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Transcript: The ReidOut, 9/20/22

Guests: Judd Legum, Dahlia Lithwick, Hugo Lowell


Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield discusses Republican governors shipping migrants across the country and President Biden`s speech to the U.N. General Assembly tomorrow. The special master in the Mar-a-Lago case meets with the Trump team and the DOJ. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis continues flying migrant men, women and children to points unknown. Dahlia Lithwick discusses her new book, "Lady Justice: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America."




ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ATTORNEY: What they were proposing I thought was nuts.

I said: "Are you out of your effing mind?"


Now I`m going to give you the best free legal advice you`re ever getting in your life. Get a great effing criminal defense lawyer. You`re going to need it."


REID: Remember former White House attorney Eric Herschmann from the January 6 hearings? Here`s a guy who seemed to speak his mind in no uncertain terms.

Well, now there`s new reporting that he warned Trump that he could be in big trouble if he kept those classified documents. And after today`s special master hearing, why the Trump team is almost certainly regretting the choice of Judge Raymond Dearie.

Also, tonight, how`s this playing back home, Ron DeSantis, spending Florida taxpayer dollars to fly Texas migrants to places like Massachusetts? By the way, the world as we know it was built by migration and the United States was built by migration.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield joins me on that and the president`s big speech to the U.N. General Assembly tomorrow.

But we begin tonight in a Brooklyn courtroom, where newly appointed special master Judge Raymond Dearie is showing what it means when one actually applies the law while wearing the robe.

In the first hearing with the DOJ and the Trump legal team over the review of those classified documents that the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago, the Trump-nominated special master`s message to Trump`s lawyers was clear -- and I quote -- "You can`t have your cake and eat it too."

That came following sharp questions from Judge Dearie over what role they expected him to play in verifying the classification of the documents, given that this is controlled by the executive branch, not the judicial branch. Perhaps it`s why Dearie directly asked Trump`s team to declare what, if any of the classified documents Trump declassified before leaving the White House.

Trump has repeatedly said that he declassified all of them, but that has not shown up in any of the filings from his legal team. Today, his lawyers reiterated what they wrote in their filing last night, that Trump should not be forced to fully and specifically disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment without such a requirement being evident in the district court`s order.

As "The Washington Post" reports, that is a remarkable statement that acknowledges at least the possibility that the former president or his aides could be criminally charged. And as it relates to those classified documents, Dearie also not only indicated that he would not be releasing them to Trump`s lawyers to review, as they requested, but that he may even be able to resolve this without seeing the classified documents himself.

Now, let`s not forget that Donald Trump is reaping what he sowed, because it was Trump who requested a special master to review these documents in the first place. He even went shopping for a sympathetic judge that he nominated to make it happen. Presumably, all of it was to delay the FBI investigation into his gross mishandling of classified documents, which he repeatedly failed to hand back to the government, the very same government that has indicated he might still have even more classified documents.

But, for Trump, the one fact that probably is eating away at him right now more than anything else is that Judge Cannon ruled that Trump is the one who has to pay the bill for this special master.

Joining me now is Paul Butler, MSNBC legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, and Hugo Lowell, congressional reporter for "The Guardian."

Thank you both for being here.

Paul, I`m going to start with you.

Give me your read on this, Judge Dearie, who seems to be saying to the Trump lawyers, look, the government said these things are classified. You haven`t presented me any evidence they`re not. I`m going with the government.

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, it was always weird that Trump had selected Judge Dearie to be the special master, because Judge Dearie has a reputation for integrity and playing by the book. And those aren`t things Trump seems to typically look for in his lawyers.

Judge Dearie does have a reputation also as being kind of slow to decide cases. And maybe that`s what was attractive to Trump`s team. But, today, he said there`s a new sheriff in town, compared to Judge Cannon. And he is being very strict with regard to deadlines. It`s well-known that Trump`s procedure has strategy in legal cases when he made lose on the merits is try to delay things for as long as possible.

And the judge isn`t having that today. He said, October 7 is the date where the lawyers should let me know what documents they believe are privileged, make those arguments, and I will decide the case after that.

REID: And I wonder, Hugo, just from your reporting, what`s going on in Trump world.

I mean, you have Eric Herschmann coming forward. And it`s now public, per this "New York Times" reporting, that he told Trump, you can`t keep these documents and tried to impress upon him the seriousness of the issue and the potential for investigations and legal exposure if he did not return the documents, particularly any classified material.


That is proof, at least in terms of this reporting, that Trump knew he shouldn`t have them. At least he was being told by a lawyer that he shouldn`t have them. I wonder how much they`re freaking out between that and the fact that this judge that they wanted, that they nominated seems to be playing it down the middle.

HUGO LOWELL, "THE GUARDIAN": Yes, look, I think the fact that Eric Herschmann told Trump in no uncertain terms that he couldn`t have these documents is really significant.

We come back to the same questions that we had with the January 6 Committee, willful blindness. Can Trump really claim that he didn`t know he couldn`t take these documents down with him to Mar-a-Lago? Of course not, and especially not when your own White House lawyers are telling you that that is not OK, and that you might be subject to a potential indictment if you do that.

Internally, they`re not that concerned about that, because they think Herschmann is a bit of a two-bit lawyer. That`s only what they think. Whether or not that`s true, that`s uncertain. But the one thing that they did get pressed on with the special master today which did upend them is the fact that Judge Dearie asked them to make a decision either way on whether Trump actually declassified these documents.

They were not expecting Judge Dearie to ask for this. They thought it`d be like Judge Cannon. It`d be really straightforward. We can just roll our way through this. And the fact that they were put on the spot I think came as a bit of a shock.

REID: And let`s go back to Herschmann for just a second, Paul Butler.

Is it -- they can say whatever they want about him. He defended Trump during his first impeachment, I think. I mean, they thought he was a pretty good lawyer when he was on their side. This is a guy who is admitting that Trump knew that there could be legal liability if he took these documents home.

Is that potentially a legal problem for him?

BUTLER: It`s totally a legal issue for Donald Trump, because the issue with him is always his intent. Did he have criminal intent? Did he know that what he was doing was wrong?

And with regard to these documents, there`s so much evidence, including the fact that he may -- he was requested to turn over these documents very politely, first by the National Archives. And then there was the grand jury subpoena, which he still didn`t hand over all of the documents.

So, finally, they had to use the search warrant. All of that, plus this new evidence from Herschmann, suggests that Trump willfully disobeyed the law. And, of course, he still hasn`t answered the central questions about what in the world he did with this classified document -- documents and what in the world was he planning to do with these classified documents.

And, importantly, Judge Dearie seems to understand the national security implications in a different way than Judge Cannon did.

REID: And, Hugo, let me just really quickly play this. These are some of the excuses that they have used over the course of time about what they had and what they claimed that they had.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But if you look at NARA, and you look at the things that are going on with the leaking and the documents probably planting, I mean, you look at planting, and you look at getting rid of -- remember this, remember this.

Everything was declassified, number one.

ERIC TRUMP, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: My father always kept clippings, press clippings. He would have newspaper articles, pictures, notes from us.


REID: And, Hugo Lowell, in court today, did his lawyers make any of those arguments, that he -- that these are just -- he said clippings, newspaper articles, et cetera, that everything was declassified?

Was any of that, were any of those points made by Trump`s actual lawyers in court?

LOWELL: No. And they danced around the issue, as they have done in court filings.

And that`s always indicative you don`t want to say something wrong in court, something that turns out not to be true, because there are penalties for doing that in federal court.

I will say one really interesting point that I noticed while I was watching today`s proceedings in Brooklyn, was that Jim Trusty, one of the president`s -- the former president`s top lawyers in this case, asked Judge Dearie about potentially giving his co-counsel security clearances.

Well, why would you need a security clearance if all of these documents are already declassified? Any member of the public can see them. So the fact that he raised that, to me, suggests that at least some of these documents clearly are not declassified.

REID: And so, Paul, what do you expect? I mean, just reading the tea leaves and listening to what it at least appears this special master, Judge Dearie, where he seems to be going with this, that he wants to work quickly, that he wants to get this done, as you said, by October, that he`s not going to drag it out the way that Trump lawyers wanted.

They also have this appeal that`s sitting there at the 11th Circuit. How do you see this going? Because it definitely doesn`t feel like it`s going Trump`s way.

BUTLER: Yes, so there`s no evidence that Trump ever declassified these documents. That`s only disputed by Donald Trump and people on FOX News, and, of course, Judge Cannon, who still is overseeing the special master. The special master, Dearie, just makes a recommendation to Judge Cannon, but it`s still her call.


And, Joy, on social media, Trump has claimed that he declassified the documents. But, as you said, he`s never made that representation in court, where lawyers get in trouble for saying things that aren`t true. So, instead, Trump lawyers are making this cutesy move, where they say Trump had the authority to classify the documents, but they`re not saying in court whether he actually did.

And Judge Dearie, he just ain`t having it. So, today, he told Trump`s lawyers, unless you show me the proof that Trump declassified the materials, I`m going to proceed on the assumption that documents marked top secret are actually classified.

And that should mean that, at some point, sooner, rather than later, DOJ will get these 100 documents, which they say are vital to the government and to the people`s national security.

REID: And let me just have you clarify one more time, Paul. I know we have made this point on the show before.

Even the unclassified documents, after a president leaves office, who owns the contents -- the documents produced by the president of the United States? Can a president simply legally take them home, even the unclassified things?

BUTLER: Joy, you and I have as much claim to those documents that were found at Mar-a-Lago as Donald Trump.

And we have that claim because we are citizens of the United States. Under the Presidential Records Act, whether documents are classified or not, if they are part of the president`s work, they belong to the National Archives. He doesn`t get to take those home when he leaves office.

REID: And last question to you, Hugo Lowell.

What is the confidence level now? I mean, the -- they definitely had confidence in Judge Cannon. There was that really sort of intriguing nugget in the reporting that said, don`t worry, they told Herschmann, just go ahead and represent that these things had -- these things were subject to privilege. We have a judge that`s going to rule in our favor.

Is there any reporting that kind of indicates who they meant by that? Or is that just an intriguing nugget that we`re just going to have to just enjoy and live with until somebody comes forward?

LOWELL: I think we`re going to have to see where it goes.

I will say tonight, at least, kind of Trump`s legal team and kind of advisers around the former president, people I have spoken to at least, are pretty confident about where this all ends up. And I will tell you why.

After this whole special master process is done and Judge Dearie makes a determination either way about the 11,000 documents, it all goes back to Judge Cannon, who has the final say on all of this. And if Trump`s lawyers disagree with Judge Cannon or Judge Dearie`s recommendations, then they have scope to appeal.

And they envision dragging this out all the way down to the end of the year, if they can. And I think that`s one point that we should just mention, because, like, all the special master stuff to team Trump is a little bit of a sideshow.

REID: Yes.

LOWELL: It`s just the vehicle they want to use to delay this further.

REID: Yes, absolutely. We will see what happens and whether the DOJ decides to escalate things further.

Paul Butler, Hugo Lowell, thank you both very much.

Up next on THE REIDOUT: The Florida governor`s traveling cruelty show continues, flying migrant men, women and children who have nothing to do with his state to points unknown.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: The Florida governor`s inhumane political theater continues, with Ron DeSantis playing politics with human lives, and threatening to lure even more vulnerable people to various cities under false pretenses.

This comes amid initial reports that another flight of migrants was being sent to President Biden`s own state of Delaware. President Biden was asked about the alleged plan earlier today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What`s on my watch now is Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. And the ability to send them back to those states is not rational.

You could send them back and have them -- we`re working with Mexico and other countries to see if we can stop the flow. But that`s the difference. Thank you.

QUESTION: Looks like he`s sending migrants to Delaware. Do you have any comment or response to that, sir?

BIDEN: He should come visit. We have a beautiful shoreline.


REID: In the past hour, a plane that was believed to be carrying migrants landed in New Jersey, but only contained crew members.

Public records, however, still show Florida is up to something, paying $950,000 to the same company that flew migrants to Martha`s Vineyard last week. This, of course, is paid with Florida taxpayer dollars, something DeSantis` Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist, condemned in a tweet, saying: "Ron DeSantis thinks using millions of taxpayer dollars to run a state- sponsored human trafficking scheme is a good way to spend Floridians` money. Remember that on November 8."

Today, migrants flown to Martha`s Vineyard filed a lawsuit against DeSantis and other Florida officials in federal court. The lawsuit alleges that they carried out a premeditated, fraudulent and illegal scheme centered on exploiting this vulnerability for the sole purpose of advancing their own personal, financial and political interests.

This comes one day after a Texas sheriff opened a criminal investigation into DeSantis` scheme, meaning that both Republican front-runners for 2024 are now under investigation. Junior MAGA really wants you to know that he is exactly, exactly like Trump.


REID: Joining me now is Democratic pollster and strategist Fernand Amandi and Judd Legum, founder and author of the "Popular Information" newsletter.

And, Judd, I do want to start with you, because you have had a lot of really good reporting on this, including the -- you were the first person to get hold of this brochure. I`m going to put it up on the screen.

Talk about what was in this brochure, because it is what seems to be the smoking gun in the idea that we have heard from reporters who`ve been on this show and reporters who`ve talked to "The Miami Herald" and other papers that these migrants were made pretty extravagant promises when they got on that plane.

JUDD LEGUM, "POPULAR INFORMATION": Yes, the interesting thing and something that`s important to keep in mind is that these migrants were not in the United States illegally.

They came over the border without documentation, but they surrendered. And they`re seeking asylum and are now able to remain legally in the United States. So the question is, did they board these planes voluntarily? And what a lot of the migrants were saying was, we were made all sorts of promises by the people who were hired by DeSantis of what we would get when we land on this plane.

We would get money. We would get housing. We would get assistance with job training. And then DeSantis was denying it. And what this brochure shows is that they were promised a whole laundry list of benefits if they were to board this flight. It was -- these were the promises made to try to get people onto the flight.

And this is a brochure that`s listing benefits that are available to an entirely different category of refugees. They do not qualify for any of these benefits. So it really is documentary proof, not just DeSantis says one thing, the folks who were on the plane say another thing, we may never know the truth.

We do to the truth because it`s written down here on paper. And here`s what these migrants were told, falsely, that they would receive upon landing.

REID: And just to stay with you for just a moment, do you have any idea why the plane that took off again today, and this company that`s getting a lot of Florida taxpayer dollars to do this, that`s going to Texas and taking people, was empty today when it landed in New Jersey?

LEGUM: We don`t know. We know that it was scheduled to land at a small airport very close to Biden`s vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

One reason might be the criminal investigation that you referenced in your introduction. Now that we know the planes, we know that tail numbers, and now that authorities do, it`s possible that law enforcement is tracking this activity and may have disrupted this latest plot. That`s just speculation. We don`t know.

REID: Yes.

LEGUM: But we do you know that there were definitely plans to do it. And we know there was another 900,000-plus dollars paid to the same company that initially got $600,000 that did the initial round of flights.

So we knew there were plans to continue this, to do more. DeSantis himself said there were going to be more. It looked like it was going to happen in Delaware today. But that didn`t end up occurring.

REID: Yes.

Fernand, let me bring you in here, because I`m fascinated to know what the kind of chatter is inside of Florida. State Senator Shevrin Jones tweeted: "You can`t go any lower than this. Ron DeSantis didn`t see those individuals as people. He sees them as things and his political point. Florida is the laughingstock of the nation once again, all for the wrong reasons."

This is unusual, given what I know of Florida politics. A South Florida radio host on Spanish-language radio whose name is Roberto Rodriguez Tejera, said this: "Truly, this is criminal. They`re using human beings to advance political points of view," condemned him, and compared DeSantis to Fidel Castro.

What are people saying inside the state about this scheme?

FERNAND AMANDI, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Joy, I mean, I think the sane that are paying attention to what`s going on are aghast at this.

This is beyond an act of cruelty and is certainly not a political stunt. I think anybody that calls this a political stunt doesn`t understand what`s happening. This is an act of evil.

But, Joy, when you pull apart the sociopathic elements, the moral repugnance and the indefensibleness of what DeSantis is doing here, I think Judd makes the point. Is this a criminal act? Because, if it is a criminal act, Joy, the voters of Florida need to know if the current sitting governor who is seeking reelection in less than a month-and-a-half committed crimes in the name of the state of Florida using taxpayer money.

So, if there are any prosecutors watching that are as repulsed by this and the trafficking of children with this DeSantis-as-coyote engagement, I think they need to stand up. It shouldn`t just be the sheriff of San Antonio. It should be those that are watching and understand the law.


And, by all accounts, this was done under false pretenses. By all accounts, Joy, a crime was committed. And they don`t have to commit any more crimes. Enough has been done. And if he did commit a crime, the voters need to know that before they cast their ballots in a month`s time.

REID: And let me play a former prosecutor.

Glenn Kirschner was on the show the other day, and he made that very point. Here is Glenn Kirschner in a new word we learned, inveiglement.


GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I would call it kidnapping by inveiglement.

Now, inveiglement is a word that we don`t often hear, but it is a federal crime. Fancy word. What does it mean? It means to lure, to lead astray, or to entice by false pretenses or deceitful means.


REID: Fernand, between the civil suit and the potential for criminal liability, as you just mentioned, how do you envision that impacting the governor`s race, if at all? As you said, voters need to know. And there`s - - they seem to know some of this.

AMANDI: Well, I mean, that`s the question.

Look, I`m not a lawyer. I don`t think Judd is a lawyer. You`re certainly not a lawyer. But we know bad stuff when we see it. And kidnapping of human beings and the utilizing of human beings for evil purposes for -- as political props, I think, is in violation not just of our American spirit, but of American laws.

As Judd said, these migrants did not come here illegally. They are following a legal process, the same legal process, by the way, Joy, that my parents and grandparents and countless number of Cubans and Nicaraguans and Venezuelans who came to this country under the promise of seeking sanctuary on the shores through the legal process of seeking asylum sought, which was also the Republican policy for the last 60 years, until now.

REID: Yes, absolutely. And that`s the problem. That`s the challenge, right?

And there are a lot of Venezuelans and Cubans and folks who came and did that and who are going to recognize themselves in these people who did, as you said, break no laws.

Fernand Amandi, Judd Legum.

But don`t take Fernand off the screen for just a moment, because I have to do this. We hate to do this to folks and embarrass them on TV, but it is my friend Fernand`s birthday.

So, I am going to wish you a very happy birthday and encourage everyone to go and continue to embarrass Fernand on Twitter by wishing him happy, happy birthday, my friend.

Got you. See, that`s why I didn`t text you about your birthday today, because I wanted to do it on TV. Thank you very much. Happy birthday.


AMANDI: Thank you, Joy.

REID: And thank you. Cheers.

And thanks, Judd Legum.

All right, coming up next: President Biden will address the U.N. General Assembly tomorrow at a time of unprecedented global concerns. So, what should we expect?

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield joins me to discuss that, the migration situation, and more.

Stay right there.



REID: Global history is replete with stories of people fleeing persecution and seeking a better life, the Israelites fleeing Egypt, Protestants fleeing religious persecution in Europe, creating new lives in North America, the Irish fleeing British neglect and famine, the Great Migration of black Americans from the South, Cubans fleeing Castro.

Immigrants have built the world and made it a better place. And that history continues to this day, with immigrants fleeing violence, famine and political instability in Central and South America, and Ukrainians fleeing targeted terror and ethnic cleansing.

Some of those heavy topics are top of mind. For hundreds of world leaders who are gathering this week for the United Nations General Assembly. The secretary-general opened the Assembly with a dire warning that those leaders may not be ready or willing to tackle big challenges.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: The divergence between developed and developing countries, between North and South, between the privileged and the rest is becoming more dangerous by the day.

It is at the root of geopolitical tensions and lack of trust that poison every area of global cooperation, from vaccines, to sanctions, to trade. International relations seem to be moving towards a G2 world. Now we risk ending up with a G-nothing, no corporation, no dialogue, no collective problem-solving.


REID: Also today, former President Bill Clinton spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about one of those key geopolitical conflicts, Russia`s invasion of a sovereign country.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Some people would like to remain on the sidelines, but, in this war, you cannot remain on the sidelines, because we have real occupation, real war of aggression Russia has waged against us.

And you definitely have to take sides.


REID: Joining me now is Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the culmination of a 34-year Foreign Service career. Her previous posts include U.S. ambassador to Liberia and deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, thank you so much for being here.

I want to start there with the...


REID: Thank you.

I want to start with the situation in Ukraine. So, Russia is threatening to hold these what can only called sham elections and begin to annex parts of the territory that they have invaded in Ukraine. The U.S. has said there will be consequences if they attempt to annex and take chunks of Ukraine and annex them.


What might those consequences be, do you think?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, the Russians know what those consequences will be.

They -- this is part of their playbook. They have done this before. They did it in 2014, and it was not accepted. And they know it will not be accepted again. They have been isolated in the international community. And this is a desperate action by a country that does not have confidence in itself.

We have imposed some very strong sanctions on the Russians in the past. I won`t preview what future sanctions or future actions might be, but they can be assured that we will take action should they move in this direction.

REID: You know, Russia has done everything from attempt to starve Ukraine, stealing their grain, disrupting the global food supply, threatening to turn off the gas in Europe, which probably should be getting off of Russian natural gas and oil anyway.

But they`re using these tactics that attempt to terrorize all of Europe, not just Ukraine, to say nothing of the clear war crimes that they have committed throughout Ukraine. The United Nations as a body still allows them and admits them. They`re still in the Security Council.

Does it in some way diminish that body for Russia to remain? And is there some way for them to no longer be a part of the Security Council?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Russia`s actions, their aggression against Ukraine has raised concerns and has raised issues and confidence about whether the U.N. is fit for purpose today.

But we have used the Security Council, we have used the General Assembly to isolate Russia, to condemn Russia, to kick Russia off of the Human Rights Council. They are a permanent member of the Security Council. That is something that we cannot change, but we will not continue to allow them to use that perch to terrorize the world with their actions.

So, what they can expect will happen this week in the Security Council is that they will continue to be isolated. It will not be business as usual for them. They will hear from the world. They will hear from the president of the United States at the podium of the General Assembly tomorrow a rebuke of their unprovoked actions against Ukraine.

REID: I want to talk a little bit about -- Russia has accused the U.S. of imperialism and saying that our criticisms of their attack on Ukraine is an example of that.

We are seeing the world kind of move in a direction to quit empire. We have just seen the burial of the queen of England. And you see a lot of nations in the commonwealth saying it`s time to release ourselves, to free ourselves.

Are we moving toward a world where these old empires will be defunct and we will see more liberation and more independence for these smaller countries, these Caribbean countries, these African countries, that want out?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, certainly, we`re seeing -- seeing that.

But what we`re seeing Russia do is go back to the days of empire, the Soviet Union. They`re trying to reestablish their empire, which is dead, it`s gone. And Ukraine is not theirs to take. It`s not theirs to have elections in. They have attacked a sovereign, independent country.

And what they are trying to do is recreate their historical empire. And that is not acceptable. And the world has said that to them.

REID: I want to ask you about something that`s happening in our country.

You did administer issues of refugees and resettlement in your previous role. And we`re now seeing states, governors of states inside the United States using legal asylum seekers as political pawns and shipping them around the country.

I wonder what the world makes of us, when we`re gathering in New York for the General Assembly, and sees, inside our country, governors doing things like that.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, it`s sad, and it`s unfortunate, and it`s embarrassing.

These are people, as you noted, who have fled persecution in their countries. They have come to the United States with hope and desires. And we`re a country of immigrants. We have always welcomed immigrants into this country. And to have them used as political pawns like this is totally unacceptable. And it is something that is not representative of what -- of the values that we believe in, in this country.


REID: Should we expect President Biden to make a statement about that when he addresses the Assembly tomorrow?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I don`t know that he will address that in the Assembly tomorrow, but he certainly has addressed it to the American people.

We saw a press conference that he gave earlier this week in which he expressed his concerns and his horror at what is happening to these people.

REID: U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, thank you very much. Really appreciate you being here.


REID: Thank you.

And coming up next: Dahlia Lithwick`s new book, "Lady Justice," celebrates women lawyers judges, and activists who took a stand against some of the Trump administration`s worst abuses, including the ongoing assault on reproductive rights.

And she joins me next.



REID: Senator Lindsey Graham is nothing if not completely inconsistent.

The same Senator Graham who said just last month that states should decide on abortion rights went on FOX News this morning to defend his proposal banning abortion nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): This is not a states` rights issue. I don`t care what California does on most things. I care here.

I am not going to sit on the sidelines in Washington, D.C., and tell the pro-life community Washington is closed for business.


REID: Now, of course, that is completely in line with his habit of ignoring previous statements or values when it`s politically convenient, since the man who once told Republicans in 2016 they would get destroyed, and deserve it, if they nominated Trump, went on to become one of the former president`s biggest supplicants.

But when it came to fighting back against Trumpism, it was women who took center stage, women like Sally Yates, who, as acting attorney general, refused to enforce Trump`s Muslim ban and warned the former president about his compromised National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and Stacey Abrams, who has relentlessly mobilized to register voters in the face of efforts by Republicans to undermine our democracy.

Those are just two of the extraordinary women featured in Dahlia Lithwick`s new book, "Lady Justice: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America."

She writes: "In a constitutional democracy, enduring power lies in the people who step into the fight. And, by that yardstick, the women who stood up to defend the Constitution in the Trump era and who remain in the fight for democracy and equality today held the line."

Dahlia Lithwick joins me now.

Dahlia, it`s great to talk with you. And I`m excited about your new book. I cannot wait to read it.

But you`re -- that quote that I just did, it speaks of the heroism of people who fought back against Trumpism. But you also tell the story of sort of heartbreak in this era and some of the things we lost.

I want to read another little quote from your book, and it says this. You talk about the last truly great day for women in 2016: "I sometimes think of the Supreme Court`s oral arguments in Whole Woman`s Health v. Hellerstedt on March 2, 2016, as the last truly great day for women and the legal system in America. It has become, at least for me, a marker of the end of history, but completely in the wrong direction."

You`re telling a story of female heroism here, but have women -- how much ground have women lost because of Trump?

DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR, SLATE.COM: It`s a great question, Joy. It`s kind of the question.

And, for me, part of the reason I started at that oral argument is because I was in the room, and I remember thinking, we are so close. We are -- we have three women on the court. At some point, the women were talking all over each other. Chief John Roberts tried to get them under control.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg just kind of gave him the hand and kept going. I mean, it was such a moment of women finally reaching something close to parity. The result in that case was everything that the reproductive rights and justice movement could have wanted, a piercing opinion by Justice Breyer, saying no more pretextual reasons to close clinics. From here on in, courts get to scrutinize why they`re doing what they`re doing.

And then, on a dime, everything changes, right? Within a few months, Donald Trump is the nominee. He`s naming people to the court that are explicitly promising to overturn Roe. And so I think, for me, that scene of the law being the thing that frees us and empowers us and gives us dignity and rights and equality, and then, within a second, being on the other side of that scene, where the law is being weaponized against women, where the book starts with Hellerstedt and ends with Dobbs, with women going to jail and Alabama, going to jail in Oklahoma for miscarrying, for endangering their pregnancies.

So, I think that that tension for women is so real, Joy, of the law as the thing that can both save us and the thing that can really harm us. And I think you`re right. It`s kind of an elegiac story, but it`s also a story of great heroism.

REID: Right.

I mean, you think about the fact that the Notorious RBG passing sort of opens the door for Trump to begin to take over the court. Now you have to have the -- this member of the now -- basically the minority in all of these decisions on women`s liberty and on progress criticizing the court itself, Elena Kagan, saying the court needs to act like a court to keep American`s faith, warning that the Supreme Court is damaged its legitimacy.

You have this question of legitimacy now, with women in the position of being the ones arguing for progress. Meanwhile, there is woman on the other side, arguing on the other side of that. And there`s another woman who`s not on the court. She`s the wife of the Supreme Court justice literally trying to overturn an election.


It does feel like there is a battle among women for what progress means for us.

LITHWICK: I think that`s right.

And I think that you can`t fail to miss that, on one side, Amy Coney Barrett represents, I think it`s fair to say, a very theology-inflected view of the law and the Constitution. And we certainly saw that in the Dobbs case, when her argument was, why not force women to bear children? They can just dump them off at a fire station and no harm, no foul.

That`s not a sort of women-first view or even a medically sound view. But I think the other part of what you`re saying is the part that kind of breaks my heart. Here we are a few days from the first Monday of October, and, for the first time in history, we`re going to have three women who are consistently in the dissenting side on a 6-3 supermajority, two of whom are women of color.

And what does it say that you have the two women of color who are going to spend, as best as I can tell, years and years and years writing the kinds of plaintiff dissents we have heard from Justice Sotomayor, writing the kinds of plaintiff dissents we have heard from Justice Kagan, as you say, not just crying out for the legitimacy of the institution or regard for the institution, but simply begging that the majority, the supermajority in this case, see women as autonomous, as viable, as worthy of dignity.

And the optics of that could not be more troubling in a time when the court`s approval ratings are in the 30s.

REID: Yes.

And you write about women like Sally Yates, who fought a valiant battle to keep the Trump administration from breaking the law, to be honest, of people like Stacey Abrams, who literally is running again against the person who, when he was secretary of state, made it his business to delete as many voters as possible to make it impossible for any Democrat to defeat him as governor.

It definitely feels like it`s an uphill climb. In your book, do you come out of it, in reading and writing about these heroic women, as hopeful that we can sort of survive as independent beings in a country that is, as you said, so theologically driven?

LITHWICK: I think it`s fair to say, Joy, that every single one of the women in this book at some point, whether it`s Anita Hill, or whether it`s Becca Heller, who fought the travel ban, goes through this process of saying, why am I in thrall to this system that has largely harmed women and people of color throughout history?

REID: Yes.

LITHWICK: I mean, it exists to, in some sense, do that.

And I think, at some point, each of them lands on the place that I land as well, which is, the rule of law is all we have. The law is imperfect, it is profoundly flawed. It was flawed from the beginning. But, in the end, it is the thing that does give us Brown v. Board. It does give us Obergefell. It does give us Roe v. Wade.

And if you believe that the arc of the moral universe really bends towards justice, than the system of justice is the only game in town, and we have to work to repair it.

REID: And to quote someone in ancient -- in ancient American history, if we can keep it.

Dahlia Lithwick, we truly appreciate you.

Cannot wait to read the book. It`s called "Lady Justice." It`s out today. So, check it out and grab your copy.

Thank you very much, Dahlia.

And up next: It is National Voter Registration Day. Come on, fam. Are you registered to vote? Because you should be. You should be registered to vote. Get all your friends and family registered to vote. We`re going to help you -- right after this.




KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In our democracy, your vote is one of your most powerful tools for driving change.

So, given that today is National Voter Registration Day, please make sure that you each are registered to vote -- there is a Web site, -- because there is an important election happening in 49 days. Your vote is your voice. And we need your voice.


REID: Yes, as the vice president said, today is National Voter Registration Day, ahead of an extremely important midterm election, one that could decide the future of our democracy.

As we saw in the overwhelming vote in favor of abortion rights last month in Kansas, your vote does actually make a difference. Today, activists across the country are pushing the importance of voter registration, including these organizers in Milwaukee.


TOMIKA VUKOVIC, WISCONSIN VOICES: We really need to stand up, take notice, make sure that we are heard and make sure our voices are heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Makes sure everybody you know votes.

SONALI KNOTEK, RACINE COALITION FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE: Please register to vote. And then November 8 is a very important day. Please mark it on the calendar. Have a plan. Please vote.


REID: And just as important as registering to vote is showing up to vote and making sure that you vote the entire ballot, governor, secretary of state, school board, everything.

Your secretary of state vote could decide whether the next election is run fairly or if election fraudits become the norm. And your vote for school board could make the difference between whether your children are taught real history with diverse perspectives or a harmful, whitewashed version predicated on fear and lies.

And if you`re not exactly sure where to start, NBC has a Web site for you. It`s called Plan Your Vote, with a state-by-state guide to registration deadlines, voting rules and mail-in and in person voting. It`s at And, very importantly, it is available both in English and in Spanish. So, you have no excuse. Do it.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.