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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, September 1, 2020

Guests: Kathleen Sebelius, Amy Klobuchar, Mark Pocan, Asawin Suebsaeng


Coronavirus outbreaks flare up at colleges across the U.S. after opening classes. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is interviewed about President Trump advocating herd immunity. President Trump praises police and slams protesters in his trip in Kenosha. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) is interviewed about President Trump's trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin.




CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. Herd immunity, the really bad idea the White House swears is not the plan seems to be the President's plan.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Once you get to a certain number -- you know we use the word herd, right? Once you get to a certain number it's going to go away.

HAYES: Tonight, as the administration bullies everyone back to school, new concern that outbreaks on college campuses could bring a COVID third wave.

Plus, why is the president repeating conspiracy theories about planeloads of Antifa thugs. Ben Collins on Donald Trump's poisonous pipeline of information.

And never mind that Drudge headline. The president wants everyone to know that he did not have a "series of mini-strokes, when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I'm Chris Hayes. You know, when you spell it out to people that millions and millions more Americans are going to get sick, perhaps tens and tens of millions, and that's something like two million Americans are probably going to die, and we're all just going to have to deal with it, when you actually articulate it like that to anyone, conservative, liberal, anyone, well, people recoil in horror.

But that is how you're supposed to get to herd immunity. And with 1,000 people dying a day, still, well, it's hard to get your head around the idea that even more are going to die with this new strategy from the President's new Coronavirus adviser, Scott Atlas, which is why Scott Atlas had to come out today and push back on this report from the Washington Post, saying that he is urging the White House to embrace the herd immunity strategy.


SCOTT ATLAS, CORONAVIRUS ADVISER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'm not sure if they fabricated it or someone told them a lie, but there's never been any advocacy of a herd immunity strategy coming from me to the President, to anyone in the administration, to the task force, to anyone I've spoken to. I mean, the whole thing is an overt lie, but this is Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you discussed to any extent the concept of herd immunity?

ATLAS: Well, I've explained what the immunity and what the recent immunology literature shows, but I have never advocated doing what Sweden did or what anyone else did.


HAYES: You see that there? The idea is so toxic, he comes up the next day, no, no, it's a lie. It's fabricated, fake news. He says he's never advocated doing herd immunity. On the same day or within hours of each other, the President brings it up unprompted in an interview on Trump T.V. with Laura Ingraham last night.


LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Are you worried that on the push for vaccines, these fast vaccines for COVID, you might be splitting a coalition of Americans frankly, in both parties, who aren't comfortable?

TRUMP: Well, once you get to a certain numbers -- you know, we use the word, herd, right? Once you get to a certain number, it's going to go away.


HAYES: We use the word herd floating around in there. Once you get to a certain number, it's going to go away. We've heard that it's going to go away before. But that number, the number you have to get to is something like over two million American dead, according to expert estimates.

And look, no matter what anyone in the White House says, whether it's Scott Atlas or the President, this is functionally their strategy right now. They are letting the virus spread and letting people get sick and die. We've seen it happen.

Back in May, the U.S. hit a plateau of new cases around 20,000 a day. That's the first peak you see there on the left. And the President immediately started hectoring everyone to reopen. Arizona, Texas, Florida, other states throughout the south reopened as if everything was fine and the virus had gone away. And what happened? About six years -- six weeks later, what a huge outbreak, and that's the second peak you see on the right side of the graph.

And as you can see, we are still dealing with the aftermath of that outbreak. We are still averaging about 40,000 cases per day, and about 1,000 deaths per day, a 9/11 every three days. Tens of thousands of people died in this second outbreak who did not have to die.

And now we have plateaued, but what do we think is going to happen next? We aren't really doing anything that different from what we were doing in May. Mass compliance seems to be higher and places have shut down bars and restaurants, in some places, but they're reopening others.

And there's already one big sector that looks like an obvious disaster in the making. I can't really even believe what I'm reading when I read about it. Colleges and universities, OK. At the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, there were more than 560 cases the first week after classes started in person on campus. The mayor of Tuscaloosa has closed down bars for two weeks, probably a good idea, in an effort to stop the spread.

Now, The Daily Beast reports there's chaos and confusion at Ole Miss in Oxford Mississippi. Students being ordered out of their dorms and into quarantine on short notice after being exposed to the virus. Campuses across the state of Texas are seeing an increase in positive cases especially Baylor University in Waco, which has had more than 600 cases since the beginning of August. Some students there have been required to reside in place following a spike in positive cases in a dorm.

Over the weekend, York Governor Andrew Cuomo deployed a SWAT team to the State University in Oneonta, SUNY Oneonta after an outbreak emerged there. That school has suspended in-person classes. Today, Colorado College has, guess what, also halted in-person college classes moving online following multiple campus quarantines.

In Notre Dame, remember the president in Notre Dame boasted earlier this year about reopening, saying look, this is worth the risk. We're going to do it. Well, they shut down after an early outbreak last month, and now they are trying to reopen again. We'll see how it goes. The University of North Carolina has sent students home from its Chapel Hill campus where the positivity rate has been around 30 percent for two weeks.

All right, so with all this spread happening on campuses and in college towns and then students being sent home, that doesn't seem good. It seems inevitable they're going to go back to their hometowns infect their parents or their grandparents or their friends or their neighbors.

In fact, you know, who has identified that as a serious issue, top officials on the White House Task Force, who pleaded with the nation's governors yesterday. This is coming from the White House to advise college presidents in their states to keep COVID infected students on campus or risk another major outbreak.

But in public, the President is focused on his own political fortunes and convincing everyone to ignore the virus as he has been from the very beginning when we had zero dead Americans as opposed to 185,000. And so, the President's big college crusade is not about safety, or quarantine procedures, or protecting community, or oven making sure kids can go back to school. No. It is about hectoring Big 10 football schools into forcing their students to play football safety be damned. In fact, safety be damned has been more or less the President's M.O. throughout.

For more on the President's priorities and where we stand in the fight against virus, I'm joined by Kathleen Sebelius. She served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Obama where she dealt with the H1N1 flu outbreak, also the former Governor of Kansas, and perhaps most relevant here, lives in Lawrence that is the home of the University of Kansas.

And I thought maybe we would start, Secretary, with that. I mean, you are in a big college town, a vibrant place where there's tons of students and teachers and staff around. And we've got reporting that you've got 474 cases there already. The Greek community which is -- which is doing standard, I think rushed, like it's all happening as if it were happening last year. It has a positivity rate of 10 percent. How does it -- how much sense does this make?

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER SECRETARY, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Well, I would say that people here are pretty nervous, people in the community. We're a relatively small college town, Chris. We have about 120,000 normal residents when the colleges aren't in session. And we have a somewhat hybrid approach. Some of the kids are back a lot more than were here a couple of weeks ago. Many are taking classes online. A lot of the classes are being held online even if the kids are here.

Our university is headed by a doctor. The chancellor is an oncology surgeon who ran the K.U. Medical Center, so he is very much aware of public health and science. He put in place a mandatory testing protocol to begin the school year where you could not enter a classroom, a housing project, and office unless you had a COVID test and unless you have results that were negative.

So, at least it was a snapshot in time for everyone who could not get access to any place until they were tested. But he worries like all of us do that, you know, a one-time test doesn't tell the full story. Greek houses have been suspended and locked down. We have kids in quarantine right now. It's still warm here, so there can be a lot going on outside. But it isn't really the classroom setting that is precarious, it's housing and eating and, you know, bars which are shut down in Kansas.

We have mandatory masks. We have a lot of those protocol in place. But as you know, many, many young Americans don't follow the protocol and they're already seeing spikes of cases.

HAYES: Well, I mean, to me, this is really the -- this is the question right now for the next six weeks to eight weeks as we go through is we went through this once, thought we learned a lesson, we didn't. We opened back up; we had a second outbreak. It was unlike anything that has really happened anywhere else in the world. There's tens of thousands of Americans who lost their lives to that outbreak, which could have been prevented.

And now the question to me is, if people wear masks and you keep bar shut down, basically, is that enough? Like, can we -- can we avoid something that looks like what happened in the Sunbelt in America in six weeks from now if we do those two things, or do we need to do more than that?

SEBELIUS: Well, I think in some areas, we definitely need to do more because those measures work, but they work if you've already driven the virus to a very low rate. And then you begin to implement protocol to protect people and quickly contact trace when positive case is identified.

We're way beyond that. I mean, the cases are everywhere and the asymptomatic cases are everywhere. You talked earlier about herd immunity. And this is the worst bastardization of the terminology I've ever heard. Herd immunity really is in a public health setting a reference to how many people need to get vaccinated to protect other people.

So, I have a 13-week old granddaughter. She can't get any vaccinations. So, part of the deal is, you know, for flu shot or anything else, anyone is going to be around the baby needs to get vaccinated to protect her. These folks are really talking about letting a massive number of people get sick, letting a massive number of people die in order to -- you know, you heard the President once again say the virus goes away. It doesn't go away. It just makes it harder to transmit if so many people have had the virus.

