Biden convinced Putin will invade Ukraine. Biden says Russia must choose between war and diplomacy. Biden warns of imminent attack but says diplomacy is still possible. Putin stokes fears of nuclear war with missile drills.
BOBBITO GARCIA, DJ AND FILMMAKER: You did say that. It`s a great quote.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I did say that. Bobbito and David at the end week, I appreciate both of you. Thanks to both of you.
Thanks for spending time with us on "THE BEAT." THE REID out is up next.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with a major development in the ongoing Russian standoff over Ukraine. After a series of increasingly dire warnings, President Joe Biden late today addressed reporters and the nation on the rapidly escalating situation. And when he asked about Vladimir Putin`s intentions he delivered this extraordinary news to the American people and to the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you have any indication about whether President Putin has made a decision on whether to invade? Do you feel confident that he hasn`t already made that decision already?
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: As of this moment, I`m convinced he`s made the decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: That remark represents the most blunt assessment yet that Vladimir Putin will indeed launch an unprovoked attack on his neighboring eastern Europe. President Biden made it clear that the United States will continue to call out Russia for their aggression and deception, including the reported intention to fabricate a pretext for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. But, most importantly, he emphasize that the Kremlin can still make the choice to avert disaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We believe that they will target Ukraine`s capital Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million innocent people. We`re calling out Russians plans loudly repeatedly, not because we want a conflict but because we`re doing everything in our power to remove any reason that Russia may give to justify invading Ukraine and prevent them from moving.
The American people are united. Europe is united. The transatlantic community is united. Our political parties in this country are united. The entire free world is united. Russia has a choice between war and all the suffering it will bring or diplomacy that will make a future safer for everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: The president reiterated the news that Russia`s foreign minister agreed to meet with Secretary of Statement Antony Blinken in Europe next week, but said any military action before that date will slam the door shut on diplomacy.
This comes as Russian provocations continue to exacerbate the already tense situation. According to U.S. officials, Russia now has as many as 190,000 troops amassed at Ukraine`s borders. And NBC News reports tonight that up to half of those forces have now assumed attack position. The United States is also shared new intelligence tying Russia to the cyberattacks that were launched against Ukrainian banks this week. Meanwhile, seize fires violations continued along the frontlines where the shelling has been described as the most intense since 2015. And in an ominous sign of a possible attack to come, Russian back militants announce an evacuation of civilians of the territories that they control in Eastern Ukraine.
Amid all of these, Putin is also trying to stoke fears of nuclear war. He shows at this moment to announce that he`s staging military drills to test Russia`s nuclear delivery systems and he plans to supervise the launches himself. This comes after Putin unveiled what he called invincible nuclear weapons in 2018, and after he endorsed a new first strike policy in 2020, justifying their use in a conventional war.
Joining me now is Russian Opposition Politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, Lieutenant Colonial Alexander Vindman, former Director for European Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council and Senior Adviser to VoteVets, and NBC News Matthew Bodner, who is in Moscow.
And I`m going to start with you first, Matthew. Give us sort of the read on the ground tonight, at least on the Russia side.
MATTHEW BODNER, NBC NEWS REPORTER: Yes. Well, we have seen a bit a sea change in the Russian narrative today and it`s concerning and it`s basically all of the things that we were hoping we would not see.
Starting this morning, as you mentioned, with the announcement by the heads of the two breakaway states in Eastern Ukraine that they were conducting or organizing mass evacuations of the civilian population, we saw actually Russian President Vladimir Putin very quickly swoop in and offer support to these, you know, refugees, saying that they are welcome, that Russia will provide them with some money, about $130, medical assistance, if needed, hot food. He sent his emergency situation minister down to Rostov, that is the Russian city just on the other side of the border from that region.
This has come with a massive kind of uptick in coverage on this issue, in the Russian state media basically it is now wall to wall on this idea of evacuations of the civilian population from Eastern Ukraine because of an imminent Ukrainian military attack on the region.
We`re seeing also, of course, officials, opinion leaders all kind of starting to sound off on using in kind of the harshest rhetoric, the term genocide, to describe what they say is being done to the Russian-speaking population, for example, in those regions.
We`re also seeing reports that we can`t confirm but they are being kind of spread widely in the Russian media right now of an explosion in Central Donetsk, the capital of one of the regions, and two explosions now it seems, at least they`re claiming, at a gas pipeline in Luhansk. That is the other region.
