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Transcript: The ReidOut, 1/22/2021

Guests: Bina Venkataraman, David Plouffe, Ted Lieu, Paul Butler, Midwin Charles


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: There is breaking news tonight on the second impeachment trial of the former U.S. president on charges of inciting insurrection against his own country. In the past hour, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the Florida man`s trial will begin the week of February 8th, just over a month after MAGA rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to install the defeated president in power by force.

Now, in a moment, I`ll be speaking with one of the Democrats who will prosecute the case.

But there`s also big news tonight from the new administration. Facing a mounting economic crisis, President Joe Biden continued to push forward with an ambitious agenda 72 hours into his administration. With more than 10 million Americans out of work and 50 million people, including 17 million children facing food insecurity, the president issued an impassioned plea for the passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The virus is surging. We`re 400,000 dead, expected to reach well over 600,000. Families are going hungry. People are at risk of being evicted. Job losses are mounting again. We need to act. No matter how you look at it, we need to act. If we act now, our economy will be stronger in both the short and long run.

The bottom line is this, we`re in a national emergency. We need to act like we`re in a national emergency. So, we`ve got to move. With everything we`ve got, we`ve got to do it together.


REID: President Biden also signed to new executive orders. One will seek to increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, aka SNAP, for nearly 12 million families, and the other would set a $15 an hour minimum wage for employees of all federal contractors and provide emergency paid leave.

Meanwhile, the Senate confirmed Lloyd Austin to serve as the country`s first ever African American secretary of defense. Republicans who spent the past four years cheering on the previous president`s executive actions, including Muslim bans and extraneous wall building and his legislative inaction, have, without irony, called Biden`s rescue package a non-starter.

Since Wednesday, Biden has signed roughly 30 executive orders, actions and memorandums aimed at addressing the pandemic, the economy and inequality. Many of these orders have actions target both urban and rural communities and workers across the country, a huge break from his immediate predecessor who only seemed to care about his base.

Meanwhile, Republicans, who held the White House, the Senate and the House for two years and passed little more than tax cuts for the super-rich are complaining that Biden is doing too much too fast without their say.

Take for example, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who`s kicking his feet and throwing a fit over the Senate filibuster and demanding that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer whose caucus represents a larger swath of the American electorate than Republicans do promised to maintain the 60 vote threshold on most legislation.

That is correct, you heard it right. The guy who made it his number one priority to block President Barack Obama`s agenda and use the filibuster at levels rivaled only by southern Dixiecrat filibusters of civil rights legislation during the 1950s and 1960s, that guy, wants to make sure that he can rinse and repeat with Biden, essentially making himself co- president.

And while My Way Mitch is busy trying to set the terms of President Biden`s legislative agenda, the rest of the Republican Party is engaged in a flurry of fake outrage over unity and procedure.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): He knows the agenda and those executive orders he`s signing a partisan, that`s dividing.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): President Biden, in one sentence, would say that he wants unity, and then in another attacks an agenda and a list of policies that actually helped our country.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AK): The end of the travel ban on countries like Syria, not because we can all of a sudden vet Syrians coming into this country, to make sure they`re not a threat, or make sure that they don`t carry the coronavirus, but because, again, the Democrats wanted to signal their virtue that they`re going to reverse everything Donald Trump did regardless of its impact on the American people.


REID: Sorry, since when did they care about the coronavirus?

Anyway, one thing is clear, while a bankrupt real estate crook is no longer in charge of the Republican Party, his xenophobic, Islamophobic, America first ideology remains the bedrock of today`s not so grand old party. Because what the former president believed, and I mean the worst stuff, that is what they believe in too.

Joining me now is David Plouffe, former senior adviser to President Obama, Bina Venkataraman, former adviser in the Obama White House and Editorial Page Editor for The Boston Globe, and David Jolly former Republican congressman from Florida who is no longer affiliated with the party.

And, David, I have to start with you. There`s been this sort of conceit among people who analyze Republican voters and Republican legislatures, that they went along with Trump because they wanted tax cuts and they wanted judges, but they really didn`t believe in the stuff, the sort of yucky stuff that he wanted to do. And, David Jolly, I have to go to you on this because it`s clear that they did believe in the yucky stuff, the stuff that they pretended that they didn`t really care about is what they care about.

Donald Trump`s campaign promises, this is what he said he was going to. He told his base he was going to repeal Obamacare, didn`t do that. He said he was going to invest in infrastructure. There`s infrastructure week every week, never did that. Bring back manufacturing, no. Build the economy, no. Build a wall, make Mexico pay for it.

