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Transcript: The ReidOut, 10/4/22

Guests: Kurt Bardella, Eric Holder, John Fetterman


Herschel Walker`s son speaks out against his father after new allegations suggest the Senate candidate`s hypocrisy on abortion. Donald Trump asks the Supreme Court to intervene in the Mar-a-Lago case. Former Attorney General Eric Holder discusses a Supreme Court case with major implications for what`s left of the Voting Rights Act. Senate candidate John Fetterman discusses his race in Pennsylvania.




MELBER: Thank you for joining.

EZINMA: Thank you Ari.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

EZINMA: Thanks so much.


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That`s @AriMelber or, where you can always connect with me.




CHRISTIAN WALKER, SON OF HERSCHEL WALKER: Family values people, he has four kids, four different women, wasn`t in the house raising one of them.

He was out having sex with other women. Do you care about family values? I was silent lie after lie after lie. The abortion card drops yesterday. It`s literally his handwriting in the card. They say they have receipts, whatever. He gets on Twitter, he lies about it.


REID: Lord have mercy.

His own son tells Herschel Walker to stop the lies after new allegations suggest serious hypocrisy on abortion and reveal the scam of the Christian right`s family values brand.

Also tonight, Trump once called the three justices he picked "my justices." Now he needs a favor from them. Today, he asked the Supreme Court to intervene on his purloined declassified documents.

And I have two very special guests tonight. Former Attorney General Eric Holder joins me as the Supreme Court hears a case with major implications for what`s left of the Voting Rights Act.

And John Fetterman on his race for United States Senate in Pennsylvania. It is getting tighter and could decide which party wins control.

But we begin tonight with family values, as exemplified by perhaps the most iconic family in American sitcom history.


ANNOUNCER: "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" starring the entire Nelson family. Here`s Ozzie. Here`s Harriet. Here`s David. And here`s Ricky. And they are America`s favorite family, the Nelsons.


REID: Ah, yes, that`s right, Ozzie and Harriet, the perfect example of post-World War II middle-class family values, except it was kind of phony.

The real-life version of TV`s favorite family, the Nelsons, was far from rosy, and the types of 1950s white housewives represented by Harriet, a lot of them were pretty miserable. Just ask Betty Friedan. Fast-forward to the 1980s and `90s, and the concept of family values got weaponized as a catch- all to opposition to all that dirty social progress from the civil rights movement and women`s liberation and used as a cudgel against Democrats.

Look no further than former President Ronald Reagan at the 1992 Republican Convention.


RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over and over, they told us they are not the party they were. They kept telling us with straight face that they`re for family values, they`re for a strong America, they`re for less intrusive government. And they call me an actor.


REID: Yes, except Ronald Reagan himself wasn`t exactly some virtuous Christian warrior. But that`s never really been the case in the Republican Party.

And that commitment to family values, you know, it appears to be a bit sketch, despite the modern-day MAGA Republicans routinely touting their bona fides.


DOUG MASTRIANO (R), PENNSYLVANIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: God uses the foolish to confound the wise and the weak to confound the strong, right? That`s his story. And he uses people like you and me to change history.

We`re going to take the state by storm. We`re going to restore freedom and liberty.

REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): God told me it would be a sign and a wonder to the unbeliever. And let me tell you, we had no money, no name recognition, and we won by 10 points. I am a professional RINO hunter.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): When I said that I`m a Christian nationalist, I have nothing to be ashamed of, and that will make America great again, when we lean into biblical principles.


REID: That would be the Christian nationalist Doug Mastriano, who has been subpoenaed by the House January 6 Committee, and Lauren Boebert, who`s accused the left of grooming children, never mind the fact that her own husband did jail time for public indecency after exposing his "Willy Wonker" to a teenager.

And her partner and cruelty Marjorie Taylor Greene, does she get to keep all three names, whose biblical principles include antisemitic conspiracies about space lasers and Islamophobic attacks on her colleagues. That`s in addition to Greene`s current divorce after multiple allegations of affairs. Family values.

And, of course, there is also their false idol, the former president, whose campaign, many assumed, would be done and dusted after video of him proclaiming he could just grab women by the you-know-what was released, only for him to get 80 percent of the white evangelical vote in 2016.

I mean, what`s clear is that these Christian family values are -- well they`re really more a branding exercise than reality. Republicans definitely care about opposing gay and especially trans people living their lives openly, clearly. And they clearly care about people presenting heteronormative marriage, a couple of divorces and cheating aside.


