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Transcript: The ReidOut, 1/18/22

Guests: Barbara McQuade, Tim O`Brien, LaTosha Brown, Cory Booker, Janai Nelson, Kersey Winfree


January 6 committee subpoenas four Trump allies. January 6 committee subpoenas Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell and Boris Ephsteyn, January 6 committee accuses four Trump allies of attempts to disrupt or delay the certification of election results. Senate debates voting rights bills; McConnell downplays new voting restrictions, says Democrats are trying to break the Senate. Florida Governor DeSantis proposes special police agency to monitor elections.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That`s our final word tonight. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid starts now. Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing, Ari. A fitting ending. Stevie Wonder is one of the truly, truly great men in this country. Thank you very much. I really appreciate you. Have a great evening.

All right, everybody, good evening. We begin THE REIDOUT with breaking in the investigation of January 6th. Just hours ago, the select committee issued subpoenas to four of Donald Trump`s most prominent lawyers, aides and advisers, all of whom set the stage for his attempted coup. They include Trump Attorney Jenna Ellis, Trump Legal Adviser Sidney Powell and senior Trump Campaign Aide Boris Ephsteyn. But marquee name tonight Rudy Giuliani, Trump`s infamous T.V. lawyer and the former New York mayor, who is also under federal investigation for his dealings in Ukraine.

All four of tonight`s subpoena targets are responsible for the big lie that continues to threaten the very foundations of our democracy. Together, they pedaled that lie to amass audience, saturating the air waves of conservative media with unproven and often false claims that the election was stolen. And so doing, they not only rallied the Trump faithful to take action, they also laid the groundwork for more sophisticated plot to subvert the election. That plot was outlined by Jenna Ellis in a secret memo urging Mike Pence to reject the electors from six states because she falsely claimed their results were in dispute.

No surprise, the committee has indicated tonight Ellis` memo will be a subject in her deposition. They`re also interested in phone call between Boris Ephsteyn and Trump on the morning of January 6th, where options were discussed to delay the certification of election results in light of Pence`s unwillingness to deny or delay certification. Additionally, Ephsteyn and Giuliani both took part in the so-called war room meetings at the Willard Hotel.

Joining me now is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney, and Tim O`Brien, Senior Columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, and Glenn Kirschner, former Federal Prosecutor.

Let`s just jump right into this. I`m going to start with you Barbara. So, we have what really does look like a conspiracy sort of layout here in terms of what the January 6th committee is asking for where you have all of these numerous groups that seem to be honing in on these false electors. We know false electors were submitted. We know Mike Pence refused to certify them and ignored them and even spoke to it on the floor of the United States Senate. What do you make of these requests and who they`re specifically asking to talk to?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, I think we`ve seen that the January 6th committee has a various teams that are going after different aspects of the Stop the Steal movement. You`re looking at what happened today Capitol that day. But this is the one that actually goes to that higher level. And that`s why I think it`s so interesting. Boris Ephsteyn was -- the letter says to him was actually present at the Willard Hotel when some of the strategy was being discussed. He was on the telephone with Donald Trump on January 6th talking about some of these things, Jenna Ellis, who wrote this memo about the strategy, these are really important because they take us from not just the attack on the Capitol but take us to the war room where the strategy was being developed. So, I think really important development in these subpoenas today. REID: Yes. Let`s talk about Rudy Giuliani for just a moment. So, this is a part of the letter here. It says the committee notes that Rudy Giuliani urged Donald Trump to direct the seizure of voting machines around the country after being told the Department of Homeland Security had no lawful authority to do so, and here is Giuliani actually on the 6th in some of his remarks on that day.


RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP ALLY: Over the next ten days, we get to see the machines that are crooked, the ballots that are fraudulent, and if we`re wrong, we will be made fools of. But if we`re right, a lot of them will go to jail. So, let`s have trial by combat.


REID: Made fools of you say, Tim O`Brien. It appears that the person who is made a fool of is Rudy Giuliani. I mean, this was a man who used to be mayor of one of America`s great cities and who`s now reduced to calling for trial by combat and now he`s in -- seems like he`s in a world of hurt here.

TIM O`BRIEN, SENIOR COLUMNIST, BLOOMBERG OPINION: And the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was, you know, charged with upholding and respecting the rule of law in one of the most powerful U.S. attorney`s offices in the country. And he is correct. He has been completely made a fool of that entire architecture of about five dozen lawsuits that he and Sidney Powell conjured to try to create the idea that there was election fraud when there wasn`t.


The suits themselves were comically full of malapropisms and shoddy work but they still managed to put those onto the public stage.

And I think it`s worth remembering with this collection of people who have been subpoenaed now that Donald Trump will bring people like this around him again if he comes back into power. And although all of them, particularly these four rodeo clowns, they were able to perpetrate one of the biggest assaults we`ve had on the rule of law and elections in the history of this country.

And I think the fact that this committee has finally decided to use subpoena power beyond just the Steve Bannons of the world but to get closer up the food chain to people who were directly advising Trump around the events of January 6th helped create both a chain of command and a deeper fact pattern for both the public and I hope for law enforcement to understand what needs to be done to prevent something like this from occurring again.

REID: Yes. I mean, clowns can be frightening and anybody who`s freaked out by clowns will tell you. And Sidney Powell is one of the more ridiculous sort of figures in this group but she was mounting -- she with Rudy Giuliani was mounting a relentless, multi-pronged strategy to sort of prove this elaborate scheme that has gotten her and some other folks in trouble because they claimed that part of the scheme where they were supposedly trying to claim we had to throw these electors out because there was fraud all this fraud had to do with Dominion Voting Systems.

Here is a little mash-up of her going after this company.


SIDNEY POWELL, MEMBER OF PREIDENT TRUMP`S LEGAL TEAM: Dominion operators went in and injected votes and changed the whole system.

They run a computer algorithm on it as needed to either flip votes, take votes out or alter the votes to make a candidate win.

It has been used all over the world to defy the will of people who wanted freedom.

There is statistical evidence. There is all kinds of mathematical evidence, essentially forensic evidence.

Dominion and its minions and other state officials everywhere are apparently out there trying to destroy everything they can get to before we can seize it.

They had this all planned, Maria.

It is one huge, huge criminal conspiracy.


REID: You know, Glenn, I guess the question is, is idiocy a defense here? I mean, let`s just say that if the DOJ is watching what is happening on the January 6th committee as they are putting together the sort of elements of a pretty far-reaching conspiracy by whether it was idiotic or not, they had a plan. They were going to say that the elections were stolen, these voting machines were corrupted, therefore, in these multiple states take these electors instead of those electors, is the stupidity sort of the individual, sort of pieces of it, a defense against potentially the DOJ if they ever decided to wake up and get involved.

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, no, stupidity is no defense and the fact that these were not plausible doesn`t make them any less corrupt. And I agree with both Tim and Barb that these are important subpoenas because, clearly, the investigative circle is tightening and it`s tightening around Donald Trump who is the hub. And I`m hoping we`re going to have the opportunity to talk about a hub and spoke conspiracy in the not too distant future because that`s the picture that`s emerging. But I don`t want to reign on the parade because these are important subpoenas, but let`s face it, these subpoenas are only as good as the evidence they produce.

We all received the news of the Mark Meadows subpoena with much fanfare and, of course, we are now on day 35 or 36 of the Mark Meadows indictment watch and exactly no testimony has been taken from Mark Meadows. So, these subpoenas that are an important step. It makes clear that the January 6th committee is serious about getting to the bottom of this but I think we have to see what are they prepared to do if the subpoenas that are ignored. Are they going to start to consider using their own inherent power of contempt to try to compel testimony or are they going to be happy to shuffle the people who are not compiling with the subpoenas over to the Department of Justice in hopes that they will then be prosecuted?

REID: I mean, what is your opinion on that, Barbara? Because it is a very good point, is that it is sort of a big fanfare to say, we`re going to subpoena Rudy Giuliani at all. But if they can`t compel testimony or if they`re going to spend six months battling it out in court, and sort of what`s the point?

MCQAUDE: Yes. And delay has been the name of the game here. I`m sure that these lawyers will assert attorney/client privilege on its face. That makes a lot of sense. But there are a number of reasons why that doesn`t apply here, one of which is crime fraud exception. The other is that it is only communications between a lawyer and its client for the purpose of obtaining legal advice that is privileged.


So, lots to talk about here that`s not is privileged, including documents that are not privileged. But I imagine they will seek to stall.

It will be interesting to see what the January 6 committee does here. Referring it more to the Justice Department, I think, is not going to be a quick solution. Filing their own civil lawsuit is not likely to move quickly.

And Glenn raises an interesting point, which is use it or lose it. They have an inherent contempt power. Maybe it`s time for them to flex muscles and use that power to enforce their subpoenas that.

REID: Yes, no kidding, including against potentially the former vice president.

Let`s talk about Mike Pence just for a moment, and this is for you, Tim. Let`s just listen to him. Because last night, Rachel Maddow did a brilliant job of going through all the vice presidents throughout modern history have all said the same thing when they certified election. It`s very sort of bland, it`s like opening the envelope at the Oscars. You don`t decide who won, you are just reading it, right? He added this extra language at the end of his statement, which basically, there is only going to be one set of electors, by the way, and here he is doing that on January 6th.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: After ascertaining that the certificates are regular, informed and authentic, the tellers will announce the votes cast by the electors for each state beginning with Alabama, which the parliamentarians advised me is the only certificate of vote from that state and purports to be a return from the state and that has annexed to it a certificate from an authority of that state purporting to appoint or ascertain electors.


REID: Tim, just from a political point of view, it feels like the idea of using inherent contempt or using subpoenas or really sort of going after the president and vice president is something that at least the Democrats on the 1/6 committee are reluctant to do. Liz Cheney is not reluctant to do it because she`s a Republican and thinks like a Republican. But, I mean, how important is it going to be to eventually hear from this man? Mike Pence is in the center of this. He clearly knew something is up because he said, by the way, there is only one set of electors.

O`BRIEN: It`s incredibly important to hear it from Mike Pence, and the clock is ticking, I think, as both Barbara has pointed out and Glenn pointed out that time is of the essence here. With the midterms coming out, the net result of that election, a number of -- the net result of that election will be that this committee could simply get the fan straight (ph) at that point.

So, they don`t have all the time in the world. They can`t stretch this out like the Republicans stretched out the Benghazi hearings. Mike Pence`s office has said they don`t believe he should testify because they believe that a committee`s operations like this is beneath the dignities of his office, which is ridiculous, that are exercising the powers of a congressional oversight. He`s also said that he feels they`re too partisan. Well, they`re partisan on behalf of trying to get to the truth and protect democracy. Those are good partisan values that are bipartisan, by the way.

Thirdly, Mike Pence was under enormous pressure on January 6th from Donald Trump, from other members of Congress and from operatives in the party and he has firsthand knowledge of what that sounded like and what their goals were. So, his testimony is deeply important.

REID: Yes, it`s so bipartisan. There are two Republicans on the committee who voted like 90 percent with Donald Trump, the two Trump Republicans on the committee. Get out of here with that. Barbara McQaude, Tim O`Brien, Glenn Kirschner, thank you all very much.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, Senator Cory Booker joins me as the Senate begins debate on voting rights. Outside the Capitol, meanwhile, demonstrators were taking a stand for voting rights and getting arrested. LaTosha Brown was one of them. She joins me to talk about what happens next if the Senate fails to act.

Plus, some hospitals are issuing an urgent warning. The COVID situation is so bad, they might not have a bed for you if you need life saving care.

And there are a whole bunch of adjectives to describe tonight`s absolute worst, selfish, inconsiderate and dangerous, just a few of them.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: As the Senate begins debate on federal voting rights protections, Republicans would have, you believe, there is no election subversion taking place in Republican states. Today, Addison Mitch McConnell, the man who singlehandedly broke the United States Senate during the Obama presidency, had the temerity to scold Democrats for trying to stop the Republican war on voters in states across this country.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The Democratic leader argues that his proposed elections takeover and his efforts to break the Senate are last resorts because of new state laws that passed in 2021, a year and a half before the 2020 election, which Democrats now call a high turnout success. The Democratic leader gave an interview claiming that evil Republicans are trying to attack voting and disenfranchise people.


REID: Once again, Mitch, please. Well, McConnell claims that this is about one party rewriting laws, he should be referring to what his party is doing in state after state right now, on party line, simple majority votes or through executive action.

Take the so-called free state of Florida, where Chairman Ron DeSantis is doing everything he can to prevent people from voting or to outright intimidate them if they try. His latest authoritarian idea is to create, get this, a literal personal police force to oversee state elections that would answer only to him. The job of Orwellian titled office of election crimes and security would be to investigate, detect, apprehend and arrest anyone for an alleged violation of election laws with the power to monitor voters and even arrest them.

So, does Ron plan to have the secret police arrest Trump voters since the heart of election fraud in Florida seems to be the MAGA-loving fantasy land called the villages, where four people have been arrested just in the past month alone for casting fraudulent votes for Donald Trump.


The junior Don has also taken it upon himself to meddle in the state`s congressional redistricting process, submitting his own map, which, you guessed it, dilutes the voting power of people of color, cutting in half the number of majority African-American districts, splitting up Hispanic voters in South Florida districts, and giving Republicans an eight-seat advantage.

I guess, when President Biden spoke of whether Republicans wanted to be Bull Connor, DeSantis was at home raising his head: Me, me. I want to be Bull Connor.

And then there`s Texas, where the sweeping Republican voting law enacted just last year, S.B.1, is already suppressing the vote of the Lone Star State`s March 1 primaries. Election officials in some of the state`s largest and mostly urban and diverse counties are rejecting an unprecedented number of mail-in ballot applications, including more than a half in one county alone, because they don`t meet voter I.D. requirements under the new law.

And since the law required new voter registration forms, it`s led to a shortage and fewer registration forms available to voting groups. There`s also Virginia, which seems intent on turning itself into Florida north, now that Trumpy wolf in sheep`s clothing Glenn Youngkin is in the governor`s Manchin.

Republican lawmakers have filed 20 bills, 20, restricting access to absentee voting, after record numbers of Virginians did just that, thanks to the state Democrats expanding voting options. And a short time ago, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer cited these efforts as he outlined plans for a final vote on voting rights bills.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): If the Republicans block cloture on the legislation before us, I will put forward a proposal to change the rules to allow for a talking filibuster on this legislation, as recommended by a number of our colleagues who have been working on this reform for a long time.


REID: Joining me now is Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.

And on that note, Senator, thank you for being here. I don`t know if you have talked to Manchin and Sinema lately. But is a talking filibuster something you think that those two would go for?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): There is no reason to have that expectation.

What is good, though, is that we are tomorrow going to be on the Senate floor, all 50 of us, for bills that we support to address what has become an epidemic problem, particularly in red states, which are dozens of laws passing making it more difficult to vote, fueled by lies that there`s problems, whether with in-person voting fraud -- more likely to be struck by lightning -- or that somehow Donald Trump was the rightful winner of the last election.

And so we`re going to all vote on that first tomorrow at 5:00, and then we`re going to vote on a rule change, which we will probably get 48 votes, to say that the filibuster, not -- we`re not getting rid of it. We`re trying to say that you can`t just sit in your office and phone it in, that you actually have to have an actual filibuster, and stand on the floor and debate a bill and talk about why you don`t want it to proceed.

REID: You know, it`s going to be interesting to hear if they bother to explain themselves why that`s a problem, why they think that they should be able to phone in a filibuster. That seems to be the Manchin-Sinema position.

But I want to take you back for just a moment to April of 2017, when the president was a Republican, Donald Trump, and Mitch McConnell had a very different view on whether or not you could nuke the filibuster to get the things he wanted in this -- in which, in this particular case, he wanted Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. Take a listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We need to restore the norms and traditions of the Senate and get past this unprecedented partisan filibuster.

Therefore, I raise a point of order that the vote on cloture under the precedent set on November 21, 2013, is a majority vote on all nominations.


REID: Isn`t it accurate that Mitch McConnell is a situational ethicist? He does not believe anything that he says, because when he wanted to get rid of the filibuster to get judges, he was like, get rid of it.

So, I don`t -- I find it hard to understand why Democrats don`t -- do they understand that they`re dealing with somebody who doesn`t believe in anything, other than getting what he wants?

BOOKER: But it`s beyond even Mitch McConnell. I mean, he`s changed it for Supreme Court voters. He changed it -- he found a way around it to pass that toxic Trump tax cut.

But it`s been changed over the years 166 times for things that, in my opinion, are far trivial when it compares with the most fundamental aspects of a democracy, is that one person, one vote.

And now we have a reality. Republicans are saying, we don`t need this. But the facts what the facts. Are we comfortable living in a nation where the average black voter right now in America has to wait twice as long to vote as the average white voter. What does that mean in places from Texas to Georgia, where you see people having two-, three-, five-, seven-, eight, nine-hour waits?

What does that do? It discourages people from voting. And that`s not the only laws that are being passed, finely tailored to discourage certain populations, from young people, Native Americans, African-Americans. These are the facts.


REID: Yes.

BOOKER: And so, again, we have changed the filibuster before, an alternate for everything from treaties to arm sales.

We need to actually change the filibuster to preserve the right to vote in America.

REID: You know, there`s a question of whether or not moral persuasion has any power anymore over your "Democratic" -- in quotes -- colleagues Manchin and Sinema.

There are a set of pastors -- and I will hold this up just for the audience -- from New Birth and other Georgia congregations who`ve written to them.

And part of what they write in this letter is, they said: "We have watched awe" as both Manchin and Sinema, "as you have continued to express unwavering support for the filibuster, putting this arcane legislative procedure ahead of our own democracy. We want to make it clear that your uncompromising stance has prevented needed action from the Senate on a host of issues, roadblocked the voice of America`s majority, and has now been used to block needed voting rights and our very democracy is at risk."

They obviously do not give a damn about that. But you know. You work with these Republicans. Are there two Republicans, in your view, who might be open to doing what Manchin and Sinema will not, and go ahead and make the changes needed to the filibuster in order to have voting rights?

Are there two Republicans at all?

BOOKER: I know of none.

And, again, I know there`s a lot of focus on two Democrats. But the reality is, we have 50 Republicans who do not believe that we have a problem with voting in America. And we do, from the dark money pouring in. Republicans are blocking simply disclosing having us know who`s spending money in these elections.

The gerrymandering problem we have across this country that`s disenfranchising voters or diluting their power. Republicans are against that. They have fought and blocked and stopped and are doing it right now.

And so the question is, is, what do we do? And the one thing I want to correct you on, Joy, because you have been so spot on during this whole broadcast, the one thing you said is, tomorrow is not a final vote on anything.

Senator Schumer and I were talking today. We have not yet begun to fight. We have a lot more tools in our toolbox. I have been encouraging them, OK, we`re stopping here, but let`s start bringing up each of the provisions of this bill one at a time, and make it even harder for them to vote against some of these commonsense things that people on both sides of the political aisle support.

We cannot stop fighting. It is a disrespect to our ancestors, from Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner, to all those voters who got beat back on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We never gave up this fight, and we`re not going to give it up right now.

REID: That is an excellent idea. I look forward to you all putting the individual pieces out and making people take a stand on them and vote on them. Excellent idea.

Senator Cory Booker, thank you very much. Really appreciate you being here this evening.

And joining me now is Janai Nelson, associate director counsel and soon to be president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

I want to congratulate you on that, big shoes to fill, our friend Sherrilyn Ifill`s. But you are well-endowed to do that, Madam.

So thank you for being here.

Let`s go to Florida real quick. Let`s talk about this. The idea that there will now be a secret police, essentially, a secret police force answerable only to the governor, which can monitor voters, arrest voters, maybe intimidate voters -- and we know which voters DeSantis would like to do that to -- how is that possibly legal?


What we know is that this idea of trying to defend election integrity has been used as a guise for election interference in many, many ways. This may remind you very much of the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity that was started in 2017 by Trump and was swiftly disbanded when several civil rights groups, including LDF, sued and pointed out that that type of commission, that type of election interference is unlawful.

What we are most concerned about is that even the idea of this, the Constitution of such a unit, would have such a broad chilling effect, even if it did nothing. Just its mere existence would be a threat to our elections, because it would make voters afraid to exercise their right to vote, for fear that they may ultimately be targeted by this government-, governor-led commission.

And it is deeply, deeply troubling, probably one of the worst assaults that I have seen in this war on our democracy today.

REID: Yes, and just to put it up again here, 19 states have enacted 34 restrictive voting laws. We put this up often so you can see where they are. They`re mostly -- they are all Republican-led states.

The Brennan Center says 152 restrictive voting bills in 18 states were carried over into 2022. It`s just all over the country. And I guess what I`m concerned about -- and I wonder if this concerns you, Janai -- if these laws wound up, you all and other groups, Marc Elias and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund sue, these are ultimately going to wind up potentially before a Supreme Court that has said, as long as you don`t openly say it`s racial, as long as you say it`s about partisanship, they have essentially said that you can do anything you want to voters.


You can -- any outrage, any indignity, it`s fine. You could probably do bubbles in a bar of soap at this point, as long as you don`t say it`s racial.

Are you concerned that we no longer have that backstop of protection in the Supreme Court, because six of them don`t believe in voting rights?

NELSON: Well, we know that to be true. We know that the Supreme Court abandoned any responsibility that it had to examine partisanship in our election system, where it`s extreme and it`s corrosive, like forms of partisan gerrymandering. The court abdicated its duty in 2019 and Rucho vs. Common Cause.

But I would like to believe that even this court would recognize election subversion when it sees it. This is not just limiting voting rights. This is not just making it more difficult to vote. This is actually threatening with intimidation and law enforcement, a threat, an action of the state to harm voters who want to exercise a fundamental right.

REID: Yes.

NELSON: This is beyond the pale.

And I`m hopeful that not only will these challenges be successful in court, but that the Supreme Court will understand that its own integrity, its own credibility is on the line when it allows these types of laws to stand.

REID: I await DeSantis declaring Republicans -- Republicanism to be the state party of Florida and make it illegal to vote for anybody else. I mean, I think there`s no limit to what he might do.

But we will see what happens.

Janai Nelson, thank you very much. Really appreciate you being here.

What a world.

Still ahead: Courageous voting rights activists are getting into good trouble, putting their lives and freedom on the line to protect our precious democracy.

We will be right back.



REID: The showdown in Congress over protecting voting rights comes a day after the country honored the memory of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as he once declared the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Well, today, we`re seeing people living up to those immortal words. You have Joe Madison, the 72-year-old activist, on the 72nd day of his hunger strike for Congress to pass laws protecting voting rights, and, on the Capitol steps today, a group of voting rights activists on their own hunger strike.

Dozens of them were zip-tied and arrested. We`re seeing such activism all across this country, as people also heed the call from another civil rights legend, whose name appears on the voting rights bill, the late Congressman John Lewis.

Before his death last year, he was known to urge every one of conscience to speak up, speak out, get in the way, get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.

Joining me now is LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, who was arrested at the Capitol voting rights -- at the Capitol protesting today for voting rights, getting in good trouble for real LaTosha.

Talk about what happened today. What was your message? What were the messages of the activists who were there and getting arrested? And we have video of that happening, as a matter of fact.

LATOSHA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTERS MATTER: So, thank you for having me, Joy.

Today, we wanted to send a message loud and clear that we are in fact supporting -- we want to see voting rights passed now. At the same time that it was happening at -- the vote was going on starting at noon, we wanted to make sure that we want to step to the Capitol to lift our voice, just as in the spirit of Dr. King, to say that we are standing for voting rights, that it is the message to the U.S. Senate that we will not stop, we will not turn around.

We also wanted to send a message to the American people that it is -- that when we`re seeing this happened in our Senate, that we have to stand up, as people, as citizens, as voters in this country and say, no, we deserve voting rights, and do whatever it takes to make sure that we secure voting rights.

REID: We have had our friend Joe Madison, both of our friend Joe Madison, on a hunger strike for 72 days. He`s in his 70s. We have had more people hunger-striking. Pastors are doing it.

Pastors out of Georgia sent letters to Manchin and Sinema. Moral persuasion doesn`t seem to be working. Stevie Wonder came out today and made a statement, saying, why can`t you protect voting rights?

At a certain point, we have to start asking, what next? Because we did have Senator Cory Booker come out and say there`s no reason to expect Manchin and Sinema to even go for a talking filibuster. They don`t want any changes to it. They clearly don`t want anything to do with voting rights.

What do we do next if they don`t -- if this doesn`t pass? What do we do?

BROWN: You know, I love to quote what Reverend Barber says.

He talks about that our deadline is not today. Our deadline is victory. That`s where we`re seeking to go. And so I also think that we can`t let the Republicans off the hook. There were 16 Republicans that actually voted for the voting rights reauthorization.

REID: Yes.

BROWN: Where are they now? We have to really speak to them as well.

And so I think it`s really important that we, as people, continue to have actions with the civil disobedience, just like we saw today with the hunger strikers. And Un-PAC, and Until freedom, and Black Voters Matter, and several organizations, Poor People`s Campaigns and others have been protesting all the last 10 months.

We`re going to be relentless. And that`s what it`s going to take. I think we continue to push it forward.

REID: Yes. Don`t let them rest until they do what`s right.

Speaking of Republicans, one option, of course, is repeal and replace, to say that you don`t want to support the rights of people to have anti- poverty legislation and voting rights, fine. You can go.

There are -- these Republican seats are up, Richard Burr in North Carolina. There`s the Ohio seat. Rob Portman is retiring. You have got Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, and Alaska. If, in theory, Democrats would be able to hold Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and New Hampshire, they could simply make Manchin and Sinema irrelevant.


At this point, how hard will it be to raise the voters again to say, listen, we need to do this, again, that the answer is more voting and get rid of these people who are in the way?

BROWN: You know, it is a uphill battle. We have said this all along that, that we`re seeing attacks on the local level, the state level, and now we`re seeing it all across this nation, that it is going to be an uphill battle.

But the one thing that gives me hope is, all during the day, even since we actually released, I have been getting phone calls. People are frustrated, and they`re upset.

And so I`m hoping that all that energy and that anger turns into an kind of energy that will actually help move us forward and move people out of the way that have been standing in the way, so that we can capture -- that there can be capturing of new seats of people that will stand and have the courage to stand for voter voting rights in this country.

REID: Yes.

And, in 2024, Elizabeth Warren has said maybe the people who need to also be repealed and replaced our Manchin and Sinema. I mean, at this -- at a certain point, do Democrats need to stop -- maybe take the sort of sticker of safety off of some of these Democrats as well in primaries?

BROWN: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

I think that`s why we are where we are right now. I think it`s going to take people of integrity. It`s going to take people of courage. We have said all the while that Senator Manchin has been disingenuous. He`s, quite frankly, been a liar in this process. We never thought that he was actually sincere about this.

And here it is Senator Sinema saying that she`s connected to the filibuster, but doesn`t support voting rights. How is it that, on one hand, you support an element, you support something that has been standing in the way of civil rights, but, on the other hand, you`re not supportive?

The bottom line is, I think they`re opportunists. They`re disingenuous, and we need to send a message to them. We need to send them home. And we need to also bring people to Congress that are going to have integrity and know that they are representing the people.

REID: Yes.

And from the school board all the way up to the top, maybe repeal and replace these people who don`t want to do the right thing. Maybe that is one of the strategies, if people can even vote and get their votes counted. That`s the other piece.

LaTosha Brown, thank you for all you do. Appreciate you being here, as always.

And tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is still ahead.

But, first, more hospitals find themselves in dire circumstances, as the Omicron variant spreads like wildfire. We will talk to a doctor at a hospital that`s completely out of ICU beds next.

Stay with us.



REID: So, here`s what happens when you stop caring about COVID. The health system begins to crumble, and Oklahoma City is a prime example.

If you need critical care in Oklahoma City, you may have to wait in the hallway or maybe in a closet, because they are completely out of ICU beds. Hospital staff are hamstrung by their own COVID cases and struggling with the psychological trauma of this unending nightmare.

Officials from four of Oklahoma City`s leading health systems are now begging, pleading for the public`s help.


DR. JULIE WATSON, INTEGRIS HEALTH: Our emergency departments are overflowing. Our health care professionals are exhausted. We have been working nearly nonstop for over two years now.

Omicron cases are rising faster than previous variants. And we are struggling to keep up. We have zero ICU beds and no inpatient beds available in Oklahoma City. It feels and sometimes even looks like a war zone.

Cases have risen so rapidly, we have to care for patients in hallways, sometimes closets. Oklahomans, what I will ask of you is this. Please, work with us until we are on the other side of this surge.


REID: Despite those pleas, 60 percent, 60 percent of eligible Oklahomans haven`t received a booster, even though boosters helped fight against the Omicron variant.

Health officials are urging people to avoid the E.R. if it`s a non- emergency or if they`re looking for a COVID test, which you can now order online, by the way, through the government`s new Web site, which did a soft lunch today, but will be fully functional tomorrow. Please order one.

Joining me now is Dr. Kersey Winfree, chief medical officer for SSM Health St. Anthony, which is one of the hospital systems that is indeed out of ICU beds.

And, Dr. Winfree, thank you so much for being here.

Oklahoma is the 15th worst state when it comes to deaths, and it is the 23rd worst state when it comes to COVID cases. Oklahomans are not getting vaccinated at a rate that would be helpful to you all.

So, in this letter, which you are a signatory to, you write: "The Oklahoma City health care system is a breaking point. Soon, you or a loved one may need us for lifesaving care, whether it`s for a stroke, emergency appendectomy, or trauma from a car accident, and we might not be able to help."

Talk about what you all are going through in Oklahoma City.

DR. KERSEY WINFREE, SSM HEALTH OKLAHOMA: So, these are unprecedented times.

You have a very contagious virus that is spreading rapidly through our community. It`s affecting lots of people with chronic illnesses and making them sicker and in need of hospital-based care. That is not just my hospital system. It is involving all the hospital systems within the greater Oklahoma City and within Oklahoma in general.

The numbers that you reference as it relates to the case rates certainly play into this. I think the other factors that play into this -- and it`s the perfect storm, the convergence of really a lot of adversity with regards to staffing.

Dr. Watson referenced that we are very, very limited with staffing. And this is putting a stress on the system. It can`t be overlooked, when you`re talking about a virus is contagious, it`s not just limited to the patients that we take care of, but it`s also affecting our staff and their families.

So that just compounds our challenges with limited staffing.

REID: Now, just to be clear...

WINFREE: So, we`re dealing...


WINFREE: No, go ahead.

REID: Just really quick, to be clear, the people that you`re seeing sort of flooding now in your hospitals and making it so that there are no more ICU beds, are these unvaccinated people, or is it sort of a mix of vaccinated, unvaccinated, or are they mostly unvaccinated?


WINFREE: So, right now, 80 to 90 percent of the people that we have in the hospital needing hospital-based care with COVID-related complications, 80 to 90 percent are unvaccinated.

So we clearly recognize there`s a pattern, a trend, even more than a trend. It`s almost predictable that people without vaccines cannot mount the same immune response and beat back Omicron.

REID: And does that mean that, let`s say, somebody has a car accident or a heart attack. What happens to them if they try to go to the hospital in Oklahoma City right now?

WINFREE: So, we are looking at everything very carefully, because we do not want to not meet the needs of all Oklahomans whenever they need it and whenever they need it urgently.

So we`re looking very carefully at ways that we can extend our capacity for taking care of these conditions. We`re looking at ways that we can keep the resources open that are going to allow us to be there for people whenever they need us, whether that`s emergently or whether that`s electively.

It is not easy. It requires a lot of examinations of these cases on a one- to-one basis, on a daily basis, looking at the cases that have medical necessity and time sensitivity associated with them. So, that`s pretty much an example of how we`re approaching the elective things that we want to keep going.

REID: And what`s the morale level of your staff right now?

WINFREE: Well, they are -- you know, it has been just an incredible two years, and many of them have been with us for the duration.

They have worked tirelessly in intensive care units, wearing PPE that is very uncomfortable, watching people really pass away in isolation. We have had a lot of people decide to take a pause and leave the work force. And that has created some staffing problems for us.

We were barely out of recovery from some of the staffing problems -- barely recovering from some of the staffing problems with the Delta surge. And then, all of a sudden, this wildfire called Omicron hit us.

And so it`s been a double whammy, so to speak, as it relates to these last six months.

REID: Now, if there`s someone listening right now who has refused up to now to get vaccinated, what would you say to them in your city?

WINFREE: So, it is with compassion that I asked you to reconsider your decision about vaccination.

Vaccinations have a time-held advantage of protecting us from these kinds of infections. Vaccinations save lives. The science behind vaccinations are sound. It does create an advantage for you. And that is an advantage that doesn`t just help with you as an individual. It helps with our community.

REID: Yes, absolutely.

And to save the health system in this country, people are going to have to be a little bit more selfless. Hopefully, they will listen to you.

Dr. Kersey Winfree, thank you for all that you do, you and your staff. God bless. Thank you very much.

All right, up next, it is tonight`s "Absolute Worst," as if we have already not gotten through the "Absolute Worst." There has been a lot of "Absolute Worst" tonight. But the heartlessness here, whoa, the heartlessness here, it is just infuriating.

We will be right back.



REID: Trump appointed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch to the seat that Mitch McConnell stole for him by nuking the filibuster after denying Merrick Garland even a hearing.

Gorsuch loves COVID, which makes him the perfect, perfect Republican. He thinks very little of coronavirus precautions. He joined the majority opinion blocking the Biden administration`s vaccine mandate for private businesses and joined the dissent against vaccine mandates for health care workers.

When the court didn`t block Maine`s health care mandate last fall, he went full libertarian, writing: "Stemming the spread of COVID-19 qualifies as a compelling interest. At the same time, I would acknowledge that there -- that this interest cannot qualify as such forever. Today, we have additional treatments and more appeared near. If human nature and history teach us anything, it is that civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency."

As law professor Andrew Koppelman wrote in "The Hill": "The wonderful new interventions that he cites so triumphantly have been less successful than everyone hoped," in large part because the very vaccine resistance that he`s trying to abet is making it difficult.

Gorsuch also wrote the dissent when the court refused to block New York`s vaccine mandates, stressing that religious people seeking exemptions due to their anti-abortion beliefs are not Anti-vaxxers. Now, we know a lot of people might have one position in public, but feel very differently around people in their lives.

And we have heard for years that, despite their differences, the members of the Supreme Court are just one big family. But that`s absolutely not the case with Gorsuch.

NPR`s Nina Totenberg reports that, after the Omicron surge began, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who has diabetes, did not feel safe in close proximity to people who were unmasked. Chief Justice John Roberts, understanding that, in some form asked all of the justices to mask up.

But Gorsuch refused to do so, which means that Sotomayor has been forced to attend oral arguments over the phone. Every other justice is masking up, even Clarence Thomas, who doesn`t seem to care about anybody, but, nope, not Gorsuch. He could not be bothered to extend a lifesaving courtesy to his co-worker.

And it is as serious as life and death, because diabetes is a huge risk factor. A report last summer found that 40 percent of people who died from COVID-19 had diabetes. There`s a chance that those numbers might look different with vaccination and Omicron, but the CDC still lists diabetes as a condition where people are more likely to get severely ill.

So, for having zero, zero problem risking the life of your colleague, because you just don`t feel like putting a mask on, you, Neil Gorsuch, are both a rotten co-worker, dangerous to be near in a pandemic, and tonight`s "Absolute Worst."

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.