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Transcript: The ReidOut, 4/8/21

Guests: Marq Claxton, Brandt Williams, Katie Benner, Jemele Hill, Brandon Wolf


Chauvin trial focuses on cause of Floyd`s death. Dr. Tobin says, Floyd died from lack of oxygen. Dr. Tobin says, Floyd was trying to breathe with his fingers. Speaking before an audience of gun safety advocates as well as survivors of gun violence, President Joe Biden today announced new actions on gun reform.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: That does it for me. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid is up next.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. Well, if you`re Matt Gaetz tonight, you`re probably feeling a wee bit nervous. The man you called your wingman, Joel Greenberg, the guy who made a creepy phone call with you to a Florida lawmaker, that guy, is expected to plead guilty in the coming weeks to a virtual flood of federal charges, including sex trafficking, increasing the likelihood that he`ll cooperate with authorities. And you know what they say, the way to get yourself free of a crime is to give up someone juicier.

And not even a letter of support signed by the women of the office U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz, though awkwardly not signed by any actual women, can save you. Much more on Matt Gaetz`s political legal peril in a moment.

But we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with science, namely riveting testimony in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, that focused on the key question of exactly what caused George Floyd`s death. The prosecution zeroed in on that very question today with Dr. Martin Tobin, an expert pulmonologist and breathing expert with 46 years of experience, who gave testimony free of charge to the state, no fees involved, offering his medical opinion on exactly how Mr. Floyd died.


DR. MARTIN TOBIN, PULMONARY SPECIALIST: Mr. Floyd died from a low level of oxygen, and this caused damage to his brain that we see, and it also caused PEA arrhythmia that caused his heart to stop.


REID: Dr. Tobin, who said that he watched videos of Floyd on the ground hundreds of times, also noted the body language that revealed Floyd`s desperation during his final moments of life.


TOBIN: You see his knuckle against the tire. And to most people, this doesn`t look terribly significant. But to a physiologist, this is extraordinarily significant, because this tells you that he has used up his resources and he is now literally trying to breathe with his fingers and knuckles.


REID: The expert pulmonologist also countered the defense`s claim that drug use and underlying health conditions led to Floyd`s death.


TOBIN: A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died.


REID: While he also noted the exact moment that Floyd died.


TOBIN: At the beginning, you can see he`s conscious. You can see slight flickering. And then it disappears. So one second he`s alive, and one second, he`s no longer.

That`s the moment the life goes out of his body.


REID: And still, Chauvin`s knee remained.


TOBIN: So when he last take a breath, the knee remains on the neck for another three minutes and 27 seconds.

After there`s no pulse, the knee remains on the neck for another two minutes and 44 seconds.


REID: Dr. Tobin`s testimony appears to contradict the findings of the medical examiner, Dr. Andrew Baker, who determined Floyd died because his heart and lungs stopped functioning while being restrained by police, with no mention of insufficient oxygen. That medical examiner is scheduled to testify tomorrow.

And joining me now is Marq Claxton, Director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance and retired NYPD detective, Brandt Williams, reporter for Minnesota Public Radio, and Dr. Vin Gupta, a clinical care pulmonologist and friend of the show.

We brought you in today, Dr. Gupta, because this was testimony that was really all about the science. How effective do you believe Dr. Tobin was in terms of explaining the science to the jury and really explaining specifically how George Floyd died?

DR. VIN GUPTA, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, good evening, Joy. He gave a crash course on Pulmonary 101, which I think all of us have an intuitive sense of any way pulmonogists are not. How do you breathe? You breathe through the windpipe, which was being strangulated by the knee of Mr. Chauvin. You also breathe by elevating your rib cage. That was being compressed. Mr. Floyd -- his chest was actually on the street and then he was being pinned down, you can`t elevate the rib cage.

That`s why I love that Dr. Tobin was talking about how he was trying to contort his hips, Joy, just to try to see if he could free the right half of his chest to see if he could at least elevate and get some oxygen into his lungs.

And then something we haven`t talked perhaps a lot about is there`s a receptor in the neck that`s called the carotid sinus. I won`t get too technical here, but if you massage it or put pressure on it like a knee on the neck, that actually signals to the heart, let me start slowing down the heart rate.

So there were three things happening to Mr. Floyd at that moment that`s going to decrease his heart rate, the lack of oxygen and actually the activation of that receptor in a major blood vessel, that`s why he died.

REID: So it sounds like you`re saying that both the person who performed the autopsy and Dr. Tobin could both be right, that, yes, he died of his heart failure, but he died because of what was being done to him and air not going through his body?

GUPTA: Oh, absolutely. I mean, this is a -- this is what -- we call this a respiratory arrest, no oxygen. Heart needs oxygen to actually fundamentally beat, beat to beat. The lack of oxygen is what caused the cardiac arrest.

