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Transcript: The ReidOut, 7/14/21

Guests: James Talarico, Xochitl Hinojosa, Stuart Stevens, Bernice A. King, Michael Wolff


GOP fringe lays siege to democracy. Texas lawmaker calls out Trump`s big lie. GOP is trying to use voting restrictions to retain power. Texas Democrats visit D.C. to push for voting rights. Texas Gov. Abbott insists new voting restrictions make it easier to vote. Congress is considering two separate voting rights bills. As the White House adds some star power to their vaccine outreach, the conservatives` war on this life-saving vaccine is reaching a fever pitch.




ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: THE BEAT is over. "THE REIDOUT" starts right now with Joy Reid. Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Welcome back, Ari. Did you bring me back anything from vaca? Nothing? Just love.

MELBER: You know what, I`m bringing you all the good vibes and a Pina colada, as soon as we can meet up in the same studio.

REID: That sounds like a plan. Thank you very much. Have a great evening.

MELBER: Thanks.

REID: All right, guys. Thank you very much.

All right, good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT with the most important and really the most debated political question of the moment. What is happening to the Republican Party? Our country, our democracy is currently under siege by one of our two major political parties, one controlled by a twice impeached one-term president who`s more Jim Jones than George Washington, a party that, thanks to Donald Trump`s rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, white grievance and an unquenchable thirst for power, embraces causes that were once viewed as fringe, things like abortion bounty hunting, now the law in Texas, banning books, really, any idea that doesn`t render every single white American in history going all the way back to 1619 and right up to today as innocent and benevolent, even as a noose literally hung outside the U.S. Capitol just six months ago.

It`s a Party that`s committed to turning domestic terrorists into martyrs and freedom fighters while launching a crusade against the COVID vaccine, and now any vaccine, even if that leaves America more vulnerable to sickness and suffering and death. And anyone who`s encouraging you to stay alive by taking the vaccine, they`re called neo-Nazis.

Remember when these ideas were relegated to some kooky corner of the internet when erasing a politician`s crime sounded like Putin? Not too long ago our idea of the Republican fringe were a bunch of guys in tricolor hats getting really angry about taxes and a black president. Well, this new fringe ate that fringe for breakfast and it`s taken over the mainstream Republican Party.

And it all culminates in that new bizarre row world, Republican ideology doing everything in their power to make it so hard for you to vote that you can never vote them out. And you know what they call that? A dictatorship. And as in all autocracies, what`s fueling all of it is the chief autocrat`s big lie, something Texas State Representative James Talarico took on, head on while standing in the belly of the beast, Fox News.


STATE REP. JAMES TALARICO (D-TX): You have made a lot of money personally and you`ve enriched a lot of corporations with advertising by getting on here and spewing lies and conspiracy theories to folks who trusts you. And so what I`m asking you to do is tell your voters right now that Donald Trump lost the election of 2020.

PETE HEGSETH, FOX NEWS HOST: At least you`ve resolved the lie that is --

TALARICO: Can you admit that?

HEGSETH: -- Democrats (INAUDIBLE) for voter I.D.

TALARICO: Did you not hear what I asked? Did Donald Trump --

HEGSETH: At least he resolved the idea Democrats are not for voter I.D.

TALARICO: Did Donald Trump lose the election in 2020?

HEGSETH: Real quick.

TALARICO: Can you answer the question? Did Donald Trump lose the election?

HEGSETH: I think I`m answering the questions. I`m not -- I don`t really feel any obligation to answer anything.

TALARICO: Is this an uncomfortable question for you?

HEGSETH: No, it`s absolutely. My question is why are you in Washington, D.C., and not in Texas?


REID: The Texas State Representative in that clip, James Talarico, joins me now along with Democratic Strategist Xochitl Hinojosa, and Stuart Stevens, Senior Adviser to the Lincoln Project.

I have to start with you Representative Talarico. Kudos to you for standing up to, not even just Hegseth, I think, his name is, but also the big lie. Can you talk about how that big lie about the election has impacted your constituents, because that seems to be why you`re in D.C. right now?

TALARICO: The big lie is the only reason I`m on this show talking to you right now. If it wasn`t for Donald Trump`s lie that the election was stolen in 2020, I`d be back at my desk in the Texas State Capitol working on early childhood legislation. I wouldn`t be here fighting for my constituents and their sacred right to vote. And that`s what we have to understand. All of this is because of one man`s inability to accept factual reality and because of one party`s complicity with that big lie.

