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Transcript: The ReidOut, November 19, 2020

Guests: David Frum, Jelani Cobb, Ann Jacobs, Jonathan Kinloch, Celine Gounder, Al Franken


Trump's tantrum putting U.S. democracy at risk. Republican leaders refusing to stand up for democracy. Trump's legal team throws out red meat buzzwords. Biden says, Trump's irresponsibility sends a horrible message. The Georgia secretary of state announced that the statewide audit was completed, and the results confirmed President-elect Joe Biden's victory in Georgia.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: I am a man more sinned against than sinning. It will be easy to imagine those words coming out of the mouth of our own mad king, Donald Trump, as he stalks the halls of a White House in rage of petulant tantrum over losing the election in a landslide to Joe Biden, muttering to himself about treason and screaming specious allegations about fraud. But those are not words of Trump. That is William Shakespeare's Kinglier, because that is where we've arrived.

But Trump's mad king is far more insidious. As he remains hold up in the White House like an in-staged dictator refusing to concede and, frankly, to just go away, dissolving unreality while the Republican Party remains silent. And at this point it's hard to argue with lifelong Republicans like Stewart Stevens, who are calling it sedition.

Nearly 80 million Americans have done something that for all of Trump 74 years no one has ever done. They told him no. And now, to extricate ourselves from this nightmare and to begin undoing the damage that he's caused and the mass death he has unleashed and to begin beating back the coronavirus, we just need one Republican, just one, to also tell him no. And they won't do it. They just join him in abetting his refusal to admit defeat and watch as he inflicts that madness upon us, upon the American people, threatening to take the country down with him.

He's not attending coronavirus task force meetings. He's brushing off the quarter million Americans who are dead on his watch. Instead tweeting insane conspiracy theories so egregious that Chris Krebs, the man he just fired for speaking the truth about election security, had to clarity the election-related servers were not recently seized in Europe by the U.S. Army. Because Trump is surrounded, pardon my language, by lunatics, and sycophants, like Rudy Giuliani, who tried to make that very claim today at a so-called news conference with hair dye running down his cheeks, in a presentation that went from terrifying to ridiculous, to the theater of the absurd, full of claims of fraud without presenting a speck of evidence, just a bizarre stew of buzz words and fear mongering about a global conspiracy against Trump.



SIDNEY POWELL, TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: Hugo Chavez, the Clinton foundation.

JENNA ELLIS, TRUMP'S LEGAL ADVISER: The fake news headlines.

GIULIANI: Did you all watch my cousin, Vinny (ph), the nice lady who said she saw and then he says to her how many fingers do I have up? How many fingers do I up?


REID: Never mind the fact that one of those sycophants that he's relying on to make that claim, Jenna Ellis called him an idiot back in 2016 and claimed his supporters don't care about facts or logic.

But it's not even funny actually. It's horrifying. The fact that they are now floating conspiracy theories at a national level because this man cannot handle losing an election, and the all out assault on our democracy is getting even worse, Trump has now summoned two Michigan Republican lawmakers to the White House in yet another donkey O.D. joust (ph) to try and overturn the election that he lost.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that the goal is just to delay a final count long enough to cast doubt on Biden's decisive victory. Adding that Giuliani has also told Trump and associates that his ambition is to pressure GOP lawmakers and officials across the political map to stall the vote certification in an effort to have Republican lawmakers pick electors and disrupt the Electoral College.

While another senior Trump administration official told NBC News that those close to the president and, frankly, the president understand that the legal challenges are futile (ph). While the A.P. notes that the goal is what we've known all along, to just sow chaos.

Today, at least some Republicans dropped the charade. Five Republican governors participated in an event with President-elect Biden who summed up the pathetic nature of Trump's refusal to concede.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Being incredibly irresponsibility, incredibly damaging messages being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions.

It sends a horrible message about who we are as a country.


REID: I'm joined now Jelani Cobb, Staff Writer for the New Yorker and Journalism Professor at Columbia University, and David Frum, Senior Editor at the Atlantic, and former George W. Bush Speechwriter. Thank you both for being here.

And I'm going to start with you, David, because your tweet thread this morning really sparked this segment, because the divorce of the Republican Party, not just from Democracy but from reality at the behest of this man has been breathtaking. And you wrote about that this morning.

