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Transcript: The ReidOut, December 30, 2020

Guests: Dean Obeidallah; Latosha Brown, Olivia Troye, Tamara Chambers, Brittany Packnett Cunningham


Trump golfs throughout darkest days of pandemic. It's been almost two weeks with no national security briefings for Biden transition team. GOP Senator McConnell blocks vote on $2,000 relief checks. GOP Senator Hawley is said to oppose electoral vote certification. Republicans morph into deficit hawks as Americans struggle. Voters who didn't vote in general election are turning out for Georgia Senate runoffs. "Washington Post" reports, January 6 certification is not an election do-over. GOP Senator Cruz's Georgia fundraising is going to his own campaign. Year 2021 could be the year when things eventually get better, when a new and competent president will work with scientists and experts to fight the pandemic, who will lead rather than golf, unify rather than tweet.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Tomorrow night, the world finally, finally gets to say goodbye, off the theaters saying, get gone and good riddance, no, no, no, don't look back, just keep going out the door to 2020. HERE in America, we will be 20 days away from saying the same to Donald Trump.

And before we can do that, we must take stock of the devastating heartbreak that this year has brought. More than 342,000 mothers, children, brothers, cousins and friends lost their lives to a virus that Trump assured us would disappear.

Now ten months in and mostly absent presidential leadership, we continue to confront an excruciating coast to coast COVID catastrophe. In Los Angeles, mortuary and funeral home operators are having to turn desperate and bereaved family members away because they are overwhelmed. In Alabama, hospitals are so swamped that one doctor compared it to a bathtub, it's filling up with water and the drain is blocked.

In the face of this daily devastation, Trump continues his vacation, golfing with friends, blissfully unbothered and seemingly more outraged by his wife's redecorating at Mar-a-Lago than the mounting death toll and sluggish vaccine rollout.

If Trump's callousness is not stomach-churning enough, it seems like he is looking to intentionally sabotage President-elect Biden's ability to fix this mess. Biden's national security adviser, Jack Sullivan, told NPR that the Pentagon has not hosted a briefing in almost two weeks, leaving the incoming administration in the dark on the progress of COVID-19 vaccine distribution and more.

And Trump is not alone when it comes to caring more about his own self interests. In the Senate, multimillionaire Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is refusing to hold a simple vote on $2,000 in desperately needed aid to the American people.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The Democratic leaders want to call game, quote, this survival shots.

Here is the deal. The Senate is not going to split apart with three issues that President Trump wound together just because Democrats are afraid to address two of them.


REID: To be clear, McConnell's decades' long unquenchable thirst for power has been the single biggest thing standing between the American people progress and their prosperity -- I mean, standing in the way, I should say, of the American people and progress and prosperity. In less than a week, the people of Georgia will get to decide if he get to keep that power.

But some senators aren't waiting their own political ambitions known. Today, Josh Hawley, the junior senator from Missouri, who doesn't even live in Missouri, he doesn't even bother to live there. He actually lives in Virginia. He made a 2024 presidential play at Trump's legacy. Hawley announced that he would join House Republicans in their quick sided quest to overturn the state's certification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory when Congress meets next week.

And joining me now is former Republican Congressman David Jolly of Florida, who is no longer affiliated with the party, Latosha Brown, co-Founder of Black Voters Matt Fund, and Dean Obeidallah, Host of the Dean Obeidallah show. Thank you all for being here.

Dean, I'm going to go to you first, my friend. It's so great to have you on. I stole you from SiriusXM for the night. I'm going to fully utilize you, because you're also a lawyer in addition to being a very great comedian and a radio host.

I mean, legally speaking, this is a non-starter what Josh Hawley is doing, but politically speaking, it's a play of trying to be sort of junior Donald Trump. I think this doesn't work because there's a cult leader and then there's like the junior deputy cult leader. The junior deputy doesn't get to say, drink the Kool Aid over the cult leader, but that's my theory. What do you think?

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, : I agree. First of all, being on, it's a Muslim Merry Christmas wish for me. So, thanks for having me on, Joy. I really appreciate it.

REID: Yes.

OBEIDALLAH: So it's a Muslim Christmas came true.

Look, Josh Hawley is a young Donald Trump before all of this. It wasn't just a selection that he's standing up for. Don't forget, Josh Hawley opposed renaming military bases after confederate generals. He thinks it's fine to still honor people who killed in the name of slavery. Josh Hawley is called the George Floyd a woke mob and opposes like Trump teaching about race theory to students in school in Columbus 1619 Project propaganda. So, Josh Hawley is not an aberration, he's a manifestation to say, well, he's Donald Trump.

So will they suck up to Trump? Maybe. But the minute Donald Trump gets the sense that Josh Hawley is angling for 2024, expect Trump to go after Josh Hawley on Twitter. That's going to be joyful for us to all watch as he goes after Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and the rest and realizing, they're trying to steal my clown.

So this is not unexpected. It's sad and it's just a continuation of the Republican Party's attack on democracy and dissent into not just authorianism, into academically fascist, and that's where they're leaning.

REID: But here is the challenge with trying to be like Stalin. Stalin is Stalin and like Joe Stalin-ey on the side who's like his deputy, who's like his friend, ain't. Okay, most people who are listening to this opening segment of THE REIDOUT tonight are saying, who the hell is Josh Hawley? Nobody knows who he is.

Let's put a look at the senators who are up for re-election in 2022, because they are the ones who have, in their mind, a political advantage, David Jolly, in going along with what Josh Hawley is doing, because they have to face Trumpy voters again in 2022, including Marco Rubio, who has been acting a fool lately because, of course, he wants the Trumpy people to vote for him.

So these are all the people who think that being with Trump can help them in 2022. So they're incentivized to go along with what Josh Hawley is doing.

Here is the list of people who we think are probably running for president in 2024, the aforenamed Josh Hawley, who, again, no one knows what he even looks like except that picture with people who forget in five seconds. He's not famous like Donald Trump.

Rand Paul, who people only know, because I guess he got punched by his neighbor. I think that's the thing he's most famous for. Marco Rubio, again, who prays on Twitter, whatever, does prayers on Twitter, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. But nobody even likes Ted Cruz.

I mean, I don't understand, David, as -- if the political incentive here is to try to replace Donald Trump, none of those people are famous enough, infamous enough or well known enough to do it.

In your mind, as somebody who was in politics, does this makes sense from there as politics?

DAVID JOLLY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: For Josh Hawley, yes, you always want to be the new person at the table. All the others have been beaten by Donald Trump, Joy. Josh Hawley hasn't. And then Josh Hawley, what you have is arguably a patrician masquerading as a populist, and he's doing so in a way more successful than his peers of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and others, but not have their wings clipped by Donald Trump, they have been punched in the mouth by Donald Trump.

But in Josh Hawley, you see him moving successfully to try to co-opt the populism wing of the party, the Trumpism wing of the party. And the irony along with this, and Dean alluded to it, this is not about Donald Trump's election in 2020, this is about Josh Hawley's election in 2024. And it takes a remarkable chutzpah, if you will, to take away the anti-democratic movement from Donald Trump in this moment and make it about Josh Hawley. But that's what Josh is doing. And within Republican politics, he might be doing it very successfully.

He knows, Josh Hawley knows that there is going to be an angry crowd of Republicans on January 6th and they are going to want to see some type of redemption for Donald Trump. And Josh Hawley said, I'm going to give it to you. So if you are Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz or another contender in 2024, guess what, Josh Hawley handed you your lunch in the race for the Republican nomination.

REID: And here is -- as somebody who tried to convince my friends in the media is not the Brown Obama and was not going to suddenly emerge as the most threat, the greatest political genius of the Republican Party. And I've tried to tell people for years that he wasn't going to be president, and everyone was like, oh, he's absolutely -- nobody knows who you are, Josh Hawley. You don't even live in Missouri. Wait until the ads start running about you using your sister's residence in Virginia -- I mean, in Missouri to pretend you live there and you live in Virginia. You ain't Donald Trump, baby, you just not.

Latosha, can't stop, won't stop, you really are a national hero, and so I can talk to you and being real about it. The other thing that Hawley is doing, first of all, A, if anybody even knows who the hell he is, those who do discover who he is understand that, as David Jolly just said, he's basically saying confederate statues yes, black votes, no. If you're black and you're in Georgia, if you're in Michigan, if you're in any of the states where the black vote carried Biden to victory, we want to negate your votes. How is that going to help him out down the road?

LATOSHA BROWN, FO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTES MATTER FUND: At some point, you would think that they would see the message. The writing is on the wall. How did that work out for him this year? It didn't work that for him, did it? I think that part of what they've done is underestimate the power of black voters, that they've underestimated the temperature of this country.

While there is a substantial number of people, which is (INAUDIBLE), that have followed Donald Trump, there is a coalition of people who literally want a different America, who really want -- they don't like this racism, this structural racism, this white supremacy, like that you're putting that on air, like that is what we're going to (INAUDIBLE), it's not working.

So I don't think it's going to work for him. I can just foresee it in this general election and just as you'll see in Georgia. You're going to see the backlash. That's (INAUDIBLE) to what we're seeing right now with their lives and now thinking that that's the way it will be.

REID: And, by the way, we're seeing -- I'll just stay with you for a second, Latosha, that we're seeing at least TargetSmart, 89,556, in Georgia voted who didn't vote in the general election. And the African-American share of those surge voters is now at 40.2 percent. That is huge. It's what's making it possible that these two Democrats have a chance.

You've been on the ground. You've been doing a bus tour, hopefully your audio will hold up under this. How -- what do you think? Is the black vote -- do you think it will be more decisive in the outcome than it was even in November in Georgia?

