IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The ReidOut, 5/20/21

Guests: Madeleine Dean, Tim Miller, Dale Ho, Tim O`Brien, Jelani Cobb


Ceasefire between Israel and Hamas begins. 1/6 commission faces uphill battle in Senate. GOP Senator Ron Johnson on Capitol riot, by and large it was peaceful. GOP Representative McCarthy says he is willing to testify about 1/6 conversations with Trump. Group of Capitol Police officers urge GOP leaders to support 1/6 commission. The Republican obsession with falsifying our nation`s history continues with nearly a dozen states, introducing GOP-backed bills that would ban schools from teaching critical race theory, a decades-old academic concept that examines systemic racism.



JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We have a big hour ahead, including the incoherent Republican response to yesterday`s bipartisan vote setting up an independent commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection. Wait until you hear what House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had to say today.

But we begin with breaking news from the Middle East where at this very moment, a ceasefire between Israel and the militant group, Hamas, has just taken effect. This comes after 11 days of violence that killed 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, and 12 Israelis. NBC`s Erin McLaughlin has the latest from Tel Aviv. Erin?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, MSNBC REPORTER: Well, Joy, the ceasefire is scheduled to go into effect this hour. Now, shortly after the Israeli security cabinet announced that it had unanimously approved this ceasefire, rocket fire continued from Gaza into Israel, which is not all that unusual in situations like this for gunfire, rocket-fire, to continue right up until the ceasefire itself.

This evening, we heard from President Biden praising Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and thanking the Egyptian delegation who helped broker the ceasefire. Remember that the United States and Israel do not negotiate directly with Hamas. So this was done with the help of the Egyptian delegation.

Egypt is sending two delegations, one to Israel, one to Gaza tomorrow, to make sure this ceasefire is implemented, which it is a fragile situation in their statement announcing the ceasefire. The Israeli security cabinet making that very clear, saying, quote, the reality on the ground will determine the continuation of the campaign. Joy?

REID: Thank you very much, Erin McLaughlin, I really appreciate it.

All right, meanwhile, Senate Republicans continue to choose obedience to the big lie as they mount opposition against an independent commission investigating the deadly January 6th Capitol insurrection, which they themselves lived through. And their excuses are becoming flat-out irrational. Look no further than the most vacuous apologist for the former president and his big lie, Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): The fact of the matter is even calling it an insurrection, it wasn`t. You know, I condemn the breach, I condemn the violence. But to say there were thousands of armed insurrectionists breaching the Capitol, intent on overthrowing the government was just simply false narrative. By and large, it was peaceful protest.


REID: Yes, quite a dichotomy there between what you saw and what you heard. Well, since the ghoul who shepherds this flock of zombies, Mitch McConnell announced his opposition yesterday, ten Senate Republicans would have to grow a spine and vote with every single Democrat to avert a filibuster.

But even a Republican who actually voted to convict the former president in his impeachment trial for inciting that very insurrection, which you just saw with your own eyes, again, North Carolina`s Richard Burr said today that he`s against a commission and that it should be investigated by congressional committees instead. 35 House Republicans did break ranks and joined Democrats to support the measure yesterday and they earned the praise of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It is interesting to see 35 members coming forth. I`m very proud of them. And it was a recognition that this was a bipartisan product negotiated in good faith.


REID: And then there`s Kevin who today reiterated his opposition to a commission calling it politically motivated. But he damned (ph) to address the conversation that he had with his puppet master on the day of the siege.


REPORTER: Would you be willing to testify about your conversation with Donald Trump on January 6th if you were asked by an outside commission?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Sure, next question.


REID: Kevin also dismissed a question about whether he`s sure that none of his members communicated with members of the MAGA mob.


REPORTER: Do you think it`s a conflict of interest for members to be voting on a commission that they might have to potentially be witnesses for and provide information on?

MCCARTHY: No, because who knows what they`re going to do on the commission. So, no, I don`t think so.

REPORTER: Are you absolutely certain that none of your members were in any communication with any of the people who stormed Capitol Hill?

MCCARTHY: I don`t believe any of them are but thank you for the question.


REID: Yes. The head of yesterday`s house vote, NBC News has confirmed that a group of Capitol Police officers released an anonymous letter expressing their, quote, profound disappointment with comments from Republican leaders opposing the commission. The U.S. Capitol Police said in the letter, it wasn`t an official statement, the force doesn`t take positions on legislation. The letter was circulated by the office of Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin, the lead Impeachment Manager.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania. She was an impeachment manager in the second Trump`s impeachment trial.

