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Transcript: The ReidOut, 1/12/22

Guests: Adam Schiff, Elie Mystal, Heather McGhee


January 6th committee seeks information from House GOP Leader McCarthy; January 6th committee scrutinizing forged slates of electors; McCarthy threatens to punish Democrats if GOP retakes house


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: What`s your favorite hobby about them, film or role because, boy, do we have a big list here around THE BEAT offices.

Now, THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid is up next. Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Hi. I was literally going to go on my phone and try to look it up to see if Javier Bardem -- was he in the film where they said, I drink your milk shake? I drink it up. Was he in that? No.

MELBER: There will be blood.

REID: There will be blood.

MELBER: I don`t remember. I`ll say is that also has very intense performances.

REID: It does. It does. I`m not going to die on the hill of saying he was in that film and it was a really great film and Javier Bardem is great. So, you`re very lucky to have interviewed him. Thank you, Ari, have a good evening.

MELBER: I`ll see you, Joy.

REID: Cheers.

Okay, good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with big news from the select committee. They have officially requested cooperation from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in their investigation of January 6th.

Now, while it`s not a subpoena, it is a necessary step given McCarthy`s extensive communications with Trump, including a phone call while the siege was underway. In fact, McCarthy discussed that call with CBS News in real- time during the attack and he made clear that Trump had to call off the mob.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA) (voice over): I had spoken to the president. I asked him to talk to the nation to tell them stop this. I was very clear with the president when I called him. This has to stop and he has to go to the American public and tell them to stop this.

REPORTER: Leader McCarthy, the president of the United States has a briefing room steps from the Oval Office. It is -- the cameras are hot 24/7, as you know. Why hasn`t he walked down and said that now?

MCCARTHY: I conveyed to the president what I think is best to do and I`m hopeful the president will do it.


REID: Wow. Wow. And yet, the former president allowed that attack to proceed for 187 minutes. It is hard to fathom now but McCarthy even considered asking Trump to resign the presidency just days before the end of his term. McCarthy also claimed that Trump later accepted some responsibility for the insurrection, though Trump never uttered any such thing in public.

All those conversations are of interest to the select committee. And while McCarthy has since reverted back into a Trump apologist, he did say last spring that he would testify if asked.


REPORTER: Would you be willing to testify about your conversation with Donald Trump on January 6th if you were asked by an outside commission?

MCCARTHY: Sure. Next question.


REID: Well, now he`s been asked.

And, you know, this is vitally important because the more that we learn about January 6th, the harder it is to dismiss it as some spontaneous occurrence. Instead, it better resembles a coordinated top-down effort both in public view and behind the scenes.

Now, on the one hand, you had the MAGA shock troops on the ground, the rank and file Trump supporters who were incited to violence in the name of the big lie. They attempted a literally coup by force.

But on the other hand, you had a more subversive effort going on behind closed doors conducted by Trump loyalist like John Eastman, Jenna Ellis and Peter Navarro. They put pen to paper and laid out blueprints to overthrow electoral system itself.

We`re now learning more about how those schemes were supposed to work thanks to some reporting in Politico that got a lot of attention this week. Namely, we learn that the committee is scrutinizing forged election documents submitted by Republican in Michigan and Arizona declaring Trump and Pence the winners of those states even though they lost. That`s right, Trump supporters in those states literally forged official documents to try to pass them off as legitimate.

The truth is, however, that this exact same thing happened in a total of seven states. And those fake election certificates are now getting renewed attention. In addition to Michigan and Arizona, Republicans did this in Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Without any legal authority, they tried to award their state`s electoral votes to Trump instead of Biden.

And thanks to the watchdog group, American Oversight, we have copies of the phony electoral votes certificate that they have submitted. In some cases, the forge documents appear to have been signed by committee members of the state`s Republican Party, sometimes even by the chairperson.

What they attempted sure does looks like a clear case of fraud, but, notably, they have faced no consequences for their actions. And what`s more curious is that these fake electoral slates played a huge role in Trump`s efforts to short circuit our democracy. In fact, they were crucial to Trump`s plan to have Mike Pence contest the results before Congress on January 6th. And we know that because the now infamous memos drafted by Trump Lawyers John Eastman and Jenna Ellis both cited these dubious election documents as the basis for throwing out the legitimate votes from those states.


It suggests that maybe this was part of a more coordinated top-down effort that maybe these state Republicans got some direction from on high.