BROWN: Absolutely. We were looking at the numbers. They're saying 40 percent. We're only 32 percent of the populations, which means black voters are, in fact, overperforming in the state of Georgia. Black voters know what's at stake. Everywhere we're going, people going all around the states, they had a first annual (INAUDIBLE) caucus, where we had people come out for early votes (INAUDIBLE) that early voting in (INAUDIBLE) counties in Georgia. And folks are consistently saying that they are talking that they are voting and they're also getting their family members to vote.

Just as my partner often says, he believes that there would be more black voters that will ultimately vote in this election than the general election, and I agree with him.

REID: And let me come back to this sort of nightmare scenario that we're looking for on the 6th, and I'm going to start with you on this, Dean. You had an election scholar named Edward Foley who wrote a piece called, sorry, Donald Trump, January 6th is not an election do-over. He said, to prevent the Electoral College from being subservient to Congress, the Constitution requires Congress to accept whatever the state decides regarding the appointment of its electors. It was last night on the show that Jason Johnson brilliantly hosted (INAUDIBLE) there. It was sort of likened to the Oscars. It's like the guy holding the envelope at the Oscars get to say, I decided that I prefer this other film is going to be best picture. That's just not how it works.

So I wonder what the spectacle, and I'll ask you first and ask all three of you, what does this spectacle actually result in, in your view, starting with you, Dean? Because it's not going to work, but what happens after they force all of these senators to vote on whether or not they certify these votes?

OBEIDALLAH: Maybe Trump invites him to play golf at Mar-a-Lago. That's the big, grand prize in all of this, because there's no change in elections. The Electoral Count Act is very clear. You need both the House and the Senate to concurrently, essentially agree to throw at any state's elector's slate. They're not going to do it. Democrats control the House. It's not happening. Josh Hawley knows this.

To me, Joy, the big thing is you've got a more of this dissent into undemocratic means by the Republican Party. And it shouldn't surprise people but it is alarming. You see this political crew playing out in front of us. Josh Hawley is a lawyer. He went to Yale. He was a Supreme Court clerk. He understands Trump had his day in court over 60 cases. Nine judges, Trump appointed personally ruled against him and his allies. That's the part of the judiciary. It's not for the senators to now overturn the election going, I found fraud and I'm going to overturn the election. So this should alarm everyone because it's part of the bigger picture of coup, the Republican Party's rejection of democracy.

And I'm telling you, Joy, what you're going to see is state after state imposing more voter suppression laws if Republicans control the legislatures in those other states across the nation.

REID: Well, (INAUDIBLE) is a Yale man. I guess we can see the problem there. He's such a populist and he went to Yale. Good gracious.

David Jolly, as you know, when you become a member of Congress, you also take an oath to the Constitution. So, in addition to being a Yale man and a fake populist who is trying to pretend he's one of the little people, Josh Hawley is also defying like the actual oath that you take.


REID: He understands how elections because he gets his job and his paycheck paid for by the American by election. So I also will -- again, long-term, is the Republican's Party's view now that they're just going to say they're the anti-democracy party? Is that, in your view, a long-term play for the party?

JOLLY: Yes, Joy. This ignoring and violation of the oath is actually something that goes much broad than Josh Hawley. And to Dean's point, Josh is a Stanford, Yale-educated lawyer and a United States senator who understands the Constitution, the Electoral Act 1876, I believe it is, the 12th Amendment. And I look at Josh different than, say, to Louie Gohmert and some of these backbenchers in the House who were doing so out of pure fealty to Donald Trump. John Hawley is a senator who actually understands and knows better than what he's doing.

Look, this is clearly a political play. We know that. There's no interest in really discussing that further. January 6 will come and go. There might be some testing of some barriers we haven't seen tested before, constitutionally, but it won't change the outcome.

My concern is actually more on January 20th, and it's whether or not Republicans really coalesce around a peaceful transfer of power. I had initially said I hope Donald Trump doesn't have an alternate rally. Now, I kind of hope he does, because I think there should be a growing concern over civil unrest and violence. And if there is a Trump rally to focus the energy on, great, what we don't want is the focus to be on Washington, D.C., on January 20th for this populist resistance that Josh Hawley now seems intent on leading.

REID: Yes. Well, let's not leave Ted Cruz out. Ted Cruz is out there raising money supposedly for Georgia, but he is keeping the money. That's what's -- it's a grift. It's all about their own personal -- either financial or political desires. It is not about anybody else.

But, Latosha, I'm going to give you the last word on this, because I definitely also am worried that there's going to be violence between the 6th and the 20th. And we're going to enter a potentially very violent period. I said that on Rev's show the other night on POLITICSNATION, that that was my prediction, that we're in for some instability and the end of Trumpism isn't going to be pretty.

But I wonder if what we've seen is an increase in fealty to democracy by black and brown and indigenous folks and Muslim Americans, the LGBT folks, all of the people who have been marginalized in American politics have tripled down on their belief in democracy. While the Republican Party, which is still sort of a mono-racial party, has decided they just don't believe in -- they believe rule, not democracy. And I wonder if you think that is a recipe for a better democracy or for more instability going forward.

BROWN: What I think is that the Republicans drew (ph) critical mistakes. The first is that they have underestimated that this is really about the people. That in this country, as the demographics have shifted, people are really tired of what we're seeing. Literally, for them to align themselves with Trump, they're saying, no. There is a resounding no, which is why he lost this election cycle. And what they do is they constantly underestimate the power of people.

And, somewhat, we're seeing a coalition of people, brown people, black people, white people, the LGBTQ community, our Latino brothers and sisters, indigenous people, Asian Americans come together and say that there's an American edition, an America that we have and we're willing to work for it.

The second thing that I think is that they (INAUDIBLE) underestimate. Well, we talk about this base, this Trump base to be unlimited (ph). What we do know is that the numbers are on our side. There's a tremendous opportunity (INAUDIBLE) to make a difference in this election and going forward.

REID: Absolutely. Tiffany Cross wrote a book called, Say It Louder, and she talks about the emerging America. She's talked about it all the time. It is so true. The emerging America looks like this panel. It is a multiracial America. If you don't like it, you better learn to love it, because this is what's coming.

David Jolly, always fun having you on, Latosha Brown, underrated, really should have been Room Rater champion of the year. But I don't know how did not win that but we have somebody on that did but amazing rooms every time. Dean Obeidallah, stole you from stole you from SiriusXM, I'm so glad you're on break for your show this week so you could be on mine. Thank you very much.

OBEIDALLAH: Thanks, Joy.

REID: Happy holidays. Happy Muslim Christmas to you. Thank you very much.

All right, coming up, the vaccine rollout is slow and disorganized. Trump's response, not my job, you're on your own, while Biden ramps up his plans to do it right.

Meanwhile, hospitals are overrun with COVID cases.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Patients are dying like flies. It's like a war zone. And we're asking for help and help is not coming.


REID (voice over): Plus, the criminal case against Donald Trump. Yes, the Manhattan D.A. is hiring forensic accounting experts to dive into Trump's business claims. No federal pardon can save you, sorry, Donald, or your kids from this one.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: Based on promises made by the Trump administration, 20 million Americans should be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Friday. But we're not even close to that number.

Today, officials from the Operation Warp Speed program acknowledged that 14 million doses have been distributed, but the number administered, just over two million, is -- quote -- "lower than hoped," and the process -- quote -- "should be better."

At the current rate, it will take 10 years, a full decade, before enough Americans are vaccinated to curb the pandemic, according to an NBC analysis.

Naturally, Donald Trump has thrown his hands up yet again, blaming states for the disjointed patchwork his administration has created, tweeting that states should "get moving," just like he did back in the spring, when he blamed governors for shortages of medical equipment and PPE and then testing shortfalls across the country.

Trump's abdication of any responsibility for actually administering the vaccine that he wants to claim credit for, which, as a reminder, was actually developed by immigrants and black doctors and foreign scientists, many of them brown and Muslim, means the process is now up to governors, like Florida's Ron DeSantis.

And his decision to ignore CDC recommendations and prioritize senior citizens over front-line workers, offering shots on a first-come, first-serve basis has already led to long lines of confusion. And health care workers waited in line overnight at a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for their first dose of the vaccine. Some reported driving up to seven hours to be in line at midnight.

For more, I'm joined by Olivia Troye, former COVID Task Force adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, and Dr. Tamara Chambers, an ICU physician at Los Angeles County's USC Medical Center.

Thank you all for being here.

Olivia, this is a mess. On our show meeting, our first show meeting today, we were talking about the fact that America, unlike most European countries, doesn't have a national health system. So we rely on, like, CVS and other private distributors, drug distributors, and pharmacies to lay out the vaccines, to get the vaccines out.

We don't have a national system. But, on top of that, you have, I have to say, idiot governors like Ron DeSantis. I feel like I can say because I lived there for 14 years. He's the last person I would want in charge of anything, let alone the distribution of vaccines.

And it's already a mess. You have seen this from the inside. How much of a mess could this be in the next 20 days, before Biden takes over?

OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICIAL: I think it's going to be a complete disaster. I think the -- they have had months to plan this out.

And it's not just about the billions spent on the Operation Warp Speed and developing the vaccine, but the problem is, there should have been significant planning. And, honestly, it's strategic operational planning 101. Come up with a national strategy on how you're going to do this.

You have had months to figure this out. Reach out to the states. Build your network ahead of time, don't wait until the last minute, and get this vaccine out there. It does no one any good if it's just sitting there and people are still suffering, and being impacted by this virus. It's absolutely ridiculous.

And, you know, about DeSantis, I haven't lived in Florida ever, but I will agree with you. The guy is a complete idiot.

REID: Well, I mean, I think about the idea that Kristi Noem and DeSantis and the Texas governor and the governor of Georgia, whose -- these people are a mess. Their states are a mess.

