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Transcript: The ReidOut, 10/21/21

Guests: Bennie Thompson; Tom Nichols, Karine Jean-Pierre, Stacey Abrams, Pramila Jayapal, Pamela Garrison


House votes to refer Bannon to DOJ on contempt charges. Nine Republican vote with Democrats to refer Bannon to DOJ. GOP Republican Cheney blasts colleagues who have forgotten January 6th. Representative Raskin say when you are subpoenaed by Congress you show up, period.



JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing, Ari? Thank you very much. Have a wonderful evening. I`m a little bit jealous. You know Dave (ph) girl super fan. I`m holding the jealousy, holding it in, not trying to express it, but I love it. Thank you, great interview.

MELBER: I love it. Have a good one.

REID: Have a good evening. Okay.

Good evening, everyone. We`ve got a lot to get to. My guests tonight include the chairman of the January 6 committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson, voting rights advocates Stacey Abrams, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and the chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

But we begin THE REIDOUT with the ball that is now in the DOJ`s court. Just hours ago, the House of Representatives passed a resolution to refer former Trump Adviser Steve Bannon for criminal contempt charges. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now free to transmit that referral to the Department of Justice, which will decide whether to prosecute Bannon for his flagrant defiance of a congressional subpoena.

Now, by and large, House Republicans voted to let Bannon off the hook for spitting in the face of the very Congress that they serve. But a small but hardy nine Republicans wound up siding with the Democratic majority that seven other Republicans, besides Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, who broke party ranks to hold Bannon to account under the law. With that bipartisan support, the measure easily passed with 229 ayes and 202 Republican nos. It came after Cheney criticized the selective memories of her Republican colleagues.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): There are people in this chamber right now who were evacuated with me and with the rest of us on that day during that attack, people who now seem to have forgotten the danger of the moment, the assault on the Constitution, the assault on our Congress.


REID: Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin used his time on the floor to make clear that nobody gets a free pass after defying a lawful subpoena, stressing that the need for this investigation should be self-evident to every member of Congress.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): We are investigating the attack on Congress by domestic enemies of our Constitution because we are sworn to do so by our oath of office.

In America, when you are subpoenaed to testify in court or in Congress, you show up, period.

If you act deliberately with sneering, cavalier contempt for the American people and their representatives, we will hold you in contempt. We will get to the truth of the violent assault on America.


REID: It`s also been widely reported that as the vote was taking place, QAnon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene crossed the aisle physically, not metaphorically, and tried to pick a fight with both Raskin and Cheney. According to CNN, Liz Cheney responded to the non-legislating bully from Georgia by saying she was a joke and referred to a previous Margie comment about Jewish space lasers for a source familiar with the interaction.

All of this Republican intransigence and wackiness from the lady in Georgia came after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made the bogus claim this morning that the Bannon subpoena, get this, is invalid, among other things.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): No, they`re issuing an invalid subpoena. Issuing an invalid subpoena weakens our power, not if somebody votes against it. He has the right to go to the court to see if he has executive privilege or not. I don`t know if he does or not, but neither does the committee.

What the committee should do, one, allow the minority, like any time in the history, appoint on there so they don`t utilize it to target people.


REID: Today`s vote leaves the Justice Department with a big decision to make. And for his part, Attorney General Merrick Garland is not showing his hand. In hearing today, he gave no indication of whether the Justice Department would bring charges against Bannon, saying they will make a decision consistent with the principles of prosecution.

Joining me now is Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the chairman of the select committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Mr. Chairman, thank you for coming back. I really appreciate you being here again.

And I want to get your reaction to the claim by the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, that the subpoenas issued by your bipartisan committee are invalid.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Well, he is dead wrong. But that`s not consistent with the law. Clearly, we have, as you know, the authority as a duly constituted committee to issue subpoenas. We`re doing that. We`re doing our work. And he knows it, but, you know, he has to do the talking points. We are clear. We`re on firm ground, and we look forward to the attorney general doing his job.

REID: There were two members of the Republican side who tried to make an argument about the legitimacy of this claim based on Steve Bannon no longer working in the White House, which is the reason why executive privilege doesn`t apply to him.


But, any way, we`ll go ahead and let them talk. Here they are.


REP. JIM BANKS (R-IN): Steve Bannon was a private citizen before, after and during January 6. So, why is the select committee interested in Steve Bannon? It`s simple. He is a Democratic Party boogieman.

REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R-IL): This is what the majority has decided to spend its time on, holding a private citizen who wasn`t even part of the administration at the time in contempt for refusing to comply with House Democrats` subpoenas?


REID: Do you think that they`ve made the argument that the White House has made that he has nothing to do with the White House so he doesn`t get executive privilege? But what do you make of their argument?

THOMPSON: Well, Joy, what we tell them on the floor is that`s exactly what we`re saying. The argument that he is making is absolutely the argument that we`re making. He is a private citizen. He is not entitled to executive privilege, and therefore we`re going forward with the issuance of the subpoena.

This contempt process is absolutely in order, and you just can`t flaunt your nose at Congress and say, I`m not going to do it. You and I know, as well as the majority of right-thinking people you honor subpoenas. You show up and if you decide to plead the fifth, if you decide to answer certain questions, you do it. But under no circumstances do you not show up. And so Mr. Bannon didn`t show up, and therefore we went forward with the contempt.

REID: Congressman Jim Jordan -- there have been complaints from the Republican side that he and other people who seem to have ties or connections or at least some conversations around the attempt at overturning the election were not allowed to actually be on the committee. He had some trouble today answering questions about whether he talked to Donald Trump before, during or after the insurrection. Do you expect to call him and potentially other members of Congress?

THOMPSON: We absolutely expect to get to any and all the evidence, Joy. I don`t want to get out ahead of what we`re going to do, but I assure you that we will do our work. If Mr. Jordan, in his infinite wisdom, has already acknowledged that he`s called, then we want to know exactly what he said, whether he called before, during or after is material to our investigation.

So I can say that we will do our work, but, again, we won`t be bullied by Mr. Jordan or anybody else. We will systematically go forward and do the work of the committee. We will find the facts and circumstances behind January 6th and call it just like the facts present themselves.

REID: You had Donald Trump come out today and say that the actual insurrection was the election. So, he is out there talking. Can you foresee having the same kind of back and forth that you`re having with Steve Bannon? Do you foresee also happen to potentially hold somebody like Donald Trump in contempt? And what happens if the other person who refuses to testify is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy? Could he wind up facing a vote on contempt?

THOMPSON: Well, I think everybody is open without getting ahead of it. We have to find the facts. Our committee is committed to finding the facts. If Mr. McCarthy`s information is germane to our investigation, absolutely, we will talk to him. I hope he honors the subpoena.

You know, we tried to work with him in the beginning. We have -- the record is replete with him making suggestions as to how the composition of other committees should go, how we should have joint subpoena power. We agreed to all of that, and at the last minute, he pulled the plug and wouldn`t allow Republicans to support it.

So, I take anything the minority leader say with a grain of salt. You know, in most instances, your word is your bond. And in this instance, he`s not been truthful.

REID: Congressman Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the January 6 committee, thank you very much. I really appreciate your time this evening. Have a good evening.

THOMPSON: Thank you for having me.

REID: Thank you. And joining us now is Tom Nichols, Contributing Writer for The Atlantic, and Author of Our Own Worst Enemy, The Assault Within Our Modern Democracy.

And, Tom, should we take any, I don`t know, hope from the fact that eight Republicans decided to vote with the 200-plus Democrats to hold Bannon in contempt?

TOM NICHOLS, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Imagine how low Republican Party has sunk that we`re even thinking about congratulating a party for having nine members being linked to the fact to do the right thing.


I mean, you know, it`s really not something to take a lot a heart from. It`s the folks you pretty much would have expected to stand on the right side of this.

What`s really happening here is that Trump and Bannon and the rest of them, they`re not just thumbing their nose at the rule of law, they`re trying to make the point that Congress is not really a branch of government. The Congress -- Article I power of the Constitution doesn`t really exist unless you happen to like it.

And it`s amazing that Kevin McCarthy is actually being complicit in that as a senior member of Congress. And Chairman Thompson I think was right on the money here when he basically said McCarthy is wrong and knows he`s wrong. I mean, this is all a very ritual stylized kabuki dance where McCarthy isn`t really talking to the American people or to other members of Congress. He is talking to a very narrow slice of the Republican base of whom he is deeply afraid of crossing, including Donald Trump. And it`s a tragedy, because that continues the attack on our constitutional system of government.

REID: You know what`s, I guess, sort of bizarre about it -- well, all of it is bizarre -- but you`re having members of Congress essentially argue that their own branch of government has no power, right, that their own branch of government does not have the right to issue and enforce a subpoena, and then you have someone like Kevin McCarthy, who then wants to take control of a branch of that very government that he is attempting to strip of its power. That, to me, makes no sense. They want to take control of a denuded version of the Congress.

NICHOLS: But it makes perfect sense if you think, like the cheap and corroded authoritarians that people like McCarthy have become, which is that Congress doesn`t matter and is unimportant unless we control it, unless the party I like controls it. Then it should become all powerful and be able to do anything at once. If someone else controls it, you may ignore it at your leisure.

And that is -- that`s the way authoritarians think. Institutions only matter if you happen -- if they happen to be in your grip. They don`t exist in their own -- for their own sake as part of the rule of law and a constitutional culture. They only matter if you`re in charge of them. And McCarthy is practically saying it out loud.

REID: Yes. They`re not even practically -- you had an epic tweet for today that I recommended that everybody read through it. But one part of it, you said Michael Steele said Mitch McConnell wouldn`t think twice about jettisoning the filibuster if it meant getting the GOP`s agenda. He was right. So, if it comes down to that one Senate rule, or democracy itself, dump the rule and pass the bill, Mitch would.

And what you`re getting at in that thread is what you`re talking about. It`s situational belief in the powers of the Congress. The minute that Mitch McConnell got back the gavel, he`d kill a filibuster in ten seconds. And I wonder why you think Democrats do not understand what you and I understand, which is that the Republican Party is not a party that cares about democracy, it`s just an authoritarian party that is here to lead the one man who leads the cult and that they -- I don`t -- do you understand why they don`t see that?

NICHOLS: Well, Joy, as a former and now apostate Republican, you`re asking me to explain Democrats, which is a little tough for me. But, you know, one of the things that I think Democrats keep falling for is that Republican apologists retreat to what looks like for them the high ground. They say, well, you know, Mitch didn`t kill the filibuster in 2017 when Trump wanted it him to. Well, that`s because Mitch McConnell isn`t stupid. McConnell understood that there was a real chance that Republicans were going lose power because of Donald Trump, and McConnell very intelligently understood that he wanted to keep that weapon in his quiver. He wanted to keep that option at hand.

But, you know, I think with the Republicans becoming completely the party of situational ethics, I think they have wrong-footed the Democrats here who have kind of internalized the Republican critique of them that you have to be civil. You have to take us seriously. You can`t accuse of us bad faith, even when we`re obviously acting in bad faith. I think the answer here is not to sink to Mitch McConnell`s level but to be sober and judicious and clear-eyed and as cold-blooded as Mitch McConnell is being, to say, you know, McConnell would overthrow the filibuster if it were in his interest. We need to think that way ourselves.

REID: Because we`re fighting for something bigger than just party. We`re fighting for democracy and you need to fight harder than this. I appreciate and I totally agree with you. Tom Nichols, thank you very much.


We are just getting started by the way on THE REIDOUT tonight. We have several big guests tonight to come, Stacey Abrams, White House Principal Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and the chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. We`ll talk the status of build back better, voting rights, the filibuster and holding Trump accountable.

Plus, what West Virginians think about their senator, Joe Manchin. He is fighting hard against the things that the people of his state desperately want and need.

And stay tuned for Chris Hayes immediately after THE REIDOUT. He will talk to D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone about the January 6 investigation.


MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: Donald Trump ultimately, I don`t believe, was responsible for bringing us to where we`re at, the divisiveness that exists in this country, he just exploited it for his own personal gain. But if we`re not going to have that conversation, we`re not going engage in it honestly. You know, we`re doomed to repeat the activities of January 6th.


REID: THE REIDOUT continues after this.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These jobs will create -- that we`re going to create for people who are too often left out and left behind. The vast majority of the jobs in my infrastructure bill don`t require a four-year degree; 98 percent don`t require a four-year degree.

Guess what, though? This is the ultimate blue-collar -- blue-collar, middle-class renewal, real serious work, and it needs to get done.

And, folks, it isn`t enough just to invest in our physical infrastructure. We also have to invest in our people.


REID: President Biden has been traveling the country, going to his hometown of Scranton yesterday to sell his Big Back Better (sic) plan. He`s emphasized how it will help working-class Americans.

But the bill may end up being a shadow of what was originally proposed, with Democrats scaling back their agenda, in the hope that they can appease Senators Manchin and Sinema.

I`m joined now by Karine Jean-Pierre, White House principal deputy press secretary.

I love saying that. It makes me very happy.


REID: It is so good to see you, my friend.


REID: In person.

JEAN-PIERRE: In person. It`s been a long time.

REID: Oh, my gosh. It`s been so long on set.

JEAN-PIERRE: It`s been so long.

REID: Yes.

JEAN-PIERRE: So, good to be doing this. Thank you.

REID: So this is a wonderful reunion.

But before we just do girl talk, which I could easily do for the rest of the hour, and then I will be in so much trouble...


JEAN-PIERRE: We have done it. We have done it.

REID: Let`s talk -- let`s talk shop.


REID: So the elephant in the room.


REID: It feels like Democrats have been real nice to Manchin and Sinema today. There`s been a lot of like positive talk about them. They`re in they`re trying to work it out. They`re in they`re trying to build -- that either feels to me like we`re getting toward the end of the negotiation, or you all are worried that they are going completely off the rails, they`re going to tank everything.

I mean, there`s even been reporting that maybe Manchin is considering quitting the party if he doesn`t get everything he wants.


REID: What is the status of negotiating with those two people?

JEAN-PIERRE: Can I say with the last question that you asked about Manchin quitting the party, he actually answered that. He used a word that I can`t use.


JEAN-PIERRE: But he actually answered that pretty plainly and clearly.

REID: Yes.

JEAN-PIERRE: And I just want to say, just to your point, look, Manchin -- Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema have been partners with us on this. And it`s -- we have mutual respect for them, the president. They have mutual respect for us.

And it`s been a good-faith partnership in both ways. And we have to understand this. Like, this is the thing that the president understands, and because he has the experience. He`s been -- he was a senator for 36 years. He was the vice president for eight years. There`s a process here.

What we`re seeing is democracy in action, which we haven`t seen in a couple of years, as you can imagine.

REID: Yes.

JEAN-PIERRE: And so -- but I also want to say that the thing that Democrats all understand is that we need to get done the bipartisan infrastructure deal and the Build Back Better agenda.

Those are two economic policies that`s going to grow the middle class, as the president just said when he was in Scranton, which he puts into this plan the values that he grew up in, when you talk about dealing the middle class in, not leaving anything behind. This is the president`s plan.

And so all Democrats, regardless if you`re moderate or a progressive or wherever you fall in that big tent that we have, believe that we need to move this forward. And so it`s going to happen. We`re going to have progress. We`re seeing progress. We`re moving forward with progress.

And just the other day, the president spent hours meeting with progressives, meeting with moderates, meeting with Senator Sinema, Senator Manchin. And basically all of them said that...


JEAN-PIERRE: We`re going to move forward.

REID: So, here`s the but.


REID: Here`s the but.

JEAN-PIERRE: I`m here for it. Let`s go.

REID: Number one, Democrats, as you said, negotiate in public, which Republicans don`t even have an agenda, so they don`t do anything in public. But that`s -- seeing the sausage being made, it`s ugly, it`s unpleasant.


REID: It`s not fun.


REID: But when it comes to the Build Back Better plan, and when it comes to voting rights, I mean, things that are fundamental, not just to the base of the Democratic Party, but to moving the country forward -- I mean, our bridges are falling apart, our roads are falling apart.


REID: People can`t afford to go to work because they can`t get health care. I mean, they can`t find child care. They can`t afford it. Like, all of it`s important.

And then voting rights is critical.


REID: I mean, the Voting Rights Act is all but dead.

Is there a risk now that whatever comes out of all these negotiations is so thin and so threadbare that the people don`t feel it and don`t feel that it was a success, and actually just say, you know what, this was -- this was a failure no matter what ultimately is got?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, I will say this.

When the negotiations are done -- and I can`t -- we`re not going to speak specifically -- or I can`t speak specifically to them -- the Build Back Better agenda and the bipartisan infrastructure deal will be historic. It will make investments into the -- into our country that we haven`t seen in decades and decades?

REID: Will they be permanent, though? Because they`re talking about making -- getting rid of free college, making things temporary.

JEAN-PIERRE: We`re talking through them.

All of -- just think about it. All these things that the president put in his plan are the things that he believes in and is going to continue to fight for.


When you think about the child tax credit, that was in the American Rescue Plan. It has cut poverty, child poverty, by 50 percent, 38 percent in the black community.

REID: But if it`s not permanent, if it`s not permanent...

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, we will see, Joy.

I mean, he`s -- like I said, he is fighting for these pieces of legislation and having the conversation. And Democrats agree we need to move forward. They will be historical. The American Rescue Plan was historical in that, right? It really helped people who have been left behind, especially during this year-and-a-half of the pandemic.

And we already know what it was even before that for working people. So what we`re trying to do now is make it a little -- invest a little bit more, right, after -- like, invest within the American Rescue Plan and continue some of the progress that we saw there.

We got to remember -- the president said this himself -- when he walked into the White House, we had multiple crises. We had -- we had climate change, we had COVID pandemic, we had the economy, and we had racial justice and racial inequality that we truly, truly had to deal with in a real way.

And so this is what he`s been trying to move forward with, right? He`s trying to deal with all of these crises at once, because that`s what a president does.


REID: No, absolutely.

And I feel for him because it is a very big agenda.

JEAN-PIERRE: It`s a big agenda.

REID: Voting rights feels like it is...

JEAN-PIERRE: The American people need it.

REID: Right. And voting rights feels like it`s so critical.


REID: Because if Democrats cannot stop this Jim Crow 2.0 that`s really rolling out in such an aggressive way in places like Texas, in places like Georgia, all across red America, where a lot of Democratic voters actually live and want to be able to vote and may not be able to vote and have their votes counted, then nothing else matters.

JEAN-PIERRE: And -- yes.

REID: How hard is the White House, how hard is President Biden going to start to personally fight for that?

Joe Manchin tried the bipartisan thing. That didn`t work. So how hard -- is it time for the president to say, you know what, end the filibuster, this needs to get done?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, the president has been working on that -- on those issues from the beginning as well.

And what I mean by that is, he`s gone state -- to multiple states. He went to Tulsa to commemorate the 100 years of what happened in Black Wall Street, the white mob that attacked an African-American community there. And he talked about it and commemorated that moment that no other president had done before him.

He went to Philadelphia in a historic setting and talked about voting rights. He`s met with people on the Hill privately. He`s met with civil rights leaders. He`s going to continue to have those conversations.

REID: But filibuster, yes or no?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, but I also -- I also want to say, he`s also used the power of the White House, of the office to do what he can in the administration.

REID: Right.

JEAN-PIERRE: On the anniversary -- on the anniversary of Selma, Bloody Sunday, instead of giving words he actually took action, and we pushed forward on the federal level in a whole-of-government approach how to give, how to have access, better access through the federal government to voting access.

And that actually is going to help as well. He doubled the size of civil -- in the Civil Rights Division of voting rights lawyers. That`s a big deal, because, as you know, we`re fighting these bills across the -- across the state.

REID: Yes.

JEAN-PIERRE: Or we`re going to be, as they`re such bad bills.

And it`s all based on the big lie. This is all based on the big lie that Trump put out...

REID: Yes.

JEAN-PIERRE: ... the last person who was in the Oval Office put out.

And so we`re going to -- he`s going to continue fighting for it. He`s going to fight. If you know the president, he`s going to continue to fight for this. This is not the end.

REID: Lightning round, because they`re yelling at me that I am out of time.

Is there going to be a voting rights bill that passes into law that the president can sign?

JEAN-PIERRE: We`re going to fight for it. We are going to fight for it.

And I believe the John Lewis bill is going to come to the floor.

REID: Yes.

JEAN-PIERRE: I know Leader Schumer is working on that.


JEAN-PIERRE: And so we`re just going to continue to having the conversation.

The president is not going to stop fighting. Neither will the vice president.

REID: Yes. It`s not an easy job. It`s not an easy job.

And I will tell you, your job isn`t easy either. But you do it so well, my friend.

JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.

REID: Karine Jean-Pierre, thank you so much. I appreciate seeing you in person.

JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you for having me.

REID: Oh, look at this. Progress.

Democrats are wrestling, meanwhile, with a do-or-die scenario on voting rights, as we just discussed. Failure to lock in some federal protections now risks putting the party on a downward spiral to oblivion, and our democracy with it.

America`s leading voting rights defenders, Stacey Abrams, joins me next. Big show tonight.

We will be back right after this.




BIDEN: Jim Crow in the 21st century is now a sinister combination of voter suppression and elective -- and election subversion.

And they`re targeting not just voters of color, as I said, but every voter who doesn`t vote the way they want.


REID: President Biden today at the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington described in crystal-clear terms the unrelenting assault on voting rights across this country.

One day after Republican senators unanimously blocked new voting rights legislation that would combat restrictive voting laws.

Biden called Republican senators` obstruction un-American. And Vice President Kamala Harris stressed why new legislation is urgently needed.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As we all know, in 2013, the Voting Rights Act that Dr. King and so many others fought for was gutted by the Supreme Court decision and Shelby v. Holder.

And, to be sure, we should not have to keep fighting so hard to secure our fundamental rights. But fight, we must, and fight, we will.


REID: Joining me now is Stacey Abrams, founder of Fair Fight Action and author of "Our Time Is Now," which is now available in paperback.

And, Stacey, it`s always great to see you.

I`m going to put up the map of the 19 states that have passed restrictive voting laws. In order to do something about that, Joe Manchin said that he could get bipartisan support for something called the Freedom to Vote Act that has lots of good stuff in it. It also has voter I.D. in it. People are not too thrilled about that.

That didn`t even get one single Republican vote.

So, where we are is that, if there is no change to the filibuster, the Voting Rights Act is basically DOA. If nothing passes, and we are exactly where we are right now next November, what happens to our democracy and the access to the ballot?

STACEY ABRAMS, FOUNDER, FAIR FIGHT: If we do not take action, if we do not have minimum standards passed across this country, we know that these 19 states are the tip of the spear.

There are 48 states that have considered legislation. And there are 400 bills floating out there. We will watch the slow-motion demise of our democracy accelerate dramatically, starting as early as January, as legislatures come back into session and see how successful their colleagues have been at undermining our democracy.


We will watch a complete collapse. And here`s why this isn`t a partisan issue. If you look at that map, some of those places don`t have a large phalanx of voters of color or young voters. But when you attack democracy, you hurt everyone.

And whether you are the intended target or not, when you break democracy, you break it for all voters. And that is why the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act are so essential.

REID: And one of the things that Republicans are doing the most aggressively is, of course, gerrymandering, which seems to me they`re doing it sort of blatantly on the basis of race.

I mean, in Texas, they literally said, if you`re Hispanic, we`re just going to actually reduce your representation directly. If you are African- American, we`re going to reduce the number of majority -- of districts with a majority of your folks in it to zero.

That`s about as blatant some racial gerrymandering as I have ever seen. I wonder if Democrats are alarmed enough in Washington about all of these developments, because what -- it`s sort of like election apartheid.

They`re essentially saying, we`re just going to make it so that white voters are so advantaged that we can`t lose.

ABRAMS: What we have seen happen is that all 50 senators are on board with moving forward this legislation forward.

The Freedom to Vote Act actually expands access to the right to vote, defends our democracy, and indeed addresses these extreme gerrymanders that have been essentially green-lighted by the Supreme Court, first in the 2020 decision that permitted racial -- that permitted partisan gerrymandering and then the Brnovich decision recently.

But what we know is that to push back against these, to unrig the maps, to guarantee access to the right to vote, we must have action. I appreciate and applaud the fact that Senator Manchin wanted to bring everyone together, because this is not a partisan issue. This is a people issue. This is a patriotism issue.

But the fact that they have now said resoundingly they will not stand for Americans means that we have to, as Democrats, speak up for everyone. And we know that the Freedom to Vote Act is overwhelmingly supported, that the provisions that expand access to democracy, guarantee the freedom to vote, unrig the maps, all of those provisions are provisions that are uniformly and resoundingly supported by Democrats, Republicans and independents.

And so it is a good thing. If Democrats have to go it alone, do it alone, because you`re doing it for America. And that is the message we`re trying to push. That is the message we know we need to send.

REID: So doing it alone would involve getting all the Democrats, including -- and some of the independents, who`ve been pretty clear that they aren`t willing to do anything to touch the filibuster.

Angus King was just on Rachel Maddow`s show the other night saying he`s nervous about getting rid of the filibuster. He`s reluctant to do it. Obviously, Manchin and Sinema basically have wrapped their arms around the filibuster as if it`s a Christmas present. They will never let it go.

So I wonder, if Democrats are not willing to even change the filibuster, I feel like we`re at an impasse. What do we do? They`re not willing to do anything.

ABRAMS: We have seen carve-outs of the filibuster before.

And I argued in an op-ed a few months ago that a carve-out for democracy is a -- is one that should be not only tenable, but acceptable. And that carve-out can happen.

We don`t have -- I agree, actually, that we need to get rid of the entire filibuster. But I understand the protective nature, saying that it`s one of the few mechanisms we have, because we have such narrow majorities or minorities, when power switches in the Senate.

But we need to restore the Senate. And that means restoring it to a functioning body, not a body that is held hostage by a minority of a minority. And that is what we have to work on. When 10 people can decide the future of our nation, we have to restore the functionality of the Senate.

And I do believe that the appetite is there among Democrats to have the conversation about how we restore the Senate. That doesn`t mean getting rid of the filibuster writ large. It doesn`t mean we can solve every problem. But if we do not protect the basics of our democracy, which are under attack by not only attacking our voters, but attacking our systems, we are watching the erosion of our democracy before our eyes.

And I do believe the Democrats are willing to fight to restore democracy.

REID: Have you had conversations with the Senator Chuck Schumer and with Manchin and Sinema themselves to that end? And have they indicated a willingness to take action and do a carve-out in order to restore democracy, in order to allow people have the right to -- to have the right to vote?

ABRAMS: My work is to talk to every single power broker and policy-maker in Washington to get good done.

And I`m going to continue to have conversations about what needs to be done. I`m also going to have conversations with the American people. We need to keep the pressure on. That`s why our Freedom to Vote Fall is out there.

We need folks to call 833-4 -- sorry -- 833-465-7142 -- 833-465-7142 -- and call your senators and tell them that you need us to restore the Senate, and that we need to do a carve-out for the filibuster to protect our democracy.


It`s not just about my voice. It`s about the voice of every American demanding that our nation do its job and that our leaders do their jobs.

REID: We will be watching with bated breath what happens. It is the most important thing, whether we have a democracy or not.

Stacey Abrams, thank you very much for being here and for all that you do.

OK, still a lot to get to tonight, a lot.

And up next: Attorney General Merrick Garland faces a grilling from members of his own party on whether he intends -- well, I don`t know if it`s members of his own party, but, basically, a grilling from Democrats on whether he intends to hold the twice-impeached Cheeto man accountable for his role in the January 6 insurrection.

We will be back after this.



REID: Testifying today before the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Merrick Garland pushed back on a "Wall Street Journal" report that he told other Justice Department officials that he is concerned that jailing some January 6 insurrectionists could further radicalize them.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: My recollection of this is in a completely different context.

That is, I worry that there will be radicalization in the Bureau of Prisons when people are -- and this is radicalization that has occurred with prison gangs, with white supremacist groups in prisons, and with radical Middle Eastern groups in prisons.

And I`m -- was concerned that the Bureau of Prisons have a procedure for ensuring that that radicalization doesn`t spread across prison populations.


REID: The attorney general faced questions about the department`s handling of the prosecution of January 6 insurrectionists and the recent uptick in threats of violence against school boards and election officials.

And joining me now is the person who asked him about "The Wall Street Journal" reporting, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington state.

And, Congresswoman, were you satisfied with that answer? Because it sounds a bit more nuanced, that he`s concerned either that radical groups, including white supremacist groups and radical Islamic groups, could radicalize, further radicalize these insurrectionists, or the other way around? Were you satisfied with that answer?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): No, I mean, Joy, what I said to him in response to his answer is, I`m not sure how much more radicalized you can get when you have just been put there for trying to overthrow the government.

I mean, this is -- let`s be clear about what we`re talking about here. We were talking about January 6 and the prosecutions related to January 6, and the disparity between how the Black Lives Matter activists were treated and people in those kinds of protests, Charlottesville, how black people were treated, vs. how these white insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol in the worst assault since the War of 1812 were treated.

And so that`s what I was trying to get at with my questioning. And I -- look, I think he`s got a tough job. But the point I was trying to make to him is, if your goal is to restore faith in the Department of Justice, then you have to address the fact that we are taking a long time with these -- with these charges, that there are things that people did when they were black that got treated in a certain way, and now those same things are being done with people who are white, except worse, and they`re not being treated in that way.

So I just think it`s important that he address that.

REID: Do you share what sounds like Congressman Adam Schiff`s concerns that this Department of Justice under Merrick Garland is too reluctant to take on Donald Trump and his supporters, that they are laying back on them purposefully because they are supporters of Donald Trump, and that he`d be too timid to even go after Trump himself?

JAYAPAL: Look, I don`t think that`s what -- I don`t think it`s because they`re supporters of Donald Trump.

I think what the attorney general is trying to do is say that he is unbiased, that the Department of Justice has gone through too much of a time of corruption and trying to do the bidding of the president, and now it`s a different time.

But I think what you have to recognize is, if you protect the institution, despite the fact that it was corrupted, then you`re not protecting the institution.

REID: Yes.

JAYAPAL: And that`s the thing I think we have to get across.

REID: Absolutely.

Let`s go on to the other big story that you`re involved in. You are the head of the Progressive Caucus. About a week ago, you made the comment, Politico reported, that -- asked if nothing is better than something, and you said: "No, because when it comes down to something, rather than nothing, it`s the same people who are forced to settle for nothing over and over again."

Are you concerned that where Sinema and Manchin or taking this Build Back Better bill, that it`s basically almost nothing, and that that is what Democrats are going to walk away with?

JAYAPAL: No, I don`t think that.

I think what we have managed to do, the Progressive Caucus has managed to do, is get the people back to something that is really significant. I mean, imagine, Joy, if people could wake up once we pass this bill and get universal child care, where no family pays less than 7 -- more than 7 percent of their income in child care, universal pre-K, home and community- based care, primarily jobs that are held by immigrant women and women of color, but paying finally $15 an hour, at least, plus benefits.

I mean, these are significant pieces. Investment in housing. This is a big racial equity piece to invest in housing across our country, and then, of course, a significant investment in climate change, perhaps up to half-a- trillion dollars of investment into climate change.

Now, these are pieces that are absolutely essential. Medicare expansion is another one, dental vision and hearing for seniors. What we are going to come out of this with, if we get all of these things which are the Progressive Caucus priorities is really transformative.


REID: Let me...

JAYAPAL: So, that`s what I was saying is, I didn`t want to settle for nothing...

REID: Yes.

JAYAPAL: ... for something being the infrastructure bill, and nothing on this Build Back Better Act.

That is not where we are today.

REID: The priorities that you have laid out that the Progressive Caucus has, strengthening -- as you said, strengthening the care economy, child leave, paid leave, home care, making bold investments in affordable housing, health care, lowering drug prices, delivering on climate action and a road map to citizenship, what seems like it`s getting thrown to the side, the Clean Energy Performance Program, which is pretty important in dealing with climate change.

Joe Manchin doesn`t want. Kyrsten Sinema doesn`t want Medicaid to be able to negotiate prescription drug prices. Free community college is now out.

Have the compromises -- are the compromises going to wind up being so much and so many that we wind up doing not nearly enough about climate, not nearly enough for young people, and then Democrats have something that, as good as you are saying it is, they really can`t sell it, because the base says, this is not enough?

JAYAPAL: Well, we have to see what we get to, obviously, because we haven`t agreed to anything yet.

But the Clean Energy Performance Program, we thought that was the best way to cut carbon emissions. But I will say, Joy, that there is a way for us to cut carbon emissions without doing the clean electricity performance program. We are looking right now at different options. And we`re modeling, what is the emissions reduction that you would get from those options?

And I think that there are some things, if we can get them in, that will really make a difference. And so I do feel like that is still possible.

REID: Yes.

JAYAPAL: Community college, I mean, look, I`m desolate about that. That`s my bill. I want it to be in there.

But we`re just going to have to keep trying. And Medicare negotiating drug prices, I`m still hopeful that we can get that in.


JAYAPAL: It is Kyrsten Sinema that is not supportive of that right now.

But let`s see what we can do. Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to by everyone. So, hopefully, we`re going to get this done.

REID: Well, we know that you`re going to keep fighting.

So thank you very much. And, hopefully, you will come back and keep us abreast of how things are going. It is a very important fight.

Thank you, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. Always appreciate you being here.

JAYAPAL: Thank you.

REID: OK. Thank you.

And up next: Ever wonder how the citizens of West Virginia feel about their senator standing in the way of desperately needed improvements to their health care, infrastructure and educational programs? Yes, me too.

Pam Garrison of the West Virginia Poor People`s Campaign joins us next.

Stay with us.




SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I have concerns about -- I know my work ethic.

I know the basic of where I came from. I know that -- the people that I represent. And we`re just concerned about the entitlement mentality vs. a rewarding mentality, and then taking care of those who really can`t take care of themselves.


REID: That was Democratic Senator Joe Manchin sounding a lot like J.D. Vance or Ronald Reagan in the `80s in his rather uncharitable assessment of the poor in his state.

As he continues to hold up the Build Back Better agenda, it only hurts the people of his own state. Just a reminder that Manchin comes from the second poorest state in the country with a 16 percent poverty rate.

Joining me now is Pamela Garrison, a member of the West Virginia chapter of the Poor People`s Campaign.

And I am so glad that you`re here, because what do you make of it when you hear Joe Manchin talk about an entitlement mentality in his state?

PAMELA GARRISON, WEST VIRGINIA POOR PEOPLE`S CAMPAIGN: Well, to me, it`s a slap in the face of West Virginians. It is cold-hearted, immoral.

When you tell the poorest people in the nation that -- talk about an entitlement, when we`re just asking for a decent living wage, we`re just asking for an opportunity, to me, that`s elite talk. That`s what elites say to their peasants, is how it comes over to West Virginians.

REID: When I look at the -- just the data on West Virginia, it ranks 50th an infrastructure. It ranks 48th in the economy, 47th in health care, 45th in education.

The average cost of child care is $728 a month. It`s -- that`s 17 percent of the median family income in your state. Only 11 percent of West Virginia families can actually afford infant care the way things are now.

And Joe Manchin has proposed a child tax credit change that would lock 37 million children out of getting aid. He`s -- what do you think motivates Joe Manchin?

GARRISON: In West Virginia, I`m 62. The older population, we -- our whole life, we were taught to fight and stand up for the mines and the miners. And that was like -- that`s how we lived.

But the younger generations -- we haven`t been that in 20 years or more. The younger generations has grew up watching their families struggle with low-wage, minimum-wage jobs just to get them through school. And it`s -- to me, it`s just immoral. It`s just -- I just cannot believe that he is going to cut 10,000 jobs from West Virginians.

We`re ready to move on from the coal industry. We only have about 10,000 miners. He`s going to sacrifice 98 percent of us to keep the same, telling us, well, I can`t change nothing. I have got to keep the status quo.

Well, you know, West Virginians, we`re beyond the status quo. We`re at the bottom, trying to fall -- we`re on fire trying to get his attention.

REID: Yes.

GARRISON: He says he ain`t heard from us.

You can`t turn around in Washington without seeing a West Virginian. We`re having rallies everywhere. It`s not that we`re not talking. It`s he`s not listening.

REID: Do you...

GARRISON: We want the whole bill.

REID: Do you think it`s partly because he and his family are in the coal business? Do you think that influences the way that he thinks about his state and his -- and the laws that he wants to pass?

GARRISON: Well, it`s manipulation.

We have been manipulated into thinking that -- to that, that`s the only thing that West Virginia has to offer.

REID: Yes.

GARRISON: We don`t.

The people of West Virginia and the state of West Virginia, we have a lot to offer.

REID: Yes.

GARRISON: And we want to move on.

We`re going to have a rally in Charleston at 4:00. And we want everyone to join us.

REID: Well, Pam Garrison, I -- we -- I need to bring you back. I want to talk to you more, but that -- we are out of time.

So, thank you so much, Pamela Garrison.

That is THE REIDOUT tonight.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.