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Transcript: The ReidOut, 3/17/21

Guests: Connie Wun, Julian Castro, Marcia Fudge


Eight have been killed in Atlanta shooting spree. Biden and Harris speak out on Atlanta shootings. Shootings come amid spike in anti-Asian violence. Atlanta shooting suspect has been charged with eight counts of murder. Police says suspect was on his way to Florida. Sheriff says, suspect was having a very bad day. AAPI community in Atlanta has experienced multiple incidents of hate speech over past year. DHS secretary says U.S. immigration system is broken. Border apprehensions are on pace to be highest in 20 years. House GOP leader blames Biden for brewing border crisis. HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge is interviewed. Republicans are now admitting that they bungled on COVID relief, handing President Biden a major victory in his first few months in office.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for watching THE BEAT tonight. Thanks to all of our guests, including the kids. Will be back tomorrow at 6:00 P.M. Eastern. "THE REIDOUT" starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with a shooting spree in Atlanta that left eight people dead, including six Asian women. The rampage occurred Tuesday at three Spa locations across two counties and authorities say, the shooter was planning to continue his killing spree in Florida, in a plot to attack, quote, some type of porn industry.

The lone suspect, Robert Aaron Long, was arrested after a brief manhunt. This is his mug shot. He`s charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault. The shooter told investigators, according to an Atlanta sheriff, who spoke at a press conference earlier today, that the attacks were not racially motivated.

And, of course, it is fair to ask whether we have any reason to believe or take on its face anything that an accused spree killer says, but that`s what authorities are telling us, as of today, so for now that is the official word.

What we can`t deny however is that the shootings come during a time of increasing attack, some of them deadly, against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, something we`ve reported on extensively on this show and something both President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris herself, a member of the Asian-American Pacific Islander community, underscored today.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Whatever the motivation here, I know that Asian-Americans are in a very -- very concerned, because, as you know, I`ve been speaking about the brutality against Asian-Americans for the last couple of months and I think it is a very, very troublesome.

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: It is tragic. Our country, the president and I and all of us, we grieve for the loss. We`re not yet clear about the motive. But I do want to say to our Asian-American community that we stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged.


REID: According to data by Stop AAPI Hate, there have been nearly 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents in just the last year, 68 percent of those attacks, more than two-thirds, were against women. The Atlanta shootings have raised questions over what constitutes a racialized attack, especially for communities that are frequently absent in conversations on race, misogyny and class.

Authorities say, the shooter claimed to have a sexual addiction and saw the spa businesses as a temptation that he needed to eliminate culminating in Asian lives violently and brutally stolen, a crime that one Georgia Country official frankly shockingly characterized as the gunman having a, quote, very bad day.

Joining me now is NBC News Correspondent Blayne Alexander in Atlanta. Blayne, what is the latest you can give us?

BLAYNE ALEXANDER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joy, we certainly got a lot of information today. I`m going to tick through the points that stood out to me. The first, I want to come off the point that you spoke about, even though officials were quoting what the suspect told them as his motivation, it is important to note, when we talk about motive, officials have not ruled out race as a potential factor of this, playing some sort of role in his motivation.

You know, they say that there still very early in the investigation, despite what he says. They say that, initially, it doesn`t appear that he is saying that race is a factor but again authorities have not ruled that out as a factor.

Now, a couple of things really stood out to me. Of course, you talked about the fact that we know that there were eight people killed, six of them were Asian women. But, really, what kind of stands out is that this the whole thing unfolded over a stunning kind of spread of land that was almost 200 miles.

So where I`m standing right here in Atlanta, you see the Gold Spa behind me, this is one and just here where I`m standing only a few feet away are two of the locations that were targeted yesterday. Those are right here in the city of Atlanta.

But the spree actually started about 45 minutes to the north. That is where the first shots rang out, that`s where the first call came and that`s where four people were killed. And then it was several hours later when, you know, the suspect was apprehended, that was about two hours to the south of where I`m standing. So this man covered a lot of ground before he was ultimately picked up by authorities.

Another thing that I do want to point out though, it is rather chilling, he told officials when he was apprehended and ultimately interrogated that he was headed down to Florida by his own admission to continue his spree, that he was going to do some more shooting down there. And so, certainly, the fact that he was apprehended rather quickly ultimately likely saved some lives.

