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Transcript: The ReidOut, 5/12/22

Guests: Elie Mystal, Madeleine Dean


The January 6 Committee takes the historic step of issuing subpoenas to their own House colleagues. Congresswoman Madeleine Dean speaks out. NATO is set to likely expand and lengthen its border with Russia. Is Vladimir Putin the model for some Republicans? One million Americans have officially lost their lives to COVID.


ALICIA MENENDEZ, MSNBC HOST: There are growing calls for a federal investigation into six Georgia deputies pulling over a team bus and searching Delaware State University`s lacrosse team for drugs. They found none.

Tomorrow on THE BEAT, we will talk with the team`s head coach, who says it was racial profiling.

That does it for me. You can catch me on "AMERICAN VOICES" weekends at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

THE REIDOUT is up next.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone.

We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with unprecedented action by the House Judiciary Committee -- the House January 6 Committee in the investigation into the insurrection. Today, the committee took the historic step of issuing subpoenas to their own House colleagues, including the House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, along with four others, Congressman Scott Perry, Jim Jordan, Andy Biggs, and Mo Brooks.

All had previously been asked to voluntarily appear before the committee. It comes as the panel steps up its efforts ahead of the public hearings that are planned for this summer.

In a statement, committee Chair Bennie Thompson acknowledged the previous requests for cooperation, saying: "Regrettably, the individuals receiving subpoenas today have refused. And we`re forced to take the step to help ensure the committee uncovers facts concerning January 6."

Now, there is precedent for issuing subpoenas to members for matters of ethics, but not for anything like what happened today. The fact is, you really don`t see the sitting leader of a political party being subpoenaed by Congress.

But it was seen as necessary, given Kevin McCarthy`s extensive conversations with the former president on January 6, including a phone call as the mob laid siege to the Capitol. Now, while Kevin McCarthy has so far failed to cooperate, he was very forthcoming on the day of the attack in an interview with CBS News.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I have spoken to the president. I asked him to talk to the nation to tell him to stop this.

I was very clear with the president when I called him, this has to stop, and he has to -- he`s got to go to the American public and tell them to stop this.

NORAH O`DONNELL, HOST, "CBS EVENING NEWS": Leader McCarthy, the president of the United States has a Briefing Room steps from the Oval Office. It is -- the cameras are hot 24/7, as you know.

Why hasn`t he walked down and said that now?

MCCARTHY: I conveyed to the president what I think is best to do. And I`m hopeful the president will do it.


REID: And, thanks to audio obtained by "New York Times" reporter Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns, we know that McCarthy revealed even more days later in a call with the House Republican Conference.


MCCARTHY: But let me be very clear to all of you, and I have been very clear to the president. He bears responsibility for his words and actions, no ifs, ands or buts.

I asked him personally today, does he hold responsibility for what happened? Does he feel bad about what happened? And he told me he does have some responsibility for what happened, and he needs to acknowledge that.


REID: Of course, just two weeks later, McCarthy went down to Florida to break bread with the disgraced former president and quickly changed his tune.

Since then, he has been determined to railroad any legitimate investigation. As for the others, the committee wants testimony from Jim Jordan regarding his communication with Trump and participation in a meeting, Scott Perry over his involvement in installing Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general, and Andy Biggs for his involvement in planning the rally that day and for seeking a potential presidential pardon for efforts to overturn the election.

As for Mo Brooks, who also is named in the rally planning and who gave a speech urging supporters to start taking down names and kicking ass, the committee is also interested in his public claims that the former president urged him to rescind the election, remove Biden and reinstall Trump as president.

It should come as no surprise at all five responded by questioning the legitimacy of the committee, while not explicitly saying whether or not they would appear. The question now is, what`s the recourse if they refuse?

Today, Chairman Thompson expressed caution at the prospect of holding the five in contempt of Congress.


QUESTION: What are the other steps other than contempt that you could take?

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Well, obviously, we`re exploring a number of ways we could -- contempt would be one. We have not talked about it.

There`s referrals to Ethics. The are some civil other things we could look at. But we have not put anything from a decision standpoint before the committee. We`re just taking it one step at a time. We hope everybody complies.


REID: Joining me now, Representative Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, a member of the House Judiciary Committee and an impeachment manager last year, Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for "The Nation," and David Jolly, a former Republican congressman who`s no longer affiliated with the party.

Congresswoman Dean, I`m going to start with you.

It used to be that we just assumed that a subpoena meant you appear and that there really wasn`t any question about it. It`s only in the Trump era where we learned that, apparently, they`re optional for some people if they just decide not to do them, that there aren`t really consequences for it.


