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Transcript: The ReidOut, 9/13/21

Guests: Kurt Bardella, Eric Swalwell, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Joseph Allen, Cornell Belcher


GOP becomes the anti-vax party; Florida Governor allows guest to spread vaccines misinformation at official press conference; GOP driving pandemic of the unvaccinated; GOP Representative Ronny Jackson says he only got vaccinated so he could go on Junkets; NYC mandates vaccines for many indoor activities; GOP lays groundwork to call California recall election rigged.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: I see you in floral or leopard. I need to see you in prints. I need to see prints, prints, prints. All right, do it next year.


REID: Prints. Okay, bye. Have a good night. Take care.


REID: All right. Cheers.

Okay. Good evening everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with a depression era political cartoon that proves that anti-vax hysteria is nothing new. Check it out, the misinformation cliff nearly a century old depicted anti- vaxxers walking foolishly into the dark waters of smallpox, their reasoning ranging from prejudice to carelessness to giving into fads. Sound familiar?

Now, other than the fringe group this cartoon satirized, no one wanted smallpox. This stuff was deadly. It struck fear into the hearts of millions. It also killed millions of people every year until a vaccine came along and eradicated it. So anti-vaxxers have been around as long as vaccines themselves.

But can you imagine if back then there was a major political party backing them up? Fast forward to 2021 and that`s exactly where we are now. House Minority Weasel Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader and Colt 45 groupie, here he is tweeting in all caps rant, no vaccine mandate, period.

Meanwhile in the MAGA death away, this is as known as Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis is also eagerly cording the anti-vax voting bloc, threatening to fine cities and counties that require their workers to be vaccinated while passing the mic to anti-vaxxers spewing pure lies at his press conferences.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one should tell you what to put in your body. I choose what goes in my body. The vaccine changes your RNA, so, for me, that`s a problem.


REID: No. That`s a lot. That`s not true. And wait a minute. What was that part about how no one should tell you how to make choices about your body, what to put in your body and has Texas governor receive that memo? Just checking.

The thing is, look, I get it. Republicans and Democrats don`t agree on much of these days but you would think we could agree on this one thing, staying alive, keeping our children alive, our parents.

A large CDC report says unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely than vaccinated people to die from COVID-19, 11 times.

But instead, the Republicans are committed to siding with the virus, and they have quickly gone from allowing vaccine skepticism to making it the official party line, full stop. Talk about unprecedented times. This is the first time an entire major political party has organized itself around opposition to a life-saving vaccine. Just imagine if this had occurred during smallpox. Would we even be here?

Joining me now is Charlie Sykes, Editor-at-Large at the Bulwark and an MSNBC Columnist, and Dr. Joseph Allen, Director of the Healthy Buildings Program and Associate Professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Thank you both for being here.

Charlie, I`ve got to go to you first. You have -- the person who was the de facto head of the Republican Party, Kevin McCarthy, goofy and undignified though he may be, he is basically the leader of the party right now, tweeting no vaccine mandate. Does he include measles, mumps, rubella, smallpox, you know, polio? How did the Republican Party with The Federalist in 2015 was say saying, unvaccinated people should be able to discriminated against in public places, go to being a party built on anti-vaxism?

CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC COLUMNIST: Well, in one way, by having deeply unserious people like Kevin McCarthy in leadership roles. You know, you raise a good question because we have all kinds of vaccines. We -- in Florida, you`re required to have a whole host of vaccines to go.

REID: I know.

SYKES: And so, you know, what you have is a political party that is being reckless but also there`s a certain dishonesty to it because Ron DeSantis down in Florida, and that episode today was very revealing, would claim, would insist to you that he in fact has been pro-vaccine and yet he stands next to someone who peddles misinformation, disinformation and then he had a choice. Ron DeSantis could have stepped to the microphone and said what you just heard is wrong. I am against the vaccine mandate as a matter of public policy or principle or whatever, but it is not true that the vaccine changes your RNA, and yet he chose not to say that. That is a deeply irresponsible movement.

But also the way that they are now aggressively attacking local governments and in Florida, private businesses, that have chosen to have the vaccine mandates. I mean, this is in the context of 1,600 Americans dying every single day.

I think historians are going to look back on this completely puzzled, historians of politics, of science and of public health. What -- in fact, what was going on with Republicans back in 2021?


REID: And the people, you know, Dr. Allen, that are doing this are mostly vaccinated people, people who themselves protected from COVID because they are vaccinated and their pushing anti-vaxxer as politics. I mean, we have in Washington State filling the ICU, filling up of people from Idaho because their governor refuses to do any kind of mandates, it is essentially pushing his own people. People are pushing their own children essentially to go unmasked and unvaccinated because a lot of them are too young to get vaccinated, but even the ones who are old enough.

