The January 6 Select Committee on Tuesday subpoenaed the leaders of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, extremist groups that responded to former President Donald Trump`s call to descend on Washington and played central roles in the attack on the Capitol. A jury in Virginia decided Tuesday that leaders of the Unite the Right rally should pay more than $25 million in damages to plaintiffs who said they suffered physical or emotional injuries during the deadly rally in Charlottesville in 2017. The President announces he is taking a rare step of releasing oil from the nation`s Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to address rising gas prices ahead of the holiday season.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: And now death has cast its long shadow over this beloved family once again. Malikah Shabazz was just 56 years old. The entire Shabazz family is in the hearts and the prayers of our family tonight. And that`s tonight`s "REIDOUT." ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Who would you like me to condemn? Who?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White supremacist and Proud Boys.
TRUMP: Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.
HAYES: New subpoenas handed down to the Proud Boys and other militia groups involved in January 6th. Tonight, what they mean for the investigation and the through-line from the fringe to the mainstream Republican movement.
Plus, a big victory in Virginia. The people behind the deadly Charlottesville rally found liable for millions of dollars in damages.
Then, Michelle Goldberg on the danger of political despair and John Podesta on Joe Biden`s battle against rising gas prices.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will take time, but before long, you should see the price of gas drop where you fill up your tank.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES (on camera): Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. You know, this week, we mark 58 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as his motorcade drove through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. And yesterday, on the anniversary of that assassination, this was the scene at Dealey Plaza. A small crowd gathered, and this red pickup truck drove in circles proclaiming Trump won 2020 along with a bunch of QAnon slogans.
Now, we`ve mentioned this group before. It`s a small group. They`re a splinter faction from the fringes of the far-right QAnon movement. In fact, three weeks ago, hundreds of members of this cult, for lack of a better word, assembled at Dealey Plaza awaiting the return of John F. Kennedy and his son JFK Jr. who of course died in a plane crash tragically in 1999.
They believe the Kennedys are not actually dead and will reveal themselves in order to help reinstate Donald Trump as president. Now, it was supposed to happen at 12 29 p.m. on November 2nd. Obviously, that did not happen. But a hardcore group remains in Dealey Plaza still waiting for something to happen.
The leader of this cult promised "something big yesterday." You could look at all this and be forgiven for thinking the country is going through a bit of a psychotic episode. But of course, look, all kinds of people with all kinds of politics in all kinds of places believe all kinds of bananas things. Probably people watching this, probably I do.
So, I don`t necessarily want to single this group out. The reason they`re noteworthy is because their peculiarities and their beliefs are associated with a certain faction of the American right that are adjacent to part of the bigger lie being pushed by the leader of the entire Republican Party.
Now, it`s worth noting that as berserk as the country`s politics seem right now, and they really do, there`s also a case to be made. It has just always been like this. We`ve always had wild fringe elements of political parties and cults and conspiracy theories. You know, in fact, John F. Kennedy was supposed to deliver a speech in Dallas on November 22, 1963 where he planned to speak out against misinformation and conspiracies.
He was supposed to say in part, "Ignorance and misinformation can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country`s security. There will always be dissident voices heard in the land expressing opposition without alternative. Those voices are inevitable. But today, other voices are heard in the land, voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality."
Doctrines wholly unrelated to reality. Kennedy never got the chance to give that speech. Of course, he was murdered before he reached the venue where he planned to deliver it. And 5,000 copies of this flyer were handed out by the far-right in Dallas in the days leading up to Kennedy`s 1963 visit. You can see it there, wanted for treason it proclaims. The punishment of treason, of course, being death.
The rhetoric here is more oriented around the concerns of the moment, Cold War and communism, than some of the modern incarnations of the right. But still, listen for a second because it all sounds honestly pretty familiar. Here`s a quote.
"He is turning the sovereignty of the U.S. over to the communist-controlled United Nations. How about this one? He has given support and encouragement to the communist-inspired racial riots. He has consistently appointed anti- Christians to federal office.
This is pretty standard John Birch Society stuff, of course, the far-right faction of the time. And for the most paranoid militant part of the American right, this is what it sounded. And they`ve been with us for decades upon decades. You can draw a straight line from those people, the folks that would write print up and hand out those flyers who were handing them out in Dallas in 1963 saying, wanted for treason.
