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Transcript: The ReidOut, 9/22/22

Guests: Adam Serwer, David Plouffe, Javed Ali


Judge Aileen Cannon receives a rebuke from a panel of appeals court judges in the Mar-a-Lago case. New York`s attorney general exposes Trump`s most sensitive insecurity. The actions of Ron DeSantis regarding immigrants are examined. The January 6 Committee confirms the date of what may be their final hearing. Which way are Latinos, the fastest growing voting bloc in the country, trending in elections?




ANDREW WEISSMANN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: This is what I call the "Bewitched" defense, that he somehow can sort of magically transform documents into unclassified documents.


OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICIAL: And if that`s the case, well, then, anybody could just magically wave a wand and, poof, reclassify, then. I mean, this whole thing is just so insane to hear a former president of our country say this out loud.


REID: Trump defense of the indefensible is getting more absurd by the day, and now his handpicked judge has received an embarrassing rebuke from a panel of appeals court judges.

Also tonight, New York`s attorney general exposes Trump`s most sensitive insecurity, the fact that he`s not nearly as rich as he claims to be, something my guest Tim O`Brien forced Trump to admit in court a decade ago.

And the performative sadism of Ron DeSantis. As The Daily Beast describes it, few other politicians seem to get as much glee out of seeing other people get hurt.

We begin tonight with a simple rule of legal professionals. In most cases, whenever possible, keep your clients off TV and avoid letting them do interviews, which usually do more harm than good.

Unfortunately for Donald Trump`s lawyers, their needy, attention-craving client could only hold out for so long.

And so, last night, on one of his favorite shows in an interview with his friend Sean Hannity, he seemed to make a losing argument even worse. In his latest "throw spaghetti at the wall" defense or is it "throw ketchup at the wall," Trump made this outrageous claim about his magical powers to declassify documents.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you`re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying, I`m -- it`s declassified, even by thinking about it, because you`re sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you`re sending it.

And there doesn`t have to be a process.

There can be a process, but there doesn`t have to be. You`re the president. You make that decision. So, when you send it, it`s declassified. We -- I declassified everything.


REID: Of course, moments earlier, Trump again implied that the FBI may have actually planted those very documents that he supposedly declassified.

Unfortunately for Trump, we are not all living in an episode of "Bewitched," and he cannot just wiggle his nose and expect classified material to miraculously become unclassified.

And even if he could, that would also mean the material he knowingly declassified including what has been reported as info about a foreign nation`s nuclear capabilities. And beyond all of that absurdity, Trump appeared to indicate that he intentionally sent those documents to Mar-a- Lago and perhaps to other places that we don`t yet know about.

So much for it all just being one big accident. Now, none of this actually helps Trump`s legal team, which is also dealing with the news last night of a much-needed course correction from our judicial branch. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals cleaned up the mess created by the Trump-appointed district judge, who ruled that Trump apparently had a potential right to the classified documents that he stole from the White House when he left office.

In a total repudiation of Judge Aileen Cannon`s ruling, a three-judge panel, two of whom were appointed by Trump, sided with the Department of Justice, allowing it to resume using the more than 100 documents in its criminal investigation and removing them from the special master`s review.

Counter to what Judge Cannon said in her ruling, the court of appeals wrote: "For our part, we cannot discern why plaintiff would have an individual interest in or need for any of the 100 documents with classification markings."

And to Trump`s repeated claims that he just declassified everything magically like "I Dream of Jeannie," the court of appeals writes that that argument is irrelevant -- quote -- "In any event, at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a red herring, because declassifying an official document would not change its content or render it personal."

As a result of the decision by the appeals court, Judge Cannon has already revised her initial order for the special master, removing any references to the classified material that was seized from Mar-a-Lago.

Joining me now is Javed Ali, former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council and associate professor at the University of Michigan`s Ford School of Public Policy, and Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney and professor at the University of Michigan Law School.

Thank you both for being here.

Barbara, I`m going to start with you.

It feels like order has been restored and the judiciary`s dignity has been restored. I sat and read this 11th Circuit court ruling, and it read to me like: You`re an idiot, you`re an idiot, and you`re an idiot, and what?

I mean, it read to me like a rebuke. How did you read it?


It was such a good day for the rule of law. And I know sometimes people are very cynical about the idea that there are Trump-appointed judges on this panel, but they follow ed the law. They described it, and they really he shot down the opinion written by Judge Cannon in the district court.


And, as you said, to me, the most important line in the whole thing is, this idea of declassification is just a red herring. It doesn`t matter...

REID: Yes.

MCQUADE: ... that Donald Trump, if he did, declassified these documents, because it doesn`t change the content, and it does not transform them into personal records.

And so, sometimes, when something is so far afield, it`s difficult to know even where to begin.

REID: Yes.

MCQUADE: But they very methodically walk through all of the mistakes made in Judge Cannon`s order and restore order and restore some faith in the rule of law.

REID: Well, I mean, and the thing is, I feel like their ruling, because you, yourself, other lawyers that we have had on the show all were saying the same thing.

No one disagreed, except for one guest that we had on who seemed like he kind of wanted to be the special master, in a way, that he doesn`t own these documents, that you can`t say that you have some sort of possessory interest in something that isn`t yours. That just seemed like not even law school 101.

And so, when you look at what this 11th Circuit did, how do you then think about this judge? Because there`s no grounding in what she did. Is what she did somehow corrupt, in your view?

MCQUADE: I don`t know. I don`t want to call her corrupt.

I like to assume good faith when the judge makes a decision. But it was so profoundly wrong. The idea that a special master may be appropriate to review attorney-client privilege, in the case of a non-lawyer, would have been a stretch. But, in this case, fine. It`s harmless enough.

That she extended it to executive privilege seemed wrong, when it`s the very executive branch itself that wants these documents.

REID: Yes.

MCQUADE: But the part that was entirely over the top was dismissing the government`s assertion that these documents were classified, that they were government records, that they belonged to the United States. And even under the Presidential Records Act, it is the U.S. government that owns them, even if the president is permitted to access them upon request.

And so everything about it was wrong to varying degrees. And so I don`t know if she was just working very hard to, in a case of significant public opinion, bend over backwards to show every courtesy to a president. She did say that she considered his status as a former president to be significant.

But, of course, in this country, we`re supposed to consider every litigant to be equal before the law.

REID: Exactly. Exactly.

Javed Ali, let me bring you in here. Let me play something else that Donald Trump said. I mean, everything he said in this interview with Sean Hannity seemed really ill-advised. I will just use that term.

Here he is attacking the National Archives, which is like the library.

Go ahead.


TRUMP: And we were having a lot of problems with NARA. NARA is a radical left group of people running that thing. And when you send documents over there, I would say there`s a very good chance that a lot of those documents will never be seen again.


REID: They will never be seen again by you, man. They`re in the National Archives.

This is what Andrew Weissmann said: "Trump`s after-the-fact, baseless denigrating NARA as a left-wing political organization is actually just an admission that he intentionally did not return the stolen docs to NARA. It`s not a legal defense at all."

What do you make of the fact that he openly admitted on TV that, yes, I took the documents? Because you can`t trust them. They`re the liberal NARA.

JAVED ALI, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Joy, great to be with him, and great to be with my colleague Barb from the University of Michigan.

To get to these questions, I think it`s just another example of President Trump sort of reaching in different moments of time for different strategies that may sort of try to throw the trail off of his potential culpability here.

And so attacking NARA, suggesting that these other kinds of schemes are in place, it just seems to be part of the playbook. And going back to some of the earlier points that you raised in the beginning of the clip about the classification process, the president, even though he has or they have broad powers under Article 2 as commander in chief, cannot magically declassify anything on a whim.

It has to go through a formal process. And, as a former intelligence officer, I know it`s very deliberate, it`s very methodical. The intelligence community has to take a step back and look at the potential risks to intelligence sources, methods and any mitigation plan to restore lost collection once you declassify something.

So none of that happened in this case. And, again, this claim that he just thought about declassifying something and it thereby made these super- sensitive documents automatically declassified just doesn`t hold any water.

REID: Well, I think, therefore, it`s declassified.

I mean, if that were the case, any president`s thoughts could become incredibly dangerous. As you said, these things are classified for a reason. They`re protecting national security. Some country`s nuclear secrets apparently are in these documents.

So just talk about how the intelligence community now can move forward. I mean, Donald Trump is accusing the FBI of planting the documents in his house. First, he said he took them. Then he said, well, no, they were planted by the FBI.

Judge Dearie said, OK, prove it. He gave them a deadline. He`s like, bring me back evidence that somebody planted something there that wasn`t already there.


And so every one of his claims is being knocked down. But just talk about the importance for the investigation and for the national security of this country that now the government can re-access these documents.

ALI: Well, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, according to media reporting, is conducting a damage assessment based on the declassified documents that were recovered at Mar-a-Lago.

And those are only the ones that we know of. We don`t know what`s missing, but the ones that were recovered, really digging into those and seeing how -- how sensitive the sources and methods revealed in these different documents -- and I have to assume these were intelligence assessments -- not individual reports of a particular type of intelligence.

But, even collectively, there`s a lot of intelligence material to sift through. And now it`s a question of, again, who had access to what? Has potentially any of those -- or any of those assessments, could they have -- now be in the possession of somebody else? Or did someone remember details and shared it with someone who didn`t have a security clearance?

And where it goes from there could be a game of telephone. So this is going to take a while for -- just even on the intelligence side -- forget about the law enforcement criminal side that Barbara is more familiar with -- to figure out the damage that potentially could have been done.

And, again, to -- if collection has been lost on certain topics, how do we get that back? And that, sometimes, you may not get collection back once you lose it and something becomes declassified. So this is going to be an ongoing challenge for the intelligence community.

REID: Well, let me ask you both.

I`m going to start with you, Javed Ali, and then I will give Barbara McQuade the last word on this.

Given the fact that Donald Trump asserted, essentially, these are mine, and I want them, and also that his lawyers, they wanted to see them again, and they seem to have this sort of -- sort of possessiveness toward them, would that prompt you, as an investigator and a national security professional, to want to, I don`t know, search his other properties to see if he`s got more?

ALI: Well, I think that`s potentially in play here, because, even in the Mar-a-Lago case, if folks remember, beyond what was recovered, there were apparently other blank folders labeled classified. Whether they had cover sheets on them, it`s not clear to me. But there may have been additional classified information, and, again, probably intelligence assessments in those folders.

And where are those? And who had access to them? And what did they contain? And these are all questions we don`t know on the missing -- potentially missing material.

REID: Absolutely.

And, Barbara, given the fact that you now have sort of two kinds of -- sort of chunks of types of judges -- you had one judge who was very solicitous. I will just say that, was just solicitous of Donald Trump`s claims that he could theoretically go back to again if, let`s say, Bedminster was searched. But you also have the 11th Circuit saying, no, no, no, these belong to the government, and they are the ones who have the interest in them.

What do you think would be the hurdles, theoretically, if the DOJ were to say, you know what, now we do want to search other properties? Do -- could Trump play the same game again, and go back to the same Judge Cannon and do this dance again?

MCQUADE: Well, if they looked in Bedminster, you have -- you are then under the jurisdiction of a judge in that district, so district of New Jersey, if we`re talking about Bedminster.

To get in the door there, they would need to be able to establish -- DOJ would -- probable cause not only that a crime has been committed, which I think they have now established, but also probable cause to believe that the documents would be stored at that location.

And so I can imagine that part of the damage assessment and the criminal investigation is to investigate, what happened to these documents in the missing folders and to interview people who work at Bedminster to find out if they have seen any evidence of this, because, if they can get a witness to say, oh, yes, I saw some boxes come in the door, that could be enough probable cause to then get a search warrant for that location.

Now, if Trump wanted to challenge that, he would have to do it in New Jersey...

REID: Right.

MCQUADE: ... and begin his judge-shopping all over again.

REID: Or, if you`re -- if they want to talk about Trump Tower, where he -- in the grill, there`s these documents. It`s like, what is this?

MCQUADE: In New York.

REID: So, yes, it would be -- it would be wherever, whatever jurisdiction. So, Cannon can`t control it all. Interesting.

Thank you both very much, Javed Ali, Barbara McQuade. Appreciate you both.

Up next on THE REIDOUT: In his business dealings, Trump has gotten away with lying and cheating for so long, he thinks it`s his God-given right. But now it`s all out on the table. And he`s in big trouble.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.




SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.



REID: Remember that, when newly minted Press Secretary Sean Spicer presented that whopper the day after the former president`s inauguration?

You would be forgiven for thinking it seemed ridiculous. Well, because it was, but only if you were not familiar with his then-boss, since Donald Trump`s entire existence has been one giant hyper-exaggeration, especially, especially when it comes to his supposed wealth.


TRUMP: I built something that`s recognized even today, in negative times, as being immense and potentially extremely valuable.

QUESTION: You would put up $600 million for this?

TRUMP: Absolutely, assuming I`m doing well.

QUESTION: Do you have $600 million to spare?

TRUMP: I have much more than that.

Part of the beauty of me is that I`m very rich.

Because I don`t need anybody`s money. It`s nice. I don`t need anybody`s money. I don`t care. I`m really rich.

And then they had, oh, but he will never put in his financials, because maybe he`s not as rich as people think. But then it turned out I was much richer. Now they don`t know what -- they really screwed up. Much richer.



I did too well. I made too much and I did too well. And that`s the way it is. So I can`t be bought.



REID: Well, in the midst of all of that, in 2005, author Tim O`Brien wrote his book "TrumpNation," that Trump actually wasn`t a billionaire, as he had claimed to be.

And people he`d spoken to estimated Trump`s net worth at between $150 million and $250 million, still a lot of money, but not a billion. Habitual fabulous Donald Trump then made the colossally dumb decision to sue O`Brien. Trump, of course, lost, but, in the process, made O`Brien one of the few people to see Trump challenged on his lies under oath, more than 30 times, in fact, in a December 2007 deposition.

Tim O`Brien joins me now. He`s senior executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion and an MSNBC political analyst.

We have talked about this so many times over the years, Tim. I am so glad to get a chance to talk to you again about it today. I mean, the thing about Donald Trump is, he`s always lied

And being -- claiming to be a billionaire and fronting as a billionaire, it was like fundamental to his brand. It`s why he got "The Apprentice." Mark Burnett, they sold this complete B.S., and people bought it, including the media.

TIM O`BRIEN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, and the idea also that he was self-made.

Donald Trump is a guy who was born on third base and had spent his life telling people he hit a triple. He would not have been able to enter the Manhattan real estate market without his father`s money, Joy. His father bailed him out repeatedly when he made numerous different mistakes, taking on debt, not running businesses properly, et cetera, et cetera.

And one of the interesting things in my book is, the pages that discuss his net worth are only two to three pages of a much longer book. And that`s what he zeroed in on. And I think the reason he zeroed in on it is because he is so wildly insecure about who he is and what he`s done that he constantly needs to bloviate.

And, by the way, it`s not just his wealth. He talks about his intellect.

REID: Yes.

O`BRIEN: He talks about how attractive he is to women. He talks about his physicality. He talks about his money.

There is nothing about his identity that he`s not insecure about. But he sees money as a scorecard.

REID: Yes.

O`BRIEN: And the reality is, he was never the biggest real estate developer in Manhattan. He is not a self-made man.

And at the time I was writing the book, he was telling me he was worth anywhere from $3 billion to $9 billion. Sometimes, those valuations differed in the same day when I spent time with him. And I think the fact that he decided to sue me over it is a reflection of how aware he is that his lies reside very close to the surface.

And, of course, the difference when I wrote the book was, I was not a prosecutor. And now, though, that same grade inflation that he indulged in is the subject of an indictment.

REID: I mean, it`s all coming apart.

And the thing that`s so ironic -- and we have talked about this in the past. If he had not run for president...


REID: ... he probably would have continued to get away with it. I mean, Cy Vance, the former Manhattan DA, had no intention of ever touching him, clearly, didn`t do anything. He was there forever.

He`s gotten away with this forever. The closest he ever got to being to a billion was losing $900 million, like going in the whole almost a billion.


REID: That`s the closest he ever got to it.

Let me read a little bit from the 2007 deposition.

Lawyer: "Mr. Trump, have you always been completely truthful in your public statements about your net worth of properties?"

Trump: "I try."

Lawyer: "Have you ever not been truthful?"

Trump: "My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with my attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings. But I try."


REID: His net worth is based on his feelings, Tim?


O`BRIEN: Yes. Yes, the translation -- the translation of that is: I make it up.

REID: Yes.

O`BRIEN: At another point in that same deposition, Joy, we were asking about how he figured out the value of some of his various golf courses.

And he acknowledged, he said that he didn`t -- he didn`t keep just standard profit and loss statements that would help him figure out how profitable the golf courses were. Whether or not that was true, he said it in the deposition. And so my lawyer said, well, then how do you calculate the value of the golf courses? And he said: I use mental projection.


O`BRIEN: And Donald Trump`s entire life is about mental projection.

REID: Yes, and the power of positive thinking.

And he passed it onto his sons. I mean, it was his own son, the second failson, the younger one, who told us, oh, no, no, we don`t need loans. We get all our money from Russia.

O`BRIEN: Right.

REID: And then they`re shocked that people are like, you get your money from Russia, and wanted to investigate it.

I mean, let`s go through -- let`s go through one more. I want to read one more.

O`BRIEN: And, by the way, that`s Eric.

REID: Eric.

O`BRIEN: That`s Eric Trump who said that. And Eric is the same individual who took the Fifth, I think, over 500 times during his deposition with Letitia James` prosecutors.

REID: Yes.

O`BRIEN: That`s going to be tested in court now.

REID: Exactly.

Here`s another from the deposition.

"Have you ever lied in public statements about your properties?"


"You always, when you`re making a public statement, you want to put the most positive. You want to say at the most positive way possible. I`m no different from a politician running for office. You want to put the best foot forward."

But, Tim, he said that his old 1980s era 11,000-square-foot triplex in Trump Tower was 30,000 square feet and worth like $300 million.

O`BRIEN: He also...

REID: That isn`t just lying. It`s madness.

Go ahead.

O`BRIEN: Well, it`s pathologic.

He also added invisible floors to Trump Tower to increase the height of the building.


O`BRIEN: He lied about what he was paid in speaking fees. He lied about the amount of money he got for condominiums when he sold them. He`s lied about his grades. He`s lied about his academic record.

REID: Yes.

O`BRIEN: I think the issue for Tish James is convincing a jury that he so successfully duped his lenders that a crime was committed. That`s a high hurdle.

REID: Yes.

O`BRIEN: I think it`s a civil case. And I think -- I think she`s got a lot of wind at her back.

But that gap between exaggeration, bloviation and lying and committing a crime is the test of this whole thing.

REID: Yes. It absolutely is. It`s going to be fascinating to watch, because, yes, if it becomes criminal, it`s a higher burden of proof too. So, we shall see what happens.

Tim O`Brien, always a pleasure. Thank you, my friend. Appreciate you.

O`BRIEN: Thank you, Joy.

REID: Cheers. All right, good night.

And coming next: The January 6 Committee confirms the date of what may be, may be their final hearing and that they will be talking with Ginni Thomas about her own attempts to overturn the election.

We will be right back.




REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): We had real hearings, and 25, 30 million Americans watching because we told the truth about Donald Trump`s assault on democratic institutions and the right to vote in America.

And maybe you can`t handle the truth, but that`s the reality. And nobody`s laid a glove on any of the testimony that has come out during those hearings.


REID: Next week, that January 6 Committee is set to hold its final hearing.

Republicans, with the exception of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, have refused to engage in the investigation, choosing instead to further the big lie.

Well, yesterday, one of those conservative activists and election deniers, Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, agreed to meet with the committee to discuss her role in promoting the overturning of the 2020 election.

This is Thomas texting with Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about rejecting the results and e-mailed lawmakers in both Arizona and Wisconsin, urging them to overturn the results weeks after Joe Biden was elected president.

While Thomas has -- was scheduling her meeting with the committee, the House passed a bill that would prevent people like Ginni Thomas from launching another coup. The bill, introduced by California Democrat Zoe Lofgren and Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney, would reform the Electoral College Act -- or the Electoral Count Act by clarifying ambiguous language which Trump and his allies exploited.

The bill makes it crystal clear that, despite what Trump might say, the vice president does not have the power to reject the will of the people. The Senate is working on its own version.

Now, tellingly, 203 Republicans, the majority of their House caucus, rejected the legislation. In so doing, they refused to put a stop to any future January 6, a violent stain on American democracy.

Officer Eugene Goodman, an Army veteran seen here luring rioters away from the Senate chambers, likely saving lawmakers` lives in the process, testified on Wednesday at the trial of one of the men who led the mob that he faced down.

What he told jurors and what Republicans want to ignore is that what happened on that day was purely medieval. And, this afternoon, the Secret Service agent who was the January 6 site agent for then-Vice President Mike Pence, testified at that same trial. And she was asked by the government if, in her 13 years of service, had she ever, ever had protectees come this close to danger? And she said no.

Joining me now is David Plouffe, MSNBC political analyst and a former Obama White House senior adviser.

And there`s so much to talk to you about, David. Thank you for being here. But I want to start with Ginni Thomas, because it is unprecedented for us to even know the name of the spouse of a Supreme Court justice. I don`t think I could name any of their spouses. But she`s become quite famous, quite infamous, for participating in encouraging a coup.

This is what she did. Virginia Thomas, Ginni Thomas, urged the White House chief of staff to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the election. According to texts, she urged lawmakers to overturn the election losses in Wisconsin and in Arizona. She was involved.

What do you expect to come of her conversations? What do you think might come of her conversations with the committee?

DAVID PLOUFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Joy, I think we -- most of us anyway, wish that this was going to be televised and all of America can see it.

But I think we should be careful about questioning the January 6 Committee. They have really delivered the goods. They have done a tremendous job. They got a lot of criticism beginning. And they told an amazing story. So these are unprecedented times, except that we`re reminded that we repeat history all the time.

I`m actually watching the new Ken Burns documentary "America and the Holocaust" on PBS. And there`s this line in the first episode where the narrator says, most of the conservative politicians who enabled Hitler to rise to the leader of Germany didn`t believe in everything he believed in and thought they could control him, but they all believed that it was time for democracy to end.


And whether it`s Ginni Thomas, unfortunately, probably her husband -- you see all those members of the House who didn`t vote to protect the election from another coup in 2024 -- that seems to be the central organizing principle of one of America`s two political parties, is they would just be fine, some of them, with democracy dying.

Many of them see it as -- what they really want, in my view, is to be accountable to the law, to the courts, to the voters, to the press.

REID: Yes.

PLOUFFE: And it`s scary.

So I hope what comes out of this hearing is, the committee learns more about her role, the messages. We know the messages she sent, text and e- mail. I`m sure there`s a lot more. And that will give us a bigger picture. Because this was all a conspiracy.

This wasn`t independent actors acting on their own. And they were organized. And their cheerleader was sitting behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.

REID: Right.

And the thing is, what brings it all together and what is really frightening -- and I agree with you -- is that you had this because they didn`t like the fact that their candidate didn`t win this one election. They don`t question their own elections in that same race, right, if they`re in the House.

But they didn`t like the results of that. But then, in the states, what you`re seeing the same party doing is saying, we want to strip women of their rights over their own bodies, but then we want to make it so hard to vote that you can`t punish us for it.

So, you`re right. They want to be able to be unaccountable and to be in permanent power, and to stay in power and do to women, people of color, immigrants whatever they want, with no accountability. And it scares me that so many Americans are OK with that.

PLOUFFE: Well, Joy, I think, because a lot of Americans think it`s episodic. Well, they were just having to defend Trump, but when he`s off the stage, if he ever gets off the stage, they will be more sensible, or they really won`t go through with it.

It`s scary to stare it in the face and understand how close we are to losing our democracy. But you only have to look around the country at who Republicans have nominated, yes, in many governor`s races, in many Senate races, but how about secretary of state`s races.

The people who run elections in major battleground states, the Republican nominees are saying they think the last election was invalid, so that they can position themselves to ensure that their candidate never loses.

So, your point about permanent powers the important one. This isn`t episodic. This isn`t an interregnum in the early 2020s of American history. This is a desire. It`s organized. It`s planned. It`s thought out. And I think it`s going to be persistent to make sure that they never lose elections again that they care about. So they have to be defeated at the ballot box, and soundly.

REID: Absolutely.

I think about this Electoral Count Act reform. Only nine Republicans felt comfortable voting for it in the House. And they`re all lame-ducks. And then, in the Senate, you have I think, 10 of them that are now on board, but they`re also on the lame-duck side of the -- and here`s the other thing. It`s not even clear that the Senate version of this bill would fix it, because it would -- Marc Elias has raised concerns that it would codify the idea that the governor would be the final arbiter of whose state slates of electors get counted in -- by the House.

Well, what is the governor is Kari Lake?

PLOUFFE: Exactly, yes.


REID: What if it`s Doug Mastriano? I mean, that doesn`t help.

PLOUFFE: Well, we -- right. We know the answer to that.

Well, no one knows election law better than Marc Elias, and nobody can interpret the -- what could happen with these laws. So I think the intention in the Senate is positive. So we should applaud those 10 Republican senators. We should applause the nine Republican House members, no matter how small the number is.

But that tells you that almost every House Republican and at least 80 percent, or close to that, of Senate Republicans -- and I would argue most governors around the country, most elected officials -- they do not want to protect the election from a wannabe dictator and autocrat.

So those numbers are so startling. And that`s why, hopefully, the House and Senate can reconcile those, so something gets passed, in your point, most importantly, something that will protect our country, because, listen, there`s no question.

We don`t know what 2024 holds, but most of our presidential elections in the last couple generations are close. We should assume the next one is going to be close. Anything that`s not a historical landslide blowout is ripe for malfeasance. And that`s why something being passed out of Congress is important, but it`s actually got to fix the problem.

REID: I mean, the thing is, if there was just a Ginni Thomas, that would be one thing, but it`s like 90 percent of them are Ginni Thomas, I mean, the conspiracy theories, the lack of belief in elections, and the fact that we are now actually having to talk about fascism in America.

You`re watching that PBS special, but we`re dealing with fascism, open fascism in some cases, right now in 2022. It scares me a lot.

And how hopeful are you that we can beat this back?


PLOUFFE: Well, I`m hopeful because I believe in people. I believe in young people. I believe in the promise of this country.

But I think this is a 60/40 proposition, maybe, if you`re an optimist, because you look who they nominated. Up and down the ballot all across the country, they`re election deniers. And, again, it`s not just they`re saying, we think Trump won because we have to say that. They`re now saying, going forward, they`re going to make it, of course, harder to vote.

REID: Yes.

PLOUFFE: But they want to set up systems so they decide who wins.

So we have to make sure that we have as good a election as we can in `22. That is the precursor for `24.

REID: Yes.

PLOUFFE: I mean, so what I`d say, Joy, is mid-November of 2024, if we`re still a democracy, and we`re a democracy on January 2020, `25, I think we have made it through the worst.

REID: Yes.

PLOUFFE: But I think that`s very much an open question.

And that`s a scary thing to say in America.

REID: Yes.

PLOUFFE: I mean, you look at that Trump rally over the weekend, where the hands raised...

REID: Yes.

PLOUFFE: ... and that is as scary a sight as we have seen in American history.

REID: And I`m telling you guys -- I am telling you guys that David Plouffe is one of the most sober, serious, non-hysterical people. And if he`s saying this, take it very seriously. I`m serious.

This is not Joy saying this. David Plouffe would not be saying this if it were not 100 percent, absolutely dead serious. Take it seriously.

David Plouffe, thank you very much. I do appreciate you.

Up next -- scary stuff. We say scaring is caring over here.

Speaking of fascistic forces, the politics of cruelty featuring the right- wing`s new favorite performative sadist, Governor Ronald "Don" DeSantis. But how his cruelty is colliding -- but now his cruelty is colliding head on with America`s sense of basic human decency, which still exists here.

We`re back after this.



REID: Migrants who were shipped like cargo from Texas to Martha`s Vineyard in an inhumane stunt by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are now suing him, alleging they were victims of fraud for political purposes.

The lawsuit alleges that the Venezuelan asylum seekers experienced cruelty, akin to what they fled in their home country, cruelty.

It`s a word we hear a lot these days about the Republican Party. And, in the case of Ron DeSantis, the cruelty gets uglier by the day. New reporting by "The Miami Herald" shows that operatives linked to DeSantis approached asylum seekers in San Antonio, Texas, promising a flight to Delaware the next day at 5:00 a.m., where there would be work.

But the next morning, there was no flight, leaving the migrants stranded. No reason was given. It`s another scene in what David Lurie calls the performative sadism of Ron DeSantis, for whom cruelty and humiliation have been central to his governance and political rise, all for the purpose of owning the libs, to prove that he`s just as xenophobic, fascism-curious and hateful as Donald Trump, maybe even more so, cruel, sadistic, and possibly criminal, descriptors that no longer hinder Republican leaders, but in fact elevate them.

Because, as the great Adam Serwer once wrote of Trump`s America, the cruelty is the point.

Joining me now is Adam Serwer, staff writer for "The Atlantic" and author of "The Cruelty Is the Point: Why Trump`s America Endures," which is now out on paperback.

Adam, it`s really great to talk with you.

And I remind my team often when we talk about Ron DeSantis is that he came from the Tea Party, right? And what we remember about the Tea Party were the ugly rallies, the monkey dolls, the name-calling, the hanging Barack Obama in effigy, but also flinging money down on a Parkinson`s patient in the street and being like, I will start a pot, calling him a communist because he was on the street, literally, physically, and spitting on black members of Congress as they walked into the Capitol to sign a health care bill to give people health care.

So I think, when people divorce -- people have divorced him from that movie, but that`s where he came from. What do you make of his cruelty politics?

ADAM SERWER, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, I mean, one of the reasons I wrote this book was to illustrate how, throughout American history, cruelty has helped draw a line between the people who are deserving of love and respect and those deserving of contempt and violence.

And so, if you`re an ambitious Republican right now, the way to win a primary, the way to win office is to be seen being ritualistically cruel to one of these communities that conservatives are fixated on, and have that covered by FOX News, who will rave about what a true conservative you are. And that shows your commitment to them, in a way.

This -- when you are cruel to people who are outside of the community, who they believe are not deserving of respect, that shows your commitment to their community. And so, in this paradoxical way, they see these sort of sadistic actions -- even if you think liberals are hypocritical on immigration, we`re talking about real people who are being exploited for this stunt.

Even if you want to call out that hypocrisy in some way, you don`t treat human beings this way to do it. And the reason why that`s acceptable is because it is seen as sort of a kind of -- an act of commitment towards the community that he feels like he represents, which does not include -- which does not include people who disagree with him on politics.

REID: Right.

Well, I mean, yelling at kids because they have masks on to protect themselves, suing cruise lines because they would dare to try to stop COVID from getting on the ships with the passengers, I mean, the things that he does don`t have, like, policy priorities.

They definitely, to me, feel more like sort of 1960s era whipping up the -- a mob at the University of Mississippi because James Meredith was coming, and then cheering it on as four people are killed in that mob, right?


I mean, it does feel like he`s that kind of retro-politician. My question is, what does it say about our country that that`s so effective?

SERWER: I mean, I think it says that we have a system that is kind of majoritarian, and it rewards a specific coalition that is ideally geographically distributed to exploit the Electoral -- to win the Electoral College or to control the Senate.

And, because of that, it is very important for the party that represents this coalition to make sure that they always feel like they are on the verge of apocalypse, that they`re being threatened by these people who are different from them.

And when you`re in that kind of situation, you think your back to the wall -- you think your back is to the wall, you think that the apocalypse is nigh, then you are willing to do crazy things or cruel things because you`re thinking, well, I`m doing this to defend myself. This is for my survival. I`m trying to save the country.

And that gives you license. That gives you license to be cruel in this particular way. And I think that`s why, when you see these -- Donald Trump or DeSantis giving these sort of outlandish speeches, where, like, the liberals are doing this and the liberals are doing that, and it`s some sort of crazy, insane conspiracy, the point is to make these people afraid, so that they are willing to justify cruel acts towards people that they see as threatening them, even if all those people want to do is come to this country and try to have a better life.

REID: No, I mean, you write about this and you talk about this, the fact that, I mean, lynchings were like a party, right? You know what I mean?

And it was the act of being cruel together. It wasn`t just doing the violence, but it was the license to do violence and the license to do violence together. So, there is this horrible American tradition of this. And I just wonder if there`s a way that -- there`s a counterpolitics that somehow mitigates it?

SERWER: Well, I think it`s not just American politics.

It`s really human nature. Like, it goes back to -- it`s that sort of primal thing when you`re a kid and you tease the one kid who doesn`t fit...

REID: Yes.

SERWER: ... in order to show that you fit in with everybody else. It`s like, it`s that quality, that human nature quality elevated to the level of politics.

REID: Yes, absolutely.

SERWER: And, in the past, what has defeated it is a willingness to engage in solidarity with people who are different from you.

REID: Yes.

SERWER: And maybe, if the American political system was a little different, and the Republican Party could not win power with this sort of minority -- minoritarian coalition, rather, then...

REID: Yes.

SERWER: ... they would be forced to reach outside of their base in a way that would not make it possible...

REID: Yes.

SERWER: ... to simply demonize...

REID: Right.

SERWER: ... out groups.

REID: Yes.

SERWER: When you look at the Democratic Party, it`s not simply that liberals are more virtuous. You have to figure out a way to link hipsters in Brooklyn to church grandmas in South Carolina.

REID: Right.

SERWER: And when you have to do that, you can`t -- you have to be willing to work through your differences.

REID: Yes.

SERWER: It`s not just about demonizing people who are different.

REID: Absolutely.

Adam Serwer, always a pleasure man. Thank you very much.

"The Cruelty Is the Point." It`s on paperback right now.

We will be right back.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight out of 10 times, if a Latino is being outreached through the church, more than likely, they believe in some of the conservative platforms, so it`s much easier for them to get out and vote Republican.

So, if Republicans don`t start strategizing with Latino pastors in churches, like the Democrats have done for years with the black church, there will be no victory for conservative candidates across the country.


REID: Latinos are the fastest growing voting bloc in the U.S. And in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, an increasing number are voting Republican.

Tomorrow night, a new episode of MSNBC`s "FIELD REPORT WITH PAOLA RAMOS" will dig into what is behind that shift.

And joining me now is Paola Ramos, MSNBC contributor and host of "FIELD REPORT."

Excited to watch, Paola. What are we going to learn?

PAOLA RAMOS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You`re going to learn what you just heard, that one of the things that Republicans have found out is that, if they go into Latino evangelical churches and then mobilize them, and they politicize them, you can actually get the result that they saw in the special election, which is, for the first time in over 100 years, there`s a Republican that is representing Hidalgo County, and that is historic.

So, you will understand the new strategy. You will understand the message that`s resonating, which is God, family, country. And, more than anything, what we found is that if a Latina immigrant talks to Latinos in this way, she has this incredible capacity to switch them over to the Republican Party in a way, Joy, that I haven`t seen in the years that I have been in the Rio Grande Valley.

REID: How is the abortion issue playing? Because, we know, polling-wise, Latinas and Latinos are pro-abortion, a majority, even if they`re religious.

How`s that playing, all of the restrictions.

RAMOS: Completely. That`s what the national numbers will tell you, right?

But what I found on the ground is that, when I had conversations with, on paper, Latina Democrats, and I asked them, are you pro-abortion, many of them told me no. I would ask them, do you support same-sex marriage? Many of them told me no. And I would ask them, have you ever voted for a Republican ever? The majority of them told me no. Why not? Because they don`t look like me.

So, yes, you`re right. The national numbers are telling us something. But in this specific district, it`s -- abortion is one of the reasons why a candidate like Mayra Flores that used to support Barack Obama switched over to the Republican Party.

So, as usual, Latinos are not a monolith. It`s complicated. I think this is a story that sheds light on that nuance.

REID: And are both parties in the community trying to sway voters?

What does that look like in South Texas, in terms of the parties?

RAMOS: That was the biggest question, Joy. Where was the DNC, right?

Someone like Mayra Flores outraised her opponent 10-1. The Republicans gave her over a million dollars to spend on TV ads. Her opponent had just over 130,000. So that`s sort of the elephant in the room.

REID: Yes.

RAMOS: Where was the DNC?

REID: Yes, because you know what? Outreach matters and representation matters. I think it`s true in politics, and it is in life and in media.

And we love having you here. Thank you, Paola Ramos.

Be sure to watch the latest edition of "FIELD REPORT WITH PAOLA RAMOS" tomorrow at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC, also streaming on Peacock.

A great young reporter, and you all should support her work.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.