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Transcript: The ReidOut, 2/16/2021

Guest: Derrick Johnson, Angela Rye, Tim Wise, Rina Shah, Joaquin Castro, Al Franken


NAACP and Democratic congressman file lawsuit against Trump. Oath Keepers reportedly served as Roger Stone`s bodyguards. Democratic Representative Thompson slams Klan-like activities of right-wing groups that support Trump. "Associated Press" reports, at least 40 accused rioters linked to extremist groups. Lawsuit says Trump and Giuliani conspired with right-wing groups to incite Capitol insurrection. Charges were dropped against woman in New York City bird-watcher incident. Former Senator David Perdue considering a rerun in Georgia means he is the first sign of the GOP`s plan to take back power, a plan orchestrated by none other than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That does it for me. You can find me again tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. You can always find me online @arimelber on social media @arimelber on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. You have thoughts about tonight`s show, or what we should be doing, let us know.

Next up, it`s "THE REIDOUT" with Joy Reid.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everybody. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight in the middle of black history month with a reminder about history. There was a time in this country when the judicial system consisted solely of white Christian men. And when it came to putting one of their own on trial, it was a rare such jury that would ever hold a fellow white Christian man to account, not for an assault, not for a lynching.

The judicial system itself was an insurrection against a multicultural America. That`s just what it was, especially in the Jim Crow south. Fast forward to today. Three days after the 43 Republicans of that party`s far right-wing served on the jury in the trial of the former president, Donald Trump`s sedition against a multi cultural United States and our free and fair elections. And just like the Jim Crow juries of old, they let him walk.

And so the job of holding the insurrectionist president responsible for the violent siege of our Capitol has fallen to the courts. In a case brought by a black Democrat from the Deep South and one of America`s oldest civil rights groups which cut its teeth during the heart of America`s age of lynching.

A federal lawsuit filed by the NAACP on behalf of Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson accuses the impeached former president, his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and the extremist group, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, of conspiring to incite the January 6th insurrection.

The suit calls the attack on the Capitol, quote, the intended and the foreseeable culmination of a carefully coordinated campaign to interfere with the legal process required to confirm the tally of votes cast in the Electoral College.

The suit is filed on behalf of Congressman Thompson in his personal capacity, and alleges violation of the Civil Rights Act Of 1871, known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, in preventing members of Congress from carrying out their constitutional duties. It`s been the basis of numerous civil rights lawsuits brought against hate groups, including action against the white supremacists tied to violence in Charlottesville in 2017.

In a statement, Jason Miller, and adviser to the disgraced former president who also happens to be the former president, big fan of the seditious confederacy and its generals, Miller denied that Trump plan the rally or incited any violence on the Capitol on January 6th.

This comes as The New York Times reveals new connections between one of the defendants in the lawsuits and Trump`s longtime confidant, Roger Stone. According to The Times` video analysis, six people associated with the far- right extremist group, the Oath Keepers served as Stone`s bodyguards in D.C. just before laying siege to the Capitol.

And you might remember Stone, the old time Nixon dirty trickster, also met with Trump himself in the weeks before the insurrection, but he denies having any involvement either.

There`s hope that a 9/11-style commission will shed new light on Trump`s role in the siege as well as motivation of the attackers, and legislation to create that commission will be introduced as early as this week.

Meanwhile, today`s suit is just the latest legal problem for America`s toxic ex who emerged from his Palm Beach hidey hole with a lengthy statement attacking Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as a dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack. All Mitch`s most recent transgression was, of course, his speech on Saturday saying the former president was responsible for provoking the riot, only after voting to acquit him.

Congressman Thompson said this lawsuit is a second chance to do what old Mitch and his minions in the Senate failed to do.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): I`m from the south. The Ku Klux Klan law was basically put on the books to protect southerners and other people from the Klan who didn`t want this great country of ours to survive. But thank goodness it did, and now here we come full circle with these Klan-like activities that Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys and others at the direction of our president at that time, Donald Trump.


REID: I`m joined now by Derrick Johnson, the NAACP President and CEO, and Angela Rye, former Executive Director and Councilor for the Congressional Black Caucus and Host of the On One with Angela Rye Podcast, and Tim Wise, Anti-Racism Educator and the author of Dispatches from the Race War. Thank you all for being here.

And, Mr. Johnson, I`ll start with you. We know that as part of what happened in those riots, you had the confederate flag flying in the Capitol for the first time, it didn`t even happen during the civil war. The Associated Press talks about dozens of the people who were charged spewing extremist rhetoric. The FBI has linked at least 40 defendants to extremist groups or movements, including at least 16 members of neo-fascist Proud Boys, at least five connected to oath keepers, et cetera.

Is the crux of the lawsuit and linking it with the Ku Klux Klan Act, is it about racism of the people that were involved or about the organizational sort of effort that somehow is connected to the way the Klan used to behave in the view of the NAACP and Congressman Thompson?

DERRICK JOHNSON, NAACP PRESIDENT AND CEO: It`s all of the above. Domestic terrorism in this country has always been rooted in white supremacy. Let`s be clear about that. The actions of the `30s, `40s up to present has been the basis of people who see certain citizens as legitimate and other citizens as not legitimate.

The Klan Act was put in place to ensure southern legislators will have the ability to exercise their sworn duty as Congress persons without intimidations and fear of retaliation. What we have seen as a result of January 6th is the need for the act to be enforced and purely because the Republicans in the Senate refused to carry out their responsibility in the face of all of the facts that Donald Trump, Giuliani, all of the groups connected to them planned this out well before January 6th and carried out in a way in which they were seeking to delegitimize African-American folks across the country.

REID: And we know that the Klan -- that the NAACP has actually been involved and been party to suits against the Ku Klux Klan itself in the past. In one case, there was a big settlement that wound up basically making the NAACP the owners of the Klan`s former property. That happened in 1987.

What is the outcome that this lawsuit is seeking to have? Is it seizure of assets? Is it -- what is it that Congressman Thompson is trying to -- what is his endgame, what does he want out of the suit?

JOHNSON: So, first of all, he is the first of what we hope to be many members of Congress to join this lawsuit because no one has been held accountable. It has been our experience as African-Americans that if you allow this type of domestic terrorism to go unchecked, it will only expand its spread. So we must hold people accountable.

Secondly, if there are any assets to be seized, we must triple their ability to carry out any of these things in the future.

And then thirdly, when it comes to Donald Trump, if we don`t cut off the serpent`s head, we are -- we will be guaranteed that the snake will bite. And at some point, he must be held accountable for all of the harm he has caused, not only to the African-American community but to our democracy.

How can we go and fight abroad the Taliban if we`re unwilling to address the domestic terrorists that live in our backyards?

REID: Angela Rye, I imagine that the discovery on this lawsuit might actually be its own form of a truth commission.

ANGELA RYE, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND COUNSEL, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: Yes. You know, in the face of what we all hope will be similar to the 9/11 commission and what they will find on Capitol Hill, there is still nothing like the discovery process associated with a lawsuit.

And I think that what`s really, really important here is the fact that folks really want to move forward and they keep talking about the importance in moving forward right now, but they`re trying to do that without really uncovering all of the facts.

And so what we really need to do is support members of Congress, the staff, the folks who kept Capitol Hill safe and the folks that keep it clean, and ensuring that they really have the opportunity to see everything that`s happened here.

Derrick, I certainly commend you and the NAACP for leading this effort. Congressman Thompson couldn`t be a more perfect plaintiff for all that he has done in the southern state of Mississippi to advance black political power and also as the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. He knows domestic terror when he sees it.

And he had to sit right through it after all of the things that he`s learned by having the security clearance, by being exposed to all of the terrorist attacks that have both happened on United States soil and have been thwarted, for him to have to witness this and experience this. And it is the 50th anniversary of the Congressional Black Caucus. It`s kind of just a bridge too far.

In the face of Congresswoman -- I`m sorry, in the face of Senator Kamala Harris becoming Vice President, Kamala Harris this year and still right before us is a terrorist attack that could have cost them their lives and cost the lives of five people.

This is just the beginning. I`m eager to find out what happens. When you look at what`s required in the code, it is conspire to prevent by force, intimidation or threat any person from accepting or holding any office trust (ph) or place of confidence, under the United States, it goes on from there.

Donald Trump didn`t do that behind closed doors. He did it on Twitter. He did it at the press conference. He did it at the rally. And all of his supporters did the same thing. This absolutely happened in broad daylight and there should be no question that in the face of a second impeachment trial where there was no justice found that the court of law can find justice for these members of Congress and everybody on the Hill.

REID: Well, indeed. And, you know, Tim Wise, the irony, the sort of great irony in a lot of ways of Donald Trump is that he sort of taken the old confederacy national, right? He`s a huge fan of these confederate generals, he`s gone to the mat to try to keep their names on buildings and keep their statues going. He did the Charlottesville tango with those neo-Nazis taking their sides and there were very fine people there.

There is something sort of poetic about him now going up against the congressman from Mississippi, the state that had the most lynching`s of any state, you know, that when his folks were in there flying the confederate flag in the capitol. I`m fascinated to get your take on all of this.

TIM WISE, ANTI-RACISM EDUCATOR: Well, Trump is a confederate from Queens by way of Birmingham, right, I mean, both historically and dispositionally. And here is a guy -- look, let`s be very clear, this particular law that this lawsuit is seeking some type of justice under, although it doesn`t require proof of racist intent in order to find someone liable under that law, certainly was the intention of those who framed that law to focus in on racialized terror. And this particular insurrection was racialized terror.

How do we know that? We know that because the rhetoric that fomented it, coming from Donald Trump immediately after the election focused on what, the voting in Philadelphia, the voting in Milwaukee, the voting in Detroit and the voting in Atlanta.

Now, those are code words, and we all know what they mean. Because, actually, what`s interesting is the votes in those areas didn`t really change much from 2016. What changed were the mostly white suburban areas outside the cities. But it doesn`t play the same, you know, political capital if Donald Trump get`s up and says what are we going to do about these white folks on the main line outside of Philly who were cheating, right? It doesn`t have the same kind of oomph.

And so he talks about black areas because he wants to gin up racial resentment, racial hostility as a way to then invalidate the votes of those four states, but the intent is clearly to disenfranchise black voters. So not only is he seeking to violate that civil rights law, I think there`s a case to be made that he was seeking to violate the 13th Amendment, that he was seeking to violate the 14th Amendment, that that was his actual intent.

He is committing multiple impeachable offenses, one after another, some of which weren`t even adjudicated in the impeachment trial, but certainly should be adjudicated in a court of law. And so, that`s how this has to proceed.

Let us be very clear. This was racialized terror, the rhetoric that brought it about was racialized,, the rhetoric of the Proud Boys is racialized, the rhetoric of the Oath Keepers is racialized, rhetoric on all of those 4chan, 8chan, Reddit threads online for months had been intensely racialized, and the confederate flag could not be clearer in terms of what that stands for.

So let`s -- you know, to be clear, there`s a legal argument and then there`s also a sociological argument to an extent.

REID: Yes, indeed. I mean, they brought a noose. I mean, they couldn`t have made it more clear.

And really quickly, Angela, I remember talking to you during that day. I mean, there was terrorism against individuals as well, including black police officers who were telling reporters they were called the N word, just showered with the N word. There were the maintenance crews who then had to clean up the defecation that these people left everywhere, urine that they left everywhere. There was all of that. Do you -- would you expect that individual members of the Capitol police force, the people who worked in maintenance, black staffers, that people who were subjected to that terrorism, is this the kind of lawsuit that you would expect that people might want to join in?

RYE: Well, I actually think this is a better question for Derrick. But, certainly, anything that can further demonstrate the ways in which people were impacted and how much of a terrorist threat and attack and actions were taken, absolutely. But this specific lawsuit using this particular statute has to do with the interference of members of Congress being able to fulfill certain duties.

And so I think they have to rely on that, but certainly in the discovery process, through interrogatories and other ways to get people to elicit the environment to create the environment of what was going on in Capitol Hill, sure.

But I think what Congressman Thompson says and the statements released, Derrick, by your team today, it`s clear that he was certainly prevented and there was a real threat, not just of his life but in his ability to perform duties to certify the Electoral College results.

REID: And, Derrick, would you expect, first of all, to depose Capitol police officers, to depose, you know members of the maintenance crew, but also what about Mike Pence? He was the one they were -- you know the lynch mob was saying hang Mike Pence or Speaker Pelosi. Do you expect to be able to depose Mike Pence in this case?

JOHNSON: We expect the legal team to be as aggressive as possible to ensure we uncover all of the evidence. We used this particular section of the statute because members of Congress have a special protection under the statute.

We are also exploring opportunities to file additional lawsuits for staffers who were there, both Angela, and we worked on the Hill. We know what it feels like with members of Congress with security detail there whisk away, with to a staffers, you left there by yourself. We`re going to look at ways. We can support the custodial workers and other workers of the Capitol. Really, really good people, these are people I grew up around. They also should be protected. Some of them were harmed.

Unfortunately, we have to grapple in this nation and recognize in order for us to have true democracy, we must extinguish white supremacy. White supremacy cannot exist with true democracy. And we are at a juncture in our history here that we must decide as a nation are we going to move forward and be a true democracy or are we going to allow this to get past us and we go back to a past that`s dark and not inclusive of all people.

REID: Yes, I`m going to get in trouble because I am right on T.V., so we have to wrap. But very quickly, Tim Wise, you do anti-racism education. I don`t even know where we start from here. The lawsuit is good for truth and reconciliation, but then what?

WISE: Well, we can`t -- at one thing is clear, we can`t have unity without accountability. The reason we`re still having this debate, a 150-plus years after the civil war, is because after that war, we did allow that whole notion of, oh, let`s have unity, let`s end reconstruction. It was a cousin`s war. We need to bind up the wound of the nation. No, we needed accountability then, we didn`t get it, and we`re still struggling with this.

So if folks don`t want to be dealing with racism 50 years from now and the effects of white supremacy 50 years from now, deal with it today and every day, and then maybe our kids and grandkids won`t have to. But if we keep kicking the can down the road, which is what we did a century and a half ago, we will be back here generation in and generation out and we will fail at building multicultural democracy.

REID: That`s the good advice. Derrick Johnson, Angela Rye, Tim Wise, thank you all very much.

And as we observe black history month, we are looking back just one year for this one. You will recall the Central Park woman caught on video, calling the police, claiming she was threatened by a black bird watcher.

Despite lying to police which led to false reporting, Amy Cooper is now completely off the hook. Prosecutors say, they are no longer pursuing the charge after she completed five, that is five, racial bias education sessions, to which Phillip Atiba Goff tweeted, five classes will not get the job done and that the response to potentially deadly racism that attempted to weaponize law enforcement was an opportunity for personal growth from this white woman. He said I`m tired. That`s how he ended his tweet. Happy Black History Month.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, with Trump cause is alive and well on the state level, were having even a shred of integrity will earn you a censure.


DAVE BALL, GOP CHAIR, WASHINGTON COUNTY: We did not send him there to vote his conscience. We did not send him there to do the right thing or whatever.


REID: Pardon? And David Perdue wants back into the Senate. He misses all of that good inside information that made him a fortune. That`s really bad. But someone else is the absolute worst. The big reveal is coming up.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: Since last week`s impeachment trial, the seven Republican senators who abided by their oath to the Constitution, and not to the party`s dear leader, have all found themselves facing backlash back home.

There have been calls for censure. And some state parties have already castigated them for daring to have integrity. So much for the Republican Party`s anti-cancel culture stance. Am I right?

And what may be even more telling about the increasing extremism within the Republican Party on the state level is this justification coming from one GOP leader in Pennsylvania for the censure of Senator Pat Toomey.


DAVE BALL, CHAIR, WASHINGTON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, REPUBLICAN PARTY: We did not send him there to vote his conscience. We did not send him there to do the right thing or whatever he said he was doing.

We sent him there to represent us.


REID: So, Dave, if you didn`t send him there to do the right thing, then what exactly did you send him there to do?

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr is the latest Republican to be censured after an emergency vote by the state party last night. In response, Burr stated -- quote -- "It is truly a sad day for North Carolina Republicans. My party`s leadership has chosen loyalty to one man over the core principles of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation."

Joining me now is Rina Shah, founder of the Republican Women for Biden.

And, Rina, it`s great to have you on. I have been excited to try to have you on.

It is a weird world that we`re living in right now, that it is true, I think, what Burr has said, that loyalty to Trump is now the only litmus test for being a proper Republican.

Is it the state parties that are driving the Bananarama nature of the GOP? Or is it something that`s coming from Washington to the states?

RINA SHAH, FOUNDER, REPUBLICAN WOMAN FOR BIDEN: No, it`s absolutely the state parties, Joy.

And I couldn`t agree with Burr`s words even more, because the thing is, four years ago, I was canceled -- actually, five. Excuse me. Correct me. It was 2016 when I was a delegate to the Republican National Convention, and I became the first ever delegate to speak out against Trump.

And, in doing so, I suffered the wrath of my state party, the D.C. GOP, which I was serving on the executive committee of. So, what happened to me and being canceled was indicative of exactly the trend that we saw over the past four years. If you step out of line, and if some way you aren`t going to follow these people off a cliff, you don`t belong with them.

And that`s what I think is not surprising to me anymore, is that these people within the parties, they`re exactly who you think they are. They`re loyalists. They will do anything to get close to power and to money. The next person that walks in, they`re golden to them, if what they bring is power or money.

So, I don`t think people should be that afraid. This is obviously just par for the course. But let`s not be that afraid. These are people that will kowtow to anything. They are converts to Trumpism.

REID: Just...

SHAH: Yes?

REID: Well, that`s my question, because is it just to talk to him in particular? Because there is a sense that he`s sort of the golden calf, right, that the Republican base is sort of worshipping him like the golden calf.

And, therefore, all of these guys are scrambling to be at his side, and to sort of kowtow to him. Even the ones who are now -- who rebuked him and voted against him, they were kissing up to him the whole four years.

Is it that? Or would it be any leader, any -- was it the same with Bush?

SHAH: I believe this is different, because, with Trump, what they saw was winning and winning at all costs, and that really, frankly, the line was crossed.

And after that line was crossed, the language, stuff that typically would make evangelicals blush, the moment we crossed that line is when we saw that full conversion. And the winning at all costs, which I had seen over my congressional career when I was a young Republican on the Hill, it really came to life in 2016, when I saw that people were so scared of what Trump really foreshadowed.

And it was the guy who`s coming in and giving these perfunctory, supposed conservative messages, telling them that there`s something rotten, and that only they can fix it.

So, I really think it was about Trump. And what I saw in election 2020 was some seats going to the Republicans in the House of Representatives. So, there`s almost this emboldened confidence in these Republicans that we are so close to taking the House of Representatives, let`s go by this playbook, let`s do it. It`s served us well.

REID: Yes.

SHAH: And what they don`t realize is that it`s for the moment. This is not a long-sighted message in any way.

And this, to me -- one point here, Joy, that`s really big. This is the nail in the coffin on that whole big tent message that the Republicans have been spewing for years on end.

REID: Yes.

SHAH: They don`t want to do it. There`s no commitment to it.

For the longest time, it was talk without action. And now it`s, frankly, screw that message. They don`t -- they don`t care about it.

REID: Yes.

SHAH: This is obvious to me.

REID: But you talk about that it`s about winning. You have seen tens of thousands of Republicans quit the party. This is a "New York Times" headline. "In North Carolina, the shift was immediately noticeable. The state experienced a notable surge," 3,007 the first week, 2,850 the next week, 2,120 the following week.

You have seen that kind of playing out around the country. The Republicans under Trump lost the House, because, remember, Paul Ryan was speaker. Then he wasn`t. Nancy Pelosi was. They lost the United States Senate. And they have lost pretty much young America. They -- that`s gone.

Whatever African-Americans, black folks, they sort of stayed pat, I guess, with some that are conservative, but they`re not winning. And Pat Toomey, he was Club For Growth. That`s all about tax cuts.

SHAH: Yes.

REID: They got tax cuts.

SHAH: Yes.

REID: So, I don`t understand. Winning what?

I mean, with Pat Toomey, they got what they wanted on taxes. So, what do they want? Is it just all race stuff?

SHAH: It`s hard for me, because we have to -- we have to really parse this out.

It`s multilayered, the problem, because, as a young activist in the party, why I even got involved in the D.C. GOP is because I was a young political operative. I thought, I`ll ascend the ranks, and then this is how I solidify a career.

When I realized that that`s not how it`s done, it was kind of too late for me. And so, when I looked around and saw who was standing around me, I saw a bunch of nobodies. And I know that sounds horrible to say in some ways, but these nobodies were people that were pushing extreme messages.

And they were trying to say, this is what`s going to win us elections. And then, occasionally, we go back to the topics at hand, taxes, limited government in general, defense, whatever it was. Now there`s none of that. It`s literally Trumpism.

And, in this moment, I get it. So many people have made that calculation that they don`t want to live with this party. I myself have not, because I can be a better agent of change from the inside than I could the outside. I have been a Republican longer than Donald J. Trump ever was.

And I think the reality is this, is that these third-party conversations are nice and all, but it`s time to do the work. Let`s figure out where the problem is. And I know exactly where it lies. It lies in the minds of a lot of these people that have been sold a bill of goods by people like Trump.

And they, frankly, just need to be told that this was all a lie. Let`s find a way to message our values, get back to the values. I have a really hard time believing it`s going to happen in the short term.

REID: Yes. Yes.

SHAH: And I know that principled conservatives will disagree with me sometimes, because they`re looking, and they`re seeing Burr and people like who I consider a friend, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, so, young, old.

REID: Yes.

SHAH: And they`re seeing these people sort of getting taken out to the pasture in some sense.

REID: Right. Yes.

SHAH: But I say the pendulum will swing back. And we have got to do it, because there`s a new kind of populism in town, Joy.

REID: Yes.

SHAH: And I think anybody who wants to run, let -- just be yourself. You`re enough. Let`s ride this out.

Policy is for everyone.

REID: Yes.

SHAH: America is for everyone.

REID: Well...

SHAH: Democracy is for everyone. And we need a healthy Republican Party for that.

REID: You don`t sound like a Republican, unfortunately, the way they are now.


REID: By the way, Marjorie Taylor Greene held a town hall tonight in which she said that the Democrats are evil and they are -- they have attacked God`s creation.

And that`s what`s rising right now in the party.

Rina Shah, good luck to you getting your party back.

SHAH: We will push back, Joy.

Thank you.

REID: Still ahead -- good luck. You can come back another time.

And the sudden failure of the Texas power grid leaves millions in the dark and shines a battery-powered spotlight on the state`s long history of political dysfunction and hypocrisy.

Stay with us.


REID: Some of you woke up this morning wondering, why is Texas covered in ice, sleet and snow? Why was it colder and Dallas than it was in Anchorage, Alaska? And why were nearly five million Texans, a state that is arguably the energy hub of the world, without power?

All legitimate questions with complicated answers.

First, the state was struck by a once-in-a-generation storm triggered, of course, by climate change, something that Governor Greg Abbott doesn`t take seriously, given his plans to sue the Biden administration for trying to do something about it.

Then there`s the state`s fully independent electrical grid, which apparently buckled under the overwhelming demand and forced rolling blackouts.

Critics are saying that Abbott was too slow to respond to criticism he`s received before, given his laissez-faire attitude toward the pandemic. Over the weekend. Abbott, the same guy suing Biden for federal overreach, called the president asking for federal help, a perplexing move from a state whose leaders are chattering on about seceding from the rest of the country.

It`s even more hypocritical when you think about the state`s long history of railing against the federal government, at least when it`s in Democratic hands. Remember back in 2013, when Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn voted to block New York and New Jersey from getting help after Superstorm Sandy?

Yes, so do I.

You hear lots of complaints coming from Republicans droning on about blue state bailouts. But these same folks from secession-curious states are more than happy to dial up the federal government in moments of crisis, as well they should.

For more, I`m joined by Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro. He`s back home in San Antonio, Texas, and joins me by phone.

And, first of all, I will ask how San Antonio is faring right now, in terms of the number of people without power.

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): It`s been very tough, Joy.

There are still hundreds of thousands of people in San Antonio without power, a lot of people without water. I have been without power now for about 24 hours. It was spotty before that. And there are a lot of people that are still in that same situation.

And my family and I have been able to manage it, of course. But there are a lot of folks who are elderly and living by themselves, people who are diabetic and have other medical conditions where they need to be able to cook food or have relatives deliver it for them.

And this is a city and a state that`s not really prepared for deep freezes. Very cold weather affects Texas in ways that it doesn`t -- it doesn`t affect other parts of the country, because the other parts of the country are better prepared and are expecting those conditions.

And then you layer on top of that a state government that`s just been derelict in updating and maintaining ERCOT, which is the electric grid that only operates in Texas. Unfortunately, it`s led by people who are absolutely married to fossil fuels, some of whom are climate deniers.

And that`s made it very tough for us to modernize our system.

REID: Let`s talk about ERCOT for a minute. It is unique that Texas has its own power grid. No other -- I don`t know of any other state that has it that way.

But to your very point, one of the experts at ERCOT has said the blackouts are primarily because the instruments are getting frozen in the gas, coal and nuclear plants. Meanwhile, sort of Texas politicos on the Republican side are trying to say it`s the green power grid that`s the problem.

Do you have a sense of that? Because that doesn`t seem logical. It seems like it is the gas-powdered...


CASTRO: Right.

Right now, you still have just a fraction of the Texas grid that operates off of renewables. And as folks made the point to me earlier in the day, what happened was, even with the wind turbines, for example, that the grid is operating off of, Texas didn`t buy the equipment and the servicing necessary to operate them well in cold weather, in very cold weather.

And so it`s like refusing to insure against an event that you just don`t think is going to happen or you don`t want to spend the money on. And so now here we are, where you have got four or five million Texans without power.

And in terms of the traditional energy, that`s still the lion`s share of what operates the grid. And, yes, the problem there has been delivery of this energy. And now what you`re seeing are reports of skyrocketing, spiking prices for natural gas.

And so, as I posted earlier on Twitter, we need to make sure that we`re monitoring anybody who may be price-gouging at this point, because the tragedy of all this is that, even though so many Texans have gone without power now for a day or two, people could get the highest electricity bills that they have ever received because of the spike in cost over the last few days.

REID: Yes. Yes. There`s even a lot of frustration about Houston keeping the lights downtown on, and people getting really frustrated.

Real quickly, is this an issue that politics can solve? I mean, you have had people like Senator Ted Cruz and Dan Crenshaw, the congressman, and the attorney general, like, dunking on California constantly and saying hah-hah when California had wildfires. They`re climate deniers. They supposedly dislike the federal government, but now, they need federal help.

Is this a political catastrophe in Texas that could be solved by voters, by changing out who`s running that state?

CASTRO (via telephone): Well, sure. I mean, look, if you pick people who are more committed to modernizing the grid and perhaps integrating in a better way, then certainly you could, you know, solve that issue. But, you know, what happened over the years is that Republicans I think are very spoiled winning statewide election after statewide election. And so, they haven`t felt forced to deal with issues like this.

But now, I think millions of people without power and folks suffering is really hopefully a wakeup call for them.

REID: Yeah. We shall see. Let us know if you ever feel like -- filling one of the statewide roles maybe down the road.

Congressman Joaquin Castro --

CASTRO: Thank you.

REID: -- thank you very much. Cheers!

Up next, David Perdue is back and he`s bad. But another Trump enabler`s craven attempts to have it both ways on impeachment makes him the absolute worst. The big reveal is coming up.


REID: Remember David Perdue? He was a Republican senator from Georgia until a Democrat beat his Ossoff. See what I did?

One of the two losses for the GOP that handed Democrats control of the Senate, the one term senator is already planning a come back, tweeting today he is considering a rerun in 2022, this time against Senator Raphael Warnock, in part he says because to his way of thinking, Senator Ossoff and Senator Warnock do not fairly represent Georgia.

There`s just something about these two senators Perdue doesn`t like, I just can`t put my finger on it.

Now, if Perdue does run, it ill up set up a race between the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church and devotee of the church of Wall Street. That`s because David Perdue was one of those multimillionaires who profited off of COVID while publicly playing down the pandemic`s threat, engaging in a type of well-timed trading that got nowhere near the scrutiny of, say, GameStop which broke the Internet.

As the Senate`s most prolific stock trader, he and other senators that included former Senator Kelly Loeffler of Black lives don`t matter fame raised eyebrows for stock trades made early in the pandemic, dumping company stocks, investing in others like DuPont, a company that makes PPE, and Pfizer.

The Justice Department looked into Perdue stock trades, but investigators ultimately dropped the case, and yet the stench remains. Leading Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley to dub him and Loeffler the Bonnie and Clyde of corruption.

Perdue, considering a rerun, means he is the first sign of the GOP`s plan to take back power, a plan orchestrated by none other than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Now, remember, Perdue is a Trump minion, and as long as the GOP is Trump`s party, McConnell is beholden to the MAGA voter who he appeased by not convicting their dear leader.

While condemning Trump in a speech as well as this op-ed to appease those corporate donors who he needs to bankroll his path back to power, which is why Mitch McConnell is today`s absolute worst, a man unwilling to stick his neck out for anyone but his own unquenchable thirst for power.

That`s next.


REID: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is doubling down on his fake constitutional argument to hide behind his sole ambition to win back power, penning in "The Wall Street Journal" that Trump`s acquittal vindicated the Constitution.

Joining me is now is former Senator Al Franken, host of the Al Franken podcast and MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson.

Oh, Senator Franken, explain Mitch McConnell to us. I mean, he literally switched on Trump on a dime and now he`s trying to claim that what he did somehow vindicated the Constitution. Please make it make sense.

FORMER SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: Well, I served with Mitch for about nine years. I didn`t talk to him a lot, but he had a very good speechwriter. And so when I would talk to him, it would be after he gave a really good speech on like a commemoration of 9/11 or at a spouse dinner or something.

And I got -- everyone is going up saying I really liked your speech last night. He said, well, you can`t go wrong when you quote (INAUDIBLE) and I just took a chance and said, you know, I really like your speeches better that aren`t in the service of evil.

And he said I like the evil ones better. And I thought, gosh, he`s got a good sense of humor, I didn`t realize that. And no, he meant that.

He`s a pretty cynical guy. I mean that`s who he is. And that speech, of course, I think as you indicated, that was targeted at corporate donors who after January 6th abandoned him and also probably for the midterms to target moderate, you know, suburbanites and that kind of voters. So everything he does is calculated and everything he does is cynical and most of it is evil.

REID: I don`t know how to even top that.

I mean, Jason, look, Donald Trump -- here`s what Donald Trump said about it. You know this is one of those bipartisan moments because Trump`s description of McConnell today, he sent out a statement calling him a dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack. Apparently there was going to be a statement worse to go after his chins, as if Trump doesn`t have two, three chins, but it seems pretty bipartisan that people think Mitch ain`t it, Jason.

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, yeah. Well, look, the man doesn`t cast a reflection. He`s sort of the epitome of evil as Al Franken said. And he never liked -- I mean, like I said, I think he could breathe on a mirror and nothing appears there. There`s nothing at all.

But it`s not surprising because Mitch McConnell has always been that kind of guy. Really what`s happening right now, it`s about the money. Donald Trump is in Mar-a-Lago like one of those memes with stacks of 50s on his ear, you know, because he`s basically like hello, hello, I`m the one who`s got all the cash for the Republican Party. It`s coming through me.

Mitch has to come through me. Gaetz has to come through me. And Mitch is trying to set up a stream of donors to keep this Republican Party alive that does not require them to go down to Mar-a-Lago every six weeks and kiss the ring. This is the beginning of that begging process. I just don`t know if it`s going to be very effective.

REID: I don`t understand because, you know, look --


FRANKEN: It`s a very split party.

REID: Yeah, exactly. And Senator Franken, I mean, look, you had Perdue saying he`s going to run again. He runs by saying this of the two sitting senators of Georgia, that the people of Georgia represented by two of the most radically liberal individuals ever to occupy a seat on the floor of the Senate, I wonder what he doesn`t like about the black guy and the Jewish guy, something about them, I don`t know. Something, it bothers.

But Mitch McConnell`s response to maybe putting back a guy who was called the Clyde in Bonnie and Clyde because he basically was a crook when he was a senator. I personally, this is McConnell talking, I personally don`t care what kind of Republican they are, what kind of lane they consider themselves in. What I care about is electability.

So, if Satan B. Jones wants to run for the United States Senate, Mitch is like take him, he`s good. I mean, that`s him, Senator.

FRANKEN: If he can good. Now, Perdue lost this time and he lost against Ossoff. And -- but Warnock is in there for two years. And, you know, if Perdue wants to get back in, it will probably be a tough race and maybe somebody will challenge him for an endorsement.

But this is Trump`s party, certainly in Georgia, and this is -- there is just a split in this party and it couldn`t happen to a nicer party. Unfortunately, I think it`s bad for democracy. We need a party that is a real party and cares about democracy. Certainly the Trump wing of the party doesn`t, and also the McConnell wing doesn`t as we know when it comes to voter suppression.

They don`t -- they aren`t even going to ever care again about wing the popular vote. They just want to -- nationally. They just want to just barely get by. If they lose by 6 million next time, they may win.

REID: Yeah.

FRANKEN: So they are the most anti-democratic party. And I think that`s very bad for our democracy.

Look, 88 percent of Democrats thought he should have been convicted, Trump, only 14 percent of Republicans. We have a tremendous split in this country. And it -- to me, it stems from the different information universes that the Republicans are getting and those people, those Trump people are getting and the people that invaded the capitol are getting.

And it`s very dangerous. We live in a very dangerous time.

REID: No, indeed.

And, Jason, the thing is, is where do you go when the two halves of the Republican Party are the half that thinks Donald Trump is a demigod and that on March 4th he`s going to be actually inaugurated because somehow Q told them that somehow, and then the other half who says don`t let people vote. If they do vote, don`t count their votes, and, you know, do anything you can to win and you don`t need a popular majority, you just need to trick your way in?

JOHNSON: Well, Joy, I don`t even think that`s a 50-50 split. At this point, the Republican Party is like 60/40 between Proud Boys and the Klan, right? Who do you want as a neighbor? Neither one. That`s essentially what they are.

And I don`t think look -- it`s not surprising. McConnell doesn`t care about Perdue. They`re going to try and do anything they can -- remember, this is the party where a president got behind a guy in Alabama a couple of years ago who was accused several times of pursuing underage girls. And they still tried to support that guy.

It took Doug Jones everything in his power and a third-party candidate to beat the one Republicans actually wanted. So I`m not surprised. They don`t care if it`s a dead person. They don`t care if it was God himself, as long as that person can win, that`s what the Republican Party wants.

As long as that person will be loyal to the ghost of Donald Trump who will continue to hover over this entire what`s left of a terrorist-supporting party for the next decade or so.

REID: Well, and then I wonder, Senator Franken, then, is there a place in which Mitch McConnell actually might be playing himself? Because he tries to walk the line between saying he`s responsible, Trump is, but also -- so he wants the donors but also wants the Trump people. At a certain point does he just end up losing control of the party -- to like Ron Johnson?

FRANKEN: It`s a really good question. I mean, he -- don`t underestimate him. I think he did what he felt he had to do. But it was really zigzagy, boy.

I mean, at one point in the speech, he said that, well, you know, incitement is a legal term but there`s no doubt that he provoked this. And he -- that`s the same thing, Mitch.

REID: Synonym.

FRANKEN: Also, you know, and then he said, well, you know, there`s criminal and civil consequences here. And I -- and he could be charged and be a flight risk, so he would be under a maximum security prison, you know --


REID: I hate to interrupt this perfect -- it`s perfect impression of Mitch McConnell but I have to because we have to end the show.

Former Senator Al Franken and Jason Johnson, y`all are great. Thank you.

That`s tonight`s REIDOUT.

Be sure to tune in tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern for a special edition of "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW", "Justice After Trump". Rachel will take a deep dive into the scandals left behind by the Trump Justice Department and the lasting effect of the E. Jean Carroll lawsuit. Rachel is going to take a deep dive into all of that stuff, so you don`t want to miss it.

And Chris Hayes is up next.