The vaccine is here, but a growing number of Republicans don`t want it even as the CDC warns of another surge as more Americans insist on turning spring break destination into COVID hot spots. There is a new report on foreign election interference. GOP Senator Mitch McConnell threatens scorched earth in Senate. GOP Senator Ron Johnson doubles down on racist rhetoric. Johnson says, might have been concerned if Capitol mob was BLM or Antifa. Democratic Senator Menendez accuses Senator Johnson of using bigoted tropes to toke fear of black Americans. GOP Senator Ron Johnson defends Capitol insurrectionists. Minnesota police link umbrella man to white supremacy group. GOP Senator Johnson defends Capitol insurrectionists, says unlike BLM activists they love this country. FBI says, 300-plus Capitol insurrection arrests so far. FBI says, white supremacist ideology forms the biggest chunk of U.S. violent extremism.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: It is the Dark Knight. I really don`t think you can go any better than that great Joker story. But what do you think the best Batman foes of all time? You can reach out @arimbelber on social media, that`s @arimelber on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Let`s have the all-time Batman debate.
And keep it locked right now, "THE REIDOUT" with Joy Reid is up next.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. It`s another packed show tonight. We`re following breaking news from the nation`s Capitol. A newly declassified U.S. intelligence report confirms that Russian President Vladimir Putin did indeed try to boost Donald Trump`s campaign ahead of the 2020 election. And the report debunks Trump and his administration`s claim that China tried to do the same for Joe Biden, finding that note, China did not seek to influence the election.
Also, Mitch McConnell is threatening to scorch the earth if Democrats get rid of the filibuster. As if he hasn`t already laid waste to the United States Senate. Later in the show, I`ll be joined by the perfect guest to discuss McConnell`s intimidation tactics, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. And he has a lot to say about old Mitch.
But we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with -- this evening with the deep hole that Ron Johnson continues to dig for himself. The Republican senator from Wisconsin is doubling down on his experiment in making the quiet part really, really loud, last week when he said he would be more afraid if the violent insurrection on January 6th had been led by Black Lives Matter protesters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): On January 6th, I never felt threatened. I knew those were people that loved this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break a law and so I wasn`t concerned.
Now, had the tables been turned, Joe, this could mean trouble, had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been little concerned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: It`s no surprise that Johnson`s remarks provoked the national outcry, including justified accusations of racism, even from the floor of the United States Senate. Here`s Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): Look, I get no one likes to be called racist, but sometimes there`s just no other way to describe the use of bigoted tropes that for generations have threatened black lives by stoking white fear of African-Americans and black men in particular.
One of our colleagues to cast those who attack the Capitol as harmless patriots while stroking fear of black Americans is like rubbing salt in an open wound.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: But Ron Johnson says the left is trying to silence him. And he`s saying so in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, a paper with a circulation of 3 million readers. Yes, Ron Johnson wants us to believe the United States senator and a darling of right wing media, someone with a press staff in a salary of $174,000 a year, he wants us to believe that he is being censored.
Now, far from silent, Ron Johnson is on a media blitz to defend the indefensible. He`s done at least three interviews since yesterday. And even though he said he knew his remarks would get him into trouble, he now claim he`s surprised that anyone would dare think of him or his comments as racist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON (voice over): I completely did not anticipate that anybody could interpret what I said as racist. It`s not.
There is nothing racial about my comments, nothing whatsoever.
It`s completely been blown out of proportion. There was nothing racial in my comments whatsoever.
I think it`s pretty obvious and true and even innocuous statement that I made, never anticipated that they would turn that into what they always turn the debate into, racism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: And why did you say you knew they would get you in trouble, Ron? Not only is Ron Johnson trying to play the victim, he`s also defending his ridiculous assertion that Black Lives Matter is far scarier than the violent mob of armed insurrectionists, you know, the people who love this country and respected law enforcement that just happened to have a noose with them when they strolled into the Capitol to hang Mike Pence.
In doing so, he`s trying to concoct a vast left wing conspiracy equating Black Lives Matter with the usual right wing boogieman like Antifa and the so called radical left. In his op-ed, Johnson writes we should all be disgusted at the cynical way Antifa and others left hide behind the banner of equality. He claims this isn`t about race, this is about riots. The rioters who burned Kenosha weren`t of any one ethnicity, they were united by their radical leftism.
The whole column is frankly incoherent, honestly. For example, Ron Johnson cites the unrest in Kenosha as some of his alleged receipts but he conveniently leaves out Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenage militia member who was reportedly associated with the far-right extremist, the Boogaloo Boys. Rittenhouse shot and killed two Black Lives Matter protesters with an AR- 15. He was the violent one and he is now charged with double murder.
Far from being the aggressors, Black Lives Matters protesters are often the victims of right-wing violence, including in Louisville, Kentucky, where two of them were shot and one killed. And there`s no evidence that others arrested in Kenosha even identified with the loosely organized anti- fascists that Republican just hate so much, AKA Antifa, Antifa just means anti-fascists. In fact, there`s been nothing to confirm that Antifa or so called radical leftists are responsible for anything close to what Senator Ron Johnson describes.
As of October, according to the A.P., the only apparent mention of Antifa in court documents was in a single case. On the contrary, there is ample evidence that right-wing group are responsible for inciting violence that Black Lives Matter demonstration last summer, including a Boogaloo Boy who killed a federal officer in Oakland and used the peaceful protest as cover.
Now, none of that is of interest to Senator Ron Johnson, of course, because he would rather portray those of all races who dare to seek racial justice as the villains and not the MAGA mob who tried to overturn the election.
For more, I`m joined by Angela Rye, former Executive Director and Counsel for the Congressional Black Caucus, and former FBI Special Agent Clint Watts.
Clint, I`m going to start with you because there`s a long history of people like Ron Johnson pretending that civil rights was actually a conspiracy to hurt or kill white people. That`s the way that it worked in the 1960s when Jay Edgar Hoover, sort of a pre-Ron Johnson, sicked the FBI on people like Dr. King, on civil rights activists, claiming that they were conspiring and often there were anti-Semitic sort of relations so that to conspiring with Jewish communists to trick black people into thinking they wanted equality.
How is Ron -- what Ron Johnson is doing any different than that?
CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, it`s fascinating Joy. In September of 2019, I testified to the committee that Senator Ron Johnson was on. And what he was most concerned about was that there was no discussion of the extremism as being right-wing. That was his big concern that day. He just saw it as there are extremists out there and let`s talk about all sides of it. That was the entire point of his lecture that day. Yet, you could point to it and say, well, they are wearing Donald Trump hats. You would think that was logical but that`s what it was.
So it`s a two-year campaign essentially trying to create some equivalency which is not there. There`s no evidence to support it. And at the same time, this is somebody who is providing oversight by the way of the Department of Justice, providing oversight of something like the Department of Homeland Security, providing oversight of what is a very dangerous phenomenon, which is local law enforcement members having dual membership with a lot of these groups. Essentially, we see white supremacists, government militias. That is where we can`t have effective law enforcement that`s equal for all people in America.
REID: You know, and another way to look at it, Angie, is that he`s trying to undermine the investigation because he, like Donald Trump, sees the people as part of his base. You`ve got all the way back to Charlottesville. The only time you saw Antifa was when they were getting in fistfights with Nazis. That`s when you saw Antifa. We haven`t really seen them since.
But you can go all the way through Michigan, the same right-wing kinds of groups that say they`re going to kidnap the governor. You can go all the way through the Boogaloo Boys who attack -- let me show some video to our audience, if people don`t remember this. This is cut three from my producers.
Remember this. This was a Black Lives Matter protest. Where you have a guy -- this is in Minneapolis. This is during the George Floyd protests. And the person who is breaking glass and starting trouble and we saw so much of this were not Black Lives Matter people who were filming this guy, another right-wing guy. He finally gets identified. He`s a white supremacist. This kind of libel against Black Lives Matter, in your view, Angela, what is the point of it?
ANGELA RYE, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND COUNSEL, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: Well, it`s the traditional boogieman strategy, Joy, right? We know from ages of political strategy that there always has to be a bad guy. And in this instance, it is the labeling of Black Lives Matter as Antifa, as communists, as inherently dangerous as black, right? Black in and of itself is the boogieman in this country.
And so you see that whether we call them dog whistles or fog horns now, when they say things like well, I know they`re patriots and love this country, now that is all of a sudden code for domestic terrorist, MAGA hat wearers and confederates. You saw all of those flags, the Trump 2020 flag interchanged with the confederate flag, interchanged with -- I`m sorry, substituted for an American flag on the Hill that day on January 6th.
And so for Ron Johnson to say, you know, he wants to talk about riots, well, then let`s. Let`s talk about riots. Let`s talk about how police officers would turn a blind eye to what happened on Capitol Hill, would turn a blind eye to racial uprising and riots from domestic terrorists who look more like Ron Johnson than look like me or you, Joy. Let`s talk about riots and let`s talk about the outcome from the riots. But most of all, let`s talk about what it means to really protect black lives in this country and stop with the dangerous labeling. That`s what we really need to talk about.
REID: You know, and, Angela, just to stay with you for a moment, I mean, you were talking to people that day, the day of the January 6th insurrection, people you knew, staffers. Did any of them report you that Ron Johnson walked out and met those protesters and talk to them? I also think he`s a bold-faced liar. He was scared with everybody else and running with everybody else. As far as I can see, he was running, not standing there and having a little elocution with his friends.
RYE: Yes. No, Joy. And I think the reality of it is so many of them did not know what was going on. They knew who was there. But, you know, there is this convenient misremembering of what actually happened. And now the fact that these folks were patriots and they were just upset and I wanted to go out there and say I feel your pain, no, you didn`t. Because you didn`t know who was coming in, how they were getting in and there were a lot more Eugene Goodmans around that helped to save people like Senator Ron Johnson and many of his colleagues.
It didn`t matter what party you were that day. People just were trying to survive and figure out what was going on whether, you were on the Republican side of the aisle or you`re on the Democratic side of the aisle. Everybody got the same alerts from their cell phones telling them to shelter in place, to stay right where they were because they didn`t know when these folks or how these folks were going to get in the building. That`s the truth. So he can have whatever kind of convenient memory he wants but the truth is racism is as racism does, and that`s exactly what it did on January 6th.
REID: Clint, let`s talk about -- Clint let`s talk about this investigation. 900 search warrants, 15,000 hours of surveillance and body camera footage, 210,000 tips, 80,000 witness interviews, 300 suspects charged. This is like the largest investigation that we have seen in modern U.S. history. In your view, how far does this go? You just were doing a long tweet about the really lengthy investigation about Russian attacks on our election. We got a lot of detail. Are we going to get this kind of forensic detail on this, do you think, ultimately?
WATTS: I do, Joy. One of the funniest things about this scenario is, for these perpetrators, is they`re also the anti-mask perpetrators. So there`s an overwhelming body of evidence of the acts that they committed. I mean, we know who they are. We figure it out all the time.
The other thing that you`re starting to see from the FBI is criminal complaints that they`re lodging is they are using evidence that is being gathered from other people that are being arrested from other search warrants that they`re doing and electronic surveillance. And so you`re matching up the threads of evidence now. This is how you build toward a conspiracy case.
We also see in several cases, particularly the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, two investigations that already seemed to be scaling. Meaning that there`s communication, resourcing, coordination, you`re seeing all the elements that could be a broader conspiracy case.
I think the next part is that this will go on for months. You know, watching the public reaction, yes, they want justice. For the FBI to do this many arrests in such a short period, to go through that many thousands of hours of footage, to go all around the country and just identify these people where they`re at, arrest them, bring them in, I can`t imagine a case load that has been larger any time in U.S. history, really, than what they have to manage right now.
Even after 9/11, a devastating attack, lots of evidence and recovery, you still were looking for 19 hijackers. In this case the FBI and all the state local law enforcement are looking for thousands of Americans ultimately to try and bring them to justice.
So I know America wants this to come to fruition, but I think they`ll be patient. This will go on at least the rest of the year, I would imagine.
REID: Yes. Let me play Chris Wray, the FBI Director. He testified last year about the threat of white nationalist terrorism. And this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: What I can tell you is that within the domestic terrorism bucket, category as a whole, racially motivated violence extremism is, I think, the biggest bucket within that larger group. And within the racially motivated violent extremism bucket, people ascribing to some kind of white supremacist-type of ideology is certainly the biggest chunk of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Just a real quick response from both of you. We`re short on time, but, Clint Watts, first to you and then Angela. How prepared is the federal government, do you think, for this threat going forward from your point of view, Clint, and also from your point of view, Angela, how prepared are Black Lives Matter and black voters matter related groups, because you`re not just confronting people who don`t (INAUDIBLE), they`re actually confronting violence and intentionally potentially deadly violence? So, Clint, you first.
WATTS: Across the FBI, I`m sure the federal government, DHS, they`re overcapacity. Now, they have to investigate the crime that happen that happen on January 6th, while also trying to preempt a scattering and reshaping white supremacist and anti-government and conspiracy based domestic terrorism of threat. There are not enough resources to do both of those at the same time, and they probably could use a lot of support from the Senate Homeland Affairs Committee that keeps dragging them out there to testify.
RYE: Just really quickly, what I would say to you, Joy, is there`s a role the government has to play in preparing these groups who are doing the work of the Lord, trying to ensure that people can vote, that people can survive and that people can thrive in this country, the folks who built this country.
And so, what we really need to see is a response from local, state and federal law enforcement by info sharing and the same people, right, who are on Capitol Hill on January 6th, that means that some of them can`t be a part of law enforcement agencies because they`re not sharing information to the good and for the protection of these groups who do the work every day. They`re actually sharing that information to cause harm. You saw that as exhibit A on January 6th.
And so in addition to information sharing and coordination with all those government entities, they have to get people in there who have the right intention. That`s the bottom line.
REID: Yes, indeed, indeed. Angela Rye, Clint Watts, thank you both very much. I appreciate you.
And up next on THE REIDOUT, long overdue relief for struggling families is starting to arrive. We will talk about what needs to happen next, including the $15 minimum wage.
Plus, Mitch McConnell is really very, very worried that Democrats are actually going to reform the filibuster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin, can even begin to imagine for the completely scorched earth Senate would look like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Yes. We can. Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has some thoughts on that and he will join me live.
And Republicans pivot from anti-mask to anti-vax. That`s just part of their deadly stew of misinformation. Even worse is the premature push to declare the pandemic over encouraging everyone to get out there and party.
THE REIDOUT continues after this.
J. REID: A black-owned union shop in the Philly suburbs was the opening -- it was the opening stop today on President Biden`s tour to promote the American Rescue Plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But 300,000 Pennsylvanians lost jobs; 100 million people are going to be getting -- not a joke -- a check for $1,400, which could change their lives.
And I think you should be aware, more help is on the way, for real.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. REID: President Biden also pointed out how close the bill came to not passing, thanks to every single Republican senator who voted against it, including Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey, who called the bill a liberal wish list, and claimed that the economy has been -- has come roaring back, so who needs a stimulus?
That doesn`t in any way reflect the actual reality on the ground; 7.3 percent of Pennsylvania`s are unemployed as of January; 7 percent of adults in the state have reported not having enough to eat, with 30 percent reporting having difficulty paying for typical household expenses, according to the U.S. census.
And in background provided to reporters today, the White House notes the 20 percent of the state`s renters, 20 percent, are behind on their rent.
Joining me now is Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman. He`s running for the Senate seat currently held by Pat Toomey, who is stepping down.
It is convenient, sir, that Pat Toomey is sort of doing that kind of drive- by hit on his own state on his way out the door. He was Club For Growth. And he obviously doesn`t care about giving people benefits.
But what do you make of the fact that he`s not even getting reelected? So, there`s no -- I don`t know what the political incentives were, but that he just said no to this?
LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): Well, let me just say, we`re going to miss Pat. We really are.
And he said that it`s a liberal wish list. But, yes, there is a lot of liberal wish list stuff on that. Like, imagine that. People who can`t pay rent are going to be able to stay in their homes. And people that haven`t had enough food to eat during the pandemic are going to get help.
You`re going to get a stimulus check for those that have been unemployed. I mean, it is -- if you call that a wish list, I call that reality.
And Pennsylvania showed up big for Joe Biden. And Joe Biden showed up big for Pennsylvania today. This is a game-changing piece of legislation. To quote Joe Biden, this is a BFD. I mean, obviously, I can`t say it like he did, but -- when he said that about Obamacare, but it really is.
I mean, this is one of the most monumental pieces of legislation in the 21st century. And I`m grateful that Pennsylvania had a part in that. And Pat Toomey, as you said, on his way out, is just like just one last bitter swing at the fact that there`s talk about the Senate race.
Like, you know who can`t get elected in Pennsylvania? Pat Toomey. That`s why he`s going to retire, not because he wants to spend more time taking up a hobby. It`s because Pennsylvania doesn`t want what he`s trying to sell. They wanted what Joe Biden`s trying to sell.
And, today, Joe Biden came full circle and honored his commitment to help the everyday Pennsylvanian. And he did it in a grand slam fashion.
J. REID: Well, you are -- because you`re running for that Senate seat, I can ask you some sort of political questions, because, I mean, here`s the thing.
Pennsylvania has swung, kind of, swung. It was a Trump state in 2016, for a lot of different reasons, and, very narrowly, and then went back to Joe Biden, who has roots in Pennsylvania, et cetera.
When you -- campaigning statewide, I mean, there is a sense that there is a -- particularly a white working-class voter who cares more about cultural issues than money or than, like, the economy. Or is that true?
When presented with all of the sort of income that is going to come into -- 85 percent of American taxpayers are going to get a check of some level, is that actually powerful politics in a state like Pennsylvania still?
FETTERMAN: Well, certainly, there`s going to be Republicans and people across Pennsylvania that are unreachable, that, for whatever reason, they just don`t want to be part of mainstream society or they view people in a way that is just -- they`re just not reachable.
But the billions of dollars that the American Rescue Plan is going to deliver to Pennsylvania is going to benefit red county Pennsylvania, perhaps more than blue county Pennsylvania, and people are going to see that and they`re going to understand that.
Some of the hardest-hit counties in all of Pennsylvania are deep red. And it`s a disgrace that not one single Republican in our delegation voted for the American Rescue Plan, but eight out of nine of them voted to say that the election was fraudulent in Pennsylvania and in this country.
I mean, that tells you all you need to do about the Republicans -- know about the Republicans right there, that -- and they will be the first ones to show up at a ribbon-cutting or say to their constituents...
J. REID: Right.
FETTERMAN: ... well, we have this aid in this government, and all -- and my constituents are going to stay in their homes. It`s reprehensible.
And, again, think about that. Not one of them voted for their constituents and this bill, but eight out of nine of them voted to say that Pennsylvania was -- the election was rigged, even though they were on the same ballot.
That`s our GOP right now, unfortunately.
J. REID: Yes.
If you put the $15-an-hour minimum wage on the ballot right now, raise the minimum wage, would that pass in Pennsylvania?
FETTERMAN: Hundred percent. Hundred percent, it would pass.
And that`s one of the things about the bill that left me heartbroken. This idea that a body of elected officials that make $174,000 a year, a majority of them say that you don`t deserve to make at least $31,000 a year working full-time, often in jobs that are really not very glamorous and very difficult.
I think that`s a tragedy. Pennsylvania wants a minimum wage increase. And we have, again, a Republican-controlled legislature that says $7.25 An hour is OK. And we in Pennsylvania know that a $15-an-hour minimum wage attaches a dignified paycheck to the dignity that all work has.
And we have to bypass...
J. REID: And...
FETTERMAN: I`m sorry.
J. REID: And there was another thing your Pennsylvania legislature has been up to, has been trying to restrict the vote and make it harder for places like Philadelphia to vote, because that was -- again, you said it -- a lot of Republicans voted to say, no, the election was fraudulent, except not my own personal election, just the Trump one.
Do you think that that is going to become law, that it`s going to get harder and harder to vote in Pennsylvania, particularly for Pennsylvanians of color? Is that coming?
FETTERMAN: Unfortunately, they certainly tried, but -- which is more bizarre, because the vote-by-mail law was actually very much a Republican bill. It was unanimously supported by Republicans.
And, of course, they had to change their tune when the president, then President Trump, came out against it. But the good news is that that bill, what they`re trying to do is going to die under the veto pen of Governor Wolf. And there`s no chance that vote by mail is going to go away, thankfully, because we have the votes on out side to block that.
And the governor would certainly veto that. And the Republicans know that. But just understand the only reason that Republicans voted to agree to vote by mail is because they wanted to get rid of the straight party voting option, which made voting easier and quicker in predominantly black urban areas like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
They thought that was the Holy Grail, where they could just say, all right, we will give this up. And then, when it backfired on them, they had buyer`s remorse. And now they are against it before they were for it.
But, fortunately, the governor is going to veto that, if it ever makes it out of the legislature.
J. REID: We will keep an eye on it.
Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, really good of you to come on tonight. Really appreciate you. Thank you.
And still ahead: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is threatening a scorched-earth Senate if Democrats mess with the filibuster.
We will ask former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid what that means and what Democrats can do about it -- next on THE REIDOUT.
J. REID: Looking at the TQP, you know, the Trump QAnon Party, you would have no clue really what they stand for, but you sure do know what they`re against.
They`re against stimulus checks for struggling Americans. They`re against additional tax cuts that might help lift families out of poverty. They`re against affordable health care. They`re against more people voting. They`re against fixing the broken immigration system, and they`re against fixing our crumbling infrastructure network.
In other words, they`re against the very things that polls show are exactly the things a majority of Americans want. And Democrats are increasingly growing tired of Republican obstruction.
Take, for example, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. Yesterday, the Senate stalwart said it was time to change the filibuster rules.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): This is what hitting legislative rock bottom looks like. Today`s filibuster has turned the world`s most deliberative body into one of the world`s most ineffectual bodies.
We are like the giant in "Gulliver`s Travel," tied down by our own legislative red tape, unable to respond to crises and the clear wishes of the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. REID: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who changed the filibuster rule without a second thought back in 2017 so he could ram through conservative Supreme Court nominees, well, he didn`t like what he was hearing.
So, today, McConnell poked his head out of his shell to threaten Democrats, if they go ahead and change the rules.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin, can even begin to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like. This chaos would not open up an express line to liberal change. It would not open up an express line for the Biden presidency to speed into the history books.
The Senate would be more like 100-car pile-up. As soon as Republicans wound up back in the saddle, we wouldn`t just erase every liberal change that hurt the country. We`d strengthen America with all kinds of conservative policies, with zero, zero input from the other side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
J. REID: Joining me now is former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, best last name in the political business, I`m just going to say.
And, Senator Reid, is that a real threat? Because the reality is, Republicans are against -- what are they going to do ,reverse the Civil Rights Act of 1964, completely reverse the Voting Rights Act, get rid of Medicare and Social Security? And they tried it with Obamacare.
I seem to remember in his home state, Mitch McConnell`s home state, Matt Bevin, the governor there, tried getting rid of Obamacare and got bounced by the voters.
Is it a real threat, do you think, from McConnell?
FMR. SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): McConnell is facing reality, and it bothers him a lot.
The filibuster is on its way out. It`s not a question if. It`s a question of when it goes away. May not be tomorrow. It may not be six months from now. But the filibuster is doomed to failure.
You cannot have a democracy that record 60 percent of the vote on everything. And that`s what the Republicans have done. They have made a mockery of what the Senate should be.
H. REID: For example, Lyndon Johnson was -- Lyndon Johnson was the leader for six years. During that period of time, he had overcome to filibuster.
My first year, six years as leader, I had to overcome more than 100 filibusters. So, pile -- the car pile-up that McConnell is talking about is already there. They have created it.
J. REID: Well, and the filibusters that Lyndon Johnson faced were largely around civil rights. And the old Dixiecrats that used to do that are now the Republicans. Like, that is now the Dixiecrat party, and they are against anything that`s progressive.
But you were quite at politics when you were in the game. Could any Republican senator get reelected for getting rid of things like Obamacare, and getting rid of Medicare, and getting rid of Social Security, and banning abortion, the things they say they want to do?
If they did them, wouldn`t they then be immediately removed by the voters?
H. REID: Of course.
You cannot -- we passed Obamacare on Christmas Eve. We got every Democratic vote we needed, just barely got it. It was first time we have met on Christmas Eve in 150 years. But Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, has been wide -- widely popular throughout America. Republicans like it.
Independents like it. And, of course, Democrats overwhelmingly like it. So, Mitch McConnell is crying crocodile tears that nobody cares, because what he has done to the Senate is a mockery of what the Senate used to be.
When they were in control of the Senate, they didn`t allow any amendments. There was certainly no votes on anything other than judges. That`s all they did. And we now have a Democratic majority. Even it`s a close majority, but we control it because of Kamala Harris as vice president.
And I`m sure that is -- we have Mitch McConnell crying, oh, it`s going to be terrible if you get rid of the filibuster.
H. REID: But the country is better off having a real democracy, not a fake democracy. Sixty percent is not a democracy.
J. REID: Let`s talk a little bit about the Democrats, then, because it -- you`re right.
And not all the Democrats agree. There are some Democrats -- and it isn`t just Joe Manchin. We talk a lot about him. But he -- as the sort of underboss of the party, in some ways, he seems like he`s running the joint.
But it`s other people. It`s Mark Warner. It`s Kyrsten Sinema, Jacky Rosen, Jack Reed, Leahy and others, who don`t want to get rid of the filibuster. There are some who are open to change. The majority are open to change.
And there are only four, Sherrod Brown, Ben Cardin, Richard Blumenthal, and Tammy Baldwin, who are just like, kill it altogether.
How do you get them to come on board, the ones who are reluctant to get rid of, who are afraid that Republicans will come in and just vote out the Civil Rights Act if they get the majority?
H. REID: All over the world, we have parliaments that the majority rules.
Take Great Britain, for example. What the majority party wants, they get most of the time. There`s nothing wrong with that. That`s what democracy is all about.
And I think that people are not aware of the fact that our country is not working well. We have a lot of things we need to get done. The American Rescue act, we got it done because of a reconciliation. Well, we can only do that once more this whole Congress.
We have got a lot of things we need to get done. We need to get infrastructure, great jobs when we have curating roads, highways, bridges, dams, water systems, sewer systems. We can`t do that with the filibuster. We can`t get 60 votes on stuff like that, because the Republicans have already said they`re going to pose everything Biden wants.
J. REID: Well, and it`s not -- to get the numbers correct, it`s 19 who apparently want to kill it -- sorry -- 19 who want to kill it, not four.
How would you do it? If the filibuster was going to be killed, procedurally, how would you do it?
H. REID: Only need a majority vote. I created that. The president then -- we only need a simple majority.
J. REID: Just a simple majority? Okay. And short of that --
H. REID: You only need -- you only need -- you only need a simple majority to get rid of the 60-vote threshold.
J. REID: And so let`s say if they -- you couldn`t get the 60 votes. Is there something -- 51 votes, is there something short of killing it altogether that you think would fix this problem? Is there some other way to change the filibuster?
H. REID: Well, we have a number of people, Al Franken called me today. He`s been talking to Joe Manchin. They were talking about having a modified filibuster where you have to stand for a certain period of time, and then when they got tired of standing, they would have a majority vote.
So people are concerned about it. And know it has to change. I`m glad there`s some conversation being conducted right now as we speak.
J. REID: Well, we shall see. I hope that they listen to you and Al Franken, because it does absolutely I think need to go. We`ll see what happens.
Senator Harry Reid, always great to talk to you. Thank you very much.
And still ahead, Florida`s -- thank you. Florida`s governor has put some of his city`s mayors in a tight spot as spring breakers with little concern for COVID flood the state. Tonight`s absolute worst is next.
Stay right there.
REID: There`s a reason you`re feeling fatigued, stressed and isolated. You have been trying to survive a pandemic for more than a year and doing everything you can to keep your family and yourself alive and safe. And it certainly doesn`t help that a segment of the population is acting like the pandemic is over, simply because they`re tired of it too.
They don`t want to wear a mask so no one should. They don`t like the lockdown orders or having their lives disrupted or being told what to do as if anybody does. So, you know, they`re acting like they`re special, right? They`re special.
They`re more special than you or your life or your loved ones and therefore, this entire pandemic and the half a million dead in this country alone, they simply blow that off as no big deal. Who cares? I`m doing what I want.
Which is exactly what North Dakota Republican Senator Kevin Cramer said this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND): I am perplexed by this administration`s desire to keep this pandemic going. Governor DeSantis knows better than anybody in Washington, D.C., whether Florida is ready to be open. I trust his judgment and hope people get on airplanes and go to Florida. I know I`m going to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: OK. First of all, anyone who trusts the judgment of Mr. Open up Disneyworld in the middle of a pandemic, Mr. Concierge vaccines for the rich, Ron DeSantis, has some serious soul-searching to do. But also have we not learned anything since last March, have we not learned yet that this, folks sprinkling (ph) off Florida and Texas for spring break, to bask in margarita-filled delirium, where there are no mask mandates that maybe this is a bad idea?
Trust me, SPF 50 will not protect you from COVID-19 and neither will the lies. But here they are. Sprinkling across the country like evil ferry dust thanks to Tucker Carlson, who shear commitment to harm FOX viewers, include slamming the vaccine the same week his boss Rupert Murdoch got the shot.
Now, Tucker, I don`t know who hurt you. But this game you`re playing isn`t just dangerous. It`s deadly. And your very own company knows it which is why today, Fox Corporation`s CEO told staffers they won`t return to the office before September. They`ll work from home.
I wonder why that is. Hm. Oh, that`s right. COVID can kill you.
And now researchers at John Hopkins, real scientists, have released a study showing that Republican-led states have the highest death rates from July 4th through mid-December. Researchers, again, scientific researchers, not political snake oil peddlers, link these higher death rates with Republicans being less stringent about safeguards.
This isn`t all happens because people are selfish or reckless, though that is a part of it. This is an orchestrated campaign to spread COVID disinformation fuelled by political ambition, by ratings, by profits, with no regard for its impact on our nation. The lives upended and the lives that we`ve lost and, by the way, zero regard for these media hacks` own audiences, the people who trust them the most. Which is why the COVID denier industrial complex is the absolute worst.
REID: COVID deniers have gone from anti-masks to anti-vaxx, throwing a wrench in the pandemic fight. The vaccine is here, but a growing number of Republicans don`t want it. Even as the CDC warns of another surge as more Americans insist on turning spring break destination into COVID hot spots.
Joining me now is Dr. Zeke Emanuel, a former member of President Biden`s COVID response transition team.
And, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, did I horrify you as much as it horrified me to see Florida just breaking out in spring break festivities of the past week when local mayors like the Miami-Dade mayor saying, please, don`t come here, and here they came? Is this the scene of other outbreak when those kids get back on plane and fly home, wherever they`re from?
DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL, FORMER MEMBER, BIDEN`S COVID RESPONSE TRANSITION TEAM: Well, it`s very worrisome, Joy, as you point out, this is a rerun of what happened last year, where people kept coming to Florida at the start of the first pandemic, the first surge of the pandemic, and you have to be worried not just because people are coming together, are going to spend a lot of time together, but that these new variants that are much more infectious and more deadly are worrisome. So spending time could be worse than it was a year ago and that -- that is a big concern and you know, we`ve warned about it. I think you see the head of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, also warning about it.
REID: You know, it`s ironic that you have people on the right claiming it`s president Biden trying to prolong the vaccine. That`s what`s prolonging the pandemic, that`s what`s prolonging the pandemic, if people would for six weeks, you know, have some discipline, we could be out of it, but they won`t. I wonder if you -- how much you think Trump could influence this?
Trump went on Maria Bartiromo show this evening. And, you know, he got his vaccine in secret. He didn`t want everybody getting together and PSA`ing and doing it.
But now, he said, he said out of his own mouth, people should get the vaccine. He recommends people should do it. Do you think that`s the break that we need? Because, you know, we were just talking in the break. My thought is the minute he says that, all of the Fox News and Newsmax and OAN empire will turn on a dime because they could say what he says. If he says and they switch side, is that the break-through we need?
EMANUEL: I don`t know. I think it can help. It certainly can`t hurt to have President Trump endorse it and get, admit that he got the vaccine and very much wanted the vaccine because, you know, he was in very bad shape contrary to what he was trying to portray when he got COVID.
But if you look at the Frank Luntz focus groups he did over the weekend, I didn`t look at them. I`ve read reports of it, but I also talked extensively to someone who actually watched them. It appears that the key element for these people who seem hesitant or resistant is not so much having a politician saying it, but having someone they know and trust look their local doctor.
I think maybe one of the secret weapons we haven`t used as excessively as we should have are is having doctors talk directly to their patients. Now, maybe with the J&J vaccine, that has the capacity to be refrigerated can go to doctors to administer to their own patients. Maybe that will initiate this sort of more traditional route having doctors whose patients trust say, you know, you should come in for this vaccine.
Because doctors do believe it`s the right thing to do. I do think that hyper local getting the message from someone you trust is going to be really important and I think that could be the key element here that breaks this cycle. There are in the end going to be some residual anti-vaxxers that will throw up things like vaccine cause autism or they cause Alzheimer`s or whatever, the false argument is.
But I think the vast Americans 85 percent really will end up taking this vaccine.
REID: Yeah, there are people who want to get a vaccinated for the measles. So, there are people out there.
REID: So, let`s talk about the pragmatic parts of it. It is sort of frustrating to look at the way this is being rolled out. It`s great we are hitting and meeting the target that President Biden set forth. But it is so different depending on your state. In some states you can get it if you are a teacher. In Florida, teachers are saying, hey, why aren`t we in the line? Some states you can get it at 16 and up.
Connecticut just dropped the age way down. In some states you have to be 60. It`s so varied state by state. Do you think that`s the good idea or should the CDC put out guidance that says, look if you, are an essential worker, a teacher, you should get it regardless of age, is all of the -- are all these varying rules just making it harder?
EMANUEL: Joy, I think by the tone of your question, I agree with you, which is I have always been for a centralized approach, one method, because one of the problems is it doesn`t make sense. There`s got to be one way which is better, and we should be pushing it out. Among other things, it helps creates one message. You are not tailoring the message for different groups.
It also does mean that we can agree on priority groups. I have long said, you know, healthcare workers, people over 65, they need to get it. Then we should have essential workers. We should have teachers, grocery store workers, meatpacking plant workers, other agricultural workers.
I think that should be the national standard. I think it makes it much easier. You can then look at states. How many healthcare workers they have? How many over 65. How many front line essential workers and teachers that allocate the vaccine on that basis and not on the basis --
EMANUEL: -- of the situation, which there is nothing to what you actually want to achieve.
REID: That`s right.
Do you think also kids, there`s now been some testing, I think there was a Moderna vaccine tested on kids. Shouldn`t we be vaccinating school kids? Because wouldn`t they -- if school kid, teachers, college kid got it, that seems to be the best way to get younger people vaccinated, anyone connected with a school all the way up to college?
EMANUEL: Well, first of all, it hasn`t been proven safe for children, any of the vaccines, the Moderna and J&J or the Pfizer vaccines have not been proven safe for children under 16. So Moderna has proposed it is going to run trials with children as young as six months.
Those trials are absolutely essential. For one thing, they need to figure out what the right dosage is, because we don`t know.
EMANUEL: Often we have smaller doses for smaller kids in part because their immune system is exuberant. So, I think running those trials is very, very important. I hope people enroll kids in it.
REID: All right. Zeke Emanuel, appreciate you.
That is tonight`s REIDOUT. Be sure to join me tomorrow. The special guest will be the brand new secretary of HUD, of Housing and Urban Development, Marcia Fudge, in her first interview since she was confirmed.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.