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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, September 10, 2020

Guests: Kathleen Sebelius, Symone Sanders, Joel Schectman, Charlie Warzel


President Trump continues his COVID disinformation campaign a day after being exposed for deceiving Americans. A bar rescue bill from Congress may be needed to stop the spread of Coronavirus. Microsoft believes the Russians hacked Clinton in 2016 is not targeting the Biden Campaign. The American west is being ravaged by a record fire season.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Yes. Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, it's fascinating. Look, thank you so much for being here tonight. And that is tonight's REIDOUT. Thank you, ma'am, very much. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you lie to the American people and why should we trust what you have to say?


HAYES: A president confronted with his own cover-up just keeps lying. Tonight, the ongoing campaign of deception, a new warning about the fall from Dr. Fauci. And is a national bar bailout the key to stemming the spread of COVID?

Then, the Trump administration caught politicizing intelligence on Russian election interference amid a new report today the Russians tried to hack the Biden campaign.

And why the largest fire in California's history is another national wake-up call on the climate catastrophe when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York. I'm Chris Hayes. The President has spent the last six years both in and out of office, stoking fear and panic about everything from Ebola to Antifa. So it's a bit much to hear him say that the reason that he lied to Americans repeatedly about the deadly severity of the coronavirus was because he didn't want to panic people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- downplaying it again, because you said you downplay it.

TRUMP: All I'm doing is -- no, I don't want to jump up and down and start screaming death, death, because that's not what it's about.


HAYES: Jumping up and down screaming death, death is basically the Trump 2020 campaign slogan. I mean, look, when we're talking about the Coronavirus, this wasn't some asteroid heading towards Earth that we couldn't stop and what's the use of people getting all worked up and their last moments? No, there was a lot we could have done.

In fact, people understanding the risk was key to doing the things we needed to do. Other countries did those things, but we didn't. And now close 200,000 Americans are dead and Donald Trump and his defenders are spinning pathetically, trying to sell some other version of what we all saw and heard with our own eyes, what we've all experienced for six months, or last night, just pretending it didn't happen.


LOU DOBBS, HOST, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK: Good evening, everybody. President Trump today had a great day, a day that any president could only dream of. President Trump started off the day with a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. That nomination comes weeks after President Trump brokered a historic peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. It's an achievement that is alluded every president every administration since the founding of Israel in 1948.


HAYES: Basically, anyone can be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, just FYI. That thing you saw there from Lou Dobbs is ridiculous and kind of sad and cringy for a lot of reasons, but that's one of the presentations T.V. shows, so maybe that's why he went right back to playing down the crisis today.


TRUMP: You don't hear the statistics, but the United States has done really well. I'm very proud of everybody that worked on this. And I really do believe we're rounding the corner.


HAYES: More than 1,000 American deaths were recorded yesterday from the virus, four times the number of deaths in the E.U. and U.K. combined, and he says we're rounding the corner. Here, by contrast, is Dr. Anthony Fauci this morning.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I just think we need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter because it's not going to be easy. We know every time we restrict -- we lift restrictions, we get a blip.


HAYES: It's not going to be easy. The President is still trying to run roughshod over public health experts and scientists in the interest of short term political gain, even if it gets people killed, which it has, which it still is at a rate of about 800 lives a day. He's directing officials across the country to ignore public health advice. He's pressuring the FDA to advocate for unproven treatments and potentially approve a vaccine before trials are finished so he could roll it out before Election Day.

His administration intervened to get the CDC to change its testing guidance to say people exposed to the virus may not need to be tested, seemingly because Trump wanted, remember, the number of cases to go down. And now, Politico reports that a Trump administration official at HHS is trying to prevent Dr. Fauci from discussing the risks the virus poses to children, as Trump aggressively pushes for schools to reopen.

Trump administration appointing Paul Alexander -- remember that name? Paul Alexander e-mailed to Fauci's press team, "Can you ensure Dr. Fauci indicates masks are for the teachers in schools, not for children. There is no data, none, zero across the entire world that shows children, especially young children, spread this virus to other children or to adults or their teachers." That's not true.That's absolutely false. It's wildly irresponsible. The data is unclear in certain ways, but we know that children can spread it. Just ask, for instance, the 260 children and staff at a Georgia overnight camp who tested positive for the virus.

But the thing is the deadly cover-up, it's revealed on that Woodward tape, the one that we found out about yesterday, is still happening right now as I speak to you. To really understand the gravity of all this, I want to bring in Kathleen Sebelius who served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama.

It's great to have you on again. And I guess I'll start today with something that has been consistent for six months, and that is the president saying we're rounding the corner while Dr. Anthony Fauci tells us to hunker down for a difficult fall and winter.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, FORMER SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Let's start with this. Believe Tony Fauci. We know the President is a liar. He started lying the day he was inaugurated about the crowd size and he has consistently lied to the American public. The Bob Woodward tape is chilling because not only does the President in his own words, acknowledge that he absolutely understood the gravity of the disease, understood how different it was from the flu, understood what the death rates could be, but lied to the public.

But in addition to that, Chris, I think -- I think we get to talk about, he never used the muscle of the federal government to do what he could have and should have done at that point in February, mobilize a massive testing campaign nationally, mobilize the production and gathering of PPE and save lives in nursing homes across this country. Mobilize the will of the American public to take some tough medicine and withdraw from interaction with one another and get the virus down to the point that we could not only protect vulnerable citizens, but build testing capacity and tracing capacity. So, when we reemerge, we would be able to effectively do contact tracing. None of that was done.

So, we're approaching 200,000 deaths. And most of those are, I think, directly related to what this president refused to do. We don't need a cheerleader. We needed a commander in chief to put in place and national response. That's what every successful country has done. And that's what the United States has absolutely failed to do.

HAYES: I want to ask specifically about the ways in which political pressure has overridden technical expertise. And that that e-mail to me by that gentleman, Paul Alexander, Paul Alexander is his name. He's an appointee who's working for the President and telling Fauci wrongly in an e-mail that there's zero evidence anywhere in the world of child transmission is just, it's so dangerous. I mean, that you have this person telling Dr. Anthony Fauci what to tell people about what the science says about transmission.

SEBELIUS: Well, again, I find it stunning. I have no idea why anyone within HHS is trying to contain or control what the public health officials should be telling the American public. They have really eroded the trust that the public should have in public health. They've eroded the ability of health officials to step out.

The good news is nobody's going to tell Tony Fauci what he should or should not say. They can block him from appearances which they clearly have done over and over again, but if he gets asked a question, Anthony Fauci will tell you the truth, tell you what he knows and what he doesn't know and do it in a very direct fashion. That's what is very threatening to this administration.

And I think the fact that some bureaucrat at HHS is trying to suggest what Tony Fauci should and should not be saying and is giving him directly contrary information to what we know the science says is completely dangerous and outrageous.

HAYES: Yes, I would note bureaucrat is to laudatory a term here. This is not a member of civil service people of expertise. This is just a political hack. This is just a cons person who got thrown in there. I mean, you know, like Rudy Giuliani's son.

SEBELIUS: We have -- we have unbelievable public servants in the departments throughout HHS. I worked with them every day and I admire their expertise greatly. So, I should not have used that term in a derogatory fashion. This is a political hack.

HAYES: I just want to make that distinction. And the thing that I worry about, again, we've gone through this twice now, right? Like, we have the lockdown, shelter in place, much of the country doing that. A push to open up with the president opening up, first few weeks looked OK, even for six or seven weeks, then we had that awful, awful outbreak through the Sunbelt in the summer. Tens of thousands of Americans died in that.

We now have the cases coming down again. And we have Trump today on New York City indoor dining. He's saying they're reopening September 30 at 25 percent capacity, a step in the right direction but should go faster. So, he wants more people to move faster. And then we also have this, the testing is once again in this country, and I can't even believe I'm saying this slowing down.

Robinson Meyer who tracks this at the Atlantic says there are caveats and other possible factors. But ultimately, here's the fact pattern. Trump has said repeatedly he wants to slow down testing. He interfered with CDC policy in ways that would slow down testing. And now testing is now slowing down. Are we unprepared for what the fall is bringing right now?

SEBELIUS: We're absolutely unprepared. I live in a college community. The kids have come back. Terrifying most of us in the community with what is going on. Their sororities and fraternities are on lockdown. There are football players who have been identified with COVID and they're on quarantine.

K.U. did a good job of initially testing everybody. We -- the Chancellor is a medical doctor. He understands how important this is. We're dealing with a local lab that can do one-time test. But that's it. There are not clear plans for what happens if you really need to pivot to online learning for everybody.

