Incivility in the halls of Congress. Representative Beatty says Representative Rogers poked her and said, kiss my a**, when she asked him to put on a mask. Representative Rogers apologizes for telling Representative Beatty to, kiss my a**, my words were not acceptable. GOP House Leader McCarthy runs away from question on RNC calling 1/6 attack legitimate political discourse.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: It`s been quite a news day, from the House subpoenaing Peter Navarro to a lot of developments on COVID. Thanks, as always, for spending time us. We are out of time but you`re in luck. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid starts right now. Hi, Joy.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing, Ari? It`s been a very busy day for you but even though you`re physically going to be allowed to leave the studio now, our folks are going to see you a little bit more of you coming up very; shortly and I think you know why, because you`ve done some pretty interesting interviews lately that we`re going to replay some of. So, cheers on that.
MELBER: Thank you, Joy.
REID: Have a good evening.
All right good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight in the halls of Congress, hallowed, revered, sacred to some, but also historically pretty violent. Back in the bad old days, between 1830 and 1860, members of Congress engaged in at least 80 acts of physical violence, something we know, thanks to historian Joanne Freeman.
In the three decades before the civil war when debates about slavery dominated politics, you pretty much need a body guard and a black belt in something, anything, to survive serving in the Capitol. It was actually pretty wild.
According to the new Republics review of Freeman`s book, congressmen back then, they were all men, quote, routinely threatened each other with violence and often acted on it too. They brawled on the House floor. They faced off in duels. In 1859, an antislavery senator from Massachusetts was beaten unconscious during a caning by a pro-slavery South Carolinian, a caning.
So, fast forward to 2022, and before you can say, well, canes aren`t a thing anymore, keep in mind that metal detectors are. And that not too long ago, armed rioters overtook these hallowed halls to demand that legislators be lynched. They even brought a noose.
Congress, as we now know, has never really been the safest place to work. Altercations are growing as the Republican Party continues to embrace thuggy behavior as its guiding light. We saw another heated exchange this week between Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio and Congressman Hal Rogers of Kentucky. Beatty, who is chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, ran into Rogers outside of her Congressional office. Rogers was not wearing a mask when they entered an elevator. Beatty told The Associated Press, she asked Rogers to put on his mask, to which he grudgingly agreed.
But then when the two lawmakers crossed paths again entering a train in the Capitol complex the interaction turned hostile. Beatty said she asked Rogers again to put his mask on, to which Rogers, quote, poked me in the middle of my back and said, get on the train. Beatty responded, don`t you ever touch me. According to Beatty, Rogers replied, kiss my behind, he didn`t say behind.
In a video taken by her office, Beatty can be heard confronting Rogers on the train. Now, you can`t see them right away but just take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOYCE BEATTY (D-OH): I`m a member of Congress like you and I`m a woman. You will not disrespect me. You picked the wrong woman for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now, in case you couldn`t hear that very well, that was Congresswoman Beatty saying to Rogers, I`m a member of Congress like you and I`m a woman. You will not disrespect me. You picked the wrong woman for that.
Less than two hours after all 56 members of the Congressional Black Caucus stood on the steps of the House and demanded an apology, Congressman Hal Rogers did just that. He tweeted this afternoon, I met with Representative Beatty to personally apologize. My words were not acceptable and I expressed my regret to her, first and foremost.
And joining me now is Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
And, Congresswoman, thank you so much for being here. I have to say that when I saw that video, when my producers sent it to me, I thought to myself, that`s every black mom, every black aunty, every black mother of the church you inhabited and embodied that in that moment. He should have known when he was getting into when he tried you. He did try you. He did apologize.
Talk a little bit more about the engagement between the two of you. Did he call you? Was it, in your view, connected to the protest, really, on your behalf by the entire CBC?
BEATTY: Well, first of all, thank you, Joy, for inviting me here. Yes, I think it was a culmination of a lot of things that, one, I had said to him face-to-face I wanted an apology. I did go to our sergeant at arms and all of our leadership team and told them that I was not going to stand for this. He was going to come to the House floor and apologize to me. And later, he had told several of his members that, you know, I messed up. And he then came to the floor without a mask to tell me that he was apologizing and I said to the leadership, I`m not accepting this.
The Congressional Black Caucus was very angry, and as you mentioned, they went out on the Capitol steps and demanded an apology.
So then I told him, for, as Speaker Pelosi has said many times, if you insult a high-profile, then you have to give a high-profile apology. And that`s when he went to the social media and to the networks and apologized.
I`ve accepted the public apology because there`s so much work for me to move on. And I`m a leader. I`m not someone like what we`re dealing with in this hyper partisan environment of not really having real leadership on the other side of the aisle.
REID: Yes. And, you know, I went into a deep dive today just on the history of violence even on the floor of Congress. I mean, this is not something that`s alien to the body but it does definitely feel like it`s gotten uglier in recent years. I mean we had AOC, you know called the B word by a fellow member of Congress. We`ve had Marjorie Taylor Greene scream at other members, sort of menace other members. It`s become a thing that people are doing.
Do you think it`s materially different in Congress now? And do you think it has something to do with the politics in that other party?
BEATTY: Oh, I think definitely. It`s different from when I first got there, which wasn`t that long ago. I think now, after the last presidential administration, people follow their leadership. You saw what happened on January the 6th. I mean, that`s unbelievable when we look back at history that we lived through that, it`s unthinkable.
And that`s why it`s important for us to stand up and to demand civility and to respect the decorum of the House floor or the Congress. And it`s unacceptable and it`s also a form of being bullied. Everyone who knows me, I`m not going to be bullied. And the Congressional Black Caucus, I`ve never been more proud of them and our Democratic leadership.
REID: And, you know, the other thing is that, you know, we`re in an age now where you have members of Congress who are refusing to go through the MAGs. You know, after you had the January 6th insurrection, which every single member of Congress, United States Senate were threatened, by people who were chanting hang Mike Pence, that were threatening to lynch members of Congress, who are hunting Speaker Pelosi.
I feel like after that you would think that there would be some agreement across the party lines that something material had to change, including in the rhetoric. It doesn`t feel like even January 6th has changed anything. Am I wrong there?
BEATTY: No, I think you`re absolutely correct. And I think a lot of that is because the past president still tries to use his influence with some of those members. Keep in mind, he didn`t think there was anything wrong with January the 6th, did not think that the election of President Biden should be certified, and there`s a big divide in the party, the Republican Party. We saw that just most recently with McConnell and Pence against what the current minority leader is saying. So, they have a lot of issues in the party. They`re very divided.
REID: Yes. Let me -- you speak of the minority leader, Kevin McCarthy. I want to show him. Because, you know, a lot of people politically would say the RNC, the Republican National Committee, made a huge tactical error by going on the record and calling the January 6th insurrection, this attempt to overthrow a legitimate election, calling it legitimate political discourse.
Reporters then started trying to ask Kevin McCarthy if he agreed with that. Here was one instance of him attempting to avoid answering that question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Sir, can I ask you about the RNC --
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): You know what, make an appointment with my office and come by another time, okay? It`s not good -- it`s not good to do interviews.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Do you feel like if he becomes speaker, he has the strength to alter the direction of the party or would even want to?
BEATTY: I don`t think he has the leadership strength or skills and that`s indicative of his behavior for last two years, four years. There`s no sign of leadership. He has been as responsible for not passing the Voting Rights Act, not wanting to certify the election that we all know that President Joe Biden won that election.
When you look to how he controls his members, I mean, come on, they voted against for the most part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. This shows a lack of leadership when in some of those very districts of his members, they`re out with mayors and governors touting the bipartisan infrastructure and it was their roads and bridges like ours that needs fixing. They have children who go to bed hungry. They have children who need a better education but he doesn`t lead.
And it`s unthinkable that he would think he could be speaker and follow in the footsteps of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
REID: And, you know, you talk about Voting Rights Act. I mean, the Brennan Center is out with numbers are horrific that are just horrific, just about the extent and the aggression that you`re seeing across this country against the right to vote, that targets people of color and young people, and lots of different people, but it`s the anti-blackness that`s kind of right at the top of it.
Talk a little bit about what can be done at that point. You had Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema stand in a way of being able to pass a fix, a federal fix. Are you concerned, including in your home state of Ohio, that this election will be impeded by the prevention of people being able to actually cast a ballot?
BEATTY: Oh, I`m very nervous about what`s happening. As we look at redistricting, as we look at some of the opinions coming down from our highest court, I think we have to do a better job of educating and making our citizens and constituents aware so they do come out to vote because there`s so much voter suppression.
And I think the real reason for that is when we allow people to vote, blacks individuals come out and vote and Democrats win. We elected President Barack Obama because people stood in line for 5 and 7 hours to cast that vote. The same thing happened for President Joe Biden.
So, I think many of my Republican colleagues, especially at the leadership, the RNC, they`re wanting to keep the voter suppression out there so we don`t vote because we win when we vote. And they have a very big divide with that right now. They`re censuring Liz Cheney because she did what was right. Joining that select committee and standing up for our democracy and they want to censure her? Unthinkable.