So, it`s kind of out of basically all today in the past 12 to 24 hours all of the things we were hoping we wouldn`t see.
REID: Yes. Alexander Vindman, first of all, let me play what Vice President Harris had to say today in meeting with NATO secretary and then with the NATO secretary vowing sanctions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We remain, of course, open to and desirous of diplomacy as it relates to the dialogues and discussions we`ve had with Russia, but we are also committed if Russia takes oppressive action to ensuring there will be severe consequence in terms of the economic sanctions we have discussed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Give us your read here just from sort of a national security sort of perspective, because it does seem that administration has been very proactive about presenting every possible thing that Russia could try to do to try to get away with this and make it look like they were simply defending the people in the Donbas region or that they had some reason to do it.
Yesterday, Secretary Blinken highlighted all of these different possible false flags, let me put them up on the screen, a fake terrorist attack, an invented discovery of a mass grave, a staged drone strike, you know, a faked attack with chemical weapons, claims of an ethnic cleansing. You know, they`re throwing every possibility out so that, at least outside Russian state media, they won`t be able to pretend.
Blinken also said that he believes Russia will surprised by how the west has held together. What do you make of all this and the potential likelihood that this really will happen?
ALEXANDER VINDMAN, FMR. NSC DIRECTOR FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS: Well, I think it`s a good effort to try to limit the options that Vladimir Putin has. I think it probably has effects on the margins. So, if you had a whole universe of different possibilities that he was going to do as false flags, as these pretexts for war, they`re going to try to narrow down those options.
But it doesn`t really make that much of a difference because Vladimir Putin will just fabricate something, as he`s doing right now with these claims of genocide and these explosions, claiming that it`s an offense from Ukraine.
I think what is fascinating is how much evidence the president and the U.S. government had to assemble in order for the president to declare that Russia is going to conduct this offensive.
Now, I mean, having served in the military, I understand all those assets that the U.S. has brought to bear, that, you know, there is all sorts of signals intelligence, there are air assets that are collecting tactical operational information, these communications that the Russians are doing as they position their forces.
For the president of the United States to declare that this is going to happen is -- you know, they should leave no doubt of where we`re headed. And I think even if we avoid this expanding somehow into a broader war pulling in NATO, we`ll find ourselves in a new cold war.
So, avoiding this hot war, we will find ourselves in new cold war, we will face the reality of a belligerent Russia, seeking to upend the international system and this is going to have geopolitical implications, economic implications for China, domestic economic implications here and I think we will be dealing with this for years to come.
REID: Vladimir Kara-Murza, I won`t ask you to psychoanalysis Vladimir Putin, but it comes as close to it as you feel comfortable doing. I mean, this is one who will completely be isolated if he were to do this. It`s very clear that this pipeline that they very much want to do to get Russia natural gas into Europe would be done, finished. He could be isolated from the access -- Russia could be isolated from access to the financial markets. You were one of the people who pushed for the Magnitsky Act. He could receive personal sanctions. There so much that could be done.
This seems like economic suicide and also, at some point, you can`t hide the Russian body bags that are coming home to their families. How do you even maintain this oligarchic system and this sort of autocracy given the pain that you would be inflicting on your own people? I don`t understand it. Do you?
VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA, RUSSIAN OPPOSIONT POLITICIAN: Well, Joy, you`re trying to sort of speak from normal human logic, and that is, of course, not the logic of dictators. Let`s not forget Vladimir Putin has been in power for more than 20 years. The first thing he did when he did come to power is to destroy the major independent media, shadow of opposition, rig elections to make sure that it`s a completely controlled authoritarian system.
So, for many years, he has existed in a sort of bubble that his own propaganda machine has created with no checks and balances, no opposition, no significant independent media to speak of.
And, you know, I think, at some point, a dictator who in such a position for such a long time, really starts to lose a sense of reality. And so the normal rules of logic that you`re trying to appeal to simply do not apply.
And let`s also not forget that this is a classic page out of the latest playbook to try to sort of create a foreign war to distract society`s attention away from domestic problems. We have a (INAUDIBLE) economy in Russia for many years. We have real incomes that have been falling for year after year after year. We have shrinking space for civil society and political freedom, shrinking literally by the day, not just by the week. And we have a young generation of people in our country who increasingly see no prospects and no future for themselves or for a country as a whole under this corrupt authoritarian kleptocracy that Vladimir Putin has created.