And so I was proud to go into the lion`s den and expose that big lie for exactly what it is. We can`t treat voter suppression as a legitimate issue to be debated in the public square because it is not. It is not like any other issue. It is foundational, it is essential and eroding that is anti- American and undemocratic. And I`m proud to stand with my colleagues in fighting for our sacred right to vote here in Washington, D.C.

REID: And you were a middle school teacher, right, I think, you said in that segment?

TALARICO: That`s exactly right. And I am also a Texan.


We are a rowdy bunch and we know how to fight. So --

REID: Well, clearly Texans know how to fight. You guys are teaching us all how to fight. What did you teach in middle school? What subject?

TALARICO: Sixth Grade, language arts.

REID: Language arts. So, I mean, I have to ask you just as somebody who as you said, these are sixth or seventh generation Texans in the south, governing in the south, the atmosphere that Republicans have created. Has that filtered down to the level of, you know, the kids in your former school, their parents? What kind of atmosphere has been created by this zeal against history, against voting? Does it feel as much like war on the ground as it feels to us watching it happen here in D.C.?

TALARICO: Absolutely. Before I was a politician, I was a middle school teacher, as you mentioned. And I taught on the west side of San Antonio, beautiful historic Mexican-American neighborhood. And I only taught black and brown students and they and their families are the ones that are targeted by these types of extremist pieces of legislation, particularly this voter suppression bill.

And I -- when I ran for office, I ran to improve my community and I took a sacred oath in front of God, in front of my students, in front of my constituents to uphold the Constitution, not to uphold Greg Abbott`s extremist agenda. And I`m doing that here in Washington, D.C. I am fighting for my constituents` right to vote and I`m fighting for my former students and their right to vote and their family`s right to vote. That`s what was this entire trip is about. I am doing my job. Even though I`m not in Austin, I`m doing my job.

And unlike our home state senator of Ted Cruz, you know, I`m leaving the state to serve my constituents, not to abandon them.

REID: Amen to that. Xochitl, you know, the reason I wanted Representative Talarico to describe that the way it feels on the ground is I think a lot of folks worry that Democrats in Washington aren`t reacting with the same level of urgency that Representative Talarico and his fellow Texas Democrats are, right? That the sense in D.C. is that, well, you know, we`ll do a couple of bipartisan deals and, you know, we`ll pass a nice Juneteenth law, and everything will be fine. I worry that that`s what they think. Do you get the sense that that`s what they think?

XOCHITL HINOJOSA, BULLY PULPIT INTERACTIVE MANAGING DIRECTOR: Well, it does worry me as well. You have these Texas state representatives who are in the minority and have been in the minority for some time. They`re using every tool in their arsenal to stop a voter suppression bill right now and to protect black and brown people to make sure that they have the right to vote. That says a lot. They don`t have very many tools but they`re using everything. I think this has happened three times in history where they were able to break quorum.

And now they`re all in Washington, D.C. They`re pressuring the White House and Congress to act, and yet you don`t have Democrats who control the White House, the House and the Senate necessarily acting right now.

I do think that -- I mean, it would be a major contrast for Democrats right now to deliver on voting rights. You have a Republican Party right now who continues to back Donald Trump and the big lie and the majority of Americans don`t stand on the side of Republicans. They actually stand on the side of protecting voting rights. So it is a win-win for Democrats right now.

And what the American people want to see is bold action from the Democratic Party, and that is my hope that happens in the near future.

REID: Stuart, let me go to you real quick. Let me play for you the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, tweeted out a video in which he defended the law that they`re trying to pass that will limit the ability to vote. Take a listen.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): President Biden and the Democrats must stop the misinformation. Texas is very simply making it easier to vote and harder to cheat.


REID: That is the talking point, the easier to vote, harder to cheat talking point. But it`s obvious this when you read the letter of the law that that is not true. But I wonder if Democrats are -- because of the way that it`s being framed by Republicans, and Republican framing always seems to win because they`re good at it, it`s sort of anesthetizing D.C. Democrats.

Do you -- can you understand why Democrats seem -- in D.C. seem much more to be prioritizing cutting deals with Republicans and doing bipartisan bills with them and normalizing them than having the urgency to say, this is not -- this is not a normal Republican Party?

I say this all the time. My father was -- if he had been an American citizen, he would have been a Republican. He loved the Republican Party. He was a Reaganite. He`s rolling in his grave right now, being like, what is this? And so I -- do you think Democrats are almost anesthetized to it somehow in D.C. from the president on down?

STUART STEVENS, SENIOR ADVISER, THE LINCOLN PROJECT: Well look, on Greg Abbott, I mean somebody he won`t admit that the president of the United States is a legal president is not someone to listen to when it comes to the truth. It`s just straight up lie.


Look, I think the Democrats have to nationalize this election. And I was one of those Republicans on the other side that was not so bad at nationalizing election. They have to make 2022 a referendum on democracy. And I think what`s happening with the Texas Democrats is a tremendous help towards that.

But they`ve got to elevate this. So it`s not about this little bill or that little bill. It`s got to be about something big, that it`s patriotic, that it`s what America is about, that people fought and died for to defend.

Now, I get that they`re balanced with this. And Democrats still are a governing party. They actually want to govern. They want to get things done, unlike the Republican Party, which has become an autocratic movement.

So I get the push and pull, but, I mean, here in the Lincoln Project, we don`t have to defend any of that, we can just speak about it being an autocracy and we know these people well. But to win this election in 2022, which is going to be very tough for Democrats to do, they`re going to have to nationalize this around a great threat, and that great threat is a threat to voters (ph).

REID: I think that, that is true. I want to go back to Representative Talarico, because, right, you did not, I`m sure, run for office thinking that your cause was going to be defending American democracy from the other major political party, right? None of us really thought that the threat would be much greater from within than ever thinking about any foreign threat at this point.

And so I guess I wonder as you look at the coming election, how much jeopardy are we in if the laws in the state of Texas become not just standard there but all over the country?

TALARICO: Yes, this is a historic moment. We just celebrated America`s 244th birthday. And if we want this American experiment to survive for 244 more years, we have to act now.

And as was mentioned, Texas Democrats are the ultimate minority. We don`t hold the majority in the house, we don`t hold the majority in the state senate, we don`t have the governor`s mansion, and yet we were able to find a way to stop this bill in its tracks and stand up for democracy and voting rights at the same time. And we`re not asking Joe Manchin to sacrifice very much. All we`re asking is that he make one exception to one Senate rule to save this American experiment of ours.

You know, so many of my colleagues are making tremendous sacrifices, they`re leaving behind kids, they`re leaving behind elderly parents, they`re leaving behind sick loved ones. One of my colleagues canceled her wedding to be able to break quorum and kill this bill.

And so, the contrast between what we`ve had to do and what Joe Manchin has to do couldn`t be more stark. And, obviously, Joe Manchin`s task ahead is nothing compared to the sacrifices that brave Americans from Normandy to Selma had made to protect their sacred right to vote.

REID: Yes, absolutely. And your governor is acting like an old Jim Crow governor threatening to arrest you all when you get back.

Xochitl, is that going to happen? Are Democrats going to -- you know the people who made Joe Biden the nominee, and the only reason he`s president are the very voters who are being attacked now in these states. He said he was always going to have those voters` back. He said that out loud. It`s on tape. Is he going to allow Joe Manchin and Krystin Sinema`s love and devotion to the filibuster break, allow -- force them to break faith with those voters? Is that what`s happening? Are these two people going to force the president of the United States to break faith with the voters who got him in?

HINOJOSA: Well, I think that President Biden is committed to ensuring that something happens. If we continue to see that there is no action, then I do think that you will eventually see the White House put their political muscle around this to end a legislative procedure that makes no sense right now when it comes to voting rights, right, that`s standing in the way.

One of the things that you should have clipped earlier of Governor Abbott is misinformation. I think one thing that is lost in the messaging right now is that, you know, Republicans in Texas, the indicted attorney general in Texas actually admitted that the whole reason why this was happening is because in places like in Harris County in Houston, Texas, one of the largest counties in Texas, if they would have mailed applications to African-American and Latino voters that they would have --

REID: It would have lost.

HINOJOSA: -- lost the election in Texas.

REID: Yes.

HINOJOSA: Exactly.

And so, one of the things the Democrats must continue to do is to tell people exactly why they`re doing this. Combat the Republican lies that are in the state. And I`ve seen the Texas Democrats do a great job of that.

REID: And I know we`re out of time but very quickly before we go, I just want to tell you guys as you are calling your senators and everybody about these two bills, this is the difference between the two bills. HR 1, which you hear us talking a lot about, which is the For the People Act, this is an ambitious proposal. It would transform everything about elections. This is everything from campaign financing to the way that gerrymandering works and all of that sort of thing.


The John Lewis Act is a much narrower bill that just addresses reversing the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that made it harder to block racially discriminatory voting laws, basically putting preclearance back in.

All the other stuff, all the other stuff is in HR 1, meaning the campaign finance changes, making it easier to vote, making it harder to gerrymander, disclosure on people on people who give money.

Last word to you, Stuart. If we don`t do this, then what happens, in your view?

STEVENS: Well, look, I think it`s our inability to imagine what will happen --

REID: Yes.

STEVENS: -- which is (INAUDIBLE). It is a replay of 9/11. And we cannot imagine this attack on America. And we have to get out of that. We call it the American experiment because it could have failed. It was an experiment and it`s up to us to defend that.

REID: Absolutely. Texas State Representative James Talirico, cheers to you and all of the Texas Dems. Xochitl Hinojosa, Stuart Stevens, thank you very much. You guys are great.

Up next on THE REIDOUT white Republicans say that they know more about the teachings than Martin Luther King Jr. than black people.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Critical race theory, it goes against everything Martin Luther King has ever told us.


REID: Dr. Bernice King, help me out here. The CEO of the King Center and Daughter of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself joins me next.

Plus, new reporting from Michael Wolff on Trump`s frightening abdication of his duties in his final days in office as he pursued the big lie.

And a singer, Olivia Rodrigo, joins the fight to get people vaccinated. Tonight`s absolute worst are doing the opposite, fighting science instead.

Plus, my thoughts on the separate but equal doctrine in codified and Plessy versus Ferguson and why it seems to be making a big comeback in today`s GQP.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: Republicans have been doing a thing where they piously defend their partisan, calculated war on history by invoking the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

They repurpose his words to use them as a shield when defending their Jim Crow era war on facts.

Take a look.


SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): You`re hearing a lot about critical race theory. So what is it? This is a form of teaching that teaches our kids that America is systemically racist, and that you`re either an oppressor or a victim, and judge a person by the color of their skin, not the content of their character.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): As the Reverend Dr. King famously said, and he was right, we should judge our fellow citizens by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin.

Mr. President, we need a strong nation with strong citizens who see each other as Americans, not as oppressors or oppressed.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Critical race theory, it goes against everything Martin Luther King has ever told us. Don`t judge us by the color of our skin, and now they`re embracing it, right? They`re going backwards.



REID: In doing so, they dismiss and diminish the breadth of Dr. King`s actual work and teachings.

What they fail to note is that, throughout his life, Dr. King spoke regularly about eradicating racism, militarism and poverty. He called for a just and -- for just and equitable housing. He demanded that people be provided a livable wage and called for an end to health care disparities.

And, finally, and most enduringly, he worked to prevent voter suppression, a mission that remains just as urgent today as it was in 1963 because of the modern Republican Party.

You see, it`s easy to invoke a few lines that you memorized in high school from a speech, but it`s a lot harder to hear the totality of his message.

If they actually dug a little deeper or read a little more than just the CliffsNotes of his work, they would know that Dr. King also said -- and I will quote -- "It is obvious, if a man is entered at the starting line in a race 300 years after another man, the first would have to perform some impossible feat to catch up with his fellow runner" -- unquote.

What modern-day Republicans willfully ignore in the revisionist history of King is that, when he was alive, he was demonized, surveilled and accused of being -- wait for it -- a communist. Sound familiar?

What Kevin and his fellow Republicans might want to consider are a few other words from one of the reverend`s sermons -- quote -- "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

I`m joined now by Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO of The King Center and the daughter of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I`m so excited to have you on, Dr. King.

And I want to ask you...


REID: Well, I follow you on Twitter.

And I love every time you just lovingly rebuke these people who really in my mind pervert the meaning of your father`s words for their own purposes. How does it feel for you, as his daughter, to hear his name invoked in defense of refusing to teach history?

B. KING: Well, I mean, come on. It is insulting.

At one point in my life, I got really upset, until I understood the essence of what my father said in the quote you just mentioned about nothing more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

You know, I feel that I, along with my brother and those who represent this legacy, have a responsibility to continue to educate people on the truth of my father. You have done an excellent job in everything you just said about the fact that he was devoted to eradicating the triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism.

And while he invoked those words at the end of his speech, I encourage people to read the whole speech. I think there`s a danger to reading the last part. He was a preacher. Preachers will lay out conditions and circumstances and challenges. And, at the end, they want to leave you with a sense of hope.


That was the hope part of the speech. We hope that my children will live in this nation where they will be judged by the color of their -- I mean, the content of the character and not the color of the skin. But we`re not dismissing the fact that there are these conditions that he talked about during the "I Have a Dream` speech concerning the black community that have to be addressed.

He would never encourage us to ignore the conditions and not to put forth the effort to address them. But he would also encourage us to study the whole context of history.

REID: Yes. Yes.

B. KING: He did that in "Where Do We Go From Here." He laid out how we got to where we are.

And so daddy would never say, excuse the history and let`s just start here. You said it so excellently when he said, when you start behind in the race. He also said, if a nation has done something against a people for hundreds of years, then it must also turn around and do something for those people.

I would suggest, although he did not use the words reparations, he was suggesting reparations. Now, what that looks like practically is a whole `nother discussion. And so that`s why I always say, do not take excerpts from my father. Study him holistically. There is a lot -- he wrote extensively.

That`s the beauty of all of this. No matter what people try to say, there are books out. And I thank God we just did a new publishing deal, so there are going to be more books out and more writings, so that the record will continue to be straight.

REID: Yes.

B. KING: And I thank God that he was able to write like this, because for people to be able to misappropriate him this way is actually beyond insulting.

REID: Yes.

B. KING: But what helps me and gives me relief is the scripture you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.

REID: Amen. Amen.

B. KING: And so I`m free from the anger. And I see my responsibility to say, no, you will not misappropriate my father this way, because that is not -- I`m one of those four children.

And, frankly, I don`t like the state and condition of black America right now, not because of anything we did, but because of what has been -- not just been done to us, but things that are continuing to be done.

You know, I can talk about some things personally...

REID: Yes.

B. KING: ... just living in the neighborhood that I live in, the redlining that goes on.

REID: Yes.

B. KING: So, yes, there`s -- exactly.

So, no, they don`t have a right to do it. And they will continue to do it. And thank God for you and so many other voices. And we will continue to speak truth proudly.

REID: And people -- it feels like people have sort of Muppetized your father.

They only know that one line, the color of our skin, content of our character, and they really don`t know anything else about him.

B. KING: Exactly.

REID: He wrote a sermon at one point in which he said, America might go to hell, which Jeremiah Wright sort of teed off of.

B. KING: Yes.

Well, he never got to do -- he never got to deliver that sermon. That was the sermon...

REID: Amen.

B. KING: ... he was going to deliver the Sunday after he was assassinated.

REID: That`s right.

B. KING: And, in fact, he told my mother several months before, he said, all of the signs for the rise of fascism are here in our nation.

REID: OK. He was a prophet.

B. KING: And she explicitly told me that over and over again.

REID: Yes.

B. KING: I don`t know why. But she told me in her latter -- in the latter days.

And, look, look where we are.

REID: And look where we are.

Let me play another -- this is another sound bite of your father. This was in July 5, 1963, talking about another thing we talked about a lot now, the filibuster. Take a listen.


MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: The tragedy is that we have a Congress with a Senate that has a minority of misguided senators who will use the filibuster to keep the majority of people from even voting.

They won`t let the majority senators vote. And, certainly, they wouldn`t want the majority of people to vote, because they know they do not represent the majority of the American people.

In fact, they represent in their own states a very small minority.


REID: The irony is that, at that time, these were the Southern Democrats, the Dixiecrats, who were filibustering and trying to stop civil rights.

B. KING: That`s right.

REID: What do you make of the fact that the Republican Party has now taken that up as their mantle, and that some Democrats are still clinging to the filibuster to not stop them from taking away voting rights?

B. KING: You know, I have agonized about this over and over and over again, because I know it`s a difficult place.

In some regards, the filibuster can be used appropriately. But, in other regards, such as now, it`s used inappropriately. And so I understand the difficulty in coming to a decision to kind of do that nuclear option and getting rid of it.

REID: Sure. Yes. Yes.


B. KING: But we`re dealing with something so dire that, to me, can really break our democracy.

REID: Yes.

B. KING: And when you get to that place, you may have to take that chance...

REID: That`s right.

B. KING: ... and trust that the universe will be on the side of justice and come around going forward and protect us.

REID: Yes. Amen. Yes. Yes.

B. KING: But it`s at that place.

But I`m telling you, I have agonized, because I am not getting rid of it.

REID: Yes. Absolutely.

Well, Dr. Bernice King, it`s such an honor to talk to you. Thank you very much. We really appreciate that, all you do for the country. And thank you, thank you, thank you really appreciate it.

All right, well, still ahead, stunning revelations about Donald Trump`s final days in office in a new book by Michael Wolff. The bottom line? It was way worse than we ever imagined.

Michael Wolff joins us next.



REID: A slate of new books on the Trump administration are being released this month.

And each of them paints a devastating picture of the ex-president`s last year in office. Among them is "Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency" by Michael Wolff, which portrays how we were essentially living on a knife`s edge following the November election.

According to Wolff, Trump was so distracted by his pursuit of the big lie, that nobody was running the country during the entire transition period. He writes that, by late November. Trump "had given up on any interest or pretense in executive matters. The election challenge had made everything else meaningless. All daily briefings were canceled, including national security briefings. All efforts to return his attention to pandemic issues, vaccine rollout or critical intelligence failed.

"Never before, it seemed to many, had a sitting president so abdicated his prescribed and daily duties, and so turned from the most critical issues of the moment."


Michael Wolff, the author of "Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency, " joins me now.

And, Michael, that is pretty stunning. We were essentially without a president from the moment of the election on. Did he ever reengage?

MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, "LANDSLIDE: THE FINAL DAYS OF THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY": He was solely focused on the election that he felt was stolen from him, in every possible way.

I mean, there was no moment when he turned away from that issue. So anything else that was not involved with that was, he was -- he was absent from, uninterested in, and, in many ways, contemptuous of.

REID: You also write that he actually tried to delay the election and use COVID to do it. Can you elaborate on that?

WOLFF: Well, this was during the campaign, when things were going badly. And, obviously, COVID was keeping him from his beloved stadium mass -- stadium mass meetings. He said, well why don`t we just delay the election? People can`t vote. They can`t get to the ballot. They can`t cast their ballot. Let`s just delay it.

And this was -- I know of two occasions when he said this. And on both occasions, he was met with horror from the people around him.

REID: And whose job was it to, I don`t know, stuff these ideas in a drawer and just not do them? How did the chiefs, how did the staff, the White House staff, react to this? Did they just pretend they didn`t hear him and just not do it?

Did he ever follow up and say, why isn`t the election delayed?

WOLFF: I mean, essentially, that was the skill or the craft of working for Donald Trump, of being an aide to Donald Trump, is not to carry out what he wanted to do, but the exact opposite, not to carry out what he wanted to do.

And I think that that was -- this is largely over the course of four years.

REID: Yes. Yes.

WOLFF: Donald Trump just spews whatever comes into his head. That`s what he says he wants.

And the overwhelming portion of that was stuff that he, A, couldn`t do, B, shouldn`t do...

REID: Yes.

WOLFF: ... and, C, no one was going to let him do so.

So -- yes, so he was -- in a real way, the country was -- he was subverted by his staff. The country was protected by his staff.

REID: And that`s what Anonymous, though we know now Miles Taylor, said in his letter as well.

I am fascinated by what you write about Donald Trump`s treatment of his sycophants, because it`s not shocking that he doesn`t really respect many of these people. But some of the treatment of them is pretty wild.

You write the Donald Trump claim that Chris Christie, who was one of his main sycophants, gave him COVID. "Trump blamed Christie giving him COVID -- Christie for giving him COVID. Christie had sat across from him at the debate prep table, and Trump had seen the spittle out of his mouth and tried to duck from the droplets."

Is there any evidence to that? Or is it just his sort of general contempt for people who kiss up to him? They -- also, you have a story here that he said that...

WOLFF: Well, no, I mean, it`s -- it`s quite possible that Chris Christie did him give COVID.


REID: That he did. Yes, yes.

Well, the other one that...


WOLFF: I mean, it`s also possible that the president gave him COVID.

REID: Gave him COVID, right.

WOLFF: But all throughout the -- remember that in -- the White House was as a dangerous place to be as a nursing home.

REID: Absolutely. That`s right.

WOLFF: Everybody`s got COVID. And everybody blamed everybody else for giving them COVID.

REID: The -- another sycophant who he treated quite poorly, I suppose, you could say, is Bill Barr, not that one has much sympathy.

You said: "Trump had been personally calling around to various U.S. attorneys in swing state districts trying to get them to open investigations into election fraud." This is after the election. "He blamed their resistance and defiance on Barr."

And this is a pretty dramatic quote. "`If I had won, ` the president said, `Barr would have licked the floor if I asked him to.


What a phony.

I have to be honest with you. This is one of those cases where I actually think Donald Trump is right. William Barr would have licked the floor.

WOLFF: Absolutely. So, I mean, that was -- that was one of those things and it`s kind of a thing -- I think Trump felt himself losing power. I mean, he must have felt this --

REID: Yeah.

WOLFF: -- as after November 3rd, you know, I mean, the rats were leaving the ship. I mean -- and he must have felt that. It must have increased his desperation.

REID: I mean, he even was able to get Ronna Romney McDaniel to drop Romney from her name. I mean, the amount of sycophancy. Can you -- have you been able to sort of discern from talking to so many people -- why is it that somebody who seemed in so many ways feeble minded was able to attract still so much sycophantic loyalty and get people to go along with so much of this garbage?

WOLFF: Well, you know, I think that that might actually not be the case. So there was -- everybody who was around Trump in my experience, everybody -- there`s -- there`s some -- there`s a clear-eyed recognition Donald Trump is crazy. Donald Trump has to be managed. Donald Trump is going to ask us to do things that we cannot do.

REID: Yeah.

WOLFF: Throughout this thing, many of his lawyers, not Rudy Giuliani which is another story, but many of the White House lawyers said, I`m not going to do this.

REID: Yeah.

WOLFF: I`m not going to risk my career. I`m not going to go to jail for Donald Trump.

REID: Yeah, too many of them were willing to do that. The book is called "Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency." I`m going to pick it up.

Thank you very much, Michael. Best of luck with the book -- Michael Wolff.

And up next, as the White House adds some star power to their vaccine outreach, the conservatives` war on this life-saving vaccine is reaching a fever pitch. Tonight`s absolute worse is straight ahead and it`s terrifying. You don`t want to miss it.



REID: Unlike the former occupant of the White House who couldn`t manage to get any A-list stars to support his initiatives, Kanye West not included, we saw how that went. Today, the biggest pop star in the country, Olivia Rodrigo, teamed up with President Biden to tell young people that the COVID vaccine is good for you.

She met with President Biden and Dr. Fauci today, part of the campaign to urge young millennials and Gen-Zers to get their shot, to stay happy and healthy. She also recorded videos for her 24 million followers on Instagram and TikTok, touting the vaccine as safe and effective.

Now, if you ask, who`s that? Eighteen-year-old Olivia Rodrigo has the number one song and album in the country, thank you very much. And her debut single, "Driver`s License", is the biggest song of the year, smashing daily and weekly streaming records. See what you learn on cable?

It all comes at a critical time as the vaccination rates are lagging among young adults and as the delta variant fuels COVID outbreak, particularly among young people. The White House messaging stands in stark contrast with the vaccine skeptic, death cult messaging from Republican lawmakers in Tennessee who decided that you can`t tell teenagers anything whatsoever, halting all vaccine outreach of any kind. After the state`s top vaccination official was fired for sending a memo suggesting teens could get vaccinated without their parents` permission.

Dr. Michelle Fiscus spoke with Chris Hayes last night.


DR. MICHELLE FISCUS, FORMER TENNESSEE VACCINES DIRECTOR: And now has devolved into a moratorium on messaging for any kind of vaccine to children, whether that`s infants, or children for back to school vaccines or HPV vaccines and even canceling school-based flu immunization clinics schedule for the fall as a result of the saber-rattling amongst some of our legislators.


REID: Well, it`s no surprise since the right wing talking heads Tuckems and Laura Ingraham over at Fox are trying to get their viewers killed by smearing the vaccine. And a Fox News castoff over at Newsmax casually spouted some eugenics while knocking vaccines.


ROB SCHMITT, NEWSMAX ANCHOR: I`ve always thought about vaccines. I think about just nature and the way everything works and I feel like a vaccination in a weird way is just generally kind of going against nature. Like, I mean, if there is some disease out there, maybe there`s just an ebb and flow to life where something`s supposed to wipe out a certain amount of people and that`s just kind of the way evolution goes.


REID: Just say no to drugs. Oh. No, no, no, all that is wrong. The anti- vaccine idiocy in Tennessee also comes as Republican lawmakers push to make vaccine deniers a protected class against discrimination. Montana recently passed a law doing just that with employment. Meanwhile, Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis who infamously banned businesses from requiring proof of vaccination is branding his opposition to COVID restrictions, selling anti-Fauci merch from his campaign website, as Florida sees some of the highest rates of new cases in the country. That is the why the Republican death cult vaccine disinformation and war on public health is yet again tonight`s absolute worst.


REID: OK. So, this happened yesterday on old Fox News.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America was not founded on racism. Don`t get me wrong. Yeah, there was slavery going on but slavery itself was not initially a racist thing. It never was about race initially. So, to sit there and take it like America was founded on racism is a complete lie.


REID: Okay. So here`s the problem. History would like to have a word with either that guy or whoever brokered his soul. Hope he got a good check.

OK. See, the way that the MAGA right is currently in this country, setting like going to war over history and antiracism education when they fake call it critical race theory, it`s basically a freak-out over white Americans becoming more woke on matters of race. Now you`d think based on that freak- out that critical race theorists or authors of wokeness self-help books, Robin DiAngelo, or anti-racism Ibrahim X. Kendi invented race, to hear the right wingers tell it.

But the truth is, if y`all hate talking about race, you`re going to want to have a word with your precious Founding Fathers because as actual critical race theorists will tell you, race is not a biological reality, it`s a cultural construct and one that was literally an idea born right here in the good old USA.

Now, for most of modern history, Europeans didn`t use anything to describe white other than wealthy women who didn`t work in the mines. Up until the 17th century when the Europeans who colonized this country started using white to distinguish themselves from the so-called savages, the indigenous people they decided to enslave but mostly killed off with germs and from those of Africa -- those of African dissent who they decided by definition because they had colored blood were unequal, enslavable, but also their children, their children`s children forever to be owned by the slave owner and to be traded and sold around like cattle which is why American slavery was called chattel slavery.

That was true even if their children looked like this. They passed a Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 that gave any white person the right to kidnap and re-enslave any black person who escaped from bondage and even collect a bounty. They even invented words, like entire words to designate how much colored blood a person had in them. Octoroon for 1/8 and quadroon for 1/4 and mulatto.

Race is very much an American, specifically a white American invention. Enter one Homer Plessy, a very dapper 19th century New Orleans shoemaker, born in 1862 as a freed color person his descriptor under American law. Besides being a shoemaker, Mr. Plessy was an activist. He was part of a group in New Orleans who were determined to overturn the laws that began segregating white and non-white people after Union troops pulled out of the South in 1877.

No one really knows what he looked like, but this mural was a pretty good guesstimate, because Homer Plessy, who descended from the white Haitian plantation owners who fled to New Orleans after the enslaved rebelled and overthrew slavery there was only 1/8 black. In American terms an Octoroon. In short, he looked very much like a white man.

At age 30, he volunteered to challenge the Louisiana Separate Car Act of 1890, which designated nice clean train cars for white riders, and basic, barely better than cattle cars for colored riders, but technically, equal accommodations.

So, on a hot day, in June of 1892, Mr. Plessy bought a first class ticket in a whites-only car in New Orleans and he had chosen, by the way, to be the guy because of how white he looked. A conductor who was also in on the plan asked him if he was colored. When he said, yes, I am, the conductor ordered him to sit in the colored car. After he refused he was dragged off the train in handcuffs and charged with violating that Separate Cars Act.

The citizen groups hired Albion Winegar Tourgee, a white lawyer from New York which fought for the rights of African-Americans. And Mr. Tourgee filed suit against the judge who originally charged Mr. Plessy, Judge John H. Ferguson.

Now, unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court would reach the same decision in the infamous case Plessy versus Ferguson, which established the concept of separate but equal in American law, an idea that persisted all the way through the 1950s, when Rosa Parks did the exact same thing that Mr. Plessy did, volunteering as an activist member of the NAACP to refuse to move to the colored section of a public bus in the 1950s.

But it was the way that the Plessy versus Ferguson ruling played out that relates to what we`re dealing with today. In that infamous ruling, the justices found that there was nothing wrong with making Mr. Plessy and other colored riders use a separate car. Quote, we consider the underwriting fallacy of Plessy`s argument, Justice Henry Brown wrote, to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of interiority. If this be so, it`s not by reason of anything found in the act but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.

In other words, it was basically just an inconvenience. It was separate but so what? Black people could ride, right? If they felt bad about it, no harm-no foul in America.

That`s basically the same logic that Justice Samuel Alito used to justify the Arizona voter restrictions. Sure, having your polling place moved at the last minute because you`re in a Democratic precinct is inconvenient and making it so hard to vote absentee that only rich people can do it, and mostly black and brown people get stuck standing in 7-hour lines an inconvenience, but you can vote, right, eventually, somewhere?

And you can use that argument literally for almost everything. Like Tucker Carlson bemoaning diversity in neighborhoods. In his book, he writes, if you grew up in America, suddenly nothing looks the same. Your neighbors are the different. You may not recognize your hometown. Human beings aren`t wired for that. They can`t digest change at this pace.

Or when Rand Paul defended restaurant discrimination.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": How about desegregating lunch counters? Lunch counters?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Well, what it gets into is that then if you decide that restaurants are publicly owned and not privately owned, does the owner of the restaurant own his restaurant or does the government own his restaurant? These are important philosophical debates but not very practical discussion.


REID: I mean, freedom of choice, am I right? Unless you want you have your staff or customers wear a mask or get vaccinated, or die of COVID.

In short, the MAGA right wants to take us backwards, to Homer Plessy`s America, where discrimination and disparate treatment are just an inconvenience and those demanding inequality are the ones who got the problem.

And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT.