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Transcript: The ReidOut, 5/7/21

Guests: Fernand Amandi, Michael Cohen, David Henderson, Jon Meacham

Summary

Trump`s fake populism exposes GOP lust for power; GOP Reps. Gaetz & Greene kick off, America First, tour; Representative Elise Stefanik does series of interviews with Far-right outlets; Stefanik on the rise thanks to repeated false claims; Support for Trump`s big lie becomes GOP litmus test; 2016 ad highlights Trump`s Populism message; Graham says, GOP cant` move forward without Trump; Arizona election auditor drafted conspiracy blaming election fraud on Hugo Chavez & 1963 China.

Transcript

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: So I hope we will get together in person and we understand where we started with Perry reminding everyone, if you follow the rules and stay safe and get vaccinated, we can all party in person soon. Thanks to both of you. Have a great weekend. Thanks everyone for watching.

THE REIDOUT is up next.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the man who sold America, whose big sales pitch in 2016 branded him as the working-class billionaire. And that pitch, which was really a scam, convinced millions of American voters to elect the guy they mostly knew from watching him step off private planes into a gold-toileted Trump tower on the apprentice because he purred this sales pitch with fight for the forgotten working class, while fighting against the economic elite and the D.C. government swamp and everything else the working class despised.

But Donald Trump, as this champion of a little guy, it was just a mask. Those hordes of red-capped workers, according to people who knew him well, like Radio Talk Jock Howard Stern and former roadie Noel Casler, Trump despised those people. He called them disgusting.

And even before the pandemic, factories shuttered and manufacturing jobs faded, including plants like Foxconn that Trump vowed to make great again. And most blue-collar voters watched as Trump signed into law a gargantuan tax cut that lined the pockets of the rich as well as big corporations and fat cat donors. He even boasted about making his rich friends even richer while partying at his Florida resort home.

The sales pitch didn`t work the second time around. 80 million Americans said no, thanks but no thanks. And over the course of Trump`s one-term presidency, the Republican Party lost the White House, the House, and the Senate.

But the party still desperately relies on Trump`s mask because that whole thing about the GOP being about tax cuts for the super-rich and deregulation, which has been their prime directive since like the gilded age, well, Trump ripped that film off, exposing the party for what it`s really about, and that is resentment, and rage, and panic, and fear for the little guy, and absolute power for beltway Republicans and their billionaire corporate friends.

The Republicans now need Trump to keep the ruse going and keep the base delivering -- and keep the base believing that they`re something that they`re not. And they`re doing media tours in which they basically just admitted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I would just say to my Republican colleagues, can we move forward without President Trump? The answer is no. I`ve always liked Liz Cheney, but she`s made a determination that the Republican Party can`t grow with President Trump. I`ve determined we can`t grow without him.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY) (voice over): We have to work with President Trump to win back the majority. We need fighters. President Trump is a fighter on behalf of the American people, and voters want fighters to stand up for them, and that`s what I`m committed to doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Republicans are basically war hawks and blue bloods, they think that they need Trump because they don`t have a strategy to win the midterms against a party and a president that are actually doing something that`s pretty radical in American politics, giving middle and working class and poor folks real money and proposing to make the super-rich pay their fair share for once.

So, this is the strategy. But because Trump couldn`t get reelected, Republicans are also escalating their movement to restrict voting in future elections because it`s the only way that they can win. So there you have it, the mask of fake populism, suppressing your vote and dismantling democracy, all so the Republicans can hold on, to cling to power, which is the only thing this shell of a party is even about, the party of Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Mitt Romney. That mask is off.

It`s now this. Matt Gaetz and Margie Q. kicking off their America First super spreader tour at retirement communities in Central Florida, where they`re expected to highlight their deep loyalty to the dear leader. It`s also House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, another typical blue blood beltway Republican of the Paul Ryan varietal, who has sworn so much allegiance to Trump that he`s affectionately known as this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Kevin McCarthy, where`s Kevin? There`s my Kevin.

Our Kevin, do we love Kevin? Wow, what a job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: That`s why my Kevin is working to purge the Republican leadership of elected lawmakers who won`t kiss the ring on Trump`s baby-sized finger, to secure power for himself, for Kevin McCarthy, not for anybody else, should Republicans win control in next year`s elections.

And joining me now is Republican Strategist Susan Del Percio and Fernand Amandi, Democratic Pollster and Strategist.

And, Susan, I have to start with you on this, because I really do believe that the greatest trick that the Republicans Party has pulled in a hundred years is to convince working class people that they have any interest in them. Because Republican, as far back as I can remember, and, again, my father was one of them, he used to be a Republican, at least a lead (ph) Republican and be there as an American citizen, they were about tax cuts for the rich, tax cuts for big corporations and deregulating especially big oil and big business. That`s it. This working-class stuff is a ruse.

And just to show you how much they`re willing to pretend, here is Elise Stefanik in the past couple of days. She`s been on Steve Bannon`s War Room. She`s been on America First with Sebastian Gorka. She`s been on the Rush Limbaugh show hosted by Minnesota Representative Jason Lewis. But here is the actual real Elise Stefanik in 2015 and 2016 talking about Trump. Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEFANIK (voice over): Certain statements by Mr. Trump, especially related to not allowing Muslims in the country, I don`t think that`s who we are, that`s not according to our constitutional principles.

I think he has been insulting to women.

I think the presidential field there are some candidates who, over the long run, and they`ve already started this process, are somewhat disqualifying themselves with untruthful statements.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Susan, it`s all a fraud, right?

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, well, especially with Elise Stefanik. But you know, Joy, you and I have had this conversation for ten years about Republican messaging and how Republicans -- the way they fight was always based on taking a bit of messaging and really running with it. The thing is, this time around there is no messaging because they`re not even running on any of the principles they thought to have, which is also one of the reasons.

I`m so surprised, as Republicans keep talking about being for, and I should highlight, the white working class, because that`s the only people they care about, that Chuck Schumer hasn`t started to put some votes on the floor for them to take. Why not vote on a $15 minimum wage? Why not take someone of the things and break out of Biden`s infrastructure project proposal and have votes on giving working families` the needs to have childcare, for example.

These are all tactics I`m surprised that, frankly, the Democrats aren`t using because the Republicans literally do not have one policy that they have put forward. And the thing that makes it particularly difficult for them right now is, as you know, the party that`s out of power tends to harness that anger of the person who`s in power in the White House. People aren`t angry at Joe Biden.

So that leaves the Republicans with Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss. And you see people turning themselves inside out, like Elise Stefanik, just to have the only chance. This is it for her. This is all she will achieve in her political career. And then that`s it.

And as far as Kevin McCarthy goes, let me just give him this name, Jeff Sessions. Remember how fond President Trump was of Jeff Sessions? He doesn`t think -- Kevin doesn`t think that my Kevin, will turn into, who Kevin, very quickly. If he has one thing, he`s out too.

REID: You`re absolutely right. I mean, Trump doesn`t care about anybody, maybe Ivanka. And, you know, and the thing is on the messaging point, Fernand, I`m going to play you, and I ask the team to get this, I thank you, that I`m so glad they found. I`ll just get a little bit of it. I thought this was the most powerful piece of advertising, not just in the 2016 election but, frankly, that I`ve seen maybe since I started doing politics and media. This was a little piece of an ad that its technical title is rebuilding America now, but I call it the man of steel. I saw this all over T.V. in Pennsylvania, in Ohio, on local news, whenever I would travel there during the election in 2016. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to be working again. We`re going to have great jobs again. We`re going to make America great again for everyone, greater than ever before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: So, that was by a super PAC. The thing about the messaging that`s so simple and the opportunity, as Susan just made it -- as Susan pointed out for Biden, is he`s shots and checks, right? He`s getting you shots and he`s getting you checks. This is the simplest working-class message ever. I don`t know why they`re not running ads on that every day.

But to Susan`s point, what Republicans are doing for the working class is saying, who do you hate, who makes you uncomfortable, (INAUDIBLE) make you uncomfortable, immigrants make you uncomfortable, Muslims make you uncomfortable, black people make you uncomfortable? That`s what we`re going to give you because that`s the only angle we have available. What do you make of the two-party strategies at this point?

FERNAND AMANDI, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER & STRATEGIST: Well, let`s start with the Republican strategy, Joy. I mean, as you said, that was a very effective message during the campaign. I think it speaks to the broader point. As you talked about a little bit earlier, the mask is now off. And with the mask being off, we know that the Republicans that want to hold on to power for the sake of power, which is the animating principle right now of the Republican Party, bar none, they`re not fools, they are polling, they are testing, they are looking at what messages they have and they can access to hold on to their base.

Now, a less cynical approach might say, well, look, Elise Stefanik, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, they`re acting this way because they`re playing the fealty card to the leader, Trump, because they`re trying to avoid the fate of what looks like is going to happen to Liz Cheney, a primary challenge where they all lose their seats and lose their opportunity to be at the trough and get all the perks of being a D.C. beltway insider.

What makes it I think more ominous and a concern for me, Joy, is not this Stefaniks and the Gaetzs, it`s what we heard from Lindsey Graham earlier. Why? Lindsey Graham just got reelected in 2020. If there was anyone that you kind of join the Mitt Romney approach who`s out by the wilderness, it`s Lindsey Graham. Yet, we see him doubling down, quadrupling down on this man.

And I think when you look at that coupled with what`s happening in Arizona right now, this sham fraudulent recounting, all that`s done for is to diminish American institutions, what`s happening in my state of Florida and in Georgia. They`re upending voter restrictions and voter rights to make it that much harder to vote.

This is full-on authoritarianism. And I know it sounds a little scary and hyperbolic but it`s what it is. And unless Joe Biden and the Democrats seize in on that as the most important point, I don`t think we can count on the electoral results of 2024 and beyond to satisfy whatever a Democratic message might be to voters now, because that`s some of the game that Republican are playing. They`re playing that game that you said, holding on to power for the sake of power, even if it means throwing American democracy overboard in the process.

REID: Well, I mean, it is hyperbolic. I mean, Ann Applebaum has talked about this, that the same play was tried in Poland. It was tried to Viktor Orban. It is a tactic of saying the problem isn`t that you don`t have sufficient money in your bank account or that you don`t have a job that pays you enough to pay your rent. The problem is these other people. If we could just get them out of here, these immigrants are the problem, these Muslims are the problem, these black folks, that`s your real problem, and it`s a distraction. But then there`s also that piece of saying the big lie and that everyone in the party must say the big lie, must show their fealty by repeating the big lie.

It is -- that there`s -- it`s weird how, Susan, the Republican Party has sort of turned into what right wing European parties are like because there is that big lie. I mean, in Arizona, the guy who`s running this fake audit, he has a fact sheet. Rachel Maddow did an excellent piece on this last night. He has a fact sheet that says the core software used by Dominion, which is the second largest U.S. voting machine vendor, it is merged basically with Smartmatic, another company that has nothing to do with them, that he says is founded in communist Venezuela with links to Hugo Chavez and the Chinese government. The Chinese government in 1963 plotted to take over America without firing a shot, basically saying in China in 1963, they plotted Trump`s overthrow. That sounds just bananas, but that`s now just regular basic orthodoxy in the Republican Party.

DEL PERCIO: Yes, and it is something that they keep putting out there because there seems to be an appetite. You know, the problem isn`t just Donald Trump, because Trump was defeated. And it`s not even that Donald Trump is living within the state parties or the local level parties. It`s Trumpism that is thriving now. It`s that concept. It`s that authoritarianism. It`s that us versus them. And that`s a really important thing, when you start seeing how things are playing out.

And I wrote about this earlier this week, that the worst is yet to come. Because those people who are in the party, the Republican Party, at that grassroots level, are putting in the worst people to go up the line, the chain of command, if you will. And that`s where it falls apart.

REID: And that`s a where it gets dangerous. And, Fernand, you know this well. You know, we both come from our backgrounds are in countries that have seen this already happen. Just give us a warning. Because if people care more about this freak show and about these distractions and the big lie and fealty to that than they do about checks and shots, it`s hard for me to believe that but there are people who do.

AMANDI: Well, I mean, look, I mean again, it`s going to sound over the top on a Friday night when we all want to kind of hang out and party and get into the weekend. Believe me, I`m there with you all. But the big lie, think about what the big lie in Germany was in the late 1930s and `40s, that the European Jewish community was the cause of the economic problems and the devastation that Germany was experiencing at the time. That big lie was enough to sway the political class, the economic class and the working class of Germany to buy in full scale into authoritarianism.

The use of the big lie now and the pretense that the big lie is truth, and so many in the Republican Party are now saying, either accept the big lie or you`re out. That is the most disturbing, frightening thing. And again, my parents and grandparents were forced to leave their country in Cuba because of this type of big lie, this authoritarianism. Joy, I know your family is the same. For those of you watching, this is unique to the American experience. We`ve been blessed. It hasn`t happened in the past here, in it`s happening now. We need to pay attention and I hope and trust at least the Democratic leaders in Washington are aware of how ominous in dangers this moment is for our country.

REID: Absolutely, and they would helped themselves by making the other big lie a lot more prominent which is that these guys, the Mitch McConnells and the Kevin McCarthys cared all about working people, because if they did, they would have voted for the money that you`ve got. That $1,400, those extra unemployment benefits, the childcare money you`ll going to get this summer, none of them voted for it because they don`t care about that. They only care about power. I think that`s the other big lie and Democrats need to highlight it.

Susan Del Percio, Fernand Amandi, you guys have to try to have a great weekend despite it all.

Still ahead on THE REIDOUT, Rudy Giuliani is pinching pennies amid growing legal and financial hassles starting with pink slips for his entourage. If he`s expecting any handout from the not as rich as he says he is Florida man, he` better think again.

Plus, Michelle Obama speaks out on the Chauvin verdict as a new indictment is handed down for the officers involve in George Floyd`s murder.

And Trump courting violent extremists was bad. The insurrection itself was much, much, much worse. But the B.S. arguments that those insurrectionists are now using in trying to pay the consequences are easily tonight`s absolute worst.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: New reporting this week suggests that Trump fixer Rudy Giuliani may be cash strapped as he faces a criminal investigation and two defamation lawsuits.

Now the disgraced former mayor has -- gasp -- cut down his entourage, laying off several staffers and independent contractors in the last few weeks. That`s according to Politico, which reports that Giuliani no longer moves around Manhattan with the full complement of as many as five people he has kept around him in recent years.

A person familiar with the matter says his former employer -- employees were told that the former New York mayor was seeking to cut costs.

"The New York Times" also reported this week that the former New York mayor`s advisers want Donald Trump to use his $250 million war chest to pay for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. However, people close to Trump said that he was -- stridently refused to do so.

I mean, he doesn`t pay his bills.

We also know that Giuliani is not exactly frugal when it comes to his spending habits. Politico reports that one of the ex-wives of the man who made millions monetizing his post-9/11 reputation has alleged in court filings that Rudy has shelled out tens of thousands of dollars on a private jet subscription service. She said he spent $7,000 on fountain pens and another $12,000 on cigars alone.

It`s also been well-reported that he`s a high roller at the New York cigar club the Havana Room. And on top of that, he pays $42,000 a month in alimony to his third ex-wife, according to "The Washington Post."

The latest reporting on Giuliani`s financial difficulties comes after the federal investigation of Giuliani`s dealings in Ukraine intensified last week with the FBI`s raid of his apartment. There`s no telling what prosecutors may uncover on the electronic devices they seized.

Now George Conway writes in a "Washington Post" op-ed that Trump just might want to rethink stiffing Giuliani on those bills. That`s because, if Giuliani has anything to offer prosecutors to save himself, it would have to be Trump, the only bigger fish left.

And joining me now is Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to Donald Trump, host of the "Mea Culpa" podcast, and author of "Disloyal," and someone who knows very well what it feels like to be thrown under the bus by the Donald.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: I want to play for you somebody that I`m sure you know, Andrew Giuliani, the son of Rudy Giuliani. And here`s his advice, I guess, to Donald Trump. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Do you expect that your father might get some help from Trump`s legal defense fund?

ANDREW GIULIANI, SON OF RUDY GIULIANI: I do think he should be indemnified. I think it -- I think all those Americans that donated after November 3, they were donating for the legal defense fund. My father ran the legal team at that point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Not sure what he means by indemnified, but what do you make of that?

Because it sounds to me like, if he gets stiffed, maybe Andrew`s dad might tell.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY/FIXER FOR DONALD TRUMP: OK, so, let me be very clear. He`s going to get stiffed, all right?

Donald Trump, as you properly alluded to, does not pay legal bills, nor does he learn from his previous mistakes, which is the same exact thing that he did to me. He doesn`t care about anyone or anything other than himself.

Now, as we also know that they took advantage of a lot of individuals who ere donating to the various different Trump PACs or funds, and that they had them constantly on the replenishment month by month, and now they have to return that. So, it`s not 250 million anymore.

Now, Donald, in his crazy mind, actually believed that that was now his money, and that he could do with it as he wished. So the chances that he`s going to part with a single dollar, knowing that it`s going to cost several millions of dollars in order to put together a proper taint team, which, by the way, the people he has right now are not capable of doing it.

It took 26 people to go through my 14 million documents, literally, round the clock, because the judge demanded that we have it done within 45 days. Now, I don`t know how fast that they`re required to do it, but it takes a very sophisticated and a very significant computerized organization in order to go through everything that`s on these devices.

And I`m sure that there`s a multitude of things that they`re going to try to keep out of the -- out of the hands of the SDNY under the guise of attorney-client privilege. And, unfortunately, those then come with motions and then oppositions and so on.

And the saddest thing for -- I should say, the good thing is that -- sad for Rudy, good for the rest of us -- it`s not going to work, because, guaranteed, the information that they find is going to all be illegal. So it`s not protected information. It`s under the crime-fraud exception rule. And if it`s not the crime-fraud exception rule, I`m sure Rudy added other people, CC`ed on these communications to people like Jared, Ivanka, Don, or somebody else who aren`t lawyers, thereby breaking the chain of attorney- client privilege.

I mean, he`s just dopey. It`s...

REID: Are you surprised? Rudy Giuliani used to be a federal prosecutor. He used to be mayor of New York, one of the biggest cities in the world.

COHEN: Yes, he was.

REID: Are you surprised that he took the Trump job, after having publicly, at least from what we heard, wanting like $20,000 a week, not getting it, and basically did all of that he did on -- what, on contingency?

Are you surprised that he didn`t try to get paid up front?

(LAUGHTER)

REID: Didn`t he know Donald Trump?

COHEN: OK, so let me -- Joy, I hate to correct you, but it was $20,000 a day.

REID: A day.

COHEN: And he actually thought -- a day.

He thought Donald Trump was going to pay him $140,000 a day (sic)? He has a better chance of sling-shooting himself to the moon.

(LAUGHTER)

COHEN: I mean, it`s impossible.

Donald Trump wouldn`t pay him 2 cents, because his feeling is, it is an honor and a privilege to go to prison for him, to do his dirty work. And as long as Rudy kept patting the backside of Donald and kissing the ring, so - - I like to say something else -- but kissing the ring of Donald Trump, then he was well within the orbit.

So, what did dopey Rudy do? He went around the world selling the service of America to foreign organizations and countries. That`s how he was going to make his money. He was using Donald, and Donald was using him.

So, Donald never had in -- he never had the thought in his mind that he was ever going to pay Rudy.

And listening to Andrew, who may be dumber than Eric Trump, talk about -- talk about this nonsense, it`s funny to me. It`s funny. What -- he should literally -- the last time -- I said on another show, the last time I saw Andrew he was giving a golf lesson on Trump`s golf course.

That`s where he should be right now, instead of out there talking for his father. His father should say nothing. Andrew should be saying nothing. They should be sitting down right now with prosecutors, because Rudy knows exactly how the game is going to go.

REID: Yes.

COHEN: He created the rules. He created the rules to go after organized crime.

And they`re going to use the same playbook that he created against him. And it works, because they squeeze you. And they know that Rudy right now is financially strapped. So, when you`re financially strapped, how are you going to pay the millions of dollars? You think Dershowitz is going to work for free or this guy Bob Costello is going to work -- or the other two of the lawyers that he brought on?

By the way, none of them are capable of becoming a taint team.

REID: Yes.

COHEN: They may know how to do it, but not when you have millions of documents. It really requires a very sophisticated computerized system to go through each and every one of the documents.

REID: Yes.

And, of course, we know that Alan Dershowitz, I don`t know if he`s working for him, but he`s -- Jeffrey Epstein, some of his previous clients, Claus von Bulow, Donald Trump.

Last question to you. Rudolph -- let me play Rudy Giuliani very quickly. This is Giuliani saying he had an insurance policy. And this was in 2019. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I have seen things written like, he`s going to throw me under the bus.

QUESTION: Right.

R. GIULIANI: When they say that, I say, he isn`t, but I have insurance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Does he have an insurance policy? Does that sound realistic to you?

COHEN: I mean, no.

REID: Because that sounds like he`s going to throw Trump under the bus.

COHEN: It`s probably -- right.

Welcome -- by the way, so I put a hashtag out the other day, under the bus club, right?

(LAUGHTER)

COHEN: Welcome, Judy, to the under -- right -- Rudy, to the under the bus club.

What his insurance is, I don`t know. Geico, State Farm, Allstate? Who the hell knows what he`s talking about?

The problem with Rudy is that he drinks like a maniac. And the worst thing to do is to drink and then go on television.

(LAUGHTER)

COHEN: Because he`s stupid, right, in order to drink the way that he does. And he`s more stupid to come on shows like yours or others trying to prove a point that he is absolutely guilty of.

And all he`s doing is just creating more harm and giving Donald more of a reason why not to pay. It`s just the way it works.

REID: Wow.

COHEN: Welcome to the under the bus club, Rudy.

REID: Michael Cohen, you never disappoint, my friend, when you come on the show.

Wow. I`m going to -- I`m going to think about that. I`m going to think on that. I`m going to ruminate on that for the rest of the -- probably the rest of the show.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: Michael Cohen, thank you very much. Have a great weekend.

COHEN: Well, you do that.

REID: Take care. Thank you.

Wow. OK, then.

Michelle Obama`s brand-new and very personal comments on the Derek Chauvin verdict, as a federal grand jury hands down a new indictment on the four ex-officers involved in George Floyd`s murder -- all the details next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY: We know that, while we`re all breathing a sigh of relief over the verdict, there`s still work to be done.

And so we can`t sort of say, great, that happened, let`s move on. I know that people in the black community don`t feel that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Former first lady Michelle Obama spoke out this morning about the verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial. She went on to discuss her own fears for her two daughters any time they get into a car by themselves.

Meanwhile, there`s major news out of Minneapolis today, with a federal grand jury indicting Chauvin and three of his former federal -- his fellow former officers on civil rights charges in the killing of George Floyd.

Chauvin is charged for his excessive use of force against Floyd. Two of the other officers are charged for not intervening to stop Chauvin. And all four are charged with not providing Floyd any medical aid.

Chauvin also faces a separate indictment from a 2017 case, where he struck a black 14-year-old boy twice in the head with a flashlight and held his knee on the boy`s back and neck for 17 minutes.

Joining me now is David Henderson, civil rights attorney and former prosecutor.

Mr. Henderson, thank you so much for being here. Great to be able to talk to you.

Can you talk about the significance of adding these federal civil rights charges, on top of the charges that these officers are facing? Is this something that would happen -- would it enhance the amount of time they get in federal prison? Would this be, if they were convicted, be concurrent? And what do you think the significance is?

DAVID HENDERSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: First, Joy, thanks for having me.

The significance is hard to overstate here, because every time I think Michelle Obama can`t impress me anymore, she does. And I`m so thankful of the way she spoke up here, because we have seen so many videos now of wrongful police killings. They have become the norm in terms of our expectation for justice.

The thought literally has become, if they didn`t kill someone, nothing is likely to happen. And for every one of these videos, there are even more civil rights violations. And if anyone demonstrates why that matters, it`s Derek Chauvin.

As we were just discussing, he assaulted a 14-year-old boy back in 2017. Had he been held accountable back then, George Floyd might very well still be alive. And so, at some point, we have to move past responding to wrongful killings and conduct to preventing it.

That`s why these charges are so important. They will probably have an impact on what Derek Chauvin decides to do moving forward, if he wants to enter into a plea agreement or persist with his appeals and perhaps a possible trial.

They`re not necessarily likely to increase the overall amount of time that he does. But that`s kind of a complicated answer, because, at the end of the day, it does provide him right now with an incentive to enter a plea agreement, which would be beneficial to both (AUDIO GAP)

REID: Very interesting, because I think about some of these other cases.

And you`re right. I mean, the search for criminal justice reform and improving this is not just about police. It`s also about prosecutors, who tend to be very reluctant to hold police officers accountable, right? I mean, you think about this case in the Andrew Brown Jr. situation, where the judge, just based on his own Facebook posts, where he`s like George Zimmerman was -- it was great that he got acquitted, and he has all this pro-police sort of paraphernalia all over his Facebook.

And then he says, you guys, family, you only get to see two seconds, 20 seconds, 20 minutes. I`m going to limit how much you can see.

It doesn`t feel like he`s fair. But he`s an extreme version of what I think police -- I mean, individuals worry about, Americans worry about, that prosecutors are in bed with the police when it comes to misconduct.

HENDERSON: Joy, you`re right.

And I think you`re being fair by calling him an extreme case. I think he`s actually closer to the norm.

One of the things the George Floyd trial -- the Derek Chauvin trial for killing George Floyd allowed the police to avoid were common arguments that are going to surface in other cases. Daunte Wright is going to involve harder discussions. Rayshard Brooks will involve harder discussions, because this is typically what you see.

And it goes to a larger point with these federal indictments. And that is, we tend, in environments like this, to talk about legal standards and burdens of proof, when what wins court cases tends to be people, not details of the law.

And that starts with the commitment of the prosecutors who are handling the cases. And it`s about time we start seeing justice when people are wrongfully killed or when their civil rights are violated.

REID: And it -- it strikes me that Keith Ellison had to take that case over for us to get the prosecution of Derek Chauvin and these other officers.

The local prosecutor, I mean, maybe he would have done it eventually. But that`s not what happened.

HENDERSON: And that`s the only fear or one of the fears I have about this trial, is that, any other day of the week, anyone who`s not a police officer, this is not a difficult trial to win.

But it took a Herculean effort to get a victory in that case.

REID: Yes. Yes.

HENDERSON: You had to have private lawyers from big law firms substitute in for professional prosecutors. You had exceptional expert witnesses who volunteered their time for free to get that conviction.

And that`s simply not sustainable in every single one of the cases that we see. And it shouldn`t have to be.

REID: Yes.

HENDERSON: But part of what has to happen is, we have to change the culture of how we look at these types of cases. And that`s part of what the Justice Department is providing right now.

REID: Yes, that is such a smart point. And it`s so important.

Yes, it can`t be this Herculean every time. We just need justice to become a normal thing.

David Henderson, such a treat to talk with you. Thank you so much. Have a great weekend.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

REID: All right, thank you.

And, now, from "Trump hypnotized me" to a made-up medical condition called Foxitis, the B.S. excuses insurrectionists are trying to use to squirm out from under the mess they made for themselves are truly the absolute worst.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: It`s been four months almost to the day since the mob of MAGA insurrectionists laid siege to our nation`s Capitol.

And while arrests and charges are still ongoing, some of the legal proceedings this week showed off more of the bad, the worst, and, well, the absolute worst.

Remember the zip tie guy seen carrying plastic cuffs in the Senate chamber on January 6? He`s asking permission to call his mom on Mother`s Day. How sweet. He is currently barred from speaking to her because she`s his co - defendant.

Eric Munchel and his mother, Lisa Marie Eisenhart, are awaiting trial on charges of entering a restricted area and violent entry. They were released from custody in March.

Meanwhile, a Zoom hearing for two other alleged insurrectionists yesterday went totally off the rails. One the men was Landon Copeland, who, on January 6, according to a criminal complaint, tried to breach a police line, shoved a fellow insurrectionist into police, tried to take a shield, and threw a metal barricade fence at officers.

At a Zoom hearing this week, he screamed: "F. all of you" and asked: "Is any of this negotiable? I used to be a free man until you locked me up."

Yes, that`s kind of how it works, Landon.

Copeland interrupted another hearing with his outbursts. And the judge ordered him to be evaluated for mental competency.

And that brings us to tonight`s absolute worst, another alleged seditionist at that hearing. Prosecutors allege Anthony Antonio was seen on the West Terrace of the Capitol dressed in tactical gear, using a bullhorn to tell the crowd that they were not leaving until we get our way and pushing against officers protecting a tunnel, and also squirting water and throwing a water bottle in the direction of Metropolitan police Officer Michael Fanone as he was dragged down a set of stairs.

Well, his lawyer argued -- fair warning, this is not a joke -- that Antonio -- quote -- "became hooked with what I call Foxitis or Foxmania and became interested in the political aspect and started believing what he was being fed -- what was being fed to him."

His attorney claimed that after losing his job at the start of the pandemic, Antonio spent hours watching FOX.

Now, to be sure, the content churning out of the house of Murdoch, from anti-vax nuttery to racial scapegoating, is about as toxic as it gets, maybe even dangerously toxic. But claiming "FOX made me do it" is a pretty -- well, it`s a novel defense.

But here is some of what Antonio might have seen if he tuned in to the channel in the nights leading up to the siege.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK LEVIN, FOX NEWS: If we don`t fight on January 6 on the floor of the Senate and the House -- that is the joint meeting of Congress on these electors -- we`re done.

LOU DOBBS, FOX NEWS: Wouldn`t it be criminal for these Republicans, and particularly Republican senators who are saying that they will not step forward to tell -- to tell their states, their constituencies that they don`t really care whether the election was stolen or not?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Well, we will see how Foxitis or Foxmania works as a legal defense and if anyone on the network responds, perhaps with another reminder from their lawyers that one mustn`t take what they do over at FOX to be news, right, Tuckums?

And so, tonight, the defendants claiming Foxmania made me do it, you and all these other insurrectionists, for invading our Capitol and endangering police officers and getting a bunch of people killed, you all, you`re the absolute worst.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: Critical race theory is racism.

More broadly, it is the latest attempt by the most privileged people in our society, the celebrities, politicians, college professors, talk show hosts, to displace the blame for their mismanagement of our country on to the people below them.

LEVIN: This is a Marxist, racist ideology that was born in the 1970s at Harvard and Stanford Law School by a few knuckleheads.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: Too many teachers either don`t want to be in the classroom at all, or, when they are in the classroom, they are advancing poisonous views about our founding, our history, and traditional family values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: The GQP and their allies over at the B.S. factory are obsessed with lying about critical race theory.

Roughly a dozen Republican states have passed or introduced vague legislation that prohibits critical race theory or divisive concepts, whatever that means.

It`s fairly hypocritical for the party that freaks out about faux censorship and cancel culture to cancel an idea that they just don`t like.

But why let logic get in the way of their culture wars? Just yesterday, the Tennessee General Assembly banned teaching critical race theory in that state. And Arizona is on its way to doing the same, threatening to fine teachers who are already underpaid $5,000 if they break the law.

None of this should shock you. Why would the Republican Party want to have a factual conversation about race, gender and equity, when their most pressing issue today is pushing the big lie?

Joining now is Jon Meacham, presidential historian and host of the "Fate of Fact" podcast, which I`m excited about.

And, Jon, Nikole Hannah-Jones, who -- of -- behind The 1619 Project, she tweeted a series of quotes by WEB Du Bois that I thought were so spot on. I can`t quote them, but I will paraphrase them, that history is one of two things. It`s either information or it`s a palliative to sort of create patriotism and make people feel good.

To me, American history has been taught as the latter all of my adult life and way long before that. Why do you think people are freaking out so much that people want to teach it as accurate fact?

JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yes.

I will say this. As a native Tennessean and a resident of the state, 1925, we decided to not teach another theory called evolution. And that didn`t work out very well in the long run. So, whenever the Tennessee legislature gets into trying to ban free speech and the exploration of new ideas, we should we should be very wary.

Look, there`s -- it`s possible that the pendulum, the spectrum for informed, reason-based conversation could be out of whack. But it`s been out of whack on the white -- prevailing white narrative for more than two- and-a-half centuries.

So, the fact that critical race theory and The 1619 Project are part of the conversation now is, in fact, what the founders wanted, right? The American Revolution was not least about giving reason a fighting chance in the arena of ideas and governance with appetite, ambition and passion.

I believe -- and that a lot of folks don`t -- but I believe that America fundamentally was an enlightenment era project. It was attempting to take the world from being organized vertically, where popes and princes and prelates and kings, who, either by an accident of birth or an incident of election, had reflexive authority over all of us, to turning it into a more horizontal one, where, in fact, we all had the individual capacity to determine our own destinies.

You and I know and everybody listening knows that that was not complete, that that was an aspiration that was not fulfilled, and has not been fully fulfilled even unto this hour.

But the greatness of the country is not that there`s some static moment where you -- we take our story and our reality back to. The greatness of the country is that we have the capacity to use reason and conscience and history and faith to build a more perfect and better union.

And there are a lot of folks who think that the union is inherently corrupt. I don`t believe that, any more than the union is corrupt insofar as human beings are corrupt. And we have a debate going on here that`s not unlike the 1850s, when William Lloyd Garrison burned a copy of the Constitution, and said it was a pact with the devil.

And Frederick Douglass said, no, there is no soil as conducive to the growth of reform as American soil. And Douglass is a fascinating figure, and, like all vulnerable people, thought different things at different times.

But that`s where we have to be, is that this is an ongoing struggle, and you should not be banning and shutting down conversations that you find uncomfortable.

REID: But -- so, here`s the thing.

I mean, the enlightenment project that the founders embarked upon was embarked upon, in fairness, for themselves. It was in every man a king, as you said...

MEACHAM: Yes.

REID: ... Where the king could be removed from -- right?

But here`s the thing. If you create a country, and the purpose of that is to liberate yourself, and you build that on a foundation of saying, but I also can negate the humanity of these black people because I want to own them, and I can negate the humanity of these indigenous people because I want their land, you build something in that we need to reckon with.

And so I understand why, for a lot of people, they take our history so sort of negatively personally. History is not an indictment. It`s just history.

But I want to let you listen really quick to what Nikole Hannah-Jones had to say about Mitch McConnell specifically, because he`s one of the people at war with critical race theory. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES, "THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE": 1619 is important date for Mitch McConnell`s own family, because his own family left Virginia, came to Alabama to start cotton forced labor plantations, owned dozens of other human beings.

And his own wealth and status was acquired because of the legacy of slavery.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Tom Cotton, same thing. He said slavery was a necessary evil. His family wealth was built on enslavement.

And so the thing is, this that people, individuals who oppose the idea of rethinking history, not from the vantage point of the winners, which are white Christian men, but from the vantage point of everyone else -- and that`s all critical race theory is doing, is saying, let`s look at the vantage point of the other people who were there, and let`s incorporate that.

MEACHAM: Yes.

REID: Right?

MEACHAM: Yes.

REID: Because if -- look, if people who look like me thought America was irredeemable, we wouldn`t fight for civil rights. We wouldn`t care.

MEACHAM: Right. Right. Right.

REID: So, is it that people are taking it personal and saying, if I look at this history, I might have to be accountable for what I have?

MEACHAM: Yes, I think that is cert -- I think you have done a deft bit of psychological analysis there, absolutely.

And people who look like me -- I`m a boringly heterosexual white Southern male Episcopalian. Things tend to work out for me in this country, right?

But I believe that to whom much is given, much is expected. And my view is that, if you are not open to ideas that are uncomfortable, then you are not living up to what the country and the Western world -- we will just limit it to that for a second -- has been built on.

And this is not to say -- history is not a bedtime story. It`s not a fairy tale.

REID: Yes.

MEACHAM: There was never a once upon a time, and there`s never going to be a happily ever after, because it`s a human undertaking.

And we are all flawed, fallen and fallible. And we have to confront that.

REID: Yes.

MEACHAM: And I understand -- yes, I understand how people are sort of reacting to this.

But if you`re reacting in good conscience, you`re not banning something, right?

REID: Right. That`s right.

MEACHAM: You debate it, right?

REID: That`s correct. And if people very much...

MEACHAM: You don`t shove it out.

REID: That`s right.

History is not a bedtime story. I`m going to use that.

MEACHAM: And so just debate -- so, let`s debate it.

REID: Let`s debate it.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: And, by the way, your podcast is called "Fate of Fact."

It`s going to explore the question of how fear conquered truth and trace the roots of Americans` prevailing culture of polarization, with an emphasis on why the right has chosen to break with the governing consensus, however imperfect, once embodied by the figurative conversation between Roosevelt and Reagan.

I love this idea. I will be listening to your podcast.

Thank you so much. You are anything but boring, my friend. Thank you for being here.

That is Jon Meacham.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.