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Transcript: The ReidOut, 4/13/22

Guests: Stuart Stevens, Nydia Velazquez, Julia Davis, Igor Novikov, Evgenia Kara-Murza


Frank James, the man suspected of carrying out a shooting in New York City`s subway, is arrested. President Biden authorizes an additional $800 million in aid to Ukraine. Russia`s changing battle plan is explored. The campaign of Georgia senatorial candidate Herschel Walker is examined. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez discusses the New York City subway shooting.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: There are a few tickets left not many. So I wanted to tell everyone who`s nearby, you can join us. There will also be a way to watch it streaming online.

And if you don`t remember the link, on THE BEAT Twitter account, which is just @THEBEATWITHARI, we will leave that link pinned, up there for a few days, if you want to join me and Clive.

And a happy birthday to him as well.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We have got a lot to get to tonight, including the arrest of Frank James, the man suspected of carrying out yesterday`s shooting spree on a Brooklyn subway. The 30-hour manhunt reportedly came to an end after James himself called the police tip line.

The motive for yesterday`s carnage is still unclear, though we are learning about videos James apparently posted online ranting about race and violence. We will have much more on that coming up.

But we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the war in Ukraine, where we are trying to untangle yet another day of Russian disinformation. Today, Russian forces claimed that they had taken control of the southeastern port city of Mariupol, claims that were rejected by U.S. defense officials, the deputy mayor of Mariupol, and an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Mariupol is a key target for Russia, as it seeks to establish a land route to the Crimean Peninsula. Local officials report that Russian forces have murdered nearly 22,000 people in Mariupol, which included the bombing of a maternity hospital and a bomb shelter packed with families.

Just yesterday, President Biden assured reporters that he meant what he said when he called Putin`s war a genocide.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be a Ukrainian.


REID: This morning, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe released a report with evidence documenting acts considered to be war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The report catalogues evidence of direct targeting of civilians, attacks on medical facilities, rape, executions, looting and forced deportation of civilians to Russia.

Today, just hours after President Zelenskyy outlined the long list of weapons he wants from the West, President Biden authorized an additional $800 million in weapons, ammunition, armored personnel carriers, an unmanned naval vessel, and 11 helicopters.

Since taking office, President Biden has committed $2.4 billion in military aid to Ukraine, and that his -- by the way, his predecessor had threatened to withhold in order to blackmail Zelenskyy in order to make up dirt on Biden.

This comes after Russia`s sociopathic dictator made a rare public appearance yesterday, dismissing the claims of war atrocities as fake. He added that Russia`s military operation would continue until -- quote -- "its full completion," whatever that means.

Putin`s appetite for destruction is also being felt at home. On Monday, Vladimir Kara-Murza, a prominent member of the Russian political opposition, who happens to also be a friend of this show and a frequent guest on this network, was sentenced to 15 days in jail on charges of -- quote -- "disobeying police orders."

Hours before Kara-Murza was detained in Moscow, he appeared on CNN, where he described the Kremlin as a regime of murderers. Then, on Sunday, he spoke to my friend and colleague Ali Velshi about the importance of vocal dissent in Russia.


VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN: I can just tell you, on a personal level, not a single day goes by without somebody approaching me on the street, shaking my hand here in Moscow, sometimes asking to take a picture of me and saying, thank you for what you`re doing.

And these are only the people who are not afraid to do that. So there are many, many people in Russia who oppose this criminal aggression by Putin on Ukraine just as much as people in the free world do. And that is an important message to remember.


REID: His arrest should come as no surprise, because this is how Putin stifles dissent. He locks up people who call out his false narratives.

Last month, Alexey Navalny, another outspoken Putin critic and rival political leader, was slapped with an additional nine years in prison after being found guilty on new trumped-up charges. Meanwhile, three Americans remain in Russian prisons on questionable charges, Trevor Reed, basketball star Brittney Griner, and Paul Whelan.

Joining me now is Evgenia Kara-Murza -- I mean -- yes, Evgenia Kara-Murza, Vladimir Kara-Murza`s wife.

And I hope I pronounced your name correctly. Thank you so much for being here, Mrs. Kara-Murza.

EVGENIA KARA-MURZA, WIFE OF VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA: Thank you very much, Joy, for having me here, for giving me this opportunity to speak out on behalf of Vladimir, who has been speaking out fiercely on behalf of so many oppressed Russians over the years.

