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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, November 18, 2020

Guests: Henry Olsen, Michael Schmidt, David Barram, Erin Banco, Tasha Peltier


The Trump campaign filed amended complaints in which they asked the court to nullify the will of the people, prevent Pennsylvania from certifying its own election results and have a judge declare Trump the victor. President Trump files baseless lawsuits to overturn his election loss. GSA Administration refuses to allow President-Elect Biden to begin the transition. President Trump's COVID adviser Scott Atlas urges people to gather with the elderly on Thanksgiving despite grave risks. South Dakota Governor Noem refuses to institute a mask mandate despite the COVID outbreak in her state.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Yes. Absolutely. And it would be -- it would definitely be a nice change to have people tell the truth from that podium. Christina Greer, John Podesta, thank you very much. That is tonight's REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice over): Tonight on ALL IN. The clown show coup attempt continues. The President asked the court to nullify Biden's win and award electorates to Trump.

Tonight, the latest on the multi-state shakedown, the grifter arguing on his behalf in court, and why the Republican Party is just standing by and watching.

Then, new pressure on the Trump appointee standing in the way of a full Biden transition. Plus, the White House Thanksgiving guidance that could get people killed.

SCOTT ATLAS, ADVISER, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: For many people, this is their final Thanksgiving, believe it or not. What are we doing here?

HAYES: And why one governor in the middle of a massive outbreak still refuses to ask people to wear masks.

GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R-SD): I don't want to approach a policy or a mandate just looking to make people feel good. I want to do good.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: (on camera): Good evening from New York. I'm Chris Hayes. I suppose it would be funny maybe if we weren't in the midst of a pandemic and it wasn't the President of the United States trying to steal an election. But here we are. This is today's latest development. Donald Trump is flat out suing for the presidency.

Just a short time ago, in the wake of Rudy Giuliani's stumbling appearance in federal court in Pennsylvania yesterday, the Trump campaign filed amended complaints in which they asked the court to nullify the will of the people, prevent Pennsylvania from certifying its own election results and have a judge declare Trump the victor and or mandate that, "the results of the 2020 presidential general election are defective and provide for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to choose Pennsylvania electors."

Here's the kicker as articulated by attorney Luppe Luppen, a.k.a. Southpaw on Twitter, "The Trump campaign's proposal is that the Trump campaign will obtain and count or a subset of the Pennsylvania mail ballot envelopes. And based on the formula and footnote three, let the judge know if he should declare them the winner." That seems reasonable, they'll let them know.

Now, if you're confused about what Donald Trump and his enablers are doing right now, you're not alone. That makes sense because there's, as far as I can tell, no real master strategy to what we're watching. They aren't making some well thought out chess moves here. They're just kind of throwing everything at the wall.

What the President and his supporters and, crucially, the institutional Republican Party, and that means all of them, the Congressional leadership, the donor class, the people that work at the RNC, what they're doing is just trying to deny, disrupt, and subvert one day at a time to extend the uncertainty and the turmoil for yet another day, and then another day, and another.

And if this seems doomed to failure, and not to make any sense and wildly destructive for this country, it is all of those things. But it is also the way that Donald Trump has gotten to where he is. His entire life has been about lying flagrantly and shamelessly, denying reality, stiffing people screwing people over casting aspersions on his enemies, litigating wildly and frivolously all over the place. And you know what, it's all basically worked out.

His life is evidence that not caring about other people or the destruction you caused is itself a weird kind of superpower. I mean, it won't make you happy, of course. Obviously, it will not. But you can get pretty far with it. Despite all of his failures, bankruptcy after bankruptcy, failed business after failed business, never actually living up to what his father wanted him to be, despite his stiffing of contractors, his dodging of taxes, his manifestly poor character, his alleged sexual predation all over the place, he still won the Republican primary and was elected President of the United States despite losing the popular vote.

And then he kept lying and he kept cheating and he kept abusing the office. And basically, nobody in his party did anything. Democrats tried impeaching him, but Republicans wouldn't remove him but for Mitt Romney who voted to do so. They wouldn't really even stand up to him. It's all work so far.

He's just walked into the store and picked up a Rolex and he's just tiptoeing out to see if anyone stops him. No one stops him. And right now, a huge chunk of the Republican Party is going along for the ride, no matter what damage it is doing to the country and the damage it is doing is real.

Last night, when I was speaking to you from this desk, we have this very disturbing moment, right, where these two very low-level Republican officials in Michigan tried this wildly anti-democratic move to not certify election results in the majority-black Wayne County, which includes Detroit.