What his record actually is, is that fewer people are unemployed, 3 million fewer than when he started, the deficit is more than $3 trillion higher, they don`t care about the debt, and the debt is $27.7 trillion, up by 7.8 trillion.

So I submit to you that the only thing I can tell the Republicans actually really believe in is banning Muslims, mistreating brown immigrants and keeping them out of the country, and other stuff that`s the bad stuff.

DAVID JOLLY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Those are the policies of Donald Trump and those policies are the policies of today`s Republican Party, Joy. And this goes back to the false narrative that somehow Donald Trump hijacked the Republican Party. He didn`t. He walked through the front doors to the open embrace of party that was looking for his leadership. It`s why they elevated him, it`s why they celebrated him, it`s why they protected him.

And this resistance you`re seeing right now, it`s interesting. You`re right, it does reveal convictions that are there among the Republican Party when they push back on some of these Biden initiatives, which many of them happen when anytime the party switches in the White House. There are certain things that can be done by executive order that automatically swing back the other way. And certainly, following Donald Trump, there was a lot that any Democratic president would have undone. This is not a matter of unity. This is a matter of policy.

And if Republicans want to ensure that Chuck Schumer obliterates the filibuster for legislation, keep up this type of obstinate behavior. Republicans are going to play right into Chuck Schumer`s hand to obliterate the filibuster and allow them to pass Biden`s agenda.

REID: And, Bina, the unprecedented crisis we`re seeing here, previous presidents have come in, Lincoln who had with civil war, you have Wilson who had to face World War I, and also a giant pandemic, you have obviously Barack Obama came into the great recession, FDR, the great depression. So, you had previous presidents facing catastrophes. Biden is facing them all at once.

And, normally, when you have a catastrophe at that level, you throw money at it because you have to throw money at it. It`s not usually a partisan thing, except that it is a partisan thing.

So, I wonder if this might be the moment where sort of working-class people wake up and see that the Republican Party doesn`t care about them.

BINA VENKATARAMAN, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, THE BOSTON GLOBE: Look, there`s a kind of American amnesia that Mitch McConnell is relying on right now because, remember, the one part of the Republican agenda that Trump really did achieve, nothing in terms of reversing Obamacare and so on and so forth, but was the Trump tax cut of 2017, which there`s a beautiful irony to the number of $1.9 trillion, which, of course, is the cost of this COVID relief bill that Biden wants to pass, but it`s also the figure that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Trump tax cut of 2017, will contribute over ten years to the deficit.

So this is a red herring to suddenly talk about fiscal discipline at this moment, particularly because now we`re in an economic crisis, and most reasonable credible economists in this country believe this is the time when you spend to bring the economy back, even if that`s the argument, even if that`s the level in which you`re making this argument.

But, importantly, I think Joe Biden is also exercising a kind of moral leadership here when he talks about people being able to put food on their tables, people being able to pay the rent, clarifying that unemployment benefits should be used by people who are quitting their jobs because they have fear about unsafe working conditions. That`s something that has not been clear during the Trump administration, and congressional Democrats have been asking for that clarification, so people aren`t choosing between their health and paying the rent, choosing between their health and putting food on the table for their children.

And that`s something that is part of both the executive action that he`s taking as well as what he`s proposing on the Hill. And I think what we have to realize is that if that Republicans can`t get behind measure that would add less to the deficit than their tax cuts for the upper crust of the American society, to help Americans while the economy is in freefall. They are not here to serve the public. They don`t deserve to be in public service.

And I hope that more Republicans will get behind the bill as we see in coming days as it gets to the Hill.

REID: And, David Plouffe, permit me to associate myself with the thoughts of Bernie Sanders. I mean, technically, Democrats could just do what Republicans did with the tax cut, use reconciliation and pass what they want, right? I mean, they don`t have to go and try to seek unity as long as, you know, the gentleman from West Virginia doesn`t bail on them. They could theoretically just say make Republicans vote on this. Do you want Americans to get this cash benefit, yes or no, up or down vote, or do use reconciliation? Do you think that they should break this bill up and make them go to the floor and say yes or no to each piece of it or should they just jam the bill through the way the Republicans would?

DAVID PLOUFFE, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, first of all, Joy, I agree with David Jolly, which is the first 72 hours of the Biden presidency, I think, is setting the table for Biden and Democrats in Congress to say we tried to work with the Republicans, but if we so much as suggested anything Donald Trump did was wrong, it`s disunity, number one.

Number two, I do think the political messaging here is not complicated. If you can`t win a political message argument that says a lot of these Republicans spent almost $2 trillion on a tax cut for the very wealthy, but they won`t spend the same to help small businesses and workers and farmers and kids in need in poverty, like you ought to get out of politics.

