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Transcript: The ReidOut, 5/21/21

Guests: Katie Hobbs, Carlos Curbelo, Yair Rosenberg, Carol Leonnig, Taraji P. Henson


New GOP bills seek to ban or limit teaching of role of slavery in U.S. history. GOP abandons policy, embraces fascism. Comedy mirrors current reality for GOP. Arizona may need new voting machines after audit. Arizona vote audit is GOP latest assault on democracy. U.S. House candidate impregnated 14-yer-old girl when he was 18. Israel-Hamas ceasefire holding.


JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC HOST: Thank you guys so much. Jelani Cobb, Errin Haines, thanks you so very much.

That does it for me, Ari is back on Monday. THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid is up next.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone, Happy Friday. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with a party that stands for nothing. And what point, Republicans believed in helping the rich, tax cuts in regulation, and they believed in endless wars and let`s not forget the classic family values.

But now, in a Trump-dominated world, it`s really not clear what they stand for or what they are actually offering the American people in exchange for one thing that clearly, they want, power, power for themselves.

Now, it reminds me of the scene of street vendors during the French revolution from the classic Mel brooks comedy History of the World part one.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Richly did it, from the garbage of the rich, apple cores, apple cores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rats, rats, rats, nice dead rats for sale. Perfect for rat stew, rat soup, rat pie and the ever-popular Ratatouille.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing, nothing. I got absolutely nothing for sale.


REID: Okay, kudos to our producer for that. That is hilarious and that`s comedy. It`s hilarious. But the reality is actually really serious because our Republican politicians are not willing to vote for money to fix your roads and bridges or to make the rich or corporations pay their fair share of taxes or provide you with help for childcare or make it easier to vote or reform the police, you know, the stuff that politics actually can do.

They are using the power that they have now to try to make it so you can`t vote to replace them with politicians you prefer. But if you`re not of the party, you basically won`t count anymore. Even if you do vote, so what? We don`t have to recognize that. We will just throw that out. Because the power belongs to us and it will always belong to us.

And don`t take my word for it. Just listen to the number two Republican in the Senate, John Thune, on why a bipartisan commission to investigate the worst and deadliest physical assault on the Capitol since the war of 1812, why that is just not possible.


SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD) (voice-over): I think a lot of our members and a lot of House Republicans want to be moving forward, not looking backward, and, you know, anything that gets us rehashing the 2020 election, I think, is a day lost on being able to draw contrast between us and the Democrats` very radical left-wing agenda.


REID: Okay, you heard that? I mean, real talk. The thirst for power is so intoxicating but it has infected the Republican Party from the top down.

Today, we learn that a judge denied a request from a group of conspiracy theorists to take possession of roughly 145,000 absentee ballots, from heavily Democratic Fulton County Georgia. These right-wing extremists want to transport the ballots, get this, to a private company for an Arizona- style review. The judge said no. But will allow a digital review of the ballots while in the custody of Fulton election officials.

None of this is going to change the election of the election. Biden will still have won Georgia way back in 2020. But if this isn`t freaking you out, it should because Republicans are showing you that they are increasingly willing to treat your vote like a cute suggestion, that they can just hand over your votes to their friends, to review, because they didn`t like the results. If you can`t win fair and square, just retroactively change the results or at least sow doubt in those results so lots of people won`t view the winner as legitimate.

Let`s go back to Arizona, where they have engaged in a months-long fishing expedition to try to taint President Biden`s legitimate victory. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has now informed the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors that she might not be able to allow the county to reused 100 of vote counting machine because she can`t trust that they weren`t tampered with during this bananas, bamboo, paper and Cyber Ninjas fake audit, with the ballots supposedly fed to chickens before the chickens were incinerated.

This tomfoolery would be funny if it wasn`t so serious. In the case of Arizona, it could cost Arizona taxpayers $6 million. So it`s more funny, shocking and frightening than actually funny.

When a political system veers away from democracy, there usually no good places for it to go. The great Merriam Webster Dictionary defines fascism, as political philosophy, movement or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation and forcible suppression of opposition. Forcible suppression of opposition, maybe by voter suppression or by making elections just, poof, disappear, maybe violence, physically attacking the seat of government, all to exalt a supreme leader. Not funny and pretty frightening.

Joining me now is Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Dean Obeidallah, Host of the Dean Obeidallah Show on SiriusXM, and he also an MSNBC Columnist, and Carlos Curbelo, former Republican Congressman from Florida.

And, Ms. Hobbs, I have to start with you first because what`s happening in Arizona, can make you laugh but it also scares the hell out of me honestly because this feels like the future of what elections will look like in any state or Republicans have control. How is this going to end? Can it be ended?

