Senate expected to vote on voting rights bills; Manchin says, eliminating the filibuster would be the easy way out; Biden says, still a number of things we can do if Senate blocks voting rights bills; McConnell says threats to voting rights are imaginary; Senator Bennett blasts McConnell for abusing Senate rules; Biden defends his work on voting rights issues; Cornyn threatens GOP retaliation if Democrats change filibuster rules to secure voting rights
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: A long and detailed presidential press conference, international news, domestic spending debates, a new Supreme Court ruling, a lot going on right now. So, thanks for spending some time with us on THE BEAT for it and it`s a lot of news that I bet will be dealt with effectively on THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid. Hi, friend, how are you?
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: I`m so excited to get into it, Ari. It has been a packed, packed news day. Thank you very much, excellent job, enjoyed your analysis. We`re going to pick it up from here. Thank you.
Good evening, everyone. Okay, buckle up, because there is a lot going on this hour. The Senate will be voting shortly on voting rights legislation. President Biden finished a nearly two-hour press conference in the past hour. We`ll have a lot more on what was a very, very newsy event.
Plus, there`s breaking news tonight with major implication for the former president. The Supreme Court has rejected Trump`s effort to block administration`s records from being sent to the January 6th committee. We`ll have much more on that coming up.
But we begin tonight with the United States Senate one step closer to putting themselves on the historical record on voting rights, versus embracing the current phone-in version of the filibuster. Any minute now, the Senate is expected to begin a series of votes on voter protection legislation, which is expected to fail, teeing up majority leader Chuck Schumer`s plan to move forward with a vote on a proposed filibuster rule change. That too is likely to fail since conservative Democratic Senator and professional coal baron Joe Manchin, in the tradition of the Bonnie to his Clyde, Krysten Sinema, preempted that effort earlier this afternoon, reiterating his support for the 60-vote threshold with no requirement to even do it in person.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): The United States Senate has never in 233 years been able to end debate on legislation with a simple majority vote.
Allowing one party to exert complete control in the Senate with only a simple majority will only pour fuel on a fiery political whiplash.
Eliminating the filibuster would be the easy way out. It wasn`t meant to be easy. I cannot support such a perilous course for this nation when elected leaders are sent to Washington to unite our country, not to divide our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Literally the same time that Manchin was slamming the door in his face, President Biden was at his press conference marking his first year in office and said that he is not willing to accept defeat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I think that there are a number of things we can do but I also think we will be able to get significant pieces of the legislation if we don`t get it all now to build to get it so that we get a big chunk of the John Lewis legislation as well as the fair election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: During today`s debate, Minority Leader Addison Mitchell McConnell, who nuked the filibuster himself to steal three Supreme Court seats for the far right, two of whom Joe Manchin had no problem at all voting for without 60 votes, mind you, tried to scaremonger by saying Democrats are trying to silence millions of Americans by breaking the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Instead, they have been consumed by a fake panic over election laws that seems to exist only in their own imaginations.
This party line push has never been about securing citizens` rights, it`s about expanding politician`s power. That`s why their bill tries to weaken voter I.D. laws that are popular with Americans of all races.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: To be clear, the party Mitch McConnell is actually referring to is the Republican Party. But far be it for the man who has done more than anyone to destroy the institution to acknowledge what Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennett eloquently called out as the destruction the self- proclaimed grim reaper has rocked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MICHAEL BENNETT (D-CO): I haven`t met anybody who thinks that their voice is meaningfully represented in the United States Senate instead of special interest to the most powerful people, nobody. And it`s because we can`t have a debate on anything they care about.
All of them have been blocked by Senator McConnell and his abuse of the Senate rules, not some great, venerable (ph) tradition of the United States Senate but his modern day abuse, his caricature of the Senate rules.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: But back to the argument by that Mitch, the reason national voter protection legislation is so critical is unfolding in front of our very eyes in Texas, as we told you last night, where the Republicans` punitive law is already suppressing voters. New requirements for voter I.D. are leading some counties to reject as many as 40 percent of mail-in ballots requested because the new law required new forms with a blink or you`ll miss it area to provide your driver`s license number, state I.D. or social security number.
Now, not everyone got the new form, of course, and applications on the wrong form are not acceptable for mail-in ballot requests, so they got tossed. And the law also conveniently makes it a felony for election officials to proactively send out the correct application forms to voters. See how that works?
The identification used also has to match the I.D. number that was used when the person registered to vote in the first place even if that was years and years ago, and that, that is why voting rights groups objected voter I.D. laws. It`s not the idea of showing I.D. It`s the way Republicans use it to play keep away with voters that they don`t like.
With me now, Yamiche Alcindor, Anchor and Moderator of Washington Week on PBS, who will soon be joining NBC News, I`m very excited about it, NBC News Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss, Host of Fireside History on Peacock, Christina Greer, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University, and Adam Jentleson, Executive Director of Battle Born Collective and former Deputy Chief of Staff to the great Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. This is a boss panel. I`m so excited to talk to you all.
I`m going to start with my soon-to-be new colleague, Yamiche Alcindor. Talk about this press conference, because this was a marathon. It was two hours of Biden speaking. He was literally speaking at the same time Joe Manchin was being like don`t bother. What did the White House, from your reporting, what were they trying to get out of this day other than just commemorating the one year and is there a real belief inside the White House that, as Biden said, they`re not going to take no for an answer, they think they can somehow still win on voting rights?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, MODERATOR, WASHINGTON WEEK: Well, I`m super excited to also be joining the MSNBC family. I cannot wait. This, of course, per our White House history, was the longest presidential news conference in history. It wasn`t just long. It was historically, epically long. And what the president really set out to do was one push back on his critics, talk about sort of what he wanted to do in his next year, talk about the mistakes that he perceived he made.
But also, I think, in some ways, he was out there to prove something. Think about the questions that he got from the conservatives about whether or not he`s mentally fit, whether or not he`s someone who can kind of stand up for the job. We all watched him for an hour and 50 odd minutes stand up there, get frustrated at times, really get genuinely sad about the pandemic but not really lose his stride, not insult people, not lash out, as we`ve seen with the former president.
I think the other thing that sticks with me is the fact that he, in some ways, felt like an American who is trying to connect with other America who were frankly exhausted, who were frankly living through a pandemic and are feeling very gloomy. I think that that was part of the emotional connection. It was interesting to hear him talk about voting rights, in particular, as you were talking about this before this block, talking about the idea that maybe some parts of those bills can be passed but also admitting that he feels like he should have been more out in the community with African-Americans, that he should have been talking about it more, they should have been sincerely connecting with people.
He was also pretty clear that he is frustrated not just with the GOP but also with members of his own party talking about the fact that his agenda is stalled by people who are in his party. And I think the thing that also sticks with me is the fact that he was someone who was really setting out, I think, to really talk about sort of where he wants to go next and talking about the fact that the reality is that Democrats are going to have so make some hard decisions, including breaking up bills, including figuring out how to deal with the GOP that is focused on obstructing him.
One, I think, thing that, to me, struck me as confusing was that he was surprised that the GOP would obstruct him. I think he was obviously the V.P. for President Obama. Very clear, the GOP wanted to stop everything that Obama was doing. They`re doing the same thing to President Biden and very successfully so, I should mention. So, I think that`s also something that sticks with me that was confusing a bit because, obviously, he should have, in some ways, I think, understood, based on my conversation with Democrats, that the GOP will uniformly try to block Democratic presidents.
REID: Yes, that struck me too. I have to be honest. That struck me too and every time he says it.
And, Michael Beschloss, I want to go to you to sort of give a big picture. Because, I mean, the first time I ever got the chance to talk to Joe Biden before he was president, I said to him, what makes you think they`re going to treat you any different than President Obama? And he got kind of irritated. He was like, I am not naive about this. But I sometimes wonder if he was a bit naA_ve.
Give him a grade a little bit. Because this is a president who is a man of the Senate and who`s seen what I -- this is the first time I have ever met the man, that he seemed genuinely to believe that there was something about him and his preexisting relationships on the Hill that could make it different for him than it was for President Obama. I never thought that. Was that just a mistake to think that he could do it? Was it noble for him to try? What do you make of one year in Biden?
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, Joy, I would never want a president who did not at least try to work with the other side on Capitol Hill but I also wouldn`t want a president who saw that nothing was happening and kept on trying to do it, which he now sees from hard experience that that`s not going to happen.
And the other thing is we can all complain about various aspects of Joe Biden`s first year and maybe, you know -- Yamiche is absolutely right, this was the longest press conference. Yamiche can correct me. I think second longest was 1997, Bill Clinton 94 minutes. And Paul Begala said just a few minutes ago that he was Clinton`s aide at the time and got a message from Rahm Emanuel, who was also on the White House staff, who said, stop it, knock off this press conference, tell the president he has to come back and feed his dog, which I think is what they did.
But the point is what`s the most important thing about Joe Biden`s first year? Well, as we all know, a year ago tonight, Donald Trump was still president. He was breaking the rule of law. He was threatening democracy. It was 13 days after an insurrection that almost brought down the United States government who could have done a better job during this last year than Joe Biden in restoring democratic traditions and restoring the rule of law. Anything else we might complain about, which is part of our duty as citizens, we have to begin with that, and that I think is the most important.
REID: Yes, I think that is unquestionably true.
Let me go to you on this, Christina, because one of the big reasons that Joe Biden even has the opportunity to be here and it`s not Donald Trump is that African-American voters were very proactive about saying, we need to replace Trump and picked him in a lot of way, sort of blessed him to become president. This is Kirsten Welker, I thought, asked a really good question about whether or not he`s lived up to the promise he made to always have the back of black voters, particularly on something like voting rights. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What do you say to the black voters that say you do not have their backs as you promised on the campaign trail?
BIDEN: I`ve had their back. I`ve had their back my entire career. I`ve never not had their back and I started on the voting rights issues long, long ago. That got me involved in politics in the first place.
I have not been out in the community nearly enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: What grade would you give him on this effort, Christina, including the timing of when the real fight was engaged on voting rights?
CHRISTINA GREER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Right. If we`re not using great inflation, I would say a C, maybe C-plus. And, you know, as Yamiche mentioned, the president really needs to go public. Today was a real, valiant effort of communicating not just the journalist but the American public, but he does need to go out into the community.
This is so frustrating because it reminds me of the Obama era where the administration is doing actually quite a bit but they`re not articulating not only their actions but also the vision. So, people are wondering what actually is going on in Washington, D.C., when we see Joe Biden constantly meet an obstructionist Republican Party constantly trying to negotiate with an obstructionist Republican Party and possibly forgetting the people who sent him there.
And keep in mind, Joy, black voters, as you and I both know, are some of the most savvy and strategic voters because we not only vote for how we feel and what we think is best but we also have to keep in mind the capacity of white voters to actually redeliver a Donald Trump.
And so Joe Biden wasn`t necessarily every black voter`s first choice but he was the most practical choice to actually win against Donald Trump. And so if we understand that context, Joe Biden still has a lot of work to do to win over black voters and he has to do what we call in political science literature, which is go public, not just with his ideas and policies but he actually is going to even, in the midst of a global pandemic, get out into communities and use his surrogates, local and state leaders, to really help push forward his policy vision and really help voters understand that he`s actually working on their behalf.
REID: Right. And, I mean, even to stay -- for his part, to stay in power, Adam Jentleson, you worked for the great Harry Reid, who is probably the best strategists we had in a very long time in the United States Senate and who did what he had to do to make sure that President Obama could be successful, the Obama-Biden administration, let me play you, because I find Mitch McConnell to be a singularly, negatively interesting figure and that I have no doubt that he would jump the filibuster tomorrow if he became Senate majority leader to get the things he wanted. And yet, he and his party are saying, you better not do it or we`re going to get you.
Here is actually John Cornyn of Texas, who didn`t even talk about his own state`s crazy voting laws, but here is what he said, essentially threatening Democrats if they change the filibuster for voting rights. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): We can implement a 20-week ban on abortions and ensure that any baby that survives an abortion receives life saving care.
We could protect our constituents` Second Amendment rights and establish concealed carry reciprocity throughout the nation.
In short, future Republican-controlled Senate would be able to accomplish a lot all thanks to a precedent that our Democratic colleagues seek to establish today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: You`ve tweeted a lot about this, Adam, you know, this idea of trying to threaten and terrify Democrats into not changing the rules. Do you have any doubt that Mitch McConnell, if he becomes majority leader again, will just jump the filibuster in five days and Manchin will sit back and go --
ADAM JENTLESON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BATTLE BORN COLLECTIVE: No doubt, whatsoever, in my mind, Joy. And there`re a few reasons behind that. One is that I`m old enough to remember 2017 when Mitch McConnell, without any hesitation, got rid of the filibuster to confirm a Supreme Court nominee, completely breezed on the accusations of hypocrisy that were thrown his way, just as he would do in the future, got rid of it with the flick of a wrist.
I`m also old enough to remember 2005 when under President George W. Bush, Mitch McConnell was the second ranking leader in the Republican Senate and led the fight to try to go nuclear under George W. Bush. Very aggressively, very eagerly, he had former aides write law review articles explaining why he was completely consistent with the Constitution to get rid of the filibuster. Chuck Grassley was still around back then. He supported that effort.
So, there is no doubt in my mind that the first time it becomes convenient for Republicans, the first time they control a trifecta, unified control of Washington, the three elected branches government, the first time it becomes convenient for them to get rid of the filibuster, they will get rid of it without a moment`s hesitation. This should not be something Democrats, when they are thinking through strategic choices, should not invest in believing in forbearance from Mitch McConnell. If you are counting on forbearance from Mitch McConnell and Republicans in the future, that is a bad strategic choice.
REID: Amen. And the reporting here from NBC News is that after Joe Manchin gave his speech embracing the filibuster, Senator Jeff Merkley made a last ditch effort to try to explain to him the precedence of what they were going to try to do. I`d doubt that any of that helped at all. And he will literally sit there and be like when McConnell does it, because he`s never had a problem with that because McConnell likes the things he likes.
Anyway, Christina Greer, I know you`ve got to go, thank you very much, my sister, I appreciate you. Yamiche, Michael and Adam are sticking around for more on President Biden`s epic press conference.
And later, the Supreme Court delivered a major defeat to the disgraced, twice-impeached former president and Florida retiree late today rejecting his efforts to block the January 6th committee from getting his White House documents.
Plus, the gathering storm, the secretary of state is in Ukraine trying to defuse a brewing international crisis. Senator Chris Murphy, just back from the region, joins me tonight.
And tonight`s absolute worst is like a weather forecast, cold, a lot of wind and a 100 percent chance of snow flakes.
THE REIDOUT continues after this.
REID: One day before he commemorates his first year as president, Joe Biden held a press conference, only his second solo news conference since he took office.
While he stressed that he had gotten a lot done as president, including the infrastructure bill and coronavirus relief, he seemed genuinely surprised that Republicans didn`t want to work with him to further his agenda.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not anticipate that there would be such a stalwart effort to make sure that the most important thing was that President Biden didn`t get anything done.
Think about this. What are Republicans for? What are they for? Name me one thing they`re for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Biden also said that he was caught off guard by the Republicans` obstructionism, even saying that he remembers Republicans acting differently under President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: You said you were surprised by Republican obstruction of your agenda. But didn`t the GOP take exactly the same tactic when you were vice president to Barack Obama? So, why did you think they would treat you any differently than they treated him?
BIDEN: First of all, they weren`t nearly as obstructionist as they are now, number one.
They stated that. But you had a number of Republicans we worked with closely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: That is despite the fact that the Republican Party`s main goal at the time was to make sure that the Obama-Biden administration had no second term and, when President Obama did, that he would fail in every conceivable way.
Back with me, Yamiche Alcindor, Michael Beschloss, and Adam Jentleson.
And, Adam, I found that really shocking. I think we talked about it in the last block. But they don`t have an agenda, other been making Democrats fail.
Here`s Mitch McConnell basically unable to say really what their agenda would be if he got back the gavel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: If Republicans take back control of Congress after the midterms, what would be your agenda?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): That is a very good question. And I will let you know when we take it back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: He has no idea. I mean, Chris Sununu, who was quoted, Adam, by the president today in his press conference, he said the following.
And he was literally going to deliver, like the person they wanted -- he would have been a recruiting coup for the Republicans. And then he talked it over with Republican senators. He said: "They were all for the most part content with the speed at which they weren`t doing anything. It was very clear that we just have to hold the line for two years. OK. So I`m just going to be a roadblock for two years? That`s not what I do."
That`s what he said. And Biden cited that.
The Republicans don`t have an agenda, other than stop Democrats from doing anything and get judges, right? That`s what your experience has been I`m sure, as an aide to Harry Reid.
I mean, that -- and this is the nature of our polarized environment right now. And this is -- not to bring it back to the filibuster, but this is what the filibuster allows them to do, is to block anything that the majority wants to accomplish. It was never supposed to be this way, but that`s the Senate we have right now.
I think that is what Republicans can be counted on to do for the remainder of President Biden`s term. And the flip side of this, though, is that, if Donald Trump were ever to come back to power or a Republican president come back to power, they would accomplish a lot.
I mean, they would -- they can`t articulate an agenda because they don`t want to say what it would be, because the things that they would seek to do are deeply unpopular. What Republicans want to do is, they want to give tax cuts to the wealthy, they want to confirm super conservative judges, they want to end a woman`s right to choose, they want to enact massive voter suppression laws and codify Trump`s big lie.
But they can`t say that out loud. So, the only thing they can say, the only thing they can do in public is to obstruct and hope voters don`t notice the things that they actually do want to accomplish.
REID: Yes, I mean, John Cornyn, actually, he did say it out loud. Like, he literally said today, he`s like, this is what we`re going to do. I`m just letting you know, if we get back in.
And the thing is, the purpose of that, Michael, what`s changed about the presidency is that, most of the time, at least in the past, people would give the president a break.
REID: Like, for a year, these presidents would have really high approval ratings.
I mean, you can go through and put them up. After a year, John F. Kennedy`s in the high 70s, Eisenhower 69...
REID: ... even though they were trying to say that he was fluoridating the water and that Birch Society was trying to take him down, even Carter at 62, Nixon 61. You can go all the way through them, President Obama, Reagan.
It seems that the purpose of Republicans now is to ensure that no president has the respect of the -- of half the public. And that is pretty much their agenda, to make sure the president is a failure, so they can get back in power.
BESCHLOSS: That`s what modern history suggests, Joy. You`re absolutely right.
