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Transcript: The ReidOut, 8/4/21

Guests: Daniel Alonso, Zerlina Maxwell, Deanna Paul, Jim Hendren, Vin Gupta, Dan Gelber


There are new details on Trump pressuring DOJ about election. Trump loyalist reportedly pressured DOJ to interfere in Georgia election. DOJ officials were reportedly prepared to resign over Trump`s election request. Fact-checkers refute rumor about D.C. Officer Fanone. Pressure grows for New York Governor Cuomo to resign. Cuomo accuser Charlotte Bennett says it`s disturbing that he can`t accept the fact of the investigation. As the pandemic of the unvaccinated spirals out of control in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis continues to prioritize doing nothing, even after President Biden slammed him for banning mask requirements in schools, saying get out of the way of people doing the right thing. DeSantis went into full deflection mode today in a four and a half minute tirade against the president.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Go to @arimelber on Twitter or Instagram or you can visit me, and tell us what song should we remix to that moment. What song was playing in Chuck Schumer`s mind when he took the mic right out of Mitch McConnell`s hands? Tell us and we might even do updates to this story.

That`s it for THE BEAT. "THE REIDOUT" starts now. Jonathan Capehart is in for Joy. Hi, Jonathan.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC HOST: Wow, Ari, I`ve got nothing. Look, that`s pretty good. You know you were talking to Nicolle a little while ago about she showed you her mommy mug while I have a martini glass just under the desk. But you know this is family hour so I can`t show it to you. I just want to put that out there. Thanks very much Ari.

MELBER: Good idea, sir.

CAPEHART: All right, good evening, everyone. I`m Jonathan Capehart in for Joy Reid.

We begin with THE REIDOUT tonight with the shocking new examples of how this country narrowly escaped a coup at the hands of its former president. Last week, we learned that Trump pressured his acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, and Rosen`s deputy, to simply declare with no evidence that the entire 2020 election was, quote, corrupt. Thankfully, they refused, even though Trump had threatened their jobs.

Now, Politico is reporting that Rosen`s deputy and another DOJ official were prepared to resign effective immediately if Trump had, in fact, fired Rosen, as was feared. Most stunning, however, is that the resignation letter that they prepared accuses Trump of trying to, quote, utilize the Department of Justice`s law enforcement powers for improper ends.

But wait, there`s more. Another damning story reveals that Acting Attorney General Rosen also faced pressure from inside the Department of Justice. ABC News reports that in late December, Trump loyalist Jeffrey Clark, who then served as the acting head of the DOJ`s Civil Division, pushed Rosen to intervene in the certification of Georgia`s electoral votes. Clark drafted a letter for Rosen and his deputy that urged Georgia officials to, quote, investigate and perhaps overturn President Joe Biden`s victory in the state.

But Rosen`s deputy, Richard Donoghue, rebuffed Clark, saying, quote, there is no chance that I would sign this letter or anything remotely like this. Adding, quote, I cannot imagine a scenario in which already-certified election results should somehow be overridden by legislative action.

Both stories show that American democracy itself was hanging by a thread in the closing days of the last administration and that it was only a few government officials who held it together. The threat that this country faced and continues to face from Trump`s big lie was underscored today in a criminal hearing for one of the January 6th defendants.

The judge in the case, excuse me, of Karl Dresch said today, quote, the defendant came to the Capitol because he placed his trust in someone who repaid that trust by lying to him. She told Dresch that your vote doesn`t count any more than anyone else`s. You don`t get to cancel them out. Patriotism means loyalty to country, not to a single head of state.

And joining me now, Michael Steele, former Chairman of the RNC, and Daniel Alonzo, former Federal Prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York and former Chief Assistant in the Manhattan District Attorney`s Office. Gentlemen, thank you both very much for coming to THE REIDOUT.

I just need to get each of you to react to the new stories that we have out there. Chairman Steele, I will start with you. The idea that you would have a DOJ official draft a letter for the attorney general and the deputy attorney general to Georgia officials saying, hey, you know, we`re going to look into this to maybe override the voice of the people in Georgia.

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Why not? This was just part of the grand orchestration by Donald Trump trying to manipulate the various parts inside and outside of his administration to move the needle away from the decision that had been clearly made by the American people. So it`s not surprising. And I believe that there will be more revelations as more documents are exposed and we get even further, deeper sense of just how corrupt the intent and the actions were around this election.

