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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, September 7, 2020

Guests: Jeffrey Goldberg, Lawrence Wilkerson, Jon Swaine, Arne Duncan, Randi Weingarten, Michelle Goldberg


Military officials decline to defend President Trump after a claim that he called dead troops "losers." Former employees of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy say he pressured them to give to GOP candidates and then reimbursed them. Across the country, schools that reopened have been forced to close down campuses or change their educational plans due to outbreaks of the virus.





JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If that's how you talk about our veterans, you have no business being President of the United States of America, period.

HAYES: New reporting on Trump's contempt for military service, wounded veterans, and soldiers killed in action.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Who would say a thing like that? Only an animal would say a thing like that.

HAYES: Tonight, the reporter who broke it all, Jeffrey Goldberg is here and says this story is just the beginning. Then, another scandal surrounding the Trump donor who has made Postmaster General. Why Louis DeJoy could now be facing a criminal investigation.

Plus the pandemic is not over, but it's back to school anyway. Arne Duncan, and Randi Weingarten are here. And 57 days from Election Day, will any of this have any effect on voters at this point? We'll discuss when this live Labor Day edition of ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York. I'm Chris Hayes. It has been a rough Labor Day weekend in the Trump White House where officials are absolutely full out freaking out about Thursday night's report in the Atlantic that Trump had characterized Americans who died in war as losers and suckers.

Trump himself has spent the past four days repeatedly denying the story, marshaling all kinds of people to come forward and knock it down. He insisted today that "only an animal would say a thing like that." The White House trotted out figures like Sarah Sanders, who we know has lied to reporters multiple times, to claim the report isn't true, because they were there when Trump didn't say the terrible things he allegedly said. I think they're hoping you don't think about that formulation too much.

The main problem for the White House here is that the evidence supporting the story is pretty obvious and clear and almost overwhelming to anyone not inside the Trump reality distortion bubble. The Atlantic Jeffrey Goldberg reported that Trump canceled a visit to an American military cemetery near Paris back in 2018 partially because he worried his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and partially because he did not respect the American war dead entered there.

"In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, Why should I go to that cemetery? It's filled with losers. In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 Marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as suckers for getting killed."

Now, the sources in the story are anonymous, which, you know, anonymous sources are not as good as names versus when you're evaluating something, but it doesn't mean that the claims came in on some anonymous tip line that no one knows who they came from. It means a reporter in this case, Jeffrey Goldberg, spoke to the people directly, interviewed them and has agreed not to identify them in the story. Jeffrey Goldberg will be here with me to talk about that in just a moment.

His initial story has now been confirmed in part or in its entirety by reporters at numerous other media outlets, OK. Remarkably, a correspondent at Fox News included in that lineup, whom Trump promptly called on the network to fire. Some of those corroborating stories included even more damning details about the president, like this one from the Washington Post, "The President told senior advisors that he didn't understand why the U.S. government plays such value on finding soldiers missing in action because they had performed poorly and gotten caught and deserved what they got.

And this from the New York Times, "People familiar with Mr. Trump's private conversations say he has long scorned those who served in Vietnam as being too dumb to have gotten out of it, as he did through a medical diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels." Back in 2019, Trump's former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen testified that Trump had admitted to faking those bone spurs, telling Cohen "You think I'm stupid? I wasn't going to Vietnam."

There's even more evidence that Trump views soldiers as stupid or suckers. Mary Trump, the President's niece, wrote in a recent book that Trump had threatened to disown his eldest son, if Don Jr. joined the military. She also says that her own father Fred Trump Jr. was mocked by Donald Trump because he, Fred Trump Jr., decided to join the U.S. Air National Guard. "My father was frequently ridiculed for his career choices, and disparaged for serving our country by both his father and by his brother Donald.

Then, there's the fact that pretty much none of Trump's top military officials, past and present, are backing the president up. I mean, you really can't find anyone who's stepping forward to defend his character, and say he would never say anything like that. They aren't disputing the story. Instead, that's been left to talking heads and former flax and loyalists.

That's maybe not a huge surprise because what Trump allegedly said about all U.S. service members fused very closely to what he said back in 2015 about one particular veteran, Senator John McCain.


TRUMP: He's not a war hero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a war hero. Five and a half years --

TRUMP" He's a war hero -- he's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, OK. I hate to tell you.


HAYES: Now, John McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for five and a half years. Everyone knows Donald Trump avoided that war, had a different experience. And an interview in the 90s, he characterized his efforts to avoid sexually transmitted diseases while sleeping with numerous women as "my personal Vietnam."

