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Transcript: The ReidOut, 4/15/22

Guests: Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon, Tom Nichols, Beto O`Rourke

Summary

New details emerge exposing the extent of Republican lawmakers` efforts to overturn the election. After suffering embarrassing military losses, Russia warns of unpredictable consequences if the U.S. continues to arm Ukraine. Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O`Rourke discusses his campaign. Elon Musk tries to take control of Twitter.

Transcript

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I`m not going to have you to bully me, because you can`t.

[19:00:01]

But what I would love to do, for you to take the time to come down to Georgia, we sit down and break bread, because I`m about bringing people together, not separating people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC HOST: Why are you talking to Hannity about this issue? He has nothing to do with Georgia one way or another.

Look, the core issue here is that you have got too many Republicans who would rather mix it up on Twitter, argue with people in articles and do TikToks, instead of actually interact with voters.

When you actually want to represent America, you got to get in the ring and compete with people, instead of getting in front of a ring light to advance your Twitter followers and your TikTok.

That does it for me. Ari Melber will be back on Monday.

THE REIDOUT is up next.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone.

We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with new details exposing the extent of Republican lawmakers` efforts to overturn the election.

Texas Congressman Chip Roy and, surprise, surprise, supposed constitutional conservative Senator Mike Lee of Utah turned out to be early enthusiasts of the big lie, as shown in a series of damning text messages to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

On November 7, four days after the election, Lee passed along this message to the biggest loser via Meadows, pledging: "unequivocal support for you to exhaust every legal and constitutional remedy at your disposal."

That same day, Roy wrote: "We need ammo. We need fraud examples. We need it this weekend."

Lobbying to find a nonexistent remedy to the former president`s loss, Lee urged Meadows to connect with a top Trump defender and conspiracy theorist, writing: "Sidney Powell is saying that she needs to get in to see the president, but she`s being kept away from him. Apparently, she has a strategy to keep things alive and put several states back in play. Can you help her get in?"

Adding two days later: "I have found her to be a straight shooter."

Well, when, just days later, Powell presented an unhinged news conference with a stew of Republican buzzwords and not a shred of evidence, Lee wrote to Meadows again, saying: "I`m worried about the Powell press conference. The potential defamation liability for the president is significant here, for the campaign and for the president personally, unless Powell can back up everything she said, which I kind of doubt she can."

Meadows replied: "I agree. Very concerned," as well they should have been, as Powell`s Kraken amounted to nothing. Days later, the Trump campaign cut ties with her, but Mike Lee soldiered on undeterred, telling Meadows: "Please give me something to work with. I just need to know what I should be saying. Please tell me what I should be saying."

In the absence of talking points to justify stealing an election, both Lee and Roy started pitching attorney John Eastman. But, by December, texts show both starting to realize they had made a huge mistake.

On New Year`s Eve, Roy warned: "The president should call everyone off. It`s the only path. If we substitute the will of state through electors with a vote by Congress every four years, we have destroyed the Electoral College."

The next day, he added: "POTUS allows this to occur, we`re driving a stake in the heart of the federal republic."

And Lee argued: "This will end badly for the president unless we have the Constitution on our side. And unless these states submit new slates of Trump electors pursuant to state law, we do not."

In the end, with these doubts in play, neither objected to the election result. Fist-pumping insurrection enthusiast Josh Hawley and Rafael "The Canadian" led that charge.

But the texts show Roy and Lee`s complicity right up until the moment they realized how bad it would look to steal the election and until the day a frenzied MAGA mob animated by the same goal that they had entertained and by the same big lie laid siege to the U.S. Capitol.

At that point, Roy texted Meadows: "This is a `blank` show. Fix this now."

The texts were first reported by CNN, and NBC News has not independently verified them.

For their part, the House January 6 Committee has declined to comment on the report.

I`m joined now by Dean Obeidallah, host of "The Dean Obeidallah Show" on SiriusXM, and Paul Butler, Georgetown law professor and former federal prosecutor.

And I will start with you, my federal -- by law professor and former prosecutor. Would this constitute conspiracy if these guys seemed to have the exact same idea for how to overturn the election as people like Eastman, people like Ted Cruz, people like -- you go up and down the line, they all seemed to have the same idea.

Would it constitute assistance in a conspiracy?

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely, Joy.

The questioning with the people in Trump`s inner circle has always been about criminal intent. In their best efforts to overturn the election, did they really believe the lie that the election had been stolen? Or did they understand that Trump has lost, and they just didn`t care?

So these texts can see that there was no evidence of the big lie, but that didn`t stop these people. Congressman Roy says he was looking for anything. They know the Trump team is being advised by Sidney Powell and John Eastman, two attorneys who were coming up with these wack theories.

