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Transcript: The ReidOut, 2/23/22

Guests: David Rothkopf, Julia Ioffe, Clint Watts, Wayne A.I. Frederick, Elie Mystal


U.S. officials say Russian invasion of Ukraine imminent. Right-wing Trump loyalist praise Putin. U.S. Intel agencies say Russia has all its forces in place for full-scale invasion. Right-wing Republicans become Putin apologists.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid starts now. Hello, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing, Ari? Thank you very much. Have a great evening.

All right, good evening everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with what could the largest ground war Europe has seen since the closing days of World War II. Russia is on a hair trigger positioned to launch a full scale invasion of Ukraine at any moment. Here is what Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC`s Lester Holt just moments ago.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS HOST: Do you have reason to believe that before this night is over, Russian forces will be engaged in something akin to a full invasion of Ukraine?

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: I do. Unfortunately, Russia has positioned its forces at the final point of readiness across Ukraine`s borders to the north, to the east, to the south. Everything seems to be in place for Russia to engage in a major aggression against Ukraine.

HOLT: To be clear, you think tonight that could happen or will happen?

BLINKEN: Look, I can`t put a date or an exact time on it.


REID: A senior U.S. defense official also tells NBC that Russia has brought in nearly 100 percent of all the forces we anticipated Putin would need, quote, they are literally ready to go now.

Additionally, Russian state media reported late today the Russian-backed militants in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine have formally requested military intervention from Putin. The request could serve as the pretext that Putin needs to justify his invasion.

Ukrainian President Zelensky pleaded for peace tonight in an emotional national address saying that Putin wouldn`t accept his phone call. This comes as Ukraine calls up its reserve troops to bolster their defenses and after their parliament today declared a state of emergency.

They`re also warding off another cyberattack which a White House official says is consistent with the type of activity Russia would carry out. President Biden is now further tightening the screws on Russia, building upon the first wave of sanctions he began to issue yesterday. Today, he announced new punitive measures against the company that build the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany, a move that comes after Germany demonstrated their resolve by officially halting that project yesterday.

But in contrast with the response we`ve seen from the Biden administration, NATO and the entire western world, MAGA Republicans have responded to Putin`s aggression with flattery, adoration and approval. Russian state T.V. is reportedly showcasing how former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gushed about Putin with school girl enthusiasm last week, praising the Russian tyrant for his elegant sophistication.

Just listen to his choice of words.


MIKE POMPEO, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Very shrewd, very capable. I have enormous respect for him. I`ve been criticized for saying that. I have enormous respect for him.

I consider him an elegantly sophisticated counterpart.


REID: Likewise, a Fox`s chief Putin apologist Tucker Carlson has also been embraced by the Kremlin state media apparatus. And an absurd rant last night, he said the United States has no reason to oppose Putin.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Hating Putin is become the central purpose of America`s foreign policies. It`s the main thing that we talk about.

What is this really about? Why do I hate Putin so much? Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middle class job in my town to Russia? Did the manufacturer worldwide pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for two years? Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination? Is he making fentanyl? Is he trying to snuff out Christianity? Does he eat dogs?


REID: Not to mention, wow, that the supreme leader of the Republican Party, Donald Trump, released yet another message supporting Vladimir Putin over President Biden today. It comes after he praised Russian aggression as genius and parroted Putin`s propaganda that Russian troops are acting as so-called peacekeepers, which they are not. In other words, Trump and his fan club, with some exceptions, are actively siding with a dictator who is seeking to up end the world order that has prevailed since the fall of the Soviet Union.

But as Author and Columnist David Rothkopf said in an epic Twitter thread today, this is par for the course at this point for the party of Trump, quote, they like the man they`re defending, have attacked the very foundations of our system of democracy. They, like Putin, sought to discredit our electoral system and cheated. They engineered a coup and are still defending it.

This also marks an ironic pivot for the party that was literally built on decrying Soviet communism, including accusing civil rights leaders of being a fifth column siding with the communist enemy against American greatness.


Well, it turns out, okay, yes, there is a fifth column and it`s right inside the Republican Party in their media apparatus, which apparently clearly has fallen in love with Russian autocratic kleptocracy. And by legitimizing Putin and advancing his goals here at home, they have officially broken with their former patron saint, Ronald Reagan, who famously called soviet Russia an evil empire.

Joining me now is former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, he`s an MSNBC International Affairs Analyst, Julia Ioffe, Founding Partner and Washington Correspondent for Puck News, and David Rothkopf, Columnist for The Daily Beast and USA Today, and Host of The Deep State Radio Podcast.