You could draw a straight line from that to the modern version in say, the person of Alex Jones, the far-right radio host, prominent conspiracy theorist who claims among many other completely crazy things that the massacre at Sandy Hook was a false flag. It was staged. A group of powerful elites are plotting to take over the world. And if you get him on the top of the United Nations, he sounds just like the people who printed up those flyers, believe me.
Jones was also a key figure pushing the big lie that the election was stolen and he was pushing it ahead of the insurrection on January 6. Here he is in Washington on January 5th.
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ALEX JONES, CONSPIRACY THEORIST: We have only begun to resist the globalists. We have only begun our fight against their tyranny. They have tried to steal this election in front of everyone. As I told them 20 years ago, I tell them again, (INAUDIBLE) they will fight, they better believe they got one.
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HAYES: The globalist, the globalist, the globalist conspiracy. The tyranny of the foreigners. Jones is the ultimate personification of that famous essay by Richard Hofstadter on the "paranoid style in American politics" written in the time of that flyer, the wanted for treason flyer, in President Kennedy`s visit to Dallas.
"American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years, we`ve seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers. But behind this, I believe there`s a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wing. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes a sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind."
And while Alex Jones is not handing out flyers, he`s been in fact exiled from major social media platforms, he`s also been found liable in a civil court for the lies he told about Sandy Hook. He is also a person who was coordinating by his own admission with then-President Donald Trump`s team, a person at the ear of the most powerful person in the world who was attempting a coup to keep himself in power.
Trump was mobilizing precisely those forces led by Alex Jones who`s there on January 6 fomenting the big lie, whipping up the crowd. And as you`ve probably heard, Alex Jones was subpoenaed by the January 6 Committee yesterday. Today, the committee issued new subpoenas to other figures who are right in line with the Alex Jones paranoid style and with the people who handed out those flyers in 1963 wanted for treason.
The subpoenas went to three far-right militia or paramilitary groups who the committee says were involved in the planning of the riot on January 6. They are the Proud Boys International and its chairman Henry Enrique Tarrio, the Oath Keepers and its president Elmer Stewart Rhodes, and the first Amendment Praetorian and its chairman Robert Patrick Lewis.
We`ll have more on those subpoenas later. The thing that makes this moment different and distinct in American politics because I think you can see the continuities here and it`s important not to fall prey to the allure of presentism. This country has been around a while. Things have been pretty nuts here for a long time.
It`s not the presence of people like Alex Jones or people like the group that passed out those fires in Dallas, it`s the fact that one of our two parties is captured by that faction. The beliefs of those extreme fringes are the politics of the man who was President of the United States who put their conspiracies into motion in his final days in office to attempt the most serious and grave assault on our democracy probably since the civil war.
That sequence of events has now been documented in several books. It`s going to be documented in the final report of the committee. There have been some huge new scoops coming out of the latest one, Betrayal by Jonathan Karl of ABC News.
Karl reveals that in an interview after January 6, Trump showed a lack -- total lack of concern for his vice president`s safety that day, despite the fact the rioters were chanting hang Mike Pence and Pence had to spend hours hiding from the mob. Karl also reported there are photos of Pence in hiding in an underground parking garage, but Pence would not give permission to publish them.
And Karl wrote that Donald Trump once asked his Director of Intelligence to investigative conspiracy theory that smart thermostats were used to hack into Georgia`s voting machines. Jonathan Karl is chief Washington Correspondent for ABC News, author of Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show, a look at the conspiracy-addled closing days of the Trump administration, and he joins me now.
Jonathan, great to have you. I want to start on that last point because it sort of perfectly fits here, I think, that the idea of the President of the United States saying hey, I found this piece of internet conspiracy theory made its way to me. I want you to go check out if they were using the smart thermostats to hack the Georgia voting machines, embodies I think the kind of like, universe of information that the most powerful man in the world was both consuming and believing. And it comes across in your book.
JONATHAN KARL, AUTHOR, BETRAYAL: Yes, consuming, believing, and asking the top people in the national security apparatus of the federal government to act on this. I too read Richard Hofstadter as a high school student. The paranoia has been out there. The conspiracies have been out there. You can go to the far reaches of the internet and look up all these QAnon things.
But what was significant here is Trump actually asked the top intelligence official in the U.S. government, the Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, to look into this and look into other conspiracy theories. And his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, if it wasn`t looking at wireless thermostats made in China controlling machines in Georgia, it was Italian military satellites used to switch votes through the Dominion machines, or server farms in Germany.
These were all things that were -- that were pursued at the highest levels. Meadows himself, you see in e-mails and documents that have been released now by the Department of Justice asking top DOJ officials to investigate.
