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Transcript: The ReidOut, 4/5/22

Guests: Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Peter Strzok, Elie Mystal

Summary

Russians accused of war crimes in Bucha. Zelenskyy assuses Russians of war crimes. Zelenskyy says Bucha just one of many horrifying scenes. Russia continues to batter Ukraine. Zelenskyy accuses Russians of committing worst war crimes since World War II.

Transcript

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:00:00]

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for spending time with us on THE BEAT. That does it for us. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT with the growing undisputable evidence that Russia committed horrific war crimes in the city of Bucha and we're still uncovering the extent of what Secretary of State Tony Blinken called a deliberate campaign to kill, torture, rape and committing atrocities.

Here is Deborah Haynes of Sky News from a neighborhood in that worn torn city.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEBORAH HAYNES, SECURITY AND DEFENSE EDITOR, SKY NEWS: This is no ordinary crime scene. Behind cordon yellow plaques numbered from one to six are all that distinguish the remains of one life from another. Each body burned beyond recognition.

We've not been in here very long but in this small corner of Bucha, we've already counted eight bodies. There are many more houses and gardens yet to be searched. Ukrainians say that every death is going to be investigated and cases built so that prosecutions for war crimes can be heard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: NBC's Richard Engel spoke to a resident in Bucha who described what it was like living through the massacre there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: She's saying that she and other people here were completely terrorized by the Russian soldiers. So, in an effort to try and show that they weren't threatening, they put signs like these on their apartment building doors to say, we're just peaceful civilians but she said it didn't help very much, that the Russians would burst into people's homes, that if you didn't open the door quick enough, they would open fire and shoot anyone that disagreed with then.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Earlier today, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared before the U.N. Security Council describing the crimes committed in Bucha in graphic detail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: I am addressing you on behalf of the people who honor the memory of the deceased every single day in the memory of the civilians who died who were shot and killed in the back of their head after being tortured. Some of them were shot on the streets. Others were thrown into the wells. So, they die there in suffering. Women were raped and killed in front of their children. They were -- their tongues were pulled out only because the aggressor did not hear what they wanted to hear from them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: After his speech, he played a stunning video showing the atrocities uncovered throughout the country and we are about to play a portion of the video. And I do just want to warn our viewers, that this video is extremely graphic. It was provided by the Ukrainian government who added their own music to it. Take a look.

NBC News reports that in response to these apparent war crimes, the U.S. will announce new sanctions, including a ban on new investments in Russia and increase sanctions on financial institutions and government officials. And the E.U. has also announced sanctions on Russian coal and ships.

Additionally, almost 200 Russian diplomatic staff have been expelled from European countries this week in a direct expression of governments' outrage at the slaughter of Ukrainian civilians in Bucha.

Meanwhile, the war continues with Zelenskyy making the point that there is similar devastation in other cities, including Mariupol, which is still under full assault, and Kharkiv, where the government says Russia is detaining pro-Ukrainian residents. The Ukrainian government also said today that shelling and Mykolaiv killed 12 people, including four children, with the total of 168 children killed during the war. And in the west, strikes were heard today in the city of Lviv.

Joining me now from Lviv is NBC News Anchor and Correspondent Ali Velshi. And, Ali, it was such a moving speech by President Zelenskyy today. And then the Russian ambassador spoke. And what he said was crackers, right? But the one thing that he did say that probably rang true is they -- he claimed that they have taken 600,000 Ukrainians into Russia, including 119,000 children. If I am not wrong, that sounds like genocide or a kidnapping. Tell me what you're seeing and hearing in Lviv.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Well, this is -- these things that until now we're sort of academic ideas, because we didn't think we'd have to deal with them again become important, right? War crimes, hard to prove, harder to prosecute. Actually, they're not that hard to prove given the evidence that we've got, they're just hard to prosecute. Remember that neither the United States nor Russia, nor Ukraine are signatories to the International Criminal Court.

[19:05:00]

Ukraine has allowed them some jurisdiction after what happened in 2014 in Crimea. So, then it falls to the United Nations but Russia has a seat on the Security Council at the United Nations and brought accusations that maybe the Ukrainians themselves did the things that you showed on those videos, the atrocities that were committed in Bucha.

So, this becomes a problem because there are people here, Ukrainians, who were saying, first of all, Ukraine should ratify the International Criminal Court participation anyway. They are already starting a war crimes tribunal here but there are semantics.

President Bush was asked, is this a genocide? Zelenskyy says yes. Bush -- I'm sorry, Biden. President Biden said I don't know but it's war crimes.

So, the issue is are these people deliberately being targeted because of who they are, i.e., because they're Ukrainians, because you have heard Russian officials including Vladimir Putin say it's not really a country, they don't really have a culture. There are people in Russia calling for the annihilation of the Ukrainian people.

Well, when you combine that with mass civilian killings, the Ukrainians, at least some of them including the president, are interpreting that to be war crime -- to be genocide.

Now, here is the rub. Whether it is war crimes or genocide, Joy, there is a question of enforcement. There are no rules if there is no one to enforce them and there is no one there who is likely going to go and arrest Vladimir Putin, he's certainly not turning himself in.

So whether or not Vladimir Putin and henchmen will be subject to prosecution and punishment, which is what a lot of Ukrainians want now is secondary to the fact that this war goes on and what they really want, you listen to the things that are going on in the world, more sanctions, expulsion of diplomats, they still want more weaponry, they need a way to keep their airspace clear of Russian attacks.

As you said, there was a shell that landed about 40 miles from where we are in Western Ukraine. These rocket attacks, these missile attacks continue daily. The Ukrainians are saying, do anything you want, sell us your stuff, lend us your stuff, lease us your stuff but we need more stuff. We don't need your troops in here. We need air support and we need more weaponry.

REID: Yes. Ali Velshi, you have just described the big flaw in this world order that the U.N. is supposed to preside over, it's that it's a gentleman's agreement. And if there are people who are the opposite of gentleman and are willing to flout the rules, there is no enforcement mechanism, kind of sounds like the issues we have at our own United States Constitution, unenforceable norms.

VELSHI: Right.

REID: Ali Velshi, it's very vexing. Thank you very much, my friend. Stay safe.

Joining me now is Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation. Madam Ambassador, thank you so much for being here.

I want to get your reaction in the room when that harrowing video finally played it, I know there was a delay, of the atrocities that we've seen in Ukraine as perpetrated by the Russian military.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: You know, we were all speechless. We had all seen various videos showing atrocities but they all covered up the real -- you know, the real people that were there. They were all blurred. This was the first time I had seen that video without the bodies being blurred and it was horrific. And there was silence in the room. I can tell you that people were horrified and it was an extraordinarily effective message to give to the Security Council to confirm the atrocities that we all know have been carried out in Ukraine by the Russians.

REID: I also want to get your reaction to the Russian Federation's Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya. He also had something to say. Let me play a little clip of this for our audience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VASILY NEBENZYA, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Despite of all factual evidence and common sense, you're trying to lay the blame for their death on the Russian military. This is absolutely unacceptable, the fact that to even consider that Russian military would be capable of this. And now we're seeing blatant criminally staged events with Ukrainian civilians who are killed by their own radicals.

The only ones who could fall for this fake are absolute dilatants or western partners. We came to you, to Ukraine not to conquer lands. We came to bring the long awaited peace to the blood soaked land of Donbas. We need to cut out the malignant Nazi tumor that is consuming Ukraine and would, in time, begin to consume Russia, and we will achieve that goal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: And then I've read through most of his speech, which is bizarre. And I wonder, A, what was your reaction to that? I know you were in the region not long ago. Did you see any evidence of what he's talking about?

[19:10:03]

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: No. We saw evidence of what he was talking about but not evidence of anyone else doing it but them. I was in the region meeting with women and children who had escaped that carnage, who had left their husbands and many times elderly relatives behind. And they were worried about what had happened to their relatives.

This was so incredible that he would say that. The Russians would have us believe that this was all staged. And the truth of the matter, Joy, is before February 24th, none of this was taking place in Ukraine. There were no bodies on the streets. There were no people being killed. There was no blood flowing. So, only Russia is responsible for this. And they would have us believe that the Ukrainians did this to themselves. It is absolutely ridiculous and nobody believed it. He was talking to himself because not a single person in that room believed what he said.

REID: Yes, it was clear he was doing that for an audience of one, meaning Vladimir Putin.

