IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, September 14, 2020

Guests: Dan Diamond, Christina Greer, Steve Sisolak, Helene Cooper, Jenna Johnson


President Trump's aide, Michael Caputo, pushes paranoid conspiracies about the government scientist and left-wing hit squads. President Trump is using the government to pursue his political interests. President Trump holds an indoor rally in Nevada, defying the state's orders. President Trump's associate, Roger Stone, is urging the president to declare martial law if he loses.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Check out plan your vote for more information on registering, voting by mail, or in-person and more. But most importantly, please check your registration and vote. That is tonight's REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: OK. It'll start getting cooler. You just -- you just watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish science agreed with you.

TRUMP: Well, I don't think science knows, actually.

HAYES: The conspiracy theory administration, the president who denies climate change and the crank who's trying to manipulate COVID data. Then --

TRUMP: I'm on a stage, it's very far away, and so I'm not (INAUDIBLE)

HAYES: Trump's indoor and mostly maskless rally in Nevada. The governor calls it reckless and selfish and he joins me tonight. Plus, Trump Community's sense, now, Roger Stone is calling from martial law if Biden wins the election.

And Colonel Vindman breaks his silence for the first time since the impeachment trial that cost him his career.

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: You have no doubt that it was the president that ordered your dismissal from the White House.


HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from 30 Rockefeller Center, I'm Chris Hayes. The top-ranking communications official at the department in charge of combating the pandemic at the Department of Health and Human Services is a dangerous crank who is undermining science and raving about delusional conspiracy theories. His name is Michael Caputo. The Trump ministration installed him at HHS in April, right, in the midst of this once in a century pandemic despite a history of sexism and racism and conspiracy monitoring that would keep most people from getting hired just about anywhere, never mind the Trump ministration.

The New York Times reported that Caputo posted a video on Facebook yesterday in which, get this, he accused career government scientists of sedition, claiming they do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president. Caputo also claimed that Trump's opponents are now training for an armed insurrection after the election, telling his followers that hit squads are being trained all over this country. "And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down inauguration, the shooting will begin. The drills that you've seen are nothing." He added, "If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it's going to be hard to get."

Caputo also said -- this is the guy who's currently the head of coms at HHS right now, this is what he posted yesterday. He also said he expected that these imaginary left-wing hit squads would be coming to kill him personally.

Now, these are the ravings of a man completely untethered from reality. But they're not much of a surprise, I got to say, coming from Michael Caputo. Just the month before he is appointed as the top spokesperson at HHS, he was saying offensive things like this.


MICHAEL CAPUTO, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, DHS: I'm so proud of the president standing up in front of the media, accusing him of creating a stigma, creating a stigma by calling it the Chinese Coronavirus. You know what created the stigma for China? You know what did? By maybe even manufacturing this in a in -- in a, you know, a bioweapons facility in Wuhan, or maybe it's their eating habits where they suck the blood on our bats and eat the (BLEEP) of anteaters.


HAYES: There's zero evidence that it was manufactured in a bioweapons facility, just FYI. So that guy, that Michael Caputo, the one who thinks that the left-wing hit squad is going to kill him, that there's going to be shootings, telling people to stock up on the ammunition, who talks about eating the ass out of anteaters, this is the man in charge of disseminating public information about the pandemic.

Now, it probably goes without saying Caputo has no background in healthcare. He's a longtime ally of, yes, you guessed it, Roger Stone. In fact, he was mentored by him and he has long work to boost Trump, recently authoring a book called The Ukraine Hoax. He's praised white supremacist and alt-right figures, pushed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

And while he is now apparently purged his entire Twitter account, he's posted and deleted racist and sexist tweets complete with crew references to oral sex and tweets like I would never sleep with you, dog face. Cool guy. This guy isn't just pushing this nonsense, this disgusting, paranoid, dangerous, nonsense from his government perch.

He is in fact actively working to manipulate what the CDC tells the public about the pandemic in what is arguably the single most important public health publication in the world. It's called the CDC morbidity and mortality weekly reports and it had until Donald Trump an apolitical.

Think of it like an epidemiological version of the newspapers stock charts or baseball box scores, right, write ups of games. It's a publication that informs scientists and public health experts about the latest data and trends in infectious diseases. Everyone reads it in the world of public health, everyone.

On Friday, Politico's Dan Diamond first reported that Michael Caputo and his team have been working to change the reports to hue closer to the President's more optimistic message. "Caputo and his team have attempted to add caveats to CDC's findings, including an effort to retro actively change agency reports they said wrongly inflated the risks of COVID-19.

Caputo's team also has tried to halt the release of some CDC reports including delaying a report that addresses how doctors were prescribing hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug favored by Trump, as a coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence. That's not all though. This thing is kind of happening everywhere, right now.

A Trump ministration appointing an advisor to Caputo is trying to prevent Anthony Fauci from speaking about the risks that Coronavirus posed children. Meanwhile, top U.S. officials tell the CDC to soften its Coronavirus testing guidelines, right, "I want to slow the testing down," the President said, in an apparent effort to get taste numbers down.

The FDA says it is willing to fast track a vaccine before phase three trials and as Trump pushes for one to be released before Election Day. The Times is now reporting that officials are worried about the prospect of an unvetted vaccine and the pressure being brought to bear on the FDA. This is what is happening in America in the midst of a pandemic under Donald Trump.

Political hacks, cranks like Michael Caputo, Michael Caputo, that guy, they're working in positions of authority to undermine the science we need to fight a once in a century pandemic in an attempt to cover up the illness and death the president is responsible for and to boost the present politically.

The politics of denialism are running roughshod over scientists and we saw that on absolute full display today couldn't come up with a better tableau than this, Trump's event in California which has been devastated by forest fires.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to work with you to really recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forest and actually work together with that science -- that science is going to be key because if we -- if we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it's all about vegetation management, we're not going to succeed together protecting Californians.

TRUMP: OK, it'll start getting cooler. You just -- you just watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish science would agree with you.

TRUMP: Well, I don't think science knows, actually.


HAYES: It'll start getting cooler. That's the guy that said cases wouldn't go down to zero before it had six million cases and almost 200,000 Americans dead. That guy. So, it's hard to think of anything more dangerous at this moment than letting the Michael Caputos and Donald Trumps of the world tell us what the science knows actually.

Joining me now, the reporter who first broke the story of Michael Caputo and his team interfering with those CDC reports Dan Diamond of Politico who investigates health policy and politics, probably the best reporter on that beat in the country. Dan, great are reporting as always. Give us a little background on Caputo's entrance here. I mean, I got to imagine there were eyebrows raised at the time. And I think some of your reporting suggests this -- the match between this guy in the midst of this moment when public information is so vital and important in this agency.

DAN DIAMOND, REPORTER, POLITICO: He would not be the choice by public health experts to lead public health information during a pandemic, Chris. The background is that there was a concerted effort back at the beginning of the year by President Trump to impose some order on what was seen as a very disordered health department.

Two of the top officials were feuding at the end of 2020 or the end of 2019 going into 2020, Secretary Alex Azar, administrator of CMS Seema Verma. There was a theory in the White House that Secretary Azar was perhaps leaking unflattering information about President Trump during the early days of the pandemic. So, the President turned to Michael Caputo, an ultimate loyalist, someone who's dated back with the president for decades, as you noted, with Roger Stone, a longtime ally.

Caputo came into HHS and very quickly started making a mark. He pushed different agency officials and the FDA, CDC, and NIH, to try and line up more with the President's message on the outbreak which is very different than the message that scientists have come to.

HAYES: Yes, I mean, the message has, at every turn, right, been optimistic, we're turning the corner, cases are going down to zero, young people are fine. I mean, public health people tend to be people that are worried about the worst risks and try to communicate those ably. And I want to talk for a second just about the morbidity mortality weekly report.

I mean, I remember my dad actually was in public health. I remember growing up we used to get at the house, I thought it's such a hilariously title publication. This is like I had multiple public health people say this is the golden standard publication in public health in the world. For Michael Caputo to be editing or massaging it is just -- is shocking and horrifying.

DIAMOND: Well, first, the MMWR is a family subscription the Hayes household sounds about right to me. But the idea that this was a red line that could not be crossed in science and decades of oversight of the CDC, we have reported Chris and there's been great reporting and other outlets to on the pressures on public health officials for months. This one I heard about MMWR as being potentially edited or the entire series being halted. That was shocking to me.

And we are months into an outbreak that at times has ceased to shock reporters who have been embedded in the trenches covering the story. So Michael Caputo and his aide, Paul Alexander, for about three and a half months have been pushing very hard to try and change MMWR that are not seen to line up with the President's thoughts on either children and their risk of coronavirus, hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug the president is touted, and some other MMWRs that were seen to too critical of the overall response.

HAYES: Yes, maybe this is scandalous cover up is what you're describing. Those are my words, not yours. I mean, perhaps most unnerving is that your report that they're having success right around the margins. I mean -- and when you think about the trust necessary to deploy a vaccine in this country, this is really, really unnerving.

