Biden calls for gun reforms after latest mass shootings. Democrats renew push for gun reforms in wake of mass shootings. Colorado has among highest rates of school and mass shootings. Boulder assault weapons ban was lifted days before shootings. GOP senators push back against gun reforms. Senate committee holds hearing on reducing gun violence. States call on DOJ to close ghost gun loophole. NRA tweets Second Amendment quote as if gunman was part of a well-regulated militia. GOP lawmakers blame Biden for border crisis.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the second high-profile mass shooting in the United States in less than a week, a shooting in a Boulder, Colorado, supermarket on Monday afternoon that killed ten people, including the first responding officer, as well as a 25year-old store worker and a 61 year-old man who will never meet his expected grandchild.
All of this as the community in the Atlanta area continues to mourn the eight people, six of them Asian women, killed at three spas just six days ago. Boulder Police have identified Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa as the gunman. He`s in custody and charged with ten counts of first degree murder.
Today, in the face of this gruesome epidemic, President Biden called for immediate action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I don`t need to wait another minute, let alone, an hour to take common sense steps, or save the lives in the future and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate act. The United States Senate -- I hope some are listening -- should immediately pass the two House-passed bills that close loopholes in the background check system. This is not and should not be a partisan issue. This is an American issue. It will save lives, American lives. And we have to act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: And there`s arguably no other politician who has more experience dealing with this particular issue than Joseph Robinette Biden. Not only that he serve as vice president of the United States during some of the deadliest mass shooting in our nation`s history during the Obama years, but in 1994, decades before that, then-Senator Joe Biden helped to pass legislation that prohibited the manufacture of certain semi-automatic weapons for civilian use.
The assault weapons ban phased out in 2004 under a ten-year sunset provision with numerous law makers, including Biden, try and failing to get it renewed. The ban was folded into the 1994 anticrime bill, yes, the same crime bill that expanded mandatory minimum sentences and increased federal funding for police departments and prisons, that crime bill.
Now, ironically, that bill which also included the Biden authored Violence Against Women Act, would later haunt Biden and Hillary Clinton, as mass incarceration became a leading sure during their presidential bids.
That bill passed nearly 30 years ago during a very different Congress and a vastly different political climate, but here we are tonight, asking again with new urgency, whether this country will ever again address the unique American problem of gun violence. And, once again, it boils down to action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): America woke up today to another nightmare, stunning, shocking, savage, but unsurprising because this kind of horror is thoroughly predictable as long as Congress fails to act.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): We need to do more than reflect. We need to act. We need to show we care and prevent the next mass shooting, if we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now, of course, we know the story all too well. We have seen it on our television far too many times. We`ve mourned the lives lost, feeling outraged over the lack of action, while knowing in some parts of the country, it`s easier to buy a gun than it is to vote. And now, Congress looks and feels very different, boasting gun-obsessed conservatives who display their weapons as their Zoom backgrounds, and campaign as Second Amendment warriors. This is what we`re all up against, and so we ask, as we`ve ask each and every time this happens, when will this end?
Joining me now is Colorado State Senator Rhonda Fields and Brandon Wolf, Pulse Nightclub Survivor and Vice President of the Drew Project. Thank you both for being here.
And I want to start with you, State Representative Fields. Yes, I grew up in Colorado. I always knew lots of people have guns.
STATE SEN. RHONDA FIELDS (D-CO): Yes.
REID: We -- you know Columbine happened. There been all of these incidents, the Aurora Night Club shooting. Colorado is a gunny state. It didn`t seem like a wackily gun state when I was growing up, but it is. There is an analysis that shows in 2019, Denver posted an analysis that showed the Colorado, my growing-up state, had more mass shootings per capita than all but four states in the country. The Census-designated Denver metropolitan statistical area had more school shooting per capita since 1999 than any of the country`s 24 other largest metro areas. What in the hell is going on in Colorado?
FIELDS: I wish I knew. I really wish I knew what was really going on, because we have some very strong gun safety measures in the state of Colorado, but we have people committing homicide and suicide with these assault weapons and guns and rifles and whatever they can get their hands on.
REID: And I changed which house you`re in, you`re a state senator. So I apologize for that, Senator. Just to ask you, so there was actually an assault weapons ban. You know, Colorado actually did, was kind of proactive after some of these mass school shootings and passed some laws, including an assault weapons ban. It was supposed to stop mass shootings. It was blocked ten days before this particular attack, not that it necessarily would have stopped it.
