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Transcript: The ReidOut, 10/25/21

Guests: Cori Bush, Kate Klonick, Daniel Boguslaw


House Democrats demand accountability for 1/6 insurrection. GOP Representative Greene describes White House planning session for January 6 objection. Far-right activist says three GOP representatives helped plan January 6 rally. Washington Post says, Trump allies urged state legislatures to overturn election.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for joining me on "THE BEAT." I turn now to my friend, Joy Reid, on THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid. Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Happy Monday, thank you so much, Ari. Have a wonderful evening.

We do begin THE REIDOUT tonight with new calls from House Democrats for the expulsion of more than a half dozen of their Republican colleagues. It comes as RollingStone is reporting that seven House Republicans, or their top staffers, were, quote, intimately involved in planning both Trump`s efforts to overturn his election loss and the January 6th events that turned violent, according to two of the people involved in planning Trump`s rally on the Ellipse on January 6th.

According to RollingStone, the two planners are speaking with the January 6th committee and claimed that the members participated in dozens of planning briefings ahead of the day`s events. The House Republicans deny any involvement and NBC News has not independently confirmed RollingStones` reporting.

What we do know is that two of those Republicans, Madison Cawthorn and Mo Brooks, did speak during the rally that preceded the attack. And when Republicans will claim that it was meant to be a peaceful rally, that didn`t stop Mo Brooks from admitting that he wore body armor to that very safe and peaceful event for his own safety.

And we also know definitively that Donald Trump has not and seemingly cannot accept that he lost the election. That`s been true from the very minute Joe Biden was declared the winner last November. And since then, Trump has shaped his cult of personality around that single grievance. It`s the only thing he seems to care about. It`s all he ever talks about. And everything, I mean, everything that has happened between November 3rd and January 6th was centered around his desperation to undo that one fact that he cannot live with, that he lost.

Trump was able to get his minions in Congress, disgraced figures like Rudy Giuliani and Bernie Kerik and Mike Flynn, plus his sycophants in governor`s mansions and state legislatures to do his bidding, to do whatever it took to undo that one thing, undo the loss, make him not a loser, magically put him back in power. And, of course, it continues to this day nearly one year since he lost the election with violent democracy imperiling results.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri and Malcolm Nance, MSNBC Counterterrorism National Security Analyst.

And I`m going to start with you, Congresswoman, because you have had run- ins with one of the people who is alleged to have been part of sort of working in some way in tandem with the White House to stop Biden from being certified as the winner of the election. This is Marjorie Taylor Greene and this was prior to January 6th. This was on December 21st. I want you to listen to what she said.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Just finished with our meetings here at the White House this afternoon. We had a great planning session for our January 6th objection. We aren`t going to let this election be stolen by Joe Biden and the Democrats. President Trump won by a landslide. Call your House reps. Call your senators from your states. We`ve got to make sure they`re on board.


REID: Make sure they`re on board. We don`t know what that means. Do you believe based on what we know from the conversations members may or may not have been having with the White House and team, do you believe people like Marjorie Taylor Greene should be expelled?

REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): Absolutely. Absolutely, she should be expelled and anyone else, any other Congress member especially in the House. You know, the sitting -- the day of the insurrection, sitting barricaded in my office with my team, we put together a bill, HRS-25, to investigate and expel those members of Congress who participated in any way to overturn the election results and then also the actual insurrection.

The fact that we have people, like Josh Hawley, the senator from my state who represents my district, to put his fist up to those folks, they weren`t protesters, those folks were insurrectionists. When we talk about people that I have to see, I have to see that congresswoman as well as other Congress members every single time I`m in these halls of Congress, I see them. They have the same authority, the same type of jurisdiction, the same vote and same power of the pen and the purse that I have and so many others that had nothing to do with this that believe in democracy, we have the same authority.

And so, no, they need to be investigated, they need to be expelled and whatever else should happen to them, I`m all for it because they put the lives of people in danger and they decided that this is something that they should do with the power of the White House.


REID: You know, and, Malcolm, what is clear here is that all of this stems from Donald Trump`s determination to stay in power regardless of how the vote went. That`s his authoritarian impulse. But he`s created sort of a cult of personality around that belief that he seems to have or the hope that he seems to have.

Here is Ali Alexander. Now, he made this video. He later deleted it. He is one of the planners of this violent insurrection, had some very violent associations. Here he is, and this before the January 6th attack talking about who he was working with.


ALI ALEXANDER, FAR-RIGHT ACTIVIST: I was the person who came up with the January 6th idea with Congressman Gosar, Congressman Mo Brooks and then Congressman Andy Biggs. We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting so that who we couldn`t lobby, we could change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body hearing our loud roar from outside.


REID: There is nothing wrong with lobbying your member of Congress but you had Paul Gosar tweeting on January 6th at Ali and tagging him, Biden should concede. I want his concession on my desk tomorrow morning. Don`t make me come over there. And he tags it, Stop the Steal 2021.

In your mind, where is the line between just pushing, even really pushing hard in a nasty way for Biden certification to be abandoned and criminality and, frankly, domestic terrorism?

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC COUNTERTERRORISM AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know, I`ve been studying extensively all of the tactical activities and how all these small groups, the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters, the Proud Boys, they were coordinating extensively throughout November and into December to bring all of their forces into the Capitol.

And what we`ve really been missing, I think the Rolling Stone article has finally given us the outlines of, is the premeditated murder of the American constitutional form of government. We have an actual command cell, a leadership organization that was reaching down organizing people from the ground up with the sole intent of carrying out what could clearly now be considered a coup d`etat. They intended to overthrow the government.

Look, there was Paul Gosar and the rest weren`t talking about -- Ali Alexander weren`t talking just influencing people. They meant influencing them, intimidating them with the threat of violence or death in order to overthrow the constitutional order.

This, now, one thing we should note is that there is a big gap between the Ali Alexanders and Donald Trump and the people who were in the command center over at the Willard Hotel. There has to be an independent counsel for this. This is way beyond the 1/6 commission. We are talking about people that literally planned to destroy American democracy with an organized effort that, as you saw, led to people threatening to kill the vice president of the United States.

REID: I mean, because, normally, Congresswoman, if you`re talking about call your congressperson, you see people like indivisible saying, call your members of Congress, you don`t normally add storm the barricades of the Congress, go in with implements that could hurt them with zip ties, to do citizens` arrest, break in to Congress and make threats.

the Washington Post does talk about this Willard Hotel war room and had everyone from Rudy Giuliani to John Eastman, who wrote that memo, sort of the how-to memo of how to overthrow the election, Steve Bannon, John Eastman, et cetera. We know the January 6th committee called the Willard Hotel meetings, the reason they want Bannon subpoenaed. They`ve also -- they want Ali Alexander`s testimony as well.

At this point, do you view what happened on January 6th as a conspiracy that involved the White House and members of Congress or one that they took advantage of? Which do you think it is?

BUSH: You know what, at this point, I can`t tell but I -- but what we saw was willingful participation. You know, I remember sitting in the gallery just before those doors were breached and listening to my colleague on the House floor talk about those are my people outside, those are the people that I represent and they deserve respects. I`m listening to that.

And the fact that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment says no person who works in rebellion to the United States should be -- should hold the office of senator, representative or president. So they should not be here because they actively willingly participated in whatever -- in whatever capacity they did.

And we also have to remember let us not forget the Boebert tweets that day of calling out where the speaker of the House was like it`s so much to this and we cannot let this go. So, we`re thankful for the commission and anybody else that`s able to come in and help do this work to uncover what really happened.


It`s way bigger than what we think.

REID: And it`s not ending, Malcolm. Because let me let you listen to Madison Cawthorn. This is in just recently talking to students and still on the same line of, quote/unquote, Stop the Steal. Take a listen.


REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): So, as you will see in Article 2 Section 3 of the Constitution, the only people who have a right to change the election law in the United States of America are state legislatures. You saw in six key states, namely Wisconsin and Arizona has the worst perpetrators, the state governors and the board of elections there who actually went around the state legislature and changed election laws on their own. That is unconstitutional.


REID: He is still going. You have Kevin McCarthy actively trying to disrupt basically the process in Congress, making what seemed like threats getting donors to walk away from people like Liz Cheney, sort of using the sort of horse`s head in the bed tactics and it seemingly, if he were to become speaker, one could presume he would simply end this investigation.

So, I wonder what you make of the fact that this whole investigation now really hinges on who controls Congress next year, whether it continues or whether it`s ended, and that some of the people involved in it are people who could be subpoenaed.

NANCE: Right. You know, November 2022 is not going to be a referendum about Joe Biden or referendum on the 1/6 insurrection. It`s going to be a referendum whether American democracy ends, whether the American experiment comes to a crashing halt. If the Republicans take power in January 2023 and they control the House of Representative, Jason Johnson has said many times on this channel, they fully intend to impeach Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as a monthly event just for fun. But more importantly, they will give and help Donald Trump come back into power.

Listen, they are operating on a strategy that I`ve written about, which I call the DARF strategy, deny that there was ever anything to the insurrection, attack anyone and anything that denies Donald Trump was not the president, then exact revenge and then spread fear.

We`re on the cusp of an insurgency. That means there may be more insurrections, many more small, mini insurrections. But that`s when you take the political -- your political disagreements from the halls of power out into the streets. The Republicans have done it once. They are now building all of the pressure within their base to believe that there is a completely illegitimate United States government in power.

And when you can convince people, especially people like Madison Cawthorn, thinking that you have to go in and resolve these issues with the second amendment. And with this bizarre belief in what they think the Constitution says, because the Constitution doesn`t say anything about what they did other than sedition, than you have the basis of where you could have broad based political violence. But they fully intend to take back power. And when they do, they will not relinquish.

We just saw it in Sudan. They`re on their Twitter feeds right now wondering why we can`t do in the United States what happened in Sudan yesterday, a coup d`etat.

REID: And I think Americans have to wake up to this idea that we are not different in substantial ways from any other country and that if we don`t actively defend democracy, we just won`t have one. That is just the reality and the party that we`re dealing with on the other side of the aisle from Congresswoman Cori Bush. Thank you very much for being here. Malcolm Nance, thank you very much both of you.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, the bombshell new reporting on Facebook and the January 6th insurrection, leaked documents reveal major failures and internal fury.

Also the of the trial over Charlottesville`s racist Unite to the Right rally is the stark reminder of what is at stake in the election for Virginia governor, now just eight days away.

And the build back better legislation keeps getting smaller and smaller. At the center of that shrinkage is Joe Manchin, and it`s not hard to figure out why.

And tonight`s absolute worst is now actually paying to bring deadly COVID into his state. Come to me, COVID.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: Thousands of leaked internal documents from Facebook shed light on the social giant`s role in the Capitol insurrection. The documents reviewed by NBC News revealed more from Facebook`s own research after the fact about its failure to tamp down Stop the Steal conspiracy pages while Facebook became aware of the first group on election night and disabled the main page for hate speech.

The calls to violence and incitement in the comments only grew in the months that followed while new conspiracy theory groups flourished and Facebook watched and basically did nothing as other conspiracy groups related to Stop the Steal experienced meteoric growth rates. Indeed, they were among the fastest growing groups on all of Facebook, according to some of the documents.

The leaked documents are part of a trove turned over to the SEC and provided to Congress by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen. They pull back the curtain on just how alarmed some Facebook employees were in the days following the January 6th Capitol siege with some blaming the platform for contributing to the violence. Comments on an internal message board included this, quote, I`m struggling to match my values to my employment here. I came here hoping to affect change and improve society but all I`ve seen is atrophy and abdication of responsibility.

For its part, Facebook says the documents don`t tell the whole story.


In a statement tonight, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, my view is what we`re seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company."

I`m joined now by NBC News correspondent Jacob Ward.

So, Jacob, give us sort of a sum total of what we are learning that`s new in these documents.

JACOB WARD, NBC NEWS TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it`s almost impossible to overstate just how many documents we`re talking about here, Joy.

I mean, not only are we seeing what you have mentioned around domestic political issues. We`re seeing things on teenage mental health. We`re seeing things on the demise of democracy in India. We`re seeing human trafficking, hate speech in the Middle East. It goes on and on and on.

If I put all of the documents into banker`s boxes, each of which carries about 2,000 pages, already, we`re looking at about 15 pages -- 15 boxes` worth, and we`re getting a new dump every weekday. We`re looking at an additional hundreds of pages every weekday until probably the middle of November.

So just the sheer breadth of this is the thing. We have only just begun to see what`s actually inside these documents.

REID: Yes.

And you spoke with Monika Bickert, who`s the Facebook V.P. of content policy. It was an exclusive interview. I want to play a little bit of it. Here it is.


MONIKA BICKERT, VICE PRESIDENT FOR CONTENT POLICY, FACEBOOK: There will always be challenges in the social media landscape. But just like you will never stop abuse in the offline world and you will never stop abuse in the online world, you can get better at detecting it and preventing it and curbing it.


REID: Do you get the sense in that interview and in talking with Facebook people that the problem is that they just are naive to the power of Facebook to amplify negativity and negative content, or that they looked away from it because there`s a profit in amplifying negative content?

WARD: I think that it is very difficult to sort of understand the philosophical position of the higher-ups in a big tech company until you have really gotten up close to them.

But once you do, you can oftentimes detect the feeling that our idea here is such a powerful one, and it will make money sort of anyway. So the short-term thing is not how much money we`re going to make. But influence is a big thing, right? Growth is what Frances Haugen talked about in her congressional testimony. That is the be-all/end-all, being about growth.

At the same time, there is also a broader libertarian-style world view oftentimes at the top leadership positions of these companies, in which it is basically saying you -- and you heard a little bit of that there, where Monika Bickert is saying, there is the trouble of the real world and there is the trouble of Facebook, and they are a mirror of one another .We`re doing the best we can in this big and complicated world.

What we`re seeing in this trove of documents is that researchers who know all about the data are saying, it`s not just an endless flowing river. It is, in fact, something we need to take responsibility for and begin to understand arguably to shape.

I will give you an example. They actually point out that, at this point, political actors, political parties, news organizations, and specifically political parties in the E.U., are actually changing their policy positions to be more extreme so that their statements on those positions will do better on Facebook, a true dog being wagged by its tail.

That`s the kind of thing that these researchers are pointing out here, Joy.

REID: Yes. It`s a powerful medium and incredibly dangerous in so many ways.

Jacob Ward, thank you very much. Really great reporting. Really appreciate you.

OK, joining now is Kate Klonick, assistant professor of law at St. John`s University.

And, hopefully, Professor Klonick, you heard what Jacob Ward was saying. But it`s the real world mirroring the online world, but that would only be if all the negative people who come up to you come up to you, and then they come with a friend and another friend and another friend and another friend and another friend, and any positive people who come up to you are alone, right?

The amplification is the issue. Am I wrong or right about that?

KATE KLONICK, ST. JOHN`S UNIVERSITY: No, I think that`s a good way of putting it.

I would say that, like, the thing that Facebook and all platforms and basically all that we`re seeing from the Internet and this connectivity of communications is basically this ability to unhinge the frictions of everyday life from geography and cost and reputation and all of these things.

So, like, I don`t even have to come up to you in my own face, or as the friend of someone to my own face. I can have a pseudonymous count. I can have whatever else.

And so there are all of these ways in which that kind of piling on happens.

REID: Right.

And you`re -- the people who are -- the negativity is rewarded. I was reading through the "Washington Post" piece on this. And the thing that was -- there`s this extreme libertarianism at the top of Facebook, obviously, among Mark Zuckerberg, where he`s like all speech should just be open.

But then there`s also the fact that, no, Facebook is rewarding the most negative behavior, the QAnon stuff, the Proud Boys stuff. There`s actually a reward for posting that. And the more negative comments, that gets plussed up and rewarded.

Let me let you hear Frances Haugen, for those who`ve forgotten what she said in her congressional testimony. Here she is.


FRANCES HAUGEN, FORMER FACEBOOK PRODUCT MANAGER: Facebook changed those safety defaults in the run-up to the election because they knew they were dangerous.


And because they wanted that growth back, they wanted the acceleration of the platform back after the election, they returned to their original defaults. And the fact that they had to break the glass on January 6 and turn them back on. I think that`s deeply problematic.


REID: And the fact that you had this 2019 study, before Facebook banned QAnon, that showed that, in just two days, Facebook would be recommending that when you went on -- that she was recommended that you join groups dedicated to QAnon.

Within a week, Carol Smith`s feed, who did this study, was full of groups and pages that violated Facebook`s own rules, including those against hate speech and disinformation. Facebook seems to very -- they`re very good at amplifying content that`s dangerous.

Do you think that the exposure of this and the fact that this was almost a philosophy at Facebook will end up changing it and the way it operates?

KLONICK: Well, I think that`s a great question.

I don`t think that you can actually look -- you`re calling this negative content. And I really actually want to kind of take one step back. You`re not looking at kind of how -- like, ZooBorns and dog photos and other types of -- I know this sounds really -- like, I`m not trying to be like, oh, there`s not all bad things on social media.

I`m trying to basically say that how these things travel and how they get amplified is through the behavior of the content, and not what -- like, imagine the Facebook`s passing along a box, and they don`t look inside the box to see what the box is promoting or recommending or whatever. They`re just passing it along because it looks like whatever is in the box, Joy will like, Kate will like or whoever.

