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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, September 2, 2020

Guests: Elissa Slotkin, Ari Berman, John Dean


President Trump can get re-elected even with a huge Biden popular vote win because of the Electoral College. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) is interviewed about Trump telling his supporters to vote twice. The Republicans sue to stop mail-in voting in several states. President Trump openly calls on Attorney General Barr to prosecute political enemies. CDC issues directive to all 50 states to prepare for COVID vaccines by November 1st.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: And that is tonight's REIDOUT. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. Two months to Election Day, and Donald Trump tells his supporters to vote twice. Tonight, why a tilted electoral field and a completely unscrupulous opponent means no lead is safe for Joe Biden.

Then, Nixon White House Counsel turned Watergate hero John Dean on Trump's new calls to prosecute political enemies. Plus, Laurie Garrett on the latest CDC move that could undermine the COVID vaccine, and how the Trump campaign is officially working overtime to elect a bigoted conspiracy theorist to Congress, when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York. I'm Chris Hayes. We are now 62 days away from the election, just about two months out. And there are a staggering number of new polls out today. I don't know if you're paying attention during the day and you're working and not paying attention, which is probably what you should be doing. But there are a ton today and they reflect the state of the race.

After both political conventions, pollsters were basically waiting until the end of both conventions to kind of take the national temperature and see if anything change. So, we got some data now and we can see if Donald Trump's argument that Joe Biden is a secret Antifa super soldier who will send hordes to invade your suburbs is working.

Well, it turns out so far, at least, not really. In fact, the race has barely moved. A raft of new national polls of Biden up by between seven and 11 points, you see them all there. And as of today, the FiveThirtyEight polling average has Biden up 7.4 points, a slight narrowing from before the conventions, but not too much, just a point or so.

Now, for people who are hoping that American democracy can survive Donald Trump, that's the good news. The bad news for those people is that because of the Electoral College, Joe Biden has to win this thing by a lot to actually become president. And that is because the Electoral College in its current form with the current demographics that we have is Jerry-rigged quasi accident from the nation's founding has become a systematically anti-democratic and indeed indefensible institution.

In the past seven elections -- think about this. In the past seven presidential elections, the Republican Party has won the popular vote once one time, but it has nonetheless taking the presidency three times out of seven, has a majority on the Supreme Court because of that. Think about that. Since 1992, since I was 13 years old, my entire adult life, I have watched Republicans win the popular vote one time.

Today, the founder and editor of FiveThirtyEight Nate Silver put out estimates for what it would take for Joe Biden to actually become president, that is win the Electoral College. Look at this. If Biden wins the popular vote by between zero and one point, according to his analysis, he only has a six percent chance of winning the Electoral College. If he wins by two -- one to two points, it's only one fifth of a chance. And if Biden wins the popular vote by two to three points, it's a toss-up with a slight edge to Trump, three points. Biden could even win the popular vote by five percentage points and still not become president according to Silver's estimates.

Now, that is because swing states are more conservative and more demographically, similar to Trump's base than the entire American nation at large. I mean, Joe Biden is going to win states like California, Massachusetts by huge margins. He's outperforming Hillary Clinton by a lot in blue states and a lot of those states. But having way higher margins and racking up tons of votes will ultimately mean nothing to him, even though those people he's appealing to are every bit as American as someone living in Columbus, Ohio.

That profoundly undemocratic reality is why even with Biden's big national lead, people are freaking out when they see polls like this one. This is the new one out of Pennsylvania, which shows Biden only up by four points among registered voters after having been up 13 points in mid-July.

Now, here's the thing that's so insane about this election, right? It is clear to just about everyone, everyone, you know, all of us who do this for a living, right, in the punditocracy, that Donald Trump is not going to win more votes from Americans than Joe Biden. In fact, it's more than that. He's not really trying to. Just sit with that for a moment.

The plan is really to lose the popular vote, and do whatever it takes to eke out an Electoral College win like he did the last time. The reality is Trump is running an entire campaign built on disinformation ridiculous lies about Biden's record and policy positions along with extravagant "in your face" deceptions like this one.

This just in the last 24 hours this photo op in Kenosha, Wisconsin yesterday. Here Trump talking to business owners in the wake of the burned down store. Trump wanted a spotlight that a store had been destroyed in Kenosha, and indeed a store had been destroyed. But the owner of said store said he did not want anything to do with Trump.

