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Transcript: The ReidOut, 8/17/21

Guests: Chrissy Houlahan, Richard Stengel, Ilhan Omar

Summary

Afghan civilians flee as Taliban takes over. Human Rights Lawyer Kimberley Motley plays voicemail from Afghan woman on MSNBC. More than 3,000 people have been evacuated so far. President Biden will return to White House tonight. Rep. Lee says she`s working every hour to help evacuate Afghan civilians. Afghan evacuations are being compared to fall of Saigon. Afghans who helped U.S. struggle to obtain visas. Taliban is reportedly setting up armed checkpoints. "New York Time" say intel warned of rapid Taliban takeover. GOP tries to blame Biden for Afghan collapse. Right wing opposes accepting Afghan refugees.

Transcript

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: House leaders say they could be votes as soon as next week. So that`s really happening. And that`s our final word there tonight on THE BEAT.

"THE REIDOUT" with Joy Reid is up next. Hi, Joy.

JOY RIED, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing, Ari. Very tightly, we`ve got a voting strategy session later on in the hour tonight. So thank you for teeing that up, I really appreciate it. Have a great evening.

MELBER: We`ll be watching.

REID: Thank you very much.

All right, good evening, everybody. And we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the crisis in Afghanistan, where many are desperately trying to leave the country. And scenes that look like the opening episode of The Handmaid`s Tale but in real life. Evacuations resumed overnight after being halted earlier due to the chaotic scenes of Afghans rushing to U.S. military planes and trying desperately to climb onboard, incidents in which some people died.

And despite those harrowing scenes, Americans and some of our Afghans allies are getting out. Between 700 and 800 people were evacuated last night with more than 3,000 people evacuated in total since the fall of the Afghan capital, Kabul, some in astonishing conditions. Check out this stunning photo showing hundreds of people crammed into a U.S. military plane heading to Qatar.

U.S. officials said yesterday they`d be prepared to take more than 20,000 Afghans who are candidates for special immigration visas. And the State Department said today that 2,000 holders of those visas have been relocated so far. But as the New York Times points out, there are tens of thousands of Afghan nationals who risked their lives to assist the U.S. military and thousands are stuck in a years-long backlog to receive their visas. More than 300,000 civilians have been affiliated with the American mission over its two-decade presence in the country.

The State Department said today that they`re working to assist eligible Afghans with those visas. The U.S. Embassy is asking that civilians stay away from the airport until they`re contacted. But many may not be able to reach the airport at all. Though the White House said today that the Taliban had pledged to allow safe passage for civilians to the airport, there are reports of armed checkpoints all over the country as well as beatings and searches for evidence of government contacts or compromising material they might deem un-Islamic.

An interpreter in Kabul told NBC News that he doesn`t feel safe and has no way to get to the airport. His face and voice are obscured for his protection.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, I am in Kabul, and Kabul is surrounded by the Taliban. I`m not safe here. This is all the documents to prove that I was an interpreter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: And Politico reports that U.S. lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say that distress calls to help evacuate U.S. residents, Afghan interpreters and other asylum seekers have flooded their offices. The Taliban claims that they`ll respect women`s rights within Islamic law, a claim that deserves a hefty dose of skepticism. There have been reports that women have been told to go home from work as well as forced marriages and executions in recent weeks.

In Kabul recently, a beauty salon with an image of a woman not wearing a hijab was painted over. And there are devastating accounts from Afghan women on social media and in interviews.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALINE JADMASIH, AFGHAN RESIDENT: We don`t account because we were born in Afghanistan. I cannot help crying. No one cares about us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know if they`re going to start searching with civilians` houses because that way it will be really scared. I`d have to like hide pretty of everything I have. Because during the people that they will back to 20 years ago. I think I`ll be in trouble if they find my documents or musical instruments or stuff like that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, are under attack. There is a big, big mob, they are attacking us and they are armed. They are coming from everywhere. They are like just getting up from a wall, I see them right now. Can you please help us?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Joining me now, Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, a member of Arms Services and Foreign Affairs Committee and an air force veteran, and Richard Stengel, former Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the Obama Administration.

And, Representative Houlahan, I`m going to start with you. It`s so heartbreaking to hear Afghan women crying out for help. They`re not safe, one would, if they have any sort of modern sensibility with the Taliban in charge. In your view, what should be happening now to speed it up and get more people out?

