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Transcript: The ReidOut, 11/15/21

Guests: Kurt Bardella, Pete Buttigieg


Bannon surrenders on contempt charges. Biden signs $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. Rittenhouse jury deliberations to begin tomorrow. Closing arguments in Kyle Rittenhouse trial. Judge dismisses underage weapons charge. Judge says jurors can consider provocation and lesser charges. Rittenhouse prosecutor say you lose the right to self-defense when you brought the gun. Defense attorney claims every person who was shot was attacking Kyle. Former Trump White House Chief of Staff defying subpoena.




ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for watching THE BEAT with Ari Melber. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid is up next. Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing, Ari? Thank you very much. Have a great evening.

All right, good evening, everyone. We have a lot to get to on this very busy Monday. Former Trump Adviser Steve Bannon surrendered to FBI agents this morning and later appeared in court to face criminal contempt charges for defying a congressional subpoena.

And this afternoon President Biden celebrated a major achievement at the White House surrounded by a group of bipartisan lawmakers. He signed into law a massive infrastructure bill that will invest billions of dollars into roads, and ports, broadband internet, clean water and a lot more. And we`re going to get to both of those developments.

But we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the closing arguments in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Just minutes ago, jurors were handed the case and the fate of Kyle Rittenhouse`s future now rests in their hands. Earlier today, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger delivered the dramatic closing arguments for the prosecution. He argued that Rittenhouse was in a state of liven carrying a gun he shouldn`t have and pretending to guard an empty business he had no connection to and even lied about being an EMT. He argued that Rittenhouse was no hero.


THOMAS BINGER, KENOSHA COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Now you`ve heard the everyday and it`s time to search for the truth. So, consider, for example, whether or not it`s heroic or honorable to provoke and shoot unarmed people. Consider it, whether it makes someone a hero when they lie about being an EMT.

In this entire sequence of events from the shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday, August 23rd, 2020 all the way after that, everything this community went through, the only person who shot and killed anyone was the defendant.


REID: After shooting Joseph Rosenbaum several times, Rittenhouse took off running as the crowd grappled with the prospect of an active shooter, Rittenhouse lied to the crowd and told them that Mr. Rosenbaum had pulled a gun.


BINGER: The defendant flees, callously disregarding the body of the man that he just shot and killed. And as he`s running off, he`s lying to the crowd about what just happened. This is exhibit number 12.


REID: Earlier in the day, the prosecution asked the judge to let the jury consider lesser charges if they move to acquit on the original counts. The judge agreed. Rittenhouse`s attorney unleashed a viscous rebuttal calling the prosecution`s case garbage and a rush to judgment.



The District Attorney`s Office is marching forward with this case because they need somebody to be responsible. They need somebody to put and say we did it, he`s the person who brought terror to Kenosha. Kyle Rittenhouse is not that individual. The rioters, the demonstrators who turned into rioters, those are the individuals who bring us forth.


REID: This has been one of the strangest trials in recent history, just to be honest, with Bruce Schroeder`s odd behavior taking center stage. Just moment before the jury, was set to hear the closing arguments, he dismissed a count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18, a misdemeanor that had appear to be among the likeliest of a charges to net a conviction for prosecutors. And here is one of the instructions that he gave jurors on the question of self-defense.


JUDGE BRUCE SCHROEDER, KENOSHA COUNTY, WISCONSIN: When you address the charged crime, if in your discussions you conclude that the elements are present and the defendant was not acting lawfully in self-defense, then you need not go further. You can return your verdict of guilt based upon that conclusion. If in your discussions as to any individual count of those with multiple possible verdicts in your initial discussion if you decide that the defendant acted lawfully in self-defense, you`re done and you can return to that guilty verdict without considering the lesser offenses.


REID: Now, through this trial, the judge has issued rulings that seemed to favor the defense. He yelled at the prosecutor and forbade the state from referring to the people killed by Kyle Rittenhouse as victims, ruling the terms is too, quote, loaded. He also made a joke about Asian food and his phone rang during a trial playing a (INAUDIBLE) that`s been heard a Trump rallies because that is just the kind of trial that this has been.


And with this trial now nearing its end, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said that 500 National Guard members will be prepared for duty in Kenosha if local law enforcement requests them.

Joining me now, Paul Butler, former Federal Prosecutor and Georgetown Law Professor, and Katie Phang, Trial Attorney and MSNBC Legal Contributor.

And I just have to ask you, Paul, because I watched a lot of trials going back to the O.J. trial when I was just watching it as an interested observer, not a journalist, I`ve never seen anything like this, especially the instructions to the jury that became this whole other sort of mini-trial without the jurors present. Can you please try to explain to us what happened there had and what this judge was doing and whether it was normal?

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I`m glad you didn`t ask me to explain the judge`s instructions because I could not do that. I`ve tried a bunch of cases as a prosecutor. I`ve taught criminal law school for years. I didn`t understand half of what the judge was saying.

REID: I didn`t either. Okay, good. At least it wasn`t me. I thought maybe I just didn`t go to law school to understand it.

Katie, could you make any better sense of it? Because -- so the thing is that I don`t understand. Having -- you know, I`ve been in a grand jury. Normally, lesser includeds are the way prosecutors kind of guarantee conviction, because if they can`t get you on the top charge, there are all these lesser included things that they could actually -- the jury could then consider, say, maybe I don`t think you murder the person but I think you did reckless endangerment or manslaughter. He essentially said wipe it all out if you think he acted in self-defense in the charge. Did that strike you as strange?

KATIE PHANG, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: It did. And, you know, what we`ve noticed is that, he doesn`t like to read stuff and he really should because there is a reason why the jury instructions have been printed out for everyone to be able to see. The way that he has these random rambling dissertations from the bench trying to explain key concepts of law is really where this trial has gone totally awry.

But with regards to the lesser included, you can`t just make the summary statement from the bench that if you find it it was self-defense and it completely eradicates all the lesser includeds and the fact he`s allowed lesser included should be given to the jury. I think that there`s been inconsistent behavior, conduct and rulings from the bench, even recently we just saw some stuff that was going during closing arguments.

But I think that the jury is sufficiently confused and that`s what gets scary when you`re a prosecutor. If you got a jury that`s confused, sometimes the easy out is to just let it go. And that is the real fear that the prosecution has at this time.

REID: Absolutely. And, Paul, especially when you`re talking about a teenager who -- he`s going -- there`s 18 jurors right now in the pool. It will go to 12. Just the math tells you this could be an all-white jury. There is only one black person in the pool. So, he might get an all-white jury of people to whom, to them, he looks like their son, right? And so now the question is what do you believe is more logical?

This was -- let me play a little bit of what the prosecutor said. This is Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger, and he talked about who provoked the initial reaction with Joseph Rosenbaum. This is cut one. Listen to that.


BINGER: They know you can`t claim self-defense against an unarmed man like this. You lose the right to self-defense when you`re the one who brought the gun, when you`re the one creating the danger.


REID: And then he shows all this video that I thought was actually very powerful in showing that Rittenhouse shoots Mr. Rosenbaum and then he runs and then the crowd starts pursuing him thinking he`s an active shooter. And so there are people there who have their own guns because they`re thinking I`m going to approach this danger. He`s the active shooter. People ask him, did you shoot someone? Did you shoot someone? And then he reacts to that with the second two people.

Think about the mindset this person has just killed one person. And then when two other people approach him, he shoots one of their arm almost off and he shoots the third and kills him.

And so what the prosecutor I thought pretty effectively argued is that he`s the only one who is dangerous in this situation. The other people are not attacking him. He`s the danger. Did that strike you as a strong argument?

BUTLER: It did. You know, the judge, as we noted, has been extremely tough on the prosecution but he finally cut them a break with this provocation instruction. If the jury finds that Rittenhouse was the initial aggressor, then he can`t claim self-defense. So, in closing, the prosecutor spent a lot of time arguing that it was Rittenhouse who started the fight and that it was really his victims who had the right to self-defense, not the defendant.

So, the jury will decide based on the witness testimony and video. It`s all open to interpretation. One witness said that this first victim, Rosenbaum, threatened to kill Rittenhouse but the prosecutor said today that never happened.

Another government witness said that Rosenbaum lunged for the gun but the prosecution witnesses said -- another prosecution witness said that Rosenbaum was a babbling idiot who was harmless.


So, during jury deliberations, the jury will have to decide who it believes.

But, Joy, I agree with what you said in the beginning, that this was a good day for the prosecution. If it had tried the whole case as strongly as it delivered its closing, then Mr. Rittenhouse would soon be on his way to state prison.

REID: You know, that reminds me of, Paul, you know what I`m saying, the Zimmerman trial was like that. The whole time I think where do the prosecutors go to school? And then in the end, they delivered these wonderful closings but they had already done so poorly going in. And, anyway, we`ll see how, if it turns out differently.

Katie, let me let you talk about what the defense was doing. Because they seem to be trying this as a political case trying to appeal to any sort of Fox News viewers on the jury, let`s just be blunt, who might think when the looting starts, the shooting starts is a good thing to say, you know what I mean? And if they characterized the people who were shot as the bad guys and you think this guy is a hero like the people at that other network do, that`s your jurors.

So, let`s play a little bit -- this is Mark Richards, is the name of the attorney, and this is what he had to say.


MARK RICHARDS, RITTENHOUSE ATTORNEY: If they want to be the heroes and they want to beat somebody and do what they`re going to do to them, they better be right, and they weren`t. Kyle Rittenhouse shot Mr. Rosenbaum because he was attacking Kyle. Every person who was shot was attacking Kyle.


REID: Okay. I`m going to ask what you make of that argument, Katie.

PHANG: Okay. Let`s be clear. You don`t have to have a judgment about whether or not the protests were good or bad. What they did on the defense is they basically wanted to inflame the jury to think that it was totally fine for Kyle Rittenhouse to come in on his white horse, this knight on the white horse to save that community of Kenosha, which he had no business being there in the first place, right?

So, putting aside whether or not you want to have a qualitative value judgment about what was going on in terms of those protests, Kyle Rittenhouse`s behavior had to be reasonable that evening in question. And he was not physically harmed. You have two dead people, multiple injured others. And the reality is, it was hands, feet, a skateboard. Hands, feet and a skateboard versus an AR-15, that`s what that was.

The thing that we heard in the rebuttal close I think that really made sense and that would counter what the defense was attempting to do today was the fact that they called Rittenhouse a chaos tourist. Kind of reminds you a little bit about the January 6th insurrection, right? This idea that you had people that showed up armed to do harm, and that is exactly what Kyle Rittenhouse did as a chaos tourist. He showed up, he didn`t mean to improve the community, and you know what, if the jury listens to the law and applies the facts and the evidence to the law, then they should be able to come back with at least one conviction. Because, remember, each victim is separate count. It`s not all of the victims under one count. And so the prosecution actually has more than one bite of the apple to be able to convict Kyle Rittenhouse.

REID: Yes. And last word to you on this, Paul, because here is the sort of elephant in the room. You know, all of the people involved in this are white, you know, and the thing I noticed was not said and I saw it on the paper but never said out loud by the prosecutor was Black Lives Matter was involved. He left that characterization aside.

And so in this case, I hate to say it, if the victims were black, I would be 100 percent sure how this case would ended, I would be, at least in my own mind. But in this case, it`s complicated a little bit because the people who he shot were members of the community who also somebody could maybe relate to. Do you think that that ends up mattering because race is off the table here in terms of this jury?

BUTLER: So, this was a protest about Black Lives Matter situation in which African-American person was killed by a white officer or was shot by a white officer. The through line between the Rittenhouse case and the Georgia case of Ahmaud Arbery`s killers is guns. How many Americans are walking around strapped down with firearms trying to act like cops, paying more attention to black people, trying to guard people`s property or police protests march. And these people knowingly put themselves in harm`s way and when they do that, they then say they feel threatened and use their guns to kill.

And the concern, Joy, is that the defendants are allowed to get away with this we should expect to see more cases of armed vigilantism just like this.

REID: And as you, this sort of -- yes, this is the society they`re trying to create, this sort of violent tourism, wherever you want to go and you be the police, that is what everyone should fear. Paul Butler, Katie Phang, thank you all both very much.


Up next on THE REIDOUT, Steve Bannon surrenders to face charges of contempt of Congress as Trump`s inner circle in just closer to accountability for January 6th.

Plus, President Biden signs the government`s massive investment in infrastructure but Republicans want to punish -- they want to punish the handful of their party members who supported it, you know, punishing for getting bridges for their own community.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joins me on this historic day for the Biden administration.

And tonight`s absolute worst, they`re actually trying to destroy democracy. Now, one of Trump`s tough guy wants the government to dictate how you worship.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: The wheels of justice may turn slowly but they are turning when it comes to the select committee investigation of January 6th. Steve Bannon surrendered the federal authorities this morning after being criminally indicted on Friday on charges of contempt of Congress. And no surprise, he gave us a self-aggrandizing press conference portraying himself as a MAGA martyr while defiantly pointing the finger at everyone but himself.


A year in prison might go a long way toward deflating that ego and also and also getting him some different-colored shirts to layer.

Of course, Bannon isn`t the only Trump ally at risk of criminal charges for defying Congress. Trump`s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows appears to be following in his footsteps, refusing to comply with a subpoena from the select committee. And, like Bannon, he neglected to even show up for his scheduled deposition last Friday.

And now Congressman Adam Schiff is making it clear that Meadows is next.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I`m confident we will move very quickly with respect to Mr. Meadows also. But we want to make sure that we have the strongest possible case to present to the Justice Department and for the Justice Department to present to a grand jury.

When, ultimately, witnesses decide, as Meadows has, that they`re not even going to bother showing up, that they have that much contempt for the law, then it pretty much forces our hand.


REID: Now, the almost two dozen other Trump allies under scrutiny by the committee have a choice to make. They can either comply with their subpoenas or risk the same fate as Mr. I Made Breitbart the Home of White Nationalism, AKA, the alt-right.

This comes as outgoing Republican Congressman Anthony Gonzalez sounds the alarm that January 6 was just a dry run for an actual coup in 2024.


REP. ANTHONY GONZALEZ (R-OH): It looks to me -- and I think any objective observer would come to this conclusion -- that he has evaluated what went wrong on January 6. Why is it that he wasn`t able to steal the election? Who stood in his way?

Every single American institution is just run by people. And you need the right people to make the right decision in the most difficult times. He`s going systematically through the country and trying to remove those people and install people who are going to do exactly what he wants them to do, who believe the big lie, who will go along with anything he says.

Do the institutions hold again? Do they hold with a different set of people in place? I hope so. But you can`t guarantee it.


REID: The truth is, the big lie is still sweeping the GOP. In fact, more Republicans now believe that nonsense theory that Trump will be magically reinstated by the end of this year; 28 percent of Republicans believe that now, up from just, well, an equally bad 22 percent last month.

It`s a reminder of why the work of the January 6 committee is so important.

Joining me now, Kurt Bardella, adviser to the DNC and DCCC And former spokesman for the House Oversight Committee, and Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser and MSNBC political contributor.

And, Kurt, you worked on that Oversight Committee.

You know, it`s fairly clear, there are already the soft rumblings of threats, that, if Kevin McCarthy is the next speaker, they will disband this committee. I think anyone should understand that.

But dream with me, if you will. What would they theoretically do? Wouldn`t -- isn`t it clear that what Republicans would do is suddenly believe in subpoenas and start making up things to investigate about Democrats should they get control of the House?

KURT BARDELLA, DCCC ADVISER: Joy, if Republicans regain control of the House, they will continue what they started during the Barack Obama years and issue a tsunami of subpoenas, a tsunami of hearings, an avalanche of depositions, invented accusations, invented controversies, just like they did to Barack Obama`s entire presidency.

Every Cabinet secretary, every relative, every single person that has any association to this current administration will come under target. We have seen that anyone involved in Trump world will not hesitate to abuse their power, use their office, use their leverage, use their authority to do whatever they want to Trump`s enemies, to perceive enemies.

They made enemies list when they were in the administration. They will advance that. They will do everything that they can to target and go after every single person that they perceive to be a threat to them. And, really, what that means, a threat to them are people willing to stand up for democracy, people willing to defend democracy, defend checks and balances, respect our institutions, try to hold up the pillars that keep our society going.

Steve Bannon has said all along that his intention is to act as a Leninist and to tear down and destroy the structures of our institutions and establishment. He announced that in 2017. What we are seeing now happen with Donald Trump, with the Republican Party, with Steve Bannon`s defiance is a deliberate effort to make good on that threat that he made.

And that`s what the Republican Party is all about right now. And that is why it is crucial that we hang on to the majorities in Congress, because, if we lose them, if we give these Republicans an inch, if we give them a return to power, they will never let it go ever again.

REID: And this is the point.

And Ben Rhodes -- this is actually cut one for my producers. I`m sorry. I`m jumping around in my head as I`m listening to you all talking.

This is what Steve Bannon said on his podcast. This was just on Friday. And just remember he used to run Breitbart, which is one of the places that spews the talking points that the far right can pick up. The MAGA talking points go through that organization, that news organization, right?

And they said they were all right, which is white nationalism. They were open about it. He was.


"We`re taking action," he said on his podcast. "That action we`re taking is over school boards. I mean, we`re taking over school boards. We`re taking over the Republican Party through the precinct committee strategy. We`re taking over all the elections. We`re going to get to the bottom of 3 November," meaning the election.

"We`re going to decertify the electors, OK? And then we`re going to have -- you`re going to have a constitutional crisis."

They have made it very clear -- and you cannot take him seriously if you don`t want to, but he`s saying their playbook out loud. Now,

let`s go to cut four. This is for my producers, please.

Jonathan Karl has a book out that talks about what they already tried to do. Mark Meadows forwarded a memo from lawyer Jenna Ellis, one of the internal attorneys, to the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence. It`s similar to the Eastman memo.

It says she`s making the case that Mike Pence "could overturn the certified results of the presidential election in enough states to hand Trump the victory. She portrayed this not just as something Pence could do, but as something Pence must do to abide by his solemn constitutional duty."

Do you have any doubt in your mind, Ben Rhodes, that that -- that the trial run was in January, and, in 2024, they`d go for the real thing?


And, look, to connect these things, Joy, when you see Steve Bannon or any of these people defying subpoenas, what`s so unnatural is that they don`t care. They don`t care about the potential legal consequences. They don`t care about the potential societal cost to them for being essentially felons.

They only care about one audience. And that audience is Donald Trump and the element of the Republican Party that he represents, largely the white nationalist element of the Republican Party that they have stirred up constantly around the big lie and all manner of other conspiracy theories.

And what they are betting on, Joy, is that they can, between the last election and the next one, figure out how to make it impossible for Donald Trump to lose an election. This isn`t just rhetoric. At the state level, they are replacing officials, so that the people in charge of certifying elections will no longer be the kinds of people that took a stand in Georgia for the integrity of elections, but are either going to be elected Republican state legislators who can just overturn an election, or they`re going to be so burrowed into that structure that they will be able to have their way.

If they win the House of Representatives, or the United States Senate in the midterm elections, they will have that cudgel to bring into the next election. This is not subtle, Joy.


RHODES: They`re talking about this out loud.

The strategy is to delegitimize the previous election, and to give yourself the capacity to overturn the results of the next election. And they`re just doing this in front of us.

And part of what I think is so awkward about American politics right now is, there`s kind of a normal set of actions, infrastructure bill and the kinds of things that the Republicans or Democrats fight about in Washington, while, at the same time, over here, there`s just this massive threat to the integrity of American democracy that is actually getting worse before our eyes.

And even legal accountability, like hauling Steve Bannon in like this, he doesn`t care. And that makes it very difficult to manage.

REID: Well, and that`s the thing, is that you have two realities, Kurt, that are happening at the same time. There`s sort of normal government that you see with Joe Biden.

You have some Republicans. There`s a former White House communications director, Alyssa Farah, who`s like, yes, people should testify, people should honor subpoenas. So there`s sort of normal normcore over here.

But on the other side, there is this open -- as Ben said, they`re not hiding it. They`re saying it on the radio. They`re saying, yes, we`re taking this country over. Hello? We`re taking this country over. They`re announcing it. And then they`re also saying, oh, no, the school boards are not trying to burn books. And they`re like, burn books, ban books, intimidate teachers.

Have Proud Boys standing there staring them down and scaring them. They`re usually -- they`re literally saying, we will use force to command this country.

And I don`t know that the other side is reacting to that fully. Do you?

BARDELLA: Yes, I think that this is really the greatest challenge for Democrats, because the reality is, Republicans are willing to do anything and everything. They have no moral compass. They have no code.

There is no low too low for them to try to engage in, in order to achieve their means and try to take back power. There is a line for Democrats, because we`re ethical. We have a moral compass. We have actual values that we try to adhere to and live up to. Republican see that as a weakness. Republicans see that as Democrats handicapping themselves in this existential fight right now.

I think Democrats just need to get more aggressive on just about everything really, Joy, whether it`s fighting the Green New Deal fight, whether it`s fighting education, whether it`s infrastructure, whether it`s voting rights.

Every single time an issue comes up, Republicans successfully hijack it, and they turn it into something that Democrats start being afraid of. You don`t see really a lot of Democrats talking about the Green New Deal anymore, because Republicans contaminated that into something that it isn`t.

They do the same thing with education and Critical Race Theory. And I think that we need to take them on head on, one-on-one, face-to-face. And we need to say, every time that they bring up one of these issues, listen, number one, you don`t have a monopoly on loving America. I love this country. This is the greatest country in the world. And I`m proud to be here.


Number two, our story, while imperfect, is one that I`m proud of, but I`m also proud of the pursuit to make it a more perfect union, to live up to the expectations that the founders set. Number three, if you want to talk about cancel culture, there`s one party and only one party in America that`s trying to cancel things. And that`s the Republican Party wanting to burn books.

REID: Yes.

BARDELLA: We need to take these things on head on and not cower away from them.

REID: We will have more of this discussion coming up.

Unfortunately, we`re out of time for now, but, Kurt Bardella, Ben Rhodes, thank you both very much. Thank you.

And still ahead on THE REIDOUT: Up -- with the stroke of the pen, President Biden unlocks more than a trillion dollars, speaking of normcore politics, aimed at rebuilding America`s outdated, crumbling infrastructure. It`s pretty big deal.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is here to talk about what comes next after this.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans, today, I want you to know, we hear you, and we see you.


BIDEN: The bill I`m about to sign into law is proof that, despite the cynics, Democrats and Republicans can come together and deliver results.

Here in Washington, we`ve heard countless speeches and promises and white papers from experts. But, today, we`re finally getting this done.


BIDEN: So my message to the American people is this: America is moving again, and your life is going to change for the better.



REID: Today was finally Joe Biden`s BFD day, and a monumental one for America too.

The president often nicknamed Working Class Joe made it officially infrastructure week at long last, signing his infrastructure bill into law today. As he noted, it was a truly bipartisan effort, perhaps Biden`s favorite thing, with 19 Senate Republicans and 13 House Republicans having voted for it.

The new law invests $550 billion into transportation, roads, bridges and other tangible stuff, plus broadband and Internet and improving the country`s water systems, the largest infrastructure investment in history, topping Dwight Eisenhower in sheer breadth.

But it`s just the beginning of what the administration hopes to accomplish, as both the president and the vice president pointed out today.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This bill, as significant as it is, as historic as it is, is part one of two.

To lower costs and cut taxes for working families, to tackle the climate crisis at its core, Congress must also pass the Build Back Better Act. The work of building a more perfect union did not end with the railroad or the interstate. And it will not end now.


REID: Joining me now is the U.S. secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg, who -- thank you for being here, Secretary Pete.

When you first got this job, I remember you came on the show. And I told you, you were lucky because you got the trains job, because you know I love trains.


REID: You got much more than that. You wound up with the pretty cool, cool, cool deal here.

I mean, this is over a trillion dollars in bipartisan bill to really rebuild the country. The big question now is, how quickly does it get started? How much can be done in the next year? Because let`s just talk about broad politics. The more people see, the more they will understand that it was the Biden administration that did it.


And this is a day that I have been waiting for, for as long as I have been secretary of transportation, but people who care about transportation in this country have been waiting for it for years, even for decades, a lot of people along the way questioning whether it could even be done.

And now we`re here. We`re at this moment. And, of course, the pressure is on to deliver.

Now, I should say that this bill includes near- and long-term efforts. Some things are going to happen very quickly, because we`re taking grant programs that already exist in my department. They`re just going to have much more funding to work with.

For example, this week, we will be rolling out the latest awards for what`s called the RAISE grants. That`s about a billion dollars going out to projects around the country that enhance safety and economic development and other things that communities need.

Now, for that $1 billion or so in funding, we got $10 billion in applications, which means we know there are a lot more projects, good, worthy projects that are ready to go, that we have a chance to fund next year. And we won`t wait all the way until November to do it, because we know how much interest there is.

But, having said that, this isn`t like the stimulus bill back in 2009, where it`s all about shovel-ready projects, getting that money out in the economy as quickly as possible. This is, yes, for the near term, but really about the long term too. And we`re interested in what we call shovel-worthy projects as shovel-ready projects.

REID: And the challenge is the politics of this, because this is a huge deal. I mean, this is Eisenhower on steroids, right?

But when -- people have very short-term memory. It`s, what have you done for me lately? I mean, the polls show a pretty sizable chunk of the population thinking that Biden hasn`t done much and saying, well, he hasn`t done much or anything at all, forgetting that, literally, he walked into COVID and did shots and checks and they got that $2,000 and everybody was able to get their -- everybody who was willing to take it was able to get their COVID shots.

And people forget that super quickly. So, I just came back from Jackson, Mississippi. They have a huge water crisis. That`s something that you could see that people are going to be waiting and saying, when are you going to fix that?

I know there`s money in there that`s going to help tribal nations. It includes funding for Native communities to address broadband and resilience and water settlements, et cetera.

Do those kinds of things end up being pushed to the front because they are urgent?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, I think a lot of these things can move quickly, especially because it`s often local communities on the front lines who have these efforts ready to go.

I mean, I remember, when I was mayor, trying to make sure that we had more resources for things like water and wastewater. And if the White House had been able to say to me, hey, we`re about to do a massive increase in funding, would you be ready to go, I would have been ready in a heartbeat to put some of those dollars to work.

That`s one of the reasons why I think it was powerful at today`s ceremony to see not only members of the House and the Senate from around the country and even from both parties, but mayors from all over the country, governors, tribal leaders and more, because they`re ready to go. They have just needed more from Washington, more resources, more dollars, more of what is going to take in order to accelerate the good work that`s already going on.


Now, I will say that this is one where we didn`t have to persuade the American people that infrastructure was a good idea. We just had to work with Washington to catch up to where the American people already are. And I do think that that`s an advantage in terms of making sure that the benefits of this are understood.

But, at the end of the day, you can`t argue with results. And so my department is already getting to work finding creative ways to put these dollars to use, but also to make sure people understand the difference that it makes to that bridge that`s getting fixed in your neighborhood, that road that`s getting fixed in your town, that transit line that`s opening up, that that`s because of this bill that the president just signed.

REID: Yes, but people -- and people do love to see like the work getting done. They feel like their money`s being used, tax money`s being used.

Let me play for you -- this was Kyrsten Sinema, who she got a little star turn today. I think she was the first to get to speak. She got a pretty prime speaking opportunity. Here she was today.


SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): The senators who negotiated this legislation show how to get things done. The senators in our group of 10 effectively represented the needs of the regions we represent.


REID: Who does she believes she represents?

Because you know -- and you have been on here. I have asked you about this before. This is no surprise to you. The way that she negotiated the work that she did on this was not exactly very ecumenical in terms of the kind of people who were in the room.

And so I think there`s been a perception that she`s been a big block to the other big half of your bill. We will put it up here. You guys also have a $1.75 trillion desire to do the bill that`s going to really help people of color, that`s going to help women, that`s going to help people who need child care.

She has been the hurdle. So when she gets up there and says, well, we have negotiated this bill for our people that we care about, do you believe that she is now committed and has gotten enough carrots, because a lot of carrots she got -- she got to speak before the vice president got to speak today -- to get her to actually go along with the rest of your plan?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, we do think the framework that`s been agreed to can pass the Senate, can get all of the Democratic senators to vote for it.

And, by the way, until the bell rings, I`m going to challenge Republican senators to vote for that child tax credit for working families, to vote for the tax fairness that asks the wealthy to pay their fair share. Even though I know they probably won`t, I think we should continue asking for their support.

But you`re right. I mean, that second part of the president`s economic agenda is very, very important. Now, having said that, I don`t want to short what it means for communities of color to have this bill that was just signed. I mean, if you look at transit, for example, Americans of color are much more likely to rely on public transit.

You look at the provisions for healthy ports, basically, more electrification of our ports, so that you don`t have all of the trucks and equipment putting diesel exhaust and particulates into the air, that`s disproportionately Latino communities, that have disproportionately high rates of asthma, because they live close to those ports.

When you look at tribal lands, and the, unfortunately, much higher rate of fatalities for pedestrians in tribal areas, as well as for black and brown pedestrians across the country, there is a racial justice elements to the safety provisions, billions of dollars to make it safer to be a pedestrian or a driver on American streets.

So, yes, we continue to be, of course, very committed to seeing part two, that Build Back Better -- what I call part two of the Biden/Harris administration`s big deal, go through the House and the Senate. But I want to make sure that the benefits of this bill -- by the way, also outside of transportation, obviously, things like lead pipes hugely important to deliver across the country.

REID: Yes.

BUTTIGIEG: And we can`t wait to not just tell the story, but, of course, to do the work.

REID: Well, you are just going to make -- you just -- the people at that other network are going to be mad. You talked about all the stuff that they don`t like you to talk about.

By the way, I haven`t a chance to congratulate you and Chasten on your twins. They`re adorable.

BUTTIGIEG: Thank you.

REID: I liked the photo and retweeted it, but now I can actually tell you in person, congratulations.

Thank you. And congrats on this big bill.

BUTTIGIEG: Thanks so much. Thank you.

REID: Thank you very much.

Have a great evening. OK, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, appreciate you.

Still ahead: more on this historic achievement by the Biden administration. Biden allies are calling it his Eisenhower moment, as Trump loyalists just whine and cry because they couldn`t get it done. They wanted infrastructure week for them.

Historian Michael Beschloss joins me next.

We`re back after this.



REID: I am joined now by Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian.

I`m so glad that you were available for me to talk to you today, because I need the historical perspective. You know I love it.



REID: So, put it in perspective for us.

Well, thank you for being here, Michael.

Put in perspective this bill, because it is -- it`s big. I mean, what do you make of it?

BESCHLOSS: There is no way that our descendants will not be reading about what happened today in history books 100 years from now.

And you love trains. So do I. This is what presidents do, both because we need the infrastructure and also because it helps the economy. Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War made it possible for there to be a Transcontinental Railroad because he felt that, after the Civil War, the country needed to be pulled together and the economy needed to be jump-started.

You and I have both driven by many times, I`m sure, Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, where a certain unmentionable president was sick a year ago and was there for a couple of days. Well, that`s -- he`s not the only patient.

But that was public works that was invented by FDR, Franklin Roosevelt, in the 1930s. He was an amateur architect. Roosevelt, believe it or not, designed the exterior of Walter Reed Hospital. It was then called Bethesda Naval. And he also chose the site. He got really involved in the design of post offices.

So, in the 1930s, Roosevelt`s New Deal was responsible for 70 percent of city halls, courthouses, 35 percent of public health installations, new schools, 70 percent of those, remade the country, but it also saved our country because it brought the economy back from the Depression.


REID: And this is why -- see, you`re going to make me keep you here for an hour. This -- you`re going to lose your whole free time, because I could just sit here and do this all night with you.

But, I mean, the thing is...

BESCHLOSS: Me too. I love it`s.


REID: I love it.

And the thing that`s so interesting is that Biden is doing, like, a move where he`s also correcting some of the things.

I mean, I think Eisenhower was the greatest Republican president, to me personally. But he had some problems, in that...

BESCHLOSS: Is that like the best restaurant in a hospital?

REID: It`s firm, but fair, firm, but fair.


REID: But, I mean, he`s fixing some of the problems with the Eisenhower era, which is that they really harmed a lot of communities of color in going through and creating these highway systems.


REID: So, they`re doing that move, where they`re doing both.

But let me ask you about the previous president, because he, I`m sure, was losing his mind today, because infrastructure -- excuse me -- was one of the things he wanted to do.


REID: He famously walked out of a meeting after a few minutes because he couldn`t -- he was being investigated at the same time. He wasn`t able to do it.

Rob Portman today tried to, like, credit him with this infrastructure bill, got no applause for it. And, at the same time, Republicans are getting death threats for voting for this, for voting for bridges for their own communities.

What do you make of that?

BESCHLOSS: Well, Trump taking credit for infrastructure, what happened today, is like the rooster taking credit for the sunrise.

The guy had four years. It did not happen. And, plus, you`re absolutely right. It is his people who were phoning in death threats to the very tiny number of Republicans who tried to make this possible.

And the other point you made is perfect, Joy, which is, we love Eisenhower in many ways. We love the Interstate Highway System. But that system was abused and manipulated in city after city to isolate or destroy black neighborhoods, Latino neighborhoods, in some cases, Italian-American neighborhoods. That will not happen this time. It can`t.

REID: There`s -- so I hate to really dwell on polls, because they`re ephemeral, right?

And at this point in many of their presidencies, a lot of presidents faced a crisis of public confidence.


REID: And Joe Biden faces a massive, ongoing COVID nightmare that is harming his numbers. So his numbers are pretty low right now


REID: There`s also a lot of Americans who, despite having gotten the shots and checks, are still telling pollsters that he`s accomplished nothing, or almost nothing, which I find amazing. I guess they spent the whole $2,000. Now they`re not happy anymore.


REID: But does that matter? Like, should we think about this in terms of those polling numbers?

BESCHLOSS: It would matter if we had midterms tomorrow, but midterms, last I heard, are going to be here from this month.

And there`s a very good chance that what`s happening today with infrastructure, and also if the Building Back Better bill passes as well, could jump-start this economy in a way that, a year from now, the fall of 2021 and our economic problems, God willing, will be something in the rearview mirror.

REID: And let me ask you. And this is my sort of bigger picture question for you, because we were talking with Pete Buttigieg about this.

Sort of there`s the normcore Republican and Democratic process, which Biden loves. He loves bipartisanship.


REID: So, he got a tiny bit of bipartisanship today, which he loves that.

But that has to stand up against a massive anti-democracy movement that`s active and vicious on the right. And they`re not going to stop. Do you think that Biden`s theory of the case, that giving people tangible things, like infrastructure, can sap the steam out of that anti-democracy movement? Or are you worried that it`ll be ignored, essentially, by people who are so far gone that they think that Donald Trump is still president?

BESCHLOSS: Well, I think it can help us defeat the anti-democracy movement.

And I think you`re not going to disagree with me when I say that our democracy is in greater danger from within than at any time since before the Civil War more than 150 years ago.

But if, during the next year, government is able to build bridges and roads and infrastructure all over, and people see it, it makes their lives better, and the economy gets better, and people are happier, just as they were in the 1930s, there is a very good chance that people will say, I was wrong, government can work, I shouldn`t be so down on democracy.

REID: I hope that happens, because...


REID: Yes, there`s nothing so unifying like not going through a pothole when you`re on your way to work, when you`re on way driving somewhere.


BESCHLOSS: Right. Right. It`s very concrete.

REID: Michael Beschloss, it`s very concrete.

You`re always so much fun to talk to. Thank you.


REID: You have made feel better. I appreciate you.

BESCHLOSS: Thank you a lot.

REID: And don`t go anywhere.


And don`t go anywhere. We just had Michael Beschloss. And then, next, we`re going to have -- totally turn. Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is up next. And there`s a Trump loyalist who`s trying to undermine one of America`s most basic founding principles, your freedom of religion.

Do not go anywhere.



REID: Before his "Lock her up" rants and QAnon weirdness and his claim that fear of Muslims is actually, like, rational, Michael Flynn, believe it or not, was actually a very respected individual. He was somebody that most military people thought of as sort of a military great.

He rose all the way to become the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. At one point, he was one of the most respected generals in the United States. But perhaps as a hint of what was to come, not long after he made it to those heights, he wound up actually getting fired by President Barack Obama from that position.

And, after that, things started to get a little bit weird, so weird, in fact, that President Obama actually warned Donald Trump not to hire him to be his national security adviser.

But, of course, Trump being Trump, he did it anyway. And that`s when things really, really started to get weird, really weird, because the really impressive resume that he built up, it actually turned into a rap sheet, when Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

He wound up getting pardoned by his dear leader and paid back the favor by going on a post-pardon media tour, saying all the wacky things, like how a Myanmar-style coup should take place in the United States, or how the COVID-19 vaccine can end up in salad dressing, because that`s a thing, and seeming to pledge allegiance to QAnon.

This shell of his former three-star general self, Michael Flynn, now beats on the anti-democracy drums every day, which explains why he was subpoenaed by the House select committee last week.

And now Trump`s weird little general is actually spitting on the First Amendment.


MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: They`re talking about the United States of America, talking about the United States of America, because when Matthew mentioned it in the Bible, he wasn`t talking about the physical ground that he was on. He was talking about something in the distance.

So, if we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion, one nation under God and one religion under God.


REID: One religion? You just heard a decorated three-star general contradict a pillar of the First Amendment -- a pillar of the Constitution, the First Amendment.

And for doing that, Michael Flynn is the "Absolute Worst."