I also learned that this crazy Italian gate -- Italy gate conspiracy was January 2nd, the same day as the Raffensperger call. Meadows had the Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller meet with the lieutenant general who was in charge of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the chief of staff of the Pentagon, an emergency Saturday meeting to talk about getting to the bottom of this Italy conspiracy. It`s nuts but it`s at the highest levels of government.
HAYES: Yes. This -- so this was -- I mean, this was -- again, these were these -- the kinds of things that you know, you could -- again, there`s the long continuity, right? Like, fluoride is being used by the communists to brainwash Americans into supplicants, right? Like, decades and decades in the making.
This is of that type, right, that there`s some Italian satellite that`s changing votes, But you`ve got Meadows convening an emergency meeting of the DOD and also pushing the Department of Justice like, to put the weight of the U.S. government behind it.
KARL: There was a scene in Betrayal where the president himself is asking the Director of National Intelligence to look into this stuff. And he explains, look, the Director of National Intelligence -- we don`t investigate. That`s the FBI that investigates. That`s not our thing. Then, he said, well, can you please ask the FBI Director -- Trump, he probably didn`t say please, but he asks him to ask the FBI Director to look into this.
And there`s a reason why he`s asking John Radcliffe to do that because the president is not on speaking terms with his own FBI Director Chris Wray who he had wanted to fire. So, he`s asking him to look into it. And Wray is saying, look, it`s not really my thing. And he -- and Trump actually says to him, wait but you`re the DNI. You`re the head of all the intelligence agencies. And the FBI is one of those agencies, isn`t that right? It`s just unbelievable.
And he does actually call the FBI and ask them if they`ve looked into this. This was a crazy conspiracy theory regarding Antrim County in Michigan, their voting machines being controlled out of Europe. I mean, totally nuts stuff. You expect it to be out there, but not to be something that the President of the United States is asking the top intelligence official in the U.S. government to act on.
HAYES: And we should note, again, this comes across in your account and in others obsessively. I mean, these are not passing idle fancies. In fact, in the days after the election, the obsession of everyone in the President and the President`s circle is on essentially substantiating the lie that the election was stolen and essentially all resources are devoted towards that end.
KARL: All resources, all means necessary. And he tries to motivate -- to activate the entire U.S. government to this effort. It`s the Pentagon, it`s the Justice Department. He was blocked by -- the Justice Department refused to go along with this, first under Bill Barr, then under Jeffrey Rosen.
And then, of course, even in January you have the scene where he`s talking to Jeffrey Clark, the head of the environmental division, with no experience in any of this whatsoever, to take over as the acting attorney general so he can finally have somebody to use the resources of the Justice Department to seize voting machines.
You know, fortunately, there were people all along the way that said no. In that case, all of the other senior officials in the Justice Department threatened to resign if Clark was made acting attorney general. But he was willing to do anything and everything to overturn the election.
HAYES: Yes. And there`s a connection, I should note, between his inability to get what he wanted out of the mechanisms of the U.S. government whether it`s pressuring Raffensperger or DOJ and ultimately resorting to essentially hurling the crowd at the Capitol. I mean, basically, what happens is he can`t get it out of DOJ, he can`t get it out of the people that he tries to bully, and what he ends up doing is going down to the podium and the associated figures we`re going to talk about next sort of giving him a last shot at what he was unable to secure before that.
Jonathan Karl whose new book Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show is out now. Thank You very much, Jonathan.
KARL: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Zoe Tillman is a Senior Legal Reporter at BuzzFeed News where she has been covering the January 6 Committee`s investigations into the insurrection of the Capitol. Her latest piece is titled, "A Congressional subpoena is the latest in a long line of legal entanglements for the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys." And she joins me now.
Zoe, we played that sound, that sort of infamous sound in the opening of Chris Wallace asking Trump to denounce the Proud Boys and him saying stand back and stand by. We know they were present. You know, you can see the video footage. They were present there in Washington on the run-up to January 6th. There are multiple members who have been indicted.
Now, we`ve got the Congressional Subpoenas. Walk me through what these new subpoenas are and their significance.
ZOE TILLMAN, SENIOR LEGAL REPORTER, BUZZFEED: What the subpoenas show is that the committee is focused not just on the high-level political actors around Trump, but also at probing the various actors and groups, and particularly extremist groups that were involved not just in being there on January 6 but organizing quite a ways in advance to be on the ground, to be in Washington and trying to understand what they were planning to do, what their goal was and being here.
