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Transcript: The ReidOut, 5/6/22

Guests: Tom Nichols, Kurt Bardella, Jim Obergefell, Kimberly St. Julian- Varnon


Russian forces continue their brutal and unrelenting assault on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the landmark same-sex marriage case decided by the Supreme Court, discusses the risks to LGBT rights if Roe falls. Rudy Giuliani backs out of talking to the January 6 Committee at the last minute. Texas wants out of its commitment to educate all children in the state.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And let me know what drink you might want going into this weekend.

All right, that does it for us. Thanks for spending time with me, as always.

"THE REIDOUT" starts now.

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. I`m Jason Johnson, sitting in for Joy Reid.

We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the battle for Ukraine.

Russian forces continue their brutal and unrelenting assault on Azovstal Steel in Mariupol, where 200 terrorized civilians remain hunkered down and looking for a way out. The United Nations is racing to rescue more civilians from the labyrinth of tunnels under the besieged steelworks factory, with two busloads leaving today.

People who were able to flee describe horrifying conditions, with little food, water or medicine. Roughly 2,000 Ukrainian fighters remain holed up in the plant, refusing to surrender to the Russian invaders, for fear of being tortured or imprisoned.

The steel factory remains the last bastion of resistance in the city that Putin desperately wants to vanquish. You see, the autocrat wants and basically needs to claim victory over Ukraine, or at least part of it, ahead of Russia`s biggest patriotic holiday on Monday.

May 9, or Victory Day, is an annual celebration marking the defeat of Nazi Germany that showcases the country`s military might, with thousands of soldiers, tanks and vehicles marching through Moscow`s Red Square. It`s also become an annual display of bellicose anti-West nationalistic propaganda.

We`re getting a glimpse of that on state television, where a pro-Putin filmmaker warned that every barbaric tool was on the table, including concentration camps, reeducation camps, and sterilization.

Today, Amnesty International confirmed that Russian forces have committed a series of war crimes outside of Kyiv and the agency demanded Russia face justice for their crimes.

This comes as another Putin ally who was visiting Kherson, a city invaded by Russia, told the city citizens that Russia will be in the region forever, and that there would be no return to the past.

Despite what Russia might say, American defense officials report that Russian progress has been slow and uneven, due in part to the fierce pushback from Ukrainian forces that have stalled their overall momentum in the north.

Late this afternoon, President Biden announced that he was sending additional assistance to Ukraine, including additional artillery munitions, radar and other equipment.

Given those realities, Tom Nichols, contributing writer for "The Atlantic," warns that the West should embrace -- should brace itself on May 9 -- quote -- "Putin will be keen to help U.S. military avenge the humiliation of its abysmal performance in a war where every advantage, including size and geography, initially appeared to be on the side of the Russians."

Tom Nichols joins me now, along with Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon, historian and Ph.D. Student at the University of Pennsylvania.

Thank you all so much for starting off this show.

Tom, I will start with you.

When you talk about what Putin is going to have to say, and how he`s going to have to describe this, I want you to go into detail. I liked your piece in "The Atlantic," but this idea that Putin is going to have to explain to his own people and to the world that will be watching how his underperforming army is somehow still something to be proud of.

TOM NICHOLS, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, it depends on which avenue he takes.

One way he could go is to say, yes, it`s been a really tough slog, because we`re really fighting NATO. That`s been the narrative in the Russian media. That`s been the new position, newish. I mean, the war is only two months` old. But that`s been a relatively recent position that they -- that the Russians have started to emphasize, because that`s the only thing for them that makes sense.

We can`t possibly be losing to the Ukrainians. That was never supposed to happen. Therefore, there must be some other culprit involved here. And it has to be the United States and NATO. The other possibility is that he could simply take advantage of the fact that his own people have no idea what`s going on in Ukraine.

And he will say, we have actually won. We have denazified the country. We never really intended to roll into Kyiv. And we`re -- we have created Novorossiya in the south, and everything is going just fine and according to plan.

I don`t think he can really sell that. And I think he`s pretty angry about the fact that there`s a lot of internal dissent and even dissent within the Kremlin. It`s pretty clear that only Putin and a handful of people thought this was a good idea, and that a lot of the people even in his closest circle either didn`t know or didn`t think this was a good thing to do.


And so he may decide to say, now it`s really war. It`s -- this is all-out war. I`m going to mobilize the country and all of its resources and start drafting people, big time, to fight this war, as a way not of fighting the war, because you can`t draft people fast enough to do this, as a way of shutting everybody up.


