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Transcript: The ReidOut, 12/22/21

Guests: Seth Freed Wessler, Steven Anderson, Stuart Stevens, Brook Watts, Al Franken, Bob the Drag Queen, Mustafa Santiago Ali


January 6 committee seeks testimony from GOP Representative Jim Jordan. Representative Jordan admits he spoke with Trump on January 6 but says he can`t remember when. Retired general surge military to plan for another coup attempt. Michael Flynn`s brother was involved in military response to January 6 insurrection.


SETH FREED WESSLER, DIRECTOR, THE FACILITY: But the fact is that ICE detention, detaining immigrants who are seeking protection in the U.S. or fighting deportation remains a central part of the American immigration policy. It remains a central part of how we deal with immigration. And that`s a choice that the federal government makes. Nearly nobody who is detained has to be detained as a matter of law. It`s at the discretion of the federal government. And that was true during the pandemic in the early days. It`s true now for many tens of thousands of people who remain held in ICE detention around the country.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, MSNBC HOST: Seth Freed Wessler, I`m very grateful for your work and your reporting and for your time with us tonight. Thank you so much. You can watch Seth`s film. I implore you to watch it. It`s called The Facility. It`s part of MSNBC film`s holiday marathon. That`s beginning Sunday at 2:00 P.M. Eastern.

That does it for me. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid is up next. Hey, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing, Alicia? Thank you so much and thank you for covering that very, very important story. Have a great evening.

All right, good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with explosive news from the investigation into January 6th. In a bold and necessary move today, the House select committee requested testimony from a second House Republican, Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio. It`s a sign that even sitting members of Congress cannot evade scrutiny for their role in Trump`s attempted coup.

And for Jordan, that scrutiny is long overdue. In a letter today the committee expressed interest in Jordan`s phone calls with Donald Trump on January 6th, saying we would like to discuss each such communication with you in detail. Of course, Jordan has been almost comically evasive on the details of those calls. Here is a look back at some of his explanations.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you talk to the former president that day?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I`ve talked to the former president upteen times - - thousands -- I mean, not thousands but countless times.

I continue to talk to the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no. I mean, on January 6th, Congressman.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On, January 6th, did you speak with him before, during or after the Capitol was attacked?

JORDAN: I have to go. I spoke with him that day after, I think after. I don`t know if I spoke with him in the morning or not. I just don`t know.

I talked to him that day. I -- my understanding is, from my memory, I talked to him after the attack happened and we`re moved to the chamber. I may have talked to him before. I don`t know.


REID: It`s so hard to remember, like it`s such a memorable day.

In requesting his cooperation, the committee cites Jordan`s own words. On multiple occasions, he has indicated that he would indeed testify if called upon by the committee, saying, I`ve got nothing to hide. Well, it`s time for him to prove it.

As we`ve seen in recent reporting, many who openly mock the select committee with the same people who were actively plotting with the Trump White House to usurp Joe Biden`s presidency. They amplified the big lie. They interfered with the Justice Department and they pressured state legislatures.

And they can`t seem to get their stories together, either. For instance, January 6th organizer Ali Alexander has testified to the select committee that he indeed communicate with three House Republicans before the siege. According to a court filing, he said he had a few phone conversations with Congressman Paul Gosar, a text exchange with Congressman Mo Brooks and he said he spoke to Congressman Andy Biggs in person. And in confirming those communications, Alexander has now contradicted the denials of those Republican lawmakers.

That is why we need accountability and fast. After all, the United States has already been flagged as a declining democracy and many of our elected representatives sharing the blame. As three retired generals pointed out in a Washington Post op-ed on Friday, not a single leader who inspired the insurrection has been held to account. Our effected officials and those who enforce the law, including the Justice Department, the House select committee and the whole of Congress must show more urgency.

And joining me now is one of the authors of that op-ed, retired Army Brigadier General Steven Anderson, also Stuart Stevens, Senior Adviser for the Lincoln Project, and Glenn Kirschner, former Federal Prosecutor and an MSNBC Legal Analyst.

Brigadier General Anderson, thank you so much for being here. I was eager to speak with you. I read your op-ed that you wrote with two other retired generals in absolute terror, to be honest with you, scared the hell out of me. The idea that not only do we have to worry about the people who plotted the first coup launching another, which I firmly believe they will. I think most of the people on this panel, if not all firmly believe they will try, but that we can`t necessarily count on the military to hold the line. That scares me. Because it means that we have a breakdown internally in one of the most important and trusted institutions in the country.

So, walk me through what we need to be afraid. I know there were a lot of people with military credentials.


I think it was one in ten initially who were charged with crimes or accused of crimes on that day, had military backgrounds. A lot of military people were there. But what is your biggest fear when it comes to whether the military itself will hold the line when they try this again?

BRIG. GEN. STEVEN ANDERSON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Thank you very much, Joy, for having me, and it`s an honor to be part of this. First of all, I want to make it understood that 31 years in the Army, I`ve always been taught to be apolitical, to not be involved in politics. In fact, I always voted Republican up until 2016. But the party is absolutely lost its soul and forgot its ideology and Jim Jordan is an actual poster child for that happening.

He and the leaders like him in the Republican Party are why we`ve wrote the op-ed that we did. 43 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, the foreign and domestic, and little did I know that 43 years later we`d have the kind of domestic threats that we have right now and, again, Jim Jordan is why.

I mean, but you look at some of the other things out there that make us chill to our bones. I mean, as you mentioned, over 100 military people participated in the actual insurrection. That`s pretty scary. Then you got guys like Lieutenant General Mike Flynn, former NSA, who is advocating using the military to conduct a coup. I mean, are you kidding me? That`s disgraceful.

You have 124 senior leaders that signed a letter supporting Trump`s big lie. Evidently, the authoritative source for election integrity with those people is the pillow guy. You have a general officer out in Oklahoma who is refusing federal mandates. You know, please remind him that he works for the National Guard.

And then you got all these soldiers that are refusing the COVID vaccine. I mean, every soldier has to take 12 inoculations to even get through basic training. But we so politicized things like COVID by the likes of Jim Jordan, and then, of course, you got Fox News adding fuel to the fire and the Republican Party spent now 11 months since the 6th of January essentially regarding the insurrection as a tour that got out of hand.

I`m deathly afraid for our troops and deathly afraid for our democracy. Our troops will unfortunately, with people like Jim Jordan, they will confuse allegiance to the Constitution, which they swore an oath to uphold and defend, allegiance to the Constitution versus allegiance to a party, a person like a Jim Jordan or a Donald Trump. We love democracy and that`s why we`re concerned.

REID: Yes, and I share your concerns. But hearing it come from you all, honestly, made me even more afraid, to be honest with you. This is part of what the op-ed said. It said, we`re chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time. The potential for a total breakdown in the chain command among partisan lines from the top of the chain to squad level is significant should another insurrection occur.

And here is -- I`m just going to stay with you for just one more moment. There are people in the military now who quietly supported what happened on January 6th and wish that it had succeeded, and I don`t know who all of those people are. We do know that Michael Flynn, who used to be a very decorated member of the United States military, very respected and then went wrong somewhere, something went haywire, now he`s like more QAnon than he is military. His brother still has a position of authority inside of the United States military. Michael Flynn, the former general, requested a restraining order to stop the January 6th committee from getting his documents, the judge said no. There is no basis for that.

But Charles Flynn, Brigadier General Anderson, is still in place. The Army first falsely denied that Charles Flynn was involved in the response to the insurrection then Flynn denied that he ever opposed sending the National Guard to quell the violence. But now, Flynn has been accused of lying to Congress about his role in delaying the response that day. It scares me that people like he are still in place and that they might be on the wrong place. Does it scare you?

ANDERSON: Absolutely. I mean, one of the things that we recommended is that we gather intelligence against people within our ranks, people like Michael Flynn`s brother, Charles. I don`t know the man. I served with his brother though in Iraq and he was fine over there. But, obviously, he`s lost his mind since then. But we`ve got to know who within us is going to be a potential mutineer.

And the thing that we need to do is to find those people and get them out of the army. We need to remind them all that serving in the military is a privilege. It is not an inalienable right, okay? And so to be a part of an extremist group or any kind of a hate group or Oath Keepers or any of those Proud Boy organizations, stuff like that, you can`t be a member of the group and still be a member of the Army.


And we need to make sure that we conduct the intelligence to find the people and root them out.

REID: Stuart, let me go to you on this, because we did have a Proud Boy plead guilty today, and his name is Matthew Greene. Remember, the Proud Boys pleaded guilty today of obstructing Congress. Some of them are flipping, right? Some of them are telling about the conspiracy. But there are, you know, the group, the Oath Keepers, is made up of military and police. So, there are a lot of armed, heavily trained people who are falling into this cult, Stuart, on the right and I don`t really know what we do about that. Do you have ideas?

STUART STEVENS, SENIOR ADVISER, THE LINCOLN PROJECT: Well, look, I think the greatest danger here is that the Republican Party has shown that it will not stand up to this, that it will actually go along with it. I mean, that`s an extraordinary thing to me, not that there are a group of people who tried to crash the Capitol, attack the Capitol. You can say, okay, maybe that`s just a small-ish group.

But the Republican Party, one of the two major parties in the United States of America, the world`s only super power, has made it clear that if this was successful, there is no reason to believe that they would oppose it.

And I don`t know if you`re in your office, you`re running for your life and you still won`t hold those people accountable, you still won`t vote to convict Donald Trump, who they all say was behind it or most of them say, Mitch McConnell says, but he still won`t do it. So, I think this is like a classic testing of the system. And I don`t believe the system succeeded because I think the Republican Party continues to fail.

REID: And, you know, Glenn, the one place where you could bring it to a head and you could say, here is where this line this, the Justice Department has the ability to do that. You know, I feel like even now, they haven`t finished their work, but the select committee has identified what sure as hell looks like a conspiracy that starts from the former president, goes all the way through the Justice Department at the time, through the Pentagon and touches so many levels of government, that it shocks me that Merrick Garland, who was -- who prosecuted the people that blew up the Murrah Federal Building. He knows what domestic terrorism is. It shocks me he has been so inert, just inert, invisible. Does that shock you?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, it does. It saddens me. It troubles me. And, frankly, I think it fills us with anxiety because the attorney general heading up the nation`s premiere law enforcement agency, you know, we call it the people`s law firm. That`s not technically accurate but that`s how we view it. All he needs to do is step to the cameras and the microphone and say, we understand what happened on January 6th at the Capitol and what led up to it and what we`re suffering in the aftermath. And let me tell the American people we`re on it. We`re going to hold those responsible. We`re going to follow the evidence, but we are on it. That`s really what I just said did not divulge or disclose a single investigative detail. But we need that reassurance.

And if I could circle back to what General Anderson was talking about, because it`s not just the Department of Justice. We need to be fighting on all fronts, including the military front. Just recently, the Supreme Court settled the question of whether we can restore to active duty a retired army officer and court marshal him and the Supreme Court refused to accept review of the case called United States versus Begani. So, that proposition of law stands.

General Flynn is flaunting his title in these legal filings trying to duck and dodge the House select committee and he can`t call himself general often enough in those filings. What does that do? It`s sending message. This is a quasi official position. Uniform code of military justice has offenses available that the civilian laws don`t, like conduct unbecoming an officer. I started as an army prosecutor.

The military also needs to be fighting this on this front on behalf of the American people.

REID: Yes. And I will give the secretary of defense credit that he is there working anti-extremism inside of the military. And I know that`s something they want to do.

Stuart, I`m going to end this with you. Congressman Jim Jordan is a member of Congress. They were the body that was attacked on January 6th physically. Their lives were threatened. They were hiding and dodging and hiding under chairs and tables and trying to keep those brutal people out, these lynch mobs out. Jim Jordan, how can it be that he could defy a subpoena from the body in which he serves?

STEVENS: Look, I don`t think you should look at Jim Jordan as sort of an American Congressman. He is someone who wants to change the American government. He wants to overthrow the American government. And I think we need to start looking at these people. He`s not a regular United States congressman who is trying to uphold on oath.


He`s trying to overthrow of the government of the United States, call it for what it is, and I think they should be held accountable.

I don`t know. This isn`t a conspiracy. A conspiracy is not -- conviction is not predicated upon successful completion. I mean, when you plan to rob a bank, you don`t have to get away with the money. I just -- it`s baffling to me. We have to treat them as enemies.

REID: Unfortunately, yes. And I want to thank all three of you, retired Army Brigadier General Steven Anderson, thank you so much for your service, which continues with you standing up for democracy, as you are so publicly doing. So, thank you for doing that. Stuart Stevens, who grew, in many ways, the modern Republican Party and understands when it was time to talk away and push it back, and Glenn Kirschner, who is always brilliant, always here for us to talk about what the DOJ should be doing at day time (ph). Merry Christmas to all of you, God bless.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, a COVID breakthrough, a promising new treatment is approved. You can take it at home. And it`s exclusively for humans, not horses, which we love.

Plus, Mitch McConnell invites Joe Manchin to the Republican Party while Democratic leaders claim there is still hope for Build Back Better.

Plus, have you seen the amazing HBO series, We`re Here? It is something to cheer you up. Bob the Drag Queen joins me to talk about that groundbreaking show, cannot wait, cannot wait, cannotwait.

And tonight`s absolute worst are not the bad guys but the so-called good guys who are looking the other way.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is possible there could be other variants that come along. It`s possible.

But what do you plan for? You plan for what you think is available that is the most likely threat that exists at the time. And you respond to it. And I think that that`s exactly what we have done. And that`s -- for example, Omicron is spreading rapidly, but the death rates are much, much lower than they were.

This is not March of 2020.


REID: President Biden moments ago pushed back on criticism that he didn`t see Omicron coming one day after the administration pledged 500 million free COVID tests to counter the new variant.

And while that variant has spoiled yet another Christmas, we did get some promising news today on the pandemic front. Today, the FDA authorized the first COVID-19 antiviral pill in the United States. The oral drug is from Pfizer and will be prescribed for adults and children ages 12 and up with mild to moderate COVID who are at risk for severe disease or hospitalization.

The new drug comes as Omicron spreads across the U.S. An NBC News tally has confirmed that all 50 states and Washington, D.C., have reported at least one case of the Omicron variant. The first reported case was in San Francisco on December 1, meaning it took only 21 days for Omicron to spread nationwide.

Hospitals are inundated with unvaccinated COVID patients. Health workers are again exhausted and depleted after two years on the COVID front line. In a desperate plea, asking Americans to please get vaccinated,six Cleveland area health care facilities paid for this one-page ad in "The Cleveland Plain Dealer" which features one word on a blank page: "Help."

The message below says: "We now have more COVID patients in our hospitals than ever before. The overwhelming majority are unvaccinated."

Dr. Vin Gupta, MSNBC legal contributor and a critical care pulmonologist, joins us, along with Dr. Brook Watts, chief medical officer for community health at Metro Health System in Cleveland.

Thank you both for being here.

And I`m going to start with you, Dr. Watts. That ad said "Help" and described the situation you`re facing. Describe for us what`s going on in your hospitals.

DR. BROOK WATTS, METRO HEALTH SYSTEM: I think "Help" says it all.

We have never seen in the course of this pandemic this many patients. I had the privilege today, as I usually do this week of Christmas, to be in the hospital caring for patients. The bulk of the patients I saw today have COVID. The bulk of the patients I saw today had COVID and were unvaccinated.

And that, for all of us, is heartbreaking.

REID: It`s -- Dr. Gupta, I`m sort of reaching my kind of peak fatigue, mental fatigue level, and I`m not even dealing with what the doctor and what you guys are dealing with in real life.

But it`s like, I know, just off the top of my head, at least a half-dozen people who`ve gotten COVID, who are vaccinated, but who got it in settings where they were around mixed groups where people were not necessarily unvaccinated -- or not necessarily vaccinated.

So the unvaccinated are spreading this thing. And it`s mutating, let`s be frank, because of the unvaccinated, OK? So I`m running out of ideas about what to do if people are refusing to protect themselves and other people.

There is stats out today that we`re talking about -- let me find this here -- 140 new COVID infections -- 140 million new COVID infections to the U.S. in the next two months, according to the latest model, 140 million new cases.

I mean, I will just let you comment, because I don`t know what we do at this point, honestly, Dr. Gupta. I don`t know what else to do.

DR. VIN GUPTA, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Joy. It`s great to be here with you and Dr. Watts.

What I will say here is, I think we have to move away from this paradigm of even thinking about caseloads day over day, because it`s overwhelming, it`s psychologically depressing, it`s discouraging, and really thinking about, for the vaccinated, the triple-vaccinated, are there serious breakthrough illnesses that are landing in Dr. Watts`s hospital or my ICU, and really following that metric, number one.

So I think we have to frame-shift here, because these vaccines, like the flu shot, will mitigate the risk of severe illness. They do that really well. They won`t prevent a positive test. So, psychologically shifting that frame, critical.

To your point, what can we do moving forward? I`m really encouraged that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals remove the stay on the Department of Labor`s order to private employers to say, either do a weekly test or mandate the vaccine. That is going to have traction here, number one. So, we`re going to see more movement in the private sector.


And then I do think negative incentives, whether it`s a vaccine mandate in the workplace, or -- and this is where it gets controversial, but we need to start talking about this, the bioethics of it broadly, because this is not the last respiratory pandemic we`re going to face, Joy.

What do we do with somebody who`s unvaccinated who`s taking advanced ICU therapies from somebody who is vaccinated in the hospital? How do we rank- order that priority?

REID: Right.

GUPTA: We do it for organs, kidneys, livers, lungs. We say, did you smoke? Did you drink recently? If you did, you`re lower on the list, even if you need it.

We need to start thinking of that model, have bioethics around it or framework, because this is not going to be the last respiratory pandemic we face.

REID: Yes.

WATTS: Joy, we also -- we can`t give up.


REID: Not only that, but there are other countries -- go on. Go on.

WATTS: No, we just don`t give up.

We are still seeing folks changing their mind. I tell you, in the hospital, once people get COVID, it`s like a lot of things in life. They don`t believe it until they have actual evidence of it with their own eyes. We have people, they -- every time, they say, you know what, I just didn`t get around to it. I see it now. I`m talking to my family.

This is something I hear every day. It is sad to see it come too late, but we know that with -- truthfully, with experience and seeing with their own eyes, people do come to believe.

So, I have not giving up hope. I do believe that we will continue to see people move forward with vaccination, despite all the other efforts that we have put forward.

REID: Let me play another person who technically is a doctor and used to be a very respected one. Here`s Dr. Ben Carson saying, don`t test people. Here he is.


BEN CARSON, FORMER U.S. HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY: I personally think that we should seriously give thought to not testing people who are asymptomatic.

I mean, like I said, we`re going to end up with a real problem. We`re going to have massive numbers of people who test positive. What are we going to do? We`re going to shut everything down? It just doesn`t make any sense, and particularly when you`re dealing with something that doesn`t make people very sick.


REID: This is literally the "stick your fingers in your ears" strategy, Dr. Gupta.

But the NFL is basically doing that. The NFL has listened to this bananas idea. Unvaccinated players will still get daily testing, but vaccinated players in the NFL won`t be tested. So, it`s the -- if we just don`t know, maybe it`ll just go away.

That is not smart, right?

GUPTA: You know, it`s interesting, because right now, we don`t have enough tests for people. I can`t tell you how many people have come to me personally, patients and others, saying, you know what, Doc, I don`t have enough. I can`t get a test to actually go test myself before going to visit a loved one.

So I do think, since testing is constrained, we should flood the zone of places like congregate settings, nursing facilities, schools, so we should rank-order who gets access to these tests. If you`re going to go visit grandma or grandpa, or if you`re on a Medicare Advantage or Medicaid plan, so you`re older, or if you`re socioeconomically disadvantaged for whatever reason, we should -- we should have some strategy about here as we`re ramping up access to testing.

So I do think we need to be strategic right now, since we don`t have enough tests.


REID: That`s a very good point. And those tests should be free.


REID: Yes, give us your final message, because we`re heading into a holiday. We`re heading into a holiday. What should vaccinated people be doing, Dr. Watts? What would you like us to be doing differently?

Is there something that we can be doing differently?

WATTS: First and foremost, we need our community leaders to step up. We know that there are high-risk settings that are still continuing to go on.

If you are a community leader, and you are holding events where you have unvaccinated folks getting together, you have kids, you have high risk, now is the time. You are the leader. You need to cancel your event. And you know who you are. And it`s hard to do.

This is why it`s leadership. It`s hard decisions to make. So I`m counting on our community leaders to stand up and do this. And the reason we need to do that is that the rest of us, the world that`s vaccinated, we need to be able to spend time with our families safely in small gatherings.

So, yes, I do think we can do small gathering safely. We know what to do. If you`re sick, you stay home. If you have tests available, and you`re going to have vulnerable folks there, you test. And, for sure, you get vaccinated and you get your booster if you`re eligible.

Now, then, we all do this now because we`re coming up. For some of us parents, it seems like it`s a long holiday break, but school is going to be down soon. And if we want to keep these kiddos in school, we need to make smart choices right now.

REID: That is well said. And I hope that people listen. I pray that people will listen.

Dr. Vin Gupta, Dr. Brook Watts, I hope you all get a chance to spend time with your families and not just be dealing with all these unvaxxed people that are filling up the E.R.s. Praying for both of you. Thank you both for being here.

Still ahead: Democrats, Republicans, and corporations woo Joe Manchin, as Majority Leader Schumer promises a vote on Build Back Better, despite Manchin`s opposition.


Former Senator Al Franken joins me next to discuss his old colleague.

We will be right back.


REID: Build Back Better isn`t necessarily dead, or at least that`s what Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wanted to project at last night`s special Democratic Caucus meeting.

Schumer told the caucus -- quote -- "I know we are all frustrated at this outcome. However, we are not giving up on Build Back Better, period. We won`t stop working on it until we pass a bill."

Senator Joe Manchin did attend the meeting, but didn`t speak much, simply reiterating his concerns the bill, you know, how it will mess up the druggie poors and make them lazy.

It`s still unclear what Manchin would say yes to at this point, other than a bill entitled write Joe Manchin, his kids and his coal company a giant check and also write one to the Koch brothers.


Sorry. I`m sorry. Did I say that in my outside voice? Oops.

But his opposition to Build Back Better has Republicans once again courting him to join their party, with Mitch McConnell saying he think Manchin will be much more comfortable as a Republican, which, to be honest, is probably true.

McConnell also said today that he discussed the possibility of mentioned keeping his chairmanship of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee if he officially switched teams.

But Manchin might be less interested in what politicians on either side of the aisle think right now, as he appears to be much more tuned in to what his big donors care about. CNBC reports that corporate donations to Manchin surged over the past few months, as Manchin pushed back on Biden`s agenda.

I`m joined now by former Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, host of "The Al Franken Podcast," and Mustafa Santiago Ali, West Virginia native, founder and CEO of Revitalization Strategies and vice president of the National Wildlife Federation.

Thank you both for being here.

I`m going to start with you, Al Franken, because you know this guy. You had to work with him. CNBC reports that Joe Manchin`s PAC, as he was fighting against President Biden`s agenda, was sucking in money from Verizon, Union Pacific, Wells Fargo, PACs tied to the coal industries, the mining industries.

The Koch brothers were lobbying him, Ken Langone, Nelson Peltz, all these billionaires cheering him on. He has a long history of fighting climate measures. He is a coal baron.

Why is anyone surprised that he is essentially killing Build Back Better?

FMR. SEN. AL FRANKEN (D-MN): Well, he was on the call last night. Joe Biden said when he was asked about how this is going to get done, he said: "Joe and I are going to make a deal."

So that`s what it`s going to have to be it`s going to get done. So, Joe and Joe are going to have to do this.

And he`s not against the climate peace in Build Back Better now. It has transition -- money for transitioning people in -- who work in coal to other kinds of jobs. They like that. I think the United Mine Workers have urged him to sign on to this.

Look, this has been a sloppy and long, long, long negotiation. And it`s been hard to pin Joe down many times. But there are very good things in this. Universal pre-K is huge. We`re not going to get all the stuff that we wanted.

But I -- we have to achieve something. By we, I mean Joe and Joe, and it`s up to them.

REID: But the question is -- I mean, yes, you`re absolutely right. The coal miners union has come out, the United Mine Workers of America.

They urged him to revisit his opposition to Build Back Better, touting tax incentives to encourage manufacturers to build facilities in coal fields, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

But, Mustafa, here`s the problem. Joe Manchin doesn`t have to do any of that. He can get by just fine with all the money being poured into his PACs. He has a coal mining business that his family has, and he`d love to keep making lots and lots of money. He`s got lots of money. He`s got a yacht and a Maserati.

So there`s really nothing to incentivize him. And the problem is, there are no Republicans. If there was one Republican who could negate Joe Manchin, that would be different, but because none of them will go along with this, we`re sort of stuck.

You tweeted out this piece about -- that talked about how black communities have essentially been sacrificed and polluted in order to make coal and all of these sort of fossil fuels profitable. So Joe Manchin hasn`t shown any concern about them. Your thoughts?

MUSTAFA SANTIAGO ALI, FOUNDER AND CEO, REVITALIZATION STRATEGIES: Well, no, the politicians in West Virginia have not. And Joe Manchin is a part of that.

In Institute, West Virginia, where the ethylene oxide plants are being placed in a number of other polluting facilities that are there, but there is a way to fix that. The Build Back Better Act actually has dollars in there to be able to clean up these types of communities that have been dumped on it and also make sure that we`re putting in place the mitigation that`s necessary to make sure that folks don`t get impacted.

And, Joy, here`s the other part that`s really interesting. We often look at these big associations and all these other individuals who are supporting Senator Manchin and the other 50-plus senators who haven`t moved forward on supporting BBA.

But when you ask folks about jobs in West Virginia, 113,000 small businesses have 49 percent of the workers who are there. They`re asking for help. They`re saying, what do I need help with? I need help with child care. I need help with making sure that the folks who are working for me are able to have paid leave, a number of these types of things.

So, people are trying to hold on to the workers that they have. So they are asking Senator Manchin and others to help us. You have a responsibility in this space.

REID: You know, Senator Franken, I guess I don`t understand it. I mean, Joe Manchin has outside influence and outside power, but his state is incredibly poor.


I have not seen evidence that he`s used his power to help those struggling coal miners, who are dying of black lung, who have a work lifespan that`s much shorter because of the jobs that they`re doing to make money and feed their kids.

I haven`t seen him go out and advocate that. I have seen him go out and insult those people and say, if you give them any help, they`re going to spend it on drugs and hunting. That`s insulting.

If I said that, he would be screaming, but he`s saying that. So I wonder where Schumer, Chuck Schumer, and others get the faith that he`s ever going to give in, because he doesn`t seem interested in those people. But he claims he`s the only person that really understands them.

FRANKEN: Well, he said that about the child tax credit.

But I think -- and he`s talked -- and you know that Joe Biden desperately wants that child tax credit. So if they come up with a deal, that will happen. And Joe was for that when -- in the first iteration. I think he wants to change it a little, but I will bet, if they come with a deal, they will have that.

They will also -- one thing that people of West Virginia really want is lower-priced insulin. And that is in this bill, finally. And that is...

REID: But that`s his daughter`s industry. His daughter was involved in making the EpiPens more expensive.

Like, why would he go along with something...

FRANKEN: Yes, and that was -- because a lot of people in West Virginia have diabetes, and they want this. And he wants that for them.

That`s why. That`s why. And it`s a good thing to do for every...

REID: OK, last word to you, Mustafa Ali.

You`re a West -- I mean, yes, you would think it would be a good thing, but he doesn`t seem to care about that.

FRANKEN: Good thing to do for everybody in the country.

REID: Last word to you, Mustafa Ali. You`re -- as somebody who has roots in West Virginia, do you trust Joe Manchin?

SANTIAGO ALI: I believe that Joe Manchin can do the right thing. The question is, will he do the right thing?

My father says that, don`t tell me you love me. Show me you love me. I know what folks in West Virginia are asking for. They are asking for jobs, health care, child care, housing, and taxes. All of those things, the Build Back Better Act actually makes happen.

And here`s the problem, Joy, is that we don`t have everyday conversations with everyday folks. They hear these things that are going on in Washington, and folks are not sitting down and saying, these are the pieces that are in there. Will they help your life to be better?

REID: Yes.

SANTIAGO ALI: And, folks -- every time I have conversations with hundreds of folks, they say yes. That`s what we need to do to make sure that Senator Manchin and the other senators do the right thing.

REID: Yes, indeed.

And we -- I`m going to have you back on. Al Franken, thank you for being here. I want to have you come back on and talk about reforming the Senate. We`re going to do that whole conversation.


REID: Mustafa Ali, got to have you back to talk more West Virginia stuff.

We`re going to have a whole conversation. We`re going to do an hour.


REID: Thank you both for being here. Have a happy holiday.

OK, coming up next, Bob the Drag Queen from HBO`s feels hit series "We`re Here" joins me to talk about that amazing, amazing show and the disturbing increase in hate crimes across America, as states enact new laws targeting LGBTQ and transgender citizens.

Don`t go anywhere. Bob the Drag Queen Bob is coming up next.



REID: It doesn`t take much to realize that this country is deeply divided.

And, frankly, it feels like we spend much more time fighting each other than loving each other. Hate crimes have hit the highest level in over a decade. At least 50 transgender and gender-nonconforming people have been murdered in the U.S. this year alone, and likely many more go unreported or misreported.

Many, if not most of the people who make up these marginalized communities were left to suffer in silence until recently.

Now let me introduce you to Eureka O`Hara, Shangela Laquifa Wadley, and Bob the Drag Queen, the truly magical hostesses of HBO`s Emmy-nominated unscripted series "We`re Here."

In the show, these ambassadors of love travel deep into rural and often extremely conservative parts of the country, bringing a message of love and compassion through the art of drag. From Spartanburg, South Carolina, to Selma, Alabama, the trio put on a show with various LGBTQ+ members and allies who have gone through their own drag makeovers.

It`s a brief moment of empowerment and allyship in places that often refuse to even acknowledge that they exist and, even worse, persecute them for being different.


BOB THE DRAG QUEEN, "WE`RE HERE": When we put you up on the stage this week, now, I want to make sure that all we`re doing is respecting you, respecting your story, respecting your experience.

What do you want to be able to say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to say that, yes, I`m trans, but that doesn`t make me less of a person. So, I`m going to contribute for the ones that`s coming after me, because I don`t want them to have a life like I had to have.


REID: I am joined now by Bob the Drag Queen, AKA, Caldwell Tidicue, star and consulting producer of HBO`s Emmy-nominated series "We`re Here."

I`m getting nervous because I`m fanning out.

OK, Bob the Drag Queen, thank you so much for being here.

I have to tell you that -- so, when my producers -- I didn`t know about the show. I love "RuPaul`s Drag Race," but didn`t even know this show existed until one of my producers, Val, was like, we got to do this, we got to do this, we got to do this.

And I made the mistake of watching season one episode one with my makeup on and cried it all off. And, literally, like, I was all full of tears.


REID: This is one of the best shows I have ever seen. You will laugh. You will cry you. Will dance. Makeup, it will be off, OK?


REID: Talk to me about where this incredible idea came from.

BOB THE DRAG QUEEN: Well, I want to first of all give a big-shout out to Akeelah Blu, who was my drag kid...

REID: Yes.

BOB THE DRAG QUEEN: ... in Selma, Alabama.

And she`s absolutely lovely. I`m so grateful that we have run into each other. And "We`re Here" just enabled me to meet so many amazing, remarkable, truly astounding people on this journey of acceptance and love and queer, and like uplifting and amplifying queer voices in these really, really small towns.


So, big shout-out to Akeelah.

And you`re right. If you`re watching "We`re Here," I suggest wiping off the makeup beforehand. Or, if you don`t like to ugly cry, don`t do it in front of -- don`t watch it with anyone.

REID: Please.


REID: Can we talk about Akeelah? Let`s talk about Akeelah, because Akeelah is one of the ones who, really, again, should not have had my makeup on.

What a wonderful person and very alone. And I have been to Selma. And I totally -- as you guys walked into the town, it is sort of -- it`s sad, because it has not really benefited from the notoriety, the negative notoriety. It has not brought prosperity to Selma.

So, you add on top of the economic conditions somebody like Akeelah, who feels very -- clearly very alone and is sort of hiding.


BOB THE DRAG QUEEN: Maybe, Ms. Reid...

REID: Yes, go on.

BOB THE DRAG QUEEN: ... I want to offer a different idea, because I don`t think that she necessarily feels alone.

REID: Yes.

BOB THE DRAG QUEEN: But there`s an amazing group there called The Knights and Orchids. It`s run by a remarkable trans man and trans people and queer people. Black queer people run this organization right in Selma on the main drag.

You get to drive right over the Edmund Pettus Bridge. And one of the first things you see when you drive into Selma is a queer flag, an inclusive rainbow flag, which is so remarkable.

And we got a chance to show something on TV that is rarely ever shown, which is a black trans woman being loved amorously, amorously loved, and especially by a black man...

REID: Yes. Yes.

BOB THE DRAG QUEEN: ... who -- and a lot of the people who hurt black trans women are usually their lovers, because they`re afraid to love them in the light.

REID: Yes.

BOB THE DRAG QUEEN: So we got a chance to see her being loved by her boyfriend, Derrick (ph), on the show, which was, honestly -- it shouldn`t be so revolutionary, but it is.

REID: Yes.

Were you able to go back to a lot of the people? Because I know that the pandemic made it difficult to film. There was a lot of time in between. Were you -- have you been able to go back to see how folks are doing who`ve been a part of this show? Because you guys make these incredible transformations. They have these incredible moments.

Have you been able to go back to see if that love was lasting for these folks in these little small towns?

BOB THE DRAG QUEEN: Well, I haven`t traveled back to any of the towns, because we have been -- we actually finished filming maybe, oh, my goodness, like a few -- like maybe two weeks before the first episode aired.

So, we finished the last episode like two weeks before the first episode aired. So, yes, it hasn`t quite -- we haven`t actually had a chance. But I do talk to them on the phone. I talk to Lanakila from Hawaii on the phone.

REID: Yes.

BOB THE DRAG QUEEN: I talked to my lovely drag kid Akeelah Blu on the phone.

I text message back and forth to some of them, even some of the people from season one still.

REID: That`s fabulous.

Well, you guys have done so much great work and made people feel so good. If you want to watch a show over the holiday weekend, everyone, that`s going to uplift you, make you feel good about life. This is the show.

Bob the Drag Queen, thank you so much for being here. It`s really cool meeting you. I feel like I`m cooler now that I have met you, so thank you. I`m a fan, so thank you very much. Appreciate you.

And don`t go anywhere, everybody. Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is next. If you care even a little bit about American democracy, you will not want to miss it.

We will be right back.



REID: As Senate Democrats regroup on President Biden`s Build Back Better agenda, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is bringing focus to another crucial Democratic priority, passing voting rights legislation.

During a caucus meeting last night, Schumer reiterated his plan to try to amend the filibuster next month to allow a vote that would expand access to the ballot box and safeguard against election subversion.

According to a Democratic source, Schumer said -- quote -- "How can we in good conscience allow for a situation in which the Republican Party can debate and pass voter suppression laws at the state level with only a simple majority vote, but not allow the United States Senate to do the same?"

That is in fact exactly what has been happening. Nineteen states passed 34 laws this year restricting access to voting, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. And out of all the restrictive voting laws passed in the last decade, more than one-third were enacted in just the past year alone.

What may be scariest of all is a growing trend the Brennan Center is seen of legislators introducing bills allowing partisan actors to interfere with election processes and giving them the power to reject election results entirely.

That is at the heart of it what orange Julius Caesar tried to orchestrate in multiple states last year. Now those attempts could actually work if he tries again. We are already seeing what that looks like in battleground states like Georgia. In Lincoln County, there are attempts to close all but one polling location for next year`s elections.

For the rural county that is nearly one-third black, it could force voters to travel more than 20 miles to vote. And yet Republicans in the county say this will somehow make voting easier and more accessible. Well, tell that to the voter who doesn`t have a car or can`t take off enough time from work to wait in what will surely be massive, long lines.

This comes only after the Republican-controlled state legislature passed new restrictive voting laws earlier this year, allowing it to disband Lincoln County`s Board of Elections and appoint a new board of its choosing, who -- surprise, surprise -- have agreed to move forward with the plan.

The truth is, Congress is running out of time to do everything in their power to protect our democracy, while it still exists. The only person I have seen putting it all on the line is 72-year-old Joe Madison, who`s now in the 45th day of his hunger strike for Congress to pass voting rights front -- and to put voting rights front and center.

Meanwhile, our country`s leaders who continue to show their inability to do anything to stop this takeover are tonight`s "Absolute Worst."

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.