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Transcript: The ReidOut, 1/3/22

Guests: Michael Eric Dyson, Tom Nichols, Sandra Garza, Chuck Schumer, Daniel Uhlfelder, Bernard Ashby


U.S. democracy facing unprecedented challenges in 2022. Democrats fight back as GOP tries to dismantle democracy. GOP Representative Cawthorn says America`s founding fathers would be horrified by America today.



ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: So, if that interests you, you can check it out. I`m going to post it online.

Now, that does it for me. We have a very special edition of THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid coming up next. Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing? Happy New Year, Ari. You`re having too much fun already, it`s only three days in.

MELBER: Happy New Year. I will be watching for news that will be made in your big interview tonight. So, we`ll be watching.

REID: Oh, thank you very much. I really appreciate it. Have a wonderful evening.

All right, good evening, everybody, and Happy New Year to you. Welcome to 2022. I sure hope it doesn`t pick up nasty habits from 2021. I also want to thank the great Tiffany Cross for holding down the bridge for me last week while I took a few days off for a much needed vacation. I literally did nothing but like sit on my couch and binge watch stuff and sleep late. I loved it.

So, anyway, last year was a lot. I think we can all agree. The COVID pandemic took the lives of more than 800,000 fellow Americans, even with three free vaccines out there. And for the first time perhaps in human history, a virus became entirely political, with Republicans now accounting for 60 percent of those which were still in the middle of a congressional investigation over, and which has resulted in more than 700 arrests and lots of prosecutions, just not of anyone of the top. None of the presumed planners have been charged with anything, including Donald Trump.

The U.S. officially became a declining democracy in 2021 both because of the Trump coup attempt and because a large chunk of one of our two major political parties, the Republicans, essentially dropped its support for democracy in favor of ruling this country by any means necessary, passing hundreds of Jim Crow-style laws that attempt to block any voters who likely wouldn`t vote Republican from the polls, mainly black and brown voters, of course, enacting bizarre redistricting maps, and even empowering local Republicans to overturn lawful elections.

And so we are confronted as we start this New Year with two very different concepts of citizenship that are struggling to exist in the same society. There is one, which says that particularly when faced with a crisis, that as a member of a national community, I should do what I can to help other people, that we should help other people as a society. So, if people are poor or hungry, we should pass laws making food and resources available, or if people are getting sick, I should put on a mask and get myself and my family vaccinated so not only do we not get sick, we don`t risk getting other people and other people`s grannies sick. And we should take care of the planet since we all have to share it.

And if the candidate I vote for in an election loses, well, I can object to that and even refuse to embrace the winner, First Amendment, baby. But I`m not doing to storm the Capitol and beat up police officers and leave people dead just because I didn`t get my way. We`ll use governmental oversight if there were issues and, at worst, we`ll just fight it out in the next election.

And then there is this other version of citizenship, which essentially says that the purpose of a society is not to advance a lot of us but really advance me and people like me. And I have no obligation to the greater society because anyone other than me should not be my problem. It`s a really extreme form of great man libertarianism. It`s Ayn Randism mixed with fascism, plus a Brazil and Moscow chaser. So, if people are poor or hungry, that`s on them. I don`t want to pay a penny more in taxes to help. Hell, if I play my cards right, I might be the next Bezos and take pleasure trips to space.

Now, if I choose, I`ll give the cherry because that will make me feel good and me look good, but you can`t make me help other people. It`s a version of citizenship that depends not just on toddler level selfishness but on the existence of a group of special citizens who much always win and be appeased in order for things to be, quote, fair, and secondary citizens and non-citizens, whose feelings just do not count. It`s a society designed to make me the member of the special citizen group and people like me feel good all the time. So, if a school history lesson makes me uncomfortable because it presents people like me in a negative light, no one can be allowed to learn that lesson. My special citizenship means that all history has to big me up and compliment me and make me happy all the time.

Never mind that the other people who are stuck in the secondary citizen groups have had their history consigned to being secondary characters in the American story, to being just slaves who seem happy enough to my ancestors, so what is the big deal? And just Chinese who built the railroads and had no important history or the Japanese who were in turn but we cannot talk about why that was or that they were actually Americans, or, God forbid, who, for all intents and purposes, don`t even exist, except as the Indian with the Thanksgiving corn or Tonto to my Lone Ranger.

You don`t get to change my happy narrative about me to one that`s more accurate because changing that would make me feel bad so the laws should and must stop that. Books that make me uncomfortable should be banned or burned.


I don`t like abortion. It makes me uncomfortable, so ban it. And I actually pay me if I can catch someone trying to help women get one. When I vote, the candidates who I select have to win, otherwise, it`s a literal crime. And I get to react to that as violently as I want to with no consequences.