So Trump just held the event anyway with a former owner of the shop who is pro-Trump, not the actual owner. They went and found an old owner to bring into the rubble, who does not own the store that Trump promised to help them rebuild. It is just one small example of the lengths that Trump is willing to go to.

But that's, you know, cringe-inducing and flagrantly deceptive but sort of in the boundaries, I guess, in normal politics. But it's worse than that, because Trump and his allies have no compunction about using the vast powers of the president itself -- the presidency itself for Trump's own political gain, and using lawsuits to try to stop people from voting.

This is where things stand right now. They're suing in Pennsylvania to stop people from using drop boxes for mail in ballots, which of course would take the load off the Post Office. And they do that even as they undermine the Post Office. They are suing in Montana to stop an effort to allow counties the choice to use all mail ballots. In Texas Republicans on the state Supreme Court have stopped Harris County, the most populous county in the state with the biggest pool by the way of Democratic votes coincidentally, from sending everyone vote by mail applications. They've stopped them from doing that.

Meanwhile, Republican election lawyers are getting Kanye West on the ballot wherever they can, even if it requires lying when people. Get this. In Virginia, two voters say they were tricked into supporting Kanye West campaign for president and serving as electors for West, and they're suing to try to get him kicked off the ballot.

And amongst all this, even as Donald Trump falsely claims Democrats are trying to benefit from non-existent voter fraud, today, he literally, in front of the cameras, told his own supporters to try to vote twice.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But send in your ballots, send them in strong, whether it's solicited or unsolicited. The absentees are fine. We have to work together. You know, it means something. And you send them in, but you go to vote. And if they haven't counted it, you can vote.


HAYES: Oh, send in your mail-in ballot, then vote again. So that's vote twice. He's telling them -- he's not joking. You can tell he's not joking. Voting twice is a felony in many states. Also, of course, the president appears finally to be betting on his old buddy Vladimir Putin coming through for Him and who knows what other world leaders he's cut deals with.

Today, we learned the Department of Homeland Security withheld circulation, get this, of an intelligence report warning that Russia was trying to portray Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is mentally unstable. Oh, wow. That's a coincidence. Because that's exactly of course what Donald Trump and his family and campaign is doing. So, Trump and Russian intelligence, once again, both pursuing the exact same means, at the exact same time, during an election year.

Donald Trump is already standing on a step stool called the Electoral College. And even though he's historically unpopular, he is the president. He's using every tool at his disposal, no matter how immoral, how unethical even we don't know how illegal to eke out a so-called victory.

Joining me now for more on the President's attempts to undermine the election, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, Democrat of Michigan. Congresswoman, I want to start on the step that seems to be taken by DHS to prevent the distribution of intelligence bulletin, fairly straightforward intelligence product, basically saying, look, this is what Russian trolls and intelligence agents are up to. This is the narrative they're pushing about Joe Biden. Someone in DHS stop that from circulating, what's your response to that?

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Well, I mean, first of all, this is a product that should go out routinely to our state and local officials. It's a standard practice that the Department of Homeland Security does. You know -- but when I heard about the story and saw some of the documents that have made it into the papers, it really felt like a textbook case of politicizing intelligence.

And I'm a CIA officer by training and the first couple of weeks of orientation, they train you on how to identify the politicizing of intelligence. And that's when you write something, it's ready to go, and folks at the top of the chain say, no, we're going to hold it because we don't want that message going out. So, it felt like a textbook case of politicizing things and it's -- it is just kind of beyond the pale. It shouldn't be a partisan issue whether our democracy is able to function without foreign influence.

HAYES: If I'm not mistaken, I think you were a briefer at one point in your previous career. And we have now a word coming out that they basically stopped in-person briefings for members of Congress. And then this is pretty crazy. So, the Director of National Intelligence cancels verbal election security briefings. Marco Rubio now chairing the Senate Intelligence department -- Intelligence Committee says they're going to get them still, but the House is not, which seems flatly partisan. What's your interpretation of this?

SLOTKIN: Well, certainly, I think they're using the guise of potential leaks to try to get out of their obligation, frankly, to keep Congress informed. But I think if you just take a step back and think about what we're talking about, right now, you know, the question shouldn't be how do we hold that information about election security and keep it contained in a small number of people, were 60 days before an election.

