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Transcript: The ReidOut, 12/10/21

Guests: Tim Miller, Bhavik Kumar, Christina Greer, Andrew Zimmern

Summary

Election workers face unprecedented threats. Trump`s big lie leads to threats against officials. Op-ed says, January 6 committee needs to get louder. House panel subpoenas individuals involved in organizing and planning January 6 rally.

Transcript

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for watching THE BEAT with Ari Melber. You can always find me online @arimelber on social media or in arimelber.com. I`m wishing a great weekend.

THE REIDOUT starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT with a frightening display of intimidation. Now, what you`re about to see in here is just one of the many threats that Georgia election worker Ruby Freeman received after being falsely accused by Donald Trump of rigging votes in the state against him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cannot say what specifically will take place. I just know that it will disrupt your freedom and (INAUDIBLE) the freedom of one of more of your family members.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: That video is part of a nightmare story detailed in two-must read reports from Reuters today, which shed new light on the disturbing power of the big lie. The video, which was recorded at a police station by a body camera, shows the 62-year-old Freeman with a woman named Trevian Kutti, she is the one who threatened Freeman that people were going to disrupt her freedom. And as unbelievable as it may sound, Kutti has been identified by Reuters as a publicist for hip-hop artist Kaney West, who is friends with Donald Trump.

Kutti showed up on Freeman`s doorstep earlier that day claiming she was sent by a, quote, high-profile individual to give Freeman an urgent message, confess to Trump`s voter fraud allegations or people would come to her home in 48 hours and she would go to jail. That`s why they agreed to meet at a police station where Kutti put Freeman on the phone with someone that tried to get Freeman to implicate herself in committing voter fraud on Election Day.

Despite their attempts to intimidate her, Freeman refused to confess to something she didn`t do. But the scariest part is that, according to Freeman, the FBI called her the next day and urged her to leave her home of 20 years because it wasn`t safe. Freeman describes in a lawsuit how she left hours before a mob of angry Trump supporters surrounded her home shouting through bullhorns. Since then, she`s moved from house to house in fear of her safety.

And as disturbing that is, it is just one part of the Trump-fueled intimidation effort that`s been waged against Freeman and against election workers like her. She was put through a living hell and yet the threats have not been investigated by local police or state authorities, according to a review of Georgia law enforcement records.

It is clear evidence of how the big lie trickled down among Trump`s devotees before culminating with the siege of January 6th. Meanwhile, the committee investigating the insurrection issued a new wave of six subpoenas today. And while their targets are not marquee names, all had some role in coordinating the rally at The Ellipse that preceded the attack on the Capitol.

Joining me now is Tim Miller, Writer-at-Large at The Bulwark, and Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Attorney and MSNBC Legal Analyst.

And I`m going to start with you, Barbara. This is wild. This story of Ms. Freeman who had to change her appearance because she was afraid her photograph was widely circulated by right-wingers after the election to interview her Reuters had to agree not to describe the way she looks today. Reuters has also documented more than 850 threats and harassing messages election administrators, including about 100 that legal experts say could be prosecuted under federal law but almost no one so far has been held accountable.

How is it possible, how is it possible that this woman could be essentially tortured and tormented by someone who is Kanye West`s publicist and it not be a crime?

BARBARA MCQAUID, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, certainly, Joy, it`s very disturbing that people who are the backbone of our democratic process, the people who work at our elections, I think about my own polling place, it`s mostly senior citizens who go in there and work long days to make sure that everybody`s vote gets cast. It`s thankless work. It`s very low-paying work, and they do it because they love democracy and they love America.

And now we see people being threatened, harassed and harmed. This is the very kind of thing that the Justice Department has made it a priority to prosecute. And that in all that backlash from Republican senators, saying you`re trying to stomp on people`s First Amendment rights to speak out against, you know, the election officials and school board members and others, we really have to change that narrative and protect people, like people who are working as poll workers, as election officials, so that we can continue to have those people in those places.

[19:05:09]

And so I don`t know why a decision has been made not to file charges in a case like this. I would hope that someone is seriously considering the facts, identifying the perpetrators and making sure that justice is served because it isn`t important just to protect this individual but to have the deterrent effect necessary nationwide so that people will feel comfortable continuing to serve in these important roles.

REID: You know, I mean, I think about the people who work where I vote. They`re elderly women, black women, in the case of where I vote and they`re -- as you said, they`re not getting paid a lot of money to do this, Tim. This is a low-paying job people do because it`s their civic duty and someone has to do it, where I voted for years in New York, those were same women every year. They are always there. They show up every year.

And yet, somebody like Ms. Freeman -- let me play her 911 call real quick. Again, we know one of the names. They don`t have to search for them. Reuters found them. One of them is Kanye West`s publicist, Trevian Kutti, and another unidentified man. This is them arriving at her door and Ms. Freeman calling 911. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They keep saying that time is running out and I`m going to need some representation. They`re saying that I need help and they can help me because they say they coming after me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know who these people are?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, that`s why I wanted the police to come and I go outside and talk with them with the police being there. I`m not talking now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: This is a thugocracy, Tim. That`s what this is. This is the kind of thing you`d think you would see in a so-called third world country. This is warlord-ism. And that is what the Republican Party is up to now and that`s what Donald Trump unleashed on his party and this country. Your thoughts?

