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Transcript: The ReidOut, 9/13/22

Guests: Stuart Stevens, Doug Jones, Andrew Kirtzman


Bombshell new allegations accuse Donald Trump and William Barr of using the law to go after Trump`s political rivals. Senator Lindsey Graham pushes for a federal abortion ban. Author Andrew Kirtzman discusses his new detailing the rise and fall of Rudy Giuliani.




GEOFFREY BERMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: The person said: "Hey, you have just indicted two major allies of the president, Chris Collins, a Republican congressman from Upstate New York, and Michael Cohen, the president`s lawyer and fixer, and it`s time to even things out by indicting a Democrat before the midterms."


REID: The bombshell new allegations from former U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman that Trump and William Barr wanted him to put his thumb on the scales of justice and go after Trump`s political rivals.

Also tonight, we have come to know Lindsey Graham as the most cravenly opportunistic politician in America, and that is saying a lot with Marco Rubio out there. And now, just two months after saying that states should decide on abortion, he is pushing for a federal ban.

And Giuliani biographer Andrew Kirtzman joins me on Rudy`s disgraceful dissent. He was once called America`s mayor. And now he`s pretty much just a MAGA laughingstock.

We begin tonight with new details on how Donald Trump ran his Department of Justice, which is exactly how he saw the governmental agency, as his. It`s actually run by the U.S. attorney general. But when said attorney general is one William Barr well, things get a little murky, don`t they?

Which brings us to Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who Trump fired in 2020 after he refused Barr`s request that he resigned. A lot has happened since 2020, a lot, but you may recall Berman`s firing was a big deal. We`re talking about an American president strong-arming a U.S. attorney general to fire a prosecutor because he refused to obey and to twist his office for the president`s political purposes and therefore had to be snuffed out and replaced with a lackey who would.

Let`s just say we weren`t the only ones likening the U.S. to a banana republic that day. Berman has a new book, "Holding the Line." It is out today. And in it, he details his ouster, along with damning allegations that Trump sought to use the U.S. attorney`s office in Manhattan as his own private law firm.

One of the ways Berman alleges that Trump -- the Trump Justice Department did that was to try to initiate criminal investigations or block them, depending on how Trump would benefit. The book describes how Barr suggested that the conviction of Michael Cohen, Trump`s attorney, former attorney, be reversed, and that the DOJ pressured Berman`s office to prosecute two Trump targets, former Secretary of State John Kerry and Greg Craig, a White House counsel under President Barack Obama.

Craig is one of Washington`s most powerful Democratic lawyers, and Trump wanted him to go down. Remember, nothing is more triggering for Trump than someone or something that`s attached to the name Obama. And so the pressure to prosecute Craig came in September of 2018, two months before the November midterms, when a department official called Berman`s deputy.

Earlier today, Berman told my friend and colleague the great Nicolle Wallace what the official said.


BERMAN:" We want you to indict Greg Craig before the midterm elections."

The person said: "Hey, you have just indicted two major allies of the president, Chris Collins, a Republican congressman from Upstate New York, and Michael Cohen, the president`s lawyer and fixer, and it`s time to even things out by indicting a Democrat before the midterms."


REID: Berman`s office refused to even things out and said that they believed Craig was innocent. It should have ended there.

But, instead, the DOJ sent the investigation to federal prosecutors in Washington, where Craig was indicted and tried on a single count of making false statements. He was immediately acquitted by a jury, because, as Berman`s office tried to tell Barr, he was innocent.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will now investigate these allegations, which adds another probe into the crowded genre of Trump controversies. Last night, we learned that the current Justice Department has issued 40 subpoenas in a week, expanding its January 6 inquiry. It also seized the phones of two Trump advisers.

The January 6 Committee is also signaling that another hearing could occur later this month. What these ongoing, overlapping investigations reveal could and should impact how America chooses its leaders in November, as well as this very day, as the primary season comes to a close tonight with elections in New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Delaware.


One of the Republicans running for his party`s Senate nod in New Hampshire is Don Bolduc, a Trumpy, MAGA happy advocate for the big lie who is leading in the polls. Even though Trump himself isn`t on any ballot, his followers are. And until that pivotal day in November, the probes into January 6 and how Trump ran his DOJ will be impossible to ignore, raising the stakes of an election that could cost us, well, everything.

Joining me now is former U.S. Senator from Alabama Doug Jones, who is a distinguished senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and Stuart Stevens, senior adviser for The Lincoln Project.

Thank you both for being here.

And, Senator Jones -- I still call you Senator Jones.


REID: You were a prosecutor.


REID: So you understand that the prime directive obviously is to do justice without fear or favor.

JONES: Sure.

REID: What do you make of these allegations from Mr. Berman that, essentially, William Barr was using the DOJ as Trump`s attack dog?

JONES: Well, I think Donald Trump was using the DOJ through the attorney general. That should come as no surprise.

I mean, remember, Joy that Jeff Sessions was forced out as attorney general...

REID: Yes.

JONES: ... because he did the right thing by recusing himself in the Mueller investigation, and Donald Trump never let him over that. He always was after him.

So, from the very beginning of the Trump administration, the DOJ was seen by the White House as Donald Trump`s lawyer, doing Donald Trump`s bidding, attacking his enemies, supporting his friends. It really comes as no surprise. But I will tell you, for those of us on both sides of the aisle who had been involved with DOJ for many, many years, it`s really -- it was really a sad state of affairs.

It`s still sad to even read about it, to hear about it, because that is not the way. Justice Jackson one time said, all U.S. attorneys should always make sure that they don`t do anything that is politically motivated. They don`t have the appearance. DOJ doesn`t investigate people.

REID: Yes.

JONES: They investigate crimes.

REID: Let me just play -- because you`re absolutely right. Donald Trump is giving me orders. Barr is just following them.

But I just want you to listen to what Mr. Berman had to say about Barr, about Barr himself, when he was on with Nicolle. Take a look.


BERMAN: I think we should examine whether they followed their oath prior to the election. That`s the inquiry that`s important to me. And prior to the election, Barr did the bidding of the president and he politicized the Department of Justice.

And Barr couldn`t have done what he did, without the help of others in the Department of Justice. Bill Barr should have been standing in front of those magnificent doors of the Department of Justice stopping political interference from entering. And, instead, he was the chief architect of that interference.


REID: I mean, yes, Trump is calling the shots, but Barr was dancing to the tune. And you were considered at one point for attorney general.

I highly doubt that you, all of your history, your work as a civil rights lawyer, et cetera, that you would have taken an order from any president to do what Barr did.

JONES: No, absolutely not.

REID: So, Barr is -- do you think that William Barr is corrupt?

JONES: Oh, I`m not going to go with corrupt. I just think that there was a situation where he was in a position where he was being -- Donald Trump was pushing everybody in his administration to do his bidding. I don`t think Bill Barr did that.

I voted for -- I voted to confirm Bill Barr.

REID: Right.

JONES: And I have also ultimately said it was one of two or three that I - - if I could take back, I would...

REID: Yes.

JONES: ... because it was pretty clear very soon afterwards that he was not going to represent the department, he was not going to be that independent voice that I thought would instill the integrity, but he would be doing the bidding.

It was improper at the time. And, as I think Mr. Berman said, what happened before the election is completely different than what we see with Bill Barr afterwards, who was on his way out the door.

REID: Stuart, let me bring you in here, because the thing is, is that there is this thing that Donald Trump does. He either finds people who are corruptible or he corrupts them. And I know it`s hard to imagine -- to understand which it is.

With Barr, though, he wrote a memo applying for the job essentially saying, please, sir, put me in, coach. I will save you from the Mueller probe, outlined how he would do it in a memo, got the job and came in and acted as the attack dog for the president of the United States, something Richard Nixon really wanted his attorney general -- and is the only other president who seemed to openly want that.

Barr is now out on a rehabilitation tour, reputation renovation tour, all over the place. And he went against Donald Trump trying to overthrow the election. What do you make of his level of corruption or not?

STUART STEVENS, THE LINCOLN PROJECT: Well, first, let me give a shout-out to Senator Jones. I`m a Senator Jones fanboy. And I hope, next time there`s an open primary for the Democratic nomination for president, he will run.

REID: Hear, hear.


STEVENS: I`m dead serious.

REID: I agree.

STEVENS: He would be a fantastic president.


Look, I think Bill Barr is in a plea bargain with history now. He`s trying to rewrite his position. I mean, look, I think, with all these Trump people, there`s a fundamental question that -- if Trump had won or had they been successful in the coup early on, would they still be working for Trump?

And there`s every reason to believe that Bill Barr would still be there. And it`s part of this complete moral collapse of the Republican Party. And what Trump has done is, he`s attacked the institutions of civil society, law enforcement, judiciary, the elections themselves.

And as part of that, he finds people who are corruptible. You can argue whether or not there -- I don`t know where the difference is between being corrupt and acting like you`re corrupt. And it completely destroys faith in the institutions, which is what is his goal.

That is what authoritarians want to do, that you don`t believe in the system anymore, so you have to go to this strongman or strongwoman, and that`s the way that they will save you. And that`s just an extraordinarily un-American movement. It`s -- because we are about these institutions. That is what makes us different than -- makes us the world`s longest acting democracy.

REID: You know, and what`s frightening about it, I think -- let`s just look at -- this is four my wonderful downtown Sterling Brown, my director.

This is the number of people who are running who are election deniers. Out of 541 Republicans who are running for office, 199 -- 199 have fully denied the legitimacy of the election; 62 have raised questions; 118 had no comment. Only 74 have accepted the results.

I mean, you served in the United States Senate. What`s frightening now is that you don`t have a brand of Republican who can separate themselves from Trump, that there`s no one who seems to have the moral strength to stand up to him left in the party, even Mitch McConnell. They all take the knee. They all bend the knee.

JONES: Joy, it seems to me that you have got three different genres of Republicans at this point. You do have a few people standing up, but they`re few and far between.

You have seen a couple...

REID: Mitt Romney.


JONES: On occasion. On occasion.

REID: Sometimes, when he wants to, yes.

JONES: Governor Hutchinson in Arkansas said some things. Governor Hogan has said a few things.

But then you have got -- then you have got what has been called lately the MAGA Republicans, who are just Donald Trump acolytes. They`re going to they`re going to follow that lead. They`re going to do everything. And then there`s this group in the middle, and it`s a huge group, and they`re quiet. And those are the enablers.

And those are the folks that should be speaking out. We have seen so much coming from the January 6 Committee. We have seen so much coming out of Mar-a-Lago that, factually, factually, you cannot deny, and -- but yet there is no -- from this group of the enablers, there`s no condemnation. There`s no distance. There`s nothing but kind of crickets, except when they need help.

And those 199 or however many set you said election deniers, that is a frightening number.

REID: Yes.

JONES: Because those people can win. And people need to get out. And they need to understand that and they need to get to the polls. This is an -- every election is the most important election.

REID: Yes.

JONES: But this damn sure is going to be the most important.

REID: Absolutely.

I`m going to give you the last word on this, Stuart, because the question is, is there a path out? And I think President Biden has really tried to light a path out. Like, he`s lay -- he`s putting little candles down on the ground and saying, come with me if you want to live. Like, if you want to still be a normal Republican, walk down this path, and I`m going to segregate out the MAGA from you.

And I just wonder if there`s anyone left that will walk down it?

STEVENS: Well, there`s few and far between. And here`s the test. Every Republican incumbent U.S. senator and every challenger who won the nomination for the U.S. Senate has said that they would support Donald Trump if he were the Republican nominee in `24.

REID: Yes.

STEVENS: What else do you need to know?

Knowing everything that we know now, they still won`t walk away from Donald Trump. And that, I think, is just a complete collapse of a party. We have never really seen anything like this in American history, where a party has not only gone away from the principles it long espoused. It`s attacking them.

REID: Yes.

STEVENS: And I think we have to live in that world. And I can`t tell you how gratifying it is to see that democracy now is on the ballot, and people are talking about this.

And I think this is how you win elections. You decide what this race should be about, and you push that agenda. And I thought the president`s speech last week was magnificent. And Democrats just need to keep talking about what is at stake here.

REID: Yes.

STEVENS: And it`s nothing short of democracy.

REID: I will tell you. We are out of time.

But I have some Republican friends. People are surprised I have Republican friends. I do have Republican friends. And what they tell me, to a person, to a man and a woman, is the only cure is, they have to lose and lose again. And when they are really in the wilderness, maybe then they will try to find their way back to the light.


But, if they don`t lose, nothing will change. That is at least what my Republican friends tell me.

But we will leave it there for now.

Former Senator Doug Jones, who Alabama made a huge mistake by not having you be senator anymore. And your replacement is, oh, lord Jesus, I won`t even discuss. And Stuart Stevens, friend of the show.

We appreciate you both. Thank you all. Thank you both.

STEVENS: Thank you.

REID: And cheers.

And coming up next: A new Republican talking point on Trump`s stolen classified documents goes something like this. Yes, Sure., what he did violated the law, but it would be a mistake to prosecute him, because, I mean, it wouldn`t be very nice.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: Tonight, the Department of Justice has filed a new motion in support of their request for a partial stay in the appointment of a special master to review the documents seized from Trump`s Mar-a-Lago estate last month.

In the filing, the DOJ pushes back on the Trump lawyers` argument that there is still a question about whether the more than 100 documents with classified markings are in fact really classified.

The DOJ writes: "Even if plaintiff had declassified these records, even if he somehow had categorized them as personal records for purposes of the Presidential Records Act, neither of which has been shown, nothing in the Presidential Records Act or any other source of law establishes a plausible claim of privilege or any other justification for an injunction restricting the government`s review and use of records at the center of an ongoing criminal and national security investigation."

This comes as we are awaiting a decision from the Trump-appointed judge who controls the path forward, at least for the moment, in the DOJ investigation of the documents. Judge Aileen Cannon is expected to release her decision at any time on the DOJ`s request to lift her prior restriction barring the FBI from using the seized documents in its ongoing investigation.

In the meantime, the DOJ has signaled that it would be willing to accept one of the special master candidates proposed by Trump`s legal team, Judge Raymond Dearie. Dearie is a Reagan appointee and former chief federal judge in New York. He also served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and was one of the judges to sign off on the DOJ request for a FISA warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page for an investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 election, which makes him an interesting choice for Trump land.

As we have said over and over on this show, this whole little dance that we`re seeing is just a speed bump on what many legal experts have agreed is a strong case to be made against Trump.

But leave it to someone like John Yoo, the George W. Bush era Justice Department employee who helped write the torture memos on interrogation techniques after the September 11 attacks, to try to make this argument -- quote -- "It is not whether Trump violated the law. He did. It is not whether the government had legal grounds for the search warrant. It does. The question is really whether he could be charged. The real issue -- and I think both people -- people on both sides of the aisle should recognize this -- is, it a good use of prosecutorial discretion, of judgment to charge him?"

I mean, he was on the TV. He`s like a TV star.

Joining me now, Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney and professor at the University of Michigan Law School.

And, Barb, have you ever heard the question being not whether someone broke the law, but whether it would be too divisive to prosecute them? Have you ever heard about that -- heard of that when you were a prosecutor?


So, Joy, when you`re a prosecutor, there is a whole list of reasons that you may use to decline prosecution, not worthy of scarce government resources, not in the best interest of justice, insufficient evidence, being prosecuted by some other authority, but not on the list is prosecution would be too divisive.

And so I strongly disagree with John Yoo on this count. In fact, I think there`s so many aggravating factors here, that it would be very difficult for the Justice Department to decline to charge under these circumstances.

REID: That`s what it seems to me as a layperson.

Let`s talk about Mr. Dearie for a moment. So the -- it does seem like the least -- he seems, at least to my lay ears, like the least worst option that was presented by the Trump team, surprisingly that they picked -- surprising that they picked somebody who was a FISA judge who was somehow involved in the Carter Page -- who was involved in the Carter Page warrant.

What do you know of him and what do you make of him?

MCQUADE: He actually seems like a fine choice. And the fact that he did sign that Carter Page FISA, I wonder if Trump knows. Don`t say it too loudly.

But, by all accounts, he has a fine reputation. He`s a judge in the Eastern District of New York, certainly a Reagan appointee, but I think that means he follows the law, follows the rule of law. And so I would expect him to be good.

One thing that`s really interesting to note, Joy, is that by selecting someone or suggesting someone who`s been on that Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court suggests that you need somebody who`s experienced in reviewing classified documents. Well, if the documents were declassified, why is it that you need someone who`s got experience with classified documents? Just yet another inconsistency in their arguments.

REID: It`s a very interesting question that you asked, because there`s also a thing about whether or not they`re saying they were classified.

It`s like it`s become like a thing. One of our producers, he`s been obsessed with this every day, because they`re not actually saying they declassified anything. So, there`s two ways that they`re describing this.


Their August 30 filing regarding this special master, the counsel to Donald Trump says that: "The counsel of the former president represented that all records had come from the White House were stored in one location. The counsel further represented that there were no records stored in any private office space."

But then today, in the unsealed search warrant affidavit, you had the former -- the former president`s counsel say that he was advised that all the records that came from the White House were stored in one location, and that he was not advised there were any records in any private office space.

This isn`t about the classification. It`s just about the way they`re talking about these documents. Is that significant at all? Or are we getting too nitpicky?

MCQUADE: No, I think it`s a really good find.

It`s written in the passive voice. And most people who are prosecutors are decent writers. They know that, ordinarily, you`re supposed to write in the active voice and you avoid the passive voice. It`s not considered to be good, clean writing.

And yet, occasionally, you will see use of the passive voice oftentimes to disguise or avoid naming the subject of the sentence. Who provided that advice? So, counsel was advised. Was it Donald Trump? Was it someone else? And so they can state the -- make the statement without stating what may be obvious there.

But I think it could implicate Donald Trump, if he was the person who provided that advice.

REID: At some point, don`t they have to just actually say whether he declassified anything? And, also, isn`t that irrelevant? Because you`re not allowed -- I can`t go into the White House and come out with some documents and be like, oh, don`t worry that. These are declassified.

I would still go to jail.


MCQUADE: You`re absolutely right.

So, number one, it`s irrelevant in this case. Even if, as a former president -- or, while he was sitting president, he had the power to declassify them, it`s irrelevant in this case as a matter of law. And that`s because the charges that they used for this search warrant do not require classified documents.

The Espionage Act simply requires that they pertain to the national defense. So, if this is about defense information, regardless of classification, it is a crime to willfully retain them from the government.

As for the other part, where they have been very cute about this, Donald Trump himself in his social media posts says, declassified, all caps. But you will notice that the lawyers don`t say that, because the lawyers are filing court pleadings...

REID: Right.

MCQUADE: ... under penalty of perjury or disbarment. And so they just say things like, well he had the power to declassify, but they don`t quite come out and say that he did.

And that`s because he didn`t, and he didn`t have the authority to do that, and it doesn`t matter anyway.

REID: Because not everybody is Rudy Giuliani, willing to take their law degree and throw it in the air and wave it like you just don`t care and burn it in the -- in cinders. Nobody else wants to do that, except maybe him.

Barbara McQuade always, a pleasure. Thank you very much. We appreciate you.

MCQUADE: Thank you.

REID: What a world.

Still ahead: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham pushes a nationwide abortion ban, a desperate move by Republicans to motivate anti-abortion voters ahead of the looming midterms.

More on that next.



REID: During the 2004 presidential election, Republicans in 11 states proposed state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriages. It was part of a strategy to boost turnout. And it worked.


ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: Many voters say Democrats don`t understand their moral values. Even some Democrats say it boils down to guns, God and gays, issues of faith and culture, especially important in the Midwest and South.


REID: The amendments passed overwhelmingly in all 11 states. But, more importantly, it drew in thousands of socially conservative voters.

Nearly two decades later, reproductive rights is just as galvanizing for millions of women, and Democrats are hoping that ballot measures on abortion rights drive up voter turnout.

Last week, the Michigan Supreme Court cleared the way for the state`s voters to decide if they want to enshrine reproductive rights in their state`s Constitution, a move that some believe will boost turnout for Democratic candidates in a number of statewide races.

Jessica Leach, a lifelong Republican who lives in Michigan, recently told my friend and colleague Yamiche Alcindor the Supreme -- U.S. Supreme Court`s decision to roll back Roe was devastating and forced her to reconsider her position.


JESSICA LEACH, MICHIGAN VOTER: I always considered myself pro-life.

It wasn`t until I had read a few articles and realize the gravity of the situation and what was at stake that it really hit me. At an uncertain time of pregnancy, I think you need to empower women, and you need to give them the choice.


REID: Just one month ago, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham was OK with states like Michigan taking these issues to the people.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I have been consistent. I think states should decide the issue of marriage and states should decide the issue of abortion.


REID: OK, today, that guy, the guy who says he`s been totally consistent, now thinks it`s a great idea for Congress to go on ahead and pass a federal ban on abortion and mandating a criminal penalty of up to five years in prison to any person who helps facilitate an abortion.



GRAHAM: Here`s what I think, that I think we should have a law at the federal level that would say, after 15 weeks, no abortion on demand.


REID: The name of Graham`s bill includes the phrase late-term abortions, which is not accurate; 15 weeks is not a late-term abortion. And it should not be used, because it`s actually a made-up term.

But that really shouldn`t surprise you coming from a guy who is probably the most cravenly opportunistic politician since Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell. Flip-flopping political positions is Graham`s M.O. Underneath the faux folksy exterior, he`s just that guy.

Back in 2016, he famously told the American people to hold him accountable for blocking the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court because it was too close to the election.


GRAHAM: If there`s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said, let`s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination, and you could use my words against me, and you would be absolutely right.


REID: Now, fast-forward four years and roughly two weeks, two weeks before the 2020 election, Graham cleared the way for Justice Amy Coney Barrett, because -- quote -- "The rules have changed."

Senior Republican aides tell "The Washington Post" that Graham`s legislation and its House companion would be a top priority if Republicans take back the majority.

Someone tell Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had this to say about Graham`s legislation.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think most of the members of my conference prefer that this will be dealt with at the state level.


REID: Uh-huh.

Back in may, Mitch told "USA Today" that a national ban on abortion would be possible. I wonder what happened between then and now? Could it be the surge in women registering to vote?

So, just know that Graham`s dangerous, ugly desperation move is the most definitive evidence you are ever going to get that Republicans know that abortion, not inflation, not crime, abortion will be the most important issue for voters in November, period.

More on that next.




YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NBC NEWS WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: What is at stake in this election and in the ballot referendum?

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Well, abortion and the right to be a full American citizen with agency over your body is on this ballot.

TUDOR DIXON (R), MICHIGAN GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: They`re concerned with how to get their kids back on track after they were kept out of school. And if you look at our crime rates in the past couple of years, it`s just continued to rise, and why our businesses are being crushed by big government.


REID: That was Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and her Republican challenger, Tudor Dixon, speaking to my pal Yamiche Alcindor, disagreeing about the importance of reproductive rights to voters.

Dixon, who is backed by Trump, is anti-choice and has said that rape victims find healing through having the baby of their rapist.

Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst and former Senator Claire McCaskill, and Yamiche Alcindor, NBC News Washington correspondent and moderator of "Washington Week" on PBS.

I`m going to start with you. This is great work by you, Yamiche.

Tudor Dixon is pretty unapologetically, completely anti-abortion, full stop. But she does seem like she`s running kind of a 1990s campaign. It`s all crime and big government. Are you detecting on the ground in Michigan that there is a crime, big government voter -- that there are more crime, big government voters that, just when you`re out there talking to folk in the world, or more voters who say women`s reproductive rights and really our full citizenship is on the ballot?

ALCINDOR: My sense being on the ground is that women are extremely upset about the Roe decision. And that`s women that are Republican or Democrat.

Tudor Dixon, while she is on record as saying that she supports banning abortion with no exceptions for rape and incest, she doesn`t really want to talk about that too much, right? She said it and it`s -- she is clearly on the record. But when I was interviewing her, I asked her over and over again, and she wouldn`t actually sort of own up to it while on camera.

And I think that the reason that that`s happening is because she senses that that`s not really a popular position. And you played some sound of Jessica Leach, who I think is the kind of voter that Democrats hope turn out in big numbers. She was a longtime Republican. She considered herself an opponent of abortion rights, up until the moment that those abortion rights were taken away.

She told me she couldn`t stop crying for weeks after Roe was overturned. And she told me she once went to an abortion clinic when she was pregnant at 19. She decided to keep her son, but she said: I know what motherhood is. I know the 24-hour job. I know the physicality of having a child. And I cannot in good conscience have to coerce women into having babies.

So, Jessica Leach is, to me, an example of what Michigan women all over the state are feeling. Of course, both sides are mobilizing, right? There`s the referendum. There`s now this hotly contested governor`s race, so people are definitely trying to mobilize on their sides.

But my sense is that this is definitely a top issue for voters.

REID: And, Claire, to me, the giveaway is what Lindsey Graham is doing, because the thing is, they -- it`s clear that Republicans have gotten the memo that even the media hasn`t really quite gotten yet that this is a mobilizing issue, a foundational issue for women.

And I`m telling you, I`m talking about I know people who are evangelical Christians who are anti-abortion who are angry, 38, hot, angry about this decision in Dobbs, because they don`t like the idea of women being dictated to and forced to give birth by the state, rape victims, everything else.

Lindsey Graham is trying to just turn out the other side. He has 45 co- sponsors for this -- for this legislation, 45. His bill would have rape exceptions only for minors if the doctor gets documentation from law enforcement reporting a rape. It would have criminal penalties, three to five years in prison, for a helping anyone to get an abortion.


That was his -- oh, sorry, that was his previous bill. So, we don`t know if this bill is going to have those same things in it. That bill that he did, that he had had a 20-week ban. Now he`s rolled it back to 15 weeks. What do you make of this as just a political move?


I think what Lindsey thought he was doing was somehow shifting the debate over trying to make Democrats look extreme. But here`s what`s in this bill, Joy. First of all, he didn`t have anywhere near 45 co-sponsors for this bill.

REID: Sorry. That was the old bill. So, that`s my bad. Sorry about that. His old bill did.



Republicans in the caucus are very upset with him. They want this topic to go away. They do not want it to be elevated. So what does he do? He not only introduces a bill. He puts in the bill that everything these states have done like my state, making doctors have to choose between prison and the health of their patients, making children who have been victimized by an uncle or somebody`s boyfriend and been raped, that they are forced to carry that child to term, all of that gets to stay.

This bill lets all the really extreme stuff stay in place. It just forces more liberal states that still respect women`s rights to do this federal standard. And he thought he could kind of confuse all this and make it all about late-term abortions.

No, women are smarter than that. And I would just say, and I think it`s really important for us to say this over and over again, we can talk about this being an important issue, but the only way we make it an important issue is if all of us find five people tomorrow that aren`t registered to vote and get them registered.

REID: And, I mean, in states like even South Carolina, Yamiche, you had a state legislator, who -- a woman, who came out and said she`s completely anti-abortion, but the idea that male legislators in her state would not even allow exceptions for rape and incest, she was disgusted by it.

I mean, this is an issue that`s now crossing outside of the bounds of Democratic voters.

ALCINDOR: Certainly.

And, to me, this is not about political lines, based on my reporting on the ground. It`s about women feeling like they -- like legislatures and lawmakers are being inhumane to women.

REID: Yes.

ALCINDOR: That`s the language that Jessica Leach, that voter who has changed her mind and her party affiliation, I should say, Joy. This isn`t just someone saying I don`t like your stance on abortion. This is someone saying I feel betrayed by my Republican Party, and, as a result, I`m changing my registration to being a Democrat.

That tells you that women are looking at these -- at these actions and saying this is not the party that I signed up for, and even if I thought of myself as an opponent of abortion rights...

REID: Right.

ALCINDOR: ... I did not think that someone who was raped or someone who was a victim of incest, that they would be somehow forced to do this.

She also told me -- and this was, I think, really interesting -- that she was talking about her birth control. This is -- goes beyond sort of abortion rights. There are a lot of women in this country who are saying, wait a minute, if big government is in my -- in my doctor`s office telling me about abortions, they might also tell me about birth control and contraception.

REID: Yes.

ALCINDOR: And that is a scary thing for a lot of women.

REID: And they`re saying that, Claire, because Clarence Thomas said it. He said that: "We should reconsider the substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell."

That means birth control. That means same-sex relationships. He telegraphed what he wants done. And now Lindsey Graham is taking step one. Do you think that Mitch McConnell would be able to stop a bill like this from coming to the floor, if he wanted to stay majority leader, if they got back the Senate? Wouldn`t he have to put it on the floor?

MCCASKILL: I think it would be very hard for him, with the abortion -- anti-abortion forces in this country that are totally Republican, I think it would be very hard for him to not let there be a vote.

REID: Right.

MCCASKILL: The question remains, if Mitch McConnell takes over, how soon will we blow up the filibuster? And will he have enough Republicans to vote for something like this, assuming that Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins are still around?

That all depends on the voters in November.

REID: Absolutely. This -- they -- the Republicans have now said, Lindsey Graham has said, this is the election. The election is whether women are going to have equal rights and be full citizens. He said it, not me.

Former Senator Claire McCaskill, Yamiche Alcindor, thank you both.

Up next: Farce or tragedy? A new book takes us inside the public and private unraveling of Trump`s last lackey, Rudy Giuliani. Its author, Andrew Kirtzman, joins me next.




RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I guess the best way to describe it is, it was the worst day of my life and, in some ways, the greatest day of my life in terms of my city, my country, my family.


REID: Well, Rudy Giuliani might be the only person in existence who has ever said that 9/11 was one of the best days of their lives.

Joe Biden was spot on in 2008 when he said about Giuliani -- quote -- "There`s only three things he mentions in a sentence, a noun, a verb and 9/11."

Looking back, it`s hard for lots of folks to imagine that the former mob prosecutor and the man who once called -- who was once called America`s mayor leading New York City through 9/11 is the guy now suspended from practicing law in the state of New York and is currently under criminal investigation for perpetuating Trump`s big lie.

He`s become a washed-up caricature who`s brought us Four Seasons Landscaping, black hair dye dripping down his face and dress-up time as a feathered jack-in-a-box in "The Masked Singer."

In his new book, "Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America`s Mayor," veteran New York City reporter Andrew Kirtzman described Rudy`s dissent as "the result of a series of moral compromises made over the years, as the temptations of power and money grew. There were any number of opportunities to do the right thing, whenever he -- when he did the opposite. By the time he reached an advanced age, all those compromises left him an empty vessel filled with a desire for power, and little more."


Andrew Kirtzman joins me now.

Thank you for being here.

And it is interesting. Your career covering Rudy Giuliani begins in 1992. I, at the time, was -- had just graduated college and was living in New York and had the most horrific experience living in Giuliani`s America. He seemed to me to be a hostile, awful man who has -- started off his career with this riot of police officers on the Brooklyn Bridge to try to oust David Dinkins, where they were screaming the N-word, et cetera, at the black mayor.

How did he develop a reputation as something other than malevolent? Because he definitely seemed, at least to my young black girl mind at the time, to be malevolent? How did he develop this sort of beloved image?


I think the answer to your question is, New York was desperate. We were in a desperate situation. The city was going broke. There was disorder in the streets. And the previous administration of David Dinkins, who was a trailblazing figure, the first black mayor of New York, was kind of mired in kind of the paralysis of good intentions.

And it just laid the groundwork for a law and order guy to come in and kind of clean things up, regardless of who got hurt. And I think that`s something he was very proud of, and he definitely achieved significant results, but at great cost, especially to the African-American community.

REID: You know, I think about the Patrick Dorismond case, where this young black man is shot by an undercover cop, and Rudy Giuliani`s answer is to say, well, he was no choirboy.

It turns out, he was literally a choirboy in the same...


REID: ... like, parish as -- or the same Catholic school.

KIRTZMAN: And he went to Giuliani`s Catholic school.

REID: He went to the same Catholic school, right.


REID: And the other thing about him that -- when Donald Trump became president -- you write about this in your book. It is interesting how they parallel, how the way he dealt with the media, insulting the media, saying their questions were stupid, attacking the media, was very much like what Trump did when he was president.

Do you get the sense that Trump sort of modeled his presidency after Rudy`s mayoralty?

KIRTZMAN: Yes, absolutely.

And I write about that a lot in the book, that, back in the, I guess 1990s, when Giuliani was mayor, Donald Trump was a developer, was not involved in politics, didn`t really -- probably didn`t know anything about politics beyond what he read in "The New York Post" every morning.

Rudy Giuliani was a role model, a political role model. He was bombastic. He was sadistic with his adversaries. He was blunt-spoken. And it was -- it made a big impression upon Trump. And when I spoke to White House staffers, I mean, they were -- to a person, they said that Donald Trump spoke about Rudy Giuliani in a tone that he reserved for just him, that they never heard him speak with -- about anyone with such respect, right?

And they also believed that Giuliani was a role model for Trump. And, of course, the relationship changed dramatically after Giuliani`s flameout in the 2008 presidential race. He lost that in humiliating fashion, walked away with just one delegate. And he was kind of lost in the wilderness and doing LifeLock commercials, and his consulting business fell apart.

His trip back to relevance was Donald Trump, and it evolved kind of Trump being the alpha and Giuliani being kind of this employee.

REID: Why do you think that he`s so loyal to Trump? I mean, he`s destroyed himself for him.

KIRTZMAN: Right. Well, it`s a tragedy, right? He shouldn`t have done it.

But it goes back to kind of the moral compromises that Giuliani has made all his -- all his life. And the first kind of pivot point was 9/11, when he`s this international hero. Instead of kind of preserving this statesman`s image, he decides to cash in, right? And so he makes $100 million dollars over five years, represents all of these sketchy clients, and profits dramatically, becomes politically powerful, because he aligns himself with Bush and Cheney.

And things are going great until he runs for president, 2008, and then, suddenly, there`s a crash and burn. And he`s out of office. And it kind of raises the question of, what do you do when you`re the most beloved man on the planet, and then you`re not?

And that`s where Donald Trump comes along.

REID: Yes.

KIRTZMAN: And that`s where Giuliani`s desperate efforts to stay relevant comes into play.

REID: Yes.

KIRTZMAN: And, to answer your question, he stayed with Trump as kind of dead-ender...

REID: Yes.

KIRTZMAN: ... because Trump was the only way...

REID: Because he was in a dead end.

KIRTZMAN: ... that he could kind of -- yes.

REID: Be relevant, yes.

KIRTZMAN: Yes, the only way he could survive.

REID: Yes, it`s a fascinating story. Fascinating story. Definitely will check it out.

Andrew Kirtzman, author of "Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America`s Mayor," thank you all. Thank you very much.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.