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Transcript: The ReidOut, 10/4/21

Guests: Fernand Amandi, Elie Mystal, Rashad Robinson, Amanda Becker, Christina Greer, Malcolm Nance

Summary

Biden says, GOP refusal to raise debt limit is hypocritical, dangerous, disgraceful; Biden blames two people for blocking his agenda; Conservative Democratic senators blocking Biden agenda; Democratic Senator Sinema refuses to back filibuster reform; Democratic Senator Sinema facing declining popularity; Right wing calls for holy war on Capitol Hill.

Transcript

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Hey, Ari, thank you very much. Yes, we`re going to be getting into that too on the show. So, thank you, have a great evening.

All right, good evening, everyone, thank you. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with a countdown. In 14 days, the United States is set to default on its debts, triggering an economic collapse worse than the 2008 economic crisis, plunging the country into a recession. America, you can thank the Republican Party for the calamity that would ensue because they refuse to vote to raise the debt limit. President Biden addressed our potential debt default today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: So, let`s be clear. Not only are Republicans refusing to do their job but threatening to use the power, their power to prevent us from doing our job, saving the economy from a catastrophic event. I think, quite frankly, it`s hypocritical, dangerous and disgraceful.

REPORTER: Can you guarantee that the U.S. will not reach the debt ceiling that that will not happen?

BIDEN: No, I can`t. That`s up to Mitch McConnell.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Here is what else Biden said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Why were you unable, Mr. President, to close the deal with members of your own party on key parts of your legislative agenda last week?

BIDEN: I was able to close the deal on 99 percent of my party. Two, two people that`s still underway.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Everyone knows who those two are. There is Captain Joe Manchin, who heralds from a state that voted for the former president twice, and then there is the other center, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a nominal Democrat from a state that voted for Biden, choosing a Democrat for the first time since Bill Clinton.

Now, you would think Sinema would do more to reflect those values. Unfortunately, the way she`s been acting, you wouldn`t be wrong in thinking that she seems to be relishing her role as one of the key figures standing in the way of President Biden`s agenda. The once self-proclaimed progressive who started out as a green party independent and code pink activist has now become America`s most enigmatic senator. Sinema rarely holds town halls with her constituents or speaks to the press and often dismisses the Capitol press corps that covers her, including by throwing out stupid jokes.

The 19th, an independent news organization, tried nearly a dozen times to get the senator or a staffer on the record to discuss her shifting views. Nearly all of those requests were ignored. They did, however, speak to someone familiar with the senator who she doesn`t care what Democrats think because she sees her voters as independents and crossovers. Why would anyone think otherwise? This is the same senator who refused to vote for a minimum wage increase and refuses to end the filibuster, even though it would pave the way for a voting rights bill that she co-sponsored.

Her behavior is even more confounding when you look back at the glowing profiles that were written about her in 2016. The Arizona Republic went to great lengths to detail her hard scrabble upbringing complete with food insecurity, living three years in a converted gas station with no running water. Just don`t ask her too much about it because the details are elusive, sort of like the senator herself.

Arizona Democrats, who mobilized and canvassed for her because they thought she would be an advocate now feel betrayed, which prompted some activists to literally follow her into an Arizona State University bathroom and demand that she do something about immigration reform and the build back better agenda. Senator Sinema responded to that, saying, it is the duty of elected leaders to avoid fostering an environment in which honestly-held policy disagreements serve as the basis for vitriol, raising the temperature in political rhetoric and creating a permission structure for unacceptable behavior. Weird that she didn`t think vitriol and raising the temperature were bad things when she posted this picture of herself on Instagram wearing a ring that said, F off.

Joining me now is Christina Greer, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University, and Amanda Becker, Washington Correspondent for The 19th.

And, Amanda, I`m going to start with you. This senator won`t talk to The 19th. She definitely won`t come on this show. We`ve invited her numerous times. She recently was on an airplane. A DACA recipient -- another DACA recipient, similar to she was approached in Arizona State, approached her and asked her would she do anything about reconciliation, a pathway to citizenship, she just ignored that person, didn`t answer.

Lauren Windsor, who we`ve seen on this show, she created The Undercurrent T.V., she was on that same flight. She went up to her, try to see if she would respond to questions, and she said, well, she doesn`t negotiate in public. It doesn`t seem like she negotiates in private, public, the White House or anywhere. Do you have insights into what is up with this woman?

AMANDA BECKER, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE 19TH: You know, I have tried for months to figure out what is up with Senator Krysten Sinema. It`s very difficult. I ended going to Arizona for a week and talking to dozens of people who have known her, some of them dating back several decades to try and get some sense of what her calculus was in Washington right now and what she really sees as kind of her mission and what she`s trying to get done.

You know, I saw these negotiations looming.