And we brought you that story last night. And the good news is that after national shaming and three hours of public comment in which they were sailed as racist, they ultimately succumb to public pressure reversing themselves and certifying the results. There was no reason not to, to begin with, to be clear. But those actions of those two individuals is a canary in the coal mine. It is a warning of what Trump is pressuring people to do and what they are willing to do on his behalf.

To the extent there is a strategy here it is this. As you saw on that Pennsylvania filing, they are trying to use pressure and lawsuits and delaying tactics to slow state certification of election results. And then they want Republican lawmakers or sympathetic judges to step in and simply override the votes of the people that we cast as Americans for our leader.

In Arizona, they're trying to keep the election results in crucial Maricopa County from being certified pending the results of a lawsuit. In Wisconsin, they are now paying for a recount, but only in the states two overwhelmingly Democratic counties (INAUDIBLE) Milwaukee, claiming without evidence that ballots were altered.

In Georgia, where officials are wrapping up a hand count, they are also suing to stop certification results. In Nevada, they just want Trump to be flat out declare the winner, you know, again, suing for victory. Just give it to him. Why not?

They have all those lawsuits. They're also applying all this pressure on anyone who stands in the way. And keep in mind, this is an important thing to remember anytime that Trump targets a person publicly, they get death threats and they have to get security. It's just -- it is just an iron law of public life in the era of Donald Trump who's browbeating people publicly and no doubt privately to collude with him to steal an election.

Trump even calling out the Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp, a guy not exactly known for his fealty to election integrity, for not doing enough to, I don't know, steal it for Republicans. And now conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is calling on supporters just around the Georgia Governor's Mansion to prevent election results from being certified.

Trump's campaign has long been pressuring Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who had the audacity not to endorse Trump or steal the state's election for him. And because he had been resisting Republican pressure to find ways to include ballots and disenfranchise voters, Raffensperger and his wife have received death threats in recent days, including a text to him that read "You better not botch this recount. Your life depends on it."

And he's not the only one. Arizona Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs says she too has faced ongoing, escalating threats of violence. Hobbs today calling out Trump and other Republicans who are perpetuating this information and are encouraging others to distrust the election results in a manner that violates the oath of office they took.

This video shows a group of apparent Trump supporters outside Hobbs' house at night chanting, "We are watching you." I want to turn now to Henry Olsen, a lifelong conservative, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a columnist of The Washington Post whose recent pieces include "Conservative should support Joe Biden's 'Buy American' initiative," and "How we can be confident that Trump's voter fraud claims are baloney."

Henry, thank you for joining me. I want to first set the table here that you are -- you're a conservative in good standing. You are not a -- you're not a Lincoln Project never-Trumper -- you're not a prodigal son who has fled the flock. You're a lifelong conservative who believe in conservatism and consider yourself part of the conservative move, right?

HENRY OLSEN, SENIOR FELLOW, ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: Yes, I am a conservative. I'm a Republican. I voted the Republican ticket. And I've criticized the Lincoln Project in print for basically not being anything like Republicans. So yes, my bonafide ease are clear.

HAYES: What -- how would you assess or characterize the efforts by the Trump campaign legally right now?

OLSEN: You know, I haven't had time to read all of the complaints. There are certainly so many of them. But, basically, they are fly grasping at straws. That they lost the election, they lost it in a way that is obvious to anyone with any sense of familiarity with election results. And they're trying to overturn things on the basis of unfounded conspiracy theories.

The fact is, Donald Trump lost the election because he lost votes in America suburbs. And that was true in swing states, it was true in safe blue states, and it was true in safe red states. Had he appealed to just one or two percent more of Americans who live in those suburbs, he would be legitimately president for having won the Electoral College up and up.

HAYES: What do you think -- I mean, it seems to me that there's a certain point at which you bump up against a certain legal ethics. And Jed Shugerman was on the other -- the show the other night, saying, look, it's better to have these cases actually in court because there are rules of argumentation in court. And it's actually good to have them sort of actually scrutinized and tossed out.

But at the same level, like there is a degree to which you're, at a certain point, kind of abusing the process and doing something kind of dangerous to democracy about our conception of legitimacy by continuing to pursue this. What do you think?

OLSEN: You know, I think that the Trump campaign, if they were serious about this, should have pursued different claims to begin with, much more narrow, much more factually based. And they chose not to do that. You know, I'm not going to pass on the ethics of a lawyer deciding which cases to take or not, but I would agree with that gentleman, that having these cases in court means they actually have to meet rules of evidence and burdens of proof that are open to the public to see.

And what you're seeing and all of these cases is that they either don't have the evidence or they can't meet the burden of proof or both. And that's increasingly fatal to any sort of rational way to back up what he's doing.

HAYES: At what point should conservatives, prominent ones -- again, people still inside the tent that are part of the conservative movement and the Republican Party say the plain truth here. I mean, it really does seem to me that, you know, this is kind of salting the earth a bit. It's salting the earth in terms of people's perceptions. There's polling that, you know, Republicans largely view this as fraudulent and rife with fraud. And it does seem at a certain point incumbent on saying, you know, you might not like Joe Biden, you may love Donald Trump, but he did lose the election.

OLSEN: I think most Republican leaders and politicians have been waiting for the certification process. While most people don't follow the ins and outs of how elections are decided, what we hear on election night is not the final word. In every state and in every county, there is always a three to four-week period when people check and recheck to make sure they got it right.

And I believe Republican officials are waiting for that period to run out before making their declaration that Joe Biden is the president-elect. That will happen in almost every state within the next seven to nine days, certainly around if not before Thanksgiving. And I believe that's when most Republican officials will say we didn't like it, but this is what the law says.

HAYES: That's interesting. I mean, there's a little bit of chicken and egg problem here in so far as the very thing they are pursuing in the courts is delaying the certification, right. I mean, the thing they want to do is push that off as long as possible so that that moment when everyone says, you know, Arizona certified, Georgia certified doesn't come and they could continue to spin this.

OLSEN: Well, as you know, there's not been a single court anywhere that has granted one of the Trump campaigns lawsuits to that extent. I believe Marc Elias, who was a progressive lawyer keeping track of this says that the Trump campaign is now one for 25. And the one case they won was a minor technicality that doesn't affect anything.

I can't believe that any court is going to not certify the elections on the basis of the evidence that's been produced. The evidence that's been produced has been speculative. It's been circumstantial at best and does not reach the question of was an election decided by elicit means. I can't imagine that any court is actually going to step in and hold up certification on the basis of the weak and unsupported claims that are being made before them.

HAYES: All right, Henry Olsen, someone who I followed for a long time, argued with on Twitter, and whose honesty on this -- on this point I really respect and appreciate. Thank you for coming on.

OLSEN: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: One thing to always keep in mind with Donald Trump is that no matter what he's doing, there is always a grift involved. So, right now, while this is happening, his campaign is raising money and sending out these increasingly desperate to derange texts and e-mails four or five times a day trying to wring money out of his supporters supposedly to fund legal challenges, though that money is also conveniently being used to pay down campaign debt.

And because it's Trump world, the grifts are always fractal. There are grifts within the grifts. And so you have a completely unprepared Rudy Giuliani out there trying to sell a legal case that seems doomed to failure while according to New York Times, he is said to be seeking $20,000 a day in payment. Giuliani denies this.

One of the co-authors of that piece is author of the best-selling book, Donald Trump Versus the United States. New York Times Washington Correspondent Michael Schmidt joins me now. Michael, what is -- what is Rudy's role here? What is he doing?

MICHAEL SCHMIDT, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, Rudy will make $20,000 more a day the longer that this litigation goes on. And that's really just an important fact to look at here as the President continues to try and overturn the election based on these frivolous, baseless accusations, as you've pointed out, that have gone nowhere.

The thing about Rudy that's distinct here is that he is -- he's among a small group of people in Trump's world who are pushing this. You don't see a lot of the lawyers that were with the president for many years here participating in this. This is a Rudy led and produced show. You had Rudy in court yesterday for the first time in 30 years, and there's no sign that it looks like he's going to give up.

HAYES: Yes. This does seem to be an increasingly -- I suppose if there's a -- if there's a kind of silver lining here, this is a kind of dead-ender play even within the Trump circle. You had Mick Mulvaney saying, this is not a television program, and slamming Giuliani. What does -- I mean, what is the -- what is the other faction, right, the non-Rudy faction? What they're doing sort of matters to the extent of how dangerous this enterprise is. What is their view on?

SCHMIDT: Well, so, as I chronicled in the book, Donald Trump is someone that is unmoored by the law, ethics and you know, basically -- and he's willing to do things that no other president was willing to. And that behavior forced the people around the president to try and stop him, to try and contain him. And there were those containers in the first two, three years of the presidency.

That doesn't mean that things did not go terribly wrong in that period of time, but they were able to stop Trump from heading down these dark paths. One of the people that these containers of Trump feared was Rudy Giuliani. They feared what would happen if Giuliani got his tentacles into Trump and could control Trump and could basically use him.

