tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC March 31, 2021 12:00am-1:00am PDT
tonight, on year over year. >> the florida situation, covid cases on the rise again while the governor says all is well, again. tonight the promotion of the virus and the attack on voters in the sunshine state. plus the investigation into florida congressman matt gaetz over an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. then day two of the derek chauvin trial. >> i did call the police on the police. >> all right. and why did you do that? >> because i believe i witnessed a murder. >> heart wrenching testimony about the death of george floyd as witnesses take the stand. then -- >> so, every time a republican does anything, we're a racist.
if you're a white conservative, you're a racist. >> the republican playbook, make racist policy and then complain about being accused of racism. and how vaccine passports are becoming the new masks in the covid culture wars. >> they want you to be required to have something called a covid passport. it is something like biden's mark of the beast because that is really disturbing. >> "all in" starts right now. good evening from washington, d.c. many of us across america have spent the last year doing our best to avoid going out, missing out on spending precious time with family and friends, wearing a mask when we did go out to keep the people around us safe. some of us did this because we thought it was the right thing to do. wile others did it because their state or local governments or private businesses made them do it. but some americans were never really obligated to do any of these things because they live in florida, a state where
republicans have, from the beginning of the pandemic, acted like covid-19 did not exist. even as thousand of people were dying in that state. florida congressman matt gaetz famously mocked the severity of the outbreak wearing a mass mask on the floor of the house of representatives. in an unrelated story breaking tonight, gaetz is reportedly under investigation over a possible sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. we'll speak to one of the reporters who broke that story in just a little bit. but first we begin tonight with florida's lack of a covid prevention strategy. in fact, the state's republican governor, ron desantis, who refused to intact a statewide mask mandate throughout the pandemic bucking the decisions of more liberal states like mississippi and texas, is moving to overturn local mask mandates and basically doing everything he can to make the people of florida even less safe. and for those of you thinking, well, i'm sorry to hear that, but i don't live in florida,
"the new york times" reports, quote, scientists view florida, the state furthest along in lifting restrictions, reopening society and welcoming tourists as a bellwether for the nation. if recent trends there are any indication, the rest of the country may be in trouble. and that is because thanks in large part to the republicans running the state, florida itself looks like it is facing a new covid surge. the "times" says over the past week the state has averaged nearly 5,000 cases a day, increase of 8% from its average two weeks earlier. b.1.1.7, the more contagious variant first identified in britain, is also rising exponentially in florida where it accounts for a greater proportion of total cases than any other case. miami beach imposed an emergency 8:00 p.m. curfew last week after thousands of tourists flocked to the city for spring break. despite all this, governor desantis is insisting the state is open for business no matter what. desantis signed a covid-19 liability protection bill to protect business, governments
and health care providers from lawsuits. he banned passports to confirm covid-19. new research published early this month in the american journal of public health argues that florida undercounting the number of people who died from covid-19 by thousands of cases, casting new doubt on claims that governor ron desantis navigated the coronavirus pandemic successfully. so, to summarize, covid is getting worse, the governor is actively taking steps to make people less safe and businesses less responsible. and now it looks like they've been lying about how bad things really are. perhaps governor desantis was a bit hasty when he said this last may. >> you got a lot of people in your profession who wax poetically for weeks and weeks ability how florida was going to be just like new york.
wait two weeks, florida is going to be next. just like italy, wait two weeks. hell, we're eight weeks away from that and it hasn't happened. >> of course that tape didn't age too well. maybe some people want to rethink headlines like this from just 12 days ago that reads how ron desantis won the pandemic. yeah, several times on this show my good friend chris hayes described the trump administration as objectively pro-covid because of its policies that seem to help the virus spread. but desantis recently said to be the next presidential nominee if trump doesn't run again, he's clearly trump's mini me when it comes to handling the coronavirus. he's as reckless and antiscience as trump was, and that makes him as popular as ever with a conservative base that doesn't care about mass death in the countries. they care more about businesses
being open and safe from litigation than americans or floridians getting sick or dying. ron desantis is objectively pro-covid too. he's doing everything he can to help the virus while doing everything he can to hinder democracy. i can say that because after georgia republicans passed a new law making it harder to vote in their state, florida republicans supported by ron desantis are pushing similar legislation, that would ban giving voters in line water, something that republican senator lindsey graham admitted he did not understand. although it's become clear that governor desantis has no problem supporting an agenda that hurts the people of his state. charlie chris nanos something about leading florida. he served as the state's republican governor for four years. congressman, thanks for coming on the show tonight. what do you make of governor desantis' policies on covid that only seem to benefit the virus itself in your state. >> they're terribly
disappointing. i've lived here since i was three years old. i was born in pennsylvania. this is a state i love with all my heart. to see the policies the governor is promoting, not wearing a mask, not being socially distanced appropriately, it seems like he doesn't care. and it hurts me and pains me to say that. but when you see these policies and kind of bragging about how we're over it, we've made it through, and then you watch spring break and see what happens. and now as you said from the "new york times," we're experiencing a surge, about 5,000 cases a day on average, 8% more in an increase than it was just two weeks ago. it's incredibly disappointing. it's unconscionable. it's not compassionate, it's not caring and it's not right. >> so, what can florida democrats, what can the average floridian do to counter these policies on the ground, given what's coming from above from
the highest office in the state? >> well, listen to the guy in the highest office in the land, president biden. he's got it right. the president has been thoughtful. he's been thorough. he's been laser focused and compassionate about how to handle this virus. you know, he already achieved 100 million vaccines in about 55 days on track to probably get to over 200 million vaccines in the first 100 days. thank god for president biden. he is doing an extraordinary job looking out for the people of the entire country, doing what's right and the kind of leadership that florida needs to have right now. it's a good thing that we don't just rely on governor desantis and his lack of leadership. we can rely on president biden and his true leadership of compassion, honesty, transparency, which is another issue in florida. the governor's office is dragging on request from media outlets all over the place, won't give them. and now we hear tonight in your
intro there may be lying actually happening about the number of deaths in florida perhaps even thousands more than they're reporting. it's disgraceful. >> it is disgraceful and sad. the thing is, congressman, no matter how good you think president biden's policies are at the federal level, the governor of the state like florida has a lot of power. he's threatening to use his executive orders to ban vaccine passports in florida. i just -- i've got to ask the question. your old party, it's all culture wars all the time, and we've gone from treating a mask as a political symbol to now suddenly the idea of just telling businesses that you've been vaccinated by an app on your phone, that's the greatest assault on liberty according to the republican party. >> it's unbelievable. there's an assault on our country, and as president biden says we're at war with this virus and we have to take it seriously.
we have variants creeping up that came in from britain. i read an article the other day that said florida is the number one in variants right now. and they're more deadly and they're more transferrable. you know, it's unbelievable to see this. you know, i went to the super bowl. i'm a big tampa bay buccaneer fan, mehdi, and i went to the game. i'm told from news accounts the governor was at the same game in a box, not wearing a mask, not providing leadership, not doing what's right. i went to the same game in the stands wearing a mask and it was plenty easy to watch. why he continues to not lead and keep floridians from actually voting, but not only the one you cited but not providing water, also trying to make it more difficult people to mail-in ballot to election day. that's going to hurt our seniors particularly. >> i mean, let's be honest,
congressman, even when you were in the republican party, voter suppression was a thing on the right. it wasn't something that just started, but it's been taken to new levels post-2020 election. could you still define the republican party as the party that believes in democracy and free and fair elections? >> pretty hard to honestly. i thought about that today. independent of whatever we're talking about you tonight, when i was governor i issued an executive order to the contrary to support the democracy in the 2008 election between john mccain and president barack obama to extend the voting hours because the lines were so long in the heat. now they're talking about not providing water for people, making it harder to get mail-in ballots. when i was governor, i tried to do what was right. for me it's never been right versus left. it's been right versus wrong. it's how my mom and dad raised me. my dad's a family doctor and told us you have two ears and one mouth. listen twice as much as you talk
and respect god's ratio, it's amazing what you can learn. you know that, my friend. >> indeed. and the voting rights struggle is not about the big d democratic party, it's all small b democrats, all of us. thank you for your time tonight. i appreciate it. >> my pleasure. thank you, sir. next, more on the stunning new reporting that republican congressman matt gaetz is being investigated by the justice department over a possible sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. i'll talk with "the new york times" reporter who broke that story right after this short break. eak. as a repairman, i hear a lot of folks say they feel like they have to rinse off dirty dishes like these before loading them in the dish washer.
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one of donald trump's staunchest allies while he was in office was florida republican congressman matt gaetz, a man extremely eager to go on fox news and fiercely defend the then president against all critics. gaetz is still in congress, but this morning axios reported he was eyeing early retirement to take a job at "news max." turns out there was a lot more going on. "the new york times" broke the news that gaetz is being investigated by the justice department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, according to three people briefed on the matter. gaetz told the "times" he's the subject of the probe but not the target. he's known about the investigation for a while and told the "times" that he and his lawyers have been in touch with the justice department but only knows the investigation has to do with women and that, i have a suspicion people is trying to recharacterize my generosity as something untoward.
he later told axios that the charges are false and rooted an extortion against his family and he was never involved with anyone who was underage, adding, i've definitely in my single days provided for women, i've dated, you know, i've paid for flights for hotel rooms. i've been, you know, generous as a partner. i think someone is trying to make that look criminal when it is not. he tweeted the extortion attempt involved a former doj official seeking $25 million. and his father has been wearing a wire at the fbi's direction to catch these criminals. for more on what's going on here i want to turn to one of the reporters who broke this story, new york city washington correspondent michael schmidt. thank you so much for joining me on the show tonight. i appreciate it. tell us what gaetz is being investigated for and the whole distinction between target and subject. >> gaetz is being looked at
because under federal law you cannot have a sexual relationship with someone under the age of 18 and transport them over state lines and pay for them to move with you for that sexual act. and that is one of the questions that the authorities are examining. gaetz tried to make the distinction when we spoke to him, as you pointed out, between a subject and a target. and as i -- as i think serves as a great example of this, hillary clinton in the hillary clinton email investigation was never a target. the entire investigation was about whether hillary clinton broke the law. it was actually so much about that that the fbi director took the extraordinary move of holding a press conference to talk about what they found and lay that out. so, the distinction between the target and a subject in that example certainly clearly shows that it doesn't really mean a lot. so, in this case -- >> very good point.
>> -- his conduct is being scrutinized, it's being looked at, it's being investigated, and obviously this is something that started under attorney general barr, which, you know, perhaps shows the merits of what they're looking at. >> yeah. you know, the obvious response would be to say this is a witch hunt by the biden doj. but it's not. it started under bill barr. >> it's coming, it's coming. >> a well-known republican. how far along is this investigation, and how long has matt gaetz known about it? do we know? >> it's unclear how long gaetz has known about it, and its unclear how far it goes back. what we do know is that it is an outgrowth, it is part of an investigation of a local tax collector in seminole county, florida. this is right outside of orlando. and the feds have been looking at this tax collector who rode the trump wave, got elected in 2016, and has been investigated and the feds have uncovered an array of corruption on his
behalf. it is in the course of that investigation that the authorities went in and executed search warrants and found some of the evidence that has led them to this gaetz investigation. so, this is something that started as a -- as something that was just focused on this tax collector, and it has grown into something far bigger with obviously far bigger political implications than a local tax collector. >> big time. but what is this we're now hearing this evening from gaetz himself about an alleged extortion plot? >> so, this is what he -- you know, he laid this out to us on the phone today. at first i didn't follow all the intricacies of it, and i was trying to understand what he was saying. we acknowledge, you know, that he makes this claim in our story. he has now put out these tweets about it.
you know, you know, maybe he feels this is an extraordinary thing that's going on, so he has disclosed the fact that his father was wearing a wire. that's usually something that's not disclosed by people that have been wearing a wire, but maybe in this case he feels the need to lay that out. but it certainly, you know, that's -- that is what he is saying. that is his argument. he's also saying that he didn't have sexual relations with women under the age of 18. he's provided that example, that explanation you played earlier about there may have been things he paid for but he did not do this. and it sort of remains to be seen where it heads from here. >> yeah, well, indeed we'll have to see where it goes from here. michael schmidt thanks so much for your time tonight and thank you for your reporting. appreciate it. >> thanks for having me. next, dramatic testimony in day two of the derek chauvin murder trial as witnesses took the stand, including the young woman who recorded the now infamous video. what we learned today after this short break. short break.
on the second day of former minneapolis police officer derek chauvin who's facing three charges in the death of george floyd last may we heard deeply compelling and emotional testimony from several witnesses, the youngest of whom was just 9 years old. they told the jury not just what they saw that day but why it was disturbing and upsetting and why each felt they had to intervene. this came as the defense continued as they did yesterday to try to place the blame on anybody but derek chauvin, including that small crowd of witnesses who gathered as chauvin kept his knee on floyd's neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. >> at some point did you make a 911 call? >> that is correct. i did call the police on the police. >> all right. and why did you do that? >> because i believe i witnessed a murder. >> you were angry. >> no.
you can't pin me i was angry. i wasn't. i was in a position where i had to be controlled, controlled professionalism. i wasn't angry because -- >> object. non-responsive. >> the prosecution also called a young woman, darnella frazier who recorded the now infamous video of george floyd's fatal encounter with police. she told the jury about the connection she felt to floyd and the guilt she struggles with to this day. because frazier was a minor at the time, the judge ruled she could testify off camera. >> when i look at george floyd, i look at my -- i look at my dad. i look at my brothers. i look at my cousins, my uncles, because they are all black. i have black -- i have a black father. i have a black brother. i have black friends. and i look at that and i look at how that could have been one of them. it's been nights i stayed up apologizing and -- and
apologizing to george floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life. >> an off duty minneapolis firefighter who was also on the scene recounted the distress and anger she felt when the police officers would not let her take action to help george floyd. >> the officers didn't let me into the scene. i also offered -- in my memory, i offered to walk -- kind of walk them through it or told them if he doesn't have a pulse, you need to start compressions. and that wasn't done either. >> and so when -- well, is this -- are these things that you wanted to do? >> it would have -- it's what i would have done for anybody. >> when you couldn't do that, how did that make you feel?
>> totally distressed. >> were you frustrated? >> yes. i got quite angry after mr. floyd was loaded into the ambulance, and there was no point in trying to reason with them anymore because they had just killed somebody. >> phillip gulf is the co-founder and ceo of the center for policing equity and a professor at yale and shannon lloyd is a civil rights attorney and manager partner of the cochran firm in orlando. phillip, let me start with you. the witnesses talked about how they see themselves and their families in george floyd. what does it mean for the case and for the jurors to be hearing testimony that that's not just personal but rooted in identity? >> yeah, it's -- i have to say
it's difficult to listen to because what you're getting in the testimony of particularly ms. frazier, it's the pain of the full community. it's reminding people that we saw hundreds of days of protests, of cities on fire because of all that happened right there right in front of the cup foods in minneapolis. and i think it's going to be difficult for a jury to hear that and not remember the outrage they felt and communities around the world felt when officers intervened not to keep people safe but to make sure a man died, that he was deprived of an emt who was right there to try and save his life. it's distressing to hear about that there were so many opportunities for this tragedy to be averted. and law enforcement took every one of them and turned it away. >> yes, yes. how is the defense doing on day two given the strong and compelling testimony from the witnesses.
>> the defense is taking a bit of a beating. this is the state's case. these are the most integral, important witnesses they put first. they want to have a framework in which you receive all other information. these are the weakest points in the defense's case so right now they're going to be suffering a bit as you listen to these testimonies because they are powerful and impactful. >> yes, without a shadow of a doubt. i think you're right to point that out where we are in this trial. phillip, it's astonishing to see multiple witnesses saying they had to call 911. they had to call the cops on the cops. >> yeah. i mean, to hear them say, i called the police on the police because he felt like he was watching a murder, i mean, it's -- it's astonishing. also -- in the face of when the state is doing such damage to
somebody, what can people do? what are the other alternatives in the midst of this? and you're also seeing the laws of injury without a remedy, but everybody that's going on the stand left that scene injured. there are communities that are hurting as a result of this and there will be no remedy for that. i think that the weight of the obligation that the jury is going to feel, that's part of both the prosecution's strategy and it's part of what we all need to wrestle with because there are so many folks injured by these kind of holes punched through communities with no remedy other than to call the people who did it to us in the first place. >> yes, that's the great irony that we've seen over the last two days from multiple people, including employees, a dispatcher yesterday and an off duty paramedic today -- a firefighter, sorry. shannon, let me ask you this, how hard is it for prosecutors to prep kids, including a 9-year-old child for court
testimony in a murder trial? >> kids are hard to prep because you want to be sure that you're not coloring their testimony or changing it. but they can be some of the most significant and thoughtful witnesses because they're going to give it to you exactly as they saw it. they don't color it. they kind of just give it to you as it is. and that kind of raw emotion from a young child is very significant and very memorable when you're talking about a jury such as the one we have seated. they're not going to forget that. they're not going to forget the words that she said and how she conveyed those emotions. children can be very impactful on juries. >> yeah, and it's a jury, which of course, i should remind everyone, it just takes one. one juror to, you know, prevent a conviction. that's all the defense needs. phillip, you mentioned the trauma and the pain, and that's what's driving a lot of this. what was so powerful today was not just hearing the witness
statements but hearing about their lives since these young children saying they can't bring themselves to go back to that store where they'd gone for snacks or a phone charger because of what they witnessed in that one nine-minute period. >> and how many street corners, how many corner stores, how many locations within our communities have that same kind of trauma for other folks, other deaths, other beatings? you don't have to be traumatized only by killings. you can be traumatized by watching somebody get their behind beat by law enforcement. and it's the same element. i've got to say part of what i'm seeing and hearing from folks watching the trial, experiencing this from folks in law enforcement and activists in the community, it's a call back to a time that it's so easy for us collectively to forget of how ugly this was to be staring at it in the face. and there are so many of these injuries that we haven't decided what we're going to do. because since the summer when we said we wanted justice for george floyd, we wanted justice for breonna taylor, the work hasn't stopped. the coverage sometimes has, but
the work hasn't stopped. and so what we have is an unfinished mission. and we're talking about justice for -- i want to be clear. it's not coming for george floyd because justice would have been he's still alive. the hope is that we get justice for the country and those who are still living with that trauma. >> i wish we could continue this conversation, but we're out of time. thank you so much both of you tonight. >> thank you. coming up, democrats may control the house and the senate, but some of their biggest battles will play out in the courts that are now stacked with trump-appointed judges. today president biden made his first move to try to undo that legacy. we'll talk about that next.
to serve on the district court in new jersey. he's one of 11 nominees, including 3 black women who were up for appeals court vacancies. one who could become the first asian-american woman on the u.s. district court for the district of columbia. some on the right will say this is nothing but a box ticking exercise, identity politics. but actually while representation matters, these are supremely qualified individuals, unlike many of the 234 judges that donald trump managed to pack into the courts in his term in office. 85% were white, 76% were male, and many of them were rated as literally unqualified for the job by the american bar association, the aba. but senate republicans confirmed them anyway. joining me now congresswoman sheila jackson lee, a democrat of texas. one of the things trump did so successfully with mitch
mcconnell's guidance is to confirm hundreds of judges, unqualified judges. is this slate of diverse nominees from biden today the first step of a pushback by democrats do you think? congresswoman, you might be muted. i can't hear you. i'm not sure about our viewers. i'm going to jump in and say do you want to check if you're muted? >> i'm checking. can you hear me? >> we can hear you now. go for it. >> thank you so very much. i started to stay that lady justice is smiling. she might even be doing a dance tonight. what an amazing group of women and diverse judged selected by the biden administration. it is a pushback for justice. can you imagine 220 judges selected by the trump administration who argued
wrongly and ignorantly, if i might say that, that they could not find a qualified minority judge or a judge of color or a muslim judge, they could not find anyone that represented the vast diversity of america. so, i don't know if i would say again pushback as much as i would say embracing, recognizing the vast talent of lawyers across america, civil rights lawyers, public defender lawyers and others who have a commitment and passion for justice and a knowledge of the law. >> they did appoint a handful of minority of people of color. the vast majority, as we put up on screen a moment ago, were conservative white men with hard right philosophies. and some would argue that the republicans spent years creating a pipeline of these right wing judges to fill vacancies. they kept seats vacant during the obama era, really focused on
the courts while democrats didn't. some would argue your party was late to this and now you have a supreme court which is two-thirds conservative and you have more than a quarter of currently active federal judges who are trump appointees. >> well, you know, it's never too late to come to a party, one would say. you're absolutely right, though, on the strategy that the trump administration utilized. and that is when he was campaigning, you'll recall one of the cards that he used was to tell everyone either the kind of judges he would nominate and even to the extent the names and the kinds that would go to the supreme court. and that was awe selling card for his election. democrats through members of the congressional black caucus and the tricaucus are finally waking up. we pushed the issue of the importance of judges.
we have been involved and engaged in meetings to emphasize the importance of diversity. we know that the law is the law. you have to read the law as the law is, but you have the ability as a judge to be able to render judgments that bring the law in the manner of interpretation that fits the facts in a more fair manner. we've seen that in the civil rights era where the civil rights participants, the soldiers, if you will, in the civil rights movement, depended on the federal courts. that was their lifeline. unfortunately over these last years, how the trump administration and the lack of democratic judges have promulgated the courts, we have seen that the courts have not been a lifeline. in fact, they have pulled the rug from underneath justice, civil rights and equality in many of the cases that have gone before the courts. i am grateful now that we have the opportunity to, in quotes, intermingle these nominees to be just as balanced as any other person could be on the court. >> well, thank you for making the case for why diversity matters in our judiciary. before we run out of time, i've got to ask, what do you make of
growing chatter on op-ed pages here in washington, d.c. that justice briar should retire so we don't get another rbg situation, so joe biden will get another supreme court nomination the last one appointed three in four years. >> as a member of the judiciary committee, in fact one of our subcommittees last week had a hearing on diversity. i would make the argument that this is not my position to speak to the retirement of supreme court justices. but it is important to make the point that the court is long overdue for the appointment of a black woman, which president biden has indicated he would be interested in doing. so, i'm going to be waiting patiently. and as well i happen to be one of those that believes that the court will not be hurt by expanding the court. let's see what will happen. >> well said. well said. court expansion is a topic that needs to be discussed more. i'm glad you raised it. sadly we're out of time. congresswoman sheila jackson
lee. appreciate it. >> thank you for having me. i'm glad you heard me now. have a good evening. >> we heard you, we heard you. today we got a preview of the latest manufactured culture war that republicans are pedaling. say good-bye to the battle over masks and hello to vaccine passport hysteria. i'll explain after this short break. break.
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the idea of a vaccine passport is un-american. it's likely unconstitutional. >> an unprecedented, undemocratic power grab. >> this is literally the end of human liberty in the west. >> it really is, i think, an unprecedented threat to our freedom. >> that is the new battle cry from the right. vaccine passports are basically nazism or some very other terrible ism. rick grenell posted a picture of a fictional nazi to suggest the government wants to round up the unvaccinated. representative marjorie taylor greene called vaccine passports biden's mark of the beast. justin amash who is generally pretty reasonable characterized them as dystopian. tucker carlson who is anything but reasonable called them
orwellian. seriously? what on earth is this orwellian, nazi, satanist proposal that has them so afraid? a so-called vaccine passport which would allow americans to prove they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus as businesses try to reopen and would be free and available for smartphones which could display a code. people without them could print them out. they could help businesses get people back in bars and concerts and restaurants, to move back towards normal. >> a lot of countries are working on something like this. israel has already done it. now, getting something like this done in the u.s. is a challenge. there are legitimate privacy and equity concerns here just as there are in many things we do every single day. but the right would have you believe that a vaccine passport is effectively big brother coming for you and your family, and it isn't. we already require people to prove they have been vaccinated
for yellow fever to travel to certain countries. even a passport you can carry to prove your vaccinations. and it's not just travel. as americans more than 63 million parents with kids under 18 know, all 50 states with some exemptions require proof that kids have been vaccinated today to go to school. here is the immunizations required for kindergarten and sixth grade entry in south dakota, which includes vaccinations for measles, polio, tetanus and more. even that state's far-right governor kristi noem realizes how important this is after lawmakers tried to pass a bill. she said she couldn't support it because vaccinations save lives. and yet noem is now very offended by the idea of proving you have been vaccinated by covid, calling a vaccine passport one of it most un-american ideas in our nation's history and saying we should oppose this oppression.
yeah, it's pure bad faith opportunism from someone cheerily positioning herself for a 2024 gop run. the same kind of opportunism from ron desantis who has vowed to ban them in his state. >> this is what the republican party is now. it's not a party of ideas or reasonable debate. it exists to play up fears and push ideas of right-wing victimhood. it's the only thing they are really good at these days. take for instance that new georgia voting law which will hit black people disproportionately hard. in a recent piece in "the washington post," what just happened in georgia was a double victory for the g.o.p. republicans got their law passed and the opportunity to renew the sense of racial victimization. they have so carefully cultivated among their constituents for years. "the washington post" columnist paul wauldman joins me now to talk about all of this.
