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Transcript: The ReidOut, 8/10/21

Guests: Ron Kim, Cynthia Alksne, Ronan Farrow, Rosalind Osgood, Rick Wilson, Pete Buttigieg, Xochitl Hinojosa, Tim Miller


New York Governor Cuomo resigns amid sexual harassment scandal. Cuomo says allegations are politically motivated. Investigators say Cuomo harassed at least 11 women. Florida is new epicenter of unvaccinated pandemic. Senator Ted Cruz is going off on vaccines and mask mandates, with no regard for the fact that his home state Texas is in real trouble.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with today`s breaking developments in the state of New York, where this morning, embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he is stepping down.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): This situation, by its current trajectory, will generate months of political and legal controversy.

I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing. And, therefore, that is what I will do and my resignation will be effective in 14 days.


REID: It is big news, and the right decision, but the truth is he really had no other option. Cuomo`s announcement comes one week to the day after the State Attorney General Letitia James` office released a scathing report accusing him of sexually harassing 11 women.

Within hours of the reports released, Cuomo`s support completely evaporated. And his defiance in the phase of the accusation only seemed to make matters worse. Calls for resignation from Democratic lawmakers reach a crescendo echoing across the state of New York legislature, the U.S. Congress and even the White House with President Biden joining those urging him to get gone.

We saw the high profile resignation of Cuomo`s top aide and many of those who remained were openly advocating for him to go.

The New York state assembly was forging ahead with impeachment indictments. And his conviction in the State Senate was all but certain.

And district attorneys at, in at least four counties, confirmed that they too was scrutinizing his conduct. In other words push came to shove and it came really fast.

And so with Cuomo`s departure, in two weeks Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will become the first woman to serve as Government of New York state. She had already been on the record calling Cuomo`s behavior, quote, repulsive and unlawful.

Of course, Cuomo did not do himself any favors either. Today, a damning new report by the journalist Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker details the heavy- handed tactics Cuomo has used in the past, suggesting he even tried to quash a federal investigation. And we will have more on that coming up.

But the points to Cuomo`s pattern of defiance when facing legal scrutiny, in fact, he continue to stick his chest out, even his resignation speech today, attempting to discount the A.G.`s report that brought these credible allegations into the sunlight.


CUOMO: The most serious allegations made against me have no credible, factual basis in the report.

Obviously in a highly political matter like this, there are many agendas and there are many motivations at play. If anyone thought otherwise, they would be naive.

I truly believe it is politically motivated. I believe it is unfair and it is untruthful.


REID: Well, that said, Cuomo`s announcement and his exit, it actually highlights a glaring double standard that we have got to discuss as Republicans who for four years excuse Donald Trump, try to join in on the outrage, he even claimed a sort of victory. But, honestly, the truth is, Cuomo`s exit was entirely 100 percent the product of Democratic pressure, because Democrats hold their own to a higher standard of conduct.

Meanwhile, we still await the resignation announcements from alleged teen sex trafficker Matt Gaetz, creepy car guy Madison Cawthorn and Jim Jordan, who allegedly look the other way as an assistant coach -- as an assistant coach at the sexual predation of a state wrestling coach, long before he became an insurrectionist, just saying.

I`m joined now by New York State Assembly Member Ron Kim, former Federal Prosecutor Cynthia Alksne, and Ronan Farrow, Contributing Writer for The New Yorker.

And, Representative Kim, I want to start -- Assembly Member Kim, I want to start with you first, you have been -- you might have been the first person to call for Cuomo`s resignation. I do believe you were the first to call for it, so I want to get your reaction to him finally announcing he would go.

ASSEMBLYMAN RON KIM (D-NY): My colleagues and I are relieved he is stepping aside so we can get back to the work at hand in protecting New Yorkers and moving the state forward. But we`re also a little worried that we might not get the accountability that we deserved, to make sure we understand what went wrong, what were the decisions that went into Cuomo`s administration that led to thousands of unnecessary deaths in nursing homes and these 11 women that have to bravely come out to hold him accountable, and how do we make sure that we never repeat the same mistakes.

REID: You know, I think of Dennis Hastert. Cynthia, who resigned ultimately as speaker of the House, went on and like got a job somewhere and was sort of living his life and then ultimately got indicted in that case.


This was his involvement in sexual predation against young men when he was a wrestling coach.

So, sometimes there is a delay between the resignation and the accountability that you just heard Representative Kim talking about. Do you see that trajectory here? Because you do have this pretty damning report from the State Attorney General, from Letitia James, should Cuomo consider himself fully out of the woods legally?