David Rothkopf, I`m going to start with you, because it was your rant that just sort captured my attention today because, you know I have come to expect very little from the Republican Party to be blunt. I understand that they prefer autocracy, they want a white nationalist autocracy in the United States. They believe that white Christians are beleaguered and need to rule the United States without elections, got it.

But this is really at this point open. This is Neville Chamberlain behavior. This is appeasement. This is saying we should either side with Russia or let them run over Europe. That is new. I feel like that is something Trump brought to the table. Your thoughts?

DAVID ROTHKOPF, THE DAILY BEAST CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST: Well, I find the whole thing hard to believe, you know, in most of our history, when we were threatened or our allies were threatened by an enemy, we tried to come together. It doesn`t mean we always agreed but we tried to make an effort to present a united front to the world and we looked after American national interests first and foremost.

Here, you have an entire movement within the Republican Party that is praising a man who is threatening an innocent democratic country at its borders, has moved in 190,000 troops and may, at any minute, unleash carnage on innocence.

The president of the United States has worked with our allies in Europe, with NATO, with the E.U., has worked with Ukraine in order to try to mount a defense to dissuade Putin from doing this and these people are praising Putin.

The president, the former president of the United States, Trump, is calling him a genius. You just showed Mike Pompeo fawning over him. Before I came on I just noticed that Mike Pence is going on another network in a little bit to talk about the weakness of Biden, Nikki Haley talking about the weakness of Biden.

This is outrageous behavior, and it would be more shocking if the Russians didn`t help elect Donald Trump in 2016, if Donald Trump didn`t embrace Putin and value him over our intelligence community, if Donald Trump did not cater to Russia interests ahead of U.S. interests time after time after time. We`ve hit a switch. There`s one party in the United States that supports U.S. interests and there is another party that actively opposes them.

REID: And, Julia Ioffe, just to be clear again, they are not supporting, you know, Germany, who are our bosom friend, or Britain over the United States and saying, well, they like Boris Johnson better than they like Joe Biden. Russia, the man who runs Russia, I don`t say all the Russian people, just this guy, Vladimir Putin, ex-KBG, hates the United States, wants to destroy the United States, hates NATO, hates the west. These people are siding with someone who, am I wrong here, hates us.

JULIA IOFFE, PUCK NEWS WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I don`t know that he hates us. I think sees us as his main adversary and he wants to be our equal in the world and he wants to restore this cold war balance of power. He thinks the cold war was great and we should get back to it.

But I do think that some of this gets to our toxic political culture where at least, and especially on the Republican side, it`s more important to be against the other party even if it`s the president of the United States, who is dealing with an international crisis, and if that means siding with a foreign dictator, at least you`re not siding with a Democrat.

The other thing I will say is that what you`re seeing is just the kind of cherry on top. There have been connections at the grassroots level and at the kind of donor level for well over a decade between the American right- wing and right-wing elements in the Russian state. So, for example, the World Congress of Families has worked really closely with organizations in Russia to, for example, help them write these laws that then gave propaganda in Russia.


They are helping Russian right-wingers and the Russian Orthodox Church push the government to ban abortion in Russia, which has been legal there since 1920. And it`s just not a topic of discussion. That is completely settled at this point. But American conservatives are going over there pumping money into it and working to overturn this issue.

You saw Maria Butina, the red headed influence agent, I guess, I`ll call her, who worked very closely with the NRA, and her political patron who was then a member of the Russian parliament went on NRA junkets and hosted them in Russia.

Like, there is an ideological affinity there, like you said. They see Russia as a white Christian conservative nation where there are only two genders and only one kind of sexuality that is not an accurate picture of Russia but they think that that is the kind of, you know, white Christian autocracy we ought to be more like.

So, and then on top of that, you have the kind of team sports nature that American politics has taken on in recent days. So, that`s what I think is going on.

REID: Absolutely. And, I mean, the reality is, former Ambassador McFaul, Russia understands the United States to have this part, right? And he`s always needling it -- actually Putin does. He understands where to stick the pin in because he understands that that exists and he did it with Donald Trump, he stokes it on the right.

He understands that any weakness between the two parties, any division he can exploit it, because he does want to replace us. He doesn`t want what you have as a U.S.-led global order. He wants it -- he wants to be equal or even superior to us in that order.

So, I wonder from your point of view what he`s doing right now to me feels irrational, because being cut-off from the entire financial system, he may be able to survive that because he`s personally you know multibillionaire, but not everyone in his country can. The body bags aren`t coming to his door, they are coming to the Russian people`s door. Do you see this as irrational behavior on his part, the things that still could be done? These sanctions could become devastating. He doesn`t seem to care.

MICHAEL MCFAUL, MSNBC INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: He doesn`t care, because as you just rightly described, they`re not going to hurt him. And this is not about where the stock market and Russia is go to be in a week or a month or even months from now. Putin is playing a long game here, a very -- the word rationality is very elastic term, right? Is he irrational or not, but he is an ideologue. Let`s use that word. And as Julia was just describing, he has an ideology.

By the way he has followers not just in the United States, that you have all been talking about, but throughout most of Europe. There are pockets of people that think like him and line up with him along that ideological way. But there`s going to come a moment of truth very soon.

There is good and evil in the world. There is an autocratic Putin that is about to attack a democratic Ukraine. And if all the predictions that we have, all the intelligence is right, tens of thousands of people are going to die. And Mr. Pompeo`s comments that he`s made yesterday or today and Mr. Trump`s comments that he just made are going to look really, really silly. They`re going to look atrocious that they were -- when it was good and evil, they were standing next to evil.

And the second thing that they fundamentally don`t get, they always talk about Biden`s weak, Biden`s weak, Biden`s weak, what makes us weak in the world is this kind of division. This is exactly what makes us weak. When we are divided amongst ourselves when it`s a clear cut thing between good and evil, we are on the eve of probably the biggest war in Europe since 1939, and what are they focused on? Attacking the president of the United States, that makes us weak.

REID: Yes. Even Ted Cruz figured out that the right thing to do was to stand down on blocking those State Department nominees and praised Biden for at least being strong in the face of Putin.

I want to ask you very quickly, Ambassador McFaul, what do you make of -- so Germany also is having to have resolve here because Nord Stream 2 is going to helped them economically. They stood strong. Now, you`ve got this sanctions that are against the people on the Russia side that did it Nord Stream 2.

Dmytri Medvedev, tweeted sort of some snark at Germany saying, well, I guess Europe is going to have to get used to really expensive gas and thinking that Europe won`t hold because their economic interests will eventually overtake their understanding of good and evil. What do you make of the potential fortitude of our NATO allies of Europe, of the E.U.?

MCFAUL: Well, I think if what everybody thinks is going to happen, that Putin goes in big and there is a massive war, there will be comprehensive sanctions and I think they`ll stand together. I think the Biden administration actually has done a pretty incredible job of building that coalition. I would not have said that just four or five weeks ago.


And I want to say very bluntly, I support it 100 percent. If you want 100 percent sanctions, I want 110. If you want to go after their kids, I want to go after their grandkids. So, on that dimension, I think it`s absolutely right we do whatever we can and at the same time, I have no illusions that threat of sanctions is going to affect`s Putin`s calculations at this tragic moment in world history.

REID: Yes indeed. And one day, I think when people look back on what he did, I think the term rationality will absolutely be debated about what he thinks that he is accomplishing here.

Thank you Ambassador Michael McFaul, Julia Ioffe and David Rothkopf.

Before the break, I do want to show you some powerful images in support of the people of Ukraine. In Berlin tonight, the Brandenburg gate was lit up in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, a similar tribute tonight in Paris where City Halls was illuminated in blue and yellow as the crisis with Russia deepens.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, Russia is accused of a major cyberattack today on Ukrainian government and banking websites.

Plus, staggering new information about the extent of the ongoing terror campaign against historically black colleges and universities in this country.

And President Biden has also said to be very close to announcing his historic choice for the Supreme Court and a clear favorite emerged.

In New York, a major development meanwhile tonight in the Manhattan investigation of the Trump Organization.

And tonight`s absolute worst is no stranger to fraud. His company committed a lot of fraud, massive fraud. Now, he has an elaborate plan that would allow everyone to share in his fraudulent vision of America.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: Russia has nearly all the forces in place for a large-scale invasion of Ukraine.

But, these days, wars don`t just play out on the battlefield. Less visible are Russia`s cyberattacks. Today, the Web sites of Ukraine`s government, Foreign Ministry, and state security service were down in what the government said was the start of another mass distributed denial-of-service attack, also known as a DDoS attack.

The attack also impacted some Ukrainian banks, the White House told NBC News -- quote -- "We consider these further incidents to be consistent with the type of activity Russia would carry out in a bid to destabilize Ukraine."

Ukraine has suffered a string of cyberattacks that Kyiv has blamed on Russia. Just last week, a separate cyberattack targeted the online networks of Ukraine`s Defense Ministry and two banks.

Joining me now is Clint Watts, who worked as a consultant to the Fbi Counterterrorism Division and is now a distinguished research fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, And Malcolm Nance, a former U.S. naval intelligence officer and the author of the upcoming book "They Want to Kill Americans."

Thank you both for being here.

Clint, I will start with you.

Explain what a DDoS, or DDoS, attack is? And how likely is it that Ukraine would know for sure that it emerged out of Russia?


So, a way to think about it is, this is not what people often think, which is a hacker penetrating into a system and shutting down a computer network. Instead, the whole idea is that you call up massive numbers of computers to essentially hit a Web site for requests at the exact same time.

And imagine a hose and a funnel, that you`re overflowing the funnel with water. The systems can respond to it. We even see this when we have very famous pictures maybe that show up on social media in America. You will see somebody say, the system goes down. Same effect, except it`s not intentional.

A DDoS attack is an intentional attack. And it`s very hard to prove exactly where it comes from because it`s literally leveraging millions of computers around the world, using a botnet usually, to actually direct all that energy at one single target in cyberspace.

So, it`s difficult to prove. But when you look at the timing, the consistent pattern, this mirrors the same target, the same technique that we saw in Ukraine last week. And what did we see last week? Ramping up of military action by Russia. What are we hearing about today? The exact same thing.

So it seems highly unlikely it would be anyone other than Russia.

REID: So, you have just recently returned from Ukraine, Malcolm. How vulnerable are they to this? And how prepared do you think that they are?

MALCOLM NANCE, NBC COUNTERTERRORISM AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, they`re extremely vulnerable, because they`re almost dependent on cellular networks and Internet networks all throughout the country.

And, I mean, they are a very wired country. I have been to some extremely small villages in the Carpathians that were very, very solid, cellular networks with 5G. And that`s the way that they communicate as well.

I was quite surprised how many people don`t actually have satellite television anymore, but are actually using all I.P. Internet-based information. The Russians are going to attack that infrastructure. And I think it`ll be one of the first indications that something is going on, not just taking out ministry Web sites, but actually blinding the entire country almost simultaneously.

But I know that we`re constantly worried about the cyber threat. And these cyber threats themselves may, in fact, spill over to the West. I mean, if I were the Russians, I would ensure that, at the time that the world is looking at Ukraine on the initial assault, that maybe they do a very soft cyberattack against the West just to stun us for a short bit, and to make it appear that the capabilities they`re exercising Ukraine are far larger than they actually are.

REID: And that -- I guess that brings me to the question that I had for you, Clint, because -- so, Russia`s hybrid war.

This is a thing "The Economist," a piece "The Economist" posted on Tuesday.

"Many of the murky actions attributed to Russia since 2014, from cyberattacks to assassinations abroad, meddling in elections in the West, and now the threat of invasion, have been labeled as forms of hybrid war."

They are a country that has been known to -- or a government that has been known to do that. And so I guess the American -- those in our audience would wonder, how vulnerable are we to Russia deciding to expand their attacks, as Malcolm just said, beyond Ukraine to the West, including to us?


WATTS: I think it really depends kind of on what Russia assesses in the coming days.

The threat is from things like sanctions or additional levering that you might see from NATO and European partners. Right now, they`re going to use it part and parcel with their ground campaign inside Ukraine. This is very traditional. For the last eight years in Ukraine, they have been under nonstop cyber assault. So they`re used to it. It definitely causes lots of havoc and problems, but they are somewhat resilient to it.

In the U.S., if Netflix goes down for an hour, the country goes into chaos.


WATTS: I mean, we`re just not used to this kind of sustained cyberattack. We expect to have everything at our fingertips and for it not to be interrupted. So it`s partly just human resilience.

I think, beyond that, there`s really three layers to it. We see what`s going on inside Ukraine right now. The next layer really is Germany, France, and the U.K. is really the backbone of NATO. They`re the ones that have to bring a lot of these sanctions. And they suffer greater costs.

And this is where cyber and information come together. You will see a lot of cyberattacks directed. I would expect Germany would be number one, because they`re holding out on Nord Stream 2. And that will be coupled with actual disinformation pushing into these Western European countries, trying to pit them against their elected leaders, puts lots of pressure from the inside.

And, Joy, I don`t have to tell you, if you watch another network right now, you will see the success of those information campaigns here in America...

REID: Yes.

WATTS: ... where those lines are spouted by former politicians and people with a very loud voice.

REID: I have to ask you about that as well, Malcolm, because, I mean, we are seeing the former United States secretary of state, I`m sure Tuckums, I`m sure Donald Trump being used by Russian state media, which is controlled media by the Kremlin, using Americans now as sort of their chief propagandists.

Your thoughts?

NANCE: I find it absolutely fascinating, as a student of World War II, that, at the end of World War II, Tokyo Rose and Lord Haw-Haw, two the largest propagandists, one for the Germans, one for the Japanese, were both tried for war crimes.

We actually have an environment now, where hiding behind the First Amendment -- and they have a right to say what they do say. I will defend that right with my life. But they are aiding at a time -- in an attempt to dismantle a democracy, as it is facing an existential threat, and acting as advocates for a foreign power.

Look, I just left Ukraine this morning. It was a very teary, heartbreaking scene leaving this country, leaving people behind that we have known and worked with over this time. And they just cannot understand Donald Trump. And they understand Paul Manafort. I mean, the man who worked with Yanukovych...

REID: Yes.

NANCE: ... tried to dismantle their country.

But all the rest of the Republican Party siding against them is absolutely heartbreaking to them. But, look, these people now have steely resolve.

One last thing, Joy, I want to make clear. When they do this hybrid cyber warfare against Ukraine, it`s going to be followed up almost instantly, if not within the hour, of a massive kinetic attack. They are going to use long-range battlefield ballistic missiles to knock out TV infrastructure.

They`re not just going to jam Ukraine. They`re going to blow up all the cellular networks. They are going to use airstrikes and physical attacks that will kill thousands.

REID: Yes.

NANCE: So, when we say cyber warfare and hybrid warfare, we`re moving away from hybrid back to a form of asymmetrics where they dominate the ability to kill Ukrainians. And that`s going to be a big part of it.

REID: It is. And yet you have Americans that are siding with them, which is insane.

NANCE: Absolutely crazy.

REID: Malcolm Nance -- it is.

Malcolm Nance, Clint Watts, thank you.

Clint Watts is sticking around.

Thank you, Malcolm.

And up next: New information from the FBI reveals how many HBCUs were targeted by the recent avalanche of bomb threats. And the numbers, oh, they`re alarming.

Stay with us.



REID: The FBI announced today that, between January 4 and February 16, a total of 57 historically black colleges and universities, houses of worship and other faith-based and academic institutions were targeted by bomb threats. That`s more than one threat per day.

And it doesn`t include the latest incident, Hampton University in Virginia receiving a threat this morning. The FBI notes that their investigation is of the highest priority for the bureau and involves 31 field offices. The FBI is investigating these cases as racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism and hate crimes.

Although, at this time, no explosive devices related to these threats have been found, "The FBI," it says, "takes all of these threats with utmost seriousness and will remain vigilant to protect our communities."

By our count, 35 HBCU has ever seen bomb threats this year. That means that more than 30 percent of the hundreds of thousands of students attending an HBCU had their education disrupted and their safety put in question.

HBCUs are havens for the black community. The first schools educated the descendants of formerly enslaved people and gave black Americans the space to learn when they were excluded from other institutions. And now those schools are under threat.

Back with me is MSNBC national security analyst Clint Watts. And joining me now is Howard University President Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick.

And, Dr. Frederick, I with start with you.

Talk a little bit about what these threats to your school, to Howard University, and to other HBCUs have done to the community that goes to -- that attends and works at these colleges.


DR. WAYNE A.I. FREDERICK, PRESIDENT, HOWARD UNIVERSITY: Yes, it certainly has been disruptive.

As you can imagine, it has instilled fear in the community, some apprehension, and, to be quite honest, some anger as well.

REID: Yes.

FREDERICK: You have young people who are already disadvantaged coming to our institutions to pursue a better opportunity, pursue a better life in earnest, not really causing anybody else any type of trouble, and having these attacks.

I mean, even without finding any devices, et cetera, as you can imagine, we have had to suspend class. We`re using more resources for security that we could be putting into these young people. And so it`s extremely disruptive.

I think, more -- most importantly, the mental health, when you look at the impacts of the pandemic, and now this, it`s a lot of mental health stress. So we have also had to increase our resources there as well. But we`re going to remain resilient.

REID: Indeed.

And I want to put this map again for you, Clint. This is -- the HBCUs targeted just this year, 31 schools. And you can see that it looks like the old Confederate states. They`re mainly in the -- they`re in the South. Of course, there are many, many HBCUs in the South.

And I wonder, just as somebody worked for the FBI, how do you even go about figuring out who did this? They have definitely already determined at the DOJ that these are hate crimes, that they are racially motivated.

WATTS: Yes, I think it`s obvious, just looking at the pattern, that someone`s gone down the full list and tried to intimidate and threaten people across the board, based on a specific thing, which is race. And I think that`s why you`re seeing the Hate Crimes Division take this on.

