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Transcript: The ReidOut, 4/4/22

Guests: Gregory Gordon, Inna Sovsun, Amna Nawaz


Russian Troops accused of war crimes in Bucha. Bodies of hundreds of Bucha civilians in mass graves. Bucha survivors share harrowing accounts of massacre. Zelenskyy says Bucha massacre a war crime, genocide. World leaders condemn alleged atrocities in Bucha.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Don`t get me started on the Grammys.

Now, he did join us on THE BEAT back a couple years ago and talked about performing with Stevie Wonders, his views on creativity, and at one point kind of broken to an impromptu performance.


JON BATISTE, SINGER: Man, I love that moment.


MELBER: We did too. A big congratulations. He gets the last word with the last notes. And as he said last night, we recognized artist, we don`t even need to rank them.

That does it for us. THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with Russia accused of war crimes after scenes of utter hell emerged in Ukraine over the weekend with hundreds of bodies found strewn around towns outside the capital of Kyiv following the Russian withdrawal from that area. The new evidence appears to show deliberate killings of innocent, unarmed civilians.

Now a warning, maybe send the kids out of the room because the pictures we`re about to show you are very disturbing.

The horrors are unimaginable. A trail of dead bodies in Bucha, bodies with bound hands, some seemingly shot at close range, and signs of torture, people buried in mass graves while others were left lying on the street, like this lifeless body next to a bike.

Bucha residents who survived shared their harrowing accounts of what they saw.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those people were just walking and they shot them without any reason, bang. In the next neighborhood, it was even worse. They would shoot without asking any questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He went to get some food when all of the sudden the Russians started shooting. They hit him a bit above the heel, crashing the bone and he fell down. The shooter shouted, don`t scream, or I will shoot, and they turned away. Then they shot off his left leg completely. Then they shot him all over the chest and another shot went slightly below the temple. It was a controlled shot to the head.


REID: Here is President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Bucha today on how this moment will be remembered.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: This is a war crime and it will be recognized by the world as genocide. You are here and you see what has happened. We know thousands of people were killed and tortured with severed limbs, raped women, killed children. I think this is genocide.


REID: The images of battered bodies and corpses left out in the open have triggered fresh worldwide revulsion over Putin`s war, with world leaders calling for tougher sanctions against Moscow. President Biden again today called Vladimir Putin a war criminal.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: You may remember, I got criticized for calling Putin a war criminal. Well, the truth of the matter is so it happened in Bucha. This warrants him he is a war criminal. But we have to gather the information. We have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue to fight and we have to get all the detail so this could be actually have a war crime trial. This guy is brutal and what is happening in Bucha is outrageous and everyone seen it.

REPORTER: Can you actually hold Putin accountable when you call him a war criminal?

BIDEN: He should be held accountable.


REID: Russia, for its part, has dismissed the images of the executed, unarmed civilians as fake and staged as a provocation to malign Russian forces. The chair of the United Nations Security Council is refusing Russia`s request to hold an emergency meeting on the Kremlin`s outlandish claim.

Deny and deflect, the Russian dictator behaving like a Russian Alex Jones, the American conspiracy theorist who cult the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut that killed 26 people, including 20 first graders a hoax, only much worse, in that the person responsible for the carnage in Ukraine is Putin himself.

Joining me now is MSNBC Anchor and Correspondent Ali Velshi in Lviv. And, Ali, we are seeing images that are almost unreal. It`s Armageddon-like images. And now, for Putin to dare to say we`re not seeing what we`re seeing, it`s outrageous. What are you seeing and what are you hearing in Lviv?

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Yes. And I have to say, it`s not just Vladimir Putin, it`s being reflected in conspiracy theory U.S. based media as well. The idea that were only have proof, we don`t really know what happened. We don`t know who killed these people. Then there`s satellite imagery that shows that these bodies were there before the Russians left. So, this idea that the Russians left and then somehow Ukrainians came in and killed these people, it`s remarkable, that`s now been proved.


And now the conspiracy theorists, including Russia, are saying, well, the people who take the satellite images are U.S. defense contractors.

So it`s -- the problem is people are bearing witness. We`ve got -- you`re going to be speaking to a member of parliament. We`re seeing people who have been in there who have taken videos, not just the ones that you`re seeing on T.V., independently, they have sent these videos of dead bodies on the streets. And I think it has changed a few things.

