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Transcript: The ReidOut, 9/7/21

Guests: Steve Adler, Xochitl Hinojosa, Mondaire Jones, Anthony Fauci, Tim Miller


School boards become battlegrounds. Right-wing Bolsonaro backers rally in Brazil. Fascists begin asserting themselves globally. Conservatives bring culture wars to U.S. schools. Poll shows 65 percent of Americans support implementing mask mandates for teachers and students.


JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC HOST: That does it for me tonight. Ari is back tomorrow. "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up next. Hey, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing? I am very excited about Robert E. Lee`s retreat number two. Bye now. Bye, Robert. Good luck. Thank you very much. Have a good evening.

Good evening, everyone. We have a lot to get to in the next hour, including my interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci on the latest in our ongoing COVID nightmare and the stunning new comments Texas Governor Greg Abbott made about abortion and rape, not to mention the voter suppression bill he just signed into law.

We begin THE REIDOUT with U.S. school boards now in an emotional and dangerous battleground in the mask mandate war. The Daily Beast reports anti-maskers are teaming up with the Proud Boys to threaten school boards over mask mandates. While one school board meeting in North Carolina was so chaotic, attendees attempted to overthrow the officials and install themselves as a new board.

There`s also something else that`s happening right now about 3,000 miles away from the U.S. in Brazil. And stay with me because there is a connection. Today is Brazil`s Independence Day and tens of thousands of demonstrators came out in support of their president, Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro won a closely watched presidential election in 2018 and his victory signaled the country`s shift to the far-right. Right-wing populist has praised the country`s history of military dictatorship and has advocated torture. He was able to win the presidency by tapping into the resentments held by the while upper and upper, upper middle classes in a country that like the U.S. is rife with anti-blackness and racism.

During the pandemic, Bolsonaro downplayed COVID despite getting COVID himself. Sound familiar? He hawked snake oil and fake cures as the illness ravaged his country, also familiar. He described COVID, the virus killing more than 500,000 Brazilians as just a little flu. I mean, the similarities are downright eerie, right? I mean, there is a reason Bolsonaro is called the Trump of the tropics.

It`s a good reminder that this stuff is happening all over the world, Hungary, Italy, Australia and the Philippines, wannabe strong man politicians leveraging populist movements to seize power. Former Trump whisperer Steve Bannon even called Bolsonaro`s reelection the second most important election in the world.

All these operatives, mind you, they`re in cahoots. Just last week, Brazil hosted its own CPAC, that`s the Conservative Political Action Conference, in this case, the Make Brazil Great Again prom. And one of the speakers, former Trump Aide Jason Miller, was briefly detained as part of an investigation of anti-democratic acts. While in Brazil, Miller met with Bolsonaro and the far right supporters, the tens of thousands that we saw swarm of Brazilia. They were answering their leader`s call to invade the Supreme Court, which is investigating the president and his allies, with critics fearing the right-wing mob would emulate the violence that we saw here in the U.S. on January 6th, which now brings us back to those school boards.

These right-wing populist mobs using thuggery and violence to get what they want. These tactics aren`t confined to these massive calls to arms. We`re now seeing it all over the place, in red states, in COVID states. These mini insurrections where political operatives are training parents to disrupt meetings and intimidate schools to erase U.S. history from school books and to join their right to die and maybe kill others crusade.

These are planned, engineered strategies, just like we saw with the GOP obsession with critical race theory. Don`t believe the hype or the lie. That whole critical race theory thing, that was a calculated effort to create a boogieman in schools to amplify racial anxiety, to make white people fear their existence was at stake, all to win suburban swing voters to take back power in 2022.

Notice how we didn`t hear too much about critical race theory anymore? We just don`t hear it that much. And that`s because there`s a new strategy in up to and it involves activating parents and even people with no kids in the school to harass and heckle health care professionals who are advocating for masks.

I wasn`t kidding about that mob violence. Joining me now is former Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and Tim Miller, Writer-at-Large for The Bulwark.

And, Senator McCaskill, I have to start with you first, because I think that people too often tend to look at January 6th as an isolated incident, isolated to Washington and isolated to the Trump re-elect.


