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Transcript: The ReidOut, 2/24/2021

Guest: Ron Klain, Ted Lieu, Naveed Jamali, Alex Wagner�


House is expected to vote on $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill on Friday. OMB nominee Tanden`s confirmation vote has been postponed. Biden says, cabinet is in good shape despite failure to have a rational transition. Klain says, they`re going to get Neera Tanden confirmed. Democratic Senator Manchin says he opposes Neera Tanden for OMB chief. Republicans try to shift blame for Capitol riot. The Republican Party has blind devotion to Donald Trump. Six months to the day since he last testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was back defending his leadership of the Postal Service, with a new plan for an overhaul that could lead to slower mail and postage rate hikes.



ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for spending some time with THE BEAT with Ari Melber. "THE REIDOUT" starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with some good news. President Biden`s signatures legislative priority, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package is inching closer to passage. The bill, which would provide much needed cash directly to people, cities and states, could pass the House as early as this week with the Senate expected to follow shortly thereafter, along with direct checks, paid leave and additional unemployment insurance. The bill also includes a transformative monthly child tax credit and a minimum wage increase, both expected to help with millions of children and adults out of poverty.

Now, there`s overwhelming public support for the legislation, even 60 percent of Republicans in the country back the bill. That`s outside the sausage-making factory of Washington. Inside the beltway, elected Republicans who clearly are uncomfortable with the prospect that Biden actually might get something done, well, they`re desperate to launch a counterattack against the Democratic president, at this point, attacking any old thing will do. But we`re also talking about Republicans. So the go- to is the same go-to as usual, pick out women and the people of color, and just go off.

And so several Republicans have decided to target Biden`s cabinet nominees of color, like Deb Halaand, who would become the first indigenous American to become interior secretary, and Xavier Becerra, Biden`s nominee for Health and Human Services, and Neera Tanden, his Southeast Asian-American nominee for OMB.

Haaland got an unexpected boost from Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia today, who announced that he would support her nomination after signaling some early discomfort. This comes almost a week after Manchin announced that he would oppose Neera Tanden`s nomination, leading that in, including the person in this chair talking to you right now, wondering where Joe Manchin was hiding for the last four years when Donald Trump nominated terrible, unqualified troll after terrible unqualified troll.

But Manchin, so far, only fight to tamp down on mean tweets from mouthy women seems to be working at least for now. Earlier today, a Budget Committee vote that would have moved Tanden`s nomination to the Senate floor was postponed. Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders told reporters why in a simple one liner, she didn`t have the votes.

President Biden was asked what he thought of the slow pace of confirmation for his cabinet members, and here`s what he said.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I am, but I don`t so much blame it on the Senate. I blame it on the failure to have a transition that was rational. As you know, previous administrations had a significant number of their cabinet confirmed before they were sworn in. That`s the tradition.

But we`re doing fine. I think we`re going to be in good shape.


REID: Joining me now is White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. Mr. Klain, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate you.

Look, with all due respect to the president, there is having a transition that`s rational and there`s having a party across the aisle that`s rational. And even during what would have been a normal transition, they actually had a majority. So the thinking is they would have fought even harder against women and people of color than they`re fighting now because they would have been able to defeat them.

So let`s zero in on Neera Tanden specifically. Neera Tanden hasn`t done anything worse than what Mr. Grenell, Rick Grenell, who Joe Manchin supported when he was nominated by the former president. And she`s getting this very specific fight that no one else is getting. Do you feel confident she will be able to overcome it despite Manchin?

RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, we are fighting very hard for Neera. And we had Senator Grassley tonight announced that he is open minded on Neera`s confirmation, we have got other Republican senators we`re talking to. We know that getting someone confirmed in a 50/50 Senate is hard.

But Neera Tanden would be a superb budget director. She would be one of the most outstanding budget directors we`ve had. She knows policy, she knows all of how to get something done in Washington, she`s a great candidate for the job, and certainly we`re fighting our guts out to get her confirmed.

REID: And, I mean, Republicans don`t care about that, okay? Let`s stipulate to that, right? They care about winning the sort of fights that are more about messaging for their side. And so targeting these women, people of color, it is on message for them.

Would Joe Biden be willing to make Neera Tanden acting OMB director if they continue to fight, and if Joe Manchin continues to stand in the way?

KLAIN: Well, Joy, we can`t make someone acting director of an agency who has not been Senate confirmed. That`s the law. We can`t make them acting director of an agency unless they are a career official, has been there 90 days or more. So if Neera Tanden is not confirmed, she will not become the budget director. We will find some other place to serve in the administration that doesn`t require Senate confirmation.

