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Transcript: The ReidOut, 7/27/21

Guests: Stephanie Murphy, Cedric Alexander, Glenn Kirschner, Vivek Murthy

Summary

Select committee begins hearing testimony on January 6. Officers testify on trauma as a result of the Capitol attack. Fanone says, GOP`s indifference is disgraceful. America hears emotional testimony from officers who defended Capitol. Officer Dunn says, the scariest thing is that the insurrectionists still think that they were right. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is interviewed. Since taking office six months ago, President Biden has made a point of trying to restore public faith in government institutions after four years of unrelenting assault at the hands of the former one-term, twice impeached president. And today, President Biden delivered that message directly to the intelligence community.

Transcript

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Okay, I`m out of time. "THE REIDOUT" starts now, Tiffany Cross in for Joy.

Hi, Tiffany.

TIFFANY CROSS, MSNBC HOST: Hi Ari, I suspect you have an idea who bought whooping album. I suspect it`s you. You`re the hip-hop kind of (INAUDIBLE) here. I wouldn`t be surprised.

MELBER: I wish.

CROSS: All right. Well, cash means everything around me so I better earn it. So, all right, Ari, I`ll take it from here. Have a good night, my friend. And thank you so much.

And good evening, everybody at home, I`m Tiffany Cross in for Joy Reid. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with that stunning testimony from Capitol Hill. In their very first hearing today, the bipartisan House select committee investigating January 6th heard from those four police officers who risked their lives to defend the Capitol.

Now, those officers described the siege in harrowing detail recounting the trauma they endured at the hands of violent insurrectionists. And, listen, I should warn, some of what you`re about to see and hear is quite disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OFFICER MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: What I witnessed and experienced on January 6th, 2021 was unlike anything I had ever seen.

SGT. AQUILINO GONELL, CAPITOL POLICE: On January 6, for the first time, I was more afraid to work at the Capitol than my entire deployment to Iraq.

OFFICER HARRY DUNN, CAPITOL POLICE: Until then, I had never seen anyone physically assault Capitol police or MPD, let alone witness mass assaults being perpetrated on law enforcement officers.

GONELL: What we were subjected that day was like something from a medieval battle. We fought hand-to-hand, inch-by-inch, to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by a violent mob intent on subverting our democratic process.

FANONE: At some point during the fighting, I was dragged from the line of officers and into the crowd. I heard someone scream. I got one. As I was swarmed by a violent mob, they ripped off my badge and I heard people in the crowd yelling, get his gun, kill him with his own gun.

They tortured me. They beat me. I was struck with a taser device at the base of my skull numerous times. And they continued to do so until I yelled out that I have kids.

OFFICER DANIEL HODGES, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: My arms were pinned and effectively useless, trapped against the shield on my left or the door frame on my right. A man seized the opportunity of my vulnerability, grabbed the front of my gas mask and used it to beat my head against the door. I was unable to retreat. I was crushed up against the door frame.

GONELL: I too was being crushed by the rioters. I could feel myself losing oxygen and recall thinking to myself, this is how I`m going to die, defending this entrance.

DUNN: I was physically exhausted and it was hard to breathe and to see because of all the chemical spray in the air, and now receiving private counseling therapy for the persistent emotional trauma of that day.

GONELL: That day continue to be a constant trauma for us literally every day.

FANONE: I`ve been left with the psychological trauma and the emotional anxiety of having survived such a horrific event.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROSS: Okay. Because you`re seeing thinking rational people, you can plainly see this was not a normal tourist visit nor the loving crowd that Trump and his sycophants have described. In fact, the officers testifying today rightly described the armed mob as terrorists.

And if there are still any lingering questions about the type of people that descended on the Capitol that day, just listen to this revealing anecdote from Officer Harry Dunn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DUNN: One woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled, you hear that, guys, this (BLEEP) voted for Joe Biden. Then the crowd, perhaps around 20 people, joined in screaming, boo, (BLEEP). No one had ever, ever called me a (BLEEP) while wearing the uniform of a Capitol police officer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: So some people may have been shocked. Forgive my lack of surprise. This comes as the GOP continues their attempts to whitewash and even condone the actions of the insurrectionists. With the exception of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, they couldn`t even be bothered to show up.

By boycotting the investigation, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his caucus have turned their backs on the very officers who saved their lives. In their attempts to downplay the insurrection earned them this emotional rebuke from Officer Fanone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FANONE: The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful.

Nothing, truly nothing has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day, and in doing so, betray their oath of office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[19:05:03]

CROSS: To Fanone`s point, Kevin McCarthy is so indifferent to the events of January 6th that he didn`t even bother to watch the hearing on T.V. today. In contrast, today`s witnesses, who are on the frontlines of that attack implored the committee to get to the bottom of what happened. They were emphatic in their view that any political leaders who incited the mob to violence must be held accountable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FANONE: That is what I am looking for is an investigation into those actions and activities which may have resulted in the events of January 6th, and also whether or not there was collaboration between those members, their staff and these terrorists.

HODGES: I need you guys to address if anyone in power had a role in this.

DUNN: There was an attack carried out on January 6th and a hitman sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: With me now is Cedric Alexander, former member of President Obama`s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and a former Public Safety Director in DeKalb County, Georgia. Thank you so much for being here.

I have to say, I don`t exactly know what a blue life is, but I certainly heard that they mattered a lot any time we started talking about Black Lives Matter. So given the fact that these patriots were so outraged that they were attacking these law enforcement officers here, what do you make of that? Do blue lives matter to these folks or was it about something else?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. Well, thank you, and thank you for having me here with you tonight. Well, let me say this. The most important thing that I`m going to talk about were the men in blue who were at that testimony today, who gave testimony. They were courageous, they were brave, they were outspoken, and they were extremely hurt and angered still because of what happened to them on January 6th.

But more importantly than this, when I look at the four of them, I see four men that could have worked for me during my time as a chief, four men that I would have been responsible for to make sure that they get home every day, four men who I know fought courageously along with many others who were overwhelmed by a crowd of 9,000 to 10,000 others who were trying to do harm to them and cause an insurrection in this country.

Those men and those women who were there that day and the four who represent that entire Capitol Police here, those are the ones who made us - - who made it possible for us to this very day right now to have a democracy, to live in a republic at this very moment. They fought and gave everything they could.

What they`re asking for, today in front of Congress, a bipartisan group, is that would you just look into what caused this, what created this, that I almost lost my life and Officer Sicknick, a colleague, a friend, a brother (INAUDIBLE) lost his life. That`s all they`re asking for. They are the true patriot and they are the lives that matter to all of us because they`re the ones who put it on the line for us all on January 6th.

CROSS: They absolutely did and then did so with valor. It was hard to deny that today when you hear this testimony. However, I do want to address the point that they talked about fellow officers being in that crowd. Nearly three dozen law enforcement officers are suspected of playing a role in this insurrection. And we`ve seen these things happen and play out throughout the country.

What do you make of the fact that there were so many officers among this crowd and that they were fighting essentially their own? And how do we address that situation when we take it out of Capitol Hill and go to communities across the country?

ALEXANDER: You know, those that were there that were former military, active duty military, former police, maybe active police officers that we know were there, they have the right to support whoever they want to support. What they did not have the right to do was to break the law, was to do so harm to others.

It is a black guy, law enforcement across this country and to our military, those who currently may serve and those who have served in the past. Because there were your brother officers, your fellow soldiers, that you did not stand with but you were really trying to do harm to.

When you listen to the testimony of Officer Fanone and you hear him speak so vividly and so passionately about a point at which he thought he was going to lose his life, being beat with an American flag with this blue lives matter flag and with all other kinds of instruments that they could get their hands on, it is -- it is unspeakable.

I`ve been around law enforcement 40-plus years of my life and I have never witnessed this before.

[19:10:03]

And it is shameful for those in the law enforcement profession, in the military who involve themselves in this. Yes, you have the right to support whoever you want, and I will stand with you. But what I will not stand with you on as a fellow police officer is what you did that day and the shame and embarrassment that you caused to law enforcement across this country and to your own respective departments and whatever military you may have represented in the past.

That is unbecoming of an officer. It`s unbecoming of a gentleman. We all have first, second, all our rights we have the right to free speech. But what happened on January 6th, as far as the profession of law enforcement is concerned, we`re battling at this very moment to maintain our integrity and our legitimacy in policing. And when the American people see this, it just brings further disdain.