You say CDC officials have fought back against the most sweeping changes, but have increasingly agreed to allow the political officials to review the reports and the few case is compromised on the wording. That's basically unprecedented as far as I know from this -- the way this interaction usually works.

DIAMOND: That lines up with my reporting too, Chris. I talked to officials and previous administrations, Obama, George W. Bush, who said to a person that the CDC reports were sacrosanct. You could not as a political appointee, get into the content of the report. Because once you start doing that, where do you stop? What is the red line other than we need to step back and let these reports breathe?

So, there is significant concern and I have seen e-mails of political appointees pushing very hard and at times getting concessions on some of these MMWRs.

HAYES: And imagine if Roger Stone's, you know, acolyte hack overseeing the natural weather service and being like, no, no, it wasn't a record, the hot temperature in Death Valley. No, no, knock it down seven degrees. I mean, you know, you can't do that. The reality is what the reality is despite what people want to say about it. Dan Diamond, like I said, it just has owned this beat for the duration of the Trump ministration. Thank you so much for being with me.

DIAMOND: Thanks for having me back, Chris.

HAYES: The Trump administration's use of the government as a tool of disinformation and propaganda is not just the science around the most pressing matter we face, the once in a century pandemic that's killing hundreds of thousand Americans, it's a whole bunch of other things too.

Today, Washington Post Greg Sargent had a really good piece about seven ways that Trump and his cabal are using government to corrupt the election, which includes officials pressing for findings about civil unrest to be revised, to downplay white supremacist violence, pump up the illusion of an organized leftist domestic terror threat. Sargent also points to Attorney General William Barr's push to release a report on the origins of the Russia investigation before the election.

And amid this pressure from the Attorney General, remember, a top aide to the federal prosecutor assigned who's overseeing that report has now resigned, right, because she felt there was too much pressure on them. Then there's the decision by the Director of National Intelligence to cancel in-person briefings on foreign efforts to interfere in the November election, as Russia once again works on Trump's behalf.

For more on the ways in which Trump is using the power of the state for his own benefit 50 days before the election, I'm joined by Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University.

Christina, I wanted to talk to you because you are a political scientist. And, you know, in the political science literature, there's obviously this very well established, like incumbency effect, right? It's easier to run for re-election in the first time, name recognition, but you could also -- there's benefits, right, that you can -- if you remember Congress, you can deliver, you know, some funny a program.

Like, how do we distinguish between the normal benefits of incumbency and then sort of a corrupt manipulation of the state to essentially produce an unfair playing field?

CHRISTINA GREER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Right. I mean, these are, this is the moment we're in where we're looking at a president who projects all the things that he's doing -- he projects them on his opponent and former opponents, right, on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

So when he says that they're going to cheat or they're going to read the election, or they're going to, you know, encourage people to vote twice, these are all the things that the President is doing. Now, we know that a sitting incumbent always has an advantage, largely, as you mentioned, because of name recognition, and because of the ability to oftentimes raise money. Because people in the past, the record show that incumbency advantage has been real.

This president had an opportunity to handle the Coronavirus crisis much better than he has several different ways and each time he has failed. So, now, he really does find himself in a fight for himself to keep the seat, but there's a certain level of comfort that he's has because he's already said that he's going to allow Russia to intervene. He's already told the people of North Carolina that they should vote right vote twice. And he's already set the stage for the media to say, well, if I'm not the winner on November 3rd, then everything is obviously been rigged, it's -- the election results are false. And so, this means that I've won, but you all just don't want me to win.

And so, he's been sowing the seeds of dissent within the media since the very first day. And so now we're seeing the chickens come home to roost, and we have a media that is still sort of both sides-isms half the time and not taking the real existential threat of the president very seriously when he says, I don't want to leave, and if I don't get the results that I want, then it's clearly a rigged election and why should I -- why should I listen and why should my supporters not take arms to protect me.

HAYES: You know, in the case of Caputo and HHS, they put out this contract for $250 million advertising campaign down the stretch of the election about like, turning the corner on COVID, right? That's public money clearly, clearly being used essentially as a campaign propaganda down the stretch. And like, all of these sort of questions of what is or isn't appropriate, one of the things we're learning here, right, it's like, there's not a ton of rules. I mean, can you -- can you do the convention in the White House? You kind of can. It's against the Hatch Act, but like, who's going to enforce it?

GREER: Right. I mean, we've seen the president flout rules before. I mean, you know, in the past, if a candidate or an elected official uses the music of say, a superstar, and the superstar says, you know, cease and desist, then that candidate oftentimes in the music. The President is like, too bad, sue me, right?