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PRESECUTOR: No. He`s not out of the wood legally at all. And let me just say this resignation was so arrogant now that he would send the lawyer out for 45 minutes to attack the victims and attack the other lawyers and attack the attorney general before he went out without any humility at all. I just found it outrageous.

And, no, he is certainly not out of the legal woods, me, as a criminal cases, which my guess will this will make that criminal case go away. But the civil cases are serious and the New York state is going to have to make a decision if they are going to settle those cases or what they are going to do and then, of course, there`s the investigation into the nursing home deaths. There`s an investigation into the ethical practices around the book. And I think he has some big, serious issues.

And while you are right to bring up the Dennis Hastert case, okay, let`s not kid our self, that was a long time ago and the world has changed. And the tolerance for people to put up with the hostile work environment and it has dramatically changed. I mean, after all we certainly -- that look the other way and those were rapes and we`re not looking in the other way and these are not rapes, these are not as serious but it was a hostile work environment. And the civil cases will continue. And my guess is they`ll end up being settled for a lot of money.

REID: You know, and, Ronan, the word arrogance that`s Cynthia brings up, I think, it brings too (ph), because you think about the fact that during the Me Too era, when presumably the governor understood the environment he was working, I mean, you were at work exposing other men who were high profile predators in work places from Hollywood to, you know, and on, and on, and on to the news industry. And here he is, committing these offenses during that while saying he supported Me Too.

Talk to a little about your reporting, because he also, from your reporting, tried to stand in the way of federal investigations. Can you walk us through that a little bit?

RONAN FARROW, THE NEW YORKERS CONTRIBUTING WRITER: I`m glad you ask about that, because I think it is actually important to understanding today`s events. One of the pieces of significance and the reasons to return to this part of history where he was arrogant earlier as well is one of the authors of the attorney general`s report that has brought about these events was actually someone who tangled with him before. Joon Kim was part of an investigation into him back in 2014 and was actually someone who he then went after.

Joon Kim`s boss was Preet Bharara at the time, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan. And we document in this story that he was doing everything in his power to for stall this inquiry into whether he closed an anti- corruption commission that he had started and then, in yet another example of, to echo your word, I think someone say arrogance, certainly improper, and experts we talked to you said possibly illegal conduct. He then shuttered that commission when it started to getting close to a number of investigators on it said people in his orbit.

So, you have layers and layers of arrogance and misconduct here. And I think that it is telling that the Democratic Party in New York and politicians of all stripes allowed Andrew Cuomo to bully in had this way, to go, at the very least, right up to the edge of obstruction of justice. You know, we talk about him calling the White House about that boss of the author of the report that we are dealing with this week, you know, again, Preet Bharara, the prosecutor.

These are actions that alarmed people along the way for years, and yet this is also someone who really was able to maintain a vise grip on power. So, I hope part of the cultural transformation that you`re talking about, Joy, also includes more accountability for those forms of corruption, those abuses of people`s offices.

REID: You know, it is interesting, Assemblyman Kim, because it sounds very much like Trump, even with Preet Bharara appearing in the story as well, right, that there was a sort of similar sort of arrogance that you did see operating in the White House. Did you get the sense that perhaps Cuomo, in his own thinking, felt that he could sort of pull a Donald Trump, that he could sort of do the kinds of things and be the kind of person that the president was? Do you think -- was that going on? What do you think was going on here?

KIM: I mean, I think that is precisely the point here. There`s a through line of all these as you are talking about powerful men will have a history of being in privileged positions, who think that they are above the law. And I want to take a moment to acknowledge Ronan`s investigative work, who was able to go back and do the really hard work to connect those dots, the highlight how much of an abusive person Andrew Cuomo has been to workers, to women, to the state of New York going back many, many years.


And I want to really acknowledge that work, Ronan, congratulations on your work. And now it is up to us to hold him accountable and to make sure that we do not repeat the same mistakes moving forward.

REID: And give us a little bit --

FARROW: Thank you for that. And, you know, I would just add there were sources that came forward, you know, Joy, and anyone watching at home, I would point to the people who empower any journalist to do a story like this. Everyone in the story, Joy, was terrified about talking about Andrew Cuomo. And an anecdote like the one that we just discussed where he went after the investigators who were on the case in the present day, where he had this long history of going after them or their bosses.

You know, these are anecdotes that people did not want to talk about, and the facts that everyone went on the record, ultimately, I think, is certainly, I hope, a sign of change and something that we should all encourage, because we wouldn`t get these stories and we wouldn`t get that shot of accountability otherwise.