There's not clear plans for what happens if you send all these kids home and many of them are infected, who then began to circulate it in communities around the country. I don't blame the university. I think the university here and across the country are trying to do their best job in these very precarious situations. But we still don't have a national testing plan.

We don't have enough tests. We don't have the rapid turnaround test that everybody needs. And we have a president who continues to insist despite what the public health officials would tell you about positivity rates needing to be the guide for opening up that we have to put everybody back in enclosed spaces side by side, which we'll know will cause outbreaks.

HAYES: Former HHS Secretary and Governor of Kansas Kathleen Sebelius there from Lawrence, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

SEBELIUS: Good to be with you.

HAYES: For a look at how the Biden administration would handle this crisis, I want to bring in Symone Sanders, Senior Advisor to the Biden campaign. And Symone, it's great to have you. I want to start with some -- I've seen some folks saying well, you know, in February and January, the Democrats were all over the place on this too and they weren't paying much attention.

I have to -- I have to point out as a matter of the record, back in October, you have -- October, before we even have COVID, you have Vice President Biden tweeting about how we're unprepared and the Trump ministration is unprepared for a pandemic. "Trump has rolled back progress President Obama and I made to strengthen global health security. We need leadership that builds public trust, focuses on real threats and mobilize the world to stop outbreaks before they reach our shores."

And then vice president authoring an op-ed in January about COVID. Ron Klain, one of his senior advisors, as well in the Atlantic. What has it been like to watch this unfold from your perspective, and what is the Vice President think needs to be done now?

SYMONE SANDERS, SENIOR ADVISOR, BIDEN CAMPAIGN: It is baffling Chris. But frankly, it's infuriating. And I hope Americans heard Vice President Biden yesterday. He was in Michigan, in Warren, Michigan, talking about this very issue. Obviously, as soon as the news hit, he adjusted his remarks to address this at the top.

Because the reality is, we're now at the point where 100 -- more than 190,000 Americans are dead, dead from a virus frankly, Chris, that the president knew what's so dangerous at the same time that he was telling Americans that it was no worse than the common flu. You know, what's -- what is I think most egregious about the tapes that we heard from Bob Woodward and the President yesterday, though, is in fact that at the same time, I remember that President Trump was giving China a pass.

He was saying that, you know, President Xi Jinping knew what he was doing at the same time, he knew that what he was saying to the American people was a lie. I think that matters most, Chris, because currently we are -- we're having this conversation via Zoom whereas in other times, we might actually be in studio together.

There are parents and children and teachers and folks that are critical to the economy of the school who are trying to figure out remote learning. There are parents who today sent their children -- made the decision to send their children to schools where they don't know if they're safe. And there are other families that have had to juggle working from home or not having the ability to have childcare and not going to work at all, while helping their children through remote learning, making classrooms in their living rooms and their kitchens and their bedroom and corners of their bedrooms.

The knowledge that Donald Trump had in January and February could have made a difference for the American people right now.

HAYES: One of the devastating consequences here, and I want to focus on this because it's a very clear policy question, is health insurance, right? So, two things to keep in mind. One is that the uninsured rate before COVID -- so 2019, we're getting the data now -- it went off about 33 million. 10 percent lacked health insurance as an uptick of about a percent from 2018. We know that probably that partly has to do with the taking away the individual mandate that the Trump administration did.

And now that's pre-COVID. Now, we have tens of millions of people lost their job and severed the relationship between health insurance. What is the plan should Joe Biden be elected to repair that patchwork that has been so terribly rent asunder?

SANDERS: Well, Chris, look, Vice President Biden has talked about his health care plan at length throughout the course of the primary and throughout the general election. And Biden care would build on the success of the Affordable Care Act, but it will also provide for Medicare-like public option, so that folks who are not currently covered could get covered. Right now, in states with that they were they have failed to expand Medicaid, folks who are eligible for Medicaid right now under Joe Biden's health care plan would be automatically enrolled.

You know, Chris, I just think it is -- it is a grievous that in the midst of a pandemic, the President is currently in court, his lawyers are currently in court trying to take away healthcare protections for millions of Americans. They're in court right now trying to invalidate the fact that pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act are covered, and insurance companies have to cover that.

I think about all these folks who have gotten Coronavirus and folks who have survived that virus what is the health care impact on those people. I think about folks who don't currently have access to care. What is the impact on those folks if President Trump prevails? So, this is really -- we're living through economic devastation. This is a public health crisis. And to be clear, Donald Trump didn't cause this, but his mismanagement of the crises and his deliberate attempt to sabotage health care for millions of Americans should not go unnoticed or unchecked.

