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Transcript: The ReidOut, 4/26/22

Guests: Doug Jones


New audio recordings are released of Kevin McCarthy talking to and about his Republican colleagues. Former Senator Doug Jones discusses the state of the Republican Party. Elon Musk and the handful of multibillionaires taking control of fundamental aspects of American life are examined. The Trumpian candidates who could be serving in the Senate next year are discussed. Russian forces continue to pound Eastern and Southern Ukraine, as U.S. officials vow to move heaven and earth to keep the military supplies coming.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for spending time with us on THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone.

We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with new jaw-dropping audio recordings of Kevin McCarthy talking to and about his Republican colleagues.

In these recordings obtained by "The New York Times," McCarthy acknowledges that members of his party played a role in stoking violence on January 6, and here`s the kicker. It turns out McCarthy thinks the same way about Trump and the MAGA tribe as you do and as I do.

Here he is talking with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise about Matt Gaetz, who criticized other Republicans by name in the days after the Capitol attack.


MCCARTHY: This is serious (EXPLETIVE DELETED) to cut this out.

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): Yes, that`s out of -- I mean, it`s potentially illegal, what he`s doing.

MCCARTHY: Well, he`s putting people in jeopardy, and he doesn`t need to be doing this. It`s -- we saw what people would do in the Capitol.

And these people came prepared with rope, with everything else.


REID: OK, Kevin, I mean, sounding more like me than like a Republican.

Oh, but there`s more. McCarthy expressed concern about Republican lawmakers` rhetoric, fearing that people would get hurt.


MCCARTHY: Tension is too high. The country is too crazy. I do not want to look back and think we caused something or we missed something and someone got hurt. I don`t want to play politics with any of that.


REID: The country is too crazy. Tension is too high.

McCarthy and Scalise also discussed incendiary comments made by multiple Republican lawmakers. They took particular issue with comments from Mo Brooks, who said at the rally that it was the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.

Referring to Brooks, McCarthy said the Trump loyalists had behaved even worse on January 6 than Trump.


MCCARTHY: You think the president deserves to be impeached for his comments? That`s almost something that goes further than what the president said.


REID: This audio was obtained in reporting for a forthcoming book, "This Will Not Pass."

And the book has also revealed more on what goes on under Mitch McConnell`s icy shell. In the hours after the attack, one of the book`s authors, "New York Times" reporter Jonathan Martin, asked McConnell about his feelings on the violence.

And McConnell said -- quote -- "I feel exhilarated by the fact that this fellow finally totally discredited himself." Now, this is according to the book. And this excerpt was obtained by "The Washington Post."

McConnell also said about Trump: "He put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Couldn`t have happened at a better time."

McConnell also reportedly asked Martin, "What do you hear about the 25th Amendment?" eager for intel about whether the Cabinet and the vice president might remove Trump from office. Who knew? Republicans, they think just like us.

But that is where the similarities end, because, unlike the Democrats and their leaders, they did absolutely nothing about it.

Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst former RNC Chair Michael Steele and former U.S. Senator from Alabama Doug Jones, who is a distinguished senior fellow at the Center For American Progress.

Thank you both for being here.

It is pretty remarkable, gentlemen, to find out that these men are completely frauds. They talk like MAGA, but, behind the scenes, they -- I literally could get Kevin McCarthy to fill in for me if I wanted to take a night off. Like, he could be my fill-in, because he says all the same things that I say about these -- the Mo Brooks` and the Marjorie Taylor Greenes.

He said -- he thinks the same thing, Michael Steele.


REID: He thinks the exact same things. The difference is, he doesn`t have the cojones to do anything about it.

Your thoughts?

STEELE: Well, the interesting thing is, I can imagine Kevin filling in, in your seat for just one night, and what you...

REID: But it would have to be audio Kevin. It couldn`t be the slimy phony. He would have to be audio...

STEELE: No, no, no, I got it. I got it. I got it.

REID: Audio Kevin could fill in for me any night. He would fit right in.

STEELE: Audio Kevin -- audio Kevin is the joint. I got it. No, I understand that.

But here`s -- but here`s the point. What your audience would think of audio Kevin and you after the fact is really what we see here, right?

REID: Yes.

STEELE: Because the reality of it is, I`m not shocked nor surprised about this. We have had this conversation in the past.

We knew. We all had reporting. You have reported on the conversations that Republicans have privately with vs. the -- what they`re saying publicly. Now we`re actually getting verification of that. Now we`re actually hearing them in their own words in private conversations after the fact that -- about what happened and what they were -- thought -- thinking real time.

But here`s the rub for Kevin McCarthy, for example. The line wasn`t, oh, Kevin`s didn`t say this to "The New York Times" or didn`t say this in the recording. The lie is what he was saying to his caucus.


REID: Yes.

STEELE: The lie is what he was telling them he was going to do as a leader of the caucus, that he was going to go and confront Donald Trump. I`m going to go tell him should he should resign.

