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Transcript: The ReidOut, 8/25/21

Guests: Esther Choo, William Barber, Richard Stengel


COVID resurgence are stressing U.S. hospitals. South Dakota Governor Noem welcomes COVID into her state. South Dakota vaccination rate is 26th in U.S. 1/6 select committee demands lawmakers phone records. The Biden administration has accomplished something that`s actually truly remarkable in Afghanistan, with more than 88,000 evacuations so far.


JOY RIED, MSNBC HOST: No, you didn`t say, far out and groovy, Scooby Doo. And you`re not though Shaggy. Are you Shaggy, you Shaggy Doo?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I grew up on Scooby Doo.

REID: I did too. It`s one of the greatest cartoons series ever made. So, you know, it makes sense. Peace out, dude.

MELBER: Have a good show.

REID: Cowabunga. That`s not from Scooby Doo.

Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with what could be -- this is actually good, what could be the way out of the pandemic at long last, and the Republican governors who act like they don`t ever want it to end.

As our nation`s health care system is wobbling under a continued assault by the delta variant and in parts of the country all but collapsing, what has been a vaccine push is now becoming a vaccine must with more and more vaccine requirements taking effect, especially now that the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer`s vaccine.

Today, the Pentagon ordered troops to get their shots as soon as possible. Private businesses are joining in. CVS Health and Disney said they would add or expand requirements for workers. And Delta Airlines said it would raise health care premiums for workers who remain unvaccinated. Add to that schools and universities, more than 800 are requiring students to get COVID vaccinations before returning to campus. Because the reality is the only way to blunt the pandemic is through vaccination, and the only way stop the misinformation and the ignorance and, frankly, the selfishness of the unvaccinated from prolonging the pandemic for everyone, for the rest of us, is to stop begging and start making it mandatory. Or the truly committed anti-vaxxers could just make like COVID Jonestown and move to Florida or Texas or freedom stand South Dakota with apologies to the doctors and nurses there.

Today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott rolled out a new ban on government vaccine mandates of any kind. His previous one only banned those under emergency authorization. It would seem that despite contracting COVID himself, Abbott is fine letting his citizens get infected and potentially die.

Of course his Republican partner in death, Florida`s Ron DeSantis, is also pushing masks and vaccine mandate bans. And then there`s South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, the Roaming Noem, who is apparently not content to let Abbot and DeSantis fight for the title of most derelict COVID governor. Just over, two weeks ago, she welcomed thousands of bikers to her state on a horse, no less, for the Sturgis motorcycle rally because freedom.

But with she along with Abbot and DeSantis really mean is freedom to get sick and die. South Dakota has seen massive surge over the past two weeks. Cases there have nearly quintupled in that time. So Kristi Noem has declared war not on the virus, no, no, but on President Biden over vaccine mandates that he hasn`t even actually implemented. She tweeted that she would take every action available under the law to protect South Dakotans from the federal government. No way, does that mean that South Dakotans shouldn`t use the highways?

And the Kristi Noem has staked her political ambitions on being the governor of YOLO when it comes to COVID despite a middling vaccination rate in her state. Last month she told The Associated Press, she would not step up efforts because her messaging has reached saturation level, okay.

Joining me now is Dr. Esther Choo, Professor at the Center for Policy Research and Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, and Charlie Sykes, Editor-at-Large for the Bulwark and an MSNBC Columnist.

I`m going to start with you, Dr. Choo. A saturation point in messaging, I don`t know what that means, but it sounds to me like the governor is saying, she`s not going to talk anymore about getting vaccinated. Do you think that that, from a medical point of view, is good public policy?

DR. ESTHER CHOO, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: Well, it`s really painful to hear that from where I stand because, like in many other states, we`re struggling here to just figure out who we let in next off a very long waiting list for ICU beds that are just running out. And, of course, you know, across the country last week, one in five ICUs we`re at 95 percent capacity. This week, one in four ICU beds are at 95 capacity or greater. You know, in Florida we`re seeing ICUs at 200 percent capacity, which means nobody is getting the care that they should get in the ICU.

So, to go from that to a governor who is saying things like that, I mean, you`re neither going to continue urging people but you`re also going to remove the ability of businesses to mandate, that means that you`re -- I mean, if you`re not doing persuasion and not doing mandates then you`re doing nothing to encourage things like vaccination.