And when the largely, not entirely, but the largely great Bob Dole died pretty recently, everyone was saying, this is someone who worked across the aisle and made deals.
I remember Bob Dole, on the night that Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, and he went on NBC and other networks, other lesser networks, and said: I now represent the majority of Americans who did not vote for Bill Clinton, and we`re going to stop him.
And that has been the attitude of Republican leaders in Congress ever since, especially Newt Gingrich, when he became speaker two years later.
BESCHLOSS: And it is un-American. Because James Madison, the idea was, unlike the British monarchy, he wanted presidents and Congress and parties in Congress to duke it out, just battle all the time, because he thought that that would lead to the best laws.
But the other part of the deal was that they would also compromise and negotiate. So, Republicans have learned the fighting part of it perfectly well, keeping a president of the other party in check. But where`s the compromise? Where`s the negotiation?
It`s radical and it`s not American to avoid that.
And the other -- Biden spoke to -- I want to play one piece of Joe Biden today, because he spoke to the other piece that is not usual. What I understood, always understood about politics, Yamiche, is that there was a jealous guarding of power between the branches of government, and so that the congressional branch -- the legislative branch will jealously guard its power against the president, and those two branches would compete.
But now what you have seen is, among congressional Republican, Senate and House Republicans, they subordinate themselves to this sort of king-like president, this sort of monarchical attitude toward them.
Here`s Biden talking about that, because now it`s not a monarchical attitude. It`s like a cult. Here`s President Biden talking about that, about Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Did you ever think that one man out of office could intimidate an entire party, where they`re unwilling to take any vote contrary to what he thinks should be taken, for fear of being defeated in a primary?
We have got to break that. It`s got to change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: I mean, that wasn`t true with Nixon, but it was sure kind of true with Reagan. It`s gotten worse and worse and worse, the worship.
Are there Republicans who are weary of it on Capitol Hill, or is everyone in on it and everyone who`s not in on it is retiring?
ALCINDOR: Joy, it`s definitely the latter.
And I think the president, President Biden, just laid out sort of, would you ever think that a president could do this, a former president could hold a grip on a party like this?
You should probably add to that, would you ever think a president could almost overthrow the American democracy, lead people and encourage people to break into Congress in a violent and deadly insurrection, and then still have that kind of power?
That`s the sort of second part of that question. And Joe Biden is expressing essentially his surprise, again, at the idea that former President Trump is continuing to have this power.
But I also -- in some ways, I think this is a window into who President Biden is at his core. He ran as someone who had these relationships in the Senate, as someone who had three decades of power and was vice president. He thought things could be different. He was an optimist in this situation.
And he`s clearly had to deal with the realism of the Republican Party being completely in the hands of former President Trump. And the question I would completely want to still ask Joe Biden today is, what is the Democratic strategy against that?
Republicans are being very, very successful in running on lies. They`re very successful in passing laws that are going to make it harder for people to vote, including specifically black people, black women. What is the strategy to push back on that?
Democrats have not gotten that together. And the president simply, I don`t think, has articulated what he plans to do on that. And that`s a big challenge for this White House going forward.
REID: Yes, John Dean has called it authoritarian followers.
And it is a -- it`s a thing about Republicans in the modern era. It is not true about Democrats. Democrats like their presidents. They don`t worship them. That`s the difference. They`re willing to even, like, buck them. Look what they`re doing inside of the party to Joe Biden. It`s a weird sort of authoritarian sort of worship on the Republican side.
It is weird, and it is not good for democracy.
Yamiche Alcindor, Michael Beschloss, Adam Jentleson, thank you all very much.
And still ahead, breaking news this evening: The Supreme Court delivered a major blow to Trump in the January 6 investigation. We will give you the details next.
REID: Just moments ago, the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for the National Archives to turn over Donald Trump`s White House records to the select committee investigating January 6.
The 8-1 decision represents a major victory for the committee and a huge setback for Trump, who tried to block the records from reaching the committee. The only justice to his side was Clarence, Clarence Thomas.
Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Letitia James has gone public with damning new details from her civil probe into Donald Trump`s business.
She said -- quote -- "We have uncovered significant evidence that suggests Trump and the Trump Organization falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic benefit."
I should note that, while James can only bring a civil action, her probe overlaps with a concurrent criminal investigation by Manhattan`s new district attorney, Alvin Bragg.
In a statement today, the Trump family called James` allegations baseless, but, at the same time, they`re opposing her subpoenas, on the grounds that their testimony could be used against them in the criminal probe.
All that said, Attorney General James still says they have not yet reached a final decision regarding whether they have -- the evidence that they have collected merits legal action.
Joining me now, Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney.
I first want to ask you, Joyce, about the Supreme Court ruling. What do you make of it? It`s 8-1 in favor of the committee.
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It`s a clear victory for the committee, saying that the committee is entitled to get Trump`s materials.
What`s interesting, though, about it, Joy, is the reason for that ruling. And what the Supreme Court did is, they essentially have held that, even if Trump was still the president, the committee would have been entitled to these materials.
They explicitly say they`re not ruling on the question of when a former president can prevent a current president from releasing his materials. They leave that question for another day.
OK, so we`re going to put a pin in that for a moment, because let`s just stay with the committee for just a moment. So, two new subpoenas today, Nick Fuentes, the white nationalist, and Patrick Casey of this right-wing America First movement. They`re both -- they were both at the Capitol January 6.
On the Fuentes letter, they point out that Fuentes urged his followers to - - quote -- "storm every state capitol until January 2020, 21, until Trump is inaugurated for four more years." They`re also interested in a donation he reportedly received on Bit -- in Bitcoin worth more than $250,000. And the FBI is reportedly scrutinizing whether the money is linked to the Capitol attack.
What`s the significance of having one of the provocateurs subpoenaed?
VANCE: Looks like this is about the gold team for the January 6 Committee, the team that`s following the money in this investigation.
And they`re very interested with both of these witnesses with Bitcoin donations and significant amounts that they received. What they`re trying to do is figure out, in essence, who was paying for the January 6 rally, because communications between those folks about this rally on the Ellipse and seeing whether that spills over into the insurrection at the Capitol could be a very fruitful area of inquiry.
REID: Yes, and let`s talk about the -- we finally have now seen prosecutors asking a January 6 defendant about Trump himself for the first time.
So, evidence emerged in court papers that prosecutors actually have posed questions to at least one defendant that were focused on establishing an organized conspiracy involving Trump and his allies to disrupt the work of Congress.
Is that significant or, in your mind, incidental?
VANCE: Well, I think that`s always been the question here, right?
How far does this go? Who does it reach? But what`s important to understand about conspiracy is that proof of the conspiracy requires an explicit agreement. It doesn`t have to be written. It can be a handshake. It can be an understanding, even a wink and a nod. But there has to be an agreement that a group of people will achieve an illegal objective, that they`re all working together in that same direction.
So it`s not unusual to see investigators trying to figure out, once you know that there is a conspiracy, who was involved.
And let`s go back to Letitia James` investigation. I have always said that one of the biggest mistakes Donald Trump ever made -- one of the best things and worst things he ever did for himself was for president, right? He ran for president. He wanted the prestige.
But he exposed himself in a lot of ways to scrutiny of things no one ever questioned. This idea he was a billionaire, we now know that was a lie. This idea that he owned this huge empire full of buildings, a lie. We`re finding out through these subpoenas that the properties that Donald Trump owned, that he said he owned, he only owned like 55 percent of the ones that he listed on the Trump Organization Web site.
A lot of the other ones are actually just licensing and management deals where it says Trump on the building, but he doesn`t actually own it.
That exposure, in a mean -- is that legal in a meaningful sense? Is it just humiliating and embarrassing? Or what do you make of what they`re discovering? Or is the valuation of the properties he actually owned, could that lead to criminal charges?
VANCE: You know, I think it`s all of the above, Joy.
And I think it`s important that Tish James said that she hasn`t made any predetermination about whether or not she`s bringing charges. She clearly is still trying to get a sense of what Trump and his children knew, what they intended.
Was it just an incredible coincidence that there were 10 major incidents of fraud on papers they submitted? Sometimes, mistakes can happen. Or was there any sort of knowledge and intent at work here?
Trump, who notoriously eludes sort of the grip of the justice system, is really in between the pincers of the civil and the criminal system here...
VANCE: ... because there are significant remedies on the civil side of this investigation.
We have seen the New York attorney general dismantle Trump`s charitable organization...
REID: That`s right.
VANCE: ... and prohibit it from further operations in New York. That`s not an insignificant penalty.
At the same time, these sorts of allegations of fraud, if evidence of intent and knowledge pans out, that could lead to criminal charges. But could is doing a lot of work in that sentence.
REID: Yes, indeed.
My favorite sort of a factoid about this, Eric Trump taking -- like, 500 times, taking the Fifth, like, once an hour almost in hundreds of hours -- in hours and hours of questioning. Very interesting.
Joyce Vance, thank you. Always appreciate you.
Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is still ahead.
But, first, Secretary of State Blinken meets with the Ukrainian president, as Russia continues its military buildup along Ukraine`s border. Is there still a diplomatic path forward?
Senator Chris Murphy is just back from the region. And he joins me next. Don`t go anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I think he still does not want any full-blown war, number one.
Number two, do I think he will test the West, test the United States and NATO, as significantly as he can? Yes, I think he will.
But I think he will pay a serious and dear price for it that he doesn`t think now will cost him what it`s going to cost him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: That was President Biden weighing in on what he thinks Russian sociopath and autocrat Vladimir Putin will do with the roughly 100,000 troops amassed on the border with Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: The risk of a conflict is real. NATO allies call on Russia to de-escalate, and any further aggression will come with a high cost for Moscow.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our view is, this is an extremely dangerous situation. We`re now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine.
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We do have information that indicates that Russia is already working actively to create a pretext for a potential invasion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Putin is also sending an unspecified number of troops to Belarus, which just so happens to share a border with Poland and Ukraine.
This increased bravado comes as the United States and Russia engage in diplomatic talks with the goal of de-escalating the situation. Secretary of State Antony Blinken flew to Ukraine today, at the behest of President Biden, in a show of support for that country`s president, and warned Russia that it could face severe consequences if it took aggressive actions.
Blinken and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, are set to have a third meeting on Friday in Geneva. Previous talks have failed to make much progress. Last week, 38 Senate Democrats unveiled a punishing new sanctions bill. As usual, it`s unclear if Republicans will support it.
Over the weekend, a bipartisan group of seven senators traveled to Ukraine to deliver a message of support.
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who was part of that group, joins me now.
Senator Murphy, let`s go over that, because the -- what President Biden said to reporters today is that there -- it`s -- NATO is not all on the same page about what to do about this situation.
Talk a little bit about those differences and kind of where the U.S. falls on what to do if Russia gets more aggressive.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, first of all, I was really proud to join this bipartisan delegation, seven of us, Republicans and Democrats, to make clear to both Ukraine and Russia that there`s no daylight between the two parties when it comes to backing up Ukraine and making sure that Russia pays a price if they do invade.
But I think you`re right to really see Biden`s concern for NATO remaining whole and unified, because Putin`s short-term goal may be to try to regain influence over Ukraine, but his long-term goal is to break up and smash NATO to pieces.
And so Biden has to do two things here. He needs to send a message to Putin that there`s going to be huge consequences if he was to invade Ukraine, but do it in a way that keeps NATO together, because Putin would love nothing more than for Ukraine to be NATO`s undoing, because that ultimately is his goal in the end.
It`s a real sort of very fine line that he needs to walk here. But the president`s doing a very good job. And I think he`s going to deliver a message to Putin that will show him there are going to be serious consequences to both his army and to his economy if he moves into Ukraine any further.
REID: And, of course, sanctions are the way that he would do that.
So, there`s Democratic legislation. It`s called the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act. It`s got sanctions, mandatory sanctions, pretty significant sanctions. How long does that bipartisan group hold together if, for instance, the Senate changes hands?
Because if Republicans then are in control of the Senate, they go back to doing the bidding of the president who really, really, really likes Russia, and really, really, really doesn`t like NATO. Are you confident that the bipartisan sort of coalition holds together if Mitch McConnell has the gavel?
MURPHY: Well, Congress can give any president sanctions authorization, but it`s the president that actually has to implement them.
Remember, back in the end of 2019, well before this Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Europe was completed, Congress passed bipartisan sanctions authority, handed it to President Trump. And President Trump refused to use it.
He imposed one sanction on his last day in office. But, by that time, 95 percent of the Nord Stream pipeline was built. He handed Biden this enormous mess. So, Congress has always been pretty unified on the matter of supporting Ukraine and punishing Russia for their incursions into Ukraine.
The problem is, Joe Biden will use the sanctions authority we give him.
MURPHY: But if Donald Trump gets back into office, he won`t. It`s ultimately up to the president to make this policy work.
And there`s just a huge difference between Donald Trump`s seriousness about Russia and Joe Biden`s seriousness.
REID: How worried should we be that we`re going to see war on the European continent over this?
MURPHY: I think we should be very worried.
I do think that Vladimir Putin sees Ukraine slipping away from him. Ten years ago, only 20, 30 percent of Ukrainians wanted to join NATO. He had a proxy government in place in Kiev.
But over the course of the last decade, Ukraine has made a different decision. They now want to be part of the West. They are sick and tired of living under Russia`s thumb. And he can`t now coerce them back into his orbit. He has to use force.
And so I think you need to look at this whole threat to Ukraine through a prism of Russian weakness. This is his only chance to try to win Ukraine back, is with 200,000 troops. But I think there`s a very good chance that those troops are going to march further into Ukraine, maybe not all the way to Kiev, but I think we could be on the precipice of an international crisis.
REID: Yes. Yes, lots of crises in hand.
Let me switch gears for just a moment to voting rights. There`s going to be a vote tonight. We`re now thinking it`s going to be some time in the 8:00 hour. How is that going to go?
Is there any chance that Manchin and Sinema will allow even a switch to a talking filibuster or a filibuster with 55 votes needed, instead of 60, or any changes at all?
MURPHY: It doesn`t appear that we`re ultimately going to win the vote on changing the rules.
But it is important that we are going to be united in our vote for the Freedom to Vote Act, which, in and of itself, could save democracy. Unfortunately, it doesn`t look like we will be as united when it comes to the rules change.
My colleagues think that preserving Senate traditions is right now more important than protecting the right to vote. I think that`s an enormous mistake. I don`t know that there`s going to be a Senate left to protect if we lose our democracy.
Donald Trump has told us loud and clear, transparently, openly, proudly, that he wants to steal the next election, that he thinks the vote counters are more important than the candidates.
And so, if, in 2022 or 2024, somebody gets seated in the United States Senate, or, God forbid, the White House who didn`t actually win the election, that`s a constitutional crisis. That could be the end of democracy.
MURPHY: That could be the end of the United States Senate.
And I wish all 50 of my colleagues understood the stakes like that.
REID: Why is it do you -- why do you think that Manchin and Sinema don`t care about that, very quickly? Sorry. We`re almost at a time.
MURPHY: Yes, you would have to ask them.
I mean, ultimately, I don`t know that they see the existential threat that many of us do.
REID: Yes, clearly, or they just don`t care.
Senator Chris Murphy.
That`s me, not you.
Thank you very much, sir. Really appreciate you being here.
MURPHY: Thank you.
REID: Thank you. And up -- cheers.
And up next: OK, are you comfy? Yeah? Because tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is next, and I just want to make sure that you don`t feel any discomfort, because, before we kick this off, I want to make sure that you`re chill, so I even brought this plushy for you.
See the plushy? He`s going to soothe you. He is soothing you, OK?
We will be right back.
REID: Are you old enough to remember, starting way back in 2016, when the right was obsessed with referring to those on the left as snowflakes?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am reveling in all of the tears that we`re seeing from the buttercups and the snowflakes...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The snowflakes? Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... who are in full meltdown.
GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS: We call people out on being snowflakes.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Little snowflake liberals are preparing to protest.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They obviously can`t handle it. They are the snowflakes, Richard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We now have proof, Sean, snowflakes are everywhere.
MIKE GUNZELMAN, FOX NEWS: The snowflakes believe things. Their opinions are based on emotion, rather than facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Ah, yes. They were trying to create a narrative that Democrats are just too sensitive.
It`s kind of ironic given that Trumple-thin-skin went on an almost daily attack against any man, woman or child who he perceived had slighted him in any way.
But it turns out that it is you folks on the right who need to check the weather forecast, at least in the state of Florida, because Trump`s Mini Me, Governor Ron DeSantis, is pushing a bill prohibiting schools and businesses from making white people feel discomfort when teaching students or employees about historic racism.
Yes, yes, you heard me correctly. Ron is worried that white people are too sensitive to learn that slavery actually happened and that, for hundreds of years, black and brown people have been oppressed in this country.
The bill reads in part: "An individual, by virtue of his race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex. An individual should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race."
I mean, I`m sorry if learning the facts of America`s history causes you psychological distress. But how about the people who actually had to live through it? It is not surprising that this is coming from Chairman Ron, who is fighting an all out war against the right`s Critical Race Theory boogeyman.
Just the other week, he was trying to peddle this conspiracy theory about our public schools.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): It`s not just about Critical Race Theory. I mean, there`s a lot of other inappropriate content that can be smuggled in by public schools.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: As I have said before, I`m not sure what old Ron thanks for being smuggled in, what, like copies of Toni Morrison books?
And, by the way, how would this even work in schools? Like, for instance, could you teach that slavery involved white slave owners and black slaves? What if that makes a white student feel uncomfortable? Like, what about business? Would you have to prohibit them from holding any kind of racial sensitivity training, so they wouldn`t get sued by an employee?
Or what if like a small business wanted to have a Black Lives Matter sign and that, like, caused some psychological distress to one of, like, the white employees? Would that, like, be illegal? Would -- like, could somebody call the cops?
Like, it is a problem for old Ron DeSantis, because I think what he`s saying is that he believes that the white citizens of Florida are too snowflaky, too sensitive, too scared, and not strong enough to handle actual facts about history, that they can`t handle it at work, they can`t handle it in school.
If I were a white Floridian I`d actually be offended. But that`s just me.
So, Ron DeSantis for being a big old snowflake and a big old baby, and trying to legislate people`s feelings, because it`s all feelings, not facts, you, sir, are the "Absolute Worst," and also a snowflake.
Here`s a bunny to make you feel better.
And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.
See, look, he`s not a snowflake. He can handle it.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.