And Mitch McConnell asking sheepishly, also, what did you hear about the 25th Amendment? Oh, do tell. Share a little gossip.

But these were people who are not prepared to confront their respective cauci with the truth...

REID: Yes.

STEELE: ... of what they were saying publicly -- what they were saying privately, going forth in front of cameras and saying it publicly.

REID: And, Michael, you and I have talked about this before about the Tea Party, because I think a lot of us missed what the Tea Party was.

The Tea Party was the beginning of this nightmare. And people wanted to ascribe the Tea Party things that -- economic anxiety. It wasn`t true. They had this deep-seated terror about modern -- modernity and change. And you once said to me that the Republican leadership, people like Kevin, people like Mitch, they have a tiger by the tail, and they believe that they can control it.


REID: They believe -- I mean, Kevin McCarthy, today, NBC reporters caught up with him. And they asked him, do you think this is going to hurt your chance to become speaker? And he`s like, no.

They`re -- the arrogance of these people -- and I think MAGA people don`t understand it. These people arrogantly believe that, when they`re on leadership calls, they can call these people crazy, because they`re like, we can control them. Just get their votes, make them vote, and then we will get the tax cuts for our rich donors.


REID: And they genuinely think they can control these people. And they can`t control them.

STEELE: Well, that`s true. I mean, and they know it`s true.

How do we know? Well, they have gone through two speakers before Kevin McCarthy`s turn is up, right?

REID: Yes.

STEELE: There was a Speaker Paul Ryan. There was a Speaker John Boehner. And those very same individuals now in the form of the Freedom Caucus said, bye-bye. So they were done with them. Kevin recognizes that.

What he`s been able to do that Boehner and Ryan were not willing to do, because, at the end of the day, they wanted to keep some semblance of their own dignity intact, was to go forth and pretend that Donald Trump wasn`t the thing that they say he is, and then but privately sit there and go, oh, no Donald Trump, we got to get rid of him.

And so he -- Kevin is willing to do that. He`s willing to go to Mar-a-Lago and grovel. And that`s not something that the others were willing to do. But that tiger by the tail thing, be careful what you think you have in your hand, baby, because...

REID: Yes. Yes.

STEELE: ... it bites hard.

REID: Yes.

STEELE: And Kevin will find that out.

REID: Yes.

STEELE: And I -- what I have heard -- just real quick, what I have heard is that a lot of caucus members are not happy with being played as punks the way he`s played them.

REID: That`s right. They stupid, but they`re not dumb.

STEELE: Right.

REID: Let me go over -- let me add you to this, Senator Doug Jones.

I mean, we know that there is a legitimate reason for them to fear these people electorally. I mean, you, sir, who was a civil rights hero, were replaced by somebody who I`m pretty sure I can hear a dial tone every time I see him on TV. Like, this guy doesn`t know the basics of law or American history, but they`re like, oh, I`d rather have him. He`s MAGA, right?

And so they know that they can be replaced. Good people get replaced all the time by sort of lunatics on the right. So they -- there`s a reason for them to be afraid.

But I wonder about people. You served with Chuck Grassley. This story keeps coming back to me. My poor team. I`m obsessed with it. Chuck Grassley, who is an old-fashioned Republican from Iowa, the day before the insurrection, put out a statement saying that he, and not Vice President Mike Pence, will preside over the certification of the Electoral College votes because -- quote -- "We don`t expect him to be there."

If he understood the plot, and was willing to go along with it, there is no hope for the other party, for the Republicans, right?

FMR. SEN. DOUG JONES (D-AL): Well, look, you can read that if you -- that way if you want to.

I think that he might be also reading it in a way that Pence was part of the Trump crowd. Trump -- Pence was going to go along with it, but they`re not going to let them do that.

I don`t think McConnell and those guys at that point really thought that they were going to overturn the election. I think there were too many in that Senate who were not going to vote to overturn that election. And, quite frankly, I -- yes, I just don`t believe necessarily that Chuck Grassley was part of the group to do that.

But what I do see -- it does seem to me -- that`s the first time I at least remember seeing that -- tells me that he thought Pence wouldn`t, that Pence wouldn`t show up, rather than having to certify his successors, so to speak.

But I do think there`s a problem. And Michael is absolutely right. They do have a tiger by the tail here. It is a problem that they can`t really control. And they are trying to control it from within. And that`s why you see McCarthy, McConnell and others trying to get back into the good graces to try to get their base back under some and kind of control where they can help get good Republicans elected.


But it`s a difficult -- it`s a difficult road right now, given the fractures within the Republican Party.


JONES: We will see how these primaries turn out.

REID: But the problem with that, Senator Jones -- and I have great respect for you -- is that if -- I once interviewed a guy from an organization back in the early aughts, the early 2000s, who said, we`re going to go along with Republicans for now, because they`re the vehicle to get what we want.

This guy was far Christian right.

JONES: Right.

REID: And he said, but there`s going to become a time when we`re going to expect them to actually deliver the things we`re demanding.


REID: The current freshman class of Republicans and freshman class of governors and people who are running now, they`re promising to actually deliver on some of the incredibly extreme things that are being demanded.

They don`t believe in the whole, say that you`re going to be MAGA, but when you get there, just vote for deep tax cuts for the super rich. They actually want that fascistic society retrograde thing. They want to turn back society.


REID: And let me play this for you guys, because one of the things that really does irritate me about this conversation is that -- so this was back in the early 2000s I was hearing this.

They were like, we`re going to -- we`re going to ask to be paid for our support at some point. Here is a mash-up of people who told you all that Trump was not going to leave office. I knew it. People knew that this was coming. Here`s three people who knew it.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY/FIXER FOR DONALD TRUMP: Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that, if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.

BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": That`s what worries me the most about Trump. I keep saying it to everybody who will listen. He`s not going to go, even when he loses, if he loses, in 2020.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That`s my greatest concern, my single greatest concern. This president`s going to try to steal this election.


REID: Senator Jones, that last person is Joe Biden.


REID: It was -- it was -- it should have been common knowledge that Donald Trump was going to attempt to cling to power.

How is it possible that Mitch McConnell, who says all these things -- he put a gun to his head -- he seemed gleeful that he thought that he had been rid of a political problem. He must have known. How could he not have known that this was going to happen?

JONES: I don`t think -- I don`t think, Joy, we`re saying a lot of the same thing.

I agree with you that the -- what was said in the early 2020s by the far right, they are now really controlling all of this. But I still believe McConnell and others think that they have control, when they really don`t. We`re still saying a lot of the same thing.

Now, whether or not he thought that -- really thought that there was going to be violence in the way that they were doing, that`s hard for me to believe. I just got to tell you, it`s hard for me to believe that Mitch McConnell, Chuck Grassley and a number of those Republicans thought there would be an attack on the Capitol the way they had.

Having said that, they knew that there was going to be an issue. They knew what was going on out there, and there was going to be an effort. But they had -- they had enough votes to make sure that this certification was going to go forward.

They knew that. But I think what happened on January 6 was -- caught them completely by surprise, in terms of the violence, not that Trump was not going to go quietly into the dark. They never -- no one expected that. Never expected the violence to turn the way it is.

When it happened, they really thought that the tide had turned, that Trump had overplayed his hand, he was going to be seen as a pariah. He attacked the American democracy in the United States Capitol.

But all of a sudden, 48 hours later, they start singing a different tune, because they see that that MAGA nation out there is still in force, and they`re still in favor, and, all of a sudden, the narrative starts changing, and they go with the flow. And that`s what`s so disappointing about this.

REID: Yes.

JONES: That is the threat to democracy right there.

REID: That...

JONES: It wasn`t just the attack. It`s the way it`s being treated after the attack that is the threat to democracy.

REID: You know what that is called? Senator, that is called cowardice. That is called cowardice.

JONES: Totally agree. Totally agree.

REID: And I`m going to give you the last word on this, Michael Steele.

What happens when the Republicans, because Donald Trump still controls the party, nominate governors, and maybe get some elected, nominate senators, maybe get some elected, and reelect some of these absolute far right extremists who then try again, and there`s no Republican who has the courage to say no, and they let it happen the next time?

STEELE: The hellscape is created.

You think what we went through the last four years, particularly the post- election period, was bad, you`re looking at retributive -- a retributive governance, where heads will roll. The January 6 commission will become the committee to impeach. It will become the committee to investigate Hunter Biden. It will become the kind of nightmarish political landscape for those who have stood up to fight for our democracy.


And it won`t matter whether you`re a Democrat or Republican or an independent. The fact that you were not sycophantically enamored of Donald Trump and Trumpism, that you were not of a political mind like a Kevin McCarthy to bow or bend the knee or just bend over for Donald Trump, you will look to pay a price.

So, the question is not so much about, what will we do when it happens? The question is -- to the country is, what will you do to prevent it?

REID: Amen.

STEELE: Because it begins this November, folks.

JONES: Joy...

REID: Amen.

STEELE: This stuff doesn`t just go away because you don`t think it`s not going to happen.

REID: Amen. Amen.

JONES: And real quick, I will go one step further, Michael.

It won`t matter if you`re Mickey Mouse or Big Bird.

REID: That`s right. That`s right.

JONES: They`re going to come after you.

REID: They are coming after everybody. And that`s what people need to wake up and understand. This is not about Democrats and Republicans.

STEELE: It`s not.

REID: It`s about people who care about democracy and people who don`t.

That`s why I have a Democrat and Republican right on this set saying the exact same thing.

Thank you, Michael Steele and former Senator Doug Jones.