And third, yes, I think -- listen, I have seen this up close on the Hill and in the White House when I`ve worked there. So much of the Republican strategy is conditional Democrats being weak and caving, that we won`t go that last mile (ph). And so my view is, given the historical nature of what Joe Biden has inherited, as you said, he has got no option but to do everything he thinks is necessary to beat the pandemic and strengthen the economy.

And he`ll go out of his way, as you know Joe Biden will, to work with Republicans, to listen to their ideas. But at the end of the day, it`s just theater and they`re going to oppose everything, you`ve got to use reconciliation, because otherwise the country is going to be so very weakened and we have an opportunity and the clock is ticking right now.

REID: Well, and, David Jolly, you were name checked here. I mean, you have a situation where the incentive structure on the Republican side is built by Sean Hannity, who has declared the first week of the Biden administration to be a failure. It hasn`t been a week. It`s 72 hours. And so the incentive structure is to just keep looking at Fox and then look over Fox`s shoulder at OAN and Newsmax, right, worried about that rather than the American people. I don`t know how long this incentive structure remains successful with voters. Because as Biden said, there are Republican people that are hungry right now too.

JOLLY: Yes, joy, here is what`s driving Sean Hannity and the Republicans absolutely crazy. It`s this. Joe Biden is the perfect president for this moment, and they don`t know what to do about it. That`s not to say he`s going to have a perfect presidency. But coming on the heels of Donald Trump in the middle of a pandemic, Joe Biden`s message of unity is exactly what the nation needs.

There will always be a cottage industry of entrenched negative partisanship opposition. We`re seeing that with Hannity and Republicans. But they don`t know how to confront a unifying president in this moment. Look, later on, Joe Biden is going to have to choose a hard-ideological direction. Maybe the world stage will hand him a tough deck of cards. But for right now in this moment, Joe Biden is the perfect president.

And here is the one thing Republicans could be talking about, or Democrats, the one authentic debate we should be having about the stimulus. It`s not about the deficit. Republicans don`t have credibility on that. It is about how do we eventually move the economy off this fault stimulus that we have had to embrace to get us through this, right? The fed has had to do some things outside the reach of legislation, but the Congress has had to step in and act to stand up the economy.

It is a fair conversation for Democrats or Republicans to say, okay, we`re going to go another round of 1.9 trillion. What is the long-term plan to bring our economy stably off of this fault stimulus? I think that`s a good policy conversation to have. If Democrats don`t grab it, maybe Republicans could, but it doesn`t give them the fire that Sean Hannity wants to breathe on Fox News every night.

REID: Well, and quick, first I`m going to go to David first and then Bina, because it seems to me that the simple message, just based on what you just heard from David Jolly, Americans outside of the people who are super partisan and who are real party people, they just want things to get done. And if Democrats are saying, we`re fighting a war against the sinking the economy and the virus and they are saying, no, no, no, no, no. Like it seems like the simple message is we`re the checks party and they are the no party. It feels like Democrats have a strong argument if they`re willing to make it.

PLOUFFE: With the general public, Joy, that`s right. With the hard-core Republican base, no. The insurrectionists, who I think are only going to grow, and so many Republicans in Congress that is thinking about running for president are not thinking about the center of the country or even the right center part Republican Party.

But, yes, the other thing I think that strengthens Joe Biden`s (INAUDIBLE), when you hear him talk about the pandemic today, it is so shocking to hear an American president speak about it truthfully and honestly, the stakes, the impact. And so, I think by lifting up the stakes that what`s at stake here is whether we get on the other side of the pandemic, what`s at stake here is whether we have years and years of recessionary economics or not. What`s at stake here is, you know, tens of millions of people are living by thread.

Trump basically downplayed and lied about it. So, I think Biden being out there every day, not just saying what he wants to do, reminding people how serious the situation is, that this is a war-like situation, it`s a national emergency. I think that`s a great term. I think for 65 or 70 percent of the American people, their answer is, just get us help. So that doesn`t handle the primary activists but that`s been our problem in American politics for a long time.

But in terms of this relief package, yes, I think he can speak to not just the middle of the country but even reach into the center right part of our country as well.

REID: And the final word for you on this, Bina, I mean, the new president, President Biden, has sort of festooned his office with the real sort of Americana that speaks to who we`re supposed to be, the Ben Franklin versus Andrew Jackson, having all these busts of MLK and RFK, et cetera, that sort of says something. Do you think that he needs to keep the visuals going, be on T.V. every day, speak to the country every day? Maybe that`s the one thing he can pick up from the previous guy, is just be constantly visible, would you say that that`s a good idea for him?

VENKATARAMAN: I think it`s certainly a good idea for him to be giving clear public health messages. We know communication is key during a public health crisis, and making sure that there`s clarity around mask wearing, around what he is doing to serve the American people. But to David Plouffe`s point, I think the way a lot of way the politicians on either side of aisle win in this crisis is by delivering material improvements to Americans` lives.

So if those bills, if those measures, if those executive orders start improving people`s lives, helping them put food on their table, help bring back the economy, bring back restaurants, bring back jobs, that`s going to be the way that politicians win in the long-term and that`s what they should be focused on, as opposed to this sort of interim messaging.

That said, I think from the bully pulpit of the White House, absolutely, Joe Biden getting out there, reassuring the American people that he understands the tremendous loss of nearly half a million lives in this country, that he understands the things that they`re going through is certainly a welcome change and I think something that`s going to make him appeal to the American public in a way Donald Trump never could.

REID: Yes, indeed, the best politics is delivering. David Plouffe, Bina Venkataraman, David Jolly, thank you all three, have a great weekend.

And up on THE REIDOUT, the Senate is set to receive the lone article of impeachment against the former president on Monday.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): The Senate will conduct a trial of the impeachment of Donald Trump. It will be a full trial. It will be a fair trial.


REID (voice over): One of the House impeachment managers joins me next on the case for conviction.

And QAnon in crisis, the wild conspiracy theory about the inauguration fell flat. Does that make them snap out of it? Of course not.

Back with more of THE REIDOUT after this.


REID: The little autocrat who couldn`t remain on the hook for his role in whipping up the Capitol riot that killed five people.

The impeachment article for inciting insurrection heads to the Senate on Monday, setting off the second Senate trial for the former president that he`s faced for high crimes and misdemeanors. The trial will begin this week on February 8. Predictably, staunch defenders of the old order remain.

Lindsey Graham continues to denounce the effort. He`s also rejecting calls to install Biden`s Cabinet while proceeding with the trial at the same time.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Hopefully, the Senate will reject the idea of pursuing presidents after they leave office.

If you want to impeach the president, we`re going to do it like we have always done it. We`re not going to split the day.


REID: Joining me now is one of the impeachment managers, Congressman Ted Lieu of California.

And, Congressman, thank you so much for being here.

And I got to start by asking you if you feel -- the first trial didn`t feel like a fair trial. It was brilliantly handled by the impeachment managers, but it was clear that the Mitch McConnell and the Republicans were never going to allow there to be a full trial.

In this case, the lawyer for the ex-president was arranged through Lindsey Graham, right? He set him up and put him in there. It`s somebody that`s got a history of serving with George W. Bush. But this is somebody that Lindsey Graham put him in there.

Do you feel like, between that and having two of your jurors are sitting there with ethics complaints against them, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, that you even have any possibility of a fair jury for your case?

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): We do.

So, first of all, I think that says a lot when the public report shows that the president was having trouble finding lawyers to represent him. I`m pleased that he was able to find a lawyer to represent him. And we`re ready to go, whether it`s next week or February 8.

We believe we will present a very, very persuasive case, because the American people saw crimes unfold in real time, including these U.S. senators, some of who were victims of what happened on January 6.

REID: Is it possible for you to call senators as witnesses?

LIEU: So, the Senate will come up with procedures and rules for the trial, and we will follow whatever those rules are.

We have a very strong case based on the evidence that many in America watched on that day. Donald Trump inciting this mob to violently attack the Capitol to stop Congress from formalizing his defeat. Trump was using violence to try to stay in power.

REID: Right.

So, there`s getting to the evidence of that, and then there`s getting to whether or not the trial itself is constitutional, which appears to be what is being set up as argument number one.

Ron Johnson, who through the quirks of the way Senate procedure works, because the Senate hasn`t been organized yet, is still in charge of the Homeland Security Community, even though he`s term-limited and in the minority, but he came out and he tweeted the following: "Democrats can`t have it both ways, an unconstitutional impeachment trial, and confirmation of the Biden administration`s national security team. They need to choose between being vindictive or staffing the administration to keep the nation safe. What will it be: revenge or security?"

What he essentially is saying, Ron Johnson -- this is the guy who was floating conspiracy theories about Ukraine -- is now saying that he wants to hold hostage the national security staff of the incoming president to try to stop the impeachment.

Again, you`re walking into some very shark-filled waters here.

LIEU: Right.

This has nothing to do with being vindictive. It has to do with deterrence. It has to do with our national security. Future presidents need to know that they cannot attempt a coup to hold onto power, and the only time they`re going to try this is after they have lost an election, and it simply can`t be that a Senate is going to say, we have no jurisdiction to deal with what presidents do after the presidential elections.

Of course, the Senate does and, of course, this is constitutional. And in the 1800s, Congress, in fact, did impeach and convict a former secretary. So, there is ample precedents for this.

REID: And so, if you can get through that first step of being able to say, yes, it is constitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a president who`s out of power, when you move on to step two, what is going to be your primary argument for conviction?

LIEU: So, again, I want to note that, not only is it constitutional, but over 150 constitutional law scholars, including conservative members of the Federalist Society, have signed on to a letter saying this is completely constitutional.

And our argument is very simple. Donald Trump, the commander in chief, incited an insurrection. It was an attack on our nation`s Capitol to stop Congress from accepting the certified Electoral College results. And a number of people died.

If you`re not going to impeach and convict a president for doing that, it`s not clear to me why you even have that clause in the Constitution.

REID: Yes.

And very quickly to shout out to William Belknap, who was impeached in 1876, my great producers here, on charges of prosecuting his high office for lust for private gain. He resigned trying to escape impeachment but got impeached anyway. So, there`s a precedent.

But, again, I have to come back to the fact that there is such disingenuity on the other side. You have members on the other side who have already made it clear that there`s -- they don`t even want this trial to happen.

And you have also -- do you feel a little awkward presenting this case in front of people who helped whip up that mob, people like Ted Cruz, people like Josh Hawley? Should they even be allowed to be jurors here?

LIEU: We`re going to present the case to 100 senators. We`re going to try to get 100 senators to vote for conviction, because, at the end of the day, what happened was not only utterly acceptable.

Crimes were being committed, instigated by our commander in chief, and this was done to maintain power. And if we don`t do something now, then future presidents in future generations will go, huh, I lost the election. Let me see what I can do to try to maintain power. Let`s try a coup. And maybe next time they`re going to be successful.

That`s why we have to act strongly and swiftly, and I hope all senators will be open to convicting.

REID: We will be watching.

Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you so much. Really appreciate you being here this evening.

And to all of you, be sure to join us on Monday. Right as we go on the air at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, House managers, including Congressman Ted Lieu, are scheduled to deliver the article of impeachment to the Senate, setting the wheels in motion for the trial.

And still ahead: Guess who`s getting bail, while people of color charged with petty offenses languish in jail? That`s right, the American insurrectionists, some of whom are offering simply just ridiculous exclude excuses for their actions.

More on that after this quick break.


REID: Remember Riley June Williams? She`s the woman arrested on Tuesday accused of stealing Speaker Pelosi`s laptop during the Capitol insurrection. She`s now facing charges of violent entry, theft, trespassing, and obstructing.

Not only that. She`s also under investigation for allegedly plotting to sell Speaker Pelosi`s laptop to Russian spies. And yet she was released from jail in her mother`s custody on the orders of a magistrate judge. And as the court transcript suggests, that judge appeared to take quite a bit of pride in his decision.

He reminded Williams that -- quote -- "I took steps to protect your constitutional rights by appointing counsel for you." And he added that her counsel aggressively represented her interests.

Williams just one of many defendants from the Capitol siege who have been freed from jail pending trial. There`s also the guy who infamously took Nancy Pelosi`s lectern. He was released from jail.

The guy with the "Camp Auschwitz" sweatshirt was released because prosecutors didn`t even bother to seek detention.

Even one of the men seen carrying zip tie handcuffs, indicating that they may have intended to take hostages, was released by a Texas judge.

It`s another reminder that equal justice under the law exists in theory in this country, but not really in practice. We have seen a trend in this country, where suspects who commit petty crimes like shoplifting are upcharged with felonies after their first offense.

Then there are the thousands who languish in jail pending trial because they can`t post -- they can`t afford to post bond.

According to the Prison Policy Initiative, black and brown defendants receive bail amounts that are twice as high as bail set for white defendants. And they are less likely to able to afford it.

Perhaps the most egregious case is that a Kalief Browder, the Bronx teenager who spent three years in a Rikers Island jail cell without a trial. Nearly two of those years were in solitary confinement, all because he was accused of stealing a backpack and couldn`t afford bail.

The charges were ultimately dropped, but Browder`s experience at Rikers was so traumatizing, he never really recovered. He committed suicide two years after his release at the age of 22.

With me now is Midwin Charles, civil trial and criminal defense attorney, and Paul Butler, former federal prosecutor.

And, Midwin, you and I have texted about this. I have seen you tweeting about this.


REID: I mean, there are defendants who are accused of almost nothing who are sitting in Rikers or in other jails around the country and can`t afford bail.

How do you feel watching these tens of attempted insurrectionists waltz out of jail and out of court, not even go into jail?


All criminal defendants are entitled to due process and equal protection under the law. Unfortunately, we do have a criminal justice system that metes out disproportionate outcomes on the basis of race.

The statistic you threw up there is 100 percent accurate. But let me just throw another one out to you; 25 percent -- black males -- or black people, rather, are 25 percent more likely than white defendants to be held pretrial.

Now, nationally, young black men are 50 percent more likely than white men to be held pretrial. And just as you said, their bail amounts are twice as high.

Now, it is not surprising for me to see this disparate treatment that the insurrectionists are getting. When we talk about Kalief Browder and we talk about, for example, Black Lives Matter protests and how they were treated by Capitol Police in terms of no restraint, right?

We saw police dressed in RoboCop gear, using tear gas. We didn`t see that at the insurrection on January 6. But we -- in my experience, I have had clients that have spent more time in jail than this woman who is alleged to have stolen Nancy Pelosi`s laptop for fare evasion, driving without a license.

And she gets to not only not be in jail right now, but released to her mother, as though she`s a child. And we also have a federal judge speaking to her and about her as though she just stole a T-shirt from H&M.

You would -- if you looked at the charges she was facing, you would not recognize the severity, the backdrop, and the context within which she was arrested. And it`s unfortunate. And it`s something that we have to work towards fixing in this country.

REID: Indeed.

I mean, Paul, just as a former prosecutor, you have people who are making the most absurd excuses and demands inside of these courtrooms.

"The Washington Post" reports a former Houston police officer who was in part of the riots is trying to claim he only breached the Capitol because he wanted to see the art.


REID: You have "The Los Angeles Times" reporting that the rioters are arguing Trump invited them in, and now they think they should have gotten pardons.

Too bad. He doesn`t care about you all.

"I answered the call of my president," they`re saying, saying Trump told them to do it, the devil made me do it defense.


REID: And magistrates are hearing these cases and saying, you know what, I think I`m going to send you home. Maybe I will get you a Burger King and a nice organic meal to go with it. We will treat you as if you -- as Midwin just said, as if you are accused of boosting a sweater from H&M.

And they invaded our Capitol. Can you explain this, as a prosecutor?

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I can`t explain it as a prosecutor or as an American.

I can`t explain it as an African-American person who, unfortunately, is all too familiar with two different systems of justice in this country, one for rich people and white people, another for low-income people and people of color.

So, yes, the defenses that we have we`re seeing, three, the first, Trump made me do it, that`s accurate, but it`s not a defense to seditious conspiracy or even unlawful entry. The other defenses, Antifa or the Black Lives Matters movement made me do it, there`s simply no evidence that any of those folks were at the Capitol with all of these Trump supporters.

And the third defense is, it wasn`t me.

But video records, cell phone records and eyewitness testimony all rebut that defense.

REID: They`re getting dis -- by their own family members and neighbors and friends.

I mean, and it`s not -- it feels like the disparate treatment, Midwin, not is just only black and white, because you have Enrique Tarrio, who is an Afro-Cuban, who`s the head of the Proud Boys, who was caught with magazines, with gun magazines, which you cannot have in the District, who was arrested for tearing down a Black Lives Matter sign.

And he wasn`t held. He was ejected to Florida, but he was still allowed to come out. It almost feels like there`s also an -- a difference in -- if your ideological makeup is conservative...

CHARLES: That`s right.

REID: ... your crimes relate to a conservative ideology, you also can take advantage of the disparate treatment.

CHARLES: Or, also, what it is that you are there for and what it is that you`re protesting.

For example, we saw a sort of, I think, a restraint approach with the men who had overtaken the Capitol in the state of Michigan. We didn`t see a sort of huge undertaking to charge them with serious crimes or anything like that.

So, I think you`re right. It seems as though the issue that people are actually protesting seems to mete out a different treatment, but throughout the system, so not just with respect to bail, but also with respect to how police treat you, with respect to what charges you are charged, with respect to whether or not you stand trial, with respect to what the sentence will be.

And so I think the tell going forward with this case -- or with these cases are going to be, what will these people be convicted of, and what sentence will they receive, right?

REID: Yes.

CHARLES: We have seen the disparate treatment, not just with bail, but with sentencing, for example, in cases like Brock Turner and Lori Loughlin.