TIM MILLER, WRITER-AT-LARGE, THE BULWARD: It`s not a one off, joy. I know you`ve covered this before, but the Salt Lake Tribune wrote a couple of days ago about this thing called the Utah Voter Verification Process, where people are going door-to-door in Utah, a state Trump won, by the way, to try to identify fraud in order to prove that there is likely fraud in other states, I guess, is their four-dimensional chess thinking behind this.

But, again, that`s intimidating. It`s not the same intimidation as Ms. Freeman went through, but someone is coming to your door, demanding to see documents to prove that you are who you say you are and then match them against the voter rules, that`s a thugocracy. As you said, that is intimidating.

And then I think the downstream effect of this is it`s not just -- and, obviously, we should be concerned about the largely seniors, as you point out, people who vote at the -- excuse me, who work at the polling places, but this goes up to people who want to work in local election administration jobs. Who would want these jobs with that kind of intimidation?

And we saw back in my home state of Colorado in Mesa County an insane MAGA election administrator in the western slope in Colorado tried to fabricate fraud on her own machines to prove that there was -- so they could help prove that there was fraud in these other states.

And so if you look ahead to 2022, 2024, you can see just a natural decline of normal regular folks, some of them Republicans even, by the way, who were like my do I want to have this trouble? And they are going to be replaced by people who are looking to potentially cause trouble, looking to undermine our democracy. So, you know, I think there is a lot of downstream effects of this kind of intimidation.

REID: Indeed. And, Barbara, I mean, I can go all the way back to 2012 when this organization called, True the Vote, was running around bragging that they wanted black voters to feel like there was a police officer following them, that that`s the feeling you should have when you go to vote, in their view. And their thing was to watch voters in an intimidating way to try to bully them, right, to bully particularly voters who they assumed were going to vote Democratic.

You now have the Supreme Court look the other way as state after state like Texas and Georgia have passed laws that will allow more poll watching, more voter intimidation. They`re not going to use that on white voters. They`re going to use that on white voters in rich counties. They`re going to go right into black and brown counties and try to make voters afraid.

This is not democracy by any stretch of the imagination. What do you make of the fact that so far our judicial system has done absolutely nothing to stop this and to protect the voters in this country and to protect people like Ms. Freeman who -- I mean, the Three Percenters, Tim talked about Colorado, that same Utah story, talked about the fact that the version of that in Colorado, the Three Percenters are involved in that. Those people are former law enforcement. They`re armed people. This is terrifying. It is not democracy. Why isn`t the judicial system doing anything about it?

MCQAUDE: I think the first step, Joy, is the prosecutors have to do something about it. We need to have cases come into court so judges can make decisions on them. And you`re right, this is in effort to intimidate people to keep them away from the polls. I know we hear stories about people who, you know, show up in a business suit holding a clipboard, trying to appear that they`re someone official and saying things, like I hope your child support is all paid off, I hope nobody has any outstanding traffic warrants.

[19:10:11]

Because when you get to the front of the line and show your I.D., we`ll be arresting people. And so people slowly trickle out of the line because they don`t want to risk those kinds of things.

And, of course, that`s all not true. It`s all just a farce designed to discourage people from voting. And the truth is, that is in this country, we are seeing an increase in population in black and brown voters and there are people who want to cling to power in the way they`ve always known things to be and they want to suppress those numbers. If we had a majority rule in this country, we would see Democrats winning handedly in races. And because people know they can`t win a fair game, they`re trying to cheat. And that`s what we`re seeing here, intimidation at the polls.

But you need to win elections through hearts and minds and ideas, not through intimidation. And so I`d like to see more prosecution of those who are intimidating voters and poll workers.

REID: It`s the `80s South Africa strategy, Tim. It`s you suppress the majority population, the emerging majority, which includes liberal whites and voters of color. That is the majority. And so they`re attempting to forcibly suppress it.

The investigation that you`re seeing with the January 6th committee, Eugene Robinson has a piece out today saying it`s too slow, and that this sort of tidy and calm response. And the committee, I`m sure, is doing great work. They`re interviewing lots of people. But is it taking too long and do you think that that strategy is effective, that it`s not on T.V. every minute the way Republicans did Benghazi, it`s not in your face, they`re not pushing, do you think that that`s a mistake?

MILLER: I`ll get to that. I just want to object a little bit to one point you`re making, that it kind of makes the voter intimidation thing worse is that I actually don`t know there is that there`s proof that the more people vote, that necessarily helps Democrats. The biggest non-voting demographic in this country is working class white people. That`s the biggest by raw numbers of people who don`t vote. So, if everyone voted, there would be more working class white people voting than some of these --

REID: To be more specific, Tim, it`s poor white people. You know who doesn`t vote? Poor white people. It`s not even working class white people, it`s poor white folks. But I think that the right is trying to do is to appeal to their id (ph), to say don`t think about what you can get from government, just think about being white. Think about the fact that non- white people are trying to take over the country. Think about every minute, think about how afraid you would be if non-white people ran this country. They`re trying to appeal to the worse instincts, the tribal instincts, because they know that. They ain`t doing this. They`re doing this to get out more of those people. They want to get more of them to vote. But I`m sorry, go ahead. I think we agree about that.

MILLER: I think there are some folks participating in that, others that aren`t. But my point is that like, the undermining democracy isn`t even necessary. It`s bad strategy and it`s corrupt, right? And so -- and I think that, to me, is I think the important to understand that they`re trying to cut these corners by suppressing vote when they actually have a lot of opportunity in a Trump party to get voters. Anyway, that`s for another day.

But on January 6th, I think that this is a criticism that we could maybe level next spring. Talk to me next spring. You know, I have friends that are working on the committee. They`re obviously not sharing private stuff with me. But it seems like they are going through a thorough process, a gist kind of what is leaked about what Mark Meadows alone gave them alone before he quit to get back in Mr. Trump`s graces, I think is really damning, and there`s a bunch of other stuff that hasn`t yet leaked.

And so, look, I think that if we`re in the same place now next July, you know, there should be a pitch fork out there saying, what are you doing committee? Like let`s get on T.V., let`s do something. But I think that there is a reasonable amount of time, there is a lot of folks they`ve got to get through. And the names that you just that they added, Brian Jack is one that stands out to me. He worked in the White House and then moved to work for McCarthy. So, I think that a lot of the obstruction you see from McCarthy is because he knows that he`s got people inside his own house, like Brian Jack, who are complicit in this. And so I think that it`s note worthy that they`re adding somebody like him.

REID: So, these hearings that are going to take place on Monday, we`re going to be covering them on this show. And I can tell you, we`re going to be talking a lot about that Powerpoint presentation that Mark Meadows has apparently turned over, 38-some odd page Powerpoint, a step-by-step how to overturn the election, the Jenna Ellis memo, in which she essentially stated that the vice president of the United States could legitimately ignore the election and essentially steal it for Donald Trump.

There was a systematic attempt to steal this election from its rightful winner in order to force Donald Trump to stay in power. It`s frightening how detailed and how thorough these people were. But, hopefully, that is what the January 6th committee will bring out and whoever they have to subpoena, if they have to charge everybody with obstruction, please get this information out so that this does not happen again and that next time they`re not successful.

[19:15:04]

Tim miller, Barbara McQuade, thank you both. I really appreciate you both.

REID: Up Next on THE REIDOUT, the United States Supreme Court leaves the extreme Texas abortion law in place, but that is not the end of the battle.

Plus, the stunning level of food insecurity in America, my conversation with award-winning Chef Andrew Zimmer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hungry children don`t study well, sleep less, more prone to disease. The cost escalates because then they start becoming a health care problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

THE REIDOUT continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:20:00]

REID: The faith of a fate of abortion rights in America rests with the Supreme Court. Today, it ruled that abortion providers can challenge a Texas law that imposes the ban on abortions after six weeks, before many people even know that they`re pregnant. The court also ruled that the law will remain in place as these legal challenges play out.

The nation`s most restrictive abortion law went into effect in September.

It places a bounty on abortion providers for anyone that aids and abets patients trying to obtain an abortion.

[19:20:09]

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor slammed the Texas law as an unconstitutional scheme enacted in open defiance of women`s rights, writing: "This choice to shrink from Texas challenge to federal supremacy will have far-reaching repercussions. I doubt the court, let alone the country, is prepared for them. The court should have put an end to this madness months ago."

Without an injunction, the vast majority of abortions remain inaccessible. Even more harrowing, the Texas law is only the beginning.

Joining me now is Dr. Bhavik Kumar of the Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Houston, Texas, and who is an abortion provider, and Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University.

Let`s start with you first, Dr. Kumar.

Can you talk about the real-world repercussions of the Supreme Court allowing this law to stand, this Texas law?

DR. BHAVIK KUMAR, PLANNED PARENTHOOD GULF COAST: Yes, absolutely.

It`s been over 100 days that we have been living in Texas under Senate Bill 8. And we have known that, when you ban abortion, it doesn`t stop people from needing abortion. So we continue to see people who need to not be pregnant.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people that we see, we can`t take care of them under Senate Bill 8, and we`re having to tell them to go out of state, to find child care, to find time off of work, to find the financial resources to travel, while we`re still under a global pandemic.

And for many patients that I see, that`s simply not a reality. That`s not a possibility. And so a lot of people are being forced to carry their pregnancies to term. And it`s simply unethical and inhumane to be the conduits of this law every single day.

REID: Yes, it`s a forced birth law, not -- it`s -- there`s nothing humane or pro-life about it. It`s just forced birth. They just want to make people give birth.

KUMAR: That`s right.

REID: And then they really could give a damn what happens to the woman, the child.

They don`t really care, Christina, because this is only about controlling women and punishing women, because they want women to be 100 percent in the control of men.

There`s the -- this is a distance. The Guttmacher Institute puts out the data of how far women would have to travel one way to seek an abortion if a total ban is put in place. In Louisiana, you would have to go 666 miles, 575 in Florida, 542 in Texas, 495 in Mississippi, 384 in Montana.

And we`re talking about, about 26 states that would instantly have laws that would ban abortion, if in fact Roe and I would say when Roe goes.

Your thoughts on this. Sonia Sotomayor is a hero. She`s the voice of conscience on that body, but she`s kind of on her own. There are three votes, and the other side has six.

CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Absolutely, Joy.

I mean, first of all, we have to say I have been very critical of former President Barack Obama, but we have to say that this appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the bench is one of the crown jewels of his accomplishments.

REID: The best, yes.

GREER: We -- just without stop.

I think, when I talk about abortion and Roe v. Wade in class, I want to be very clear, because Democrats also have fallen into the trap of saying pro- life and pro-choice. This isn`t a discussion about pro-life, because, as you said, Joy...

REID: No, it`s not.

GREER: ... Republicans don`t care once a baby is born.

They also, by and large, believe in the death penalty.

REID: Correct.

GREER: So let`s take off that table.

We`re talking about pro-choice or anti-choice. Does a woman have the autonomy over her own body to make decisions that she thinks is correct? And we have so many men -- and I`m sure Dr. Kumar can say this -- so many men who don`t understand the physiology of what it takes when a woman does or does not have her period. And we know that so many women do not have regular periods, especially women of color who are dealing with fibroids at young ages.

We also know that most women don`t know that they`re pregnant at four weeks or six weeks. So, just the pure bottom line of how we even know about pregnancy and know about sex, and we know it`s not going to happen.

I mean, abstinence only, we have seen time and time again, the states that are Republican-controlled states that have abstinence only, they have pregnancy rates, they have high STD rates, they have high rates of people having unwanted pregnancies or using sort of un -- backroom abortions, like it`s the 1960s.

REID: Yes.

GREER: And so it`s really an assault, an attack on women. And it will be a real assault and attack on women who don`t have the same means, financial means, as others, because, as we have seen, 500 miles, that`s time and the cost, not just the emotional cost, the physical costs of buying gas, finding someone who has a car, which we know that many women, especially in rural and suburban communities, actually don`t have access to that, to say nothing of staying over to some of these places that make you wait, say, 24 hours.

You could lose your job while waiting. So you`re making a choice for yourself and your family. And there have been so many brave women who have spoken up about getting abortions and how it really saved their life, so they could actually do the thing that they wanted to do later on in life.

REID: Yes.

GREER: And I think a lot of men and women, Republican women, don`t understand it. And, sadly, many of them are on the bench.

REID: Well, I mean, you`re in a state, Dr. Kumar -- I mean, that these states that are trying to ban abortion are also at the bottom when it comes to maternal health, women being able to survive childbirth, period. They won`t expand Medicaid, so a lot of the time, 18, 19 percent of their population are poor, don`t have health care. They`re at the bottom for education, the bottom for children going hungry.

[19:25:23]

So, once these children are forced -- they force women to carry these children, it`s not like they`re getting great health care in the state of Texas. It`s not like they can even maybe be warm in their home. They don`t even care about the power grid. They don`t care if these people live or die after they`re born.

There`s a story here, Zaena Zamora of Frontera Fund in Texas, who lives in the Rio Grande Valley, who says: "We`re looking at 12-plus hours to get your abortion appointment. Many of the people don`t have paid time off," as we just heard from Christina Greer. "That`s just the beginning. There`s child care money for food, lodging, transportation."

You just heard that from Christina Greer as well.

Can you talk about the women who are coming in and getting care? Because I think a lot of Republicans believe that abortion is some casual thing people are choosing to do, like a fun thing to do on their day off, that they don`t care, and that there`s no emotion involved, that there`s -- they don`t -- they aren`t concerned.

Can you just talk about the women that you`re seeing? And who are they?

KUMAR: Yes.

Yes, and just to respond to that, I don`t think it`s that Republicans don`t understand. I think they may understand. It`s just that they don`t care, right?

REID: Yes.

KUMAR: It`s the caring part that`s missing there are so many of them.

But the people that I see are thoughtful. They know what`s best for them. They oftentimes already have kids at home. They know what it`s like to be pregnant. And it`s important to just think about pregnancy, in and of itself. Carrying a pregnancy and being pregnant has not only physical tolls, but also mental tolls.

And that`s something that somebody has to consider and decide if they want to continue and take on, if it`s right for their family, if it`s right for them, if it`s right for everything that they have going on.

And then, if they have been pregnant before, they know what it`s like. They know what it`s like to have a child. They know what resources are required, what it takes to raise a child appropriately. And many of my patients are saying to me that I simply don`t have that to give. I don`t have the financial resources. I don`t have the ability to parent a child. I`m not in the right place.

And they`re making a decision that`s smart, making a decision that`s mature, thoughtful, and rational about what`s best for them and, again, oftentimes what`s best for their families. And it doesn`t mean that it`s always easy, but they know it`s the right decision.

And we do that all the time in our lives. We make decisions that may be difficult, maybe complex, maybe nuanced, but we know it`s the right thing to do. And that`s what all of my patients are experiencing.

REID: Indeed.

And there`s no -- none of these Republicans would -- don`t even want to allow the state to make a decision that they should protect other people by wearing a mask over their face in case they have COVID. They want that decision to be up to them whether or not they infect other people with a potentially deadly virus, but they believe women should not have that agency and essentially be in loco parentis by the men of their states.

That`s what they think should happen. It`s unfortunate and horrifying.

Dr. Bhavik Kumar, thank you for all that you do.

KUMAR: Sure.

REID: Christina Greer, thank you my friend. Appreciate you both.

Up next, I recently spoke with the World Food Program`s new goodwill ambassador, celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern, about the worrying rise in food insecurity right here in the U.S. and what we can do about it. It was a fascinating discussion.

Do not miss it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:32:33]

REID: The world has been grappling with the grueling realities of the COVID pandemic for nearly two years now.

And while things have improved for many of us, thanks to the vaccines, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of nearly 800,000 Americans. Stress and anxiety have also taken a brutal emotional toll on millions more. Many have lost their jobs and their homes and are struggling to feed their families, which has exacerbated food insecurity in this country.

Researchers at NYU found that nearly 15 percent of U.S. households and close to 18 percent of households with children reported food insecurity early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

NBC`s Ali Vitali spoke with one of those families recently about what it`s like to feed their family in this challenging new world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I can feed my family for 10, 12 bucks a night, that works.

ALI VITALI, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: What happens when you get towards the end of the month?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s not.

VITALI: The father of two boys in Orange County, California, lost his home and job during the pandemic and joined SNAP, the government`s supplemental nutrition assistance program, previously called food stamps, to help feed his family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want any noodles?

VITALI: It`s forced some tough choices in the checkout line.

What has that been like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Humiliating. You got to pick and choose your battle. Who am I going to upset, myself, my kid, what kid? It`s not going to be the full fulfillment of a meal.

VITALI: The decisions made in these aisles go way beyond dollars and cents. Staying on budget can mean the difference between fruits and vegetables being swapped out for less costly sugary cereals and processed foods.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Last year, more than 38 million people lived in food-insecure households. More than nine million adults lived in households with very low food insecurity. Six million children lived in households in which both the children and the adults were food-insecure.

And half-a-million children lived in households in which one or more child experienced very low food security.

I recently spoke with award-winning chef, social activist and the new goodwill ambassador for the United Nations World Food Program Andrew Zimmern, and I asked him how COVID exacerbated the food insecurity problem in this country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREW ZIMMERN, GOODWILL AMBASSADOR, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: Well, just like it`s done globally, we have experienced a potential 15-year setback in the fight against hunger and the fight against food waste.

Globally, it`s the same story as it is here at home. It`s conflict, climate change, COVID-19 and the rising cost of food. And it is absolutely staggering to me that, in America of just -- of the end of 2021, that we are still sitting here talking about a problem that is solvable, because we produce enough food to feed all Americans, as well as the seven billion- person global population.

[19:35:17]

I will also point out to our viewers the numbers that you put up on the screen are probably anywhere from 10 to 25 percent too low. One of the problems of stats when it relates to hunger and food insecurity is, there aren`t a lot of people jumping up and down, those who are willing to say, yes, yes, yes, I need food, I`m not able to feed my family.

That very brave man, who was in the scene we just saw that Ali was reporting on is a responsible parent who`s out there saying, yes, this is this is the situation that I`m in.

But we have found there`s so much stigma attached with hunger, it`s the people who were above the poverty line pre-COVID, that 15, 18 percent of Americans that dropped below the poverty line in March of last year, April of last year, those are the ones who are not jumping up and down raising their hand.

It`s absolutely heartbreaking. And it is all related to those four C`s, climate change, cost, COVID, and conflict.

REID: You know, it`s interesting that you mention climate change, cost, and COVID, and conflict.

There`s a big debate right now about whether or not Democrats can get through this Build Back Better act, which a lot of what it addresses feels like it`s about this. I remember you and I talked almost a year ago now about the RESTAURANTS Act and having to like try to help people at every level of the food chain.

You need to make sure that the restaurant workers can still work, that the people who do the meatpacking can still work, and making sure it all kind of works, when there was some help for people back then and PPP, et cetera.

But now it`s like, how are we having this fight about whether to extend, let`s say, the child tax credit, give people a little bit more money to buy food with? Does it strike you as just insane that we are still dithering about whether or not to spend more money to make sure that people can get three square meals a day?

ZIMMERN: I think it`s beyond insane.

You and I have talked about this so many times. I have used the word criminal when we talk about hunger. It is not a problem that we don`t have a solution to. We have enough food in America. We don`t have the political will to actually change the laws.

When you just talk about children, we have schools all over America. If we passed a national school meals program, where we fed young people and use schools as the hubs -- they are all over. Whether or not a child is attending a certain educational facility, their are schools spread out all over. They all have cafeterias.

If we subsidize schools to the degree that we subsidize farmers who are growing crops for export, by the way, farm to freighter, not necessarily food for human consumption, we would be doing ourselves a much greater service.

Not only are we consigning those children to hunger, but, remember, they`re greater chances that their outcomes are going to be less efficient than we would want. Hungry children don`t study well, sleep less, more prone to disease. The cost escalates, because then they start becoming a health care problem.

And they get some of the big food-related diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, as young adults. And we`re seeing early onset pediatric diabetes numbers going through the roof, because, as we saw earlier, people are being fed cheap calories, instead of healthy calories.

We really do have a national embarrassment here that borders on the criminal. We have enough food to reach people, and we desperately need Congress to take notice of this. It`s shocking to me.

REID: Yes, absolutely.

I know, when we were kids in Denver, we used to go to McGlone Elementary School, which, whether or not that was your elementary school in the summer, we could get a meal, right?

ZIMMERN: That`s right.

REID: That saved a lot of kids and a lot of parents who didn`t necessarily have money to pack a lunch in the summertime.

Last thing. There is this Venn diagram. I want to put up the states where you have the biggest food insecurity. It turns out it`s the same states that have the lowest rates of getting people vaccinated. It turns out it`s the same states where Medicaid wasn`t expanded. It turns out that there`s just this part of America -- unfortunately, it is red America -- where you`re seeing all of this.

Isn`t it the case that the more that kids are out of school, let`s say, because of COVID, they have to learn at home, the more they`re away from a good nutrition program, the more that they`re basically trapped by COVID, the hungrier kids are going to be?

Don`t we have to solve COVID in order to start solving hunger?

ZIMMERN: I think it`s -- you`re not incorrect. And I agree with you. I know where you`re going with this, and I agree with you 100 percent.

[19:40:01]

It`s really a Mobius strip. So you just have to sort of drop in anywhere on that Mobius strip, and solve the problem, and, eventually, if you go astronaut style, question by question, and solve it, you can solve it.

I will describe it a slightly different way. We have talked about those near 800,000 people dying. Some people say they have died of COVID. Some people have asserted they have died of disinformation. I did not clone -- I have cloned that comment. I did not create it.

REID: Yes.

ZIMMERN: It`s the same thing with the hunger issues as well. There is disinformation about food in those states, about nutrition in those states.

The disinformation battle is being lost. And that`s increasing our hunger challenge as well.

REID: Yes, absolutely. And if you increase those comorbidities, like diabetes, et cetera, it actually makes you more vulnerable to dying of COVID. It`s all connected.

Andrew Zimmern, you are great, thank you so much. Always appreciate the chance to talk with you.

ZIMMERN: Thank you, Joy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

REID: All right, well, "Who Won the Week?" is still ahead, but, first, sorting through an absolute avalanche of political news from across America and around the world with Dean Obeidallah and Tiffany Cross.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:45:18]

REID: President Biden`s democracy summit came to a close today, as the United States continues to grapple with its own small-D democratic crisis, the Republican Party`s total embrace of the disgraced, twice-impeached former president`s big lie.

Today, NAACP Legal Defense Fund president Sherrilyn Ifill told the summit that the former president was just the accelerant to a dangerous flame that was already building.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERRILYN IFILL, PRESIDENT, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND: Democracies require constant tending. And racism and the denial of equal justice remain a part of American life.

What began as an assault on the right of racial minorities has now metastasized into a full-on assault on our democracy itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Joining me now, Dean Obeidallah, MSNBC columnist and host of "The Dean Obeidallah Show" on SiriusXM, and Tiffany Cross, host of "THE CROSS CONNECTION" on MSNBC every Saturday.

You all should be watching and listening to both of these programs.

Let`s talk about this democracy challenge.

And I will start with you, Dean. It was great to see Sherrilyn Ifill out there speaking up for democracy. It`s great that the president convened this summit. I`m glad they`re giving attention to it. But do you think that calling attention to it in the way that they did, is that a good first step, or what are your thoughts?

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, MSNBC DAILY COLUMNIST: I think we`re almost at the point where Western democracies are going to hold a summit about our democracy. I mean, look what happened in America. They`re going to be sending their thoughts and prayers to our democracy, if the Democrats don`t show the fierce urgency of now.

I have never been more concerned about my democracy, this democracy, ever. Yet what`s concerning to me is, there was a poll two months ago. Only 40 percent of Democrats think our democracy is under attack, yet 70 percent of Republicans think it`s under attack. Why? Because the GOP leadership in one voice is saying, they`re taking away your right to vote. They`re taking away your voice.

And Democratic leaders are making a speech here and there, and not one unified, loud voice saying, our democracy is under attack. So I think this democracy summit, sure, great. We need one in America. We need President Biden, Vice President Harris, and other Democratic leaders and Chuck Schumer traveling the country talking about this, even if it alienates some Republicans they want to do bipartisan work with, because these guys have passed 33 laws in 19 states.

And they`re embracing violence as well, our democracy under threat.

REID: Yes, I mean -- and, I mean, Joe Madison, the Black Eagle, is currently on a hunger strike for voting rights. We just found out today that some Arizona students are now also on a hunger strike to try to push Kyrsten Sinema to try to at least care about voting rights, which she says she does.

We have this headline here, Tiffany, that, during the whole hold up a Bible photo-op that Donald Trump wanted to do, according to Mark Meadows` book, he also told staff that he wanted police to bust some heads of Black Lives Matter protesters outside of the White House.

He said: "Not only do you have the authority. I want you to go out there and bust some heads and make some arrests. We need to restore order."

He wanted that to happen, so that he could go up and do his Bible photo-op. So this is an autocrat. It`s not a normal president. The fact that that`s in a book, and that he got away with it, your thoughts?

TIFFANY CROSS, HOST, "THE CROSS CONNECTION": So, that was my thing, Joy.

I`m really surprised that other people are surprised when revelations about his inciting violence comes out. We always knew who this man was. On the campaign trail....

(CROSSTALK)

REID: Hold on. We got -- hold on one second, Tiffany.

You -- we`re having some issues with your audio, I`m going to let you -- I`m going to let the sound go ahead and work on your audio. Hold that thought, because I want you to come back and talk about it and finish your thoughts.

CROSS: OK.

REID: So we`re going to get your audio cleaned up.

And I will go to you on that, Dean. I mean, the treatment of protesters in this country is something that, if it was another country, we`d be saying, oh, we need to get the U.N. in there, or we need to get one of our agencies in there...

OBEIDALLAH: Right.

REID: ... because this is a country that is not normal, right?

When the Tiananmen Square thing happened, we said, oh, China, there`s something wrong with the way that you`re treating protesters. The president of the United States wanted a Tiananmen Square-style moment so that he could have a photo-op.

OBEIDALLAH: And -- you`re absolutely right -- other countries -- our own State Department would want sanctions against another country if they were doing that to their people.

But, in America, the GOP has no problem with it. This is the same Donald Trump really is the Bull Connor of the 2020 year, in what he wanted to use, violence against black protesters, and their white allies, who simply wanted equality for black people, simply wanted black lives to matter, the same Donald Trump who said NFL players who took a knee in silence, that was too much for him, called them SOBs, and said they should be fired.

Donald Trump`s consistent about one thing, his demonization of people of color for political gain. And, sadly, Joy, sadly, it plays well in this GOP.

REID: Yes, I mean, he`s even now mad at Netanyahu. He said F. him because he congratulated Joe Biden. Like, that guy was a complete sycophant to him, completely -- was his -- anything Trump wanted. He sort of made him a hero in his country, in Israel.

[19:50:05]

And the way he talked about Jewish people, thinking American Jewish people were citizens of Israel, all that stuff, Netanyahu was fine with all of it. And now he`s like, F. him. He congratulated Biden.

I want to talk to you about this other thing, because we have had this sort of rash of Republicans who are like posing with their children with guns, doing these sort of demonstrations of sort of, this is our potential level of violence that we could show, which we know either a Muslim or black family would be attacked for doing it.

And just their -- this sort of reveling in violence and reveling in shooters and lifting up and building up people who shoot and kill people as heroes, very quickly, Dean, and then I want to get Tiffany back in.

OBEIDALLAH: It`s part and parcel of this GOP.

It`s authoritarian. Plus, it`s embraced violence, which is why we say, academically, it`s a fascist movement. They do not fear threatening us with weapons or a January 6-style attack. They actually are literally defending the attackers.

As a Muslim, if I ever dared defend any terrorist, I would have been destroyed. But the GOP is literally defending the terrorists who attacked our Capitol, and they`re fine with it. That`s who the GOP is.

REID: Yes. Absolutely.

OK. Tiffany, we got your audio back.

Finish your thought about the violence that was perpetrated for the book- hold-up photo-op.

CROSS: Well, I want to just really quickly piggyback on what Dean said.

Not only would Dean be vilified if he defended, but this society requires that every Muslim you know come out and just distance themselves from these kinds of attacks. And I think we need to start demanding the same of these Republicans.

And speaking of violent Republicans, yes, the Trumpster fire that was Donald Trump, he called for violence on the campaign trail, Joy.

REID: He did.

CROSS: You remember, in the audience -- he would speak to people in the audience and say, knock the hell out of him. I will pay your legal bills.

And his supporters were violent, which, again, this is all cyclical. This is why I have a challenge when people say, oh, it ain`t your grandmother`s Republican Party. I beg to differ, my friend. It absolutely is. This is the only Republican Party I have known.

Do we think what happened on Edmund Pettus Bridge was peaceful? Do we think the multiple lynchings and jokes about lynchings that still exist amongst them in the Republican Party are just hyperbolic? I mean, these are things that are rooted in historical facts and data that they are adamantly trying to keep not being taught anywhere, so they can reinvent a narrative.

But we have the memory, the scars and the receipts, Joy.

REID: Yes.

CROSS: The Republican Party has constantly been rooted in this kind of political violence.

REID: And my favorite when they try to dunk on us on social media saying, yes, but that`s the Democratic Party, we`re like, we remember the white flight out of the Democratic Party when black folks started voting in it. You all left and went into the Republican Party, which no one ever thought that Southern white people...

CROSS: Exactly.

REID: ... would ever want to be Republicans because of Lincoln and their hatred of Abraham Lincoln.

But they hated having black folks -- sharing the party with black folks more. And so you saw this white flight out of the Democratic Party, which, yes, used to be the right-wing, violent party of lynching and the Klan. People exited that and went in your all party now. Now it`s the Republicans.

We know history. We actually like learning history.

CROSS: Exactly.

REID: Dean and Tiffany are sticking around to play "Who Won the Week?"

And that is just after the short break. Don`t go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:20]

REID: Well, we have made it to Friday once again, folks, so now when it`s time to play, ah, yes, "Who Won the Week?"

Back with me, Dean Obeidallah and Tiffany Cross.

Dean Obeidallah, who won the week?

OBEIDALLAH: Well, it was your birthday, so you sort of won it.

(LAUGHTER)

OBEIDALLAH: But someone else -- somebody one you mentioned earlier, Joe Madison, legendary radio host. I consider him a friend.

He`s finally getting the press attention after over a 30-day hunger strike.

REID: Yes.

OBEIDALLAH: He`s lost over 20 pounds. He`s a 72-year-old black man risking his life, so that we can all vote.

REID: Yes.

OBEIDALLAH: And the reason I think he won the week is, it`s finally in the press. Social media went viral this week.

Democrats, President Biden, Chuck Schumer, get out there.

REID: Yes.

OBEIDALLAH: Fierce urgency of now.

For Joe Madison and for all of us, do it now.

REID: Yes, and now there`s some -- we were just talking about it earlier in the show. Some Arizona students have also launched their own hunger strike. They`re matching what he is doing. It`s a movement.

And do not let this man wither away for nothing. Come on, administration. Come on, Democrats. Come on, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. Step up. Step up. Democrats can do this on their own if you all get with the program.

That`s a good "Who Won the Week?" We love Joe.

Tiffany Cross, who won the week?

CROSS: OK, well, after that depressing topic reminding us of our falling democracy, I just want to give your viewers a little bit of Joy and say, Clifford Smith won the week, probably better known to your viewers as Method Man.

Why? Because look at him. The man looks amazing.

REID: Yes.

CROSS: He just came out this week in an interview and said that he wants to star in a Marvel film. And I say, let`s do it.

He`s 50 years old. He is laser-focused on fitness. He made a beautiful transition from hip-hop to movies. And he`s just doing such great work. And just for research purposes, I watch his fitness videos over and over, because he`s all I need to get by, OK?

I say Method Man won the week.

(CROSSTALK)

REID: M-E-T-H-O-D Man.

I`m just saying it`s because he`s fine, is what you`re saying, because that`s true.

(CROSSTALK)

REID: We`re just being objective.

CROSS: Yes.

REID: We`re just being objective. I mean, he`s fine. He should be a Marvel hero.

CROSS: You know?

REID: You all should do that. Please do that.

CROSS: I agree.

REID: By the way, I think the other person who won the week, not just because you chose the right fitness videos to watch -- very good choice -- but you also won the week, Tiffany Cross, because it is a one-year -- turning 1-year-old is "THE CROSS CONNECTION" on MSNBC.

I cannot believe it`s already been one year. "THE CROSS CONNECTION" has hit the toddler stage, 1-year-old. My God, it has been an incredible, incredible journey. I watch it every Saturday. I would never miss it.

In a normal world, I would have said Joe Biden, because, I mean, the economic numbers look incredible. But I got to go with Tiffany Cross.

But, Joe Biden, you co-won the week with Tiffany.

Thank you so much, Dean Obeidallah, Tiffany Cross.

Be sure to join Tiffany tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern on "THE CROSS CONNECTION." Her guests include Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Atlanta mayor-elect Andre Dickens.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.