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Transcript: The ReidOut, 8/25/22

Guests: Maya Wiley, Hugo Lowell, Maxwell Frost, Amy Hagstrom Miller, Errin Haines, Sheldon Whitehouse

Summary

The judge overseeing the Mar-a-Lago investigation orders a redacted version of the search warrant affidavit to be unsealed. Abortion rights are proving to be a potent issue for Democrats. Florida congressional candidate Maxwell Frost discusses his campaign. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse discusses a Republican group that received a billion-dollar donation tax-free.

Transcript

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on THE REIDOUT:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT RYAN (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSMAN-ELECT: When the Supreme Court ripped away reproductive freedoms, access to abortion rights, we said this is not what America stands for.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Abortion rights is proving to be a potent issue for Democrats, and Republicans are in a near panic, with a surge in voter registrations by women in key states.

Also, the judge overseeing the Mar-a-Lago investigation has ordered a redacted version of the search warrant affidavit be unsealed before noon tomorrow, so, basically, any time now.

We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the year of the woman, the catchy label attached to the political year 1992, when a record number of women were elected to the U.S. Senate. The election follow the infamous 1991 Senate confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, televised hearings that featured blockbuster testimony from Professor Anita Hill, who detailed allegations of workplace sexual harassment by Judge Thomas, who was her supervisor at two government agencies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANITA HILL, BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY: After approximately three months of working there, he asked me to go out socially with him.

What happened next and telling the world about it are the two most difficult things, experiences of my life. But when I was asked by a representative of this committee to report my experience, I felt that I had to tell the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: The hearing sparked a national debate about sexual harassment at a time when such harassment went largely ignored and unpunished.

It also brought attention to a troubling dynamic. The Senate Judiciary Committee, led by then-Senator Joe Biden, was composed solely of old white guys, sharply and sometimes rudely questioning a black law professor about what had happened to her. No women served on that committee in 1991.

Well, that was about to change. The historic 1992 election saw women winning seats in historic numbers. One of them was Carol Moseley Braun, the first black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. She joined Biden`s Judiciary Committee the following year.

Another was Patty Murray of Washington, who said -- quote -- "We got into the U.S. Senate because we were mad."

That anger was undeniable, palpable again in 2018, when a surge of women candidates ran for office and won, these gains partially fueled by anger was a rebuke to men in power like Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh, yet another Supreme Court nominee accused of sexual misconduct.

And here`s the thing. That rage has not gone away. And with the Supreme Court majority`s decision to toss women`s individual rights into the dustbin, it`s no longer simmering or unseen. The dam has burst. Roe broke the dam.

And women`s utter rage is now a central motivator for this year`s midterm elections. Women`s rights and bodily autonomy are primary themes in our national discourse. And, once again, Clarence Thomas plays a role as part of the Supreme Court majority that overturned Roe.

We`re already seeing the results of that anger in a victory for reproductive freedom in Kansas and in a bellwether House district in New York`s Hudson Valley, where Democrat Pat Ryan won the special election for the state`s 19th Congressional District.

Here`s what the congressman-elect had to say on what galvanized his voters to get to the polls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN: I remember this one woman. We were marching with a few hundred people into uptown Kingston in the district. There was a woman in her mid to late 60s just bawling, bawling crying.

And we stopped. And she just -- she was -- just total disbelief and said: "I cannot believe we are doing this again."

And it was just so clear that that decision to rip away a fundamental right and freedom had just struck such a -- such a nerve that I think even transcends the very partisan dynamics in our country right now.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Joining me now is Errin Haines, editor at large of the 19th, Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman`s Health, and political analyst, Matthew Dowd, who was the chief strategist for the Bush/Cheney 2004 presidential campaign.

Thank you all for being here.

Errin, I got to go to you first, because, look, I mean, angry women change history, right? I mean, you talk about whether it`s abolitionist like Sojourner Truth, whether it is the suffragettes and the black woman who fought the suffragettes to try to get in the game on that.

I mean, the anger of women has moved amendments to the floor. What do you make of the anger that you`re seeing out there? You`re out there as a journalist covering the these campaigns. Are you seeing the level of anger that you think could change history?

ERRIN HAINES, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE 19TH: Well, Joy, what an apt framing for this conversation the eve of Women`s Equality Day, where we celebrate the ratification of the 19th Amendment, for which (AUDIO GAP) named.

[19:05:07]

Women have long been on the front lines of democracy and been the main people that have been pushing for the expanded rights, not just for women, but for everybody in our democracy and in our society.

I`m somebody, I hate to say I told you so, but, in 2020, I said that women would be the deciders of the election. And, honestly, you could say that every year, because women are more than half of the electorate. So, whether we`re talking about 1992, like you said, 2018, or 2020, or 2022, it`s going to be the case. I will say it again this year.

And when you see polls that talk about Democrats closing the enthusiasm gap heading into November, we have to acknowledge that women are a large chunk of Democrats that these polls are referring to. And why? Exactly as you said, because a right that they thought was settled was gradually and then suddenly snatched away with this Dobbs decision.

Two-thirds of American women living today have always lived (AUDIO GAP) until this Dobbs decision came down. And that`s why you see this voter registration among women surging in states where abortion rights are under threat.

But I don`t want to leave men out of this, because we are seeing that abortion is on the ballot, and not just as a women`s issue.

REID: Yes.

HAINES: You saw Pat Ryan talk about that out of New York.

The administration is framing this as an issue of freedom. And men are running for office and also taking up that message, Charlie Crist in Florida, Beto O`Rourke in Texas, women candidates are talking about their lived experience. So this is rising as an issue with voters.

And coupled with threats to democracy as an emerging priority, we could see a pretty potent combination for Democrats, depending on what the momentum looks like heading into the next 75 days.

REID: I`m with you. I`m one of those people who I would watch the analysts, the pundits on TV saying, well, historically, the president`s party is going to lose X-number of seats.

And I`m saying to myself, did all you not see Roe vs. Wade go away? Because that`s actually the big X factor in this election.

I got to go to the man on our panel here for a second, Matthew Dowd, because, back in the day, I used to interview, back when Republicans were willing to have the sort of conversation across the aisle, Republicans, very conservative, right-wing Republicans who really, really, really wanted Roe overturned.

They were generally not political people. They were religious people, because when I talked to political folks and my friends now that are Republicans, they always said, oh, no, we want the issue. We don`t want to overturn it, because, if we overturn it, all hell is going to break loose.

You look at this opponent of Pat Ryan, this guy was actually a pretty well- known candidate, Marc Molinaro. Those who lived in New York knew who he was. He tried to flip the whole election to go about things like inflation and crime. It didn`t work.

Nothing will work when women are focused on the idea that they have no rights. How did Republicans think that it was a good idea not to have the issue, but to do the thing?

MATTHEW DOWD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think you touched on at the start of your question the thing that`s happened with the Republican Party, which is, is, there is no division between the people that are pushing religion and the people that are pushing politics.

For the Republican Party, it has become one. And it`s this white Christian nationalism that is -- completely occupies the Republican Party in America, which is out of step with the majority of America.

And that led them to do what they have done. That obviously led the people on the Supreme Court, who many of them are white Christian nationalists that sit on the Supreme Court today, put there by Donald Trump.

But the compounding factor in this was not only the Roe vs. Wade Dobbs decision, but was the actions of Republicans in every state to take it even further, to make it even worse. It`s not just like, OK, we`re going to do some restrictions, and we will do some things around the end, and we will do late-term -- we will stop late-term abortions.

They`re basically stopping in many, many states, the majority of states where Republicans hold power, the ability to have abortion through the entire pregnancy, including rape, incest, and health of the mother.

And I think what`s happened is, all of the stories are now getting told.

REID: Yes.

DOWD: So it`s not only a big, mammoth issue. It`s story after story after story that personalizes the issue.

And the other thing I would say in elections that many times people make the mistake of is, you don`t poll to find out what the most important issue for you to talk about. What you should do is talk about the most important issue and make the issue, even if it`s a third-place issue, a fourth-place issue.

REID: That`s right.

DOWD: Everybody thought, as of 30 days ago, 60 days ago, oh, it`s inflation, the economy.

And I kept saying that what you do, as a leader, is tell the voters what the election is about. And what the Supreme Court did, unfortunately for the Republicans, is tell both women and men, this is what the election is about.

REID: That`s absolutely -- and Clarence Thomas, we talked about him at the top. Clarence Thomas took it even further and said, hey, by the way, I have got a whole long list of other rights I want to take away, except interracial marriage, because that`s personal for me.

Let`s go on to just what actually is happening, Amy Hagstrom Miller.

In Texas right now, abortion is completely illegal from the moment of conception. Texans who perform abortions now face up to life in prison, a $100,000 fine. Performing an abortion is now a felony. It`s now a felony. And that is because of a bigger law that was put in place, as Matthew Dowd talked about, by some white Christian nationalists who maybe they never thought it would happen, but it`s happened.

[19:10:07]

And that has meant that, in Texas, it`s not easy to predict what will happen in that race, because women have got to understand, you are now state property in the state of Texas.

Your thoughts?

AMY HAGSTROM MILLER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, WHOLE WOMAN`S HEALTH: I have a lot of thoughts about this issue.

And like your guests have talked about, abortion rights aren`t just women`s rights issue. It`s a human rights issue. Millions of people in this country, men, women, families, have benefited from access to safe abortion.

What we`re seeing in Texas is devastating. Texas has one-tenth of this country`s population of people with reproductive rights -- I mean, reproductive life. And they`re being denied not only access to safe abortion, but they`re going even farther.

They`re not satisfied just banning abortion. And I think we have to remember, this is about power. It`s about stomping on equality, autonomy and fundamental access to freedom, writ large. And we`re seeing people presenting in hospitals in Texas for miscarriages who are being denied care, who are being forced to wait up to nine days, the recent study just showed, even for treatment for miscarriage.

They`re basically waiting for the woman to either start dying or waiting until there`s no cardiac activity in the fetus before they step in to help. Why? Because they`re afraid of criminalization. They`re afraid. They`re intimidated. There`s threats from people like Paxton.

This is a public health issue. And it`s much broader than I think many people have thought about. Access to safe abortion isn`t just a Democrat issue.

REID: That`s right.

HAGSTROM MILLER: Republicans have abortions as well.

And I think we have to realize what`s happening here has lit a fire under many people. I mean, look at Kansas, right? The majority of people in Kansas are not Democrats.

REID: Right.

HAGSTROM MILLER: And they stood very strong and very forthright, saying, access to safe abortion is a fundamental human rights for everyone in this country.

And people are furious. And I hope it helps things like get Beto O`Rourke elected. I hope it helps people get their access fundamentally restored, and we go further than Roe ever did to give people access to safe abortion no matter where they live in this country.

REID: Well, I mean, one of the most potent issues, Errin, ever in American politics -- and I worked in campaigns before I did this gig here, or in between -- is the issue of freedom.

The issue of personal freedom is always a powerful motivator for whether you`re a Republican, Democrat, liberal or conservative. In Kansas, to the point that Amy was just making -- in Arizona -- I`m sorry -- Blake Masters has now taken his anti-abortion stuff off his Web site.

He -- his campaign used to say that he was against contraception, he wanted that to be illegal. He`s pulled that off his Web site. He`s pulled off the stuff about a fetal personhood law. But people are going to still know that that`s what he was for.

In Kansas, the week after the court`s decision, more than 70 percent, 70 percent of the newly registered voters in Kansas were women. That is not the normal way that things go, 70 percent, Errin.

This is an election that it`s not just women, but women are driving it. And I also have to say local news is driving it. You are from Georgia. I am assuming that, in Georgia, on the local news, those stories that Amy just told, that`s where they`re showing up.

HAINES: You`re absolutely right, Joy.

And I will tell you, you have Stacey Abrams running for governor down in Georgia, who is talking about her own evolution as she came to be somebody who supports abortion rights, even though she had personal religious views that went against that for much of her life. But she is sharing her story, in the hopes of really casting this as an issue of freedom, liberty, and really access to health care.

So, having that different conversation, not -- just not making this really about the kind of religious stakes of this that anti-abortion folks have tried to make this about for so many years, and really framing it as an issue of health care, as an issue of freedom, as an economic issue, right, knowing the impact that this has on people`s lives if they do not have access to reproductive rights.

Framing it in all of the ways that abortion is a relevant conversation in the lives of people in our country I think is what is resonating with people and why you`re seeing voter registration surging by as much as 35 percent in some of these states with women, 9 percent with men, by the way.

And -- but to your point about what you were just talking to Amy about, we have a story up on our site today at 19th News -- I`m going to tweet this out to your viewers -- that says, by the end of the week, 12 states will have outlawed abortion in almost all instances.

So this regional abortion desert is just going to expand even further, Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas, as of today, enforcing near total bans. And so, as you see these trigger laws kind of rolling out, continuing to roll out across the country, this is the post-Roe (AUDIO GAP) that many abortion rights advocates and many women fear.

REID: Absolutely.

And, Matt, also, you have got a problem that Republicans don`t know when to shut up, because you have already had Mitch McConnell admit that they would consider a national abortion ban. Everybody knows this 6-3 court would uphold a national abortion ban. They know that`s coming. the

[19:15:07]

Blake Masters has said he wants a national ban on contraception. Is the challenge here that Republicans have a toothpaste full of -- a toothpaste - - that the toothpaste is out of the tube, basically? Everyone knows what they want to do. Everyone knows how far they want to go. And there`s no way they can take it back.

DOWD: No, and the stink and the stench of this is going to stick to them. I don`t care how many Web sites they erase or how many times they try to adjust their position.

This is a stink and a stench that`s going to stay on them. And it takes this issue from a policy issue to one of those issues that`s a gut issue. This is a gut issue, gut issue for women. It`s made them passionate, but a gut issue for men who have daughters, who have mothers, who have sisters...

REID: Yes.

DOWD: ... who are watching and who stand in support of the dignity of women and their freedom to make these choices.

And so what the Republicans have done, it`s an amazing situation. They have not only got this decision, which forced this issue, but they have made it worse every single step of the way. And I think what they thought was, we`re going to make this -- we can do whatever we want, and we`re going to talk this pain about inflation or the economy.

REID: That`s right.

DOWD: And if doesn`t matter what else we do.

Well, the voters woke up...

REID: That`s right.

DOWD: ... and said, no, no, no, no, no, you can`t run over our Constitution and talk about the price of milk.

REID: That`s correct. That`s absolutely right.

I don`t know who told them and lied to them and thought that this was going to be good politics. It`s terrible politics, and not just with Democrats. Republicans also have daughters and wives.

And I have heard even Republican donors, their wives are saying, don`t you put that check in the mail to a Republican.

Errin Haines, Amy Hagstrom Miller, Matthew Dowd, thank you very much.

Up next on THE REIDOUT: The much-anticipated release of the Mar-a-Lago search -- the search affidavit could come at any moment. The latest developments are next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:21:31]

REID: By noon tomorrow, a redacted version of the Mar-a-Lago search warrant affidavit, the document that laid out the government`s reasons for requesting the research -- requesting the search of Donald Trump`s home, will be made public.

That was the ruling today from us magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart -- quote -- "Based on my independent review of the affidavit, I further find that the government has met its burden of showing that its proposed redactions are narrowly tailored to serve the government`s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation and are the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire affidavit."

It`s unknown how much of the affidavit we`re going to see. During last week`s court hearing, the DOJ argued that anything short of a heavily redacted version could severely harm its investigation.

As "The New York Times" points out, the ruling is a significant legal milepost in an investigation that has swiftly emerged as a major threat to Mr. Trump, whose lawyers have offered a confused and at times stumbling response.

But it`s also an inflection point for Attorney General Merrick Garland, who`s trying to balance protecting the prosecutorial process by keeping secret details of the investigation and providing enough information to defend his decision to request a search unlike any in U.S. history.

And while Trump`s legal team took no part in pushing for the release of the affidavit, Trump was lashing out this morning on his pretend version of Twitter, claiming that he`s as innocent as a person can be.

Joining me now is Maya Wiley, former assistant U.S. attorney and current president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Hugo Lowell, congressional reporter for "The Guardian."

Hugo, let me go to you first on just the reporting on this.

Trump didn`t -- his lawyers didn`t really weigh in on these redactions. And I wonder if that has any meaning here, and if there`s any way we can squirrel away information what they may -- what they may know about how bad that this release could be?

HUGO LOWELL, "THE GUARDIAN": Well, the sense I get talking to people in Trump world is that they really don`t know where the DOJ is going.

And I think that`s something that really frightens them. Certainly, kind of talking to Trump`s legal team and Trump`s advisers, they are as much in the dark as we are about what`s in the affidavit.

But one thing is clear, right? This affidavit contains the probable cause that the Justice Department identified needed to get that search warrant. And that I think could be quite potentially explosive.

Even if we don`t get the details about the sources and methods that the Justice Department is using in this criminal investigation, which we should say is still in its early stages, we might get the full rundown of how the DOJ had to take such extraordinary steps to recover from Trump really sensitive government secrets that he had stashed away at Mar-a-Lago. And that`s really interesting.

REID: And, Maya, I mean, just to -- speak about this just from a lawyer`s point of view.

The confidence that you see coming out of the DOJ, the confidence that you see coming out of the FBI, this judge, it all seems to mean,to me, as a layperson, oh, they have something solid. They didn`t just go willy-nilly into this man`s house.

MAYA WILEY, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Oh, yes.

I mean, let`s remember, this is historic. You tell me the last time we had a president, former president, for whom an attorney general said, OK, we have enough evidence to go to an independent judge and say we have reason to believe that a crime may have been committed and we need to search.

[19:25:03]

I mean, that`s what this represents. And I think one of the things we have to remember about this warrant, not only did a judge who is nonpartisan, independent, and whose job is putting his name on the line on something historic, so he`s going to do that carefully, but is also saying, unusually, I`m going to make sure the public can see as much as possible without damaging the investigation to try to make that clear to the public.

There`s nothing, frankly, good in this affidavit for Donald Trump. If there was anything good in it, let`s face it, there wouldn`t have been a search warrant.

(LAUGHTER)

WILEY: That`s the reality.

REID: That`s reality.

WILEY: And so -- that`s real.

So, all I can say is, of course, they`re worried and, of course, they`re not fighting about the redactions, because there`s no way they can help them if it`s going to be public. That`s why we saw that really silly, unusual and nonsensical request to have a special master look at the documents.

REID: Yes.

WILEY: It didn`t make any sense.

But let me tell you one other thing. I will tell you how they can get the answers to their questions, if he`s indicted.

REID: Well, that would definitely give -- that would be definitive. It would.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: Hugo, Donald Trump has spent the period in between the two weeks ago, when the raid -- the raid or the search took place -- I should call it a search, not a raid -- took place, and, today, doing a lot of things, a lot of whatever you call what you do on his fake Twitter, fake version of Twitter.

But what he hasn`t done is gone on television. He hasn`t done a television interview. He hasn`t been on FOX. And it`s been interesting to see who has not come forward to defend him. William Barr, who essentially lied to the American people in order to defend him against the Mueller probe, pretended that they had considered whether there were charges that could be filed, and then said that there weren`t, when, in fact, there was never a consideration of that.

We know what William Barr is. He ain`t out there defending him. It is interesting the silence from people who, in theory, could be out there offering him a legal defense. What does Trump world make of that?

LOWELL: I think it reflects, actually, that Trump board knows how serious this investigation is for Trump and I think the degree to which he now has serious legal exposure.

I think, if you look at their response to the January 6 investigation, they were always playing it a bit cool, thinking maybe they indict Trump, maybe they don`t. But this is really serious. There`s been a search warrant executed on his home in Florida. There`s criminal statutes listed in that search warrant.

I think that really shocked them, especially this thing about obstruction of justice. That`s the one thing they really don`t want to talk about. They`re quite happy to talk about the Presidential Records Act and how, supposedly, all these documents are declassified. They don`t want to discuss at all about the potential for an obstruction of justice case here that the Justice Department might be mounting.

And so I think that`s really a reflection of how much you don`t see Trump on the airwaves. You -- actually, the people you do see are the people like lower down in the legal team. It`s not the lead lawyer. It`s not Jim Trusty. It`s not Evan Corcoran, the two former Justice Department...

(CROSSTALK)

REID: Mm-hmm.

LOWELL: It`s Lindsey Halligan, who was -- who has a background in insurance law.

It`s Alina Habba, who (AUDIO GAP) some cases in New Jersey. And it`s Christina Bobb, who was connected to a lot of the fake election discussions. So, that, I think, is (AUDIO GAP)

REID: You can`t make it up. You wish you could. You wish you were creative enough to make it up. But you can`t. You just can`t.

Maya Wiley, Hugo Lowell, thank you very much.

Still ahead: The future has arrived,and his name is Maxwell Frost. The 25- year-old Democrat is a heavy favorite to become the youngest member of Congress. And he joins me next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:34:35]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAXWELL FROST (D), FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Governor DeSantis, we`re losing 100 people a day due to gun violence. Governor, we need you to take action on gun violence.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Nobody wants to hear from you.

(BOOING)

FROST: We need to take action. Floridians are dying. Floridians are dying.

Governor, Floridians are dying. We need help. Governor DeSantis, we need help. We need action on gun violence. Governor, please, we need your help. We`re dying. Kids are dying. Governor, we need your help. Governor. We need your help, Governor. Kids are dying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: There were several big victories in Tuesday night`s primaries, but perhaps one of the most notable was from that man right there, the one confronting Ron DeSantis.

His name is Maxwell Frost. He`s now officially the Democratic nominee in Florida`s 10th District. And he could very well be the first Gen Z member of Congress.

On the surface, he might not fit the typical mold of a politician. He`s just 25 years old, a part-time Uber driver, hasn`t finished college and has never held public office.

But, as he told NBC`s Chuck Todd and Kristen Welker Tuesday night, Frost doesn`t think any of that will hold him back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FROST: I`m the former national organizing director for March For Our Lives, a movement that helped change the way we think about gun violence, the way we think about advocacy.

And I`m going to take what I learned at March For Our Lives, take what I learned at the ACLU, bring it to Congress, but also keep it here in Florida, as we build power to ensure that we can flip this state, that we can bring people together behind shared values, and that, yes, there`s a young face that is doing that work.

[19:35:00]

But that`s OK. We need a diversity of yes, race, yes, opinion, but also.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Joining me now is Maxwell Frost, the Democratic nominee for Congress from Florida`s 10th District.

And, as a former Floridian, I`m proud of you, young man, I love seeing the youngs get in there and fight. And I can -- March For Our Lives, I think, is one of the most important movements in American -- modern American history. So I`m glad that a member of that tribe has gotten somewhere big.

And, listen, let -- at the end of that clip that we showed, the governor said, "Nobody wants to hear from you."

Apparently, that wasn`t true. How did you win and beat all these other more seasoned candidates?

FROST: Well, thanks for having me on.

It all has to do with our message. And it has to do with our message and the moment in time we`re in right now. We have to think about the context of what`s going on in Florida and what`s been going on for this past year.

That governor, that bully who has, because of his failure to handle systemic issues here, from affordable housing, to gun violence, he is taking these issues and saying, guess what? It`s not my fault. It`s the fault of the LGBTQ+ community. It`s the fault of immigrants. It`s the fault of black folks.

He`s scapegoating the most vulnerable communities, because he has failed to bring the bold, transformational change Floridians need. And so, in the midst of all that, in the midst of the don`t say gay,don`t say LGBTQ+ law, in the midst of the Stop WOKE act, this campaign, I truly believe, has provided hope and a way forward, because it`s all about love.

REID: Yes.

FROST: Because, when you love somebody, you want them to have health care, their rights, the right to an abortion, affordable housing. And when people hear that message, they say, that`s true.

And it doesn`t matter if you`re Republican or Democrat. It`s about the people vs. the problem.

REID: Have you had an opportunity to talk with Val Demings? Because you would succeed Val Demings, who obviously is a seasoned politician, former sheriff. She`s the police. She`s done all of these different things.

Have you talked to her about what it`s like in Congress, what the life is like?

FROST: Yes, my first meeting with her months back, we spoke about what it`s like in Congress, what it`s like to work both across the aisle and within the party to get things done.

And she gave me a call the night of my victory. And I told her,put me to work, right? We need her in the U.S. Senate. We need Charlie Crist to replace Ron DeSantis, because we need -- we need all eyes here on Florida. We need to stop Ron DeSantis, because he`s looking to run for president.

REID: Yes.

FROST: You and I both know that he`s not interested in governing. And that`s why this election is so important.

So we need people to put their resources here in Florida, put their time here in Florida, so we can build power. We`re not just a red state. We`re a state full of millions of poor and working-class families just crying out for champions and help.

REID: Yes. Miami is one of the poorest big cities in America, by the way.

You mentioned Ron DeSantis. Let`s play him. He`s already gone after Orlando, Disney, which would be your constituent, and try and strip them of their tax benefits, which is a huge tax increase for what would be your constituents.

But here he is going after Anthony Fauci in one of the most weird and odd and vicious ways I have seen ever. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DESANTIS: You have people like Fauci saying that his lockdowns didn`t cause any permanent damage to any young kids.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

DESANTIS: I got news for you. It did. And we are going to reap those rewards across the whole country for years and years and years because they treated kids so poorly.

And I`m just sick of seeing him. I know he says he`s going to retire. Someone needs to grab that little elf and chuck him across the Potomac.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: I`m pretty sure he`s about 5`7``. So, I don`t know who he`s calling a little elf.

And he had that big head helmet on, so I don`t know why he thinks he can talk about other people.

But your thoughts. I mean, you drove an Uber. And that is one of the most vulnerable positions to COVID. It`s one of those front-line positions that was vulnerable. You`re almost the age where you could be in school still. Kids die of COVID. Kids get sick. Kids were threatened by COVID.

What do you make of his attitude?

FROST: Again, it`s him scapegoating someone else, passing the problem on to someone else, because he failed to keep Floridians safe from COVID. He`s failed to do meaningful things on monkeypox.

I mean, he is someone who has been a kind of a backseat driver on a lot of these issues, and not being the leader we need. And it`s interesting that he brings up protecting children.

What about the LGBTQ+ queer children that he`s cashing out and wanting to erase with the don`t say gay bill? What about the children who are dying from gun violence, a generation that has been through more mass shooting drills than fire drills? What about those children?

The leading cause of death recently went from automobile accidents to guns. And so it`s hypocrisy in broad daylight. And the people will see through it. And that`s why we`re going to -- we`re going to put him on blast. We`re going to make sure everyone knows the liar he is.

But, aside from that, it`s not just about telling people about DeSantis. It`s about giving people something to vote for, not just against.

REID: Yes.

FROST: And it`s about this agenda that`s about everything and everyone.

REID: Yes, between him and Rick Scott, who`s tweeting from a yacht about people not deserving to have student loan relief.

Last thing I`m going to put up just for our audience, this is a chart I want to show you guys. This is the representation of age groups in Congress right now. The most represented group is between 60 and 69.

[19:40:04]

And there ain`t nothing wrong with a seasoned person. I love a seasoned person. But you would be in that top little, small chart where there`s almost no people.

Why do you think it`s important for young people to do what you`re doing and get involved in politics?

FROST: Well, it`s important that we have a government and that we have a Congress that looks like the country, that has different experiences and different ages.

And my generation is just going through some different challenges than older folks did when they were younger. And that`s OK, right? We need a Congress that has older people, younger people, everybody, so when we come to the table to talk about student debt relief, guess what? There`s a younger voice there who understands the challenges now, the crushing debt that happens to our students, traditionally black and brown folks, people who look like me...

REID: Yes. Yes.

FROST: ... and bringing that perspective to the table.

Imagine how government would work if it had more survivors of gun violence...

REID: Amen.

FROST: ... if it had more people who have debt, who have -- people who Uber, who had to Uber to pay their bills and do different things like that, right?

REID: That`s right.

FROST: We need more working-class people in government who can bring that perspective.

And outside of D.C. I`m going to be committed to building power and building a government that looks like the country.

REID: Young, Afro-Latino, smart, hardworking, representing, in terms of trying to solve gun violence, you`re an impressive young man. I hope that I can come hang out with you when I come down to Florida.

We want to do some shows out of Florida, so I`m going to check you out when we get there, man.

Congratulations.

(CROSSTALK)

FROST: Please come down.

REID: All right, cool.

FROST: Well, thank you so much.

REID: Thank you, Matthew (sic) Frost.

Remember that name, you all. He`s a star.

Coming up, still to come on THE REIDOUT: dark money on steroids, piles of cash, the biggest donation of its kind in American history going to the man whose influence on the far right shaped the conservative Supreme Court that`s actively taking away our rights.

Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:46:25]

REID: In 2010, the Supreme Court`s conservative majority, led by Federalist Society fan favorite Samuel Alito, decided that corporations are people, just like you and me. Yay.

It`s no secret that conservatives love big business. Just look at the 2017 Trump tax cuts. The law slashed taxes for big companies and left this country in the hole, to the tune of roughly $2 trillion, with a T.

The best part? Those companies are still hiding their money offshore and away from the IRS, because they don`t want to pay their fair share. Sorry, regular folks. You just don`t know the right people.

Then there`s that time that Trump and his administration, ahead of the 2018 midterms, decided to increase subsidies, or handouts, if you were, as Republicans like to call them, to farmers because Trump had hurt them with his tariffs, but he still wanted their votes. Yes, that little tariff cost you, the American taxpayer, more than $23 billion, even though it was never approved by Congress.

Republicans weren`t clutching their pearls back then, though. They also didn`t seem to fret when the Trump administration approved $793 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program that included forgivable loans to companies hit by the pandemic. And guess what? The majority of those loans were forgiven, i.e., canceled.

But, yesterday, after the president, President Biden, took steps to cancel $10,000 in student loans, or $20,000 for those who`d also received Pell Grants, sparing millions of regular Americans who are deep in college debt, Republicans screamed bloody murder.

Here`s Marjorie Taylor Greene.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): For our government just to say, OK, well your debt is completely forgiven,obviously, they have an agenda for that. They need votes in November. So the timing is a pure coincidence there as well. But it`s completely unfair.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: OK, QAnon lady.

And then there`s retiring Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who said -- quote -- "One-time debt forgiveness eliminates some of the burden on those who are carrying debt, but it`s unfair to everyone else who will have to pay for it."

OK, well, here`s the thing. Ms. Greene and her husband who own a gym in Georgia. Both got a $182,000 handout from the federal government. And Mr. Portman, whose family owns a restaurant in Ohio, well, he too, got one-time debt forgiveness through the PPP for about $200,000.

There`s plenty more Republicans like Greene and Portman, but don`t take my word for it. Check out this new White House Twitter thread, putting at least six Republicans on blast for taking your dough, not paying it back, but criticizing students for getting a fraction of what they got.

Fun fact, conservatives love to complain about handouts, but they love receiving them even more.

And after the break, you`re going to find out who got an even bigger handout, an enormous sum of money, as a reward for rigging the Supreme Court.

And while, this time, it`s not from the government, the government`s sweet rules for the rich made it 100 percent tax-free.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:53:37]

REID: So there`s one a huge influx of cash that you haven`t heard Republicans screaming about this week, one with far darker implications for our democracy.

"The New York Times" reported a $1.6 billion donation funneled to a right- wing political group last year through a little-known donor, an electronics mogul named Barre Seid.

The beneficiary is a new group controlled by Leonard A. Leo. Now, that name might not be immediately familiar to you, but his imprint is all over our current politics and a very big reason why they`re broken.

Leo is known for his longtime work as vice president of the conservative legal organization the Federalist Society as a pipeline to the Supreme Court. In fact, the Christian theocratic right-wing majority on the court was basically handpicked by Leonard Leo, through its list of political justices that Republican presidents, most notably Donald Trump, drew from.

As the investigative news outlet The Lever notes, even in this money- drenched world, Seid`s $1.6 billion gift exceeds all publicly known one- time donations to a politically oriented group.

But the really, really insidious part isn`t just the whopping sum. It`s that the donor and Leonard Leo`s new trust got away with it without paying a dime in taxes.

Joining me now, Sheldon -- Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, my favorite person to talk about, about things like this.

How on earth, Senator, are the rules written in such a way that a $1.6 billion donation to a clearly political organization can be tax-free?

[19:55:07]

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): Well, two things.

First, it was given as shares in a company before the sale. So it avoided the capital gain and the appreciation. And, second, it went to a 501(c) organization that is able to avoid federal taxes.

So it`s about -- by our calculation, this is about a $400 million tax benefit to support right-wing dark money operations. So, listening to your last segment about people complaining about $10,000, and this guy got away with $400 billion?

REID: It -- I think, for the American, for the average American, when they think about government, this is the thing that makes them hate government.

The idea that people in Congress could get PPP loans themselves, people like Marjorie Greene, get a six-figure sum, not have to pay it, back, and then complain that somebody gets $10,000 forgiven or $20,000 forgiven, given which is a pittance to them, and then a guy like this purchases a Supreme Court that -- you have made this point many times.

They don`t just go after women`s rights. They don`t just go after things like Roe. They`re fixing the system permanently to make people like Mr. Seid permanently untouchably rich.

WHITEHOUSE: Correct.

And this fellow Leonard Leo, who was -- whose organization was the recipient of this huge political slush fund, is the operator of a whole network of front groups, many of which are also tax-exempt, and which operate under fictitious names under corporate law.

So the central pair of his groups has six legs sticking off it, total of eight groups in that central operation, which has three separate operations that he`s associated with, that he draws money out through. And we know one of them is the Judicial Crisis Network, which funded all the ads against Garland, for Gorsuch, for Kavanaugh, or Barrett.

So, this $1.6 billion, we`re going to see it disappear into this complicated network of front groups. And when it comes out, it`s going to be coming out under other names, like -- I`m making it up -- but Rhode Island is for Peace and Puppies and Prosperity.

It`ll disappear into the dark money network of the right wing and be on our TV screens by November.

REID: This guy Seid is another piece of this, because Leonard Leo is an ideologue. This guy Seid has given money also to something called the Heartland Institute, which is a climate-denying think tank.

There seems to be sort of a convergence of interests that is all about protecting the big oil, big coal, big gas from any regulation, protecting rich people from taxation.

Is there anything else that we should know that these people want?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, they want voter suppression. They captured the Supreme Court. They want climate denial. They want deregulation.

They don`t want pollution -- polluters to be have any enforcement against them. They want basically a very old-school business, really bad business array of changes for super wealthy businesses and billionaires.

And Leonard Leo has long been the operative of a group of billionaires and billionaire special interests that have spent their time capturing the court, so they can deliver these things.

REID: What they want is an oligarchy, because that`s what you just described.

How far are we down...

WHITEHOUSE: They want an oligarchy.

REID: How far are we down to being one?

WHITEHOUSE: What they want is a Supreme Court that will give them things that Congress won`t give them.

Even when they control Congress, even when they have Republicans in charge...

REID: Yes.

WHITEHOUSE: ... there are some things that even elected Republicans won`t do, like take away abortion rights, like make dark money the law of the land.

These are the things that they count on an unelected, but captured Supreme Court to do. And they have spent $580 million capturing the court. So, this is a real operation, and it just got $1.6 billion more.

REID: What can we do about it?

WHITEHOUSE: Expose it.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Vote on the DISCLOSE bill that will expose this. Keep digging into it. And make sure the American people know that this is not just conservative vs. progressive. This is a group of self-interested billionaires out to control the country for their own benefit, so they can pollute at will, so they don`t have to pay the taxes, and so that they can operate without regulation.

REID: This is the nightmare future, ladies and gentlemen, that these people have been trying to build for generations. This goes all the way back. Read your stories about the 1930s. This goes all the way back.

Sheldon Whitehouse always bringing this out.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, always appreciate you.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.