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Transcript: The ReidOut, 5/25/21

Guests: Cynthia Alksne, Tim O`Brien, Frederick Lawrence, Karen Bass, Tim Miller, Cory Booker


Manhattan D.A. convenes Trump grand jury. "Washington Post" reports, Manhattan D.A. convenes Trump grand jury. "Washington Post" reports, Manhattan grand jury to decide whether to indict Trump. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey is interviewed.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Tonight we take a moment to hear those voices who have the last word, and as mentioned, we have fuller civil rights report digging into this on the anniversary tomorrow.

Now, on this big news night, I am going to handed off to "THE REIDOUT" with Joy Reid. I cannot wait to see the coverage that comes with all of the news barreling towards you, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: You know, Ari, first of all, thank you for ending your show that way, because you know we had an entire plan, as I`m sure that did you did, to talk about a lot of these George Floyd issues tonight. But as you know better than I do, prosecutors had their own timeline and they don`t care about our timeline. It`s, in a way, kind of comforting, right, that they don`t pay attention to news cycle. Prosecutors just do what they do.

MELBER: They do it on their own schedule. The information goes where it goes. And I can`t way to see what you do with it. What a news night, Joy.

REID: What a news night. Ari, thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

All right, well good evening, everyone. I am Joy Reid. And we have a lot of moving parts as Ari and I just mention tonight. And as you can imagine, our plan was to spend a large portion of this hour talking about the anniversary of George Floyd`s murder and the legislation that`s moving through Congress to try and enact police reform in Mr. Floyd`s name. But the breaking news gods clearly had other plans, as did prosecutors in New York.

So while we will bring you a discussion of the latest on that George Floyd Policing Act with Senator Cory Booker later in the show, we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with explosive news out of New York in the ongoing investigation of the former president of the United States, Donald Trump and the Trump Organization.

In a breaking story late today, The Washington Post revealed that Manhattan`s district attorney has convened the grand jury that is expected to decide whether to indict Trump, other executives at his company or the business itself, should prosecutors present the panel with criminal charges.

That`s according to two people familiar with the development. One of whom says, that it is likely, that Trump related testimony in the secret proceeding has already begun. Though it`s not clear whether the grand jury will return any indictments. The development suggests that Vance believes he has found evidence of a crime, if not by Trump then by someone potentially close to him or by his company.

Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance has been investigating Trumps since 2018 and is reportedly scrutinizing whether Trump`s company misrepresented the value of his assets for tax or insurance purposes. That`s also known as fraud. And no president of the United States has ever been charged with that or any other crime, so just the potential of that is a very big deal.

Last week, we also learned that Cy Vance`s team joined forces with investigators with the office of New York attorney general whose civil probe has become a criminal investigation.

Joining me now, two former federal prosecutors, Paul Butler and Cynthia Alksne, and Tim O`Brien, Senior Columnist with Bloomberg Opinion. I`m just going to go right down the line. I`ll start with you Paul.

I have said a grand jury in New York and Brooklyn, and I can tell you that the attitude that we quickly learn was that they weren`t there just to describe some potential crime, they were there to indict folks. So when you hear that a grand jury has been empanelled, what does that tell you as a former prosecutor? How likely is an actual indictment here?

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Joy, when I was a public correction prosecutor, I spent way more time in front of the grand jury than in court. Prosecutors don`t get grand juries for fishing expeditions. Grand juries on public corruption cases are convened when prosecutors think they have probable cause the legal standards for charging somebody with a crime. And so the Manhattan district attorney, they believe, he has enough evidence to charge something or somebody, something, may be the Trump Organization.

Joy, sometimes with corporate crime the top executives are protected and middle managers get blamed for everything but the Trump Organization reportedly consolidated all decision-making power at the very top. So the individuals who have criminal exposure include Donald Trump Senior, Don Junior, Eric, Ivanka and Allen Weisselberg.

REID: And, you know Cynthia, I think that`s true. I think about the Rick Scott situation where he had a huge health care company that committed massive Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare fraud and he gave a deposition saying, hey, I didn`t know anything about that. That didn`t have anything to do with me. He was never involved direct fully this case. But in this case, it`s a little different. And I`m going to get with that a little bit more. I mean, Donald Trump is intimately involved obviously in the Trump Organization. It`s on a big massive company like that health care company was.

So, talk to me about this, because prosecutors do impanel grand juries, as Paul said, not for fishing expeditions but because they think they have probable cause. How unlikely, in your view, would it be for them to convene this kind of a process for a former president of the United States? And do you think that the person who should be the most nervous is Donald Trump or is it one of these other people that Paul mentioned, the son or Allen Weisselberg?

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well I think, right now, it`s the lower level people. And, look, this is six months period and it`s a very important period. Prosecution and with the grand jury system in New York is very different from the federal system. Because if you put a witness in the grand jury in New York, you immunize them, it`s very different and it makes it much more difficult. So you have to work around the edges in a much smarter way, quite frankly. They don`t have the same levers of power when you are using the grand jury system in New York.

It`s not -- this isn`t surprising at all. I mean, after all, he`s been doing this for two years, now he`s got the tax returns. Tish James joins last week and joins into the process. And we have a pretty open process about the pressure on Weisselberg. And we`ve also had the addition of this guy, Tom Moran (ph).

So this isn`t surprising news, but recognized it`s not -- it`s a big step but he doesn`t mean for sure anything until we go through the process because the New York process is so different for the federal process in terms of grabbing evidence and flipping people and moving within the system. It`s very different.

REID: Yes. And flipping people that -- we know that Eric Trump has been interviewed, Tim.

ALKSNE: Under oath.

REID: Under oath. Yes. And that we know that Mr. Weisselberg has been interviewed. You`ve talked about the importance of him. So if people were going to flip, it seems like those are the kind of people. But that things that have been -- the two cases that have had in common from the very beginning, Tim, both the Letitia James case and the Cy Vance case, is that they both appeared to have proceeded from what Michael Cohen, whose Trump`s former lawyer, said under oath in his testimony before congress.

So let me play that, and let me see if we have that here. This is former Congresswoman Lacy Clay questioning Michael Cohen. This was in 2019. And for people who all remember, this was around the pay-off to Stormy Daniels and other women. Here is Michael Cohen testifying.


FORMER REP. WILLIAM LACY CLAY (D-MO): To your knowledge, did the president or his company ever inflate assets or revenue?


CLAY: And was that done with the president`s knowledge or direction?

COHEN: Everything was done with the knowledge and at the direction of Mr. Trump.


REID: So, Tim, that last bit seems to be the important part and this is where your reporting comes in, a long time reporting on Donald Trump. He says everything that was done, was done with the knowledge of Donald Trump. That seems to me to be bad news for the former president.

TIM O`BRIEN, BLOOMBERG OPINION SENIOR COLUMNIST: Right. You know, when Paul mentioned earlier about how complex corporate investigations can become, he`s totally right. The thing is the Trump Organization is not really a complex organization. It`s not even as complex as your local super market in term of its size.

Big corporations have controls in place and they have levels of deniability for the chief executive at the top of the food chain. The Trump Organization is this mom and pop shop and Donald Trump ran everything in that place through -- largely through two people and then a handful of others. And anything of significance didn`t happen without his knowledge and without him signing off on it. And that`s been true for decades. He`s been inflating assets for decades. He`s been running around the edges of securities regulation and the law for decades. This is all coming home to roost here now.

And I think the significance of the grand jury proceeding, where ever it ends up and we simply don`t know yet where it will end up, is that I don`t think Cy Vance would be convening a grand jury and his team would not be convening a grand jury to hear evidence unless they believe they have compelling evidence.

For the same reason, I don`t think Tish James would have expanded her investigation from a civil probe into a criminal probe unless she was rock solid sure she had reason to do so. And those are both serious warning shots across the bow to the Trump Organization. It doesn`t mean yet that he winds up in an orange jump suit up though.

REID: Yes. And really quickly, to stay with you for a second, Tim, because you`ve reported on the family. I mean, the father was accused. There was a lengthy New York Times piece of talk about the father cheating on his taxes and trying to find ways to avoid paying taxes. Wasn`t Allen Weisselberg also the COO then? It`s going to -- what I`m trying to get to is how difficult it might be for Donald Trump to distance himself from lower level employees, to pull a Rick Scott, basically and say, that wasn`t me. How intimate was he involved and also wasn`t the father also sort of the same lines in terms of his avoidance of taxes?

O`BRIEN: Allen Weisselberg joined the Trump Organization in the mid-1970s, at the same time Donald basically did. They grew up in the company together. He started as Fred Trump`s accountant. Donald made him as their CFO. Donald Trump is going to have a hard time saying he didn`t know about things. But the prosecutors are going to have a hard time putting together an evidentiary trail and a fact pattern that he definitely ties him through evidence to knowledge of this. And that`s why witnesses will be going to be important because Donald Trump doesn`t use email and he has a long practice of deniability around issues like this.

REID: Yes. And let me play another piece of Michael Cohen. This is Michael Cohen, and he was on with us here on THE REIDOUT last week, and this is what he said about what Donald Trump might do if he feels backed into a corner. Take a listen.


COHEN: I think Donald Trump is going to flip on all of them. What do you think about that, including his children?

What`s going to happen when all of the sudden they turn around and 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. And he`s going to turn on his accountant and point the finger. He`s going to say, Don Junior handled that. Ivanka handle that. Melania, don`t take me, take Melania. He`s going to tell you to take everyone except for himself.


REID: And, Paul, public corruption-type of case, you know, Cynthia mentioned now Eric Trump already has testified under oath. How likely is it that this kind of cases become a finger pointing exercise where everyone is trying to blame others and how does that impact this kind of case?

BUTLER: That would be to their defense. The accountant made me do it. The lawyer made me do it. Cy Vance is not going to buy that defense. If there`s exposure for Donald Trump Senior, Cy Vance, if he thinks that he has an airtight case, will bring that case and everyone else will be subordinate to the target. And that`s a legal word. We don`t know yet that President Trump is the target. But all indications are that Cy Vance is laser focus on the Trump Organization.

There`s never been this comprehensive and intensive investigation of Trump business dealings. They`re going to know what we`ve seen of Trump`s corruption in the White House, the corruption Trump admitted to with regard to his charitable organizations. It`s not surprising that his business may not have been law-abiding.

REID: Yes. And that is a really good point, Cynthia, and I want to come to you on that because you know Letitia James is already had a history, a track record of having gone after the Trump organization, the Trump charitable foundation himself and his children, can`t even do a charity anymore in the state of New York because of it.

On his blog, which is I find it sort of a bit funny to say, but, I mean, that`s the only way he`ll communicate to the outside world now, he`s typing on his blog and accusing her of being political because she did run for office, saying that she was going to go after these organizations, which she had alleged had been corrupt for a long time.

How effective might it be to try to turn this into politics, especially since Cy Vance is on his way out, this is his final term, he`s a lame duck prosecutor pursuing this case?

ALKSNE: I don`t think that will work. I think they ought to give him his Twitter account back in, because all he does is get himself in trouble. There`s nothing sweeter in conspiracy case if everybody are point a finger to each other and accuse everybody else, because then, you can really work with that. That would be great. Let`s give him as many platforms as we can give them because he is likely to blame other people.

I will say one thing about Weisselberg, who obviously knows everything. He`s also intensely loyal. He`s not going be easy to flip. And that`s why they`re going to need every lever of power in order to get him to flip on Donald Trump. It will be very difficult. But if they do, it will be a jackpot.

REID: Wow, it is something else. Okay let me bring in one of the reporters who broke this story for The Washington Post, everybody stay right there, David Fahrenthold, So let`s get into that. Because it does seem to me that we don`t know, right, just to be clear on your reporting, that Donald Trump is the target here. It could be someone else. It could be Mr. Weisselberg. It could Eric Trump, for all we know. Is there any indication that prosecutors are already pressuring Mr. Weisselberg or his children in this case?

DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I mean, we know from out reporting that the prosecutor and the D.A.`s office want to flip Allen Weisselberg. They see Allen Weisselberg as sort of a human equivalent to all of those millions of pages of tax returns that they got a few months ago. Even better, Allen Weisselberg, if he wanted to, could give you information about Trump`s intent. He could say, look, we took this move because Donald Trump told me. Donald Trump understood what he was doing, we did it anyway.

And that`s really key part of proving any sort of criminal case, especially when involving taxes, where there`s a higher burden approved. Yet to show somebody understood the law they were breaking before they broke it. So Weisselberg is key to this case, and that`s why there`s so much pressure on him.

REID: And can we talk about the specific properties at issue, because this isn`t broadly across every property that Donald Trump own. This is not a broad -- it seems like it`s somewhat narrow, the Chicago property and there`s a New York property. Can you give us a little bit more on that?

FAHRENTHOLD: Joy, we don`t know everything about this case. Remember, Cy Vance got millions of pages of Trump`s tax return a few months ago, so he could have had all kinds of things that we don`t know about.

The public things we do know about, you`re right, it`s a handful of properties, all around two themes, one that he deceived taxing authorities by getting what he called conservation easement on his properties, and basically saying that he`d given up development rights that were many more than they actually were, saving money on his taxes.

There`s also a question about a $100 million-plus loan that was forgiven on his Chicago tower. So if you have a big loan like that forgiven, generally, you have to pay income tax. There`s a question of whether Trump actually had done that.

And there`s this question on whether he misled lenders, by telling lenders that he had more money and he had more assets than he actually did to make himself look like a better creditor.

REID: And let`s talk about these tax returns that you just mention, because there was a lengthy fight over these tax returns. So it went on the way to the Supreme Court. That seems to have pushed this into this era, right. This is something that Cy Vance had been working on a long time. Is that the reason that this is the timing? Is that because they finally got their hands on the tax returns? And just out reporting-wise, how far are they through them? Is this something that they`ve now gone through and now this case might emerge from what they found or are they still poring over them?

FAHRENTHOLD: You`re right, that the timing of this is all about the tax returns. This case -- Vance had made a decision to ask for everything. And he couldn`t move until he got an answer, until he got the tax returns (INAUDIBLE) he couldn`t get them. Once he got them, he said some forensic accountants, he`s had a lot of prosecutors going through them. They`ve had a few months. We don`t know how far in they are but I imagine they`ve already learned a lot.

Joy, you mentioned earlier the Trump Foundation, the Trump charity that happened under investigation by the New York A.G.`s office a few years ago. That`s an instructive case, because they also had their tax returns prepared by the same people within the Trump Organization and the same outside accounting firm, Mazars. That little snapshot of Trump`s tax operation, when you peeled it open, there were all kinds of things wrong. They were misstated accounts, missing paperwork, and that was a big part of the case that Letitia James made against Trump that it resulted in a $2 million fine.

So the onetime we`ve actually seen these people production, their actual work in terms of producing taxes, there were a lot of problems in that.

REID: And let`s talk about the merging of these two cases. Were you able to develop any reporting that sort of answers the question of why the Letitia James case, which, as you said, she has this track record of going after Trump civilly, then this case suddenly flipped and became a criminal case in this sort of merge with the Cy Vance case? Do you have any reporting on what triggered that merger?

FAHRENTHOLD: We don`t know what specifically or what person it is attached to. (INAUDIBLE) has reported it`s attached to Allen Weisselberg. We haven`t reported that yet. The key here is the kind of evidence.

What people who worked in the A.G`s office have told us this is the kind of evidence that makes you switch from civil to criminal is evidence about intent. You know, civil case all requires you to do is prove somebody broke the law. Criminal case requires somebody they knew they were breaking the law and did it anyway. And if you get that kind of evidence, it points to somebody`s state of mind, that criminal intent, that can make it a criminal case.

So that was what the deference (ph) of the A.G.`s office took away from this was that they must have found that kind of evidence.

REID: Yes. It is fascinating and history-making. This has never happened to a former president, needless to say. David Fahrenthold, thank you very much. I really appreciate your time. Paul Butler and Cynthia Alksne, thank you both very much as well. Tim O`Brien is sticking around.

And stay with us as we continue tonight`s breaking news from The Washington Post. The grand jury has been convened by the Manhattan D.A. to decide whether to indicts the former president of the United States, Donald Trump, or any others in his company.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: We are back with this major breaking news that the New York -- top prosecutor in New York has convened a criminal probe, a grand jury, in the case of whether or not crimes were committed by Donald Trump, his company, or anyone associated with it regarding taxes, regarding misstating the value of assets to avoid taxes.

Joining me now, Frederick M. Lawrence, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and current distinguished lecturer at the Georgetown Law Center. And also back with me is Tim O`Brien, senior columnist with Bloomberg Opinion.

I want to start by going back just a little bit, because Donald Trump has never hidden the fact that he was not somebody who was really prone to want to pay taxes, or not to do it willingly.

I want to play the debate between -- one of the debates between himself and Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and she pressed him on his tax returns. This was in 2016. Take a listen.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Sol, you`ve got to ask yourself, why won`t he release his tax returns?

we don`t know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn`t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he`s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody`s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn`t pay any federal income tax.


CLINTON: So, if he`s paid...


REID: "That makes me smart."

Actually, Tim O`Brien, I want to go to you on this first, because you have reported on this for a long time. I mean, he was never hiding the fact that he was not willing to pay taxes.

O`BRIEN: Because I don`t think he ever thought he`d be under the microscope of a criminal prosecutor. And now he is.

Look, there`s a lot of legitimate ways real estate developers minimize the income taxes they pay. He is hardly the only real estate developer to take advantage of very generous loopholes that exist around the tax code for people who develop real estate.

Having said that, his use of write-offs has been extreme. And in some cases, there`s an issue as to whether or not he was forgiven loans that he was -- that he that he owed to banks or to other lenders, and he didn`t adequately account for that in his tax returns in a way that is possibly criminal.

So, his flip responses to Hillary Clinton that it makes him smart, he`s walking a very fine line there, because it also might make him a criminal at the end of the day.

REID: Yes.

O`BRIEN: And that`s part of what`s going to get adjudicated now. It`s not everything, but it`s part of it.

REID: And he might have gotten away with it if he hadn`t run for president and won and the -- and invited scrutiny by not ever releasing his tax returns while he was president.

Mr. Lawrence, welcome to the show.


REID: What does it say to you, as a former SDNY prosecutor yourself -- thank you very much -- that Cyrus Vance has brought in a couple of top prosecutors just in February, a guy named Mark Pomerantz, who specializes in white-collar crimes and has put mafia bosses behind bars and who prosecuted John Gotti`s son?

What does that say to you?

LAWRENCE: That guy named Mark Pomerantz was one of the stars in the office when I was there.

So, the fact that he was brought in meant they wanted somebody with experience in high-profile cases, had complicated cases, cases that have a lot of paper or a lot of evidence, that you got to put a whole complicated timeline together.

I know, to a lot of people watching, this case feels like it`s been around forever. Why is it taking them so long?

REID: Yes.

LAWRENCE: Because it is complicated, and they are doing it with great detail, and you`re watching each of the steps now.

So, when you saw Letitia James say, we`re going from a civil to a criminal matter, that tells you it`s not just wrongdoing, but potentially intentional wrongdoing.

REID: Yes.

LAWRENCE: When you see a grand jury has been impaneled, that means that they think there`s evidence to put before a grand jury. So, step by step by step, we`re moving along.

REID: And can I just stay with you for just a moment, because, as I mentioned, sitting on a grand jury, it is a lengthy process, but it`s not usually six months.

What is -- can you just walk us through how that works? Why would a grand jury be seated for that long? And while that grand jury is seated, I know that most grand juries see a lot of cases all at once. Are they there that long because they`re just focused on this? Or would they operate like a normal grand jury and look at other cases, and that is -- is that what would extend it to six months?

LAWRENCE: New York County, you have got two different kinds of grand juries.

You have got what most people think of as the grand jury where people will put cases in front of them for burglaries, armed robbery, murder, all the cases a DA`s office will do.

Then you have an investigatory grand jury for cases that are complicated, where they`re putting the evidence together. That`s the grand jury that`s going to give them subpoenas for searches, that`s going to bring in witnesses, that`s going to start having testimony brought in.

It may not take six months. It could take longer than six months. They have the authority to go back to the judge and ask a judge to extend that grand jury. So, nobody should think that this means something`s going to happen tomorrow. Don`t be waiting by your phone to get news of indictment tomorrow.

REID: Yes.

LAWRENCE: This is going to take time. But, clearly, this is a significant step.

REID: And, Tim O`Brien, I want to play for you one more piece of Michael Cohen.

And this was when he was being questioned by Congressman Lacy Clay.

No, he -- this is by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, questioning him also about the valuation of Trump properties. Take a listen.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): To your knowledge, did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?


OCASIO-CORTEZ: Do you think we need to review his financial statements and his tax returns in order to compare them?

COHEN: Yes. And you would find it at the Trump Org.


REID: Tim, do you think that Donald Trump tonight is regretting throwing that man under the bus?

O`BRIEN: I think he undoubtedly is.

And I think it`s just -- it`s a measure, I think, of his shortsightedness and his arrogance, because his company and the people around him essentially threw Michael Cohen to the wolves, with the belief that they didn`t have anything to fear from him, and that it wouldn`t boomerang back on him in a negative way.

And, lo and behold, it`s given rise now to two criminal investigations. So, I`m certain he`s -- regrets that.

REID: Yes.

O`BRIEN: And a lot of the things that Michael Cohen has brought up were issues that we litigated with Trump in my case with him.

And Trump ended up wanting to settle that case because the fact pattern that emerged was damning. And that was just a microcosmic version of what Cy Vance is looking at now.

REID: Yes, it is something else. What a timeline.

If he hadn`t run for president, he might have gotten away with it all. You ran, you won, and now you face the consequences.

Frederick Lawrence, thank you very much. Tim O`Brien, my friend, thank you.

And our breaking news coverage continues after this.

Plus: Today marked the one-year anniversary of George Floyd`s murder, and still no action on police reform in Congress. We have got all of that coming up.

Stay with us.


REID: Here it is.

I hold in my hand the breaking news tonight that has really changed the world, has definitely changed the news cycle. "Prosecutors in Trump criminal probe convenes grand jury to hear evidence and weigh potential charges. Manhattan`s district attorney has convened the grand jury that is expected to decide whether to indict the former President of the United States Donald Trump, the executives at his company, or the business itself, should prosecutors find crimes and find criminal charges."

Joining me now is California Congresswoman Karen Bass, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee.

I want to first just get your reaction to this news. No former president has ever faced this kind of legal scrutiny.

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Well, I have to tell you that I was surprised, but I most certainly wasn`t shocked.

I mean, I think that there was so much that went on in those four years that this is probably the beginning. I mean, I also wonder about all of the corruption from so many people associated with the president, the president`s Cabinet, for example.

And so definitely not a shock, but surprised. This would be historic.

REID: And I think about the body that you are serving in.

The minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives is completely beholden to this man, who now faces potential charges in Georgia over interference with the election, potential huge debt -- debt entitlements, sort of debts that he has to somehow deal with, other potential lawsuits, lawsuits over sexual harassment and even one over assault.

With all of that raining down on the former president, can you understand why Kevin McCarthy continues to essentially act as if he is this man`s employee? And do you think that will continue with this news?

BASS: Well, I mean, I think that the party has been completely taken over.

And I know that a lot of people had hoped that, once Trump had left Washington, that maybe they would get their party back. Clearly, that is not the case. And so there`s only a couple of directions to go here.

Either the party is reformed or a new party is created. And so we will see. But the impact, as long as you have a network that continues to be the mouthpiece, that continues to spread just tremendous lies about everything under the sun, I mean, people still believing that the election was stolen, people still trying to investigate the election, so with all of that going on, it doesn`t surprise me.

But, Joy, one thing that`s different now since January 6, my Republican colleagues who know better, but they are still beholden because they are afraid, in the past, they were afraid of a primary opponent. Now they`re afraid for their safety. And that`s a profound change.

That`s very frightening.

REID: And I do wonder about that, and whether or not there are increasing concerns, as more pressure builds on the former president, whether that changes the safety and security situation that you feel, Congresswoman.

BASS: Right. Well, I mean, absolutely.

We know that, until a serious investigation of January 6 takes place, and we get to the bottom of it, how it was organized, who was involved -- I mean, what it has exposed is, the right-wing element in our country is an absolute threat to this country.

We know that the domestic terrorism that has taken place over the last few years, we know who has been responsible for it. And so the idea that all of these forces coalesced on January 6, the damage that was done to our democracy over the last four years is profound.

And the entire world has watched us. And so I think it`s critical that we have a commission, and it`s critical that the grand jury go forward. And all these investigations need to take place.

REID: And, Congresswoman, how ironic. You are the principal negotiator within the House caucus for the criminal justice reform measure that we invited you on this evening to talk about initially.

I wonder how this kind of news, which is in the criminal justice forum, ironically -- does that impact your negotiations? Are you negotiating with people who feel confident that they can take a step away from a potentially criminal former president in order to negotiate in good faith with you on a -- on the George Floyd bill?

BASS: I don`t have any doubt that the people that we are working with are working in good faith. And that is primarily Tim Scott on the Republican side. Of course, it`s Senator Booker, but we were talking about Republicans.

And I really don`t have any doubt that he is negotiating in good faith. I know that this is an issue that is personal to him, that is important to him. And I do believe that, us working together, we will be able to reach a bipartisan deal.

I wished it would have been today. But it`s not. But what`s more important is that we have a substantive piece of legislation.

REID: Yes. And I know you spoke with the family.

Very quickly, is there anything that they told you that you would want to share with us this evening?

BASS: Well, they just encouraged us to continue.

And I just really appreciated that they do have faith in us, and that they were not disappointed that we didn`t produce a bill today, and that they agree what`s most important is the substance, not the date.

REID: Absolutely.

Congresswoman Karen Bass, so, thank you so much for your flexibility this evening and for joining us.

Our breaking news coverage does continue after this.

Plus: Marjorie Taylor Greene`s unhinged ranting, well, it continued today, comparing COVID rules to the Holocaust. And Kevin McCarthy is totally not convincing as he pretends to be outraged. And, as usual, there won`t be any repercussions, because she is now running the show.

Stay with us.


REID: So much to get to tonight with the breaking news out of New York about the potential indictments of Donald Trump and his company. Potential, I make sure that we emphasize that. But also, more that`s going on within the Republican Party.

And joining me to talk about it all is Tim Miller, writer at large for "The Bulwark", one of our favorite guests and friends.

Thank you very much for being here, Tim.

I want to start with the indictment piece because here is -- this is the question that I just asked to Congresswoman Karen Bass. You know, an un- indicted Trump, a Trump that is free and clear to blog away at home is one thing. But a Trump under pressure, I wonder what that does and how that signals into the Republican Party as it stands now.

TIM MILLER, WRITER-AT-LARGE, THE BULWARK: You know, that`s a good question, Joy, and thanks for having me.

Look, I think that Donald Trump obviously is just his natural state is unhinged, right? So, the idea you can say he will be even more Donald Trump even than before, seems kind of silly. A man whose back is against the wall, he sees his indictments, maybe he looks at 2024 differently. You know, maybe he uses it to continue to foment anger and violence against established institutions against the legal institutions we have seen in many other cases.

So, I think it`s hard to predict what is going to happen from here. I think one thing that we know for sure is anybody hoping against hope that this means he`s just going to be quiet and go away and the Republicans will move on from him, that`s probably not going to happen. I think what is going to happen is he`s going to lead him down, and, you know, down another plank, where they`re going to have to defend him as he, you know, he pulls all the stops to push back against this. What we know is at least a grand jury convening against his business.

REID: Yeah. I mean, what seems to me as just said, is the most likely outcome is now he demands the party that he now owns and controls convene all of its resources toward protecting him from the potential legal harm that`s facing him in New York and that includes Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida. Every one needs to get on board.

And speaking of that, if Donald Trump runs the party, then I guess you could say sort of his chief enforcer at this point is Marjorie Taylor Greene who I would argue is far more powerful than Kevin McCarthy, far more important to the base than Kevin McCarthy. Nobody cares about Kevin McCarthy.

She`s still out there tripling down on the idea that mask wearing, required mask wearing on the House floor is equal to the Holocaust. She did three more tweets on that today. Kevin put out a very weak statement saying this is wrong. Not nice to say.

It doesn`t strike me that that`s going to do anything to hold her back now that he has an orange man to defend from legal consequences in New York. Your thoughts?

MILLER: Look, I think that`s exactly right. Look, consider what Donald Trump is going to be able to do with the grassroots fund raising. Joy, if these indictments do come down, that`s going to mean more and more money into Donald Trump`s existing organizations. That`s one thing.

We saw evidence of that how well Marjorie Taylor Greene did fundraising in first quarter, after all her other insane comments. We don`t need to go through her racist and bigoted comments. She tweeted out today, the least, tweeted somebody else calling Kevin McCarthy a feckless, I don`t want to go with the actual word was after that, I can`t say it on cable. But it was pretty bad.

And here`s the thing, if you ask the Republican base, are you with Marjorie Taylor Greene calling Kevin McCarthy feckless or are you with Kevin McCarthy likely condemning Marjorie Taylor Greene. She`s winning 60-40, 70- 30, you know, in these head-to-heads in Republican polls right now.

And so, that is where the energy is, that will be defending her and defending Trump. And so, that kind of over hangs the decisions that all these other politicians have to make.

REID: First, they`d have to look up feckless. But we`ll move on from there.

Tim Miller -- that was me. Don`t tweet at Tim, tweet at me. Thank you very much, Tim. Really appreciate you being here.

All right. Well, coming up, it`s been one year since George Floyd was killed by a former Minneapolis police officer. Senator Cory Booker joins me next to discuss what the legislation that bears Floyd`s name is up against.

Stay with us.


REID: It has been a full year since George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin as three other officers looked on. While Chauvin pressed his knee and his body weight into George Floyd`s neck. It was a nine-minute 29-second murder that world watched in all its stunning brutality, thanks to the perseverance of a 17-year-old girl who stood with other members of her community to bear witness.

This anniversary is a marker of America`s recurring nightmare. Not just for George Floyd`s family, but for the families of the hundreds of black and brown men and women who have been killed by police since, and the innameable number who were cut down before George Floyd lost his life over an allegedly counterfeit $20 bill.

Today also marks the deadline that President Biden set for a police reform bill to pass, which didn`t happen. George Floyd`s family marked the day by meeting with Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. They also met with President Biden where they raised their fists in solidarity in front of the White House. Floyd`s family members said the president expressed disappointment that Congress missed the deadline, but stressed he wanted to pass a big with substance instead of signing a bill without meaning.

Here is Mr. Floyd`s brother Philonise after that meeting.


PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD`S BROTHER: We just want this George Floyd Policing Act to be passed in the future. Here`s the thing. If you can make federal laws to protect the bird which is the bald eagle, you can make federal laws to protect people of color.


REID: Moments ago, Vice President Harris told reporters what it was like meeting with the family today.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I commend them. I am in awe of their courage, their continuing courage. Their selflessness, I mean, truly selfness in the way they approached this, and George Floyd should be alive today. No question about that.


REID: And joining me now is Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey who met with the Floyd family as well this evening.

Senator, thank you so much for rolling with us and sticking with us throughout all the breaking news being here this evening.

I want to play a bit of our reporter Shaq Brewster`s interview with George Floyd`s sister Bridget. Just a little bit of it.


BRIDGET FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD`S SISTER: I thought George`s death was going to be the last death at the hands of policemen. But as we have all seen, the names have been added on and on and on. I don`t think that we have really seen a change, a change that we want. So I`m going to keep on fighting this good fight, and keep getting up, putting my boots on and hitting the road.


REID: You know, Senator, specifically, 229 black Americans have been killed since George Floyd`s death. How likely is it that we`re actually going to get a bill, a substantive bill?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: So, I think it`s more likely than not. We made a lot of progress.

Let me just say, this family, they remind me of the same spirit that Mamie Till had when Emmitt Till was murdered. They`ve been at it. They turned their lives from this tragedy, they made it a real purpose for them, and their presence here today even helped in the conversations.

When I went back to the Senate floor to vote, I had a conversation with my Republican colleagues, and met with -- met with the family.

And so, I`m grateful for them. They are in pain and hurt, but they want to stop an American trend that you and I both know have its roots in our founding, and I`m encouraged by the progress we made. This is a bill that will not solve every problem in policing, but I think we can get something really meaningful and substantive done that will save black lives.

REID: And there is a big fight, at least publicly what we heard is that qualified immunity has become an issue. Qualified immunity protection is not in Tim Scott`s version that he tried to put forward, for the JUSTICE Act. It is in the current bill. There`s been a lot of rigmarole (ph) for whether or not it will remain.

Do you think that a bill that comes, a final bill, will include qualified immunity -- changes to qualified immunity?

BOOKER: I know you`ve been through this on your show. Let me just tell everybody one more time, this is the idea in America that if somebody violates your constitutional rights, your civil rights, that there should be a consequence for that. And the challenge we have right now is that when police officers do that, they get a shield, in civil cases, against that accountability.

So I feel strongly that we should not live in a country where someone is effectively above the law, where they can violate some of the sacrosanct principles and have no consequence. So that is one of the things that is still on the table that we`re working on, and again, I`m going to push this bill as far as we can. I talk to the family about seeing if the winds that we are adding up in this bill make it worth it for us as a society.

But I think have to say that there`s a lot of people involved in it, that feel the weight in this moment of American history. And I have conversations with police leadership that wouldn`t have been possible I think before the horrible murder of George Floyd, that we are seeing senators get onto the bill with George Floyd`s name on it, that may not have gotten on before this horrific act.

So, we are making progress. There is nothing certain. I think it`s more likely than not we get something done. But we`re still talking weeks, and not days.

REID: And, you know, you mentioned the Republicans maybe getting on the bill, April Ryan did a piece in "TheGrio" where she talked to, you know, folks on the Hill, and one of the sticking points with Republicans is they want police buy-in before many of them are willing to get in support of the bill.

But you think about the way that police operate. They are eating up 44 percent, Oakland, California, of the budgets of these cities. They have tremendous power. They are gobbling up in some cases for, you know, 40 cents out of every, you know, dollar.

And on top of that, the rates of actually solving crimes -- the amount of time that police are spending actually solving murders and manslaughters, what people think police do, it`s actually pretty low, right? You don`t have a high rate of crimes getting solved. It`s just a lot more time spending doing broken windows policing.

Are you going to be able to get to a place of agreement with Republicans who are so beholden to police unions?

BOOKER: Well, again, I`m working principally with Tim Scott and a handful of others. I have had moments in this negotiation that have given me solace and strength as I watch Tim Scott share stories about his own encounters with police even as a United States senator. He is not caving to the politics of this. He is sincere.

We may have disagreements on a lot of the parts of the bill, but I`m telling you, as a black man, Tim Scott is sincere in wanting to see us address these problems. And we are thinking creatively how to deal with that very graphic you put up.

So, for example, in Oregon, there`s a program called CAHOOTS where responders for mental health -- remember, blacks are more than twice as likely to be killed by police as whites, if you`re mentally ill in America, you`re more than ten times more likely to be killed by the police.

And so, looking at models where people have alternative responders for mental health crisis, CAHOOTS has been able to lower the police calls 17 percent, freeing resources for other priorities that community might have, or for police to be spending more time dealing with the serious crimes that even the black community, when I became mayor of Newark, we had clearance rates that were just unacceptable and needed to be risen.

So this is two people who -- this is the first time in American history you had three black men serving at the same time in the United States Senate. And we are thinking creatively about this with other leaders like Karen Bass and more about how to get some of the problems that -- we all know that we should not live in a society with this many unarmed people being murdered by the police.

But even more than that, where we don`t have the levels of transparency and accountability to prevent these violent crimes from happening as well. And there are a lot of good --

REID: And very quickly, but does Tim Scott have the ability to deliver votes? I mean, we don`t doubt his sincerity. But his party has veered off so far off the rails to the right. How much influence does he have over them at this point?

BOOKER: So, I just want to say, I`ve had -- and, Joy, you`re a friend of mine and I`m a fan of your show. I had to go in with good faith as well. And that means not painting police with a broad brush, not painting all Republicans with a broad brush, but talking heart to heart often, as well as policy on what our shared values are and how we`re going to get this done.

And so, I`ve (AUDIO GAP) Tim come to me and answer my questions about --

REID: Yeah.

BOOKER: -- the support he has (AUDIO GAP) Mitch McConnell, to Lindsey Graham,

REID: Yeah.

BOOKER: And again, I`m putting my faith. This is a moment we rise to the call of history.

REID: We hope that you succeed. Senator Cory Booker, thank you so much. Really appreciate your time tonight.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.