Up next on THE REIDOUT: American oligarchy. Elon Musk and the handful of multibillionaires taking control of fundamental aspects of our lives.

And remember the Tea Party? This is even worse, the sad parade of Trumpian candidates who could be serving in the Senate next year, unless Democrats fight hard.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: As Elon Musk`s deal to take over Twitter is being finalized, the end result is more than just control of a social media platform.

Our nation was founded on the idea that it is we the people who hold the power, it is we the people who elect representatives to exercise that power. But this latest news shines a light on the plutocratic republic that we are unfortunately very quickly turning into, where it`s not only we the people, but the ultra-wealthy who wield the power, who control so many of the institutions that have become fundamental to our lives.

As David Atkins, a Democratic National Committee member from California, puts it: "Elon Musk is trying to buy the conversation. Peter Thiel is trying to buy a dictatorship. Jeff Bezos is trying to buy the marketplace. Mark Zuckerberg is trying to buy our minds. Taxing the rich isn`t just about helping the poor. It`s about stopping them from owning everything."

With me now, Jason Johnson, professor of journalism and politics at Morgan State University and host of the slate podcast "A Word With Jason Johnson."

And, Jason, thank you for being on.

It is -- I think it was distressing to a lot of people, not least of which the people who work at Twitter...


REID: ... who, in their internal slacks, are really wring -- a lot of them are wringing their hands, probably not all of them, but a lot of them are just worried about what becomes of their company.

Elon Musk`s companies have a history of open racism. There`s been this lawsuit against Tesla.


REID: And he himself is a troll.


REID: So, his idea of freedom means freedom to be a jerk and to be cruel and to have no one be able to stop you. What do you make of this takeover?

JOHNSON: It`s a real concern.

Joy, I was actually talking with my students at Morgan State about this today. And I said, look, imagine if the worst, most obnoxious person you have ever met had access to all your D.M.s...

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: ... and has the right to put them out whenever they want.

Like, that is essentially what people are looking at. And I think, Joy, that the real concern here, we have the larger questions about multibillionaires running conversations. We have the larger questions about our political discourse.

But what we`re really also talking about here is when and how our federal government will recognize that social media is also news...

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: ... that social media is a public workplace, that social media is something that we have to stop pretending that it`s just teenagers and smart guys out of Harvard and Silicon Valley who don`t know what they`re doing.

You have politically minded people, like Elon Musk, who are trying to dominate public discourse around the world. And governments need to get involved.

REID: I mean, Elon Musk seems to me he keeps protesting too much.

First, he came out and tweeted: Oh, I hope my worst critics don`t leave.

Yes, buddy, because you know, if the smart people and the people who criticize you leave, Twitter will have no value without the content that you get for free from intelligent people like Charles Blow...


REID: ... and the attacks on people like Charles Blow from far right people who just enjoy attacking particularly black people on social media.

So, he tweets today, "By free speech" -- he`s trying to sort of recontextualize what he means by that -- "I simply mean that which matches the law. I`m against censorship that goes beyond the law. If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people."

It sounds like a bunch of gibberish. We have a First Amendment. There is no free speech problem. Twitter is not the government. Twitter is a private company that can say, no, you`re not allowed to be a Nazi on Twitter.

JOHNSON: Joy, it`s always been trash.

Look, I tweeted this. We all know why Elon Musk wants to control Twitter. We know why the right wants to control Twitter, right? They don`t want to go to their own club.


JOHNSON: They don`t want to go hang out at the Honky-Tonk. They want to go to the club where the cool people are.

REID: Correct.

JOHNSON: And so they know they can`t get in unless they buy the entire block.

REID: Correct.

JOHNSON: And the problem is, if they just wanted to come in and hang out with everybody, it`s fine.

But they want to act like Logan Roy from "Succession." They want to come in and dominate everything and push everybody around and frame that as a free speech conversation, when, really, you`re being a Bond villain.

REID: And the bottom line is, as you said, if they want -- they don`t want to just be in the club. They are the -- they are on the -- they have been described as being on the outside of the culture looking in through the glass.


But they don`t just want to come in. They want to come in and be able to punch people in the face and walk around and laugh about it...


REID: ... and not have anyone be able to stop them.

The thing is, the only -- the enjoyment they get out of being in this town square is being able to harass people, being able to attack people. There was a time when people had the double hashtags around their names because they were Jewish, and right-wingers were saying "Get in the oven" anytime you made any benign comment on Twitter.


REID: They attacked women, that the misogyny was crazy on Twitter for a while.

Elon Musk, I guess he misses the old South Africa in the `80s. He wants that back.


JOHNSON: Look, he wants to bring the old crew back together.

He wants to bring -- Trump claims he`s not going to come in. Trump can`t resist it.

REID: Yes. You`re right.

JOHNSON: Trump is going to come back.

REID: Of course he is.

JOHNSON: Milo Yiannopoulos, all those people are going to come back.

REID: All of them.

JOHNSON: But, again, I think the important thing we got to remember is, even if he does this, even if he does this, it`s still incumbent upon the people who are actually participating in Twitter to decide how they want to react and interact with this new world.

I know there`s somebody out there in this audience right now with a brilliant idea. And just like we never thought we were going to move past MySpace, we did. We went to Facebook.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: Something else can follow Twitter, if it`s being run by a terrible person.

REID: That`s right. That`s right.

JOHNSON: I don`t doubt that there`s some genius person out there.

And that`s essentially what`s going to happen. We may see another great migration off of the Twitter platform if it turns out to be a place...

REID: A hundred percent..

JOHNSON: And here`s also why I got to say this Joy about public spaces.

Again, you can make regulations that, look, if you`re running a public space, people have to be treated well. If I go into Starbucks, people can`t throw coffee in my face, no matter how cheap I may want to be with my latte.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: You can`t throw coffee in my face.

You can say, hey, look, Elon, you can run this social media site, but you still have to abide by basic structural laws that we have in society about how people are treated. There are things that can be done. We just don`t have a government that has got the will or the interest in doing it right now.

REID: And here`s the irony. And I have to go on this.

But the irony is, if Elon Musk makes this a place where Elon Musk is entirely comfortable with the free speech, it will lose value, because people will be like: I`m done.


REID: But people won`t stay. People aren`t going to be there to be abused by MAGA.

I know you all think that we have an entitlement to hear you scream at us. But people don`t have to stay for that. Baby, they can go, OK?

Anyway, Jason Johnson, thank you very much, my friend. Appreciate you.

Still ahead: Russian forces continue to pound Eastern and Southern Ukraine, as U.S. officials vow to move heaven and earth to keep the military supplies coming.

We will bring you that next.




LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We had a warm, candid, and productive discussion with President Zelenskyy and his team about the support that we`re providing and the capabilities that Ukraine needs.

So I`d like this whole group to leave today with a common and transparent understanding of Ukraine`s near-term security requirements, because we`re going to keep on moving heaven and earth to meet them.

The coming weeks will be so crucial for Ukraine. So we got to move at the speed of war.


REID: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is again making a strong show of support for Ukraine.

In Europe, he met with his counterparts to discuss Ukraine security. And Germany`s defense minister announced that, in a huge shift for them, Germany will supply Ukraine with heavy weaponry. Austin also reaffirmed his striking statement yesterday that the U.S. goal is for Russia to be weakened militarily, saying today that the U.S. wants to make it harder for Russia to threaten its neighbors, which we should note they have already done to Moldova.

This comes as Russia shows zero signs of backing down. Today, they said they plan to cut off the gas supply to Poland and Bulgaria after those countries rejected Russia`s request to bypass sanctions and pay in rubles. And, more alarming, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that there is significant risk of nuclear war, placing the blame on the West and Ukraine, despite the obvious fact that Russia started and has continued this unprovoked war and humanitarian crisis.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian National Guard said today that the steel plant in Mariupol, where 2,000 civilians are sheltered with limited access to food, water and medication, has been hit 35 times in 24 hours. NBC News cannot verify those numbers.

Join me now is Amna Nawaz, chief correspondent for "PBS NewsHour" and an MSNBC contributor.

And, Amna, thank you for being here. I want to start with Mariupol.

The U.N. secretary-general, per these reports, met with Putin, with the Russian dictator, who claims that he agreed to allow the United Nations and the Red Cross to evacuate Mariupol residents. Is there any way to verify whether that is a trustworthy promise or whether or not this is some other scheme?

AMNA NAWAZ, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Joy, unfortunately, the story with Putin and anything that comes out of those meetings is always the same, that people come out of the meeting with one understanding, and then either very quickly soon after or in the days that follow whatever that message that was first delivered is sort of undermined and unraveled.

And that seems to have happened again after this last meeting with the U.N. secretary-general, who thought he was walking away with some kind of agreement in place to begin to evacuate some of those civilians that we know have been sheltering in that steel plant in Mariupol.

And just to remind people, that city has been under absolute bombardment. It has been completely leveled. And there is a holdout force there, that they are sending messages saying they`re still fighting the Russian forces there, even as Russia says they have taken the city.

But there are civilians there. There are absolutely civilians who have been trapped. Evacuation buses have tried from the Red Cross, from ICRC previously to move people out. I know sources who are linked to Mariupol. City officials who aren`t there but are in touch with people tell me they have been able to get out private citizens, limited evacuation buses, but it`s been nothing but brutality from Russia.


REID: Yes. And...

NAWAZ: And soon after the meeting with the U.N. secretary-general, of course, Putin was saying that was not the agreement.

REID: And the other issue is that, whenever Russia says evacuations will be allowed, they simply mean they`re going to put people on buses and send them into Russia, which has been the history, unfortunately, which -- what amounts to ethnic cleansing and kidnapping.

Let`s talk about this reporting. And this is reporting from NBC News that there`s been significant, much more significant intel-sharing that we might have heard about. This is what the report says, that U.S. intelligence helped Ukraine to protect its air defenses and shoot down a Russian plane carrying hundreds of troops.

It was part of what American officials call a massive and unprecedented intelligence-sharing operation with a non-NATO partner they say has played a crucial role in Ukraine`s success to date in the -- against the larger and better-equipped Russian forces.

Is there -- is there evidence that not just the U.S., but other NATO countries are actually doing more to close the skies, as Ukrainian officials have been demanding, than they are openly reporting?

NAWAZ: So they will not actually admit that on the record.

But I think what`s been clear, what we have seen as a pattern is that all of the NATO nations have seen, the longer this goes on, clearly, they need to be doing more to make sure not just that they hold off Russia, that Ukrainian forces can defend themselves, that the Russian forces and Russian leaders are incentivized to come to the negotiating table, but that Ukraine wins, and wins decisively.

And we have seen that shift in the last few days, as you saw there with Secretary of Defense Austin too saying they want Russia weakened. This is not just about holding off them and the Russian forces. This is about making sure they lose so decisively, they will never take this kind of action again.

REID: Yes.

NAWAZ: So it wouldn`t be surprising if they are doing everything they can not just on the military front, but also on the intelligence front, because that`s what Zelenskyy has been asking from -- for from the beginning.

REID: Yes.

NAWAZ: Help us close the skies.

REID: Yes, indeed.

And let`s talk about Moldova, because the -- Zelenskyy has also been saying, if you all think that they`re going to stop, that Russia is going to stop with Ukraine, you`re kidding yourselves They`re going to try for other countries too.

Moldova is now experiencing this. Ukraine`s Ministry of Defense has described the recent attacks on Moldova as false flag operations staged by Russia`s Federal Security Service to spark panic and provide a potential pretext for mobilizing Russian troops in the Transnistria region to attack Ukraine.

Is -- it seems to me that Russia is so spread thin and doing such a poor job of occupying the country -- the parts of the country that they have, that they wouldn`t have enough defense capability to attack another country. And yet that`s what we`re hearing, that there is activity in Moldova.

How much activity, and how bad?

NAWAZ: Well, we can`t verify some of these reports.

But we know that these false flag operations are a part of the Russian playbook. We saw them even leading up to the war in Ukraine, which is now reaching two months old. And so we shouldn`t be surprised by those kinds of things, because, actually, NATO allies and the Western officials I have been talking say the broadening of this war is exactly what they have been most concerned about.

And it`s not just about Russia unprovoked launching additional false flag operations and potential territorial encroachments into other areas. There`s also the fact that those supply lines going in to Ukrainian forces, which are now concentrated largely on fighting in the eastern part of the country, those have to make their way in.

They`re going in, obviously, via the Western border from NATO-allied territories, but they have to make their way all the way across the country. And there is growing concern among many of the officials I talk to that Russia will do something to try to interdict those supply lines and those logistics supply lines.

That could broaden the war. That is one of the worst-case scenarios. And the longer this goes on, the more those supplies are going in. That heightens the concerns about that as well.

REID: Yes, indeed.

Amna Nawaz, thank you very much. Always appreciate having you here.

And up next, you all remember the Tea Party? You guys remember that movement, right, the Colonial era costumes, the hats with dangly tea bags, the gross and often misspelled racism? Well, who could have predicted that that movement would evolve into an effort to end American democracy?

Stay with us.



REID: America, I just want you to get a whiff of the potpourri of candidates that Republicans are putting forward.

There`s "Hillbilly Elegy" venture capitalist J.D. Vance in Ohio, who makes up in hypocrisy for what he lacks in personality. He just got the endorsement of the one-term, twice-impeached former president who he once called an idiot and maybe America`s Hitler.

Trump`s endorsement was so out of left field that wackadoo General Mike Flynn called it a huge mistake. Flynn is backing Josh Mandel, who has copied Trump in pretty much every way, including his xenophobia, racism and bigotry, while adding the twist of using Twitter to attempt to lecture Dr. King`s daughter about Dr. King.

Then there is Kari Lake, the Trump-backed candidate who is running for governor of Arizona. The former TV anchor at FOX affiliate -- at a FOX affiliate in Phoenix who has appeared with Nazi sympathizers is all in on the big lie. On Friday, she joined another democracy denier in suing the state that she wants to lead, asking a federal judge to ban the use of tabulation machines in the upcoming election.

Now, it should come as no surprise that the lawsuit is being paid for by the MyPillow loon and Trump fanboy Mike Lindell. Their claim is that the machines stole the election from Trump, and they don`t want it to happen again.

I guess it`s easier to believe that then the fact that millions of Arizonans were just sick of the orange buffoon.