Anyone who lives in New York knows that this is what the President has always done. He says, well, then take me to court. We'll get it tied up in litigation. Until then, I'll just keep doing what I want to do. I mean, we're seeing that the President is using Attorney General Bill Barr as his personal attorney. We are now going to finance the lawsuit of just one woman who's accused the president of sexual assault and sexual misconduct. But that's taxpayer money that we're doing to protect the president, which is barely a story because there's so much other stuff.

This has been like a spaghetti throwing, you know, election season, but it's also been an administration ruled by chaos. So again, each day, we have about five different ways that our democracy has been threatened because this president refuses to follow any norms, let alone laws.

HAYES: Yes, and the sort of democracy there -- and, you know, people talk about and lots of indications of what the analog here is an authoritarian governments, whether it's, you know, Putin or Erdogan or fascism of the past. And the thing I keep thinking about are just machine politics when they're at their most sort of vicious, right? Like, you know, successful machines just produce a situation in which like, there is no actual democratic competition because the party that runs the machine and the government are the same thing.

So if you want them the government, like that's the only way to get it, and that, to me feels like what the stakes are here, right? I mean, that is what he is attempting to construct.

GREER: Right. It's a little more complicated though because he keeps changing what the machine should look like. And so, the people within his party on a daily basis have to fit themselves into the machine. We see, you know, in the morning, he says one thing and they are sworn to allegiance saying, yes, yes, Mr. President. We worship the claw, right. And then by the evening, he switched his mind, and so they didn't have to backtrack.

So, all the things that Republicans said against Barack Obama now are just fine with President Trump. So, the difference with this is that machine politics in the past, when you think about places like Chicago or New York, there was a method, there was a theory, there was essentially -- even if I disagreed with the compass, they had an idea of how -- of what the vision of the city should look like.

This is a president where it's sporadic and as he said, Chris, he doesn't read, right? He is proud that he doesn't read, so he just goes on his gut, he shoots from the hip. And the people of his party have to just run around and try and follow Him. And we've seen career politicians who were once very respected. Even if we disagreed with them, we still respected them, just completely throw away their legacy. And it's mind-boggling to see these grown men just turn themselves into pretzels for someone who clearly does not respect them or their party.

HAYES: Christina Greer, as always, thanks for your time tonight. I appreciate it. Next up, the President put thousands of people at risk this weekend when he decided to hold a massive indoor rally in Nevada, a move the governor called selfish and reckless. That governor joins me next.


HAYES: Last night, in the middle of a pandemic which you may know about, it's an infectious disease that spreads through breathing and air droplets, the President held a massive indoor rally in Henderson, Nevada, near Las Vegas. Thousands of people packed into a warehouse, most of them not wearing masks, in violation of the state's ban on gatherings of more than 50 people.

Las Vegas Review Journal spoke to the president in the rally and asked him if he felt safe there.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aren't you concerned about getting COVID in an enclosed room?

TRUMP: No, I'm not concerned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the people here?

TRUMP: I'm more concerned about how close you are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry about that.

TRUMP: Because you know why? I'm on a stage, it's very far away. And so, I'm not concerned.


HAYES: Don't worry about me, I'm far away from the masses of my fans breathing on each other. I'm fine. The governor of Nevada, Democrat Steve Sisolak, blasted the president for taking reckless and selfish actions that are putting countless lives in danger. Adding, as usual, he doesn't believe the rules apply to him.

And joining me now is Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. It's good to have you, Governor. Governor, let me just start on just the legality of the gathering. I mean, was it a violation of state law to have that gathering?

GOV. STEVE SISOLAK (D-NV): Absolutely. It was a violation of our directives in numerous counts, but he doesn't think the laws apply to him either. They only apply to everybody else. He thinks that there's a footnote that says, it does not apply to Donald J. Trump.

It's absolutely ridiculous. His ego and arrogance get ahead of him. And he's concerned that he's not -- he's not worried about anybody else. He's not in jeopardy, but however many, three 4,000 people that are there, and they're going to take it home to their grandparents and their kids and nursing homes and the veterans home, and he's that concerned about any of those people. He's just concerned that, you know, he's going to have his little party.

HAYES: Are you concerned? I mean, what are the -- what is your sense informed by public health officials in your state of the risk of a gathering like that?

SISOLAK: It's a certainty. It's not a risk. I mean, there's a certainty. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind and our professionals mind that there are a number of folks that were there at the gathering last night and the one that he had in the night before, number of asymptomatic people. Now, whether it's one, ten, 100, 1,000, I don't know how many people were there that were asymptomatic. They were cheering and chanting and particulates are going out and they're spreading the virus.

And they're going to end up in the emergency rooms and in the hospitals and on ventilators and intensive care units, and the president just doesn't care. It's just a total reckless, selfish, irresponsible, arrogant thing to do, just absolutely disgusting.

HAYES: You know, he was criticizing you for saying that everything is locked down. Your governor wants to lock you down. But the thing is, I've read our criticisms in the other direction. I mean, the casinos are open. The strip is open. I've seen pictures showing like, there's a fair amount of crowds there. And I understand how important that is to you as an economic engine in your state, but how are you thinking about this risk? What is your reaction when the president says falsely that everything's shut down in your state?

SISOLAK: Well, it's just -- that's just the way he is. George Washington said, never tell a lie and Donald Trump just says, never tell the truth. I mean, that's what it comes down to. He's just that way. You know, we have been very measured in our response in terms of opening things back up. I consult regularly. We have our own taskforce put together that helps us in terms of defining you know what we can do and can't do next.

And you've got to understand that a lot of what he's complaining about were regulations that came forth from the CDC. I'm on weekly phone calls. I probably won't be on anymore because I probably won't be invited after this one. But my weekly phone calls with the Vice President's task force, and they had us at -- were in a red zone. That meant no gatherings larger than 10, 10 people. And then we went to red as 25. We expanded that to 50. But not -- it's for everybody except for Donald J. Trump. That's how that works.

HAYES: You -- obviously, your state is a crucial battleground state. It's been very close in successive elections. There's -- you're also taking proactive efforts in your state to make sure people can vote using absentee ballots. There's been lawsuits trying to stop you. The Trump campaign asking a U.S. judge to kill essentially the vote by mail undertaking. Walk us through what you are doing to make voting accessible to people and the people that are trying to stop you from doing?

SISOLAK: Well, what we did is in the middle of a pandemic, we feel very, very strongly that you should not have to make a choice between exercising your right to vote and avoiding contracting the virus -- the virus. It's extremely important. So, we had a primary that was all mail-in and it went extremely well. I mean, people were able to mail in their votes.

Now, in the general election, we've expanded it. Everybody will have an opportunity to mail in their ballot. You will have an opportunity for about two weeks to early vote at numerous locations. And on Election Day, there will be voting centers. You can go and vote in person. So, there's three different ways that you can vote. What we're trying to do is make it possible for every single one of our registered voters to cast their ballot.

This is an extremely important election. It shouldn't matter what party you're in. It's an important election. We encourage people to get out and vote. And that's why we put these situations in place so you have these different options as you move forward.

HAYES: What is your sense? I mean, you're biased. Obviously, you're a Democrat in that state, but it's again, it's a close state. It always is. Those are -- those are hard-fought battles any statewide election, whether in the Senate or for governor or president. Your sense of that state, vis-a-vis Trump and Joe Biden?

SISOLAK: Well, I think it's going to come down to turn out right now. I think Vice President Biden has got a lot of support here. I can tell you that clearly, Donald Trump has a lot of support here. You showed that for people that were willing to risk their health and go to a rally. He's got a very strong base; how large base is.

It remains to be seen, but I think they're both going to fight over that part that's in the middle and it's going to come down to turnout, who can turn out their voters that they've identified, and it's going to be interesting. And I just encourage all of our registered voters to get out there and take advantage of this. A lot of people are still undecided and we're hoping for the best.

Hayes: All right, Governor Steve Sisolak there in Nevada, got his hands full on a lot of different ways, thank you, Governor. I appreciate it.

SISOLAK: Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity.

HAYES: Ahead. First, Donald Trump gifted his political advisor Roger Stone to get out of jail free card, and now Stone is advising the president to declare martial law if he loses. Why it's important to pay attention to what's happening in the fever swamps next.


HAYES: Roger Stone is not just any old associate the president, he is his longest-serving political advisor. He played a key role in the 2016 election both in public and behind the scenes. Publicly, Roger Stone led the conspiracy theory campaign about Hillary Clinton's health. Remember that? You also amplified Russian disinformation and even for told in public on right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' radio show that big secret documents were going to leak.


ROGER STONE, CAMPAIGN ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: The Clinton campaign narrative that the Russians favor Donald Trump and the Russians are leaking this information, this is inoculation because, as you said earlier, they know what is coming and it is devastating.

Let's remember that their defense in all of the Clinton Foundation scandals has been not "we didn't do it," has been "you have no proof." Yes, but you have no proof. Well, I think Julian Assange has that proof and I think he's going to furnish it to the American people.


HAYES: Oh, wow, look at that. Roger Stone previewed that to the American people. And then it happened. And last year, he was convicted of lying to Congress precisely about his role as a go-between with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Now, two months ago, the President took a serious political risk in an election year to commute his associate's own prison sentence, right, the guy that lied to cover up what he was doing on the President's behalf and got commuted by the president. And that was after Attorney General William Barr interfered to reduce Stone sentence.

OK, so today, we're learning the Justice Department's internal watchdog is investigating the circumstances surrounding Roger Stone sentencing, and the Attorney General stepping in to interfere. But in the interim, Roger Stone remains a free man. I mean, he's still speaking out in public. He's out and it's worth paying attention to what he's saying now. Just about exactly four years after he was, you know, saying what he was saying last time.

Most recently, he told Alex Jones again, that the president should seize power by force and basically end the American democratic experiment.


STONE: We can prove voter fraud in the absentees right now. Send Federal Marshals to the Clark County Board of Elections, Mr. President. It's all there. I don't want to overplay the facts here, but if someone will study the President's authority in the Insurrection Act, his ability to impose martial law, if there's widespread cheating, he will have the authority to arrest Zuckerberg, to arrest of Tim Cook, to arrest the Clintons, to arrest anybody else who can be proven to be involved in illegal activity. Force will be met with force. That's the way this is going to have to work. It's really unfortunate.


HAYES: OK, so Roger Stone, again, not just some random prank that's someone in the comment sections, right? The President's closest political adviser saying the president should impose martial law and invest his political enemies and essentially start an armed coup to take over the country.

That's happening as his longtime ally and a Trump's protege at the Department of Health and Human Services, as we told you the beginning the show, is telling people to buy ammunition. Now, Roger Stone is notoriously and proudly a cheater. He has a tattoo of Dick Nixon on his back. And the President is a cheater. Cheating is a way that they ran before in 2016. Cheating is what they are up to now.

And someone who witnessed that cheating firsthand, who sacrificed his career to tell the truth about it is now breaking his silence. That's next.


HAYES: The President's impeachment came about because some of the people in the government saw something that was wrong, and then they came forward even knowing that it would probably hurt their careers. Perhaps one of the most famous of those people, Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Vindman. You remember him, a decorated veteran in the Iraq War. He works in the President's National Security Council. He spoke out about Donald Trump's call with the Ukrainian president.


REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY): You heard the President's voice on the call?


MALONEY: And you heard him raise that subject again that Ambassador Sondland had raised before about investigating the Biden's, right.


MALONEY: And you went immediately, and you reported it.



VINDMAN: Because that was my duty. After that, he's basically dragged through the mud. He lost his job at the National Security Council. Today, he broke his silence and told NBC's Lester Holt about his experience.


HOLT: You have no doubt that it was the president that ordered your dismissal from the White House.

VINDMAN: I have no doubt.

HOLT: Were you forced out of the army?

VINDMAN: Nobody told me that I had to -- that I had to leave. As a matter of fact, if the president were not to be reelected, for instance, I probably could have continued on, but that's a huge if. If he were to reelected, the joke was that end up in a radar station in Alaska.


HAYES: Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Vindman, who served as an Army officer and finally speaking out. Remember, it was just last week, we learned that Donald Trump attacked his generals for being weak. It was only a week and a half ago that reporting came out the president calling Americans who died in war losers and suckers.

Here to talk about this growing rift between the President and the military in the Pentagon and its institution, Helene Cooper, who covers the Pentagon for the New York Times. It's great to have you on. I feel like Vindman's reemergence sort of puts a spotlight on a whole series of stories that show that there is, it seems to me from as an observer, tremendous amount of tension right now between this sort of institutional Pentagon and this White House in this president with 50 days to go before the election.

HELENE COOPER, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: There is Chris. It's been building for four years now. What -- the interesting thing about Alexander Vindman is we all know what happened because we saw him testify before the House on Donald Trump in the phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. But we didn't see on video though was what happened after President Trump fired him from the NSC and he went back to the Pentagon.

He was then put on a list to be promoted from Lieutenant Colonel, and the White House called the Pentagon to ask to find ways to not promote him. So, his whole career in the military could have continued after he left the White House. But because of the pressure that the White House put on the Pentagon, they kept sending this list forward with Alexander Vindman's name on it to go from, you know, the next grade and the Whitehouse kept calling the Pentagon back and saying you got to find some dirt on this guy because Trump doesn't want to have him promoted to the colonel, which is why he ended up resigning.

HAYES: We should note that -- I mean, there's a through-line here between what Dan Diamond was saying about HHS. I mean, that's not normally how this goes, right? It's not normally the case that promotions of this sort of have, you know, calls over from the White House saying, no, no, no, not that person.

COOPER: No. Presidents do not get involved in that level of Personnel Management at the Pentagon. We're just started to talk about, you know, not even at the four-star, the general, to the Lieutenant-General, to the general to general level, let alone from Lieutenant-Colonel to Colonel, so that's just an extraordinary breach.

But that's just one of many, many times that President Trump in the past four years has really gotten in the face of this military. I mean, the Atlantic story by Jeff Goldberg was just one of so many other instances where Trump -- it seems as if he, the President does not really understand just what it means to be commander in chief. And he looks at the military as somebody as an -- as an institution that he would like to see doing what he wants, have a nice parade for him, do this and do that. Go take the Pentagon money to build a wall, all of that. And when they bolt, he doesn't like it and he lashes out.

HAYES: Yes, there's been two other -- two other stories I keep coming to. One is the pardons that he offered for several servicemembers who were either convicted or accused of war crimes, which ultimately led to the resignation the Secretary of the Navy. I mean, you can barely remember that story.

But I mean, again, this is one of those situations where, you know, all this stuff is taken seriously and the clash with even the highest levels of brass over there is remarkable when you line it all up.

COOPER: It's extraordinary. I mean, when you -- do you remember when General Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Esper walked across Lafayette Square with President Trump right after they tear gas the protesters, they got a lot of grief for it. They had been clashing with President Trump anyway because they didn't want President Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act.

They didn't want to put active duty street troops on the streets of America to quell protests that were largely peaceful. They didn't think it warranted it. And General Milley push back afterwards. He apologizes -- he came out afterwards. He angered Trump by apologizing. He said, I should not have been there. This was not a place for a military -- somebody in uniform to be.

So, you've got some -- there's quite a bit of bad blood at this point between the President and the Pentagon. But you know, you can say that for very -- you know, any number of institutions now.

HAYES: Right. I want to ask a final question here about something you just wrote about. You've been -- you've had a remarkable career at the New York Times, and you've covered many different things. I've been reading your byline for a long time in all sorts of domains.

One of the things you've covered was Ebola. And you have this this first-person piece about volunteering to be part of a COVID-19 vaccine trial. Tell us about your involvement in that.

COOPER: I was watching Fauci, Dr. Fauci testifying before Congress back in July. And he said, they needed more volunteers, and he rattle off the name of the Web site, so I went and filled it out. I don't think I was even really thinking about what I was doing at the time. And then they called me three weeks ago, GW, a clinical research associate and said that I had been picked because I'm a type one diabetic, I have asthma, and also because I'm a black woman, so it's like triple risk factors.

And so, I went -- I was a little nervous at first, but I went through with it. I went in. It's a double-blinded trial. This is the Moderna trial. They're trying to -- the goal is to get 30,000 people. I was patient number 130 at GW. And I've had my first shot now. It's a two-shot program, so the shots are one month apart.

I had my first vaccination I think it was like early like, first or second of September, and my second one is due on September 28th. Now, I've been convinced which is crazy, because I don't know, but I've been convinced that I got the placebo because I didn't feel anything afterwards except some muscle aches when I went to the beach.

HAYES: I love the piece. And I also thought just, you know, it made me think a lot about how much volunteer civic-minded sort of, you know, raising your hand is necessary for us to get through these trials at the scale and scope. We need to particularly people like yourself, who have several risk factors. So, I was -- I really like piece and let's hope we get a vaccine sooner or later. Helene Cooper at the New York Times, great to talk to you. Thank you very much.

COOPER: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, a close up look at one of the voting blocs Republicans cannot afford to lose this November.


HAYES: Donald Trump famously won white women voters in the 2016 presidential election. Striking, because that happened even with a white woman on the ballot as a major party nominee for president for the first time in history. And NBC News exit poll in 2016 found that 53 percent of white women voted for Trump over 43 percent for Hillary Clinton.

Now, exit polls have their flaws. There are a lot of debates about how much that number necessarily reflects exactly what happens. But what's really clear is that two years later, the Republican Party lost a lot of ground with the same group, white women, in those midterm elections of 2018. The NBC exit poll showing white women split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Then that's, you know, a 10-point swing.