KATIE HOBBS (D) ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I hope it can end. And today, we saw Maricopa County make that first move to possible legal action to stop this because having it continue is scary, as you have said. This is going to have impact far into the future on future elections.

We cannot have this happen after elections. We have systems in place that are followed. The losers of elections, they are expected to see a loss. We have challenge periods host election, those have passed. This is not sustainable.

REID: It`s a bunch of a little Victor Ormonds, it seems to me. Are you confident, Ms. Hobbs, that if in 2022 for instance, Mark Kelly is re- elected, that this won`t be done again to try to negate his election, if, you know, the Republican governor voted out, that this won`t be done again to say, no, we`re not leaving, that this won`t be done for individual Republican members of the state house and senate to negate their own losses? If Republican voter say, this is bananas, and we want you gone, I`m voting you out, how do we know that they won`t just come back in and say Cyber Ninja say, I won I`m not leaving?

HOBBS: Absolutely. If we don`t take action to stop this now, and to make it impossible to do in the future, I think that this is what`s going to continue to happen. And the other long-term consequence is that it`s going to continue to undermine voters` confidence in the systems, and that has the effect of suppressing turnout among many other dangers to our democracy.

REID: Let me go to Carlos Curbelo, from my former state, because if this is happening in Arizona, it`s going to happen in Florida. Let`s just keep it real. The Florida legislature is far right-wing. They have their own little mini-Trump in the governor`s office. Why shouldn`t we just expect that however the election turns out in the midterms in 2022 that the Florida state legislature won`t get their own Cyber Ninjas and declare that the election is invalid unless Republican`s win?

FMR. REP. CARLOS CURBELO (R-FL): You know, Joy, look we`ve a long history here of bipartisan election reforms, Florida after that 2000 election trauma that we live, really, was the national leader in opening up voting, encouraging people to vote my mail, no excuse absentee voting. That was done by Republicans and Democrats working together. But now --

REID: One second. One second Carlos. I`m sorry, Carlos, I just have to stop you for a second there. We just had Charlie Crist on not long ago. After he allowed the voting lines to stay open in 2008, Republicans were so angry with him that they damn their kicked him out in the party, and eventually did. They also then came to him, Republican and the state legislature, and said we want to you pass all of these restrictions on voting to make it harder for people to even get into those lines and vote. He declined to do it. And then the new governor, the guy who had the big Medicare fraud, who`s now the United States senator, came in and said I`ll do it, and they passed restrictions.

The difference of what you`re talking about is that Florida made it easier to vote absentee because absentee is how Republicans vote. They have made it harder and harder and harder. They have gone after the early voting period. They have gone after every way that non-Republicans vote. So that just isn`t true, is it?

CURBELO: Well, Joy, what I was going to say is that (INAUDIBLE) that former Governor Crist had extended voting hours, that certainly freshened my memory. But, generally speaking, in the state of Florida, the election, or even the early voting periods have been long and given people more opportunities to vote at least in other state.

What I was going to say is that the problem that I see is that in this last session, all of the election reforms were done in a partisan manner and in a way that does worry a lot of people, and, importantly, in the context of the big lie, right, in reaction to the big lie.

So, yes, I mean, I mean I think we should be concerned (INAUDIBLE) and equally as important as a point you were making earlier that the Republican Party has really lost a coherent set of policies or governing agenda. It is really all about loyalty to one person, the former president. And that`s why you got someone like Liz Cheney, who by almost any account had a -- or has a perfect conservative voting record in the House, removed only because she refused to follow Donald Trump.

REID: Yes. And Liz Cheney was invoked. So I want to talk a little about her, Dean. Because the other sort of piece of this movement of the Republican Party is that you don`t actually have to be anyone serious in order to be in the party. You just have to believe in the big lie. That`s all that`s required. You can be, you know, Judge Roy Moore. You can -- and think you can go with a hot topic, to find yourself a date. You can do kind of anything you want.

Here is the guy running against Liz Cheney. His name is Mr. Anthony Bouchard. He had a relationship with a 14-year-old girl and impregnated her when he was 18, the Wyoming State Senator since 2017. He has risen in prominence announcing he will challenge Liz Cheney. The woman that he impregnated, he called it a Romeo and Juliet story, she`s dead, she committed suicide.

This is the person that Republican say, yes, that`s a good replacement for Liz Cheney, because she won`t go with the orthodox. Your thoughts.

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, MSNBC COLUMNIST: And that happen when he was in Florida, that state senator when he was (INAUDIBLE) in Florida. Under Florida law, it looks like statutory rape. But let`s be honest, Joy, if the GOP is fine whitewashing the January 6th terrorist attack, what`s whitewashing statutory rape? That`s nothing in the big picture to them.

We`re dealing with the -- look, it`s not new. And for years, we were told, Republicans are afraid of Donald Trump tweeting or posting on Facebook. He`s banned on Twitter. He`s banned on Facebook. This is who they`ve always been. Trump just let them be truly who they are, which is not a political party, as we know it, it`s an authoritarian party, a white nationalist movement, has embrace fascism, as you point out that earlier.

I hope I want people to get as angry about what they are doing in Arizona and other states as voter suppression, as they did on January 6th because those -- that attack in January 6th and these other things are the same, their attacks on our democracy. They`re to end our democracy, our constitutional public, and you saw this in another country, you won`t hesitate to say that. But in America, we are raised here, and the silver line is you can`t say there are fascist. You can when, academically, they are. We`re dealing with a white nationalist fascist movement. It`s a threat to our republic, a threat to the democracy. The stakes couldn`t be higher.

REID: Well, the stakes couldn`t be higher. And you know, Katie, you are dealing with this on the ground. I wonder if Democrats, behind closed doors, are as alarmed as Dean just said we all should be? And I agree. I am hearing a fire alarm about this. Are Democrats understanding, does Mark Kelly, does Krysten Sinema, do they understand the stakes here that we may not have elections anymore if this continues?

HOBBS: Absolutely. And I`m talking to regular folks across the state every day, and they`re very concerned. They`re like what can we do about this. But, yes, no, across the board, people are very concerned. They see that danger in this.

You know, we saw what happened on January 6th, we should not be at this place right now. There is no guarantee that that`s not going to happen again.

REID: Correct.

HOBBS: And this kind of thing just incites that.

REID: And by the way, are you thinking about running for governor? Is that true?

HOBBS: You know, we have dealt with death threats and armed protestors around my House and I continue to do a good job for the people of Arizona. So I am seriously considering it. But no matter what office I run for, I`m going to continue to do the job that Arizonian`s elected me to do. And, you know, ignore the noise from the extreme rights.

REID: Yes, no, I`m sorry. Go ahead.

HOBBS: Oh, if you want to learn more, is where you learn more about me.

REID: Got to get them with the website out.

Dean, what scares me is that Ms. Hobbs seems very sincere, but that that might not matter. If Republicans get the trifecta, if we don`t get S-1, if they`re able to say you can`t vote, if they`re able to then go back and re- audit and say the votes don`t count, it doesn`t matter who runs.

OBEIDALLAH: Great. Katie Hobbs, you can win, get the most votes but you don`t get sworn in. The GOP has their dream come true. It`s not about the most votes. The GOP is giving up on democracy. Democracy is a speed bump to their dreams of absolute power. That is what we`re dealing with right now.

You know, there have been experts who wrote about the GOP before this election saying they more reflect the government in Hungary, which is an autocracy, and we do here what we know as the democracy. And you`ve got the Republicans defending the January 6th attack. Their new debate, Joy, was it an insurrection or not?

REID: Right.

OBEIDALLAH: It was a terrorist attack. We`ve got to call it terrorism.

REID: We`ve got to call it what it is. And be -- and, look, don`t think things that are happening in Eastern Europe can`t happen here and then happen in Central America and around the world. We are just as vulnerable to all of those things as anyone else. Never forget that. Katie Hobbs, best of luck in whatever you`re doing, Dean Obeidallah, Carlos Curbelo, thank you all very much.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, a ceasefire takes holds between Israel and Hamas after hundreds of deaths, mostly Palestinians. And now we are seeing an increase in anti-Semitic attacks around the world.

Plus, tonight absolute worst, just talking about the, quote/unquote emasculation of America`s military, but he`s the same guy who repeatedly emasculates himself in public, and we have the receipts.

And we have a very special guest tonight, actress Taraji P. Henson is here to tell us about her new mental health campaign to help black students to the trauma of the past year.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas continues to hold after 24 hours, yet tensions remain. With overnight celebrations followed by a clash between protesters and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem`s old city, Palestinians hurled rocks and Israeli police used stun guns and grenades and tear gas to disperse the crown. Authorities said Molotov cocktails were thrown at police and 16 people were taken into custody.

During the 11-day conflict, the Gaza Health Ministry estimates 243 Palestinians were killed, including more than 65 children, with Israeli officials saying 12 people were killed by rocket fire.

This devastating human toll is not new. Yet the recent fighting has revealed a massive, perhaps even tectonic shift in how this conflict is perceived, due to social media and younger generations, some of whom now reflect parts of the Democratic Party, who feel more sympathetic to the Palestinians` plight.

It is, of course, also Joe Biden`s first real test in the region as president.

But where the shifts in the narrative have given -- have finally given Palestinians a voice here in America, we`re also seeing the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis play out in a particularly hideous way in parts of Europe and here in the U.S., where an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents and vandalism have been reported to police and shared on social media, in Los Angeles, videos such as this one showing men allegedly fighting or attacking Jewish men on the sidewalk, while, in New York, a man was beaten in Times Square on Thursday amid dueling protests by pro-Israel and pro- Palestinian groups.

Both the NYPD and the LAPD say these incidents are being investigated as hate crimes, reflecting once again the American tradition of targeting others on American soil, many of whom are fellow Americans, for conflicts overseas that have nothing to do with them.

Joining me now is Ayman Mohyeldin, NBC News foreign correspondent and host of "AYMAN MOHYELDIN REPORTS," which airs weekdays at 3:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC. I never miss it. Neither should you. And Yair Rosenberg, senior writer for "Tablet" magazine.

And, Mr. Rosenberg, welcome to the show. It`s the first time on, so I`m going to you first.

There`s a thing that is infuriating about the way that people often take debates that are not even about people in the United States and transfer them on to fellow Americans and use it to just be jerks and be violent.

Talk a little bit about the violence we`re seeing. We have seen it with anti-Asian hate crimes. We have seen it happen with immigrants around some of the previous president`s rhetoric. Now we`re seeing it happen to Jewish Americans. Talk a little bit about what`s happening out there.

YAIR ROSENBERG, "TABLET": Yes, one of the markers of being a minority, not just in America, but in Europe and many places, is that you will be blamed for the actions of people who look like you or share particular characteristics with you.

And, of course, we saw that with Muslims and Sikhs after 9/11. And we see this periodically with regard to Jews when it comes to anything taking place in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And, needless to say, as you said, you don`t hold one person, one member of a group accountable for everything any other member of that group does, all the more so if those people are completely unrelated and thousands of miles away in the Middle East.

REID: Yes.

ROSENBERG: But this is actually something that has happened for a very long time. And it`s happened to Jews for a very long time.

In the Middle Ages in Europe, they used to burn synagogues because the Jews allegedly killed Jesus in Palestine, right? It`s the same dynamic that repeats itself over and over again, throughout Jewish history.

REID: Yes.

And there`s a there`s a piece that is in "The New York Times" that talks about the -- for younger Jewish Americans, there is this conflict, right, because there`s a lot more liberalism, there`s a lot more openness to the idea of Palestinians being a stateless people who actually can be sympathized with.

And so you have got this identity crisis where it says: "The Gaza conflict stokes identity crisis for young American Jews. A new generation is confronting the region`s longstanding conflict in a very different context with very different pressures from their parents and grandparents` generations."

One of our producers was talking about you have young American Jews who sympathize with the Palestinians, but their parents or grandparents -- I mean, their grandparents were Holocaust survivors. So they have got these views that are -- they`re both -- they can hold both things at the same time. A lot of people can`t, though.


I think a lot of people can`t actually grasp the idea of recognizing the humanity and the stories and the dignity and the pain of the Jewish people and the Palestinian people, which is, I think, deeply unfortunate, because, if you actually pay attention to their stories, there are a lot of parallels, sometimes dark parallels, but the idea of people who feel that they have -- who have lost their home or dispossessed, who are marginalized, who are mistreated in countries throughout the world, right?

And then they seek to come home. And this is why a Jew like me can sympathize, and not just sympathize, but advocate for Palestinian sovereignty and statehood...

REID: Yes.

ROSENBERG: ... because I think I know what statehood has meant to Jewish people and what it has done for the Jewish people in the world. How could I not want that for other people?

REID: Yes.

And I have got to bring you in, Ayman.

Your coverage, I think, has been studying. It`s been really great. And one of the things that you have done, I think, that has been so important is that you and your presence, just your existence, is revolutionary in a lot of ways in American media, because you have a broader context, based on your own background that you bring to the table.

Can you talk about the ways in which -- I feel like Black Lives Matter even has changed the way that people think about the Palestinian plight. You have -- let me just really quickly. This is Ayanna Pressley speaking on the floor of the House. Take a listen real quick.


REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Palestinians are being told the same thing as black folks in America. There is no acceptable form of resistance.


REID: How do you think things have changed, based on how younger people can look at the conflict for Palestinians?

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, HOST, "AYMAN MOHYELDIN REPORTS": Well, I`m actually going to draw a little bit of the answer from both of the comments that you guys just said, which is both social media and, as Yair was saying, that Palestinians are trying to take control of their narrative.

