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Transcript: The ReidOut, 9/21/21

Guests: Cori Bush, Alejandro Mayorkas, Chris Murphy

Summary

Trump attorney had a six-point plan to steal election. Georgia secretary of state said Lindsey Graham questioned validity of absentee ballots in 2020. FBI ramps up domestic terrorism investigations. McConnell says GOP won`t help Dems raise debt ceiling.

Transcript

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: That`s all you needed to say. I didn`t even need the festive music. I`m there for it. Thank you very much. Have a great evening. Bye.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Peace.

REID: All right. Good evening, everyone. We begin THE REIDOUT tonight with the constitutional meltdown that this country narrowly avoided in January with details of another stunning plot by Donald Trump and his minions to defy the will of the voters. The audacious power grab is detailed in the book, Peril, by Reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, and it involves a little known Trump lawyer named John Eastman. With Trump`s backing, Eastman hatched an elaborate plan for Vice President Mike Pence to follow while he was presiding over the certification of the electoral vote on January 6th. Eastman documented the scheme in a stunning memo obtained by the authors and shared with MSNBC.

And what that memo proposed was nothing short of a coup. It called for Pence to cite ongoing disputes over the slate of electors from seven states, which Pence would then declare invalid and toss out. By simply canceling the votes from those states, Trump would be left for majority and Pence could gavel him in along with Pence himself as having been reelected. If Democrats object, Eastman proposed sending the matter to the House, where Republican, who control the majority of states, would have voted to reelect Trump anyway.

Although their theory, it was a win, win for Trump either way, of course, that`s not how the process is supposed to work. For one thing, Eastman falsely asserted that Pence as vice president was the ultimate arbiter of any election objections that might arise. But he`s ascribing a power to the vice presidency that the office simply does not have. And if she shoe was on the other foot, it is hard to believe that any Republican would be as enthusiastic about Kamala Harris wielding that kind of power in 2024.

Now, Pence while ultimately he rejected Eastman`s plan, we know now that he was actively considering similar schemes to keep Trump in office. Pence even consulted former Vice President Dan Quayle, who rightfully told him that he had no power to overturn the election. Additionally, these claims and others were vetted by Senators Mike Lee and Lindsey Graham, and even they expressed skepticism. All of this shows how determined Trump and his people were to find a way to steal the election. And while they may have failed this time, 2020 could well be a dry run for another attempt in 2024.

Meanwhile, new evidence suggests that the Trump campaign knowingly and intentionally lied about supposed fraud in 2020. Now, you might recall the days after the November 3rd, Trump`s lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, held a wild press conference alleging a vast conspiracy by voting machine and voting software companies, which supposedly also involved George Soros and the deceased former president of Venezuela.

Now, The New York Times that by the time that news conference occurred, Trump`s campaign had already prepared an internal memo on many of the outlandish claims, and the memo had determined that those allegations were untrue. All of these developments will certainly be of interest to the select committee`s investigation, which, according to Congressman Jamie Raskin, is now entering an aggressive new phase.

And joining me now, Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Attorney and MSNBC Legal Analyst, Kurt Bardella, Adviser for DCCC, and Kathleen Belew, History Professor at the University of Chicago and co-Editor of the new book, A Field Guide to White Supremacy. Thank you all for being here.

Barbara, I am going to you first. We now know Business Insider has obtained a list of the states. It`s states that you would expect that this Eastman character wanted Pence to simply throw out. And it was Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico. That actually seems significant because those are the very states where Republicans, many of them, where Republicans are actively still trying to overturn the election.

But if you could just explain the legalities, the constitutional reality here about what Mike Pence`s actual powers are and is it possible under the law and under the Constitution for anyone to simply throw out the results of entire states in a presidential election?

BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Joy, the scheme here was unbelievably audacious. But what`s so frightening about it, I think, is that it gets dressed up with constitutional language and statutory language.

And so what this lawyer wrote was a strategy that would allow Mike Pence to say that I received two sets of electors from these seven states. And when two sets of electors are sent, there is a statute that talks about the process that maybe you have to throw them out at the end of the day if you can`t decide which ones were accurate. But, in fact, there were no two sets of electors that came from any of these states.

[19:05:03]

So, it may have been dressed up legally but the factual basis for it just wasn`t there.

I think we got very lucky that Mike Pence had the integrity to say, I`m not going to do this, because if he had and people had gone along with this, it then throws the election into the House of Representatives, which the Constitution does permit. But what is so tricky there is that when the House of Representatives vote, it is not the entire House that votes, which would have had a Democratic majority. It is each state delegation. And when you look state by state, it was a Republican majority.

And so I think these two stories together, the one about this scheme and the other one you mentioned about knowing that there was no election fraud says to me that this wasn`t just an effort to, you know, aggressively win an election, it was a criminal scheme to overthrow the election.

REID: Right. And, you know, before we give Pence too much credit, while he may not have gone along with the Eastman memo, he definitely did go and consult with a former vice president to see if he could get away with stealing the election. So, he contemplated it.

Kurt, I want to go through some of the others because you have -- and, by the way, just for those who were just curious, this is what the Constitution says about the vice president`s role. It says, the president of the Senate, which is the vice president, shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes will then counted. His job is like the guy who reads the Oscar nominee, the Oscar winner. His job is to open the envelope and say here is who won. He doesn`t have another constitutional role.

But it wasn`t -- what we talked about, we did our meeting today just talking about this segment, the idea that it was a whole of government- almost approach that reached all the way from the president of the United States right through the vice president, who did try all the way for them pinging senators try to get them to help and it goes all the way down to extremists groups, like the Proud Boys, this was a whole approach of the right and of the Republican right to try to make -- to see if there was a way they could steal the election.

Lindsey graham, before he gets too much credit for saying no to the Eastman memo, he did contact Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state of Georgia. His contact with him is now a part of a criminal probe of Donald Trump in Georgia, because even he said, hey, man, is there a way you can find a way to throw out the -- enough votes in Georgia to throw the election to Trump? So, talk about this, because this is a real threat. Because I don`t think they`re done here, Kurt. I don`t know if you agree. I think that this was a road test for something they want to try again.

KURT BARDELLA, DCCC ADVISER: What we saw during these proceedings was the opening act of what will be an ongoing and concerted effort by Republicans to hijack our democracy. We`re seeing it in all of the laws that they`re passing in states to do right now what they couldn`t do at the ballot box, not do on January 6th, invalidate votes. It is a full-fledged assault on our democracy.

And what is extraordinary, Joy, was that this came at a time where it was from within our government. It was being done at the executive level. It was being done in a wide spread effort. And I`ll tell you, this January 6th select committee, if this type of thing had happened, as Democrats were in power and Republicans had control of Congress, they would be hauling every single person that had any conversation, any email, any knowledge of any conversation and anything to do with this conspiracy, because that`s what it was.

Every single person that took part in this needs to be held accountable for it, needs to answer questions under oath, needs to be brought before the committee and in front of the American people so we have a full and detailed airing of what happened and how the American people`s democracy was basically held hostage by these lunatics in a craven effort to throw out the election and pretty much end the central principles of the United States of America.

And if anybody thinks they`re going to stop, they need to wake up and pay attention to what is happening right now because they`re not going to go away, they`re not going to stop, they`re not undetermined, they are going to move full forward. And if we don`t keep Congress in 2022, let me tell you, Joy, a Republican Congress will not certify a Democrat win in 2024.

REID: And that`s the thing, Kathleen, and I`m glad that you were available to talk to me tonight, because I really wanted to talk to you as well. Because the thing is that when you look in isolation at the individual things people on the right are doing, going after critical race theory, trying to replace school board members and claiming that they`re poisoning the minds of young, white children, trying to turnover school board elections based on mask mandates, you put together the white replacement theory stuff, and now, apparently, Jim Jordan has joined people like Tucker Carlson in pushing. It feels like a whole approach to say to white Americans who are in that 30 percent, who are white conservative Christians, look, we got to do whatever we got to do to keep you all in power. And if it means overturning elections, if it means undermining democracy, if it means ending democracy, this is what we have to do because there is a threat to you.

[19:10:07]

FBI Director Chris Wray has said, domestic terrorism investigations have more than doubled since 2020. Let me let you listen to what the head of the National Counterterrorism Center, her name is Christine Abizaid, said on the terrorism threats we face now. Take a listen. This seven (INAUDIBLE).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ABIZAID, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER: One of the other most pressing threats to the homeland is from domestic violent extremists, DVEs, and in particular, racially or ethnically-motivated violent extremists and militia violent extremists who often mobilize to violence independent from a formal or centralized organization.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: So, Kathleen, January 6th felt like it was the beginning of sort of a test case for the way that white nationalism could actually use fascist violence to achieve this. Am I wrong to take that comprehensive of a view of what we`re seeing on the right?

KATHLEEN BELEW, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: I don`t think so but I do think it`s important when we talk about these group, not to paint with the same brush the violent extremists and the more main line activism happening within the militant right. What we have not studied very much is how those two groundswells joined together.

And this is part of what was so staggering and stark about January 6th. We`re seeing the way that organized extremists groups with decades of training and ideology and, you know, paramilitary camps and armaments could radicalize in sort of the Trump base and stop the steal rally. Those coming together moments are really important for what happens next.

And one of the remarks that Christopher Wray made today that really stuck with me is that the case load has more than doubled and that there is an explosion in domestic violent extremism in this country. The cases are trending up, not down.

Now, that`s exactly what we should expect based on a historical reading of the events of January 6th because the playbook dedicates quite a lot of time to violence but the playbook that sort of maps out the script for the Capitol attack is not about mass violent event that day but about more mass violence to come. So, in other words, January 6th is a show of power to galvanize people further.

And these groups are opportunistic. They are going to use whatever social strife is available in order to mobilize people. And we have plenty of social strife to go around.

REID: Well, and very quickly, to stay with you for a moment, the difference between what we saw in the 1990s, for instance, in this kind of extremism, is that it was not mainstreamed in the Republican Party. It was seen as abhorrent and people rejected it as out of hand. You wouldn`t have seen Republican politicians saying that the people who would do the extremists white nationalist violence were heroic or were patriots.

What worries me, Kathleen, is the merger of the politics of sort of norm core Republicanism where, at minimum, they`re saying this is okay, that if this is part of our base, this is all right. It`s almost embracing it in a way that takes it to a different level.

BELEW: I think that`s absolutely right. And I think that slide started after the El Paso shooting, when there was a talking points memo circulated by the GOP, asking members to direct people`s attention away from white power extremism and towards problems in mental health instead when dealing with looming (ph) violent actors. And we see that in an even more concerted way about January 6th when people describe it as a tourist visit, when people denies (INAUDIBLE), when people intimidate witnesses and companies from giving information.

The question has to be what is so scary about really confronting the history of what we had experienced together and the events that we all saw unfold that day? I think everyone who is acting in good faith should want to understand what happened, who was culpable, who was acting in a criminal way and what exactly was known beforehand.

REID: And we would like it if one of our two major political parties would actively separate themselves from it. That`s the piece that seems to be missing, is no desire to affirmatively separate themselves from it rather than try to use it as a way to just get back in power, which is what really worries me and a lot of other people.

Barbara McQuade, Kurt Bardella, Kathleen Belew, thank you very much, all three, very much.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, Congressman Cori Bush joins me on the fight in Congress over spending priorities and her effort to keep millions and millions from being evicted.

Plus --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: What I saw depicted about those individuals on horseback treating human beings the way they were is horrible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: The awful treatment of Haitian migrants at the southern border, who they are and how we reached this point. The secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, will join me.

And tonight`s absolute worst, it would be funny if it weren`t so serious, lawsuits with all the gravitas of a night court episode reveal the absurdity of the Texas abortion law.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.

[19:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: The threat of a simultaneous government shutdown and debt default looms as Senate Republicans made it clear today that they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling, which the House is voting on tonight. It`s an obviously hypocritical move. Republicans were totally fine with the debt rising almost $7.8 trillion during Orange Julius Caesar`s reign. Mitch McConnell even said in 2019 that America defaulting on its loans would be a disaster. He said today Democrats will have to raise it on their own.

Meanwhile, President Biden`s agenda is under threat as Democrats continue grapple with internal divisions. Speaker Pelosi promised moderates that the House will vote on the by bipartisan infrastructure bill by September 27th, that would be next Monday. But she also promised progressives that the vote would take place side by side with their $3.5 trillion human infrastructure bill.

But some moderates, Joe Manchin, are not on board with the price tag of some of the provisions in the bill, with Axios reporting that he`s privately saying Congress should -- quote -- take a -- quote -- "strategic pause" on the bill until 2022.

[19:20:07]

Now, publicly, Manchin says they`re still working on it. But, after meeting with Speaker Pelosi for 90 minutes today, Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal said in no uncertain terms that progressives will not vote for it, for the infrastructure bill, until reconciliation passes. She said she thinks Pelosi will likely delay the infrastructure vote.

Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi is claiming that the reconciliation bill is on schedule and will be ready on Monday.

Now, on top of all of this, millions of people are now facing eviction after the Supreme Court overturned Biden`s eviction moratorium. So, today, progressives introduced their own eviction bill.

I`m joined now by Missouri Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush, one of the lawmakers who introduced that eviction bill. She`s also a member of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees.

I`m going to jump around just a little bit, Representative Bush, because I want to maximize my time with you.

Let`s start with talking about this reconciliation fight. It`s a $3.5 trillion bill. Manchin is saying delay it until 2022. It smells kind of like a sellout, because it was supposed to be simultaneous.

Do you believe that you will get both bills passed through the Senate to vote on, on Monday? And, if you don`t, then what?

REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): Well, we have to.

Progressives, we have made it very clear that they have to go together. Those bills have to go together. Reconciliation has to happen. Build Back Better Act has to happen in the House and the Senate before we will vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

REID: Right.

BUSH: If that is not going to happen, then I don`t see this moving forward.

The thing is, I believe that Speaker Pelosi understands. And she doesn`t -- I don`t believe she likes to bring bills to the floor that may not -- that may not pass.

REID: Yes.

BUSH: And so with us being very clear that this is what we want, and that we will not, we will not, I will not support and vote for a bipartisan infrastructure bill that comes before reconciliation, because we know that reconciliation won`t happen.

REID: Right.

And just to be clear, is the Progressive Caucus, to your understanding, prepared to withhold all of your votes, which would doom the bill, if you don`t get that $3.5 trillion bill that`s got all these other provisions in it, extending child tax care and child care programs, tackling undocumented immigrants? If that don`t pass the Senate, and it doesn`t come to you, are you all prepared to say we are not voting for the Manchin bill, the Manchin-Sinema bill?

BUSH: I know that progressives as a whole -- progressives are saying that that is what we plan to do.

REID: OK.

BUSH: I can`t speak for every single CPC member.

REID: Sure.

BUSH: I can`t do that necessarily, because I haven`t had all of those conversations.

But I know that our chair, Pramila Jayapal, that has been her talking points, even as she spoke with Speaker Pelosi today...

REID: OK. And...

(CROSSTALK)

BUSH: ... that she wants -- that we are going to hold the line.

REID: Does that -- because the thing is, progressives -- and this is the thing that I think people are saying.

The margins are so small in the House that you all have a lot of power, and that the moderates are willing to flex their power to demand that they get the $1.2 trillion Manchin-Sinema bill. You all have the same exact power. And you can use it to. The CBC could do it too.

BUSH: Absolutely.

REID: Are you all prepared to use that leverage also on the debt ceiling? All of this stuff has to go through at some point.

The debt ceiling is another issue. Now, this one is very difficult, and I know that the Senate and the House both have to deal with this. A prolonged debt ceiling breach, this is what Moody`s says it would mean, six million jobs lost, $15 trillion in household wealth lost, surging unemployment to 9 percent.

Do you think that that also should be something that`s used as leverage by Democrats? Because now, on the Senate side, Mitch McConnell said Democrats have to do this on their own. So it`s Democrats and Democrats negotiating this.

BUSH: You know, and the thing is, as we`re talking about leverage, Joy, what we`re really saying is, the people in our communities that are suffering, that have been struggling for such a long time, long before the last 18 months with this global deadly pandemic, but struggling even before that, what we`re saying is, no, you don`t need the investments in Medicare.

You don`t need to add dental and vision. You don`t need that. No, you don`t need universal pre-K. No, we don`t care that you get the climate investments that you need, especially those front-line communities that are black and brown, that actually have issues with asthma, lead, asbestos in their communities, methane flowing into their communities. No, you don`t need that.

Because you know what? We are in a position where we are comfortable being in Congress, and we don`t have to worry about those things. And so that`s what we`re actually talking about. And so what our work is, is to make sure that those direct investments happen -- happen for our communities that happen now.

That`s why, today, we introduced a bill to keep renters safe.

REID: Yes.

BUSH: Right now, we have renters being evicted. They have been being evicted for the last several weeks. And that`s not OK, where right now we know that that is -- that can be a death sentence for many.

[19:25:08]

And so that`s why we put together a bill, along with Senator Elizabeth Warren, saying that the Department of Health and Human Services has the permanent authority to be able to enact, to be able to implement a federal eviction moratorium during a public health crisis.

And so that`s what this is about. I am not going to stand and keep my mouth closed while my colleagues who are comfortable get to go and make all of these decisions, you know, where we`re going to wait until 2022 to make a decision on reconciliation, and we`re going to -- but the climate crisis isn`t waiting until 2022.

That`s not what`s going to happen. Our children that need to be in school, so their parents can go to work, they -- that`s not going to wait to 2022. How -- prescription drug reform, that cannot wait. That is something we have been waiting on for so long. And now that I`m here -- see, they messed up letting me get here.

And so now that I`m here, I`m going to use every single tool in my toolbox along with my colleagues that stand the same way that I stand to make sure that our voices are heard, and we use and we pull all of those levers to get what our people need.

REID: Yes.

BUSH: Saint Louis -- Saint Louis is going to get it.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: You know what? I feel like what you`re saying is what so many voters, particularly voters of color and lower-income voters and voters who really need change, not want change, but need it, that is what they have wanted to hear, that members of Congress are willing to stand firm on the principle that you all were sent here to change people`s actual lived lives.

So I just want to commend you all for standing strong. Please keep us posted on what happens with the debt -- with the rent relief bill.

BUSH: Yes.

REID: We will have you back on as much as you want to come on. And we will -- and keep us posted on what happens with the caucus.

Thank you so much, Congresswoman Cori Bush. You`re wonderful. Thank you for being here.

OK, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is going to join us in just a bit to talk about what`s happening in Texas with Haitian migrants.

But, first, President Biden makes his first appearance on the world stage with an address at the U.N. So what is the Biden doctrine? And did Boris Johnson call him -- why did Boris Johnson call him a breath of fresh air?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:31:29]

REID: Today, President Biden delivered his debut address to the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations, a call for consensus on the climate crisis, vaccines and humanitarian disasters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We stand, in my view, at an inflection point in history.

Instead of continuing to fight the wars of the past, we are fixing our eyes on devoting our resources to the challenges that hold the keys to our collective future, ending this pandemic, addressing the climate crisis, managing the shifts in global power dynamics, shaping the rules of the world on vital issues like trade, cyber, and emerging technologies, and facing the threat of terrorism as it stands today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Joining me now is Senator Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

I wonder if -- I don`t know if there is a Biden doctrine that seems to be emerging. But part of it does seem to be something that you addressed in your piece, where you talked about the critics of President Biden`s Afghan policy being dangerously wrong, because, as you put it, trying to remake another country and a culture that`s not our own doesn`t seem like the wisest use of our power.

What Biden seemed to be talking about was redirecting that effort to doing things like trying to solve the climate crisis, trying to solve the pandemic. Do you think that that sort of starts to formulate some kind of a doctrine?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, not every president needs a doctrine. And I don`t know that Joe Biden has one yet.

But he`s got a theory of the case, which is this. These endless wars overseas don`t make the country safer. And, in fact, it`s time to acknowledge that the most significant threats to the country are not conventional military threats, are not potential invading armies.

They are things like pandemic disease, climate change, and the erosion of democracy. And so he looks at the way in which we spend money in this country, $700 billion on conventional military assets, like planes and aircraft carriers, but then only $12 billion on global public health. And he thinks to himself, likely, that doesn`t seem to actually be a proper allocation of resources to protect the country.

So, I think he`s telegraphing to the world that, by withdrawing from Afghanistan, it`s going to allow this country to be able to pivot and spend more resources on the fights that matter to all of us, not just the fights that are exclusive to the sort of U.S. foreign policy establishment class.

REID: Yes.

One of the things that Biden has promised, he needs to work with Congress. They want to double U.S. climate funding internationally to $100 billion. Again, that`s money that we would have been spending perhaps in Afghanistan. He calls climate change sort of a war without borders.

He did say on COVID that the U.S. has given more than $15 billion toward the global pandemic response. So that`s the kind of spending that you`re talking about.

I wonder, as somebody who serves in the United States Senate and all the complications there, how do we get U.S. politicians, many of whom are very much invested in the military industrial complex, because the pieces of the whatever jet it is are built in their communities, and it provides jobs -- and there`s a lot of people who are tied very close to those old ways of doing business.

In the current political climate, is it even possible to move people away from that?

MURPHY: Republicans today are up over China, and many Democrats as well.

[19:35:04]

I do agree that the contest between the United States and China will likely define the next 50 years. But we should watch the Chinese and understand that they celebrate every single day that we are so mis-resourced, we are so loaded up on conventional military assets, and so under-resourced to fight them on economic diplomacy.

The Chinese win friends around the world by doing big development deals, knowing that the United States has no capacity to do it ourselves.

So I think the way to bring Republicans into this conversation is to you ask them to look at the ways in which Russia and China are growing influence and come to the realization that the United States right now has no way to defend against those asymmetric methods of warfare.

And, by the way, there`s lots of jobs to be had if we are helping other countries build energy independence and connections to renewable energy. Those can be U.S. companies that do that work. Those can be U.S. manufacturers supplying the equipment.

So there`s plenty of U.S. jobs to be had if we are engaged in a different kind of foreign policy, other than just the projection of military power.

REID: Yes, I can tell you that China is all over the African continent and even the Caribbean, right in our backyard, very aggressively doing deals and things that maybe we ought to be trying to do as well.

Let me let you listen to Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, talking about President Biden this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: What I will say about Joe Biden, dealing with the new American president, yes, it is a breath of fresh air, in the sense that there`s some things on which we can really, really work together.

And -- you knew I was going to bring it up -- climate change, he`s great on that. And he wants to cut CO2. He wants to get to net zero by 2050. And he shares with me a basic view that you can do this without penalizing the economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: He also-called the Afghan withdrawal a massive logistical success.

It`s odd, because I think a lot of people presumed that Boris Johnson was sort of favorable toward Donald Trump. But it does seem, at least just outside looking in, like the relationship between our old ally and Biden is warmer.

Does that make a difference anymore? Does that old alliance, does still have the same meaning?

I think we might have lost the senator. Have we lost him? I think we lost him.

OK. Well, we didn`t -- we have lost him. So, we will just think Senator Chris Murphy.

We didn`t even get to talk about Jair Bolsonaro having to eat pizza on the streets of New York City because he didn`t want to mask up and get vaccinated. But we didn`t even get to get into that.

But we will just thank the senator, and we will invite him back another time.

OK, up next, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas joins me to discuss the Haitian refugee surge on our Southern border.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:42:06]

REID: Today, Vice President Kamala Harris denounced the repulsive images of border horse patrol agents corralling human beings like animals in an aggressive show of force.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Human beings should never be treated that way. And I`m deeply troubled about it. And I`ll also be talking to Secretary Mayorkas today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told members of Congress that he would be sending representatives from the Office of Professional Responsibility to the border to ensure that it doesn`t happen again.

So how did we get here? Why are thousands of Haitian migrants coming to the Southern border of the U.S.? Large numbers of these refugees had been living for years in South America, having fled their home country effort after it was hit by a devastating earthquake 10 years ago.

But recent economic instability caused by the pandemic and misinformation about the Biden administration`s immigration policies triggered the mass exodus you see today.

Yesterday, the United States and Mexico began deporting many of these migrants back to Haiti, a country some have not seen in years, this while Haiti is a country on the brink of collapse, weeks after their president was assassinated.

Gangs control roughly a third of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and jobs are sparse. If they`re lucky enough to find a job, about 60 percent of people in the island nation earn less than $2 a day.

Today, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the administration is considering giving temporary protective status to some Asians on the border. But expulsions continue under a policy known as Title 42, which grants the government the power to turn back any migrant caught crossing the border, regardless of their country of origin, to stop the spread of COVID-19.

While in New York today to address the U.N., President Biden told reporters that the administration will get the situation under control.

Joining me now is U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

Thank you so much, Secretary Mayorkas, for being here.

And I guess the obvious first question is, who, to your knowledge, were these agents on horseback? Why were they permitted to operate in this way? And is this some sort of standard procedure, to corral people using horseback maneuvers that really look like you`re herding cattle?

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Joy, thank you very much for having me on the show.

The matter is under investigation, as I mentioned to the vice president today when we spoke earlier.

Let me be very, very clear. I too was horrified by the images captured by photographers with respect to the activities of Border Patrol agents on horseback. We do not condone, we do not tolerate any mistreatment of any migrant.

What we did is, we directed an immediate investigation of the events that were captured in the photographs and on video. We -- I have ensured that the top leadership of the Office of Professional Responsibility lead that investigation, and that it be conducted thoroughly and swiftly.

[19:45:12]

We need this resolved swiftly. And, in fact, I anticipate that the results of the investigation will be available by the end of next week. And I have committed to making those results public.

REID: But...

MAYORKAS: I have also alerted -- we, the department, alerted the department`s Office of Inspector General.

Third, I directed that the Office of Professional Responsibility be on site in Del Rio 24/7 to make sure that the conduct of our employees is consistent with the policies, the training and the values of this department.

Lastly, if I may, the individuals who are the subject of investigation are on administrative duties. Currently, they are not executing their other law enforcement duties. And they are not to be interacting with any migrants at this time during the pendency of the investigation.

The actions we are taking are swift and strong. And we will take further action as the facts adduced in the investigation compel?

REID: OK, that answer was going to be my second question, whether or not those were indeed DHS employees. You did answer that question. Thank you for that information.

Let`s talk about where we go from here in terms of why people are being sent back. We know that Haiti is completely unstable. The political climate there is desultory, as well as the health climate, the physical climate.

Why would anyone at this stage, particularly a child or a mother, a family, why would anyone be deported back to Haiti at this point? Why would the U.S. do that?

MAYORKAS: We make -- we make a determination, the Departments of Homeland Security and State make a determination whether the conditions in the country are such that the country can receive its nationals in it.

And what we did is, we evaluated those country conditions and made a determination several months ago that temporary protected status was justified based on the conditions in the country at that time for individuals already resident in the United States.

And we said that those individuals, those Haitian nationals resident in the United States on or before July 29 could actually remain in the United States and would not be returned to Haiti.

We have made a determination that the country is capable of receiving its nationals subsequent to that date, and that is why they are being returned there.

REID: Let me let you listen to the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, because he`s calling to -- an end to this policy called Title 42 that allows the deportation of migrants based on trying to mitigate COVID-19 spread. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): I urge President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to immediately put a stop to these explosions and to end this Title 42 policy at our Southern border, that we cannot continue these hateful and xenophobic Trump policies that disregard our refugee laws.

We must allow asylum seekers to present their claims at our ports of entry and be afforded due process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: We know that some 20,000 Haitians right now are gathered in Colombia for possible migration to the U.S.

We know that your agency, the Department of Homeland Security, is tracking groups of 1, 500 in Panama, another 3,000 in Peru. We also know that it is not illegal to seek asylum in the United States. The U.S. established many of the protocols that we think of worldwide in terms of asylum. It`s not illegal to seek asylum.

Will the Department of Homeland Security end this Title 42 policy, stop deporting people, and allow them to apply for asylum?

MAYORKAS: Joy, let me be clear about what Title 42 is and what it is not.

It is not an immigration policy. It is an authority that the Centers for Disease Control has, in light of public health imperatives. Title 42 is a public health policy that is directed by the CDC. And it has been employed as a result of the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is a pandemic that, of course, has not only gripped our nation and led to the loss of more than 600,000 lives, but it is a pandemic that has gripped the entire world. This is a public health imperative, as determined by the CDC. This is not a matter of immigration policy.

[19:50:00]

REID: But it is also a humanitarian issue, because one has to suspect that, given what`s going on in Haiti, people would be at much more risk of getting COVID-19, of getting sick if they`re sent back to Haiti.

So, regardless of that, there are quarantining policies that the United States could use. So I guess I just come back to that same question. does the -- does DHS plan to listen to what Senator Schumer has said and just stop deporting people and deal with the pandemic issues on the ground in the United States?

MAYORKAS: It is currently our government`s intention to continue to exercise our Title 42 authority, in light of the public health imperative, as determined by the Centers for Disease Control.

Title 42 is the subject of ongoing litigation in the courts, for some of the reasons, Joy, that you have expressed. We believe the law permits the exercise of that authority. And that is why we are pursuing that authority in court.

But it is a public health imperative.

REID: Then how would -- let`s say you have a family that is right now in Mexico or in another Central American country that wants to pursue an asylum claim in the United States who has come from Haiti. How do they do that?

MAYORKAS: This is precisely why we are focused on a multipart strategy to address irregular migration, which has been a phenomenon for so many years, in fact, a number of decades.

We are addressing the root causes of irregular migration, why people feel so desperate to leave the countries of origin, their homes, number two, building safe, legal, orderly pathways for migration, so people do not have to take the perilous journey north.

And, third, we are addressing and rebuilding our asylum laws here in the United States that were so fundamentally dismantled by the prior administration.

REID: But, just to be clear...

MAYORKAS: That`s precisely why we have a three-part strategy.

And, if I may, because you alluded to this earlier, and it`s very important -- your point is very well-taken -- people are receiving incorrect information from smugglers, who are exploiting individuals` vulnerabilities for profit.

And we are very focused on ensuring that these individuals, these families, these single adults receive accurate information that this is not the way to come to the United States. Do not take the dangerous journey. It will not work.

That is why we are so focused on it and why I communicated to Haitian journalists this past Sunday, so that critical message could be broadcast through my voice on social media and through other trusted voices throughout the region.

REID: Well, thank you very much for being here. We are out of time.

Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, thank you for sharing that with us.

But I want to reiterate to our audience it is not illegal to seek asylum in the United States. It is not. So we need to talk about this in that language.

Don`t go anywhere. Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:03]

REID: It has been nearly three weeks since what is essentially an abortion ban went into effect in Texas.

And, yesterday, the first doctor was sued under the new law. Dr. Alan Braid of San Antonio, a physician of 50 years, revealed in a "Washington Post" op-ed over the weekend that he provided an abortion to a woman who was beyond the state`s six-week limit.

Braid says he knew the legal risks but acted because it was his duty as a doctor and that his patient has a fundamental right to receive this care. That admission has led to two lawsuits being filed against him, the details of which demonstrate the absurdity of what Texas Republicans have unleashed.

The first comes from a former lawyer in Arkansas. That`s right, Arkansas, who is currently under house arrest for a tax evasion sentence. The former lawyer decided to sue after reading a news report about the doctor`s declaration. He told reporters that he is not personally against abortion, but wanted to test the law, oh, and, of course, collect his bounty.

He said -- quote -- "I`m going to get an answer either way. If this is if this is a free-for-all, and it`s $10,000, I want my $10,000. And, yes, I do aim to collect."

The second suit comes from an Illinois man who, in his four-paragraph-long complaint, described himself as a pro-choice plaintiff. And his beef isn`t with the doctor, who he defended, but with the law itself, which he asked the court to strike down as invalid.

Now, we should remember the goal of the Texas law was not really to inspire lawsuits. The way it was written had two purposes. One was to avoid any preemptive legal challenges, which was accomplished when the Supreme Court refused to block the law from going into effect. The second was to instill enough fear in Texas abortion providers to bring the procedure to a standstill. That too appears to have happened.

But the fact that, as the law states, any person can become a bounty hunter shows how absurd the law is. Again, the two people filing suit have no connection to this doctor or to the person who got the abortion or even live in the state of Texas. Neither claims to even oppose abortion.

Of course, the anti-abortion groups that lobbied for the law are seeing the absurdity for themselves. John Seago from the state`s largest anti-abortion group told "The New York Times": "Both cases are self-serving legal stunts abusing the cause of action created in the Texas Heartbeat Act for their own purposes."

He added that he believes the doctor published his op-ed intending to attract imprudent lawsuits.

No, no, Mr. Seago, it was not this doctor or even the two plaintiffs who have abused the system. The lawsuits, as frivolous as they appear, are only happening because of the shameful and underhanded tactics that you and the other Republicans are using to attack women`s constitutional right to choose what happens to the own bodies.

And that, by the way, is the "Absolute Worst."

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.

Be sure to check out the REIDOUT blog for Ja`han`s take on the Gabby Petito case and how she became one of the biggest stories in news today.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.