And, Congresswoman, you know, the thing about bipartisanship is it doesn`t mean all the Republicans and all the Democrats get together. It means that everyone sort of agrees on a set of facts. I want to play for you the agreement with the facts we all know about the January 6th insurrection that Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell used to share. Take a listen.


MCCARTHY: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday`s attack on Congress by mob rioters.

MCCONNELL: There`s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day, no question about it.


REID: How do you explain it? Do you have an explanation for it? Can you understand their change of mind?

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Well, there`s only one explanation. It`s self- preservation, it is that they are tethered to the former president, and they`re willing to speak out of both sides of their mouth so they satisfy the former president and those in the base who might support that. And then they also, for the history books, have a take that says the other thing.

There is just an absolute lack of credibility in these two leaders. And that`s the most important ingredient. That`s what we bring as public servants, our integrity, our credibility, that`s the most important thing we bring. And both of these leaders have been doing back-flips like gymnasts.

REID: You know, you have spoken very movingly about what you experienced on January 6th and how fearful you were. There`s someone else who was clearly very fearful. His name is Andrew Clyde. He`s a fellow member of Congress.

Here is a picture of him yelling to, you know -- with clear fear while Capitol police officers are holding a gun to keep the insurrectionists out of the chamber. And there`s another picture there. He`s one of the people barricading the door. And now he`s calling those people just a bunch of tourists and saying that it was absolutely fine and normal.

Have you had any conversations with him by any chance? Because it`s hard to believe that he now thinks this was perfectly fine when he was clearly terrified on January 6th.

DEAN: That is nothing normal. He knows it. I don`t know what deception he`s involved in. I was right above in the gallery going out in a gas mask talking to my family saying, I believe they`re getting us to a safe location, but they have now pierced the chamber doors. There`s gunshots, people are fearfully crawling for their lives trying to get to an exit. I don`t know what game Representative Clyde is involved in.

But what is really damning is that this will repeat itself if we don`t have an independent commission and understand exactly what happened here.

January 6th was mayhem. It was death. it was destruction. The Capitol Police saved our lives, frankly. And the disrespect that these representatives show to them when they say such things as, this was just a normal day, a Tuesday tour, hardly.

REID: Representative Cori Bush has put forward legislation that would censure these people for doing what they are doing. She tweeted earlier today, Republicans are refusing to back up a bipartisan committee to investigate the January 6th insurrection because they know that some of their own will be implicated. We need to pass my resolution to investigate and expel these members.

Do you believe that people like Andrew Clyde, who are now lying about the insurrection, should be expelled? And would you vote for that resolution?

DEAN: I first want the full facts, and then they will be held to account by their voters and by us. But, number one, we need the facts. We need an independent commission. Look what happened here. Bennie Thompson and Representative Katko negotiated in good faith with the blessings of Leader McCarthy and got to a bipartisan independent commission, five and five, equal rights over the subpoena power. And then Mr. McCarthy must have had to check in with Mr. Trump, and he backpedaled on his own member undermining him.

What we need first before expulsion is all of the facts laid bare, and let the facts take us where they may, and we will find who is culpable.

REID: If any members gave tours to people who later turned out to be part of the insurrection, should they be expelled?

DEAN: If the tours were in connection with an attempted insurrection and an insurrection, if that was the intent of the tour to give them the lay of the land, certainly, that would be grounds for expulsion.

REID: Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, thank you very much. I really appreciate you being here this evening.

And with me now is Tim Miller, Writer-at-Large for The Bulwark.

You know, and, Tim, the boss, apparently, of Kevin and the rest put out a statement on the commission vote attacking the 35, quote/unquote, wayward Republicans, that they just can`t help themselves and other silly stuff that he normally says. Is that still, even from a goofy blog, enough to terrify those 35? Should we expect them to all start backpedaling on their votes like tomorrow?

TIM MILLER, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE BULWARK: Well, I`m impressed you were able to find that statement on his blog Fox website that he`s got down there. Look, I think, sadly, it is enough to terrify them.

I mean, just look at what we`ve seen from a couple of members, for example. You got John Cornyn, who on February 13th tweeted that he agreed with Nancy Pelosi. This was a month after the insurrection that we needed a commission, now he`s backing down. Mike Rounds on last week, last week he said he wanted a commission, now he`s backing off. Kevin McCarthy said in that same video you showed from earlier the president`s immediate action deserves a congressional response. He said that on January 13th.

The only thing that has changed since January 13th is that Kevin got called down to Mar-a-Lago and he got a spanking from Trump. That`s it. That`s the only thing that`s changed, that`s the only thing since Cornyn`s statement.