And I`m...


REID: He is incredibly brave.

KARA-MURZA: Well, he is. He truly is...

REID: I wanted to...

KARA-MURZA: Sometimes, it`s hard to live with. But...


KARA-MURZA: But I do respect and admire him tremendously. And I do hope that he will be on your show sooner, rather than later, again by himself, and not me speaking on his behalf.



REID: Well, we`re glad to have you.

And I just wanted to really quickly ask you, have you a -- been offered -- had an opportunity to speak with your husband? And do you know if he is OK?


KARA-MURZA: I did speak to him this morning.

And he told me -- he told me not to lose faith. He said that we would prevail. Despite all odds, we would prevail, even if the road to freedom will be so much more dangerous and, oh, my God, so much bloodier than we could ever have imagined.

But the fact is -- the fact is that Mr. Putin did not become a murderous dictator overnight. He has been oppressing, throwing in prison and poisoning and killing his opponents for years and years and years.

Vladimir has been fiercely advocating for targeted sanctions against murderers and thieves in the Putin regime since 2010. And his friend, his close friend and colleague Boris Nemtsov, who was working with him on the sanctions -- on the introduction of the sanctions, paid the ultimate price for this advocacy, because he was killed, shot down in front of the Kremlin in 2015.

Vlad himself paid a very high price for the same advocacy. He was poisoned twice in 2015 and 2017, and had to relearn how to walk and use a spoon twice. And now the Russian regime decided that it`s time to try to lock him up, because he`s so efficient outside and because, no matter what they do, he keeps coming back and he keeps coming back.

And he continues his work no matter what. After the first poisoning, he only started to walk again. He took his stick, and he walked back to Moscow. And they, I think, realized that he`s going to do it again and again.

But the fact is, also, that Vladimir is not alone in this fight. According to Russia`s memorial human rights group that was shut down by the Russian government in late December of last year, there are currently 442 people in Russia that are serving unlawful sentences for their political views or religious beliefs.

And that number is growing consistently on a daily basis. Over 15,000 people have been arrested all across Russia since the beginning of the war. They -- these are the people who went out to protest in the streets against the war, despite all the restrictive measures and laws that have been introduced every day.

There is a law nowadays in Russia under which you can get up to 15 years in prison for just calling this war a war or for disseminating, as the Russian government calls it, fake news, which is, in fact, objective, true information about Putin`s army`s atrocities in Ukraine.

And so I think that people sometimes ask me about those opinion polls, according to which, apparently, about 83, 85 percent of Russians support the war. And I tell them, would you really trust opinion polls conducted in a totalitarian regime?

And this is what Mr. Putin turned our country into, into a totalitarian regime, where there is no free speech whatsoever, where people get arrested for holding a blank sheet of paper in the middle of the street, or where an orthodox priest gets arrested for speaking against the war in his Sunday sermon.

And so these people, these 15,000 people give me hope, because, no matter what, they go out and protest. They have to say no to this war, and they do it.

REID: Yes.

Let me ask you this question, because when your husband mentioned -- the last time that he was on our show, and mentioned that he was going back, I was nervous. I asked him, why do you go back?

And he said: Because I`m a Russian politician. This is my home and this is where I need to be.

But the history is -- as you said, it is very dark. Boris Nemtsov, as you said, the friend, your husband`s friend, was murdered. He was a -- really could have changed Russia, had he been allowed to actually run in a legitimate election. Alexey Navalny jailed for now nine years. Your husband, as you mentioned, has been poisoned twice.

In your view, is there a significant Russian opposition that is real and that is outside of Moscow? Is there enough of an opposition that can see what`s happening in Ukraine, is horrified enough by what`s happening in Ukraine, that there`s a chance that opposition could take hold against Putin?

Is that even something -- is that a dream, or is that possible?

KARA-MURZA: I think that we -- we need to believe in this.


And we hear these voices from everywhere. We hear these voices of opposition from everywhere. And I think that we need to believe in this. And we need to have hope, have faith in these people, because, well, they`re -- Russia is a big country.

And Mr. Putin managed to install, to establish an iron curtain over Russia, around Russia in just a little over one month. The last opposition -- not opposition, but the last independent media outlets were shut down at the beginning of the war.

Russian citizens have no access to objective information. The younger population can install those VPN services. And even that is not always accessible, because you need to use Apple Pay for that to install and pay for the VPN service. And Apple Pay is now banned in Russia. It doesn`t work there.

So -- but people will find a way. And there is a growing disconnect -- well, it`s not -- it`s -- I believe there is a growing frustration among Russians everywhere. Many Russians had to leave Russia because of the events.

REID: Right.

KARA-MURZA: Because they were afraid for their lives, because they were afraid for their families, and because maybe they believed that speaking out against the war would be safer from a safe distance.

Not everyone has to be -- has to behave like Vladimir or Alexey Navalny, because not every -- well, Vladimir believes that a Russian politician needs to be in Russia, and he goes back.

REID: Yes.

KARA-MURZA: But many people, ordinary people, small business owners who want to raise their kids in a free country and who want the best for their kids...

REID: Yes.

KARA-MURZA: ... they`re not politicians. They don`t want to join any political struggles, any political fights.

But they`re still prepared to speak out or to help. And they have been helping.

REID: Yes.

KARA-MURZA: I know so many Russians who have been helping refugees in the Baltic states, in Poland, in Germany.

REID: Yes.

KARA-MURZA: They have been involved in helping refugees.

REID: Yes.

KARA-MURZA: And they feel shame. And they`re terrified and horrified by what`s happening in Ukraine, truly are.

REID: Yes.

KARA-MURZA: And I don`t have one acquaintance who is supporting this war.

REID: Right.

KARA-MURZA: And I have -- I know a lot of people.

REID: Yes.

KARA-MURZA: Not one of them supports this war.

So, that gives me hope.

REID: Yes. Well, you...

KARA-MURZA: And I -- since I`m a Russian, I -- yes, I don`t support the war. My husband doesn`t support the war.

REID: Yes.

KARA-MURZA: And I don`t know one person who supports it.

So, it means that, yes, there is hope for Russia.

REID: Indeed.

KARA-MURZA: The only thing is -- and it`s a big concern -- Mr. Putin is not destroying one country right now.

He`s destroying two countries...

REID: He`s destroying two.

KARA-MURZA: ... at the same time.

REID: You`re absolutely right.

KARA-MURZA: Because when Vladimir Putin is finally in jail with his clique with his close circle, when they`re finally rotting in jail somewhere far away, Russia will be left in ruins.

REID: Yes. Yes. I...

KARA-MURZA: It`s going to be -- it`s going to be a sad place.

And people like my husband will be rebuilding it from scratch.

REID: Yes.

KARA-MURZA: And I want to -- and I know that he`s been talking to Western leaders to make them see that there is -- there are so many Russians who want a free Russia, who want to bring change to our country, who wants to live in a democracy, and who are -- who will be willing to rebuild, to do this dirty job of rebuilding a country from scratch in the middle of this desert.

REID: Yes. Yes.

KARA-MURZA: And so -- and I hope, I hope that it happens sooner, rather than later.

REID: Well, Evgenia Kara-Murza, we hope so too. And you are giving us hope.

Thank you very much for speaking with us. And when you speak with Vladimir, please let him know that all of us here at THE REIDOUT send him our best.

KARA-MURZA: Thank you very much.

REID: We appreciate and really respect what he`s doing. Cheers.

KARA-MURZA: Thank you very much.

REID: And up next on THE REIDOUT -- thank you.

And up next on THE REIDOUT: Russia`s changing battle plan, the new general brought out -- brought in following Putin`s really poor military strategy, which led to the savagery we`re seeing now.

Plus: The man accused of opening fire on a Brooklyn subway train is now in police custody. We will have the latest on that investigation.

Also, football legend Herschel Walker would be way out of his league in the United States Senate. He`s not even showing up for debates. But Walker is just the latest example of how the Republican Party is pushing, how do I say this delicately, anti-intellectual candidates.

And Tucker Carlson could be the "Absolute Worst" on almost any day of the week, but he loses out tonight to one of his guests, but Tuckums sure did seem to enjoy the very racist discussion.


THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: Vladimir Putin continues to try to gaslight the world into thinking he`s doing something noble by invading Ukraine. Here`s how we justified it yesterday:


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This neo-Nazism has unfortunately become a fact of life in a country quite -- which is so close to us. These are obvious things. It was inevitable.

It was just a matter of time. And what we are doing, helping people, saving them on the one hand, and, on the other hand, we are taking measures to secure -- to guarantee security for Russia itself. It`s obvious that we didn`t have another choice.


REID: With me now is Igor Novikov, former adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and Julia Davis, columnist for The Daily Beast.


Julia, I have to go right to you on this.

That is some gaslighting for the ages. Who is that -- who is -- what audience is that for? Because he must know that nobody outside of the Kremlin and I guess the Russian countryside believes him.

JULIA DAVIS, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, Joy, exactly, which is -- he`s continuing to try so hard to justify this war, because it`s impossible to justify it.

His propagandists on state television are arguing that there`s too much truth, too much freedom -- too much freedom of speech. They are arguing there needs to be more censorship, exactly so that messages like this one could resonate, for lack of better messaging.

And he`s appealing to people who are nostalgic for the former Soviet Union. There is increasing talk on state television about the return of the Soviet Union, the return of that patriotic spirit. And that`s what he`s trying to revive by claiming, against all common sense, against all reason, that he`s doing something good and noble.

REID: Yes, I`m sure the whole world is waiting for the return of the Soviet Union, something to look forward to.

Igor, on the other side of it, I actually think it was refreshing for President Biden to just go out -- go ahead and say, this was genocide. It`s one of those Biden things. He will just go ahead and say a thing. And then people go, oh, wait, maybe you should have said that. And he`s like, no, I meant it this time.

He didn`t say it was a gaffe. He said, no, I meant it when I said it. It is genocide. President Zelenskyy`s response to that, said: "True words of a true leader. Calling things by their names is essential to stand up to evil. We`re grateful for U.S. assistance provided so far. We urgently need more heavy weapons to prevent further Russian atrocities."

In your mind, does naming the thing make a difference? Does it change anything?


And, look, I have been saying a lot of times that President Zelenskyy is a human being amongst politicians. And what you`re seeing, those snippets from President Biden, even though he`s within the system that`s more kind of conventional, those are the little snippets of a human being inside the politician.

And that`s incredibly refreshing. And that means that the story does have a happy ending. So, look, I applaud him for saying that. I applaud him for saying the President Putin was a war criminal before it became an official position of the U.S. government.

So, look, he -- we need those human beings to carry us through the turbulence. President Biden is like that.

REID: No, I agree with that. And I think that sort of regular guy-ness of Joe Biden is why Donald Trump feared him so much as -- as an opponent, an issue that also involved President Zelenskyy.

And, Julia, so this capture of this man -- his name is Medvedchuk, Viktor Medvedchuk. He is considered the Butcher of Syria, the Butcher of Aleppo. Or, no, actually, this is a different one. This is the leader of a pro- Russian opposition party in Ukraine who is extremely close to Putin. He`s godfather to -- Putin is his godfather to his daughter.

Some experts have speculated that, if Putin had planned to install a puppet leader after toppling Ukraine`s government, he would be the -- he would be on the short list.

His capture, you talked about what they`re saying about his capture. What are they saying in Russia about his capture?

DAVIS: This is a big -- a big one. This is the big fish. And that`s exactly why Medvedchuk ran off from his house arrest, of which he was charged with treason, and attempted to escape Ukraine, knowing that he would be safer in Russia under Putin, his close ally and the godfather to his daughter.

So the Russian state media are furious about this capture. They actually said that seeing images of Medvedchuk, who`s simply disheveled, but they claim that he`s showing signs of severe torture. And they compared those images to Saddam Hussein, of all people.

They`re kind of dismayed, because they don`t know what Putin will want to do about it, whether he will take President Zelenskyy`s offer to exchange Medvedchuk for Ukrainian men and women that are held in Russia in captivity. So they`re kind of confused. They don`t know whether he would do it or not.

So they were trying to play it both ways, one, to say that they don`t have cronyism of that kind of, where they would exchange Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian citizen, for other Ukrainians. On the other hand, they were saying, of course, they might do it because it`s important, and if it`s in the interest of Russia, then it might happen.

So they were completely infuriated. This is a great capture for the Ukrainians, and it`ll be fascinating to see what comes from it.

REID: Yes.

And, Igor, I guess that would be the question is whether or not, knowing Zelenskyy, President Zelenskyy, as you do, what might be the value in the end of someone like this? Because it appears that Russia is mass-deporting Ukrainians into Russia to sort of steal them.


That is genocide. It`s sort of the textbook definition of it, if trying to sort of remake them into sort of forcible Russians. What do you think that this young president might do with an asset like that in hand?

NOVIKOV: Well, I mean, we`re the country of laws. It depends on what the legal status of Medvedchuk is. I mean, we have to abide by the law. That`s why we`re different from Russia.

But at the same time, look, if he is to be exchanged, I would only applaud it. But the thing is, I think Mr. Medvedchuk actually wins a lot more by staying in Ukraine as a prisoner in Ukraine, because one of the reasons Russia is losing this war this badly is because Medvedchuk`s failed, corrupt attempts to refocus Ukrainian society to be pro-Russian is the reason we saw the beginning of this war as this war of orchestras, parades and crematoria.

So, now they kind of -- they`re realizing that Putin actually fell victim to his own propaganda and his own corruption. So, his propaganda created this echo chamber around him, and he genuinely believed Ukrainians will greet them with flowers.

And the corruption that, actually, ironically saved Ukraine meant that the money allocated to this war machine and the propaganda machine to prepare Ukraine to be easily occupied was stolen. That gave Ukraine a chance. That was one of the reasons.

By the way, if I may, quickly...

REID: Sure.

NOVIKOV: ... I saw that snippet of President Putin commenting.

There are two observations I can`t help but share. First of all, when he`s saying about denazification of Ukraine, the guy standing next to him called Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos, their space agency, is actually an ultra- nationalist and borderline neo-Nazi. So that`s one issue.

The second thing, Putin is saying that this war was inevitable. And he`s right, because Russia has fallen behind in everything, in technology, in its economy, in its reliance on fossil fuels, in its space industry. So they only have two options, either to fade to obscurity or to realize their imperial ambitions by attacking somebody. And they chose the latter.

REID: Well-made observations.

Igor Novikov, Julia Davis, thank you both very much.

And still ahead: suspect in custody. Authorities have arrested the man they believe was responsible for yesterday`s attack on a New York City subway. We will bring you the latest on the arrest and the ongoing investigation next.



REID: The suspect in Tuesdays` subway shooting in Brooklyn is now in police custody. Frank James was arrested this afternoon in Manhattan, ending a 30-hour manhunt that followed the shooting, which left 10 people injured.

Just before the announcement, New York`s WNBC released video appearing to show him entering the subway on Tuesday morning prior to the attack. James was taken into custody following a Crime Stoppers tip, which police sources believe James called in himself.

He is now charged with a federal offense of a violent act on a mass transit system and will appear in court tomorrow. Officials said his motive remains unclear, but -- and had no indication of -- yet of why James targeted the particular subway stop in Brooklyn`s Sunset Park neighborhood.

But in now deleted YouTube videos, James had discussed violence, talking about death and a race war and the desire to exterminate certain groups of people.

New York`s Asian American Federation called Tuesday`s shooting "trauma visited on a neighborhood that in so many ways is a wonderful microcosm of what makes New York City great," noting that it`s home to Brooklyn`s Chinatown, as well as a large Hispanic population, a multiracial working- class neighborhood.

And joining me now is Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez of New York, who represents the district where the shooting took place.

Thank you so much, Representative Velazquez. I appreciate you being here.

Being -- having lived in New York and being born in Brooklyn, I am sensitive to this idea that there was a time in New York when walking around as a black person, in certain areas, you just felt afraid, whether it was a police or other people in neighborhoods. You`re talking about that era when that -- when those kinds of things happened in places like Howard Beach, et cetera.

But now Asian Americans are feeling particularly vulnerable. And this community, it`s called little -- it`s called Brooklyn`s Chinatown. It`s 34.8 percent Asian. It`s 35.6 percent Hispanic. Can you talk to me a little bit about that, how that is resonating, this fear that Asian Americans have already had, and now hearing that this person had lots of angry thoughts about Hispanics on his page, how folks are feeling in your district?


Thank you, Joy, first and foremost, for having me and discussing an issue that is so important to New York and New Yorkers, but particularly immigrant communities.

Immigrants have been dealing with the emotional toll of the pandemic. They were impacted more than any other groups and the (AUDIO GAP) consequences of the pandemic, also, prior to that, the immigration rhetoric that was coming out of the previous administration.

And so, from being a Chinese virus, to people getting knocked down just for being Asian Americans. And now, right there, in the middle of Sunset Park, in the heart of a heavily immigrant community, to have this experience, reliving so much and so much pain that they have been encountering for so long, it`s just too much to bear for the Asian American community and for the Latino community in Sunset Park.


REID: Well, and just look -- well, looking at those -- that video, I mean, it`s a very multiracial group of people who ran off of that train in this area, given who lives there.

It is notable. My youngest child sent me -- my youngest son sent me a TikTok the other night, last night, that really highlighted just how many Asian Americans were on that train running. I can`t imagine, after having already dealt with the fear of being on the subway because of the attacks on Asian Americans, now this happens. It`s very compounding.

And I wonder what you make of this prospect of putting more police on the subway trains? There were no officers there. I understand the cameras weren`t working properly. There`s a lot of issues there. But the idea of putting more police in places like this that are mainly immigrant and communities of color, what do you make of that idea?

VELAZQUEZ: Well, Joy, I think we need to approach the issue of gun violence in our cities and across the country.

And we have seen an increase of violence in those communities. But, also, we have to understand we have to deal with this in a holistic manner. It`s just not guns and the need for Congress to pass stronger gun legislation. But it`s a safety issue. It`s a housing issue. It`s homelessness.

So, all of that combination, just to have police presence is not enough to tackle the issue of violence in our communities, our cities, and across the country.

REID: And I -- so I take it you would not be in favor if the Supreme Court -- I mean, what would happen if the Supreme Court were to basically throw out New York`s gun laws? What would be the result?

VELAZQUEZ: Well, again, I think that we need to use the best resources that we have. And that is to have -- working with the police department, or we need to involve stakeholders, community-based organizations that have a history and a record in tackling the issues of gun violence.

In my district, in Williamsburg, I have an organization, Los Sures, who are violence disrupters. And they have been quite successful.

In fact, when President Biden and Mayor Adams held an event in New York City, I was there. And I told them that we needed to get more people involved, to bring more stakeholders to deal with the issue of gun violence in our communities.

REID: Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, thank you very much. Really appreciate you being here this evening.

VELAZQUEZ: Thank you.


REID: And up next -- cheers. Thank you.

And up next: Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker becomes the living embodiment of conservative anti-intellectualism.

I mean, come on, folks. Don`t you want your elected leaders to know a little something about something?

We will be right back.




MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Tell us what changed in the last 14 months, since Warnock won that seat.

HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: You know, what has changed is, where do you start?

Where do you start at what has changed is, we have got an administration that is -- that they`re not leaders. They`re almost -- they`re waiting to - - they`re more reactive, rather than proactive. And what I mean by that is, one of the first thing they did -- and I think people need to know this -- is they decided that they were going to give up our energy.

By him going out giving up our energy, and now we`re not energy-independent anymore, which started the whole downfall, right?


REID: I mean, hell if I know. I mean, I truly for the life of me could not tell you what Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker is talking about here.

Our country has certainly not given up our energy. An answer like that is probably why Walker skipped last weekend`s primary debate, because he has no idea what he`s doing. And, of course, there`s all the skeletons in his closet, including multiple allegations of violence against women, some of which he`s admitted, he`s accountable for.

Then there`s the lying about being in the top 1 percent of his college class, despite never graduating, and the latest, claiming to own companies that technically, well, don`t even exist.

But the thing is, in today`s Republican Party, it is not hurting him at all. He was endorsed by Donald Trump, of course, because he`s famous and willing to parrot the big lie, and he`s leading by more than 50 points, 5- 0, in Republican primary polls, though it does remain to be seen if his debate no-show changed any voters` minds.

Walker is part of a larger anti-intellectual trend in the Republican Party. There`s compulsive liar, Hitler`s bunker enthusiast, and insurrectionist youth pastor Madison Cawthorn, who also skipped a recent debate, and gender czar Marsha Blackburn, who declared that Tennesseans want a wall on their southern border, despite Tennessee`s southern border touching Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi none of whom, like Mexico, are likely to pay for it.


There`s football coach Tommy Tuberville, who doesn`t know what World War II was fought about. And when politicians don`t actually have a low I.Q. they just simply act like it, which is Foghorn Leghorn Senator John Kennedy`s entire shtick.

I`m joined now by Stuart Stevens, chief strategist of Mitt Romney`s 2012, campaign and senior adviser at The Lincoln Project.

And I`m going to mention Mitt Romney for a minute. There was a time when the idea of Republicanism was a kind of almost sort of elite, sort of urbane sort of idea, right? It was the William F. Buckley. That was sort of what a Republican was when I was growing up.

That -- he would not make it in the Republican Party today. And the people like the guy who pretends he`s Foghorn Leghorn, even though he`s a Rhodes Scholar, like, that`s the party now.

I don`t think that`s because of Trump alone. Do you?

STUART STEVENS, FORMER ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: No, I think, look, since World War II, there`s been these two trends in the Republican Party.

Call one an Eisenhower wing, sane, governing, and the other a Joe McCarthy wing, conspiratorial, not concerned with governing, xenophobic, often racist. A lot of us thought that the Eisenhower wing, call it, was a dominant gene. I think we were proven wrong.

I think that the party is what the party wants to be. And it`s a very strong anti-intellectual party, which, I mean, you used to say that we`re the party of ideas, which may have been more self-flattering than true, but at least you aspired to be that. Now, there`s not even any pretense of that.

REID: Yes, I mean, Mitt Romney just -- he sticks out so much in that party now.

I mean, yes, he did the 47 percent thing, which was bad and tacky and got him -- made him lose -- helped them lose the election. But at least he -- you can tell that he still has a soul, like his father`s spirit is still in him somewhere. He still has -- like, there`s certain things he just won`t do. He won`t degrade himself to a certain point.

But I feel like -- look, let`s go to Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell, who is from the old wing of the party, right, he`s a little Dixiecrat here and there. He is like, the black president can`t have a Supreme Court justice. I`m going to do what I got to do to get my 6-3 court. But he sort of still styles himself as a regular order, sort of old-time Republican.

He is servile to Donald Trump. He says, if Trump runs, he`s going to support him. He says, oh, we don`t want to any out-there candidates. But according to "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," he`s on the list. He`s one of the people advising, talking to Herschel Walker about policy.

Lindsey Graham, Newt Gingrich, Mitch McConnell -- Newt Gingrich, who I think is the person mainly responsible for this switch -- Ted Cruz, Joni Ernst, Donald Trump, that`s who`s talking to him. Mitch McConnell is on that list. So he`s just basically lying, right, when he says he doesn`t want these out-there candidates.

He just wants famous names that people will vote for.

STEVENS: Yes, look, I think Mitch McConnell represents everything that`s wrong with the American political system.

He`s somebody who basically admitted in that interview with Jonathan Swan that he has no red line, nothing -- nothing can trigger him to do what is right. It is all about power. I mean, here`s somebody who went to bed the night of November 5, 2021, majority leader, woke up November -- the next day, he was minority leader, running -- colleagues running for their life in his office, and he still supports Donald Trump.

It`s just about power. That`s it. There is no there, there.

REID: And what would you advise those of us who -- because I felt like the media didn`t take Trump seriously. Even I at first was like, that`s a joke. Nobody -- no sane person would ever like that idiot to be president. And then, boom, he`s president because he`s famous.

And so we have this debate even on our team. Do we talk about people like Herschel Walker or Marjorie Greene or Madison Cawthorn? Do we just ignore them? Because I worry that -- put aside the ones who are not famous -- who are less famous, but someone like Herschel Walker is a celebrity. I used to watch him play football growing up, and used to admire him.

That fame, to me, is dangerous, makes him dangerous. Do we ignore him, in your view, or do we deal with him?

STEVENS: No, I think you have to deal with it.

I was with you. I mean, a lot of people were wrong about Donald Trump in 2016. But it`s hard to find anybody who was more wrong than me. I didn`t think he`d win the primary or the general.

What I think is really important here Joy is that there are these buffoonish characters out there. And so now Herschel Walker joins them. But the overall autocratic tendency in the Republican Party is not buffoonish.

REID: That`s right.

STEVENS: And there are very serious people who have proven they will put power in front of anything. And they are backing these people. And we have to take it seriously.

REID: And I -- my theory of the case is that these people, you`re talking about the Koch brothers types, the people who are thinking, who are planning, they prefer people like this. They prefer Tommy Tubervilles and Herschel Walkers, because they just feed them the policy.

And they just say, do this. They just hand them a piece of paper, say, vote for this, this, this, and this, things that make them richer, that make them more powerful, that cut their regulations. These people aren`t going to raise any objection, because they don`t even know what to object to.


Do you think that my theory is at least somewhat sound?

STEVENS: I think it`s somewhat sound.

You have Herschel Walker, who`s meeting with a bunch of U.S. senators to remind him of his deeply held beliefs. There`s just not -- this is not what public office should be about. It should be about governing.

And there`s always been a dark side to office, but it`s just taken over the Republican Party now, where there is no reason it exists, except to beat Democrats. And that`s not really how a democracy can function.

REID: And also -- and I agree with you. And I`m somebody who believes that politics is important.

And just simply holding office just to be there and to be a channel for someone else`s greed, I think is morally offensive. And I would rather a boring politician with principles and has things to say than a celebrity who`s literally just a placeholder for the super rich. But that is just my rant. Won`t put that on you.

Stuart Stevens, thank you very much, sir. Really appreciate you.

STEVENS: Thank you.

REID: And don`t go anywhere, because the "Absolute Worst" is back, baby.

It`s been a while, but if anyone ever truly deserves a title, it`s these peeps. Don`t miss it.



REID: I, for one, love clarity, like when Tuckums was just out and admits he`s not vaccinated. Great to know, and stay away from me.

Also, is he allowed in the FOX News building in Rockefeller Center, because they have really strict vax rules?

I also love it when daddy and junior Murdoch`s most ardent and open white nationalist leans into his brand, like the other night when he had on his rural fishing village Internet show an unchastened, unvarnished white supremacist named Amy Wax -- sorry, Professor Amy Wax, neurologist who holds a tenured faculty position at one of the supposedly woke liberal Ivy League universities, the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Amy, let her rip.


AMY WAX, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA LAW SCHOOL: I think there is just a tremendous amount of resentment and shame of non-Western peoples against Western peoples for Western people`s outsized achievements and contributions.

I mean, it`s really unbearable. I was actually -- leaving aside American blacks, who I think do feel that resentment and shame and envy, I mean, it`s this unholy brew of sentiments.


REID: Yes, yes, Amy, we American blacks are just so envious of your Frederick Douglass, your jazz and blues, the foundations of rock `n` roll, properly seasoned food, peanut butter, the traffic light, the gas mask, the first open heart surgery, cultural cool, the civil rights movement that actually delivered real democracy to this country, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Black Panther, Thurgood, Ketanji, Kamala, Obama.

Oh, wait, those are our things. Stop playing.

Oh, Amy. Amy, I hate to break it to you, dear, but most of us actually love being black. We are incredibly proud of the achievements we have wrung out of this country, despite two centuries of horror visited upon us by people like -- well, like the same people who didn`t include people like you -- I do believe your origins are Eastern European refugees -- in their originalism either, let alone women.

We are proud to have made this country better. What we are mad about is people like you and Tuckums still denouncing us as unworthy heathens who don`t deserve to be here, like when you said in 2017 in an interview -- quote -- "I don`t think I have ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the class and rarely, rarely in the top half," leading some of the black students who had finished near and -- or at the top of your class to say, "Excuse me?" and the dean of Penn Law School to ban you from teaching core curriculum classes.

But, wait, there`s more. Amy didn`t let the AAPI folks get away either.


WAX: So take the Brahmin women who come from India, and they climb the ladder, they get the best education, we give them every opportunity, and they turn around and lead the charge on, we`re racist, we`re an awful country, we need reform, our medical system needs reform.

Well, here`s the problem. They`re taught that they are better than everybody else because they are Brahmin elites. And yet, on some level, their country is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Excuse my language.



REID: Yes, just no achievements out of the Eastern world at all, other than mathematics, Hinduism, Buddhism, chess, philosophy, and, again, spices in food. You should try it.

Amy is not exactly new to this.

In that 2019 "New Yorker" article, writer Isaac Chotiner called her "the academic who perhaps best represents the ideology of the Trump administration`s immigration restrictionists," known mainly in recent years for her belief in the superiority of Anglo-Protestant culture and for promoting -- quote -- "cultural-distance nationalism, or the belief that we are better off if our country is dominated numerically, demographically, politically, at least in fact, if not formally, by people from the First World, from the West, than by people from countries that had failed to advance."

And for "taking the position that our country will be better off with more whites and fewer non-whites," a position that the Penn Law dean called "repugnant to the core values and institutional practices of both the law school and the university."

Oh, here`s the latest hand-wringing statement from the university, where they say that they won`t make any statements.

Well, thanks, guys.

And yet, like Tucker, she is still around and still the "Absolute Worst."

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.