But before I let you expound upon that for those who didn't read it, I want you to listen Sidney Powell. She is one of Donald Trump's lawyers who was on Lou Dobbs Show this evening and she talked about what she thinks the goal of all of this is.


LOU DOBBS, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK HOST: Let's start out right now with the president's path to victory as you and the legal team see it, if you could give us just that canvas very quickly.

POWELL: Well, yes, Lou. The entire election, frankly, in all the swing states should be overturned and the legislators should make sure that the electors are selected for Trump.


REID: David?

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Yes. Well, I mean, these ideas are so pathetic and sinister that you cannot disassociate one from the other.

But, first, what she's talking about there, this is something my Atlantic colleague, Barton Gellman, reported on a month ago as a plot that's been going under way. Many people in the Republican Parties of Pennsylvania and Michigan denied any such plot but that seems to be the Trump plan.

Now, it involves breaking the law. Every state has rules governing how electors would be a portion. In Pennsylvania, which is ground zero for what Sidney Powell talking about, the law dates back to 1937. And the legislator cannot, after the election, revisit the law. But, in a way, that's giving this whole too much credence.

Because among -- alongside the zaniest (ph) of what Powell and Giuliani are talking about, is something that is more alarming and more serious. And that is the attempt to inscribe a question mark over Joe Biden's massive victory and to say, well, many of our fellow citizens, I mean not me, of course, many of our fellow citizens believe the story about sorrows and Antifa and the Venezuelans, and therefore, just to be on the safe side, let's not let this doubt for president have any judges, have president's own cabinet, have federal reserve nominees. All of those should be put into postponement for the next four years until there's a Republican President again.

REID: Exactly right. And, you know, Jelani, essentially, what they're saying is that any president elected through a majority decision by non-white people is, by definition, an invalid president. They did it with Barack Obama. They're now doing it with Joe Biden. They're simply saying that because of where Biden won, he is not allowed to be president and they can then, as David just said, hold his presidency in a ban (ph) for four years.

This crazy conspiracy theory, and apologies, I keep using that word, was called by Chris Krebs the most dangerous one hour and 45 minutes of television in American history, because what they are now is alleging, is that the United States Army is hiding the massive victory margin of Trump ballots in Germany. That's how far it's gone.

JELANI COBB, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Yes. You know, this is really -- I think that from the beginning, when, you know, Trump came down that stairwell, that escalator, and began that speech, and we saw the people began to respond to it, you know, affirmatively, the word that we tried to avoid using in kind of polite establishment circles was danger. This is all profoundly dangerous.

And put the idea of discrediting Joe Biden, you know this is birtherism. You know, this is the next incarnation of birtherism. So the belief was that if Barack Obama was not a citizen, you didn't have to give him or afford him any of the respect or the honorifics or the deference that you would normally afford to a president. You know, and you can say things like you're a liar in the middle of an address to Congress. And so we saw how that played it out. And this is essentially the same.

Now, I think that there are different motivations here. The strategic motivation probably more ascribed to the Republican elected officials. Trump is not thinking strategically. He wants to overturn the election and stay in the White House, you know, both for reasons of his own vanity and his legal exposure. And so I think that's the dynamic that we're seeing here. And, you know, it becomes part of the fraying.

And the last thing I'll say as a historian, these situations can be really, really explosive. When we saw in 1824 in election where there were questions about the validity of votes over cast and how they turned out and that wind up destroying a political party, the entire political party. In 1860, that wind up -- nearly destroying the country itself. We're talking most mostly ends that are that extreme, but we're playing with dangerous things right now.

FRUM: We will see something --

REID: Rutherford Hayes was called Rutherfraud, wasn't he? I'm sorry, did I interrupt, David?

FRUM: No, no, no, I think I interrupted, I beg your pardon.

REID: No, no, I was just going to say that -- no, no, you go first. You go first.

FRUM: Just as to what Jelani was saying about the precedent, he's so right about that. Because, look, we're not going to have the spectacular events of 19th century but what we've got is a political system that interoperates between the federal and state level. And I have been writing about this a lot for The Atlantic.

The project here is to take minority rule at the state level and engineer it to claim veto power at the federal level. And in many ways, one of the most important results of the 2020 election, maybe not what happen in the Senate or even the presidency, but what didn't happen at the state legislatures.

So you'll have a situation in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin where a majority of the vote translates into a minority of the seats, in the state legislator and therefore in Congress. And the majority and vice versa, minorities rule, majorities do not.

And I think to understand what is going to happen in this country over the next decade, the failure to correct those changes -- those balances in those three states is really significant. Because maybe we don't have a swift recovery from coronavirus, maybe there are some losses in the election of 2022 for the party of the president, maybe Republicans need just a little bit more of an edge to be able to hold veto power in Congress really through the decade.

And the warning from the events in the past week is how that power will be used. And a lot of people like Mitch McConnell who obviously don't believe in the crazy missing servers and Soros and Antifa and the Clinton Foundation. But they do believe in leveraging minority power to gain veto rights over the national system.

REID: Absolutely. And what they want to do with that power, I think, is clear. They want to enrich the very rich. They want to give corporations a veto power over the regulation of themselves. They want to ensure that no one ever taxes extremely wealthy people. They don't care about these sort of ordinary Trump voters. They have an agenda.

I'm sorry, Jelani, go on.

COBB: No. I mean, it's part of the -- to David's point, he is exactly right. And so, we haven't talk about, you know, (INAUDIBLE) thing about kind of democracy and the law since the top of the line (ph) about the tyranny of the majority. But what the protection of minority right in the Constitution actually does is present a situation where you can, in bad faith, game it to ensure what we're now seeing as a kind of minority rule.

And so we have seen that in the previous election. Hilary Clinton won by about 3 million in the popular vote, lost in the Electoral College -- double that result in order to get the same result that Donald Trump got with substantially less of the vote last time.

And so the idea of gerrymandering, which is going to happen as a result of this census and further entrench these dynamics will create a bottleneck.

And the problem, here is the bigger problem with this. One, we're talking about specific dangers. When you have a president that is delegitimized and an electorate that has shown the willingness to do acts of violence on Trumps behalf, if you think about people like Cesar Sayoc, it presents a danger to the incoming president.

And then, secondly, you have a likelihood of social upheaval when people who have a majority of the will, the will of the public, cannot be expressed through the mechanisms of government. And that is a recipe for social turmoil.

REID: Yes, absolutely.

And the last question this, David, to you will be on the question on what they're trying to leave behind. You now have a story on The Daily Beast, that one of the things they're trying to do is embed their people throughout the government, sprinkle them in into civil service positions, so that it will be hard for Joe Biden, for President Biden to extricate them.

One of them is a guy name Michael Ellis. They want to put him in as the NSA, the National Security Agency's lawyer. One of the things that he will be recalled for doing is hiding the infamous phone call with the Ukrainian president in, you know -- to get rid of it, right, that he put that phone call into deep freeze so that people couldn't see it. He is an ally of Davin Nunes who wants to manufacture conspiracy theories about the investigation into Trump. People like that being left behind -- being leave behind is yet another threat. It's almost as if Vladimir Putin were writing this as a novel and it's coming to life.

FRUM: Well, one thing I think we are going to need when this is all over is outside the party system is some kind of investigation of exactly what happened. I talked in that thread you were kind enough to say, what the need to think about the future not in bipartisan terms but in non-partisan terms, because one of the parties is broken and its commitment to Democratic norms.

So you can recruit people from outside the party system in a non-party way that is not going to distract from the normal business of government but we have to get to the bottom of exactly what happened in the Trump years.

There are so many things that we should know that we just don't. And you're point about who the people are and how they got into positions, the question of records left behind by the Trump administration, whether the records were tampered with, and what exactly we're the financial obligations of the then president through the Trump presidency. Those are questions that need an answer if the country is ever going to move forward in a safe way.

REID: Yes, we are not past these trials. I started off quoting the Kinglier in Shakespeare, but it is a Shakespearean little drama and we're not out of the woods yet. Jelani Cobb, David Frum, you guys are great, thank you so much for being here.

And up next America's fragile, very fragile democracy -- thank you -- a handful of political hacks in the right positions are working overtime to overturn the will of the 80 million Americans. Two of the people fighting to stop the coup in its tracks join me next.

Plus, former Senator Al Franken joins me on the Republican silence as Trump burns everything to the ground on his way out the door. That's something President Barack Obama also spoke about in an exclusive interview with our own Jonathan Capehart, which you can watch tonight on MSNBC.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm more troubled that you are seeing a lot of Republican officials go along with it, not because they actually believe it but because they feel intimidated by it.



REID: When Donald Trump failed to win the election, he threw a temper tantrum of historic proportions and lied incessantly on Twitter about election fraud.

And when that didn't work, he tried to sue his way into the presidency. Well, that isn't working out either, since his legal dream team consists of a deeply diminished Rudy, his meandering hair dye, and a lady who called Trump an idiot in 2016.

So, what we are at -- what we're now seeing is the fallback plan, which is a blatant all-out assault on his opponent's victory. Enter Wayne County, Michigan, which leans Democratic and includes Detroit, a city whose population is 80 percent black, and where a four-member election board is now the center of American politics.

On that board are two Republican members, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, who at first refused and then agreed to certify election results from their county, only to sign affidavits later saying they wanted to rescind their votes to certify, an about-face that occurred, per the AP, after Trump personally called them on Tuesday to express gratitude for their support.

And now Michigan's Republican legislative leaders have been summoned to the White House on Friday to meet with Trump, conveniently, before Michigan's board of state canvassers meets on Monday to certify the statewide totals. '

Joining me now is Jonathan Kinloch, the Democratic vice chair of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, and Ann Jacobs, chair of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Thank you both for being here.

And I want to start with you, Mr. Kinloch.

These two Republicans being summoned to the White House, do you have an understanding of what it is they're being summoned for, what is expected that they're going to do when they get back? And can anything they do overturn the results in Michigan?


It -- when you first -- when individuals here in the state of Michigan first heard that these individuals were invited to the White House, it created an alarm. It created an alarm here because, ever since the election, we have been hit with, and particularly Wayne County and the city of Detroit, have been hit with lawsuits, with Donald Trump trying to overturn the election.

It is unfortunate that he has summoned the legislative leaders to Washington to add them to his list of individuals who are known participants in an attempt to hijack this presidency. It is unfortunately -- unfortunate right now that we have individuals who are willing participants to an effort to throw out lawfully cast ballots in the state of Michigan, but, more specifically, in the city of Detroit and Wayne County.

So, what they're -- I believe he's hoping to do is that these individuals will agree to be a part of a broad conspiracy, a broad attempt to basically allow for the state Board of Canvassers on Monday when they meet not to certify the election results.

But let me just tell you something about Michigan election law. The certification of an election is not a discretionary power, not a discretionary power for the county Board of Canvassers, nor is it for the state Board of Canvassers.

They will and they must certify that election. Michigan election law is very clear on that point.

REID: OK, that is good to know.

And I just want to put up for our viewers so that you realize that Biden won Michigan 50.6 to 47.8. That is a clear victory. That is not in question. I will just read you the statement from these canvassers that said -- these two GOP canvassers in Michigan's Wayne County said in a statement Thursday that they lacked confidence that the election was fair and impartial.

They said there has been a distinct lack of transparency throughout the process. They said there's been no evidence of impropriety or fraud in Michigan, and that is according to election officials, so just want to let people know about that.

And then I want to turn to Wisconsin just for a moment and Ms. Jacobs.

In Wisconsin, there's a whole other thing happening. The Wisconsin Elections Commission issued an order on Thursday to recount more than 800,000 ballots cast in two heavily liberal counties, at Trump's request.

To your knowledge, what might change in the recounting of two Democratic-leaning counties? Do they -- is there some suspicion that those two Democratic-leaning counties are going to magically flip to Trump winning them? Because that would be the only way that he could possibly undo the election result in Wisconsin.

ANN JACOBS, CHAIR, WISCONSIN ELECTIONS COMMISSION: Thank you, Joy. The recount isn't to get votes. It is a pretense. It is a fake attempt at saying that they think they're going to get votes. They know they're not going to get votes.