I like guns. So, if I use mine and shoot you, too bad, I like them and you can just be dead. Oh, well, no limitations on me. And if I`m the police, sorry for you. Literally, everything I do is fine because I am a special citizen. And who are these special citizens? Well, they`re white so-called Christian conservatives who feel like this country was built by them, for them, and so everyone but them needs to suck it up and let them have their way or else.

And their party, the Republicans have gone from pretending to be the party of personal responsibility to unmasking themselves as the party of selfish people who cannot play well with others. And they even have their own cable networks, plus something called get her, which kind of sounds like porn.

Moving on. Any whom, Star Treky, old treky, I love Star Trek. So, they kind of remind me of Charlie from that classic Star Trek episode, the annoying alien incel who destroys everything around him whenever he doesn`t get his way. So, the special citizen says I don`t want to wear a mask, and if you try to attack me, I`ll attack those low-wage clerks at the store or at the Burger King. And I don`t want to get vaccine either. If people get sick from me, oh, well, not a problem. Joe Rogan said it was fine.

My kids aren`t going to mask up to protect other kids. F those other kids. Their parents are probably commies anyway, which usually means people who want rights for other people and who actually give a damn what happens to them.

So, this midterm election year, we are going to find out which brand of citizenship is stronger, and the answer will tell us whether our democracy is strong enough to survive.

With me now, Michael Eric Dyson, distinguished Professor of African- American Studies at Vanderbilt University and author of Entertaining Race, Performing Blackness in America, and Tom Nichols, Contributing Author for The Atlantic and author of Our Own Worst Enemy, the Assault from Within Our Modern Democracy. Thank you very much. I appreciate both of you guys for being here.

MED, I`m going to start with you because you write about this idea of sort of performing race in this society, and it`s interesting, the context of all of this is that we do -- it does feel to me like we are having the redemption period after reconstruction, that a certain percentage of America chances feel like the country used to focus on them and fixate on them and they were the main character. And now that they feel that they`re not the main character and they don`t always win and they don`t get to do what they want and they don`t get to have their way, it`s all an outrage, it`s all a crime, everything must be overturned so it goes back to the way they thought it should be. Can you just walk us through, from your point of view, just sort of somebody who looks at history, how we end up getting out of those kinds of circumstances, because the last time, I don`t feel like it was permanent, our exit from that mess?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, PROFESSOR OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Right, or the latest reissue of Leave it to Beaver or Dennis the Menace, take your pick. So, the reality is, right, you don`t want to play in the box with others, you want to take it to yourself. We are faced with a malignant narcissism on the one hand and a fearless fascism on the other hand. And it is true, if you look at a historical epic that is parallel to ours, that period of redemption, post-reconstruction where we are fighting for the future of this nation, where we`re saying, finally, we will put the metal of democracy to the test, we will figure out if we are truly committed to it or if it`s been all words, not deeds.

And what we`re finding now, your brilliant genealogy, Nichi and Fukou (ph) you would be applauded you right now. What is interesting is that the genealogy you presented to us is so spectacular because it really condenses and distills a view point that is about strict self-regard, self-interest and acting in a self-interest and self-regarding way. Not that self- interest is bad or self-regarding is bad but to the -- at the expense of the common will, what Benjamin Franklin understood to be the common good that has contributed to by our actions and deeds.

No founding father or mother or brother or sister could condone what we see going on now. We use their words in vain. They were about despite their flaws, the democratic process, small D, expanding the parameters of our society as we were willing to sacrifice for the greater good. The people you have cited are the exact of opposite. They want to take from the dominant society and from democracy, all the goods and services that they can extract. So, this move of extraction is about the expansion of their narrow concern about what society is.

So, yes, when you talk about black people who were enslaved getting free, trying to make this country better and then people saying, nope, you got too much already, you shouldn`t have had what you already have. You used to work for us, no you don`t do that anymore. So, let`s figure out a way to re-jigger the system to make you subservient again.


Yes, that`s where we are. And the denial of it, the denial of it is especially tragic.

And I`ll end by saying this. When you lay on top of that anti-science, anti-fact, an allergy to truth, sphere, precedent, can dictate the terms of those with whom he disagrees to the point that they are illegitimate, that they are not true American citizens, this is the other definition of a fascist impost (ph) that has to be ameliorated by our consistent commitment to expanding the boundaries of democracy.

But then, again, the Asian folk, the Chinese folk, the Japanese folk, the African folk in America, the immigrants, those whose bodies have born the burden of the expansion of democracy must once again rescue this democracy from those who have been its privileged inheritors.

REID: And it`s interesting, you mentioned the founders, and, Tom, you know, little Madi Cawthorn, the tree-punching guy -- the tree-punching pro- insurrectionist guy, he tweeted, well, the founding fathers would never recognize this country. No, they wouldn`t. They wouldn`t recognize the country. Me and Michael would have been slaves. They wouldn`t have been on television. They wouldn`t have been able to imagine television.

But, I mean, one of the ways in which they wouldn`t recognize this country is that it originally wasn`t envisioned as multiracial democracy. Let`s just be honest. And so we`re struggling to sort of take the founding documents that put forward a very unique idea for democracy, a solid idea for democracy, and apply it to something they didn`t intend, which is multiracial democracy. And I feel like we`re struggling because we don`t really have a blueprint for how to do that.

And, Tom, what I worry about is that one of the things that`s the biggest impediment to us doing it is, number one, is this narcissism that somehow we`ve gotten into. You write about this a lot and you talk about this a lot and you and I tweeted about this a lot. This sense of I have got to win, I have to have my way or it`s not fair, and also this kind of almost religion of conspiracism. I feel like when you mix those, I`m not sure we can have a multiracial democracy with those things in place. What do you think?

TOM NICHOLS, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, there is a lot going on there. One of them is that this culture after narcissism has filled this yawning gaping hole where spirituality used to be for a lot of people, that this has become a religion of the self. It has become a search for meaning. Life is supposed to be interesting. It`s supposed to be heroic. It`s supposed to be fun and enabling (ph).

And the idea that previous generations took pleasure, a civic pride, a pleasure in civic virtue by serving others, by being selfless, by being stoic, by not constantly talking about your sense of grievance and your sense of anger and outrage, that is completely alien to multiple generations now of Americans who are all about vocalizing a sense of loss even though they haven`t lost anything.

You and Michael were talking a moment ago about people who have had something taken from them. The irony is that a lot of the people that are storming these barricades have had nothing taken away from them. They have been told they have had things taken away from them and their acceptance and embracing of that notion has given their lives some kind of meaning.

And what Michael checked -- name checked Leave it to Beaver but, Joy, you had me at Star Trek the original series. And there is a -- that character that you referenced is internal adolescent, which is what we have become in this country. We are eternally adolescent. We take offense at everything. We look for reasons to take offense because then to respond to it is empowering. We take no pleasure, and I`ll get off the soapbox, but we take no pleasure in adulthood anymore. We take no pleasure in simply saying there are burdens to be shared, not everything goes my way. There are things that have to get done every day that are not fun or interesting.

And it used to be that your father`s generation, mine, our parents, my mom, my dad, they took a certain silent pride in saying why am I a hero? I get up every day. I get my day started. I go to work. I take care of my children. I mow the lawn, I plow the driveway, whatever it takes. That`s not enough for people anymore and that`s when democracy starts to fall because then that emptiness and that lack of meaning is something they project onto the government and they say it`s the government`s fault that I feel like my life is empty.

REID: I feel like this is so -- I wish we had the whole hour to do this. Because it would be such a shame if we lose our democracy because of boredom and a sense of people not having -- feeling they have meaning in their lives, and, therefore, QAnon gives them meaning, believing that there are children are locked up in a pizza shop in D.C. gives them meaning, or storming the Capitol because they`re pretending Donald Trump`s sadness that he didn`t win the presidency again is really a true conspiracy.


Like I absolutely agree, it`s a search for meaning but it`s a search for meaning in some really vicious, vicious, vicious ways.

I wish we could do more but we have to move on. Michael Eric Dyson, Tom Nichols, thank you both very much.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, with this week`s anniversary of the January 6th insurrection, we are learning more about what the president at the time did or didn`t do that day. Sandra Garza, longtime partner of the late Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknick, joins me next.

Plus, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is promising a vote this month on changes to the filibuster to get voting rights through the Senate. Senator Schumer will join me.

And it`s not even Ground Hog Day yet but tonight`s absolute worst has finally emerged from his hidey hole, promising many more months of COVID winter. Yes.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: It`s been nearly a full year since the January 6th insurrection and we are learning more and more about the role that our disgraced, twice- impeached former president and Republican members of Congress played in perpetrating and enabling the attack on our democracy.

Over the weekend select committee chair Liz Cheney -- vice chair, I should say, Liz Cheney said that there`s firsthand testimony of how Trump watched the attack unfold and did nothing for hours.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): The committee has firsthand testimony now that he was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office watching the attack on television.