He used the term PEA arrhythmia. That`s pulseless electrical activity. I thought your viewers may want to know that, you know what, usually we think heart attacks are clutching in pain your chest, you might have jaw pain, that`s one type of heart attack. That`s when you want to put pads on your chest and get a shock. This is a different type of heart attack, where you have lack oxygen. It`s very different. You don`t necessarily have that chest pain. But it`s that lack of oxygen that causes the heart to stop.

REID: Yes. There is a ton of sound here that I have here that I could play, but I actually want to skip to this, this is cut two from my producers. And this is to you, Marq, because the defense has been trying to build this case that it was the drugs that they`re now saying there were a couple of unfinished, undigested pills found in the back of a squad car. They`re trying to say George Floyd died because of drugs, not because basically the breath was crushed out of him by Derek Chauvin.

Here is Dr. Tobin talking about his respiration and how that discredits the fentanyl theory. Take a listen.


TOBIN: That would mean a normal respiratory rate of between 12 and 22. That`s the normal range of respiratory rate. And so if it was with fentanyl, you would be expecting a respiratory rate of ten. Instead of that, you count it here yourself, and you can see when you count it yourself that the respiratory rate is 22. So, basically, it tells you there isn`t fentanyl onboard.


REID: And when you kind of combine all of that, you have the testimony that, no, it wasn`t the drugs, his respiration was fine after allegedly ingesting the drugs, that there were 91 total pounds being exerted down on George Floyd`s next, which is also his testimony.

And now, let me play just one more thing. This is cut three, and this is the thing that defense is claiming police believe, which is if you can talk, you can breathe. Take a listen.


TOBIN: They`re also telling me that at that time, when he`s saying, please, I can`t breathe, we know at that point he has oxygen in his brain. And, again, it`s a perfect example of how it gives you a huge false sense of security because very shortly after that, we`re going to see that he has a major loss of oxygen in the way that he moves his leg. And so it tells you how dangerous is the concept of if you can breathe -- or if you can speak, you can breathe.


REID: Marq, this strikes me as two of some of the more common excuses in police killings. This person was whacked out on drugs, and, hey, he could talk, therefore he could breathe.

MARQ CLAXTON, DIRECTOR, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: Yes. And I tell you, Dr. Tobin`s testimony today, as you indicated, Joy, was riveting, it was graphic and it was almost as graphic and compelling as the body cam video itself. It was so detailed and precise that it kept your attention. And it`s likely that that presentation is really going to inform police tactics and training moving forward.

Even this concept, this false idea, which I was trained on in the police academy, that if you can talk, you can breathe, even that will be changed as a result of this specific testimony session.

Now, I think future proceedings also involving the use of force and possible positional asphyxiation with the police involved will be changed around. And also for many years, there`s been a team of doctors out on the west coast, in San Diego, who are like the go-to police expert witnesses to support their positions normally associated with asphyxia.

I think what Dr. Tobin did today was to set a different standard and establish and really nullify a lot of the work that these particular doctors have been doing tens of times and getting police officers off or not charged for cases similar to Mr. Floyd`s.

REID: Yes. Well, George Floyd`s daughter said that he changed the world, and in that way, it sounds like he may have.

Let me go to Brandt Williams, because you were in court yesterday, you were there for jury selection, so you at least have some sense of how this jury kind of is. And we know that some of the kind of things they`re seeing, you know, nobody arriving for Derek Chauvin to sit in the chair that`s on his side, and so sometimes that chair being removed, whereas the family of George Floyd or at least someone representing the family has been in court. And then today, having a witness really talk to the jury and really focus on them and sort of teach them in a way.

Let me play a little bit of it here. This is cut five. This is the jury sort of explaining sort of these physical aspects of what was happening to George Floyd in a very sort of teaching way to the jury.


TOBIN: And now if you put your hand at the back of your neck, and you feel the bottom of your skull, and so where the skull -- the bone of the skull ends, and then you come down from that, and you`ll find -- and you`ll put your whole palm of your hand around here.

JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA: Members of the jury, the witness is asking you to do certain things. These are not required. You may do them, and he should phrase it more in terms of if you were to do that. And if you wish to do it, that is your choice.


REID: We do know, Brandt, that a lot of them did it.

BRANDT WILLIAMS, REPORTER, MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO: Right. We got the pool notes from the reporters in the courtroom today, and they noticed nearly all of the jurors were starting to follow the direction of the doctor. And that`s important because, as the prosecution is trying to make their case, they obviously have to have the jurors be paying attention and being invested.

When I was in the courtroom yesterday, towards the afternoon, there were several witness who were forensic scientists who were presenting kind of boilerplate investigative discussion and terms. And I could see folks start to zone out a little bit. I mean, a lot of folks were trying to stay engaged.

But, you know, it`s like 3:00 in the afternoon, you`ve already had lunch you might be getting a little letdown of your energy, and then you`re listening to this testimony about, you know, positional or, you know, the different things that go into an investigation.

So it was -- I think that was something that the prosecutors detected yesterday, and they didn`t have that problem this morning.

REID: Yes, I can imagine. It was kind of like Dr. Vin Gupta talking to me. I feel like that`s how I am whenever Dr. Gupta is on.

So let`s hear one more thing, because, tomorrow, we are going to hear from the person who did the autopsy. And it was interesting to watch the prosecution preemptively sort of debunk what was found in the autopsy. But today, I`m wondering if he fully debunked it.

Let`s play a little of this. This is Dr. Tobin describing why you might not have expected to see low oxygen showing up in the autopsy.


JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: What about low oxygen? If somebody suffers or dies from low oxygen --


BLACKWELL: -- does that show up on autopsy?

TOBIN: No, it does not.

Because low oxygen is a functional thing, just an arrhythmia is a functional thing. It doesn`t leave a fingerprint on the autopsy. It`s just there.

So if you take somebody and you suffocate them with a pillow and it`s very clear to you after you`re suffocated, the person is dead from the pillow, you`re not going to see the effects of the low oxygen.


REID: I love the way he just explained it in such real-world terms. He even did, if I`m sitting in church and sitting on my bum, I`m not going to see the effects of it when I get up, like he was so good at that.

So, Dr. Gupta, do you anticipate that tomorrow then when we see the person who did the autopsy put on the stand, in a sense, they`re now basically saying that he is not contradicting the prosecution`s case. Is that what you expect to hear tomorrow?

GUPA: Well, you know, I`m concerned that there might be this trying to recreate some sort of notion that fentanyl played a role here. And what Dr. Tobin did was really, really important.

And let me emphasize this for all your viewers out there (INAUDIBLE). If this was the result of taking a medication like fentanyl, we would expect the respiratory rate to slowly decline to say six or four breaths per minute and that be the result of diminished oxygen.

And you`d see that Mr. Floyd would be acting a certain way, that he was breathing in the low 20s, high normal. He was trying to compensate for being strangulated. So that`s a key piece here.

And I think that`s really good he pushed back and made that distinction, what fentanyl-induced low oxygen will look like and what was actually happening. That`s number one.

But to the doctor`s point on the autopsy, I agree with him, signs of low oxygen generally cannot be found on autopsy. However, typically speaking, if you have somebody who comes in and they had a respiratory arrest, slow oxygen, you name it, we might get a C.T. scan of their head and there will be signs radiographically, Joy, of diminished oxygen and the injury that causes to the brain.

So there are data points to look at to say, okay, well, maybe the brain actually suffered what we call an anoxic injury and they can hopefully be able to look at that information.

REID: Wow, I can`t wait to see this testimony tomorrow. The science part I find fascinating, and I think a lot of people did too. Thank you very much for explaining that, Marq Claxton, Brandt Williams and Dr. Vin Gupta, my instructor on all things medical related on this show, live on T.V., and I always appreciate you for that.

Still ahead on THE REIDOUT, breaking news on the ongoing Matt Gaetz saga, as his indicted associate Joel Greenberg indicates he might be looking for a plea deal. As Greenberg`s lawyer said, I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.

And strike three for conservatives as they slam cancel culture while calling for an all-out boycott of America`s pastime.

Plus, Biden unveils new executive actions aimed at addressing gun violence. Do they go far enough?

And the self-appointed prime minister of the United States Senate, West Virginia`s Joe Manchin, says he will never, ever agree to filibuster changes no matter what that means for Biden`s agenda or what it means for his own constituents. Well, that puts old Joe Manchin in the running for tonight`s absolute worst.

But we actually did find someone even more deserving.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: Well, Matt Gaetz`s legal troubles just got a little more ominous.

Today a lawyer for former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg says his client was expected to plead guilty to a slew of federal charges in the coming weeks.

Greenberg is a close associate of Matt Gaetz, his wing man, in fact. Indeed, the investigation into Gaetz for potential sex trafficking was launched out of the investigation into Greenberg, who, among other charges, has been indicted on a count of sex trafficking an underage girl.

Investigators are also looking into whether Gaetz and Greenberg used the Internet to search for women they could pay for sex. Greenberg has until May 15 to enter a plea. But it raises the prospect that he could cooperate as a witness against Gaetz.

Here`s Greenberg`s lawyer outside the courthouse today.


QUESTION: Does Matt Gaetz have anything to worry about?

FRITZ SCHELLER, ATTORNEY FOR JOEL GREENBERG: Does Matt Gaetz -- that is such a...


QUESTION: When it comes to what happened today in court.

SCHELLER: I`m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.


REID: Lesson to old Matty boy, there are no friends in politics.

Meanwhile, Gaetz, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, released a statement today entitled: "Breaking: The women of U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz his office speak out in defense of Representative Gaetz."

The letter reads -- quote -- "On every occasion, he has treated each and every one of us with respect. Thus, we uniformly reject these allegations as false."

OK, but here`s the fun thing. The letter is not actually signed by any specific women, just the women of the office of United States Congressman Matt Gaetz.

When pressed by NBC, an aide said on background that there are eight women in the office, and all eight have signed onto the letter. But the aide did not respond to request to release the names of those aides, who Gaetz`s office claimed fully support him in these challenging times.

Joining me now, Katie Benner, Justice Department reporter for "The New York Times," and Katie Phang, MSNBC legal contributor.

The Katies are here for us tonight.

So, I`m going to start with Katie Benner.

Let`s talk about this. These two, Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Gaetz, reportedly shared girlfriends, at least one. Gaetz called him his wing man. Three Greenberg friends told Politico that they personally heard him boast about his 2017 relationship with a then 17-year-old girl they claim went on to work in pornography.

It`s pretty seamy. How much trouble does it appear that Mr. Gaetz might be in, because, if Mr. Greenberg talks, he`s going to be talking about him?

KATIE BENNER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I think one of the big issues for Mr. Gaetz is whether or not Joel Greenberg gives investigators information about that 17-year-old girl who you mentioned.

We have heard allegations that both men had sex with her, and that she was given a free hotel. Basically, if you give an underage person anything of value, it is considered child sex trafficking under the law. That comes with a mandatory 10 years in prison.

And so to the extent that Mr. Greenberg can give federal investigators information about that piece of the investigation, that would be serious trouble.

REID: And, Katie Benner, to stay with you for just a moment, do you -- is there any reporting that you have done that comes any closer to finding out who this young girl is?

BENNER: I think that we -- I think that a lot of reporters are coming closer to understanding her identity and understanding who she is.

But I also think that she`s really not the focus of the investigation in so many ways. The focus is what was done to her. So I don`t know that her identity matters as much to the story.

REID: It wouldn`t matter to the story, but it would matter to investigators, Katie Phang, right?

BENNER: Absolutely.

REID: That she would be a witness. She would be like the star witness in a case like this.

Explain a little bit, because this is a principle we do hear sort of as laypeople, but, as an attorney, I mean, if you`re facing 33 or so counts of very serious crimes, from making fake identities and extortion, all sorts of stuff he`s facing, and you`re just a tax collector, you`re not like a big deal, and your friend is a United States congressman, isn`t that sort of a core prosecution tactic, is plead on up, like, give somebody juicier than you, somebody bigger than you?

KATIE PHANG, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. You`re going to want to try to move as high up the food chain as possible.

And so somebody like Greenberg and his history of his relationship with Matt Gaetz, he`s going to be the person that the prosecution is, number one, though, is going to vet. We`re going to vet him before we give them a plea deal...

REID: Right.

PHANG: ... because why does he want to do this? He wants to save his own skin.

But Greenberg is the guy that can peel back the layers of an onion that can only make Matt Gaetz cry. And, as Katie Benner just said, a victim 14 to 17 years old makes a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

And under the federal sentencing guidelines, for somebody like Joel Greenberg, what is he incentivized by? Well, you get points reduced from your possible sentencing exposure if you plead guilty, you do it quickly, and you cooperate.

So, Greenberg has every reason under the sentencing sun to want to sell out Matt Gaetz. And the one thing that we heard from his lawyer today that kind of is ominous, other than Gaetz must be uncomfortable today, is, this is what he said: "If Mr. Greenberg accepts a plea agreement, he will want to show his sense of remorse, which he does have, and his sense of acceptance of responsibility. He`s uniquely situated."

Uniquely situated to do what, right?

REID: Yes.

PHANG: To be able to deliver somebody like Matt Gaetz on the proverbial platter.

And so, when you look at the charges, and you look at the exposure, I hate to say it, there`s always a Florida connection. And I know that, Joy, we have Florida connections, right?

REID: We do.

PHANG: There`s always a Florida connection.

REID: Always.

PHANG: But you know what? There`s also allegation that Matt Gaetz took somebody, a young woman, to -- a young girl to the Bahamas.

REID: Yes.

PHANG: It`s very reminiscent too of the Epstein allegations, right...

REID: Yes. Yes.

PHANG: ... the idea that he transported a victim to another place.

So there`s a lot of incentive for Greenberg to want to cooperate with the feds.

REID: Yes, absolutely.

And, Katie Benner, one of the things that has been really remarkable and notable about this whole series of very sordid events is the deafening silence from Trump world, from MAGA world in defense of Matt Gaetz.

I mean, there was sort of a perfunctory statement put out by the former president, who says, well, he never asked me personally for a pardon and he says he denies it. That`s what he said about Roy Moore, right?

He didn`t say anything more sort of telling than that. And you haven`t really heard Trump world spring up to defend Matt Gaetz.

BENNER: Mm-hmm.

And I think that speaks to the seriousness of the charge against him. And I think that it also speaks to the fact that many people in Trump world were waiting to see what Greenberg was going to do today. If Greenberg had continued to plead not guilty, if he`d said that he`d done nothing wrong, if he put up some sort of defense that would say that the federal government is wrong, it would have given more wiggle room, I think, to defend Congressman Gaetz.

That taken out of the picture, I think it`s going to be interesting to see what kind of responses we get, whether there will be more letters like the one you cited, where nobody was willing to put their name to it.

REID: Yes.

BENNER: What kind of defense he will be able to mount now, keeping in mind he`s on the Judiciary Committee, which has oversight of the Justice Department.

It`s also going to be a challenge to him to remain on that committee going forward, as the investigation into him begins to broaden and heat up.

REID: If I had more time, I would ask whether or not Katie Phang thinks that Tucker Carlson is going to end up getting called as a witness, since Gaetz did try to bring him into it. So I`m going to leave that as a tease for the next time that you all are on.

The Katies, Katie Benner and Katie Phang, you all are great. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

And still ahead: Conservatives, could you please just make up your dang minds? Cancel culture is a bad thing when it`s being done by woke liberals right, but calling for an all-out boycott of Major League Baseball because they`re standing up for voting rights is not a bad thing and not cancel culture? What? I`m so confused.

We will be right back.


REID: Well, as popular as baseball is today, it`s also the original all- American sport. And, in some ways, its progress on racial issues parallels America`s.

Major League Baseball made a big statement on April 15, 1947, when Jackie Robinson became the first black player to break out of the Negro Leagues and integrate the majors.

And the only reason Atlanta even has a baseball team is because the city agreed to integrate its old Fulton County Stadium as a condition for the Milwaukee Braves to relocate there.

And yet, like America writ large, it`s clear that challenges still remain even now. Black players make up just 7.8 percent of players on opening day rosters in 2020. Baseball is not exactly a sport that`s doing gangbusters with black fans either.

So, it is striking that the league that took the strongest action against Georgia`s voter suppression law is not the overwhelmingly black NBA or the NFL. And now the Republican Party, the party that wrapped itself in the flag while eating freedom fries, wants to cancel America`s pastime, because that most American of institutions says making it harder for black and brown people to vote is not in line with their values.

So, what will conservatives cancel next? Apple pie?

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott refused to throw out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers` home opener and said he would boycott MLB events. And the Republican Party itself tweeted, "Three strikes, you`re out," accusing the league of a communist conspiracy? You really just kind of can`t make this stuff up.

But it isn`t just Major League Baseball. Oh, no. The party of political theater, the supposed party of the free market, is in full hair-on-fire meltdown over corporate America deigning to criticize their anti-democratic voter suppression laws, not just in Georgia, but in other GOP-led states, like Texas.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): They folded like a wet dishrag to the cancel culture.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): They need to stay out of politics.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): If I were running a major corporation, I would stay out of politics. I`m not talking about political contributions.

REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): This is what I call the phenomenon that that`s going on. It`s progressive fascism. The Democrats have successfully captivated the institutions, pop culture, Hollywood, our education institutions, and now our corporations, into their own woke agenda.

This is fascism.


REID: That`s not -- that`s not the definition of fascism. OK, it should go without saying that Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw actually doesn`t know the definition of fascism. He should use the Google.

But I`m going to move on to our guests.

I`m joined now by Jemele Hill, contributing writer at "The Atlantic" and host of the "Jemele Hill Is Unbothered" podcast, and Dave Zirin, sports editor for "The Nation," MSNBC columnist, and author of the forthcoming book "The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World."

Thank you both for being here. I`m excited about this panel.

Jemele, it is sort of fascinating to watch Republicans go against the free market. I mean, these are private enterprises that, if they want to not have their game in a state, they have every right to do it.

But I want to read you one of the sort of pushbacks against it, Tim Scott. Tim Scott tweeted today on Colorado getting -- Denver getting the game, as opposed -- the All-Star Game, instead of Georgia: "Georgia voter I.D., 17 days of early voting. Colorado voter I.D., 15 days early voting. Atlanta is 51 percent black. Denver," where I grew up, so I know this is true, "is 9.2 percent black. Major League Baseball move in the All-Star Game out of Atlanta, which has more day-of vote than Colorado. The wokes are at it again, folks."

I mean, and I will note that Colorado pretty much votes all by mail. So, they don`t need as many days of absentee voting because it`s an all-mail -- they mail everybody a ballot. So, only like 10 percent of the people their vote in person.

But, anyway, you`re -- the floor is yours, Jemele. Your thoughts?


JEMELE HILL, "THE ATLANTIC": First of all, what`s up, Dave? I haven`t seen you in forever. He`s one of my favorite people, as are you, Joy.

Can I just beg and plead conservatives and the Republican Party, can you please stop using the word woke?

REID: Please.

HILL: Can you please stop using the word cancel culture?

Remember when woke used to be cool? And now it`s mom on Facebook. Like, I don`t know what happened.

REID: Yes.

HILL: Nevertheless, though, this is -- what is so interesting to me, among the many things, I should say, is that they`re calling for these all-out boycotts of Delta, of Coke, of anybody who dares to -- and I know this is weird for them -- stand on the right side of history.

Joy, refresh me if I`m right about this. I`m old enough to remember when they all stood in line when a Colorado baker decided that she did not want to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

REID: Yes.

HILL: That was just a private business making a choice.

REID: Freedom.

HILL: They said that was cool then, right? That was freedom, right?

REID: That`s freedom.

HILL: But now, all of a sudden, it`s not cool because it stands in direct opposition to voter suppression, which has become their calling card.

Here`s the reality. The Republicans have no agenda. They have no platform. All they can give you is canceling Major League Baseball, Lil Nas X, Cardi B, and Megan Thee Stallion. That`s all they got.


REID: It is something else.

And, Dave -- and so you two are both two of my favorite guests as well. So I`m so excited to have you both on.

I mean, Dave, look, if you think about it, this is not like the blackest league, right? This is not a league that is like catering to a lot of black fans exactly, right? Baseball, there`s very few black folks that are playing. It`s a very international league.

It also in Atlanta -- isn`t even in Atlanta, right? It`s the more white county. So it`s obvious that they see a business case for doing this for their bottom line, right? They obviously see this because, back in the day, these leagues sat back and allowed all sorts of horrors to go on against black people and didn`t do anything.

For them to move tells me this is a business decision for them.

DAVE ZIRIN, MSNBC COLUMNIST: Absolutely. This is Major League Baseball we`re talking about. This is a conservative institution.

And I think what we`re seeing is a reflection of the fact that the GOP is not willing to look itself in the mirror and ask the question, what is so noxious about us, what is so toxic about our agenda that even Major League Baseball is not willing to stand with us?


ZIRIN: Because that, to me, would be a wakeup call, instead of saying Major League Baseball is now part of the commie fascist agenda or whatever it is they`re saying.

I mean, they don`t know which way is up. Texas legislators today, Joy, introduced legislation making it on mandatory to play the national anthem before sporting events.


ZIRIN: So, do they want politics in sports, or don`t they? They don`t even know.

I mean, I`m glad there`s something on their agenda other than curbing voting rights and attacking transgender kids, but it still betrays that they are adrift.

Look, Jackie Robinson wrote a column in the late 1950s called "The Ballot and the Buck." And shout-out to Dr. Amira Rose Davis for alerting me to this.

And Robinson wrote that corporations have a responsibility to fight Jim Crow. So, these arguments (AUDIO GAP) they are not new. But baseball doesn`t want an average fan age that`s 57.

REID: Right.

ZIRIN: They want to have a diverse, anti-racist -- and it is 57. That`s the number.

They want a young, diverse anti-racist audience, yes.

REID: Correct.

ZIRIN: And -- but that doesn`t change the fact, even though this is done with corporate and business considerations, that this move has had real impact, not just politically, but ideologically.

REID: And -- right. There is a such thing. There`s a demo, right, that everyone is going for that is younger.

And if you look at people who are between 18 and 30, they are much more black and brown. You get to 5-year-olds, it`s a majority, already a majority black/brown/non-white world, if you`re a 5-year-old.

So you think about their future, Jemele, you can`t build your future on an elderly white audience. The Republican Party can`t either.

HILL: No, and that`s why I don`t know what they have to gain from any of this, from any of these culture wars that they seem very comfortable starting. All, to me -- all it`s doing is speeding up the demise of their party.

And another thing to consider with Major League Baseball, why they decided to do this despite the fact the very feel of this sport and what this sport representatives now is conservative, they also had someone like Dave Roberts, who is only one of two black managers in Major League Baseball, saying that he didn`t know if he would feel comfortable being the manager for the National League team at the all-star game.

You had other people who were outspoken and said they didn`t know what they would do either, which means rather than risk this issue hijacking their weekend in Atlanta, they decided to do the smart thing and move it. That way, Major League Baseball could take all the attacks, all the criticism and everything else, and then kind of be done with it.

They`re also trying to atone for the fact that they were the last major professional sports league to say something about George Floyd. It took them nine days, and they took a lot of heat as they should have for that. And this is their way of saying, for once we`re going to actually be out ahead of something and be a leader in the sports community.

REID: Very quickly, we`re out of time, but Dave, do you expect the other leagues to follow and do more as well?

ZIRIN: Yes. I think major league baseball has set a standard. I think players have expectations now that leagues will do more than just bring in profit. And I think the wine is out of the bottle. So, strap in, everybody. It`s going to be a bumpy ride.

REID: Yeah. I mean the culture has spoken, and Republicans are like sitting on the side thinking that they can avoid it. The culture is the culture, and demographics are just what they are.

Jemele Hill, Dave Zirin, thank you very much.

And up next, as President Biden unveils executive actions on gun violence, a high-profile salesman for gun fetishism cloaked in Second Amendment rights lands a well-deserved spot in our pantheon of absolute worst. Thanks for his penchant for luxury yachts and private jets, you know, for security.

Stay with us.


REID: Back in 2017, the National Rifle Association was at the peak of political influence. It had just spent a record sum to help elect the now former president, launched its own online TV channel, and it had even rolled out insurance policies to recover those who might actually shoot another human being.

But now just four short years later, the group is facing the harsh reality that its days might be numbered. Last summer, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued to dissolve the gun rights group, saying it has abused its status as a nonprofit organization. As the culmination of an 18-month investigation, the suit accused the NRA of numerous violations, including self-dealing and inappropriate spending on its top executives, especially CEO Wayne LaPierre.

And rather than stand his ground, however, LaPierre is running scared in an effort to evade responsibility. The NRA is seeking bankruptcy protection so that they can reincorporate in Texas, and that means their fate is now in the hands of a Texas judge.

This comes after we learned the embarrassing details of the NRA`s lavish spending on LaPierre`s extravagant lifestyle. According to the lawsuit and investigative reports, the NRA spent more than a half million dollars on private flights for LaPierre, including eight family trips to the Bahamas. And they paid his personal travel agent more than $200,000 a year. LaPierre expensed more than $100,000 in membership fees for a private golf club. And he spent $39,000 in a single day on a shopping spree for clothing.

LaPierre even tried to get the NRA to pay for his $6 million mansion in Texas. And he often made use of a vendor`s yacht, which was an unreported gift in excess of the NRA`s limit.

Now that the NRA is defending its bankruptcy petition in a Texas courtroom, LaPierre and the NRA`s lawyers are answering for some of these expenditures.

Take the private jets, for example. They were necessary to protect LaPierre`s safety according to his lawyer. And that yacht? According to LaPierre, those sailing trips were actually a security retreat where he could hide out after mass shootings.

Poor Wayne LaPierre actually said the yacht was the one place that I hope I could feel safe. In other words, LaPierre doesn`t just need guns to feel safe. He needs a yacht, private jets, and a tropical vacation for his own self-protection.

Oh, and did I mention that the NRA also paid for mosquito control at LaPierre`s home? Even that, they claimed, was for security purposes. You know, those little buggies can be dangerous.

But aside from that absurd defense of using a nonprofit as a personal piggy bank, LaPierre made another startling admission yesterday. As "The New York Times" reports, he had kept his organization`s recent bankruptcy filing secret from almost all of the NRA senior officials, including its own lawyer and most of its directors.

And all of that is what makes Wayne LaPierre today`s absolute worst.

Not everyone can afford the luxury of hiding out on a yacht to feel safe. The rest of us just want commonsense gun safety measures. And today, President Biden introduced several executive actions on that very front.

And after the break, I`ll talk to a survivor of the Pulse nightclub shooting, who is at the White House today.

Don`t go anywhere.



JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We got a lot of work to do, but I know almost every one of you sitting in the garden here, none of you have ever given up. We`re not going to give up now. The idea that we have so many people dying every single day from gun violence in America is a blemish on our character as a nation.


REID: Speaking before an audience of gun safety advocates as well as survivors of gun violence, President Joe Biden today announced new actions on gun reform. Among other things, he`s instructed the justice department to write rules to reduce the proliferation of so-called ghost guns, firearms that can literally be made at home without traceable serial numbers.

He also advocated for states to improve red flag laws which allow courts to temporarily block people from obtaining firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others. This comes after recent mass shootings in Georgia and Colorado, not to mention another one yesterday that left five people dead in South Carolina, including two children who were just 5 and 9 years old.

Sadly, we saw yet another mass shooting just today in Bryan, Texas, where six people were shot, leading one dead.

I`m joined now by Brandon Wolf, vice president of the Drew Project. He`s a survivor of the Pulse Nightclub shooting and he attended the president`s event in the Rose Garden today.

I know the answer to this because I was texting with you earlier, Brandon, but I want you to tell the country what you went through in Orlando. What did it mean to be in the White House today and what did you hear from the president?

BRANDON WOLF, PULSE NIGHTCLUB SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Well, first of all, it`s really nerve-racking to pick a suit color when it`s the first time visiting the White House. So that was the first thing on my mind. But as I rode my Uber over to the White House, you know, I thought about the last five years. I thought about the moment that I learned that my best friends had been gunned down on a nightclub floor and were never going to come home and say goodbye to us. I thought about all we`ve been through in that time.

I thought about Donald Trump`s presidency. I thought about how many times I`ve had to lay my trauma bare for people just in hopes that someone will hear me. And I thought about how much vindication there was in the president`s words today. I thought about how powerful the hope was radiating from the podium. What I heard from him today was not just really concrete actions, the largest of which we`ve seen in decades, but I also heard an invitation for Congress to find the same kind of political courage and spine that he has to get something done.

REID: You know, you talk about courage and spine. I have to ask you what you make of, you know, the person who`s in charge of the NRA, which has pretty much been selling guns to the American people under guise of liberty and all sorts of other things, really pushing for the industry to be able to sell more. That`s really what they`ve been about, saying that the only place he could possibly feel safe was on a yacht, on a friend`s 100-foot yacht.

When you hear things like that from the organization that basically Republicans go to for advice on what to do on gun reform, what do you make of that?

WOLF: The NRA is a relic, and I noticed while the president was speaking, the NRA was tweeting out or making a statement that the Rose Garden event today was a circus, they called it. The only circus around the NRA is their bankruptcy and fraud issues that they`re dealing with right now. Every level of their leadership is a hot mess, and so I just take everything they say with a grain of salt.

But the question you`re asking is a bigger one, which is what do we do about a misinformation campaign that continues to put out the same kind of rhetoric that has stalled gun safety legislation for a long time. You saw the governor of Texas tweeting during the president`s statement that he`s going to makes Texas a Second Amendment sanctuary state, and then just hours later had to give the usual thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting in his state.

I think we got to take it head on. I think we got to tell Democratic senators that it`s time to be done with filibuster excuse. It`s time to be done with using Senate procedure as a smokescreen. Instead, we got to use the mandate that the American people that the people of Georgia gave to Congress, and actually get real, substantive change over the finish line.

REID: And were you able to give some advice to President Biden or Vice President Harris today on what -- how they can carry this fight forward?

WOLF: Well, I pushed through my overwhelm of the moment of my first time at the White House and President Biden invited us into the Oval Office to have a more intimate conversation. And I got an opportunity to thank them for some of the things that I think are really important in the proposals. I thanked them for real investment in community violence prevention efforts.

That`s really big money. A billion dollars is not a little number, especially for community organizations. We got a chance to thank them for getting behind extremist risk protection orders, for putting a fierce advocate at the head of the ATF, and also I just told him standing there by the desk where so many decisions are made that as soon as legislation gets over the finish line and he puts pen to paper, I`ll be right by his side looking over his shoulder once again.

REID: That is awesome. What an exciting experience. You carried the spirit of your friends into that White House with you today, so be assured of that.

I guess the last question is for the people out there who are still sort of bamboozled by the mentality the NRA has pursued and fear any form of gun reform, what would you say to them if they were listening right now?

WOLF: I think there`s few people in America who are actually on the fence about how they feel about gun safety reform. But to those who might be feeling like, gosh, I know we got to do something, I`m just not sure what, I think the president really laid out a very compelling case today, right?

He didn`t just make the moral argument on why gun safety reform is so critical for us. He also talked about the economic argument, how much it costs to put so many people in the ground every year because we have a gun violence epidemic. He talked about the weight that all of us carry as a nation.

And in the Oval Office, he talked about how this is a blight on the character of the United States of America. I think we all have to come together around those things. If you can`t do this because it`s a moral issue, maybe you can do it because it`s an economic issue. Maybe it`s because you believe that America is exceptional and in order to be exceptional, we have to tackle gun violence head on. But I think we can all agree that the status quo was not working. We got to do something differently.

REID: What would you say to Joe Manchin, because he`s in a way right now?

WOLF: I would tell Joe Manchin that if he can get on the phone with me and other survivors, parents that were in the audience today and tell them that protecting Senate procedure is more important than the lives of their children and our friends, then maybe we need to have a different kind of conversation about who Joe Manchin is.

REID: Well said.

Brandon Wolf, thank you so much for spending a very important day for you with us this evening. Thank you so much.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.