And then so you will have states like New York, where you have competent governors, who I'm sure will roll out very handily and very easily the vaccine and figure it out, because they're competent. And then you -- right, you have to DeSantis. I wouldn't trust Kristi Noem with my life. But states are going to be forced to do that.

And, Dr. Chambers, we're doing that as -- just a few headlines for you. "L.A. Times," Los Angeles County hospitals are turning away ambulances and putting patients in the gift shop. One person -- one nurse said there: "I have never seen anything like this."

"Business Insider" reporting, at a Los Angeles hospital, it's so overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, they have been forced to treat some patients, again, in the gift shop.

The CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital said: "If cases continued to rise, the hospital might have to result in wartime techniques of rationing care," because they're so overwhelmed.

One more, another from "The L.A. Times": "Oxygen supply shortages bedevil hospitals already overwhelmed by COVID-19." So, they're out of oxygen, this as we now know that, in California, in your state, we now have that variant. That COVID variant has been detected in Southern California, that super strain that actually is easier to catch.

How worried are you that the vaccine is going to run way behind the increasing outbreak?


We're struggling to make it right now. Every day, we're having to move every resource. We're moving patients in one location. We're moving beds. We're moving staff every day to make sure that we can meet the needs of our patients. It's a big challenge.

REID: And what -- and so, on the ground, how does that look? How does that challenge look? How full are the hospital beds? Are we at the point now where, if you have a heart attack, let's say, it's going to be hard to get a bed?

CHAMBERS: Absolutely. We have 95 percent capacity for ICU beds. We are completely full. Any time a bed does become available, immediately, it's taken over by a patient that's waiting downstairs in the emergency department.

And since we're in such a busy hospital in the middle of Los Angeles, California, we are seeing any number of trauma cases, burn patients that are coming in, cardiac patients that are coming in, cancer cases. Everyone is having to delay their care and defer their care, so that we can care for the sickest of the sick right now.

But everybody is sick, and everybody needs help right now.

REID: And, Olivia, you have got a health system, again, that doesn't exist on a national -- I mean, we're going to need like the military to get involved in getting this vaccine, I guess the only sort of national institution we have.

And the Pentagon won't even talk to the Biden team. Meanwhile, you have got Republicans who are participating in events, maskless events, who then themselves are getting COVID.

The most alarming recently is Luke Letlow. He just got elected in Louisiana. He hadn't even been sworn in yet. He was 41 years old. He dies of COVID 11 days after announcing that he had it.

During his -- the end -- toward the end of his life, he was, unfortunately, saying things -- and these are chilling sort of -- almost sort of last words -- he was saying things like: "We have to make sure our economy gets back open. We have to learn how to live in a COVID world. Other nations have learned to do that. They have done so safely."

He was really pushing to reopen. He is now gone, leaving his wife and two toddlers without him.

You have got the GOP leader in Massachusetts who caught COVID at the White House at the Hanukkah party, because they're still having Hanukkah parties without masks.

I don't know how we fight a pandemic when the leaders of the country and the elected officials can't protect themselves, or won't.

TROYE: Well, I think this is something that's driven from the very top, right?

I think, unfortunately, this has been a divisive issue from day one, starting from the person sitting in the Oval Office. And so you have all these Republicans out there who are trying to comply and support this president in everything that he doesn't, no matter what cost, including their own mind.

And it's devastating. I mean, it's awful to see this happening to any human being, right? And they put themselves in those situations. They go to these parties. They put themselves at risk. They themselves have done this to their families.

And I hate to say that. And it's awful. And I feel terrible for these families that are now grieving, having lost a loved one. But when you have leaders walking around maskless and perpetuating these sentiments every single day, and a whole population out there who continues to push this, this is what's going to happen.

It's not just one or two people out there. This is hundreds of people out there every single day who walk around without a mask, who don't believe in social distancing, who are gathering.

And these are the people who, unfortunately, Dr. Chambers is having to treat and take care of. And these front-line workers are suffering. And it's just terrible.

REID: And, Dr. Chambers, just very quickly, this is Tom Mountain, who's the Massachusetts GOP leader who got COVID at the White House.

Now his wife, who told him, skip it, and he went anyway, now his wife has it as well, his son, his daughter in law, his mother-in-law all have it too. So he spread it to all of them.

What can you say -- what do you think we can say, to communicate to people who ideologically resist fighting COVID, but who still risk getting and spreading COVID? Is there anything left for us to say to them?

CHAMBERS: All we can do is beg the public.

People think of us as front-line providers, but we are really the safety net. We are really the last resort. And we have -- we can only respond to what the public gives us. So, all we can do is implore the public to listen to public health guidelines, to stay at home, to wear masks, socially distance.

We're running out of resources. And, at some point in time, there's no amount of creativity that we can do in our hospital system to make sure that we can continue to have capacity for all the needs.

REID: Yes.

I mean, I love politics. That's why I do the show, right? Politics is not worth dying over. Political ideology, whatever your politics are, it's not worth dying for. For God's sakes, just wear a mask. It's not a lot to ask. You wear a seat belt because you don't want to die.

I don't know what else to say to folks.

But, Olivia Troye, thank you so much for your advocacy on this all throughout the year.

Dr. Tamara Chambers, thank you for all that you do. You are a hero.

And still ahead on THE REIDOUT: The Manhattan district attorney is bringing in forensic accounting experts to help dig through Donald Trump's questionable financial dealings.

What awaits the mad king when he's finally evicted from the house of perpetual immunity?

We're back after this.


REID: As we count down the days -- OK, let's just be honest, the seconds -- until Donald Trump is finally removed from the White House -- it's 20 days, and you do the math on the seconds for those of you who weren't counting -- we're seeing Trump flailing around, making every attempt to remain in office.

It's not only that he wants to remain president, but he also knows what's waiting for him on the other side. And it ain't good. Without the presidency, he can no longer invoke absolute immunity from lawsuits and investigations that he leaned so heavily on these past four years.

And the investigations, well, they're piling up. There's the investigation into hush money payments he made to a porn star and a Playboy bunny who claimed to have had affairs with him. There are tax and fraud investigations against him and the Trump Organization over accusations of improperly valuing assets to secure loans and get tax benefits.

There are defamation lawsuits from two women who accused Trump of sexually assaulting them. His own niece, Mary Trump, is suing him and his siblings over a multimillion-dollar inheritance dispute. And former tenants are suing him and the Trump family over a decade-long fraud of manipulating the cost of apartment improvements in order to raise their rents.

And those are just some of the legal troubles facing Trump when he's no longer president.

Joining me now is Glenn Kirschner, a former federal prosecutor.

And, Glenn, as I watched these pardons come through -- and this is element three for my team here -- as I watched Trump pardoning these awful people, let's just be honest, Paul Manafort, who was accused of conspiracy against the United States, Alex van der Zwaan, and George Papadopoulos, who helped Russia go into our election, corrupt politicians -- you go on and on and on, Duncan Hunter, Steve Stockman. I think he's the one who stole from Medicare, on and on and on, include -- and the war -- the war criminals.

I'm thinking to myself, at least on some of these, did he set himself up for the Stones and Manaforts and van der Zwaans and Papadopouloses to become witnesses for the prosecution in New York?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It's not such a simple question to answer, Joy.

The prevailing wisdom is that, if you get a pardon, your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination is extinguished. It no longer exists, because you can't incriminate yourself. You have been pardoned.

Here's the thing. Really accomplished defense attorneys will argue, you know what, he got a presidential pardon. What does that cover? It covers federal crimes, but it doesn't cover state crimes.

So, for example, we know Manafort was charged by New York with state crimes. Because of New York's unique and now rescinded double jeopardy law, that got thrown out, because he'd already been prosecuted federally. But most defense attorneys will make the argument that a federal pardon is all well and good, but my client retains his Fifth Amendment rights in connection with any state crimes he may have committed.

REID: Well, on that point, just really quickly, because I hear your point.

But Cuomo, Andrew Cuomo, the guy that Trump would have to beg for a pardon from after he threatened New York and said he was going to take all New York's money away for COVID, which is fun, Andrew Cuomo signed a law back in 2019 that was aimed at weakening Trump's pardon power, at least ability to carry it over to the state.

It ended the double jeopardy loophole. So, it closed the double jeopardy legal loophole that protects individuals who are pardoned by a president -- by a president from being prosecuted at the state level.

Does that weaken Manafort and his lawyer's potential argument?

KIRSCHNER: Oh, it absolutely does, because that's why the New York state charges got thrown out the first time around.

But that case -- that law no longer exists, as you just mentioned, Joy. So, if I were the prosecutors in New York, I would re-bring that case. And I would say, Judge, it is a new legal landscape and it's a new day for Paul Manafort, and he needs to be held accountable for the crimes he committed against New York state.

REID: Yes.

Let's talk about this New York prosecutor, what he's doing. So, Cy Vance, who, by the way, that's -- he's up for reelection. And I don't know if he's going to run again. But that's going to be the most interesting election, I think, in America, other than Georgia, after Georgia.

But, anyhoo, he's still in charge right now. He's hired this forensic accounting firm. He initially opened his investigation, per "The Washington Post," in 2018 to examine the alleged hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who was the Playboy bunny.

The probe expanded and now it does include the Trump organization activities potential for bank, tax and insurance fraud.

How threatening do you think that case is to Donald Trump's freedom?

KIRSCHNER: Well, you know, it's a sure sign when prosecutors begin to hire forensics experts, it is a sure sign they are moving toward charging somebody and going to trial. You don't begin to spend the limited resources -- I know everyone thinks prosecutors offices have these, you know, deep pockets and unlimited resources. Not exactly the case.

But when I saw Cy Vance beginning to hire forensic accounting firms to help unravel, expose and explain Donald Trump's financial fraud schemes. That was a sure indication that they are moving to the next stage and the next stage is almost certainly going to be indictment on criminal charges and trial.

REID: And lastly, I know that this bothered you as much as it bothered and a lot of other people, this Blackwater Iraq contractors. You've now had the Geneva Conventions, the United Nations actually object to them, saying the Geneva Conventions obliged states to hold war criminals accountable for their crimes, even when they acted as private security contractors, these are the U.N. experts. They said these pardons violate U.S. obligations under international law and more broadly undermine humanitarian law and human rights at the global level.

Is there anything internationally that can be done about the fact that these four men, you know, killed -- basically slaughtered a bunch of Iraqi civilians, including a 9-year-old. Is there any recourse that the international, you know, sort of legal community has?

KIRSCHNER: You know, it's not likely that we're going to see Donald Trump, you know, hauled off to an international court, tried for his crimes, but I do think that this should impress upon the incoming administration a need to hold a president accountable, a president who has been violating laws, both foreign and domestic, because as you say, a U.N. panel said that these pardons violate international law. In a very real sense, Joy, this feels like Donald Trump acting as an accessory after the fact to war crimes because the law of accessory after the fact simply says, if you know somebody committed a crime against the United States and you assist them in avoiding punishment, you committed the federal felony of accessory after the fact.

I'm not saying that Donald Trump could be legally charged with that crime because people are going to say that his pardon power is so broad. But, you know, as sure as I'm sitting here, he violated the spirit of the accessory after the fact law when he pardoned war criminals.

REID: Glenn Kirschner, who I think a lot of people have on their fantasy list of potential attorneys general, I kind of wish that was the name that was coming up. We'd all be like, hell yeah, if that was happening.

Glenn Kirschner, if they call you, you have to call us first and we want you to come on and tell us you're going to be in A.G.'s office.

Appreciate you, man.

KIRSCHNER: It will be the first time I drop, Joy.

REID: I appreciate that. Thank you very much.

Up next, as we get ready to kick this dumpster of a year to the curb goodbye, get out 2020. Go away. A look back at some of the most important events of 2020 and a hopeful look ahead to healthier, calmer, and maybe even a more decently united 2021. Who knows?

We'll be right back.


REID: Remember Trump's impeachment? And we wouldn't blame you if you didn't. But, yes, about a year ago now, Donald Trump was impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. His trial begun in January, ending when Republicans voted to save Trump's presidency, a precursor perhaps to what was to come.

America convulsed with change this year, a lot of it wasn't good. We saw firsthand how fragile our democracy is, how slippery our First Amendment rights are under a president who ordered the tear-gassing of peaceful protestors for this photo-op in front of St. John's Church.

By then, coronavirus was ripping through the country, impacting virtually every aspect of American life. Businesses shuttered, millions went on unemployment, and hospitals ran out of ICU beds and ventilators as thousands got sick and died.

Black people continued to die not just disproportionately of COVID but also with the hands of police. Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and too many more, and still, no justice to this day, to this very minute.

We have a president who refuses to acknowledge the winner of a fair election who staged and is still seeking to stage a coup to remain in power as the pandemic rages, taking more than 340,000 lives in America and counting. So, yeah, 2020 was a dumpster fire, really, really horrifically bad.

But some of it was good, a long overdue reckoning of racism and anti-blackness pervasive in policing, the criminal justice system, but also within our workplaces, neighborhoods and dinner tables happened, leading up to the hard fought, hard won election carried by black voters who seal the Trump's eviction from 1600 Black Lives Matter Plaza, putting an end to our four-year national nightmare.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: To everything, there is a season, a time to build, a time to reap and a time to sow, and a time to heal. This is a time to heal in America.


REID: Which brings us to 2021, the year Joe Biden enters a hopefully fully fumigated Oval Office to preside over this nation, take over the vaccine rollout and offer a little something we haven't felt in a while, hope, and that's next.


REID: You may have noticed from your Zoom calls and social media feeds that plenty of folks are ready to kick 2020 to the curb, tuck it away and never look back.

Will things instantly get better tomorrow night when you break out the champagne and count down to midnight? Probably not.

But 2021 could be the year when things eventually get better, when a new and competent president will work with scientists and experts to fight the pandemic, who will lead rather than golf, unify rather than tweet.

Meaning, next year may offer some light after a terrible year, filled with far too much devastation and loss. And after what we just went through, hope is sounding pretty damn good.

Joining us now, Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Black Lives Matter activist and host of the podcast "Undistracted", and NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

I've been looking forward to this panel all evening. And, Michael, not just to look at your beautiful room, but also to talk to you and Brittany as well.


REID: So let's talk about the first thing. Joe Biden, Joe Biden has done a thing that I think presidents used to do, right? Big things -- go to the moon, build an intercontinental highway system, dream big.

Barack Obama said we're going have universal health care. He is doing that with the vaccine rollout.

Do you think it is too risky for him given how divided the country is, we're going to do this 100 million in 100 days, or is that a big thing that people maybe can rally around?

BESCHLOSS: Joy, I don't think he has any other choice because this is like 1933 when Franklin Roosevelt came in and the banks were closed and people were suffering and there were all sorts of problems, a lot of division.

Here, we've got one of the worst pandemics in our history. People are starving. People are broke. People are suffering.

We have been waking up for four years every morning, at least I have, wondering if we still had a democracy that day. And the other thing is that racial justice is just as bad as it's been for years. You know, 400 years we've had this crisis, but who's counting?

All that is in the lap of the new president. He has not got any choice but to do those things.

REID: Well, and Brittany, you're right. Michael is absolutely right. He mentioned all of the things that are going on.

Biden is going to take over sort of ongoing crises, and the pandemic is a huge one, including getting people of color, who are very dubious about taking this vaccine to be in the 100 million, that's one. But these ongoing issues. The Andre Hill issue just happened. This is Andre Hill, shot last Tuesday within seconds of encountering a police officer.

You have the SoHo Hotel accusing a black teenager whose father is a jazz musician of stealing her cell phone. You have that potential case.

You got the Breonna Taylor still going, you know, the officers fired.

How much leeway should Biden get to start tackling things like that? Or does he need to hit the ground running on things like Black Lives Matter, just like he does with the pandemic?

BRITTANY PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM, BLACK LIVES MATTER ACTIVIST: There should be no leeway because racism doesn't give us any leeway. Systemic racism is killing us everywhere. As you've already said, Joy, the police continue to kill us at disproportionate rates. The fact that police are killing anybody should be a national emergency.

Racist vigilantes are continuing to kill us. Dr. Susan Moore, a black woman who died of coronavirus in Indiana is now being blamed for her own death by doctors who called her intimidating, which is nothing more than a dog whistle for a black woman who has the audacity to speak up for herself.

Children are still drinking lead water all around this country as environmental racism continues to rear its ugly head.

Systemic racism is killing us everywhere. There is no time for pauses or breaks or to catch our breath. Black people, brown people, indigenous people, we never get to catch our breath.

And the fact that somebody like Cori Bush who wore a Breonna Taylor mask in the halls of Congress had her congressional colleagues mistake her for Breonna Taylor because they don't even know Breonna's name. Meanwhile, her name has been on the lips and on the prayers and magazine covers in black America it is a reminder that A, there are not enough people who are sick and tired of the cycle. It is the apathy, Joy.

The other thing it reminds me is we cannot continue to afford to live in two different Americas on the same soil, not when the black one is deadly. It will continue to tear us apart from the inside out. We have to get serious and we have to do it now.

REID: Absolutely. I wonder if Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul have mentioned Breonna Taylor's name. I haven't heard if they did. I missed it. My producer is going to let me know.

I mean, the "two different worlds" piece is real. You know, Michael, we live in a country where Mitch McConnell, who is worth between $20 million and $30 million because he married a very wealthy woman. He is very wealthy. I'm sure he has never missed a meal in his life is saying, huh-uh, I'm not giving the $2,000.

Meanwhile, we have the world's billionaires have made $1.9 trillion. They are $1.9 trillion with a T richer in just 2020. We live in a country where the racial divide is stark, but the economic divide is also stark. We are basically kind of an oligarchy at this point.

So that also has to get tackled.

BESCHLOSS: Yeah, and then our system, Joy, this is a situation -- you know, Donald Trump appointed 1/3 of the Supreme Court. So I'm not waiting on them for justice. I'm not waiting on Mitch McConnell for justice.

Look what he has done, just as you have said. You need a president of the United States who says it's my job to do everything I can to make up for what the other branches of government are not doing and have not done.

REID: Well, and, you know, Brittany, I wonder that after eight years of watching Barack Obama, president Obama be treated like an intruder in the White House by a lot of white politician, including Mitch McConnell, principally Mitch McConnell, but others, with blatant racism toward the president, how hopeful can people be that Biden, you know -- does Biden end up being able to be more effective at getting -- I don't know, getting done the things that need to get done because he is coming in there as a white guy dealing with other white guys? Does that help him do better?

CUNNINGHAM: I think the question for me is how we as Americans can do better, right? How we are holding the folks in charge as accountable as possible to the things that we deserve. This has to be a time where we're not fighting to preserve our own comfort, but where we're actually fighting to see justice so that everyone is comfortable. If it takes someone who has the power and privilege of a white man, who happens to be the leader of what folks call the free world, then we should be reliant on that person to spend their privilege in such a way that they work to get as much of it done as possible.

This isn't somebody who has to go and try to seek higher office and therefore appease a lot of people. This is the time to get it done. Americans absolutely can't wait. And he has the power and privilege to make that happen.

REID: Yes, absolutely indeed. He is having to do FDR, Woodrow Wilson, all of it with the pandemic.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham and Michael Beschloss, by the way, who is the room of the year winner -- great room, my friend -- thank you both for being here.

BESCHLOSS: Thank you. Thank you.

CUNNINGHAM: Thank you.

REID: Thank you so much. Happy New Year, friends.

That's tonight's REIDOUT.



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