[19:05:05]

Joy, here`s the -- here`s the smoking gun. Senator Lee, Representative Roy, Chief of Staff Meadows, they all acknowledged that the Stop the Steal theories are weak. They are understand that these lawyers are incompetent, who can`t back up their theories, but they don`t care.

After Lee and Roy and Meadows basically concede Stop the Steal is a big lie, they keep perpetrating the big lie. They know Biden actually won the election, but that doesn`t stop their efforts to put Trump in the White House. In the law, we call that criminal intent.

REID: You know, and, Dean, it`s pretty obvious that pretty much every sort of dime-store Republican, elected Republican, was trying desperately to find some way to keep Donald Trump in office. That`s very clear.

And Chip Roy, we know who he is. This is the guy who justified lynching as a form of justice, right? So we know that he doesn`t really care about the law.

But Mike Lee sort of styles himself a constitutional conservative. He sort of created this feint that he cares so much and so deeply about the Constitution.

Here`s a January 3 text from Mike Lee to Mark Meadows, and this one is about Ted Cruz. He says: "I have grave concerns with the way my friend Ted is going about this effort." Lee objected to avenues that Cruz and Josh Hawley were taking and implied that they were self-serving.

It seems that his objections to what`s being done have to do about the way things look. He didn`t like the look of going against the Constitution so openly and essentially ignoring the will of the people and substituting Congress` will. He didn`t like the fact that Hawley and Lee seemed to be trying to serve their own political interest.

I don`t see in these text messages -- and I don`t know if you do -- any real concern for our democracy.

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, MSNBC DAILY COLUMNIST: No, none. Next question.

No, of course not. They don`t care. Look, and what`s remarkable, Mark Meadows got 100 text messages here. We have learned he got text messages from Ginni Thomas about her own theories for a coup. We learned last week Donald Trump Jr. was sending to Mark Meadows.

Apparently, Mark Meadows was a human coup suggestion box. So any idea you had for a coup, send it to Mark Meadows. And then a lucky winner gets to pick the coup. This is remarkable. I`m not kidding. To see this happen, this is exhibit one million that a coup happened.

To me, the most stunning part is Chip Roy actually asking twice for evidence, twice, and clearly not getting any evidence. And, by the end, Mike Lee even turns on this before January 6.

So Donald Trump knew. Chip Roy goes, you can`t do this. Call this off. Mike Lee, his avid supporter, going, hey, this is just not going to work. And there`s Donald Trump on January 6, knowing there`s no evidence and telling that crowd, we have to stop the steal, and saying things like, we are going to have someone in the White House that shouldn`t be there. We`re not going to stand for that, and adding things: We`re just not going to let this happen.

We are not going to let this happen? There was no peaceful way not to let that happen. This was a coup, plus a January 6 attack. And Donald Trump`s punishment is, he travels the country repeating the same lies that radicalized people to attack our Capitol on January 6. This is America.

REID: And the thing is, is that the fact that you get cold feet and you`re part of, let`s say, a robbery plan, Paul, and you at the last minute sort of get cold feet, but you knew about it, you helped plan it, you were in on all the planning, and then, at the end, you go, you know what, let me not go in the bank, to me, I don`t really give you much credit for not being part of the robbery.

You helped to plan it. And your plans were ultimately attempted to be carried out.

Let`s go a little bit deeper here., because Stephen Miller testified This is the very poor speechwriter who worked for Donald Trump and probably wrote some of the remarks that he made on the -- at the Ellipse. He has now spoken to the January 6 Committee. Apparently, it was very contentious. He testified for more than eight hours on Thursday.

According to Elaine Luria, she told Rachel Maddow, "We`re still aiming toward potentially late May and early June." They`re going to have a public time frame. So we`re not going to actually see him probably testify in public.

But it is interesting sort of what he is alleged to have said, that he tried to frame the remarks that Trump made on January 6 as sort of normal speechifying, when he said, we`re going to go to the Capitol. He tried to sort of elevate that to almost sort of Thomas Jeffersonian language.

But what these text messages show is that, in December, after Trump had said, we`re going to make it wild, it`s going to be wild -- that`s what he said on December 19. After that, these senators were like, call it off, call it off.

This says to me that everyone involved, from the speechwriter to the senators, all understood what Trump meant when he said he was going to -- quote -- "stop the steal."

I find it hard to walk away from that.

BUTLER: And people like Stephen Miller are still trying to protect Donald Trump.

Miller claimed executive privilege, even though it`s Biden`s privilege, and he waived it with regard to the insurrection, and even though executive privilege doesn`t cover when people are trying to help the president commit a crime.

[19:10:00]

So, Joy, we know that Stephen Miller talked to Trump on January 6. But Miller won`t say what that conversation was about. And that`s the same day that Trump said, we will not take it anymore. Miller now says that that was just political speech.

In December 2020, Miller told FOX News that some states are going to send people to the Electoral College who will vote for Trump, even if they were supposed to vote for Biden. And now he won`t explain that, Joy. This is the subversion of democracy. And the smoking gun evidence exists in text messages and hits on FOX News.

REID: And the thing is, you -- so, you have one of these January 6 guys that was one of the goons that sort of busted into the Capitol -- his name is famous Dustin Thompson -- he claims that he was just following presidential orders when he stormed the Capitol.

He has been found guilty on six charges, including obstructing an official proceeding, theft of government property.

I put it together, Dean, all the way from, like, days after the election, Donald Trump son is already e-mailing and texting around plans to overturn the election. Mike Lee and Chip Roy, Chip "OK With Lynching" Roy," are already trading plans for how to stop the turnover of the election.

This goes all the way from literally days after the election to Rudy Giuliani saying trial by combat on the Ellipse. Do you understand why, with all of these people involved all doing the same thing, all with the same plan, we have not seen not one person above the goons brought to justice?

OBEIDALLAH: No, I do not. And it`s something that befuddles me and listeners to my show.

And I must say, if DOJ -- if Democratic officials are watching, it is zapping the enthusiasm of the Democratic base that Donald Trump is not held accountable. I hear that nightly from listeners to my show. Donald Trump committed crimes. We saw him commit crimes. There`s no doubt this was a Trump production.

If Donald Trump accepted the loss, there`s no January 6 attack, there`s no coup. He just moves on the right way. So, we see everything, from plotting, to calling them there, to behind the scenes trying to weaponize DOJ to overturn the election.

If Donald Trump is not charged, I have never had something more, Joy, make me question the institutions of our nation and our legal system like this case and the fact that Donald Trump is not charged yet.

It`s -- we`re 460-plus days since January 6, and he`s not charged. And people are saying, we did this for Trump during the attack. We saw videos going: We`re here for Trump.

Still. DOJ has got to step it up here. They`re investigating Hunter Biden. They just indicted the lieutenant governor here in New York for campaign finance violations. Michael Cohen said he committed the crimes for Trump, at the direction with Trump. DOJ hasn`t charged him at all.

So, if you`re a Democrat and your name is Hunter Biden or Hillary Clinton years ago, they will investigate you.

REID: That`s right.

OBEIDALLAH: If you`re Trump, no.

REID: Paul, last question to you.

If you were still prosecuting, could you prosecute a case based on the facts that you know about this attempted coup?

BUTLER: One hundred percent, totally, absolutely. I have convicted people on less evidence than this.

The person who will decide whether people at the top face consequences is Merrick Garland, the attorney general. The January 6 panel has suggested there`s strong evidence of criminal conduct by Donald Trump Sr. Now at least two federal judges have suggested there`s evidence that Trump committed crimes.

Joy, these January 6 prosecutions are the result of the largest federal criminal investigation in American history. So, even if 700 people end up facing consequences, unless the people at the very top are held accountable, there will not be justice under the law. And that will embolden the next group of people who want to overturn a presidential election because they don`t like what the American people have decided.

REID: And we know that there are sitting senators who are very much willing to do it, if they can just find anything that they can call evidence.

Dean Obeidallah, who I like to brag, in addition to being a brilliant radio host and comedian, is also a lawyer.

I love to give you your honorific there.

OBEIDALLAH: Thank you.

REID: And, Paul Butler, my friend and prosecutor extraordinaire, thank you both. Have a great, great, wonderful weekend.

Up next on THE REIDOUT: After suffering embarrassing military losses, Russia warns of -- quote -- "unpredictable consequences" if the U.S. continues to arm Ukraine.

Plus, Beto O`Rourke joins me. He is running against Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who had quite a week, dehumanizing migrants and disrupting the supply chain, so you pay more at the store, that kind of stuff.

And my political panel joins me to end a wild week, including Elon Musk trying his darndest to bring back Trump and the rest of his troll army to Twitter.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:19:25]

REID: Ukrainian officials announced that more than 900 civilian bodies have been discovered in the region surrounding the capital, Kyiv, saying that most of them were executed.

The growing tally of Russian atrocities is a chilling reminder of what Putin`s invading forces are capable of. It also comes at a time when Russia`s Defense Ministry has vowed to ramp up missile attacks on Kyiv after the humiliating sinking of the flagship of Russia`s Black Sea Fleet.

Today, the Pentagon confirmed that the ship, the Moskva, was struck by two Ukrainian Neptune missiles. One official told Reuters that the U.S. believes there were Russian casualties. The ship was last seen in the waters between Crimea and Odessa.

[19:20:03]

Russian forces and Russian-backed militias continue to pummel the southern port of -- the southern port city of Mariupol, because taking that city would give Russia control of the coast of the Sea of Azov.

The governor of Mariupol told CNN that the city has been wiped off the face of the earth by the Russian Federation. Sources tell "The Washington Post" that during a recent call, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy asked President Biden to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.

I`m joined now by former CIA Director John Brennan, who`s an MSNBC senior national security and intelligence analyst, and Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon, historian and Ph.D. Student at the University of Pennsylvania Department of History.

Thank you very much. It`s always good to see both of you.

John Brennan, would you agree with the idea of designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism?

JOHN BRENNAN, MSNBC SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, quite frankly, Joy, I think Russia has qualified for some time, as it`s used to poison to kill Russian dissidents, as well as intelligence officers who have defected.

So, clearly, it has been involved in these types of assassinations previously. Now, usually, the state sponsor of terrorism moniker is reserved for countries that support terrorist groups, not engaged in these types of horrific conventional invasions.

But I must say that, clearly, the Russians are trying to kill Ukrainian civilians.

REID: Yes.

BRENNAN: And one of the key criteria of being on the state sponsor of terrorism list is that it`s terrorist attacks against noncombatant targets, which means civilians.

And the thousands upon thousands of Ukrainians who have been killed by these Russian attacks, these indiscriminate Russian attacks, certainly, I think Russia has done more than virtually almost any other state sponsor, maybe save Syria and Iran. And so, therefore, I think it does certainly qualify, according to the broader definition of state sponsorship of terrorism.

REID: Yes, I can`t see how anyone really could argue with that.

And, Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon, thank you so much for being here as well.

And there are also the ongoing threats, I mean, the stuff that they`re saying, saying that there will be untold consequences if the U.S. keeps arming Ukraine. I don`t see why anybody should listen to anything they`re saying. This is the classic schoolyard bully telling people -- threatening people, thinking he can make the U.S. come to heel, and threatening nuclear hypersonic deployments if Sweden and Finland join NATO.

Well, that sounds like a threat that means they should join NATO. Can you think of any reason why anyone should listen to these threats, and maybe not threaten them back, and say that, if you try any of this, if you do you tactical nukes, if you use hypersonic deployments, Russia will pay for it?

KIMBERLY ST. JULIAN-VARNON, HISTORIAN: I think it`s once again Putin rattling his sword.

There are very little impetuses for Russia to actually use nuclear weapons. I think Putin understands that that crosses a brink that he cannot come back from. But, also, if the whole point of Putin`s war was to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, to have Finland, which is a hop, skip, and a jump from Saint Petersburg, thinking about joining NATO and Sweden thinking about joining NATO, the purpose of this war has significantly fallen short.

But I think this is also Putin speaking from a position of weakness, the sinking of the Moskva, and the world is now knowing about the absolute atrocities that Russia has committed in Ukraine. So, I think he understands, like, he`s not in any position to demand anything.

Russia is not coming from a position of strength that they were February 24. So I think, when we think about, should we take these particular threats for nuclear capability seriously, I wouldn`t.

REID: Yes.

And do you agree with that, Director Brennan? Because it does seem that he -- if he`s still rational, if he still has control of his faculties, his mental faculties, he must understand that if he tries to go nuclear, that`s it. Like, NATO isn`t just going to sit back and take that.

And Vladimir Kara-Murza has made the point over and over again -- and we`re really still thinking of him while we know he is detained -- that it is the impunity, it`s the fact that he keeps getting away with escalating violence is why he thought he could do what he`s doing now.

Do you agree that he couldn`t be dumb enough to think he could use nukes?

BRENNAN: Well, I think he`s still trying to win this war with conventional military means. And so I do not believe at this point he is interested in ratcheting up and escalating, because that does bring forward the potential for NATO to be involved.

And after the very poor performance of the Russian military force in Ukraine. I think the last thing that Putin wants to do is to get into a fight with NATO forces, which are far superior to Russian forces.

But Kimberly makes a very good point in terms of, Putin is not just losing on the battlefield. He is also losing strategically, because what has happened over the past two months? Well, there have been more U.S. forces deployed to NATO countries. NATO has come together. And they`re bolstering their capabilities. And now we see Finland and Sweden thinking about joining NATO.

[19:25:04]

So, not only from a tactical military perspective, but also from a geostrategic perspective, this has been a debacle for Putin. And that`s why I think he needs to find a way to try to salvage whatever he can.

And escalating to nuclear at this time, I don`t think is something that he wants to do.

REID: Let me quickly play Jen Psaki.

She was on "Pod Save America" addressing this idea of perhaps the president of the United States going to Ukraine.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are not sending the president to Ukraine.

What I will tell you is that, what Boris Johnson did is he took, I believe, an eight-hour train through a war zone to get to the middle of Ukraine. So, no, that is not in the plans for the president of the United States. We should all be maybe relieved about that.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

REID: I want to ask each of you what you think of that and whether you think that the president states should go to Kyiv. I will start with you, Director Brennan.

BRENNAN: No, I don`t think it`s certainly necessary. I think sending a very senior U.S. official, such as Defense Secretary Austin or even Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, or another senior official, as a way to show the American flag.

The United States has I think demonstrated very tangibly its support for the Ukrainian people. And so, therefore, I think having a face in Kyiv would, in fact, be something that I think the residents of Kyiv, especially now, with the specter of a Russian attack more intensely against Kyiv, I think that would be useful, but also to send a signal to Vladimir Putin that the United States is firmly resolved to continue our support and our commitment to Ukraine.

REID: Kimberly, do you agree?

Because I think there couldn`t be anything more powerful than seeing the president of the United States in Kyiv. Do you agree that he -- that it`s something that should not be done?

ST. JULIAN-VARNON: I agree with Director Brennan.

Considering Russia`s already ramping up its offensives in the east and it`s already threatening to -- and shell Kyiv again, I don`t think, in terms of security, it would be safe or reasonable for President Biden to go to Kyiv.

But, also, I completely agree with Director Brennan. We have already sent over $3.2 billion in aid to Ukraine. And I think the next $800 million package is to be deployed relatively soon. So I think Ukraine understands that we completely support them. But, also, we have to take in consideration protecting President Biden as much as we can, and preventing him from making any type of situation where his safety could be at risk.

REID: All right, I`m going to leave it with the experts.

Director John Brennan, Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon, thank you very much. Have a wonderful weekend to you both.

Still ahead: Texas Governor Greg Abbott`s got more stunts than Evel Knievel, but his stupid, cynical, dehumanizing political stunts are now putting people`s lives and livelihoods at risk.

Former Congressman Beto O`Rourke, who is challenging Abbott in the upcoming election, joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:32:28]

REID: If you live in Texas, you`re constantly reminded that it is election season, because the ruling Republican Party is in a constant race to the bottom.

Look no further than the guy in charge of the state, Greg Abbott. Governor Abbott has been on a tear lately. He successfully banned abortion after six weeks and put bounties on women, banned books that make white Texans uncomfortable, and hunted down parents of trans kids.

This week, having pulled a full DeSantis in his race to be crowned as the king of bigotry among Republican governors, good old Greg decided to intentionally delay cross-border food deliveries by adding redundant security inspections, snarling trucker traffic for miles.

The move is so bonkers that I`m just going to leave it to Paul, a patriot Texan, according to his TikTok bio, to explain it to you all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, Governor Abbott here in the state of Texas is forcing the DPS, which is our version of the state troopers, to stop every single truck coming out of Mexico, every single truck, and do a safety inspection on it, safety inspection it.

What they`re doing is, they`re backing up shipping for dozens and dozens and dozens of miles. Why? Because they want to drive up inflation. They think it`s going to help them in the midterms.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Abbott literally sabotaged $150 million worth of food and triggered an economic crisis that jacked up food prices even further, hurting Americans, just to prove that he`s a hardcore Republican.

The move was so stupid that the American Trucking Association called wholly flawed -- a wholly flawed scheme. The worst part is that his attorney general, Ken Paxton, who, by the way, is still under indictment for federal -- felony securities fraud and under investigation by the FBI, basically admitted that they intentionally sabotaged the economy for political gain.

And late this afternoon, Abbott repealed his traffic-clogging border action, because it got out.

I`m joined now by the Democratic nominee for governor of Texas, former Congressman Beto O`Rourke.

And thank you always for being here. I really appreciate you coming on, on this Friday.

It is so cynical. I don`t think there`s anything more cynical than forcing Texans, who`ve already been through storms and already been through, whether it`s freezing or fires, who have an electric grid that barely works, who`ve already been suffering over the last several years, to say, I`m going to jack up your food prices and food prices in the region just so I can run on inflation.

Sickening. Your thoughts?

BETO O`ROURKE (D), TEXAS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: There`s only one person that this helped, and that was Greg Abbott politically in the short term on one cable network.

[19:35:00]

For everyone else, this has been terrible. it`s sending prices through the roof, spiking inflation even higher in the state of Texas. It`s causing massive supply chain problems. So, it`s the produce that you talked about. Two-thirds of the fresh produce that we consume in Texas comes from Mexico. And, over the last week, it has literally been rotting in the backs of those trucks.

So, this weekend, when we go to the supermarket, there is not going to be anything on the shelves in the produce section. It is exacerbating supply chain problems for the electronics, the TVs, the parts to the Toyota trucks that are made here in Texas. He is tanking the Texas economy with what he`s doing at the border.

And the worst part about all of this is, we gained nothing from a security or safety perspective. These DPS troopers providing these additional inspections can only check the pressure in the tires and the quality of the engine. They`re literally not allowed to go into the cargo hold.

That inspection is already done by Customs and Border Protection. So this was a purely political stunt that has done deep damage not just to the Texas economy, but to the national economy.

Ray Perryman of The Perryman Group estimates that it`s done $1 billion in damage to the national economy every day it`s gone on, $470 million of damage to the Texas economy alone.

REID: And are people getting the message of why?

I mean, to me, it`s sort of counterintuitive. Normally, governors want to show, look how I have served you. Look how I have helped you. What he`s basically doing is, look how bad the economy is, blame Biden, and vote for me, which is such a counterintuitive, weird, circular way to try to win reelection.

But I wonder. I used to work in local news. Is this on the local news? Do people understand why they`re paying more?

O`ROURKE: They do.

I was just in the Rio Grande Valley in Pharr, Texas, for example, which, with the Pharr-Reynosa Bridge, imports the lion`s share of that produce. You better believe, in the Rio Grande Valley, in South Texas, in Laredo, every single person in those communities, because their economy depends on cross-border trade, knows what Greg Abbott has done.

He`s killing their businesses right now. They are seeing some companies move to Nogales, Arizona, a 20-hour drive away, 1,200 miles distant from the Rio Grande Valley. You know it here in El Paso, where I live. You see it throughout the rest of Texas, because our largest trading partner in this state is the country of Mexico; 600,000 jobs in Texas alone depend on this.

And it`s not just me talking about this. It is the editorial page of "The Wall Street Journal." It is other statewide elected Republican officials, like Sid Miller, who`s the commissioner of agriculture here, talking about this horrible stunt that is deeply harming the Texas economy. It`s really everyone.

Again, the only beneficiary, and maybe just on FOX News, has been Greg Abbott.

REID: Yes.

O`ROURKE: For everyone else, this has been deeply harmful.

It`s higher inflation, higher prices, more supply chain problems, and it`s killing businesses, especially along the Texas side of the Texas-Mexico border. And everyone here knows about it.

REID: Yes. I mean, trying to make a national anti-Biden, anti-Mexican point, then killing your own state`s consumers and citizens is bonkers.

One another question, a quick turn here.

The woman who was charged, the Texas woman who was charged with murder after an abortion, the charges have now been dropped. But that has sent shockwaves throughout this country, because it exposes the lie that these anti-abortion forces don`t mean to punish women.

Is that getting through it, when you`re talking with female voters, with women, how much danger they`re in because of these laws like the anti- abortion law in Texas?

O`ROURKE: This is Greg Abbott`s Texas, and it is coming to the rest of America, unless we stop him and defeat him in November.

In Starr County, in the Rio Grande Valley, yes, this woman spent two days in jail for an abortion that is legal for the last 49 years in this country. Thankfully, charges were dropped.

But while he is pursuing this war on women, this fixation on transgender kids, we have real problems in Texas, like a foster care system where 100 kids in the custody and care of the state of Texas died last year, just one year alone. That problem within Child Protective Services has been getting worse year after year under Greg Abbott`s watch.

This guy cannot keep the lights on. He cannot keep the economy going. He cannot keep us safe. He`s very bad for Texas, bad for the country. We must stop him and win this election in November.

REID: Texas definitely deserves better. It`s a beautiful state. It definitely deserves better.

Former Congressman Beto O`Rourke, best of luck to you. Thank you so much. And have a great weekend.

And don`t move, because, up next, it is our roundup of some of the more head-scratchingly bizarre political stories making news this week, including, what exactly is Elon Musk up to with Twitter?

[19:40:01]

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELON MUSK, CEO, TESLA MOTORS: Twitter has become kind of the de facto town square.

So it`s just really important that people have the -- both the reality and the perception that they`re able to speak freely within the bounds of the law.

QUESTION: If, in this case, you are not successful and the board does not accept your offer, you have said you won`t go higher.

[19:45:03]

Is there a plan B?

MUSK: There is.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Elon Musk would not divulge that plan B, but it appears that he`s going to need it.

In response to his hostile takeover bid, Twitter`s board of directors announced today that they have adopted what is known as a poison pill to fend him off, at least for now. The move gives Twitter`s existing shareholders time to purchase more shares at a discount to dilute Musk`s ownership stake, which at this point sits at just over 9 percent, making him the largest individual shareholder.

Musk make a cash offer of $43 billion, but there is a question of whether he even has that much liquid cash available. In any event, this is what "The Washington Post"`s Christine Emba cites as a perfect example of peak billionaire, "the ability of one fantastically rich person to, without accountability, make decisions with potentially life-changing ramifications for many, many people, based on nothing more than their mood and their ridiculously deep pockets."

Joining me now is Democratic strategist Juanita Tolliver and Tom Nichols, contributing writer for "The Atlantic."

And, Tom, I`m going to go to you, because you have often said on the Twitters that the right in some ways is that person outside the glass looking in on the culture and jealous because they really want to be a part of it. They want to be on the other side of the glass.

To me, this is the ultimate example of that. They have Parler. What is -- TRUTH Social is worth like 10, 15 cents on Apple iTunes. They made all these other versions of Twitter. But, in the end, they really just want to be on Twitter. And they`re so desperate to be on Twitter that they`re all cheering that Elon Musk will put all of them back on Twitter, and they won`t be stuck on Gettr, which still to me sounds like porn.

Your thoughts.

(LAUGHTER)

TOM NICHOLS, "THE ATLANTIC": They don`t want to -- they don`t want to talk to each other. They want to be in a public square, where they can annoy other people.

REID: Yes.

NICHOLS: They keep saying, well, we just want to express our views freely, and we want to be able to talk to each other without you leftists and communists and vegans and spelling reformers oppressing us.

They don`t. But they don`t really want to talk to each other. They want to be trolls. And trolls need a pool of ordinary human beings to go annoy. And that`s the thing that they keep getting denied. They don`t want to go to Parler or Gettr. They want to be where they think they`re ticking off all the people they don`t like.

And they -- that`s the thing.

REID: Yes.

NICHOLS: You`re absolutely right. They want to talk to the people on Twitter. They don`t really want to talk to each other because they`re not interesting.

REID: They`re not interesting.

And, as a spelling reformer, I`m actually quite offended. I really do like to correct people`s spelling.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: Let me bring you in here, Juanita, because the other thing is whether or not this is even real, right?

I mean, Twitter is very popular. It`s popular with journalists and activist. And it`s got a -- it is a big town hall square, but I`m not sure it`s profitable. And so there is sort of a theory, a conspiracy theory, that maybe he`s doing this to, like, up the value of his stock or find some way to sort of profit off of saying he`s going to buy it all, and then not buying it all.

It -- does it even, to you, seem like a real thing that`s going to happen?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don`t think it seems real.

I do think every single move that Elon Musk has made up until this point is sinister, secretly buying shares starting in January, delaying disclosures before making his offer. All of it just sounds like, as Christine wrote, he got bored and decided he wanted to mess with yet another market moment, and creating another potential SEC violation.

He has a few under his belt, Joy. And we can`t forget that.

REID: True.

TOLLIVER: I think the other thing we can`t forget is, this is someone who is leading an organization that`s been described by black employees as highly racist and toxic.

And is that someone who should also be taking over another multibillion- dollar organization? And so Elon Musk comes with a lot of questions. But, at the end of the day, I`m not buying that this is about freedom of speech, but I will buy that he just got bored and decided he wanted to make another hostile takeover.

REID: And I`m just wondering.

It`s sort of like saying, like, we -- like, we won, when you have a football team, and you didn`t get any money, nor did you get the trophy. It`s like they`re acting like, if Trump gets back on, that gives them something.

That don`t give you nothing. Why are you all exercised that Trump get back on? Do you need him? Is he your daddy? And, also, T-O and T-O-O are not the same thing. Sorry about that. That is my spelling reform part coming back out.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: Let`s talk about -- to stay with you for a minute, Juanita, these abortion bans, they -- this is a scary direction that the country is going.

And this idea -- we talked about this a little bit with Beto O`Rourke -- this lie that they`re not going to arrest people, well, they already arrested somebody in Texas. There`s a long history. There`s a piece in "Mother Jones" about this long, scary history of existing religious fanatics that work in hospitals, doctors, nurses, et cetera, turning people in when they have a -- when they -- I`m sorry -- when they have a miscarriage, if they have ever used drugs or marijuana, and turning them in.

Women are going to get arrested, right?

TOLLIVER: Women are going to continue to get arrested, not just in Texas, but in Oklahoma, where they have essentially made it -- outlawed anyone performing abortions and made that illegal, in Kentucky, where there`s no clinics available or are able to meet the new requirements of the new laws that they were just enacted.

[19:50:03]

And so expect more women to get arrested, because Republicans are presenting this as like a buffet of bans that they and their evangelical supporters have been pushing and wanting and promoting for years.

And so you better believe that, in addition to these bans, they are going to be waiting with bated breath for any Supreme Court ruling, since there is a 5-3 split on the court, that is going to essentially signal to them just how far they can go.

So we should expect women to get arrested. We should expect abortion to be criminalized and, if the Republicans get their way, completely wiped off the map of this country.

REID: And we don`t know how that`s going to play.

I think they don`t understand even or know how that`s going to actually play in the election. I think they think it`s going to help them. I`m not so sure about that.

I`m glad I have Tom Nichols here, who is my resident in-house hip-hop expert.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: So I`m going to play you a song, Tom. I`m going to test your hip-hop knowledge to see if you know this megahit.

This is by MAGA rappers Forgiato Blow and J360, that they have made a rap homage to Matt Gaetz.

Play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

REID: I`m sorry.

TOLLIVER: Yikes.

REID: I`m so sorry. I`m so sorry. OK. It`s the way he...

(LAUGHTER)

TOLLIVER: You just can`t make this up.

REID: Help me.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

NICHOLS: This is just going to send me back to listening to Led Zeppelin, and I think people know what that means.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: Why are they doing this, Tom? Who is this supposed to be playing to?

The people in the video look so confused. They look so confused, Tom.

NICHOLS: But -- although Donald Trump was a staple of lot of hip-hop and rap in the past.

And so maybe it`s just guys trying to be transgressive and cool and saying, who`s the most absurd loser there is that we can write a song about? Because now, look, Joy, one thing they got is, we`re all sitting here laughing and talking about them. And now people know who they are by having done this completely inane and utterly stupid thing that I`m sure they will love telling their grandchildren about one day as their great contribution to the culture.

But this is...

REID: You know, that time I was a rap video. I was in a few rap videos when I was young and in the RNC.

NICHOLS: About Matt Gaetz.

(LAUGHTER)

NICHOLS: But it`s -- in the attention economy, as you get more and more desperate for a bigger and bigger jolt of stupid, if this is what it takes, that`s what they`re going to do.

REID: Juanita, is hip-hop dead because of this?

(LAUGHTER)

TOLLIVER: For these people. For these people, right?

Like, I`m just like you chose Matt Gaetz, someone who`s under federal investigation for child sex trafficking, as your guy. That`s the one you want to emphasize?

Like, I will be honest, Joy. Besides that clip, I made it to about 10 other seconds when the producer sent me this link. I could not get far.

I`m like, this is a joke, right?

REID: Literally, my anchor producer is standing right here just in case I fall down, because I laughed so hard today, I almost laughed my eyelashes off.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: These people are so jealous of the culture. They`re like, we`re going to get into culture. We`re going to have a rap video about Matt Gaetz.

Don`t go anywhere. Juanita and Tom are sticking around, because they`re going to play "Who Won the Week?"

And take look at this New Yorker, who helped capture the subway shooting suspect and who is very close runner-up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZACK DAHHAN, CALLED POLICE: My name is Zack.

I was working the site next door, and I was -- do security cameras inside. And I see that guy. He walking from the screen. I see him from the cameras. So, I thought oh, shit, this guy. Let me call the police. And I call him, and we catch him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: The Ramadan hero we didn`t know we need. But, believe it or not, I actually found someone else who`s equally amazing.

Back in a sec.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:58:43]

REID: Well, we made it to Friday, and it almost feels like summer out there. And I have composed myself after the hippity hop video.

So, now it is time to play "Who Won the Week?"

Back with me, Juanita Tolliver and Tom Nichols.

Juanita Tolliver, who won the week?

TOLLIVER: Look, Joy, the Democratic-controlled Maryland state legislature won the week for me, because they vetoed Governor Larry Hogan and expanded access to abortion care, at a moment when we`re seeing it under attack in other states across the country.

And the new law is going to require the state to train health care providers in providing abortions, as well as ensure that insurance plans cover the cost of abortions. So, I hope people see this and get engaged in state and local elections and Senate Democrats take similar action with the Women`s Health Care Protection Act.

REID: Yes, sorry, Larry Hogan. That`s not going to help you in your little primary bid I know you want to run.

Tom Nichols, who won the week?

NICHOLS: Not just as scorekeeping, but as a real achievement, the Ukrainians sank the Moskva, which was not just taking the Russian flagship off the board, but they did it in such a way that the Russian government is blatantly lying to its own people, and so obviously that Russian pundits on television are actually contradicting Putin about what at happened.

REID: Yes.

NICHOLS: So, that -- that is a big achievement.

REID: Amen. Amen. Go, Ukraine.

I want to big up 18-year-old gifted team Jonathan Walker. Let`s show his picture, Rutherford High School, Panama City, Florida. This young man applied to some of the nation`s top universities and got 27 college acceptances, including Harvard, MIT, $4 million in scholarships. Brilliant young man.

Young man, you won the week.

Thank you, Juanita Tolliver, Tom Nichols.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.