But those men and women who were out there tonight both in our military and our police, they will continue to do what they were sworn to do, and those are the ones that I stand with. Those are the ones that I will fight with. And those are the ones that I would die with. And there`s other out there just like me who support those who are doing it the right way.

CROSS: Yes. Well, the imagery you described is striking, from the blue lives matter crowd attacking these officers, hurling racist slurs to the black and brown officer who was there. I think Officer Dunn rightly reminds us this is, in fact, America.

Thank you so much, Cedric Alexander, for joining us. We`ll have to have you back soon.

I want to bring in now Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Florida. She is a member of the January 6th select committee. Congresswoman, so happy to have you here.

I found your line of questioning very personal and very touching when you talked about your own story and your own fear that day. I`m curious, I know, you know, how it works on Capitol Hill when you are engaging in this kind of testimony. What did you hear today that surprised you?

REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): Well, it`s good to be with you, Tiffany. And I thought today`s testimony was intense and heart-wrenching and really underscored the bravery and the courage of the law enforcement officers who were there that day trying to hold the line and to defend democracy. And what you saw today was four members of hundreds of people in law enforcement that did fight back that day. And those stories were just -- they were just incredible.

I think a couple of things I took away from what they said was they endured incredible amounts of pain and were brutally assaulted and massively outnumbered, and yet they had the courage to continue to find a place to be useful and to be helpful and to keep defending democracy. And that determination to keep the members and staff on the Hill safe and to understand what was at stake that day was incredibly impressive.

The other thing I heard them say loud and clear was they fought for our democracy and now they`re acting -- they`re asking their elected leaders to fight for accountability. That`s the bare minimum that they deserve for their sacrifice is that we should get to the truth around what led up to and what occurred on January 6th. And then we should provide recommendations on how to ensure that never happens again.

CROSS: Well, speaking of getting accountability, I want you to take a listen to something Officer Harry Dunn said about how scary it is that people continue to believe this lie, and I`ll get your reaction on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DUNN: One of the scariest things about January 6th is that the people that were there, even to this day, think that they were right. They think that they were right. And that makes for a scary recipe for the future of this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: So I know what we hear publicly. However, these are your Republican colleagues. You guys see each other, you pass each other in the hall, you speak. Is there anybody on the Republican side of the caucus who quietly says this is all so embarrassing, this is ridiculous? That`s my first question.

And the second question is do you personally suspect any of your Republican colleagues of intentionally or unintentionally aiding some of these insurrectionists? And if so, who?

MURPHY: I agree with Officer Dunn that the nature of the folks who showed up and how deeply they believed in their cause is something that we have to better understand because it is a our democracy and to the future of our country, the law enforcement, for the average homemaker, the jet setting heiress, just the makeup of the folks who participated in this extremist act was very different than what we think of as violent extremists, so we have to better understand that.

[19:15:06]

And, of course, there are Republicans who will acknowledge that the attack on January 6th was undemocratic and that they`re horrified by it.

Unfortunately, there aren`t as many voices who are willing to publicly participate in this committee so that we -- and be partners with us the way that Representative Cheney and Representative Kinzinger are in trying to find the truth. But this committee is committed to that and we will follow the evidence to whomever and wherever they lead.

CROSS: Well, I want to follow up on something you said because you`re saying we have to better understand these people. You know, it almost sounds like let`s add some humanity to who these people were. And so I`m curious, are you saying we need to better understand them or we need to better prosecute them? I mean, where do you fall on that? Yes.

MURPHY: So the Department of Justice, they are prosecuting the individuals. What I want to understand is this extremist movement that has made it into what we would normally consider mainstream. The -- and what that -- why we need to understand that is so that we can better adapt our counterextremist tool sets to this new type of extremism that we`re seeing across this country.

These are people who are committed to using violence to ensure the political outcome that they want. That is incredibly dangerous within a democracy. And I want to be able to understand how they were funded, who organized them, what communications channels they used so that we can better disrupt and deter them for any future attacks.

CROSS: All right. And my last question before I let you go, how do you -- how does the committee plan on enforcing subpoenas? You know, I imagine, based on the reporting, that you will have to call Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. I imagine we`ll have to hear from Don Jr., Ivanka, but, quite frankly, Democrats have had a weaker record on getting some of these folks to show up. What`s the plan to get them to compel them to testify?

MURPHY: I think that we will use all of the tools that are available to us to ensure that we can get as much evidence as possible. But beyond the specific elected officials that have demonstrated a resistance in the past to providing information, they were staffed that day, and those individuals can be called for their version of what happened with their elected. They were there for those conversations too.

So this investigation has to be broad and we have to bring in anyone who has the information that can help us better put together a picture of January 6th to ensure that it never happens again.

CROSS: All right. We`re running out of time but thank you so much, Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, for your testimony today and for joining us.

And don`t go anywhere because we have a lot more to talk about.

Up next, the striking contrast between the deadly serious business of investigating an insurrection and the Republican clown car.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): You will be remembered as heroes to our country along with your fellow officers and those who attacked you and those who beat you are fascist traitors to our country and will be remembered forever as fascist traitors.

REP. JIM BANKS (R-IN): Clearly, this is politically designed by the Democrats to stop Republicans from winning back the majority in the midterm election. Democrats want to talk about January 6th. They want to beat up on Republicans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: From one traumatizing situation to another, we`re also going to get into it`s starting to look a lot more like last year, COVID. COVID cases are rising. And late today, the CDC reversed its guidance on masks.

And sucking up to Trump usually works. So imagine being the only member of the Bush family to go totally MAGA only to be kicked to the curb by the orange Florida retiree.

THE REIDOUT continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:23:14]

CROSS: So, the contrast between the legitimate investigation into the January 6 insurrection and the Republican sideshow to discredit it was on full display today, between the revisionist spin from the Republican leaders before and after today`s hearing, to the two Republicans willing to tell the truth about this, Representatives Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Speaker Pelosi will only pick on -- people onto the committee that will ask the question she wants asked.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): We still don`t know exactly what happened. Why? Because many in my party have treated this as just another partisan fight.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): The American people deserve to know the truth, that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on January 6.

CHENEY: No member of Congress should now attempt to defend the indefensible, obstruct this investigation, or whitewash what happened that day.

REP. JIM BANKS (R-IN): I have yet to meet a Republican in Congress who has minimized and doesn`t believe that what happened on January 6 was serious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: But at that same time that Republican committee reject Jim Banks was telling that blatant lie, members of the sedition caucus held an event protesting the treatment of alleged insurrectionists in federal custody, before that event was shut down by counterprotesters.

For her part, Congresswoman Cheney, who, as a reminder, is still very much a Republican, summed up her party`s pathetic state:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY: The fact that they have gone from recognizing what happened on the 6th to protesting in front of the Justice Department on behalf of those who were part of the insurrection is something that I can`t explain.

[19:25:06]

I think it`s a disgrace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: OK, meanwhile, both Republican leaders, or, should we say followers, Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell, said they didn`t even watch today`s hearing because of meetings and work.

Uh-huh.

Joining me now is Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor, and Charlie Sykes, editor at large for The Bulwark and MSNBC columnist.

Charlie -- so happy to have you both here.

Charlie, I want to start with you.

I have to say, I really want to have an honest conversation, and let`s talk about the thing. So, when Liz Cheney and a lot of the other members, quite frankly, they were saying, how did this happen, why did this happen, I just really wonder if Republicans understand that so much of the policy they pushed for a long time helped pave the road for Donald Trump and helped pave the road for this.

When you tell us certain sect of society that the country that you didn`t build, that you didn`t discover is yours, then certainly you -- this is inevitable. This is an inevitable way of speaking.

And so I`m just curious, from your end, do you think that, is there any chance of these never-Trumpers recognizing that and changing course and trying to preserve their party and saying, oh, our bad, we didn`t know how awful we were before?

CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC COLUMNIST: Well, look, that`s a discussion that we can have.

But rather than describing them as never-Trumpers, I think you need to describe Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger as pro-democracy Republicans. And they`re willing to take a stand.

And, by the way, I really liked what you just did there with the split- screen, because you are seeing the two faces of the Republican Party. This was as close -- what happened today was as close to a "Have you no shame?" moment that we`re going to see in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, the people that most needed to be shamed were not there and were not watching it. But I was really struck by the way that these pro- democracy Republicans -- I`m sorry -- the Republicans dominated the news cycle today.

