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Transcript: The ReidOut, 9/12/22

Guests: Iuliia Mendel, Tom Bonier, Harry Litman, Mary Peltola


Trump`s attorneys claim that the stashing of highly classified documents at Mar-a-Lago is nothing more than a storage dispute. The Justice Department`s criminal probe of January 6 escalates. Mary Peltola, who takes her seat in Congress tomorrow, speaks out. President Joe Biden touts his new Cancer Moonshot initiative. Voter registrations surge all across the country, especially among women. Ukrainian forces continue to make advances against Russia.




MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I think there`s also a question about why Trump`s lawyers apparently were so misleading, potentially lying in the affidavit, saying they returned all the information.

I think there`s a difference between playing a lawyer on TV and actually having good legal counsel.


REID: Ouch. Scathing remarks from Mike Pence`s former chief of staff, as those very lawyers now claim that Trump`s stashing of highly classified documents at Mar-a-Lago is nothing more than a storage dispute.

Plus, new reporting tonight from "The New York Times" on an escalation of the Justice Department`s criminal probe of January 6, including 40 new subpoenas.

Also, she`s the woman who defeated Sarah Palin in Alaska, giving hope the Democrats can hold onto their House majority. Mary Peltola, who takes her seat in Congress tomorrow, joins me tonight.

But we begin tonight on the 60th anniversary of John F. Kennedy`s historic moonshot speech, announcing his goal of putting a man on the moon and bringing him home.

Today, President Joe Biden announced new steps in his own moonshot vision, ending cancer as we know it, a cause he is truly passionate about since the passing of his son Beau from the disease.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On the 60th anniversary of his clarion call, we face another inflection point. And, together, we can choose to move forward with unity, hope and optimism, and I believe we can usher in the same unwillingness to postpone, the same national purpose that will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills to end cancer as we know it and even cure cancers once and for all.


REID: And while Biden was busy presidenting, his predecessors surprised everyone today, returning to D.C. looking a bit disheveled, apparently to play golf at his course in Virginia.

The golfing field trip comes as Donald Trump`s legal team is doubling down on their claims that the twice-impeached, disgraced, apparent document thief has every right to the classified stash he held at Mar-a-Lago and opposing the Justice Department`s request for continued access to those 100 or so classified documents seized during the FBI search, so that they can continue their investigation.

In a filing this morning, Trump`s legal team, picking up Marco Rubio`s talking points, called this whole situation simply a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, claiming the government is wrongfully seeking to criminalize the possession by the 45th president of his own presidential and personal records.

Now, as we have told you repeatedly on this show, classified documents do not belong to any president and are in fact the property of the United States, especially when they relate to national security affairs. And for the rest -- for the first time in any of their court filings, Trump`s legal team is questioning whether the classified documents are even classified at all.

They write: "The government`s stance assumes that, if a document has a classification marking, it remains classified, irrespective of any actions taken during President Trump`s term in office" and that "the government has not proven these records remain classified. That issue is to be determined later."

They even have an entire section entitled: "The president had the power to declassify documents."

But know what was missing? Any actual assertion that Trump did, in fact, declassify anything. I mean, perhaps they have the legal smarts to know that there are criminal penalties if a lawyer lies to a court.

And even if everything at Mar-a-Lago was declassified, which it wasn`t, that would not change the potential violations of the three criminal statutes listed on the FBI`s search warrant. That is because -- wait for it -- not only are classified documents America`s property. So are all of every president`s records.

They literally have to request them from the National Archives to put them in their own museums and libraries. So, again, all of his theater by Trump and his lawyers is just another attempt to delay what sure is looking like a looming indictment.

And don`t take my word for it. Listen to Ty Cobb, who represented Trump during the investigation into the Russia scandal.


QUESTION: What do you think the possibilities are of an indictment of former President Trump?


Having classified documents, particularly if you are actively using them, could be -- could be an offense well worthy of prosecution.


COBB: Well worthy of prosecution.


REID: Joining me now is Charles Coleman Jr., civil rights attorney, former prosecutor, and MSNBC legal analyst, and Harry Litman, former deputy assistant attorney general, "L.A. Times" legal columnist and host of the "Talking Feds" podcast.

I will go in reverse order and just ask you first, Harry Litman, do you agree with Ty Cobb?


And, interestingly, Ty Cobb is saying that it`s the indictment will likely go from -- emerge from January 6. We have been generally sort of separating them out and people have been focusing on whether the documents themselves would lead to an indictment.


But certainly nothing he said today -- you put your finger right on the filing, where he said, well, the government says they`re classified, but how do we know that what that means? Of course, that`s what it means to classify something. The government says. Or I have this power to declassify, as you say, it screams the question, well, did you or didn`t you?

The judge is supposed to decide this by Thursday and has not as yet called for a hearing, which would be a pretty obvious step to do, so you can just ask the lawyers, who obviously do, as you say, want to avoid criminal liability? Well, did he or didn`t he? Can you -- how about telling us?

As of now, though, it`s on the papers. And he`s disputed everything, making her -- giving her no easy out. She`s going to have to decide between two diametrically opposed positions.

REID: And since you served in main Justice...


REID: ... I just have to just clarify -- ask you to clarify for us one more time. And I know we have said this over and over on the show, but I would love for you to clarify it.

When a president`s term ends, under the Presidential Records Act, who owns all their documents, not just the classified ones, all of them?

LITMAN: Yes. Even when he`s there, look, is, Donald Trump, a former president. Another term for that is citizen. That`s all he is. He has some access, as you said, with special kinds of procedures, which just show how wrong he is here, to maybe send somebody and be able to take a picture of something.

But it`s so clear. Really, you have seen nobody anywhere on any side of the aisle dispute the proposition these are not his. They belong to the country and the people. And that`s even leaving aside the small set of very dangerous documents that he now is trifling with.

REID: You know, Charles Coleman, the challenge here, except for Marco Rubio, who claims it`s a storage issue, I don`t know of any provision. And, listen, I`m not a lawyer. I haven`t read the Presidential Records Act back to front, but I doubt that it says that presidents are allowed to store their records either at the National Archives or at their house, right?

I doubt that there`s anything in the law that says you could store them at the White House and leave them in the National Archives, or you could take them, I don`t know, to Bedminster. Like, that isn`t a thing.

And so I feel like there isn`t an argument here. Donald Trump did not have the right to have those records, period. And now we have -- and, look, we don`t know it was in the boxes. But it`s not like Trump only goes to Mar-a- Lago. There is this Daily Mail video of him heading off to Bedminster with boxes.

We don`t know what was in the boxes. We can`t say there`s anything in there, classified documents or presidential records. But he moves around to different places. Today, he`s in D.C., in his golf shoes. This guy could go anywhere, and the government, for more than a year, for 18 months, did not have access to the property of the federal government, because he took things and hid them.


REID: I fail to understand how that is not just an open and obvious crime, putting aside what he did when it came to January 6.

COLEMAN: Well, Joy, I think you`re absolutely right.

There is not an exception for any of this in the Presidential Records Act, which I have read from front to back. And it doesn`t exist. The Trump jury team or the legal team, rather, is trying to invent an argument, when one does not exist.

And that`s creative lawyering -- and that`s being kind, in terms of how I`m describing it -- at best, because you do not have a legal pathway to excuse what we have seen here. Donald Trump has broken the law with the possession of these documents, full stop, period.

I think it`s important to understand, however, that, even if there was a question or a dispute as to his ability to have these documents, the timeline makes very clear that he was in violation of these things, and had been informed that he was in violation of these things.

And he never, during the course of the back-and-forth between the National Archives, as well as between the Department of Justice prior to the execution of the search warrant made the argument that either these documents had been declassified, or that he had considered these documents his personal property.

So, because of that, to now come with that sort of argument in front of the judge is not only disingenuous, but it just flies of not having any sort of logic, reason, or based in law or fact.

REID: And except for in front of this judge. Apparently, this is the one judge in the country who thinks, maybe there is.

Harry Litman, let`s go to the other thing, because, right, Ty Cobb is sort of blending. And it`s sort of there`s so many crimes, potential crimes, I should say, that it`s hard to keep track of everything, but January 6 remains extant, right?

You do have lots of people, very high-level people, in things like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, who are charged with seditious conspiracy, very important -- very difficult crimes.

So, subpoenaing 40 different Trump allies seems like a pretty significant step for a Justice Department that had been accused by some and even some annoyed people on the January 6 commission of moving really slowly. This does not feel like moving really slowly.

LITMAN: Yes, I think that accusation has been put to bed.


It`s not just 40. It`s who the 40 are. So, they include just a lot of low- level people who were around Trump. Their only value to the government, but it`s a huge value, is to be able to say, here`s what he did, here`s what he said. And, by the way, these are not the sort of people who could ever claim attorney-client privilege -- they`re not attorneys -- or even executive privilege.

They`re really just there to kind of serve the king, but they have eyes, they have ears, and that makes them very potent witnesses against him. And this question, tell us about what he did and what he said on January 6 itself.

REID: You know, and, Charles Coleman, I put them all together.

It`s sort of -- and there`s -- there`s sort of an expansive scandal here that all goes back to Donald Trump`s belief that he is a sort of king, that he doesn`t have to follow the Presidential Records Act or the rules about what happens to the documents that belong to the presidency after he leaves. He doesn`t have to do any of that.

He doesn`t have to give them back when he`s even subpoenaed and told more than once, give them back. He doesn`t have to give them back, and that he doesn`t have to leave.

So, Maggie Haberman has some reporting out that Trump at a certain point said, I`m just not going to leave. I`m not going to leave.

I remember saying this. I think I once was on "Bill Maher," and he said it. Like, people have speculated that Trump would simply chain himself to the Resolute Desk and just refuse to leave. Well, now we have reporting that he said, I`m not going to leave. I`m not going anywhere. How can you leave when you won an election?

I don`t know. Ask Al Gore.


REID: You leave because your term is over and the Electoral College says, goodbye.

What do you make of just the -- I mean, I feel like they all fit into a piece. Do you?

COLEMAN: Joy, you know, I had this conversation a number -- I had a number -- I had this conversation a number of times before the outcome of the 2020 election, because everything that we had seen from Donald Trump up until that point suggested that he had already considered the possibility that he might not necessarily win, and he gave himself, particularly in public conversation, a window of opportunity to basically allow for him to basically not participate in a peaceful transfer of power.

And so I told people who I was close to, be prepared for this man to pull something that does not result in him sort of simply leaving office and riding off into the sunset

I think it`s important to understand that, when you`re trying to peddle a particular narrative, consistency is key. And we have seen consistency from Donald Trump about him sort of not being in the way of moving with the law, moving with the Constitution, moving with the will of the people of America for a very, very long time.

And that is something that we`re now seeing from his lawyers, with respect to them inventing arguments about the law and his ability to do things that he should not be able to do, that he is not legally able to do in their filings, because they are consistently peddling a certain narrative that gives him powers, that gives him abilities, that takes away obligations that he`s supposed to have as the former president of the United States, and that he`s not supposed to have as a regular citizen.

This is consistent with selling the narrative that they need the public to buy in order for him to maintain some semblance of support.

REID: You know, Harry Litman, Michael Cohen has speculated that, essentially, this is all about power, that Donald Trump essentially sees himself as the forever president.

And it all kind of fits. He said, I`m not leaving. I`m still president. He still refers to himself as president. He puts out statements with 40 -- with his presidential number on it. And still -- there are his supporters who still refer to him as president on other networks and on podcasts, et cetera.

If you`re a prosecutor looking at his behavior, do you then start to marry his refusal to leave the White House, to his willingness to foment an insurrection in order to undo the results of the election and allow the peaceful transfer of power, and his work, after that, saying, well, I`m just going to take my records that are mine that belong to me, classified or not, and take them to my house, because this is now the White House?

It feels like one narrative to me. I think you can`t separate January 6 from what he did with those records.

LITMAN: Yes, I totally agree with you. It`s just the sort of essential Trumpian sin of, everything is mine. There`s no such thing as a public interest. There`s only the Trump interest.

I just want to say one thing about Haberman, though. That`s a bombshell that Charles was just mentioning. But she also has in there him shortly after the election acknowledging that he lost, feeling abashed. What did I -- sorry, guys, what did I do wrong?

You want to marry something to the insurrection, that, the knowledge that he`s lost, really married up with what he did to try to stay in power, paint a very strong picture for a prosecutor of criminal conduct.

REID: Indeed. Amen. Well, we shall see how this works out.

Charles Coleman, Harry Litman, thank you both.

Up next on THE REIDOUT: Voter registrations are surging all across the country, especially among women. What it all means with the midterms just eight weeks away.

The REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: This time last year, President Biden`s approval numbers were dropping, gas prices were on the rise, and the Democrats` legislative agenda seemed to be on life support, but a lot can change in a year.

And with the midterms -- midterm elections less than two months away, gas prices are down. Inflation is slowing, and dropping as a priority issue for voters behind threats to democracy. Two key factors have played into the shifting winds, Republican extremism and abortion.


In June, the select committee made clear to the American public just how far Donald Trump and his Republican allies were willing to go on overturning the free and fair election of Joe Biden, utilizing any means necessary, including violence.

During a speech in Philadelphia earlier this month, President Biden highlighted that extremism as he went after MAGA Republicans for their threats to democracy.

Now, according to a new Reuters poll, a bipartisan majority of Americans agree with Biden that Trump`s movement is undermining democracy; 58 percent, including one in four Republicans, said Trump`s make America great again movement is threatening America`s democratic foundations.

The other key factor has been the Supreme Court`s decision to roll back reproductive rights. That decision has led to a surge in women registering to vote. Since that ruling, women have outpaced men in new voter registrations by 11 percentage points in Ohio, 12 points in Pennsylvania, and 15 points in Wisconsin.

In Georgia, the margin was six points and, in North Carolina, seven points.

Lauren Leader, who tracks this data, made a key point about a demographic that helped deliver Democrats the majority in 2018.


LAUREN LEADER, CO-FOUNDER, ALL IN TOGETHER: We`re really seeing that shift left, that shift towards the Democrats among independent women. They`re more likely to say that Democrats reflect their values, care about people like them.

And that`s all really important, especially in battleground states, where those independent women have an enormous, really outsized role to play.


REID: Tom Bonier, a Democratic political strategist and CEO of TargetSmart, who compiled much of the new data about women voters, recently wrote: "In my 28 years analyzing elections, I have never seen anything like what`s happened in the past two months in American politics. Women are registering to vote in numbers I have never witnessed. I have run out of superlatives to describe how different this moment is."

And Tom Bonier joins me now.

Mr. Bonier, it`s great to talk with you. Thanks for being here.

And I wonder if you can give me the balance here, because we know that women are registering to vote. I hear it anecdotally. I see it around people that I know, and that people are fired up to vote. What`s the balance on how much of that is fear for democracy and how much of that is Roe?

TOM BONIER, CEO, TARGETSMART: It`s impossible to ascribe an exact number to one or the other.

You`re right. I mean, these are two significant factors, as you said. Even earlier this year, pre-Dobbs, we saw Republicans underperforming. But we were still expecting a red wave election because of the history of midterm elections and all of the structural advantages the Republican Party had.

But what we have seen is, since the Dobbs decision was handed down on June 24, massive surges in women registering to vote, with Kansas leading the way, seeing this astounding 40 percent gender gap, which really drove the pro-choice victory in that state last month, which surprised, I think, all of us.

Now, as we look at these other states, and, as you can see here, significant advantages, all that have developed since that Dobbs decision. So I really think it`s a combination of both that have got us to this point where we have to be questioning whether or not this red wave really will happen.

REID: It`s funny, because I -- we talked about this on our 11:00 call. We have our 11:00 call where we pour our hearts on this show in the mornings.

And I was saying that I feel like the history narrative that the tide always turns against the president in power, it ignores the fact that, in `92, that didn`t happen, because there was a lot of anger about Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. That defied it. It didn`t happen in 2018. There was a lot of anger about Kavanaugh and the allegations against him.

And I do feel like -- I mean, Nate Cohn has this piece up today where he`s like, oh, I`m skeptical. I don`t believe -- I think we`re reading too much into this.

I do feel like, a lot of times, the pollster world ignores the passions of women, to their detriment sometimes. What do you think?

BONIER: You`re right. We have seen this happen before in limited elections.

The challenges that we`re well aware of in polling is that polling is at its best when elections look like previous elections. They`re based on projections of turnout. We talk about likely voter models. It`s based on who voted in previous elections. And if the elections don`t deviate too much from the norm, if there isn`t a group of voters who are too fired up, then, generally, the polling will do OK.

In this election and from what we`re seeing in this voter registration data and other data, it`s clear that women are more fired up to vote in this election than they have been in any election in quite a long time, if not ever, for a midterm election.

And so it makes the polling very challenging in terms of constructing a likely voter model that is accurately going to harness that turnout, that energy and enthusiasm.

REID: You know, it`s funny.

Back when I used to work in the election side of the campaign world, I mean, the question that used to define how things were going to go is cares about people like me. That`s the -- that used to be the thing we cared more about than anything else, and likely -- likelihood of voting, because it`s about passion and thinking the person is on your side.


And I know, in that `04 era, people who wanted to ban gay marriage were passionate, and in all these states, you drop that on the ballot, suddenly, that brought them to the polls.

It`s hard for me to conceive of a world in which banning, getting rid of a right -- we have never had that happen in my lifetime, that a right was taken away from half the population. And that -- that has to impact the election, right?

Like, women, even if they`re not of childbearing age, it`s a shock. And young women, they have always had this right. So, I wonder if we need to throw our models out for 2022.

BONIER: We do, or at least we need to take these models with a great big grain of salt, because back to that remarkable result in Kansas, that pro- choice position on that ballot, which was the no-vote in Kansas, doesn`t pass without getting significant Republican support.

Like you said, there are many -- it`s not just Democrats and independents. It was moderate Republican voters who looked at this and said, I`m not OK with government taking away a fundamental right based on a 50-year Supreme Court precedent.

REID: Yes.

And I -- look, Reverend Sharpton has said this. I have -- I totally agree with him. There are hardcore evangelical Christians -- I know some -- who are anti-abortion, personally oppose it. But the idea of having six people decide that 200-and-something million women don`t have any rights or that the states can control women`s bodies is unacceptable even to them, people who don`t even favor abortion.

Let me look at some more of your data. You have got these mail-in requests in 2022. And this is in Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. Mail-in became sort of the anathema to Republican voters, because Trump said it`s bad.

But it looks like there is a commitment to using it. And that commitment is living in a lot way -- in a lot of ways among women. Your thoughts?

BONIER: That`s right.

And the interesting thing about this -- and this is the first time we`re sharing this data, so it`s exciting -- is, we`re not just looking at voter registration now. Believe it or not, even with eight weeks to go, some states are allowing voters to begin requesting their ballots. And that`s really our first -- if we`re looking at, well, does this surge in and intensity and enthusiasm in voter registration come out in actual turnout, and these first states are actually showing that, in almost all of those states, women are surging not only in registration, but also in turnout, like you said, in some very key states, like especially Georgia.

REID: Yes.

And let`s not forget the state that is the king of mail-in voting, Florida. And it used to be how Republicans used to win. And they have been like, it`s a bad thing. Well, Florida uses it. It`ll be interesting.

Tom Bonier, please come back. Thank you very much, sir. Appreciate you being here.

All right, still ahead: A sign of things to come, perhaps? Alaska congresswoman-elect Mary Peltola joins me. I will talk to her about her historic victory and what it might tell us about the upcoming midterms.

We will be right back.




NARRATOR: From a small Yupik fishing village on the Kuskokwim River, five terms as a state legislator from Bethel, eight years as chair of the bipartisan Bush Caucus for rural legislators, proud Coast Guard mom, leader of the Kuskokwim River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, working to protect Alaska salmon.

MARY PELTOLA (D), ALASKA CONGRESSWOMAN-ELECT: I`m the Democratic woman who can win.


REID: That right there is Mary Peltola.

And, tomorrow, she will be sworn in as Alaska`s first Democratic House member in nearly 50 years, as well as the first Alaskan Native to serve in Congress. She is also the perfect example of why Republicans, they should be nervous about November, after pulling off a stunning and historic upset, defeating Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich in the state`s special election.

All three will be facing off again in November`s midterms, this time for a full two-year term.

And joining me now is congresswoman-elect Mary Peltola of Alaska.

Now I can congratulate you on air, as I did get a chance to do off air. It`s exciting. You get sworn in tomorrow. What time?

PELTOLA: Six thirty Eastern Standard Time, 10:30 p.m. Alaska time.

REID: That -- it is exciting.

And I can imagine that -- I did ask you -- I will ask you again. Have you picked out an outfit? I know this is completely shallow. But...

PELTOLA: Well, it is important because that seems to be what people talk about most.


PELTOLA: But, yes, I do have a dress that I have worn. I wore it to my son`s boot camp graduation from the Coast Guard last September. It`s nothing new, but it`s comfortable.

REID: Yes.

PELTOLA: It`s going to be a really long day.

REID: Yes.

PELTOLA: So comfort is the key.

REID: I have to say, we were talking about Gyasi Ross, who was on. You were his "Who Won the Week?" when you -- after you won.

And it is exciting, I think, for -- the indigenous people, who are the first people of this nation, have so little representation. In presidential administrations, there`s one person and in Congress. So you`re going to be the first Alaskan Native to actually represent your state.

How is that feeling for you?

PELTOLA: Well, I`m very proud of my Yupik heritage. And it is noteworthy.

And I think -- in response to your comment, I think there were hundreds of years of an effort to assimilate and erase Native people. But we`re tough. We`re survivors. And I am also half-white. My dad is from Nebraska. He`s German American. And so I carry that heritage with me as well proudly.


REID: Yes.

PELTOLA: And so I really want to emphasize, especially to Alaskans, that I`m here to represent all Alaskans, no matter what your ethnic background is.

REID: You sound a little bit like Barack Obama, right, because you`re coming from these two different worlds, and you`re sort of merging them.

You physically merge them in your own family, in your own life. And you`re able to do that politically.

We were talking a little bit about just the physical stamina you have to have to campaign in Alaska. You`re going from island to island, flying from place to place. How strenuous was that campaign?

PELTOLA: It`s a huge state. If you cut Alaska in half, Texas would be the third largest state in the nation. We`re enormous. We have more coastline than the Lower 48. We`re just really big.

And my campaign manager even noticed. He followed our campaign for a couple of days on the road. And he said, this is like a presidential campaign, because you wake up in one town and, at night, you`re 900 miles away, and you`re in a completely different place. And you can only get around by plane very often.

REID: Yes.

PELTOLA: So, it`s big. It`s grueling.

REID: And representing that state means that you have to continue to do that.


REID: You have to go. You want to represent and see all of these communities.

You -- we talked about the physical stamina that it`s going to take to go through tomorrow. Let`s talk about the mental and emotional stamina it`s going to take to be in a body where 129 people voted to overturn the election. There are insurrectionists there that are practicing the big lie every day, still lying about the election, still saying the president of the United States is not president.

You beat Sarah Palin, who is a very divisive figure, a very ultra-MAGA figure. But the fact that you defeated her, I think, signals to some people that maybe there`s an exhaustion with that.

Do you think that there`s an exhaustion with that? And what are you sort of bracing yourself for in dealing with this Congress?

PELTOLA: Well, I do think there`s an appetite for folks who want to bring people together and focus on the commonality.

We all want good houses and good schools for our kids and jobs that pay a livable wage and a healthy economy, healthy environment, Social Security. We all want those things. And I am very sensitive about the way in which MAGA people feel disenfranchised, forgotten, left behind.

I think so many different segments of our population feel that way. And now Caucasians are feeling that way and men are feeling that way. So I think that really signals to us that, across America, we have just got to do better at making sure that we`re talking about how we`re all in this together. A rising tide lifts all boats.

We have a very diverse population, but we have a common future. And we`re all in this together. And one of the things I like to say is, no American is my enemy. If you`re an American, I want to work with you. You`re my teammate.

REID: I did -- you`re very generous to say that, because there are some groups who have suffered much more greatly, I think, to be fair. And I think half of your heritage comes from that. And, obviously, people of color have suffered much more.

But the complaints on the other side largely get down to the fact that they didn`t win an election, to be honest. And I wonder what you make of building a political belief system around not accepting that sometimes you lose.

You are now a politician. You are a politician. Sometimes, you lose. And there is a core refusal to accept that this one group of people can lose. Isn`t that dangerous?

PELTOLA: Well, I just -- I -- for speaking for myself, I stay away from victim-sounding messaging. I try to stay away from messages of fear and hate. I think that those are very lazy emotions.

I think that, if we`re going to get to a place where we`re solving our problems, we need to set those to the side and really focus on the energy and the type of words and thoughts and energy and momentum that it takes to get to problem-solving.

And we can`t start solving our problems unless we are not calling names, unless we`re not impugning motives. In order to sit down and really get somewhere and negotiate, you have to bring the temperature down, and people have to not feel threatened.

And I think that everybody needs to make sure that they can save face. And you talk about one group having suffered more than another group. And I think that it`s important in America that we`re not trying to one-up each other on our level of suffering.

Every single being on this earth has a hard life. Why should I have an easy life? Everybody has a hard life. And, yes, certain things have happened to different groups that other groups haven`t had to face, but life is hard.

REID: I think that your philosophy fits perfectly with Michelle -- when Michelle Obama says, when they go low, we go high, you obviously go high.

Mary Peltola, congresswoman-elect and tomorrow Congressman Mary Peltola, we will be watching. Thank you very much.

PELTOLA: Thank you, Joy.

REID: Really appreciate you.

PELTOLA: Thank you.

REID: All right, congratulations.


OK, so up next, we have -- which camera am I on? Which -- major developments in Putin`s war, as Ukrainian forces report significant gains and Russian officials try to find a way to describe this as anything other than a humiliating defeat.

Stay with us.


REID: In what could be a major turning point in the war in Ukraine, which has now lasted more than 200 days, Ukraine has made an astonishing comeback, liberating large swathes of territory in the northeast, depicted by the blue areas that you can see on this map.


They claim to have pushed the Russian military all the way back to the border in some areas. It`s so bad that even Russian pundits are admitting on state-run TV that their military is failing and that their country is in trouble. And dozens of municipal deputies are circulating a petition calling on Putin to resign.

Of course, Russia`s official position is that they`re just regrouping. In retaliation, they have attacked critical infrastructure, knocking out the power in multiple cities.

President Zelenskyy responded to Russia on social media, making clear that Ukraine will not be deterred by its tactics -- quote -- "Without light or without you? Without you. Without water or without you? Without you. Without food or without you? Without you. Cold, hunger, darkness and thirst are not as scary and deadly for us as your `friendship and brotherhood.`"

More now from NBC News foreign correspondent Meagan Fitzgerald in Kyiv.


MEAGAN FITZGERALD, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: It`s been two weeks exactly to the day since the Ukrainians launched this counteroffensive.

Since then, Ukraine`s President Zelenskyy is saying that they have been able to recapture some 2,300 square miles of territory. Now, this counteroffensive was launched in the southern part of the country, the Kherson region.

But we`re seeing some significant advancements in -- especially over the last several days in the northeastern part of the country in the Kharkiv region. There, Zelenskyy says that they have been able to take back dozens and dozens of towns and settlements in the area there.

And we`re already seeing video from soldiers on the ground of people in those areas rushing to these soldiers, thanking them for liberating them, and many of these people living in Russian-occupied territory for months now.

We have also seen in this region where the Russian soldiers have retreated. Of course, the Russian Defense Ministry is saying that they`re not retreating; they`re just redeploying their troops to the east.

But this is certainly significant advancements that we`re seeing here by the Ukrainians. Meanwhile, all eyes on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, where some good news, some positive news for the first time in several weeks -- Ukrainian officials, energy officials, are saying that they have been able to restore a second power line to this plant.

Of course, the concern here is, increased shelling at any time could knock these plants, these lines going to the plant offline, but, at this point, there is some good news that the plant is being powered by two external lines -- back to you.


REID: NBC`s Meagan Fitzgerald, thank you so much.

Let`s bring in Iuliia Mendel, former press secretary to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and author of "The Fight of Our Lives: My Time with Zelenskyy, Ukraine`s Battle for Democracy, and What It Means for the World," a very timely read.

Thank you very much for being here, Ms. Mendel.

Let`s talk about this fight, because it does feel like the momentum is with the Ukrainians, taking back, from what I understand, more territory than Russia has taken in the last 200 days.

What`s behind -- what do you think is behind this change in momentum? Is it failure on the Russian side, a failure of will on their side, or triumph of will on the Ukrainian side?

IULIIA MENDEL, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY: First, let me say that we are -- retaken more territories that Russia captured since April. This is a little bit different.

And, still, it`s our Ukrainian territories that we are retaking back. And this is a huge celebration for Ukrainians.

But there are multiple reasons why Russians are being defeated right now. And, first of all, they do not have any motivation for this war. For you to know, the Ukrainian general staff now claims that around 53,000 of Russian servicemen were, as they say, eliminated in this terrible Russian invasion.

And this is a huge number, even for such a large army as Russian army. But Russian servicemen do not know why they`re fighting and what for they are fighting on this territory. Meanwhile, Ukrainians are highly motivated. And I understand that everyone already is very tired in Ukraine physically, but we stay with high morale,because we are fighting for our land, we are fighting for our families` homes and for the values.

We actually are fighting for our choice for the democracy. And this is very important. As I`m explaining in my book "The Fight of Our Lives," this is exactly the fight for our very existence. This is a very important moment in our history.

REID: Talk a little bit about Mr. -- President Zelenskyy. You worked for him.

His -- he`s very good at the badass quote, saying, we will do this without food, without water, without lights, without oil. We don`t care. We just want you out.

I thought that was an incredible quote. He has managed to evade what people I think early on would have assumed would be his capture or murder by Russia. And he stood up to and in a pretty incredible way. What is this guy like?


MENDEL: Well, not a very fast question to respond.

I have been working for him for 25 months. And, actually, when he declined, leaving the country in that very important -- in those very important first days, when we did not know how the war would continue, and when so many Western countries really believed we would collapse, and Zelenskyy, I am not going out.

I knew. I wasn`t surprised, I knew he would not leave the country, for the reason that I had been traveling with him to the war zone which was in Donbass that Russia invaded back in 2014 for many, many times. And I saw how he, as the president, was traveling to the front line just to handshake with the soldiers.

He was returning back to the zone of shelling to stand with his soldiers. He was saying, I, as the leader, need to stay with them so that they understand that I`m not a coward and I`m not running away.

And I have so many stories of these. I describe many of them in my book, so that I understood he is not the kind of person who leaves. And, in many ways, that was a super important reason for every Ukrainian that contributed to the fact that we are now independent, sovereign state, and that we are going to fight to the very end.

Look what he did. He united Ukraine, and he united the whole civilized world around our battle for democracy. This is -- this is absolutely important thing in our history. And now everyone knows that we are not victims.

Yes, we are targets for Russians, but we are not victims. We are fighters. And we will be there to the very end.

REID: You know, it`s sort of ironic that this country sort of shamed itself by electing a guy who starred on "The Apprentice."

Ukraine elected a comedian, and he`s turned out to be an international hero, quite a different person, who was bullied by our "Apprentice" actor. So, yes, it worked out a lot better for you guys to hire somebody who came from the entertainment world than it certainly did for us.

Iuliia Mendel, your book is "The Fight of Our Lives: My Time with Zelenskyy, Ukraine`s Battle for Democracy, and What It Means for the World."

Wishing you greatest luck with the book. I will definitely grab a copy as well. Thank you very much.

And still ahead: Twenty-one years after the 9/11 attacks, many questions remained unanswered, and victims` families are ramping up their demands for further transparency.

We will be right back.



REID: Over the weekend, you would be forgiven if you didn`t notice that it was the anniversary of 9/11. The coverage was full of the queen`s funeral arrangements and all the pomp and pageantry -- pageantry that goes along with it.

But, back here in the colonies, President Biden commemorated the 21st anniversary of the September 11 attacks and paid tribute to the emergency workers and families of the nearly 3,000 victims we lost that day.

The terrorist attack inflicted a devastating toll on Americans. And decades later, much is still unknown. Families have been pushing presidents to declassify material to shed light on key remaining mysteries, such as the connection between the Saudi government and the hijackers who carried out the attacks.

Last year, President Biden ordered the declassification of 9/11 investigation documents after Trump made the empty promise that he would do so himself. Families of 9/11 victims say those documents could validate their claim that Saudi Arabia played a role in the attacks, something Trump has repeatedly tried to downplay, especially when his golf club in Bedminster hosted the third event for LIV Golf, the professional golf circuit bankrolled by the Saudi crown prince, who is most famous for his moral proximity to a certain bone saw.

Dozens of 9/11 family members and survivors protested the event, including Brett Eagleson, whose father was killed on 9/11 it is absolutely shameful.


BRETT EAGLESON, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, 9/11 JUSTICE: It is absolutely shameful, it is absolutely disgusting that we have to be here today coming out in full force, shaming a former president and shaming golfers and shaming people at large who are doing business with this Saudi-funded golf league.


REID: In the days leading up to that LIV Golf tournament, Trump said something extremely weird, that nobody`s gotten to the bottom of 9/11.

Never mind his assertion back in 2016 that the Saudis were behind the attacks. Trump defended the Gulf partnership by casting doubt on the Saudi connection, part of his web of deceit around the attacks, which includes lies, like how he witnessed Muslims cheering the towers` collapse from Jersey City.

Turns out Trump, however, isn`t the only one who`s changing his tune now that he`s gotten a Saudi paycheck. Ari Fleischer, press secretary to President George W. Bush, who sold the invasion of Iraq to America as a supposed response to 9/11, even though Iraq had nothing to do with it, has ended his annual custom of live-tweeting his recollections of September 11 as they happened on that day.

Critics note he made the announcement after getting hired to do P.R. for the Saudis` golf venture. Voila.

Fleischer is denying any link between the two, but we know for certain what the leader of his party is capable of when there is money to be made, even when it`s blood money.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.