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Transcript: The ReidOut, November 17, 2020

Guests: Gretchen Whitmer; Imran Andrabi, Yamiche Alcindor, Eric Swalwell, Julian Castro


COVID cases are rising in all 50 states, D.C. and U.S. territories. Democratic Senator Brown asks GOP Senator Sullivan to wear a mask. GOP senators take credit for vaccines, blame Democrats for stalemate on COVID relief. Dr. Fauci says, you can't run away from the data. Michigan announces new COVID restrictions amid surge. Wayne County, Michigan electors split 2-2 on certifying election. Atlas says, pandemic response is not about just stopping cases of COVID. GOP lawmakers are trying to impeach Michigan governor. Wisconsin hospitals are struggling to address COVID surge. GOP Senator Paul is pushing deadly herd immunity approach. There's a lot riding on Georgia's two upcoming Senate runoff elections on January 5, the future of the United States Senate, in particular.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Imagine if you can being in a house that is on fire. And while you can hear the fire department sirens in the distance, rescue is so close. You can't get out because someone has bolted the door.

America is in a national coronavirus crisis. Our house is on fire. And Republican elected officials are doing the equivalent of locking the door with the American people trapped inside. Every single state plus Washington D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam all reporting increases in cases of the terrifying illness caused be the coronavirus in the past two weeks. 70,000 Americans are hospitalized tonight and thousands are dying alone in hospitals across the country and having to say goodbye to their families and loved ones on their phones and iPads.

Even the White House task force, which has had no contact with the president of the United States in five months, issued an alarming assessment this week which was obtained by NPC warning of an aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties without evidence of improvement but rather further deterioration.

And tonight, Chuck Grassley, the 87-year-old Republican senator from Iowa, has confirmed that he tested positive for COVID-19. Just yesterday, he was in the Senate chamber maskless.

So where is the president's party? Where is the party that bangs on about the sanctity of life? Right now, they are busy fighting mask mandates and pushing back on common sense health regulations because, freedom, which apparently means the freedom to die and the freedom to kill other people with the virus.

Take Senator Ted Cruz. His home state of Texas is overwhelmed. Hospitals in El Paso are reaching the breaking point. But the junior senator is busy lobbing Twitter insults at Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, calling him an ass and an idiot, his words, not mine, because he dared to ask a fellow Republican to wear a mask while presiding over the chamber.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator from Ohio.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): I'd start by asking the presiding officer to please wear a mask as he speaks and people below him, I can't tell you what to do, but I know that behavior --

SEN. DAN SULLIVAN (R-AK): I don't wear a mask when I am speaking, like most senators. I don't need your instruction.

BROWN: I know you don't need my instruction, but there clearly isn't much interest in this body in public health.


REID: So, while Republicans are demanding freedom from masks, they apparently could care less about the 248,000 Americans who have lost their lives to the virus and they accept no responsibility for any of it. In fact, believe it or not, they think they deserve credit.


SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): This vaccine truly is the light at the end of tunnel and it's made possible by the commitment of the Republican majority in the Senate and this administration and our efforts to focus on Operation Warp Speed.

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): Operation Warp Speed has been a tremendous success for this administration. I do want to give a shout out to the Trump administration for making this possible.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It looks to me like the speaker, the Democratic leader of the Senate and former Vice President Biden all have the view that two-and-a-half trillion or nothing.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): We will continue to have an open door and we're ready to negotiate at a moments' notice.


REID: I just want to fact check to remind you all that the companies themselves that are producing these vaccines were not involved in Operation Warp Speed and have said as much. So that's a lie. Meanwhile, it is Democrats who passed the comprehensive coronavirus package way back in May and they passed it again in October. It's currently languishing somewhere in Mitch McConnell's office next to the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

And today, Dr. Anthony Fauci seemed really frustrated by the politicization by Republicans of the virus.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: This is the worst outbreak that we had of a respiratory-borne illness in 102 years. You can't run away from the data. It's incomprehensible to me how people are not seeing that. These are real numbers.

And, unfortunately, we have gotten into a situation of political divisiveness that a public health message, like I'm trying to give, is not encroaching on anybody's freedom.


REID: Unfortunately for the American people, the political divisiveness, meaning the rot, spread down the Republican pipeline all the way to the states a long time ago.

In South Dakota, as deaths continue to skyrocket, Governor Kristi Noem has proudly refused to enforce any statewide restrictions because, as her office puts it, they haven't worked.

In Minnesota, Republican state senators refuse to tell their Democratic counterparts they had many outbreak in their ranks.

