Trump`s DOJ reportedly seized Democrats` data; Trump accuses Democratic Representative Schif of being a big leaker; DOJ watchdog to investigate alleged phone data seizure. Intelligence Committee chair urges Attorney General Garland to do full damage assessment after four years of Trump; New York Times reports, some DOJ staffers saw leak inquiries as politically motivated.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Because I don`t know if you all know, that we need in our family, we know we name our Christmas trees. So, we`ve Treearetha Franklin in the past. We have Treeyonce Sknowles. We`ve had that. So, I think we`re ready for this.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: All I`m going to say Joy is R-E-S-P-E-C-T to Treearetha Franklin, and I hope you have a good weekend.
REID: Thank you very much, have a wonderful weekend, Ari.
All right, thank you all for joining us this evening. And we begin THE REIDOUT on this Friday night with what is shaping up to be yet another appalling abuse of power by the Trump era Justice Department.
Now, as you probably already heard by now, The New York Times has detailed how under Trump, the DOJ subpoenaed metadata from Apple related to accounts belonging to at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee. Those two Democrats just happen to be some of Trump`s most vocal critics, Committee Chair Adam Schiff and member Eric Swalwell. Their aides and family members including a minor were targeted too. The records were sought as part of an investigation into leaks of classified information.
And let`s just say Trump was never shy about who he thought was spilling his business.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Schiff is a big leaker.
We`ll have a committee meeting and he`ll leak all sorts of information. You know, he`s a bad guy.
I think Adam Schiff is the biggest leaker in Washington. You know that. I know that. We all know that. I`ve watched Adam Schiff leak. He is a corrupt politician. He`s a leaker like nobody has ever seen before.
They ought to stop the leaking from Intelligence Committee. And if they don`t stop it, I can`t imagine that people are not going to go after them and find out what`s happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now, of course, this isn`t the first time Trump shredded our institutions in an attempt to hunt down his enemies and snuff them out, this was a thing with him as it is with all autocrats real and wanna-be. But this, this is a big deal, unprecedented in this country and arguably worse than anything Richard Nixon did. The New York Times has called it a nearly unheard of move outside of corruption investigations with former congressional officials saying they couldn`t recall an instance in which the records of lawmakers had ever been seized in this way.
The investigation started under Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions. Remember him? And it was unsuccessful. But then, and here is the kicker, the dead-end probe was revived under William Barr after he replaced Sessions as attorney general a year later.
Doesn`t it feel like those danger warning arrows always point back to Barr? Trump`s hand to the king, the one who lied about the contents of the Mueller report, who personally ordered the violent dispersal of lawful protesters so Trump could pretend to know what holding a bible feels like and whose chilling fantasy dystopia involves virtually unlimited presidential power, yes, that William Barr, whose duty, as he sought, was to serve as Trump`s faithful protector even when testifying before Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone, yes or no please, sir?
WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: The president or anybody else?
HARRIS: Seems you`d remember something like that and be able to tell us.
BARR: Yes, but I`m trying to grapple with the word, suggest. I mean, there have been discussions of matters out there that they`ve not asked me to open an investigation but --
HARRIS: Perhaps they suggested?
BARR: I don`t know. I wouldn`t say suggest.
BARR: I don`t know.
HARRIS: Inferred? You don`t know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: She was going to run out of synonyms there. Today, top Democrats in the Senate are calling for Barr and Sessions to testify under oath. And just moments ago, we heard from Microsoft saying they too received a subpoena related to a personal email account in 2017. A Microsoft spokesperson said they were prevented from notifying the customer for two years due to a gag order. As soon as it expired, they notified the customer who turns out was a congressional staffer.
Joining me now is Matthew Miller, former Chief Spokesman for the Justice Department, Jill Wine-Banks former Assistant, a Watergate Special Prosecutor, and National Security Analyst Malcolm Nance.
Jill Wine-Banks, you know Nixon has been invoked and so you have that perspective as, you know, whether or not, just how unprecedented this is.
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: This is completely unprecedented. Nixon did wire tap reporters but even he never took on doing something like this to a member of Congress or to their families, their staff, to a minor. So this goes way beyond Department of Justice policy. It`s not illegal because they used the means of getting a subpoena through a grand jury. So it wasn`t illegal but it is a violation of Department of Justice policy. And it definitely, I am very happy to hear, the inspector general is going to do an investigation and get to the bottom of this.
It also looks like political abuse of power because, so far, all we know is that only Democrats were subpoenaed, their records. It didn`t go to any Republicans. And it was unsuccessful. And now Barr is saying I never knew about those subpoenas. Well, shame on him if he didn`t. He`s running the department. That is something he had to know about under DOJ policy. So it is ridiculous and it doesn`t pass the red face test for him to say I didn`t know about it.
REID: Yes, and, you know Matthew, there is a lot of frustration on the Hill right now. You know, you`ve had now this interesting sort of new information that`s come out and this is, you know, just reporting that we have internally a former Justice Department official who tonight is saying for our own Pete Williams he that never approved subpoenas for members of the House Intelligence Committee in a leak investigation. He`s saying that any metadata was for a single House staffer and then that staffer`s phone records, anyone associated that he called might have been involved. That is just one person saying it.
There are a lot of questions here, which to me begs the question of why there wasn`t already an inspector general investigation up on our new attorney general arriving in his job. There is now going to be an internal watchdog investigation, House Intel Chairman Schiff, one of the targeted lawmakers, and said that he has been unable to get Biden administration officials to give him details about anything. And there is a lot of frustration that there is only now an investigation now that his come forward. What do you think?
MATTHEW MILLER, MSNBC JUSTICE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, let me say I`m not surprised that -- it wouldn`t surprise me at all if the attorney general only found out about this very recently, the current attorney general. I can tell you, having been at the Justice Department at the beginning of a new administration, it is months and in some cases years before you find out about wrongdoing that happened under the previous administration, especially when there is such widespread wrongdoing.
I`m going to make a prediction that we`re going to be finding out about things that the Sessions and Barr Justice Departments did wrong not just for the rest of the year but probably the rest of the Biden administration as new things kind of come to public light.
I think what has to happen going forward is there has to be transparency from the Justice Department. Look, if you told me that in pursuit of this leak investigation, the Justice Department looked at everyone that had access to this classified information, and sent subpoenas to all of the internet service providers and phone companies for their phone and email records, the metadata associated with them, including members of Congress from both parties, I would tell you that sounded overly aggressive but it didn`t sound partisan. And I`ve had serious questions about that investigation. I think it was a wrong call. It wouldn`t sound like a partisan witch hunt.
And the problem you have here is when you see it only targeted at Democratic members. Unless they had a very specific reason, if they can produce information that shows that they had a lead that told them there was someone on the House Intelligence Committee who is responsible for this leak and that is why they sent a narrowly-targeted subpoena that would be one thing. But in the absence of that information and when you pile on top the president repeatedly calling for his enemies to be targeted by the Justice Department, it means we have to get to the bottom of what happened. The DOJ inspector general has to get to the bottom of what happened and Congress has to work to get information out of the department. And the department needs to comply and turn that information over.
REID: And, Matt, there are some of the people who were involved in this who are still working in the DOJ. Do you think once this investigation is completed, those people should no longer be working at DOJ?
MILLER: You know, I think it is too early to say that. These are career public servants and their jobs are to find leaks. And without knowing any more information about how they acted, I think it is too early to point fingers at them.
Look, it is the job of the leadership at the top of the department to set the direction and set the direction of these investigations. If it were, for example, that the career public servants were just following information where it led, that would be one thing. If they were told by their superiors, you know, why don`t you have a look at Adam Schiff, why don`t you have a look at Eric Swalwell, that would be a very different thing.
And so before we point fingers at some what I expect are pretty good career prosecutors, I want to know more information.
REID: you know, Malcolm, let me read you first of all, this is House Intelligence Chair Schiff. He had statement out today and he said the incident must be viewed in the context of the systemic politicization of the department and its mission and other flagrant abuses. The attorney general needs to do a full damage assessment of the conduct of the department over the last four years and outline all of the accountability and mitigation necessary to protect the public going forward.
What stands out to me, Malcolm, and I don`t know if it does to you, is that this was a closed investigation by the previous attorney general that William Barr seemed to reopen, and he was known for being extremely partisan and believing the president should have unlimited power.
One little piece here from The New York Times, some cases in the probe had nothing to do with leaks about Trump and involved sensitive national security information. One of the people briefed in the case has said Barr`s overall view of leaks that some people in the department who eventually see the inquiries as politically motivated, this is how autocracies operate essentially, no, that essentially, you know, the president can order his hand to the king to investigate anybody he wants.
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Sure. And you know, we`ve seen this happen throughout the entirety of the Trump administration. Bill Barr was specifically brought in to kill investigations, to make things go away, to politicize the Justice Department.
You know, what I find fascinating here, Joy, and I know I`m speaking for the laymen on this panel, we have two brilliant lawyers here, lawyers have too much comedy amongst themselves. They -- you know, they talk about where they went to school, they discuss openly all the time what firms they work for and they always give everyone benefit of the doubt. You cannot give that White House benefit of the doubt. We know they were politicizing many, many different subjects.
