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Transcript: The ReidOut, 3/31/22

Guests: Chris Witherspoon, Jamil Jaffer, Eric Swalwell, William Taylor


Vladimir Putin signs a decree drafting more than 134,000 new conscripts into the Russian army. The January 6 Committee receives testimony from Jared Kushner. Senator Lindsey Graham announces he will not support Ketanji Brown Jackson`s Supreme Court nomination. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences begins what it calls disciplinary proceedings against Will Smith over the Oscar slap.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And I mentioned earlier in the show that it was tonight. I just got to be clear, you should watch "THE REIDOUT" tonight, but the interview is formally tomorrow.

If I misspeak, I will correct it. And I will be watching tonight and tomorrow night "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID," which starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone.

We begin THE REIDOUT tonight five full weeks into Putin`s horrific war in Ukraine that`s targeting civilians, killing 148 children so far, according to Ukraine`s Defense Ministry.

And we just learned that one person died and four were injured when Russian militants shot at a column of volunteers near Chernihiv today who were trying to help civilians evacuate. This war is not going well for Putin. His soldiers are sabotaging their own equipment, according to the U.K. spy chief.

And a U.S. official told NBC that: "We have information that indicate that some Russian government senior officials likely disagreed with Putin`s decision to invade Ukraine. Their disillusionment is probably amplified by the Russian military`s underperformance."

The Kremlin is on defensive, denying reports that Putin is being told false information about how poorly it`s going because people are too scared to tell them the truth. Meanwhile, Putin signed a decree today drafting more than 134,000 new conscripts into the Russian army. They`re being told that they are not being sent into Ukraine.

But it`s important to note that Putin also denied that conscripts had been sent in earlier in the war, and that turned out to be a lie. In fact, the use of conscripts may be why the invasion went so poorly in the first place. They tend to be younger, less motivated, and poorly trained.

The Ukrainian government announced today that they`re regaining territory, liberating two villages in the Chernihiv region, and claiming that Russian equipment is currently being moved away from Kyiv, and that Ukraine is recapturing villages there.

Yesterday, my colleague Richard Engel visited an abandoned Russian camp on the outskirts of Kharkiv.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: This was a Russian camp. And you can see they had all of their weapons here, dug-out positions, and they were bombed. There`s still some bodies in this area, and they left a lot of their equipment behind after what appears to have been a devastating attack on their position.

There`s nothing left.


REID: While the area might be back -- excuse me -- in Ukrainian control, what civilians have gone through is harrowing.


ENGEL: Eighty-eight-year-old Proscovia was sitting by herself, disoriented and frightened.

"I`m so afraid, my whole body is shaking. At night, I cover myself in a blanket and I shake," she says. Mostly, she wanted comfort.

Proscovia says she lived through World War II and doesn`t have the strength to go through it all again.


REID: And it`s certainly far from over.

Kharkiv is under constant attack, with Ukraine saying Russia fired 47 strikes last night alone, and that Russia is refusing to allow humanitarian corridors there. Humanitarian corridors did open up today in Mariupol, which has been relentlessly besieged by the Russians.

President Zelenskyy said today that thousands of civilians have died there. NBC News is unable to verify that number. Just under 1,500 people were able to evacuate the region today through three corridors, but Russian soldiers seized 14 tons of humanitarian aid, including food and medicine.

This is all a part of Russia`s focus on the eastern part of the country, where Ukrainian officials say Russia is considering sending their own officials to preside over occupied territory. Russia claimed to take over another territory in Donetsk today of the Ukrainian government -- where the head of the Ukrainian government says they`re using white phosphorus munitions.

This is a claim that NBC News has no way of verifying. White phosphorus is not banned by international law, but if the weapon is used to target civilians, it can represent a violation of the laws of war. The Kremlin has said that they haven`t violated any international conventions.

The capital, Kyiv, meanwhile, even as Russia struggles to advance on the ground, they have still been striking Kyiv. And the NATO secretary-general said today that Russian forces are not withdrawing. They are just regrouping.

Here`s what President Biden had to say on that today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s an open question whether he`s actually pulling back and going to say, I`m just going to focus on the Donbass and I`m not worried about the rest of the country.

I`m a skeptic. It appears, so far, that he has not pulled all of his -- the idea he`s pulling all those troops out from around Kyiv and moving south, there`s no evidence he`s done that.


REID: Joining me now from Lviv is Ali Velshi, MSNBC correspondent and the host of "VELSHI."

And, Ali, my friend it is so hard to sort of understand what the narrative is here, because the narratives all appear to be sort of all at the same time. Russia is failing in its military objective.



REID: But they`re killing and slaughtering a lot of people and destroying lots of territory.

They`re either pulling back or they`re just stalling in order to go in harder. Is it possible from where you are to get a sense of which of these things is true, or are all of them true?

VELSHI: Yes, or is it confusion, or is it deliberate disinformation?

