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Transcript: The ReidOut, 5/6/21

Guests: Eugene Robinson, Philip Bump, Renee Montgomery, Lorenzo Sierra, Charlie Crist


Support for Trump`s big lie becomes GOP litmus test. GOP Representative Jordan says Cheney`s sin was she continued to speak for herself. Representative Stefanik was moderate Republican before hitching her wagon to Trump. Florida Republicans have a history of ginning up laws to suppress black and brown voters.



ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And we want to share how one leader is reaching out to people even all across the spectrum.

That does it for us. I`ll be back tomorrow at 6:00 Eastern. You can always find me online @arimelber on social media. And THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with a wellness check on the Republican Party. They`re exiling one of their leaders because she refuses to go along with a deranged lie about the election being stolen from Donald Trump, while applauding the woman likely to replace her for perpetuating the big lie, and the state party in Arizona is openly mocking the democratic process by attempting to prove that lie in the most bizarre and dangerous way possible.

And let`s be clear, this is not a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. That`s over. But what we`re seeing now is what total surrender to Trump looks like. And even though he`s twice impeached and gone, retired, disgraced, facing legal and financial trouble, blocked from social media and playing professional wedding crasher at Mar-a-Lago, the great purge is on.

Congresswoman Liz Cheney is on the verge of being booted from her house leadership position and the GOP`s heir apparent openly campaigning to replace her. That would be Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who represents a wealthy SCons (ph) in Upstate, New York, a Harvard degree-holding former moderate who`s belated but total embrace of Trump has propelled her to the front of the line.

Her only apparent qualification is her willingness to repeat the big lie over and over and over again, even after the Capitol siege on January 6th. Now, naturally, she was among the 139 House Republicans who tried to invalidate the results of a democratic election.

Now, Stefanik says she supports the sham Republican audit of the vote in Maricopa County, Arizona, which is being conducted by a private firm that is literally called the Cyber Ninjas with the help of a January 6th insurrectionist to boot.

In doing so, Stefanik is also checking another MAGA world box, seeking the blessing of outright fascism curios Trump pardon recipient Steve Bannon, formerly of, who was accused literally of scamming Trump supporters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are your thoughts about what`s going on in Arizona?

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): I fully support the audit in Arizona. We want transparency and answers for the American people. What are the Democrats so afraid of? We need to fix these election security issues going into the future.

This is also about being one team. And I`m committed to being a voice and being a clear -- sending a clear message that we are one team, and that means working with the president and working with all of our excellent Republican members of Congress.


REID: OK, you got it? The goal of Republican politics right now is not to express your principles, no matter how far-right or left or whatever your principles may swing. Even if you voted along with just about every rotten thing that Trump did during his term, which Liz Cheney did, that doesn`t matter now.

All that matters is that you be a, quote, team player on the team of someone who isn`t even president anymore. Just shut up, tuck your dignity away and say what he wants to say, make him happy under his eye. Congressman Jim Jordan put it this way last night.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Yes, she definitely needs to go, and the speaker is right. We are a pro-America populist party rooted in conservative principle with Donald Trump as our leader.

You can`t be the conference chair when you consistently speak out against the leader of our party, but she continues to speak for herself and not for the conference, not for the Republican Party.


REID: speaking for herself, got it, imagine. Jordan also said House Republicans already have enough votes to oust Cheney, which could happen as early as next week, and seen.

While Stefanik has received Trump`s blessing who she actually is or was is instructive about the whole party. She was considered a moderate, norm core Republican who only reluctantly supported Trump after initially backing John Kasich in 2016. Kasich, of course, went on to support Joe Biden four years later. She only emerged as a rising GOP star thanks to her outspoken defense of the dear leader during his first impeachment, even getting special recognition during Trump`s post acquittal victory lap. In other words, she played the game.

When it comes to actual policy though, she`s actually been more out of sync with Trump and Cheney, according to a voting record. And on the right-wing heritage foundation scorecard, which ranks lawmakers according to how conservative they are, Stafanik ranks way below Cheney. But, oh, well, it doesn`t matter to these beltway Republicans who are eagerly puckering up and kissing the king on Trump`s tiny hands for one reason and one reason only, to take back power in Washington.

Joining me now is Washington Post Columnist Eugene Robinson and former RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

I mean, Michael, this is a dance we`ve seen other people do. But a little bit about Ms. Stefanik. She`s all for the big lie. She claimed 140,000 unauthorized voters voted in Georgia. That`s just bullshit that she`s made it up. Sorry for my language because she made it up. Claimed the Georgia`s secretary of state gutted signature matching. Said all of these things, 126 House Republicans voted to, you know, throw out Pennsylvania`s election. She voted for that vaguely suggested there were irregularities related to Dominion. She might not say that too much because Dominion (INAUDIBLE), endorsed baseless concerns about voting irregularities.