Now, if that swing, that 10-point swing from 2016 to 2018, if that stays with white women voters, if it holds true November, that's basically probably game over for Republicans, or close to it. The question is, how much of that swing, how much that alienation among white women voters, especially those with college degrees, is structural, is permanent, is driven by a whole bunch of factors Trump and other things, and how much it is ground that Republicans can recover this fall?

And that's precisely what Washington Post reporter Jenna Johnson is grappling with in her new piece. They voted for him and now they regret it. Why white women are turning away from Trump. Jenna Johnson, national political correspondent for The Washington Post joins me now.

Before we get into some of the sort of qualitative stuff in your reporting, just what is your picture of the data because it's, it's a little conflicted, it's a little muddy. It's a little hard to know. Exit polls, there's different sort of methodologies of like, what we can say about the trends among this specific demographic.

JENNA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. You know, this is tricky. And so, I'm going to try to speak pretty broadly about this. But in general, there's a general sense that in 2016, Donald Trump won with white women. It might have been a very narrow win, it could have been a large win, but it seems like he had the upper hand there.

Like in 2018, we saw that that was changing. And in polls now we're seeing that Joe Biden seems to be doing better with white women than Hillary Clinton did. And the specific group that I really was paying attention to is white women who don't have bachelor's degrees. This is a group that Trump clearly won in 2016. And now in the polls, we're seeing Biden, you know, doing much better than Hillary Clinton did.

Trump is still winning with this group, but it seems to be a narrow margin. So basically, this comes down to there seems to be a real opportunity here for Joe Biden and a major challenge here for Donald Trump.

HAYES: What did you hear there in talking to the kinds of voters who might have voted for Trump and have now turned away from him among this sort of demographic subset? What did you hear? What were the explanations they gave?

JOHNSON: Yea. So, I talked with a bunch of women in Pennsylvania who either voted for Trump or wrote someone in or didn't vote, and a lot of them said pretty early on in Trump's presidency, they knew that they didn't like him. And those feelings have only been cemented by his handling the COVID-19 crisis, in his response to police brutality.

And I mean, basically, it's a very simple explanation that I hear from a lot of them. They just don't think he's a good leader. They're frustrated with how reckless he seems. They think that he's self-centered. They don't think that he's putting the country first. They're just tired of him being in the office. They're tired of him dividing the country.

And especially amid this health crisis, let's remember a lot of white women are, you know, working as essential workers, raising their kids while trying to work, trying to educate their kids while schools are not in session. There's a lot of stress on the shoulders of a lot of these women. And, you know, you have to think that that's going to have some sort of impact on some of their votes this fall.

HAYES: Yes. It was -- it was interesting to me the role race played in some of your discussions. Obviously, Latino women and black women are, you know, overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton. Women of Color who voted early vote Democratic. Black women are probably the strongest Democratic demographic and also the most liberal in public opinion polling, right? So -- but race, you know, race came up time and time again, in your interviews in a really fascinating way.

JOHNSON: Yes, it was really interesting. A lot of times when I do these interviews, I just listen. And I let the women kind of take the conversation where they think is most important and what they want to say. And in every single conversation, race came up, police brutality came up, the Black Lives Matter Movement came up.

There's one woman who I spoke with who's a Republican, and they said in the future, she might be able to once again vote for Republicans but cannot vote for Donald Trump again this year. And she has two grandchildren who are biracial. And she became very, very upset when she talks about how worried she is about police brutality, but she's much more worried about that than some of the violence that's happening across the country.

A lot of these women, they just -- they call it racism. They do not like the President's racism. They do not like that the President is racially dividing this country. And they feel like things would be better if Joe Biden was in office.

HAYES: It's also interesting too because the thing you said before about the sort of make -- realizing very quickly, right, about their -- sort of buyers are more setting and fairly quickly, particularly people that actually voted for Trump. It's like, it tracks with the approval rating, right? It's been real steady. Like, people sort of figured out pretty early on how they feel about this president. He's been at 40, 42, 43, you know, bumping around for almost the entire duration of his presidency.

JOHNSON: Yes, exactly. Almost all of the women that I spoke with were embarrassed that they vote for Donald Trump. And they admitted that they really hadn't put that much thought into their vote. They really thought Hillary Clinton was going to win no matter who they voted for. They hadn't really done much research into things that Trump said or did.

They said that at that point in their life, they were really busy. They weren't monitoring the news. There's Facebook feeds that were telling them different story about Trump. And they're kind of embarrassed at what happened. They said that they're better educated now. And they also have a record that they can look at. Trump has given them something that they can look at.

HAYES: Jenna Johnson, thank you so much for sharing your great reporting. That is ALL IN for this Monday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.


Content and programming copyright 2020 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.