HAYES: Final question -- final question for you, the perspective of the Biden campaign and Vice President Biden on where we are in terms of the deficit and austerity and things like that. So, we know that Vice President Biden, I think, endorsed the Heroes Act that was passed several trillions of dollars of rescue funds from the house. He stands for health for states and municipalities.

There was this quote by Ted Kaufman who's a very old and senior adviser to Vice President Biden about a month ago, saying, "When we get in, if they win, the pantry is going to be bare. When you see Trump's done to the deficit, forget about COVID-19, all the deficits he built the incredible tax cuts. So, we're going to be limited." There were some walk back of that.

And I guess my question is, is it the position of the Biden campaign that deficits are not the issue right now or do you see deficits as a huge constraint should Joe Biden be elected?

SANDERS: So Chris, I think Americans out there, folks listening can take Vice President Biden at his word, and that he is going to do what is necessary to get this country back on track and to not just build it back, but build back better than we were before, and create a more equitable society across the board.

You talked about the Heroes Act. And you know, Speaker Pelosi passed that Heroes Act more than 115 days ago at this point. And I know that there was a vote in the Senate today on a bill that was not a bipartisan bill. You know, Vice President Biden, before he was vice president, before he was a candidate for president of the United States, he was a United States senator.

So, he understands that in this case, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents that serve have to come together and do what's best for the American people. There are folks right now, who are wondering how they're going to pay their bills. You know, the rent was due on September 1st, and it will be due again on October 1st, and there are people who still haven't paid their rent from two to three months ago.

So, I think and our campaigns position is that folks really have to be about the business of doing what's best for the American people. And you can trust that Joe Biden will keep his word if and when, frankly, when he is elected president to do just that.

HAYES: All right, Symone Sanders from the Joe Biden campaign, thank you so much for making some time with us tonight.

SANDERS: Thank you so much.

HAYES: Next, could Congress send financial relief to bars help stop the spread of Coronavirus this fall? I'll explain after this.


HAYES: There is no one simple trick for fighting the Coronavirus, but there are definitely things that help a lot, like for instance, not opening up bars. You'll remember, the first thing that Arizona and Texas did back in the midsummer when they have those terrible outbreaks was to shut down bars. They didn't want to do it, but they were forced to. It's also what Tuscaloosa did when it had an outbreak as kids returned to University of Alabama. They did it for two weeks, open them back up, we'll see how that goes. It's also what White House adviser Dr. Deborah Birx has told multiple states to do whenever their Coronavirus numbers spike.

But for local elected officials, this is a big problem because what happens to all the bar owners and their landlords and perhaps most importantly, many of the 9.6 million food service workers who make a little more than $24,000 a year on average. If you shut down the bars for how long -- who knows how long, what are all those people supposed to do?

As a new NBC News piece points out, with no help coming from the federal government right now, states face a difficult choice. Open the businesses most likely to spread the Coronavirus, especially bars and restaurants or keep them closed and risk a wave of bankruptcies. One of the co-authors of that piece, NBC News policy editor Benjy Sarlin joins me now.

It's a great piece, Benjy, it's something I've been thinking about a lot and we've been talking about. I just did a podcast with a friend mine who owns a restaurant in Chicago on why is this happening in our podcasts about the difficulty of getting through this period. So, explain the public health conundrum here. Like, what do we know now about bars, in particular, with bars and restaurants and the role they play in the spread of COVID?

BENJY SARLIN, NBC NEWS POLICY EDITOR: Well, the recommendation from public health experts including, as you mentioned, from the White House, has pretty much been consistent for months. Indoor spaces tend to be riskier than outdoor spaces. And bars and indoor dining are particularly risky because they're often they're a long time talking to each other without masks because you're eating or drinking. If you're drinking, you might be less inhibited. And there's just more ways for the virus to spread.

And so not surprisingly, we've both seen a lot of outbreaks associated with bars, indoor dining or similar social gatherings. And we've seen a lot of responses to them in which there's recommendations that hey, you should shut these things down or you should impose severe restrictions on them so that it's not easy for large crowds to congregate and spread this.

Now, the problem, of course, is what happens to those bars as you mentioned? And this is the conundrum they're running into, because the public health need to keep bars closed, and to restrict indoor dining is actually growing right now. We're about to head into the fall, school is coming back, college students are coming back, it's very important to keep cases low for that reason.

In addition, there's colder weather coming. So, it's going to be harder to do those kind of outdoor dining that's been saving a lot of restaurants lately. There's going to be a lot of pressure for people just to go indoors in general. So, we're in this situation right now, where there's never been more reason to keep some of these businesses under wraps or under close watch h1ere, and yet there's not really a plan or resources to make that happen.

HAYES: It's so -- you know, we did that study the other day, that health economist who looked at the Sturgis rally and said basically, you would have saved money if you just gave $26,000 to every attendee, and told them not to come. And we were looking -- I was looking at the sales projections for bars and restaurants in the whole country for 2020 pre-COVID. It's like $23 billion.

That's a lot of money. But that is nothing where you're talking about the amount of money that is floating around the rescue $3.3 trillion in the Cares Act. It just seems like we actually could literally just pay every bar in America to stay closed until we're through the pandemic, and it wouldn't cost that much and would actually help a lot in public health terms.

SARLIN: Yes, you mentioned bars and taverns there, the sales are, I believe, around $23 billion. For perspective, that $600 a week benefit that Congress is trying to renew right now, that was costing $15 billion every single week. Just to put in perspective, you know, how much different rescues cost.

But an example of what it might cost here is there's a bill called the Restaurants Act that would provide 100 $20 billion in grants to tide over restaurants and bars to the rest of the year basically, to replace revenue that they've lost during this period. And one of the bases behind the bill, I talked to its sponsor, Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. He said one of the reasons to pass it is that he worries that state local officials right now can't make good decisions about public health because they're so worried about losing beloved local restaurants, local bars.

I mean, when you think of the neighborhoods you've lived in your life, certainly one of the first things I think of is what was my favorite bar, what was my favorite restaurant. You know, that's what makes -- that's where people have real emotional attachments. They don't want to see those closed. They don't want to see them go bankrupt. But again, without some kind of funding, everyone is stuck in this situation where they have to choose between health and the economy and the character of these neighborhoods every single time.

HAYES: And we see -- you know, New York City finally saying today they're going to start with 25 percent which by the way, no restaurant is profitable with that amount. So, it's like it really is kind of a worst of both worlds' situation. There's also though this connection you mentioned school. I mean, it is crazy to me. It's so insane that we're hoping up all these things like, you know, bars and restaurants before we have in-person school. Like, it's so backwards.

And I understand the economic incentives. What we should do is we should focus on getting kids in school, and then open up other stuff as we can safely. What do we know right now, about school and the data from it? It seems to me this really open empirical question, what the risk is, how dangerous it is to be in-person school? We're now running a bunch of experiments nationwide. Are we collecting all the data so we can figure out what we're actually looking at?

SARLIN: So, here's one of the problems with this, Chris. I'd love to be able to tell you that, hey, this number of schools has opened, and we've seen this number of cases, and this is the amount among students, and this is the amount among staff, and this is how many people are quarantined. And also, this is what that school was doing, and maybe we could learn something from, you know, either their mistakes or what they were doing, right.

We don't really have that data right now. There's no national repository of school outbreaks or individual positive cases. The data is very inconsistent at the district level, at the county level, at the state level. We are seeing some states start to put these in place. Places like New York, like Tennessee are creating state dashboards.

Georgia which had one of the -- had this very nationally prominent high school outbreak, you might remember, where there was this viral photo of kids crowded in the halls. So, Georgia announced recently that they were going to start providing more details on cases statewide to give people a better picture.

And this is important, not just because you should know if, for example, there's an outbreak in your area, or if there's an outbreak statewide that makes you reconsider now whether you want to put your kid in school or in a hybrid learning situation, or even if it's available, full time in person in classes. It's also important to tamp down some of the panic here and the anxiety or sort of with schools.


SARLIN: If we don't know how many --

HAYES: Yes, there's --

SARLIN: -- people are infected. We don't know how bad it is or how good it is.

HAYES: That's right. There's a huge upside part of the data, which is that if it actually turns out that it's fairly low risk, that's really important for us to know. And a huge piece about it maybe means that we can get more kids into school. You know, so, hiding the data doesn't help anyone. Benjy Sarlin who's been doing great reporting on all this, thank you so much for joining us.