REID: Yes. Well, that`s I think that`s their plan. Their plan is to do nothing. You know, why do you invite a political guy to a segment about health? Because it`s all political, right? That`s why we`ve got you here Charlie instead of being in one talking about 2022 or something. We have to put you in this segment because for these governors, for the Texas, South Dakota, all these guy, to them -- I don`t get it but I wish you would explain to me.


The good politics is let COVID run freely wild through my state and then back it up by having some pop up clinics where people to get treated. They think that`s good politics. Do you agree?

CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC COLUMNIST: No. And, in fact, I do think we have an inflection point now, where more and more people are getting disgusted by the selfish and the stupid of refusing to get vaccinated. You see this in the public opinion polls. You see this anecdotally. And I agree with you that the private companies that are mandating this will change behavior.

But the politics of this is awfully interesting. Because you have the governor of -- Governor Abbot in Texas, Governor DeSantis in Florida and Governor Noem is South Dakota, who are all in thinking that their handling of this is their ticket to political success in 2022 and 2024.

Now, as bad as Kristi Noem has been, I want to point out that she said today or yesterday that she would not support banning, prohibiting private companies from requiring proof of vaccination, which really highlights, in many ways, because she`s very MAGA, but that highlights how radical Ron DeSantis is.

REID: Yes.

SYKES: Because Ron DeSantis is out there saying that, when he was talking about, you know, conservative small government property right, telling private companies that he is going to bar them from having these policies. And then you have Governor Abbot who is doubling down banning these vaccine mandates. And Kristi Noem, who is thoroughly deplorable, is saying, no, that`s not in my power as governor. I may not be pushing this, I maybe riding around on the horse saying freedom, but I am not going to ban these vaccines, the vaccine requirements by private companies. So that`s an interesting division that really kind of shows you what an island Ron DeSantis is on right now.

REID: A 100 percent, he`s saying you`re not a private business. I own you and you`re going to do what I say, and that`s not use being conservative thing.

Let`s stay with Kristi Noem just for a second. She was in South Carolina Monday and you know, she`s almost doing it like a hymn. People are happy because they`re free. Like she is doing his eye is on the sparrow except you`re going to get COVID version.

She`s also -- okay, so let me just go back. So, Senator Murphy tweeted to her about the fact that South Carolina actually codified a law. It`s called 13-28-7.1, and it was revised in 2016. It requires that any pupil entering school receive immunization against all of these things, diphtheria, pertussis, measles, rubella, mumps, tetanus, meningitis, all of that staff, chickenpox et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And he tweeted that to her, because she said if Joe Biden illegally mandates vaccines, I will take every action under the law to protect South Dakotans from the federal government.

Dr. Choo, I mean, the reality is if these governors took the same attitude toward measles, right, or chickenpox, as they are taking right now toward COVID, they would be run out of office because people are like, wait, you want to let chickenpox in too. But some of the same people are like let COVID in. It doesn`t make sense to me, but as a physician, I just want to get your comment on it.

CHOO: Yes. There`s a total carve-out for COVID where pretending like this never happened before. I mean, we all had the little yellow card to go to elementary school, right?

REID: Yes.

CHOO: You know, where you had all your vaccinations stuff done. All of us traveled out of the country, without question, we get vaccines that are required and we understand that`s part of the social contract that you get to go to these places and get your education and get to live your life if you just demonstrate that you`re not going to harm other people.

And so these are not new or different. It is the newest disease and it`s been plugged into the same old process from a public health standpoint, making COVID something that is really -- or kind of making it this exotic thing when actually we need to just behave the way we do for any other infectious disease. And, of course, the reason we are all around with the life spans we have, the reason we have grandparents who do not have polio, and the reason all of us are here is because of the massive improvements and life expectancy and quality of life from all of these vaccines, and the same goes for COVID just more acutely.

REID: And you`re absolutely right. I mean, this is not like polio, this is not an ancient thing. Mitch McConnell had polio as a child. You know, what is going to happen? I mean -- and, by the way, South Dakota, the number one state in terms of who has vaccinated is Vermont. Obviously, New England is doing great, Massachusetts, Connecticut. They are in the middle. They`re at 48 percent vaccination rate. That`s not good, right? That`s not the way to stop this disease from killing people.

What do you think the politics are going to look like when you start seeing the military require it, when you`re seeing universities require it, when the mandates start coming in, because you`re just going to have to adjust? I mean, you can`t tuck the federal mandates. They`re going to be there. So is the new politics going to be for people, like Noem and DeSantis, that the way they`re going to try to turn around, is just what, run against the military?


Are they going to say, the military is this Marxist institution? What is going to be there play when it has to be done to get on a plane or to go into any federal building?

SYKES: Well, they`re going to play that card that somehow this is an infringement on freedom. But this point can`t be stressed too strongly that we have had immunization requirements for years. In fact, you know, these folks running around with the, Don`t Tread it on Me flag and talk about 1776. Do you know who imposed one of the first vaccine mandates in American history? George Washington, who required members of the continental army to be vaccinated.

And so this is not a new thing. There`s a long history of this. There`s no question about the legality of all of it. And also, it really is a degradation of the slogan of freedom. Because what we always understood that, you know, I am free to swing my arm until it hits your nose. Well, this is -- we have always balanced -- we always balanced freedom with responsibility. We have rights but we have responsibilities to the community as well. And I think this is showing up in the polls. There was the Quinnipiac Poll showing that Ron DeSantis` position on masks is rejected by very strong majorities of voters.

And I do think that people -- there`s a stream of common sense out there, which is reassuring for those of us that sometimes they are tempted to think that Twitter is real life, that people understand that, look, being vaccinated is not a radical thing, it is something our children have been doing for years to be able to go to school. It`s something that Americans have been doing. They understand it`s part of the American historical legacy.

And so I think that they have miscalculated. They are playing to base tribal politics. But I think the vast majority of Americans are looking at this and going, you know what, if my kid can`t go to school and my kid is put at risk and my neighbors are dying, this is just stupid. This is stupid, reckless and it`s invincible ignorance on the part of these governors who put demagoguery over the lives of their constituents.

REID: You know, you`re absolutely right. I mean, look, I had to -- FedEx have my vaccine records for my kids` FedEx up so they could enter into New York Schools. You know where they lived before that, Florida, which is one of the strictest states. You cannot walk into a -- walk your kid into an elementary school in Florida unless they are fully vaccinated and you can prove it.

I`m going to give you the last word on this Dr. Choo. In the end, is what saves us this is nightmare, mandates, don`t make it optional, if you don`t like it, then just stay home. It`s mandated. Isn`t that going to be the answer in the end?

CHOO: I do think they`re going to play a major role, I think, especially paired with FDA approval. I will say there are chunks of this country on, of course, globally where it is not just an issue of people who have full access and information refusing to get it. I still think we have a lot of work to do and people who do not have access to care and not had equitable access to good, medical information from trusted sources.

So I think on the medical side, we`re really focusing on people for whom mandate is not the issue. It really is equitable access. And then after that, of course, chipping away at those who are just putting their foot down and saying, I just refuse to get it, because of the political rhetoric, and I think that`s where we need to compel people with mandates.

None of us on the health care or public health end love mandates. We don`t want to go to that. It`s just that`s where we are with delta and, you know, of course, we`re anticipating just the next variant because the longer this goes on, the more the variants are going to emerge. I`m sure we`re going to be talking about lambda, everything data.

REID: Every time someone says lambda, I want to pass out. Because you think delta is bad, apparently, lambda makes delta look like child`s play. And these people are playing games letting it mutate because they won`t do a simple thing like wear a little mask or get a shot. It`s unbelievable. But, yes, we got to work on it. And, yes, if you don`t have a doctor and you don`t have a doctor to ask, then I have empathy for you. If you`re being ideological about it, when mandates come, adjust, grow up.

Thank you very much Dr. Esther Choo and Charlie Sykes.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, the January 6th paper trail, the select committee announces a sweeping request for records of Trump and his top lackeys, including all of his adult children, except for Tiffany. Sorry, Tiffany.

Plus, the shame of the Republican Party unanimously voting against the John Lewis Voting Rights Act in the House as their Republican colleagues in Texas get ready to vote on their voter suppression bill tomorrow.

And tonight`s absolute worse, we are learning that there are consequences to racist voter intimidation and suppression. Now, they could be hit with the biggest fine of its kind ever levied.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: And here we go. The House Select Committee is demanding materials about Trump administration`s involvement in January 6th. And Chairman Bennie Thompson has set a two-week deadline for those materials to be turned over before he resorts to subpoenas.

In a flurry of letters today, the committee issued sweeping document requests to eight different agencies of the executive branch. But the most significant request is to the National Archives, which now holds the records from the Trump White House. According to the committee, they are seeking materials on the administration`s attempts to derail the Electoral College vote count as well as plans for the rallies leading up to January 6th and potential plans to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.

But they`re also investigating the big lie, seeking information about the former president`s knowledge of the election results and what he communicated to the American people about the election. They are requesting documents and communications relating to a sprawling list of subjects, a list that reads like a who`s who in Trumps effort to steal the election, people like Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, Michael Flynn and Trump`s children, Eric, Ivanka and Don Jr. not Tiffany though.

The list also includes Alex Jones of the fake news site Infowars, who claims that he paid for the rally at the Ellipse before the insurrection, Ali Alexander, a organizer of that rally who implicated three members of Congress in the Stop the Steal effort, Roger Stone, the Trump confidant whose bodyguards were involved in the siege, and Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, who was sentenced to five months in prison this week on weapons and vandalism charges related to his ripping the Black Lives Matter sign off an historic black church in Washington, D.C.

With me now is Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor general, and Frank Figliuzzi, former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI.

Thank you guys for being here.

Neal, I`m going to start with you.

Here`s some of what the committee is requesting. And this is possible material related to militias and conspiracy theorists, including all documents and communications referring and relating to QAnon, the Proud Boys, Stop the Steal, Oath Keepers, the 3 Percenters, or concerning the -- I mean, all concerning the election 2020 results.

But here`s another thing they`re requesting, all documents and communications related to the mental stability of Donald Trump or his fitness for office.

I will ask you first and then Frank what all that says to you.

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, boy, Joy, that may be a lot of documents.

REID: Yes.

KATYAL: Look, I think this is really significant.

I think it underscores the seriousness of the inquiry that the January 6 Commission`s looking at, and particularly when you view it in light of yesterday`s order, which was to a bunch of telephone companies to require them to preserve all their electronic data about communications involving January 6, including with members of Congress.

And it`s significant. We haven`t had a hearing since the police officers testified about this, which was so moving. And I think they have -- the investigators have taken a pause and said, what do we now need to know?

And I think the most significant thing you see in today`s requests is that it gets to the heart of something that you and I have both talked about in the past, a fear that Donald Trump used the Justice Department as a coup agent, or tried to use it.

And so we need to know, what was the pressure he tried to put on the Justice Department, and what was the response? Because this -- these -- the Trump Justice Department basically was a blank check for Donald Trump throughout his presidency.

But, all of a sudden, you have them finally saying -- finding a little bit of a spine and saying no. Gosh, how significant must have those demands have been on the Justice Department for even them to say no to Donald Trump?

REID: And what does it say to you, as an investigator, or former investigator, Frank, that they`re looking for these groups -- we knew the names of them, the Proud Boys, these violent groups like the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the 3 Percenters, and their connections -- and their communications regarding 2020, and looking for that, and looking for that information from the White House?

What does that tell you? And, also, what does it tell you that they`re also looking for information Trump`s mental stability?


As Neal said, it is the first significant sign of life we have had from the select committee following the compelling testimony of the police officers.

This is a very broad records request. And I want to try to set expectations here first. Let`s remember that the former president was not someone who engaged in e-mail communications. So let`s not get excited that we`re going to find some smoking gun e-mail communication.

But there must be some predication here, Joy. I do not believe, and, certainly, if we use the model of a prosecutive entity, that they would just willy-nilly send out this kind of shotgun request without reason to believe, at least a reasonable cause to believe that there were such communications or may have been such communications from the White House to these parties, or vice versa.

The National Archives is the repository of record for those White House communications. But let`s also understand something here. They are the repository of record for official devices and communications. That doesn`t mean that personal phones, personal computers, and communications aren`t being used by certain folks are in and around the White House, including members of Congress, which was part of the request, and that the Archives would capture those personal communications.

So, I want to set expectations.

But here`s encouraging news. This sign of life is significant. The investigation is taking off. They have got some reason to believe this is going to reap benefits for them. Now we watch and see the strength of this select committee. What happens if they turn to subpoenas? How long is it going to take the National Archives to respond to this massive request? Are they properly staffed? Can they do it in two weeks?

I say no.

REID: Well, but it`s just -- and you guys have both been very -- you guys are very -- you`re gentlemen. So you guys didn`t really touch the mental stability thing, either one of you.

But I`m going to come back to you on this, Frank, because when you`re talking about autocrats, in general, you talk about people who we tend to think of as -- quote, unquote -- "madmen," right?


It`s sort of kind of a way that we refer to them. But if you`re asking for records related to someone`s mental stability, that indicates, at least to me, as a layman, that you`re questioning whether there were communications about whether the president of the United States was mentally stable.

That seems significant to me. And I just wonder, to you -- does it to you?

FIGLIUZZI: yes, on the theory that they would not send out this kind of fishing expedition request, I believe this signals they have got some predication to believe this was discussed.

And here`s how it might be in proper context. You understand that they have requested records that indicate what the president might have been told about the actual election results, right?

REID: Right.

FIGLIUZZI: And he may have been warned, don`t go there. These are certified results, my friend.

And if he kept pushing back and making stuff up, that would be indicative, perhaps, of a diminished mental state. I think they have got some reason to believe that kind of thing was discussed.

REID: Speaking of mental stability and just -- well, I shouldn`t even say -- make that my segue.

I want to ask you about another person that sort of, not tangentially, but sort of involved this as well, Sidney Powell. This is a separate thing. This is a federal judge in Michigan who sanctioned several pro-Trump attorneys, including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, ruling that the attorneys should face a range of punishments, including undergoing legal education, potentially facing disbarment, saying that their lawsuit about the election was a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.

Neal, that seems pretty strong language. Is that the kind of -- are we starting to now see that the consequences, at least -- maybe not for Trump, but for his lawyers, are just going to keep getting more severe?

KATYAL: Yes, I mean, as it says in "Spinal Tap," that goes to 11.

You don`t see federal judges talking about that to lawyers, in my experience. And, as a lawyer I strongly support zealous advocacy. I have no problem with people who take a client`s position and fully support it with law and facts.

Unfortunately, this cast of characters didn`t do anything like that. They did the reverse. And when the legal profession gets a bad name, it`s because of stuff like this. And so I`m glad to see the judge calling out this conduct, because this is -- this is not part of our advocacy tradition in any way, shape, or form.

REID: Last question very quickly, Frank.

We now know that the officer who shot Ashli Babbitt, he`s going to reveal his identity in an NBC News interview with our own Lester Holt. This comes after he was exonerated by Capitol Police, saying the actions of the officer potentially saved members and staff from serious injury and possible death.

Because you have been in a law enforcement role, I just want to know what your -- what do you think of this officer coming forward?

FIGLIUZZI: Yes, real quickly, I am intrigued and slightly concerned.

I am monitoring communications by violent extremists. They want this guy. They want to -- they want to find out who he is. Many of them already know. His identity is all over extremist sites right now. I`m intrigued by why he feels now he needs to come forward and explain his actions.

He`s been cleared. He`s been cleared by DOJ Civil Rights. He`s been cleared by the District of Columbia investigation and now by his own internal Capitol Police inquiry. He was within their deadly force policy. He needs to convey that. And we need to hear from him as to exactly what he found to be an imminent threat to life or serious bodily harm for him or for those he was protecting.

REID: I think we`re all interested.

And I believe the -- he can very easily be labeled a hero for what he did trying to protect those people in the Capitol that day. He did the best that he could. At least, that`s what the Capitol Police found as well.

Neal Katyal, Frank Figliuzzi, thank you both very much.

Still ahead: Are you sitting down? Because this may come as a bit of a shock. Are you ready? OK.

Last night, not a single House Republican voted for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. OK, maybe it`s not that big of a shock. I`m sorry I made just sit down. You can get up and move around again.

We will be right back.




GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The right of ordinary men and women to determine their own political future lies at the heart of the American experiment.

In four decades, since the Voting Rights Act was first passed, we have made progress toward equality, yet the work for a more perfect union is never- ending.


REID: That was Republican President George W. Bush proudly promoting the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Since its passage, the law has been reauthorized and amended five times, with large bipartisan majorities. Under a Bush, not a single Senate Republican opposed the bill, and only 33 House Republicans opposed it. At that time, their opposition was viewed as an embarrassment for the Republican leadership.

In the 15 years since then, Republican support for voting rights has evaporated. What was once deemed shamefully oppressive is now proudly central to the Republican Party.

Yesterday, House Democrats passed legislation that would strengthen the landmark civil rights era voting law, and not a single Republican voted for it, not one.

Mo Brooks, the pro-insurrectionist Republican from Alabama, defended his opposition by tweeting this string of incoherent Republican trigger words: "I will vote against H.R.4, the John Lewis Act, because much like H.R.1, the For the People Act, it undermines America`s republic and effectively turns our election results into what we so often see in North Korea, the old Soviet Union, Venezuela, and any number of other pretend republics."

He was joined by representatives Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, Republicans who have been praised for their objection to the big lie. If passed, the John Lewis Act and the For the People Act could neutralize or block many of the recent restrictive voting laws inspired by orange Jabba`S big lie.


And that sounds pretty great for democracy, right?

Well, sadly, the bill faces very dim prospects in the Senate, thanks to people like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

Today, voting rights activists and representatives of the Poor People`s Campaign met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi to urge immediate action.


PAMELA GARRISON, WEST VIRGINIA POOR PEOPLE`S CAMPAIGN: We`re hurting. We`re scared. We`re scared. We have seen 9 -- we have seen January the 6th. And I`m scared to death of what -- of the political insurrection I`m seeing in the states.

DENITA JONES, TEXAS POOR PEOPLE`S CAMPAIGN: This is not for show. My life, my children`s lives, and those that those of Texas residents are at stake.

We have elected officials that are fighting to suppress my vote.

LATOSHA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTERS MATTER: What we`re seeing is a backlash of we`re being punished because people actually participated within this democracy.

REV. DR. WILLIAM BARBER, CO-CHAIR, POOR PEOPLE`S CAMPAIGN: End the filibuster. It cannot be used as a modern-day interposition and nullification.


REID: Joining me now is the man you just saw, Bishop William Barber, co- chair of Poor People`s Campaign.

And so I just want to give you an opportunity to tell us. You met with Speaker Pelosi.

Let me actually play -- play what she said when she came out of the meeting, because she also spoke at that rally. Let`s just play Speaker Pelosi real quick.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I welcome the comments that you have made about policy and the connection between voting rights and policy progress for the people.

I do not get involved in rules in terms of the Senate and the rest. But I do hope that we can make sure that we have success in saving our democracy.


REID: Bishop Barber, just give us a sense of what you think came out of that meeting today, what commitments were made, and what you think happens next.

BARBER: Well, it was a huge meeting.

And I have deep respect more -- even more for the speaker, because we had 21 people there. We -- these were national denominational leaders, white and black and Native, and activists, and poor and impacted people.

And for an hour, she listened to us make the moral case, to say, this is bigger than just black and white. This is about the future of this democracy. And we helped to lay out what we said is, on January the 6th, we had a violent physical insurrection that was put down, but now we have a political policy insurrection.

This is a moral crisis, constitutional crisis for the country. And, Joy, we asked this question and she heard it. What doth it profit America if you hold onto a regressive filibuster, if you pass a limited infrastructure plan, but you lose the democracy, you lose the infrastructure of democracy, which is voting rights, and you lose the infrastructure of people`s lives, like passing $15 and a union, $15 minimum wage and a serious budget that lifts from the bottom?

And she could hear that. And she understood that. And these pastors and bishops and others and these poor and low-wealth people made it clear, you cannot separate the voting rights struggle from the economic justice struggle. You have to keep them together.

And what we said to her, finally, Joy, is, the House has to hold the line. Yes, we`re for infrastructure. I`m for infrastructure for more than they have. The Poor People`s Campaign has thought it should be $10 trillion over 10 years.

Yes, we are for the budget, but not without ending the filibuster, passing For the People Act, passing the voting rights restoration act. Those two have to be patched. One of them is not enough, passing $15 living wage and the Build Back Better plan.

So, the House must say, we will do all of it, but we`re not going to just do part of it and leave the democracy -- the infrastructure of our democracy shattered, broken and destroyed.

REID: And, just to be clear, because the one that the House seems to be focused on is the John Lewis Act, which has a lot of great things in it.

It would restore some of the strength of the Voting Rights Act. It`s named for John Lewis. Hard to believe that Republicans would reject it with his name on it, but they don`t seem to care. It would require some changes in election procedures to go through DOJ approval and put some preclearance back in.

But that`s for the future. That has nothing to do with the laws that have already passed.

BARBER: That`s right.

REID: What do you -- what would you like to see? In the ideal world, you could make the rules of what Democrats could do, what would they do in terms of the strategy in the House?

Are you talking about holding up all the bills unless they get H.R.1? What do you think -- what would you like to see them do to show that they actually mean that they want to pass these bills?

BARBER: Well, at least do what the senators did, the Republican senators and Manchin did. They held up and said, we`re not going to do certain things until you give us this infrastructure.

So, there ought to be the same thing in the House. They -- at least they should say, listen, we will pass it, but we`re not sending an infrastructure bill over by itself, with no commitment from you to pass the For the People Act, which is the only way you deal with the bills that are being passed now.

REID: Right.

BARBER: The voting rights administration is great. It`s got to be done.

But even in that, a state has to have a had 15 incidents of voter suppression over the last 25 years adjudicated in order to be covered now on the preclearance.


So, that`s some states but not all states. But this bill they`re passing now, you can`t stop those with Voting Rights Act. You have to have the For the People`s Act to assure voter access, get dark money out. They could put riders on this all, and say, listen, OK, we`re going to give -- we will get the infrastructure but when we do it, the rider will be on it. If your state is engaged in voter suppression, you don`t get a dime.

The bottom line is fight. This is what politics is about. They should not get everything and poor and low wealth people, black people and brown people get nothing. They should not do that.

We cannot give up the infrastructure of the democracy. That`s why tomorrow we`re in West Virginia, a moral motor motorcade on Manchin, from Madison to Charleston, lead by white and black folk from West Virginia. Remember 100 years ago, the Blair Mountain struggle when black and white minister together, and Willie Nelson called me today (INAUDIBLE).

Willie said, hey, I`m in and I`m getting ready to call other country stars to be in, because this is not just about black folks being attacked. This is about the entire democracy being attacked. And how can you give infrastructure, lastly, that`s going to go to developers and whatnot, and not give $15 living wage to 32 million people, Joy.


BARBER: Thirty-two million people who make -- and 65 million poor low wealth voters in this country.

REID: Yeah.

BARBER: The ideal world is fight into the house, hold the line. Hold the line.

REID: And a reminder that West Virginia is one of America`s poorest states. So, Manchin, it`s in his interest to serve his own people, you think.

Bishop William Barber, thank you very much for all that you do. Really appreciate you.

OK, tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is still ahead. Some robocall get their comeuppance.

But, first, despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth on the right, the Biden administration has accomplished something that`s actually truly remarkable in Afghanistan, with more than 88,000 evacuations so far. We`ll have the latest, next.

Stay with us.



REID: With six days to go before the August 31st deadline to leave Afghanistan, the State Department gave its full report on the number of Americans safely evacuated and those who still remain.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Based on our analysis, starting on August 14th when our operations began, there was a population as many as 6,000 American citizens in Afghanistan who wanted to leave. Over the last ten days, roughly 4,500 of these have been safely evacuated along with immediate family members. Over the past 24 hours, we have been in direct contact with approximately 500 additional Americans and provided specific instructions on how to get to the airport safely.


REID: While that means more work needs to be done in the coming days, let me try to get ahead of the critics who will bang on with their Saigon comparisons.

Just for context, the total number of people airlifted out of Vietnam in 1975 was around 7,000. That was done under threat of being shot at and before Saigon fell. The Pentagon says that more than double that were evacuated from Afghanistan just yesterday alone, for a total of nearly 88,000 people with no U.S. casualties.

Most of this is done after the Taliban took control of Kabul. And for those who insist that doesn`t matter, that the whole enterprise is a failure because it has been messy at times, well, welcome to war. That`s what war looks like, especially one we lost a long time ago. You don`t want a mess, maybe don`t do wars.

Joining me now, Richard Stengel, former under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs in the Obama administration.

I`ve got a few questions for you but I have to start by getting your take on some of this has been such posturing, I have to say. Pure political posturing, the response to what`s happening in Kabul, including by some Democrats too. You have two representatives on the House of Representative, Representatives Peter Meijer who is a Republican and Seth Moulton who is a Democrat took themselves to Afghanistan, went to Kabul while people were trying to evacuate, used up resources that should have been used to get people out.

They are supposedly full of outrage that we`re not getting people out. They took two seats. Your thoughts on that?

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby had a very, I thought, very diplomatic response to it, saying, hey, listen, we can`t use the resources for you politicians that want to take pictures over here.

Your thoughts, though?

RICHARD STENGEL, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah. So, I mean, Joy, there`s a lot of hypocrisy to go around. I would say what those two gentlemen was irresponsible. I mean, the administration has asked for no Congress people to visit Afghanistan during this crisis. One of the things that happens in government, they are called CODELs when congressional delegations come.

And what happens is you have to use resources for the congressmen and women that would go to other people. So, these two guys had American soldiers guarding them who instead of helping other Americans get out or Afghan citizen who helped us get out, they are protecting these two congressmen and then they take the seats when they fly back of people who would potentially come to the United States.

I mean, there`s grandstanding, and there`s dangerous grandstanding, and then there`s colossal irresponsibility.

REID: And then there`s Kevin McCarthy. I`m not sure what he`s good at. This whole thing he`s trying to do now about trying to be speaker of the House, that ain`t what he`s good at.

Here he is talking about what he would have done.



REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Why wouldn`t we keep a base in that geographical region of the world, why would release it? Why if there was not one casualty in the last 18 months, only 2,500 troops had to be there? We were securing what we need to do. I don`t believe it was right to close the base. You asked me a question, I would have kept it open.


REID: Want to help him out? Any ideas on help answer poor Kevin`s question?

STENGEL: Well, he supported the Trump agreement, which was not even an agreement. It was a going out of business sale without negotiating with our allies being the Afghan government. It was the Trump administration that set this time bomb off as it exploded now and reduced the amount of soldiers there from 15,000 to 1,500.

Of course, we have soldiers in the region. We`re not going to have them in Afghanistan because President Biden has decided it`s the right thing to get them out. Let`s get them out in any way we can and help as many people as we can have this sorry sad chapter in our history be over.


REID: I agree. Let`s talk about what can be done after. The World Bank has already taken some steps to freeze aid to Afghanistan, to maybe hold on to their money, to have some leverage over the way they behave. Here is their spokesman trying to convince the west that women in Afghanistan have nothing to fear from the Taliban. Take a listen with our Richard Engel.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: What would you say to Afghan women who are terrified?

TALIBAN SPOKESMAN (through translator): They are sisters. We must show them respect. They should not be frightened. The Taliban are humans and from this country. They have fought for their country. Women should be proud of us, not scared.


REID: What are you going to do with that?

STENGEL: The first thing to know, as you do know, joy, 70 percent of Afghan budget comes from foreign assistance, mainly international institutions and Europeans. One of the things that the Taliban are doing and it may be honest or not, I don`t know. They want to have a more moderate line so they don`t lose all of this funding. They don`t want to have to take over government and then have absolutely no operating budget.

So I would -- I would wait and see. I hope they`re telling the truth. It`s in their best interest to be much more moderate and it`s in their interest to try to be welcoming to women in a modern way. I will see if they have.

I mean, I wrote a piece in the "New York Times" about the social media campaign they have to try to be -- they want to be the legitimate government of Afghanistan and we`ll have to see if they do.

REID: All right. And, right, we assume they`re at least rational actors and not wanting to be a pariah state. We`ll see what happens. But in the end, we`re getting out of it before it`s done.

Richard Stengel, thank you very much. Really appreciate you.

REID: Don`t go anywhere. Tonight`s absolute worst is going up next as two of the most egregious robocall scammers face the music. And what a tune it is.

We`ll be right back.



REID: Voter suppression doesn`t just happen in plain sight. There`s an entire vile underbelly of suppression efforts involving dirty tricks, flyers and pamphlets, fake officials with their fake official clipboards all designed to keep certain people who don`t usually look like them from voting.

Well, sometimes those tricksters get caught. Enter Jacob Wohl and Jack Berkman, two conservative operatives behind illegal robocalls that made false claims about mail voting. The calls, more than 1,000 of them, targeted black voters in Detroit as well as in multiple states ahead of the 2020 election.

Now, we`re going to play that call. Just to be clear, everything you`re about to hear is falsity -- false, false, false.


ROBOCALL: Hi. This is Tamika Taylor from Project 1599, the civil rights organization founded by Jack Berkman and Jacob Wohl. Mail-in voting sounds great but did you know that if you vote by mail, your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts?

The CDC is even pushing to use records for mail-in voting to track people for mandatory vaccines. Don`t be finessed into giving your private information to the man. Stay safe and beware of vote by mail.


REID: Well, I hope Tamika Taylor got a healthy coin in exchange for her soul.

The Federal Communications Commission proposed a whopping $5.1 million fine against Wohl and Burkman, making it the largest robocall fine ever proposed by the FCC for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

But this stunt these guys pulled was not exactly an original crime. Back in 1982, the Republican National Committee was charged with seeking to discourage black people from voting through targeted mailing making bogus claims about penalties for voting and for violating election laws, pretty much the pony express version of these robocalls. They also hired off-duty cops to patrol the polls in minority neighborhoods to try to intimidate black voters.

When they got caught RNC agreed to a consent decree that limited so-called ballot security operations. But that decree expired in 2018. Kind of makes sense now, right? The army for Trump poll watchers, poll workers who were harassed -- who were harassed, taunted and threatened because after nearly four decades the Republican Party is now free to sabotage elections again without restraint.

These operatives behind the robocall are just picking up where the RNC left off, which is why the long history of Republican trickery to intimidate voters is tonight`s absolute worst. I mean, no wonder Republicans -- no Republicans voted for the John Lewis bill to restore the Voting Rights Act. They love violating it.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.

You should join me tomorrow night when my guests include New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.