You know, of the hundreds of people who have been arrested and charged in connection with the riot, many have said, I didn`t plan on any violence. I didn`t plan on coming here to make trouble. But what prosecutors have alleged is that for members of the Oath Keepers, for members of the Proud Boys, that may in fact have been exactly what they were planning to do when they came to Washington on January 6th.
Here`s a bit from the subpoena to the Proud Boys including Harry Enrique Tarrio. On December 19, 2020, a Stop the Steal protest event was announced for January 6, 2021. On December 29th, Chairman Tarrio posted the following message on Parler. We will not be wearing our traditional black and yellow, we will be incognito and will spread across Downtown D.C. in smaller teams. Who knows, we might dress in all black for the occasion.
Obviously, pulling at this thread that there was coordination and planning for something on that day among at least this group and others.
TILLMAN: Right. There have been indictments against several leaders of the Proud Boys organization, although notably not Tarrio who had been arrested and charged in connection with previous criminal activity in Washington that he`s pleaded guilty to and is now in fact in jail serving a five-month sentence for. He has not been charged in connection with January 6th.
But several leaders have been accused of using various messaging platforms in advance of January 6 to arrange, to bring various paramilitary gear, discussing strategy, talking about the need to stay out of trouble the night before because January 6 was going to be the big day.
And you know, they`ve claimed as a defense that they were not, you know, planning for violence, that for the most part are not accused of violence. But I think the -- what`s been troubling, what`s troubled judges to have kept some of these defendants in jail pending trial is the extent of prior communication, the extent of prior coordination among members and among leadership of these known extremist groups that have ties to Donald Trump, that have ties to Roger Stone, that have ties to Alex Jones.
It`s you know continuing to connect the threads among a relatively small group of people that the committee is also interested in.
HAYES: Yes. When we say like, ties to Roger Stone, like literally providing his security in the days leading up to this. Not -- this is not some connect-the-dots sort of you know string and thumbtack at the board. Like, they were giving him security. We should also note that like one of the --
TILLMAN: In photographs next to him, behind him, in front of him.
HAYES: Yes, well documented. One of the things too is it`s just the rhetoric and some of it which has been documented, you know, calling for a traitor`s death for elected. Like, this extremely heated violent rhetoric - - which again, heated violent rhetoric is not per se against the law, though it depends on the context of course and first amendment jurisprudence. But in the context of a committee trying to get to the bottom of what led to a violent encourage on the Capitol seems fairly relevant.
TILLMAN: And I imagine the committee is also interested in the Oath Keepers for a number of reasons. But one of which being that several defendants charged in the conspiracy related to the Oath Keepers, not the Proud Boys, have admitted that they were involved in stashing guns in a hotel in Virginia with the idea being that they were going to be available to their members if something went down.
And you know, what exactly they were expecting to happen, what their plan was, isn`t quite clear yet. That hasn`t come out in the proceedings. But we`ve had several defendants pleading guilty and saying that this was part of the plan. That you know, we brought guns to this hotel. There are surveillance footage of the rifle case being wheeled out in a hotel cart.
So, you know, it`s not just amorphous what were they planning to do. It`s that some of these groups were bringing firearms to the region to be prepared for something. And what? I imagine the committee would really like to know.
HAYES: Zoe Tillman who`s been doing a fantastic work tracking this as she does fantastic work on everything. Thank you very much, Zoe.
TILLMAN: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, the verdict that could help bankrupt the modern white supremacist movement. A Charlottesville jury finds the organizers of the deadly Unite the Right Rally liable for tens of millions of dollars in damages. I`ll talk to one of the people behind that lawsuit after this.
HAYES: Back in August of 2017, a mob of far-right protesters and neo-Nazis descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia for a two-day rally known as Unite the Right. And on that first night, they carry tiki torches and chanted things like "Jews will not replace us." And on the second day, an avowed white nationalist with the group plowed his car into a group of counter- protesters killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Today, after deliberating for over three days, a jury concluded that nine counter-protesters are entitled to financial compensation from those very same white supremacists. Substantial compensation that awarding them more than $25 million in damages. However, the jury failed to reach a decision on two claims about whether the defendants had engaged in a race-based violent conspiracy which is illegal under a federal law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act.
Amy Spitalnick is the Executive Director of Integrity First for America, the organization that represented the plaintiffs and funded the lawsuit and she joins me now. Amy, first, I guess, your reaction to what was sort of a split verdict although all the -- all the claims that were found were found in the plaintiff`s favor. What was your reaction to that?
