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Transcript: The ReidOut, 9/14/21

Guests: Karen Bass, Matthew Dowd, Jonathan Lemire, Rosa Brooks, Alex Padilla, Uche Blackstock


California recall election under way. GOP preparing to label California recall election rigged. Pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell falsely claims voter fraud taking place in California. Exit polls come in from California recall election.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Great to see you. There's really nothing going on, on this end. So I think I'll just do a show. You know it's all quiet out there.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I feel like you might have some news, Joy.

REID: I feel like it's, you know, there's nothing happening. But I'll get -- I'll make something happen for it out. We will see.

MELBER: We will see.

REID: Cheers. Bye. Thank you very much.

All right, good evening, everyone. We have a lot to get to tonight on THE REIDOUT, including some of -- you may have noticed a wee bit of Twitter excitement over some comments I made last night about Nicki Minaj's comments about the vaccine, and we're going to that tonight as well and about misinformation. All of that stuff is coming up in tonight show. I will have more to say about that.

But, first, we are also going to talk about new bombshell reporting from a new book on Donald Trump's final weeks in office. This one is pretty crazy, because it's Donald Trump and members of his administration who were concerned he actually might spark a war in order to try and stay in office. We're going to get to that too.

But we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the California recall election. Results are coming in very shortly. Polls actually close a little later on this hour. And we are also going to get to some exit polling information that we have available. So we're going to get to that as well.

This is actually the sixth time that Gavin Newsom was trying to be recalled. Apparently, that is a theme on the right. And, of course, the other theme that they have been working on is the idea that they can't lose elections, that when they lose elections, they actually still win. They win elections whether or not they actually are counted the winner in the results. And we're going to talk about that tonight.

But I want to just go ahead and bring in our panel. Karen Bass, who is a Democratic member of the House of Representatives on the Judiciary Committee, Matthew Dowd, who is a Founder of Country over Party, the author of Revelations on the River, Being a Profit for Your Own Path, and Jacob Soboroff, who's joining us live from San Francisco, he is our MSNBC Correspondent and the Author of Separated inside an American Tragedy.

So, let's start with just talking about this election, Congresswoman Bass. The exit polls will be coming in shortly. We're going to read what we have of those exit polls. We don't have all of it but we're going to give our audience what we've got. How are you feeling going into tonight?

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Well, I'm feeling good. You know, I think in the last couple of months and especially the last few weeks, momentum has picked up on the Democratic side. I think for a long time, you know, people didn't really think this was going to happen considering it is the sixth attempt.

But, you know, Joy, there are over 60 recalls happening in our state on every level of government. So, once we defeat the recall today, I think we need to take a step back and see if there's something bigger at play.

REID: Well, what's bigger at play, Matthew, I think, is this theme among Republicans that it actually isn't possible for them to lose elections, that whenever they lose, they are just going to say in advance, if they feel a loss is coming, that it's rigged, and that if they actually lose, it was definitely rigged and it was definitely fraud, which is a convenient way to then turn around and say, well, the fraud happened among black and brown voters, therefore, we need to disenfranchise them. I feel like that is a theme that's playing out, especially in a state that's already majority non-white. And so this is a state where they're not going to win a lot of elections.

MATTHEW DOWD, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Well, Joy, every single thing they are doing shows a belief that they don't trust or believe in democracy. That's what all of this is about. Everything we have seen has been about this. Because whether it's only appealing to 5 percent of the country in trying to force all the things through like here in Texas or other places where only 5 percent of the country is all they care about, or it's lying about everything, including election results, and so they don't actually believe in the will of the people and that democracy actually works because if they vote against the Republicans, then, therefore, they're going to corrupt the process and say it's all fraudulent, or they want to restrict people's voting rights and so they don't have universal suffrage in a manner.

And so what it all is about to me, and that's why I think the choice in America today isn't between a red and blue, it's between a party that believes in democracy still and has their disputes and has their different disagreements, which is the Democrats, and a party that fundamentally does not believe in democracy. They do not believe that all people should be represented at the voting booth and that all votes should be counted. They don't believe in that anymore.

REID: Yes. Well, Paul Weyrich said that decades ago. I don't want everybody to vote, right. Because if everybody votes, we are not going to necessarily to win. We just want only our people to vote. And I think that's a sort of natural sort of political instinct to be afraid that the other people will vote you out.

But this different, Matthew, just to stay with you for a moment. This is different. This is engineering ways in which not just not wanting people to vote, but making it so hard for them to vote that they cannot vote you out when you are doing things that the majority doesn't want. It's about being able to implement very unpopular, unwanted policies because the people -- the voters cannot remove you.


DOWD: Well, Joy, you and I have had this conversation before. And I think that's the fundamental nature of this, which is, is Republicans do not want to be held accountable. They know what they're doing in their heart is not what the American people want. They know they're not confronting the problems in America. They know they are pushing this culture war that the vast majority of the country doesn't want. So what's their solution to that?

The only mechanism the American public has to put their voice -- voice their will is the vote. And what they're now doing is we're doing so many unpopular things and so many things that are detrimental to the country. Boy, we don't want to be held accountable. What do we do? We either want keep people from voting that we don't want to vote or, two, when we lose elections, lie and dispute the election results. They do not want to be held accountable.

REID: Yes, indeed. And, Jacob, you had a chance to talk with the leading candidate, Larry Elder, the right-wing radio host. You tried. We played it last night. We had to like chop it up because it took so long five times to get him to say he would simply respect the results of the election. I don't think he ever actually answered your question. But you also got a chance to ask the current governor about what Larry Elder did last night. What did he say to you?

JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, that Republicans, Joy, are not respecting democracy in any way, shape or form led by Larry Elder here in California, but part and parcel of the Trump strategy that we saw after the November election. And, by the way, I saw that personally. This reminded me, speaking with Larry Elder, of what I saw on the day after the 2020 presidential election when I was in Las Vegas and Adam Laxalt and Matt Schlapp and Ric Grenell literally ran away from us reporters as we asked them for any shred of evidence, whatsoever, to prove their claims about election fraud in Nevada.

Of course, they never answered that question. Larry Elder never answered my question. And Governor Newsom had a much easier time today answering that question when I posed the same question to him. He said, full stop, period, whether I win or lose, I will accept the results of the election. And it all goes to show that democracy is not what's on the table here for Republicans. There are many very serious issues to talk about in California. The Congresswoman knows this just as well as I do. The income inequality is out of control in California, homelessness is out of control in California, COVID was very hard hit here in California, we have wildfires driven by climate change. None of those things are things that Larry Elder wants to talk about. He wants to talk about not accepting the results of the election.

REID: Yes. And, Congresswoman Bass, let's talk about some of the other characters involved, because one of the things -- I think one of the strategies that may have been successful, we don't know the results of the election yet for the governor, is to tie Larry Elder and the right and the people who are pushing this recall directly to Donald Trump and -- I mean, Larry Elder kind of made it easy for them.

Among those other people who sort of fit into that new you (ph) are people like Sidney Powell, the lawyer --- this was the release the kraken lawyer. Here she is on something called the Truth and Liberty Coalition. I don't know what that is. It sounds like it's in a movie but here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what do you think is going to happen in this election tomorrow in California, the recall? Is that going to be marred by voter fraud or should we --

SIDNEY POWELL, PRO-TRUMP LAWYER: Yes, it already is. In at least one county, it has been reported to me that approximately 70 percent of the people who showed up to vote have been told their votes had already been counted, that they had already voted. That wasn't true at all. So, the same thing is happening there that happened already.


REID: Congresswoman, is it not true that every single California -- eligible California voter received a mail-in ballot and that if you received a mail-in ballot and you mailed it back and then you show up and try to vote, you will be told you already voted? Am I wrong about that?

BASS: Right. I mean, it is ridiculous to think that 70 percent of the people that she referred to, one of the things that is happening since last year is we don't have a lot of people showing up to vote in person. Why? Because we have extended democracy to every eligible voter, so it is very easy to vote. But I think that sowing the seeds of doubt in our election process, the fact that there is recalls going on in every level of government, Joy, I think we need to examine whether or not this is a strategy to essentially grind government to a halt.

Larry Elder has already started a website talking about voter fraud. But in the black community, I think he really energized black voters we are real familiar with Larry Elder. He has been around for a couple of decades. And he has spent his career attacking civil rights leaders and other black leaders.

So, I think he was helpful in terms of making sure that we turn in those ballots and defeat this recall.

REID: Yes. He is a big fan apparently of Stephen Miller and also George Zimmerman, the man who killed Trayvon Martin.


He's a big fan of him as well. Not really sure that was good for you within black voters.

But let's look at some of these exit poll numbers that we are just now getting out. The most important issue per the exit polls in the state of California, not surprisingly, is the coronavirus. Homelessness is number two, then economy, wildfires and crime.

Among recall voters, 32 percent have said that Gavin Newsom's coronavirus policies are too strict and 17 percent 17 percent said they are not enough and 45 percent, Congresswoman, say that they are about right. If you add those two, I'm not a math genius, that's like 62 percent. I mean, that's the vast majority want there to be strict coronavirus rules.

And among California recall voters, 34 percent say that getting the vaccine is a personal choice and 63 percent say it's a public health responsibility. Congresswoman, do those numbers surprise you?

BASS: Right, absolutely, they don't. I mean, I think that one of the things that we did well in the state, and we were on the forefront of really trying to bring the pandemic under control.

Now, nobody anticipated the delta virus. So, I think that that threw things off. But the other thing that I might mention is that this election is costing over $200 million. Now, you know the governor is up for re-election in just a few months. The next election is June. If you didn't like the governor, then just vote him out of office in the normal cycle. So, considering all of those problems that were mentioned, just think of the money being completely wasted on this recall and all the other recalls throughout our state.

REID: Jacob, I have got to ask you about that. Have politicians you talked to around this recall thought maybe it's time to rethink this process? Because there have been multiple gubernatorial recalls. It's kind of a thing in California. Are Democrats thinking about maybe changing it?

SOBOROFF: There's no doubt about it and those conversations have already started. We are talking about $276 million spent on this off-year recall election when there's going to be another gubernatorial election next year in 2022. It's almost preposterous to think about how much money is being spent on this so close to an opportunity for all Californians to either vote Gavin Newsom in and Gavin Newsom out. And look at all of those issues, Joy, that are up on the screen right now.

Those are the things that Californians want to be talking about. They don't want to talking about non-existent, ridiculous conversations about whether or not the election is valid. Take it from me, I went inside the Los Angeles County mail-in ballot processing center where the largest election jurisdiction not just in California but in the entire United States of America. They check every single signature that goes into that facility. If there's any abnormality, they check it manually. There are 600 or 700 workers inside those facilities. It's no surprise that people in California are fed up with the process. They are starting to talk about what to do with the recall process. And I wouldn't be surprised if we saw some deviations from the way it works now.

REID: Indeed. It might be helpful.

Matthew, in some ways, California, in many ways, is the future of America. It's what America is going to look like. It's a multi-racial democracy. It's an expanding democracy. It's an increasingly pluralistic democracy, where the leadership cares about things, like climate change, where people care about health care and they care about COVID.

What's not on that poll, Matthew, is immigration. And Republicans have -- they have put all of their kind of chips in the idea that they're going to do immigration scare and they're going to do COVID denialism. This poll, to me, is not good news for what they're trying to pull off.

DOWD: Well, no. And this poll doesn't -- and we don't know what's going to happen tonight. But just by those results from the exit poll, it shows more people showed up at the polls and voted early that wanted more either -- the same restrictions or more restrictions on this.

One of the things, as you showed those numbers, I was struck by in the poll is even in California, even in the progressive state, there is a third of the state that doesn't care, that doesn't fundamentally care. I mean, Donald Trump got a third of the vote in California, which is a very progressive state. But it reminds me about our history.

And keep this in mind. A third of the country, as the country is fundamentally change and we try to advance and we try to transform ourselves, has always been opposed. A third of the country didn't want the American Revolution. A third of the country wanted to keep slavery in place. A third of the country didn't want women to have the right to vote. A third of the country was vehemently opposed to civil rights. So, every tap along the way, we have to keep in mind as we transform to a more multi- cultural, diverse democracy, there is a -- and even one that wants to base things on science, there is a third of the country that fundamentally does not want to change, and it has been happening for 240 years.

REID: Yes, absolutely. And we need to make sure that that third of the country doesn't do what 15 percent of South Africa did and rule because they deleted democracy and were able to rule as a minority.


That's what we have to keep an eye out for, defend our democracy from that third.

Congresswoman Karen Bass, Matthew Dowd, Jacob Soboroff, thank you all very much.

Still ahead on THE REIDOUT, new revelations about the lengths U.S. military commanders went to to keep the twice impeached former president from starting a nuclear war.

Plus, can the Democrats come up with a new compromise proposal on voting rights? Senator Manchin says he can get ten Republicans to sign on. No, really, that's what he says.

And the far reaching impact of vaccine hesitancy, especially among black Americans, Rapper Nicki Minaj had choice words for me on Twitter last night. I welcome the dialogue. You don't want to miss it.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: Launch a strike on China, including days after the siege on the Capitol, on January 8.

Milley also convened a meeting with top commanders to review the procedures for a nuclear weapons launch. According to the book, Milley told the group, in part: "No matter what you are told you do the procedure. You do the process, and I'm part of that procedure.' Then he went around the room, asking each officer for confirmation they understood, looking each in the eye. 'Got it?' Milley asked. 'Yes, sir.' 'Got it?' he asked another. 'Yes, sir.' Milley considered it an oath."

That is chilling.

The book also relays a conversation between Milley and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that same day. Speaker Pelosi said: "He's crazy. You know he's crazy."

"Madam Speaker," Milley said, "I agree with you on everything."

Now, if that's not scary enough, despite assumptions that former Vice President Mike Pence stood up for the Constitution, it appears he was more open to abetting his former boss' big lie that we ever heard before, talking through his struggles with former vice president Dan Quayle, who noted there was no evidence of fraud.

"Well, there's some stuff out in Arizona," Pence said, "to which Quayle replied: "Mike, I live in Arizona. There's nothing out here."

Ultimately realizing he had no choice, Pence told the former president, told the president, former president, as much during a January 5 Oval Office meeting, that he couldn't do anything about the election.

And Trump replied: "I don't want to be your friend anymore if you don't do this."

Now, that sounds like a fourth grader. He said something similar blasting House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy after Kevin blamed him for the insurrection, reportedly saying: "This guy called me every single day pretending to be my best friend. And then he F'ed me."

With me now is Rosa Brooks, former Defense Department official and Georgetown University law professor, and Jonathan Lemire, White House reporter for the Associated Press.

Jonathan, I have to go to you on this first.

This sort of toggles between sounding like a conversation a fourth grader had about somebody he thought was his best friend and literal fear that we were about to be in a nuclear war.

Any commentary out of the former president's camp about this book so far, because this stuff is scary?

JONATHAN LEMIRE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, first of all, I'd like to note that Dan Quayle is an unlikely savior of republic, it would appear, as that conversation...

REID: Can't spell potato, but he can spell democracy, apparently.


LEMIRE: Clearly.

As that conversation with Mike Pence, a fellow Indiana Republican, was seen as influential in making Pence say to former President Trump that he could not in fact do anything about the certification of Joe Biden's victory on January 6.

Now, just in the last few minutes, Joy, the former president released a statement denying basically all charges in this book, the excerpts that we have seen so far -- the book itself is not out for another week -- saying that he never had any intention to have any sort of attack with China. He criticized Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff Milley.

He said that -- he denied elements of this conversation with Mike Pence, basically, a blanket denial and accused the book of being fiction. But we, of course, should note here that the two journalists involved are top- notch.

And it is. It's sort of a dramatic telling of some of the final days of the Trump administration, with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Milley talking to his Chinese counterpart, not once, but twice, once a few days before the election, and then twice -- the second time a little bit after the insurrection, trying to tell the Chinese that, look, we have established a rapport here, you and I, his counterpart, saying nothing's going to happen. We're not going to go to war. And if something were to suddenly occur at our end, I would be sure personally to give you a heads- up, so we can judge or deal with this together.

That revelation there, as a final point, is also being met with criticism from other Republicans today here in Washington, Senator Cruz and others suggesting that's almost traitorous behavior from Milley to talk to the Chinese like that. And, in fact, Senator Rubio called for Joe Biden to fire him.

REID: Yes, OK. Good luck with that, because he seems to be the greatest patriot that was on duty during the previous administration.

Rosa, let me go to you on this. This is another excerpt.

This is General Milley, again, who I have to say is emerging as a pretty important and heroic American figure in this era.

Milley reportedly told his counterpart: "This may look unsteady, but that's the nature of democracy." And this is him talking with General -- with Chinese General Li.

"General Li," he says, "we are 100 percent steady, everything's fine but democracy can be sloppy sometimes."

That might be the understatement of the year.


Milley had a low moment in his term walking behind Donald Trump when he went to hold a Bible to pretend that he'd ever held a Bible before. And he walked along with that. And, apparently, that reportedly influenced General Milley's belief that Trump would engage in a wag the dog scenario provoking a conflict.

That was not a great moment for him, but it apparently was an instructive one.

Your thoughts on all of this?


I think General Milley was quite clear. After he faced a lot of criticism for that, he came out and said: I was wrong. I shouldn't have done that. I didn't realize. I shouldn't have done it.

And he really learned from that, I think. He issued a very clear statement before the election. He said the military is not going to get involved in politics. It doesn't get involved in politics. It shouldn't get involved in politics.

And I think that also was essentially a warning to President Trump: Don't try to use the military to stay in power. That's not our role. That's not our job.

The military has a duty to obey lawful orders, but a duty to disobey unlawful orders. And I think we were in a situation that puts any ethical military leader in a really tough spot, where you want to obey your commander in chief, but you have a commander in chief who's made it quite clear that he is willing to violate the law.

And I can understand why Milley felt like, we all need to be alert to that possibility, and if there are orders given that are not lawful, we don't obey them, because our higher duty is to the Constitution, not to the president.

REID: I mean, Rosa, am I the only one that looks at the sort of collective story of Donald Trump's behavior in office and thinks that, as he was getting older and watching the old Soviet Union and then watching Russia emerge as the autocracy it is, he didn't get horrified, he got ideas?

This feels like a story about a crumbling Eastern European dictatorship or something, rather than the United States, like he's trying to emulate sort of Putinism.

BROOKS: He wasn't even shy about admitting that. I mean, he came right out and said it, said, ooh, it would be convenient if I could just get rid of people. He made a crack along those lines at one point.

And then, when he was called on that by journalists, he said, oh, I was just joking.

And we know that President Trump's jokes very often ended up presaging things he actually tried to do. He joked repeatedly about staying in office. He joked repeatedly that if the election didn't go his way, he was going to stay, et cetera. And that's exactly what he tried to do.

I think, no question about it, have any example of horrific anti-democratic behavior in the world, and gave President Trump ideas.

REID: Yes, it seems that.

Jonathan Lemire, beyond the B.S. of saying that Mark Milley should be fired, which, yes, good luck with that, again, any behind-the-scenes discomfort among Republicans about this kind of behavior? Any at all?

LEMIRE: Well, Joy, as you know, there haven't been that many Republicans who have been willing to criticize the former president, whether in or out of office.

Today, since the release of these -- this book, there has not been much in the way of any on-the-record condemnation. In fact, the Republicans we have heard from are targeting their criticism on General Milley, nothing on the former president. They seem to be going along with his denials, at least to this point.

Some behind-the scenes reporting suggests some worry, but less about Trump's behavior than more about what it could mean for the future, the relationship there with minority Leader McCarthy, one who indeed has believed to have been close with the president throughout his time in office.

We know that the foreign president was angry with McCarthy after McCarthy condemned the insurrection and blamed Trump in part for what happened, but they have since kissed and made up. We have seen McCarthy down at Mar-a- Lago more than once talking to the former president.

So it's unclear whether or not Trump will still be angry at McCarthy. And if he is, that endangers McCarthy's ability to become speaker again next year if the Republicans do regain control of the House, because certainly there aren't going to be any Republicans ruling defy Trump, go against his wishes.

And I should also note the White House, the current White House, the White House I'm standing in front of, Joe Biden's White House, has so far declined to comment on the contents of this book. We expect to hear from them more on it in the days ahead.

REID: That would be poetic justice for Kevin. And, also, Trump is never going to let him braid his hair anymore if they're not best friends anymore.

It's a weird world we live in. We're living in the nightmare.

Rosa Brooks, Jonathan Lemire, thank you very much. Thank you both.

Still ahead: Senator Joe Manchin says that he can get 10 reasonable Republicans to vote for a new compromise proposal on voting rights. I can hardly say that without laughing.

We will take a quick break, and I will try to come up with the names of 10 reasonable Republicans. I will try my best.

We will be right back.



REID: Senate Democrats released their new voting bill today after reaching a compromise with Joe Manchin, who's been holding Democratic priorities hostage.

Though it doesn't go as far as the For the People Act and includes some concessions for Manchin, the bill is fairly substantial. It would make Election Day a holiday and provide same-day voter registration. It would also expand early voting, allow all voters to request mail-in ballots and banned gerrymandering. But, on the downside, it would also codify voter I.D. schemes as a means to -- quote -- "increase confidence in election integrity," very Republican language.

But here's the thing. It has almost zero chance of passing the Senate. Now that he's struck a deal with Democrats, it is up to Joe Manchin to get 10 Republicans to join him. And he doesn't seem to have a plan beyond them being his friend.


QUESTION: So, what's your pitch to Republicans, though?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Well, they have all -- I have had -- Lisa Murkowski and I have had good conversations. I have had conversations with an awful lot of my Republican friends. So, they're very interested in talking about it. So, that's a...


QUESTION: But what's your pitch to Republicans who have said that this is a federal takeover of elections? They don't want to do this. What is it -- what are you telling Republicans?

MANCHIN: I'm talking to reasonable Republicans and friends of mine who understand that we need guardrails.


REID: To no one's surprise, Mitch McConnell said today that he expects zero Republicans to vote for the bill.

Now, on that, he and I actually agree. The bill's failure would once again bring up the issue of the filibuster. According to an AP White House reporter, Jonathan -- AP White House reporter Jonathan Lemire, who we just saw on the show a little while ago, there is growing momentum in the White House to work with senators on making some sort of change to the filibuster.

I'm joined now by California Democratic Senator Alex Padilla. He's a co- sponsor of the Freedom to Vote Act.

Let's start with those reasonable Republicans.

Can you name 10 for me who you think would vote for this bill?

SEN. ALEX PADILLA (D-CA): Look, I'm not going to try to go through the exercise of naming 10, because, frankly, I think all 50 should be on board.


Joy, you know I have been in the middle of this debate and discussion since I got here in January. And if it's one thing I keep hearing from Republicans, it's they're so committed to making it easier to vote and harder to cheat.

We know it's hard to cheat because voter fraud in America is exceedingly rare. So, they want to make it easier to vote, if they're genuine and honest about that, here is that plan, multiple options for registering to vote, staying registered to vote and actually casting your ballot.

REID: But should and is are two different things, right?

I mean, Republicans have made it very clear that they believe -- they suddenly have come to believe that mail-in voting is inherently fraudulent, since black people and brown people started using it. Suddenly -- and it's the way they used to vote. But now they're like, no, you can't have mail- in.

So that's in this bill. Just that alone means there's no way they're going to do it. So what would be the point of compromising on codifying voter I.D., basically making voter I.D. a thing that you could then go to court in theory -- they could go to court one day and say, well, this bill says that voter I.D. is the way that you make people feel more confident in voting.

So, why give that away, if none of them are going to go for a bill that lets people vote by mail? They're never going to do that.

PADILLA: Well, a few things.

And, first, a very important clarification. There is a segment of this bill that speaks to voter I.D., but it is not a national voter I.D. mandate. States like California, my home state, that don't have a voter I.D., won't have to impose one.

But it does -- what this bill does do is say, for states that choose a voter I.D., it has to be expansive and inclusive of many, many types of identification, not just your concealed weapons permit or something very limited that leaves out seniors, leaves out students, et cetera. But states that don't have voter I.D. are not required to adopt it.

Second, a lot of the reforms here that -- are not just ideas that we hope work. But, tonight, there's a recall election in California for a special stand-alone election in an odd year. We're seeing pretty damn good participation rates because the reforms called for in the Freedom to Vote Act have been implemented in California, the automatic registration, same- day registration, no-excuse vote-by-mail.

So, if just look at the facts, if you look at the statistics, these reforms are great for participation and transparency, security and integrity of elections.

REID: But I think that the point that you just made about your home state, respectfully, Senator, are what prove my point, that they're not going to go for this.

Republicans are going to lose this recall, which they know is the only way that they can elect a far right-wing, Ron DeSantis-style governor, which is what they want to do in every state. They know they can't do it because California is racially diverse, because California is progressive.

Californians actually care about COVID and want to stop COVID. They don't want to let COVID in and throw it all on the cruise ships. That's just going to reinforce for all of these Republicans that there's no way they should let this through.

So, aren't we back down to having a conversation there? AP is reporting and Politico was reporting that there's been some conversation that even Manchin and Sinema, who've been wrapping their arms around the filibuster like it's life -- it's their lifeboat, that there may be some attempt to reform the filibuster, because that -- isn't that really the only way this is going to pass, get rid of it or reform it.

PADILLA: That's what it's going to boil down to, right?

The crossroads are now 10 Republicans to step up and do the right thing or, short of that, redo, undo these outdated rules in the United States Senate for the sake of our democracy, and, yes, in time for the 2022 elections.

REID: And let me show, just for our audience, just to remind you all, just this is the Brennan Center's states; 18 states have passed 30 new laws, anti-voter laws, where -- and they're in a lot of the usual suspects states, just where you would expect, particularly in the old Confederate states; 400-plus restrictive voting provisions have been introduced in 49 states.

And Republicans already control most of the gerrymandering opportunities. Republicans control 187 districts. Democrats only control 75. We are headed toward minority rule, Senator. And Republicans want minority rule.

So I will just rerack my question again. Why waste the time to allow Joe Manchin to do this pantomime of pretending he can get 10 Republicans, when both of us are rational enough to understand that he cannot? Why not just proceed directly to getting rid of the filibuster?

PADILLA: Look, I think this is the process of getting to the point where Republicans cannot have it both ways.

They cannot insist that changes to election law at the federal level has to be done on a bipartisan basis, while they are complicit with partisan attacks on our right to vote in statehouse after statehouse across America.


And we need every Democrat to acknowledge that and have the gumption to change rules, if we need to, for the sake of our democracy.

REID: I hope that that is the outcome.

Thank you very much, Senator Alex Padilla. Really appreciate your time tonight.

PADILLA: Thank you.

REID: All right, still ahead -- thank you.

All it took was one tweet from Nicki Minaj to her 22 million followers to start up a whole boatload of controversy about the spread of vaccine misinformation, especially in black communities.

We will respond with just the facts next on THE REIDOUT. Stay with us.


REID: OK, so, yesterday I had a spontaneous reaction to hip-hop star Nicki Minaj tweeting about a friend of a cousin in Trinidad who allegedly had a negative reaction to a COVID vaccine that's some folks pointed out sounded kind of like an STD.


But I'm not a doctor, so I digress.

Essentially, she made public her own vaccine deliberation, which, according to trusted friends, is a better way to describe vaccine hesitancy, which, by the way, is not the same thing as refusal.

But, by doing so, Nicki also used her social media platform and her 22 million Twitter followers to cast doubt on the vaccine to a heavily black audience.

Needless to say, both my comments and her series of infuriated responses went viral. Clearly, Nicki was not amused. But that's OK. I feel like every moment is a teachable moment. And this might be the one that illustrates on Twitter in public how hard it is for us to talk to each other on these two sides of the get the vax/don't get the vax aisle.

There's a lot of frustration and anger among those of us who feel like we have been doing the right things to try to end this damn virus, and those who are just plain not doing the things, and those who are not getting vaccinated are mad at us for excluding them from our spaces, and, in some cases, from our lives. So there's a lot of anger out there.

What disturbs me are those who care nothing about black communities, and who are actually hostile to our interests. I'm talking white nationalist curious Twitter bugs and chatter bugs like Tuckums comes and Marjorie Greene and Candace Owens, who leapt out to try to scoop up Nicki and put her on their team, using her vaccine misinformation to try to back up their own phony campaigns pushing their base to reject the vaccines, while they're probably fully vaccinated themselves.

These are the same Republicans and Republican talkers who've been working overtime to try to put vaccine refusal on black people's shoulders, to try to morph vaccine mandate into some airborne virus version of 1950s segregation, as if they would have opposed segregation if they'd been around back then.

It's not only disingenuous. It's also anti-facts. The data is clear that it is Republicans and, more specifically, Republicans who listen to FOX News and people like Tuckums and Margie and Candace, who are the majority of those refusing to be vaccinated.

Black Americans are overwhelmingly Democrats, and we poll like Democrats when it comes to our willingness to get the vaccine. So we are not the problem.

But, that said, Nicki's tweets point out a very real thing. There is still a lot of vaccine hesitancy among black folks, everything from just being reluctant or fear of potential side effects all the way up to conspiracy theories about the vaccines, that are causing people to refuse to take them or just delay.

And that needs to be addressed. Let's be clear. There are good, solid reasons for black people to have these doubts. Our history in this country when it comes to the medical and medical research establishment are not good.

And when we had a sociopath president in office who was manipulating the CDC and the FDA, pushing for a quickie vaccine by Election Day, so that he could assure his own reelection, you could count me among the hesitant.

Trump nearly broke the once-trusted CDC and the FDA, to the point where you couldn't be sure that you were hearing from the scientists and not just the political hacks when either agency spoke. And so, yes, people like me were real hesitant.

But, luckily, there have been doctors and scientists who could reassure those of us who were willing to be reassured that the vaccines, once they came out months later, were indeed safe, and had been produced without any Trumpist input, whether or not they came through the unfortunately named Operation Warp Speed.

We didn't have to do our own research, because we could literally talk with the black woman, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, who developed the Moderna vaccine, or with doctors on this very show who personally treat COVID patients and could assure us that the vaccines are safe.

That's why I got vaccinated months ago, and my immediate family got vaccinated. And, yes, I talked to my doctor, something that, by the way, lots of black folks who live in red Southern states that have refused to expand Medicaid cannot do because they don't have a doctor or regular contact with the medical establishment in their states until they get sick.

Vaccine hesitancy in the black community is a real and pressing issue. It's not something to fight about on Twitter. It's something to talk about.

And coming up next, we're going to do just that with Dr. Uche Blackstock.

Don't go anywhere.



REID: There's a tried-and-true tactic deployed by the right when it comes to, well, any problem facing the United States, and that's blaming the black people.


BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS: When the president of the United States is losing patience, he's losing patience with Ph.D.s. They are one of the largest section of people who aren't getting the shot, medical workers, as well as African-Americans, because only four out of 10 have gotten the shot.

Why doesn't the president call out African-Americans who put him in office and yell at them to get the shot?


REID: OK, so, like, yes, vaccine hesitancy is an issue in the black and people of color communities.

A recent CNN poll shows 22 percent of black Americans say that they will not get vaccinated, the same as overall -- as the overall national average.

But among Republicans, well, that number was 35 percent.

Joining me now is Dr. Uche Blackstock, founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity.

Thank you so much for being here, sister. I appreciate you being here.


REID: So, let's start.

You responded to Nicki's tweet, because the thing I think that -- it's wasn't the first tweet so much, where she said her own kind of connection to getting the vaccine had to do with working, which, for a lot of people, the mandates are why they're going to do it.


REID: It was that second tweet where she said, a friend of a friend of a friend somehow wound up with impotence -- like impotence-related problems.

And you tweeted: "Nicki, I'd love to talk with you about the COVID vaccine. Impotence is significantly more likely from COVID. And there have been no documented cases of impotence associated with the COVID vaccine."

I can tell you that, even among vaccine-hesitant people that I know and argue with, that is one of the things they say, that it'll make you infertile, it'll make you impotent, it'll cause -- are there any instances of these kinds of things happening from the vaccine?

BLACKSTOCK: Well, thank you so much for having me, Joy.

And the fertility myths are just -- they won't go away. They're very sexy. They're very seductive. And they have been associated with vaccines in the past, and they are now again with the COVID vaccine.

And so what's unfortunate is that it keeps on being perpetuated, despite growing evidence that there is no associate -- no known association between the COVID vaccine and impotence or infertility in females or males at all.


REID: Yes.

And I think the Nicki tweet hit me personally a little bit more, partly because I'm a big fan of her music. I have a lot of it in my phone, but also because she is Caribbean American, like myself and like yourself.


REID: And I know that I'm fighting with Caribbean American members of my own family who, even when they're not in the United States, are getting this crazy disinformation.

And we're in multiple countries, like, arguing with people. My godmother is in Jamaica right now and is terrified, because she doesn't know who's vaccinated around her. And people are refusing to get it that she's associated with, and she's had to push them away.

And let's just look at the vaccine rates. In the United States, we're at 54 percent, which is not bad. But in the Caribbean, it's like really, really low. Trinidad is only at 32 percent. Jamaica is only at 6 percent, the country. She's talking about Trinidad. These Caribbean islands are much more at risk of dying from COVID because they can't even get access to the vaccine.

That frustrates me.


REID: Does it frustrate you?

BLACKSTOCK: Yes, that's very frustrating.

And I'm a Nicki fan. And I also have a lot of Caribbean relatives that were also hesitant about taking the vaccine. Interestingly, my Jamaican father was the first in line to get the vaccine, because I'm his daughter, and we had multiple conversations about the importance of him taking the vaccine to keeping him safe.

But I think my concern with Nicki's tweet is -- and it sounds like she was sort of thinking out loud about the vaccine, but to put that information out there with the platform that she has, it's harmful.

REID: Yes.

BLACKSTOCK: It's dangerous.

And so...

REID: But what is it -- can you tell me a better way to have this conversation with people who are vaccine-hesitant?

When you confront people who are hesitant, what is a way to talk to them, not the refusers, not the Republicans who are like...


REID: ... Trump is my God, I'm never getting the vaccine, but people in our communities that are just nervous about it? What do you say to them?

BLACKSTOCK: Well, you know what? Everyone has their own whys and why-nots. I ask them, what is the reason for you that makes you concerned? What have you heard? Where did you get this information from?

Because that's the other thing. People are getting information from unreliable sources. They're getting information from their hairstylist, from their barber. They're not getting it from the public health professionals. They're not getting it from the physicians.

But I also try to come from -- I try to be as nonjudgmental as possible. Even though it's incredibly frustrating, I always want to make sure we're keeping the lines of communication open.

And I also realized that I may not change their mind with one conversation. We may need multiple conversations. But what's most important is making sure that they have accurate, responsible messaging, that they have the facts.

So, for example, like with fertility, there's no data, there's no data at all out there showing that the COVID vaccine negatively impacts male or female fertility. In fact, what we know about COVID is that COVID has been associated with impotence. COVID infections has been associated with erectile dysfunction, and COVID infections in pregnant people leads to increase hospitalization and deaths for pregnant mothers and pre-term delivery.

So we have to make sure that we are getting that information out there to the public, because there's a disconnect between what COVID can do and what the COVID vaccine can do.

REID: Yes.

You know, and I did a recent pro-vaccine event, trying to encourage people to come and get vaccinated at Melba's with my friend Melba Wilson.


REID: And a lot of people who came up were just actually -- they were just actually terrified. There was a woman who wept.

We took her in. We had to hold her hands and pray with her because she was so terrified of the vaccine. But she did it.


REID: And she was proud of herself afterwards.

But one of my other big issues with the vaccine hesitancy, particularly that's directed at us and the disinformation directed at us, it's being done when half of black Americans still live in the South, where most of those states have not expanded Medicaid.

And so if I'm a person that has lots of money, and I can afford to, say, be skeptical about the vaccine, the people who hear that probably don't have a doctor, don't have access to health care, can't ask their doctor, and God help them if they get sick. They're going to die.

I have got enough money and good insurance where I could probably survive.


REID: That bothers me.


Yes. And, Joy, that's such an excellent point, and even more so why we need black celebrities, musicians, athletes, really I think to be speaking out more in favor of the vaccine than they have done.

I have been -- personally been incredibly disappointed by the silence among black celebrities about the importance of taking this vaccine, because we know that even putting out some degree of misinformation, their base, people -- their fans are people who are in the rural South, like you said, people who don't have access to health care, people who don't have access to good public health.

REID: Yes.

BLACKSTOCK: And so they are much more vulnerable, which makes it even more potentially dangerous to put out that information.

REID: Indeed.

Dr. Uche Blackstock, thank you so much for being here and having this conversation with me. I really, really appreciate you.

That is tonight's REIDOUT.

By the way, don't forget to check out the all-new REIDOUT blog. Ja'han takes on the cast of unhinged challengers in the California recall and breaks down the right-wing hero worship for anti-vaxxers.