We should be as much as possible declassifying that information, making sure the average person knows what the Russians are trying to do so they can make an educated assessment of what they see on Facebook. We should be trying to get that out to as many Americans as possible, not constraining it to a small number of people who never get the message out. HAYES: You wrote a letter with one of your colleagues that's about the sort of what might happen after election day. You wrote, I believe, to the chair of the Joint Chiefs, and you said that amid fears that Trump might not leave office, you and Congresswoman Sherrill, press the Pentagon for assurances on the election. What was the intent of that letter? Have what kind of response have you gotten?

SLOTKIN: Well, listen, I came from a place of frankly really love and appreciation for the military and for the apolitical nature of the military, right. My husband was in the army for 30 years, my stepdaughter is an active duty soldier, and we have to maintain an apolitical military. And over the past sis, 10 months, we've really seen an increase in that use by the president of the military for personal gain, and politicizing there their role. We saw that and Lafayette Square in July 1st.

So, myself and Congresswoman Sherrill just started thinking ahead, doing some things we were trying to do like contingency planning and saying, what are some of the scenarios that could happen here, and how do we make sure the military remains strictly apolitical? So, we asked the most senior military officer in our country three questions, one of which was will you support the peaceful transition of power?

And the President has made this a question that we have to ask. You know, he has laid down the seeds himself of doubt about the results of the election. So, it was only natural that we asked that are they going to obey the law and help support that peaceful transition. And I was glad that general Milley responded. That was important and I was glad he did that.

HAYES: Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, you are in a district that you flipped in Michigan. Final question for you. You're in a swing state in a swing district 60 days from the election, what's the number one thing driving your voters? Like, what are they talking to you about right now?

SLOTKIN: You know, I don't think it's possible to get away from the public health and economic fallout from COVID. It's just affecting every day of our lives, whether it's what our kids are doing in school, how our businesses are doing, whether we're going to have a second wave, it just every single day, you know, we're living through something extraordinary.

And people want to know what's going to happen to them, depending on who their president is. They want to know what -- someone's going to do to help them the country, their pocketbooks, their kids, that's what they're asking about.

HAYES; That sounds about right. They're going to school in Wuhan, China, but not here. Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

SLOTKIN: Thank you.

HAYES: Joining me now for more of the President's attempt to cheat his way to re-election, Ari Berman, senior reporter for Mother Jones, author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.

And Ari, I thought we would just start with a sort of step back on the Electoral College situation because it is remarkable to me and understandable, maybe that is what the way the system works, but how much everyone who covers this election thinks about as internalize it like, well, he's got to win by four points and might lose the Electoral College. Like, in every other race you cover as a political reporter, people win by five votes sometimes, or they win by 100 votes, or 4,000 votes, or half a percent, or three percent is a pretty decent win. Like we are in an anti-democratic pool is what we are swimming in right now.

ARI BERMAN, SENIOR REPORTER, MOTHER JONES: That's absolutely right, Chris. And it's amazing how much we have normalized these anti-democratic features of our political system. If we had an election in which the President was chosen by the majority of people, and every vote mattered, there would be no question that Donald Trump would lose the election. We wouldn't have to obsess over state polls about Pennsylvania because we would know that there's no way that Donald Trump would win the election because he has never appealed to a majority of Americans.

He lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, all of his signature policies are unpopular. The only reason he's in this is because a shrinking white conservative majority -- minority has a disproportionate influence in the Electoral College. The same thing, by the way, is true in the Senate, where Democrats actually got 15 million more votes than Republicans, but Republicans control the chamber because the same kind of anti-democratic features that are in the Electoral College are in the U.S. Senate as well.

HAYES: So the Trump campaign has been sort of going all out to put out a bunch of fires that they see as a threat to them, the mail-in voting, I thought the Montana lawsuit is really interesting, because it just shows that like, they are doing it wherever they can. I mean, Donald Trump should win Montana. And if it's close, I can't imagine a scenario in which Montana is close, and you know, Donald Trump is not getting walloped. And yet, they are going through the trouble to make it hard for people to have mail-in voting amidst a pandemic even a Montana.

BERMAN: Well, there is a competitive Senate election in Montana, so they do have a vested interest in that race. But the funny thing is, Chris, I am seeing --

HAYES: It's a great point.

BERMAN: -- mailers all across the country in Wisconsin in North Carolina and Texas, where the Trump campaign is encouraging its own voters to vote absentee. So, the Trump campaign is not opposed to mail voting, they're opposed to male voting when Democrats use it, and when it's easy to access. So, there's an incredible double standard here where the Trump campaign is doing everything they can to try to make it harder for certain people to vote by -- to vote by mail while whispering to their own people, make sure you vote by mail if you're uncomfortable voting in person.