AMY SPITALNICK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INTEGRITY FIRST FOR AMERICA: Look, at the end of the day, this is an overwhelming victory for our plaintiffs. The jury sent a very clear message that violent hate won`t go unanswered, that there will be accountability and there will be consequences.
They found the defendants liable for civil conspiracy, for racial religious ethnic harassment violence, and they found James Fields specifically liable for assault or battery and intentional affliction of emotional distress. And so, this was an overwhelming victory for our plaintiffs who have for the last four years fought tirelessly for some semblance of justice and accountability in the aftermath of Unite the Righ.t And I think it`s all the more crucial at a moment when we`ve seen such little accountability to get such a resounding large win against these extremists.
HAYES: It is 2021. You just mentioned this is four years in the making tell me about the origin of this lawsuit, how it came about, and how we`ve gotten to this day?
SPITALNICK: Absolutely. Look, four years is a long time. And it`s been a long hard road for our plaintiffs and our team but we are so incredibly proud of this outcome. In 2017, when Unite the Right happened, it was very clear from leaked social media chats and other evidence that came out in the immediate aftermath that what happened wasn`t accident but rather it had to have been planned carefully, meticulously in advance. And that was of course the premise of this lawsuit.
And so, within two months of Unite the Right, our plaintiffs filed this case alleging a racially motivated conspiracy to attack people based on their race, their religion, and their willingness to defend the rights of their neighbors. And we have an incredible legal team led by Karen Dunn, Robbie Kaplan, and so many others, and our plaintiffs, nine Charlottesville community members who were grievously injured, some during the torch march on Friday night including a number of UVA students, and many during the violence on Saturday including and especially the car attack where so many of our plaintiffs were very significantly injured.
And so, the idea here is a simple one. That if there is racial -- racist, anti-Semitic violence, there needs to be accountability. And that was all the more important at a moment when the DOJ led by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions seemed unlikely to pursue these sorts of cases with any enthusiasm.
And so, we were incredibly proud to support the plaintiffs in bringing this case in October 2017. It took four years nearly to the day to get this to trial for a number of reasons including discovery challenges with some of the defendants, COVID, a global pandemic. But we got here. And certainly the verdict today sends a resounding clear message about the importance of this sort of accountability.
HAYES: It seems like there will be tangible material ramifications for the plaintiff -- for the defendants as well. I mean, these are individuals who I think entirely comprehensively did not have counsel. They represented themselves. I think that was a financial decision largely. And they have substantial damages that they now have to pay, right?
SPITALNICK: That`s right. So, actually, a number of the defendants did have representation but a few did not including fairly notorious white supremacist leaders Richard Spencer and Chris Cantwell.
SPITALNICK: But even before this trial, we saw major financial impacts, operational impacts on these defendants. Our plaintiffs won five-figure financial sanctions against certain defendants for flouting court orders. Richard Spencer talked about how this case has financially devastated him. A number of the defendants talked about how this case had already dismantled some of their hate groups.
So, even before trial, we`ve seen the impact civil litigation like this can have. And now, with these multi-million dollar judgments, it will have a far-greater impact sending a very clear signal, of course, to the defendants. These are not just compensatory damages for our plaintiff`s injuries, but punitive damages meant to help deter them from doing something like this moving forward.
But it also sends a clear message to other extremists looking on that if they`re part of the sort of racist, anti-Semitic violent hate, there will be consequences.
HAYES: All right, Amy Spitalnick whose group secured a big victory today in that court in Charlottesville, Virginia, thank you for making some time with us.
SPITALNICK: Thank you so much, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, will President Biden`s big announcement today brings some relief to rising gas prices while easing his political pressure? These are the kinds of questions John Podesta used to face when he worked in the Clinton and Obama White Houses. He`s here to share his experience with me next.
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JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The big part of the -- of the reason Americans are facing high gas prices is because oil-producing countries and large companies have not ramped up the supply of oil quickly enough to meet the demand. And the smaller supply means higher prices globally, globally for oil.
So, today, I`m announcing that the largest ever release from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help provide the supply we need as we recover from this pandemic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: For the past half century, the price of gas, when it`s high, has bedeviled presidents of both parties. And that`s because it`s a price that makes a big difference in people`s weekly expenses and because it`s the single price most prominently displayed in our day-to-day lives.
Tons of political science research through the years shows it`s quite salient to voters. And that salience colors voters overall perception of both the economy and the job the incumbent president is doing. But the truth is, the maddening truth for said incumbent president is there`s not really a whole lot any president can do about it.
That`s why it`s a perfect issue for the opposition. It`s why today`s announcement by President Biden about his plan to release the petroleum from the Strategic Reserve to help combat the high prices is pretty much the tried and true method to attempt to do something about a problem that political leaders do not have much control over.
So, I want to turn to someone who has decades of experience with this kind of political conundrum. John Podesta, former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, counselor to President Barack Obama where he was responsible for coordinating the administration`s climate policy and is co-founder of the advocacy group Climate Power. He joins me now.
John, this is -- this is one of those great issues if you`re out of power whether a Republican or Democrat, and you`ve got someone the other party in office in the White House and gas prices are higher. Remember, this was the case in the summer of 2008. Back in summer of 2000, it was a big deal.
What does it look like from inside a White House if you`re dealing with this knowing that there isn`t a ton you can do about affecting the price?
JOHN PODESTA, CO-FOUNDER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, you know, Chris, first of all, let me say -- and it may seem strange given the lead- in to this segment, happy Thanksgiving. But I think that, you know, the president has limited tools but he has some tools.
And I think the president today demonstrated not only in releasing the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve, but being able to coordinate that release with releases from China, from India, from South Korea, from Japan, from the U.K. that the consuming nations can do something to at least stabilize the price and hopefully put it in a somewhat a downward trajectory.
It`s not going to have a massive impact, but I think it can have the effect of leveling off price and pushing prices down over the long term.
But in the end of the day, what the president really can do is get the U.S. off its oil addiction so that we`re not held hostage to the whims of Saudi Arabia, of Russia, of the major oil companies like Exxon and Chevron who are reporting record profits. You know, more than six billion dollars in the last quarter for Exxon, more than nearly six billion for Chevron, and yet they`re, you know, gouging consumers at the pump.
So, I think the President can send a strong signal that he means -- that he means business. He sent a letter to the FTC asking them to look for any activity that indicated that they were trying to use means that were perhaps beyond the law to kind of jack up prices. And Lina Khan, the chair has taken that under advisement and she`ll do I think a good job looking at that.
But you`re right in your lead-in. There`s only so much a president can do because these are prices set at the global level. That`s why we need to get off the addiction.
HAYES: Yes. I mean, they`re saying the global level. There`s also -- again, this is the -- in some ways, the weirdest, the strangest global economic environment in many years. It`s just never come out of a once-in-a-century pandemic and the lockdowns and the supply and demand mismatch.
But there`s also, to your point about oil, right, there`s a weird political aspect to this. This is how Dan Eberhart put it in Forbes. Biden must tackle two somewhat conflicting agendas simultaneously. He must address rising energy prices. He also can`t be seen by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party as being pro-oil and promoting domestic output.
I think that it`s not -- that sort of gets it. I mean, the bigger issue here is that we don`t want to be dependent on the carbon-intensive sources of energy that are exacerbating climate change. We have to get off them. But the political pressure in the moment in any given moment is always cheaper and easier access to precisely those fuels.
PODESTA: Look, I don`t think there`s a dilemma here. I think Joe Biden ran and got elected to protect the middle class in the short term and in the long term. So, in the short term, I think he`s trying to increase supply so that prices will stabilize and come down. In the long term, he`s proposed Build Back Better which has now passed the House. It`s pending in the Senate. It is critical that it passed to both deal with the climate crisis but also deal with the long-term energy dependency.
If it does pass, analysts have predicted that it will reduce energy bills in households working class, middle-class households by $500 a year. So, I think he`s got, you know, to do two things at once really. He`s got to address the pain points that people are feeling right now, but he`s got to get us on a better path.
And the big investments that he`s put into the Build Back Better Bill to, you know, promote clean energy, to promote electric vehicles, to promote clean buildings and clean power are the long-term solution to our, you know, being essentially at the whimsy and mercy of Saudi Arabia.
HAYES: John Podesta, always a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you very much, sir. Have a good Thanksgiving.
PODESTA: Good to see you, Chris. Happy Thanksgiving.
HAYES: We`ve covered at length the ongoing multi-faceted attacks on American democracy. I know it seems bleak out there. But coming up, the case against political despair or as I call it, the bad feeling. Don`t go anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve all lived with those two inevitabilities, death and taxes, and now there is a real chance that we`ll have to live with rising prices for a long time to come.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Reagan administration still is running into criticism of its program to support high-interest rates in order to fight inflation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The health of the nation`s economy is a constant concern these days, especially with the unemployment rate approaching 11 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was a brief survey of the economic landscape back in the first two years of Ronald Reagan`s presidency. Average inflation rate topped 10 percent in 1981. Unemployment reached 10.8 percent by the end of 1982. And high-interest rates made conditions even worse.
