IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The ReidOut, 3/11/2021

Guest: Vin Gupta, Jason Johnson, Chris Coons, Grover Street, Valerie Jarrett


Biden to mark one year pandemic with primetime address. Biden to direct states and territories to make all adults eligible for vaccine by May 1. Fauci says, mixed messages on COVID cost lives. President Biden will give his first primetime address as he and Vice President Kamala Harris hit the road to tout the benefits of their COVID relief package.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: One more note, tonight, after that address, Chris Hayes hosts a special live edition for the Lincoln Memorial. He`ll be covering the president`s speech with reactions. If you want to tune in to the year we meet again, 8:00 p.m. Eastern tonight.

And don`t go anywhere right now because our special coverage continues with the Reid report -- excuse me, THE REIDOUT with my colleague Joy Reid.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with a momentous time for our country. One hour from now, President Biden will deliver his first primetime address to the American people.

We`ve just learned that he will flag two very important upcoming dates. By May 1st, less than two months from now, he`s directing all states and territories to make all adults eligible for the vaccine. You`ll also want to mark July 4th on your calendar. Biden is expected to announce tonight Americans should be able to gather in small groups by then.

Two dates to look forward to, as today marks one year since the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus to be a pandemic. It`s a sobering milestone with more than half a million American lives lost between that declaration and tonight.

And even with Biden`s hopeful announcement, tonight is one of those occasions when it is important to step back and remember how we got here, starting one year ago today, March 11th, 2020, when the world stood still.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just moments ago on Capitol Hill, government health officials testified on the government`s response to coronavirus and this statement from one of the nation`s top medical experts was not reassuring.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We will see more cases and things will get worse than they are right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are now more than 1,000 cases reported in this country and so far 30 deaths.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The World Health Organization has officially declared the coronavirus to be a global pandemic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More market stress, more liquidity stress. Be careful out there is what I tell people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The market tumbling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: DOW is down more than 5 percent today officially entering a bear market.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fear on Wall Street and Main Street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The DOW dropping more than 1,400 points, its second biggest point loss ever.

REID: Late this afternoon, the NCAA announced that it will hold March madness without rowdy fans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an NBC News special report.

LESTER HOLT, MSNBC HOST: We`re interrupting our regular programming to bring you remarks from President Trump on the coronavirus outbreak, now a pandemic.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moments ago, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19, the coronavirus as a result, the NBA will suspend play. The league will go on hiatus following the conclusion of action tonight.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks and his wife, the actress, Rita Wilson, have announced that they have both tested positive for coronavirus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s a real face now, that Tom and Rita Hanks is a real thing, a real fact for Americans to consider. If it can happen to them, even though they are in Australia, it can absolutely happen to anyone. I think that`s a reality now through Tom Hanks that a lot of people might not have had.


REID: That day changed everything. It all just happened at once. Those of us who are privileged stopped going into the office, unlike the many essential workers who didn`t have that option. We started talking about flattening the curve and social distancing. We were told we had 15 days to stay at home and slow the spread, days that stretched into months.

Schools went virtual and many students still haven`t gone back. Stay-at- home orders that started in only a few states quickly became the norm across the country. The president at that time was still downplaying the virus and giving himself an A-plus from the response. We now know he was very much aware of how bad the situation really was.

And we were told by experts that we didn`t need to wear masks, something almost unfathomable to think about it now, as health care workers struggled to obtain the equipment they needed and to deal with the mass casualties they were experiencing.

And while there hasn`t been anything quite like those initial few weeks, for many of us, this pandemic life of social distancing and mask wearing has become our new normal. One year later, we`re still in it with more than 29 million people have been infected and more than 530,000 dead.

Let`s turn now to Critical Care Pulmonologist Dr. Vin Gupta and Jason Johnson, Professor of Politics and Journalism at Morgan State University, two of the people we most wanted to talk to tonight, that I most wanted to talk to tonight. So thank you both for making time.

Dr. Gupta, let me play it for you what Dr. Fauci actually said today. He went on THE TODAY show and he talked about probably the most dangerous thing that happened over the last year.


FAUCI: We had such divisiveness in our country that even simple commonsense public health measures took on a political connotation when people, you know, if you wanted to wear a mask you were on this side. If you wanted to stay in and avoid congregate settings, you were on this side. It wasn`t a pure public health approach. Mixed messages were coming from Washington, that`s for sure.


REID: You know, Dr. Gupta, I mean it`s fair to say -- look, I remember the politicization even around Ebola, you know, when President Obama was president and Republican tried to somehow find a way to use that against him politically. The Ebola killed three people in the United States, that killed a lot more on the African continent. We`re talking about something that wound up killing half a million people-plus.

Have you ever experienced anything in the public health sector like this where something like a virus, that doesn`t care who anyone is, becomes a political matter and that leads to death?

DR. VIN GUPTA, CRITICAL CARE PULMONOLOGIST: You know, Joy, I haven`t. Good to see you, by the way. Good evening. What I`ll say is there`s a few things here. There`s a deep irony, number one, that this took the journey it took.

That everything got politicized. Because if we had just done -- you know, unfortunately, former President Trump knew this was an airborne virus on, I believe is what, February 7th. If we had put in place the measures that anybody otherwise would on learning that knowledge, then if there was a tactical shutdown at that point, if the Strategic National Stockpile had been replenished, if we knew what we knew now about this virus, if that information was used to inform actual public policy, this would have been less of an issue. We probably -- some estimates say we would have saved 70 percent of the lives now lost. Imagine that, Joy. I mean imagine that.

So number one, it`s ironic. Well, it`s ironic because it got politicized and it ended up obviously becoming a much bigger problem for the former president than it needed to be. And number two, I`ll quickly say to your question, is there precedence for this? The biggest precedence I would say for politics and being injected into public health is, for example, what big lobbies do when they wanted to get through their way, the smoking lobby for example. Smoking is still is the biggest killer of people worldwide in part because the smoking lobby, the tobacco lobby is still quite powerful and continues to deceive. That`s probably the biggest -- the most pertinent analogy here even though it`s imperfect.

REID: Yes, it is a good analogy. And, you know, speaking of it becoming a big problem for the former president, Jason Johnson, usually, the easiest things for a president to run for reelection are on -- are war and tax cuts. You know, those two things are usually sure-fire winners politically. Donald Trump was sitting on this crisis in which he could have shown himself to be a leader. This was breaking around the time of impeachment. He needed another story. So, he had the opportunity to have another story.

I just want to play -- this is a little long, so just have patient with us, and we normally don`t like to really play him, to be honest with you, but we we`re going to play him tonight. And this was Donald Trump`s incoherence, speaking of mixed messages, message on COVID.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you worried about a pandemic at this point?

TRUMP: No, not at all. And we`re -- we have it totally under control.

The risk to the American people remains very low.

Because you know this virus is going to disappear.

It`s going to disappear. One day, it`s like al miracle it will disappear.

This is a flu. This is like a flu.

It will go away. You know it is going away.

As an example, on the mask, if people wanted to wear them, they can.

I just don`t want to wear one myself, it`s a recommendation.

This is going to go away without a vaccine.


You`re not going to die from this pill.

And then I say the disinfectant.

Is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or -- almost a cleaning?

You know, our doctors get more money if somebody dies from COVID. You know that, right?

The minimum number was 100,000 lives and I think we`ll be substantially under that number.


REID: And just one more, if we can stand it, if you all can stand it. Bear with me for like 17 more seconds. Here he is talking to Bob Woodward. He called Bob Woodward and said this to him.


TRUMP (voice-over): it`s a very tricky situation. it`s --

BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST (voice-over): Indeed, it is.

TRUMP: It goes through air, Bob. That`s always tougher than the touch. You just breathe the air and that`s how it`s passed. It`s also more deadly than your -- you know, even your strenuous flus.


REID: I mean, just as a political science matter, Jason, is this the biggest blunder, public communications blunder by a president, I guess since Woodrow Wilson basically did the same thing with so called the Spanish flu?

JASON JOHNSON, PROFESSOR OF POLITICS & JOURNALISM, MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: Yes, and I`ve written a lot about the similarities between Trump and Wilson. They were both white supremacists, one just happens to be a lot smarter, that was Wilson. The political consequences have been horrific. First off, half a million people are dead.

Most of us have never experienced that in our lifetimes. It`s bigger than multiple wars combined, and it`s resulted in such a breakdown of so many fundamental things in the American economy and health care. It has left us a broken and less functional country.

And as of right now, we still have so many different states refusing to follow the basic rules because of what Trump did last year. We have Florida that`s fudging the numbers because they won`t listen to the CDC, other places that are opening themselves up.

But I would say, Joy, that the one political consequence that can`t be avoided in all of this is that COVID is the reason that Donald Trump lost. Had he even remotely cared about handling this crisis last year, had he not tried to pick and choose and assumed it was only going to be a blue state problem, had he not stood against masks and simply said, hey, do what you want, he would probably still be president of the United States today.

It was Donald Trump`s failure to address this horrible human rights, human health crisis that led to a lot of people saying, we can`t have this anymore and kicking him out of the office. It wasn`t the racism, it wasn`t the bigotry, it wasn`t the corruption, it wasn`t the cheating, it was COVID.

REID: Yes, that is hard to argue against.

So, let`s turn the page a little bit, let`s turn the page. So, Dr. Gupta, you -- I will admit on T.V. that you are the person who single handedly made me get over my nervousness about the vaccines and become determined to get vaccinated and promote and push to everybody to get vaccinated. I`m not yet -- I haven`t gotten -- my group hasn`t come through yet, but I`m determined to do it now. And because of you I`m determined to get whichever one I can. You know, I don`t like to have like the J&J issues and everything.

But let`s talk about these deadlines that President Biden has put up. May 1st, everyone being able to get the vaccine, is that the kind of good, positive messaging that helps or is that going to -- are you worried that might cause just a rush on the vaccines on May 1st, starting on May 1st?

GUPTA: I think it`s overwhelmingly positive, because people are really clamoring to get access, because they know now, because they know CDC guidance is phasing in normalcy if you`re vaccinated, right? And, you know, they started small. They`re going to go bigger as more people get vaccinated. But people are recognizing, connecting the dots, if I get vaccinated, that means I can plan summer vacation, that means holidays are going to be normal again.

So, it`s good that they`re moving up the time schedule. And I think we have our muscle memory now in place, Joy. We know how to do this and more zip codes across the country, these mass vaccine sites. So, I think, I mean, it`s wonderful news for all of us.

And I`m really glad, thank you, I`ll just quickly say, thank you for bringing up the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Too many people out there think it`s inferior. It`s not. You only get a vaccine to keep yourself out of the hospital. It`s 100 percent effective of keeping you out of the hospital.

REID: Yes, I`ll take any of them. I mean, trust mean, but real quick before I let you go. Am I crazy to still be very nervous, even if I finally get it, I get my J&J or whatever, I`d still will be a little nervous honestly to do anything on July 4th and go and do anything indoors in a gym or anything. I would still be scared. Am I right to be nervous after vaccination?

GUPTA: So, you should be reassured that you`re not going to end up in the hospital. I think it`s appropriate that we`re going to still have some residual trauma, if you will, for what`s just happened in the last 16 months. Yes, I do think people may continue to mask and distance but caution for the rest of this year, frankly, I wouldn`t be surprised if that`s how most people decides to live their life, cautiously. So, no, I don`t think that`s harm at all.

REID: Yes. Yes, I`m keeping my mask. And I`ve made them fashion. So, I will be wearing my mask for the time being even in the future. Dr. Vin Gupta, my councilor who doesn`t even know that my counselor on COVID things, and, Jason Johnson, thank you so very much, my friend. I appreciate you.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, we await President Biden`s speak at the top of the hour, just before he hits the road to promote the details of his sweeping plan across the nation.

Meanwhile, over on Fox, Tucker Carlson is attacking pregnant women, serving our country, saying that they are making, quote, a mockery of the U.S. military. The men and women of the Armed Forces quickly put Tucker in his place.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But remember that those opinions were made by an individual who has never served a day in his life.


REID: At the Pentagon, Spokesman John Kirby, Tucker Carlson never served a day in his life, saying that Tucker demeaned the entire U.S. military. And Nicky Foster, tweeted, I have 217 combat flying missions over Iraq and Afghanistan. There are bad ass women all over this nation that have sacrificed more than you`re narrow mind can fathom.

Tucker, the toxic masculinity would make you easily the absolute worse on any other night. But tonight, believe it or not, we find someone even worse than you. The big reveal is coming up. THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: America, help is on the way. Now that the $1.9 trillion American rescue plan has been signed, Americans can expect relief and some money in their accounts as early as this weekend. Here is President Biden moments before signing the bill.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people in this nation, working people, middle class folks, people who built the country a fighting chance. That`s what the essence of it is.


REID: Biden has vowed not to repeat the mistake President Obama made back in 2009 with the administration did not get out and sell the benefits of its own economic recovery plan. So much of the public was left not fully informed about the benefits.


BIDEN: Barack was so modest, he didn`t want to take, as he said, a victory lap. I kept saying, tell people what we did. He said: "We don`t have time. I`m not going to take a victory lap."

And we paid a price for it, ironically, for that humility. Each piece isn`t just defensible. It is urgent and overwhelmingly supported by the people. It`s good policy and it`s good politics.