I think you as an epidemiologist, somebody who is in this business, have you ever seen anything like this? Imagine if this was done about Ebola, insisting that Ebola be allowed in, insisting that people let Ebola patients on cruise ships, that is what -- I`m curious to get your take on what we`re seeing.

DR. JOSEPH ALLEN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes. It`s totally baffling, it`s deeply irresponsible and it is just shocking because why are we acting -- why are they acting like this some affront to our liberties? As you point out this is normal. This is routine. We get vaccines for all sorts of things.

We`re in the midst of the biggest public health crisis of the past hundred years. Hundreds of thousands o of people have died. Livelihoods have evaporated and we can`t get one party in the United States to recognize there is a way out of this, a simple way out of this, and that`s through these safe and highly effective vaccines.

Also, what`s shocking to me in hearing this from Republicans is that this is pro-business. Businesses want the mandates because it keeps them covered, that the federal government says it. Businesses want to encourage vaccinations and require vaccinations before you go to a sporting event or a theater. So, it really is baffling from a public health standpoint. It`s baffling from an economic and business standpoint. It`s baffling from international competitiveness standpoint. And I just don`t understand it.

And as a public health professor, it`s deeply unsettling because these are lives they are risking. People are dying because of this misinformation.

REID: It`s their people. I mean, Republicans are the most unvaccinated group, Charlie. They are directing this sort of pro-death policy. It`s very Jim Jones. It`s saying take this Kool-Aid and drink it and die. And then turn around, and just live long enough to vote for me.

Let me let you listen to Ronny Jackson, who went for -- I cannot believe this man was able to touch Barack Obama, I`m sorry, President Obama. He was the White House physician. Thank God that nothing ever went wrong with him treating our president. Here he is talking about the fact that the -- he is vaccinated. So he is protected. That he wants to be on the team. So he says this is the only reason I got vaccinated. Here he is.


REP. RONNY JACKSON (R-TX): I got vaccinated. And the only reason I got vaccinated, Ron, is because I knew that I`m on the Foreign Affairs Committee and Armed Services. And I knew that Nancy Pelosi was not going to let me travel on CoDels, on congressional delegations, if I didn`t get it. Otherwise, I probably wouldn`t have got it because I`m otherwise pretty healthy.


REID: Okay, well that`s what most people who are unvaccinated are going to have to do. Your job says you have to get it if you want to come work here. You are going to have to get it. So he`s explaining what his constituents are going to have to do but he feels like he has to make an excuse for doing something for his own health. Charlie, your thoughts.

SYKES: But that also demonstrates that these mandates work. That`s exactly the way they are going to do. The people will choose to get and will decide to get it and then will use this as the excuse. And to the point about being pro-business, look, if we want our lives back, if we want the economy back, you know, this is the way to do it. We have this incredible miracle that we have been granted by public health scientists. We have the vaccines. It can get our kids back to school. It can get our families back together again. It can get us traveling again.

The notion that somehow the Republican Party has decided to demagogue this is truly extraordinary, especially because they claim that it`s all about freedom. But, you know, the reality is that freedom is always been balanced with responsibility. You know the United States Supreme Court back in 1905 balanced out what was the meaning of liberty. Personal liberty didn`t mean anything if we use that liberty to destroy the public good and to just do damage to the community. This is something that we all understood. It`s a responsibility of being an American citizen.

And again, the contrast between the Republican Party and what its asked Americans to do in the days after 9/11 and the irresponsibility of the way they are dealing with the pandemic that is killing as many people as died on 9/11 every two days is truly amazing.

REID: Yes. And, I mean, their go-to is to try to blame black people, say it was the blacks, you just get the black. Though it`s you guys. It`s Republicans. It`s not African-Americans are polling just like Democrats, vast majority willing to get vaccinated, Nikki Minaj as a weird exemption in some of our rappers. I don`t know what`s happening in the rap community.

Dr. Allen, I am fascinated to have you here.


So, New York City is creating an indoor mandate where you cannot go in. My kids have experienced this, they`re in New York. Indoor dining restaurant, cafe, clubs, indoor fitness, gyms, pools, studios, indoor entertainment, movie theaters say that you`ve got to be vaccinated in order to go in. Where -- you talked about in your New York Times article that we need to think about what are our goals, like what is it that we`re actually trying to do at this point, is what is our most rational goal at this point knowing that we`re going to have a certain percentage of American who are going to refuse to get vaccinated and do the right thing, refuse to wear mask, refuse to protect themselves or others or even protect their own kids.

Is our goal at this point to just to try to make a safe space for those of us who are vaccinated and say we`re just going to create these safe spaces, is that like a reasonable goal?

ALLEN: It is definitely a reasonable goal. And I think it reflects the reality that we have hundred million -- 160 million plus who are vaccinated and are tired of being locked down waiting for the unvaccinated to get vaccinated. We really hit the limits here. This is why I support the vaccine mandate.