This is not how things were supposed to go in the early 1980s. Reagan was elected on a wave of optimism and the amiable former movie star was going to turn around the stagnant Jimmy Carter economy with a new vision of economic conservatism and tax cuts, yadda, yadda, yadda.
By second year in office, with the U.S. firmly in another recession, Reagan`s approval rating sank down from the high 60s to the low 40s. Democrats managed to mobilize opposition to the economy and win 26 House seats in the 1982 Midterms.
But then, things started turning around. The economy recovered, inflation and unemployment were on the decline. Productivity is up. Reagan`s approval rating rebounded in 1984 just in time for him to win the highest biggest Electoral College landslide in American history. All of which is to say the conditions in the early years of the presidency, no matter how dire, don`t really reflect their electoral prospects when it comes time for reelection.
President Bill Clinton also faced a rocky start on his presidency inheriting the recession of the early 1990s, failing to pass his signature health care legislation. Democrats got clocked in the 1994 Midterms. But as with Reagan, conditions improved. By the time for reelection, Clinton won handily in 1996.
If you look back to the early Obama years, like Reagan, President Obama was elected on a platform of change and recovery. But he also like, Joe Biden, has inherited a brutal set of crises. The recovery from the economic collapse was slower than people hoped. It was part and due -- it was due in part to an economic stimulus. It was smaller than it needed to be.
There was the tumultuous push to pass the Affordable Care Act that also dented Obama`s popularity. Democrats once again got clocked in the Midterms only for Obama to win reelection two years later.
So, it may be obvious why I`m bringing this up now. We`ve got high inflation, supply chain issues that have hurt President Biden`s approval ratings, the price of gas as well. Democrats are worried biting their nails, bracing for a blow up the Midterms a year from now. Many sounding the alarm about 2024.
I would just say, a little perspective is worthwhile hear. A lot can happen in three years. A lot can happen in one year. As Jamelle Bouie put in an excellent new opinion piece in New York Times, "Biden is down now. If the usual pattern is any indication, he`ll recover. And in the same way the decline was largely out of his hands, we`ll have to remember the upswing was well."
And so, while many like myself might feel a sense of profound political anxiety, it is as important as ever, at this most perilous time to hold on to whatever historical analogies we can find.
Next, I`ll talk to New York Times Columnist Michelle Goldberg on what to do about all this.
HAYES: For the past, oh, I`d say five years or so, I have had this creeping sense of existential dread when it comes to the state of American politics. I`ve been calling that the bad feeling. And I think it`s a result of the tension between the normal dynamics of a competitive two-party democracy and the growing anti-democratic tendencies of one of those two parties.
In a functioning two-party system, you expect power to shift back and forth between the two sides. That`s what we`ve been calling the political gravity, one party is not going to win all the time in all the places in the country, they`re going to share power.
Right now, though, one of those two parties is controlled by a faction that is quite explicitly and aggressively radicalizing against democracy itself, increasingly flirting with violence as a means to power. That radicalization has not seemingly had any real negative effect on the party`s electoral prospects.
The fact that Republican Glenn Youngkin can win in Virginia just months after an angry violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol nearby D.C. is proof enough of that. And that`s fine as far as it goes. It`s normal. But the normal back and forth of politics right now seems perilous in a way it is not before. Because if one side wins, they can`t be trusted with power. We can`t take for granted that they will ever see it again.
Michelle Goldberg is an Opinion Columnist for the New York Times. I spoke to her for her new piece out today about the bad feeling titled The Problem of Political Despair. And she joins me now. Michelle, I really like the column. Why`d you want to write it?
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, OPINION COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I mean, part of it is just what you do as a writer. If something is really bothering you, if something is tormenting you, you try to analyze it and articulate it, you know, partly as a way just to get it out of your head and onto the page, but also as a way to speak to people -- you know, if you`ve been doing this long enough, you get a sense of if something is really eating at you, it`s probably eating it other people too.
And I think with this column, you know, the response to it has suggested that a lot of other people feel the same way.
