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Transcript: The ReidOut, 8/31/21

Guests: Eric Swalwell, Lucas Kunce, Matthew Dowd, Cedric Richmond, Val Demings


Sen. Ron Johnson blames Trump for election loss in undercover video. January 6th committee to request phone records of GOP politicians. Texas legislature passes voters suppression bill. North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn's dangerous rhetoric about possible future bloodshed confirms that violence has become a central dynamic in today's Republican Party.


JOY RIED, MSNBC HOST: I know where you are online. And I tweeted about the country music thing. So look for that tweet. It's on there. Have a good night.

MELBER: I will. Good night, Joy.

REID: Good night. Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with Republicans who continue to pour gasoline on the flames that led to January 6th. And we've seen on countless occasions how GOP lawmakers have downplayed the violence and deflected blame for the insurrection all while defending the big lie.

But now one freshman member of Congress is taking it up a notch, or should I say down a notch. 26-year-old junior brown shirt Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, who, from the start, made it clear that his purpose in Washington is messaging, not legislating, is not only pushing the big lie, he's issuing a warning that would be better described as a threat.

While promoting false claims of election fraud at a local GOP event on Sunday, Cawthorn raised the prospect that if Republican candidates lose future elections, the answer might be for their supporters to get violent. He even suggested that if things don't work out at the ballot box the way Republican voters want them to, even he might take up arms against his fellow Americans. See for yourself.


REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): I'll tell you, anybody who tells you that Joe Biden was dutifully elected is lying to you.

If our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, then it's going to lead to one place, and it's bloodshed. And I will tell you, as much as I am willing to defend our liberty at all costs, there's nothing that I would dread doing more than having to pick up arms against a fellow American.


REID: So, Cawthorn, who, let's just reiterate, is not just some guy, he's a, yes, embarrassing, creepy, tree-punching but sitting member of Congress, and here he is, clearly justifying violence based on the false pretense of a rigged election. That's the central claim of the big lie, which led to the January 6th insurrection in the first place. And he's also suggesting that he condones the insurrection itself, portraying the perpetrators of the Capitol siege who chanted, hang Mike Pence, and brought a noose and scaffolding with them just in case they caught him, he is praising them as heroes.

Cawthorn was referred to the jailed insurrectionist who, by the way, are charged with serious crimes, including assaulting police officers by beating them, and dousing them with bear spray, portraying them as political prisoners and hostages. He even news about busting them out. Here he is joining that portion of his act.


CAWTHORN: The big problem is we don't know actually know where all the political prisoners are, and so if we were to actually be able to go and try and bust them out, and let me tell you, the reason why they have taken this political prisoners is they're trying to make an example, to say, because they don't want to see the mass protests going on in Washington.


REID: And here is how Cawthorn responded when a member of the audience asked when's the next insurrection, and asked when he'll be summoned back to Washington to get it on.


REPORTER: When are you going to call us to Washington again?

CAWTHORN: We are actively working on that one.


REID: Found that funny, did you. A spokesman for Cawthorn insisted to The Washington Post that congressman, quote, is clearly advocating for violence not to occur. Really? Was that supposed to be like funny irony, Madison, because by casting doubt on a legitimate election and then chest pumping about possible bloodshed, you are actually encouraging political violence, in fact, the very kind of political violence that's normally associated with brown shirt fascism.

Now, all of this begs the question, where is Kevin McCarthy? In a normal world, Cawthorn's threatening remarks would seem to warrant disciplinary action, and even expulsion from Congress. But despite our requests today, the Republican leader has not made any comment.

And that brings us to our next point, which is that many of the Republicans who have promoted the big lie don't even believe it themselves. Take Senator Ron Johnson, for example, he has been pushing false claims of voter fraud since the beginning, and in May, he wouldn't even acknowledge that Biden legitimately won the election. Well, he's now supporting an Arizona- style fraudit of Wisconsin, like the one in Arizona.

However, in secretly recorded footage, we discover that when he thinks Trump is not looking, Johnson drops the Looney Toon mask and admits to Investigative Reporter Laura Windsor, who he assumed was a Trump supporter, that Trump legit lost the election and had only himself to blame for losing Wisconsin, and that there was nothing skewed at all about the election results.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): The only reason Trump lost Wisconsin is that 51,000 Republican voters didn't vote for him. They voted for other Republican candidates.

REPORTER: So you're telling me that Joe Biden won the state fair and square.


But I don't see it, I don't believe it.

JOHNSON: Look at the totals. It's certainly plausible. There's nothing obviously skewed about the results. There isn't. He didn't get 51,000 voters that other Republicans got, and that's why he lost.


REID: Joining me now is Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, a Trump impeachment manager earlier this year, and Clint Watts, former FBI Special Agent and MSNBC National Security Analyst. Thank you both for being here.

And, Congressman, I'm sitting here looking at a tweet that you sent out earlier this week and you wrote that a staffer emailed you asking if you wanted to buy a bullet proof vest because that's now an approved expense in the House given what's gone on. And you said, I didn't believe it was for real. It turns out she was thinking about people like Madison Cawthorn, not even people outside of my office building, but rather inside.

So you've got people like Madison Cawthorn, who are basically spoiling for another January 6th internally. The speaker of the House issued a statement saying, like he has several times this year, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is refusing to take action against a member of his conference who is calling for violence.

And somebody who has to serve with this person, do you believe that it is time for Madison Cawthorn to be expelled from Congress?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): He should face the consequences for what he has said, and I think Speaker Pelosi is considering that, and that's what her statement reflects. And this is why Kevin McCarthy cannot be speaker. He is not responsible enough to break from Donald Trump and just condemn basic outright violence.

And, by the way, that aide asked me earlier tonight, she said, you know, you didn't respond to the email, do you want the vest. You tweeted about it. And I thought it was bananas, frankly, when she sent it to me. I thought it was a joke. A lot of my colleagues have understandably purchased bullet proof vests, which I respect, but as you see these statements from people like Madison Cawthorn, I'm naive. I'm the naive one to think that he and others would not, again, invite, assemble, incite and aim violence at the Capitol.

And so we have to be prepared because it's twin lies, actually, Joy, there're two lies that they are telling that are deadly. The lie about the election, where there has been continued violence in our country and the lies about the vaccine that are inspiring people to stay unvaccinated and are literally killing us and making our kids very vulnerable to this virus.

REID: And it's not just him. I mean, you currently serve, Congressman, with Lauren Boebert of Colorado who has made joking videos with gunshot sounds about the speaker of the House, who's on this list, along with Cawthorn of lawmakers at the select committee want their telephone records, to find out what involvement they had with January 6th. You have Marjorie Greene, who travels around with January 6th insurrectionists. You have Jim Jordan, who we come to find out new more and more and more talked to Donald Trump multiple times. We don't know what he said. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Mo Brooks who are named by Ali Alexander as co-conspirators, Madison Cawthorn, who, apparently, when his punching trees, is threatening a brown shirt attack on the Capitol where he works. Louie Gohmert, Jody Hice, Scott Perry, Matt Gaetz, go on and on, Madison Gaetz -- Mr. Gaetz is not essentially somebody who can have your teenage daughters around and feel completely safe. You're serving with all of those people.

And I have to ask you, do you feel safe around them? Some of them are known gun owners and keep trying to bring their guns into the Capitol.

SWALWELL: Well, thank God for the Capitol Police heroes that they continue to dishonor, but I do believe that they are capable of inciting and aiming another mob at the Capitol. And if they're not condemned by their own leadership, they are only further emboldened. And so I think we have to continue to speak out against it, to call it out. And, frankly, reiterate that we are a nation of law and order. And if we don't have law and order, we don't have anything as a country. And when a representative is calling for violence against members of Congress, we are very close to losing everything.

REID: Clint, the last time that we had members of the United States Congress essentially threaten the lives of fellow Americans, it was the 1860s and we wound up in a civil war, in which Americans took up arms against Americans in order to keep owning people, right? You had pro slavery senators and others inciting to violence. We have that situation again.

It is now clear, I think, to me, and I wonder if it is to you as somebody with a law enforcement background, that the insurrectionists are not just the yahoos who went after the Capitol and the Proud Boys and the extremists, and members of 3 Percenters and other groups, that it's members of Congress. This is almost Al Qaeda-like. I have never seen anything like this. Have you?

CLINT WATTS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Joy, this is the remarkable thing, as we talk about the end of the war in Afghanistan 20 years ago, what we were looking at was incitement to violence and the justification was always, you have to defend.


It's defensive, right, that we have to defend against the Americans.

Listen to the language of Madison Cawthorn and some of these other congressmen and what they are saying. They talk about, we have to defend, we have to defend, we have to fight back. Well, guess what, someone will. We saw this on January 6th. And what tends to happen is when they storm these places, guess who's running for cover and guess who's looking for law enforcement to help them? It's the Capitol police that then have to protect them. And what, ultimately, ends up happening when these lies are revealed, guess who becomes the target of this incitement? It's often those that are speaking the lies.

Madison Cawthorn, some of these guys that are doing all of this incitement to violence, they will ultimately fall victim to it if they continue to push these lies over and over again. And it also creates a response. It's a parallel response. For every incitement that they push, there's an opposite party that feels like they need to push back.

That competing rhetoric, that movement to violence of many different polls results in a very dangerous system in our country. And you saw it right there in that interview, Joy, when you saw it. He asked, when do you want me to go, so many in the crowd, when are we going back. They're asking for instructions, when they're asking for instructions like that, they already have the intent. They're just waiting for a time and a place to be pointed.

REID: To amplify your point, I mean, because you get to a point where you lose control of the mob, right? You have in Texas, they went ahead and passed their voter suppression law. They have gone ahead and driven that through. But what happens if they pass the most onerous voter suppression they can think of, and somehow voters of color manage to jump through all the hoops and they still lose? How dangerous does their base become when they have essentially been promised they will now always win elections, that the majority white Republican Party will always get their way and minority voters will not be allowed to stop them from getting their way? And then what if they don't get their way? How dangerous do these people become?

WATTS: Well, we have seen this, Joy. What do people tend to believe, that what they hear first, the most from Trump, what they believe to be a trusted source, and now which doesn't have a rebuttal. That is this echo chamber that they're in, that they're inciting violence, these congressmen are inciting violence, they keep telling the same thing over and over to people and they believe what they want to believe and they believe those individuals up until the point where you have Senator Ron Johnson on there, right? Behind the scenes, he knows what it is, it's nothing more than a fundraising activity, trying to keep people excited at a time when the party doesn't have much to say and they don't have anything to advance.

The problem with that is these people are looking for blood. What they want is incitement to violence, what they want to do is pursue violence, and we have seen it pursue Vice President Pence, Nancy Pelosi, all the key leaders of our government are being targeted over time.

Eventually, there will be something bad happen, and this is no different, no different at all from what we saw in the international terrorism days when we had clerics like Osama bin Laden or Anwar al-Awlaki, who would claim, I'm just saying that people ought to think about doing violence, I'm not saying or telling them exactly what to go do. We know where that ended. A very similar phenomenon happened on January 6 and it will happen again unless the Republican Party pushes it down for all of these folks that are inciting violence.

REID: Now, indeed. Congressman, you know, this is beyond Trump now, right? This is beyond him. This movement inside of the Republican Party has whipped up multiple avenues of extremism, whether it's critical race theory, whether it's anti-maskism, whether it's demanding that they always win whatever elections that a Republican is running in. They have put that all together in a really dangerous stew, and there's a huge Venn diagram because it's all the same base.

And so I wonder how concerned you are as a member of Congress, and what -- you know, what can Congress do about the fact that we now have a genuine national security threat being posed by the other major political party in the United States, and its leader, from your home state, Kevin McCarthy, is unwilling to do anything to stop it. What do we do about that?

SWALWELL: We have to organize, mobilize and overcome every barrier at the ballot box next November, Joy, because democracy nearly died on January 6th. I was there and that was the overwhelming feeling that I and others had on the floor.

The chaplain of the House literally read an unsolicited prayer as we were ducking for cover, which was not just a last rites of sorts for the souls in the chamber but the soul of democracy. It's on life support today. And right now I put people in America in one of two camps, not Republicans or Democrats, but you are either in the camp that wants to pull the plug on democracy and go towards fascism, as Cawthorn and others telegraph, or you are working every day to resurrect it.


And that's what you can do now is get your neighbors, your friends, your family registered, recognize this is the issue at the ballot box.

REID: You're absolutely right. That's where we are. I think you've said it accurately. Congressman Eric Swalwell, Clint Watts, thank you very much. Scaring is caring.

Up next on THE REIDOUT.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I refused to continue the war that was no longer in service of the vital national interest of our people.


REID: A defiant President Biden on the end of 20 years of war, as America wakes up to the reality that we cannot remake the entire world in our image, nor at this moment we want to.

Plus, the violent outbursts from unhinged people who are driving school board members to quit their jobs, and why it's not the organic grassroots uprising they would like you believe.

And tonight's absolute worst genuflects to his orange master, to try and get a job he's never going to get, and now he wants to lecture President Biden about not leaving anybody behind, what he did, many, many times.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: Today marked the first day in 7, 268 days that our country is no longer fighting a war in Afghanistan.

