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Transcript: The ReidOut, November 16, 2020

Guests: Chris Pernell, Stuart Stevens, Andrew Cuomo, Janet Napolitano


Biden demands action from Trump administration on COVID surge. Trump rage-tweets about election but ignores pandemic. Obama urges Trump to put the country first and think beyond his own ego. Moderna says its vaccine is more than 94 percent effective. Biden urges Trump administration to cooperate with transition team. Klain says, we need a seamless transition during ongoing crisis. Biden says, more people may die if we don't coordinate. States re-impose restrictions amid COVID surge. The silence of the Republican Party, as Donald Trump continues to refuse to concede the election, tells you everything you need to know about where this party stands.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And then you won't miss any episodes of THE BEAT. For example, we recently usually have Robert De Niro, Fat Joe, Carol King. If you DVR, you can always go back and catch anything you missed.

That does it for us. Up next, it's "THE REIDOUT," with Joy Reid.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Americans are dying. The coronavirus is surging. And as the country faces one of the most serious crises in our history, it's time to get serious.

The current occupant of the White House has chosen to recklessly obstruct President-elect Joe Biden's transition at a dangerously lethal moment for our country. And it's time for the charade to end, full stop.

President-elect Biden made that point clearly and forcefully today.


REPORTER: What do you see as the biggest threat to your transition right now given President Trump's unprecedented attempt to obstruct and delay a smooth transfer of power?

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: More people may die if we don't coordinate.


REID: I mean, he's right. The United States continues to smash unconscionable records in the pandemic. We're now apparently close to a quarter of a million deaths from the virus and we surpassed 11 million cases just yesterday.

And instead of making any note of that horrific landmark or how it could have been avoided were it not for dereliction of duty, Donald Trump has been tweeting his feelings, spouting conspiracies and lies about the election. The Washington post reports, the president has not attended a coronavirus task force meeting in at least five months.

You know, Mr. President, you maybe tuning out the virus to process your emotions over losing the election and becoming a one-term president. But just listen to your predecessor, two-term President Barack Obama, in an interview with 60 Minutes, about what real presidents do.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PERSIDENT: A president is a public servant. They are temporary occupants of the office by design. And when your time is up, then it is your job to put the country first and think beyond your own ego and your own interests and your own disappointments.


REID: Yes, it is time to set aside your ego, Donald. You had enough time to blow your nose, suck it up and become a big boy. You still have more than 60 days in this job, and it is a job. People are losing their lives because of you. In fact, if you don't want the job, you are certainly free to resign and let Mike Pence do it until January 20th. Maybe he'll even pardon you.

And while the president is pouting, states are imposing new restrictions as public health officials warn upcoming holiday gatherings could contribute to the spread.

There was also a second breakthrough on the vaccine front today. Drug maker Moderna says early analysis from phase three trials of its vaccine were more than 94 percent effective at preventing the illness, a week after Pfizer said that its vaccine candidate is more than 90 percent effective.

But President-elect Biden stated the obvious noting that the obstruction of his transition means a delay in the distribution of any vaccine.


BIDEN: If we have to wait until January 20th to start that planning, it puts us behind over a month, month and-a-half. And so it's important that it will be done, that there would be coordination now.


REID: Joining me now are Michelle Goldberg, Columnist for The New York Times, Stuart Steven, Senior Adviser to the Lincoln Project and Chief Strategist for Mitt Romney's Political Campaign, and Dr. Chris Pernell, Public Health Physician and a Participant in the Moderna vaccine trial. Thank you all for being here.

And I want to go to you first, Dr. Pernell. You participated in the Moderna vaccine trial, which was a big deal. Because as an African-American woman, I'm sure you understand that black folks are not really having a lot of trust in the health care system, particularly as it was -- it has been in the hands of Donald Trump.

Can you just comment for us on when you see the president of the United States, you know, pouting around and refusing to hand over the keys to somebody who wants the job, to Joe Biden, or to Mike Pence, or, really, at this point to one of the ushers, anybody who would just do the job, and that potentially preventing a vaccine that you participated in a trial for getting out to the public to save lives, what are your thoughts?

DR. CHRIS PERNELL, PUBLIC HEALTH PHYSICIAN: Well, Joy, the first thing that comes to mind for me is that that's just immoral. It's reckless and unethical behavior.

Look, I'm a public health physician and I took an oath to first do no harm. And the president's actions are inflicting harm. Any day or moment of delay is equivalent to death and lives lost.

The devastation of this pandemic has just been catastrophic. And in particular, it's been catastrophic for black and brown communities. I lost my father to this pandemic. That's what motivated me to even volunteer, to be a participant in the vaccine 19 trial.

And so we need the president, we need his administration to do what every other president has done before him and to have a seamless transition. Lives are at stake. I can't say that in any clearer or plainer terms than that.

REID: You know, and we're so sorry for your loss, Dr. Pernell, thank you for sharing that with us.

And you know, Stuart, you worked for somebody who ran for president. And, presumably, had he defeated President Obama in 2012, people would have been devastated who supported President Obama. This was the first black president of the United States. African-Americans would have been devastated and President Obama would have understood that. But he would have turned over the keys and the paper work and his administration would have had facilitated a peaceful transfer of power to Mitt Romney. And that would have happened, right?

I mean, so I want to let you listen to the chief of staff. This is Ron Klain, who's going to be chief of staff to President-elect Biden. And this is what he was saying about the importance of seamless transition.


RON KLAIN, CHIEF OF STAFF TO PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN: Joe Biden will become president of the United States in the midst of a ongoing crisis. That has to be a seamless transition. We now have the possibility. We need to see if it gets approved of a vaccine starting perhaps in December or January. There are people at NIH making plans to implement that vaccine. Our experts need to talk to those people as soon as possible so nothing drops in this change of power we're going to have on January 20th.


REID: You know, and, Stuart, you had Donald Trump waxing back and forth, still whining about the election, saying he didn't lose, and then trying to take credit for vaccines he didn't have anything to do with. And he's doing everything except do the things that would get if the vaccine actually works to the American people.

Norm Ornstein, the great Norman Ornstein, the writer, he's called that, at this point, traitorous. What do you call it?

STUART STEVEN, THE LINCOLN PROJECT SENIOR ADVISOR: Look, I think that there's a direct connection between the party that refused to accept science and the party that refuses to accept the reality of the election returns. Both are about just not accepting what facts are.

Look, I really put this on the Republican Party. There's never been a moment like this where a party has gathered together refusing to admit who won a presidential election. This was not a particular close election. I mean, it's extraordinary that they won't even have their calms shops (ph) put out a two-sentence statement congratulating the president of the United States. And if enough of them did that, it would put pressure on Donald Trump and this would become unsustainable.

So it's really amazing. They're not being asked to charge a beach or defend the Alamo, charge off little round top with fixed bayonets. All they have to do is say, we know who won the presidency. And they can't summon the basic decency and courage to do that, with the result people are dying? It's amazing. I mean, their children and grandchildren will study this as one of the great moral failures collectively of a party and, I think, our history.

REID: You know, and, Michelle, it's hard to argue that. I mean, if we have counted on these guys to the storm on the beaches, we would all be saying (INAUDIBLE) in the morning. I can't believe that we're living in a time when an entire Republican Party has suborned itself.

You wrote a terrific article about this person. It's not even like Donald Trump is some grand man, some great success, you know, a great success in business or as president. This is somebody they themselves have expressed nothing but derisions for. And yet they've laid down, they have all taken the knee. And they can't even admit that the presidential election happened. They want you to believe they got reelected. Oh, Lindsey Graham, you got reelected, that we should believe that. But we shouldn't believe the results of the presidential. I don't get it. So you're thoughts.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think, you know, look, for the last four years, people have been asking what would it take for the party to stand up to this man, right? What would it take for the senior leader of this party to try to put an end to some of the corruption, to try to put an end to some of the, you know, kind of break down and basic democratic processes. And we have seen nothing that he has done has led to any sort of push back from his own party.

And even in loss, even when he's about to lose the power that he holds over them, they still cannot even just stand up to him but basically, you know, sort of affirm the reality in front of all of our faces.

There's an article today in The Washington Post about how Lindsey Graham has been putting pressure on the secretary of state of Georgia to throw out legally cast ballots that might -- for Donald Trump's benefit. I mean, it's really an astonishment.

And, you know, there's part of it that's like play acting. You'll hear them say, well, he needs to process his loss. He needs to come to terms with it. I mean, this is something that is amazing from the party. We have seen the T-shirts that you know, expletive your feeling. We've all been called snowflake and told this suck it up butter cup.

And suddenly the entire United States, the entire machinery of our government, at a moment of national crisis, has one single purpose, and that is protecting the tender feelings of this broken man. And as a result we're going wait longer for the vaccine. We're going to wait longer for a solution to all of the crises that Joe Biden was elected to address.

REID: You know, Dr. Pernell, if we can put you in a room at a social distance with masks on with Mitch McConnell or Lindsey Graham or any of these people who are pretending that they don't know what happened, what, it's almost two weeks ago at this point, what would you say to them?

PERNELL: I would say math is real and math is undeniable. And I would say that the voice of the American spoke resoundingly. Too many of us have suffered at the hands of the administration. Either we lost love one or our economy have suffered.

And, look, I'm a doctor that focuses on health equity, and the black and brown community has been devastated. The inability for the federal government and for elected officials suggest speak the truth only further deepens and further highlights just how tone deaf and how missing we are in action. And that needs to stop. We need to be adults, we need to be professional and we need to exercise accountability and exercise ethics. That's all what the public is asking. And I don't think that's too much to ask.

REID: You know, and, Stuart, I worry, and I don't know if you do as well, but even after President-elect Biden takes office, he's going to be facing tens of millions of people who will say, well, he's not the president, I don't have to listen to him, number one, and my governor says I don't have to wear masks and I can eat out in restaurant and be indoors with my family and go to church if I want. I don't know how we ever out to this pandemic ever if that is the case.

STEVEN: Yes, it's extraordinary. And you look at South Dakota, where you have a governor for her own political ambition, just tried to play the role of the COVID doesn't really exist, we don't have to wear a mask. And now, South Dakota is one of the most dangerous places in the world. That's South Dakota. It's extraordinary failure of leadership. And it's so toxic to the democratic process.

The essence of democracy is accepting that someone lost. And until you are willing to accept that someone loses, you don't have a democracy. And the fact that this party is unwilling to further this basic covenant between people and people who govern them in a democracy, it's really, I think, unforgivable. And it should -- this is -- we should not forget this and we should not forgive it.

REID: And I agree with you. And, Michelle, you know here is the thing. It's so tempting in media to then say, oh, what should the Democrats do about it? There's nothing they can do about it, right? This is isn't an either or both side question. There's only one party doing this. And the other party can't make them not do it. So I wonder where that leaves us.

GOLDBERG: Well, it leaves us in an extremely bad place. I mean, I'm not the first person to say this. We don't have a Democratic Party and a Republican Party. We have a Democratic Party and an anti-Democratic Party. And it's very difficult, as you said, for the Democratic Party to sort of hold up or norms and hold up, you know, kind of liberal democracy single handedly.

The one thing that Democrats could have done and can perhaps still do if they win these two Senate races in Georgia is make some changes to the underlying structural conditions that allow Republicans to rule with total contempt for the majority of the country, right? If Republicans had to compete for the majority of votes, they would not be able to behave like this.

And so that's why some of the democracy reforms the Democrats were hoping to push through, if they had a trifecta, are one of the only ways out of this, you know, kind of democratic crisis that we're in. But getting out of that democratic crisis when we have no cooperation from any part of the Republican Party means that it's only going to happen if Democrats win these two Senate seats in January.

REID: Yes. It's just yet another reason that Georgia race is literally everything. It's the difference between whether we can get a vaccine out efficiently, whether there's going to be any stimulus bill to help people who are losing their homes, losing apartments, whether anything is going to happen over the next four years is going to help people. It is extraordinary.

Michelle Goldberg, Stuart Steven, Dr. Chris Pernell, and, again, condolences about your dad, losing your dad, thank you so much for being here.

And up next, on THE REIDOUT, are the states prepared to distribute a COVID vaccine? New York Governor Andrew Cuomo joins me on that and on Trumps threat to with hold any vaccine from New York 19 million citizens.

