IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The ReidOut, 10/20/21

Guests: David Blight, Adam Jentleson, Jacqueline Charles


One-sixth committee votes to refer Bannon contempt charge to DOJ. House to vote on Bannon contempt referral Thursday. House Republican expected to vote no on Bannon contempt referral. House GOP whip calls 1/6 select committee investigating a witch hunt.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That does it for me. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid starts now. Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Hey, how are you doing? Ari just got everybody like scroll it on YouTube right now, the end of the show, feeling like I`m going to watch the rest of that, yes.

MELBER: I think they`ll do it after you.

REID: Okay. Just wait an hour, maybe wait until like midnight or something and then do it. I appreciate it and have a good night.

All right, everybody, good evening. We have a lot to get to in the next hour, including Republicans making it very, very clear where they stand on voting rights and democracy.

But we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the cover-up that is fully underway by House Republicans. Last night, the committee investigating the January 6th insurrection sent a strong message that they will aggressively pursue their mission by enforcing their subpoenas that. The nine members, Democrat and Republican, of that committee unanimously agreed to refer Steve Bannon for charges of criminal contempt, sending the measure to the full House for a vote tomorrow.

It`s a dramatic unnecessary step given Bannon`s involvement in the evens of January 6th and the value of his testimony to investigators. But it`s also a crucial test of Congress` ability to hold witnesses accountable. And yet, lo and behold, House Republicans are now defending Trump`s alt right ally and shirking their responsibility as members of Congress.

Their cover-up began today with the directive from House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana. He`s recommending that the entire Republican caucus vote no on the contempt referral for Bannon, according to CNN. Never mind that the case against Bannon is open and shut, Scalise would rather prove himself as a useful tool for Donald Trump than pursue the truth. In fact, he can`t even articulate a rationale for letting Bannon defy Congress. So, instead, he`s mimicking Trump`s tired rhetoric.


REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): I think you`re seeing most members get tired of the witch hunts and the games.


REID: What it really comes down to is this, Republicans are trying to save themselves and vote away their own complicity in the events of the January 6th. That is why they want to let Bannon off the hook. As Chairman Bennie Thompson accurately we pointed out, no American, no American could get away with what Bannon has done.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): For folks watching at home this evening, I want you to think about something, what would happen to you if you did what Mr. Bannon is doing? If you were a material witness in a criminal prosecution of some of the lawsuits, what would happen if you refuse to show up? Do you think you would be able to go about your business? We all know the answer to that.

There isn`t a different set of rules for Mr. Bannon. He knows this. He knows that there are consequences for outright defiance and he`s chosen the path toward criminal contempt by taking this position.


REID: On top of that, the committee`s vice chair, Republican Liz Cheney, rightly pointed out that Trump and Bannon wouldn`t be making such flimsy claims of executive privilege if they didn`t have something damning to hide.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): This information should not be subject to any privilege at all.

Mr. Bannon`s and Mr. Trump`s privilege arguments do however appear to reveal one thing. They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th. And this committee will get to the bottom of that.


REID: Now, we also saw an attempt by Cheney today to cut through the big lie that`s clouded the judgment of her GOP colleagues. And in doing so, she thoroughly emasculated Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy for his limp response to the January 6th attack.


CHENEY: Let me address my Republican colleagues specifically. I`ve heard from a number of my colleagues in the last several days who say they, quote, just don`t want this target on their back. They`re just trying to keep their heads down. They don`t want to anger Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, who has been especially active in attempting to block the investigation of events of January 6th despite the fact that he clearly called for such a commission the week after the attack.

In many nations, democracy has failed because those with authority would not act to protect it because they sat in silence. History will judge those of us in positions of public trust. Remember that as you cast your votes.


REID: Now, unfortunately, as Greg Sargent writes in The Washington Post, Cheney`s warnings have fallen on deaf ears, quote, Cheney is urging Republicans to accept a full reckoning into January 6th as a precondition for future democratic stability.


The Republicans have already made it overwhelmingly obvious that they do not see the need for any serious national reckoning of any kind, let alone a national response. Whether this reflects a genuine belief that we can maintain democratic stability without such an accounting or whether it reflects deeper revanchism against the very ideals of multiracial, pluralistic democracy remains to be seen.

So, the problem is the GOP cannot be shamed into acting in the best interest of the country because they no longer believe in the vaunted American way. As Historian Sean Wilentz points out, they have attempted nothing less than a kind of virtual secession from the American political system.

And joining me now is Neal Katyal, former Acting U.S. Solicitor General, Charlie Sykes Editor-at-Large at The Bulwark and MSNBC Columnist, and David Blight, Sterling Professor of American History at Yale University.

Professor Blight, I have to go to you. I asked if you were available today. I`m so glad that you were. I brought in my copy of Race and Reunion, and if you were here in person, I would ask you to sign it. You are one of the greatest historians of the post civil war era. We just saw you. People got a chance to see you. We did a little clip of the documentary about the civil war that you`re a part of.

So, I want to ask you because I have been in a deep worm hole about the post-civil war period in the last couple days. Because it occurs to me that part of the reason that we`re here and that we ended up with 100 years of hell rather than a proper reconstruction is that there were people in the government at the time who didn`t want to fully reckon with what the secessionists had done and they would rather reconcile with them and excuse them than deal with them. And I wonder if you agree with that.

DAVID BLIGHT, PROFESSOR OF AMERICAN HISTORY, YALE UNIVERSITY: Well, I surely do. That`s the argument of Race and Reunion. So I thank you very for making it. I`m thrilled to see that book in your hands.

But, yes, I mean look, the late 19th century is very instructive for this moment and then maybe less about what happened to the memory of the civil war and reconstruction as it is remembering some other actual coups, for example, what happened in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1898.

And just a quick note on that, five days after this infamous coup, this riot conducted by a concerted conspiracy for white supremacy by the officials of the state of North Carolina, in which almost 60 people were killed, black voters just murdered in the streets, a huge rally was held in Raleigh, North Carolina, huge torch-like rally celebrating this white supremacist takeover.

And they met under -- the platform met under a banner that read, victory, white supremacy and good government, by good government, getting corrupt black people out of government. Just think of that banner, victory, white supremacy and good government. That`s almost the same banners that people had flying there on January 6th in some ways.

And I guess one other thought is your lead in is right on in the sense that we have to realize that just talking persuasion to Republicans is not going to work. Hypocrisy is not just a moral failure. It`s a strategy. And then to keep telling them they`re hypocrites is getting us nowhere. Hypocrisy is strategy on this case and it has to be treated as a strategy for power by other power.

Bringing our hands about -- I mean, Liz Cheney, as wonderful as she`s on the right side of this, but trying to appeal to her colleagues is going to get nobody anywhere.

REID: I think that is absolutely clear. Charlie Sykes, it`s beyond clear to me that she is arguing to the ether because I thought that Sean`s Wilentz, his point was very clear, and Greg Sargent, I thought they were spot on in saying we have to stop thinking about this as Republicans being in denial about how bad January 6th was, and start thinking of it as them thinking how good it was for them, and that they have divorced themselves from the idea of a multiracial democracy. Because a multiracial democracy means when people who look like me vote for somebody, that person can be allowed to win. But what they`re saying is, no, that person can`t be allowed to win. Only the people that they decide should be allowed to win can. And that is the opposite of believing in multiracial democracy.

That`s the same problem we had after the civil war. And I feel like we still have it and the Republican Party, they don`t believe, they do not believe that non-white voters have the right to choose the president of the United States or any other officer.


I don`t see any other way around it.

CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, we`re way past denial. By the way, could I just say that it was only a few months ago that I read for the first time about this coup in American history, what happened in Wilmington, North Carolina. I mean, I felt bad. And I`ve talked about it that I didn`t know about the Tulsa massacre. I don`t think most Americans understand what the professor was just talking about in terms of an actual coup that everybody saw in real-time. This has happened. This is part of our history. And we`ve been in denial about it.

One other point, I mean, yes, in terms of the hypocrisy, I do think as I was watching your setup, that to realize that what the Republican Party is doing is it`s setting itself up for the restoration to power. And it is very possible, as we sit here today, that Donald Trump will turn to the presidency and that this Republican Party we`re talking about will take control of Congress. And I think that needs to be the prime directive in our politics. Understand what they are doing. They are cynical enough to believe that, in fact, it will work and it may work. These people can get back into power and I`m hoping that people of goodwill on both parties understand that.

With everything else that`s going on in American politics, this has to be the number one issue to understand that this attack on the rule of law, the willingness of members of Congress to give up their own powers. I mean, it`s one thing for them to be part of a cover-up but they`re also surrendering their own congressional power.

And to your other point, you know, what`s happening is that they`re not only covering up what happened on January 6th but there is a strong element being on the right that is now glamorizing what happened, completely revisionist history, saying it was not only a riot and insurrection, it was a patriotic uprising with its own set of martyrs. I don`t know what percentage of Republicans believe that but they are obviously willing to tolerate it and accept it and that ought to be quite frightening.

REID: They did the same thing after the civil war, by the way.

I want to read you (INAUDIBLE) Neal. This is Tommy Tuberville. He`s the newly-elected senator from Alabama who unfortunately replaced an actual hero who had prosecuted the 16th Street bombers. The Alabama decided they would rather have this guy. He took a call during the insurrection from Donald Trump, Mike Lee got the call and hands it to Tuberville. He hands it to him. Tuberville is told by the then-president of the United States while they`re hiding Mike Pence so he won`t be hanged and lynched. I know you`ve got problems, he calls -- the president saying before the call ended. Protect yourself.

Donald Trump knew that the purpose of the attack on the Capitol was to prevent the certification of Joe Biden. Tommy Tubberville knows that. Mike Lee knows that. Mike Pence knows that. They`re all complicit. The guy who wants to be speaker of the House, Neal, knows that and also talked to Trump that day. To what extent are they also protecting themselves from liability because they all at least were in -- knew about it if they weren`t in on it?

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, all of them look, you know, suspicious and all of them at least, Joy, have information that`s got to be given to the January 6th committee. And so, like, right now, we`re hearing these fancy terms, contempt and executive privilege and the like.

The bottom line is to what this is all about is people in Congress just want to find out what happened on January 6th. They just want the facts. They want witnesses to come and testify. And so they`ve asked Steve Bannon, you know, Trump`s friend and former adviser, to testify and Bannon is saying no, I`m afraid to go and tell the truth under oath. And so Congress has now done what -- or this committee in Congress has done what any reasonable committee would do, which is to say, you got to show up, otherwise we`re going to hold you and we`re going to vote for criminal contempt.

And you know have are you Republicans who are willing to twist themselves into knots to say no to that and permanently undermine our checks and balances, our ability to get at the truth, our ability to check a president who, you know, is wayward in the like by saying oh, don`t vote for this contempt thing. I mean -- and they are so delusional, these Republicans in Congress, that they think this is somehow a defensive liberty, which is just, you know, to use the legal term, poppycock.

REID: It`s a defense of their own power. David Blight, I`m going to give you the last word on this, because Donald Trump was always an Andrew Johnson-like figure to me and had the same contempt for the system that supposedly undergirds American democracy.


But in this case, the Andrew Johnsons are all over Congress. They are trying to wipe away the evidence of the insurrection in order to restore themselves. This is the redemption era. If you liken the theme, Obama era, to something like reconstruction, this is redemption. And I wonder how -- whether it`s too late to stop it, in your view.

BLIGHT: I hope not. Redemption on steroids. I love the analogy of Johnson and Trump. There is a lot there. But, you know, and there`s a lot of examples of these kinds of events, from reconstruction right through the end of the 19th century.

The perpetrators of something like January 6th kind of have two choices of what to do now or supporters of it. They can walk away from it, go quiet, say it was nothing really to worry about, it was bad weather blew into Washington, not a big deal, or they can embrace it. As Charlie said, they can build their martyrs, build their memorials, build their monuments, make it the identifying story of a new lost cause. Both of those are happening.

Whichever of those actually wins out, particularly in this legal process and then political process, will tell us how this event is going to be remembered. But they kind of have that choice, just ignore it, it was no bilge deal, or embrace it, own it, build your future around it. They`re kind of doing both. It`s as though they don`t quite know which path to take.

REID: Yes. Well, we shall see, and I think our --

BLIGHT: Both of them are lethal.

REID: Absolutely, lethal to our democracy. This has been a treat. I wish we could do this for like a full hour, because I am nerding out getting a chance to talk to all of you.

Neal Katyal, Charlie Sykes, Professor David Blight I feel like I took a meeting one of your classes and at least got a B+. So I`m going to just thank you for being here.

BLIGHT: Come on up and take one.

REID: I`m going to do that. Don`t temp me with a good time. You can see Professor Blight in the documentary, Civil War, which premieres Sunday night at 10:00 P.M. Eastern on MSNBC. You really, really need to watch it.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, the Republicans moved toward a MAGA authoritarianism, speaking of democracy being under threat, and it`s becoming more apparent as they once again block a voting rights bill because, of course, they are.

Also, how far is Joe Manchin willing to go to block Biden`s agenda? He responded to a reporting today that he`s considering leaving the Democratic Party entirely.

And tonight`s absolute worst, the oath to protect and serve does not come with a caveat that allows you to spread COVID.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: Senate Republicans made it clear that they are the anti-democracy party, opposing voting rights legislation for the third time this year.

All 50 of them blocked a procedural vote on the Freedom to Vote Act, depriving it of the 60 votes needed to move forward to debate. They wouldn`t even consider the bill backed by conservative Democrat Joe Manchin.

Now, on the plus side, it would have set minimum standards for voting, including making Election Day a holiday, automatic and same-day registration, two weeks of early voting and universal access to mail-in ballots. It also bans partisan gerrymandering. But on the downside, it nationalized the idea of voter I.D., establishing uniform standards for it nationwide.

It was supposed to be Joe Manchin`s chance to deliver on the bipartisanship that he`s promised that he could make happen under regular order. So much for that.

They instead follow lead ghoul Mitch McConnell`s hope that no Republicans would vote for it. See, the Republican Party, they tried violent insurrection on January 6. So now they`re trying legal insurrection, striking death blows to democracy in statehouses across the country.

Nineteen states have enacted laws making it harder to vote this year, states like Texas. The Republican legislature there approved new congressional district maps this week overwhelmingly favoring Republicans and white voters and decreasing minority representation.

Since the Roberts Supreme Court cut the guts out of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, Texas could draw their maps without federal approval, putting in place Jim Crow version 2.0 after today`s failed vote, which would have banned the type of extreme racial gerrymandering that Texas just enacted.

Vice President Kamala Harris addressed Republicans who are essentially endorsing these anti-small-D-democratic laws.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re not going to give up. We`re not deterred, but there`s still a lot of work to do. And I think it`s really a sad day.


REID: With me now, Adam Jentleson, executive director of battle born collective and former deputy chief of staff to Senate majority leader Harry Reid, and Juanita Tolliver, Democratic strategist and an MSNBC political analyst.

Thank you both for being here.

And, Adam, "Rolling Stone" has a piece out now that talks about this just being the plan, right, that the idea was to let this vote go up and fail to sort of back the -- this is an Andy Kroll piece -- to kind of back to the Manchin-Sinema wing into a corner and get them to move on the filibuster.

Do you think that was the plan? And do you think that plan -- that part two of it is going to happen?


And I think that it`s probably a necessary step in the process. I think that, no matter what your plan is, giving Manchin some time to try to chase down 10 Republican votes for a voting rights bill was always probably going to be necessary if you were eventually going to be able to persuade him to vote for some kind of reform to the filibuster to let democracy reform pass.

But I think that now the big question is, will the White House get engaged? Will Vice -- will President Biden get personally engaged in starting to make that persuasion? I think that they have given him the time. He has shown that he cannot get 10 Republicans to vote in favor of voting rights and protecting our democracy.

And so now the really hard work begins, which is persuading him and Senator Sinema to support at least a limited exception to the filibuster that will allow this vote to pass.


So, it`s a fine plan up until now. And now the question is, is the plan for President Biden to get personally engaged? And I hope that the answer is yes.

REID: I mean, we saw it today, Juanita, that Biden can be very effective. I mean, he was very effective today. He talked about the economy and jobs. It`s sort of his sweet spot.

But he so far has not really been very effective at getting Joe Manchin to give up -- to give in on anything. Joe Manchin, I think, thinks he`s the president. So it`s hard to imagine that there`s anything that Joe Biden could say that will make Joe Manchin care about voting rights or Kyrsten Sinema care about voting rights.

They couldn`t even get supposedly the moderate conservative Democrats (sic) like Mitt Romney. They don`t care either. So, what do you think? Do you think that -- there`s been some argument, the Ari Berman argument, that the Democrats and that the White House isn`t doing enough.

Do you think -- what do you think the White House could do differently?

JUANITA TOLLIVER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I feel like, if this had a chance, especially if negotiating some type of carve-out in the filibuster, Biden would have had to use whatever leverage available to him in this moment. That includes infrastructure negotiations, right?

So if he had a situation where he could say, you`re not getting your bipartisan infrastructure deal without voting rights and a carve-out on filibuster, then I could have seen that scenario playing out.

But, frankly, when they`re struggling to even negotiate the reconciliation package still, I`m not seeing the leverage that the White House could come in and lay on them. And that`s why what we`re seeing is these reports that, OK, Biden and Harris are going to participate in a public pressure campaign to try to push this forward or advocate for at least changing the filibuster to a talking filibuster, but I`m not seeing a carve-out.

I`m not seeing a talking filibuster come from this White House. And what I think is going to happen in return is the voting rights advocates that this White House is letting down, that this Democratic Senate is letting down, they`re going to be looking at them come midterms, when they`re like, hey, go turn out your voters, and it`s like, you didn`t do anything to protect our rights, so what energy are you expecting me to put forward now?

REID: That`s what I`m hearing too. I`m hearing a lot of that too, Adam.

But people are saying, don`t tell me I have to organize my way out of the Voting Rights Act being gone. You know what I mean? You can`t out-organize that.

And so I guess the question is, should they be taking Joe Manchin`s precious hard infrastructure bill and saying, sure, it`s a nice infrastructure bill, would be a shame if something happened to it, because if we don`t get voting rights, we flush your bill?

Is that what Harry Reid would do?


JENTLESON: I don`t know what Senator Reid would do in this situation.

But, look, I think that I`m in favor of them using every available leverage tactic. I think it`s hard to tell with some things whether they would apply pressure or backfire.

But I think, if withholding things on reconciliation was effective, I think -- I would hope that they would use it. I do think there`s one big thing, though, that the White House could do which they haven`t done yet, which is to come out in favor of filibuster reform.

And I`m not going to sit here and say that I know for certain that this would be the thing that swings Manchin and Sinema`s votes, but it would help. And I think that it would be a major event, a major political event, for President Biden, who has more credibility when it comes to the Senate as an institution than virtually anybody in the political scene today, to come out in favor of political -- of filibuster reform.

That would be a major event that would change the conversation.

REID: Yes.

JENTLESON: And to the point about enthusiasm, I think, at the very least, knowing that he did that and that he took this important step I think would go a long way to trying to reenergize Democratic activists and voters, knowing that at least he`s trying everything he possibly can.

REID: Yes, he did do the I have your back thing, so he probably wants to maybe do something like that.

I want to read a little something about -- that also Ari Berman wrote. And it kind of goes back to the previous segment where we talked about how this is a very parallel era to the post-Civil War era. And Ari wrote this.

He wrote: "There are eerie parallels now to the end of Reconstruction, when insurrectionist Democrats, then the party of white supremacy, used every means necessary to retake control the state and federal governments, while accommodationist Republicans, who were then the party of civil rights, appealed to bipartisan unity and supported the filibuster."

Juanita, while everyone seems to be trying to make nice and be bipartisan, this is what Texas has done. They have taken white voters, who are 40 percent of the population, and given them 60 percent of the districts. They have taken the rising majority in Texas, which is Hispanic, and they have cut their representation, which should be 39 percent, to 18.

And they have taken African Americans, who apparently no longer exists as a matter of power in the state of Texas, because they have given them none. That is the end of Reconstruction. And that is the same kind of redemption- level activity that we`re seeing.

And so I wonder if what`s missing here is Democrats to feel as exercised about that, as they do about infrastructure.

TOLLIVER: Look, it is a clear and present danger that`s going to have long-term impacts, Joy. You talked about it in your opening.

You said, OK, these redistricting -- these cuts that they have made to the districts, they don`t have to deal with preclearance, and they`re acting like it. They don`t have to deal with the Freedom to Vote Act, and they know that because Republicans in Congress have their back and will obstruct it.


And they`re working very hard to ensure that Republicans will have control and win those two new districts. And they, again, eliminated even a majority-minority district that was already there. So now they`re going from eight to seven.

And what`s frustrating is that real Democrats are seeing this and just watching it happen and not using this to rile up and motivate change, right? Like, I don`t know how to explain it. I`m losing my mind over here, Joy, because it`s so blatant and clear.

And not only is it about rigging elections that Republicans know they can`t win. It`s also about resources that go into these districts, because, for the next 10 years, this is going to impact federal funding schools, hospitals, you name it, and all at the expense of the Black and Latino voters, who prompted the growth in the state.

REID: And it`s the irony of the parties having switched sides. And now it`s these Southern Republicans who are the new Dixiecrats and are not even pretending they`re not. History is full of irony.

Adam Jentleson and Juanita Tolliver staying with us, because, up next, we will put a big bright spotlight on one Southerner in particular, Joe Manchin, and his role in blocking the Biden agenda, including a report today that he is considering quitting the Democratic Party if he doesn`t get his way.

Now, he`s calling that report B.S. Well, does that stand for basic strategy in the negotiation, or what?

We`re going to talk to the reporter behind that story when we come back.



REID: As Democrats continue to negotiate amongst themselves over President Biden`s Build Back Better bill, David Corn reports in "Mother Jones" that Senator Joe Manchin is telling associates he`s considering leaving the Democratic Party if he doesn`t get his way on the bill, and has even devised the what that exit plan would look like.

David Corn joins me now. And Adam Jentleson and Juanita Tolliver are back with me.

All right, David, explain what this alleged exit plan would look like.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he described this as being two steps.

The first step is that he would send a letter to Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate leader, and remove himself or resign from a Democratic leadership post. People may not know these things, but he`s vice chairman of the Democratic Senate Committee on Policy and Communications. I`m sure Adam knows all about this stuff. But he`s one of the top 10 Democratic senators. So he would remove himself from that.

He then would wait a week to see if that had any impact, presumably help him win whatever he`s trying to get out of the negotiations. And then, after that, he would change his registration from Democrat to independent, and he would call himself an American independent.

That`s how he would describe himself. It`s not a new party, and it`s not going over to the Republicans. And then the question is, which hasn`t been addressed, whether he would caucus with the Democrats or the Republicans, presumably still caucus with the Democrats, the way that Angus King and Bernie -- of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont do.

But still, as an independent, he would have more influence, more sway. And I think this would be somewhat of a symbolic blast. And, of course, it will lead a lot of political reporters to talk about disarray among Democrats.

REID: Right.

CORN: So it`s quite clear that this is what he was thinking of doing.

But, today, he called the report B.S.

REID: He did.

CORN: I can tell you the source thing is impeccable. And he knows it. He knows what we know.


REID: Let me...

CORN: OK. I think...


CORN: ... option off the table by saying that.

REID: Let me play what he said. Let me play him saying it himself. Here`s Senator Manchin.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I can`t control rumors.

And it`s bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED), bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED), spelled with a B-U-L-L, capital B.


REID: He even spelled it. He started to spell it, David. So he`s refuting it.

So, are you -- is your contention and your reporting that the reason that he`s now refuting the report is that, by divulging it, you have taken that option -- that option is now off the table?

CORN: Well, I have to figure that that`s what he`s thinking, right?


CORN: Because he has now said it`s B-U-L-L. It`s actually T-R-U-E.

But by saying it`s bull you know what -- it`s very hard not to curse on TV sometimes.

REID: It is.

CORN: He himself has taken it off the table.

REID: Don`t get me started.

CORN: Because, if he`s going to do it now, then he would actually show that, when he`s saying it`s bull, that he was lying then. So, he has been outed.

REID: Yes.

So, Adam, I`m going to go for you, because you are -- you`re my Senate guru. And, by the way, it is really hard not to curse on TV, given the news cycle. It`s hard for me too.


REID: And, Adam, without cursing, could this be a negotiating strategy to try to get his way by essentially trying to threaten the Democratic Party that he would take their majority away if they don`t give him every single thing he wants?

And, basically, what he wants is basically everything that Ronald Reagan wanted in 1980.

JENTLESON: Yes, it absolutely could be a tactic.

I think that we have seen similar things in the past in -- when Senator Reid was in the Senate, he was number two, not number one, at the time, Senator Jim Jeffords, who was a Republican representing Vermont, switched parties because he didn`t get his way. He opposed the Bush tax cuts.

And when they passed, he switched parties to become a Democrat, handing Democrats the majority.

REID: Yes.

JENTLESON: The Senate was evenly divided at the time.

So this is something that you don`t have to go very far back in history to find to find precedent for.

REID: Yes.

JENTLESON: But maybe David`s reporting has taken it off the table. That would be a good thing.

REID: Joe Lieberman tried it too.

I mean, I want to go and look at who`s up for reelection, because I think one of the things that`s interesting is, the reason he`s so powerful is that he keeps saying, well, if you want your liberal stuff, go elect more liberals.

Here is who`s up. You have got Marco Rubio, who`s got a strong challenger in Val Demings. You have got Rand Paul, who`s got Cory (sic) Booker. You could take him out in Kentucky. You have got Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, Chuck Grassley, Mike Lee, and there are a bunch of open seats, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Missouri, Alabama.

I wonder, as our Democratic strategist on the table, Juanita Tolliver, should Democrats be taking Manchin up on the offer and saying, OK, man, you want to be independent, we`re about to drown you in real Democrats?


Should Democrats be stopped thinking about appeasing Manchin and start thinking about really going after some of these seats and winning?

TOLLIVER: Joy, I assure you, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has already been seriously considering more seats to take, because, if anything, Manchin has just pissed everybody off in the party by holding up the Biden agenda to this point.

Like, let`s think about it. He`s obstructed the filibuster. He`s lollygagged and dragged his feet on everything on this infrastructure plan. And so everybody else`s like, how can we cushion our majority in a substantial way in order to take away and neutralize his power?

Because even though David says he thinks Manchin isn`t going to follow through on this, I would not put it out of the realm of possibility that he comes back and say, OK, you forced my hand by forcing me to accept the clean energy program or something, right? Like, he is not done yet.

And, honestly, thinking also electorally about him running as an independent in West Virginia? What?

REID: Yes, good luck.

TOLLIVER: You have no infrastructure backing you?

REID: Good luck.

TOLLIVER: And if try to get the Republicans, they only care about Trump. So good luck, as you said, Joy.

REID: Jim Justice is going to have that seat. He`s a billionaire. He`s even richer than you, Manchin.


REID: David Corn, I`m going to come back to you, and I`m going to kind of give you the last word on this, because, in your reporting, did you -- were you able to determine which side he would want to fall on?

Because it doesn`t seem to me that it would make any sense for him to pull a move like this and then caucus with the Democrats anyway. Is your reporting that this was a move in order to punish Democrats for not being Reagan conservative enough by essentially handing the Senate over to Mitch McConnell?

CORN: My understanding is that I think it`s twofold.

I think, one part, it was just sort of strategy of, he threatens to leave and makes things more uncertain, more unbalanced, even if it continues to caucus with the Democrats, makes them more worried. And it was his way of sending a serious signal to Biden and other -- would be, if he did it -- to Biden and to congressional Democrats that he was ready to walk, and so they better yield.

But the other thing, I think, is psychological. And you see this in some of his public statements. He seems like a lonely guy who believes that there`s no room in the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party only wants entitlements, and he`s out there talking about a more partnership, conservative type of government.

REID: Yes.

CORN: And I think he sort of feels at odds. And that`s one reason he is considering doing this.

I think there`s a big difference, though, between pulling out of the Democratic Party and running into Mitch McConnell`s embrace. He still considers himself somewhat of a Democrat. And we will see if he gets further...


REID: I think what he`s trying to say to Joe Biden is, look at me, look at me. I`m the captain now. He thinks he`s the president.


REID: He`s not the president.

We`re going to see where this goes.

David Corn, Adam Jentleson, Juanita Tolliver.

Look at me. I`m the captain now.


REID: We`re just minutes away, by the way, from tonight`s "Absolute Worst."

Thank you all.

But, up next: Haitians take to the streets to protest the deteriorating security situation that led to the kidnapping of 17 American and Canadian missionaries. Between that, the recent political upheaval and a devastating earthquake, what is next for Haiti?

We have got the reporter to talk to you on the subject of Haiti right after this quick break.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do fear for my life at times here, but more now than before, because I have never seen it escalate to this level.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s terror. It`s pure terror to live here. But it is our country. And it`s the country we have. And it is -- we want a new deal, so that we can make it better.


REID: That is a small sample of what life is like in Haiti right now.

Across that country, people are being terrorized by armed gangs who rule with impunity, conducting kidnappings, extortion and random killings.

Over the weekend, 17 Christian missionaries, including five children and one Haitian national, were taken hostage by a notorious gang just east of the capital of Port-au-Prince. The gang is reportedly demanding a million dollars ransom per hostage. The FBI is currently on the ground assisting in their rescue.

According to a human rights organization that tracks abductions, kidnappings in Haiti has shot up by 300 percent between July and August. Gangs have grown increasingly more powerful amid a vacuum created by the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise, the deadly August earthquake, a crumbling economy, and a migration crisis triggered by the massive 2010 earthquake.

Joining now is Jacqueline Charles, Caribbean correspondent for "The Miami Herald."

It`s been way too long, and it`s really great to talk with you.

Tell me just -- explain to me the origins of this. Is what we`re seeing in Haiti the back draft of what started in 2010 with the earthquake? Is it the assassination? What has triggered this level of violence?

JACQUELINE CHARLES, CARIBBEAN CORRESPONDENT, "THE MIAMI HERALD": Well it`s interesting, because, since 2010, things have just deteriorated, right?

We started to see just a few years ago, you had one gang decided -- gang leader -- he`s a former cop -- decided to federate. And by bringing these gangs together, we have started to see a proliferation of gangs.

One human rights organization last year said that there were about 150 gangs throughout the country. I have talked to others today who think that we`re at 200. Could be more. So the country has just been deteriorating, where gang violence, they attack people.

Since June, they have caused 90,000 individuals at least, to be forcefully displaced from their homes at the southern entrance of Port-au-Prince. And they`re even impacting the response to the August 14 earthquake. The United Nations this week said that they cannot get a group because of the intergang violence at the southern entrance of the capital.

REID: Does -- at this point, does Haiti have a functioning government?

CHARLES: Haiti has a government. And this government is under a lot of pressure, not just from the outside, but internally, because the government is working toward elections following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise.


But you have groups of civil society that want a two-year transition. The question, though, that is being asked is whether or not the country in the current state, one, can they go to elections, but, two, can it also sustain without an elected government for two years under these conditions?

REID: Let me play the former Ambassador Daniel Foote on whether or not we should be deporting anyone to Haiti at this point in time.

DANIEL FOOTE, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY TO HAITI: Deportation back to Haiti is not the answer right now. I am not saying that intending migrants who are in illegal status shouldn`t be deported.

But Haiti is too dangerous. Our own diplomats cannot leave our compound in Port-au-Prince without armed guard. Deportation in the short term is not going to make Haiti more stable. In fact, it`s going to make it worse.


REID: Is there a sense that there`s something the international community, which, let`s just be honest, has contributed to the status of Haiti -- it`s never really had an opportunity to lift itself up and become a functioning republic from the very beginning, between the reparations that it had to pay to France, the debt and corruption.

It`s really not had a chance. Is there something at this point that Haitian leaders and community leaders think the international community can do? Because deporting people there does not seem to be an answer?

CHARLES: Well, what they`re asking the international community do is to allow Haitians to leave.

Instead of forcing something like elections or certain candidates down the Haitian`s population throat, let the Haitians decide. And, today, what you`re seeing is that Haitians are trying to come together in order to get some sort of agreement. But they remain divided.

And that`s an issue. A house divided cannot stand. I think, first and foremost, Haitians are going to have to find a way to reach some sort of a compromise, and then figure out what the plan going forward is going to be, because you`re right, 2010 earthquake, billions of dollars in aid that was promised, it did not come. It did not arrive at the Haitian government.

The people that you`re seeing arriving at the U.S. Southern border are people who left Haiti after 2010 because this promise of build back better, it was never materialized. And, today, they`re being sent back to a country that they no longer recognize.

REID: Yes.

And we have seen protests in Miami, where Haitian Americans are demanding that there be some sort of an answer. There has to be an answer for this country that has been through so much.

I thank you so much, Jacquie Charles. It`s always great to see you. And thank you for your excellent reporting. You truly are the best reporter on this subject. So thank you for being here tonight.

CHARLES: Thank you, Joy. Thanks for having me.

REID: Thank you. Of course.

All right, well, before we go to break, we wanted to give you an update on the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead, mostly teenagers.

Today, Nikolas Cruz guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. He could face the death penalty, with a minimum sentence of life in prison without parole.

In a statement, March For Our Lives formed by Parkland students said: "A single guilty plea does not bring closure as long as it is still possible for another person anywhere in this country to be murdered by a gun at school, in a place of worship or in their very own home."


Up next: They signed on to serve and protect, right? So why are so many police and their unions so vehemently opposed to protecting U.S. citizens from COVID?

Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is straight ahead. Stay with us.



REID: New York City announced today that vaccines would be mandated for all city workers with no testing option. That includes police officers, who are currently 69 percent vaccinated.

Their union is already vowing to fight the mandate anyway. It`s a pattern that we have seen across the country, with police unions and officers coming out against mandates. Seattle`s police union called the mandate a public safety crisis, as if vaccines aren`t for the public safety.

The city`s police and firefighters who were fired for noncompliance made a very dramatic exit, marching to city hall to turn in their boots. And a trooper went as far as to attack Governor Jay Inslee over the radio, while claiming that he was being asked to leave because I`m dirty.

I mean, no one said not being vaccinated was dirty, but OK then.

Then there`s the Los Angeles County sheriff, who said he won`t enforce the city`s mandate, though there`s still a two-month grace period for employees to get their shots. But there`s no place like Chicago, where the union president directly urged officers to ignore the city`s mandate, making the prediction that it would lead to a 50 percent cut in cops on the street.

He also threatened that officers could lock in a pension and walk away today. That kind of rhetoric led to a judge`s order that he stop making public comments about the city`s vaccine policy.

Of course, Republicans are taking advantage of the situation in Chicago, with Indiana Senator Mike Braun trying to recruit Chicago officers to Indiana, saying, "You deserve respect." Bring the COVID here.

And none other than Jim Jordan mentioned the Chicago police in a tweet, along with Kyrie Irving and parents at school board meeting, saying, freedom is contagious.

You know what is actually contagious? The coronavirus. COVID-19 has caused 64 percent of all police officer deaths so far this year, more than quadruple the number who died from gun violence.

But go off, assistant coach. Make your political point.

Police officers are supposed to protect and serve, but they`re actually putting themselves ahead of the citizens they could infect. We constantly hear that police brutality cases wouldn`t even have happened if only everyone just complied and followed all their commands.

But it`s clear that some officers don`t hold themselves to that same standard. They`re literally refusing to comply with the law. Just take what happened in -- at a New York subway stop yesterday, where a rider says he was harassed and then thrown out of the station for asking officers to wear masks, which, by the way, is the law.

The NYPD says the event is under internal review. I guess all the cops former Governor Cuomo sent into the subway system are really making an impact.

So, for putting Americans in danger, officers and unions who are fighting against vaccine mandates, which essentially means fighting to make the public sick, are tonight`s "Absolute Worst."

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.