In Wisconsin, state Republicans worked at every turn to roll back any measure the Democratic governor has implemented to try to fight the virus. The editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called the party out, writing, how many more have to get sick and die before lawmakers work with the governor and do their jobs?

And in neighboring Michigan, state Republicans are seeking to impeach Governor Whitmer because she is trying to protect people. On Sunday, the governor and state health officials announced new restrictions and a rise in cases. The house is on fire.

And joining me now is Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. And, Governor, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate your presence.

It is madness. I'm sorry. It's enough to make you want to climb the wall. It is incredible what Republicans are doing, including to you. But I want to -- before I get to the coronavirus of it, I have to ask you about this news that just over the transom (ph). A friend of mine just texted to me, my producers just sent it to me as well.

In your state, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers failed on Tuesday to certify its ballot count, punting the question of who won the state's most densely populated region to a state regulatory board that doesn't meet until November 23rd. What on earth is going on in Michigan? This is disenfranchisement of black voters. Isn't that Detroit? I mean, what's happening?

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI) (voice over): That's right. So, Joy, Wayne County is where the city of Detroit is located. It is the largest county in our state. It is -- there's overwhelming vote and these partisans have decided not to do their legal duty. And their rationale is not a legally justifiable rationale. And so it will now get kicked to the State Board of Canvassers and we'll see where it goes. But we are preparing for all sorts of different potential paths that this takes.

There's no question that Joe Biden won the state of Michigan. He won by 14 times the margin that Donald Trump won four years earlier. So we ran a great election, no drama, it was fair and safe and secure. And we're going to see this through.

REID: I'm going to just note that in the story, and this is The Washington Post. The head of the Michigan GOP congratulated the board in a statement. This is an attempt by Republicans to undermine a done deal election that is over. So they don't believe in democracy. They don't believe that when black voters vote, it should count. They want to throw out only the votes, it's interestingly enough, where the black people live. We see you, Republican Party.

They also don't believe in protecting people from dying of COVID. Dr. Atlas works with Trump. And I want to note, by the way, that your state has 288,000 cases, 8,431 deaths. That is a couple of 9/11s-plus. Here is Dr. Atlas criticizing people who say, don't go see elderly relatives on Thanksgiving. Here is Dr. Atlas.


DR. SCOTT ATLAS, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE MEMBER: This kind of isolation is one of the unspoken tragedies of the elderly who are now being told, don't see your family at Thanksgiving. For many people, this is their final Thanksgiving, believe it or not.

What are doing here? I think we have to have a policy which I have been advocating, which is a whole person, whole health policy. It's not about just stopping cases of COVID. We have to talk about the damage of the policy itself.


REID: He said for many people, this is their final Thanksgiving, and it will be for a lot of people if they see their elderly relatives and they can bury them around Christmas time.

Your state's Republican Party is trying to impeach you for having restrictions. What do you even say to that?

WHITMER: Here is what I say, COVID-19 does not care about your politics. COVID-19 does not care about the legislature being on their hunting break, when we are in literally the worst of our COVID outbreak since this began nine months ago. COVID-19 doesn't care if you want to see your relatives. It is a real threat. And nation's governors are stepping in because there's been a vacuum at the federal level. We are doing the best we can to keep the people of the state safe.

I am grateful I have neighbors like Mike DeWine in Ohio and J.B. Pritzker in Illinois. We have been trying to work together. We put out a PSA today where we are all involved, including Indiana and Wisconsin, Minnesota and Kentucky as well, to call on people to mask up and to not travel this holiday. We are following the science and that's how you save lives. That's how you mitigate the harm to our economy. That's how you get people back to work and keep kids in school.

But this kind of rhetoric coming out of Washington D.C. undermines the important work that we are trying to do on the frontline. We need resources. We need support. We need leaders who are going to be accurate with the medical information they dispense and stop the politics around this public health crisis because it's killing people.

REID: given the state of the Republican Party nationwide and in the state of Michigan, do you think that it will be even feasible or how will Joe Biden implement programs to reduce the spread to contain this virus? How can he possibly get that done in a state like Michigan where people are willing to brandish guns because you asked them to wear a piece of cloth over their face in Walmart? I mean, I don't understand how Biden gets that done in a state like Michigan.

WHITMER: Listen, if anyone can get it done, it's Joe Biden. And I think it's important to recognize the vast majority of people in my state and probably in states all across the nation, the vast majority of people are doing the right thing. They are good people who are trying to make sense out of all of the confusing and inaccurate information coming out of Washington, D.C. They are trying to protect families. They want leadership on this. That's why Joe Biden won so overwhelmingly.