HAYES: Yes, and I think that -- I want to read one of the things you say here. You said, one redeeming feature of Trump`s presidency in retrospect was that it was possible to look forward to the date when Americans could finish it. COVID, too, once seemed like something we`d be able to largely put behind us when we got vaccinated. Now, we`re all past that. American life is still comprehensively awful. Dystopia no longer has an expiration date.
I do think there`s a real sense that there was a window in the spring, where it felt like, all right, we`re back to normal here. I mean, whatever it is, like, we`re going to get at my brother`s wedding, we`re getting vaccinated, you could go do stuff. And then the combination of like, the fact the economy is still very weird, and also Delta, just -- it just had this like, sucking back into the quicksand feeling.
GOLDBERG: Right, and then it -- and then that turns sort of empowered the Republican Party, which is why we`re looking at, you know, just sort of months after January 6, months after an attempted coup attempt, that the voters are going to return these people to power, you know, a party that if anything, has grown only more radicalized since Donald Trump left office.
And what`s so deeply horrifying isn`t that Republicans would take power when they have public sentiment behind them, right? I mean, I do find it upsetting that, as you said, they`re sort of anti-democratic term doesn`t appear to have cost them electorally, but it is normal in a democratic system that when public sentiment is behind you, you get to win elections.
GOLDBERG: What is so frightening is the idea that you get to win elections, and then you fix the elections going forward. That`s what happens in authoritarian systems all around the world. And I think it`s what we`re increasingly seeing at the state level here and what we`ll see at the national level if Republicans have the Oval Office again.
HAYES: Right. I mean, that`s the -- that is exactly -- and it`s that there`s -- it`s that every back and forth, every sort of, you know, the normal kind of cycles and pendulums of American politics, which we`ve, you know, we`ve talked about on the show, like, the party in power loses in the midterms, there`s thermostatic public opinion. If gas prices are high, they`re angry at the incumbent. That all those are flirt with handing power to a party that has proven itself to be not trustworthy in wielding it, like in a fundamental sense. And so, it feels like something in the contract has been ripped here, even as we go through normal politics.
GOLDBERG: Right. And we`re heading to a point where Republicans will take power, but then if, you know, opinion turns again, he said, the nature of public opinion is this country`s kind of thermostatic. If public opinion turns again, it won`t matter because of the way gerrymandering is being used to cement Republican control of the House. You have these states that are basically 50-50 Democrat-Republican states that are going to give, you know, 60, 70, 80 percent of their congressional seats to Republicans. You have a Supreme Court that has struck down anti-gerrymandering -- anti- gerrymandering laws, or that has ruled, you know, that kind of that -- that the Constitution doesn`t allow them to rule on gerrymandering.
A court that does that because of the workings of a, you know, kind of minoritarian presidential system, right? Democrats have win seven out of the last eight elections of the popular votes, still conservatives get to control the Supreme Court. You have all of these counter majoritarian institutions in American life reinforcing themselves. And it`s just like a boa constrictors slowly sort of squeezing the life out of popular democracy.
HAYES: And I mean -- so, I guess the question is what`s the antidote here? You know, one thing I think is true, is that it`s very different than post 2000 -- in 2009. I think there`s a lot of differences. One of them is I think that was a little bit of, you know, people were fighting. Liberals, particularly people on the left, people who oppose Bush, people oppose the Iraq War, particularly, were fighting so hard. Barack Obama got elected, it was felt like a historic moment because it was.
A little bit, I`m going to take a step back from politics. This feels different. Why and what do you see as the antidote?
GOLDBERG: Well, I think it feels different, because it`s not that people are stepping back out of a sense of relief, right? I think the people who are pulling back, the progressives who were really -- look, plenty of progressives are still very engaged. But I think plenty of people find this so poisonous that in order to preserve their own sanity, they sort of have to take a step back. The sort of, you know, total political involvement that was with the aim of getting Trump out of office that people threw themselves into for four years is no -- isn`t sustainable.
And so, I think, in order for people to get involved once again, there needs to be people in the party who say that, you know, if you fight for this democracy, it can be saved. And in order to do that, you need to have some sort of path to voting reform legislation. You need to have some sort of path to pro-democracy legislation.
HAYES: Yes, I think that`s very well said. I`ll be here night in night out, bad feeling or not, just -- if you`re here too. Michelle Goldberg will be in the pages of the New York Times twice a week if I`m not mistaken.
GOLDBERG: That`s right.
HAYES: Michelle, thank you so much.
GOLDBERG: Thank you.
HAYES: That is ALL IN for this Tuesday night. We will be back here tomorrow night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.