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Transcript: The ReidOut, 1/5/22

Guests: Matthew Dowd, Jazmin Cerda, Elie Mystal, Al Franken, Stacy Davis Gates, Ben Frazier


One year ago, the eve of insurrection. Former President Carter says we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy. At least four memos circulated by Trump`s inner circle laid out blueprint for overturning elections. One year ago, Trump loyalists set up war room to direct attempts to overturn election.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight on the eve of the Capitol insurrection anniversary. One year ago tonight, all the pieces were in place for Donald Trump to attempt something that has never been done in this country.

For weeks, after 81 million Americans declined to reelect him, Trump had been calling on his supporters to descend on Washington promising it will be wild. And on January 5th, he praised the thousands pouring into D.C. and clogging up the hotels and Airbnb saying, Washington is being inundated with people who don`t want to see an election victory stolen. Our country has had enough. They won`t take it anymore. We hear you and love you, from the Oval Office.

Trump also put a target squarely on Mike Pence`s back falsely claiming that his vice president had the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors. And we now know where he was getting the wild idea. As we`ve learned over the past several months, there were at least four memos circulating among Trump`s inner circle and all of them proposed a version of the same unprecedented scheme to pressure Pence and get enough Republican House and Senate members to reject democratic votes all January 6th, certification day, that the election would have to be decided by Congress, where Republicans held the upper hand instead of by the Electoral College.

These plots may have been dressed up in legalese and sports metaphors but they represented nothing less than a coup and they were based on the same false claims that Trump`s Department of Justice headed by a literal Trump henchman, William Barr, had already rejected.

Mike Pence felt so much pressure to go along. He even consulted George H.W. Bush`s former Vice President Dan Quayle who rightfully confirmed that Pence had zero power to overturn the election.

And yet, Trump and his allies used those dubious memos to recruit Republican lawmakers to join in their scheme. By the eve of the insurrection, his top goons, including Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon, had assembled a war room at D.C.`s Willard Hotel, a so-called command center with a single mission of overturning the election. It was on that same day that Bannon dropped this ominous warning.


STEVE BANNON, FOMER TRUMP ADVISER (voice over): All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this. All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It`s going to be moving. It`s going to be quick.

I`ll tell you this, it`s not going to happen like you think it going to happen, okay? It`s going to be quite extraordinarily different. And all I can say is strap in.


REID: By the evening of January 5th, with Trump supports already in D.C. attending what could only be described as a warm-up rally for the events the following day, we now know many of the coup organizers were in touch with the White House directly.

Meanwhile, the FBI knew this nation`s Capitol was sitting on a powder keg, warning that extremists were traveling to Washington to commit violence and a war. And the White House apparently knew something was about to jump off as well as we`ve learned Chief of Staff Mark Meadows sent an email on January 5th indicating that the National Guard would be on standby, not to keep the peace but to, quote, protect pro-Trump people.

And one more thing happened on January 5th that would light yet another fuse on the neutron bomb that would go off in the Capitol on January 6th. Despite Trump having tweeted literally all day long for his people to get out and vote in Georgia, this black man and this Jewish man, Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, won their runoff elections and would flip the Senate from red to blue.

All of this set the stage for the events of January 6th. But as we know now, the insurrection was more than just a failed coup, the big lie continues to threaten the very foundation of our democracy, and that means that it`s more important than ever to hold the perpetrators accountable.

Tomorrow, when President Biden addresses the nation, he will reportedly make that case. He`s expected to call out Trump`s singular responsibility for the attack on our Capitol.

And joining me now is former Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Matthew Dowd, Founder of Country Over Party and Author of Revelations On The River, Healing A Nation, Healing Ourselves. Thank you both for being here.

And, you know, Claire, I`ll start with you. No less than a former president, Jimmy Carter wrote an op-ed, in which he is now joining the course of those of us like those on the panel and a lot of the people watching the show who are afraid for our democracy.


He wrote this. Our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss. Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy. Americans must set aside differences and work together before it is too late. And I`ll ask each of you, is it too late?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you`re not going to get me to say it`s too late ever for America to come through this on the other side. I am just firmly rooted in the belief that there are enough people that rejected Donald Trump. We elected a different president from a different party. And I believe there is still enough people, if you take the folks out of the Republican Party that aren`t blindly loyal to him and you put them with the rest of the country, that`s still a majority. It`s still who America is. It`s not the minority of people that are still blindly loyal to him. But, am I worried? Of course I`m worried. And am I particularly worried about respect for institutions particularly the rule of law?

I mean, think about it, Joy, a year ago right now when these guys were swirling around and planning this big to-do on the 5th with the violence on the 6th, they knew that every court in the country, even those with Trump`s judges, had rejected their premise. They knew there was no evidence. They knew that law enforcement, DOJ had rejected their premise, that there was some big fraud. So, they were willing to do this knowing that our institutions, that the rule of law had rejected them and they didn`t care. That`s the scariest part of this whole thing.

REID: You know, and what`s also scary, Matthew, is that, you know, the big lie has been so effective at changing the reality that many Republicans live in that it is very hard to find a Republican elected official who is even willing to admit that Joe Biden won the election. The Huffington Post tried. They went out and they couldn`t get Republican lawmakers to admit it.

Mike Pence, who these thugs brought a noose to hang him, is hiding information. He doesn`t want the photos released of himself having literally been threatened with death, and he was locked, sort of trapped in his basement. He was trying to restrict the photos. Even he doesn`t seem to want to see this all brought out into the open.

So, what worries me is there is an entire political party that is all working together to suppress the truth about what happened on January 6th and they`re not stopping no matter what the threat to democracy. Your thoughts?

MATTHEW DOWD, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Well, I mean, I think that you`ve touched on what I think is really one of the fundamental problems is that we have one of the main legacy parties of our country is now completely pre-occupied by an autocratic movement. That`s never exist in our country. We`ve had elements of both parties that have been out of the main stream and fringe, but we now have one political party that is fully occupied, the vast majority of Republicans don`t believe Joe Biden is the legitimate president, believe the big lie, believe all the stuff that Donald Trump -- and then you take it everything, they believe -- whether it`s they don`t believe in COVID, they believe in taking horse de-wormer, whatever else they believe because they have been propagandized to.

I go back to your original question is about is it too late. Most of the time we never know it too late until it`s too late. Most of the times in history when you ask people a point of history, I think it will be too late depending on what happens in 2022 and 2024. If the Republicans take the Congress back and the Senate in 2022 and we have a presidential election unfold, then I think we are at the point where our democracy has failed.

One of the problems that I have with what has happened over the last five years is that our democracy has gone under a stress test. And think about it like the human body. We`ve gone under a stress test. And we thought we were okay. And, you know, even though we had a lot of miles on us and a lot of years on us, we thought we were healthy, we`re put under stress test and we realized that we weren`t, that there was a disease that had taken over the body politic.

And my concern is every single solution that has been proposed so far and done so far, even though there are certain elements that have been successful, has been like giving aspirin to the body without fundamentally dealing with the real problem that exists in America today. And that`s -- and until we do that, there is going to be tumors, there is going to be all kinds of disease, I mean, there is going to be failing parts of us, all of that. Because right now we`re giving cold compresses, telling the country not to lift too much heavy weights and take your Tylenol, and that`s what it seems to be.


And until we really understand the bones and structure of our democracy are breaking, are fundamentally breaking. We have to get deeper into that to fix it.

REID: Yes. I mean, I totally agree with you.

So, tomorrow, President Biden is going to speak. And there is a question of whether or not he actually can change this, or he can alter it at all because, unbelievably, he has become, for Republicans, as much as a sort of figure of hatred, that hate object, as President Obama was, you know, the black president. Like, I mean, he was his vice president, maybe that`s part of it. I don`t know what it is. But this is like the most sort of norm core Democrat ever. He`s a moderate, sort of ordinary Democrat. There is nothing outrageous about him. But they have cast him as sort of demonic character. He`s going to speak tomorrow.

Let me just let you listen to what Jen Psaki says that he`s going to say tomorrow in his speech, because he`s going to targeting right at Donald Trump. Take a listen.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I`d also note that President Biden has been clear-eyed about the threat the former president represents to our democracy.

I would expect that President Biden will layout the significance of what happened at the Capitol and the singular responsibility President Trump has for the chaos and carnage that we saw. And he will forcibly push back on the lies spread by the former president in an attempt to mislead the American people and his own supporters, as well as distract from his role and what happened.


REID: Is there a way, Claire, in your view to even get people in this Republican cult to even listen to what he`s going to say?

MCCASKILL: It`s very hard. I mean, I`m from a state, I pretty much lived this. I lived it in `18 when I ran for reelection, I`ve lived it every day since. I just was visiting with people about a week ago. And they are convinced that Donald Trump won the election. And even though I go through it all with them, they say, well, that`s all just being made up.

He is the most dangerous leader our country has had in our lifetime, for sure, and maybe ever, because he doesn`t respect facts or truth. He doesn`t care about being aspirational or having integrity. He just cares about playing to people`s grievances.

And this is how bad guys get power and keep it. And all of these folks I`ve talked to, a lot of them feel grievance that they have worked as hard as they know how and they`re can`t afford to retire. And they`re pretty sure everybody else is getting free stuff but them. And they can`t afford to send their kids to college. They can`t afford to pay off their homes. They are frustrated and Donald Trump mainlined that grievance and he continues to this day. And until we have a leader in the Republican Party who is willing to stand up to that evil, we are going to continue to be on the brink of something very dangerous for this country.

REID: Well, speaking of Republicans, this is the top Republican in the country, Mitch McConnell, who, on January 6th, said this was outrageous. He said exactly what he ought to have said as an American. But this is what he`s saying now and literally calling out anyone who would try to link what happened on January 6th to what Republicans like him have done with that tragedy. Here is Mitch McConnell.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): No party that would trash the Senate`s legislative traditions can be trusted to seize control over election laws all across America. Nobody who is this desperate to take over our democracy on a one-party basis can be allowed to do it.

Finally, it is beyond distasteful to some of our colleagues to (INAUDIBLE) invoke the January 6th anniversary to advance these aims.


REID: Your thoughts, Matthew?

DOWD: Well, Mitch McConnell, as we`ve -- as anybody, and Claire knows probably better than anybody, is only consumed, in my view, with power, with power and any ability to get power in whatever he has to say. That`s why I think today, we`ll have the year anniversary of January 6th, I think we`re worse today than a year ago. Because what happened a year ago, there was umbrage at what happened by many Republicans about all what happened. That is gone. And now they`re actually celebrating it as it was some patriotic protest and it`s gotten worse and worse and worse and worse.

And until that we`ve held those folks accountable and not just 700 people that showed up, many of which are people that you and I and all of us meet at Starbucks or at McDonald`s or whatever, we meet that showed up and became part of a riot and protest and terrorist movement but the people that facilitated, until that happens, this is only going to get worst. Because unless they`re held accountable, they`re going to keep pushing the edge and pushing the edge and pushing the edge of this.


And I`ll say about Joe Biden. Thank God Joe Biden is President of the United States and not Donald Trump. Thank God he is. But I actually think Joe Biden has been slow to understand the threat America faces. I`m glad he`s giving a speech tomorrow. I think he`s been too slow in understanding the threat and what the Republican Party is today.

REID: Yes, I think what he doesn`t understand is that people like Mitch McConnell thought that the January 6th insurrection was a terrible thing until they figured out what they could do with it, that it was useful to them to be able to seize power permanently. And now, they`re like oh, actually, January 6th was useful for us. We`re with it.

Former Senator Claire McCaskill, Matthew Dowd, thank you both very much.

Up next on THE REIDOUT.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: -- must be held accountable. And there is no higher priority for us at the Department of Justice.


REID: Yes, Merrick the Mild, as Merrick Garland doing enough to bring the coup plotters, not just the insurrection mob to justice?

Plus, the fight over how to send students back to school safety boils over in Chicago, but it`s not just Chicago. Parents and teachers need answers now.

Also demanding answer, Ben Frasier, the Jacksonville Activist who was put in handcuffs for the heinous crime of trying to listen to a Ron DeSantis news conference. Frasier joins me live.

And while DeSantis could be the absolute worst, pretty much any night, we have found a group of people who deserve it more on the eve of January 6th.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: So, if you didn`t know that there was an insurrection in America just one year ago tomorrow, you could have turned on your TV today to watch the U.S. attorney general and thought, oh, look at that nice, responsible public servant talking about the importance of prosecuting the bad guys. Isn`t it great to have a non-ogreish A.G., unlike the previous four years?

But the thing is, Merrick Garland`s speech today was about the one-year anniversary of a literal and unprecedented attack on American democracy and an ongoing domestic terrorism threat that is still putting Americans and democracy at risk as of today.

So, we no longer live in a world where we can calmly talk about the wholesome job of the DOJ or about the stability of American democracy. Maybe we never did. Garland clearly felt the need to speak out on the anniversary of the one-year mark from January 6, after getting criticized for the DOJ not doing enough to hold the insurrectionists accountable.

And he threw those critics a tiny little bone, saying the department would go after perpetrators on all levels.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The actions we have taken thus far will not be our last. The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators at any level accountable under law, whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.

We will follow the facts wherever they lead.


REID: Garland also describes some of the grisly threats lawmakers both parties have received, but then he used those specific examples to literally both-sides the problem of political violence.


GARLAND: A member of Congress was threatened in a gruesome voice-mail that asked if she had ever seen what a .50-caliber shell does to a human head.

Another member of Congress, an Iraq War veteran and Purple Heart recipient, received threats that left her terrified for her family.

These acts and threats of violence are not associated with any one set of partisan or ideological views.


REID: I mean, oh, there`s nothing partisan and ideological about the threats that this democracy faces today? Really? Really, Merrick?

After a literal MAGA crowd tried to stage a coup and threaten to hang Mike Pence and brought a noose to do it? Really? Really?

I`m joined now by Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for "The Nation," and Al Franken, former Democratic senator from Minnesota and the host of "The Al Franken Podcast."

And I`m sorry, Elie, I was on Twitter reading what you were tweeting, because I`m like, let me follow Elie and see what he`s saying. And you posted one thing, saying, oh, he threw a bone at least to say he`s going to investigate. I`m like, OK, maybe I should be hopeful.

And then he said that line, that line where he said, oh, there`s nothing ideological or partisan about it.

The speech was literally about one partisan side and people who support one party literally having an insurrection in the Capitol. That was the point to speak to.

Your thoughts on the both-sides-ism?

ELIE MYSTAL, "THE NATION": Yes, look, if Merrick Garland is a dedicated public servant -- if we needed a mall cop to stop the kids from stealing constitutional democracy out of the Hot Topic, he`d be doing great.

But we need something a little bit more than that. And that`s where I have some issues with his prosecution.

Look, there is nuance here. If Merrick Garland -- and it`s amazing to me to think that Merrick Garland defenders are going to think this is a compliment, but if Merrick Garland has a secret plan to one day hold the terrorists accountable for attacking the Capitol, then this is exactly what his investigation would look like.

These defenders have a point. There is -- he needs more time. He is -- he could be building a case.

The problem is that, if Merrick Garland was just going to let -- just going to fire at the low-hanging fruit and get a couple of QAnon Shamans, and not actually go after the people who aided and abetted this insurrection, the powerful, politically connected people in Congress who helped these people, this is also exactly what his investigation would look like.

So it really comes down to whether or not you trust Merrick Garland. And I don`t know about you, Joy, but I remember -- I have got too many scars from other great white hopes. I remember when Robert Mueller was going to come and save -- put everything right, right?


So I don`t have a whole lot -- I don`t have a whole lot left to trust.

REID: Let me play another piece. Let me play another one, Senator Franken.

This is another one, where we hired that guy. We`re paying him. Our tax dollars are paying Merrick Garland to deal with these threats to our democracy. But here`s who he said is responsible for fixing all this. Here`s Merrick Garland again.


GARLAND: The Justice Department cannot do it alone. The responsibility to bring an end to violence and threats of violence against those who serve the public is one that all Americans share.

We are all Americans. We must protect each other. The responsibility to preserve democracy and to maintain faith in the legitimacy of its essential processes lies with every elected official and with every American.


REID: OK, yes, everybody should be nice to each other.

Al Franken, this would be like if I -- if there was a fire and you called 911, and the fire department said, all of your neighbors, every neighbor is responsible together.

No, no, we -- you are who has been hired to fight fires. You fight the fire.

It doesn`t sound like he`s taking a whole lot responsibility for doing anything about all this mess. Your thoughts?

FMR. SEN. AL FRANKEN (D-MN): I kind of disagree with you on this.

I was heartened by what he was talking about. He was basically saying -- when we said anybody at any level, I mean, right now, I`m -- I have been hearing the evidence, and the most guilty person that I can see right now is Donald Trump.

And I actually -- everything we have been hearing, all the evidence we have been hearing points that way. And, basically, what -- I think what he was saying is, there`s a process to do this, and if you don`t follow it -- and I don`t think -- I`m sure, he`s saying, look, we`re doing this. We just don`t talk about it.

And if you don`t follow the right process, it can be overturned. So, he`s going to make sure this sticks. I was hard heartened. Neal Katyal was heartened by the speech as well.

And this was a serious speech. And, yes, he was talking an aspirational thing for the American people, such as, we all have to try to, as a society, disparage people who are being violent and get a handle on that.

But it didn`t contradict, to me, what I heard.

REID: Well, here`s my challenge, though. And I will ask you, and I will ask both of you.

But it reminds -- listen, this is not consistently the case, though. I still am old enough to remember that James Comey did talk about it. Literally 11 days before an election, he decided to talk about what they were doing vis-a-vis Hillary Clinton and some e-mails and such.

FRANKEN: Well, that was wrong.

REID: And he thought that was appropriate, and then, three days before the election, did it again.

The thing is, this is asymmetric warfare, where you have...

FRANKEN: I yelled at him. I yelled at him.

REID: Right. But when you have...

FRANKEN: I yelled at him in the SCIF.


REID: Yes, go ahead. No, go ahead.

FRANKEN: He came to talk to our caucus about some FBI stuff in the SCIF, the secure room.

REID: Yes.

FRANKEN: And I yelled at him, because what he did was kind of vanity -- moral vanity, I thought.

He broke the department policies by raising something while it was -- that was a disgrace. And it also cost Hillary the election, along with other stuff as well. But, no, that was awful.

This is very, very, very different.

REID: But it is. It is obviously very different.

But let me just play one more piece of sound. This is Ruben Gallego making some comments about what he thinks of Merrick Garland and the way he`s conducted things so far. Here`s Ruben Gallego.


REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D-AZ): I think Merrick Garland has been extremely weak. And I think there should be a lot more of the organizers of January 6 that should be arrested by now.

The problem that we have right now is that we have a very obstructionist Republican Party that should be part of helping us decide how to save democracy, instead of trying to cover up for their crimes. And you have, again, an attorney general who is feckless and has not been helpful in terms of preserving our democracy.


REID: My problem with -- and I think, in theory, what Al Franken said is true.

But the problem is, is that it is asymmetric, Elie. If Donald`s last name was Clinton, and he was a Democrat, I have no doubt whatsoever that he would already have been prosecuted, there would already be so much legal action being thrown at him.

I think that he`s sort of in this bubble of -- I don`t know. You -- I`m going to let you talk. Go ahead.


MYSTAL: Look, I will put it this way.

This doesn`t happen if the perpetrators are black. And I think we all kind of know that, right, because we don`t have to just go on our feelings about Merrick Garland. We have actual numbers, right? We have stats; 71 people so far have been sentenced behind January 6. And what we see is, the vast majority of them have gotten very light sentences, no jail time at all for the most of them; 56 people have been convicted for picketing, parading inside a Capitol Building, 56 people.

Is it too much to ask that those 56 people get at least what a person in Northeast D.C. would get for having an ounce of crack cocaine? Is that literally too much to ask? Because it seems like it shouldn`t be. It seems like, if you go into the Capitol with the intent to go search for Mike Pence and other members of Congress to yell and intimidate them into stealing an election, you should at least get as much as the crackhead.

And that`s what I think...


MYSTAL: ... saying.

FRANKEN: He spoke to that. He spoke to that.

REID: There have been more consequences for Black Lives Matter voters than there -- much more consequences.

It is unbelievable that they`re -- that this is...


REID: It appears that they`re going to get away with it.

I`m sorry. Go ahead.

FRANKEN: No, no, no, no.

He spoke to that. He said that he`s getting those people to cooperate. And what he wants to do is get the organizers. And the way you do that -- this is how you do prosecutions. And that`s no mystery.

And so that`s -- that was the beginning of his speech, which is, he talked about that exactly.

REID: We shall see.

MYSTAL: I heard that, but I`m also saying that there`s no -- we haven`t seen any of this come to pass.

REID: I agree.

MYSTAL: And so if you want to think -- if you want to say...

FRANKEN: Well...

MYSTAL: ... like with Mueller, that we should just trust the process, like, OK, but we have been down this road.

REID: Yes.

And it`s urgent. It`s urgent. Our democracy is under tremendous stress now, not a year from now.

FRANKEN: I agree.

REID: Elie Mystal, Al Franken, I`m sorry. We`re out of time. I appreciate you both.

Thank you both very much. Happy new year.

Still ahead: Chicago public schools are now the latest battleground in the fight against and about COVID, as teachers vote to return to remote learning, calling classroom conditions unsafe and squaring off with Chicago`s mayor.

More next. Stay with us.



REID: It`s the question that has plagued administrations and school boards, unions, educators and parents for two whole years: How do we keep kids and teachers and workers safe in a pandemic?

It`s a question that has intensified in the face of Omicron, as schools nationwide face shortages in COVID tests and staff, as teachers continue to call in sick. And it`s reached a boiling point in Chicago, where the teachers union voted to temporarily transition to remote learning, a move that prompted public schools officials to cancel classes for today, insisting students need to return to classrooms.

This is what parents and teachers have to say about the deadlock.


SHAWN OLIVER, PARENT: When you have engaged parents, the distance learning, it`s not that bad. But we don`t want it forever, by any means. but I also don`t want my kid`s teacher to die.

BRIANA HAMBRIGHT-HALL, CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATOR AND TEACHERS UNION DELEGATE: All we`re asking is that we work in safe and fair conditions.

How dare you put on the airwaves and in the news media that we`re trying to cancel schools before a vote was even taken? That`s a slap in the face.

SHANESHIA BAILEY, TEACHER: We don`t feel safe. We don`t feel that the students aren`t safe. I myself have several underlying conditions.


REID: Joining me now is Jazmin Cerda, parent, mentor and organizer for the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, and Stacy Davis Gates, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union and the executive vice president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

Thank you both for being here.

Let me start with you, Ms. Davis Gates.

Let me play for you very quickly what the mayor had to say on Tuesday about schools needing to be open. Here`s what she said.


LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), MAYOR OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: We can`t forget about how disruptive that remote process is to individual parents, who have to work, who can`t afford to -- the luxury of staying home and being with their kids, not because they don`t love their kids, not because they don`t want the best for their kids.

But they need to provide a living for their families. And that means going to work.


REID: Ms. Davis Gates, what is your response to that?

STACY DAVIS GATES, VICE PRESIDENT, CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION: Well, as a mother of three Chicago public school students, I understand what this has felt like at a very personal level.

And I would say that President Biden sent $2 billion here to Chicago to mitigate the harm of COVID-19. We have not seen those mitigations in our school communities. In fact, testing has been a debacle. Vaccination efforts have failed on behalf of the mayor.

And what we need is safety; 25,000, more than 25,000 of our members have said very clearly that they do not see safety in their school communities. In fact, on Monday and Tuesday, many of our children were warehoused in auditoriums, cafeterias, gymnasiums, because staff wasn`t in place. We have a substitute shortage.

And so we need to see the mitigations in place. We need to see staffing in place. But, by and large, we need to see the federal funds allocated in a way that makes us safe and keeps our school communities open.

REID: And, Ms. Cerda, I want to go to you because the thing is, for a parent, it`s difficult, right?

I mean, if you`re a parent that is able to homeschool and you`re able to work from home and you have that leisure, that`s one thing. But if you can`t, you have to go to work, it`s a whole other thing, and whether or not you have access.

Parents are all at different levels of access, even to be able to teach from home. What do you think of what`s happening now? And where do you fall on the idea of whether or not kids should be back in school?


Well, I represent my community, my black and brown community, and my -- and I`m a parent myself, so I do believe that it could be drastic. It could be a drastic change for those that we are in person and then now we need remote learning and a remote learning option.


However, the -- it`s possible. We have 2.4 billions of dollars in our hands in Lori -- in our Mayor Lightfoot`s hands, and that can be implemented for programs like resources like day care for those families who can not take a day off for their children.

There`s plenty of demands that have been laid out. We have come together with different community, partner organizations. We have worked with students, with parents to plan now a platform of demands of plans like the one I`m talking about, so, in cases like this, we have a plan B, and we`re not just wondering, what`s next, what`s next?

Like, the solutions can be taken. And they should, because that money was given to the people and for the people. And it should be used for that matter, and nothing else.

REID: And both of you have mentioned the mayor.

There was a Chicago Teachers Union tweet today that says that they are "being inundated with calls and e-mails this morning from educators who attempted to log into their platforms to connect with their students and teach remotely and safely, but are being locked out by Mayor Lightfoot."

Lori Lockout was trending earlier today.

Ms. Davis Gates, do you blame the mayor for this standoff? And what is going to happen next? What happens tomorrow?

DAVIS GATES: So, the mayor has failed to implement and administrate $2 billion worth of federal funds appropriately, especially in our communities of color, where COVID has ravaged, where it has orphaned our children, where the trauma has been most profound.

She has used their -- the impact of their trauma as a shield to push against what we`re asking for, instead of using the money to make sure that we have social workers and counselors and other socioemotional supports in our school system.

We don`t have those there. Beyond that, our mayor has got to figure out how to become a collaborative leader in Chicago. The fights with the governor, city council members, Senate presidents, all of those people, do not help us in this moment. We need leadership.

REID: Well, I thank both of you for taking the time out to be here tonight. It`s a complicated issue and complex and very, very important.

Jazmin Cerda, Stacy Davis Gates, thank you both very much. Wishing you both the very, very best for yourselves and your children.

Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is still ahead.

But, first, Florida community activist Ben Frazier was denied his right to peaceably assemble, arrested ahead of a press conference by Trump wannabe Ron DeSantis. Mr. Frazier joins us next.

We will be right back.



REID: It is quite the study in contrasts.

Over in Europe, French President Emmanuel Macron is taking an aggressive stance against the unvaccinated, saying he wants to piss them off and make life difficult.

Meanwhile, over here, we have a governor doing quite the opposite, as Ron DeSantis touts the supposed free state of Florida, the freest in the country. He again reiterated his less testing mantra today.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you`re somebody who is a very low risk, no health problems, no symptoms, just testing over and over again is not really clinically proven to be very much of a value.

Again, you`re free to do it.


REID: Ah, yes, freedom.

In fact, it would seem that DeSantis wants to make the state free for COVID to thrive and make life as easy as possible for the unvaccinated. He`s gone to war with the cruise industry and the Biden administration over vaccine requirements and has tried to lure unvaxxed first responders with cash.

But, weirdly enough, all that freedom comes with less freedom, like barring schools from teaching lessons on race that right-wingers have mislabeled Critical Race Theory, and requiring colleges to monitor the viewpoints of their professors, and also blocking private employers in schools from mandating vaccines or masks.

And, as you might recall, DeSantis signed an anti-riot law to crack down on police brutality protests and protect drivers who hit protesters with their cars. A federal judge blocked enforcement of that law.

But if there`s one thing you are really not free to do in Ron DeSantis` free state of Florida, it`s criticize the governor.

Community activist Ben Frazier was handcuffed on Tuesday as he tried to attend the governor`s press conference.


BEN FRAZIER, FOUNDER, NORTHSIDE COALITION OF JACKSONVILLE: The governor is afraid to meet with the people, because he is the enemy of the people. He is the enemy of the people. He is the enemy of the people.

When it comes to public welfare, this governor does not care.


REID: Ben Frazier, former journalist and founder of Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, joins me now.

Mr. Frazier, thanks for being here.

Tell us what happened as you came into that space to try to attend the press conference. Then you were hauled off in handcuffs. And then what happened? Give us the story of what occurred.

FRAZIER: Well, the bottom line here is that this governor does what he does best.

He shuts down anybody who`s against them, speaking to him from a different school of thought. He tries to shut people down. He`s done the same thing with that H.B.1 law that you just mentioned. We are suing the governor, because we recognize that the right to peacefully protest, Joy, is part of who we are as a nation.

Protests are an indispensable part of the democracy. Public expression, in fact, is critical to a functioning democracy. So, we went into that meeting with the thought that we would confront the governor, talk to him about issues that he`s been avoiding, issues just like racial disparities in economics, in housing, in business.


We wanted to confront him because he never talks about these issues. And, as you know, he`s been running and hiding for the past 17 days, using his immune-compromised wife as an excuse not to show up and talk about the people.

But I`m telling you right now that we`re up 2000 percent in terms of the people with this disease in the state of Florida. He is an example of poor leadership. This governor has been playing loose and easy, going through, saying things that are against the controls of the citizens -- that the citizens of the CDC, I should say, as well as the World Health Organization.

He is acting like he`s a doctor. And he`s not. He`s making poor decisions. He`s playing politics with the pandemic, and doing a damn poor job of it.

REID: Let me let you listen to the surgeon general Florida, Joseph Ladapo, because he was on FOX News last night reiterating that he really doesn`t seem to believe in getting people vaccinated or doing much testing. Here he is.


DR. JOSEPH LADAPO, FLORIDA SURGEON GENERAL: The vaccine passports, this requirement to get tested to go to school or to get on a plane, I mean, it`s just ridiculous.

This idea that you could stop this with vaccines was unrealistic.


REID: Where you live, in Duval County, there`s been a 365 percent increase in new COVID cases in the last seven days, a 360 percent increase in new hospitalizations.

What do you make of this surgeon general and the governor that he serves?

FRAZIER: Well, the surgeon general is obviously the governor`s yes-man.

We want to be perfectly clear, however, Joy, that this goes beyond partisan politics, goes beyond race. What this talks about is jeopardizing people`s lives, moms and fathers and cousins and aunts and uncles. And this governor is playing with their lives.

We say he`s an enemy of the people. He needs to consider stepping down.

REID: And I`m going to put up this tweet that you did yesterday.

You said: "The fight for civil rights continues in Jacksonville, Florida. It`s not just a moment. It`s a movement."

And you talked about all the support that you have gotten.

And the last question I will ask you. Were actually charged with a crime for having been at this public press conference?

FRAZIER: Yes, I was, in fact, charged with trespass after warning.

REID: Wow.

FRAZIER: We`re calling on everyone, other grassroots organizations and leaders, to join us in Jacksonville...

REID: Yes.

FRAZIER: ... to continue the fight for civil rights.

We need your help down here in Jacksonville, Florida. Contact us at

All right, Ben Frazier, thank you very much for being with me. Really appreciate it. And best of luck in all that you`re doing.

Stick around, everyone else, for tonight`s supersized "Absolute Worst," because why limit yourself to just one worst, when there are just so many deserving candidates?

That`s next.



REID: For most Americans, January 6 is a solemn day, except, of course, for the guy who helped make that day a reality, the former president.

And up until yesterday, he was planning to celebrate his seditious anniversary with a big old press event, that is, until Trumpolini`s advisers told him it might not be a good idea. I guess the guy who called himself a genius needed a note from the land of the obvious.

On to plan B. Instead of holding is a rah-rah riot event, he is running to Arizona on Martin Luther King Jr.`s actual birthday, no less, to hold one of his right-wing MAGA tent revivals. I guess Arizona has become the front- line for 2020 denialism.

At this point, it`s pretty clear to everyone that Republicans are unwilling to ever accept defeat in an election. But don`t tell that to the one Republican who`s unwilling to acknowledge that reality, namely, one Addison Mitchell McConnell III.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Why would any legislator, any legislature in America want to overturn the counting of votes?

The notion that some state legislature would be crazy enough to say to their own voters, we`re not going to honor the results of the outcome -- of the election is ridiculous on its face.


REID: Mitch, please. Denial ain`t just a river in Egypt.

And if he would poke his head out of his shell for longer than 30 seconds, he`d see the Republicans are already trying to do just that. In Michigan, they are replacing local election board members with people who want to block the approval of elections. In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Republicans want to hold open-ended reviews of the 2020 election.

Far more disturbing, NPR found that this year`s secretary of state races across the country, at least 15 Republican candidates questioned whether President Joe Biden is even the legitimate president. These are the people who have the responsibility to carry out election laws -- or at least they used to.

This is what democracy experts are calling a slow-motion insurrection with a higher probability of success. You need more proof? Coup supporters are lining up to run for governor and Senate. Just look at Kari Lake in Arizona, Josh Mandel in Ohio, Eric Greitens in Missouri, and Herschel Walker in Georgia. They all support Trump`s big lie because that`s the only ticket in GOP land.

These folks would join the rest of the 147 members of the seditionist party on Capitol Hill, which includes winners like the most despised man in America, Ted Cruz, fist-pumping, receding chin activist Josh Hawley, and folks like that Margie lady who`s no longer on Twitter, and America`s creepiest congressman, Matt Gaetz.

It should come as no surprise that the majority of those cowards refuse to state for the record that President Joe Biden was duly elected. The Huffington Post tried.

And you needed yet another reminder of how spineless these politicians are, Politico is reporting that the party will just pretend like January 6 isn`t even a thing tomorrow. What insurrection?

Enter Margie Q. and Matt the creeper. Those bottom-feeders will host their own press conference tomorrow. Now, personally, I won`t be watching. I`d rather get a root canal without novocaine.

So, bravo to the sedition party, formerly known as the GOP, for showing your complete lack of courage when it comes to defending American democracy. You are the "Absolute Worst," and will remain so until you grow a spine.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.