thanks for coming on. is the republican party now basically just all culture wars all the time? >> that is really where a lot of the key figures in the party see they can tap into the anger, the sense of kind of dislocation that they think is going to be to their political advantage. and it really is kind of remarkable that in many ways they have sort of seeded the playing field on policy issues. it's not that there aren't plenty of conservatives at think tanks who have plans to reform welfare or decrease taxes. those things are there. but they are pushed to the side within the party. the people who really are driving the party forward, they are not arguing that much about what their next tax plan should look like. it's more about how can i kind of tap into all of that anger? how can i do it through things like telling them that, you know, they are sort of oppressed because of their race and liberals are coming after them, cap sell culture is coming after them, the spector of a
transgender girl playing on her middle school softball team is going to be the end of life as they know it. something like these vaccine passports, which i should say are not -- it's something that the government is going to be issuing to you. that taps into a lot of those fears of oppression that they have spent so much time cultivating. >> and some of the fears from the -- i believe it's cynical, as i mentioned, kristi noem was fine with vaccination certificates for schools in south dakota last year. suddenly they're the most oppressive thing in modern american history. race is something almost all of our conversations come back to. this was lindsey graham's response to the georgia voting bill. have a listen. >> they had the highest turnout in the history of georgia. we had 150 million something people vote. if you are a white conservative, you're a racist. if you are a black republican, you are a prop or uncle tom.
they use the racism card to advance a liberal agenda and we are tired of it. >> they are tired of it, paul. they are the real victims. in your piece you cite a poll from the public religion research institute which found 52% of republicans said black people face discrimination, 57% said white people face discrimination which really sums it up. >> if you are not tuned into the republican media universe, you may not be aware of this. one of the central themes on fox news, conservative talk-radio is that first of all there are mall lev lent forces of racial reckoning coming to you. the only real racism is white people unfairly accused of being racist. this is a constant theme. any time you enter a cushion discussion that is remotely around race liberals will accuse you of being a racist. and it's an unanswerable charge. this is something that
conservatives talk about all the time and they very firmly believe it. and it's not that there aren't sometimes excesses where some liberal really does, you know, issue an unfair accusation of racism, but conservatives feel like this is something that they are constantly being accused of. i think politicians like lindsey graham use that to activate white identity, to say this is at the come of the political conflict in america is liberals who are going to kind of come after you because you're white. we saw that when barack obama was president. and every single policy thing that he did was described as reparations that there were going to be grabbing from your pocket to give to unworthy black people -- >> paul -- >> we saw it last summer. if you watch fox news you would have thought that half of american cities had burned to the ground because this murderous black lives matter --
>> let me jump in. >> massacring people left and right. >> i am going to jump in. i completely get what you are saying. you do make the argument that this is good for republicans, it's a strategic move by them. i want to push back a little bit and say mitch mcconnell looked defensive and unsure of himself when he was trying to push back against the filibuster calling it racist. have a listen. >> actually, historians do not agree. it has no racial history at all. none. so there is no dispute among historians about that. >> so, i get what you're saying, they are definitely using it for their own self-interest. but it does hurt them, too. i thought mcconnell looked offensive on the filibuster racism issue. >> it's a tricky line. on the one hand they really need to sort of activate white identity to keep people that their base agitated and worked up, and on the other hand they want to tell a story of their own racial innocence. they are always saying this is
the party of abraham lincoln, even though back then republicans were the liberal party. but this is sort of the -- what they kind of two-step is. on the one hand they insist we are not racist and nothing we do is motivated by race. on the other hand, they want to do things like pass voter suppression laws and then tell voters that liberals and the black people that they serve are coming for you and that's why you have to get out and vote republican. >> that is indeed their message. it's a dark one. paul walderman, thank you so much for making time tonight. appreciate it. that's "all in" on this tuesday night. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. good evening, rachel. >> thank you so much, my friend. appreciate it. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. tonight we're going to have the latest for you on the trial of the minneapolis police officer charged with murdering george floyd. we are going to be looking at that story tonight in detail ippart because some of the witness testimony today was so
dramatic and so charged. we'll also be looking ahead tonight to tomorrow midday when president biden is due to announce the next big thing he is planning on doing with congress after the covid relief bill. a big infrastructure effort bigger than anything has been able to do in generations. if you just look around, you know that it is really overdue. we're very overdue for infrastructure investment in this country. we are expecting president biden's plan to be really ambitious. we are looking ahead to that big rollout by the president tomorrow. also tonight we are keeping an eye on the covid news. the biden administration today announced that as of today, we have crossed an important threshold. as of today, a majority of u.s. seniors have been vaccinated. we have hit 50% of all americans aged 65 and up have been vaccinated. just a remarkable threshold. cdc director rochelle walensky