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Transcript: The ReidOut, 10/18/21

Guests: Wes Moore, Chris Pernell, Elie Mystal, John Nichols, Wanda Cooper-Jones, S. Lee Merritt, Erika Dilday, Rachel Boynton


Colin Powell dies at age 84. Colin Powell dies of COVID complications after battling myeloma cancer. Powell on Trump, he lies about things; Myeloma cancer would have affected Powell`s response to COVID vaccine. COVID patients are 11 times more likely to die if unvaccinated.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for watching THE BEAT.

What time is it? It`s time for THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid. Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing, Ari? Thank you very much. We`ve got a ton to get to, so you have a wonderful, wonderful night.

All right, everybody, thank you guys for tuning in. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the loss of one of America`s most historic figures. General Colin Powell died of COVID complications at age 84.

Now, it`s one of those passing that feels kind of like the loss of a family member. General Powell has been a part of public life for all of mine, basically, and maybe yours. In many ways, he felt like a familiar figure, that guy on the block with the strict Jamaican parents who always did his homework, had an afterschool job and joined the ROTC, who overachieved and made all the moms on the block proud. A veteran of Vietnam War, Powell rose to the rank of four-star general. In 1987, he became the first black national security advisor under President Reagan. In 1989, he became the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the first President Bush. And in 2001, he became the first black secretary of state under George W. Bush.

Like so many historical figures, his legacy has its complications from his role in how a brutal chapter in the Vietnam War was reported, to the botched Black Hawk Down raid in Somalia that left 18 American soldiers dead. While Powell was initially skeptical of the mission, he ultimately approved the raid co-owning the failure with President Clinton.

In 2003, Dick Cheney and the other war hawks in the administration of the second President Bush brazenly used the esteemed people felt for Secretary Powell to push him out front to sell a lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Privately, he opposed the Iraq War and later said he regretted his speech to the U.N. Security Council that failure could have destroyed a lesser man`s legacy, but it never did.

President Biden said today that Powell embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat and he added this.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: He`s not only a dear friend and a patriot, one of our great military leaders and a man of overwhelming decency, this is a guy born son of immigrants in New York City raised in Harlem in the South Bronx, graduated from City College of New York. And he rose to the highest ranks not only in the military but also in areas of foreign policy and state craft.


REID: Ultimately, Powell will be remembered as a genuinely good man, a dutiful military man and a mentor to other military members, including the current secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, and to young people of color from his beloved Bronx, New York.


LLOYD AUSTIN, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The world lost one of the greatest leaders that we have ever witnessed. Alma lost a great husband and the family lost a tremendous father. And I lost a tremendous personal friend and mentor. He has been my mentor for a number of years. He always made time for me. And I could always go to him with tough issues. He always had great counsel. We will certainly miss him. I feel as if I have a hole in my heart just learning of this.


REID: Colin Powell easily could have been the first black president of the United States and his wife -- had his wife, Alma, not so feared assassination. Nevertheless, he helped move the country forward when he went on a limb to endorse the man who did become our first black president, Barack Obama, despite fellow Vietnam veteran John McCain being on the other side of that race. He later endorsed President Biden having walked away from a deteriorating Republican Party led by a man who deferred his own military service in Vietnam multiple times claiming bone spurs.


GEN. COLIN POWELL (RET.), FORMER JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: The Republican Party, the president, thought they were so immune, they can go say anything they wanted. And even more troubling, the Congress would just sit there and not, in any way, resist what the president is doing. And the one word I have to use with respect to what he`s been doing for the last several years is a word I would never have used before, I never would have used with any of the four presidents I`ve worked for, he lies. He lies about things and he gets away with it because people would not hold him accountable.


REID: And, ultimately, he was a man whose life was cut too short by cancer, which he battled valiantly and by COVID.

I`m joined by Wes Moore, a Democratic candidate for governor of Maryland and a former army captain. And it`s great to talk with you, Wes Moore. You`re the right guy to talk to in this instance. You share a lot in common with General Powell, not just the Jamaican heritage, and you know how he grew up, you know what those parents were like. We all know those West Indian parents are rough, man. They`re strict but they can produce in a young man a greatness and, you know, a focus. What do you have to say about his legacy on this day?

WES MOORE (D), MARYLAND CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: You know, this is hard because I think, for General Powell, you know, he was a person who personally took a real stake in me.


I mean, I first met General Powell when I was a young lieutenant getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan. And he was someone who reminded me, he reminded me that loving your country and loving your blackness and who you are do not have to be mutually exclusive, that the conditions that you grew up were not your deficits, they were your armor.

And to think that this someone who was a child of immigrants who grew up in the South Bronx, who then rose and went to City College in New York who then rose to become the nation`s number one diplomat, I think about that in this moment that while, yes, we`re talking about someone who served to confront and some of the most complicated times in our world`s history and he didn`t emerge with a perfect legacy. The thing that I mourn, the person that I mourn today is a person who took a very real interest in me and I think who serves as an important example for so many who came up and grew up and served under him.

REID: Why do you think that his legacy has been so durable and survived? I mean, you know, between the Vietnam issues and, you know, the Iraq War, which I know I was very much opposed to the war, but just somehow he managed to survive those dings to his legacy. Why do you think that is?

MOORE: Well, you know, it`s -- you`re right. I mean, General Powell advocated for and justified a war that I also was vehemently against. I think the part of the reason that his legacy has endured through all that is I think that people remember that we`re not mourning today a man who made every perfect decision. You know, I know from personal experience that war is horrible. It is messy. It is complicated. I think what people honor is the fact that this is a man who rose through the ranks and ended up in positions of power and authority that no one expected him to.

This was a man who served the nation, who, frankly, would honor his service by not giving him equal treatment. This was a man who understood that in order to lead, in order to hit the levels that he hit, you couldn`t just be as good as everybody, you had to be better, markedly better, and he was. And I think the thing that people honor today is that reality that while his -- while he did not make every perfect decision, when you look at what he did, what he accomplished and also then how he uses life to then mentor, to then support, to then fight and advocate for things in and out of uniform, I think that`s what people are remembering today.

REID: Yes. And you should note that part of his training was in Georgia, where he did face very unequal treatment as a black man. So he went through a lot of issues of self-segregation and denial.

He was also somebody who comes from a tradition we don`t really see much anymore. I mean, he came up in the Republican Party. He was a staunch Republican most of his public career, really was -- his career was made by three Republican presidents. But when it came to 2008, he said, no, the better man is President Obama. He supported him again in `12 and supported Joe Biden. That sort of bipartisan being willing to cross out of party, I should say. Bipartisanship isn`t what that is, country over party is what it is. Your thoughts on that.

MOORE: And it is. It`s worth remembering that he did. He crossed the aisle at a very consequential moment in the 2008 election and endorsed President Obama, when President Obama was running on a platform that was immensely critical of the Iraq War.

I think that General Powell, his decision to do that and, you`re absolutely right, Joy, it`s the moment that he did it. He had a certain level of credibility. He had a certain level of authority that he was willing to hand off to this U.S. senator who was vying to be the next president of the United States, and, again, as he said, because he is the person who has the judgment to lead this country in a very crucial moment.

It was an incredible important moment. I think President Obama even said it in his remembrance today that General Powell helped make him President Obama.

REID: Indeed.

MOORE: And that has not been lost today.

REID: No, indeed. It might have been the most important endorsement that President Obama got by somebody who himself could have been president of the United States. Wes Moore, thank you so much for sharing this sad but really important day with us. I really appreciate that. Well, sadly, because nothing is sacred, Powell`s death is already being weaponized by COVID deniers.

As I mentioned, he died of complications related to COVID-19. Powell was immunocompromised because of a rare form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. He was vaccinated but vaccines are likely to be less effective in patients with this illness.


I`m joined now by Dr. Chris Pernell, Public Health Physician and a Fellow at the American College of Preventive Medicine. And, Dr. Pernell, also you`re somebody who knows what it`s like to lose a family member and a loved one to COVID. Can you explain to those who would use General Powell`s death to reinforce their own disbelief in the vaccine? Can you please just amuse them of the notion that somehow being vaccinated contributed to his death?

DR. CHRIS PERNELL, PUBLIC HEALTH PHYSICIAN: Thanks, Joy. The first thing I would say is that`s shameful. It shame on a brilliant legacy, whether it`s complicated or complex, he was quite a courageous man. And just as a family member of someone who`s lost their lives to COVID, for persons to use that tragedy to fuel disinformation really is despicable. And I can`t say it in nicer terms because there are no nice words for that. We know that the general had multiple myeloma, as you mentioned, persons with this rare albeit blood cancer are less likely to mount an appropriate immune response to vaccinations. Their plasma cells, the very cells that are responsible for creating antibodies, are the cells that are impacted by this type of cancer.

REID: And so your message be that for people who say, well, see, he got vaccinated and it didn`t help him, I mean, isn`t it the case that getting the vaccine was the best chance that he had of fighting COVID but, as you said, his body was not as able to respond to the vaccine the way that somebody who didn`t have multiple myeloma would?

PERNELL: Yes, anyone who using this tragedy to point to ineffectiveness in the vaccines has absolutely no understanding of the science or no understanding of the sense of loss that this nation has already endured. If we want to protect ourselves, other than a multilayer strategy, is getting vaccinated. We know that vaccinated people are 11 times less likely to die, ten times less likely to be hospitalized when infections do occur and those who are fully vaccinated, because no vaccine is 100 percent. But when those infections occur, they occur in persons who have more risk factors, usually those who are older in age. Of the 7,000 approximate deaths that we`ve seen and those who are fully vaccinated from COVID, it happened 85 percent of those cases and those 65 and, so, older age. And the fact that he had the disease had many counts against him in his fight against COVID, and my prayers and blessings to his family and to the nation as a whole.

REID: And we know that Alma Powell, we believe, might have tested positive. I`m going to make sure confirm that that is true. When somebody is fully vaccinated, can you explain how and why they might still contract COVID for those who do not understand that?

PERNELL: Definitely. So, first, let`s start with this. No vaccine is 100 percent effective. These mRNA vaccines have held up through multiple studies to prove efficacy or real world effectiveness. We`re talking about 90 percent efficacy. We have seen some waning immunity as time goes on, but still we`re talking, even for the Pfizer and the Moderna upwards of 75 percent effective.

So, the vaccines at baseline are some of the most powerful prevention tools, Joy, we had ever seen or created. In a person who has, I`m going to call them, overwhelming risk factors, meaning age, your immunity system, your immune system wanes not only just because of time but because of age. So an older aged person has higher risk and a person with multiple myeloma, which specifically impacts the body`s ability to fight infections and specifically impacts the body`s ability to mount are response to vaccinations, it exposed him, it left him with just too much risk and he ultimately succumbed.

REID: Yes, unfortunately. Just to put this up, breakthrough cases, 46,312 hospitalizations, 2,976, only 616 deaths with unvaccinated people. That`s 92 percent of the breakthrough cases. It is 92 percent of the hospitalizations. It is 91 percent of the deaths. So, you are 11 times more likely to die from COVID if you are unvaccinated. That is what you should remember, as well as Collin Powell`s legacy as a great American we lost today, unfortunately.

Dr. Chris Pernell, thank you very much. We really appreciate you being here tonight.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, the January 6th select committee prepares to vote on contempt of Congress charges for Steve Bannon, as Donald Trump is questioned under oath in one of many civil lawsuits he`s facing.

Also, what`s really behind the obstruction from Senators Manchin and Sinema, as the president`s build back better legislation gets smaller and smaller.

I`ll also be joined by the mother of Ahmaud Arbery as the trial begins for the three white men accused of murdering him.

Plus, the preview of the powerful new documentary, Civil War, on the Roots of Racism and Division in this Country, it premieres Sunday night at 10:00 P.M. Eastern right here on MSNBC.


THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: The House select committee investigating January 6th is set to vote tomorrow night on a resolution referring Steve Bannon for charges of criminal contempt and defied the subpoena for records and testimony last week hiding behind Donald Trump`s claim of executive privilege. However, President Biden has declined to invoke executive privilege on Trump`s behalf.

Now, the Associated Press is reporting that the White House sent a letter to Bannon`s lawyer saying, quote, the president`s decision applied to Bannon too, and at this point, we are not aware of any basis for your client`s refusal to appear for a deposition, unquote.

This comes as Trump today filed a lawsuit naming the select committee and the National Archives as defendants, he`s suing to block the archives from turning over White House records.

Trump`s suit claims that the committee`s subpoena is invalid because it has no power of investigation. And it says the material should be protected -- here we go again -- by executive privilege.


Of course, Congress` power of investigation has been upheld by the Supreme Court. So there`s that.

With me now, Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for "The Nation," and Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney and an MSNBC legal analyst.

Let me just play what Adam Schiff, who`s from the January 16 committee, said yesterday about the chances of Bannon testifying. Here he is.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN: What are the chances that you will get this opportunity to question Steve Bannon, do you think?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I think the chances are actually very good.

And the fact that if the Justice Department prosecutes Steve Bannon, other witnesses will see they will face real consequences, including jail time and potentially stiff fines, that is a way of getting people`s attention.


REID: Joyce Vance, how many different ways can Steve Bannon be told your executive privilege claim has been denied, you don`t get to claim it?

How is it possible that he and Donald -- and Donald Trump seem not to understand that?

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think the problem is that they do understand it, Joy, but they have learned over the years that playing a delay game with the courts serves their purposes when they`re trying to avoid doing something here.

That`s why Congressman Schiff is dead on the money here and why it will be so important if the committee makes a request to the Justice Department to bring a criminal contempt proceeding. That would actually be a prosecution of Bannon for criminal contempt that would subject him to up to a year in prison.

It`ll be very important for DOJ to proceed. The madness has gone on for long enough. It`s time for someone to just tell Trump no, to tell him that the law applies to him. And, in this case, that means Steve Bannon and the other witnesses will need to sit down and testify on Congress.

REID: And, Elie, what do you make of this Donald Trump lawsuit, because he`s once again saying executive privilege should apply when he`s already been told no and suing the National Archives and saying the committee has no -- none of that seems to make sense, and I`m not even a lawyer.

ELIE MYSTAL, "THE NATION": It is all legal bollocks.

But let`s never lose sight of the fact that what Trump is arguing is that he has a privileged interest in keeping the public from seeking documents relating to a coup against the United States government.

His argument is a little bit like a cop coming up to me and saying, hey, Elie, you know anything about the murder on Main and 14th Street, and me saying, you can`t see my gun!

Well, whoa, bucky, I didn`t say all that. Maybe I really do need to see those documents, right? Because if you`re going this hard to the mattresses to protect these documents that you have no legal claim over, maybe there really is something in there that we need to see.

Executive privilege exists with the office of the president, not the former guy. And at no point during Donald Trump`s administration did he seem to understand the difference between his office and his person. And that`s happening again.

REID: Well, and I think even this comes to these civil suits. So Donald Trump gave a deposition today.

Here`s what CNBC reported. Trump on Monday afternoon completed several hours of questioning for a lawsuit that accuses his security guards of assaulting protesters outside of Trump Tower in New York City in 2015. This was before he was president.

It`s at least one of 10 civil cases against -- pending against Trump, according to NBC News. He`s been questioned for over four hours.

Here is what the plaintiff`s attorney had to say about whether or not Trump was responsive.


BENJAMIN DICTOR, ATTORNEY FOR PROTESTERS: There were a handful of questions to which we did not receive answers and which we will seek a court`s ruling on whether or not those questions have to be answered.

So there is a possibility that there may be further questions. Those also may be conducted by other means. We will have to -- we will have to sort of deal with the court on that and then move forward as the court directs.


REID: Joyce, I think a couple of things that Donald Trump has learned over the course of his life is that you can just keep suing and keep delaying ever having to face the consequences of anything you have done. And that`s pretty much the way he`s lived his life, and also that violence pays off, and proto-violence pays off and threatening violence and using it pays off.

And that is the tactic that he`s used also all of his life. So, talk to us a little bit about these civil suits. What are the possibilities that these plaintiffs will be able to get answers from Donald Trump?

And is he finally about to learn that, in his 70s, there actually are consequences to his actions?

VANCE: Trump is a bully. He`s always been a bully. And that`s clear in his conduct in this particular case, where part of this deposition today involved, we`re told, Trump being confronted with evidence from his own campaign rallies, where he encouraged the crowd to engage in violence.

We don`t know the specifics of the questions and answers, but, in these civil cases, Joy, whether it`s this one or whether it`s the Summer Zervos defamation case, or whether the case brought by E. Jean Carroll alleging that Trump defamed her over an alleged rape that occurred 20 years ago, if that case is permitted to go forward, all of these cases, as they move forward, subject Trump to the risk of deposition, under oath, of more of the truth coming forward and of more of his mystique and his myth crumpling.


And if, as seems likely, there are finally litigants who aren`t willing to take no for an answer, who won`t go away because they`re intimidated by the bully, and who will continue to press him, he ultimately we may well find out, even at this late stage in his life, that there are consequences for violating the law and for violating people`s rights.

The truth has a way of taking a long time to come to the front. But, for Trump, that time looks like it`s running out here.

REID: And, Elie, it feels like it`s especially important for him, because Donald Trump used -- he carried that penchant for violence into his administration.

You saw what was done to those protesters in D.C. when he marched out there to hold his Bible and had the whole Capitol area cleared. And I wonder if you think that there is a larger meaning to getting some justice, even if it`s just in civil court, against Donald Trump for his sort of luxuriating in violence both before he was president and after.

MYSTAL: I would take any justice, any, delayed, deferred. I don`t care when. I don`t care if we have to pursue this man to the ends of the earth. I don`t care if we have to go to Indochina and wait for somebody to pop out of a bowl of rice to get him to justice. Something needs to happen.

However, is it though? Because, as you and Joyce have been saying, he has had his entire career. He`s been a bully his entire career. He`s supported violence. Has it ever caught up to him? This deposition, this is a bullying event that happened in 2015.

He was supposed to testify in 2019. They delayed it until he was president anymore. Now he`s finally testifying and 2021. The lawyer is saying he maybe didn`t answer all -- like, when is it going to ever end?

The only thing that`s happening in the ether to him that I still think has a real chance of putting real consequences on him is what`s happening in Georgia with his attempt to steal the election there. Like, that could have teeth. He literally tried to obstruct justice and influence an election.

And we apparently have him on the phone doing it. Like, I still have hope that is going to but some real -- some orange jumpsuits at least in his mirror, right? Like, that`s my still hope.

REID: At least the jumpsuit would match his skin complexion, because orange is really this color.


REID: Elie Mystal, Joyce Vance.

And that prosecutor ain`t the one -- ain`t like the DOJ. They actually are moving along quite swiftly.

Thank you both very much. Really appreciate you very much.

Meanwhile, conservative Democrats in the Senate hold the rest of their party hostage, forcing major cuts to some of Biden`s top priorities. Do they really think that voters are going to reward them for blocking these popular proposals?

We will discuss when we come back.



REID: So, as you know, the Democrats have two senators who are holding back the Build Back Better bill, holding it hostage.

It`s almost as if they`re more interested in appeasing the lobbyists who are all up in their ears than helping a president from their own party pass his signature legislation.

There`s Joe Manchin, who`s openly sabotaging President Biden`s agenda by coming up against the centerpiece of his climate change legislation, the Clean Electricity Performance Program. Maybe it has something to do with all the donations that he`s gotten from energy companies, not to mention his son running a coal brokerage that Manchin founded and still takes about a half-million dollars a year from.

But, because that`s not enough, he`s also gone full Ronald Reagan, demanding a work requirement in the child tax program. All that is left, it seems, is for Manchin to start guttersniping about welfare queens.

And he`s doing that despite analyses that the child tax credit could cut poverty in half. And he happens to represent America`s second poorest state.

And then there`s Kyrsten Sinema, who`s not only raking in money from pharmaceutical companies -- cue her opposition to lowering prescription drug prices -- but she`s also maxed out of donations from several GOP donors this quarter.


With me now, John Nichols, national affairs correspondent for "The nation.

John, long time, no speak. It`s great to see you.

I wonder if -- I mean, my Occam`s razor explanation at this point is that the reason that Manchin and Sinema won`t tell us what they want in the bill is because what they want is the bill to fail, because their donors, their donor friends in the pharmaceutical industry for Sinema and the coal and oil and gas industries for Manchin want the bill to fail.

Do you think that I`m right?

JOHN NICHOLS, "THE NATION": I think you`re right, Joy.

I think there`s a lot of complexity in this that goes beyond that. But that`s the baseline.

The other reality is that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are incredibly ego-driven politicians. And I know that sounds absurd, talking about politicians and egos.

REID: Yes.

NICHOLS: But they have got really big ones.

And the fact of the matter is that both of them, I think, want to be the definer. They want to be the person who basically decides what this bill is. The truth of the matter is, I don`t think they`re working together. I think they would prefer that one of them stood down, so that the other one really could be that John McCain figure, that final figure that makes the decision.

But the tragedy of this, Joy, is that both of them are taking stands that are incredibly destructive to the circumstances of people in their own states, and, frankly, incredibly destructive to the prospects of the Democratic Party in 2022.

REID: Yes. Yes.

Here is a -- and sort of unusual sort of scene. This is Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders talking to reporters actually together. They actually met today. And this is after that op-ed that Bernie Sanders, that Senator Sanders wrote, and then the sort of response were Manchin hit back on Twitter. Here they are together. It`s very short.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Get a picture. You want to get a picture of us? Get a picture of us, huh?


MANCHIN: We`re talking.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): We`re talking. And...

QUESTION: You`re going to have a resolution by the end of the week, it sounds like?

MANCHIN: We`re talking.

SANDERS: We`re talking. We will make some progress.


REID: I`m not sure how much that matters.

This is what Judd Legum wrote. And I think he`s been pretty smart on love this.

He said: "Manchin could probably have gotten just about anything he wanted for West Virginia coal workers, but he apparently isn`t interested. The only group that could not be made whole in any kind of negotiation is the fossil fuel industry itself and people like Manchin and his family Emily who profit from fossil fuel extraction.


"You can use a lot of words to describe this behavior, but moderate is not a good choice. This is a radical decision to put very specific economic interests ahead of the health of the planet."

It seems to me that it doesn`t matter how much they smile next to each other. Joe Manchin wants to create a bill that will enhance the interests of coal companies and make climate change worse, because that`s what`s in, frankly, his family`s financial interest. And that`s just it.

NICHOLS: Well, I`d add one little element to it. I think you`re right that that`s it.

And that`s also something that a lot of the national media likes to cover, because, of course, we`re talking about West Virginia, a state with a historic coal mining tradition. But we should remember one other aspect of this.

And that is that the billionaire class, for lack of a better term, people who don`t want to pay higher taxes, really don`t like this bill either. They would like to see it tanked as well.

And, so for both Manchin and Sinema, in addition to the front-line issues we hear about, the fossil fuel industry with Manchin, the pharmaceutical industry with Sinema, there is this next stage of a great many incredibly wealthy, usually Republican-leaning donors who are going to be very happy with any Democrat who tanks this bill.

And that`s really what we ought to keep our eye on. If you look at where those campaign donations...


REID: Yes, you`re 100 percent right, because, if you look at Sinema, I mean, even -- they`re buying ads that are airing on MSNBC that are all trying to make it sound like allowing the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices -- it`s the biggest buyer.

If it can negotiate drug prices, they go down, and making it sound like that`s the worst thing that could possibly happen in the world. Big pharma doesn`t want this bill. Big oil, big coal don`t want this bill.

And then it can`t be coincidental that these two people don`t want the bill. And so I wonder if there is some way for even a Bernie Sanders, who is literally arguing let`s help people who are poor, when Joe Manchin is from the second poorest state in the entire United States, this is a state full of poor people, and he doesn`t care, and Sinema doesn`t care.

They don`t care about that.

NICHOLS: Joy, it`s incredible, when you think about it, because there`s something else about West Virginia and Arizona that they have in common. And these are both states with a lot of old people.

REID: Yes.

NICHOLS: And what`s the front-line proposal in this Build Back Better agenda? It is to extend Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing.

REID: Correct.

NICHOLS: This is -- I mean, you can`t imagine a more popular proposal in those two states.

And yet these two senators are standing in the way of it.

REID: And you have to ask, who are they actually speaking for? Because it ain`t Arizona, old folks in Arizona, and poor folks and old folks in West Virginia, because they want what`s in the bill.

These guys are speaking for donors. I don`t know how you get around that. I don`t know if Bernie Sanders has some magic he could work on Joe Manchin behind the scenes. I don`t know. We will see.

John Nichols, thank you very much, my friend. I appreciate you.

Up next: Jury selection begins for three men on trial for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.

Arbery`s mom, Wanda Cooper-Jones, joins us next.



REID: Jury selection began today in the trial of three white Georgia men charged with murdering 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in what some people, including President Biden, have called a modern-day lynching.

Earlier last year, the 25-year-old black man was out jogging in a suburban Georgia neighborhood, when Gregory McMichael and his son Travis chased him in their truck and opened fire. According to police, the third suspect, William "Roddie" Bryan, joined the chase and filmed the deadly shooting.

All three have pleaded not guilty. The McMichaels` attorney claimed -- attorneys claim that the father and son thought Arbery was a burglar responsible for several recent break-ins in the area and that Travis McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense.

William Bryan claims he was just a witness. The three defendants have also been indicted on federal hate crimes charges.

Joining me now is S. Lee Merritt, the attorney for the Arbery family, and Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud Arbery`s mom.

And I want to start with you first, Ms. Cooper, and with our deepest condolences on the loss of your son.

Tell us a little bit about him, because we do want to bring life to him. What was he like? And tell us what we should know about him.

WANDA COOPER-JONES, MOTHER OF AHMAUD ARBERY: Ahmaud was the baby of three. He an older sister, older brother.

I actually had Ahmaud back in 1994 on Mother`s Day. Ahmaud was a happy child. He was a jokester. He liked to make everyone happy and laugh.

REID: Mr. Merritt, on the other hand, you have these men who killed him who really were treated with kid gloves, immediately exonerated by all of the people who were supposed to be in charge of getting justice for this young man.

What do you make of the way they were initially treated, the fact that they didn`t even try to render aid? He was still alive for quite some time. They didn`t even try to save him. What do you make of these men and this indictment?

S. LEE MERRITT, ATTORNEY FOR ARBERY FAMILY: It shows not only the -- sort of the depravity of heart for the men who are involved, but also the systemic failures within the justice system itself.

These men were allowed to continue for almost two months with actual no arrests. And we`re grateful that the attorney general for the state of Georgia decided to bring criminal charges against Jackie Johnson, the original prosecutor in the case, for her failure to uphold her duties of office in instructing that these men weren`t immediately arrested and treated like the criminals they are.

REID: Right.

I mean, Ms. Cooper, do you get the sense that law enforcement colluded after the death of your son to exonerate these men and to ensure that no justice would come, that they could walk away from it scot-free?

COOPER-JONES: Unfortunately, yes, because their actions show just exactly that.

We went 74 days with no arrests. They actually -- this case was almost closed. So, yes, they were actually treated like they were law enforcement officers, and nothing done about it.


REID: Yes.

Do you think it, Ms. Cooper, that if they had not had law enforcement ties, that things would have gone differently? Or do you think that this was simply because your son was a young black man and that it wouldn`t have mattered if they didn`t have law enforcement connections?

COOPER-JONES: I think that the McMichaels being affiliated with the police department, that played a factor in it.

However, I think that race played a major factor in this altogether.

REID: Mr. Merritt, let`s talk about this jury selection.

A thousand jury summonses have gone out for 12 years, to find 12 jurors. Roughly one in every 85 people living in Glynn County have been called. We`re talking about one to two weeks for potential jury selection.

Now that you have seen that, in the George Floyd case, it is possible to convict someone, but then you have seen on the very other end of it the George Zimmerman case, where you had somebody who was also sort of acting like a police officer who was not an active police officer, and you saw the results in that case -- and so those two cases sort of stand at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to justice.

How hopeful are you that they will be able to find a jury of 12 people who will see this case the way that you just heard Ms. Cooper describe it.

MERRITT: The actions of the people of Glynn County in the past year give me hope.

In the past year, they voted out Jackie Johnson. In the past year, they have galvanized and they remain outside of the courtroom now demanding justice Ahmaud. So, that gives me hope.

There is some legitimate concern about this community that Ms. Cooper just described. And there`s reasons for reticence or reservation. But I choose to be hopeful, just because this community has proven over and over again that they are willing to go out of their way to ensure that Ahmaud gets justice.

REID: Do you have faith -- and I will ask both of you this question.

I asked you first, Mr. Merritt. Do you have confidence in the prosecutor that they are going to -- that they are aggressively going to prosecute this case and that they want to win?

MERRITT: Mr. Flynn Broady, the newly elected prosecutor for Cobb County, since the day he got involved in this case, he sat down with Wanda Cooper. He assured her of her -- of his commitment to justice in this case, and he has held her hand and this family`s hand every step of the way.

They have my full confidence that they are going to do everything within their power to ensure that the evidence is presented in a clear and thorough way. I don`t think a reasonable jury can hear this evidence and conclude anything other than guilty on all charges.

REID: This case has been described as a lynching, as a modern-day lynching, Ms. Cooper.

Do you believe that and do you have confidence in the prosecutor in that case?

COOPER-JONES: I do think that the murder of Ahmaud was like a modern-day lynching.

Ahmaud was simply jogging down the street. And he was chased. After he ran, they -- however, they didn`t allow him to escape. They killed him. And I do have confidence in the legal team that we will get justice for Ahmaud eventually.

REID: Well, we will be watching this case. And we certainly are praying for you and your family. And we will certainly keep an eye on it. And we do hope that you do get justice for your family and for your son.

Thank you so much for spending some time with us, Wanda Cooper-Jones. Thank you, S. Lee Merritt. Thank you both.

MERRITT: Thank you, Joy. Have a good one.

REID: Thank you so much.

OK, before the break, we have the latest. Here`s the latest on the 17 Christiane missionaries who were kidnapped over the weekend in Haiti. The 16 Americans and one Canadian, including five children, were visiting an orphanage in Port-au-Prince when they were abducted on Saturday.

Haitian police say they`re being held by a gang, the 400 Mawozo, who have a history of mass kidnappings. The State Department has a team on the ground and FBI agents are also assisting Haitian police. It comes amid an increasingly dire situation in Haiti, with the streets of Port-au-Prince nearly empty today, as transportation workers went on strike to protest the deteriorating security situation.

We will keep up with this story as well.

And up next: A new documentary examines the roots of racial division in America and how the story of the Civil War is often mistold, especially in the American South.

Stay with us.



REID: As states like Texas and Tennessee take aim at teaching about race and history, trying to whitewash and both-sides historical atrocities, a new documentary premiering on Sunday on MSNBC takes an in-depth look at a subject at the core of those attacks on academic freedom.

The film "Civil War" explores how geography, race and notions of heritage and tradition color the stories Americans tell or, in many cases, refuse to tell about slavery, the Civil War and its aftermath. Filmed from the final year of President Obama`s presidency to the present. The "Civil War" examines how those narratives shape our beliefs to this day.

Here`s a preview.


DR. KELLIE CARTER JACKSON, WELLESLEY COLLEGE: I think that the spirit of slavery that I talked about before that makes color a mark of degradation is still very much with us. And I think, for too long, the onus of racism has been put on people of color to solve, when this is not really like a people of color issue.

This is like a white supremacist issue, where white people need to talk to other white people about how they can overcome these issues. White allies today have to take a very radical stance.


REID: I`m joined now by Erika Dilday, producer, and Rachel Boynton, Emmy- nominated filmmaker and director of "Civil War."

Thank you both for being here.

And, Rachel, I`m going to go to you because you did that thing that you just heard this young lady, this author talking about, is you did go and talk to white people and black people about the Civil War.

What struck me about this film was the denial, was the -- and we`re talking about young people. We`re talking about kids who were in deep denial, as deep a denial about racism and slavery as the grandparents in the film. Did that surprise you?



I mean, I think this is a story that`s been passed down from generation to generation. I didn`t expect to find the narratives that I found when I was traveling in the South, because I`m not from the South. But once you get to know it, it`s not surprising.

These are really family stories that have been passed down.

REID: What`s interesting, Erika -- and you have roots in the South. I`m looking here that you were born in Boston. You grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, so you have lived there.

I wonder, as you listen to it -- it became uncomfortable for me after a while to listen to these -- particularly the young white people saying, I don`t think we should talk about this. This is not important to talk about. We should just let this go. If we just stopped talking about it, things will be better.

That sounds like what you -- I`m sort of used to hearing that from older people. I guess I don`t know why I`m surprised. I don`t know why I was surprised. Were you?

ERIKA DILDAY, PRODUCER, "CIVIL WAR": I wasn`t surprised at all. It`s how I grew up.

But what`s interesting is the denial, the not wanting to talk about it wasn`t just young white people. When I was growing up, young black people, I mean, I remember feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable and ashamed about discussions about slavery and feeling like it was something, maybe if we just didn`t talk about it, it would go away. But we all know it won`t.

REID: Well, Rachel, it is an interesting point that was made, and I think that the film really does drive it home, is that slavery, enslavement, has always been sort of shuffled off as a black people`s story, this is the story of black Americans, and that it doesn`t have a whole lot to do with white people, when enslavement is actually something white people did, like, right?

And it feels like that`s part of the reason we can`t get anywhere when it comes to educating young people and educating grown people about slavery, because there is a resistance, a deep resistance on the white side of the ledger to talking about white people when it comes to it.

BOYNTON: Well, I think it`s a mistake to classify African-American history as African-American history, when it`s American history.

REID: Yes.

BOYNTON: It`s our story. This is all our story.

And the fact that it hasn`t been incorporated in our history classes as our story is remarkable. I think that is changing. I`m glad that that`s changing. It`s certainly hadn`t changed when I went to school.

REID: Yes.

BOYNTON: And so the process of making this film for me was really enlightening, but the huge, gaping holes in my own education.

REID: Well, yes.

And I think, Erika, you were absolutely right that I think growing up as a young black person, you learn that you sort of confine all of the history of people who look like us in slavery, and then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere MLK pops up and says the one thing that everybody remembers, and then that`s it, and there really isn`t a whole lot in between, right?

And so I was actually fascinated by the young black students, who seemed eager to have more information, because it does seem that we`re still not doing a good -- no better now than we were doing when I was in junior high and high school.

DILDAY: I believe that`s true.

And, quite honestly, what`s interesting to me is that you cannot think of the names or the histories of any enslaved people who weren`t Frederick Douglass. Recently, a friend of mine told me about a mural in Hartford, Connecticut, where, along with the names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, they included the names of enslaved people.

And it`s something that we don`t think about. We sort of have this idea of nameless, faceless people. But these were people who are our ancestors, who were dealing with the brutality and racism that we look at today hundreds of years ago. And that has continued to be part of the society, that -- continue to be part of the American fabric.

REID: One of the things that was the most arresting is this story of Clinton, I believe it was Mississippi, Clinton, Mississippi, this hidden story that we didn`t know about a huge massacre that everyone should know about.

And I think it`s even more hidden than the Tulsa massacre, because at least I heard of that. It strikes me that, if that symbol, Rachel, if it hadn`t been hidden back behind those buildings, where you couldn`t see it, it would probably have been desecrated like every week, the same way the Emmett Till symbols are.

It does seem like there is not -- there`s a hostility -- that`s the word for it -- to learning this history, because it is taken as an indictment of present white people.

BOYNTON: Well, that story in particular was also radically mistold. It was blamed on the black Republicans for years. The violence was actually blamed on the black people, rather than the white people who showed up with guns.

So, not only was it hidden. It was mistold. And there`s a lot of history that`s been deliberately mistold.

REID: What do you, Erika, want people to take away from this film? What do you want people to walk away with?

DILDAY: I think Isabel Wilkerson said it best, that we ignore our history at our own peril, until we start to sit down and talk to each other and confront our history, and not just talk to people who sound like you and look like you, but to people who don`t, that we aren`t going to be able to move forward as a society.

REID: Yes, a hundred.

And one group of people can`t be the only ones who want to talk about this stuff. Everybody has to talk about it. This is American history. It`s not black people`s history.

DILDAY: It`s all our problems.

REID: It`s all of our problem.

Erika Dilday, Rachel Boynton, congratulations. It`s a great film.

You can watch the documentary "Civil War" Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern on MSNBC.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.