And that is the nightmare scenario that we're seeing. These people that were around the president who tried to stop him, tried to keep Giuliani away from him, and they failed. I just wanted to address a point. You said there was a silver lining here and anything. I think that regardless of what happens with Giuliani's arguments in court and all -- and all that nonsense, the President and Giuliani and the conservative media echo chamber has dipped the President's base in lighter fluid here for the past two weeks pumping into them these accusations that the election was fixed. And that is not an easy thing to turn off.

That is not just something that you can say, oh, well, the election was fixed, but we're going to forget about it. If you go back to things like Benghazi, it's the same playbook, and we will be unspooling this for months, if not longer to come.

HAYES: Right. So, I mean, that to me is always been the kind of two ways to view this, right? So, there's the danger and the damage of the propaganda that basically says this was not a legitimate election, you know, that this sort of baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, it was stolen from your guy. And then there's like, how seriously are they going to push the envelope on actually trying to install a man who lost an election contrary to 240 years of American democratic tradition?

And I guess on the latter point, it seems to me that whatever Rudy is doing, like there aren't serious efforts to coordinate at this point, with, say, the Pennsylvania state legislator or the Michigan state legislator to actually pull off with this, right? Or are they? I don't know.

SCHMIDT: There's never been -- but there's never -- as I wrote about in the book, there's never been serious plans about anything yet, the President has survived all of these different things, because he's willing to do things that other people are not willing to do.

HAYES: That's right.

SCHMIDT: And that's why we're in the situation we're in today. We're in this situation, because Donald Trump is willing to question the results of an election that he clearly lost. And that is just very, very different. And that is the central problem of the Trump presidency is that you have the person at the top who is going to push the envelope in ways that people have never seen before, and that we didn't think was going to happen. And that's what we see playing out. And that creates an enormous variable.

HAYES: Yes. And I think that -- I mean, to me, the sort of institutional saving grace to the extent there is one here, is that basically, what he needs to pull this off is people taking a bunch of coordinated affirmative step on his behalf as opposed to affirmatively stopping, right? I mean, what he needs is he needs them to not certify and then like award him the electorates, all these things that are not going to happen, and that's sort of the saving grace.

But if you imagine this scenario, coming down to one state with a 5,000-vote margin, like they have shown that they were absolutely willing to take it away.

SCHMIDT: Look, the President is behind significantly in many different states. And it looks like there is -- there is no path here. But throughout his presidency, the President has defied logic. He was under investigation for obstructing justice, continued to do things that raise questions about whether he was obstructing justice, and managed to beat all of that.

I'm not saying that that means that he's going to be successful here. I'm just saying that he's not a normal politician and is not going to respond to the normal things. You were pointing out earlier, those election board certifications last night about how these people were called racist and stuff like that and they eventually gave in, those are not things that is going -- that are going to change Donald Trump's mind.

HAYES: Yes. His behavior won't change. We just have to depend on the other people. Michael Schmidt, whose book is Donald Trump Versus the United States. You could buy that now. Thank you very much, Michael.

SCHMIDT: Thanks for having me.

HAYES: Next, the Biden Transition Team is ready to get started. One person is holding up. Her name is Emily Murphy. She is the head of the General Services Administration. And the man who held her very same job during the Bush v. Gore fight in 2000 is here with me with some advice next.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: The law says that the General Services Administration has a person who recognizes who the winner is. And then they have to have access to all the data and information that the government possesses to be prepared. And it doesn't require there to be an absolute winner, it says the apparent winner, the apparent winner. And we've been unable to get access to the kinds of things we need to know.


HAYES: Today, President-Elect Joe Biden had to explain to frontline workers that Trump's refusal to acknowledge his victory is slowing down his incoming administration's ability to respond to the coronavirus by weeks or even months. And the one person in the General Services Administration, that's the government bureaucracy that oversees this, who decides when to release the federal resources to the Biden transition is the woman that you were seeing there. Her name is Emily Murphy and she is the General Services Administrator.

CNN reports, "Murphy is struggling with the weight of the presidential election being dropped on her shoulders, feeling like she's been put in a no-win situation," which I'm sure is a bummer. But this was always part of her job. The election was not close. Joe Biden won handily in both the Electoral College and the popular vote, and she should officially say so, so that the next president can get the resources he needs to fight the once in a century pandemic currently burning through the country and killing almost 2,000 people a day.