And thank you very much for those kind words. But make no mistake about it, I don`t play a role in this conflict, other than I try to simply share with people the stories that people are telling everyone that is willing to listen, which is twofold.

One, the Palestinian people, who, as Yair was describing, have sought statehood and liberation for decades, are trying to reclaim their narrative, because they have been so ill-defined by so many of the participants in this conflict.

And, more importantly, the -- and we see this all the time with the media that sometimes tends to reduce the conflict to making it with these phrases that it is Israel vs. the Arabs, or it is Israel vs. Hamas, and Palestinians constantly say -- and that`s what they did in this particular conflict is -- that Hamas does not represent all of Palestine.

And that`s a very important part of this equation, which is, when you`re talking about Palestinians, which Palestinians?

REID: Yes.

MOHYELDIN: Are you talking about Palestinians that live inside Israel? Are you talking about Palestinians that live in Jerusalem, the West Bank, refugees, Palestinians that live in America?

And the point to Yair -- that Yair was talking about, which is so important, about the rise of anti-Semitism, there is now this backlash among Palestinians who say people who are committing these attacks are not helping the Palestinian cause.

You see that everywhere on social media. And people are saying anyone who carries or attacks a Jewish person anywhere in the world is actually doing a disservice to the Palestinian cause. And that is something that you`re not seeing for the -- excuse me -- that you are seeing for the first time because of social media.

Where, in the past, it may have happened, it may not have gotten the same kind of attention, and may have actually never even been reported on, Palestinians are now going to social media and whatever outlets they have in their own various channels on Instagram and Facebook and saying, no, we condemn this. This does not help the Palestinian cause.

And I think, as many people have documented over the past couple of days and have noted, it could be a new dynamic in this conflict that may bring a more balanced approach to trying to resolve it. There are lingering issues that are very serious that have not been addressed.

But there is also a new momentum, both in politics, both in social media, both a cultural awareness and, as you as you mentioned, some of the issues that people are dealing with around the world with various rights, whether it be BLM or what we`re seeing play out in the occupied West Bank. There are these alliances that are trying to raise the awareness of the plight of people all around the world.

REID: Yes.

And you know what is different, too, is the media looks different. I think just this panel, we need to have more diversity in media. And both of you are fantastic journalists. And I think that it`s important to have more nuance.

And, by the way, the Likud Party is one political party in Israel. That doesn`t represent all Jewish people all over the world. Stop labeling people, and just stop being jerks to people based on things that aren`t even happening the United States. Just learn a bit more about the issues.

And here are two people you can learn from.

Ayman Mohyeldin, Yair Rosenberg, thank you both very much.

And still ahead: A new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Carol Leonnig takes us inside the U.S. Secret Service, exposing its sprawling responsibilities and chronic underfunding.

Carol Leonnig will be here to tell us more next on THE REIDOUT.


REID: "The Washington Post" reported today that one former president, that our -- sorry -- that our former president and fledgling Florida blogger charged the Secret Service more than $40,000 this spring for rooms that his protected detail use while guarding him at his Mar-a-Lago club/home.

As "The Post" notes, those charges, ultimately paid by taxpayers, are the first evidence that Trump has continued a controversial and lucrative practice, charging rent to his own protectors in his post-presidency.

It`s part of a pattern for our former grifter in chief. As Carol Leonnig writes in her new book, "Zero Fail": "The Secret Service were ultimately pawns in a larger pattern, with a lucrative payoff for Donald Trump."

They were also pawns in following their dear leader`s agenda, from dispersing Black Lives Matter protesters, so Trump could pretend to know what holding a Bible is like, to protecting his coronavirus super-spreader rallies.

But, more insidiously, Leonnig writes that -- quote -- "Many agents were cheering for Trump`s reelection. And when Biden emerged the clear victory, agents were promoting Trump`s debunked conspiracy theories. And, after January 6, they were empathizing with and defending the mission of the armed rioters who breached the Capitol.

"So serious was this concern about Trump`s corrosive hold on the Secret Service that Biden transition advisers urged that the agency swap out all members of the Trump presidential detail, before Biden`s inauguration headquarters agreed to a compromise. They would bring back some of the senior agents who Biden knew well from his vice presidential detail and make them supervisors on his new presidential team" -- unquote.

With me now is Carol Leonnig, "Washington Post" reporter and author of "Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service."

And, Ms. Leonnig, thank you so much for being here. I saw your interview on with Rachel Maddow. I was stunned into terror, actually. And so I`m a bit afraid of your book, but I`m glad that you did write it.

Let`s talk first about -- let`s go back a little bit about this charging Secret Service agents to protect him. WTF?


CAROL LEONNIG, AUTHOR, "ZERO FAIL: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SECRET SERVICE": You know, it`s funny, because, ultimately, the Secret Service paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that means taxpayers paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, to the Trump Organization over the years that he was president.

It might be for rooms to stay near him and his family members. It might be for golf carts. It might be for any number of things that the Trump Organization charged for space at Mar-a-Lago, space at Bedminster for their offices, all to protect the president.

Now, it`s not unusual, Joy, for a president to charge for space at their personal home. But it`s usually kind of a tiny amount. And with the Trump Organization, it was a lot. Also, you said it better than I did. They were ultimately pawns, the Secret Service agents and the agency was, because there was a much larger dollar figure going towards Mar-a-Lago and the Trump Organization, which were all of the people who wanted an audience with the president.

If he was always leaving the White House, mostly in the winter for Mar-a- Lago and in the summer and the spring for Bedminster, then people who wanted to see the president had to travel to his clubs to see him. And they also ended up paying into the Trump war coffers.

REID: It is gross and despicable.

But I wonder, because you also write a lot about this sort of absolute fealty that parts of the Secret Service had to Donald Trump. I don`t understand it. These people are being used. They`re being charged to protect him.

And yet you write that almost there was a faction inside the Secret Service of Trumpists who went along with the January 6 insurrection. What?

LEONNIG: I know. It`s a little bit shocking. It`s not shocking to some of their Secret Service friends.

Members of the president`s detail were very close to the president. That`s going to happen. You`re going to get close to somebody that you protect all the time, that you stand with at their vacation, that you stand with in their most private moments. You`re going to get to know that person, and maybe like them.

But this agency is supposed to be above reproach when it comes to political viewpoints. Those, you stuff in a bag somewhere when you go to work, because you`re supposed to be protecting the office, not the man, meaning not his presidential and political goals.

But, in this case, the presidential detail leaders -- forgive me -- the presidential detail members, some of them were rooting for the January 6 rioters, calling them patriots, sometimes basically questioning whether or not Biden had been legitimately elected.

And that was very disturbing to some of their colleagues, who then shared the screenshots with me.

REID: And this is despite and, according to your reporting, roughly 300 agents and officers getting COVID because of Donald Trump, often infecting their family members, or having to quarantine because of being around an infected co-worker, despite him passing COVID to them.

It is shocking to me.

But I guess my big question to you, you write about a guy named Tony Ornato, who was in a temporary position in the White House. He was actually moved from the Secret Service into a political position, where he`s helping set up these rallies. Then he`s now back in the Secret Service in a senior position?

I wonder, with somebody like that, or maybe some of these other Trumpists still in place, are President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris safe with these people in place?

LEONNIG: It`s very disturbing.

I will just repeat what I -- my sources have told me inside the Secret Service, which is, they`re really worried because this agency is supposed to protect the office, and not protect a particular person and their ideology.

And in the case of now Assistant Director Tony Ornato, he had been a political arm of the president, a huge booster for him, and helping him clear Lafayette Square outside the White House on June 1, clear, basically, peaceful protesters forcibly with munitions, rubber bullets, shields.

And he was also a key part in helping the president sort of buff his image as a law and order president, get out there while COVID was spiking, send officers and agents basically into their next sick bed by continuing to stage these campaign rallies.

So, now he`s an assistant director, moved back into the Secret Service. One of the complaints I hear most frequently, both from current agents and former, is, how could this have been allowed to happen? Because that`s a blemish on the Secret Service`s sort of noble promise to be above politics.

REID: Yes, it`s scary.

And it does make me worry about the security of the current administration, to be honest with you, with these people running around in there. Terrifying.

Carol Leonnig, thank you very much. I will read your book. We say scaring is caring on this show. So, scaring is caring. Scary.

Up next: What do you get when a spineless politician who has never served a day in uniform attacks America`s increasingly diverse all-volunteer military?

Oh, that`s easy. You get tonight`s absolute worst.

Don`t go anywhere.


REID: Anyone familiar with this show knows that Senator Rafael "Ted" Cruz of Texas is often featured in this very space. When it comes to being the absolute worst, he is a repeat offender.

Now, it was bad enough that Cancun cruise toted his Tumi bag to Mexico for a vacation at the Ritz-Carlton while millions in his home state of Texas were freezing without power, but now he`s earned a new nickname, which my colleague Brian Williams coined last night, Kremlin Cruz, because now Texas` most embarrassing senator is denigrating the U.S. armed forces, while applauding Russia`s military.

Yes, you heard that correctly. Cruz actually shared a Russian propaganda recruitment video on his Twitter account yesterday, using it to malign a recent commercial for the U.S. Army. His comment says: "Perhaps a woke, emasculated military is not the best idea."

Tip your waiters, unless you`re Ted Cruz, who probably doesn`t even tip his waiters.

Well, here are some of the clips that Cruz shared, first from the Russian propaganda video, then from the U.S. Army ad.


CPL. EMMA MALONELORD, U.S. ARMY: It begins in California with a little girl raised by two moms.

I also marched for equality.

I like to think I have been defending freedom from an early age.

... to marry my other mom. With such powerful role models, I finished high school at the top of my class. And after meeting with an Army recruiter, I found it, a way to prove my inner strength.

I`m U.S. Army Corporal Emma Malonelord, and I answered my calling.


REID: Now, while the Russian video is straight-up propaganda, the U.S. Army ad tells the real-life story of an American air defense officer, Corporal Emma Malonelord, who`s stationed in South Korea.

She represents the reality of our increasingly diverse all-volunteer armed forces.

Let`s just keep it real. She could probably drop-kick Ted Cruz back to Cancun without breaking a sweat. I mean, hell, probably I could.

But Russia`s little helper, who`s never served in uniform and doesn`t even properly serve his Texas constituents, went on to defend his stupid tweet by whining that -- quote -- "Democratic politicians and woke media are trying turn our military into pansies."

Pansies? Who even says that the 21st century?

And now Cruz`s homophobic attacks have predictably backfired. His attacks prompted Army leaders to rally behind Corporate Malonelord today, with the commander of U.S. armed forces in Korea describing her as a "superstar by any measure."

But let`s come back to Cruz`s tweet for a second, because, of all things, he accuses the U.S. armed forces of being -- quote -- "emasculated." Emasculated, probably not the wisest go-to for the man who Trump named Lying Ted and who kept kissing Trump`s orange posterior even after Trump subjected him and his family to ritual humiliation.

I mean, it must have been pretty emasculating for Cruz to embrace the guy who basically called his wife ugly compared to Melania. And it must have been pretty emasculating for Cruz to caddy for someone who accused his father of taking part in the Kennedy assassination.

For most men, those indignities would be too much to bear, but not for Ted Cruz. He took it sitting down. After all of that, Cruz phone-banked Republicans in Texas to get out the vote for his apparent real daddy.

So, he should know a thing or two about being emasculated.

Oh, and did I mention that he blamed his own daughters when he was caught escaping to Cancun? That is why Ted Cruz is once again the absolute worst.

And you know what, Ted? If you like the Russian military so much, maybe you should make your next Tumi bag trip to mother Russia and try to join up.

Oh, right, they won`t take you, because you`re far too emasculated.



TARAJI P. HENSON, ACTRESS/MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATE: You`re supposed to feel safe at school.

I`m here using my celebrity, using my voice to put a face to this, because I also suffer from depression and anxiety. And if you`re a human living in today`s world, I don`t know how you`re not suffering in any way.

I mean, if you turn on the news, that`s PTSD right there. We need each other.


REID: A lot has happened in the two years since actress Taraji P. Henson told Congress about the mental health needs of black youth, namely, the year that was 2020.

The pandemic laid bare longstanding racial inequities. A December study showed black and Latinx students falling further behind in the shift to remote schooling, less likely to receive in person schooling than white students.

And the murder of George Floyd and the racial reckoning that followed put in focus the toll that racism and police brutality take on the emotional and mental health of black students.

In response to a United Negro College Fund survey at historically black colleges and universities last summer, one student said: "COVID-19 is out here killing us, and so are the police. And I`m tired. I never felt like I needed more therapy in my life."

Now Taraji P. Henson is again using her celebrity to help. This week, her foundation, the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, launched the Unspoken Curriculum, a new six-weeks campaign centered on black students` mental health and bias in our education system.

The foundation, created in 2018, is named after Henson`s father, who also struggled with mental health issues.

And Taraji P. Henson, Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actress and founder of the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, joins me now.

And I`m already smiling because I`m such a huge fan. So, I just am excited for you to be here.

So, I`m going to try to hold myself together and talk to you.


REID: OK. Now I`m freaking out.

So, I -- I learned a lot about you in preparing for this segment. And I didn`t know -- as much of a fan as I am, I don`t know how I didn`t know you were a substitute teacher at one point, which I think is amazing.

Can you talk about how your experience of having been a teacher informed your outlook on how we can deal with mental health with kids, especially given how horrible 2020 was?

HENSON: Well, I volunteered to be a substitute teacher for special needs students. So I thought.

And the first few assignments, I was actually in a school with special needs students, meaning mentally, physically impaired. Then I get a call to go to Crenshaw for the same services, I thought. I`m waiting in the class for my babies to come in, who bring me so much joy and put my life in perspective.

And in walks a roomful of black boys labeled special ed. They could speak. They had attitudes. They were witty. Didn`t see any physical impairment, or mental, for that -- for what I could see right away.

It was a long assignment. As I was there, I did a little further research, found out why these students weren`t doing the homework. Parents weren`t home. One kid was found wandering out by the train tracks, which was in the backyard of the school. That`s a whole `nother thing. How are you supposed to learn what a train running through the backyard, the playground every day?

Also, one student was arrested for stealing. We`re talking fourth grade, by the way.

REID: Yes.

HENSON: One student was arrested for stealing food from a 7-Eleven.

Students are normalizing shoot-outs with bullet casings and bullet holes in the school, grabbing my head, laughing, going, "Hah-hah, Ms. Henson, look, there was a shoot-out last night."

And we`re expecting our children to come to school and learn under these traumatic experiences, is just unfair. It`s not fair.

I did research. And I found out that 16 percent of enrolled students -- we make up -- our children, children of color, make up 16 percent of enrolled students, which they are often treated more harshly than the others; 27 percent of the students are referred -- who are our students -- referred to law enforcement, 31 percent of the students who are arrested, 48 percent of students receiving one or more suspensions.

REID: Yes.

HENSON: Where`s the compassion? Where`s the understanding? Where`s the help for our children?

REID: Well, and then, of course, COVID made it worse, right?

And so you have -- I mean, we`re looking at these statistics here. More than half of black students were learning at home.


REID: But that doesn`t mean that more than half of black students necessarily had good Wi-Fi, the resources and the backup they needed to make that work, and then also dealing with the double depressions of, as you said in your testimony, seeing fellow black people die, somebody who looks like their dad or their uncle or their mom, on top of it.

So, how is the foundation going to deal with that? What are you guys putting forward to try to make that better?

HENSON: Well, we partner with another agency of ours, Edelman, and we are launching an Unspoken Curriculum.

And it`s designed to highlight the lessons that students learn about race. Sometimes, in school, it`s not in the curriculum. There`s bias. So, the goal is to bring awareness.

So, we have -- we`re hosting one our virtual hangout rooms for students to connect and socialize with their peers. These virtual hangout spaces will be moderated by licensed therapists and educators and experienced counselors to create a safe space for students to talk openly about their mental health and relate to experiences in school.

You have to think about this. Like, my son went to a private school, very diverse.

Oops. I did something. I took my screen off.

Very diverse. But what about the students who aren`t of color, who have to deal with watching their friends get treated a different way? We`re opening a new forum for all of the students to speak, and not just students 12 to 22, parents, peers, educators, counselors, guidance counselors, therapists, whoever wants to join the conversation.

Please look us up at\ -- forward slash -- what is it? Oh, I want to get it right -- forward slash unspoken, forward slash, please.


REID: And we`re going to post this too.

HENSON: Please do, because we want to help in any way.

Look, as an African-American young woman going to public schools, I`m still suffering with traumas that I didn`t even realize that was happening to me in school, little microaggressions that I didn`t catch until later.

And now, as a 50-year-old woman who`s established, I still catch myself bracing myself when I walk into a room that don`t have maybe one or two of us in it. Why is that? Because society hasn`t told me that I`m safe in any room.

REID: Yes.

HENSON: I`m sure my white counterparts don`t feel like they have to brace their selves when they walk in a room...

REID: Yes.

HENSON: ... because society tells them they`re safe.


REID: And the thing that is so -- while -- you`re right.

And if Taraji P. Henson is having those feelings, and you have so many resources to be able to respond, imagine how young women are feeling all over this country, and black women and black boys and girls.

So, I love that you`re doing this. Thank you so much. I so appreciate you being here.

We`re going to post all the links and everything to your foundation. Thank you. Thank you, sister. I appreciate you.

HENSON: Thanks.


I`m so excited I talked to Taraji P. Henson.

OK, so, before we go, we could all use a moment of Joy as we head into the weekend back in 2019.

I covered a story about the Dvash-Banks family, a same-sex couple denied citizenship for one of their children under a Trump administration policy that required children born abroad to have a biological tie to a U.S. citizen.

Well, this week, the Biden administration announced a new interpretation of that law that would grant citizenship previously denied to their child, taking into account the realities of modern families, such as assisted reproductive technology used by LGBTQ families.

Congratulations to Ethan and the rest of the Dvash-Banks family. And they`re so adorable.

That is tonight`s REIDOUT.