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Transcript: The ReidOut, 9/29/21

Guests: Ro Khanna, Robert P. Jones, Matthew Dowd


Democrats scramble for deal on Biden agenda. January 6th select committee issues new subpoenas. GOP surrenders to extremism. Republicans gable with the economy.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much, have a great evening.

All right, everybody, good evening. We`re covering developments on Capitol Hill as Democrats push to avoid a government shutdown and pass Biden`s economic agenda.

There`s also breaking news from the January 6th committee which just in the last hour issued 11 new subpoenas seeking documents in depositions from people involved in planning and organizing some of the events and rallies leading up to the insurrection.

But we begin THE REIDOUT tonight with Republican extremism. The party has long since surrendered any semblance of a soul that it once might have had to the pernicious influence of the anti democratic and profligate spending former guy. And the carcass of the once grand old party has zombiefied into an extremist force.

Take for example the supposedly party of fiscal responsibility is now recklessly gambling with the entire United States economy. Senate Republicans chief ghoul Mitch McConnell continued to wake up and choose chaos, blocking efforts to raise the federal debt ceiling, bringing the U.S. a step closer to fiscal catastrophe. Because what`s more extreme than lighting a match and gleefully watching your own house burn just to own the libs?

Well, extremism is the name of the game for the party of Trump. Their content to cover up the atrocity of the January 6th insurrection and in states across the country, they`re showcasing the rampant insanity that they`d inflict on the entire country if they can just get the chance.

Case in point, Texas, where Republican Governor Greg Abbott is doing the orange man`s bidding looking into last year`s election for something that doesn`t exist while throwing the doors of Texas businesses and schools open to COVID. And the state`s equally subservient Attorney General Ken Paxton is going all-in defending the state`s law effectively banning abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Did I mention Ken Paxton is also under indictment for securities fraud? He is.

But, anyway, the Republicans in the state legislature fresh off passing voter suppression legislation are now cravenly trying to steal elections through redistricting, racially gerrymandering congressional districts to reduce the effect of population growth, which further recent census came entirely from black and Hispanic Texans to instead boost the political representation of the white voters who keep Republicans in power.

Of course, open racism from Texas Republicans is sadly no surprise since the Lone Star State`s lieutenant governor, former right-wing talk show host Dan Patrick lied and blamed Democrats and black Texans for the state`s surge in COVID.

But today, there is a challenge to all that tomfoolery in Texas. Former George W. Bush speechwriter Matthew Dowd announced that he is running against Patrick as a Democrat. And Matthew Dowd joins me now, along with Michael Steele, former Chairman and RNC and Host of the Michael Steele Podcast.

And, Matthew, before we get to your run in Texas, which sort of lit up Twitter this morning, I want to talk just this a little about the fact that we do have these new subpoenas. We`re getting closer and closer to finding out the logistics of how the insurrection went down. In your mind, what is the significance of this investigation that we`re seeing conducted by this special committee?

MATTHEW DOWD (D-TX) CANDIDATE LT. GOVERNOR: Well, it shows, I think it shows clearly, which we all knew that this wasn`t a spontaneous event. It shows clearly there was causation involved, there was -- they conspired to do this, they constructed this. It was a planned event that was facilitated by elected officials, which I actually think that`s where we finally are getting to in the course of this, that this was not just 5,000 people or 2,000 that just showed up because they wanted to do something and that just spontaneously went to the Capitol.

And that`s, I think, the most despicable part of this is that elected officials and it`s probably -- we`re probably going to learn that a lot of people knew this was being organized before it happened and then knew exactly what was going to happen and then it happened.

And so as you and I have talked before, Joy, to me, ultimately, there is only two ways to hold Republicans accountable. One is at the ballot box, which we absolutely have to do, and the other is in the courtroom. And until we hold them accountable in the courtroom for what happened, this is going to keep going on and on and on and only going to get worse.

REID: Yes. You know, Michael, I look through the names that were on this list, this is the press release that we just got. This happened about 30 minutes before the start of the show. The most notable names on it or at least the people we`ve heard of before, of course Katrina Pierson, who has sort of you know scurried around Republican politics in recent years, she worked for Donald Trump, and, of course, Amy Kremer who is the founder and chair of Women for America First. What do you expect to happen in terms of whether or not Republicans are going to start to respect the idea of a subpoena as these start to go out?


MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first off, let me say congratulations to my man, Matt. I`m excited for you brother, as a former party chair.

DOWD: Thank you.