And I think that's why the closer we get to the moment he is sworn in, I'm feeling more and more optimistic because I know he has a plan, I know he listens to experts and I know he is the kind of person that can bring us together to fight this common enemy, the virus. We are not one another's enemy, this virus is. And we've got to rise to this challenge.

REID: Well, I'll take this for myself. I won't put it on you. But, unfortunately, we have to fight the virus and a political party that's entrenched itself and in standing four square against democracy and against fighting a virus. They have taken the other side in terms the war against the virus. I don't get it.

Stay safe. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, please stay safe. All of our audience is rooting for you. Thank you very much.

All right, next door to Michigan, in Wisconsin, health officials are facing grim numbers as well. More than 12,000 new COVID-19 cases and a record 92 deaths were reported today. And this comes as the Wisconsin Supreme Court is deciding whether or not to strike down Democratic Governor Tony Evers' statewide mask mandate. This is insane.

Joining ne now, Dr. Imran Andrabi, President and CEO of Wisconsin's ThedaCare healthcare system. And, Dr. Andrabi, thank you for being here.

In your opinion, does Wisconsin need a mask mandate?

DR. IMRAN ANDRABI, PRESIDENT AND CEO, THEDACARE: So, Joy, thank you for having me on your show. Short answer, yes. And the reason is because if most of us do the right thing and all of us don't, the mask mandate doesn't work and it does not stop the transmission of the virus. So we all have to be in this together for ourselves, for our neighbors and for our loved ones, make sure that we do the right thing, which is actually the easy thing to do and mask.

REID: And your system, ThedaCare hospitals, and that is where you work, sir, they're more than 95 percent full. COVID deaths are rising. Wisconsin, as I mentioned, has a record number of hospitalizations.

In addition to mask mandates, do you think that people like Dr. Atlas saying that people should go ahead and get together for Thanksgiving, does that undermine the work that your healthcare workers are trying to do?

ANDRABI: So, Joy, I will tell you that when you talk to our nurses and you talk to our physicians, they will tell you that they feel safer when they are in our hospital taking care of COVID patients than going out in the community, sometimes to grocery shop before they go home to their families. And that's not a great statement in our state of Wisconsin.

So we do have to make sure that we enable people to mask. We keep our distance. We keep our gathering really, really specified to the people that live in your household. And you have been in contact within your COVID bubble, if you may. Getting together in large numbers during Thanksgiving is another recipe for disaster, quite honestly. We saw this happen right after Halloween. We are anticipating another surge potentially happening after Thanksgiving.

So my ask, as our rate of positivity in our state continue go up over 35 percent and in our region over 31 percent, that let's be sensible, let's do the right thing and let's make sure that we keep each other safe.

REID: Sure. I just want to ask a fact question. Senator Paul, who is an ophthalmologist by training, certified by his own organization, not by the state of Kentucky, but he technically is an ophthalmologist. He said -- he tweeted, Pfizer vaccine, 90 percent effective, Moderna vaccine, 94.5 percent, naturally-acquired COVID-19, 99.9982 percent effective, estimating 200 re-infections out of 11 million Americans, which he said is likely an overstatement of actual re-infections.

Is herd immunity more effective than vaccines?

ANDRABI: Well, whether is it or it isn't, it's going to take us a long time to get to herd immunity. And so you need to be in a position where more than 70 percent of the people in the community are actually infected by the virus before you get to a herd community situation. And we are a long ways from there. So that's going to create a significant amount of, I would say, death and devastation to get to herd immunity.

And so a better way is to let's prevent. Let's make sure that we do the things that we have at our disposal right now, as it has been said by many people, scientists, Dr. Fauci, the masking and hand washing, making sure that we are keeping distance, making sure that we are getting our flu shot. And when the vaccine is available, let's make sure that we get the vaccine as well.

REID: Dr. Imran Andrabi, I hope people listen to you and not instead of Rand Paul. I think you're a scientist, and he's not -- or you're an expert, he's not. Thank you very much. I really appreciate you being here.

Up next on THE REIDOUT, a full two weeks after voters elected Joe Biden president, Republicans are still too cowardly to step up and make sure Biden gets a transition that he and the country need.

Plus, what in the world is Lindsey Graham up to in Georgia?


BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: But then Senator Graham implied (ph) for us audit the envelopes and then throw out the ballots for counties with the highest frequency error of signatures.


REID (voice over): Graham's personal and possibly illegal effort to toss out legal ballots.

And in Trump's COVID economy, one of the few things struggling people got from Mitch McConnell's Senate was a $1,200 check way back in April, because Republicans are far more concerned about judges and oil drilling in Alaska than they are about the American people.

Back with more of THE REIDOUT after this.


REID: Donald Trump, who has long denied science, continues his war against math, the very simple arithmetic that shows president-elect Joe Biden as the clear victory in this election.

And that denial is stonewalling the presidential transition and posing a clear and present danger to American lives. Medical groups made up of real doctors and nurses are now calling on Trump to share the critical COVID-19 data that Biden needs to do his job, a job, mind you, that Trump isn't even pretending that he wants anymore.

Meanwhile, the Biden/Harris team is forging ahead, ignoring Trump's bruised ego and his sycophant friends, and receiving national security briefings from outside experts, since they can't get them from actual government officials.

Joining me now is Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, a member of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees, and Yamiche Alcindor of "PBS NewsHour."

Thank you both for being here.

I want to start with some breaking news.

Donald Trump has used his Twitter to fire a gentleman named Chris Krebs, who was the government official who certified that the election was -- had been safe. He was the director of cybersecurity, I believe, at the Department of Homeland Security. And he is now fired using a tweet.

There it is.

And he fired him specifically because of the statement that Mr. Krebs made about the unprecedented security of the 2020 election. He's trying to claim that that was inaccurate, because he still can't get over losing the election. It's the biggest, whiniest thing we have heard from Trump in a minute.

Yamiche Alcindor, what is going on inside the White House? And what is going on inside the Republican Party that they're still trying to undermine and undo an election?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, "PBS NEWSHOUR": Well, what's going on inside the White House and with President Trump is that he's doing what no other president did.

And that is continuing to try to undermine American democracy, which is the foundation of this country. What we see tonight with this firing of Christopher Krebs is the president lashing out at someone that he sees as an opponent because that person is simply telling the truth.

Chris Krebs has been saying that the election was secure, that there were no votes changed, that everyone should feel confident in the election, things that state officials said. And the president got angrier and angrier at him. Christopher Krebs told people close to him, according to reporting, that he expected to be fired.

Now, imagine that. You expect to be fired because you're telling the truth about the fact that American democracy continues to thrive and continues to go forward without much incident.

The other thing that we're seeing here -- you talked about the coronavirus. There was a briefing by Biden officials today. And I put the question to them, what is at stake if the transition continues to be delayed? And, of course, we have been talking about the coronavirus vaccine.

But, on top of that, they said therapeutics. They said the access to rapid tests. They said the idea that people can possibly die and possibly suffer because the president is throwing a tantrum, firing people, doing all of these things. Actual lives hang in the balance. And that's what is at risk tonight.

And that is why you see the president lashing out. And, of course, the GOP is circling the wagons because they're worried about their voters. They want to be reelected in 2022 and 2024. But there's still, of course, a lot of worry because people might not make it to 2022 and 2024 if they die of a virus.

REID: Right.

And I read a piece, Representative Swalwell, in "USA Today" that talked about the death threats on Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who we just had on the show in the previous -- before the previous break, saying that Republicans understand that they may not lose their jobs if thousands of their own constituents die, but they think they might lose their jobs if they go against Donald Trump.

And so they're prioritizing him and being subservient and obedient to him, even when he's doing things that are absolutely, I'm sorry, asinine, and pretending that he doesn't know he just lost the election, and firing people for just saying the truth about the election, that they feel they have to continue to be obedient to him, because all they care about is keeping their jobs, because I guess they can't do anything else.

They don't have any other possibilities.

What is going on with your colleagues across the aisle? Do any of them give a -- do any of them ever talk to you about being concerned about national security, about people dying from COVID? Do any of them ever mention the dead when they talk to you, if they talk to you?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Fewer of them today than when -- when Donald Trump was first elected.

It started, Joy, with the private conversations of, you know what? I don't like what he says, but, if I speak out, he's going to come after me on Twitter.

And now they just keep their heads down. They don't make eye contact. And it's not that they're putting party over country. That actually would be more admirable than what they're doing. They're putting their own job over country.

And I would like to think that I serve with people who could get another job if, God forbid, they were thrown out for standing up against Donald Trump, or that they would think that's the right thing to do.

Look, Donald Trump cannot fire his way out of defeat. He cannot sue his way to victory. It is over. This virus is beating us. And it's going to take more and more lives if my Republican colleagues can't find the nerve and the spine to stand up to this president and tell him, turn over the keys to the Biden campaign. We have a virus to defeat and an economy to reopen.

REID: And what is your reaction to the firing of Mr. Krebs? Because it seems like he was pretty sure he was going to get fired, and now it's happened.


The Homeland Security official who was fired, his job was to secure the election, not to secure Donald Trump's reelection. And, again, the president can fire him. He's not going to be president in 64 days, but the damage that he's doing right now is, he's allowing foreign governments to see that we are weaker right now because we do not have cops on the beat to protect our country against misinformation, is what exactly Mr. Krebs was supposed to do.

Also, Joy, we have always been a beacon to every country in the world, teaching them what they need to know about democracy. Now they look at us, and they see a firing like this today, and they see three things. One, democracies are fragile, you have to work on them, and, third, and most importantly, you have to protect them.

And that can only happen if Republicans in Congress are willing to stand up and unite with Democrats against this lunacy.

REID: It's hard to want to hold your breath for that.

Yamiche, we have the GSA continuing to stand in the way of president-elect Biden getting the briefings that he needs, not just for himself. It's not that he wants to briefings for fun. This is to prepare him to do what's the most difficult, arguably, job in the United States in the country, and trying to do that on top of a pandemic, getting his hands on that, getting his hands on national security issues.

This woman Emily Murphy, who's blocking the transition, who works at GSA, she's a Trump appointee. Walter Shaub, who's a former deputy director of the Office of Government Ethics, has said she has a -- she's held on a tight leash by Trump. She axed plans to move the FBI's Washington, D.C., headquarters in a way that protected Donald Trump's hotel interests in the past. We know he rents government property, that old post office, to put his hotel in.

Is there anything -- inside of the White House, is everyone OK with this? Can we expect anyone to speak out about this? Because I remember one Mr. Lankford, congressman from Oklahoma -- or senator from Oklahoma, saying that, if nothing was done by Friday, Congress was going to take action, he would take action.

Nothing has been done.

ALCINDOR: Well, Senator Lankford is a good example of what happens when you seem to speak out against the president.

I don't expect anyone who's continuing to work at the White House to speak out about this publicly, because they are -- they say at least, telling me, that they are privately trying to get the president to process the fact that he has lost this election.

There has been a little bit of shift in rhetoric. Before, they were saying, we're going to rustle back states, we're going to get states back in the president's corner. Now they're saying, well, maybe we will just audit the election, and then he will lose, quietly leave.

But there is no sense, Joy, that the president is going to be doing that.


REID: I'm sorry. Yamiche, I'm sorry. I don't mean to -- I don't mean to interrupt you, but he's not a toddler. He's not 4 years old. He doesn't need to process anything. He's a grown adult man.

Are you kidding me? These people are going to all be out of work by January 20. It's not like they're going to have ongoing jobs. He's gone. He's not a baby. What are they afraid -- if he said -- so what?

ALCINDOR: Well, that's the thing.

The question is, the so what of that is the thing that hangs in the balance. He has this power over the Republican Party, because 71 million voters are behind him. And they're scared of their own voters, scared of their own base.

And, as you said, it is this -- when you talk to them, they could be talking to about a child. They're saying, he's processing. He's really upset. He's human. You have to understand that he has to get over this, when, of course, Barack Obama said, at the end of the day, when you're a president, you have to think about yourself -- not your ego, not where you are. You have to think about the country.

And, right now, the president, even those closest to the president, tell me he's not thinking about the country. He's thinking about the fact that his biggest fear was to lose, and that's what he has to realize now, that he has lost, and he has not wanted to do that.

REID: You know who is not going to treat him like a baby? Cy Vance. Letitia James.

You're not a child. Grow up, Mr. President. Grow up. You're a grown man.

Congressman Eric Swalwell -- it's unbelievable -- Yamiche Alcindor, thank you both very much.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

REID: Wow.

Up next: Why is a Republican senator from South Carolina -- cheers -- from South Carolina sticking his nose -- it just gets worse and worse -- into ballot counting in Georgia? Isn't that kind of thing, you know, illegal?

We will be right back.


REID (singing): Let's do the time warp again.

Remember when Lindsey Graham had the remnants of a spine, you know, the Lindsey Graham who warned in May of 2016 that, "If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed, and we will deserve it"?

And a few months later, the man Twitter dubs Leningrad Lindsey said that Trump was doing the party and the country a great disservice by suggesting the 2016 election was rigged, and, if he lost, it would be because he was a failed candidate?

Yes, yes, I think we're done asking what happened that guy forever, like, forever ever.

But he was right about those two things, though. In his now four years of abject humiliating sycophancy to Donald Trump, Graham has destroyed his reputation, full stop. That's done.

And in his latest act of genuflection, he's trying to destroy the integrity of the presidential election result in Georgia. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told "The Washington Post" he was facing pressure from Republicans, including Senator Graham, to exclude legal ballots.

He also said Graham called him up and asked whether he had the power to toss all mail ballots in counties found to have higher rates of non-matching signatures.

Now, in an interview today, Raffensperger addressed that claim, as well as the death threats that he and his wife have received, as Georgia undertakes a hand recount of presidential election ballots, at taxpayer expense, which won't actually change the fact that Joe Biden won Georgia by more than 14,000 votes and is the president-elect.


BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Senator Graham implied for us to audit the envelopes, and then throw out the ballots for counties who had the highest frequency error of signatures.

I'm a conservative Republican, always have been. I have never voted for a Democrat. A lot of these people that are spinning up the crowd used to be Democrats. I have always been a conservative Republican. And I want to make sure we have a lawful process, because I think integrity still matters.


REID: And, today, Graham, who, just as a reminder, is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, denied he ever asked for the exclusion of legal ballots.


GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Did you or did you not ask him to throw out votes?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): No, that's ridiculous.

I talked to him about how you verify signatures. I'm really worried about mail-in balloting. I'm worried about how you verify a signature.

And I think Georgia -- I have talked to Doug Ducey in Arizona. I have talked to the people in Nevada. We have got contests all over the nation.


REID: Well, guess what, Lindsey? There was a witness.

A Georgia state elections official says he witnessed the call, when Graham went down the path of asking whether ballots for entire counties could simply be tossed out.


GABRIEL STERLING, GEORGIA VOTING SYSTEM IMPLEMENTATION MANAGER: What I heard was basically discussions about absentee ballots, and if a -- potentially, if there was a percentage of signatures that weren't really truly matching, is there some point where you get to where you could say -- somebody went to a courtroom could say, well, let's throw out all these ballots because we have no way of knowing because the ballots are separated?


REID: And, just to be clear, they can't just toss out legal ballots for entire counties, Lindsey.

Meanwhile, today, the antebellum senator acknowledged at least one thing that seems to be true when asked the real million-dollar question about his extracurricular activities.


HAAKE: Why is a senator from South Carolina calling the secretary of state in Georgia anyway?

GRAHAM: Because the future of the country hangs in the balance.


REID: Well, he's right.

Control of the United States Senate does hinge on Georgia's two Senate run-offs. But are folks like old Lindsey and his ilk really who you want running this country? Think about it.

And we will talk about it after a quick break.


REID: There's a lot riding on Georgia's two upcoming Senate run off elections on January 5. The future of the United States Senate, in particular.

Senator Graham of South Carolina admitted as much when asked what business he had calling up Georgia secretary of state and asking him about tossing out legally cast ballots. "Washington Post" reports that behind the scenes, Republicans are calling Donald Trump a political burden. Senator David Perdue told top GOP donors that to succeed, we have to remind people of what the Democrats will do. It has nothing to do with Loeffler or me.

Of course, Perdue would say it has nothing to do with him or an elected Senator Kelly Loeffler, of course, since the new political ad running against both of them points out that both senator sold stock after being briefed about the dangers of COVID, instead of helping Georgians. Perdue faces a rematch against Democrat Jon Ossoff in January while Loeffler will face the Reverend Raphael Warnock of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, one time home to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Joining me now is Errin Haines, editor at large of "The 19th", and Charlie Sykes, editor at large of "The Bulwark".

And, Charlie, before I let you get into Georgia, I do want to get your reaction to these two pieces of breaking news that we did tonight. You have one of them being the firing of Chris Krebs, by tweet, by Donald Trump for the sin of saying the election was not rigged. Saying it was a clean election.

Your thoughts on that?

CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE BULWARK: Well, it's a continuation of Donald Trump's war on the truth. This was a whistleblower, somebody who was from within the government, was knocking down these crazy conspiracy theories that the president himself was pushing out about the manipulated voting machines about massive voter fraud. So, what you have is a rare truth teller in the Trump administration. And so, the president needs to push his narrative and, again, not necessarily a surprise given what the president has done and what he continues to do, spreading this misinformation and disinformation to keep this alive.