We had a statewide recount in 2016. And it netted Donald Trump 131 votes out of three million. So, this isn't about the votes. This is, much like what Jonathan just said, an intentional attempt to disenfranchise the voters of the two most populous counties and the two most racially diverse counties in the state of Wisconsin.

They want to throw out those counties' votes almost in their entirety, certainly all the absentee ones. And that's what this is about.

REID: So, they want to throw all the votes out in the counties where the black people live, basically?

JACOBS: They will -- they will keep a few.

But, basically, what they have said is that every absentee ballot, every absentee ballot application was incorrect. I believe, in the city of Milwaukee, which is a majority-minority city, which is where I live, it's over 60,000 ballots they want to throw out because they claim, incorrectly, completely falsely, that there weren't paper applications.

That's wrong. It's fake. But that's what they're trying to do.

REID: And, very quickly, before I go back to Mr. Kinloch, is the law in Wisconsin similar to the law in Michigan, that the elect -- that whoever wins the popular vote in your -- in the state of Wisconsin, their electors shall be seated in the Electoral College? Is that the way the law reads in Wisconsin?

JACOBS: It is. It's just a hair different, which is, I am actually the person who will certify the state-level canvass for the state of Wisconsin. And that is invested in the chair, which is me.

REID: Yes.

JACOBS: And then the certificates of election and the certificates of ascertainment are then issued as a ministerial duty, just like what was explained, in Wayne County, and then those electors will be seated.

REID: Right.

And, Mr. Kinloch, I'm going to give you the final word on this. Do you view this as an attack on black voters, to be blunt, in the state -- in the city of Detroit?

KINLOCH: Oh, without a doubt.

We had a canvass board -- a canvass meeting on Tuesday, and the chair of the county, chair of our Board of Canvassers was willing to entertain or ask whether or not we were willing to consider a certification that did not include the city of Detroit.

I mean, this is basically what has this whole -- all these lawsuits have been about. It's been about bringing disparage about -- among the votes in the city of Detroit. You had the chair, as well as the other Republican member on the Board of Canvassers, participating in challenging of ballots at the Absentee County Board in the city of Detroit.

They weren't out in Livonia. They weren't in Grosse Pointe. They were right there in the city of Detroit challenging ballots, and then brought that insanity into our certification process.

This is all about disenfranchising the black votes in the city of Detroit, and that is unacceptable. And we here in Michigan will not stand for that.

REID: Yes, if you just take the votes in Milwaukee and Detroit out, yes, Trump won both of those. So, just take all the black people out. That's the easiest way for Trump to win.

It's madness.

Jonathan Kinloch, Ann Jacobs, thank you both for being there and standing up for democracy. Thank you both.

And up next, a member of president-elect Biden's COVID task force joins me on the escalating virus catastrophe and the toll that it's taking on America's health care professionals like this one.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The emotional and the physical stress, it's exhausting, absolutely exhausting. I don't know how we are getting through it.

We are, but I don't know how.



REID: As Donald Trump continues to tweet conspiracy theories and lies about an election he lost, he has all but ignored the reality of the deadly pandemic that has taken the lives of more than a quarter-of-a-million Americans.

Just since Election Day, the United States has lost more than 18,000 mothers, fathers sons and daughters. Hospitalizations have jumped nearly 50 percent over the last 14 days. And it's not just the president -- that the president hasn't acknowledged any of this. He hasn't done much of anything. Since Election Day, he has spent more time golfing than holding public events.

Meanwhile, today the White House Coronavirus Task Force held its first briefings since July.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are seeing cases in positivity rising across the country. But we approach this moment with the confidence of experience.

We know the American people know what to do.


REID: I'm joined now by Dr. Celine Gounder, member of the Biden transition COVID Advisory Board, clinical assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at NYU, and the host of the "American Diagnosis" and "Epidemic" podcasts.

And, Dr. Gounder, thank you so much for being here.

What do you make of this time lag in even having a public briefing by the COVID task force?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, BIDEN CORONAVIRUS ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER: Joy, we have lost a tremendous amount of time on every single front, in terms of testing, with an administration that actively discouraged testing, and now with messaging, with providing critical information to the American people, so that they can make smart decisions, informed decisions for themselves and their families to protect them.

I'm really concerned that that message is not getting through right now, especially with the holidays coming up and the risk of transmission during those holidays.

REID: During -- Bloomberg is reporting that Mike Pence, when he was at a meeting on Tuesday with the task force, said that he thinks the media has been crying wolf about COVID. That's the way he characterized the way that we have been talking about the deaths in this virus, saying that we have been crying wolf, leaving Americans less likely to take the latest surge seriously.

What do you make of that?

GOUNDER: I think we all need to get on the same team.

We are one nation. These are all Americans who are dying right now in this country. And those deaths and cases are surging. The growth is exponential. I think it's really scary, frankly. And this is a time for us to care for one another, to heal, and to unite together against this virus.

REID: Have you ever heard -- I mean, since the -- other than the 1917 flu, in your experience, has there been another pandemic that's taken the lives of a quarter-million Americans?

GOUNDER: Not to this scale in such a short period of time, other than the HIV pandemic, but that's a much slower-moving infection.

We have not seen anything like this that has moved so quickly, that has killed so many Americans, that has sickened so many, and that has also had such a dramatic impact on our economy and just how we socialize with one another.

REID: Yes, I think it's an excellent point, particularly about the HIV pandemic. I think, other than those two, and the HIV -- and the 1917 flu, we haven't seen anything like this.

The HHS secretary, Health and Human Services, which has to play a part, in theory, in trying to help us dig our way out of this catastrophe, the department head, the secretary said the department will not work with the team that you're a part of until the federal agency the GSA confirms that Biden won the election.

An administration official told CNN that HHS staffers have been informed that if anyone from Biden's team contacts them, they are not to communicate with them and should instead alert the deputy surgeon general of the communication.

That kind of stonewalling, what does that do to your efforts to try to coordinate a response?

GOUNDER: Yes, the GSA has to move forward with ascertainment for us to be able to have those formal discussions with our counterparts at HHS and throughout the administration.

We're not supposed to back-channel or have informal conversations either. We're being very respectful of those boundaries. So, we are left to formulate our own blueprint plans, operational plans, based on publicly available data.

It would be like making your war plans based on what's reported on television and in the newspapers, which, obviously, you would be missing a lot of critical data with only that information.

REID: Absolutely.

We know that there are now a lot of warnings. You have had the CDC make warnings against people inviting people who are not already living in their homes to do Thanksgiving. You have had governors in states like Florida, where the governor has been completely derelict.

And you have had more than 270 governor -- doctors ask the Arkansas governor to impose more restrictions. People are really warning about Thanksgiving. Are you worried about Thanksgiving being the source of another major outbreak?

GOUNDER: Yes, I am.

And I think most infectious disease doctors, epidemiologists, and others expert in this field are profoundly concerned. We have exponential spread of the virus right now, a huge surge in cases and hospitalizations and deaths.

And then you add on top of that what I think is going to essentially be a super-spreader, family get-togethers in private, while sitting around a table without masks. And that's sort of like pouring fuel on the fire.

And I think, unfortunately, the coronavirus, likes to hitch a ride on our love and our trust for other people. And it's precisely those people who are most likely to infect us and we're most likely to infect.

REID: It is terrifying.

Dr. Celine Gounder, thank you for being out there and doing this work. We really appreciate you, and thanks for spending some time with us tonight.

And still ahead, an astonishing level of moral cowardice from the Republican Party in the face of Trump's attempt to overturn a legitimate election.

And a sneak preview of MSNBC's exclusive interview with former President Barack Obama airing later tonight.

Stay with us.


REID: We have got breaking news.

Moments ago, the Georgia secretary of state announced that the statewide audit was completed and the results confirmed President-elect Joe Biden's victory in Georgia. It's just another piece of evidence highlighting Biden's victory.

But the vast majority of Republican leaders refuse to acknowledge the simple fact. Where is the Grand Old Party that used to preach the values of the Constitution? Where are Senate Republicans as Trump and his conspiracy theorists lawyers take a flame thrower to democracy by openly subverting the will of 80 million voters.

Well, right now, they're gorging themselves on power. Stuffing the Federal Elections Commission, Federal Reserve Board and the courts, with their appointees, before President-elect shows up and turns off the spigot.

Just yesterday, the Senate confirmed 33 year-old Catherine (ph) Mizelle to a lifetime federal judgeship. The former Clarence Thomas clerk was so topnotch, she was rated not qualified by the American Bar Association because of her lack of trial experience.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans are in desperate need of help because of the coronavirus. And, clearly, the GOP thinks they can wait. Let them eat judges.

Joining me now is former Senator Al Franken, host of the Al Franken podcast. And,

Senator, it's always great to talk with you.


REID: So, this is what we're doing. Republicans don't care about democracy. They hate elections, because they don't always win. They are watching Donald Trump burn down the house to get more judges and stack the Federal Reserve board with people, and 33-year-old unqualified judges. Is that the same Republican cohort that you knew?

FRANKEN: Yes. They're a disgrace. The longer they refuse to acknowledge that Joe Biden won fairly, the more Republican base will buy into the fiction that this was rigged, and that under mines democracy, and that causes lasting damage.

That will be with us for a long time. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. It's an absolute disgrace. This is the time when we have the worst -- we have an emergency, a pandemic. People are this is spiking, and people are dying.

And we have a president who refuses to do his job that that he's fighting to get. But has no interest in doing. And we need a government now addressing this crisis.

REID: Yeah. I mean, it's pretty clear that Donald Trump is more interested in keeping himself out of legal liability by remaining president than doing the job of president. I think that's pretty clear, and there's some reporting to back it up.

Let's go through the senators individually. Let's talk about Lindsey Graham. There's a Senate ethics complaint against him for what he's been doing, meddling in the Georgia election. He also did some fundraising from the Senate, which he's not supposed to do. Try to tell Georgia, to just -- a Republican official in Georgia, Republican secretary of state, just throw out the ballots, throw out legal mail in ballots so Trump can win.

FRANKEN: That's Republican secretary of state.

REID: Yeah, yeah. What is Lindsey Graham? I don't understand.

FRANKEN: Well, he's a very cynical politician. That's what he is first and foremost. And he will tell you that, if you're serving with him in the Senate. We know that.

Look, he -- the Republicans secretary of state of Georgia said that Lindsey called him and ask to basically get rid of some legal votes. And then Lindsey denied that. And that, unfortunately, there was another person on the phone, who's a witness to that.

Lindsey said in the interview where he denied it, he -- oh, I talked to a lot of secretaries of state that night, you know, secretary of state of Arizona, and secretary of state of Arizona said, no, he didn't talk to me. You know, if this were like a murder, he would be in a lot of trouble.

And, yes, it's an ethic investigation and should be. And he is lying, which, you know, he's get due process. But this is really serious. This is --


REID: There's also ethics investigations -- there's also some accusations of ethics violations of two sitting senators, Kelly Loeffler for violating ethics rules with making fundraising pitches to try to get her a seat. She's not won -- the first she wants to get elected for the first time, with David Perdue --

FRANKEN: She did that in the Russell Rotunda.


REID: Yeah. Exactly.

She also of course sold stock at a beneficial time for her after she got the briefings about COVID. David Perdue helped the defense contractor and sold off stock at a beneficial time for him. When they both found out how bad COVID was. This is who these Republicans are fighting dog in, dog out to get into the Senate.

At this point, do we actually have two political parties? Or do you agree with David Frum that we have one political party and sort of a mafia on the other side that just wants to try to get minority rule for completely unethical people?

FRANKEN: I split the difference. We have two political parties. One is kind of a mafia (ph). And this is -- look, it's crazy senators have stocks in any stocks -- you know, they should have mutual funds, or exchange traded funds. That's what I had.

I mean, that's what you should have, man. Yeah, what Perdue did was vote on something and immediately sell a stock in the defense contractor he helped. And Loeffler was awful. She sold she had privy information to a crisis, and sold, you know, the COVID crisis and sold stock, sold hotel stock.

REID: Let me talk about a guy that you -- that you might remember from New York, and that would be Rudy Giuliani. I was never a fan. He wasn't particularly nice to black people when he was mayor of New York, so I was never a big fan of his. But there were a lot of people who were and thought he did a great job just actually speaking after 9/11 like a normal mayor.

But he's now become a weird, tragic figure. What do you think is going on there? There he is with hair dye running down his cheeks. What do you think is going on with this guy?

FRANKEN: You know, as you pointed out, Atticus Finch had his hair dye roll down in the film "Mockingbird". So it it's not necessarily a sign that you're sleeping.

I don't know. This guy has some problems and has for quite a while. Can you imagine that's your guy, that's your go-to election lawyer?

OK, James Baker, Rudy Giuliani -- it's pretty amazing. And the stuff he was saying today was so crazy and, look, this is so damaging because of Republican base is going to buy into this more and more, the longer this goes on, and that's a tragedy.

It's especially a tragedy now. Look, I was watching CNN --

REID: Yeah.

FRANKEN: -- I'm sorry -- and a nurse in an interview said that she has patients, a South Dakota nurse, who has patients who are dying from COVID --

REID: Yeah, they don't believe it.

FRANKEN: -- who don't believe it, they're denying they're dying of COVID. And this is because Donald Trump refused to believe.

REID: Yeah, no, I totally agree. We forgive you for watching CNN on occasion. Do you it once in a while, but you have to keep coming back to us.

Former Senator Al Franken, we love having you. Thank you very much. Appreciate you.

And MSNBC's exclusive interview with Barack Obama is next. Don't go anywhere.


REID: My pal Jonathan Capehart sat down with President Barack Obama today to discuss his new book "A Promised Land."

That exclusive interviews airs tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on MSNBC. Here's a sneak peek.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Joe Biden is right to say that we should all make an effort to do our best to lower the temperature and listen to the other side, but, I think when you have a current president who -- whose entire style is to fan division, it's hard when he's on the stage. In some ways, you know, I think it will be useful for us to just get back to the normal arguments between Democrats and Republicans.


REID: Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for "The Washington Post," joins me now. Hello, friend. I first want to congratulate you on this interview, hey, let get into this. That was such an Obama answer, lower the temperature, listen to the other guy. But having lived through a version of Trumpism for eight years as president, did you get the sense you really think that's something Joe Biden is going to be able to do?

You've already got Donald Trump attempting to undermine the legitimacy of his presidency before he even takes the oath. Same thing they did to Obama.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right, exactly. I think he's hopeful. President Obama is always hopeful. But you thing -- you didn't show it there but the clip has been shown in other places, and I think you might have showed it at the beginning of the show where he's talking about his worry is not Donald Trump but it's the Republicans who are there, the Republicans who are buying into what President Trump is doing in terms of undermining the elections and trying to overturn the elections in Michigan.

And if you take that and you couple it with what he was just saying there in response to a whole other question, you get the sense that it's sort of like Godspeed, Joe Biden, because it's going to be tough. I mean, he had it tough because they were going up against him with the birther stuff but just going up against him on policy.

What Republicans are doing now, they're not going up against Joe Biden, they're tearing down the country. They are tearing down the country. They are tearing down the American people, and they are tearing down American democracy all at the same time.

REID: Yeah. Jelani Cobb earlier in the show described it as a kind of birtherism against all black voters and against the birth of this new presidency. It's like they just expanded it on.

I'm very curious to see what President Obama had to say about the death toll, this quarter million dead. I have to imagine anyone who's been president and responsible for lives as commander in chief of the military and having to have those deaths happen when you have military actions, et cetera, I can't imagine what he thinks about this death and this death toll.

CAPEHART: Well, no, we did not talk specifically about the pandemic. We did not talk specifically about the death toll. But you know it weighs on him.

My first -- in my first question to him, I was just asking how Mrs. Obama and Malia and Sasha are, and they are at home, all of them at home, because of young women are home remote learning. And the discussions about adjusting to each other but also how -- the way they have it is easy compared to the rest of the country and people living with the pandemic.

REID: Yes, indeed, indeed.

Jonathan Capehart, proud of you! Thank you for sharing some with us.

CAPEHART: Thank you.

REID: We will bring you back another time. Jonathan's exclusive interviews -- cheers -- Jonathan's exclusive interview with President Barack Obama airs tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, immediately after "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW," yes, Rachel is back, here on MSNBC. We're excited.



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