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Transcript: The ReidOut, 6/4/21

Guests: Ted Lieu, Stuart Stevens, Errin Haines, Ira Shapiro, Ben Rhodes, Phill Wilson


GOP chooses Trump over democracy. Insurrectionists chant hang Mike Pence. Pence says, don`t see eye-to-eye with Trump on January 6. Facebook suspends Trump for two more years. New York Times reports, senior Trump Organization official called to testify before grand jury. Texas GOP chair weighing run for governor. House panel to interview former Trump Counsel Don McGahn. GOP ramps up push to make it harder to vote. Voting rights bill faces uphill battle in Senate.


JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC HOST: THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid is up next. Joy?

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing, Jason? I got to tell you very quickly before you go. Lil Nas X is such a game changer because you and I were, I`m not going age you but I as a Gen X person could never have imagine a Lil Nas X even existing in hip-hop any time when I was growing, when I was in college as a hip-hop head, he wouldn`t have existed so he`s a game-changer, game-changer.

JOHNSON: Absolutely a game-changer and a fashion icon.

REID: And he can twerk better than most of us and, well, better than you. Have a nice weekend, Jason.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Joy.

REID: All right, good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT on this wonderful Friday night with a story of unrequited love. It`s a story of Mike Pence`s self-destructive yearning for a conman who had uncanny powers over him and the Republican Party which led to Pence enabling this conman with cultish praise or tongue-biting silence, even as he attempted to topple our democracy.

Such one-sided love, however, can sometimes curdle, turning into something else, something toxic and downright abusive, which is exactly what happened on live T.V., no less, when Trump incited a violent siege that resulted in five deaths and endanger the lives of Pence and his family.

And it wasn`t just that Pence was just caught in a crossfire, no. Trump targeted Pence and directed his mob by tweet to seek him out.

Here`s the video of the moment Pence was evacuated down a flight of stairs on the senate side of the Capitol. With The Washington Post reporting, if the pro-Trump mobbed arrived seconds earlier, the attackers would have been an eyesight to the vice president. And that mob made no secret of what they intended to do if they found him.


CROWD: Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence.


REID: Hang Mike Pence, chilling words for generations to come. Perhaps Pence didn`t get the presidential memo that he`s just not that into you, because Mike Pence, after all of that, emerged last night without even a fly on his head to say this.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: January 6th was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol.

You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don`t know if we will ever see eye-to-eye on that day. But I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years.


REID: That`s right. We don`t see eye-to-eye, as if Trump ordering a mob to lynchhim was simply a disagreement over say brandy versus Monica or whether the goat is Tom Brady or Serena or Simone Biles. Because for Pence, what`s a little murderous rampage amongst friends?

It just exposes once again as George Conway described it, the unraveling of the Republican Party. To the point George P. Bush, the son of the former Florida Governor, Trump once called low energy, is willing to throw his family under the bus to support Trump and his own political ambition.

This is all happening as the failed Florida blogger kicks off his grievance tour, emerging from his golden hidey-hole as the keynote speaker at the North Carolina Republican Party`s convention. One place he cannot appear, however, is Facebook.

Today Facebook announced its suspension of Trump`s account will last two years, including Instagram. And he will only be reinstated if conditions permit. In a statement, the company said Trump`s post around the January 6th insurrection merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols.

Social media, however, is the least of Trump`s problems. There is now breaking news on the legal case against him and his family business. The Manhattan District Attorney`s Office has subpoenaed a senior finance executive at Trump`s company, Jeffrey McConney, to testify before a state grand jury. According to The New York Times,McConney long served as the corporation`s controller, making him one of a handful of high ranking executives to oversee the company`s finances.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman and 2021 Impeachment Manager Ted Lieu of California and Stuart Stevens, Chief Strategist of Mitt Romney`s 2012 campaign and Senior Adviser to the Lincoln Project.

And, Congressman Lieu, I have to start with you on this, because you`re sitting opposite members of the House of Representatives who are completely enthralled to this person who faces potential criminal liabilities, who faces huge financial liabilities, who can`t help them in terms of fundraising via Facebook or messaging via Twitter. When you talk with Republicans, what is it about him that is so enthralling that he can get away with trying to lynch Mike Pence and Mike Pence still takes the knee?

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): We are watching the radicalization of the Republican Party in real-time, and specifically on Mike Pence. I just have to say that for most normal people, if one I worked colleagues incited a bunch of people to try and kill me, I wouldn`t talk to them anymore. I would try to get that person prosecuted. So, I don`t even understand why Mike Pence is even talking to the former president. He should be trying to put this person into prison or some sort of asylum.

So, it is something that`s very disturbing to me. We`re really watching members of the Republican Party just enter a cult-like state and it`s a very hard to watch, just as an American to see one major political party deteriorate the way it is.

REID: You know, and, Stuart, cult is really the only term. I mean, you know, when you enter a cult, you have to renounce your own family. George P. Bush has done it. You have seen Ted Cruz essentially excused vicious attacks on his own wife and mother. You basically have to be able to cut your own family and they`re doing it, but in the case of Mike Pence, they tried to kill him. Can you explain why? He needs nothing from Trump. Why is he still taking the knee?

STUART STEVENS, CHIEF STRATEGIST, ROMNEY 2012 CAMPAIGN: Well, first, I want to take this opportunity to thank the congressman, who in other time I might have opposed, but he has been a real champion standing up for democracy. And it means so much more than any other political differences we might have had. So, thank you, Congressman.

You know, I think the dirty little secret here is that Donald Trump is what the Republican Party wants. And what he has tapped into is an obviously deep-seated autocratic desire on the Republican Party. And I even think a cult is not the way to look at it because you can deprogram people from a cult, but I don`t know how you deprogram people from hypocrisy and racism. And I think that he has emerged as white grievance party`s leader.

And, you know, one of the lessons here, I think, is that leaders matter. We saw that in the 1930s, why did America become fascist, probably because Roosevelt was president and not, say, Linberg or Henry Ford. So, I think that the truth here is very jerk and disturbing and I think the outcome of this is very much in doubt.

REID: No, you`re absolutely right. Let me play for you Ron Johnson, because I think this -- he kind of demonstrated what it looks like when you`ve gone all the way over. Here`s Ron Johnson, essentially, he cannot bring himself to give Trump any responsibility for what happened January 6th. Here he is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you not aggressively looking at what happened that from the perspective of President Trump`s role?

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Because we`ve had an impeachment trial.

REPORTER: But you don`t think he bears any responsibility?

JOHNSON: I think our hyper partisan politics is driving all of this.

Go back to the number of articles of impeachment against President Trump. Go back to the summer riots where you had, for example, Vice President Harris encouraging people to donate to a fund to bail these rioters out so they can riot again. Again, there`s plenty of societal blame to go around.


REID: Congressman Lieu, you`re an impeachment manager. He`s blaming impeachment, he`s Speaker Pelosi, everyone else is responsible but Trump. In a sense, do you think it would make more sense at this point, given that that`s where the Republican Party is? And I think Stuart is absolutely right. Wouldn`t it just be easier for the speaker to just impanel a blue- ribbon commission, something like a House version of the Watergate commission, and just be on with getting this investigation into January 6th going and just forget the Republicans and just do it, just have the Democrats do it?

LIEU: The Republicans cannot stop the full truth from coming out. So, the speaker is either going to have a select committee or empower the standing congressional committees to look at January 6th to find out exactly what happened before January 6th, what happened that day and what the consequences are. So, it`s going to come out. They can`t stop this. It`s just before what the investigation would look like.

And I just want to note something that happened during the impeachment trial. We were in this other room when we weren`t presenting, and in this impeachment war room, we had big screens on and so, of course, we had MSNBC as well as CNN and Fox. And there were literally entire portions of the impeachment trial that Fox just did not show, including some very aggressive rioters beating up police officers that Fox was just playing some other guests just talking. So, if you`re just watching Fox News, you could come away with a very different view on what happened January 6th.

REID: Well, and that`s the challenge, right, Stuart, is that you also do have people who live in a completely different information universe, where they don`t -- they still want to believe what happened January 6th didn`t happen or happened a different way.

But I want to roll back just a little bit. Because I do still believe that a lot of this started before Trump, and the tea party was one signal of what we saw coming. And I remember Allen West, when I was in Florida at the time.

This is something who got drummed out of the military because he did a fake execution against a -- a mock execution, against an Iraqi policeman, went back, ran for Congress, and they did a lot of talk about getting your bayonets against President Obama.

During his campaign for the House, he was a tea party guy, and he said, if you`re here to stand up to get your musket, to fetch your bayonet and to charge into the ranks, you are my brother and sister in this fight. You need to leave here understanding one simple word, that word is, bayonet.

He moved to Texas after he finally got drummed out of Congress in Florida. He spoke at the QAnon convention and now he`s resigning as the chairman of the Texas Republican Party potentially to run against Republican Governor Greg Abbott in Texas.

So it`s not just Trump, Stuart. There`s a whole generation of them, and I don`t know how the Republican Party ever changes his back to anything like normal.

STEVENS: I think the only way to save the Republican Party is to burn the current Republican Party to the ground. You can`t negotiate with these people. You cannot somehow meet them at the common ground. How do you meet someone common ground who wears a Camp Auschwitz sweatshirt and attacks the Capitol of the United States to try to hang the vice president of the United States and overturn an election? These are people you have to challenge. You have to defeat them.

And I think that what troubles me most here is that we might slip into some sense that this is a normal time. There`s a great need for normalcy now. We`re just not in a normal time. We`ve never had, at least since 1816, a major political party in the United States of America that is a major anti- democratic force. And that is what happened to the party I used to work in.

REID: Yes, and it`s hard to even imagine the party that you worked in, Mitt Romney ever being a viable candidate for anything, right, for president again. Right, it is completely different.

I want to -- so there`s still regular business going on, which I still find a little bit weird, Congressman Lieu. You are on the Judiciary Committee. One of the sorts of regular order sort of thing that`s happening that you know Trump was able to delay subpoenas back when he was president. Now we have Don McGahn who`s going to finally testify. He`s going to come through -- and this is really going all the way back during impeachment. It took nearly two years to secure his testimony -- sorry, he testified today, and this is -- it took more than two years to make it happen.

Are we just going to be sort of cleaning up old business in the House? What do you think came out of that testimony? And at this point, is there any point to doing anything other than focusing on what happened January 6th and figuring out how to, I don`t know, dethrone this current Republican Party?

LIEU: It`s ridiculous that it takes over two years to get a witness in to testify, which shows we had to reform the congressional subpoena process. I introduced legislation that would allow the House to execute our power of inherent contempt, which is that we can fine witnesses up to $100,000 for disobeying congressional subpoenas. That doesn`t even need a vote of the Senate, the House could simply pass it by majority vote and hopefully we can get that done.

I also note that McGahn in his testimony, I have been briefed by judiciary staff, he repeatedly says how the former president ignored his advice, including his advice to not try to shut down the Mueller investigation. So, when that official transcript comes out, I think you`re going to see the former president basically did whatever was said in the Mueller report, plus additional confirmation of additional thing that the former president did that either violated real law or comes very close to violating real law. and I hope the Department of Justice looks at that official transcript closely. And let me also say, thank you, Stuart for standing up for our democracy right now. We all appreciate that.

REID: I will second that to both of you gentleman. Thank you both for standing up for democracy. You`ve both been vital and for some of us, just our sanity, to know that people are seeing what we`re seeing. Congressman Ted Lieu, Stuart Stevens, thank you both very much.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, the unholy alliance that would watch American democracy burn to the ground instead of using the power in their hands to stop the runaway train of voter suppression and nullification by the Republican Party.

Plus, more than 34 million lives have been lost to AIDS, 34 million. Now 40 years since the first of 40 cases, why it took so long for the government and the public at large to take the AIDS epidemic seriously.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: There`s been a lot of talk about voting these days because Republicans are making it so much hard tore do. For many Americans, let`s be honest, it`s already a grueling process. First, you have to make sure you`re still registered, then you have to find time during the week to vote and then you have to deal with long lines in the sweltering heat or freezing cold.

But now picture a world where that doesn`t have to happen. Wouldn`t that be great? Just imagine you want to vote but you forgot to register ahead of time. No sweat, you can register and vote on the same day. Don`t have time to vote on a Tuesday, mail your ballot ahead of time. No excuse needed. Your polling place is closed, go to another voting location without having to be registered there.

People, that`s not a far-off fantasy. It`s already happening in states like Wisconsin, California, Utah and Colorado. And these things could be available to all Americans if only Congress passed the For the People Act. The bill, which is being teed up for a vote later this month, would make it easier to register to vote online. It would automatically register you if you`re an eligible citizen and would allow you to register and vote on the same day.

Here`s the problem. That bill, which we so desperately need, isn`t close to becoming a reality because of an unholy trinity of naysayers, conservative Democrats -- I`m looking at you, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema -- who are more devoted to the filibuster than to democracy, congressional Republicans, who don`t want more people to vote, because, if they do, well, Republicans will lose -- see the 2020 election -- and, finally, big business interests, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who would hate to see you all vote to make the economy more fair.

Now, it`s easy to understand why congressional Republicans and the Chamber of Commerce would rather pledge allegiance to power and corporate interests than defend the will of the people. It`s less clear why Senator Manchin would defend his obstruction in the face of an already ongoing disaster by saying this:


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I think is a disaster waiting to happen. If we go down that path of where it`s going to be just...

GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: The S.1 bill specifically you think is a disaster, or doing it in a single-party way?


MANCHIN: No, no, doing it nonpartisan.

Right now, as difficult and as separate as our state is, doing anything in a partisan manner. The more things we do in a partisan fashion and not trying to do in a bipartisan fashion separates us further. And it`s not good for our country.


REID: With me now, I`m Errin Haines, editor at large for The 19th, and Ira Shapiro, former counsel for Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, whose seat is currently occupied by Joe Manchin.

Thank you both for being here.

And, Errin, Democrats, they`re going to try all of these ways to try to convert the man you just heard. And it`s not clear that he`s convertible. But their new gambit is for -- apparently, Majority Leader Reid (sic) is going to put a bunch of popular bills on the floor, watch them go down, watch them get voted down as like a demonstration project that you cannot overcome Republican intransigence without getting rid of the filibuster.

Harry Reid tried something similar on judges back in 2014. Does that sound like a strategy that`s worth trying? And what are you hearing in terms of whether or not Democrats believe it`s a strategy that could even work?

ERRIN HAINES, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE 19TH: Well, first of all, Joy, let me just say that that is the music that I also hear in my head every single time that I cast a ballot, magical and dreamy...


HAINES: ... voting. I just -- it was music to my ears. I was like, wait, that is the music that I also hear.

REID: Same.

HAINES: Listen, Joe Manchin is saying that...


HAINES: Yes, yes. Every time I come on, if we could just play that music, it just puts me in a place of democracy, freedom, voting. Yes, The 19th is all about all of those things.

But, look, Joe Manchin is talking about wanting a bipartisan -- bipartisan participation on this voting rights legislation. That would be great, if the issue of voting had not become so partisan. But we know that it has, and we know that Republicans are on the march in state legislatures across the country enacting measures that are really going to make it more difficult for people of color, for other marginalized folks to cast their ballots going forward.

And so that is why folks like the NAACP, the Urban League, the National Council of Negro Women, the Black Women`s Roundtable, and others are going to be trying to meet with Senator -- they`re going to be meeting with Senator Manchin to try to convince him that he needs to do what it takes to get this legislation passed.

Look, I talked to Melanie Campbell tonight, the convener of the Black Women`s Roundtable. And what she told me is that she has never met Joe Manchin, doesn`t know Joe Manchin, has never engaged with him, but she was invited to this meeting, and she is coming because she recognizes that he is somebody of influence that she needs to engage with to make the case for why he needs to do whatever it takes, even if that includes getting rid of the filibuster.

She`s looking at the calendar, and she sees senators who are soon going to be more focused on campaigning than passing legislation.

REID: Yes.

HAINES: And for those leaders, this is really a very urgent moment, and they feel like their time is now to make something happen on this issue.

REID: No, definitely, because, if you don`t have the right to vote, nothing else really seems to matter, and nothing else is going to pass

And, Ira Shapiro, welcome to the show.

And you worked for Robert Byrd. And sort of -- Manchin tries to sort of style himself as sort of the heir apparent ideologically, at least on the positive sides of the ideology of Mr. Byrd.

You wrote in a "New York Times" piece -- and you were a staffer from 1975 through 1987. And you were a former counsel as well. You wrote: "For Mr. Byrd and other senators of his era, the overriding goal was to ensure not that the certain -- not that certain rules were respected above all else, but that the Senate could deliver for the nation."

In your view, what would he make of this intransigent stance by Joe Manchin, locking arms around the filibuster?

IRA SHAPIRO, AUTHOR, "THE LAST GREAT SENATE: COURAGE AND STATESMANSHIP IN TIMES OF CRISIS": I think what the article said, Joy, is that, basically, when Senator Byrd, who was the great Senate institutionalist and the keeper of the Senate flame, when he encountered new forms of obstruction, he rethought the filibuster, basically.

He had endorsed it in the past. He had a disgraceful filibuster in 1964 against the Civil Rights Act, which he later regretted. But when new forms of obstruction came, what Byrd cared about and what he feared most was a paralyzed Senate that couldn`t do the business of the country.

And that was what I tried to suggest in the article. And my point in the article was, look, it`s not going to be easy even to put together 50 in the Senate. There will be plenty of back-and-forth, plenty of negotiation, et cetera.

But we certainly shouldn`t lock ourselves into a 60-vote majority -- I mean, 60-vote requirement that essentially hands the keys to the castle to Mitch McConnell.

REID: Yes.

I mean, and it seems like everyone, Errin, except for Kyrsten Sinema, Manchin, and whoever is hiding behind their skirts, because the suspicion is that it isn`t just the two of them -- they`re just the two who are out front taking the bullets -- are hanging on to -- is it -- I mean, the irony that they`re hanging on to this disgraceful Senate rule that was used primarily against black folks, trying to prevent the right to vote, trying to prevent black people from being able to exercise the franchise, that they`re locking arms around it, I wonder how that can possibly exist inside a Democratic Party that desperately needs black votes?

HAINES: Well, yes, and a Democratic Party that was dependent on black folks to put them in power, right...

REID: Yes.

HAINES: ... not only in the presidency and the vice presidency, but also giving them control -- keeping control of the House and giving them that narrow margin in the Senate that doesn`t feel like a very narrow margin at the moment, given that everything is coming down to the will of these two senators.

And so that is why you see the full-court press really starting to happen. You saw President Biden in Tulsa, basically not name-checking them exactly, but, certainly, I think there was nobody listening who didn`t know who he was referring to when he was talking about obstruction to this legislation being passed, deputizing Vice President Harris, who was formerly in the Senate, so that she can go and try to persuade her former colleagues, these two perhaps most of all, to get on board with this legislation.

And then pressure from groups like the NAACP, the Urban League, and others who, maybe other -- under normal circumstances, would not be meeting with Senator Joe Manchin, but certainly are trying to have an audience with him and whoever else they need to talk to get them on board with passing this, even if it means getting rid of the filibuster.

And, listen, I mean, to Ira`s point in his column, politics is about legacy, right? And how you start is not necessarily how you finish, which is what we learned from Senator Byrd.

REID: That`s right.

HAINES: So, what Joe Manchin`s epitaph is going to say, particularly around this issue, is really something that I think a lot of people are thinking about. I wonder if he`s thinking about it too.

REID: Well, I wonder then, Mr. Shapiro. His legacy sounds like Byrd in reverse. He`s gone toward the filibuster, when Byrd ran in the other direction, in terms of his racial history.

I mean, his new excuse is, potholes aren`t partisan. It`s an illogical argument, because, if there`s a pothole, nobody cares whether the vote to get rid of it was partisan or bipartisan. They just want the pothole filled. What do you think his legacy is looking like right now, Manchin`s?

SHAPIRO: Well, let`s see what happens, Joy.

He`s hearing the arguments. He`s hearing from the people from the groups that will be coming in. He`s hearing from Chuck Schumer. And, of course, he`s hearing from the president.

President Biden is the ultimate, not only former senator, but the ultimate good-faith player in the political process. He would like a bipartisan result if it`s possible. But he won`t let the nation`s progress be held back by the Senate`s filibuster rule.

And I think that`s the right way to approach it. And I`m hopeful that Senator Manchin is watching the experience of the Senate now. How does he feel, having seen the filibuster that was just conducted against the January 6 commission?

REID: Yes.

SHAPIRO: I mean, we take McConnell very seriously at his word.

REID: Yes.

SHAPIRO: He will obstruct if he can.

REID: When they filibuster the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, let`s just see where -- everybody is going to find out which God they serve.

Errin Haines, Ira Shapiro, thank you both very much.

And still ahead: The Biden administration is considering tough new action to counter ransomware attacks, like the one that shut down the key oil pipeline -- that key oil pipeline last month.

But the idea of using U.S. military resources to target criminal activity is already generating controversy.

Stay with us.


REID: President Biden has already put Russia on notice following the disruptive cyberattacks likely perpetrated by criminal groups inside that country.

But now NBC News reports that the administration is weighing a far more aggressive response. They`re moving to treat ransomware attacks as a national security threat, rather than a law enforcement matter, using intelligence agencies to spy on foreign criminals and contemplating offensive cyber-operations against hackers inside Russia.

This comes after ransom -- the ransomware attack on the meatpacking company JBS, which threatened the food supply chain. Then there was a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline that shut off nearly half the East Coast`s total fuel supply, prompting a spike in gas prices and long lines at filling stations.

The most frequent victim has been hospitals, which lost millions in ransom payments to cyber-criminals during the COVID pandemic. In fact, according to "The Wall Street Journal," the attacks have tripled in the past year. They have become so frequent that FBI Director Chris Wray likened to the threat to the one we faced after 9/11.

"There are a lot of parallels," he said, "and a lot of focus by us on disruption and prevention."

To that point, Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said this week that the White House is delivering the message to Russia that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals.

And joining me now is Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration and the author of the new book "After the Fall: Being American in the World We`ve Made."

And I`m going to talk to you about that in just a second.

But I want to get your response, not only to the tack that the Biden administration is taking, but to what Putin is saying back.

This is what he said, denying, Putin, any involvement in the ransomware attacks: "There hasn`t been any malicious Russian activity whatsoever. I heard something about the meat plant. Sheer nonsense. We all understand it`s just ridiculous. Pipeline? It`s equally absurd."

That`s typical Putin, I assume.

BEN RHODES, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Yes, Joy, there`s an element of trolling in all these comments that Putin gives.

And, look, I mean, first of all, given Russia`s own sophistication in the cyber-domain, the idea that they wouldn`t necessarily be witting of what people are doing within their borders or wouldn`t have the capacity to stop it, I don`t think anybody should believe that.

And the reality is, if you stack all this up, the cyberattacks, the disinformation campaigns, there`s basically been this asymmetric warfare being waged from within Russia into the United States that has been steadily escalating for a long time now.

And this is really hitting at the national security of the United States, including our economic security, when the message of these ransomware attacks is essentially, we can shut down sectors of your economy, we can hit you where it hurts in terms of not just trying to spy on you, but trying to disrupt life in the United States of America.

REID: And he also -- Putin seems to try to sort of draw these ideological lines, I mean, going after an oil -- if -- let`s say that they have some responsibility -- going after an oil company, when they are basically a huge oil -- well, they`re not such a great oil conglomerate themselves, but even defending the people who attacked our Capitol, the insurrectionists.

This is what he also said. This is in a Q&A, that he says, well, they just came with political demands. It comes after his foreign minister said the insurrectionists are being -- quote -- "persecuted."

This is a guy who`s got his chief opponent imprisoned. And Mr. Navalny is now at risk of dying, has had a hunger strike. He`s at risk of dying of kidney and heart ailments. So, this is a guy who jails Alexei Navalny, his main opponent, and then turning around and saying that it`s the U.S. that does it.

RHODES: Yes, there`s always this element of whataboutism from Putin.

And look for my book that you mentioned, I talked to Alexei Navalny last summer. And he was very clear about the risks that he was facing. He knew what they were. But he was exposing Putin`s corruption. And that`s Putin`s vulnerability.

To connect to your last segment here, though, Joy, what Putin is up to, he`s suppressing dissent and throwing people like Alexei Navalny in prison and poisoning him in Russia. And in this country, he wants to see the failure of democracy as well. He has made common cause with those people who mounted an insurrection, made common cause, of course, with Donald Trump.

And the reality that there are people like Alexei Navalny, I mean, who I -- I remember I was in contact with him after he was poisoned, before he went back to Russia, knowing he would be put in prison.

REID: Yes.

RHODES: And we can`t get rid of a filibuster to protect our democracy, when that`s what people are doing in other countries to stand up to people like Putin?

I think that should shame our politicians who are standing in the way of that kind of action.

REID: Indeed.

And, in your book -- I wanted to read a little excerpt of it. You said that: "Like the Republican Party, Putin has appealed to a particular strain of nationalism, Christianity, hostility to Muslims, subversion of the international order, and the longing for an idealized past."

So, it is interesting that he kind of -- he is sort of a Putin -- I mean, he`s a Trump-like figure, and that Trump obviously looked up to him and wanted to be like him.

RHODES: Yes, I think we can understand what`s happening in this country better by realizing that there`s one playbook, and Vladimir Putin has kind of perfected it, which is this kind of development of authoritarian power, supported by massive media machinery, supported by disinformation, and kind of wrapped up in this nationalist bow of us vs. them.

REID: Yes.

RHODES: And, look, the targets are always minority populations, immigrants, Muslims, convenient -- George Soros is a target of Putin`s, as well as the right wing here.

I think we have to have our eyes wide open here that we`re dealing with a trend that crosses borders.

REID: Yes.

RHODES: And Vladimir Putin is really at the forefront of being the disruptive force trying to undermine democracy, but he`s not alone in that effort, Joy.

We see a lot of people who were on that team.

REID: I was going to just -- brings -- you bring -- it brings me right to Bibi Netanyahu, who has been in office 12 years. It looks like he`s finally out.

Very quickly, what are the ramifications of perhaps the end of the Netanyahu era in Israel? What does it mean for the Palestinians? What does it mean for Israelis? What do you think?

RHODES: Well, Israeli politics has been stuck. They have had four elections.

Netanyahu had been there for -- in just the last couple years. Netanyahu has been there for 12 years. I think there`s a healthy accountability to him leaving office. He will face corruption charges. And he could face some serious accountability there.

That said, for the Palestinians, Naftali Bennett, who is in line to be prime minister, has been even more hard-line than Bibi Netanyahu with respect to the Palestinians.

So I think it`s -- it opens up space for Israeli politics to move forward. I think this new government is kind of fragile, so there could be another election soon. But, in the near term, I don`t think it means any significant changes in terms of their policies towards the Palestinians in particular.

REID: Yes, unfortunately so.

The book is called "After the Fall." I hope everyone checks it out. I definitely will be reading it.

Ben Rhodes, thank you very much. Really appreciate you being here.

RHODES: Thanks, Joy.

REID: Thank you.

And up next: marking 40 years since the CDC first acknowledged what was then known as the -- quote -- "gay plague" -- 34 million deaths later, a look back at our government`s feeble response to HIV/AIDS.

We will be right back.


REID: Forty years ago tomorrow, this country recognized the dawn of a tragic epidemic that would go on to take the lives of nearly 35 million people worldwide.

In a June 5, 1981, bulletin, Centers for Disease Control researchers described for the first time the mysterious cases of five gay men in Los Angeles who`d fallen ill with a type of pneumonia. All five had been previously healthy, and two of the five had already died.

Those five men were the first reported cases of the illness that would come to be known as AIDS and the virus that causes it, HIV. At the time, it didn`t have a name, but it quickly developed a terrifying and tragic reputation as it ravaged gay communities across the country, inspiring fear in the terrifying early days, before more was known about how it was transmitted, and discrimination, as the disease became referred to as gay cancer or, even more derisively, a gay plague.

It was largely discounted, even as it took the lives of hundreds, then thousands of men.

Now, you could be excused for not knowing it`s been 40 years since those first cases, given the derelict response from the White House at the time, as the Reagan administration did nothing, while government scientists, a young researcher at the NIH, Dr. Anthony Fauci, first began studying the disease in 1981, with his research becoming instrumental in the way we understand HIV/AIDS today.

Now, it wasn`t until 1982 that AIDS was first addressed in a White House briefing, then White House Press Secretary Larry Speakes was asked about the unfolding crisis.


QUESTION: Does the president have any reaction to the announcement, of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta that AIDS is now an epidemic in 600 - - over 600 cases?


QUESTION: Over a third of them have already died. It`s known as gay plague.


QUESTION: No, it is. I mean, it`s a pretty serious thing, that one in every three people to get this have died. And I wonder if the president is aware of it.

SPEAKES: I don`t have it. Are you -- do you?

QUESTION: You don`t have it.


REID: In the face of government inaction, activists largely took it upon themselves, taking to the streets, raising AIDS awareness, calling for a federal response that would remain mostly nonexistent.

It wasn`t until 1985 that President Reagan deigned to say the word AIDS publicly, in response to reporters` questions about funding research. And it would be another two years, 1987, before he made a speech entirely devoted to AIDS, calling for increased testing.


RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have also asked HHS to add the AIDS virus to the list of contagious diseases for which immigrants and aliens seeking permanent residence in the United States can be denied entry.



REID: That same year, the AIDS Memorial Quilt was unveiled on the National Mall, each of its panels remembering and celebrating the life of an individual taken too soon by AIDS.

But, like Ronald Reagan, millions of Americans chose silence and inaction over compassion, because it simply didn`t affect them.

In 1985, Reagan`s longtime friend actor Rock Hudson became perhaps the highest-profile gay man to succumb to AIDS. And it wasn`t until it started claiming people outside the gay community that Americans really started taking AIDS seriously.

There was Indiana teenager Ryan White, a hemophiliac who contracted HIV from a blood transfusion, likewise, tennis legend Arthur Ashe, who contracted it from a transfusion during heart surgery.

And, in 1991, NBA superstar Magic Johnson announced he was HIV-positive. Thirty years later, Johnson is still living with AIDS, as are roughly 1.2 million Americans, thanks to advancements in treatments, antiretroviral treatments, that delay the onset of AIDS from HIV.

Despite that, though, more than 700,000 Americans have perished over the last 40 years.

And after the break, I will talk to an activist who`s been on the front lines since the very beginning. And that`s next.


REID: Forty years ago tomorrow, June 5, 1981, the Centers for Disease Control recognized the first five cases of the disease that would come to be known as AIDS.

According to the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, since the start of the epidemic, AIDS-related illnesses have claimed the lives of nearly 35 million people globally. And nearly 38 million were living with it in 2010. That includes 1.2 million Americans.

Joining me now is Phill Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute. He was diagnosed with HIV in the early days of the pandemic and lost a partner to AIDS as well.

Mr. Wilson, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate you joining the show.

And I want to read to you a little bit of you, what you wrote in an article for NBC back in 2016. This was upon your 60th birthday.

I never usually give people`s age, but it was in your article.


REID: So, don`t get mad at me for that.

But here`s what you wrote: "I have lived with HIV for most of my life, never expected to even make it to 30, let alone to 60."

Wow. Looking at that now, talk a little bit about your experience, when you were diagnosed, how people around you reacted. Talk a little bit about you.

PHILL WILSON, FOUNDER, BLACK AIDS INSTITUTE: Well, thanks for having me on, Joy.

And it`s OK to talk about my age. No one thought that I was going to be 30. And I`m now 65. When I was diagnosed, my doctor said: "You have six months. Get your affairs in order."

Well, it turns out that he was a little wrong.

But it was devastating to find out that I was HIV-positive. I was actually infected in 1980. So, I have lived with HIV my entire adult life. In 1986, when I finally was diagnosed, it really felt like the world was going to end. Already, so many of my friends were sick, dying or dead.

And so my immediate reaction was, like the doctor said, I was going to be dead. And I decided that, if I was going to be dead in six months, that I better get busy. And I just kept on being busy, because the dying was going to take care of itself. I needed to focus on the living

REID: Well, and I can remember I was a -- coming out and being a teenager in that period. Or I think this started when I was in probably junior high school.

And you didn`t know anything about it. There wasn`t a lot of talk by the government, by the Reagan administration. You just -- it was this sort of invisible thing, until like Eazy-E and Magic Johnson, I think, for a lot of younger people, or Ryan White and all of these other cases.

But that wasn`t about the gay community, right?

WILSON: Right.

REID: It was sort of, other than that, just we in the non-LGBT community, you don`t have to worry about that.

Did it feel isolating to not have your government seem to care?

WILSON: Absolutely.

And the price was severe for all of us. One of the things that we realized in the gay community is that they were not going to be sending the lifeboats for us, that, if we`re going to be saved, we`re going to have to do the saving.

And the reason why those famous people, those people that -- the proper people got sick and died is because they didn`t care. Eazy-E wouldn`t have gotten sick, Magic Johnson wasn`t gotten infected, Elizabeth Glaser wouldn`t have died.

All of those -- quote, unquote -- "white people" wouldn`t have gotten sick if they cared about us. I grew up in the rowhouses in Chicago. And one of the things we learned early on, if your neighbor`s house is on fire, you better pull out the water, because, in two minutes, your house is going to be on fire.

REID: Yes.

WILSON: And so if our government had cared about us in the beginning, if our government had cared about gay men in the beginning, we wouldn`t have the pandemic that we ended up having.

REID: Yes.

WILSON: And even that was mischaracterized, because the epidemic was never about only white gay men.

REID: Right.

WILSON: From the very, very beginning, black and other people of color were disproportionately impacted.

REID: And it`s still the case.

I mean, this -- my great producers put together some of these statistics. And they`re really talking about our society. In 2019, gay men accounted for 69 percent of new diagnoses. In 2019, African Americans represented 13 percent of the population, but 44 percent of new HIV diagnoses, in 2019, Hispanics, Latinx people, 18 percent of population, 30 percent of new diagnoses.

This is still primarily impacting people of color.

WILSON: Absolutely.

And it`s what happens when you marginalize folks, Joy, that HIV and AIDS was primarily a disease of poor people or black people or brown people, of disenfranchised people. We`re now at 40 years of this pandemic. We now see a light at the end of the tunnel of the next pandemic.

And the lessons that we should have learned with HIV and AIDS, we did not learn.

REID: Yes.

WILSON: And we repeated those same issues as we deal with COVID-19.

REID: And one of my producers made a really great point, who`s very young.

And for young gay men and women today, the existence of a thing called PrEP, right, has, like, changed the world, that there is this drug that will prolong life, and allow you to have a life without constant terror.

But there`s, I know, also some price issues and cost issues. You still got to have health care, right? And so we know the South is where we`re seeing disproportion number of cases, because not a lot of folks have health care. They didn`t take the Medicaid expansion.

How has sort of our health care debate sort of impacted this as well?

WILSON: Well, it`s kind of connected to the definition of infrastructure. We know there`s a debate going on somewhere else on that.

Well, so a few pills for some people that work some of the time does not a cure make. So it`s not enough just to have the medications. You have to have access to the doctors. You have the proximity to the doctors. You have to have access to the information. You have to trust the messenger.

There`s all these things that are involved in people actually being able to utilize care and treatment.

REID: Yes.

WILSON: So, today, even though we have PrEP, we have better treatments, we still don`t have access, because we still don`t care about the people who are most impacted.

REID: Let`s talk very quickly -- I don`t have a ton of time with you left - - but Billy Porter, he gave a very emotional interview to my friend Tamron Hall and talked about his 2007 diagnosis. He`d also had financial issues and all sorts of stuff coming down upon him.

But his program "Pose," how has that changed the way that people talk about that era, and how has it changed the way people talk about just gay men, about the community, about the culture?

WILSON: Well, the thing that is so important and phenomena about "Pose" is that it speaks to the lie that people of color were not impacted.

Now, it makes it clear that people of color were involved in the pandemic, impacted by the pandemic, and were a part of the fight to end the epidemic from the very, very beginning.

REID: Yes.

WILSON: And that`s an important lesson, particularly as we look at the 40th anniversary.

I`m involved in the building of an AIDS monument in Los Angeles. And we are focused on making sure that all the stories are told, no matter who you are...

REID: Yes.

WILSON: ... no matter where you were, no matter where the intersection was.

REID: And I know that you lost your partner, Chris Brownlie. We`re going to show a picture of him.

Very quickly, tell us about him.

WILSON: Well, Chris and I met in 1980.

He truly was an amazing person. He was an activist. He really taught me the importance of speaking up and speaking out and covering -- and being concerned about the world.

REID: I think we have lost him.

Hopefully, we did not lose your audio. But I think we have.

Phill Wilson, thank you so much for being here. We really appreciate you. God bless.

And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT. Have a great weekend, everyone.