Now, a couple of things I do want to point out. You spoke about what officials are saying as his motive and he had some sort of sexual addiction. We talk about that, I think it`s very important also to add the context of in that same news conference we heard from Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, somebody who`s very familiar to our audience, and she was asked about that and she spoke specifically to the two spas here in Atlanta. And she said that as far as she knows and as far as Atlanta police know, these are operated as legal businesses. They are legally operating businesses. They haven`t had any sort of calls or any sort of complaints about them and they`re not on APD`s radar. So I do think that that`s very important to point out.

And then, finally, Joy, you mentioned those stats from Stop AAPI Hate about the number of hate crimes happening, it`s something that we`ve seen mirrored here in the state of Georgia. In fact, that same group put out data when it comes specifically to Georgia. We`ve seen more than 30 of such incidents here in the state of the majority of them targeted toward women, the majority of them verbal assaults.

But, again, we know that Georgia is an increasingly diverse state. We saw that, of course, in 2020, that, of course, means of growing Asian-American population as well, so certainly something that mirrors the national numbers as well. Joy?

REID: Really quick, Blayne, just one quick follow-up, on that two-hour timeline, do you know and is there reporting on whether or not there were already calls coming in saying that this was happening? Was this somebody who was already being sought? Because it seems like he had a lot of time to commit a lot of killings.

ALEXANDER: A very good point. So what we know is that the three shootings happened in less than an hour. So the 45 minutes to the north, officials say that he committed that crime, and then sped down here to Atlanta so while officials were still working on that crime up there, they were getting calls for these two things right here.

What happened and what allowed him to essentially apprehended a couple of hours after that is that there were seemed to be a lot of surveillance images, people up in the first shooting location, Cherokee County, were able to put out surveillance pictures and officials say that it was actually his own family members who recognized the suspect, called authorities and said, hey, we know who that is and we want to help you bring him in. So his family members actually saw him, recognized him and worked with police to get him in custody, Joy.

REID: Yes, thank you very much. Blayne Alexander, we really appreciate your reporting. Thank you.

And joining me now is Connie Wun, Co-founder of AAPI Women Lead and Attorney and MSNBC Legal Contributor Katie Phang.

And, Katie, I want to start with you, because, you know, I had my Howard University class today and their young journalists in the making, and the question I think everybody was asking, and then I think a lot of people are asking, just viewers as well, is on the subject of sort of already seeming to dismiss the idea that this was a hate crime and taking the word of the alleged shooter for it that it was not racially motivated. That bothers a lot of people. It doesn`t seem to make sense. Could you just define first, in legal terms, hate crime is a legal term, it`s an enhancement on a crime, right?


REID: But is that something that the sheriffs should be speaking about before the full investigation is done?

PHANG: So, twofold answer for you, Joy. One, I think it was irresponsible for the press conference that the sheriff`s office did today to basically promote a narrative that could potentially be false. I mean, justice may be blind but that doesn`t mean she`s stupid. And so when you put out into a potential jury pool that this shooter says that was not racially motivated, but then you hear that the shooters own family turned him in, have we heard whether enough the shooters family is going to corroborate this was not a racially motivated crime.

The cops have to do an investigation, Joy. They need to look at his social media history, his organization alliances and his affiliations. But, ultimately, the cops have charged him with eight counts of murder for the eight counts of the poor victims in this case. But then the state attorney`s office or the district attorney`s office is going to look at the evidence as well but that doesn`t preclude the sheriff`s office from actually saying that these were hate crimes, that this were racially motivated and that these were the results of the killer in this case wanting to target intentionally Asian victims.

I mean, Joy, this was not a random indiscriminate crime. This man got in his car and he went to these locations to target Asian women. And so it was -- so, again, I think it was irresponsible for law enforcement to kind to put into public consumption today the idea that this guy has a sex addiction and he a bad day. I think that dehumanizes our victims and it makes it problematic for a prosecution later on if a jury pool thinks, you know what, these were just sex workers. We haven`t heard that either.

REID: Right.

PHANG: And so it`s kind of affiliated right now, I think, from a prosecution standpoint, is really a bad idea.

REID: You know, and Connie, yes, I guess that`s what bothers me too about this press conference is, number one, taking this alleged spree killer`s word for it, what his motives were before the full investigation and then sort of only hearing his point of view and talking about he wanted to stop, quote/unquote, porn businesses and sort of casting these women as something that there`s no adjudication over what was going on or what they were doing, but almost seeming to minimize them.

And it also bothers me that we haven`t heard a lot -- you know where are the families of these women? Are there people that should be interviewed, are there T.V. interviews, are they talking, are they speaking, the people who worked in these establishments. They seem to be just silent and sort of cast aside as, well, as Katie just said, to say, well, these were sex workers. We don`t even know that that is true.

CONNIE WUN, CO-FOUNDER, AAPI WOMEN LEAD: So I appreciate you saying that. I think this moment is about, you know, the ongoing and history of hyper sexualization and sexual violence against Asian women, right? In that alongside the hyper sexualization and sexual violence is the invisiblization of our stories and our lives.

This dates all the way back from the racial and colonial wars that our communities have experience in Vietnam, in the Philippines, in Cambodia, in Korea, the sexual violence we experience overseas, abroad is cared over here. And the way that that takes place or that could actually happen is if you don`t see us as human, if you see us as only as objects for your sexual issues, I think that is what they called it, right, or his sexual addiction, right? You could only get away with that if you see us as nonhuman, right? So I think that is really is important.

I also know that, you know, these women in particular are part of a, you know, a low-wage labor workforce. That means they were labor unprotected, he also knew and what society knows that they tend to be disposable, right, especially if you`re from a stigmatized and criminalized workforce like massage parlor or sex workers, right? You`ve put us in a position -- society has put us in a position by which we are extremely vulnerable to violence and then we have the police then saying he had a good day.

Again, dismissing our lives and then lifting up his own humanity as if he gets to have a good day and the rest of us get to just die.

REID: Yes. I mean, and Katie, so just the fact that this person is allegedly saying that he`s fixated obviously on Asian women. That`s like obvious. To me, that undercuts everything else that he`s saying and fixated on their sexualization, as Connie just said. So that, you know, it negates everything else that was being said.

But I also do want to talk with this underprotection. We had all of this increasing violence directed toward Asian people, all over the country, over the last year. We saw the data. There was not more protection being deployed in these communities. There was not increased police protection. He was able to drive around for hours doing this. There have been lots of threats. Atlanta has seen increase in negative hate speech toward Asian communities also tied to the elections where Asian-Americans voted mostly for Biden. So do you think that this is a case of underpolicing, you know that sort of then meets, I don`t know, sort of police relating in a weird way to the killer or humanizing the killer, I should say?

PHANG: I think part of the problem is Georgia just is catching up with the Jones` when it comes to hate crime laws, Joy. Just last year, as of July 1st, 2020, that`s when Georgia was able to enact its hate crimes law. It was then only one of four states in the United States that did not have hate crime laws on the books.

So think about this. The last hate crime law was found to be unconstitutional in 2004. So you now have a hate crimes law that`s on the book. And if you look at fact that the shooter is saying that he was targeting these particular women, then you basically meet the hate crime law statutory definition, when you target a victim for this race, their gender, their religion, their sexual orientation.

Now, in Georgia, these are enhancements on the crimes and so we`ll look forward to see what the criminal investigation turns out to tell us.

REID: Yes. I wish we had more time. We have run out of time. So we`re going to have to have you both come back. Connie Wun and Katie Phang, thank you both very much. We`ll have you back because this topic obviously is not going anywhere.

And up next, on THE REIDOUT the Biden administration`s challenge at the border with a growing surge of migrants and an opposition party only interested in demagoguery.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, DHS SECRETARY: The situation is undoubtedly difficult. We are working around the clock to manage it. We will also not waiver in our values and our principles as a nation.


REID: Julian Castro joins me on what President Biden need to do next.

Plus, the new secretary Of Housing And Urban Development, Marcia Fudge, is here for her first interview since taking over a department ravage by the previous administration.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



MAYORKAS: The migration challenge that we are facing at the southwest border is not new. And it is a reflection of the fact that our system is broken.


REID: In his testimony today, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas was forthright, even blunt, about the challenges at the southern border, saying the immigration system is broken and needs a legislative solution. It comes after he reported yesterday that the number of apprehensions at the border this year is on track to exceed the surge of 2019 and possibly reach a 20-year high.

While the Biden administration is slowly dismantling the harsh asylum policies of his predecessor, they say they`re still trying to back single - - they`re still turning back single adults and some families just not unaccompanied children.

Now, of course, Republicans have been quick to demagogue the issue for their political benefit. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy traveled to an El Paso border facility on Monday to blame the president for the influx of migrants and a Republican super PAC is now running ads accusing Biden of opening the border, echoing similar claims from GOP lawmakers who should know better. They`re all charge as Biden summarily rejected in his interview with ABC News.


BIDEN: The idea that Joe Biden said come, because I heard the other day that they`re coming because I`m a nice guy, and I...



BIDEN: Yes. Well, here`s the deal. They`re not.

The adults are being sent back, number one. Number two, what do you do with an unaccompanied child that comes to the border? Do you repeat what Trump did, take them from their mothers, move them away, hold them in cells, et cetera?

We`re not doing that.

I can say quite clearly, don`t come. And while we`re in the process of getting set up -- and it`s not going to take a whole long time -- is to be able to apply for asylum in place. So, don`t leave your town or city or community.


REID: Secondary Mayorkas already pushed back on the accusation that the recent uptick in border apprehensions represents a crisis, given what happened under the last administration.

Take a listen.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): I agree with you. It is going to be the most we have seen in 20 years. You may call that only a challenge, but I call that a crisis.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: A crisis is when a nation is willing to rip a 9-year-old child out of the hands of his or her parent and separate that family to deter future migration. That, to me, is a humanitarian crisis.


REID: Joining me now, the former secretary of housing and urban development in the Obama administration and former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Julian Castro.

And, Secretary Castro, thank you for being here. You`re in a unique position to discuss this, as a Texan, as somebody who ran HUD, and also as a former mayor of a Texas city.

Do you have a sense? Can you kind of get your arms around what is the pull right now? "The New York Times" has some reporting that some smugglers, human smugglers may be telling migrants, look, this is the time to come. Biden is a better guy than Trump. He`s going to let people through, that that is getting people to come.

Do you do know what the pull is? And you know what the push is from the Triangle countries?

JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER U.S. HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY: Well, I think what we saw over the last several years is Donald Trump (AUDIO GAP) policies like remain in Mexico.


REID: We`re having some trouble. There we go.

CASTRO: Policies like remain in Mexico.

REID: Hold on. Let`s see if we can get your audio together. Your audio is a little choppy.

So, hold on, guys, just for one second. Let`s just make sure that your audio is coming through.

Start again, if you could.

CASTRO: So, Trump left our immigration system in tatters, through policies like remain in Mexico, through metering, through Title 42, which basically allowed him to expel thousands of people, to deny them entry, including over 13,000 children.

So, he created a pent-up demand, this bubble of people who want to come in and claim asylum. And that`s part of what we`re seeing. It`s true that we have had people presenting themselves in waves. Before, we saw that under President Obama. We saw it in 2019 under Donald Trump.

But Trump weakened our ability to handle these situations. And so, basically, Joe Biden is left to pick up the pieces of a human rights catastrophe that Donald Trump left at our doorstep.

Now, the difference between the Trump administration and the Biden administration, when it comes to immigration, is that, with Joe Biden, you have someone who is competent. You have an administration that is actually taking the steps necessary to solve this challenge.

You heard Secretary Mayorkas, but, among other things, they have increased the interagency cooperation. They have cut through a lot of the red tape to actually get these children who are unaccompanied into acceptable housing facilities, and then more quickly get them to host families, so that they`re with their sponsor host families in the country, instead of in one of these facilities.

They also have done the compassionate thing, which is not to say no, not to reject an 8-year-old child or a 10-year-old child when they present themselves at the border unaccompanied. I think that reflects our values, as Americans.

I don`t consider this a crisis. I agree that it is a challenge. It is something that can be effectively managed, and that the administration is effectively managing.

REID: Well, you know, what, of course, the right does, they`re sort of back in sort of their kind of default mode, which is to portray these people as potentially terrorists. You heard Lindsey Graham basically say, these children are going to grow up to be terrorists, to do the brown scare, to say the Democrats just want to add more brown people, because they know, if they become citizens, they will vote for Democrats.

Like, all of the things that they use to gin up their base of mainly white Americans, who -- white working-class Americans who fear that their jobs are all going to be taken by these people who are -- I mean, they`re doing what they normally do.

I`m going to play just a little bit of a FOX News reporter asking Jen Psaki some questions. Take a listen.


QUESTION: Is there a limit or a cap to the number of unaccompanied minors that are going to be allowed into the U.S.?



PSAKI: So should we send some kids who are 10 back at a certain point? Is that what you`re asking me?

QUESTION: I`m -- I`m not setting the policy here; I`m just asking you what the Biden administration`s policy is.

PSAKI: Our policy continues to be: We`re not going to send a 10-year-old back across the border. That was the policy of the last administration. That`s not our policy here.


REID: There`s a poll out today, Reuters has a poll saying 22 percent of Republicans said in a poll this month they consider immigration to be the most important problem, up from 7 percent.