Plus, don't hold your breath waiting for Trump to concede, he never will but there are life and death consequences if the transition is delayed much longer.

And Trump's presidency is ending just the way it began with pathetic lies about crowd size.

Back with more of THE REIDOUT after this.


REID: More than 100,000 Americans are infected with COVID-19 every week. And thousands of our friends, family and love ones are dying every day. People are scared. And parents are worried about what tomorrow or next week will bring for their kids. Governors have implemented a hodgepodge of measures to fight skyrocketing positivity rates.

Meanwhile, many small businesses are on the brink of collapse, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell whistles past the graveyard, while Trump, who is protected in his ivory tower, remains unbothered and disinterested.

Trump's handpicked health consigliere, Scott Atlas, a radiologist with no experience in epidemiology or communicable diseases, is attacking governors who are trying to slow down the spread, mimicking Trump and telling his Twitter followers, "The only way to stop is if people rise up. You get what you accept."

And joining me now is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

And, Governor Cuomo, thank you so much for being here.

And Scott Atlas, who, again, has no experience in communicable diseases, but who's Trump's favorite doctor now, because he tells him what he wants to hear, he tweeted that about Gretchen Whitmer, who is implementing new lockdown orders in her state -- or new orders to try to slow the spread in her state, because she's trying to save people's lives, and has already at death threats and people threatening to kidnap her and put her on trial.

What do you make of this whole ethic -- I don't know if you can even call it an ethic -- of Trump people going after masks, going after governors who are trying to do the right thing?

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Joy, thank you for having me.

I was initially shocked and disappointed and dismayed. But that was eight months ago. They have been consistent. This was the president himself, right, liberate Michigan, liberate New York, organizing protests against governors who were trying to protect the people in their state.

He's been in denial of the situation from day one. He's never been productive. The best thing he did was just abdicate responsibility and give it to the states.

But I don't see anything different from this president. He has been incompetent and lied frankly about COVID from day one.

REID: He's also threatened you. He has a personal issue with you, apparently. Maybe he's jealous because you actually knew what you were doing when it came to the virus and were honest with the American -- with the public in New York -- that he said, well, then you won't get the vaccine, not that he can actually do that.

He won't be around. He won't be president at that point. But what do you make of that threat, to withhold -- to withhold a vaccine from the people of his own state?


Joy, it's hard to get to the place where you don't take the president of the United States seriously. There's a disconnect. You say president of the United States, you think that it's a serious person. That's not this president.

He is personally annoyed at New York as a state. He bet that he was going to win New York. He lost New York. New Yorkers have been very disappointed with him. We're the home to the media, et cetera.

He is personally piqued with me because I think, frankly, I told the American people the truth about COVID at a time when he wasn't, and that bothered him.

The threat is just that. It's a silly, hollow threat. What bothers him is that I'm not going to allow New Yorkers to be bullied by him. There is a real problem on this vaccine. It's great that we're developing it. We have an issue, that the American people don't trust it, and they don't trust it because they don't trust him.

Fifty percent of the people in this country said, the Kaiser poll, the Pew poll, the CNN poll, the NBC poll, 50 percent said they fear the president politicized the FDA's approval process.

Several states, mine included, to try to build confidence, are putting together state panels. Ours is headed by a Nobel laureate, so we can say, we have reviewed the FDA approval process, it's a safe process, please take the vaccine.

That's to instill the confidence that the president lost by his politicizing the vaccination process and the FDA and CDC and the NIH. So, he finds that offensive. It also happens to be a fact. We have to build confidence in this vaccine.

REID: And if, let's say, you were able to do that, and you came to the conclusion that the processes, flawed or not, produced a vaccine that works, how would you actually roll that out to such a large state, such a large and diverse population? How would you actually implement that?

CUOMO: Well, our review process -- and there are about seven states that have a review process -- that will basically be simultaneous with the FDA approval process.

You are not going to have a state panel redo tests. You are just going to have a state panel that reviews the protocol that the FDA used to make sure they actually went through the right steps. It will be simultaneous.

REID: Right.

CUOMO: It won't take any more time.

You then have a rollout of the vaccine. That, Joy, is going to create a lot of issues that this administration hasn't even started to think about. The production schedule is going to be much longer than they have suggested. And they have the expectations that January, April, everybody is going to get a vaccine.

You would have to get the production schedule way up to make that possible. Just to give you an idea of how hard this is going to be, we have done 120 million COVID tests in this nation since this started. We have to do 330 million vaccinations. That's going to be a long, long process.

The federal government won't fund the states to do this. The CDC estimates that it will cost $6 billion. The Trump administration hasn't funded anything. The states already have a deficit.

And the social equity part of this is going to be a problem. They want to use private health care companies to distribute the vaccine, big drug chains, hospitals, doctor's offices. How about the underserved communities? How about the black and brown and the poor communities? How about the fact that blacks died at twice the rate of whites, Hispanics died at one-and-a-half times the rate of whites, because they live in health care deserts, and they had more underlying conditions?

How do they get the vaccine without a massive effort? All of those issues have not been discussed at all.

REID: Yes.

CUOMO: I'm chairman of the National Governors Association. I have been talking to governors all day long. None of them have been mentioned.

And that's going to be, frankly, the good news about the Biden administration coming in. They will have to tackle these issues.

REID: Yes.

And I have to ask you this, just as a fellow New Yorker. I can still remember breaking down and crying at work after 9/11 when the Boys Choir of Harlem went into Yankee Stadium and sang, "We Shall Overcome." And just every time I thought of that number of people who died, almost 3,000 people died, mainly in New York, it was hard to take.

What do you make of the blase attitude that so many Americans have about a quarter-of-a-million people dead? We're talking about a 9/11 every day, every day, or two or three plane crashes every day.

And it's as if it doesn't matter to the president of the United States or to his party.

CUOMO: Joy, there is no answer to it, frankly. I have been living with it for eight months.

I understand the indignation. I understand the pain about the way he's handling this and the narcissism.

But you know what? I have been dealing with that from him for eight months. Frankly, he hasn't been any help. And when we say, well, he's not helping the transition, I don't think it's any great loss, I will tell you the truth, because he never contributed much to begin with.

And Joe Biden is going to be talking to the governors on Thursday. We're arranging a call. The governors are the ones who have been handling this war, frankly. And Joe Biden wants to engage with them right away. And I think that's smart.

And I don't believe they can handle this vaccine rollout process. They have handled no operation. They didn't handle the COVID testing operation, the PPE operation, the Defense Production Act. This federal administration failed at every turn.

So, in some ways, I say, let's just move on. Let Joe Biden take the reins. Let him start working with the governors. And let's get it done, because I don't believe Trump has the capacity to do it anyway.

REID: I think there are many people out there, Governor, who wish that Joe Biden could go ahead and get started right now, because people are dying right now. And I'm not sure we can wait until January 20.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, thank you so much for taking some time tonight. I really appreciate you being here.

And still ahead: the dangers of a delayed transition. From COVID planning to intelligence briefings, the Biden transition is getting no help from Trump, putting us all at risk.

Stay with us.


REID: Trump is not only refusing to accept the election results, making it harder for Joe Biden to get the information that he needs to successfully govern. His administration is also conducting a purge of federal employees not deemed loyal to Trump.

It's being led by a 30-year-old guy named John McEntee, a former campaign volunteer who Trump put in charge of personnel for the entire U.S. government.

One Environmental Protection Agency employee was asked his opinion on pulling troops out of Afghanistan. "'I work at the EPA,'" the official said, startled."

One senior government employee -- appointee was asked by McEntee where he gets his news. "He said his answer, FOX News, seemed to meet with McEntee's satisfaction."

Critics say the dismissals threatened to destabilize broad swathes of the federal bureaucracy in the fragile period during the handover to the next administration.

I'm joined now by Janet Napolitano, professor of public policy at U.C. Berkeley, former secretary of homeland security, and former governor of Arizona.

Governor, thank you so much for being here. Really appreciate you.

Let's talk about this. This young man, this 30-year-old guy who's in charge of personnel for the whole government, he got into Trump's good graces by sort of bringing him a sandwich. While there was a meeting taking place, he delivered him a sandwich. He was the delivery guy. True story.

And Donald Trump was so enthralled with him...


REID: Yes.

And now he's the head of personnel, and he's doing an ideological purge of the government.

How dangerous do you think this really strange turnover to president-elect Biden is going to be for the American people?

JANET NAPOLITANO, FORMER U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, you're right. It is really strange.

And, at least from the press accounts, it looks as if officials are being asked questions, almost like a loyalty test, to see whether they can keep their jobs. And there's real risk to destabilizing some of the most important agencies of our federal government, beginning with the Department of Defense. And we know what's happened there.

But, also, key leadership has been effectively removed at the Department of Homeland Security and at other agencies throughout the federal system. And, really, at this stage, when the election is, for all intents and purposes, over, when we have a president- and vice president-elect, these kinds of personnel moves only make the transition even more fragile.

REID: And the people, some of the political appointees that are being turfed out, it's not as if these were people held in the greatest esteem.

I mean, people used to refer derisively to Mr. Esper, the defense secretary, as Yesper because he was such a yes-man, but the idea is that whoever's coming after them are people who are even worse.

I want to talk a little bit about the DHS, the Department of Homeland Security. I mean, this is the place that oversaw the abduction of little kids from their parents, snatching them away and throwing them in cages, and spiriting them all around the country, to the point where more than 500 of them cannot be relocated -- cannot have their parents relocated. They're just missing their parents.

The Muslim ban. Bans on refugees. Snatching money from defense school building funds, so they could build a wall.

Like, how do you -- how would you suggest president-elect Biden even begin to rebuild just that department?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I think, where DHS is concerned, you almost have to start from scratch.

It's been so denuded under the Trump administration. And you have many issues on the immigration side of the department. But then you have things like cybersecurity, things like emergency response, things like protection of the nation's critical infrastructure. All fall within the Department of Homeland Security.

It's a huge department with a very complicated set of missions. And so I actually think, from a Biden transition standpoint, they almost need to go back to the end of the Obama administration, and then take it from there.

REID: Let's talk a little bit about -- to stay on this homeland security issue, I just want to show you a picture of Donald Trump driving through these throngs of -- he -- they called it a Million MAGA March, but it was like 10,000 people, and they kind of lied about how many people were there.

But here they are. There were fights. There were people with all sorts of signs that were derogatory about black people and Indian Americans, some -- one of which was caught on FOX News. Donald Trump tweeted that the police in D.C. ought to get going and don't hold back, encouraging them to commit police brutality. That's what he was encouraging over the weekend.

In that atmosphere, Joe Biden's going to take over a country with lots of those people. And lots of those people also have a big problem with mask orders. They have a big problem with any kind of restrictions. They call it liberty, because they want to be free to cough on everyone and give them COVID, I guess.

You already have red state governors that are already resisting just the idea of doing mask orders or basic commonsense things to stop COVID. How do you think Joe Biden can even handle that?

NAPOLITANO: You know, I think president-elect Biden ought to keep doing exactly what he's been doing.

He needs to be consistent and persistent, and just relying on what the scientists tell him is the best thing for the protection of the American people. And he will have the bully pulpit as the president of the United States, and that will make a difference.

And then, for the states where people are still allowed to wear masks, at a certain point, you will -- you will begin to see their numbers, unfortunately, go up, while states that practice good public health, their numbers will begin to go down, and that will teach us something as well.

REID: Yes.

Let's talk about a couple of women. There's talk that Michele Flournoy may become the first woman head of the Pentagon. If that happened, that would break a barrier, much as you did, as the department -- head of the Department of Homeland Security.

There's also talk of Jill Biden potentially still keeping her job, teaching and remaining on the job as a teacher, during the Biden administration, Dr. B, as her students call her.

What do you make of that and what do you make of that from a security standpoint from her? What do you make of it as someone yourself who is in the education field at this point?

JANET NAPOLITANO, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I think it's terrific. You know, she's been a very dedicated teacher her whole professional life. You know, I think she's going to be like many American women. She's going to be a working spouse.

And she's going to keep up her profession while her husband keeps up his profession. I think it sends a terrific signal. And she's an educator. And that also sends a terrific signal.

REID: Janet Napolitano, thank you so much. We really appreciate you taking time to be here with us this evening. Thank you.

NAPOLITANO: Thanks so much.

REID: And still ahead, remember -- cheers.

Remember the Republican Party? That's what they called themselves before becoming the party of Trump. So, what happens now that Trump is on his way out?

We'll be right back.


REID: Ah, yes, remember Sean Spicer? Donald Trump's very first press secretary. The man who proceeded to shriek at the American people less than 24 hours after President Obama peacefully transferred power to Trump, inaugurating the Trump era practice that we are now all too familiar with, which is blatantly lying to the public from the White House briefing room.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration period, both in person and around the globe.


REID: None of that is true. Nope. Not even remotely.

Yet Kellyanne Conway defended those lies, calling them alternative facts, laying the early ground work for the 22,000 false or misleading claims that Trump would make over the next four years. And now, he's going -- he's going out the same way he came in, with his current Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany also lying about crowd size, tweeting that more than one million marchers showed up for a pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. Again. Not true. Generous tally closer to 10,000.

So, the thing is the head count doesn't even matter because Trump's lies about crowd size have always been about something else. It's about winning. Winning votes, winning adoration, and winning the fight to one-up President Obama, and now, Trump is going for the biggest lie of all, that he won the election.

No, he didn't. Trump will no longer be president at noon on January 20th. And that day could not come soon enough.

But his grip on American politics will remain, empowered by his supporters, but even more so by Republicans who continue to cower under a failed strong man. And, now, by incoming Republican freshmen committed to weaponizing conspiracy theories and denying science, the same way their dear leader did, including one representative-elect who tweeted that masks are oppressive, the same week U.S. COVID cases crossed the 11 million mark. And that is next.


REID: The silence of the Republican Party as Donald Trump continues to refuse to concede the election tells you everything you need to know about where this party stands. Trump still owns the GOP.

And now, incoming House freshmen empower and legitimize our Republican voters pick up the torch. Congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia is officially bringing the QAnon cult into the party. Dr. Ronny Jackson of Texas who has echoed Trump's lie that President Obama for whom he served for a time as a White House doctor, spied on the Trump campaign and who has downplayed the efficacy of masks.

And Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina who become the youngest member of Congress and whose buzz includes being called the AOC of the GOP, a weird, leisurely visit to a Hitler chateau on vacation.

Joining me now, David Corn of "Mother Jones" and Michael Steele, former chair of the RNC, and former adviser to the Lincoln Project. I feel like we're torturing for giving him excerpt for this stuff.

Michael Steel, what is going on with these people? Marjorie Taylor Greene, she tweeted herself out with a police escort in riot gear on Sunday, talking about Antifa terrorists are coming to get me. I thankfully had a police escort from the Trump Hotel to my Lyft. The streets of DC were a war-zone, but I was left defenseless because of anti-gun Democrats run this city.

She's like -- I mean, she's got a QAnon thing. she shows up holding a gun in front of an image of the squad. Like what in the hell, Michael?

MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICL ANALYST: It's -- oh, I don't know, Joy. I've run out of pills to take. Yeah, you know, it -- look, this is -- this is -- well, put it this way, this could be the future of this iteration of the Republican Party. Jennifer Rubin I think wrote a very prescient piece in "The Post" today which she talks about the reality caucus in the House, and the Senate. Those members who actually say they give a damn about Republicanism and small-D democratic norms and freedom and all of that stuff, right? All of the stuff we talked about for a long time.

So, they have three choices. One, give in to the sort of populist nationalism. Find some space to carve out time and effort on major legislation with center left Democrats or completely walk away from this, take the public hit, wait for the Democrats to screw it up, which, you know, there's a history there, and then come back on the other side with a different conversation with the American people.

Those are really what we're left with because the woman that's standing next to the woman in the outfit or whatever she's supposed to be in, the police riot gear, you need that to go to your car? No one gives a damn who you are. You don't even know --

REID: Excuse me, Q knows who she is. Q knows who she is. I wanted to leave that there.

STEELE: That's all that matters.

REID: David, I mean, the same lady tweeted out, I can't even go to the gym because of the tyranny and then people are tweeting, baby, there's a gym around the corner and there's a gym in your hotel and both of them are open.