Here`s the part that is -- a two-part for me that`s stunning. One is that they thought they could get away with it. They actually believed that Rosen and others inside the administration, inside the Justice Department would actually do these things, that people would actually commit themselves to the furtherance of this crime.

The second part I think is also important to notice, just how much are the American people fully understanding and appreciating what this meant then and what it means now as we see what happens, what`s happening around the country in the various states, Jonathan, that are looking to lay the pipe, to lay the ground for what will come in `22 and `24.


This is not just about the presidential election in `24. This is about complete control of government at the legislative as well as the executive level.

CAPEHART: And, Daniel, I`d love to get your reaction too, but also as a former federal prosecutor, how offensive is it to you that there`s someone inside the Department of Justice who was willing to put pen to paper and try to get the deputy acting attorney general to sign off on something as offensive to my mind, as offensive to American democracy?

DANIEL R. ALONSO, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, Jonathan, I`m not prone to hyperbole, but this is truly some insane stuff. How offensive? This is an 11 on the scale of 1 to 10, right?

But what it really does here, is I actually like how it underscores the difference between, you know, officials, I`ll put it in quotes, like Mr. Clark, on the one hand, people that are of the sort of Trump view of how you can use the Justice Department to further your own political goals, which is outrageously wrong, shouldn`t be done and as you said offensive. And then on the other side, you`ve got people like Richard Donoghue, who was my former colleague from the Eastern District of New York. I -- everything that he`s been reported to have said sounds exactly right and consistent with our training.

To say there`s no chance I`m signing this stuff, guys. It was a ridiculous draft email to these Georgia officials. And the fact that Clark said apparently the report said in the cover email, he said I see no reason not to sign this, or words to that effect. Well, geez, there are a lot of reasons not to sign it, not the least of which you`re talking about ongoing investigations that are shown basically the opposite. Nothing has changed since Barr made his statement, and Donoghue is a professional and so is Rosen. And they said together, we`re not doing it. I mean I think that shows them in a very good light but it contrasts what Trump was trying to do.

CAPEHART: Donoghue is a professional, Rosen is a professional. Who is this Jeffrey Clark character? Who is he?

ALONSO: Well, he was unknown to me before all this, so I can`t tell you. But he was in charge of the environmental and natural resources division, a political appointee. That doesn`t mean that`s not a good or a bad thing, it just is. But he was a Trump appointee and he was willing to do this. It was really purely partisan.

And let`s even give him the benefit of the doubt. Even if it wasn`t partisan, it was insanely incompetent, right? I mean, what Justice Department`s attorney general would do that? So you know this stuff is just crazy.

CAPEHART: Right. And, you know, as you were talking about the professionalism of Donoghue and Rosen, I`m sitting here and I`m thinking in 2020, what they went through was sort of a stress test of the system. Maybe this is really getting at what Michael Steele was saying out before. How concerned should we be that DOJ and the American democratic, small D, democratic apparatus won`t be able to withstand another incredible shock to the system in `22 or `24, no matter who is sitting at DOJ, given the craziness that we`ve seen?

ALONSO: Listen, I suppose anything is possible, but there are -- there are norms that we`ve heard about over the last few years. There is a culture in the Justice Department. You know, as long as people are still there who grew up in that culture where people like Donoghue, like Rosen, like others that I`ve been privileged to work with over the years, we`re going to be okay.

The problem starts when the next president decides not to put in anyone like that in charge. You know, it was already controversial when Trump put in the top three Justice Department officials who had never prosecuted a case in court in their life, but at least they had worked in the Justice Department before, they understood the culture. You know, once you start putting in people who are purely loyalists, that starts to be a problem.

So if I were in the department today, you know, perhaps I`d be urging them to try to codify some norms to have them last into the future beyond administrations.

CAPEHART: Chairman Steele, if you have thoughts on the stress test issue, I would love to hear them.

STEELE: Well, I do.

CAPEHART: Otherwise I`m going to ask you about some other tomfoolery. Go ahead.

STEELE: Yes, you can ask me about the tomfoolery but I do want to make a point that really dovetails what Daniel was just saying about the stress test. The stress test will only work to the extent that the affirming and confirming authorities, the Senate, actually steps in at the appropriate time and goes wait a minute, and time-out.


This person isn`t qualified for the job. This is pure hackery in terms of the political appointment that you are putting forward.

That used to be a part of the checks and balance in the system where the Senate did its due diligence and carried out its oversight of this process. When that falls, when they are just abject loyalists or sitting in fear of the executive authority, that`s where you`re going to have a greater problem going forward.

So, to Daniel`s point, these stress tests are there for a reason. They need to be augmented and emphasized, and you need to have the bodies that are charged to do what they`re constitutionally required to do to make sure nothing like this happens again.

CAPEHART: So, you know, when I woke up this morning, the first thing I do is put on some coffee and get some yogurt and put on the Twitter machine just to catch up on what was going on. And there was something off to the right under trends that just blew my mind, and it was a fact check.

Fact checkers are working overtime to rebut the new claims from right-wing conspiracy theorists that D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone was the one who was carrying the confederate flag. I mean, Michael Steele, the big lie, this crazy conspiracy theory, what -- okay, what has happened to your party and why are they bananas? I mean this is -- not bananas, I`m being too nice. This is -- okay, now I almost cursed. This is crazy.

STEELE: Yes. This is stupid This is just stupid. And this is really where you get to the point where I can just say and throw out any kind of crap I want to throw out and someone is actually going to follow-up and do a fact check on that.

We need to -- we need to collectively get ourselves together too and stop being overwhelmed by the sensationalism of stupid. Stop being overwhelmed by the sensationalism of those who are just sensationalizing because they know they`ll get a rise out of you. That should be summarily dismissed and we move on.

This -- going forward, this is the play. I`m going to say something crazy and a couple of things are going to happen. I`m going to raise $3 million, right, if you`re Marjorie Taylor Numbnut Crazy Greene, right, or I`m going to get the mainstream media to go out here and just run and chase their circle -- chase themselves in circles trying to prove or disprove something.

We need to stay focused on what the target is. The target is the ballot box. The target and the tools to achieve that target is redistricting, et cetera. So, stay focused on the prize and the prize is securing the ballot box in `22 and beyond. And let crazy do crazy, sit back with some popcorn on occasion, watch it and smile and maybe get a good laugh, but do not engage.

CAPEHART: And with that, I`m going to leave it there. Michael Steele, Daniel R. Alonso, thank you both very much for coming to THE REIDOUT.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, Andrew Cuomo`s tenuous grip on the New York governorship. He`s facing growing calls to resign and now multiple criminal inquiries.

Plus, the stark contrast in how America`s governors are handling the pandemic. Confronted with vaccine protesters today, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, he wasn`t having it.


GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): These folks back there have lost their mind -- you`ve lost your minds. You are the ultimate knuckleheads and because of what you said or saying and standing for, people are losing their life.


CAPEHART: And as Arkansas is being overrun with COVID cases, Governor Asa Hutchinson has admitted he`s gotten at least one thing wrong about COVID, which is more than you can say for Florida`s Ron DeSantis.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



CAPEHART: The walls are closing in on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo with an overwhelming number of New York lawmakers calling on him to resign after a report issued by New York`s attorney general alleged that he sexually harassed 11 women. The calls include a majority of the state assembly, the entire New York congressional delegation, and the Democratic governors of four neighboring states.

Even his allies see the writing on the wall. New York Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs, who journalist Ross Barkin describes as Cuomo`s closest ally in politics, is now calling for his resignation.

Cuomo has been radio silent since yesterday`s aggressive campaign to defend himself where he denied the allegations and singled out accuser Charlotte Bennett, saying he had been trying to help her. Here is how she reacted to that in an interview with NBC`s Kate Snow.


CHARLOTTE BENNETT, CUOMO HARASSMENT ACCUSER: It`s disturbing that even after months of investigations, he still can`t accept the facts that he knows are true.

If he were sorry, he would step down because he knows -- he knows he did all those things but he`s lying. He`s lying publicly and that apology doesn`t mean anything if he`s still in the office and still -- still making statements as if the information in that report is false.


CAPEHART: Charlotte Bennett also called for impeachment if Cuomo doesn`t resign immediately. The New York State Assembly appears to be on the same page, with the assembly speaker saying in a statement, quote, we will move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible.


And they may have the votes they need to impeach.


RON KIM (D), NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLYMAN: Yes, we have the votes, we have the political will to remove them and impeach him as soon as possible. It`s just a matter of how we`re going to do it.


CAPEHART: Adding to the political pressure to resign, Cuomo could also be in criminal trouble.

Today, the Manhattan, Westchester and Nassau County DAs requested investigative materials from the New York attorney general`s report. They now join Albany County, which has an ongoing criminal investigation into Cuomo`s behavior.

Joining me now, Deanna Paul, reporter for "The Wall Street Journal" and a former New York City prosecutor, Cynthia Alksne, former federal prosecutor, and Zerlina Maxwell, host of "Zerlina" on Peacock.

Thank you all very much for coming to THE REIDOUT.

Cynthia, I`m going to start with you, and just put this graphic up about the likelihood of Cuomo being charged with a crime. "Legal experts caution that the standard for criminal prosecution is greater than state Attorney General Letitia James` civil investigation. While her report was backed -- backed up by corroborating evidence and credible witnesses establishing that Cuomo had committed a crime would require additional scrutiny."

Talk us through that a little bit.

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: OK, here`s the basic point.

That is, a civil case is -- it`s easier to prove a civil case, right, it`s more likely than not, than a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt. I don`t know, honestly, Jonathan, think that`s the issue here. I think you could prove simple assault cases, especially ones that are -- you could do it -- that are inside the statute of limitations.

The problem is that these places are busy. I mean, the Albany DA`s office has 60 rapes, 180 robberies to deal with, all these assaults. Murder is down, but still busy in Albany. In Manhattan, I mean, for God`s sake, there are a lot of cases in Manhattan, not the least of which is Trump`s case, which hasn`t been done.


ALKSNE: And what happens is, when you`re the young prosecutor who`s handling misdemeanor cases -- these are misdemeanor cases -- you might have 130 cases on your desk.

And if you spend days and resources looking at the governor of New York, who, quite frankly, is being dealt with by the president of the United States and every Democrat who can get their name on a piece of paper fast enough, and if you spend your time and your valuable resources on that, the child who has been burned by her parent, the child who has been raped and there wasn`t an outcry in time to prosecute it as a felony, or an elder abuse case doesn`t get the attention that it deserves.

I really think is a triage situation, and that we have to recognize this is a civil case, it should be dealt with civilly, and with the president of the United States, and let`s keep these young prosecutors who are doing misdemeanors focusing on the victims who deserve the attention and that need the help.

CAPEHART: And, so, Deanna, we showed the clip of Charlotte Bennett in her interview with Kate Snow.

Well, it turns out now another accuser, Lindsey Boylan, put out a statement today on her plan to sue Governor Cuomo.

Her statement -- the statement from her lawyer reads: "Boylan intends to sue the governor and his close advisers for retaliating against her. As the attorney general`s investigation concluded, it was a calculated effort by the governor and his team to send a message to Ms. Boylan and every other survivor to be quiet or face the consequences."

Is that -- is that suit going to go anywhere, especially if Cuomo resigns?

DEANNA PAUL, FORMER NEW YORK CITY PROSECUTOR: So, the report that was put out yesterday certainly laid out facts that could be the basis for a civil lawsuit from a number of complainants.

I do know that Charlotte Bennett at this point is very focused on impeachment, not on any sort of lawsuit. I think what`s also important to consider are the criminal allegations that you mentioned earlier. There now are a number of district attorney`s offices that are looking into possible criminality that happened in their jurisdiction.

CAPEHART: Zerlina, there`s -- was somebody about to jump in?

Well, Zerlina, I`m going to ask you my question.

There`s a Marist poll out that shows a majority of New Yorkers want Cuomo to resign, 59 percent of adults, 52 percent of registered Democrats. Clearly, they saw -- they have been paying attention and they saw the press conference yesterday.

Now, have a listen to Greg Kelly, who I used to know when I was in New York. Just have a listen to him and what he had to say about Governor Cuomo, what`s happening to him.


GREG KELLY, NEWSMAX: Mob mentality has formed yet again around Andrew Cuomo this time. I`m not buying it.


Now, there`s a lot of reasons to not like this guy, OK, and I am not a fan anymore. But he`s no sexual predator, all right? And what is said about him can be said about a lot of people, actually. And I have been around long enough and I know stuff that happens. And I can see a freaking witch-hunt when it happens.


CAPEHART: Zerlina, a freaking witch-hunt? Seriously?

ZERLINA MAXWELL, HOST, "ZERLINA": Well, I mean, it`s funny he used those words, because, as the feminist on the panel -- I don`t know if anybody else identifies that way -- I guess I`m the witch present.

But I do think what he said is actually quite revealing. And I want to quote one of my good, good friends, Mychal Denzel Smith, a feminist writer. And he said this at the beginning of the MeToo movement. And I think a lot of men at home should sit with this and think about it, especially overnight.

He said, it`s sort of like listening to these accounts of these women coming forward, and you`re reading these fact patterns. And, as a man, you`re not reading it like women do and saying, that happened to me. Oh, that sounds like something that happened to me. As a man, you`re reading it, you`re saying, oh, that sounds like something that I did. That sounds like behavior that I have engaged in or that I have witnessed firsthand.

And so I think, in that clip, what that reveals, if he`s saying this is the way things are, and that`s just -- I have seen it, I have maybe perhaps even he was admitting having been flirtatious in inappropriate settings, I think, in some ways, it`s an admission by some of these men.

And none of this behavior should be happening at work, period, full stop.

CAPEHART: Right, period, full stop.

Deanna, how long do you think -- actually, let me put it this way. Can Governor Cuomo survive this, meaning can he withstand the enormous pressure he is under from the -- since you put it, from the White House on down, to stay in office?

PAUL: That`s a question that a lot of people are asking. And it`s a good one.

Only time will tell. But at this point, there are mounting calls, as we said, for his resignation. There is an impeachment inquiry. There -- as I said before, there are the criminal investigations.

And the (AUDIO GAP) DA`s office is also actually reviewing possible allegations from the report that may have happened in their jurisdiction as well. There`s also the federal probe into whether he handled nursing homes during COVID-19 properly.

So there`s a lot of things going on. It`s the beginning of a long road for Cuomo. And only time will tell if it`s something he is able to survive.

CAPEHART: And, Cynthia, back to the legal jeopardy that he is in.

How much protection does he have against legal jeopardy as long as he`s governor?

ALKSNE: It`s only a matter of time until these women band together or the lawyers band together and he`s charged with -- there are civil cases under Title VII, 1983, and the New York civil rights laws.

And he will end up being sued in his official and individual capacity, and he will have a lot of money. And, additionally, the state of New York will end up paying a lot of money, because this was a hostile work environment.

And what`s most disheartening about it is, the people who enable him are a bunch of women. The chief of staff is a woman. The special counsel is a woman. The secretary to the governor is a woman. And what were they doing? They were covering this up. They were enabling him. They were transferring women, instead of confronting him and dealing with it.

They were leaking personnel files about women to go after them. Let me tell you what. Ladies, ladies, we have to channel our inner Annie, Annie Lennox. We can do what -- we have to do it for ourselves. We cannot -- we cannot enable men when they do this. We have to stick together.

This is unacceptable and disheartening that these women helped.

CAPEHART: Zerlina, pick -- take the baton and run with that, because I found it very interesting, in Governor Cuomo`s rebuttal video, how he talked about, oh, if a strong woman does this, she`s vilified, but if a man does it, in terms of being a strong supervisor, being a strong boss.

Your reaction to what Cynthia said and what the governor said yesterday?

MAXWELL: Well, the governor`s rebuttal yesterday was offensive for a number of different reasons. Usually, using B-roll or a slideshow of people that you have not assaulted is not a good defense to the allegations in a report like this one, and where people who are alleging you have assaulted them are named, right? You`re not necessarily even defending what is being alleged.

But, even specifically, one of the things he said that I want to dial in on is the point about Charlotte being a survivor, and, because of that, she may be more sensitive to this -- these kinds of comments...


CAPEHART: Oh, yes.

MAXWELL: ... I want to just put a -- put just a marker down and say that is complete and total B.S.

The fact of the matter is that, as a survivor, one of the things that comes along with that lived experience is that you missed red flags. That is actually a function of being a survivor. That`s a part of the identity. You missed the flags.

And now you have? A super sharp gut reaction when you come across somebody who is engaging in predatory behavior. You`re not more sensitive. You`re more aware of the behavior, actually, after surviving an assault. So I just want to make that point really clear, because that was the most offensive part of his rebuttal, beyond the I didn`t assault all of these other people I`m hugging.

And I always want to ask him, did you ask for permission before you touched people? And if the answer is not yes, you did it wrong.

CAPEHART: And, Zerlina, that is a great point. All your points in that last answer are great points to end on.

Zerlina Maxwell, Cynthia Alksne, Deanna Paul, thank you very much for coming to THE REIDOUT.

Still ahead: As cities wrestle with the idea of mask mandates and vaccine requirements, one Republican governor is now saying he regrets signing a law banning such measures as his state faces a major COVID surge.

We will be right back.



CAPEHART: We have some breaking news tonight on the COVID front.

The Biden administration is developing a plan that will require foreign visitors to the U.S. be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It`s the latest push in the ramped-up fight against the Delta variant, as the pandemic roars back in many parts of the U.S., including Arkansas, a state now reporting the highest increase it`s seen since the beginning of the pandemic.

The numbers are so bad that Governor Asa Hutchinson, who months ago signed a bill that banned local mask mandates, is having a change of heart.


GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): I signed it for those reasons, that our cases were at a low point.

Everything has changed now. And, yes, in hindsight, I wish that had not become law.


CAPEHART: The governor is also hosting town halls in an effort to convince vaccine skeptics to get the shot.

And in case you have ever wondered what happens when a pro-vaccine governor meets a roomful of anti-vaxxers, well, here it goes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s in the vaccine? Give me the insert sheet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Mr. Doctor gives me a vial and says, trust me, I`ll give you a vial. You trust me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If doctors were allowed to tell the truth and treat their patients with these therapeutics, we would not have hospitals full of sick people dying, OK?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t smirk at me, Governor.

What will save lives, Governor? And it`s not the vaccine.


CAPEHART: Joining me now is Arkansas state Senator Jim Hendren, who left the Republican Party earlier this year -- excuse me -- and now serves as an independent, and Dr. Vin Gupta, a critical care pulmonologist.

Thank you both very much for coming to THE REIDOUT.

Dr. Gupta, I have to start with you.

I need your reaction to that sound we just heard of those two vaccine skeptics, especially that last one, that young woman.

DR. VIN GUPTA, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Jonathan. Great to be here.

What I will say is, she`s probably referencing all this really, really preliminary data on therapeutics like ivermectin. Well, let`s just talk about it real quick.

There is no evidence in -- from any high-quality studies that ivermectin, which is a tablet, a type of therapy that you can -- that you usually use to treat your pets of a tapeworm -- it`s an anti-parasitic drug -- is actually safe and effective against treating COVID-19 in the human body.

Those studies are ongoing. We`re having due diligence here. And, of course, if there was actual data here that the NIH looked at and said, my gosh, this is a miracle drug for COVID, we`d all be using it. That data just does not yet exist.

And so this is a -- one of those straw man arguments here to not get vaccinated, because somehow we`re depriving people of a better option. It`s false, it`s wrong, and it`s a distraction.

CAPEHART: State Senator Hendren, I`m just wondering. Listening to Governor Hutchinson saying, basically mea culpa and also saying things change, and I have changed my mind, have you talked to the governor since he`s made those -- made those comments?

I`m wondering your reaction to the governor`s change of heart.

STATE SEN. JIM HENDREN (I-AR): No, I have talked to the governor.

And you have to understand Arkansas is a state where it`s a simple majority to override the governor. And so when you choose to veto something, sometimes, it`s a hollow threat. So it`s hard to decide where to draw those lines.

And, again, the governor wishes that he had vetoed that. But you have to realize Arkansas is a warning for other states. We were at 100 cases per day. Today, we had 2, 800. Our hospitals were in good shape. Now they`re overflowing.

We passed this thinking the worst was behind us. We did not anticipate, the legislature did not anticipate what Delta would do. And it was absolutely the worst decision. I voted against the bill, and I tried to sound the warning sign then that, look, in an emergency, you cannot handcuff people who are trying to deal with a situation.

We`re getting ready to start school, and we have taken away one of the most valuable tools that superintendents and school districts had to combat coronavirus, particularly this Delta variant. And it very likely will mean we -- the first school district that`s open, we already have 700 kids in quarantine.

So, the potential for us to lose our school year is huge because of the handcuffs that the legislature has put on local schools.


CAPEHART: You know, Senator, I want to put up on the screen this report from "Axios" today about what`s happening in Arkansas. More Arkansas kids are getting COVID-19 and they are getting sicker. State Health Secretary Jose Romero said that 19 percent of active cases in the state are people under 18. More than half of those are under 12.

Dr. Gupta, how worried should parents be around the country about their children`s exposure to COVID, especially given the rampant nature of the delta variant?

DR. VIN GUPTA, FACULTY, INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH METRICS & EVALUATION: Jonathan, first of all, I love what the senator just said. I appreciate his honesty and his owning what has happened in the past, as has the governor of Arkansas. What I would say to all parents out there as a parent is that it`s okay to be worried because there`s been a lot of confusing messaging. It`s clear that at least in certain spots, children do appear to be getting sicker. Louisiana, Florida.

However, let me be clear, we`re not seeing some sort of nationwide spike, Jonathan, in children going to the hospital in droves here. It does not appear that we`re there yet. It`s happening in spots. What I would recommend to the parents of all school-age children in Arkansas is to ignore what has been passed in law, to mask up your kiddos until they can get vaccinated.

Frankly, Jonathan, what we`re seeing is a lot of non-COVID pneumonia. Something called respiratory syncytial virus, RSV for short. We`re seeing a peak here in July, August, where typically this is a December to February type of virus peak.

And so, for a variety of reasons, mask up your kiddos, let`s get them back in school but protect them until they can get the vaccine.

CAPEHART: Senator Hendren, what would you say to -- what are you saying to your fellow Arkansans who are either hesitant about getting the vaccine or are saying basically hell, no, I don`t want the vaccine?

HENDREN: We`re trying to combat a lot of misinformation like every place is. Certainly, it`s prevalent. The clip you showed was from my home district and that`s the kind of people. I talked with some of my employees and tried to make them understand that delta is different. While you`re right we`re not seeing a huge spike in children, our concern is the average age in northwest Arkansas where I`m at for hospitalizations is 39, whereas before when we had COVID, the original variant, we were seeing mainly sick older people.

This thing is really working its way and having a lot more impact on the working population. We`re concerned as schools start while the kids may not have adverse effects, they can certainly take it home to unvaccinated parents and grandparents. So it`s so important that we get people vaccinated and help them understand their concerns are real, they need to be addressed in a sympathetic and humble way. But we are -- our hospitals are at a crisis point. In northwest Arkansas, we`re shipping patients to Denver, Colorado, because we can`t find anywhere to put emergency patients.


HENDREN: It`s just somewhere that people need to go.

CAPEHART: Wow. Dr. Gupta, in the time that we have left, I want to get your thoughts on this story in "The New York Times" on Tuesday about Pfizer and FDA authorization. FDA aims to give final approval to Pfizer vaccine by early next month.

Dr. Gupta, how -- do you think if the FDA says officially that the Pfizer vaccine is -- it`s been given our gold seal of approval, that that will -- is the thing that some people are looking for as a reason to then go get vaccinated? How helpful would that be?

GUPTA: Extremely helpful, Jonathan. So it will help us address hesitancy and to help educate at the point of inoculation so absolutely vital. But it`s also going to give flexibility to organizations to mandate the vaccine.

So, you`re going to see colleges, universities, school districts move towards that paradigm. Restaurants and bars probably follow across the country with what New York City has led on. Department of transportation, Secretary Buttigieg then potentially having the option to say if you want to board an airplane cabin, you`ve got to show proof of evacuation. A lot of dominos start to fall.

And if I may quickly in just ten seconds --


GUPTA: Separately, we need the CDC to clearly communicate to a tired populous across the country what does success look like. It is not eradication, Jonathan. We think for every 10 -- for every detected case of COVID, there`s ten undetected cases. We`re not going to eradicate this disease. What is COVID and density (ph) look like?

It`s low hospitalizations, low stress, maybe cases are still continuing, but low hospitalizations and stress, that`s vital. That`s what people need clarity on.

CAPEHART: All right, Dr. Vin Gupta and Arkansas State Senator Jim Hendren, thank you very much for coming up to THE REIDOUT.

Up next, a total failure of leadership in Florida. You`d think Republican Governor Ron DeSantis was trying to get as many of his state`s residents and visitors as sick as possible.


And he`s actually proud of it.

Stay with us.


CAPEHART: As the pandemic of the unvaccinated spirals out of control in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis continues to prioritize doing nothing. After President Biden slammed him for banning mask requirements in schools, saying get out of the way of people doing the right thing, DeSantis went into full deflection mode today in a four and a half minute tirade against the president.

Here`s a small portion of it.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Joe Biden has taken to himself to try to single out Florida over COVID. Why don`t you do your job? Why don`t you get this border secure and until you do that, I don`t want to hear a blip about COVID from you. Thank you.


CAPEHART: I don`t want to hear a blip.

In addition to railing about the southern border as COVID explodes in his state, which is nowhere near the border, DeSantis is also melting down over ice cream.

He`s adding Ben and Jerry`s to a list of scrutinized companies in his war on, quote, woke corporations over his decision to end the sale of their products in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories, and as Florida broke another record for hospitalizations for the third straight days.

I`m joined now by Mayor Dan Gelber of Miami Beach.

Mayor Gelber, welcome to THE REIDOUT.

I -- your reaction to the governor, at least a portion of the governor`s tirade that we showed.

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH: First of all, President Biden isn`t singling this out. We`re singling this out. If you look at the CDC metrics, we`re leading the country in virtually every horrible metrics, in positives, in hospitalizations, in deaths. And so -- it`s not just something that we should be worried about here because we`re a destination state.

So, you know, my worry is not only are we worried about our residents. We`re worried about all the places we`re exporting it to. And, of course, Governor DeSantis weirdly and tragically has become almost the guy who`s championing bad behavior. His website -- his political website literally has anti-Fauci, anti-CDC, anti-mask usage stuff. So he`s trying to do everything he can to communicate behavior that gets people sicker while local people like me, local mayors are trying their hardest to try and get people to do what the CDC and doctors say we should be doing.

CAPEHART: And, you know, in fact he`s sent out a fund-raising e-mail over the president`s criticism on him of his COVID leadership. That actually sent out today.

What the governor also said today -- I`m just going to quote it. This is what the governor said: If you`re trying to restrict people, I`m standing in your way and I`m standing for the people of Florida.

Mayor Gelber, what is this logic? Third straight day, record COVID cases in your state and he says he`s standing up for the people of Florida?

GELBER: Listen, it`s pretty obvious what he`s doing. And I`m not accusing him of it. I think he says it. He is building a campaign either for re- election or for president to a small sliver of people who don`t want to follow guidelines from the CDC, who don`t believe any of this stuff and the result is we`re getting sicker in the state.

He`s made a very callus calculation he`s rather appeal to this small sliver of folks who want to hear this than actually do something that helps his own residents, and we have over 100 people dying a day in Florida, and he`s literally selling these beer koozies that say I can`t drink my beer when I have a mask on as a joke.

There`s nothing funny going on in Florida right now and he`s doing everything he can to make it harder. So we`re trying the best we can to help our residents not with his efforts but in spite of his efforts.

CAPEHART: Right. Mayor Gelber, I was about to ask you so how are you as mayor doing -- addressing the COVID emergency as it`s playing out in your city?

GELBER: Well, we`re telling our residents to wear masks inside. We`re not allowed to require them to do it even though the CDC thinks you should because he issued an executive order stopping us from doing that. We`re opening up yesterday COVID testing center and vaccination center.

So we`re urging our people to get tested. We`re doing everything -- we`re urging businesses to do everything they can to try and get more people vaccinated. I mean, we`re actually doing what almost happens in a health care crisis, which is everybody gets together on the same page.

The worst thing this governor has done is he`s helped divide the public. And we don`t do this during hurricanes. We all tell everybody precisely what to do together because we know if we say different things, they`ll do different things. So right now just the way mask usage was politicized and vaccinations have been politicized, now following the CDC guidelines is politicized. And he`s I think the number one violator of this, and it`s killing people.

CAPEHART: Right. Mayor Gelber, more than 12,000 people hospitalized, 2,500 in intensive care. That`s 40 percent of Florida`s ICU beds. It is a tragic situation in Florida.

Mayor -- Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, thank you very much for coming to THE REIDOUT.

Up next, the results are in for yesterday`s congressional special elections in Ohio that tested the clout of progressives and Trump`s endorsement.

We`ll be right back.



CAPEHART: The results are in for two Ohio special elections primaries. We told you about last night.

In the Democratic primary for the 11th congressional district seat formerly held by HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, local Democratic chair Shontel Brown defeated former State Senator Nina Turner. It`s a blow to progressives with Turner endorsed by Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, falling short of the moderate Brown who is backed by Hillary Clinton and several members of the Congressional Black Caucus including Jim Clyburn.

Meanwhile in the Republican primary in Ohio`s 15th district, the disgraced former president`s candidate, coal lobbyist Mike Carey, came out on top in a 11-candidate field.

And that`s tonight`s REIDOUT.

And for all REIDers out here, hallelujah, she`s back. Your wait is over. Joy comes back tomorrow night so be sure to tune in. Among her guests: Donald Trump`s niece, Mary Trump.

And I`ll see you again right here at 10:00 a.m. this Sunday.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.