And let`s not forget also that Mr. Putin faces a really big problem in 2024, when he will likely attempt to stay in power at the end of his final term, in violation of a term limit, which he tried to unlawfully overturn in a series of sham constitutional amendments a couple years ago. And there is growing international realization to just how illegal those constitutional amendments were.
So, all of these creates a situation where the Kremlin feels they need some sort of a distraction. You know, what has been termed in previous historical leaders, a small victorious war. That`s the term that comes out of the Russo-Japanese in the early 20th century. As we know, that backfired very badly on the people who tried to stage, as did, for example, the Afghanistan invasion for the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
So, you know, it has worked for Mr. Putin before with Georgia. It has worked for him certainly in Crimea. But, you know, sometimes for these dictatorial regimes, that can be one small victorious war too many. And I think that`s a serious risk for the Putin regime right now.
REID: And to just stay with you for a moment, because, I mean, there is a real opposition. Alexei Navalny, they are now throwing 15 more years on to his sentence, but they can`t stop his movement by tormenting him and his family. I mean, there is a movement. You speak -- and I think you speak very well of it, but there are, as you said, young Russians who want change. And then there`s a whole huge country in Eastern Europe called Ukraine. Where if people know anyone in Kyiv, they know there`s a different life.
If people know anyone who is in that country, they know that there is another option. And so I wonder what you think the blow back might be. Can there be blowback inside of Russia. Is there any space at all for Putin to pay for this inside of his own country if he does it?
KARA-MURZA: Well, Russian public opinion is not in favor of such military in Russia, and it`s difficult to talk about public opinion in an authoritarian society, people have access to objective information and when people will be hesitant they are used to posters or any strangers.
But from what we see and what social trends we do know of, Russian public opinion is certainly not in favor of an aggression against Ukraine. And, in fact, in the last few days, we have seen an increasing number of iconic cultural figures in Russia, you know, musicians, writers, scientists who have publicly spoken out about this war.
So, you know, a lot of western politicians use the short hand of Russia, quote/unquote, to describe what Putin is doing. But let`s not forget there are different voices in Russian and there are different opinions in our society. And for many people in Russia, this is not our war and this is not done on our behalf.
But I think these all comes back at the end of the day to this very close interrelationship that exists traditionally in modern Russia between the domestic policy and the foreign policy, between domestic oppression and external aggressiveness. And when it comes to Vladimir Putin`s regime, those two things are two sides of the same coin.
And so I think what is important to remember that`s perhaps the main lesson from the last century of Russian history is major political changes in the country can happen suddenly. They can happen unexpectedly. They can happen literally within the space of a few days. The Soviet regime collapsed in three days in August of 1991.
And so I think there`s a pretty big gamble that Mr. Putin is about to enter if he really does start a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
REID: I am so glad that we were able to talk with you tonight. Very quickly before we go, I`m going to ask you, Alexander Vindman, from the U.S. and NATO side, what do you see as the potential sort of reaction, pitfalls, et cetera, on that side, on the U.S. and NATO side?
VINDMAN: Excuse me, once the shots are fired, this could go in any number of directions. If Russia encounters significant headwinds in its military offensive and it starts to take significant casualties and it believes that the safe havens, the provision of weapons and equipment that originates from the Baltics, from Poland is responsible for that. I think we could see a situation in which we do see this expanding in a -- maybe even to implicate NATO security directly.
But also this is not going to play out in a matter of days. This isn`t going to play out in a matter of weeks. Russia, when it gets hit with punishing sanctions, is going to retaliate. It`s going to find a way to inflict pain. It`s tried to do so before with countersanctions. This time, it`s going to probably do that through energy pressure, shutting off oil and gas, it`s built a war chest to withstand that, it could probably do that through cyber attacks, it could do that through destroying the cable networks, the communications cable networks that are -- connect us to the Europeans. And I think this just could -- has the ability to spin off in all sorts of different directions.
And, frankly, we should definitely mention that this is going to be very costly for Ukraine. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian casualties, they`ve been struggling for independence for decades now and, sorry, they`ve been -- (INAUDIBLE) seem somebody chime in. They`ve been struggling for independence for decades under a kind of oppressive Russian effort to write a historical wrong, where President Putin holds Ukraine to a certain extent responsible to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
If the Ukrainians that voted to disestablish the Soviet Union for independence in December of 1991 that resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union, and he`s going to correct that, he`s going to be the one to bring Ukraine back to heel. And I think that`s part of the reason that Vladimir points out he thinks very differently.
REID: And he will find out that people cannot always be brought to heel and people of Ukraine and the people of Russia deserve better and they deserve to live freely and to live in a way they want to and choose their own governments. That is my final editorial comment. I will leave it there.
Vladimir Kara-Murza, thank you very much. Colonel Alexander Vindman, thank you. Matthew Bodner, thank you.
Up next on THE REIDOUT, more breaking news, the National Archives now confirms that Trump had been stashing classified documents at Mara mar-a- Lago. So, by Trump`s own standards, I guess we should lock him up.
Plus, why the Derek Chauvin trial did not represent progress in racial justice, the Kim Potter sentencing today for the killing of Daunte Wright proves that.
Also, the very intentional chaos in Texas as early voting begins.
THE REIDOUT continues after this.
REID: Tonight, the National Archives has publicly confirmed that it found classified material among the 15 boxes that Donald Trump squirreled away during -- down at his Florida retirement home.
The news of the missing boxes was first reported by "The Washington Post" on February 7, and the news prompted an investigation by the House Oversight Committee. The chairwoman of that committee requested that the National Archives provide information regarding the agency`s communications with the former president about the missing boxes, their contents, and more by today.
In response to that request, Archivist David Ferriero today confirmed that NARA has identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes.
Now, it really should come as no surprise that the guy who spent his life breaking the law continued to do so as president and on the way out of the White House door. It should also come as no surprise that he was a national security risk.
A few months into his presidency, Trump disclosed highly classified information to Russia`s foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation. A few months after that, he launched a strike on Syria while inhaling a beautiful piece of chocolate cake on the patio of Mar-a-Lago with the Chinese president and their respective entourages.
Now, this is the first part of the show where -- this is part of the show where I also remind you that, back in 2016, much of the media and the entire Republican Party just lost their collective minds over the possibility that Hillary Clinton`s personal e-mails contain classified material.
You remember the chants of "Lock her up" at every Trump rally? The entire so-called scandal ultimately helped deliver the morally corrupt former president to the White House.
"The Washington Post" had previously reported that some of the materials included in the contraband boxes at Mar-a-Lago were Trump`s love letters to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. It also reported that Trump was noticeably secretive about the packing process. And top aides and longtime administrative staffers did not see the contents.
Tonight, we have official confirmation that the former president knowingly and brazenly ignored the law.
New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, chair of the Oversight Committee, which is investigating these classified documents, added that the National Archives also confirmed that they informed the DOJ of the former President Trump`s removal of classified material to Mar-a-Lago and that they identified additional records torn up by Mr. Trump, even after the White House was warned this could violate the law.
The National Archives also confirmed that potentially many more Trump administration records, including direct messages sent by senior officials on multiple social media platforms, are missing.
Joining me now, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York, chair of the House Oversight Committee, and Joyce Vance, MSNBC legal analyst and a former U.S. attorney.
Congresswoman, I want to start by -- I just want to take us back for a moment and play Donald Trump talking about the abuse of classified materials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hillary Clinton should be in jail for what she did to our national security.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: She sent vast amounts of classified information, including information classified as top-secret, top-secret, OK?
If that were a Republican that did what she did with the e-mails, they would have been in jail 12 months ago.
In my administration, I`m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: No one will be above the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Congresswoman, talk about what happens now.
The Oversight Committee now has this information, it is confirmed by the National Archives. What happens?
REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D-NY): Well, we are continuing our investigation.
As you know, we got the information today from the National Archives, and it confirmed everything that we suspected, that he had removed classified documents, torn up classified documents, torn up records, and did not turn over all of the records. We`re trying to get all of the records.
Right now, we`re proceeding with our investigation. They are going to do -- the Archives is going to do an inventory of what is contained in those 15 boxes. We look forward to seeing that. We are working on getting the additional information.
We know that he literally tore up documents. They reported that they received documents that were torn up and had to paste them together. So I agree with one thing he said. No one is above the law, including the president.
REID: Well, clearly.
And Republicans felt that Hillary Clinton -- they talked about things like pre-impeachment, which -- had she become president. I wonder if you can foresee the Oversight Committee perhaps doing a criminal referral for the abuse of classified records?
MALONEY: Well, the National Archives, as you stated, has turned all this information over to the Department of Justice. It is up to them to make a determination of what the steps are.
Following that, it`s my job to get all the information together and make sure this doesn`t happen. It`s our job in Oversight to make sure that the presidential documents are preserved that belong to the American people. We are working to get the documents back.
And it`s astonishing, the activities of the president.