And let me tell you something. As someone who has actually collected intelligence, you know, that`s come up either incidentally or targeted before, I am certain that collecting the metadata of this is probably the least of what we`re going to find.
Here is what I recommend, and I`m saying this again as a layman. The Justice Department staff needs to understand that this tree needs to be shaken. All of the things that they suspected might have been dirty over the last few years, they should walk into the office of the I.G. and say, hey, I know this is an investigation. It didn`t get to the attention of Attorney General Garland, but you might want to look at this. Because I suspect that the Justice Department, using career prosecutors who keep their mouths shut, who actually go through the day-to-day business, was probably a lot more politicized than we think of. Just like a Russian prosecutor general, you know, the only thing missing here is the internal government intelligence agency, like DHS, that may have been doing things in support of these operations.
REID: Yes. And, you know, Jill, the concern here is that Barr, even more than Sessions, really broke the Department of Justice and turned it into a sort of personal law firm for the president and that Garland is not being aggressive enough about turning it back, that he is such an institutionalist that he is more about protecting the staff and sort of, you know, incremental change, that he is not looking through the books more aggressively enough. What do you make of that assessment?
WINE-BANKS: I think there are some things he has done extremely well. His speech today about voting is really good use of the department`s resources and increasing the number of people who would be enforcing voting laws that currently exist while extolling Congress to pass both the Senate Bill and the John Lewis Bill.
But there are some things that are questionable decisions of his that I would wish he wouldn`t have done in terms of continuing to keep from the public the Office of Legal Counsel memo that was supposedly guiding Barr toward a decision. There are a number of things like that. The decision to continue to defend Donald Trump in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case are things where he is trying to look neutral and not political to the point where it is too much like what Comey did to Hillary Clinton.
And so I think there are some things we need to look at but I do think we have to give him the benefit of the doubt in terms of not bringing cases. It takes time to build these cases and to find out, to investigate them.
So I`m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and to keep encouraging him though to do exactly as you`re saying, to be more aggressive and not to continue to follow the policies that were set by Donald Trump`s administration when they did all sorts of things right.
And I just want to point out also that the classified information that was the subject of this leak was declassified by the Trump administration. So it is not even important stuff.
WINE-BANKS: It should not have been a continuing thing that Barr brought back after the original prosecutors said, there`s really nothing here. We can`t link anything (INAUDIBLE) to these people, so drop it. That is what they should have done (INAUDIBLE) leak.
REID: Yes. And the thing that worries people I think, Matt, is that the lack of aggressiveness means that, you know, Barr won`t be held to account. If he broke laws or violated the law in some way in his tenure and Donald Trump as well. I think that is the concern is, that the institutionalists will let them all get away with it.
MILLER: You know, it is really tough at the department to get the balance right. I can tell you on the inside that there is a culture there always pushing you to defend the presidency, the president, executive branch at any cost to keep things secret, and I think times he has leaned too far in that direction.
At other times you know, for example, the media subpoenas that have caused so much consternation over the last few weeks, those are public because the Justice Department, I assume, by Merrick Garland`s decision, went and notified the press after the Barr department kept those secrets for years. So there are times where they are putting information out. I think they`re going to have to do more of that.
And as it comes to accountability, look. The hardest, the thing that everything wants is accountability. And we look over and over again where are we going to find it. And I think hoping for criminal accountability, I think that`s a high bar to set. I mean, it`s going to be very hard to prove that Bill Barr committed a crime. There are a lot of things you can do to abuse your power as the attorney general that aren`t actual crimes.
And so in the absence of criminal accountability if we can`t have that, if it doesn`t exist, the way we get accountability is transparency so at least the public can see what happened, we can have a record to try to ensure to the best of our ability that it never happens again.
REID: Right, and, Malcolm, I`ll give you the last word on this. Because, you know, I sort of think of the previous administration as a regime because they behaved like one. And when these regimes are allowed to get away with anything they want, including open, naked corruption, like what we`re seeing emerge day after day as revelations about the way they operated, including Bill Barr, what are the consequences of that, generally?
NANCE: Well, you know, I am a big believer in the, it`s all going to come out, school of thought with regards to the Trump administration. It`s just you have to understand they don`t care if it comes out after the 2022 election. While they`re litigating these things, while their lawyers are arguing these things, while the attorney general is being as slow and deliberative as possible, they understand that institutionalists are the kinds of people they want in there.
Let`s just look at, you know, Robert Mueller, for example, because they know they can manipulate the politics around these things. By tomorrow morning, they`re going to be all over the news media saying that this is the same, this is nothing worse -- you know, nothing more than what Barack Obama did spying on Donald Trump and creating these false equivalencies.
Look, just because a previous attorney general did it, we have an attorney general who literally covered up the breast of the statue of justice, doesn`t mean that we should maintain that tarp over the institution. Tear it down. Make it public. The attorney general himself should be announcing these things.
REID: It`s all going to come out. I think that is a good mantra for the previous administration. Matt Miller, Jill Wine-Banks, Malcolm Nance, thank you all very much.
Up next on THE REIDOUT, you can`t impeach him this time, so what will Congress do about this latest revelation of Trump`s abuses of power.
Plus, the consequences of the big lie, political leaders and their families are still threatened with death for speaking out against Trump and the election theft lies.
And guess what, Democrats? Fighting back works, case in point, the walk out by Texas Democrats over the voter suppression bill there. I`ll explain.
Also, remember this cringe worthy moment during a previous presidential visit with the royal family? Now unmistaken the Biden`s are bringing dignity back on their first presidential foreign trip.
THE REIDOUT continues after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, we`re looking at them very -- very, very serious.
I have gone to all of the folks in charge of the various agencies, and where I have actually called the Justice Department to look into the leaks. Those are criminal leaks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: While Trump directing his Justice Department to spy on Democrats is entirely disgraceful, it`s not remotely surprising. Just as he told America that he`d asked the DOJ to investigate leaks, he also frequently broadcast his willingness to abuse his power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have said I`m going to stay away from the Justice Department, so I have wanted to stay away. Now, that doesn`t mean I have to, because I don`t have to. I can get involved.
I want them to do their job. I will get involved. And I will get in there if I have to.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from, but, at some point, I won`t.
I have an Article 2, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president. But I don`t even talk about that.
You know, the saddest thing is that, because I`m the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I`m not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I`m not supposed to be doing the kinds of things that I would love to be doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: I`m joined now by former Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill and Charlie Sykes, editor at large of The Bulwark.
And, Claire, this warped view of power that Donald Trump had was bad enough. He didn`t understand politics. He just thought being president was like being a king. That would be bad enough. But to have someone like Barr that believed basically the same thing, it`s actually frightening.
We sort of -- we -- and not even sort of -- we really dodged a bullet when it comes to autocracy. Your thoughts?
Well, actually, before -- before you give your thoughts, let me give Adam Schiff his thoughts. Then I`m going to get your thoughts. Here`s Adam Schiff.
CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: OK.
REID: He was on Rachel Maddow`s show last night. Here`s Adam Schiff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): That is, I think, a terrible abuse of power. It violates, I think, the separation of powers. But it also makes the Department of Justice just a fully owned subsidiary of the president`s personal legal interests and political interests.
And that does such damage to the department. It`s hard to express just how shocking an abuse of power this really is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: That`s Congressman Adam Schiff.
Your thoughts, Claire?
MCCASKILL: Well, we now have Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions both saying publicly they didn`t know about this, that they did not know that the power of the Department of Justice was used to snoop on and go fishing amongst a myriad of staff, members of Congress and their families and even a minor child.
So now we have a really scary situation. If they`re telling the truth, which, hopefully, the congressional investigation will find out, then we have people in the Department of Justice that did this without the sign-off of the top levels of the Department of Justice.
Now, that`s when -- this is a moment, Joy -- we`re all worn slick by scandal, but this is the moment where the Republican members of Congress have to do a gut-check and say, wait a minute, this isn`t about Donald Trump overstepping power. This isn`t about the Republican Party or the Democratic Party.
This is about the fundamentals of our Constitution, in terms of protecting the equal branches of government. And if the Republicans on that Judiciary Committee want to ignore this, when you have both Barr and Sessions saying they don`t know, I don`t want to hear another word from them about the overreach of big government.
They all love to be -- righteously pontificate about, oh, the overreach of big government. This is the definition of an unconstitutional overreach of big government. So they have to shut up about the overreach of big government if they`re not going to step up and participate in subpoenaing all the information and ruining the careers and finding people to prosecute who actually carried out this policy.
REID: Well, you know, and they...
MCCASKILL: Sorry. I got carried away.
REID: No, no, that`s -- you`re absolutely -- your righteous indignation is very much appropriate.
And now it shall meet my doubt, because here`s the problem.
And, Charlie, I`ll throw this to you, because Claire is absolutely right, obviously right, right? This should have -- I remember when there was the whole controversy during the Bush II administration about the government going and using backdoor ways to get into the Internet to do metadata searches on Americans. And the outrage was bipartisan. Left and right, people were outraged and disgusted by it.
But now what you have is this fealty to Trump. And let me play you -- not that we -- we have played a lot more Trump than I normally play on this show, just to be honest. But here he is again, another little clip that you all remember when he said this. Take a listen. This is Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: But when they did to me, whether it`s surveillance or a much stronger term, because I believe it was a much stronger term than that -- and a lot of other people do -- no, nobody politicized the Justice Department more than Barack Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE BULWARK: Yes.
REID: So, I mean, Malcolm Nance in the previous segment predicted that, instead of doing what Claire just said, which is the right thing to do, what Republicans are going to do is repeat that and say, no, what we really want to investigate is, who was spying on Trump?
And first of all, I mean, Republicans have already done a gut-check. And we know how that`s turned out.
Look, I actually don`t think that the focus should be on the Department of Justice here. The focus should be on the abuse of power by the president of the United States and how close a run thing -- how close this thing was to autocracy.
Look, I think the Congress needs to do three things. Three things need to happen. Number one, they need to have aggressive investigations into this. I think that will happen. Number two, I do think that one of the things we learned over the last four years was that the guardrails protecting us from an imperial presidency were incredibly weak.
We had a norm-busting president who showed how much of our system was based on the honor system. So I think that we need to have a presidential accountability act that perhaps they could call the Never Again Trump Act that would strengthen Congress` ability to hold a president accountable, would strengthen the safeguards against nepotism, would rein in the pardon power, would require more financial disclosure from the president, and would prevent the kind of interference in -- and obstruction of justice that this president has done.
Now, that`s not, unfortunately, going to be sufficient. So, in addition to the investigation, in additions to legislation that will actually strengthen Congress` role vis-a-vis the president, I do think that, quite frankly, the Justice Department needs to revisit whether or not it is going to hold Donald Trump criminally accountable for his actions.
Unless Donald Trump faces legal consequences, then I`m not sure that we will ever rein in this runaway presidency.
So, yes, investigate. We need to legislate. And I also think that we need possibly to revisit the question of indicting. Remember when Bob Mueller was asked the question when he was testifying, and he said why they could not indict a sitting president. He was directly asked, can you indict someone after they have left the presidency?
And do you remember his answer? It was a one word answer. He said yes.
SYKES: So we need to focus on what we just experienced, a president of the United States who was prepared to abuse his power, who, in fact, may run again.
And just imagine what a second Donald Trump term would be like, if he was completely untrammeled and unchecked by legislation, public opinion or Congress.
REID: Yes, it would be for life. I don`t think he would ever leave.
I mean, Claire, here`s the challenge, is that the idea of the unitary executive is not exactly new. Dick Cheney believed in it. We saw manifestations of it during Bush II. The presidency has been getting more and more and more powerful. And Congress has been really pretty willingly ceding so much more of its constitutional authority to presidents for decades.
And then you get somebody who says, I have got Article 2, that means I can do whatever I want. You kind of get the ultimate nightmare. But it is sort of the logical nightmare because of where the presidency has been going.
Is it too late to try to rein in the presidency? Because Charlie`s right. If it`s Trump or if it`s someone like -- if Josh Hawley gets in there, imagine. Imagine what somebody more intelligent than Trump could do with that kind of abuse of power.
MCCASKILL: Well, first of all, it wouldn`t be hard to get somebody more intelligent than Trump. So that`s a pretty low bar.
REID: Firm, but fair. Firm, but fair.
MCCASKILL: But here`s the thing.
I actually believe that one of the reasons Congress has ceded so much power is because Congress has become so dysfunctional. And unless and until the members of Congress decide to start legislating again, to actually rein in -- now, in the Trump administration, Congress blocked his funding for the wall. And, by the way, that wouldn`t have been possible if Republicans had supported funding the wall in the Senate.
But there was a huge number of Republicans in the Senate that didn`t want to fund that wall. The president did it anyway, and he suffered no consequences. So you`re right, Joy. This has been a march towards unfettered, unaccountable power in the presidency.
This incident ought to be the spark that really wakes up the Republicans and makes them realize that, if they don`t speak up now, they really are beginning to become completely irrelevant in this. What good is having power if you can`t do anything with it because you have a presidency that has totally usurped yours?
And the worry, though, is -- Charlie, is this sort of late stage Bolshevism, which I just think is such a great description of what the Republican Party is, sort of `70s era Bolshevism.
REID: They seem to be willing to cede all the power to an autocrat to hold onto whatever little fiefdoms they think they`re going to get.
Is the -- I personally -- it looks to me like the Republican Party`s too far gone to walk back, because they know they have to win with minority rule. They know they can`t win a majority of the popular vote. So they`re going to keep trying all of these ways to do minority rule.
How do you end up with anything other than an autocrat if another Republican wins?
SYKES: No, I do think this Republican Party may be too gone.
But, again, to put this in a little bit of historical context, because conservative Republicans have been warning against the imperial presidency for decades, right? They have been warning against government overreach, as Senator McCaskill mentioned.
This was a tenet of their faith, that the concentration and centralization of power was dangerous, and then dangerous to the constitutional -- the constitutional order, including checks and balances.
And their willingness to go along with all of the norms that Donald Trump broke, their willingness to surrender to this march of the presidency.
And you`re right. This has been happening under Democrats and under Republicans. The long trajectory here has been Congress ceding its power, the presidency becoming more and more powerful.
If you don`t have a Republican Party that is even willing to give lip service to reining in this out-of-control executive, then we`re in a very dangerous situation, because they are all in on this, and there`s no willingness or appetite, I think, to push back if, in fact, you do get a second Trump term, or if you get somebody like Josh Hawley, or other Trump wannabes who, in fact, have the same view of the presidency that Donald Trump has, and that the Mitch McConnells and the Kevin McCarthys are apparently willing to ratify.
REID: Yes, I`m assuming that what they will do is, they will try to do the whole rein in the presidency when it`s a Democrat, when it`s Joe Biden, and then let the presidency run wild if they get another Republican, because that seems to be the way things are going.
And it`s Tom Nichols. Let me give Tom Nichols credit for the late-stage Bolshevism thing. I didn`t give him credit for it yesterday, so I`m going to give him credit for it tonight.
Claire McCaskill, Charlie Sykes, thank you both. Have a great weekend.
Before we go to break, a quick congratulations to Darnella Frazier. She is the Minnesota team who recorded George Floyd`s murder last summer. She`s now been awarded an honorary Pulitzer Prize for her video, which spurred protests against police brutality around the world.
Well done, Darnella. You`re a brave young woman with a bright future.
Up next, tonight`s absolute worst. Stay with us.
REID: The Oxford definition of terrorism is the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.
I want you to keep that in the back of your mind while I tell you about new reporting from Reuters that details the torrent of truly disturbing Trump- inspired texts, voice-mails and e-mails that election workers and top officials have received as a result of Trump`s fraudulent claims of a rigged election.
More than a dozen people provided Reuters with evidence that included threats of hanging, firing squads, torture, and bombings. One of the targets of those threats was Tricia Raffensperger, the wife of the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger.
You will recall Trump urged Raffensperger to find enough votes to overturn his loss in Georgia, which is illegal. Tricia Raffensperger provided Reuters with some of the text messages she received shortly after the election.
One warned: "You and your family will be killed very slowly."
Another warned her husband -- quote -- "Keep opposing the audit of Fulton`s 2020 election ballots, and somebody is going to have an unfortunate accident."
At one point, Raffensperger`s family went into hiding after someone broke into their daughter-in-law`s house. That same night, the Oath Keepers, a far right militia group that has supported Trump`s bid to overturn the election, were found outside the Raffenspergers` home.
Violent threats were also made to lower-level election workers. Here`s one recording of many that the Fulton County elections director received.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to get your act together, or people like me will really -- may go after people like you. It`s -- there will be a riot, I think, somewhere.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
REID: These violent threats have gone national.
Katie Hobbs, Arizona`s secretary of state is getting death threats to this day because of her opposition to the fraudulent and dangerous election review happening in her state. Arizona has become the big lie mecca, hosting delegations of Republicans from Georgia, Alaska, Colorado, and Virginia, just to name a few, looking to spread these legally dubious, undemocratic sideshows to their own states.
Yesterday, Wisconsin Republicans announced that they were sending a delegation to Arizona. The trip will be paid for by a group called Voices and Votes, which is run by -- wait for it -- former Trump administration official and current OAN host Christina Bobb and Chanel Rion, the OAN White House correspondent.
They are also hoping to fund -- they`re also helping to fund the fraudit in Arizona. Oh, and also Arizona State Republicans gave the far right fringe network the only livestream of the show.
Today, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he would expand the Justice Department`s voting rights unit, vowing to scrutinize those audits and onerous Republican voting laws that were recently passed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We are scrutinizing new laws that seek to curb voter access. And where we see violations, we will not hesitate to act.
We will apply the same scrutiny to post-election audits to ensure they abide by federal statutory requirements to protect election records and avoid the intimidation of voters.
Finally, we have not been blind to the dramatic increase in menacing and violent threats against all manner of state and local election workers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Meanwhile, the Trump-backed big lie, which is still coursing through the veins of the Republican Party, and all of you still drinking the Kool- Aid of election lies, you all are the absolute worst.
Thankfully, some Democrats are fighting back, though, and scoring some wins. And I will show you how after the break.
REID: Republicans have launched an all-out assault on democracy.
And with the stalled prospects for passing the For the People Act and the John Lewis Act, it sometimes feels like we`re powerless to fight back, but not so.
Independent journalist Judd Legum points out the Texas Democrats successfully fought back against a terrible suppressive voting bill by walking out. Now Republicans say that they`re going to remove sections of the bill that would have limited voting hours and would have allowed Texas judges to void an election based on dubious evidence.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate, Chris Murphy of Connecticut points out that D.C. Democrats are not at the mercy of Republicans, tweeting: "Why let Republicans decide the size of an infrastructure bill, when reconciliation is a perfectly legitimate process used unapologetically by the GOP when they were in power to do a bill that will actually make a difference? It`s not cheating to use the rules."
Here`s the question. When will Senate Democrats actually pull a Texas-style stand-up for democracy? TBD.
I`m joined now by Jason Johnson, professor of politics and journalism at Morgan State University, and Susan Del Percio, Republican strategist.
And, Jason, let me go to you on this first, because what happened in Texas is that what you would think could happen in theory in D.C. The Democrats just said no, walked out, denied a quorum. And now what`s happening is you have Republicans going, whoa, whoa, whoa, Souls to the Polls Sunday, we didn`t need to take that out. That was a typo.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, this idea that a judge could overturn an election is actually abominable. That`s one of the guys who wrote the bill calling his own provisions abominable.
The message to me is, the bullies try to take your lunch money, give them a good slapping around, and they leave you alone.
JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Joy, that`s completely true.
And I could go into all sorts of mythological hagiography about how tough people are in Texas, but they really are sending a message to Democrats in Washington, D.C. For all the times the Democrats can take a knee and selfie from doing sit-ins and wear kente cloth, at the end of the day, they haven`t really shown an ability to fight when it comes to serious and important issues.
And here`s the thing. That fighting should actually begin within their own caucus. Whether it`s Sinema or Manchin or Feinstein, they need to surround these folks on a regular basis and say, this is what we`re going to do, this is how it`s going to happen. Otherwise, there will be consequences for you in a way that`s going to make you very, very uncomfortable.
That is where the fight needs to begin, because we already know where the Republicans are. The Democrats seem to have this difficulty of herding cats on issues that should be very easy for every single one of them to appreciate and for their constituents to benefit from.
REID: And, Susan, it just -- it seems to be really mainly Senate Democrats in D.C., because you look in Georgia, Stacey Abrams, Democrats fight like hell around the country. They don`t play around.
Val Demings, Val Demings is not weak. She`s going to fight like hell. It just seems or something going on with Senate Democrats.
I want you to just tell me, as a Republican strategist at one point, how long would it have taken Republicans to put all the stuff they wanted on a reconciliation bill, without having any conversations with 20 Democrats in a "get things done caucus" or whatever they call themselves?
How long would it have taken, eight seconds, nine seconds, 10?
SUSAN DEL PERCIO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Under 10.
But what else -- you know what else would have done by now, because they already in essence did it? They would have blown up the filibuster.
DEL PERCIO: Let`s not forget -- let`s not forget, when it came to the Supreme Court in October last year, the Senate majority leader then, McConnell, who sometimes still we see is acting more like a leader than Chuck Schumer, which is a separate issue, he changed the rules for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
You don`t think he would do that next Tuesday if he could? I mean, so right there -- now, and it`s nice to say that, yes, playing by the rules is not cheating. Play by the rules, but use the rules to your advantage, because that`s where we are right now.
The other thing I would consider is putting stuff up for a vote. You know what? You want to see how bipartisan works -- bipartisanship works if you`re Joe Manchin. Put up S.R.4, which doesn`t really exist yet because the House hasn`t introduced it this session, but, if they did, see how many votes you get.
What are you going to do with 54? So, now what are you going to do?
DEL PERCIO: Now you going to reintroduce it, or are you going to try and get rid of the filibuster?
DEL PERCIO: Because that`s the problem that Democrats have right now, is that they`re not forcing the issue every single time. And that`s exactly what the Republicans would do.
REID: And do it in a way that it`s on TV.
I mean, Jason, it`s absolutely right. You have now the hemming and hawing going back and forth. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michael Bennet of Colorado warning Biden not to compromise too much on the things like tax increases for top earners or -- and mitigating climate change in the bill.
You have Ed Markey saying, no climate, no vote, I ain`t voting for it. You`re having all this hemming and hawing inside the Democratic Caucus, which makes no sense. They`re negotiating against themselves.
REID: I don`t understand why they`re bothering to do that.
REID: Do you?
JOHNSON: Well, no, no, I don`t.
But this is one of the reasons why Democrats continue to fail, right? They get these amazing opportunities, and then they fail to actually do what their constituents have asked them to do, and instead want to negotiate with a small minority.
And this is the thing that I have said all along. And it doesn`t just have to do with reconciliation. It has to do with individual policies. It has to do with negotiation. It has to do with judges.
I will say this, Joy. I was saying this during the 2020 election. If you want to look at the long-term strategy of the Republican Party, it`s always been voter suppression and judges. Rather than sending Vice President Harris down to the border, I said, Joe Biden should have said, you know what, Vice President Harris? You`re a brilliant lawyer.
I want you to go through every single judge that Donald Trump got into office, look at their applications with a fine-tooth comb, and let`s impeach any of them that forgot to cross an I or dot a T.
That`s the kind of thing that an empowered president would do. Get rid of the long-term impediments to democracy that Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party have been putting together for 20 years. They won`t have power for that long. We don`t know what happens in 2022.
But Democrats seem to think that they have this forever runway to get some Midwestern guy in a diner in Lorain, Ohio to say, gosh darn it, I guess I am OK with these rights for now. That`s never going to happen.
REID: It is not.
And maybe, Susan, it`s because Republicans, as Jason said, just want two things, judges and tax cuts, right, and voter suppression -- three things. And, as Chris Hayes has said, they have the advantage of being able to filibuster everything they hate, but pass everything they like, meaning judges and tax cuts, through with 50 votes.
I don`t understand how we have wound up in that situation. But how do we get out of it? What would -- we`re doing, what would a Republican do? Tell us, please.
DEL PERCIO: Well, but here`s the thing. They don`t -- those things are fine. Yes, they want it.
But what do they really want? They want to win. With those things, they win.
DEL PERCIO: That`s what they`re looking for.
And that`s the difference. They want to win. And they are saying, I can win with voter suppression, I can win with judges, and I can raise money with tax cuts. That allows me to win. That`s the...
REID: There you go. To win. That`s it.
And you know how Democrats win? Pass all that stuff that you said you were going to pass when you were running. If you pass all that stuff, I don`t care how you pass it. Pass it. That`s how you win.
Jason Johnson. Susan Del Percio.
Up next: The Bidens meet the Windsors. The first couple mingled with senior royals and other world leaders at the grand opening ceremony of the G7 conference, without causing any international embarrassments. What a difference a year makes.
The shocking normalcy of President Biden`s debut on the world stage is next day. Stay with us.
REID: Isn`t it great to have a normal president, one who doesn`t fill you with anxiety every time he does anything?
Because that`s what we saw today in the United Kingdom, as the first couple, Joe and Jill Biden arrived holding hands, as the G7 summit formally kicked off, greeting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife with a COVID-friendly elbow bump.
The leaders of the world`s advanced economies also posed for their customary family photo before the first session. If everybody looks more relaxed, even while socially distanced, it`s because you know who isn`t there.
And President Biden`s diplomacy looks a little more familiar, along with the royal pomp and circumstance. The first lady met with Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, visiting a school, a class of 4- and 5-year-old, stressing the importance of early childhood education. Hard to imagine the "I really don`t care, do you?" first lady doing that.
But, anyhoo, the biggest surprise of the day came as 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth joined leaders for a reception on climate change, along with her son and grandson and their spouses. The leaders took a second family photo with the queen center stage, President Biden seated off to the right, no jockeying for position from the American president this visit.
And the British Embassy released a photo of the queen speaking with the first couple during the royal reception, and, from the looks of it, enjoying themselves.
The queen`s visit to the G7, and with her family, at that, is a departure from her first meeting with the former president. The queen greeted him alone at Windsor Castle, and he promptly broke royal protocol by walking in front of the monarch, a major no-no.
For a second visit in 2019, he brought his ill-fitting formal wear and his four adult children, who Instagrammed themselves ahead of a state banquet they had no business attending.
Of course, looming over President Biden`s trip is his meeting next week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
NBC`s Keir Simmons sat down with him today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Even now, I believe that former U.S. President Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual, talented individual. Otherwise, he would not have become U.S. president.
President Biden, of course, is radically different from Trump, because President Biden is a career man. He has spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics, a different kind of person. And it is my great hope that, yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any impulse-based movements on behalf of the sitting U.S. president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Meanwhile, the greatest indication that it`s a new world order at this year`s G7, there`s no diaper-clad baby Trump balloon.
But there is the Biden and Boris blimp. Advocacy groups floated the caricatures of the two leaders holding hands in swim trunks of their national flags, waving to those ashore.
And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts -- tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick -- in like 10 seconds -- now.