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Transcript: The ReidOut, 12/14/21

Guests: Adam Schiff, Elie Mystal, Georgia Linden, Joe Madison, Charles Booker

Summary

House to vote on Meadows contempt referral. January 6 committee chair says, no possible justification for Meadows` refusal to cooperate. January 6 committee releases new text messages. House to vote on referring Mark Meadows to DOJ to face contempt of Congress charge.

Transcript

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:00:00]

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Let me put it like this. Every night is a good night to watch THE REIDOUT, but this is one of those nights where you may just have to watch the whole thing because it is a big news night. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid will have you covered as we watch the Hill. Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Hello. It`s not always exciting what is coming out of the Hill but it is today. So, we`re excited about it. Thank you very much, Ari. I appreciate it.

MELBER: See you, Joy.

REID: Have a wonderful night. Cheers.

All right, good evening, everyone. And, indeed, we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with breaking news from Capitol Hill. Within the next hour, the United States House of Representatives will likely vote to refer Donald Trump`s former chief of staff, who also happens to be a former colleague as a Republican member of Congress, for charges of criminal contempt. Now, if they vote to move forward with contempt and if the Justice Department follows through with charges, Mark Meadows would become the first former chief of staff to face prosecution since H. R. Haldeman of the Nixon administration.

Now, the problem for Meadows in this contempt proceeding is that he snitched on his team before he clammed up. He has turned over roughly 9,000 pages of documents that he himself claimed were not privileged but he`s now refusing to answer questions about those very documents in defiance of a congressional subpoena.

Here is how Chairman Bennie Thompson put it just before the vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): When you produce records, you are expected to come in and answer questions about those records. And because not even Mr. Meadows was asserting any privilege claim over these records, there is no possible justification for wholesale refusing to answer questions about them.

If you`re making excuses to avoid cooperating with our investigation, you`re making excuses to hide the truth from the American people about what happened on January 6th. You`re making excuses as part of a cover-up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: In other words, it is kind of open and shut. We`ve also heard new evidence today. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren revealed that Meadows was receiving texts from an official in Georgia during Trump`s infamous call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, telling Meadows to, quote, end this call, I don`t think this will be productive much longer.

Congressman Adam Schiff revealed that an unidentified person texted Meadows with knowledge of Trump`s plan to install an attorney general who would be receptive to amplifying his false claims of election fraud.

And Congresswoman Elaine Luria revealed that Meadows was receiving encrypted messages from a member of Congress. This comes after the committee revealed other damning messages that Meadows received in real- time as the insurrection was unfolding at the Capitol.

Trump`s own administration officials, as well as lawmakers on Capitol Hill and others, unambiguously demand demanded Meadows told Trump to take action to stop the siege, to quote just a few, POTUS needs to calm this expletive down. We are all helpless. Fix this now. Tell them to go home.

And Congresswoman Liz Cheney read more texts into the record this morning from Republican members of Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Here are a few others from Republican members. Quote, it is really bad up here on the Hill. Another one, the president needs to stop this ASAP. Another one, fix this now.

But we know hours passed with no action by the president to defend the Congress of the United States from an assault while we were trying to count electoral votes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: She might as well have added, tell Trump it was me who got him. I mean, the text from those Republicans made it clear that they believe that Trump and only Trump was capable of calling off the mob, which means that they knew that he was responsible for what was happening. Trump even ignored the pleas from his own namesake son who texted Meadows and weirdly not his dad to demand that his father show some leadership. He has to lead now, Donald Trump Jr. said. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.

But last but not least, Trump also ignored pleas for action from his right wing allies at Fox News, including Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade and Sean Hannity, which we`ll be discussing later in the show. I should also note that, per Mother Jones, Meadows mentioned none of those dramatic texts in his account in the siege in his new book which was published last week.

And despite the urgency of those messages, Trump didn`t lift a finger.

[19:05:00]

He allowed the siege to unfold for 187 minutes in dereliction of his duty under the Constitution. Meanwhile, two organizers of the rally at The Ellipse are poised to expose the members of Congress who participated in the insurrection. That is according to RollingStone, which reports that Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence will deliver testimony and turnover documents, including text messages that indicate the extensive involvement members of Congress and the Trump administration had in planning the House challenge to certify Biden`s election.

Joining me now is Adam Schiff of California. He`s a member of the House select committee on the January 6th attack and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Thank you so much for being here, Congressman.

I want to start with where I ended just there in the open. Two more people are poised to come forward, hand over documents and evidence specifically about members of Congress and about members of the administration who participated. At what point -- Chairman Thompson did say that, eventually, there will be a public release of who these members are. In your view, do not the constituents of these members have a right to know that their member of Congress was involved in an attempted coup?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Yes, they do. And what`s more, I think the whole country has a right to know what members of Congress were doing and what role they played in a violent attack on our Capitol. We`re trying to balance that need and that desire for the public to know with the investigative needs at this moment, and that is we don`t want witnesses to be able to benefit from public information and use it to shade their testimony or use it to conceal things because they know the length and breathe of what the committee possesses.

So, there will be a right time to make this public and, indeed, we`re going to be early in the New Year going to public hearings, which we`ve held back on for exactly the same reason. But, yes, I think they do have the right to know and they will find out.

REID: You revealed that an unidentified person texted Mark Meadows, who was chief of staff to the president at the time, with knowledge of Trump`s plan to install basically an attorney general who would do his bidding and attempt to undermine the election. Can you tell us who that person was?

SCHIFF: I can`t tell you who that person was. But with respect to some of these messages, we may not know who these people are. It`s one of the reasons why we want Meadows to come in. Some of these messages might come from numbers that we have not yet identified.

And so -- but that particular message is, I think, very notable because here you had a Jeffrey Clark reportedly involved in efforts to get Georgia to withhold appointing a slate of electors or appoint an alternate one, using prompter (ph) of the Department of Justice for these things, trying to get the leadership to make statements about nonexistent massive fraud and angling for the top job. And, apparently, this person texting chief of staff thought he got the top job and was going to be named on Monday.

REID: This is -- I`m glad you mentioned Georgia, because Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren testifying the idea that you had the former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, actually on the phone during some of this call in Georgia, which is the subject of a criminal proceeding. At this point, should Mark Meadows be concerned that he may face criminal liability the same way that Trump potentially faces criminal liability for what was done in Georgia?

SCHIFF: Well, I don`t want to comment on whether Meadows might face criminal liability. We already have witnesses who are asserting their Fifth Amendment right because they believe their testimony might incriminate them. They and their counsel have to make these determinations. But I do think that not only the Fulton County D.A. but, frankly, the Justice Department ought to be investigating the efforts of the former president and people around him to essentially find 11,780 votes that don`t exist, to find just the number of votes that would put him over the top and beat Joe Biden when those votes did not exist. I think if you or I or any of our viewers -- your viewers were in a recorded conversation like that one, we would be under investigation.

REID: Are we about to see multiple members of Congress potentially facing contempt charges or pleading the Fifth in what seems to be pretty vast conspiracy, for lack of a better word, among Trump supporters inside of the Congress, some inside of his staff, perhaps some inside of the Justice Department to try to overturn a lawful election?

SCHIFF: I don`t know the answer to that. I can tell you that in other investigations, in fact, the Russia investigation, we had a Democratic member of Congress come testify. We had a Republican member of Congress asked and come testify. There are certainly precedent for members to do that. Those members did so voluntarily. I would hope that those who have relevant testimony here would do the same.

[19:10:00]

If they don`t, then we`ll have to make those decisions at that point.

REID: You know, it`s been sort of fascinating to watch the kind of news that`s coming out, not just the RollingStone piece but this news that members of -- people who lived in the villages, which is a very Republican part of Florida also now have been charged with actual voter fraud. We`re actually seeing there was attempted voter fraud but it just seems to keep falling on the side -- Donald Trump`s side of the ledger. What do you make of the fact these attempts to sort of throw off this entire election as fraudulent and really detail, these memos were detailed, this PowerPoint was detailed when, in fact, the actual fraud was taking place among Republicans.

SCHIFF: Well, we`ve seen this time and time again and you probably remember, I think, in North Carolina a few years ago, a massive absentee scandal where people were picking up ballots and not returning them and that was all on the GOP side.

But what I find also so striking about this is they failed with this effort to essentially concoct fraud where it didn`t exist before but they seem to be putting in place the apparatus for 2024 where they can`t overturn the election, where they can succeed where they failed in 2020, even in the absence of any fraud. And that, to me, is among the most chilling things that they are doing right now.

REID: Even Mitch McConnell has seemed to express some interest in knowing the identities of lawmakers who may have been involved in this conspiracy. Are you concerned that if Republicans are able to take over in the House of Representatives and squash the evidence of this and end, disband this committee, which seems to be their goal, to just wait it out and try to disband this committee, that actual crime will be covered up?

SCHIFF: Well, first of all, we`re going to do everything we can in the Democratic Party to make sure that we hold on to the House. Because, frankly, if Kevin McCarthy were to become speaker, he would overturn the next election, just as he tried the last one.

But in terms of would they try to bring an end to the investigation, without a doubt, would that mean that certain things were not uncovered? We are going to be moving with all the expedition we can. We already are to make sure that we get out all the facts as soon as possible really to protect the public, to help us legislate in ways to protect the country. So, we`re doing that anyway. But, yes, if there is further information to be gleaned that we haven`t finished accumulating by the end of next year, and they should take over the Congress, there`s nothing they would like more than to cover up anything that may be learned.

REID: And I will just remind folks that after the insurrection took place, this is what Kevin McCarthy said. He said the president bears responsibility for Wednesday for an attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw it was unfolding. These facts require immediate action on President Trump. There seemed to have been a lot of agreement among Republicans at least at that time, including on that day. Odd that they changed their minds afterwards.

Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you very much. We always appreciate you being here.

All right, we will continue to keep an eye on the House floor where we expect any moment a vote on criminal contempt charges for Mark Meadows.

But up next, the stunning hypocrisy of Fox News hosts revealed by private text messages obtained by the January 6th committee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: Quote, Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy, Laura Ingraham wrote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Plus, the growing groundswell of activism in support of voting rights, Joe Madison joins us on day 37 of his hunger strike. We`ll also get a live report on rescue and recovery efforts in the wake of this weekend`s deadly tornado.

And later, are you not entertained? Tonight`s absolute worst is a feel good story that doesn`t actually feel good.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:15:00]

REID: So, it goes without saying that for Trump`s time in office and with few exceptions, Fox News and particularly a number of their on-air hosts acted as his unofficial advisers and time and again tried to play defense for the orange autocrat president. Case in point, their efforts to downplay January 6th, that`s no big deal and full of perpetrators that were anything but Trump supporters. But now, the January 6th committee has shined a bright scathing light on their hypocrisy by sharing what these T.V. personalities were texting Trump`s chief of staff as the Capitol was under attack.

That may come as no surprise to learn that it did not quite match what they were saying to their audiences that very night. Listen to what Laura Ingraham texted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: Quote, Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy, Laura Ingraham wrote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: And yet, here is how she portrayed the Capitol siege mere hours later.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Now, they were likely not all Trump supporters and there are some reports that Antifa sympathizers may have been sprinkled throughout the crowd. I have never seen Trump rally attendees wearing helmets, black helmets, brown helmets, black backpacks, the uniforms that you saw in some of these crowd shots.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: They don`t wear black. Brian Kilemeade this plea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: Please get him on T.V. destroying everything you have accomplished, Brian Kilmeade texted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: But then the morning news anchor made a late night appearance on Fox to say this.

[19:20:01]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS HOST: I do not know Trump supporters that have ever demonstrated violence that I know of in a big situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Uh-huh.

And even Sean Hannity, the prime-time host whose former executive producer literally went into the White House as Trump`s communications director for a time, felt the need to reach out to Meadows.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Quote: "Can he make a statement, ask people to leave the Capitol?" Sean Hannity urged.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: But, of course, on his show, he downplayed the actions of those very same Trump supporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Like all Americans, we watched this small group of people that was pretty big, but compared to the overall crowd, it was not the majority of people.

The vast majority in Washington, D.C., today were peaceful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: No matter how they try to downplay or blame Antifa or the left or provocateurs or whatever, their texts tell the truth.

Only Donald Trump could call off the insurrectionists because they were his insurrectionists. He is the one who called on those gullible thugged-out MAGA fans to bring the fight to the Capitol that day to try to overthrow a legitimate election, period, with a T.

Joining me now, Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for "The Nation," and "New York Times" columnist Michelle Goldberg.

And, Elie, I have to start with you, because it really actually doesn`t surprise me that what a lot of the folks on FOX are doing is acting, right? It`s thespians. They`re out there saying, we`re with you, MAGA crowd. But, behind the scenes, they were saying, oh, my God, please make it stop.

Your thoughts?

ELIE MYSTAL, "THE NATION": Yes, look, the FOX hosts are lying liars who lie. That`s what they do.

And they lied about this. They have lied about other things. And when you haul them into court and sue them for defamation about their lies, they will say in court, no reasonable person takes my show seriously.

That was the Tucker Carlson literal legal argument. No reasonable person takes myself -- my show seriously. And so -- and that worked, by the way. That was a fine legal argument that got him out of some legal hot water.

So we know what they are. They know what that what they are. Like, everybody is in on the joke, except for the gullible white supremacist viewers of FOX News. And that`s where we have the problem, right?

Like, look, I admit it`s hard for me to talk about, because, as black man, I don`t got family that watch that channel, right. I don`t have family that, like, buys into the white supremacist rhetoric that that channel puts out.

But a lot of you all white people do. You got a cousin, you got an uncle, you got somebody out there who is watching that trash. And you think you, as the reasonable person, think like, oh, it`s their fault. They took my daddy. They took my grandpappy. We have -- it`s Laura Ingraham.

It`s not their fault. It`s not FOX News` fault. Your family members are watching that because that is what they believe. Your family members are watching that because it fits the narrative that your family members have. And that`s where you have to break the chain.

These FOX News hosts, as you said, Joy, they understand that they are entertainers. They are telling the people what they want to hear. We have to work on why the people want to hear it.

REID: Well, it`s a good point, Michelle, because here`s the challenge.

I mean, they -- today, those who`ve been sort of paying attention to how they covered the Mark Meadows saga found that they didn`t cover it. I mean, Mark Meadows literally went on with Hannity, and they didn`t talk about his or Hannity`s interactions with each other.

They were interacting that day with Hannity, saying, oh, my God make this stop. And he was an adviser to Donald Trump, wanted it to stop. They didn`t even discuss it. FOX News ignored this story today.

And here`s the problem. They can ignore it because their people only watch FOX. They don`t go outside of the bubble. They`re never going to look over here. They`re only going to watch that. And they will come out of this really dramatic day, when the former chief of staff to the president of the United States goes down the H. -- the Haldeman route. And they won`t even know about it.

Your thoughts.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, my understanding is that some of these hosts are going to address this show on FOX -- or address these comments on FOX tonight.

But I think that you and Elie are exactly right about FOX`s contempt for their audience and their kind of unwillingness to break character. And, to me, part of the evidence for that is that, if you`re a FOX News host, and you want to reach Donald Trump, the way to do it is not to go through Mark Meadows, right?

We saw so many news stories over the course of the Trump administration about how the only way people in his own administration could get ahold, get through to him was to go on FOX News. So, if they were really worried about the Capitol, if they were really worried about democracy, and they really wanted to say to Trump, call off your thugs, they could have said it on TV, where he would listen, right?

But they didn`t want to do that, because they didn`t want to let their audience in on what was happening.

REID: Right.

GOLDBERG: And so, instead, they use this much less effective back channel.

[19:25:02]

REID: And here`s what`s sad.

You know who does have to go through Mark Meadows to talk Donald Trump?

GOLDBERG: Oh, God.

REID: Don Jr.

He don`t love you, Don Jr. You can`t even call -- you can`t even text your own daddy.

You literally had to call...

GOLDBERG: Although, can I just say -- can I just say that this was a genuine shock to me? I would not have pegged Don Jr. as more reasonable than Donald Trump.

REID: Oh, he`s the biggest actor of them all.

I mean, if you read Mary Trump`s account of that family, Donald Trump slagged him for even thinking about joining the military because he thought the military were losers. The relationship between the two people who are named Donald Trump, that`s a whole -- there needs to be a psychiatrist on this panel to sort of make that whole thing make sense, because there`s a lot going on there.

But even he comes out and is telling Mark Meadows, not his own father, but telling Mark Meadows, make it stop. He`s saying that he has to get out here and show leadership. He`s got out so leadership.

But let`s show Don Jr. on FOX News with Mark Meadows. And this is before the rally. Here he was dancing around. Let`s show him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: Mark Meadows, an actual fighter, one of the few, a real fighter. Thank you, Mark.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN OFFICIAL: Yes, has the courage to do the right thing, fight.

CHENEY: One of the president`s sons texted Mr. Meadows -- quote -- "He`s got to condemn this shit ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough."

Quote: "We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: It`s sad, sad, sad, sad. We will see if he addresses it.

Really quick, let me just make a quick turn, Elie, and ask you a legal question.

So, "The Wall Street Journal" reports that Trump has lost his bid to shield his tax returns. That`s another thing. The kids are going to be mad. They may not get anything. He may have to give it all to the tax man and may not be able to leave them anything. So they all have been doing all this pretending for nothing.

Your thoughts on whether the tax returns could be another shield dropping for the orange guy?

MYSTAL: That was a Trump-loving judge, by the way, who made that decision, a person who has made...

REID: Didn`t love him that much.

MYSTAL: ... pro-Trump decisions before.

And even -- that just shows that the entire tax return shielding argument was always bollocks to begin with. But, again, let`s remember Trump -- Trump got away with shielding his tax returns throughout an entire election cycle. And so, at some level, he`s already gotten the benefit of shielding his taxes.

But it can`t go on forever, is the thought. Eventually, as the man says, gravity always wins.

REID: Yes.

And I will just note, just for our audience, we didn`t get to it, but Washington, D.C., has now sued the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers over the attack on the Capitol. We will get into more of that.

We`re going to be following this story, you all. You know we keep up with this stuff. Elie Mystal, Michelle Goldberg, thank you both very much, my friends. Appreciate you.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

REID: Coming up: Hunger strikes by voting rights activists like our next guests are just some examples of how seriously activists are taking this latest threat to our democracy.

And we continue to keep an eye on the House floor, where we expect any moment of vote on criminal contempt charges for Mark Meadows.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:32:15]

REID: OK, we have some breaking news tonight.

The Senate has passed a bill to raise the debt limit by $2.5 trillion to prevent the U.S. economy from going into the tank. Democratic senators, with zero Republicans helping out, approved the measure by a 50-49 vote. The bill now heads to the House.

Yet a path forward on voting rights remains unclear. Today, we heard from Senator Raphael Warnock, who renewed his push to pass voting rights legislation in a speech on the Senate floor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Some of my Democratic colleagues are saying, but what about -- what about bipartisanship? Isn`t that important?

I say, of course it is. But here`s the thing we must remember. Slavery was bipartisan. Jim Crow segregation was bipartisan. The refusal of women`s suffrage was bipartisan. The denial of the basic dignity of members of the LGBTQ community has long been bipartisan.

So when colleagues in this chamber talk to me about bipartisanship, which I believe in, I just have to ask, at whose expense?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: This fight is at a crisis point.

And while the focus is often on the Manchin and Sinema games, what is lesser known and lesser seen is the nonstop on-the-ground protests that are escalating over voting rights and economic justice. It`s a fight that has taken on extreme measures.

Joe Madison, the legendary host of "Joe Madison: The Black Eagle" on SiriusXM, has been on a hunger strike since November 8. That is 37 days. And he isn`t the only one.

Joining now is voting rights activist Joe Madison and Georgia Linden, a student at the University of Arizona who`s also on a hunger strike for voting rights.

Thank you both for being here.

Joe, I first have to ask you, how are you doing?

JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: There are good days, there are bad days.

Today wasn`t necessarily one of the best physically, so I took time to rest, so that I could be here with you.

But I`m going to do what has to be done. And I can`t tell you how proud I am, and to see the commitment, particularly from the young people from Arizona and even West Virginia. They remind me very much of when John Lewis was very young and did sit-ins and demonstrations. And they are just a continuation.

This is important. But my spirits, Joy, are being lifted because I -- senators are telling me to keep it up, hit the streets, virtual, text, call. There appears to be -- well, I -- they are -- senators like Warnock and others are committed to getting this done by the end of the year.

[19:35:23]

So, that`s a -- but we -- it`s up to us now. That`s really what it boils down to.

REID: Yes.

MADISON: Yes.

REID: Well, rather than telling you to keep it up, maybe what they could do is pass the bill.

Here`s Senator Warnock. He gave an exclusive interview to NBC News. And this is what he said, because they changed the rules when they needed to in order -- I mean, they save the economy by changing the rules. They changed the rules when they needed to. Sure didn`t take them long. And Manchin went along with it.

(CROSSTALK)

MADISON: A hundred and sixty-nine times, yes. Yes.

REID: Fifty of them. And all 50 of them, including Manchin and Sinema, voted for it.

So, here`s U.S. Senator Warnock earlier today.

MADISON: Right.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

WARNOCK: We think it`s so important that we changed the rule in order to get there in order to save the economy.

Well, the warning lights on our democracy are blinking right now. And we seem unwilling to respond with the same urgency to protect the democracy that we have to protect the economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Georgia Linden, I have to ask you also how you`re doing. This is your ninth day on a hunger strike. You are not 72, as my friend Joe Madison is, but you are still a human being who needs sustenance and food, needs sustenance to live. So how are you doing?

GEORGIA LINDEN, ON HUNGER STRIKE FOR VOTING RIGHTS: I won`t lie to you. It`s very difficult. The hunger comes in waves.

But, as Mr. Madison knows, this Is an urgent issue, so it requires urgent action.

REID: But you`re in Arizona. Has your senator, Kyrsten Sinema, who is in the way of getting voting rights done, has she reached out to you and your colleagues?

LINDEN: My colleagues and I met with Senator Sinema earlier last week. She reiterated her support for this act, however, stood strong in not carving out rules of the filibuster to push this act forward.

REID: What did she say she`s going to do instead?

LINDEN: She said she would support it if it came up to vote again. But she`s not willing to go out of her way to make that happen.

REID: In other words, she -- I mean, this is the problem, Joe, is that you -- it requires the people who have power to give a damn. And it`s clear that that lady does not give a damn about voting rights, because, if she did, she would do what she did when she voted to change the rules to pass the debt ceiling, right?

MADISON: Yes.

REID: And so my challenge -- my question to you is the same. What have senators actually said to you they`re going to do?

Because if they don`t care enough to save the lives of people who are clearly on the side of democracy, I don`t know what else to tell them.

MADISON: Well, what I have been told is what we should do.

Maybe she then comes across now as not giving a damn, but maybe she gives a damn about her job, because, quite candidly -- and my message would be to Senator Sinema, you`re going to lose. And this is what the people of Arizona are telling you. You will lose. You will not be back in the Senate.

And there are senators who understand that, at this point in time, yes, they have the power to carve out the filibuster, and many of them are now approaching that. They`re now talking about it. That`s what I`m hearing from the senators: We`re talking about it. We are trying to figure it out.

And I know, Joy, because you and I have known each other a long time, and I can see it in your face, the skepticism. But this is when people must speak up. This is when we must pray.

So what I have been told is, everybody, use whatever resource you have and contact these senators, and tell them to do it, so that people know. Eric Holder was on my show today. And he said, look, they have carved out the filibuster more -- what did he say -- like they carve a turkey.

REID: Yes.

MADISON: They have done 100 and -- 160 times since 1969.

REID: Yes.

MADISON: And this -- what -- your segment before you just did, let me tell you what will happen if the House loses.

Let me tell you what`s going to happen. You know what`s going to happen. This country will flip.

REID: Yes.

MADISON: And so it`s now up to -- this is up to us.

REID: Yes.

MADISON: And that`s what I have been told. And I believe that they need to hear from everybody...

[19:40:00]

REID: Yes, indeed.

MADISON: .. that this is the cornerstone of democracy. It`s the vote. It all starts with our vote.

REID: And I`m just going to let folks know there are lots of people who are protesting. You guys are doing what you`re doing, which is super brave.

MADISON: Yes.

REID: But Bishop Barber is out there.

MADISON: Yes.

REID: Black Women`s Roundtable have been out there. Everyone is out there.

So, please, Senators, do something, please.

Joe Madison, Georgia Linden...

MADISON: Turn -- we got to turn everybody loose, yes.

REID: Indeed.

Well, you all, I wish you well. I truly do and hope that this works.

LINDEN: Thank you.

REID: Thank you very much.

MADISON: And thank you.

REID: Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" -- thank you -- is still ahead.

But, first, U.S. Senate candidate Charles Booker joins us to talk about the heartbreaking aftermath of those devastating tornadoes in his home state of Kentucky and several neighboring states.

And the U.S. House will vote on criminal contempt charges against Mark Meadows at any moment.

So, stay with us.

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REID: Eighty-eight people have lost their lives after a series of tornadoes hit six states over the weekend, leaving a massive trail of destruction.

[19:45:05]

The largest of the storms traveled more than 200 miles in what may be one of the longest tornado paths in U.S. history, likely fueled by unseasonably warm air for December. Welcome to the terrifying reality of climate collapse, AKA, climate change.

President Biden plans to visit Kentucky tomorrow to view the damage there. The state was hit particularly hard, with 74 dead, and more than 100 still missing, and more than 18,000 left without power.

Eight of those deaths were workers at a candle factory that was entirely leveled. NBC News has a stunning report that those factory workers were threatened with firing if they left amid tornado warnings. For hours, as word of the coming storm spread, as many as 15 workers besieged managers to let them take shelter at their own homes, only to have their request denied, the workers said.

At least five workers said supervisors warned employees that they would be fired if they left their shifts early. Company officials denied the allegations.

I`m joined now by NBC News correspondent Ellison Barber in Dawson Springs, Kentucky.

What`s the latest there -- the latest there?

ELLISON BARBER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Joy.

This is a community that President Biden is expected to visit tomorrow. At least a dozen people have died in this community alone. A number are still unaccounted for.

The woman who lived in this house that has now been reduced to a pile of rubble was trapped under all this debris underneath her mattress. She showed us the bruises up and down her arms, the puncture wounds where nails from falling debris literally went into her arm.

If you look over here, you will see this gigantic truck. I asked her if this was her car. And she told me she has no idea where it came from. But she crawled by this when she finally was able to make it out of this rubble, .

Survivors, they really don`t know where to begin here, because, if you look around, everything is gone. This woman, she told me: I am 52 years old. I am a single mother and I have lost everything. But I am alive.

To give you a sense of where people go from here, this woman was here with the help of one of her son`s friends, looking for her purse because she needed her driver`s license. She lost her car, and she has no way to get a rental car because she has no I.D. She has no money. And, as she said, the bills don`t stop even when you have gone through something as traumatic as this -- Joy.

REID: My God. My God,

Ellison Barber, thank you very much. Wow. Thank you.

With me now is former Kentucky state Representative Charles Booker, who is a candidate for the United States Senate.

And, Charles, my friend, it is good to see you.

I have to first ask how your family, your community are doing.

CHARLES BOOKER (D), KENTUCKY SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Joy, it`s good to be with you again.

My family is holding up. But we`re all grieving. The pain and the trauma is really hard to put words to. I will cry tonight, like I have had the past few nights. We`re seeing something that I could have never imagined.

And the hardest part is still before us, as we try to piece together what the future looks like.

REID: Yes.

No, it`s difficult. And so I have to ask you. Let`s start with these factory workers, because I feel like this is a story partly about this country just deciding to ignore climate collapse and just pretend like it isn`t happening.

And now we are here in the midst of it, the fires, the floods, the tornadoes, the weather that shouldn`t be happening in December. It`s here, and we`re living amidst it. And the people who are suffering the most are going to be the people you talk about a lot in your campaign, people who are low-wage workers.

This candle factory collapse is a huge tragedy, people who were told, you will be fired if you don`t come to work, even though there was a disaster coming. Your thoughts?

BOOKER: That`s absolutely right.

I think the collapse of this factory speaks to a lot of challenges that we have ignored as a society. We have exploited people. We have chosen to look away from the climate crisis. We have chosen to avoid the investments in our infrastructure. We have chosen profits over people.

And, as a result, there were hardworking Kentuckians who we`re told that, if they left to be safe, they would lose their jobs. They chose their job to take care of their family. And now some of our loved ones are gone.

This is really a moment where we have to address our priorities. And I`m lifting this up in my campaign for Senate, because I know that Kentucky deserves better. Our country deserves better. And, honestly, Joy, I have called this the great exploitation.

We have been taking hardworking people for granted for so long, that we haven`t had the chance to experience anything other than poverty for generations here. It has to change. And, hopefully, a painful moment like this can really jar our conscience, so we can stand together and fight for that.

REID: Yes, it`s kind of odd to have one of the most powerful politicians in the country be representing your state in terms of Mitch McConnell, and still have that much poverty, and then the man you`re running against, Rand Paul, who`s now apparently for disaster funding.

He`s asked it to be expeditiously moved forward for his state, but when it came to Puerto Rico, his quote was: "People are full of great compassion when it`s someone else`s money."

[19:50:06]

He was opposed to disaster funding for people who were devastated by a hurricane in Puerto Rico, but really just really took pretty nasty swipes at it. He`s now said that that criticism is false, and that he only cares that it`s being paid for. Your thoughts?

BOOKER: Well my focus has been on the people of Kentucky, my family, the folks that I love dearly. I`m running for them. But the fact of the matter is, I am running against a fraud.

Rand Paul is a liar. Rand Paul does not care about us. He doesn`t care whether we live or die. He wants to hold onto his seat that he doesn`t want to do anything with. And it`s a joke to see that he is saying, OK, well, let me give $100,000 out of my campaign funds to help relieve the people that I have abandoned for too long.

And my response is, well, it`s good that special interests and lobbyist money will finally actually help people Kentucky for a change.

Look, we are trying to build a brighter future in the midst of such incredibly hard times. And we need to get Rand Paul out of the way, so we can do that part.

REID: And his objections to giving money to the people in Puerto Rico, he claims it`s just about fiscal responsibility.

What do you make of the fact that suddenly now he doesn`t have -- I mean, Kentucky needs the money. And, by the way, we all want Kentucky to get the money. But the fact that he said no, no, no when it was every other state, particularly states full of black and brown folks, let`s just be real, even though Kentucky has as well, that he now is like, but I want the money now.

Your thoughts?

BOOKER: Well, I think that challenging times really expose leadership, but they also expose hypocrites.

And he has stood in the U.S. Senate and blocked relief for so many of our loved ones across the country over the years, including the 9/11 first responders. When a crisis hits...

REID: Yes.

BOOKER: ... Rand Paul is nowhere to be found.

And so now, in this moment where he feels the heat...

REID: Yes.

BOOKER: ... because the people of Kentucky are ready to remove him from his seat, he wants to show up.

But it`s too late.

REID: Yes.

Well, I wish you well. Wishing well for your family, your community and obviously the entire state of Kentucky. And we are so sorry for what happened. And God bless all of you. Thank you, Charles Booker. Appreciate you being here.

And tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is straight ahead. It is heartbreaking and enraging. Oh, my God, you do not want to miss it.

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[19:56:00]

REID: America is in the midst of a second Gilded Age, as millions of Americans struggle to get by, while the ultra-rich get richer on the heels of a pandemic that`s only exacerbated our country`s already radical wealth inequality.

Just look at this weekend, when teachers in South Dakota were invited to a dash for cash event at a hockey game sponsored by a local mortgage company.

As is so often the case, it was billed as something heartwarming to do something awesome for teachers. But what exactly is heartwarming about 10 underpaid teachers, people given the responsibility of taking care of other people`s most precious resource, their children, during a pandemic, no less, crawling around on an icy floor stuffing dollar bills into their shirts for a few hundred bucks for classroom supplies, while spectators cheer them on?

That is not heartwarming? It`s a dystopian nightmare, Squid Games American style, or the Hunger Games. According to the National Education Association, South Dakota is ranked second to last in the nation in teacher salary.

And teachers across the country have long been shelling out their own money to pay for school supplies, which they should not have to do. Meanwhile, also filed under, what does this say about our country, this week, "TIME" magazine named world`s richest man Elon Musk as person of the year, the same Elon Musk who says Democrats should can President Biden`s Build Back Better bill, which would help women and children and families, while calling for an end to all government subsidies, even though he built his empire with government subsidies.

Meanwhile, his competitor in the billionaire space race, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, celebrated another launch of his space tourism for high rollers rocket, and only later acknowledged the six Amazon workers killed in the collapse of one of his company`s warehouses during Friday`s devastating tornadoes.

It goes without saying, instead of spending billions on becoming rocket men, they could pay their share in income taxes, since ProPublica found that they have paid virtually nothing.

But even the faux right-wing populists who claim to care about the little guy are just in it for the grift, like Christian Walker, son of Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel, and, oh, yes, a professional -- professional influencer, complaining about gas prices.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIAN WALKER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You all said Joe Biden was going to be the great unifier?

This is divisive to my bank account and my hard-earned money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Well, that man of the people was wearing a $1, 300 sweatshirt for that screed. And he later said the people dragging him were just jealous and lazy poors.

But what do you expect from a supporter of the literal gold tower-dwelling former president who continues to grift his supporters, collecting a billion dollars for a social media company that does nothing?

But like the robber baron of the first Gilded Age, some of today`s ultra- rich think that they can just throw cash at the problem through charity. Jeff Bezos spends billions on his 10-minute space tours, but, in June, he announced a $200 million donation to "Today, Trump became president chatter" Van Jones, and the wonderful Jose Andres for the charities of their choice, when he could have just not spent billions to do what NASA already did in the 1960s.

And that is why that video of South Dakota teachers is so, well, disgusting. Charity stunts that purport to do something good just mask the reality of our societal failures. Instead of reveling in a gladiator-style scramble for cash for classroom supplies -- and the organizers for the hockey team and sponsor have since apologized -- the haves could just pay their fair share, and then we could properly fund public education and pay teachers a living wage.

If teachers had appropriate paid leave, or our health care system wasn`t absurdly unaffordable. We wouldn`t get good news stories about teachers donating sick days for their cancer-stricken colleagues. There`s nothing inspiring about citizens forced to GoFundMe their way into a social safety net.

And we need to recognize this poverty porn for what it is, because American inequality and our consistent refusal to address our broken system is the "Absolute Worst."

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.