But let me be clear, we`re going to get Neera Tanden confirmed. That`s what we`re working for. And she will prove her critics wrong as an outstanding budget director that works with people on both sides of the aisle. That`s what I think her record truly shows. Yes, there are hot tweets there, of course, which she has apologized for, but I think her career of service, for work on public policy, her progress and really advancing the cause of health care coverage in America, which is so bound up in the budget business, I think she will be a superb OMB director.

REID: And let me ask you about Joe Manchin, Senator Joe Manchin, because politics is complicated, right, and when you have leverage, you use it. What do you think he is using leverage for? Is this about Neera? Because even she doesn`t seem to think or you guys don`t even seem to think that it is specifically about her. He has even said it is not about her personally. Is he leveraging what he sees as his power right now to get something else? Is there something else he wants, something on the $15 an hour issue, something on oil? Is there something else he is trying to get from you guys?

KLAIN: Not that -- I don`t think so. I take Senator Manchin at his word. He is a senator who does believe we need to have more civility, more cooperation between the parties. That`s his objection to Neera Tanden. I obviously disagree with him. I think Neera would actually add to that dialogue in Washington. I actually think she will do a good job, notwithstanding the tweets, her history of her work shows that.

But, look, Senator Manchin, he doesn`t answer to us at the White House, he answers to people of West Virginia. He believes this is the right vote for him. We obviously disagree, but we have been fortunate to have his support on other nominations, obviously. We are obviously working hard to get support for the American rescue plan.

I respect Joe Manchin`s right to cast his votes. He is an independent- minded senator. That`s what he is going to do. We at the White House, we`re going to make our case to him and all of the other Democrats and Republicans in the Senate on these key votes. That`s our job. It is our job to make the case, it`s their job to decide and vote.

REID: And are you confident that you`ll hold Krysten Sinema and some of the other more conservative Democrats?

KLAIN: On the Tanden nomination?

REID: Yes.

KLAIN: Yes. I do believe if we can get a Republican to be the 50th vote, I do think we will be able to hold the rest of the Democrats, and I do think we`ll get Neera confirmed if we can find that Republican vote. That`s what we`re working on right now. And that`s what we`re trying to get done here.

REID: Okay. Let me move on to the package. We talked a little about the $1.9 trillion package. Are you confident the $15 an hour minimum wage increase will be preserved?

KLAIN: Well, as you know, we`re all waiting on abated breath for a ruling from the Senate parliamentarian, which, at least when I walked over here, had not yet come down. Her ruling is going to have a big impact on the future of that provision.

The president believes we should have a $15 wage. If it is ruled in order, then obviously that would allow it to move in this package. If it is ruled out of order, we`re going to have to find other ways to get it done. I`m not going to --

REID: Yes. I thought that might have come through, but we will double check that. I`ll as my producers to double check. But if, in theory, the parliamentarian were to rule against the administration`s plan for $15 an hour, can`t the vice president override the parliamentarian? Hasn`t that happened in the past?

KLAIN: Not sure if has ever happened in the past. Certainly, that`s not something we would do. We`re going to honor the rules of the Senate and work within that system to get this bill passed.

This is a $1.9 trillion package that is vital to getting this country in a position to crush the virus, in a position to get people vaccinated, in a position to get schools open and to help all of those people that you`ve talked about at the start of the show.

We are going to get this package passed. That`s our highest priority. We want the minimum wage as part of it. That`s what the president proposed. But we`re going to work with the Senate to get this passed -- obviously the House first, then the Senate to get this packaged passed, because our country`s ability to fight the virus and to get the economy going again turns on passing this package.

REID: Let`s talk a little about foreign policy. You talked about the coronavirus. There is news out that`s talking about the fact that one of the United States` closest allies, Israel, is doing a great job vaccinating its own folks, its own people, but that the Palestinians are not being allowed to take advantage of that, that they are restricted because obviously Israel is the occupying authority and controls anything that moves in and out of Gaza and the West Bank. So is there not offering vaccinations to Palestinians, there`s no way for Palestinians to get it.

Is this something President Biden plans to bring in with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?

KLAIN: I don`t believe it came up in their call. Joy, I wasn`t a participant in the call. As you can imagine, our principal focus right now is vaccinating the American people, trying to get our vaccination rate up. And, obviously, that is our primary focus.

REID: But do you think that it is unfair or bad policy for our ally to be doing that within their country, where they are the outright (ph) authority?

KLAIN: I`m just not familiar with what`s going on in Israel and their vaccination program, Joy.

REID: What about -- and let`s talk about the Saudis. Can we expect just to say -- just in foreign policy, with just one more question, sort of foreign policy -- the Jamal Khashoggi murder, is that something that came up in the conversations or that will come up in conversations with the leadership of Saudi Arabia?

KLAIN: Well, as you know the director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, has agreed to release a public report on that. That`s forthcoming in the days ahead. And at some point in time, the president will talk to the king of Saudi Arabia, but I`ll let that call take place and then we`ll read out the call after it takes place.

REID: Thank you very much. And let`s talk about -- let`s come back to domestic policy. We have seen what Republicans have prioritized, even in the hearings where we`re talking about the January 6th insurrection. Their focus is to try to essentially affirm what the insurrectionists wanted, which is that they don`t like the fact that these predominantly non-white communities made a decision to vote for President Biden. They don`t like the fact that held. And so Republicans all over the country are pushing laws that will make it much harder for black and brown folks, for indigenous folks, for young people to vote.

How high is HR-1 on the priority list? Because that is the vehicle through which we could see some reinforcement for the Voting Rights Act. How high is that up on the priority list? I know you guys have immigration that you`re dealing with, cabinet nominations. When can we expect some action on HR-1 and on the John Lewis Voting Rights Act?

KLAIN: Yes. HR-1 is a high priority for us. Obviously, right now, the central priority is passing this rescue package to beat the virus, to get the economy going again. But as you say, Joy, it`s not our only priority. We`ve also sent to the Hill immigration legislation. HR-1 is very, very important. HR-3 on prescription drug coverage is also important to us.

So we know that there are people in our country who are trying to suppress the right to vote. We know that we need to fight that at the federal level, at the state and local level. And so, obviously, standing up for democracy is what the Biden campaign was about.

I mean, the campaign was a fight for the soul of America. That soul includes democracy. We saw an unprecedented challenge to our democracy on Election Day and in days that followed between them, obviously dramatically January 6th, and through the period.

And so we`ve been fighters for democracy this whole campaign, we`re going to continue to fight for democracy from the White House.

REID: And my last question to you, Ron Klain, how satisfied is the White House, is the president, with the pace of action on Capitol Hill on his priorities? You saw him -- we played a clip of him commenting about the process being too lengthy in terms of a transition. How satisfied is the White House with the pace of now legislation and nominations and everything getting through?

KLAIN: Look, we are hopefully just weeks away from final passage of the most progressive domestic legislation in a generation. To get that done in the first 100 days would be amazing. To get that done in the first 50 days will be incredible. We are also trying to get our key appointees confirmed. We have got two more confirmed yesterday. I think, well, it looks like we`re on track to get secretary of energy confirmed, secretary of education confirmed.

So we always wish things could go faster. Everyone wishes things could go faster. But I think we`re making a lot of progress both on the legislation and on the confirmations, and generally getting good bipartisan votes for most of the nominees.

REID: We will keep up on it, and, hopefully, you`ll come back, Ron Klain. Thank you very much for your time this evening. I really appreciate you. Thank you.

KLAIN: Thanks for having me, Joy. I appreciate it.

REID: Cheers, of course, you`re welcome back anytime.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, the Republicans are now -- well, they`re just completely divorced from reality, saying the siege at the Capitol didn`t even really happen, that QAnon, well, they don`t really exist because they don`t have a website. It`s just totally bananas.

And Ted Cancun Cruz called President Biden`s HHS nominee, Xavier Becerra, an unqualified trial lawyer. Oh, Ted. This is the same Ted Cruz that voted to confirm a position to oversee housing policy, an education secretary bent on destroying public schools and a climate change denier to run the EPA.

But, no, no, Ted Cruz, as hypocritical and disingenuous and just plain as weird as you are, you are still not the absolute worst. And I know you`re trying so hard. The big reveal is coming up.

And be sure to join us on Friday at 7:00 P.M. Eastern for a special edition of THE REIDOUT on racial disparities in the COVID crisis. Go to to be part of our virtual audience and to submit questions for our experts.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: While Democrats pursue legitimate inquiries into the Capitol siege, Republicans gaslight the country after backing the former disgraced president`s big lie, they act to downplay the insurrection or deflect blaming from those who deserve it, including themselves.

Not surprisingly in today`s hearing on domestic terrorism, we heard a lot of whataboutism from Republican members who didn`t seem to want to discuss right-wing violence.


REP. ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ): I fear that my colleagues on the other side will simply want to focus on right-wing domestic terrorism.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): To discuss one kind of extremism and look the other way on another, as the Democrats are trying to do today and have been doing for almost a year, frankly, dishonest, and it`s wrong.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): We don`t need to completely ignore others that were in the Capitol, as my friends across the aisle seem to be wanting to do.


REID: It`s just the latest obfuscation from the GOP following the Capitol riot.

Yesterday, Senator Ron Johnson, who apparently represents the Planet Koozebane, because he`s long since given up his own on our planet, pushed the preposterous claim that the insurrection was really the work of fake Trump supporters disguised as real ones. Very clever of them carrying all those Donald Trump signs.

Then there`s far right professional conspiracy troll and Trump-pardoned- for-his-crimes recipient Dinesh D`Souza, who says the mean old Democrats exaggerated the violence of January 6.


DINESH D`SOUZA, AUTHOR, "THE ENEMY AT HOME: THE CULTURAL LEFT AND ITS RESPONSIBILITY FOR 9/11": Even during the impeachment, we saw those concocted videos by the Democrats making this look like it was a scene out of "Braveheart."

But you had to doctor the videos to create the impression, because, in reality, this was a bunch of rowdy people walking through hallways.


REID: Birther says what?

Did I mention five people died as a result of the January 6 insurrection? It was a deadly insurrection.

Meanwhile, on FOX News, Tucker Carlson is busy Tucker Carlson-ing, trying to downplay the pernicious role that the QAnon movement plays in spreading disinformation. Never mind that prosecutors have repeatedly cited the influence of QAnon in connection with the Capitol siege.

But Tucker, ever the intellectual giant, says QAnon cannot possibly exist, because, if it does, where`s the QAnon Web site?


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: We spent all day trying to locate the famous QAnon, which, in the end, we learned is not even a Web site. If it`s out there, we could not find it.


REID: I mean, they don`t even have a Web site.

Republicans aren`t trying to deflect and deny alone. They`re also objecting to efforts to get a full accounting of the worst attack on our Capitol since 1814.

Today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi`s proposal for a 9/11-style commission, calling it partisan by design.

I`m joined now by Congressman Ted Lieu of California, who participated in today`s subcommittee hearing, and Naveed Jamali, former FBI double agent and editor at large at "Newsweek."

Thank you very much.

And, Congressman, I will go to you first.

It`s -- the sense I get of what Republicans are doing in these hearings is theater to try to destroy and disrupt the hearings. They don`t seem to have any other purpose.

Did you see another purpose at work?

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): I did not.

They`re trying to avoid the conduct of the domestic terrorists that stormed the Capitol on January 6, as well as other domestic terror incidents. And there`s a very simple question and answer as to why we`re looking into white supremacist groups.

It`s because the data shows that they`re far more lethal than other domestic terrorists. And you don`t have to trust me. You can simply look at the former acting Director of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, who said exactly that, that white supremacist groups are far more lethal in carrying out these incidents of violence.

REID: I mean, the FBI has said it. Everyone who`s testified on this with a national security profile has said.

Naveed, it`s almost as if Republicans are trying to invent -- I mean, Antifa is their favorite word, apparently. They see Antifa under their beds before they go to sleep at night. And they have decided to just invent an Antifa that also stormed the Capitol, or invent some fictional black group that also stormed the Capitol. But they don`t exist. And there`s video.

Can you just go through, as somebody who`s been in the FBI, who`s in the national security world, who are the greatest national security threats to the United States?

NAVEED JAMALI, EDITOR AT LARGE, "NEWSWEEK": Without a doubt, Joy, it is violent and extremist separatists and white nationalists.

This is not a new trend, Joy. This is something that has been on the rise since the 1970s. It`s been deprioritized. But under the Trump administration, it really gained momentum, in the fact that Trump really made a big tent for all these groups of hate to come together.

And, look, we saw it on display on the 6th. We had Oath Keepers and 3 Percenters, along with QAnon, all together, working together to storm the Capitol, something that just hasn`t happened.

And I think that this idea that there isn`t -- that this is an organic movement is false. I think that one of the things that should be looked at is, where`s the ideological base? When we talk about terrorism, we know that there are foot soldiers, but there are other people like bin Laden on September 11 who re directing this, who aren`t the ones who are actually flying the planes into the building.

And who are those people? And who`s directing this?

REID: Well, one of them is Donald Trump.

Here`s Tucker Carlson flat out refuting Merrick Garland when he testified in his confirmation hearing to head the Department of Justice about white supremacists being to blame.


CARLSON: There`s no evidence that white supremacists were responsible for what happened on January 6. That`s a lie.


REID: And now here is the police chief, the Capitol Police chief, Steven Sund, and other security officials saying white supremacists were involved in the Capitol attack. Take a listen.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Would you agree that this attack involved white supremacists and extremist groups?



REID: So, it`s very clear, Representative Lieu. They`re just pretending not to hear that sort of thing.

Do you think that part of the issue is that some of the people who are on these committees were placed on these committees to disrupt them, because they themselves are in part to blame for the Capitol siege, because they themselves supported the big lie that sent those people there?

LIEU: That`s a great point.

So, these domestic terrorists on January 6, they weren`t coming for people like me because I happen to be Asian American. They were going to try to stop the counting of the Electoral College votes because of the big lie. They wanted to stop the steal.

And if Republicans wanted to unify our country and reduce the risk of further political violence, all they have to say is one simple, truthful sentence: The election was not stolen.

Many of them still cannot say that. And that`s one reason we still have National Guard troops patrolling the Capitol in full body armor.

REID: And so I wonder, Naveed, what the price of this theater is, because it is just theater. They`re just -- they`re just mouthing words to theatrically support the former president, to sort of create a fake sort of whataboutism?

Let me let Val Demings -- let me turn it over to Val Demings. She talked about committing -- these committee members who were just playing games. Let`s listen to Ms. Demings, Representative Demings.


REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Aren`t we tired? Aren`t we, as a nation, exhausted? Haven`t we had enough?

Doesn`t this issue deserve more than a political debate, a lackluster and half-hearted response? And if my colleagues on the other side of the owl want to keep score, you will lose.


REID: And Representative Demings is a former law enforcement officer. She`s a former mayor.

I mean, Liz Cheney is even saying, look, guys, we got to make sure that -- we got to make it so we`re not the party of white supremacy.

It doesn`t seem her party`s listening.

From a national security standpoint, Naveed, what are the consequences of having a party say, no, Liz Cheney, we want to be that party, because we`re the party of Trump, and if he`s for white supremacy, so are we?

What are the national security consequences of that?

JAMALI: Well, look, we have heard everyone from the DHS, the FBI consistently say that one of the biggest threats that faces this conference, from a national security standpoint, is homegrown extremism, specifically white supremacists and white separatists.

So, if we can`t even agree to that factual statement, which is very straightforward, there should be no daylight between anyone -- when it comes to national security. This is never a partisan issue.

But when you have one side that refuses to admit the factual premise that white supremacy is, in fact, real and is in fact a threat to our national security, how do we come together to combat it? How do we protect this country? Right now, we can`t, because we have a good part of the Congress that is -- as Congressman Lieu is saying, is refusing to even agree to the most basic, straightforward facts.

REID: It`s a problem.

And, Congressman, I suspect that, if you go into the offices of these Republican members, they have got FOX News on churn, that, when they go home, that`s what they`re watching, or they`re watching right-wing media, or they`re reading whatever, Breitbart or whatever.

Is part of the problem here that the incentives that your colleagues on the other side of the aisle have are all about what these media people say, and that their fears are all about that, because that`s where their voters get their information as well, and so they can`t help you and they can`t participate in real -- in a real way in these hearings?

LIEU: Unfortunately, you`re absolutely right.

It`s not just that they fear their former president. It`s that they fear their base. And their base is watching FOX News spewing lies. I find it really funny when you showed Tucker Carlson saying that QAnon doesn`t exist because he can`t find their Web site.

He might just want to check out the FOX News Web site, who, on February 8, published an explainer on QAnon and everything about QAnon.


LIEU: So, you have FOX News and Tucker Carlson spewing all sorts of stuff to the base, and then that base gets angry at the Republican member of Congress, threatens to take them out in the next election in the primary.

And that is what keeps these Republicans in fear in Congress.

REID: And I don`t know how we get anywhere based on that.

Congressman Ted Lieu, Naveed Jamali, thank you both very much. Really appreciate your time tonight.

And up next: Sure, sure, sure, we could have taken the easy road and just dubbed Ted "Cancun" Cruz today`s absolute worst, because he`s the worst, but, no, we have got an even more robust and deserving candidate.

You are not going to want to miss it. Don`t go anywhere.


REID: After a week of terrible headlines for hapless, seditionist world traveler and part-time Senator Ted Cruz, Salon is reporting that a PAC attached to old Cancun Cruz may be buying his books through a mystery company, possibly allowing Cruz to profit off those sales.

Cruz is the worst 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just ask poor Snowflake. And, clearly, nobody not named Ted Cruz wants to buy his silly books.

But he is not the absolute worst tonight. Another candidate is Mike Pence, who said yesterday that he maintains a strong relationship with the former president.

Now, now, Pence did spend the past four years going above and beyond to praise the orange one.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To know President Trump is to know someone whose word is his bond, a president who gets up every day just to keep the promises that he made to the American people.

And I will tell you, it is the greatest privilege of my life to be vice president to President Donald Trump. President Trump is my friend.



REID: There was even that time.

But Pence was such a sycophant that, after his boss put his water bottle on the floor, Pence had to do the same.

But all of that was before his dear leader incited a mob on Capitol Hill that literally chanted, "Hang Mike Pence," and brought a noose to do it with.

Sure, sure, sure, forgive and forget, right?

But Pence`s his behavior is just a symptom of a larger problem, a Republican Party that has leased out its soul to kooks and conspiracy theorists and white supremacists mobs just to soothe the former president`s ego. And that`s before and after he lost the election.

And that, that is the absolute worst tonight.

Take Ron Johnson, R. Koozebane, who, as I mentioned this evening, is now trying to pretend that it was fake Trump supporters, not the chubby, friendly real ones, who led the riot.

But it goes beyond that revisionist history. Republicans are also using this opportunity to do retroactively exactly what those MAGA insurrectionists demanded, to suppress the votes of black and other non- white and young and liberal voters across the country, so no Republican ever has to worry about losing again, because only the right people will get to vote.

Yes, vote-suppressing Republicans who are affirming the goals of the January 6 Capitol siege are the absolute worst.

The Brennan Center reports that state lawmakers have carried over, pre- filed or introduced 253 bills with provisions that restrict voting access.

And it`s such an important topic for them that there are seven different sessions at this year`s CPAC on -- quote -- "protecting elections," including one with the baffling title "Failed States, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, Oh, My."

CPAC is also the stage for the latest drama between pro-Trump lackeys and the few Republicans who don`t support him. And that divide was illustrated in a truly awkward moment on Capitol Hill today.

And that is up next.



REPORTER: Do you believe President Trump should be speaking -- or former President Trump should be speaking at CPAC this weekend?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Yes, he should.

REPORTER: Congresswoman Cheney?

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): That`s up to CPAC. I`ve been clear on my views about President Trump and the extent to which following January 6th, I don`t -- I don`t believe think he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country.

MCCARTHY: On that high note, thank you all very much.


REID: That awkward exchange between House leadership is the Republican Party in a nutshell right now.

Joining me now is Alex Wagner, co-host and executive provider of Showtime`s "The Circus." And David Jolly, former Republican congressman who is no longer affiliated with the party.

Alex, the tweet Jim Jordan sent out after that extremely awkward moment: President Trump is the leader of the Republican Party. Its -- it is hilarious to watch. Your thoughts?

ALEX WAGNER, SHOWTIME`S "THE CIRCUS" CO-HOST & EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: It was like you expect a giant cane to pull Liz Cheney off stage, like don`t say that, lady. It is like chef`s kiss, the GOP in a nutshell.

The tension between the Republicans who understand the power of the base, 80 percent of the party has Trump 2020 signs in the front yard. And Liz Cheney who represents a moderate established, I can`t believe anyone with the name Cheney represents moderate, that`s where we are, who represents a hope the Republican Party can get out from underneath the shadow of President Trump and move forward into the light.

Fact of the matter is, at the end of the day, politically speaking, Jim Jordan, and Kevin McCarthy are probably playing the more winning hand in all of this, because the Republican Party is very much still the party of Donald j. Trump.

REID: I have said it before, I will say it again. I honestly think, David, in the real world, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz have more power, more shot at speaker in many ways than McCarthy. McCarthy, the pain in his face, awkward, awkward, awkward, putting me in awkward position, Liz Cheney, please stop. He doesn`t control anything in the party.

Here is who controls it. Politico and Morning Consult, hypothetical GOP primary poll, Trump, 54 percent. Game over.


REID: Your thoughts?

JOLLY: No, that`s absolutely right, Joy. What you see in Kevin McCarthy is someone desperate to be speaker of the House. He thought he was going to be speaker when Boehner resigned, the conference including myself didn`t support him. Everything he has done since then has been trying to cobble together votes to be the next speaker. He will do whatever a member asks of him. He is desperate to be speaker.

But I think we can observe what Republicans are doing in the first 60 days after Trump and we are seeing three identities develop. You got McCarthy and Scalise going to Mar-a-Lago, kissing the ring, they`re all in with Trump.

You got Mitch McConnell and Liz Cheneys, who I joke like the ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, Trump is dead to them, they agree to coexist but not going to work together.

And then we saw lessons of Nikki Haley who actually had the audacity to think she could elbow Trump out of the way, but take his coalition with her, and she got burned. And every Republican saw that. I think that lane Nikki Haley tried to create is all but gone now, at least for the next year or two.

REID: I mean, but, Alex, she gives this whole interview that she knows is being written down, runs down to Donald Trump and make friends. Like that`s not how that works.

Can we put this -- put that back up again. The "Politico"/Morning Consult poll. Look where Ted Cancun Cruz is in that poll. You`re at 3 percent.

You think that sucking up to Donald Trump is getting you something? You have half Nikki Haley. Even the sun is only at 6, Alex. This isn`t getting them anywhere. None of them are going to be president.

WAGNER: Well, it`s because this isn`t actually just about Donald Trump, it`s about Trumpism and I think we often make the mistake that it is about Trump versus everyone else. Trump represents a strain of fear and paranoia, xenophobia that the Republican Party has been selling in mainstream circles, mainstream outlets for the better part of at least a decade. I mean, if you want to get seriously historical about it, you could look back to Ronald Reagan and the vilification of a, quote, quote, welfare queen, right? This has been going on a long time.

Donald Trump took that electricity and got lightning in a bottle. But the reason he remains on top is he is best articulated the sort of Republican paranoid world view and people believe in that. They are not going to turn on him overnight. And that is why everyone else is polling in single digits. The Republican Party is given an opportunity to reconcile the sins of the past in this hour.

But the truth is, if they actually want to turn the page, it is going to take several election cycles if not a generation to get back into the light.

REID: You know, and, David, the other thing they`re leaving out of the calculations is that Donald Trump also had like two decades of mainstream fame to bring to the table. He had a hit TV show, I didn`t watch it, everybody watched "The Apprentice". People knew of him as a nonpolitical character, who is just a goof, and a character. He didn`t seem threatening, but he was famous.

Donald Trump Jr. may think he is famous, and his name is the same, he is not fame. Ted Cruz, you`re not famous. They`re not in the same way -- they don`t have access to mainstream culture the way Donald Trump used to, so they can`t repeat what he did.

JOLLY: Yeah, and they don`t have the grip of the party.

You know, Joy, I used to say the disaster scenario for Republicans is Trump would lose and decide to run in `24, it would break the party in half. I was wrong. I mean, polls show it is still Donald Trump`s party.

I think the wildcard in the numbers is whether he gets indicted and if he gets indicted whether he is found liable or even criminally culpable. What I mean is indictment may help Donald Trump going into 2024 because of what Alex said, grievance populism, Trump and Trumpism against the world.

But should he face significant legal jeopardy, loss of freedom, then we are in a situation somebody has to replace Trump. I think in the GOP, the person that can grab Trumpism and be successful with it is the one that can approach it through the lens of responsible populism. Donald Trump practices irresponsible, dangerous populism. But the Republican candidate that can seize the populist thread of Donald Trump`s ideology or non- ideology, if you will, and turn it into a responsible doctrine for Republicans, that may be the future of the Republican Party.

And that may be the candidate that can emerge in `24 if Trump doesn`t run.

REID: They all think it is him. Josh Hawley, fist pumping, yeah, it doesn`t make sense. Lest we bring the Democrats into it a moment, Alex. I have to go back to the parliamentarian.

Earlier, Ron Klain was on, he said they`re going to listen to the parliamentarian when it comes to $15 an hour minimum wage. This is a very crucial, like bottom line issue for people like those in the Poor People`s Campaign and others who are fighting for this, and lower wage workers that need this.

There are -- there`s a history of people ignoring the parliamentarian, 2001, Trent Lott dismissed Robert Dove, the Senate parliamentarian, after Republicans were angry that the Republican appointee disallowed spending measures as violating the Byrd Rule. It`s happened before. Nelson Rockefeller, the Vice President Nelson Rockefeller did it in 1975.

They can ignore the parliamentarian and the vice president can overrule the parliamentarian, they`re saying they won`t do it.

Do you think Democrats are at risk not playing the way Republicans would play in their place?

WAGNER: Well, yeah, but I think we have to give credit to the fact that Joe Biden has made this minimum wage part of the broader relief package. That signals they`re ready to fight for some serious progressive values. Now, I think when it comes to procedural elements, I`m not sure that Joe Biden is the guy that`s going to overrule the Senate parliamentarian. Honestly, I think the White House is not going to direct Democrats to fight procedural rule on this, given the fact that they`re planning on passing major projects like infrastructure maybe by reconciliation.

We have a lot of indications that say Joe Biden is going to go hard, has his foot on the pedal. They`re not going to stop at 60 miles per hour.

REID: Yeah. Last question to you, David. The optics of Republicans very openly and vocally fighting basically just the women and people of color, and then saying, you know, Liz Cheney says they shouldn`t be the party of white supremacy. But, you know, what do you do if that`s your plan, despite the women and the people of color?

JOLLY: Yeah, look, even if you take the -- even if you take the Liz Cheney approach that Republicans are not the party of white supremacy, they`re the party of white people. And I think that`s what you see on display in these hearings. The contrast is very loud to communities of color, as you well know, Joy.

This is not a message that falls on deaf ears among people of color across America. It is one of the great liabilities Republicans have politically for a generation to come.

REID: Yeah. And people will never forget it. Alex Wagner, David Jolly. You all are great, thank you very much.

And still ahead, Trump`s postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, says he`s not going anywhere and we should just get used to his ongoing campaign to dismantle the U.S. Postal System. What does that mean for your mail and your packages?

We`re back after this.


REID: Six months to the day since he last testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was back defending his leadership of the Postal Service, with a new plan for an overhaul that could lead to slower mail and postage rate hikes. He was hard pressed to explain how that would improve service.

One thing he did feel confident about was that he was going to remain the postmaster general under this new administration.


REP. JIM COOPER (D-TN): Finally, Mr. DeJoy, you are a political appointee, a holdover. No one knows how much longer your board --

LOUIS DEJOY, U.S. POSTMASTER GENERAL: That`s incorrect. I`m not a political appointee. I was selected by a bipartisan board of governors and I would really appreciate if you would get that straight.

COOPER: Well, how much longer are you planning to stay?

DEJOY: A long time. Get used to me.


REID: Not so fast, DeJoy.

Today, President Biden announced three nominees to the postal service board of governors that would give Democrats control and with it, the power to fire Mr. DeJoy and name a new postmaster general.

Joining me now is NBC News White House correspondent Geoff Bennett.

All right. Geoff, who are these nominees that are being added to the board or being nominated to the board?

GEOFF BENNETT, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Well, these three folks include Anton Hajjar. He`s the former general counsel for a leading postal workers union. You got Amber McReynolds. She`s a voting rights advocate, and Ron Stroman.

And let me tell you about Mr. Stroman, Joy, because until two weeks before DeJoy was installed under President Trump, Ron Stroman was the deputy postmaster general. He ws the highest ranking African-American in the history of the Postal Service. But he stepped down largely because, I`m told, he didn`t like the political interference that he was seeing from Donald Trump and Steve Mnuchin.

And so, now, if he is confirmed by the Senate, he will be effectively be Louis DeJoy`s boss.

And so, on the same day you saw the postmaster general testifying he would lead forward with his plan, his new strategic plan which I`m told would lead to slower service and higher rates, the White House cut him off at the pass by overhauling the governing leadership of the postal service. And that is the way if the White House so chooses and if this board so chooses, DeJoy would be pushed to the exits.

REID: And just to be clear, these seats were open really since the Obama administration. Why were there so many seats left open?

BENNETT: There were vacancies and the way it worked was that under Donald Trump, at least for the last two years or so, that board was basically comprised or Trump appointees, mostly older white men who had banking backgrounds. None of them had direct experience working within the Postal Service before they were appointed to this board.

So that`s one of the reasons why when the postmaster general was making these policy changes that were resulting in service delays, rank and file postal workers could have told you from the jump that it was going to create the slowdowns we have seen this summer and have persisted to this very day. People across the country are still getting holiday mail that was sent before December that`s now arriving in February.

REID: I have.

BENNETT: And then beyond that, you`ve also got the delays with medications and paychecks and a whole host of things. So this was a persistent problem. Those vacancies had been there and now the Biden administration is trying to overhaul the entire thing, Joy.

REID: I have to let the audience here Andy Biggs, the congressman, he`s an actual congressman, attempting to explain his version of why there were Postal Service delays. Take a listen.


REP. ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ): I want to discuss some of the 2020 events that affected the postal service`s ability to deliver mail in a timely fashion. No, they don`t have to do with COVID-19. Last year, Democratic colleagues turned a blind eye to nationwide mayhem, destruction, rioting and looting conducted by Black Lives Matter and Antifa activists. Many businesses and government agencies including the Postal Service saw their entities burned and operations halted because of the persistent violent riots.


REID: Biggs also said Democrats should apologize to DeJoy. Listen, the delays were caused by DeJoy`s -- what DeJoy did. That is an actual fact. You did the reporting on this. That`s the fact, right?

BENNETT: That is a fact. Antifa was not involved in any sort of service slowdown connected to the U.S. Postal Service. But it had to do -- largely it had to do with the pandemic. The Postal Service, like many other industries had really been decimated. There were staffing shortages and compounded by that were DeJoy`s plans to cut overtime and to, you know, pull from postal facilities sorting machines.

And so, it had this compounding effect and now the post office is still trying to dig out from underneath the avalanche of holiday mail. So, no, it had nothing to do with Black Lives Matter, nor did it have to do with Antifa.

REID: I swear Republicans kids when they don`t clean their room were like Antifa and Black Lives Matter is why I don`t clean my room.

Geoff Bennett, thank you very much. They`re the ones who made my room messy.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.