Lithuania has decided it`s not taking any oil and gas from Russia. You`re hearing Romania making promises. France has expelled Russian diplomats. Germany has said that it was incorrect to suggest that it didn`t want to have that pipeline from Russia to Germany to provide natural gas. So, something has changed and what the president has said is we need to collect and investigate these as war crimes.

Now, in here, in Ukraine, people are going a step further. They`re saying it`s genocide because the Russians have been saying that Ukraine is not really a country and these people need to be annihilated. So, when you put the two things together, it does looks like targeting killings of civilians on a mass scale and that has changed the tone here.

Here, there was some hope that there might be a settlement that the Russians might be pulling out. Now, the tone of elected people and people in the streets of Ukraine is, we are collecting this evidence. There will be war crimes. There will be prosecutions and Russia will be held responsible. It`s not just now about winning this war, it`s about prosecuting Russians for doing what they`re doing.

The question that remains to be answered, however, Joy is what will the rest of the world do. What will Europe do and the E.U. do and what will NATO do now that we have all borne witness to these dead bodies in the streets, civilians who were killed, in some cases, execution style and allegations of rape?

REID: Unbelievable. Yes, what will the world do? That is the question of the day. Ali Velshi, my friend, thank you very much, always a pleasure to speak with you. Stay safe. And thank you.

I`m joined now Inna Sovsun, a Member of the Ukrainian Parliament, and Amna Nawaz, Chief Correspondent for PBS NewsHour.

I am going to start with you, M.P. Sovsun. The New York Times, as Ali accurately mentioned, they`ve put out these satellite images, which bring the lie to what Russia, the Kremlin is claiming. And although they are still trying to claim these are hoax, these are satellite images. This is the proof that they are committing mass genocide. Is there any sense of hope among Ukrainians at this point that anyone is ever going to pay for these crimes?

INNA SOVSUN, MEMBER OF UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT: Well, that truly depends upon the investigation. There is an investigation that was started by the International Criminal Court. We`re grateful for that. Ukrainian authorities are fully cooperating with those because we want to bring justice to the victims for those war crimes.

And the question whether the justice will be done is complicated. Now we do realize that those proceedings take time, they take effort and they also take cooperation from the Russian side in this case. Our only hope is that Putin is not there forever and he will begin at some point. And even will take us years, we just have to get justice for what has been done to those cities, to those people in Bucha and many other cities around Kyiv. So, we understand it`s complicated but we shall definitely seek justice.

REID: And, M.P. Sovsun, to stay with you for just a moment. I mean, you posted a very moving tweet, in which you talked about the Bucha massacre, and you talked about seeing a woman`s body and she reminded -- the shoes she was wearing reminded you of shoes you have and that image stuck in your head.

Just talk about what this is like for you to experience this as a Ukrainian woman, a young Ukrainian woman seeing this slaughter of people who, as you said, are just like you.

SOVSUN: It`s so painful. You have to realize that Bucha is really close to Kyiv. Bucha is the place that me and my boyfriend would go for a nice walk during the weekend. There`s a lovely park. It`s nice neighborhood, just a nice place to be in. And now I`m seeing those streets and I keep remembering like this is where we have been to and now they look like this.

And the people who live there, they`re just exactly like me, like middle class working in Kyiv. We have the same taste. Like this image that I saw, I can`t find it again. But I just saw and I saw the sneakers. I was thinking, like those are the sneakers just like the one I had. And it`s silly I pointed that out, actually. But I talked to a friend of mine and he said, you know what, I was afraid of seeing someone but I actually saw a guys wearing the shoes exactly the same as I have and that also stuck in my head.

So, this understanding that those are just the same people as we are is for some reason is just making it more alive. And also it makes us understand that this is random. It could have been any one of us. It could have been me. It could have been any of my friends.


Those people did nothing wrong. They just happen to be in the wrong place where the Russians came and this understanding that they`re just like us and they have been killed. It`s just making it so very real.

