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Transcript: The ReidOut, 9/6/21

Guests: Maria Hinojosa, Robert Reich, Danya Perry, Nancy Erika Smith, Irin Carmon

Summary

Biden returns to White House ready to push fall agenda; Biden eyes ambitious domestic agenda heading into September; Unemployment aid ending for millions as delta rages; Federal unemployment assistance ending for millions; 7.5 million lose all federal unemployment benefits; Millions of Americans face uncertain future after unemployment benefit end; Biden braces for fight with GOP over safety net and infrastructure; New subpoenas show criminal probe intensifying; More Trump org staffers testify under oath.

Transcript

YASMIN VOSSOUGHIAN, MSNBC HOST: You are watching MSNBC, everybody. I`m Yasmin Vossoughian. We are going to start this hour on Labor Day with a focus on economy and politics. The president back at the White House gearing up for big fights ahead, pushing a domestic agenda that could reshape the American economy, including infrastructure and what would be the most significant expansion of the safety net since the 1960s.

And Congress also soon returning to Washington, the House hoping to hold votes on both the $3.5 trillion spending package and the $1 trillion infrastructure deal, and it couldn`t come at a more pressing time for so many Americans as unemployment benefits to protect workers at the height of this pandemic expired today.

7.5 million people are set to lose their jobless benefits this week. Nearly 3 million are losing a $300 weekly boost to their state benefits. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh today, saying states can choose to use other funds to extend those benefits.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTY WALSH, LABOR SECRETARY: We have allowed governors across the country, if they need to, to look at using CARES money. It should be using rescue plan money to extend the unemployment benefit in their state if they need to. The rate is different all across the country. So it really is about how do we continue to get the economy back and running.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: Meanwhile, millions still struggling to find work in the middle of the delta variant surge and many will soon be facing the reality of losing their housing as the Supreme Court struck down President Biden`s eviction moratorium extension.

Let`s talk about this. Joining me, Robert Reich, former Clinton Labor Secretary and Author of The System Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, Maria Hinojosa, Founder of Futuro Media, her memoir is Once I was You. And back with us, Political Strategist Susan Del Percio.

All right, Maria, I want to start with you on this one. Extended jobless benefits have been a critical lifeline, as I mentioned, to millions of Americans. Who will suffer most now with these benefits done?

MARIA HINOJOSA, LATINO USA ANCHOR & EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: I`m telling you, Yasmin, I`ve been traveling. Finally, I have been getting out and about. So, I was in Arizona. I was in Mississippi, where the delta variant is just on fire. And I am thinking about the people who are being most affected, and the fact that they don`t really have a safety net.

So I think one of the things that we have to kind of realize in the United States of America, the greatest country in the world, the most advanced country in the world, but what really is keeping people going is kind of community efforts, community efforts to keep people fed especially now that they are going the lose these unemployment benefits or if there is a possible eviction.

So it`s a particular moment in the United States where it is like neighbors helping neighbors?

VOSSOUGHIAN: Yes.

HINOJOSA: But to me, the problem is that how does that jive with the fact that we are the most advanced country in the world with all of this great technology but people in our country are suffering right now.

VOSSOUGHIAN: All right. Robert, so, Maria is telling us we need community efforts. You wrote the book on it. How do you fix it? Before you tell me your solution, hopefully everybody is listening in case you have a good one, I want to play a piece of sound that we have from someone who also was depending on these jobless benefits whose life was drastically changed after losing their job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENON HUSSEY, LOSING ENCHANCED JOBLESS BENEFITS: You don`t ever anticipate it happening. 18 months ago ,our family was thriving, two-earner home -- household, both of us working, successful.

This pandemic has been a rude awakening for us and has significantly altered the path of our live in a way that we didn`t anticipate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: This pandemic, Robert, has been a rude awakening for so many Americans. And Maria is completely right, there is no safety net for so many of these Americans. But this is not something new. This has been persistent for quite some time. And the disparity that we have in our country right now financially has been front and center, especially during this pandemic, and the recent natural disasters that we have experienced with the flooding. How do we fix it? What do we do?

ROBERT REICH, FORMER U.S. LABOR SECRETARY, CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: Well, one thing we have to do, obviously, and Maria is absolutely right, is strengthen our safety net. And this is where the bill that is winding its way through Congress, that $3.5 trillion, becomes so critical. It`s not as if the pandemic is going away. In fact, it`s not as if pandemics are going away.

