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Transcript: The ReidOut, 3/31/21

Guests: Michael Schmidt, Gina Raimondo, Cedric Alexander, Channa Lloyd, Nikki Fried


Emotional testimony on day three of Chauvin trial. New surveillance video was shown in court today. Prosecution witness breaks down. Eyewitnesses describe feeling guilty for not doing more to save Floyd`s life. Chauvin trial paused after juror suffers stress-related reaction. Chauvin defense attorney blames witnesses and victim. "New York Times" reports, GOP Representative Gaetz is investigated for sex trafficking. Former Attorney General Barr was briefed on Gaetz probe. Gaetz ties DOJ probe to alleged extortion plot; Two separate investigations involving Gaetz are under way. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo is interviewed. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is proud as a peach of his handling of the coronavirus, but currently, COVID-19 is surging in Florida.



ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Before we go, a programming note. We`re doing something special tomorrow on THE BEAT. We`re gathering several generations of civil rights leaders reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. THE BEAT MLK`s America, The Road Ahead, I hope you`ll join us for that special program tomorrow. "THE REIDOUT" starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We have a lot of news to get to tonight, including the increasingly bizarre story of Trump`s favorite little congressman, Matt Gaetz, who`s under investigation for possible sex trafficking. We`ll break down what we know and what Gaetz is claiming.

But we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with day three of the murder trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. George Floyd`s life Mattered. That was the emotional crux of today`s testimony, a day that offered something we haven`t seen very much of since George Floyd died under Chauvin`s knee almost a year ago. Today, we got to see George Floyd alive.

Here is surveillance video inside Cup Foods, where he`d shopped just before being stopped by police, footage that was unseen by the public before today. You can see George Floyd in a black tank top dancing around. You can also see him interacting with customers and cashiers.

One of those cashiers testified today. His name is Christopher Martin and he`s 19 years old. Floyd bought cigarettes from him the day that he died giving him a $20 bill and Martin testified today that he was suspicious. But because of a store policy that made employees pay for counterfeit bills out of their own paycheck, Martin reported it to his manager, a decision that set off a chain of events that would end with Chauvin kneeling on Floyd`s neck for more than nine minutes.

The violent, brutal death of George Floyd and the national outrage over his killing that reverberated far beyond Minneapolis has undoubtedly traumatized the Floyd family and their loved ones.

What we`re seeing up close this week is the trauma experienced by those who happened to witness the final chapter of his life. To be clear, they are not at fault. They were powerless in the face of armed police officers to even intervene. There are people who happened to be on that exact street corner on the day that George Floyd was handcuffed and pinned to the ground either they happened to work at Cup Foods or like Charles McMillian, they happened to be driving by when police first tried to put Floyd in the back of that car.

He saw the struggle unfold, tried to advise Floyd to cooperate, telling Floyd, you can`t win. And then today on the witness stand Mr. McMillian re- lived the incident again after watching prosecutors play body cam video of George Floyd`s death.



I can`t -- I felt helpless. I don`t have a moment -- I understand him.


REID: Wow. Joining me now is Channa Lloyd a Criminal and Civil Right Attorney and Managing Partner at the Cochran Firm, and Cedric Alexander former Member of Barack Obama`s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and former Director of Public safety for DeKalb County, Georgia.

Mr. Alexander, I want to go to you first on this first because, you know, we are so accustomed at least in this business, unfortunately. I have covered a lot of Black Lives Matter cases and there`s a lot of grief, a lot of trauma, there`s a lot of strain. The George Floyd case has allowed us to really see the strain of witnesses very much up close. So many people witnessed this man die or were near him just before he died that now we`re sort of experiencing their trauma.

Let me play a quick little montage of some of these witnesses who`ve actually expressed guilt and they played no pardon in his dead that express guilt regarding his death. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was going through your mind during that time period?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay, why guilt?

MARTIN: If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided.

GENEVIEVE HANSEN, EYEWITNESS AND A FIREFIGHTER: There was no medical assistance on scene, and I -- I got there, and I could have given medical assistance, that`s exactly what I should have done.

DARNELLA FRAZIER, EYEWITNESS: It`s been nights I stayed up apologizing and -- and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.


REID: And as experienced public safety director yourself, is that something that you`re familiar with seeing that kind of trauma, sort of guilty feelings by people who witness a killing?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER MEBER, PRESIDENT OBAMA`S 21ST CENTURY POLICING TASK FORCE: Well, I`m familiar with it on two counts here, Joy. One, being a 40-year veteran in policing and certainly have seen these types of events, but nothing to what we`ve witnessed today or continue to witness.

This is horrific, it`s just absolutely a horrific event, it`s embarrassing for the law enforcement profession. It is not reflective of certainly of all of the men and women out there. But what we saw from the beginning of their interaction was George Floyd was just wrong and, quite frankly, if you think about the fact that this may have been a counterfeit $20 bill, it really didn`t have to go into an arrest.

But the second piece here as a former practicing clinical psychologist we`re seeing people who are tremendously traumatized each day in court, but not only on the streets of Minneapolis and their families, but across this country, people are traumatized and people are really feeling really heartfelt about what they`re seeing every day. This is horrible.

REID: Indeed. And, Channa, this is sort of an experience I think everybody has experience in all of these Black Lives Matter cases. I mean, Tamir Rice, that could be our baby. You know, you see Trayvon Martin, that beautiful face, you think -- you relate because you relate to them. Isn`t the challenge here that the one person who couldn`t seem to relate to George Floyd`s humanity -- well, the four people are these officers, right?

I mean, meanwhile, a juror today halted the trial because the juror had a stress-related reaction. This is a white woman in her 50s, suffered what the judge called a stress-related reaction. She`s been having trouble sleeping and had been awake since 2:00 A.M. And isn`t that the kind of the crux of the case, right, the one -- the four people who needed to see George`s humanity didn`t?

CHANNA LLOYD, MANAGING PARTNER, THE COCHRAN FIRM: I definitely think that that is a very significant, impactful point and I think the prosecution is layering that in by having each one of these bystanders that had such a different experience, different training, different background, still, each one of them had a visceral reaction to what was happening. They all came to one general body and consensus of thought that this is unacceptable. And that`s significant and that`s not going to be lost on our juror.

REID: Yes. And you will hear Mr. McMillian begging him, just cooperate, just cooperate. You can`t win. You can even hear it. And it`s so striking.

Let`s go through and talk about this fake bill piece of it, Mr. Alexander, because this is part of the crux of the -- of the prosecution case, when he tried to pass a fake $20 bill. You know, Michael Eric Dyson sent me a piece from his book, a book that he wrote earlier, which he talked about the fact that, you know, there wasn`t even a real strong belief that it was really of counterfeit 20. Here is Christopher Martin talking about whether or not he knew that the bill was fake.


MARTIN: The other person that had come in, it kind of seemed like he was trying to scheme, like he knew it was a fake bill, and he was trying to get over. I thought that George didn`t really know that it was a fake bill, so I thought I would be doing him a favor.


REID: So I mean if that is the crux of the case that he had committed this horrible crime trying to pass that fake bill, that`s not even clear.

ALEXANDER: No, it`s not clear. And here, again, we`re not certain whether it was really a fake bill. But let`s say it was a real bill, just for the sake of conversation here, Joy, the reality of it is it did not need to escalate to that point. It is only, potentially phony $20 bill. That`s it. That could have been an arrest ticket at minimum. You give him an arrest ticket and send him on his way. For them to go through what they did to over a phony -- possibly of only $20 bill, it should not have led up to what it led up to on May 25th of 2020.

REID: Let me play some more of Christopher Martin. He was very compelling and that he`s so young and he lived above the Cup Foods Store. And he said -- he doesn`t lived there anymore. I mean, like no one -- people are saying they didn`t want to go in the store anymore. That`s how traumatized they were. Here is a little bit more of his testimony.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you describe for the jurors and tell me what was his demeanor was like, or what his condition like?

MARTIN: So when I asked him if he played baseball, he went on to respond to that, but it kind of took him a little long to get to what he was trying to say. So it would appear that he was high.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you just had some signs that you thought he was under the influence of something?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. But were you able to carry on at least some conversation with him?



REID: Is this a portent of bad things to come, Channa, that the defense is going to try to make George Floyd look like he was sort of out of his mind and high? But that`s not what this young man said when he interacted with him.

LLOYD: I think that the defense overpromised a bit here. I think that when you see this video, what they described, the intensity with which the police department responded were going to give you a sense of something very different. And this video shows a very calm, laid back, he was dancing a jig, he hugged someone. It`s the antithesis of what they built this up to be, and that is going to be something that the jury is going hold on to, because you cannot overpromise and undeliver, and that`s what this did.

REID: Well, and also they`re going to try to make him look like he was sort on the verge of death anyway. It sure didn`t look like it. As you said, he`s dancing around, he`s responded to people, he looked happy, he looked jolly, he looked friendly. It`s going to be a hard time to convince people he was some sort of a monster that was zonked out on drugs. It doesn`t look like it, at least from what people interact with him said.

Let`s play one more piece. This is actually kind of chilling. This is an interaction between Derek Chauvin, who was then a police officer, and a bystander who confronted him after this whole confrontation ended. Take a look.