But let`s talk about Kevin McCarthy for just a moment, because his views -- he says his views of the committee haven`t really changed. But they kind of have. Take a look.


MCCARTHY: Look, my view on the committee has not changed. They`re not conducting a legitimate investigation. It seems as though they just want to go after their political opponents.

QUESTION: Would you be willing to testify about your conversation with Donald Trump on January 6 if you were asked by an outside commission?

MCCARTHY: Sure. Next question.


REID: So he has expressed willingness. I mean, that seems to be what -- that would be normal, right? You`re supposed to comply if you get a subpoena. I can`t imagine just blowing off a subpoena.

But what do you make of the fact that none of these subpoenaed members so far have expressed a willingness to come forward?

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Well, good to be with you, and Elie and David.

I have to say, Joy, I have been shocked, but I shouldn`t be, all along. I was there on January the 6th. It was not an ordinary day. It was not a tourist event. It was not an ordinary day. It was outside our constitutional order of on a magnitude that I don`t think any of us has fully comprehended yet.

So nobody is above the rule of law. Nobody is beyond his own oath. And yet we see, with Mr. McCarthy, this chronic flip-flopping. I really can`t hold Mr. McCarthy to any of the words he speaks, because he speaks out of both sides of his mouth.

What is more impressive to me and what I think is more dire is that the rule of law still matters in this country. January 6 marked a moment. And I believe that committee, when they come forward in June with the public hearings, will reveal how precariously close we came to losing our democracy.

Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Brooks, Mr. Biggs, Mr. Jordan, Mr. Perry all have information that is relevant, that is important for the committee to have. And they should have come forward day one, voluntarily. And now they`re under subpoena. A subpoena has meaning and it has the weight of the rule of law.

REID: Well, that`s -- Elie, I mean, are subpoenas optional? Because it`s been a novel thing that we have discovered in the last five years, that, apparently, some people think they are.

ELIE MYSTAL, "THE NATION": If nobody is above the law, I would like that to be proven.

I would like somebody to prove that these people are not, in fact, above the law, because they have been acting like they`re above the law this entire time. Joy, when you say you can`t imagine what it must be like to just ignore subpoenas, that`s all you`re saying, is that you can`t imagine what it`d be like to be a Republican, because all Republicans have done to this committee is just ignore the subpoenas, and nothing has happened to them.

And so I say -- and I`m being totally honest about this -- if these five Republicans are going to ignore congressional subpoenas, and if the Democrats are not going to punish them severely for ignoring those subpoenas, then guess what? Congressional subpoenas do not matter for anybody anymore.

REID: Right.

MYSTAL: Because the only way to make it work is that, if these people ignore subpoenas and get away with it, then everybody gets to ignore subpoenas and get away with it, Facebook, Twitter, Pookie from the block, ever -- nobody has to follow a subpoena anymore if these five people don`t have to follow subpoenas.

That`s just how it has to work.

REID: I mean, isn`t it true that -- right. Could somebody that -- Elie, to stay with you for a moment, let`s say they`re in a robbery case or some other case or bribery case or something, and they get subpoenaed.

Could they cite these members and say, subpoenas aren`t real, they don`t mean anything, I claim, I don`t know, some sort of privilege, and I`m just not going to go? Like, can this be precedential?

MYSTAL: So let`s say that it happened to me. I got subpoenaed tomorrow, I said, no, no, I`m going to cite the Kevin McCarthy, Steve Bannon exception to subpoenas.

I could make that argument from jail, because that`s how it -- like, I would be -- I`d be writing my arguments from jail, being like, I don`t have to supply -- to support the subpoena, right?

And what hasn`t happened to these Republicans yet is that they haven`t had to do their arguments from jail, because the Department of Justice, the law enforcement branch of our government, has not taken the steps to enforce the subpoenas from the January 6 Committee.

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: And that is -- that is where we are.

REID: That`s what the problem seems to be.

David, thank you for being here.

So, Kim Wehle, she`s a constitutional law professor. She laid out some of the options that Congress really could theoretically take it. And she wrote this in "The Atlantic."

"First, Congress could vote to ask the Justice Department to criminally prosecute someone for being in contempt of Congress." They have done that before with Mark Meadows. Nothing`s happened.

"Secondly, it can rely on its inherent authority to have the sergeant of arms -- sergeant at arms for the House detain, bring to the floor and ultimately imprison the violator. Or, third, it can file a civil action in federal court, secure an order directing compliance, and ask the court to issue a contempt of court citation if the order is violated."

I cannot imagine -- and I don`t know if you can, having served with these Democrats -- any Democrat doing any of those three, David.


But I certainly can imagine, if Kevin McCarthy becomes speaker because Republicans take over the House, them using number two repeatedly, after subpoenaing for nothing, just making up kangaroo court charges against Speaker Pelosi...


REID: ... who would then be Minority Leader Pelosi, and Adam Schiff, and anyone else they don`t like, maybe Congresswoman Dean here for talking out of turn, in their mind, about their insurrection, and putting them in jail.


REID: Isn`t it the case that, if Republicans were to get back control of the Congress, they will have a kangaroo court, make up something they want to investigate Democrats for?

And they`re going to use these options. And they`re much more likely to seek prosecutions of Democrats, because that won`t look as partisan, if this same attorney general`s in place.

JOLLY: Look, I would think history suggests that`s true, Joy.

And I would also point to Kevin McCarthy`s own words that he`s going to seek retribution against fellow colleagues. I also think you will see the Republican Caucus move quickly to probably try to impeach Joe Biden on something yet to be determined, but I think they are poised for significant retribution.

And I think the important question here is, is to recognize it`s kind of in two parts. The first part today was groundbreaking, to have a committee issue subpoenas to sitting members of Congress, one who happens to be a party leader. That, in itself, is groundbreaking.

The question, though, then is enforcement, because they will not cooperate. I know Kevin McCarthy. He`s probably laughing about this tonight. He`s not worried about it.

And so the question is, will Congress be prepared to take some level of enforcement? That`s -- that will be a political question perhaps Ms. Dean could provide insight on. And then what is that enforcement action? It is a -- it would be a big lift on the legal. But it also depends on what the committee believes that these members know.

Do they know -- do they have information related to criminal culpability? Because, if so, that`s groundbreaking as well. It steps out of kind of the speech and debate and traditional privileges and protections of members of the House. And I think we don`t know yet what the committee knows, but we`re going to find out pretty soon.

And it`s the reason that Kevin McCarthy and others shouldn`t be laughing. They should be considering cooperating.

REID: But it`s also -- there`s also the question of what they think they know, Congresswoman Dean, but also how jealousy they guard their own power.

And I question that sometimes about Democrats. Like, do they understand power? Do they understand that they have it and that they can use it?

I`m going to read you these options again. Congress could vote to ask the Justice Department to criminally prosecute for contempt of Congress. They have done that before with Mark Meadows. It`s come to no effect. They could rely on their inherent authority and have the sergeant of arms just make these people comply, bring them to the floor and make them testify, or -- and even ultimately put them in that prison that`s below the Congress that we know is there.

Or they could file a civil action against them in court. Can you imagine Democrats, your party, doing any of those things?

DEAN: Let me push back on one thing, respectfully, Representative Jolly.

I don`t believe that any of the five who were subpoenaed today is laughing. I think they`re actually in a panic. I think that they are so fearful for their culpability that that is why you`re seeing this flailing and this, oh, the committee is illegitimate, speaking out of both sides of his mouth, Mr. McCarthy.

And if there were five sides of his mouth, he`s done that as well. So I disagree with that characterization.

These are very weak people who have information that is vital to the committee that Congress has every right to seek. And I talked to Chairman Thompson on the floor today. I talked to other members of the 1/6 Committee. I have to tell you, they`re proceeding so magnificently, meticulously, that...

REID: I don`t doubt that. Congresswoman, I don`t doubt that.

But I specifically would like to know, are they proceeding meticulously toward doing one of these three things? Are they going to file civil -- are they going to file a civil case against these people if they don`t comply? Are they going to have the sergeant at arms go get them? Or are they going to ask for contempt charges?

Can you envision them doing any of those things?

DEAN: I...

REID: Because I can promise you they`re going to do them against you if they get back control. They`re going to -- I hope you`re prepared, because they`re going to go after every Democrat they can get their hands on.

If they get back control, I know the answer to the question of whether they will do it. They will.

DEAN: I share your urgency and Elie`s as well. I absolutely do. I don`t know the answer. I`m not on the committee. I won`t speak for the committee.

But I do know that they recognize that this is unprecedented, as David just mentioned, that we have subpoenaed members of our own, and we have the constitutional authority and, frankly, responsibility to do that. And so we cannot do it without teeth. We cannot do it without enforcement. I can`t speak for the committee.

But this is the central question of this time in our history. Will we protect this democracy that I know the committee will show the American people came perilously close to collapsing under the weight of the January 6 insurrection, incited by a president?


And we need to know the exact participation of these elected leaders and the lawyers around the president. What did they know? When did they know it? When did they participate? What monies were involved? What coordination was involved.

And, as Mo Brooks talks about, the former failed president for more than a year is trying to get reinstated. This is madness. And we know that Mr. McCarthy talked to Mr. Trump in the lead-up to the insurrection, during the insurrection, heated conversations, as we revealed in our impeachment trial.

I look forward to the hearings that will be public before the American people, because you know what they will do. They will do exactly what we did with an incredible amount of information, more than 1,000 interviews or depositions, a tremendous number. As they have said to me, 99 percent of people have come forward.

REID: Well...

DEAN: That 1 percent, the closest around Mr. Trump and these elected officials. We will get the truth before the American people.

REID: Let me ask Elie very quickly, before we run out of time, to Elie and David.

What are the consequences for the country and for the republic if the Congress, if this committee is not able to get these members to comply?

MYSTAL: Yes, a coup that is not punished is just practice for the next one.

And I think that it`s very clear that the Republicans, if they don`t get punished for what they have done, they will just keep doing it.

REID: I think that is what I think too, David, and I think they are going to do it.

I think, if you look at the people who are running from secretary of state to -- down to school board, all the way up, they`re already putting in place the pieces that they need to do it again.

JOLLY: That`s right.

REID: And, this time, no one will resist. I see no one on -- I can`t think of any Republican who would resist, none.


REID: So, isn`t it the case that we are all -- we are simply going to tell the story of how it happened the first time as we prepare to watch it succeed the second?

JOLLY: Exactly.

I don`t think the coup ever stopped. And when you see Republicans say, we don`t want -- the nation doesn`t want to look backwards, we want to look forward, well, we are living through this. And we will be looking forward at the continuation of the coup.

And I think there`s a way to thread all of this together. I agree with Ms. Dean that these are very serious charges. My suggestion that Kevin McCarthy is laughing is not because he knows those charges are toothless, but because he is an arrogant person and an arrogant politician, which leads us to Elie`s point, which is, if you don`t crush the arrogance of leadership and make him realize that the law applies to you, just like it does the person down the street, then we are starting to lose our democracy.

And that`s what hangs in the balance as to whether the Congress enforces these subpoenas or not.

REID: I agree.


REID: I think that the Democrats, by and large, are good and decent people. But I think that playing by these Marquis de Queensbury rules, when you`re playing against people who are willing to cheat and steal and do whatever it takes to get power, and they`re willing to essentially dismantle democracy to get it, you all ain`t playing the same game.

You`re playing two different very different games. And the Department of Justice, you`re all playing different games than what the Republicans are playing. That`s what scares me.

Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, Elie Mystal, former Congressman David Jolly, I appreciate all three of you.

Up next on THE REIDOUT: One of the major consequences of Putin`s aggression is a stronger NATO. Now Russia`s neighbor Finland is set to join. And Russia is responding with even more threats.

Here in the U.S., Putin is the model for Republicans like Josh Hawley and Ron DeSantis on how to get what you want by brute force, whether it`s banning abortion or banning ideas that you don`t agree with.

Plus: the overwhelming grief after one million Americans lost their lives to COVID and how we reached that unfathomable number.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: Part of Russian President Vladimir Putin`s justification for invading Ukraine was to prevent it from joining NATO and strengthening the Western alliance by adding another member nation that shares a border with Russia.

Now, in the wake of the invasion, the leaders of neighboring Finland say they want to join NATO and would like NATO membership -- quote -- "without delay."

In a joint statement, the president and prime minister said NATO membership would strengthen Finland`s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance. Finland`s addition would double the shared border between Russia and NATO territories, and Sweden could follow suit.

The Kremlin responded to Finland`s decision, calling it a threat. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: "Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature."

This all comes as the fighting continues that Ukraine, with Russia making little progress as it suffers more setbacks and military losses on the ground.

Joining me now, retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO supreme allied commander and author of "To Risk It All: Nine Conflicts and the Crucible of Decision," which comes out later this month.

And I definitely will order a copy and can`t wait to read it.

And, Admiral Stavridis, how seriously should we take Russia`s barking and threats, when we now know that their military, which we thought of as the second biggest and largest and most formidable military in the world, is actually not all that great?

ADM. JAMES STAVRIDIS, NBC NEWS CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AND DIPLOMACY ANALYST: Yes, indeed. Putin and his friends in the Kremlin, their heads must be exploding tonight. They have gotten everything they don`t want.

And let me tell you, Joy, I have commanded Finnish troops. I have commanded Swedish troops. They fought alongside us in Afghanistan. They are professional, capable, well-financed . Those two nations together, their combined defense budgets are about a third of the budget of Russia alone.


So, this is a huge plus-up in capability for the alliance. And I applaud it.

In terms of, should the Finns be worried, I would say no. Putin has more than his hands full trying to unwind this military disaster he`s brought upon himself in Ukraine. He doesn`t have the capacity militarily to do anything of significance to Finland. And, on top of that, even if he would unleash a cyberattack, the Finns are very, very good at cybersecurity, Joy.

REID: And so, yes, the threats include new nuclear deployments, as Sweden and Finland join NATO. They have made all sorts of sort of threats.

And let me just put up the map here, just so we can just get an -- I love a good map -- just so that people can get a sense of what this looks like. This is -- there are 30 member states currently in NATO, and you can see them there in the green.

And so, if you then add Finland and Sweden, those little dark green little bits right there, voila. Suddenly, Russia, which, as you said, their whole excuse for invading Ukraine was that they were feeling like -- threatened by NATO. Well, now they`re going to be even more surrounded.

Do you think that, when this is all said and done, Ukraine should also be added to NATO?

STAVRIDIS: I think probably not immediately, Joy, because, frankly, we`re looking at a long term scenario there with Russian occupation. I think it`s going to be very difficult to fully dislodge Russia from Ukraine.

On the other hand, Finland and Sweden have no -- no incursions by Russia. Both have very long history, by the way. 1939, Finland was invaded by the Soviet Union, and they fought them to a standstill, much like the Ukrainians are doing today. That`s how Finland became a neutral state, by the way. That was a promise extracted at the time by Joseph Stalin.

Again, the irony here is really quite remarkable. Final thought, Joy, look to the north of that map. And I`m like you. I love a good map. Maps tell stories, right?

REID: Yes.

STAVRIDIS: To the north of that big tranche is the Arctic. Sweden, Finland, Norway all have Arctic front porch. That`s a real plus for the alliance, gives us additional leverage as we face Russia across the Arctic Sea.

REID: Wow. Fascinating stuff.

So let`s talk about the U.S. just for a moment, because Rand Paul of Kentucky, he`s done this before, but he`s once again holding up what feel like extremely urgent tranches of aid to Ukraine. He`s holding up this $40 billion aid bill. It`s going to pass, but he`s demanding alterations to the legislation. He wants an inspector general to oversee spending, et cetera, blah, blah, blah.

Do you -- how big of a problem is that you have this senator doing that, especially now?

STAVRIDIS: It really is so counterproductive in the cause of democracy and freedom.

And, as you know well, Joy -- you`re an expert on Washington politics -- this is the rare issue where there really is agreement across the spectrum politically, from Kevin McCarthy to Nancy Pelosi, from Mitch McConnell to Chuck Schumer. Everybody gets it on Ukraine, evidently except Senator Rand Paul.

He needs to be taken into the Cloakroom by some of his fellow Republican senators. I nominate Lindsey Graham for that duty.


STAVRIDIS: Lindsey Graham is a retired military officer. He gets the courage and the perseverance of the Ukrainians. He ought to take his colleague aside and say, look, this is not one to play politics with. No one else is doing.

REID: It`s really unbelievable.

Let`s talk just a moment about one of the other unfortunate sort of side effects of this war that Russia is waging on Ukraine. And that has been the food shortages and the disruption to the global food supply. It`s hitting particularly hard in the Middle East and other parts of the world, not so much the U.S.

But do you think that, ultimately, the Putinites in the Kremlin are correct, in that that might actually be Putin`s best weapon, is to try to drag down and wear down the West as food shortages start to hit in places like Europe, and gas prices continue to spike, and that that might actually weaken the resolve of the West?

STAVRIDIS: I think it`s unlikely that that strategy is going to succeed.

And, for starters, there are other major grain producers globally, including the United States, including Brazil. We are going to see some rewiring, if you will, in the flow of food stocks. It`s a concern, certainly. It`ll manifest, by the way, largely in North Africa and the Middle East.

But, overall, Joy, I don`t think that`s a winning strategy for Putin, any more than his theory of the case was he would cut off oil and gas to the Europeans, and they would curl up into a fetal position and cry and say oh, no.


That`s not what happened. Germany doubled their defense budget. There`s not going to be anything whistling through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline but air for the foreseeable future.

Again, the unintended consequences for Putin are really quite remarkable, from the NATO expansion we just discussed, to the war crimes that are being so visibly displayed, to the hollowness of his armed forces.

You know, kind of dictator 101...

REID: Yes.

STAVRIDIS: ... you want to come across as having a very powerful military.

Scratch a line through that one at this point.

REID: Yes, indeed.

Always a pleasure to talk with you, Admiral James Stavridis. Thank you very much, sir. Really appreciate you.

And still ahead: Republican...

STAVRIDIS: My pleasure, Joy.

REID: Cheers.

Coming up: Republican political theater can be plenty entertaining, until it starts targeting opponents` personal thoughts, rights and liberties.

More next. Stay with us.



REID: On February 16 1999, Paul Weyrich, the right-wing strategist best known for saying this:


PAUL WEYRICH, CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST: I don`t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now.

As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.


REID: That guy wrote a letter to the National Center for Public Policy Research, bemoaning the state of affairs in America and declaring: "I believe that we probably have lost the culture war."

He bemoaned MTV culture and the -- quote -- "cultural Marxism" that he believed had taken over America, saying: "The ideology of political correctness, which openly calls for the destruction of our traditional culture, has so gripped the body politic, has so gripped our institutions, that it is even affecting the church. It has completely taken over the academic community. It is now pervasive in the entertainment industry, and it threatens to control literally every aspect of our lives."

Weyrich said that he no longer believes that a Moral Majority, a term he originally coined, existed in America, or that a majority of Americans actually shared conservative views. His complaint sounded a lot like those of the right today.

And he named just one corporate villain who he claimed exemplified the rot, Disney. Disney had been the subject of a boycott since 1996 led by a coalition of groups called the Christian Family Association. The boycott lasted through 2005. Disney`s crime? distributing movies, such as "Priest," "Pulp Fiction," and "Sex, Lies and Videotape ," and such shows as Disney -- Disney-owned ABC TV as "Ellen," "NYPD Blue," Spin City," and "Nothing Sacred.

Fast-forward to today, and the American right is not doing what a dejected Weyrich recommended, withdrawing from America`s decadent culture. Instead, they have got a new tactic: force.

Their Supreme Court justices are opening the door to the state through bounties and, eventually, you can count on it, a national ban, forcing women to carry even their rapist`s children and give birth. And who knows how long before they come for your birth control pills and IUDs.

Their so-called anti-woke laws, they will -- they will just force teachers to teach the sanitized white Christian nationalist history that they prefer. They`re banning the books they don`t want kids to read or search for online to keep the gay stuff away.

They will bar you from protesting or voting if you think wrong or vote wrong. Ron DeSantis has pioneered punishing companies, notably Disney, for daring to criticize his anti-gay law

Enter Josh Hawley, saying, Ron, hold by beer. The pro-insurrection senator from Missouri has pulled the full Putin, pitching a law that would change the expiration date of Disney`s copyrights as punishment for their thought crimes, much like how the Russian dictator snatched McDonald`s intellectual property in Russia for their crime of pulling their franchises due to his war, and replacing the golden arches with Uncle Vanya`s.

It seems Russia is where Republicans are now getting their ideas.

Much more on how the Republican Party has become the party of Putin after the break.

Do svidaniya.



REID: Because conservatives now believe in the anti-capitalist act of punishing companies for exercising their right to free speech, Josh Hawley is attacking Disney for -- quote -- "pandering to woke activists" by speaking out against Florida`s don`t say gay bill.

Hawley is proudly boasting that his new bill would strip all corporations like Disney of special copyright protections. Currently, Disney holds its copyrights for 95 years, after lobbying Congress multiple times to extend that time frame from its original 56 years, allowing them to continue to keep the rights to the iconic character Mickey Mouse, which is currently set to expire in 2024.

But Hawley`s law would limit new copyright protections to 56 years and make the change retroactive, meaning Disney would lose that Mickey copyright. This law is not only unlikely to pass but, as friend of the show professor Laurence Tribe tweeted -- quote -- "Josh Hawley either slept through his time at Yale Law School or knows his proposed taking of Disney`s intellectual property without compensation is flagrantly unconstitutional."

And just like how Ron DeSantis` effort to shame Disney by removing its special status would cost Florida taxpayers $1 billion, with a B, "The New Republic" points out that Hawley`s effort could lead to taxpayers giving a multibillion-dollar payout to Disney for its property losses.

Joining me now, Charlie Sykes, editor at large of The Bulwark.

And, Charlie, I don`t know whether these people are communists or socialists, because both DeSantis and Hawley`s plans would actually give money. In DeSantis` case, he would retire their bond debt and hand that over to the Orange County taxpayer and the Osceola County taxpayers, make Floridians pay the bill, instead of Disney.


And, in Hawley`s case, basically, the government would have to pay Disney a whole bunch of money. What is this? It`s -- is it Putinism? Are they going to turn Mickey Mouse into, I don`t know, Don`t Hate Gay Mouse, and then that`s what their kids are going to watch? What is going to happen?

CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it`s certainly not free market capitalism.

What`s interesting about all of this is, there`s no real public policy issue involved here. It`s all about retribution. It`s all about the bonfires of revenge. And it is interesting how many Republicans use the word socialist.

The Democratic governor of Colorado, Jared Polis, has a pretty good sense of humor. He actually put out a tweet, saying -- talking about the socialist governor of the state of Florida, and saying that, if companies like Disney would like to come to Colorado, they are more than welcome, that he would provide asylum for Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

And what he was doing there is, he was trolling Republicans like Ron DeSantis, who talk about socialist policies. But who is actually using the power of government to take away private property right now? And the nakedness of this is really striking, that Josh Hawley would propose punishing Disney.

And we could have an argument about copyright laws and whether it`s good or not, but that is an intellectual property. And he`s making the proposal only because of things that didn`t Disney has said. So it is a direct attack on free speech.

And I have to say, you know, look, there`s a lot of distinctions between these guys and Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orban, but this fascination with illiberalism is spreading throughout the Republican Party, a party that used to say, hey, let`s protect private property, let`s protect private businesses. Corporations are people, right?

And now it is turned on its head completely.

REID: Well, I mean, the thing is, I don`t know that Jared Polis was kidding.

I mean, he coined a term that`s actually a real thing. Authoritarian socialism is what the old Soviet Union used to practice.

SYKES: Yes. That`s right.

REID: Essentially, it meant that you, as a corporation -- let`s say you were -- we consider corporations people in the old Soviet Union.

Well, you were a person who better do what the hell you`re told by the government, or else you will get punished by the government. That`s what authoritarian socialism is.


REID: It`s saying that the government will constrict your speech, and your speech must align with the government. Otherwise, you lose benefits.


REID: If your speech does align, you get perks.

That is authoritarian socialism. That`s what they`re practicing. It`s an old Soviet canard.

SYKES: Well, it is authoritarian socialism.

And I`m sorry, I left out the first word there, because what it`s also saying to every other business, that, if you get crossways with us politically, we will punish you.

REID: Right.

SYKES: We will take away your private property. We will pass special legislation targeting you for retribution...

REID: Yes.

SYKES: ... which is clearly unconstitutional.

But it`s very much a political tactic. And, look, this -- has been around for a while? Yes. But when people like Richard Nixon talked about using the power of the federal government to attack his critics, he did it in private.

Now, the mailed fist is out in public.

REID: Yes.

SYKES: And it really is extraordinary.

REID: You know, I -- So I -- in the previous block, we talked about Paul Weyrich.

And I had a real treat today reading his 1999 -- February 1999 letter that he wrote to fellow conservatives, really lamenting the fact that the right lost the culture wars. And that`s true. The right did lose the culture wars. There`s much more of a liberal view of LGBTQ people.

SYKES: Right.

REID: And there is a group of Americans who are traditionalists and who don`t like the fact that we have undone the old gender roles, the old racial hierarchies, and all of the hierarchies that they felt comfortable with, right, in the 1950s.

Weyrich essentially said -- well, he gave up and said there is no more Moral Majority. We can`t make -- we can`t make the majority of Americans think the way we do. And he was really lamenting it. It seems kind of sad.

SYKES: Right.

REID: But now it seems like what they`re doing on the right is, they`re saying, we`re no longer going to try to persuade the majority to want to go back to the old hierarchies that we`re comfortable with. We`re just going to make you go back.

We`re going to force the majority, 70/30. We`re the 30, but we`re going to force you to live in the 1950s. And if you don`t like it, too bad.

To me, that`s what is the through line, including with the abortion ruling, that they want to impose a right-wing Christian, their version of Christianity, view. And they know they can`t persuade people to want to live that way. So they`re just going to force people.

SYKES: Well, what`s interesting about that is, when Paul Weyrich says -- it was in 1999. And there were other Republicans who were saying, OK, let`s not continue to fight some of these rearguard battles.

But now you do have this strain on the right, people like Josh Hawley, and Ron DeSantis is obviously pandering to it, that think that they can win the culture war, but win in the way that you are describing, because it is interesting how little energy is put to persuading people...

REID: Correct.

SYKES: ... as opposed to now passing legislation.

Now, it`s one thing to say, I wish that people would make different choices about their life, their family, the kinds of families that they live in.


It`s something very different to now pass bills that impose this vision. And it`s happening very, very rapidly. Now, I think of it as kind of a last -- last gasp spasm, sort of like the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

REID: Yes.

SYKES: They have lost the culture war, but they`re going to go down fighting, and they`re going to take as many prisoners and inflict as many casualties as possible.

REID: Yes.

And what the Taliban discovered when they tried to impose their twisted version of Islam, which isn`t even really Islam, but they`re like, well, this is our version, and you`re all going to live there, you wound up with what Afghanistan is stuck with. You can`t change people`s hearts and minds by forcing them to live the way you want them to live.

You`re going to get resistance, ultimately. And that happened in South Africa. It happens in all of these societies where a minority tries to impose -- and particularly when it`s a religious view.

I mean, to me, what`s scary is that, as you have said, gone is even in the attempt at trying to persuade people that they have a better view or that they have a better way of making the world better.

SYKES: Right.

REID: They actually don`t care if we think that their way is better. They`re just going to make us live the way they want us to live.

And they`re going to get resistance. I don`t think -- I don`t know that they understand that the majority has already been persuaded, that we like a more liberal society. We like people being not stuck in the closet.


REID: We like the idea that little kids can see different characters, different races can be superheroes. Those things, people like them. That`s why corporations do them. That`s why corporations go along with it.


Well, this -- that`s what`s going to be interesting. I want to just pick up on your point about the corporations. The fight with Disney is just a -- think of that as an hors d`oeuvre for what`s going to happen, that, if, in fact, you do have people like Senator Hawley and DeSantis -- and, look, if have Donald Trump come back...

REID: And Rick Scott, Rick Scott too. He said it.

SYKES: Yes, you don`t think that -- oh, Rick Scott, well, and Greg Abbott in Texas. And if Donald Trump comes back, you know that will be central to their agenda.

But, I mean, so now this is going to be a big test for American business and corporations. Are they going to be intimidated? Will they fall silent?

REID: Yes.

SYKES: Because that is really part of the goal, is to make sure that they don`t engage in any of these cultural issues, that they don`t stand up for gay rights, that they don`t stand up for any of these things, don`t take these positions.

But I do think that these companies, they have employees, they have shareholders, and they have customers.

REID: That`s right.

SYKES: And they`re going to be caught between this political pressure and this culture that you`re describing.

And it`s going to be very interesting to see how this plays out, because, normally, Republicans have been reluctant to take on the entire business community.

REID: Yes.

SYKES: And I think that war is coming, though.

REID: Yes, indeed.

And when you pander to the far right and the extremes, you get what they`re getting in Pennsylvania, which is all the woo-hoo candidates all running against each other. And, like, oh, they`re all bad.

SYKES: It`s crazy.

REID: But too bad. That`s what you`re stuck with.

Charlie Sykes, thank you, man. Really appreciate you.

Coming up next: President Biden joins families, friends and colleagues who lost someone they loved in mourning and remembering one million American lives lost to COVID.

We will be right back.



REID: Today, President Joe Biden marked the loss of one million Americans to COVID-19


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We mark a tragic milestone here in the United States, one million COVID deaths, one million empty chairs around the family dinner table, each irreplaceable, irreplaceable losses, each leaving behind a family, a community forever changed because of this pandemic.

My heart goes out to all of those who are struggling.


REID: The remarks came during the president`s second Global COVID Summit, where he urged a reenergized international fight against the virus, even as Republicans here at home continue to block relief aid.

Administration officials warn that the U.S. could see 100 million coronavirus infections this fall and winter, which is all to say the pandemic isn`t over.

But we can`t pass that one million mark without talking about the lies from the previous administration that got us here, lie after lie, death after death. They boosted fake miracle drugs, spread lies that could kill.

And it didn`t have to be this way. They knew it spread in the air. Trump himself, who puffed out his chest, refusing to wear a mask, told Bob Woodward he knew COVID-19 was deadly stuff and airborne, but he wanted to play it down.

Meat-packing and other industries lied too to make people come to work when it wasn`t safe. Under the chaos, the cacophony of COVID politics and anti- vax hysteria, people lay sick, isolated from loved ones, who could only share their last words with the dying via iPad. So many died alone in those beds in isolation.

People buried their parents and grandparents and friends. Some even buried their children. It is an unprecedented American tragedy, an unthinkable one, really.

The brain struggles to compute the magnitude of that number, one million souls. Imagine the entire population of Austin, Texas, or Rhode Island gone in just over two years.

These Americans did not pass quietly. Their loved ones did not grieve quietly.

"I remember screaming," one mother told "The Atlantic," as she watched her 13-year-old son die from her phone.

But this tidal wave of grief has been denied by a Republican-backed mission to politicize this virus. And that denial continues even now.

And so we end tonight by taking a moment to honor these one million lives lost, people who mattered to their loved ones and to their country, a tragic toll we cannot repeat and should never, ever forget.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.