I wrote about this in The Washington Post last month. We hit the limit of the voluntary approach. We`ve tried the hand-holding, we`ve tried to cajoling, we`ve tried the beer and the lotteries. It`s not working. We`ve reached the limit. And to pull this last group across the line, we have to put in these mandates. That means, absolutely, like the example given, we have to make it a requirement. We should be doing this for travel. We should be doing this as we go into sporting events.

And because what that does is it increases the burden on the unvaccinated, it frees up the vaccinated and importantly from a public health standpoint, it increases the total numbers of people who are getting vaccinated. And that`s rally the way we`re all going to be protected. It`s the best way to protect our kids is to have adults vaccinated.

So I support these moves. And I think it`s really what`s going to move the needle. In fact, we see this for some organizations that have mandated like the airlines, already there`s a bump up. There were threats people would quit. That`s not happening. What they`re doing is they`re getting vaccinated, which shows the mandates are working.

REID: You are not going quit your job. If they say you have to get this shot to go to work, unless you want to be broke and poor and you want to sit home with no money and do your research on TikTok and watch TikToks all day of other unvaccinated people, you`re going to get that shot.

And I think the reality is, it`s going to happen, Charlie, because people are going to have to face the choice between being broke and being vaccinated. And in the end, I`m done hand holding people too. I`ve reached my limit. Okay, I`ve reached my limit. I`m not begging anyone else.

We don`t have -- we`re out of time. So, I`m sorry, I was about to ask you a question. And people like Nikki Minaj, I have to say this, you have a platform sister that is 22 million followers. Okay, I have 2 million followers. You have 22 million followers on Twitter. For you to use your platform to encourage our community to not protect themselves and save their lives, my God, sister, you could do better than that. You got that platform, it`s a blessing. It`s a blessing that you got that. That people listen to you and they listen to you more than they listen to me.

For you to use your platform to put people in the position of dying from a disease they don`t have to die from, oh, my God. As fan, as a hip-hop fan, somebody who is your fan, I`m so sad that you did that, so sad that you did that, sister. Oh, my God.

Anyway, Charlie Sykes, Dr. Joseph Allen, thank you very much.

Lord, still ahead on THE REIDOUT, tomorrow`s hugely important recall election in California will give us a reading on the state of American democracy. Will Republicans continue to insist that any election they didn`t win was automatically rigged?

Plus, new revelations about Melania Trump`s priorities on January 6th, sending out a plea for peace, apparently, no, not her style.

And in tonight`s absolute worst, the symposium on how not to mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m worried about fraud. When they found the meth addict with 300 ballots in his -- the trunk of his car, are you hearing any other stories like that and how worried are you that that might be part of this election?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am worried about fraud.


REID: This should probably come as no surprise as Trump (INAUDIBLE) 2020 playbook is now being rolled out as their modus operandi. The New York Times writes, quote, this swift embrace of false allegations of cheating in the California recall reflects a growing instinct on the right to argue that any lost election or any ongoing race that might result in defeat must be marred by fraud. The relentless falsehood spread by Mr. Trump and his allies about the 2020 elections have only fueled such fear. They should start calling him Donald. He doesn`t deserve Mr. Trump.

Joining me now is Cornell Belcher, Democratic Pollster and Strategist, and Kurt Bardella, Adviser for the DCCC.

And, you know, I`ve go to go to you first, Cornell, because you and I both know that they said the same thing about President Obama`s election in 2008 and 2012. Any election in which you know white voters went for President Obama`s opponents both times, 60/40. And so, they`re like, well, there`s no way that President Obama won a reelection. That was fraud, right? So that is not that -- it`s not like Trump made this a thing, Cornell. This is the way Republicans have been operating for a long time because they cannot win elections where there was any appreciable percentage of nonwhite voters, then they say, oh, well, that`s fraud. The nonwhite voters did it. Let`s suppress their votes.


Your thoughts?


No, this is part of the ongoing -- the ongoing backlash that you`re seeing to the changing face of America. And it calls into question, whether or not we`re going to survive as a democracy if people who look like, quite frankly, the people on your panel today are in fact in power and have a voice in a democracy, is that legitimate?

I think it is dangerous, though, Joy. It really is, because what you see in what Trump is doing and what you`re seeing in what Elder is doing in California is, they are sowing the seeds for violence. I mean, this is just textbook 101 dictator, authoritarian stuff. It`s how you sow the seeds of violence.

You keep telling these people that they`re being cheated, that something`s been taken from them.

REID: That`s right.

BELCHER: That we are -- in fact, people, the others, are stealing your country away from you. And you`re seeding the seeds for violence.

And it`s just a matter of time. If you keep feeding this fire for violence and having people feel disgruntled, and something`s being taken away from them, it`s only a matter of time, common sense is going to tell you, those people are going to act in a violent manner.

And that`s my fear of what I see happening across the spectrum with Republicans.

REID: Yes, I mean, look, Kurt, when he wasn`t coaching Jeffrey Epstein, apparently, to do TV appearances and interviews, that`s what Steve Bannon was doing, making Breitbart the home of the alt-right, meaning -- and alt- right just being a euphemism for white nationalism and white supremacy, is that, basically, what they`re saying to white Americans is, look, you don`t know anybody that voted for Biden or Obama.

So, therefore, because you, who live in a predominantly white or even all white neighborhood, you never met somebody who voted for those people. So, clearly, nobody voted for those people. All those votes are made up. You shouldn`t trust these elections because you`re not getting your way.

And only when we win is it legit.

Here is our wonderful Jacob Soboroff, our great reporter at NBC/MSNBC, trying to get Larry Elder to say whether he would accept the results of the election, win or lose. Take a listen.


JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: No matter the results of the election tomorrow, will you accept the results as legitimate?

LARRY ELDER (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I just wish, Jacob, one time, just one time, somebody would say to my opponent, Gavin Newsom, do you accept the results of the 2016 election?

SOBOROFF: Whether or not you win or lose, will you accept the results of the election tomorrow?

ELDER: I think we all ought to be looking at election integrity.

SOBOROFF: Is that a commitment to accept the results of the election tomorrow?

ELDER: Let`s all do that together? Let`s all work together.

SOBOROFF: Is that a commitment to accept the results of the election tomorrow?

ELDER: Let`s all work together to find out whether or not the election tomorrow is a fair election.

SOBOROFF: So, that is not a commitment to accept the results of the election tomorrow?

ELDER: Boy, Jacob, honestly, I answered your question.


REID: No, you didn`t.

And you have got Donald Trump already putting out an election -- putting out a statement claiming that it`s an election scam, that it`s already fraud, because they know that this dude is going to lose, right?

You have got Larry Elder`s campaign promoting a Web site that claims the recall is already over, Newsom won, and they already found supposedly voter fraud. I mean, it`s only a matter of time before they get the Cyber Ninjas in there.

That`s the new way that the Republican Party operates, Kurt. Your thoughts?

KURT BARDELLA, DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE ADVISER: You know, it`s ironic, because, for all of the claims about voter fraud and hysterias and outright lies that we have seen from Republican Party, time and again, the actual only evidence of voter fraud that we ever come up with actually comes from the Republicans, and never from the Democratic side.

But that`s the excuse that they come -- we`re talking about the largest state in the union with the largest concentration of Democrats in a state where Republicans for the better part of the last 15 years have been actually the third party in voter registration in California behind Democrats and independents, in decline in the state.

And, somehow, their answer for why they`re going to lose yet another election in California that is statewide is, well, it must be voter fraud. Can`t possibly be anything else.

I mean, Joy, what`s going on right now with this recall, it is such an illustration of how far their home party has gone. Almost two decades ago, in 2003, I was there. I was working in California politics in 2003, when Arnold Schwarzenegger ran, and that was the last time we saw a Republican win the governor`s office.

And you know what Arnold ran on? He ran on being an immigrant. He ran on being someone that can unite Democrats and Republicans. In today`s Republican Party, Arnold Schwarzenegger would not be able to get past the primary process.

REID: That`s right.

BARDELLA: He would lose the proxy battle of moderates and conservatives, which he won in 2003.

And it`s really ironic, because, at that time, Joy, the person who was right beside him cheering him on, fighting for the moderate wing of the Republican Party, it was Kevin McCarthy. He was the Assembly Republican leader at the time.

He was the one who was sucking up to Arnold, who would go to every photo-op possible, kissing up to him. And here we are, 18 years later, and it`s Kevin McCarthy`s Republican Party that is undermining democracy, that is using the recall as yet another chapter in their ongoing saga to try to deconstruct our election process.

And it`s absolutely disgraceful and incredibly hypocritical.

REID: It is, because it`s an attempt, Cornell, to seize power, knowing that it`s going to be minority rule, knowing you do not have the support of the majority of the electorate, because you can`t appeal to them, because your policies are so outright white nationalist that people of color, even people -- look, the Asian American community used to be a swing vote.


It ain`t no more because they have shown themselves to be so white nationalist-leaning that people are like, no, thank you, no matter what, even if all of these nonwhite groups are not aligned.

BARDELLA: You mean calling us the China virus didn`t catch on?

REID: Hello?

So, Cornell, the polls -- I`m afraid almost to show them -- the polls show that it`s going the other direction. It`s going to go toward keeping Gavin Newsom in. Is -- should we be looking at the California election as some sort of bellwether for Democrats going into 2022, or is this a sui generis situation?

BELCHER: You know, it`s a really good question.

But it`s a tough question, because there`s multiple variables. If you go back to early August, and look at the polling data around this, it was fairly evenly split between recall or keep. At no point did recall have a majority.

What you had was a large swathe of the voters who were undecided or, quite frankly, not paying -- not paying attention. And that was the hope of Republicans. That`s how they squeezed by and get in, because, quite frankly, that the large breadth of voters in California are sort of apathetic or not paying attention.

That`s how they win. That`s how they win, quite frankly, midterm elections. I think it was -- I think what you have seen with Larry Elder and in the craziness on the right and the anti-immigration stuff on the right, and their leading candidate talking about slaves perhaps -- slave owners perhaps need reparations...

REID: Come on.

BELCHER: ... I think what they have done is, they have actually energize the progressive base.

REID: Yes.

BELCHER: And I think, if you look at what Vice President Harris did the other day, when she went out there, she began to connect the dots to what`s happening in California to what`s happening more broader with the Republican Party, or Trump`s party...

REID: Yes.

BELCHER: ... their attack on workers rights, their attack on reproductive rights, their attack on women`s issues, and their attack on immigration.

I think she beautifully connected the dots for that sleeping giant of multiracial California voters to what`s happening in California to the bigger picture and that they have to wake up.

REID: Yes, 100 percent.

BELCHER: And I think she did a great job of that. And I think they have helped

REID: I`m the guy who embraced Trayvon Martin`s killer, nobody wants you to be their governor. Dude, nobody is interested in you being anybody`s governor.

I don`t know where you got that or what they had you smoking where you thought that people want you to be their governor. If you were to win, it would be with 12 percent of the vote. Nobody wants you to be their governor, Larry. Go back on the radio.

Cornell Belcher, Kurt Bardella, thank you both very much.

OK, we have got some exciting news to announce tonight. The new REIDOUT blog goes live tomorrow. This will be a digital extension of our show, led by our wonderful writer Ja`han Jones.

Beginning tomorrow, check out daily for Ja`han commentary and reporting on voting rights, extremism, the COVID-19 fallout, and recovery and more. Expect it all. You will also find exclusive Web content that dives into discussions that we have on this show.

So be sure to check it out every single day. It`s going to be great.

Up next: It takes a special kind of forgiveness, or maybe just willful ignorance, to say that you love the hearts of people who really, really, really wanted to lynch you on January 6.

We will be right back.



REID: Despite being a target of the MAGA mob on January 6, former Vice President Mike Pence was caught on camera praising a would-be insurrectionist for embracing the big lie.

In a new video, undercover journalist Lauren Windsor approached Pence and identified herself as someone who had taken part in the insurrection. After some discussion about why he didn`t decertify the election, Pence falsely claimed that there were irregularities in the vote.

Then he said something that`s either the ultimate in Christian charity or just bat-poop bananas.


LAUREN WINDSOR, REPORTER: We were there on January 6, and we were just wondering why you didn`t stop the election from being stolen.


The only authority Congress has is to open and count. Read the Constitution.

WINDSOR: But did you think the election was stolen or not? Because, I mean, we were there fighting for President Trump.

PENCE: I think there were a lot of irregularities that are now being fixed at state levels.


PENCE: But states, you would never want Washington, D.C., to run elections.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Agreed, sir. Very nice to meet you.

PENCE: I love your heart. Thank you.

WINDSOR: Thank you so much.


REID: "I love your heart"?

Pence believe that Windsor was an insurrectionist. And he still praised her for her devotion to the big lie, even though the big lie had him running for his very life, literally.

Hey, Mike, remember when these folks were chanting "Hang Mike Pence?" Remember the gallows they erected on the National Mall? No?


RIOTERS: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!


REID: The big lie inspired them to try to kill you, man. Were their hearts in the right place too?

It`s another sign that a dangerous fallacy is now central to the GOP`s identity. In fact, according to a new CNN poll, nearly six in 10 Republicans say that believing the big lie that Trump actually won the 2020 election is important to being a Republican.

Joining me now is Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He was an impeachment manager earlier this year.

And, Congressman, so, basically, to be a Republican, you have to be opposed to saving your own life from COVID. You have to be -- you have to want to get COVID and open yourself up to it. And you have to believe the big lie. That`s it.

What do you make of Mike Pence, the guy they wanted to hang, and who they would have -- God knows what they would have done to him if they`d gotten their hands on him, the fact that he is like "I love your heart" to somebody who he thinks was a part of that mob?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Well, I don`t love any would-be insurrectionist`s heart, Joy. And I wish our former vice president wouldn`t either.


And it shows the environment we`re in right now, where, when someone like Mike Pence doesn`t believe the cameras are on, he is quite defensive of what he had to do.

However, he also recognized that he`s talking to an insurrectionist. And if he wants to be president, it`s the insurrectionist party now, and he`s going to need their support. But you really can`t have it both ways. And Donald Trump has really proved that by throwing overboard really anyone who has tried to have a foot in the moral clarity lane, and then a foot in the pro-coup lane.

And so this is the problem, Joy.

And taking a step back, I have come to realize that I was quite naive when I first went to Washington. And it was like, when I was a boy and my dad had to have that conversation with me that pro wrestling was not real, that they weren`t really hitting each other with the steel chairs, but they were all in on it.

And that`s what you see right now with so many figures in the Republican Party. When the cameras are not on. They know that it`s batty and it`s crazy, but they do it because they think it`s what the fans around the ring want.

They don`t have constituents. They have fans. The problem, though, that we saw on January 6 is, if the fans think that you are advocating for that truly and that you believe in it, they`re going to do the same thing.

And when you say you`re going to the Capitol, they`re going to follow right along with you. And if you can`t disabuse the -- quote, unquote -- "fans of it," they`re going to keep going along, and it`s going to get more and more violent.

REID: Yes, I used to watch pro wrestling too. I had to have -- like, my auntie Dolly (ph) had to tell me the same thing.

There is a story in "The Guardian" right now. So, among those who are now targets of these requests for records, Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff in the White House. Your thoughts?

SWALWELL: Right. Well, good, because, during the Russia investigation and during the impeachment investigation, Mark Meadows took as many shovels out of the shed that he could find to try and bury evidence to help Donald Trump.

He never once spoke up, again, he was another one where privately he`d want to talk to you, he`d want to joke with you. He`d come and put his hand on my back and backslap with me when the cameras weren`t looking. But when he had to really sing for his supper for Donald Trump...

REID: Perform.

SWALWELL: ... he would sing at the top of his lungs.

REID: Yes.

SWALWELL: And he`s one that knew better, but, again, played to the fans.

And, to me, in Washington, that`s worse than somebody who actually believes in it.

REID: Yes.

SWALWELL: It`s somebody who just wants power and fame, and they`re willing to do anything they think that the fans want.

REID: You just described Kevin McCarthy to a T.

I have to ask you this question, because you`re friends with so many of these Capitol Police officers, and have talked so passionately about the conversations you have had with them, the ones who were heroic on that day.

What do you make of the fact that we now have six police officers, six Capitol Police officers who could now face discipline for taking the wrong side? This includes the guy who took the selfie with some of these insurrectionists, refusing and failure to comply with directives, improper remarks, improper dissemination of information, including directions to get to members of Congress.

SWALWELL: Well, first...


REID: I cannot even imagine what you think of it.

SWALWELL: Let me just flip that and say thank you to the 99 percent of them who did not do that.

REID: Amen.

SWALWELL: Because that`s who we should continue to honor.

But to those who did, they should face the stiffest punishments. And as somebody who comes from a law enforcement family, where my dad`s a cop and my two brothers walk the beat every night, it really concerns me, because we need to know that there is no inside threat, because we already have an inside threat from the pro-coup, pro-insurrectionist members of Congress.

And so if you are able to marry that up with more law enforcement officers, that creates a dangerous environment. But, again, that is such a small amount of people.

What really worries me, though, is, we`re not seeing enough support in the law enforcement community for the January 6 officers. And if you talk to these officers, they look at the message boards across the country, and they see what they`re being called and how they`re being described.

And I wish they were honored just the way we honored the firefighters after September 11, because they truly fought hand-to-hand combat for hours to defend our Capitol and protect life.

REID: Amen.

Former President George H.W. Bush has likened these domestic extremists, who are mainly white nationalist extremists, to al Qaeda. And so, if you`re with them, you`re with the equivalent of al Qaeda. And that comes from the guy who launched this global war on terrorism, not from me.

SWALWELL: That`s right.

REID: George W. Bush said that.

Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much. Appreciate you.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

REID: Tonight`s -- cheers.

Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is still ahead, with important lessons on how not to mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

But, first, a new tell-all book takes us inside the White House on January 6, specifically inside first lady Melania Trump`s office.

Now, I was going to say that you`re not going to believe what we`re learning, but, on second thought, yes, you will totally believe it.


Stay with us.


REID: Melania Trump`s "I really don`t care. Do you?" jacket summed up her tenure as first lady in a nutshell, as someone incredibly concerned with not just her own self-image, but with backing of her husband, Orange Julius Caesar, no matter how dangerous his actions were.

That cold, cavalier attitude is incredibly clear in a new book by her former chief of staff Stephanie Grisham.

According to Politico, Grisham writes that: "On January 6, soon after insurrectionists had broken through barricades outside of the Capitol, Melania Trump received a text message from Grisham: `Do you want to tweet that peaceful protests are the right of every American, but there is no place for lawlessness and violence?` Grisham asked the first lady.`

"A minute later, Melania replied with a one-word answer: `No.` At that moment, she was at the White House preparing for a photo shoot of a rug she had selected."


One reason Melania may not have wanted to condemn the insurrectionists, I don`t know, the rug was just way more important? Or she actually just agreed with them.