HAYES: Well, and we've seen this. This is not just Donald Trump thing. This is the entire institutional Republican Party and deep conservative movement has been doing this. You have tracked it for years before Donald Trump. And in Texas, you know, Texas is a place where senior citizens can already vote by mail. They can -- their age is a reason that can get request an absentee ballot. The largest county, Harris County, which includes Houston, wanted to be able to send an application everyone, and the Texas State Supreme Court blocked it. And this is like the fulcrum of Texas politics is basically Harris County, which has been trending blue.

BERMAN: Of course, and I think Texas is an example of how Republicans have created a situation where it's quite easy for their people to vote by mail, because anyone over 65 can vote by mail in Texas, but it's actually really, really difficult for people under 65 to vote by mail, because you can't use fear of contracting COVID as a reason to get an absentee ballot.

People under 65 in the age of Texas are disproportionately people of color, disproportionately Democrats. So in Texas, Republicans are making it really easy for older white voters to vote by mail, but very hard for younger Democratic people of color to be able to vote by mail. And that's the kind of anti-democratic thing we're starting to see all across the country.

HAYES: And the final example of that, which we've seen in Georgia, we saw those lines in the Georgia primary. We got the anecdotal data about what how long it took in white precincts and black precincts. Now, we have some data to back it up. The average -- this is a new study. In white areas, the average evening waiting time in the Georgia primary was six minutes, non-white areas, it was 51 minutes.

Did we lose Ari?

BERMAN: Just us. Chris, can you hear me?

HAYES: Yes, I got you now. OK, sorry about that. It's just a staggering figure. And remember, Georgia was one of those states that previously had to approve its voting changes with the federal government. So, the Supreme Court says voting discrimination is largely a thing of the past. And what does Georgia do? They go out and they close over 200 polling places from 2012 to 2018.

They close 80 more polling places during the primaries in metro Atlanta. And now we're seeing people of color waiting on average 51 minutes to vote, white voters waiting only six minutes to vote. That is voter suppression in a nutshell.

HAYES: Ari Berman who is one of the best people on this entire beat. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. Coming up, the president goes on TV again to ask his Department of Justice to prosecute political enemies. Nixon former White House Counsel John Dean himself on the Trump abuse of power next.


HAYES: It is an unfortunate reality of the president making wildly authoritarian pronouncements no longer counts as news but it still should be news. Here he is once again calling explicitly on his attorney general to prosecute his political enemies, this time over the Russian investigation.


TRUMP: And I say this openly, Bill Barr can go down as the greatest Attorney General in the history of our country or he can go down as just another guy. It depends. They have all the stuff. You don't need anything else.

LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Bill Barr, you're saying, has to prosecute all of these individuals to be a great attorney general. I mean, he's one of the most talented attorney general that we ever have.

TRUMP: Well, look, I -- well, I'll let you know about that. And I really like him a lot, but I'll let you know about that.


HAYES: This has been a consistent message from the present from the 2016 campaign. Remember, when he told Hillary Clinton in the second presidential debate, that if he was in office, she would be in jail, he would jail her, or pursuing a long vendetta against his first Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the crime of not prosecuting the President's political enemies despite him tweeting at him to do it and for recusing himself from the Russia probe.

But now Donald Trump is William Barr, who seems very amenable to whatever the President's whims are. Now, prosecuted His enemies, it's a Rubicon we have not quite crossed, though we're very, very close to being on the edge of it. The President is trying to use the state justice apparatus in the run-up to an election for prosecutions of political enemies and dissidents.

When another President Richard Nixon abused his power, John Dean, who served as White House Counsel famously stood up and expose his corruption. He is now the co-author of a new book titled Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers. And John Dean joins me now. It's great to have you on, Mr. Dean.

Let me -- let me start with this principle here about prosecution of political enemies. We have seen the president wield the apparatus of justice as a kind of shield for his friends. We've seen William Barr intervene in prosecutions and the Department of Justice and sentencing memoranda causing people to you know, to resign and disgust. We've seen pardons. We haven't quite gotten to the point where William Barr goes out and prosecutes a person that President has identified as an enemy how, how worried are you about that? How dangerous is that?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: I'm very worried about it. That's why I did the book. And I thank you for having me on to discuss it. I, as you say, worked for the last authoritarian president. He went to a degree that he didn't cross over. And we wouldn't actually know about Nixon's authoritarianism have we not gotten the tapes. On the other hand, Trump is in the Rose Garden, playing on his authoritarianism.

How far will he take it? We've known from the outset since he was a candidate that he was a demagogic candidate, and his authoritarianism has been right out front. So it's not the authoritarianism that has worried me as much as how far his followers will let him go with it. And that's been the focus of the book.

HAYES: Say more on that in terms of the fact that, you know -- and this is something we talked about the time is program, that given all that's happened between just say the last 10 months, there's 185,000 heading towards 190,000 dead Americans and tens of millions who've lost their job, the president's approval rating is sitting right where it was before all that happened.

DEAN: Exactly. That approval rating is very representative of who his base is. It really -- it gets not much higher than 44 percent, and in some polls, not much lower than 35 percent. And that that is his core base. That's the -- that's the core of our book as well, where we want to understand who those people are, why they have the attitudes and the tolerance they do, why they have -- they're not upset with his norm-busting, anti-democratic behavior, because they're the ones who are enabling him.

Chris, they're also going to be around if Trump loses. They're not going anywhere. So, they're a part of the electorate that people have to understand and we're going to see how they play out. We think not for the better. We think they're very difficult to defeat. You cannot persuade them easily. They do not have high critical skills. They can have very inconsistent positions very comfortably. And so, it's a difficult group to deal with. And the only thing they understand is defeat.

HAYES: Yes, I mean, I would say like these people are fellow citizens. We have to learn how to live in a democracy with that, right? I mean, there's something sort of -- I mean, I bumped my head against the same kind of wall, right, which is particularly in the wake of the pandemic, to see this and think to myself, gosh, you know, there's something so deeply broken here, but there has to be.

And when you say they have to understand defeat, I mean, that's kind of the question here, right, which is that will the President use the tools of the state through William Barr to essentially ensure that you can't actually have free and fair elections?

DEAN: Well, that's a high possibility and probability right now. We discussed Barr in the book as he's one of the key enablers who we addressed, with Mike Pence and Pompeo. Those are his three horsemen of enabling. And I think bar will push it awfully far. He is dancing around the 60-day rule at the Department of Justice about when you will or will not prosecute somebody, and we'll have to see what he does.

But he obviously has got the President's whistle wet and ready to have some action, so something is going to come, and it's pure authoritarianism. And Barr is on that team. He is a clear definable authoritarian personality that we address in our book.

HAYES: I want to play one clip for you because I think there's a through-line here between Barr, Nixon, and Trump, which is this idea, this kind of paranoid projection about protests as necessarily not being organic, but coordinating someone. Nixon was obsessed with this. He always wanted to know who is -- who is behind the protest, who's pulling the strings on them. This has now become a sort of article of faith. Here's Ken Cuccinelli talking about earlier today.


KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DEPUTY SECRETARY, DHS: They draw a special attention from us when they cross state lines. When you cross state lines, you invoke other federal jurisdiction and the opportunity for the federal government to prosecute you goes way, way up, and investigate how you got there, how did you fund it and so forth.


HAYES: This is -- this is a really spreading line on the right, right now, that the protests are the coordinated product of some unseen hand.

DEAN: Well, it's a conspiracy theory that they are -- they want to believe is true. In fact, what we're seeing, Chris, is the white right nationalists are the ones who are actually crossing state lines. They're the ones that are going from state to state and rabble-rousing. So, this is a two-edged sword he's talking about. They also have to prosecute conservatives if they're crossing the line.

So, I think it's going to be a bigger problem for them on the right than it is on the -- on the potential of the left. But you're right, this is something that Nixon was very concerned about in his deep authoritarian instincts. He wanted to have this kind of demonstration because he thought he could capitalize on it and did so. He did so in the '68 election, more than he did so in the '72 election, but it necessarily was a part of his strategy.

HAYES: John Dean, his new book, Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers is out now. Thank you very much.

DEAN: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Coming up, the nakedly political move by the CDC on vaccines that jeopardizes our best shot of beating COVID. That's ahead.


HAYES: The Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota is an incredible annual tradition, one of the biggest events of the year in that whole part of the country. And despite the pandemic, the rally went ahead last month attracting hundreds of thousands of people. But even before the rally, people were rightly concerned about the potential to spread the Coronavirus.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe set up checkpoints to block rally attendees from driving through the reservation. That's how worried they were. Now, most of the events were outside but many were very tightly packed together, folks were not wearing masks. There's also a ton of close quarters mingling inside bars and restaurants.

Now, the rally is over and two weeks later, we can see the results. This map tracks the spread of cell phones that were at Sturgis. You can see people who attended the rally who stood in those crowds and hung out in those bars, they return to communities from across the entire country. And look at the states where coronavirus cases are right now spiking. South Dakota, home of the rally, unsurprisingly the worst. There are also outbreaks in the neighboring states like North Dakota and Iowa and Nebraska. And then today, in Minnesota, we saw the first death directly related to the gathering.

These are the real-world consequences of just denialism. You cannot, if there's one rule, you cannot just pretend the virus does not exist even though that is the main approach of the Trump administration. It is a lesson that you can't do that. It is less than that we have paid for with blood and misery over and over and over again.

Dr. Anthony Fauci who has spent his life battling infectious diseases has been consistent on this. Today, he told our own Andrea Mitchell, that we are in a perilous position. "We're right around 40,000 new cases, that's an unacceptably high baseline. We've got to get it down. I would like to see it 10,000 or less, hopefully, less."

The President, it appears, is not listening to Dr. Fauci. He's listening to his new pandemic advisor Scott Atlas, who earlier this week said that stopping the spread of coronavirus was not his goal.


SCOTT ATLAS, CORONAVIRUS ADVISER TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: When there are high-risk people, we must protect them. But we don't lock down the schools and we do not -- the goal of policy is absolutely not to stop all spread of COVID-19 to asymptomatic or very low-risk individuals.


HAYES: The goal is not to stop the spread of the virus. How's that working out? It is not just the President's pandemic advisor. In a climate where scientific credibility is absolutely crucial, it now seems like it may no longer be safe to trust the CDC, and that's dangerous. We're going to talk more about that right after this.


HAYES: Back on March 13th, in the waning days of the before times, just before most of the country shut down, when markets were tanking amid fears of the virus, when people were really scared and testing you'll remember was almost non-existent, huge shortage, the President gave a press conference in which he brought out a who's who of CEOs and he promised Americans the moon. There was going to be drive-thru testing at Walmart and Target and Walgreens and CVS. Google was working on a nationwide website to help facilitate the testing and identify nearby locations.

And by the end of the day, markets rallied and Trump was so proud of himself that he signed the stock chart for Fox Business host Lou Dobbs. It turns out Google was completely blindsided by the President's announcement. They had to scramble to catch up and throw up a Web site. And as far as mass testing by pharmacies, that never happened.

More than two months after Trump made that claim, NPR went and found that on average, only four percent of those company stores were hosting drive through testing sites, two months later. The whole thing was basically a con.

Now, keep that in mind because today, McClatchy got hold of an urgent letter from the CDC sent to all 50 states. And the letter order states to prepare to open vaccine distribution facilities by November 1st, two days before Election Day. And according to a letter from the CDC director, to basically get it done by any means necessary. "Consider waiving requirements that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by November 1, 2020."

Well, there's a pretty big problem with that order. And to tell us all about it, Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, columnist for Foreign Policy Magazine, and author of the book the coming plague. Laurie, I was -- I was astonished by that news today. And I'm curious as someone who has been really reporting deeply on this, what your reaction was to it?

LAURIE GARRETT, MSNBC SCIENCE CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean, on one level, none of us are surprised. We've all been talking about will there be an October surprise. And there certainly have been steps taken to try and push the FDA to approve and approve. And about a month ago, it was announced that on October 22nd, the special advisory panel at the FDA that would decide whether or not to greenlight a vaccine would be convening.

So, the timing was already kind of sitting up there, but this letter goes a whole other step. I mean, my jaw was on the floor when I saw it. I can't remember ever seeing anything like it for any outbreak and any vaccine in the United States before. It's basically telling governors all over the states and territories that you got to be ready for this private company, McKesson, to come in and run a giant operation of vaccination.

We don't have a vaccine. We don't have one. They're all still in various stages of clinical trials. None have completed phase three, the final clinical trials, to tell you whether it works and whether it's safe or not. You need to have at least 30,000 people in each of these clinical trials. Half of them get a placebo, half of them get a vaccine. You ideally want them to live someplace where vaccine is rapidly spreading, the prevalence is high, so that in a short amount of time, maybe two weeks, you can see whether or not one arm either the placebo arm or the vaccine arm has significantly more or less infection. And you want to be sure that you follow them long enough to know if it's safe.