In an event with Union members today, Joe Biden lambasted the President's comments and invoked his own son beau who served in Iraq and then died from a brain tumor in 2015.


BIDEN: -- those have served, risked their lives, even gave their lives to our nation, loses and suckers. These are heroes. I'll tell you something. My Beau wasn't a loser, or a sucker. If that's how you talk about our veterans, you have no business being President of the United States of America.

HAYES: What's being entered into the record here, take a step back and look at all the evidence about Donald Trump, shocking, sort of morally offensive, it's not surprising. It's about what we have come to expect. But one big question that keeps pulling on my shoulders, why are we learning about this now? What does it mean that we are?

For more on that and the fallout from his incredible recording, I'm joined by Jeffrey Goldberg. He's the editor in chief of the Atlantic. And first, Jeff, maybe I start a little bit with the reaction to the story from the White House. You know, there are stories that come out all the time about the president that are fairly scandalous, incredibly scandalous, and a lot of times they say that's fake news and they swatted away or the news cycle moved on. They do seem particularly freaked out about this reporting, and particularly intent on attacking it. What is your sort of reading of the last three or four days of their reaction?

JEFFREY GOLDBERG, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE ATLANTIC: Well, it's a good question. First thing I would say is that, look, this is not an attack -- these are not reports of an attack on say immigrants or black people or, or something like that, something that we expect from Donald Trump and something that his base might actually help him with his base. This could hurt him with his -- with his base.

You know, the second thing is, I think there's a lot of nervousness in the White House. And again, you know, I won't -- I'm not commenting on anything having to do with my sourcing or other reporters' sourcing, Fox, Washington Post, whatever. But, you know, there's a -- there's a deep hostility and mistrust in the White House of current and former generals, people who lead the military, who saw that today. Donald Trump did something that I've never seen before. He attacked his own service chiefs. He attacked his own leaders of the Armed Forces and called them war profiteers. I mean, even in the -- even in this sort of phantasmagorical the weird 2020 race, that's still something.

But I think it has to do with the fact that this is the kind of accusation that sounds believable and also goes directly to a core constituency that Donald Trump obviously needs to keep energized come November.

HAYES: Yes. We should note that there's been polling of active duty service members in which he's underwater with them. There's been an interesting sort of officer enlisted split, but he's been losing ground even with enlisted members. He's got for net positive nine points and net -- to net negative 12 points. You can see that there. That's the latest Military Times polling.

You just mentioned what he said was pretty remarkable. Briefly sort of like channeling a kind of like, left anti-imperialism vis-a-vis his own service chiefs, although it's completely like made up and fabricated because he -- in the next breath, he's constantly bragging about how big the Pentagon budget is and how Raytheon is making off like a bandit. So -- but I want to play that clip just to get your response to it. Take a listen to what he said.


TRUMP: I'm not saying the military is in love with me, the soldiers are. The top people in the Pentagon probably aren't because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy. But we're getting out of the endless wars. You know how we're doing.


HAYES: But here's the thing, Jeff. They're not. This is what drives me insane. We have expanded our footprint, we've expanded bombings and all the theaters, this is an absolute con, this idea that the great anti-war Donald Trump has some revolt on his hands from the generals.

GOLDBERG: Yes. First of all, as you well know, the generals are usually more hesitant to go to war than -- not usually -- often more hesitant to go to war than then civilian leaders for some obvious reasons. No, this was remarkable. I mean, he's sort of channeling you know, Circa 1965 Bob Dylan lyrics here, as I saw pointed out on social media today. It's quite remarkable given that tomorrow, there's a pretty good chance that he'll brag about how much money he's spending on military hardware.

And of course, as you know, he's deeply transactional and loves it when foreign countries by our military equipment. So, if you're looking for consistency in that particular clip, you're looking for it in the wrong place. It doesn't make sense in any kind of traditional understanding of politics.

HAYES: I want to talk about the sourcing here, and I obviously know they're anonymous sources that you are protecting, and so I don't want to like say, well, was this person, was this person. But in a general sense, I had two reactions when I read the piece. One was what OK, why don't you tell this before and why not be on the record whoever you are out there.

I mean, this is -- what you're saying here is very serious stuff. It's an incredible condemnation of the President's character. I think it just his humanity, honestly. What what's your response to that?