President Zelenskyy has flat out accused, and I think we've all seen the evidence of it, the Russian -- Russia of war crimes and we know that there are these two designations. There are crimes against humanity, you know, individually targeting individual people for slaughter and torture, and then there are also genocide, the idea of trying to wipe people off the map.

Do you believe that either of those two things have happened, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide in Ukraine?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: War crimes and crimes against humanity have absolutely taken place and we are working with the Ukrainians to document the evidence so that we can prove it, that the Russians have committed atrocities, that they have committed war crimes.

We saw evidence of that in the pictures out of Bucha today. And we all know that once we get into Mariupol, we're going to see more evidence of atrocities being committed. This is not the first and we expect to see many more pictures like what we saw today.

REID: And if, in fact, the U.N. comes as a body to believe that Russia has committed crimes against humanity, war crimes and maybe perhaps genocide, they've expressed the desire essentially to wipe Ukraine away and get rid of it, what power -- I think this is the question a lot of us are asking is, what power does the United Nations have, I think President Zelenskyy, in a way, asked it, to enforce these global norms? Is there something that the U.N. can actually do to Russia?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Zelenskyy was extraordinary effective today in his presentation to the Security Council and he called upon the Security Council to take responsibility. And I can tell you, Joy, that over the past six weeks, we have worked diligently to isolate Russia in the Security Council, and they are isolated. We have had two votes in the General Assembly with overwhelming support to first call out Russia and condemn what they have done and secondly, to support humanitarian assistance for the Ukrainians.

They are isolated in the Security Council, as you saw today, they are isolated in the General Assembly and they are isolated around the world. And you may have heard that I announced yesterday and mentioned that today in my remarks that we are going to move forward to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. They have not acted in any way to really give us confidence that they deserve to be on the Human Rights Council or to continue to act as they are in the Security Council. They are a member. That's a fact. We can't change that fact, but we certainly can keep them isolated. We can keep them on their heels.

REID: And we are literally out of time but I'm going to sneak one more question in. Should they be kicked off the Security Council and can that happen?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, the Security Council was created as a product of the creation of the U.N. after World War II. They are a member of the Security Council. That's a fact. We can't change that fact but we certainly can isolate them in the Security Council.

[19:15:00]

We can make their presence in that body very uncomfortable and we have done that, and we are working to kick them off or to suspend them from the Human Rights Council.

REID: Thank you Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. The Ambassador will be honored tomorrow night by the Reverend Al Sharpton at the National Action Network's Keeper of the Dream Awards Gallup for her career in public service and to her leadership at the United Nations.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, Ivanka Trump, talked to the January 6th select committee for about eight hours today, as we learn about a rather surprising admission from her father, the former president.

Also --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I intended to get health care passed even if it cost me reelection, which for awhile looked like it might.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Just like old times, former President Barack Obama makes his first visit to the White House since leaving office. Can he help President Biden with a political reset?

Plus, in a perfect world, we would ignore QAnon Queen Margie Greene and her revolting pedophile shtick but you can't because she is the Republican Party, and that is truly horrifying.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:20:53]

REID: NBC News was the first to report that Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump appeared voluntarily before the select committee investigating January 6 today, testifying for roughly eight hours.

As a White House official during Trump's administration and a member of the family, she's clearly a high-value witness with knowledge of Trump's state of mind that day. Ivanka was with her father before, during and after the Capitol siege and was notably by Trump's side in the tent during his rally at the Ellipse.

In January, the committee also revealed that Ivanka was sometimes at odds with her father. According to witnesses, on the morning of January 6, she actually praised Vice President Mike Pence for resisting her father's demands. And after the violence broke out, she was among those pushing Trump to call off the mob, but even she had difficulty persuading him to take action.

The committee says they're particularly interested in her answer to the question of why White House staff didn't simply ask the president to walk to the Briefing Room and appear on live television to ask the crowd to leave.

Here's what Chairman Bennie Thompson told reporters about Ivanka Trump's testimony while it was still ongoing this afternoon.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): She's answering questions, I mean, not in broad, chatty terms, but she's answering questions.

GARRETT HAAKE, NBC SENIOR NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Is she invoking the Fifth?

THOMPSON: Not that I'm aware of.

HAAKE: Or any other privilege, for that matter, executive privilege?

THOMPSON: Not that I'm aware of.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

REID: This comes after Ivanka's husband, Jared Kushner, provided helpful information to investigators during his testimony last week, according to a member of the committee.

Joining me now is Peter Strzok, former FBI counterintelligence agent, and Tim O'Brien, senior columnist at Bloomberg Opinion and an MSNBC political analyst.

And, Tim, I am going to start with you, because, normally, news that Ivanka and Jared are cooperating with the committee would not interest me a lot. But understanding the Trump family's penchant for self-promotion and self- preservation, it would -- and also their lack of loyalty even to each other -- it wouldn't shock me if she was willing to throw her dad under the bus in order to rewrite her own story historically.

What do you think?

TIM O'BRIEN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is also coming up in the New York state attorney general's investigation and the Manhattan's DA's investigation, the extent to which the children who were co-conspirators with their father or witnesses of their father's behavior are going to disgorge what they know or sort of lay down on the railroad tracks for their father.

And I think what's interesting about today is that they didn't have to subpoena her. She willingly spoke to the committee. She spoke to them at length, and in a way in which they were satisfied with their testimony. Her tension with her father has always been that, among the three eldest children, she has had this pride of (INAUDIBLE) and she is the only child he has sort of been -- in an unvarnished and often disturbing way fond of what she represents in his life.

And she has always tried to recreate her own public image as something other than this cartoon, grifter kind of halo that has clung to the Trumps in New York and that people came to know later on the national stage.

On the morning of January 6, for whatever her misgivings were about her father putting pressure on Mike Pence, the reality is, at -- when the insurrection broke out, she initially tweeted, please, patriots -- something to the effect of, please, patriots, stand down and go home, a tweet she later deleted, because she used the term patriots, instead of the appropriate term of insurrectionists or seditionists.

Nonetheless, she appeared to be authentically disturbed by what her father did. And the end goal here for the January 6 Committee is to discern the extent to which Donald Trump was not a bystander to a set of grotesque events that he set in motion, but was actually their architect and their primary instigator.

REID: Yes.

O'BRIEN: And to the extent that she has witnessed him acting in that way, it's valuable testimony, and she's appeared to offer some of that.

REID: Yes.

And, Peter, put yourself back in FBI counterintel mode. I mean, if you have a family that's this transparent, that the father is open about wanting to overturn the election and previewed it for months, saying, in December, it's going to be wild, sort of told you what he was going to do. Then it happens.

[19:25:11]

And you have a family that's this transactional, even, again, with each other, there's no loyalty in any direction. How would you use, just an investigative matter, someone like Ivanka to try to get to the bottom of the insurrection?

PETER STRZOK, FORMER FBI COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AGENT: Yes, well, I can't overstate the importance of having somebody inside the room of a potential criminal conspiracy.

When they offered and invited Ivanka to show up, they wanted to broadly talk about four things. The first was any sort of conversations Trump might have had about the events leading up to January 6, two events on January 6 itself, one, a focus on any interactions and conversations he had about Mike Pence, a tweet he issued about Mike Pence, and then the second issue, any sort of role that he had with regard to deploying or not deploying the National Guard.

And then, finally, the fourth topic they wanted to ask her about was anything after January 6 that might indicate some attempt to cover up what had happened, to not talk to somebody, to try and get stories straight.

So I think, when you have somebody like this walk in the room willing to talk to you -- and she's certainly well-advised by counsel. I would be very surprised if she said anything that was a lie, that later on, if she was interviewed by the FBI and the Justice Department, that would be at odds with what she said.

So it says to me, one, that she does have a desire -- and I agree with Tim -- I think it's very much she is one to burnish her historical image and to re-chrome that image, but it's of immense importance to the committee and certainly will be to criminal investigators as well.

REID: Yes, well, good luck rewriting your image. You won't be able to do that.

Really quickly, to stay with you, Peter, for a moment, Mike Pence is also another interesting figure, because Trump had no loyalty to him. He was willing to let people hang him. He was willing to let him be lynched in order to stay in office.

But what's interesting is that Chairman Bennie Thompson has said that they have ruled out subpoenaing Mike Pence, which I found very interesting, citing significant information they had received from two of his aides, Marc Short and Greg Jacob. Thompson also indicated the panel would not be likely to call Trump as a witness, saying: "I don't know anything else we could ask Donald Trump that the public doesn't already know. He ran his mouth for four years."

What do you make of the fact that Mike Pence seems to be cooperating without a subpoena?

STRZOK: Well, I think it's really interesting.

When you look at Mike Pence, I mean, he's clearly making political calculations right now about where he stands with regard to the 2024 presidential race, whether he himself wants to run, whether he wants to back other candidates. And so he is looking at this not only in terms of what his role was, whether he has any criminal exposure.

And I don't think, from what I have seen, that he does, but we don't know all the facts. But, certainly, I think his behavior is very much influenced by what is coming down the road with the next presidential election.

And it seems, from -- I agree with you This is much more his -- the unwillingness of the committee to issue a subpoena to him is very interesting to me and does seem to indicate that, whether it's with the committee, or whether it's with some parallel investigation that's going on within DOJ and the FBI, that there are some things at play that are not public that is weighing -- that is playing a part of -- playing a role in this decision by the committee.

REID: Yes, it is interesting.

One more for you, Tim, because this is interesting too. If they were to call Donald Trump, I wonder what he would say to this answer, did you win or lose the election?

Liz Cheney the other day, she -- let's just play it real quick. We have 20 seconds. All right, here's Liz Cheney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We have learned that President Trump and his team were warned in advance and repeatedly that the efforts they undertook to overturn the 2020 election would violate the law and our Constitution.

Despite all of these specific warnings, President Trump and his team moved willfully to attempt to halt the peaceful transfer of power, to halt the constitutional process for counting votes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: OK, but, Tim, this is what Donald Trump said. And this was an interview that he did with historians last summer.

And in the clip, he's talking about a deal that he says he struck with South Korea's president to cover more of the country's defense. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a deal. He was going to pay $5 billion, $5 billion a year.

But when I didn't win the election, he had to be the happiest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: He didn't win the election, and he knows it.

Your thoughts, Tim?

O'BRIEN: Well, Donald Trump has been lying about deals and his own track record for 60 of his 70-plus years.

He's lying now. He is not to be taken at face value on anything he says about the outcome of the election or anything that led up to it or occurred after it.

REID: Yes.

And he knows he lost, which is -- that's consciousness of guilt.

O'BRIEN: And he knows he lost. Of course he did, which is why he's lying.

REID: He -- yes, he knew he was lying. Exactly.

Peter Strzok, Tim O'Brien, thank you both very much.

Still ahead: President Obama returns to the White House after a five-year absence to celebrate the success of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, because, as President Biden put it so memorably, it's a big F'ing deal.

[19:30:05]

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Vice President Biden. Vice President.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: That was a joke.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: It is good to be back in the White House. It's been a while.

[19:35:03]

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. President, welcome back to the White House, man. Feels like the good old days.

We just had lunch together, and we weren't sure who was supposed to sit where.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Isn't it just nice to see people smile?

For the first time since leaving office, former President Barack Obama was back in the White House today. And beyond just getting the buddy act back together, Obama joined Biden to announce new steps to expand access to the Affordable Care Act, their administration's biggest legislative achievement, which was Vice President -- which was, as Vice President Biden called it back then, a big F'ing deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The ACA wasn't perfect. To get the bill passed, we had to make compromises.

Today, the Biden-Harris administration is going even further by moving to fix a glitch in the regulations that will lower premiums for nearly one million people who need it and allow 200,000 more uninsured Americans to get access to coverage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Last month marked 12 years since President Obama signed the legislation into law, enabling millions of Americans to get health coverage.

The former president's return comes at a pivotal time, as Biden faces declining approval numbers, rising inflation and concerns about Democrats' electoral prospects in the upcoming midterms.

And joining me now is Cornell Belcher, Democratic pollster and president of Brilliant Corners Research & Strategies.

And, OK, my friend, I know you're a pollster. I know you're a pollster. But I got to ask you if these polls really do mean anything, I'm serious. I have become -- I'm a polling geek. I love polls. But I'm starting to wonder if we can trust them.

Let's just put these up. Here's a series of polls from 2010 until Biden now. And that's the approval ratings for Obama, Obama, Obama, Biden. As you can see, they fluctuate a little bit, but the wipeout election of 2010, you were at 49-44. He was actually above water, Obama was. Then he was even in 2012, got reelected with a lower approval rating.

Then, in 2014, it drops 44-51. And then they also had a bad year that year. But the bad year was 2010. Where do you see Biden falling, just historically, based on the numbers? The enthusiasm numbers aren't good, Republicans 67 percent enthusiasm, Democrats 50.

What does that all mean?

CORNELL BELCHER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it -- thank you, Joy, for that.

I mean, you got to take a back -- step back and take a historical look at this, right? One, Joy, please stop reading so many polls. I'm a pollster.

REID: I know.

(LAUGHTER)

BELCHER: People are using polls these days for everything. And it's just too much polling out there in the public space.

But let's step back from this. From a historical standpoint, there are dynamics at play in the midterm that, quite frankly, the president is not the central variable in this dynamic, right, whether it be George Bush, whether it be Barack Obama, whether it be Bill Clinton.

We know the pattern that happens throughout history. So, the president actually isn't the key variable in this conversation. I know everyone wants to make the president the key variable and say, only if Biden were doing better. But you could say, only if George Bush was doing better, only if President Clinton was doing better, only if Obama was doing better. They are only one variable in this.

REID: Yes.

BELCHER: What happens on this on -- during the midterm, what we're facing right now, and the same thing you saw with the recent Republican presidents is, you do have a lack of enthusiasm, a letdown among base Democratic voters.

When you look at sort of where younger voters are, and when you look at where voters of color are right now, they do seem -- they are lacking in the enthusiasm.

One thing that Republicans can always count on is that their base vote will turn out and it's more reliable at turning out. And, by the way, they do things that generate and throw red meat to their base vote, whether you're talking about Critical Race Theory, or whether you're attacking the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Supreme Court justice.

All these classic dog whistles and feeding of the Republican base is what they do to energize their base voters. And, quite frankly -- and I think Democrats are guilty of not, quite frankly, paying enough attention and throwing red meat and trying to feed our base, the way Republicans do.

REID: Yes.

BELCHER: We stay fixated, I think far too often, on this mythical swing vote in the middle that we put all the weight on, as -- and when Republicans understand that it starts with energizing their base and then building out.

REID: Yes, absolutely.

Here's President Obama's prescription for what to do about the midterms.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Mr. President, what do you say to Democrats worried about the midterms? What do you tell Democrats worried about the midterms?

OBAMA: We got a story to tell. Just got to tell it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: So these are the Senate races that are up.

There are 14 Democrats and 21 Republicans that are -- senators that are up. There are three sort of swingy Republican races and one, Maggie Hassan, in New Hampshire for Democrats, and there are some tossups around the country.

Is it as simple as voters of color and younger voters just don't turn out midterms reliably, and so there's not much you can do because they're just not reliable, as you said, unless you find something to make them enthusiastic? And there really isn't anything right now.

[19:40:07]

Is that the fate of the Democrats? Or could the fact that you have things like Roe v. Wade about to be overturned, these anti-gay laws, the extremism of the Republican Party, does that change the potential outcome here, because Republicans are taking it so far and being so overtly racist and anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-everybody?

BELCHER: I think, to the president's point, I think Democrats have a good -- have a fantastic story to tell. They just -- they just have to do a better job of telling it, and they have to be committed to, in fact, telling that -- telling that story.

Look, I have said on this network many times that abortion rights or choice is a mobilizing issue for the right, until, Joy, until...

REID: They do it.

BELCHER: ... those white women in suburban America feel as though that right is going to be taken away from them. And then, all of a sudden, we're going to find out, quite frankly, how important that is for them.

But, however, we have to, in fact, drive that conversation. We have to decide what the election is going to be about.

Look, in Virginia, what just happened was, quite frankly, you did have a very different electorate in Virginia this time around than you had with Northam won the last time around. You had an electorate that was less diverse and less young.

REID: Yes.

BELCHER: Look, and they dominated that conversation with Republican base issues.

Let's dominate the conversation with choice. Let's dominate the conversation with justice in policing. Let's dominate the conversation with voting rights. And let's see what happens.

REID: Yes.

And let's see what happens. Amen. And tell who the other side is. And we're going to do a little bit of that tonight on the show.

Cornell Belcher, thank you very much, my friend. Appreciate you.

Up next, Republican Congresswoman, as we were just speaking about telling the story of who these people are, Marjorie Taylor Greene's buffoonery can be tough to stomach, but we cannot afford to ignore the things she says, even if the Republican Party's alleged leaders are happy to do just that.

We're back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:46:34]

REID: Marjorie Taylor Greene, OK, I know, I know, I know. But stay with me just for a second. Trust me.

I don't want to talk about her any more than you do. But here's the thing. We have to, because the frightening reality is that Margie Q. is the present and future Republican Party, period. And if we don't talk about it, if we don't address this clear and present danger, folks like Marjorie and the idiot Thelma to her bonehead Louise, Lauren Boebert, will keep getting elected, along with their friends.

Marjorie Greene is a far right conspiracy theorist, a toxic smear-monger. Upon learning that three non-kook conservative Republican senators would support the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Greene pedaled her toxic garbage on Twitter, calling those senators pro-pedophile.

The grotesque, defamatory statement is based on the actually defamatory accusation, led by Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton and their barking dog colleague Lindsey Graham, that Judge Jackson is soft on sentencing child pornography offenders. It is a lie.

And yet they have no problem supporting fellow Republicans even after learning of their actual sexual exploitation of children and women. Margie Q. herself hangs out with Matt Gaetz, who is under investigation for having sex with a 17-year-old and paying her to travel with him, including across state lines.

Let's not forget the object of MAGA worship himself, Donald Trump, and the dozens of allegations of sexual misconduct made against him and the allegations that as the host of -- or the owner of a teen beauty pageant, he enjoyed busting into the dressing rooms when the teeny girls were naked, Trump, who endorsed sexual predator Roy Moore and the horse he rode in on, and who was chummy with Jeffrey Epstein, a felon who was accused of pedophilia and sexual abuse for more than a decade.

The hypocrisy aside, let's just be very clear about what Marjorie Taylor Greene is doing. The whole libs are pedophiles talking point, it sounds very similar to what she's all about, QAnon.

Now, remember the centerpiece of the QAnon cult ideology is this made-up claim that a massive child sex trafficking ring is being secretly run by Democratic and Hollywood elites and that Trump is going to root it out.

Sure, the Republican platform is based on fear tactics, the fake CRT boogeyman, how mentioning gay existence will turn your child gay or trans. But listen closely to the catchphrases invading our discourse. Calling non- pedophiles pedophiles, all this talk about groomers, it is a duck call to Q.

We may not want to listen to this utter twit, but they are.

And up next: how the pro-pedophile attack triggers the QAnon id and why that is so dangerous.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:53:48]

REID: Conservative political operatives have figured out what riles up their base, the fake threat that progressives are trying to indoctrinate their children, to groom them to become gay or trans.

These terms, indoctrination, grooming, predator, accusing innocent people of being pedophiles or being soft on pedophiles, it is also a very specific trigger for a group that is sinking its teeth into our political discourse. Folks like Marjorie Taylor Greene know that.

There's a reason her pro-pedophile tweet is the attack de jure. It's a Bat Signal to QAnon.

Joining me now is Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for "The Nation."

And, Elie, you have made this point before, that when these people are saying over and over and over again pedophile, pedophile, pedophile, and then associating that with any Democrat in front of them, they are -- it is a dog whistle to get the QAnon people and sic them on whoever that is.

And you have talked about the fact that they know these people are dangerous and they're doing it on purpose because they don't care if this judge, if Judge Jackson, gets hurt. I'm going to let you talk.

ELIE MYSTAL, "THE NATION": Yes.

So, when I first brought this up, what did these conservatives say? How dare you say that asking questions about her record is inciting violence against her? But you see, they ain't questions anymore, because unfrozen caveman congresswoman is no longer asking questions.

[19:55:00]

She's making declarative statements about pedophilia and who is for it and who was against it. And that's basically what you saw all throughout the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, starting with hypocrite Lindsey Graham, and going on down through their whole party.

Now, these attacks are designed to attack Ketanji Brown Jackson's -- not her record, but her personal character, and that we know that these attacks can put her life and the life of her family and children in danger. And we know they know that. And we know that they have something particularly that they're angry at her about.

And it's not her -- it's not the alleged pedophile sentencing record.

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: It's the fact that Ketanji Brown Jackson sentenced Edgar Welch, who is the guy who went to Comet pizza in Washington, D.C., looking for the pedophile ring to do violence. He's the Pizzagate guy. Ketanji Brown Jackson sentenced him.

You note they didn't talk about that sentencing. Oh, no. They wanted to talk about the other sentencing. They didn't want to talk about the time where Ketanji Brown sentenced that guy to four years in prison.

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: So the QAnon people are angry at her already.

REID: Yes. And...

MYSTAL: And now they come over the top with these pedophilia attacks.

It's designed to put her life in danger. And that's -- you're so right that this is why we have to talk about it, because this is what they're doing on purpose.

REID: Yes, they're punishing her.

And to just to prove to you all, if you're watching, that they don't care about pedophilia, this isn't what they care about it all, Ginni Thomas, she had a firm. She has a -- Liberty Consulting. Of course, that's what it's called.

They represented a PAC called FedUp PAC. And you know who that FedUp PAC represented? Roy Moore, OK, supported Roy Moore, when he was running for the United States Senate.

Christopher Rufo admitted that this is what they're doing. We had him on the show. He's the guy who pretends that he's an expert in something. I don't know what he thinks he's an expert in. But he said: "Hey, I think ideological grooming is good for the Twitter crowd. Political predators is better for the offline crowd," basically counseling Republicans of what you should say and how you should take this QAnon attack that is a cuckoo conspiracy theory and morph it into something politically useful.

And do you -- I don't know if you agree with me that it's significant who's using it? If people like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham, who fashion themselves future presidential candidates. They know it will get their base -- that base behind them.

MYSTAL: Yes, it's a complete base play for politics.

And that doesn't -- just to be clear, that doesn't make it better.

REID: No.

MYSTAL: Like, the fact that there's a great chance that Lindsey Graham doesn't actually believe it, he just wants to say it to be president, that doesn't make it better. I could argue that that makes it actually worse for him to be doing it that way.

But you also have to remember when talking about these cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs conspiracy theories, again, they lead to real harm.

REID: Yes, they do.

MYSTAL: It's not al -- because I think you actually pointed it out during the confirmation hearings, that, while they're making these attacks on Jackson that can cause -- can put her life at danger, they're also being very clear about where her daughters go to school, right?

REID: Exactly.

MYSTAL: Because, like, they went right to -- so, if you were a QAnon person watching the confirmation hearings, you know where Ketanji Brown Jackson's family, where they work, where the kids go to school, and these ridiculous pedophile attacks.

REID: That's right.

MYSTAL: So they're giving them all the information that they need...

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: ... to do real harm and real bad things to this person, whose only crime at this point is being a black woman, right?

REID: Is being black. And they don't -- and that offends them.

MYSTAL: Like, everybody has said -- even the Republicans say, she's obviously qualified.

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: Even the Republicans say, there's no moral scandal in terms of her personal behavior.

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: This is directed at her just because of who she is.

REID: Yes.

And let -- very quickly, I want to play Tom Cotton for you, because he took it even lower today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): The last Judge Jackson left the Supreme Court to go to Nuremberg and prosecute the case against the Nazis. This Judge Jackson might have gone there to defend them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Slavery defender Tom Cotton.

Your witness, Elie.

MYSTAL: Yes, insurrectionist aficionado Tom Cotton is the last person who gets to say that.

First of all, he needs to keep Judge Jackson's name out of his mouth, because Robert Jackson -- I'm sure Cotton doesn't know this -- Robert Jackson was actually a huge defender of the Fourth Amendment and of due process. I'm sure he would have welcomed people to go defend the Nazis, because that's how we know that there's a fair trial going on.

So, Tom Cotton has no idea what he's talking about when it comes to the legacy of that particular Supreme Court justice.

But, more to the point, Tom Cotton, in fact, is the person not doing the things to prosecute the people who actually ran a coup against this country and this government. He is the sympathizer to fascism, not Ketanji Brown Jackson.

He's -- oh. And that's, I think, as much as I can say about Tom Cotton on a family network show.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: On a family network. You and me both. We can text what we really -- the rest of what we have to say that's not for polite company.

Elie Mystal, appreciate you, my friend.

And that is tonight's REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.