Marking one year since the Capitol insurrection. Biden vows to defend American democracy. Lawmakers mark January 6 with moment of silence and vigil. GOP leaders condemn Trump in the immediate aftermath of January 6 insurrection.
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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I have great respect for their office, more respect than that previous holder of that office
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ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That`s the word from the speaker. Our special coverage continues now on MSNBC with THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight exactly one year after insurrectionists stormed our nation`s Capitol in an unprecedented attack on our democracy incited by the disgraced former president.
A full year later, the images aren`t any easier to watch but they`re an important reminder of how close we came to losing our democracy and how fragile that democracy remains. After their dear leader told them to head to the Capitol, a MAGA mob descended on the Hill violently clashing with police, smashing through windows. They swarmed the Capitol asking where are they counting the votes, and where are you, Nancy?
It`s a testament to the Capitol police that they didn`t reach their targets. We saw Officer Eugene Goodman heroically divert the mob. But four police officers died following the events of that day, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a moment of silence for them as part of a day of remembrance on the Hill today.
The only Republican member of the House who attended was Liz Cheney, who brought her father, the former vice president, Dick Cheney, her Republican colleague on the select committee Adam Kinzinger said that he wished he could be here, but his wife is about to have a baby.
Democrats spent the day sharing testimonials of their experiences and later holding a prayer vigil on the steps of the Capitol. House members also got together to serve food to Capitol police officers as well as to Hill staffers thanking them for their service.
This morning President Biden delivered one of the most important speeches of his presidency. He had some strong words for the former president though he never mentioned him by name.
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JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: For the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.
The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He`s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interests as more important than his country`s interests, than America`s interests, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution.
Those who stormed this Capitol and those who instigated and incited and those who called on them to do so held a dagger at the throat of America.
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REID: Biden then vowed to fight the enemies of democracy that still pose a threat to this country.
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BIDEN: I did not seek this fight brought to this Capitol one year ago today but I will not shrink from it either. I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation, not allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy.
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REID: Predictably, the former president responded with his usual desperate pleas for attention. But we`re not going to give him any air time tonight. This comes as we are still learning more about what exactly he was doing during the hours in which he refused to stop the insurrection.
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STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY AND COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR: All I know about that day is that he was in the dining room gleefully watching on his T.V., as he often did, look at all of the people fighting for me, hitting rewind, watching it again. That`s what I know.
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REID: With me now, Congressman Pete Aguilar of California, member of the select committee to investigate January 6th, Malcolm Nance, MSNBC Counterterrorism and Intelligence Analyst, and Stuart Stevens, Senior Adviser to The Lincoln Project. And thank you all for being here.
And this is a day, and I`m going to start with you, Congressman Aguilar, that is unforgettable to me because I can remember every moment of that day, really, and thinking to myself, my God, I hope that these marauding masses of MAGA supporters don`t find the black history museum and ransack it. That was the first thing that struck me as I saw them, you know, heading toward the Capitol and starting to bash their way in and thinking what other treasures could they find that belong to us as the American people and destroy. For some reason, that was the thing that stuck in my head.
I wonder if there`s something in particular that stuck with you given all of your experiences and what you saw that day.
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Yes. I think, for me, you know, honestly, Joy, I was at a disadvantage, as a lot of my colleagues were on the House floor. We didn`t have access to television. We had a lot of family members and loved ones reaching out asking us how we were doing, what was going on, especially once the speaker was pulled from the rostrum and some of the other senior members of leadership on both sides of the aisle were pulled.
But I think what sticks out for me was Jamie Raskin, who had just buried his son 24 hours before that day, was right in front of me. And Jamie and I -- I remember putting a card in his pocket, a condolence letter from my wife and I and -- but just how stoic he looked at what was happening and that he needed help when we were told to get our gas masks ready, I had to give him mine and open up his gas mask and make sure that he, you know, knew how to use it. So, those are some of the experiences and some of the things that I remember, but it was a dark day.
REID: You know, Malcolm, you and I -- we`ve known each other for quite a while, my friend. We`ve been through a lot. We were together at the very start of the Trump era, and a lot of the predictions that you made people at the time thought were outlandish and impossible. And I can recall you saying to me this is going to lead to insurrection, where he`s going with these grievances that were based in ethno nationalism and rage that had to do with the changing nature of America, this was going in a direction that had insurrection potentially at its end.
And then when it happened, you and I -- we`ve texted a lot -- it was sort of like you didn`t want to say I told you so, but this is where you saw it going for a very long time. I want to play for you -- we don`t want to give him air time. We really don`t. But I just want to play -- our wonderful producers here at THE REIDOUT put together a quick montage. This isn`t the way Trump wants to be seen today but this is the way he`s going to be seen today. Take a look.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (voice over): In many cases they`re waving the American flag, and they love our country. Some of them went in and they`re hugging and kissing the police and the guards, you know. They have great relationships. The crowd was unbelievable. And I mentioned the word love. The love -- the love in the air, I`ve never seen anything like it.
The people were very angry because it`s common sense, Jon. It`s common sense. If you know a vote is fraudulent, right, how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?
We love you. You`re very special. You see what happens, you see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel.
REID: Malcolm, my friend, in your experience and with your expertise, was this any different from any other push or attempted coup that you have, you know, observed or studied around the world?
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC COUNTERTERRORISM AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: You know, I`ve spent over three decades watching all the third world dictators, war lords, potentates carry out activities like this. This is not people power. This was an attempt to overthrow the government of the United States.
Let me tell you, I get a little caught up when I watch videos like that. I`m from Philadelphia. I was born and raised under the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. I am deeply offended by this. I spent my entire life defending this nation against people that would do harm. My family has served every day since April 1864 to defend this country, and we had a president of the United States, as we`re finding out now, engineer a coup d`etat. It wasn`t spontaneous. It was very well-planned.
And you might recall I was on real-time with bill morrow on November 6th and I said this is going to insurgency. Insurgency is worse than insurrection. It is multiple insurrections that has led through a political party that will not use the halls of power to resolve incidents. They will use the halls of power to stoke violence, and here we are.
REID: Yes, indeed. Let me play a little more of President Biden for you, Stuart. I mean, this was actually an important speech for him. This was a speech that for many felt like it was one -- you know, it was a little bit too late. It should have been done earlier, let`s just be honest. But he laid waste to the claims of people who support the former president. He didn`t name him but he slammed him in a very important and I think a historically important way.
Here he is talking about the mob and what the president of the United States failed to do that day.
Here`s President Biden.
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BIDEN: We saw with our own eyes rioters menace these halls, threatening the life of the speaker of the House, literally erecting gallows to hang the vice president of the United States of America. What did we not see? We didn`t see a former president who had just rallied the mob to attack, sitting in a private dining room off the Oval Office in the White House watching it all on television and doing nothing for hours.
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REID: Stuart, I cannot imagine another president -- and we`ve had some venal ones. We`ve had Andrew Johnson and some really rotten presidents. I can`t imagine any of the other sitting back and watching our Capitol be ransacked. Your thoughts?
STUART STEVENS, SENIOR ADVISER, THE LINCOLN PROJECT: Well, first, I`ve always wanted to have this opportunity to thanks Mr. Nance for his service to the country. I`ve followed his career in antiterrorism and we`re a lot safer with the work he`s done over these decades and that we need that sort of service and that expertise for what`s happening to America is just extraordinary.
You know, what struck me about the president`s speech today was really -- the most important he was saying about Donald Trump is true of the Republican Party. I mean, there was a brief moment there, you can almost hold your breath for it, while the Republican Party rallied around and called this out, and then they went back. This ultimately isn`t about Donald Trump. If for every elected official, most of the elected officials in Congress who are Republicans stood up and called Donald Trump out and said he was a liar, that he had attempted to over -- this wouldn`t be happening.
So, what we`ve ended up with now is a major part of the United States doesn`t believe we live in a democracy. And where that ends, people like Mr. Nance would know a lot better than I, but it`s not good.
REID: Yes. Let me play for a second. This is cut six from our producers. This is how Republicans sounded immediately after the attack, that they also and their staffs also endured. Take a listen.
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REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The president bears responsibility for Wednesday`s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): All I can say is count me out, enough is enough.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): There`s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.
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REID: And, Congressman Aguilar, I`m going to put you in the awkward position of responding to that. I know they are in the other body, the United States Senate. But as an elected official, someone who serves the people, someone who, like all of those people we just saw ,is paid by the American taxpayer to defend us and defend our democracy, what do you think when you hear people who are elected, just as you were elected, and some of whom were elected in the same election with Donald Trump and who don`t question their own elections, when you hear people from the Republican Party talk like that about an election they know was legitimate? I don`t know how that strikes you, sir, if you could just tell us.
AGUILAR: It`s wild. That`s how it strikes me. And I think you hit it right. They talk about ballots and integrity, but those are the same ballots that elected them. But I think what`s more important now is just the deafening silence from House Republican leadership when it comes to today, the January 6th anniversary. And it`s cricket. You don`t hear anything from them. As you mentioned at the top, you have Congresswoman Cheney, the vice chair of our committee, there with the vice president, but they would choose not to. Other House Republicans would choose just to avoid the conversation rather than committing to democracy, which is what we should do.
REID: Yes, how much trouble are we -- I mean, I think we`re in a lot of trouble. We don`t have much more time. But, unfortunately, we`ll just have to continue this conversation on another day. I want to thank Congressman Pete Aguilar, Malcolm Nance, Stuart Stevens. Thank you all very much. Happy New Year.
We much more ahead on the anniversary of January 6th. Remember this video of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal as the MAGA mob began forcing their way into the House chamber? She joins me next along with Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Ruben Gallego to talk about what they and their staff members endured.
Plus Sherrilyn Ifill and Ibram Kendi join me live with their thoughts on January 6th, how it`s affecting the right for voting rights and the questions it raises about race, privilege and national security.
Stay with us.
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PELOSI: The visuals of what was happening outside the Capitol, now inside the Capitol, it breaks your heart. It breaks your heart. It`s as if somebody in the White House dropped a bomb on the Congress of the United States.
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REID: As we reflect today on the one-year anniversary of the insurrection, for many who were inside the Capitol that day, the frightening memories remain extraordinarily painful.
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REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): And then there was a sound I will never forget, the sound of pounding on the door like a battering ram, the most haunting sound I ever heard and I will never forget.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I called my wife and, you know, it wasn`t until I heard her voice that I thought, wow, you know, this is one of those calls.
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): We all were wondering if we would die in that moment. I was 15 feet at most from the front of that gallery to the door.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is a moment where we as a Senate can thank Officer Goodman for his bravery in protecting the Senate, protecting the Capitol, protecting our democracy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you know you were that close to those folks when you came down this hall?
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): No. No, I didn`t.
It was very fortunate indeed that Officer Goodman was there to get me in the right direction.
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REID: Joining me now are three Democratic representatives who were all present during the insurrection, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Ruben Gallego of Arizona, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
Thank you all for being here.
And I want to start with you, Congresswoman Jayapal.
You actually had gone through knee replacement surgery just weeks before, a couple of weeks before this insurrection, so you were not actually necessarily physically capable of running as you needed to run.
I have heard the story of you having to rely on Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill just to get you out of there. Talk about your experience that day and what you remember.
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Well, Joy, that`s right. I had had knee replacement surgery five weeks before.
And when everything -- when we started to hear about the mobs outside, my husband actually texted me and said: "I think you should come back to the office."
And I couldn`t because I didn`t know if I could make it back to the office walking. But I also thought that that was the safest place I could be was in the Capitol with the speaker. And that`s what I texted him back. And when we realized that we had to -- we were being told to get from the Democratic side to the Republican side, we had to crawl under banisters.
And I actually went back up there this morning for the first time since that happened. I wasn`t able to go back to the Gallery. I just couldn`t do it until today.
And I realized how many banisters we had to crawl under. And I had a cane, five weeks out. I couldn`t really walk. And when I -- that picture that you`re seeing up on the screen right now, I had to stretch my leg out to the right, because I couldn`t bend it. And I actually rolled from the seat onto the floor because it was the only way I could get down onto the floor, and was thinking about, what do I do if these insurrectionists make it in?
Jamie is right. We could hear that pounding on the door. And we were just so close to the doors. There was no furniture to barricade the doors either like there was down on the main floor. And so I got my gas mask in one hand at my cane and the other.
And I thought well, I will just hit them with my gas mask and hit them with my cane to try to get out of there. But all of that, Joy, is about the trauma of that day. But it continues, because this is clear and present danger that we`re still in.
JAYAPAL: This was not a situation where the day happened and it was done. We`re still in the middle of the fight.
REID: Yes, absolutely.
And I know that you also wound up being sort of locked down with some Republican members and wound up testing positive for COVID, because they didn`t take seriously the COVID precautions that day either. So there were like multiple threats that you all had to face, including threats to your health.
And Congressman Ruben Gallego, I mean, you`re a Marine. My brother was Army National Guard, but I know you Marines, you all are special, right? And you guys have definitely held a special place in the lure of American military history.
But that really kind of put you in a position of leadership on that day, because people were looking to you. I mean, my understanding is that you and Representative Swalwell were the last to leave the floor, and that I think people were looking to you because you have that experience.
Talk about your experience that day and what you felt responsible to try to do.
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D-AZ): Well, really, what put me in the mood, I would say, is, I -- there was a young staffer on the floor.
And I looked at her. And she was just absolutely scared, petrified. And it reminded me of actually being in war and seeing other young men, especially when we first hit contact, seeing that look.
And the way that you survive these types of situations is by actually having very clear leadership. And so that`s when I started giving people instructions about how to put on their gas mask, giving instructions up to the gallery about where they should move and when they should move, and even, unfortunately, talking to some of the members of Congress about preparing them in case we have to fight.
And part of, unfortunately, being able to win in war and battle is actually making sure that you`re in the mind-set that you have to fight, that this is actually happening. And, a lot of times, people cocoon themselves to protect themselves from the emotional trauma of it.
And I was trying to basically break them out of that. And one of the reasons why I was the last person to leave is because I was worried that somebody was scared or in the corner somewhere hiding.
And, look, I have seen that happen in combat. I saw a 6`4`` Marine, Virginia country boy, just cocoon himself in the middle of combat. And so it could easily happen to any civilian. I didn`t want to leave that floor until I knew everybody was out. And that`s why Swalwell and I stuck around and make sure we checked every -- every row before we left the floor.
REID: Yes. Well, God bless you for doing that.
And, Congresswoman Pressley, I have to say that when this thing happened, there were so many thoughts that went through so many of our minds.
But I really did think about those of you who are identified as the Squad, because if there were targets, specific targets that people who don`t follow politics every day would be focused on, the Squad, the speaker, you all were in that group of people that were really specially targeted.
I will never forget the story about your panic button not working when you needed it. First of all, do you know now why it didn`t work? And please tell us about your experience and how you sort of got through it.
And I know your husband also was part of that experience and wound up dealing with COVID afterwards as well.
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Sure.
Joy, I think it`s really important that we not whitewash what spurred and perpetuated this big lie, ultimately resulting in this insurrection. And that is white supremacy.
When you talk about the -- perhaps the heightened vulnerability that I might have had, having been in the sight line of the occupant of the White House, this pied piper of hate, this insurrectionist in chief, as it were, that has everything to do with a white supremacist violent mob backlash to historic record voter turnout that was driven by record numbers of black and brown voters.
So I think it`s really important that we not have selective amnesia about this big lie, this attempt to undermine free and fair elections, to challenge the integrity of our ballots. The host for that lie was white supremacist backlash.
PRESSLEY: And it`s important that we not have selective amnesia about that.
And it is important that we sit with the trauma and the terror of that day and, to reference what my colleagues said, recognize white supremacy is a clear and present threat to the lives of every person who calls this country home and to our democracy.
And there must be accountability. That is why we need full and thorough investigations. Anyone who was complicit or aided and abetted in this, including members of Congress, must be expelled.
There must be accountability. And that includes, again, starting with the origin of this insurrection and what led to the perpetuating of this big lie, restoring voting rights. This is about so much more than just securing the Capitol. This is about securing our democracy.
REID: And do you ever -- did you ever find out why the things that were supposed to save you in that moment weren`t working? Do we know anything more about that, Congresswoman Pressley?
PRESSLEY: It`s an open investigation. So there`s really not much that I can say about that, other than this, that, ultimately, democracy won the battle on January 6, but the war is still being waged against democracy.
PRESSLEY: And that is a -- white supremacy is a clear and present danger and threat.
It must be rooted out. And there must be accountability in order for there to be healing from these traumatic events. And I would like to instead reserve space for people who I think were the true patriots in this moment, like those black custodians who were cleaning up the mess left behind of this white -- violent white supremacist mob.
Very quickly. We are out of time.
But, Congresswoman Jayapal, I know that you have created support groups. You are the head of the Progressive Caucus, and your caucus looks like this panel. And I want everybody in this country to look at this panel, Ruben Gallego, Ayanna Pressley, Pramila Jayapal.
That is the nomenclature of the future of America. And there are people who were enraged by that, and enraged by the fact that, as Congresswoman Presley said, that was advanced in the election in Georgia.
Can you very quickly talk about how you all are supporting each other? There`s a reason we wanted you all to be together, because you all have held together to support each other in the wake of that hell.
JAYAPAL: Well, it has been -- I think, when you go through this kind of a shared experience and, as a person of color, which all three of us clearly are -- and our Progressive Caucus has all races represented in the Progressive Caucus -- the reality is, we have been seeing and feeling exactly what Ayanna has been describing for many years now.
JAYAPAL: And don`t forget that Stop the Steal goes back to the 2016 election.
REID: Yes. Yes.
JAYAPAL: So, I think is the moment where we stand together.
We say, this is who we are, America.
REID: Yes. Yes.
JAYAPAL: And this is what we bring to the table, and we will fight together for the kind of America that respects that diversity and actually embraces it and invites it.
REID: Congresswoman, it`s not Sunday, but you can get an amen.
You all screenshot this screen right now. This is America. If you don`t like it, feel free to move, because this is where we`re going.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, Ruben Gallego, Ayanna Pressley, you are the future. And I respect you all so deeply. Thank you all for being here this evening.
Up next, Sherrilyn Ifill. We just keep on going. We have such amazing guests tonight. Sherrilyn Ifill herself joins me next to discuss the big lie`s corrosive effect on voting rights and what`s being done to combat it.
We will be right back.
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KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here in this very building, a decision will be made about whether we uphold the right to vote and ensure free and fair elections.
Let`s be clear. We must pass voting rights bills that are now before the Senate. And the American people must also do something more.
We cannot sit on the sidelines. We must unite in defense of our democracy.
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REID: The big lie behind the insurrection one year ago today has been weaponized by Republican state legislatures into new voter suppression laws.
And those laws are designed to disenfranchise the mostly black, brown and AAPI voters who delivered to President Biden the election victory that the mob tried to overturn.
Last year, 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting, according to the Brennan Center For Justice, and dozens more bills will carry over into this year. As Vice President Harris noted, Congress has the power to stop this slow-motion assault on our democracy right now, with the two bills awaiting Senate votes, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
I`m joined now by Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director of counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
And, Sherrilyn, you know I am -- I consider you a friend. And I also follow you on Twitter. I am a bit of your Twitter stan. And you tweeted what I considered to be a must-read thread about this sort of false dichotomy that`s being drawn, that Republicans, understandably, they don`t want to own January 6.
And so a lot of conservatives are trying to say, wait, wait, wait, let`s try to say that we don`t need a wholesale fix to voting access. We can do little tweaks, and we can fix it at the small ends. We can fix the Electoral College Act and other such things, and that should be enough, and then we`re all square.
Explain to us why that would not be enough.
SHERRILYN IFILL, PRESIDENT, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND: Thank you so much, Joy. I`m happy to be here today.
So I want to just be -- emphasize two things. First of all, Trump did not start voter suppression.
IFILL: Voter suppression has been going on for as long as we have been here.
And certainly since the Supreme Court`s Shelby County vs. Holder decision in 2013, those of us who are civil rights lawyers have been sounding the alarm that states have been trying to suppress the votes of black and brown people, now freed from the restrictions of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
And we have been talking about the need for legislation that will fix the Voting Rights Act in order to support our efforts to try to protect black and brown and Asian American and Native American voters. So Trump did not create it.
This was already in existence in Texas, in Florida, in a variety of states. And the lie about voter fraud has been around for 20 years, perpetrated often by the Republican Party, most of the time, suggesting that there is substantial voter fraud.
This has been going on for decades, what Trump did was pick up the tools that the party had already been using and weaponize them, celebrated by the white supremacy that Representative Ayanna Pressley talked about in your last hit.
And so now we come to this point where our democracy is in peril and where the fact that our democracy was in peril in 2020 did not stop black and brown voters and Asian American and Native American voters from coming out in record numbers, which is why the 2020 presidential election was the election with the highest vote turnout ever in the history of this country, not since 1900, because, in 1900, black people couldn`t vote and women couldn`t vote, ever in the history of this country.
And not only that. Not only did five million black people turn out to vote in November 2020 in Georgia; 4.5 million of that five million showed up for the special election on January 5. That is why you can`t talk about January 6 without talking about January 5, because January 5 showed once again, that this power was a transformative power.
It didn`t just elect Joe Biden by this incredible margin. It also resulted in the election of the first black senator from Georgia since Reconstruction and only the second Jewish statewide officer in the state of Georgia and, of course, delivered to the Democrats the power over the Senate.
So you have to put all of that in context. And then what we saw, as you point out, in 2021 was a series of state election laws designed to make sure that that resilience and determination that minority voters showed in 20 standing in line in Fulton County for nine hours to vote in the primary, standing in line for seven hours in Harris County, standing in line during a pandemic, during the height of the pandemic in the Milwaukee primary, facing off voter intimidation, facing off restrictions on absentee voting, all of that, their job, they decided, was to make sure that could never happen again.
And beginning with Georgia and its voter suppression law in March, it has been off to the races. LDF is litigating in Georgia. We`re litigating in Texas. We`re litigating in Florida. But there are many other states as well.
And then on top of that, the Supreme Court issued a decision this summer in the Brnovich case that weakened Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
IFILL: And what we have now is the perfect storm.
And if we are going to survive as a democracy, we must have voting legislation to fix the Voting Rights Act, but also to provide access to the polls to ensure that some of the innovations that were used last year during the pandemic, the expanded use of drop boxes and absentee voting, that that will continue for voters.
That`s what they`re trying to choke off. And I hear people talking all the time about 2024 and the Electoral Count Act. And I care about that too. But the game is 2022.
Understand that, if we don`t have changes in 2022, we are facing the potential of a fully unraveled democracy. This is as serious as it gets. We are holding this up because one man, Senator Manchin, and potentially Senator Sinema, believe that the filibuster, a Senate rule, a Senate debate rule, is more important at this moment than the rights guaranteed to black voters under the 14th Amendment and the 15th Amendment.
And it was gratifying to hear President Biden finally say several weeks ago that this legislation must pass, and if the filibuster must go, then it must go on.
President Biden and Vice President Harris are going to be in Atlanta next Tuesday. I`m looking forward to seeing what they`re going to say. They`re going to be talking about voting. But every single person has to understand the stakes of this, as you do, Joy, is really the stakes not just about black people and brown people, but it`s about American democracy itself.
REID: You know, again, it`s not Sunday...
REID: ... but you`re going to get an amen on this, because the only thing that matters is whether or not we have access to the vote.
And you cannot avoid and escape the fact that anti-blackness and this rage against the right of black people to vote and our willingness and our eagerness to exercise that vote is at the heart of this threat to democracy.
Sherrilyn Ifill, you are a national treasure, my sister. You truly, truly are.
IFILL: Thank you.
REID: And I`m just blessed and highly favored to be able to access you from time to time.
And I just thank you for being here. Thank you for all that you do for our democracy, sister. Thank you so much.
IFILL: Thank you. Thank you for what you do, Joy. I appreciate you.
REID: Thank you. Thank you very much. I appreciate you.
OK, still ahead: The traumatic events a year ago today brought American divisions on race and privilege into sharp focus. And acclaimed author -- come on, now, we keep bringing it to you -- Ibram Kendi joins me next.
Don`t go anywhere.
REID: One year ago today, a violent mob descended onto our Capitol, the same day that Georgia elected the state`s first black senator and first Jewish senator.
The attack on our Capitol was also an attack on those victories, an outright refusal of having to accept the will and the votes of black and brown Americans. The events of January 6 were certainly anti-democratic, but they were also deeply rooted in anti-blackness.
Insurrectionists included anti-black extremists. They hurled a torrent of racial slurs at black police officers, while displaying potent symbols of racism, hate and white supremacy, including this particularly gruesome symbol of anti-black terrorism.
What was perhaps the most stark display of white supremacy was how the mob was allowed to leave, the vast majority not carted off, not rounded up, not shot at, even as they broke through barricades and smashed windows and hunted for the vice president`s head, forcing the question, what if the insurrectionists had been black?
Joining me now, Ibram X. Kendi, director and founder of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research and bestselling author of "How to Be an Antiracist."
And, Mr. Kendi, thank you so much for being here. I am so excited to talk with you tonight.
I have to tell you. I tweeted this earlier. The image that I cannot get out of my head from the day of the insurrection one year ago today is the image of that man taking a symbol of the Confederacy, the Confederate Flag, the fake Confederate Flag, not even the real one of the Confederate states of whatever they called themselves, into our Capitol, something that didn`t even happen during the Civil War.
That image right there disgusts me more than any of the other images. Well, actually, most of the images are disgusting, but this one is particularly awful, because this was the symbol of a fake nation that went to war against us in order to enslave people who look like you and me.
And he brought that symbol inside of our Capitol. That didn`t even happen during the Civil War. I wonder if there are images for you, as somebody who writes about anti-racism, that struck you in particular from that day?
IBRAM X. KENDI, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: Well, Joy, I think we`re on the same page.
It was that image too. And I just can`t get out of my mind what the cornerstone of the Confederacy was. And Alexander Stephens, the vice president, said it in 1861, that this new nation is based on the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man and slavery, subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.
That is what that flag symbolized. And, indeed, that is what that insurrection symbolized, trying to destroy the multiracial democracy we`re seeking to build.
REID: You know, it`s funny, because people like myself and others who said this when Donald Trump was elected, that Trumpism is racism, used to get pilloried and say that that was hysterical almost to say that.
But Trumpism is tied with this lure for the Confederacy, which Trump himself had. You had people there who brought a noose, the symbol of lynching, and wanted to lynch Mike Pence. They said "Hang Mike Pence". They wanted to lynch him because he refused to reverse an election that black and brown people and people of color, AAPI people, had made a decision, had in the majority voted for Joe Biden, and they won.
And, therefore, that had to be illegitimate. I remember that during Barack Obama`s tenure, that the president -- the election of the president had to be illegitimate, because it wasn`t possible for black and brown people to make a decision that could stick in American democracy.
How worried are you that this concept of a multiracial democracy cannot succeed because we have so many people who fundamentally oppose it?
KENDI: I mean, that`s the sort of eternal worry. And -- but I also think it`s important for us to remember that people are taught and manipulated into opposing it.
They`re consistently taught by people like Trump that a multiracial democracy is somehow anti-white, that the equality we`re trying to build is not an equality that`s going to benefit white people. And, indeed, studies show that what singularly sort of distinguishes Trump voters are people who somehow believe that white people are the primary victims of racism, even though, when you look at racial disparities, from wealth, to health, to education, to incarceration, white people are typically on the higher end, and black and indigenous people are typically on the lower end.
But people still somehow believe that white people are being subjected, that the election was stolen from white people, not those black and brown voters who had to stand in line, who -- who it was so hard for them to vote.
REID: You know, what`s interesting is that this MAGA insurrection has traveled from the Capitol to local school boards, where people are fighting against the teaching of accurate history because they feel that it will be offensive to white children and make white children sad.
But someone tweeted that there were white people who were abolitionists. There were white people who heroically fought against the idea of slavery, including Lincoln`s original vice president, who should he have kept on board, instead of dumping him for Andrew Johnson.
There were white people who were heroically -- isn`t it interesting that the people who are fighting against the teaching of history and calling it Critical Race Theory and saying you are part of Critical Race Theory, which you`re not, that they don`t think that their kids will identify with the abolitionists? They think their kids are going to be sad because they`re going to identify with the oppressors and the enslavers.
What do you make of that?
KENDI: Well, Joy, I think you`re revealing that they don`t even know their own history. They don`t even know white America`s history.
KENDI: They don`t know those white Americans who -- if we were to teach about slavery, we would teach about people like Wendell Phillips in Boston...
KENDI: ... or William Lloyd Garrison in Boston, or so many white people during the civil rights movement, some of whom were even killed during the civil rights movement, and that their children would identify with those people, not the slaveholders.
KENDI: They would identify with the abolitionist, who were white and black, who were trying to create a different type of nation.
REID: They might know who their own personal ancestors are, and worry that their children might get more information than they want them to have. Let`s just leave it there.
Ibram Kendi, who is not part of the Critical Race Theory sort of dissertation in the world, but he is a great and brilliant man.
Thank you very much, sir. Thank you so much for being here. Really appreciate you.
Still ahead: President Biden and Vice President Harris are not the only ones sounding the alarm about the ongoing threats to American democracy.
Breaking down what it`s going to take to save it -- next on THE REIDOUT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To me, the true patriots were the more than 150 (sic) Americans who peacefully expressed their vote at the ballot box, the election workers who protected the integrity of the vote, and the heroes who defended this Capitol.
You can`t love your country only when you win. You can`t obey the law only when it`s convenient.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: With great power comes great responsibility.
That is what January 6 has taught us. It is far easier to watch something burn than it is to build something. A year after the insurrection, our democracy remains dangerously fragile and desperately needs reinforcement.
Former President Jimmy Carter, who has spent much of his post-presidential career focusing on protecting and advancing democracy, issued a stark warning in "The New York Times."
He wrote: "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."
Historian Michael Beschloss had a similar warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: If we lose our democracy this year, we are unlikely to get it back during our lifetimes.
I can`t think of anything more important than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now, these days, it feels like we are constantly being let down by everything and everyone.
But I want to leave you with this. America`s exceptionalism has always been sown by the millions of regular ordinary Americans who have summoned the courage in the face of fierce opposition to rewrite destiny.
It`s Crazy Horse fighting for the Sioux Nation at the Battle of Little Bighorn and winning. It`s the hundreds of faceless women who gathered at Seneca Falls telling the world they`d had enough of being treated as second-class citizens.
It`s Fred Korematsu, who refused to accept his racist imprisonment in a Japanese-American internment camp. It`s the hundreds of defiant and, frankly, terrified Freedom Riders who faced violence and death because they refused to accept America`s dehumanizing policy of segregation.
It`s the young activist named John Lewis, who led hundreds of marchers over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which helped deliver the Voting Rights Act. It`s Dolores Huerta, who waged a lifelong crusade to correct economic injustice and to help improve the lives and wages of farmworkers.
And that same fearless fight for justice is being fought today by folks like LaTosha Brown, Stacey Abrams, and all the election workers who face death threats for counting our votes.
These people are bending the arc of America`s moral universe towards justice. They aren`t waiting for it to just happen. So, remember, with 10 months until the next election, we are not powerless. The greatest defenders of democracy are not those in power. It`s you, the millions of Americans living your lives quietly, trying to do what`s right.
If democracy has any hope of surviving, it will take all of us to keep bending that moral arc towards justice.
And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.