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Transcript: The ReidOut, 8/22/22

Guests: Grace Segers, Kurt Bardella, Peter Schorsch, Tim O`Brien, Luke Broadwater, Laurence Tribe


Why did Donald Trump allegedly keep private documents at his Mar-a- Lago home? A new poll shows that the threat to democracy is now the number one issue for Americans heading into the primaries. The prospect of Kevin McCarthy becoming speaker of the House is examined. Florida becomes ground zero in the fight to preserve American democracy and free speech.




REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): You have a former president who is literally willing to pull the whole house down around him if he feels threatened.

And that means false accusations that the FBI is corrupt, false accusations that evidence may be planted.


REID: And late today, we got a new legal filing from Donald Trump seeking a special master to review evidence seized from Mar-a-Lago.

But the questions remain. Why did Trump take classified documents in the first place? Why did he keep them for so long at his private home? And what are the likely consequences?

Also tonight, a new poll shows that the threat to democracy is now the number one issue for Americans heading into the primaries. And the road to saving democracy runs right through the not-so-free state of Florida, where voters go to the polls tomorrow.

And imagine, if after all the slavish loyalty to Donald Trump and all the red and pink Starburst, Kevin McCarthy does not become speaker of the House. Well, tonight, we`re going to imagine what a sorry state of affairs it would be if he does.

But we begin tonight with me in this chair. Yes, I am back and very grateful to my dear friends Jason Johnson and Tiffany Cross for holding down the bridge of THE REIDOUT enterprise for two whole weeks, the two weeks that I flew away for my little writing retreat.

And you know what? It turns out I can`t leave you all alone for one day, let alone two weeks, without all hell breaking loose, literally.

There was the FBI searching Mar-a-Lago on day one, polio in New York on like day three. I mean, apparently, I need to stay here to keep you all out of trouble.

But real talk, now that I am here and all caught up, I have questions, because it is not, shall we say, normal for a president of the United States to pack up boxes of classified top secret material and ferry them off to his private residence. That is -- that is just not normal.

And the excuses that Trump`s Republican sycophants are offering for what he did, well...


REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): Haven`t seen any evidence that he was even asked, that Trump was even asked to get these documents back.

Do any of us really believe that Donald Trump is, like, reading his nuclear secrets on his bedside at night?

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Now they want to make him responsible for having taken classified documents and preserved them.

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): Every former president has access to their documents. It`s how they write their memoirs.



So here`s the thing about presidential records, something Trump in his posse cannot seem to understand. They belong not to Trump or to any president. They belong to the American people, to you. They are literally and legally the property of the U.S. government, which is why the National Archives and records administration, known as NARA, assumed exclusive legal and physical custody of the Obama presidential records when President Obama left office in 2017.

The agency said that about 30 million pages of unclassified records went to a National Archives facility in the Chicago area. Classified Obama presidential records are in a facility in the D.C. area, which leads to this building.

This is the future home of the Obama Presidential Library in Chicago, Illinois. There will be lots of exhibits in this gorgeous building, historic images of our first black first family, planning on Obamacare, AKA the Affordable Care Act, AKA a BFD, and certainly displays on DACA and on the day our troops got Osama bin Laden, that kind of thing.

You know what won`t be in there? Classified materials. Ditto on the libraries for Lyndon Johnson and the Reagan and Bush libraries in the Carter Library. Can I show you this book? You see this book? It`s a thick, thick book. It`s so heavy, you could probably hurt a man with this book.

This is President Obama`s memoir. He wrote this humongous book with probably like an army of researchers who could go through his presidential records and without taking home -- wait for it -- classified materials, because presidents do not just get to like take home the UFO files when they leave office.

OK, here`s a joke that you can use with your friends. You know what you call a person who used to be the president of the United States? A regular, ordinary citizen. Former presidents have no special powers or privileges. And all the laws that apply to you apply to them.

In no way does Donald Trump have the right to have any of that presidential material in his personal possession, instead of in the National Archives? It is literally illegal.

So, my questions are twofold. Why did he take this stuff? For what purpose? I mean, Michael Cohen, who used to work for Trump, has speculated that he was using it as kind of like an insurance policy, like this mob style, you come after me, Justice Department, and I release the nuke details to Putin or MBS.

Now, I wrote a book about Trump called "The Man Who Sold America," in case you care to check it out. And based on like the Trump insider that I talked to, one could easily argue that he`s just ignorant and thinks that everything in the White House, classified or not, belongs to him personally, because he thinks the American president`s job is just like Putin`s.


I mean, was he going to sell it to the Saudis or the Kremlin for like Jared-style billions? I mean, who knows. But we do need to know why. And the next question, which we will get to in a bit later with the great Laurence Tribe, is, what are the consequences, because don`t there needs to be consequences?

But let us start with the what and the why. And my wonderful team has assembled a really great team of guests to do that.

So joining me now are Luke Broadwater, congressional reporter for "The New York Times," Tim O`Brien, senior executive editor for Bloomberg Opinion.

Thank you both for being here.

And, Luke Broadwater, I`m going to start with you, because there is -- like, there`s a ton of new information. Like, Trump has now filed this motion. He`s filed the motion to ask a judge to appoint a special master to review the materials. He kind of wants to sort of push back on them taking it.

But there is sort of reporting to understand about the way that these documents wound up in Mar-a-Lago. What can you tell us about the process that happened before the documents went from where they were supposed to be to where they wound up?


It was, in fact, a long process. And Donald Trump has said repeatedly, well, why didn`t they just ask me for them? I would have given them to them.

But the government has said repeatedly that they engaged in negotiations for some time to get these documents back. And, in fact, of course, they got those 15 boxes back some time ago.

But the key thing here, I think, is something that happens in June, when the Trump legal team offers up a signed statement to the Justice Department that they have returned everything. And then the Justice Department learns that that is not true. And that promoted a breach of trust between these two parties, and I think led to the execution of the search warrant.

And we still don`t know whether the government has received back all the classified and top secret information that they know could be missing. We obviously know they got a lot back. They have a ton of material right now. They have a filter team going through it. But there could even be more.

And so I think we`re just -- even though some major actions have happened in this case, I think we are in some ways not at the end of it and there is more to come.

REID: And let me ask you, just to stick with you for a second, Luke, where was Mark Meadows this whole time?

Because, I mean, when this stuff was removed, Trump was still president. He still had a team. He still had a chief of staff named Mark Meadows. There is some reporting that he was sort of MIA for a lot of this period. What do we know about what he was doing and whether he was involved in getting this stuff moved?

BROADWATER: Well, we have to put this in context.

We know both Donald Trump and Mark Meadows were consumed with Donald Trump staying in office. So they were -- in the weeks after he lost the election, they were busy putting together schemes of fake electors, and they were coming up with plans for January 6 to have a big rally and put pressure on Congress.

And so there wasn`t a lot of emphasis or a spotlight on records retention or proper policies. You mentioned that the Obama administration turned everything over to the Archives. And the Archives actually put them in special facilities where he could review them. But he didn`t take them with him as he left.

Now, Mark Meadows was assuring people within the White House that he was going to handle everything, it would all be done properly. But, clearly, that was not the case.

And so some of those assurances Mark Meadows made to administration officials who could have been helping Donald Trump unload these boxes or carry them around with them, those could come under scrutiny, as the Justice Department continues to investigate.

REID: Tim O`Brien, let me bring you in here, because you have -- you have followed Donald Trump for a really long time, because there is a contradiction here, in what we just heard Luke Broadwater talking about, about Donald Trump and Mark Meadows being consumed with the idea of trying to stay in office and doing everything they can to try to not leave, and boxing up materials and taking them away and taking them to Mar-a-Lago, which is a strange thing to do if you think you`re going to still be president, you think there`s some opportunity that you`re going to stay, which he`s been telling his followers the whole time.

What do you make of the idea that he took this away? There have been some theories thrown out there as to why he did it. Do you have one?

TIM O`BRIEN, SENIOR COLUMNIST, BLOOMBERG OPINION: Well, I mean, it`s all speculation at this point, Joy.

I think that you would have to get inside his head to talk about motive. But I think there clearly have been patterns in his presidency and his business life that we can draw on to suggest why Donald Trump holds on to things that he really wants.

Some of it is, he`s got a little boy`s fascination with the trappings of the presidency. He was very fascinated with the retrofitting of Air Force One. He wanted to hold on to a model of Air Force One that apparently he was required to turn over to the National Archives. So there`s that kind of juvenile fascination with it. And who really cares.

None of that affects the national security. It`s just part of his flaws as a person. I think the more salient factors that might have motivated him and I think are damaging, dangerous and should concern law enforcement in the American public is whether or not money was a factor.


Did he believe he was taking things from the federal government that he could use to feather his own nest, keep his own nest? He was looking at other people in his administration, like Jared Kushner or Steve Mnuchin, cash in their relationship to the Saudis. The Saudis have given billions to both of those men for start-up investment management firms that probably wouldn`t have drawn that kind of money but for their proximity to the Trump administration.

I think Trump saw that kind of thing going on and had to wonder himself about how he could monetize his ex-presidency. So were there documents that he took from the government that he thought that he could monetize in some fashion.

REID: And that is...

O`BRIEN: I think the other reason.

REID: Go on.

O`BRIEN: Go ahead. Go ahead.

REID: No, you go ahead.

O`BRIEN: Well, I think the other reason -- I think the other reason is that he wanted government documents that might help perpetuate a cover-up.

Donald Trump was impeached twice. He was impeached the first time for trying to strong-arm Ukraine`s President Zelenskyy to dig up dirt on Biden. Are there any communiques with foreign leaders like Zelenskyy or Xi or Putin that Trump didn`t want to get out into the open?

Again, this is raw speculation, but it is rational speculation. And we also know that the FBI were concerned about nuclear documents he took, so there`s a national security issue here as well. So these are very good reasons behind why the FBI would want to take a look at this, lock it down.

But until they provide more transparency, the FBI, either by prosecuting Trump or clarifying what`s in the documents, this is going to be just raw speculation.

REID: And to stay with you just for a second, Tim, I mean, "Lock her up` was literally one of the themes of the Trump campaign when he ran against Hillary Clinton in 2016.

So he -- and the point of "Lock her up," if people don`t remember specifically what that was about, was saying that she should be prosecuted for having a private server, upon which there could be classified information at her house.


REID: It turned out she didn`t, but -- that she didn`t commit a crime. But he knew that that was something that he thought people should be locked up for.

O`BRIEN: Well, I mean, I think the one of the great hypocrisies of the Trump era is that the party of law and order, the GOP, has been busily smearing law enforcement and the rule of law, in an effort to allow Trump to essentially lay claim to an imperial presidency, where he`s not bound by the rule of law or the Constitution, and therefore is able to do whatever he wants to do.

And I think we could pick a lot of examples in the past where they held political opponents or others to a higher standard than they`re holding themselves now, Hillary Clinton being one of them.

REID: Luke, let me give you the last word on this, because throughout this, Pat Cipollone still existed.

And we know that he was very much involved in trying to get Trump to not break the law and -- and not break the law and not try to impede Congress.

But is it possible and is there any reporting on whether or not there was any consultation with the White House counsel about whether anything could be boxed up and moved to Trump`s private residence? Did anyone inspect what he was taking before he took it?

BROADWATER: My understanding is that Donald Trump was very much freelancing within the office, he was saying certain documents were mine, that were his, and he was -- people didn`t really understand what he was doing with the documents.

He would have certain aides carrying them around or taking them to his private residence. And, yes, I mean, people like -- my understanding is Pat Cipollone and Pat Philbin have been contacted as part of this investigation.

And so I think those are the type of questions the Justice Department is asking. What kind of counsel did he receive? Was he defying the legal advice he was getting from his top lawyers at the time? And so I do think we`re -- this could just be getting started. I think there`s plenty more to come on this.

REID: Before we go, any speculation out there from Trump world about who might have tipped off the FBI to the existence of these materials, Luke?

BROADWATER: Well, we know they have interviewed at least a half-dozen people.

And, in fact, the court filing today from the Trump campaign put forward that they had put some of the aides down at Mar-a-Lago out there for these interviews. So it could well be that the Justice Department interviewed people who told them, look, there are still classified documents there, or that this door is open and people are walking by it, or they`re not handled the right way.

So we don`t know exactly who gave the information to the FBI. But we do know that the Trump -- that people at Mar-a-Lago have talked to them. And maybe that is the reason the search warrant was prompted.

REID: Amazing.

Thank you, Luke Broadwater, Tim O`Brien. Appreciate you both.

Up next: Constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe on Trump`s legal filing calling for a special master to review the evidence seized from Mar-a-Lago.


Stay with us.


REID: After threatening last week to file a major motion involving the Fourth Amendment over the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home, Donald Trump and his legal team have now officially followed through, suing the government, claiming the warrant was overbroad.

The motion filed this afternoon asked the judge for a third, party a so- called special master, to review what was taken by the FBI during their search, to prohibit the DOJ from further review of the seized material, requiring more detailed receipt of what was taken, and return any items not within the scope of the search warrant.


The DOJ responded to the filing, writing -- quote -- "The August 8 search warrant at Mar-a-Lago was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause. The department is aware of this evening`s motion. The United States will file its response in court" -- unquote.

Now, of course, the fact that this motion is only now being filed two weeks after the documents were collected and likely already reviewed makes you wonder, like, what the Trump team expects from this filing, other than a good talking point for FOX News.

Now, fortunately, we have the perfect person to discuss that with.

Joining me now, authority, the Carl M. Loeb University professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School.

Professor Tribe, thank you so much for being here.

Let`s get into this. So this motion that Trump has now kind of weirdly belatedly filed, what do you make of it?

LAURENCE TRIBE, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, I just finished reading. It`s 27 pages` long. It`s very strange.

For one thing, it`s filed, not on behalf of private citizen Trump, but filed on behalf of President Donald J. Trump. It`s never been clear that he distinguishes between himself as a private citizen and himself as president. That may help explain, just psychologically, why he feels he`s entitled to all these papers.

He says they`re his. That`s one thing that`s really strange.

Another thing that`s quite strange. You mentioned yourself just a minute ago he waited a couple of weeks. So it`s sort of too late to ask for some new special master. But one of the things he says on this -- in his brief on page seven is it`s terrible that it took the Department of Justice three whole days between getting the search warrant and executing it.

That`s another thing that`s strange. And then, finally, it`s strange, not so much what it says, but what it doesn`t say. It doesn`t really give any good reasons for thinking that this warrant was illegal. In fact, one of the amazing things that I agree with is a statement on page 13 that President Trump -- still calls himself President Trump -- should not be treated differently from any other citizen.

Now, finally, he gets that right. Any other citizen who took top secret material to not just a private home, but a resort like Mar-a-Lago, which has been penetrated by Chinese spies and perhaps by others, would be prosecuted under the Espionage Act.

So he is sort of asking Merrick Garland to prosecute him. Well, thank you, Mr. Trump. I won`t call him President Trump.

REID: I have to -- because, yes, we were -- Andrea Mitchell and I were in the hair and makeup room earlier when we were getting together, and I was trying to remember the name of the guy from the Clinton administration who got in trouble for this.

Sandy Berger.

TRIBE: Sandy Berger.

REID: National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, he pleaded guilty, didn`t pay -- didn`t go to jail. He got a $10,000 fine. He had to surrender his security clearance for three years, cooperating with that, because he went into like a room. It was like a safe room to read classified documents and apparently took a page.

David Petraeus in 2015 had also to plead out -- this is the heroic general from the Iraq War -- had to plead out because he provided highly classified journals to his girlfriend. He was sentenced to two years probation and a $100,000 fine.

So, yes, Donald Trump is being treated exactly the way anyone else would be treated and the way anyone who was not necessarily a Republican would be treated, no?

TRIBE: Well, that will be true if he`s actually indicted for what he`s done, not only for trying to hold on to the presidency after losing and for fomenting an insurrection, but for having top secret documents that he was going to do heaven knows what with.

But we don`t yet know if he`s going to be indicted. If he is being treated not as president, but as a citizen, he`s got to be indicted. Otherwise, the rule of law just doesn`t mean anything. Now, a lot of people say, well, it`s going to be really tough to indict a former president. Look, it was tough even to search his resort. Wait until you see what the fallout looks like.

And they are threatening violence. And these people are armed and they`re dangerous. But if we allow them, through their threats of violence, to terrify us into not treating the ex-president as an ordinary citizen and holding him to account, we will have given up something that people have died for.

And that is the right to a self-governing democracy with a peaceful transition to the person who wins the next election.

REID: I have to read you this.


REID: Agreed.

There was another thing that they did that was very strange. This is in this article that talks about this motion. The federal magistrate judge who signed off on it doubled down and said, nope, there was probable cause of crime. That`s why we did it.


Trump also -- his filing included a message that Trump and his lawyer relayed to a Justice Department lawyer on August 11. And this is what the message says: "President Trump," still referring himself that way, "wants the attorney general to know that he has been hearing from people all over the country about the raid. If there`s one word to describe their mood, it`s angry. The heat is building up. The pressure is building up. Whatever I can do to bring the heat down, to bring the pressure down, just let us know."

That sounds like threatening language, like you`re saying, if you don`t stop proceeding in this direction, people might go crazy. That does not sound normal.

TRIBE: It sounds like a mob boss. In fact, in this filing, one of the things he says is, politics can`t be allowed to affect the administration of justice.

Of course, threats of violence would be included. But, right then, in footnote one, he says: "I`m leading; 84 percent would support me if I ran for president in 2024."

In other words, he`s basically saying, I`m the big guy here. I`m going to be president. You better watch out.

I mean, this document is itself perhaps one of the exhibits that might be entered in evidence in a criminal trial of Donald Trump for obstruction of justice, which is one of the things that led to the issuance of the search warrant.

REID: Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Professor Laurence Tribe, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir. Really appreciate you.

Wow. Well, still ahead -- cheers.

Florida becomes ground zero in the fight to preserve American democracy and free speech. The good news is, democracy actually might be winning.

We will be right back.



REID: Our democracy is on the ballot in this year`s midterm elections, with election deniers backed by former President Donald Trump running all across the country.

In fact, a new NBC News poll found that threats to democracy has overtaken cost of living as the most important issue facing the country in the eyes of voters. But, in some ways, the path to saving our democracy could run right there one state, Florida, home to the other Trump,Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has run his state as an experiment in recreating Trumpism on steroids, weaponizing the culture wars at every turn.

Last week, he took his presidential bid waiting to Pennsylvania, campaigning for election denying candidate for Governor Doug Mastriano.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We must fight the woke in our schools. We must fight the woke in our businesses. We must fight the woke in government agencies.

We can never ever surrender to woke ideology. And I will tell you this. The state of Florida is where woke goes to die.


REID: What in the Sam Hill is he talking about?

DeSantis also spent the weekend rallying for Florida school board candidates that support his anti-woke agenda. That includes his don`t say gay law and turning Florida public schools into right-wing reeducation factories through -- quote, unquote -- "patriotic education."

Tomorrow, Democratic voters in the Sunshine State will choose their nominee to take on DeSantis in November. The leading contenders, agricultural commissioner Nikki Fried and Congressman and former Governor Charlie Crist.

There`s also Florida `s Senate race, where Congresswoman Val Demings is the leading candidate to face incumbent Marco Rubio, who may have hoped that he could coast a reelection good old Ron`s coattails. Rubio sent out an e-mail today saying his fund-raising is a disaster, as he`s falling behind Demings and literally begging, begging for help.

Joining me now, Fernand Amandi, pollster and MSNBC political analyst, and Peter Schorsch, publisher of Florida Politics and the guy, by the way, who broke the story of the raid on Mar-a-Lago and also my old pal from way back in the day.

I`m not going to say how long we have known each other. It`ll age us both.


REID: But, Peter, it`s so good to see you, man.

Talk to me. What is going on...


REID: Absolutely. It is good to see you.

So let`s talk about what`s going on in Florida, because I would say, even two weeks ago, before I went away on my little writing retreat, people were certain that Ron DeSantis was going to get reelected, that Rubio was going to get reelected. Something has shifted in the vibe in Florida.

And I am wondering if you have any idea why. And does it have anything to do with what`s going on in the shenanigans in Mar-a-Lago?

SCHORSCH: I don`t know if it`s connected to Mar-a-Lago, but there`s definitely something here in the water in Florida on both sides.

I don`t remember the activity level being like this since maybe August 2010 during like the Tea Party flare-up post the health care debate. Democrats all of a sudden woke up.

And now I`m starting to wonder, were people making a big mistake to have written off Florida so early, that Demings had no chance, that the gubernatorial nominee had no chance? Now it looks like, as the Republicans scale back from Arizona, Pennsylvania, et cetera. Florida is in play.

Florida, the U.S. Senate race is in play right now. And so I think Val Demings may have the best chance of pulling off an upset. I`m still a little suspect about Charlie Crist or Nikki Fried beating Ron DeSantis. But the water is warm down here. Come on down.



REID: I mean, and, listen, Fernand Amandi, you know. We have been friends for a long time.

And you know that my name is Joy, but I`m sometimes -- it`s sometimes ironic, because I was real pessimistic about Florida. Every time I text you, I`m like, Florida is doomed. But, all of a sudden, it`s like not doomed.

Look at some of these polls. So, Val Demings, we just showed that, 48/44. It`s within the margin of error. So -- and Florida used to be this like 50/50 state, where, if you won, you won by 0.2.

But it does seem that in order for Rubio and DeSantis to pull it off, they might not be able to pull it off with those narrow margins that you -- we got used to in Florida. Like, DeSantis needs to like win big, right, to be viable for president. I don`t know. How is it looking to you?

And what do you make of these weird polls? Like, the Charlie Chris poll and Nikki Fried for -- it`s weird, because you can`t tell which one of them is ahead. I can`t. Can you?

FERNAND AMANDI, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first off, Joy, one of those pollsters is going to have to close up shop for business...

REID: Yes.

AMANDI: ... because you can`t be this off the night before the election with those kinds of weird results going one day and another.

But, having said that, look, the question for everybody is, is Florida floor gone? I have had my heart broken here so many times as a Democrat over the years, so I`m not really confident yet that we can say that the Democrats have a chance to definitely beat everything straight up.

I think it`s going to require a perfect storm, Category 5-type Hurricane Andrew storm against the Republicans. Now, the good news is, Joy, you asked, what has upended the dynamic here? I can describe it in two words, reproductive freedom.

There is no question that the overturning of the Roe vs. Wade decision by the court is the seismic earthquake that has reshaped the balance of this election, certainly in Florida. I`m seeing it in the polls. Abortion is an issue now that really just wasn`t prior to the leaking of the news in May.

REID: Yes.

AMANDI: But that, coupled with a series of unforced errors by DeSantis, also this raid on Mar-a-Lago, which, yes, it may be helping the Trump base reconsolidate, but it`s really taking a sledgehammer to the image of Trump as really being someone who is acting as a criminal, which I think, for a lot of people, that`s causing some real question.

So I`m not sure I`m yet ready to say Florida is 100 percent back in play, but, like Peter says, it`s maybe worth dipping a toe or two in the water, because if it looks like this in about a month, then, yes, come on in, because it could be everywhere is in play.

REID: Well, and Peter, let`s talk about the other X-factor here, because it`s Val Demings.

And you know very well, based on where you are located in the state, I mean, if there is one single person in the entire state of Florida who could actually win a statewide election and also be a woman and a black person, it`s Val Demings. I mean, she`s the police, so you can`t say that she`s woke. You can`t say that she`s super liberal. She rides a Harley.

She`s sort of perfectly positioned as a down-the-middle, very liked, very well-liked Democrat. Do you think that, in the end, it may look like a real genius move that she was slated to run against Rubio, instead of DeSantis? Or, like me, I thought that DeSantis would have been her better race?

SCHORSCH: If you are building a candidate for the middle 21st century, it`s Val Demings right there. I mean, it`s the record of accomplishment as the Orlando police chief.

It`s the fierceness of her prosecution during the impeachment proceedings. Her husband is a political powerhouse. He`s the mayor of Orange County, which is Orlando, essentially. You put all of that together, and then I think one of the big surprises to us here in Florida is the fund-raising prowess.

REID: Yes.

SCHORSCH: Every quarter, we wake up and we see that she has -- that she basically has doubled Marco Rubio in fund-raising the last five weeks.

Overall, she is a prodigious fund-raiser. Nobody was expecting that right now. I think, if Florida is going to be in play in November, then you`re going to have to have a Warnock-Ossoff situation, with Demings on top, and then Crist-Fried running...

REID: Yes.

SCHORSCH: ... running as a ticket against DeSantis.

REID: To trail -- and to the last word to you on this, Fernand, because the other -- you`re smiling, because Rubio can`t do to her what he planned to do to whoever he was running against, which is essentially to throw the C-word, communism.

You can`t throw that at a lady on a Harley that used to be the police.


AMANDI: It`s -- look, Val Demings is like Pam Grier going up against little Marco.


AMANDI: You aren`t going to mess with that chick. She`s going to come over and kick your you know what.

And Rubio is scared. That`s why you see the whiny little e-mails. I mean, did you see that? I mean, I`m begging. Please send me money.


AMANDI: I mean, what are you, a senator or a mouse? Grow up, man.


AMANDI: So, yes.

No, Val Demings is a dream candidate for the Democrats. We see it in the enthusiasm, the fund-raising. The question is, can she out-Florida Florida?


REID: Yes. Yes.

AMANDI: I think that`s what we`re all wondering.

REID: Yes.

AMANDI: Because Florida will break your heart. Take it from me.

REID: It`s what it does. It`s what Florida does. Unless Obama is on the ticket, Florida is going to hurt your feelings.

Fernand Amandi, Peter Schorsch, two of my fave, fave, faves. Thank you guys both very much. Really appreciate you all.

All right, coming up next, zero interest in policy? Check. A relentless thirst for power? Check. A slavish devotion to Trump? Checkarooni.

So what would a House of Representatives led by Kevin McCarthy look like? Well, brace yourselves, because that`s next.




QUESTION: Will you be speaker in January?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I believe so. We will win the majority, and I will be speaker, yes.


REID: That was House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy just last week displaying his signature traits, hubris and ambition.

Now, despite what he might say, nobody really knows what`s going to happen in November. What we do know about the man who wants to be speaker has been helpful, however, in understanding what that might look like. And it leaves, shall we say, much to be desired.

Central to McCarthy`s rise to power has been his own personal ambition. "The New Republic" in a new profile titled "Bland Ambition" spoke with a string of current and former allies. Some noted that McCarthy has always aspired to be speaker.

One longtime friend who met McCarthy when he was a young congressional staffer said that McCarthy would tell him -- quote -- "I want to be speaker."

That unbridled ambition led him quickly up the ranks of the House caucus and made him the face, but not necessarily the brains, behind the young guns, a new generation of Republican leaders. That polished group of up- and-coming Republicans had a pretty sweet brand game going on, Eric Cantor, the self-described leader, Paul Ryan, the self-described thinker, and Kevin McCarthy, the strategist.

According to a longtime congressional reporter who spoke to "The New Republic," the strategist has reputation as a -- quote -- "absolutely the biggest star chaser in Washington. He is so taken with someone who is a big name. He loves to hobnob with celebrities. No one thinks the guy has any real ideology or real morals."


His first brush with greatness was thwarted by the extreme wing of his caucus and cantankerous North Carolina Republican Walter Jones, who fanned rumors that McCarthy had an affair with a former colleague, an allegation McCarthy denied. Nevertheless, McCarthy put on hold his long-sought-after dream for an even younger gun.


MCCARTHY: I just think it`s best we have a new face.


REID: Since then, the new face of the party has become the Saul Goodman of politics, willing to say and do anything to defend his people, as long as they pay the right price, namely, a vote for his speakership.


MCCARTHY: QAnon has no place in our party. And Marjorie Greene actually said that inside our conference today. They`re going to judge her on things that were said that she has now denounced before she was ever a member of Congress.

Matt Gaetz is -- is the same as any American. He`s innocent until proven guilty. There`s no charges against him yet.

QUESTION: Do you believe that Joe Biden was the legitimate victor of the 2020 election? And do you believe that Donald Trump is just flat wrong when he says the election was stolen?

MCCARTHY: Look, we have answered this question a long time. Joe Biden is the president. I think you can look that there`s a lot of problems still within the election process.


REID: Oh, Kevin.

A person who is following McCarthy`s political machinations on Capitol Hill told Politico -- quote -- "In a strange way that is hard to explain, he`s gotten more stupid the longer he`s here" -- unquote.

Just last week, Liz Cheney, a former deputy to McCarthy, told ABC News that McCarthy has no business being second in line to the presidency.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): My views about Kevin McCarthy are very clear.

The speaker of the House is the second in line for the presidency. It requires somebody who understands and recognizes their duty, their oath, their obligation. And he`s been completely unfaithful to the Constitution and demonstrated a total lack of understanding of the significance and the importance of the role of speaker.

So I don`t believe he should be speaker of the House.


REID: Savage.

Stay with us after the break to find out why she just might be right.



REID: OK, so how bad could a House Speaker Kevin McCarthy actually be?

"The New Republic" puts it this way. "He`s a person who got behind Trump early because he had no moral qualms with Trump, which doesn`t bode well for a Republican majority," says a long time congressional reporter. "Say what you will about Paul Ryan, at least he had -- what he had was an ethos."


Joining me now, Grace Segers, staff writer for "The New Republic" and co- author of that piece, and also Kurt Bardella, adviser to the DNC and the DCCC and former spokesperson and senior adviser for Republicans on the House Oversight Committee.

Thank you both for being here.

I`m going to start with you, Grace Segers. Welcome to the show.

There are all these wild stories about Kevin McCarthy. One of my favorites is this one. This is a "New York Times" story, that Kevin McCarthy -- and this is the quote from "The New York Times" -- "A golden retriever of a man who hates to be by himself once cozied up to the president by bringing him a curated jar of his favorite cherry and strawberry Starburst candies."

Trump, he called him "my Kevin," because he sees him as sort of an puppet. How is this guy the one out of all of the Republicans in that caucus who`s lined up to be potentially speaker?

GRACE SEGERS, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": I think the important thing to realize about Kevin McCarthy is that his power comes from relationships.

So he has spent literally decades even before he was in Congress building up relationships and, for the past 16 years or so that he`s been in Congress, maintaining those relationships with fellow Republicans . They like him. He knows everyone`s spouse name, everyone`s dog`s name, their favorite sports team.


And that, along with a very prodigious fund-raising skill set, can propel you to power. I think that`s the really important thing to know about Kevin McCarthy that also helps explain why he`s willing to go so far to accommodate Trump, because he recognizes that he can leverage relationships.

REID: But, I mean, Kurt, that doesn`t stop his so-called friends from going behind his back and calling him somebody who just gets dumber with time and calling him all sort -- I mean, he -- there`s no good quotes.

If you go through a story about Kevin McCarthy, it`s all insults. So people may like that he knows their family`s needs, but they don`t seem to respect him very much.


And I think that just shows, when you have someone that`s not rooted in any substance, any conviction, any moral compass of any kind, it`s hard to really muster respect from your colleagues, because, ultimately, they know that you don`t have loyalty, that your political litmus test really just shifts with whatever the prevailing winds are.

And I go back looking at -- I first came across Kevin McCarthy when he was first getting started into public service. And, at the time, he was trying to be our Arnold Schwarzenegger`s shotgun-riding buddy, Arnold, the most moderate Republican that we have ever probably had.

And it was when he was governor of California. That version of Kevin McCarthy would not recognize the current one that we have right now. That version of Kevin McCarthy would be called a RINO in today`s Republican Party.

And so when you, when you go as far as being Arnold Schwarzenegger`s ride- or-die buddy to now being Donald Trump`s wingman, it`s really hard for people to respect you or to trust you.

REID: Let me read to -- show you, first of all -- this is after January 6. This is a picture Kevin McCarthy took with Donald Trump on January 28, 2021, at Mar-a-Lago.

And here`s the -- there was a statement of how they`re united and ready to win in 2022. Like, this is a reminder that, after the rioters were cleared from the Capitol, McCarthy joined more than 100 of his House Republican colleagues in voting to overturn the election results. He`s pretty much been a ride-or-die for Trump.

This is what you right, Grace, in your reporting: "McCarthy`s about face- here" as far as the January 6 insurrection "was a cynical calculation of which way the wind was blowing."

"He doesn`t believe in Trump. He doesn`t believe in Trumpism," a former congressional staffer said. "He doesn`t believe in protectionism and all the election B.S. But he feels like, if he strays too far away from it, he will absolutely miss his chance to finally get the gavel, which is finally in his grasp."

Does this guy believe in anything other than becoming speaker?

SEGERS: I think that has definitely been an ambition of his for several years now. As you mentioned from the article earlier, even before he got to the House, he wanted to be speaker.

And I do think that he is willing to do many things to get there, but especially recognizing the power of Donald Trump and the power that he has over the Republican Conference, because McCarthy knows that, without Trump, he won`t be able to ascend to the speakership. He needs to keep Trump on his good side. He needs to make sure that Trump is happy with him, because, otherwise, he probably won`t have the juice to be elected speaker by his Republican colleagues.

REID: And I don`t know if we have got your sound properly sort of working again, Kurt, but you were there. So, you know what a hell of a time John Boehner had trying to deal with the 40-some-odd members of the Freedom Caucus.

He literally got out of Dodge. He couldn`t deal with them. You had Paul Ryan, who got his super-duper tax cut and bounced and went to the board of FOX News. If they, who seem to be more intelligent than Kevin McCarthy, not to be mean -- I`m saying according to his colleagues -- couldn`t handle a 40-some-odd person Freedom Caucus, how would Kevin McCarthy handle one that has now about 129 members of the Trump caucus?

BARDELLA: Yes, and this is the challenge that he`s going to have, and particularly watching the Republicans kind of self-sabotage themselves here leading into the midterms.

They were counting on having this massive majority. Democrats were in disarray. Biden`s approval ratings were underwater. Inflation was high, all these things. They were -- they were boasting about winning 60 seats.

Well, the problem is, they`re not going to do that. They may not even get the majority, but if they do, it`s going to be a lot smaller, a lot harder for them to manage. And there`s no way Kevin McCarthy is going to be able to marshal this caucus towards anything productive, towards any policy agenda. It`s just going to be crazy leading crazy.

This is now the Republican Caucus of Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Matt Gaetz, of Lauren Boebert. And they all know too, by the way, that Kevin`s just a poser, that he`s pretending to be MAGA. He`s really not. Again, he doesn`t believe in anything.

And so it`s just going to be one headache after the other. And if he is fortunate to even become speaker, he won`t be there very long.

REID: He ain`t going to be no Nancy Pelosi.

Real quickly, Grace, last word to you.

Any chance he doesn`t get it? If they win the majority, will Elise Stefanik or someone else take it from him?

SEGERS: Well, I think that`s very dependent on whether he is endorsed by Donald Trump.

But if he is not endorsed by Donald Trump, if Trump stays out of the race altogether or, God forbid, doesn`t -- endorses someone else, then, yes, I think that we could be seeing someone else.

REID: Yes. It could be Marjorie Taylor Greene, for all we know.

Grace Segers, Kurt Bardella, thank you both very much.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.