Biden announces winter COVID plan as omicron rages. Biden blasts purveyors of lies and misinformation about vaccines. Biden announces free at-home COVID testing. Biden announces free COVID tests, and for hospitals.
ALICIA MENENDEZ, MSNBC HOST: That does it for me. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid is up next. Hi, Joy.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing? Thank you, my sister, have a wonderful, wonderful evening.
MENENDEZ: You too.
REID: Cheers. All right good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT with President Biden addressing the nation as omicron, now the dominant variant of COVID in the United States, surges across this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: This is not March of 2020. 200 million people are fully vaccinated. We`re prepared. We know more. We just have to stay focused.
Look, the unvaccinated are responsible for their own choices but those choices have been fueled by dangerous misinformation on cable T.V. and social media. You know, these companies and personalities are making money by peddling lies and misinformation that can kill their own customers and their own supporters. It`s wrong. It`s immoral. I call on them to purveyors to these lies and misinformation to stop it, stop it now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: The country is back on a war footing in its response to COVID-19 and it is indeed very much a war. In the U.S., COVID has killed more than 820,000 people. Confirmed cases have topped more than 51 million.
And the president today unveiled a battle plan that focused not only on vaccines but also testing. The initiatives include 500 million rapid at home COVID test kits shipped free to Americans starting next month, new federal testing sites with several of them debuting in New York City before Christmas, use of the Defense Production Act to increase manufacturing of COVID tests, the deployment of military personnel, to hard hit hospitals and FEMA response teams prepared to help hospitals at capacity.
It`s a plan that comes after nearly two years in a pandemic that refuses to quit, the anxiety and frustration and, frankly, the fatigue of this moment is amplified by the unpredictable nature of the variants, how quickly they can force us back into the harrowing early days of the pandemic. Those long testing lines, they`re back. Outbreaks on cruise ships are back. Hamilton and other shows on Broadway are canceled through Christmas. Several NBA and NHL games are now postponed as COVID upends the sports world once again. New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams is delaying his inauguration ceremony amid omicron rapid spread, and several elected leaders from senators to governors are reporting positive tests.
This nightmare scenario could not come at a worse time during what will likely be the busiest travel moment of the pandemic.
This was the part President Biden wanted you to hear, those holiday plans can continue without fear of COVID`s worst outcomes if, if you`re vaccinated. To the millions who remain unvaxed, he`s talking to you.
Joining me now is U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. Thank you very much, Dr. Murthy. It`s always great to have you here.
I feel like we have just gone around in a circle due to the number of Americans who are refusing to be vaccinated. This thing is just spreading. It`s gone now. It`s omicron. Who knows what the next variant will be. So, I guess, what do we do at this point? I mean, we`re not moving, that people who refuse to get vaxxed and the pandemic is just basically morphing and morphing and morphing thanks to them. What do we do now?
DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, Joy, trust me, I hear you on the fatigue and frustration. I felt it and a lot of people around the country are looking at what is happening right now, and our country with omicron and wondering where we go from here. And a couple of things that I want to put in perspective. One is, as frustrating as it is, to see cases go up and to see this new variant. We actually have more tools than we had when this all started, more tools that can actually help protect those of us that want to make decisions to protect our health and the health of the people around us.
Now, we didn`t have vaccines back in March of 2020 but what we`ve learn is even with omicron, that if you get vaccinated and especially if you get boosted, you get protection up to pretty high levels and you certainly have great protection against the worst of COVID, hospitalization and death. The thing that we have to do is make sure that we`re not only get vaxed and boosted but that we`re encouraging the people that we love to do the same. We have seen time after time, Joy, that it is conversations between family members and friends that ultimately can help people get vaccinated and boosted.
But we can also use our mask. This will work to help reduce spread. We can use testing -- rapid testing to make gathering safer. It`s a layer precaution you can choose to add. The bottom line is if we have more tools, Joy, and as frustrating as it is, I do believe we will get through this omicron wave.
It`s going to take some time, it`s going to take some weeks for cases, which will go up and then eventually will come down. But I do believe that we will get through it together.
REID: I will note that President Biden has tested negative for COVID NBC News is reporting. He was masked during contact with an aid that tested positive for COVID and so he`s testing negative so that is actually good news but the White House is anticipating more cases in the coming days.
If somebody like President Biden who is very careful, someone in his vicinity, someone who is around him winds up testing positive, I think for a lot of people who are vaccinated, part of the fatigue is we still know a lot of people who are getting sick, who are getting, maybe not really getting sick from it, but are catching COVID.
It feels like it`s kind of unstoppable at this point. Do you think that perhaps we waited too long to send out massive amounts of tests, that maybe we should have gone back into something like a lockdown? Are we reacting to it, are we sort of chasing our tail now with this disease?
MURTHY: Well, it`s a good question, Joy. And I`m glad you brought this up. Because over the days ahead many of us were likely going to have a family members and friends who tell us that they`re testing positive for COVID.
The reason for that is because this is an incredibly transmissible variant. I remember when delta arrived, now this seen, Joy, we we`re talking about how much more transmissible that was then alpha, the variant that preceded it, but we`re seeing with the omicron variant, that this is a whole new level of transmissibility.
So those breakthrough cases will happen but and here is the key, the most important job of the vaccines, the most important job is to save our life and keep us out of the hospital and by that measure, these vaccines will still work especially if you are boosted but we are going to hear about these breakthrough cases and I realize that can and will be unsettling for many people.
We`re unfortunately seeing this around the world. The U.K. and South Africa and countries throughout Europe they are seeing the rapid spread of this variant and it`s stuff to watch.
REID: You`re one of the smartest people that I get the pleasure to talk to on this -- I love talking with smart people General Murthy, but I`m going to ask you about one of the dumbest people, sorry to say in public life. His name is Jessie Watters. He should do a thing when he would run up on people in the street and sort of try to embarrass them and that`s got him a sweet deal over Fox News for a show.
He made a comment in which he used the term kill shot to talk about Dr. Fauci. There has been this sort of war on Dr. Fauci, which caused him to face death threats but he talked about him and used the term kill shot saying that people should ambush Dr. Fauci and record their confrontations, their kill shot confrontations and ambush him and accuse him of basically causing COVID but I guess he thinks somehow Dr. Fauci invented COVID or got together with some nefarious scientist in China and invented it and invested in the creation of it.
It`s the dumbest stuff ever and I hate asking about stupid things but I`m going to ask you, have you heard that about that comment and do you have a response to Jessie?
MURTHY: Well, Joy, I did hear about the comment and you know, and Dr. Fauci is a close colleague. He`s a good friend but most importantly he is a public servant of high integrity who is sought to served the United States of America for more than four decades and he`s somebody we should thanking for the efforts that his made to keep us safe during COVID-19.
But for anybody out there to use language that would encourage violence or speak to violence, not just against Dr. Fauci but against anybody, especially somebody who is trying to good for the country, that`s reprehensible.
It`s not modeled in a kind of values I certainly would hope to raise my kids with. I`ll tell you this, too, Joy, we as a country in moment like this, so we have to come together. We shouldn`t be splintering apart. We shouldn`t throw bombs at other people and trying to turn people against one another.
The voices of disunity, voices that endorse violence, those are the voices that threaten to tear our country apart and make it harder to get through a pandemic like this and lastly I`ll say this, if somebody like that worked in my office in any organization that I ran, they certainly wouldn`t be working much longer after a comment like that.
You know, we -- all of us, in the rules that we have in our life, we have choices to make about whether we support or tacitly endorse values and statements like that, that endorse violence. And this is a time where we have to take a stand against the kind of nonsense and disgusting rhetoric that I think it poison public debate and turn people against each other and we need people to come together and to face this dangerous pandemic.
REID: Well, I appreciate you always being willing to come on and talk with our audience, with people are very nervous and very scared and you`re a calming presence. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, I appreciate you, sir. Have a wonderful holiday.
MURTHY: Thanks so much. Joy, it`s really good to be with you.
REID: Thank you.
Well, joining me now is Mara Gay, MSNBC Political Analyst and member of the New York Times Editorial Board and NBC News Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss, host on Far Sight History on Peacock. Thank you both for being here.
Mara, I`m going to start with you, because you know, we kind of reached the stupid phase of the pandemic I hate to say. Because we have readily available vaccines that are free. Administration is now going to send for free the test kits, which are actually kind of expensive, like $25. If you don`t have $25, that`s really expensive.
They`re going to now send them to anyone that wants them for free. They`re going to use the military. They`re going to use the resources to make it easy for you to get tested and there are, you know, we can treat COVID now a lot better.
We know more about it. But we still have 800,000 bodies on the ground, in the ground because people are like I don`t believe COVID is real. And I won`t stop, and I won`t stop it myself from giving it out to other people.
I don`t know what to do at this point, Mara. You suffered through it. You`ve dealt with COVID. I don`t know what else to say. Do you have any words you can offer me as a word smith and brilliant woman? I don`t have anything left to say. I don`t know what else to say.
MARA GAY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I would say that, you know, I think we`re all so weary we`re starting to lose perspective here but what is true is that we are going to see the end of this pandemic, I believe. I think that things are better than they were a year ago, they certainly better than they were in March and April of 2020. So we don`t want to lose sight of that.
It is true that even though this variant is spreading very rapidly, the death rates are still much, much lower than they were and so that`s just something to be grateful for. I really think that this is a time for public officials and public health officials, as well, to just stay the course in terms of urging people to get vaccinated, to get boosted but also I think we really need to start talking about some urgency around not just expanding testing but really marching forward with research and production of treatments that are going to break this link between infection and severe illness and also, longer term outcomes like long COVID.
Part of what is heartbreaking about the timing of this variant striking now and in New York where I live is that we are probably just several weeks or months away from seeing drugs like Paxlovid from Pfizer, which are going to potentially cut down the risk of severe illness particularly for the millions of Americans who are high risk and we`re talking about tens of millions of Americans who could become severely ill from COVID.
People with diabetes, obesity, people who are older, people who have asthma. So I really think that public officials should really work hard to create urgency around that. That includes hopefully seeing the White House enact the defense production act so we can actually produce those pills that could be life saving and get them into the hands of more Americans.
Yes, we`re going to live with this virus, the difference is hopefully we need to live with it in a way where it doesn`t end or change people`s lives. That`s the goal and we need to stay the course.
REID: Yes, and I think that if they`re going to use the defense production act, we should be sending them around the world to countries where people are not going to -- well, I don`t want it. People want it around the world and we could save a lot of lives around the world. If Americans don`t want it, maybe we can send it to other countries.
You know, Michael Beschloss, I feel like there are two presidents who committed really what should amount to criminal negligence when it comes to pandemics. It`s Woodrow Wilson, who is a terrible man, a racist and horrible human being, but who also let more than 670,000 people die, civil war level death from what the so-called Spanish Flu, just out of sheer negligence.
I want to add President Reagan who looked the other way as far as the AIDS pandemic and wouldn`t say the words. Donald Trump who, clearly, criminal negligence what he did in allowing -- knowing that it was airborne, admitting it in February that it could kill people and letting people die. And so now President Biden inherits that mess. What do we do? What can he do?
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I remember, Joy, you and I have had good talks about Woodrow Wilson, especially the fact that he was happy to take all sorts of presidential power and use it to bolster himself to fight World War I and make himself popular, but when it came to fighting in the pandemic of 1918, he not only didn`t do anything about it but hushed it up.
He said, Americans, as you and I have talked about, American soldier and sailors do what were called coffin ships to Europe, basically killed a lot of people, especially warriors in wartime.
Nowadays we expect the president to use every power in his command to deal with an emergency like this and I hate to mention the unmentionable 45th president, and I will not mention his name, but think what this would have been like a year ago when you had a president with those 5:00 follies (ph). You remember every day he would make a statement on what he was doing or more or less to the point not doing about COVID. And I don`t know about the two of you but I think I know about the two of you, but I won`t presume to, I would watch those things just praying that he would not say something that I knew would lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people unnecessarily.
Remember the time when he said I told my people slow the testing down, please.
BESHLOSS: That verges on almost a crime against humanity.
The point I`m saying is that Joe Biden may not always be perfect and he may not always say the perfect thing, although he`s done awfully well on COVID, in general, but you have got a president who respects science and wants to help people and who is compassionate and who has a heart. We don`t have to be as terrified as it we were a year ago or as people should have been on the time of Woodrow Wilson.
REID: Yes. You know, God Bless Joe Biden. He is not perfect. You know there are a lot of things we can complain about President Biden but he actually is a caring human being who does want the whole country to survive this and there are just people there who are decided to turn him into the devil just because they would rather hear, you know, Tucker and all of those clowns in a vaccinated -- they probably the most vaccinated company in America is Fox News. They`re all vaccinated. They`re going to live through this and let their viewers and fans die because they don`t give a damn. It just clicks to them. It`s just -- they don`t care what happens. This is fun for them. You know. God bless --
BESHLOSS: Hundreds of thousands of people are supposed to die to undermine Joe Biden and help the Republicans.
REID: It`s sad. That`s what they think. Yes. They let them die. If it gets them power, then let as many people die as they`re going to die. They don`t care.
Mara Gay, thank you very much, Michael Beshloss, I`m wishing you both a very happy holiday. Thank you for being here.
BESHLOSS: Thank you, same to you. Same to you both.
REID: Thank you. And the latest episode of Fireside History with Michael Beshloss, Holidays at the White House is streaming right now on Peacock. You should check it out.
Up next on THE REIDOUT the January 6th committee turns its attention to a sitting member of Congress as it weighs criminal referrals for Trump and others.
Plus, developments as we await verdicts in two very closely watched trials, Kim Potter and Ghislaine Maxwell. The Potter jury has come back with a couple questions for the judge.
And tonight`s absolute worst, bad faith and bad decisions lead to bad outcomes for the people you`re supported to represent. THE REIDOUT continues after.
REID: The select committee investigating January 6 is getting serious about accountability.
They`re now considering more criminal referrals, and not just for contempt of Congress. "The New York Times" reports that they`re now weighing whether they have enough evidence to recommend charges for a range of crimes. And that includes two in particular, wire fraud by Republicans who raised millions of dollars off assertions that the election was stolen, despite knowing the claims were not true, and whether Trump and his allies obstructed Congress by trying to stop the certification of electoral votes.
Now, a criminal referral does not mean that charges will necessarily be filed. Only the Justice Department can do that. But, at the very least, it could be the wakeup call that Attorney General Merrick Garland needs to finally open a criminal probe.
Meanwhile, for the very first time, members of the select committee have requested testimony and documents from one of their Republican colleagues there. They`re ask -- excuse me.-- they`re asking Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania to answer questions about his role in an effort to install Trump loyalist Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general following the election.
It was just one part of a larger scheme by Trump and his allies to use the credibility of the Justice Department to service the big lie. The evidence suggests that Congressman Perry was central to that scheme, which may explain why he`s refusing to cooperate.
Joining me is Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney and MSNBC legal analyst, and David Jolly, national chair of the Serve America Movement and a former Republican congressman who`s no longer affiliated with the party.
Let`s start with -- this is the committee`s statement on Congressman Scott Perry today.
It says: "Representative Perry has information directly relevant to our investigation. If members with directly relevant information decline to cooperate, and instead endeavor to cover up, the select committee will consider seeking such information using other tools."
Joyce Vance, other tools could mean another contempt of Congress citation for this -- for this man. He`s a current representative. What could these folks who refuse to cooperate potentially be facing in terms of legal charges?
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I suspect that what happens next here is a subpoena to sort of ratchet up the level of compulsion that`s being used against Congressman Perry.
The January 6 Committee didn`t go into this request that they made to him without anticipating that he might not comply with it. So, it seems very likely that they had a plan in advance. And that would involve constantly going up the next level, seeing what happens when they issue a subpoena.
And then, if he declines to comply, they will, quite frankly, have to be -- make this decision about whether they want to refer a sitting congressman to the Justice Department for prosecution for contempt of Congress.
And a big part of that calculus has to be that, if Perry gets away with refusing to comply, then they will have very little ability to compel the folks who come behind him.
REID: Right. Right.
And, David, I mean, what do you make of the fact that we have now reached our first member of Congress, sitting member of Congress, who could wind up getting a contempt charge? I mean, Meadows is a former member. And what do you make of the fact that you have this sitting Republican member of Congress refusing to comply with subpoena -- to supply with a request from the body he serves in?
FMR. REP. DAVID JOLLY (R-FL): Yes.
REID: He serves in Congress.
JOLLY: Yes, that`s right.
Well, first, Joy, I came on to listen to Joyce`s legal analysis, because this is actually a really unique situation. But let`s start with the baseline, which is, who would not cooperate with the January 6 Committee, member of Congress or not?
JOLLY: If you have information related to the events of January 6, you share them. That is the calling of patriotism.
But you do have a sitting member of Congress who now is trying to -- ultimately will try to invoke some privileges and defenses against testifying. House members have what is referred to as the speech and debate clause, which is this wide latitude given to members over all types of speech, whether it`s in the chamber or outside of the chamber.
And I am curious. I think, to overcome that, I think the committee would really have to suggest that there was criminal activity when they make a referral to the Department of Justice, if they do. I think they have to say they have a strong suspicion that the member had engaged in criminal activity to actually be able to compel a member to testify.
REID: Well, I mean, it feels like, Joyce -- I`m not a lawyer, but it seems like they`re building sort of a case for a pretty broad conspiracy.
We have all the memos and the bizarre PowerPoint where they`re saying, here`s the walk-through of how to twist our system to keep Donald Trump in power. You have this guy, this member of Congress, who apparently was the one saying, no, put this gentleman, Clark, in it justice, so he can basically provide the backstop from that.
And it feels like a broad conspiracy. And the people who are not complying, people like Michael Flynn, who`s now suing -- now he sued the committee, suing them, in hopes of blocking it from obtaining his phone records, trying to keep things away.
It doesn`t feel like these are innocent parties who were just chatting on the phone. It feels like a plot to an insurrection. So, now, when you add in potential wire fraud allegations, and a potential that Donald Trump himself obstructed Congress, you start getting all the way to the man at the top.
Do -- can you foresee a situation where the Justice Department can ignore all of this, as the committee plods along, maybe to be disbanded if Republicans get back the House?
VANCE: That`s the question I think we`re all debating.
And this is one of those cases where DOJ`s practice of conducting its investigations behind a curtain of silence is incredibly frustrating, because we simply don`t know the answer. There`s been some conjecture that Merrick Garland, out of concern for protecting the institution from claims of politicization, has decided to sidestep this investigation.
There are other people who believe it`s being conducted in silence, or, perhaps more likely, that the information that`s being uncovered in the course of the congressional investigation may have nudged DOJ into action, perhaps even the fact that getting a referral from a bipartisan congressional committee could give them the cover that they need to forge ahead.
So, Joy, I think it`s the former president who once said that only the guilty take the Fifth Amendment. And there`s that appearance here, when we have people who were clearly participants in these events declining to testify to the committee.
And David says something that I think is really on point. He says, who wouldn`t want to help Congress get to the bottom of what happened?
VANCE: January 6 was not an everyday pedestrian sort of tourist event.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime, maybe more like a once-in-the-lifetime-of-our country sort of effort to overturn the republic. And there has to be a way to hold these folks accountable, starting with compelling their testimony.
REID: Well, we hope it`s once in a lifetime, David.
Here`s the problem. It`s probably not once in a lifetime.
REID: It was the first attempt at a coup.
There are three generals who put -- one of the most chilling things I have read in a long time. They wrote this op-ed in "The Washington Post," in which they said: "We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time. The potential for a total breakdown of the chain of command among partisan lines from the top of the chain to squad level is significant should another insurrection occur."
They`re talking about people saying, I will not listen to commanding -- commands from the commander in chief, because, in my mind, Trump is my commander in chief or some governor is who I`m going to listen to.
This is the problem. It`s not a once in a lifetime. It was a rehearsal.
JOLLY: That`s right. That`s right. But...
REID: The military`s worried about it. How can the DOJ be quiet when the military`s worried about it?
JOLLY: Yes, there`s a reason Trump team is putting their people in place in state capitals around the country right now. That actually is where the action would start. And the words of those retired generals should concern all of us.
But to your point, Joy -- and this is this is incredibly important if we play this forward a little bit, and the need to hold the former president accountable -- because I can tell you what`s going on in the speaker`s office right now.
The duty of the January 6 commission is to gather all this information. And if they have clearly identified elements of criminal activity by members of Congress or the president, they have a duty to put that in a report.
And the House has a duty to share that with the Department of Justice. If that happens, if Nancy Pelosi`s House clearly identifies criminal activity and refers it to the Department of Justice, that is now how Joe Biden`s administration will forever be defined. Does he indict the former president?
JOLLY: Does his Department of Justice, I should say, indict the former president or not?
REID: Yes, absolutely.
JOLLY: That`s a moment in history.
REID: And if Merrick Garland doesn`t at that point, then shame on him. He will have failed his greatest test in history.
His greatest test wasn`t even when he got merked off of getting on the Supreme Court. It was this. It`s -- this is his moment. And if he lets it go, God help us all.
Joyce Vance, David Jolly, whew, thank you very much.
Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is still ahead.
But, first, some interesting questions from the jury on day two of deliberations in the Kim Potter trial. We will bring you the latest next.
REID: Jury deliberations will continue in two major trials that we have been following.
In the sex trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein`s longtime associate, jurors went home today without a verdict in the first full day of deliberations. Maxwell faces six charges. She`s pleaded not guilty to all of them.
And deliberations just wrapped for a second day in the trial of former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter, charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in April. She`s pleaded not guilty to both charges and claims to have mistakenly used her gun, instead of her Taser, when she shot Wright in the chest.
Jurors in the Potter trial submitted to questions a short time ago, asking, what if the jury can`t reach a consensus and what guidance and steps should be taken, and if Potter`s gun that could be handled outside of the evidence box. The judge reread jury instructions and ruled the gun could be handled.
Deliberations will resume again tomorrow.
Joining me now is Katie Phang, trial attorney and MSNBC legal analyst, and Paul Butler, former federal prosecutor and a Georgetown law professor.
I will start with you, Katie.
What signals does that send to you, hearing that the jury wants to handle the gun, but not the gun and the Taser, and that they asked about basically kind of, what if we`re a hung jury?
KATIE PHANG, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so the last question is the one, if you`re a prosecutor, you`re worried about, right?
PHANG: It`s the suggestion, like you said, that they can`t reach a unanimous verdict, because the law requires that the 12 jurors in a criminal case come to a unanimous verdict. It`s not majority vote when it comes to somebody`s liberty.
Now, the handling of the gun is always very interesting. Jurors have sat through eight days of trial testimony, and they have heard a lot about, I meant to go for my Taser, not my gun. And part of it is also the kind of interaction of the jury to actually see and feel and touch the physical evidence in this case, because, sometimes, you don`t have physical evidence.
But I do find it to be curious that it didn`t want to maybe weigh, literally weigh, the difference between the Taser and the gun, but we know that the Taser in this case was bright yellow. By sheer just visible differences, she should have been able to tell the difference for Officer Potter.
Now, there`s two charges, Joy-Ann Reid, these two charges are really going to be the thing I think that the gun handling is going to go to. The first- degree manslaughter is a really tough road to sow for the prosecution. It is the killing of Daunte Wright through the reckless use and handling of a firearm.
But it`s the secondary manslaughter, it`s the idea that culpable negligence was at play, it was this recklessness that came into play with the handling of that gun vs. the Taser, and maybe that`s exactly why the jury wants to be able to touch that gun and see, is that a credible explanation? Is that a credible defense? Was it really a mistake that I went for my gun, instead of my Taser?
REID: Yes. Yes.
And, Paul, I feel like -- I mean, I definitely think she`s going to walk. But I always think the police are going to walk.
So the jury makeup is nine white, two Asian American, one black, six men, six women. I was saying to just the team before we came on that I feel like Thanksgiving worked in favor of the prosecutors in the case of the -- Chauvin, in the Chauvin trial. I feel like Christmas is working in Potter`s favor, though, because you have -- she did the tears. She did the crying.
There are enough women and enough men on the jury who might be sympathetic to her, demographically might relate to her, see her as somebody who seems like their family. I feel like the tears plus Christmas are going to help her. That`s what I just think. What do you think?
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I agree, Joy.
I think the jury composition is key here. I agree with Katie that the manslaughter two should be a slam dunk for this jury. The question is whether a reasonable officer would have mistaken a gun for a Taser and then used it to kill a person who she stopped for a traffic infraction.
That`s not a hard question. So if some jurors are struggling, it may be based more on their sympathy for this officer. Maybe her tears on the stand were like the tears of Kyle Rittenhouse moved his jurors.
BUTLER: I hope that some of these jurors have the same sympathy for the victim, Daunte Wright.
REID: Yes, we will see.
Let`s go to Ghislaine Maxwell real quick. Katie. Are you surprised that the jury is still out that it`s not a quick -- I mean, everyone`s heard about this trial -- heard about this case for a long time, and they know who Jeffrey Epstein is.
Are you surprised that this isn`t a quick verdict?
PHANG: No, I`m not surprised. It`s only been one day.
There was a lot more testimony in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial than there was even in the Kim Potter trial. I do think it`s interesting, though, today is, one of the juror questions that came out was asking for the transcripts of the testimony of three of the victims in this case, which is an important thing.
But then they also asked for the FBI notes, which are called 302s, which are not in evidence. And part of that is because the defense really hammered on prior inconsistent statements that were made by the victims to the FBI and law enforcement vs. what they testified to in the trial.
But it`s the second note that came out today, Joy, that was interesting. They asked for a confirmation from the court, as a matter of law, that if they believed the testimony of Annie Farmer, one of the victims in this case, whether that was evidence of conspiracy to entice minors to travel across state lines, which is counts one and three, and the judge had to say, yes, you can consider that.
And so, as a prosecutor, you would think that that`s a win and maybe a good sign that they`re going to convict on counts one and three.
And really quick, Paul, I don`t know how you`re reading this trial as well, but do you think that the absence of Jeffrey Epstein makes it for a prosecutor more likely that the jurors are going to want to hold someone responsible, which means it`s good for the prosecution, or they might see her as a scapegoat and it`s good for the defense?
BUTLER: I think the evidence suggests that Ms. Maxwell is guilty as sin.
All four victims testified that they were under 18 when they met her. The prosecutor said in her closing statement that these girls ordinarily would have been creeped out by Jeffrey Epstein. But Ms. Maxwell was older, and she seemed high-class, and she made it look like everything was on the up- and-up.
The evidence presented at trial suggests Ms. Maxwell was just a high-class pimp for Epstein.
BUTLER: And, moreover, she abused some of these girls herself.
BUTLER: I think it`s hard to believe that the jury will find that all four of these survivors are lying.
BUTLER: If the jury believes these women, there should be a conviction on all counts.
REID: We shall see.
Our dream team here, Katie Phang, Paul Butler, thank you both very much. Happy holidays.
And tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is straight ahead, as a lawmaker brings new meaning to the term bad faith.
We will be right back.
REID: Nothing, and I mean nothing, captures the utter hypocrisy of Joe Manchin pretending he represents the average West Virginian than this video from author and activist Don Winslow, which has more than 600,000 views on Twitter and counting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I`m here because of West Virginia.
For me, it`s all about West Virginia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to television`s unchallenged authority on wealth, prestige and success. It`s another dazzling "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."
Meet the stars of show business and big business. Discover how life`s winners live, love and spend their fortunes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: I mean, Don Winslow`s right.
Maserati Manchin, a multimillionaire coal baron, would fit right in on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." He`s been on the side of special interests the entire time, and made it clear yesterday that he was always negotiating in bad faith and never planned to vote for Build Back Better.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MANCHIN: I knew where they were and I knew what they could and could not do. They just never realized it, because they figured surely to God we can move one person.
The bottom line, I knew that we could not change. It was never going to change. It never could change with that many people.
So, Hoppy, for the last month, I have been telling people. They kept saying, Joe, where are you? What are we going to do? How about this?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
REID: And he`s now pulled a full J.D. Vance, showing open contempt for the people he`s supposedly doing such a bang-up job representing.
He actually had the nerve to raise questions and concerns to his colleagues that parents would use their child tax credits on -- oh, yes -- on drugs.
Well, geez, Mr. Manchin in the yacht, just go ahead and call your constituents welfare queens, a la Ronald Reagan, and get on with it.
There`s actually data, by the way, that shows that nine in 10 Americans use their child tax credit on necessities, like food and shelter and education. On top of all that, Manchin has raised the concern that people would abuse paid leave time and use it to go hunting.
This is somebody who has claimed that D.C. doesn`t understand West Virginians, but here he is reducing them to a stereotype. But what`s really sad is how much Build Back Better would have helped West Virginia, a state that, despite Manchin`s leadership and all that power, is not exactly in the best shape.
West Virginia ranks 50th, 50th in infrastructure, 48th in economy, 47th in health care and 45th in education. As of 2019, West Virginia had the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the entire country. And, according to the Associated Press, one in five children in West Virginia live in poverty, and 93 percent of children qualify for the child tax credit payments.
The White House also points out that the bill would have provided access to child care for 94,000 children, expand rental assistance for 83,000 renters in that state who are rent-burdened, and expand health insurance to more than 30,000 people in West Virginia, not to mention the climate change provisions that would create jobs.
But the coal lobbyists didn`t want that. So, for his bad faith, fake negotiating and obstruction of a bill that would truly help his constituents, Joe Manchin, Maserati Manchin, is tonight`s "Absolute Worst."
And up next, we will dig more into how Maserati Manchin misrepresents his state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANCHIN: If I can`t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can`t vote for it.
And I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can`t. I have tried everything humanly possible. I can`t get there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: No, you haven`t.
With those few words, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin killed the most transformative legislation of the 21st century. He says, oh, he can`t explain a bill that lifts thousands of kids out of poverty, cleans up polluted communities and helps parents take care of their kids.
I`m not so sure how hard a sell that really is. But that is his excuse. And it begs the question, is it that he can`t or that he just doesn`t want to?
A member of the West Virginia Democrats Executive Committee, who has criticized Manchin for years, gave this possible explanation to "The New Yorker" -- quote -- "If it does not personally benefit Joe, his major contributors and/or his family, he is unmoved" -- unquote.
Joining me now, Grace Segers, staff writer at "The New Republic," and Molly Jong-Fast, contributing writer at "The Atlantic."
Thank you both for being here.
I want to start with you, Ms. Segers.
The United Mine Workers Association, which is generally a Manchin- supporting organization, they have come out and they have criticized his reversal on Build Back Better, saying this bill would have actually helped miners, coal miners.
Can you give us a little insight into that?
GRACE SEGERS, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": Yes, so the biggest issue for coal miners and for the mine workers of America the funding of an excise tax.
It`s going to get real wonky here for a minute. So there is an excise tax that funds the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which provides the benefits out to coal miners with black lung, which is a very severe respiratory disease.
Now, this tax that funds this fund is set to expire at the end of the year. And tucked into the Build Back Better Act was a four-year extension of this tax rate. So, without this extension, the tax rate is going to be cut in half. And the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which is already facing insolvency, is probably going to sink deeper into debt, which will then, in turn, affect the miners who depend on it.
REID: And so, Molly, here is a coal baron, whose family`s in the coal biz, whose daughter was in the expensive EpiPen biz, who`s rich and has a yacht and Maserati, basically saying, the poors are lazy. Don`t give them money. It`s going to make them lazier. Don`t give them help, because it`s going to make them do drugs, like the same old Ronald Reagan stuff.
And, meanwhile, the business, he`s in is coal, and he`s blocking getting black lung money for coal miners. Your thoughts?
MOLLY JONG-FAST, "THE ATLANTIC": It`s amazing that you can have a Democrat like this in this time, I mean, just incredible. And it`s hard to believe.
But I will say he`s a Democrat in a state that went almost 69 percent for Trump. So he has really good cover for not doing progressive things, because he can say, well, I`m a red state Democrat.
JONG-FAST: And, also, that state is filled -- it`s people who are a little bit older, they`re sicker, they`re poorer, and they`re very attached to coal.
So if Democrats can`t explain why -- that Build Back Better isn`t just taking away your coal, they get -- these voters don`t quite get it. And so, ultimately, I think it may be -- I mean, look, there`s clearly a lot of questions about Manchin and his portfolio. And who even knows what`s in there?
And -- but I would say part of it is, I think that the voters are not hearing what`s in it.
REID: Well, and so I guess that question back to you, then, Grace.
I mean, if -- I think that that is a valid point, that if people don`t really know what`s in it, and they just hear it`s going to be trillions of dollars, if you`re a conservative-leaning voter, you go, well, I don`t want to do that. I`d rather not spend trillions of dollars.
Has there been an in-state sales pitch to explain to people, wait, this is your black lung money, this is to make sure you can take care of your kids? Has that happened, to your knowledge?
SEGERS: Yes, so there`s been a lot of advocacy by the National Black Lung Association, by the Appalachian Citizens Law Center talking about the need for this tax to be extended, from the Mine Workers of America as well. There has been in-state advocacy for it.
But there`s no way around that it`s a ginormous bill. And this is on a very small paragraph very far down in the bill. And it`s kind of difficult to get across that, hey, this is in here, and it benefits sick veteran coal miners.
REID: Molly, this is the challenge I have.
I`m going to put the stats back up. Infrastructure, the state ranks last, economy 48th, health care 47th, education 45th. You know whose job it is to turn that stuff around and to explain to people, here`s how I`m going to do it, how I`m going to make your life better?
Well, that would be Joe Manchin, Joe Manchin, who claimed, oh, I`m for this. He came out and said, I will put my name on this. Oh, I just want it to be $1.6 trillion, instead of 1.7, and essentially bad faith lied, even making the White House think he was negotiating. He wasn`t.
It`s his job with his power to turn these statistics around. And he seems damn determined not to do that. Your thoughts?
JONG-FAST: Yes, I don`t think he cares too much about the people of West Virginia.
JONG-FAST: But I also don`t -- right.
And I don`t think -- and, again, the coal stuff, the portfolio, he makes money on, I mean, who even -- I don`t think that senators and congresspeople should own stocks, period. Like, they`re making the law. They shouldn`t also be able to profit off it. It`s insane.
But I also think he hasn`t been -- we -- Democrats have not been good enough at messaging to people, what`s in this bill can change your life. And so there hasn`t -- for him, he can go on FOX News. That helps him in his state.
JONG-FAST: And he can be the hero of the -- of this sort of very right- wing state.
REID: A hundred percent.
JONG-FAST: And -- right, and he`s taking away things from his people that they desperately need.
It`s so -- it`s so upsetting to me, as a person...
JONG-FAST: ... just to see all this poverty.
JONG-FAST: And the thing is that government can help these people.
REID: You know what an oligarchy is? It`s a state with one billionaire and everybody else is either poor or barely struggling.
That is West Virginia. The one billionaire is the governor. I bet you who the next governor is going to be. Watch it be Joe Manchin. And he will get to billionaire eventually, because he`s working them funds.
Grace Segers, Molly Jong-Fast, thank you very much.
That is tonight`s REIDOUT.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.