GOLDBERG: Yes, it's interesting. And obviously, I push, and obviously, I know that other reporters who cover this area are pushing various people to say, what's on their minds. I think there's a couple of things. There's this idea of a code that, you know, you don't interfere.

I think people are torn. On one hand, they don't want to interfere in electoral democratic electoral processes. On the other hand, you're talking about a president who does something unlike they've ever experienced. I think there's also fear, I think -- and we see this across the board in Donald Trump's Washington. There's a fear on a kind of a superficial level of a Twitter mob, there's also real fear of personal safety, fear for your family, fear for what you'd put everybody around you through if you started talking about this sort of thing. And these are people just like other people and they have this anxiety.

It is a reasonable question to ask why people who have had direct exposure to Donald Trump, who know what Donald Trump has said, who knows what Donald Trump has done won't simply come out and say it. And I share that view that it's not good enough. But you know, like other reporters, I'm always balancing out the moral ambiguities and complications of anonymous sourcing with a public's right to know when the sources are not anonymous to me. Jennifer Griffin said that from Fox News when she was challenged.

And I trust these sources. These are people in the various rooms. And -- but yeah, obviously it would be better if people would say, attach their names to what they know.

HAYES: Final question for you. You said something I think over the weekend about there being sort of you expect there will be more reporting in this vein. Obviously, there's been a lot in the aftermath of your story in the Atlantic. What do you mean by that?

GOLDBERG: No, I mean -- I mean just that. I mean, I know that there are a lot of reporters moving around on this story, people with excellent sources, people are excellent reporters. And, you know, one of the things that you -- again, there's this surprising -- there's this sort of shocking, but not surprising quality to all of this.

This discourse that Trump has about soldiers about the military is no secret to anyone who's spent any time with him. It's no secret to the military at the highest levels. So, you know, I just know of reporters who are trying to figure out other aspects of this and I expect more reporting on this and everything else in the coming couple of months.

HAYES: All right, Jeffrey Goldberg, who kick this off with that report in the Atlantic came out Thursday night. Thanks for taking some time with us. I appreciate it.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

HAYES: For more on Trump's view of the military, I'm joined now by Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell. And Colonel, you've been around the highest levels of sort of civilian political point of leadership and administration, very high levels of the armed services, what was your what's your reaction to what is happening now both in terms of the actual content and what it means about what's happening beneath the surface?

LAWRENCE WILKERSON, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, COLIN POWELL: Chris, let me say one thing first. Yesterday, the interview you just did with Jeffrey and the interview yesterday that Bernstein and Jeffrey did were the best modern disquisition, if you will, on the need of a democracy, for a media for journalists like Jeffrey and like these others I've ever heard. And I think that's important to get that point out there.

And their defense of anonymous sources especially Carl Bernstein, he was eloquent in his defense of the anonymous sources, for example, he and Bob Woodward used when they essentially helped to get rid of President Nixon during the Watergate crisis. So, I think that is an important point to make. I want to emphasize that point. It's time the media stood up. It's time the media told the truth. It's time the media went after the facts despite the President's utter disregard for the facts.

But to your question, this is extremely damaging to the morale and good order and discipline of the military to have the leader of that military, the commander-in-chief of the United States of the military, to make these kind of remarks. And as to whether or not he made these remarks, I think that's no surprise. That actually is no surprise.

This man has lied repeatedly. He will say anything to titillate his base, he will do anything to solidify his own hold on power, which worries me greatly with regard to the coming elections, and we've seen it, we've seen it roll right in front of us. I don't know how any American anywhere who has heard about this, read about this even had hints about this can continue to support this particular individual. It's incomprehensible to me. And it tells me something about my country that I don't like to face.

HAYES: You know, the point about the sort of morale effect, I mean, and the plausibility of it -- I mean, Jeffrey Goldberg just saying, essentially, this is an open secret. I mean, one of the ways I interpreted this is that, you know, active service members are just a subset of a larger group of people that aren't Donald Trump, that he views as marks. Those can be evangelical supporters, they could be people that voted for him, they could people who didn't vote him, his political enemies. Anyone who isn't -- I mean, he seems to bear tremendous amount of condescension and contempt and view everyone is sort of a mark that essentially isn't him.

And so in that way, I think that's the sort of response so many people have of like, yes, I could -- I could see him saying that.

WILKERSON: No, I certainly could too. In fact, I could see him inside the Oval Office with some of his closest advisors talking about Christians in that way, especially fundamentalist Christians mocking them, making fun of them. And there's no doubt in my mind that he's probably done that before, just as we now see he's done with the military.

This is a man with no conscience. This is a man with no decency. This is a man who doesn't understand what it is to be a human and to feel for other humans. I just looked at the PME, the Professional Military Education response to this directive that just went out. Here's another destabilizing to the military move. The directive essentially tells them that they'll stop affirmative action type, any kind of -- any kind of education that's based on showing systemic racism, how to fight it, and so forth and so on.

Well, I picked up Proceedings Magazine, the U.S. Navy's and probably one of the most prestigious military publications. On page 14, there's a picture, a picture on both pages of all the four-star admirals and generals and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and Trump in the center beaming. They are all white, and they are all male. So, tell me again how we don't need this education and training.

We're about to have some pushback majorly from the universities and colleges within the military. And well, there should be.

HAYES: I always want to make sure that when speaking with -- when I speak to you about sort of bringing it back to the substance of the President's record here. And one of the things I find really maddening as I expressed with Jeff just a second ago is this idea of him attempting to position himself as some sort of noble dissident on behalf of ending endless wars who's now being, you know, stabbed in the back by ungrateful generals.

I mean, the president vetoed something passed by both houses of Congress with Republican support to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia to continue this ghastly war in Yemen. He vetoed it so we can keep selling them arms. He sat with Mohammad Bin Salman and pointing to like he was pointing to a desert menu the various pieces of military equipment that we sold the Saudis. Troop levels have stayed at basically the same. We have increased our bombing in civilian areas. There is no record here of actual resistance to, you know, to ending endless war as he talks about it.

WILKERSON: I think what you're seeing is the depth of desperation that some people around him and maybe even he himself are reaching. This, I think was quite a blow to his base. As you pointed out in your opening remarks, the military time series of newspapers has shown polling that says he's falling off remarkably in the military in terms of favorability. And is this favorability is rising just as markedly?

I think he's desperate and I think he's looking for things he picks pieces up here and pieces here. He says, oh, the military-industrial complex. I can rail against that and I'll get some of them back. I'll do this, I'll do that. I'll be against war and I'll get the rank and file back. Well, as you pointed out also in your opening remarks, none of these washes. The military is not stupid.

When the military is in Syria, in Asia, in Mali, in Somalia, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, the military knows, hey, we're here, Mr. President. I've said on Memorial Day, I said, General Powell, you should have said -- I said it to the T.V. screen, I didn't say it to him. You should have said if you really want to memorialize American soldiers, bring them home from these stupid wars.

Well, now he's picking up on that as a last desperate act to try and regain some ground with the military. Sorry, Mr. President, you've lost that ground.

HAYES: Yes, that's a -- it's a great point. If there is anyone in this country 20 years into the war in Afghanistan and the, "global war on terror" who knows exactly where U.S. members are deployed and how much we have not "brought them home," it is the actual members of the U.S. Military. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, it's always a great pleasure to talk to you. Thank you for your time tonight.

WILKERSON: Thanks for having me, Chris.

HAYES: Tonight, to new potentially criminal allegations, criminal allegations against Republican megadonor turned Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. And you know, it's bad when even the President will not defend you. I'll talk to one reporter who broke the story next.


HAYES: The controversial, that's putting it mildly, Republican donor turned Postmaster General Louis DeJoy now stands accused of a potential crime. The Washington Post reporting that many of the employees that his former logistics company felt pressure to make political donations, donations that, get this, DeJoy later reimbursed.

And this is not just anonymous former employees accusing DeJoy of violating election law. There are people on the record like for instance, the company's former H.R. director, "Louis was a national fundraiser for the Republican Party. He asked employees for money. We gave him the money and then he reciprocated by giving us big bonuses, said David Young. DeJoy's longtime director of human resources who had access to payroll records at New Breed from the late 1990s to 2013 and is now retired."

Now, DeJoy was even asked about this very kind of thing just last month when he testified before the House Oversight Committee.


REP. JIM COOPER(D-TN): Did you pay back several of your top executives for contributing to Trump's campaign by bonusing or rewarding them?

LOUIS DEJOY, POSTMASTER GENERAL, USPS: That's an outrageous claim, sir, and I resent it.

COOPER: I'm just asking a question.

DEJOY: The answer is no.

COOPER: So, you did not bonus or reward any of your executives --


COOPER: -- anyone that you solicited for contribution to the Trump campaign?

DEJOY: No, sir.


HAYES: Outrageous. It's funny because your former H.R. director says you did just that. Today, the President responded to the allegations against his Postmaster General with a familiar refrain of professed ignorance.


TRUMP: I don't know too much about it. I read some this morning, but I don't. Other than that, I have to see it. He's very respected man. He was approved very much by both parties, I guess. It was sort of an approval that took place by both parties. I don't know exactly what the story is. I'll certainly know within a short period of time. I just read it for the first time. I read it this morning just like it did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you support an investigation, sir?

TRUMP: Sure. Sure. I think let the investigations go. But he's a very respected man.


HAYES: Sorry, Louis. Here with me now, one of the reporters in the Washington Post investigative reporter, Jon Swaine. Jon, thank you for being with us. Fantastic reporting. Walk us through just the basic lines here about what is being alleged by whom at this former firm that DeJoy used to run.

JON SWAINE, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER. WASHINGTON POST: So, what's being alleged is that five former employees of Louis DeJoy's New Breed logistics told us that they felt pressure to give two Republican candidates that DeJoy hosted at his mansion, that DeJoy raise money for. So, we spoke to plant managers who would get an e-mail from DeJoy saying, I'm hosting Giuliani at my house. And then they get a follow-up call, or a plant visit from their supervisor saying, Louis is having this event. You've got to give.

And they felt that this might affect their jobs and might affect their sort of how well they did at the company going forward. And at the same time, as you pointed out, two senior employees tell us that what was going on was that with more senior, more executive people at the company, when they were giving donations, they were actually getting reimbursements via bonuses.

And so, as you pointed out, that is illegal. You cannot have donations from yourself being given by other people and give them the money for it. There's limits on how much people can give in donations. And so, it would be a crime if proven.

HAYES: Yes, I mean, just -- it's flatly illegal. People do actually get prosecuted for this. It's one of the few sort of -- one of the rare campaign finance violations that is just sort of flatly illegal and people do get busted for it. Just to give a little context here, I mean, part of what is going on here is that he was having these fundraisers raising what's called hard money, which is capped at a certain amount, right?

So he's -- he wants people to come because he's got -- he wanted to -- he wanted it to be as big an event as possible because the event -- the dollar figure of the event is going to depend on how you will come out and write checks, hence the pressure. Is that -- is that sort of how you understand it?

SWAINE: Possibly. And you know, there are -- when you look through the FEC records, there are certainly things that stand out. On one day in September 2014, 10 New Breed employees each gave identical donations to Senator Thom Tillis in North Carolina that each gave $12,600, the maximum, for his victory Committee. The next day the same 10 employees give $10,000 to the North Carolina Republican Party.

And so, you know, it's possible that people agreed to put these things in their name and received bonuses to make up for it.

HAYES: This also relates directly to DeJoy. This is not a tangential story about his past in so far as it seems quite clear that his fundraising prowess is part of the way in which he managed to end up in the position he's in now.

SWAINE: Well, that's right. He's built a reputation first in North Carolina. He and his wife became quite remarkable power brokers in the state Republican Party, raising money for Governor Pat McCrory and for the state party. And then, on the national scale, with President Trump in 2016, they hosted him on the lawn of their nice gated mansion up at a country club in June 2016 for Donald Trump's birthday.

And I think it's fair to say that they impressed Donald Trump, they impress people around him with their ability to raise money, not just from themselves that give him millions personally but from their employees. And so, you know, when it came, it seems to selecting someone to run the Postal Service, to overhaul the Postal Service, the way Donald Trump wants to, it's perhaps not surprising that someone like Louis DeJoy who has impressed Trump with his fundraising ability was chosen.

HAYES: Final question, briefly, do we know if there are any investigations into this very -- this set of allegations?

SWAINE: Well, the North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, he released a quite cautious statement yesterday saying it would be illegal for this to be happening, but he couldn't say much more because this will be in his jurisdiction. And so, it seems he's definitely got his eye on it. Other Democratic state AGs put out the statement saying that they thought he was the right person to be investigating it.

There is no statute of limitations it seems on these offenses in North Carolina that would perhaps be outside the statute of limitations federally. So, the time we're looking at runs from 2000 to 2014. It's a 5-year statute of limitations. It may be that U.S. attorneys don't have the ability to look at it, but in the state, Josh Stein, perhaps will.

HAYES: Fascinating. Jon Swaine, great reporting and thank you for coming on to share it with us.

