tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC July 5, 2021 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
whether that was the case but that seems 100% to be the case there. so we've got this in some days. it's just hard for me to buy into that. if you can find be a counterexample of somebody else failing a marijuana test and getting to compete. >> the nigerian team they're trying to throw on. bomani jones, thank you for being on. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. >> tonight on "all in," six months after the attack on democracy, new video, new arrests and new details on the investigation into the capitol insurrection. then, how america missed the biden goal of 70% vaccinations by july 4th. >> the red states probably have a lot of people that, you know, are very, very conservative in their thinking and they think, well, i don't have to do that. but they're not thinking right. plus, the cruelty is the point. adam serwer on his new book
chronicling the dangerous politics unleashed by donald trump. and the twice-impeached former president gives up the game onstage. >> you didn't pay tax on the car. i don't even know, do you have to -- does anybody know the answer to that stuff? >> david kay johnston has answers to all this stuff and he joins me on a supersized edition of "all in" starting now. good evening from chicago. i'm chris hayes. happy fourth of july. s as the nation celebrates independence day, we are about to mark six months since the insurrection at the capitol in january. the department of justice has now arrested more than 500 people in connection with the attack. we are tracking a lot of different developments in those overlapping investigations. over the weekend we got new details in the case of a former virginia police officer who we should note is not the only former police officer named thomas robertson. he is facing multiple charges after allegedly participating in
the january 6th insurrection. according to prosecutors, robertson and another off-duty officer entered the capitol building posed for this photo in front of a statue making an obscene gesture. they then boasted about their exploits on social media. robertson wrote we actually attacked the government. the right in one day took the f'ing u.s. capitol. they released robertson pending trial on the condition he could not own any firearms or weapons. days later authorities found eight firearms at his home but the judge decided to give him a second chance. now prosecutors are asking the judge to revoke robertson's release saying he has once again violated those same conditions by possessing a loaded m-4 rifle and partially assembled pipe bomb and purchasing an arsenal of 34 firearms online. they say robertson also tried to hide the transactions indicating
the payments on venmo were for wedding photos. yesterday robertson's lawyers responded with a truly special defense that reads in part, quote, mr. robertson was an anti-gun lover, served his country honorably and the guns he purchased but did not possess were guns from the world war ii era. so it's fine to him apparently. because he only bought them, had not yet picked them up and loves antique world war ii guns. as lawyers admit, they are not actually antiques. there's an official definition for this. the u.s. government says firearms are only antique if they were manufactured before 1898, long before world war ii. but anyway, the guy just loves apparently to buy guns, even when judges tell him not to. a judge will decide whether robertson will remain on pretrial release early next month. some other rioters at the capitol on january 6th have tried harder to hide evidence of wrong doing. a new review by the associated press finds at least 49
defendants are accused of trying to erase incriminating photos, videos and texts from phones or social media accounts documenting their contact as a pro-donald trump mob stormed congress. experts told the a.p. that those attempts reveal a desperate willingness to manipulate evidence once these people realized they were in hot water. and they can, quote, serve as powerful proof of people's consciousness of guilt and make it harder to negotiate plea deals and seek leniency at sentencing. there's also a new category of crimes we're getting some information on. the department justice has apparently been focusing on in their investigation of the capitol insurrection. recently the fbi made a flurry of arrests in cases involving alleged attacks on journalists who were documenting the riot on january 6th. the first was a 43-year-old illinois man named shane jason woods. he allegedly assaulted media equipment set up on capitol grounds and then ran into and tackled a cameraman, calling him to fall to the grounding and drop his camera.
the fbi arrested several more people involved in similar attacks. there were a bunch of them. you saw them documented like the virginia man seen in this video smashing up media gear outside the capitol. he allegedly, well, once again, bragged about his actions in texts to a friend later that day. more video of the horror of the attack continues to come out day by day as all these cases move forward. this newly released court exhibit shows the disorienting and claustrophobic conditions officers were in on the front lines as they tried to keep out the mob. tomorrow is the six-month mark. six months since the worst attack on american democracy arguably probably since the civil war. and it's still not over, of
course. the fbi continues to arrest and charge more and more people by the day. scott macfarlane has been following all the details of these cases and he joins me now. scott, let's start with the former police officer, robertson, and his case. a sort of remarkable brief, i have to say, by his defense attorneys who, again, it's their job to advocate for their client. but i'm not quite sure the judge is going to buy it. >> it's striking, chris, for a few different reasons. first of all, his defense lawyer in this filing is arguing that mr. robertson, there's no evidence he had the guns. but if he did have the guns, they're antique guns because he's an antique gun hobbyist. put those specifics aside. here's where we are. six months after the insurrection, so many back and forth arguments from defendants and prosecutors over whether to simply be held in jail pending trial. trial itself, that's a long ways off. the first major trial to be scheduled so far in this insurrection, chris, is the
accused oath keepers group. the trial date is late january, 2022. that's a year after the insurrection. it's worth mentioning some of the defendants in that case are being held in jail pretrial, which means they'll have served a year in jail just to get to the trial date. the basic point here, chris, is we're closer to the starting line than to the finish line of most of these cases. >> that's a really good point and you and i have talked about this before, the sheer volume and capacity issues and the one d.c. office dealing with it. you mentioned the oath keepers. it seems to me the vast majority of folks apprehended have been released pretrial. some have not, like the oath keepers. one of the things that comes through in that video is how key a relatively small sort of vanguard of very coordinated folks were to these key moments of breaching the outer perimeter, the inside of the capitol. i want to play a little bit from "the times" documentary of the oath keepers and have you talk
about where those cases stand right now. take a listen. >> the oath keepers are also here. >> we have men already stationed outside d.c. >> reporter: their leader has said the group is ready to follow trump's orders and take members of what they call the deep state into custody. they are organized, staging their military-style equipment neatly on the ground. later, they put on body armor. talk on radios, and chat with their supporters on a walkie-talkie app called zellow. >> we've got a good group, about 30, 40 of us who are sticking together and sticking to the plan. >> sticking together, sticking to the plan, 30 to 40 of them. how many have been apprehended and what do we know from government filings about how they're approaching that group? >> yeah, chris, there are three groups upon which we're focused most intently because that's they're the heart of the action. the oath keepers, the proud poise and the 3%ers.
the oath keepers the feds have made some progress. there are about 20 accused oath keepers facing that conspiracy charge of being equipped for action that day, of plotting and planning. prosecutors have secured three plea agreements from accused oath keepers and in all three cases the defendants have agreed to cooperate and help with the investigation. just last week, chris, the prosecutors told the judge they have had productive plea negotiations with many of the other defendants in that case. that's an early win for the feds. >> we also saw from that video, every time that i'm watching the video, i'm attentive to more and more details about the equipment that people have, certain people have. there's a guy walking around with a baseball bat, you've got folks famously with the plastic hand ties. but in that video we just showed, someone has got a strobe light on them. you can see it's truly bizarre. you've got this sort of inversion in which the people
attacking the police and the perimeter are equipped with precisely the kind of disruptive crowd control devices that normally the police have and are being wielded on the police itself. >> chemical spray, a hockey stick, a sharpened flag pole. once they got their hands on the police riot shields, they used those riot shields against police. you have cases where the feds allege defendants came armed with makeshift weapons ready for action. other cases where the feds allege the defendants found things and made them ready for action. as we sit here at the six-month mark, a couple of top lines jump out at me. you have 516 federally charged defendants at least right now. the capitol police chief said there were at least 800 illegally in the capitol. there may be more arrests to come. another top line, a lot of police, a lot of military veterans and a few locally elected government officials among those charged. they really stand out. >> scott macfarlane has been
doing fantastic work on this day in and day out. thanks for making time for us tonight. i want to bring in congressman elaine luria serving on the select committee investigating the january 6th insurrection. congresswoman, i guess my question for you is given how complex the legislative environment is at the capitol right now, the biden agenda balancing a bunch of competing imperatives, a fragile recovery as we emerge from covid-19 and battle this new variant, why did you want to be on this committee? what was your reaction when you were named to it? >> chris, as you may know, i served in the military for 20 years and took the oath of office very seriously when i first took it when i was 17, through my 20-year career and now serving as a member of congress. as you just showed, the former police officer who was the very person who took an oath to defend his community and uphold the laws, he's the person
breaking those, trying to disrupt the operations of our government when certifying electoral results of the president and brutally attacking with this mob police officers. so there is so much morton about what happened on january 6th and this is just incredibly important work that we must do to ensure that something like this can never happen again and to protect our democracy, our government and our country moving forward. >> the original proposal, which was for that bipartisan commission and the details had been worked out with the ranking member on the homeland security committee, john katko, republicans voted against it, mitch mcconnell killed it with a filibuster in the senate. this select committee is there instead. the benefit among other things that first idea had was that those commissioners would be working on this full time. how much of an enterprise do you see this as just in terms of your own portfolio as a member of congress and the resources you're going to have to pursue this? >> well, this is very important
work and i think that all of us, a very small group and we're waiting on five additional nominees from minority leader mccarthy to fill out the committee, know how important this is for the country to get to the bottom of the events on january 6th. so those on the committee will be complemented by a staff and we will work at this tirelessly until we get to the bottom of the facts. truly we will take the information where the investigation leads us. i feel like nothing is off the table. there's so much morton about what happened that day. what led up to the events of the 6th? why didn't we have better intelligence? why didn't we have better preparation? why did it take so long for the national guard to arrive to reinforce the police? there's just so much information to know. i think we have to underscore the importance of this and put that due diligence and focus into this effort to get the answers. >> are you confident you just mentioned that there are five members who will be named by minority leader kevin mccarthy. speaker pelosi named eight
members, you among them, seven democrats, one republican in liz cheney. are you confident that there are members with whom you can in good faith engage in cooperative inquiry into this extremely awful, awful moment in american history and sort of get to the bottom of it and lay out the facts? >> i am confident that there are people we can do that in good faith with. i'm very confident in the eight members, including liz cheney who's part of the committee with us now. you know, i can't really comment on minority leader mccarthy's deliberations as to who he's going to nominate for this, but i can guarantee you that the eight people who are currently nominated and serving on this committee will do it impartially and in a nonbiased way because this is very important work. >> do you sense on capitol hill, people have noted this before and playing the sound of kevin mccarthy himself passing blame at donald trump's feet for the insurrection and of course
calling the president, then president frantically while it was happening, the sense that in the moments after and the day in which everyone came back and voted to approve the electors, although a majority of republicans voted against it, there was a sense of the trauma and the urgency and the horror of what had happened and how close it came to something truly, truly awful and that that's ebbed over time? there's been an effort to whitewash it. do you feel that on capitol hill? >> i think it's still very real, very alive, very tangible for the people who were there, for the capitol police officers. i walk by and say hello and thank them for what they did and the situation that they were in where it was dangerous and they were risking their lives to protect the capitol and the lawmakers and the staff in the building during this insurrection. so i'd say that it's very tangible. the fact that there are all of these charges, i think that the last person on the show mentioned 516, up to maybe 800 people who were in the capitol
who could potentially be charged as well as the people you mentioned who were attacking media and journalists outside. i think the more we see of the images. "the new york times" put together a compelling 40-minute video i'd encourage everyone to look at and the coordination and all the angles this attack was taking place simultaneously. so i think the more that we learn, the more horrifying this becomes. >> congresswoman elaine luria, who has been selected to serve on that select committee representing her district in virginia, thank you so much for your time tonight. >> thank you. all right. america has officially come up just short of president biden's ambitious goal to have 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated by the fourth of july. there's a shockingly easy way to figure out whether your state hit the mark or did not. we'll talk about that and the alarming spread of the delta variant, next. arming spread of a variant, next.
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what do those states have in common? when you step back and look at this map, it is very hard to ignore the fact that all these states, all basically blue states. they were states carried by joe biden in the 2020 election. the rest of the country, particularly those where trump won big, are still struggling to get their vaccination numbers up. with the spread of the highly transmissable delta variant, there's an increased push to get those rates. mississippi has the lowest vaccination rate in the entire country, just over 46% with one dose, to try to get them and others like them closer to the goal. ed young is a staff writer for the atlantic. last month he won the pulitzer prize for his work on the coronavirus and how america failed in its response to it. his latest piece is on the three simple rules that underscores the dangers of the delta variant. let me offer my sincere congratulations for the pulitzer, it was incredibly earned. i want to talk about the states
and the divergence we're seeing in vaccination rates and in the beginning there was a lot of confounding variables about states that were hit hard, states that were doing a good job and bad job. the further on we've gotten, the more these underlying political social structures seemed to be driving a really worrying divergence in the paths of the country's combatting of the virus. >> yeah. i think the path that you identified clearly shows how polarized america's attitudes to the pandemic and now to vaccinations have become. i would sound a small note of caution that politics isn't the only factor that's driving this. there are also issues of trust and so on and even in states that have met biden's goal, there are still going to be pockets of unprotected, unvaccinated people. it's really important to keep maintaining that push for more vaccinations across the board and not to be complacent,
especially as we're seeing the delta variant, which is much more transmissable and pummelling unvaccinated communities spreading around the u.s. >> the u.s. always had a hard time mobilizing collective effort to undertake basic aspects of pandemic control, like testing trays and testing and quarantining. we were bad at that from the beginning. at this point that seems like we're definitely not going back to that, so vaccination is really the key. what do we know about the delta? what are the three rules as you lay them out in your piece and what does that mean for american policy at this point? >> the three rules are pretty simple. first, the vaccines are still holding their own against the variants. second is that the variants are pummelling unvaccinated people. and the third is that the longer we allow the second dynamic to continue, the less likely the first will hold because we will get the evolution of more
transmissable variants that may start to really eat into the protection that the vaccines provide. delta hasn't quite done that yet. one shot is -- doesn't provide great protection against it, but two, full vaccination, still seems to do so. now, no vaccine is perfect and the higher community transmission gets, the more the pandemic is allowed to rage free among unvaccinated people, the more you'll get breakthrough cases and the more hospitalizations. so we really shouldn't be resting on our laurels here. we should be trying our best to drive down the spread of delta across the country, especially in unvaccinated communities. sadly using a lot of the measures that you said quite rightly that we haven't done very well at thus far. >> yeah. here's this -- i saw this today. the white house on thursday saying it's going to send out special teams to hot spots around the united states to combat the highly contagious
delta variant in parts of the country where vaccination rates remain low which seems like a good idea. if you're going to pick a county, low levels of vaccination where you're seeing rising case counts, my guess is just blindly taking a guess, those places are going to tend to be the most resistant both at a political and institutional level to say reinstating mask mandates and social distancing and saying you can't have your wedding this july, we thought you could. so you've dealing in some ways with like the same core problem of the resistance either on the vaccination side or on the kind of public health measure side. >> yeah, i think that's right. i think it's an unfortunate consequence of the erosion of trust that we've had over the last year and a half. and sadly, once that genie is out of the bottle, it's very hard to put it back in. and yet we do have to try.
i do commend them for taking measures to do that. one could argue that perhaps a lot of the measures that have already been -- were already put in place like mask mandates were rolled back too quickly and we now find ourselves in this difficult position where we've gone all in on vaccines as the one protective measure that is going to save us and yet in a lot of communities vaccination rates aren't high enough and that's not even considering people who won't benefit from that, immunocompromised people who might not mount a significant immune defense. children who still aren't eligible for vaccines. it is a difficult spot that we find ourselves in, even though the big picture is a little rosier than it was. i think the optimism that we're all feeling right now is kind of tenuous and a lot depends on how well we do over the next few months both domestically and internationally. >> you know, we played at the
open the west virginia republican governor, jim justice. and what's striking to me about him is i feel like in many places republican officials have just kind of given up on it being their job. i mean it's not that they're anti-vax but they haven't put their shoulder to the wheel. justice stands out for doing that. he really has been working hard, even though west virginia's numbers are below that threshold and he had a very blunt message for people about the deadliness here. take a listen. >> the red states probably have a lot of people that, you know, are very, very conservative in their thinking and they think, well, i don't have to do that. but they're not thinking right. when it really boils right down to it, they're in a lottery to themselves. you know, we have a lottery that basically says if you're vaccinated, we're going to give you stuff. well, you've got another lottery going on and it's the death lottery. >> the death lottery is a pretty good phrase. it reinforces the fact that we
are still staring down the barrel of thousands and thousands and thousands of unnecessary deaths over the next few months across this summer. >> i agree. i think it's going to be a tragedy. i think those deaths are going to once again befall some of the most vulnerable communities. i want us all to remember we're all in this together. the pandemic does remain a collective problem, even if we are vaccinated. you may personally feel very safe right now, and rightly so. but my point -- my third point in my list stands. the longer we allow this to continue and unvaccinated communities in the u.s. and for the majority of the world that remains unvaccinated, the more likely you are going to get the emergence of variants that actually do beat the protection that the vaccines offer. so we're still making the same mistake as last year in treating this purely in individualistic
terms, if you're only asking am i safe and acting just based on that information, you're going to make bad decisions that might jeopardize your safety in the long term. we really are all in this together and we can't stop until everyone is safe. >>ed yong, very, very wise words as always. thank you so much for coming on. >> thanks, chris. here's a question. can you still run for office as a republican if you have denounced donald trump as reprehensible for demonizing immigrants and muslims? tonight one senate candidate in ohio is trying to save his campaign by apologizing for doing just that. that story is next. ogizing for doing just that. that story is next i discovered some very interesting documents on ancestry. this is the uh registration card for the draft for world war two. and this is his signature which blew me away. being able to... make my grandfather real... not just a memory... is priceless. his legacy...lives on.
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texas governor greg abbott is now facing a high-profile challenge from within his own party with former florida tea party congressman allen west announcing his candidacy this weekend. west, who moved from florida to texas after he lost re-election in congress and then stepped down last month as chair of the texas republican party, has been
critical of abbott, even participating in a protest at the governor's mansion over covid restrictions last fall. governor abbott easily won re-election in 2018 beating his democratic challenger by more than 13 points. but his approval rating has sunk, hitting just 44% in a poll last month. donald trump won texas boy just 5.5 points last year. so what does this challenge from the right mean for greg abbott but more broadly texas republicans and republicans across the country. kristin solis anderson and tim miller, former spokesman for the republican national committee now writer at large for bulwark and both join me right now. kristin, i'll start with you. i know abbott has faced a lot of political headwinds. the handling of the freeze in texas hurt him quite a bit. i don't think that from the perspective of the median voter
that he has like been too liberal and so i just wonder what incentive structure it creates for republican politicians when you see someone like allen west primarying abbott from the right. what it means for how he's going to conduct the governance of texas going forward? >> well, the incentive structure is that if you're running for office, it gives you a way to raise money, it gives you attention, it gives you prominence so there are lots of incentives for running for office. in some ways allen west primarying of greg abbott doesn't surprise me or not. whether greg abbott is vulnerable has a lot to do -- his job approval is in the mid-40s as you showed on that chart. is that primarily driven by disaffection with his style of governing? it's not necessarily about left or right but the handling of things like the energy crisis in texas, if you have moderate republicans who may have been fans of abbott but aren't necessarily -- allen west isn't necessarily the cure for that
issue. if on the other hand his numbers are sagging because far right republicans are viewing him more skeptically, then that's where you have to take this seriously and there's no real one way that over the last decade more conventional rip republicans have beat back primary challenges other than take it seriously. make sure that your opponent doesn't get free rein and define the race is what's helped republicans who have beat back challenges from the far right to do so. >> but my concern is the take it seriously is precisely the issue. west shows up at a protest of covid restrictions at the governor's mansion. there has been -- we saw this from mike dewine in ohio, state republicans, elected members, the party itself going nuts because of any sort of public health precautions. so taking the primary challenge seriously, my concern, tim, is you end up bend your governing
decisions to head off primary challenges to negatively affect health or whatever it may be. >> the texas legislature is only in like ten weeks every other year so they're actually through that session. there might be a minimal amount of governing happening from greg abbott going forward. i talked to a republican skull -- consultant about the party there. the problem that all republicans are facing is that donald trump and his ilk have what he called saddam hussein-like numbers out in lubbock and rural texas and west texas. and dipping numbers in the houston suburbs and the dallas suburbs. this is obviously a microcosm of the country but it's particularly stark there. so having this primary will mean that greg abbott will have to shore up that part of the state where he needs to have those saddam hussein-like numbers. what could that mean? we see these national guard troops going to the border.
there could be ad hoc vigilante efforts in the state of texas to crack down on the border. that could be a real life governing action that abbott might take now to shore up his flag to deal with somebody like west. >> there's also news of another candidate in a crowded field in ohio, j.d. vance, who is a venture capitalist and yale law grad and i guess hollywood screen writer or producer. his book was adapted. basically punches every elite tick possible. hates the elites, is going to deliver for average folks. he tweeted back in 2016 some nasty things about donald trump, that he was reprehensible because of his views towards immigrants and muslims. he said he was voting for evan mcmullin. he is apologizing for that, kristen and asking people not to judge him by those tweets. he sincerely regrets saying them. and, you know, this is -- none of this is surprising, but the
sort of ritualistic, almost stalinesque groveling and self-criticism struggle sessions that any republican has to go through in the era of trump is still remarkable of the hold. >> bear in mind there are a lot of republican voters who didn't necessarily love donald trump in the 2016 primary but as his presidency went along, many warmed up to him. even at the same time that republicans were losing independent voters in the suburbs, et cetera. so when someone like j.d. vance says i wasn't crazy about the guy in 2016 but i've changed my tune, there are a lot of republican voters that kind of sympathize with that perspective. so what i find in my research is that most republican voters, they're less interested in someone who has loyalty to trump the man and has been consistent ever since day one on that front and they're more looking for someone who represents the kind of fights donald trump has oriented the party toward and that is i think the strategy
that you're seeing j.d. vance try to deploy in ohio. >> i think the data, and i've read some of kristen's polling on this. i think the data is very clear. donald trump, his ethos is what republicans like. that's what they're choosing. they're not forced into it. it's like affirmatively this is our vision for what american leadership should be, what the country is, who owns the country, who gets to violate and transgress and who doesn't get to violate and transgress, which i think is key. and i think that that, more than the cultive personality in some ways, tim, is actually the core driver here. >> i think that's true, but, you know, i think you might be being a little generous. i think that fealty to donald trump is still a big part of the picture here. even if it's only 40% of the primary electorate, that's a part of the primary electorate that j.d. vance needs. the ohio senate race is a perfect microcosm of what's happening in the republican party. you had someone that said fellow christians, everyone is watching
us when we apologize for this man, god help us, j.d. vance, you have the former chairwoman of the state party who supported john kasich. all of these people are like they're shrines to donald trump. it's shameful. you know, we are six months now past his attempt to overthrow the election. this could have been a race between three people of differing visions. you know, j.d. vance more populist, josh van del more tea party, other candidates more traditional establishment but it's not that. it's a competition to, yes, both do what you guys are saying and represent the fights that donald trump fights and the people that need to be torn down and the people that need to be defeated, the elites and the left, but it's also an effort to just suck up to one guy and that is very much still happening and j.d. vance is the starkest example of the flip-flop but it's happening across all of these republican primaries. >> what i find remarkable at all
is this like -- it's so preposterously obviously like ploddingly, you know, hucksterism. none of these people discovered this belief yesterday. everyone is just trying to get over. but because trump has shown how much you can turn people into marks, everyone else now aims to. and it's like, well, we can sell -- they'll buy whatever we sell them if we give it to them in this package, kristen. >> well, i think if you actually -- the example that comes to mind most is less about the ohio senate race and more think about all of the members of congress who right after january 6th came out and were very critical of trump, saying that he was responsible, egt. and then polls like the one my firm does, show republican voters there was a little bit of a moment of, okay, maybe we turn the page from this guy but it pretty quickly went away because there's no one else in the control room. there's no other leader of the
party that has stepped up to fill that void. as a result, donald trump remains the de facto leader of the party and there's no political incentive to cross him. >> if donald trump decided tomorrow to wage a campaign to make hang mike pence a litmus test for the republican party, the vast majority of republican office holders would get behind hanging mike pence and that's a grim, dark ass thing to say but it is the gd truth right now. it is that bad, i really truly believe that. kristen, you're shaking your head but i truly -- >> no. >> -- don't think there's a line. >> josh van del would put it on a hat, hang mike pence. >> i do not think there's an actual line of moral transgression that can be crossed at this point that people would blanch at. that's what's so dark about this moment. there's no actual thing to cross over and people say, ah, that's too much for me. i don't think it's there. maybe it is, kristen. maybe i'm wrong and the polling shows it's there.
>> well, i've thankfully never exactly polled the exact proposition that you just made. i do think that there are lines where you do see moments where donald trump would say or do things that some people in the party would brush off but others would just say they didn't believe it was real, they didn't believe it was happening. they would think that it was being twisted. so that's why i push back against the idea that they would just endorse some sort of horrible thing just because donald trump said so. i think there's a lot of other complexity going on there and hopefully, my god i hope i never have to poll test something as horrific as that. >> i think some really horrible things have really been endorsed because donald trump said so which is partly why i find myself in such a disquiet about the state of the nation. thank you both. next, the author behind the phrase that would define the trump era, adam serwer, joins me with his new book. why the cruelty extends past
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by the time we were halfway through donald trump's term in office, the barbarity of his administration was exceedingly clear. it was so shocking and dark it left a lot of people wondering why. how can he and the people who align with him be so cruel? in october of 2018 adam serwer answered that question with the sentence "the cruelty is the point." it's the steps our country took that culminated in this distinct moment. now he has a new book out where he reflects on why that essay became the cultural touch point it did. writing i never expected the response i got. but i think the reason it resonated it that it articulated something many of us felt but struggled to put into words. that the president enjoyed hurting people in ways large and small. many of his supporter enjoyed it when he hurt people. the more anguish you felt, the more fun it was for them.
adam serwer joins us tonight. congratulations on the book which is excellent, adam. >> thank you. >> the last part is a key part which is it's more than rhetoric, it's policy, that this cruelty was substantiated. talk about what you mean by that? >> mean by that. >> so, obviously cruelty is an individual problem. all human beings are capable of cruelty. the book is focused on cruelty as a part of politics, specifically the way it's used to exclude them from the political process. and from the beginning of the donald trump's 2016 campaign, he was all about attacking groups that were seen as external to the republican coalition and blaming them for the struggles of his base in a way that would allow him to engage, as president, to justify using state force against religious and ethnic minorities that he blamed for the country's
suffering. i think our system partially incentivizing this because between jer mandering and the electoral college, our system influences the most conservative elements of the electorate. it becomes more urgent for the party to tell that group they're on the verge of destruction so that anything they do in order to justify that is justified. you can see this in the apocalyptic rhetoric donald trump used all the time. and these become heroic acts of self-defense against impending doom and someone like donald trump is standing between you and annihilation, in stead of a narcissist. >> you write about there's also that thrill, right, the sort of thrill of transgression, which is a theme that comes up throughout the book in that title essay as well. and, you know, someone i think had to use the term vice signaling to refer to this
opposite of virtue signaling. in some ways the transgression itself is a display of power. and i think we see that over and over. >> it's a display of power but it's also a way to form community. and the depoliticized metaphor i use is when you're a kid and you're in elementary school and the cool kid is teasing another kid and you might join in because you want to be part of the cool kids or you don't want to become the next target. that becomes a community formation, where the kids teasing the kid on the outside form a bond through this act of transgression. they know they're doing something bad, something mean. but they're also forming a line saying we're us and they are them and therefore anything us does against the them is justified. >> another place where that exact same sort of thinking shows up and there's a great essay in here that had not been published previously about
police unions, where that precise kind of us versus them thinking really flourishes both in rhetoric and action in the way police unions talk to the public. and you make the argument in the essay that they should be abolished. why? >> all unions advocate for their workers. the difference is police unions, because they have the authority to use lethal force in order to protect the public, they have an interest in maintaining a level of impunity for that you use of force. this not only undermines the community's trust in them. it make it difficult for them to do their job ft it also protects the officers who abuse the power and silence other officers who might want to say this guy has a habit of getting out of line or hurting people or abusing his authority. in doing so, the unions cultivate a culture that view the public as an enemy rather than the people they are meant to protect. if we say ultimate power
corrupts absolutely, there's no power ultimate over the power of life and death. and without accountability for that kind of pow e it necessarily develops a contempt for the public that is meant to serve. we understand this instinctively when we talk about governments. we understand authoritarian leaders are not beholden to the people and will abuse their power because they cannot be held accountable democratically. and this is a kind of negative feedback loop that has been created where the police unions are mistrusted by the public, particularly elements that suffer the most from high crime. and internally officers who abuse their powers or misbehave are protected from that misbehavior by the structure of the system in which they work and the fact that the officers say this guy shouldn't have the kind of power he has would be silenced and ostracized by other members of the community in part
because of existence of the union. >> your writing has been the moral beacon that i think you very early on were very clear eyed about the scope of the moral threat that was posed and not just by the specifics of donald trump or who he was but by the movement and the urges in american life that gave rise to him. they haven't gone anywhere, have they? >> no, i mean, like i said, this is a structural problem. it's a structural problem and it's a reflection of the racial and ideological and religious polarization of the two parties. and the important things and one of the things i want to get across most in the book is the kind of arguments we're having now go back to the founding. the founding fathers said all men are created equal and then wrote a constitution that protected property and man, protected the ownership of slaves. so, these unfulfilled promises of the declaration of independence of the founding promises of our country are a
constant sight of conflict. the people who do not want to extend those promises find new for rights under the koougs. and donald trump is merely the latest man fess station of this. it's been a part of both parties and it's something we struggle with as americans and will continue to regardless of what happens to him. >> the new book is "the cruelty is the point: the past, present and future of trump's e america." it is out now. thank you so much for joining us tonight. >> thank you so much. don't go anywhere. we've got much more to come on our supersized patriotic july 4th, july 5th edition of "all in." it continues right after this. l in." it continues right after this. your heart isn't just yours. protect it with bayer aspirin. be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. hi, i'm debra. i'm from colorado. i've been married to my high school sweetheart
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