IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The ReidOut, 1/20/22

Guests: Michael Cohen, Pete Buttigieg, Stuart Stevens, Shevrin Jones


January 6 committee seeks testimony from Ivanka Trump. House panel seeks info from Ivanka Trump about events surrounding January 6 Capitol attack. January 6 committee letter explains reasons for summoning Ivanka Trump. January 6 committee says House Freedom Caucus member warned against an attempt to overturn the election.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Andrew Leon Talley, he was 73 years old.


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

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing? Andre Leon Talley, one of truly the greats, gone too soon. You`ve lived a good life when people say, gone too soon, but he`s really too young. Thank you very much for that. I really appreciate it. Cheers.

All right, everyone. Good evening. There are lots and lots of new developments tonight on the plot to steal the election. A district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, is requesting a special grand jury in her investigation of Donald Trump. And there is a bombshell new report from The Washington Post revealing that Trump Lawyer Rudy Giuliani coordinated the scheme to forge documents to submit illegitimate electors from multiple states. Those falsified certificates later became a pretense to throw out Biden`s legitimate electoral votes.

But we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the select committee`s letter today asking Donald Trump`s daughter and former White House Aide Ivanka Trump to testify voluntarily before their committee. That letter is not just a scathing indictment of the former first daughter who never had any business, frankly, being in government, no matter who her daddy was, it also painted a devastating picture of how Trump stood in the way of real action as the country he was sworn to protect fell under attack.

The committee made clear they`re interested in a phone call between Trump and Vice President Pence on the morning of January 6th, which Ivanka and General Keith Kellogg both witnessed in the Oval Office. They revealed that in earlier testimony, General Kellogg confirmed that Trump pushed Pence to reject Biden`s electors. If you don`t do it, I picked the wrong man four years ago. You`re going to wimp out, he reportedly said. Then at the close of that call, Kellogg says, Ivanka Trump turned to me and said, Mike Pence is a good man. I said, yes, he is. In other words, Ivanka was praising Pence at the same time Pence was resisting her father`s unconstitutional demands. It suggests that she knew Trump`s plan to steal the election was wrong despite the quack legal theories from people like John Eastman and Jenna Ellis.

Of course, Trump chose to embrace those bizarre theories, tweeting on January 5th and on January 6th that the vice president has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors and encouraging him to, quote, send them back to the states so that he would remain president. Those claims were not only false and would have amounted to a coup but they also put a target on Pence`s back during the Capitol siege.

On the former point, the committee says they have information suggesting that Trump`s White House Counsel may have concluded that the direction Trump was giving Pence would violate the Constitution or would otherwise be illegal. The committee also wants to ask Ivanka why Trump issued a tweet at 2:24 P.M. after it was widely recorded that violence had broken out as Trump-crazed goons roamed the Capitol claiming, hang Mike Pence, and even bringing a noose. That`s the tweet where Trump said Mike Pence didn`t have the courage to do what should have been done. It was like throwing gasoline on a fire.

The timeline suggests that Trump likely knew what impact his words would have on that already violent crowd. And the committee says that they have evidence that this tweet ignited a frenzy. But when Trump was asked to stop the violence, the president was, according to one account, stubborn, and staff recognized that Ivanka may be the only person who could persuade him to act.

One exchange paints a devastating picture of the disarray in the White House. A text to a staffer asks, is someone going to POTUS? He has to tell protesters to dissipate. Someone is going get killed. A staffer responds, I`ve been trying for the last 30 minutes. It`s completely insane. Additionally, the committee suggests that even Ivanka, who is supposedly the person with the most influence over Trump, had difficulty persuading her father to act.

When Trump finally did agree to at least put out a video, multiple takes were filmed but not utilized. And the evidence suggests that that`s because Trump failed in the initial clips to actually ask the rioters to leave the capitol.

Furthermore, the committee reveals that the former acting secretary of defense has testified under oath that Trump never contacted him at any time on January 6th and never at any time issued him any order to deploy the National Guard.

Joining me now, Glenn Kirschner, former Federal Prosecutor, and Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to Donald Trump and host of the Mea Culpa podcast.

And, Michael, I want to start with you. Ivanka Trump, talk about her influence. Is it accurate to believe that if anyone could have talked Trump down, she would have been the one to do it? We have video of her at The Ellipse where she was there on that day with Donald Trump.


Could she have talked him down, in your view? And would he have put forward or come to believe a scheme to stay in power without telling her?

MICHAEL COHEN, : So, the answer to that is absolutely not. People overestimate Ivanka`s -- we`ll call it control over Donald. Nobody has control over Donald, not even Donald himself. And so the notion that just Ivanka sitting there in the office in the dining room off of the Oval Office saying, daddy, daddy, this needs to stop, someone is going to get killed, we already know this to be true. There is more than at least 300 people who have testified to the committee, the January 6th committee. We already know all this stuff. We have the text messages. You have the emails. You have the verbal depositions of these individuals.

I understand the point about taking this investigation slow, making sure that it sticks, making sure that Donald and his cohorts don`t get a chance to slip away, that it needs to be rock solid, but I`m sure, just like all of your viewers right now, we`d like to see it move just a tad bit faster.

REID: Yes, because, you know, it`s hard to get away from, Glenn, the kind of common sense evidence that lots of people understood, that Donald Trump himself believed and understood that there was a plan that in his mind could allow him to stay president. We have a letter from a Freedom Caucus member, we don`t know who it is, objecting before January 6 to this plan in the days before, according to the reporting a member of the House freedom caucus, these are the right-wingers, these are the tea partiers, who had knowledge of the president`s planning for that day, sent a message to the White House chief of staff with this explosive warning. If POTUS allows this to occur, we`re driving a stake in the heart of the federal republic.

The letter also says after the insurrection, Sean Hannity, who is extremely influential over Trump, Trump watches his show every day, hired his E.P. to be his comms leader, Sean Hannity texts Kayleigh McEnany laying out the five-point approach for conversations with Trump. It says, no more stolen election talk, impeachment and even the 25th Amendment are real. Many people will quit. McEnany replies, love that thank you, this is the playbook, I`ll help it be reinforced. And now you`ve got this Giuliani news that he is the one coordinating the plan to have these fake electors submitted. How do you possibly ignore this if you`re in the DOJ?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Let`s hope the DOJ is not ignoring it, Joy. I know that we hear a rising chorus of voice, people saying, we don`t see any outward manifestation of a criminal investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice, but I don`t think that means we can leap to the conclusion that there is no criminal investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice. I do not believe -- I can`t conceive of a Department of Justice ignoring the crime that we have seen in the harsh light of day. The frustration and the anxiety that we are all experiencing is we saw the crime, we know who the criminals are and we have yet to see any accountability. That`s what has us so frustrated.

Now, Ivanka is the latest in a long line of people that we know have incriminating information about Donald Trump`s conduct. The House select committee wants to hear from her, and that`s good. And I have to believe that the request for evidence and information and testimony is a precursor to a subpoena for the same from the White House select committee if she refuses to provide information voluntarily.

And I think there is just one question that Ivanka has to ask herself. Do I want to be a patriot moving forward through the rest of my life or do I want to be part of the cover-up of my father`s crimes. And if she opts not to provide information that she has and that is not privileged, there is no daddy/daughter privilege in the law, then she will become a member of the cover-up club together with Mark Meadow, Jim Jordan, Scott Perry, and anybody else who is refusing to provide incriminating information about Donald Trump.

There is a term for that. It`s called a cover-up. And Ivanka is going to have a choice to make. And you know what? If she maybes the wrong choice, I hope we eventually see the Department of Justice not only taking down all of the folks who are culpably responsible for the attack on the Capitol but the people who covered it up.

REID: Well, Michael, you know these people. Which one is she?

COHEN: Yes. She`s not going to go in and testify. So far, what Trump in this group of cohorts have elected to do is to basically show the American people that you don`t have to comply with these congressional subpoenas. So far we`ve seen how many people do it. They just choose not to show up.


And then right now, they`re supposed to then refer to it the DOJ for further action. I unfortunately believe that the January 6 committee -- that the DOJ is waiting for January 6 committee to refer it to the DOJ for criminal indictments. How many more months, how many more people do we have to listen to when you already, as Glenn just appropriately and accurately stated, we already know? We saw it with our own eyes. We heard it with our own ears. People died. They attacked the Capitol. They attacked the police officers, our Capitol police. This was a coup. Anybody that doesn`t think that it`s a coup is a kook.

REID: Let me read it again. Let`s put this back up. This is three. This is element three from our producers, Giuliani coordinating the plan. Giuliani initially oversaw the issue, according to campaign officials and party leaders. The campaign scrambled to distribute draft language for the certificates that would later be submitted to Congress according to campaign -- former campaign officials and party leaders. But some of the would-be electors actually refused to take part and they just simply replaced them. They had to replace them.

You have got The Guardian reporting that Stephanie Grisholm, who was the White House press secretary for a hot minute, has told already the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack that Donald Trump hosted secret meetings in White House residence days before January 6, according to two sources familiar with the matter. You have Don Jr. even, and I guess he is not beloved enough to be near Trump and just talk to him, he is texting Mark Meadows, saying, make it stop, make it stop.

What more, Glenn, could possibly be needed to haul Giuliani in, to haul Stephanie Grisholm in? I mean, Giuliani is obviously -- he is a lawyer. He is an officer of the court. He is coordinating a coup.

KIRSCHNER: Yes, and he has a Fifth Amendment right against self- incrimination, so he would be crazy to submit to questioning. He has a valid privilege. He can walk into the House select committee and say, I plead the Fifth, and they would excuse him because he has committed crimes and he is being investigated criminally by the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney`s Office.

But here is the thing. Michael points out that people just defy and deride and disregard congressional subpoenas. And there is lots of wiggle room to play those kind of games when it comes to congressional subpoenas. There is also ample wiggle room when it comes to, for example, Tish James, the attorney general for New York, who issued subpoenas for Trump and Don Jr. and Ivanka. But you can attack and challenge civil subpoenas and you can drag it out, which is exactly what the Trumps are doing.

You know where you can`t do it? When it`s a federal grand jury subpoena. Not all subpoenas are created equal. That`s another frustration with DOJ`s lack of movement and action, because if they were issuing DOJ grand jury federal subpoenas, guess what, you defy that, the U.S. Marshalls will promptly go to your home, cuff you and drag you before the grand jury, or if you have a privilege you want to assert, drag you before the chief judge to litigate the privilege in real-time, not Don McGahn run out the clock for two years kind of litigating a privilege. So, it`s another frustration that I think we all feel because there is this tool that can be used that is going unused, the federal grand jury subpoena, which could start to wrap all this stuff up promptly.

REID: And speaking of grand jury, this is our reporting here, this is NBC reporting, Georgia prosecutors have requested a special grand jury in the Trump election probe that they`re doing in Georgia. Fani Willis, Fulton County D.A. Fanny Willis said some witnesses have refused to cooperate without a subpoena. A special grand jury would have the power to subpoena witnesses, so that is happening.

I`m going give you last word on this, Michael. As somebody -- federal prosecutors sure weren`t shy about going after you.

COHEN: They weren`t shy at all.

REID: Your thoughts.

COHEN: Yes, they had no problem with showing up to my home, to the hotel we were staying at because our apartment was flooded, my law office. They had no problems with that. But I do have to say, God bless Tish James, God bless now Alvin Bragg and the district attorney`s office and everybody that`s working there. It`s my true belief that that`s where we`re going finally to see no one is above the law. We`re going to see justice be had simply because -- and, again, we can all blame Merrick Garland and so on. This one is really on Joe Biden. It`s on Kamala Harris. They`re the ones that need to be speaking to Merrick Garland and to really push this thing a little bit faster.

And, again, I`m not for these expedited hearings, these expedited indictments. I`m all for methodical. But we -- again, we`ve now spoken to 300-plus people, 2,700 hours have been spent taking testimony from people.


That`s 112.5 straight days worth of testimony. They all have the goods. Tish James has the goods on the Trumps so does the district attorney. So does the Georgia now case, and so does the federal government. And it`s really time to start to act.

REID: And not everybody is refusing to talk. Stephanie Grisholm and others, people are talking. It`s like no one is talking. Folks are giving information. They`ve got information. They`ve had hundreds of witnesses who did come forward and are telling what they know. Move it along. Glenn Kirschner, Michael Cohen, thank you both.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joins me on the one-year anniversary of the Biden administration. The accomplishments, what remains to be done and how we get there.

Plus, the latest from Florida, Ron DeSantis sure has a weird understanding, just truly bizarre, on the word, freedom. And it includes a very special new police force that reports directly to him.

And tonight`s absolute worst are two people you almost always think of as pair but not in a good way, like Sonny and Cher or Ernie and Bert, more like Bonnie and Clyde or Beavis and Butthead.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, I didn`t overpromise, but I have probably outperformed what anybody thought would happen.

Can you think of any other president that has done as much in one year?

You guys talk about how nothing has happened. I don`t think there`s been much on any incoming president`s plate that`s been a bigger menu than the plate I had given to me. I`m not complaining. I knew that running in.

And the fact of the matter is, we got an awful lot done, an awful lot done, and there`s more to get done.


REID: In his lengthy press conference marking one year in office, President Biden stressed that, in spite of everything that`s happened this year, the country has made a lot of progress.

And, on one hand, he`s right. The Democratic Congress passed a huge stimulus bill, one that kept the economy afloat and led to a drastic reduction in poverty. The Biden administration rolled out a vaccine response that has led to six in 10 Americans being vaccinated. And Biden signed into law a job-creating infrastructure bill, something his disgraced predecessor promised to do and failed.

But, at the same time, the strong Biden economy has been overshadowed by supply chain issues and record inflation that`s led to higher prices at the retail store and the gas station, hitting poorer folks the hardest. Omicron is surging throughout the country, killing nearly 2,000 people a day, and delaying a return to normalcy.

And Biden hasn`t been able to get Build Back Better or voting rights, with Congress stuck on stall, thanks to two members of his own party. And Americans seem to be feeling the negatives much more than the positives.

A new NBC News poll shows that President Biden`s approval rating has dropped 10 points since he first took office, down to 43 percent. It is the lowest approval rating for any president at the end of his first term, except for the disgraced retiree now patting around Florida in his socks, dreaming of autocracy.

President Biden is underwater on his handling of the economy, the pandemic and foreign policy. And he`s lost support from key groups, the independent vote dropping 32 points since April, the black vote dropping 19 points, and the Latino vote dropping 11 points.

His support among Democrats is still strong at 80 percent, but even that has fallen 10 points since April.

With me now is secretary of transportation Pete Buttigieg.

And before we get to the tough stuff, I want to wish you a happy 40th birthday, Secretary Pete. You are 10 years away from the fun years, I`m just going to let you know. And your child -- your kids will be old enough for you to actually go outside.

So, good luck on that one for 10 more years.


REID: But let`s talk about this administration.


REID: You`re welcome.

Let`s talk about this administration, which is 1-year-old. Where do you think the -- what do you think is the cause of the drop, not among Republicans -- they were -- they were already built to despise this president no matter what he did -- but among like African-American voters and independents and other groups who are important to the -- in the base?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think there`s a lot of concern about the work left to be done.

And nobody is saying, certainly, the president is not saying that we finished the job, that everything that we were worried about is better. But look how much better off we are than we were a year ago. The president arrived to a deeply, frighteningly divided country -- we still are -- but was able to deliver major legislation on a bipartisan basis with the infrastructure bill.

A year ago in the economy, the president inherited an economy that was in grave, grave danger. A year later, of course, there`s more to be done on the economy, but we have the unemployment rate below 4 percent, something people didn`t think would be possible for years, the most job creation of any president in their first year ever, child poverty perhaps at its lowest level that we have ever seen, more work to do, of course, but an extraordinary achievement in one year.

You look at the public health situation a year ago, less than 1 percent of this country vaccinated, now over 200 million Americans protected, saving, I believe millions of lives. There`s more to be done, especially with Omicron.

But you look at everything that`s been achieved in the last year, and we got to remember none of that was automatic. None of that can be taken for granted. None of that would have happened no matter who was in that seat.

Because President Biden led this country and led this administration, we got all of that done. And now the American people rightly are saying, OK, what`s next? What are we going to get done now? Because there is so much more to do, so much more that this country is up against.

And that`s exactly why we`re working even harder going into the second year of this administration to deliver.

REID: Well, let me ask you this question.

Do you think it was a mistake, looking back? Because the infrastructure bill that was passed was cleaved apart from what`s now being called Build Back Better. And, in a sense, it`s a bill that`s like a white guy employment act, right?


There`s going to be a lot of working-class men that are going to get employed by that bill. But that`s the very cohort that is much more likely to reward Republicans for that. That`s who they vote for. Most working- class white guys vote Republican.

Meanwhile, all this stuff for the women, for moms, for people who need child care, for people of color that`s going to affect climate, which young people really care about, extending the child tax credit, all the stuff that helps families and women and younger people and people with college debt, all that got dropped.

Do you think it was a mistake to split those bills?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, no.

And I want to challenge the idea that this is a bill that only benefits one part of the population. I get where you`re coming from and what you`re saying.

But, look, you look at something like the investment in transit, it`s Americans of color, commuters of color who are most likely to depend on that. You look at the jobs we`re going to create, and, yes, they have been traditionally white and male, but it doesn`t have to stay that way.

We are working with a lot of focus, at the direction of the president, to make sure that everything from the contracting opportunities for small business to the labor opportunities for workers, fixing the bridges, installing the electric vehicle charging stations, are more likely to be workers of color, are more likely to be women.

We`re working on women in trucking. After all, if we have a trucking labor issue, not enough people behind the wheel, and 50 percent of the country is being underutilized in terms of needing to call more women into that profession, we can do a lot about that.

Now, I also get what you`re saying. We look at the care economy. We look at parts of the economy that do employ more women right now, more workers of color. But there too, I mean, I think we shouldn`t assume that it`s only something that means something to one part of the population. The child care means an awful lot to me.

I`m a guy, but it`s going to mean a lot to me as a parent, which is why we continue to be committed to lowering the cost of child care, lowering the cost of insulin, lowering the cost of electric vehicles, something else in that Build Back Better legislation.

We continue to believe in all of that. We continue to fight for all of that. I`m proud of what we got done in this transportation infrastructure bill, but this is exactly why we`re not sitting back, saying, OK, well, we got everything done that we needed to in the first year. That`s why we`re working even harder to keep delivering.

REID: You know, the Doomsday Clock, let`s go to this. It`s at 100 seconds to midnight. The world is stuck in an extremely dangerous moment, according to this Doomsday Clock.

It scares the hell out of me. And I`m sure it scares the hell out anybody that cares about the future of the planet. But, again, that`s the stuff that could be fixed in what`s in Build Back Better, especially the climate pieces of it.

Is that going to get passed? And can you get that past a coal baron named Joe Manchin?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, these are good policies, which is why we`re going to keep fighting for them.

And, look, we have a responsibility, especially when it comes to climate to future generations, yes, but this is no longer some far-off thing. It`s impacting current generations too, wildfires, floods, heat waves, you name it. This is not theoretical. It is upon us.

But, again, I don`t want to downplay what is already in the transportation infrastructure bill on this. I mean, transportation is the biggest part of the economy that`s putting greenhouse gases in.

So, the funding for transit, the funding for complete streets, the funding for A carbon reduction program that is running into billions of dollars we`re going to be able to invest in that, that`s part of what we have already achieved, even while we are working with an enormous sense of urgency to keep fighting for the things that are in that Build Back Better vision, because they`re so important.

REID: You didn`t say you could get it past Manchin, though.

I`m going to have to have you come back. We have to talk just specifically about that. I mean, you guys have literally a coal baron in your way. It`s going to be difficult.

But I know you got to go. You have short time, but Secretary -- Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg -- we call him Secretary Pete around here. Thank you very much. Have a great evening.

All right, still ahead: the free state of Florida. Ron DeSantis, really? I mean, sure, you`re free to suppress voters, hit protesters with your car, and catch the COVID. But for voters, protesters, and people who don`t want to get sick, not so free.

We will be right back.




GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, members of the legislature and fellow citizens, together, we have made Florida the freest state in these United States.


DESANTIS: While so many around the country have consigned the people`s rights to the graveyard, Florida has stood as freedom`s vanguard.


REID: During his annual state of the state address earlier this month, Governor Ron DeSantis declared Florida to be the freest state in the nation, begging the question, does he understand the meaning of the word free?

What he has made clear by his utter disregard for Floridians` safety during the pandemic is that COVID has been given free rein in his state. But, beyond that, his recent actions have shown that he is, as "Washington Post" columnist Paul Waldman aptly describes it, creating a paradise of authoritarianism.

This month, DeSantis proposed establishing a first-in-the-nation special election police force that can arrest voters and others who allegedly violate his voter suppression laws. And that force answers directly to him.

He`s also cracking down on schools and businesses, limiting their ability to teach about America`s history and historic racism, for fear of causing white people to feel discomfort.

And if you try to protest any of that, don`t forget that he passed an anti- rioting law saying it`s OK for someone to mow you down with their car during a protest. The driver would be protected. So much for the free state of Florida.

With me now, Florida state Senator Shevrin Jones.

And just to go through all of this, Senator Jones, let`s start with that you can`t protest.


REID: We know that there`s a federal court that`s uphold -- that`s holding up that law, where -- the anti-rioting law.

But he`s basically said you`re not free to protest, but you are free to get COVID. And his own Health Department is not free to try got to stop COVID. A Florida Health Department official has been suspended for sending a pro- vaccine e-mail, Dr. Raul Pino, director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.


All he did was send an e-mail to employees that was critical the agency`s vaccination rate and saying, hey, get the shots. He gets suspended.

What is going on in the state of Florida?

JONES: Well, Joy, let`s be clear, the Republicans they are cloak -- and the governor -- are cloaking themselves in freedom, but, clearly, they pick and choose which freedoms and for whom they support these said freedoms.

Meanwhile, they are stymying the freedom to vote here and nationally. They are constitutionally protected freedom of peacefully protesting, the freedom to access reproductive health care, the freedom to succeed and access real and equal economic opportunity.

And you`re right. It is this authoritarian, strong hand leadership that Governor DeSantis and the Republicans here within the state of Florida are leading with. It is dangerous. It is disingenuous. And we have to continue to bring light to the situation that`s happening.

REID: Let`s talk about education. You`re on the Education -- you`re the vice chair of the Education Committee.

In this state now, it is illegal -- or he`s trying to make it illegal, Governor Ron DeSantis, to teach history that would make white people uncomfortable. Does that law include saying you can`t make black people feel uncomfortable or indigenous people? The history of indigenous and African-Americans could make one uncomfortable?

Is that illegal too, or is it just white people?


JONES: It just -- it`s just -- well, we -- let`s be clear how this -- and what this law was created for.

This is Governor DeSantis, part of his Stop the WOKE Act. And it was to make our whites feel comfortable and not feel uncomfortable. But, like I have been saying, when you want to talk about uncomfortable, what about my ancestors and how they were uncomfortable of being stripped away from their children or from their families, or being hung from a tree, as far as being uncomfortable?

But it`s very clear, Joy, that, right now, right now, within the state of Florida, the governor is moving with this national policy agenda, but he is not dealing with things that`s more important, the kitchen table issues that`s right now we need to be speaking about, like the raging COVID cases that we have, like upping the rent that`s taking place in South Florida.

These are the real issues that we`re dealing with. But yet and still, we`re dealing with the Critical Race Theory and The 1619 Project, an issue that is a nonissue.

REID: But also now the new bill that has been proposed inside this House, a parental rights bill that would prohibit teaching discussions about LGBTQ issues.

It says a school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.

Basically, parents could sue if they believe a school`s procedures are infringing on their fundamental right to make decisions about education. Essentially, kids who have LGBT parents couldn`t talk about their own families, and kids who are LGBTQ couldn`t talk about themselves in school?

How is that freedom?


Well, it`s not freedom. And, like you said in your opening, President -- Governor DeSantis, he calls this the free state of Florida, but this is not the free state of Florida. The governor is trying to not just censor how you teach black history, but he`s also trying to censor whether or not teachers can say the word gay in our classroom.

Let`s be extremely clear about something. As a former teacher, I want to make it clear that these children are more -- smarter than we think they are. And, as a member of the LGBTQ community, let`s be perfectly clear about something, that our children don`t need us censoring anything when it comes to them making sure that they can express themselves to their friends, express themselves to even to their teachers.

Now teachers, what, they should feel apprehensive of how they should help a child who might be coming for the -- coming to them screaming out for help? It is because becoming dangerous every single day to live in the free state of Florida.

REID: Let me ask you, who`s in charge in Florida right now? Because Trump and DeSantis don`t seem to be on the same page. Who`s the king of Florida, Trump or DeSantis?

JONES: Well, Ron DeSantis sure acts like he`s the king, because everything he`s doing, he`s banning local governments from making rules.

He`s banning what you can say. It is authoritarian. And it`s like Trump 2.0.

REID: Yes, it is. It`s a weird place right now, Florida, my former home state.

Florida state Senator Shevrin Jones, thank you very much. Appreciate you.

And stick around for tonight`s "Absolute Worst," because this one`s long overdue, and it`s going to feel so good to finally get it out of my system.

That`s next.



REID: As we all know, last night, two nominally Democratic United States senators, West Virginia`s Joe Manchin and Arizona`s Kyrsten Sinema, voted with Republicans to block a change to Senate filibuster rules to push through voter protection legislation, which we knew would happen after their twin overwrought explanations over the past week.


SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I believe with every fiber in my body that every eligible citizen of voting age should have the right to vote and be protected by law, everyone.

We`re debating a fundamental change in the Senate rules that will forever alter the way this body functions.


REID: Now, the obvious question is, if you claim to support voting rights legislation and vote for that legislation, why would you then oppose something that could actually allow it to become law?

But the Bonnie and Clyde of the Senate were full of high-minded rhetoric about the tradition, Senate history that is mostly garbage.


Here`s Senator Sinema last week:


SINEMA: What is the legislative filibuster, other than a tool that requires new federal policy to be broadly supported by senators representing a broader cross-section of Americans, a guardrail?


REID: Is the freshman senator from Arizona really so obtuse as to claim that it`s just a tool of the Senate?

Surely not, since the filibuster was routinely used to upend people of color for most of its history, like the nearly dozen times it was used to either kill or delay civil rights bills in the 19th and 20th century, or the three times it was used to kill anti-poll tax legislation, or the four anti-lynching bills it doomed.

Surely, the senator from Arizona knows that, or she just doesn`t care.

Then there`s Maserati-driving coal baron Joe Manchin, who cast himself as a man of principle.


MANCHIN: While some of the senators have changed their positions, I have not.


REID: Oh, really, Manchin? Because we`re old enough to remember what the Internet never forgets. You supported filibuster reform in 2011, crowed about co-sponsoring efforts to make changes to the filibuster, and said the Senate was paralyzed by the filibuster.

So, perhaps Manchin has forgotten everything before 2013, just as Kyrsten Sinema seems to have forgotten she used to be a progressive. Or perhaps, at this point, they`re just both more beholden to all the cash they have been raking in from corporate donors and Republicans while they oppose President Biden`s agenda.

But what`s most galling about Manchin and Sinema`s latest gambit is that these two didn`t vote to protect the minority. These two shows minority rule. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema stood with 50 Republican senators, altogether representing just 45 percent of Americans, to deny voting protections to all Americans, endorsed by the Democratic president of the United States, who the majority of Americans voted for in 2020.

Perhaps that`s why Republican senators were so eager to shake Senator Sinema`s hand after last night`s vote.

So, for deciding that, when it really counted, to stand with every Republican, and deliberately choosing the wrong side of history and blockading voting protections for all Americans, in the name of minority rule and sinking President Biden`s agenda yet again, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are indisputably tonight`s "Absolute Worst."

And up next: Where do we go from here?

Stay with us.



REID: Now, as you can probably tell, I`m pretty sick and tired of Senators Manchin and Sinema and their faux political purism.

Democrats can thank them, and them alone, for this overwhelming feeling of dread and disappointment. And it`s something that I think we`re all feeling right now, right?

But here`s an idea. Isn`t checking out and walking away, why not channel those feelings into something positive, like making those two centrists and their 50 Republican cohorts totally irrelevant?

How, you ask? By electing more Democrats to the Senate, the House, governorships, state capitals, and even school boards. Drown the obstructionists out. Strip them of their power.

Today, EMILY`s List and NARAL made the first move by revoking their support and funding for Senator Sinema. Now, I know it`s not it`s not sexy. And some of you have said, look, we did this already, and look what it got me.

But this is not a Marvel movie, where some superhero swoops in and saves the day. I wish it was. Captain America, where you at? Spider-Man? Black Panther? Anybody?

In the end, it`s going to have to be up to us. Now, I don`t particularly enjoy quoting Trump`s favorite orc, Steve Bannon, but if you want to punish Senators Manchin and Sinema and their fellow 50 Republican obstructionists, then flood the zone with Democrats, good ones, because Democrats -- because Republicans are not walking away.

No, no, no, they are lying in wait. And what they`re waiting to do is far more terrifying and dangerous than what they have already done.

I`m joined now by Democratic strategist Juanita Tolliver and Stuart Stevens, senior adviser to The Lincoln Project.

And I`m going to start with you, Stuart, because you -- you were a stalwart Republican. You worked to elect Republicans. It was your life`s mission. And you -- I am not going to speak for you, but most of the Republicans I know, even the ones who are still Republicans, are even saying, at this point, just vote D down the line, right?

Because the only way Republicans are going to learn and be forced to change is if they lose across the board. Do you agree with that?

STUART STEVENS, THE LINCOLN PROJECT: Look, I think we`re in an unprecedented political era that we haven`t been in at least since 1860, and when you have a major party, Republican Party, that the majority of those believe, not that Joe Biden is a bad president, not that he`s the president that they didn`t want, but that he`s in illegal president.

REID: Right.

STEVENS: We have never been here before.

I can`t imagine how difficult it is to be inside the White House and trying to deal with Republican senators and trying to get them to vote for something, when their -- the majority of their party is saying, you shouldn`t even be in the White House, you`re illegal.

So I think that there really aren`t two political parties, in a traditional sense, in America anymore, one that has a conservative ideology or center- right and one center-left.

I think there`s an autocratic movement that is embraced and represented by the Republican Party, and there`s a Democratic Party, which is a small-D pro-democracy group.

I don`t know how else to call it. And I think all these issues we used to talk about, all those ads I made about capital gains tax or this or that, they just seem quaint.


STEVENS: So, I think the next two elections are incredibly important.

And the only way to save little-D democracy, I think, is to vote for big-D Democratic Party.

REID: And here`s the thing, Juanita. People tried that in Virginia, where they`re like, I can go with this Republican because he doesn`t seem nuts, right?

But then what you end up with is, the same guy who you tried to pretend was different from all the other Republicans being like, guess what I`m going to do? This is about to be Florida, stripping off all the mask mandates, stripping off anything that can stop COVID. Come in, COVID. I`m going to ban books by black authors, Toni Morrison banned.


They`re all going to do it, because the pressure and all the political incentives are to do all the same things in any state, no matter what their job is.

It that message, do you think, getting out clearly from Democrats, that, at this point, you really just have to replace every Republican and then move on from there?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I feel like Democrats are going to fight an uphill battle.

As Stuart mentioned, people do have this sentiment that, OK, you`re not delivering necessarily as what I expected. But Democrats absolutely should make a central part of their messaging the fact that Republicans` playbook is simply tapping into white supremacy and racist themes and narratives.

And we have seen that in everything that they do, right? Like, we know that it`s also appealing to white women voters. And so counteracting that, I think, goes beyond messaging and also takes shape in the type of candidates that Democrats are putting up, because also remember, in Virginia, you had two black women in that primary who could have had a very different reaction to Glenn Youngkin than we saw from Terry McAuliffe, right?

REID: Fair.

TOLLIVER: They could have called it out in the moment. They could have named it. And they could have moved it in a different direction.

But the messenger matters just as much as messaging. So, Democrats should take this as another move to diversify their candidate pool. Make sure you`re running people who can recognize these issues and call it out in the moment powerfully, because that is the only thing that I think is going to move voters at this point.

REID: And I think that the Democratic Party at the top -- I mean, right now, there are at least four, maybe five potential black statewide Senate candidates, in Florida, in South Carolina, in Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes, in Kentucky that`s running against Rand Paul, Charles Booker. You could go on and on and on.

You could elect five -- you want to know what would really piss Republicans off in the Senate and make Mitch McConnell mad? Put five black senators in there. It would ruin his life.

Let`s play Mitch McConnell, since I voted -- sorry -- I talked about him. Here he is kind of saying something weird about voting.


REID: This is cut two.


QUESTION: What`s your message for voters of color who are concerned that, without the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, they`re not going to be able to vote in the midterm?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Well, the concern is misplaced, because, if you look at the statistics, African-American voters are voting in just as high percentage as Americans.

A recent survey, 94 percent of Americans thought it was easy to vote. This is not a problem.


REID: OK, first of all, the Freudian slip aside of whether he thinks that black people are Americans, Stuart, what he just revealed is the motive.

He just gave away the motive to the crime. Ron Brownstein writes about this. He wrote in -- he wrote this in 2021. He just re-upped it recently.

"With their drive to erect new obstacles to voting, particularly among the Sunbelt, Republicans are stacking sandbags against a rising tide of demographic change. In most Sunbelt states, kids of color are now a majority of all who turn 18 each year."

That`s the motive, right, Stuart? It`s because more and more people of color are voting in larger numbers and percentages. That`s why they`re trying to make it so hard to register and vote, including in states like Arizona. It makes you think maybe Kyrsten Sinema ain`t just doing things that are nutty.

Maybe she`s doing things to help the other party, because that`s the only way they can win. Maybe that`s the only way she can win.

STEVENS: Well, look, I think it`s sort of common sense that you don`t have this frantic effort to change voting laws if you think you`re winning.

REID: There you go.

STEVENS: This all goes back to a fundamental failure of the Republican Party to expand largely behind its white base.

1956, Eisenhower gets over 40 percent of African-Americans. It drops to 7 percent in `64 and never really came back. The country is becoming less white. One out of 10 Americans in the new census is white. Those 15 years and under, the majority are nonwhite.

Odds are really good they`re going to turn 18 and still be nonwhite. And the Republican Party`s aware of this. So, instead of -- it`s a tragic decision.

REID: Yes.

STEVENS: And we used to admit that this was a failure.

I mean, Ken Mehlman went before the NAACP and apologized for the Southern Strategy.


STEVENS: Now it`s been embraced. And the party has become, for the most part, a white grievance party.

And I think that it`s clear what`s trying to happen here. They`re going to try to change how you vote because they can`t change the America that is changing.

REID: That`s right.

Yes. And the only strategy left, then, Juanita, is apartheid, right? It`s apartheid. You look at Mississippi, you say there are all these black people here. I could attract them, but it`s easier to just suppress them.

TOLLIVER: It`s easier to suppress them. It`s easier to rig the system.

And we know that that is the GOP playbook, right, when you have someone like Mitch McConnell saying, oh, we`re not doing a legislative agenda for the midterms, because this is their agenda, rigging the -- rigging our system, undermining our democracy.

And Republicans stand for weakening it further, because they know who it hurts. It hurts black voters, Latino voters, AAPI voters, and indigenous voters most.

REID: Yes.

TOLLIVER: And that is who they`re banking on not having vote in the midterms.

REID: Amen.

Be like Arya Stark, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina. Go take all those states, you all, watch everything change.

Juanita Tolliver, Stuart Stevens, thank you both very much.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.