I mean, there`s so many different cases in so many different areas of law that make it plain that this disproportionate -- like Paul was saying, two different systems for two different people is accurate.

REID: Yes, indeed.

And, Paul, I mean, you have seen the treatment of the guy who -- the kid who shot up Mother Emanuel Church and got served Burger King by police. You have seen the release of the teenager who shot two white Black Lives Matter activists and is out on bail, and throwing -- and allegedly throwing the white power sign.

Like, it feels like the ideological disparity is now starting to compete with the racial disparity in terms of treatment. Is this something about judges? Are we just -- is this because there are so many conservative judges? What do you think that that is about?

BUTLER: Well, we can think about implicit bias, where, just like we saw at the Capitol on January 6, white danger isn`t perceived the same way as threats from African-Americans, even when black folks aren`t actually threatening.

So, with bail, judges are supposed to consider the seriousness of the charges, criminal history, ties to the community, and financial circumstances. And, unfortunately, the way that judges evaluate this evidence redounds often to the benefit of people who are rich or people who are white.

And, look, jail is a bad place if you`re awaiting trial. There`s evidence that people are more likely to plead guilty because they just want to go home. They can`t work or spend time with their families.

So, there`s nothing wrong with being released, if you`re not a danger to the community. And what we know from these domestic terrorists is that not only do they present a flight risk, but these are white supremacists who attacked Congress to overturn the election.

They are a clear and present danger to national security and public safety.

REID: Yes, somebody please tell these magistrates.

Midwin Charles, Paul Butler, thank you both very much. Have a great weekend, both of you.

And up next: the QAnon identity crisis. What do you do when every bat poop bananas belief you cling to -- I did say bat poop bananas -- turns out not to be true?

Stay with us.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Politics doesn`t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn`t have to be a cause for total war, and we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated, and even manufactured.


REID: At the same time President Biden was calling on Americans to believe in facts again, the fact that he was getting inaugurated at all was a huge shock to QAnon supporters, who believed the inauguration was an elaborate trap, wherein Democrats would be rounded up and executed, while the former president retained power.


As Biden took the oath of office, QAnon followers posted dejected messages, one concluding, "We all just got played," and another saying they were just -- they were beyond let down.

But while some QAnon supporters may have been disillusioned by that gory prediction not coming true, others have moved on to brand-new conspiracy theories.

And joining me now is NBC News reporter Ben Collins.

And, Ben, Julian Sanchez -- or Julian Sanchez tweeted some of these theories that the people who are refusing to accept reality are saying, that Biden`s inauguration was faked, there was a look-alike used, that the images you`re seeing of Biden in the Oval Office are from a movie set. United States was transformed into a private corporation, but then secretly dissolved or restored into a real government by Trump. So, Biden has been cleverly switcherooed and is only president of his now defunct corporation.

Trump had to appear to leave office, so that the impending military overthrow of the Biden administration would not appear partisan.

Like, I mean, it`s really -- it is bat poop bananas.

So, is this real, or are these the people who are like the guy who dresses in the horn outfit that are actors trying to make a buck?

BEN COLLINS, NBC NEWS REPORTER: I will say we`re closer to the second one than the first one at this point.


REID: Yes.

COLLINS: A lot of these people are -- they`re on their sort of last legs. They`re going down sovereign citizen arguments. These are really old arguments, that whole thing about -- there`s a lot of, like, symbolism and stuff they look into when they`re -- when they can`t really get a grasp on a full thing.

But I will say, it`s still really dangerous, what`s happening here. Pizzagate died in December of 2016. It was this idea that Hillary Clinton was running a sex ring through a pizza shop in D.C. And that went away because they were banned from social media platforms after a guy went to go shoot up that pizza shop.

But then, 10 months later, QAnon happened. And I know a lot of people who thought, how much dumber can it get than Pizzagate? And it did get dumber. It does get dumber. It`s not about the information. It`s not about what they`re saying and how stupid it sounds. It`s about the networks that work together to push this information to people who are desperate and want to find answers where there are no answers.

REID: Well, and there -- and it also tends to get more white supremacist, right?

I remember, during the whole Tea Party buildup, there were stories that white supremacist groups were lurking around Tea Party rallies, seeing if they could recruit people. That feels like a place that -- a rich environment, maybe, if they`re looking to recruit here too.

COLLINS: Yes, the beauty of the Internet is that this is all out in the open.