REID: And before we get to Georgia, Errin Haines, we also have the second piece of breaking news, which was that the Wayne County vote is not being certified because the two Republicans on the committee deadlocked the committee refusing to vote for certification, are being praised by fellow Republicans.

You know, for those who don't know what Wayne County is, that's Detroit, that's black voters. That's an attempt to blatantly disenfranchise them.


REID: This seems to be a virus of its own.

HAINES: Yeah, the virus of voter suppression, which was present long before the pandemic, and that is going to need to be addressed on the other side of this pandemic. Look, you know, these kind of tactics are what contribute to voter depression, right? I mean, you think about the electorate that was expanded this cycle, a lot of those folks being black and brown folks, marginalized folks who were encouraged to participate in this democracy for the first time.

Imagine, you know, their disappointment. If their votes are being treated as invalid or worse, illegal. That simply is not the way our democracy is supposed to work. And really, you know, regardless of your politics, rejecting the politics of voter suppression should be a bipartisan stance in this country, and hopefully, that can be the case going forward.

REID: Yeah, I want to -- before we get to the Lindsey Graham of it, I do want to note that Chris Krebs has now tweeted. He tweeted: Honor to serve. We did it right.

I don't know if we can put that tweet up. The rest of the tweet, may be you can read between my ear.

Honor to serve, we did it right. He defended what he did. So, we'll put that up so guys can see it. So, he's responded.

But, you know, it does seem, Charlie, like the mask is off. What they're essentially saying Lindsey Graham who said before we don't trust the votes in Detroit, we don't trust the votes in places like Milwaukee. We trust the votes where I won, right? Is that they are basically saying I think as Errin just did, that votes by primarily black communities are inherently illegal, that it cannot be allowed to stand, whether that's in Georgia or that's in Michigan.

And black voters hear that. Black voters are paying attention. You can hear that. You can throw as many rapper friend of yours at us that you want.

We hear what you're saying and see what you're doing. Now, you got Lindsey Graham meddling in Georgia. There's a witness on the call that heard him basically say, can't you throw out the votes of the Atlanta people? Because we don't want those.

You now have death threats coming in to Mr. Raffensperger, who is a right wing Republican.

What is happening to the party here? This is -- what is the point? Trump lost.

SYKES: OK. So, Joy, I'm going to take a deep breath here because this is breathtaking. What you are seeing here. You are seeing massive, not just voter suppression, but the disenfranchisement of millions of votes. This is now the plan that the Trump folks are pushing, is to declare elections null and void to toss out people's votes, to take legally cast votes and to throw them out. That's what Lindsey Graham is talking about doing. That's what is going on in Wayne County.

You have the president's attorney tweeting out her congratulations. She wants the legislature in Michigan to declare the election in Michigan null and void. And have -- and name Trump electors.

This takes millions of Americans and basically wipes them out of the democratic system. This is not simply an assault on normal assault. This goes to the absolute roots of our democratic system.

And just when we think that it can't get worse or be any worse or more of a bottom for these folks. This is happening. Now, look, I think Joe Biden is going to be will be sworn in January 20. Don't get me wrong.

On the other hand, what you are seeing is this creeping acceptance of disenfranchising voters. And as you point out there's no way to talk about what just happened in Wayne County without saying what the Republicans are deciding to do is throw out the largest African-American community in the state of Michigan, in order to win. They might try that in Pennsylvania. They might try in Wisconsin.

So, I hope people understand that this is not just normal Trumpian awfulness. This is basically as you put it tearing off the mask. These are people, it is a raw struggle for power, in the midst of a pandemic, at the moment when we ought to be celebrating the peaceful transfer of power, which we ought to be confronting this.

Instead, what are we seeing? Their strategy, taking the vote away literally.

REID: Literally, and literally from black people, particularly.

Lindsey Graham, William Barber, Bishop William Barber said, Lindsey Graham tried to get Georgia secretary of state to not count votes is not a surprise. Graham has supported voter suppression tactics for years.

Election rigging is real. But it doesn't suppress the Republican vote. It is a black, brown, Native American and poor voters.

Norm Ornstein tweeted: We have a real test for the Senate Ethics Committee, one I expect will fail, over Lindsey Graham's apparent illegal and immoral pressure on Georgia secretary of state to toss out legal ballots, worthy of expulsion, or at least censure.

I'll give the last word to you on this, Errin. Are organizations that organize African-American voters, are their ears piqued to this?

Because what we are seeing, as Charlie just said, is Republican voters simply saying that they are willing to throw out democracy altogether when they don't win and to invalidate on their face any votes, particularly by black people, in cities with lots of black people in them.

HAINES: Well, organizers are absolutely focused on this because while the election is effectively over in most of the rest of the country, there is an election still to be had in Georgia on January 5th. And voter suppression, voter depression, while these are very real, these organizers also know that voter suppression can be galvanizing for the people that they are attempting to disenfranchise and those are the voters that they are helping to really stay motivated and understand exactly what's at stake over the next several weeks.

REID: Absolutely. I'll say to all of the -- particular black voters, but allies in Georgia, if you ever needed a reason to vote, vote because they're literally trying to steal your votes. They're doing it openly now. They're saying your votes don't count so make them count.

Errin Haines, Charlie Sykes, thank you both.

Up next, the harsh reality of America under minority rule, just what we were talking about, an out of control pandemic, widespread unemployment and bread lines, yes, bread lines in 21st century America. This is their America and they're trying to keep it illegally.

Stay with us.


REID: This is America., a country where people wait for hours and hours in food lines, with the line of cars waiting for a box of food in Fort Worth, Texas, last Friday, extending three miles at one point as the pandemic and increased unemployment has stretched Americans' wallets to the breaking point.

It's the country where the most powerful man in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, is laser-focused on pushing through right-wing judges and nominees but in no great hurry to pass a bill that would give Americans the relief that they so desperately need right now.

Meanwhile, the situation is only getting worse with COVID cases rising in every single state, hospitals filling up in places like places like El Paso, Texas, having to resort to using inmates to staff their overflow morgues.

I'm joined now by Julian Castro, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and former mayor of San Antonio, Texas.

And, you know, you tweeted -- sir, thank you so much for being here. You tweeted, long food lines in Texas while COVID spikes and still, Greg Abbott of Texas, the governor there, refuses to spend a penny on the state's rainy day fund. Instead, he waits for federal and local leaders to come through. The rainy day fund has run out and they say won't use it until January.

I don't understand Republicans. I'm going to just going to be honest. You know, I say it all the time, my father trended Republican. If he had been an American citizen, he would be a Reaganite. He's dead and gone and he'd be rolling in his grave.

I don't know what they are. I don't understand what they are, do you?

JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: No, I don't, Joy. And I think a lot of Americans don't understand why in the world elected officials whose first charge is and ought to be to ensure that they keep -- help keep the people that they represent safe and healthy and able at least to get by don't do everything possible to make sure that we protect the public health, we encourage people to wear masks, to, you know, practice social distancing, all of those things that will keep folks safer.

And also -- and I pointed this out, as you said, in my tweet, when these Republicans are sitting on top of a rainy day fund in Texas that is billions and billions of dollars in their coffers don't lift a finger to try and help folks that we see in cities like San Antonio, Dallas, communities big and small throughout this state that we have so many families that are food insecure, and Texas has the highest number of children who are food insecure at more than 2 million. We've seen food insecurity more than double among households this year, and families with children by one estimate by Northwestern had a food insecurity rate of 20.5 percent.

And at the same time, Mitch McConnell and his Republican buddies have been sitting there with the HEROES Act on their doorstep for months and months not lifting a finger but doing everything that they can to get one more unqualified judge through before the end of this term. It is stunning, and when you lay on top of that a president that is now AWOL in terms of any kind of leadership responding to this COVID crisis, you know, thank God that we have new leadership in the Oval Office come January 20th.

REID: Well, I've likened it to he's the fire department that's like a few miles away. We're locked in the house with the people who won't let us out and the house is on fire.

I mean, maybe they don't care because if you look at white unemployment, it's 6 percent. When you look at black employment, it's 10.8 percent, Latino, 8.8 percent, Asian American unemployment, 7.6 percent. Maybe they don't care because it isn't affecting them.

You -- even -- just very quickly, what Mitch McConnell proposed, no stimulus check, $300 per week enhanced unemployment, no new aid to states, just a few small business loans but they want all of these conditions on them.

Democrats have proposed so much more in their bills, including $1,200 stimulus check, $600 a week in enhanced unemployment, the $400 billion to state and local governments. If the Democrats don't win the Senate back, what do you think is going to happen next year?

CASTRO: I think there are going to be a lot of people who are evicted, who are basically kicked to the curb. In the months ahead, I think that there are going to be a lot more families that go hungry who are going to see a lot more people who basically are homeless on our streets, or doubling up.

REID: Yeah. Yeah.

CASTRO: It's going to be bad for our country.

REID: Yeah. Indeed.

Julian Castro, thank you so much. Appreciate you.

That is tonight's REIDOUT.



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