SWAINE: Thanks. Still ahead, more students are returning to schools that have largely come up with a patchwork of policies to try to address the ongoing pandemic. What we're seeing in classrooms and on campuses after this.


HAYES: It is back to school season, of course, and the K through 12 American educational system is in kind of chaos thanks to a patchwork of policies to address the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, which is still not suppressed and we still have 40,000 cases a day. Places with high rates of infection like Texas began reopening last month even as they had very high rates without even tracking Coronavirus data inside the schools or providing it to the public.

There's now a pilot program to fix that. It's underway. And then there are places like here in New York where the state's positivity rate is very low, and it's stayed low for a very long time. And yet still schools in New York City push back they're reopening by more than a week. And when they do open, in-person classrooms will have about a third of the typical capacity with kids only coming a few days a week.

And across the country, schools that reopened have been forced to close down campuses or change their educational plans due to outbreaks of the virus. And all this is happening before it gets cold and we move into cold and flu season. I'm joined now by Arne Duncan, former Secretary of Education under President Obama and author of How Schools Work and Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.

Great to have you both. Arne, let me start with you and maybe just get your sort of top line assessment of where things stand. It is so -- I mean, we've been trying on the show and in various ways to get some sort of comprehensive view of even the basics of who's in school full time in class, who's in hybrid, whose distance, what the numbers are. Even that doesn't seem like it's accessible data. It's very hard to get your hands around what this falls schooling in America looks like.

ARNE DUNCAN, FORMER SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Well, Chris, I just got to say, I can't tell you how furious I am. We should not be in this situation. No teacher, no child, no parent deserves this. The truth is the vast majority of kids around the country cannot go to physical school because it is not safe to do so. The absence of leadership at the federal level has had a devastating impact on kids' education in the spring, and now going into the fall and that hasn't changed.

And so, when you have a federal leaders that try and bully, try and threaten but not solve problems, you get the mess that we're in now. Having said that, I just think that this just courageous leadership at the local level, school superintendents and teachers and principals working together, try and figure out how to feed children or take care of their social-emotional health, and how to best educate them in this really difficult time.

But if you look at international benchmarks, we have less than half the population of Europe, we have 60 percent more cases. In other countries, they are going back to school safely, because they have done the hard work necessary to do that. We have refused to do that hard work. We have refused to listen to science in Chicago -- I'm sorry, in the nation, and the consequences are devastating.

HAYES: You know, Randi -- I want to -- so my -- what Arne just said I think is obviously the position I have on the show and have had for a while, and you know, that -- you know, the biggest problem here is the virus is not suppressed and the failure at a national strategy, right?


HAYES: But if we sort of say that is the case, that is the reality, I want to present into the argument that I've heard for in-person schooling in places like the Northeast New York and Maryland that have low positivity rates, and it basically goes like this. In places where there is very low daily case count and a very low positivity rate, we should be pushing to do in-person full-time schooling because the risks which are there are worth it given the value of public education, the value to children, and the equity problems that are going to happen from another semester of remote learning, and that the resistance is coming from folks, frankly, your members, who are worried about the health risk. What is your response to that argument?

WEINGARTEN: Well, let me -- first off, let me just concur with everything that Arne has just said. And frankly, if Arne or Margaret Spellings were -- had been the Secretary of Education, they would have pulled people together to have plans and have resources The issue with what you just said is take the issue of full time, which is that if we had double the amount of space and double the amount of teachers, you probably -- you don't have the resources to have the safeguards that even the CDC, even after pressures still say are needed, you could probably have done that.

But what has happened is that people like myself, and you've heard me say this before, since April, have been trying to figure out how to reopen school safely. And ultimately, we need to make sure that we have the safe parts to do that, the spacing to do that, the math to do that, and none of those things actually happened this year. And that's been part of the problem right now because you put all of that on teachers and parents as opposed to actually looking at the science of 300 percent more cases.

Look at what's happened in terms of higher education, look at what's happened in terms of colleges. Look at what's happened in terms of Florida and Texas. So my members, when we thought we were going to get the resources, and we thought that there -- and before there was that spike in July, 75 percent of my members said, they were confident going back to school, because of all the reasons you just said, because we know that out of school learning or in school learning is so much better. But with the recklessness and with the chaos and with the lack of resources, what happened is there's no confidence and no trust.

HAYES: You just mentioned, Arne -- Randi just mentioned the campus situation. And I have to say like, again, there's a huge spectrum here. Some campuses it seems have been doing a pretty remarkable job in terms of testing. Arizona -- University of Arizona State I think caught was using, you know, sewage samples. They caught an outbreak in a dorm so there's been some really encouraging creative stuff.

But also, I look at these numbers, University of Ohio with 1,000 cases, University of Alabama 1,400 cases, they're going to open bars up. It just seems like madness to me to watch certain campuses opening as if it's 2019 in terms of student life and then announcing like, oh, we have to close.

DUNCAN: So again, Chris, this is the total absence of federal leadership at the top is having a devastating impact. We have 15,000 school districts around the country trying to figure this out for themselves. We have well over 5,000 universities trying to figure this out by themselves. They are talking, they're working together. Some places are making better decisions than others, but we put them in basically an untenable situation, if we had a national plan, if we had reliable fast testing at scale, if we had contact tracing, if we had the ability to quarantine, if we were committed to those things, then universities wouldn't be in these situations and K to 12 education wouldn't be in this situation.

But everyone's trying to do this by themselves. Some are doing a beautifully, some are struggling with it. And you're right, people who aren't taking this seriously are paying a tremendous cost. They're opening for a day; they're opening for a week and they're shutting right back down. That serves nobody well. I say all the time, the goal is not to reopen schools, the goal is to keep schools open. Do it slowly, gradually, thoughtfully, carefully.

HAYES: Randi, every parent that I've been in contact with, and there's a lot of them, it just has a knot in their stomach about the fall. A lot of them are already just in sort of, you know, in a pit of dread. I got to imagine teachers are also really stressed out about this fall. Like where is the morale --

WEINGARTEN: Oh my God. Everybody is --

HAYES: -- the morale of teachers heading into this who were already in the classroom or doing their Zoom lessons.

WEINGARTEN: Look, Chris, everyone is agonized by this because even the -- you know, even a situation like Florida, where it was pretty clear that school should not reopen, and where Miami schools did not reopen because you had people who were courageous and are willing to defy DeSantis' denials, people are agonized because we know how much this hurts kids.

The issue is we can't pit life versus learning. But I would say that I don't know a person, I don't know a teacher, I don't know a parent who's not agonized about all of this, which is part of the reason why we've just really tried to focus on the science in how to do the kind of testing. And I think what Michael (INAUDIBLE) really pushed for in New York was really important, and how to make sure we have the safeguards.

HAYES: We're going to have -- New York City is going to be the only really large district with kids in school at all starting in about a week and a half, and we're going to get to see how that plays out a bit. I'm fingers crossed and hopeful about that. Arne Duncan and Randi Weingarten, this is going to be one of the biggest stories through the fall, so we'll have you back and thank you for coming on tonight both of you.

DUNCAN: Thank you.

HAYES: Still ahead, despite nationwide protests, a historic pandemic, and economic crisis, why aren't presidential poll numbers moving it all? 57 days away from Election Day, polling stability in the middle of incredible instability after this.


HAYES: The central paradox of this election, in my humble opinion, is that it is simultaneously the most tumultuous election year in decades, and the most stable presidential race in decades. I mean, the head to head polling average from exactly six months ago, when 190,000 Americans are still alive before the full effects of this once in a century pandemic, economic contraction, civil unrest when Biden didn't even have clinched the nomination yet, it's not that different than where it is now. I mean, it is shocking how stable this race has been.

As Ezra Klein put it in Vox, "the stability unnerves me because it undermines the basic theory responsive democracy. If our political divisions cut so deep that even 200,000 deaths and 10.2 percent unemployment and a president musing about bleach injections can shake us, then what can? I want to talk about that central question, "Can anything move us?" with Sahil Kapur, he's NBC News, national political reporter, and Michelle Goldberg, columnist for The New York Times.

And first I guess, let's just start on that, the stability here. You've got the approval rating that, you know, 43 percent approved, 52.6 percent disapproved. You've got the polling looking like Biden plus eight and Biden plus seven and Biden plus nine, Biden plus some percent like this. Are you surprised, Sahil, at the stability so far?

SAHIL KAPUR, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: I am a little bit, Chris, but I'm also not. This is staggeringly consistent, and the reason for this is not entirely because of Trump. Yes, he does have a cult-like element of his base who, 1you know, who just love the man and who had find to belief in over other things even when the evidence isn't quite there.

But this is really trend of negative partisanship that has seeped into the country over the last two to three decades where the share of floating voters who swing between the two parties has shrunk to about six or seven percent, and there are fewer and fewer of them. And that's why -- you know, that's why this race is so stable. The single biggest beneficiary of that is Joe Biden right now.

He is not galvanizing and inspiring a movement behind a specific governing vision. He is winning this race right now because he's not Donald Trump, and he's being sufficiently acceptable as an alternative to Trump to the majority of Americans who consistently say they disapprove.

HAYES: You know, Michelle, I go back and forth on how I view this. At one level, it's the optimism I have, or at least sort of bright side is like, look like Hoover got about 40 percent of the vote, you know, running for reelection in you know, one of the worst wipeouts in history in 1932 amidst depression. You know, if Trump gets 42 percent, like that's in the Hoover range. So like, that's about as low as you can go.

On the other hand, I think to myself, like oh, 42 percent of the country would basically be OK with literally anything if you're still bored at this point.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, 42 percent of the country looks around at all of this and says I approve. And what can they approve of besides the misery that Donald Trump is inflicting on his enemies? I mean, to me, that's what's so unnerving. When there was at least a good, you know, kind of a surface good economy, when there wasn't a pandemic, you could tell yourself that people were just, you know, voting their pocketbook or kind of, you know, maybe not following the details of Trump's corruption.

If you look around the country right now and you approve of what's happening, again, it just means that you approve of the suffering of your enemies. And when you have that big portion of the country that that's their sort of governing political imperative, it's hard to see how that resolves itself in a peaceful way.

HAYES: You know, we've also -- we've also got more and more time in sort of pulling data, Sahil, on -- in both battlegrounds, particularly in Wisconsin. I thought, you know, we've been forever turning this topic because it was a source of such intense to angst and also attention, right, that you had a black man shot seven times in the back by a white police officer, you had peaceful protests and also buildings being burned down and broken into, and images of unrest and this idea that Donald Trump is going to benefit from politically. And the latest Wisconsin -- again, it's like -- it's like nothing happened, right?

The latest Wisconsin bowling has Biden up by six, in the CBS News YouGov polling. That's got to be -- if you're -- if you're gaming this out for Trump, it's like, it feels like they ran the experiment over the last few weeks, and it didn't work.

KAPUR: This is a real warning sign for President Trump, Chris, because Wisconsin is ground zero for where this message should work if it's going to work anywhere. The Kenosha police shooting and the violence and unrest that has resulted from it is fresh and people minds on the local news constantly. If that's not resonating no, then when will it resonate?

And Wisconsin is precisely the kind of demographically friendly state where this should resonate for President Trump. It's got a disproportionately high share of white voters who don't have college degrees, which is precisely the audience for this. So again, if it doesn't work in Wisconsin, where is it going to work?

The recent polls from CVS and YouGov show him down -- it showed the president down six points. There's a Fox News poll that showed the president down even more, eight points in Wisconsin. And the biggest warning sign for the president in that poll was that on the issue of policing and criminal justice, Wisconsin voters said they trusted Joe Biden over President Trump with five points. If you look at that, you have to think this message is probably not going to work.

HAYES: And it also just seems to me, Michelle, the loopback stability is that again, on the sort of bright sides, it's like 50 percent of the country, 51 percent is just like done with them. They're done with them. It doesn't like -- it just doesn't matter what the message is, what he says, what ads he runs, like, they're just done with them. They know who this guy is. They know what's going on around the country. Like that's it.

GOLDBERG: Yes. And you see polls -- you see polls -- you see polls where, you know, around 50 percent say that they wouldn't consider voting for Donald Trump. And so, you know, once you sort of -- although, you know, I don't think anybody should be complacent, right. I mean, I think that we were all talking about the durability of Hillary Clinton's lead, even if it was never quite this durable at this time four years ago, I think that things could still go sideways.

I've seen people, you know, reputable pollsters say there's a one in seven chance that Donald Trump could still win this election. You know, that's better than your odds of, you know, somebody tells you -- if somebody tells you, you have a terrible disease and you have a one in seven chance of dying from it, you're not going to sit back and relax, right? I think we're still in a very perilous place.

HAYES: Yes, that's probably a good way to put it. Like, six out of seven, I'm in there. Michelle Goldberg, Sahil Kapur, great to have you both. Thank you both.

So, we've still got a lot to get to tonight, including the President's dangerous vaccine Hail Mary to save as floundering election campaign, and how to protect the election now that voting is officially underway, it started. That and much more still ahead on a special Labor Day two hour ALL IN. Don't go anywhere.



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