It`s very, very hard to tell. And what you were hearing and showing, what you just described, is the sort of conflicting types of intelligence that we`re getting, right? They`re -- British intelligence suggesting that some of these conscripts, these Russian soldiers are sort of protesting. They`re sabotaging themselves.

The idea that they were pulling away from Kyiv and neighboring areas in order to build trust during those negotiations, well, we have evidence that didn`t happen. There was shelling that was continuing to occur in those places. This idea that they want to focus back on the Donbass in the eastern region of the country, and that the focus on Kyiv and other places was just meant to be a distraction, it becomes impossible to tell what the truth actually is here.

And, as you said, we can`t confirm all of those things. But you can see Richard Engel`s actual reporting, we have seen reporting from our colleagues at Sky News that shows the actual destruction of residences, apartment buildings and things like that.

And it sort of plays out even here in Lviv, which was thought of as a very peaceful place, which seems like a very peaceful place during the day. Right now, obviously, we`re under curfew, so nobody can move around.

But even people here, who came here for safety, have been saying things like there`s no safe place in Ukraine. So,at this point, it becomes very, very unclear as to what is actually going on. The important thing -- and it`s a message that`s coming from the U.S. government, but it does seem to bear out on the ground here -- is that the morale of the Ukrainian soldiers, with the assistance of the weaponry and training that they`re getting from the West, is seeming to hold them together.

Now, they have warned several times that they`re running out of stuff. Yesterday, that conversation with President Zelenskyy and President Bush, which lasted an hour, did result in $500 million more being sent to Ukraine.

But that money, interestingly enough, is to run their government. They -- this is not a rich country. This is the poorest country in Europe, and they are struggling to run their country and conduct this defense against Russia.

So it`s unclear. I think the only thing we`re clear on is, one way or the other, this is not going the way the Russians thought it was going to go, because we had had reports of 72 hours or 96 hours before they take the whole place. It`s not clear whether Vladimir Putin understood that not to be true, or he thinks he`s been duped by his own people.

But something`s not working for the Russians. And that is about as much as we can be clear on.

REID: Yes, mother Russia has been fooled before by the same sort of scenario. It`s almost as if they thought, well, Afghanistan, the capital of Afghanistan fail quickly. We`re just going to do that.

And now they have sort of built themselves another Afghanistan, the way the Soviet Union had it, a mess.


REID: Ali Velshi, stay safe. Thank you, my friend. Really appreciate you.

And joining me now is former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, who`s the vice president of Russia and Europe for the U.S. Institute of Peace, and Jamil Jaffer, executive director of the National Security Institute at George Mason University and former chief counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

And thank you both for being here.

And, Ambassador Taylor, I guess we will start with you first.

Can you make sense of this, because it seems that Russia is doubling down, but doubling down on failure. If their troops are stealing food and medicine and supplies that are supposed to be helping refugees, that tells me that they`re not properly supplied with food and medicine, because they have to steal it.

And they`re bombing places that are now essentially empty of people and where people are running away, where there`s -- it`s not a military fight? Can you make sense of what it is that Russia at this point -- what are their goals?

WILLIAM TAYLOR, ACTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: So, Joy, it`s the right question. What are their goals?

President Putin, at the outset, I think you have indicated, thought that he could go right down the river and get to the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, in three days. And that clearly didn`t -- and here we are, Joy, on, what, day 36, and he`s run into -- his military has run into severe problems, not just with their own problems, not just the fuel and food that you talked about.

They ran into a very motivated Ukrainian military.

REID: Yes.

TAYLOR: The Ukrainian military has stopped that advance, and not only stopped it, Joy. They`re pushing them back. The Ukrainian military is pushing back the Russians out of places that they were.

So I have a good friend, Joy, and I just got word from him for the first time in a week. He had been -- he had actually been a civilian, then in the territorial defense forces, and then into the regular military. And when he went into there, he was deployed right into the front, took his phone away, because he might have been captured. He was vulnerable to be captured.

So, they didn`t want him to have his phone. And, today, he got back his phone because they have done so well, pushed the Russians back. His unit has gone in its alert level, which is a good sign. It corroborates what you were saying.


That says that the Ukrainians are doing extremely well.

REID: And, Jamil Jaffer, welcome to the show. Thank you for being here.

I mean, we`re hearing reports that the Russians have given back control of Chernobyl, which means they weren`t capable really of even operating that and operating the power systems. And they couldn`t do it. They`re giving it back to the control of Ukraine.

It does appear that their military, if it`s full of conscripts who are low- motivated, who are complaining on radio transcripts that are getting -- that are getting picked up, or at least the information war that Ukraine is -- seems to be winning, in which they`re depicting Russian troops as unmotivated, unskilled and unprepared.

What do you make of the situation?

JAMIL JAFFER, FORMER SENIOR COUNSEL, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: You know, you`re right, Joy, that it`s really been an amazing thing the Ukrainians have done in terms of the information war.

They have owned that battle space in a way that you couldn`t have even imagined, and particularly given the success the Russians had in the 2016 elections and the like.

The Ukrainians have dominated that space, demonstrating the horrific impact the Russians are having on the civilian population, at the same time demonstrating the unwillingness of the Russian soldiers to do certain things, and hero heroism of the Ukrainian civilians, who are standing up in front of tanks.

The scenes that we saw in China during the Tiananmen Square, we`re seeing over and over again. And the Ukrainian media is putting out there, and the Western media`s picking it up. They are really dominating the information battle piece in a way that I think nobody expect they would, even more so than they have on the battlefield itself.

Those two things combined have really taken it out on the Russians. I think it`s giving them a real challenge both back at home, but also in the popular media here.

REID: You know, and I guess, then, question is, Ambassador Taylor, then how do you get Putin to walk back?

You have had -- Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been incredibly successful, as Jamil Jaffer just said, in the -- his information war. He is very skilled at communications. But he`s still having to berate countries like Belgium, to say, stop doing diamond business with Russia.

He`s still dealing with people like the Koch brothers here in this country who are willing to still do a crude oil business with Russia. He`s still having to play Whac-A-Mole with people who still want to play ball.

Meanwhile, Putin is like demanding that you pay for oil in rubles, trying to build up his economy. Is there a way to get Putin to stand down if he`s getting nothing, there`s no face-saving move for him here, he`s just losing and making destruction?

TAYLOR: He is losing and destroying the country, at least the parts that he`s after, which -- interesting, Joy, the parts he is really destroying are in the east, are next to Russia. These are Russian-speaking people.

REID: Right.

TAYLOR: And they`re all Ukrainians, and they are united against him.

But they`re Russian-speaking. These are the people he thought would be there to welcome him. So, he`s counterproductive on that. And you ask the right question. What gets him to sit down at the negotiating table? And I think the answer is when he understands, when he realizes, when he`s made to understand that he`s losing on the battlefield, that he`s not winning, that his troops are not doing well, that his troops are being pushed back, like we just said.

When he understands that he`s not going to gain on the battlefield what he was after, then he may look for some way to salvage something. And there are a couple of things that the Ukrainians have already talked about, that President Putin could say, I got the Ukrainians not to be in NATO.

He -- there are some things he could do there -- in the negotiating table. But he has to first understand he`s not winning on the battlefield.

REID: Yes.

And, Jamil Jaffer, there is new news, NBC News reporting that these missiles are coming. So, 24 -- since the invasion began, 24 U.S. cargo planes have unloaded hundreds of anti-aircraft Stingers, these missiles that we talked about. They can go higher. They can actually take down aircraft; 4-600 Javelin anti-tank missiles have also gone to Ukraine, per the White House.

If Putin won`t stand down, it appears that we now go into the long insurgency phase, and an insurgency that`s going to be fought in part in cities. We remember that and how that went for us in Iraq. If this becomes a long-term insurgency, then how do you end it?

JAFFER: Well, that`s exactly the hard part of this, Joy.

Part of the reason that Vladimir Putin is in right now is that we didn`t effectively -- effectively deter him from going in. If we delivered these weapons well ahead of this, we might have effectively kept him out of the country.

Unfortunately, we are now where we are. And I keep -- fear the ambassador is exactly right. Putin doesn`t see a way out. And he`s going to triple down on his attacks on civilians, on his attack on civilian infrastructures, schools, theaters, hospitals, the like.

And in a long-term insurgency, that is worse for the Ukrainian people. You look at what happened in Afghanistan. We fought a tough war there.

REID: Yes.

JAFFER: But it was very destructive for the people of Afghanistan. And this is not a good thing. It`s not good for the United States. It`s not good for our allies. It`s not good to have a war going on in the middle of Europe that lasts a long time.

You know, would that we could have deterred it. Now we have got to figure out, how do we push Putin out and get him -- get him out as quickly as possible? And, unfortunately, he still believes the allies don`t have the wherewithal to get in and really push him out. And so he may be willing to double down and push even harder. That`s the concerning thing for me.


REID: Unfortunately right. I mean, he`s still in Syria. Look what he`s doing there and continuing to do. It is not -- it`s a conundrum. We will leave it at that.

Up next on THE REIDOUT -- thank you both, gentlemen very much, Jamil Jaffer, Ambassador William Taylor.

And up next on THE REIDOUT: Jared Kushner was not at the White House on January 6, but he does know many of the key players in the effort to overturn the election, including, of course, his father-in-law, the former president. So what might Kushner have told the January 6 Select Committee today?

Plus, Lindsey Graham has a long list of grievances about Democrats, and now he`s taking it out on the supremely qualified Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

And it`s team Smith vs. team Rock. It seems like everybody`s picking a side in the ugly incident at the Oscars, this as the Academy begins what it calls disciplinary proceedings against Will Smith, while not being super clear about their own part in the drama.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: Today, Jared Kushner met virtually with the House Select Committee Investigating the January 6 Attack on the Capitol.

Chairman Bennie Thompson told reporters that the committee has no evidence that Trump`s son-in-law was involved in the planning of the events of January 6, and has not sought to obtain his e-mail or phone records, but that he`s of interest because of the role he played as a senior adviser in the administration.

Princess Ivanka, daddy`s favorite enabler, did attend the rally at the ellipse and famously called the violent insurrectionists patriots. She later deleted that tweet.

According to reports, the prince and princess of nepotism hosted a fancy dinner for administration officials at their house nearly 24 hours after their daddy`s supporters tried to tear down American democracy.

Since Trump`s failed reelection bid, the two have bent over backwards to try to rehabilitate their reputations. It should be noted that, while the right is having a collective freak-out about what a private citizen, Hunter Biden, did when his father was no longer vice president, Jared and Ivanka made $640 million while they were working at the White House.

Meanwhile, according to Democratic Congressman Pete Aguilar, a member of the January 6 Committee, the panel is working to fill the nearly eight hour gap in the White House phone logs. Chairman Thompson confirmed to reporters that the panel is considering issuing a subpoena for Trump`s personal phone records.

The House Rules Committee will meet Monday to decide if they will recommend that the House find Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino in contempt of Congress for their refusal to comply with subpoenas.

Joining me now, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner and Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, a former impeachment manager and a member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

Thank you both for being here.

Congressman, I`m going to start with you. It is heartening to hear that the committee is at least considering going after Donald Trump`s phone records, because I think that seven-and-a-half-hour gap, not since Nixon has there been a greater scandal. This is far greater than the 18-minute gap.

Do you believe that the committee and that your fellow Democrats and two Republicans will have the gumption to go ahead and issue that subpoena?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): I hope so, because this guy operates like a mob boss. And he knows what to say, what not to say, and on what type of forums to say it.

We learned that from Michael Cohen. We learned that from so many others that he doesn`t write e-mails, he doesn`t send text messages. He will never directly tell you what to do.

REID: Right.

SWALWELL: He will just kind of wink and nod, so that he knows how to work around it.

REID: Yes.

SWALWELL: And so that seven-hour gap is so glaring. So, either something was deleted, or he intentionally moved off to use his own personal cell phone to make calls.

And so, yes, I hope they explore it, because I bet you there`s a trove of information there.

REID: Yes. And I`m assuming, Glenn, you, as a prosecutor, would love -- that`s something you would need, right?

I mean, you`re trying to piece together what the former president was doing on January 6, and there`s a seven-and-a-half-hour gap, you need that. To subpoena those phone records, how difficult is that to do? How much time does it take? And would they need to involve the Justice Department?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, you do need it. You want it you want to complete record, Joy.

But, frankly, the absence of that seven or eight hours of phone calls is as important and perhaps even more incriminating than the phone calls themselves. Now, that remains to be seen, because we have to first subpoena the call detail records. We have to figure out what phones Donald Trump was using.

Frankly, I think, when you look at the testimony of somebody like Jared Kushner or his daughter, Ivanka, they might have some information about whether their father actually knew what the term burner phone meant. So, I mean, I think there`s a lot to be unraveled here.

But, frankly, we have all heard, if the crime don`t get you, the cover-up will. And I think this seven- or eight-hour gap is going to do so much more harm to Donald Trump and his associates than if they had just produced the cause in the first place.

REID: Yes. Well...

SWALWELL: Joy, can I just add that...

REID: Yes, please.

SWALWELL: ... time is not on our side?

REID: Yes.

SWALWELL: Because, as Glenn knows, these cell phone record companies, they don`t keep the cell phones -- the cell phone records forever.

REID: Yes.

SWALWELL: Many of them, it`s nine, 12, maybe 18 months. And so we have to move now, because they could be destroyed just in the ordinary course of business.

REID: And we also know that Donald Trump flushed paper records down the toilet and ate them. So, I mean, we know that he was not one that actually keeps records.

We also know, Glenn, that he did know what a burner phone, per his former national security adviser, John Bolton. There was a previous lawsuit in which he actually used the term burner phone, at least on his side. So he does know what a burner phone is. So some of that is silly.

Let`s talk -- you mentioned Jared Kushner. What might he be able to produce? Given that he was not there on January 6 physically, what might they want to pull from him?


KIRSCHNER: Well, he undoubtedly had conversations with his father-in-law.

And the good news is, there is no father-in-law/son-in-law of privilege, just like there is no daddy/daughter privilege. So, when and if Ivanka is compelled to testify or chooses to testify voluntarily, there will be no applicable privileges, other than the Fifth Amendment right against self- incrimination, in the event either Ivanka or Jared`s truthful testimony would incriminate them, make it seem like they committed a crime.

But he undoubtedly had conversations with his father-in-law before, during and after the insurrection, even if he wasn`t present on January 6. And, sometimes, we play the telephone game when we`re prosecuting, when we`re investigating crimes. I want to know what Ivanka told Jared about her interactions with her father, because all of that tends to build a record.

And then we can get the overall picture before we go to the ultimate target and confront them with all of the evidence that we have obtained.

REID: Yes.

And -- but coming to you for a second, Congressman, this news that the -- that was in "Washington Post" -- CNN has done some reporting on it too -- that the Justice Department actually is expanding its probe a little bit to get closer and closer to the central players, I know some of your fellow Democrats have been very critical.

Congresswoman Luria and others have said, do your job, DOJ. Do you feel better about what you`re hearing?


And these investigations take time. White-collar investigations are usually three to four years, on average. But you see that both the committee, the January 6 Committee, they are starting to move up the chain.

REID: Yes.

SWALWELL: Jared Kushner is the highest-ranking official that`s been brought in so far.

And it also looks like, if they`re expanding the number of prosecutors on the criminal side and also asking grand jury, witnesses about people higher-up, that they are expanding what they`re looking at.

REID: Yes.

SWALWELL: Look, most of this was committed in plain sight.

REID: Yes.

SWALWELL: But it does look like they want to have some other evidence to supplement what the president`s already said.

REID: Two more quick questions for you. I`m going to stay with you for a second, Congressman.

There was this pretty blockbuster ruling by a federal judge about this Florida restrictive voting law, in which he talked about our democracy being under siege and the right to vote being under siege.

Are Democrats concerned that, if something like this gets appealed, it winds up in the Supreme Court, where those six justices can just now rule, because this is involving Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, that it winds up killing the Voting Rights Act altogether?

SWALWELL: That`s right.

And I would feel much more comfortable if it wasn`t a 50/50 Senate, where Senator Sinema and Manchin would both vote to reform the filibuster, and then vote to put in place -- put back in place the Voting Rights Act.

REID: Yes. Yes.

SWALWELL: Because this is just -- the dashboard is flashing all over the country with different states where you`re seeing voting rights abuses.

REID: Yes.

SWALWELL: But these judges at the district court level, they can`t do much if the Supreme Court is just going to overturn it.

REID: Yes.

Let me let the two of -- you guys are kind of a buddy act. I don`t know if people realize that you guys are kind of a buddy act.

There`s a law, I believe, that is now on the books, because of you, Glenn.

Do you want to describe this law and tell us what Glenn Kirschner had to do with it?

SWALWELL: I will give all credit to Glenn...

REID: Yes.

SWALWELL: ... because he was a federal prosecutor who`s worked on a lot of homicide cases in the district, in D.C.

He told me about the angst that so many families have because of the number of cold cases, 3,000 in D.C. And so he pitched to me the idea of having a homicide victims bill of rights that would allow a family after three years...

REID: Yes.

SWALWELL: ... to have their case, their cold case reopened.

It passed with over 400 Democratic and Republican votes in the House this week. It`s headed to the Senate. And we hope that families will get some measure of closure pretty soon.

REID: Have you heard from any senators? And do you think that this is -- has got a chance of becoming law, Glenn, as you inspired it?

KIRSCHNER: Yes, well, listen, I give all of the thanks to Representative Swalwell for hearing me out on this.

I have all kinds of schemes and ideas, but he was willing to take it up because of his commitment to addressing violent crime. And, Joy, we have more than 250,000 open unsolved homicide cases in our nation. And that is horrific.

REID: Yes.

KIRSCHNER: These families sit by a phone hoping that a call will come from a detective, saying, we have a break in your loved one`s case.

REID: Yes.

KIRSCHNER: And those calls never come.

And most of them are a product of gun violence.

REID: Yes.

KIRSCHNER: And Representative Swalwell took the ball. He ran with it.

And there is now some hope that will come to these families who wait for closure in their loved ones` homicide case. So, I couldn`t be more thrilled that this is going to become the law of the land.

REID: I never get to report -- I almost never get to do good news on this show, so I had to get that in. And the audience can decide who plays the two of you in the buddy picture. Hollywood, get on it.


REID: Glenn Kirschner, Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you both very much. Appreciate you both.

Still ahead: More Republican senators now say they will oppose Ketanji Brown Jackson`s nomination to the Supreme Court, despite the fact that she is ridiculously well-qualified and some of them have voted to confirm her in the past, like literally within the past year.

Back in a sec.




SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Her record is overwhelming in its lack of a steady judicial philosophy and a tendency to achieve outcomes in spite of what the law requires or common sense would dictate.


After a thorough review of Judge Jackson`s record and information gained at the hearing from an evasive witness, I now know why Judge Jackson was the favorite of the radical left. And I will vote no.


REID: Whatever, Lindsey.

If you watched the Supreme Court nomination hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, you`re probably not surprised that Senator Lindsey Graham, who snarled and barked through the entire four-day proceeding, announced today that he -- ooh, surprise -- not vote to confirm her.

Graham spoke on the Senate floor for over 20 minutes today, rattling off his list of grievances, including Judge Jackson`s work as a public defender, and the way Democrats treated Republican nominees, which, of course, isn`t relevant.

But just nine months ago, Graham and two other Republican senators actually voted to confirm Judge Jackson for the position that she holds right now on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

At the time, CNN reported that Graham told reporters -- quote -- "I think she`s qualified. I think I try to be somewhat consistent here. I think she`s qualified for the job. She has a different philosophy than I do."

So what changed in nine months, Lindsey? Of course, when it comes to consistency and Supreme Court nominations, Lindsey Graham magnificently fails. You remember what he said in 2016, when Republicans refused to even meet with, let alone hold confirmation hearings for President Obama`s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, who Judge Jackson ultimately replaced on the federal bench?


GRAHAM: I don`t want you to use my words against me. If there`s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say, Lindsey Graham said, let`s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination, and you could use my words against me, and you would be absolutely right.


REID: But then, like magic, good old Lindsey was front and center in the effort to jam through Trump`s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, just 38 days before the 2020 election.


GRAHAM: I said, after Kavanaugh, the rules have changed for me. The whole game has changed.

Well, when it comes to Republican nominees -- excuse me -- for the court, they get slaughtered. You got Bork. You got Thomas. You have Alito. You have Kavanaugh. And I`m tired of this crap.

But here`s the one thing I think every Republican believes, including me. If the shoe were on the other foot, they would do this in a New York minute.


REID: Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst and former Senator Claire McCaskill.

Oh, Claire. Oh, Claire, my friend.


REID: Explain Lindsey. You had to deal with this guy. He is such a rank hypocrite. He literally just voted for this woman nine months ago to sit on the D.C. Circuit.

She replaced Merrick Garland. He literally just voted for her. Is this just a matter of him performatively wanting to beat up on a black woman because he thinks that makes him more popular in South Carolina? What do you think is going on inside Lindsey Graham`s head here?

MCCASKILL: Lindsey Graham suffers from a very serious disease. It`s called: I want to be the center of attention and I want everybody to like me that`s in the political base of the current leader of the Republican Party, AKA the guy at Mar-a-Lago.

You said it in the intro to this segment, Joy. Merrick Garland is all we have to talk about. If you want to talk about the road to making Supreme Court nominees 100 percent political, that was Mitch McConnell, with the assistance of the Republican Caucus, that did that.

And Lindsey got a lot of restorative juice from what he did around the Kavanaugh hearings. All of a sudden, Lindsey was the hero to Donald Trump. Donald Trump wanted to golf with him every weekend after Lindsey did what he did in that hearing.

So he`s not going to let go of the Kavanaugh hearings. That made him a superstar among the rabid right. And the last thing I want to say about this, because it really irritates me, you understand that this justice, while sitting on the court, had two cases in front of her that were highly politically charged.

If she was what Lindsey Graham says, she would have ruled against the people trying to get Hillary Clinton`s e-mails from the State Department, and she would have ruled...

REID: Yes.

MCCASKILL: ... with the people who were trying to stop the wall.

Instead, she did just the opposite. She said, you`re entitled to the e- mails. And she said there`s nothing in this lawsuit that stops the wall.

REID: Yes.

MCCASKILL: So this is not a political judge. And Lindsey Graham knows it.

REID: And the thing that`s so infuriating about it is that it feels like just because he`s mad and in his feelings about Kavanaugh, who nobody -- it`s not anybody else`s fault but his that he was accused of what he was alleged to have done in high school. Nobody did that to him. He did that. He was the person who did that. That`s nobody`s fault but his.

And because he`s in his feelings, he wants to put an asterisk on this justice that she barely got through. And it looks like -- do you anticipate anybody but Susan Collins? Because there`s literally a dozen Republicans who have voted for her before. Do you think she will get more than one or two Republican votes?


MCCASKILL: The change in the election laws in Alaska are really interesting. Maybe some night, we will have a segment to talk about that ,because Lisa Murkowski is not -- she is going to need some votes from the Democratic Party. And it will not surprise me -- she voted for this incredibly qualified woman a year ago.

It`s not going to surprise me if we get two, both Lisa and Susan.

REID: Yes.

And, lastly, just before -- I think -- are we out of time? I might have a minute of time.

Game out for us the situation the Democrats are facing right now. There is a whole debate over who they should be trying to appeal to, because these numbers don`t look good for them on enthusiasm among Democrats. But the reason people are unenthusiastic appear to be things that should be good for Democrats.

They`re, yes, upset about the cost of living, but also don`t want to lose the right to abortion. Where would you fall in terms of where Democrats should be focusing for these midterms?

MCCASKILL: I think that everybody should put all hands on deck to do something about inflation. If we get inflation down, we have got an incredible message.

And the other thing we should keep talking about is, if they want to keep you from voting, doesn`t it make you want to vote? I mean, that is a powerful psychological tool. Everybody knows what the Republicans are doing.

REID: Yes.

MCCASKILL: They want marginalized people, they want people who have -- are transient, who haven`t lived in the same place for a long time, they want students, they want black and brown people, they want to keep them from voting.

We have got to make sure that we keep that front and center, because, if somebody tells you can`t vote, guess what it makes you want to do?

REID: Yes. Yes.


REID: And do you think -- I mean, do you get the sense -- because I have talked to people who have said that the best thing going for the Democrats right now, are the Looney Tunes that Republicans are deciding to nominate.

I mean, this poor gentleman in Georgia, every time he opens his mouth, you just cringe. Oh, my God, he was a great football player, but, oh, my God. You just -- they`re nominating so many cringeworthy people, because they`re trying to, as you said, appeal to the one retired guy in Florida, people he would like.

Do you think that Republicans are maybe undercutting what could, in theory, be advantages for them, at least in the Senate -- on the Senate side?

MCCASKILL: I -- yes, I think so.

And, like, you look at Missouri, I mean, leading all the polls is the former governor who taped up his mistress to gym equipment, ripped her T- shirt, and spit water in her mouth, and threatened to take pictures of her. I mean, that -- and that was the facts as found by a Republican committee. So, I mean -- and he`s leading the polls.

REID: Yes.

MCCASKILL: So, you never know.

If they nominate all these really flawed candidates, I think we`re in business.

REID: And it`s funny that they`re doing it at the behest of Donald Trump, because they can`t say no to him, and they`re shooting themselves in the foot and making their party just look QAnon-crazy.

Former Senator Claire McCaskill, thank you very much. Always fun talking with you.

MCCASKILL: Thank you.

REID: And up next -- cheers.

Still more questions and answers about what is happening in the wake of a slap heard around the world. We will bring you the latest developments.

Stay with us.



REID: Four days after the slap that rocked Hollywood, we are getting a firsthand account from the producer in charge of Sunday`s Academy Awards broadcast.

In an interview tonight, producer Will Packer said, after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock, the LAPD spoke with him and Chris Rock in his office.


WILL PACKER, OSCARS PRODUCER: They were saying this is battery was the word they use in that moment. They said: "We will go get him. We are prepared. We`re prepared to get him right now. You can press charges. We can arrest him. You have" -- they were laying out the options.

The LAPD officers finish laying out what his options were. And they said: "Would you like us to take any action?" And he said no. He said no.


REID: Packer told ABC he did not speak with Will Smith at all that night, adding another layer to the drama behind the fallout from the slap.

In a statement Wednesday, the Academy claimed that Smith was asked to leave the ceremony, and refused. But, today, several reports disputed that account, sources telling "Variety," TMZ and Deadline that Smith was never formally asked to leave and that Packer played a role in keeping Smith at the ceremony.

For his part, Chris Rock made his first public appearance last night in Boston in front of a sold-out crowd. But he didn`t say much. He`s still processing the slap, he said.

The incident also highlights another ugly moment at the Oscars that did not get the same scrutiny. In 1973, activist Sacheen Littlefeather represented Marlon Brando, who won best actor for "The Godfather," but declined to accept the award, and had Littlefeather represent him instead.

And here`s what happened when she took the stage.


SACHEEN LITTLEFEATHER, ACTRESS: The reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry.

Excuse me.




REID: In 2016, Littlefeather told Canada`s "Globe and Mail" that, during her presentation: "John Wayne," the actor, "was waiting backstage to take me off. He had to be restrained by six security men."

And joining me now, entertainment journalist Chris Witherspoon, founder and CEO of PopViewers and my friend.

Chris, I wanted to play that 1973 clip, because it points out two things, first of all, that there have been dramatic moments during acceptance speeches before. This wasn`t the first time, although this was unprecedented, clearly, somebody being struck, but that there`s security in there.

There were six security guards available to hold John Wayne back in 1973. But in the case of Will Smith, everybody just watched him walk to the stage. So it`s hard for me to listen to the Academy blame everyone but themselves.

Your thoughts?

CHRIS WITHERSPOON, FOUNDER & CEO, POPVIEWERS: And, Joy, thank you for bringing those receipts, those legendary receipts from back in the day. It`s amazing.

But it really does feel like I`m watching an episode of "Blue`s Clues." You`re looking for a clue.

So much misinformation out there.

REID: Yes.


WITHERSPOON: The Academy yesterday saying what they said about Will Smith being asked to leave the ceremony.

But now we`re hearing from Deadline and "Variety" that Will Smith was not asked at the ceremony, that a representative from him possibly was talked to about him leaving, batted around the idea, but that Will wanted to stay and make this right if he were to win and go to the stage and apologize.

REID: Right.

And, see, that`s the other piece too, because when people have been repeating this all day, including on some news networks, they just keep repeating he was asked to leave and refused, when there`s so much reporting disputing that, and they`re not adding the piece that, as you said, the reports are saying that the reason he wanted to stay, because he wanted to apologize, he wanted to make it right. And that`s what he did.

Talk about this other thing too, because Wanda Sykes, to me, is the other evidence that what the Academy initially said isn`t true, because she berated the Academy for letting him stay. She did an interview on -- a full-face interview, she was one of the co-hosts, and said Chris Rock apologized to her for what happened, but that she said they didn`t have him leave.

So she seemed to be putting it on the Academy as well.

WITHERSPOON: Yes, and it really does feel, like based on what Wanda Sykes is saying and others, that we need to hear like an actual press conference, a full-blown press conference, a la like any of the crimes that we see happen, like major crimes, where we hear from the president, David Rubin, and Dawn Hudson.

It is time for us to be able to ask questions. And when we piece together a timeline of what happened in those 30 minutes -- it was only 30 minutes. The slap happened. Then 30 minutes happened, a few commercial breaks.

REID: Yes.

WITHERSPOON: But we need to find out, I think, more facts, because this is this man`s career.

Well, it`s both of their careers. But I think Will Smith right now, his head is on the chopping block. And he really is, to so many people, a treasure, a national treasure. Our greatest export in this country are our stars. And Will Smith is one of them.

REID: Yes.

And, by the way, the five people who`ve had -- who`ve been expelled from the Academy -- it`s one of the things that`s potentially on the table -- four of the five were involved in some sort of sexual deviancy, Harvey Weinstein, Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby. There was a cinematographer named Adam Kimmel.

There was one person, actor, who was expelled for non-sexual offenses, for selling copies of screeners.

Talk to me really quickly about this other thing that`s happened, because there has been sort of a -- there`s been like a war going on, not just on black Twitter, where people are either team Will or they`re team Chris, but also a lot of attacks on Jada Pinkett as well.

WITHERSPOON: Well, I think that, for so many people, Jada, a couple of years ago with the "Red Table Talk" coming out talking about their marriage, whatever you to call it, the entanglement, if it were, that Jada in many ways has been the person to get Will hyped up and riled up and put him in awkward positions.

At the end of the day, they are dynamic power couple. And I`m curious to see what they discuss at the "Red Table Talk." It`s going to be so important that they get that out ASAP.

REID: Yes.

WITHERSPOON: But I also want to note that -- wanted to say that I think Will Smith should be able to keep his Oscar. You mentioned all those folks that were expelled from the Academy.

No one yet in the history of the Oscars has had that award taken back.

REID: That`s right.

WITHERSPOON: And Will Smith is someone who truly has -- he`s shattered so many glass ceilings, Joy. Before he was 30 years old, he made $1.5 billion in ticket sales at movies. No one`s done that before.

So I think that Will Smith, beyond the Oscar, without an Oscar, he`s still is a huge, huge box office draw. And I hope that we get to the bottom of this and he gets to have, I think, his story told...

REID: Yes.

WITHERSPOON: ... and whatever -- whatever actually happened, get out there.

REID: And without the misogynoir against Jada.

And, lastly, Chris Rock is actually kind of winning here too, because he -- whatever his next big Netflix special is going to be -- like, it`s going to sell millions and millions and millions of dollars. He`s going to get -- right? I mean, he`s benefiting in some ways.

WITHERSPOON: He`s getting all the coins right now, Joy.

He`s -- his concert tour is happening right now in Boston. Tickets were selling initially for $49. Rumor has it right now that between $800 and on the -- like, on the Web $8,000, folks are buying tickets to go see his concerts.

So, if he`s smart, he probably has a camera crew that`s filming what he`s doing right now...

REID: Yes.

WITHERSPOON: ... to be a part of a special that he can then package and sell to Netflix or Hulu or whomever the highest bidder is, because this is...


REID: You know, you can`t buy the kind of publicity -- you know who you want to be right now? Chris Rock`s agent.


REID: Chris Witherspoon, my favorite Chris, Chris Witherspoon, thank you very much. I appreciate you.

And, by the way, tomorrow is going to be a very big day. I`m going to tell you all about it next.

We will be right back.



REID: OK, before we go, I wanted to tell you about something really, really exciting that`s happening tomorrow on THE REIDOUT.

Vice President Kamala Harris will be my guest for an exclusive and wide- ranging interview. There is a lot going on in the world right now.

Vladimir Putin`s army continues its terror campaign against Ukrainian civilians, while, here in the U.S., the Republican Party is preparing a midterm campaign to terrify Americans into thinking their kids are being taught Critical Race Theory in kindergarten and that transgender Americans are somehow a threat to them or their kids or their favorite children`s sporting events.

By the way, today is International Transgender Day of Visibility, so sending lots of love to my transgender peeps, especially the kids. You are seen and loved. Never doubt it.

And there is the Senate, where Kamala Harris`s former colleagues on the right are doing the most, finding ever more creative ways to slime the reputation of one of the most qualified Supreme Court nominees ever, Ketanji Brown Jackson, who will be the first black woman on the Supreme Court.

So, there is a lot to discuss with our first black woman V.P.

But I also want to know what you think, so tweet me your ideas and what you want to know @JoyAnnReid. Spell it right, R-E-I-D.

And then tune in tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. I will be traveling to Greenville, Mississippi with the vice president for the interview. It will be fascinating. You don`t want to miss it.

And that is the REIDOUT for now.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.