Well, my goodness, we only have 59 days between now and November one. That's -- I mean, they'd have to be working around the clock, have absolutely nothing go wrong, have every single volunteer show up for every single appointment and Zoom through this at a speed unlike anything we've ever seen in the history of pharmaceuticals.

HAYES: You know, my read of the -- what the folks that I've talked to him been following on that say, look, the most bullish ideas that we actually -- we have made a lot of progress in the vaccine, we've got a bunch of people forging ahead, there is a lot of promising reasons to be hopeful on that front. But the most rapid possible timeline would basically be to have something we feel confident is safe and secure by the end of this year, maybe late November or December, and then administering it in January. That's like the absolute front edge. Does that square with the timeline that you have heard?

GARRETT: Yes. That's been basically the timeline Dr. Anthony Fauci has espoused. And that would be again, if everything went right, you know, and a vaccine was a clear home run. You could see without having to parse the data and do a lot of statistical machinations, you could clearly see yes, this protected people in all the various age groups.

But keep in mind, you know, in 2009, the last time we really rush to get a vaccine out the door fast because of swine flu, H1N1 swine flu, we didn't see in the pell-mell rush that some people, in the end, 62 people were getting paralyzed with gamma ray syndrome, a side effect sometimes from vaccines that are not appropriately manufactured.

And the result was that we couldn't see it because it's an incidence of one out of 10 million. Well, there's no way in the next 59 days, you're going to have any test methodology that could spot a safety hazard that's in way out of a million, much less one out of 10 million vaccine recipients. So, the safety side to me looks insane. I just -- I can't even imagine.

By the way, Chris, two the front runners are vaccines that have to be kept in dry ice at negative 80 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. So, we don't have a logistic, you know, a chain of that level of coldness for vaccine distribution in the United States. We'd have to concoct this somehow in the next 59 days for all states and territories.

HAYES: Well, and then this relates -- I mean, this sort of worries about safety relates to this bigger picture. You already have an enormous anti-vaccine movement in this country. We've seen declining levels of vaccination more broadly. Now, you've got genuine fears about this vaccine. You have a recent Gallup poll. One in three Americans would not get it. Most Americans say that the COVID vaccine approval process is being driven by politics, not science, and that's majorities of both Democrats and Republicans.

So now you've got this thing that maybe we do get the silver bullet. But if you poison the well of institutional trust in the CDC and in the science, you do damage to vaccination rates for this for actual achieving group population immunity for COVID and for vaccines in general.

GARRETT: Absolutely. And every single person in the field is saying this, please, please, please don't run the risk that we will indeed have some kind of a side effect. Even if it's something benign, you know, an aching arm. Everybody gets an aching arm after a flu shot. Well, you know, in this political atmosphere, that could be enough to poison the well, much less something really, truly dangerous.

And of course, efficacy. I mean, most of the people that it's being tried on are healthy young adults. That doesn't tell you anything about the people who are at highest risk for COVID, people with diabetes people with severely obese, people that are over 65 years of age, people that are undernourished with proper nutrition, go down the list. These are not generally being included in most of these pell-mell rush clinical trials.

So, you know, what's going to happen when you actually go out and target your vaccine vaccinations at precisely the people that you know to be at highest risk. Will it work?

HAYES: Right. All right, well, this is edifying if uneasy making. Laurie Garrett, thank you so much for making time tonight.

GARRETT: Sorry, Chris, and thank you.

HAYES: Still ahead, the open embrace of an Islamophobic bigot by the Trump campaign. That's next.


HAYES: You may have heard the name Laura Loomer. She's a certain genre -- in a certain genre of characters in the Trump base. People who are essentially fringe bigots, who then have been embraced by the President and the Republican Party in the conservative movement.

Laura Loomer has said so many vile things that she is banned from Twitter. And I mean really, really vile like "Islam is a cancer." And this rant about how she refused to have an Islamic immigrant Uber driver, which also got her banned from Uber and Lyft. And that perhaps the most vile one of all, she cheered the death of 2000 migrants who died crossing the Mediterranean literally with the applause emoji and called for 2,000 more.

Now, if someone said something like that about Jewish people, you would properly call them a Nazi. Laura Loomer is now the Republican Party nominee for Florida's 21st Congressional District, which includes Mar-a-Lago, and the President and his campaign have embraced her.

Now, this is a safe Democratic seat so there is no reason for them to expand the political capital supporting Loomer because she's not going to win. But that did not stop the president's daughter in law Laura Trump from campaigning for Loomer in person yesterday in Florida.

For more on what this means about the current state of conservative politics, I'm joined now by NBC News Reporter Brandy Zadrozny. Brandy, you have covered. Ms. Loomer's various exploits. She is a quite infamous figure in the kind of fringe alt-right, right?

BRANDY ZADROZNY, NBC NEWS REPORTER: Yes. She's famous and what was once my and my colleague Ben Collins, tiny little world of the worst, the most extreme bigots in the internet. And so -- and suddenly she's mainstream because of 2020, but she was really made a name for herself being sort of a stunt person.

So she was a bigot, she was extremists, she was a conspiracy theorist, but she worked for Rebel Media and Infowars for a time and Project Veritas sort of being a reporter. And then she just started doing these stunts. So she would just yell at reporters or during congressional hearings, or at Shakespeare in the Park, and she was much to do on Twitter.

And then Twitter banter because she is obsessed with ISIS and anti-Muslim talking and she can't stop herself. And so she said some terrible things for a long, long time. Like you just said, Twitter finally banned her. And she's used the ban as a kind of badge of pride. And that is how we are where we are today.

HAYES: You know, that there's a certain kind of person, right-wing troll who talks about virtue signaling and accuses liberals of virtue signaling. And there's a kind of inverse thing on the right, which is like vice signaling, that that you show everyone that you're terrible, and that you perform that terribleness and that has its own kind of cachet that then gets its own kind of negative attention, we say, when we're talking about children.

ZADROZNY: Yes. I mean, again, it really is a badge of honor. She has it in her campaign e-mails. "I'm the most banned person in history." That's not great. That's not Conservative. These ideas aren't just mainstream Republican. Most people believe in freedom of religion. They don't believe like Laura Loomer has said that all Muslims are savages, that all Muslim people should be kicked out of the country, that immigrants should be killed as they seek refuge on some other shore.

But she doesn't say that part out loud. She says that part on Twitter and she says that part in her social media posts. But then, you know, she can just use that I am a censored Republican, I am a censored Conservative, and that really does resonate.

HAYES: I mean, this is someone who -- it's not just Trump, right, but you've got Matt Gaetz, I think, has endorsed her and Paul Gosar, if I'm not mistaken is another Republican. But the Trump campaign, I mean, talk to -- what message does it send? I mean, this is not a competitive race, that there's no -- you know, they have a limited amount of time and effort they could use to sort of husband their political capital. To send the President's family member down there personally to campaign with her is to like say like, yes, we are with you, the woman who says "It's good that migrants died, I hope 2000 more migrants died, and Islam is a cancer."

ZADROZNY: I mean, it's a -- it's a signal, right? It's not -- there's no chance of winning this race, probably. But it seems like it's a signal just like the same signal that the President has sent to Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Republican out of Georgia that's probably going to be in Congress who believes in QAnon and has sprouted conspiracies from 9/11 to mass shootings. And he came out and endorsed her, and said "great, way to go." So that's one example.

The same thing with Kyle Rittenhouse, the young -- the 17-year-old accused of shooting two people and killing them at a protest this month, again, he's not condemning them. The message that it sends is not only well, Donald Trump and his followers not condemn the worst, most violent racist ideas, but you'll be rewarded for showing that you believe in this and for a willingness to espouse these crazy, dangerous, just terrible ideas.

HAYES: Yes, I mean, it's crazy to me that we had a whole -- there's like a whole news cycle about, you know, what is Joe Biden going to say about people, you know, breaking into a store or burning down a business. He has to condemn them and they went to Kenosha and he said, I want to be unequivocal about this. Like this is not protesting and this is wrong. Those people should be prosecuted.

And on the tail end of that, the Trump campaign sends a Trump family member to go campaign with a person who says Islam is a cancer, Islam should be banished from public life, and it's good when migrants die. Like, that's the way that we ended this news cycle about will Joe Biden condemn the, you know, the rioting.

Brandy Zadrozny who has done incredible work on this along with Ben Collins for us, thank you so much for coming on tonight.


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


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