REID: Well, with that in mind, the White House has planned an aggressive marketing push to tout the specific benefits, state by state, of the already popular and transformative package.

It begins with Biden`s address to the nation coming up at the top of the hour, followed by a national tour next week, with administration officials crisscrossing the country. President Biden and Vice President Harris will end the tour in Atlanta, which just, let`s be clear, made this field possible by electing two Democratic senators in January.

So, it`s fitting that it will be the choice for their first joint event outside of Washington since the inauguration.

Friendly reminder, zero Republicans supported this wildly popular bill, but that didn`t stop them from trying to take credit for some of it. Hours after passage, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker was promoting a portion of the bill that sends cash to restaurants. Fittingly enough, he left out the part about him, like, actually voting against it.

And if that wasn`t bad enough, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to plant the Republican flag on the country`s recovery.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Senate Republicans led the bipartisan CARES Act that got our country through the last year. The American people already built a parade that`s been marching toward victory. Democrats just want to sprint in front of the parade and claim credit.


REID: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had a good word for the Republicans who are playing hanger-on.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It`s remarkable legislation. Unfortunately, Republicans, as I say don`t, vote no and take the dough. You see already some of them claiming, oh, this is a good thing, or that`s a good thing, but they couldn`t give it a vote.

But, anyway, enough of them.


REID: Joining me now is Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.

Vote no and take the dough. You know President Biden probably better than anyone in the United States Senate. What do you expect his demeanor to be like tonight? I mean, he said, that they made a mistake in 2009 when they didn`t get out there and toot their own horn. Is he going to do a little bit of that tonight, you think?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, Joy, since Joe Biden won the election to become our president, he has been relentlessly focused on getting us out of this pandemic, on relieving the burdens on Middle Americans, and on moving us forward.

I think he will be somber, as we reflect on what the one-year anniversary means of this pandemic, what it means to have lost 530,000 Americans. But I also think he will be hopeful, because we are now clearly on a path towards getting out of this pandemic and towards recovery.

This $1.9 trillion bill that he just signed into law is truly a big deal. And it`s going to deliver relief to 100 million American families in the means of direct stimulus checks. It`s going to be the biggest anti-poverty program in decades by expanding the child tax credit.

And it`s going to put money into the Veterans Administration, into helping people stay in their homes or apartments, into safely reopening schools, into more small business lending. Joy, this bill is going to do a lot of good.

And Joe Biden ran for president so he could help the American middle class and help get us out of the mess that Donald Trump got us into. I expect him to really give us a clear shot of hope about our future.

REID: Speaker Pelosi talking about the Republicans vote no and take the dough.

Let me play you -- I normally don`t like to play senators for other senators.


REID: But let me play Roger Wicker basically doing that.



SEN. ROGER WICKER (R-MS): One good provision in a $1.9 trillion bill doesn`t mean I have to vote for the whole thing.

That goes without saying. I issued a statement. But I think it`s a -- it`s a stupid question.

QUESTION: Stupid question?

WICKER: Absolutely. I`m not going to vote for $1.9 trillion just because it has a couple of good provisions in it.


REID: First of all, there are no stupid questions, Mr. Wicker.

Sixty-two percent of Americans approve of how Biden is handling the pandemic, according to new NPR/PBS poll. Like, 70-something percent approve of this recovery bill.

Do you -- are Democrats, in your view, prepared to run against, is the Democratic Senate Congressional Committee prepared to run ads against people like Roger Wicker, who voted no and took the dough?

COONS: Well, Joe, I think it`s important that we remind all Americans that, a year ago, we did come together on a bipartisan basis and unanimously passed the CARES Act, because we saw the crisis that was this pandemic.

And a year later, while we still have a raging pandemic, while we`re still in a recession, while we have still got 11 million Americans collecting unemployment and looking for their next job, while we have still got tens of millions of Americans with their kids not in school and facing eviction, we couldn`t get a single Republican vote.

I`m not sure what changed. Seems to me that we`re not out of this pandemic yet, we`re not out of the woods yet. And so I would expect that there`s going to be some accountability politically for those who refuse to help finish the job and get us out of this pandemic.

There was investment in developing the vaccines. That was bipartisan. There was investment in the initial response. That was bipartisan. But we`re not out of the woods. So why did they leave the American people behind by refusing to vote for this bill, the first big bill of Joe Biden`s presidency?

REID: Well, respectfully, I think that maybe people in elected office in Washington and people in the media, frankly, care more about bipartisanship as a thing than actual people.

People care about results. People care about getting the things they voted for.


COONS: Results. They do.

REID: And this is people`s tax money, and they need a little bit of it back right now.

And I don`t think they care that it`s bipartisan. And I say that to say, sir, that there are a bunch of other things that people really, deeply care about. Voting rights are being stripped from Americans all over this country. There`s a bill for that that`s already passed the House.

Policing, we have the Derek Chauvin trial that`s about to happen. People really want reforms in policing. There`s a bill for that. There are a bunch of bills that have -- there`s a For the People Act. There are bills on making it easier to vote. There`s the George Floyd Act. There`s the Voting Rights Act named after John Lewis.

Is it OK for people like Joe Manchin to demand bipartisanship, instead of results, and to say they won`t touch the filibuster? Richard Trumka, the AFL-CIO president, just came out today and called the filibuster a Jim Crow artifact and a creature of white supremacy.

Are Democrats prepared to get Joe Manchin in line and reform the filibuster, so that you guys can pass the other things people need?

COONS: Well, Joy, at this point, we have several Democrats who said they will not touch the filibuster. It`s not just Joe Manchin.

And one of our challenges is delivering urgent relief that Americans need. That`s what this bill is going to do.

REID: But, wait, sir, can I just interrupt you, because we`re out -- we`re very close out of time?

COONS: I do expect us to take up and pass another big, bold package.

REID: Yes.


REID: Sure.

But, I mean, but the thing is, is that a bunch of Democrats were saying they won`t touch the filibuster.

COONS: I do think you`re going to see us deliver more relief later this year.


REID: Yes. Uh-huh. Sorry.

COONS: I`m sorry, Joy?

REID: Go ahead.

No, sorry. There was a delay. But go ahead. I think we have lost...

COONS: I do expect us to take up and pass another big and bold package that will address infrastructure and jobs and climate.

And I know that, over the next couple of months, there will be some hard conversations in our caucus about what`s the right path forward, about whether we`re going to stand by and see all of Joe Biden`s agenda stymied, or whether we will make changes.

I`m going to be a part of that discussion. I`m not ready to get rid of the filibuster yet. I`m going to give a hard try at bipartisanship. That`s Joe Biden`s position as president. That`s my position as a senator and many others.

But, frankly, Joy, we have to make progress, and we have to deliver on the results the American people are looking for. And that`s going to be a subject of a lot of debate in our caucus this year.

REID: I`m sure.

And my last question -- and we are out of time -- but the $15-an-hour minimum wage is another one of those issues that`s really important to people. I know that you are not for it at the moment, voted against it. But is that something that is a tenable position for a Democrat, when Democrats have power and can make these changes for people, but are hanging onto the filibuster for what, to empower Republicans?

COONS: Let`s be clear, Joy.

I support raising the minimum wage. I support indexing the minimum wage. I support increasing the minimum wage and getting to $15 an hour.

I had some concerns about Bernie Sanders` specific bill and how it raises the minimum wage that, frankly, got very little discussion about the impact of two provisions of it. I think we will get that done this year. And I have already been having conversations with folks in my caucus about how we can get that done this year.

REID: All right.

Well, thank you very much. Sorry for the delay. It`s always weird, the delay, but we got it done.

Senator Chris Coons, thank you very much. Really appreciate your time.

And still ahead, we will talk to a front-line health care worker who has been traveling nonstop to COVID hot spots about the traumatic toll this past year has taken on him and his colleagues.

But, first, it`s tonight`s absolute worst.

Stay with us.


REID: On the eve of the anniversary of COVID upending America, at the insistence of Republican Governor Greg Abbott, Texas officially became the largest state to fully reopen its economy and lift its mask mandate.

Governor Abbott, the current REIDOUT record holder for the absolute worst, mind you, the man who brought Texas no electricity and no water during a winter storm, he took a break from xenophobic fearmongering about immigrants at the border earlier this week to crow about his decision.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): After a year of going through COVID, Texans know exactly the safe practices to heed. They don`t need government to tell them what to do. They know exactly what to do.


REID: Well, as of yesterday, there is no statewide mask mandate and no capacity restrictions for businesses of any type, restaurants, retail stores, gyms, even sports stadiums.

The Texas Rangers baseball team is taking Abbott`s lead, allowing 100 percent capacity for opening day at their 40,000-plus seat stadium, albeit with masks required. I mean, what`s a little COVID between you and 40,000 strangers?

The governor said 100 percent. You see, Abbott`s order allows businesses to enforce protocols on -- at their own discretion.

But, not surprisingly, some local officials are not on board. Public health officials in Austin plan to continue requiring masks in businesses for now, in spite of the governor.

And enter Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. You remember him, the guy who went to the Supreme Court to try to overturn 10 million legal votes on behalf of that former White House guy and who`s also under investigation by the FBI for using his office to help a wealthy donor, him.

Wednesday, he threatened Austin with a 6:00 p.m. deadline to rescind its mask mandates, or else he would sue, adding, in an anti-science tweet: "City and county leaders must not be thinking clearly. Maybe it`s oxygen deprivation from quintuple masking."

Austin Mayor Steve Adler gave a totally logical explanation for why he`s keeping it in place.


MAYOR STEVE ADLER (D-TX), AUSTIN: I had a lot of businesses call me. They were upset and they were frustrated with what the governor had done, because, when they were enforcing masking, as they wanted to do to protect their employees, they were able to tell folks that were coming in, hey, it`s not us. It`s the law.

Well, in Austin, they still have the ability to tell the people coming into their stores that the local law requires masking.


REID: Seems pretty reasonable, when anti-mask bullies in your state are doing things like threatening Mexican restaurants with calling ICE on their staff for enforcing mask-wearing.

But Ken Paxton solidified his quest to become the absolute worst by following through on his threat. He`s suing Austin, the mayor, the county judge, and health authority, on behalf of the state of Texas.

He whined on Twitter that officials blew him off, so he`s dragging them into court, and he claims he will never stop keeping Texas free and open, and also full of COVID and more hospitalizations and deaths.


And for that tomfoolery, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has earned the ignominious dishonor of being tonight`s absolute worst.


REID: At the core of this pandemic are those we have lost but also those who have risked it all. For 365 days to care for the sick and the dying.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You saw what we were seeing here in the hospital. I don`t think you would be taking these risks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seeing a lot of patients. They`re not getting better. We`re seeing them get worse and they die.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another death today that the whole ICU took pretty hard. We`ve just been crying so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a mass casualty incident that just wouldn`t stop.


REID: Some paid the ultimate price. More than 3,500 U.S. health care workers died of COVID-19.

Joining me now is Grover Street, Air Force veteran and travel nurse who has worked on the COVID front line in hospitals across the country.

Thank you so much for being here, Grover. Folks heard you were on. People were filling my text messages being happy I was talking to you.

Can you give a perspective as somebody being all over the country dealing with the pandemic how you have felt over the last year? Has it been sort of like -- have you just been a machine because you do have that military training, you know how to sort of buckle down, or at any point has there been a sort of sense of kind of drowning in this?

GROVER STREET, FASTAFF TRAVEL ICU NURSE: Well, being a machine, you can`t really love so it takes a lot of love, effort to take care of these patients. When we take care of these patients, their families can`t come in to be there with them, it`s only us. It`s even like that today where family members can`t come in. It`s taken an emotional toll on a lot of health care workers, doctors, respiratory therapists, occupational health, environmental service people. It`s running deep through the core of health care (AUDIO GAP).

REID: Yeah. Hopefully your audio will clean up a little bit. I can still hear you so I`m going to keep going. When you hear states like Texas saying take off all the restrictions, everybody go back to living your life as normal, and actually outlawing mask mandates so basically store clerks have to fight it out with customers just because they want to wear a mask and risk maybe even getting attacked, how does that make you feel as somebody who`s been in the middle of this fight?

STREET: It makes me feel like people aren`t listening and it makes me feel like there`s a war against politics and health care and people need to believe in the scientists and doctors and people that do the studies to say, hey, wear a mask. These are doctors and scientists telling to you do it.

When a politician tells you, do they have that experience? They`re experienced in the areas they`re experienced in, but I think when it comes down to your health and saving the lives of millions, maybe billions of people, we don`t know when this is going to end, (AUDIO GAP) then I think people need to really listen to health care workers and doctors telling them to wear their mask.

REID: Yeah, there`s a South Dakota nurse, an ER nurse, who actually went viral with some tweets. This was in November of 2020. Name was Jodi Orth.

I can`t help but think about the COVID patients. The ones that stick out who don`t believe the virus is real. The one who scream at you for doing magic medicine and Joe Biden is going to ruin the USA, all while for gasping for breath on 100 percent Vapotherm. They call you names and ask you why you have to wear all of that stuff because they don`t have COVID because it`s not real.

Did you encounter that anti-COVID denialism around the country? Are there places in particular, if you encountered it, where you encountered it?

STREET: Well, I`ve been mostly in the thick of it. My patients are usually -- my patients are usually intubated and the family members that I talk to are the ones that are -- I`m talking to family members of the dead people, people that are going to die and it`s deeper than what people can imagine. Looking at it through the eyes of a health care worker, you won`t see the truth.

REID: Yeah. It is -- it is terrifying and, you know, thank you for all that you`ve done, for your service as well, but also for your service to the country in trying to get this thing to end.

So, Grover Street, thank you very much. Really appreciate you powering through the audio issues as well. Cheers. Thank you.

We are moments away from President Biden`s first primetime address as he and Vice President Kamala Harris hit the road to tout the benefits of their COVID relief package. A look at how other administrations have led this country out of dark, desperate times. We`ll be right back.


REID: Tomorrow marks 88 years since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his first fireside chat in the depths of the Great Depression. He laid out the crises facing this country and leveled with the American people about the road ahead.


FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan. You people must have faith. You must not be stampeded by rumors or guesses. Let us unite in banishing fear.


REID: You see, a president`s words matter. They can provide the confidence needed to withstand our country`s toughest challenges. There`s been an absence of leadership the past four years. Fortunately for all of us we are witnessing its return. In a few moments, President Biden will deliver his address to the nation on the solemn anniversary of our country`s fight with COVID-19.

And joining me now are: Valerie Jarrett, former Obama White House adviser, and newly announced chair of the board of directors of the non-profit Civic Nation, NBC news presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

Thank you both for being here. Really glad to talk to you both this evening. It`s kind of perfect.

Let me start by asking each of you to weigh in on what do you think the import of tonight will be for the country and for President Biden himself?

And, Michael Beschloss, if you could begin.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Joy, I think this is an evening that we`ll remember for a long time and probably our grandchildren will be learning about because this is a moment where you see a president using what the presidency is supposed to be, as Valerie well knows. Presidency gives the president a big platform to have a lot of influence and that gives him an opportunity, just as you were showing with FDR`s fireside chat in 1933, he was explaining why the banks had failed, what he was going to do about it and what people could expect.

And at the same time, we expect our very powerful presidents to mobilize the federal government to deal with problems. What we haven`t seen over the last year was a president who was doing that, mobilizing every resource available to him to try to end the pandemic as quickly as possible and relieve suffering and fix the economy. Tonight, we`re seeing both of those things.

REID: Yeah. Yeah. We got to hear that Atlantic accent that Americans don`t use anymore.

BESCHLOSS: Right, I`m restraining myself for my bad FDR imitation.

REID: Same.

Valerie, you know, President Obama is a person that was uniquely able in these moments to rise to that occasion. Obviously, you worked for him and he had that oratorical skill that could bring the country together and sort of make a moment big.

You also know Joseph Robinette Biden very well. He`s a different kind of speaker. I`m fascinated to know what your expectations are of him tonight.

VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Good evening, Joy, and thanks for having me come on.

I think tonight will feel like a good shot in the arm literally. I think President Biden is pitched perfect at empathy, understanding what we`ve been through as a country this last dreadful year. The death toll, the toll on our economy, the toll on our spirits and he will lift us up and he will chart a path forward.

It was a huge victory for him to get that relief package through, signing that into law, will go right to the American people who have been struggling the most. Those who have been worrying about unemployment, paying rent, putting food on the table, sending their children back to school safely, our small businesses that have been struggling. The package will help so many, including state and local governments, something I know the president fought hard for knowing how important that was back in 2009 when the recovery act was passed.

And so, I think we have been waiting for this moment and similar to FDR, it gives him a chance to say this is tough but we are tough. We are resilient and we`re going to move forward, and he has the organization around him, confident period who have proven what they can do in times of great stress and challenge. And so, it`s a great, great platform. This is just the beginning. From here he`ll go around the country and talk about it directly to the American people and that`s important too.

REID: Yeah. I wish it was going to be on a train. My weird, romantic notions of politics, I wish on a train, but I get that it can`t be.

You know, Michael, you and I talked a lot about this. I mean, we`ve had so many different kinds of presidents in the United States. They define an era, and each of them sort of an avatar for a certain thing. The ad council has put a bunch of it all in one ad with one notable exclusion, with the just previous president. Donald Trump is not here.

Here are the other living presidents all sending a message about the vaccine together. It`s a remarkable ad. I`m going to play a little bit of it now.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This vaccine means hope. It will protect you and those you love from this dangerous and deadly disease.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve lost enough people and we`ve suffered enough damage.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In order to get rid of this pandemic, it`s important for our fellow citizens to get vaccinated.

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m getting vaccinated because we want this pandemic to end as soon as possible.

OBAMA: So, we urge you to get vaccinated when it`s available to you.

BUSH: To roll up your sleeve and do your part.

CLINTON: This is our shot.


REID: Even Jimmy Carter came out. I mean --

BESCHLOSS: Absolutely.

REID: -- which way to feel about this, Michael? Donald Trump not being there with those other presidents, whoever you think about them, you knew in their core that they loved the country and thought they were doing the right thing for the country. Would his inclusion have marred it and would have been helpful to have him there because there`s just a certain part of the country that only he can reach?

Of course, we know he got his vaccine. He and his wife in secret, so there is no video of it. So, I guess he couldn`t have been in it. What do you think?

BESCHLOSS: That`s the problem. I mean, you know, any other group of former presidents, you know, it would be nice just as it is here to see presidents of both parties and all sorts of different records and views. How on earth could we have brought Donald Trump into that commercial? Someone who did not use the federal government properly over the last year, who never bothered to give a speech explaining what was really happening and mourning the loss of now over half a million of our fellow Americans.

And so the result is that the former presidents club does not admit just anyone, and I think Donald Trump by his behavior is essentially exempting him. It`s a little bit about what President Biden said about giving intelligence briefings to Trump. Most presidents get them, as Valerie knows.

How can you give it to Donald Trump? You can`t be sure that he wouldn`t take that secret information and sell it to a hostile foreign power.

REID: Such a sad statement, really, to have a living former president that is just sort of not useful, you know?


REID: And, Valerie, I wonder for you. Valerie, Biden`s empathy is his superpower. I will take credit for that quote. Do you think that because he`s that guy, we could put him in a group of them and he would be high fiving it and doing all that? Do you think his particular empathy gives him a chance to maybe reach those unreachable Trump people because the vaccine is just so important to all of us?

JARRETT: Absolutely. And I think he will be looking for trusted messengers all around the country who can help him deliver that message. It`s not all on him to do it. They made it very clear in the campaign and he`s been true to his word that he`s going to reach out because he considers himself the president of all America.

And I think -- I`ll tell you in the eight years I had the honor of serving in president Obama`s administration, there wasn`t a single time we called a former president regardless of party, where they didn`t say what could we do for the country, because of love of country. So I think that President Biden shares that love of country and it is contagious and he will use every platform possible to communicate that, including the huge bully pulpit that he has during primetime tonight. I think that every American who tunes in will feel he`s speaking to them.

REID: Indeed. Last question to you, Michael.

The former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller said that Trump is responsible for the one -- this is on a completely different subject -- for the January 6th insurrection. Let me play it quick if we have time.


INTERVIEWER: Do you think the president was responsible for what happened on the 6th?

CHRISTOPHER MILLER, FORMER ACTING DEFENSE SECRETARY UNDER TRUMP: I don`t know, but it seems cause and effect, yeah. The question is, would anybody has marched on the Capitol and overrun the Capitol without the president`s speech? I think it`s pretty much definitive that wouldn`t have happened.


REID: Michael Beschloss, I have to ask you this every time I`m with you. Have you ever seen anything like this in your life? An acting defense secretary saying the president was responsible for an insurrection.

BESCHLOSS: He`s just saying what we know to be the truth. Donald Trump tried to take away our democracy on the 6th of January. He tried to incite an insurrection, an attack on Congress and the Capitol that could have killed members of Congress, led to a hostage crisis and maybe he hoped suspended Joe Biden`s inauguration. There`s nothing a president can do that`s worse than that.

REID: Yeah, unbelievable. Yeah, worse than that.


Valerie Jarrett, Michael Beschloss, yeah, thank you -- thank you very much. That`s tonight`s REIDOUT. We are moments away from President Biden`s first primetime address to the nation. Thank you both.

And we bring to you now -- here`s Chris Hayes with a special edition of "ALL IN WITH AMERICA".

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": Good evening from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. We`re here tonight.

The president will speak tonight to mark the one year anniversary of the COVID pandemic. A couple minutes from now not far from where I stand, President Biden will address an America that may finally be turning the corner.



HAYES (voice-over): Now in this first early light you can see how this struck all of us together and separately. We were a nation divided by race, by gender, by economics, by politics. The virus exposed those fissures, worked its way into the cracks and left us more divided, more isolated, more afraid of each other.