But before she was this what we see on the screen, Stefanik was Paul Ryan`s 2012 Vice Presidential Campaign Chair. She was a staffer for George W. Bush`s Chief of Staff. She -- Mitt Romney endorsed her in 2014. She endorsed John Kasich, as I mentioned earlier. And just a little earlier Tim Miller was on Nicolle`s show and it blew my mind, saying she was on -- she helped him with the autopsy in 2012. She was on the team that did that. She`s obviously very, very ambitious.

But Roll Call wrote this about her. She`s more of a liberal than 98 percent of her party while Cheney ranks right in the middle. 538 is Biden voting score shows Stefanik voting with the Democratic president, voting with Joe Biden 18.8 percent of the time. Only 20 other Republicans are more Biden-y than Stefanik. So, she is playing -- she is as much defrauding Republican Trumpy voters as Bannon was accused of, right?

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. So, the question is -- the question is was she full of crap then when she was hanging out in Bush world and Romney world, or is she full of crap now? I don`t know. So, either way, crap is crap. And it is the best reflection of where the GOP is right now, as they are about to knock out a principled woman for crap.

And I think we need to be honest about what it is. Donald Trump brought the gold toilet into the RNC, into the party, and everyone thinks it`s a pool, and they`re just diving in. They`re just diving in.

REID: But, I mean, Eugene, they`re diving in, and the poop toilet is full. It`s not like they`re diving in it, it`s empty. It`s full.

STEELE: And there ain`t a plunger around.

REID: No plunger.

EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes. OK. So, I`m going to switch metaphors, OK?

REID: Please do. Save us from ourselves.

ROBINSON: Because I don`t know where we go if we take it any further. I will say that the one bedrock principle of the Republican Party today is the big lie. It`s the big lie about the election. It`s the only thing Republicans agree on, because they must agree on it in order to remain in the Republican Party or remain, you know, viable and relevant in the Republican Party.

This party has gone off the rails. Yes, it`s gone into the toilet, wherever you say it`s gone. It`s gone. And no one should be optimistic about this party in the foreseeable future, because I think this is where it`s stuck.

REID: I don`t see -- I don`t see any lies there. I wanted to show you all, both of you gentlemen, this is -- we used to think of the Republican Party as being this sort of the pro law and order, pro police party. And they still talk a lot of blue lives matter stuff. But when it comes right down to it, an actual police officer from the metro police named Mike Fanone, who did this incredible searing interview with our friend Don Lemon, He wrote a letter to all of Congress. I`ll read a little bit of it.

I struggle daily, Officer Fanone wrote, with the emotional anxiety of having survived such a traumatic event. He talks about hand-to-hand combat. But he also struggles with the anxiety of hearing those who continue to downplay the events of that day and those who would ignore them altogether with their lack of acknowledgement. The indifference shown to my colleagues and I is disgraceful. The time to fully recognize these officers` actions is now.

Michael Steele, there isn`t a principle to be seen here. The only principle -- I guess what they`re saying, and you can tell me whether this is GOTV, is it the big lie is the way to get our voters to come out and vote. So therefore, we`re all going to pretend that Donald Trump is still mystically still president and Joe Biden is a hologram. And we`re going to say whatever we have to say because that`s the only way to get them to vote. And things like caring about this police officer, is it that or is it fear that if they really do what Liz Cheney is saying and really have a commission on this with subpoena power, Kevin McCarthy would get subpoenaed, a lot of them will get subpoena.

STEELE: Kevin McCarthy would get, yes. Kevin would get subpoenaed, Cruz would get subpoenaed, Josh Hawley, damn sure, should be subpoenaed if nobody else is. So, the reality is that the reality is also, yes, it churns the base such that there is a base. And more importantly, it`s the grift.

The cash that`s raised off of this big lie is unbelievable. Check the FEC reports of all 149 members who voted to overturn this election. Definitely check Stefanik`s FEC report. Hawley is out there bragging. I`m just raising money hand over fist. So this is what the party has been relegated to is the quick cash --

REID: Yes.

STEELE: -- the lie, the big lie, and burn the Constitution, the concept of democracy in the process.

Liz Cheney will be the latest victim on that pyre, and that`s unfortunate and says volumes about what this party has sunk into.

REID: Yes, I mean, Cheney -- Stefanik represents the Adirondacks. I mean, she could get redistricted to that, and she`s claiming she may want to run for governor.

This is the biggest --

STEELE: Oh, please do.

REID: Oh she`s -- right. And then she`ll get a show on Newsmax or whatever. But you know, Eugene, the thing that scares a lot of Democrats is that despite how ludicrous and freakish the Republican Party has become, because of gerrymandering and because of the census and the way it turned out and people not turning it in, et cetera, this actually could work, right?

ROBINSON: Oh, absolutely.

REID: They could acquire power without having done anything other than behave as a freakish rump of what a party is supposed to look like, and then what?

ROBINSON: And then what? And I hope we don`t find out, but we may find out. I mean, you add gerrymandering and whatever new gerrymandering is done, because of the census not that there isn`t already a what, in favor of the Republican. But you also add history. Add the fact that in the first midterm election after a new president, the other party generally picks up seats in Congress.

Now, you know, there are historical exceptions to that. George Bush after 9/11 in his first midterm, he -- the Republican Party gained seats. And Joe Biden and the Democrats have to try to make this, you know, the post- pandemic midterm like the post-9/11 midterm and try to gain seats. And they`re fighting history.

This is serious, because, as you said, then what, then what if this, this Republican Party, the shell of a party actually -- actually obtains any measure of power right now. It would be awful for the country, just objectively awful for the country.

REID: It`s hard for me to imagine what that even looks like, Michael, but can you discern as a Republican, what is it that they would want to do if they got power? Because all they seem to want to do right now is fall on their knees and worship Donald Trump. So, let`s say they get power. Then, yes, what? What do you think -- what is it that they want to do? What are they going to do to us?

STEELE: Light it up as much as possible. You know, most people say it, light it up. No, they just light it up as much as possible. I mean --

REID: Basically, hold power essentially just lock people of color out of being able to vote.

STEELE: Hold power. I mean, I think you got a sense and a glimpse of it during the four years of Donald Trump of what an extended, unchecked, unfettered power base would look like in this iteration of the party, you, the three of us, persona definitely non grata.

Look, all I`d have to say is just a quick tip on that, Tucker, if you`re going to go for the queen bee, baby, you better make it count.

REID: Don`t bring Tuckums up. Leave Tuckums alone.

STEELE: Leave Tuckums.

REID: Let him live.

STEELE: But no, it`s going to be -- it`s an absolute power grab right now. Because here`s why you know that. What are the governing ideas they put out? What`s your policy prescription for --

REID: None, voter suppression.

STEELE: -- for infrastructure, for health care, for the economy?

REID: None.

STEELE: OK, you raise -- you cut taxes, but, you know, what do you do about those people who didn`t get the full benefit of that?

REID: Nothing.

STEELE: So, there are a lot of pieces here that go to governing that the party has given up on. what did Mitch McConnell just say? What did he just say? Our goal is to stop everything Donald -- I mean, Joe Biden is doing.

ROBINSON: Joe Biden.

REID: Yes.

STEELE: And figured that out. Can you put something on the table that you want to do?

REID: Somebody call Joe Manchin, because, literally, it`s shots and checks on the one side and just a freak show on the other side. I don`t know what else it`s going to be. Eugene Robinson, Michael Steele, you guys are great, thank you guys very much.

Still ahead on THE REIDOUT concern about lax security is just one of many reasons the Justice Department is now taking a closer look at that bizarre vote pretend recount that`s taking place in Arizona.

Plus, Renee Montgomery will be here to tell us how she feels -- to how it feels to make history as the Atlanta dream`s co-owner and vice president.

And a certain southern state Republican governor just offers himself up on a silver platter as tonight absolute worst by gleefully stripping residents of voting rights on live T.V.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: Donald Trump is no longer president, but the clownish reality show of his presidency isn`t over. Take, for example, the sham audit, quote/unquote, in Arizona where Republicans have handed millions of ballots over to the Cyber Ninjas, a sketchy sounding firm led by a Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist and where a forensic analysis about is under way to determine if the paper contains traces of bamboo.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s accusations that 40,000 ballots were flown in --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To Arizona, and it was stuffed into the box, OK?

And it came from the Southeast part of the world, Asia, OK? And what they`re doing is to find out if there`s bamboo in the paper.


REID: That`s right.

Fake auditors, led by the Cyber Ninjas, are looking for bamboo fibers based off of lies that 40,000 ballots from Asia were smuggled into Maricopa County to tip the state to Biden, because, of course, anything involving Asia must be laced with bamboo.

No, this isn`t the MAGA remake of the "Forensic Files." This is, unfortunately, real life. The ongoing charade reveals deeply disturbing patterns that could pave the way for Republicans to contest any fair and honest election that they don`t win, meaning a major political party in the U.S. can now question, probe and bamboo-search your vote if it doesn`t go their way.

That doesn`t sound like democracy to me, or to the Department of Justice, who sent a letter to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, expressing concern over ballot security, because federal law requires ballots to remain in the control of elections officials for 22 months.

The Justice Department also fears that contractors plan -- or fears that contractors` plans to contact voters could amount to voter intimidation, which is illegal under federal law.

Joining me now is Arizona state Representative Lorenzo Sierra and Philip Bump, national correspondent for "The Washington Post."

I do want to go to you first, Philip, and I -- with apologies to the state representative, because you wrote a story about this bamboo search thing, which is just so bizarre, that it doesn`t read like it`s real, but, apparently, it`s real.

Apparently, the person -- and I don`t know if it was the same person we just saw on the clip -- who spoke about this searching for bamboo, admits he doesn`t even believe it, right?

PHILIP BUMP, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, that`s exactly right. Yes.

So he was speaking to a reporter -- oh, I`m sorry. Yes, go ahead. He does not -- he says he does not believe it.

REID: And so why are they doing?

BUMP: Well, I mean, that sort of gets to the heart of the question, right?

I mean, this is a result which has already been audited by the state. It`s important to note that the Maricopa County results were already audited by the state. They were found to be fine. There`s no evidence at all that anything untoward happened.

And so all of this is an effort to try and construct evidence out of thin air to suggest that something bad had happened. And so this is just the weirdest subset of that plot, right? It is this weird attempt. There`s this bizarre theory that goes back to this Korea Air flight having flown in ballots. There`s literally no evidence for it.

But now they`re using this theoretical process to try and detect bamboo. I spoke with a forensic document examiner in Alabama, who is clearly sympathetic to the idea that vote fraud might occur, but who was very much like, yes, that`s -- you can`t tell bamboo just by taking a picture of a piece of paper.

You have got to like poke holes into all these various things. So not only is there no evidence for undergoing this examination. They`re not even doing it right. So there`s no reason to think that anything about this is straightforward or in good faith.

REID: It`s -- you`re tempted to laugh at it, Representative Sierra, but it`s deadly serious, in the sense that this is an admission that one of our two political parties does not accept that their voters are ever allowed to lose, that they must win, and they will just keep counting until they win.

That is not democracy. But I want to ask you about this other apparent part of their plan. I don`t know if it`s the Cyber Ninjas themselves or who, are planning to go door to door, and presumably in communities of color.

That sounds like voter intimidation, to knock on people`s door and demand to know about their votes. Can you tell us a little bit about that? And is there any way to stop that?

STATE REP. LORENZO SIERRA (D-AZ): So, I don`t know if there`s any way to stop that. And I hope it doesn`t happen.

But, Joy, do you want to hear the great irony about all of this...

REID: Yes.

SIERRA: ... is that, last year, the first bill that the governor signed into law was Senate Bill 1135. And guess what Senate Bill 1135 did?

That was a bill that gave us our rules by which we would electronically count our votes. And guess what happened with that vote? The same Senate that said that we need to audit these votes is the same Senate that voted unanimously to approve the way we were going to count our votes.

So, if we need to count -- if we need to audit something, let`s audit why they approved this in the first place. This is a sham. I will not put up for people coming and intimidating people in my community.

If they`re going to do that, they`re not going to be met with open doors. And I can tell you, Joy, I walk these streets all the time. People welcome me with food, with water. They`re going to get slammed doors in their face. I can tell you that right now.

REID: Well, and the fear, of course, Philip, this is -- this is from the "Arizona Republic" story.

Cyber Ninjas, the Senate`s main contractor, said in its work plan to the Senate that it would be reaching out to voters through a combination of phone calls and physical canvassing to collect information of whether the individual voted in the election. This raises concerns, obviously, of voter intimidation, which is illegal under federal law.

And that was part of what was in this letter from the Department of Justice. The fear here is that, if you start knocking on people`s doors, and going, did you vote in the last election, what`s to stop you from saying, well, would you vote for or creating some other forms of intimidation that, the next time people go to vote, particularly in these communities of color, you wonder if that harassment is going to happen every time.

It is intimidating, and it can reduce people`s turnout. This strikes me as so broadly illegal, as -- including having a private firm hold onto ballots. It`s shocking to me that this is not entirely illegal.

BUMP: Yes.

I mean, the question about the maintenance of the ballots is a very serious one. I mean, there are federal statutes which say that they have to be kept in the control of the state over a certain period of time.

By -- that`s something that the Justice Department actually oversees. And I think one of the other issues with this idea of doing sort of spot checks to see if people voted is, all you`re going to do is, you`re going to end up with these scenarios in which they try to call someone, and that person`s not home. And they say, well, let`s put that in the maybe pile, right?

I mean, they`re just -- all they`re doing is, they`re trying to generate these ways in which they can raise questions about what happened. I mean, remember, Joe Biden only won the state by something like 10,000 votes, 40,000 of them being in Maricopa County.

If you can draw enough questions around 41,000 votes, then you`re going to get exactly what former President Trump said last week, which was that Arizona was going to be the first state to prove him right, right? Of course, that`s not actually what`s happening. They`re just constructing this evidence out of thin air.

But this is just another methodology they`re using to do that.

REID: Right, because -- and then what, right?

BUMP: Right.

REID: We`re now hearing -- this is Arizona, state Senator.

Katie Hobbs wrote a letter talking about the fact that some of these laptop computers with people`s data on them are being left unattended.

They`re sitting abandoned at times, unlocked, unmonitored. They`re not even trying to keep the ballots secure. And so, if they -- if the ballots are sort of up in the air, and we don`t know if they`re going home with the Cyber Ninjas, they -- to Philip`s point, they can do any count they want and say, this is the result. And then what?

What do they think is going to happen if they just suddenly, miraculously, Trump won Arizona by 300 bazillion votes, he won all the votes, 99 percent of them, like Saddam Hussein?

SIERRA: Joy, what they`re trying -- they have the result. They know the results they want.

Now, are they going to get them? No. What they`re doing is probably trying to make themselves look busy, so that it looks like they did something to get to the outcomes that they wanted in the first place.

But, despite all these Republican talking points about protecting democracy, Joy, this is doing nothing but destroying democracy. And we really have to be very wary about this, because it`s happening here in Arizona right now.

Guess what, Michigan? It`s coming to you next, Florida. It is going to come to any place where they didn`t like the way the vote turned out. But when you think about what happened with these 40,000 supposed ballots dropped off from Asia or wherever they`re saying is, do you understand?

If you are going to come up with some cockamamie plan, there are thousands upon thousands of variations of ballots in Arizona in Maricopa County based on jurisdiction. So, it`s not just that they`re going to make a ballot that says the presidential race and the U.S. Senate race.

You have got J.P. -- justice..


REID: All the other people are on it too.


REID: Absolutely.

Before I let you go, very quickly, have your senators weighed in on whether or not they`re going to support S.1 to stop this kind of thing from happening in the future? Because you would think that they would both want to support that bill.

SIERRA: We have reached out to them, as the Democratic Caucus in the House and in the Senate. We have written a letter to them, asking them to do so.

REID: All right, well, we will see what happens with that.

Arizona state Representative Lorenzo Sierra and Philip Bump, thank you both.

Up next, Renee Montgomery is here. And we`re going to talk about her new roles within the Atlanta Dream and her ongoing social and racial justice activism. I am so excited to talk with her.

Stay right there.


REID: This past year saw millions of Americans make their voices heard in the fight for social justice and to end police brutality toward black and brown people.

Joining those ranks was the two-time WNBA champion Renee Montgomery, who announced last year she was sitting out the Atlanta Dream season to focus on social activism.

She took part in protests over the killing of Rayshard Brooks, who was shot in a Wendy`s parking lot in -- by an Atlanta police officer. It happened just two-and-a-half weeks after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis.

And now that officer, Garrett Rolfe, or perhaps Rolfe, who initially fired -- who was initially fired following the incident has been reinstated. A city review board said he was not afforded his right to due process.

Rolfe is still awaiting trial for 11 criminal charges, including felony murder. And I will note that Rayshard Brooks received no due process.

Joining me now is Renee Montgomery, who is a co-owner and vice president of the Atlanta Dream. She`s the first former player to become both an owner and an executive of a WNBA franchise.

So, congratulations on that.

But, before we talk about that just a little bit, we were looking up the timeline. I mean, you decided to sit out the season. It was only about a week after Rayshard Brooks was killed.


REID: So, I would love to get your assessment of Black Lives Matter as a movement and all that we have seen just in this year of these ongoing cases, and including the fact that Officer -- former officer Rolfe is now back on the force.

MONTGOMERY: Yes. No, Joy, thank you for having me back here.

It`s tough, because you talked about the timeline. And it was actually six days before I opted out. And when I was telling people there were a string of events that happened, that was the string of events. We`re sitting at home. We watched George Floyd get murdered in Minnesota. And then, here in Atlanta, where I`m living, we saw what happened with Rayshard Brooks.

You talked about. His due -- he didn`t get his due process. It`s a technicality. But, for me, it`s the father of four. He`s a father that`s not going to be able to go home to his family.

When we start talking about hashtags and names and due process, sometimes, we miss the human aspect of it all. And the human aspect, to me, was a man running away from the cops, and then that now won`t be able to go home.

And so that`s a tough pill to swallow, because knowing that he could still be alive, that`s the hardest thing. He`s a father of four.

REID: Yes.

And I was struck. The Dream really were a dream for social activism, I mean, the bravery of the players, who walked out there and said no to the former senator, kind of ran her out of town, really, and made it very clear that they were going to openly -- that you all were going to openly support her opponent in the Senate election, Reverend Raphael Warnock, and just make it clear that it was unacceptable to attack Black Lives Matter.