REP. CHRISSY HOULAHAN (D-PA): Sure, and thank you for having me. And my heart hurts listening to those clearly painful cries for help. There`s a lot that we can be doing right now speed it up, so to speak. We need to be doing, as we have been, the steady and progressive evacuation of those people who have supported and helped us. The Pentagon did give a briefing today that they believe that that is in process, and I -- they asked for us to, you know, judge the results, and the results will speak for themselves. And I will withhold my judgment to see if that`s indeed working.

We need to make sure that people have pathways to get to the airport, and that seems to be a struggle right now that we can provide help on.

[19:05:00]

We need to make sure, to your point, about women and particularly children who are peril right now, that the NGO networks, our national nonprofit networks across the planet are working and that we are helpful in that effort. We need to also be thinking about what the future of this government might look like and whether we have any levers to pull in terms of sanctions.

So we have a lot that we can be doing to be helpful right now, and I think it`s our obligation and responsibility to do that. And also we have the obligation in Congress to be asking the questions of how we got here, and I`d be happy to talk to you more about that as well if you`d like.

REID: Yes. Oh, no, I have a question about that coming up. But before we get to that I want to pause for a moment just to ask Richard Stengel, you`ve been in the State Department, because the State Department is going to be on point, taking point in terms of getting people out, not just Americans but also our Afghan allies and anyone who might qualify to get one of those special immigrant visas.

I want you to listen to the one person who seemed to really get it from day one about what might happen in that country from the start. This is Representative Barbara Lee. She was on with Chris Hayes` show last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): I knew then that it could spiral out of control and that if we didn`t think through the impact and the implications. And I`ve been thinking about this week because now, I`m terrified, and I`m really so worried. And like everyone, concerned and working every hour to try to figure out how we make sure that no more lives are taken, that Afghans are transported out and evacuated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: And while, you know, I think the analogy isn`t perfect, this isn`t Vietnam, but it`s a progressive Vietnam organization -- American organization in a statement saying, it`s our responsibility and moral obligation as Americans who have dedicated 20 years of effort and $1 trillion to do all we can to protect the Afghan people, especially those who work alongside U.S. government military.

Talk about the logistics of how you do that. Donald Trump signed a deal with the Taliban that relaxed sanctions, or at least promised to, released prisoners. Biden didn`t substantially alter that deal. Do you think that this should be a combination of sanctions on one side? And then also, logistically, how do we get rid of the paperwork backlog that`s keeping so many Afghans from being able to get out?

RICHARD STENGEL, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yes, Joy. There are a lot of questions there. I just want to begin by saying and agreeing with the Congresswoman. I mean this is a heart-wrenching situation, and it`s a tragedy. But it`s not an American tragedy. It`s an Afghan tragedy. And as you say, it goes back 20 years. Representative Lee voted against the authorization of force resolution. She was the only one. She was prescient it. But there were many people who saw what we were doing as being haphazard, as not having a strategy.

You know, I would love people to see and read the Washington Post Afghanistan papers series, which was published in 2019. Maybe, you talked about it on your show. But it`s just a history in the hundreds and hundreds of pages of how politicians, generals, diplomats deceived the American people, how they kept thinking that we were going to turn the corner. I mean, I remember I was editor of Time Magazine during that time, and every year, we did a new Afghanistan cover about a new strategy. It`s like someone once said, it`s not a 20-year war. It`s 20 one-year wars, and that is what`s happened.

And to your question about how we repair the breach is, you know, we do as much as we can for as many people as we can. I heard Jake Sullivan say that this morning. I heard Linda Thomas-Greenfield on just, I think, the previous saying there are flights getting out of the international airport every hour on the hour. So I think we`re now hunkering down. The State Department, people are working overtime, 24/7. And remember, those interpreters and those helpers all helped people at the State Department too. So people really have a vested interest in this, not just the military but also people at the State Department.

REID: Yes. I think it goes to show you that America cannot create reproductions of our culture in other countries and remake them in our image. There are some people who are going to cleave to those modernist norms and those people are our friends. And then there`s the country itself and its culture, and we can`t change that. And America has this conceit that we can and we clearly can`t.