REID: It is.
Oh, it absolutely is. And the reason I played -- Joyce Vance, let me bring you in here.
The reason I played that little opening montage, that was -- it was a large portion of Donald Trump`s campaign for president was accusing Hillary Clinton of misusing classified information. And I`m old enough to remember that James Comey released a statement 11 days before the election confirming that they were indeed investigating whether or not classified information was mishandled by the former secretary of state and then, three days before the election, made another public statement, saying, oh, oops, never mind.
So I cannot think myself -- I`m not a lawyer -- of why the Department of Justice would not treat Donald Trump in exactly the same way. What is the difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, except that he was actually president of the United States when he mishandled classified information? Why wouldn`t the DOJ proceed?
MALONEY: Well, I`m sure that they will proceed.
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: DOJ should...
REID: Go ahead, Joyce.
MALONEY: Go ahead.
VANCE: DOJ should -- sorry.
DOJ absolutely be conducting an investigation. It should be full-force and on all fronts, because this is a very serious violation. And while the congresswoman and her committee have this job of making sure it doesn`t happen again, DOJ has the job of making sure that people who violate our laws are punished, held accountable, so that there`s deterrence for future misconduct.
In this situation, I would not want to prejudge whether it`s appropriate to prosecute. But I have no trouble saying there has to be a full-force investigation. This is potentially far more serious than what happened with Secretary Clinton.
And, Joy, I know that you`re also old enough to recall that Secretary Clinton`s reaction to the investigation was to encourage everyone at the State Department who was being interviewed to cooperate fully with the investigation.
VANCE: She too saw it as a very serious matter.
One problem prosecutors won`t have as they investigate this case is, should they decide that there has been something criminal. And I think, in this situation, that would have to be tantamount to some form of obstruction. Either records were deliberately withheld to interfere with investigation, or perhaps records were leaked out to other sources, foreign, domestic, or what have you.
But, if anything that DOJ decides to look at in the course of its investigation requires either knowledge by the president that it`s a crime to do this or any sort of legal knowledge about the obligations that government officials have in connection with classified information, they have got him dead to center on tape indicating that he`s well aware of the obligations that a president has in this regard.
REID: And, indeed, Congresswoman, Donald Trump has a history of disclosing classified information literally to the Russians. He did that to the Russian foreign minister. He did that before.
He is somebody who is deep in debt, financially in debt. Someone like that, if they weren`t president of the United States, being in possession of classified information, one would think that they have a serious risk of disclosure of that information to others, maybe even for profit, et cetera.
Is that part of the Oversight investigation? What is he doing with this classified information?
MALONEY: Well, we are we are pursuing all angles. There are many areas that we`re looking into.
Joy, I cannot discuss the investigation that we are conducting right now. It is in process. And I do say that you brought up an incredibly important point, when Comey came out just days before the election, and literally alleged that Hillary Clinton had done so many bad things. And it turned out, oh, it didn`t really happen.
Well, here, we have the National Archives confirming to my committee that they found classified boxes and information and documents that -- and they have sent that to the Justice Department to follow up with their activities. And they confirmed that he ripped up and even tried to flush it down the toilet, torn-up pieces.
MALONEY: And then also the social media records were not preserved, his, and they seem to have been destroyed or deliberately destroyed.
So there`s a lot of serious allegations here that violate the law.
REID: Yes, indeed. He apparently even ate some of them. He had a whole different way of getting rid of information, not giving it to the National Archives.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Joyce Vance, you both very much.
Up next: Former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter is sentenced in the killing of Daunte Wright, and it`s raising more questions about fairness and equal justice under the law.
Stay with us.
REID: Today, former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter was sentenced to just two years in prison for fatally shooting Daunte Wright during a traffic stop last year.
That was well below the state`s recommended sentencing guideline of roughly between six and 8.5 years in prison. And even with that meager sentence, with good behavior and time already served, Potter could be back home with her family in just 14 months, 14 months, for the shooting death of the 20- year-old Wright, who was pulled over for an expired registration tag and an air freshener hanging in the back windshield, which is all to say she was pulled over -- that he was pulled over for driving while black.
Wright was then shot in the chest and killed after Potter claimed she confused her handgun for her Taser. Fourteen months in prison and $1,000 fine is all that Wright`s life was apparently worth in the state of Minnesota, which is why so many, but namely Daunte Wright`s mom, could not call this justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATIE WRIGHT, MOTHER OF DAUNTE WRIGHT: Kim Potter murdered my son. And he died April 11. Today, the justice system murdered him all over again.
This is the problem with the justice system today. White women tears trumps -- trumps justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: The light sentence comes on the heels of the Derek Chauvin`s trial, a conviction and sentence that some interpreted as a new era of accountability for police officers who kill black people.
Today confirmed what many of us feared and already knew. Chauvin was a one- off. There was no accountability today. But that isn`t where this story ends. We also saw on full display the imbalance of empathy that permeates this country based on the color of one`s skin, this time by a judge who shed tears for the white killer, but not for the black victim or his family, while also gaslighting the entire country by using the words of Barack Obama, former President Barack Obama, to urge everyone to empathize with Potter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE REGINA CHU, HENNEPIN COUNTY DISTRICT COURT: To those who disagree and feel a longer prison sentence is appropriate, as difficult as it may be, please try to empathize with Ms. Potter`s situation.
As President Barack Obama once said, learning to stand in somebody else`s shoes, to see through their eyes, that`s how peace begins. And it`s up to you to make that happen.
Officer Potter made a mistake that ended tragically. She never intended to hurt anyone. Her conduct cries out for a sentence significantly below the guidelines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Joining me now is Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for "The Nation."
So, Elie, I pulled the -- I asked my team to pull a couple of tweets that kind of summarized a lot of the feelings about this sentence.
Pam Keith, military veteran Pam Keith: "Killing a black man gets you less time and accidentally voting while on probation as a black man. It`s time for serious reform of the judiciary. No one who does stuff like this should be allowed to remain on the bench," talking about the judge.
And Naveed Jamali, a friend of the show and Navy veteran, says: "It`s not a sentence. It`s an inconvenience."
Your thoughts on this verdict -- on this sentence?
ELIE MYSTAL, "THE NATION": Joy, this country hates us. This country hates black people. And we know it. We talk about it. We joke about it. We know - - we know what we`re up against.
But, sometimes, that hatred that this country has for us really comes out and just takes your breath away, just grabs you by the neck and just takes your breath away. And, today, Judge Regina Chu was that hatred, that icy hatred around our throat. She was the spit in our face today, to have the unmitigated gall to stand up there -- sit up there in her courtroom and plead, cry out for sympathy for the killer in front of that boy`s mother.
I don`t have words to describe how offensive that is, how hurtful that is. How unjust that is almost goes without saying. People were like, oh, she made a mistake. The -- Potter made a mistake.
Yes, we have a sentencing guideline for this kind of mistake. It`s called six to eight years. Why did she get two years? Somebody needs to answer me why she got two years. And, of course, we all know why she got two years.
REID: Yes. I mean...
MYSTAL: Because she was a crying white woman. That`s why she got two years, and not the six to eight years that her crime cried out for.
She want -- Judge Chu wants to look at things through Potter`s eyes. I say no. I will look at things through Daunte Wright`s eyes. And I can imagine the last thing Daunte Wright saw. From my end -- I have been in a situation where that might have been the last thing that I saw.
So I -- that`s the -- those are the eyes that I will remember and I would encourage others to remember. And I would encourage others to reject Judge Chu and instead think about Daunte Wright.
REID: I mean, there`s a guy named Mohamed Noor, a former police officer, I believe in the same state, that was -- got 12.5 for accidentally firing his weapon and killing a woman. She was a white woman from Australia. He`s doing 12.5 years for that.
And I think about the people who voted, thinking, well, I`m on probation. I`m out of prison. I served my sentence. I can vote now in Texas, and get five years -- a black woman got five years for voting.
And then you think about what we talked about yesterday in New Jersey, where a black teen and a white -- a black teen and a white -- or I think he`s white Latino teen, get in a fight. And, literally, the police say, no, no, no, this isn`t even about you. We`re just really here about this black kid that you were just on top of punching. He`s the one we`re going to arrest.
You`re right. It`s hard to walk away from the idea that the system is really trying to tell us, no, your lives literally are not valuable at all. They mean nothing.
MYSTAL: As you know, I have two black sons.
And I was telling you last night that I`m having difficulty trying to figure out when I can show -- I have got a 9-year-old. He`s such a pleaser. He`s such a -- he loves people and people love him. And when do I show him your interview with Z`Kye?
When do I show him Judge Chu`s sentencing of Kim Potter? When do I tell my 9-year-old just how deeply this country hates him? When do -- when is it appropriate for me to explain to him that, even should he be shot to death for an air freshener, this country will sympathize with his murderer? When do I bring that up to my boy?
