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Transcript: The ReidOut, 2/19/2021

Guest: Beto O`Rourke; Anthony Fauci, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Lee Daniels


Power being restored in Texas after deadly storm. 7 million under

boil water orders in wake of deadly storm. Biden asking FEMA to accelerate

major disaster assistance. Texas demand answers after widespread power

outages. Cruz Apologizes for ditching state during crisis. Texans and non-

Texans working to provide assistance.



JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight

with some good news for Texans. ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of

Texas, the entity that`s responsible for managing the flow of electrical

power to most of the Lone Star State announced this morning that it has

finally ended emergency conditions, allowing the restoration of power to

freezing Texas homes for the first time since Monday. That`s the good news.

But life is still far from normal. At least 20 people have died as a result

of the storm. An 11-year-old boy died in an unheated Texas mobile home.

Authorities suspect hypothermia. Three children and their grandmother died

in a house fire. Officials believe the family`s efforts to stay warm may

have caused the fire. And college students are describing a frozen

hellscape, with dwindling food, flooded halls and unflushable toilets.

7 million people, a quarter of the state population, are now having to boil

their tap water before drinking it because low water pressure may have

allowed bacteria to seep into the system. In Houston, cars lined up for

blocks at a water distribution site so that folks could get clean water.

Governor Abbott, who has yet to reach out to some of his own state`s mayors

was one of roughly 20 Texas officials who President Biden reached out to.

It`s a departure from his predecessor who would wield federal assistance

like a weapon against governors who didn`t take the need.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we talk -- I talked to the

federal emergency management agency, FEMA, the administrator. This

afternoon, I` m going to ask him to accelerate our response and request

for, quote, it`s a different declaration, a major disaster declaration so

that we can get everything done that we need as possible.

When any state, as I said when I ran, I` m going to be a president for all

of America, all, no red or blue. It`s all about commitment to the American

people I make to one another.


REID: This past week has left many Texans frankly shell shocked, angry, and

looking for accountability. But no one seems to be taking any

responsibility even after they were warned. Governor Abbott, who was

already under fire for his poor handling of the pandemic, is blaming the

grid operators and the very much not in effect Green New Deal, which, I

will remind you, is still a proposal. It hasn`t been enacted. The grid

operators are blaming the state government.

And then there is Ted Cancun Cruz who doesn`t seem to care either way given

that he planned a weekend vacay get away to Mexico with his family to warm

up and maybe hit the pool bar. The man with a giant overnight bag continued

his apology tour on local news outlet and on Sean Hannity`s show, where he

got a much warmer reception.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Last night, I flew down with them to the beach and

then I flew back this afternoon. I had initially planned to stay through

the weekend and to work remotely. But as I was heading down there, you

know, I started to have second thoughts almost immediately because the

crisis here in Texas, you need to be here on the ground, as much as you can

do by phone and Zoom, it`s not the same as being here.


REID: While the Cruz family vacation was laughably ridiculous and painfully

insulting, frankly, it was yet another reminder of just how craven

Republican free market governance really is, a governing style that puts a

premium on selfishness, deregulation and greed, unfettered, gluttonous


If this week didn`t make that crystal clear, then just take a look at Jerry

Jones, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys, whose company made a

huge profit after the storm sent natural gas prices surging. Who knew he

was in that business?

As Texas Republicans were turning on each other, like The Red Wedding in

Game of Thrones, others stepped in to fill the void. Former El Paso

Congressman Beto O`Rourke rallied together an army of volunteers to make

nearly 800,000 calls to senior citizens across Texas to make sure they had

food, water and shelter.

Then there`s New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a favorite

target of Republicans in Texas and out, who`s heading to Houston after

raising $2 million to help people in that state.

And then there`s Houston native Beyonce Knowles who`s working with her

charity foundation to help provide grants for those affected by the winter


All of these folks are doing more to help Texans than the people who Texas

taxpayers are paying to do so.

I` m now joined by former El Paso Congressman Beto O`Rourke.

And I have to start by asking how things are. We know that there has been

that better news that I just mentioned out of ERCOT, but on the ground, how

are things still looking in Texas?

FORMER REP. BETO O`ROURKE (D-TX): It`s still really tough for a lot of

people, unfortunately. You mentioned at the top of your show, we have more

than 7 million Texans under a boil water notice right now in communities

like San Antonio and Houston, Texas, the fourth largest city in America,

there`s not enough water pressure in any of the neighborhoods to get

anything out of the tap.

And as that`s happening, supplies of water, and even food are dwindling

because we have had logistical and transportation challenges due to the ice

and snow, and the cold weather and the lack of electricity for much of the

week. So it`s really, really still bad, and we are not out of the woods


We are grateful that most residential electricity is back online, but there

are a lot of people who need a lot of help right now. And I` m so grateful

to President Biden and to his administration for seeking that major

disaster declaration. That`s the kind of help that we need right now in

Texas and for all of the folks at a neighborhood level who are checking on

their neighbors to make sure they`re okay, those who don`t have

transportation or access, helping them out, and all of these volunteers who

have been joining us on these wellness check-in calls over the last couple

of days, it`s really been a lifeline for many of our fellow Texans.

REID: You know, and, of course, whenever these disasters strike, it hits

people who are the have-nots the most. It hits people of color the hardest.

Just to zero in just for a moment, the state government has seemed to be

completely absent. It`s amazing. I was watching the Houston Mayor on

Stephanie Ruhle`s show this morning who said that he hadn`t even talked to

the governor at that point.

Are there resources that are being fanned out to make sure the communities

of color, black and Latino communities, Asian-American communities,

communities that are impoverished in general are getting more help?

O`ROURKE: I don`t see that from our state government. I do see it from

local leaders. You mentioned Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston, Texas.

The county judge there, Lina Hidalgo of Harris County, Rodney Ellis, one of

the County Commissioners. In North Texas, Clay Jenkins, K.P. George in Fort

Bend, Andy Brown in Travis County. The local leaders really where

government meets the road is where the accountability is. That`s where the

action happens to be as well. And I think that`s one of the bright spots in

a really tough week, and in the absence of statewide leadership, in the

absence of leadership from our U.S. senators, one of whom went to another

country in the midst of this crisis.

So in the toughest of times, the best comes out of every day Texans and we

are seeing that across the board. But I`ll tell you in these wellness

checks, the phone calls that we`re making, we talked to a gentleman in

Kaleen, Texas, had not eaten for two days, could not get out of his home,

we called a warming center. They provided transportation that got him there

so that he can get warm, could also get a warm meal.

I talked to a gentleman last night, he had a stroke after Thanksgiving, was

running out of water and food in his home, and was too embarrassed to reach

out and ask for help. Thankfully, we reached out to him and we`re

connecting him with services now. But this is really a case by case,

neighborhood by neighborhood effort and mission that we`re all on in Texas

right now, and we still need that help.

So for everyone around the country who`s wondering whether there`s more

that can be done, yes, when you contribute to food banks, to shelters, to

grassroots organizations that are helping on the ground, that makes a world

of different for us here in Texas, and we are so grateful to all of you.

REID: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, you mentioned the junior senator. The

excuses that are being made for him, and I don`t want to spend a whole lot

of time talking to you about him, but you did run against him for that job

as the United States senator. In theory, you could have been in that

position. People who are backing him up and making excuses for him are

saying, well, could a senator possibly do, and sort of saying, well, there

would be no point for him to be there, he`s just eating extra food other

people could get if he was gone. What do you make of that excuse? His

excuse also was he was just trying to do what`s best for his family?

O`ROURKE: I think what you have is people who are in government who don`t

believe in government at a time that we all need government to work. And in

Ted Cruz, you have someone who actually tried to overthrow the government

and overturn a lawfully, legitimately, democratically decided election.

There`s got to be consequence and accountability for that as well.

I think what most of my fellow Texans have come to realize is we just

cannot count on those in power, especially when we literally do not have

power in our homes. We have to turn to one another, to our local leaders

and we`ve got to organize around future elections to make sure that we have

people in positions of public trust who deliver for us and make sure that

we`re okay, especially in these darkest, most dire hours, as we are seeing

right now, in Texas.

REID: You know, and it`s interesting because you mentioned, right, you

have, you know, one senator who was focused on overturning the democratic

election, you have a state government that has been just in a mania of

deregulation, going all the way back to the 1990s.

You know, El Paso got through this better because it was part of the

western grid rather than not being in the, you know, the state run sort of

sui generis grid. I know it`s a bit too early. There`s still a crisis

that`s happening ongoing. Do you anticipate that your state will rethink

that model, that maybe regulation ain`t such a bad thing after this? Do you

see that there might be an appetite to sort of reintroduce government after

this is all over?

O`ROURKE: No, it`s not too early. Joy, this is the perfect time, in fact,

because we had a weather event not unlike this one in 2011. Lots of

promises made about weatherizing power generators, improving the

reliability of the grid, and look where we are today.

So I think we need to have a mandate to weatherize all power generation

across Texas. We need to incentivize additional capacity for storms and

natural disasters like these that because of climate change are only going

to become more frequent, more severe and unfortunately nor deadly. And

then, yes, we need to connect Texas to the national grid to sell excess

power when we`re generating it and drive those profits back into improving

the infrastructure, and then in desperate moments like these where we need

to draw down power, there needs to be a gateway for that to come through.

So I think those are very common sense, really non-partisan solutions that

people much smarter than I am have come up with. Let`s get that

implemented. And in the meantime, let`s make sure people who are without

water, without heat, without electricity, without food, get the help they

need. That has to be priority number one for Texas.

REID: Absolutely. Beto O`Rourke, who`s doing more as a civilian than the

leadership of his state or the two senators from the state are doing. Can

you please jus tweet out, on the places where people can help out, Texas if

they want, if you tweet that out and I`ll re-tweet it and we`ll make sure

our show re-tweets it out as well. Beto, thank you so much, we really

appreciate you.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, the doctor, I`m so excited about this, is in.

Dr. Anthony Fauci finally joins me on THE REIDOUT. I have so many questions

on the vaccine roll out and more.

Plus, a big announcement about a REIDOUT special event next week that Dr.

Fauci will be taking part in.

Plus, Ted Cruz is having a very bad year. First, there was the whole

inciting and insurrection thing, followed yesterday by his airport walk of

shame. But as bad as Cruz is, and he is terrible, he`s not the absolute

worst, believe it or not. That reveal is coming up.

And the great producer, director, Lee Daniels is here. His new film The

United States Versus Billy Holiday about one of our greatest musical

artists, persecution at the hands of the FBI is getting major buzz.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: Today, President Joe Biden traveled to a Michigan Pfizer facility

where we saw the first COVID vaccine shipped out two months ago. The

president declared that the country is on track to have enough doses for

everyone American by the end of July. And he delivered a plea to those who

still are hesitant about getting advantages vaccinated.


BIDEN: We all know there`s a history in this country of having subjected

certain communities to terrible medical abuses in the past. But if there`s

one message to cut through to everyone in this country is this, the

vaccines are safe. Please, for yourself, your family, your community, this

country, take the vaccine when it`s your turn and available. That`s how to

beat this pandemic.


REID: While the U.S. has now surpassed 28 million cases and nearly an

unthinkable half million deaths, we have seen a five-week decline in new

cases. More Americans are getting vaccinated but the winter storms have

wreaked havoc on shipping hubs, impacting vaccination efforts across the

country. Thousands of appointments are being rescheduled as states wait for

more supply. And this all comes as new variants of the virus are spreading,

raising concern that we could soon see a new spike in cases.

And joining me now, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute

of Allergy and Infectious diseases and Chief Medical Adviser to President

Biden. I have been really coveting this interview, Dr. Fauci, it`s good to

see you. I have not seen you since the World AIDS Day conference like two

or three years ago. It was during the previous administration. I will say

you look younger. I` m not sure why.

But let`s start by talking about this number. Whenever I have to report the

number of people who have died, Dr. Fauci, it just, it sticks in my jaw.

It`s painful to say the number. And we`re going to hit 500,000 really soon,

and you did, you know -- I always have wanted to ask you this, this is the

only question I` m going to ask you about the previous administration. Did

you ever feel at this point, as you saw that number ticking up that maybe

today is the day I walk out and I resign, and I do a press conference and I

say everything I know and maybe that will change things?


DISEASES: You know, Joy, I never really considered resigning because I felt

if I did, I would really leave a vacuum of somebody who, as you know, I

would always tell the truth, I would always be talking about with space on

data, and I was afraid that if I just did this symbolic walking out, you

know, it would be gratifying for a moment, but then I would not be able to

have the perch that I would have on the task force to make sure that we

talk about truth and about science and about evidence, and not about an

anecdote. So the answer to your question is I never seriously considered

walking out of that at all.

REID: Yes. Well, I` m glad you didn`t. I think a lot of people are glad

that you stayed, because you are the trusted voice. I know my godmother

pretty much listens to you. And she trusts Dr. Kizzy, the -- created the

Moderna vaccine.

But I want to talk a little bit about whether or not people are willing to

take it.

But I want to start with the equities issue, because, on vaccinations --

now we have a cold snap that`s hitting Texas. We have all of these sort of

difficulties in getting the vaccine out. But even when we didn`t have that,

I want to put up a chart that shows who`s getting vaccinated.

White Americans make up 63.7 percent of those who`ve been able -- who`ve

been vaccinated so far. Now, this is only a little over half of those

vaccinated who were accounted for. African-Americans, who make up almost 14

percent of the population, about 14 percent, are only 6.3 percent, Latinos,

who are 15 percent of the population, 8.8 percent.

Asian Americans are very -- a little closer to scale. What can we do about

that? Because I have heard all of these anecdotes about, when you open

these federal sites up, these big sites open up, wealthy folks drive to the

sites. They will drive across town to make sure that they get it first and

crowd out local communities.


The tragic part of those data, Joy, that really is terrible is that it`s

the minority population, the brown and black people, who are the ones that

suffer most from the disease that you`re trying to prevent by the vaccine,

that they`re getting a double whammy against them.

Not only do they have the propensity, because of their jobs out in the

community, to get infected. They have the underlying conditions that make

them more likely to get a serious outcome.

Now, when we have vaccinations available, that the proportions that you

show are very disturbing. There are two major reasons for that. One is a

bit of understandable vaccine hesitancy. But you don`t want to hide behind

that. It`s that we have got to really extend ourselves into the community

to get the access to minority populations that they don`t have.

And what President Biden has been doing since the day he walked in to the

office, and that is getting community vaccine centers up in areas that are

also highly populated by minorities, getting vaccine doses into pharmacies,

including in areas that serve minority populations, and, finally, going out

there and doing mobile units to get to the not-easily-accessible areas.

That`s what we do to extend ourselves out there. What we have been trying

to do -- and I take this very seriously -- is extend yourself to the

African-American and Latinx population, and explain to them that we totally

respect why you`re being hesitant.

The history of how the government has treated minority populations decades

and decades ago is shameful. It can never happen again. But that history

gets passed down. And you have got to say, I respect your concern, but

these are the two or three reasons why you really need to get vaccinated,

for your own health, for the health of your community, and literally for

the entire nation.

REID: Yes, my godmother watches this show. And you are probably the only

person who could talk her into getting it. So, I appreciate you doing that

even, specifically for the godmother.

But let`s talk now about these variants. The variants are very scary. The

idea that you have the South African variant, these variants that are

coming from Europe, that makes it even more frightening.

We`re talking about opening schools with that out there. Does the variant

being out there make you more hesitant about the idea of opening schools?

FAUCI: No. The answer is no. And I will tell you why, Joy.

First of all, we all need to abide by the public health measures that I

talk about 25 times a day all the time, the universal wearing of masks, the

physical distancing, the avoiding congregate settings, the washing of

hands, things like that.

But you have to break the variants down into two groups. The variant that`s

referred to as 117 is the one that was dominant in the United Kingdom. And

that`s one that has the capability of spreading more efficiently from

person to person. And it is even more virulent, in that it can make you

more sick. That`s the sobering news.

The encouraging news is that the vaccines that we have now that we`re

administering work really well against that variant. So, since that`s the

one that looks like it`s gaining momentum in our own country, and the

models predict that, by the end of March, it might be the dominant one,

that`s all the more reason to go ahead...

REID: Yes.

FAUCI: ... and when vaccine becomes available, for goodness` sakes, get


The South African variant is a bit more problematic, because that`s the one

that is now dominant in South Africa. It is in our country. It`s not

dominant. It`s still at a low level.

But the efficacy of the vaccine and the monoclonal antibodies against that

is down about fivefold. We still have enough capability of the antibodies

that are induced by a vaccine to give you some protection, particularly

against severe disease.

But we have to keep our eye out not only on those two variants, but on any

variant that might evolve. And the way you do that, Joy, it`s complicated,

but it`s simple.

REID: Yes.

FAUCI: It`s, A, you continue to abide by the measures that we talk about,

and, B, get vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available to you. That`s

the best protection against this.

REID: Well, Dr. Fauci, I have like 1,000 more questions for you, but I know

I`m going to get another chance to ask them, so I`m going to thank you for

being here.

Thank you so much for everything that you`re doing. Really, really

appreciate you.

And I want you all to join us next Friday at 7:00 Eastern for our very

special town hall, which Dr. Fauci, members of the Congressional Black

Caucus, and other medical experts are going to be a part of. They will be

discussing racial disparities in America`s COVID crisis.

Go to to be a part of our virtual audience, put your

little cute faces up there, and to submit questions for our experts.

And coming up next -- you do not want to miss that. That`s going to be


Coming up next: today`s absolute worst. You don`t want to miss it.


REID: Millions of Texans continue to suffer in freezing temperatures

without power in what officials are calling a failure of the state`s power


It`s a failure by Texas political leadership too.

Enter Senator Ted Cruz, who`s facing a scandal involving his terribly timed

decision to flit off to a resort on the Caribbean Sea, the same Ted Cruz

who voted to overturn election results as a member of the sedition caucus,

and who supported building a wall to keep people who look like him out,

people who cross the border because they want safety and a better life for

their families.

And yet he chose to cross the border into Mexico, abandoning his state in a

time of crisis, he says, for his family. Irony!

Look, this man isn`t exactly the most liked member of Congress or possibly

even by his supposed friends, given that someone from his wife`s vacation

group seems to have "The New York Times" on speed dial to leak their

personal texts.

But that nasty reputation he has, oh, there`s a reason for that, his off-

the-charts hypocrisy.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): President Obama and, for that matter, Hillary Clinton

and the Democratic Party, they`re so out of touch with where the American

people are right now.

He goes and plays golf hundreds of times with his buddies. He is not

focused on the people who are hurting, who are paying the cost.

We have got a job to do and we got a short window of time. And so we ought

to stop taking recesses, stop taking time off, and just keep going until we

get it done.

So, apparently, playing a game of pool is a higher priority for this

president than it would be to go and see the humanitarian crisis he`s



REID: Now, this story doesn`t end with flying Ted, because now his fellow

Republicans are using Silly Putty to defend him, even after Cruz himself

admitted he had originally planned on staying in Cancun until Saturday.

Matt "Gas Mask" Gaetz tweeted: "Ted Cruz should not have apologized."

Dinesh D`Souza, really, really reaching here, tweeting: "If Ted Cruz is in

Cancun, that means he`s not using up valuable resources of energy, food and

water that can now be used by someone else. This is probably the best thing

he could do for the state right now."


And then, of course, Sean Hannity making the case that working remotely is

still work, even if your remote workplace is Senor (INAUDIBLE).


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: You made the right call coming back. You also can

be a father. There`s also something called technology.

We also know what teleworking is, and I think there`s a lot of

sanctimonious politics being played in this attack.


REID: Uh-huh.

But the best -- and by that, I mean the worst -- comes from America`s least

favorite fail son, Donald Trump Jr., who tweeted: "The hypocrisy of those

trying to cancel Ted Cruz, who have been totally silent on their Democrat

governor`s incompetence is telling."

Yes, yes, little Donny, first off, your dad will never love you.

And, second, we are being very, very quiet about the Democratic governor of

Texas. And that`s because there is no Democratic governor of Texas. The

Texas governor is a Republican, man.

But you and your party are so programmed to place the blame on Democrats

that you`re spitting out drivel on a swivel, rather than condemning the

daughter-blamer who fled to sunny Mexico as millions of his constituents


Also, don`t you have chores that you should be doing?

And that is why, today, the Republicans, who clearly will defend, well,

anything their fellow Republicans do, from insurrection to abandonment, are

the absolute worst.


REID: It`s been a bad week for Republican leadership, especially in the

state of Texas, where they have proved they are all hat and no cattle.

As Governor Greg Abbott has abdicated his responsibility, trying to blame

green energy and Democratic policies for his state`s own failure to

regulate its energy market, his predecessor, Rick Perry, says that the

blackouts are an acceptable sacrifice, that Texas residents should be happy

to endure such hardship to be free of federal oversight.

Of course, Perry could have averted this disaster 10 years ago, when he was

governor. But he ignored calls for the state to winterize its energy grid.


Wait a minute. Where have I heard that before?


FMR. GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX): It is three agencies of government when I get

there that are gone, Commerce, Education, and the -- what`s the third one

there? Let`s see.


PERRY: I would do away with the Education, the...



PERRY: Commerce. And let`s see. I can`t. The third one, I can`t. Sorry.


PERRY: Oops.


PERRY: And, by the way, that was the Department of Energy I was reaching

for a while ago.


REID: Yes, yes, that`s right, the Department of Energy was the infamous

third federal agency that Perry wanted to get rid of back in 2011, when he

was running for president.


So, if Republicans like him had their way, the whole country would have no

energy policy at all. Perfect.

However, the worst Texas Republican this week was the mayor, who thankfully

resigned, after telling his residents to stop complaining as they froze. He

said only lazy people should expect access to heat and water.

It`s not just Texas Republicans who take pride in denying aid and services

to their own constituents. Under fire for giving wealthy neighborhoods

priority access to the COVID vaccine, Florida Governor Rick DeSantis is now

threatening -- get this -- to pull doses if local officials criticize his

distribution methods.

Good luck, pours.

Joining me now, Michael Steele, former RNC chair, and Victoria DeFrancesco

Soto, assistant dean of the University -- at the University of Texas LBJ

School of Public Affairs.

Thank you all for being here.

Michael, so you know I got to go to you first on this. You used to run this

party, my brother.



REID: And I remember a time when Democrats -- when Republicans tried had to

rebrand themselves as compassionate conservatives. Well, that`s over.

Now it`s just all: Let the poor die. If you don`t like my policies, I`m

going to take your vaccine, so more people can die And you`re whiny if you

don`t like freezing to death.

What`s happened?


Yes, there seems to be, I guess, a zero sum approach to governance. That`s

the only way to look at it.


STEELE: I don`t know who these people are. I don`t even know how any mayor

or any governor or anyone in elected responsibility in a dire situation

like this, their response, their go-to is: Get over it.


STEELE: Just...

REID: Yes.

STEELE: So, look, I`m not going to sit here and try to explain this in any

way, shape, or form.

This is unlike anything I have ever encountered in politics.

I know, as the former lieutenant governor of my state, that if Bob Ehrlich

or myself had, during the crises that we had, when the hurricanes came

through, and when we had the bad winter weather, if our response to the

people of Maryland was, get over it, stop complaining about the cold snap

or all the water in your basement, you don`t survive that.

And that`s why the mayor resigned. That`s why Ted Cruz now is piling all of

this crap on his daughter, of all people. Oh, it`s her fault. Daddy, can we

go away? Sure.

REID: Yes, daughter-blamer.


STEELE: It makes no sense.

REID: You know, well, I mean, Victoria, then -- welcome to the show.

My understanding of government is that, especially at the state level, as

Michael just said, storms, crises really define particularly governors. And

you`re now seeing the governor of Texas try to blame a nonexistent Green

New Deal, which has never been enacted as law, tried to blame Alexandria

Ocasio-Cortez, who has nothing to do with Texas, other than raising $2

million for Texas, and doing more than the governor is doing.

I wonder how this style of governance can possibly keep going in a state

like Texas, where they have no federal government to blame. This is all on



And this could have been averted, Joy. We could have kept the power on

during this past week, if we had winterized in 2011, as the recommendations

were made. But the deal is, the power companies were given the option,

winterize or go the cheaper route and don`t winterize.

And, obviously, what are they going to do? But this is going to come back

and bite the Republican Party, not just because of the poor form, but the

complete lack of heart, of empathy, of any human emotion to the suffering

that`s going on, but to the brand that Texas has cultivated over the last

two decades as a business-friendly state, the Texas miracle. This is where

you want to come and relocate your factories and your plants.

But if you`re looking to relocate to Texas, and you see the mess that has

happened in the past week, you`re going to have second thoughts: Am I going

to move to a state where things work most of the time, where there`s kind

of infrastructure to support my business?

So, I think that this is where we`re going to be seeing the fallout over

the short to long term. And I have already been hearing murmurs in terms of

the business community being the one to put the pressure on Republicans,

because, otherwise, they`re not going to move.

REID: It`s a really good point, Michael, because states like Texas, states

like Florida attract a lot of people who come there for the weather.

But if your state is basically a failed state, eventually, you can`t

attract business. I mean, Florida looks like a cruel, not very smart state.

Let`s just put it that way. Their governor is vindictive and sort of

sadistic. I don`t know why anybody would move their business there, because

that means your employees have to be there. Nobody wants that.

And over time, tourism is going to suffer. So it does eventually start to


I think of this as sort of performative government -- performative

government, Michael, where you have, like, Ted Cruz performs insurrection

because he`s doing a performance, not -- this isn`t about governing. And

then he does this thing where he doesn`t -- he runs off to Mexico, but

instead of performing strength and saying, I went and so what, he then is


So, now it looks like he`s on the losing end of it.

Let me show you Lauren Boebert. Do you want to talk about performative

government. Look at her. This is Lauren Boebert. She`s a congresswoman from

Colorado. They don`t like dumb government.

She was at a hearing. And she -- her background on her Zoom is a whole

bunch of guns.

Michael, I grew up in Colorado. Lots of people have guns. Nobody I ever met

my entire life -- and probably all my neighbors had guns. No one ever

showed them to us. This is stupid. How does stupid get you more votes?

STEELE: Apparently, it does, because they`re electing them.

And that`s -- I mean, she got elected. Marjorie Taylor Greene got elected.

So, I don`t know what people are expecting or what they`re looking for out

of their leaders.

I mean, you want your congresswoman sitting in a hearing with AK-47s as her

backdrop? I mean, OK. I guess if that`s your thing, and that`s what gets

your boat floating, then OK, shoot a hole in it. I don`t know.


STEELE: I don`t know, Joy. I think a lot of people...

REID: Allen West got elected, brother. One term.


Well, and maybe that`s what it should be. But I think a lot of people in

the country right now are shaking their head and looking at the GOP and

going, what the hell? I mean, seriously?

OK, so what`s the next level of crazy you`re going to go to, to prove what?

A party, leadership should be about the very thing that Victoria touched

on. And that`s governing. How do you govern?

REID: Yes.

STEELE: Not just in the good times, when you can show how smart you are, et

cetera, but in the tough times, when those smarts need to be tested and put

to put to work.

REID: Yes.

STEELE: And across the board, that has been a failing point.

REID: Real quickly, Vicky, because, on the other side of the aisle, you

have somebody like a Governor Cuomo, who actually really got lauded for his

really smart handling and compassionate handling of the COVID crisis, only

to now face his own scandal over not necessarily being super transparent

about some of the deaths that were happening in nursing homes.

Talk a little bit about that, because that then begins to mitigate the idea

of good governance, at least from someone like him, who`s somebody who`s

seen as having maybe a national future.

DEFRANCESCO SOTO: At the core of good governance is truth. It`s


And you cannot hide. You can hide for a little bit, but, ultimately, it`s

going to come out. And in this day and age, when we have technology, when

we have so many virtual files, when we have our text messages that can be

made public, we need to understand that you cannot hide.

And I think this is what`s so frustrating for someone who otherwise is very

talented, is very smart, to think that they can get away with this. And I

think that is the problem. And that`s why we need more transparency.

If people were dying, OK, this is a tragedy, but how are we going to fix

it? Because, if we don`t have the real numbers, if we don`t have

transparency, we can`t formulate policy to make good on it.

REID: And, you know -- but you know what the difference is? Democrats in

New York will make -- will punish him for that.

Republicans would just be like, so? That`s the difference between the two


Michael Steele and Victoria DeFrancesco Soto will be back for the glorious

return of "Who Won the Week?"

But, first, as we continue celebrating Black History Month, award-winning

director Lee Daniels is here to talk about his must-see new film, "The

United States vs. Billie Holiday," the untold story of the legendary

singer`s civil rights activism.

I am so excited to talk to him.

We`re back after this.



UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What is the government`s problem with Billie Holiday?

Why is the government always after you?

ANDRA DAY, ACTRESS: My song "Strange Fruit," it reminds them that they are

killing us. I single out the names of my suppliers. They don`t want no

names. They want to destroy me.


REID: In the upcoming film "The United States vs. Billie Holiday," the

great Andra Day plays the jazz legend, who faced unrelenting attacks from

the federal government after she refused to stop singing her anti-lynching

masterpiece "Strange Fruit."

As "The Hollywood Reporter" points out, it`s one of two new movies, along

with "Judas and the Black Messiah" about Black Panther Fred Hampton, that

"depict relentless campaigns by American government intelligence agencies

to silence influential black voices closely after an impeachment trial, in

which the majority of GOP senators showed their complicity in violence from

white supremacist groups by voting to acquit the instigator in chief."

And I`m joined now by Lee Daniels, director of "The United States vs.

Billie Holiday."

Lee, it`s so great to talk to you. Congratulations on the film.


REID: I`m hearing probably the name Andra Day every day and talking about

this incredible performance.


REID: But you decided to do something different.

My good friend Chris Witherspoon from PopViewers, he made this really great

point to me and some friends. We were talking about Billie Holiday. And

most people know "Lady Sings the Blues." They know that kind of narrative

about her, her music, and even some of her troubles. But she went right for

the political FBI attacks on her.


DANIELS: Because I didn`t know that it happened.

I`m a psycho fan of "Lady Sings the Blues." And I thought that she was --

Billie Holiday was a great jazz singer, a troubled woman that was in and

out of jail. But I didn`t know that she was a civil rights leader and that

she was -- that she kicked off the civil rights movement as we know it with

this "Strange Fruit" song, and that the government really tried to stop


They did everything they could to stop her. And so -- and I was -- I had to

tell the story. There was no way I could not tell the story. It`s too

important of a story to not tell.

REID: And the song "Strange Fruit," of course, being about lynching and

talking about that, particularly in that era, when white audiences did not

want to think about the things that their own cousins, friends, family

members, police officers they trusted were doing, talk about making a film

like that at a time when we just saw Confederate Flags flying in our

Capitol, when we saw the attempted lynching, a lynch mob go in to try to

get the speaker of the House, to get the vice president.

And that -- to me, when I saw those crowds rush in, I thought, that must be

what a lynch mob looked like.

DANIELS: Joy, I had no idea when we did this movie that we would have the

George Floyd incident or even the noose at the Capitol.

But it was an aerosol in -- and it was a -- I did "The Butler." And with

"Butler," it was hope. We thought -- I felt hope with Obama in office.

But with Trump, I just -- I did it because my spirit attracted me to what

was in the air. And in the air were nooses.

So, no, I didn`t see them, but we saw them later on.

REID: Yes.

And we`re seeing now law enforcement get a lot of questions. You have the

Capitol Police now are investigating some of their own for potential

complicity in the crime that we saw take place on January 6.

How in your sort of -- in the narrative of when we talk about lynchings,

and we talk about violence against the black body, how much does law

enforcement needs to be talked about, and the FBI, indeed?

DANIELS: Part of the reason I did the movie, too, was my dad was a cop.

And the only time I saw him cry -- we`re from Philadelphia. And the only

time I saw him cry was when he came home after Rizzo, Commissioner Rizzo,

because he wasn`t mayor then, did what he did to MOVE, the MOVE,

organization. It was an atrocity.

And I think that this is a dilemma. We are in a dilemma. And this is -- it

just seems like it`s -- from Billie`s time to my -- to the `60, `70s, to

today, this country is in trouble. This country is in trouble. And I only

know how to help through my work.

REID: Yes. And you do. I mean, the stories that you tell are so rich and so


DANIELS: Thank you.

REID: I have to talk -- have you talk just a little bit about Andra Day.


REID: Her transformation into Billie Holiday is remarkable.

DANIELS: Thank you.

REID: Talk a little bit about her, because this is her first big acting


DANIELS: First big acting gig.

I think that she trusted me. Often -- I`m so transparent with my actors and

about my vulnerabilities and my flaws. And she just -- she just -- we

jumped off the cliff together in telling -- she knew the importance and how

important it was for both of us to tell Billie`s story, to tell it the

right way.

REID: Yes.

DANIELS: And I`m just -- it was it was a gift from God, Joy.

I thought she -- I don`t -- God`s been looking over this project. Billie

has been looking over this project by handing me her, yes.

REID: Absolutely.

And what do you hope people take away overall from the film?

DANIELS: I think that if Billie, who was a queer black woman in the `50s,

could go out and stand up to the government, because she didn`t look at

herself as a civil rights leader -- she was just living in her truth and

doing her thing -- that if Billie could do that back in the `50s, we must

do the same.

We owe it to her. We owe it to people that have died for us to do the same,

such as you`re doing, Joy.

REID: Yes. Everyone has to watch this movie.

DANIELS: You do. You do it. You do it. You do it every -- you do it every

day. So, we all have to be like you.

REID: You`re too kind. Oh, you`re too kind. You`re too kind. You`re too


DANIELS: I`m too real. I`m too real.


REID: Well, now I`m going to keep you. See, now it`s a hostage situation.

DANIELS: Uh-oh. Uh-oh.

REID: So, you`re going to stay right here, because we have made it to

Friday. And you know what that means.

It is now time to find out, with our wonderful special guest Lee Daniels,

"Who Won The Week?"

Michael Steele, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto are back with Lee Daniels.

OK, so, Michael, you are the veteran in this "Who Won The Week?" game, so

I`m going to allow you, sir, to go first.

Michael Steele, who won the week?

STEELE: I`m going to go a little bit contrarian here. Ted Cruz won the



STEELE: And he won the week -- he won the week because this brother has

given every aspiring and currently serving elected official a primer on

what your responsibilities are and are not in a storm.


STEELE: Just so we clear.

REID: It`s like what not to wear. It`s like not what not to wear,





REID: Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, can you please, can you, Victoria, can

just rescue this, please?

DEFRANCESCO SOTO: I went the complete opposite.

REID: Who won the week? OK, OK.

DEFRANCESCO SOTO: We`re going with Texans, everyday Texan neighbors, Texan

neighbors who were checking on each other, who were pulling each other out

of ditches when they were on the roads.

And a very special shout-out to my parents` neighbors who were taking care

of them when I couldn`t get to them because of the storm. So, it`s about

the Texan neighbors this week.

REID: Yes. That`s wonderful. See, that`s good.

See, Michael, that`s how you do a positive.


REID: Because yours was super ironic. It was funny. It was comedy.

But I don`t know if it was really the winner.

OK, we`re going to give Lee Daniels, who is our special, wonderful,

esteemed guest...


REID: Sir, who, in your view, won the week?

DANIELS: I`m mad at him, because Ted Cruz rocks my world for that one. That

was a good one.


DANIELS: I was saying -- I was saying the 911 workers from the -- from


I mean, all around the country -- all around the state, what they have been

doing is an incredible job. Half of them don`t have electricity. They`re in

the same -- their home -- it`s a mess out there for them. And yet they`re

able to direct people that are calling in.

They are -- they are my heroes right now.

REID: Yes, absolutely.

Well, my pick is not a person.


REID: My pick is a little, adorable thing, Snowflake.

Snowflake won the week. And I`m going to tell you why.

Snowflake, who was left at home with some human who also was ditched by Ted

Cruz and didn`t get to go to Mexico...


REID: ... got to spend a full 24 hours not in the presence of Ted Cruz.

That`s called Snowflake winning the week.

I`m the host. Therefore, I win.

Lee Daniels, Michael Steele, Mike -- Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, that is


Lee`s new movie, "The United States vs. Billie Holiday," premieres next

Friday on Hulu. You must watch it.

That`s tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" is rescuing right now -- up next, the former FEMA

Director Craig Fugate.




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