REID: Yes. And I know that you care a lot about the U.S. Postal Service. It`s been part of your activism, politically.
REID: One of the big concerns is that you said those long lines. The alternative would be being able to vote by mail, which lots and lots of voters of color took advantage of because of the pandemic. That is now being curtailed.
Are you concerned that there hasn`t been a big push to remove Louis DeJoy as the leader of the U.S. Postal Service, given that there`s a lot of genuine fear that he is in a position to delay the ability for the mail to get where it`s going in the position he continues to hold?
BEATTY: We just -- we, being the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, we just had a special meeting last night. And we`re starting to meet during the late night evenings, and that`s one of the things that is on our agenda, because it is the most sacred for any individual.
But when you look at the disparities and you look at history, as you talked about, the history of the Congress in relationship to physical actions, look at the history. We just celebrated the first black man to ever serve in the House of Representatives, Joseph Rainey.
So we`re going to continue to look at the postal service, look at all the things that they`re trying to do, to voting rights, because it will deter and not allow individuals to vote, whether that`s shortening the periods, whether that`s not having drop boxes, whether that`s not letting us vote by mail. There`s a long laundry list. And we are looking at those things and you will see action from the Congressional Black Caucus and from the Democratic Caucus.
REID: Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, a leader, the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, I hope that you`ll come back. I would love to have you come back. You`re a fountain of information. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time.
BEATTY: Thank you so much.
All right, up next on THE REIDOUT, new reporting that the National Archives is asking the Department of Justice to look into Trump`s handling of White House documents, possibly including classified documents.
Plus, what do those trucker protests in Canada have to do with our toxic politics here at home? We will tell you.
Plus, the Silicon Valley billionaire who will now devote his time and his money full time to promoting the Trump agenda.
And we`ll be joined by a reporter who puts all the pieces together about why Joe Manchin will probably never ever support the full Biden agenda.
THE REIDOUT continues after this.
REID: Okay. So we`ve got two big developments late today both relating to the investigations of Donald Trump and his presidency. NBC News has confirmed the explosive reporting from the Washington Post that the National Archives has asked the Justice Department to examine Trump`s handling of White House records sparking discussions of federal law enforcement officials about whether they should investigate the former president of a possible crime.
That`s according to two people familiar with the matter who say that Archives officials suspected Trump had possibly violated laws concerning the handling of government documents including those that might be considered classified. This comes after numerous reports revealed how Trump mishandled official records ripping up and shredding documents in violation of the Presidential Records Act.
Most notably, we learned that the National Archives recovered 15 boxes of White House materials that Trump had wrongfully taken to Mar-a-Lago. Among the documents that Trump wrongfully took to the White House was this unforgettable gem, the map of Hurricane Dorian path that he doctor with a sharpie in 2019. Guess he`s still embarrassed by that one.
Separately, the January 6th committee today subpoenaed Peter Navarro, a former Trade Adviser in the Trump White House who`s better known these days for his efforts to steal the election. Navarro worked with Steve Bannon on a plot they called the Green Bay Sweep, which was intended to delay the certification process on January 6th until Mike Pence gave in to their demands.
As part of that plan Navarro authored several flashy memos chock full of bogus election conspiracy theories claiming the election was stolen in six states that Joe Biden won. Trump distributed those memos to every Republican in Congress and 147 of them later voted to decertify the results.
Navarro was also among the die-hard Trump loyalists who discussed plans to overturn the election in a meeting on the eve of the insurrection. That is according to one attendee, who said the meeting included Trump`s son`s, Don and Eric, Michael Flynn, the MyPillow guy, Mike Lindell, as well as Rudy Giuliani and Corey Lewandowski, among others.
In other words, Navarro was one of the biggest proponents of Trump`s big lie, and Republicans in Congress were happy to embrace his unconstitutional ideas. And let`s not forget that this is the guy who claimed just after the insurrection that the impeachment of Donald Trump was tantamount to violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER NAVARRO, FORMER DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: The Democratic Party did violence to this country by attacking a president who I believe was legally elected on November 3.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: OK, with me now is Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor, and Kurt Bardella, adviser to the DNC and the DCCC.
Let me circle right back to the National Archives information, Glenn, because -- and you and I have talked about this before, that it seems likely that the thing that will most likely result in accountability, legal accountability for Trump will be something other than the insurrection, which is kind of hard to wrap your mind around, when you think about how unprecedented it is to try to overturn an election.
But it seems to be other things that present him with more immediate legal jeopardy, whether it`s the tax evasion, messing with his insurance, levering the value of his properties, or interfering with the Georgia election.
Here, we have a very nonpartisan entity, the National Archives, which seems to kind of have Trump dead to rights. Your thoughts on this?
GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it`ll be interesting to see which government agencies or institutions don`t refer Donald Trump for criminal investigation at the end of the day.
KIRSCHNER: But the National Archives story is actually a danger zone for Trump in a couple of different ways.
Even though the Presidential Records Act is largely toothless, there is a closely related federal statute. It`s 18-USC-2071, which provides for criminal penalties for the concealment, removal or mutilation of official records.
Not only is that a three-year federal felony, but, importantly, anybody who is convicted under that statute is prohibited from holding federal office.
But here`s the other danger zone. Even if, strictly speaking, there is never a charge brought against Donald Trump for criminally removing presidential documents, it`s part of a cover-up, and it`s part of a conspiracy to basically commit crimes against the United States or defraud the United States.
That charge was brought by Bob Mueller against the Russian Internet Research Agency for trying to interfere in our free and fair election. That`s precisely what Trump and his co-conspirators did in a domestic setting, not based on a foreign attack.
So, the whole removal and concealment of records, in isolation, it might not give rise to a criminal charge, but it may end up being an overt act in furtherance of a larger conspiracy.
And, Kurt, what stood out to me too in the reading of this report, this journalistic report, is that the Department of Justice has been very reluctant to even hint that they even might be investigating Donald Trump or anything related to the insurrection.
And yet, even though they officially didn`t comment, this sort of idea that they may be investigating this, because this is something that isn`t tied to politics, that cannot possibly be tied to politics, which feels like where they want to be in terms of their own sort of appetite for controversy.
This is something that I`m old enough to remember Hillary Clinton getting an announcement basically from the -- from -- that she could be in trouble by Comey, who said, hey, she might have taken records home, hey, there might have been classified records, hey, her -- but her e-mails.
For consistency`s sake, this seems like a pretty fertile territory.
KURT BARDELLA, DNC AND DCCC ADVISER: Yes, it`s interesting.
I was talking about this on Mary Trump`s podcast, actually, today. And I`m going to take, for once, an optimistic view, which is very rare for me in these times.
BARDELLA: If you`re going after the former president, United States, an unprecedented law enforcement action, something we have never seen before in this country, you have got to have him dead to rights.
And you do not show your hand until it`s already too late for him, until he`s already in your sights and you have him. And part of me is hoping beyond hope, Joy, that that`s what`s happening right now with this Justice Department, that you -- we aren`t going to hear anything, see anything, get the slightest leak of anything until they`re basically taking him away in handcuffs.
I have to believe that`s what`s happening, because the alternative, Joy, is, frankly, too terrible to contemplate, that all the crimes that have been conducted by this president that have come to light, if they go unanswered, that there`s really no point to our justice system at all.
REID: Yes. Yes, absolutely.
Let`s move on to Peter Navarro. Let`s play Peter Navarro basically saying, this is -- I did it. He went on Ari Melber`s show and said, I did it.
Here he is.
REID: We lost it.
OK. Let me read you what he said.
So, Navarro says: "If the votes were sent back to those battleground states and looked at again, that would be enough concern amongst the legislatures, and most of these states would decertify the election." Then he said: "That would throw the election to the House of Representatives."
Then he says: "I will say to you here, Ari, and that of this again" -- and he says, "I was -- it in the lanes legally."
Do we have it? OK, let`s play it. I think we have it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAVARRO: If the votes were sent back to those battleground states and looked at again, that there would be enough concern amongst the legislatures that most or all of those states would decertify the election. That would throw the election to the House of Representatives.
And I would say to you here, Ari, that all of this, again, it was in -- in the lanes legally. It was prescribed by the Constitution. There is a provision to go, rather than through the Electoral College, to the House of Representatives. And all this required was peace and calm on Capitol Hill.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Do you realize you`re describing a coup?
NAVARRO: No, I totally reject many of your premises there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: No, no, the premise is actually true.
I mean, he literally describes a coup. And then, on top of that, we have this "Washington Post" reporting, Glenn, that Rudy Giuliani, who was in that same little clique, and other legal advisers Donald Trump, actually literally asked a Republican prosecutor in northern Michigan to get his county`s voting machines and give them to Donald Trump`s team.
The prosecutor says he declined, telling "The Post": "We don`t have the magical power to just demand things to prosecutors. You need probable cause."
I mean, they`re describing what they`re doing. And they did it very openly. Does the openness of it -- I don`t know. Does the openness of it make it more or less likely that they wind up getting held to account?
KIRSCHNER: Yes, it makes it confusing, because we have this sense that, if they`re admitting to it, then perhaps it`s not criminal.
But, look, Navarro is not taking a page from Vince Lombardi`s playbook. He`s taking a page from Donald Trump`s playbook. He knows that he has been caught red-handed with these treasonous memos and reports that he put together.
So the only thing he has left is to try to get in front of it and pretend it`s not criminal. But when you put on top of that the reporting that you just read from, Joy, where this Michigan prosecutor was approached by Rudy Giuliani and Trump`s teams and said, listen, just collect up all of the Michigan voting machines and give it to us.
REID: Give it to them.
KIRSCHNER: And that quote -- that quote from the prosecutor that you read, he said: I can`t just say give them here. We don`t have that magical power to just demand things as prosecutors. You need probable cause.
So, Joy, lo and behold, two weeks later, in Donald Trump`s draft executive order of December 16, like a magical incantation, Donald Trump says, five times, I have probable cause. I have probable cause to send the Army out to seize all the state voting machines.
What he doesn`t understand, it`s -- that`s not how any of this works. It`s not how probable cause works.
KIRSCHNER: So, basically, between Navarro and the draft executive order, this is like sedition for dummies.
REID: I mean, I went into the bank and I decided to demand, give me a million dollars. Like, that`s not how that works.
Glenn Kirschner, thank you very much. Kurt Bardella will be back with us in a bit.
Still ahead: America`s right wing -- whew -- is all in a tizzy about the Canadian truckers protesting commonsense COVID restrictions. Ooh. But the big question is, who`s behind all of this? You may not be surprised.
We will be right back.
REID: Protesters are in their second week of demonstrating against Canadian vaccination mandates for truckers crossing the border, with the busiest border crossing between Canada and the United States still partially blocked today.
The American right wing has been just salivating over the protests.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Canadian truckers, you have been reading about it...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: ... who are resisting bravely these lawless mandates are doing more to defend American freedom than our own leaders by far.
And we want those great Canadian truckers to know that we are with them all the way.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): The Canadian truckers are heroes. They are patriots. And they are marching for your freedom and for my freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Ted Cruz, isn`t he from Canada?
And some of those same people who tried to steal our election are now calling for similar demonstrations in the United States.
Despite what the right-wing narrative might want you to believe, this isn`t exactly a local protest made up entirely of truckers. The Canada Trucking Alliance said a great number of the protesters have no connection, zero, to the trucking industry, and the vast majority of Canadian truckers are vaccinated.
And it`s certainly nowhere near what the entire country thinks. A recent poll shows that 67 percent of Canadians want the government to impose further measures on the unvaccinated.
But, of course, it`s never actually been about the livelihood of Canadians who make their living on the road. The Ottawa police chief says a significant element from the U.S. was involved in the funding and organizing of the convoy.
As Politico notes, some of the same contingent backing Trumpism here in the states are doing this for their own gain, noting that analysis from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue found multiple far right U.S. groups, including those associated with the Tea Party movement and others opposing U.S. vaccine mandates, had donated to the GoFundMe page for the convoy.
White supremacist channels shared the link for the fund-raising site as well. GoFundMe wound -- GoFundMe wound up shutting down the page, a decision that some Republicans, including the Texas attorney general, are now investigating.
And here`s how Canada reacted to that one:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCO MENDICINO, CANADIAN MINISTER OF PUBLIC SAFETY: It is certainly not the concern of the Texas attorney general as to how we in Canada, go about our daily lives in accordance with the rule of law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now, if this all sounds vaguely familiar to you, it`s because we are seeing these same far right forces sparking school board fights over racial history and going after voting rights here in the U.S.
And they`re not just well-organized. They`re also well-funded.
And when we come back, we will tell you about one particular right-wing billionaire who`s poured money into far right causes and social media that have been used for global disinformation and who has set his sights on making the previous four years under the former president the permanent reality in America.
REID: Friends, allow me to introduce you to Peter Thiel, billionaire investor and lifelong libertarian/conservative troll.
Now, you might not be super familiar with him, but he has played a central role in funding a string of very familiar businesses, like PayPal, Facebook and Lyft.
That`s what made him famous. But here`s what made him infamous, how he uses his giant gobs of money to fund personal agendas and, more importantly, vendettas.
You probably remember his first highly publicized victim, which was Gawker, a New York-based blog that covered celebrities and media. Some of you probably frequented the site. I know I did.
In 2007, according to Ryan Holiday, who wrote a book about the saga, Thiel was publicly outed by the Web site. And he was furious about it. The book alleges that Thiel was so angry that he went around calling Gawker the MBTO, which stood for Manhattan-based terrorist organization.
It was then and there that he plotted his revenge. And, in 2011, four years later, he found a way. And it involved wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan. You see, in 2012, Gawker decided to post secretly recorded videos of Hogan having sexual intercourse with his best friend`s wife. Oops.
Hogan was livid. And here`s where Thiel saw an opportunity. Thiel notified Hogan`s lawyers that he would secretly bankroll an entire lawsuit against Gawker. In 2016, a year after Hogan sued, Gawker was found guilty and faced a $140 million judgment. Gawker, which couldn`t pay that amount, was forced to fold.
Thiel had effectively sued Gawker into oblivion. It`s an odd personal mission for a libertarian who rails against the unnecessary policing of speech, but what do I know? A triumphant Thiel then set his sights on yet another aging, equally orange, but way less muscly, D-list celebrity named Donald Trump.
His bet paid off, bigly. Thiel became President Donald`s loudest ally and a close confidant. Today, Thiel has a new project, investing in candidates running for office in this year`s midterms who align with and can advance the Trump agenda.
Joining me now is NBC News senior reporter Ben Collins, and back with me is DNC and DCCC adviser Kurt Bardella.
Ben, Peter Thiel is an interesting character, I mean, this is a real billionaire, not like Trump; $2.7 billion is his net worth. The companies that have received funding from him or his company include Facebook, Lyft, Yelp, Airbnb, Palantir, which just does like surveillance software the police use, PayPal, Stripe, SpaceX, this thing called Zynga, which is a social game developer.
So he`s kind of into everything. But it`s his belief system that I think is fascinating. People don`t understand it. In his book about venture capitalism, Thiel himself argues that, among other things, that the founders are godlike, that monarchies are more efficient than democracies, and that cults are a better organizational model than management consultancies.
He`s very anti-democracy, a la Steve Bannon. Talk about how that kind of influence can play out, given all that he`s got his tentacles in.
BEN COLLINS, NBC NEWS SENIOR REPORTER: Yes, until this week, he was on the board of Facebook.
And I think you can sort of read the tea leaves of where he thinks things are headed with him leaving the board of Facebook, which is -- which has taken stands against disinformation in the past, against the better judgment of, I don`t know, a large part of the board maybe.
So you can see that happening now. Now he`s investing in parallel structures in the Internet, places like Rumble, which is like a YouTube knockoff, but has been luring in right-wing and far right-wing podcasters and people like that to be exclusive to their platform, or at least to post to their platform.
So you can see now they`re trying to create -- in that space, they`re trying to create a parallel Internet, basically, that won`t be affected at all by moderation in any capacity, except for the moderation, of course, that they want to be on there.
So that`s the whole mission here is to create an anti-elite Internet, a separate Internet, where they can create and craft their own narratives without much judgment.
And, by the way, if you haven`t heard of Rumble, it`s the site that offered Joe Rogan $100 million if he would switch to their site, where, presumably, he could say the N-word all he wants without anybody saying anything to him about it.
And you know, Kurt, you know the other sort of figure that is sort of a parallel figure to him, Steve Bannon, very well. And the two of them are very similar. This is how Politico back, I think, in 2018 -- this piece is dated -- described the difference between Thiel and Bannon.
They said: "Thiel is quite different from Bannon, but his ambivalence about democracy is even more explicit, shading over into outright contempt. A Silicon Valley libertarian who got rich by developing PayPal, Thiel historically likes his capitalism undiluted by sentimentality."
He`s sort of an even less sentimental version of Bannon, who, people may remember, was sort of like trying to dig into the Hollywood world, and now hates that.
Like, just talk about this kind of mind-set within the Republican Party that wants the things that social media and Hollywood and the sort of liberal community create, but they want to make it real right-wing and libertarian.
And it stems from, again, especially for someone like Bannon, who people might forget, like, started his career at Goldman Sachs -- I mean, you can`t get more, like, establishment than that. And these figures -- it`s so interesting. They want to tear down all of these things that they so desperately wanted to initially be a part of.
And it goes back to even Donald Trump. Donald Trump started this whole thing. Why? Because he got made fun of at the White House Correspondence Dinner one year by Barack Obama. And it`s that thirst for approval that has them going, well, if you won`t let me sit at the cool kids` table, then I`m going to break yours and I`m going to make one of my own over here.
And it`s never lost on me, Joy, that all of these people who talk about the elites and the liberal elite and the Hollywood elite, and the media, they`re billion -- Peter Thiel, he`s a billionaire, Joy.
BARDELLA: It`s not some redneck, up-and-coming cowboy guy, pulled up by the bootstraps, living on minimum wage.
This guy`s a billionaire. The Trump Hotel, none of these people in MAGA world can afford to even stay at the Trump Hotel. And yet they get taken for this ride, this con that is set up by these uber-rich people trying to convince them that they actually give a damn about their self-interests.
They don`t care about these people. They just see them as an ATM machine to keep funding their domestic terrorist activities.
REID: You know what`s interesting? I mean, one of the candidates that Peter Thiel is backing is J.D. Vance, of course, who`s also a multi-multi- multi-millionaire hedge fund guy, but who talks this kind of populism that -- you cover this all the time, Ben.
I mean, that the messaging that`s going out, it`s all about standing up to what they see as the man, right, standing up against vaccines, saying don`t get vaccinated, standing up against history teachers, making them the enemy.
But all of this stuff feels like it`s of a piece, the trucker thing, saying that truckers don`t want to get vaccinated are heroes. The thing about it is, because they actually sort of work this through social media, it`s really effective.
And Vance`s capital -- venture capital fund also, by the way, gave to Rumble around the same time that Peter Thiel did.
REID: Of course.
COLLINS: So they are not -- that`s what we`re working with here. We`re working with some people who have some money throw around on this sort of thing.
That`s what you`re seeing now. I think, since January 6, a lot of people have focused on the specific militia movements, the specific experiencing movements, the QAnon people, the Proud Boys, all that stuff.
But they haven`t. They don`t care about labels. They care about what their movement is doing. And their movement is largely anti-authority. They want to basically replace government with a new one. And if they have to do it by force, they don`t mind that. Like, that`s -- they think it`s revolutionary in this capacity.
And that`s what you see with a lot of the trucker convoys, the anti-vax protests in Europe as well. That`s -- it`s all one big global, what they would want to call a populist movement, but, for most people, it would be called an anti-authority movement, right, a revanchist movement...
COLLINS: ... from times before.
That`s what`s going on here is, it`s not about labeling this like, oh, look at these QAnon people.
COLLINS: It`s a big soup now.
They are not coming together around Donald Trump. They`re coming together around the idea that government needs to be replaced.
REID: Yes, and then -- and around oligarchy, Kurt.
I mean, this is a global movement that wants to have a small group of very, very rich people free to do as they please. And they have got like a sort of vanguard of broke people just on the front lines.
BARDELLA: That`s exactly right, Joy.
And it`s kind of the frustrating thing for him. From a pure messaging standpoint, if you want to contrast the difference between the two political parties in this country, one party is for the rich. One party is using that power, that wealth to try to suppress the other classes of people in this country.
And they`re -- and the people who would benefit the most -- this is the irony of it all -- people would benefit the most from Democrat policies are these Middle America people, are these farmers.
When you look at the type of relief that was doled out by Donald Trump and Republicans in 2020, it was tax breaks for rich people. It was tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. The average person, the people that they try to hold up and prop up all the time, they don`t stand a chance in their world view.
REID: Yes. Yes.
BARDELLA: And it`s the ultimate con.
REID: I always say, watch what they have done, not what -- I mean, well, Rachel Maddow says all the time, watch what they do, not what they say.
What did Trump actually accomplish legislatively when he was president? It wasn`t building the wall. It was that tax break for the super rich. Watch what they actually pass. It`s all about the money. It`s all about the money. Always follow the money.
Ben Collins, Kurt Bardella, thank you both very much.
And you know what? Kurt said it was about the different parties. Eh, not always, because stick around, because we`re going to dig into one of the real reasons why a Democrat named Joe Manchin`s obstruction of the Biden agenda, like, what he really might be up to.
Here`s a hint. It starts with M and it rhymes with honey.
Stay right there.
REID: This afternoon, President Biden welcomed a group of utility company CEOs to the White House in his ongoing effort to fight climate change and promote his Build Back Better agenda.
Of course, that agenda has been declared it DOA, dead on arrival, by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, following an intense campaign to get him on board.
Now, while everyone in politics has been wondering how they can convince and cajole Manchin to change his mind, maybe the actual answer is that you can`t, because it`s in his financial interest to say no. Maybe that`s just the Occam`s razor answer that people have been ignoring.
Last month, "Rolling Stone" released a lengthy expose on Manchin`s family fortune in the coal industry and how that influences his politics.
And now Politico has yet another deep dive into what one might call Manchin`s corruption. As the article details, selling the scrap coal has earned Manchin millions of dollars over three decades. And he has used his political positions to protect the fuel from laws and regulations that also threaten his family business.
So maybe it`s time to stop begging Manchin to do what`s right, and just start exposing what he actually stands for.
Joining me now is Scott Waldman, White House reporter focused on climate change at Politico`s E&E News.
And so thank you for being here.
I am fascinated to talk with you, Scott, because, after a while, I started to realize that Manchin was never going to vote for Build Back Better, no matter what they did to it and how they distorted it, because he already got the thing he wanted. That`s what I said on Stephen Colbert`s show.
What he wanted was what those 20 -- 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats -- show the picture. They stood up there, and 20 people gave out $1.2 trillion. This group non-diverse, not a single diverse person in the room, they divvied up $1.2 trillion in front of us. Boom. And he`s going to benefit financially from that.
Talk a little bit about Manchin and his coal empire.
SCOTT WALDMAN, POLITICO: Well, one of the ways he could benefit from the bipartisan bill is that there`s a bunch of funding in there for abandoned mine land cleanup, which is exactly one of the things that his business does.
It`s called Enersystems. He found it about 30 years ago. And it has this unique role, in that it just sells waste coal, which is coal left over from decades of coal mining, to the single power plant in West Virginia that still burns this. He formed this business about 30 years ago, and has been delivering this waste coal to this power plant, cleaning up -- cleaning it up from abandoned mine lands.
And he`s made about $5 million alone since he`s come to Congress when he was first elected in 2010. His shares in the company are worth another $5 million. So it`s been very -- obviously very lucrative for him. And this is something that sort of happened out in the open for decades, really.
REID: Yes, like the 20 people who gave out 1.2 -- it`s amazing. If this had been a bank robbery, it would have been like, middle of the day, with everybody in there and walking out with the bags. I have never seen anything like it, right?
But let`s talk a little bit more about him, because Manchin says, well, it`s in a blind trust. I don`t have anything to do with it. But it`s his son running the company. It`s his family benefiting. And this man has made sure that, what is it, 90 percent of the energy out of West Virginia, a very poor state, comes from coal.
You can`t get away from coal, even though a lot of people there would like to.
WALDMAN: That`s right.
The West Virginia Public Service Commission, which determines the fate of a lot of coal plants, has actually worked to keep coal on the grid in West Virginia, even though it`s losing tons of money. This power plant in particular -- again, it`s called the Grant Town Power Plant -- that Manchin sells his coal to has faced bankruptcy many times over the years. In 2000 - - over the years.
In 2006, when Manchin was governor, his appointee controlled the Public Service Commission. His chief of staff worked behind the scenes to get a sweetheart deal for this power plant, which was again on the verge of closing. And the PSC came back and gave the plant more money, which comes from the utility customers of West Virginia in their monthly electric bills.
And it also gave it a longer contract, extended its contract until 2035. So, that alone in the last, I think, about five years has cost $117 million to keep this one plant going. And any time it sort of faces any sort of financial troubles, which has been many times over the years, it goes before the Public Service Commission and asks for more money.
I mean, the Build Back Better bill, there are some climate change provisions in the other bill, in the infrastructure bill, but the big bulk of it was in Build Back Better. And, I mean, you write about things like him designating coal-related activity as protect -- as helping climate change.
No, it doesn`t.
WALDMAN: That`s right.
REID: I mean, like, he`s found ways to reconfigure his coal business to get it under the rules, so he can pretend it`s also climate change, helping climate change. No, it`s not.
WALDMAN: That`s right.
In 2009, when he was governor, one of the last things he did before he came to the Senate in 2010 is, he signed -- he worked to craft a bill and signed a big renewable and alternative energy bill. They were going to get their grid from almost 100 percent coal to about 75 percent coal.
And the rest would be renewable and alternative energy. Well, he put a provision in there that alternative energy would include waste coal, which, by the way, is extremely carbon-intensive. It certainly adds to climate change significantly. And he said that this should count as part of West Virginia`s alternative energy portfolio, along with natural gas and other fossil fuels.
REID: It is remarkable to me that this has not been something that`s been focused on, as people have thought that they could have some black pastors maybe convince him or civil rights people.
No, you can`t. When someone`s financial interest is over here, they`re staying over here, no matter what you say.
I appreciate you, Scott Waldman, for your great reporting. Thank you very much. I appreciate you.
And, hopefully, we will think more about this and talk more about this. And we will be talking more about West Virginia, because this is where it`s at, you all. Follow the money. People don`t do what`s not in their financial interest to do. Maybe that`s why he doesn`t want to do Build Back Better.
That is tonight`s REIDOUT.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.