DEREK CHAUVIN, FORMER MINNEAPOLIS POLICE OFFICER: We got to -- we got to control it. We got to control this guy because he`s a sizable guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, and you got to get in the car.

CHAUVIN: And looks like -- it looks like he`s probably on something.


REID: Does that wash as an explanation, Cedric Alexander, that he`s like, we`ve got to control him? I mean, he didn`t seem too pressed about what he`d done.

ALEXANDER: Well, first of all, if we look at that video, we will see, there was at no point, to be honest with you, that George Floyd was really ever violent toward those police officers. Was he resistant at getting into the back of the car because he felt paranoid, he felt some sense of being enclosed? To be perfectly honest with you, that statement around, well, he was a big guy, well, there`s four police officers there. And they`ve had more than enough officers need to contain him.

And when they held him down to the ground, the way that they did, and Chauvin put his knee on his neck is just beyond anything that is imaginable.

But when you think about that video on that day and what we`re watching every day, we`re seeing an officer who demonstrated no sense of humanity, no sense of care for people who live in that community, even the people who are saying to him, please, officer, let him breathe, this man was totally disconnected emotionally from any reality and should have never been in that police department, whatsoever. And those other three officers, they`re just as culpable in all of this.

REID: Yes, the coldness of those officers and their attitude. You see Officer Thao just standing there like, they didn`t seem to care at all that this man was dying, versus the emotion, the deep emotion we`re seeing coming from these witnesses. The people are weeping, the trauma that you`re seeing. It`s just quite a divergence there.

Channa Lloyd, Cedric Alexander, thank you both, I really appreciate you both.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, the plot thickens. Congressman Matt Gaetz under investigation for possible sex trafficking. He denies it and says he`s the victim of an extortion plot. Trump`s self-appointed mini me is not charge with anything so he is spared the dubious honor of being tonight`s absolute worst. That goes to one of his colleagues in the Q caucus whose hypocrisy is so brazen, you literally have to see it to believe it. The big reveal is coming up.

Plus, President Biden`s Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo joins me on the real honest to goodness arrival of infrastructure week after four weeks of fake infrastructure weeks.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: We are following the ongoing and, frankly, truly bizarre story of Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, following the revelation by The New York Times that he`s under investigation for a possible sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Specifically, the Justice Department is probing whether Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws by paying for her to travel with him. Gaetz has denied involvement with under-aged girls and told AXIOS, quote, I believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to criminalize by sexual conduct, you know, when I was a single guy.

But, notably, the investigation of Gaetz was open during the Trump administration under Attorney General William Barr. And despite Barr`s history of political interference in federal investigations involving friends and allies of the former guy, Politico reports that Barr was briefed on the Gaetz probe and did not take issue with it.

While denying the conduct under investigation, Gaetz has claimed that he is actually the victim of an elaborate extortion attempt and he revealed the existence of another investigation into the plot that he`s alleging.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): What is happening is an extortion of me and my family involving a former Department of Justice official. On March 16th, my father got a text message demanding a meeting wherein a person demanded $25 million in exchange for making horrible sex trafficking allegations against me go away.

His name is David McGee.


REID: Well, David McGee, who was a federal prosecutor 25 years ago, denied any attempt to extort Gaetz, telling The Daily Beast that this is a blatant attempt to distract from the fact that Matt Gaetz is apparently about to be indicted for sex trafficking underaged girls.

NBC News confirmed today, that two separate investigations are ongoing, one into Gaetz for possible sex trafficking, and one into the extortion plot that he has alleged. The investigation into Gaetz began when his associate, Joel Greenberg, was indicted on multiple charges last year, including a count of sex trafficking of a child. Greenberg pleaded not guilty to the charges. Photos from Greenberg`s social media feed show him with Gaetz on two occasions, including one with Roger Stone in 2017.

And while Gaetz has been quick to allege extortion, he`s offered few details about why he would be the subject of a sex trafficking probe. He even seemed to confuse Tucker Carlson in the process of explaining it.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: What is the allegation? That is really not very clear from these news stories.


Again, I only know what I have read in "The New York Times." I can say that, actually, you and I went to dinner about two years ago. Your wife was there, and I brought a friend of mine. You will remember her. And she was actually threatened by the FBI, told that, if she wouldn`t cop to the fact that somehow I was involved in some pay-for-play scheme, that she could face trouble.

CARLSON: I don`t remember the -- the woman you`re speaking of or the context at all, honestly.


REID: He always has that look on his face. But, this time, it was like, we kind of understand why Tucker Carlson had that look on his face.