Professor, I want to dig into this idea more, because Tom mentioned the thing that I`m thinking about. How informed do we know that the Russian people are about this war in Ukraine? I mean, the United States, we get a certain amount of information. The Europeans get a certain amount of information, but do the people there, do the people all throughout Russia, did they really know what this war looks like?

Do they really have a sentiment as to what`s going on, or are they so completely enclosed in sort of a propaganda bubble by their own government that they wouldn`t know if they`re winning or losing unless Putin tells them one way or another?

KIMBERLY ST. JULIAN-VARNON, HISTORIAN: I think it depends on where we`re talking about in Russia.

So, if you think about the major metropolitan areas, like Saint Petersburg or Moscow, there probably are many avenues by which Russian citizens can get outside information, although many of them, such as Facebook and Instagram, have been shut down.

Or, if you think about far out in Siberia, in Omsk, in -- even in the north, probably not. And so we have to think about the situation in which the people who could know about these outside developments in Ukraine are probably those who are taking to the streets now in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

But the other people, those millions of Russians who do not have access to mainstream Western European media sources or American media sources, they probably are buying Putin and the Kremlin`s take on this war, because it`s the only information that they`re getting.

But, also, think about this. If you`re in an information vacuum, is it easier to believe that the world is against Russia and it`s causing this war against its brother country and killing innocent civilians, or is it easier to believe that NATO is attacking you, and you`re fighting this war on your own?

So I think we have to remember that, that Russia is so diverse, but also it`s diverse in its means of getting information, that we can`t kind of blanket every Russian the same when we think about the types of information that they`re able to receive.

JOHNSON: Tom, I want to follow up on this idea of Russia is at war with NATO, right?

Ukraine is not a part of NATO. Ukraine has tried to get into NATO at different times, and NATO has said no. So, given the fact that the country is not in NATO, hasn`t been able to get into NATO, but, of course, is getting resources from NATO countries because they were attacked, is that the kind of thing that you think that your average Russian citizen is really aware of?

I mean, if you say, hey, I`m attacking these guys because they`re Nazis, all right, fine. Then the Russian state media can sell that story. But isn`t it kind of hard to sell people on the idea that you`re going to war with NATO with a country that is actually not in NATO?

NICHOLS: It`s not hard at all, because one thing that never ended when the Cold War ended was that NATO is an epithet. It`s literally a four-letter word in Russia.

And even people closer to my age, who lived through the Cold War in Russia, even though even those who lived through the Yeltsin -- the administration of Boris Yeltsin, a much friendlier time to America, still deep down believe that the United States and NATO caused everything.

I mean, it really is almost the point. If there`s a blizzard, it`s because of NATO. If your dinner wasn`t -- you`re in a bad -- you got a bad dinner at a restaurant, it`s because of NATO. I mean, Russians have become -- over the course of 70 years, they have just become used to blaming NATO for everything.

And so it`s a really easy villain to kind of just pull out of your hat to say, yes, Ukraine is not in NATO, but the only way we could have been -- the only -- in a way, it`s part of the Russian inferiority complex, that the only way that Russians could really lose, I mean, it has to be NATO, because we`re never as good as NATO.


NICHOLS: And so, if we lose, by definition, there had to be some kind of shenanigans going on with NATO, which is, of course, more -- always more powerful and better than we are.

JOHNSON: Yes, it`s the classic, oh, you only won because my controller was broken, and you had a bigger team and squad.

Yes, I mean, that -- and that`s part of, I think, what`s interesting to me, again, the amount of information, the lack of information, who understands it.

Professor, this is an interesting quote, when we talk about what Russian citizens may or may not be hearing leading up to the days of May 9. You have this quote here from the president of Belarus, which is a nation that is generally in support of Russia and generally considered an ally.

And their President Lukashenko said: "I am not immersed in this problem," when asked about what`s going on in Russia. "I am not immersed in this problem enough to say whether it goes according to plan, like the Russian say, or like I feel it. I want to stress one more time I feel like this operation has dragged on."


Now, I got to tell you, if one of your allies is like, this ain`t working, is that the kind of thing that is breaking through, if not to regular Russian citizens, then perhaps Putin`s inner circle, that one of your allies, they can`t even keep up the lie anymore?

ST. JULIAN-VARNON: I think it probably is getting into Putin`s inner circle, and it probably is being spread around Moscow and Saint Petersburg, if it`s getting out to Belarusians in Belarus.

This is a big deal that Lukashenko is not waving the Russian flag for Putin, but also, from my understanding, Lukashenko won`t even be in Moscow for the big Victory Day celebration. So I think what we`re seeing is, Lukashenko is kind of revealing the mask and showing that this is not going the way we thought it was going to go and the way Lukashenko thought it was going to go.

But, moreover, Lukashenko is the president of a country that has been a base for Russian troops to leave to fight Ukraine, and those Russian troops aren`t leaving Belarus. So, in a way, he`s the president of a Russian- occupied country as well. So, perhaps he could be seeing the writing on the wall that what happened in Ukraine can certainly happen in Belarus.

JOHNSON: Yes, I think it`s very clear that the Russians, the United States, I think most of the world probably thought this would not last very long. They probably assumed that Zelenskyy would leave within a week or two and become a president in exile. I don`t think anyone estimated this kind of resistance from Ukraine.

With that being said, Tom, this Sunday, President Biden will be in a Zoom with Zelenskyy. Obviously, the United States has sent additional funding, additional aid. What do you think Zelenskyy is still doing at this particular point?

I mean, look, the money is being sent. He`s not going to get into NATO. That, again, is a potential trigger for a World War III. So what do you think he`s wanting to tell President Biden, other than, we`re still here, we`re still fighting?

NICHOLS: I don`t think there`s much more he can say, other than, send weapons and send them fast, because what -- you mentioned, what is Zelenskyy doing every day?

Just trying to survive.


NICHOLS: Just trying to keep his army in the field and his people together.

But I think what`s really important about the phone call is the symbolism of it, to say that, yes, we are not forgetting about this. I mean, Americans have a notoriously short attention span. And I think the Russians have been counting on that.

And, by the way, I`m one of the people who thought this would be over in a week. I overestimated the competence of the Russian military. But I think that the Russians now are kind of counting on, if this just drags out, the West will forget about it.

And that`s kind of an implied threat to the Ukrainians all along. Don`t count on anybody helping you. No one`s going to save you. In the end, you have to live with us, as the people you quoted at the beginning said. We will be here forever. Of course, that`s what the Soviet Union said.

But that`s -- I think having Biden calls Zelenskyy is a way of saying, we`re -- you`re still here, and so are we.

JOHNSON: Right, right. Yes, it`s the don`t forget about us.

And I -- as much as the American attention span is very short, I don`t think anyone`s forgetting about this conflict anytime soon.

Tom Nichols and Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon, thank you so much. Thank you so much for starting off the show today.

Still ahead on THE REIDOUT, Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the landmark same-sex marriage case decided by the Supreme Court, joins us to talk about the risks to LGBT rights if Roe fails.

Plus: Rudy Giuliani backs out of talking to the January 6 Committee at the last minute -- surprise -- putting him on deck for a contempt charge.

And later:


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): The Supreme Court ruled against us on the issue about denying -- or, let`s say, Texas having to bear that burden.

I think we will resurrect that case.


JOHNSON: Texas wants out of its commitment to educate all the kids in the state. What other Supreme Court decisions are suddenly at risk?

THE REIDOUT continues after this.




GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Across a spectrum of issues, where is the Democratic Party? Where`s the party?

Why aren`t we standing up more firmly, more resolutely? Why aren`t we calling this out? This is a concerted, coordinated effort. And, yes, they`re winning. They are. They have been. Let`s acknowledge that. We need to stand up. Where`s the counteroffensive?


JOHNSON: About time somebody said it.

Responding to the impending end of Roe vs. Wade, California Governor Gavin Newsom channeled the urgency of many that are feeling that the Democrats need to mount a more forceful response.

There`s no doubt people are fired up, as Democrats raised $12 million in the 48 hours after Justice Alito`s draft opinion was leaked. For many, this goes beyond just the assault on abortion rights. Legal experts have made clear it`s a slippery slope from Alito`s argument against Roe to the erosion of other rights, like marriage equality.

Justice Alito argued the right to abortion isn`t protected by the Constitution, citing a previous court decision that due process rights must be -- quote -- "deeply rooted in this nation`s history." He made the exact same argument as his dissent in Obergefell, the Supreme Court decision in 2015 mean that legalized same-sex marriage.


Alito said then -- quote -- "It is beyond dispute that the right to same- sex marriage is beyond these rights."

And, of course, Republicans have explicitly linked the two issues. Their 2016 party platform, which they basically photocopied in 2020, calls for the appointment of conservative judges who will enable courts to repeal so- called activist decisions, including Roe, Obergefell, and Obamacare.

With me now is Jim Obergefell. He was the lead plaintiff in the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges and is a Democratic candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives.

Jim, thank you so much for joining me this evening.

I don`t get nervous often, but I consider you to be a bit of an American hero. I have so many friends whose lives were changed in a wonderful way because of your courage. So, I`m extremely, extremely excited to talk to you this evening.

I just want to start with this. People are hearing about this case now. Some Americans paid attention. Some didn`t. How did you get involved in the Supreme Court case that eventually made same-sex marriage legal and constitutionally protected in this country?

JIM OBERGEFELL (R), OHIO STATE CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, thank you for having me on, Jason, and thank you for those kind words.

This wasn`t something John I had ever planned, my late husband, John. It just happened. When the Supreme Court struck down the Windsor -- or struck down the Defense of Marriage Act with their Windsor decision, I proposed. And John and I simply got married because we wanted to do that. We had been together for so long.

And it was just a series of events that we could have never planned or expected that resulted in us meeting a civil rights attorney, Al Gerhardstein, who said, you have a problem. And that started our case in federal district court in Ohio, and eventually ended up at the Supreme Court.

So it wasn`t planned. It wasn`t dreamt up. It wasn`t something we had ever expected.

JOHNSON: So, after you saw the leaked Roe ruling, like everybody else, I`m sure you became concerned. I`m sure you said, OK, what actions are next?

I want to ask you this. As someone who knows that your life and your lifestyle decisions could be next after Roe, do you feel that political forces and America have been aggressive enough in coming to the aid of the LGBTQ community? Do you feel like the Democratic Party, the ACLU, do you feel like there`s enough of a hue and cry right now, or are people still sort of backtracking and trying to figure out what to do?

OBERGEFELL: There`s definitely concern out there.

And I`m hearing a lot of organizations, a lot of people talking about marriage equality and the threat that right faces in this country, as well as just general LGBTQ+ rights.

But this decision, this Roe vs. Wade decision, it`s a road map to take away so many rights that we have enjoyed in this nation, the right to marry, the right to have intimate relations with someone without that being illegal, the right to interracial marriage, a woman`s right to control her body.

There are so many rights that we are lose -- we stand to lose because of what this decision says. It simply is a road map to take us back not to the 1950s, like people like to say, but, in my mind, back to the 1850s, because this court seems to think that the Constitution can only be interpreted as at the time it was written.

And that would -- that would take away all of these -- all of the progress we have made in civil rights in this nation. And that should frighten everyone. So I`m hearing a lot of noise. Could we be louder? Could we be doing other things? I think we can always say, yes, we could do more, but we are spreading the word and we are raising -- raising our hands in the air to say we are at risk.

We are at -- in danger. Our rights are very close to being taken away.

JOHNSON: Yes, the whole idea that the court would make any ruling where it`s like, well, these rights have to be grounded in the history of the Constitution.

Look, the history the Constitution doesn`t say I`m supposed to be here, so -- let alone you should be able to live your life. So that`s not really a good precedent.

I want to talk about also just this sort of idea of how this has embolden the right again to attack all sorts of different kinds of communities. We just had a group of congressmen -- this was reported in "The Hill" -- GOP senators have called on the TV ratings board to help parents shield their kids from LGBTQ characters.

Senators who signed the letter include Roger Marshall from Kansas, Mike Lee in Utah. They told "The Kansas City Star" that they`re worried about TV shows like "Danger Force" and "She-Ra."

By the way, "She-Ra" was fantastic.

They`re angry about cartoons that actually show LGBTQ characters living peaceably with other people.

Do you see this also leading, Roe also leading to just overall comfort in bigots coming after any representation of the queer community in popular culture?


OBERGEFELL: Oh, absolutely.

It`s happening with television characters, as you say, books in our school libraries, in our public libraries. And let me say this. That argument that seeing queer characters on television or reading about a queer character in a book will somehow -- somehow harm a child or make that child change their sexual orientation or their gender identity, that is simply ridiculous.

If things worked that way, I would not be a gay man. I grew up seeing no gay men in pop culture. If that -- if it worked that way, I would be as straight as they come, because everything I saw, everything most of us saw for most of our lives was nothing but heterosexual, you -- I would marry a woman, I would have children, and that was it.

Well, clearly, that did not groom me to be straight, because I wasn`t born straight. I was born a gay man. And this argument that characters on television will harm children, just utterly ridiculous. This has become now the latest culture war.

And the Republican Party, what do they stand for? What are they doing to make the lives better for anyone in this nation? All they can do is attack people who are different, people who do not believe the way they do, people who do not look the way they do.

And, honestly, Jason, that`s one of the reasons I am running for office, because we need people in state legislatures who can take up the slack, because we are going to lose these rights. The Supreme Court is going to take them away. And it`s going to be up to state legislatures to step in and say...

JOHNSON: And fight back.

OBERGEFELL: ... this does not represent who we are as a people. This does not represent the values we say America stands for.

Everyone, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, black, white, immigrant, Asian, you name it, we are all part of we the people.

JOHNSON: All under threat.

Look, if the Republican Party...

OBERGEFELL: And we`re all under threat.


If the Republican Party thinks that "The Loud House" and Disney are the greatest dangers to the American people, they don`t deserve to stay in office.

Jim, thank you so very much for joining this evening, and best of luck in your campaign. Thank you so much.

OBERGEFELL: Thank you.

JOHNSON: Ahead: Rudy Giuliani head-fakes the January 6 Committee, pulling out of a scheduled interview at the last minute. Now he`s on the hook for a potential contempt charge.

We will be right back on THE REIDOUT.



JOHNSON: To date, the January 6 Committee has interviewed more than 970 witnesses in connection with the Capitol insurrection.

Today, Rudy Giuliani was supposed to join that list, until he bailed at the last minute. According to a tweet from Donald Trump`s former personal lawyer, it was because he wanted his voluntary testimony to be covered live on national television, or at least recorded, which was denied.

Giuliani`s lawyer said he nixed the meeting because the committee would not allow him to record it. Of course, it shouldn`t be surprising that Giuliani would want to turn his meeting into a public spectacle. That is all he did following the 2020 election while he traveled the country peddling false election fraud claims.

We all remember that infamous Four Seasons Landscaping presser, you know, the one hell between a crematorium and an adult bookstore.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Because they don`t decide the election. The call for Joe Biden isn`t -- who was it called by?

QUESTION: All the networks.

GIULIANI: All the -- oh, my goodness, all the networks. Wow. All the networks.

We have to forget about the law. Judges don`t count.


JOHNSON: You can`t make this stuff up.

Or how about when he appeared alongside Sidney "Unleash the Kraken" Powell, as what looked like black hair dye poured down his face? And how do we know that he was acting as the pied piper of election disinformation? Well, he told us.

CNN obtained a video of Giuliani`s sworn deposition in a defamation suit filed by a former executive of Dominion Voting Systems. In it, he said under oath that he doesn`t attempt to confirm the veracity of all his wild allegations before repeating them publicly.


GIULIANI: It`s not my job in a fast-moving case to go out and investigate every piece of evidence that is given to me. Otherwise, you`re never going to write a story. You never come to a conclusion.


JOHNSON: Joining me now, Barbara McQuade, professor at the University of Michigan school of law and a former U.S. attorney, and Kurt Bardella, adviser to the DNC and DCCC.

Barbara, I will start with you.

I`m going to ask you the basic question that I asked every single time that most average Americans who are not lawyers are asking: Why is this man not in jail?


JOHNSON: Why is he not in jail right now?

He skipped a court hearing. If I skip traffic court, they will come to my House. So why is Giuliani not in jail right now?


BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, you know, you raise an excellent point, Jason. I think we all agree with that.

I think that he has been working with the committee to try to work out some sort of negotiation. And the committee, when there are executive branch sensitivities, does try to work through this what`s called negotiation and accommodation process.

And, until recently, he`s actually been at least pretending to want to negotiate. I don`t know whether it`s been genuine. And if you can work that out, then that`s favorable. You can get the information that you need without going to court.

But, at the end of the day, he`s -- all he says is, he wants to call the shots. He wants it to be recorded. He wants to put bits of it on television, no doubt, or on social media. And the committee doesn`t have to let him call the shots.

And so it`ll be interesting to see what move is next. But, certainly, one power they have is to refer this to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. But, as we have seen, they have not been incredibly eager to do that in most cases. They did charge Steve Bannon, but there have been some others that they have not charged, at least not yet.

JOHNSON: So, Kurt, you know that old phrase, pics or it doesn`t count.

Look, I get Giuliani saying, hey, I want this to be public, I want this to be a spectacle. And I understand why the committee doesn`t.

But this leads to a larger question that I`m concerned about, Kurt. Later on this year, we know the January 6 Committee, they`re going to have these public hearings. Is there a legitimate fear and concern? Because Giuliani wanted this public because he knows that he can manipulate the crowd. He knows he can get the viral moment.

Is there a chance that, when Democrats do these committees later on in the year, that they`re going to lose the narrative, that it actually plays into the hands of Republicans, who like making crazy viral moments on TV that get repeated by Tucker?

KURT BARDELLA, DNC AND DCCC ADVISER: Jason, this is where I think that Kevin McCarthy really screwed up.

When he vacated the committee and dictated that his members and his caucus would not participate in the committee, he surrendered the ability really to make this a show. We see it all the time in other proceedings. We saw it with the Supreme Court nominations -- confirmation hearings.

We have seen it all the time with oversight, with characters like Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz hijacking the proceeding with their shenanigans and their clownery. Well, that`s not going to happen, because the two Republicans on this committee, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, they believe in the core mission of this -- of this proceeding.

So it`s going to be a lot harder for any witness who goes before this committee proceeding when these hearings start next month in June to try to hijack it, to try to filibuster, to try to run out the clock, to try to redirect the entire proceeding with nonsensical questions that have nothing to do with the topic.

They`re not going to be able to do that, because every single member that`s on this committee...


BARDELLA: ... believes in the work of the select committee.

And that is where Kevin McCarthy really screwed up, because Donald Trump`s going to be watching these proceedings, and he`s going to lose his mind when he sees that nobody`s out there defending him.

JOHNSON: So, Barbara, I want to think about this.

The January Select Committee, they had a couple of topics that they wanted to talk to Rudy Giuliani about. They wanted to talk to him about promotion of his claims that the 2020 election was stolen, attempts to disrupt, delay vote certification, urging the former President Trump to seize voting machines, contact with former President Trump on or around January 6.

Here`s my question. You can ask Rudy Giuliani these things, but we kind of already know what his answers are going to be. And so, at this point, I understand the need and the desire to collect as much information as possible. But the public needs to understand that this is just collection of information that will eventually be handed to the Department of Justice.

Is it really going to be that big of a deal if Giuliani doesn`t testify, if he`s already been singing in sort of previous interactions with the committee?

MCQUADE: Well, one of the things that you can obtain when you question people, of course, is helpful information.

But, as you say, we probably know everything he`s going to admit to that could be helpful information. But there is value in putting someone under oath and locking them into a story, whether he says, I don`t recall, or if he says, this is the way it happened, because it makes it more difficult later for them to back down from that, to say that something different happened.

So, even if it`s not very helpful, we used to do this all the time when we conducted grand jury investigations. There was a witness that might be friendly to a target of an investigation. If you could put them in the grand jury, at least lock them into their story, so you know what it is they`re going to say later, that can be very helpful to investigators.

And so, on the theory that they should leave no stone unturned, and they should listen to people who not only have incriminating evidence against Donald Trump, but also information that might be exonerating and important to know, let`s give him an opportunity to come in and tell us what he knows.

And I think that`s what`s happening here.

JOHNSON: Kurt, current, a spokesperson for the January 6 Committee said: "Mr. Giuliani is an important witness to the conspiracy to overthrow the government, and he remains under subpoena. If he refuses to comply with the committee, we will consider all enforcement options."

To, me that is a Susan Collins-esque strongly worded letter.

What kind of enforcement options do you think the Democrats -- because, as far as I`m concerned, the enforcement option should be an orange jumpsuit and a perp walk on nightly television right between sitcoms, right?


But we know they`re not going to do that.


JOHNSON: So, what do you think the next options are going to be?

BARDELLA: Well, they`re clearly hinting at holding him in contempt, which they have obviously done before with Steve Bannon.

Honestly, Jason, I`m of the mind-set -- and I`m going to wear my former Republican Oversight Committee hat here -- I could tell you this. If this type of sequence happened when we were there, I would have been in a meeting with the chairman, saying, all right, let`s call his bluff. He wants to do this on tape?

Let`s have a hearing tomorrow, put his ass under oath. And let`s ask him some questions and make him answer them, because we know he doesn`t want to do that. That`s why he`s playing this entire game.

Republican Trump enablers are assuming that the Democrats on the committee don`t have the stomach for some of these fights. They watched Steve Bannon completely blow this thing up, walk away, without any type of real penalty or consequence. Giuliani is doing the same thing. He says he wants us on tape, put him in the witness stand, have a hearing, and make him do it under oath.

JOHNSON: I need a full Judge Judy moment with a large bailiff who`s going to consider him to be rude and drag him out. That`s the only way that I think that people will think the Democrats are taking this seriously.


JOHNSON: Barbara McQuade and Kurt Bardella, thank you so much for joining us on THE REIDOUT tonight.

Up next: the trickle-down effects of a conservative Supreme Court poised to strike down Roe vs. Wade. What other advances in civil rights and liberties are now at risk? And what impact will it have on the upcoming midterms?

Stay with us on THE REIDOUT.



JOHNSON: Just days after the leaked draft on Roe, Texas Governor Greg Abbott joined a right-wing radio talk show to announce a possible challenge to a SCOTUS decision from 40 years ago mandating free public education to all children, including undocumented immigrants.


ABBOTT: Texas already long ago sued the federal government about having to incur the cost of the education program.


ABBOTT: It`s a case called Plyler vs. Doe.

And the Supreme Court ruled against us on the issue about denying -- or, let`s say, Texas having to bear that burden.

I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again, because the expenses are extraordinary, and the times are different than when Plyler vs. Doe was issued many decades ago.


JOHNSON: Yes, nothing like a sarcastic air quotes "pro-life" Republican to declare brown kids as a burden.

Joining me now are Democratic strategist Juanita Tolliver and Fernand Amandi, both MSNBC contributors.

Very excited to talk to you both tonight.

Usually, I like to leave the twice-impeached, multiple-times-convicted president in the past. But I have to start with this audio. And I have to get you all`s thoughts on this, not just on how this affects the midterms, but what this says about what Democrats are facing when they do January 6 stuff.

We have a quote here. We have sound from Mark Esper. It aired tonight on CBS Evening News. I`m going to play this sound and then get Juanita`s thoughts and then Fernand.


MARK ESPER, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: And the president pulls me aside on at least a couple of occasions and suggests that maybe we have the U.S. military shoot missiles into Mexico.

I had to explain to him, we can`t do that. It would violate international law. It would be terrible for our neighbors to the south. It would impact us in so many ways. Why don`t we do this instead?

NORAH O`DONNELL, CBS NEWS: You politely pushed back on the idea.

Did President Trump really say, no one would know it was us?



JOHNSON: I can`t believe 74 million people voted for this -- sorry.

Juanita, what are just your first thoughts? As somebody who works in Washington, D.C., and members of administration, what is your thought on just hearing this?


It is sickening that Trump suggested it. It is sickening that Esper had to play nice when he heard it. But even after that, Esper even went on to say that he still didn`t think that was enough to remove Trump from office, right?

So I`m -- it just shows the hold that Trump had on everybody around him, who was too afraid to push him or call him out. But let`s be real. Trump`s history of violence toward black and brown people is no surprise. Like, I`m not surprised by any of this, right? He also said, let`s shoot protesters after George Floyd`s death. He also said, let`s shoot migrants at the border.

So he has made it very clear what he thinks about black and brown people. But I just keep coming to the fact that no one was willing to stand up to him, and that Esper really sat on this to write his book, collect his coin, sure, but still didn`t think it was enough to remove him from office, was afraid about it.

But we all know, at the end of the day, when Trump was saying nobody would know it was us, he lives for the lie. He`s still telling the lie about 2020.


TOLLIVER: He`s telling the lie through both impeachment trials. And that is the thing that gets him going, right? He`s like, we can do this. We can murder some people in Mexico.


TOLLIVER: We can bomb our neighboring country, which is a trade ally, and get away with it, because he lives for the lie.

JOHNSON: Fernand, this is the thing that gets me, the insanity of him saying, nobody else will know that we did this.

Like, I am the embodiment of that, like, we`re trying to find out who did this mean. Like, everyone would know it`s the United States. Where do you think the planes are going to come from?

Do you think that the lack of frustration on the part of people in this administration is because, as Juanita said, they all just drank the Kool- Aid, or because they heard so many crazy things from the former president that they just stopped caring?


FERNAND AMANDI, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, it`s definitely the latter, Jason.

I mean, look, unfortunately -- I`m going to be very honest with you and everybody watching tonight -- as shocking and disturbing as what Mark Esper revealed was -- Juanita is right -- it means nothing. It`s not going to make a single difference, because he needed to have said these remarks and revealed this to the world either in real time or immediately after the administration ended and got before the cameras of the world and said, this is what Trump said.

It just feels now like politics as usual and will be interpreted by most voters through that lens. It was evident from the first week of the Trump administration that he was unfit, that there were things that -- said that disqualified him, but, unfortunately, because this is now looking like somebody trying to cash in on a book deal, it doesn`t have the potency that it would have had had Mark Esper said this when he was secretary of defense or immediately after leaving the office.

JOHNSON: Fernand, ever since a week on Monday, I have been wanting to chat with you, because, to me, look, it`s great.

Democrats have raised $12 million since the leak that the Supreme Court is going to try to overthrow -- it`s going to overthrow Roe vs. Wade -- overrule it later on this year. But all I care about are the poll numbers.

Where do we need to look? Because there`s just pulling out now. This just broke this week. Where would we need to look in polling across the country to think or to realize that that ruling is actually going to help Democrats? Or does it not really end up having that much of an impact on critical Senate races in Wisconsin and Florida and Pennsylvania?

AMANDI: Well, let me get to your first question the polling, which is so fundamentally important.

We in the research community are all looking at the generic congressional ballot. And, obviously, the state force races where the Senate races are taking place, but in the generic congressional, which right now is not looking great for the Democrats, if we see movement there, and significant movement -- I`m talking three, four, five points -- that will start to indicate they may have overstepped their boundaries.

But, Jason, let me tell you in America one of the great concerns about this revelation this week. For 50 years, since Roe vs. Wade was made law, they have been working for this moment to undo this. But at the same time, for 50 years, they have been warned, if you do this step, you will incite the women of the United States to come out for you en masse, and you will never hold office again.

And that is why, right now, it is so fundamentally important. Democracy is no longer on the ballot anymore in 2022.


AMANDI: It`s now theocracy that`s also on the ballot.

If they win the majority of any control of Congress, any house of Congress, they are going to use that as a mandate to say all of the protections that have happened in the last 50 years, we have been now told by the American people you can undo those.

JOHNSON: Juanita and Fernand are sticking around, because they`re up next. They`re going to tell me who won the week.

We will be right back in a sec.



JOHNSON: This was a tough and, for many people, frightening week in America, so we`re going to end on a positive note.

It`s time to play -- dah, dah, dah, dah -- "Who Won the Week?"

Back with me are Juanita Tolliver and Fernand Amandi.

Juanita, who won the week?

TOLLIVER: (AUDIO GAP) won the week for me, Jason, because she got on the stage at EMILY`s List gala just the next day after that draft Supreme Court ruling came out, and she captured all the rage and frustration of women across the country when she declared, "How dare they?" of the right-wing justices that are primed to take away our basic right to abortion.

And I want more of that energy from the vice president. I want to see her doing more as we continue this fight for our basic right to access health care. And I hope that she continues to translate that energy into action, like whether that`s helping to negotiate a carve-out in the filibuster that we saw Senate Democrats and Republicans support just months ago or pushing to expand access to prescription medication for abortion.

Whatever it is related to this issue. I want the vice president out there, because she`s got the heat right now.

JOHNSON: Passionate Warren, Passionate Harris, that`s the kind of energy the Democrats need to have every single second from now until November.

Fernand, won the week for you?

AMANDI: Jason, no question, the winner of the week is the leaker of the Supreme Court document that revealed to the world what happened.

And time will tell if they not only won the week. They may have won the election for the Democrats. Not all leaks are created equal. Some hurt democracy. Some, in fact, are guardrails that fortify democracy from within. And despite Chief John Roberts` best efforts, this court is no longer seen as legitimate in the eyes of the American people.

It is a politicized Supreme Court. And the decision by this leaker, whether it`s a conservative or a Democrat -- it doesn`t really matter -- to reveal this now I think makes the stakes clear. These justices lied in their testimony and in their hearings about Roe vs. Wade, and the leaker showed the world that they lied.

And now Democrats have six months to get ready and try and win these midterms with the urgency that`s needed.

JOHNSON: I swear, if that leaker gets arrested before anybody from January 6, I`m going to scream.


JOHNSON: You`re both wrong, though.

The winner of the week is Karine Jean-Pierre, our dear friend, formerly of MSNBC.


JOHNSON: She is now the White House press secretary.

She`s a former Dora Milaje, as you can see her here defending then- candidate Kamala Harris.


JOHNSON: She is one of the nicest, best people. Started from the bottom. So happy to see that the crew is succeeding. Really happy for her.

Juanita Tolliver and Fernand Amandi, thank you so much.

And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.