REID: That is a really important point. And, Cynthia, I want to come back to you on that. Because I think that the through line -- the other through line with all of these stories of these powerful men who put themselves above the law, essentially saying that they can abuse whoever and however they want. And to get away with it for quite a long time, is what -- the thing we don`t see that often are prosecutions, or sort of legal consequences that stick, right, that they will maybe run out of their companies or paid out of their companies or pushed out.

Realistically, is this going to be a case where see that happen again, where Cuomo leaves power, but how likely is it that there is some more concrete consequence? Because we haven`t really seen that with a lot of these men. They get humiliated and pushed out but then what? I guess that`s the question for a lot of people.

ALKSNE: Well, the question here is, can he run for office again? And if he runs, will he be reelected, right? I mean, the only way to really block him is to have him criminally prosecuted or they go forward with the impeachment when he`s not around anymore. And, I mean, that is a political question. That`s not my area of expertise.

But I will say this, my hunch is that the criminal prosecution in this case will go away. Just because there are so many resources in the world and in the Albany office, and if you have hundreds of cases in front of you and lots of victims, this is the case you are going to allocate resources for now given that he has paid the price of giving up the governorship.

So I don`t think -- you are asking me will there be a criminal prosecution, I do not think so. I believe there will be a civil and there will be a lot of money paid. And then the question is, are the voters are going to tolerate it? Will there be more enabling? I mean, in the Trump case, that is the problem, isn`t it, that everybody knows what he did and yet half the country votes for him. So I mean, there is -- I mean what are you going to do with that, right? That is not the prosecutor`s fault.

I mean, we have to have a higher standard for who we elect. I mean, you get who you -- you know, on some level you get who you deserve. You have a good sense to not elect people who are harassing women and then you get people who harass women. So we have to all raise our standards.

REID: I think that is true. And, Assembly Kim, I definitely have to give you the last word on that because I think you have brought up other issues, including the nursing home situation that feel unfinished as issues that we need to deal with. And I talked to prosecutors back when I was in Florida who would say removing the politician or them removing themselves often, as Cynthia said, is the end of it because it takes them out of a position to do further harm, and that that typically can be the end of it. Are you concerned that that will be the end of it?

KIM: Well, I made a commitment in March that when Andrew Cuomo goes down for sexual harassment, I will still be here to hold him accountable for the nursing home deaths. We`re talking about 16,000 families who still want the truth and accountability for the failed policies that governor instituted last several months.

I do think that there is a pending open investigation by U.S. attorney`s office and the FBI and we certainly hope that they will continue to pursue those investigations, especially now that he is no longer in a position of power. It`s fair game. He can`t use public resources, political capital, he uses his powerful platform to gaslight the workers, the family and the public. Now, we can truly investigate and examine what he did wrong.

REID: I wish that we had two political parties that had the same standard. Because I think there are a lot -- there is a lot of these to go around, a lot of accountability that needs to happen. But I want to join both of you in congratulating to Ronan Farrow on this terrific reporting. Thank you so much. I always appreciate you. Cynthia Alksne, I always appreciate you. And Assemblyman Ron Kim, who really started this ball rolling, thank you very much, I really appreciate you.

All right, up next on THE REIDOUT, Governor Desantis and Florida`s COVID catastrophe as the delta variant rages in his state, get this, he refuses to budge on protecting kids, children or even allowing private business owners to protect themselves and their customers.


He`s just rooting for COVID.

Plus, after the previous administration misfired again and again and again on infrastructure, this administration got it done. But will Democrats just as hard for other critical priorities, like voting rights? Secretary Pete Buttigieg joins me tonight.

And tonight`s absolute worse are feeding deadly misinformation to their constituents that they know is a bunch of horse-pucky.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: Florida remains the epicenter of the pandemic of the unvaccinated. Counties across the state continue to crush records for hospitalizations, including Duval County, home to Jacksonville, where the record 1,200 people hospitalized on Monday accounted for 1 out of every 945 county residents.


And in Pinellas County, some hospitals are so strapped ambulances wait for up to an hour before patients can be admitted.

The Federal Department of Health and Human Services confirmed today that in response to a request from Florida, it sent 200 ventilators and 100 additional pieces of equipment. Yet Florida`s Republican Governor cosplaying tough guy Ron DeSantis said he didn`t know anything about the request, even as COVID patients occupy nearly half of all ICU beds in the state, the highest rate in the nation.

Just last week, DeSantis claimed Florida`s hospital crisis was just media hysteria, and as some Florida schools resumed classes today with the state leading the country in the number of children hospitalized with COVID, DeSantis has even threatened to withhold salaries from educators if they mandate masks in violation of his nonsensical mask mandate ban.