A judge ruled that Boulder could not enforce the 2018 ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines that was put in place following the Parkland School shooting. The judge said the city couldn`t restrict fire arms that are otherwise legal under state and federal law. Is there an attack, sort of a reversal of what had been a pretty good record for the state of Colorado on trying to pass gun reform?
FIELDS: Right. And, in fact, you have an assault weapon ban in Denver. So the mayor there has and the city council has an assault weapons ban, but it was a patched approach. So all across Colorado is not the same, and the same across our nation. We can have people go across borders and buy these assault weapons. And we need, really, like the Congress people were talking, for people to catch up with what`s going on in our communities. And it`s time for Congress to act.
REID: Yes. A federal solution would really -- it seems like it is called for.
Brandon, my friend, thank you for being here. I want you to, you know if Joe Biden -- President Biden today, said it shouldn`t be a political issue, but of course it is. Of course it is. And let me just let you listen to some of the senators during today`s gun violence hearing, some of the Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): And every time there`s a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders.
Not only does it reduce crime, it makes it worse.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): We have a lot of drunk drivers in America that kill a lot of people. We ought to try to combat that too.
The answer is not to get rid of all sober drivers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: That`s them. Senator John Kennedy got $215,000 from the NRA. Ted Cruz got $176,274 in recent cycles. Brandon, the NRA is weakened, they`re like crippled. Why do they still seem to exert so much control over Republican politicians?
BRANDON WOLF, PULSE NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Well, I don`t even know if that`s the answer anymore. I think Republican politicians have sold themselves out to the farthest right-wing of their party. And they essentially function as a Twitter troll operation.
I want to tell your viewers a quick story actually. In 2019, I became the first survive of the Pulse Nightclub shooting to testify before a congressional committee. That committee was chaired by the late Congressman John Lewis, and I was very, very honored o share my story there. I poured my heart out. I told parts of that story that had previously been way too hard for me to share because this is a matter of life and death. I felt it that important to share.
And after I left it all on the table, the ranking Republican member of that committee had the audacity to say to me, rather than ask members of Congress what they can do for you, what are you doing to make your own community safer? Well, the truth is that I took that to heart. I went home and I worked tireless to give Democrats control of Congress in 2020.
And I tell you that because I`m not going to play the phony outrage game with Republican lawmakers who would sooner see our democracy overthrown that someone have to pass a background check for a gun they bought online. It is far past time for America to move forward.
Republican legislators can join the majority of their constituents in that work whenever their ready, but so long as their intent on stomping their feet, and obstructing progress, and looking for the next viral tweet, then we`re just going to have to do it without them.
REID: Yes, it`s sort of been an Alex Jones-ification of the Republican Party, Senator. I mean you`ve got Lauren Boebert, who uses like a bunch of big old guns, that her Zoom background, and she tweeted out today all thoughts and prayers for the, on the shooting and got, this you, by Jemele Hill because it`s like you did do that background. Is somebody like her in politics in Colorado hurting the effort?
FIELDS: Absolutely. It`s not helpful at all. And we definitely need federal leadership. I mean, Colorado has done some great things, but we need to make sure that Congress is acting right now. In the state of Colorado, after Columbine, we closed the gun show loophole. We have universal background checks. We have two pieces of legislation that is making its way through the chambers, which is gun safe storage and also how to report a stolen gun. So we`re still working on some things. But I do think that at some point we need to ban assault weapons.
REID: Yes, that seems logical. Colorado State Senator Rhonda Fields, Brandon Wolf, I wish we had more times. Thank you both for being here.
And with us now is the Pennsylvania attorney general, Josh Shapiro. And, you know, you`re trying -- the state of Pennsylvania is trying to do something to sort of get rid of these like ghost guns, guns that you have to put together afterwards that do get around the loopholes, you know, for background checks, et cetera. You know, is it going to be -- we just heard the state senator from Colorado say the state is trying to pass things. Is this still going to come down to the state doing all the work here on gun reform?
JOSH SHAPIRO (D) PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, look, I`m hopeful that the Biden administration is going to take action. They have said they want to, and I take them at their word. But we`re not waiting on Washington. There are some common sense things we can do right now that are going to save lives in our states.
You mentioned ghost guns, Joy. I brought a ghost gun with me. This is a ghost gun. You can go and buy a ghost gun at a gun show in Pennsylvania or online, and, in fact, people were going to gun shows in Pennsylvania and buying these things by the duffel bags. And then they were taking them back to Philadelphia, assembling them and selling them on the streets for 100 percent profit.