With me now, Michael Schmidt, Washington correspondent for "The New York Times," who broke this story last night, and former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance.

Michael, not to have you comment on another paper`s reporting, but there does seem to be an advance of the story. I want to know what you have on this angle. "The Washington Post" is reporting tonight, on this alleged extortion plot, that, reportedly, this -- Gaetz was approached by two men - - or not Gaetz -- his father reportedly was approached by two men, people familiar with the matter said, who had no apparent connection to the sex crimes investigation of Mr. -- Congressman Gaetz, other than having somehow learned about the investigation somehow before it was publicly reported.

And essentially offered, if he would give them a bunch of money to try to locate Robert A. Levinson, the longest-held American hostages in Iran. If the operation was a success, it would somehow win favor with the U.S. government and alleviate Gaetz`s legal woes.

That is a weird, convoluted thing. I`m not sure it even sounds like extortion. Do you have any information that?

MICHAEL SCHMIDT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": So, yesterday, as we were preparing to publish our story, we spoke to Gaetz on the phone.

And he laid out for us these -- this scheme that he said has been cooked up against him. I found it difficult to follow and understand. It`s my understanding that the U.S. government has concluded that Robert Levinson has been dead for several years. He had gone missing an Iran on an apparent CIA mission, but that Levinson, the government believes he`s dead.

And so I`m not sure how all of this fits together. Gaetz has effectively used it as a distraction from the underlying investigation. And, in many ways, such an investigation would be an existential threat to a politician`s career. So, in some ways, it`s not surprising.

REID: Did he explain to you why, in his view, he would even be subject to an extortion plot? Because the -- if somebody is saying they`re extorting you because you`re being investigated for sex trafficking and underage sex trafficking of a minor, did he add that second piece as to why he thinks somebody would think they could get $25 million to extort him over that?

SCHMIDT: Well, I think the notion would be that these people could make the investigation go away, I think would be -- if we`re trying to understand the logic of the scheme that has been laid out.

REID: Yes.

SCHMIDT: Getting the Justice Department to move away from anything seems like a very, very difficult thing to do. I`m sure Joyce can speak to that...

REID: Yes.

SCHMIDT: ... to how far-fetched that notion is.

So, I wish I could make better sense of the scheme, so people could understand this story better, but I have struggled with it myself.

REID: Joyce, can you just answer that question?

Is this the way the Justice Department typically works, that if you can provide information on a missing person in Iran, and you didn`t even do it yourself, like, right, basically saying these two men, whoever they are, if he could somehow give $25 million, the dad would, then somehow it would make Gaetz look good to who?

I mean, this was the Trump administration. This wasn`t even -- I don`t get it. Is this the way the Justice Department works?

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: None of us get this. I mean, this is the difficulty in discussing this story. Literally nothing about it makes sense right now.

But, obviously, to Mike`s point, and as you know, Joy, you can`t pay $25 million to make an investigation against you go away. And this is a little bit more near and dear to the heart of most prosecutors, because, if there`s any kind of investigation prosecutors take deadly seriously, it`s these investigations into sex trafficking of minors.

The prosecutors who do these cases tend to be -- it tends to be one or two people in each district. They`re very focused. They`re very networked across the country. They`re very committed to doing these cases and getting the longest sentences possible, so these folks can`t hurt children anymore.

The notion that you could pay $25 million to make a child sex trafficking case go away is just ludicrous. Even in Bill Barr`s Justice Department, that wouldn`t have worked.

REID: And let`s talk about Bill Barr`s Justice Department for a moment, Michael, because one of the intriguing sort of things about this very weird case is the idea that it was opened under Bill Barr`s Justice Department, which was very disfavorable toward investigations that could harm allies of the former president.

In this case, it appears that Barr knew about it and was OK with it.

SCHMIDT: So, when an elected official, someone of prominence, comes under investigation, it has to be briefed to the Justice Department. At times, senior Justice Department officials have to sign off on it, given the sensitivities around it.

And, in this case, the Justice Department allowed the investigation to move forward. The alleged conduct was very troubling. And there was certainly significant evidence there. And they allowed the investigation to move forward.

That -- in normal times, that would be significant. But because President Trump so politicized the Justice Department, and talked so much about ongoing investigations and about how corrupt the Justice Department was and the FBI was, we`re sitting here talking about the fact that it`s notable that an investigation was allowed to go forward.

And that just typically, under another president, wouldn`t be the case.

REID: Indeed. Yes, the fact that is even a question is actually a pretty negative statement about William Barr.

Let me play another piece of this also very weird Tucker Carlson interview with Matt Gaetz. Here it is.


CARLSON: You just saw our Matt Gaetz interview. That was one of the weirdest interviews I have ever conducted.