Governor Death-Santis as he has become known by his detractors is up for re-election next year, as his is partner in carnage, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott. Both are choosing their craven political ambitions over the health of their own citizens.

Fortunately for the children, school districts in Florida are rejecting the DeSantis lunacy. Just today, Broward County Schools, the state`s second largest district voted overwhelmingly to keep its mask mandate in place, defying the Governor`s threat.

And with me now is Dr. Rosalind Osgood, a member of the Broward County School Board and Rick Wilson, Republican strategist and cofounder of The Lincoln Project.

Thank you both for being here. Dr. Osgood, anxious to talk with you. Tell me what went on inside of that -- inside and outside if you know, of that School Board meeting in my former county, Broward County today.

DR. ROSALIND OSGOOD, MEMBER, BROWARD COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD: Hi, Joy. Today was a very, very interesting day. We had parents there advocating for mask out options, a lot more parents advocating for mandatory mask. We had elected officials present.

We received hundreds and hundreds of e-mails literally of parents begging us to protect and keep their children safe. It was a very comprehensive discussion. I get to serve with a group of phenomenal women in Broward County. We always use collective excellence in our decision making. So, we had dialogue about the law, about the consequences, about the health concerns, about the risks, and it kind of just came down to upholding our oath and doing the right thing to protect the people that elect us, to serve them as local school board members.

You know, we just concluded that we were not going to be bullied into parochial self-interest by the Governor who is threatening to withhold our salary, the superintendent`s salary. We just decided that -- eight of us decided that the lives of our students and our staff was invaluable, and we were not going to compromise.

REID: Indeed, I know the vote was eight to one. I will note that the White House Jen Psaki today, the White House Press Secretary did tell for our viewers, that Federal COVID relief dollars would be used to support schools who were punished for passing mask mandates.

Rick, I wonder, you know, I`ve known you for a long time, my friend, but we`ve been on opposite sides of everything when we first started being friends. Whatever happened to small government conservatism? That was the thing you and I used to talk about all the time.


REID: Let me let you --

WILSON: We use to fight about it.

REID: We used to fight about it, right? And here -- let me let you listen to Ron DeSantis today, trying to make it sound like what he is doing is small government conservatism. Take a listen. This is cut one for my producers.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you believe in the masking during the school, you`re free to do it. No one is saying you can`t do it. But if you`re somebody that is concerned about that that thinks that that may not be the right thing for your child, then I think you should have the right to make that ultimate decision, and I don`t think government should override that.


REID: But if the government he is talking about is the school board, Rick, when did they lose power?

WILSON: The great conceit, Joy, of the Republican Party for generations was the more local government is, the more legitimate it is. That we should have the 10th Amendment that says states don`t have to do every single thing that is a whim of the Federal government, that we should devolve power down as far as possible.

Well, what you`ve seen here in Ron DeSantis is a breathtakingly cynical line. He is running for President in 2024 or 2028, depending on whether Donald Trump dies of flail fish poisoning, but he is going to -- he is doing this for politics exclusively, and he is trying to tell local school boards, one of the most small D democratically responsive groups of people in this -- in the world who deal with parents every day what they`re going to do and not do.

You know, the Broward County decision today was bold, Alachua County also; tonight in Leon County, the school board said, Rocky Hanna, the head of the Leon County School Board just said no, and we`re not going to do this, folks. It doesn`t matter if you think it`s the law. This is wrong. We`re not going to put our kids in danger. We`re not going to play politics with this because Ron DeSantis wants to run for President and keep FOX News happy.

REID: Do you --

WILSON: You know, it really is a -- yes, go ahead.


REID: No, I was just going to -- do you believe him when he says he didn`t even know that the Federal government is saving Florida`s behind in sending them ventilators? Do you really think he didn`t know?

WILSON: Well, you know, I just saw Peter Schorsch publish his schedule for tomorrow. No calls with Department of Health, no calls with C.D.C., no calls with hospitals, no calls with County Health officials. Nothing.

He is going around doing a Ron DeSantis love me tour tomorrow in the State of Florida. I think it`s possible, he just doesn`t give a damn. I think it`s possible, he just doesn`t care. And you know, as much as we like to think of Florida as this crazed, wacky state, I`ve got to tell you, if this had happened during Bob Graham, or Jeb Bush or Charlie Crist, it would have gone this -- we would have done this the right way.

We would not have had --

REID: Yes.

WILSON: You know, they would have done the right thing, no matter whether you disagree with them or agree with them politically.

REID: Amen.

WILSON: They all gave a shit about -- sorry -- gave a damn about the people of Florida.

REID: Amen.

WILSON: And they were going to do the right thing, and this guy, he doesn`t care. He cares about his political future.

REID: I agree with that. And any of those governors would have -- let me - - final question to you, Dr. Osgood. Has Ron DeSantis, the Governor, visited any schools personally in Broward County or to your knowledge been to, let`s say a hospital in Broward County to see how COVID is actually ravaging the individual students and parents and teachers in the state?

OSGOOD: No, not to my knowledge. We, as you know, Florida has become the epicenter for the coronavirus. I`m in Broward County, I happen to represent a very African, a very black district where blacks in my district make up - - 45 and under make up 30 percent of the population and they make up about 70 percent of the new coronavirus cases.

We have children here that are impacted. Our hospitals are almost at capacity, and I could just go on and on. It`s insane to think that we would allow the people in Broward County -- I love the people in Broward County. I won`t allow their lives to be a part of a political pawn. They mean too much to me.

If I have to go without my salary, if I never hold public office again, at the end of the day, I have to have a more perspective. I have a higher being that I respond to other than Ron DeSantis and it`s -- that`s my priority.

REID: Amen. Well, listen, I love the people of Broward County, too. My children were raised there. They went to Broward County Schools. So, you know, thank God for all of you all that are fighting to do the right thing because you`re right, Florida is a beautiful state and deserves far better than the governance that they`re getting.

Because I`m with you, Rick, he doesn`t care. Clearly, he doesn`t care.

Dr. Rosalind Osgood and Rick Wilson, thank you both very much. Really appreciate it.

WILSON: Thank you, Joy.

REID: Cheers. Still ahead on THE REID OUT, the Senate has signed off on the largest investment in American infrastructure ever proposed, a huge win for the Biden administration. But will Democrats fight as hard for let`s say, the right to vote? Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joins me next. We`ll be right back.




JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After years and years of infrastructure week, we`re in the cusp of an infrastructure decade that I truly believe will transform America.

Folks, above all, this historic investment infrastructure is what I believe you the American people want. What you`ve been asking for, for a long, long time.


REID: That was President Joe Biden celebrating the passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill. After weeks of back and forth, an overwhelming majority of senators, 69 of them approved a bill that would set aside $550 billion in new spending over five years for roads, public transit, new water pipes, and power grids among other things.

Nineteen Republicans were willing to buck Biden`s disgraced one-term predecessor even as he hysterically begged them not to.

President Biden is now on track to deliver a major infrastructure overhaul for the country just months after his inauguration, something the orange one repeatedly promised, but failed to achieve.

But now comes the harder part. The bill is just the first of two tracks that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has laid out. The second track called the human infrastructure track will be done through the budget reconciliation process, which allows Democrats to avoid the 60-vote filibuster.

The Democrats` human infrastructure bill would expand access to education, childcare, and boost benefits that support women in the workforce. Shortly after passage of the infrastructure bill, Senate Democrats move to start that process.

In a sign of what`s to come, members of the House Progressive Caucus warned Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that the majority of their members would withhold yes votes on the bipartisan infrastructure deal until the Senate has passed budget reconciliation deemed acceptable.

Speaker Pelosi has assured her members that she would not pass infrastructure without reconciliation in hand, and joining me now is someone who will play a big role in the rollout of this package if it passes, Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, aka "The Trains Guy."

I want to give you an opportunity first to talk about this bill. I`m going to put up on screen some of what`s in it, but talk a little bit about it, and how big of a deal is it for the administration?

PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Well, it`s a huge deal not just for the administration, but for the country. The bill that advanced through the Senate today includes some of the most meaningful investments we`ve ever made in our infrastructure, investments in public transit at a level that we`ve never seen before from the Federal government, support as you said for trains that we`re very excited about, not just in case you`re a train fan, but because we think it means so much to regional economies and to the struggle against climate change to create more of those options for Americans.


BUTTIGIEG: It`s got funding for roads and bridges. It stands on the principle that we need to do more for water infrastructure, resilience dealing with droughts, fires, and floods, especially in this week, when we got such an alarming report on climate change from the global scientific community; internet infrastructure, and so much more.

Of course, it`s got to work its way through the House, and then get to the President`s signature at the desk, but today was a very big in a very good day.

REID: Well, and I wanted to let you tout that because I don`t want to downplay what a big deal it is to invest that much money in infrastructure, especially if you`ve been to an airport in the United States lately, or you`ve seen a lot of our roads and bridges, you know, we need this, right? Flint needs water. It is lead pipes change, et cetera et cetera.

But here`s the rub, just a little bit. You had 19 Senate Republicans who voted yes. Most of those who voted yes are either not up for re-election, already just got re-elected, like Mitch McConnell, so they don`t have to worry for six more years or they are retiring.

So, you were only able to get 19 Republicans to say we need roads and bridges, which seems pretty straightforward, because much of the climate change and other stuff was stripped out of it. So, I wonder now, given the amount of work that the White House put in to getting those 19 Republicans to pass this bill, is the same effort going to go into making sure that there is not a double cross on the other bill? Because that`s the bill that progressives in the House have said, if that doesn`t pass, they ain`t voting for this.

BUTTIGIEG: Absolutely, the President believes in both, and that`s why both of them taken together represent his economic policy agenda for this country. Look, America needs roads and bridges, internet ports, airports, and the rest of it. We also need to move forward on these provisions, what we have been calling human infrastructure. Some people might just call it a families, and climate, and other related policies.

The point is, we need to do it. We need to extend the child tax credit and give that tax cut to families with children. And by the way, that will have a huge impact on poverty for children in this country. We`ve got to do more on climate. We`ve got to take a lot of steps.

Now, I`m going to continue making the case that actually there`s no reason that couldn`t be bipartisan as well. But realistically, we know that that`s unlikely to get the kind of Republican crossover support that you saw for the transportation heavy bill that moves through the Senate today.

REID: And not only that, but you`ve got people like Kyrsten Sinema, who`s like shrugging her shoulders, number one, at having no diversity in the negotiations for this bill, essentially 20 white senators got together and said, we`re just going to do this on our own with no diversity at the table.

But the other bill is addressing this stuff that the diverse base of the party really needs. So, my question is, number one, do you have a commitment from Kyrsten Sinema? Do you have a commitment from the conservatives in your party, the Chris Coons`s of the world, the Joe Manchin`s, the Dianne Feinstein`s that they are going to support the bigger bill, are they all going to support it?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think that`s exactly what they are now working through as we move into that phase of things, but I`m confident that we can hold together with such important priorities on the line. I do want to make sure we don`t understate what it means to the diverse base of the country and the diverse American people that we got this first part through the Senate.

You look at the funding for public transit, for example, you know, black commuters much more likely to depend on public transit to get to work. You look at the support for electric vehicles, and not just helping with chargers for family cars, but cleaner vehicles for bus systems and transit, when Latino families are much more likely to live close to ports or highways and experience asthma as a consequence of airborne pollution, tribal residents more likely to have safety issues and unfortunately, be killed in crashes, which is one of the reasons we really care about the safety provisions here.

So, I want to make sure we don`t short that even while agreeing that we`ve got a lot of work to do in that second track. That`s why that second track is there and we want both to come to the President`s desk and the President wants to sign them both.

REID: And you know, and I respect that you said that, and I appreciate you said that. I believe you when you say that, Secretary Pete.

Kyrsten Sinema has not convinced a lot of people that she cares about any of that, that she came to the table with the interests of voters of color in mind. It`s just -- it`s not believable. She isn`t even trying to make the case that she does.

So my question to you is -- Amy Klobuchar -- Senator Klobuchar and Senator Warren, I have interviewed them both and done other interviews on MSNBC. They`ve talked about the fact that election infrastructure could be viewed as infrastructure.

Should we expect there to be the White House weighing in and saying maybe we can get some of these election protection provisions into this next bill seeing us that we can lose -- unfortunately, the filibuster is not going anywhere for now, should we expect to see some election infrastructure placed in the human infrastructure bill so that at least your folks can vote?


BUTTIGIEG: I don`t know the finer points of what the Senate negotiators will be prepared to put in, or what will get passed the parliamentarian. But I know this, whatever the vehicle is, the president has called on Congress, called on America to pass real voter protections, whether we`re talking about the John Lewis Act, the For the People Act, all of the things that need to happen in order to make sure that we protect that foundation.

I admire this idea of it being a kind of democratic or moral infrastructure. But whatever you want to call it, it`s a sacred right, it`s a vital right, it`s part of what makes America, America and we have to pursue that as well.

REID: Well, Secretary Pete, always appreciate talking with you.

Get on the phone with Kyrsten Sinema, because I don`t know if she agrees with you about all of that. But she hasn`t really convinced very many people that she does, and also Manchin as well. So, get on the phone with them. Hopefully, they will be convinced.

Secretary Pete Buttigieg, congratulations on that big bill. Thank for being here.

Don`t go anywhere. The "Absolute Worst" is up next. And downright dangerous Republican rhetoric on vaccines certainly qualifies.

Stay with us.




SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): It`s time for us to resist. They can`t arrest all of us. We don`t have to accept the mandates, lockdowns and harmful policies of the petty tyrants and bureaucrats. We can say no.


REID: Who are you, Fidel Castro? Republicans like Rand Paul like to pretend those on the left are jonesing for the country to shut down again and it is about some sick form of control that will help them politically. Au contraire mon frere.

Here`s what`s really happening. In a time of national crisis, so-called leaders on the right are spending their energy trying to own the libs instead of giving their constituents the information they need to literally stay alive. It would be hilarious if it wasn`t so dangerous.

Like Tuckems Carlson comparing a vaccination mandate that doesn`t exist in America, by the way, to forced sterilization.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: You wonder how far they can go before people say, you know, it`s -- I`m not against vaccines. I obviously want to get COVID under control. But I -- you can`t force me to take a medicine I don`t want. If you can`t do that, why can`t you sterilize me or lobotom -- what can`t you do to me if you own my body? That`s a totally fair question? Why is nobody asking it?


REID: A, why does he look so confused all the time? He almost said lobotomized, which might be an actual thing that might have happened at some point, because, listen, all the talk about banning abortion, that isn`t about the government owning our bodies?

When the right isn`t talking about fictional government overreach, they are down right spreading lies about the vaccine itself. "The New York Times" reported that as the delta variant has spread, there`s been a noted spike in various misinformation online. And Congresswoman Marjorie Q Greene contributed to that today when she tweeted that vaccines are failing.

Twitter suspended her for a week but that doesn`t change the fact that she`s still an elected official. People, weirdly enough, still listen to her, despite that fact that vaccines are very obviously not failing, seeing us fully vaccinated people made up of fewer than 5 percent of those hospitalized and fewer than 6 percent of those who have died.

So, once again, Republicans are tonight`s absolute worst for the dangerous rhetoric on vaccines.

But no state captures the truly bizarro world nature of that rhetoric better than Texas. Last night while Ted "Cancun" Cruz was on Fox News ranting about leftist power grabs, his state`s hospitals are reaching capacity and his governor like Florida`s Ron Death-santis was calling COVID 9-1-1 asking for help from out of state, and that is coming up next. We`ll be right back.




SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Their exercise of power is arbitrary. It`s not driven by science. It`s driven by the momentary politics.

It would be one thing, look, if we were dealing with the apocalypse where anyone who came near this was dropping dead, you could understand at least why they were proposing some of this stuff. But they know what they`re saying is nonsense.


REID: Is the beard supposed to make him look smarter?

That was Ted "Cancun" Cruz going off on vaccines and mask mandates, with no regard for the fact that his home state is in real trouble.

Hours before Cruz went on "Hannity" to pander to his base, Texas Governor Greg Abbott asked for out of state help to fight the coronavirus. Cases have spiked by 172 percent over the past 14 days, and hospitals all over the state are filling up with dozens entirely out of ICU beds.

But masked mandates are banned in Texas and Abbott has zero plans to change that, saying repeatedly that Texans had the information and intelligence to make their own decisions on what steps to take to protect their health, and those around them.

I`m joined now Xochitl Hinojosa, Democratic strategist and former communication director for the Democratic National Committee, and Tim Miller, writer at large for "The Bulwark". Thank you for being here.

Xochitl, I want to start with you. We have the news as of today that a judge has temporarily delivered a blow to Governor Abbott`s ban on mask mandates, allowing San Antonio to require masks in schools. I know San Antonio is on fire with COVID.

Are we now basically going to leave it up to the courts to install some sanity in these states where COVID is running rampart?

XOCHITL HINOJOSA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think that`s right. I`m in San Antonio now, and I got an emergency alert last week on my phone that said, nine and ten of hospitalizations are people who are unvaccinated. There are kids going to school next week.

And Greg Abbott was basically telling cities, no, you don`t need to mandate masks. These are unvaccinated children. They don`t have to disclose COVID cases.

In San Antonio, if your kid has lice, you have to disclose your kid has lice. Yet you don`t have to disclose your kid has COVID. There`s something deeply wrong with that.

I was reading there are about 329 ICU beds in the entire state. This is failed leadership at its core. You will have the courts -- my hope is you will have the courts reverse some of these decisions, because we saw what happened in Florida today. You have the Biden administration sending ventilators. I won`t be surprised if the same thing happens in Texas soon.

REID: Let me play a fun video for you, Tim, because I know you will appreciate it. This is Ted Cruz. This is what he said when it comes to COVID guidelines and Democrats. Take a listen.


CRUZ: It`s a weird thing. There`s a herd mentality among congressional Democrats that they obey Chuck Schumer and their only answer is sir, yes, sir.


REID: That guy -- the guy who was like, yes, sir, Mr. Trump, my wife is ugly and my father is a murderer, sir, if you say so, yes, sir.


That guy said that.

But the real question -- I just wanted to play that is, can you understand as somebody who was a Republican strategist, what is the strategy behind killing children in your own state and letting children die of COVID? I can`t figure it out.

TIM MILLER, THE BULWARK: I think we call that clip projection Joy. I`m not a therapist. That`s a psychological assessment of it.

Look, I don`t -- I think the strategy as macabre as this sounds is project strength at all costs, own the libs at all costs. That`s what it comes down to. It doesn`t come down to policy.

They`re not counting numbers of how many people are dead or alive. They are not concerned about the well-being of their own citizens. It`s how can I project that I am against Joy Reid, that I`m against Dr. Fauci, that I`m against the elites.

I`m against the people on the coast and brown folks, the black folks, right? Like that`s it. That`s all this is about. And so, they are doing that at the expense of their own citizens.

And here`s the other thing, Joy, they know better.

REID: Yeah.

MILLER: On that same network on Fox, Ben Domenech, who runs "The Federalist", you know, is guest hosting the show. He wrote in 2015 attacking the left over opposing vaccine mandates in schools.

He said, this is common sense. This is quackery to oppose this and we`ve had vaccine mandates for ages in this country, and it`s totally align with liberty.

He wrote that in 2015. Now his own website and now that own prime time on Fox is now saying this is some affront to our freedoms.

They know that that`s not true. They know that the vaccines save lives. But they`re just doing this because they see the short-term political calculation.

REID: I`ve been looking on social media. All of the radio hosts and religious leaders on the right who are owning the libs from the grave, I guess, by haunting us in our homes, because they have died for this belief system that they have decided to create.

And, Xochitl, I wonder on other side -- I tweeted this. I will ask, at some point do the vaccinated suddenly realize that we are also a group and also a majority and start acting like it? Because there`s only so much compassion people are going to have for people dying of ignorance, essentially and saying, I refuse to get the vaccine, I`m not going to wear a mask and you get COVID.

And is there -- should Democrats push back and say the vaccinated need to band together and demand that we have our local governments able to protect us and protect our kids?

HINOJOSA: Well, I think that the way that that happens -- it starts with businesses, right? There`s how we get anywhere. And you saw that United Airlines basically said that they are going to start requiring that their employees are vaccinated.

I can guarantee you Southwest Airlines and others are going to take a hit, because people want to move on from this pandemic. And the only way that we go to concerts, we see family members, that we get our kids back in school, that we go back and hug our loved ones is if we get vaccinated.

And so, you are starting to see that with businesses. We need a few more businesses to step up and require vaccination. I think that`s the only way that that happens.

REID: Well, you know, and, Tim, it brings me back again to these old orthodoxy that is used to think Republicans believe in, you know, like they were pro-business. You`re seeing in Florida, the governor demand private businesses, cruise ships, are not allowed to make their own decisions about what they do to protect there. They don`t want even businesses to protect their customers and their workers.

Is the new orthodoxy that the big, big government should tell businesses what to do?

MILLER: Yeah. They are throwing those old orthodoxies out the window because that`s what their new Donald Trump base demands, right? I think that the Democrats need to go on offense. It`s the right pushing culture wars. This is a winning culture war issue for the left.

REID: It is.

MILLER: Even about 40 percent of the Republican base has got vaccinated or wants to. You have the Democrats almost, most of the independents, almost half of the Republicans who want vaccine mandates, who want what Xochitl just called for businesses to do. The Democrats need to be a little bit more like cutting edge of this and turning the remaining quack Republicans into the anti-vaxx party. That`s a majority issue for Democrats going into the midterms.

REID: A hundred percent I agree. And, Xochitl, do you see the White House -- because I think White House could do this. There`s a huge federal workforce. They started with the Pentagon.

Does the Democratic Party need to be more aggressive and say, we the vaccinated are taking our country back?

HINOJOSA: I think that you will start seeing that a little bit more from the administration. They want to get people vaccinated, right? They want to make sure they`re doing this as much as possible. And so, you start to see that with the federal government. I think that you will see the administration take an aggressive stance.

REID: Yeah, if not, then a lot more people are going to die, a lot more businesses are going to close. If you want restaurants open. If you want to go to Broadway, if you want to go to the theater, there is a way to do it. You don`t have to have FOMO. You can just freaking get vaccinated and stop believing conspiracy theories.

Xochitl Hinojosa, Tim Miller, thank you very much.

That`s tonight`s REIDOUT.