But it is, in so many ways just a sort of first round, a running start at something that the right is doing not just all over this country, at school boards first over critical race theory and now over masks, but really it`s happening all over the world. This is like classic fascist strong man bullying tactics. Do you get the sense that your fellow Democrats that you formerly served with in Washington understand that?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I will be honest with you, Joy. There are a lot of Democratic senators that still are kind of disbelieving that their colleagues are remaining so quiet in the face of what has happened in the Republican Party. You know, a lot of the Republican senators kind of, you know, broke their teeth in in politics on a Republican Party that had things it cared about. It cared about free trade. It cared about fiscal conservatism. It cared about a global assertion of democracy. It had -- there were things -- public policy things they cared about.

Now, this Republican Party only has two things it cares about. It wants to make sure that people who don`t agree with them can`t vote, and it wants to incite culture wars. And the closer they can incite those culture wars to the people, the better. And so what the national, quote/unquote, new Republican national groups are doing is they`re funding these elections around school board recalls, around state legislative races. We, the Democrats, are focused on electing senators and governors and presidents and congressmen.

Meanwhile, these guys, these evil geniuses, are trying to really focus on grassroots stuff and inciting people to make it all about grievance, just about what makes you mad, not about what inspires you, not about what you aspire to be. So that`s what you see going on with these school boards. That`s what you see going on with these state legislatures.

REID: And, Tim, you remember that party, right? I remember, you were one of the people who wrote the -- you know, the plan to try to broaden the Republicans and sort of respond to the fact that President Obama had marshaled, you know, this multiethnic and young coalition. You were one of the people who were saying, well, here`s what we need to do to appeal to those other voters. That is a dead idea. There is no attempt to appeal to anyone. It`s just brute force. And it does sometimes feel like it`s the student council versus the mafia in American politics right now, because Republicans, look, they may not be good at policy but they definitely have a long-term plan, which is about growing this anger movement from the school board right on up to the White House and angering as many white people basically as they can and make them hysterically afraid of being literally wiped off the face of the Earth just for being white Christians and saying, you`ve got to vote for every Republican because even if they kill you with COVID. It is very disconnected to me. Is it to you?

TIM MILLER, WRITER-AT-LARGE, THE BULWARK: Yes. Look, the autopsy, they didn`t just throw it away. I think they`re actually using it for toilet paper at Bedminster right now. Still, they`re sort of printing out old autopsies of how to appeal to a broader, more multiethnic part of the electorate. And this other strategy, this new -- not that new, really, but, you know, that the other option from the broadening option that we proposed in the autopsy was in order to really radicalize and fire up, you know, the working class white mostly, but also I think (INAUDIBLE) and other communities, parts of the country, with anger at the elites, anger at the elites on the coast. And I think that is why this is such a bottom-up effort. And that is why you`re seeing this anger at school boards. And that`s why they`re stoking it.

And I think that the thing is, Joy, is that there was a period of time where a lot of, I think, Republican leaders in Washington thought that they had control over this, right? They could feed them a little red meat, get the rubes angry, get them upset and control those voters. And then when things come to Washington, they can be the responsible ones or do the Chamber of Commerce, those things. That whole notion is gone, right? Like they have lost total control. And if you look at these videos, it`s not just one-offs and one school board. You can see it at school boards, at local election officials. You know, the anger and the rage that is being directed towards them is very dangerous and it is part and parcel of what happened January 6th.

And no longer does the, quote/unquote, responsible Republicans have totally lost control.


Many of them are walking out stage right and being replaced by new Republicans who actually like this strategy, who want there to be more anger and more rage and who saw January 6th and thought, you know, I was okay with that, or maybe even thought that they were willing to work with the people there, as many of the congressmen did, like Paul Gosar and Mo Brooks. And so I think that adjustment and that difference is really important to understand.

REID: You know, Claire, I think the important piece of that too, one of the important pieces of that is the idea that they thought they can control it. I can remember Michael Steele saying that the tea party was -- the Republicans thought they had a tiger by the tail and they thought they could control it, right? And that`s how they thought when it was back in the tea party days. But at a certain point you can`t.

I mean, you now have their own votes. 65 percent of Americans want to have mask mandates. Their voters don`t. Their voters are essentially embracing death, literal death and poisoning themselves. Their voters are so extreme now the assumption that you can get that somehow back under control with some sort of Mitch McConnell election strategy to me seems insane. I don`t understand it, but that seems to be what Republicans think, that in the end, they can control it. I think it`s above that now. I don`t think they can control these people at all.

MCCASKILL: I don`t think they believe they can control it. I think they`re afraid of it, Joy. I think they are afraid of the base, the Republican Party taking them out in primaries. So they`re cowering, they`re hiding under their desks, they`re remaining silent, they`re saying nothing, even when outrageous things happen. I mean, the notion that you would have -- I know this is going to be another segment and I apologize for butting my big nose in it but I can`t help it because I care so much about it. I mean give me -- I would cuss right now if we weren`t on television. Abbott says today he`s going to eliminate rape. What? I mean, they are so extreme, they`re now trying to back up a truck where they voted to overturn an amendment that would have exempted rape victims and incest victims from this law in Texas. They are now trying to say, oh, well, it`s not a problem, we`re going to eliminate rape.

I mean, the idea that my friends in the Republican Party in the United States Senate are not speaking up, I know a couple of them have spoken up that this is a bad law, but they have done it very carefully and very kind of quietly and tentatively. This is what`s going to get them in trouble, that they are listening to this echo chamber and being so extreme. Whether it is the way that they`re going after masks in schools, which most parents want for their children`s protection, or whether they`re saying to a mother, we can put a bounty on your head if you take your child to get an abortion after six weeks when your boyfriend has been raping her for six months.

REID: Yes. And very quickly, I`m going to give you the last word on this, Tim, because I think afraid of them but also physically afraid. I mean, we`re hearing these stories of people being afraid not to vote for this stuff because people are threatening to murder people. They`re threatening to kill doctors who they have actually -- who have treated them. People are calling in death threats to health professionals that they then are going to have to turn to if they get COVID. So I think being afraid-- they`re not just afraid of being beaten in primaries, right? I mean, they`re afraid of this mob because this mob is violent.

MILLER: They are. And what you`re seeing from this, Joy, is that you`re seeing Republican senators and House members retire rather than face them. But not just them, all the way down. This ties down to the school board. If you are a Republican school board official or an election official, like a Brad Raffensperger, why would you want to run again? If you`re just a normal middle of the road Republican, why would you want to be a secretary of state or a kill me election official when you know these threats are coming on your head, like those threats came at Brad Raffensperger, like those threats are going at those school board members?

So what that means is, all the way up from school board, all the way up to senate, we`re going to cycle out people that some of the Democrats watching this might disagree with on policy but are rational people who don`t believe in violence. They`re cycling out and cycling in are going to be, you know, fully onboard MAGA insurrectionists that are running for these offices. And that change is really important.

REID: A whole party full of Marjorie Q. Greenes. Think about that for a hot minute. And, basically, the base wants them to fear them because they want to control them, and it`s not going to happen the other way around. Claire McCaskill, Tim Miller, thank you. Scaring is caring, so thank you all for being here.

Up next, Greg Abbott, as we just heard Claire McCaskill say, so there`s no worry. He says there`s no worry for women and girls that they can`t get abortions if they have been raped in Texas. He has got a plan.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): So, goal number one in the state of Texas is to eliminate rape so that no woman, no person will be a victim of rape.


REID: Ipso facto, all solved.


Meanwhile, with the stroke of a pen today, voter suppression is now the law in Texas.

Plus, Jim Jordan says, quote, real Americans are done with COVID-19. I`ll get Dr. Anthony Fauci`s thoughts on that, and on the new COVID challenges with schools reopening and people going to packed football games.

And he played some of the most groundbreaking characters in television history, my thoughts on the passing of Michael K. Williams.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.



ABBOTT: The Texas law, it does make it easier than ever before for anybody to go cast a ballot. It does also, however, make sure that it is harder for people to cheat at the ballot box in Texas.

Now, let`s make this final.

Election integrity is now law in the state of Texas.




REID: Huh.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott officially signed his state`s voter suppression law this morning, but not before lying about it by claiming that the Republican bill makes it easier to vote, referring to the expansion of voting hours in some parts of the state where mainly Republicans live.

He somehow forgot to mention the reduction of voting hours in the more racially diverse Democratic-leaning parts of the state somehow, and the part where they banned drive-through and overnight voting, which makes it easier for people who work long or odd hours to vote, which, again, disproportionately impacts hourly workers and younger people, who happen to be more racially diverse.

The law also includes criminal penalties for election workers and those assisting voters and protections for poll watchers who get to ogle voters while they cast their ballots in that heavily armed state. I mean, what could go wrong there, right?

As well as new voter I.D. requirements, which again disproportionately impact people of color. But that`s nowhere near the worst gaslighting that Abbott did today.


QUESTION: Why force a rape or incest victim to carry a pregnancy to term?

ABBOTT: It doesn`t require that at all, because, obviously, it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion.

Goal number one in the state of Texas is to eliminate rape, so that no woman, no person will be a victim of rape.


REID: Just what? Where do you even begin with this?

I mean, if Greg Abbott knows how to stop all rapes, please sign the rest of the world up. Share your knowledge.

But he`s also, not surprisingly, extremely wrong when it comes to the science. I mean, very few people realize that they`re pregnant within six weeks. And as "Popular Science" magazine points out, the way that doctors calculate pregnancy is linked to the time of ovulation.

So a person likely already is on their second week of pregnancy by the time it`s detectable. And since it takes two weeks after that for pregnancy tests to work, that brings patients to four weeks pregnant, that really gives patients just two weeks, not six, to figure it out before the Texas "Handmaid`s Tale" law kicks in. It`s called biology. And they even teach it in Texas schools, under his eye.

And, also, what kind of answer is that, to give a victim of rape or incest, oh, don`t worry, dear, you have got six weeks, oh, really maybe two, to try to mitigate the crushing psychic damage that`s been done to you? Watch out, though. Somebody might turn you in for a bounty.

What kind of monsters are these people?

I`m joined now by Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler and Xochitl Hinojosa, former communications director for the Democratic National Committee and former spokesperson handling voting rights for the Department of Justice.

Where to begin?

We have "The New York Times" reporting that the Justice Department says that they are going to step in to protect Texas women who are seeking abortions. Merrick Garland, the attorney general, has said the Justice Department would protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons under the federal law that guarantees access to the entrances of clinics that offer reproductive health services.

Mayor Adler, have you received word from the federal government what that means in practical terms, what they`re actually going to do?


And -- but I will tell you, we will take all the assistance we can. It is just getting more and more surreal down here in Texas almost by the minute. This is the most restrictive abortion ban in the country. And there`s no other way around that.

But watching the governor today talk about how his answer is to eliminate rape in the state is outrageous. This bill gives no exceptions for rape or for incest.

Just the aspect of creating private vigilantes who are now going to be out seeking $10,000 bounties going after a parent who might be counseling a daughter on this kind of issue, an Uber driver that drops somebody off, already, we have women fleeing the state trying to get abortions.

We have a new Mexican clinic that says 100 percent of the people showing up there now are Texas residents. This is just outrageous. We welcome the attorney general`s assistance. As a city, we`re going to do everything that we can.

We`re looking at now our own legislation here locally. Maybe we will make it illegal to have the open carry that the legislature just passed, but we won`t enforce it. We will just create our own local bounty for that.

I mean, this is a surreal moment, and it`s wrong.

REID: So, Xochitl, you respond to this as well.

I mean, in a state that is so open carry, you can open carry in a mental hospital, rape is actually much more likely. There is more violence possible against women because they have basically proliferated guns without even having to lift a finger to learn how to use one properly. So that makes it more likely. That makes it more violent.


They`re also unleashing poll watchers, who, in theory, could also be armed, and siccing them on voters, mainly are going to be voters of color. We know who`s going to be watching and who`s going to be watched.

I don`t understand how any woman, any voter, any person of color feels safe in the state of Texas right now. And, as for fleeing, some of these patients are trying to flee to Oklahoma, where they -- there`s already a lawsuit because they`re about to try to make abortion illegal.

And if no one acts by November 1, that`s not going to be a place to run. Your thoughts.


ADLER: You`re...

HINOJOSA: Go ahead.

REID: No, no, go ahead, Xochitl.

ADLER: Go ahead.

HINOJOSA: So, you`re absolutely right, Joy.

I mean, one of -- I used to work at the rape crisis center in San Antonio, Texas. You can`t prevent rape. And, as you said, if we had, we wouldn`t have had the rape crisis center in Texas. And, actually, it`s very hard to prove rape, but Greg Abbott doesn`t know that, because he`s not a woman. He`s never been pregnant. And he doesn`t know anything about how this happens.

And so I think it`s a very scary time for women in Texas right now. And I know women who have had abortions in wanted pregnancies before. You don`t know whether or not your pregnancy is viable until after 10 weeks or so, once you have further testing. My sister went through this, found out her pregnancy wasn`t going to be viable until later in her pregnancy.

This is something that women are terrified about. It is a "Handmaid`s Tale" situation. And it is made worse by a government in Texas who is out there basically saying there`s a bounty on you. And so what the Justice Department actually said is that we are going to use every tool to combat this. They have the FACE Act, which, if your viewers don`t know, the FACE Act can actually prevent harassment and prosecute harassment at some of these clinics, which is reassuring.

And that`s what we did at the Justice Department under Obama. But it`s unfortunate that that`s what this has come down to. We are protecting women who are going to be harassed. And now they`re -- right now, there`s no way to turn -- overturn this law right now.

We will see what the Justice Department says. But it is a very scary time for women in Texas.

REID: And it`s not just Texas.

I mean, going to put up the list of states that are also considering these laws, because every Republican governor seems to want a piece of this action, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Indiana, Florida, Arkansas.

Mayor, Mr. Mayor, there have been calls to respond to this with a boycott. There has been talk. Boycott Texas was trending over the weekend. "The Austin American-Statesman" reports that Portland, Oregon, could start boycotting Texas very soon over this abortion ban. And South By Southwest could actually start to face boycotts.

Texas feels very 1980s South Africa in so many ways, including voting. Is it time that it be treated the way that apartheid era South Africa was treated with boycotts? What do you think of that as mayor of Austin?

ADLER: Well, you know, as a mayor of a city right now, we need help and support.

We`d much rather people focus on bringing resources to the organizations in our state that are fighting this, helping the cities and the communities put up a defense of this. That`s really the help that we need.

The urban areas in our city have opposed this. The election bill is directed at Houston in no small measure. Certainly, Austin is the focus of much of this. So we need -- we need help and support at this point.

REID: Yes. Yes. And that`s an excellent point. And I`m glad that you brought it up.

And, Xochitl, the other issue here is, I don`t know, maybe Texas ought to have a law putting bounties on people who harass voters and who are armed, and because you could -- I mean, the idea of armed harassment of voters, in addition to the idea of armed harassment of pregnant women, is it -- is maybe what`s good for the goose is good for the gander? Maybe Texas Democrats should think about that. What do you think?

HINOJOSA: Well, I think what Texans should actually think about, if I were a woman in the state, I would try to organize women walking out on the job, and women -- things don`t get done without women, right?

And if you are going to continue to try to silence women, and especially black and brown women, then women should walk out on the job. Women should walk out from their responsibilities and see how the Republican leaders in Texas feel about that.

I think that what you`re seeing here across the board is, Greg Abbott is trying to silence women and black and brown people. And that is what this is. And that needs to be made clear in the next election. And if -- the next person who decides to run on the Democratic side needs to have that message loud and clear, that he doesn`t stand for women, he doesn`t stand for black people or brown people.

REID: Yes.

Yes, indeed, under his eye. It`s -- I wish you all well in Texas. God bless you all. And, hopefully, this thing can be stopped before it spreads all over the country.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Xochitl Hinojosa, thank you both very much.

Still ahead: As extended jobless benefits and eviction protections expire across the U.S., conservatives display their trademark lack of compassion, with Senator Ted "Cancun" Cruz offering some choice advice to those to those who are struggling.


And be sure to tune in tomorrow at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for the premiere of "Memory Box" Echoes of 9/11," a new documentary that tells the story of September 11 through personal stories recorded in a video booth right after the attacks and 20 years later.

We will be right back.


REID: On Monday, Labor Day, critical financial lifelines came to an abrupt end. Expanded unemployment benefits put in place during the pandemic expired, cutting off aid to more than seven million Americans, with nearly three million more losing a $300 weekly supplement to state benefits.

The Biden administration has urged states to continue the weekly benefit using federal relief funds, although none have plans to do so right now. About half of the states, almost all with Republican governors, had already lifted the program early -- left the program early.

It`s a second economic blow for many Americans coming just barely a week after the Supreme Court`s conservative majority struck down the Biden administration`s eviction moratorium, leaving millions of renters on the brink.

So, with Americans all across the country facing dire uncertainty about how they will stay in their homes or make ends meet, Texas Republican Ted Cruz had some Marie Antoinette-style advice for those left struggling.


In a tweet, Cruz said Americans losing benefits should, as he put it, get a job, says the senator who gets paid $174,000 a year in taxpayer funds to ditch his constituents during a freak storm by jetting off to Cancun.

Joining me now is New York Congressman Mondaire Jones.

Those are my thoughts on the man with a wealthy wife, who I guess, if he didn`t have a job, would just be on her -- she would she would just take care of them. What are your thoughts about what he had to say?

REP. MONDAIRE JONES (D-NY): Well, it`s good to be with you, Joy.

Ted Cruz is as cruel as they come. And he has constantly debased himself in this area of public service. He famously fled to Cancun and left millions of his constituents in the cold, literally.

And so he has no interest in actually helping the American people. Of course, if he did, he would be fighting alongside people like myself to pass a $15 minimum wage, so that people are not forced to make starvation wages when they reenter the work force. That is a market failure that we are trying, as House Democrats, to fix, in the form of things like unemployment insurance, but, of course, more importantly, passing a $15 minimum wage.

REID: Thank you for saying that, because I don`t understand how affluent people, who won`t -- they won`t walk out their door for less than a certain amount of money, think that working-class people should go schlep into a job that pays them $8 an hour and risk dying of COVID for poverty wages.

It is rational for people to say, I don`t want to take that risk. I don`t have child care. I can barely afford the transportation to get back and forth. But you`re asking me to go in and barely make ends meet, rather than -- it`s a rational choice to say that is not fair.

Anyway, thank you for saying that.

And we do know that there are some states that are trying to extend at least the eviction protection. We know New York state is doing it. And there are a few with extended moratoriums. We`re going to put that list up, Minnesota, Illinois, California, Washington, basically blue states.

Should the Senate act in some way? Or do you have confidence that the Senate will do anything? You have got people like your friend Joe Manchin over there. Do you think the Senate will do anything to help these people? And his state is poor.

JONES: It remains to be seen whether just a couple of Democratic senators will rise to the occasion and help us overcome the filibuster to pass any number of pieces of legislation, including those economic in nature, to actually allow people to live in dignity in the richest nation in the history of the world.

It is shameful that people like myself and Cori Bush had to demonstrate outside on the Capitol steps in order to get this White House to do what it was allowed to do, until the Supreme Court through its activism overturned when it struck down the CDC`s eviction moratorium.

And, of course, folks, like our governor here in New York, our new governor, have moved very quickly to ensure that the more than $2 billion in congressionally appropriated funds for -- in rental assistance that the state had been sitting on under the prior governor are finally disbursed.

But we, of course, need a nationwide eviction moratorium to ensure that the more than $46 billion that Congress appropriated is actually -- is actually allocated to renters and gets into the hands of landlords, who deserve to be made whole, of course.

REID: Amen.

The president is touring on the tri-state area for Hurricane Ida damage. How is your district doing? What do you need from the White House and from the administration right now?

JONES: You know, my district, which covers Westchester and Rockland counties, has been devastated by the hurricane.

And people understand that that is a direct result of unchecked climate change, which is why House Democrats are fighting mightily to include climate action in this larger infrastructure package.

People, both Democrats and Republicans I have spoken to in my district, understand that we need to act boldly to stop climate disasters from occurring. Of course, we need to expedite disaster assistance in the form of FEMA dollars. And I have been pleased to see the president designate Westchester as eligible for that.

Now he needs to do so with respect to counties like Rockland. We are working in earnest to ensure that that happens as well. A number of my constituents have died in this disaster through -- in the flooding in particular.

REID: Yes.

JONES: And it`s just a travesty.

And so my heart goes out to all those who have been impacted, including those throughout New York state.

REID: Thank you for all that you do.

I have started talking with climate -- those who are activists in this. It`s really almost climate collapse. I have started to use that term for what`s going on, because we need to arrest it immediately.

Congressman Mondaire Jones, thank you so much for all that you do.

And, coming up next, Dr. Anthony Fauci joins me to talk about worrying scenes like this packed college football stadium, not a mask in sight, and the rise of new variants spurred by those who refuse to get the free vaccine.


We will be right back.


REID: COVID cases are rising at an alarming rate as we head into the fall.

The number of new infections this Labor Day was nearly four times that of one year ago. And the number of deaths due to COVID is nearly double. That`s thanks to the highly contagious Delta variant, as well as the roughly 75 million Americans who are eligible for the vaccine or refuse to take it.

"The Washington Post" reports that, in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas, more than 90 percent of the ICU beds in hospitals are in use.

Then there`s also the Mu variant that`s now been detected in 48 states, according to "Newsweek," completely overshadowing the previous Greek alphabet variant, Lambda.

And yet a large portion of the country is acting like nothing is going on. That`s certainly apparent in college football, as we saw maskless fans packed into stadiums like this one at the University of Wisconsin in Madison this weekend.


Those scenes were celebrated on Twitter by Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, who declared that -- quote -- "Real America is done with COVID. God bless."

First of all, I doubt God blesses anything that you stand for, assistant coach Jim. And COVID, well, it`s far from done.

In fact, officials with the World Health Organization delivered the unwelcome news today that, because of the various -- the virus -- sorry -- continues to mutate among the unvaccinated, it`s likely here to stay.

Joining me now is Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Thank you for being here, Dr. Fauci. Always great to talk to you.

I have to start by asking you, what was your sort of immediate thought when you saw all of those fans packed into stadiums in Texas, Wisconsin and elsewhere? As soon as I saw it, I thought COVID is about to have a feast. What did you think?


I think it`s really unfortunate. I mean, people would like to say we`re done with COVID. But COVID is not done with us. And that`s really the problem, that you can`t wish it away.

When you have the numbers of infections that you just mentioned a moment ago, I mean, I would hope that most of the people in that stadium were vaccinated. And even if they were, the close congregate setting, they should have been wearing masks. Certainly, those who are unvaccinated should be wearing masks.

And I didn`t see any of that in the picture that I saw about that, which is really unfortunate, because then you lead to outbreak, which leads to hospitalizations, which get to the numbers that you were talking about a few moments ago.

REID: I mean, what I understood about COVID from the -- as we have learned about it, is that the worst thing you can do, besides not being vaccinated and not wearing a mask, is for people around you to be shouting, singing.

We have heard about cases in churches where choirs are singing, because, as you are singing out or screaming out or yelling out, isn`t that how you spread it?


In fact, is very good data in measuring the amount of aerosol and the amount of droplets that come out. And it`s just graded. I mean, you talk softly, a little bit. You talk loudly, a little bit more. You sing, a little bit more. You shout, a lot comes out of both aerosol and droplets.

So you would imagine that when you were in a sports arena, wherever you went is screaming and yelling, that, in fact, anybody -- and I would be very surprised if that were not the case -- if anyone in that crowd is infected, they`re spreading the virus around.

REID: So, various family members have been in places like Florida. I not long ago was -- had to be in New Orleans for the day.

And I have noticed this COVID is over attitude, particularly, interestingly enough, in states where there`s very little vaccination, where the vaccination rates are 40 percent and below. In states with high vaccination rates -- I was just in New York a week ago -- lots of people wearing masks.

It seems like the behavior is being reinforced in the places where people are the most vulnerable. And in places where there`s at least more protection, because you have high mask, high vaccination rates, people are also doing the things you`re supposed to do to protect themselves.

I feel like we`re almost two countries now. David Leonhardt has a great piece that was in "The New York Times" that talked about the fact that, if you`re vaccinated, and you live in a place that has high levels of vaccination, you only have a one-in-5,000 per-day chance of being infected with COVID.

And if you live in a place with really high vaccination rates, it`s like one in 10,000. Are we essentially creating two countries now, an unvaccinated country where people are getting sick and going to the ICU, and a vaccinated country?

FAUCI: Well, the answer to that is yes. And that`s unfortunate, because nobody wants to see anyone gets sick.

And, certainly, we don`t want to see that persistent and chronic spread of the virus throughout the community.

One of the things that people don`t appreciate that, for those who don`t want to get vaccinated and who don`t want to wear a mask, it isn`t only about them, because they may get infected, and they may, in fact, even not get any symptoms at all, or get minimally symptomatic.

But they are then part of the propagation of the outbreak and spreading it to someone else, who spread it to someone else. So, ultimately, that`s going to negatively impact everybody, including people who are vaccinated, because, as long as the virus keeps circulating like that, you give it the opportunity to mutate.

And when it mutates, you can form another variant which might actually escape the protection of the vaccines. We have been fortunate that the vaccines that we have now are doing very well against all the variants, including the Delta variant. But that could change. And that could change if you get more variants.


So, people not getting vaccinated are not only potentially harming themselves and their family, but they`re potentially leading to the creation of more variants.

REID: And that`s the thing.

So, I have been likening it to like the movie "Aliens," right, where it`s one kind of alien. Then it morphs into another kind, and then another kind of, and they just get more powerful as they morph, using the human body as a host, right? So it`s the same thing.

I worry that we`re on Mu already. I mean, Lambda, I was worried about. Now we`re on Mu. We`re just going down the Greek alphabet. By the time we get to Omega, I worry it`ll be unbeatable.

Are you worried that we`re going to have a nightmare this winter, as these variants continue to evolve? Are we getting close to one that can beat all of our vaccines?

FAUCI: Well, I`m not saying we`re close to that, Joy.

I think that wouldn`t be a stretch to say that. But I do say that there`s always the danger that that could happen. When you ask about this fall and this winter, I keep trying to remind people that we could stop this very easily by getting the 75 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated, vaccinated.

It doesn`t have to be a bad fall. It doesn`t have to be a bad winter. We can stop this very easily if we go out and get these people vaccinated, because, if you have the overwhelming majority of your population vaccinated, you`re not going to see surges of infection.

It`s really a shame, because it`s within our grasp, within our power to put a stop to this.

REID: It`s frustrating, right, because, at this point, it`s a pandemic of choice, right? And that`s got to be incredibly frustrating for you. I know it is for me.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, thank you for all that you do. Really appreciate you.

All right, well, coming up, my thoughts on the tragic and untimely death of actor Michael K. Williams, and his uncanny ability to add humanity and pathos to the hard-edged characters he portrayed so well.

Stay with us.




UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You`re feeding off the violence and the despair of the drug trade. You`re stealing from those who themselves are stealing the lifeblood from our city.

You are a parasite who leeches off the culture of drugs.

MICHAEL K. WILLIAMS, ACTOR: Just like you, man.


WILLIAMS: I got the shotgun. You got the briefcase. It`s all in the game, though, right?


REID: Hollywood -- no, no, no, the world -- lost one of the greatest actors of our time, Michael K. Williams, who has portrayed some of the most iconic characters in film or television, Chalky White in "Boardwalk Empire," Montrose Freeman in "Lovecraft Country," and real-life people like Bobby McCray, one of the fathers of the Central Park Five, and, perhaps most iconically of all, Omar Little in "The Wire."

Here he is talking about his connection to the sensitive gangster from "The Wire."


WILLIAMS: Particularly with Omar, he was fearless. He was outspoken. He suffered not even a little bit from social acceptability. He didn`t care what anyone thought about him, except the ones he loved.

And he had a huge moral compass. And he wasn`t afraid to express it.

I was the complete polar opposite. I was frightened a lot of times growing up. I had a very low self-esteem and a huge need to be accepted. The only thing that I knew that I shared with Omar was his sensitivity and his ability to love and his ability to love deep.


REID: Williams` loss is so staggering and so shocking, in part because he was just 54 years old, and because of his long struggles with addiction and how that played into how he died, and because of the many, many losses we have endured of black men in the prime of their lives historically and in recent years, but also because of the way he humanized these black men who he embodied, as his co-star in "The Wire" Wendell Pierce explained.


WENDELL PIERCE, ACTOR: Well, he may say that he was green, but Michael has contributed two of the most iconic characters in the history of American television, with Omar and with Chalky White.

What we are actually getting to witness in his young career -- and we`re going to see a lot more -- is like one of the great American actors, giving voice and giving flesh to characters that most people would have never given the same humanity to.


REID: And so to the brilliant Michael Kenneth Williams, who we had for not nearly long enough in our lives and on our screens, I am going to let you close the show.


WILLIAMS: Face it, man. Look, we from a certain type of people that come from a type of place that look a type of way. You know what that make us?



If I were typecast, I would of be in jail or dead. But I`m here. I got out. Got myself out.

You sure about that?