I still can`t comprehend that this has actually happened but this has happened and it keeps on happening, and that is hit another important message I want to leave you with. It is still happening in other cities in the rest of Ukraine that Russians have taken under control. And what we`re asking for, not just investigation of those crimes already committed but also please help us stop the crimes that are being committed now as we speak. And the only way, unfortunately, to do that is not sanctions but more weapons to the Ukrainian army so we can stop that from continuing to happen.

REID: And, Amna Nawaz, let me bring you in here. I mean, there is a sense of sort of helplessness that starts to set in as we report this story from say far away. I mean, were hearing report of the Red Cross being prevented from getting in the previous city that we said it look like Armageddon, Mariupol, and not being able to get in.

What is the thinking at least at the -- from your reporting on what can be done? The U.S. is moving to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Counsel. You have Germany kind of going back and forth on saying, well, you can`t stop all -- you know, buying all the oil from Russia because that would hurt Germany and Europe more than Russia but that doesn`t seem to make sense to me.

Is there thinking in the international community about what concretely can be done other than, of course, providing more weapons so that Ukrainians can defend themselves?

AMNA NAWAZ, PBS NEWSHOUR CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Joy, there is absolutely thinking, there`s absolutely conservations and there is a lot of debate. I mean, one thing I think we need to point out that I want to make sure resonates with anyone watching this and anyone who I know a lot of times you get questions why we show the pictures we do and I know you and your team have taken, gone to great lengths to make sure that you`re showing them in the most respectful way you can, these horrifying images, I think people should know, we have been, I have been spending most of the day going through folder after folder of videos and images that are being sent to me from sources on the ground all across Ukraine, images that we would never broadcast because they are just too horrifying. And even describing them feels absolutely inhuman.

So, it`s absolutely true. These things are being seen by the same U.S. officials and European officials, G7 officials and NATO and others. They`re seeing them, as well. And these are the kind of images that do tend to change the conversation just in the way that the very images of the bombing and the airstrikes after they began on February 24th changed the conversation across the world.

And when I talked to senior officials, what they`re saying now is, as they said publicly, they will be rolling out more sanctions, tougher sanctions. Bucha, they say, has absolutely changed the conversation. It will be taken into consideration. But there are obviously a number of consequences that they`re weighing. They will continue to provide the military support, they say, that Ukrainians need to continue fighting. They will continue to provide humanitarian aid to the extent they can even get it into the places that need to go and, of course, the economic support.

The sanctions, they say, seem to be one of the toughest tools they have without engaging directly, which we know has been their main point they want to avoid. They want to avoid direct engagement of U.S. or NATO forces with Russian forces. But those sanctions, they also warn, Joy, will take time. And this is where we kind of press back and forth, which is how much time? We heard Jake Sullivan the National Security Adviser briefing White House reporters today answering the question and basically saying we are moving into what could very likely be a protracted stage of this conflict.

We`ve been talking about weeks so far. We are now more than five weeks into this war. He warned that ahead we could be talking about weeks and months of fighting ahead. And that changes the conversation.

Now, it also changes the conversation when you`re talking about how to pressure Russia. The sanctions are having an impact, absolutely. They`ve devastated the economy. The oligarchs and those who enable Putin and Putin himself have all been hit and are impacted. Everyday Russians are being impacted. But beyond that additional sanctions will take time. It will take time for economies like Germany to wean themselves off of dependency on Russian oil and gas.

So, we`re hearing a shift in the timeline. This seems to be a much more longer timeline. U.S. and European officials are talking about, and that is, quite frankly, horrifying to think about what could happen in that time on the ground.

REID: Indeed. Well, you know who is being forced to see those images? Ukrainian men, women and children. And who does not have that time? Ukrainian men, women and children. They don`t have time to wait for these things to kick in. It is an absolute tragedy. I want to thank Member of Parliament Inna Sovsun and Amna Nawaz. Thank you both very much.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, the case for prosecuting Vladimir Putin for war crimes, there is a precedent, but, unfortunately, heads of state often do get away with murderous crimes.


Also, within the past hour, another hurdle was cleared in the historic Supreme Court nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as her nomination advance goes to the full U.S. Senate.

Plus, President Biden is reportedly just as frustrated as the rest of us are, that Attorney General Merrick Garland appears to be dragging his feet on his investigation of the January 6th insurrection.

And as the COVID death toll nears 1 million in this country, a new report from the Poor People`s Campaign shows the enormous disparity in the number of COVID deaths in rich and poor communities.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: With the massacre of innocent civilians in Bucha, Vladimir Putin is again being accused of committing genocide and war crimes.

And these are not just loose words. The two terms are important legal definitions that could be used in a potential prosecution. The terms apply to anyone who violates a set of rules adopted by world leaders known as the law of armed conflict.

If indicted, Putin would join the butcher of the Balkans, former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who, in 1999, was indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity for his central role in the murder of roughly 200,000 civilians in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.

Now, again, we want to warn you about some of the images that you`re about to see. They`re disturbing. Images of mass graves similar to those in Bucha are seared into our collective memory.

Milosevic became the first sitting head of state to be charged with war crimes. In 2001, he was extradited to The Hague and forced to stand trial.

My NBC colleague Ron Allen covered the trial when it began.


RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Milosevic claimed Serbs were the real victims during the war in Bosnia. He denies even knowing about prison camps where thousands of his enemies were tortured and killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some time ago, he was untouchable. Now he`s in court. And it`s great.

ALLEN: Milosevic faces 66 charges. Each could send him to prison for life. But prosecutors must connect him to specific crimes and convince three judges Milosevic knew atrocities were taking place and approved what was happening.


REID: Milosevic died while in custody before he could be convicted of his crimes. And, sadly, justice remains elusive for many of the victims of war.

In 2013, nearly 40 soldiers for the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who were accused of raping hundreds of women and dozens of girls, faced a criminal tribunal for their crimes. But only two were convicted. The rest were cleared. The Second Congo War, as it was called, the deadliest since World War II, took the lives of more than five million people, including those who died of disease and starvation.

And Syria`s Bashar al-Assad, a butcher in his own right, has never face justice for the crimes he and Russia perpetrated together against the Syrian people. In fact, the defiant dictator has recently reemerged on the world scene, unrepentant.

Joining me now, Gregory Gordon, professor of law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and a former war crimes prosecutor for the United Nations and the U.S. Justice Department.

Sir, thank you so much for being here.

I want to start by asking you, what are the rules for deciding whether these crimes of war that we can see with our naked eyes, whether in Bucha or what Milosevic did, are literally war crimes or just horrible?

GREGORY GORDON, FORMER WAR CRIMES PROSECUTOR: Well, we have to look at the legal standards that have been agreed upon.

And, primarily, we can look at the Geneva Conventions. And those have then been incorporated into the International Criminal Court statute. And there is an investigation being conducted right now by the International Criminal Court into war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by Russians, Russian forces in Ukraine right now.

And so what will happen is, they will gather that evidence, and they will look at the specific elements of the crimes, because there are a number of crimes that we`re seeing here. Some of those relate to grave breaches in terms of attacks directly on people, the images we`re seeing now for Bucha, which indicate that civilians were targeted.

And we`re also seeing it in the methods and means of warfare, the way that the towns are being shelled like Mariupol, the sieges that we`re seeing. So we`re seeing different kinds of war crimes and crimes against humanity, we should also add.

And what we`re going to do is take that evidence, and we have to establish beyond a reasonable doubt, so we can take into court, that the people who are responsible -- because, remember, this is about individual criminal responsibility. It`s one thing for us to look at these horrible images and understand that crimes have been committed. It`s another thing to bring it into court and connect it directly to individuals using that standard of proof.

REID: And let me just go through just for our audience that these are the convictions successes and failures, to the point that you`re making.

In Rwanda, you all remember the war there between the Hutu and Tutsi. A former leader in Liberia 50 years for war crimes. In Sierra Leone, Charles Taylor was convicted in April 2012 of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for aiding rebels in Sierra Leone`s 11-year civil war, began serving his sentence in Britain in 2013. Habre, Hissene Habre, who was Chad`s former leader, was convicted of crimes against humanity.


It is notable to me that I only see African leaders on that list. Why would that be? Because there have been war crimes throughout that -- we talked about Bashar al-Assad. Obviously, Milosevic died before he could be convicted. But is that notable to you?

GORDON: Yes, it is.

I think that there`s a degree of realpolitik that`s functioning there, which is not to say that war crimes and crimes against humanity, the atrocities that these leaders were convicted of, did not take place. But I do believe that we have to be more inclusive in terms of our operation of justice standards, and that we have to look beyond simply Africa. I completely agree with you on that.

And I think what`s happening in the Ukraine right now is a perfect example of where the world needs to come together and prosecute these atrocities.

REID: Right.

GORDON: So, yes. The answer is yes.

REID: It`s notable. And those -- what was done in those countries was horrific, by the way.

There -- Slobodan Milosevic claimed that he didn`t know, as you heard in that package, what was happening. You have kind of heard the same thing from Putin, at least report saying that he`s being misled by his generals. Ironically enough, could that wind up sort of falling in his favor, if he`s ever tried?

GORDON: It`s possible, because what you don`t realize is that to show the chain of command and the evidence of communication between and among the people in the chain of command is a very meticulous process that has to be documented with great care.

And if there are gaps, if there are glitches in the chain of evidence, then you`re talking about the person who is at the very top of this, let`s call, a criminal enterprise.

REID: Yes.

GORDON: And if there are any gaps, then prosecutors cannot go into court and establish the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

These are very difficult prosecutions to bring and to be successful on. We have to realize that.

REID: Yes.

GORDON: Again, we feel a sense of outrage when we see these terrible images. But, by the same token, as a former prosecutor and now a law professor who teaches this, it is extremely difficult to make these cases.

You have to have corroborating evidence. You have to have solid witness testimony. You have to have good documentation. And those are the things that I hope the investigators who are being sent in now are taking care of. We`re seeing that there`s a greater movement, I think, around the world to help the International Criminal Court with resources, both in terms of personnel and materiel.

And I`m hoping that that`s going to pay off.

REID: And, very quickly, we have very little time left, but who arrests these leaders? Like, how do they actually wind up being forced to appear in court?

GORDON: That`s a really good question too. And I wish we had more time, Joy. But maybe we can take this up on another occasion.

But, essentially, what`s going to probably have to happen in Russia, I would think, is going to be like what happened in the former Yugoslavia and Serbia, the way that Milosevic was finally able to be brought to justice is because there was a change in the government in his country, right?

I think there`s a similar thing needs to happen in Russia, where Vladimir Putin is going to have to lose his grip on power. And then he will be subject to all this international justice effort that we`re seeing taking place. Otherwise, all his layers of protection and security, his military and everything else, will probably shield him.

REID: Indeed, although he will not -- he will be essentially imprisoned in Russia, because where can he go? Who would have him have, other maybe to North Korea or maybe to Belarus and a couple countries? But he will be trapped there.

And that, I don`t think, is even punishment enough.

Gregory Gordon, this is fascinating. Please come back. We can have a longer conversation and we will have more time. Thank you.

And up next: As Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson moves closer to confirmation, Republicans are well aware that it is an historic nomination, but they have decided to be on the wrong side of that history.

Stay with us.



REID: In just the last few minutes, the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who will become the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, passed yet another key hurdle, although not the way it normally happens.

Normally, the Judiciary Committee advances the nomination to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. But because no Republican senator on the committee broke ranks, there was a tie, and it was left to the full Senate to accomplish that task.

And know that was deliberate. The 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee want you and especially their base to know which side of history they are on.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): If Judge Jackson is confirmed, I believe she will prove to be the most extreme and the furthest left justice ever to serve on the United States Supreme Court.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): In fact, Judge Jackson remains more of a defense attorney for criminals from the bench than a judge.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): I have concerns that Judge Jackson will be pinch hitting for one team or the other.

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): I asked her to define the word woman. The fact that she couldn`t or wouldn`t answer that question speaks volumes.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I will vote no. I`m the first -- first time I have ever voted against any Supreme Court nominee.



REID: But there is some bipartisanship here.

Tonight, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney joined Senator Susan Collins in announcing their support. While Judge Jackson`s confirmation is assured, today`s committee deadlock vote puts Judge Jackson in the same company as Justice Clarence Thomas and Robert Bork as the only nominees in the past 47 years to not be voted out of that committee favorably.

Again, that is on purpose. They do not want soon-to-be Justice Jackson that court as a black woman unscathed. But unlike Thomas and Bork, Judge Jackson is neither an extremist, nor accused of sexual harassment, nor married to an insurrectionist.

And she is overwhelmingly viewed favorably by the American public, which could -- should give some Republicans pause, though it clearly does not. As The Daily Beast points out, support for Jackson in a Marquette Law School poll among black adults currently sits at 86 percent. Among Hispanics, it`s at 76 percent. And among whites, it is at 59 percent, easily making her the most popular Supreme Court nominee since John Roberts was elevated to chief justice in 2005.

Joining me now is former assistant U.S. attorney Maya Wiley, who will next month become the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and human Rights.

Congratulations, Maya.

And I have to say, it struck me. And I will only put this on myself. Watching that montage of all of these right-wing Republican senators denouncing essentially this judge and saying they can`t support her, and only these three not Southern justices, it definitely felt, for me, like watching the Dixiecrats vs. the Northern Democrats in the 1960s on civil rights.

It sounded like, if you just put yourself there, that is how that sounded. Now I feel like I know how that sounded. What do you make of it all?

MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, sadly -- well, let me just start with the joy,because I do think we should all be channeling Senator Booker right now.

And I agree with you, Joy. Look, this is a day to celebrate, because Judge Jackson will be Justice Jackson. And that matters. It`s huge. And, by the way, it matters because not only has she gotten the highest rating on qualifications, not only because she is the first black woman who actually went through a confirmation process for the Supreme Court and will be the first person who actually understands what it means when the government violates people`s constitutional rights in the criminal justice system.

We need that kind of perspective on the court. We are going to get it with this justice for all.

REID: Yes, absolutely.

WILEY: But I will say, I`m -- but I`m with you, because the reality is, there is -- there is no question in any of the minds of any of these senators that this is a highly, highly qualified jurist, who has not only the credentials, the experience, the intellect, but also the temperament to be on this court.

REID: Yes.

WILEY: And this is the problem. This is not about her in terms of her qualifications.

This is about a wedge in our democracy, and using that wedge. Dixiecrats were all about making sure they were preserving a racial status quo.

REID: Correct.

WILEY: And this certainly feels like -- because we do have to call it, but this feels very much like that kind of moment. Lindsey Graham is the example of this, because, as he himself said in that clip, he`s the one who actually has been the reliable Republican to always take the institutional, pro-democracy stance in these confirmations.

And he`s not doing it now. And that`s Trumpism.

REID: Yes, indeed.

As a matter of fact, he`s doing worse than that. This is the cut three. I have four quick sound bites to play for you. This is one of the first -- first ones. This is number three. Here`s Lindsey Graham. Not only is he not doing what he normally does, and he has elevated her twice. He elevated her to the judgeship she has right now, you all.

Let`s not forget, he voted for her to be in the district court right now, the judge she holds. But he`s like, nah, I can`t do it, because now I`m playing Dixiecrat. Here he is making a threat, saying that there will be no more, no more nominees if he has anything to do with it.


GRAHAM: If we get back the Senate, and we`re in charge of this body, and there`s judicial openings, we will talk to our colleagues on the other side, but, if we`re in charge, she would not have met before this committee.

You would have had somebody more moderate than this.


REID: So, OK, and I`m not -- before I let you comment on that, I want to play two more things. This is Roy Blunt just doing exactly what you just said, saying she`s qualified, she`s great, not voting for her. Here he is, Roy Blunt.


SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): I think she`s certainly going to be confirmed. I think it`ll be a high point for the country to see her go on the court and take her unique perspective to the court.

But I don`t think she`s the kind of judge that will really do the kind of work that I think needs to be done by the court. And I won`t be supporting her. But I will be joining others in understanding the importance of this moment.



REID: Real quick, Chuck Grassley being berated by a Republican in his district in his. Go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just beat her up really bad.

And I think it was just appalling that that`s all they could come up with. And the main thing they did this for is so they could get TV time.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R-IA): I`m not going to dispute what you said, because I think you described it accurately. But, you know, that doesn`t apply to me, or you -- or if you didn`t hear...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you`re -- excuse me.

GRASSLEY: Durbin complimented me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, Senator. You are the head of the Senate. You`re the oldest person there. You have been there 50 years. I mean, it`s unbelievable what you have done for Iowa in the past.

I have voted for you in the past. And now it`s getting to the time where -- where I think you`re not for the people. You`re more the party.


REID: Long term, do you foresee any of these men regretting having landed in the history books on the wrong side of history, saying, we will deny this black woman; we don`t want this black woman on the court; we don`t have a reason for it?

She has the same lack of a judicial philosophy that John Roberts attested to when he was running. He said, I don`t have a judicial philosophy. They didn`t have a problem with that.

Do you think, ultimately, the history books, will they -- do you think they even care that they`re going to come down on the Dixiecrat side of history here?

WILEY: You know, I won`t say that I know the answer to that question, Joy.

But I will say this. I certainly hope so. I certainly hope they understand, as people elected to the Senate who went and took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and, frankly, stand up and serve this democracy, that they understand exactly what happened here was not only the attack on a black woman qualified for this job, sending a message, by the way, to black people across this country that it doesn`t matter what you do.

What was the message? Doesn`t matter what you do. You will not be good enough, wrong message for pluralist democracy. But they also sent the message that said, anybody who has an interest in rising in your profession and in your career on the federal bench, you better meet our ideological litmus test.

And that is not the way it has been historically in our process. It is not something that`s OK. The third branch of government, the federal judiciary is supposed to be an independent one. They attacked that today.

REID: Indeed.

And the snarling, barking Lindsey Graham image is one, and Tom Cotton doing the exact same thing. That will never, ever leave my mind or the minds of a lot of voters who are going to remember what the Republican Party is like in November, because they`re going to go, oh, that`s who you are? We got it.

Maya Wiley, thank you, and congratulations again on your new post.

And up next: Is Merrick Garland the right man for this moment? There is new reporting that even President Biden would like him to get on with it when it comes to holding the leaders of the insurrection accountable.

Stay with us.




QUESTION: How would you respond to that pressure and to those critics?

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Look, the only pressure I feel and the only pressure that our line prosecutors feel is to do the right thing. That means we follow the facts and the law wherever they may lead.


REID: Attorney General Merrick Garland on the defensive on Friday for his department`s inaction, as mounting evidence shows Donald Trump likely broke the law when he tried to overthrow the legitimately elected president in 2020.

Now reporting from "The New York Times" this weekend reveals that Garland`s deliberative approach is even frustrating President Biden himself. According to two people familiar, as recently as late last year, Biden confided to his inner circle that he believed Donald Trump was a threat to democracy and should be prosecuted.

And while the president has never communicated his frustrations directly to Garland, he said privately that he wanted Garland to act less like a ponderous judge and more like a prosecutor who`s willing to take decisive action.

In fact, it`s becoming so obvious that Trump should be prosecuted that the select committee is questioning whether they should even bother to submit a criminal referral.

With me now, Joyce Vance, professor at the University of Alabama School of Law and a former U.S. attorney.

And, Joyce, I just want to remind folks -- and let me play again some of the members of the select committee themselves complaining about Garland`s inaction.


REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): This committee is doing its job. The Department of Justice needs to do theirs.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The Department of Justice has a duty to act on this referral and others we have

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): I will echo what my colleagues have already said, but more bluntly. Attorney General Garland, do your job, so that we can do ours.


REID: And now we know, Joyce, that, privately, those concerns are even shared by the president of the United States.

I mean, are we at a point now where Garland`s inaction is itself becoming a threat to our democracy?

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know, Joy, we`re in this very difficult moment, where Americans on the one hand want some guarantees or at least some assurances that our criminal justice system still functions, that no man is above the law.

And, at the same time, we have an attorney general who`s committed to restoring the Justice Department, so that it works the way it`s supposed to work and not the way that it worked during the Trump administration, where the attorney general was, in essence, the handmaiden of the president of the United States.


I think it`s that conflict that puts us in this difficult place. We have not seen a lot of signs of activity out of DOJ until this report that, in January, a grand jury was convening and was taking a look that expanded beyond the January 6 prosecutions of people who`d overrun the Capitol.

We have now heard the attorney general and the deputy attorney general give assurances that they will follow the evidence wherever it leads. And so this is the very frustrating situation we`re in as Americans.

We could wake up tomorrow morning, and find that DOJ has indicted -- I suspect that they would not start with Donald Trump, that they would start with folks a little bit lower down in the food chain, maybe people who were participating in the exercise at the Willard war room in an effort to flip more witnesses to testify against your targets at the top.

But we could wake up to find that those indictments have landed. Or we could get all the way to the end of this, only to find out that DOJ makes the decision not to prosecute.

I think that`s the frustration. We want to have a normally functioning system. That means we have to live with a little bit of uncertainty at a time where the country is not well situated to tolerate that uncertainty.

REID: But, I mean, the thing is -- and I hear what you`re saying, Joyce.

But my challenge is that I just want the Justice Department to function the way it functioned during the Obama administration, because, during the Obama administration, you had this open -- this investigation that was announced, where they were like, oh, yes, we`re investigating Hillary Clinton`s e-mails.

They had no problem letting everybody know that we`re doing that. This current Justice Department has no problem hinting that they`re going to look at Hunter Biden. It feels, I mean, I think just to folks who are not professional prosecutors and not the experienced in the DOJ, like there is one standard for Democrats and another for Republicans.

Trump is starting to look untouchable. Liz Cheney today said in the Rules Committee hearing that we have learned that Donald Trump and his team were warned in advance and repeatedly that the efforts that to undertake the 2020 election would violate the law and the Constitution, and they did it anyway.

I almost wonder, is there anything that Donald Trump could do to be prosecuted or his inner circle? Because it doesn`t seem like there is. And I suspect, were he a Democrat, that would be different.

VANCE: So, I absolutely share your frustration.

There`s this real concern that, if there are no consequences for Donald Trump, then we`re in a very dangerous place. And I also share your frustration that there seems to be a double standard. I don`t think anyone would applaud what Jim Comey did as director of the FBI, really announcing and talking extensively about the Clinton investigation.

We do hear far more chatter about this investigation into Hunter Biden, which is being carried on by a holdover Trump U.S. attorney up in Delaware, someone who folks who know him well say is a professional, is someone that they have confidence in, but at least we know that investigation is going on.

And I suppose if you wanted to quibble with Merrick Garland`s conduct, this would be the place to do it, because there is precedent at DOJ for acknowledging that there are ongoing investigations when the facts are well-known to the public and there is a national interest in doing so.

The example that comes to my mind was the Ferguson investigation during the Obama administration, where DOJ acknowledged it was looking into that situation. The attorney general could do a lot of good right now, could reassure people that DOJ is on track by simply saying, we have an investigation open. That doesn`t mean that there will necessarily be indictments, but we are following the facts and looking at the law and taking them wherever they lead us.

REID: Yes, and the thing that I think a lot of people fear, Joyce -- and I -- we`re out of time, so I don`t even have time to -- I`m just going to have to make this comment -- is that the party that aligns itself with violent people gets away with it because of the fear that prosecuting will stir up those violent people.

That puts our system essentially -- we are now paralyzed simply because one party has decided to align itself with white nationalists and insurrectionists and people willing to do violence. That means they`re in charge. That scares me.

Joyce Vance, I appreciate you.

And up next, we will be right back.



REID: Before we go tonight, the United States is edging closer to the horrific landmark of one million COVID deaths.

And a new study is revealing the devastating gap between America`s poor and wealthy in the pandemic`s death toll. The report by the Poor People`s Campaign found that more than 300 counties with the highest death rates had an average poverty rate of 45 percent. And the lowest median income counties had death rates that were twice as high as those in the highest- income counties.


REV. DR. WILLIAM BARBER, CO-CHAIR, POOR PEOPLE`S CAMPAIGN: We cannot say, based on the research, that this is because of individual choices or behaviors. Something deeper is at work.

And, remember, these were -- this is unnecessary death that happened, that COVID-19 did not discriminate, but we did.


REID: Researchers found that the disparities were not to be explained by vaccination. More than half of the population in the poorest counties were vaccinated.

But the rate of uninsured people in those counties is twice as high as in wealthier areas, a critical issue, as federal funding for COVID dries up. The program that reimburses providers for testing and treating the uninsured stopped taking claims last month. It will stop accepting new claims for vaccinating the uninsured this week. The more you know.

And that is THE REIDOUT.