To your point, Representative Houlahan, on the intelligence, there`s a New York Times piece out today. I want to read just little bit of it, and that the headline is intelligence warned of Afghan military collapse despite Biden`s assurances. It says, classified assessments by American spy agencies over the summer painted an increasingly grim picture of the prospect of a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and warned of the rapid collapse of the Afghan military, even as President Biden and his advisers said publicly that that was unlikely to happen as quickly, according to current and former American government officials. I mean, we had (INAUDIBLE) on yesterday as a young journalist who was writing in 2019, that the Taliban already had to half of the country. It`s not like they took it all over in eight days. They had a lot of it already.

[19:10:00]

How -- in your view, how was it missed?

HOULAHAN: So I think that there were a lot of mixed signals, a lot of mixed intelligence signals, to be honest. I think one of the biggest things that we missed was the appetite and the heart that the Afghan army had for defending and protecting itself and the gains that we collectively made together. And that was either a failure of intelligence for us to understand that or a miscalculation. We definitely knew when we made the decision to pull out that there would be, in all likelihood, at least some takeover by the Taliban of places that we held.

We didn`t necessarily know that it would be quite as much as it is and quite as rapid as it is, but it`s not frankly surprising when you look to your point about the history of this particular part of the world. And so here we are. We`re at a place where our intelligence possibly has failed us, where we`ve made some decisions that need to be undone and redone. We need to be able to ask for who`s accountable for these kinds of decisions. We need to be able to have the hearings in Congress and the oversight in Congress that is our duty and our mission to do.

And we also need to, frankly, be supportive of the ways that we can get out of this as we talked about the various steps in the short term. And in the midterm, we need to be thinking about some of the things that scare me and keep me up at night, which is a lot of the weaponry, a lot of the things that we purchased for the Afghan army now possibly are in the hands of the Taliban. And we need to be thinking about the implications of that are as well.

So we`re in a difficult place, and we need to be working together rather than pulling ourselves apart to be able to make sure that we`re coming out of this as safely as possible, both us and also the Afghan people.

REID: Yes. I mean, pulling ourselves apart, well, that`s already done politically. I am going to play the Republican response.

Richard, you know I have -- it`s sort of airs of most of that, you know, CIA saying, well, let`s get rid of that guy, he`s not doing what we say, and putting in the shah of Iran that turns out to be a corrupt mess that the people didn`t support. And then we were shocked that the mullahs took it back.

You know, in this case, a lot of the reports your hearing, Ayman Mohyeldin has done some great reporting and interviewed lots of people, it`s not as if the president who the west supported had popular support. So it feels like the failures go far beyond just ripping our military out of there in 2003 and going to Iraq. It seems like it was much more systemic.

STENGEL: Yes, I agree. I mean, these were not unknown unknowns, as Donald Rumsfeld said, who got us in there, these are known knowns. I mean, I remember being in Kabul in 2013 and going to the presidential palace, and the diplomats saying to me that President Karzai wasn`t president of Afghanistan. He was president of Kabul.

REID: Yes.

STENGEL: You know, we haven`t had a successful fight there in a very long time.

And I think, you know, the thing about intelligence is, intelligence is neutral. You know, people in intelligence say, tell the policymakers, they tell the military, here`s the situation. But then the policymakers have to make decisions, and sometimes they don`t make correct decisions.

And I think over 20 years, I mean, you know, and I agree with the congresswoman, I think we really need to look at what happened and what went wrong and why policymakers have this sort of Pollyanna-ish idea that we were always turning the corner. And, you know, nobody likes to tell a president of the United States bad news, and military folks don`t like that either but you to have to do that.

REID: Yes. And wars end ugly. I hate to break it to folks. The American people overwhelmingly wanted out of Afghanistan. This is what it looks like when you get out, when you rip the band-aid off. It`s not pretty. And, hopefully, we will salvage it by getting as many of our people who sided with us out as we can.

Thank you, Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan. Thank you, Richard Stengel. I appreciate both of you.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, the quick pivot on the right from pretending to care and be outraged about the fate of vulnerable Afghans to vehemently opposing letting any of them into the United States. The sole former refugee in Congress, Ilhan Omar, joins me next.

Plus breaking news from Texas, where Governor Greg Abbott, who won`t allow schools and businesses to protect themselves from COVID, has now tested positive for COVID himself.

And tonight`s absolute worst, Republicans are writing a work of fiction. The plot is weak. The hero is orange. And the conclusion is predictable. But it does have ninjas.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:15:00]

REID: What has happened to the Afghan people over the past several decades is a global tragedy. The images of people desperate to flee are truly heartbreaking. But natural it should come as no surprise that the Republican Party has seized on these moments to score political points.

Take, for example, Texas Representative Michael McCaul, who told CNN that Biden will, quote, have blood on his hands for what they did. This is the same man who represents a state where more than 54,000 people have died from COVID.

Tell me, Congressman, does Governor Abbott have blood on his hands for his abandonment of the people of the Lone Star State? What about the 626,000 Americans who died of COVID because of Donald Trump?

You see this newfound outrage, it just stinks of political opportunism. This is after all the party that stood by as the bloated retiree banned Muslim immigrants, buddied up to the Taliban and shut our doors to refugees who needed our help.

Over at Fox, you`re reminded of what the party really thinks about the Afghan people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: If history is any guide -- and it`s always a guide -- we will see many refugees from Afghanistan resettle in our country in coming months, probably in your neighborhood. And over the next decade, that number may swell to the millions. So, first, we invade, and then we`re invaded.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Is it really our responsibility to welcome thousands of potentially unvetted refugees from Afghanistan?

[19:15:01]

All day, we have heard phrases like, "We promised them."

[19:20:05]

Well who did? Did -- did you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Meanwhile, Crypt Keeper Stephen Miller added to that repugnant commentary with his own special white nationalist flavor, tweeting: "Be warned, the State Department will use Biden`s withdrawal fiasco as predicate for importing massive numbers from region with rushed vetting and no ties to U.S."

Joining me now is Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Her family fled Somalia`s civil war. She spent four years in a refugee camp before fleeing to the United States in the 1990s.

Congresswoman, I`m not surprised. I will -- I`m just going to preface this by saying none of this is surprising that the people on the right who were just, like, 24 hours ago pretending to care about the Afghan people suddenly are like, yeah, but don`t send any of them over here.

But I would love to hear your thoughts.

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): Yes, it is not surprising, right? This is their playbook.

They know how to whip up their base into frenzy. The reality is that we have been in this conflict, in this war for 20 years. There are people who have helped us in this mission. There are people whose lives are going to be at risk. And we have to do everything that we can to bring them to safety.

And we have done this many a times where we have evacuated people, airlifted them into safe spaces, so that we can properly vet them and have them come to the United States as vetted refugees.

I know a little bit about that.

REID: Yes.

OMAR: I know what it`s like to be a child in a family scrambling for safety in a war-torn country.

I know the rigorous process you go through to get vetted as a refugee. We are the most vetted people who come to the United States. The process is long, and it doesn`t just end when you arrive on the shores. It continues for years until you are eligible for citizenship at five years of entrance.

And so I really hope that people understand that there is a certain promise that we have made, and we can`t break that promise. And that`s not a promise that the United States made, but it`s also a promise that our NATO allies have made. It`s a promise that neighboring countries should fulfill. And we have to do everything to make sure that there is a multinational coalition leading this effort to save not just our allies, but every Afghani who`s afraid for their lives, especially young women and vulnerable men as well.

REID: Yes.

I mean, it`s infuriating to hear these people who voted against allowing more visas for Afghan allies. They literally voted against it. Lauren Boebert, who made a stupid joke about Build Back Better and thought she was clever, she was one of 16 Republicans who voted no when it came to approving more visas for Afghan allies.

So, they`re not for these people. The names will sound to you much like the pro-insurrection crowd, the Andy Biggs of the world, the Mo Brooks of the world.

And then, on top of that, the Muslim ban still sticks in my craw. I`m not over it. And I`m not even Muslim, and I`m not over it yet. The fact that people who stood by while the former president banned people strictly because they came from Muslim countries bugs me, that they are now pretending to care and then also saying, don`t send people here.

Can you talk a little bit about the complexity of being a Muslim refugee and how their attitude sticks with you?

OMAR: Yes.

I mean, it`s also the mixed messaging, right? They`re trying to find something that sticks so that they can try to put the president in bad light -- lighting and sort of come after Democrats. We have seen the former president, the man who literally banned Muslims from coming to this country, say we should allow for Afghan refugees to come to the United States.

You have the man who led us into this war, President Bush, say we should allow for Afghan refugees. And then you have got these crazy people on the right doing what they would they always do with their fearmongering and their hateful rhetoric.

The reality is, regardless of where you come from, immigrants and refugees are highly motivated. They are people who are seeking a better life. They come to this country, they put their head down. Everybody in every single community has bad apples, but that is not the result of collective failure as refugees or as immigrants when we come to the United States.

And I know what some of these people are worried about, is that they`re worried that refugees like myself, when they come to this country, will outshine them. But that is just their own failure and their inability to find success in the ways in which refugees have found success in this country.

[19:25:15]

(CROSSTALK)

OMAR: We are going to keep our commitment. We`re going to keep our promise. And we`re going to keep pushing the administration and other countries to do their part. The Afghani people deserve not just our empathy, but they need our partnership and our allyship to make sure that their lives are safe and prosperous.

REID: Well, I was going to say, there`s one person I know who doesn`t worry about it. They know that being outshined is happening.

There`s -- I don`t even remember his name. I just think he looks like the annoying orange. What is his name? Charlie, Charlie Kirk, who literally said that what he fears is that there will be millions of you. He named you by name.

If you even want to bother with responding to him, I want to give you that opportunity.

OMAR: He needs geography classes, and somebody needs to send him a globe maybe. Just...

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

OMAR: ... not from Afghanistan.

I`m from Somalia. And Somali refugees are in this country, and many of them are prospering, just as I have. And that man and others can cry about it, but the reality is, this is a country that welcomes refugees, and they don`t just welcome refugees. They sent one to Congress.

REID: There you go.

And my advice to, what is his name, Charlie, cry more, dear, because we are going to be an open country just as with -- the Statue of Liberty ain`t going nowhere.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, thank you so much. Really appreciate you being here tonight.

OMAR: Thank you.

REID: All right.

And still ahead: Texas Governor Greg Abbott has tested positive for COVID. Ta-da! His office says that, so far, he`s not experiencing any symptoms.

So, well, good thing he was already vaccinated. Am I right?

We will be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:31:10]

REID: Well, we have some breaking news out of Texas this evening.

The office of Republican Governor Greg Abbott announced that he has tested positive for COVID. Abbott is vaccinated and his office says he`s isolating and receiving antibody treatment. NBC News reports he`s told people that he`s received a third booster dose of the vaccine. His office did not respond to requests for comment.

Last night, his reelection campaign tweeted video of Abbott addressing a large maskless crowd at a Republican club outside Dallas. The news about Abbott comes as Texas is seeing a surge in COVID cases, with the governor standing firm on his ban on masks and vaccine mandates.

Multiple regions across Texas are completely out of ICU beds, including in the Austin area, the state capital. And just last week, a Dallas County judge warned of zero beds available, zero, for children in the days before the start of school.

Over the weekend, the Texas Supreme Court sided with Governor Abbott, blocking lower court rulings allowing districts to implement masks rules. But, thankfully for Texas children, some school districts are defying the governor, defying his order, despite the court ruling, including Dallas and Harris County, home to Houston, and Bexar County, where San Antonio is located.

Joining me now is Julian Castro, former HUD secretary and former mayor of San Antonio. He`s now an MSNBC political analyst.

Thank you for being here.

It is helpful that you`re also a former mayor. Your thoughts on the governor now testing COVID, the fact that he`s still holding maskless events and refusing to allow schoolchildren to be protected with mask mandates?

JULIAN CASTRO, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it`s absolutely maddening, Joy. It`s the height of hypocrisy.

You put out the stats there. Texas right now has one of the worst COVID-19 situations, only 314 ICU beds left in a state of 29 million people, more pediatric cases of COVID, I think, right now than any other state, or right around the same amount as Florida. And it`s surging here.

And, at the same time, the governor is in a tug of war with communities across the state and school districts that want to do everything that they can to protect children and businesses that want to protect customers by requiring vaccination, or at least requiring masks, school districts that want to require masks. They`re fighting that out in court.

The governor has said, no, you can`t do that. You can`t take the safety precautions that you think are in the best interests of the community and to protect children and, at the same time, acting so irresponsibly.

You saw the video of the event within the last 48 hours in Collin County, and then, when he gets COVID, does everything that he possibly can to make sure that he`s OK, gets access to Regeneron, and perhaps a third booster shot, things that ordinary Texans, everyday Texans would not have access to.

It is the height of hypocrisy.

REID: And I try -- I struggle to understand it, because spreading more sickness and death doesn`t strike me as smart politics.

Here`s just a couple headlines out of your state. In West Texas, a school district is going to close for two weeks due to COVID a week after classes started, began August 10 and has about 380 students, serving the town of Sheffield.

"TIME" magazine reporting a superintendent says they`re mandating Austin schools must be masked. Stephanie Elizalde wrote: "What if a child dies on my watch? How do I say to you, I`m really sorry, we did everything we could, except for masking, because the governor`s executive order prohibited me from doing so? What does that do for a parent? How does that bring them comfort or solace?"

Do you -- can you get inside the heads of these Republican governors like Abbott who are saying schools may not prevent COVID from coming in? Because I don`t get it.

CASTRO: I don`t, except to say that he`s trying to appeal to a very vocal small Republican primary base because he`s in the middle of the Republican primary with two people that are seen as even further to the right than him.

[19:35:01]

Parents are feeling it all over the state. The other day, my 6-year-old brought home this note from his public school that says that two individuals at the school tested positive for COVID. Mind you, he`d only been in school for about four days at that point.

REID: Yes.

CASTRO: The lack of the ability of a lot of school districts to do everything that they can to protect these children is bad for the children. And it`s making parents very angry toward the governor and the Republican Party here.

REID: Well, speaking of anger, there`s this other side of it too, where people are getting violent about masks -- about masks, period, and even getting violent toward people who are making their own decision to wear masks.

Here`s a "Fort Worth Star-Telegram" article in which a parent ripped the face mask off a teacher in a confrontation at school district -- a school in Austin.

In a statement to parents, the superintendent wrote: "In addition to one parent physically assaulting a teacher by ripping the mask off her face, others yelled at a teacher to take off her mask." This was at a meet-the- teacher event. School starts there tomorrow.

I mean, it`s bad enough that people are dumb enough to believe that it`s somehow better to get COVID than wear a mask. But on top of that, we`re seeing this around the country, anti-maskers assaulting people because they want to wear a mask.

Your thoughts?

CASTRO: I mean, it`s nonsensical. It`s become a proxy war for something else, something deeper.

This is part of the Trump Republican Party that basically says, it`s my way or the highway, that sees this, I think, as an extension of a culture war, of a changing America that they absolutely reject. It goes beyond just not wanting to wear a mask or thoughts of freedom.

This goes to that deep frustration, that anxiety that they feel that the census numbers the other day probably shot up their blood pressure. I think all of this goes together.

And, in the end of the day, as we`re seeing here with the governor, COVID doesn`t care whether you`re super conservative or you`re super liberal. You`re going to get it if you act irresponsibly, like the governor and others have. And, obviously, we wish him well.

But once they do, they end up taking one of those hospital beds that are in very short supply right now. And everybody has an interest in doing what they can to take safety precautions and to allow schools and businesses and others to do the same. And, in the least, let people protect themselves if you`re not going to do it.

REID: Right.

And their idea is, there is your body, my choice, that I get to make decisions for you. I can tell you what you need to wear on your body, and that they think they have the right to do it. I mean, they also think that with abortion.

But let`s go on to one more...

(CROSSTALK)

CASTRO: I was going to say, this is not new for that -- that faction.

REID: Yes, they think in general -- right.

CASTRO: Yes.

REID: It`s sort of a -- you wonder how slavery existed for so long. People really do like to control other people.

So, let me ask you as a public policy matter. Having worked on a federal level, do you think that we need federal mandates at this point to try to push it, federal and corporate mandates to get around these governors?

CASTRO: Yes, I think that the federal government should exercise more authority, in the least as other nations have done, on airplanes, on other types of transportation, other public spaces.

We really -- with the exception of states like California, we haven`t even dipped our toe into that federally. So, depending on what happens with COVID and this Delta variant in the days and weeks to come, that may become more and more necessary.

I know that that was not the first reaction or inclination of a lot of folks out there.

REID: Yes.

CASTRO: It hasn`t been of the president.

REID: Yes.

CASTRO: But the worst this gets, the more serious it gets, I think the stronger measures you have to consider.

REID: Yes.

When you have got people who are literally pro-COVID and want COVID to spread, I don`t know if they still believe in the Scott Atlas herd immunity thing, but they obviously want COVID to spread. I think you got to do something in a federal level at this point, because that`s their desire, is to make COVID spread. It`s bananas.

Julian Castro, thank you very much. I really appreciate you.

All right, don`t go anywhere. Tonight`s absolute worst is coming up straight ahead, as the Cyber Ninjas prepare to release the results of their pretend vote audit in Arizona.

We will be right back.