David Barram was the head of the GSA during the 2000 election legal battle that stretched on for over a month. He spoke to Emily Murphy about the difficult experience before Election Day, and he joins me now. And David, it's great to have you on.

First, I guess, just to sort of set the table here. Can you just explain to folks what the GSA's role is in the transition between the election and that -- and Inauguration Day for the incoming administration?

DAVID BARRAM, FORMER ADMINISTRATOR, GSA: Sure. Well, you and -- you and Joe Biden did a good job of explaining it. The law is pretty simple. The GSA's administrator's job is to ascertain the apparent winner. And when -- once doing that, then turn over some appropriated funds. In this case, I think it's up close to $10 million, in my time in 2000, it was about $5 million. And provide access to a lot of space that GSA has been putting together in the months preceding the election.

In 2000, we -- the law was -- the law has been changed since. In 2000, it only had those -- you could only -- I could only ascertain that and then give them the money in the space to one winner. Now, they have been able -- the GSA has been able to spend some of that money and provide some space to both campaigns before the election and then after in the case of this difficulty.

But that's just one part of it. The second part and what's really causing the problem right now is that the GSA administrator's ascertainment allows the winning -- the president-elect's transition team to meet with cabinet agencies all over the government, who by the way, have been preparing for months --

HAYES: Right.

BARRAM: -- to work with the transition team, and I think probably in this case, have all kinds of binders and information available for the transition team so they can hit the ground running. And because there's been no ascertainment, they seem unable to do that. They are unable to do that.

HAYES: You had - I mean, 2000 was a very different situation. It was -- came down to one state. That state was a margin of 537 votes, famously. Also, it was litigated all the way to the Supreme Court. The winner was genuinely unclear.

In this case, that's not true. It's multiple states with thousands and thousands of votes. There's, you know, this litigation. What advice did you give to miss Murphy when you were talking to her before the election?

BARRAM: Well, let me clear up a little bit here. We -- she and I, we had never talked before. She and I talked right around the election but before the -- before the problem became obvious. And she was just imagining how difficult this could be and what did I experienced. So, I share with her or my experiences.

We agreed. And I said, in life, if you -- my mother has taught me, if you do the right thing, you can just live with those consequences and you'll be OK. She agreed with that. I think she really wanted to do -- really wants to do the right thing. But you're right. You and -- you and George Bush are right. This election today is totally different than 2000. And, you know, you both have said -- you and George Bush again have both said that the ultimate -- the winner is clear and we should get moving on.

So -- and I think there's not much doubt left, I don't believe, and hope she'll be able to make that decision pretty quickly.

HAYES: Yes. Joe Biden and I, and I think everyone else observing this agrees, we should note that she recently sent messages to an associate inquiring about employment opportunities in 2021. Again, a move some in Washington interpreted least tacitly acknowledging the current ministration soon be gone. I think most people more than tacitly acknowledged.

You know, one thing that's striking to me here, and again, this is a lot of pressure on this relatively anonymous member of the administration. I'm sure that when you were a GSA administrator, you weren't getting like stopped on the street a lot for, you know, craps and things like that. But the GSA is actually a wildly important operational part of the federal government. It's really, really huge control, huge budget.

You know, it's a little bit like when you when you put pressure on a stick, it'll snap and the weakest spot. It's like no one really thought through that the peaceful transition of power was a GSA ascertainment. But it turns out, that's what it is.

BARRAM: Remember, it was -- it was designed to find a way for the GSA to actually turn over money and space. I don't, frankly, remember exactly what -- how it moved from just that. And you'd have to have some way to decide. So, that was pretty straightforward.

Not allowing the transition team to meet with the agencies, that's -- they're waiting for GSA to do to ascertain for that, but I think that we should be looking at the President of the United States and asking him -- like it would do any good -- asking him, come on, you know, let's make this transition work. But you all have spent hours and hours and words and words talking about how he's not allowing any of that to happen.

So, you know, he has last I heard, I think it was secretary -- HHS Secretary Azar say he wasn't going to turn over information to the Biden transition team on Coronavirus until Emily Murphy ascertained. And my reaction to that was that is really unfair. You know, do it not make her be the one to make -- to let you do it. Come on, show some courage.

HAYES: Yes, that's a good point that like, these people can just choose to meet independent of the ascertainment. They can choose as cabinet officials to run their agencies in a responsible fashion independent of Donald Trump. And the idea that the pressure is on Emily Murphy and not on say, Mike Pompeo is a fair point.

BARRAM: You know, I, I watched the Ron Johnson -- Senator Ron Johnson walk out of the room and not say -- and say, I don't have anything congratulate Joe Biden about. And I thought to myself, come on, you know Joe Biden. You know how transition is supposed to work in this peaceful transfer of power. Why are you running away?

You know, let's see a little courage and give Emily Murphy a little bit of cover here. I mean, she has a responsibility, and I don't think it should -- anybody should be not accepting that she has it, but she could do with a little help from some of these guys.

HAYES: It's a fair point. David Barram who just became my absolute favorite former GSA administrator, thank you for making some -- thank you for making some time tonight.

BARRAM: My pleasure, Chris. Thank you.

HAYES: All right, still to come, wildly dangerous advice coming from Donald Trump's COVID whisper. The new messaging from Dr. Scott Atlas that will almost certainly literally cost people lives. That's next.


HAYE: Dr. Scott Atlas, the right-wing radiologist, who runs America's Coronavirus policy inexplicably and Donald Trump have been trying for a long time to create this false polarization around responses to the pandemic that's killing people day by day. Basically, locked down completely and do nothing or go entirely back to normal.

But it's never been like that. And it's never been about that. And right now, we have a perfect example to find a middle space Thanksgiving. Not everyone has to stay in their homes, but don't have big indoor Thanksgiving dinners with people. That's dangerous. But no, no, no, Dr. Scott Atlas thinks otherwise.


ATLAS: This kind of isolation is one of the unspoken tragedies of the elderly who are now being told don't see your family at Thanksgiving. For many people, this is their final Thanksgiving, believe it or not. What are we doing here? I think we have to have a policy which I have been advocating, which is a whole person whole health policy. It's not about just stopping cases of COVID, we have to talk about the damage of the policy itself.


HAYES: What are we doing here, Scott Atlas? Good question. Someone who's working on a piece right now for The Daily Beast about how people are spending their Thanksgiving during COVID, National Security Reporter Erin Banco, and she joins me now.

And some of your reporting, Erin, is that Atlas is actively intervening and trying to stop states from implementing policies or messaging that would stop people from traveling and getting together during Thanksgiving.

ERIN BANCO, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, DAILY BEAST: Yes, that's right. I mean, we've heard a lot of different kinds of stories about Scott Atlas over the past seven months. But officials we spoke to at The Daily Beast are the most concerned about Atlas' recent rhetoric involving stay at home orders, lockdowns, mass mandates. He made a comment on Twitter earlier in the week in which he called for people to rise up against Governor Whitmer's new restrictions on COVID-19 for the next, you know, week or two.

And so, what officials say is that, you know, they may have been frustrated with Atlas in the past, some of the remarks he's made on TV, but they are now really concerned that the rhetoric that's out there, not only from Atlas, but other top White House officials is dangerous and it's putting American less at risk.

They're essentially advocating that people take back Thanksgiving, right. That they continue to gather in whatever groups they want to, that they don't wear masks. And the whole idea is that, you know, it is a liberty. It's Americans can choose what they want to do for Thanksgiving. But now, top health officials, including those working on the Coronavirus Task Force say he's directly threatening American lives.

HAYES: Yes. I mean, I would just want to make a distinction here because I think it's important. There's policy, right. They're shutting down non-essential businesses or creating curfews, right? And then there's just coherent unified messaging using facts and moral suasion with the American people about what their behavior should or shouldn't be. And they are going out of their way to send the wrong message.

It's forget about the policy. They are urging people to turn Thanksgiving into a culture war and assemble as many people as possible and be inside and not wear masks so that more people get sick.

BANCO: That's right. So, the scientists and health officials and, you know, statisticians that have been working on federal government's response to COVID for some time have been pushing back on atlases messaging for the past, you know, four, or five, six months. But now they feel like it we're so far gone. We're to a point where large swaths of the country believe that the virus is a hoax, that wearing masks does nothing, and that there's nothing to worry about.

And now, with this new rhetoric from Atlas and the White House spokeswoman that, you know, they're essentially downplaying the virus, saying there's nothing to worry about, go forward with your plans for Thanksgiving, don't let anyone stop you. This is probably the most dangerous kind of messaging we've seen in recent months from the White House.

HAYES: We should note, Canada has already gone through this because they have their Thanksgiving earlier, October 12th. You can see where it is on this chart. There it is, like right before that big spike. You know, it doesn't mean that caused it, but it probably certainly didn't help.

We've got United Airlines saying that in response to growing air travel demand, they've added more than 1,400 flights. And you've got shoot nearly two in five people report in Ohio State study, they will likely attend a gathering with more than 10 people, a third will not ask guests to wear masks.

Like this -- I mean, just to be clear, like, this is a bad idea. We are -- like it's bad right now. 1,800 Americans died today. If we go get together for Thanksgiving, we can get it up to 3,600. I don't know if that Scott Atlas' goal. It feels like it, honestly. But people should not get inside in big family gatherings indoors in Thanksgiving, right. That is what the other people in the White House taskforce believe. Please tell me that.

BANCO: That is true. That is true. They believe large gatherings, indoors, without masks is a terrible idea. Not only because we're going to see inevitably an uptick in cases, but we are also going to see more deaths. And those deaths, you know, if you look at the data and how things have gone over the past few months, will likely come Christmas, New Year's Eve, start of the new year, before we have a viable vaccine, not just a frontline workers but to the general masses.

So, there's so much more work we have to be doing to control this virus before we get a vaccine. And pushing people to ignore the rules, ignore the guidelines over the holidays is going to create an incredible spike in cases and deaths. And it's going to create more heartache for Americans and it's just dangerous.

And at this point, officials working on this task force are unsure what else they can do primarily because they can't push back on Atlas anymore because the White House isn't allowing them to speak about this issue. They're not allowed to speak about Atlas' policies and his thinking. They're not allowed to go on TV and talk -- you know, speak their mind. So, who else is there pushback on these things? And that's where the real problem is.

HAYES: Just a random this day in history, today is the anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre when 909 people lost their lives because they listened to a delusional insane liar who caused himself harm. That's just a thing that happened today on this day. Erin Banco, thank you so much for making time tonight.

Ahead, in the state with a third highest Coronavirus mortality rate in the entire world, the governor still refuses to mandate masks. The crisis in South Dakota is bad. Coming up.


HAYES: Yet another day of devastating numbers and what will no doubt be the most deadly winter of our lives. States reported 164,000 new cases just today. And keep in mind, that's probably not the full tally because we're not testing enough but 164,000 new cases of coronavirus. A record 79,000 people are currently hospitalized suffering the disease.

Before, in the last wave, the highest we got was 60,000. And today, and this is really, really, really upsetting and troubling, there were 1,869 deaths. That is the highest death count since the first week in May. The White House Coronavirus Task Force warned Mike Pence yesterday that if we continue on this course, the U.S. could see 2000 deaths per day by Christmas. Honestly, I think that's optimistic by Christmas.

And our leaders -- I mean, we've talked about the Republicans, but honestly on both sides of the aisle, are not setting a good example the kind of behavior we should be modeling if we want to have any chance at preventing that from happening.

To give you some context here, there are eight members of Congress that are currently in quarantine, at least six of them tested positive, including 87-year-old Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Grassley is the President pro tem of the Senate. The Republican with the longest record of continuous service. He was lasts seen in the chamber on Monday maskless presiding over votes.

Now, Grassley is the second oldest senator in that body after democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, who's a few months older. You might think at 87-years-old, and with several other colleagues, it would be wise to exercise extra precaution. But Senator Feinstein was seen not wearing a mask at a hearing yesterday in the halls of the capital. I mean, look, we all slip sometimes, but like it's really important here.

And this comes just days after House Democrats plan to hold an indoor dinner party in a windowless room of the Capitol for incoming freshmen and members who just won reelection. That event hosted by 80-year-old Speaker Nancy Pelosi was canceled at the last minute in the wake of an uproar of criticism.

And then there is Democratic Governor of California Gavin Newsom under fire for attending a 12-person birthday dinner for a lobbyist at a Michelin star restaurant earlier this month. New photos obtained by a local news outlet show the meal was not fully outdoors as the governor had claimed, which makes a big difference by the way, a big difference.

And among the guests who sat close together unmasked apparently shut inside were, get this, officials from the California Medical Association. What are we doing here, people? What are we doing? These people should all know better. California added 9,800 new cases today, over 60 deaths. The governor is correctly requiring Californians to mask up. This is not leading by example.

And they live in a part of the country where it's still pretty warm outside. It's California. Go outside. Go have socially distant cocktails at one of your donors Malibu mansions. In large swaths of the country, winter is here. People are being forced indoors adding fuel to the fire in places like the already hard-hit Midwest.

We're going to talk about the dire situation and lack of leadership in a state with one of the worst death rates in the entire world next.


HAYES: Today, Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota held her first news conference focused on Coronavirus since July, or is it November, it's a lot of months. And in that time, more than 60,000 of her constituents have gotten sick, over 550 have died.