STEELE: So, the reality, I think, is more to the fact that you`re going to see at least in the first iteration of this, Joy, folks just trying to play the Trump angle, be aggressive against the subpoena, you know, threaten and make a lot of noise. But that then makes a real important political point for Democrats. Okay. You`re doing a lot of issuing. You`re putting out a lot of paper. You better be calling some U.S. marshals and say keep the engine running because you`re making a few pickups.

And that part of this is the most -- it`s not so much what Republicans do or don`t do in the subpoenas. It`s how Democrats enforce the authority behind the subpoenas that they have issued. If they don`t, you will see a Trumpified process that the American people will lose faith in and the credibility of the January 6th commission, which is the ultimate endgame here for a lot of Republicans who don`t want to talk about January 6th, begins to dissipate and it becomes a non-issue and nothing the commission does after that will matter.

REID: Yes, it`s a really good point. All right, let`s talk Texas real quick, Matthew. So you were an adviser to George W. Bush before you publicly broke with the former president. So you`ve been a Republican. You are now running in the Democratic primary and you`re running for lieutenant governor. Let me play the current lieutenant governor, and this is Dan Patrick, embracing a thing that we`ve seen on the Fox News white power hour, Tuckums show, and it`s called the great replacement theory. Take a listen.


LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R-TX): The revolution has begun a silent revolution by the Democrat Party and 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 trying to take over our country without firing a shot.

We need every state, every red state, because the blue ones don`t do it to send and invoke article 4, section 4 of the Constitution, to tell the president that we are being invaded.


REID: You know, Matthew, white replacement theory used to be considered open racism that you really couldn`t say out loud. Now, it`s standard stuff you can say on Fox News and you can say from the seat of government in Texas. And the only reason Republicans are doing that is they think that would appeal in a mainstream way to white voters. So what is your plan to compete in a state where people like that routinely get elected?

DOWD: Well, thanks for having me and thank you, Michael, for your kind words. I mean, I think first of all, telling the truth, right, telling the truth, which is fundamentally missing in Texas leadership for five years, ten years or however long it`s been. They just don`t tell the truth. And Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor, is one of the worst at deception and lies in all of this.

And I think for your viewers, who always know about Greg Abbott, the governor, what they don`t understand is that in Texas, the lieutenant governor of Texas is the most powerful position in Texas. The lieutenant governor in Texas controls the legislature. So why we have voting rights restrictions was the lieutenant governor. Why we ended Roe versus Wade in Texas was the lieutenant governor. Why he tried to push a bathroom bill to keep transgender people from using bathrooms was this Texas lieutenant governor. All of these as why we had a permitless gun, openly carry guy bill was because of this lieutenant governor.

And so my view is the majority of Texans do not agree with any of this. And they`re betting -- Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick are betting on the idea they can appeal to a 5 percent of the primary, 5 percent of the voters in Texas, win the primary and win the general election.

And I am going to talk to Texans and basically say, if you want somebody that want Texas values, who believes in telling the truth, who believes in public service, who believes in servant leadership, who believes in common decency, which these folks don`t, then let`s have that.

If you expect it in your children and you expect in your brothers and sisters or at your expect it at your church, then expect it in your leaders at the Austin Capital. And I`m going to spend the next 405 days telling the truth about Dan Patrick. I`m going to tell the truth every day. He`s not going to like it, but I`m going to tell the truth about Dan Patrick.

REID: Do you expect the former president to endorse you? Do you think that he would want if you make it into the general?

DOWD: The former president has -- the former president made it a pattern to stay out of all politics. He did give that speech which he didn`t even mention the name. My guess is he`ll stay out. My guess is that`s what will happen. I`m going to have to go through fight for Democrats, fight for independence and hopefully there is enough enlightened, disenchanted Republicans that don`t like what is going on, that we`re going to be able to win. But my bet is on the people don`t want to hear the truth and I`m going to tell him the truth.


REID: You know, Michael Steele, you`re the former head of the Republican Party. The party, as it exists now, boasts people like Matt Gaetz, who is accused of sex trafficking a child, Ken Paxton currently under investigation, as we mentioned before, by the Texas state bar for filing the SCOTUS election lawsuit and also for abuse of his office. Kristi Noem, who allegedly strong armed a state official into giving her daughter a real estate license deal and the attorney general looking into her also has some issues, South Carolina A.G. who was investigating Noem. He killed a man while driving and pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, tried to deny he did it even although the man`s glasses were found in his car, Ronny Jackson, we can go on and on and on, he was found to be drunk while on the job, supposedly caring for the president of the United States, Corey Lewandowski, who is accused of sexual harassment, Lauren Boebert, who is not only not super bright and smart but also used campaign funds to pay her rent, on shooters or restaurant.

When the quality of leadership is so bad, but those people can still get elected. What does that say about the base in parties like Texas and do you think it`s viable for somebody like Matthew, obviously a descent and good man, to win in that kind of environment?

STEELE: Well, I think -- sure. I mean, and that`s one of the most important points was the last point you just made. You know, how you step and you push back against that narrative. These folks have been able to ride rough shot. There is no accountability. You`ve just heard Matthew layout, look, I`m going to hold this guy accountable. It`s not about his party label so much anymore.

I mean, you know, the party has been concerned, just as the Democrats were in the `80s and `90s, to watch Democrats leave the Democratic Party to become Reagan Democrats and come into the Republican Party, Republicans now face that same truth on the other side. And so you can one-off and call everybody RINO, but at the end of the day, you will start to lose elections.

And I think the real -- and I`ve been saying this for ten years now, Joy, that tip of the spear is where Matthew planning to run to lieutenant governor, it is, in fact, the state of Texas. And if the party is not paying attention to this, everybody knows what happens to the wigs, right? Yes. No, they don`t. They disappeared. It`s like who are the wigs? That`s the same reality for Republicans for a lot of voters out there. If you cannot speak by core values beyond trying to grift for me, scare me about people who aren`t showing up on my doorstep from some border far, far away, making noise about deconstructing the administrative state, undermining the Constitution, I don`t want to hear from you.

And that gives an opportunity and opening for candidates like Matthew to come out and have a different conversation with those very same voters. The hard core, Joy, they`re the hard core. They`ll be where they`re going to be. But the rest of the electorate right now, I think, is up for play and good to see Matthew wanting to challenge the system and push back. I`d love to see him do it as Republican but certainly appreciate the fact that he`s doing it as a Democrat.

REID: Well, listen, that I think people that have a critique of our system and who are afraid as you, and, Matt, you and I, we talk a lot about our fears for our republic. I like to see people who are willing to step up and put some skin in the game and do it.

Last question, very quickly, to you, what is your plan to appeal to voters of color who are under such threat and also to get around the rules that are going to make it so hard for them to vote?

DOWD: Well, my plan is that what every single decision made, it`s made in a room in Austin, they`re left out of the equation. Every single room right now that those decisions are made, whether it`s the lieutenant governor or the governor, they`re left out of the equation.

Matter of fact, they`re not only left out of the equation, they`re put as the brunt of the policy, and it starts with voting rights. Because if we don`t get voting rights back and I`m lieutenant governor, the first thing I`m going to do is rollback the voting rights restrictions and then comes rollback the Roe versus Wade restrictions. And then comes rollback the all of the other things they`ve done.

But the first thing we have to do is they need to be in the room where the decisions are made, and today, they`re not.

REID: Very quickly before we go, Michael Steele, do you have any announcements that you would like to make regarding potentially running for office to add to this segment? Tick, tick, tick.

STEELE: I do not have anything to add to this segment, although I had a conversation about that today, so we`ll see.

REID: You haven`t had it with me so you need to come back on and have it with me on this show with all our friends.

STEELE: I know how that plays, girl. I`m not stupid.

REID: Thank you very much. Matthew Dowd, best of luck to you sir. Michael Steele, my friend, thank you.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, the Biden agenda on the brink, there are a lot of moving parts and a lot at stake as Democrats fight to get his signature legislation through Congress and avert a shutdown.

Plus THE REIDOUT exclusive, three Democratic congresswomen tell their very personal abortion stories to NBC`s Ali Vitali.


REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): My mother`s friend said, look, I know a very good doctor but he`s in a back alley clinic in Mexico.


And I`ll never forget that night. I was terrified. I didn`t know what was taking place. And, in fact, you know, I survived.


REID: Also, the disturbing reality of the white evangelical movement, why so many followers now believe the gospel of Trump and anti-vax and QAnon.

And one year ago today, tonight`s absolute worst set the wheels in motion for the near overthrow of the U.S. government on January 6th.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



REID: Build Back better agenda.

In the past few days, the two senators have received VIP treatment because they are the key to making or breaking Democratic legislative priorities.

Sinema has been to the White House four times in two days. And, today, the president dispatched key staff to the Hill to chat with her one more time. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked flat out if they have gotten the impression that Sinema actually wants reconciliation to happen.


QUESTION: Does the president have a sense of whether she actually wants a package, a reconciliation package to go forward or not?


QUESTION: OK. And she wants to do it this year?

PSAKI: That`s our sense.


REID: Here`s the thing.

Politico is reporting something different. According to a person who spoke with the senator, she`s still not on board with the party`s $3.5 trillion social spending plan and is hesitant to engage on some specifics until the bipartisan infrastructure package passes the House.

As you can see, Sinema is being a little cagey, which is wild, given the impact this legislation could have on millions of Americans, including in Arizona. And progressives in the House are getting a little bit sick and tired of Kyrsten`s diva act.

Axios reports that California Congressman Ro Khanna described Sinemas evasiveness as -- quote -- "insane." He got some backup from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who told reporters that House Democrats want a firm agreement on legislative language on reconciliation. Sinema`s ally in this obstruction, Senator Joe Manchin, told reporters no dice.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): We have the most important piece of legislation I have ever had in the last 30 years, which is the bipartisan infrastructure. It does so much in so many ways, clean energy, everything we have talked about.

Why would you (OFF-MIKE) and move on and negotiate in good faith.

QUESTION: Progressives don`t trust you, sir. They don`t trust you that you`re going to be with them on the reconciliation bill.

MANCHIN: I trust that they will negotiate in good faith. And I trust them to negotiate in good faith. We`re just at a different position.


REID: Just a quick refresher here for all of you folks at home.

The people who negotiated the infrastructure bill a month ago, they all seem to have some things in common. So it should come as no surprise that a majority of the far more diverse, ideologically and otherwise, Progressive Caucus lacks trust and still plan on blocking the infrastructure bill.

Joining me now is Congressman Ro Khanna of California. He is the deputy whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Thank you very much for being here.

I want to let you listen to Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who seems like at this point she`s sort of competing with Joe Manchin to see who`s going to be the most obstructionist, most flagrantly obstructionist. Here she is talking about the frustrations of your caucus.


QUESTION: What do you say to progressives that are frustrated that they don`t know where you are?

SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): I`m in the Senate right here.

QUESTION: The progressives? There are progressives within the Senate that are frustrated that they don`t know where you are either.

SINEMA: I`m, like, clearly right in front of the elevator.


REID: I don`t know if that was supposed to be a joke, Congressman.

Kyrsten Sinema was in the House partly overlapping when you were there. She was there from 2013 to 2019. You have been there since 2017. Do people consider her at this point to be an honest negotiator, or just doing that smirky, comedic thing, whatever she thinks she`s doing, and not acting in good faith?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Well, first of all, Joy, congratulations on getting her on tape. I have never seen her do an interview. It`s like an oracle, an enigma. She never comes on television. She never answers journalism.

This is a first time she`s actually talking to the press, accountability.

REID: Can I just say that wasn`t...


REID: Though I will just have to not take credit for that personally, because you`re absolutely right.

We have invited her to be on this show repeatedly. And she`s repeatedly said no. But go on.

KHANNA: So, I guess the question is, what does she want?

I mean, we have had so many people have overtures to her. And the few who have gotten a response say she doesn`t want to discuss anything until the bipartisan bill passes. Now, she never reached out to any of us when she was -- quote, unquote -- coming up with this consensus agreement.

But the progressives have compromised so much, from $6 trillion to 3.5 trillion. We have compromised in saying it doesn`t even have to pass the Senate first. We`re willing to have an agreement in principle. We have said that we`re willing to negotiate and come down and front-load the benefits and reduce some of the years.

But how can we negotiate and compromise when the other person isn`t even willing to have a starting offer, not just to us, but not to the president? And that`s what`s so frustrating to so many people.

REID: I think, for a lot of people who are observing this, it feels like Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin just want to bank the $1.2 trillion bill that they negotiated with an all-white conservative set of friends.

They want that bill to pass. And then, afterwards, they have no problem walking away from the $3.5 trillion bill. Here`s Joe Manchin essentially saying just take the bill we did and call it a win. Take a listen.


Oh, hold on. I will just read it to you. Hold on. Let me find it.

He says here: "Spending trillions of dollars" -- oh, no, sorry. OK. "Spending trillions of dollars on new and expanded government programs, when we can`t even pay for the essential social programs, is the definition of fiscal insanity. I have made it clear to all those who would listen, we need to means-test any social programs so that we`re helping those in need the most, not spend for the sake of spending."

And then one more. This is element two for my producers.

Today, he said he had never heard of the linkage between the two bills, that he never heard of it, that the two of them will be linked together.

On June 29, he said: "I`m not going to vote for the other one because you haven`t guaranteed the vote for everything. You have never done legislation that way."

So he`s saying they`re not linked. But, back on June 24, not that long before that, he said that the link strategy is the only strategy we have. "Reconciliation is inevitable."

So, just similar question to what I asked about Sinema. Do you have any idea where Joe Manchin stands and whether there`s a real genuine commitment that they will ever vote on the reconciliation bill?

KHANNA: Joy, I think Senator Manchin will come along if Kyrsten Sinema isn`t out there obstructing. He always does at the end. And I believe he wants this president to succeed.

He`s in a state that Trump carried by 30 percent. Now, I think, on the substance, I disagree with him. If you look at the inflationary pressure -- Robert Rubin has made this point, Larry Summers. Centrists have said, if you have a bill where you raise taxes, and it`s paid for, it does not have an inflationary impact.

And this is over 10 years of productive investment. So, the economics suggest that this bill is not going to have an inflationary impact. But I actually believe he`s going to get on board.

The question is, why is there this artificial deadline of Thursday? Senator Manchin says we want to negotiate in good faith. Fine. Let`s continue to negotiate over a few weeks. Why did Senator Sinema create this deadline that, if we don`t do something on Thursday, I`m going to walk?

I mean, who legislates like that? She`s a first-term senator. I mean, as a first-term member of the Congress, or even a third-term member of Congress, if I said, if I`m not going to get my way, I`m going to walk, the speaker would laugh at me, understandably.

These -- politics is a team sport. And at the end of the day, we have to act on behalf of the American public. And we have to understand we have a president, President Biden. We have a speaker of the House and Senate majority leader. They have been there for many years. They have experience.

We can disagree, but have some respect and have some sense that there`s a coach and someone`s in charge of the team.

REID: Let`s go back. And I`m going to ask you sort of a similar question to the first one I asked you.

Jen Psaki said that the sense that the White House has is that, in the end, Kyrsten Sinema does want reconciliation to pass. Do you have that sense?

KHANNA: If she`s acting in her own political interests.

I mean, Nate Silver had a great post today saying that this is irrational from a political actor`s perspective. She`s basically inviting a primary challenge, and she won`t win on the Republican side because the Republican base will never accept her vote.

So, I don`t understand how she could sink the Democratic agenda. It`s not rational. Here`s what was remarkable to me about Jen Psaki`s statement. We have a sense that she want it?

REID: Yes. They don`t know.

KHANNA: I mean, can you imagine? I mean, the president of the United States, and imagine...

REID: Do you...


REID: Do you imagine that maybe the alternate explanation is that her -- she`s doing what her donors want because maybe she doesn`t care about running for reelection? Perhaps her relationship with those financial donors is what she wants?

KHANNA: Well, look, I don`t want to speculate on her integrity or her motives.

But I will say this. Just optics-wise, why would you have those fund- raisers in the midst of this discussion? It just shows an -- at the very least, it shows an indifference for the suspicion and the skepticism out there in the American public.

And, Joy, think about this. If there was a progressive woman of color who was holding up the entire president and Democratic Party`s agenda, imagine the outrage that they would face. And it is just remarkable to me that we have let this situation get to this point where a single first-term senator from a state that the president carried, when her own colleague Mark Kelly is fully on board, is holding up the entire Democratic agenda, holding up benefits for the working class and middle class, child care, free community college, expansion of Medicare, so people can go to their dentists or get basic hearing aids.

I mean, it`s unconscionable.

REID: We will continue to ask Senator Sinema to come on this show and explain all of that to our audience, to her colleagues in Congress.

And you`re right. I think it might be more respectful for her to at least answer those questions. We shall see.

Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you very much. Really appreciate you being here this evening.

All right, coming up: The political and deeply personal will merge for three congresswomen tomorrow, when they share their own stories of abortion at a House hearing on reproductive rights.


NBC`s Ali Vitali spoke with these women. That exclusive interview is next.


REID: Tomorrow, three congresswomen will testify on their deeply personal stories of abortion at a House hearing on reproductive rights.

In an exclusive, which you are seeing first on THE REIDOUT, NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Ali Vitali spoke with those congresswomen about their experiences, ranging from what abortion looked like before Roe v. Wade, to grappling with the aftermath of traumatic experiences at a young age.


REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): When I found out that I was pregnant, it was very difficult because I`d still didn`t understand what was happening. I didn`t even realize how -- like, what to do. I just knew that I wasn`t ready for a child.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I just realized that there was no way I could have another baby at that time, and that I could not go through what I had gone through.

I had gone through postpartum depression after Janak`s birth. I even contemplated suicide at one time. And I knew that I was not ready to go through that again.

REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): My mother`s friend said: "Look, I know a very good doctor, but he`s in a back alley clinic in Mexico."

I was terrified. I didn`t know what was taking place. And, in fact, I survived. And why it`s so important now for me to tell the story is, I don`t want any woman to ever have to go through that. I know what that back alley looked like. I know what that dark light looked like.

I see it right now. Like I say, I was one of the fortunate ones.


REID: With me now is Ali Vitali, NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent.

And, Ali, wow. You can just see the emotion the faces of those members. It`s Pramila Jayapal, Barbara Lee, and Cori Bush, very, very personal stories.

ALI VITALI, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Very personal stories, and a preview of what we`re probably going to hear from them tomorrow in that House oversight hearing that`s focused on reproductive rights.

But, Joy, I really want to take you inside the room for our interview, because there was a lot of apprehension from these lawmakers. Some of these women had never told these stories before. They shared them with us for the first time on camera.

And both the stories and the circumstances of what led these women to make these decisions were all different. The stories also spanned three generations, from women who only knew a world post Roe vs. Wade to a woman who experienced firsthand how dangerous abortions were before that landmark Supreme Court case.

During the interview, I could really see these congresswomen internalizing each other`s stories. When we finished, there was a moment where they all hugged, they embraced. It was filled with a sense of relief, of solidarity, that they were sharing these difficult stories, but they weren`t sharing them alone.

Tomorrow, that`s what they will do as part of the official -- official congressional record. But more than just that testimony, Joy, you and I know how deeply partisan and deeply entrenched this policy debate is between Republicans and Democrats.

Other female lawmakers across the country have shared similar personal stories, in hopes of changing the policy conversation. And, frankly, it hasn`t worked.

Congresswoman Cori Bush, though, when I asked her if she thought these personal stories could change minds, she remained resolute.


BUSH: My mind changed just being so deep into my church. And it wasn`t until later on, years later, that I started to realize, like, wait a minute, it should not be a partisan thing. It should be about humanity, humanity and then what is best, because what may be good for me may not be good for the other person.

But the freedom to make that decision has to be there.


VITALI: And, Joy, an important thread to think about ahead of the hearings tomorrow is, these women are appearing as experts, when that`s really the foundation of the Democratic argument right now around reproductive rights, that women should be legally free to make their own reproductive decisions as experts about their own bodies.

REID: Yes.

As I think about these hearings, the thing that I think that a lot of women dread is watching these women testify and potentially be mansplained by members of the other party, who are not having a genuine debate about women`s rights and women`s liberties. They`re having a debate about performing for Donald Trump, right, in the most aggressive way they can.

Let me play Ted Cruz just for a moment today doing that performance.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): What this is really about is trying to demonize Texas and trying to demagogue on the question of life.

Now, when it comes to demonizing Texas, I suppose I can understand the incentive of Senate Democrats to do so. Chairman Durbin is from Illinois. I just looked up the statistics in the year 2020 of what states people are moving out of. The number one state is New Jersey. The number two state is New York. The number three state is Illinois.


REID: And, of course, talking about fleeing states would probably not be his best move.

But when you spoke with these three congresswomen, are they emotionally prepared to be potentially lectured, maybe even bullied by the likes of people like Ted Cruz?

VITALI: We broached this, both from the perspective of people on this committee having spoken pretty graphically about abortion and women who choose to have them, but also we spoke about this from the security angle, because these women in some cases have shared their stories before.

They have faced both the onslaught of people online and in other forums attacking them for making this choice. But, at the same time, all of them told me that, for as many of those comments and threats that they got, they also heard from people who may live in Republican districts who had seen parts of their own personal stories reflected in these lawmakers` stories.


And so that was really the crux of the interview. In talking to these lawmakers, they said they`re prepared for the threats. In many of these cases, they`re receiving them already for other policy stances that they have taken. They`re ready on that front. They`re always ready there.

At the same time, though, they say that the benefit of sharing their stories, no matter how difficult it is for them to do that -- and you could see them in that video struggling with retelling these traumatizing, in some cases, stories for them.

They say the upside of that is worth it because there could be women and people who could be pregnant out there who could see themselves in them and feel reflected in some of the most powerful people in American government.

REID: Very powerful and very brave. And, yes, just being a woman of color in public -- in American public life right now for them is probably already difficult.


REID: Congress members are getting myriad threats all the time.

Ali Vitali, really wonderful story. Really great. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. Well done.

Coming up: Religion expert Robert P. Jones sounds the alarm on the destructive path of the white evangelical right. What happens when extremism comes to church?

That`s next. Stay with us.



REID: Over the past few decades, the white evangelical movement has gone from a quarter of the population to just 14 percent.

While their numbers are on the decline, their involvement in fringe movements is on the rise. Among religious groups, white evangelicals are the most likely to refuse COVID-19 vaccines. One in four have jumped on the QAnon conspiracy bandwagon.

And, of course, we can`t forget that they also make up the largest religious group to support Trump L`Orange.

Robert Jones, the CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, describes the crumbling of this bulwark of white Christian America and breaks down what he says is one of the vexing puzzles in our politics, how a purportedly sober Christian world view has become a volatile cocktail of fealty to Donald Trump, wild-eyed rants about vaccines, faith in QAnon conspiracies and hysteria over Critical Race Theory.

And with me now is Robert P. Jones, is also the author of "White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity," which everyone should read.

Robbie, I always love talking with you. Thank you for being here.

Some of your polling -- and you are one of the best pollsters out there with some of the biggest samples -- one in three white evangelicals believe that because things have gotten so far off-track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.

You noted to our producers that PRRI, Public Religion Research Institute, didn`t even think about asking that question prior to Trump. What changed?

ROBERT P. JONES, CEO AND FOUNDER, PUBLIC RELIGION RESEARCH INSTITUTE: Yes, well, Joy, it`s a pleasure to be with you. So thank you for having me on tonight.

But I think that`s right. I mean, as a pollster and a social scientist has, been doing this for decades, there are polling questions that we have had to write in these last four years that I never dreamed, as a social scientist, that we would have to write, things about whether people believe that there`s a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles running the government, whether a mainstream religious group would be convinced that -- that significant numbers of them would be convinced that they should kill or physically assault their fellow citizens in order to bring about political outcomes.

And they will openly say that on a public opinion survey. We are truly in uncharted territory.

REID: And you write in this brilliant "TIME" about your own growing up as a white evangelical Christian, and how it was all about personal morality, which, in your view, sort of crowded out having to care about other people.

Is it that? Is it that people are coming up in a religious construct that says all that matters is, if I sin, I personally seek salvation, and it`s just about that, and I don`t have to really worry about my fellow man, the poor, the immigrant?

JONES: Yes, I describe it as a kind of holding a light too close to your face, where the background just recedes from being visible, and that that`s the effect of this kind of hyperfocus on personal morality, personal sin, that it really does occlude any sense of social justice.

And I give a list in the piece of all these things, the murder of Medgar Evers. I didn`t even know the name Medgar Evers. He lived -- my driveway was 11 miles from his driveway growing up. And I went through my entire high school and college experience in Mississippi never hearing his name, right?

REID: Wow.

JONES: And so that tells you something about what`s been hidden, right, by this world view that was so focused on personal morality, but, absolutely, and I think by design -- and that`s the important thing to say here.

It was no accident, right, that they all just constructed this way, because it`s the only way that a world view that can be simultaneously so concerned with personal sin and so indifferent to and even actively working against equal rights for black and brown Americans at the same time, can really exist.

REID: Yes.

I grew up in the Methodist Church, where care for the immigrant was like a central -- the plank of our faith.

You have polled this question: Are immigrants invading our country and replacing our cultural and ethnic background?; 68 percent of Americans say no; 59 percent of white evangelicals say yes.

They are the only group, religious group, per PRRI polling, with a majority who believes immigrants are invading our country.

That`s frightening. What`s behind that?

JONES: You know, it`s a very old idea, but we have been hearing a lot about it on FOX and other places, kind of Replacement Theory, right, as we have been hearing this.

REID: Yes.

JONES: And, again, as a scholar, as someone who studied American history, this comes right out of the Klan.


I mean, this is old white supremacist language that we thought, again, that we had moved past. But we`re finding it circling back around again, and not just being hinted at, but said very openly, right, this idea -- and the only thing you have to do to interrogate that language is ask, well, who`s the "our" who`s being threatened here, right?

And the clear answer is, it`s white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant Christians that are being threatened here and this idea...

REID: And...


REID: I mean, there is this sort of sense of self-victimhood. There is a bit of a whininess to it, right?

Is this about a genuine loss of power? Because it does seem to me that white Christians are still largely in power in most -- throughout most industries, throughout most parts of our government, throughout society. It`s not economic anxiety. That was B.S. that the media fell for in 2016. So what is it that they`re afraid of?


REID: Is it merely the browning of the country? Is that all it takes to send people into the arms of what used to be Klan thinking?

JONES: You know, it`s pretty much that. I mean, really, it`s fairly straightforward.

It really is this idea that America was designed to be and intended to be, divinely ordained to be a white Christian country, right? And that is so deeply in the DNA of many white Christians that, as the country is changing, as it`s shifting, that really what we`re seeing is this kind of psychic break.

And, I mean, really, that`s the reason I wrote the piece today. I think, in many ways, what we`re -- if you look at those school board meetings, where people are just ranting about vaccines or Critical Race Theory, this is so far from -- our marching with the Christian flag alongside the Confederate Flag on our Capitol.

I mean, this is so far from the prince of peace, turn the other cheek Jesus of the New Testament, that we really are seeing a kind of break.

REID: Yes.

JONES: And that break, I think, is linked to the fact that, to kind of use a good sociology word here, the plausibility structures, right, have collapsed, right?

That world that used to be the dominant forces in America, those institutions, have kind of collapsed. And the theology now is, I think, in a desperate kind of freefall.

REID: Yes.

JONES: And so this is what we`re seeing, is people -- it literally is a kind of psychic break and a kind of desperate flailing around that we`re seeing in public, as people are trying to wrap their heads around this.

REID: Yes. And we saw it during the civil rights era too, same group.

Thank you, Robert P. Jones. You`re great. Thank you very much.

All right, don`t go anywhere. Tonight`s "Absolute Worst" is up next. One of Donald Trump`s true low points happened one year ago today. It was a moment that ushered in one of the most dangerous periods in American political history.

That is next




CHRIS WALLACE, MODERATOR: Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups...


WALLACE: ... and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities, as we saw in Kenosha and as we`ve seen in Portland?

TRUMP: Give me a name. Give me a name. Go ahead.

WALLACE: White supremacists and...

BIDEN: White supremacists...




WALLACE: White supremacists and right-wing militia.

TRUMP: Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.


REID: Wow.

It was one year ago today that Donald Trump gave the Proud Boys his vote of confidence. When asked to condemn them, as you can see, he did the exact opposite: "Stand back and stand by."

In turn, the far right extremist group not only accepted his endorsement. They adapted his words as their slogan and promptly incorporated it into their logo. Of course, the Proud Boys did stand by Trump. And when he invited them to Washington to stop the so-called steal, they gladly oblige, violently.

In fact, NPR reports today that the 12 months that followed Trump`s notorious statement have overall been a period of growth for the Proud Boys. It`s one example of how Trump`s call to arms has heralded one of the most dangerous periods in the history of American politics.

Since then, we have increasingly seen Republicans cozy up to these right- wing militias and extremist groups, like the Oath Keepers, 3 Percenters, AFPAC and QAnon. They`re following Trump`s lead, trying to make the fringe mainstream.

And that`s exactly true of the sedition caucus in Congress, who`ve been rallying behind the alleged perpetrators of the attempted coup. In doing so, the GOP is enabling and empowering these extremist elements to commit more violence.

According to the chief of Capitol Police, we have never had the level of threats against members of Congress that we are seeing today. And according to the FBI, there are now more than twice as many open investigations into domestic terrorism than international terrorism.

In fact, the top counterterrorism official at the Department of Homeland Security testified today that some current and former elected officials are amplifying propaganda that fuels violent extremism.

At the same time, there seems to be a lack of accountability for those who`ve already acted on their extremist impulses. For instance, one January 6 defendant named Dawn Bancroft is on video threatening to murder Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying she wanted to shoot the speaker in the brain.

And yet she was charged with misdemeanors and pleaded guilty to only one. Even the judge in her case questioned why she was not charged with threatening a government official, which is a felony. Felony charges would certainly seem appropriate, given the lynch mob that showed up that day.

Now, I should note that cases from January 6 are literally clogging up our legal system, which may explain why some are getting off so easy, or maybe there`s just a reluctance for the criminal justice system to hold people accountable when those people are part of the Republican base.

Sure wish we had a critical theory on race and justice to discuss that.

According to Pew Research, the share of Republicans who say it`s important to prosecute the January 6 insurrectionists is steadily declining. All this explains why the right`s embrace of domestic terrorists and their attempts to normalize violence as politics, which one might call fascism, is the "Absolute Worst."

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT.