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Transcript: The ReidOut, 10/7/21

Guests: Claire McCaskill, Kurt Bardella, David Plouffe, Vivek Murthy


1/6 select committee subpoenas far-right activist Ali Alexander; 1/6 select committee issues new subpoenas; Senate judiciary committee releases report on Trump and allies pressuring DOJ to overturn election; GOP Representative Biggs falsely claims we don`t know who won the 2020 election in Arizona; Trump and allies stonewalling 1/6 select committee; Trump urges allies to defy 1/6 select committee subpoenas.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing, Ari. No wine tips, what? Fix that man, get some wine tips going.


REID: Get them going. All right, thank you very much. Have a good evening.

Good evening, everyone. We are following several major stories tonight, including late night ruling halting Texas`s darn near abortion ban and bounty hunter law. And within the hour, if all goes as planned, the Senate will vote to temporarily raise the debt limit avoiding total economic catastrophe.

But we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with new developments from the House select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. Late today, the committee issued subpoenas to two individuals and one organization involved in planning one of the rallies that precipitated the Capitol attack.

Among the targets is Ali Alexander, the key organizer of the so-called Stop the Steal effort who reportedly went into hiding after January 6th. Alexander alluded to the possibility of violence in the weeks leading up to insurrection. And on the night before, he even led the crowd in a chant of victory or death. The most significant is that Alexander is the one, as you may recall, who implicated three sitting members of Congress in planning the events of that day.


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.


REID: Meanwhile we`re learning more and more about the insurrection -- more and more that the insurrection was really just the endgame of a long planned attempt to overthrow the duly elected president before he could be sworn in. A 400-page interim report from the Senate Judiciary Committee makes it clear step by step how Donald Trump planned to pressure and coerce the Justice Department into joining his effort to overturn the election. It reveals that were it not for a handful of DOJ officials, Trump`s power grab could have ended democracy as we know it.

Among other things, the report details a three-hour meeting on January 3rd, in which Trump threatened to replace acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. According to Rosen, Trump opened that meeting by telling him that one thing we know is you aren`t going to do anything to overturn the election.

In Rosen`s place, Trump wanted to install Jeffrey Clark, a lackey who would back his baseless claims of voter fraud. And if Clark`s name sounds familiar it`s because he is the guy who pushed the DOJ to send letters to officials in Georgia and other states asking them to void their election results.

In other words, Trump wanted the top law enforcement agency in the country to lend its credibility to the big lie, a move that would have sparked a constitutional crisis or worse. That crisis was only averted because all of the other DOJ officials in the room made it clear that all of the assistant attorneys general would resign if Trump replaced Rosen with Clark.

Even Trump`s White House Council Pat Cipollone, threatened to resign, calling Trump`s plan to issue Clark`s letter a murder/suicide pact because of the chaos that it would unleash.

All of this played out behind closed doors just three days from January 6th, and it represents just a fraction of what the committee uncovered. It`s further proof not only of Trump`s personal disgrace and desperation to claim the power but also his complete contempt for the democratic principles this country tells the world that it stands for.

And that is not hyperbole. Trump compromised the independence of the DOJ, he defied the constitutional limits on executive power and subverted the electoral process. And don`t take my word for it. Trump`s own lawyer, John Eastman, put it in writing providing a literal blueprint for how to pull off a coup in America.

All of these abuses beg the question, who is going to hold Donald Trump accountable? Because as we speak, Trump is stonewalling legitimate inquiries into his conduct while perhaps planning to try it again. He`s instructing his allies and former officials to defy the lawful subpoenas from the select committee. In fact, today, today marked the deadline for four of those subpoenaed aides to turn over documents ahead of their scheduled hearing next week.

Joining me now, former Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Glenn Kirschner, former Federal Prosecutor, and Kurt Bardella, Adviser for the DCCC. Thank you all for being here.

Glenn, I`m going right to the center of my screen here, I`m talking to you, because the stakes in those subpoenas next week seem to me to be pretty big ,because if those officials, those Trump officials don`t show up the way that they did during impeachment, if they just ignored those subpoenas, what needs to happen in order for us to essentially still have a rule of law in this country?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, there are three vehicles for Congress to enforce its subpoenas. Civil enforcement, I would say, let`s just throw that one out because that`s what they tried with Don McGahn, Joy, and he ran out the clock for more than two years and he was never compelled by a court to testify. He ultimately negotiated some very favorable terms of behind closed doors testimony.

That leaves two alternatives. One, criminal contempt, what the Congress can do is vote out a contempt against the witness who fails to appear, refer it to the Department of Justice.


And then the law says that the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, quote, has a duty to present the matter to the grand jury for its action. What does that action look like? A criminal indictment for contempt of Congress. And that can be used as a vehicle to force a witness to testify or send him to prison for a year if he declines.

The third option that I hope Congress will seriously consider is its inherent power of contempt. It was last used in the 1920s and `30s, used successfully by Congress, and the Supreme Court has affirmed that it`s a lawful tool in Congress` toolbox. When it comes to a guy like Steve Bannon, who there can be no claim of executive privilege for, he left the administration in August of 2017. I hope Congress seriously considers using its power of inherent contempt and force him to testify because not all contemptuous witnesses are made equal.

REID: Yes. And, you know, let`s go on to some of the newer subpoenas. Claire, I`m going to start with you on this. So, Ali Alexander, he has been one of the more interesting figures in this attempted coup on the country because he has bragged that he had help, that he had help inside the Congress. He`s one of the organizers of the so-called Stop the Steal. He has said that Congressman Andy Biggs, Congressman Mo Brooks and Congressman Paul Gosar helped him plan his D.C. rally, which was not the ellipse rally, it was a different D.C. rally.

Speaking of Andy Biggs, let me let you listen to him today. He had an exchange with Congressman Jamie Raskin that I think you will find interesting.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I hear him not even to be accepting the results of this audit, which say that Joe Biden got more votes than were lawfully reported. Do you accept this audit which showed that Joe Biden won and indeed by more votes than --

REP. ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ): That is not what the audit concluded, Mr. Raskin.

RASKIN: Who won the election in Arizona? Donald Trump --

BIGGS: We don`t know. Because as the audit -- it demonstrates very clearly, Mr. Raskin, there are a lot of issues with this election that took place.

RASKIN: Madam Chair, there is the problem that we have. Donald Trump refuses to accept the results. And, unfortunately, we have one of the world`s great political, parties which has followed him off of the ledge of this electoral lunacy.


REID: Claire, it seems to me the logical next person to be subpoenaed would be Andy Biggs, if it was me. What do you think?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, all three of them. I mean, we have a witness who is now saying -- who has said publicly, if you are investigating this, that he was in coordination and cooperation with members of Congress.

Now, it may turn out after they`re subpoenaed and we get their testimony, that there was not anything that was beyond blind loyalty to a guy who doesn`t understand the rule of law or what our democracy is all about, but we now know that there is someone who planned this that says he was working with members of Congress. So, them trying to avoid saying what they know is just not going to come out in the wash.

And I will tell you this, Joy, having talked to some of the members, they are determined not to be trumped in this investigation, and by that I mean they are determined not to allow his acolytes to avoid the scrutiny they deserve by just running out the clock.

And I`ve said this before and give me just a second to say it again, if we have the majority and we can get it done, and I think we can get some Republicans, we must create a rocket docket in the courts for congressional subpoenas. If Congress is asking for information, they deserve to have the facts determined and a decision made by the courts immediately, before anything else is going on. And we`ve got to do that because this running out the clock is what`s really undermining everybody`s faith in this system.

REID: Yes. I mean, and, Kurt, the problem here is that you`re dealing with figures who are used to operating from the fringes that have now moved and eaten up and gobbled up the Republican Party. Ali Alexander is a fringe figure, if everybody has written anything about him. But used to be -- it use to be, so was Steve Bannon. He`s also on that subpoena list.

So, I mean, talk about how this ends up playing out because Republicans have already gotten away with defying subpoenas. They did it before during impeachment. So, what now?

KURT BARDELLA, DCCC ADVISOR: I mean, we spent the better part of four years of the Trump presidency watching Republicans any time a subpoena was issued by the Democratic majority go, we don`t care. They would literally call them fake subpoenas. They would say that we don`t have to even address these at all and they ran out the clock successfully. And all the while they were hailed these heroes for defying congressional oversight.


These same Republicans, by the way, who spent the entire eight years of Barack Obama`s presidency issuing subpoenas, having hearings, holding people like Eric Holder and contempt of Congress, thumping their chest every single time about America`s right to know, we have oversight responsibilities, that the path to truth runs through the oversight committee, it`s what Jim Jordan once said at a hearing, that was the standard that they set.

Now, that the shoe is on the other foot, Republicans are assuming that Democrats won`t do the things that Glenn Kirschner was just talking about, that they won`t invoke the inherent powers that they have to rightfully and lawfully enforce subpoenas to get to the truth.

And I`ll tell you, Democrats, if you didn`t learn the lesson during impeachment, if you didn`t learn the lesson from four years of Donald Trump and people like Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows basically telling you to go pound sand every time you invoke your authority, I don`t know what`s going to get you to wake up, but you need to. Because I will tell you, if we don`t use our authority now to get to the bottom of a domestic terrorist attack on our Capitol, if we don`t hold people accountable, if we don`t put people in jail, I don`t know what the point of a democracy is.

REID: I mean, Glen Kirschner, there is -- I mean, Article 3 of the 14th Amendments states that somebody who engaged in insurrection against the United States is actually not qualified to hold office. And I assume that goes all the way from Congress up to the president. There are active criminal investigations against Donald Trump. Georgia is going after him for interfering in their election. Walk us through a way in which Donald Trump could be legally held accountable.

This Senate memo, this committee memo, it makes it very clear that he had a formal plan to steal the election. The Eastman memo makes it clear. This investigation makes it clear. What could he be charged with, if anything? And is there a way to do that to keep him out of the Oval Office again?

KIRSCHNER: Great question, Joy. Yes, the way to hold him accountable is for the Department of Justice to indict him for the many crimes he inarguably committed.

Let`s just take one from the Senate Judiciary Committee`s recently released report, and I think you read the quote in your opening. He is quoted as saying about acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, quote, one thing we know is you, Rosen, aren`t going to do anything to overturn the election, close quote, and then Donald Trump threatened to bring in this character, Jeffrey Clark, who was willing to do Donald Trump`s corrupt and criminal bidding to try to overturn the election results.

And real quickly, Joy, you know, I don`t go anywhere without my big, ugly blue book of federal laws, the United States code. That quote from Donald Trump precisely violates a federal statute, 18 USC 610, coercion of political activities. And it`s very short. It shall be unlawful for any person to intimidate, threaten, command or coerce or attempt to intimidate, threaten, command or coerce any employee of the federal government to engage in or not engage in political activity.

It`s a three-year federal felony and what was just published by the Senate Judiciary Committee shows inarguably Donald Trump committed that crime. All that is left is for the Department of Justice to step up and indict the crimes we all know Donald Trump committed.

REID: And I guess the question then becomes, Claire, does Merrick Garland have it in him to do that? And there -- you know, I`ve been in a deep dive on the 14th Amendment today, Article 3, that some people believe it`s self- enforcing, that, in fact, Congress could enforce it against people like Mo Brooks and Andy Biggs and others who perhaps engage in insurrection, if it is found they did, right, if they were involved, Paul Gosar being the third. Do you believe Democrats in general have it in them to self-enforce if that`s the way to keep these people out of power or get them out of power?

MCCASKILL: It`s interesting, Joy, because what you`ve got here is you`ve got people who want to cling to the norms.

REID: Yes.

MCCASKILL: The norms are you don`t use the criminal law to go after political opponents. That`s the norm. But the problem is they`re dealing with someone who blew up all the norms and who we all know, if he got the chance, can you imagine how he would stack the DOJ? I mean, it took him a couple of years giving back his hand to people around him who were saying, you can`t do that. You shouldn`t do that. You can`t do that. And then finally he figured out, who cares, I`m going to do it anyway.

REID: That`s right.

MCCASKILL: Well, he would go into office on day one and he would stack DOJ with people like these yahoos and this clown car of lawyers that ran around the country making up lies.

So, I think that Garland -- and, by the way, the professional prosecutors at DOJ are the ones who stopped Donald Trump in that January 3rd meeting, they`ve got to like really take -- do a gut check here. I get it that we don`t like to use criminal law in a political context, but this is a context of saving the democracy and respecting the rule of law. And I think that`s the analysis they have to do and they have to go after Donald Trump for doing what is in plain sight.


REID: Yes, absolutely. I wish we had more time because I would do -- what would Republicans do, because in their place, you know, Kurt, the Republicans would waste no time.

BARDELLA: Three words, lock them up. That`s what they would do.

REID: That`s what they would do. Claire, we`ll be back later in the show. Thank you, Glenn Kirschner and Kurt Bardella.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, the draconian abortion law of Texas is blocked by a federal judge. Will this case become another test of Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court?

Plus, a live look at the Senate which, if all goes as planned, fingers crossed, is just moments away from voting to raise the debt ceiling, which would avert an economic catastrophe at least for now. But can we not do better than just kicking the can down the road?

Also, new evidence vaccine mandates work and might be the only way to get anti-vaxxers to take the jab.

Plus, the shocking new video showing just how far the anti-mask crowd is willing to go. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy joins me.

And tonight`s absolute worst, and racism becomes almost a prerequisite for advancement in today`s GQP.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: The nation`s strictest abortion law has been put on hold, at least for now.

A federal judge has blocked "The Handmaid`s Tale"-style Texas law that prevents women from ending pregnancies after six weeks, before many women even know that they`re pregnant, and puts lawsuit bounties on their and abortion providers heads.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman calls the law unconstitutional and writes -- quote -- "From the moment S.B.8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution. This court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right" -- unquote.

The state of Texas has already filed its intent to appeal the decision. While some Texas abortion providers say that they are providing full services again, others are hesitant because of a provision that Texas Republicans tucked into this bill for this very situation.

It basically states that anyone who performs an abortion or helps in the act, even while the law is temporarily blocked, would still be liable to being sued if the law is reinstated.

Joining me now is Michelle Goldberg, columnist for "The New York Times," and Joyce Vance, a former U.S. attorney.

And, Joyce, I`m going to start with you, because the appeal is in. Can you walk us through what the appeal, in theory, could be based on and how successful you think that appeal might be, given how conservative the Fifth Circuit is where they are taking this appeal?

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: So, there are a lot of moving parts in that question, Joy, but, essentially, the state of Texas has gone to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. And they will ask a three-judge panel in that court to rule a different way.

They will ask that court to go ahead and put the statute back in operation to remove Judge Pitman`s stay. Either they will win or they will lose their. It`s worth noting that only the Supreme Court can overrule Roe vs. Wade -- excuse me -- and the Fifth Circuit panel is obligated to follow Roe vs. Wade, which suggests that they should keep Judge Pitman`s stay in place if they follow the law.

But, either way, we`re likely to end back up in front of the Supreme Court, where this case could easily be joined with Dobbs, the Mississippi case that the court will hear this term that`s a full frontal challenge to Roe vs. Wade.

REID: And that is the ultimate nightmare, Michelle, that I worry about. And I don`t have any faith that it will not end with Roe vs. Wade being gone.

So, if the worst-case scenario happens, I wonder how much of an earthquake that winds up being among American women. Your thoughts, because this really could be it.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know, until the Supreme Court refused to stay this unbelievably outrageous Texas law the first time around, I had thought there was a chance that they might try to get Roe vs. Wade, instead of overturning it outright, because that`s a way that they can foreclose abortion rights, which are all but unavailable in many red states already, without creating exactly the kind of earthquake you`re talking about.

But their total disregard for precedent, their total kind of -- the total contempt with which they handled this whole thing, handing down this decision in the middle of the night to let this bill stand, makes me think that as much as some Supreme Court justices whine about their media coverage, which is kind of a new phenomenon, they actually don`t really care what most Americans think.

And so I would be actually very surprised if they don`t overturn Roe vs. Wade outright. And then I guess the question is what the American people, American women, Americans who believe in reproductive autonomy, what they do next.

So far, this issue hasn`t been getting people out into the streets like some other issues, I think, because people still find it really hard to believe that this could actually happen. But if it did happen, I would -- I would hope that that would be a flash point and a turning point in American politics.

REID: Yes.

Joyce, I mean, I think people have always thought of sort of Roe vs. Wade. You sort of think about the way Republicans think about it, that it`s like a car you don`t really want to catch, because having the issue makes their people vote. But once they actually do it, the real-world implications of having really angry female voters will be a backlash that they don`t want to deal with.

But I kind of feel like, Michelle, that they`re past that now, right? I mean, and if you look at the judges that Mitch McConnell engineered Donald Trump to sign into law, because that`s all he really wanted him for, to have his right hand or his tiny little fingers to sign them into law, let`s look at the Fifth Circuit, 17 judges on the 15th -- on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Twelve are Republican appointees. Only five are Democratic appointees, Trump appointed six of them, six of them. So this is a court that is sort of built to do the thing that far right has said this is their main voting thing. This is what they care about.


So, I wonder -- if we just assume Roe is going to be gone? What kind of judicial chaos might that unleash?

I wonder what next, you know, legally? Could women be arrested for having abortions? Like, how bad could this be?

VANCE: Losing Roe would change the entire landscape, Joy, because having Roe in place and protecting the rights of American people to obtain abortions prior to viability without any restriction has opened up a whole host of conduct, including, as you point out, the fact that the law can`t criminalize the conduct that the person who obtains the abortion engages in.

All of that could change if we lose Roe. And it`s worth noting that many of the Trump judicial appointees, when they were questioned in the Senate at their confirmation hearings, they would decline to agree to follow stare decisis, the binding notion of precedent in the American legal system, which says that all of the lower courts must follow Supreme Court cases and that even the Supreme Court honors long-standing precedent and doesn`t reverse it unless there are good, solid reasons to do that.

The example that was used in many of those confirmations was Brown vs. Board of Education, where you had this remarkable site of federal judicial nominees who refused to say that they believe that Brown was properly decided.

And so now that opens up the notion that, if Roe vs. Wade is fair game, what else? What else among our time-honored rights or perhaps even some of our newer rights might be vulnerable to a court that no longer holds these values in the same sort of sense that prior courts have?

REID: And I fear, Michelle, that the next is Brown. It`s being able to -- they also have a case about whether or not religious schools can get federal funding.

This was their big thing. They were angry that segregated schools couldn`t get federal funding. That was what they were really mad about in the `70s. Everything is on the table, affirmative action. I do feel like the courts are trying to remake the society into essentially their version, their "Handmaid`s Tale" fantasy of a right-wing dystopia.

GOLDBERG: Well, look, I think that, for the right, they think that the Warren court is where things started going wrong.

REID: Yes.

GOLDBERG: The John Birch Society, the forefathers of today`s Republican Party, they used to have these "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards.

And so, essentially, what they -- the modern right`s project for all these years going on, what is it, 60 years has been to reverse everything that the Warren court did. And I think that they are getting closer and closer to the culmination of that.

REID: Yes.

GOLDBERG: The day after Roe, 11 states, abortion will have -- 11 states will ban abortion immediately. They already have laws that will go into effect.

REID: Yes.

GOLDBERG: And I think it`s important to note that, in the past, women weren`t arrested that often when abortion was illegal, but that was before the right had recoded abortion as murder.

Abortion used to be the crime of abortion. Now they think it`s murder. So, I think women -- we are going to see women be arrested and go to prison.

REID: Yes. Yes, it`s going to get ugly. My nickname for what they want to do is repeal the 20th century. And I mean every advance of the 20th century. They`re trying to do it.

Michelle Goldberg, Joyce Vance, scaring is caring. Thank you very much.

Breaking news: The Senate is voting right now on a measure to avert a debt ceiling crisis, at least for now. But just wait and see how Republicans will use any additional time between tonight and potential financial fiscal Armageddon to tee up the next economic crisis in a couple of months.

More in a moment. Stay with us.



REID: OK, the Senate is voting right now to raise the debt ceiling and stave off a Republican-induced economic catastrophe, at least for now.

And if all goes as planned, fingers crossed, it will mean that, despite insisting that they would never, ever, ever, ever do so, Republicans were forced to help Democrats raise America`s borrowing limit by $450 billion, with their increased credit line to last until December 3.

So here`s the funny thing. We just spent weeks listening to the self- described Grim Reaper of the Senate lecture Democrats about how they had to do this alone, Republicans will take no part, no part in paying the country`s credit card bill, never.

The proud Kentucky peacock traipsed around the Senate with his cabal of followers and droned on about that very point recently.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): They need to do this. They have the time to do it. And the sooner they get about it, the better.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): They should deliver the votes to do it. And we will insist on that.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): I think it`s incumbent upon Democrats to raise the debt ceiling. They can do it. They need to get on with it.


REID: Except...


REID: Tonight, it turned out that the wiz -- you have all seen "The Wiz," right? -- he really doesn`t have any powers, just like Glinda tried to tell you all.

Now, I said this last night. I`m just going to say it again. How in the Lilliput can we take this party seriously? And here`s an interesting plot twist.

According to Politico, the supposedly all-powerful Republican underboss of the Senate toddled over to discuss his debt ceiling offer with two nominal Democrats. Can you get who? Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, phone calls early Wednesday morning, shortly after the idea of blowing up the filibuster became a real prospect, because that, that is what Mitch McConnell fears the most.

Republicans are not happy with this capitulation. Ted "Cancun" Cruz took to the floor to complain, because, really, that`s all he`s good at.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): In the game of chicken, Chuck Schumer won this game of chicken. As two trucks drove towards each other on a country road, one or the other was going to turn, or you were going to have a lot of dead chickens.

I wish Republicans hadn`t blinked. We shouldn`t have done that.


REID: How is that guy a United States senator?

Back with me, former Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri. And joining me now is former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.

And I`m sorry to make the Tucker face right now. I apologize for making the confused Tucker face, Claire, because in the scenario Ted Cruz described, you wouldn`t just get a whole lot of dead chickens. Both the drivers would be dead, if they`re driving toward each other.


Anyway, Mitch McConnell, I was saying to the team today, as we were on our calls for this segment that Mitch McConnell sort of tries to make himself seem all-powerful, but, in the end, he really is like -- more of like a John Boehner. He makes a lot of noise. But he doesn`t -- he`s not as effective as he advertises.

Can you walk us through how this works. Why is it -- in your view, as a former United States senator who knows Mitch McConnell, why did he give in? Did he fear his own, like, personal fortune was going to tank? Like, what do you think happened?

MCCASKILL: No, I think, first of all, the chickens that are going to be dead in the road are going to be people on Social Security.

They`re going to be Americans whose retirement accounts take major hits because of the economic meltdown if the Republicans forced this country to not pay their bills, not one dime of future spending here, not one dime. This is what they have already spent, and they spent it under Trump.

So the bottom line is that Mitch McConnell knows he doesn`t have a good hand. And the Democrats need to stick to their guns here, because, if the Republicans want to do this, I guarantee you he was getting pressure from people in his caucus. He was getting pressure from people in his own caucus going, really, we want to be the ones that kill the chickens, which are going to be the elderly in this country? We don`t want to be the ones killing the chickens.

And the beauty of the frustrating fight over the filibuster is Americans now understand that you can`t do much with just 50. So, Mitch McConnell can`t escape this and say, oh, we will let them take it over. Well, no, you can`t let them take it over, because you`re the one that is so hellfire bent on making sure everything has to get 60 votes.

REID: Yes.

I mean, David, the -- all of it is so dumb that, if it wasn`t such a potential catastrophe and so catastrophic, as Claire just described it, for the American people, our economy, our full faith and credit, you might have to laugh at it.

I mean, Donald Trump issues a -- one of his little statements, his little news -- his little whatever he calls them, his little memos, saying, don`t take this vote. Don`t let Mitch McConnell fold. Stand strong.

And that`s really probably the only reason that you just got that chicken statement from Ted Cruz, because he`s terrified of Donald Trump and has to be solicitous of him at all times.

They were willing to tank the economy to please Donald Trump, I guess. But, at the same time, the other piece of it, the fact that -- I think it was John Thune who said we don`t want our name on increasing the debt limit. They don`t care about the issue. They just don`t want -- they want to run ads saying only the other guys did it.

This is so irresponsible, David. I don`t know. If you have -- your comments. I`m just going to let you talk.

DAVID PLOUFFE, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Oh, it`s, for the most part, no longer a governing party.

Claire remembers there were times, even though it`s not like Washington was laughs and giggles when she was there, but you could get stepped down. But this party is now sworn to Trump. It`s sworn to nihilism. It`s sort to destroying our democracy.

The only reason McConnell blinked here at the last minute was, he probably heard for Manchin and Sinema, if he didn`t, they would consider a carve-out on the filibuster.

I actually think -- I`d like to see Democrats for the next 60 days not really talk about the debt limit. We have got better things to talk about. I think we should say, listen, the Republicans don`t want to pay Donald Trump`s bills. That`s outrageous. It`s hypocritical. But we will do the responsible thing. We will either do it with 10 Republican senators. We will do it on our own.

Because I want us out there talking about the jobs and the home health care, and the child care, and the roads that are going to be built, and the taxes are going to be raised on the wealthy. So I wouldn`t fall into this trap.

REID: Yes.

PLOUFFE: It`s an important issue, of course.

Claire and I went through this in 2011. I not trying to minimize it. But I would just basically shrug your shoulders and say, we will do this. I mean, these guys are deeply irresponsible. They`re deeply hypocritical, but that shouldn`t surprise us now.

But be out there. Every member of Congress, every Democratic senator, administration officials, governors and mayors, go out there, not just talking about what they`re going to do. But, also, the entire Republican Party is opposing these things that are deeply, deeply popular.

REID: And very quickly for both of you, and I will start with you, David.

As a strategist, should they just go ahead and do the debt limit increase, including some sort of a rule that won`t let McConnell do this again, and use the reconciliation vehicle, even though they know and the Republicans have admitted that they`re just going to run ads against them, that they`re going to try to pretend that all the past money, the $7 trillion tax cut that they -- that Donald Trump passed, that all of that was just Democrats?

Should they take the ads and not care and do this through reconciliation and pass something that doesn`t let them do this again?

PLOUFFE: Well, first of all, Democrats sometimes are always at a disadvantage, Joy, in these battles, because we actually care about the country and our economy and governing.


REID: Correct.

PLOUFFE: So -- and Republicans know that. Mitch McConnell knows that.

So, I think the preference would be to say, we need to do this with you. If you`re not going to do that with us, then we are going to carve out the filibuster, and, by the way, not just for the debt limit, for voting rights, and a whole host of things that the country needs.

I would do reconciliation as a last option. And that continues to put pressure on McConnell. So, that will require a Manchin and Sinema to play their roles, to say, you keep -- and to kick this -- this shouldn`t be something that we`re doing in six-month increments, much less two.

Let`s do this -- we should get rid of the debt limit entirely.

REID: Yes.

PLOUFFE: But if we`re not going to do that, let`s give two or three years breathing room, so that this isn`t hanging over our economy and it doesn`t dominate Washington.

So that would be my sense of it.

REID: And what do you think, Claire? Do you think the Democrats have it in them to do that? Can they go big and say, this is the punishment for having played this game with our economy?

We`re going to write rules that carve out the things that we promised to do. We`re going to carve out voting rights. We`re going to get immigration reform done, police reform done. We`re going to carve out a big old hole in the filibuster, and that`s the punishment. Can they do -- will they do?

MCCASKILL: Well, no, I don`t think they will.

But I will say this. I do think they have the opportunity here to say, unlike the Republicans, who spent big and won`t pay for it, we`re going to spend big on you, and we`re going to pay for it. We`re going to make people finally pay their share of taxes that they should be paying.

And in that process, you`re going to get child care, you`re going to get expanded Medicare, you`re going to get some things that this country is way behind its peer nations in. I mean, we are way behind on child care and other issues than other developed nations.

So, that`s what -- David`s right. That`s what we should be talking about, and let the chips fall where they may on the debt ceiling.

REID: Claire McCaskill, David Plouffe, thank you very much for watching this madness with us. Really appreciate it.

OK, still ahead: Anti-vax fanatics step up their campaign to harass and intimidate moms, moms who are taking their kids to elementary school.

We will be right back.



REID: OK, we have some good news to share with you tonight for a change. A miracle vaccine has emerged.

No, no, no, not that one, this time, a vaccine for malaria, the disease that kills almost half-a-million people every year, nearly all of them in sub-Saharan Africa. The World Health Organization has endorsed the vaccine, a breakthrough to be celebrated, given more than -- given that more than 260,000 African children under the age of 5 die from malaria annually.

Meanwhile, in America, it is quite the opposite, where a growing movement to reject they safe, free and lifesaving vaccine, this one for COVID, is growing louder by the day, taking over school boards and taking its cues from Tucker Carlson by harassing elementary school children and their parents.

This heated exchange took place yesterday at an elementary school in Beverly Hills.


PROTESTER: This is rape. This is rape. They`re trying to rape our children with this poison. They`re going to rape their lives away.

PROTESTER: Masking children is child abuse!


PROTESTER: You mask your child, you`re a child abuser!


PROTESTER: Yes. Well...


You better respect my child.


REID: The Beverly Hills Unified School District does not require vaccinations, though Los Angeles has announced a vaccine mandate will now apply to indoor spaces, including for those Laker games.

Joining me now is U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

Dr. Murthy, thank you for being here. General Murthy. I think I call you General, right?


REID: And I love your uniform.

So, I mean, when you see something like that, I saw the malaria -- the WHO saying there`s a malaria vaccine, and I`m like, this is a miracle, because I have family members on the continent. I know malaria is a very, very big deal, especially for children. And I have had family members have it.

And so I feel like that is the normal reaction when there`s a vaccine that can save lives. How have you processed the fact that there`s been almost the opposite reaction, well, really literally the opposite reaction, to the COVID vaccine in so many circles?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, this is really striking, as you said, Joy.

For a moment, let`s talk about the malaria vaccine. This is such a big deal for a couple of reasons, one, because as you mentioned, half-a-million people die each year from malaria. The vast majority of them are outside the United States. So, we may not pay as much attention to it. But this is a big deal globally.

REID: Yes.

MURTHY: The fact that 260,000 of them are children who lose their lives under the age of 5...

REID: Yes.

MURTHY: ... I mean, that should trouble all of us, regardless of which country we live in.

The fact that we have now a vaccine, potentially, that can help those individuals, it`s a big deal. But, also, this is the first vaccine that we have against a parasite, not just the first vaccine against malaria, but against a parasite.

So, this hopefully is a sign of more to come. But it`s a reminder of a couple things, one, that science is important.

REID: Yes.

MURTHY: We have got to remember that science doesn`t just happen in a vacuum.

REID: Yes.

MURTHY: We have got fund it. We have got to support it.

The other thing it reminds us of is that we have got to not only do the science well, but we have got to manufacture, distribute these vaccines and make sure people have accurate information about them.

My concern about what`s happening here in the United States is that while there was some -- a lot of initial enthusiasm of vaccines, and while the vast majority people in the U.S. still are very supportive of vaccines...

REID: Yes.

MURTHY: ... we have seen a growing wave of misinformation about vaccines that has led many people to make decisions that are actually contrary to their best interests and their family`s well-being.

REID: I mean, I think about the fact that more people died this year, when we have a vaccine, than died last year, when we didn`t.

I mean, I have a statistic here that 140,000 kids lost a caregiver to COVID, 140,000 kids who lost -- who have no parent. And with those kind of numbers, it is shocking to me that we`re losing -- we`re actually sort of losing more people after there`s a vaccine.

Is that -- that`s got to be dispiriting.

MURTHY: Well, so this is a really good point, because, if you generally hear that statistic, you might say, well, does this mean vaccines don`t work, because we lost more people this year than last year?

But here`s what`s the important thing to know. If you look at the people who are, number one, in hospitals right now and who are dying, the vast majority of them are unvaccinated.


REID: Exactly.

MURTHY: The other important thing to remember is that we are dealing this year with the most contagious variant of COVID that we have had to date, much more contagious than what we had last year.

And that means that, even though we have more than 213 million people in this country who`ve had at least one dose of the vaccine, the 67 million people who are not vaccinated are even at more risk, because, again, we have a more transmissible, contagious variant.

REID: Meaning that it -- exactly, because these feel like deaths by choice.

These are not deaths because there was nothing that could be done. Last year, when there was no vaccine, lots and lots of people were dying, we reached this incredible milestone of half-a-million deaths, but there was no vaccine. This year, there`s something that can be done.

It`s shocking to me that people would essentially choose to get sick and allow their kids to potentially get sick and die. I have never seen anything like that. Have you?

MURTHY: Well, yes, this is -- it`s obviously deeply concerning.

And it`s very different from the kind of anti-vaccine sentiment that we saw and have seen with measles vaccines and with other vaccines. What`s different here is just the profound explosion of misinformation...

REID: Yes.

MURTHY: ... the polarization and politicization in many ways of the broader COVID effort and the COVID vaccines.

This has not served as well. I do think there -- we -- in general, people around the country, whether they`re supportive of vaccines or not, they have the same goal. They want to be safe. They want to keep their kids and their families safe.

But I believe also that people have a right to have accurate information to make their decisions. The fact that many people don`t, I think, has really compromised their ability to make good decisions.

And where do we see a lot of this misinformation being spread? Sadly, we see it on social media and other tech platforms.

REID: Yes.

MURTHY: That`s why we released from my office a surgeon general`s advisory earlier this summer on the harms of health misinformation, saying that technology companies have a moral responsibility to step up and to make sure that they are limiting the spread of misinformation, because it`s costing people their lives.

REID: Yes.

It`s costing people their lives. And it also is what is behind people behaving in such ugly ways in public, including in front of children, screaming at children, screaming at parents because they choose to wear a mask. I know somebody who was recently screamed at on the subway for wearing a mask.

It`s as if people not only want to take these crazy risks themselves, but they want to demand that we -- that we take the risks too. So how can we communicate with people? Is there even a possibility to win people back who are there, in your view?

MURTHY: So, absolutely.

And I say that because I have actually talked to people, a number of people, over the last many months who have been disinclined to take a vaccine, but, after an honest, open conversation, they reconsider, and, in some cases, change their mind.

REID: Yes.

MURTHY: But here`s what it takes.

I think, number one, it takes people hearing from people they know and trust, from family and friends, from their doctors, from their faith leaders. Number two, it takes people -- when you talk to folks who are concerned, you have got to listen to them.

And you have got to not be judgmental. No one`s mind was ever changed with judgment, right? And that`s, I think, one thing we have to remember. And, third, it takes some people time. You won`t always change people`s minds in the first conversation, something that we learned early on in medicine, that, when you`re trying to talk to a patient...

REID: Yes.

MURTHY: ... about an illness, about a treatment, sometimes, it takes several rounds.

This is challenging, tough work. But one thing I will say that you alluded to, which I think is very insightful...

REID: Yes.

MURTHY: ... which is that the harms of misinformation are not just people not taking a vaccine.

REID: Right.

MURTHY: It also contributes to a feeling of more polarization and division among people.

REID: Yes.

MURTHY: It pits people against one another.

And without being together, unified, supporting one another, it`s very hard to get through adversity.

REID: Yes. Yes.

MURTHY: So, that, again, is another major consequence of misinformation.

REID: It also helps to have your personality, instead of mine, because I`m like I want to yell at people.

But you have a great personality. Maybe I will just take you with me when I want to talk to people about this.


REID: U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, you`re great. Thank you very much. I will try to learn from you.

We will be right back.


MURTHY: We can go on the road together.




REID: In 2017, Jane Mayer reported that the former second in command at conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA, Crystal Clanton, sent a text to another staffer that read -- quote -- "I hate black people. Like, F them all. I hate blacks, end of story."

Now, the right goes on a lot about cancel culture, but there was a time when, despite lots of weirdly dog whistles, Republicans and conservatives generally drew the line at somebody just blatantly saying, I hate black people. I mean, there was the notion that some conservative black people might actually want to sign up and open racism is kind of a deal-breaker for recruitment. So maybe just don`t say that kind of thing.

Indeed, Clanton did leave Turning Point USA. And after declining to comment originally, she told Mayer that she had no recollection of those messages, and they did not reflect her beliefs.

But that was not the end of the story. In fact, the story gets kind of weird, because Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who, of course, is a black people, hired her one year later. Media even reported that Ms. Clanton actually flaunted her relationship with the Thomases to conservative friends as a way to prove that the "New Yorker" article hadn`t taken her down, hadn`t harmed her career.

And, in a weird way, in today`s Republican Party, it`s actually kind of the opposite. Clanton was recently awarded a prestigious clerkship with a federal judge. And she wasn`t the only one accused of racism at Turning Point.

Mediaite reports that numerous sources who worked with Clanton detailed how she would exchange racist remarks regularly with other Turning Points staffers.

And then there`s Turning Point founder and annoying orange Charlie Kirk, who was technically in charge of that work environment. And all of that must be probably just coincidental, right, and not indicative of anything going on amongst the far right.

Well, except that Kirk is currently on an anti-Critical Race Theory tour across the country, where he not only called George Floyd a scumbag, but he lamented that Minnesota has changed since it was built by Scandinavians, noting it`s now being destroyed.

Um, Scandinavians?

Oh, and the hits keep coming. The Republican Party of Virginia sent out mailers that show black state delegates with ropes around them. Well, they, of course, say that racism wasn`t their intent. Matt Gaetz has endorsed Tucker Carlson`s white Replacement Theory, and a candidate for lieutenant governor of Georgia said people who move to Georgia must assimilate into our values and culture -- the question, of course, being who is our?

So, for not even trying to hide it anymore, the openly racist elements of the Republican Party are tonight`s "Absolute Worst."

And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT.