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Transcript: The ReidOut, 6/21/21

Guests: Beto O`Rourke, Kimberle Crenshaw, Al Franken, Angela Rye

Summary

January 6 court filing exposes FBI intelligence failures. More evidence and details from January 6 continue to come out. GOP Senator Johnson says, no guns recovered so protesters weren`t armed. GOP is trying to rewrite the January 6 insurrection. FBI asks insurrectionist if he has connections to any Congress members or staffers. GOP Senator Johnson booed at Juneteenth celebration after putting hold on holiday. Tomorrow, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will bring the For the People Act, the transformative voting rights reform bill to the floor for a vote.

Transcript

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: But then I then realized that`s supposed to be like eight servings, so I feel you.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: I wished that I could do that. I just eat it all. I just finished it all. Thank you very much. I appreciate it -- the whole tub, it`s just gone.

MELBER: Thanks, Joy.

REID: Thank you very much, Ari. I appreciate it. Have a wonderful rest of your evening.

All right, good evening everyone. We have a lot to get to on this busy Monday. In a little while, I will speak with Beto O`Rourke about what`s going on down in Texas where a Republican governor is pushing opposition to critical race theory and support for voter suppression in an effort to churn up outrage among the Republican voters. Meanwhile, Democrats in Washington plan to go forward with a major voting rights bill this week but with not a lot of specifics about what happens next.

But we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with what is looking more and more like a major intelligence failure on the part of the FBI ahead of the January 6th insurrection. FBI Director Christopher Wray testified last week, that the bureau had not seen any actionable intelligence that a mob would descend on Capitol Hill.

But a new court filing seems to contradict that. NBC`s Ken Dilanian reports, that in FBI agent acknowledged in February, that it investigate -- an February investigative report, that angry Trump supporters were talking openly in the days before the siege about bringing guns to the Capitol to start a revolution.

The FBI document doesn`t say whether the FBI`s review of social media posts were conducted before or after January 6th. But it raises question either way. If the FBI didn`t know about the social media posts, then what exactly where they doing? And if they did know, why didn`t they take any action to warn anyone?

The FBI has charged 40 individuals with using deadly or dangerous weapons or causing serious bodily injury to officers. The FBI has arrested around 465 people so far in question, in connection with the insurrection and we`re continuing to learn more and more from their court hearings.

This morning, Hunter Palm pled not guilty to charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. The FBI provided screen shots from a video Palm took in which he`s seen approaching a laptop in the speaker`s conference room, asking who is good at hacking. He later put his feet up on the table saying, I think I like my new dining room. I pay for it.

We`re also learning more about another defendant, Ryan Samsel, he`s charged with forcibly assaulting a Capitol Police officer and knocking her unconscious. He appeared in court today seeking a jail transfer. Samsel has past convictions for holding a victim against her will for five hours, choking her to the point of unconsciousness, as well as choking and beating his pregnant girlfriend.

And joining me now is Scott MacFarlane, NBC 4 Washington Investigative Reporter, Clint Watts, former FBI Special Agent and MSNBC National Security Analyst, and Charlie Sykes, Editor-at-Large for the Bulwark and MSNBC Columnist. And thank you all for being here.

Scott, I want to start with you. You`ve been doing some great reporting. I`ve been watching you on some other shows. Bring us up to date on these prosecutions that specifically deal with violent individuals, including the man with his feet up on the speaker`s desk and this other gentleman who seems to be extremely violent toward women.

SCOTT MACFARLANE, NBC 4 WASHINTON INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Hey, Joy, good evening. The latest man charged with having his feet up on the desk in Nancy Pelosi`s office suite, he is the second of two. And there are untold number of defendants at this point who either mentioned, threatened or used vulgar terms for Nancy Pelosi.

Let`s start with that, but let`s also transition to the other defendant who`s have misogyny at the root of their cases. Ryan Samsel is one of them. You mentioned it. Samsel is not only accused of knocking a female Capitol Police officer unconscious on January 6th, but the fed say he`s done so on multiple occasions with a multiple women I the past and been convicted of it.

There`s another case, Brian Mock of Minnesota, he`s in court here tomorrow, can ask for his release from jail. Defense says not only did he not go for a police officer on January 6th but, Joy, they say in 2009, he held a gun to the heads of children. And when a woman intervened to try to stop him, they say he assaulted the woman and used a five-letter vulgarity, threatening her. So you see this repetition and this pattern, Joy, where misogyny and mistreatment of women is the root or the antecedent to what we saw so viciously, so ferociously on January 6th.

REID: You know, and, Clint Watts can you talk a little bit about that because you do have these organizations. And we`re not saying that any of these people are necessarily members of them, but is there a strain of misogyny that goes along with what can also be called racism, anti-black feeling, feeling that people of color are not legitimate voters. But can you talk a little bit about what do you make of the fact that misogyny is sort of creeping up in some of these prosecutions?

CLINT WATTS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Joy, it`s been going on for several years and it really mixes with what I call stochasticators (ph), which are online extremists which get together in these forums and they hate everything except for white men. I mean, you could really lump them all together. If they find one thing they don`t like, they tend to find another.

In a lot of the white supremacist forums, it almost always is a misogynist group that has what we call incel, involuntary celibate individuals in it. And they are all aligned and mash up together and rile each other up. So it is not surprising, whatsoever. I think in terms of -- when you look at this moment across the board, whether it is in the online space or the Proud Boys, Proud Girls, you will find there is a lot of misogyny in the ranks of these extremists.

REID: And can I just dig a little bit deeper into that, Clint Watts, because we`ve seen that same sort of incel behavior pop up in mass shootings in a similar profile or at least some demographic profile with some of those groups. Now, we`ve had the FBI working proactively to try to get inside of extremist groups that could cause violence at other times. Does it surprise you that they seem to be so unprepared if these kinds of groups had online chatter and were declaring -- and the former president declared that they were all going to converge on the Capitol on January 6th. Does it surprise you that they seem completely unprepared or at least the Capitol -- or they didn`t prepared Capitol Police?

WATTS: Yes. I think in terms of the Capitol, they did not see themselves as the protectors of the Capitol in the sense they are a homeland security or domestic response force. I think oftentimes it gets confused there about half as many FBI that around the country as there are NYPD officer in New York City. So in terms of scale, sometimes I think people get a distorted view from television and movies that there is an FBI agent on every corner.

In terms of online space as well, almost everything now is an online sort of association. And the biggest impediment for the FBI or Department of Homeland Security for that matter, to go up actively on social media and look at these groups to try to detect the extremism is that there`s no domestic terrorism law or resulting organizational designation. If these were an Al Qaeda or ISIS-inspired movement, you would have seen enormous triggers that would have set off agents running in all corners of the United States.

You would have seen also that anybody involved in helping or assisting people get to a violent event would be charged with material support. All of that really falls away, so it leaves the FBI always in a reactive posture where they -- you see this even in the intel reports, to say, we`re nervous that we`re watching protected free speech because we don`t know where the line is to violence.

And you`ll see Director Wray talk about policing violence. He`s trying to emphasize police violence. It is about two strides inside the Capitol where that goes from freedom of assembly to I`m going to try to kill Mike Pence.

REID: And the other thing here, Charlie Sykes, is sort of unsaid, is that, you know, you had this transition going from the Trump administration to the Biden administration. And it feels like there was a reluctance to direct any sort of law enforcement force or sort of forceful presence at Trump supporters. And that sort of goes unsaid.

But let me talk a little bit about that because there is the politics that are inextricable or you can`t disentangle them. Here is Ron Johnson, who`s a big apologist from these people that he hid from on January 6th, here he is lying about whether or not they were an armed threat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): By the way, they always talk about thousands of armed insurrectionists. I asked the FBI witness, not one, not one gun was recovered either in the Capitol or on the Capitol grounds, according that FBI witness. So that is just one of the latest big lies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: I mean, the prosecutions are going to prove him wrong. And so why do you think he continues to try to make this pretense work?

CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC COLUMNIST: Well, I just heard a phrase today. Philip Cadic, the science fiction writer, used the phrase, contact lunacy. And I think a lot of these folks may not have been crazy before all this began but they`ve had so much contact with it that has driven them over the edge.

I don`t have another explanation for Ron Johnson who has to see the same pictures that we`ve seen. If he is following Scott`s reporting, if he`s following what`s happening with the courts, you know how violent this was. To continue to deny it is amazing.

And you raise an interesting question, by the way, about the politics. Because earlier today, I went through some of my notes about the run-up to January 6th and really was struck by how easy it was to know that something bad was going to happen.

REID: Yes.

SYKES: There was a major Stop the Steal rally in Washington, D.C. on November 14th that turned violent. There were protests the night before that turned violent. The president was urging people to come in saying, this is going to be wild. But I have no background in intelligence and law enforcement. But I`m reading social media, and I`m seeing what people are saying about the insurrection, about the need to storm the Capitol, about the need to spill the blood of tyrants. So this was happening in plain sight.

So I don`t know what was going on but it was a massive intelligence failure. And I think you raise an important question, because one of the things that we didn`t know before January 6th, before January 20th, was whether or not the president was going to fire the FBI director. There were a lot of folks in Trump world who wanted him to fire Chris Wray and to bring somebody in.

So was Chris Wray paralyzed, was he looking over his shoulder knowing that if he was more forceful about this, that if he did raise the alarm, that he might be out of the job? That`s certainly possible. And that`s another reason why we so desperately need a non-partisan independent January 6th commission. Because only through something like that, we`ll I think get to the truth, and on why all of these very open, very dramatic signals were missed and ignored.

REID: That is very difficult. Before I get back to Scott, I still have another question for you. But, Clint, I can`t get pass that myself. I mean, I was hearing the same thing. Every law enforcement friend I have, every person I know was saying, be careful. Don`t be in D.C. around January 6th. I was hearing that and I`m just here talking on T.V. And I hear everyone understood that something bad was going to happen.

And I can only imagine if Black Lives Matter activists have been making the same kind of noises, which you`ve never seen them do that. But even when they just say, they`re going to be somewhere, they`re just going to protest peacefully somewhere, the amount of armament that`s there, the amount of tanks that are there, the amount of police that are there, unmarked police that are throwing people into cars, just because Black Lives Matter says they`re coming somewhere, it is hard for me to accept that there was nothing that anyone in law enforcement could do.

WATTS: I think the challenge, Joy, was the boss was the one leading the charge. I mean, he was out on the lawn that day and he said, let`s go to the Capitol. And that really did slow everything down. If you look at the Defense Department, their slow response, that was because of the disaster that happened last summer, in the previous summer during Black Lives Matter protests. They didn`t want to get caught in that jam again.

For Director Wray, I think Charlie is exactly right. He was probably trying to avoid being fired in the final days up until the inauguration. Because separate from this, there was Russian interference and the election, which was the top priority for the FBI in terms foreign interference, they were very concentrated on that.

Also we tend to forget that in the days leading up to the actual election day, the FBI had the broken up Michigan militia plot against Governor Whitmer. They also did several disruptive arrests against white supremacist.

Now ,they had some sort of probable cause which allowed them to maneuver that in a very dangerous one at that. I think this again goes to the point of, if you have online mobs that are stirring each other up, whether it`s the Arab Spring ten years has caught everyone by surprise, or this one, where you see everybody rallying at the Capitol. You have to build the system where you can talk about it and you can detect it.

This is going to be a huge battle on Capitol Hill, because if you listen to Josh Hawley, when Director Wray went there, right after January 6th, he was asking Director Wray under one auspices were you getting cell phone records for people that have already broken into the Capitol?

So from his perspective, I think he`s trying to balance the tide and weather through the system. But, ultimately, we have to decide whether we`re going to allow the FBI to watch on social media and what are we going to designate as a domestic terrorist.

REID: And we should note that I think Enrique Tarrio, the head of the Proud Boys, was told stay away from D.C. and that day he had been arrested for having gun magazines up.

Scott MacFarlane, you`ve reported before about some of the questions that are being asked about whether or not people had connections or were having conversations with political figures, with elected officials. Do you know whether name like Ron Johnson, names like Josh Hawley have come up in those questions by the FBI?

MACFARLANE: Well, Joy, we know the questions being asked. We got ourselves our hands on the FBI transcript of their interrogation of Thomas Webster, the retired New York Police officer accused of beating a D.C. police officer January 6th. And they asked him. Do you have any connections to far-right groups, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, 3 Percenters? Do you know any members of or any congressional staff, such a pivotal question. But the response from him is no.

But I`ll add this. The allegations laid out by federal prosecutors make quite unequivocal. This was an armed insurrection. By my count, at least three defendants were carrying in the mob, according to prosecutors that day. In fact, that doesn`t count whoever left the pipe bombs at the RNC and DNC, Joy.

REID: Yes, absolutely. Well, it remains fascinating. And we`re going to keep -- this whole panel here is going to be definitely be invited back.

Before we go, speaking of Ron Johnson, we called his name, let`s show you what he was up to over Juneteenth weekend. He decided after having initially blocked the Juneteenth bill in terms of making Juneteenth a holiday, that he would show up at the Juneteenth event in his home state and here`s the reception he got.

Charlie, last word, can you get your head around why he would show up to that?

SYKES: No, it didn`t go well. Maybe he was hoping the people wouldn`t know that he was the one senator who had held up the holiday for one year. He did that singlehandedly. So it took a good deal of chutzpa to show up for the holiday that he had been standing in the school house door blocking for all those months. It shouldn`t have been surprised that he was going to get that kind of reception.

REID: Yes. Well, he maybe he also trying to may be send a message of sort of contempt. I don`t know what he was trying to do, but anyway he showed up.

Scott MacFarlane, Clint Watts, Charlie Sykes, thank you all very much.

Still ahead on THE REIDOUT, Republicans nationwide are drooling over a virtual feast of cultural outbreak being served up by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. I`ll talk with Beto O`Rourke next.

Then there`s the behind the scenes push to pack all that outrage into great big old box labeled critical race theory, the woman who actually coined that phrase will join me.

And big showdowns brewing on Capitol Hill this week as Democrats push for voting rights protections and infrastructure spending.

All that, plus tonight`s absolute worst, that involve American tourists, Guantanamo Bay and one of the dumbest things an American president has ever said.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: This will be a major week for voting rights in Washington.

Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on whether to move forward to debating the For the People Act. In recent weeks, Texas has been the center of the voting battle. And Governor Greg Abbott took a break from feasting on culture wars for some Trumpian petty.

He vetoed part of the state`s budget funding the state legislature as punishment for Texas Democrats, who stood together to block that state`s draconian voter suppression bill with a walkout last month. Legislators` pay will be withheld starting September 1.

In just the last week, Abbott has been almost singularly focused on feeding the GOP rage machine. He signed a law banning critical race theory from being taught in public schools, a thing that isn`t happening anywhere, another one outlawing abortion in Texas of Roe v. Wade is overturned, and a slew of gun laws, seven, to be exact, including one allowing adults to carry handguns without a license, at the Alamo, no less. Perfect.

All of that as Texans broiled under record heat, and its electrical grid operator asked residents, who didn`t have heat during a freak winter storm, to conserve air conditioning, boiling temperatures notwithstanding.

But, instead of fixing the grid, Governor Abbott launched a plan to build a border wall, pledging $250 million of Texas` taxpayers money and having the nerve to ask for donations on top of that to pay for it. Why? Because he`s up for reelection next year.

Politico reports that, by focusing on immigration and the border, Abbott thinks he`s protecting himself from a challenge from the right and putting himself in the mix for the 2024 presidential election. That is if the disgraced, twice-impeached former president he`s touring the border with next week doesn`t run.

Meanwhile, Abbott plans to call a special legislative session to revisit the voter suppression bill.

Last night in Austin, former El Paso Congressman Beto O`Rourke rallied more than 1,000 people gathered as part of his Drive For Democracy tour across the state to push for federal voting legislation.

And joining me now is Beto O`Rourke, former Texas congressman and 2020 presidential candidate.

And thank you so much for being here. Always a pleasure to talk with you.

So, lay out for me the stakes, because it seems to me that the Occam`s razor explanation for all of the stuff you see Governor Abbott doing and lots of other Republican state legislators and governors is that they`re trying to gin up outrage among the Republican base strictly to get out the vote, that this is all about getting their base out by throwing Dr. Seuss at them, and then Mr. Potato Head, and now critical race theory.

The question is, in Texas, is that a workable strategy for Abbott?

FMR. REP. BETO O`ROURKE (D-TX): You`re absolutely right. They are trying to distract us while they steal elections and the very democracy that we should be fighting so hard to protect and expand.

Texas is already the toughest state in the country in which to vote, hundreds of polling place closures, racial gerrymandering, the worst voter I.D. law on the books. And, on top of that, they want to make it harder for those big cities to vote, harder for black voters to cast a ballot, harder for the disabled.

And there`s a provision, Joy in the S.B.7 elections bill that the governor supports that would allow Texas to overturn elections based on the allegation of fraud. And you saw how hard the former president, Rudy Giuliani tried to overturn elections in Pennsylvania and Georgia and Michigan, and they`re still maybe recounting the votes in Arizona.

Texas could very well have a law, a statute that would allow this state to overturn them in a future election. So we have got to stay focused on this. And we have got to fight back. And that fight now has to be in the United States Senate, where we need the For the People Act to become law, because it protects us against these forms of voter suppression.

And it expands access to the ballot box for eligible voters by the tens of millions through automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, making Election Day a national holiday, all of these very popular across this country among Democrats and Republicans as well.

This is the thing to do if you want to save democracy in Texas.

REID: If you could have a conversation -- and it isn`t just Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. The idea is from what we`re hearing, it`s probably good eight, nine, 10 of them who don`t really want to do this, right, because the for the people that would also tap into the dark money that politicians get.

There`s a lot of pushback against that. And there`s a lot of punishment out there whipping around for anyone who goes after that dark money. And then there`s just people who just don`t want to get rid of the filibuster. That`s the only way you`re going to ever pass this bill.

If you could have a conversation with them, given what`s happening in your state, what would you say to the Joe Manchins, the Kyrsten Sinemas and the anonymous others who oppose S.1?

O`ROURKE: I would first think them for at least being at the table and having a conversation with their colleagues and talking about what it is they do like in the For the People Act.

I would then ask them to really consider whether we want corporations and the very wealthy in this country to have this kind of political power, to purchase the outcomes of elections and legislation, which is effectively what we have now.

The provisions in the For the People Act that would make it harder for super PACs and candidates to coordinate and would elevate the role of everyday citizens in financing campaigns, and diminish that of corporations and mega-donors is how we get our democracy back.

And I would remind them so many have given so much, including their lives, for this democracy, whether those who served in uniform and died fighting fascism half-a-world away to preserve democracy at home, or those like Medgar Evers, who was assassinated 58 years ago simply for trying to register people to vote in Mississippi.

So, we have inherited all that sacrifice, all that service and all that struggle. We either make the most of it or we squander it. And failing to pass the For the People Act would squander that, and we might very well lose this 245-year-old experiment of American democracy.

I think it is that existential and that important. And those senators need to hear from all of us. And, as Stacey Abrams has encouraged us to do, we have got to call them, light up to switchboards of the U.S. Senate, and let your senator know how you feel, because, as you reported earlier, the first vote takes place tomorrow.

And that`s a critically important one. And we need to make sure that every senator is on record saying that they support it, at least those who support democracy.

REID: Texas in a lot of ways feels like our sort of future, our sort of dark future, because you`re already off the grid, literally, when it comes to energy provided to your citizens. It`s all up to these private corporations whether people freeze to death or boil in their homes.

You have now just got just open gun legislation. You can carry guns in mental health hospitals and everywhere else. And you have just had your governor add more to it. He wouldn`t even -- he vetoed a bill that would stop people from chaining up their dogs all day in the yard. I don`t know what it is with these Republicans and disliking dogs. It seems pretty dark.

And so I guess, are you planning on trying to mount a bid to replace him? Because the other options, I have to tell you, Beto O`Rourke, the other options are scary. I lived in Florida. Allen West, the guy who said you need to take your muskets and your bayonets to Washington because President Obama was elected, that might be a candidate.

You got an actor. You got Matthew McConaughey maybe. Are you going to run? Are you going to try to maybe bring some sanity to your governor`s mansion?

O`ROURKE: This fight that we`re in right now for the right to vote and saving our democracy is the most important one. I want to make sure that I`m focused on that, that we`re all focused on that, because I think we really have this summer to get it right.

And so it`s all on the line right now. And the other thing is, if you have the level of voter suppression envisioned in S.B.7, the elections bill here in Texas, it might not matter who your candidate is.

REID: That`s a good point.

O`ROURKE: Because the deck will be so stacked.

REID: Yes.

O`ROURKE: The odds will be so long, the playing field so tilted.

So let`s get free and fair elections. And if we do that, I do want to consider how I can best serve this state, whether as a candidate, or registering voters, or supporting other candidates.

But my focus will be public service. And, right now, that means saving democracy, fighting for the right to vote and working with others who are doing the same.

REID: Thank you for saying that, because you`re absolutely right.

We may -- it`s not a given that we`re going to be a democracy five, two -- or even two years from now. People need to wake up to that.

Beto O`Rourke, thank you very much for being in this fight. Appreciate you being here.

Meanwhile, do you think your taxes are too high? Blame critical race theory. A seasonal uptick in illegal migration? Clearly, critical race theory. You don`t like lima beans, and somebody serves you lima beans? Damn you, critical race theory.

The right-wing`s push to blame all things on critical race theory next on THE REIDOUT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Some of you may be wondering, what`s the deal with the GOP freak-out over critical race theory? It`s everywhere and was even used as a GOP call to arms at a conservative Christian conference last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): The old Marxism, the old Marxism used economics to gain control. The new Marxism, the new Marxism uses identity politics.

And the result is something that looks nothing like America. There`s no reason to believe that this new Marxism will result in anything but what the old Marxism resulted in.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Critical race theory is racism, pure and simple.

(APPLAUSE)

PENCE: And it should be rejected by every American of every race.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): And let me tell you right now, critical race theory is bigoted, it is a lie, and it is every bit as racist as the Klansmen in white sheets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: OK, but here`s the thing. None of this is random.

This is the result of a highly manufactured strategy created by seasoned political operatives looking for the perfect wedge issue to take back power, something to combat the energy of the multiracial coalition that took Georgia, and something to replace Blue Lives Matter, since January 6 exposed that slogan as a sham.

Conservatives in Congress took note and started chattering, which was then ingested into the feeder system of FOX News. The tagline disseminated, and the war against critical race theory took off.

No one wants a boogeyman near their kids, and certainly not in their classrooms. The operatives know this. Those fears got played up. And now, along with the fear of trans kids taking over junior hand handball, parents are fighting with school boards in cities and towns across the country over curricula that they believe teaches white kids that they are racist.

None of this is actually happening. But who cares about a little old thing like the truth, when you have the perfect campaign buzzword for 2022? It even has the magic word in it, race.

And joining me now is Kimberle Crenshaw, co-founder and executive director of the African American Policy Forum, and the legal scholar who coined the term critical race theory.

Ah, so it is your fault, madam.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: I tripped over the curb this morning, and I went, critical race theory, damn you.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: You tripped me on the curb.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: You did it -- it does everything bad.

And the cicadas, you all really need to stop with the cicadas, critical race theory. That was not nice.

KIMBERLE CRENSHAW, CO-FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AFRICAN AMERICAN POLICY FORUM: You can everything in the bag, everything in the bag.

REID: Everything.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: So, I just wrote down a few of the notes of what people are calling critical race theory: Marxism, racism, bigoted.

Let`s start with the Marxism. That`s their favorite one. They`re using that every single time. And I hate to ask you. I hate to ask dumb questions. So, please don`t think that I`m dumb.

(LAUGHTER)

CRENSHAW: Well...

REID: Is critical race theory Marxism?

CRENSHAW: Well, you know what? Here`s here`s the thing, Joy.

Critical race theory is not so much a thing. It`s a way of looking at a thing. It`s a way of looking at race. It`s a way of looking at why, after so many decades, centuries, actually, since the emancipation, we have patterns of inequality that are enduring, they`re stubborn.

And the point of critical race theory originally was to think and talk about how law contributed to the subordinate status of African-Americans, of indigenous people, and of an entire group of people who were coming to our shores from Asia.

And the point was, quite frankly, to understand the problem in order to intervene in it, to understand why the greatest hopes for our republic were not being realized, even though these hopes were encoded in law.

So, critical race theory just inherits the beliefs and the hopes of Frederick Douglass, of Martin Luther King, who basically want the law to do for the freed people what the law did for enslavers. And we picked that up in the `70s and 80s, after the civil rights movement, to say, OK, so now we have had this big civil rights movement.

We have all these laws on the books, but things really aren`t looking as different as they should, if we are really the society that we say we are. So we put about the task of understanding how law wasn`t just the neutral referee. Law wasn`t always on our side. In fact, law was less on our side than for on our side.

And we wanted to tell these stories in order to do better with the promises that are embedded in the Constitution. That`s what`s in critical race theory.

REID: So, is critical race theory, does -- is there a K-12 curriculum that right now is being taught?

(LAUGHTER)

REID: I`m sorry. I know it`s dumb question.

But is there a K-12 curriculum on critical race theory that`s being taught in schools around this country?

CRENSHAW: Well, look, Joy, if it was news to most Americans that critical race theory was in K-12, it was news to me, too.

I`m one of the co-authors of one of the few books on critical race theory. I think I would know if we were being taught in K-12. I mean, basically, critical race theory, classic critical race theory is a law school course. And it`s really not taught as widely as I would hope it would.

REID: Yes.

CRENSHAW: But here`s the deal. This is not about whether anything called critical race theory is in K-12.

What they`re calling critical race theory doesn`t exist anyway. It is a backlash effort to reverse the racial reckoning unlike any we have seen in our lifetime. And, as you pointed out at the beginning, they can`t say, we`re for racism. They can`t say Derek Chauvin should have killed George Floyd with his hand in his pocket, looking like he was completely without a care in the world. They couldn`t say that.

So, they looked around and found of a strange-sounding theory that they could put all of the grievances and resentments in and mobilize people around this boogeyman.

REID: Yes.

CRENSHAW: And if our side can`t really understand what`s going on, it`s going to work. It`s worked in the past.

REID: Yes.

CRENSHAW: It worked in Reconstruction, and it can work to end this reckoning too.

REID: And a gentleman named Christopher Rufo, who`s very vigorously requested to be on the show, we`re going to take him up on it and let him come on this week and invite him on.

He literally said: "We have successfully frozen their brand, critical race theory, into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all the various cultural insanities under that brand category."

To wit, FOX News has mentioned critical race theory nearly 1,300 times in the past three-and-a-half months. And we have now discovered that a lot of these parents that are showing up at school boards inveighing against their children being taught that they`re racist, it turns out they are actually Republican activists, not just regular old parents.

Talk...

CRENSHAW: Big surprise there, right?

(LAUGHTER)

REID: Yes, it is not -- not surprising at all.

So I guess my last question to you would be, what do you worry is sort of purpose of what they`re trying to do? This is political. It is about getting out the white voters in 2022. Is there a bigger risk to naming critical race theory as some sort of Marxist plot?

CRENSHAW: Well, of course. The biggest risk is that this tried and true framing of anti-racism as racist against white people will win again. It won at the end of the civil war when civil rights were framed as reverse discrimination against white people. It won after Brown versus Board of Education when integration was framed as damaging white children. And it could win now if people don`t wake up and have a sense of what is at stake.

So, yeah, you`ll hear all these cherry picked stories. A lot of them were not verifiable that the other side is putting out there. You`re not going to hear, and you should, what is happening, with this vein (ph). You`re not going to hear that. An essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates was the reason why a school teacher was fired.

You`re not going to hear about the affinity groups in colleges and universities, and the programs, the educational programs that are being canceled.

REID: Yeah.

CRENSHAW: So we need to see materially what this is doing in order to weigh into this. If anyone was mobilized by last year, if anyone is concerned about what they saw January 6th, then you are on our side with this and you need to get involved.

REID: Absolutely. And, by the way, 1619 Project, which is also being targeted, is also not critical race theory. It`s a book.

CRENSHAW: Exactly.

REID: Kimberle Crenshaw, thank you very much for being here and clearing all that up. Really appreciate it.

OK. Coming up, tonight`s absolute worst is so bad, if someone pitched it as a plot for a movie, you would laugh them out of the room. But, first, it`s a simple procedural vote on voting rights. Or is it a smoke screen to allow senators who don`t actually support the bill to look like they support the bill?

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Fifty-seven years ago today, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner traveled to Neshoba County, Mississippi, to register black voters and never made it back. They were abducted, tortured and murdered by a white mob enraged that they were working to register those voters in the state. It took two months to find their bodies.

Five decades later, volunteers are still fighting against voter suppression efforts in communities of color.

Tomorrow, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will bring the For the People Act, the transformative voting rights reform bill to the floor for a vote. The bill would make voting easier. For all we know, that`s not going to happen because the bill is going to die before even making it to the floor for debate. Republicans from Collins to Cruz are unified in opposition. The question left unanswered is, what comes next?

Joining me, Angela Rye, he principal and CEO of Impact Strategies and host of "On One with Angela Rye", the podcast, "On One with Angela Rye". And the former Minnesota senator, Al Franken, host of "The Al Franken Podcast".

And, Senator Franken, I want to start with you first, because, tomorrow, people would be confused thinking this is a vote about S-1, about the For the People Act. It`s not. It`s just a procedural vote.

So, can you explain what happens when as we know is going to happen, that bill dies because it only gets maybe 50 votes? Maybe 40, 49, 50 votes?

AL FRANKEN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, of course, this is not a bill that we can pass through reconciliation like we did the Relief Act. So this immediately brings to question the filibuster and I was encouraged that Joe Manchin in this audio that was released the other day by the intercept, has said that he is open to a modification of the filibuster, and Norm Ornstein and I have been working on a modification that would basically right now, you need 60 votes to break a filibuster.

This would put the burden on those filibustering and 41 would have to come to the floor. And they would have to stay on the floor. They would have to stay there, the 41, and they would have to debate. And it would have to be germane. So, I would like to see them defend why it is a crime to give someone water waiting in line to vote. I would like to see that.

And listen, Mitch McConnell filibustered more executive nominees when Barack Obama was president than had been filibustered in the entire previous history of the United States. He said that Obama would be, he wanted Obama to be a one-term president. That was his goal. That is his goal here.

And I think the sooner that Joe Manchin sees that that is what is going on, I think the sooner that we can go to some kind of modification of the filibuster.

REID: And, Angela, do you think that there is, is there something to be said for doing this demonstration project? Forcing all the Democrats to say, they really are for the bill. It is be clear whether it is two people or more than two who have problems with this bill, and having everyone show themselves and show Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema that this ain`t getting even one Republican. Do you think that gets us anywhere?

ANGELA RYE, POLITICS & CULTURE COMMENTATOR: I think we need to be gotten to, is not only a vote on Senate bill 1 but also on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Acts. The fact John Lewis almost lost his life and then actually did die, and the fact that there were senators on both sides of the aisle mourning his loss but can`t stand up in solidarity with what John Lewis was all about, which is voting rights, is appalling.

And I think that really what needs to happen is not just a cloture vote but there does need to come an end -- the filibuster needs to come to an end. It is literally stifling progress. I don`t know how many times black people and people of color have to fight for voting rights in this country. The fact that it`s been, I don`t know how many years, but I went to law school, but 2013 is when Shelby versus Holder, right, was ruled on by the Supreme Court. They have told Congress to act on Voting Rights since 2013.

And so while we`re having this conversation about whether or not progressives, right, are the thing, the problem children of the party, what really needs to be talked about is the fact that this shouldn`t be a partisan issue. Black people should be able to vote in this country, after being here since 1619, shout out to your critical race theory block, right?

The fact that gun violence still hasn`t been addressed in this country, the fact the George Floyd justice in policing act will not pass the Senate, has not passed the Senate, it`s just time.

So it`s not even a conversation on a cloture vote. It`s a conversation around the filibuster. It`s time now to be negotiating with Kyrsten Sinema and with Joe Manchin. They`re causing problems. If they`re giving other centrist Democrats cover in the Senate, you`re your point, Joy, maybe it is. Maybe it should be that vote.

But no matter what happens tomorrow, there doesn`t just need to be one voting rights bill voted on, there need to be two. That`s the bottom line.

REID: Let me play you former president Obama who talked about the obstruction we`re seeing here. Here he is.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Republicans in the Senate are lining up to try to use the filibuster to stop the For the People Act from even being debated. Think about this. In the aftermath of an insurrection, with our democracy on the line, and many of these same Republican senators going along with the notion that somehow there were irregularities and problems with legitimacy in our most recent election, they`re suddenly afraid to even talk about these issues and figure out solutions on the floor of the Senate.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

REID: Senator McConnell has said that if these laws that are overwhelmingly popular, 71 percent back making it easier to vote, 50 percent back making it easier to vote by mail. If those are passed, it will make it, it will lock Republicans out, rig the election for Democrats forever. That`s what Mitch McConnell said.

What does that say to you, Senator Franken, if he`s saying it making it easier to vote will rig the election for Democrats. They don`t want to talk about it.

FRANKEN: He`s kind of right. If everybody had a right to vote gets to vote, they would probably lose. That`s why, you know, all these states have been passing these laws to try to suppress votes.

And then the most alarming thing, of course, is these laws to get the state legislatures or state officials elected state officials, partisan state officials to be able to overturn the election. That is an existential threat to our democracy. There`s no question about that.

Look, these guys, Mitch McConnell is cynical. Mitch McConnell is in this, and the Republican Party right now doesn`t stand for anything, I think, other than maybe for low tax cuts for their donors or, you know, low tax rates. And then that`s it. And power and judges.

REID: And power. Power forever. And judges. Yeah, to get more power. Angela Rye and Al Franken, thank you both for being here.

OK. Tonight`s absolute worst is next, and it`s really, really, really bad. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: The former president who has taken his retirement road show up to New York has been littering our inboxes with incoherent rants and non sequiturs, most of the time they`re easily ignored because they`re so delusional.

Think, for example, the pandemic. According to Trump, he saved the world. But according to the office of a new book on the administration`s handling of the crisis, the reality is very, very different. "The Washington Post" obtained a copy of the book, "Nightmare Scenario", and in it, "Washington Post" reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta conclude that their response to the pandemic was rudderless.

We know their incompetence ultimately allowed for more than 605,000 Americans to die from the virus. For much of the crisis, Trump was worried about politics. At one point, he went off on his son-in-law and haunted Victorian man-child, Jared Kushner.

Furious about the increase in COVID cases due to testing, Trump freaked out on HHS secretary Alex Azar, screaming, I`m going to lose the election because of testing. What idiot had the federal government do testing? Azar had to remind Trump that the idiot he was referring to was the guy currently married to his favorite daughter, Ivanka.

As awful as that it is, it gets much worse, much, much worse. The absolute worst, in fact, is the bonkers story told by the authors about what Trump reportedly wanted to do with Americans who were infected with the coronavirus, looking to come home overseas, back in February of 2020, right as COVID began to surge.

It turns out he wanted to lock them up. According to the book, during a Situation Room meeting, Trump turned to his team and said, do we have an island that we own? What about Guantanamo? We import goods. We`re not going to import a virus.

You hear that, America? The president of the United States was looking to send American citizens to the same place they detained terrorism suspects forever, because he didn`t want them increasing the number of cases in the United States. According to the book, Trump brought it up a second time but stunned aides scuttled the idea.

It`s another example of just how awful the previous president`s response to the crisis and really just how awful the previous president really was.

And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.