This is a totally irresponsible, dangerous strategy in a country where we've already seen more deaths than any place on the face of the earth and 1,000 people are dying each and every day.

HAYES: Kathleen Sebelius there in Lawrence, Kansas, home to the University of Kansas. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

SEBELIUS: You bet.

HAYES: For more on what's happening in our nation's colleges and universities, I'm joined now by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. And Senator, let me start with you as someone who represents the great state of Minnesota, a member of the Big 10, if I'm not mistaken. You know, we're I it's just so striking to me about the priorities here. Like where do you think it ranks among your constituents and your great state getting Big 10 football back compared to everything else that's happening?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Well, the gophers are pretty important to Minnesota, but at the same time, we want people to be safe, so we look at the science. And I was listening to Kathleen here, and I kept thinking in Minnesota, we talked about herds, it's cows, its cattle. We don't talk about herds of people getting sick.

People don't want to get COVID. They want to figure out how they can protect themselves. And that is what has bothered me about this president from the very beginning. He looks at the next tweet, not the long term. He literally had a convention last week where they were disgracing the White House lawn, where they were all kinds of fancy outfits, and Ari is belted from the balcony. And during that time, 3,600 people died of COVID. It's like they're pretending it isn't happening.

So, we want real solutions here. And that's why Joe Biden, who worked with Barack Obama to get us through Ebola, who brought us back from the last downturn, is the President for the Midwest.

HAYES: Yes. You represented that state. And I remember looking when you were running for president looking at returns and splits in your state where you have -- your have a high approval rating, you have -- you have managed to outperform National Democratic tickets in certain areas of your state. So, I think you have a good sense of the politics in your state.

The Trump campaign is clearly betting on Minnesota as a state that they narrowly lost last time they could win this time. And they're also betting that this kind of backlash politics, the emphasis on, you know, street unrest is going to benefit them, that it's going to scare the voters in your state. What do you think of that strategy?

KLOBUCHAR: That is the worst kind of politics in a state like mine that values good government. And as Joe Biden said in his beautiful speech in Pittsburgh, Donald Trump is viewing this chaos, which has happened under his watch, both in the health care area as Kathleen just explained, as well as in the area of what we are seeing in terms of people so angry and feeling so hit on and so divided, all this has happened under his watch.

So, what the people in Minnesota want is a president that's going to unite America, a president who's for all of America. And I was just up in Duluth with the mayor who is a strong supporter of Joe Biden's. Today, the steelworkers came out strongly both nationally and in Minnesota, talking about how they want a president that's going to represent that's going to represent them and not help his rich friends.

I think all of that is going to resonate in our state. We want order back, and this President has created chaos. And in the words of Kellyanne Conway, "the more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on whose best and public safety and order." They literally are inviting this. And that's what you saw by the President's choices today, and how his rhetoric has divided people.

So no, that's not what people want in our state. They want to get back to some sense of a president that's looking out that has their backs, and is going to look not just at the next tweet, but at the day after tomorrow, which is next year and getting our economy back on track.

HAYES: Let me -- let me follow up on that because I wonder sometimes how much the basic meat and potatoes, in some cases almost boring policy -- and I say boring in sort of quotes, right, of what Donald Trump has done and what Joe Biden is proposing. What the Republican Party has done and what the Democrats have done is penetrating. Like, do voters in Minnesota know that Donald Trump is trying to kill ObamaCare? Do they know that there are some massive tax cut for the richest people, that they're rolling back environmental regulations that protect things like clean water? These are all -- these aren't like the things of the tweets, they're not the stuff that's on the nightly news, but is that knowledge about the basic policy agenda, common knowledge in your state?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I believe that it is. There was just a poll today, Morning Console poll depends - despite all of Donald Trump's rhetoric that shows Joe Biden up seven points in the state of Minnesota. And this is after, of course, Hillary had a very narrow win back in 2016. And as you point out, I have won several races by big margins, and I think that's because people do listen to the facts. And They know what he's up to here.

And I thought one of the things that was so powerful for what Joe Biden did for independent voters out there and in addition to having a convention that featured many Republican speakers. I mean, he said yesterday, rioting -- this is Joe Biden, rioting is not protesting, looting, is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It's lawlessness, plain and simple, and those who do it should be prosecuted.