South Dakota, if it were a country, has the third-worst mortality rate in the world right now. And yet Governor Noem still refuses to institute a mask mandate or any of the restrictions that could help stop the spread of the virus.


NOEM: You may choose to wear a mask and be concerned about the virus. And if people are scared, I'm going to remind them they should stay home. But if people choose not to, we still should treat them with respect and understand that they're making a personal decision.


HAYES: I mean, I'm all for treating people with respect and meeting people where they're at and that's fine. But this is Kristi Noem being an on-brand Republican, because that's probably going to help her with her potential future presidential run which looks pretty clear at this point.

But it's not helping the people in our state who have literally been dying while she spouts about personal responsibility and travels around the country campaigning for Donald Trump while her state is in crisis. North and South Dakota are the epicenter of this outbreak right now, which really seems kind of crazy. They're among the least populous states in the country.

You remember when we're talking about density in New York back in March in April? But South Dakota is also home to the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally, which took place as usual this August. Hundreds of thousands of people, bikers coming from all across the country, to mingle closely in this small town, and to drink and to party, and then dispersing back out to their home states.

I'm joined now by Tasha Peltier who served as a Coronavirus Case Manager for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which spans both North and South Dakota. Tasha, thank you so much for joining us tonight. First, just give us a sense of how things look on the ground there in your community and the folks you're working with.

TASHA PELTIER, FORMER COVID-19 MANAGER, STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBE: Sure. Thanks for having me, Chris. So, right now, we are seeing an increase in cases across the reservation. And as you mentioned, we span across North and South Dakota. And so, we rely heavily on you know, good leadership from both states and their decisions impact our communities heavily.

HAYES: Yes. I got to imagine that even if the reservation is distinct in terms of its governance, structure, and its sovereignty, it is, you know, inevitably intermingled with the weights of community transmission in the folks around you.

PELTIER: Exactly. We rely on outside communities for shopping. You know, people work off the reservation. We have off reservation, people that come on to the reservation to work in our schools and our health care system, so we're very much intertwined with those communities.

You know, I think my frustrations as a public health professional is that we really need leadership to be following the science and to be following the expert guidance on how community members can do their part and addressing the spread. And we've just not been effective at doing that.

HAYES: You know, let me ask you this. In New York in March and April which was -- which was basically the worst outbreak in the world at that point, and probably still, maybe sitting in Ecuador here or Brazil here and there, but at that point the worst, you know, it got really bad. People were inside. They heard the wailing sound of sirens all the time. One out of every 400 New Yorkers died. And it traumatized people.

I mean, people were -- they were traumatized. They knew people that got sick, they knew people that got died, and they were like, this is awful. What is the like social life world experience of this pandemic on your reservation and in those states now as the numbers per capita head towards New York levels?

PELTIER: Well, I think it varies. You know, we have, especially in North and South Dakota, we know that there has been major resistance to, you know, wearing face masks. There's been a debate about their effectiveness and whether they, you know, even work and suggestions that maybe they're even harmful to our health.

And so, we have that attitude. But we also have, you know, I think within our reservation communities, we do have people that are taking this virus seriously. They know that we are losing precious lives. They know that it's important for them to do their part to reduce the spread.

And that has been what we've focused on when we're educating our communities, it's about doing things for the greater good. It's about making good choices, being a good relative, doing everything that we can to make sure that our communities stay safe and healthy. But we don't see that across the two states that we share territory with.

HAYES: What is the health care capacity that your tribal reservation has?

PELTIER: So, we do have an Indian Health Service facility. It is a 12-bed hospital. But we definitely have reached capacity several times during the pandemic, and we rely heavily on outside health care facilities to meet those higher-level of care needs for our patients.

And so, when we talk about the health care capacity across North and South Dakota, you know, that is scary for us, too, because we rely on those health care facilities. And when their capacity is dwindling, we know that we're going to have to be searching farther and farther for our community members to have the level of care that they need.

And we do have -- we're just disproportionately impacted by this virus. We have, you know, higher rates of the preexisting conditions that put us at risk of developing complications, and so this hits us hard. When our people are getting sick, they're getting really sick and they're needing those higher levels of care.

HAYES: All right, Tasha Peltier who works in Standing Sioux Tribe there in North and South Dakota. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

PELTIER: Thanks.

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

Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR: As always, a great discussion, Chris. Thank you for that. Have yourself a great evening. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Rachel is quarantining after a close contact tested positive for COVID-19. But she will be back soon, real soon.


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