Because I have to tell him that he -- I got to protect him. I have got to tell him at some point what this country will do to him. When is that appropriate to have that discussion? The people need to understand.
Your interview with Z`Kye yesterday and this sentence are part of a continuum. They`re on a linear track, because it`s the same thought process that led those cops to manhandling and physically restraining Z`Kye, while letting the white kid walk away. That`s the same thought process that Kim Potter had when she pulled out whatever, whatever she could find to make the black man stop. Make him stop. That`s all she cared about.
She didn`t care about his life. She didn`t care about his health. Judge Chu: Oh, she wasn`t trying to hurt him.
No, she was trying to hurt him.
MYSTAL: We can debate what she was trying to hurt him with. But she was trying to hurt him.
That`s what happened. And it`s what`s going to keep happening, because there are not enough people in this country who care about stopping it.
Every word you said, I have said it in my own mind too, because I have three black children as well. And it is something that we all have to face as the parents of black children, that, once they walk away from us, there is no law enforcement protect and serve. They`re just at risk every moment that they`re not physically in our arms.
And it is -- it is quite a way to live.
Elie Mystal, thank you my friend.
We will be right back.
REID: Texas is showing us in real time what it looks like when a state suppresses the right to vote.
Today is the deadline to submit mail-in ballot applications for the state`s March 1 primary. In person early voting began Monday. In Harris County, the state`s largest, election workers are dealing with the confusion and logistical nightmare that the Republican voting law, Senate Bill 1, has created for voters, since the law implemented strict new voter I.D. requirements.
And, surprise, surprise, it`s caused many more ballots to be rejected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISABEL LONGORIA, ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATOR, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: Now we have to reject 40 percent of the mail ballots of people who are saying, I already put my I.D. number on the application. Why do I have to do it again on the ballot? I don`t want to share that information.
And so it`s a layering of issues here in Texas. There`s no such thing as a learning curve in elections. These are people`s votes. If we reject the application, if we reject their mail ballot, their opportunities to vote are dwindling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: The number is already so alarmingly high, county officials have asked the Justice Department to open an investigation. The DOJ is already suing Texas over S.B.1.
It is only a matter of time before every red state will be Texas, though, since the big lie has shown that it really does matter who oversees your election. At least 21 election deniers are running for secretary of state in 18 states. Trump has already endorsed a handful of them, including Mark Finchem in Arizona, who was subpoenaed by the House January 6 Committee earlier this week.
Another election denialist jumped into a race this week in Colorado, Mesa County clerk Tina Peters. She`s currently under investigation for compromising voting infrastructure. And last year, a judge blocked her from overseeing local elections.
I`m joined now by Texas state Representative Jasmine Crockett, and Jena Griswold, the Colorado secretary of state.
I`m going to start with you, Secretary of State Griswold.
Let me play for you something that I think is relevant here. This is Steve Bannon. We don`t talk about him a lot, but this was him at CPAC back in 2017 on the goals of a Trump administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: The third, broadly, line of work is what is deconstruction of the administrative state.
And if you...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: How do you deconstruct the administrative state?
Well, one way you can do it -- let`s go to this. This is two for my producers.
The Coalition For America first Secretary of State Candidates is working behind the scenes to fix the electoral system. The coalition includes at least six candidates, including Jim Marchant of Nevada, Mark Finchem, Jody Hice in Georgia, have all made election denial part of their campaign.
You deconstruct the administrative state by having people run for offices they want to destroy. Is that what you think is happening in Colorado?
JENA GRISWOLD (D), COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE: Absolutely.
Tina Peters just jumped into this race against me. She was the nation`s first insider threat compromising voting equipment in her county, costing that county $1 million. She`s working with Steve Bannon, actually announced on his program. She`s under criminal investigation, was arrested last week, kicked a cop cheered when people called for my death at a rally.
And she`s unfit to be secretary of state.
And, Joy, if your viewers want to join me in defeating her and these big lie candidates, they can join me at JenaforColorado.com.
REID: And if -- do you fear that, if she becomes secretary of state that, in the next election, she will simply substitute her own desires for the actual real outcome of the race?
GRISWOLD: Well, I think my opponent, Tina Peters, is a danger to Colorado elections. She`s completely unfit.
And what we are seeing in these big lie candidates is the willingness to lie and put their party ahead of American voters. What we`re seeing in the states is a massive swelling of voter suppression that many of these candidates are pushing. They`re pushing out disinformation about 2020 and future elections.
I worry that they will continue to allow election administration to be attacked. And all of this is so, the next time there is a January 6, it will be easier for these extreme candidates to take power. We are seeing a real-time coup. And it`s up to American voters to stand with us who are defending democracy.
REID: And speaking of real-time coup, let`s go to Texas, because the other way you can deconstruct the administrative state is to make it so hard to vote that even your own voters can barely get -- can barely accomplish it.
So, you have very, very few people able to get through this morass.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick`s campaign, this is the third item on our agenda: "Some voters may ultimately not receive their ballots at all because the lieutenant governor`s campaign instructed eligible voters to send their request for absentee ballots to the Texas secretary of state`s office, instead of their local elections office."
In other words, he`s hurting his own voters.
Meanwhile, in Dallas, according to "The Dallas Morning News," 28 percent of Dallas County ballots have already been rejected during early voting.
This is working just as planned by the Republicans, Representative Crockett, or did they mess up and hurt themselves in the process?
STATE REP. JASMINE CROCKETT (D-TX): You know, we have a running joke in the Texas House that half the time they don`t understand the bills that they`re filing and pushing to pass.
And this is the very example of it. I mean, right now, even in reading that our lieutenant governor was encouraging people to vote by mail, this is something that they wanted to make sure election officials could do or elected officials couldn`t do.
They were upset with Lina Hidalgo down in Harris County, because she made sure that they invested so that people would know that they could do vote by mail in the midst of a pandemic. So they decided, too many people in Harris County voted. So we want to get rid of that.
Guess what? I have questions right now as to whether or not our very own lieutenant governor, who pushed this voter suppression bill, should actually be under investigation. But guess who does the investigating?
CROCKETT: So, I don`t anticipate that our A.G. is going to investigate him.
REID: Oh, Paxton, yes.
CROCKETT: But I think that they actually violated the law that they wrote.
And I knew, and I said, this is not going to be a Democratic thing. This is going to be something that actually goes both ways. It is going to hurt democracy. And we heard from a bipartisan coalition of elections officials that warn them and said, this is problematic.
And, furthermore, on the actual vote-by-mail application, it says, fill this in or fill this in, just like we do when we register to vote. It gives you the option. But then they kick it back if you don`t have the right one of those. And it doesn`t say that.
So the language that they used is problematic. As far as I`m concerned, they should not have kicked anybody`s applications back if they put the wrong identifying information, because the language -- the plain language on there does not read in that way. And they should have just had to live by whatever the plain language said on the actual ballot-by-mail applications.
REID: It sounds as if the -- their voting law is working about as well as the Texas grid.
REID: How can voters who are caught up in this mess, what can they do about it at this point?
CROCKETT: At this point, I hate to say it, but they have got to get to the polls.
And, clearly, our lieutenant governor, I mean, we`re talking about really arguably the most powerful person in Texas. He clearly needs to go. I mean, are you all not seeing this, right? Like, Republicans, you should be fired up as well, saying, wait a minute. This is what our lieutenant governor did.
He didn`t know that you can`t send the applications to the secretary of state. He didn`t know that. And, mind you, this is the secretary of state that our governor put into place. This was the Trump guy.
So, everybody should be on the same page with their scheme. And they`re all confused. And they`re confusing and hurting their own voters. And it`s sad, because we weren`t fighting for Republicans. We weren`t fighting for Democrats. We weren`t fighting for independents. We were fighting for democracy, something that used to matter to everyone, regardless of party.
And that`s what is at risk right now. People don`t understand that, if democracy is lost here in the United States, imagine what happens in this world. It really does matter...
CROCKETT: ... who we put into effect, because now we have got these crazy laws spreading like a terrible cancer throughout the entire country.
Texas state Representative Jasmine Crockett, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, thank you very much.
And good luck to all of us.
We`re back after this.
REID: Before we go tonight, we want to send out our best wishes to our surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy and his family.
On Wednesday on this show, Dr. Murthy told us that his 4-year-old daughter had tested positive for COVID. And then, today, he announced that he, his wife and their 5-year-old son have also tested positive for COVID. He says that he and his wife have mild symptoms, his son has a low-grade fever, but he`s eating, drinking and playing, and that his daughter`s fever is starting to improve and she`s doing OK.
Wishing the Murthy family a speedy recovery.
And that is tonight`s REIDOUT. Have a great weekend.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.