I would put forward and I would posit, David, that people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, people like Dr. -- Mr. Doctor that used to treat President Obama and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who Ronny Jackson, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama who doesn't know what the Voting Rights Act is, those people are more emblematic of the party than the people like Lindsey Graham who represents the elite, the donors of the party. They represent the people who want the businesses deregulated.

But the base of the party is much more representative because people like Tommy Tuberville and Marjorie Taylor Greene. Am I wrong?

DAVID CORN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, and, of course, you're never wrong.

And my heart goes out to my favorite recovering Republican, Michael Steele, for having to try to explain this. And the thing is, though, the party is still a cult. It's still driven by Donald Trump. That's not going to change even when he's towed out of the White House by federal marshals.

He -- he reminds me of a mob boss who says to the party, you know, you work for me. You still work for me. Even if I'm going to jail, you're still working for me because the base is following him.

So, all those great scenarios that our friend Jennifer Rubin came up with, this gigantic analogy which is Donald Trump who entered the White House because of his racist birther conspiracy theory and is leaving the White House with a host of conspiracies about the election being stolen from him still will have this base, whatever portion of the committee votes for him, enthralled and they will be voting for the Marjorie Greens, the Ronnie Jacksons, they'll be listening to QAnon. They still believe that Barack Obama wasn't born here.

They'll believe anything that you say about Biden and the conspiracy theories and the impeachment crusades of Fox News, and Breitbart and (AUDIO GAP) to start ginning up, Rudy Giuliani won't let go of. So (AUDIO GAP) in the grips of the frenzy.

And Trump saying he may still run (AUDIO GAP), that freezes everything. Ted, Marco, Nikki, Josh, you name them. They cannot make a move because they're still being held hostage by Trump and the base.

REID: Well, isn't that true, Michael? Because look, you know, the lesson of 2020 is that people who were complete sycophants, you know, people like Lindsey Graham got re-elected, people who just were complete sycophants and suck-ups got back in and the people who are quite like poor Corey Gardner tried to stay out of the way, and lost, right? I mean, all of the incentives completely continued to bow down to Donald Trump, and so, they're going to, right? And you've got now, Lindsey Graham being alleged to be trying to pressure the other Republicans, whose Secretary of State in Georgia, to overturn the election. And now, they're fighting. He's now denying that he's putting pressure.

No one can (AUDIO GAP) are sold to Trump.

STEELE: Yeah. That's a good way to put all the souls are sold in that sense. (AUDIO GAP) that's where we are as a national party, and that's where we are as a state and a local party. We're going to have to plow through this and to David's point, to the extent that Trump remains an ever present figure, in whatever form that is, as a potential candidate for 2024 or just a grand poopah who wants to control in and be the puppeteer of all Republicans, you're going to have to deal with that.

But 2020 also says something else, because keep in mind, there aren't enough Republicans to make up 72 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump. So, there's something else that's also beneath the surface here that we have to take a look at in terms of what gives animated life to a lot of what we're seeing right now and why is that being reinforced not just by Republicans but by other Americans as well? And I think that's going to be a bigger discussion for the country as a whole.

And one the real early challenges for president (AUDIO GAP) is trying to carve out that conversation with the American people such that he's not, you know, speaking into a loud, shattering sound.


REID: What do you think that we should -- go back on that, too. What do you think he should do? Go ahead, David?

CORN: I think there's a problem with having that conversation at large. If you look at a large part of the Trump base, they're just off the charts in terms of whackiness. I don't know what else to say it.

They believe Trump's lies. They don't believe COVID is a problem. There is a story coming out today from a nurse saying that people are dying, the hospital's COVID, and saying they don't believe it, something else is going on.

REID: Yeah.

CORN: Because they drunk the Kool-Aid.

And so, I don't know how you can talk to those people. I do believe Biden has to find a way to nip around the edges of whatever the Trump coalition is.

REID: Yeah, because --

CORN: With policy, with health care, whatever.


REID: David Corn -- David Corn, Michael Steele, I can't keep talking, because we're going to be in another person's show. I got to stop you guys.

That is tonight's REIDOUT. I appreciate you guys.



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