When it comes to abortion, well -- well, you probably heard about the latest news about Donald Trump`s handpicked Republican candidate for Georgia senator, Herschel Walker, who talked up his anti-abortion absolutist position earlier this year.


HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, there`s not a national ban on abortion right now. And I think that`s a problem. We keep talking about things like that. Right now, I`m for life.


REID: In fact, Herschel supports an abortion ban with no exceptions, not rape, not incest, not health of the mother.

But there allegedly was a Herschel exception. A stunning report in The Daily Beast alleges Walker urged a woman he dated in 2009, who asked to remain anonymous for privacy concerns, to get an abortion, which she did, and she also claims he paid for it. NBC News has not independently verified the report, but The Daily Beast corroborated details of the woman`s claims with a close friend.

They also got receipts in the form of a "Get well soon" card signed by Walker. For his part, Herschel has threatened to sue The Daily Beast, although he hasn`t yet, and he denies the allegation.


H. WALKER: I sent out so many get well, I send out so much of anything. But I can tell you right now, I never asked anyone to get an abortion. I never paid for an abortion. And it`s a lie.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: What about the $700? Check? What -- is there anybody you can remember spending that much money to?

H. WALKER: Well, I send money to a lot of people. And that`s what`s so funny.


REID: Can I have $700?

But his own son appears to believe it. Christian Walker has blasted his father in a series of tweets and videos.


C. WALKER: I`m just saying, I`m done with the lies.

We were told at the beginning of this he was going to get ahead of his pass, hold himself accountable, all of these different things. And that would have been fine. Go ahead. He didn`t do any of that.

Everything`s been a lie. Everything`s been downplayed.


REID: Among the elements of his father`s past that Christian corroborated, his father`s alleged violent behavior towards his mother, Herschel Walker`s ex-wife, and multiple children he fathered out of wedlock while lecturing about black absentee fathers.

Perhaps not surprisingly, as for the party, they are standing by Walker, at least for now, not that they have much of a choice. A super PAC aligned with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell will not be pulling support. They are full speed ahead in Georgia. And so is the Republican Senate campaign arm.

In a statement, NRSC Chair Rick Scott said: "This is just like the smears they attempted against Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas and it will not work."

Joining me is Kurt Bardella, Democratic strategist and contributor to "The Los Angeles Times" and "USA Today," and Anthea Butler, chair of the Religious Studies Department at the University of Pennsylvania, MSNBC columnist and author of "White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America."

Very convenient that we have that -- the author of that book here.

But I`m going to start with you, Kurt, because I`m not sure that Republicans always see their brand clearly, because Rick Scott, who we will remember was associated with record Medicare -- Medicare fraud and Tricare fraud and Medicaid fraud, but who still got -- managed to get elected governor and then United States senator, he quotes Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas, two people who are credibly accused sex offenders.

Herschel Walker ain`t of that.


REID: I`m not sure associating him with Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas was, like, a good branding movie.

What is going on here?

KURT BARDELLA, DNC AND DCCC ADVISER: I mean, if that`s your alibi, I think you`re treading some deep water there.

But this is the thing about the Republican Party.

REID: I shouldn`t say sex offenders. I should say sex pests, alleged.

BARDELLA: There we go.

REID: Alleged.

BARDELLA: Alleged. Right. Right.

Well, listen, this is the do as I say, not as I do party. They`re all about saying no one should have an abortion, except, of course, if the father needs one. Then, well, we`re willing to look the other way and we`re willing to still fund-raise for you.

REID: Yes.

BARDELLA: They say that they hate big government, except they love government telling you what you can or cannot do with your body. They hate socialism, but they`re all of a sudden going to be asking the federal government for billions and billions of dollars to help rebuild Florida.

They voted against rebuilding certain other states that were hit by hurricanes and storms, but now they want that for themselves. Everything the Republican Party is about is just do as I say, not as I do. Family values is just a slogan to them. It`s branding. It doesn`t mean anything.

And we know that because the guy that they have lined up behind, the person that they have been willing to burn democracy down for had an affair with a porn star while his wife was pregnant with their son.

REID: Right.

BARDELLA: That`s family values in the Republican Party.

REID: And, I mean, the thing is, Anthea, I mean, as somebody who grew up in the church, it is fascinating to watch the way that the idolatry around Trump has grown up.

I mean, literally, at one of the CPACs, people fell down in front of a golden statue of Donald Trump without any sense of irony that this looks like something out of the Old Testament. The evangelical -- particularly white evangelicals, are his base. They`re also the QAnon base. And there is this rapid move toward turning MAGA into a religion.