Now, last night, the brilliant Rachel Maddow uncovered another rather suspicious detail about these fake election documents. She not only noticed that the forgeries looked noticeably different than their authentic counterparts but that five of the forgeries were nearly identical to one another.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: All the real certificates of electors from the states, they`re all different, they`re all unique. Every states are a little different. They all have their little own quirks, their on fancy or not fancy paper and decorations and seals, contrast that with the forged Republican documents. Look at them. They all match exactly, same formatting, same font, same spacing, almost the exact same wording, all of them.

This would, therefore, appear to be some kind of a coordinated effort.


REID: Joining me now is Congressman Adam Schiff of California, he`s a Member of the House Select Committee on the January 6th attack and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman Schiff, thank you so much for being here. It`s always great to talk with you.

I want to start on that point. Because I think what shocks me most about what appears to have been a coordinated attempt to submit false slates of electors to the National Archives and submit to Congress so that Mike Pence would act on them is what seems to me to be outright sort of an open fraud has seen no reaction, there`s been no consequence for that. Is that attempted submission of fraudulent electoral slate, is that part of the January 6th investigation.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, I can`t comment on these particular documents, at least in terms of the committee`s possession. I can`t say that, yes, every line of effort to overturn the election is within the scope of our investigation.

And I think it`s really important to underscore, as you have tonight, that it wasn`t just about January 6th. January 6th was just one part of a broader plan to overturn the election. That involved, according to public reports, these fraudulent certificates of electors that involved efforts in places like Georgia to get the secretary of state to find 11,780 votes that don`t exist, it involve pressure on local election officials in places like Michigan on state legislators and places like Pennsylvania.

So, there was a comprehensive effort, multiple-pronged effort, including bogus litigation to try to overturn the election. And what we are doing on the committee is piecing this together and seeing whether there was potentially overall organization or whether these were independent lines of effort. That`s really one of our key focuses and so -- yes?

REID: Well, put on your prosecutor hat for me, if you could for a moment. Just excise that idea of putting forward fake, you know, slates of electors and attempting to submit them as real when they`re literally fraudulent. Should that be a prosecutable crime? Should the Justice Department be looking at that as a separate crime?

SCHIFFF: I think the Justice Department should be investigating whether this was an act of fraud or attempted fraud, absolutely. And, similarly, I think the Justice Department should be looking at the effort in Georgia, to get the secretary of state of Georgia to find votes that don`t exist.

And, you know, the one concern I had listening to Merrick Garland the other day was while he talked about January 6th and holding people accountable whether they were on the ground participating in that insurrection or not is the focus was on January 6th and that`s important but there are all these other elements too. If there was ever to defraud the voters to Georgia or defraud the voters in these other states through these fraudulent certificates and there was a willful intent to do so, then it may very well be prosecutable offenses.

REID: And we know that at least two elected officials elected at the time and currently elected attempted to pressure the Georgia secretary of state to essentially falsely overturn the election and those two people were Donald Trump and Lindsey Graham. And so we`re starting to skate into this territory where it`s kind of hard to avoid the elected officials who were involve. One of them -- let`s go into Kevin McCarthy for just a moment, because he has some involvement as well.

I just want to put up for our audience just a very quick timeline, and if you want to comment on Senator Graham too, but you can do that as well, but let`s just go to Kevin McCarthy for a minute. We played a little bit earlier what Kevin McCarthy was saying in real-time. It was very clear that he was like this needs to stop and it needs to be Trump who stops it.


On January 6th, he said, I was very clear with the president when I called this has to stop. Okay, he needs to tell the people, stop this. Then on January 13th, one week later, he gets on the House floor and says, the president bears responsibility, also accurate. But then one week later, he tells reporters the opposite, I don`t believe that Trump provoked the insurrection. Suddenly he changes his mind. He then does an interview and then says, well, everybody bears responsibility. That was on the 24th of January.

Now we get to January 28th. Now he goes down to Mar-a-Lago, which Adam Kinzinger has said was where he resurrected Donald Trump from the dead. And then by April 25th, he was on Fox News Sunday and saying that Trump didn`t even see what was happening, and that when he did, he put up a video. He completely changed his story.

It seems to me that talking to him would be very important for the committee. At this point, it`s a letter, it`s a request. At what point does that request become a subpoena for the House minority leader.

SCHIFF: Well, first of all, you`re absolutely right. It is very important, his testimony is very important. He was on the phone with the president in real-time while this was going on. And what we have in his public accounts largely is what he claims to have told the president. What we don`t have is what did the president say. While he was telling the president he needed to do this or he needed to do that, to call off his attackers, what was the president saying on the other end? Another -- some indications of that from other members of Congress in terms of what McCarthy related to them about his conversation with the president.

But he`s a key witness for we have not reached a decision with respect to McCarthy, who we just reached out to today, excuse me, or any of the other witnesses what the repercussion would be if they refuse, but we`re going to have to make that decision very soon.

REID: I`m going to give you a chance to sip some water and -- I had the same thing happen to me yesterday, so I can totally relate. Because here is the challenge with Kevin McCarthy, he has a very clear conflict of interest here. He wants to be speaker. He needs the support of the sedition caucus in order to become speaker. He would need their votes if, in fact, the House went to a Republican majority. He has, in trying to curry favor with those people, has promised to do things like strip you of your committee chairmanships, go after Ilhan Omar`s committee assignments, to try to do to them what was done to people who have flagrantly violated the rules of the House of Representatives. He`s sort of trolling you all, including yourself. So, he has no incentive to cooperate with your committee. He`s already said, I`m going to come in here and I`m going to troll Adam Schiff if I get the gavel. Don`t you have to go right to a subpoena to make him comply and then enforce it, because he`s not going to voluntarily comply?

SCHIF: Our practice, which we`re going to follow here too, with members is to seek their voluntarily cooperation first and then determine what steps are necessary if they don`t. But, look, he said he would testify earlier.

Now, Kevin McCarthy is anything, if not, inconsistent so he could speak a different tune right now but he has clearly important information for the committee, firsthand conversations with the president of the United States in real-time.

The House has the capability of essentially running its own affairs and that includes disciplining its own members. And so we have different tools with respect to House members than we do for example with a Steve Bannon or Mark Meadows. But we have made no decision yet which of those two to use but we are certainly actively considering and discussing these issues.

REID: And just from the standpoint of getting to the truth here, are you concerned that if the House cannot compel members, like Kevin McCarthy, up to an including Kevin McCarthy but also other member who might have been involve to comply, and you can`t compel them to give testimony before the committee, that there will be no way in the end to hold responsible the people at the upper end of this conspiracy, up to and include Donald Trump, that there will be no way to hold anybody accountable if you cannot get that compliance?

SCHIFF: Look, you know, we`re using every method we can to try to get information from multiple sources. So, the best source would be a conversation between McCarthy and Trump would be McCarthy and Trump. But there are other people that McCarthy described as conversations too that we will try to get through those means.

I think that given the level of cooperation we`re getting, we`re going to be able to compile a pretty impressive report what happened.


There, maybe some, who can successfully delay and thwart accountability, but we are going to use every tool that we can.

There are particularly considerations, which is different from each witness, they`re House members, there are some considerations with people like Sean Hannity who was quasi journalist role on Fox. There are some considerations with other others who are attorneys, there are other considerations like Giuliani. But, nonetheless, we are making every effort with great urgency to get to the truth of all of this.

The final point I would make to get to your comments earlier, McCarthy is a very weak leader. He really is dependent on the QAnon conference, or based within his conference. And he -- you know, as he demonstrated with the capitulation with to Trump after the insurrection will do whatever he thinks will advance his ambition. That`s who we`re dealing with and I think we recognize it and we`re just going to have to figure out the best way of securing his cooperation and barring that now whether there is an adequate plan B.

REID: Indeed. I think the worst-case scenario for American democracy would be to have people who were complicit in the insurrection or who stood aside and let it happen and were willing to condone it in charge of the House of Representatives. It`s hard to imagine but it`s unfortunately something we have to imagine.

Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you very much. We really appreciate you being here tonight.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, the almost impressive shamelessness of Mitch McConnell`s attack today on President Biden.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): He shouted that if you disagree with him, you`re George Wallace. George Wallace? You don`t pass the laws he wants, you`re Bull Connor.


REID: Mitch, please. You aren`t always so indignities about being tied to the old south. So, what happened?

Plus, how Ron DeSantis personifies America`s dystopian future, the whole county becomes Florida if Republicans return to power.

And there is a new round of COVID quackery, including an anti-vaxxer promoting a fake COVID cure that`s even weirder than cow de-wormer.

And while he`s not tonight`s absolute worst, the person who is inspired a really impressive string of curse words and they`re all pretty much accurate.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.




SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Yesterday, he invoked the bloody disunion of the Civil War, the Civil War, to demonize Americans who disagree with him. He compared -- listen to this -- a bipartisan majority of senators to literal traitors.

How profoundly, profoundly unpresidential.


REID: Addison Mitchell McConnell III, the Senate minority leader, had some thoughts and feelings about President Biden`s speech laying out the stakes for our democracy if the Senate cannot move forward on voting rights legislation by doing away with the filibuster.

Apparently, old Mitch is so offended that he and his party would be compared to George Wallace and Jefferson Davis.

Weirdly, he didn`t have a problem back in the `90s posing for a photo in front of a giant Confederate Flag. Mitch also wasn`t offended in 1993 as he supported notoriously racist North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms` attempt to protect the United Daughters of the Confederacy`s patent on a symbol including the Confederate Flag, over the objection of the Senate`s only black woman member at the time, Illinois Senator Carol Moseley Braun.


MCCONNELL: The Civil War happened. It`s part of our history.

I revere those forefathers of mine, not because I approve of slavery, but they did what they thought was appropriate in their time. And so I do not feel we should deny this patent to the United Daughters of the Confederacy.


REID: Yes, he reveres his slave owning progenitors. That`s so cute.

Thankfully, Helms` amendment was killed back then. So, why now does the Confederacy comparison have so much outrage for Mitch and that he`d stick his neck out today and primal scream?

Why? Because getting rid of the Jim Crow relic would neutralize the greatest power that he`s had in the Senate, both as minority and majority leader, obstruction. This is the same Mitch McConnell under whose leadership the use of filibusters skyrocketed. The numbers soared in 2013, as Republicans launched a blockade of President Obama`s judicial nominees.

It was Republicans` pervasive obstruction that led Harry Reid to change the Senate rules to confirm President Obama`s non-judicial nominations by a majority vote, over Mitch`s hypocritical protests.

Then Mitch turned right around when he became majority leader and used the nuclear option to add an exception to the filibuster to pack the Supreme Court with right-wing members, but only after he stole a seat by refusing to give President Obama`s nominee, Merrick Garland, even a hearing in 2016, and bragging to the folks back home that it was his proudest moment telling Obama that he would not get to fill the vacancy.

So let`s just be clear. Mitch McConnell has no, zero, zip, none, no moral authority to whinge about breaking the Senate. Spare me your outrage, Mitch, because, if anyone has broken the Senate, it`s you.

Joining me now, Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for "The Nation," and Heather McGhee, board chair of Color of Change and author of "The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together."

And, Elie Mystal, I have pretty much been waiting since the moment that I heard Mitch open his mouth to hear what you had to say about it.


The floor is yours, my friend.

ELIE MYSTAL, "THE NATION": I`m reminded of a Chris Rock joke when the "Seinfeld" guy was caught saying the N-word, and they were saying, oh, the "Seinfeld" guy isn`t racist.

And Chris Rock said, what does a person have to do to be racist in this country, shoot Medgar Evers? What did -- these people, Mitch McConnell and his party, are standing in opposition to the Voting Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act being the most important piece of legislation in American history, the literal only statute we have ever had to make the 15th Amendment real, thus make the only -- the only statute we have ever had to make the African-American participation in the polity real.

These people stand against it. What do they want me to call them? I will call -- I will call them whatever they want me to call. They want me to want to call them like modern-day white Confederate -- white supremacists, neo-Confederate? Like, whatever word they want, I will use.

But what we`re not going to do, what we`re not going to do is pretend that they`re reasonable. What we`re not going to do is pretend that they have values, because what they are trying to do is exactly what white supremacists have tried to do in this country for the entire history ever.

Remember, people like Mitch McConnell are as American as apple pie. Denying black people`s full and equal participation in this country is as American as apple pie. It`s -- he`s making an American argument. It`s just a dumb, racist one. And I don`t see why he -- I don`t -- and I don`t understand what other word he would like me to use to describe his alliance with racist policies.

REID: You know, Heather, the fascinating thing about Mitch McConnell is, firstly, he`s completely shameless. And he`s completely ruthless. Back in the `90s, in `93, he said, I admire my slaveholding ancestor. They did what they had to do.

And that seems to be his policy as well. When he needs to break the Senate so that he can get control of Supreme Court, he breaks the Senate. When he needs to pretend that he hates the idea of ending the filibuster, he switches and he says that.

Isn`t it the case right now that the reason Mitch McConnell came out and gave what I just believed was simply a performance, the reason he gave that performance and pretended -- this is somebody who never said that Donald Trump was unpresidential, but the reason he said that about President Biden is because what he`s afraid of is that, if the rules are changed, he won`t be able to use the power that he`s used so ruthlessly over time, and that, if people get to vote and get access to the vote, he might never get the gavel back?

Isn`t -- is that the way you read it?


I mean, the Senate is already rigged. It`s been rigged from the beginning to be sort of an affirmative action for white rural people, right? Why is it that people like Joe Manchin and the great people of Montana and North Dakota, bless their hearts, have the same legislative efficacy as the millions more people in our more populous states, right?

You have already got that imbalance created. And on top of that, you have all of these rules, these backdoor chamber rules that have been exploited by Mitch McConnell better than any other single senator in history, in the name of ensuring a supermajority requirement to pass legislation, and in the name of ensuring minority rule in this country.

If you think about who supports all of the Democrats` agenda, those Democratic senators are representing 40 million more Americans than are the Republicans who are opposing, for example, voting rights legislation, which is popular not just in the majority of the United States Senate, by a clear majority, but also in the majority of the United States.

But that`s always been the fight, right? As Elie says so beautifully all the time, it`s always been the fight. Are we going to have a multiracial democracy in this country or not? And, in my book, I argue that that fight, that central, animating fight has been one that has swept everyone who doesn`t have a lot of money and a lot of power into the margins of our democracy, because let`s be clear.

What does Mitch McConnell want? He doesn`t want black folks to vote. He doesn`t want young folks to vote. But he doesn`t really care if that many people vote at all. As long as the fundamental questions of who decides what`s going on in our economy, how the bread is buttered, how -- who gets paid back in terms of the donor class, as long as that is still in the hands of a narrow white elite, he will be happy.

REID: Yes.

But you know who else he doesn`t want to vote? Poor white folks, because they don`t vote. People, if you try to hang Trump on them, poor white people don`t vote. And you know what you have a lot of in Kentucky? A lot of poor white people.

Let`s play Vice President Kamala Harris, one of the people who would have surprised Mitch`s ancestors greatly with her presence as vice president.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we have the discussion about who`s responsible, I will not absolve the 50 Republicans in the United States Senate from responsibility for upholding one of the most basic and important tenets of our democracy, which is free and fair elections and access to the ballot for all eligible voters.


CRAIG MELVIN, "THE TODAY SHOW": What about Senator Manchin? What about Senator Sinema?

HARRIS: I don`t think anyone should be absolved from the responsibility of preserving and protecting our democracy.


REID: Elie, the hypocrisy of saying that the Senate isn`t broken -- that`s the other thing Mitch said today -- when let`s just look at this.

Between 2005 and 2006, there were 68 filibusters used in the United States Senate. While he was majority, minority leader in 2013 to 2014, there were 252. And they just escalated and escalated and escalated from there. They jumped up into the hundreds during President Obama`s term because of Mitch McConnell.

The Senate is broken. And the idea -- what do you make of this sort of fear that people like Mitt Romney are putting forward that, oh, my goodness, if you get rid of the filibuster, it will wreck the place or Mitch McConnell threatening to bring everything to a halt?

Isn`t everything already broken and halted?

MYSTAL: Yes, the fearmongering about the filibuster from the Mitt Romneys and the Mitch -- and the Joe Manchins of the world is just historically wrong.

The filibuster is not in the Constitution. It`s not a constitutional principle. It has not always been here. And, critically -- and I have written about this -- I wrote about this a year ago. I have written about this a lot. The issue that we have right now is that we have a procedural filibuster, as opposed to a talking filibuster, right?

Back in the day, when the filibuster was still doing its work of propping up segregation, you basically had to earn it. You had to stand up. It`s the Jimmy Stewart. You have to stand up. You have to hold the floor. And they changed that rule.

Democrats, in fact, changed that rule to make it a legislative, all you have to do is kind of check a box, and you don`t have to earn it. I have yet to hear a Joe Manchin or Mitt Romney to explain to me intellectually, why -- screw taking away the filibuster. We`re not going to do that.

Why going back to the filibuster that we had in the 1970s...

REID: Right.

MYSTAL: ... why going back to a talking filibuster is somehow worse than the current legislative filibuster.

Now, Joy, as you know, Joe Manchin does not take my calls. He does not go on your show.

REID: Won`t come on.

MYSTAL: Joe Manchin will not defend himself to the people that he is unwilling to defend.


MYSTAL: But if one of these other reporters could please just once ask Manchin why the talking filibuster is bad, but the legislative filibuster is good, I would like to hear his answer.

REID: I would like to hear it too.

Elie and Heather sticking around, because, up next, going to Florida. Florida Governor and perennial "Absolute Worst" candidate Ron DeSantis is giving us a sneak peek at what`s in store for the rest of us if Republicans regain control in Washington. It`s, frankly, a straight-up nightmare scenario, all in the name of his twisted version of freedom.

Stay with us.




GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Together, we have made Florida the freest state in these United States.


DESANTIS: Florida has stood as freedom`s vanguard. Florida is a free state. Florida has stood strong as the rock of freedom. Freedom works. Our rock of freedom. And be thankful that God has blessed us to live and serve in America`s liberty outpost, the free state of Florida.


REID: Ron DeSantis sure loves to talk about freedom, especially the kind that risks the health of people in his own state, who have essentially been part of a giant natural herd immunity experiment for the past two years, whether they want to be or not.

He used his state of the state address yesterday to brag about how he hadn`t implemented lifesaving COVID restrictions, entirely ignoring Florida`s skyrocketing COVID-19 cases and historic death count, as if more COVID was always the goal.

And it`s only getting worse. A new report states that 80 percent of Floridians will likely contract Omicron at this rate, which, of course, means more customers for Ron`s top donor`s miracle cure. Yay.

But DeSantis` zeal for freedom weirdly disappears when it comes to free speech, the right to protest, and the culture wars, like when he called on the legislature to pass a law allowing parents to sue teachers that they think are teaching Critical Race Theory.

And, today, DeSantis said that he`d signed an abortion bill modeled after the draconian Mississippi law that`s currently before the Supreme Court, outlawing abortions after 15 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. So, not so much freedom for teachers or protesters or women in the free state of Florida.

And if you`re not already convinced that Republicans suppressing the vote and taking over the country would seriously harm our democracy,look no further than Ron DeSantis` Florida, what some people call DeSantistan, an authoritarian harbinger of what`s to come for all of us if Republicans take over this country in total.

Back with me, Elie Mystal and Heather McGhee.

Heather, let`s talk about this abortion ban in Florida. This feels like the Supreme Court opened the door and Ron DeSantis is running through it.

MCGHEE: That`s right.

According to NARAL, there are 15 states that are currently considering these types of draconian abortion bans, even though 80 percent of this country believes that people should have a right to a legal and safe abortion.

This is the kind of dystopia that has been cooked up in the backrooms of elite Republican donors and is in copycat legislation across the country, whether it`s the attacks on honest education, letting parents sue teachers and librarians for daring to assign Toni Morrison in schools, or deconstruct Martin Luther King`s "I Have a Dream" speech, or use a Ruby Bridges` children`s book to teach elementary school students about the bravery of a 6-year-old girl.

I mean, this is the kind of dystopia that is the core of the Republican agenda. And it`s because they don`t have an economic agenda. They don`t have an answer for climate change, clean air and clean water. They don`t have an answer for how they`re going to build a strong middle class, bring jobs home.


All of it is about these culture wars that are about dividing and conquering. And the scary thing is, because of the long history of this and the mismatch of the sort of echo chamber, we are seeing it work in places like Florida, seeing it work in places like Arizona, and increasingly in places like Virginia.

And so Democrats have to be very, very, very strong about making sure that we have a representative democracy, that we make sure that the economic agenda that can actually deliver for the American people isn`t stonewalled and filibustered and prevented from changing the real odds here in this upcoming midterm.

REID: No, indeed. I mean, it`s sort of turning all of the country into Mississippi and Texas, and Florida`s right along the way.

I mean, the thing about it is, Elie, is that, because the Supreme Court has done a, I don`t know, we can`t do anything about it, so they have taken that attitude because they`re getting what they want ideologically, a state like Florida can literally create an ideological police state.

You can`t protest there. As Heather just said, you can`t teach Ruby Bridges` book. You can get sued for assigning books. The librarians are scared. He`s created a fear base among everyone who isn`t his ideological match.

So, if you`re a right-winger who wants "The Handmaid`s Tale," you`re free. But that`s a weird kind of freedom. Isn`t this a consequence of essentially the Supreme Court -- and you have warned about this a lot -- taking a hands-off approach to the kind of ideological attacks that Republicans have unleashed against everyone but them?

MYSTAL: When the Supreme Court rolls with what`s called federalism, which is the idea that the states should have broad authority to kind of do whatever they want within their borders, there are a lot of people who think of that as a reasonable outcome.

There are a lot of people who are center/center-left people who think that it`s fine for the states to choose for themselves and that, really, if I`m a Northeastern liberal, whatever. Who cares about Florida? Who cares about Mississippi? I live in New York. I live in California. I`m going to be fine.

And there are a couple of real deep problems with that. One of them is that most African-Americans in this country still live in the states where their ancestors were enslaved. Right? If you look at the top states of African- American population, by population, you will see Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida.

Like, those are the states. It ain`t California. It ain`t New York. It ain`t Minnesota. It`s these states.

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: So, when these Republicans, as you saw -- I don`t know if you saw Marjorie Taylor Greene yesterday was just like, we just want a civil divorce from the rest of the country.

When these states, when these white people in these states are talking about leaving, they`re talking about leaving and taking their black people with them, just like before.

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: I know that`s going to hurt Ron DeSantis`s fee-fees that I`m making this analogy or comparison between what they`re doing now and what their ancestors did when they owned people. But it`s the same thought process, that these states and these polities exists -- polities exists for the benefits of the white cis hetero males in charge.

And it`s not free for anybody else, not for the black people, not for the brown people, not for the women, in these states. And so we can`t, as liberals, we can`t, as left-of-center people, just consign the South to its white supremacist fate, because we cut off our left hand when we do that.

We have to fight for these people.

REID: Yes.

MYSTAL: And that means that we have to fight the Supreme Court and fight their interpretations of federalism.

REID: Yes, indeed.

And, as you said, that`s where...


REID: Oh, very quickly, go ahead.

MCGHEE: We have to expand the Supreme Court.

REID: Yes.

MCGHEE: We have got -- it was a stolen court. We have got to expand the Supreme Court.

REID: Yes.

And amen, amen. You`re not going to get anything but an amen here on this panel.

Elie Mystal, Heather McGhee, thank you both very much.

And don`t go anywhere. Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is up next. And if you are not sure whether to laugh or cry on this one, you are not alone, my friend.

We will be right back.



REID: You know how anti-vaxxers love to say not getting the shot is a personal choice, it doesn`t affect anyone else, so mind your own business and leave me alone?

Well, it doesn`t really work that way. Enter tennis star Novak Djokovic of Serbia. He is the world`s top-ranked men`s tennis player. He`s also unvaccinated. And that very fact is causing quite the headache for Melbourne, where he`s currently staying ahead of the Australian -- where he`s currently staying ahead of the Australian Open.

For travel in and out of Australia, travelers must provide proof of vaccination. But the tennis star`s positive diagnosis in December earned him an exception. That did not go over to well among many Australians who saw the exemption as a form of special treatment for a celebrity.

The Australian government stepped in, and Djokovic was detained in a hotel, before a judge ordered his release. He still faces deportation. Now, he`s admitted that a travel document that he presented last week contained false information. And, of course, he blamed his agent for that.

He also confessed to doing an interview and a photo shoot last month in Serbia while knowingly COVID-positive.

Now, do I need to save the obvious? Stay away from this man. But not everyone has that choice. In an Instagram post today, Djokovic discussed going to a basketball game in December after which people tested positive.

Days later, he made the stunning decision to attend an event to present awards to children. He said he had a negative rapid antigen test before this event, but he was notified his PCR test was positive after the event.

What perhaps best sums up this fiasco and how Australians feel about it is how this off -- this mic -- this off-mic moment between Australian TV anchors that went viral today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whatever way you look at it, Novak Djokovic is a lying, sneaky (EXPLETIVE DELETED) hole.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got a bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED) excuse and then fell over his own (EXPLETIVE DELETED) lies.


REID: Here looking for the lie. I`m looking for the lie, the lie. Can`t find the lie.

Their network said an investigation is under way to look into how that exchange wound up online.

Meanwhile, pro-vaxxer radio personality Howard Stern also went viral for sharing his take, calling Djokovic selfish, among other things.



HOWARD STERN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The first I heard of this guy is that he doesn`t want to get his vaccine and he`s running around. Nobody`s clear what his status -- they should throw him right the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of tennis. That`s it. Goodbye.

Well, that`s like saying smoking is a private decision. Well, that`s true, but don`t smoke in my face (EXPLETIVE DELETED) nut. What a dummy.



REID: So, yes, selfish people Howard Stern calls F-nuts who don`t care about spreading COVID are definitely the "Absolute Worst."

And when we come back, we will talk about what the rest of us can do about it.


REID: Omicron now accounts for 98 percent of all COVID infections, which explains why health experts are calling this wave a virus blizzard.

The good news? President Biden announced his administration will distribute millions of free COVID-19 tests to schools across the country. And CDC Director Rochelle Walensky reported that a new study out of California shows that the Omicron variant appears to be less severe than other variants.


That kind of news has left many people wondering if it`s such a big deal if we get Omicron. Well, this morning, the conservative opinion section of "The Wall Street Journal" posted a piece suggesting that we should maybe speed up the spread by getting rid of masks and social distancing.

To make some sense of it all, we`re joined now by Dr. Vin Gupta, MSNBC medical contributor and affiliate assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

So, let me just go ahead and ask you that question, because I even have people around -- I have heard people say this that I know that I think I`m pretty smart, saying, listen, we`re all going to get Omicron anyway. Since it`s the less severe one, maybe we should just all get it and get it over with.

Is that medically sound?


I don`t believe it is. I do think that we still need to be careful with a virus that, frankly, we only known for six weeks, Joy. And, frankly, it also causes a higher viral load in the nose and the throat. There`s some studies suggesting that maybe it doesn`t cause as high of a viral load in the lungs.

But I still think there`s still yet a lot to be determined, 10,000 Americans still dying week over week well into the beginning of February. So, this is still a very uncertain phase here. I would not recommend that you go out and just expose yourself.

REID: Yes.

GUPTA: Vaccination is still the key to getting out of this.

REID: I`m with you.

There`s also a sort of -- I feel like I know more people that have gotten Omicron than don`t have COVID. I mean, it`s like wildfire. It`s spreading like measles or something. And so you`re starting to see on the anti-vax side the reaction to that being to go even deeper into the weird well.

There`s a guy who is now out there saying that people should drink their own urine to fight COVID. You have Herschel Walker, who used to be a great football player, but now he`s promoting a mist, like, spray a mist, that he said would kill any COVID on your body, like, like Axe Body Spray or something to pour -- to spray it on yourself. He wants to be a senator.


REID: What do you make of the fact that people are going deeper into the weirdness, rather than just get the damn shot?

GUPTA: Right.

Yes, I wish I could explain it.


GUPTA: But I do see senators like Senator Rand Paul giving it cover.

And it`s distracting, frankly, from the fact that I know a lot of people said, hey, Doc, I don`t feel comfortable getting the vaccine. We have a conversation, but they are, for whatever reason, uncomfortable getting the Pfizer oral antiviral pill if they needed it, which is -- which is interesting logic.

But we should be talking about that. We should be talking about making sure people have awareness of this antiviral pill, that they have access. Go to If you have questions, if you`re high risk, and you`re wondering, well, where can I get access, actually now provides at the street level, Joy, where you can get information on access, your local drugstore.

So that`s where we should be pivoting this conversation to. That`s what Senator Rand Paul and others should be talking about, Herschel Walker, where you can get these effective therapeutics that people -- that can help people stay out of the hospital.

REID: Yes.

Yes, don`t listen to Rand Paul for any medical advice. Trust me. Don`t do it.

I`m a little frustrated with the CDC. I`m just going to be honest. Every time they say something, I just get annoyed. I get agita, because I feel like they keep changing things so much that it`s hard to keep up.

At this point, you, to me, make more sense than they do. I would just -- rather just ask you. Should we be switching -- I use a KN95 mask. I have N95 masks, but I keep them for getting on planes. And I no longer use the hospitaly ones. I just use the KN95s?

Should we be using KN95 masks or N95 masks now?

GUPTA: I see no reason why not, Joy.

And this is why I think this is going to be an individual decision. But, yes, let`s take tuberculosis as an example. I`m a pulmonary doc. T.B. has long been known as an airborne transmitted virus.

What does that mean? That means that it gets transmitted through very tiny droplets in the air, less than 0.5 microns. I won`t go into what that means. Very small.

That`s what we think Omicron, Delta, that`s exactly what they`re doing. They`re becoming more airborne. How do you protect against that? A better mask.

Some people are going to say, you know what, I want the best protection possible on a flight or going to the grocery store. That`s what better masks do. They protect you against airborne transmitted viruses, which this virus is becoming more and more of.

So, yes, absolutely. Go find yourself a KN95, a KF94, an N95, because you can get the proper fit. The big difference there is, you have bands behind your head.

REID: Yes.

GUPTA: It`s a little tighter fit, a little bit more uncomfortable. I have to wear it for my shift.

But this is also why -- a quick plug for Senator Sanders.

REID: Yes.

GUPTA: He introduced legislation today that would make available very -- at subsidized costs free N95s or heavily subsidized for every American household.

REID: They should give them free.


REID: Very quick, very quick, what`s the difference between the antigen test and the other test? Which test is the better test? Which ones should we be using, the antigen or the -- the other one?



GUPTA: So, the PCR -- so, I like the antigen tests.

They are so -- they still have high sensitivity. They will detect if you are infectious to other people. We have to move towards a different sense of normal, Joy.

REID: Yes.

GUPTA: They will detect if you`re infectious, if you`re also positive.

And that`s really the key the point here, as we transition to a new normal.

REID: OK, thank you very much. Appreciate you.

Dr. Vin Gupta, thank you very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

REID: That is tonight`s REIDOUT.