Now, why are these particularly dangerous? Because when you go to a gun show to buy one of this, you don`t have to go through a background check. And furthermore, they`re un-serialized and untraceable. And they are now the weapon of choice for criminals in our communities.
And so we stepped up and we did something about it. We negotiated with the largest gun show promoter in Pennsylvania, and he agreed to stop selling these at his gun shows. And in doing so, he is keeping 36,000 of these, we estimate, just this year alone, off the streets of our communities. This is a weapon that you can buy if you`re a criminal and we have to close that loophole. We have to close the ghost gun loophole.
REID: You know, part of your job -- I mean, it is a political job. Can you just explain what could be -- and have you talked -- I don`t know -- with the senators, people like Pat Toomey and other Republicans, what is their justification now? The NRA is basically crippled. They`re broke. They`re trying to reassemble themselves in Texas. But they don`t wield the kind of power that they used to. Can you explain, or do you understand what the objection is to something like what you just said, which seems pretty common sense?
SHAPIRO: That`s exactly what I was going to use, it is common sense and it is going to save lives. And understand that the gun show promoter that we worked with, he is a very strong Second Amendment supporter. And you know what, we can support our constitution and support public safety. This is a great example of that. We`ve identified the problem, we know it exists and we`re trying to solve it.
Understand that politicians, some politicians in Washington, in Harrisburg and other state capitals, they are making a choice to allow this violence to continue. They are making a choice and saying it`s okay to shoot up a synagogue in Pittsburgh, or a spa in Atlanta, or a shopping market in Boulder, or on the streets of Philadelphia every single night. I refuse to accept this as a new normal. I refuse to make that same choice to do nothing.
I can`t explain their inaction. You know, it`s going to be a combination of political fear and just an unwillingness to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work necessary to save lives.
REID: You know, NRA tried to tweet out today, thinking they were dropping the mic, tweeting out the text of the Second Amendment. The text to the Second Amendment includes the words, well regulated, and it talks about militias. It is irrelevant to gun reform. From what -- you know it`s being talk about in places like in Congress in the United States Senate and in the House, would you like to see the United State Senate get rid of the filibuster in order to pass what even 70 percent of even Republicans want universal background checks? Do you think that the Senate should just deck (ph) the filibuster so that they can actually pass it?
SHAPIRO: If you`re telling me that the inaction that is causing the loss of life every single day in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania can be fixed by doing away with the filibuster, then, hell, yes, do away with the filibuster. It`s a vestige of a Senate from yesteryear that has rendered it unable to solve the big, pressing problems of the day.
We need to get these ghost guns and these other weapons of war out of the hands of criminals. We should all agree on that. And if the filibuster is a thing that it`s holding it up, then let`s get rid of that filibuster immediately.
REID: Thank you very much, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. I really appreciate you being here tonight and keeping it real.
And up next on THE REIDOUT, President Biden confronts the humanitarian challenge on the border, while on the right they`re using racist phrases like lower level of human being to describe the men, women and children seeking asylum in America.
Tonight, in call on the Tucker Carlson defense, remember when Fox News lawyer argued that no one should actually believe what Tucker says on his show. I mean, come on? Now another Republican is making a similar argument in cord that no reasonable person would think that anything she said truthful. Well, the truth is she is tonight`s absolute worst.
Plus, Senator Amy Klobuchar joins me on Voting Rights and Mayor Muriel Bowser on D.C. statehood. It is a big show tonight.
THE REIDOUT continues after this. Stay right there.
REID: If you`ve been watching T.V. over the past couple of weeks, you probably heard a familiar Republican talking point about the situation at the southern border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP.KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): There`s no other way to claim it than a Biden border crisis.
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): This is Joe Biden`s crisis. He created it by his policies.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): It`s a crisis that`s unfolding. It`s getting worse and worse every day.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Eventually, it`s going to be a national security crisis, because there are children today, but there could easily be terrorists tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: With the Grand Q Party now confronting a president who just passed a massive and popular piece of legislation, that is what they`re left with.
Yes, migration at the Southern border is a genuine political challenge and ongoing one that spans several previous administrations. But is it a crisis, as Republicans so desperately want the media to portray it as?
Well, according to an analysis in "The Washington Post," the current increase in apprehensions fits a predictable pattern of seasonal changes in undocumented immigration, combined with a backlog of demand because of 2020`s coronavirus border closure.
Adding to the current situation, longstanding issues of poverty and gang and cartel violence in the Northern Triangle countries in Central America, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, some of it fueled, by the way, by drug demand here in America.