But, unfortunately for Kevin McCarthy, they were Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney. And so I think the contrast that was set up today is incredibly damaging to a Republican Party that is not only not asking the questions that you -- that you just raised, but seems to be committed to going deeper and deeper into denial, obstruction, disinformation, and support for sedition.

So I have to say I had reasonably high expectations for today, but they were exceeded. This was -- this was a day that really did feel like an inflection point. And you had the two faces of the Republican Party on very vivid display.

CROSS: Yes. And I take all your points. I think you make some really good ones, Charlie.

I guess my problem in calling them pro-democracy Republicans is because Liz Cheney vigorously opposed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. She campaigned for Donald Trump.

SYKES: Yes.

CROSS: I mean, she has called the American Rescue Plan as a dangerous package of far left policies that would allow taxpayer money to fund abortion.

I mean, these are the things that lead to this. So I just think if we ask the question, why did this happen, let`s have an honest, unfiltered conversation about why this happened.

SYKES: No, and I -- and I`m there for that, that conversation.

However, the -- this is a moment where it`s all hands on deck. And I think that you need to give credit for -- to the courage of these folks who have broken with their tribe, who are willing to put their careers on the line to say, look, we may differ on a lot of different policy.

And I differ. I mean, I was very frustrated by Liz Cheney for her support for Donald Trump, even after it was obvious who he was. And so we differ on a lot of different things. But this is a moment when everyone has to stand up, when you have to welcome the people who are saying, you know what, I can`t stand with my party anymore. I cannot be with these folks. I`m not going to buy into this lie. And I`m going to take a stand.

So all of our differences, we can have this debate, but let`s set it aside and understand that, if this is an existential threat to democracy, let`s act like it is, and let`s welcome everybody who is willing to engage in this fight.

CROSS: Yes, Charlie, you sound like all of my friends and family. I am petty and unforgiving with a good memory and keep receipts.

(LAUGHTER)

CROSS: But, yes, I hear you, because a lot of people tell me the same thing.

Glenn, let me turn to you. As a former federal prosecutor, what was something that you would have asked today or that you would ask of another witness that would help really produce some tangible consequences for the people who tried to overthrow the government?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Tiffany, I think one of the things that I`m hoping we get some information about is, what happened that allowed this angry mob, these insurrectionists to so easily overrun the Capitol?

Think about this. We saw police officers testify from only two police agencies, Capitol Police -- and that is the only law enforcement agency under the control of Congress -- and the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C. That agency is under the control of the city government of the District of Columbia, Mayor Muriel Bowser.

[19:30:13]

What I would really like to know is, was the Capitol set up for failure that day? Because think back to the BLM protests. We had every executive branch law enforcement agency known to man available to provide security, whether it was, FBI, DEA, ATF, Park Police, U.S. Marshals.

You also had the Bureau of Prisons riot squad, which, as a career prosecutor, I never saw deployed outside a Bureau of Prisons riot. They were all available for the BLM protests. None of them, Tiffany, not a single executive branch law enforcement agency, was there to protect the people in the Capitol.

That feels like more than an intelligence failure. That, to me -- call me skeptical -- feels like the executive branch setting the Capitol up to have happen exactly what happened. We need answers to those questions.

CROSS: Yes, I couldn`t agree more. I think that imagery was so stark.

So, Glenn, I will stick with you here. Why do you think that the Black Lives Matter protests was met with that level of military response, while these violent insurrectionists were welcomed with open barricades, quite honest?

KIRSCHNER: Well, listen, I am one to -- I believe in security. We need to provide adequate security for all protests.

But we also need to recognize the right of people to protest and express their First Amendment preferences, grievances, petition the government for a redress of its grievances.

But when you have the president, who`s not only the commander in chief, but, Tiffany, when you listen to his words on January 6 at that insurrection pep rally, he was the inciter in chief. And you realize he sets that angry mob out to go to the Capitol and do what? Stop the certification. He used the word steal, but make no mistake about it. He told them to go stop -- an action word -- what was going on in the U.S. Capitol.

That is the democratic process of certifying Joe Biden`s in. I think, when you couple that, the inciter in chief, and his inflammatory rhetoric that I would say was reasonably calculated to inspire imminent violence -- and it did inspire imminent violence -- coupled with absolutely no executive branch law enforcement agencies protecting the Capitol, I think we can draw a pretty ominous conclusion there.

CROSS: Yes, I mean, Officer Dunn said, when a hit man hires somebody to kill someone, you kill the person who -- or you arrest the person who killed them, as well as the hit man. I mean, it looks like Donald Trump was the hit man in this case, quite honestly.

You guys, I could talk to you all night. I feel like there`s a good, healthy exchange here. However, the perils of cable news, we`re out of time.

So, Glenn Kirschner and Charlie Sykes, thank you so much for being here.

And still ahead: The CDC issues new guidance on masks, as the highly transmissible Delta variant causes fresh surges, overwhelming hospitals yet again.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:37:12]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Will you require all federal employees to get vaccinated?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That`s under consideration right now. But if you`re not vaccinating, you`re not nearly as smart as I thought you were.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: All right, President Biden sending the message today to get vaccinated, full stop, period.

This is the same day the CDC reversed its indoor mask policy, now recommending that fully vaccinated people in areas with high COVID transmission rates wear masks in public indoor settings.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky also recommended schools return in person this fall, but that all students, regardless of their vaccination status, were masks during school, and then showing words suggesting an unending and unnerving reality. Walensky we could be just a few mutations away from a variant that could evade our vaccines.

We will be hearing more from the White House on Thursday, when President Biden will reportedly announce that all federal employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, or face repeated testing mandates.

I`m joined now by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Dr. Murthy, very happy to have you with me tonight.

I have to tell you, when I saw the briefing today, the most striking thing to me was the news that people can get impacted -- infected with the virus, and it`s just as dangerous.

I think the question everybody`s mind -- I know it is on mine -- are we in store for another shutdown if we don`t get ahead of this virus?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, it`s so good to be with you today.

And let me just say that we`re all very worried about what`s happening with the Delta variant, because here`s what`s changed in the last few weeks. It has spread rapidly. It`s taken over. In fact, the vast majority of infections are now Delta in our country.

But we`re also seeing that the cases of more than quadrupled in recent weeks. And these are being driven by the Delta variant.

But one of the key pieces of information also that the CDC was acting on today was data from recent days that helped us understand that, even though breakthrough infections are unusual, they have greater potential to transmit to others than what we had seen in the past with other variants.

You put all of this together, and it comes -- and it basically is sending us a message that we have got to do more. And, certainly, we have got to keep vaccinating people, because the bottom line and something that hasn`t changed is that vaccines still work. They still save lives. They still prevent hospitalizations at a remarkably successful rate.

But we have got to keep getting more people vaccinated. And in the short term, the masks that the CDC recommended today for fully vaccinated people in indoor settings in parts of the country where there`s substantial transmission, these measures will help us prevent the spread of virus. And that`s really what we have got to do immediately.

CROSS: Well, these measures, if people follow them.

So I want to get into this whole mask mandate in schools. So, if the CDC is recommending this but you have these red states led by Republican governors -- I mean, look at Texas and Arkansas, where, you know, they`re trying to ban mask mandates.

[19:40:11]

So who`s in charge here? I mean, is the federal government trumping local government? Who should parents listen to and what should school officials follow?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, it`s a very good question. This can absolutely be confusing.

But the federal government actually does not have the authority to put mask mandates in place in schools. Those are actually decisions that are made by local government. What the federal government can do is make recommendations based on the data in terms of what it thinks should happen.

And the CDC has actually done just that in recent weeks for schools, laying out in fact a series of layers of precautions that we have to take in schools to keep our kids safe. They include masks, but they also include testing, improved ventilation, and ensure we keeping kids home when they`re sick and measures like that.

The concern that I have as well is that if we don`t take these measures in local districts, if local or state government actually prevents communities from protecting our children in this way, it`s going to be hard for our kids. It`s going to be hard for parents.

And I think about this, first and foremost, as a dad who`s got two small kids who are going to be starting school in the fall. I want my community be doing -- doing everything to keep my kids safe, and I think most parents would feel the same.

CROSS: Well, we`d think most parents would feel the same. We would hope so. But there are still some parents who are very resistant to the vaccine. There are still a lot of people that are very distrustful of health officials and the government around this. So, it feels like politics is getting in the way of protecting our health.

But let me ask you, because I think a lot of people want to know. The news today was very striking and very jarring to a lot of folks. Should we be traveling? I mean, should we be going to concerts, to plays, you know, gathering in these large spaces as the summer months come to an end?

Because the fact that you`re saying, wear masks, I think it felt very abrupt that society opened up again and now maybe it`s like, whoa, pump the brakes and slow your roll.

MURTHY: Well, it`s an important question and I know that when news like this comes out, people are wondering where do we stand? You know, have we gone back to where we were last year?

Let me zoom out and actually talk about that for a moment. The bottom line is we are much safer than where we were last year. And the key reason is because we can get vaccinated.

Now, the added protection of masks that the CDC recommended will help reduce the spread of delta, but there are some activities that we will have to reconsider in terms of how we engage in them.

So, for example, if you`re in a part of the country that`s seeing a substantial amount of transmission of virus, then you should think about the indoor spaces and gatherings that you go to and put a mask on if you`re going to go to gather with people outside your household in indoor settings, whether it`s someone else`s house or that`s a restaurant.

You should also think in terms of your travel about ensuring you`re taking all the precautions we know help with making travel safe. That means keeping your mask on. It means making -- when you`re in the airport, making sure that you`re also being careful and not, you know, eating or going without your mask for prolonged periods of time.

So there are steps we can take to protect ourselves, but in this moment where infections are rising rapidly, we have to take more caution to protect ourselves and the people around us.

CROSS: All right. Well, I certainly hope that the mask mandate does not discourage people from getting the vaccine.

But thank you so much, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

MURTHY: Of course (ph).

CROSS: And still ahead, President Biden paid his first visit to the U.S. intelligence community today, trying to rebuild trust in those agencies after four years of Trump`s attacks.

More on that, straight ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:57:53]

CROSS: Since taking office six months ago, President Biden has made a point of trying to restore public faith in government institutions after four years of unrelenting assault at the hands of the former one-term, twice impeached president.

Today, President Biden delivered that message directly to the intelligence community.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The main reason I came, and I mean this sincerely, is to say thank you. You will never see a time while I`m president of the United States where my administration in any way tries to affect or alter your judgments about what you think the situation we face is. I`ll never politicize the work you do. You have my word on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: It was Biden`s first visit to an intelligence agency as president and was in stark contrast to his predecessor`s first visit to the CIA where he attacked his critics and talked about the crowd size at his inauguration.

By law, the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies under the purview of ODNI focus on foreign threats. Since taking office, President Biden has called on ODNI to review the origins of COVID-19, investigate this mysterious Havana syndrome, and prepare for the aftermath of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

With me now is John Brennan, former CIA director and MSNBC senior national security analyst.

So excited to have you on the show tonight. I have a thousand questions, so I want to jump right in and get to it.

You know, I remember watching Donald Trump speak to the intelligence agencies and speak about them in such disparaging ways and wondering what damage this was doing to the United States on a global scale. Since we have a new administration now, how quickly does it take to undo that damage? And do you think President Biden has already done so?

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I think President Biden, who I worked with closely for many years, has always shown tremendous admiration and appreciation for the work of the intelligence community as well as deep respect and reverence for the sacrifice that intelligence officers make on behalf of their fellow citizens around the globe every day of the year.

And so, therefore, Joe Biden is a known commodity to so many within the intelligence community and they know that he believes deeply in the work that they do and that he is always going to take their word for -- to be part of this national security discussion that he wants able to have with the country and with the world.

[19:50:16]

And the intelligence community`s input is so critically important. And I think his visit today to the office of director of national intelligence and the National Counterterrorism Center at Liberty Crossing, which is the headquarters of the DNI, is a signal to the intelligence community what they do matters and he`s going to make sure that they have a prominent role in the formulation of national security policy.

CROSS: You know, because you have such reach into the intel community, I want to play a sound bite from President Biden today where he`s warning about a cyber breach and I`ll get your reaction on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I can`t guarantee this, but I think it`s more likely we`re going to end up -- well, if we end up in a war, a real shooting war with a major power, it`s going to be a consequence of a cyber breach of great consequence. Look, what Russia is doing already about the 2022 elections and misinformation. It`s a pure violation of our sovereignty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: All right. So America is quite frankly no longer the only big kid on the block when it comes to geopolitics when you look at Russia, China, Iran. They`ve already been accused or suspected of interfering in our elections in the past.

I wonder in that scenario, what keeps you up at night? I mean, we have the threat of elections. We have cyber warfare and then just physical threats. What should we be concerned about?

BRENNAN: Well, it`s a real challenge to the intelligence community, is that they have to worry about all the things that matter to the United States around the globe but cyber I think is the growing problem, because it manifests itself in so many different ways, our relationship with China, also with Russia.

It is an attack vector now. How they try to influence elections, how they try to steal intellectual property, how they try to seize data, how they try to pursue their intelligence objectives, and therefore, the intelligence community really has to be on their guard to ensure that these attackers are not going to be successful.

But you`re right. We have Iraq. We have Afghanistan. We have the Havana syndrome. We have so many things on the plate of intelligence officers these days, and that`s why President Biden relies so heavily on the work and input of these intelligence officers, because in order for him to make the right decisions on behalf of the country, he needs to have their input.

And we know that he`s asked the intelligence community to evaluate the origins of COVID-19. He knows that these are difficult problems, and they`re not easy to resolve, but the intelligence community will do its absolute best to provide to President Biden and others their absolute best information and intelligence and analysis.

CROSS: I want to ask. You brought up Havana syndrome. The symptoms of Havana syndrome, they sound nightmarish. Some reporting has suggested that Russia may be behind this. And if it is Russia, why are they doing this? I mean, just because they can, some form of retaliation? What`s the thinking behind it?

BRENNAN: I don`t know who`s behind it, I just know it`s a real serious problem that we need to be able to understand better so we can protect our officers, our diplomats, all those around the globe that have suffered so awfully from this.

And thankfully, President Biden and the CIA and Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, are taking this very, very seriously, to try to understand who is behind this attack, is it intentional, is it directed at U.S. officers? And to understand how they can prevent these occurrences from happening again.

CROSS: All right. John Brennen, you`re who I want to sit next to at a dinner party. I have a lot more questions for you but we`re out of time. Thank you so much for joining me tonight.

And don`t go anywhere at home because up next, Trump snubs George P. Bush in his bide to become the next attorney general of Texas, and instead, he`s throwing his support behind the current A.G. Ken Paxton despite the laundry list of fraud and abuse allegations he`s currently facing. That when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:47]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Jeb Bush is a total lightweight. This is a guy who is pathetic.

Very, very, very low energy Jeb Bush.

Have you ever seen this guy? He`s like a clown.

He`s a gutless guy.

This poor guy, I feel sorry. He`s like a lost soul.

It`s sad. It`s very sad. His family is so ashamed.

He`s an embarrassment to the Bush family. Poor, poor, poor Jeb Bush who brings out his mother because he needed help. No, he needed help. Mommy, please come. Walk in the snow, mom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: You guys remember that, right? During the 2016 campaign Donald Trump disrespected Jeb Bush every single chance he got. It got so bad that even Jeb`s mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, later blamed Trump for what she described as a heart attack in 2016.

Now neither of the Bush presidents voted for Trump, but Jeb`s own son, George P. Bush, channeling his Fredo Corleone did not follow his family`s lead. In 2016, he became the only Bush to endorse Trump despite the fact that Trump had gone after his own momma during the campaign.

Is it a Texas thing to play yourself? Because Cancun Cruz also swallowed whatever pride he thought he had to support Trump. This was after 45 called his wife ugly and said his daddy killed JFK.

For George P., the genuflecting paid off at first. Trump ended up endorsing him in Texas for land commissioner in 2018. Now, before he announced his run for Texas attorney general, Bush essentially had to swallow his pride and a healthy dose of that MAGA milk.

He even put out these disturbing drink koozies that featured a drawing of Trump and him with a telling quote from a few years ago. This is the only Bush that likes me.

Yeah, there might be a reason for that. You would think the situation couldn`t get anymore more pathetic, but it has.

Today, Trump endorsed Bush`s primary opponent, the current Attorney General Ken Paxton. Basically, baby boy, you played yourself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fredo, you`re my older brother and I love you. But don`t ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROSS: Ever.

And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.