Grisham writes that Melania seem to share Donald Trump`s view that the election was rigged. Melania told Grisham that "Something bad happened and that the election results weren`t legitimate."

In a statement to Politico, Melania Trump`s office said -- quote -- "The intent behind this book is obvious. It`s an attempt to redeem herself after a poor performance as press secretary, failed personal relationships and unprofessional behavior in the White House."

That was a below-the-belt reference to Grisham`s relationship with former Trump aide Max Miller, who`s been accused of assaulting her, though he denied it. All the best people.

I`m joined now by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, author of "Melania and Me," and a former senior adviser to Melania Trump.

This feels like a case -- Stephanie, thank you for being here -- of sort of villain vs. villain.

I don`t remember this woman who`s written this book, Stephanie Grisham, being exactly heroic in her role as press secretary. But she sure is telling tales on Melania, isn`t she?


But I have to reserve judgment until I have actually read the book, even though I don`t think there will be any new, novel revelations that I think anyone needs to concern themselves with. We already know Melania doesn`t care. We already know Melania is going to do what Donald says and does.

And I just want to say, I was personally on the front lines with Stephanie Grisham. And she doesn`t hold truth or fact in high regard, so I don`t believe that anything in the book is relevant to truth. And we will see what it says.

REID: And I think that`s fair, given the fact I don`t think she ever even held a press conference when she was supposedly press secretary. Her time was very unmemorable.

But she is backed up at least by some of the things that we know.

So, Kyle Cheney tweeted the following about the timeline of what was happening on January 6.

He tweeted this: "Melania Trump was informed of the violence at the Capitol at least an hour before Trump tweeted his 2:24 p.m. attack on Vice President Pence. It further undercuts the paper thin claim that Trump wasn`t aware that Trump faced -- Pence faced danger."

So it appears that both Trumps knew there was danger going on at the Capitol. So, is it -- is it believable to you that Melania just didn`t give a damn?

WINSTON WOLKOFF: Joy, coming so personally from someone who was inside the White House, had a personal friendship with Melania Trump, who was there to help children, and was there also calling out what was happening, and I wouldn`t go along with the narrative, so Stephanie Grisham actually was the one who -- she was Melania`s henchman to throw me under the bus to the press that I was fired, when I actually wasn`t.

So, the Trumps know everything that`s going on. They`re fully aware of the situation at hand. They remove themselves, they distance themselves a little bit just so somebody else can do their dirty work.

REID: Yes.

You wrote: "It now makes sense to me why Melania kept her chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, around, because she spent her time in office compatibly, speaking to the press and spreading falsehoods about others."

Does Melania Trump care about anything? I mean, obviously, she cared about that rug.


REID: But is there anything that you detected that she actually cares about?

WINSTON WOLKOFF: Joy, I learned a lot being on the inside with her. She was someone that I was friendly with, extremely friendly with, on the outside, when we spent time together not talking about politics or anything having to do with Washington.

REID: Yes.

WINSTON WOLKOFF: She does care about herself and her son and her parents. And that`s a matter of fact.

REID: Yes.

WINSTON WOLKOFF: Beyond that, I really don`t think so.

REID: Wow.

I have to ask you about the Met Gala is -- that`s going on tonight, because I know you were heavily involved in organizing that beautiful event with these phenomenal dresses. We`re going to show some of them now. I think we have Amanda Gorman, Naomi Osaka. I hope that we have Iman, who looked stunning.

But I have this theory that part of the rage you see on the right is their disinclusion from the culture, from the fabulous culture, from the popular culture, because their views are so out of line with where we are as a multiracial, multicultural country. They don`t like it, they hate it, and, therefore, they`re disincluded in it.

Do you think that that -- that that -- does that read as accurate to you, that that`s part of the anger you see on the right, is that they`re not getting invited to this? Javanka, Jared and Ivanka, they ain`t invited to the Met Gala?

WINSTON WOLKOFF: Look, I have a hunch, since Stephanie Grisham was Ivanka`s girl, I think this is Ivanka`s next -- her -- to -- her next steps trying to get into the White House and clear her name a little bit. I really do believe that.

Ivanka is not getting invited to the Met Gala. And it`s something that I produced for 11 years. It was something I was so passionate, something I loved, something I gave up and I miss.

And I have to tell you, it`s all about culture. It`s all about sports, music, entertainment, bringing together the most fabulous, fashionable people that actually have something to say to one another beyond politics, where it is not about the other person. It`s about our country. It`s about humanitarianism.

REID: Yes.

WINSTON WOLKOFF: It`s about charitable giving. And that`s what that the Met is -- really signifies.


REID: Yes.

Can I show the Equal Rights Amendment dress team? There we go. That`s Carolyn Maloney repping the Equal Rights Amendment.

It does some good, right? Can you just -- for those who are not familiar with it, what`s the purpose of this gala?

WINSTON WOLKOFF: This gala is to raise money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It`s charitable giving. It`s of the Anna Wintour Costume Institute. And it`s the only funding that the Costume Institute receives. So, I, having personally been a part of that, felt that I was giving back in such a big way to New York City.

And this is about American designers. This is about our industry. This is about a multibillion-dollar industry that hasn`t seen anything happening for so long, Joy.

REID: Yes.

WINSTON WOLKOFF: So, I`m joyed, actually, to see the red carpet filled tonight.

REID: Yes.

And do you think -- do you see any -- I mean, this is the kind of thing that I think the right would have wanted to see a Melania Trump at. Like, they think of her, despite all of the various inconsistencies in her story, as being this phenomenal first lady. I don`t know why. She never did anything for anyone.

But this is the kind of thing that she ain`t getting into that either, right?



REID: I mean, that ain`t happening. There`s no reason to have her there.


And, again, the way that Anna Wintour orchestrates the Costume Institute benefit evening is about bringing the right people together for the right conversations to do the right thing.

And it`s not just about showing up and putting a beautiful smile on your face and looking beautifully dressed. That is all that Melania brings to the table. And it`s unfortunate, because the world needed a first lady. The world needed for her to step up, say something, do something. And she didn`t.

REID: Yes.

WINSTON WOLKOFF: And so tonight`s representation on the red carpet wouldn`t signify anything that Melania stands for. So, she wouldn`t be invited, and no expectations for her there.

REID: Yes.

And, as the daughter of an immigrant, it was especially sad that she wasted that opportunity, because she could have spoken up for immigrants in this country. And she did not. But she did love that rug, apparently.

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, thank you very much. Much appreciated. OK, thank you.

OK, tonight, President Biden is out West today. He just wrapped the speech in Northern California tying the extreme weather we have seen this summer to the climate crisis and emphasizing the need to address that crisis by spending billions of dollars in the upcoming reconciliation bill.

Earlier today, he attended a briefing at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, on what the administration can do to support firefighters who are working to control this year`s record-breaking wildfire season.

He then went to California, where he attended a briefing on the wildfires ravaging the state and took an aerial tour of the damage caused by the Caldor Fire, which has burned more than 200,000 acres and is only 67 percent contained.

The climate crisis is a global emergency that threatens every single one of us. And we will have more on President Biden`s push to address it tomorrow.

But up next: The 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks showed us the best and, unfortunately the "Absolute Worst" of what America is all about.

Stay with us.



REID: Saturday`s remembrances of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks brought us a display of the best kind of American leadership, as former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton appeared alongside President Biden at the World Trade Center site.

And former President Bush spoke at the memorial in Pennsylvania, where Vice President Harris also delivered remarks. Amid that show of unity, the most recent former president chose the low road, as usual, taping a message criticizing President Biden over Afghanistan and skipping formal ceremonies.

Instead, he appeared at a fire precinct and again violated the solemnity of the day, reracking the usual tunes, claiming the election was rigged and slamming his successor for the second time.

That was before his main event, providing boxing commentary at a Florida casino. Ah, dignity.

But the disgraced former president wasn`t the only right-winger to show their worst on the anniversary. Cue Rudy Giuliani, who has basked in undue praise for doing nothing else besides just basically being mayor on 9/11, like the shout-out he got from his former client congratulating him for the 20th time on the anniversary.

Why are you congratulating him? Rudy milked his America`s mayor image for quite a fortune, until he hooked up with the orange guy and became a humiliated figure, panhandling for cash on social media, and at something he thought was the Four Seasons Hotel, which it wasn`t.

But, on Saturday, Rudy found new and exciting ways to degrade himself, attacking the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, and mocking the nearly 100-year-old Queen Elizabeth.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Or Milley? How is that guy a general? I wanted to grab his stars, shove it down his throat and say, it`s 400 miles from China (EXPLETIVE DELETED)!

She said, you did a wonderful job...


GIULIANI: .. on September 11. And, therefore, I`m making you an honorary night, commander of the royal something or other.


REID: I wish you would. Mark Milley would crush you.

And if that isn`t weird enough, there`s also Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who, friendly reminder, is under scrutiny from the House January 6 select committee.

He was also investigated by the Texas state bar for asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the 2020 election and investigated by the FBI for using his office to benefit a wealthy donor, all while being under indictment for securities fraud for the last six years.

That Ken Paxton took time off from suing Texas school districts over mask mandates to tweet his thoughts, accompanied by a, frankly, tasteless and uncomfortably weird image, a plane careening toward three men, seemingly oblivious, while clutching red cups most often seen at keg parties.

Paxton deleted his tweet Sunday morning amidst a slew of duly earned criticism. But his short-lived crass and inexplicable September 11 message has earned him the dishonor of being tonight`s "Absolute Worst.

And that tonight`s REIDOUT.