That story just appeared in the news a couple of hours ago. And on the certainty that there`s always more than you read in the newspaper, we immediately called Matt Gaetz and asked him to come on and tell us more, which, as you saw, he did.

I don`t think that clarified much. But it certainly showed this as a deeply interesting story. And we will be -- we will be following it.


REID: Well, and that is, of course, the post-interview. That was not during the interview. That was the post-interview.

But, Joyce, it did clarify one thing. Matt Gaetz is determined to put Tucker Carlson at a table with whoever it is that the Justice Department is potentially investigating him over. Is Tucker Carlson potentially going to pop up on a witness list for this investigation?

VANCE: Hard to say. That certainly seemed like it was what Matt Gaetz was trying to do in that really strange interview.

The one thing that`s clear, the only certain takeaway I have from this is that the congressman needs a lawyer. He needs to have someone giving him legal advice, because he is perilously close to incriminating himself, conceding some of the elements of potential crimes, and just running his mouth in a way that no one who`s the subject of a federal investigation should be doing.

REID: Yes. And he might want to do better than his favorite president in terms of his choice of lawyers.

Michael, where is this going? Because the big question, I think, that seems obvious is, is there an individual young woman in question, an underage person in question, that journalists like yourself are aware of? Is that a thing that you can report on or that you think will be revealed imminently in this very strange case?

SCHMIDT: I think it`s going to take some time to really figure out where this is all headed.

This investigation, as you pointed out, was an outgrowth of one into a local tax collector in a small -- in a county outside of Orlando. And it has grown into this. That tax collector is scheduled to go on trial this summer, in June. He`s been charged with an array of things. He was actually indicted again today on different charges unrelated to the trafficking issue.

So, there`s obviously a lot of activity here that`s going on. This investigation has been going on for some time, for many, many months, at least certainly on the tax collector. And we`re just trying to follow every read as much as we can.

REID: And the last question to you, Joyce.

In terms of the law, if somebody goes to someone and says, hey, if you give me a lot of money, I might be able to come up with some information that will make you look good to prosecutors, is that actually extortion?

VANCE: Extortion is more of a threat. Threatening to disclose information or threatening violence against you is what triggers the federal extortion statute.

This is -- this is more akin to some sort of an almost a pay-to-play scheme, which is interesting, because Gaetz used that language in the interview with Tucker Carlson, sort of saying, if you pay me a lot of money, I can get public officials to act corruptly in your case.

But, again, the facts are so attenuated here. The individuals named aren`t current DOJ officials.

REID: Right.

VANCE: It`s just really tough to under stand how this was supposed to work.

REID: It is really weird. And he revealed the father wearing a wire. All - - it`s all very strange.

But thank you for helping us to try to understand it.

Michael Schmidt, great reporting. And, Joyce Vance, thank you very much.

OK, we have got a lot more to get to tonight -- whew, weird -- including Joe Biden`s super ambitious two -- $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

And Florida Republicans still leading the way in demonstrating how not to deal with a pandemic, and, of course, our absolute worst.

Don`t go anywhere.


REID: Congratulations, America. It`s finally infrastructure week.

You may be used to what happened every time the previous administration turned to the topic. During his first infrastructure week, the former president accused his former FBI director of lying. Later that year, he derailed an infrastructure event by blaming both sides for the violence in Charlottesville. And, in 2019, he stormed out of an infrastructure meeting, blaming Democrats for investigating him.

As "The New York Times"` Katie Rogers put it: "Infrastructure week was a Groundhog Day-style fever dream doomed to be repeated."

But the curse is officially broken today. President Biden introduced the first part of an actual infrastructure plan, free of any other drama.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I`m proposing a plan for the nation that rewards work, not just rewards wealth.

It`s a once-in-a-generation investment in America.

If we act now, in 50 years, people are going to look back and say this was the moment that America won the future.


REID: The $2.25 trillion bill, among many things, invests in transportation, as well as safer drinking water, a modernized electric grid, broadband access and affordable housing.

President Biden plans to raise the money to pay for it by raising taxes on corporations. In a new poll from Politico and Morning Consult, a majority said they would support a Biden infrastructure plan. It`s an investment America desperately needs.

A recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers gave America a C-minus when it comes to our infrastructure needs.

I`m joined now by Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

Thank you so much for being here.

So, let`s go through this bill. It`s $2.25 trillion, $621 billion for transportation infrastructure -- that means roads, bridges, electric vehicles -- $400 billion to care for the elderly. You have got a lot of stuff -- you can see it up there -- safer drinking water, revitalizing manufacturing, sustainable housing.