What do you make of that? Because, to me, I don`t think there is a single evangelical Georgia voter that`s going to change their mind because Herschel Walker had paid for an abortion. I don`t think they care.


And I need to tell you that they`re not going to care and that they will still vote for Herschel Walker, because, basically today, there was a prayer warriors for Herschel Walker that met at a large Baptist church formerly pastored by Charles Stanley, and they prayed for him today, and they prayed against the enemy trying to get at him.

So what you need to understand is this. I think I need to make this very clear. Morality has been a shield for the Republican Party and for evangelicalism a very long time. Evangelicals don`t believe in this morality for anybody else. We can think that to people like Ted Haggard and others, where forgiveness is always given for men.

Women are put out to pasture. Women cannot be in the pulpit or anything else anymore. But if a man does something, oh, it`s OK. You can get prayer, you can repent, and you can move on. That is their theological stance. They believe that it is OK for everything that they do, but it`s not OK for everyone else to do it.

REID: And, well, if they`re a Republican man, because, well, they`re going after Warnock, who is the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church. He`s pastor of Dr. King`s church in Atlanta. He`s divorced, and they have gone after him.

But let me play the ad that Reverend Warnock has been running about Herschel Walker. This is actually before the whole latest scandal broke.


NARRATOR: There`s one issue where Herschel Walker actually has made his position clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Walker, do you support any exception to abortion bans?

H. WALKER: Do I support any?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, any exceptions to abortion bans?

H. WALKER: Not right now, I don`t.

NARRATOR: Walker`s for banning abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the mother`s life. And Herschel Walker wants to go even further.

There`s not a national ban on abortion right now. And I think that`s a problem.

NARRATOR: Should Herschel Walker really be representing Georgia?


REID: So we know that this will not change the base vote against Walker. We know that his -- he`s locked in. He can get 46 percent. Somebody said Satan himself could get 46 percent if he ran as a Republican. It don`t matter, right?

But there are -- just as a campaign matter, Kurt, since you have worked in this space, is this an issue, because Roe is such a big deal to so many women and the idea of losing their bodily autonomy is so -- the idea that this guy could and very much would vote for a national abortion ban, we know that is how he would vote, is that going to be enough to sway enough sort of middle-of-the-road voters who are not hardcore MAGA?

BARDELLA: I actually think it is, because we have seen in polling, recent polling, that the national ban on abortion incites people even more than the overturning of Roe v. Wade did, and that -- and this is typical of Republicans.

This is the overreaching that they always do that. It`s like they caught the -- the dog that caught the car, but now they want to go even further. And what we saw -- we saw this in Kansas. We saw it in Alaska. We saw it in New York. Every election that we have had since Roe was overturned, we have seen robust Democrat turnout, exceeding expectations, exceeding all the polling.

And that tells us -- that is a road map to tell us that what we can expect in November if we keep playing this playbook is more turnout...

REID: Yes.

BARDELLA: ... things that will not show up in the polls. The prognosticators won`t be able to forecast it. And I think you`re going to see a massive turnout surge, because Republicans can`t stop talking about wanting to take away women`s rights in America.

REID: Yes. And, in some states, they are even talking about going after birth control too.

And, Anthea, I think the other thing is that we have known that, in the past, there`s been a lot of activism inside of the church, inside of black and Hispanic churches and Latino churches. Is this an issue? Because I know a lot of people who are they`re against abortion, and they are evangelical. They`re nonwhite, nonwhite evangelicals, but they are dead set against the idea of the government essentially owning the female body.

So they`re -- this is activating, I think, even Christian voters who are not MAGA Christians, but just regular Christian voters. Do you think that there`s been enough to try to activate those voters?

BUTLER: I think there could be more. I`m actually disappointed right now in the black church across the country, because I haven`t seen the kind of mobilization that we`re used to seeing.

But I do think that there are a number of Christian voters right now who are disgusted with the hypocrisy of evangelicals right now in the Republican Party, and are willing to vote for women`s rights because they know that this is the right thing and that this is a matter of personal choice. It is not a matter to be legislated by the state or local or national government.

And I think that`s where we will see a very big difference in the polls hopefully in November.

REID: Yes, I mean, it`s not even about people`s individual beliefs about abortion.

It`s literally whether or not you believe the state should control a woman`s body and whether or not people should be arrested for getting health care, because you know the people who get arrested are going to look like this panel.


BUTLER: Exactly.

REID: Folks need to know that if you`re voting.

Thank you very much, Kurt Bardella, Anthea Butler. Thank you both.


Up next on THE REIDOUT: Trump asks the Supreme Court to do him a favor. And, with this court, you know what? Maybe they will.


REID: THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: It now may be up to the Supreme Court to determine the path forward over the Justice Department`s investigation of the classified documents seized during an FBI search of Donald Trump`s Mar-a-Lago estate.

Today, Trump`s lawyers filed an emergency request, a last-ditch effort to overturn the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals` recent ruling allowing the DOJ access to those documents, rather than having to go through a special master first.


Now, remember, at the center of the DOJ`s investigation is whether Trump intentionally withheld documents from being returned to the National Archives and attempted to cover up his deception, in other words, causing obstruction.

"The Washington Post" has previously reported that Trump had overseen the packing process himself of the initial 15 boxes returned to the archives in January with -- quote -- "great secrecy," declining to show some items even to top aides.

A new reporting from "The Post" appears to show the latter that, at the time, Trump asked one of his lawyers to tell Archives officials that he had turned over all the requested material. That lawyer, Alex Cannon, refused Trump`s request because he was not sure if other documents were still at the club and would be uncomfortable making such a claim, according to people familiar with the matter.

That was a good call by Cannon. "The New York Times" adds that, month earlier, Cannon had warned Trump that, if he didn`t return all the materials, the matter could result in a criminal referral. Cannon is two for two. It`s the same warning another former White House lawyer, Eric Herschmann, made to Trump around the same time.

And joining me now is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney and professor at the University of Michigan Law School and friend of the show.

And,Barbara, I guess my sort of basic question, knowing that Clarence Thomas is the one who gets to make the initial decision at the Supreme Court, because he oversees this circuit, of whether or not they take the case, that makes me assume that he`s just going to rule in Trump`s favor.

Are we -- is a Supreme Court affirmation of a former president stealing classified documents and stealing government documents, is that what we need to brace ourselves for?

BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you -- your thoughts are very understandable, Joy, because the court has created its own crisis of legitimacy, especially Clarence Thomas, who ruled -- voted against allowing the National Archives to get White House documents, has said that he thinks all the substantive due process cases ought to be overturned.

He really has demonstrated that he is not someone who follows the law as we would expect one to. But I am hopeful that even Clarence Thomas here will realize that it`s just such an absurd argument that the government would not get to retain possession of documents marked classified. By definition, if they are marked classified, even if they were at one point declassified, it means that some agency in the intelligence community created that document.

It is therefore a government document. And there is no way this is a personal document over which Donald Trump has any sort of claim to privilege or possession. And so, for that reason, I`d be very surprised. But, of course, I was surprised to see Judge Cannon issue that order in the first instance regarding the special master.

So it may be that we`re surprised. But, legally, it is a very, very weak argument that the government should not be able to get these documents back without a special master`s say-so.


REID: Yes.

And let me read just a little bit. This is the emergency filing. This is part of what it says: "It simply cannot be an abuse of discretion of the district court to refer these matters to a special master to determine whether documents bearing classification markings are in fact classified, and, regardless of classification, whether these records are personal records or presidential records."

Trump, his statement attacking -- he sort of wrote -- put a statement out, saying, I want my documents back.

His lawyers -- that was through his whatever -- made a statement. The lawyers seem to be allowing Donald Trump to continue to believe that he owns these documents, when everyone understands that he doesn`t. I honestly cannot understand how we have taken it this far and how it`s even a question. I can`t think of any other human being in the United States who could say, government documents are mine, and get this far, all the way to the Supreme Court.

MCQUADE: Yes, well, Donald Trump has made a habit of winning by losing. Even if he believes he will lose this case in the Supreme Court, it`s just -- it`s still a win for him because he can use it as a grievance in his own P.R. campaign about how unfairly he`s been treated, because members of the public don`t understand the difference.

But there`s just no way, by definition, the documents, whether currently or previously classified, can in any way be considered his personal documents. A member of the intelligence community, one of those agencies, would have had to create and mark those documents as classified, and, therefore, by definition, they do not belong to him.

I`m hopeful that even Clarence Thomas and others on the court will see the law that way.

REID: Let me ask you this question. If Donald Trump is able to prevail and even get to review these classified documents to which he was not entitled or get to keep them for any length of time, doesn`t that mean the Presidential Records Act is now essentially defunct, that it doesn`t exist anymore as a matter of law?


MCQUADE: Yes, these are -- and it isn`t just that these are government records, but they are highly sensitive government records.

I know he claims to have declassified them. There`s no evidence of that whatsoever. And even though that is not relevant to the statutes that the government has used to obtain the search warrant in this case, it still means that these documents are like they`re on fire. Nobody should be touching these documents or reading these documents unless you have a need to know.

President Biden did not extend President Trump the courtesy of a security clearance because he believed he was too high of a risk for it. So the idea that you have got someone uncleared who has access to these documents, which reporting has said relate to things as secret as the nuclear capabilities of foreign nations, this man cannot be trusted to hold these things in his hands.

REID: And wait until an even smarter fascist is president of the United States. Ooh, wait until that happens and how horrifying that could be.

Barbara McQuade, that`s on me. I said that, not you.

Barbara McQuade, thank you very much.

Coming up next on THE REIDOUT: Today, the Supreme Court heard Alabama`s redistricting case. And many worry that the Voting Rights Act will face the same fate as Roe v. Wade. And you should be worried.

This week`s REIDOUT Democracy Defender, former Attorney General Eric Holder, is fighting to protect it.

Stay with us.



REID: The upcoming election will determine what kind of democracy we have, if we have one at all, because elections have consequences.

Just look at the Supreme Court, which is turning back American democracy one ruling at a time. Today, the Republican-delivered conservative majority feasted on yet another one of their favorite targets, the drawing of congressional lines based on power, not representation.

At issue was the congressional map drawn in Alabama. Five weeks from now, voters in that state will vote in eight congressional districts, seven of which are majority white and Republican. Just one was set aside as a majority black district. Months ago, a three-judge federal court panel, including two Trump appointees, ruled that Alabama`s map diminished the influence of black voters by concentrating their voting power into a single House district, even though the state`s population is 27 percent black.

That would have meant the state had to redraw their maps to include not one, but two black majority districts. But, in February, the state made an emergency plea to block the lower court`s ruling. Not surprisingly, the five ultraconservatives on the -- in the majority, including Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett, all agreed that the court should revisit this. Shockingly, Chief Justice John Roberts did not.

Alabama argue that drawing a second district for black voters would itself be racially discriminatory, because it would favor black voters, at the expense of other voters. The three liberal justices pressed the Alabama solicitor general on why they should upend 40 years of precedent to rule that it`s basically OK to gerrymander a district against predominantly black communities.


ELENA KAGAN, U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: What strikes me about this case is that, under our precedent, it`s kind of a slam dunk.

You`re asking us essentially to cut back substantially on our 40 years of precedent and to make this too extremely difficult to prevail on. So what`s left?

SONIA SOTOMAYOR, U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: On all the factors of district court looked at, it concluded that the Black Belt community, which is a community of interest, was inappropriately cracked in three or four districts.


SOTOMAYOR: Why isn`t that actionable?

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: Can you sustain your hypothesis that, under traditional redistricting principles, we can have a map that is drawn the way we ordinarily draw maps and has a majority of minorities?


REID: The conservative justices were way more conciliatory and sure did sound eager to rule in Alabama`s favor, finally delivering the death knell to a Voting Rights Act which they have methodically eviscerated in the face of what feels like insurmountable forces.

But in the face of those seemingly insurmountable forces, across the country, people are fighting back.

Tonight, we are bringing back the Democracy Defenders, people, groups, community organizers and students who are fighting against what do seem like insurmountable challenges.

One of those individuals is Eric Holder, who is -- who has since he left office as attorney general of the United States made it his mission, literally, to protect our democracy and to execute a redistricting strategy that helps rebalance power with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, even wrote a playbook for it on how we can save our democracy called "Our Unfinished March: The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of the Vote-A History, a Crisis, a Plan."

And Attorney General Eric Holder joins me now.

And, Mr. Attorney General, thank you for being here.

I only listened to snippets of it and followed on social media as folks like Sherrilyn Ifill and Elie Mystal were live-tweeting what was going on inside of the Supreme Court, but it was very disheartening, because it felt like the liberal justices, including the new Justice Jackson, were making very coherent points, that the point of the 14th Amendment was to literally protect the formerly enslaved.

And it seemed like the same normal five, and maybe six, they just want to kill the Voting Rights Act. Is that the way you see it?

ERIC HOLDER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it`s hard to tell at this point, but I do think that Justice Kagan had it exactly right. This is a slam dunk.


I mean, this is not -- this should not be a difficult case to resolve. This is a classic Section 2 violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the crown jewel of the civil rights movement. The political power of African- Americans in Alabama was diluted, unconstitutionally, statutorily, inappropriately diluted.

There should be two African-American opportunity districts in Alabama. And you cited it in those statistics that you say; 27 percent of the eligible voters, only 14 percent when it comes down to the representation.

There are sufficiently numerous numbers -- a sufficient number of African- Americans who are geographically compact. It would not be hard, not be hard at all to draw two normal-looking districts that would give African- Americans the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice, presumably, presumably, but not without any without -- any doubt, presumably another African-American congressman from the state of Alabama.

REID: And, obviously, this was deliberately done.

The former slave states very deliberately embarked on a decades-long crusade after Reconstruction collapsed to lock out their formerly enslaved population from the vote. It`s very clear. I mean, Mississippi is even -- has even a higher black pop -- it`s like a third African-American, but you would never know it. They got the one congressman, Bennie Thompson.

And they got like four members in their in their statehouse, just five -- five out of 44 are -- it just -- I don`t know. It feels like it`s locked in now, because you don`t have a Supreme Court that even believes in the Voting Rights Act. John Roberts, who is the mildest of the six, has been a crusader against the Voting Rights Act since he was a lawyer in the Reagan administration. Even he doesn`t believe it should exist.

And Clarence Thomas and Alito and the rest of seem eager to kill it. Are we looking at the death of the Voting Rights Act completely? And what will that mean?

HOLDER: Well, they certainly have hurt the Voting Rights Act in the Shelby County case, where they essentially took away preclearance from the Justice Department.

Section 2 is one of the remaining components that is still a very vital part of the act. And so that is the -- certainly the fear that I have. My hope will be that they will look at precedent, look at principle and decide the case in the appropriate way.

But here`s something that I think the justices on the court need to consider. We have been talking a lot over the last couple of weeks about the legitimacy of the court.

At some point, when they do things that are totally inconsistent with precedent, totally inconsistent with the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, since 1965, every time it was signed back into law by a Republican president, when they do those kinds of things, it makes the American people question, are we dealing with judges who are deciding things in a neutral way, or are they ideological in the way in which they are interpreting the law?

My concern is that they`re going to be ideological. My hope is that they will follow precedent, follow the facts, apply the law in the neutral way that they should. If they do that, we will end up with the -- what the Alabama legislature tried to do being held as violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

And one thing I think is really important here, to this notion that somehow, these things should be race-blind, well, the Alabama Republican legislature did not do things in a race-blind way. They cracked the districts there in such a way that they deprived African-Americans of their full electoral rights.

And so people should not think that this was -- Republicans happened to just do this and it just happened to show up that way. No, they did this in a very conscious way to make sure that African-Americans did not get the representation to which they are entitled.

REID: Yes.

And we know that this is not just in the South. I mean, in Ohio, voters are going to vote this year on a map that their own state constitution said is unconstitutional. And they`re still getting to vote on it.

What can people do proactively just with four or five weeks left?

HOLDER: Joy? Joy, can I interrupt you there?

REID: What can we do?

Yes, go ahead.

HOLDER: That`s an extremely important point. And I will get to your point.

But this is not a Southern thing now.

REID: Yes.

HOLDER: What we`re seeing in Ohio, in Wisconsin, what we`re seeing throughout the country are Republican legislatures ignoring their own supreme courts, doing things totally inconsistent with both their state constitutions and federal statutes.

And so the fight is not only in the old South.

REID: That`s right.

HOLDER: This is a nationwide fight.

And so, between now and then, I think Americans all around the country have to really get out there and vote like they have never voted before. Understand that state legislative races really matter.

REID: Yes.

HOLDER: And it`s -- we should not be only focused on federal, who`s running for president, who`s running for governor. Who controls these state legislatures is really, really important.

And so vote up and down the ballot for candidates who will be democracy defenders.

REID: It is not Sunday, but you can get an amen on that. Vote all the way up and down that ballot. State representatives, they really, really do matter.

Thank you very much, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Thank you.


And coming up, my interview with Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman, speaking of elections.

But, up next, we are exactly five weeks, five weeks from the midterm elections, and early voting is actually starting real, real soon in a lot of places. And the one and only Steve Kornacki is at the Big Board for an update on where things stand.

There he is. He`s got his khakis on, and he`s ready to party.



REID: Exactly five weeks from today, Americans will be voting in perhaps the most consequential midterm election of our lifetimes.

Here to help us break down where it all stands is MSNBC national political correspondent, the Kornackster, Steve Kornacki. He is at the Big Board.

Steve, let her rip.

STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joy, yes, five weeks to go. So let`s take a look here first the big picture indicator.

We always say the president`s job approval rating usually the most reliable indicator of how midterms are going to go. For Democrats, this is not good news. Joe Biden`s average approval rating is 42.7 percent. Put that in perspective here with modern presidents at this exact same point in their first midterm, and Biden`s right at the same level that Trump, that Obama, that Bill Clinton were in what were brutal midterms for them.

The only exception in modern times, George W. Bush a year after 9/11. You see what this meant. For Trump, he lost the House in `18. For Obama, his party lost the House in `10. For Bill Clinton, his party lost the House in `94. Biden`s approval rating is right in that range. That`s the bad news for Democrats.

What`s made this a little bit more complicated, though, is, when you look at the generic ballot, when you ask folks, Democrat or Republican, who would you like to see control Congress next year, the Republicans actually now have the lead on average on this question. It`s by one point. Democrats actually were ahead until the last week or two.

But if you look at the past in the most recent wave elections in midterms, `18, `14, `10, `06, these were all wave elections, and the party that won those waves was up by more than a point at this juncture in the race, so the generic ballot closer than we have seen in wave elections of recent times. Biden`s approval rating looks bad for Democrats. The generic ballot has been more competitive, though.

That`s what`s causing a little bit of the uncertainty here. Take a look at the battle for control of the Senate. It`s 50/50 right now, obviously Kamala Harris breaking the tie for Democrats. If Republicans can get a net gain of one seat, they will get control of the Senate.

So let`s take a look at the Senate battleground in the polling here. Here are the Democratic-held seats that Republicans are trying to flip. You see, there is one, Nevada, where Adam Laxalt, the Republican, actually leads in the poll average over the Democratic incumbent, Catherine Cortez Masto.

And on the Republican-held side, there is one Republican-held seat, Pennsylvania, where the Democrat leads in the polling average. That`s John Fetterman. He leads in the polling average there. If this is what it ended up looking like on election night, if the Republicans flip the Nevada seat and the Democrats flip the Pennsylvania seat, that`d be a win for Democrats. It would keep the Senate at 50/50.

Remember, Republicans have to net one more flip than Democrats. That`s the only way they get control of the Senate.

REID: Well, it just so happens that the race we`re going to talk about literally after the break is the one that you got circled on the right-hand side for -- for me, of the screen, which is Pennsylvania. It is a fascinating field.

Steve Kornacki, man, thank you very much. Always appreciate you.

KORNACKI: You got it.

REID: Cheers.

All right, coming up, yes, my conversation with that very man, John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate in one of the most pivotal Senate races this November. You just saw it. Steve just told you. The interview is next.



REID: One of the most closely watched races of this midterm cycle is in Pennsylvania, where Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman is facing off against celebrity TV Dr. Mehmet Oz for an open Senate seat.

The race has garnered national attention for Fetterman`s expert trolling, from flying a banner over the Jersey Shore saying, "Hey, Dr. Oz, welcome home to New Jersey," to the viral video of Oz buying crudites at a made-up grocery store.

But, all memes aside, this contest is believed to be the Democrats` best bet for flipping a Republican seat. And it could determine which party controls the Upper Chamber for the next two years, which means potentially dealing with legislation like codifying same-sex marriage and heading off Republican efforts to ban abortion nationwide, and to sunset safety nets like Social Security and Medicare, just to name a few.

Joining me now is Pennsylvania`s Democratic nominee for Senate, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.

Lieutenant Governor Fetterman, thank you so much for being here.

LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): Hi. It`s so wonderful to be here tonight.

REID: Great to be here.

OK, so let`s just jump right into it. The polls` sort of average show you still ahead. But the story of the race in Pennsylvania is that it is tightening between yourself and Dr. Oz. What do you attribute that to?

FETTERMAN: Well, it`s absolutely that everybody -- and expected that the race would tighten, because they dumped over $20 million over the last five weeks, and with the lies. And that`s actually tightened the race.

But despite having Mitch McConnell`s tens of millions and FOX News bearing down on us more than all the other candidates combined, allowed us to not only withstand that. We`re actually above, ahead.

And just today, we had a poll came out that had us up six points. And that`s a testament to our record and how we have been able to push back on the lies and stand on the truth of our record.

REID: So, I mean, no one can see it now because you`re wearing a sweatshirt, but, I mean, you got tats like that. That`s the thing a lot of people have. That is not an uncommon thing. It`s not -- this is not 1950. It`s not anything strange.


But what the other side has tried to do is to tie you to the thing they want to talk about this political season, is crime, I mean, even to the point of -- it is a little bit laughable. I almost am embarrassed to even say it -- was trying to sort of tie you to the Crips, tie you to gang membership, tie you to crime directly.

What is that about? And I know some of your tattoos are about your time as mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, and your commitment to ending murder. But I don`t know. How do you respond to this idea that they`re -- they`re essentially trying to sort of thugize you.

FETTERMAN: Yes. It`s absurd.

And it`s the Oz rule. When he`s on TV, he`s lying. And he lies about my record on crime. But the truth is, is that is that we in Braddock, as mayor, in a community with significant gun violence issues, I ran to be mayor for that reason. And for five-and-a-half years, we stopped the killing and the gun violence. We stopped it. And that has never been accomplished before or since I was -- time as mayor.

I run on my record. And, two, and the tattoos were all really just about dates, dates. I was at the scene of any single murder as mayor, and it was a deeply personal issue. And I ran on that issue. And I was able to stop it, and for five-and-a-half years.

And Dr. Oz has used -- to lie on TV about it.

REID: Let me ask you also about an issue that it doesn`t show up in the polls, because it`s not clear that people would be even honest about it if they were asked about it, but it`s obviously your health.

And you have had health challenges in the past year, obviously. Do you think that people`s concerns about your health are weighing into their decision whether to support you for the United States Senate?

FETTERMAN: Absolutely with my health is that my doctors, real doctors, as opposed to Dr. Oz, all agrees that I`m fit to run and serve.

And Dr. Oz lies about my health again too. Again, it`s the Oz rule again. When he`s on TV, he`s going to be lying. And the truth is -- also is, is that, in January, I`m going to be much better, but he will still be a fraud. And that`s the real here.

And he is going to use things, whether it`s my health or lying about my record on crime, because nobody wants to talk about himself, because the other side realizes they can`t make anybody like them. So what they`re trying to do is lie and force people to not like me.

REID: Let me ask you about the issue of abortion. The Dobbs ruling is weighing heavily for a lot of women voters.

Do you hear about this a lot on the campaign trail? Because there is this other storyline that all people really want to hear about is inflation, not necessarily abortion.


Again, with abortion, it -- Dr. Oz is considered to be a joke. But it`s not funny here in Pennsylvania and also in the nation true. Dr. Oz has celebrated when Roe v. Wade fell. And he has called every abortion a murder. And he also believes that the choice to decide belongs with him, not with women and their doctors.

And his partner in Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, all have an extremist view on abortion. And Dr. Oz refuses to answer the basic issue about the national abortion ban from Senator Graham. And it`s been 21 days where they refused to answer it.

Dr. Oz liked to ridicule me that I miss a couple of words because of my stroke. But the two words that are missing from Dr. Oz is yes or no on the abortion ban here nationally. And he refuses to give it. And I suspect he never will, because he understands how extreme it is, and he wants to lie and make sure people pretend that he doesn`t have the exact same views as Doug Mastriano is.

REID: And my last question here, I guess, to you is, you sort of created sort of a natural appeal to sort of young voters and working-class voters.

Do you think that there will be enough turnout among those two groups of voters that will turn out for you? Because working class voters -- and I mean not just white working-class voters, but working-class voters in general, voters of color, et cetera, you`re going to need that turnout in order to win this race. Will you be able to get it, and how?

FETTERMAN: Absolutely.

I`m proud to say that I was a four-term mayor of a community that`s a 75 percent black community here in Western Pennsylvania. I`m also proud, in my campaign, in the primary, I won all 67 counties in Pennsylvania. That`s never been done before in a Democratic primary in Pennsylvania history.

We have reached out and run an every county, every vote kind of campaign. And they`re actually -- in fact, there are many red counties where we actually got more votes in our primary than Dr. Oz got in his own red counties. So we have run a very comprehensive campaign. And I`m proud of the race that we have run. And we`re going to continue all to the end.

REID: Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman, thank you very much. Really appreciate your time tonight.

FETTERMAN: Thank you so much for having me.

REID: Thank you.

All right, a reminder: The last day to register to vote in Pennsylvania is October 24. The last day to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot is November 1.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.

Make sure that you register. Make sure that you vote.