[19:05:01]

The story that you mentioned, I actually wrote back in May. And I don`t think it`s anymore clear now than it is now what her endgame is. Now, there may be some very private negotiations that are going between her and the White House. I will say, in Washington most things do not stay a secret for very long and we really have no more insight into what Kyrsten Sinema thinks right now about these negotiations that are happening than we did a month ago or two months before that.

REID: And, Christina, the thing is she may not like it, but because she won`t talk to anyone, she went on The View one time. She won`t do an interview, she won`t even do a floor speech. Lawrence O`Donnell made a really good point. He used to work on the Senate Finance Committee as a staffer. She could, without the press interrupting her, get on the floor of the United States Senate and say what her views are. She won`t do that.

So, we have to go from what we know and see. She meets with big ticket donors. She chilled with Senator Cornyn, who is anti-immigrant. She ran -- she used to be like Ralph Nader voter, but now, all of a sudden, the only people she seems to want to spend any time around are her all-white co- negotiators on the infrastructure bill and rich donors. So, how else do we decide what she`s about than just to look at that?

CHRISTINA GREER, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: Well, I think that she`s enjoying the attention, Joy, because, clearly, there is no substantive policy she`s putting forward but she appears to really enjoy the fact that she`s keeping all of us in this perpetual guessing game. Again, as you said, she only likes donors and she doesn`t want to have legitimate substantive conversations with journalists or her colleagues.

There are so many Democrats who have approached her in good faith effort to try and understand what exactly is it that you would like so we can start a negotiation? We can figure out what our moving place will be, and she doesn`t know it. She won`t say. But I don`t think she knows it. I think she`s just enjoying this cat and mouse hunt. And I`m pretty sure that she realizes when she finally does speak, the emperor will have no clothes and she`ll be exposed, to not fully and fundamentally understand what she`s been sort of dangling in front of the Democratic Party for so long.

REID: And, Amanda, here is the thing. If you play this game, like Manchin, you see him sort of doing the same thing. He clearly has a little divo in him because he loves the attention too. But at the end of the day, you get the sense from talking to even progressive House members that he wants something specific and he`s just going to keep playing the game until he gets a specific thing.

With her, she just seems to like to show boat. She released a statement over the weekend just inveighing against the House for holding up her bill, as if there are not lots of other bills written by far more senior senators that are also held up. They can`t get voting rights through, which she`s co-sponsoring now, isn`t helping with. They can`t get police reform through. They can`t get -- there`s all sorts of bills, immigration reform, that`s why she`s getting followed around, police reform, all of this stuff, like people have been there a lot longer than her, and their bills aren`t coming through.

What makes her think her bill, because she and like ten Republicans or whatever negotiated it is more important than their bills? I don`t get it. What are her constituents saying at this point? Is this senator going to get primaried? What is happening in Arizona?

BECKER: Well, I do think she will face a pretty formidable primary opponent. We don`t know who that will be. There is already a couple groups raising money to fund an eventual primary opponent when she`s up, which is not until 2024. And you do not see the same thing happening for Senator Mark Kelly, who is on the ballot again next year. So, they`re really planning in advance as we watch this play out.

I think in terms of what does she want, what is her endgame, a couple things are important to remember about her. First, Kyrsten Sinema is a very junior senator. She`s only been around for a few years. And these are -- she`s dealing with other people who have been in the Senate for sometimes decades. And it`s a very different power dynamic in the Senate than it is in the House of Representatives in terms of how votes are passed and how legislation is made.

And another thing to remember about Senator Krysten Sinema is this is the first time in her political career, from the very beginning going back to when she was in the state house, that she has been in the majority party. So, she has always been a minority party legislator in the state house and when she was in the House of Representatives.

So I think the power dynamic has shifted around her. I`m not sure she`s entirely recalibrated kind of where her role is in all of this. And, you know, you were comparing her to senator Manchin, he has gone through these major negotiations before. He knows how this is done. We are getting kind of top-line dollar figures for him. We know where he stands on key pieces of energy and climate that would go into this reconciliation package. He has asked for things, such as work requirements for child care and things like that.

So, you know -- and he is actually coming out more and engaging with people and the activists that are approaching him.

[19:10:01]

And, you know, it`s a very different approach than what we see her doing where she -- people are coming to find her because she`s not saying where she stands.

REID: Right. And, Christina, I mean, people can follow-up the person that followed her into the bathroom. But if you`re getting followed into the bathroom, that means you`re not talking to anybody and nobody could figure out how to talk to you at all, and people are desperate to try to get her to say -- just tell them anything.

This is her approval ratings. They`ve really tanked, okay? Let`s just put it that way. She`s going -- you know, but she`s claiming that those aren`t her voters. Arizona -- CNN did a graphic earlier today that showed Arizona, the majority of Arizona Democrats identify as more liberal than they do moderate and conservative. It`s not even close. So, she`s not from a state where the Democratic Party, you know, lines up with where she says she is, like a Manchin-type of Democrat. What makes her think that the same people who are refusing to raise the debt limit, the party that`s going to let us literally crash our economy in less than a month represent her voters, her people?

GREER: Right. But I think, Joy, what we have a classic case right here now is that she is not seeing herself as a public servant and she`s gotten a taste of that a donor lifestyle, and that`s where she is now. And so I think Amanda`s point is really valid.

After Mark Kelly goes through his election in 2022, I think the Arizona Democratic Party will probably put up a substantive challenge against her, someone who understands policy and not just understands the layout of what Washington D.C. looks like but what Arizonians need. Obviously, she`s from, you know, the state of John McCain who was a maverick and would seem to buck his party every now and again. She`s clearly trying to do something in that vein obviously as working against not just the Democrat Party but Americans writ large.

But I guarantee that after the 2022 midterm elections, the Democratic Party is going to start looking for someone who cannot just fall in line but think about policies that will help the citizens of Arizona in a way that Kyrsten Sinema seems to only be looking out for herself. And that is a concern that she should have, not just about her polling numbers but what certain donors will look at after the 2022 midterm elections.

REID: Yes. I wonder if she`s going to support raising the debt limit at this point. She`s giving a Marco Rubio vibes with this sort of gossy (ph) story about herself, that she can`t quite check all the details on but try to use it to advance herself, and advance herself to what? We know he wants to be president. What in the world does she want? Does she want to be a lobbyist? What is she doing? I wish that she would -- she`s welcome to come on the show, Krysten Sinema and your staff. You come on the show and answer because we definitely have questions.

Christina Greer, Amanda Becker, you guys are great. Thank you very much.

Up next on THE REIDOUT --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: We control this country. We got to start acting like it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: The ongoing threat from the right with Bannon talking about shock troops and Madison Cawthorn calling for a holy war. It`s all out in the open now and they are using black candidates to push their toxic agenda.

Plus, the Supreme Court returns today for a consequential and potentially very damaging term.

Also, how odd is it that Facebook went down just hours after a whistleblower accused it of betraying democracy? How the social network helped to fuel the January 6th insurrection.

And if that insurrection wasn`t bad enough, two of its biggest agitators are now putting America`s national security at risk in a very different way. They are tonight`s absolute worst.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:15:00]

REID: The far-right`s obsession with power it starting to sound a lot like Sunday school gone all the way wrong, with Hitler tourist Madison Cawthorn releasing an ad where he calls for holy war on the Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): The feel a spiritual battle. The only way we take our country back is when strong, God-fearing patriots decide it is time for us to stand up and so no to your tyranny. We lose this country today if we bend the knee to the Democrats today. Our country will be lost forever. Our children will never know what freedom is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: All right then, Mr. Calms (ph) and not actually writing bills. We also have Steve Bannon telling NBC News -- or telling us how one would take over the administrative state and deconstruct it, saying, that you have to have shock troops prepared to take over immediately, give them fire and brimstone.

Let us be clear, Bannon turned Breitbart into what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a white, ethno-nationalist propaganda mill. He is on a quest to MAGA-tize not just the U.S. but also Brazil, Europe and beyond.

During his halcyon days as White House chief strategist, he used the same rhetoric that we`re hearing about deconstructing the state. More and more, the Republican Party is fusing its brand with far-right extremists and they`re finding black conservatives who are willing to help them. Enter Winsome Sears, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia, Jamaican-born, former marine electrician who loves guns just like she loves restricting abortion. She is speaking alongside Bannon at a rally in her state next week.

With me now is Malcolm Nance, MSNBC Counterterrorism and Intelligence Analyst, and Fernand Amandi, Democratic Strategist and Pollster. Thank you both for being here.

Malcolm, I`m going to start with you. This idea of essentially, you tweeted about it, Madison Cawthorn calling for a holy war. He is not to be taken seriously just a figure, a political figure, but should we be taking seriously this idea that some on the far Christian right are talking holy war?

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC COUNTERTERRORISM AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, when I started that tweet, I started it with warning. Madison Cawthorn should be used as a weather vane for all the winds that are blowing in the Republican Party. And you can see how he picks up on these themes that are now -- they`re not just coming from the Steve Bannon level, the Donald Trump level, they are coming from the Republican street. And that Republican street is armed. They`re angry. They have been fed an entire line which makes them believe that America is no longer America and that they no longer want the America that the rest of us, the 60 percent of the country, live in. And they`re willing to take up arms for it.

[19:20:18]

On the other hand, when Cawthorn is saying these things, he also sees himself as a propagandist in waiting, that he can be brought out, and he will be lifted up by the Republican street to being a senator in some other state. They don`t care about the effect of these words.

If you remove the words from his speech Washington, D.C. and Christian, you would have the exact same terminology that I found analyzing al Qaeda and ISIS communications for their calls for jihad. It`s almost the same.

REID: And it`s white nationalist thinking that Bannon is trying to spread. He said himself that he wanted to turn Breitbart into the home of the alt- right, Fernand.

But they always manage to find people of color who will go along with it. I`m thinking Ali Alexander, who`s one of the organizers of the January 6 rally. He is not a white Christian in that sort of Madison Cawthorn setup.

You think Enrique Tarrio, who is Afro-Latino and still leading the Proud Boys that want to -- that participated, members of it, participated in the January 6 insurrection. So, the challenge here is that they are trying to seemingly recruit people from communities of color to be a part of this holy war.

I wonder why you think that strategy is being deployed. Is it just to sort of make themselves appear to be something other than a white nationalist push?

FERNAND AMANDI, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER AND STRATEGIST: Yes, I mean, it doesn`t matter, Joy, whether they`re doing it out of conviction or for the paycheck.

Some of these people are either useful idiots or, as you put, recruited, radicalized members of the shock troop brigade. But the way I think we have to understand this is as follows. After the events of January 6, if that isn`t the moment where we have to take assessment of really what happened - - and we`re almost nine months removed -- none of the instigators have yet to be held accountable by the FBI or the Justice Department.

You have got some of those -- quote -- "shock troops" that are now being charged, but I`m talking about the people behind the effort, still no accountability.

And I think, Joy, the other problem is, there is this tremendous concern around calling it what it is. The dictionary definition of the word terrorist is someone or groups of people who use the threat of violence or intimidation to try and accomplish political goals.

And I look at that Madison Cawthorn clip, I say to myself, if it sounds like a domestic terrorist, and it acts like a domestic terrorist, and it`s putting out videos that, to Malcolm`s point, look like they could be stripped from a jihadist playbook, swapping in a word or two, it`s domestic terrorism.

And, unfortunately, Joy, we are in this somnambulant, anesthetized state where the institutions that are there to protect us from this threat seem to be, at least to my judgment, I think many others, either not taking the threat seriously enough, or, worse, not thinking it`s a threat.

REID: You know, and what worries me and I think what worries a lot of people, because the other name for it is fascism, Malcolm.

NANCE: Yes.

REID: And I think that we tend not to associate that with the United States, because we think that can`t happen here.

But I see this confluence. Robert Jones has talked about this sort of persecution complex that`s growing up within white Christian communities, where they`re being told that they are under this threat from the rest of society, where you have courts, including the Supreme Court, that are set up right now if they want to start to deconstruct the rights of non- Christians and say that there`s going to be a special sort of class of rights that are going to be for their beliefs and not for others.

I worry that people aren`t paying attention. Winsome Sears, who -- can show her ad? She ran an ad showing herself holding an AR-15. That was her ad to be governor of Virginia. She`s out here saying, yes, she`d support a heartbeat bill in Virginia. There`s extremism just in the construct.

When you have people like that who are coming in with what is supposedly a normcore Republican Virginia gubernatorial nominee, that worries me, Malcolm. Does it worry you?

NANCE: Yes, it worries me greatly.

I just finished a 120,000-word book on how the Republican Party is becoming an armed insurgency in the United States. And it is absolutely terrifying.

But I want to point something out here which is which is very salient to your to your listeners. Don`t watch Donald Trump when you`re talking about the core, hard, solid base of extremism, the Republican Party. He himself is just the windbag that is blowing that weather vane.

It is Steve Bannon who is actually organizing this. When he made his statement about being the shock troops, look, he is not taking the Hitler brownshirt playbook. He is absolutely fascinated with Benito Mussolini and using the Camicie Nere, right, the blackshirts of the -- of Mussolini`s fascist party.

[19:25:08]

They know they`re fascists. They know they are supporting white nationalist goals. They know that, by using these terms in a way that their supporters approve of, they can actually get away with calling liberals Nazis.

It`s absolutely fascinating. But when Bannon started a few years ago trying to build that gladiator school for the ultra-conservative right to create right-wing extremists, not foot soldiers, but political war fighters, all over the world, he knew, he knew precisely that he was going to try to create a political base that would not just take power, would seize power and have armed support below it.

This is very, very, very dangerous. If it was any other country, we`d be putting out critical reports and preparing to do airstrikes. But this is the United States. You have a fascist base which is arming themselves and thinking that, at first -- at first opportunity, they will seize power.

REID: And the thing is, Fernand, you think of the models that they are looking to, Hungary, Brazil, Bolsonaro.

They`re -- I mean, Bannon is active in those countries. They`re doing CPACs in Hungary and in Brazil. This is a global sort of ideology that they`re trying to spread. But, again, they`re fronting themselves with people of color who are willing to say the same songbook that makes it even more frightening, because there are people who are willing to front this, who appear that they`re part of the community. And that makes it, to me, even more frightening.

AMANDI: I mean, what you`re describing is the axis of autocracy, these groups of people around the world.

And believe you me, I mean, as Malcolm touched on, Steve Bannon -- and part of the reason he`s going to some of these other countries is to show that this is a global movement with people of color in different countries that are aligning themselves with this, what we believe and what we know is a bankrupt philosophy, but what has one clear goal.

Joy, I`d like to just come back as well, because the three of us on this network and your former program, I remember when we would warn, if you will, the American people in the run-up to the 2016 election. And we weren`t prophets. We weren`t Nostradamus, folks that had any particular insights.

We were just paying attention to exactly what they were telling us they were going to do. And, lo and behold, they did that, and then some. And I think, for anybody watching tonight -- and I know your show is watched by folks all throughout the corridors of power in this country -- take this threat seriously.

We are under tremendous danger, as Malcolm alluded to, and it`s going to get worse.

REID: Absolutely. Please take it seriously.

NANCE: Joy, if I just touch real quickly on the use of African-Americans up front, look, when slave patrols went out into the field, they bought a slave with them.

They need a black face to go out and trick people into believing that they should come to their side. Look back to Mussolini. He did the same thing in Libya, right? He was out to catch Omar Mukhtar. And he would bring other Libyans up there who would say that.

REID: Yes.

NANCE: These people are just a black face on a fascist blackshirt.

REID: We need to be much, much -- take it much more seriously. Scaring is caring, you all.

Malcolm Nance, Fernand Amandi, thank you, my friends, very much.

OK, still ahead: Nine Supreme Court justices are back in black at the start of a new term packed with hugely consequential cases, this as the two -- as the two-thirds conservative High Court wrestles with historically low public approval ratings.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:32:18]

REID: The first Monday in October means the Supreme Court is back in session.

And this could be one of the most consequential terms ever. Abortion is the number one issue, after the justices declined to block the draconian Texas bounty hunter law last month. This term could be the beginning of the end of Roe v. Wade, with the justices hearing a case from Mississippi that directly asked the court to overturn the 1973 ruling protecting Americans` right to an abortion.

This comes as the conservative majority is taking up cases the court hasn`t touched in recent years, hearing the first major gun rights case in more than a decade. They`re also hearing a case on public funding of religious education. And the justices could also end affirmative action if they decide to take on a case they delayed making a decision over this summer.

Over the weekend, thousands marched in rallies across the country in support of abortion rights, with some marching for the first time ever. Americans support Roe v. Wade, with only 20 percent saying they would like to see the ruling overturned in a recent poll. And majority of Americans support stricter gun laws, with only 14 percent of Americans saying they`d like our current laws to be less strict.

But, as FiveThirtyEight points out, the Supreme Court doesn`t actually have to care what the American people think, quoting a paper that argues that Supreme Court justices are more interested in how they`re regarded by elites.

Joining me now, Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for "The Nation," and Melissa Murray, professor of law at NYU and co-host of "Strict Scrutiny," a podcast about the Supreme Court.

I`m going to start with you, Elie.

You wrote a piece this weekend that I read thoroughly. And you talked about the fact that the conservatives have one aim, stop progress. You write: "All the cases will be argued on conservative terms over the issues conservatives care about and decided based on what conservatives think they can get away with. And, apparently, elected Democrats both in Congress and the White House are cool with that. The Biden administration took the energy and passion out of its base for court reform and sent it off to a communion of law professors to die."

So I feel like you kind of feel like I do, that Roe v. Wade is gone, affirmative action is gone. Clarence Thomas hates it, hates that he ever benefited from it. That essentially gun rights -- gun -- freedom to own a gun is going to be even more proliferated. They are going to repeal the 20th century. That`s what`s happening, right?

ELIE MYSTAL, "THE NATION": Yes.

By the time we get to June, you will have more rights if you own a gun that if you own a uterus. The prediction for this court, in the words of Clubber Lang, is pain. Like, that`s what they`re bringing. That`s what they have been sent to bring.

However, let`s remember, Mitch McConnell did not steal the Supreme Court for nothing. He got something with that bargain. And what he got was the one institution of government that is immune from the popular will.

The Republican agenda at the Supreme Court and politically is massively unpopular. Let`s not forget the Republicans have lost seven of the last eight presidential elections in terms of popular vote.,

[19:35:07]

So, McConnell and the Republicans have turned to the Supreme Court, which is unelected, unaccountable, and unrepresentative of the American people, to do the things that the American people don`t want to be done, like take away women`s rights, give rights to rifle-philiacs, end affirmative action, and do all the other things.

REID: And, Melissa, they -- I`m assuming, because, when Roe came out, the case that really -- what really was bothering the religious right was that they can`t get a tax break for segregated schools.

So I`m assuming, if they`re readdressing issues of whether or not you can give tax breaks to schools based on religious belief, that`s also going to go too. But there is that sense that they do care about what elites think, that they don`t want to look like the Plessy court.

What makes them think that they can avoid that if they are doing, as Elie said, implementing right-wing ideas, right-wing Christian sort of orthodoxy that the majority of American don`t want? What makes them think they could do that and not be pilloried by elites? And do they even care, ultimately?

MELISSA MURRAY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think Elie has it exactly right. The court is, by design, a countermajoritarian institution that`s insulated from the press of popular politics.

And we have seen this repeatedly over the last four years. I think about John McCain putting his thumb down to maintain the Affordable Care Act. And then, instead of just letting that right, an expression of the people`s will, you saw the Republicans immediately file suit in a Texas district court to overturn the ACA, using the courts, weaponizing the courts as an instrument of minoritarian politics.

The question is whether the Supreme Court even cares about that. The idea that the court cares about what elites think may have some purchase, because we have seen a bunch of justices hit the circuit over the last couple of days to disclaim the idea that they are partisan hacks...

REID: Yes.

MURRAY: ... or to clear up any misunderstandings about the shadow docket.

But, ultimately, this is a Republican conservative supermajority designed to achieve certain political ends, and they have the votes to do it. It doesn`t matter what the elites think.

REID: Yes, I mean, Amy Coney Barrett, is she the one who did it in front of -- at the Mitch McConnell Center, sitting there with her patron?

I mean, they`re not even pretending not to just be a straight political court. I feel, like since Bush v. Gore, Elie, it`s just been open season. They`re going to do whatever it is they want. They themselves are elites, and they`re going to try to impose their vision of America on America, whether we like it or not.

So the question becomes, do we have any power to stop them? Because even Breyer, who apparently ain`t never going to retire -- he was at a Smithsonian event this week, and people were protesting and saying, are you going to retire or what? He ain`t.

So, if even he`s willing to go along with what these right-wing justices want to do, what do we do about it?

MYSTAL: I mean, well, first of all, somebody needs to tell the Democratic Party, right?

Because people have been talking about this court and what it is poised to do for a long time now. This has not come out of left field, but still, in the Democratic Party, you don`t have a lot of energy amongst electeds. On the ground, at the base, you do. But amongst electeds, you don`t have the energy for court reform, you don`t have the energy for court expansion, you don`t have the energy for jurisdiction stripping, which is to write the law in such a way as to say that the Supreme Court can`t overturn it.

I don`t know if that would work, but we could try it, because we got to try something, right? There are things that are worth trying. But the mainline Democratic Party -- and, again, this goes back to our old friends, Joe "Koch Brother" Manchin and Kyrsten "Hiding in the Bathroom" Sinema.

(LAUGHTER)

MYSTAL: Like, these Democrats won`t do what is necessary.

Mondaire Jones has a bill that`s been supported in the Senate by Tina Smith and Ed Markey. Like, there are Democrats that are on the right side of this, but far too many of them are trying to go out there and hug Lindsey Graham, instead of fighting Lindsey Graham for control of the third branch of government.

REID: Melissa, the -- polls don`t mean everything. But, right now, these are different polls, but the Supreme Court is polling below the president, somewhere just above Congress.

If they lose the legitimacy that has typically come to the court because it is seen as the nonpartisan, the sort of just out-of-politics branch of government, let`s just say that people start to think, you know what, that`s bullshit, they are actually just a bunch of politicians who are just doing the same political stuff that Lindsey Graham is doing, what practical impact would that have?

If their legitimacy is just gone, what then?

MURRAY: Well, all the court has is its legitimacy. It`s unlike Congress or the president. It doesn`t have the power of the purse. It doesn`t have the power of the sword.

The only thing it has to make us, the public, comply with its orders, its decisions is this idea that we view it as legitimate. So I don`t think it`s a coincidence that you see these polling numbers, the lowest in the history of polling, about the Supreme Court, and you have these four justices hitting the circuit to tell us that they`re above politics.

They know what this means. They know they need the public to believe that the court is above the political fray. And, right now, it looks like the court is ideologically captured. And people recognize that, and they know that people recognize.

[19:40:10]

REID: Two of six of them have been accused of some form of sexual misconduct.

Beer guy, Gorsuch, all you all, the legitimacy ain`t there. And so if you`re going to tell women that they don`t have full rights in this country, good luck getting women to comply, because people are not going to keep complying if they don`t believe that what you`re doing is legitimate. Just saying. Free advice.

Elie Mystal, Melissa Murray, thank you very much.

Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is still ahead, as the right wing puts politics ahead of national security, because of course they are.

But, first, a whistle-blower calls out Facebook, saying it has betrayed our democracy. More on those startling accusations next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANCES HAUGEN, FORMER FACEBOOK PRODUCT MANAGER: The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was, there were conflicts of interests between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook over and over again chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.

[19:45:10]

The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Former product manager at Facebook turned whistle-blower Frances Haugen is making public her allegations about the social media giant`s role in spreading misinformation on what`s already shaping up to be a bad week for the tech company that was crippled by a massive global outage of its sites and apps for millions of users for much of today.

In sharing thousands of documents with "The Wall Street Journal" and Congress, Haugen had already exposed some of Facebook`s practices, including the company`s own internal research showing it added to political division and contributed to mental health issues in teenagers, especially girls.

In that "60 Minutes" interview, Haugen said that, for her former employer, it`s all about profit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAUGEN: One of the consequences of how Facebook is picking out that content today is, it is optimizing for content that gets engagement or reaction.

But its own research is showing that content that is hateful, that is divisive, that is polarizing, it`s easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions. Facebook has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they will click on less ads, they will make less money.

Facebook over and over again has shown it chooses profit over safety. It is subsidizing, it is paying for its profits with our safety.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Of course, Facebook`s role in getting the disgraced former president elected in 2016 is well documented, with his campaign`s own efforts and the assist he received from Russian misinformation.

Haugen told "60 Minutes" that Facebook reduced misinformation before Election Day last year, but then quickly switched course.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAUGEN: And as soon as the election was over, they turned them back off, or they changed the settings back to what they were before to prioritize growth over safety.

And that really feels like a betrayal of democracy to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Facebook responded in a statement saying -- quote -- "Every day, our teams have to balance protecting the right of billions of people to express themselves openly with the need to keep our platform a safe and positive place. We continue to make significant improvements to tackle the spread of misinformation and harmful content. To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true."

Tomorrow -- unquote -- tomorrow, Frances Haugen will testify before the Senate and will call for more regulation of Facebook.

With me now is Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, somebody who has been at the center of this fight with Facebook.

Rashad, it`s great to see you.

I want to read you one more thing that Ms. Haugen said. This is part of her written testimony for tomorrow`s hearing. This is what she says.

"When we realized tobacco companies were hiding the harms it caused, the government took action. When we figured out cars were safer with seat belts, the government took action." And she`s saying: "I implore you to do the same here."

What she seems to be describing is a lot of the way FOX News works, that you keep people angry and agitated. You keep them feeling that they`re constantly under threat from fellow Americans. And that actually makes them engaged more. The more you do conspiracy theories on masks or conspiracy theories on vaccines, the more people engage.

That definitely sounds like a toxic stew, especially during a lockdown, which we had last year. In your view, what could the government do to treat them more like we did with car companies?

RASHAD ROBINSON, PRESIDENT, COLOR OF CHANGE: Yes, I mean, we have done this before in this country.

And the fact of the matter is, an unregulated -- a self-regulated company is an unregulated company. And so the reason why the meat is safe on our counters inside of grocery stores, the reason why seat belts work in our cars is not because of benevolent cooperation. It`s because of accountability.

It`s because of infrastructure that holds these companies accountable. And we do not have 21st century infrastructure to deal with 21st century problems. Right now, in the reconciliation bill, there is a billion dollars to the FTC to actually deal with a new level of enforcement.

And, right now, we don`t have the right level enforcement. And it`s not just Facebook. It`s Google and YouTube. It`s Twitter. It`s all of these companies. The technology that is supposed to bring us into the future is dragging us into the past...

REID: Yes.

ROBINSON: ... into a past where companies can put their growth and their profit over safety, integrity and security.

REID: You met with Mark Zuckerberg like five times, I have here in my notes, the last time in June 2020.

And that was shortly before you all launched your Stop the Hate boycott. What did he say? Did he seem to understand the power that Facebook has over people and even over their mental health?

ROBINSON: I mean, they recognize the power. I mean, they have more followers than Christianity, 2.8 billion users.

And so to the extent that they understand the power, they understand what they have sort of in front of them, and the incentive structures, Joy, is the problem, that, time and time again, when we put policies on the table - - I have been inside the room with him with civil rights lawyers, some of the best in the country, where he`s argued with them about vote by mail, where he`s tried to problematize sort of solutions of solutions that we put on the table, but not really offer real solutions of their own.

[19:50:13]

I have been in conversations where they have claimed that they might have to ban groups for breast-feeding women if they ban white nationalist groups.

All of these things are at the heart of a company that gets to make its own rules, and gets to actually have a level of immunity that no industry gets to have in our country. And so that is actually what`s at stake in these conversations on Capitol Hill, because the fact of the matter is, is that Facebook will always find a reason to skirt the rules, to get around the rules.

And so, right now, we need the public, because we will always lose in the backrooms if we do not have people lined up at the front door.

REID: Yes.

ROBINSON: And more and more people have to stand up and push back to ensure these companies don`t continue to put us and our communities in harm`s way.

REID: Do you think they should be treated as a utility?

ROBINSON: I do think that they are a utility.

I absolutely think that that`s one. One piece of the puzzle is also the fact that Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook makes that -- makes it so that Facebook has over 70 percent of the messenger market.

REID: Yes.

ROBINSON: That gets us to monopoly-type status, where...

REID: Yes.

ROBINSON: ... today, when, the company goes down, right, you have people all around the world who rely on WhatsApp to just stay safe and to be in communication.

And we recognize that one person, Mark Zuckerberg, 60 percent of the shares, he`s chairperson and CEO. He has a company that thinks of itself as a public square. No single person should have that much authority over our democracy, over our economy. We wouldn`t allow it in any other industry.

And we have to stop allowing it now, because that will continue to put us in harm`s way. We think about what`s going to happen in 2022 in the election, 2024. Does anyone trust Facebook to have its act together in terms of all the misinformation and disinformation that`s going to be on their platform?

If you do trust them, then I have got a bridge to sell you.

REID: I have a "Variety" headline here. This is Mark Zuckerberg saying that Trump`s inflammatory looting that, when he said when the looting starts, the shooting starts, he said that did not violate their Facebook policy.

And so that -- I mean, that`s the kind of thing you`re talking about. I mean, they`re -- Donald Trump in his friends are complaining loudly that they got pushed off Twitter. But, ultimately, that was the one way to sort of reduce the threat of the things that he was saying.

Do you think that these companies are doing enough just in terms of banning certain individual people? Or do you think that, really, they just need to have that regulated and not make those decisions themselves?

ROBINSON: Well, there`s rules on these platforms about what gets you banned.

REID: Yes.

ROBINSON: And Donald Trump kept violating those rules.

I remember being on a meeting with Mark Zuckerberg, and I was like, these are the four corners of your policy, and Donald Trump continues to violate them.

REID: Yes.

ROBINSON: And then you call him on the phone and tell him to tone it down. That has to stop.

It`s two different sets of rules. And that is part of why we actually need real regulation and real accountability.

REID: Yes.

To quote Stephanie Ruhle, when you have a service that you get to use for free, you are not the customer, you are the product. And people need to understand, we are the product when you are using those social media companies` products. Social media.

Thank you very much, Rashad Robinson. Really appreciate you.

OK, and don`t go anywhere. Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is straight ahead, with conservatives deliberately putting our national security at risk for the sake of scoring a few political points for themselves.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:03]

REID: In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission found that one of his country`s vulnerabilities was that many key national security positions in the Bush administration were vacant.

Only 57 percent of those positions were filled on the day of the attack. Twenty years later, only 26 percent of President Biden`s choices for those same critical Senate-confirmed national security posts have been filled. So what`s the holdup?

Look no further than these two presidential wannabes, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, putting their own ambitions ahead of the country`s national security. Our system of government doesn`t allow any senator to completely block a presidential nominee, but it does allow them to unilaterally slow the process to a near halt, requiring hours of debate on each of the hundreds of Senate-confirmed positions.

Ted "Cancun" Cruz of the oil state of Texas is a longtime instructor, demanding that President Biden sanction Russia`s Nord Stream II pipeline project or he will continue to slow-roll the nominees. And Josh "Don`t Cancel Me" Hawley jumped on the bandwagon more recently, vowing to block all national security nominees over the Biden administration`s handling of getting out of Afghanistan, insisting he will not budge unless the secretary of state, secretary of defense and national security adviser all resign.

Yes, OK. We have already seen some real-world consequences of this obstruction in Afghanistan. When the withdrawal began, there was no Senate- confirmed ambassador to the country. And the senior State Department position overseeing that region of Asia was also vacant. It`s also a problem the State Department is facing all over the globe.

Can we go ahead and put up that list of all the ambassadors that have been confirmed so far? Can we put that up? Hold on a second. Hey, guys. Can you put up the rest of the list? Can you put the rest of the list up? Oh, that`s all? Oh, OK. So only two ambassadors have been confirmed so far. They can`t even approve Biden`s ambassador to Canada.

The hypocrisy of these two senators, criticizing Biden`s foreign policy, while at the same time kneecapping Biden`s foreign policy, would be astonishing, if it wasn`t coming from these two, who encouraged those who eventually stormed the Capitol on January 6.

Let`s not forget Josh Hawley showing his support that day to those MAGA fanatics outside the Capitol with a fist up before the violence began. Also, as The Daily Beast points out, both of these two losers in the Senate show ponies were active supporters of a Trump administration that attacked the national security establishment in other ways, leaving key posts unfilled, so that power would be concentrated with people whose loyalty was to the Donald, rather than to the country.

Remember, key aspects of U.S. foreign policy were left in the hands of people like Stephen Miller, Richard Grenell, and John Ratcliffe.

So, maybe it shouldn`t come as any surprise that Cruz and Hawley are yet again showboating. And that`s what it is, ahead of a potential presidential run.

But it comes at a cost. You don`t mess with national security. It`s a lesson Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley have failed to learn in the 20 years since September 11. And that`s why they are tonight`s "Absolute Worst."

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.