Sounds really good. How do you actually get it through Congress?

GINA RAIMONDO, U.S. SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: Yes. Good evening, Joy. It`s great to be with you.

We are optimistic that we will get it through Congress. The president has been clear there`s room for compromise. Today begins the discussion and the debate. He has done what a great leader does, put forth his vision. And now we begin the discussion.

But what I would say is, we can`t afford not to do it. I mean, this is -- this is about basic fairness. It`s about rebuilding. It`s about American competitiveness. It`s investing in our workers, investing in businesses, basic research.

Two, as you were pointing out, we have deferred for too long. It`s time to take action. And our grandkids are going to be grateful if we do it.

REID: The last sort of big infrastructure president was Dwight David Eisenhower. It feels like we haven`t repaired some of our roads and bridges since the Eisenhower administration.

So, it seems like something that typically Republicans and Democrats -- politics is about fill in the potholes and building stuff. Like, that seems sort of bipartisan. But, even with that, can you name one Republican who is in favor of this bill? And, also, is Joe Manchin on board?

RAIMONDO: You know, again, today is the beginning. The president outlined the vision a couple of hours ago.

I am optimistic that we will have Republican support for portions of the plan. For example, some -- the area that I will work on a great deal is investments in the semiconductor industry. I know there is bipartisan support for that. Investments in broadband. It`s a shame that not every one in America has access to high-quality, affordable broadband.

And there are -- there is bipartisan support for that. By the way, that means everyone, if you live in a city, or if you live on a tribal land, or if you live in a rural area. And there are a lot -- there is support for that across the aisle. So, I`m optimistic.

I know it`s not going to be easy. I know it`s a challenging political environment. This is an American bill. It`s about giving Americans the chance to compete. And it`s about outcompeting where we need to. It`s about standing up for American workers and American businesses.

REID: But let`s talk about what you might have to trade.

I mean, you have people on the left side. You have AOC and -- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez -- out there saying it`s not big enough, you need to do more, and invest more money.

On the other side, are you going to wind up having to trade adding coal and fossil fuel stuff in there in order to get people like your Joe Manchins to go along with it? Because, at the end of the day, one of the things we`re hearing is that the proposal is to maybe roll back some of the SALT tax, what they call the tax that used to save you money in blue states, where that was gone away, sort of rolling that back.

I mean, are -- what are you going to have to trade in order to create a coalition to pass this bill? Are you going to end up having to do stuff that`s actually going to hurt the environment, when this bill is supposed to actually be pro-environment?

RAIMONDO: Yes, so, the -- again, today`s the beginning. And of course, there will be compromise.

The president has been very clear with us, his team, he wants to get something done, which means reaching out across the aisle and looking for common ground.

REID: But -- I`m sorry. I didn`t mean to interrupt you.

But climate change is like a big deal. It`s a big issue. And this bill is supposed to help address it.

RAIMONDO: Yes. But...

REID: But would you be willing to trade things that would increase the amount of coal or the amount of oil that`s being used? Because that`s the kind of stuff that I can foresee prince Joe Manchin coming in and demanding.


REID: Are you willing to do that, or are you -- is the president going to do what he did on the stimulus and say, no, there`s certain red lines here?

RAIMONDO: Yes, look, this is a values-based package. And he is not going to, we are not going to compromise on core values. And meeting the challenges of climate change is a core value. Equity is a core value.

But, you know, certainly, I would not want to speak for my friend, Senator Manchin, but there`s a lot in the package that he would like, and it`s great for the people of West Virginia. It`s about putting people back to work in West Virginia. It`s about putting people to work in manufacturing. It`s about training folks so they can be prepared to get the jobs of today and tomorrow. It`s about housing in West Virginia and in every state in America.

So there really is a lot to like. If you`re serious about putting Americans back to work in good-paying jobs, you have to be for this. And yes, there will be compromise, but none on the core values to the point that you`re asking

REID: I guess the last question would be -- will this, perhaps -- well, we`ll pass that for just a moment. Let me actually play you a little bit of the way that the first cabinet meeting went.

This is -- we`ll just end this on a fun note. Here is the first cabinet meeting for the former president because I know there is a first cabinet meeting for Joe Biden coming up. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, thanks for the honor to serve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President. It`s been a great honor traveling with you around the country for the last year and an even greater honor to be here serving in your cabinet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, I am privileged to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Biggest privilege of my life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you`ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people.


REID: So, tomorrow is the first meeting for President Biden. Have you scripted your effusive praises or do you think that might not be required?

RAIMONDO: Well, I do love the president and it is an honor to serve, but we`re ready to get to work. We are ready to get to work. We are already working.

And by the way, as I looked around that table, I hope you will see tomorrow a much more diverse group of people around the president and I`m very proud to serve under a president who values diversity and equity. That means hard work.

REID: That will be a refreshing change.

Secretary Gina Raimondo, thanks for taking some time and having some fun with us at the end.

Before we take a quick break, a quick update on a story that we covered last night on THE REIDOUT. Police in New York City have arrested a man they believe carried out that brutal assault on a 65-year-old Asian woman -- Asian-American woman on Monday.

Police say the suspect, 38-year-old Brandon Elliot, was paroled in 2019 -- get this -- after serving 17 years for stabbing his mother to death. He`s been charged with felony assault as a hate crime.

We`ll be right back.


REID: If you have received your much-needed economic check relief check from the American Rescue Plan, that is great. You can thank the Biden administration, House and Senate Democrats and, frankly, the voters of Georgia because, friendly reminder, zero Republicans have voted for it.

But some hypocritical hangers on have tried to claim credit for it anyway, like Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker who infamously bragged that independent restaurant owners would get cash conveniently, omitting the whole "I voted against it" part.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described these Republicans. They vote no and take the dough. Which brings us to Madison Cawthorn, the youngest member of Congress and reigning teen beat model for owning the libs. Like his baby Trump twinsy in the House, the aforementioned Matt Gaetz, Cawthorn is noting more than a member of the grand troll party.

He told his colleagues in an email, quote, I have built my staff around communications rather than legislation.

See, when the House is preparing to vote on the $1.9 trillion stimulus, Madison was, shall we say, busy. That same day, BuzzFeed detailed numerous allegations of misconduct and harassment against Cawthorn while he was in college, which was literally only four years ago, claims that he has denied.

But that night, he went on Fox News to crow about outreach to young conservatives.


REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): We`re going to make sure we have a great moral foundation to stand upon and we`re going to use all of that to create an incredible economy and an incredible country.


REID: But young Madison wasn`t in Washington then. Just hours before the stimulus vote, no, no, no, no, he was in Florida for the CPAC political conference. Like Matt Gaetz, Cawthorn prioritized CPAC over his constituents, voting by proxy instead. Oh, the same dude who as a candidate called Democrats cowards for voting by proxy which they did because of COVID.

Anyway, the hits kept coming for poor little Cawthorn who had visited Hitler`s vacation home on his little bucket list. Around the same time, "The Washington Post" detailed the false and embellished claims that propelled Cawthorn to the Trumpy troll totem pole, including details about the accident that left him partially paralyzed. His claim in speeches that the friend driving pled and left him to for dead.

But in a deposition in an insurance case, he did say his friend left him to die, but rather that he had no memory.

But anyway, back to the stimulus. After it passed, Madison proudly tweeted that he voted no for the Pelosi payoffs. So, naturally, the Internet said, good cause to this you, Madison Cawthorn when he proclaimed yesterday that he was happy to see millions of dollars in federal funds going to medical facilities in North Carolina from the bill he phoned a friend to vote against. Those grants came directly from the Democrats` American Rescue Plan.

Which begs the obvious question, if it makes you so happy, should not you have voted for it, bro? Oh, right, communications, not legislation. Hypocrisy, thy name is Madison Cawthorn.

And for that you earn the dishonor of being crowned the absolute worst.


REID: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is proud as a peach of his handling of the coronavirus. After ginning up plaudits from Fox News and "Politico", the emboldened king of COVID is targeting private businesses that want their customers to provide proof of vaccination.

The cruise industry, which is itching to set sail has announced vaccination requirements for their guests. DeSantis, ostensibly a free market Republican, has vowed to prohibit private businesses from doing just that. Warning he would issue an executive order banning vaccine requirements.

He`s also vowing to sue the CDC if they don`t allow cruises to restart by the summer.

The guy is restricting safety requirements while pushing to the industry`s top right to pack hundreds of potentially infectious people in confined spaces, brilliant.

Currently, COVID-19 is surging in Florida. Just look at this Mayo Clinic map that shows the state`s hot spots.

According to "The New York Times", Miami-Dade County, home to spring break destination, Miami Beach, is currently a very high risk zone because of a severe outbreak. Just the last week, the number of variant cases have doubled. The overall number of cases is averaging 5,000 per day since the start of the pandemic, nearly 34,000 Floridians have died.

Joining me now is Nikki Fried, Florida commissioner for agriculture and consumer services.

And, Commissioner Fried, what a strange governor you have you know, I`m no longer a Florida resident, so I can say that you have. He wants to sign an executive order. Does he have the power to stop private businesses from requiring people have a COVID test to like get on a cruise that seems beyond the power of a governor? Is that in his power?

NIKKI FRIED (D), FLORIDA AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER: Yeah. He continues to try to expand his power every single day. And I just want to apologize to the rest of the country of what happens here in the state of Florida. I mean, he went off on the rampage earlier this week that he is going to shut down allowing local businesses and state businesses to mandate people from protecting their employees and people that are coming into their shops or on the cruise line industry.

You know, the Republicans continue to be hypocrite. You know, they keep talking about this free market and supporting the Constitution and that`s what the bread and butter is. But yet, every opportunity that Ron DeSantis has, he continues to siphon the economy and siphon this free market businesses who want to just do right by the people and the people coming to enjoy their products or, you know, their ship cruise line industry

REID: Well, I mean, you know, nothing terrifies than the idea of being on a cruise right now. I mean, COVID and the variants are still ranging, they`re ranging particularly in Florida, more deaths, more people getting sick, what is the rational that is coming out of the governor`s office to demand that the CDC allow the ships to sail, especially if he`s saying he wants them to sail without vaccine mandates? In other words, he`s saying let them sail with sick people and infectious people on them.

FRIED: Well, let`s be realistic. The governor is not rational from day one he has taken this very dogmatic approach to the pandemic -- open up the state of Florida. Never close it down at the front end. Never mandate a mask ordinance and then tells our local governments to take ownership of this issue and then comes in and said, never mind, we`re not going to allow you to enforce your mandates and we`re going to get rid of all the funs and fees you put on the state of Florida and the people, you know?

So he has taken this approach that he believes he`s right and he`s going to say these things because he is so focused on his popularity and that he wants to take and have ownership of this Trump, you know, lane, that we saw the last eight years. He doesn`t really understand that in order for our economy to bounce back, we should get in front of this pandemic. That means that he should showing leadership on getting the vaccine, encouraging our businesses and our local communities to be doing right to make sure that we`re wearing masks, we`re social distancing, that we`re getting everybody vaccinated.

Instead, he`s focusing on this dogmatic approach of just open up the economy and we`re going to be fine and this herd immunity and behind this and I`m going to go on to these national stages and Fox News and say, victory, accomplished, look at everybody, I was right all the time. He is very egotistical and believes that he`s right.

Instead of talking about the 34,000 Floridian that we have lost, where is his compassion for those individuals and those family members, business that have gone out of business because he refused to put the pandemic and the response to the pandemic as a priority. Instead, he was trying to kiss up to Donald Trump and even now that he`s living in our state, trying to get the support of the past president and all of his supporters, and not recognizing that he`s got to focus on the citizens of our state and making sure that we get through this pandemic.

REID: Are you worried that a certain point, businesses and travelers are going to start to see Florida as sort of an infection hub that doesn`t care about, you know, decreasing infections and start to stay away and it could end up hurting the economy there?

FRIED: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I have friends all across the country who said, listen, I want to be down there to see my friends during the holidays. I can`t now, because you have a governor that opened up our state.

Look what is happening in Miami-Dade County, which is my hometown. You know, I`m somebody who, you know, of course, I appreciate people wanting to be on spring break and haven`t seen their family and haven`t seen their friends and have been locked up.

But if you don`t have a governor that is telling people, yes, come to our state. But you have to be safe. You have to make sure that you`re social distancing. You got to be wearing your masks. And eventually, people are going to stop coming to the state of Florida because of this, even if we`re all open, they were not taking the precautions, people will not come here to the state.

REID: Let me ask you a question, are you going to run against him when he runs for election?

FRIED: You know, Joy, as our only statewide elected Democrat, I`m asked this question on an every day basis.

REID: Yeah.

FRIED: And every single day, it`s becoming clearer and clearer that Ron DeSantis needs to be a one term governor. Not only has he already left the state of Florida, his eyes are already on 2024, focusing on the presidential bid and not on what`s right for the state of Florida. We`re getting very close to making a decision because the state of Florida and the people that live here deserve so much better than what they`re getting from Ron DeSantis.

REID: Last question, you accused -- there`s been some reporting that accused and you also retweeted that the governor there fudged some numbers in terms of COVID? Do you stand by that? There`s been some dispute about whether that is true.

FRIED: Without a doubt. He has been, you know, fudging numbers from day one. Both on numbers that are come being out of our nursing homes, coming out of our prison system, ask the different morgues to change the death certificates and now the latest reports of this week shows that in fact we had almost 5,000 more deaths than reported.

So, I do believe that he has lost the faith of the citizens of our state because they know that he`s not been honest with them from day one.

REID: Nikki Fried, thank you so much for being here. If you run, please come back and let us know. Appreciate it.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.