People need the help that is in this $3.5 trillion bill. They need help with child care. They need help with a safety net that`s a stronger safety net. People need to make sure that our children, in fact, all of us have a responsibility to make sure that child poverty drops.

[19:05:05]

It`s all in this bill.

I think the real question is, is there enough urgency? Do people care enough? Is there enough sense that the timing is right to get this bill actually enacted? Along with the infrastructure bill. Both are critical.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Do you think that people do care enough?

REICH: I think that people care enough, Yasmin, but what`s -- I have been around for too many years to believe that it`s easy to get stuff through Washington. You have got right now -- the public is not only distracted by the pullout of Afghanistan, the administration is distracted, but also the Democrats have not really had a chance yet to explain to the public what`s in this bill.

I know Bernie Sanders is out there and some other Democrats are out there but the public really does need to be educated. If they know it and they understand it, they will support it. And if they support it, chances are their representatives or their senators, particularly Democrats, will vote for it. But there is that big bound -- that big barrier of understanding and that big barrier of getting knowledge out there about what`s in this bill.

VOSSOUGHIAN: So you said the key phrase, which is chances are, right? And I go back to the person that we have talked about most the last couple months, Susan Del Percio, which is Joe Manchin, and we know where he stands now on this reconciliation bill. A lot of Democrats worried that he is not going to get onboard, they are not going to get this thing across the finish line. You are advising Republicans and Democrats right now, specifically Democrats, I should say. What do you tell them in how do they get the reconciliation, $3.5 billion reconciliation bill, across the finish line?

REICH: Yasmin, what I --

VOSSOUGHIAN: Susan first and then, Robert, I`ll come back to you.

REICH: Okay.

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: What Joe Manchin, has said is he has a hard time wrapping his head around the $3.5 trillion number. That`s not to say that he may not be happy with $2.5 trillion. But it could --

VOSSOUGHIAN: But they have already significantly -- let`s be clear. They`ve already significantly reduced the price tag that Joe Biden put out, the president, put out there in the first place. On top of that, they significantly reduced the price tag when it comes to infrastructure as well. So, important to note that. I mean, if Joe Manchin is asking for them to reduce it to $2.5 trillion, you full well know, Susan Del Percio, because I know you know politics quite well, progressive Democrats won`t get on board with that, and then they`re going to have whole another problem.

DEL PERCIO: They will, unless there is something else. I mean, we just don`t know what happens behind the scenes. I think it is completely possible that maybe they go for $2.5, $2.8 trillion, and Joe Marchin allows a carve-out for voting rights. There`s a lot at play. There`s a lot of moving parts. And, frankly, this is where President Biden excels in moving those pieces around the board.

So I do think that there is -- there is something to be said, that there will be some kind of compromise where everyone can live with it. But let`s not also forget right now Joe Biden needs a win. And that`s what the administration is going to be focused on. I do not think that Democrats will allow everything to fall apart and offer nothing.

At the last effort, when it comes to his domestic policy, Joe Biden may also have to come in and say, you know what, it is time to get rid of the filibuster. Because, frankly, Yasmin, the Republicans will do it the moment they get power back. And as a result, I think it says no one says, oh, I am not voting --

VOSSOUGHIAN: But so far, so far, we have not heard that.

DEL PERCIO: We haven`t heard it. But I think that they`re -- I do think that Biden does have the ability to move some things around. And, again, if Democrats need to be motivated, here`s what you could be motivated by. Saying, I won the minority and I couldn`t get an agenda through, and now we also got rid of the filibuster.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Maria Hinojosa, how do you think progressive Democrats would react to the president moving some things around and the possibility of reducing the reconciliation bill to $2.5 trillion but to maybe get a win on voting rights, which would be doing away with the filibuster? I mean, that, to me, sounds far out. I`m just putting that out there. But -- but, listen, anything is possible. So, Maria, weigh in for me first.

HINOJOSA: Here`s what I think that, okay, we are making some generalizations, right?

VOSSOUGHIAN: Yes.

HINOJOSA: But the people really would like to see much more -- I don`t know if Susan is going to agree with this. I`m sure Robert will. But much more progressive action on the part this administration, radically more progressive. So the kinds of chipping away makes it difficult. On the other hand, voting rights is essential. Otherwise, this democracy will fall apart.

But I think what needs to happen with the Democrats is they need to maintain control of the narrative, do not allow Republicans to take control of the narrative as they have been trying to yet again. And you have to be more radical.

Again, I think that`s what`s going to lead Joe Biden to make sure that he gets the immigrant vote, makes sure he gets the Latino and Latina vote, which is the second largest voting bloc.

[19:10:08]

They are expecting a president to react more radically in the face of Ida, climate change, Afghanistan, refugees, Texas with the Supreme Court and women being denied access to reproductive rights. There is so much that`s coming at us, I really feel like people want to see a much more progressive, much more progressive, which does make it difficult for kind of the middle of the road Democrats, but that`s where I think that they lose.

VOSSOUGHIAN: And, Robert, you talked about the fact that voting rights is directly correlated with the economy. So weigh in for me on that, first and foremost. And also, if Bernie Sanders was sitting here on this panel, he would say -- that would be great, by the way, but he would say, listen, $3.5 trillion is still not even enough to do what we need to do across the board.

REICH: Bernie Sanders actually agreed to 3.5, but that was much less than Joe Biden originally wanted. I think the problem here for the Democrats on the Hill is that the window of opportunity is closing very rapidly. I mean, you have got Nancy Pelosi -- September 27th is the deadline she agreed to for putting the infrastructure bill before the House. But there are a lot of progressive Democrats in the House who say, no, we don`t want to vote on the infrastructure bill separate from the $3.5 trillion social safety net bill.

And so it`s all going to come to a head very, very, very rapidly. And Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders are going to have to work this out with Joe Biden. I absolutely agree that Joe Biden is an inside player, he`s going to be there working with Manchin and Sanders. The thing that worries me most though is voting rights. As you said, voting rights is a key. But voting rights is not in the $3.5 trillion.

VOSSOUGHIAN: No.

REICH: It is not in obviously the infrastructure. It`s separate. It needs a carve-out from the filibuster. And that`s going to be the biggest fight of the fall.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Okay, couple of things you said that I want you to weigh in on. First, do you think, because this deadline for Speaker Pelosi, do you think that they should be voting in tandem on infrastructure and reconciliation or separate?

REICH: You are asking me?

VOSSOUGHIAN: Yes, sorry. Robert, I am asking you.

REICH: I think they have to vote in tandem. That`s what she promised the progressives. And she said that there would be a vote. She said to the moderates, the mod squad on the Hill, there would be a vote by the 27th. But she said to the progressives it`s going to be at the same time as the vote on the $3.5 trillion.

So she`s going to somehow have enough of a bill in front of her to put them both before the House at exactly the same time. It is going to be a very rough three and a half weeks.

VOSSOUGHIAN: So, okay, another follow-up I have for you, Robert, which is do you think the reconciliation bill and infrastructure could actually significantly reduce, make a dent in the economic disparity that we have in this country so Americans are not suffering the way they are right now? Do you think it has a real case for that?

REICH: It would make a big, big difference. We know that the child tax credit, for example, which is a refundable benefit, that brings down the child poverty rate by half, by 50 percent, in this year. It needs to be made permanent. And that`s -- I mean, relative to the cost of defense and military and much more big other expenses, this is very small, but it would be very, very significant. Can you imagine bringing child poverty doesn`t by half?

But we also need to pay for it. And this is the other part of the inequality equation. Because in this bill are tax increases on the wealthy and on corporations. They are lobbying like crazy in Washington right now. They don`t want tax increases but it is necessary. It`s fair. It must be done.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Yes. Meanwhile, you have billionaires trying to go to space when some Americans don`t have a belt to keep their pants on. It`s that much of a difference in what is happening in this country right now.

Last question to you, Maria Hinojosa, saying that you`ve been out in about and talking to folks. Do you feel like Americans really have a grasp for what`s inside these bills?

HINOJOSA: No, not at all. In fact, I think what`s worrisome is that in the last administration, there was so much bluster that people were kind of paying attention all the time. Now, people are like, all right, we are in this plateau of pandemic that just won`t go away and desperation.

I do worry -- I think Robert was right at the very top. How do you get people to understand and grasp this? It`s very difficult. There is a lot of suffering that`s going on right now. That`s what we are talking about. And I am not sure how we are going to make it through, except for helping one another, which is kind of desperate.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Yes. I was going to say that it is very hard to grasp something like this that you know will eventually help you when you are suffering so much, for instance, when I was out reporting on the storm last week, walking to someone`s home who has just lost every everything, has no idea where they`re going to leave. Just spend a time to them figure out, okay, this is something that I need to call my state senators about. This is something I need to call my congressperson about to make sure they are supporting.

[19:15:00]

It is hard when people are suffering so much.

Robert Reich, Maria Hinojosa, Susan Del Percio, thank you all guys. Great conversation. I appreciate it.

REICH: Thanks.

VOSSOUGHIAN: We`ve got a lot more ahead at this hour on MSNBC. Attorney General Garland making news on the Supreme Court failing to block an attack on women`s rights.

And new details on Trump Org staffers going under oath in that criminal probe.

Plus, how one town became the epicenter of the battles over critical race theory. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VOSSOUGHIAN: Welcome back. The probe in the Trump Org is heating up as Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance prepares for his retirement this December. The New York Times reporting that prosecutors are weighing tax related crime charges against Trump Organization Chief Operating Officer Matthew Calamari Sr. The executive used to be Trumped bodyguard and prosecutors last week may have gotten a little closer to evidence they need because his son, Matthew Calamari Jr., also a Trump Org executive, testified under oath before the grand jury.

[19:20:06]

A former Trump Organization executive, Barbara Res, said his testimony would be -- quote -- "useful."

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA RES, FORMER TRUMP ORGANIZATION EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: And Calamari`s kid, yes, he`s going to be useful. He can talk about on his own perks, and perhaps his father`s perks, and maybe he has some more information about Donald Trump. So I`m encouraged by it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: So, a lawyer for both father and son last week saying -- quote -- "They have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide."

Joining me now is former SDNY prosecutor Danya Perry and former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks.

Welcome to you both. Thanks for joining us on this.

Jill, everyone`s been lighting up my Twitter about your pin. It looks beautiful, by the way. Thank you always for bringing the best pins whenever you join us.

Danya, I want to start with you.

And I kind of want to just get the news of these possible more criminal charges. What does this say about the criminal probe right now?

DANYA PERRY, FORMER SDNY PROSECUTOR: It says that it`s still a hot investigation, it`s active, it`s ongoing. There were those in the Trump sphere and family who were doing the victory lap when the first set of charges were announced.

Clearly, that is not going to be the last set of charges. They are turning up the health. And, frankly, going after Calamari`s son is a pretty hyperaggressive move. I remember, when I was interviewing for a position at the U.S. attorney`s office 20 years ago, and I was asked as an interview question, would you cooperate a child against a parent or a parent against a child.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Yes.

PERRY: And I was flummoxed. It`s a tough one.

So they are not messing around. And they are going gangbusters and pursuing all avenues. So, the reports are that Calamari Jr. and the CFO -- or the, controller, rather, were both in. Both apparently have information about Calamari Sr. and certainly against others.

And so, oftentimes, prosecutors will pick off the low-hanging fruit, and they will try and cooperate up folks who have actionable information against those who are more senior within the organization.

Here, certainly, that could be Calamari Sr. It could certainly be Weisselberg. And, of course, there are other targets that are possible as well.

VOSSOUGHIAN: So, at this -- yes.

PERRY: So, this is -- this is a live case.

VOSSOUGHIAN: It`s a live case.

So, Jill Wine-Banks, at this point, does it seem as if Calamari Jr. is the low-hanging fruit? And at what point do we get the fruit on top of the tree?

(LAUGHTER)

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, of course, the top of the tree to me is Donald Trump. And that will take more evidence than probably Calamari Jr. has. We don`t know how directly he is connected to knowledge of Donald Trump.

So we will have to wait and see on that. But I think that Danya is absolutely correct that this is a live case, that I think they will be hoping to wrap it up while Vance is still the district attorney. He is not running for re -- he didn`t run for reelection. There is a new district attorney who will start in December.

And they have spent a lot of resources going to the Supreme Court twice to get the tax returns of Donald Trump. They have already indicted Weisselberg the CFO. It is certainly possible that they will now indict the COO, who is Calamari Sr. And I think that there`s a lot going on.

When you look at the case, people have said, oh, it`s just a benefits case, fringe benefits that weren`t reported.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Yes.

WINE-BANKS: It isn`t that. This is a 15-year fraud. It`s a conspiracy. It`s double bookkeeping. They kept fraudulent books.

So it`s much more than that. And everybody says, including -- you had Barbara Res commenting there. And she has always said nothing happens at Trump Organization that Donald Trump didn`t know about. So the chances are, he knew what was going on. He wrote the checks for Weisselberg children`s or grandchildren`s tuition.

So he certainly knew about that. And that`s why we have a big case going.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Aside from calling Calamari Jr. testifying before a grand jury, what leads you to believe that Calamari Sr. could feasibly be indicted in the coming months ahead of Cy Vance`s retirement?

WINE-BANKS: The evidence that we have seen so far suggests that he got the same apartment and car benefits that Weisselberg got and reported them in the same way.

We don`t know that yet. I haven`t seen his tax returns. I don`t know how he reported it. I don`t know how the company accounted for it. I know that they fraudulently accounted for Weisselberg`s I will call them fringe benefits, even though I have just said it`s much more than a fringe benefits case.

[19:25:01]

So it would seem likely that he is a target. And the fact that he wasn`t subpoenaed to testify is because, in New York, they have a very strange rule that isn`t common. And that is, if you testified before the grand jury, you are automatically immunized and cannot be prosecuted for anything you testify about.

So you don`t want to put anyone before the grand jury that you think you might indict. And so the fact that the senior Calamari wasn`t put before the grand jury, even though he likely, as COO, has much more knowledge, makes me believe that he is a target.

VOSSOUGHIAN: So, Danya, Jill talked about Cy Vance and his retirement and the likelihood that he will wrap this case right before he retires.

We have known about this retirement now for quite some time. I believe it`s been up to a year that we have known that he was going to retire.

The likely replacement to Cy Vance that is Alvin Bragg. I want to take a listen to his answer when asked about the Trump probe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALVIN BRAGG, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY CANDIDATE: I led the team that held Trump and his children accountable for their misconduct with the Trump Foundation.

So, I go where the facts go. I do know that, in complex investigations -- I have come into them late in the stage before, being brought in to try complex cases. It`s important to have consistency and continuity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: So, Danya, what is the motivation for Cy Vance to wrap this thing up before, in fact, he retires? And if he does not, how does that complicate things if it changes hands?

PERRY: I fully agree with Jill. I am certain that he is motivated to wrap this up before he leaves office. It will be a legacy case for him.

He has presided over this for some two years now. And so I think he will find it -- feel responsible to wrap up the charges, or at least get them in pretty good shape before he leaves office.

But I will say I have known Alvin for many, many years as a friend, but as a federal and state prosecutor. It`s exactly as he said. He will follow the evidence where it goes. He`s dogged. He`s meticulous. He`s smart. And he will -- if it is not wrapped up, he will look at it very closely himself, will scrutinize the evidence, and he will go exactly where the facts and the evidence and witnesses take him.

So if it`s not wrapped up, it will be in very good hands with Alvin Bragg.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Danya Perry, Jill Wine-Banks, thank you to both, ladies. Thanks for joining us on this Labor Day evening.

Coming up everybody, NBC`s new podcast goes inside the fight over a school diversity plan that is tearing one small community apart.

Plus, a Texas judge temporarily stops the state`s new restrictive abortion law, but will the Supreme Court weigh in?

And Trump on a sculpture of Mount Rushmore. A GOP governor is involved.

All that and more ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:31:45]

VOSSOUGHIAN: Tonight, new gains for abortion rights advocates fighting against that new Texas abortion law.

Attorney General Garland announcing the full support of federal law enforcement for abortion clinics under attack, and a Texas judge issuing a temporary restraining order against an anti-abortion group, blocking it from suing health care provider Planned Parenthood for now.

Meanwhile, Lyft and Uber vowing to cover legal fees for any drivers sued under the new law. And the Web site hosting service GoDaddy pulling the plug on an anti-abortion Web site that allows people to report anonymous tips on suspected abortions, just the latest in an escalating fight over Texas his heartbeat bill which bans abortions after six weeks, before many women know they`re even pregnant.

Some Republicans speaking out against this law as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): This bill in Texas seems to be a little bit extreme with this problem of bounties for people that turn in somebody that drove someone to an abortion clinic.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): For me, I`m pro-life, but what I don`t like to see is this idea of every citizen being able to tattle, sue an Uber driver, as you said, be deputized to enforce this abortion law to whatever they want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: So at least six states already expressing interest in passing similar laws, with all eyes on the Supreme Court`s conservative justices.

Joining me now is Irin Carmon, a senior correspondent for "New York Magazine" and co-author of "Notorious RBG." Also with me, civil rights attorney Nancy Erika Smith.

Welcome to you both, ladies. Thanks for joining us.

I want to play first this piece of sound, a pro-abortion rights ad from author and political activist Don Winslow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I`m beaten and raped in the state of Texas, I have to give birth to the baby of my rapist. If I am raped by my father, brother or uncle and get pregnant in the state of Texas, I have to give birth to the baby of my family abuser.

This new law is so draconian that I can be prosecuted for having an abortion, and so can my doctors, friends and family who advise me or even the Uber driver who simply drives me to the clinic. This is madness. The same people who have been protesting and screaming "My body, my choice" when it comes to the COVID vaccine are now saying I don`t have any control over my own body.

Shame on the men and women who passed this law. And shame on anyone who sits in silence while women suffer and die because of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: Irin Carmon, I want to start with you on this one. That was a really kind of emotional ad, I got to say, about that Texas law.

And it struck me, when this thing passed, especially in the Supreme Court, that had Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg not passed away and been replaced by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, we would be having a very different conversation today.

IRIN CARMON, AUTHOR, "NOTORIOUS RBG": Yes, I mean, that`s a painful question about what would have happened, because, of course, Justice Ginsburg spent a lot of her time on the court dissenting, including in many abortion cases.

So it`s not clear that Chief Justice John Roberts would have sided with the liberals, the way he did in this Texas case, if it would have made a difference to the vote total. Of course, he did uphold a precedent that struck down in abortion law in 2020. So it may well have been a different result.

[19:35:07]

But Chief Justice John Roberts has always been opposed to abortion. So, to my mind, the most fundamental shift on the Supreme Court happened when Anthony Kennedy retired.

I think, if Justice Ginsburg had been -- because he was a defender of abortion rights, and, when he retired, it really actually changed the vote count. That said, every vote on the Supreme Court counts. And at the very least, if Justice Ginsburg were still with us -- and we`re about to mark the one-year anniversary of her death -- I am certain that she would have been robustly defending the rights of Texans to have dominion over their own body, to end a pregnancy if they see fit.

And so, for that alone, it`s an absolute tragedy that she`s not with us.

VOSSOUGHIAN: So, Nancy, I was talking to Senator Hirono in the last hour, and she brought up the Mississippi case that`s going to be heard by the Supreme Court in the fall banning abortions after 15 weeks, right, which would essentially overturn Roe.

NANCY ERIKA SMITH, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Right.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Can we all but assume, at this point, we know how the vote count will fall, considering the decision made in this Texas law?

SMITH: Yes. That`s why Biden and the Democrats have to immediately fix the Supreme Court.

They -- the Republicans stole a seat -- Gorsuch is sitting there -- from Obama. They put Amy Coney Barrett there during -- during an election. Voting had actually started, and Kavanaugh, an accused rapist, credibly accused rapist.

They have packed the court. And we have to fix it. We have a radical Supreme Court beholden to very right-wing ideologues. And the idea that they would let this law sit there and not stop it is outrageous. They -- the majority said it was novel and complex. It`s not novel or complex.

It`s much like the Ku Klux Klan Act stopped catching slaves in free states after the Dred Scott decision. Bounty hunters were allowed to go into free states and steal slaves back and bring them back to the South. And after the Civil War, our Congress passed the Ku Klux Klan Act, which gives you a right to sue individuals who act under color of state law to violate the rights of others.

That`s exactly what is happening here. It`s not complex. And the Supreme Court has ruled twice that that is acting under color of state law, if the state law gives private rights of action that help you violate other citizens` rights.

So it`s really an outrageous decision. And it`s a lie that it`s complex or novel. It`s kind of novel that they`re using it for abortion. But, even in 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that the state can`t delegate veto power over abortions to individuals.

So, it`s not that novel. And it just shows how far right-wing the court has become.

VOSSOUGHIAN: So, aside from fixing the Supreme Court, as you put it, Nancy, how do you challenge this Texas law?

SMITH: Yes.

Well, since they stopped a hearing that was supposed to take place today, I don`t know how you stop this -- these radical -- I think -- well, thank God we have Garland in the Department of Justice.

We have to criminally prosecute under the FACE Act, which is an act that protects women`s rights to actually go to an abortion provider and get medical care for reproductive decisions that are supposed to be private. So, the FACE Act should be very, very vigorously enforced.

And entities that go into court and try to stop providers and Uber drivers and friends and family who support a woman`s rights to make her own medical decisions, they should be criminally charged under the FACE Act, not just civilly.

We need to fight this as hard as we can, because these people are ruthless and they will do anything. If you have been near an abortion clinic recently -- and I have -- it`s so abusive to women, what is happening there. They had bright lights out the minute this became law on September 1, looking into women`s cars.

How do you know how pregnant a woman is, by the way? Most women don`t know they`re pregnant by six weeks. But how do you know that? Now does the law give them the right to violate HIPAA? Can they get women`s medical records? It`s -- as was pointed out in that wonderful piece, these are people who say you can`t force me to wear a mask to stop a pandemic.

So it`s very difficult how we`re going to fix this.

(CROSSTALK)

VOSSOUGHIAN: Irin, go ahead.

CARMON: So one of the issues with the FACE Act with respect to this Texas law is that Merrick Garland`s tools are limited, because a lot of the clinics in Texas have either closed their doors or, because they`re afraid of getting sued just in a financially ruinous fashion under this law, they`re no longer performing abortions after six weeks.

[19:40:15]

So, some of the statements of support that you cited in the introduction to the segment, they`re really just nibbling sort of at the edges of what this law is about, because an Uber driver can`t be charged or anybody who is aiding and abetting can`t be charged unless someone is getting an abortion after six weeks.

And the providers in Texas, at least getting an abortion at an abortion clinic, as opposed to some kind of surreptitious way, which is certainly going to increase under this law -- and, hopefully, people can do so safely.

But, right now, if you are an abortion provider in Texas, you are not providing abortions after six weeks. So we don`t even have to get those bounty hunters -- they don`t even have to get those bounty hunters on the trails of individuals who are seeking medical care, because they have already won by shutting down abortions after six weeks.

The FACE Act may be really important in other states that are not Texas or in the clinics that are still providing limited services up to six weeks. But we all know that what happens in Texas is not going to stay in Texas. Individuals are already seeking abortion care in states nearby. They`re going anywhere that they can find if they have the means to travel.

And at those clinics, we all know that every time abortion is sort of in the public eye, this is a daily reality of clinics that can always get worse. The violence and the intimidation outside of clinics accelerates.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Yes.

CARMON: And so it is already -- I have reported at many, many abortion clinics. It`s already a scary situation to walk in. And the individuals are just -- women and other people who are getting abortions or just trying to get their medical care.

And they`re screamed at, and there`s expletives, and there`s threats of violence. And so to the extent that enforcing the FACE Act will protect abortion patients in other states, that`s great. It won`t make a difference to the fact that you cannot get an abortion at a clinic after six weeks in Texas.

VOSSOUGHIAN: This conversation needs to keep going.

Irin Carmon and Nancy Erika Smith, thank you both.

SMITH: Thank you.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Coming up everybody, the supercharged debate over race and identity. We go inside the fight dominating one wealthy Texas community next.

And Trump on Mount Rushmore. We`re going to explain this one coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:46:32]

VOSSOUGHIAN: Welcome back.

Turning now to the national debates of the country`s reckoning with its past and what many say is the need for honest teaching about race and history, this push intensified in the wake of the George Floyd murder, now leading to a backlash on the right, with GOP lawmakers introducing dozens of bills attacking so-called critical race theory.

In some towns, teachers and school officials have even been fired for teaching materials that address America`s racial past. The town of Southlake, Texas, has become an epicenter of this debate.

And it is the subject of NBC`s newest podcast, "Southlake."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Controversy in Southlake tonight, after teens posted a racist video.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a wealthy idyllic town forced to confront racism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My children were told: "Rosa Parks is dead. You all have to sit in the back of the bus."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But when the school board presented its plan, this small town fight ignited a national firestorm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Critical race theory.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Racism in reverse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The false narrative.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shame.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Southlake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: The third episode of the podcast dropped today, highlighting how political figures like a Texas GOP chairman and Allen West worked behind the scenes to stop a so-called liberal takeover.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

FMR. REP. ALLEN WEST (R-FL): The most important elected position in the United States of America is school board.

If you`re not invested in making sure that your children are getting a quality education, instead of an indoctrination, and the way that that continues on, if we don`t get control of these school boards.

The left is very strategic in what they are doing.

If you`re here to be a part of a state that understands what the Second Amendment is all about, because as long as you`re armed, you`re a U.S. citizen. If you are disarmed, you are a subject. You can be here in Texas.

If you don`t understand that, go back to where you came from.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END AUDIO CLIP)

VOSSOUGHIAN: All right, joining me now is NBC News correspondent and co- host of "Southlake" Antonia Hylton.

Antonia, I`m so happy to have you on and be with you, because this podcast is so incredible. And I was taken the first moment I started listening to it. It`s so brilliant. It`s so needed.

And so many of my friends that I have been hearing from about this podcast have said to me it reminds them of their own school experiences, these microaggressions, things that they kind of put in the back of their minds, right, that they never thought -- they never really realized what was being said about them.

A couple things. What do you want people to take away from "Southlake"?

ANTONIA HYLTON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, Yasmin, thank you so much. That`s really heartening to hear. And that`s why Mike Hixenbaugh, my co-host, and I set out to do this work.

I think, as people have watched this fight over critical race theory, which is really a tug of war over the American story around what we want to believe about our identity, what parts of our history we`re comfortable talking about, as we have watched that play out, Southlake, it became clear, was really at the center of this.

I mean, their fight got started in 2018, before critical race theory was a phrase most Americans knew about. And it started with this video that came out that you showed in a clip right there. And at first, at this time in 2018, these issues aren`t politicized.

When the plan to address racism in the district is ready in 2020, after George Floyd`s murder, all of this becomes politicized, racialized in a way. And now there`s a restraining order that blocks any work on this plan.

And what we have heard since this series came out is that people say that the story of Southlake is a story of their town...

VOSSOUGHIAN: Yes.

[19:50:00]

HYLTON: ... that even if they`re far away from Texas, these same issues of diversifying towns and people trying to grapple with the reality of how different types of people came to this country, what it means to be American for them, and just having those messy and uncomfortable conversations, that that is happening everywhere.

And it`s almost comforting for them to be able to hear from A to Z, how did we all get here?

VOSSOUGHIAN: Yes, I have a good friend who`s texting me constantly because it`s happening in her town, in her board of ed meetings. And it`s really troubling to her and trying to figure out how to change it, what to do.

And the people that are getting hurt the most, the teachers, right, the educators, and the kids.

HYLTON: The kids.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Yes, the kids.

Just quickly, Antonia, what was the most troubling thing that you found in looking at Southlake?

HYLTON: Well, one of the most troubling dynamics, I would say, that I found is that, when you look at a lot of the early reporting on the situation there, when you talk to folks in town, they center the voices of local politicians, like Allen West, who you mentioned, powerful parents, well-known administrators or teachers in the district, but the kids are often left out.

When you`re at the school board meetings, they don`t get to talk about the education that they want or believe that they deserve. And so there are all these adults at each other`s throats fighting over these issues.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Yes.

HYLTON: But the people who are actually going to live with the consequences of what happens if there is no diversity plan in place, that`s the children.

But they are consistently excluded from the conversation and even directly discounted at times. And so we try to do the opposite in our reporting.

VOSSOUGHIAN: Antonia Hylton, it`s so good. Congratulations, my friend. It`s such an important conversation to be having. And, hopefully, people are having conversations around their dinner tables after taking a listen to your podcast.

Be sure to checkout "Southlake" wherever you get your podcasts. You will be hooked, as I was.

And before the break, everybody, it looks like Donald Trump finally got his wish. He has been added to Mount Rushmore, kind of.

So, The Daily Beast attaining this never-before-seen photo, a replica sculpture of the monument with Trump carved into the rock -- you see it there -- next to Lincoln. The sculpture was commissioned by South Dakota`s Republican governor as a gift.

She gave it to the former president last year when he visited the monument. The sculpture is just over two-feet-wide and one-foot-tall. There are two other copies, by the way, but it is not publicly known who owns them.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:56:07]

VOSSOUGHIAN: One final sad note before we go.

NBC confirming actor Michael K. Williams was found dead at his home in Brooklyn this afternoon. A five-time Emmy nominee, Williams was best known for his iconic turn as drug dealer Omar on "The Wire," also for his roles on "Boardwalk Empire" and "Lovecraft Country." He was also a passionate advocate for at-risk youth.

Williams was 54 years old and an incredible talent. He will be missed.

That does it for me, everybody. Keep it right here on MSNBC for more news coverage.

You can catch me on Saturdays and Sundays from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern.