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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, November 17, 2020

Guests: Jocelyn Benson, Stuart Stevens, Mark Aronchick, Sherrod Brown, Sarah Jones


GOP members of Wayne County, Michigan Board of Canvassers refuse to certify election results. Rudy Giuliani pushes election conspiracy theories in his first federal court appearance in nearly 30 years. Republican Governors reverse course and calls for mask-wearing. Sen. Sherrod Brown was attacked after asking a Senate colleague to wear a mask. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is interviewed about his confrontation with Sen. Dan Sullivan. Coronavirus cases are spiking across most of the United States.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Yes, indeed. Julian Castro, thank you so much. I appreciate you. That is tonight's REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN. Republicans moved to undermine democracy in Michigan, as the President fires the top security official who vouch for the 2020 election.

Tonight, the Michigan Secretary of State on the Republican push to deny Joe Biden his victory and with the firing of Chris Krebs means for us all. Then --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is the Senator from South Carolina calling the Secretary of State in Georgia anyway?

HAYES: Donald Trump's man in the Senate is caught in the act. Tonight, Lindsey Graham's election interference maelstrom, and alert the networks.

RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: Oh, my goodness, all the networks. Wow.

HAYES: Rudy Giuliani's landscaping roadshow into court. The lawyer who argued against him joins me live but ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: (on camera): Good evening from New York. I'm Chris Hayes. Breaking News Tonight out of Michigan where two Republican members of the four-person Board of Canvassers in Wayne County, Michigan, were tasked with certifying the results the election have decided not to do that, citing virtually no evidence of preposterously bad faith move.

Now, Wayne County, of course, the most populous county in the state. It encompasses Detroit and went for Joe Biden by over 320,000 votes. And the Republican Chair of the Board, Monica Palmer is her name, says that she would be open to certifying the vote in communities other than Detroit.

Interesting, communities other than Detroit, I wonder what she's getting at. Local reporter Nancy Kaffer calls the move unprecedented in her 20 years of covering government in Detroit. The Democratic vice chairman of the board called the decision by the Republican members "reckless and irresponsible."

The Michigan Republican Party appear to be prepared for the turn of events, immediately coming out with a statement from the state chair, which reads in part, "I am proud that due to the efforts of the Michigan Republican Party, the Republican National Committee, and the Trump campaign, enough evidence of irregularities and potential voter fraud was uncovered resulting in the Wayne County Board of canvassers refusing to certify their election results."

Now, this certainly appears to be a flagrant attempt by Republicans to just openly steal an election that Joe Biden won by 148,000 votes statewide in Michigan. Joining me now is Michigan's Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. It's great to have you on. I guess the first question is -- just talk me through like, how often -- does this ever happen? How unprecedented or weird or anomalous is it for this small board to -- for the Republican Commissioner to say no, we're not certifying.

JOCELYN BENSON, SECRETARY OF STATE OF MICHIGAN: Well, notably, it's extremely rare. I mean, this is a board that performs a ministerial function of certifying the results they have in every election and years pass, even just this past August certified results, even with significant greater clerical errors.

And so, you know, it really is disheartening when you consider obviously, that this is a majority-black city, the largest jurisdiction in the state of Michigan. And here are two individuals going far beyond their role to invalidate the votes of tens of thousands of African-Americans in the state of Michigan.

HAYES: I just want to be clear here that the two individuals here, William Hartmann, who's a member of that board of canvassers, Monica Palmer, those the two individuals there who are basically saying, no, we will not sign off on this free and fair election in this state.

It's not just them. I mean, this is the Michigan Republican chair Laura Cox, saying, "I am proud that due to the efforts of the Michigan GOP the RNC under the leadership of Ronna McDaniel, enough evidence of irregularities and potential voter fraud was uncovered resulting in the Wayne County Board of canvassers refusing to certify the election results. This seems to be a top to bottom coordinated effort by the Republican state party in your state.

BENSON: Yes, not only that, it's not true. And there were not irregularities or any indication of fraud that was discussed today. It was instead clerical errors that will now go to the Bureau of Elections which falls under my office to fully address and we will. But this isn't -- there's no indication that any votes were wrongly tabulator or that any invalid votes existed or tabulated.

I mean, this is really just a clerical issue that will be resolved by the state and nothing more than an attempt to misuse these roles to play partisan politics and cause confusion, which again, is kind of, you know, the norm that we've seen throughout this election.

HAYES: So, what happens now? There's an impasse. It's a two to two board, a bipartisan board. They have to agree. What's the next step here?

BENSON: The next step is the State Board of Canvassers will typically in their meeting tomorrow morning, give the board Bureau of elections the responsibility of completing the canvass. Basically, looking into those clerical errors which are essentially issues of voters showing up or are not voting or spoiling a ballot, just basic things that have happened in communities all across the state, and cleaning those up, addressing them, finding explanations, and then submitting it to the State Board for a full certification.

So, we're still full steam ahead with the certification of the votes in Michigan. We're certainly not going to allow any blatant partisan attempts to disenfranchise African American voters to stand in the way of that. And my office, I and the Bureau of Elections is committed to ensuring continuously that the votes are counted, that every valid vote is counted, and that voices are heard of every -- in every community throughout the state.

HAYES: In terms of the state board, is it the same makeup as these -- as these county boards, sort of, you know, two on two bipartisan boards?

BENSON: It is. Two Republicans and two Democrats who we hope and expect will do the right thing that they always have done and the responsibility that they have, which is to turn this canvas over to the bureau of elections, and they will then complete the canvas and then resubmit the results. They have 10 days to do so with verification of all the votes to the State Board of Canvassers.

And as we've said around -- across the board throughout this whole process, this additional scrutiny is only going to reveal what we already know is the truth here in Michigan. There are no irregularities. There is no widespread fraud. And we're committed to making sure that the votes of the people of Michigan and the results that are accurate as a reflection of the will of the people will continue to carry the day through the final certification of these results.

HAYES: Did this take you by surprise?

BENSON: I was very disappointed. But sadly, given the partisan rancor, I was not surprised. We have seen multiple attempts to try to disenfranchise and undermine the will of our voters throughout this entire election cycle, particularly after the election. Since the American people have spoken, we still see these attempts to misinform or confuse citizens about the validity of the results.

So, this is simply an extension of that and move in the other side's playbook to undermine the will of the people. But we're not going to stand for it. We're going to ensure that every valid vote will count, and that the certification of our results will be an official reflection of the will of the people.

HAYES: I want to play just from a Zoom hearing with these county canvassing board. Ned Staebler is the Vice President for Economic Development at Wayne State University, who was not so happy with what these two individuals, Mr. Hartmann and Miss Palmer did and kind of read them the Riot Act. Take a listen.


NED STAEBLER, VICE PRESIDENT FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY: I just want to let you know that the Trump stick, this game of racism that you William Hartmann and Monica Palmer have just covered yourself in is going to follow you throughout history. Your grandchildren are going to think of you like Bull Connor or George Wallace.

Monica Palmer and William Hartmann will forever be known in southeastern Michigan as to racists who did something so unprecedented that they disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Black voters in the city of Detroit because they were ordered to -- probably, I know Monica, you think Q told you to do it or some other crazy stuff like that.

But just know, when you try to sleep tonight, that millions of people around the world now on Twitter know the name Monica Palmer and William Hartmann as two people completely racist and without an understanding of what integrity means or a shred of human decency. The law isn't on your side, history won't be on your side, your conscience will not be on your side. And Lord knows, when you go to meet your maker, your soul is going to be very, very warm.


HAYES: So, Wayne County resident upset with this turn of events and whether the intent here by those commissioners is, as he says, independent of that, I guess what I would say here is and ask you is this is going on all over the state and you're not getting this in a lot of other places, right. I mean, this was an extraordinary action by these two individuals.

You got bipartisan boards, you've got counties that are swing counties, you got Republicans all over the state of Michigan. Obviously, it's a swing state. This was a distinct action.

BENSON: It was. And it was also stark at the fact that, you know, the city of Livonia, which is a counter to -- next to Detroit, but has a very different population, predominantly white city was caught out in the hearing is having more clerical errors and more stark clerical errors than the city of Detroit, yet did not raise the same ire and focus from the members of the canvassers who voted the way they did.

So, I think, what gives me hope and is the people have spoken, the votes are clear, and truth is on our side. And we're going to continue to ensure that the voice of the people are heard, those votes are validly counted and reflected in the full certification of the state's results. And I fully expect at the state level that any of the injustices we've seen today will be rectified as we continue to shed light on the truth and the facts, which is again, there are no irregularities, there is no widespread fraud, and the results of Michigan's elections are indeed an accurate reflection of the wealth of people and should be respected.

HAYES: All right, Jocelyn Benson who serves as the Secretary of State in the State of Michigan, thank you for coming on in a short notice tonight to talk about this. I appreciate it.

BENSON: My pleasure. Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: So, what's going on in Wayne County, of course, just one part of a broad effort across the country, enabled facilitated push by the President on Twitter and in real life and in the courts that we're continuing to learn about, the extent of the efforts of the President and the people that will carry his water, as it were, to overturn a democratic election in the United States.

It sounds extreme, but that's kind of what they're trying to do. I mean, you've got the president, his supporters, and Senator Lindsey Graham, chair of the Judiciary Committee. Yesterday, you might remember, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told The Washington Post he had a conversation with the senator on Friday in which Graham appeared to suggest you find a way to toss legally cast ballots. And to the Secretary of State's credit, that suggestion was a non-starter.

And in an additional reporting for the Wall Street Journal revealed the Graham actually called twice, and Secretary Raffensperger had staffers with him on the second call, and they all agreed not to act on any Graham suggestions. This morning, Raffensperger describe disengaging from the conversation the way you might with a crazy uncle or someone trying to recruit you into criminal conspiracy.


BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, SECRETARY OF STATE OF GEORGIA: I really just got off the call. And I said I would circle back. And I talked to counsel and I get back to him. And we just decide the best action was not to, you know, get back and reengage. I thought we were talking -- going to be just he probably asking what's the status of the Senator races to runoffs. When I went down this other path, I think the best thing was just to disengage and, you know, move forward.


HAYES: With me now, Stuart Stevens, Senior Advisor at the Lincoln Project, author of the book, It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump, and as example of your thesis that what we're seeing unfurling before us.

I mean, you've got these two -- I don't -- these two individuals, Mr. Hartmann, Miss Palmer, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, I don't know them at all. I don't know (INAUDIBLE), just normal local Republican functionaries. There are thousands like them across the country, taking this extraordinarily authoritarian, anti-democratic step.

Lindsey Graham calling around to find out if maybe we could throw out some ballots. This is -- how do you make sense of what you're seeing?

STUART STEVENS, SENIOR ADVISOR, THE LINCOLN PROJECT: Look, I think we should call it what it is. It's sedition. It's an attempt to undermine the democratic process of the United States of America. Of course, it's tinged with racism because overwhelmingly African Americans didn't support Donald Trump, so they want to throw out those votes. It is like Bull Connor.

But it's even worse than that because the entire Republican Party almost, with the exception of just a few people at the top, refused to admit who won the presidency of the United States in a race that was not particularly close.

Now, I really don't know what base level of democratic responsibility you have. You took an oath of office and you're unwilling to say who won an election. It's extraordinary. I doubt this -- it's really unbelievable. Nothing like this has ever happened before. It's extraordinarily cowardly. And it's fundamentally destructive to the process because a lot of people believe these people.

HAYES: Yes, what's striking to me here is that, you know, we talk a lot about norms in the Trump era, to the point where the word gets sort of chewed out and it doesn't have any taste, like what it means. But to me, when you look at these County Board of Canvassers, right, the ones that are doing what these two individuals in Wayne County did, or you look at Raffensperger, like, it is the case that fundamentally this whole thing does basically go on with people acting with integrity and under norms and traditions to not try to subvert democratic elections en mass in a coordinated fashion. And by and large, most Republicans have been doing that. It's the -- it's these ones at the top who are promoting it, who are in some ways, the outliers, but also the most dangerous.

STEVENS: But look, I think that's the history of how these democracies unravel. You know, what happens in Germany? It's at the top. And it's responsibility that they have to be democratic supporting citizens before they are Republicans. And look, I know a lot of these people and it just baffles me, Chris. These are not bad people.

I mean, if they live next door here, they'd be great neighbors. If they saw you stranded on the road, they'd stop. And yet they don't seem to grasp what they're doing.


STEVENS: The trust of government is the thread that holds society, civil society together. And they are just taking a machete to it and seem to have no qualms about it.

HAYES: We got news just before I came on the show, there's an individual by the name of Chris Krebs who runs Cybersecurity for the United States government and had to his -- again, I think similar to Raffensperger, right, to his credit, been active publicly saying there was no systematic fraud. This election was safe and secure. It was a free and fair election. It was administered, you know, without these conspiracy theories knocking them down tonight.

The President fired him on Twitter precisely because of that. He said the recent statement by Chris Krebs on security 2020 election was highly inaccurate. Therefore, effective immediately, he has been terminated as Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. They're seeding a conspiracy theory that will last for a very long time.

Stevens: Yes. I mean, I say before the election, if Donald Trump, you said to him, you can win this election, but it'll be the last election we have in America. I think genuinely his response would have been, what's the catch? He doesn't care. And -- but we know that he doesn't care. And that's what the party responsibility comes in.

Because if Donald Trump wasn't elected, all these Republicans weren't elected. And look, Democrats can press this. Democrats can refuse to see Republicans who are elected to the House. Democrats can refuse to allocate the money to fund Donald Trump post presidency. They can play these games, but it's extraordinarily destructive.

This will pass. Donald Trump is not going to be the next president of the United States. But this lingering sort of toxic chemical that's released in our system, it's very, very hard to undo.

HAYES: Stuart Stevens, whose book It Was All Lies, really excellent. I recommend it. Thank you so much for making some time. Up next, the Trump campaign sends their top guy, Rudy Giuliani, to court in a baseless bid to get thousands of votes thrown out. I will talk to the lawyer who argued against him after this.


HAYES: Trump campaign's dangerously malignant and cartoonishly incompetent efforts to steal the election are not over yet. Rudy Giuliani today appeared before a federal judge in Williamsport, Pennsylvania to make sweeping and baseless claims in a last-ditch effort to keep the state from certifying its election results. That's obviously what they're trying to do in state after state.

Now, it is a state that Joe Biden has won by more than 73,000 votes and on some still left count. Today's court appearance by Giuliani comes after the Trump campaign dropped their most serious allegations in the case and two different sets of lawyers quit. And then just yesterday, the campaign replaced them with Marc Scaringi. He's a lawyer and talk show host who said on the day the race was called for Joe Biden that "litigation will not work to reverse this election."

Now, the Trump campaign has put one man in charge of its election stealing efforts, the jack of all trades, the hero in the battle of the Four Seasons Total Landscaping, the star of the new Borat movie, Donald Trump's impeachment bagman, America's Mayor, you know him, you love him, The Roadster.

No matter he has argued before a federal judge in 28 years. His membership at the D.C. bars is administratively suspended for non-payment of fees. and he reportedly wants $20,000 a day for his services. That guy was arguing for the president before a federal judge today unspooling (INAUDIBLE) conspiracy theories worthy of a Newsmax interview.

I'm joined now by the attorney who argued against Rudy Giuliani in court today representing Philadelphia, Allegheny, Montgomery, and Chester counties, Mark Aronchick. Mr.Aronchick, it's good to have you on. First, I wonder if we could just start with what was the case? What was the Trump campaign asserting? What was the argument before this judge?

MARK ARONCHICK, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING COUNTIES IN TRUMP PENNSYLVANIA LAWSUIT: The Trump campaign came in through Mr. Giuliani asserting a fantasy world. It was a case that somehow involves 11 different states in a gigantic conspiracy with the biggest cities in the United States all joining into somehow manufacturer votes and change mail-in ballots and somehow throw the election to Joe Biden.

And I sat there dumbfounded because the story that was presented by Mr. Giuliani were in no relationship to the actual complaint in the case. And you know, when you're in court, you have to talk about the complaint. You have to talk about your facts. You have to talk about the law. When you're at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, I guess you can talk about anything.

There seemed to be no distinction in what I heard today. And I pointed that out very strongly to the court.

HAYES: So, again, the complaint -- I mean, it sounds like he just sort of gave a kind of Giuliani monologue about all the nefarious actors who are trying to steal the election independent from whatever the kind of legal claims they were pursuing was. But am I right that the remedy they're seeking here is to throw out all the votes in Allegheny County and in Philadelphia?

ARONCHICK: Yes. It was interesting. The remedy kept multiplying as Mr. Giuliani was talking. It started off that he was after 680,000 votes. And by the time he finished his speech, I think we were up to 1,200,000 votes and counting, I guess. It's absurd on its face. In fact, the whole presentation was absurd on its face.

But I think what was telling was that when you're in a court, and you have to sometimes explain yourself, you have to answer questions from the judges. So, the judge pressed, is this about fraud? And where is it pled that this is about fraud? And after some hemming and hawing, Mr. Giuliani basically said, no, this wasn't a complaint based on fraud. Instead, it was based on some kind of a -- all I can say is some kind of strange conspiracy idea.

But what was also telling was that his opening statement practically was that he wanted to amend the complaint again. In other words, they've already amended this complaint once and took out almost everything that they have pled initially. All sorts of propositions fell out of the case. He then said, some of that was a mistake. He wanted to put them back in. He wanted to -- he wanted to amend the complaint again. It was, you know, the proverbial moving target.

HAYES: You know, I quickly glanced at your bio. You strike me as quite an accomplished advocate yourself and, you know, the law is adversarial. And in your line of work, you're arguing all the time. You're across from opposing counsel. You know, sometimes it's heated, sometimes it isn't. But just give us a sense of how anomalous what you saw on display was today as someone who, you know, does this for a living.

ARONCHICK: Well, what was -- what was anomalous was Mr. Giuliani coming in and arguing some other case. I mean, I don't know where this case is, I don't know where it's going to land. He said, there will be more complaints and pleadings. But he came in and argued some other case, and that you don't usually see from -- at least -- at least, I don't usually see that kind of presentation.

And so, to sit there and sort of listen to all this, and then sort of redirect the attention to what this case is actually about, and this case is actually about small ball things. There's some complaints in this case about whether Philadelphia could notify voters that had ballots that didn't have a signature, and the like, that these ballots were going to be described -- they were not going to count. They were going to be rejected.

But you have an opportunity which exists in the election code to come in on Election Day, spoil or cancel your ballot, and then vote in person. And, you know, it's sort of like, what's wrong with that? Like, what -- why is that a problem to let people know that they have a right to come in and vote in person. That just doesn't seem to be -- to be much of a problem.

And so, this kind of idea was dressed up with a lot of extraneous facts and all sorts of broad-based allegations that tried to take this issue into a larger sense of a conspiracy, and that's not right. And some of the things that Mr. Giuliani said, you know, really are deplorable. I mean, at one point, he even used the word mafia about some of the Philadelphia election workers that, you know, were involved in this kind of conspiracy.

I don't know what he meant by that word, but he got over his skis. But these are people who are solely people. These are public, you know, employees. these are people who believe in democracy. These are people who want to see elections run, right. And I represent them. And I'm not going to sit there and allow this kind of broadside attack on people who are just doing their jobs and without -- in a fact free presentation.

I promise that, you know, if you only let me amend this again, I'll show you all sorts of facts. I mean, we've heard this a lot. And so, you know, I just was not going to let that happen. This -- there is nothing that they've shown that there's fraud, there's nothing that they've shown that there's some kind of grand conspiracy here. It doesn't make sense. Nothing that they said actually makes sense.

And the challenge when you hear that, and you know, I've been through a lot of cases, is to not engage on that kind of stuff, but to bring back to the court's attention what this case is really about. And I think I was very happy with the fact that our son was able to do that.

HAYES: Mark Aronchick who was in federal court or arguing in federal court today against Rudy Giuliani on behalf of those counties in Pennsylvania, thank you for making some time with us tonight. I really appreciate it.

ARONCHICK: Hey, Chris, thanks. Take care.

HAYES: Ahead, as the pandemic just gets worse and worse, how the cynical right-wing politics are harming us all.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you turn the television, it's COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID. A plane goes down, 500 people dead, they don't talk about it. COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID. By the way, on November 4th, you won't hear about it anymore.


HAYES: You know, from the beginning of this pandemic, all the way back in in January and February, has been painfully clear that for Donald Trump and most of the Congressional Republican leadership, that COVID was primarily a political problem that had to be managed because of the election. Not a health problem, a political problem with eyes on November.

And one of the biggest giveaways of their possession -- of their position is what they projected onto their political opponents. I mean, they couldn't believe that the steps that some governors and mayors were taking to combat the virus were driven by serious concerns that COVID was deadly and needed to be combated. Instead, they suggested it was also an elaborate conspiracy to politically kneecap Donald Trump.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): If it ends up that Biden wins in November, I hope he doesn't, I don't think he will, but if he does, I guarantee you the week after the election, suddenly all those Democratic governors, all those Democratic mayors will say, everything is magically better. Go back to work, go back to school. Suddenly the problems are solved. You won't even have to wait for Biden to be sworn in.


HAYES: I guarantee you. That's a Ted Cruz guarantee. A week after the election, I guarantee you that all those Democratic governors and mayors will say the problem solved. No more COVID restrictions. They'll take them all away. It was all just to hurt Trump. Well, guess what, the election is over, and what's happening is the opposite of what Ted Cruz guaranteed.

In fact, Democrat governors like Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Kate Brown of Oregon, who impose restrictions early in the pandemic, have now imposed new restrictions amid COVID spikes in their states. That's not all. Republicans who are abandoning their pre-election positions, they're the ones who are doing that and embracing public health measures.

Governors Gary Herbert of Utah, Doug Burgum of North Dakota are now changing their tune. They're embracing masks after months of resistance. And there's Iowa Republican Governor Kim Reynolds who vowed back in July "No, I'm not going to mandate masks. I trust Iowans." Reynolds was photographed maskless at an indoor pro-Trump event in October. That's her giving a high five in a crowded mostly maskless room.

And not only did she not object to Trump holding one of his super spreader rallies in her state a few days later, she was spotted in the crowd at the rally not wearing a mask. Well, now, guess what? Iowa's hospitals are full across the state. There's barely an ICU bed to be found. If you get COVID tomorrow and you have to go to the ICU, tough luck. It's a nightmare.

And last night, Governor Kim Reynolds, who wants to disparage mask mandates as a feel-good measure, guess what she did? She issued a statewide mask mandate along with other restrictions. It's a good thing too. Much too late, but it's the opposite of what Ted Cruz said would happen. Who is really playing politics do you think?

As hospitals fill up and Americans, conservative, liberal being cut down by the virus, there are still Republicans who are treating the pandemic with the same recklessness and denial they always have. We're going to talk to Senator Sherrod Brown who was attacked by one such Republican after asking him to just put on a mask, right after this.



SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): I'd start by asking the presiding officer to please wear a mask as he speaks and people below him are -- I can't tell you what to do, but I know that the behavior --

SEN. DAN SULLIVAN (R-AK): I don't wear a mask when I'm speaking like most senators.

BROWN: Well, I most --

SULLIVAN: Senator, I don't need your instruction from --

BROWN: I know you don't need my instruction. But there clearly isn't much interest in this body in public health. We have a president who hasn't shown up at the Coronavirus Task Force meeting in months. We have a majority leader that calls us back here to vote on an unqualified nominee and at the same time to vote for judge after judge after judge exposing all the people who can't say anything, I understand. The people in front of you and the presiding officer exposed, all the staff here, and the majority leader just doesn't seem to care.


HAYES: Senator Sherrod Brown and an exchange their with Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska yesterday. Maybe you've heard, there's a lot of COVID going around the halls of the United State Congress this day, probably best to take precautions, as the senator of Ohio asked for. But there's resistance as you saw from the Senator from Alaska. And Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio joins me now.

Senator, it's -- I think today I've read a four or five members of Congress who have tested positive. The second oldest member of the Senate, Chuck Grassley, who you served with for years has tested positive. And we're wishing him well and hoping he gets a treatment. But I can't help but think that there is for all of the things that have happened, I don't know if the psychology of you people in elected office, you all think you're, you know, immortal and you can't be hurt or what it is, but it doesn't feel like it's sunk in there.

BROWN: Oh, it hasn't. And I mean, first of all, there's no -- there's -- they don't care about the essential workers that work in the Senate or the House or in the local grocery store or bus driver or the person that changes the linen in the hospitals. The essential workers are not generally paid as much. They're more likely women. I mean, the Senate staff is -- they don't seem to care.

I mean, Ted Cruz weighed in and said there's nobody within 50 feet of a senator speaking. Well, actually, there is a stenographer that stands about six feet away. And senators, like Cruz don't wear their masks when they speak and there is risk involved. And why do that? And my Republican colleagues have made a political statement out of wearing masks, something history will certainly not understand in this era.

HAYES: Yes. Senator Cruz's tweet was that it was a sort of virtue performance by you, and that there was no one there. But as you point out there -- sorry -- there was a stenographer who was right there underneath on that day that's there. There's a bunch of staffers there. What is the status of things in that Senate? I mean, your point there is look, guys, the country's on fire. What are we doing here?

BROWN: Well, McConnell calls us back only to vote on a party hack that most Republicans voted for. We defeated her today. She'll probably be back for the Federal Reserve, a Trumpster. McConnell does whatever Trump tells him. And spineless Republicans, almost all of them do whatever McConnell tells them.

We vote on judges, we're doing -- we're called back putting dozens of staff people at risk and each other but no sympathy for us from the public. I'm fine with that. But we're not doing what we ought to do. We ought to be -- we ought to bring back the $600 a week on employment. We ought to put dollars into public education and public health in local governments. We should -- we should vote support for emergency rental assistance. People are having their water and electricity shut off in a pandemic as winter approaches. We should be helping small businesses.

Instead, McConnell calls us back, again, putting staff at risk, and so many others in this city at risk that don't need to be because the Senate simply not doing its job.

HAYES: You mentioned the vote for the Fed board nominee Judy Shelton today. And I want to just take a moment on that. We've covered that on the show. I did a commentary about it the other night about how this was it, you know, in my view, an effort to sort of salt the fields in retreat, to put a person on a Federal Reserve Board with wildly crank-ish and unsound views on monetary policy.

And that's not even like that much of a crazy opinion of mine. That's just -- she just has -- she believes in the gold standard. She has all sorts of crazy views. And she was defeated today. It was sort of a victory for sanity to keep her off that Federal Reserve Board. Tell me how that came about.

BROWN: Well, she was defeated by one vote. Two Republicans joined every Democrat. Three Republicans were absent. Two of them -- or two -- I believe two of them because of COVID, one of them because the senator's wife is sick.

So, the three absences and two negative votes by Republicans joined by 47 Democrats, all of us. Senator Harris came back and voted one of the last votes in opposition to her and we defeated her. I know that McConnell lives for moments like this. McConnell once to put somebody on a -- on a board. Many of these Fed terms are as long as 14 years. This one is a bit shorter because it's filling an unexpired term.

But McConnell wants to, as you say, seed the earth with as many people as he can -- he can put in than Trump once that will cause mischief for Joe Biden. It's not exactly patriotism of the highest order, but it's what -- it's what McConnell does to show -- to give power, more power to the already powerful, to give more wealth to the already wealthy.

That's what McConnell is. That's what Trump is. That's essentially why Trump was defeated. I mean, it's his incompetence and malevolence on the virus, and his always, always, always siding with the richest and most powerful people in this country every -- at every fork in the road.

HAYES: Let me ask you -- final question about the virus and where things are. You know, you're -- you represent the state of Ohio. Governor Mike DeWine was quite aggressive in the beginning. He's now come under the -- you know, he's been targeted by the president for a primary challenge because he had the temerity to suggest that Joe Biden won the election.

But I just wonder, like, it's bad in the Midwest, cases are rising around Ohio, they're rising in Ohio. If your experience of the people that you represent in a state that is pretty divided, is more unified in how people feel about the virus, or do you feel like there's two different universes you talk to when you talk to your constituents about this wave of the virus right now?

BROWN: Well, I think there are two different universes of varying size and every state where the -- where the Republican Party position has been reject masks, protect our freedom. I guess we, you know, we stop at stop signs, we wear seatbelts, but we're not supposed to wear a mask. It's not a -- but I think that division is everywhere.

And unfortunately, how it's beginning to show up in our hospitals in my state and elsewhere is that many, many healthcare workers are coming down with COVID. Not probably from contracting it at work but contracting it because it's so widespread. And that's really the crisis that's upon us. President Trump has not, as I mentioned before, as you mentioned in the show, has not attended Coronavirus Task Force meeting in months. He never mentioned that. He does nothing about it. It's getting worse.

And President-Elect Biden is trying to address it. He's listening to the science. So are we in the Senate. But McConnell doesn't want to do anything about the virus or do anything about the economy, so the country continues to drift in the wrong direction. And it's the biggest tragedy of our times, Chris.

HAYES: I could not agree more, Senator. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, thank you so much.

BROWN: Thanks. Always. Thanks.

HAYES: Next, a heartbreaking glimpse at the bargain Republicans made to keep the economy open at the expense of the most vulnerable among us. One woman's first-hand account of the fallout after this.



DAN PATRICK (R), LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: No one reached out to me and said, as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?

And if that's the exchange, I'm all in. My message is that, let's get back to work. Let's get back to living. Let's be smart about it. And those of us who are 70-plus, we'll take care of ourselves, but don't sacrifice the country.


HAYES: Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick offered himself as a kind of human sacrifice back in March. The problem, of course, is that the policies that have been implemented thinking along those lines have sacrificed tens of thousands of people that are not Dan Patrick. That decision was made for them.

My next guest wrote a remarkably touching piece in New York Magazine called COVID Took My Grandfather, But It Wasn't What Killed Him. And he remembers that moment when Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick suggested the elderly, those most at risk should volunteer to die to save the economy or to risk death. "People rarely volunteer to sacrifice themselves. And when Patrick said the elderly should be willing to take a chance on their own survival, he wasn't really referring to himself, with the economic privilege and the top notch medical care he could count on to protect him from harm. He was really talking about my grandfather."

Sarah Jones, senior writer at New York Magazine joins me now. Sarah, thank you for joining me. It's a fantastic piece of writing. I'm really sorry for the loss of your grandfather. And thank you for writing about it. Maybe first you can just tell us about your grandfather who -- what he was like, where he was from?

SARAH JONES, SENIOR WRITER, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Yes. His name was Charlie. He was from Maine originally. And he moved down to Virginia, to Western Virginia, to be closer to my family. You know, he loved fishing. He was a devout churchgoer. And, you know, even though he hadn't been doing as well in the last year of his life, you know, he still has life left in him. Maybe he could have seen my wedding. And unfortunately, you know, that's not possible anymore.

HAYES: You write about that feeling. I mean, one of the things that happens I think as we try to price process what's happening in front of us, these numbers we get grown on to them, and then individual stories often will focus on, you know, a 41-year-old or like, your grandfather was 86. He was -- he had had health problems beforehand. In the sort of actuarial sense, people can look at him and say, oh, well, he was pretty old, but he had to die, you know, under pretty terrible conditions, as you described in your piece because of COVID.

JONES: It was a terrible death. I mean, it's been a terrible death for everyone. Of course, not just for my grandfather, but it's an awful, inhumane way to die. I mean, we did get to see him under very safe supervised conditions a few days before he passed. But when the moment came, none of us were there.

I mean, we couldn't even go see the body afterwards. You're just completely denied any of the dignity or humanity that can and really should surround a person's passing from this world. And we didn't get that. Hundreds of thousands of people haven't gotten that.

HAYES: You write about this, about him being a part of the state that's fairly conservative, Western Virginia, and a place where, you know, people aren't necessarily masking up a lot are sort of observing social distancing. When I walked into the Kroger, the grocery store, I saw all the middle-aged men without masks on. I almost approached them, wanting to know, do one of you kill my grandfather? That problem is larger than a few men without masks or the president who encouraged them. Trump served as a vessel for widespread ideas and an apologist for older sins. What do you mean by that?

JONES: You know, it was -- it was so tempting when I would see people without masks in a public place taking such an extreme risk when my grandfather is literally dying down the road and other people in the area were dying and health care workers were risking their lives to try to at least make things easier for them.

But I think it's very easy to focus on the personal and individual responsibility angle and lose sight of the fact that we're talking about systemic failures. We're talking about a president who is ultimately responsible for the way this pandemic has been handled, and has encouraged reckless behavior and hasn't, you know, passed appropriate or reasonable public health measures. You know, the problem was much bigger than a few individuals not wearing masks.

HAYES: Yes. It's such an important point because I think we all end up susceptible to essentially the privatization of the response that has happened, that personal responsibility that everyone has to do their part. And that's important part of any public health messaging. But there's such a profound policy failure that isn't pushed it down onto everyone's shoulders, so that we all feel like we're the ones who have to carry this in this sort of leaderless fashion.

JONES: Right. These are political deaths. You know, it's a pandemic. Some people -- of course, you know, it's a, it's a deadly pandemic. But these are political deaths, because they could have been -- many of them could have been prevented, and they happen because of political decisions. And I don't want to lose sight of that. As infuriating as it might be, for me personally, to see somebody maybe not being as safe as they could.

You know, my grandfather was one person out of hundreds of thousands of people who are victims of our political economy, and of this president, and that's the real problem.

HAYES: Are you -- I have to say that I am surprised and pretty horrified and shocked by what it turns out or appears to be what our tolerance for this is. I got it wrong. I thought it would be lower, honestly, than it then it is proving to be. There were 1,500 Americans we lost today. There will be more tomorrow. There will be maybe twice that in two or three weeks. Were you surprised?

JONES: You know, a little bit. As a journalist, I try to put myself in other people's head spaces all the time not to agree but to understand. And I find it not just difficult, I find it impossible. I don't understand -- it sounds so trite, but I don't understand why you don't care about other people. Why, you know, you can look at this amount of death and that's something that's acceptable and tolerable to anyone and just approach it with this sort of fatalism like, oh, well, you know, this is just -- this is just how it is. It's a pandemic. We can't do anything about it.

You know, it did -- it did surprise me. When these -- when these comments like the comment by Dan Patrick that you cited first started coming out, and then I started hearing similar comments from other conservatives, from writers, from politicians, it worried me a great deal that I had, in fact, underestimated our tolerance for sacrificing large portions of the population.

And, you know, even with the election turning out the way it did, that's something that's not just going to disappear. That pendency, whatever it is, it's going to be with us for a long time.

HAYES: Sarah Jones, you wrote a really exceptional piece of writing. I'm so sorry about your loss. Please extend our condolences to your mom as well. I know it's been hard for her. I really appreciate it.

JONES: Thank you.

HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Tuesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now with Ali Velshi in for Rachel. Good evening, Ali.


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