So, I am sick and tired of having Donald Trump go out there and act like he's big Mr. Law Enforcement when all of this is happening on his watch. And in fact, he has fomented and stoked this chaos that brought us to where we are today.

HAYES: Senator Amy Klobuchar there in the delightful city of Minneapolis which is delightful this time of the year and will quickly become very, very cold. It's great to see you tonight. Thank you.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, no. We'd still invite you back when it's cold. We like it when it's cold too. Thank you.

HAYES: Thank you, Senator. Coming up, chaos and incitement as campaign strategy. What happened when the President showed up in Kenosha, next.


HAYES: The President traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin today not cheaply offer message of empathy or compassion for all those who have been so upset by what's happened at the city, not to call for unity or to healing, not to meet with the family of Jacob Blake, of course, the black man shot seven times in the back by a police officer. Instead, Donald Trump was there to put his thumb on the scales to champion on one side in a culture war.

Because the President thinks these scenes you're seeing of his presidency, unrest, dystopic scenes on the street that horrify most Americans, that those scenes are politically beneficial to him. Whether it's assaulting peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square for a photo op in front of a church, sending federal law enforcement in Portland to gas and detain protesters, defending the 17-year-old charged with two counts of murder for shooting and killing protesters in Kenosha, the President is seeking to sow discord all across the country.

To get a better understanding of how this is impacting Wisconsin, I'm joined by someone who grew up in Kenosha, Congressman Mark Pocan. He's a Democrat of Wisconsin. He now represents that state's second district which is west of Kenosha. Congressman, good to have you on tonight. What --as someone who's from Kenosha and knows it well, and has strong connection on that place, what was your reaction the president going there today?

REP. MARK POCAN (D-WI): Well, we were very concerned because what the town needs right now are conciliatory remarks, unifying remarks, remarks that recognize an African-American man was shot seven times in the back in front of his children. And then Trump's supporting vigilante killed two protesters, and yet you don't see any of that recognition coming from this president.

What you see is him trying to use it as a political tool to talk about law and order when in reality, in Donald Trump's America, we have chaos and disorder because that's exactly what Donald Trump wants. He wants people to think he's the only one who can fix it. And in reality, you know, what happened here is largely due to the President's rhetoric over the last three and a half years.

HAYES: What do you mean by that?

POCAN: Well, it's -- you know, the President has been baiting every racist, every vigilante, militia. He seems to support anyone who stands for this narrow view that Donald Trump has and his supporters have of America. The problem is that doesn't include African-Americans and Latinos and women, and you know, just about anyone else that doesn't fit this very cookie-cutter definition of what the President wants to say is America or at least his supporters in America.

He's never tried to unify the country like every other president. You know, once you're elected, as Joe Biden said, you represent everyone, even the people who don't vote for you. And Donald Trump has never done that in the three and a half years he's been president. He just continues to race bait and use that type of, you know, rhetoric to fan the flames of hatred.

And what we see in the gentlemen who shot two people -- and you know, just so you know, my mother is 91. Her best friend who recently passed was the grandmother of one of those two people that was shot, Anthony Huber. You know, this is a small town still. And when this kind of thing happens, you know, you really realize it.

Chris, the fire that took down the one building of the Danish brotherhood, next door was where my mom and dad had their businesses where now the roof is gone and and partially burned. I used to make magic tricks for high school in the back room of that building. So, you know, the connections to Kenosha are very close.

And you know, people in Kenosha are really good-hearted people. They're not hyper-political. And for the President to come and just use a political message about law and order when he's the one who's created this sort of chaos and disorder, it just really shows how out of touch he is. He wasn't prepared for the job when he got elected. He's still not prepared for the job, and that's why we need a change.

HAYES: I'm curious how this is all filtered through the local media there because there's, you know, there -- I mean, we shouldn't say that, you know, I think there's 25 buildings that have suffered some damage in Kenosha. There has been fairly widespread destruction that has happened there and looting as well. There are, of course, there's Jacob Blake who's still in a hospital as I speak to you right now. There are two men shot and killed by that -- allegedly by that 17-year-old who came from out of state to do it.

I mean, there's a lot of pain and destruction in that city in Kenosha. How is that been filtering to your constituents to folks in Wisconsin? What is the story there? How are you hearing people talk about it when you talk to the folks that you represent?

POCAN: Yes, I think it's just a concern about this president, that he seems to love chaos, whether it be the chaos that he's created around not dealing with COVID-19 and the fact that our state can't get testing supplies and PPE in order to be where we should be for testing. The chaos that he's created by 100,000 small businesses who have closed down because he hasn't handled COVID, the chaos he's created around racial tensions.

I mean, these are all things that he seems to thrive in, but people in Wisconsin don't. You know, we thrive in taking care of our families, you know, making sure you can pay your mortgage, support your family, take a family vacation. That's what we are. We're really common people just like most people across the country.

And what Donald Trump's about is very political, it's this messaging, and it's this chaos, again, that he just creates over and over. And I think, you know, people in Wisconsin are more worried about armed vigilantes in militia walking streets than they are about this manufactured, you know, people who are out to tear apart our communities.

The people who are tearing apart, our communities are largely urged and encouraged by President Trump and that's the problem.

HAYES: We should note that national polling has recently given Biden higher marks on handling things like race relations and crime and safety up by nine points. His polling -- the latest ABC-Washington Post poll on race relations, he's up, you know, a tremendous amount, 25 points, I believe.

There's a lot of concern about your state being a swing state. The polling average now has Biden up, but we all remember what happened last time. What is your sense of where things are in your state right now politically?

POCAN: You know, we're a purple state, right? We're always going to have a close election when it comes to the presidential election, but a number of things are working to our advantage. In 2016, we had about a 200 to 250,000 Democratic voter drop off. Hillary Clinton never came to our state, she put no resources in our state, and kind of ignored it, and we saw the turnout because of it.

In 2018, we not only elected every state constitutional officer in the Democratic column, but in the city of Madison, in my district, we had 93 percent turnout. So, we figured out how to make sure we took care of this. So, I think we're going to -- if we get people to turnout, and I think we've got the tools to do that, we will be in good shape.

Donald Trump lied to people about bringing jobs back to America. And in Kenosha, when I was growing up, 14,000 people made cars, no one does today, so those things really mattered. We're number one of the nations for dairy farm bankruptcies, so people -- 800 alone last year -- people are feeling that.

There's a lot of things Donald Trump promised, never came true. And now he's just trying to scare them into backing him again. And, you know, people in Wisconsin are good people. They get what he's doing and what he's not doing. And I don't think his message is going to fool people this time.

HAYES: All right, Congressman Mark Pocan there in Wisconsin, thank you so much.

POCAN: Sure. Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Still ahead, how present picked up a right-wing Facebook rumor and broadcast it as fact twice. That's coming up.


HAYES: So, it turns out that conducting a cringingly obsequious interview with President Trump is actually harder than it looks. And that is because even if you just want to offer him a series of easy questions so we can put himself in the best light, Trump cannot help but say outrageous and offensive things.

Last night, in an hour-long interview, Trump TV's Laura Ingraham was basically a little league coach standing two feet in front of her child telling him, OK, get ready to swing now, and she had to keep helping the president with great effort. And she still could not stop him from saying a string of totally offensive and untrue things.

Here she is repeatedly trying to get Trump to hit his own talking points about law enforcement and protesters.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows how weak he is.

INGRAHAM: Your response to the vice president, sir.

TRUMP: Look, he's a weak person. He's been weak all his life, but now he's really weak. He shouldn't be running for president. He should not be there.

INGRAHAM: But do you want your supporters to confront the left-wing protesters or do you want to leave it to law enforcement?

TRUMP: No. No, I want to. I want to leave it to law enforcement. But my supporters are wonderful, hardworking, tremendous people.


HAYES: The "but" there is so great. Yes, a "but." A little while later she tried to give Trump a chance to make his pitch to women voters, only to watch him immediately step on the opportunity.


INGRAHAM: Let's say for the sake of argument, you have a deficit among female voters who may be in some cases, you're too aggressive, your tone, or your tweets, what do you say to them directly about what you'll do in a second term?

TRUMP: OK. I have to be aggressive because I'm like standing here in a sea of incompetent people, stupid people, and violent people, very violent people.

INGRAHAM: But that's the kind of language, "stupid people."

TRUMP: That's OK.

INGRAHAM: A lot of women don't like that.


HAYES: You see, ladies, I got all these stupid idiots around me. What's not to like about my tone? It's so close. Trump's real issues came with the conversation turned to issues of class and race, but Laura Ingraham was quick to come again to his rescue.


TRUMP: They were trying to destroy the suburban beautiful place, the American dream, really. They want to low income housing. And with that comes a lot of other problems, including crime. It may not be nice to say but I'll say it.

INGRAHAM: You're not saying all these people are criminals, though.

