Biden challenges senators to stand up for voting rights. Graham says voting rights a hypes, manufactured issue. Biden say I`m tired of being quiet on voter suppression. Senate could vote on voting rights bills Wednesday
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Lay it out there and sharing under oath, what he says is going through, Dr. Fauci in the news. For many reasons, a he programming note is on "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" tonight 8:00 P.M. Eastern right here on MSNBC.
And to get to that, well, we are due to keep in locked right here on MSNBC because THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid is up next. Hi, Joy.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing Ari? Thank you very much. Have a great evening. Cheers.
And good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with what the White House hope will be a pivot point in the fight for voting rights. This afternoon President Biden and Vice President Harris give a major joint speech in Atlanta putting the full weight of the administration behind the push for new federal voter protection laws, even if it means that Senate Democrats have to go at it alone.
And the fact that they have to do it alone is notable. Take a look at this video. The year is 2006. Republican President George W. Bush is signing an extension of the Voting Rights Act. Now standing there behind him is Missouri Senator Roy Blunt who now thinks voting rights is a partisan issue. That 25-year extension of the Voting Rights Act was so bipartisan that both the majority and the minority leader were there for the signing. Oh, okay, right here next to Hillary Clinton is Senator Lindsey Graham, before he thought that protecting voting rights was a power grab.
Fast forward to today when the senator who will go into the history books, as little more than a caddy to the disgraced twice-impeached former president, said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): As to voting rights itself, I think this is the most height manufactured issue in a long time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: And let`s just be clear. When we talk about voting rights legislation, we talk a lot about what President Biden should do, what Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could do. But what about the Republican Party, that up until very recently unanimously supported and voted to renew the 1965 Voting Rights Act for decades, and who showed up at MLK day church services bragging about it?
Republicans joined majorities, reauthorizing the VRA five times, including the 98-0 vote in 2006, and they were all signed in to law by Republican presidents. Republican support for the Voting Rights Act is Republicans` favorite talking point when you point out that their party swapped places with the old Dixiecrats.
So, what happened between 2006 and now to change their support? Well, for one, the first black president, Barack Obama, was elected and reelected thanks to massive turnout from voters of color, giving the black Democrat an opening to shape the courts, including the Supreme Court. Well, Mitch then couldn`t have that. Republicans realized that voters of color could overwhelm them again in Georgia in 2020, electing Obama`s former V.P., Joe Biden, a black woman vice president and Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, in other words, giving open access to the vote. The increasingly diverse electorate was going to choose Democrats.
So, what are you going to do about a problem like democracy? Enter the former president`s big lie, a convenient fiction that Republicans are gleefully using to lock those pesky voters out because their political survival is dependent on taking power, not earning it.
Last year, all but one Republican voted to block debate on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act that was introduced to uncripple the Voting Rights Act, which was gutted by John Roberts Supreme Court in 2013. 16 of those same Republicans who voted to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act of 2006 are still there, including none other than current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Today, in John Lewis` home district, President Biden called out those Republicans who refused to stand up to the disgraced former president`s big lie, urging the Senate to approve the voting bill name for the late civil rights leader and another, the Freedom to Vote Act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I`ve been having these quiet conversations with the members of Congress for the last two months. I`m tired of being quiet.
We must find a way to pass these voting rights bills, debate them, vote, let the majority prevail. And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules including getting rid of the filibuster for this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says that he plans to bring up the voting rights bill tomorrow. And while the president`s support for the rules change is welcome, it is also why voting rights activist are frustrated, with several groups sitting out today`s speech preferring concrete action over yet another wonderful statement of principles.
Conservative Democrats Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema have already come down against any filibuster changes without buy-in from the same Republicans who have blocked not one or two but three efforts to even debate voting rights.
And today, without mentioning any senators by name, President Biden laid out the stakes for every single one of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: History has never been kind to those who have sided with voter suppression over voters` rights. So, I ask every elected official in America how do you want to be remembered? But consequential moments in history, they present a choice. Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? This is the moment to decide to defend our elections, to defend our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: But the question now is what leverage does President Biden have to get them on the right side of history and get these voting rights bills passed now?
Joining me now is Errin Haines, Editor-at-Large for The 19th, Jason Johnson Professor of Journalism and Politics at Morgan State University and Host of this slate podcast, A Word with Jason Johnson, and Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. While I quickly cough, excuse me, everyone. Thank you very much for being here.
I`m going Start with Errin, Jason. Because the -- lay out for me Errin the politics of what the president and vice president tried to do today, what was the political purpose of it?
ERRIN HAINES, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE 19TH: Yes, Joy, what changed about, you know, from 2006 when you have Republicans on board and back when voting rights was a bipartisan issue, what changed was voting rights used to be part of both parties` strategy towards expanding, you know, a strategy of expanding the electorate.
You know, in 2012, when you have that GOP autopsy of kind of what went wrong for them after the election, the thought was, you know, they needed to expand. They needed to try to appeal to a more diverse electorate, to try to appeal to more Americans and to get them to engage with the Republican Party. That strategy has since been abandoned. And so when you no longer have a strategy of expanding the electorate, voting rights is suddenly not as bipartisan of an issue.
So, what we did see today down in Atlanta headed into the Martin Luther King Junior holiday on the campus of his alma mater, Morehouse College, part of the Atlanta University Center in the district, as you mentioned, of former Congressman John Lewis, one of these voting rights bill is named after is, the president and vice president really kind of using their bully pulpit to press for action in the Senate on voting rights.
Of course, what we didn`t hear was a specific plan, which is what a lot of those organizers who did not -- who were not in attendance today for how this legislation is going to pass and what they are specifically willing to do to make that happen. And you heard both the president and vice president talking about how they plan to keep fighting for voting rights but what exactly is that going to mean?
The president and the vice president were preaching to the choir down in Georgia. We know that voters in that state did what they had to do in 2020 and then January of 2021 but he did also call out some in the congregation, right? But I guess revisionist history is kind of popular these days.
But, you know, literally, the average age in the U.S. Senate, 64.3 years old, right? So, he`s literally hoping to channel their legacies, their literally obituaries, if you will, and ask what side of the bridge do you want to be on tomorrow if Senator Schumer is to be believed, everybody is going to have a chance to be on that proverbial bridge tomorrow and make a decision which side of history, which side of our democracy they want to be on in casting their vote when the camera is rolling and we`re watching.
REID: Well, I mean, it`s very clear, Jason, that, I mean, when the history is written, Mitch McConnell is going to be remembered as the Strom Thurmond of our era. I mean, he used the filibuster more than anyone has ever used it probably in league in Strom Thurmond`s use it, but he used it to try to stop the first black president from being successful. It very clear he is going to be Strom Thurmond, we got that. The only question is how many James Eastlands are going to be.
Let`s play Mitch McConnell first on the -- his politics are on the rules change, and then after that, I want to play I want to play Marco Rubio because he was part of what Errin was talking about, this sort of vanguard of younger Republicans who Republicans at one point thought could bring them in more voters of color and younger voters, it didn`t work out that way because they have still at the same politics. Here is Mitch McConnell first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): If my colleague tries to break the Senate to silence those millions of Americans, we will make their voices heard in this chamber in ways that are more inconvenient for the majority and this White House than what anybody has seen in living memory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And Marco Rubio, I won`t even play it, but he`s claiming that there is no wide spread effort to suppress minority voting rights, like he said that with a straight face. That`s the story they`re going to stick to it.
Are we at the point now where, politically, because they`ve left themselves little room to maneuver were just at a point where Republicans are going to get away with claiming they`re not trying to stop people from voting and then literally stop them from voting and stealing the elections after if they don`t win, get what they want anyway?
JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: So, first, Joy, I want to let you know we don`t know what the history books will say about Mitch McConnell because when we talk about as voter suppression, isn`t that critical race theory? They`re trying to make that --
REID: Oh, right.
JOHNSON: We don`t even know what the history books could say about this when we get there.
Here`s the problem. It`s very clear what their plan is. They want politicians to be able to pick voters instead of voters picking politicians. And here is why this is important based on what Biden said today. Look, it was a forceful speech. That`s great. That`s wonderful. But truth of the matter is Biden said at a town hall in October that he was in favor of some sort of reform. I want to jump us ahead not just to the future of 50 years, not historically, but I want to jump us ahead of next week.
So, let`s say the vote to reform the filibuster fails. What is the next step? What can this administration do? This is the plan that activists are talking about. Don`t come down here without a plan. I have said before you can send federal election monitors to all 50 states. Hey, if you`re violating people`s civil rights, we`ll snatch your highway money. Joy, you`ve made the suggestion, attach infrastructure bill money to election reform. You can`t get any of this $1.8 billion.
You had Vann Newkirk at The Atlantic that said, hey, look, if you`re suppressing votes that can affect reapportionment. There are plans, right here right now that Joe Biden could have talk about today for what he will do if the vote doesn`t work. That`s why people are frustrated. That`s why history will judge him almost as harshly as it judges Mitch McConnell because he hasn`t used all the power at his resources and he hasn`t added a stick to the carrot that he was trying to offer to some people today.
REID: Yes, the excellent points. Errin Haines, Jason Johnson, thank you both very my friends. I appreciate you both.
And with that, I want to bring in Sherrilyn Ifill, because you are the person that I hope has the answer to this question of what coming down next. Because you heard what Jason and Errin said, there is not a lot of box left for President Biden other than the rhetorical box, which he used today, in which Vice President Harris used today.
So, let say the vote goes on the floor of the Senate and Manchin and Sinema decide to do the James Eastland. They decide we`re rolling with that. We`re going to be the Strom Thurmond end of the party. Then what?
SHERRILYN IFILL, PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR COUNSEL,NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: Thanks, Joy, I appreciate it. I think we all know that, you know, much of the power around election protection is going to rest with the Department of Justice. I don`t have any worries that the Department of Justice will not pull out all the stops to do some of the important things that we need to protect the vote. That was the whole point of ensuring that there were, you know, former civil rights attorneys and voting rights attorneys in leadership. The head of the civil rights division is Kristen Clarke, an experienced long time voting rights litigator, Vanita Gupta, the associate attorney general.
So, there will be things that can be done through the DOJ, for sure, and I think many of the ideas that Jason talked about, and we have pressed the president on this since last year, use all your power and influence. I have to disagree with Jason that I don`t think laying out what those threats are today would have been the best possible move because I think you play out every hand that you`re dealt. We`re going to see what happens with this vote. I think you`re right that we don`t have much reason to believe the vote is going to go differently. You know, obviously, Joy, you know that civil rights groups ask the president to make the speech he made today last summer, on July 9th, when we met directly with the president.
He did make a speech in Philadelphia. He did not make the speech that he made today. And as he said today he chose to go the route of quiet diplomacy, which he thought would be effective. Obviously, it wasn`t and today he chose to speak publicly. If the truth is known, I`m not even sure today whether had he spoke publicly earlier it would have made a difference. We`ll probably never know, which drives me crazy. But, honestly, after what I saw with Build Back Better, which the president publicly championed around the country and talked about nonstop and still had the chair pulled out from under him, I just am not certain it would have made a difference.
But the point is that it`s critical to use all of the presidential power and the bully pulpit is a big part of it. He`s speaking today, to the Senate, to Manchin and Sinema, but also to the broader American public. This is not just about what black people, brown people, civil rights advocates want. This is a democracy moment. And the purpose I think of today was to put it in the context particularly following so closely on his excellent speech about January 6th on the anniversary.
REID: No, indeed. And I think that`s important to make, because its framed as if this is an issue about black people, and it isn`t. Because once you put on the table that you can simply ban groups that you don`t want to vote from voting and use all of these tricks to make it so impossible and so onerous that they can`t vote, that can be used on anybody, right?
Do you think --
IFILL: Well --
REID: Looking back -- well, go on.
IFILL: No, I was just going to say, that`s exactly right, Joy. And that was true long before 2016 when Trump came to power. It was true in 2013, just the timeline, let`s get straight about what happened. The Supreme Court`s decision in the Shelby County versus Holder case, which essentially, you know, struck down that 2006 bipartisan vote to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, at least in regards to Section 5 really was the opening of the floodgates. It suggested now to southern states that had been covered by preclearance and several northern ones as well as the Republican Party that they could have a free-for-all, and they`ve been doing it ever since. And we`ve been sounding the alarm long before Trump came to power.
And we need people to understand this is a democracy issue. This is not a niche issue for black people. So now we`re in a crisis because what they were trying out just on black and brown people, they have now decided to run the tables on the whole nation. So, everyone needs to wake up and say what are you going to do next? I say, what are you going to do? What are you going to do? Because at this point, it`s all hands on deck.
REID: Because if they`re coming for us, they always start with black folks and then come for the rest of you. That is the way it works. They want authoritarian control. They don`t want the vote at all. And I think you all need to wake up to that.
Sherrilyn Ifill, thank you very much. I really appreciate you.
Up next on THE REIDOUT, okay, for the first 75 years of his life, Donald Trump has always managed to stay to stay one step ahead of the law but there are new signs that his luck could be running out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): You`ve advocated your infallible opinion be dictated by law.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: You personally attack me and with absolutely not a shred of evidence of anything you say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Dr. Fauci fends off the Republicans` political attacks as we ask the question how do we keep ourselves safe from the millions of Americans who will never be convinced to get the COVID vaccine.
Plus, I`ll speak to the author of a brand-new book on her belief that the U.S. is moving perilously close to a civil war.
And tonight`s absolute worst, 20 years and four presidents, it remains an American disgrace.
THE REIDOUT continues after this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s nothing wrong with saying that you`ve recalculated.
So, look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
REID: That was Donald Trump`s infamous call with Brad Raffensperger last January, in which he pressured Georgia`s top election officials to fix the vote in his favor.
Notably, Trump asked Raffensperger to find the exact number of votes that he needed to carry the state, a choice of words that President Biden brought up in his speech in Georgia today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He didn`t say, count the votes. He said, find votes that he needed to win.
He failed because of the courageous officials -- Democrats, Republicans -- who did their duty and upheld the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Trump`s call is at the center of an ongoing criminal investigation in that state led by Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis.
Now Rachel Maddow has revealed that, just last month, Trump`s lawyers met in person with the DA`s office. In other words, we might not know exactly what is happening in Georgia, but there`s clearly movement in the case.
That meeting last month they also explained by Trump threw a tantrum last - - just days afterward, when he put out an otherwise inexplicable statement. Trump granted that -- quote -- "All the Democrats want to do is put people in jail. Their DAs, A.G.s, and Dem law enforcement are out of control. This is what happens in communist countries and dictatorships."
Sounds like that meeting didn`t go so well for him.
Let`s remember that, back in October, the Brookings Institution put out a report highlighting a myriad of charges that Trump could soon face, including criminal solicitation to commit election fraud. And now the AP is reporting that a decision on whether to bring charges could come as early as the first half of this year.
Meanwhile, the probe of Trump`s business practices in New York also seems to be a source of heartburn for the Trump family. Yesterday, they filed for an emergency injunction to stop state Attorney General Letitia James from continuing her investigation. They want her to recuse herself.
And if Eric Trump`s whining on FOX News is any indication they are running scared. He was roundly mocked last night for making the laughable claim that it is unconstitutional for the state attorney general to investigate them. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC TRUMP, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: She ran on the campaign promise of suing my father because she didn`t believe in his political party, because she didn`t like us, because the people in Washington, D.C., told her to do that.
It violates the Constitution. It`s unethical. It`s wrong. And you don`t need to take it for me. I mean, listen to the dozens of videos where: I`m going to get him. I`m going to get his children. I`m going to take him down.
This is what you would expect from Russia. This is what you would expect from Venezuela. This is third-rate stuff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Ah, yes, the you can`t sue my dad allegory inside the Constitution. That`s -- it`s a real clause in the Constitution.
In other words -- in other news, I should mention, the January 6 Committee issued three new subpoenas today, which we will get to shortly.
Joining me now, Yamiche Alcindor, anchor and moderator of "Washington Week" on PBS, who will soon be joining NBC News.
Welcome to the family.
And Glenn Kirschner, a former federal prosecutor.
Glenn, I am going to start with you.
Let me play one more little bit of Trump threatening the Georgia secretary of state. This is Brad Raffensperger v. Trump. This is on January 2 of last year.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: And you`ve taken a state that`s a Republican state, and you`ve made it almost impossible for a Republican to win because of cheating, because they cheated like nobody`s ever cheated before.
You know what they did and you`re not reporting it. That`s a criminal offense, and you can`t let that happen. That`s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer. That`s a big risk.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
REID: Glenn, when you look at what Fani Alexander (sic), what A.G. Alexander (sic) is doing in Georgia, does it look to you like -- including meeting in person with Trump`s lawyers, Trump and his lawyers, that they`re -- that she`s building a conspiracy to commit election fraud case?
GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely.
And what a telling clip you just played, Joy, because not only was he trying to corruptly steal the election. He was threatening Georgia`s state election officials with retribution, retaliation if they don`t corruptly throw him the election.
It is mind-boggling, the crimes he committed. But when I heard Donald Trump`s unhinged statement, I believe it was back on December 17, he was lashing out at district attorneys and state attorneys general and Dem law enforcement agencies.
The first thing this old prosecutor heard, and I sent it back then, is somebody just told Donald Trump`s defense team he`s about to be indicted. Let me tell you, these meetings that we have with the defense teams of targets of our grand jury investigations -- I have had many of them myself -- most often we have them in large-scale corruption cases, fraud cases, white-collar cases, not so much in violent crime cases.
But what we do is, right before we take that final trip into the grand jury and ask them to vote on criminal charges and return an indictment, we invite the defense team in. We say, listen, maybe we`re looking at this wrong. If you have any exculpatory evidence, if you have any evidence that could exonerate your client, if we`re barking up the wrong tree, maybe we didn`t hear what we heard on the recorded call with Brad Raffensperger.
Unlikely, but, still, we are inviting you to provide that exonerating information. And then, you know what? We will look at it, and we will assess it before we walk into the grand jury that one last time and ask them to indict Donald Trump.
That likely happened, as we have now seen based on the reporting. That`s what set Trump off. And it feels like the Georgia state prosecutors might be the first ones out of the blocks on the race for justice against Donald Trump.
REID: And it`s very interesting to listen to that, Yamiche, because, in a sense, it`s kind of Merrick Garland`s worst nightmare, right, that prosecutor Fani Willis in Georgia is doing the job that the entire sort of democracy-loving part of this country is throwing up their hands that he isn`t doing.
And so what are kind of the politics around the administration now potentially watching -- let`s just say there is an indictment. The Biden administration, clearly, the Department of Justice, wants no part of what they see as anything that looks like a political prosecution.
It feels like they would run screaming the other way, even though that would seem to be the just result if this man interfered in an election.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, HOST, "WASHINGTON WEEK": Well, look, as you just said, the White House has said over and over again they want to be independent of the Justice Department because of the predecessor, of course, that being Donald Trump, using the Justice Department like his personal attorney.
So, in some cases, Merrick Garland is watching local officials do something that he himself is not doing. But let`s also remember that, at the height of this, we saw local officials. They were the ones that were standing up to Donald Trump. They were the ones who essentially were saving the Republican and saying, we`re not going to do what you said we`re going to do.
So, in some ways, it`s not surprising, when you look at sort of how this has unfolded, how this sort of a bill -- or -- I`m sorry -- I should say this push to try to steal an election unfolded, that it was the Republicans in Georgia who essentially said, stop, I`m recording your calls, I`m not going to be changing votes, we`re going to certify this election.
And let`s think about the fact that Brad Raffensperger had the presence of mind to record this call, because he knew that former President Trump was going to be saying something that was going to be problematic.
And when you listen to this call -- and it had been a while since I listened to it -- but when you listen to this call, it is nothing short of a clear sign from the former president that he wanted them to steal the election. He said, at one point, it`s OK for you to say you have calculated again and found more votes.
As someone who`s from Haitian descent, that is what dictators say. That is what people who are trying to steal an election say to local officials, to say, look, we just need you to tweak these numbers a bit for us.
So, in some ways, I think yes, Merrick Garland is probably looking at this a bit and possibly saying these local officials are moving faster than us. But Merrick Garland has also said he wants to hold people accountable. And you also have to remember that there`s also the January 6 Committee.
They`re also looking at specifically, on one team, local officials being pressured by the White House. But all that is happening while the district attorney in Georgia is saying, well, you guys can all continue to look, but we have hard evidence for this specific situation.
And, Glenn, we have got the -- Bennie Thompson`s committee there. They have committed -- they have issued subpoenas, three new subpoenas. And these are people who are around Donald Trump Jr.
But, very quickly, Lindsey Graham also tried to pressure the Georgia secretary of state to flip the election. We`re talking about whether or not you can subpoena on the Capitol Hill side a United States senator or a United States member of Congress.
Could he wind up in some trouble, because he did it too?
KIRSCHNER: He could.
I`m quite sure DA Fani Willis is investigating this as a conspiracy, not as a stand-alone crime by Donald Trump. We have all seen conspiratorial conduct by any number of politicians, executive branch officials, personalities like Steve Bannon and Roger Stone.
And how can prosecutors not investigate the entire scope of the crime to determine, OK, is it a conspiracy? Was it an agreement between two or more people to commit a particular crime? And did at least one co-conspirator take that overt act?
But when you asked, Joy, about subpoenaing members of Congress, whether they be House members or senators, I hope the House select committee, which I think has been doing bang-up work, I hope they finally take that leap, and they subpoena a Jim Jordan or a Scott Perry or even a Vice President Pence, so we can get that issue decided once and for all, instead of forever hesitating before we act.
REID: Yes, and maybe use some inherent contempt and just use -- flex their power while they still have it.
Yamiche Alcindor, Glenn Kirschner, thank you both very much.
And still ahead: Dr. Anthony Fauci spars with Republican senators in a no- holds-barred hearing on the response to COVID.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Threats upon my life, harassment of my family, and my children with obscene phone calls, because people are lying about me.
So, I asked myself, why would Senator want to do this?
So, go to Rand Paul Web site, and you see fire Dr. Fauci with a little box that says, contribute here. You can do $5, $10, $20, $100.
So, you are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci called out Senator Rand Paul during a congressional hearing today for doing what is clearly the Republican endgame, playing politics with people`s lives.
The harassment of Dr. Fauci by pro-Omicron armchair physicians illustrates what this country is up against, even as public health officials offered grim testimony about what lies ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Omicron is likely not to be the last curveball this virus throws at us.
DR. JANET WOODCOCK, ACTING FDA COMMISSIONER: We do know the tests are picking up Omicron, but right now with less sensitivity than they did some of the other variants.
Most people are going to get COVID, all right? And what we need to do is make sure the hospitals can still function, transportation, other essential services are not disrupted while this happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Well, with U.S. hospitalizations surpassing last winter`s peak, our health care system is once again on the brink, to the point that some health care authorities are forced to make what isn`t even a choice, allowing nurses and other workers infected with COVID to stay on the job if they have mild symptoms or none at all.
Joining now is Dr. Lipi Roy, COVID medical director for Housing Works in New York City.
And I don`t know if people can see that you are wearing a Fauci shirt. I can see it. Oh, there we go.
Dr. Lipi Roy, listen, if we`re at the point where people think the answer to what we`re dealing with in this pandemic is to threaten to kill Dr. Fauci and his family, which is where we are with anti-vax, anti-mask people, and to blame him for creating COVID somewhere in a lab, they think, then I feel like we`re at a point where we`re not having a rational conversation about this pandemic anymore, and where those of us who are rational about it and who don`t want to die from COVID, don`t want to be on a ventilator need to create a life for ourselves that accounts for the people who are refusing to participate in reality, but doesn`t put us at risk to them.
Is there a way to do that, because I`m worried that our hospital systems are literally going to collapse?
DR. LIPI ROY, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, happy -- happy Tuesday and very cold Tuesday to you, Joy.
I watched the hearing that was today, the Senate hearing. And Dr. Fauci being attacked by Senator Rand Paul, it -- I`m shocked that Dr. -- sorry -- that Rand Paul was a former physician, because he does not exude any of the qualities that doctors and nurses possess, empathy, compassion, and a penchant for science and data to drive health care policies.
And for him to go after -- I mean, his insane, atrocious vitriol directed towards a lifetime public servant and a highly trained infectious disease doctor like Dr. Fauci, it actually makes people like me and my fellow health care professionals double down on what we are doing, provide high- quality patient care, provide education and advocacy through articles and op-eds and social media.
It is just making us double down on what we are doing, because it seems like, Joy, the rational folks are becoming the minority. And we are not, actually. We are the majority. We just have to be really loud about it and be advocate and activist about this.
It`s the only way we`re going to get through this pandemic, Joy.
Oh, by the way, just to note, Rand Paul did create his own accreditation. He didn`t get it from like a regular place. He just made up his own, so that he could be accredited as a physician. I wouldn`t let him operate on me if I was desperate.
Let`s talk about what other countries are doing, because, at some point, I feel like people who are willfully unvaccinated, fine, don`t get vaccinated. But they need to start to pay a little bit more of the cost of what this is doing to our system.
There are fines that are -- that are levied in places like Germany. Germany has stopped paying for the tests, the virus tests for people who choose to be unvaccinated. They have ended quarantine pay for those without vaccinations. Ikea, the company, is slashing sick pay for unvaccinated U.K. workers.
If you are a smoker, insurance companies can charge you more. They can charge you a premium, up to 50 percent, and you have to put that on the forum when you apply for insurance.
At some point, don`t we have to make people who are just saying, "I`m willing to take the risk to be unvaccinated, take the risk for me and take the risk for everyone I come in contact with," shouldn`t they have to pay more into the system because they are collapsing our health system?
They`re the ones in the E.R.s. They`re taking it up. If you have a stroke or you have a heart attack, you can`t get in the E.R., because they`re taking up all the beds. So shouldn`t they have to pay more?
ROY: Yes, no, I`m, sadly, aware of what`s happening to hospitals and health care facilities all over the world.
Hospitalizations in the United States increased 30 percent this past week. And what`s happening is that this atrocious strain, this massive strain on hospitals and medical facilities is resulting in hospitals being short- staffed, doctors, nurses getting infected themselves.
They are working long hours. They`re depressed. They`re demoralized. And so there are many possible interventions that we can impose on the people who choose -- continue to choose to be unvaccinated, increased insurance premiums, creating a list -- or a triage list, so when people come to the hospital, maybe one of the first questions we ask is, are you vaccinated, and then that will direct them towards a certain type of care?
ROY: Because we already do that. I can guarantee you, when a patient comes in with shortness of breath, like my dad, he got hospitalized three times the past two years with shortness of breath, but related to his congestive heart failure causing pulmonary edema.
The first question they asked almost every time is, are you a smoker?
ROY: I mean, he`s not. And it didn`t direct the care.
But these are -- there are several things that we can do. But I`m not giving up on the people that remain unvaccinated, Joy. We still need to get them vaccinated. I think we need to find other measures and mandates and other measures to really get them to get vaccinated.
ROY: That`s really, I think, major, Joy.
REID: Mandates. I mean, look, I have given up. I have pretty much -- we -- I mean, listen, I won`t say I have given up.
But I think, at a certain point, we have to prioritize the people have done the right thing for two years, who are exhausted, who are sick of having to accommodate these people who are making other people sick. At a certain point, the people who have done all the right things need to get to be able to live their lives normally.
And if people don`t want to get vaccinated, they need to be willing to kick in and pay for their own risk. You want to take -- you want to jump out of a plane, you pay for that risk. Don`t make the rest of us have to pay for it and lose our health system.
That`s me, not you. I will not put that on you. That`s on me.
Dr. Lipi Roy, thank you very much.
Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is still ahead.
But, first, the Justice Department forms a new unit dedicated to stopping domestic terrorists. Could this help us reverse what feels a lot like a slow slide toward a second civil war?
My next guest has a stark warning for us.
And we will be right back.
MATTHEW OLSEN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, DOJ NATIONAL SECURITY DIVISION: We face an elevated threat from domestic violent extremists.
We have seen a growing threat from those who are motivated by racial animus, as well as those who ascribe to extremist anti-government and anti- authority ideologies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: The number of FBI domestic terror investigations has more than doubled since the spring of 2020.
As a result, the Department of Justice is forming a new domestic terrorism unit to fight the growing threat. The January 6 insurrection last year showed how far some of these extremists are willing to go to overthrow our democratic elections.
And some experts are sounding the alarm that we could be heading toward a second civil war.
Barbara Walter has studied civil wars around the world for 30 years. In her new book, she writes: "It turns out that one of the best predictors of whether a country will experience a civil war is whether it is moving toward or away from democracy."
Joining me now is Barbara Walter, professor of international affairs at the School of Public Policy -- of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego, and the author of the brand-new book "How Civil Wars Start And How to Stop Them."
Very timely that you are here now. You served as a CIA advisory panel member. You monitor countries around the world and predict the ones most at risk of civil war.
The U.S. is now officially listed by a European think tank that studies these things as a backsliding democracy. Does -- how close does that mean that we are in real life to descending into a civil war?
BARBARA F. WALTER, AUTHOR, "HOW CIVIL WARS START": So, between 2017 and 2021, I served on this task force run by the U.S. government.
And our -- it`s called the Political Instability Task Force. And our job was to come up with a predictive model that helped the government predict where around the world political instability and political violence was likely to break out.
And we looked at all sorts of factors. We looked at poverty, income inequality. We looked at how ethnically heterogeneity -- heterogeneous a country was. And only two factors came out significantly predictive. The first is what we call an anocracy. That`s a fancy term for partial democracy. It`s a country that has elements of democracy, but it also has elements of more autocratic government.
The second factor is whether a country`s population has broken down along ethnic, religious and/or racial lines, and have formed a political party or political parties based on identity, rather than ideology.
And, of course, over the last five years, I have been looking at my own country, and, lo and behold, both of these factors have been emerging here. And they have been emerging at a surprisingly fast rate.
I mean, we have always had racial conflict in this country. I mean, the country was built on enslavement and the defense of enslavement, to the point of going to war.
REID: But I can recall, when I was working on my book, the third -- the book I did that was about Trump, talking with South Africans who said their white nationalist party that ruled South Africa for a long time used to channel to Republicans, saying, you need to be the white defense party.
They used to say that in the -- very openly in the 1980s.
REID: And it feels now that the Republicans have taken that advice...
WALTER: Yes. Yes.
REID: ... that they have become the sort of -- the white defense party or the white Christian nationalist party.
REID: Is that a fair statement?
Of the two factors, the most important one, the one that is most heavily linked to the outbreak of political violence, is this ethnic fractionalization. If you have political parties that no longer care about ideology, or that`s not what`s bringing people together, and, instead, it`s race, and not only that, but the party then is looking to gain power to exclude everybody else, that`s where you get violence.
You have seen this in the Philippines, where Muslims in the South, when Catholics started moving in, and they started to lose their majority status, they tried to still compete in a system, but they couldn`t. They didn`t have the numbers.
WALTER: And so they shifted to violence.
If you look at the Assamese in India, as Bengalis started moving into their territory, and they started to become a minority, and what they perceived as their country, their rightful country, they then switched to violence instead. You saw it in Northern Ireland.
You actually -- you see it in -- with the Palestinians and Israel as well. You see this over and over again.
Here in the United States, we`re in the midst of this grand transformation from a white majority country to a white minority country. That`s going to happen around 2045. We`re the first white majority country to go through this transition, but Canada`s going to come after us. New Zealand is going to be next. Australia is going to be next.
And it`s estimated, by 2100, the white majority countries of Europe as well will have transitioned to white minority. And to a subset of the white population here, this is deeply, deeply threatening, and they -- the extremists in that group are willing to turn to violence to maintain their hold on power.
They see the United States as a white Christian country. And they feel like they`re justified to fight to maintain it.
One last thing. We know who tends to start civil wars. Most people think it`s the poorest groups in society...
WALTER: ... or it`s the immigrants or the groups that are most oppressed. They don`t tend to start civil wars.
They are disempowered. It`s very hard for them to start a civil war. The groups that tend to start civil wars are the groups that had once been dominant politically and are in decline. They`re either losing power or they have lost power.
The once powerful groups don`t tend to go down without a fight.
REID: Yes, very brilliantly said.
And I will note "The Washington Post" has a poll saying that one in three Americans say that violence against the government can be justified, citing fears of political schism and the pandemic.
WALTER: Yes. Yes.
REID: And it`s kind of hard to start a white country if you import millions and millions and millions of Africans to do all the work and invade a place that already had lots of millions and millions and millions of indigenous people who weren`t white.
That ain`t a white country, honey.
REID: So, you all started something that you thought you started, and you didn`t.
REID: Barbara Walter, thank you for pointing out all of this. It`s scary. But scaring is caring.
Thank you so much.
And coming up, tonight`s "Absolute Worst," a festering open wound on America`s conscience. You do not want to miss it.
REID: Exactly 20 years ago today -- 20 years ago, four months to the day after 9/11, the first 20 prisoners from the war in Afghanistan arrived at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, but they weren`t ordinary prisoners of war.
The Bush administration labeled them as unlawful combatants, meaning that they had no rights under the Geneva Convention, giving the U.S. carte blanche to torture those detainees. Over the next 20 years, 780 prisoners were detained at Guantanamo,many held indefinitely and facing horrible conditions and human rights abuses.
It came at an estimated cost of $540 million per year; 39 detainees are still there, 13 of them held indefinitely with no charges or plan for release. And the trial against the five men actually accused of planning the 9/11 terrorist attack hasn`t even started.
In fact, that trial is scarred precisely because evidence obtained through the use of torture is not admissible in court. So, why is Guantanamo still open? In 2006, a report showed that 55 percent of those detainees had not even committed hostile acts against the U.S. government.
The U.N. called for the prison to close. And even George W. Bush said that he`d like to close it. Then he changed his mind. Then President Obama took office, winning his election a groundswell of anti-war sentiment. He even made closing Guantanamo one of his first executive orders, saying it would be shut down within one year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We then provide the process whereby Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now.
We are not, as I said in the inauguration, going to continue with a false choice between our safety and our ideals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: But he quickly ran into opposition from both parties and a lot of logistical issues, with Congress literally passing a bill preventing him from transferring any detainees to the United States and blocking the funding to close the gulag that came to be known as Gitmo.
By the end of Obama`s administration, 197 prisoners had left Guantanamo, but the prison remained open. When Trump took over, he rescinded Obama`s executive order and threatened to fill the prison with some bad dudes. But, thankfully, that never materialized.
And now President Biden also has the goal of closing Guantanamo before he leaves office. But, once again, he`s been hamstrung by Congress, with the defense bill continuing to block funding to transfer detainees. And his administration isn`t acting like Guantanamo will close anytime soon. In fact, a brand-new courtroom is being built there.
The fact that Guantanamo is still open after 20 years, with not much to show for it, except for a legacy of torture and abuse, is a national embarrassment.
And that is why Guantanamo Bay and the politicians and officials that have kept it open are tonight`s "Absolute Worst."
And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.