We know, as he was sitting there in the dining room next to the Oval Office, members of his staff were pleading with him to go on television to tell people to stop. We know Leader McCarthy was pleading with him to do that. We know members of his family, we know his daughter, -- we have firsthand testimony that his daughter Ivanka went in at least twice to ask him to please stop this violence.


REID: The committee has also learned that Trump recorded several unreleased videos during the insurrection, before ultimately releasing one telling the insurrections to go home, and also that he loved them, that they were very special.

They have requested those videos from the National Archive.

This comes as the committee continues to receive documents and testimony from witnesses, including former NYPD Commissioner, Trump legal adviser and pardoned former felon Bernie Kerik.

But it`s what Kerik did not provide that`s noteworthy, including a withheld document titled "Draft Letter From POTUS to Seize Evidence in the Interests of National Security for the 2020 Elections."

We`re also learning more about the end goals of the January 6 Committee, including legislation to prevent this from ever happening again.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): There`s some legislation that we hope to recommend with this report that Congress needs to adopt, so that what occurred on January 6 will never happen again. We came critically close to losing this democracy as we have come to know it.

And so it`s our duty, as patriots, as Americans, as members of Congress, to make sure that we get it right.


REID: And though we haven`t heard a lot from the DOJ, it says it`s also taking steps to hold the insurrectionists responsible, with Attorney General Merrick Garland planning to update the country on those efforts on Wednesday.

I`m joined now by Sandra Garza, longtime partner of fallen Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick.

And it is so good to see you, Sandra. Happy new year to you.

And I want to start by asking you about this idea that you heard the congressman and the chairman of the committee say about planning legislation to try to prevent a future insurrection, like the one that resulted in the death of your loved one, Brian Sicknick.

What do you make of the fact that it is highly unlikely that, if legislation came out of this committee, that it would ever make it through the United States Senate, because the insurrection itself is now a partisan football?

SANDRA GARZA, GIRLFRIEND OF BRIAN SICKNICK: It`s very depressing, very, very depressing.

These -- the majority of these Republicans have just acted incredibly defiant. They, for whatever reason, have remained loyal to Donald Trump, even though there`s overwhelming evidence, especially now with the things that have come out that the committee has uncovered, that, just like most of us had pretty much assumed, that he instigated this entire event.

He stood by for hours and watched what was going on during -- at the Capitol during this insurrection, watching everything unfold like it was an action movie, and had no empathy, no care in the world for these officers that were being beaten and pummeled, the innocent people in the Capitol.

It`s a very, very frustrating process. And I`m not just -- like you were kind of alluding to...

REID: Yes.

GARZA: ... I`m not so confident of how far we`re actually going to get.

I honestly feel -- and I`m very frustrated. Trump belongs in prison, period. Unfortunately, he`s had decades of experience of this legal wrangling and how to kind of skirt the system and draw stuff out. And it`s very, very, very frustrating.

I actually am reading a book right now on suffering. And I learned that the word patience is actually derived from the Latin meaning to suffer. So, we just actually just have to remain patient, unfortunately, and suffer.


REID: Yes.


GARZA: And that`s what Trump enjoys. He revels in it.

REID: And I want to play -- I think what you`re saying is just so poignant -- it`s just so poignant for me, because you`re right that he does seem to revel in suffering. He does seem to find it sort of fun, a bit fun.

But it`s -- I cannot tell. I don`t know if you feel like you can tell. I don`t know if any of these members of Congress on the Republican side have ever bothered to talk to you. I know it was difficult for you to get them to face you and talk with you at the time.

But I want to play for you. This is a fellow brother officer of the late Officer Sicknick. His name is Harry Dunn, as you know. Here he is talking with Jonathan Capehart, who asked him how it feels to continue to work in a space with members of Congress who are ignoring the insurrection.


HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER: Doing your job as a police officer, you look at what`s important, and now what the mission of your job is.

The person is not important, but the seat that they represent is important. As long as you keep that perspective, you`re able to do your job, because it`s not about a person. You think about what that seat represents. And that`s thousands, hundreds, millions of people that that seat represents.


REID: What do you want to see Merrick Garland say when he speaks on Wednesday? What are you hoping to hear from the Department of Justice?

GARZA: I would like them to say that they`re going to really work very hard to make something happen here.

I mean, I know the wheels of justice turn slowly. I get that. But a lot of people have suffered greatly. And it`s not just the officers. It`s not just the families of the officers that were harmed in this. It`s the American people, the American people that voted and wanted their voices heard. And Trump and all the people that enabled him wanted to overthrow that.

And it`s scary. We just had three -- I think it was three generals that came out and did, I think, an op-ed that said that they`re fearful that another coup attempt is looming in 2024. That`s terrifying, terrifying.

REID: Do you -- do you -- would you want to see members of Congress prosecuted, if they were involved in planning or knew in advance about the insurrection?

GARZA: Oh, absolutely.

And I believe that there are some that did know, absolutely. Ali Alexander said that, that there was. I don`t see any reason why he would lie about that. I mean, I could be wrong. But, I mean, there`s just too many dots, when you take them separately and then you kind of connect them, that show that there was some prior knowledge here that shows that they were aware.

You look at Gosar, he was consorting with some of these people affiliated I believe it was with the Oath Keepers, and some other shady things that were said and done. It`s just too coincidental, very disturbing.

REID: Indeed.

And I will note for our audience there`s a poll that shows that 52 percent of Republicans right now think the insurrectionists were protecting democracy. "The Washington Post" has a poll finding that one in three Americans say violence against the government can be justified, citing fears of political schism and the pandemic.

It is -- we`re not in a good place, I don`t think, by any means.

But, Sandra Garza, I always appreciate you coming on and spending some time with us. Thank you very much. Really appreciate you.

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

But, first, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer joins me on his push to change the filibuster rules to pass crucial voting rights legislation. And I will ask him whether he can get those changes past a certain two conservative Democrats.

We will be right back.



REID: In advance of this week`s anniversary of the assault on our democracy, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised that Senate Democrats will do what it takes to protect and strengthen American democracy.

In a letter, he vowed to hold a vote on rules changes to the Senate filibuster to move forward on blocked voting rights legislation. Schumer wrote -- quote -- "Let me be clear. January 6 was a symptom of a broader illness, an effort to delegitimize our election process," warning that, without Senate action, the events of January 6 could become the new norm.

Schumer stressed: "We must adapt. The Senate must evolve, like it has many times before."

The Senate will debate and consider changes to Senate rules on or before January 17, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, assuming its Senate Republicans will continue to block the legislation, which you should.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer joins me now.

And, sir, thank you very much. I really appreciate you being here.


REID: So, tell us, what are the specific rules changes that you are considering putting on the floor?

SCHUMER: Well, first, Joy, let me just say that what happened on January 6 is a direct continuation of -- or the big lie, which Donald Trump perpetrated, created January 6, and that is a continuation of what`s happening around the country.

You had Mrs. Sicknick on. And we all pray for her in peace and mourn her loss.

But, right now, election officials, nonpartisan election officials, just plain people who are doing their job to count votes, are being threatened in state after state with violence. A few of them have had to have police protection.

So the idea that January 6 is totally a one-off is wrong. It`s now being perpetrated by this attempt to take away voting rights of so many people, people of color, young people, people who live in urban areas, handicapped people, elderly people. And so we have to fight against this.


And we -- as you said, Joy, it would be great if Republicans would join with us. In the past, it was always bipartisan, voting rights. President Reagan, President W. Bush, President H.W. Bush all supported voting rights, and they passed overwhelmingly.

But the new Republican Party, under the leadership of Donald Trump, is viciously against voting rights and trying to take those away, and jaundice not only our elections, but our whole democracy.

REID: Well, let me...


SCHUMER: So, if we can`t get Republicans -- if we can`t get Republicans to join us, we are exploring a variety of different rules changes.

And we will -- we are working and trying to get all 50 Democrats, including Senators Manchin and Sinema, to go along with those rules changes, because, if we don`t change the rules, the Republicans will block this, and our democracy could be at risk, and even wither in very real -- in real ways.

REID: And I think everyone who`s watching the show agrees with that, that these voting rules changes must happen, because democracy is at stake.

Let me present you with a couple of rules change options that have been presented by people, including on this show. So, Al Franken, friend of THE REIDOUT, and Norm Ornstein have put forward one idea to reform the filibuster, meaning you would flip the numbers from 60 votes required to end debate to 41 required to continue it, moving the burden from the majority to the minority, meaning the minority -- the minority could still prevail, but would require a major effort by the minority to accomplish its ends.

And, for both sides, bipartisan compromise might be the best way to do that.

There`s another option, which is by a gentleman named Jeff Blattner, who was the former chief counsel to Senator Ted Kennedy. And this is a reform that could actually work without changing the filibuster at all.

So, it says this: "When it comes to major legislation, it would assure that the minority gets a full debate and the right to offer relevant amendments. After an extended period elapses without offering of an amendment gaining bipartisan support, the supporters of the bill could then move on, invoke cloture, cut off debate by a simple majority vote. The minority would have had it say, boom, and then we can move on." And they can have accepted improvements.

Have the two conservative Democrats who`ve been standing in the way of changing the filibuster signed on to anything that looks like either of those two options?

SCHUMER: We are having active discussions with them, several a day. I just spoke to Senator Manchin three or four hours ago.

And even over the holiday break, the New Year`s and Christmas break, we have been talking constantly, not just me, but just about every one of the 48 Democratic senators who supports not only the proposal, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis, restore the Voting Rights Act, but changing the rules.

There are a variety of different rules changes, some of which you have mentioned, some of which you haven`t, which we`re exploring with them, which we`re pushing with them.

And whichever one works to get us to have voting rights kept to undo the pernicious activities of the Republican legislatures, we will accept. And we`re having constant discussions.

REID: Well...

SCHUMER: And we have said to them, you -- both Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, say they believe in voting rights. Good. That`s great. And they are sponsors of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Act.

But just to believe in it, and not change the rules -- and we`re making it clear to them, Joy, that even a paragon who believed in the Senate rules, Robert C. Byrd, changed the rules nine times. And he said -- and I think I have his quote pretty accurately here -- when circumstances change, the rules have to change.

Well, let me tell you something. Circumstances have changed dramatically with Donald Trump, the big lie, the violence of January 6, and all the efforts to take away voting rights.

And just one more point. The link between January 6 and what`s happening across the country in Republican legislatures is crystal clear. And we are going to be talking about that link all week.

REID: Well, and I totally agree with that.

But I just need to press you again. The second option, this Blattner option, would not require you to make any change to the filibuster at all. You could put the Freedom to Vote Act, the John Lewis Act, on the floor and essentially make Manchin and Sinema on the floor decide whether they`re going to side with voting rights, whether they`re telling the truth about supporting it, or whether they`re going to side with the Republicans.

SCHUMER: Yes, but you would need...


REID: Will you -- are you willing to perhaps these bills on the floor, using that Blattner model, put -- make...

SCHUMER: The Blattner model, I believe...

REID: Let everyone get their amendments in, et cetera, and make Manchin and Sinema decide?


SCHUMER: Yes, the Blattner model is a talking filibuster, where the other side would have to talk.

And once they stopped talking, you would not need 60 votes. That`s the rules of the Senate, because cloture wouldn`t be there.

The only problem with it is...

REID: Could you put the bills on the floor with that?


SCHUMER: ... we have got so many fanatics -- the bills will be on the floor. Of course, the bills will be on the floor. But then you need a rules change if you`re going to do something.

And one of the rules changes would be that you can`t just -- right now, you can create a filibuster by just sitting in your office and calling up. We`d have to say you would have to be on the floor and talk about it. That`s called a talking filibuster.


And it`s one of the things we`re considering. I don`t want to get into the specific details of which ones. We`re pushing anything that will get us the John Lewis Act and the Freedom to Vote Act passed and signed into law.

There`s different roads to roam here.

REID: Very quickly, before I let you go...

SCHUMER: And there`s not one that`s better than the other, if they work, if they actually allow us to get those bills to become law.

REID: Very quickly, one last person, and this was somebody who you knew well, a friend of yours, the great Harry Reid, who I know will lie in state very soon in the Capitol...


REID: ... my non-related namesake.

He said on this show the following. He said: "The country is better off having a real democracy, not a fake democracy. Sixty percent is not a democracy." He said very clearly, again, later on in the year: "Get rid of the filibuster. It`s nothing. As Barack Obama said at John Lewis` funeral, it`s part of the leftovers from the days of slave owners. You have got to get rid of it. It`s very bad."

Can you tell us any evidence that you -- that Manchin or Sinema has given publicly or to you that they care more about voting rights and the democracy continuing than about the filibuster? Because I haven`t seen any evidence that they actually have more support for voting rights...

SCHUMER: What I can tell you this, Joy.

REID: ... and democracy than they do for the filibuster.

SCHUMER: Yes, what I can tell you this is, they have made even public statements that -- particularly Manchin -- that we -- he wants to get voting rights done and wants to figure out a way to do it.

REID: But what -- but why should we believe that? Why should we believe that?

SCHUMER: Now, let me just -- let me -- let me just finish.

REID: They haven`t taken any action.

SCHUMER: Let me -- well, we have got to keep pressing them and pressing them and pressing them until they do. There is too much at risk here.

If, obviously, they were saying yes to us, we wouldn`t have to worry about this. But we do have to worry. And we have to keep pushing.

But when senators go to them and say, I will lose my election unless we do something about voting rights, when senators come to them and say, we will not have a democracy anymore, not just for two years, but for 10 years, and constant senators of all different stripes, including some of our most moderate senators -- we have a group of three senators who`s constantly talking to them, Joe -- Angus King, Jon Tester, and the senator from Virginia as well, saying to them, we didn`t -- we were not for changing the rules, but we have changed our mind. Too much is at stake.

And it`s a constant, constant discussion. And we`re going to keep going until we -- until we succeed. I can`t tell you that they publicly said anything. You know they haven`t. I know they haven`t.

But there`s lots of things we`re pushing hard on. I don`t want to be -- I don`t want to be Pollyannish here. This is an uphill fight. But it`s too important to give up on.

REID: Right.

SCHUMER: Too important to give up on.

REID: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, thank you very much. Really appreciate you being here. Thank you for your time.

I wish we had more time.

SCHUMER: Thank you, Joy.

REID: Thank you.

SCHUMER: And as soon as we hear something -- something publicly, I will be the -- you will hear from me.

REID: All right, that sounds like a plan.

Thank you very much, sir. Really appreciate you.

SCHUMER: Thank you. Bye-bye.

REID: Thank you.

SCHUMER: Bye-bye.

REID: All right, thank you very much.

All right, don`t go anywhere, everyone. Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is up next, and it is a doozy. You don`t want to miss it.



REID: We now bring you the saga of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose state is exploding with COVID.

Now, you would think this would be a code red situation for the governor. Instead, DeSantis rung in the new year championing his free state of Florida mantra, a mantra that has enabled one of the most permissive atmospheres in the country for business and individuals with few restrictions.

He even refused to say whether or not he received the booster shot when asked by a buddy at FOX News.


MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS: Have you gotten the booster?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): So, I have done whatever I did, the normal shot. And that, at the end of the day, is people`s individual decisions about what they want to do.


REID: DeSantis saw an opportunity and snatched it, knowing some businesses didn`t like those pesky lockdowns, and that nothing, not even a life- threatening airborne virus, would keep spring breakers from partying like it`s 2019.

It`s a broad approach to herd immunity, which opened the door to a treatment-over-prevention approach that plays well, but that plays with people`s lives. He boosts monoclonal antibodies, a treatment one of his top donors just happens to have invested millions of dollars in, which also happens to be ineffective against Omicron.

But freedom, right, down to the freedom for 62,000 Floridians to die of COVID-19. But this saga doesn`t end there, because, in December, as Florida shattered COVID records, its leader, DeSantis, well, vanished, poof, nowhere to be found, not even on FOX News, not even in Cancun.

Speculations tore through Twitter by folks that may or may not have included me. But I can assure you DeSantis, wherever he was, was thinking a lot about important election -- an important election coming up in 2024, so that he could make America Florida.

That`s because the Grim Reaper of Florida chooses political ambition over leadership during a crisis. This is who he is.

And, tonight, he`s our "Absolute Worst."

And when we come back, the return of Ron Death-Santis, including an absurd statement from his surgeon general.

Stay with us.




GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I think that, particularly given the clinical profile so far of Omicron, there`s not justifiable to let fear overwhelm. You can`t let any type of hysteria undercut the normal functioning of society.


REID: Those are the comforting words of the Florida governor who, until New Year`s Eve, had been missing from public view since December 17, with the exception of a December 19 FOX News interview, while Florida was facing its biggest surge in COVID cases yet, with average daily infections exploding by more than 2000 percent since December 6, bringing with it an astronomical increase in demand for testing.

Responding to his absence today, DeSantis made a snide remark about President Biden spending some time recently at the beach in Delaware, and his press secretary noted that December 30 and 31 were holidays for state employees, and that DeSantis would be spending time with his wife, who was fighting breast cancer.

Now, I commend the governor for that. Breast cancer is a true evil menace. I lost my own mother to it. And I pray for the Florida first lady`s speedy recovery.

But no one on this team has yet answered why the governor was invisible to the public for two full weeks in December before that, when COVID was spiking in Florida and mayors were pleading for help. Instead of addressing any of those questions, he and his immunocompromised wife rang in the new year at a packed Christian concert in Miami, touting the state`s alleged freedom.

Joining me now is Daniel Uhlfelder, Florida-based attorney and chairman of the Remove Ron PAC, and Dr. Bernard Ashby, a Miami vascular cardiologist and Florida state lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care.

Thank you both for being here.

And, Dr. Ashby, I texted you this question earlier, because, when I saw the press conference by the governor, the specific comments that he made about his wife being with him two days after apparently she had had chemotherapy, which he talks about her having chemotherapy, and then states that he had - - that she had had chemotherapy on the 29th, and then, two days later, she was at this big event.

I don`t know if we have V.O. of it, but it`s in Miami. It`s lots and lots and lots of people unmasked all near her. And he had also gone to another public event in Miami in Kendall before that.


Is that wise?


And, of course, it`s not a good idea. I mean, I`m sure her oncologists were petrified when they seen her at an outdoor event or an event with multiple people right after chemotherapy. So that is exactly what you don`t want to do.

And so I know we`re going to get into it, but I have always said from day one that DeSantis, AKA, Jim Henson, and that Ladapo, AKA, the Muppet Baby, are incredibly irresponsible and reckless.

And what`s happening right now, during the unprecedented surge that we`re seeing, is that both of them are derelict from duty, and they are completely crickets when it comes to anything related to mitigating this pandemic, particularly when it comes to testing.

And so I don`t know if you know this, but, back in May, they shut down all the state-run testing sites, and now Floridians are having to wait hours just to get a test result -- or get a test done, and then wait days to get the result after that, which, again, is a fundamental -- fundamental dereliction of duty.

And rather than address that issue, they`re saying that testing is unnecessary now, which couldn`t be further from the truth.

REID: Yes, let me very quickly play Dr. Ladapo, who is the surgeon general, Joseph Ladapo, saying that and actually making it sound like testing is just some sort of psychological tick. Here it is.


DR. JOSEPH LADAPO, FLORIDA SURGEON GENERAL: We`re going to be working to unwind the sort of testing psychology that our federal leadership has managed to, unfortunately, get much -- most of the country in over the last two years.

We need to unwind this testing sort of -- sort of planning and living one`s life around testing. Without it, we`re going to be sort of stuck in the same cycle.


REID: And, Dr. Ashby, he`s sort of reflecting Marco Rubio, who tweeted: "Record numbers testing positive for a sore throat isn`t a crisis," sort of minimizing COVID, "and people in the hospital for car accidents testing positive isn`t a surge. The real crisis is irrational hysteria that has people waiting hours for tests," et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, "or missing work for 10 days."

That -- it seems to me that, based on what you have seen, this governor genuinely believes in sort of survival of the fitness -- fittest herd immunity, right? Let everybody get COVID, the strong will survive, and we will vaccinate the elderly and the rich.

ASHBY: I mean, clearly.

I mean, from day one, when they were listening to folks by the likes of Scott Atlas, it`s clear that they`re pursuing a herd immunity strategy. And Rubio, frankly, needs to shut his mouth, because he has no business talking about public health. And this is something that is a life and death for particularly immunocompromised and vulnerable patients.

REID: Yes.

ASHBY: And he is not helpful whatsoever.

REID: Let me go to you, Daniel. Thank you for being here. And welcome to the show.

Have you been able to determine -- because I know you have been tweeting about this and following it. Have you been able to determine what happened to Ron DeSantis for those two weeks, when mayors were saying, where is Ron DeSantis? We need testing. We need help.

DANIEL UHLFELDER, CHAIRMAN, REMOVE RON PAC: Well, the thing about Ron DeSantis is that he wakes up in the morning with makeup, because he`s always ready to be on TV or a press conference.

So it was highly unusual for him to go 17 days without a press conference. And so what we believe is that he takes these victory laps all the time. And he has put himself in a box. And he couldn`t deal with it, because there was no explanation, and the cases were exploding, and he decided to just sit back and do nothing.

And Florida is -- has a horrific experience with COVID. We have had, in terms of -- in 2021, Florida has had over 40,000 reported deaths. We are fourth in the country in death rates since the vaccines have been made available to all adults.

We have -- the cases are skyrocketing. And the governor went MIA. I mean, he -- we looked. From November, early November, until December 17, when he did not appear, he had about 17 press conferences. Some of them were twice a day. And he was on FOX News. And then he went MIA.

And we believe that he has a repeated -- does this repeatedly. When things are going well, he`s out there, yo, when things are going well, all these fake victory laps.

But we at Remove Ron have been following him and trying to show what is -- really is going on. And he just was absent. And that was just in the case - - today, he appeared with the surgeon general with excuses, really blaming the president...

REID: Yes.

UHLFELDER: ... with this theory of, let`s unwind testing.

REID: Yes.

UHLFELDER: It is Orwellian to suggest that we`re going to deal with these huge lines of tests.

REID: Right.

UHLFELDER: We have got people waiting hours all over the state, and we`re going to just unwind it.

UHLFELDER: We don`t need to unwind testing.

REID: Yes.

UHLFELDER: We need to remove Ron DeSantis.

REID: It seems that his opponents have a pretty strong case for that.

Daniel Uhlfelder, Bernard, Dr. Bernard Ashby, wish we had more time. Thank you both very much.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.