TRUMP: No, I'm not saying that at all. But it does -- there is a level of violence that you don't see. Shooting the guy in the back many times, I mean, couldn't you have done something different? Couldn't he have wrestled? You know, I mean, in the meantime, he might have been going for a weapon and, you know, there's a whole big thing there. But they choke, just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three foot --

INGRAHAM: You're not comparing it to golf because, of course, that's what the media is --

TRUMP: No, I'm saying, people choke.


HAYES: No, no, no, that's exactly what he's doing, Laura. He is comparing it to golf. The President did just compare police shooting an unarmed black man in the back to missing a putt in golf. But probably the craziest thing Trump said in this interview was is utterly bizarre conspiracy theory about some thugs in black on the plane. Laura Ingraham asked him for the source of that claim. Trump said he would tell her later.

Well, today, NBC News Ben Collins found what appears to be the source of that story, and he joins me next.



INGRAHAM: Who do you think is rolling Biden's strings? Is it former Obama?

TRUMP: People that you've never heard of, people that are in the dark shadows, people that --

INGRAHAM: What does that mean? That sounds like conspiracy theory, a dark shadow. What is that?

TRUMP: No, people that you haven't heard of. They're people that are on the streets, 1there are people that are controlling the streets. We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend. And in the plane it was almost completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that. They're on a plane.

INGRAHAM: Where's the --

TRUMP: I'll tell you some time but it's under investigation right now.


HAYES: The President of the United States sounding like someone you would frankly move very quickly away from at a family gathering, talking about people in the dark shadows that control Joe Biden and travel by commercial airplane dressed in all black to take over American cities. Normal stuff. Asked this morning by reporters to elaborate, the man with the nuclear clones -- codes explained.


TRUMP: A person who was on a plane said that there were about six people like that person, more or less. And what happened is the entire plane filled up with the looters, the anarchists, the rioters, people that obviously were looking for trouble. And the person felt very uncomfortable in the plane. This would be a person you know, so I will see whether or not I can get that person. I'll let them know and I'll see whether or not I can get that person to speak to you.


HAYES: Oh, yes, maybe we'll just get the source for this who was on the plane with tons of looters and rioters. It turns out there's a strong possibility the President got suckered by a month-old internet rumor that's been making the rounds among right-wing paranoid Facebook users that claims Antifa is coming to your town. And now the President is mounting this rumor repeatedly as if it were intelligence he's being briefed on.

Joining me now, the reporter who tracked down the apparent origins of this rumor, Ben Collins, who covers disinformation and extremism for NBC News. When I first heard it, I thought to myself, I bet you, Ben will figure this out, and you have. So, where does -- where does this appear to come from this idea, this story?

BEN COLLINS, REPORTER, NBC NEWS: So, there's a guy in Emmett, Idaho who said that he had just got off a plane in Boise, and there were people on boarding this plane from Seattle to Boise. And basically, he then says what the president says. They're flat in black, they're geared up, and everybody should get armed and ready for them to take over the town.

And that's sort of the dangerous part here, right, where it's not just like this kooky little conspiracy theory. In a lot of these towns across the United States, people were armed and going down to town centers, town squares, and protecting buildings that they heard on Facebook, or next door, or in text messages were about to get taken down by Antifa.

HAYES: Yes, you've got -- I mean, you've got the -- so the Facebook rumor is that that, you know, a guy saying that he saw a dozen males get off a plane from Boise to Seattle dressed head to toe, backpacks only. One, I like this, had a tattoo that said Antifa America on his arm, and he says there are people watching, will keep us informed. Heads on a swivel watch your six, watch your back, and carry heavy, meaning, you know, have weapons.

To Payette County Sheriff's had to dispel the rumor of the planeload of Antifa protester landing to Boise, but you've got people showing up arms. Like, this is what Kyle Rittenhouse did in an actual protest showing up armed because they are being told on rumors that there's like an Antifa invasion. Now, the president is parroting that.

COLLINS: Yes, that's exactly right. And another scary part of this whole thing is that as this got picked up on Facebook, and people started iterating on it, one of the biggest versions of this on Facebook was from the Three Percenters which is a far-right militia group who said the same thing. you know, you guys got to get armed, you guys got to get ready for this thing.

So, we know that to be your recruiting tool from white supremacist groups generally. They take these -- they take protests and they say, you know, it's us versus them. We have to get moving here. And look, it's really easy to laugh at this whole idea that like Antifa is taking over an airline and all this stuff. It's very -- it's funny. It's a stupid thought. It's not very -- it's not well coordinated.

You know, the idea that Antifa would dress in uniform and all wear tattoos. Again, the Plain Dealer is bad, but this is corrupting the intelligence pipeline to the President. The President is spending time talking about this instead of actual intelligence threats, of which we have -- we have many right now. It's a -- it's a real serious issue.

HAYES: Yes. And it's also -- there's something that's really, really, really sinister happening. It is becoming an article of faith in the right past the president, that the protests we're seeing are coordinated by some shadowy figure. Sometimes they say it's Soros. Here's -- I want to play you Rand Paul, and then Tucker Carlson, Chad Wolf talking about this basically pushing this same conspiracy theory. Take a listen.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): My feeling is there's interstate criminal traffic being paid for across state lines. They flew here on a plane, they've all got fresh new clothes, and they were paid to be here. It is a crime to do that and it needs to be traced. The FBI needs to investigate.

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Why haven't we seen the leaders of Antifa and BLM arrested and charged for conspiracy under say RICO, like the heads of the mafia families were?

CHAD WOLF, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, it's just something I've talked to the A.G. personally about, and I know that they are working on it. The Department of Justice is also targeting and investigating the head of these organizations.


HAYES: I mean, that's a -- that's a take a step back. That is why is the state not arresting and prosecuting dissidents as if they were mafia. And then you have Chad Wolf saying, I have talked to the attorney general about it.

COLLINS: Yes, it's also a fundamental misunderstanding of what Antifa is. Antifa is like a -- it's a series of things that -- it's a collection of people that don't have -- they don't go to -- there's no monarch of Antifa or something that you can go and arrest, and then it's all over. That doesn't work like that.

HAYES: Right.

COLLINS: And that's the thing is that intelligence officials know this. This is a -- this is not -- on the internet, there is a different conception of what Antifa is and what BLM is. And while the president is not on Facebook, and the President is not spending his days on Twitter, and 4chan, and right-wing blogs, and stuff like that, well, he might be spending on Twitter, the stuff goes upstream. It gets to him.

And then he gets this entirely different version of reality that is not in an Intel brief somewhere, it's from a right-wing blog. And that's the sort of thing that he's talking about. That's the sort of thing that he's trying to tamp down. If he really wants to quell the unrest, he can start by dealing with facts and not these conspiracy theories.

HAYES: Ben Collins who does great reporting on this area, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

COLLINS: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, the mini-stroke mystery and the President's obsessive defense of his own health. That's next.


HAYES: There is no better way to get people to start asking questions about your health than to out of nowhere deny that you have had a stroke or a series of them. Yet, that's what the President did today, "They're trying to say that your favorite president, me, went to Walter Reed Medical Center having suffered a series of mini-strokes. This never happened to this candidate. Fake news."

It's not totally clear where this came from. But remember that weird unscheduled visit Trump made to Walter Reed last year with the White House played down and never really explained. In a new book, New York Times Reporter Michael Schmidt reports that in the hours leading up to Trump's Walter Reed visit, word went out in the West Wing for the vice president to be on standby to take over the powers of the presidency temporarily if Trump had to undergo a procedure that would have required him to be anesthetized. Pence said today he didn't recall being told to stand by.

Now, all throughout this campaign, the president and his supporters have been wildly deceptively, almost slanderous about Joe Biden's mental and physical health. They have also been obsessively neurotically defensive to the point of like weird discomfort about the President's own basic physical and cognitive abilities.

And from Trump's long riffs about how he could walk down a ramp, after video showed him very gingerly leaving a stage, to him demonstrating he can successfully drink a glass of water to adoring cheers from the crowd after he had obviously struggled to do that to an infamous interview where just apropos nothing he went on a long, painful tangent about how he passed a test designed to detect dementia, including recreating elements of said test.


TRUMP: Like a memory question. It's like you'll go person, woman, man, camera, T.V. So, let's say, could you repeat that? So, I said, yes, so it's person, woman, man, camera T.V. OK, that's very good. If you get it in order, you get extra points.


HAYES: Just unbelievably impressive, your favorite president there. Now, the fact of the matter is this. This President has been less transparent about his health and fitness than any president in history. And now, even the conservative Drudge reporter is wondering what is going on, plastering his front page with Trump's denial today, as well as a link to a video of Trump dragging his right leg oddly during event in North Carolina in July.

Drudge also pointing to a moment where Trump seemed to lose his balance on Friday while climbing onto a platform for a rally and then sort of made a joke about it. For more on that, I'm joined now by Asawin Suebsaeng who's the White House Reporter for The Daily Beast.

Truly bizarre day today. And I have to say like, I remember the Walter Reed thing happened, and it seemed weird. It seemed like they were probably hiding something. But now I'm like, what is going on? The obsessiveness of the denials itself are very weird, don't you think?

ASAWIN SUEBSAENG, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Right. And again, I want to be very clear, I am -- I'm not a doctor, I don't have an M.D. I'm not here to play armchair psychiatrist or psychologist or therapist to anybody, but it is objectively true that when it comes to this White House and this particular president, they go gung ho on emphasizing over and over and over again that President Trump's brains are OK and not bleeding out of his ears whenever he talks in public.

It reminds me a little bit of when you're in high school and the guy who goes around the cafeteria insisting that he can kick the butt of anybody who challenged into a fight, but you know, he's a paper tiger and we'll just fold immediately. It's sort of similar when the President goes around as well saying that he is the least racist person you've ever met. It's obviously not true.

And he insists on doing the exact same thing where he goes balls to the wall to say that there's absolutely nothing wrong with these his brain, and that Joe Biden is a doddering old, senile man, but he is a sharp as a 21-year-old.

I'll give you an example. Privately to this day, after all these months, the President still spends an inordinate amount of time according to sources we talked to in the West Wing, going around the White House criticizing New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman for accusing him of having Parkinson's disease.

Now, I do not think Maggie Haberman has ever once done that, but is something the President fixates on and not stand anybody thinking that his brain isn't perfect.

HAYES: No. Yes, that is -- that is the bizarreness here. I mean, him entering into the discourse, the phrase mini-strokes and saying, like, just out of nowhere today, like I didn't have a series of strokes, like, I never had a stroke, not even one stroke, no stroke. Like, OK, whatever.

I mean -- and then you combine that with like the actual record here, I think it's worth to just sort of trace this back. And remember the President's lawyer back on the campaign, there was a weird news cycle on this. Dr. Bornstein in December 2015, he wrote this letter saying the President will be the healthiest individual ever elected the presidency. He later went on to say that Trump dictated that. And then, there was a weird story where the doctor said that the bodyguard and lawyer raided his office and took all the medical files.

So, there's -- there has been very weird behavior around the president's, you know, medical records from all the way back in the campaign through this sort of weird, conflicting stories that came about Walter Reed.

SUEBSAENG: Oh, absolutely. And for the president, if he isn't invincible on this front, then he might as well not having the debate. Now, a normal president, perhaps even a (INAUDIBLE) president might just shut up about it for five seconds. But look, he sends some of his top lieutenants including former top national security intelligence official Rick Grinnell out there.

And perhaps Rick Grinnell is employed throwing himself on a grenade at his own volition to say that, of course, Angela Merkel found Trump incredibly charming. Any reports to the contrary is absolute fake news. And the fact that any foreign dignitary or official couldn't find this president to be one of the most charming people they've ever met is absolutely bonkers, nonsense.

Patently on its face, false and ridiculous, but the president needs minions to go out there and keep pressing this point. The same thing goes for his mental health. Again, if he just stopped talking about it for a while, people would write fewer articles about it, but he can't help bringing on the Streisand effect because of Donald J. Trump.

HAYES: Well, and because -- and there's an interesting thing happening here, which is that Drudge and Alex Jones and a bunch of people started attacking Hillary around this time last year baselessly saying that she was sick, she was infirmed, that she was covering up some kind of illness. And now you have Drudge doing the same thing to Trump. You know, oh, here's a video of him slurring his words here. Here he's dragging his leg. He's struggling to walk on a ramp. He's struggling to drink a glass of water. They're looking almost, you know, tips over there. What's up with the Walter Reed?

Like, all of this sort of innuendo, this insidious innuendo that was done to Hillary Clinton four years ago, now turning on Trump, and clearly driving him a little crazy, because he tweeted angrily, Trump today.

SUEBSAENG: Right and look, like, again, to reiterate what I said earlier, I'm not here to diagnose anybody. It would not be appropriate for me to do so. But if we were to apply the standard that Donald Trump has applied to himself to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden and other politicians, according to President Trump, it's fair game. So, it's entirely getting a firehose full of his own medicine.

HAYES: Yes, and that's -- this has been a theme with Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden of the right-wing media and Trump questioning the mental and physical fitness of people all the time for the last four years. It continues now, except now he's on the wrong side of it. Asawin Suebsaeng, always great to talk to you, thank you so much.

SUEBSAENG: Thank you.

HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Tuesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now with a big guest tonight. Good evening, Rachel.


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