And add to that devastation from natural disasters. The region was battered by two hurricanes last November, and, voila, shock of all shocks, people start moving to try to save their lives and their children`s lives.
Now, indeed, the Biden administration has faced some deserved scrutiny, in particular over transparency regarding facilities currently housing migrant children. Just because Republicans are attacking them disingenuously doesn`t mean the public doesn`t have an interest in seeing what`s happening inside those facilities.
And so, today, Customs and Border Protection released new images from two temporary facilities processing migrant kids along the border. But, for Republicans, their caterwauling is not about concern for those children. Let`s just be clear.
Those children are just a prop for fearmongering and doing the old brown scare, as evidenced by what you heard from Lindsey Graham earlier.
And perhaps the most repugnant example was dished out by FOX News` Jeanine Pirro, who used to be a judge, a frightening thought, in and of itself, who last night once again stoked nativist and frankly, racist false claims about migrant children.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS: The bringing of these children into this country, where they will be forever connected to what cartel, is slavery.
What we`re doing here is, we`re promoting a lower level of human being who will be controlled from other countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: A lower level of human being.
Joining me now, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, assistant dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
I just want to let you have at Jeanine Pirro, lower level of human being. Your thoughts?
VICTORIA DEFRANCESCO SOTO, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: Joy-Ann, I was saddened but not surprised.
As someone who is focused on immigration for decades, those are the same words that were used with European immigrants, with Southern and Eastern European immigrants. Really, this is where the eugenics movement started in Ellis Island, where they would take immigrants who were coming over and figuring out that they were lower level and not letting them come in.
So, this is not new. And the other thing that is not new is knowing that immigration is something that stokes so much emotion in people. And it`s very easy. It`s low-hanging fruit, in terms of taking it, when you want to distract, when you want to pivot and use that.
And I think this is what we see the GOP doing. Is there a crisis at the border? Look, we have had a crisis when it comes to the border and the immigration system for going on a decade. We`re well overdue for comprehensive immigration reform. So, yes, it is a crisis.
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: But it`s a crisis that we have been living in for close to a decade, Joy-Ann.
REID: More than a decade.
I mean, you can go all the way back. There`s a great piece in "The Week" where they put a chart up that I just want to put up on the screen. OK, if you -- if you call the crisis the number of apprehensions, if you want to go by that, because they`re making it sound like a million people at the border, look at the side of the chart that is on my left, stage right.
The year 2000, we`re talking about, in 2001, you had more than 200,000 a month. That was during the George W. Bush era, OK? Keep going. You can go all the way through. It goes up, it goes down. It`s seasonal. Up. It goes down. Up. It goes down. Up. It goes down.
Look where we are now in 2021. We are not anywhere near -- we are less than half of the level of people who were coming in -- early in 2000. So, no, it`s not a crisis. We need immigration reform.
Talk a little bit about the logistics here, because we talk about this on the show as sort of, there`s a challenge of the start of it, right, the Triangle countries, who, by the way, some of it is our doing that has put them in this horrible situation. We aren`t giving enough aid. They have issues with COVID. All sorts of issues are happening there.
Then you have the problem of the choke point. When you get to the border, what the hell do you do with people who are stuck and backing up because of the last four years of terrible policy? And now they know their kids won`t be taken. So, like, OK, maybe I can try.
And then where do you put with people? Because you can`t just take a kid and send them off on their own. You have got to process them and have them go somewhere safe.
Sorry. I just talked myself out. Tell me what you think we could be doing differently.
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: What you just laid out is the multilayered nature of the problem. When we`re talking about immigration, it`s about the push and the pull factors.
And there is no one push factor of folks coming from Central America. It`s instability when it comes to their economy, to the gang violence, to the economic instability that`s triggered by climate change.
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: We have seen since 2014 El Nino and La Nina being much more severe. This is causing more droughts in the highlands of Guatemala. Your subsistence farmers no longer have anything to subsist on. So they`re coming over.
With the hurricanes, we saw the sharecroppers who lived off the land, their crops were wiped out. And do the calculus. If you`re a rational actor, human beings take a cost/benefit analysis. If I stay here, I`m going to starve. If I don`t stay here, I might have a chance of making it and surviving and thriving.
Any Republican would do the same thing for their family. And this is what this nation was built on, on immigrants come in for a better life.
REID: The Irish did it in the 1840s. The Germans did it in the 1870s. That`s how Donald Trump`s family got here. They didn`t come over here just for kicks. They came over because they were pushed here and pulled here by opportunity and by problems back home, the same reason that it populated this country.
Let me play Greg Abbott and Ted Cruz. Here they are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Now the Biden administration is importing COVID into the state of Texas, exposing more Texans to that, and who knows what we`re going to see.
CRUZ: What I care about is, stop making the problem worse, stop releasing people are COVID-positive, stop putting kids in harm`s way, and stop releasing criminals that prey on the community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: It is gross to me for Greg Abbott to portray people as basically disease carriers because they come from Central America.
But I just have to get your thoughts on Ted, Rafael Ted Cruz, who himself is a person of color, to participate in that. Your thoughts?
DEFRANCESCO SOTO: He is, Joy-Ann, but he has never embraced that identity. In fact, I would argue that he has pushed back against his Latino identity.
And I think the trickier part here is that, in framing his dad`s immigration to the United States from Cuba, he always is very clear to point out that he was a political refugee, that he came here fighting communism, he didn`t want to be in that communist bastion that was Cuba. He came to the U.S.
So he uses a very different frame to separate himself from immigrants who are coming as a result of economic reasons or the plight that we`re seeing in Central America. So it`s been always interesting to see how Ted Cruz has separated himself from his immigrant experience and, when pushed, puts the difference of his dad and other immigrants.
REID: Yes, but he also didn`t defend his dad when Donald Trump said that his dad was part of killing JFK. He didn`t even defend the man. He basically was like, yes, Donald Trump, yes, Donald Trump, yes, sir, yes, sir, yes, sir, more, sir.
Victoria -- that was me, not Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, who is lovely and not shady like me.
REID: Thank you very much for saying that. And appreciate your time tonight.
And still ahead, Senator Amy Klobuchar -- I mean, come on -- Senator Amy Klobuchar on voting rights and the filibuster. And D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will be here on the push for statehood, very important discussion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIAM NEESON, ACTOR: Release the Kraken.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: We release tonight`s absolute worst. I think you will agree tonight`s nominee is truly worthy.
Stay with us.
REID: Remember former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell? Well, she`s back in the news, and not in a good way.
You might recall that, for weeks after November 3, Powell hurled wild accusations of voter fraud, including the bogus claim that the former president was the victim of a rigged election.
Most of her conspiracy theories centered around Dominion Voting Systems, a company that manufactured some of the election equipment used in November. Never mind that there was no actual evidence of fraud. Night after night, Powell relentlessly targeted Dominion in press conferences and on right- wing news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNEY POWELL, ATTORNEY: Dominion operators went in and injected votes and changed the whole system.
They run a computer algorithm on it as needed to either flip votes, take votes out, or alter the votes to make a candidate win.
It has been used all over the world to defy the will of people who wanted freedom.
There is statistical evidence. There`s all kinds of mathematical evidence, essentially forensic evidence.
Dominion and its minions and other state officials everywhere are apparently out there trying to destroy everything they can get to before we can seize it.
They had this all planned, Maria.
It is one huge, huge criminal conspiracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: But according to Powell, the conspiracy against Trump didn`t just involve Dominion. No, no, it was an international syndicate of globalists, communists, corporations, and ghosts, including the ever-present right-wing boogeyman George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and the very, very dead Hugo Chavez.
(SPEAKING SPANISH) Senor Chavez.
Powell famously promised to release the Kraken in a flurry of lawsuits that would finally prove her claims once and for all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POWELL: I can hardly wait to put forth all the evidence we have collected on Dominion, starting with the fact it was created to produce altered voting results in Venezuela for Hugo Chavez.
I`m going to release the Kraken.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: But it turns out -- and this is going to shock you -- the Kraken wasn`t real, after all.
The last of Powell`s lawsuits were thrown out by the conservative majority U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month. Even the beer guy couldn`t help Donald out.
And instead of a vindication she so badly sought, Powell was slapped with a $1.3 billion lawsuit by none other than Dominion Voting Systems. In other words, she`s now in serious legal trouble.
And that brings us to the news of this week, because, despite all of her allegations, and her frivolous legal challenges, and the blatant disinformation campaign she led before an audience of millions, Sidney Powell is now casting her statements in a very different light.
Powell responded to the lawsuit by saying that: "I think no reasonable person would conclude that the statements" she made about Dominion "were truly statements of fact."
In other words, the people to blame for taking the former lawyer to the president of the United States seriously were those in the MAGA base who believed her, some of whom hauled off and stormed the Capitol.
Hey, guys, I think she`s calling you all suckers.
And if her legal strategy sounds familiar, that`s because it`s the same argument FOX News made to defend Tucker Carlson in a lawsuit last year. In that case, a judge ruled that Carlson is not stating actual facts about the topics he discusses on live TV every night, an interesting revelation for those who watch his TV show.
So, like her right-wing brethren at FOX, Sidney Powell wants a free pass to not only make baseless accusations with impunity, but to also file them in court.
And that is what makes Sidney Powell the absolute worst.
REID: The last president to sign meaningful gun legislation was Bill Clinton, in the `90s. Since that time, the wave of gun violence in America has exceeded all other developed countries on Earth.
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed two bills to help address gun violence, but here`s the problem. There`s zero chance that Republicans will join Democrats in passing those bills. Just like there`s zero chance Republicans will join Democrats in passing the For the People Act, the federal voting reform anti-corruption bill, or the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, two additional bills the House recently passed.
In other words, progress in America today hinges on a feckless Republican party parked in the Senate minority that is devoid of ideas, clinging to the filibuster in monument to white supremacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Historians do not agree it has no racial history.
This is all about a power grab.
SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): The filibuster forces compromises, and this is what Republicans did when they were in the majority in both the House and the Senate and holding the White House.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): I certainly hope there are enough wise and thoughtful Democrats who understand that doing away with the legislative filibuster would create a nuclear winter in the United States Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: This morning, a national civic engagement group led by former First Lady Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lopez, Billie Eilish and others called on Congress to pass the For the People Act. It`s the concerted effort to put star power to use, to increase public pressure on the senators who have the power to pass these popular bills.
And for more, I`m joined now by Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
And, Senator, thank you so much for being here. You used to be a skeptic about getting rid of the filibuster. What changed your mind?
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): (INAUDIBLE) a wise and thoughtful senator. I was just listening to Senator Thune`s words, and I think we need to change badly in that place.
So go on.
REID: Yeah, sorry about that. I didn`t mean to step on you. But, yeah, I guess, you know, you used to be skeptical about changing the filibuster, but you`ve made a hard turn on that. What triggered your change of heart on that?
KLOBUCHAR: I think it was the winter that Senator Thune referred to that we have not been able to get anything major done, short of a national when we have the pandemic upon us. Then make people scurry, scrum together and get things done, but we have major, major issues before us.
And one of them, this would be the first time, thanks to Senator Warnock and Senator Ossoff and their wins in Georgia, that we`re going to have the gavel and we`re going to have a hearing, I am, on the Rules Committee, on the For the People Act. While in Georgia and other states across the country, over 200 bills have been introduced to try to dismantle voting rights.
It`s literally what they thought is, OK, we lost a national election, record number of people vote, we`re not going to change our message or try to reach out to people, say the Republicans, instead we`re going to double down on that message at CPAC, and let`s make sure less people vote. I think Warnock said it best in his maiden speech.
What this is about is some people don`t want some people to vote. Those eight words mean more than anything I say to you on this interview. So, that`s what this is.
REID: Well, you know, the thing is -- there is a lot of focus from some groups who are saying, okay, make a carve-out in the filibuster for voting rights legislation. However, we just have had another massacre. We`ve had two massacres in two weeks, both in Georgia and now in Colorado.
You`ve got the For the People Act which you just mentioned. You`ve got this background checks act that`s passed the House. You`ve got enhanced background checks. You`ve got the George Floyd Justice and Policing. There are so many bills piled up.
And I`m old enough to remember that when Mitch McConnell was in the minority during the Obama administration, he used the filibuster to pretty much bring the Senate to a halt.
And you`ve got -- there`s a great piece in "The Atlantic", which talks about the fact that basically the filibuster means there`s no accountability. Just threatening a filibuster can just kill any bill in advance before there`s any debate.
Mitch McConnell is demanding that it stay that way.
Why would any Democrat go along with that? Can you explain why some of these conservative Democrats want it to stay that way?
KLOBUCHAR: I mean, first of all, you know, Joy, there`s a whole bunch of people who want a change. Even Senator Manchin has talked about bringing in a talking filibuster, which would force them to actually have to, like, in the movies, speak instead of just hiding back in their offices or going home and stopping a bill.
I think what has happened here is that people have realized in stark terms -- if January 6th didn`t turn you, I don`t know what does. There are people that literally are trying to upend our democracy, that don`t believe in people`s rights to vote, that only believe in some people`s rights to vote. That`s not what America is about.
In the words of the African-American police officer who after being pummeled with poles, turns to his friend and said, is this America? It`s not. So, that`s why it`s so important that we pass this bill and that will allow us, by the way, to do a bunch of other really important things for this country.
And I think the proof is in the America Rescue Plan. A bunch of those -- none of those Republicans voted for it in the U.S. Senate, but a bunch of the Republican constituents and Democrats wanted it, and to get it done, we did it with a 51-vote margin and it worked.
REID: What do you think -- you know these guys, the Joe Manchins, the Kyrsten Sinemas, what do you think the trigger might be for them? Because you had something that finally said we`ve got to change this.
Just in speaking with your conservative colleagues on the Democratic side, what do you it will take? Is it going to take all of these bills failing on the floor to get cloture over and over, voting rights, gun reform, and all of it failing, even, you know, transportation and all of those bills? Do you think it`s going to take those bills actually failing before they change their minds?
KLOBUCHAR: You`d have to ask them. I will say Senator Manchin is one of the authors, as you know, of the background check bill that almost passed before. So, they understand what the stakes are. And Senator Sinema understands the stakes in her state in Arizona when it comes to economics and climate change and the like.
And so, I believe that we need to get this bill to the floor. And we need people to understand that there are people in the country that are literally trying to make it impossible for them to vote by mail. Why did all these people vote in the middle of a public health crisis? Because for the first time in many states, you could vote by mail. You didn`t have to have a notary public sign things.
And they`re literally trying to peel that back. And I think we`re going to have such a strong case to make for the public that you`ll see movement on our side.
REID: Very quickly, before I let you go, your thoughts very quickly on the Derek Chauvin trial? Do you think that -- do you expect justice in this case? You`ve been a prosecutor in that state.
Do you expect? What will you do?
KLOBUCHAR: Yeah, well, I think you know where I am on this case. I`ve been very clear, that I felt those prosecutions had to be brought. I have faith in our Attorney General Keith Ellison. They`ve got good lawyers on the case.
And I always believe that you let the evidence speak for itself in the middle of a trial. And, but right now, the jurors have been picked and the trial is going to start. And for me, my piece of it, it`s not the trial, because I won`t be in the courtroom. My piece of it is what you mentioned, Joy.
And that`s my role on the Judiciary Committees to get the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act done.
REID: Yeah. Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you so much for your time tonight this evening. Really appreciate it.
REID: And up next, cheers, the tear-gassing of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, and the Capitol insurrection have breathed new life into Washington, D.C.`s push for statehood.
Mayor Muriel Bowser will be here to tell us why making D.C. a state is more important than ever. We`ll be right back.
REID: More than 700,000 people live in Washington, D.C. And as their license plate aptly points out, they have exactly what the country was founded against, taxation without representation. With no senators and only one delegate in the House who isn`t even able to vote on bills, D.C. also isn`t able to entirely make its own decisions.
For example, during the Capitol siege, the D.C. National Guard had troops ready to deploy immediately, but it tonight more than three hours for the defense department to give the green light. Not surprisingly, there`s a history of racism behind D.C.`s second class status.
For almost a full century, D.C. residents were not able to elect their own leaders. In a survey conducted by "The Washington Post" in 1966, on reversing that decision, white D.C. residents clearly articulated the racism behind the opposition, saying things like it isn`t right the nation be all colored. And they don`t have the right education to do the right job.
And while, D.C., a city that`s currently 46 percent black now can elect its own leaders, the opposition from Republicans against statehood has echoed the past concerns, such as when Republican congressman in 2013 said D.C. wasn`t ready to be a state, comparing its leaders to teenagers. That Republican opposition was very much on display yesterday as the House held a hearing on statehood, with Republicans using the excuse of how Democratic D.C. is. Only 5 percent of D.C. residents voted for Trump in 2020.
But beyond the GOP`s open fears about a D.C. state adding to a Democratic Senate, they`re left with ridiculous excuses. Take this argument from a legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation at yesterday`s hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZACK SMITH, HERITAGE FOUNDATION MEESE CENTER LEGAL FELLOW: There`s no question that D.C. residents already impact the national debate. For the members here today, how many of you saw a D.C. statehood yard signs or bumper stickers or banners on the way to this hearing today? I certainly did. Where else in the nation could such simple actions reach so many members of Congress?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Okay, because the ability to have yard signs is exactly the same as having two senators to represent you. OK.
And then there was this Georgia congressman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JODY HICE (R-GA): D.C. would be the only state, the only state without an airport, without a car dealership, without a capital city, without a landfill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: OK. Actually, D.C. does have multiple car dealerships, but even if it didn`t, I can assure you the Founding Fathers did not include that as a requirement in the U.S. Constitution.
With me now is Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Mayor Bowser, the arguments were dumb, just to be honest. The Heritage Foundation fresh off bouncing its first black woman leader, had some pretty silly arguments.
Let me play -- read you one more. Here`s Mike Rounds of South Dakota saying the Founding Fathers never intended for Washington, D.C. to be a state. By the way, the reason there are two Dakotas is because they were deliberately created as two different states so Republicans could literally have four senators.
Your thoughts on these arguments against D.C. statehood.
MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER (D), WASHINGTON, D.C.: Well, Joy, you hit the nail right on the head. Their arguments are, they are stupid, and they show that they have run out of and we have debunked all of the arguments they used to use against that. It`s not constitutional.
But HR-51 makes clear we`re still going to have a federal district. We`re too small. We`re bigger than two states and almost as big as seven. We can govern ourselves and we have one of the best-run jurisdictions, a great economy and the economy is coming back, of jurs -- all the jurisdictions of the nation, so very proud of what we can do.
So, they`re left with their simple partisan arguments that I argued yesterday were rooted in the history of race, and it is a demonstration that people have long been concerned about the black political power that we`ve developed in Washington, D.C.
You know, you talk to the size of the state. Let`s just put this up for everyone to look at. Washington was sort of in the middle of some of the smaller states. South Dakota barely has more people than Washington, D.C. North Dakota, again, these were supposed to be one state, but they made them two so that they can have four senators. They`re just above D.C., and then Vermont and Wyoming actually have fewer people. They have all two senators.
What do you make of the attempt by one of the people arguing against statehood, saying what if we lowered your taxes, what if we just give you lower taxes, would that be enough?
BOWSER: Well, you know, Joy, the people of Washington, D.C. voted on statehood. They didn`t vote to secede from the Union. They didn`t vote to shirk their taxes. They just voted to say that we need equal representation and full autonomy. We need two senators.
You rightly pointed out the ridiculous argument that people can put up yard signs and that`s the same as having two senators. It`s not. The people of Washington, D.C. saw what can happen when we have nobody arguing for us in the Senate in the CARES package. We were shorted $750 million, three quarters of a billion dollars, to respond to a global pandemic. That is what it means to not be represented in the Senate.
We saw Donald Trump attempt to overtake our police department. That`s what it means not to have full autonomy. And the only way we can achieve those things is through statehood. We`re full tax-paying Americans, just like New Yorkers, just like Californians, just like South Dakotans, except we don`t have two senators, and we have to correct that wrong.
REID: What might have been different on January 6th if D.C. had been a state, in terms of your ability to react?
BOWSER: The big difference is that the D.C. National Guard, which is not actually the D.C. National Guard is the president`s guard. The D.C. National Guard reports to the president of the United States.
We know there were some delays in his approval of the guard being deployed to the Capitol building. We already had requested the guard to support D.C. streets and keep D.C. streets safe.
I would have immediately deployed the guard that we`re working with my police department to the Capitol. You would not have seen that three-hour delay.
REID: And would you want to see the filibuster ended, because that seems to be the only way that D.C. is going to be able to get statehood?
BOWSER: I support how Senator Schumer is going to get this bill through. We make the argument, Joy, that this is as much a voting rights issue as all the voter suppression that we see around the country.
Seven hundred and twelve thousand tax-paying Americans don`t have a representative, a voting representative in Congress and no senators. And that is in our view a civil rights and voting rights issue that should be undertaken with HR-1.
REID: Yeah, but we will see what happens. We`re definitely going to be keeping our eyes on this one. It`s an important issue.
Mayor Muriel Bowser, thank you so much for being here.
And before we go, the sports world lost a legend yesterday. NBA hall of famer Elgin Baylor played 14 seasons with the Lakers beginning in 1958. "The New York Times" noted his acrobatic brilliance foreshadowed the athleticism of later generation of states. In a statement, the Lakers` CEO said: Elgin was the superstar of his era. Only three players had ever scored more points in a single. David Thompson, Wilt Chamberlain and Kobe Bryant.
He was later an executive with the L.A. Clippers. Elgin Baylor died Monday with his wife and daughter by his side. And deepest condolences to them. He was 86 years old.
That is tonight`s REIDOUT. And before we go to this -- this is a hard turn. I just want to wish my bestie, Kim McCray, a very happy birthday. It`s her birthday, so I told her I was going to give her a shout-out. That`s my hard turn. That is my shout-out.
So, with every sort of sad and difficult story that we have, we also want something positive. So, happy birthday, Kim.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.