Talk a little bit about the risks athletes take on that level, and how you see that now, now that you`re in the ownership position. How are those risks -- how severe are those risks?

MONTGOMERY: They`re huge.

I mean, just think about our team and your -- and the bravery it took to wear those shirts. They stood together, and they knew that there`s strength in numbers. And then the whole sisterhood of the WNBA was standing behind like, yes, what`s up?

And that feels good, because you need that support when you`re doing something bold. And, as you see there, it was different -- it`s different teams, different people from all different walks of life coming together for a common cause.

When we talk about Black Lives Matter movement, it`s not just about black lives. It`s about social justice. It`s about equality. And so the pillars that the WNBA are going to stand on this year, women empowerment, health equality, LGBTQ rights. Like, we see a lot going on with that.

Those are the things we`re going to stand on. So, just because last year happened and the election is over, the work will still continue with myself and the Atlanta Dream and the WNBA.

REID: Yes.

And do you -- has the WNBA -- do you feel they have been sufficiently supportive of the activism taking place? Because that`s always a question, whether these leagues are fully supportive.

MONTGOMERY: Yes, and, I mean, that`s a valid question for a lot of leagues.

And a lot of leagues may not be able to stand behind their players and say that they`re doing that. And the players might not agree. But, with the WNBA, I mean, last year, everyone knows we had a "Say Her Name" campaign, where we said the name of police -- of victims of police violence. Every week, we talked about it. We brought attention to the names.

We hear a lot of men`s names, but we`re a women`s league. So we want to make sure that the women`s names are still getting said, Breonna Taylor. We want to make sure that those stories are heard, because, at the end of the day, for me, it`s always about humanity.

REID: Yes.

MONTGOMERY: And it`s about these are names that I want to say because these are families that are probably still grieving.

REID: Yes.

MONTGOMERY: As we move on and time moves on, we might forget about certain things and let it -- and let our lives take over, but families are still grieving the loss of members that were killed to police -- to police violence.

REID: To that point, what do you make of the Olympics barring Black Lives Matter activism there?


REID: I know that you were an aspiring Olympian.

MONTGOMERY: You know what? Yes.

No, it`s tough, because I know plenty of athletes that, right now, they write motivational things on their sneakers. They write their family`s names on their sneakers. I know, last season, Jamal Murray had Breonna Taylor`s face, George Floyd`s face on his sneakers.

So, to now -- that`s something that`s in players` normal rotation, their normal lifestyle. And so for the Olympics to basically take away their freedom of speech and their freedom to express themselves, I don`t think it`s fair. I think that athletes should -- whatever motivates you is for you.

REID: Yes.

MONTGOMERY: So, if my motivation comes from, look, I want to be the best I can be, so that I can represent America and show that America is going to be a different thing than what we`re used to, and writing BLM on my sneakers does that, well, why can`t I do that?

REID: Yes.

MONTGOMERY: That`s my motivation. That`s what I`m turning up for.

So, I don`t think that the Olympics should try to hinder people from speaking out. I mean, the Olympics is where we have seen a lot of different protests happening. We all know those different ones.

So, I don`t know if that`s going to make the athletes not do it. But, for me, I just don`t think you should put that on the athletes. I think that whatever`s for you is for you in the Olympics. May the best man win.

REID: Yes, absolutely.

My last question to you, because you are an inspiration, give us some motivation for those who want to be you. How does somebody get to do what you`re doing and get where you are?


REID: Because you have come a long way as a -- for such a young woman.

MONTGOMERY: Listen, be bold.

I sat here and talked to you, Joy, when I was a player opting out in June.

REID: Yes.

MONTGOMERY: And I had no idea what was going to happen.

And they say, you know, fortune favors the bold and it really is true because I just took a big leap but I stood on things that I believed in. So, I wasn`t really worried about the consequences because I know I was doing what I wanted to do and it was right for me, and what I felt was right.

So if you feel that speaking up is right, do it. If you feel like protesting is right, do it. If you want to come to me and Joy`s cookout, our family cookout when we have it, you better do it. Do whatever is -- listen, do whatever is passionate to you.

I think that the more people realize it`s not just about you, it`s about everyone else, we`re going to be better off. So your problem may not be someone else`s problem, but you should still care about their problem as much as you care about yours.

So I`m just going to ending this with saying his name, Rayshard Brooks, because no matter what happens with the case, he`s still, like I said, a father of four that we need to recognize.

REID: Yeah, and blessings to his family.

Renee Montgomery, you`re an inspiration. Thank you so much. And see you at the cookout. Thank you very much. Take care.

MONTGOMERY: See you at the cookout.

REID: See you at the cookout. All right, love it, love it.

All right. Well, on a whole different note, a certain governor`s decision to delay a special election to fill a late Congressman Alcee Hasting`s seat for more than nine months is bad. A certain governor`s recent move to crack down on protesters is worse. But a certain governor going live on Fox News to blissfully strip away voting rights is tonight`s absolute worst.

Stay right there.


REID: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis returned to his primordial state. The number supplicant and pretender to the MAGA throne of his state`s most orange and most infamous retiree.

This morning, he was back in Trump twinsy mode making voter suppression into a TV show on Fox News to sign Florida`s new draconian voting bill into law.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: So, right now, I have what we think is the strongest election integrity measures in the country. I`m actually going to sign it right here. It`s going to take effect.


DESANTIS: So, there you go. The bill is signed.


REID: Well, apparently that was the pilot for his spin-off of "The Apprentice" which no one would watch.

But anyway, the new law in Florida does all sorts of things to curtail voting rights. It imposes new ID requirements to vote absentee and requires voters to request mail-in ballots every election. It expands powers for partisan poll watchers and adds limits on ballot drop box locations and who could collect and drop off of voter`s ballot. It requires the drop boxes must be physically manned when opened, they can`t rely on video surveillance.

Signing this law alone was, of course, egregious but that wasn`t all that Ron DeSantis did with his low rent Trump show today. It`s not just that he went on Fox to do it, or that he was essentially holding a campaign rally to promote the orange man`s big lie. That cheering crowd behind him was from a Trump fan club.

Ron DeSantis also iced out reporters from other outlets, local Florida media. That`s right, he signed a law that says someone needs to watch you drop off a ballot but would only let certain people watch him do it.

An "Orlando Sun Sentinel" columnist tweeted that media were barred entry, told it was a Fox News exclusive. Of course, Ron DeSantis isn`t the first Republican governor to sign away voting rights of let`s face it, mostly black and brown people in front of his preferred audience or in secret.

Who could forget Georgia`s Republican Governor Brian Kemp putting his state on an express train back to the Jim Crow era by signing that state`s voter suppression law flanked by six other white guys behind closed doors and under a painting of a plantation while a black lawmaker was arrested on the other side of the door. No subtly there.

Now, for their part, Fox News went the Mariah Carey "I don`t know her" route, saying that comfy couch crowd never requested or mandated that the event be an exclusive. At another event later, DeSantis was asked why his favorite network was the only one allowed in.


REPORTER: Why did you only allow Fox News to capture the moment you signed the controversial election bill?

DESANTIS: So we did a wonderful bill signing for this great elections bill, and it was live on national television on "Fox & Friends." And we were happy to give them the exclusive on that. And I think -- I think it went really, really well.

But I think it was a really positive day. We got a lot of great feedback on it and we`re proud that we were able to do it on national television.


REID: Except that you did not get great feedback on this law, Ron. Literally minutes after it was signed, the League of Women Voters, Black Voters Matter and the Florida alliance for retired Americans filed a lawsuit challenging it.

But Ron DeSantis was proud to codify voter suppression into law on national television exclusively he says to a right-wing echo chamber. That is why tonight, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has earned the dishonor of being the absolute worst.


REID: Florida Republicans have a history of ginning up laws to suppress black and brown voters. Former high ranking public officials admitted to the "Palm Beach Post" in 2012 that an election law curtailing early voting hours was designed to beat back Democratic turnout after black voters turned out in record numbers in 2008 for Barack Obama. The outgoing governor at the time, Charlie Crist, disagreed with that effort.

But when Republican Rick Scott took over in January 2011, the Florida legislature passed the bill and Scott signed it into law. At that time, Republicans left absentee balloting untouched because that`s the preferred method for many of the state`s elderly white Republican voters.

Fast forward to today. They`re now targeting everything, including absentee voting since black voters used it widely during the pandemic, and we can`t have that.

Despite the fact many Republicans still used absentee voting in 2020, including the former president.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist, the aforementioned former governor who is running for governor again, this time as a Democrat.

And, you know, Governor Crist, you know, a lot of people remember the way you fell out with the Republican Party, having been a lifelong Republican and having a family that was a Republican family, was that your first offense was that you wouldn`t shut the lines down when people were voting in Democratic precincts in 2008. You allowed people who were still in line to vote.

And then your second offense was you admitted, look, there was pressure on you as governor to push through and sign really egregious voter suppression law. So my question is having been in that party and now being on the outside of it, do you feel that it is that the Republican Party is just anti-democracy or that they`re afraid that they can`t win over black and brown voters, so they`re just determined to suppress them?

REP. CHARLIE CRIST (D-FL): Joy, I think it`s both.

Thanks for having me on.

It is definitely anti-democracy, and it`s definitely a fear that they have of being able to get black and brown voters to vote for them. I mean, it`s -- there is systemic racism in our country. Ron DeSantis said the other day on Fox News that he thought that was horse manure. Nice choice of words.

But, you know, that`s how detached he is and unaware of what`s really going on in America. As you pointed out in an earlier piece, you talked about the fact that he signed this horrible bill, you know, to suppress the vote, to keep people from voting, anti-democracy at its worst, and he did so virtually in secret except for one audience and one audience only.

This is a guy who is clearly running for president, wants to be the Republican nominee in 2024 and he appealed to that audience exclusively this morning. This is so nontransparent what he does. They won`t give up public records. They won`t tell us about all the vaccines that have been used. There`s no transparency, no sunshine laws being respected by a governor who happens to be an attorney.

And I think he went to a pretty good school, Harvard or Yale or both. But what`s important is --

REID: Yeah.

CRIST: -- and this is an important point. I`m running for governor on a positive message, that we have a Florida that is for all, all people, no matter where you`re from, no matter what the color of your skin, no matter what your sexual persuasion, no matter what your religion.

Florida is a beautiful place. You`re a Floridian, joy, so you know this as well as I do. And Floridians deserve better.

What we`re getting now is sort of a one-trick pony that only talks about the far right, only appeals to the far right, and Florida is diverse. It`s diverse as any state in our country.

That`s why I`m running for governor, to have a Florida that truly is for all our people, that will accept Medicaid, make sure we have Medicaid expansion. As a result of the governor and the legislature not doing that, 800,000 of Floridians go to bed every night knowing they do not have health care.

That is cruel and unusual beyond the pale. I`m looking forward to the race. I`m looking forward to fairness.

REID: Well, let me ask you this, because you obviously are very good at running stateside in the state of Florida. You`ve won multiple times. You were education commissioner. You were governor. You know the state very well.

But it`s now a state versus when I lived there that has now passed laws saying you can`t film police, that people can hit Black Lives Matter protesters with their cars. It`s just a gun-wild state now.

It`s the complete takeover of the NRA, as defunct as the NRA is. You had Ron DeSantis today saying, we need to know who you are when you`re voting. We need to have voter ID, except that he wouldn`t let people, as you said, see him sign a bill.

I mean, it is a much more right-wing state now, right? So, what is the -- how do you win in a state like that when it has gone so far right?

CRIST: You go to people and tell them the truth. You tell them that you want to lead with the heart, that you want to have a governor that has compassion, that understands and truly cares about people above politics. That`s what I`ve been telling them. I announced on Tuesday in my hometown of St. Petersburg.

Then we went to Orlando, took a flight to Pensacola, all the way out in what would be considered red Pensacola, but it`s not. There`s a lot of blue out there too.

Then we came back to Tallahassee in the morning, 5:00 this morning, I got up. I swam. Then we drove over to Jacksonville. I`m in Orlando now, and we`re just at Mount Dora in Lake County, considered to be traditionally red.

But you got to go to people, Joy. That`s how you win it. There`s still almost 200,000 more registered Democrats and Republicans in the Sunshine State, and I`m not going to forget it. A lot of open-minded independents, and there really are some good Republicans that don`t like what they see from that Trump acolyte in Ron DeSantis.

They don`t want a Trump light as the next governor or the next president in 2024.

REID: Well, you have to first get through potentially a primary. Are you looking down the road at maybe Nikki Fried, who is the agricultural commissioner, and maybe even Val Demings running in a primary, or do you anticipate that there won`t be such a primary and are you worried about it?

CRIST: I don`t know, and I`m not worried about it. I can only concern myself with the things that I can control. I can`t control other people`s lives or what is a very personal decision to decide to run for governor the Florida.


CRIST: So whatever comes, what may, it comes. And so I`m focused on trying to beat the governor. I think we need to defeat Ron DeSantis.

I think we need to have a governor in Florida like we have a president of the United States now in Joe Biden, a man who has compassion, who really cares about people, wants to fight for them every day and make sure they`re given fundamental fairness. If anybody wants to help us, please go to We need your help to win.

REID: And I guess my last question to you would be are you too nice for Florida politics? I mean, Florida politics has gotten pretty mean. It`s Trumpy.

CRIST: It is Trumpy. There`s no question about it. A famous quote said, never confuse kindness with weakness. We are going to take the battle to `em. I`ll be a gentleman as I do it, as I always strive to be, because I believe in the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have done unto you.

REID: Well, I can tell you this is a very tough man to beat. You know what you`re doing, sir. So, former governor, current congressman, Charlie Crist, best of luck to you, sir. And thank you for being here.

That`s tonight`s REIDOUT.