I mean, it`s back to the kind of the same thing that -- of a -- there is a lack of sort of compassion on the other side. It`s just a fear that more brown people will come.

How can the Biden administration manage that? Because the other side isn`t providing a political solution or offering to get on board immigration reform. They`re just saying, be afraid of these brown people.

CASTRO: Well, you`re right, Joy. I mean, this is part of their playbook. It`s something that we have seen so many times before. It is fearmongering.

And this time, they`re doing it because they can`t argue with the Biden administration in terms of serving the needs of everyday Americans. The American Rescue Plan was just passed. Vaccine distribution is going along very, very well compared to what it was under the Trump administration.

People are more confident now in the economy, and also that we`re going to get this -- past this pandemic. So, what do they do? They go to the red meat issue for their base, and they try and dehumanize these folks, many times a 12-year-old child, 16-year-old child that just is desperately trying to seek a better life.

What the Biden administration can continue to do is to manage this effectively, and to do it consistently with our values as a country, do it compassionately, with common sense, humanely.

And -- but we have to understand that Trump did everything that he could to leave our immigration system in tatters, so that it would be difficult to actually manage this. But as unprecedented as his actions were, as cruel as his actions were, when you consider how the Biden administration is handling this situation compared to the Trump administration, they`re doing it more effectively, but they`re also doing it more humanely.

And so I have confidence that they`re going to be able to handle this going forward.

REID: Yes, I mean, they`re not -- when a family shows up, and you just literally take the child from them as they`re screaming and say, that`s going to deter future people, like, that`s as cruel as it gets.

Very quickly. We`re going to have your successor, Marcia Fudge, coming up, who`s going to be HUD secretary. Do you have any advice for her, real quick, any advice for her that she`s getting this job that you used to have?

CASTRO: Yes, my number one piece of advice is fight for as many resources for affordable housing as possible, which I know she`s going to do, because she`s a great champion of it, because America sorely needs it out there.

REID: Absolutely. All right.

Julian Castro, Secretary Castro, thank you so much. Really appreciate you.

And up next, as I just went ahead and spilled the beans, a REIDOUT exclusive. Our new secretary of housing and urban development, Marcia Fudge, is here to talk about turning that department around after four years of the Florida man and his cronies trying to tear it all apart.

You do not want to miss it. Stay with us.


REID: Over the last four years, Donald Trump and his cronies found ways to damage nearly every facet of our government. No stone was left unturned, and almost no American was left untrammeled.

For instance, nearly five million households have relied on housing assistance through the Department of Housing and Urban Development over the past four years. It`s been a lifeline for low-income white and minority families to keep a roof over their heads.

And leave it to the Florida man to put someone with absolutely no housing policy experience to oversee the agency, one Dr. Ben Carson, celebrated neurosurgeon.

Unfortunately for the country, that lack of experience was readily apparent in how Carson`s gifted hands ran or ,should I say ran into the ground, this essential Cabinet department.

Instead of looking for more funds to help Americans solve their housing problems, he pushed for steep cuts to the same type of housing assistance programs that Carson said his family benefited from when he was growing up.

At the same time, he wanted to raise the rent on low-income Americans who were getting housing assistance, in some cases by three times the amount. Carson attempted to roll back the agency`s fair housing rules put in place by the Obama administration that were designed to fight discrimination against black Americans.

And instead of fixing low-income housing, as he pledged to do, the number of HUD apartments cited for unsafe and unhealthy living conditions rose.

So, who has Ben Carson been helping, or who was Ben Carson helping during all that time? Well, we do know that Carson`s own family members enjoyed some of the perks of his position. Ben Carson`s son, Ben Jr., who was not a federal employee, couldn`t stop helping out daddy, organizing a listening tour in Baltimore and inviting companies who he potentially had business dealings with to participate.

And then there was Eric Trump`s wedding planner, Lynne Patton, who somehow found herself overseeing billions of federal dollars leading HUD`s New York and New Jersey offices.

But what we should have -- what should we have expected under president Don L`orange, who was campaigning last year on supposedly saving the suburbs from the scourge of public housing and also weirdly, from senator Cory Booker?

Now, as the country faces growing public housing -- a growing public housing crisis, there`s at least an adult back in charge.

And joining me next in her first interview since her confirmation, the new secretary of housing and urban development, Marcia Fudge.



MARCIA FUDGE, U.S. HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY: My first priority as secretary would be to alleviate debt crisis and get people the support they need to come back from the edge.

We need to expand resources for HUD`s programs to people who are eligible. We need to deliver on the administration`s commitments on improving the quality, safety and accessibility of affordable housing. We need to make the dream of homeownership a reality and the security and wealth creation that comes with it.

It needs to be a reality for all Americans.


REID: Joining me now is the new secretary of housing and urban development and the first African-American woman to lead the department in more than 40 years, Marcia Fudge.

Congratulations on the gig. Thank you so much for spending your first prime-time interview with us this evening.

I have got to make you laugh.

We talked about Ben Carson in the setup. Only 16 Republicans voted to confirm you in the United States Senate. That`s -- that means that 34 more Republicans thought Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon with no experience, was more experienced than you.

You used to be a mayor. You have been a...


REID: That`s not a question. That`s just a comment.

FUDGE: Thank you.

REID: Let`s talk about the needs in terms -- in terms of low-income housing.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition stats that we have here, 7.2 million Americans -- 7.2 million more affordable housing units are needed in this country; 75 percent of extremely-low-income families pay more than half of their income in rent. One in four extremely-low-income families need assistance to rent an apartment.

What can HUD do about that?

FUDGE: Joy, this is the perfect time for me to be in this role.

As a result of the American Rescue Plan, HUD can do an awful lot. In this bill, people are talking about the $1,400 checks going to families and children, but there is 40 billion, 4-0, billion dollars in this legislation for housing assistance. There is more than $20 billion for rental assistance, more than $10 billion for homeowners` assistance.

And, Joy, it is so important right now because as we look at what has happened over the last four years, you look at the fact that only, as I saw, one in four people who qualify even have an opportunity to be housed in this country and to get help from HUD.

In the morning, we`re going to release a report. It`s called the Annual Homeless Assessment Report. That is going to show that in 2020, on a single -- any single night, more than 580,000 people in this country were homeless. That was before COVID, Joy. So the crisis is real.

So what we`re going to do now is find ways through these resources to help at minimum, 30,000 people off the streets right away. We are going to assist cities and communities to purchase housing for people who are on the street. We`re going to assist homeowners and staying in their homes and renters staying in their apartments. There is enough money here now to assist us in making sure that the situation doesn`t get any worse.

But also, Joy, and this is a big thing, the racial wealth gap is larger now than it was 50 years ago. So, we`re going to be focusing on assisting homeowner buyers with down payment assistance, with technical assistance, talking with them about making sure they have access to credit, because we historically have been left out, whether it`d be in the rental market, the home-buying market. This is our opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of people we serve.

REID: Yeah, and speaking of that, and you talked about the bill, there is already some blowback in the state of Iowa, the Republican Governor Kim Reynolds imminently could be signing a bill that would essentially block, you know, people being able to use housing vouchers. And here is what it is.

"The Des Moines Register" reports that this bill allowing -- it would allow Iowa landlords to reject applicants for using Section Eight. The Republicans are calling it a win for property rights of lands owners saying they don`t have to take the federal housing assistance vouchers. Democrats are basically saying it would allow more discrimination that you could cover under the vouchers but use it to discriminate on race.

How do you beat that kind of negative politics?

FUDGE: Well, let me just say this, Joy -- as a lawyer, what I know is that fair housing is the law. It is the law of the land. We passed a Fair Housing Act in 1968.

We also know that discrimination zoning is a violation of the law. Now if they want to get into a fight about it, we`re ready fight them about it, because the president said to me is that we`re going to find resources and build new housing. You can`t build it when they say not in my backyard. You cannot house people when they are purposely making it more difficult for people to find housing. It is a violation of the law.

REID: And so, is that -- are you talking about potential lawsuits in cases where states and -- passed laws like this? Are you saying these could be the subject of lawsuits?

FUDGE: It would certainly be my recommendation that we do it. But it is a discussion that I would not need to have with the Department of Justice. But I could clearly believe we`re within our rights to demand that these communities cooperate with what we are doing. Absolutely.

REID: And you had, during the Trump, sort of tail end of the Trump presidency in his campaign really focusing on suburbs and sort of scaring people about public housing, squaring people that Cory Booker was coming to get that. I never understood that, he`s a nice guy.

But making people afraid that anything that, you know, something like HUD, an agency like HUD could do to essentially bring more people of color in the neighborhood and somehow that is a bad thing.

Do you think that at this point, HUD could kind of be a part of changing that narrative or is that a narrative that you just have to fight through?

FUDGE: No, I think that we`re going to be a part of changing it. It was a pattern. It was a part of his practice and pattern to say to people outside of the normal core urban communities, you don`t want people like me in your backyard. I mean, it was just his practice of devaluing public housing, which he did. I mean, it is very clear that he did it.

When we look at budget for 2021, Ben Carson requested a 15 percent across the board cut. A cut. In the four years that he was in office, he lost 20 percent of the staff. So what we have now is a HUD that is understaffed and overworked, in a situation that the crisis is growing larger and more critical every day. They actually don`t care about housing.

I mean, I don`t think that the administration did anything to show us that it was a priority. It is a priority with this administration. And it is a priority with me as well.

REID: You also have in your state, the attorney general has sued to block part of the $1.9 trillion relief bill and Republican Dave Yost argues that the bill unlawfully restricts the state`s ability to use the money for tax cuts. They want to use the money for tax cuts instead of giving it to people who need it.

Your thoughts?

FUDGE: Joy, anyone who would say that people in need are less important than those who have much, which is what Dave Yost is saying, we don`t want to help people who need help, we want to help people who don`t need any help. We don`t want to do the most for those who have the least. What we want to do is make rich people richer.

It is at most despicable thing that I have seen in a long time. Why would you turn down money to help the people that you serve?

I`m from Ohio. I think it`s a great place to live. But my goal is to be sure that we treat every single individual in that state with the dignity and respect they deserve. Every single person in this country should have a roof over their head.

And so, Dave Yost, all I could say is that you are very misguided in what you are doing and it is really a shame that you would once again vilify people who are in need.

REID: Secretary Marcia Fudge, you could see already the passion for this issue. Good luck to you and thank you so much for being here this evening. Really appreciate you.

FUDGE: Thank you, Joy. It`s my pleasure.

REID: Thank you. Cheers.

Okay, well up next, Republicans are now admitting, oops, they bungled on COVID relief handing President Biden a major victory in his first few months in office.

Okay, okay, raise your hand if you think they`ve learned anything from this? Yeah, me neither.

We`ll be right back.


REID: President Biden has announced a new stop on the COVID relief tour next week. On the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, he`ll head to Ohio which happens to have a Senate vacancy in 2022. This comes as the Treasury Department announced 90 million stimulus payments have been issued.

The Biden administration is leaning into the American rescue plan which according to a poll is incredibly popular. Seventy-two percent of the public supports the plan. That same poll shows 55 percent of Americans feel the country is moving on the right direction.

Now, surprisingly, "Politico" is reporting that Republicans are now feeling like they`ve lost the messaging war. Caught flat-footed, Republicans are mounting an ex-post facto war against the money. Florida Senator Rick Scott who used to be the governor of Florida told the current Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, to return it. Send it back which DeSantis declined to do because Republicans, they may vote no, but they always take the dough.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Schumer announced that he would bring forward the Senate`s version For The People Act, a voting reform and anti- corruption bill.

Last night, President Biden signaled he was open to changing the Senate`s filibuster rules to make way for this kind of legislation.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t think you have to eliminate the filibuster. You have to do what it used to be when I first got to the Senate, and that is that the filibuster, you had to stand up and command the floor. Once you stopped talking, you lost that and someone could move in and say I move the question of. So you got to work for the filibuster.

GEORGEO STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: So, you are for that reform, bringing back the talking filibuster?

BIDEN: I am. That`s what it was supposed to be.


REID: While this news marks a shift for the president, Senate Democrats still have some work to do within their own caucus. Roughly nine Democrats have been reluctant to scrap the 60-vote filibuster threshold.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin is one of them. Earlier, he told reporters that not much could change his mind on the subject, not even Republican obstruction of the signature-voting bill. Now, we have invited Senator Manchin on this show multiple times and asked him again tonight and he declined.

And for more, I`m joined by Charlie Sykes, editor-at-large at "The Bulwark", and Michelle Goldberg, "New York Times" columnist.

All right. Charlie, I want to start with you on the stimulus bill, before we get to Joe Manchin, this is a popular bill. People like getting checks in the mail. Republicans` answer is, send the money back. We wanted to use the money for tax cuts. So, we`ll sue. You can`t use it to get housing. Nah.

I mean, this should have been a no-brainer. Money is popular. You don`t want to send the money out. What are they supposed to do?

What can they do now? Nothing? I don`t get it.

CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: They`re behind the eight ball. Looking down the barrel of the 70 percent approval ratings on not just this bill but the infrastructure bill that will be coming along, possibility of tax hikes for people above $400,000.

And this is what you get for four years of Donald Trump who obviously was not interested in fiscal restraint. I mean, you know, during those last weeks not plotting a coup, he was endorsing sending checks to Americans.

So I think that a lot of the Republicans are hoping that you would have 2009 all over again and the public turn against this but they`re not. And again, this is not an original thought, but the tell has been the fact that they are much more interested in the culture war issues than talking about smaller government, fiscal restraint.

I think they know that it would be hypocritical to talk about the debt and deficit at this point. But they clearly lost the narrative and you`re seeing how they flailing in the post-Trump era.

REID: Yeah. Their whole slogan should be, look, a brown child. That should just be it. That`s all they should put on.

Let`s talk about this voting rights bill that appears to be now Joe Manchin. Here`s senator and reverend, Raphael Warnock, calling for essentially the passage and for us to preserve voting rights.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Some politicians did not approve of the choice made by the majority of voters in a hard-fought election in which each side got a chance to make its case to the voters. And rather than adjusting their agenda. Rather than changing their message, they are busy trying to change the rules.

We are witnessing right now a massive and unabashed assault on voting rights unlike anything we have ever seen since the Jim Crow era.


REID: And yet, Michelle, the answer from Joe Manchin and eight other senators is I and we don`t care. We want the old filibuster from the old Dixiecrat era and we don`t care what anyone says.

I`m shocked by that. Are you?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I don`t know if I`m shocked but I`m despairing about it, because if we don`t fix voting rights in this country, if we don`t have some sort of democracy reform, it doesn`t matter if Democrats continue to muster the majority of the votes as they did in the last election. They`re going to lose power to a minority faction and a minority faction that is governing in the kind of extreme culture war fashion that it is precisely because they don`t have to appeal to the majority of the voters so democracy reform, it is not just that I think it would help the majority of people in this country be governed as they choose. It would also moderate some of the lunacy that we see from the Republican Party.

I at least am hopeful because Joe Manchin has shown some openness to reforming elements of the filibuster to bringing back the talking filibuster as has Joe Biden and maybe they do that and then they see that Biden`s agenda is still stymied and then maybe that inspires them to go a little bit further.

REID: We`ll see. We shall see. And Joe Manchin is welcome to come on the show any time that he`s ready.

Let`s talk about this vote for congressional gold medals for the Capitol Police. Now, this, Charlie, combines everything that the Republican supposed to love, police being honored, gold medal for police, gold is everything that they -- what? Twelve of them voted no. Twelve of them.

And out of the 12, 11 of them were people that voted to overturn the election and the complaint was that the language included, called the people who invaded the capitol a mob of insurrectionists and that the Capitol was called a temple of American democracy. Clearly, that was a problem for folks.

Can you explain this to me, please?

SYKES: Yeah, this is the hard core seditionist caucus. You know, take -- make a list of those 12 folks. Can I say something about the filibuster? I`m not so despairing about all of this.

I think that if, in fact, is the issue is the John Lewis Restoration of the Voting Rights Act, I think there`s a possibility of a carve out. Republicans decided that getting their Supreme Court nominees so important, they were going to eliminate the filibuster. Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed with only 52 votes, and Democrats could say, you know what? Restoring democracy is -- in the states is worth a carve out that would restore democracy in the Senate.

And for a bill like that, a narrow carve out, I think there`s a possibility. Remember, the voting rights act passed in 1965 with 79 votes in the U.S. Senate. It is -- we are in a weird moment where it`s not bipartisan. Not only 79 votes but then it was reauthorized under President Bush. Republicans had no problem with it.

I mean, this is a mountain I think for Democrats to die on. Challenge Republicans. Are you going to -- will you vote against the John Lewis Act? If they don`t I think a lot of people that support the filibuster might be willing to go with a carve out.

REID: Your thoughts on that, Michelle?

GOLDBERG: From your lips to God`s ear. I certainly think that -- I hope that`s the case. It seems to me that the Republican caucus is pretty united in opposition to voting rights and to democracy, frankly. I don`t see -- so, again, I hope you`re right.

Part of the problem, part of the kind of Democratic doom loop that we`re in is that you could say I challenge you to vote against the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, but when you are only beholden to a minority faction taking unpopular votes doesn`t hurt you as much.

REID: And they say -- they say, yeah, we are voting against the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. That`s what I worried about, too.

Charlie Sykes, Michelle Goldberg, you guys are great. Thank you.

That`s tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.