In a defiant tone today, President Biden said that he refused to continue a war that was no longer in the service of the vital national interests of our country.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After 20 years of war in Afghanistan, I refused to send another generation of America's sons and daughters to fight a war that should have ended long ago.

So, when I hear that we could've, should've continued the so-called low- grade effort in Afghanistan, at low risk to our service members, at low cost, I don't think enough people understand how much we have asked of the 1 percent of this country who put that uniform on.

There's nothing low-grade or low-risk or low-cost about any war. It's time to end the war in Afghanistan.


REID: And while the last American troops have left the country, the State Department says 100 to 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan, including dual nationals and people with family ties.

Also still in country, some of the Afghans who aided our efforts over the past two decades and who still might wish to leave. The president reiterated his commitment to get any and every American out who wants to leave, and his expectations that the Taliban will not only not stand in the way, but permit freedom of travel for Afghans as well.

With Afghanistan again under Taliban control, "The New York Times" writes: "It's up to the Taliban now to decide whether they will perpetuate the cycle of vengeance, as they did upon seizing power from a group of feuding warlords in 1996, or will truly embrace the new path that their leaders have promised in recent days," one of acceptance and reconciliation.

With me now is Matthew Dowd, founder of Country Over Party, and Lucas Kunce, a former U.S. Marine officer who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a candidate for U.S. Senate from Missouri.

And I want to start with you, Mr. Kunce.

Thank you for your service.

And I am fascinated to get your take on the end of this war, as somebody who fought in it.


So, I have been talking to a lot of my friends, people who were over there with me. I was in Afghanistan 2012-'13 and again in 2014. And, like, right now, most of us are just feeling this sense of sort of grim relief, just relieved that not another service member is going to come home mangled or dead.

And so I would say, though, that that is paired with like this very deep frustration that the same people who kept us there for 20 years, the people who day after day were like, oh, just one more day, just one more month, just one more dollar, just one more Marine, like, those people who claimed to the American people that we were building something worthwhile there that obviously then collapsed in two weeks, those people are controlling the narrative still.

And so they're all over the news. They're trying to get everyone to look at the last two weeks. They say, look at these last two weeks, because they don't want us paying attention to the 20-year failure and the investment of 2, 500 U.S. service member lives, $2.3 trillion and 20 years that they ultimately failed on.

And so I just want to make sure. Like, I'm worried that we're going to lose that fight and we're going to lose that narrative. And I want to make sure that we keep it very clear.

REID: I'm with you on that.


REID: Matthew, it has been remarkable to me to see what a great investment some people have in war.

And I think part of it is a financial investment. There is a military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about. War is very lucrative. But it's very expensive for the people like Mr. Kunce, who have to fight it. It's very expensive for the 1 percent who have to worry that their son or daughter is not going to come home alive, because, as President Biden said, there's no such thing as a low-grade, low-risk way to stay in a country that ain't yours, and stay there with people who -- in a culture that ain't yours.

What do you make of the people in the sort of military industrial complex world and in the commentariat who are big mad that this war is over?

MATTHEW DOWD, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Well, I had a son who did two tours in Iraq and who had tons of buddies who he was in boot camp with that went to Afghanistan and the DLI that went to Afghanistan.

And they all came to the same exact conclusion that Lucas did, which is, this is -- been fraught with peril for many years. We needed to end it with. They saw no reason to continue it.

But, I mean, Lucas is exactly right. There is a group of people, mainly based in Washington, D.C., that continue to think every foreign policy response should be a military response. Every foreign policy -- like, like you can't solve a problem without a gun and a plane. You can't solve a problem without a gun and a plane in this.


And it's not only the sacrifice of the people like Lucas and the family members and fathers and mothers who had -- were nervous as heck while their sons and daughters were over there. It's the sacrifice of trillions of dollars that Americans made in this effort that could have been spent on health care...

REID: Yes.

DOWD: ... that could have been spent on infrastructure, that could have been spent on conducting examination of terrorism in the United States of America, because the greatest threat isn't coming from something in Afghanistan.

The greatest threat to our democracy and terrorism is coming from right here in the United States of America. And that, to me, it's not only the sacrifice of the men and women that the sort of military industrial complex continues to push, but it's the expenditure of money that cannot now be spent on the things that Americans need.

And that is a growing frustration that I think we ought to have a full- scale examination, reexamination of how we conduct the military and war as it exists today, because, to me, there is not many just-cause wars anymore in the world today because of how they're fought.

And that's what it needs to be conducted, is $1 spent in Afghanistan means there's not $1 spent in Houston, Texas, for somebody's health care.

REID: Yes, you're absolutely right.

And, I mean, we're -- I think President Biden said something like $300 million a day. And we're still complaining we don't have enough money to do proper child care, we don't have enough money to do universal health care, we don't have enough money. We keep claiming we don't have enough money to take care of people here and do what we need to do for Americans.

But we're saying we have plenty of money for wars.

I have to ask you, because you're running for office, I don't love playing Kevin McCarthy, but I'm going to play him, because what -- the other thing that is infuriating to me is the way that some people immediately turn this into politics.

This is -- as somebody that also has family and loved ones who served, it's not supposed to be political, but it's become instantly just political and useful for only that. Here is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. And he was asked whether he's supported having Afghan allies come here, because he's been very much, don't leave anyone behind.

Here he is whether he thinks ask Afghan allies should come here.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Knowing that they said they took more than 120,000 lifts, with only 5, 600 being American, I think we should look through and screen before people come to America. We have got to make sure what's in there.

QUESTION: After the screening is done, are you OK with them staying here in the United States?

MCCARTHY: After we get the screening, it's a whole different question.


REID: I mean, look, the people were taking out of there literally were our translators and helped us.

What do you make of Kevin McCarthy's answer?

KUNCE: I would say that, when I look back at Iraq -- so I went to Iraq as well -- and Afghanistan with the interpreters who helped us there, I got taught Pashto at Marine Special Operations Command, and I still leaned on these guys to get us through every day.

I know -- I can remember a specific instance where my interpreter in Iraq probably saved my life. And I know that happened for many, many people in Afghanistan. And so these people, they put their lives on the line for us. And we should try to take care of them. They're great. They went out unarmed to help protect Americans.

And so, for me, I think this really just comes down to a much baser situation. And that's -- what we learned in Afghanistan, if you're going to pull any lesson out of it, it's, don't lie, right? We have this deep, systematic institutional dishonesty that tried to sell the American people on the fact that the so-called investment there was worth it.

This is the same sort of institutional dishonesty just that keeps us divided on race, religion, whatever else, rather than stronger together. And we have that, because -- and we're going to have that until we fundamentally change who has power in our country.

And that's why I'm running for office.

REID: Amen. We need more people like you in office.

I'm going to give you a very quick last word, Matthew. The idea that -- you can't have both thoughts at the same time, we should have kept the word going, and Biden was wrong for doing that, but, oh, don't bring those people here. How are Republicans managing to do that?

DOWD: Well, I just want to say one thing to reiterate, the greatest threat to our democracy and the greatest threat to the planet is lies.

That's the greatest threat. It's the greatest threat to our public health system. It's the greatest threat to our democracy. It's the greatest threat to everything. Everything is tied together by, if we're unwilling to tell the American public the truth and we don't have leaders with integrity, then we don't have a fundamental democracy that's functional.

REID: Amen.

DOWD: And if we don't have a democracy, the world suffers.

REID: Amen. Amen.

Matthew Dowd, Lucas Kunce, good luck. I hope that you win. We need more men with integrity, people with integrity like you in our Congress.

Up next: We learned today that some Louisianians could be without power -- get this -- for an entire month. It raises the question, is our infrastructure strong enough to withstand extreme weather?

And Congresswoman Val Demings joins me on what's happening in her state, Florida, where the governor, Ron DeSantis, is cooking the books on COVID, while punishing the schools trying to protect the children.


We will be right back.


REID: Search-and-rescue missions continue in Louisiana, as the state begins the process of recovering from Hurricane Ida, with the challenge of reaching communities with flooded roads and downed power lines.

Two people have died as a result of the storm in Louisiana, but that number will likely rise. Two people also died last night in Mississippi after a highway collapsed due to extreme rainfall.

More than a million people in Louisiana are without power, unable to turn on a fan or the air conditioning, with temperatures that feel like 105 degrees today. The governor said some could be without power for 30 days.

And he pleaded with those who evacuated to not return just yet.


GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): If you have already evacuated, do not return here or elsewhere in Southeast Louisiana until the Office of Emergency Preparedness tells you it is ready to receive you.

The schools are not open. The businesses are not open. The hospitals are slammed. There's not water in your home and there's not going to be electricity.


REID: Much of New Orleans is without power because a major transition tower crumbled during the storm.

According to "The New York Times," when the utility company opened a new natural gas power plant last year, it pledged that it would keep the lights on even during big storms.


It's yet another instance of our infrastructure failing during extreme weather, which we're going to see more and more of due to the climate crisis.

Joining me now is White House senior adviser and director of public engagement Cedric Richmond. As a former Louisiana congressman, he's been the liaison between the White House and local officials in the state during this crisis.

Mr. Richmond, thank you so much for being here.

I want to start by asking how folks are doing, as you're speaking with leaders and family members and friends in New Orleans today.

CEDRIC RICHMOND, SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, the people in Louisiana, especially the people in South Louisiana, are very resilient.

And the other thing they do is, during storms and disasters, we come together, we lift people up, we help our neighbors, and we do whatever it takes to survive and get through it. So you see that now with people, whether they evacuated to the houses of loved ones or hotels or whether they stayed behind.

They are contacting each other, reaching out to each other. And we're going to do everything we can to support them, from helping with communications, to making sure that we're pressuring and pushing the utility companies to get electricity back up and going.

We're leading on search-and-rescue. So there's a number of things we're doing because we're very intentional about it. This is not our first experience with this. And we're doing it with a clear mission in mind. And that is to help the people of Louisiana and those in Mississippi that were in harm's way.

REID: It is not surprising, I think, but I think we see, when these disasters happen, as we saw with Katrina, that it is communities of color who suffered disproportionately.

Communities of color are where the energy plant is located near. I know there's a big story with this Entergy plant where there were some city council members who didn't want it there because they said, hey, look, we should build something more sustainable, something with solar, something that maybe could withstand extreme weather. That was apparently not done.

And so you do have community groups and city leaders who are against these gas-fired plants. I know oil and gas is the business of Louisiana. But are we thinking creatively enough about protecting these communities, if all we're doing in states like Louisiana and Mississippi is going right back to oil and gas plants, and then disasters happen?

RICHMOND: Well, the other thing we're doing right now is to make sure we can get the nuclear plant back online, so that we can provide electricity to New Orleans.

And Entergy Corporation has taken the lead on that. The president today convened a call with the CEO of Entergy, Leo Denault, to get an assessment of where they are, see what else we can provide as a federal government to help them get these plants, the transmission lines back online, so people can have electricity.

And this is part of the reason why we're pushing so hard to invest in the crumbling infrastructure in this country, because we know that we need to do it. We need to put money into resilience in this country, because things like this, they are preventable.

If you look at the city of New Orleans, the $14 billion flood protection, risk reduction system that was built in New Orleans, it held and it protected us from water damage.

So, we have to make sure that we're investing in every community.

REID: Well, is the investment enough? I mean, a trillion dollars, there are some analysts who are saying that's a drop in the bucket.

And there is this big infrastructure bill, a trillion dollars. It is said that that is not going to be enough to change the reality for people in Louisiana and Mississippi. And is it smart to use that money to rebuild Entergy's nuclear plants, rather than invest in things that will try to reverse the climate crisis?

Shouldn't we be investing, even in states like Louisiana, in solar, in wind, in new types of energy? Are we doing this the right way?

RICHMOND: Well, one, we're not spending any money to reopen Entergy's nuclear plant. Entergy is doing that.

The second thing I would say on the trillion dollars on infrastructure investment, that it's a trillion dollars more than any other president has spent, and it's going to fuel investment in clean energy, like electric vehicle charging stations, like electric buses around the country, so that we could tackle climate.

And then, if you look at the human infrastructure bill, the budget reconciliation, that's going to invest in more green energy and climate investments, so that we can continue to move towards a more -- a greener economy, but also a greener planet.

REID: Well, that would be very, very good news.

Cedric Richmond, thank very much. Really appreciate you being here. God bless New Orleans.

RICHMOND: Thanks for having me.

REID: Thank you -- and Louisiana, as a whole.

Still ahead: the growing number of hostile audiences at school board meetings over mask mandates and vaccine requirements prompting school board members to up and quit. But who's fueling these unhinged meetings?

We're back after this.



REID: North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn's dangerous rhetoric about possible future bloodshed reminds us all that incitement to violence has become a central dynamic in today's Republican Party.

For many of them, it's just theater, their own little "Game of Thrones," trying to grab power by playing on the paranoia of the marks in their party base, but for those on the receiving end of these threats, it's not a game at all. A growing number of increasingly unhinged people who I won't even dignify by calling them activists have fed all of this poison and are targeting school boards and health care professionals, and sometimes even children.

Yesterday in Lee County, Florida, a fight broke out over a new mask mandate in an interview with the Fort Myers, NBC affiliate. Eerie echoes of the January 6th insurrection. Some are threatening to go even further.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have authority in Christ Jesus. These are demonic entities, and all the school boards of all the United States of America, and all of us Christians will be sticking together to take them all out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forget going into these school boards who are bringing data, you go into school boards to remove them. That's what you do.

They don't follow the law. They don't follow the law. You go in and you remove them.

I'm going in with 20 strong men. I'm going to speak in front of the school board, and I'm going to give them an option, they can leave or they can be removed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Civil war is coming, people, get your guns. This is where they live. Find out who lives closer to you. Draw, write up a letter, go to their door, knock, leave it.

Make noise, make them feel unsafe in their homes because tyranny has never been voted out of office.


REID: Many of these school board meetings have been abruptly cancelled because of these outbursts. These folks would like you to believe there is an organic movement on behalf of the majority of Americans.

These Astroturf protests have been primed by right wing think tanks, including the Proud Boys, even people who don't have kids in the school. And a new Ipsos/Axios poll shows that while these twisted ravings get tons of coverage, the loudest voices do not equal majorities. Nearly 7 in 10 Americans support their local school districts requiring teachers, students and administrators to wear masks in schools, so kids don't get sick and wind up in the hospital or dead or infect their parents.

Joining me now is Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida. She was an impeachment manager during the first Trump impeachment, and is a candidate for United States Senate.

And thank God you're also former law enforcement.

I have to ask you, I want to put up a list of schools that have mask mandates in defiance of the governor, including my former county where my kids went to school, Broward County. I even saw footage of someone in Broward County, which is like a very blue county, shove a kid, shove a student, just because she had a mask on.

How are these people not being arrested?

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Well, Joy, it's great to be back with you, and I tell you what, every day it seems like we take it to a new level. I have to say this, I have seen -- we've all heard the stories of elementary school- aged children who were shot and killed in their classroom, and high school students right here in Florida gunned down in their classroom, and I was pretty outraged about that. But what I have watched over the last few days has just been outrageous.

And you're absolutely correct, I've seen several what I certainly would consider as a 27 year law enforcement officer, violations of law. Look, we have, my husband and I, we have four grandchildren who go to public school in Florida. Every day, we entrust their health, safety, and well being into the hands of the school administrators, the principals, the teachers and others who are on that campus to take care of them.

And we would all be better served if we would continue to leave the health, safety and well-being of our children into the hands of the people who protect them and look after them every day.

REID: You know, and my kids played soccer in school. They were required to wear shin guards, they couldn't come without the shin guards, they couldn't play. Mandates have always been a part of school all over the country, including in Florida.

Right now, Florida's kids, 6 percent of the U.S. population, but Florida has accounted for 20 percent of the country's pediatric, 20 percent, 1/5 of the pediatric coronavirus hospital admissions since July.

Taylor County, which is southeast of Tallahassee, you'll know Taylor County, they have closed their schools because of COVID outbreaks, and the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, despite the court ruling against him, is withholding the pay of school boards in Broward County.

Your thoughts?

DEMINGS: Again, we put the health, safety and wellbeing, we trust the school administrators, and others who deal with our children every day, we put the safety of our children in their hands every day, and why would you treat Taylor County the same way you might treat Miami-Dade or Orange or Broward County? Those decisions are best left into the hands of those local first responders and other officials who respond to those calls every day.

I heard someone say when a person deals 911, Tallahassee is not responding. The local first responders, local police, local fire department, they are going to be the ones who respond, and that's who the people want to respond to handle their issues.

We have allowed this to become yet another pointless political battle. The numbers in Florida as the whole nation knows are out of control, and what we need to do is practice whatever safety measures we have to get this virus under control, including getting everybody, as many people as we can, vaccinated.

REID: You're running for United States Senate. Your opponent Marco Rubio happens to be in Iowa. Apparently, that's where he thinks it's important for him to be, to start thinking about I guess he future bids, what he wants to do politically.

But, meanwhile, he likes to talk tough about international terrorism, but there's a group incredibly dangerous you and I both know a lot about because they operate a lot in Miami called the Proud Boys. And Enrique Tarrio, who is the leader of the Proud Boys, is now getting involved in his anti-mask activities. He just got convicted of a crime in Washington, D.C. for ripping down Black Lives Matter signs from a church and having a gun and magazines he wasn't supposed to have.

What do you make of the fact this so-called grass roots movement now has the Proud Boys who are dangerous showing up at school boards and threatening people?

DEMINGS: Well, I think people who perpetrate violence will seize any opportunity that they can, and I'm glad you mentioned that Florida's senior senator is in Iowa with I guess what he thinks or hopes will be another presidential campaign as opposed to being here in Florida dealing with these issues that we are talking about right now.

But I think that's something we've seen before, Joy, whenever the going gets tough, whenever the battle gets a bit harder, it appears Marco Rubio wants to be in anyplace other than here in Florida dealing with people like the Proud Boys and dealing with the delta variant being out of control, dealing with the headline that Florida is seeing more cases than any other state in the nation.

And you've said it. I mean, that's why I am running for the U.S. Senate. If you're looking for real leadership and Florida needs it, please visit my website,

REID: I want to mention the other person supposedly a leader in the state, Ron DeSantis. It appears he's not been quite honest about the number, particularly in pediatric cases, that he's sort of created this artificial decline in the number of cases to make himself look good because he also thinks he's going to be president of the United States.

Do you believe there needs to be a federal investigation of what this governor is doing when it comes to whether he's been honest about the numbers and the fact he's pushing Regeneron despite the fact that his biggest donor is an investor in it?

DEMINGS: The health, safety and well-being of the people that the governor and the people of the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives, state and local official, the health and safety of the well-being of the people that we represent is supposed to be our number one concern. We know that the delta virus is raging out of control. And those numbers are critically important.

But it's interesting that the numbers, the way the numbers are tallied changes to include the date of death. You know, it's kind of like let's just get these out of the way, let's report these numbers as opposed to waiting until the death certificates are completed that tell a more complete story. And, Joy, if there are any cooking of the books, if you will, to show an artificial decline then certainly everybody counts what everybody accountable.

REID: Yes.

DEMINGS: Those who are involved in that should be held accountable.

REID: Congresswoman Val Demings, thank you very much. Always appreciate you being here.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, the stunning hypocrisy of tonight's absolute worst, telling President Biden to leave nobody behind in Afghanistan after he himself has left so many behind over years. You do not want to miss this one.

Stay with us.



REID: So here's the thing about Kevin -- Kevin McCarthy. He's kind of like a box of spoiled chocolates. You never know which Kevin you're going to get. Because sometimes it's puppet Kevin, completely controlled and owned by the dear leader and who took a dip in the MAGA gutter, swam downstream and never looked back.

Then there's flip-flopped Kevin who's currently obsessed with attacking the Biden administration's handling of Afghanistan despite Trump's calling to pull out the troops and who tweeted last night, leave nobody behind. Leave nobody behind, really?

Because Kevin hasn't really stuck to that motto. Per "The New York Times," the House Minority leader abandoned fellow Republican Bruce Westerman during the January 6th insurrection, fleeing with his security detail as insurrectionists were breaking in forcing Westerman to barricade himself in McCarthy's bathroom, wielding a civil war sword as the MAGA mob searched for his head.

Fast forward to last night when hypocrite Kevin requested a moment of silence for the fallen service members in Afghanistan, politicizing it, of course. And yet he stone walls an investigation into a rampage that ended with a fallen police officer along with dead civilians in his own nation's Capitol.

But leave nobody behind, right, Kevin? Uh-huh, okay.

What about his constituents in California struggling to stay afloat and who benefit greatly from unemployment money and the child tax credit and stimulus pushed through by Democrats and the Biden administration? Well, hypocrite Kevin calls President Biden's spending bills socialism saying they will pass over his dead body, even though his brother-in-law scored more than $7 million in no bid and federal contracts based on a dubious claim of Cherokee identity.

And speaking of your constituents, Kevin, they are sick with COVID, quarantined, and dying. And horse dewormer sales in your county are exploding, and yet as you say -- leave nobody behind.

Puppet Kevin, hypocrite Kevin or maybe it's balloon man Kevin because he has no spine -- you never know which Kevin you're going to get. But he performs fake Republican outrage over Afghan people while his very own constituents poison themselves with animal meds, he's emerged as the weezliest worm in Congress, a horse dewormer of a minority leader, who wants so badly to be a speaker, as he need to be able -- as if he don't need to be able to stand up right up to hold on to that gavel.

And that is why tonight, little Kevin worm, Kevin the worm McCarthy, he's the absolute worst, just the worst and the wormiest.

And that's tonight's REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" -- well, that starts now.