So, we are seeing on Telegram white supremacist groups with scripts to give to dejected QAnon followers. They say, hey, look, I`m a Trump supporter, too. I have been -- I have been let down as well, maybe by Trump, maybe by Q, whatever. But, in our world, in the white supremacist world, we don`t just let it go by. We don`t let this passive plan go by. We drive people to direct action.

And that`s what -- they were targeting people that they called Parler refugees, which were people who had been on Parler all the time and suddenly had nowhere else to go. Those people aren`t going back and reading like "The Paris Review" or something.

They are not -- they`re not diving into good information all of a sudden. They are going wherever they can confirm their priors, wherever Hillary Clinton is still this demonic figure. And where is that more than these white supremacist groups on Telegram?

So, those people are being snatched up right now in real time. And while we laugh at these people, which we should -- this is a funny thing that these people thought this was going to happen -- the only people not laughing at them are extremists. And they are taking them in.

REID: Well, I mean, yes.

And the other issue is that, just as with the Tea Party, people thought, them with their crazy signs and monkey dolls and everything, we`re like, that`s absurd. Then a bunch of them became members of Congress. You now have QAnon, that`s got almost a dozen people in Congress.

And you have Marjorie Taylor Greene, who`s now making videos sort of trying to make herself like the QAnon AOC.

So, how much -- dangerous is it that they now actually have representatives, there are people in Congress who have power who believe in this?

COLLINS: Yes, as you can see, that there is this sort of -- the king of QAnon is -- the next one is yet to be sworn in.

Donald Trump doesn`t have the power to play footsie with those ideals anymore. So, now it`s -- the tip of the spear here is wide open. So, there are people angling for this right now. It`s Marjorie Taylor Greene. It`s Lin Wood and Sidney Powell and all these people who jumped into play after the election to do the whole stop the steal thing.

All of them are trying to angle to be the central driver of these conspiracy theories. And that`s the most important thing about QAnon. It`s not about Q. It`s not about this -- it`s not about the cabal that they complain about.

It`s about this grievance culture, where they can substitute in new conspiracies over time, as long as it fits into these networks they have built on the Internet that can push these lies all the way to the mainstream media, all the way to places like FOX, where they kind of have to allude to these things.

So, that`s the worry. It`s that...

REID: And, to be very clear...

COLLINS: ... Marjorie Taylor Greene is going to do that. She`s going to try to do this.

REID: Yes.

And just to be very clear, this is also about making money. They push these things, and then they monetize it, because they make these people into marks that give them cash, right?

COLLINS: Oh, yes, absolutely.

And it`s a really marketable thing. And, sometimes, they`re not even buying anything. They`re just donating money to influencers who say exactly all of their fantasies. They make them -- they make them real with a YouTube video. They put some nice, fancy graphics on them.

And all along, you can say that Hillary Clinton was that demon, and then somebody will just you money through PayPal. So, this is an extremely lucrative business. It`s not going to go away overnight.

REID: Yes. It`s all a grift.

Ben Collins, thank you for following all of this for us, so that we don`t have to follow it as intricately as you do.

Thank you very much. Have a great weekend.

Coming up: the passing of a monumental figure from the world of sports. That`s next.

Stay with us.



HANK AARON, FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER: I couldn`t go out of the ballpark without an escort. I had to stay in another hotel, rather than staying in a hotel with my teammates.

It was the toughest moment of my life that I had.


REID: Hank Aaron spoke to NBC`s Craig Melvin last year about the searing racism he faced back in the 1970s, as he eclipsed Babe Ruth`s home run record.

Mr. Aaron died this morning. And the world of baseball and just the world, period, has lost one of its legendary figures. He played for 23 seasons in the Big Leagues, and his record of 755 home runs stood for more than 30 years.

Mr. Aaron was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1982 and was one of the first high-ranking black executives in baseball, which, sadly, is still a rarity.

Yet, despite his almost unparalleled accomplishments, it was his perseverance while facing intense racial backlash that defines his legacy. Aaron, who grew up in deeply segregated Alabama, dealt with racial abuse and humiliation for much of his life, most famously during the final stages of his chase to dethrone Ruth as baseball`s home run king in 1973 and 1974.

Aaron received a flood of racist hate mail and death threats from people outraged that a black man would dare overtake a white baseball legend.

The horrific treatment deeply scarred Aaron, but it certainly didn`t stop him. On April 8, 1974, at the age of 40, Aaron hit his record-breaking 715th home run in his home stadium in Atlanta and received an 11-minute standing ovation.

A black athlete who exhibited incredible grace and strength in the face of such great hostility was now being showered with adulation in the Deep South, cementing his place in baseball and American history.

Hammerin` Hank Aaron was 86 years old.