Then there`s once-respected NFL star Herschel Walker of Georgia, whose campaign has lied about his high school accolades, overstated his business accomplishments, and straight up avoided talking about his history of violent outbursts.

According to court reports obtained by the Associated Press, Walker`s ex- wife security protective order against him alleging violent and controlling behavior. She once told ABC News that Walker pointed a gun to her head and threatened to blow her F-ing brains out. Charming.

A judge was so troubled by Walker`s behavior that he not only found it to be good cause to issue a protective order. He also barred Walker from possessing guns for a period of time -- in Georgia.

And then there is Eric Greitens, the former governor of Missouri, who was forced to resign in 2018 amid multiple scandals, including accusations that he sexually assaulted and blackmailed his former hairdresser, allegations he denies.

In March, his ex-wife filed an affidavit, under the penalty of prosecution for lying, that Greitens was physically abusive toward her and their children. He has denied the claims.

But that has not stopped a number of Republicans, including pro- insurrectionist Josh Hawley, to call on him to drop out of the race. Naturally, that didn`t stop Fredo Corleone, I mean, Don Jr., who joined the alleged abuser at the gun range.



DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: Striking fear in the hearts of liberals everywhere, folks.



FMR. GOV. ERIC GREITENS (R-MO): Liberals, beware.



REID: So, what`s the implied threat there, that you`re going to, like, shoot people for being liberal?


And let`s not forget about the original unhinged conspiracy theorist elected to the United States Senate from Kentucky, Rand Paul. Now, he is a good example of just how feckless and anti-democratic this slate of candidates will be in office.

After the break, you will get a heaping spoonful of his kind of bananas, and it ain`t pudding.




SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): There could have been voices before this invasion, instead of agitating for something that we knew our adversary absolutely hated and said was a red line as recently as last September, before you signed the agreement once again agitating for NATO, Russia said that it was a red line.

Now, there is no justification for the invasion. I`m not saying that. But there are reasons for the invasion.


REID: Ah, but you are justifying it, Rand.

Yes, that was Rand Paul parroting Vladimir Putin, the dictator of Russia`s propaganda today. He later took that lunacy even further with talking points straight from Putin`s handbook, telling Secretary of State Tony Blinken, who recently returned from Kyiv, that Ukraine isn`t exactly its own country.


PAUL: You could also argue the countries they have attacked were part of Russia.


PAUL: Or were part of the Soviet.

BLINKEN: Yes, and I firmly disagree with that proposition.

It is the fundamental right of these countries to decide their own future and their own destiny.


PAUL: I`m not saying it`s not. But I`m saying that the countries that have been attacked, Georgia and Ukraine, were part of the Soviet Union.

BLINKEN: And that does not give Russia any right to attack them.

PAUL: And they were part of the Soviet Union since the 1920s.

BLINKEN: But that does not give -- that does not give Russia the right to attack them.


REID: Whew. None of that, none of that is surprising from the most the isolationist son of isolationist perpetual presidential candidate Ron Paul.

In fact, it is part of Rand`s origin story, as the O.G. Tea Party candidate. And make no mistake, Rand Paul is just as wacky as the current crop of extreme G.Q. peers.

Back in 2010, he cited his outsider bona fides as a doctor, an ophthalmologist, just not certified by the national body, but rather by an organization that he himself operated, which may explain his quackery crusading to have actual Dr. Anthony Fauci fired in the middle of a pandemic.

Also, back in 2010, you may remember that demurred when "Louisville Courier-Journal" -- or "The Louisville Courier-Journal" asked if he would have voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And then he tried to explain his views in an interview with Rachel Maddow.


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": How about segregating lunch counters? Lunch counters?


PAUL: Well, what it gets into is, is that then if you decide that restaurants are publicly owned, and not privately owned, does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant, or does the government own his restaurant?

These are important philosophical debates, but not a very practical discussion.


REID: Yes, not very practical.

Joining me now, Charles Booker, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Kentucky and author of the brand-new book "From the Hood to the Holler: A Story of Separate Worlds, Shared Dreams, and the Fight for America`s Future," an apt title today, Charles Booker.

Thank you for being here.

Let`s talk about Rand Paul. Let`s start with the Mexico -- I mean, we will start with the Ukraine comments that he made, because saying that Ukraine is not a real country and that it -- well, it used to be part of the USSR, well, that`s like saying the United States used to be part of Mexico, because a big old chunk of it used to.

So, I guess if Mexico decided to invade Texas and California and New Mexico, would he say, well, I mean, it used to be part of Mexico?

CHARLES BOOKER (D), KENTUCKY SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, I joined the country in shaking my head at Rand Paul. He is a joke in every sense of the word.

And what he showed today is just the latest example of him opposing democracy and choosing to side with Vladimir Putin over the lives of innocent people who are seeking, striving to find and realize democracy.


I can`t wrap my mind around it, but we need to get him out of the way. He is stoking these divides. He is fanning hate. He is making a mockery of Kentuckians, while we struggle with generational poverty and are fighting to survive.

And this is why I`m running the campaign to beat him and building the movement to build an infrastructure, so that we don`t have Rand Pauls again in office, at the state, federal or local level.

REID: Can you think of -- when you talk to constituents in Kentucky, what do Republicans who talk to you say that Rand Paul has delivered for the state?

BOOKER: When I talk to people across Kentucky, Democrats, Republicans, independents, and I mention the name Rand Paul, what typically follows is laughter. People see him as a joke. They see him as an embarrassment.

And he is. But the reality is, most people don`t know what he does. And so by us calling out the fact that he is profiting from our pain, as the pandemic has really crushed so many of us in Kentucky, he`s saying burn your masks, don`t worry about vaccines, while his family is getting stuck in remdesivir. He`s been selling us out.

And the story that I`m lifting up and even why I even wrote the book "From the Hood to the Holler" is, how do we build the coalitions to make sure that we get clowns like Rand Paul out of office and protect our fight for our future?

And because of this work, I have over 20,000 volunteers, and a lot of them still got the MAGA hat, because our issues are bigger than party.

REID: Well, let me read a little bit from your book.

This an excerpt from "From the Hood to the Holler," your book.

It says -- and this is about running for Senate in 2020 when you ran against Mitch McConnell.

You wrote: "Of course, the fact that McConnell was run Kentucky like an old-school political boss wouldn`t be as much of a problem if Mitch McConnell were still the man he made himself out to be at the start of his career. Our junior senator, Rand Paul, is the worst kind of true believer."

We learned today that Mitch McConnell, there -- he`s two people. He`s the person who said he was exhilarated, I feel -- I felt exhilarated by the fact that this fellow, Trump, I mean, just totally discredited himself, he told Jonathan Martin. He asked about the 25th Amendment. He said Trump finally put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Couldn`t have happened at a better time.

He is -- he seems to be such an pure political animal with no soul inside of him. What was he when he first ran? Was he -- you insinuate in your book that he wasn`t always like that.

BOOKER: Well, you`re right. Mitch McConnell has no soul at this point.

But in the beginning of his career, before I was born, he supported organized labor. He supported expanding health care. He supported women`s rights. In a lot of ways, he would condemn himself now. But it just shows the hypocrisy in the pursuit of power at all costs.

And, look, as a Kentuckian, we have Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, I want to do my part and get rid of one of them and keep Mitch McConnell out of the majority seat. And I`m asking everybody to go to and help us in this effort, because the people of Kentucky are not being represented by clowns like Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul.

REID: There are a lot of people who have said to me about your race when you ran against Mitch McConnell that, had the national Democratic Party paid attention and not sort of leaned in favor of your then-primary opponent because he was a self-funder, there are other demographic and other reasons -- and the dismissal of a state like Kentucky as being competitive.

I asked my producers to pull this Mitch McConnell. His last reelection against Amy McGrath was 57.8 percent of the vote that he got. That`s -- it`s over half. Rand Paul also got about 57 percent. But this state, your state has a Democratic governor. And he won real narrowly, but he got half the vote.

That means that it is possible to win a Democrat -- for a Democrat to win. What would you say back to people who are not going to pay attention to the Kentucky race, to the Rand Paul reelect, because they say, well, that`s Kentucky, that`s a Republican state?

BOOKER: Well, look, we ignore places like Kentucky to our collective detriment.

Kentucky is the type of place that gave rise to the Donald Trumps. We have seen plenty of them. And what I`m showing in this campaign and what I`m fighting for now is not just about beating a terrible politician, but it`s about healing. It`s about our pursuit of democracy.

It`s about making sure that everyone can live a gainful life. And what I`m asking folks to do is take a look again. Look at the infrastructure and the work that we`re building, the movement that we`re building, taking pages from the playbook that Georgia helped to show to the country, and adding our own chapter.

If we lift up a vision that inspires people to believe things can be different, if we listen to the people in quit playing the political games, we can build a coalition and change our future.

And I`m proud of what we`re doing here in Kentucky. And we`re going to blow out Rand Paul. And I`m asking everyone to join me in making sure we get that done.

REID: And I should note that Andy Beshear, the current Governor Beshear is the second Governor Beshear. There is -- it`s not like he`s the first Democratic governor in like 100 years. His father was also governor.

Is Kentucky politics name-based or is it issue-based?

BOOKER: It really is issue-based.

REID: Yes.

BOOKER: If you look at the map, a lot of folks that voted for Donald Trump also voted for Bernie Sanders.

REID: Yes.

BOOKER: This is not about party.

REID: Yes.

BOOKER: It`s about who`s actually going to fight for us.

REID: Yes.

Senate candidate Charles Booker, good luck, of Kentucky. Thank you very much, from -- author up "From the Hood to the Holler."

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.