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Transcript: The ReidOut, 2/8/2021

Guest: Andrew Weissmann, Paul Butler, Elizabeth Neumann, William Barber, Andy Kim, Connie Wun


Second Trump impeachment trial begins tomorrow. Managers will argue Trump`s lies about election incited riot. Trump urges supporters to walk down to the Capitol and fight. Court documents show dozens have been charged in riot cited Trump`s calls to gather at the Capitol. Georgia opens investigation into Trump phone call seeking to overturn election results. Feds have charged more than 200 so far in Capitol riot. Trump is facing impeachment for inciting insurrection. Trump layers argue Senate lacks jurisdiction to try a former president. Trump lawyers are said to argue impeachment of a president after he has left office is unconstitutional. Cheney says, massive criminal investigation will determine whether Trump tried to provoke violence on January 6. Cheney asks whether Trump tweet calling Pence a coward was a premeditated effort to provoke violence.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: If you search for Melber, Snoop, you can find the full, longer interview. You can always find me as well on social media @arimelber on Twitter, I.G. and Facebook. But we will also post a link to the longer interview. So however you like to search, we can help you find it.

Thanks for watching THE BEAT. "THE REIDOUT" starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin tonight`s REIDOUT on the precipice of history. Tomorrow, the U.S. Senate will take up the case of Donald Trump and it represents a crucial test for our republic. That`s because this trial is not just about holding Trump accountable, it`s whether a co-equal branch of government has the ability to resist an attempted coup. If left unchecked, any president who threatens the peaceful transfer of power might eventually succeed.

Tomorrow also marks the fourth impeachment trial of a United States president in more than two centuries of American history. And it speaks volumes that Trump has been the defendant in half of them.

We`re now learning what the next several days will look like with the prosecution and defense teams each receiving up to 16 hours to make their case. But it all begins with a constitutional debate over the trial itself.

We already know that that`s the first line of defense for Trump`s lawyers who claim that the Senate doesn`t even have the authority to try a former president. That argument suffered a significant blow today in the pages of The Wall Street Journal, where a leading conservative scholar wrote, quote, it defies logic.

The New York Times reports that the impeachment managers prosecuting Trump plan to mount a fast-paced, cinematic case showing aimed at rekindling the outrage that lawmakers experienced on January 6th. They`ll also rely heavily on video to show that Trump incited the insurrection.

But the case is not just what he said on that day, the lies fueling that violence were the culmination of a deliberate campaign to hold onto power. In fact, Trump`s big lie began with his baseless claims of a rigged election, which started well before a single vote was even cast.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The Democrats are trying to rig this election because it`s the only way they`re going to win.

This election will be the most rigged election in history.

It will be the greatest rigged election in history. It will be the greatest fraud ever perpetrated.

Just make sure your vote gets can counted, make sure. Because the only way we`re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged. Remember that.

This will be, in my opinion, the most corrupt election in the history of our country, and we cannot let this happen.


REID: Trump even appeared to endorse those who believe in QAnon, as well as the militant right-wing extremist group, the Proud Boys. Both groups would later be at the forefront of the insurrection.


REPORTER: The QAnon movement appears to be getting a lot of followers. Can you talk about what you think about that?

TRUMP: Well, I don`t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate.

Give me a name, give me a name. Who would you like me to condemn?

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: White supremacists and right-wing militia.


TRUMP: Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.


REID: With all of that, the former president had laid the groundwork about what we would see after the election was called for Joe Biden. Despite losing 61 out of the 62 lawsuits he filed to challenge those results in court, Trump continue to lead his supporters to believe that he was the rightful winner.

And not only that, but there were explicit warnings that his lies would have consequences if he didn`t turn down the temperature. Here is what a Georgia elections official said in December.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone is going to get hurt, someone is going to get shot, someone is going to get killed, and it`s not right.


REID: And, by the way, that man was a Republican. Instead the former president turned up the heat. He repeatedly urged his supporters to descend on Washington on the day Congress was counting the electoral votes, promising that it will be wild. And he kept that promise on January 6 when he unleashed a mob of MAGA fanatics on the Capitol.


TRUMP: We will stop the steal. We`re going to have to fight much harder and Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. And if he doesn`t, that will be a sad day for our country.

We`re going to walk down to the Capitol. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated.


REID: Joining me now, Paul Butler, former federal prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, a former senior member of the Mueller probe and former FBI General Counsel, and Elizabeth Neumann, former Assistant Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.

I`m going to right into the middle of my screen there to Andrew Wessmann. The Washington Post talked about this very issue, that Donald Trump didn`t just incite the mob and light the flames on January 6, but he had been building up to it for a long time, really previewing what happened.

And here is what they write in The Washington Post. The evidence in bolster the Democratic case has already emerged in federal criminal cases filed against more than 185 people so far in the aftermath of the insurrection. Court documents show that more than two dozen people charged in the attack specifically cited Trump and his calls to gather that day. Filings in dozens of other cases show how alleged rioters were broadly motivated, and here we go, by his rhetoric about a stolen election.

And, Andrew, that was not rhetoric that began on January 6th. He was saying way before the election, if I lose, it`s rigged. How strong do you feel that the Democrats` case is given all that Donald Trump was basically gifted them with?

ANDREW WEISSMANN, FORMER FBI GENERAL COUNSEL: Well, gifted is the great word because Donald Trump is his own worst enemy at this trial. He is the best evidence. The fact that people say they were inspired by him is useful but it doesn`t get you all the way because you have to show that Donald Trump intended these actions. But I don`t think that`s a heavy lift here because you start with the fact that Donald Trump had the motive to do this, which is to remain in office and then you look to see whether he acted on that motive.

And as you mentioned, Joy, there is, of course, the big lie, and then there is his actions with the Georgia secretary of state. There is the Department of Justice pressuring. There is pressuring of his own vice president. And when none of that worked, he incited the demonstration that turned into a riot on January 6.

And if you really want to know if that`s something that he intended, you look at the then-president`s conduct on January 6. If this was something that he really did not want, then when he saw that this was going on at the Capitol, why didn`t he call in the National Guard? Why wasn`t he immediately on the airwaves saying, this needs to be stopped immediately? He took an oath of office to uphold the law, to fully and faithfully execute the law.

And the issue for the senators is, should this person ever hold federal office again. And the fact that he did not take those actions on January 6 and took all of the actions beforehand really answers that question, which is that he is not fit to be holding the office again in light of this evidence.

REID: And, Paul, if you could just explain just for our audience what incitement actually means under law, because this is not a legal trial. But there is difference between the second half of the argument that Trump was going to make after they tried to say that he can`t even be tried, which is ridiculous. Even his own former lawyers are saying that`s crazy.

But they`re going to try to argue that this is First Amendment, that all the things that Donald Trump was saying, that mail-in voting is fraudulent, that it will be rigged unless he wins, that it`s going to be wild, all of that falls under free speech. What`s the difference between me just saying some stuff that`s inciting and me committing incitement, legally?

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: The First Amendment defense is silly because the Constitution does not protect words that foment violence and trauma (ph), and that`s what incitement means. Free speech does not protect a man who loses an election and then sends a violent mob to attack Congress and illegally install him as president.

And so the House managers will use the dramatic, terrifying videos we`ve all seen to demonstrate that when Trump said, march to the Capitol, the insurrectionists marched to the Capitol. When Trump said, fight, fight, fight, the insurrectionists illegally entered the Capitol and attacked police officers and trespassed private offices and stole classified material. When Trump expressed his disappointment of Vice President Pence, the insurrectionists chanted, hang Mike Pence.

So there`s no question that Trump, in fact, whipped this mob into a violent frenzy. They`ll say he didn`t intend it, as Andrew indicated, but that claim is not supportive by his actions. When the insurrection was going down, Trump didn`t try to stop it. He watched with glee, reportedly, as these thugs wilded out, tried to install not a president but a dictator.

REID: Just to be -- to put a finer point on it, Paul, for one second, if somebody is on a plane and says, we should all blow up this plane, and then somebody lights a match on the plane, would that be incitement and would that be a crime? I mean, you could prosecute someone for that, right, threatening to harm a plane -- to kill people on a plane, right?

BUTLER: Yes. Every day in federal court and state court, people are prosecuted for things like making terroristic threats or culminating violence or trying to encourage other people to commit crime. Trump is no less worthy of being prosecuted for those crimes than anybody else. He is not above the law.

REID: Elizabeth Neumann, because you`re in the Department of Homeland Security. I want to let you listen to Liz Cheney, who is a Republican, who, again, voted to keep Marjorie Taylor Greene in her committee. So she`s a conservative right-wing Republican, Dick Cheney`s daughter. And here she is asking whether or not the tweet that Donald Trump sent out calling Mike Pence a coward was actually a premeditated attempt to provoke violence. Here she is.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): There will be a massive criminal investigation of everything that happened on January 6 and in the days before. People will want to know exactly what the president was doing. They will want to know, for example, whether the tweet that he sent out calling Vice President Mike Pence a coward while the attack was underway, whether that tweet, for example, was a premeditated effort to provoke violence.


REID: I guess I`ll put it this way. If a leader of an armed gang, let`s say the leader of the Proud Boys, for instance, had made a threat against the vice president of the United States, and you were still on the Department of Homeland Security, what would the DHS have done? Would they have treated that as free speech or would they have treated that as a potential threat to the vice president`s life?

ELIZABETH NEUMANN, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Every day, the U.S. Secret Service investigates threats to any of their protectees, including the vice president. They always treat anything like that extremely seriously. It`s just awkward, obviously, at this point. It`s one protectee threatening another protectee through his supporters.

But can I just add, I mean, I appreciate the legal analysis. I`m not a lawyer so it`s always fascinating to hear the arguments about constitutionality, but impeachment is inherently beyond what would stand up in a court of law in terms of constitutionality.

The question here is whether he violated his oath of office, in my mind, and for four years, he cozied up to extremeists, and for at least nine months prior to the election, he laid the groundwork for what eventually became the big lie that eventually laid the trap for him bringing everybody to Washington, D.C. on January 6 and then sending the mob to the Capitol.

He knew exactly what he was doing, and he knows that he has that kind of effect on his followers. He brags about it, right? So this idea that, you know, that they need to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he knew that it was incitement, I kind of want to turn that around and say, except he`s the president of the United States. He`s not a random citizen. He has a responsibility to protect our country from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and he was cozying up to extremists, and, in fact, radicalizing and causing some of his followers to actually become extremists, therefore, becoming enemies of the state.

So, to me, it`s much more about the dereliction of duty and his violation of his oath of office as opposed to a constitutional standard. I mean, I think both tests are met here, but let`s call this what it is. He created more terrorists in our country. So, I`m sorry, you do not get to be president of the United States or hold another election to office in this country if you have actually gone so far as to create more enemies of our country.

REID: And that -- I`m so glad you made that point, Elizabeth. I`m going to stay with you real quick and then go to Andrew on this very point.

There is a reason that people call -- coin the term, y`all Qaeda. It`s kind of funny on one side but on the other side it`s serious, because Donald Trump was behaving more like a Bin Laden, who is inspiring people to commit violence, it just -- as you said, the difference is he`s the president of the United States.

Do you have a concern that if he gets away with that, then a future Donald Trump or even Donald Trump himself, if he runs and wins again, will now have a playbook to remain in office, essentially using thugs that he can rally at any moment to keep himself in office and not leave?

NEUMANN: Absolutely. We need to send a strong signal that this is not what we do in this country, that we follow the rule of law, and that people are held accountable for their actions regardless of whether they`re sitting in an elected office or not. And if we do not take care of that, it will happen again.

If we do take care of it, if there is a conviction in the Senate and/or some sort of criminal action taken by the normal justice system against the president, that helps reduce some of the people that have been radicalized. It does not take away all of the problem that we will be dealing what he has created for the next 10 to 20 years.

REID: And just on that very point, we have Blayne Alexander, a great reporter here in NBC News, sent some information over that is breaking now, that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger`s office has actually opened an investigation into the ex-president`s January 2nd phone call to the secretary attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 elections.

I`ll ask -- just to wrap this up, I`ll start with you, Andrew. Do you have the same concern that if the message that sent by Republicans is that this is all right, why wouldn`t, let`s say, President Josh Hawley get in and use the same technique or Donald Trump himself to stay in office?

WEISSMANN: That is really got to be the focus of the senators, which is not the specific, which is not to think about Trump in and of himself, but to really think about the precedent that is set here for future presidents, because I have exactly the same perspective that Elizabeth does, which is this is such a violation of the oath of office, having somebody served in the government. We understand how serious that is, and how seriously you need to take that.

And if you have the Senate basically saying, you know what, we`re going to let this go, we just want to move on, we`re going to be loyal to the party and not to the country, then the precedent is so dangerous. And you really then are leaving this to the criminal justice system and the senators will not be doing their duty.

REID: Yes. And that brings me to Paul Butler, that is my final question to you here. If a state court were to convict Donald Trump of crimes related to incitement, bring it back sort of where we started, could that be the backup for keeping him from being able to run for office, make him ineligible?

BUTLER: Well, there is no constitutional procedure that if you`re convicted of a state crime, you`re ineligible for office. Hopefully, the political system would respond to that. Because I agree with Andrew, the House managers say that what President Trump was impeached for is the worst thing that a president has ever done in U.S. history. If he is not convicted, we might as well rip the impeachment clause from the Constitution.

REID: Indeed. We will be one corrupt local official being willing to throw out election results away from having a dictator, and that`s the problem. That`s the big stakes here.

Paul Butler, Andrew Weissmann, Elizabeth Neumann, you guys are great. Thank you so much.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, many Republican senators have already decided Trump, indeed, should get a pass for inciting insurrection with one blaming Speaker Pelosi, if you can believe that for the MAGA riot.

Back with more of THE REIDOUT after this.


REID: Before lawyers for the disgraced, twice impeached former President Trump L`orange even laid out their argument for his impeachment defense, the usual Republican suspects in the Senate`s antebellum caucus are already out parroting the same argument about the trial, that it`s nothing more than political theater.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Yes, I think I`m ready to move on. I`m ready to end the impeachment trial, because I think is blatantly unconstitutional.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): So, people want to hold President Trump accountable for language, there has to be a consistent standard. And, to my mind, it`s a partisan farce. It is a farce. It is unconstitutional. But, more than anything, it`s unwise and going to divide the country.


REID: Oh, Rand Paul even tried to argue that the Senate should impeach Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for things he said about the ex-president`s Supreme Court nominees, a deflection only half as ludicrous as Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson`s.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): You have to kind of ask the question, what is this impeachment all about? We now know that 45 Republican senators believe it`s unconstitutional. Is this another diversionary operation? Is this meant to deflect away from potentially what the speaker knew and when she knew it?

I don`t know. But I`m suspicious.


REID: Moscow Ron provided no more evidence to back up his suspicion about Speaker Pelosi, because there is none, than he has about his other crackpot investigations or about why his suspicions often sound like they were scripted in Moscow, where he and seven other Republican senators and a rep spent July 4 in 2018.

But none of that should surprise you. According to Politico, when it comes to the second impeachment trial, Republicans, particularly those nervous about you-know-whose continued stranglehold on the GOP, just don`t want to poke the bear.

Meanwhile, in the House, Wyoming Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney became the latest Republican punished by her party back home, censured over the weekend by the Wyoming GOP for her vote to impeach Orange Julius.

Her House Republican colleagues voted overwhelmingly in a secret ballot to keep Cheney in her leadership position last week. And in an interview on FOX News yesterday, she doubled down on her criticism of the Republicans` toxic ex.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (D-WY): Somebody who has provoked an attack on the United States Capitol to prevent the counting of electoral votes, which resulted in five people dying, who refused to stand up immediately when he was asked and stop the violence, that is a person who does not have a role as a leader of our party going forward.

We should not be embracing the former president.


REID: Joining me now is Jason Johnson, professor of politics and journalism at Morgan State University and Michael Steele, former chairman of the RNC.

Oh, I love this combo.

Michael Steele, Mr. Chairman, Kevin McCarthy is a curious sort of fellow. He once said that he thought, like, Trump worked for Moscow and the Kremlin, and then he flipped over and is like: I worship Trump. I worship him like he is my God.

And now his thing is to run down to Florida and be like, is it OK if I`m still speaker?

It`s like it`s such a strange thing. He now apparently has asked Liz Cheney to apologize for voting to impeach the guy. And she`s like: I`m not apologizing for that


REID: This guy, in what universe does he ever become speaker of the House?

Isn`t Marjorie Greene more likely to be speaker in the future than Kevin McCarthy.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: In this -- yes, in this particular world and universe, that is exactly more likely to happen than Kevin McCarthy -- McCarthy would ever become speaker.

He -- if Kevin McCarthy thinks he`s going to be speaker, he really does not understand his caucus, because that is just not happening.

They don`t want you to be speaker, Kevin.

REID: Michael, he doesn`t understand any -- they don`t understand any caucus. He`s not -- we`re talking Tip O`Neill, Nancy Pelosi.

STEELE: Right.

REID: Kevin McCarthy? Kevin McCarthy has no courage.

He`s like the lion in "The Wiz."


STEELE: Let`s put it this way. When he busts a move to go down to Mar-a- Lago to bend the knee, or something else -- I -- we haven`t figured out what yet. I don`t know what he got out of it.


STEELE: But to go bend the knee, that did not sit well with a lot of Republicans in -- not just in D.C., but in the donor community and around the country. It just didn`t.

They`re tired of Trump, but they`re hoping that the leader and others can - - going back to the analogy of breaking away from Trump, the bear is stalking the neighborhood, what do you do? You don`t hide in your house. At some point, you got to go deal with the bear.

And so they have got to deal with him. And the folks inside and outside the party are looking for a leader to do that or a group of leaders. Right now, the only leader in the party that is clearly prepared to do this is Liz Cheney, God bless.

I`m with you, Liz. If I can -- whatever you need me to do, I`m there, because the reality of it is, it`s going to take that kind of in-your-face leadership, Joy, to push back on this. And it does not exist among the men in the party. It has always existed largely with the women. And, clearly, Liz has shown it.

REID: You know what, Jason? But here`s the thing. Liz Cheney is also in no way likely to ever become speaker, because the thing is, is that the rational actors that Michael Steele just described, if people -- if they were rational actors, they would all line up behind Dick Cheney and just asked the Q people and the Trump people and just be like, you all shut up.

Gaetz, Matt Gaetz, nobody like -- nobody cares about you. They would just literally body them. But they -- I mean, I think back to John Boehner, who was a far smarter seeming guy, even when he was -- was at the bar, than McCarthy is.


REID: When the Tea Party caucus rose up, he shrank back. He let them take over. And now who runs the party? The Tea Party caucus, right?

Don`t we have a problem here that, in general, the idea in the Republican world has just been to fade back and let the bad guys take over?

JOHNSON: The Republicans have become sort of that "Star Trek" Mirror Universe where, like, you have to kill the next leader to take over.


JOHNSON: Like, they don`t seem to have a real process of finding leaders anymore. It`s like it`s just an evil version of McCarthy that replaced the guy.

And let`s be clear, all of these people are conservatives. All of these people could care less about police reform.


REID: Yes.

JOHNSON: All of these people could care less about the environment.

This is literally a Trump issue. So, McCarthy, who at one point was just your regular Republican, has been replaced by the evil mustache McCarthy, who`s decided that his only way of retaining power is to basically do whatever Trump wants him to do and go along with Marjorie Taylor Greene.


JOHNSON: Here`s the problem, though.

And I think it`s not just a problem for American democracy. It`s a problem within the Republican Party. They keep trying to acquiesce to people who don`t want to govern. Marjorie Taylor Greene doesn`t want to govern. Matt Gaetz doesn`t want to govern. They want to make noise, and they want to antagonize, and they want to own the libs.

So, at some point, the Republicans have to figure out, do we want to be a governing party, or do we just want to be a bunch of trolls who make money off the taxpayer? Because, right now, they`re doing more of the latter than they are the former.

STEELE: More than that, real quick...

REID: Well, that`s the issue too, because -- well, yes, please do. Please, Michael.

STEELE: No, I was going to say, more than that. Jason, they want to grift.

This is not -- you`re absolutely right. This is not about governing.

JOHNSON: Yes. Oh, yes.

REID: Yes.

STEELE: It`s about grifting.

REID: That`s right.

STEELE: Marjorie Taylor Greene in the midst of all of this, what is she doing? She`s sending out fund-raising letters and bragging about how much money she`s raising.

And now that she`s got more time on her hands...

JOHNSON: Yes, hand over fist.

STEELE: ... what do you think she`s going to do?

REID: Yes.

STEELE: What is Matt Gaetz doing?

REID: Yes.

STEELE: This is not -- this is one of the issues that goes back for some time inside the party with a lot of rank-and-file Republicans about how this sort of money classes, money grab has driven a lot of good politicians away from policy to your point, Jason...


STEELE: ... and into some -- into a much darker place.

REID: OK, let me ask you real quick, to stay with you just for a second, Michael Steele, because you used to be in charge of this process, where you have to try to raise money.

STEELE: Right.

REID: There are certain kinds of donors who likes certain kinds of policies, right? There`s a finite set of money that`s out there for politics.

But, as you said, you now have "The Washington Post" Republicans -- writing that Republicans are actually worried that this might cause problems in 2022, because your sort of regular order donor is like, I`m not trying to donate to the party of QAnon. Bye.

STEELE: Right.

REID: And then you have got the -- this new base of money that she can raise directly from the QAnon people.

And so they`re getting she can get around the donors. What would you do? If you were chairman of the party right now, what would you even do about all of this? Could you even raise money in this environment?


STEELE: Well, it`s a very difficult environment, particularly given that you have a greater sensitivity among the major donors, and particularly in the corporate community, who are now looking at the backlash to their contributions to certain Republicans, particularly those QAnon-aligned, et cetera.

So, the whole playing field is changing right before their eyes. And that`s one of the big concerns for the Republican Congressional Committee, the Senatorial Committee, and the RNC, made more difficult...

REID: Yes.

STEELE: ... because still has his fingers in a lot of those donor holes, and that`s a problem as well.

REID: Yes. Yes. It`s a problem.

Very quickly. We`re out of time, Jason Johnson. My producers are going to kill me.

But do Democrats then -- is the smart move, Mr. Political Scientist, for Democrats to just run all their ads on QAnon in 2022 and say, this person is QAnon, that person, they`re all associated with QAnon, you want QAnon out vote, for the Democrat?

JOHNSON: Joy, by next summer, I can all but guarantee, seeing the lack of effort that`s been put into capturing a lot of these people, there will be more attacks, there will be more violence.

By next summer, it will be impossible to run ads against Republicans without talking about QAnon, without talking about terrorists. And, yes, regular donors, suburban donors don`t want to give them money. And if I`m Home Depot or McDonald`s, the last thing I want to do is give somebody $1,500 for a campaign, when I`m going to be associated with the horn- wearing vegan terrorist who attacked the White House.


JOHNSON: This is going to devastate the Republican Party financially in 2022 as far as raising money for anybody but your absolute kooks from the Georgia 14th.

STEELE: Not good branding.

REID: You`re going to have my cousin Jackie (ph) Reid call me. Don`t give me -- don`t give vegans a bad name. Don`t even go there with the vegans.

They don`t claim him.


REID: Jason Johnson, Michael Steele...

STEELE: Only if they wear horns and running the White House.


REID: They don`t claim him.

Thank you very much, both of you gentlemen. Have a great evening.

Still ahead: Democrats see an opportunity to raise the federal minimum wage and lift many Americans out of policy. Will it finally get done?



PAMELA GARRISON, WEST VIRGINIA POOR PEOPLE`S CAMPAIGN: They call this a rescue package, but yet they want to take the most important part of the rescue out of it.

If you want to get our economy going, then you give our people a decent wage. Don`t take the main part out of a rescue package.


REID: Since 2009, the federal minimum wage has remained stagnant at $7.25 an hour. That means someone working 40 hours a week at minimum wage makes just $15,000 a year before taxes.

For the last nine years, there has been a growing movement to increase the minimum wage to $15. And now the Democrats are on the precipice of achieving that goal as part of Congress` COVID relief bill.

But while it would require some political maneuvering through what`s known as the reconciliation process, allowing Democrats to pass the bill by a simple majority, comments from President Biden are causing concerns, especially among progressives, that this White House is not willing to at least put up a fight to see this through right now.


NORAH O`DONNELL, HOST, "CBS EVENING NEWS": You also want to raise the minimum wage to $15. Is that something you would be willing to negotiate on in order to get Republican support?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, apparently, that`s not going to occur because of the rules of the United States Senate.

O`DONNELL: So, you`re saying the minimum wage won`t be in this...

BIDEN: My guess is, it will not be in it.

But I do think that we should have a minimum wage stand by itself, $15 an hour.


REID: Joining me now is Bishop William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People`s Campaign.

Bishop Barber, happy Moral Monday. Thank you for being here.

Let`s dig into this. The argument is obvious for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour if you`re a worker. On the other end of that argument are some Democrats who worry that it will cost jobs. Let me tell you what the Congressional Budget Office came out.

And they report, the CBO reported that passing the minimum wage at $15 would increase the deficit, that it would lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty, which is a great thing, but that it might -- that it would cost 1.4 million jobs by 2025 because of things like automation, like businesses, like the burger places will just automate their industries and not hire humans.


REID: What is your response to that?

BARBER: Thank you, Joy, for that, because the CBO, there`s some problems with that. First of all, I`m glad they said it would cause -- lift people out of poverty.

And, today, SEIU, Fight for $15, One Fair Wage, and Poor People`s Campaign, and people like Pamela, who you showed, are saying, look, we have to have this now.

Now, what they`re basing that on, though, is a 55-year-old poverty threshold that is far too low. The truth of the matter is, it will lift millions of people out of out of low wages and poverty; 62 million people work for less than a living wage.

Six million workers, tip workers who make $2.10 an hour, plus tips, will be lifted out of that; 45 percent of black people will be impacted, black workers, black workers, poor low-wage workers, and the majority will be white workers from West Virginia and Mississippi.

But here`s the other thing. You have got to add to this not only the raised living wage, but the health care and the infrastructure. We know that, for every $1 increase in the minimum wage, it adds $1.2 to the economy, according to the IPS, Institute for Policy Studies, which then creates jobs and creates billions of dollars into the economy.

So, we like the CBO, but there are economists that are saying that number is based on the old poverty line, and that`s all they`re looking at. They`re not looking at low-wage workers who make less than 15, 62 million of them before COVID and 6 million tip workers.

And, you know, tipping people is a legacy of slavery. The reality is you cannot talk about racial equity. You cannot talk about geographical equity. You cannot talk about gender equity. You cannot talk about women`s equity.

You cannot talk about equity from Alabama to Appalachia unless we this $15 an hour wage now. It has to happen and it will lift the economy from the bottom.

REID: The other, are you concerned at all -- companies like, you know, McDonald`s and Amazon, they`re all about money. They`re not about workers. They haven`t shown much evidence, or Walmart.

Are you concern that companies like Amazon, won`t -- you know, the McDonald`s and the Walmarts of the world will start automating their workforces when they`re told they have to pay people -- which is not a lot of money. $15,000 a year or so, it`s not like that`s a lot of money, but what do you make of that?

BARBER: First of all, there is no evidence of that. Second of all, as we said, when you`re doing all these other things, you`re creating jobs. Thirdly, we have over 800 businesses, for instance, with the tip workers, the restaurant workers who are saying it`s time for this. Businesses are saying it`s time for this.

It will actually benefit business because, again, it will give more money to the workers, and the poor low-wage workers, they don`t hold it. They don`t send their money to the Cayman Islands. They don`t sit in a Swiss bank. They spend it right here in the economy, you know?

So, this is something. But every time we`ve tried to raise the minimum wage, they said the same thing when Franklin Roosevelt tried to raise it. You know what President Roosevelt said? Any business that didn`t want to raise the minimum wage had no business being a business in America.

We need Democrats, the president to hold fast on this, 55 percent of poor- wage workers voted for Biden and Harris, voted for Democrats, and when it comes to reconciliation, here`s a real deal with the law, every time Republicans wanted to cut taxes for the wealthy or cut welfare, they use reconciliation, sometime that they didn`t get the right view from the parliamentarian, they fired the parliamentarian and got them another one.

The truth of the matter is, same people use reconciliation for wrong, we need to see reconciliation use for right. And the essential workers that we promise we would raise their wages to a living wage, to a $15, all during the campaign, they are saying to us, don`t give us a hand clap, protect us, respect us and pay us.

Give us universal health care, do the infrastructure, and all those things together will increase jobs, increase the economy and build America up from the bottom, and that way we build it back better.

REID: And we will find out what they -- what they do. The vice president, by the way, can overrule the parliamentarian. So, we will keep watching this.

BARPHER: Exactly.

REID: Bishop Barber, thank you very much, sir. Always appreciate you being on.

And up next, we`ve seen an alarming increase in violence directed at Asian Americans since the start of the pandemic. You don`t suppose the former president repeatedly calling it, quote, the China virus had anything to do with that, do you?

We`ll be back after this.


REID: Minutes after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, Florida fans flooded the streets and the bars to celebrate the victory, a scene that played out all weekend long.

Watching the scenes outside Raymond James Stadium, you would think we were all vaccinated and the global pandemic is gone. But that is not the reality. So, here in the real world, thousands of Americans continue to die daily. Case caseloads remain high and only 42 million vaccines have been administered.

In Florida, which now has the dubious distinction to be the first state to see 200 cases of a terrifying new COVID variant, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis cares more about keeping the state open for business than about keeping people alive. He`s not alone, though. And the reality is, that we are trapped in this pandemic nightmare in part because many Americans just don`t like being told what to do, even to save their own lives or their loved ones` lives.

So, a lot of Americans are angry. They`re angry about having to wear a mask.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six feet away from you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re harassing me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not harassing you.

You`re coming close to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel threatened. Back off!




REID: They`re angry at being told they have to socially distance and they shouldn`t be out partying in the club or they have to close their bars or restaurants or gyms or change the way they do business.

And under the disgrace of now twice-impeached former president, that anger was fueled and misdirected. Trump refused to wear a mask and flaunted it. He resisted locking down the country the way lots of country leaders did, successfully.

Then, our racist in chief sought to redirect the anger that people were experiencing because of his own weak response to the pandemic on to someone else.


REPORTER: Why do you keep calling this the Chinese virus? There are reports of dozens of incidents of bias against Chinese Americans in this country. Why do you say it`s racist?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: It`s not racist at all, no. It comes from China, that`s why. It comes from China. I want to be accurate.


REID: That language was quickly interpreted and translated into violence against Asian Americans. And that means communities that were already struggling have paid a huge and often overlooked price for that misdirected anger.

And that`s next.


REID: Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen reports over racist attacks targeting members of the Asian-American community. Both the Anti-Defamation League and the website Stop AAPI Hate which had been tracking the incidents since March when the country went into lockdown report thousands of cases of violent or verbal attacks. Some organizers worry that numbers do not accurately reflect the current situation because many are afraid to report the attacks to authorities.

Anti-Asian racism is not new in this country. In the 19th century, similar xenophobic sentiments led to the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, barring immigration based solely on race.

In the first days of his presidency, Joe Biden issued a memorandum publicly condemning this racism and xenophobia and intolerance.

Joining me is Congressman Andy Kim of New Jersey and Connie Wun, co-founder of AAPI Women Lead.

Thank you both for being here.

And I`ll go to you first, I guess, Congressman. How much can we connect the rash of violence against Asian-Americans to the previous president`s rhetoric about the coronavirus?

REP. ANDY KIM (D-NJ): Yeah, there`s no doubt that there`s a connection there and needs to be brought out, something that helps us understand as a community how to move forward from here. Many Asian-Americans across the country, myself included have experienced first hand that type of discrimination and hatred over the last year and it`s something that we see manifested in these horrible videos. They`re just so hard to watch of elderly Asian-Americans pushed -- killed, attacked over the last few days, weeks.

These are the types of things we need to make sure we come together to condemn.

REID: You know, Connie, thank you very much. I think the one I saw that Quest Love was raising up some of these specific cases. There was an elderly man in San Francisco who was killed in an attack. His family saying it was a racist attack. The daughter of a (INAUDIBLE), his daughter told a local news station the father was targeted as an elderly Asian man. She added that she`s received harassment and verbal abuse since the beginning of the pandemic.

In your view, is this tied mainly to that and to this discrimination against Asian Americans thinking, oh, you know, this is where I can direct my anger over COVID or something deeper or more to it that we need to look into?

CONNIE WUN, AAPI WOMEN LEAD, CO-FOUNDER: Thanks for having us on the show.

I do want to say a couple of things. I think the racism -- the racism and xenophobia towards Asian-Americans and Asians has long existed long before the Trump administration. So, I think we need to historize that remember that as a part of the United States kind of long history with white supremacy.

Now, with the Trump administration, that was exacerbated, because of things like you noted the China -- Chinese flu or the China virus, right? That exacerbated the already underlining xenophobia and racism against Asians.

And then what we right now is a condition by which our communities have historically and continued to be invisiblized. You know, the stories about us being -- 12 percent of the Asian Americans and Asians live under poverty, up to 40 percent of our monk (ph) community live under poverty.

Those stories are invisible, neglected and unknown. The fact that so many of our communities, Asian-Americans, Asians are facing immigration deportation, racial profiling, in December of -- December 30, 2020, one of our Chinese-American, 19-year-old boys and sons killed by the police, by Pennsylvania state troopers. Those stories are invisible.

And because of that we end up becoming even more vulnerable to the violence and the rage that you`re talking about, Joy. People are kind of narrowing in their rage on to our communities which they don`t understand are also historically and have been and continue to suffer under racism and white supremacy and xenophobia and poverty.

REID: Yeah, stay with me for a moment, Ms. Wun --

WUN: So, it`s longstanding.

REID: -- because there is -- right. Well, there is this like sort of almost sort of exoticizing the Asian-American community because there are, you know, stuff like "Bling Empire", or, you know, "Crazy Rich Asians", that represent the Asian-American community, and that thought that this is an elite community, a wealthy community, a well-educated community, and this idea that people aren`t hurting.

You`re giving a different narrative, that people are actually hurting. That is not real. Like what`s real is that people are actually hurting and that racialized and racism against Asian-Americans is happening and no one is paying attention.

WUN: Perfect. That`s exactly the case. Every day I`m in Chinatown, where my family is from in Oakland, we walk around seeing Chinese grandmothers and grandfathers, aunties and uncles selling canned foods for a dollar, like for two cans, right? So they`re out here suffering while media is presenting us as if we are crazy rich Asians, that we are apart of the "Bling Empire", that we are these, you know, really well-off communities when that is actually not the case.

A number of Southeast Asian community members continued to be racially profiled, live under poverty and my family, growing up in Oakland, and the Bay Area, we didn`t have those kind of resources that are portrayed on the media. And so, when people come into our neighborhoods assuming that we have that, that makes us extremely vulnerable to violence and stereotypes about us.

REID: That`s a very good point.

So, Congressman Kim, what should we be doing here? Is the Biden administration`s sort of edict that they`re going to address this racism, you know, there`s so much racism they have to try to deal with, can -- is there a legislative solution? Is there -- is the solution cultural? What should we be doing here?

KIM: Look. It`s not a problem that you can legislate away. There`s no way you can write some perfect bill or law that`s going to change this. It starts by what you`re doing right now so thank you. You`re raising the visibility of this.

As mentioned by your other guest here, just raising the visibility, having that image, a vide of that elderly man pushed and shoved, have that seared into us. Recognize that that could be our grandfather, our father, our loved one. Recognize that doesn`t -- a problem of the Asian-American community, this is not just for the Asian-American community, this is for all of us.

REID: Yeah.

KIM: So have that visibility, build a coalition to sustain that and recognize that this is all of our problem soon (ph).

REID: Yeah. Indeed. We have to share across the communities and all work together because we are all in this together.

Congressman Andy Kim and Connie Wun, thank you both very much for bringing this issue forward.

That`s tonight`s REIDOUT.