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Transcript: The ReidOut, 1/10/22

Guests: Mandela Barnes, LaTosha Brown, Evelyn Aniton McDowell


GOP senator and Fox News Host reject Trump`s big lie; GOP Sen. Mike Rounds admits Trump lost in 2020; GOP Sen. Ron Johnson defies term-limit pledge, says he will run for a third term; House Minority Leader McCarthy vows retaliation against Democrats if GOP wins control; Poll shows 71 percent of Republicans support Trump`s big lie; Kinzinger says Trump just a symptom of years of right-wing rhetoric claiming victimization; Rush Limbaugh pushed ideas of white victimhood for many years; Right-Wing Talk Show Host Vicki McKenna downplays January 6th assault on the Capitol


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for spending your time with us tonight and thanks to Colbert for all his thoughts on the interviews. You can always find me online @arimelber across social media or and you can tweet at me what you thought of Colbert`s jokes. Sometimes the facts are the joke.

That does it for us. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid starts right now. Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing Ari? You forgot to say follow you on TikTok. You know, you have left that part out, so I will say it for you.

MELBER: You know what it is.

REID: Please follow Ari on TikTok. I know. I`m going to follow you. All right, thank you very much, my friend, have a great evening.

All right, good evening, everybody. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with something that actually should not be breaking news. A Fox News host and a Republican senator went on the record this weekend to state the obvious, Trump lost the election.


BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS HOST: I think that in life you have to learn to lose.

If you did, in fact, get screwed out of this election, put together an A- team list of lawyers, not the ones we witnessed, and show us the district and show us how. I have not seen any of that.

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): While there were some irregularities, there were none of the irregularities which would have risen to the point where there would have changed the vote outcome in a single state. The election was fair, as fair as we`ve seen. We simply did not win the election as Republicans for the presidency.


REID: Now, the only reason that this is news is because we are talking about a political party ruled by a man who cannot emotionally handle having lost an election, who dreams of becoming an American autocrat and who, of course, lashed out at the Republican senator who you just heard by threatening his political future and also attacking both the election and the free press. All signs of creeping authoritarianism inside the one-time party of Lincoln, rotting our democracy from within.

That is what Republicans now stand for, embodied these days by none other than Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who has just announced that he is breaking his term limits pledge and running for reelection. The January 6thth apologist has a seriously low approval rating and here is a sample of why that is.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): The fact of the matter is, even calling it an insurrection, it wasn`t. By and large, it was a peaceful protest.

Had the table been turned and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.

If you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?

Standard gargle, mouthwash, has been proven to kill the coronavirus.


REID: Oh, yes, that`s right. He is the Listerine kills COVID guy, and yet Johnson is no outlier. He is, in fact, the party mascot along with wormy Kevin McCarthy who today threatened the pettiest of political retaliations against Democrats. He said that if Republicans win control of the House in the midterm elections and put him in charge, he will remove some high profile Democratic members from their committees, naming Eric Swalwell, Ilhan Omar and Adam Schiff, as Democrats, that he`d remove for their committee assignments for no other reason at all than to troll.

Joining me now is Wisconsin`s Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, one of the Democrat whose vying to face Senator Ron Johnson this fall. And, Lieutenant Governor Barnes, thank you for being here.

You are going to be running against someone who in sort of the normal world would be considered a ridiculous figure, saying that you can gargle Listerine to kill COVID, saying there was no insurrection, if it was Black Lives Matter supporters, then he would have been worried but not the ones who left five police officers and other folks dead during an insurrection. But in this world now, he is kind of norm core Republican.

Let me play for you Jordan Klepper, who`s brilliant, from The Daily Show. He went on an interview, just some regular Republicans from your state back in June. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the country is going to pot right now. Come on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not the country we grew up in.

JORDAN KLEPPER, DAILY SHOW HOST: What country did you grow up in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The land of the free.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The United States of America in the `60s.

KLEPPER: Things were better in the `60s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh yes. `60s, `70s

KLEPPER: Yes. In the `60s, we knew we can drink the drinking fountain.



REID: I mean, 71 percent of Republicans believe that Donald Trump won the election. How do you run for office in that kind of an environment in a state like Wisconsin?

LT. GOV. MANDELA BARNES (D-WI): First of all, thank you for having me. And what we do in a state like Wisconsin is we take our message directly to the voters. We take our message directly to the people because although 71 percent of people are Republicans may think that Donald Trump won, the overwhelming majority of people know that democracy won, know that Joe Biden is the rightful president of the United States of America.

So, what we`re going to do is run a grassroots campaign. We`re going to reach out to every corner of this state. I`ve already been to every county as lieutenant governor doing the work of the people and we`re going to show backup throughout this campaign to talk about our plan to make sure health care is available to everybody in Wisconsin, make sure that we`re doing something to address climate change and also to rebuild the middle class that gave people like me opportunities, and that`s all.


You know that`s what it comes down to in a state like Wisconsin. We don`t want anything more. We certainly don`t want anything less and that`s certainly what Ron Johnson is providing. He`s been providing the worst type of leadership, telling these conspiracy theories, doing the work to divide us as a country, serving as a distraction while he gives tax breaks to his wealthiest donors.

You know he broke his term limit, pledged for reason. It`s because over the course his time in the U.S. Senate, he`s making millions because of some of the decisions that he`s made to change our tax laws in this country.

So, we`re going to continue showing up every county, every community and if you all are with us, please go to to help us defeat Ron Johnson, because we will win here in Wisconsin.

REID: Let me ask you the sort of -- dig a little bit deeper into that. Because, you know, Wisconsin is an interesting state. I mean, this is a state that President Obama won pretty handily in 2008. He then won it again in 2012. It`s a true swing state because it then swung to Donald Trump. So, Trump`s margin of victory, we barely won it in 2016 but he did manage to squeak it out. And then Biden won in 2020 by about that much. That`s a hell of a swing in a short period of time.

And the thing that stands out to me about that time period is that there was a black president and that you had a Republican Party that reacted to the existence of that black president by going really hard on racism and on pricking white anxiety. And what they`re doing now to play that same game is to say critical race theory, teaching history is going to make white children traumatized, like they`re using race in a very overt way post- Trump.

You, obviously, an African-American man running statewide, you can just presume the kind of race they`re running against you. How do you push back on that? Do you push back on it? Tell me how you navigate this openly racist world that the Republican Party have created for themselves politically?

BARNES: Well, Donald Trump open that door and Ron Johnson was more than happy to walk right on through it. But I`ll tell you, they haven`t been the only two. There have been so many people in Republican leadership who have taken this tack, who decided that they would let racism and vitriol rule the day, but we`re better than that.

A state like Wisconsin, we have proud traditions, always remind people that we are the first state to declare the Fugitive Slave Act in the Constitution. We`re the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment. We have a history of doing bold things in this state. And if you were to show up, you meet all kinds of amazing people, and those are the folks that are powering this campaign. That`s exactly, as I mentioned, where we`re taking our message, where we`re taking this campaign to.

I do believe that the light will drown out the darkness. I do believe that better is possible. There are so many people who are dissatisfied with big business as usual as Ron Johnson has been giving to this state. We got rid of Scott Walker in 2018. A lot of people didn`t think that was possible. It was a gigantic task. Like it was -- it seemed impossible when we were in it. It was almost impossible -- it almost felt impossible on the stage giving an acceptance speech but it happened. And I`ll tell you, in 2022 this November, it`s going to be the same story when it comes to Ron Johnson.

We don`t do well with people who continue to disserve the folks that they were elected to represent. And if Ron Johnson is not going to do the work of the people, I`m going do it for them.

REID: Well, we wish you luck. I hope that you will come back often and, obviously, you`ve already won statewide, so you kind of how to run a race in that state. Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, thank you very much, sir. I really appreciate you.

Now let`s bring in Charlie Sykes, Editor-at-Large of The Bulwark. And, Charlie, so you know -- you have the benefit or maybe the detriment of knowing Ron Johnson really well. You wrote a really great piece to Bulwark about his trajectory and the trajectory has been real for Republicans, in general. Even you, you`ve been a talk radio host on the right and now you are in the same wing of the world with us.

Talk about how somebody goes from being kind of a norm core-ish, I just want tax cuts Republican to being what Ron Johnson is and do you think that what he is now makes him more or less viable for reelection?

CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Okay, so the honest answer is I really do not know because I did know Ron Johnson in the before times before he went completely bat bleep crazy. But the thing about Ron Johnson is he ought to be the most vulnerable Republican in the country. And you made a really interesting point. On Earth 2.0, in a rational political university should be dead man walking. He should be an embarrassment.

And yet, the reality is that in our current environment, he has a very reasonable chance to win reelection. He may even be the favorite given the dynamics of midterm elections, and that says so much about our politics and it says so much about the Republican Party that they look at Ron Johnson and what he has become and what he says and goes, yes, we`re okay with that.


REID: Yes. Let me play for you Adam Kingzinger. I thought Adam Kinzinger, he just hit it spot on. You and I had this conversation before, but I thought he said it so sort of perfectly over the weekend because I think people make the mistake of believing this is all Trump base and that Trump created this dynamic, when I have never thought that. I think he just caught on to a train that was already moving. Here is Adam Kinzinger this weekend.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Donald Trump is a symptom of years and years of leaders, you know, profit-driven radio shows, whatever, turning the base into this angry, fearful, you know, victimized group of people.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO PERSONALITY: If any race of people should not have guilt about slavery, it`s Caucasians. The white race has probably had fewer slaves and for a briefer period of time than any other in the history of the world.


REID: And this is the same guy who in 2010 called, you know, Obamacare reparations and used that to like excite his audience. I mean, this has been decade after decade after decade of people feeding that and Donald Trump was a listener. That`s why he gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was a (INAUDIBLE). And so I think when you`ve -- do you think at this point the Republican base has been so captured by that sense of grievance, that national whine that you can`t undo it and that is why Ron Johnson is still viable?

SYKES: The short answer is yes. And I have to say, Joy, look, for many years I was part of this and did not recognize this and among my great regrets has been going along some of this and going along and promoting Ron Johnson. And I am deeply regretful. And I think the Democrats will be deeply regretful if they don`t do everything possible to oust him.

But you`re absolutely right, and I think Adam has come around to this view, which is that this is function was a preexisting condition. And I do think that that juxtaposition you just played is very, very important because, you know, we`re living in the world Rush Limbaugh created and that Donald Trump would not be president if it was not for people like Rush Limbaugh preparing the way for him.

And so I also think that it`s true that even if Donald Trump disappeared from the political world today, this wouldn`t change, this dynamic of what we`re seeing the Ron Johnsons of the world, the embrace of conspiracy theories, the obsession with identity politics, that sense of victimization, the politics of ginning up fear and anger against other people, other Americans. That`s now part of the world that we live in and that`s what Ron Johnson has now embraced and he`s gone along with it, but I think he`s gone further because I think he`s gone down so many rabbit holes, you can`t count them anymore. But, yes, this is part of the reality that we face in 2022.

REID: Let me just play just to underscore that point. This is a current Wisconsin talk show host. Her name us Vicki McKenna. This was her on insurrection day, on January 6th. Here she is.


VICKI MCKENNA, WISCONSIN TALK SHOW HOST: On this solemn day of remembrance, I can`t take any of this garbage seriously. January 6th was a lot like one day of the occupation of the Wisconsin Capitol when Scott Walker was Governor, and exactly nothing like the riots in Minneapolis, the riots in Kenosha, the riots in Madison.


REID: And this is why -- I mean, one of the other things that Kinzinger, or Representative Kinzinger said is that what brought Donald Trump back to life more than anything else was Kevin McCarthy running down to Mar-a-Lago like a toady and getting on one knee to Donald Trump and bringing him back to life, right, even though he knew it was wrong.

And so this line that Ms. McKenna is saying, this is the line now, that is why Kevin McCarthy, the only way he can buy the loyalty of those idiot crew that now really run the House is to promise to expel Ilhan Omar or run Adam Schiff out of town, like he has to do that, right, like that`s the only way he can survive.

SYKES: Right. What you just played was the id of the Republican Party in Wisconsin today. And, you know, Ron Johnson is very much a creature of shows like Vicki McKenna`s these days. Most of the outrageous thing you see, you hear him say are set on shows like this. And it is this sort of feedback loop of doom.

But that moment that Adam Kinzinger described is really extraordinary because it was about five minutes when after January 6th when Republicans had that moment where they thought, oh, my gosh, you know this is gone too far. You know, Donald Trump is dangerous, he`s reckless, he`s crazy and that lasted for about five minutes.


And then, of course, Kevin McCarthy did what the rest of the party did, which was to go down and bow the knee. And you see now that they`ve created this narrative, the narrative that it was January 6th was really no big deal. It was no different than other protests that were largely peaceful or, you know, compare it to riots took place elsewhere, obviously, lighting the fact that it was an attempt to overturn a presidential election and that it was aimed at stopping the counting of the electoral vote.

But, yes, in order to understand Ron Johnson, you need to listen to people like Vicki McKenna because that`s who he listens to.

REID: That`s right. This is why for years and years and years, I listened to Rush Limbaugh, I listen to (INAUDIBLE), I listen to Glen Beck. Because if you don`t know what they`re saying, you really don`t understand what is going on over there on the other side of this thing.

SYKES: Exactly right.

REID: You need to listen to it, folks out there. It is eye-opening. Charlie Sykes, thank you very much. I hope Adam Kinzinger will come on the show one time to talk to him. I appreciate you.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, Jim Jordan, the guy who said he has nothing to hide his now refusing to cooperate in a big test for the January 6th committee because if they don`t vigorously pursue Jordan, they will never go after Trump.

Also, President Biden and Vice President Harris head to Georgia to argue for voting rights legislation, but in a late development tonight, a coalition of voting rights group says it will not participate in the Biden Harris event.

Plus, I`ll have a frank discussion with a woman who doesn`t think she needs the COVID vaccine and why doctors and scientists say she does.

And tonight`s absolute worst today, a repeat offender, we try to find someone else, you all, I swear but no one else came close.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.




REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA): Are you willing to tell the select committee what you know about events leading up, during and after that day?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I have been clear all along I have got nothing to hide. I have been straightforward all along.


REID: For months, Congressman Jim Jordan stuck to his mantra that he had nothing to hide from the select committee.

Well, now they have actually asked to interview him, he`s singing a very different tune. The ardent Trump loyalist is officially refusing to speak to the committee, and he`s citing every excuse in the book. He claims he has no relevant information. He argues that his conduct on January 6 was part of his official duties, and he accuses the committee of outrageous abuse.

In other words, Jordan was lying every time he claimed that he had nothing to hide. That was just for show.

As the committee points out in a statement, Jordan`s letter completely ignores the basic fact that he spoke directly to Donald Trump on January 6, and is thus a material witness. In fact, it seems that Jordan has everything to hide, since he`s been notably unwilling to give a straight answer to fundamental questions about his communications with Trump that day.


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Did you talk to the former president that day?

JORDAN: I have talked to the former president umpteen times, thousands. I mean, maybe not thousands.


BAIER: I mean on January 6.

JORDAN: Countless, countless times.

I continue to talk to the president.

BAIER: No, no. I mean, on January 6, Congressman.


QUESTION: On January 6, Did you speak with him before, during or after the Capitol was attacked?

JORDAN: I`d have to go -- I spoke with him that day after, I think after. I don`t know if I spoke with him in the morning or not. I just don`t know.

I talked to him that day. I -- my understanding is, from my memory, I talked to him after the attack happened and we were moved to the chamber. I may have talked to him before. I don`t know.


REID: Those are hummina hummina hummina answers from Jordan, who`s known for hysterically badgering witnesses that he would never, never have accepted if the shoe had been on the other foot. And we will address that in a second.

His defiance sets up a big test for the select committee, raising the question of whether they will issue a subpoena against a fellow member of Congress. But if they don`t, how are they ever going to subpoena a former president?

With me now, David Jolly, former Republican congressman who`s no longer with the party, and former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance.

And, David, you know this guy. Does it surprise you that somebody who is ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, who literally screams and shrieks at witnesses basically for a living without a jacket on, which people have an issue, is going to defy that -- defy the select committee?

DAVID JOLLY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, on a baseline level of patriotism, yes, it surprises me.

But what we know is, Jim Jordan is hiding a lot. He is covering up a lot. He is hiding and covering up text messages, voice-mails. Whatever the communications look like with Donald Trump that day, which he has acknowledged kind of, but kind of not, he knows the president`s frame of mind. And that`s the most critical piece that Jordan can offer.

Now, I would also tell you, I think the committee will have a tough time enforcing a subpoena against Jim Jordan. And I think, actually, the three of us may have talked about this a week or two ago. I think what the committee is going to have to demonstrate is that Jim Jordan likely has information related to the conduct of criminal activity, because Jim Jordan is right.

Just protesting the election the floor of the House as a member of Congress, that has been done before in past elections. It was done in this one. That by itself is probably not enough to have DOJ or the courts intervene in a member-vs.-member conversation.

But if the committee can demonstrate that Jim Jordan might actually have information related to consciousness of guilt of the president or the president`s frame of mind, perhaps they could enforce this.

REID: Then let me -- that is the key question, I believe.

This is -- here`s Bennie Thompson. He was on "Meet the Press" last week. And this is the key question, Joyce, I believe, is whether or not they can take that request up a level to a subpoena. Take a listen.


CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Do you think you`re going to have to subpoena a sitting member of Congress?

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Well, I think there`s some questions of whether we have the authority to do it. We are looking at it. If the authorities are there, there will be no reluctance on our part.


REID: So that is the key question, Joyce.

Can Congress, to your knowledge, lawfully subpoena a sitting member?

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It`s an open question. And it involves the speech and debate clause privilege and whether members` immunity for activity that they engage in off of the floor of the House would extend to what went on here.


But the reality, Joy, is the committee will likely get to the point where it will issue a subpoena. It seems unlikely that they would have come to this juncture without knowing that they would have to. And the real question is, will someone enforce that subpoena for them...

REID: Right.

VANCE: ... if Jim Jordan fails to comply, which he seems unlikely to comply?

REID: And then because the thing is, if they can`t get through a subpoena against him, right, it`s doomed to try to subpoena Trump, because you know Trump is not going to comply either.

I just want to play -- I talked about Jim Jordan badgering folks. For those who have not paid a lot of attention to Jim Jordan, I just want to play a little bit of the way he behaves when he is in his seat with the gavel in his hand.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I also said that there were some who tried to justify the claim on the basis...

JORDAN: Secretary Clinton...

CLINTON: ... on the basis of the video, Congressman. And I think it`s...

JORDAN: But, real quick, calling it attack is like saying the sky is blue. Of course, it was an attack.


JORDAN: It is accurate. We have caught you hiding information, Mr. Rosenstein.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, can we allow the witness to answer?

JORDAN: So, the protests don`t increase the spread of the virus?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: I didn`t say that. You`re putting words in my mouth.

JORDAN: No, I want -- I would -- I just want an answer to the question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May I answer that question?

JORDAN: Thirteen Conversations. Yes, I will get to you. I will give you a chance here in a second.

Who told Papadopoulos? How`d he find out?

ROBERT MUELLER, RUSSIA PROBE SPECIAL COUNSEL: I can`t get into the evidentiary findings.

JORDAN: Yes, you can because you wrote about it.


REID: Dream with me, David Jolly.

If the House goes to the Republicans, can we not assume that they are going to use their power not to try to advance legislation or do anything for their people, but what their constituents want is that for them to just own the libs?

And so if Democrats refuse to accept subpoenas for whatever nonsense they try to come up with, don`t you think that Republicans are going to demand and insist that their subpoenas be honored?

JOLLY: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I Republicans know one tactic, and it`s scorched earth.

And I think there is some patience and jurisprudence being used by the 1/6 Committee that, if Jim Jordan does not participate -- and, look, I used the word patriotism in our last exchange, and I really mean it. Jim Jordan knows Donald Trump`s frame of mind on January 6.

He knows the president`s frame of mind. He was in contact with the president. And he is unwilling to share that with the 1/6 Committee. That, in and of itself, should raise questions of patriotism around Jim Jordan. Whether or not he can litigate his way out of testifying will be a matter, I suppose, for Department of Justice and the courts.

But you better be sure, when Jim Jordan has the gavel, watch out, Democrats. He`s coming for you. So I would say, don`t hesitate to go for him in this moment right now.

REID: Now, that`s the true sign of an authoritarian follower is you turn against your own body. You turn against the branch of government you actually serve in.

I have to bring this up with you, Joyce, because there is this other thing that`s going on out there. We`re going to probably get into this more tomorrow, forged election slates. This actually happened. Trump supporters with no legal authority in the state of Michigan and Arizona, they actually forged documents, which were designed to be slates of electors, tried to pass them off as legitimate.

They did it in Wisconsin as well, Michigan and Wisconsin, and tried to put those things forward. That seems to me to be an obvious crime. They were trying to perpetrate a fraud by submitting electors that they knew to be fake.

Why is that not the subject of some sort of criminal charge at this point?

VANCE: So, we know from Merrick Garland`s speech last week that DOJ is not saying what it is or isn`t looking at, but we have Garland`s vow that he will look at everything that contributed to the effort that culminated on January 6.

I think the short answer is, we don`t know if he`s looking at that set of facts. But we do know that the January 6 Committee is now reaching out to the states. And it`s very curious that these fraudulent lists of electors were submitted.

We know that in at least two of the states where this happened, they got outreach, they were advised that it happened. In one state in Arizona, they reached out to one of the groups, a group of sovereign citizens, which is a sort of a right-wing militia group, and told them to cease and desist, to not do it anymore.

But whether there`s more to this, I think, is something we will be talking about in the weeks ahead.

REID: Oh, definitely. We`re going to get into this more tomorrow.

But think about that, folks that are listening right now. People who have - - are going to -- were trying to set aside 160-some-odd million votes by submitting fake electors and say, no, take these. And the question then becomes, how high up the chain did it go? Did people know that that might have been part of the plan to try to submit these false electors and get them to be accepted by the National Archives and by the House -- by the United States Senate?

It`s terrifying. They`re going to try it again.

David Jolly, Joyce Vance, thank you both very much.

Still ahead: President Biden and Vice President Harris are heading to the battleground state of Georgia tomorrow to push for voting rights protections, but with two conservative Democratic senators still opposed to filibuster reform, is there any hope?


We will discuss after this quick break. Stay with us.


REID: President Biden is heading to Atlanta, Georgia, tomorrow for a speech on voting rights legislation.

Biden and Vice President Harris will make an urgent call for the passage of federal voting rights laws, specifically two bills stalled by Senate Republican obstruction. Senate Democrats are expected to take up a bill by MLK Day to change the filibuster rules, which is currently opposed by two conservative Democrats, who won`t say what they actually will support.

That`s partly why some Georgia voting rights groups told the White House to stay away unless they have a plan to get the legislation over the finish line.

A joint statement signed by several groups noted: "Georgia voters made history and made their voices heard, overcoming obstacles, threats and suppressive laws to deliver the White House and the U.S. Senate. In return, a visit has been forced on them, requiring them to accept political platitudes and repetitious, bland promises. Such an empty gesture without concrete action, without signs of real tangible work, is unacceptable."


And, tonight, a coalition of groups who signed on to that statement, including Black Voters Matter, announced that they will be skipping President Biden`s speech.

And joining me now is LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter.

And, LaTosha, my friend, this has been the subject of a lot of chit-chatter on Twitter. But these groups are not going to attend. And it`s not just Black Voters Matter. New Georgia Project Action Fund won`t be there, Asian American Advocacy Fund, the GALEO Impact Action Fund -- these are groups that helped win the state in 2021, in that special election, and in 2020 -- aren`t going to be there.

Tell me why.

LATOSHA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTERS MATTER: It is not our goal to be combative or to be antagonistic. We are trying to send a message of how serious this is for us.

That has been over a year, when we`re looking at S.B.202 and the kind of damage that have given the state of Georgia. Currently, right now, many of the voters that supported in came out and voted in record numbers, we have less voting rights protection now than we did a year ago. And we`re saying that we`re long past the time for just speeches.

At this moment, what we want to see is, we want to see a bill in hand. We want to see the bill signed. We want to -- and we believe that there was a lot of good will, there was a lot of momentum that has been lost in the last year, because the Democrats did not -- we don`t feel like this administration made this a priority.

And so we`re always welcoming. Yes, we welcome people to come visit our state. We want the administration to be successful. But what we also is, we have to really be able to hold each other accountable and this administration accountable.

It is unconscionable that here we are, a year later, and we do not have voting rights legislation in place. And so that`s the message that we`re sending. We`re sending a message of, we`re serious, that this is the moment right now that we`re expecting some real, real deliverable.

REID: Now, and I should note that per the great reporting by Errin Haines at 19th News, Stacey Abrams will also not be there. She did tweet in support of the event. She said she had a conflict.

Interesting that she will not be there either. And so, when the president the vice president come down, it doesn`t appear that they have in place agreement by Manchin and Sinema to push through this legislation on the 17th. And so there is a lot of pushback, saying, well, what are they going to come and say?

Nse Ufot, who you know very well, she got into a little bit with a lot of folks on social media, who were like, well, what do you think the plan should be? And she was like, that`s not my job. It`s not my job to come up with a plan. And you want me to chew their food for them too? That`s not it. You need to do the work.

And so to answer that critique that people have is, they`re the executive branch, they can`t make Manchin and Sinema do anything that they want them to do, what do you -- how do you answer that?

BROWN: Well, I think there`s a couple of things.

I think, one, I think the president actually made a calculated mistake early on last year. I think, at the end of the day, it was very clear that this was not a priority for him, that he -- the way that he spoke about the infrastructure bill, he did not speak about voting rights.

Matter of fact, he said earlier on in one of his interviews that he will -- once the bill came to his desk, that he would be willing to sign it. I have been saying this consistently, that we needed a LBJ moment. We needed him to get behind it and say, unequivocally, we`re going to have voting rights in this country, and I am supporting that, and put the same kind of what I thought the fullness of his power of his office. He did not do that.

And so, as a result, here, we find ourselves now. There are many that believe that the best use of time would be to be in the Senate, to be D.C. and to actually rally the kind of support and the votes that we need.

I am hopeful that we`re going to have voting rights legislation. But I think that this speaks to the frustration that people are feeling on the ground in groups that actually did the hard work and continued to be working hard right now. To actually to just to listen to words?

No, we want real action, just as every other American -- Americans vote for people not because they want speeches. What they want is, they want results. We delivered. And I think that is very reasonable for us to expect that the Democrats would deliver as well and that this administration would deliver as well.

REID: And I point out and those who watch the show know that our friend Joe Madison, who you and I both care a lot about -- I text with him frequently because I`m worried about him.

He is on, what, 60-some-odd days of this hunger strike. We just had another group of clergy and people who are civil rights leaders join and do a hunger strike. Well, he`s on day 64. There are two dozen faith leaders who`ve also joined in doing it too.

I mean, people are literally putting their lives on the line. What do you make of the fact that people`s health risk, I mean, their lives are at risk? And this has not seemed to have moved Joe Manchin or Sinema at all.

BROWN: It`s -- I have so many comments that I can say around that.


And I think part of it is I think that Manchin has been lying all the while. I think that he has never had real intentions to support this. But I also believe that there`s a tremendous amount of power that goes with the administration.

And part of the reason why we have actually been calling the carpet -- the administration to the carpet on this is because we believe that the president does set the tone of the policy priorities, and so that we felt like -- and we feel that he did not set the tone early on enough around that voting rights was a priority.

Yet we find ourselves here. What we are expecting, we are expecting that this administration will deliver, that we will have federal voting rights legislation that will support the Americans in this country, and that it will be a priority for this administration.

Yes, this is a president that was in the Senate for four decades, Joy, right? If there`s anyone that I would expect to know how to navigate and maneuver through the Senate, it would be him, right? And so I think there`s an expectation that they will deliver on these voting rights.

REID: I think that is entirely reasonable, because you certainly cannot organize your way out of voter suppression and the reversal of elections, which is the other thing they have made possible in the state of Georgia.

LaTosha Brown, thank you for doing all the work that you do. And really appreciate you being here tonight, my friend. Appreciate you.

And up next, tonight`s "Absolute Worst," well, is one of our regulars. He just makes it too easy.

And, later, confronting vaccine hesitancy. Is there any way to change the minds of friends and family who still refuse to take the shot?

We will be right back.



REID: And now another dispatch from the so-called free state of Florida, as Ron DeSantis is at it again.

When the Florida legislative session begins this week, he will continue his war on teachers teaching, you know, facts about the true history of this country, both the good and the bad, in the absurd Republican obsession with one of their favorite boogeymen, Critical Race Theory.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): What we`re going to be doing in this upcoming legislative session, we`re going to give parents the ability to go in and get legal relief if they`re not following our state standards with respect to history and government.

And I think empowering parents to be involved, making sure parents have a right to inspect the curriculum -- and it`s not just about Critical Race Theory. I mean, there`s a lot of other inappropriate content that can be smuggled in by public schools.


REID: And what does old Ron think is being smuggled in?

Perhaps teachers are trying to smuggle in more copies of Toni Morrison`s books before they get banned. Or maybe that teachers go against his state standards for history and government by sharing the Trumpel-thin-skinned actually lost the 2020 election. Not allowed.

But instead of worrying about feeding his base fake crises in the schools, he should be handling the one that is literally ravaging his state right now. Florida continues to break records for COVID infections, and hospitalizations are going back up. The state is distributing COVID tests to teachers.

But one county is reporting that the ones they received were expired. This follows the bombshell admission by DeSantis last week that the state had about one million COVID tests expire without being used. How comforting that must be for the teachers of Florida.

DeSantis does not seem to be too concerned, as he and his notorious surgeon general have been on a crusade against testing, recently making this absurd claim that he thought would backup his case.


DESANTIS: Think about it. Before COVID, did anyone go out and seek testing to determine if they were sick?


REID: Yes, Ron, you bum. It`s called preventive care. It`s what you do in this country to get ahead of a potential illness, rather than waiting until your situation gets worse.

Florida offers testing for a host of medical issues, including HIV and other STDs. And maybe Ron has heard about, I don`t know, colonoscopies and mammograms that can detect various cancers. His wife was one of the -- one of the more than 300,000 women in the United States who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.

Now, fortunately, she appears to be on the road to recovery, and we wish her well. But she told all of us that she only found out about it because of early screening, AKA testing.

And that is why, Ron DeSantis, you are tonight`s "Absolute Worst" for the second time already in this brand-new year.

And up next, we look at the impact that rhetoric like this has as we deal with the challenges of COVID and unvaccinated America, and talk directly to someone who says the vaccine is not for her.

Don`t go anywhere. We will be right back.



REID: COVID has been a painful and annoying presence in our lives for nearly two years now.

Today, more than 300 million people around the globe have had COVID and more than five million have died. More than 840,000 of those deaths were here in the U.S. Now, sadly, it feels like we have exhausted the conversation about the efficacy of the vaccine and ending this nightmare.

Health experts estimate that about 15 percent of U.S. adults remain unflinchingly unvaccinated. Who are those people and what will it take to move them?

Well, you know many of them. They`re not all Trump supporters. They`re your friends, your relatives, even your kids. And, these days, it feels like we are talking past each other.

Well, tonight, we are going to try something different. Instead of talking about them, let`s talk with them.

Joining me now is Evelyn Aniton McDowell, an educator at a private university who remains unvaccinated, and Dr. Kavita Patel, our friend and MSNBC medical contributor.

Thank you both for being here.

Ms. McDowell, nice to meet you. Thank you for coming on. I appreciate you, because I think a lot of folks who are not getting vaccinated are sort of hiding it, right? There are people who are buying fake vax cards and sort of sneaking.

I like the fact that you`re just being you and being open about it.

So, let me ask you this question. Why are you not vaccinated?

EVELYN ANITON MCDOWELL, ASSOCIATION UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR AND DEPARTMENT CHAIR: Well, first of all, Joy, thank you for having me on and allowing me to tell my side of the story.

REID: Sure.

MCDOWELL: I`m unvaccinated because I actually caught COVID twice. I had it once in March of 2020. I had it again in November of 2020.

This is all before the vaccination. I was sick the first time and quickly - - not quickly -- it took me 65 days to get a negative -- a negative test. And then, when I got it the second time, I quickly got over it. Within two weeks, I tested negative.

Then I have been tested for antibodies. And so I have been tested twice for antibodies, actually, three times. The most recent was November, and my antibody levels were very high.

And so if the vaccine is meant to get body ready to get it -- get my immune system ready to fight COVID, well, natural immunity has done that for me.


REID: Let me ask you this question.

MCDOWELL: And I have proven that. I have also taken a T-cell test.

REID: Sure.

So, I -- and I have had people say that to me before. I have family relatives who have said the same thing. But doesn`t the fact that you caught it a second time prove that your natural immunity didn`t keep you from getting COVID, because you caught it again?

MCDOWELL: Well, again, I mean, I think -- I think I`m correct by saying that the vaccine does not prevent you from getting COVID.

REID: But wait. Your natural immunity...


MCDOWELL: ... high level...

REID: Yes. Go ahead. I`m sorry.


Well, as we see now, people are getting the vaccine, and they`re still getting COVID. So, it doesn`t stop you from getting COVID.

REID: Let me let -- bring Dr. Kavita Patel in there, because I hear this a lot, people saying, look, I have got natural immunity. I had COVID. Therefore, I don`t need to take the vaccine. We have had some professional athletes do it, the Aaron Rodgers, Kyrie Irving, Nov -- I don`t know how to pronounce his name -- Novak Djokovic.

These are people who have said this, right? Is that true? Because I know people who`ve got it twice. Doesn`t that mean that your natural immunity doesn`t stop you from getting COVID again?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Joy, I think -- look, first of all, Ms. McDowell, I`m glad you came here, because I think more people actually agree with you and have your feeling.

But here`s the problem with natural immunity. It doesn`t last at the same levels forever. The antibodies that you have measured, actually, we know now that those antibodies specifically are not as protective against Omicron.

You are correct. Vaccines don`t prevent you from getting infected. Vaccines are really meant to prevent disease. And what we know is that, unfortunately, natural immunity, from any of the strains before Omicron, do not protect against Omicron.

But here`s some good news. Your natural immunity, combined with vaccine- induced immunity, which is very broad, and the T-cells you mentioned -- I think of the T-cells as the quarterback of a football team. And when you vaccinate, you get the T-cells organized, you get the entire like defense and offensive line organized. It just gives you broader immunity.

And we know that creates actually the best immunity, not just against Omicron, but what we think will be future threats. And that`s what we`re hoping for. So, I implore you, beg you to have a conversation. I will have it with you offline, but just to talk through some of this and why I think it`ll protect you in the long run and the people you love around you.

REID: Well, what do you make of that, Ms. McDowell.

MCDOWELL: OK. and I -- I can -- what do I think of that?

OK. Actually, this past Christmas, I was exposed directly to someone who has COVID. And, so far, I have tested negative. And so I`m pretty confident that my body is able to handle COVID. I have -- like I said, I have had it twice. And I have been exposed a third time that I know of directly in my face, breathing in my face. And I did not get it.


MCDOWELL: Go ahead.

REID: Let me ask you this question, because we don`t have a ton of time, but I have to play this for you.


REID: Because it is partly about you and protecting you, but it`s also about other people.

Let me just play some health care professionals talking about what they have gone through. Take a look.


SARAH RAUNER, MICHIGAN PEDIATRIC NURSE: I`m here to tell you, we`re tired, we`re exhausted, and we`re literally on the edge.

DR. SERGIO SEGARRA, MIAMI PHYSICIAN: We`re feeling that the staff is getting sick. We have over 500 employees throughout Baptist Health that have come down with COVID.

DR. LAURA MCPHEE, NEW HAMPSHIRE PHYSICIAN: I have not ever seen a patient here in the ICU who`s been fully vaccinated with a booster, not one. This doesn`t have to happen.


REID: Here`s the thing that I think I struggle with a lot, Ms. McDowell, is, there is you and your own sense that you feel invulnerable to it.

But there are health care workers who are begging people like yourself to get vaccinated, because what they`re seeing is that the vast majority of the people who are coming to the E.R., who are clogging up the health care system, who are making it impossible for somebody with a stroke or with a heart attack to be able to get in, because all the patients are COVID, your -- it is 10 times more likely if you are unvaccinated that you`re going to end up in the E.R. if you get it.

People who are unvaccinated are literally making our health system shut down. Are you concerned that you could, even if you can survive it, that you might give it to somebody who can`t survive it, who might end up in the E.R., or that you might end up in the E.R. and make it impossible for these poor health care workers to do their jobs?

They`re also begging, because they`re suffering too. Does that move you at all?

MCDOWELL: Oh, absolutely. I am not against vaccination.

And had I not had COVID twice, maybe I -- probably -- I`m sure I probably would have taken the vaccine. My -- everybody in my family is vaccinated, fully vaccinated. And that person that was -- that had COVID that was in my family, they were fully vaccinated.



REID: But, I mean, aren`t you worried about the health care system? Like, are you worried about the doctors, like the nurses?

MCDOWELL: Oh, I am. I am, of course. But I`m not worried about it for me.

They -- I`m pretty sure they`re not going to see me there. I had it twice, and I beat it.

REID: Yes.

MCDOWELL: So, I don`t -- I don`t see -- I`m not worried about me, but I am worried about other people not being protected.

REID: We got...

MCDOWELL: I`m protected. My body has been protected naturally.

REID: Well, we`re out of time.

MCDOWELL: I`m protected.

REID: I hope that you will get together with Dr. Patel, and you guys can talk offline. We need to have more of these conversations, because there are doctors begging you to change your mind.

MCDOWELL: Thank you, Joy, for having me.

REID: OK, thank you, Evelyn Aniton McDowell.

And, Dr. Kavita Patel, thank you very much.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.