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Transcript: The ReidOut, 2/25/2021

Guest: Joe Neguse, Elizabeth Neumann, Rula Jebreal�


Capitol Police chief warns of right-wing extremism threat. Pittman says, militia groups threaten to attack state of the union. Authorities testify on Capitol insurrection. Pittman says faulty intel was a lesson learned for Capitol Police. GOP leaders speak out against 9/11-style investigation. Biden administration reaffirms focus on domestic violent extremism. Republicans downplay Capitol riot at House hearing.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: All the things we have fun with, you can always find @arimelber.

That`s our signed off, thanks for watching THE BEAT. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid is up next.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the clear and present danger that has not subsided since the MAGA insurrection. Today, the acting chief of the Capitol Police, Yogananda Pittman, had a frankly terrifying warning about the threat posed by the right-wing extremist inflamed by the disgraced former president`s lies about the election, who then laid siege on the Capitol on January 6th.


YOGANANDA PITTMAN, ACTING CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: We know that members of the militia groups that were present on January 6th have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible with a direct nexus to the state of the union, which we know that date has not been identified.


REID: In a House hearing on security failures during the riot, Chief Pittman said that that very threat is the reason security remains elevated around the Capitol nearly two months later. She told lawmakers that Capitol Police didn`t ignore intelligence about the risk of violence but says the intelligence that had been gathered offered no credible threat about the size of the riot.

She was also asked about an FBI report sent to the Capitol Police the night before or hell broke loose, which warned of war at the Capitol on January 6th and noted, quote, an online threat discussed specific calls for violence stating, be ready to fight, Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in and blood from their BLM, meaning Black Lives Matter, and Antifa slave soldiers being spilled, get violent, unquote. Chief Pittman acknowledged the police did receive that assessment but, incredibly, it wasn`t forwarded up the chain.


PITTMAN: It was shared with task force agents that are embedded from Capitol Police with the FBI. They, in turn, sent that email that they received to a lieutenant within the protective and intelligence operation side of the House. That information was not then forwarded any further up the chain. So that is a lesson learned for U.S. Capitol Police.


REID: Meanwhile, we learn new details about the scope of the attack. An estimated 10,000 attendees of the rally leading to the siege descended on the Capitol grounds and about 800 made their way into the building. That`s all the reason -- all the more reason why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing forward with a 9/11-style commission into the insurrection.

And true to form, the two top Republicans in Congress who stood by the disgraced former president`s big lie leading up to the attack on the take Capitol, even though they both have acknowledge who was responsible for it, are trying to obstruct that full accounting saying it`s unfair to Republicans.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): It seems most of this is politically driven and it seems like she is setting up a system to fail.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Speaker Pelosi started by proposing a commission that would be partisan by design.

An inquiry with a hardwired partisan slant would never be legitimate in the eyes of the American people.


REID: Before retreating into his shell, Mitch McConnell said the commission should also look at violent extremism from the left, which is about as deranged as Wisconsin Republican Senator Moscow Ron Johnson pushing a conspiracy theory earlier this week that fake Trump supporters are behind the riot and that real Trump supporters were too overweighed and too busy carrying their grand kids with them to the capitol that possibly be the culprits.

Speaker Pelosi said today that she was disappointed in the Senate minority leader.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I had the impression that he wanted to have a January 6th, similar to 9/11 commission.

It seemed only spoke that he was taken a page out of the book of Senator Johnson.


REID: Meanwhile, while Republicans are desperately trying to move on from the terror of January 6th and the in the lingering threat of domestic white nationalist terrorism, the Biden administration is tackling it head on. In an op-ed in The Washington Post, a Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wrote, for several years, the United States has been suffering an upsurge in domestic violent extremism. The horror of seeing the U.S. Capitol, one of the pillars of our democracy attacked on January 6th was a brutal example of our suffering and it compels us all to action, emphasis on all.

Joining me now is Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado, a member of the Judiciary Committee and an impeachment manager of the recent trial, Elizabeth Neumann, former Assistant Secretary for Threat Prevention and Security Policy in the Department of Homeland Security, and Michael Steele, former Chair of the Republican National Committee. Thank you all for being here.

And, Congressman Neguse, I want to start with you. You know, if the leaders of the Republican House and Senate, the Republican caucuses in the House and Senate believe that the -- that having a 9/11 commission would be unfair to Republicans, that implies that they either understand that Republicans were involved or complicit and that they understand if you unfold all that happened, it will implicate Republicans.

I point you to one of your colleagues in air quotes since she`s just a troll most of the time, Marjorie Taylor Greene, the QAnon supporter, one of her friends has now refuted her claims and other claims by Republican that it was Antifa that was really to blame for the siege. He was on tape saying it was us. It was totally us, I was there I was part of it.

Do you think that what is concerning Republicans in either chamber is that they`ll get caught out if there was a 9/11-style commission?

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): It`s good to be with you, Joy. I`m not going to speak for the Republicans. I`ll just simply say it`s confounding. I don`t understand their opposition to the reasonable proposal that the speaker has made in terms of having the blue ribbon commission, particularly after the very startling testimony that we heard today from the acting chief, which you played in part.

I would hope that every member of Congress would want to have a commission take an objective look at fact and ensure that we`re taking appropriate security precautions here at the Capitol complex given what the acting police chief testified to today. But as I said, I don`t know that I`m getting get into the business of trying to explain the rationale of the colleague you mentioned or any of the others.

REID: You know, I will allow them to explain themselves. So, this is -- I`m jumping up bit from my producers. This is Mitch McConnell. This is what Mitch McConnell said in response to your, sir, in your fellow impeachment managers case. Here was Mitch McConnell`s conclusion after he voted to acquit the former president. Here he is.


MCCONNELL: There`s no question, none. That President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.


REID: Same question then to you, Elizabeth Neumann. You are in the business of dealing with homeland security when you were in the former administration. If you were investigating this case on a commission, a 9/11-style commission, wouldn`t you have to look at the former president who Mitch McConnell himself blamed for the attack and look at other Republicans who were involved in inciting that riot?

ELIZABETH NEUMANN, FORMER DHS ASSISTANT SECRETARY: I`m a staunch believer in a fully bipartisan objective review of what all of the factors that led to January 6th, but I actually think we need to go broader and I`ve been calling for there to be a 9/11-like commission for over a year. And I testified before Congress a year ago this week and said the federal government does not have the tools that we need to be able to go after this threat. It is very difficult for us to do this in the executive branch or the legislative branch. It`s highly political to look into what kind of tools we might need to best address the threat.

And I warned them that we were on the precipice of some event that ended up manifesting as January 6th. And here we are on the other side, sadly now needing to investigate what actually happened on January 6th, which is very important. But if we don`t go back and look at the broader trends, the disinformation, which Donald Trump absolutely took advantage of, that he did not create, if we don`t look at the rise of violent white supremacy that`s been happening for a decade, if we don`t look at the problem of militias that been happening well outside of January 6th, then we`re going to miss the point. So we need to have a broad look at all of those factors in order to get to the right recommendations of what we need to do as a government and a society to combat the threat.

Now, I`ll just say one other thing with regards to Mitch McConnell suggestion that we need to look at all violent extremism. I say the Democrats should take him up on that, because the facts are going to bear out that the threat is coming from what we call violent right-wing extremism. It`s not coming from the left. But we should --

REID: Yes.

NEUMANN: In the name of creating that bipartisan feel, if that`s what the right wants to look at, let that be part of the scope.

REID: Yes, bring it. I challenge them to find 1,000 Antifa since apparently, they think they`re living under every one`s bed.

You know, let me play it, because the other issue is, Michael, that if there was an honest and thorough going accounting of what brought us here, there would be a requirement to look into what amounts to parts of the right-wing base, of the Republican voting base. Because the people who are a part of that extremist movement, whether they actually vote or not, they want and tend to support Republican and conservative government, and isn`t that the issue?

Let me play another sound of Mitch McConnell. This is Mitch McConnell after he said that before, that dude was responsible, Donald Trump did it, here was him tonight on Fox, Mitch McConnell.


REPORTER: If the president was the party`s nominee, would you support him?

MCCONNELL: The nominee of the party, absolutely.


REID: Absolutely. Because at the end of the day, Michael, they are worried they need those people to vote for them, right?


REID: They worry they need the extremist, the white supremacists and the neo-Nazis to vote for them.

STEELE: They do. And that it encapsulate that very point, that encapsulate the absolute fear they have that you know, 25, 30 percent of the base is just going to walk away from them, primary them, scream at them, yell at them, and so, yes.

So, he says that it was this bad behavior that brought about the insurrection on January 6th. But you know what, if he`s the nominee of our party, he`s my man. I`m going to be with him 100 percent.

Look, I cannot agree more with Elizabeth. I wish to heaven someone would listen to what she is saying because she`s absolutely right. This is not something that just happened on January 6th. This is something that has been in making for quite some time.

And so, the Democrats are strategic, they will call the bluff of the Republicans and say, all right, you think everything is political, you think everything is partisan? What do you want to do? We`ll do that. We will include BLM. We will include Antifa. We will include everybody. Every -- we will look at every protest that has taken place over the last five, ten years. Because, Elizabeth is right, the facts will bear out truth. And that truth is what a lot of these folks are stoking this stuff don`t want revealed.

That Marjorie Taylor Greenes and the Boeberts and all of that crazy ilk, they grift off of that lie. That big lie is how they are where they are. And so, let`s expose it. And, hopefully, in that exposure, they are summarily removed from the body politic, as they should be, and maybe some of these Republicans will see, oh, gee, I guess the American people are right, we got a problem, meaning us Republicans.

REID: Oh, a 100 percent. I mean, I double dare them. Put Black Lives Matter in there. Because we reported on this very show about all of the incidents where Black Lives Matter would hold march. And Black Lives Matter don`t come arm to marches. They come in and do a march. And then the sun goes down and people who are not Black Lives Matter, who Black Lives Matter are filming, are breaking windows and starting fires because they want to implicate Black Lives Matter to create talking point for the people they support, politically. It`s happened so many times.

We`ll give them tape. If they have a 9/11 commission, THE REIDOUT will send them some of our reports, because we report on this. We double dare you. Black Lives Matter has been a movement about stopping police violence. You want to make them responsible for that Capitol riot? Okay, they were wearing flying Trump flags. Good luck. Do it.


REID: Congressman, the threat to the inaugural, the threat to the inaugural, the threat of the potential March 4th, you know, we`re hearing all of this sort of swirling around, are you confident that the Capitol Police right now are prepared in terms of their security protocols to defend the Capitol and protect the Capitol for the inaugural and for whatever might happen in March?

NEGUSE: Well, let me -- I just want to say this first, Joy. With respect to domestic terrorism, I think there`s consensus in the Congress it`s a serious and lethal threat to our country and that we have to do more to stop it. The Judiciary Committee is taking that issue up. And I also think that Judge Garland, as our next Attorney General, he made clear in his confirmation hearings that this will be a priority of his.

With respect to the security concern --

REID: But is it a consensus, Sir? I`m sorry, I don`t mean to interrupt you, sir. But you`re saying it`s a consensus, is it a consensus across the party?

NEGUSE: Consensus across the Democratic Caucus, I should clarify.

REID: Okay, in the Democratic Caucus.

NEGUSE: It`s a consensus, with respect to the chairwoman to have Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Sheila Jackson Lee, consensus in many in the view of the Congressional Black Caucus, I think there is consensus there. Obviously, we`re going to have to do more work to convince some of our other colleagues.

In terms of security concern, I would just say today`s hearing in the Appropriations Committee, I thought, provided a better understanding of the U.S. Capitol Police`s current needs and resources. And, so obviously, we`re going to have to take some significant and substantive steps, I think, in the coming days and weeks to you know better support our rank and file officers during this very tumultuous time.

So, I defer that Tim Ryan, who you know, as the Chairman of that committee and I think he`s going to provide the broader converse with some recommendation on that front.

REID: Let me take a quite a little bit of a turn. Let`s talk a little bit about -- because we are lucky enough to have you, Ms. Neumann, on the Homeland Security front, in terms of immigration. There has been an attended rebrand of probably the most unrebrandable figure in American political history, Stephen Miller, who is now back out there sort of trying, I guess, to make himself seem less creepy and give interviews.

But you know, there is reporting that he`s trying to sort of wage war against the current president, against President Biden`s immigration policy by trying to wrap the former president around Biden`s policy to try to make it look like he`s continuing them and to try to flip the sort of storyline on him. Far be it from us to brace yourselves for this. This was Stephen Miller. He was on Fox News. And here he was trying to call the current -- the current president`s policies inhumane.


STEPHEN MILLER, TRUMP FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR: What we are seeing here is the cruelty and inhumanity of Joe Biden`s immigration policies. He came into office and announced that there`s an open door and that young people who come into this country illegally are going to be resettled instead of returned. He is forcing thousands of young children into the arms of smugglers, into the arms of traffickers, into the arms of coyotes.

These young illegal immigrants are being put in harm`s way all because of a policy choice Joe Biden made to restore catch and release. That is cruel. That is inhumane.


REID: That dude will never not be creepy. The Washington Post`s Greg Sargent reports that what he`s doing, Miller, is that he`s actually behind the scenes calling on officials to collect internal information for future lawsuits, that he is calling on publicly law enforcement agents to defy President Biden`s policy and running a propaganda war to manufacture the impression that Biden`s agenda is already a catastrophe. He`s essentially waging war, because he wants to restore the anti-brown, anti-black immigration policies that he has snuggled up to since college. What do you make of that aspect that we`re looking at right now?

NEUMANN: Yes, I`m not surprised. I mean, it sounds exactly like the kind of conniving that Stephen does. And what -- the thing that makes me laugh about it though is that he singlehandedly destroyed one of the best opportunities for immigration reform in early 2018, like the deal had been done. Everybody was on board and it was him, it was him that blew it up.

And it has so ruined the relationships with members of Congress and the Department of Homeland Security and everybody in the administration that basically it was like we`re not working with you guys. You guys can`t seem to get your act together and make an agreement that you can stick with.

And the idea that its Stephen back on the Hill with the very people that really loathed him, they don`t like him. And I`m not going deny that there are probably a handful of very, very Trumpian to their core members of Congress that lap up any attention Stephen gives them. But that by in large, the Republicans that just hold their nose and tolerate Trump, they really do not like Stephen.

So, if you were trying to send your ambassador to the Hill to try to make sure that your agenda is preserved, I don`t know that Stephen is the best person to do that. And I mean I could go on. Like he`s --

REID: Not P.R. guy. He`s weird

NEUMANN: He`s not making a compelling argument here. Yes.

REID: Yes. Very quickly, you know, before -- because I do -- I have one final question for the Congressman. But, Michael, you and I have talked about this before. The Republican Party, as assuming it can survive forever, as this can all-white party with the one or two sprinkles of people of color in it. That numerically is just not true.


REID: What is the point of sending that guy back out to further alienate anyone under age 40 who is looking at the Republican Party as a racist party that embraces neo-Nazism and embraces fascism, why send that guy back out?

STEELE: Well, you still see the influences of sort of the Trump-esque kind of environment that`s been created, number two. Number two, there`s also the set up play for 2022 to lay down the tracks as early as possible, to categorize and box in the Biden administration around this notion that now he`s opened up the borders and we`re overrun by these, as you heard him used the term, illegal immigrants and.

And so to Elizabeth`s point, you`ve got to understand, while, yes, there`s the congressional play that is why would you do that, because they don`t like you, they don`t give a rat`s patootie about that. That`s not the bottom-line play. The bottom-line play is the broader messaging that they`re beginning to put in plays to set the Democrats back on the heels on this issue on immigration, guess where, with white suburban women.

REID: Yes.

STEELE: So, this -- this play is going to be one that you got to watch evolve over time.

REID: Yes.

Unfortunately, we are out of time.

Congressman Neguse, just very quickly, yes-or-no question, is the $15 an hour going to pass?

NEGUSE: I think so, Joy. I think so.

REID: Yes. Excellent.

Congressman Joe Neguse, Elizabeth Neumann, Michael Steele, thank you all very much.

Coming up on THE REIDOUT: The report on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi won`t just implicate the Saudi crown prince. It will also help expose the thoroughly corrupt Trump/Kushner/Mnuchin relationships in that part of the world.

Plus: Ted "Cancun" Cruz is very concerned tonight, not about providing COVID relief or about the freezing constituents he abandoned. No, no, he and other Republicans are concerned about Mr. Potato Head, mm-hmm, yes, the kids` toy, which is dropping the Mister from its brand name.

Oh, Ted, despite your uncanny resemblance to the Potato Head and your bigotry about gender identity, you, sir, are still not the absolute worst, but we know you will keep trying.

The big reveal on who out-worsted Cancun Cruz tonight is coming up.

And be sure to join us tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern for a special edition of THE REIDOUT on the racial disparities in the COVID crisis.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: The Biden administration is planning to release an intelligence report that concludes that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directly approved the killing of Jamal Khashoggi back in 2018.

The journalist for "The Washington Post," who had openly criticized the Saudi Arabian government, was lured to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and murdered by a team of intelligence operatives with close ties to the crown prince.

The Saudi government originally denied the murder and then claimed it was an accident, an accident apparently involving a bone saw.

We have known that the crown prince was directly responsible for Khashoggi`s murder for more than two years now. But the release of the report marks a big shift in policy. Until recently, we had a president, one very focused on the money Saudi Arabia spent on U.S. weapons, who refused to openly acknowledged MBS` involvement.

Instead of speaking out against this blatant human rights violation against an American resident, our former president released a statement titled "Standing With Saudi Arabia," where he noted that -- quote -- "The world is a very dangerous place," and concluding that: "It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event. Maybe he did and maybe he didn`t."

Candidate Biden had a very different take.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would make it very clear we were not going to, in fact, sell more weapons to them. We were going to, in fact, make them pay the price and make them, in fact, the pariah that they are.


REID: Late today, the White House announced that President Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia`s king, bin Salman`s father. The readout of the call does not explicitly mentioned Khashoggi, but said that Biden "affirmed the importance of the United States -- that the United States placed on universal human rights and the rule of law."

I`m joined now by Rula Jebreal, visiting professor at the University of Miami, and Richard Engel, NBC News chief foreign correspondent.

Richard, I will ask you first, what will we learn in this report, to your knowledge and your reporting, that is new? Will we learn anything new here?

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we haven`t seen the reports, so there could very well be new information.

But I think the new fact is that it is being released at all. There was considerable reporting at the time and there were a lot of people in the intelligence community about two years ago, when Khashoggi was killed, and there were a lot of leaks, and there were a lot of -- there was quite a bit of detail how the U.S. was certainly convinced, at a high degree of certainty, that the Saudis were behind the murder, because, if you remember, initially, the Saudis said they had nothing to do with it.

They didn`t know what happened, that this was just some sort of mysterious disappearance, that this well-known columnist for "The Washington Post," walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and never left.

And the initial response was to shrug their shoulders. So, we learned quite a bit at the time how the U.S. was very, very convinced that the Saudis were behind it and that MBS had to have at least some knowledge.

But now to see it come out in this way, very early, one of the first major foreign policy moves from President Biden, it is -- I think that is the significance. But we will see what is in the report. But the timing may be more revealing than the -- than the details itself.

REID: And, Rula, let me play for you what the former president said when he was asked specifically about the murder of this person who was an American resident. He lived in the United States. He was a columnist at "The Washington Post."

Here`s what he said when he was asked about that murder.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They spend $400 billion to $450 billion over a period of time, all money, all jobs, buying equipment.

CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": That`s the price? As long as they keep buying, you will overlook some of this behavior?

TRUMP: No. No. But I`m not like a fool that says, we don`t want to do business with them, Chuck.

TODD: Yes, all right.

TRUMP: Take their money. Take their money, Chuck.


REID: He later boasted that he saved his A and said: Well, he said he didn`t do it. So, he said he didn`t do it. So, that was good enough for me.

Money was always behind this, right? Money was always behind the indifference of the previous administration.

RULA JEBREAL, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI: Yes, not only arms sales.

The truth is, when we saw, January 6, the insurrection, these white supremacists trying to over throw an American democracy and install a dictator, guess what? Dictators around the world, when Donald Trump was elected, tried to buy him off.

Immediately, if you remember, Joy, in December 2018 -- apologies -- `15, at Mar-a-Lago, 20 days before his inauguration, Trump stood in front of the cameras and he said: Well, I had a great offer from an Emirati businessman. His name is Sajwani. He offered to bribe me basically. He offered $20 billion, and I had to decline.

That message was heard from dictators around the Middle East, who start basically understanding that Trump was for sale, that America was for sale. Immediately, the first trip overseas was to Saudi Arabia. Then we start seeing every official, from Kushner, to Pompeo, to Mnuchin, going back and forth with Saudi Arabia.

Then we had every policy regarding the Middle East that basically favored the Saudis and the Emiratis. And we know that there are business deals, personal business deal -- basically, Donald Trump blurred the line between his business interests and America`s policy.

And Jamal Khashoggi is the peak. It`s basically the -- when we saw his killing, we realized immediately, and I hope in the report will come out, that the brother of Mohammed bin Salman, Khalid Bin Salman, at the time was ambassador, he assured Jamal Khashoggi that he could go to the embassy, and he would be safe.

Those calls probably are heard by our intelligence. The fact that Donald Trump understood immediately that there was huge involvement, not only by MBS, but the whole royal family, who looked at Donald Trump as America`s ruling family. And they then dealt him as if he is an American dictator.

REID: It`s -- and, Richard, when you think about it, you also -- I think about the close buddy-buddy relationship between Jared Kushner and MBS. They`re WhatsApping.

I wonder if we might see some WhatsApp conversations from Jared Kushner in this report, because he had a very weirdly friendly relationship. I mean, there was the time he suddenly disappears into the Middle East, and the -- he had issues with needing a big loan.

And next thing you know, Qatar is cut off. One of our friends in the region is suddenly our enemy. I wonder if we might anticipate learning more about his involvement in whatever was going on in that relationship.

ENGEL: Well, I think that will be very interesting to see. Will this investigation, what is revealed go that far?

Will it focus on attempt at a cover-up, for lack of a better word, why President Trump turned a blind eye? Will that be part of this? It doesn`t necessarily have to be.

If they just want to talk about Saudi Arabia and they want to talk about what Saudi Arabia did and what information they had and what intercepts and who on MBS` -- who in MBS` inner circle was in contact with the team of hit men who had the bone saw in Istanbul, some speculation about what may have happened to Khashoggi`s remains, because they still have never been found, that`s one thing.

But if they also then focus on the Trump administration, what the Trump administration knew, what the Trump administration did with this intelligence, correspondences between Jared Kushner and MBS, I would actually be quite surprised if it went into that level of detail, because it would be a much more domestically focused report.

REID: Yes.

ENGEL: But we will see. That would be a different level of report than I think that I`m expecting.

REID: Yes.

And before I go back -- I have another question for Rula.

But, before I go back, I just want to let everyone know that, tonight, at President Biden`s direction, U.S. military forces earlier this evening conducted airstrikes against infrastructure utilized by Iranian-backed militant groups in Eastern Syria. These strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq.

Very quickly, Richard, what do you know about that, if anything?

ENGEL: Not very much about the specific strike.

But there had been -- there has been an escalation of attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq. There was recently a major rocket attack in Irbil. And there had been pressure on the Biden administration to respond, pressure from the military to respond militarily.

And this administration, like with putting out this report, is establishing tone.

REID: Yes.

ENGEL: It is trying to set up boundaries. It is sending a message to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia that that kind of behavior, killing journalists, and then expecting to get away with it and expecting impunity, will not continue. So, that`s the message from this report.

And from this military strike on infrastructure is also sending a message to the militias that, just because there`s a new administration, don`t assume that things have changed, and they`re going to continue to keep pressure on those who try to harm U.S. personnel in the war zone.

REID: And I wonder, Rula, that if -- if that new message might include taking a second look at the things that Steve Mnuchin is doing.

He is now setting up business, setting up shop to do a wealth fund in the Middle East, which seems quite inopportune timing-wise. Your thoughts?

JEBREAL: I think it`s crucial.

It`s not only about tone, with all due respect. It`s about substance. The Middle East understand two languages very well, power. They also understand that there must be a punishment, impunity. They understand that there should be accountability.

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi started with also -- when Trump emboldened Mohammed bin Salman, he started sending death squads. They threatened a former FBI agent, Ali Soufan. They sent death squads basically to kidnap people from around the world.

We`re talking about a rogue regime that is willing to do whatever it takes. So, Mohammed bin Salman needs to be personally sanctioned. His assets need to be frozen. But, also, we need -- in order to establish the dignity of the office, we need to see if there were corruption, if Mnuchin, if Kushner, if Trump took money to bend U.S. policy in favor the Saudi crown prince and the Emirati crown prince.

This is about the rule of law. If this administration is serious about the rule of law, then they should send a message: America is not for sale.

REID: There are going to need to be more reports.

Rula Jebreal, Richard Engel, thank you both very much. Really appreciate both of you.

And still ahead: breaking news from Capitol Hill on the fight for the $15 minimum wage. This is a big deal.

But next: Bless their shriveled-up little hearts. These far right Republicans are making it way too easy for us to pick the day`s absolute worst.

Come on, guys. We need a challenge.

That`s next.


REID: Welcome to tonight`s edition of the absolute worst.

Now, you might be tempted to jump all salty and assume its QAnon devotee and feckless Twitter troll Marjorie Taylor Greene, because -- let`s be honest, she`s got a track record for being pretty darn awful.

Well, this week she added to that list. Greene decided the mock the daughter of Congresswoman Marie Newman whose office is just across the hall from hers. Newman whose daughter is transgender posted a video of herself placing a transgender flag next to her door in protest of Greene`s opposition to an LGBTQ rights bill.

In response, Greene who believes that forest fires are caused by space lasers posted a large sign that says, there are two genders, male and female. Trust the science. Here is video she posted.


REID: Yeah, the QAnon congresswoman clearly has too much time on her hands since she`s been booted from her committee assignments and has nothing else to do for her constituents but troll on their behalf. You`re welcome Georgia`s 14th district.

The Equality Act which is the source of the dust up would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. Greene called the bill immoral and disgusting because apparently being a just and equitable society is a bridge too far for the cross fit queen.

Most of you would think that would make her the absolute worst. No, no, no. Nyet, no. But you know who is actual absolute worst, well, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

Senator Paul ostensibly a doctor, appeared to equate gender confirmation surgery with genital mutilation. That alone is pretty awful, but what made this worse is that he did it during the confirmation hearing of Dr. Rachel Levine, President Biden`s nominee for assistant secretary of health. She would become the first openly federal official confirm.

Dr. Levine graciously offered to educate the self-certified eye doctor.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Dr. Levine, you have supported both allowing minors to be given hormone blockers to prevent them from going through puberty, as well as surgical destruction of a minor`s genitalia. Like surgical mutilation, hormonal interruption of puberty can permanently alter and prevent secondary sexual characteristics.

Dr. Levine, do you believe that minors are capable of making such a life- changing decision as changing one`s sex.

DR. RACHEL LEVINE, ASSISTANT HEALTH SECRETARY NOMINEE: Transgender medicine is complex and nuanced field and standards of care that have been developed. But I look forward to working with you and your office and coming to your office and discussing the particulars of the standards of care for transgender medicine.


REID: Don`t let rand operate down. Insulting your fellow human who is trans is a Republican requirement and that makes Rand Paul the absolute worst. On a positive note, the Equality Act passed the House and on its way to the Senate where it will need ten Republican votes to wind up on President Biden`s desk.

And, you know, that means we can have 40-plus Republicans in the running for the absolute worst in a few short weeks.

Stay tuned.


REID: W, we`ve got breaking news tonight. The Senate parliamentarian has denied Senate Democrats` attempts to include a $15 an hour minimum wage in the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. It`s a huge set back for Democrats who were bullish on the prospect it would survivor.

President Biden, a veteran of the Senate, had signaled this could happen and it`s unclear what Democrats will do going forward. The minimum wage is currently in the House version of the bill which is set to hit the floor tomorrow.

Joining me now is Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, and the reverend has an exclusive interview with Vice President Kamala Harris which airs Saturday at 5:00 p.m. on "POLITICS NATION", right here on MSNBC.

First of all, Rev, congratulations on that interview.

And, you know, speaking of Vice President Kamala Harris, in theory, she could just overrule the parliamentarian. It`s happened before in the past, but we had Ron Klain, the chief of the White House chief of staff on last night and he indicated that`s not something that we`re willing to do.

Where do you think this goes from here?

AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, "POLITICSNATION": I have no idea where they will go. I hope we get the $15 minimum wage in. I think it is absurd to think that people can survivor off of $7 an hour or $11 an hour given where we look at the economic reality that people have to feed their families. And we have to remember, people are also coming out of slowly a pandemic where they have extra needs.

So, clearly, I think we should do all we can to maintain the $15 an hour wage. I have no idea where it will go, but I know where I think it should go. Whether or not we deal with it in terms of an overrule or not, we must continue to struggle to give people what they need.

REID: Does this become an issue for activists because Joe Biden has been pretty popular so far, and he`s gotten a lot of support from across the spectrum of the Democratic Party. But we got a statement tonight from Bishop William Barber from the poor people`s campaign. They`ve been really pushing hard on this $15 an hour. He called this our economic Selma, says this is it right now. He said every one of them makes a lot of money based on our tax dollars and they`ve never voted to reduce their own wages.

Does this wind up becoming an issue if team Biden decides no the to fight this?

SHARPTON: It will become an issue and an issue directed at this Congress and this Senate. And it is an issue that we cannot back down.

There is a moral part to this as well as a political, and that is that we must stand for people to be able to feed their children and pay their bills. And whether or not we have to keep fighting beyond what is decided since the parliamentarian has come with this or whether or not we see something immediate, we must not ever -- you know, they used to say when I was growing up in the movement, keep your eye on the prize and hold on. We can never surrender, particularly when we`re talking about people having the ability to feed their families. We just came out of an administration that gave a tax break to billionaires. We can`t tell poor people to understand some protocol and procedures.

REID: You know, we`re seeing a lot of sort of gamesmanship on the Hill, which you have dealt with presidents in trying to get policy through. On this Neera Tanden thing, now the word is that Lisa Murkowski, who undecided on her nomination, is trying to use leverage about where her vote will go to get concessions on things like drilling. We know there are environmental justice issues here when it comes to raking more oil of the ground.

How do you think this is going so far in terms of the way the Biden administration has fared on the Hill, including with this nomination of Neera Tanden?

SHARPTON: Well, I`m happy to see they have not withdrawn the nomination of Neera. I think that it is the absolute blatant contradiction for people to sit in the Senate that had a president that would insult people 20 times a day on Twitter and try to raise some things that they consider distasteful, nowhere near as obscene as the things Trump would say about people, including me.

That didn`t bother them. And they supported him for president of the United States, and many of them supported him for re-election. So by what measure are they going now by someone that might say something that they felt was disagreeing with them or characterize them in a way politically, never with the kind of obscene, hateful language that a president that they supported.

So let me get this right. The president can call people names. A person can call people all kinds of lewd and rude things, and you say he should be president. She could say something that`s disagreeable to your position or your stand, and she can`t be the head of OMB? I think that is a blatant contradiction, and they ought to be called out on that.

REID: And you had this interview with Vice President Harris. Let`s play a clip. You asked her about this issue of the skepticism that remains in parts of the African-American community about the vaccines. Let`s play that clip.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, we must speak truth about the history of medical testing in this country. We must be honest about the fact that people have a righteous skepticism about how it has been used, how it has been tested, and on whom it will be used. There is a righteous skepticism if you know history. But I promise you, and I am telling you, this vaccine is safe, and it will save your life and the lives of your family and your community.


REID: Did you get a sense that the vice president is more concerned about skepticism or about access because it seems like both things are happening to the black community right now?

SHARPTON: She`s very concerned, as all of us are, about access. People have the right to choose whether they want to be vaccinated or not. But you don`t have a choice if you don`t have access. There`s not been equal access, and I think that she`s put a lot of energy behind that.

I also think she`s saying that we have a choice of doing this, or we can infect those that we love because what is the option if you don`t use the vaccines that are there? You have black doctors, Dr. Corbett and others that were part of making the vaccines. I was very skeptical.

But as I started doing my own studies of the conspiracy theories, I looked at the Tuskegee experiment, which was one of the things that was in my mind, and the fact is, Joy, that in the Tuskegee experiment, they would not give the victims, the black people, the vaccine of the time. It wasn`t they injected it. They wouldn`t inject.

REID: That`s right.

SHARPTON: That would help them.

REID: That`s right.

SHARPTON: So how are we going to flip it the other way around? Are we really saying that we`re going to let others, whites, get all of what is available that could save them, and we`re not? So, therefore, the option is that we`re going to play Russian roulette with our health and infecting others, or are we going to use what`s available that people like a black woman like Dr. Corbett was part of this -- are we going to use that to try and affect the health standing in our community?

And I think the vice president articulated that, and many of us are doing it. I went today and brought ten ministers with me, and I was vaccinated for the first time. I`m not going to say I didn`t have hesitance, but I`m going to say that I had to deal with reality.

REID: Well, I am very glad to hear that.

Reverend Al Sharpton, thank you very much. We look forward to watching your interview this weekend on MSNBC on "POLITICSNATION."

Thank you very much.

And we`re now turning really quickly to tonight`s other big breaking news at around 6:00 p.m. eastern. The United States carried out airstrikes against facilities used by Iranian-backed militant groups in Eastern Syria. The strikes were authorized by President Biden in response to recent attacks by American and coalition personnel in Iraq. That is according to a Pentagon statement.

I`m joined now by General Barry McCaffrey, MSNBC military analyst.

Explain to us who the targets of these attacks were, and what is the connection between them and Iran?

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Of course a lot of this, Joy, was triggered by the death of a U.S. contractor and another American service member was wounded, and several allied troops were hit also. They`d been conducting rocket attacks. The last one was up in the north in the Kurdish areas in Irbil. Lately, they also tried to attack again with three rockets the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. I think President Biden, he`s been around a long time. They took diplomatic measures to consult with allies and then took a targeted, limited strike against Shiite militia units in eastern Syria. They`re actually not in Iraq, in Eastern Syria.

I think it was a good move. It`s a signal, back off if you want to reopen negotiations on a nuclear accord, you can`t do it by continuing to act -- to attack U.S. presence in Iraq.

REID: Well, that was actually the next question I had because we do know that the current administration is looking to get back into the Iran nuclear deal, which the previous administration rescinded. How do you think that something like this, these incidents, impact those kind of negotiations, and what kind of a signal do you think the Biden administration is sending here in this early outing?

MCCAFFREY: Well, first of all, we`ve got an incredible team now. The secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, and our new secretary of state and the national security adviser, these people have creme tremendous experience. They`re moderate. They`re cautious. They do want to reopen talks with the Iranians.

The Iranians are playing with us, which surprised me. They want all the sanctions lifted before there are any conversations. I think in short order, you`re going to see -- I`m sure the engagement`s going on in private right now. Reopen the dialogue. The Europeans will be part of the discussions. We`ll re-enter the accord under some conditions.

There are challenges. We need somehow to get at the notion of their delivery systems, the missile systems can threaten not only Israel but also as far up as Europe. So the last accord had flaws. Hopefully the ongoing discussion will try and resolve those concerns.

REID: Because the thing I think people worry about is the idea of sliding back into anything that looks like war in the region. That`s not something we should be thinking about, right, or worried about?

MCCAFFREY: Oh, absolutely. The whole Biden team says we`re changing our notion of endless involvement in small wars. We`re down to a tiny presence in Iraq, around 2,500 troops. A little bit of a risky situation in my view. NATO allies are there with us also.

But I think they`re going to be very careful about it. But on the other hand, you simply can`t tolerate direct attacks on the embassy and on U.S. service members.

REID: Thank you very much, General Barry McCaffrey. Really appreciate you.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.

Tomorrow, we`ll present a special edition of this program, live for the full hour with Dr. Anthony Fauci, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and other medical experts to discuss the racial disparities in America`s COVID response. Don`t miss it.