Separately, you have different modes of communications and mechanisms of communications. However, all of those leaves signatures, especially these threats that are coming in, in the online portals. I would imagine the FBI is probably the only organization in the world that can put those pieces together.

And they will start to move and hunt that down right away. I think the next thing is, how quickly can they put those pieces together, or do they end with a lot of dead ends? It just depends on the sophistication of the people who are perpetrating this. If they`re sloppy, they don`t really understand their Internet technology, this can move very, very quickly.

However, it also could be tough to put together, if they know how to cloak themselves online, they change their pattern up in terms of these threats. If that is the case, that would mean a more sophisticated actor, and it would likely mean a more sophisticated threat.

REID: Yes.

WATTS: Beyond just, hey, I`m going to organize this campaign of death threats against all of these universities, it could be they have the sophistication to actually put a plot together as well.

So, I`m hoping it is the former, rather than the latter.

REID: And it`s pretty -- and I said 31 schools. I meant 35 schools have been targeted just this year.

And, Dr. Frederick, how has the university had to sort of change the way things operate on campus? I know some people are now back on campus. Everything is sort of hybrid because of COVID. But how have you had to change the way that things operate at Howard due to these threats?

FREDERICK: So, what we have been doing, the first thing is, we have been educating the entire campus about how to react to these threats we have.

Obviously, we have lockdowns. We have -- where we want people to stay in place, et cetera. So we have had training recently. The FBI actually participated in that. And, again, as you can tell, I mean, that creates a lot of psychological stress. So, we have had to increase counselors.

We have undercover security as well across the campus, looking for any suspicious activity. We have had to increase our patrols as well, and especially in the residence halls, because, actually, our residence halls are full. We are back to face-to-face for the most part. So, the majority of our campus is back there.

And then, just as importantly, we run a hospital as well. And, as you can imagine having a bomb threat on campus when somebody does not specify a location, having to evacuate the hospital in the event that something does happen is a very different circumstance.

So, planning those logistics has been the other thing that we have been doing. So, it has been taking up a significant number of resources and manpower as well, to be quite honest.

REID: Yes. Yes, I am sure.

Well, wishing everyone the best.

And it is notable. I think we should note that these ramped up with the start of Black History Month, not probably coincidentally.

Clint Watts, Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, thank you both very much. stay safe.

Up next: ticktock. The White House says it will have a Supreme Court nominee by the end of the month, which is Monday.

We also need to talk about today`s resignation of two Manhattan prosecutors working on the investigation into Trump`s shady business practices. What does it mean for that investigation?

We`re back right after this.



REID: Happy Black History Month, everybody.

Yes, Tuckums and DeSantis, it is still legal.

OK, let`s talk about someone who right-wing politicians want to erase from the history books. Meet Constance Baker Motley, who, on this day in 1965, became the first black woman elected Manhattan Borough president. And that is just a fraction of why she`s a legend.

Motley was the NAACP Legal Defense Fund`s first woman attorney, a protege of the great Thurgood Marshall. She wrote the initial complaint in Brown vs. the Board of Education. She played a key role in ending segregation in landmark civil rights cases. And, as the first black woman to argue before the Supreme Court, she won nine of her 10 cases.

She also led campaigns to desegregate Southern universities, including the University of Mississippi. She is pictured here with James Meredith. And that was all before she became the first black woman nominated to the federal bench by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966.

Mississippi`s James Eastland, the Democratic Dixiecrat chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and notorious racist segregationist, delayed her confirmation process for seven months.


And, as "The New York Times" reported at the time, Eastland tried to smear her as a communist. Sound familiar?

The story of his unsung hero is timely,since, at any moment, President Biden is expected to announce his nominee to be the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. He`s interviewed three candidates and pledged to announce his choice to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer by the end of the month.

The finalists? Federal Judges Ketanji Brown Jackson and Michelle Childs and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.

Joining me now is Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for "The Nation."

Elie, it is always great to see you.

Let`s talk SCOTUS. OK, so Biden -- it is allegedly down to three. The thinking is that it`s probably Ketanji Brown Jackson. Do you have any scoops or any other intel for us?

ELIE MYSTAL, "THE NATION": No, I have no insider information about this.

I call the White House. They don`t always call me back. You know what I`m saying?


MYSTAL: But as much as the zeitgeist is around Brown Jackson -- and I do think that to the pick is going to end up being -- let`s not minimize the importance of these interviews.

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: The president of the United States and their Supreme Court nominee do develop a relationship. They have to kind of be in it together.

It`s funny. This is the nominee to replace Stephen Breyer. One of the reasons why Ruth Bader Ginsburg was nominated before Breyer is that, for this kind of final interview process, Breyer had recently been hit by a bike -- had been hit on his bike, and he was in the hospital. He came out of the hospital, kind of like on Percocet, to do this interview with Clinton.

And Clinton just, like, didn`t like him. He was like -- that`s something -- something weird about that guy.


MYSTAL: And that`s one of the big reasons Breyer didn`t get the job the first time around. So you never know what could happen in this interview -- in this final interview phase, the final rose phase.

But, yes, the -- all of the power right now seems to be behind Brown Jackson, who, let`s remember, has been the front-runner for this job not just...

REID: The whole time, right.

MYSTAL: Well, not just the whole -- right? For six years.

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: She was in the final room when Obama nominated Garland.

REID: Right.

MYSTAL: She`s been the person for a while now.

REID: And, I mean, the thinking was that Merrick Garland going into A.G. is what opened the seat for her, because she`s been the person that`s been the focus.

But I have to ask you, what have you made of the kind of internal attempt to sort of elevate Childs, right? And there was a pretty overt campaign, I would say, by Jim Clyburn to do that. What did you make of -- what did you make of that? It seemed like there was a Lindsey Graham-Clyburn kind of attempt to really push her that -- I don`t know. What do you make of it?

MYSTAL: I mean, we`re Democrats, right?

Like, Democrats -- Democrats don`t know how to do this any other way than having some internal strife and battles. Like, I try not to pay -- to pay too much attention to the internal divisions.

One of the things I will say -- and I wrote about this for "The Nation" -- is that, while I do think that, in general, the Supreme Court and courts in general are not diverse enough in terms of their professional backgrounds, in terms of educational backgrounds...

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: I think that`s a really strong point and a strong point in Childs` favor, in fact.

However, for this appointment, I would not denigrate or ding the women who did go to the elite Ivy League schools from this position, if, for no other reason, than going to elite Ivy League schools is one of the ways, as a minority, and certainly as a black woman, that you protect yourself from the baseless attacks that we know conservatives are going to make about their intelligence and their credentials, right?

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: So, like Brown Jackson is going to do better on a test then you, Mr. Hawley, or you, Mr. Kennedy, or you, Mr. Graham.

And so, like, it`s important for her to be able to kind of represent that through the kind of elite educational institution.

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: So I don`t kind of -- I don`t take points away from her just because she went to Harvard and Harvard College.

REID: Yes, absolutely.

And she was -- and Wicker too. Wicker tried to throw some shade at her, but she would do better on a test than you too, man.

Let`s switch...

MYSTAL: She`s going to out-test Marsha Blackburn, right? Like, this is not a close thing.

REID: Easy. Easily. Like when she was half-asleep, she would be able to do that.

Let`s talk Trump for a minute. Let`s make a little bit of a turn here. This shocked me today. I saw your Twitter. And so I know it shocked you too.

Two of the prosecutors that are leading the New York Trump Organization inquiry resigned. Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz submitted their resignations after two Manhattan district attorney -- after Manhattan district attorney, the new one, Alvin Bragg, indicated to them that he had doubts about moving forward with the case against Trump.

Without Mr. Bragg`s commitment to move forward, the prosecutors late last month postponed a plan to question at least one witness before the grand jury. They have not questioned any witnesses in front of the grand jury for more than a month.

Shocking to me. Shocking to you? What do you think?


MYSTAL: This stinks.

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: Alvin Bragg needs to answer some questions soon, right?

And there are two important questions that he needs to answer, I believe, for this decision. One, Dunne and Pomerantz, the two prosecutors who quit, are very respected prosecutors within New York legal circles. So why did they think they had a case that they could pursue against -- to the grand jury, but Bragg didn`t? What -- he can`t just say like, oh, we didn`t have a case.

No, because two of your prosecutors thought you did.

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: So you got to explain to me why you have this, let`s say, call it a minority position, compared to the other people in your office, about the culpability of one Mr. Donald Trump.

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: Number two question he has to answer, he -- as "The Times" reported, they haven`t really interviewed people for a month. He`s only been on the job for two months.

So what did he know before he was elected about this case that made him want to back off of that case? And why didn`t he not bring that up during the election? Because, I don`t know, New Yorkers might have wanted to know his thoughts on the Trump prosecution that he clearly premade before he got into office, or else he wouldn`t be able to shut the investigation down, if that`s what`s happened, so quickly.

So I`m going to reserve some judgment. But Mr. Bragg has some questions to answer about this decision.

REID: I have a third question. I`m not a lawyer.

But how could Michael Cohen have testified under oath that Donald Trump levered the value of his properties, depending on whether he wanted to get a loan or skate on his taxes, and how did he go to jail for signing a document, right, to give money to Donald Trump -- the person Donald Trump was having an affair with, but -- that`s a crime.

But when he literally gave them documents, allegedly -- I`m sure he`s talked to those prosecutors and gave them evidence that he did what Cohen said he did. And you all are not going to prosecute that?

If you or I did that, Elie, I bet you Bragg would prosecute us. That`s all I`m going to say. I need to know more.


REID: Elie Mystal, thank you very much.

MYSTAL: How was Michael Cohen the only person to get burnt up behind this?

REID: How? Make it make sense.

MYSTAL: Like, how is that possible?

REID: Make it make sense. He was working for Donald Trump.

Anyway, don`t move. We got more.

Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is straight ahead, with a hilariously misguided attempt to kick-start the apparently nonexistent Republican agenda. Kick, kick, kick.

We`re after -- we`re back after this.



REID: With Republicans just clamoring to regain control of Congress this fall, they have been unwilling to explain what their agenda would actually even be.


QUESTION: If Republicans take back control of Congress after the midterms, what would be your agenda?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): That is a very good question. And I will let you know when we take it back.


REID: Well, this comes as no surprise, because the Republican Party has no real positive agenda for the American people.

Their 2020 platform could have been written on a cocktail napkin. It was the word Trump. They`re literally nothing more than the party of the twice- impeached, disgraced Florida retiree, which is why we saw more than a dozen Republican congressional candidates flock down to Mar-a-Lago today to kiss the ring of their dear leader`s stubby little finger.

But despite Mitch McConnell saying, don`t say nothing, if you still want to know what direction the ban books party wants to take this country, Florida Senator Rick Scott, who leads the Republican election effort to take over the Senate, is giving us all a sneak peek.

Scott released what he calls his "11-Point Plan to Rescue America," which is a mix of conservative red meat, culture war detritus, and weird manifesto stuff that really kind of sounds like a bad B movie.

His leading pillar is that: "Our kids will say the Pledge of Allegiance, salute the flag, learn that America is a great country. We will inspire patriotism and stop teaching the revisionist history of the radical left."

Now, I assume, by revisionist history, he means teaching the accurate history of our country, even the parts that might make white students feel uncomfortable.

In another section, Scott claims they will "starve Washington`s economy and stop socialism and reduce the government work force by 25 percent in five years."

Now he`s talking about creating massive unemployment, because 25 percent of the government work force would mean laying off within half-a-million people. And while he`s doing that, he`s indicated that he and his comrades will be raising taxes on millions and millions of Americans, including those living in poverty.

He writes: "All Americans should pay some income tax and have some skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently, over half of Americans pay no income tax."

Wait, hold on a second. Didn`t Mitt Romney say something like that before he lost to President Obama? Forty-seven percent, anybody?

Then, Florida`s Dollar Store Voldemort proceeded to try to deny what`s written in his own plan.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Chucky Schumer saying that you -- your plan is to raise taxes on more than half of Americans.

I didn`t see that in your plan. Did you have that in your plan? Was it in invisible ink in the copy that I got? Because I don`t see that.

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): Of course not. Oh, no. Oh, no.


REID: Chucky?

And then his manifesto gets even weirder. He adds that: "All federal legislation sunsets in five years. If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again."

So, wait, Congress would have to repass Social Security, Medicare and the Civil Rights Act again every five years? OK, Rick, what happens if somebody commits say, let`s say, massive fraud against Medicare, and then Medicare expires under your plan? Tricksy, tricksy, Ricksy.

And for those who say Congress would never let those things expire, I note the Violence Against Women Act, which expired three years ago. Scott`s plan even adds a touch of Taliban. In an attack on the transgender community, he declares that: "Men are men, women are women, and unborn babies are babies. We believe in science."

And no Republican agenda would be complete without paying dues to orange Julius Caesar. It not only calls for finishing the wall on the Southern border, but also naming it after Trump. And, of course, there is a section devoted entirely to our elections that says: "Ballots can only be submitted at a polling location by a voter or the post office. No ballots that show up after Election Day shall be counted ever."

So, wait, does that mean that the thousands of American service members or diplomats working overseas, what, should their votes just not count, Rick?

The fact that the Republican leadership decided to leave a void where an agenda should go, only to have a troll like Rick Scott fill it with a laundry list of Republican grievances, that is tonight`s "Absolute Worst."

And that is also tonight`s REIDOUT.