Supreme Courst considers challenge to Roe v. Wade; Abortion rights at stake as Supreme Court hears arguments on Mississippi abortion law; Conservative Supreme Court justice appear willing to gut abortion rights
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That does it for me. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid starts now. Hi, Joy.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing, Ari? Thank you very much. Have a great evening.
All right, everybody, good evening. We are following a number of major stories tonight, including the January 6th committee meeting at this hour to vote on criminal concept charges against former Justice Department Official Jeffrey Clark.
And then there is today`s big news on COVID. The first confirmed case of the omicron variant has been discovered in the United States. We will get to all of that shortly.
But we have to begin THE REIDOUT with what was a watershed day, with the Supreme Court inching closer to overturning nearly 50 years of law. Now, if you happen to be one of the 166 million women living in America, it appears that the conservative majority on the Supreme Court is willing to reduce you to a secondary constitutional citizen by decreeing the control over your very person, your physical body belongs not to you, but to your state.
This morning, the court heard arguments in which they were asked to allow Mississippi to uphold a ban on abortions after 15 weeks. The state also asked justices to overturn two major reproductive rights rulings, Roe versus Wade and the court`s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood versus Casey which said that states could not impose an undue burden on the right to abortion before fetal viability.
Listening to the oral arguments it became clear that all six conservative justices were either openly or implicitly interested in entertaining Mississippi`s request.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASSOC. JUSTICE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT: If you were to prevail, the states -- majority of states, or states still could or-- and presumably would continue to freely allow abortion, many states, some states would be able to do that even if you prevail.
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT: Viability, it seems to me, doesn`t have anything to do with choice. But if it really is an issue about choice, why is 15 weeks not enough time?
ASSOC. JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, SUPREME COURT: The fetus has an interest in having a life, and that doesn`t change, does it, from the point before viability to the point after viability?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Okay this is important for you to understand. The Supreme Court has never agreed to hear a case over an abortion ban so early in pregnancy until all three Trump appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch, who sits in the seat stolen by Republicans after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett were on board.
So, just the existence of this hearing today was unprecedented and the justices appointed by Democratic president seem to allude to that historical change in the way the court works in their questioning, at one point quoting directly from the Casey decision, Justice Stephen Breyer seemed to be speaking directly to his colleagues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASSOC. JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT: Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?
ASSOC. JUSTICE STEPHEN BREYER, SUPREME COURT: To overrule under fire in the absence of the most compelling reason to reexamine a watershed decision would subvert the court`s legitimacy beyond any serious question.
ASSOC. JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, SUPREME COURT: Justice Breyer started with stare decisis, an important principle in any case to prevent people from thinking that this court is political institution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Far more disturbing and frankly offensive was the Mississippi solicitor general arguing that the court should overturn Roe v. Wade, which protects women`s rights, because the court had previously overturned Plessy versus Ferguson, which restricted the rights of African-Americans to participate in normal civic life without being subjected to segregation up until 1954 when it was negated by the landmark decision Brown versus Board of Education.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT STEWART, MISSISSIPPI SOLICITOR GENERAL: At some point it`s appropriate for the court to say enough as it has in some of its -- the great overruling in Brown and in other cases, where it said this is just enough, Justice Harlan had it right in dissent in Plessy when he recognized that -- that, you know, all are equal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now, if that wasn`t rancid enough Justice Kavanaugh seemed to embrace that argument and went even further during his questioning of the lawyer for the Jackson Women`s Health Organization.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAVANAUGH: The court overruled precedent. And it turns out if the court in those cases had listened and they were presented and with arguments in those cases adhered to precedent in Brown v. Board, adhered to Plessy, on West Coast Hotel, adhered to Adkins and adhered to Lochner. And if the court had done that in those cases, the country would be a much different place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: With me now, Elie Mystal, Justices Correspondent for The Nation. And Elie, it feels to me like the conservative justices were trying to, in a weasely way, try to brand themselves as the heroes from the Brown versus Board decision, to try to wrap themselves in Brown versus Board. They love to quote Plessy. That`s one of the anti-abortion world`s famous thing, they love to go for. But they`re trying to wrap themselves in that because they understand that they are going against the vast majority of Americans` will when they subject women to the, you know, desuetudes (ph) of their state and said the states decide what they do with their bodies. Your thoughts.
ELIE MYSTAL, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: Conservatives want you to think that a fetus, a fetus who was pre-viability, that means they cannot exist outside of its mother, cannot live outside of the womb, has the same -- should have the same legal rights as full grown black people in this country. And that the fact that it doesn`t is some kind of mischarge of justice -- no pun intended -- and that the people shouldn`t have the full rights are the women who are carrying the fetus.
Now, I can prove that a fetus is not deserving of full personhood rights, because if it were, they would be arguing that the fetus should be given citizenship, they would be arguing that the fetus should have other rights, like a right to education, a right to health care. They would be arguing that I should be able to claim fetuses as dependents on my tax, which you will note they are not. They are only concerned about the right of a fetus when that right can be used to diminish the rights of women.
And that is what the conservatives are all about on the Supreme Court. That is what you heard in stark and I thought -- I think you used the right word -- offensive language throughout the court`s arguments today. But this is the day that conservatives have been planning for a generation. They have picked people specifically to do this work. They are now here to do this work. And the person who looks like as much of an idiot as much as anybody today is Susan Collins, who stood up there on the Senate floor and promised us that Brett Kavanaugh, of all people, was going to respect precedent, that he was going to respect Senate law, that he believed that Roe v Wade was Senate law. And Brett Kavanaugh was the guy today that did all the work of explaining why he should be able to disregard precedent simply because he doesn`t like how a previous case was decided.
This was an insult to Susan Collins if you believed here that she was telling the truth when she defended the man a few years ago.
REID: Oh, you just spoke of Brett Kavanaugh. Let`s play him. This is him basically asking a leading question, sort of leading the Mississippi solicitor general along the lines he wanted to, to basically say, let`s together concoct our excuse for getting rid of this right for women. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAVANAUGH: As I understand it, you`re arguing that the Constitution is silent therefore neutral on the question of abortion, in other words, that the Constitution is neither pro-life or pro-choice on the question of the abortion but leaves the issue for the people of the states or perhaps Congress to resolve in the democratic process is that accurate?
STEWART: Right. We`re saying it is left to the people, your honor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: I mean, Elie, that was so disingenuous first of all. Voting rights -- you know we had a voting rights act because the states left to their own devices said black people couldn`t vote unless they couldn`t tell you how many bubbles were in a bar of soap. You know, there are rights that supersede what states decide to do. If you just given people a vote on slavery, all the southern state would have voted to keep it forever. So, it`s like -- it is very disingenuous.
But what do you make of that and the fact that, really, the only facts that has changed since Roe is the makeup of the court. So, if they overturn Roe it is just going to be because they got enough right wingers on it, not because everything else is changed. Your thoughts?
MYSTAL: As usual, Brett Kavanaugh brings the most intellectually weak arguments to the debate, right? So, his argument about neutrality is ridiculous on its face. You can`t be neutral about rights. Either women have rights over their own bodies or they don`t. There is no neutral position in there. You have to decide whether they have rights or not.
Now, we`ve already discussed about how his whole framework involves creating rights a right to a fetus in order to find this neutrality, a fetus that doesn`t have rights, and I can prove that again legally. But then you point out the other important point, that if we -- the whole point of a right, I`m sure I heard that somewhere called inalienable, right? The whole point of a right is that it can`t be taken away by state legislators on an ad hoc basis. I don`t want Mississippi to decide whether or not I have the right to vote or walk or breathe or marry or have control over my body.
That`s not -- that`s against the definition of a right.
But there`s a third thing that Kavanaugh is doing, and it`s very important, I think, because it also goes to his old personality from where I sit. He`s trying to shift responsibility away from the Supreme Court towards the states. The Supreme Court -- and we saw all summer the Supreme Court is very sensitive about losing its legitimacy as it does something that most people don`t want it to do, right? And so Kavanaugh is doing work of trying to say no, no, no, it`s not the Supreme Court taking a way abortion rights. It`s Mississippi, it`s Texas, it`s Tobin (ph), it`s we. It`s always somebody else with him. It`s never him. It`s never his job, his institution to stop it.
And that`s why Kavanaugh is making this argument and that`s why, quite frankly, so many other mainstream sources have pick-up that argument because they`re willing to carry the water for the Supreme Court and always try to blame somebody else for what this conservative court is doing and what this conservative court is taking away.
REID: Oh, their legitimacy between Bush v Gore, gutting the voting rights act, allowing the Muslim ban to stand. I don`t think they need to worry about their credibility. I think it is where it is.
Elie Mystal, thank you very much, I really appreciate your being here.
And joining us, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. And I have to start just by asking you this, just as a fellow black women, as a sister. Listening today, for me, Congresswoman, to two men, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, who were credibly accused of violating the sanctity of women, you know, both of them got away with it, of course, and got on court, but having them stand up and sort of soberly argue whether or not women are owned by the state. It made me feel some kind of way. I wonder if it did you.
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): I will stick with and be in alignment with the verbiage that you`ve used already in this segment, Joy, unprecedented, rancid, and I will offer one more word, predictable. You know, I am thinking about, I don`t know -- as a black woman, I think I am growing tired of saying, we told you so. And I find no joy in saying that.
But when reproductive justice advocates were, you know, sounding the alarm, we were accused of fear mongering, we were characterized as hysterical. And so here we find ourselves at this unprecedented moment consistent with the extremism and the imbalance of these courts, the Supreme Court has not been on the side of the people, whether you are talking about voting rights, housing rights, or now reproductive freedom and the bodily autonomy of every individual who calls this country home. This is settled law. The majority of Americans do not want this overturned.
So, now let`s just -- I was on the Supreme Court steps today, I chaired the abortion rights and access task force under the pro-choice caucus. This is the first pro-choice majority Congress in the history of Congress. Democrats have the house, the Senate, and the White House. So, if the courts are not going to be on the side of the people, it is up to Congress to meet the moment, this unprecedented moment with unprecedented leadership and with unprecedented legislating.
The House has passed the Women`s Health Protection Act, WHPA. We need the Senate to take that up swiftly and get this to the president`s desk for signature codifying Roe v. Wade and banning harmful states bans like that of Texas and Mississippi.
But, Joy, we can`t stop there because Roe v Wade is really the floor. It is not the ceiling. And this is the first time in 40 years that the House has passed a budget where the Hyde Amendment and the Hounds Amendment were stripped from all of our budgets, you know, a very big moment.
And so here we find ourselves in this unprecedented moment and inflection point. Congress must act. We have to pass the Women`s Health Protection Act. We have to pass the Each Act and repeal Hyde, ensuring everyone has access to health care, to abortion care, which is health care, which is a constitutional right. And we need to abolish the filibuster. And I will add, we need to expand the courts.
Now, that`s a conversation for another day but our marching orders in this moment, the Senate needs to take up the Women`s Health Protection Act, we need to get that to the president`s desk, codify Roe v. Wade and settle this once and for all when it comes this matter of health care justice, reproductive justice and racial justice, Joy. Because we know that when you restrict access it does not mean that people will stop having abortions, it just means that they will not do it safely, they will not do it legally. And so those that will be the most vulnerable and those that are already the most vulnerable, those that are low income, communities of color, disable, our non-binary and trans-siblings.
REID: Yes. It`s going to be ugly.
And I think for a lot of young woman, it`s going to be shocking because they haven`t leave without their rights. As you said, this was 40 years ago, a lot of people don`t know what it is like to live without these basic rights. But they are about to find out.
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, as always thank you, I really appreciate you being here.
And up next on THE RIEDOUT, much more on today`s Supreme Court`s arguments on abortion rights. What`s going to happen if fundamental rights are suddenly left up to the states? You can probably guess.
And you are looking live at tonight`s hearing of the January 6th select committee, which is, once again, voting on a recommendation of contempt for one of Trump`s men.
Plus, Republicans are buzzing about their devious little plan to shut down the government, seriously. But they are strangely silent about yet another school mass murder.
THE REIDOUT continues after this.
REID: Mississippi`s defense of their 15-week abortion law makes a case that`s truly bizarre, arguing that things are different than they were back in the `70s, that, quote, today, adoption is acceptable.
And on a wide scale, women attain professional success and a rich family life. So why can`t we just force forward with rape victims to bring fetuses to term? I mean, can they not just leave the babies on the doorstep of a firehouse and get back to the office?
Justice Amy Coney Barrett took that banana and ran with it during her questioning, noting that safe haven laws that allow parents in crisis to give their infant away might take away that burden of pregnancy and parenthood.
The state also made the argument that, since birth control exists -- work with me here -- we no longer need Roe. Here`s the state solicitor general.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SCOTT STEWART, MISSISSIPPI SOLICITOR GENERAL: As to burdens during pregnancy, I would emphasize that contraception is more accessible and affordable and available than it was at the time of Roe or Casey. It serves the same goal of allowing women to decide if, when and how many children to have.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
REID: OK, so first of all, birth control is not 100 percent effective. Take a science class. My first child, got pregnant with her while on birth control.
But, more importantly, what got left out of Mississippi`s argument is that pregnancy can actually be dangerous to a woman`s health, especially when you live in a country like the United States, which has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the entire developed world. Marinate on that.
Not to mention if you live in the great state of Mississippi, which received an F for maternal health in recent a March of Dimes report, and happens to also have the highest infant mortality rate in the country, not to mention water that you can`t even make Enfamil with in its state capital, because it`s poisoned by lead.
Joining me now is Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Women`s Health.
Thank you both for being here.
I`m going to start with you, Alexis McGill Johnson.
It -- Mississippi being the state that`s making this argument to me is full of irony. And I don`t say this to disparage the state. I love the state of Mississippi. I was just in Jackson recently. Wonderful people. But it`s also the poorest state in the country. It is 50th in health care in its rankings. It is 49th in the economy. It is the poorest state in this entire country.
One in five women there are uninsured. So to say that it`s OK to ban abortions in the poorest state with one in five women, I believe -- or one in four women, one in four women in that state are uninsured. People are not insured. One in five -- I`m sorry -- are not insured.
To say it`s fine, make them carry the baby to term, they can leave it at the firehouse when they`re done, is so dismissive of everything that pregnancy is about, that it was shocking to me. And I wonder if it was to you.
ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: I mean, just when you think you can`t be shocked further, it was unbelievably shocking, right?
Because what we have is a state like Mississippi, which today ask for a world where the states and the politicians can determine whether or not you are free, right, where they have the highest maternal mortality rates, the highest infant mortality rate, and they also rank 50th in child well-being, OK?
MCGILL JOHNSON: So, not even taking care of the children in the state of Mississippi.
And I think that was the incredible alarm. It was offensive to say that forced pregnancy and forced parenthood would be addressed by safe havens and adoption, if those are the alternatives to abortion. It was just unbelievably shocking and, quite frankly, not surprising.
REID: Yes, I mean, this movement shouldn`t be called pro-life. It should be called get them born, and then it`s your problem, because, in Mississippi, they also rank way -- probably dead last in terms of education. They don`t want to spend money on education.
They will not expand Obamacare. So, people don`t have insurance. Where do they think people are supposed to get the money to raise these kids that they can`t feed from the tap water? They can`t even make formula with it because they won`t even get the water clean.
It is an unbelievable state to be making this argument.
Amy Hagstrom Miller, let`s talk about what people are going to have to do. Here`s a map. Let`s put this up. This is the 26 states that are likely -- or really probably certain, to just go ahead and ban abortion altogether once this ruling comes through and Roe is effectively dead.
And I just have notes here that talk about -- our producers, brilliant producers here, asked them, give me some stats on how far someone would have to go if, in fact, these states ban abortion, and if you really needed to have this medical procedure done.
If you live in Mississippi, you would have to go to Illinois or North Carolina. That is an average of 495 miles. If you live in Louisiana, you could go to Illinois, North Carolina or Kansas. That`s 666 miles. Ditto in Florida, 575 miles to get to North Carolina. Texas, you have to go to Kansas or New Mexico. That`s 542 miles.
How on earth are women supposed to do that if they are not rich?
AMY HAGSTROM MILLER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, WHOLE WOMAN`S HEALTH: You know, already, we are seeing this kind of abortion migration because of what`s happening in Texas.
Texans are fleeing the state, those who can, and trying to get abortions anywhere that they can get them. We have seen Texans in Minnesota, in New York, in Georgia, all over the place, because bans like this don`t do anything to improve women`s health and safety. They don`t do anything to reduce the need for abortion.
They just block people from being able to get safe abortions from trained medical professionals; 10 percent of this country`s population of reproductive age lives in Texas. This is not a small matter.
People are traveling hundreds and hundreds of miles. They`re desperate. They`re begging us to give them the safe abortion care they need. People should not be put in a situation where they`re denied their dignity, they`re denied essential health care, all because somebody is playing politics.
And to sort of equate this safe haven law as though it`s some kind of solution, it`s insulting to those of us who built families from adoption. It`s insulting to birth moms. Like, what are you saying? Her life and her lived experience is somehow not valued?
It`s horrific, the future that these people are seeing for those of us who deserve to have equality and autonomy.
REID: But that`s exactly what they`re saying.
Alexis McGill Johnson, that is exactly what they`re saying. They`re making the argument that a woman is essentially a vessel...
HAGSTROM MILLER: Right.
REID: ... whose only purpose is to get is to give birth, right, and that woman really has no other real value or any real separate rights, and her only -- her job is to carry this being. This is it. This is what you`re supposed to do, because these states don`t want to expand health care.
We don`t talk enough about the number of people who actually die in the United States because they lack health care access while they are pregnant, and they don`t wind up bringing a child to term. They wind up dead.
We don`t talk about that very often. But it happens here more than it does in other developed countries. Your thoughts?
MCGILL JOHNSON: Look, I think this has always been about control, right? It`s always been about denying liberty and freedom.
And you`re right. We haven`t invested. When they make all of these comparisons to Europe around abortion and gestation rates, it`s actually like let`s also talk about what`s happening in Europe around the social contract and the health care that is provided to families and communities and pregnant people, right?
I think that they have made this choice over and over again to deny us access. And I think this is -- the real kind of antenna, the kind of the thing that went up for me was the folk around the states` right, right?
Whenever they start talking about the states` rights, the notion that our fundamental rights are going to be left to state legislatures?
MCGILL JOHNSON: That is a huge red flag that we have to really, really get under.
REID: And wait until they go to their next act, because they tried to use birth control as the excuse, that we can do because there`s birth control.
The pro-life movement, the pro-birth movement, they also want to get rid of birth control, you all. They`re going to come for that next. Just wait. They are coming for birth control too.
Alexis McGill Johnson and Amy Hagstrom Miller, thank you both very much.
Still ahead: The January 6 Committee votes to hold former Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark in contempt.
That`s next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): If you want to know what contempt of Congress really looks like, read a transcript of Mr. Clark`s deposition and his attorneys` correspondence with the select committee, because what you find there is contempt for Congress and for the American people, contempt for the rule of law, contempt for the Constitution.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Mr. Clark is not excused from testifying simply because President Trump is trying to hide behind inapplicable claims of executive privilege.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: That was Chairman Bennie Thompson and Vice Chair Liz Cheney kicking off a meeting of the House select committee that`s investigating January 6.
And just moments ago, they voted unanimously, 9-0, to refer Jeffrey Clark for criminal charges. Clark is a former Justice Department official who reportedly plotted with Trump in a scheme to invalidate the electoral votes of Georgia and other states.
In other words, he`s an extremely valuable witness who could face criminal liability himself. Clark not only refused to produce documents or answer questions. He abruptly walked out of his deposition last month.
And in an apparent last-ditch effort to avoid contempt proceedings, Clark`s lawyer told the committee today that his client might invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. That`s according to Chairman Thompson, who says Clark has agreed to be deposed again this Saturday.
In the meantime, however, the committee is moving forward. As we just saw, if Clark does not cooperate on Saturday, the measure will have to pass the full House of Representatives before it`s sent to the Justice Department, which will ultimately decide whether to charge and arrest Clark.
Joining me now, Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor and MSNBC columnist.
Thank you very much, Glenn. Great to see you, as always.
Let me read a little bit from the contempt report on Jeffrey Clark.
And it says that: "Clark met with White House officials, including then-President Trump, to discuss efforts to delegitimize, disrupt or overturn the election results." They also say they have reason to believe that Mr. Clark had conversations with others in the federal government, including members of Congress.
That, to me, is quite intriguing.
Your thoughts on his potential to wind up actually incarcerated, or what do you think happens now?
GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, he clearly has important information.
But, frankly, even more importantly, he has a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. I mean, there was reporting that Donald Trump was enlisting Department of Justice officials to do his nefarious bidding in trying to corruptly overturn the elections results.
And, remember, there was that famous meeting where it was reported that Donald Trump said: Look, I know there was no fraud. Just say there was and leave the rest of me and my allies in Congress.
What did Jeffrey Clark do? Then a DOJ official, he went back to the Department of Justice, he drafted and circulated a letter to the Georgia state election officials, giving them a blueprint to corruptly overturn the elections results.
That makes Jeffrey Clark absolutely a member of a conspiracy to commit crimes against the United States with Donald Trump. And, frankly, the fact that he wrote and circulated that letter constitutes an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy, which is an element that you need to prove a conspiracy.
So, maybe, the one smart and legal thing Jeffrey Clark could do would be invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. And it looks like he is well on his way to being referred for criminal prosecution now that the committee has voted him in contempt.
We will have to wait and see what the full House does, but it feels like he is going the way of Steve Bannon. And then Joy, there`s actually an easy way to deal with Jeffrey Clark`s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination once he`s referred for prosecution. It`s called a guilty plea with cooperation.
And that`s something that I think the prosecutors at the D.C. U.S. attorney`s office will have to seriously consider for Jeffrey Clark, given the importance of the information he could bring to the table about Donald Trump`s culpability.
REID: Interesting. Yes, make him a deal, especially if he`s got information on other members of Congress.
Let`s play one more sound bite from Liz Cheney, the vice chair of the January 6 Committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: He has recently suggested that he wants to debate members of this committee.
This committee`s investigation into the violent assault on our Capitol on January 6 is not a game. When this committee convenes hearings, witnesses will be called to testify under oath. Any communications Mr. Trump has with this committee will be under oath.
And if he persists in lying then, he will be accountable under the laws of this great nation and subject to criminal penalties for every false word he speaks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: What is it with these Trump people and this fake bravado gamesmanship?
What do you -- as a prosecutor, that seems to me in itself to be contemptuous of this process.
KIRSCHNER: It is.
And there`s an easy way for prosecutors to address that bravado. If the evidence supports criminal charges, bring criminal charges. Put it before a jury. Let a jury decide if a Steve Bannon or a Jeffrey Clark or at, the end of the day, a Donald Trump really has any viable legal defenses against the crimes that we have seen them all commit in the harsh light of day.
And let me add, Joy, that one of the really exciting byproducts, I think, of Jeffrey Clark, intending perhaps to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, what does that tell us? It tells us a former high DOJ official apparently has committed crimes, because you can only invoke your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if your testimony would show that you committed crimes.
So, now what is the Department of Justice going to do? Because we`re forever having the debate? Are they investigating high government officials?
REID: Or not?
KIRSCHNER: Are they investigating Donald Trump, or not?
Well, now it looks like one of their own former official is announcing he committed crimes. The Department of Justice must take this seriously and must investigate it criminally.
REID: I don`t know what they`re -- what`s taking them so long.
But let`s listen to a little bit of an FBI interrogation that was released of Danny Rodriguez, who has said that he was called to D.C. by Trump.
This is cut two for my producers.
And they explained this. This is him admitting that he Tased Officer Michael Fanone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANNY RODRIGUEZ, DEFENDANT: What do you want me to tell you, that I Tased him? Yes.
Am I a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED)? Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Explain. Explain why. Why did you Tase him?
RODRIGUEZ: I don`t know. I`m a piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I`m sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now they`re crying.
Do you think -- I mean, these guys don`t offer much in the way of -- they can`t really go up and like give anybody else up above them, right? I mean, these guys are the ones who are going to end up cleaning a jail cell, right?
And he was crying probably for himself, because he`s losing his freedom.
But here`s the thing. There are so many insurrectionists who have said in one form or another: I came and I did this because Donald Trump told me to.
All of that, I think informs, us about Donald Trump`s culpability for inciting what happened on January 6.
REID: Yes, it sure does.
Glenn Kirschner, thank you very much.
Still ahead: The first U.S. case of the Omicron -- or the Omicron variant is identified in California. This, we learned -- this as we learn more about how the twice-impeached former president callously put lives at risk after his own COVID diagnosis.
We will be right back.
REID: Well, quite predictably, it has happened.
The first confirmed U.S. case of the Omicron variant has been detected in the San Francisco area. So, yes, anti-vaxxers, your creepy little death plot is working. It`s also killing more of your own people.
Marcus Lamb, an anti-vaccine Christian broadcaster and the CEO of the conservative Christian Daystar Television Network, has died weeks after contracting COVID-19, following in the footsteps of at least six other conservative broadcasters, many of them unvaccinated, who were killed by COVID.
These aren`t your typical anti-vaxxers ranting at the dinner table. These are people with influence and reach. Lamb`s Daystar is one of the largest Christian television networks in the world. He and his network went big on the anti-vax conspiracy theories and provided a platform for misinformation that reached billions.
Joining me now is Dr. Vin Gupta, MSNBC medical contributor and critical care pulmonologist.
And, Dr. Gupta, a year, year-and-a-half into this pandemic, people are no longer getting COVID, like, purely by accident or solely by accident. People are allowing themselves to get it, right, by not getting vaccinated, or by spreading it when they don`t have to.
Let`s talk about the former president of the United States, and then you can also talk about these Christian conservatives that are spreading anti-vax and then getting COVID.
Donald Trump got COVID. And when he got COVID, what he did when he was tested positive for it was to go on basically a little COVID world tour as a super-spreader. He went and sat -- met with Gold Star families. He went and did a debate with the then-77-year-old soon-to-be President Joe Biden.
He hosted a reception to honor Gold Star families. He did that debate as well. He did the big event for Amy Coney Barrett, celebrating her taking that seat. He literally was a super-spreader.
So, what do you make of the fact that so many people are openly and actively spreading this virus, potentially, without caring?
DR. VIN GUPTA, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Joy, good evening. Great to see you.
It`s symptomatic of the lack of empathy across our country, unfortunately.
I will say, with the former president, what`s interesting there for all your viewers, how -- what can we learn from this? Because we`re now testing again, Joy, with the holidays. A false -- it`s rare that these tests, especially with COVID out of control still in most places with a new variant, it`s rare that any of these tests that you get from a local drugstore will give you a false positive.
That will happen when we have COVID truly under control. A false negative is more common. And so that first test, his doctor, his doctor, a doctor that was in proximal to power, clearly didn`t have the integrity and the commitment to his profession, was interested in consolidating his position -- he should have said: Mr. President, this is a test to be believed in. The second test easily could have been a false negative.
He didn`t do that. And that`s where we are where we are. And who knows how many people actually ended up dying as a result of being exposed to the former president.
I mean, he himself was a super-spreader, which is shocking, because he was really insisting on being in the same space with the even older than him -- he`s 74, when Biden was 77, and insisted on being in a space with him. He could have gotten him sick or left him in the hospital. And he at that time didn`t have the special medical treatments that Donald Trump had access to.
It`s pretty shocking. But, at this point, given where we are -- I have gotten my booster. To people who are boostered, like myself, is that fully vaccinated now? Because now I`m worried that Omicron could overcome the booster.
GUPTA: That`s fully vaccinated, Joy. I`m so glad you brought that up. Thank you.
For all your viewers out there -- and I hope the CDC might be watching as we -- as you and I are talking -- they have to update the definition of fully vaccinated to account for the three-dose regimen, not the two. We cannot be saying in -- out of both sides of our mouth, number one, two doses is fully vaccinated, and then, on the other side, oh, by the way, you should get a booster shot. It doesn`t make sense. It`s confusing.
The definition has to be updated, especially in light of this variant. I think the news out of San Francisco is actually quite reassuring. An individual who is otherwise young, without major medical conditions, got two doses of the vaccine, had mild symptoms. We`re going to see a lot more of that, Joy.
In two weeks` time, when Pfizer and Moderna come out with their data on vaccine effectiveness in the setting of this new variant, expect to hear more about vaccine breakthrough illness, people testing more frequently with positive tests, but ultimately having no or mild symptoms.
This is what endemicity looks like. This is where we`re headed. And it`s OK.
REID: Yes, and it`s -- right. It`s important to remind people that the shot is not to make sure you never ever, get it. It won`t guarantee you never get it. It`s to keep you out of the hospital and keep you from dying.
But what do we do? I feel like we`re going to get to -- well, we`re out of time.
But are we going to end up with even more variants because so many people are like that radio host that died who just refuse to even get the first shot, let alone get three?
GUPTA: Yes. We`re going to have a Sigma. We`re going to have a Theta.
And that`s OK, because, to your point, Joy, vaccines against contagious respiratory viruses are intended to keep you out of the hospital, not prevent a positive test. That`s never going to be the goal. We`re never going to be successful with that. We will constantly be chasing our tail.
It`s to keep you out of the hospital. If that`s the goal, we`re going to get out of this pandemic, and relatively quickly.
REID: Well, that`s my goal. My goal is to never meet a ventilator. That`s my goal.
Dr. Vin Gupta, thank you very much. Really appreciate you.
And still ahead, the latest on that tragic school shooting in Michigan and the Republican death cult`s hypocrisy about the sanctity of life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Congress needs to man up, stand up, and fight for the American people.
And that means don`t fund a government that is tyrannically forcing people to get a vaccine that they don`t want to get.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: You all paid him. Your tax dollars are paying him.
We`re just three days away from a possible government shutdown. And Republicans are threatening to not just let it happen, but to make it happen, which would furlough hundreds of thousands of federal employees just three weeks before Christmas. Talk about a party of Grinches.
And why would they do that? Because they don`t like that the Biden administration is trying to prevent Americans from dying of COVID. The House Freedom Caucus sent the letter urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to shut it all down unless the bill to fund the government prohibits funding for the president`s vaccine mandates.
McConnell told reporters yesterday that a shutdown won`t happen. But it only takes one Senate Republican to object and thereby bring the government to a halt, at least temporarily. And it appears that there are at least a few Republicans who are willing to do it.
Meanwhile, we`re hearing near total silence from Republicans on another epidemic plaguing our country, deadly gun violence in our schools. Sadly, a fourth student has now died after a 15-year-old opened fire in a Michigan high school yesterday. It was the 28th school shooting this year.
Joining me now is Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.
And, Senator, it strikes me that Republicans are willing to go to the wall for some things, the right to have as many guns as you want and you can shoot up wherever you want, do that, the right to cough as many people as you want with COVID and get as many people sick as you want with COVID, and your kids get as many people sick as they want.
But they want to shut the government down because Joe Biden would like people to not die of COVID.
Your thoughts on all of that?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Yes, it`s pretty incredible, I mean, the lack of concern for life by Republicans, given their cavalier attitude about the 700,000 Americans who have died, given their complete uncaring attitude about the 100 people every single day who die from gun violence.
I mean, this is really incredible to see how far Republicans are willing to go in order to allow COVID to win, how callous they`re willing to be to the families in Michigan who right now are dealing with an incalculable amount of grief.
And so it really is pretty unreal to listen to Republicans talk about their concern for the sanctity of life, as this abortion case comes before the United States Supreme Court, because, when it comes to the lives we`re trying to save from a pandemic and gun violence, they`re nowhere to be found.
I mean, I have started calling them just to get them born and then it`s your problem party, because, right, they are very much interested in birth, but they don`t seem to be interested in life, meaning educating children, providing health care for our citizens, preventing people from dying from gun violence, preventing kids from not having to do school shooting drills, right, and know how to respond when they think there`s a mass shooter.
They don`t care about keeping people alive. It is something.
Let`s talk about a couple of the things that they`re also doing. I want to talk about Rick Scott for just a second, because not only are Republicans threatening to shut the government down, which means real people would lose money and lose their incomes right before Christmas.
But Rick Scott is actually cheering that prices are higher. Rick Scott said: "You can see what`s going to happen next. We`re going to continue to have inflation and then interest rates will go up."
And he`s the head of their Senate campaign arm, by the way, and saying that. He says: "This is a gold mine for us."
Are Republican seriously hoping that they can shut the government down and keep prices high, make people miserable, because it`s all about politics?
MURPHY: Well, it`s so curious to listen to Republicans complain about increasing costs, and then do everything possible to stop President Biden`s Build Back Better legislation, which is all about reducing costs, reducing taxes for middle-class families, reducing the cost of child care, reducing the cost of transportation.
Republicans, as you see now, are saying the quiet things out loud. They are telling America they`re rooting for higher prices, because they think that will help them politically, just like Senate Republicans are blocking all of President Biden`s national security nominees because they`re hoping for, they`re rooting for global chaos.
They think that will help them politically as well. It`s really, really dangerous. And I`m glad that they`re finally at least admitting to the American people that many of them, not all of them, but many of them are rooting for people`s economic failure, because they think that might win them some elections.
REID: And let`s talk about this government shutdown, potentially.
The government runs out of money, I believe, on Friday. If in fact, one or more Republicans objects -- and it could be Mike Lee. It could be Roger Marshall. They are both threatening to expedite the process -- or to slow things down.
Then what happens? How quickly do ordinary folks who have jobs working as the security guard at the museums in D.C. and other jobs lose their paychecks?
MURPHY: Well, remember, the best-case scenario might be that these Republicans register these objections, and we can`t open the government until Monday.
But we still need 10 Republican votes even for a continuing resolution to keep the government open and operating through the holidays. And I`m not sure we have those 10 votes yet, because many of them are going to play to the base, this very narrow subset of Republicans who are so antithetical to the vaccines and the vaccine mandates that they`re willing to shut down the government over it.
So I don`t think that you can throw out the possibility that the government will be shut down through Christmas. And to do that in the middle of a pandemic, to do that at the very moment that this new variant is approaching the United States, to lay off public health professionals, to compromise the safety of our hospitals right now, at this moment, it`s chilling, and it`s ultimately deadly.
So, listen, the best-case scenario at this point might be the Republicans are only so responsible that the shutdown lasts a few days.
REID: And the last time they did this for 35 days, it cost the government nearly $5 billion, and a lot of people a lot of misery and suffering.
Do the Democrats have the political will to do something big, meaning, if they can pass Build Back Better, maybe put something in there to prevent us doing these short-term fixes and do something longer-term? And would Manchin and Sinema even allow that?
MURPHY: Well, I mean, ultimately, you`re back to this conversation about restoring the Senate, about getting the Senate to a place where this tiny minority can`t stop us from doing business.
We didn`t used to have these shutdowns at the pace we have today.
MURPHY: We didn`t used to have continuing resolution after continuing resolution, because Republicans in the Senate 20 years ago actually believed in the efficacy of government.
So, rules reform at some point has to be on the table to disempower this radical minority.
REID: Yes, in the `90s, we even got gun reform. That even happened in America.
Senator Chris Murphy, thank you very much. Really appreciate you.
And before we go today, we commemorate today World AIDS Day. President Biden marked the occasion by calling for new actions to end the epidemic by 2030.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can do this. We can eliminate HIV transmission. We can get the epidemic under control here in the United States and in countries around the world.
We have the scientific understanding, we have the treatments, and we have the tools we need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: An estimated 38 million people are living with HIV worldwide. More than 36 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic.
And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.