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Transcript: The ReidOut, 9/17/21

Guests: Olivia Troye, Keith Boykin, Eric Holder, James Whitfield, David Henderson


Ohio Representative won`t seek re-election, blames toxic GOP. D.C. preps for pro-insurrectionist rally. D.C. rally organizer cashing in on the big lie. D.C. rally organizer brought golden Trump statue to CPAC. Boykin say GOP being devoured by monster they created.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: But I want to see a Jason Johnson show. That`s what I`m thinking. That`s what I`m thinking about. That`s where I`m going at.

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC HOST: Interesting idea. Yes.

REID: I like this idea. Okay. I`m not a noodle on it. I`m a noodle on it. But, first, I`m going to do a show for an hour.

JOHNSON: You`ve got to move on it.

REID: Okay, I noodle on it in an out. Thank you very much. I appreciate it and have a great weekend.

Okay, good evening everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the GOP`s self-emulation in the name of the big lie. Last night, Anthony Gonzalez, the two-term Republican Congressman from Ohio, announced he`s retiring in 2022. He told The New York Times that, politically, the environment is so toxic especially in our own party right now. And he called Donald Trump a cancer for the country, adding I don`t believe he could ever be president again. Most of my political energy will be spent working on that exact goal. Gonzalez was one of the ten Republicans who defied the cult and voted to impeach Trump, an act of conscience that earned him death threats from the most rabid members of the party base.

His retirement is now yet another example of how the big lie is destroying the Republican Party from within. Just three years ago in 2018, Gonzalez was a prized young recruit for the GOP, the son of a Cuban-American immigrant. He was a former star athlete and first-round NFL draft pick. He went onto business school and then became the first ever Latino to represent the state of Ohio in Congress. In other words, his future was supposed to be bright. But now, he`s a pariah in a party that welcomes only extremists to its ranks.

According to a recent PRRI Poll a whopping 71 percent of Republicans believe the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and 35 percent believe that violence is a legitimate tool in political discourse, saying that, quote, patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save the country, which, by the way, is a core tenant of fascism. As one Republican lawmaker told Politico this week, the majority of the Republican base feel that January 6th was justified. Every day, I hear the word civil war every day.

All of this explains why more than a few experts view today`s Republican Party as a threat to national security. It`s also why federal law enforcement has taken the dramatic step of fortifying our nation`s Capitol in advance of tomorrow`s pro-insurrectionists demonstration. But if violence does break out the Capitol Police said today that this time they`re prepared.


CHIEF TOM MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: There have been some threats of violence associated with this -- the events for tomorrow. And we have a strong plan in place to ensure it remains peaceful and if violence does occur we can stop it as quickly as possible.


REID: The organizer of tomorrow`s rally is Matt Braynard, a one-time Trump campaign aid and struggling GOP consultant who`s now hit pay dirt promoting the big lie. The A.P. reports that after the election he raised more than $675,000 to seek out supposed voter fraud his baseless claims were then used in pro Trump cases earning him nearly a quarter million dollars in consulting fees.

Now, he`s on the gruffly business of white washing January 6th. He calls the insurrectionists patriots. He calls their jailing a grave injustice. And on Sunday he made the most laughable statement of all, describing the cause, his cause as the greatest civil rights battle of our time among other idiocy.


MATT BRAYNARD, J6 RALLY ORGANIZER: This isn`t just the greatest civil rights battle of our time, we are at a precipice now. And whether or not we succeed we`ll have dramatic implications for the future of mankind.


REID: Joining me now is NBC News Senior Reporter Ben Collins, Olivia Troye, former Senior Aide on the White House Coronavirus Task Force and director of the Republican Accountability Project, and Keith Boykin, Political Commentator and Author of the new book, Race against Time, The Politics Of The Darkening America. Thank you all for being here.

Ben, I have to start with you, because this maximalist talk by Braynard, who most of us probably never heard of before now, it goes along with his background. People may not know he`s the guy who brought the golden statue of Trump to the CPAC in March which was worshiped by Trump followers like the golden cap in the bible.

He`s also somebody who -- this is an interesting piece from mother Jones. In 2017 Braynard created a literary magazine titled in honor of the 17- year-old right-wing ultranationalist in Japan who brutally murdered a legislator and chairman of the Japan Socialist Party in 1960. This man is a hero for Braynard. He described this murderer as a courageous nationalist who valiantly killed a leftist.

That kind of maximalist talk sounds a lot like the conspiracy theories that you do a lot of investigating. So he seems to fit right in with the zeitgeist of what has become the party base. Your thoughts.


BEN COLLINS, MSNBC SENIOR REPORTER: Yes, he seems to have a good finger on the pulse of the extremist message boards that have been pushing this exact message, that January 6th was some sort of valiant not insurrection but a revolution for these people.

And by the way, simultaneously, know it was a revolutions but it wasn`t that big of a deal to it like this weird cognitive business that they`re live in. He`s deeply into this, and you know, and he`ll say this out loud, by the way. Four years ago he started look ahead America, his group to give people like a turn out to vote situation sick story and -.

And then he shifted because he realized they didn`t really care about that. People in the Trump space didn`t care about that. They started to care more about voter fraud and things like that in the last year. And that`s how we got books on OAN. That`s how we got book in all of these other space.

And then he just -- I think he started to read the tea leaves here and said like I guess the next thing here is saying that January 6th these people are political prisoners and that is a huge talking point in those spaces. He`s just bringing that to real life.

REID: You know, and, Olivia, it`s hard to tell whether people like Braynard are pushing this really believe it. He seems to deeply believe it. He seems to deeply quite to be an extremist himself, or whether they`re in on the grift, right, this could be a combination of both. Does it matter from a homeland security standpoint whether the people who are pushing others to come to something like this, whatever this event is going to be tomorrow, whether they personally believe it or not, from a security standpoint?

OLIVIA TROYE, DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT: No, it doesn`t at all. It`s actually, you know, what he says, his words and the way he behaves and the things he does, it`s radicalizing supporters, it`s what it`s doing. It`s radicalizing the Americans across the country, and he`s bringing them together. And whether he believes it or not, he likely knows it. He likely knows this is likely to lead to violence, but he doesn`t care. And as long as he`s padding his pockets along the way, that`s even better.

REID: Yes. And, Keith, I`m glad to have you here tonight. Because your book is actually right on target for where we are kind of facing our country right now. I want to read an excerpt from your new book, Race against Time, The Politics of the Darkening America. You write this, the sad truth is that nearly every leader in the Republican Party knew that Donald Trump was toxic but they embraced him anyway because he alone could speak to the party`s base of angry white voters. Republicans had spent nearly a century mining racial resentment that flourished abundantly just below the surface of America`s political discourse. From there they built a gold-plated monster of racism, bigotry and xenophobia that one day they could no longer control.

The gold-plated monster, perfect timing for somebody who`s leading an event tomorrow, who actually literally built a gold-plated monster for CPAC. Your thoughts on all this and how the changing racial construct of America is playing into it.

KEITH BOYKIN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, the problem is we have only one functioning political party in our country right now. The Republican Party has basically ceased even attempting trying to be a functioning political party. And we knew this some time ago. If you look back in 2012, Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein released a report in The Washington Post where they said the Republicans are the problem. It`s an asymmetrical problem in our country.

They`d just lost to President Obama for the second time in 2012. They do this big autopsy and it said they need to be more inclusive as a party. And Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, says they need to stop being the stupid party. And what did they do, they going and elect and nominate Donald Trump to be their standard bearer. And he comes and he attacks of Mexicans and Muslims and they suddenly become embed with this person who they said they didn`t want to align themselves with. And this is now become the party of Donald Trump. The insurrection is the inevitable flow, the inevitable cause of the Donald Trump policies that we saw in his administration.

REID: Yes. I mean, to even go to the person that is likely because Trump has now endorsed him to replace Anthony Gonzalez in Ohio, he`s a former Trump -- another former Trump aide. A lot of them are. A guy named Max Miller in July, Politico reported that sources say Max Miller has a history of aggressive behavior that includes slapping his ex-girlfriend, former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham. Miller denied the assault.

But, Olivia, it`s the extremist, the violent, the white nationalists, the worst of the worst of the people who worked personally even for Donald Trump that basically are now -- they central to the party and its future.

TROYE: Yes, it`s a bunch of thugs recruiting thugs, to be honest. And I think this is what we`re seeing across the board. And, fundamentally, it`s really dangerous what`s happening here. I was really saddened to see Representative Gonzales decide not to run.

I think, you know, I`m grateful. I`m actually -- I commend him for telling the truth because the truth is rarely told by Republicans right now, and it needs to be told. And so I commend him for coming forward and say, I can no longer be a part of this. It`s threatened my family, it`s threatened my life.

But this is fundamentally dangerous because it paves the way for another Trumpist to take office. And in districts like this that tend to lean Republican that are red districts, I think that is where the real battle is going to be in primaries, is to push back on this MAGA ugly extremist movement so that we can sort of try to try to control the insanity that`s happening right now in the Republican Party.


REID: It`s hard to imagine doing that, Keith. I mean, you as a very, very, very young man, I`m seeing virtually a teenager back in the Clinton era when there was already a dust up over Bill Clinton apologizing over enslavement and the idea that he was too chummy, too close to black people. You know, you could see the roots of it even then. From your point of view, and you`ve just written a whole book about this, could you see a turnout of this? Because I can`t see one. I don`t know if you can.

BOYKIN: I don`t see it either, Joy, and this has been a transition for the Republican Party since 1964 when they nominated Barry Goldwater a few weeks after he voted against this Civil Rights Act. So, the party of Lincoln basically started dying in 1964, the white voters started moving to the Republican Party. And when Donald Trump came in and he hammered the last nail in the coffin of the party of Lincoln, it is no longer a party of Lincoln, it`s a party of white supremacy, racist and Trump people.

It`s -- the odd part about it is if you look at the demographics where our country is changing, white people are the only group of people who are actually voting for Republicans today. African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans are all voting for Democrats overwhelmingly. So this is a problem for the Republican Party moving forward. And they`ve decided they`re going to double down on this even though they know that they can`t continue to win this way in a changing democracy, they`ve decided to gin up the process, to engineer mechanisms to make sure that they can`t continue to win. That`s why we see the voter restriction laws taking place.

So it`s a troubling trend. I don`t see the Republican Party changing especially considering the fact 74 million Americans actually went to vote for Donald Trump even after all the racism, chaos and corruption and bigotry of his administration.

REID: And the deaths, and a half a million deaths. Given that, you know Christopher Wray has talked a lot about the actual national security threat that this now entails. You cover a lot of sort of griminess that you`re seeing on social media, because, essentially, this is now fascism in action. And so what are you anticipating? What are you hearing? What is being said, you know, in sort of the dark reaches of the right-wing interwebs about this weekend should we be nervous here in D.C.?

COLLINS: I will say the revolutionary fervor is higher than ever. They are angrier than ever and more committed to talking about balancing the abstract than ever, absolutely. Everything is a civil war in these spaces. That said, they don`t organize being public anymore because they don`t think they have their guy in office. You know, they don`t think that they`re protected.

In the days before January 6th, you would just see a constant stream of ammo on these forums and plans, direct plans to attack the Capitol on these forums. You don`t see that anymore. So, that might be happening in private telegrams. It might be happening in private group chats or something like that. It`s not something that you would be able to see out in the open. Out in the open they`re saying, don`t go. The telegrams of the Proud Boys are saying don`t go. The Donald, which is like the big Trump forum, they`re saying it`s not the same thing. But who knows what`s happening in private? That`s always the worry with this stuff.

REID: Yes. And, Olivia, I`ll ask you what do you think is going on inside the Department of Homeland Security right now in terms of planning, because they were literally caught flat-footed January 6th, I think in part, because it was the president`s guys and they are mainly white, and they were not Black Lives Matter and so they didn`t even try to prepare? What do you think is going on in DHS right now?

TROYE: Well, I`m going to agree with those statements because they should have been preparing and it should have been very different. But I think you know, what we`re seeing now is the preparations from what I`ve heard is that the transparency is definitely there. There`s a lot more coordination and transparency in terms of what the intel is seeing.

And, look, I still believe that January 6th wasn`t a failure of Intel. All the Intel was there, all of the signs where there, those red flags everywhere. It was just the failure to act on it.

REID: Yes. You`re absolutely right. Even I was hearing -- everyone was hearing and he said -- Trump said it`s going to be wild. Everyone who can read Twitter understood what was coming. Ben Collins, Olivia Troye, Keith Boykin, great new book, I hope everybody checks it out, it is really, really, really good. It`s called Race against Time. Thank you very much, I really appreciate you all.

And meanwhile the ongoing debate over vaccine booster shots is making your heads spin, you are not alone. Straight talk on boosters, straight ahead.

Plus, ever wonder how you can win the popular vote but still lose an election? We will talk gerrymandering 101 with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

And a Texas high school principal placed on administrative leave after being accused of promoting critical race theory. He`ll join us with his side of story.

And tonight`s absolute worst goes all in on white nationalist replacement theory. You cannot make this stuff up, folks.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: An FDA advisory committee voted unanimously today in favor of booster shots for Americans 65 years old and older, and those of high-risk for severe COVID-19. It also includes boosters for those at risk because of their job, like health care works. The recommendation covers people who receive the Pfizer vaccine. It was the panel`s second vote after overwhelmingly rejecting boosters for everyone 16 years and older. Members of the committee said they were concerned that there was a lack of safety data about the shots potential effect on younger people. It will now go to the full FDA and the CDC for approval.

The decision comes at a critical point in the fight as COVID continues to ravage states like Florida, which this week passed 50,000 COVID deaths. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis continues to earn his detractor`s nickname DeathSantis with his freedom strategy, defunding educators over mask mandates and threatening to fine local governments requiring employee vaccination. That move led to a rebuke by President Biden.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: The governors of Florida and Texas are doing everything they can to undermine the lifesaving requirements that I`ve proposed.


This is the worst kind of politics, because it is putting the lives of citizens of their states, especially children, at risk. And I refuse to give into it.


REID: As the president spoke, well, killer Ron was complaining about the administration`s decision this week to take over distribution of monoclonal antibody treatments, like Regeneron, to prevent a shortage.

Florida, along with six other states, have received 70 percent of the supply, 70 percent, with Florida taking the largest share. And like any petulant child, Ron isn`t happy about sharing.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The fight about making sure Florida is not shortchanged on these monoclonals, that`s going to be front and center for us. We want to make sure that any Floridian that needs this is able to get it, so we`re going to fight like hell to make sure that our folks get what they need.


REID: That`s rich coming from a guy whose strategy isn`t fighting like hell against COVID, but basically boils down to, everybody gets sick, then get Regeneron.

And a reminder, DeSantis` largest donor just happens to be a big Regeneron investor.

The Biden administration is limiting the drug to promote equity, as it should be. States who are actually trying to reduce the spread of COVID should not get shortchanged, while DeSantis promotes maximum sickness, then demands the biggest share of the treatment.

Joining me now is Dr. Kavita Patel, a physician and a former Obama White House health policy director.

I don`t even know where to begin, Dr. Patel, but I guess let me start to go back where I started with this decision about the boosters, because I, along with everyone else, have been completely rendered confused on the booster thing.

How do you feel about this decision to say boosters, yes, for people who are compromised, boosters, no, for everyone else, when before it sounded like they were saying boosters for everyone? That`s what the White House seemed to want.

DR. KAVITA PATEL, MSNBC MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Joy, you`re right to be confused. And even many of us in the public health community are confused.

However, just to kind of ground us, what you saw today in the advisory committee was really trying to follow the science. I watched and read the data reports. What we know is, Joy, over time, all people have decreasing immunity after they receive their shots. That`s just actually something we see with other shots as well.

Then, combined with that, we know from Israel, especially, where they had a pretty massive national booster campaign, actually much more aggressive than we were proposing, anyone five months 12 and up would get a booster shot, that they have got that kind of real-world data to show us, especially for people age 60 and above, that it can increase that immunity to a level, Joy, that we saw protective early in the vaccination against the Alpha variant, so incredible almost return to kind of that original immunity that you got right after you got those two shots.

That`s incredible effectiveness. They also showed that it was safe. But here`s where the big gap came and I think where it through some of us, including me, for a bit of a curveball. They felt like, the advisory committee, that there just wasn`t enough data for under 65 and for especially, Joy, the ages 16 to 40.

What I`m worried about is that it`s going to be interpreted -- you parsed it out correctly at the top of your intro. I`m a little worried, though, that people who are not going to have the ability to understand this are going to hear it`s not safe to get a shot under the age of 65.

REID: Right.

PATEL: That`s where I`m very concerned. I`m very troubled. Friends of mine who I have talked to, some who work in the administration, have also said that they`re concerned about how this messaging plays out, but that, ultimately, the president with a very solid footing can say that he followed the science.

That doesn`t mean the public`s not confused.

REID: Well, right.

And I feel like part of the issue is that I will give the CDC and the FDA points for being transparent. But the problem is, they`re deliberating in public.

PATEL: Exactly.

REID: So when the science changes, they go, oh, well, here`s some new information. And then the science changes again, they go, oh, here`s some new information.

But we as the public are just zigzagging with them. And I think it has left the door open for people like Ron DeSantis, who want to play this game of, for whatever mad reason, maximizing infection in their states and then treating it with Regeneron. Maybe that has nothing to do with the donor. I have no idea why he`s doing it.

But I -- this idea that states -- like that he now is sort of free because of the confusion to say, no, no, no, the answer is just give us all the Regeneron. Between his state and other pro-COVID states, pro-COVID meaning their governors are pro COVID...


REID: ... Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, they were gobbling up all the Regeneron.

And people like this wacky woman Laura Loomer, she`s just a very racist conspiracy theorist, she comes out and it was like: I`m against getting vaccinated. I want to get COVID. I`d love to get COVID just to show that it`s no worse than eating a bad burrito, she said.

Then she got COVID. Then she said: Oh, well, I`m getting Regeneron. Oh, she`s like, I`m taking all of the sort of weird treatments that Trump used to push. And she`s still really sick.

So people who are playing that game that she`s playing are ending up clogging up our ICUs.

PATEL: Yes, Joy, they`re creating false idols. They`re manipulating data.


You have got Joe Rogan out there talking with this great pride about ivermectin and all of what he could do all to avoid -- quote, unquote -- "this vaccine."

Today, Joy, even during this advisory committee, very austere science committee, during the public commentary, you had people who actually had legitimate degrees behind their name manipulate the adverse effect reporting system to make it look like there were all these thousands of deaths from the vaccine.

Completely false. But it looked like they were reasonable scientists presenting data on PowerPoint slides. And it just -- Joy, it just begs the question, you really trust, but verify. Trust, but verify. And when you verify, don`t do it on social media.

Verify it with people who actually have read peer-reviewed articles, who actually ask questions, have spirited intellectual debate.

REID: Yes.

PATEL: And, Joy, always, always think about your social network and think about not modeling people who actively are running into this disease.

I can tell you, nobody -- you and I have talked about it. This is -- it`s killing people. It should not kill people, we have a vaccine that prevents death. But you`re still clocking in hundreds to thousands of deaths that don`t need to happen and destroying our already broken health care system in the process.

REID: Right, and making it so that people who have other issues like a heart attack or a stroke or their appendix is bursting can`t get in the E.R.

I`m going to play one more person that people -- and I`m not saying -- listen, I`m just going to play her. This is Sarah Palin. We know she`s not a rocket scientist or a neurologist or a doctor. But here she is talking.


FMR. GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK): Because I do believe in science. And the Fauci-ism of the day back then was, if you had COVID -- I have had COVID -- well, then Mother Nature was creating an immunity.

And even today, they say you`re 27 percent more immune than...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-seven times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-seven times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-seven times more immune.

PALIN: Yes, OK, 27 times.


PALIN: So I want to ask the questions.


REID: As dim-witted as that sounded, I hear people who I think are pretty smart saying the same thing: Well, I had COVID, so, therefore, I`m immune.

That`s not true, right?

PATEL: Right. Right.

Joy, that`s right. And it`s sad, because it`s -- before we had a vaccine, we did know, yes, Dr. Fauci was saying that, yes, if you get COVID, we know you develop immunity. We don`t know exactly for how long. We know it`s months. And that is all true.

But it`s manipulative to just take that part of the sentence and stop there. What needs to be completed with the rest of that sentence, Joy, is that we now know that, if you have had COVID, yes, you get some immunity. We don`t think it lasts as long as getting both -- getting the natural infection, on top of a vaccine.

REID: Yes.

PATEL: And on top of that, the vaccine gives you a much broader immune response to protect you against variants like the Delta variant.

REID: That`s right.

PATEL: That`s the complete sentence. We need to hear all of it.

REID: Yes, and it`s -- and, please, CDC and FDA, stop confusing us so that people can just hear people like you, Dr. Kavita Patel.

That`s who people should be listening to. Thank you so much.

Still ahead: The fight against partisan gerrymandering is ground zero in the fight against voter suppression. Former Attorney General Eric Holder joins us to explain why this fight is so important next on THE REIDOUT.

Stay with us.



REID: Since 2010, Republicans, who haven`t had much luck winning the increasingly diverse American electorate over with their policies, or winning the popular vote, have instead gerrymandered their way to power.

Take, for example, Pennsylvania. In 2018, Democratic candidates won 54 percent of the House popular vote statewide, but they walked away with just 45 percent of the state legislature. Why? Gerrymandering.

States are now in the process of redrawing their electoral districts based on last year`s census, and there are already troubling signs. Earlier this week, the Ohio redistricting commission passed maps heavily favoring Republican supermajorities that will last for the next four years, that is, if it survives an expected court challenge.

Republicans argued that they were legally justified in awarding themselves up to 81 percent of Ohio state legislative seats, 81 percent. For context, 54 percent of Ohioans are registered Republicans, while 46 percent are registered Democrats. The math just doesn`t add up.

What does this mean for you? Well, Republican advantage -- the Republican advantage and gerrymandering could allow them to solidify control of the U.S. House of Representatives and dozens of state legislatures for decades to come, over the will of a majority of Americans.

In short, welcome to minority rule.

Joining me now is former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. He`s the chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

Thank you so much, General Holder, for being here.

And I guess my big question is, what can we do about this? Because my fear is that, under the current rules, Republicans can solidify minority rule, not just in the House, but in these state legislatures, where they then can do things like pass that Texas abortion law and put bounties on women.

ERIC HOLDER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, well, that`s certainly the danger.

They will use the power that they get from gerrymandering to do the kinds of things you have just described, that abortion law. They will not do things with regard to criminal justice reform. They will not expand Medicaid. All the things that we have seen come from state legislatures, Republican state legislatures, that have been inconsistent with the desires of the American people largely come as a result of gerrymandering.

So, what we have to do is make sure that the process is as transparent as possible, make sure that people around this country are involved in it, go to commission hearings. That`s what we`re trying to do at the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, get people out there.

And then, ultimately, we will end up in court in a lot of places. We`re in a better place than we were in 2011, as a result of the work that we have done at the NDRC. The redistricting, the gerrymandering that occurred in 2011 was described by a Princeton University study as the worst gerrymandering of the last 50 years.


Now, we`re in a better -- better shape than we were then. But we still have problems, especially in states like Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Those are the four states that worry me, worry me the most.

REID: Do you think that this new law -- so, there`s all these versions of trying to pass federal reform, voting reform.

The latest is the Freedom to Vote Act. I`m going to put up some of the pieces of it, automatic voter registration, Election Day holiday, uniform early voting, same-day registration, preventing state election subversion standard for voter I.D., federal minimum standards on vote by mail and drop boxes.

There`s nothing in there directly about gerrymandering. Is there something that the federal government could do to stop this?

HOLDER: Well, actually, Joy, in the Freedom to Vote Act, there is a ban on partisan gerrymandering. There is an explicit ban on party gerrymandering, a very strong one, that also says that if you gerrymander before this act is passed, it doesn`t matter, that you cannot seat a delegation that is put in place as a result of partisan gerrymandering.

And so that`s one more reason why the Freedom to Vote Act has to be passed. It`s one of the -- one more reason why Democrats have to really try to save our democracy, because that`s the -- that`s the issue here. We can talk about a specific issue, infrastructure or whatever, but the biggest issue for this country right now is the nature of our system of government.

Republicans have made themselves quite comfortable with the notion they will be a minority party that exercises majority power. They are, in essence, trying to create a political -- political apartheid system where they will get fewer votes at every level and still have greater amounts of power.

REID: Yes. Yes.


HOLDER: But the Freedom to Vote Act is extremely important, because it does contain a specific ban on partisan gerrymandering.

REID: I don`t know if you have Joe Manchin`s phone number, but maybe you could convince him to wake up to that.

I want to play you, though. Mitch McConnell, because I think Mitch McConnell is one of the most insidious figures in our modern political history, but he knows what he`s doing. And he knows what he`s doing.

Here he is sort of skirting through, right, the maze, and really explaining their thinking in how they`re implementing these anti-voter bills in these Republican states. Take a listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): What do all these new laws have in common? None of them, not one is designed to suppress the vote based upon race. So there is no reason for the federal government to take over how we conduct elections.


REID: On the basis of race.

He seems very confident that the 6-3 right-wing Supreme Court will uphold these laws, because there`s nothing racial written into them directly. But there was also nothing racial in how many bubbles are in a bar of soap. They just happened to only ask black people have many bubbles were in a bar of soap.

Do you worry that, because of the composition of the Supreme Court, whatever it is Clarence Thomas wants to pretend in his speeches, that they will be able to get away with it because they`re saying, no, no, no, this isn`t about race, it`s only about making sure there`s integrity, which is just what they used to say in the 1950s?

HOLDER: Yes, they`re certainly going to describe what it is that they`re trying to do in any number of ways.

They will say, oh, this isn`t racial gerrymandering. This is partisan gerrymandering, because the Supreme Court has said we`re not going to entertain partisan gerrymandering cases in federal court. That makes our task a little more difficult.

But it`s also clear that what they`re doing in Texas, for instance, the increase in the population there is largely as a result increase in the Hispanic population and the nonwhite population in Texas. They get two additional seats as a result of that. In order for them to draw lines that are favorable to themselves, they`re going to have to racial gerrymander.

And this court -- even this court has shown itself to be surprisingly amenable to bringing racial gerrymandering cases. We were successful in getting them to say -- throw out a racial gerrymander in Virginia just a couple of years ago, a decision that Clarence Thomas actually wrote.

So I have some degree of hope there that a racial gerrymandering case brought before the Supreme Court could be successful.


And then we know that North Carolina just blocked a voter I.D. law there, saying it discriminates against black people there. There has been some -- I mean, you were successful in suing a bunch of states when you were attorney general.

Do you think the current Justice Department should be more aggressive in terms of going after these states?

HOLDER: Well, they have a limited set of tools now, as opposed to the tools that I had when I was there.

The 2013 Supreme Court decision, the Shelby County case, really gutted the Voting Rights Act and took away a lot of tools from the Justice Department. But I`m really confident that Vanita Gupta, especially along with Merrick Garland, Kristen Clarke, they will come up with ways in which they can use what remains in the Voting Rights Act to really be aggressive.

So I expect that they will be on the front lines and bringing lawsuits where that is -- what that`s appropriate.

REID: And we know that the Shelby County case is also officially called Shelby v. Holder. So we know you were at the center of that fight.

Do you...

HOLDER: We never put my name on the Shelby County case. No, no, no. No, it`s the Shelby County case.




HOLDER: Forget the Holder part.

REID: We have taken your name off of it officially, officially.

Do you feel as I do, that, essentially, we don`t have a Voting Rights Act in all intents and purposes anymore?

HOLDER: There are remnants of it that can still be useful.

But the reality is that we really need to have the Freedom to Vote Act. We need the John Lewis bill. We need to reconstitute the Voting Rights Act, so that it is nationwide in scope. The original bill really concentrated on the South.

But the reality is that we`re seeing racial issues with regard to voting not only in the South, but also in the Midwest, in the Northeast. And so we need a nationwide bill.

And the bill that is before the Congress now would actually reestablish a Voting Rights Act that would be far more substantial than the one that the Supreme Court gutted. And that`s why we need to have the Manchin compromise when it comes to the For the People Act. The new bill has to be passed.

But we also need to have passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

REID: Or we need to put it in the Constitution and get something permanent, because this temporary, constant extension of giving us the right to vote, it just seems unacceptable for people who are supposed to be full citizens of this country.

That`s just my take, Eric Holder. Thank you so much. Always appreciate you being here.

All right, tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is still ahead, as a high-ranking Texas official says the quiet part out loud, like, screams it out.

But, first, the high school principal placed on leave after parents accused him of promoting critical race theory. The school board says that`s not the case.

We will hear his side of the story next on THE REIDOUT.



REID: The GOP war on their made-up version of critical race theory is not just hurting students` education. It`s also impacting people`s livelihoods.

In July, a man at a Texas school board meeting accused principal James Whitfield, the school`s first ever black principle, of promoting critical race theory and what he called the conspiracy of systemic racism. A month later, Whitfield was suspended, though the school board gave him no reason, saying it was an ongoing personnel issue. They later claimed their actions were not made in response to the allegations.

Before he was suspended, Whitfield responded to the accusations, writing: "I am not the critical race theory boogeyman. I`m the first African- American to assume the role of principal at my current school in its 25- year history. And I`m keenly aware of how much fear this strikes in the hearts of a small minority, who would much rather things go back to the way they used to be."

He said the complaints had been building up since he posted about the death of George Floyd. Whitfield also noted an incident in 2019 where he was asked to take down a photo of him and his wife, who happens to be white. Hmm. I wonder what that issue might be.

The district pointed to multiple photos on his page and said they contained poses that are questionable for an educator and saying it had nothing to do with race.

Whitfield`s fate will be determined that a school board meeting on Monday night, but it`s not looking good, with the superintendent informing him that he would recommend the board -- the board vote against renewing his contract, once again giving him no explanation.

Now, for what it`s worth, many of his students have stuck by him, staging a walkout to protest his suspension.

And I am joined now by James Whitfield, principal of Colleyville Heritage High School, and his attorney, David Henderson, a civil rights attorney and a former prosecutor, who we are quite familiar with on this show.

Thank you both for being here.

Principal Whitfield, talk to me. You -- it feels like you are being railroaded out of your job on the basis of race, both the race -- both George Floyd, your sympathy and empathy for a black man who was killed by police, murdered by police, as adjudicated, and the race of your wife, which sounds to me like a -- like what you would see happening in like 1950, not in 2021.

JAMES WHITFIELD, PRINCIPAL, COLLEYVILLE HERITAGE HIGH SCHOOL: Yes, Joy, thank you for having us on and just bringing this to light and to a greater audience.

And it has been shocking, the events that have happened since the July 26 school board meeting, where you had people calling, essentially, for my job. You have people -- you mentioned -- and this seems like somewhere far back in time, but here we are in 2021. You had people in the gallery yelling, "Fire him."

And that behavior was tolerated and allowed. And here`s the thing. People want to -- they have got this CRT boogeyman that they have created. And, essentially, the people talking about this have no idea what it`s about. And CRT is not even our debate.

What they really are against is essentially who I am as an educator. I`m about creating environments that are responsive and inclusive for all students, no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, you name it. Every student that walks through that door, they are my babies, and I love them.

And, essentially, the people that have a problem with me, they have a problem with that, because they are not about having an inclusive environment for students, as they`re very exclusive in their approach.

REID: And you`re not a teacher. You`re the principal.

So I`m trying to get to where they are accusing you of teaching critical race theory, when you`re not a teacher, and critical race theory is only taught in law schools. And I don`t think that that high school is a law school.

So were you advancing or encouraging teachers to do anti-racism education? What is it that set off -- I`m assuming these were white parents.

WHITFIELD: Well, and safe to say that their parents would be -- I need to qualify this.

The people that are causing the issues are not parents of my school. We have a lot of outside agitators, as you`re seeing all around the country, people that are coming in and trying to influence school board elections.


And so I have been promoted in this district. I have been in the district now. This is going into year four. Two of the last three years, I have been promoted. And there was no issues with me. You don`t promote somebody that you have problems with that are not doing their job and not loving kids and serving them in the best of their ability.

But what happened, this past year, you really had the ramp up of CRT. Just so happened to have the very first African-American principle at this school. And it was the quintessential -- I was the quintessential boogeyman for these people to attack.

And the gentleman that spoke against me at that school board meeting, he mentioned the conspiracy of systemic racism. I did -- after the murder of George Floyd, I did send out a letter to my community, because I have watched people all over the country come together in ways that I have never seen before in my -- at that time, I was 42, right?

And I put that in my letter. In my 42 years of life, I watched people come together and stand beside each other and denounce racism, unapologetically. And it inspired me. And I didn`t see anybody around me saying anything.

And I knew there were people in our community that needed to hear that message. And I will send that message out again today. It is posted on my Facebook page. But that`s one of the things they have a problem with.

REID: Yes.

WHITFIELD: They don`t want to talk about racism.

REID: Yes.

Well, that coming together is what has egged the right so much. It`s bugged them a lot.

David Henderson, there have not been laws, anti-miscegenation laws on the books since like, what, the 1960s. I don`t know when the Loving decision was. But can we just put this picture up again? It`s quite telling that the sort of outrage began or the criticism from the administration of that school began with this photo, if we can get the photo up, of the principal and his wife.

It`s hard to imagine that that photo could be seen as somehow provocative in 2021. This feels like this can`t be legal to run someone out of their job based, what feels like, on race.

DAVID HENDERSON, ATTORNEY FOR JAMES WHITFIELD: And, Joy, we intend to make that clear in no uncertain terms.

First and foremost, when you talk about critical race theory in Texas, you`re not talking about critical race theory, as you pointed out. Our governor signed into law today a new law that says you have to teach that slavery and racism or deviations from American culture.


HENDERSON: That`s the specific word he used, deviation.

I don`t know how you can teach the Three-Fifths Clause in that context, but somehow our governor expects us to figure out how to do that, right?


HENDERSON: But here`s where it falls into the broader conversation, right?

The same people that are trying to suppress the right to vote -- and Kimberle Crenshaw said those. People trying to suppress the right to vote, trying to suppress the right to protest are the same people who are engaged in ideas suppression.

And part of what you have to keep in mind here is, when Dr. Whitfield spoke about the murder of George Floyd, in the Dallas Metroplex, we have had three similar circumstances that resulted in murder charges for black people being killed. The two cases that have gone to trial resulted in murder convictions.

So what he saw was a need in his community to address an important issue. And if you look at what he said, it included messages like hope and support and being the best we can personally and professionally.

And rounding this back out to the photo, that`s what you`re supposed to be when you`re working with young people.

REID: That`s right, absolutely.

HENDERSON: You`re supposed to be somebody who encourages them, not who plays to hate in the community.

REID: Yes. Amen.

Principal James Whitfield, I had a cool principal like you. So I hope that you`re successful.

David Henderson, thank you. Always appreciate you being here.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

REID: You`re a great man.

Up next: When a high-ranking state official starts spewing white replacement theory on TV in the same state that we were just talking about, well, that automatically puts them in the running to be tonight`s "Absolute Worst."

Don`t go anywhere.



REID: Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is triggered by the Haitian migrants seeking asylum and waiting to be processed in Del Rio.

And so he went on FOX News last night to warn America that the revolution has arrived.


LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R-TX): The revolution has begun, a silent revolution by the Democrat Party of Joe Biden to take over this country.

You`re talking about millions and millions and millions of new voters. And they will thank the Democrats and Biden for bringing them here. Who do you think they`re going to vote for? So this is -- this is trying to take over our country without firing a shot. We need every state, every red state, because the blue ones won`t do it, to send and invoke Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution to tell the president that we are being invaded.


REID: Ah, yes, invaded, not by aliens or a virus, but by the black immigrant boogeyman, of course.

They will, come take your jobs and resources, but, worse, their millions of unborn voter babies will one day vote out white America and replace it with nonwhite immigrants, who will not vote Republican.

We see the Great Replacement Theory everywhere these days. It`s the new GOP creed by folks like Tuckums and Laura Ingraham on FOX News and, more recently, the number three House Republican, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.

Her new Facebook campaign ad says that radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet, a permanent election insurrection, and that their plan to grant amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.

Mind you, Stefanik, before she was crowned as Liz Cheney`s replacement, once opposed the dear leader`s immigration policy. But that was before the MAGA cult got to her and offered her the delicious nectar of power.

So it`s not just the fringe, wacky lieutenant governor of the new Gilead spewing this bile. It`s also the House Republican leadership. And their use of this racist bait to justify white nationalist radical -- radicalism and social unrest is truly the "Absolute Worst."

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.