And I think that that is basically kind of how you have to see this. It ends up actually amplifying really kind of base content, like cute content, happy-feeling content, but it also totally amplifies the bad content. And that`s basically, I think, what Frances is talking about, in that clip that you just played is basically like, they figured out how to downplay all of those types of -- they figured out how to amp down the behavioral mechanisms of those amplification systems for a period of time that that was going to be long-term censorial.

REID: Right.

KLONICK: If they had done that long -- for the entire time, for until -- not knowing what`s going to happen with the election, there would be a lot of false positives and censorship there.

The reason that they amped it back up was specifically because there was some type of really catastrophic event. I`m not being like, OK, they did everything great hear. They clearly fell down in a bunch of different ways.

But I do kind of think that we`re a little unsophisticated in how we`re taking this as kind of a gotcha moment from these documents.

REID: Yes.

KLONICK: And a lot of them are things that we have known already for a long time.

REID: That we have known.

And, unfortunately, a lot of people in Congress that are trying to regulate it don`t even understand the basics of what you`re talking about. They`re not tech-savvy. They`re like even less tech-savvy than me. And I`m not tech-savvy. So, yes, it`s going to be a challenge to regulate it.

Kate Klonick, thank you very much. Really appreciate you being here.

And still ahead: Former President Barack Obama weighs in on the governor`s race in Virginia, framing it as a key part of the ongoing struggle to save democracy from conspiracy theories and Trump`s big lie. The latest on that race and the 2022 midterms straight ahead.



REID: Four years ago, white supremacists, militia members and neo-Nazis descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, armed with semiautomatic rifles, bats and other weapons, chanting "Jews will not replace us."

Today, a dozen have the Unite the Right organizers, who were some of the country`s most notorious white supremacists and were described as verified people by the disgraced, twice-impeached former president, are standing trial on allegations of conspiracy to commit racially motivated violence.

What happens in next week`s gubernatorial election in the same state that was the epicenter of this violent blatant display of hate will determine which path the commonwealth will follow going forward.

A RealClearPolitics average of recent polling shows Democrat Terry McAuliffe essentially tied with Republican Glenn Youngkin. Under the current Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, the state has passed a slew of progressive laws, seeking to reform policing, aiming to make Virginia`s criminal justice system more equitable.

Virginia has also passed its own version of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and increased the minimum wage. A Democratic loss on November 2 could reverse all of that progress. Glenn Youngkin, the Trump-backed candidate, has called for auditing voting machines and has launched an election integrity task force.

He`s also vowed to fight back against racial inclusiveness in schools and says an abortion ban in Virginia is appropriate.

Democrats are so worried that they have called in their party`s biggest stars to boost enthusiasm. Former President Obama joined Democratic heavy hitters like Stacey Abrams and DNC chair Jaime Harrison in rallying support for McAuliffe.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we`re at a turning point right now, both here in America and around the world.

There`s a politics of meanness and division and conflict, of tribalism and cynicism. And that`s one path. But the good news is, there`s another path where we pull together and we solve big problems, and we rebuild our society in a way that gives more and more people a better life.

And that`s the choice we face.


REID: President Biden will headline a rally for McAuliffe tomorrow in Arlington. Virginians can vote early and in person until this Saturday.

Joining me now is Cornell Belcher, Democratic pollster and strategist.

Cornell, I tend to think of Virginia as being kind of Colorado, my former state, which used to be a pretty reliably Republican state, but now it is pretty reliably Democratic. I mean, Biden won there easily.


So, can you explain why it`s even close, when you have a Trump-backed Republican who`s vowing to turn it basically into a mini-Texas on abortion and who`s out there doing the -- whining about Critical Race Theory, which isn`t taught in Virginia schools?

CORNELL BELCHER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is a sly campaign trick.

You will notice, Joy, that he did not start off talking about abortion and stolen election, because he`s -- now he`s going to his base. Now, he started off, quite frankly, as a Virginian, although I live in D.C. now, southeast, with my peoples.

He started off -- to a certain extent, people saw his commercials and were like, I don`t know if this guy`s a Democrat or Republican. He tried to walk that thin lie. But now what Republicans do very well is, they go towards the end, and often sometimes even in the beginning, Republicans will fire up their base.

And to me, Joy, what`s happening in Virginia right now is going to be a real bellwether for Democrats going into the midterm, because, quite frankly, even though a lot of the establishment Democrats don`t get that, Republicans do. It is in fact about the base.

And so if you look at the polling numbers right now, quite frankly, the averages don`t look very different from what Northam`s average polling looked like back when he ran. And you know he won by a landslide in the end, because you saw an energy from Democrats and the base.

So, for me, if you do have an electorate that is below 68, 67 percent white, you have an electorate that is more college-educated than non- college-educated, if you have an electorate where young people make up 40, 41, 42 percent of that electorate, I think that`s a good sign for Democrats, and I think Terry will be safe.

If you start seeing an electorate that is older, more conservative and less diverse, which, quite frankly, you saw a little bit in Terry`s first run around, I think that`s really problematic for Democrats and for Terry in Virginia, but it`s real problematic for Democrats moving forward.

REID: And that is the issue.

I mean, look, McAuliffe, when he won previously statewide, won the same way all Democrats win, right? He lost white voters by like 20 points and overwhelmingly won like 90 percent of black voters. That`s just how you do it. You win -- it`s the 80/20 rule, right?

You can -- as long as you get north of 80 percent of voters of color, you can win with very low numbers of white voters. But the challenge now is the enthusiasm of those non-white voters, AAPI voters, which are also growing pretty quickly in the state.

Are Democrats doing a good job of reaching those voters and making them understand what it would mean for a state that`s been pretty good on voting rights to turn into a Texas-style state, where voter suppression becomes de rigueur?

BELCHER: That`s the million-dollar question, Joy.

And I think, when you -- the beauty of Barack Obama coming in, and you saw some of that in the clip, is Barack Obama makes it bigger. This isn`t about, quite frankly, just Terry vs. Republicans there. This is about a bigger picture of sort of nationally what`s going on.

And so what you saw -- and, by the way, Barack Obama`s the most popular national political figure in the country, regardless of party. So Barack Obama makes this about something larger.

And, by the way, Joy, it`s kind of how Biden and V.P. Harris closed out the California recall election. They didn`t make it about small issues. And V.P. went in there. She talked about sort of bigger issues, women`s rights and voting rights and all these other bigger issues.

I think Democrats are trying to make this about bigger things. And Republicans want to make -- and to a certain extent, Democrats want to nationalize this election in a way that Republicans used to try to nationalize elections back in the past, because they stand a better chance of energizing base voters and young voters if this is about something bigger, about some of the issues that, quite frankly, Joy, they went into the streets and marched about going into the 2020 election.

REID: Well, how about Trump?

I mean, look, the reality is, is that no Republican has been -- has shown that they can resist doing Trump`s bidding. Giving any Republican power seems so dangerous. This will be a huge prize for Republicans, that you know what Youngkin would do with it.

He would be one of those Republicans trying to steal the 2024 election for Trump. This is somebody who is behind him. This is his surrogate. She calls herself Trump in heels, Amanda Chase. She`s a Virginia lawmaker. She has invited in -- been invited in by him to help her.

She`s as Trumpy as Trump gets. She blamed Antifa and Black Lives Matter agents of destruction for the assault and violence of the insurrection. She`s rallied with Steve Bannon.

If that is his surrogate, he ain`t no different from Trump. I don`t care how quiet his ads are, no? Our Democrats getting that across?


BELCHER: Well, see, that`s a problem in our society right now, where advertising goes a long, long way.

And he has saturated the -- both the advertisement with him as a moderate, sensible Republican, quite frankly, not him -- not as a Republican at all.

REID: Yes.

BELCHER: And talking a lot about education and actually increasing education funding, which, by the way, last time I checked, that was a -- that was a Democrat staple.

So the question is, will this all break through towards the end? Will Democrats be able to carry the message that he is, in fact, very much in line with Donald Trump? And that`s what I think Obama and some of the national Democrats are trying to do.

REID: Yes, he is no different than any other Republican, Virginia. Pay attention to this stuff, because it`s the ones who try to sneak in under the radar, a lot of times they`re even worse.

Cornell Belcher, thank you very much. Really appreciate you being here tonight.

All right, tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is still ahead as a Southern governor, speaking of governors, ramps up his pursuit of natural herd immunity, whatever the cost, no matter how many people die.

But, first, the big mystery isn`t why Senator Joe Manchin is standing in the way of Biden`s climate agenda. It`s why he`s asking his constituents to foot the bill.

That -- we will tackle that when we come right back.



REID: Climate activists have been on a hunger strike outside of the White House for almost a week, almost a week now, calling on President Biden to not abandon his climate agenda.

They`re willing to starve themselves for climate action, as some politicians appear to be more concerned about a certain special interest, rather than saving the planet. Inside the Capitol, Congress may finally be close to a deal, with President Biden saying his meeting with Senator Manchin over the weekend was positive, and Speaker Pelosi saying that 90 percent of the bill had been agreed upon and written.

There likely will be some climate change funding in the final bill, but it will be significantly reduced from what was originally proposed, with the clean electricity program likely out of it altogether, making it much more difficult for Biden to achieve his climate goals.

Manchin has made his position on climate action pretty clear. One could argue that he`s simply trying to represent his constituents, who overwhelmingly voted for Trump, but he also appears to be acting in his own self-interests.

We have mentioned many times on this show that Manchin is still making millions off his family`s coal company. But a new report in The Intercept details the extent to which Manchin seems to have used his roles in government to prop up big coal profits, including profits that are very close to home.

As an example, in 2006, when Manchin was the governor of West Virginia, his chief of staff met with lobbyists, lobbyists advocating for them to petition for a rate increase for West Virginians` electricity that kept Manchin`s company`s biggest coal customer afloat.

Joining me now is the author of that article, Daniel Boguslaw, investigative journalist for the -- writing for The Intercept.

And, Daniel, thank you so much for being here.

I read your report, and I think it was going, oh, oh, throughout the whole thing, because I had read these previous pieces about coal prices in the state of West Virginia being hiked up, so that rate payers in this second poorest state in the country could basically subsidize this dying industry, the coal industry.

But you report that there`s a Manchin connection. Please explain.

DANIEL BOGUSLAW, THE INTERCEPT: Sure. Thanks for having me, Joy.

I think it`s important to understand, first and foremost, Manchin`s company, Enersystems, this was his brokerage firm he created in `89. And as the first piece of this investigation showed, this company has been having a direct impact on the land, the air, the soil of West Virginia. We showed there was a massive EPA violation at one of the main suppliers to Enersystems that was discharging into the Buffalo Creek, which actually runs through Manchin`s hometown.

We looked into the Grant Town power plant, the main consumer of coal that those energy hikes affected. We showed that there was almost $200 million per year of associated health impacts in that region, whether that was increased asthma rates, whether that was heart attacks, or even deaths.

We also looked at the impact on the land from the coal ash, the combustion byproduct of that Enersystems` coal going back into the land and leaching carcinogens into the ground and water.

We discovered dozens of safety violations at these sites, and in addition to three deaths. So this industry that`s being sustained through these rate hikes, which my reporting showed at least one instance for the plant that was consuming Manchin coal and that he instructed his chief of staff to meet with a lobbyist for, that industry is having a direct impact and is being -- was sustained thanks to Manchin`s efforts.

REID: And there were even -- part of your story was this idea that coal was being sort of almost sneaked out of some of these coal plants, and sold kind of off the books in a certain way that prompted an investigation.

What`s the status of that investigation? And can you explain that a bit?


So part of the question I wanted to answer was, how did we get here? It was Joe Biden who was elected with a massive mandate, not Joe Manchin, although sometimes it doesn`t feel that way. So I began looking into the critical moments from Manchin`s rise and discovered that there were multiple federal investigations.

Now, the one you`re referencing began in 1992 around the Peabody No. 2 two federal mine, and, basically, this was an investigation into coal shipments that were disappearing from the mine logs. At the time, all the reporting around this, it didn`t mention anything about Enersystems, no mention of that.

A number of people working at this mine were charged. Through an affidavit that I obtained that was sealed seeking search warrants discovered that Enersystems was actually named as one of the targets for this warrant. Enersystems` trucks were transporting this stolen coal.


But, at the time, none of these documents were public. There was nothing in any of the media reports, despite several people being charged. When I reached out to some of those people, the mine supervisor, the security guard, all of the collaborators, only one person responded.

That was a man who was working in the mind as an operator. And when I asked him how it was that he was charged, but no one from Enersystems was, he told me that was: "Because they had connections and I didn`t."

REID: Wow.

And just to sort of sum up here, your piece talks about the fact that, in some ways, Joe Manchin is sort of single-handedly propping up this industry through his representation in the United States Senate. Is coal at this point benefiting the people of West Virginia economically? Is it an economic driver, such that it`s important to stop climate change -- to take climate change out of this bill to protect the economic benefits of coal in West Virginia?

BOGUSLAW: I think that`s a difficult argument to make, especially given what`s in this bill, given the fact that there is a massive amount of spending on green energy technology, on green jobs, and, beyond that, even beyond those energy components, massive social spending that is widely popular in West Virginia, and that West Virginians overwhelmingly support.

And I think you look at the op-ed that Bernie Sanders wrote in the hometown paper telling people, this is what`s in the bill. And I think you saw that as an extremely effective move for progressives applying pressure, because these programs are tremendously impactful.

REID: And you still have -- it appears now that they will be out.

In West Virginia, what are they saying about that? Are West Virginians cheering Joe Manchin on to cut out those things? We have a short time. I`m sorry. But I want to let you answer that.

BOGUSLAW: Well, no, I don`t think so. I think those are wildly popular policies. And I think it`s confounding why both progressives and the Biden administration haven`t spent more time hammering.

They have tried the carrot. They have offered -- they have given Joe Manchin`s wife an appointment on the Appalachian Regional Commission. They have ceded to his every demand. They have shaved off these hugely important parts of the bill that are going to be critical for the midterms.

REID: Yes.

BOGUSLAW: And so I think they are widely popular, and I think people support them there.

REID: And I cannot emphasize enough this is the second poorest state in the country, where people are paying higher electricity bills to subsidize a dying coal industry, rather than investing in green jobs.

It`s hard to explain, unless it`s about profit.

Daniel Boguslaw, great reporting. Thank you very much. Really appreciate you being here.

BOGUSLAW: Thank you.

REID: OK, up -- thank you.

And up next: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has a new henchmen willing to push COVID conspiracy theories and misinformation in the name of freedom.

Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is straight ahead. Don`t miss it.



REID: Since the beginning of this pandemic, many Republicans have walked a very fine line of kind of, sort of encouraging safety, while also fueling vaccine skepticism.

Well, one of those Republicans has jumped off that line entirely and is offering COVID a one-way first-class ticket to his state. And that, of course, is Governor Ron DeSantis. I mean, who else would it be?

On Sunday, the Florida Republican announced plans to offer unvaccinated cops $5,000 bonuses to relocate to Florida and join police forces there, rolling out this perverse dystopian tourism add to the COVID blue line.

Are you big on ordering people to comply, but you hate complying with health mandates yourself? Do you dream of arresting people`s ability to breathe while you arrest them? Well, pack up your potentially infectious self, your badge and your gun and come on down to Florida. Take this taxpayer bonus money and enjoy constant interactions with vulnerable senior citizens you can breathe on.

Every breakthrough case and ICU admission is the virus of freedom spreading. And don`t forget your sunscreen.

Of course, today, because DeSantis has nothing if not consistent, he denied recruiting unvaccinated police, despite literally saying this on FOX News last night:


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): In Florida, our policy is very clear. We`re going to have a special session, and we`re going to say, nobody should lose their job based off these injections.

So, NYPD, Minneapolis, Seattle, if you`re not being treated well, we will treat you better here. You can fill important needs for us, and we will compensate you as a result.


REID: So, yes, Ron, you said it on tape.

But that`s the thing with Death-Santis. He denies. He denies the efficacy of masks and vaccines. He`s a pandemic denier who hawks Regeneron to line the pockets of his biggest donor. He puts conspiracy theorists on TV who claim the vaccine changes your DNA, which, for the record, it does not do in any way.

DeSantis is now even flanked by a mini-Scott Atlas, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Florida`s new surgeon general, who has questioned the safety of masks and who opposes mandates, basically the Harvard version of DeSantis talking points.

Ladapo is so pro-COVID, hard-core, he refused to wear a mask while visiting the office of a state senator who is being treated for breast cancer.

DeSantis isn`t the only leader playing this dangerous game with people`s lives. Brazil`s President Jair Bolsonaro famously downplayed COVID, even as it killed more than 600,000 Brazilians, including hundreds of pregnant women and babies, leading to a Brazilian Senate report pursuing crimes against humanity against him, crimes against humanity.

Isn`t that exactly what we saw from Trump and now with Baby Don Death- Santis? Killer Ron has gone all in. He isn`t even pretending to care about Floridians staying alive anymore, making the jump from anti-mandate to anti-vax, even as almost 60,000 Floridians have died.

DeSantis, who`s sacrificing citizens` lives for a career as a wannabe death cult leader, and who`s throwing down the COVID welcome mat to lock in the anti-vax vote -- can dead people vote? Asking for a friend. Ron DeSantis, once again, you`re the "Absolute Worst."

And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT.