IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The ReidOut, 5/23/22

Guests: LaTosha Brown, Greg Bluestein, Nikema Williams, Michael J. Moore, Stacey Abrams


Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams discusses her campaign. Prosecutors in Georgia use Young Thug`s rap lyrics to make their racketeering case against him. The impact of Georgia`s restrictive new voting laws are examined. The Republican race for governor between Kemp and Perdue turns into a proxy war between Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Georgia Congresswoman Nikema Williams discusses voting restrictions in her state.


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

You can always find me on social media @AriMelber. Tell me who you think should crash "THE BEAT" next.

And keep it locked right here, because, as I mentioned, THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID has a very special guest live from Georgia starting now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone.

We are live tonight from Liberty Plaza in Atlanta, near the state capitol, on the eve of Georgia`s primary election. Now, there are several major races that we`re keeping a close eye on. And, of course, Georgia was ground zero for the disgraced former president`s scheme to steal the 2020 election.

Tomorrow, voters will determine if Republican attempts to steal the next presidential election will be stopped. Polls indicate that the race for governor will likely be a rematch of 2018 between incumbent Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams. Abrams lost that election by the tiniest of margins and is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination this year.

Now, from what we have seen so far in the political ads, Stacey Abrams is the star of the show in this election. All the Republican candidates, no matter what offices they`re running for, are talking about her.


NARRATOR: How dare you, Stacey Abrams, attacking Butch Miller for writing the law against transgender boys competing in girls sports?

NARRATOR: Chris Carr, Georgia`s conservative attorney general, he`s taken on President Biden and Stacey Abrams.

NARRATOR: It`s not Stacey Abrams. It`s RINO Brian Kemp.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Stacey Abrams and the liberal mob forced the All- Star Game to move.

Fauci, Stacey Abrams and the media, they all came after us.

We have got to keep Stacey Abrams from becoming our governor and our next president.


REID: Wow.

It`ll be up to the next governor to stand up to the big lie. And there are plenty of Republicans pushing that farce, including in the races for Senate and secretary of state.

And in the race for the Republican nomination for governor, former Senator David Perdue is looking for vengeance for his 2020 Senate defeat, blaming his opponent, Governor Kemp for allowing Democrats to -- quote -- "steal our election."

Today, Perdue said that he wouldn`t necessarily accept the results if he loses tomorrow`s primary.


QUESTION: Are you going to accept the results of this election?

DAVID PERDUE (R), GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it depends whether there`s fraud or not.

If this is a straight-up election, I`m going to support the winner of this, because my number one objective is to make sure Stacey Abrams is never governor of Georgia.


REID: The former president`s big lie in Georgia has also led Georgia to become ground zero for voter suppression with its Jim Crow version 2.0 voting law put in place last year by Republicans using a baseless assertion of fraud.

And Republicans, with the help from some in the political press, are now using the huge turnout in the primary so far to push a new big lie, that the record turnout, which is mainly from Republican primary voters, means that Georgia`s suppressive voting law is not suppressive at all, despite the fact that the voters that it was meant to harm most are not voting in contested primaries, meaning the real test for how the law affects them will come in November.

Joining me now is Stacey Abrams, Democratic candidate for Georgia governor.

And, Leader Abrams, thank you so much for being here.

I have to start with that, because I feel like a narrative is sort of congealing among much of the political press that comes from Republicans, but it is settling in even amongst some folks in my profession, that because lots of people turned out, 857,000 so far and counting, that means that there is no voter suppression in Georgia.

But I note, as I did in the intro, that it`s largely, substantially more Republicans. They are not the ones who had long lines. They get to breeze right through. They`re not the ones who have suppression. And this is in- person voting. This isn`t mail-in.

What do you take -- what do you make of this new narrative?

STACEY ABRAMS (D), GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think the most important piece is to winnow it down to this.

The equivalent of saying that more people voting means there`s no suppression is like telling people that, if you get in the water, there are no sharks. If more people get in the water, there are fewer sharks. There`s no correlation there.

Voter suppression is about blocking or impeding certain types of voters from participating in elections. And, as you pointed out, right now, Republicans have the most competitive elections. But what we also don`t know is, what is the mail-in ballot rejection rate?

REID: Right.

ABRAMS: What are the difficulties people are having?

But we do have some very real examples of what this law precipitated. Spalding County eliminated Sunday voting, something that was used by a burgeoning African-American community, to stop their participation in elections.

We know that, across the state, the change in state elections boards have changed how people engage. We know that people who would have voted by mail are having a difficult time doing so because of the wet signature requirements, that you have to print it out, sign it, and then take a picture and upload it and send it back, as opposed to being able to simply fill it out and send the absentee ballot request, and then send your ballot in.

And so what is happening is that people are looking at one metric...

REID: Right.

ABRAMS: ... and trying to extrapolate an entire narrative.

And the narrative is very clear. Voter suppression is not about stopping voting. It is about impeding certain voters from participating. And those voters, as you pointed out, are unlikely to be highly active in a primary.


But, that said, we do know that we are seeing outrage driving voters of color to the polls. And that`s the other thing that we used to say, and I said constantly. The antidote to voter suppression is voter turnout.

REID: Yes.

ABRAMS: They`re going to try to make it hard, so the more of us who show up, we overwhelm the system with our presence.

But to let them off the hook...

REID: Yes.

ABRAMS: ... for what they have done, simply because they didn`t do it as well as they thought, is, I think, nonsensical.

REID: Yes.

Well, and also because the law they put in helped some -- more of their voters turn out...

ABRAMS: Absolutely.

REID: ... well, that doesn`t say there`s no voter suppression against the other voters. It says it helped their voters.


REID: Anyway, let`s move on.

You are taking a lot of heat from everybody. I mean, I have been...


REID: When I get to the states, I always watch local TV, because I just want to see what`s on local TV. Well, it`s all political ads, of course.

And it was amazing to me that all the political ads featured you, even if somebody was running for dogcatcher. They`re like, but that Stacey Abrams, I`m going to fight her from this dogcatching spot.

You have also been getting a lot of heat from particularly Brian Kemp, but others, about something that you said. And so let me just play it. This was something that you said at a Gwinnett County Democratic gala. Here it is.


ABRAMS: I am tired of hearing about being the best state in the country to do business, when we are the worst state in the country to live.


ABRAMS: Now, somebody`s going to try to PolitiFact me on this, so let me contextualize.

When you`re number 48 for mental health, when you`re number one for maternal mortality, when you have an incarceration rate that`s on the rise and wages that are on the decline, then you are not the number one place to live.


REID: I mean, find the lie. I mean, where`s the lie?


REID: Why do you suppose that has caused so much contretemps?

ABRAMS: I think it was inartfully delivered.

My point was a point that I have made many times. And my passion in making this point is important, because we are listening to Brian Kemp give a -- give narrative about a record that does not reflect reality.

The more I go around the state, the more I talk to people who are deeply in pain, who are concerned about the fact that, just recently, he has declined pandemic SNAP relief for 1.6 million families, families that are struggling to find the way to take care of themselves and their children, who are trying to find baby formula.

He has said no to $120 million for those families. He struck $4 million from the state budget for HIV and AIDS protections. These are communities where we are number one in the nation in HIV diagnoses.

And so my point is well-intended, which is that, for so many Georgians, this is not the number one place to be. But we have the capacity for greatness. And if people didn`t splice the pieces they like and actually listen to my entire narrative, my point is that I want more for Georgia.

I believe in our greatness. I moved here the first time because my parents brought me. I came back the second time because this is where I want to live. And I think there`s a phrase in the black church that I love. It`s like, charge it to my head, and not my heart.

My heart is in Georgia. And there may have been a phrasing that I could have done better. But my intention and my -- and the reality is true. And that is Brian Kemp doesn`t care about certain communities in this state. And he has proven it by creating a criminal carry law, letting people who have been convicted of felonies, who`ve been convicted of domestic abuse carry concealed weapons, loaded concealed weapons, with no permit, at the same time that Georgia is number nine for gun violence.

We know that his behavior towards women, he is willing to eliminate abortion rights in the state that`s number one for maternal mortality. And we know that the decisions he`s making will hurt and kill women, especially black women, in the state.

And so, for me, the issue was this. You can either listen to him fight about my record -- I mean, my rhetoric, or we can ask him about his record. And Brian Kemp`s record is a failed record of leadership. And it is time for him to retire.

REID: And I should mention that we did invite Brian Kemp on. We tried to get some Republicans to come on. He declined, or he -- we did not get a yes from him. So he did have his opportunity to say what he needs to say.

It`s not just him. I mean, you have got David Perdue that`s also out there too. And I mean, his -- the way he put it, because he also did try to talk about the fact that -- I don`t think it matters where you`re born. Lots of people -- I know lots of New Yorkers that live down here. I have cousins that live down here. And I know they from -- originally from Guyana. They are here.

But Perdue tried to go at you.

Well, let me just play it. This is David Perdue. This is the other guy that`s running for governor.


PERDUE: Did you all see what Stacey said this weekend?


PERDUE: She said that Georgia is the worst place in the country to live. Hey, she ain`t from here. Let her go back where she came from if she didn`t like it here.


PERDUE: The only thing she wants is to be president of the United States. She doesn`t care about the people of Georgia. That`s clear.

When we saw in `18 what she did what she said, oh, we`re going to have a blue wave, we`re going to do it with documented and undocumented workers, I don`t think a lot of people in Georgia understood that, when she told black farmers, you don`t need to be on the farm, and you -- she told black workers in hospitality and all this, you don`t need to be -- she is demeaning her own race when it comes to that.


I am really over this. She should never be considered for material for a governor of any state, much less our state, where she hates to live.


REID: I find it very hard to believe that David Perdue is the great advocate for black people in Georgia.


REID: But he`s gone back to some 1950s phraseology about demeaning your race.

Your thoughts?

ABRAMS: I think that, regardless of which Republican it is, I have yet to hear them articulate a plan for the future of Georgia.

I have yet to hear them talk about why they will not expand Medicaid and provide coverage to half-a-million Georgians. Just across the street at the capitol, they passed a mental health parity law that will create parity in health insurance to get you mental health. The problem is, 1.5 million Georgians don`t have health insurance.

We are number two in the nation for the uninsured, which means the poorest among us who are in the most desperate need of help are still being told by this governor and this Republican Party, we will not help you. You don`t deserve our support.

I will stand on my record, I will stand on my work, and I will stand in the space where I have lived for -- I have lived in back for more than 20 years. And what I will tell you is that I love Georgia. I have been to every single county in the state.

And what I hear from person after person after person is, they just want a chance to thrive. And I challenge every Republican to stop focusing on the little bit of rhetoric and actually show me in your record where you are serving black farmers, instead of suing to make certain they can`t have access to the resources they have been begging for, for 40 years.

Show me where you are showing up in communities that are grappling with not only gun violence, but with hunger, and you`re solving that problem. Tell me how you`re going to make certain that families that need rental assistance will get it, because Brian Kemp has kept millions of dollars out of the hands of families in the middle of the pandemic.

He has been willing to help companies, but never help their workers. And that, to me, is the record we should be talking about.

I can apologize all day for my phrasing, but I will never apologize for my meaning. And that is that we mean to serve the people of Georgia and we mean to make Georgia better for everyone. And I want to lift everyone up.

REID: You know the thing about -- I do love Atlanta. It`s a great city.

But you -- it feels like a lot of the Republican rhetoric, not just here, in a lot of states, is speaking to one Georgia. Kemp and Perdue ,there`s one Georgia they`re speaking to, and it doesn`t look like us. And it feels exclusionary, that, like, we`re happy with what we have. Nobody who is -- who doesn`t have money, no one who isn`t wealthy, no one who isn`t white is part of their Georgia.

It just -- to me, as a person that`s just visiting here, that`s what sort of troubles me.

ABRAMS: Well, I think the challenge is even broader.

They don`t care about rural Georgians, regardless of color.

REID: Yes.

ABRAMS: They have allowed hospitals to shut down. Three hospitals have closed down during the pandemic.

I met a nurse whose aunt perished because the ambulance to save her life was going to have to take her to Alabama, because Brian Kemp was too mean and too cruel to expand Medicaid. I have talked to white families who are desperate to be able to afford a place to live. And it`s not just Atlanta. It`s Augusta. It`s Savannah.

REID: Yes.

ABRAMS: It`s Macon. It`s Albany.

It`s across the state, where they can`t afford to live, even if they`re making minimum wage or just a little above that. They don`t care about people who aren`t already flourishing. If you have got enough, they will help you get more. But if you need access, if you need support, if you need a hand, they will slap your hand away.

And that`s the problem in Georgia, that we have leaders who like to claim credit, but refuse to take responsibility.

I will take responsibility for who I am and for what I do. And I want to be the governor who takes responsibility for lifting the state up to the greatness that we deserve.

REID: And I met you in 2014, when you were first starting out registering voters, which is my thing. It`s the thing I care about the most, is voting and getting people registered.

And I remember the whole cycle of, you register them, Brian Kemp, when he was secretary state, knocking them off. You`re registering them, Brian Kemp knocking them off.

Are enough young voters, college students, voters of color going to be able to vote in November to have their say and to attempt to get who they want as governor?

ABRAMS: I believe we can.

If you look at the numbers, yes, Republicans are outperforming Democrats in the primaries. But, as you pointed out, they have hypercompetitive primaries. They`re spending millions of dollars beating each other up and calling me everything but a child of God.

But what we also have seen is dramatic increases in Democratic turnout, especially in communities that four years ago weren`t voting because they didn`t believe it was possible.

What we have shown since 2018, and certainly with 2020 and 2021, that it is worth investing. It is worth believing. And we`re going to work hard to make sure every person who wants to cast a ballot can register, stay on the rolls, cast that ballot, and have that ballot counted.


I have worked for the last four years. I haven`t been in office. So, I have been building organizations to help people across the state, paying off medical debts, but also making sure that their votes count in this election.

And despite what Republicans are willing to do to win, what I am willing to do is make sure every voice is counted, every vote gets cast. And even if they don`t vote for me, I`m going to fight to make sure our democracy works in Georgia, because that`s what leadership looks like.

REID: Stacey Abrams, thank you so much for spending some time in beautiful, beautiful Atlanta.

And we actually got a good day. We thought it was going to rain. We were a little worried.


REID: But maybe you -- maybe you helped bring back the sun. Thank you very much.

ABRAMS: Thank you.

REID: I don`t have to wish you good luck, because you are going to be the nominee.

So, thank you very much.

ABRAMS: Thank you so much, Joy.

REID: We will be watching.

Thank you very much.

All right, coming up next on THE REIDOUT: Prosecutors here in Georgia are using Young Thug`s rap lyrics to make their racketeering case against him. What About Trump? He`s on tape trying to subvert the will of Georgia voters.

Plus, this is the first time that we are seeing the impact of Georgia`s restrictive new voting laws we just mentioned. And it is a preview of just how bad things could get this fall.

And the Republican race for governor between Kemp and Perdue has turned into a proxy war between Trump and Mike Pence. And it sure looks bad for Trump.

THE REIDOUT continues live from Atlanta -- after this.




DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.


REID: That was the twice-impeached former president imploring Georgia`s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to just find him the votes that he needed to win. Raffensperger refused.

Tomorrow, Georgia voters will decide if Raffensperger gets nominated for a another term. Running against him is Congressman Jody Hice, who lies about the 2020 election and attended White House meetings in 2020 to discuss ways to decertify the Georgia vote in the House.

Trump is looking for all the help he can get in the state, because Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis and her team are investigating his infamous phone call with Raffensperger, as well as one that Senator Lindsey Graham made to Raffensperger on Trump`s behalf.

It`s unclear exactly what charges prosecutors would pursue. A special grand jury is set to meet next month. But Trump should be worried.

Willis just indicted two Atlanta-based rappers, Young Thug and Gunna and over two dozen of their alleged gang associates on a Georgia state RICO charge. And an element of that case is Young Thug`s lyrics allegedly bragging about their crimes.

In a letter to top-ranking state officials last month, Willis acknowledged that she was looking into a similar racketeering charge for the ex- president. And, clearly, she`d be able to use his bars in that call as well.

Joining me now, Michael J. Moore, former U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia who`s now a partner with the Moore Hall law firm.

And just found out that some good friends of mine from Georgia are friends of yours.


REID: And that is blowing my mind. I`m going to have to text them afterwards.


MOORE: Right.

REID: Thank you for being here.

MOORE: Glad to be with you.

REID: Let`s talk about that, because I do find this interesting.

I have been following the Young Thug...

MOORE: Right.

REID: I was telling you, I have been watching a lot of local news. The Young Thug thing is all over the news.

And what`s interesting and odd about that case is that his lyrics are being used against him...

MOORE: Right.

REID: ... his own words against him.

Now, normally, if you`re a rapper, you rap about maybe things you did in the past. You don`t your rap about your current crime. You don`t say, this is what I`m doing right now. Let me put a beat under it.

MOORE: That`s right. Sure.

REID: But it feels like at least that`s what Fani Willis is alleging that he did.

In the case of Donald Trump, that is the same thing.

MOORE: Right.

REID: Without the beat under it, he literally called up and said, let me commit this crime here. Just let me tell you what I`m doing.

MOORE: That`s right. That`s right.

REID: Do you see that kind of convergence there?

MOORE: I think it`s interesting that she`s using the RICO statute. There`s a discussion about it.

She really had two ways to go with the Trump case. She could have taken a very sort of a rifle shot approach at the case and used the tape.

REID: Yes.

MOORE: And I think we`d be far -- further down the road now. And maybe we`d be through some of the appeals that are naturally going to result from this.

REID: Yes.

MOORE: On the other hand, when you take the RICO case, it just tells you that she`s spreading out the net a little further.

REID: Yes.

MOORE: It`s unusual to see it in this type of case, because, really, the uniqueness about it is that the key figure was the president.

If you take the fact that he was an elected official, if you just said he was a candidate...

REID: Yes.

MOORE: ... you may not be having the same type of discussion, because was he sort of the head of the organization to move things around and move the pieces?

REID: Right.

MOORE: And I think you see...


REID: And the thing that`s interesting too is that you have a senator too.

Let me just read what he said. He said: "So, look, all I want you to do is this. I want you to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we need, because we won the state."

MOORE: Right.

REID: And then he goes through, and he says: "We won the election. It`s not fair to take it away from us like this. It`s going to be very costly."

Then he kind of threatens him. He`s like, you need to reexamine it, because these are crimes.

MOORE: Right.

REID: And so there is a threat involved. There is a specific request for what he would need to win. Then you have Senator Graham also calling Raffensperger.

In your mind, just as a lawyer looking at that, is that -- is that sufficient to form a RICO case?

MOORE: So, I think the Graham call is almost worse, because he was not a candidate in that particular election.

REID: Right.

MOORE: So he`s trying to meddle in something where he has no real interest, except he wants to control the Senate. And he`s calling a buddy, saying, can you do something about it?

When you take Trump, and if you take the idea that he`s -- if he was not a candidate, and he`s the president, that`s the strongest part of her case, right?

REID: Yes.

MOORE: Because he can threaten the prosecution or something else going on.

REID: Yes.

MOORE: At the same time, it may be a weak link in the case, because it may give him a reason to ask that the case be transferred to the federal court or removed to the federal court.


MOORE: Because if he`s acting as -- in his capacity as an elected official, he`s a federal official at the time, there will be motions back and forth to try to move the case.

REID: Yes.

MOORE: So the linchpin of the case may also become something of a weakness that she`s got to battle through the appellate courts.

REID: Let me just play really quick. This is Fani Willis. This is on the other case.

This is on the Young Thug case. This is what she`s been saying in the media.


FANI WILLIS (D), FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: It does not matter what your notoriety is, what your fame is. If you come to Fulton County, Georgia, and you commit crimes, and, certainly, if those crimes are in furtherance of a street gang, that you are going to become a target and a focus -- focus of this district attorney`s office, and we are going to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.



REID: I have to ask you just as an attorney.

MOORE: Sure.

REID: Is it more -- does it trouble you on First Amendment grounds that somebody`s lyrics -- this is entertainment -- can be used to form a criminal case?

Or do you think that there`s something different about this particular case?

MOORE: I think that it`s something that maybe can be used to paint a little bit of the picture.

It troubles me to think, from a First Amendment perspective, that that`s something that they would serve as the basis for a conviction.

REID: Sure.

MOORE: And I hate to see us moving necessarily in that direction.

REID: Yes.

MOORE: If she`s telling and story, and she`s got wiretaps, and she`s got witnesses, and she`s flipped some witnesses to talk about what went on in the street gang...

REID: Yes.

MOORE: And then she tries to say, yes, they even talk about it here, that`s a little bit different thing...

REID: Right. Yes. Yes.

MOORE: ... because it`s sort of a -- it`s not -- it`s sort of circumstantial. It`s not really direct evidence of what went on, but something that they can point to.

REID: Sure. Yes.

MOORE: That gives me a little bit of problems. Just I worry about that.

REID: A little bit, right. I was thinking the same thing, because -- I`m not a lawyer, but it`s just -- it`s like -- because a lot of these, it`s purely fiction, right?

MOORE: Right.

REID: I hate to break it to you all, you all. The rap stuff, they`re making that up. They didn`t do any of that.

MOORE: Right.


REID: But, anyway, in this case, she`s saying that he did.

It`s so great to have you.

MOORE: It`s great seeing you, absolutely.

REID: Thank you very much.

MOORE: It was a pleasure. It was a great pleasure.

REID: Great to see you, Michael J. Moore, the other Michael Moore.


REID: Thank you so much for being here.

Still ahead: Tomorrow`s Georgia primary will be the first taking place under Republicans` new voting restrictions, as well as under 2020 redistricting.

Georgia Congresswoman Nikema Williams will be here next to discuss the implications for Georgia candidates and voters.

We will be right back.



REID: We have spent a fair bit of time talking about tomorrow and which way the dust will settle within the Republican primary, but the race is also a test for the state`s Democrats, some of whom are finding themselves in new competitive districts.

Now, the results of tomorrow`s elections will run headlong into the state`s restrictive voting laws come November.

Joining us now, Representative Nikema Williams, who also chairs the Democratic Party of Georgia, and LaTosha Brown, co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund.

I`m very upset that I did not get the memo to wear that beautiful shade of blue. I feel very left out.


REID: But that two-shot is gorgeous. You ladies look amazing.

I`m going to start with you, Representative.

It is interesting that you now do have in this state some people that are running against each other that normally probably would not. So, Carolyn Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath, who are two solid Democratic congresswomen, now competing with each other because of redistricting.

REP. NIKEMA WILLIAMS (D-GA): It`s unfortunate.

REID: Yes.

WILLIAMS: But those are the stakes -- the hands that we were dealt with the redistricting, the gerrymandering in this state.

We know that we showed the country Georgia is a 50/50 state. And when it came to redistricting, Republicans were hell-bent on making sure that they redrew the lines to make sure that Democrats did not have an even voice, an even say. So what they did was, they made a new member of Congress, Lucy McBath, who flipped the district in 2018.

REID: Newt Gingrich`s district, not just any district too.

WILLIAMS: Newt Gingrich`s district.

REID: Yes.

WILLIAMS: A black woman.

REID: Yes.

WILLIAMS: They gerrymandered her out of her district and made it a district that was not competitive, after she won decisively a second victory in 2020.

So here we are. And this is the hand that we have been dealt, and we refuse to allow the Republicans to tell us which members of Congress we`re going to send back. And so now these two great Democratic women are running against each other in tomorrow`s primary.

REID: Yes.

And it`s interesting, because just watching their ads, it`s forcing Democratic base voters to choose between abortion rights and gun reform, like, because their ads are very different. They`re both very compelling. But I didn`t even realize until we came into the meetings -- I have been watching all their ads, saying, oh, these are two great candidates. They`re in the same race.

So I wonder if that just complicates it more. Added to that, we still do have this restrictive voting law. And Stacey Abrams just said earlier you can cover it up all you want and say, yes, lots of people voted.

WILLIAMS: That`s right.

REID: But that`s lot of Republicans voting.


REID: That doesn`t tell you what`s happening with the laws.

LATOSHA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTERS MATTER: That`s right. And we`re seeing that across the board.

At the end of the day, just because it`s -- it`s like making the argument saying, well, because people were able to escape from slavery, slavery didn`t have an impact.

REID: Right.

BROWN: The bottom line is, it absolutely has an impact.

Even as we have been talking to voters, there`s a sense of anxiety. What we`re seeing is, we`re seeing down numbers, low numbers really when it comes to voting absentee...

REID: Right.

BROWN: ... the ballot boxes, all of those things, all those voting tools that people had access that may or may not work a traditional 9:00-to-5:00 job and the numbers -- and to have access to being able to vote during the regular voting hours.

And so I think we`re going to -- we`re seeing the impact. We`re feeling the impact. We`re seeing the impact, but we`re doing the work. And then just because the numbers are coming up, I mean, that`s reflective of people being determined and being upset about what is happening, right?

WILLIAMS: Exactly.

REID: Right. That`s right.

BROWN: And we`re expending resources, time and energy...

REID: Yes.

BROWN: ... to try to offset this racist law that has been put in place to punish black voters for participating in the last election.

REID: It`s like saying, you are going to have to the jump over this hurdle.

Now, I`m going to raise the hurdle and another two feet.

BROWN: That`s right.

REID: And if you jump over it, say, see, there`s nothing wrong with the hurdle. The hurdle is fine.

WILLIAMS: And, Joy, we have said all along, well, we shouldn`t have to organize our way out of voter suppression.

We`re going to do what it takes to make sure that our people have a voice in this electoral process.

REID: There`s an interesting race. I mean, you know I don`t want to talk about Marjorie Greene, but she has an interesting potential general election race.


There`s a black man who`s running. And he`s running ads. His ads are on almost more than anybody else`s.

WILLIAMS: I actually went to high school with him.

REID: Did you go to high school with him?

WILLIAMS: In Alabama.

REID: It is so interesting watching his race.

So he is -- let me find -- Marcus Flowers. That`s his name. Marcus Flowers.


REID: He`s running these interesting ads that are all biographical. He doesn`t mention her. So, if you didn`t know any better, you wouldn`t know he was running against her.

WILLIAMS: That`s right.

REID: But what`s happening in his district -- and I want both you guys to comment on this -- is now there are at least two majority black towns because of redistricting.

If Marjorie Greene were to win reelection, she would now be representing a substantial number of African-Americans. That, to me, sounds terrifying for them, but...

WILLIAMS: Which is unfortunate.

And the voters in that district, in the Cobb County part of that district, which used to be in David Scott and Lucy McBath`s district...

REID: Yes.

WILLIAMS: ... they showed up during the hearings at the state capitol. They made their voices heard. They want it to keep their community together.

Like, this is a district that touches my district right here in Atlanta, Joy, and it sprawls all the way up to the Tennessee-Georgia line. So, these aren`t communities of interest. This is Republican gerrymandering at its best, where they have designed this state to make sure that they can control how many Republican districts are in the state representing Congress.

REID: It feels, LaTosha, like they designed voting law to make it only easy for their voters to vote...

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

REID: ... and then say, see, look, it`s a great law for everyone.

And then they have designed these districts to essentially take black voters` power and shove it underneath somebody like Marjorie Greene, who has no interest in these people at all.

BROWN: Absolutely.

REID: It`s complete -- I mean, how do you motivate voters when they`re facing all of that?

BROWN: Joy, even to say how egregious it is that, when you look at the last census, right, 100 percent of the population growth in the state of Georgia were communities of color.

REID: Yes.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

BROWN: And so, somehow, they drew this district and gerrymander it such a way that, whether they packed districts, which were -- they put districts, they put communities of color together, or they cracked them, right...


BROWN: ... where they would split them up, like what we`re seeing in this case, they were able to do that and actually come out of a map where they actually have more representation, although a higher percent of the growth have been communities of color.

REID: Right.

BROWN: And so what we have to do -- and we know this in the state of Georgia. That`s why this gubernatorial election is so important.

We have got to take over the state of Georgia state politics from the top of the ticket on down...

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

REID: Yes.

BROWN: ... because we cannot continue to be punished because people participated.

We`re seeing that they have just been just steeling.

REID: Yes.

BROWN: They`re literally creating a process so that they can steel the elections.

REID: And this is the thing.

And I will ask both of you to comment on this, because what happens is, when then people vote, and then they say, well, I voted for X, and it doesn`t happen. But you don`t control the state mechanisms.

BROWN: That`s right.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

REID: You don`t control them. Then it can`t happen. And Republicans are very good at not letting anything happen for communities of color.

Then those same communities of color feel dissatisfied and say, well, there`s no point in me voting. It`s a vicious cycle.

BROWN: That`s right.

REID: How do you fight that vicious cycle?

WILLIAMS: There are local levels on the ballot right now. Every state legislative seat is up for a vote this year in Georgia.

So those state House seats, those state Senate seats that control the process here at the state capitol right behind us...

REID: Yes.

WILLIAMS: ... those are on the ballot right now.

And so we have to encourage our voters to turn out to vote for those leaders, so that we can change the face of power and this capitol. Vote for our gubernatorial race. And our secretary of state`s race is on the ballot...

REID: Yes, of course.

WILLIAMS: ... which controls everything when it comes to elections in this state.

REID: Yes.

How do you communicate that to voters who are saying, but I voted already, I didn`t get anything?

BROWN: So, we have been -- when we talk to voters, we talk to voters about participating in the process. This is more about participation. This is really about power.

REID: Yes.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

BROWN: How do we wield power? And when do you have enough power, right?

REID: Right.

BROWN: You have enough power when your communities are taken care of, when your schools are adequately funded, when you have access to health care.

We don`t currently have that.

WILLIAMS: That`s right.

BROWN: And until we actually have the kind of resources, the kind of representation that we deserve in our communities...

REID: Yes.

BROWN: ... we have got to continue to fight.

REID: Yes.

BROWN: And so, when we talk to our voters, and we`re talking to people on the ground, that`s what we`re talking to them about.

We`re saying that we`re at this turning point in the state of Georgia, where there is a new coalition of voters that are rising up, white voters, black voters...


REID: Yes.


BROWN: ... multiracial, multigenerational voters.

REID: Yes, absolutely.

And, listen, the Republicans voted for 50 years to get rid of Roe. They never got tired.

WILLIAMS: Fifty years.

BROWN: That`s right.

REID: That`s what, we`re going to -- we will keep voting for 50 years.

WILLIAMS: Fifty years.

BROWN: That`s right.

REID: And we will go up and down from dogcatcher on up until we get rid of Roe. And they never got tired.

So, that -- I guess that`s the question, is, how do we make sure that...

BROWN: That`s right.

REID: ... that voters of color and that young voters never get tired? You got to vote until you get what you want.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

BROWN: You got to get the power.

REID: Until you put enough people in there to give you what you want. That`s how you get what you want.

WILLIAMS: Joy, I sit in the seat that was held by Congressman John Lewis.

And the words that he said, this isn`t the fight of a day, a month or a year. This is the fight for a lifetime...

REID: That`s right.

WILLIAMS: ... until we get the power that we need to represent our communities, because it`s not just power for power`s sake.

REID: Yes.

WILLIAMS: It`s to get what we need for our communities.

BROWN: That`s right.

REID: To get what you need.

BROWN: That`s right.

REID: The beautiful sisters in blue. Look at this. Can we get another two- shot?


REID: Come on now.

Congresswoman Nikema Williams, LaTosha Brown, please text me with the color next time.


REID: Thank you, ladies.

Up next: signs that some Republican candidates are starting to distance themselves from Trump as he apparently advocates for a civil war.

More from Atlanta when we come back.



REID: Tomorrow`s Republican gubernatorial primary in Georgia is the pinnacle of the battle between Trump and Republicans attempting to chart a future without him.

The race pits incumbent Governor Brian Kemp, who refused to overturn the election in 2020, against former Senator David Perdue, who Trump personally lobbied to run against Kemp. But Perdue`s campaign has stalled, with a recent FOX News poll showing him trailing Kemp by more than 30 points.


As "The New York Times" notes, Perdue`s impending downfall looms as the biggest electoral setback for Trump since his own defeat in the 2020 election. There`s perhaps no context in which the former president has done more to try to influence the outcome.

It`s proof that running on Trump`s name and the big lie alone does not guarantee Republican support. Kemp`s likely victory tomorrow is at least partially thanks to the Republican Governors Association, which, as "The Washington Post" reports, responded to Trump`s vendetta tour against Republicans like Kemp by deciding to spend millions of dollars in primaries, an unusual step for an organization that typically reserves its cash for matchups against Democrats.

The RGA invested $5 million in the race, while Perdue has struggled to raise funds to compete. And, as "The Post" notes, a parade of Republican governors and luminaries have lined up to protect Kemp, most strikingly, Trump`s former vice president, Mike Pence.

Pence has been distancing himself from his former boss for months, saying that Trump was wrong for thinking that Pence could overturn the election. And, tonight, he`s making his biggest public break from his dear leader, campaigning for Kemp on the same night that Trump is holding a tele-rally for Perdue.

Now, let`s just be clear. Pence is not doing this solely out of concern for the future of the Republican Party. More on that after the break live from Atlanta.



REID: Former President (sic) Mike Pence just wrapped up his campaign event in support of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.

But it`s also clear that Pence is setting the stage for a presidential run of his own in 2024, possibly going head to head with the president he treated with utter devotion, right up until the moment the boss sent a violent mob to the Capitol to threaten and maybe hang him.

As "The New York Times" points out, this is an emphatic break between the one-time running mates, who have not spoken for nearly a year, but have also not publicly waged a proxy war until now. Pence`s aides say he knows full well that going down to Georgia, he knows what that represents.

Joining me now, Jason Johnson, professor of journalism and politics at Morgan State University, Greg Bluestein, political reporter for "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," who`s in Kennesaw, Georgia, the location of tonight`s Kemp rally.

I want to start with you on this.

We have got a little bit of sound for Pence -- from -- of Pence doing his campaign shtick for Brian Kemp. Let`s play that real quick.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tomorrow`s primary election comes down to this: Who is best positioned to defeat Stacey Abrams and the national Democrats that will descend on Georgia in this fall`s election?

Well, you know the answer? Brian Kemp beat Stacey Abrams four years ago, and, with your support, Brian Kemp will do it all again in November of 2022!



REID: Greg, what was the energy? I mean, we can hear the cheers there. What was the energy for Pence? Because we know a lot of base Republicans wanted to hang Mike Pence.

GREG BLUESTEIN, "THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION": Yes, there was hundreds of Republicans here, mostly mainstream Republicans who have endorsed Brian Kemp, who have supported him, a lot of stalwarts from his 2018 campaign, a crowd of hundreds, not an overwhelming crowd, but really a crowd that you would see at many of Brian Kemp`s events.

This was just a closing rally. And the message you heard from Vice President Pence was a lot of -- that was kind of the summation of the entire message he had throughout this -- his rally, which was that Governor Kemp would be more electable than David Perdue. He did not once mention Donald Trump.

REID: You know what`s interesting, Jason?

When I tell you every ad here is about Stacey Abrams...


REID: ... I mean, she`s pretty much the -- I mean, I don`t care what you`re running for.

JOHNSON: This is the thing.

When you have that kind of brand, but you have made yourself an intimate part of Georgia, they can`t escape it.

REID: Right.

JOHNSON: And they can`t turn her into a monster either.

So I`m not surprised. Kemp says that he wants this rematch, but he also has no choice about this rematch.

REID: He has no choice, right.

JOHNSON: Exactly.

And I think Abrams, in particular -- look, I was just talking to some activists and organizers in the southern part of the state. They`re seeing massive early turnout. They`re seeing three times as many people who turned out in 2018, 150 over what they saw in 2020, despite the voter suppression being put forward by Raffensperger, by the current governor.

I think -- I wouldn`t say they`re scared yet.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: But if you`re bringing down somebody like Mike Pence, it`s because, basically, Kemp knows, I have got to get these mainstream Republicans, because he may lose the MAGA crowd once it comes down to the fall.

REID: Right. That`s right.

And that is the question, Greg, is whether or not the MAGA crowd, who hate Kemp because he didn`t throw the election to Trump, will be strong enough voters for him. Perdue said he might not even accept the results of the election. So how does the Republican Party then organize for Kemp, because the other side is going to be 100 percent organized for Stacey Abrams?

BLUESTEIN: Jason is exactly right.

I mean, the biggest fear for Governor Kemp right now is that a portion of that MAGA crowd never comes back, never comes back into the fold. And he`s using Stacey Abrams as this sort of arch villain who can galvanize Republicans, whether they be pro-Trump Republicans or whether they be more moderate Republicans, all to channel their fury to the ballot box.

And he wants -- he has not let up whatsoever. He is -- even with the polls showing him well above the 50 percent mark, Brian Kemp wants to show that he has a mandate. He wants to close the door shut, nail the coffin shut on David Perdue`s political career tomorrow.


REID: Well, and, also, he doesn`t want a run-off.

JOHNSON: Right. He doesn`t want a run-off.

REID: Because you don`t how that`s going to go.

JOHNSON: And he doesn`t want Perdue to say like, I`m going to run as an independent.

REID: Right.

JOHNSON: Or for Perdue to keep screaming and pouting all the way through the fall.

This is a very precarious time, honestly, for the state Republican Party. They could blow this. They could blow this on a lot of levels. And they`re not just running against Stacey Abrams. They`re running against basically Stacey Abrams and Raphael Warnock...

REID: And Warnock, yes.

JOHNSON: ... extremely popular people. And then they still have the albatross of Herschel Walker that they`re going to have to deal.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: Does Brian Kemp really want to run with him?

So they`re in a tough spot. This may not be as easy for Republicans as it was in 2018.

REID: I -- even, look, the Marcus Flowers thing, it`s a very, very red district.


REID: But it is not going to be a not-interesting race.


REID: So, all across, I mean, you`re going to have now black constituents that are going to be stuck in that district with Marjorie Greene.

And they got this guy, who actually is appealing. He`s not running an ideological campaign.


REID: He`s not a far left-wing candidate. He`s like a military veteran with his great, like, biography.


REID: So it does feel like Republicans are setting up in Georgia for not a cakewalk.

JOHNSON: No, no.

And they have done this to themselves.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: The voter suppression has resulted in people being more angry, more galvanized, more committed to the voting process. And that doesn`t mean that the voter suppression isn`t affecting people.

REID: Right.

JOHNSON: It just means that it`s gotten people more and more organized.

REID: It`s made them mad.

JOHNSON: Yes, it`s made them mad.

And here`s the thing going into the fall. You have two relatively popular candidates.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: Yes. Nobody can say anything mean about Warnock.


JOHNSON: Nobody can say anything mean about Stacey Abrams, who was like the Federation in "Star Trek."

REID: Right. Right.

JOHNSON: Like, look, these are people who have kept themselves connected to the state. They haven`t gotten brand-new. They haven`t gone Hollywood.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: And that`s going to be a real challenge for the Republicans.

REID: Greg, I guess the question then becomes in November, who has more pull here, Pence or Trump?

I mean, does Pence actually have any kind of -- does he have a fan base? Like, if Trump decides that he hates Kemp so much that he`d rather see him lose to punish him, could Pence help at all in November?

BLUESTEIN: I think this is more important for Pence than it is for Trump.

Trump is still by far the most popular Republican figure in Georgia. And he will continue. He`s not going to wake up on Wednesday and suddenly decide that he likes Brian Kemp, after more than a year of disparaging him.

REID: Right.

BLUESTEIN: So Brian Kemp still has to worry about the Trump effect.

But the thing he might have going in his favor and the thing I keep on hearing from the Democratic strategists that they worry about is that, in contrast, in comparison to David Perdue, Brian Kemp, who is the first lifelong Republican governor in Georgia history, very conservative, seems a little bit more mainstream.

So he could try to use that to pick off some more middle-of-the-road voters, by comparison to David Perdue.

REID: Let`s talk a little bit of national politics here.

So there`s a couple things that have gone on, Jason. You have got the Ron DeSantis surge among base Republicans. So, Wisconsin does this straw poll. Ron DeSantis actually beats Donald Trump. So, if you like Trump, but you want somebody that`s Trump without a sense of humor...


REID: ... and that`s an open fascist, rather than a one with -- with a -- than a funny one, you go with DeSantis, right?


REID: You have got that happening.

You also have this statistic, which is terrifying. At least 357 sitting Republican legislators are closely -- in closely contested battleground states have used the power of their office to use -- actually used it to try to overturn the 2020 election. That accounts for 44 percent, four in 10, Republican legislatures in nine states have tried to actually overturn the election.

How that wind up affecting November?

JOHNSON: You see it in every single state.

It has been a cliche my whole life, your whole life. We have all heard, this is the most important election. But, no...

REID: Now this is.

JOHNSON: ... the last four have been the most important elections in your life.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: You have got people running now. You have got secretaries of state running in Georgia. You have got the challenger to Raffensperger. You have got the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania.

You have Republicans now who are running explicitly to overturn any election that does not elect a Republican in 2024. And you and I both know. You have had people run in the past is like, I`m going to bring this state to -- that`s not what these guys are saying.


JOHNSON: They`re saying, I don`t care what the vote is.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: Pennsylvania is going to go to the Republican in 2024. I don`t care what the vote is. I`m going to find those 11,000 votes that Donald Trump was asking for.

REID: Right.

JOHNSON: So that is the danger that we`re facing nationally this year, while people are still facing voter suppression by some of these legislators.

REID: Yes.

Greg, so I guess the question is just the tea leaves around Kemp and Raffensperger. If given the order to do it -- to do it again, given the order again in 2024 to flip the election, do either of them say no?

BLUESTEIN: I would wager, yes, they would say no, because, look, they would be in their second terms. Governor Kemp wouldn`t be able to -- wouldn`t run again if he wins, right?

And so they`d be freer. And, certainly, he owes no -- he owes Donald Trump no favors. Raffensperger might be the most fascinating politician this entire cycle in Georgia, because, a year ago, people including me, counted him out thought, that he wouldn`t even qualify.

And now he`s looking like he`s headed at least toward a run-off against Jody Hice, the congressman who`s backed by Donald Trump. This guy was a pariah, Raffensperger, among Republicans, and now he`s got a real shot and maybe an outside shot of an outright victory.

REID: Who wins the gubernatorial -- I mean, it`s going to be Kemp, right?

JOHNSON: Yes. Yes.

REID: A run-off?

JOHNSON: Well, I don`t know -- he`s going to win -- the nominee.

REID: I mean the nomination.

JOHNSON: The nomination.

REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: I don`t know if he`s going to win this fall.

But the other race I want to talk about real quick is Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath.

REID: Ah, yes.

JOHNSON: We`re going to ended up losing a great member of Congress, no matter who ends up winning tomorrow.

REID: Yes, no matter what happens.

That is such a shame. They are two solid candidates.

JOHNSON: Yes. Yes.

REID: And one of them is going to be no longer in Congress.

Jason Johnson, Greg Bluestein, great conversation. Thank you all very much.

And that`s it. That is tonight`s REIDOUT. Thank you all for joining us from beautiful Atlanta.

And "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.