort of point by point refutation is that in Trump's phone call, there is a fusing, right, of sort of the self-serving will to power and actual like, what you would describe a psychotic delusion, right?

I mean, it's unclear where one begins, and when one ends. Like, do they really believe this? Do Trump's people really believe this? Does Trump or do they think that no power other than theirs is a legitimate? It's kind of both. What Trump talks about how they move the inside of the Dominion machine, and you could hear the person on the other line being like is this -- is this guy nuts?

And Sterling today responding to it, but it's like, at some level doesn't matter whether they believe it or not. What they believe is that there is no legitimate power other than them.

GOLDBERG: Right. There was a certain pathos, I think, in Sterling trying to really use these -- you know, as if he could go down point by point and make people see that the things that Donald Trump are saying, you know, kind of make no sense and are delusional, right? As if you could -- as if you can kind of counter this sort of authoritarian miasma with fact-checking.

And you just can't because I think the -- something that's fundamental to Trumpism, but not only to Trumpism, to many different kinds of authoritarianism, is that truth is what the leader says it is.

HAYES: And I think that there's -- that's why -- I mean, this point about accountability, Hayes, about what -- and Michelle -- the point of Michelle's column, right, like whether it's prosecution, I don't know. But again, there has to be some -- and this is true of COVID as well, there has to be some collective, comprehensive documenting of what has happened, what has transpired both in front of us and behind the scenes before anyone talks about moving on.

BROWN: No, I completely agree with that, especially considering the fact that we've tried that route before throughout Trump's presidency. We've tried oh, well, that's behind us. Let's move on now. We saw that with the impeachment saga. The only difference between Trump's call to Zelensky and --- President Zelensky in Ukraine and his call to Raffensperger is his leverage. It's the stakes that he has to lever -- leverage over them, right.


BROWN: That's it. That's all it is. If he -- if Georgia needed Trump to give them defends against Russia, then that would be different. We might be having an entirely different conversation. But because, you know, we have a system that thankfully so far has held him back, that's the only difference.

So, when the Senate said no, it's fine. Your call was perfect. We're going to let you go on being President Donald Trump, they were giving him the green light to do exactly what we've seen here and what the House prosecutors basically said what happened.

HAYES: It is a worse version of the Zelensky call with in some ways higher stakes happening domestically to disenfranchise American voters. Hayes Brown and Michelle Goldberg, thank you both.

Ahead, the Republican senators lining up to support the President's attempts to subvert the election. The sedition caucus after this. And later, my interview with Dr. Fauci about how to ride the ship on the vaccine rollout. He joins me live so do not go anywhere.


HAYES: Tonight, a growing number of Republicans joining the sedition caucus, the group of senators, Congresspeople more loyalty to Donald Trump than to American democracy. For instance, Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler who is the latest to announce she will object to the Electoral College vote when Congress meets on Wednesday for the formal count, joining at least 12 of her Senate colleagues.

At least 32 Republican members of the House have also said they will object. The vast majority of these lawmakers announced their intentions before we learned of new smoking-gun evidence against the president, his extraordinary phone call to Georgia Secretary of State pressuring him to overturn the election in Trump's favor.

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia will be at that joint session of Congress on Wednesday and he joins me now. What is your reaction to watching individuals you serve with and in a body together presumably devoted to some basic principles that people choose their leaders, not the other way around, sign on to this effort?

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): Well, Chris, it's really disturbing that President Trump would try to overthrow the result because he's lost. And he's desperate isn't a surprise. But I am surprised and really shocked by these colleagues. They're supporting something that's dangerous, an attempt to overthrow the government. They're supporting something that's discriminatory, disenfranchising voters. They're supporting something that's spineless.

Most of them challenging other states votes when they know they won't be accountable to those states voters. They're doing something that's hypocritical during the impeachment. Most of these folks said, well, we want to impeach because we want to let the people decide in a few months. Now, the people have decided, they don't like what they've decided.

So, I'm shocked that these folks are willing to, you know, suck up to a would-be authoritarian to try to impress him, or more importantly, his followers. It's very discouraging.

HAYES: I don't -- I don't think the most important thing here is the mental states and interior life of the individuals who have chosen to sign on to this. But just for a moment, I feel like the explanation you hear is that this is just sort of pure political cowardice. It's chasing the mob as it were, right.

But it also strikes me that like, maybe a lot of them don't actually believe in democracy. Like, they don't actually -- they think that it's not legitimate for a Democrat to be president, that there's one legitimate source of power, which is a center-right Republican Party, and that all other sources of power are illegitimate. And they would prefer a country that lived under a durable Republican Party rule to a democracy in which power was traded.

KAINE: You know, I'm not even sure it's about Republican rule. It's just rule by people like us. It's tribalism. I think one of the incoming senators from Kansas said, you know, my Kansas voters feel disenfranchised. I hate it when people appropriate that term what disenfranchisement was, when we made it illegal for people of color to vote.

HAYES: Right.

KAINES: Now, that was disenfranchisement. Disenfranchisement isn't that you get outvoted up all the other states that you -- in the national popular vote, you lose by seven or eight million votes. That just means you pick the loser. You pick the wrong guy. That they're taking on themselves this kind of victim mentality because they just feel like America should be governed by people like them. And when there's going to be this big, diverse electorate that might produce a leader unlike them, it makes them feel like, wow, we've been wronged when they haven't been wronged at all. That's what democracy is.

HAYES: It's a very good point about disenfranchisement. I should note, Ben Sasse has been sort of, you know, calling out his colleagues for this, Tom Cotton, interestingly. This is an amazing -- I want you to respond to this. Basically, his argument and the argument of Representative Massie in the House is look, guys, the Electoral College is the best thing we have going for us because we can't win popular votes. You start messing with the Electoral College, you're getting our way to win the presidency.

Cotton saying, "If Congress were to overturn the results of the Electoral College, Congress would imperil the Electoral College, heaven forbid, which gives small states like Arkansas a voice in presidential elections. Democrats could achieve their long-standing goal of eliminating the Electoral College in effect by refusing to count electoral votes in the future for Republican president-elect." Basically, we have to save this anti-democratic system and you guys are blowing it up.

KAINE: Well, Chris, that's a fantastic argument because really what these guys are doing is attacking the Electoral College. They don't like the electoral college. And what they're proposing instead, is this super elitist argument, if we don't like the way you voted, Congress will decide.

Well, Democrats will say, you know, we don't like the Electoral College either. But rather than the elitist argument of letting Congress decide, why not let the national popular vote decide. Well, let's agree with you there should be a reform. You want 535 people to decide, we want 300 plus million people decide. Who's the (AUDIO GAP).

HAYES: Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia who will be there on Wednesday, which is going to be a very, very strange day in this nation's history. We'll be covering it closely. Thank you so much.

KAINE: Absolutely.

HAYES: Coming up, election eve in Georgia with a record-breaking three million ballots already cast, the most expensive race probably in history. Whether it's enough for Democrats to flip the Senate, after this.



TRUMP: The people of Georgia are angry. The people of the country are angry. And there's nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that you've recalculated.

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, SECRETARY OF STATE, GEORGIA: Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.


HAYES: A day after President Trump was caught on tape trying to get Georgia Secretary of State to just overturn the presidential election, recalculate to put Trump ahead by one vote, Trump is in Georgia tonight holding a rally for tomorrow senate runoff election. President-elect Biden was also in the state today as control of the Senate is at stake.

By all accounts, it is going to be a very close race in Georgia. Early voting once again a huge factor. More than three million ballots have already been cast shattering the state's record for runoff election. Someone who knows what it takes to turnout voters is Nse Ufot who's the executive director, CEO of the New Georgia Project, a nonpartisan group that works to register and engage voters in Georgia, particularly young voters and voters of color. And she joins me now.

It's great to have you on the program. I guess first, what had the last few weeks been like? How do you see this right now in this very strange, very high stakes situation with all eyes on your state?

NSE UFOT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CEO, THE NEW GEORGIA PROJECT: So, the last two weeks have been a lot of conversations on the doors. We just knocked on our two millionth door. We've made five million phone calls, three million text messages, sent out tons of postcards, tons of mail. And you know, it's in the middle of a pandemic and over the holiday season.

So, the President is right. I will concede this point that Georgians aren't angry. But it's -- they're angry because we have a president that has told us to drink bleach. We've had a governor that has lied about what he knew about COVID-19 despite the fact that everyone knows that the governor's mansion is three miles away from the CDC headquarters. We have a secretary of state that has cut the number of early voting days, that has cut the number of early voting locations, that has cut the number of drop boxes, and that has sent out a notice that he plans to prosecute organizations like ours who want to provide water and pizza and hand warmers to voters who have to wait in long lines.

And so, he's absolutely right Georgians are angry. And that -- but there's been some energy over the past two weeks, quite frankly, over the past two months. There is clarity now about how important the vote is, how important black voters are, how important young voters are to the outcome of Georgia's elections.

There's clarity now that we are a legitimate, proper battleground state where every party every candidate has to fight for every vote, are foregone conclusions about who's going to win based off of historical turnout numbers.

HAYES: Yes, it's a such an important point. I mean, this is a wake-up call for all concerned. I want to -- the polling has this race very close. And I think the assumption has been like, we don't know, polls are all over the place. But if you look at Georgia, it's going to be close. I mean, everything points to it being close. It was close last time around. It was close in the presidential.

You just mentioned the Secretary of State. I do want to ask you about him. I mean obviously, he has gotten, I think, justified plaudits for standing up to the President's corrupt attempt to essentially overturn the election. But you just listed a bunch of things -- you just listed a bunch of things that he has done vis-a-vis your organization and including warnings about prosecution for handing out bottles of water and closing early voting. Do you think -- what do you think of his administration of this run off thus far?

UFOT: Listen, what I think is that we are going to have to make sure that there's overwhelming participation in our elections to ensure that the will of the people is reflected. The tape as well, I haven't listened to the full one-hour tape. We've been a little busy. Forgive me. I heard the five-minute clip. And, you know, I also read that the Secretary of State had no intentions of releasing the audio from the phone call unless he was attacked by the President, right.

And so, you know, in his self-interest, he released this tape to the public. And so, what I will say is that we are going to continue to chop wood and carry water and, again, make sure that we have overwhelming turnout, so that there is no doubt what the will of the people is.

HAYES: Nse Ufot who is there in Georgia with the New Georgia Project which has been doing a lot of work for a very long time, now squarely in the spotlight of the nation's politics. Thanks so much for making time tonight.

UFOT: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, Dr. Anthony Fauci is here to explain why the vaccine rollout is going slower than expected and what it will take to return to some semblance of normalcy. Please, God. You don't want to miss it.


HAYES: 20 million is the number looming over America's Coronavirus crisis tonight. Over the weekend, we surpassed that number of confirmed COVID cases in this country. 20 million is also the number the Trump administration set as a benchmark for vaccinations by the end of 2020. And we are short of that by a lot.

Remember, at the start of December, Operation Warp Speed announced it would distribute enough vaccine to immunize 20 million people by January 1st. As of this morning, four days into the New Year, only around 4.5 million have received their first dose according to the CDC.

As long lines form with the relatively few doses available, we're seeing a similar dynamic to what we saw with testing, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic. The President once again just blaming the states, kicking them with responsibilities that the federal government has no role to play in actually solving the problem and getting shots into arms.

But there's no time to waste. The case numbers are spiking. A record 278,000 new cases on Saturday alone, and now we've got a more contagious strain of virus taking hold in the U.S., a strain that prompted the British Prime Minister today to impose a new national lockdown in England. In other words, we have to get our act together very, very fast.

I'm going to talk to the person that many Americans trust above anyone else for the truth about where we are and what we have to do. Dr. Anthony Fauci joins me right after this.


HAYES: We begin this year with a race, a race between the new more contagious strain of the Coronavirus first identified in the U.K., and the vaccine, the multiple vaccines that have been approved for use. Right now, we are losing that race.

With me now, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has an -- a lot of ways over the last several months felt like the nation's conscience on this virus. And it's always a pleasure to have you, Dr. Fauci.

Maybe let's start with vaccination. We are behind. We are -- there are other countries doing a worse job than us, I should stipulate, but a place like Israel doing a much better job. Why are -- why is it going so slowly? What's going wrong?

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, actually, we don't know really precisely why, Chris, if you look at the allocation versus what's shipped, what's distributed. But the bottom line is what's getting into people's arms.

So, we were supposed to get 20 million doses that were distributed. We have about 14 million of those, so we're a little bit short on that. Hopefully, we'll catch up with that in the next few days. But the real question is we have about four-plus million in the arms of people. We've got to get that up. We've got to get the pace up. We're not where we want to be. There's no doubt about it. No excuses.

Hopefully, that is a reflection of trying to start a very big program that is complicated as well as having done right in the middle of a holiday season where you don't have all the cylinders going at the same time. I think we should wait and take a look at the next week or so. If we get back on pace, good. If not, we got to start looking at what the reason for that is and how we're going to correct it.

HAYES: There seems -- so, there seems like two different things happening here. So, what I want to focus on is in those sort of the first tier, right. So, we have the prioritization, you know, issued by the CDC, and I think that the first tier made a lot of sense, health care workers and then folks that work in long term care facilities, including people that live there.

FAUCI: Right.

HAYES: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, said that 60 percent of nursing home workers declined the vaccine. And I've heard similar -- somewhat similar things from some other people I'm in regular contact with reporting. I guess what -- the first question is, are we seeing a lack of shots in arms among that first tier because of just voluntary refusal for people to take the vaccine? Do we know that?

FAUCI: We don't know it for sure, Chris, but I don't think so. I mean, there are -- there is vaccine hesitancy and people who are turning it down. But I think just the logistics of getting it going into the people who want it is really the issue. I don't think we can blame it all on vaccine hesitancy. I think that might explain a part of it, but that can't be the excuse for it.

We've got to do better in just logistically and mechanically getting it going to get into people's arms. That's where the lesion is. We've got to correct that.

HAYES: Then there's a sort of policy question, right, which is, you know, it seems increasingly I'm seeing people say this, and I think -- I'm wondering if you would agree, right? More shots in arms faster in the wrong order is better than fewer shots in arms in the right order, which is to say, prioritization is important, but prioritization shouldn't be an obstacle to getting people vaccinated, which is ultimately what we have to do.

And I wonder if you think if that's part of the logjam here, which is too much focus on the right order and not enough focus on just come get a vaccine.

FAUCI: You make a good point. If you can't get it into the arms of people who are in the high priority, go to the next group. And that's what people are doing. The one thing you don't want, Chris, is you don't want the vaccine sitting in a refrigerator or sitting on a shelf. You've got to get it into people.

I believe if we do it correctly, we can get it into people in the priority that's been designated by the CDC and their Advisory Committee. But you're absolutely right. If you don't get it well that way, then go to the next best.

HAYES: What is the role of national coordination here? I mean, it does seem to me like the way -- the division of labor here has been that the federal government ships, and the federal government comes up with these prioritizations, you know, through the advisory committee of the CDC, and then it sends them to the states and the states have to distribute.

And I guess one question is, is that sufficient? Do we need something a more coordinated federal response? Is that something you've talked to the incoming Biden administration about, for instance?

FAUCI: Yes, we have. We are talking about that. I'm having more of a liaison and a link between the federal effort, the federal plan, the federal resources that go to the state. The feds can't do it alone, Chris. No way.

HAYES: No, yes.

FAUCI: But sometimes, when you leave the states on their own, they really do need help. They need some more guidance. They need more resources.

HAYES: What is your anticipation of weather and how things change in 16 days and what the benchmarks will be for whether we are trending in the right direction or not?

FAUCI: Well, I think the issue that's on everybody's mind is the efficiency and the effectiveness of getting the vaccine rolled out. President-Elect Biden has made it very clear. His goal is at least 100 million doses in the first 100 days, namely, a million doses a day. We can do that, Chris. I mean, this is something that's doable.

We've had, historically, things that we've done in the past, as far back as 1947, we had a big full-court press on getting people vaccinated for smallpox in New York City. It can be done. You get everything in the right place, everybody cooperating, everybody collaborating, and we could do it. That's the main issue that we want to get done in those first 100 days.

HAYES: Yes. The '47 example, I forget the numbers, but it's remarkable to look back and look at 1947 polio vaccination in New York.

FAUCI: We -- yes, smallpox, Chris. We vaccinated 6,350,000 people in two weeks in one city.


FAUCI: In one City, New York City. I was one of the people who is a six-year-old boy who got vaccinated back then. And they did it. So, if we can do it that way, we can do it now.

HAYES: The last time that I had you on this program, I asked you, you know, when normal would return, particularly of a particular importance to me playing pickup basketball, the members of my game are watching right now for this. You, a basketball player for Regis High School yourself, had said that the third quarter of this year, 2021, and definitely into the fourth, you could play pick-up basketball, you know, sweating in each other's faces, right, the high sort of risk activity. Is that still how you're thinking of the timeline?

FAUCI: The answer, Chris, is yes. If we get the people vaccinated who can and should be vaccinated. I've said that in order to get what I would consider a good herd immunity; we don't know exactly the number but it's somewhere in the range between 70 and 85 percent of the people vaccinated. If we put the kind of pressure on the way we're talking now, getting that one million people per day vaccinated, by the time we get to the middle and end of the summer, we can have that veil, that envelope, that umbrella of herd immunity that could protect us. And then you and I can get out on the court and play some pickup basketball because they'll be level of virus will be so low in the community that it won't pose a risk to us.

HAYES: Final question for you. How worried are you about this new strain? The U.K. announcing they're shutting down today. There's some data suggesting it is considerably more transmissible. How serious should we take this?

FAUCI: We take it quite seriously, Chris, whenever you get a mutation that looks like it has a functional correlate. Most mutations on RNA viruses are meaningless. It doesn't have any effect on a function. This one appears to make the virus much more easily transmissible. Once it becomes more easily transmissible, you're going to get more cases. And when you get more cases, you're going to get more hospitalizations, and more deaths.

So, you know that numbers now. It's bad enough with what we're going through now. We don't need to get it worse. So, the answer to your question, Chris, we take it quite seriously.

HAYES: Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of Regis High School's greatest products, New York City's greatest products. Thank you, Dr. Fauci. I appreciate it.

FAUCI: Thank you, Chris. Good to be with you.

HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Monday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.


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