SARLIN: Thanks, Chris. Coming up, new reporting that the same Russian intelligence unit that hacked the Clinton campaign in 2016 are back and targeting the Biden campaign. One of the reporters that broke the story joins me ahead.


HAYES: The original sin of the Iraq War, as all of us who live through it remember quite well, was the politicization of intelligence. Vice President Dick Cheney along with other members of the Bush administration pressured people in the Intelligence Community to manipulate information, selectively bring them information about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to further their plans to go to war. And then it all turned out to be false.

This week, a shocking whistleblower complaint about the Trump ministration landed alleging that the same kind of manipulation of intelligence is being done routinely inside the Department of Homeland Security. The senior DHS official's complaint covers a whole bunch of the President's pet issues, including the border wall.

He alleges that an administration official has pressured him to provide then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen with intelligence that supported the policy argument that large numbers of terrorists were crossing the border to fit the White House's argument for the wall. He also alleges that Nielsen then lied to Congress testifying that more than 3,700 terrorists across the border when that number was actually no more than three.

The whistleblower claim -- goes on to claim senior officials told him to modify a section of report on white supremacy in a manner that made the threat appear less severe, as well as include information the prominence of left-wing groups, and then perhaps most worrying allegations about Russian interference in our elections. The whistleblower alleges that he was told to stop providing intelligence reports about Russian disinformation efforts because it made the president look bad. He also says he was instructed to stop providing reports on the threat of Russian interference in the U.S., and instead, start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran.

That intelligence on Russian disinformation and interference is pretty important because we know that foreign governments, including Russia, are attempting to repeat the playbook from 2016. In fact, there is new reporting today on what Russian state hackers have already tried to do. We'll talk to one of the reporters who broke that story next.


HAYES: Reuters broke a disturbing but not totally unexpected piece of news earlier this morning that Russian state-backed hackers are back at it, targeting a strategy in communications firm that advises Joe Biden's campaign. Microsoft alerted the firm about the attacks and identified the suspecting hacking group as the same set of spies blamed by the U.S. government for breaking into Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2016.

Remember, back in 2016, that was one of two major Russian hacks in the last presidential election. There was the breach of the Democratic National Committee servers, and then there was the Clinton campaign hack which only took one successful phishing e-mail to get into the campaign manager John Podesta's inbox.

In a blog post today, Microsoft released some information about the recent cyber attacks they've detected revealing that in addition to Russian based attacks, they've observed a Chinese group attacking high profile individuals associated with the election, including people associated with the Biden campaign and prominent leaders in the International Affairs Community.

Joining me now is one of the reporters who broke that story, Joel Schectman, investigative reporter on espionage, cyber, and corruption at Reuters. Joel, great to have you on. You know, this was sort of eyebrow-raising. It's not surprising because we've had intelligence briefings that this kind of thing is probably happening.

I guess the question here is, you know, there's lots of attempted intrusion of every computer system, you know, in in the country, right? I mean, if you ask for like -- if you look like NBC's computer system, right, they're getting intrusion attacks they're repelling all the time. Like, how routine is this, and how concerted is it, and how much do we know?

JOEL SCHECTMAN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, REUTERS: So, yes, it's a great question. And I think that, you know, one thing that makes reporting on cyber so difficult is that the -- you know, the margin between something that's like really serious and something that's like, happens like literally every day, every moment of the day, it could be like really, really hard to tease apart. And so, you know, when I work on stories like this, I do try to set the bar, you know, quite high for what it is that we're interested in looking at, what we want to report on.

In this case, though, we weren't -- it's not that we were looking at -- you know, what we learned was that we're not looking at an attempted attack by, you know, by some Russian guys or attempted hack by some cybercriminals. We found specifically that these attempted intrusions on this Biden campaign firm were being done by Russian government-backed hackers.

We also specifically found that the -- that this group had been identified by Microsoft as being the group Fancy Bear, which you may remember that group from, you know, 2016. They were the Russian intelligence backed hacking group that hacked into the DNC, later leaked e-mails about Hillary -- about Hillary Clinton and about the campaign and about machinations within the DNC that were later used to try to, you know, hit different parts of the party against itself and with, you know, hope I think of suppressing the vote.

So what we're -- what we were seeing here, I don't think you could at any way, think about it as being something routine. It really -- it really does look like a state level -- like intrusion attempts. What we don't know is, you know, we've been told that the firm believes that that intrusion attempts were not successful.

You know, from covering this stuff for a while, it can be very hard to know, you know, when data does get out. And moreover, you know, when you're talking about a state-backed campaign, it's not like they just get one try, you know.

HAYES: Right.

SCHECTMAN: When you're talking about a persistent threat, you're talking about, you know, they'll throw whatever they can at you for as long as they need -- as long as they need to do it.

HAYES: So, in the case here -- I mean, there's -- Microsoft put out a statement today, and they're sort of broader targets here, right? So, we know this is happening, and they also talked about other state-backed, you know, apparatuses, China and Iran. And it occurred to me, I wonder how much these sort of the software company like Microsoft and others or Google in the case of Gmail, like how much more prepared ours in 2020 and 2016 as the kind of first-line defense against this kind of thing four years later after it's already happened once so catastrophically?

SCHECTMAN: That's a great question, Chris. And I think -- and I think that you hit on a really important point. I think that these firms actually really see themselves as being the frontline defenders. I think they really see themselves as maybe, you know, in some cases, being the only defenders that can reasonably -- you don't even know we had a government that did everything we wanted them to do in this space.

You know, the attack surface is just so huge. I mean, it's every computer in the world in a way, right? And you know, I think that these companies looked at what happened in 2016 and looked at areas in which they fell short, and they really had a lot of time to do -- to do research into looking at how these state-backed hacking groups operate.

And it really, it's become almost like a cottage industry with, you know, within these cyber firms, within companies like Google and Microsoft hiring people whose only expertise is understanding the ways that, you know, state-run hacking groups operate. And you know, they hire people, former intelligence people, and they've really spent a lot of time mapping that out. And I do think there's been a ton of learning on that front.

HAYES: Yes, that's -- I mean, I think that's hopefully. The statement being put out in the degree to which is being detected, at least for me, seemed hopeful. The problem, as you said, the surface area is so large when you think about a campaign.


HAYES: All the people associated with it and all the inboxes and all the spearfishing you can do. I mean, that was sort of what struck me the last time around. It's the problem this time around as well. Joel Schectman who's been doing reporting on this for Reuters, who broke that story today, thank you for your time.

SCHECTMAN: Great to be here.

HAYES: Next, a flood of horrifying images out of the West Coast as wildfires blaze in multiple states. And it's important to remember, it didn't have to be this way. The unfolding climate emergency after this.


HAYES: Tonight, hundreds of thousands of people up and down the West Coast are trapped in what feels like a dystopia within the dystopia that is 2020. Amid a year that's already been so brutal with a once in a century pandemic, the sky and parts of California and Oregon turned apocalyptic orange this week. The smoke from wildfires blocked out the sun.

There are nearly 100 fires in 13 states, more than 5,300 square miles in area, almost the size of Connecticut is on fire. In California, which had record-breaking temperatures over the holiday weekend, the biggest fire in the state's history is still burning tonight wherein two million acres have already burned this year, and that is an all-time record for that state which of course is accustom to wildfires.

In Washington State, more acres burned in just one day than firefighters usually see all year. In Oregon, nearly a million acres have burned. The state has never had so many uncontained fires in its history. This is absolutely not normal. Huge areas in the western part of the country are engulfed in flames and plumes of smoke have floated as far east as Alabama.

So, as we continue to watch the grinding disaster of our catastrophic code response, we're reminded of the other impending and ongoing catastrophe that will dwarf COVID in scope. Joining me now, New York Times opinion writer Charlie Warzel who captured the destabilizing experience living through this era of uncertainty, especially as someone who lives out west in his latest piece, I need you to care, our country is on fire.

Charlie, I really liked the piece. Why did you write it?

CHARLIE WARZEL, OPINION WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES: I wrote it because I'm born in the Midwest, lived most -- almost all my life on the east coast, and I've watched these images of these forest fires growing up. I've seen it on the news. I've read about it. I understood about it, that I thought. And then I moved out to Missoula, Montana, where I'm based and within 10 days in 2017 when I moved out there, there was a fire that ripped through our community. It burned for two months and it really changed the way that I -- that I saw it.

And I understood what so many people in America are feeling right now, and a feeling that it is really hard to convey to people unless you live through it. That this is a -- there is a psychological and physical toll to living with these fires even when you're the lucky person that hasn't been, you know, removed from your house or, you know, had your property threatened in any way. This is -- this is just a very difficult and traumatic event that we're all dealing with that's only getting worse.

HAYES: Yes. And it's the only getting worse part. I mean, obviously, you know, we've all grown -- this is part of the climate in cycles in parts of the west where there's very dry underbrush and it lights on fire and we know all that. But, you know, we just had one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded in history in Death Valley recently, it was 100 -- over 100 degrees in Los Angeles. Phoenix, Arizona had the hottest summer that it's ever had in recorded history.

Like, we know that this is the future we're looking into, and you make a good point which is that being on the West Coast, in some ways, means you're on the edge of the climate disruption in a way that might really make a difference if more of the media were located on the edge of said climate disruption.

WARZEL: Yes. I mean, I don't want to make this into a sniping match. You know, I wrote in the piece and I firmly believe that no area has a monopoly on the climate disaster right now. You're going to feel it regardless. It's going to be worst. But there is this feeling when you're here. There's something about the ways that you know that the sky is blotted out, that there is this ash that -- it's something that -- it doesn't just hit, it doesn't just approach it and go away leaving disaster, it is a rolling disaster that sits there and it hovers. And it's sort of, you know, it's like a -- it's like an Instagram filter for your life that is apocalyptic.

And it really drives home this, you know, this anxiety that what we've done to our planet is maybe reversible. And I think that if more people experienced that particular climate disaster, then yes, I think -- I think maybe we would be talking about it a little bit differently.

HAYES: There's this amazing sort of quote from a woman in Oakland, a mother. She says, we're in a pandemic, and a heatwave, and we don't have air conditioning. We can't open the window. We're trapped, we're hot, and no one can come over to play. I mean, everything that happens now is stacked atop the pandemic and the absence of normalcy and the absence of sort of physical camaraderie you can have with other people. And it makes coping with things all that much harder.

WARZEL: There is -- there's a way in which I don't think our minds are actually able to sort of, like you said, stack these crises and deal with them and sort them out and figure them out, and I think that, you know -- I think one thing that is just not talked about enough. Climate is not talked about enough, frankly. But the psychological trauma, I keep sort of like harping on this.

But I do think, you know, like there are -- there are children who are being raised, you know, living amongst us every summer who know what smoke season is. And smoke becomes, you know, a type of weather to them. It becomes normalized. But, you know, this is this is changing the way that we live our lives. It is -- it is, you know, it is piling on top of these other crises, and they're all linked. That's the thing.

They're cascading and each one makes the other one a little bit worse. And it's really -- it's difficult to be alive in America in 2020 right now.

HAYES: Well, I you know, I had -- I had David Wallace-Wells on the -- on the program. He's a writer from New York Magazine. He wrote an amazing book called The Uninhabitable Earth, sort of about what the future of the worst-case scenario of climate might look like. And we were -- it was the early days of COVID, and we're talking about COVID.

And he said something that stuck with me which was a kind of positive takeaway, which was that, you know, he said, you know, within the -- within the span of a few weeks, we've seen essentially two billion people completely change everything about their everyday lives. This is in the midst of the shelter in place orders in which, you know, you can take a camera to, you know, any plaza in Europe or, you know, or in downtown Mumbai or in Shanghai. Like the whole world closed down.

He said, you know, in some ways, it's remarkable to consider what mobilization is possible, right? Like, the mobilization that we did to battle COVID in the early days. And I think about that, as I think about the climate, you know, when I -- when I flirt with sort of disastrous nihilism, about how we're screwing this up, and how can we deal with it is that like, we also have seen incredible mobilization in this era that points to the ability to collectively actually do incredible things together.

WARZEL: Yes. And you know, I'm not one of those people that's just piling all my hopes and dreams on, you know, Gen Z or others, but I really do think that this is manifesting in such an unmistakable, impossible to hide way for people who are growing up that I do think the mobilization is different.

They understand this crisis and, and the urgency better than I will far better than, you know, my parents or my grandparents and it's -- I think that they see you know, their future truly hangs in the balance and their ability to even have children or pass this down is in the balance. So I do -- I mean, this is a radicalizing moment. Yesterday in San Francisco or people you know, never saw the sunrise, that is a radicalizing moment, and we can harness that both in the media and in government.

HAYES: That is a -- that is well said, a radicalizing moment or appropriately radicalizing moment. Charlie Warzel who's writing I really, really do love, a great deal. Thanks for making time tonight.

WARZEL: Thanks for having me.

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

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. I know that it is not 2016 right now.


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