So, obviously, even though he`s relegated to this little blog, he`s still intimidating these guys because the facts haven`t changed, nothing else has changed. And so, yes, I worry that it will have an impact on the ability to get ten senators, which I think three months ago would have seemed pretty easy.

REID: Yes. I mean, the supposed American First party, it`s interesting how much they are morphing into one of these Eastern European sort of oligarchic parties, like what we`re seeing in Poland, and places like Hungary. Like they don`t -- that they see more like that. I mean even threats against their family members don`t move them at all. Donald Trump can threaten their family members, he can humiliate them. He can threaten their lives.

Let`s play a bit of the January 6th insurrection. I know if we have a separate one. This is where the insurrectionists are chanting, hang Mike Pence. There it is.


CROWD: Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence.


REID: Just so that folks remember what this was -- and they brought a noose to do it with, by the way. They wheeled a noose onto the grounds of the Capitol. Here`s Mike Pence`s brother, Greg, his big brother. He told The Huffington Post about the commission. I think the whole thing is to spend the summer impeaching again Donald Trump. That`s all we`re doing. It`s a dog and pony show. It`s another impeachment. That is Mike Pence`s big brother, who apparently could give a damn that these people wanted to lynch his brother. Is that where we are now in the Republican Party that they`re willing to let their family members die at the hands of Trump supporters, if necessary?

MILLER: It is, and, Joy, you know, I went down to South Carolina to watch Judge Greg`s little brother gave his first speech since the insurrection because I wanted to see how he would deal with it firsthand. And down there, he gave his same old shtick about Donald Trump`s broad-shouldered leadership. That broad-shouldered leadership almost got him killed. He had to be escorted out of the Capitol with his life. That almost got Mike Pence`s family killed. It`s just -- it`s amazing that these people are just so craven and cowardly that they`re willing to do this, even putting their own family at risk.

And I think that the analogy you just made is really important because sometimes in America we think of what`s happening here like we`re always the trendsetters, but the Republican Party is very much morphing into something that already exists elsewhere, to this sort of Viktor Orban and Hungary-style party. And this is the type of thing that you see other places and people need to open their eyes and realized what`s happening here, and I think this is a prime example.

REID: You know, and Max Boot, who has spent a lot of time analyzing those kinds of dictatorships, and he`s now analyzing the sort of version that we have here, he writes something interesting in The Washington Post, which also makes me thing that they`re not only sort of Eastern European, they`re not very smart.

Now, if they oppose having a commission that`s bipartisan and that`s separate from the Congress, it`s just going to be a select committee. It`s going to be like the Benghazi committee but with an actual scandal that`s real. Have they made a mistake here in walking away from a bipartisan commission that will be separated from politics? They`ve now freed Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Pelosi to create a commission that could get at it without the obstruction of Republicans. Is that -- have they made a mistake here?

MILLER: Boy, it`s an interesting question. I don`t know. I definitely agree with the overall concept that this is dumb Belarus, not Belarus, right, that these are kind of where -- these were not the smartest folks in the room that are attempting this insurrection. But we shouldn`t be minimized that. That doesn`t make it less serious, it doesn`t make their intentions less real.

As far as the strategy concerned, I really think their mistake was back on January 13th, right? When Kevin McCarthy gave that speech, if everyone had held the line on the message that he was giving then, I think they could have gone a different direction to gain them some distance for Trump. It might have been short-term pain, medium-term gain.

REID: That`s it.

MILLER: Now, I just don`t know whether the select committee or the bipartisan commission is going to have a material difference on what the outcome is. Because it`s so obvious who is to blame for what happened on January the 6th.

REID: Yes. Pushing out the John Birch Society was hard and there was some short-term pain, but it was worth it. They`ve now decided let the John Birch society win, which is bizarre and also very dangerous. Tim Miller, thank you very much. Always love talking with you.

MILLER: Thanks, Joy.

REID: Thank you. And up next on THE REIDOUT, the insidious effort by Republicans, as we were just discussing all across the country, to nullify legally cast ballots, that`s why Tim Miller is right, it`s dangerous, so that they can just automatically win elections. And it`s not just Cyber Ninja Arizona.

Plus the Trump house of cards, Allen Weisselberg knows where every single Trump dollar comes from, and where it was spent. And now he`s under criminal investigation. Can prosecutors get him to flip?

And the conservative effort to literally whitewash American history, and how it cost one of the nation`s most celebrated journalists a tenured university position.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: Today`s Republican Party is openly waging war against American democracy.

VICE News reviewed the public positions of all 50 state GOP chairs. And you know what they found? Nineteen of them have openly pushed conspiracy theories, unhinged rhetoric, and are actively undermining voters` trust in democracy.

According to VICE, nearly every swing state Republican Party chair is pushing Trump`s assault on truth and democracy. Imagine what they could do in a title election.

And if that doesn`t scare you, then take a look at what Trump loyalists are currently doing to sow doubt in our electoral process. There`s the Arizona Republican state Senate, which is conducting an undemocratic, wacky so- called audit seeking to undercut President Biden`s victory.

In Michigan a state judge dismissed the lawsuit seeking a new audit of the votes in Antrim County. But that isn`t stopping local Republicans. One of the commissioners on the county`s board is calling for a third-party complete forensic audit. Maybe they call the Cyber Ninjas.

In San Luis Obispo, California, where 55 percent of voters backed Biden, the county`s GOP chairman is pressing for an audit of the 2020 election results there as well.

According to "The Washington Post," a loose network of lawyers, self styled election experts and political groups is bolstering community efforts by demanding audits, filing lawsuits and pushing unsubstantiated claims that residents are echoing in public meetings.

Cheering this on is the orange megalomaniac retiree and current blogger, who`s feeding off of this poison, raising money off of it, and threatening any Republican who dares to stand up for democracy.

Joining me now, Jonathan Capehart, host of "The Sunday Show" right here on MSNBC, and Dale Ho, director of the ACLU`s Voting Rights Project.

And, Dale, I do want to start with you, because, as Malcolm Nance always says, coincidences take a lot of work. And I am suspicious that when you see all of these copycat measures around the country, that we should start thinking about where the money is coming from, and whether there`s some coordination.

This is what was discovered by "Mother Jones." And this was Heritage Action, their director, on how they are crafting voting legislation for states. Take a listen.


JESSICA ANDERSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HERITAGE ACTION FOR AMERICA: We`re working with these state legislators to make sure they have all of the information they need to draft the bills. In some cases, we actually draft them for them. Or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation, so it has that grassroots, from the bottom-up type of vibe.

What are these states? Georgia, Florida, Nevada, Wisconsin, Texas, Arizona, Iowa, and Michigan.


REID: So, lots of swing states. Here`s a map of all of the restricting voting laws -- restrictive voting laws that we`re seeing going up across the country.

Is the ACLU -- is the ACLU concerned that this is the same sort of cookie- cutter strategy that`s being used to push the big lie and to push for these -- quote, unquote -- "audits"?

DALE HO, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: Well, it certainly does seem like a sustained effort, along with the voter suppression laws that we`re seeing pop up around the country, to undermine faith in our democracy, to undermine electoral integrity.

I mean, we saw efforts after the 2020 election to not certify the results of elections, talk about state legislators just tossing out their state`s popular vote and choosing their presidential electors themselves, and then, of course, efforts in Congress to object to entire slates of states` Electoral College votes.

I think what we`re seeing with these audits, these voter suppression measures are efforts to make those kinds of undemocratic efforts in future elections more plausible.

REID: To make it normalized, right, exactly, Jonathan, because, I mean, look in Arizona, it`s easy to laugh at it, because it`s Cyber Ninjas, and they`re looking for bamboo, and it`s stupid.

But, at the same time, it is normalizing the idea that you don`t accept the results of an election, you keep recounting until you get what you want. It`s so bad that the Arizona secretary of state is saying they -- she -- they may not allow Maricopa County to reuse the voting machines that they have been using because they have been so corrupted.

Maricopa County has been told that they may not be able to lose them -- use them. And to buy new ones, it would cost about $6.1 million. So, taxpayers have to pay for it. But the threat here is that this becomes the way that all elections go when Republicans lose.

How much should we be concerned about that?

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: No, that`s exactly it.

What Dale said was what I was going to say in response to whatever you were going to ask me, because Republicans have been very good -- you name the issue, on abortion rights, on taking over state legislatures -- they are all about the long game. They are not short-termers. They are about, what do we need to do in order to ensure that we get our way?

And so, by doing what they`re doing and Michigan -- in Arizona, doing what they`re doing in Michigan, doing what they`re doing in Georgia, and all these other states, they are laying the groundwork so that the 2022 midterm elections, they can say, voter fraud. And in the 2024 presidential election, they can say, voter fraud.

In the end, what we`re looking at are people who don`t care about democracy. They care about getting their way, which is nothing but authoritarianism. The problem is, they are being aided and abetted.

And even though in the stories, like, it`s a small crew of people in these states who are doing these things, in the end, they`re being aided and abetted by a national party that is in thrall to the person who made this possible. They`re in thrall to Donald Trump. He`s still out there, as you call him, a blogger, blogging about the -- about the big lie still, about how the election was stolen from him.

And it was not stolen from him. And yet this -- because Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell don`t have -- I almost said something -- I almost said something else -- don`t have the backbone to stand up to this person who`s doing damage to their party and to the democracy, that`s also why this is flourishing.

There are no adults to stand up and say, enough.

REID: Well, and the fear, Dale, is that, if they carry on the way they`re going now, because they`re also completely subservient to the blogger, who we just were talking about, if they decide to use this to, let`s say, try to install him over the will of the American people, or to try to refuse to leave office if they are voted out, if they just make this normal and say that they won`t admit that the election is legitimate unless they win, and then, when they win, they say, oh, no fraud, it`s all fine, that is oligarchy.

And that, I mean, that is authoritarianism. We`re no longer a democracy. What would -- what would we do about that? What could we do about it?

HO: Well, I think we were fortunate that, in 2020, there were responsible people on -- elections administrators, politicians in the Republican Party, who were willing to stand up and say, there was not a serious problem of election irregularity.

REID: But wait. Dale, those people have all been punished, and they may all be gone. They may have already been jettisoned by the party.

So, if they`re gone, then what do we do?

HO: The point that I was -- that was precisely the point that I was going to make, Joy, is that what has me concerned right now is that people like the lieutenant governor of -- the outgoing lieutenant governor of Georgia, the secretary of state of Georgia, people who are very conservative, who have strong feelings about conservative policies, but also, at the end of the day, were not willing to try to undermine our democracy in order to get their way in elections, they were there at key decision points to make sure that the system worked.

Our system is not one that is perfectly airtight. As a lawyer, I can vouch for that. What it depends upon is people of good faith willing to say that our democracy and the rule of law matter more than getting my way in elections.

And what I`m really worried about going forward in 2022 and 2024 is that those reasonable voices may not be there at those key decision points.

REID: And, Jonathan, you do a lot of reporting on the White House and on what the party is doing, on what Democrats are doing and thinking.

Are they concerned enough about this? Are they -- is their hair enough on fire about this? Because it`s not clear to me that they understand who they`re dealing with on the other side of the aisle.

CAPEHART: I think they -- no, they understand who they`re dealing with on the other side.

The hair -- the hair is on fire. They just do a very good job of not letting us and you see it. They understand what`s at stake here.

And let`s also talk about the other big thing that they`re really -- they`re really concerned about and want to try to get done. And that`s S.1, the For the People Act, which would go a long way to blunting some of the impact of the things that are happening around the country, particularly -- particularly in Georgia.

And so I think, Joy, the hair on fire that you want to see, you`re going to see it. It`s going to be more public as we get later into the summer, because the clock is ticking.

REID: Yes.

CAPEHART: The Senate has to move on S.1. Otherwise, it`s not going to go anywhere, and the laws in Georgia and the things that are happening in Texas, they will just -- they will take root.

REID: Absolutely.

And that`s all going to be -- depend on getting rid of the filibuster. And then we`re back to a Joe Manchin conversation. And now I have a headache


REID: Jonathan Capehart and Dale Ho, thank you both very much.

And still ahead: Investigators are turning up the heat on longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, now pursuing a criminal tax investigation.

Would Weisselberg flip? And would that be game over for the Donald?

We will be right back.


REID: Everybody who`s aware of the Trump Organization knows that Donald Trump and his family have always been the face of their namesake business.

But those familiar with the company can tell you that, if you look just a little bit deeper, you will find that the person actually running things has been operating behind the scenes since the company`s earliest days.

And that person is Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization. In other words, Weisselberg knows where all the proverbial bodies are buried.

Now NBC News has confirmed that New York`s attorney general has opened a criminal investigation into Weisselberg`s personal taxes.

"The New York Times" further reports that the investigation has been going on for months. In fact, the Trump Organization was notified that Weisselberg was in their crosshairs back in January.

Specifically, investigators have examined whether taxes were paid on fringe benefits that Trump gave Weisselberg, including cars and tens of thousands of dollars in private school tuition for at least one of Weisselberg`s grandchildren.

And, as we have learned yesterday, the state attorney general is now actively collaborating with the Manhattan DA`s office, which has already been trying to flip the Trump confidant against his former boss.

But while Trump surely expect people like Weisselberg to remain loyal to him, Michael Cohen told me yesterday that Trump would never remain loyal to them. In fact, Cohen said Trump would flip against his own family if he had to.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY/FIXER FOR DONALD TRUMP: I think Donald Trump is going to flip on all of them -- what do you think about that? -- including his children.

REID: Huh.

COHEN: But what`s going to happen when, all of a sudden, they turn around and they start asking him about his tax returns, or about the devaluation of the assets, or the way that he took deductions?

I don`t do my taxes. It`s my accountant.

REID: Yes.

COHEN: So, he`s going to turn on his accountant and point the finger.

He`s going to say, Don Jr. handled that. Ivanka handled that. Melania. Don`t take me. Take Melania.


COHEN: He`s going to tell them to take everyone, except for himself.


REID: I`m joined now by Tim O`Brien, senior columnist of -- at Bloomberg Opinion.

And, Tim, I am so excited to get a chance to finally talk to you about this.

Do you agree with that? I mean, you have been covering Donald Trump for a really long time. Would he flip on his own children, his accountant, including Ivanka too?

TIM O`BRIEN, BLOOMBERG OPINION: I would put a question mark next to Ivanka. And I would put an undoubtedly next to everybody else.

REID: Wow.

O`BRIEN: I just think, you know, loyalty is a one-way street in Trump land.

Yes, it flows towards Donald Trump, and it does not go in any other direction. And he does not have emotional bonds with people. He has financial bonds with people. And if everyone around him now has to debate whether or not they want to face a criminal charge and the possibility of going to prison or getting a larger salary next year from Donald, I think they`re going to choose to rat out Donald the first chance they get.

And I think that`s why it`s so significant that Allen Weisselberg is now under a criminal investigation, because it breaks open this huge crack in the facade of the Trump Organization.

REID: Wow.

Let me play you one more piece of what Michael Cohen said to me last night. And this is about Mr. Weisselberg`s role in the company. Take a listen.


COHEN: Allen Weisselberg knew every single dollar in and every single dollar -- not even dollar -- to the penny. Every single penny in and every penny out went through Allen Weisselberg`s desk, and then reported before and after to Donald J. Trump.


REID: The reason that that struck me, Tim, is that -- that is almost identical to what you told me back when I was hosting "A.M. JOY" years ago. And I can still picture...

O`BRIEN: Before you became the queen of late-night television, yes.


REID: I remember sitting at a desk and you saying, the key to Donald Trump`s fate is Weisselberg.


REID: He knows everything.

How -- what could he give the feds -- I mean, give the prosecutors if he flipped?

O`BRIEN: Well, I think we had that conversation, Joy, around the time that Michael Cohen first had his offices raided by the FBI.

And I think what I said at the time was, you know, Michael carried out tasks and assignments for Donald, but he wasn`t the Cryptkeeper. And the Cryptkeeper is Allen Weisselberg, and another individual, Jason Greenblatt, whose name I imagine at some point has the surface in this. I`m not saying he`s done anything criminally.

But the two people inside the Trump Organization that had to put a rubber stamp on every document were Allen Weisselberg and Jason Greenblatt. Jason Greenblatt was the in-house counsel. Trump made him a special envoy to Israel while he was president.

But he knows a lot too. And this is not a big, complex company.

REID: Right.

O`BRIEN: It was a mom-and-pop shop.

So, the layers that investigators have to plow through around knowledge and culpability are very shallow. It`s Donald and these two gentlemen, and then anyone else around them, which was a very narrow group of people.

Allen Weisselberg not only handled the corporate taxes every year. He handled Donald`s personal income taxes. And he`s been in the company since he and Donald started together in the mid-1970s. They grew up together in the company.

Allen Weisselberg began as Fred Trump`s accountant, and he has his own lawyer now because he`s under criminal investigation. Other people inside the organization, including Trump`s children, are going to be wondering whether or not they need to lawyer up themselves.

And once that begins to happen in a white-collar investigation, everybody jumps ship and figures out how to protect themselves. So, this is a pretty significant moment, I think, in this whole investigation.

REID: Well, and now that we know that there is -- there`s an ongoing criminal investigation into Weisselberg, knowing what you know about him, would he flip on Donald Trump?

O`BRIEN: I think, ultimately, he will, because he`s seen Donald Trump throw so many people under the bus now for decades, and without blinking or regretting it. And I know he knows that Trump wouldn`t hesitate to blow him up if it -- if it allowed him to protect his own hide.

I think it really depends on the seriousness of this investigation, you know, what kind of potential charges come along down the road, and what are the possible criminal penalties associated with that. And that`s the kind of stuff that Allen Weisselberg is going to weight. But I don`t think he will be loyal to Trump in the end, no.

REID: You are one of the few people who`s ever sat in a deposition and been able to depose Donald Trump. And this was over him lying about his net worth. And you tell the truth about it and him being upset about that.

Is -- does this come down to Donald Trump upping the value of his empire, which he basically gutted of his father`s empire? He took it and, you know, sort of crashed it. Or is it about him lowering the value of his empire not to pay taxes? Or is it some combination of both? What are we talking about here?

O`BRIEN: It`s a combination of both. It`s him going to bankers and saying this piece of property is worth $400 million, and I want a loan against it, and then telling a tax assessor or someone else that it`s worth half that amount because he wants to keep his tax bills low.

That`s a very simplified version of the kind of stuff that`s in play here. I think also making claims to insurers that he`s had extensive damages to property like Mar-a-Lago when in fact he hasn`t and getting tens of millions of dollars in payouts for those that he might not have been entitled to.

Money laundering is certainly going to be something they`re looking at here. You know, Trump has had intersections with organized crime figures since his twenties. Donald Trump turns 75 next month. He has 55 years of intersections with nefarious people who often times resided in his buildings, who he did business with, up until he was president.

And in one of the, you know, still unplowed -- some of the unplowed territory in the Trump story is the extent to which everything he did in the White House was financially motivated. And it was disappointing that Mueller didn`t go down that road enough, but you now have two New Yorkers who are. And I think the more they fare it out the financial issues, I think you`re going to start to get a lot of things explained.

REID: Everything about Donald Trump is very Jonestown. I wonder what sort of havoc he`ll wreak on his now cult once he starts really going down. It`s going to be interesting to watch.

Tim O`Brien, thank you so much. Really appreciate you being here.

O`BRIEN: Thank you, Joy.

REID: Thank you.

And up next, well, as we prepare to mark the centennial of the Tulsa race massacre, the Republican freak-out over teaching children the true unvarnished history of this country, takes on special significance. Tonight`s absolute worst is next.

Stay with us.


REID: The Republican obsession with falsifying our nation`s history continues with nearly a dozen states including GOP-backed -- introducing GOP-backed bills that would ban schools from teaching critical race theory, a decades-old academic concept that examines systemic racism. It`s the latest issue conservatives are fixated on.

And as with Antifa or democracy, they don`t seem to understand what it is.


SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Critical race theory is the false and the odious theory that America is fundamentally racist to its core.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): It has turned our college campuses into grievance pageants and loose Orwellian mobs to cancel anyone daring to express an original thought.

GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: We want our honest history, our real history, our patriotic history to be taught to our kids.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other is not worth one red cent of taxpayer money.


REID: Where did these people go to school? Okay, for the record, none of what they`re saying about critical race theory is true, not even one word. But accuracy doesn`t seem to matter to this party, now, does it?

Now this war against a clear-eyed, factual understanding of our history, which is all critical race theory is. It`s a war against our press freedoms. Trump is no longer in office, but his contempt for any media that isn`t Newsmax or his sad little blog remains.

Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones emerging as the latest target of this war. Hannah-Jones is a MacArthur genius and Pulitzer Prize winner. She is the creator of the 1619 Project, a "New York Times" magazine project that situates slavery and race at the center of this nation`s history and narrative where, frankly, it has always belonged. It`s a project that conservatives despise, calling it propaganda because it dares to address slavery and asks you to not look away.

And because this red-hot vitriol for her was denied a tenured position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after the university`s board of trustees failed to approve the journalism department`s recommendation, offering a five-year teaching contract instead.

Now, tenure is a big deal. Not only a celebrated accomplishment but a mechanism that protects scholars from being fired without cause. It`s intrinsically tide to academic freedom, allowing professors to teach any topic, even controversial or controversial ones that Fox News might decide to whine about without getting fired.

And now it`s been rip ad way from one of the most important journalists of our time. And that is why Republican legislators who are obsessed with erasing our history and taking down anyone who gets in their way are the absolute worst.

And up next, Jelani Cobb of Columbia Journalism School shares his thoughts on this tomfoolery and the greater assault on press and academic freedoms that it represents.

Stay with us.


REID: The 1619 Project means different things to different people. For some, including myself, it`s a phenomenal piece of journalism challenging us to reframe U.S. history by centering the legacy of black Americans, starting with the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in 1619.

Well, for others, including many Republicans and one Florida blogger, it`s ideological poison, threatening to turn impressionable children against America. It`s a MAGA meme dog whistle.

Which is why according to North Carolina policy watch who broke the story, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a public university mind you, is denying tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the 1619 Project.

Joining me now is Jelani Cobb, professor at Columbia University`s Graduate School of Journalism and a staff writer for "The New Yorker".

It occurs to me, Jelani, that this piece here, this is the 1619 Project -- this the most dangerous piece of journalism that`s been created in America, because now it makes the creator unfit for tenure. She`s been gracious. She tweeted graciously last night: I`m staying off Twitter but grateful for the support.

But she would be the night professor at the university to be denied chair, to be denied tenure ever. Your thoughts?

JELANI COBB, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Sure, there`s a lot that we could talk. We could talk about the historical elements of this. We could talk about the kind of hyperventilation that`s happened and kind of unjustified outrage that`s happened in response to the existence of the 1619 project. But I just want to talk about the merits who has gone through tenure process at multiple universities who has sat on tenure boards and tenure committees previously.

This is a person who has a Macarthur Award, who has a Pulitzer Award, two Polk Awards, who has a Peabody Award and who has three National Magazine Awards. That would be an impressive hall for a department, much less one individual.

And so, to talk about the kind of absurd over-qualification for tenure and then the response of the board becomes even more inscrutable in face of that. And so, the real question, which I think is pertinent, because UNC is a public institution, its who they chose to grant tenure to and how those people`s credentials match up two years, five years, match up to that of that array, that dizzying array of accolades that Professor Hannah-Jones brings to the table.

REID: Well, I mean, the thing is, the idea that somebody with the MacArthur genius award and a Pulitzer wouldn`t get tenure is on its face ridiculous. It`s absurd. You say it out loud and it doesn`t sound like it could possibly be real. But to add to it, that the reason she wouldn`t get tenure is because some conservatives are offended the way she`s doing journalism and history because she won`t do the sing song rose color glasses, America is America, 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue B.S. that has been taught. I mean, I don`t know what that says about this country and academia, what does it say?

COBB: Well, I will tell you what it says. You know, it says you can not produce scholarship and you cannot produce journalism that takes a critical eye or a critical view to this nation`s tortured and ugly racial past. And the consequences, the presence day consequences of what race and racism have done, the centrality of racism in American society and the real impact of this, you know, Professor Hannah-Jones is a well-laurelled and established journalist.

But the real consequences are for untenured junior scholars, younger people who are doing work that may be controversial, that may put them in the eye of some disconsulate state senator somewhere and then become -- make them vulnerable to having a similar dynamic happen when they go up for tenure.

So, this is a crossroads between academic freedom and freedom of the press. And it`s something they might overlook as a single person, as a single person`s career options. Now, this is a much bigger concern about the freedom of loss of other people to produce work that may be controversial.

REID: And I think that`s important. As somebody who taught a class at Howard University, who actually invited Professor Hannah-Jones to speak to my class, and she`s brilliant.

It is -- it strikes me that what the right is try doing is to chill, as I said, not just academic freedom but to scare young journalists, to say you don`t want to write about the history of the United States the way we don`t like it. You don`t want to tell stories that make us feel uncomfortable about our history, because we can punish you. We can punish you in your next pursuit when you want a teaching job. That is totalitarian to me.

COBB: The exact reason why tenure exists. It`s supposed to protect people and make us possible for us to have scholarship that challenges conventional wisdom, that upsets people, that raises questions that people are not ready or willing to grapple with.

And that`s how we actually make progress intellectually and in theory how we make progress societally. And also I want to give a shout-out for going to teach a class at my alma mater, Howard University.

REID: Listen, I had to go to the right H.U. I went to the wrong H.U. undergrad. So, I had to fix it in my teaching career, you know?

And I guess sort of the final question is, what do we about this, because you have seen the right whine about cancel culture, right? And now, what they are doing is attempting to cancel anyone who will not stick to their prescribed versions of racial history in America. What do we do about it?

COBB: Well, I think one of the most important things is that people have to push back. There`s a faculty petition that went out from the faculty at the UNC School of Journalism. Many people who are in the chain of governance at the institution have raised their voices to it. I think there has to be vocal and vociferous opposition to this from multiple quarters so people that this -- they may have bitten more than they could chew.

REID: Yeah.

COBB: There are protests that are going on at the university ground. We have to fight at this at level to make sure it doesn`t metastasize.

REID: Absolutely. This is not just about Nikole Hannah-Jones. This is about the truth. And we are going to fight for it every single day.

Jelani, thank you very much, my friend. I really appreciate you being here.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.