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Transcript: The ReidOut, November 25, 2020

Guests: Michael Harriot, Ted Lieu, Twyla Baker, Melba Wilson


Trump calls in to bogus voter fraud hearing. Trump pardons former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. GOP Sen. Graham praises Flynn pardon. Trump is reportedly considering pardon blitz in final weeks. Amid the exploding coronavirus surge, Native Americans face disproportionately higher rates of infection due to social inequities and high rates of pre-existing conditions. Industry experts say that up to 85 percent of all independent restaurants might wind up closing permanently as a result of this pandemic.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: When it comes to the Trump presidency, never let the clown show distract you from what they're actually doing. That clown show was on full display today with Trump calling into a bogus voter fraud hearing, starring the one and only Rudy Giuliani. While President-elect Joe Biden was actually doing something presidential, addressing the nation ahead of what will be a very tough Thanksgiving amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But then Trump took an action that has an actual legal impact, unlike his vain and embarrassing attempts to overturn the presidential election. He pardoned convicted criminal Michael Flynn and announced it on Twitter.

Now, in case you've forgotten in the blizzard of corruption and criminality that we've been marinating in over the past four years with Trump as president, Flynn not only pleaded guilty twice to lying to the FBI about inappropriate U.S. foreign policy-defying conversations that he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Trump was officially president, Trump literally said so in a 2017 tweet. There's always a tweet.

And Trump hired Flynn in the first place as his National Security Adviser after President Obama warned him not to. The Obama Administration had fired Flynn from his role as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 due to mismanagement and temperament issues. And Flynn had to resign less than four weeks into his new job after it was revealed that he lied again to Vice President Mike Pence about those conversations that he had with the Russian ambassador. Now, Flynn denied that he had done so to Pence, who repeated Flynn's denial publicly.

William Barr's Justice Department sought to withdraw charges against Flynn, arguing that there was no basis for the interview in which he lied, which caused the initial prosecutor on the case to withdraw. His case has been tied up in federal court since then after U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan refused to grant the DOJ's request in the September. Trump's decision to pardon Flynn, of course, effectively resolves that matter.

Joining me now, is Congressman Ted Lieu of California, Charlie Sykes, Editor-at-Large of the Bulwark and former Federal Prosecutor Glenn Kirschner.

And, Glenn, I'm going right to you on this. Donald Trump tweeted himself why he fired Michael Flynn. Michael Flynn is obviously a loyalist, but this feels, I think, to a lot of people like the start, that this is the phase in the Trump movie where he just starts pardoning all the criminals around him. Is that what you see here?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think this is probably the first, at least the first recent pardon in what will become a long line of corrupt pardons. And I think the real challenge will be for the incoming Biden administration when President-elect Biden is sworn in and appoints a law-abiding attorney general, that person will have to decide whether to challenge some of these corrupt pardons.

Because just as Donald Trump corruptly commuted a sentence of his basically co-conspirator, Roger Stone, virtually on the day or a couple of days before Roger Stone was to report to prison to begin serving a 40-month sentence, I maintain that was a corrupt pardon or a corrupt commutation. This is similarly a corrupt pardon of somebody who was cooperating with the Mueller probe, presumably providing information against Donald Trump, pled guilty not once but twice in court, and all that was left was for him to be sentenced.

I think the incoming attorney general will have his or her hands full with respect to challenging these corrupt pardons.

REID: You know, and, Congressman Lieu, you've got The Wall Street Journal going sort of deeper into some of the other things that he did. I mean, this is not just the guy we remember just chanting, lock her up, at the 2016 Republican national convention, which is what probably people know him for, this is a guy, Michael Flynn, who allegedly planned to forcibly kidnap a Muslim cleric who's living in the United States and deliver him to Turkey under the alleged proposal Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., were to be paid as much as $15 million to delivering Fethullah Gulen to the Turkish government, basically renditioning him for cash. That is the character of the man that Donald Trump has fired. Yet you have Lindsey Graham, still Lindsey Grahaming, calling it a great use of the pardon, A-okay, great job, Donald.

I wonder what you make of this. And whether, I mean I can still recall after remember when Bill Clinton did a pardon for which Republicans would love to see him clacked in leg irons at the end of his presidency. What do you make of this?

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Thank you, Joy, for your question. As a former prosecutor, I find it very distressing to see Donald Trump's repeated attacks on the rule of law. And this is yet another example of the outrage out behavior of Donald Trump, and that's why the voters fired him, because he repeatedly put himself and his friends above the law. And in this case, Michael Flynn committed a felony and no ordinary American would have gotten this pardon but for the fact that they were friends with the president.

And for conservatives to cheer this on, they should understand the precedent this is setting that would mean in future administrations, whether Democratic or Republican, a measure of officials can lie in law enforcement investigations and then get a pardon from the president. That is very distressing to our system of checks and balances.

REID: You know, and there was a time, Charlie, when it would have been distressing to conservative Republicans the idea that a national security adviser would -- to be would be having secret conversations with our adversary, Russia, to tell them, don't worry, you won't have to worry about sanctions when our guys get in. We'll -- you know, we'll take care of you and undermine U.S. foreign policy in addition to trying to rendition people and committing those sort of open acts of corruption.

What you're seeing here, I guess, from Lindsey Graham, and I'm sure Marco Rubio, since, you know, he's busy -- when he's not, like, being mad that Ivy League people are getting jobs, will all cheer it because they don't think that there should have ever been a Russia probe. So maybe that's the through line here or is there something I'm missing?

CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No, I mean, look, there's so much to talk about here. The president himself fired him after being warned not to hire him by President Obama. Michael Flynn is not an innocent man. He pled guilty twice. He is a convicted felon. He will not be able to plead the fifth moment if there are criminal investigations going forward. Even Richard Nixon knew better than to pardon his co-conspirators.

So this is part of the ongoing pattern that we've seen from the administration, it's also, I think, part of the ongoing pattern of the obstruction of justice.

I do have to push back a little bit. I do not think that the Biden Administration is going to challenge these pardons. The president's pardon power is sweeping. I think that you've seen the extent to which -- the extent to which Donald Trump has been willing to abuse this. But going forward, I think, once again, we need to put on the table is this president above the law? Did he, in fact, obstruct justice? Is that pattern continuing?

And I think for the folks who are thinking, okay, let's turn the page, let's move on, he could not be charged criminally because he was the sitting president, and since he's no longer in office, let's let bygones be bygones, that would literally say that Donald Trump has gotten away with his obstruction of justice and that he is above the law.

And I completely agree though, this is the beginning of what is going to be a series of pardons, including Paul Manafort and others, you know, perhaps -- perhaps Gates. But I think this needs to put on the table, are we going to let Donald Trump continue the pattern that was documented in great detail in the Mueller report?

REID: Well, and, Glenn, I think that's the problem, right? I mean we've established, I think, pretty plainly that presidents can openly break the law, they can defy the Hatch Act, they can pretty much do whatever they want if they're willing to do it because they're all just suggestions in the Constitution, they're not laws.

You've got a whole gang of bad guys here, as -- as you just heard Charlie mention, from Steve Bannon to Paul Manafort to Rick Gates who have been on T.V., he was on Ari Melber's show begging for a pardon openly. Michael Cohen whose ain't going get one because he wrote a book and told the truth about Trump, Roger Stone who has already been commuted.

I mean, the kinds of things that these people have been up to, that they've done, the ways in which they've undermined American foreign policy and the fact that they could do all of that and walk away, that's much worse than what happened with Nixon.

So, I wonder, what do we do? What was the point of having any laws at all if anybody around the president can just break them all and then they walk away with a pardon?

KIRSCHNER: Yes, and it doesn't seem right, Joy, that the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice says you cannot charge a sitting criminal president and then -- I'm with Charlie -- if after Donald Trump and his criminal associates are out of power, if we decide to let bygones be bygones, turn the other cheek, put the long national nightmare behind us, what have we just railed against Bill Barr for doing for the past few years? Shielding, corruptly shielding Donald Trump and his criminal associates from accountability.

If the next administration decides, declines to go after them for the crimes they committed while Donald Trump is in office, then guess what, we are no better than the Bill Barrs of the world.

REID: But that's the point. And I think, Congressman Lieu, I think they're not throw it to you just as a member of Congress, is there any place left for the American people to go if, in fact, all of these people walk away scot free with pardons, is there anything left for us to do legislatively? Is there some remedy against them being able to commit more -- I mean, they've basically been free to just commit crimes at will, I guess, just because they're friends of Trump.

LIEU: The more outrageous acts that Donald Trump engages in, the harder it will be to let bygones be bygones. My view is we should follow the facts wherever it may lead, and one of the problems that we discovered last four years is that congressional subpoenas are relatively meaningless because we can't enforce them.

Right now, we're still trying to get Don McGahn to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. We're litigating that subpoena. It's going to take years. So I think we need to pass inherent contempt legislation in the House, which will change the house rules and allow us to fine witnesses who disobey congressional subpoenas and then we can hold hearings. Because as Charlie noted, Michael Flynn loses his fifth moment rights and he now has to testify about what he knows about Donald Trump and Russia.

REID: Good point. Right, he can't plead the fifth anymore. I mean and I just wonder too, Charlie, if, you know, not letting bygones be bygones thing, you know, I think that we need, and Glenn has talked about this, that we need some sort of truth and reconciliation committee. We need to out all that has happened in the last four years because I don't see what should stop -- why shouldn't the Biden team, when they get, you know, a subpoena from Lindsey Graham and his Judiciary Committee in the Senate just say, sod off, we're not doing it, we're not showing up. Why shouldn't the Biden administration follow in kind? That's what the Republicans have set up. They'll howl when Biden folks do it. But why shouldn't do it? Why should they list to anything that Congress says?

SYKES: Well, I'm sympathetic to the folks who will argue that this would be a distraction for Joel Biden. It would be Joe Biden wants to -- really wants to be more of a healer than a divider. But we really have to decide when whether or not we are a nation of laws right now. I mean, think about what we saw today.

You have the president of the United States basically participate in this stunt on the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg, trying to undermine a democratic election, talking about overturning an election. This is a president who is talking about spending the next four years or the rest of his life attacking the integrity of our democracy and maybe even running for re-election in 2024. So I think we need to keep those things in mind.

Does -- is the president above the law when he's in office? Are we going to continue to allow him to be above the law? And will he use this law and this attack on the rule of law to mount a comeback? So this is not going away.

And, again, we have, what, about two months where the president has saved, I think, the worst for last. He is who he is. He is going to continue to do this. And he's going basically be daring the rest of the country to, well, what are you going to do about it? He thinks he's gotten away with it.

REID: Exactly.

SYKES: He thinks he's going to get away with this.

REID: Because he has. And you lined us up exactly where we want to go next after the break.

And now to the point that you just made, Charlie, I want to read you the tweet from former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge on those whole Gettysburg fiasco today saying, history will record the shameful irony that a president who lied to avoid military service staged a bogus event on the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg in a brazen attempt to undermine the republic for which scores of real patriots had fought and died to preserve since its founding.

And how ironic, too, that the president who sided with the confederacy, and still does, and thinks that they should have won the war had the nerve to go to Gettysburg, where they were laid low, Robert E. Lee lost bigly, as Trump might say. My guests are staying with me.

And up next, what is all this leading to? As we just teed up for you, will Trump save his final pardon for himself?

Plus, Republicans are targeting Raphael Warnock's faith in the Georgia Senate runoffs, which, as president Barack Obama makes clear, are crucial for Democrats.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: If the Republicans win those two seats, then Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will not be able to get any law passed that Mitch McConnell and the Republicans aren't willing to go along with.


REID (voice over): Also, how COVID is ravaging Native American communities, especially in the Dakotas, where the virus is out of control.

Back with more of THE REIDOUT after this.


REID: Donald Trump's get-out-of-jail free card for Michael Flynn might just be warm-up act. According to The New York Times, the pardon is a signal Trump is considering a wave of pardons and commutations in his final weeks in office. Flynn was one of seven close Trump associates to be indicted, plead guilty or be convicted of a crime during his presidency, along with Trump's former Attorney Michael Cohen, his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, his 2016 campaign manager -- campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Manafort's deputy, Rick Gates, plus former campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos. Trump has already commuted the sentence of Roger Stone convicted last fall of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tamper.

Oh, but there is also the question of whether Trump might just pardon himself. NBC News notes come January 20, 2021, as soon as he becomes a private citizen, he will be stripped of the legal armor that has protected him from a host of pending court cases, both criminal and civil.

Still with me, Congressman Ted Lieu of California, Charlie Sykes and Glenn Kirschner, and let's talk about this.

Let's dig right into this. I think I'll start with you, Congressman, first. You have Rick Gates -- I mean, I'm sorry, you have Andrew Weissmann, who was one of the people who was involved in the Mueller investigation. And he says: "We amassed ample evidence to support a charge that Trump obstructed justice." And this is obstructing the investigation.

"The Manhattan district attorney is, by all appearances, conducting a classic white-collar investigation into tax and bank fraud. And the New York attorney general is engaged in a civil investigation into similar allegations, which could quickly turn into a criminal inquiry."

And I want to note that, according to a 1974 Department of Justice memo that came one year after the same -- after the Department of Justice memo that says you can't indict a sitting president -- that happened in 1973 -- the 1974 memo says that a president can't pardon himself, so that he cannot pardon himself, because, I think, if he could have done it, Nixon would have done it.

So, I will start with you, Congressman Lieu, and then go to Glenn on the same question. Can Trump try it anyway? And, if he tries it, will he get away with it?

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that no one is above the law, including the president.

I believe that Donald Trump cannot self-pardon himself. That doesn't mean he may not try it. He's done a lot of crazy things. So, he might try that. But I don't believe that the federal courts would recognize it.

In addition, the pardon wouldn't apply to any state crimes. So, if Donald Trump, for example, committed state tax fraud or other state crimes, he can still be prosecuted for those issues.

REID: And to make it a little bit broader for you, Glenn, do you believe that, A, Trump could get away with pardoning himself? B, do you think he should be prosecuted?

And just to make it real complex for you, if prosecuted for federal crimes, isn't it true, then, as I think the congressman said before the break, people like Michael Flynn and anybody he pardons would have to testify?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. Once you have been pardoned, your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination is extinguished. And you can be compelled to testify about anything, including something that otherwise might incriminate you.

So, yes, the Michael Flynns of the world could be forced to the witness stand, just like they forced Bannon to the witness stand in the Roger Stone case.

I agree with the congressman that it's unlawful for a president to pardon himself. However, Joy, I predict he will instruct somebody to type up a pardon that says: "I, Donald Trump, hereby pardons Donald Trump."

And that proves the point that we have to be prepared to fight corrupt pardons, just like I maintain, it was a corrupt sentence commutation that he doled out to Roger Stone, because Roger Stone was a co-conspirator. So, the very act of delivering that sentence commutation was a criminal act, in furtherance of a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

So, I maintain -- and I know Charlie and I might part ways a little bit -- these matters will have to be addressed by the incoming attorney general, because corruptly pardon -- corrupt pardons cannot be permitted to stand unchallenged.

REID: Well, and, also, Andrew Weissmann was making the point earlier on Nicolle show's, Charlie, that, if Donald Trump is allowed to get away with obstructing an independent prosecutor's investigation, then we have essentially obliterator the independent prosecutor's existence. We could never have one again, because then it would be perfectly legal and permissible for a president to simply obstruct him.

There would be no point in ever having a special prosecutor again. So, doesn't there have to be prosecution simply on that obstruction? Because that can't stand. Otherwise, every president is free to break the law.

And on crimes, because if Trump then runs for president again, having gotten away with literal crimes, we have no functional democracy.

CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE BULWARK: No, No, I agree with Andrew Weissmann completely. I find it very, very persuasive.

Look, I mean, the question is whether or not the president is above the law. This question of the self-pardon is fascinating, because it's going to be very, very tempting to Donald Trump because he knows that he faces a world of legal hurt at both the federal and the state level.

But I want you to think about this for a moment. I think that it is unlawful. I think it's unconstitutional, but it will also be seen by the American people as an abuse of power and an admission of guilt.

When you accept a pardon, there is the imputation of guilt. So, if Donald Trump is sitting there on his final day in office, he's got to decide, does he really want to run in 2024? Because if he does want to run for reelection in 2024, self-pardon would be a political disaster.

I think that there would be a huge political backlash against it. And it doesn't really solve his legal problems, as Congressman Lieu mentioned, because it would not affect the state prosecutions. In fact, I think it would ramp up the pressure on states, state attorney generals and district attorneys, to continue the investigations into Donald Trump.

But it would be the ultimate Trumpian moment of arrogance, narcissism, self-dealing, of putting himself above the law for him to do it, which is why it is completely conceivable that that will happen.


REID: Right.

Very quickly, I want to play back to back -- this is Joe Biden today and Donald Trump today, because I would argue that he could -- that even if it makes him look like a criminal, 70 million people would still vote for him, because this is how he sounds now. And they were like, he seems like a great person to lead us as president.

Here is Biden first and then Trump, both today.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We fought nearly a year-long battle with a virus that has devastated this nation. It's divided us, angered us, set us against one another.

I know the country's grown weary of the fight. But we need to remember, we're at war with the virus, not with one another, not with each other. This is the moment where we need to steel our spines, redouble our efforts, and recommit ourselves to the fight. I know we can and we will beat this virus. America's not going to lose this war.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This election was rigged, and we can't let that happen. We can't let it happen for our country. And this election has to be turned around.



REID: I'm sorry, Charlie, that's the clown show from today. And 70 million or so people are like, yes. Yes, that guy seems presidential.

Of course he could -- he could run again from Sing Sing, and there are tens of millions of people who would still vote for him in the Republican Party, right?

SYKES: Well, I mean, keep in mind...

REID: And Lindsey Graham would be like, yes, run from Sing Sing.


SYKES: Well, Lindsey Graham would, and there would be some people who would.

But, remember, 80 million people came out and voted to fire Donald Trump. You have millions of people who voted for other Republicans and said, yes, but you're the bridge too far. I thought today was -- we have seen this before, but the contrast was so dramatic.

You know, you see a president acting like a president. And I mean Joe Biden here, trying to lead the nation, trying to heal the nation. It's almost startling to see a president behaving in a normal and decent way. And I think...

REID: Yes.

SYKES: ... it's refreshing.

And, at the same time, then, of course, you see the clown show. You see the bizarre, crazy conspiracy theory, this -- this weird embrace of nuttiness by the president of the United States.

And, look, the election is over.

REID: And he would...

SYKES: Millions of people thought it was OK, but I can't imagine they don't see the contrast.

REID: I know.

I promise you, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, all of them, Ben Sasse, they'd all be out there cheering. He could be literally locked up and running from Supermax, and they'd still be like, that's our guy.

Congressman Ted Lieu -- that's just me saying that, not you guys.

Congressman Ted Lieu, Charlie Sykes, Glenn Kirschner, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

And tune in Saturday night, as Glenn recounts a stranger-than-fiction legal odyssey from when he was an assistant U.S. attorney. Watch "Capital Crimes" Saturday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC. Definitely going to watch that.

Still ahead: In that crucial Georgia Senate run-off, Republicans are zeroing in on Raphael Warnock, but Warnock is firing back.

Stay with us.


REID: Former President Barack Obama sat down with "The Breakfast Chub" for a wide-ranging interview and shared why he believes 73 million Americans voted to reelect Donald Trump, despite his utter failures as president.

Turns out, it was about their feelings.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's always interesting to me is the degree to which we have created -- you have seen created in Republican politics this sense that white males are victims, like, they're the ones who are, like, under attack, which obviously doesn't jibe with both history and data and economics.

But that's a sincere belief. That's been internalized. That's a story that's being told. And then how you unwind that is going to be not something that's done right away. It's going to take some time.


REID: Joining me now is one of my favorite writers and Twitter follows, Michael Harriot of The Root, who everybody should be following.

Michael, thank you so much for being here.

And I will note people on the right went just crazy over President Obama saying that.

But I want to just put up for you -- I don't know if you can see this, but this is a July 2020 -- a July of this year article in which Donald Trump does a pair of interviews and highlights white victimhood.

Asked about police killings of black Americans, Trump replies: "What about whites?"

So, Trump himself says that his movement is about white people being the real victims, and then Barack Obama says it, and people lose their minds.

Your thoughts?

MICHAEL HARRIOT, THE ROOT: Right. We see this throughout history.

We saw it with Reconstruction. The violence during Reconstruction was because of white people's fear of some kind of black backlash. And we saw it during the founding of America. That's why the Second Amendment exists, because they were afraid of an uprising of enslaved people in the South.

And so the South, Southern states, Virginia mainly, forced them to include the Second Amendment in the Constitution. We saw it -- look, David Dinkins just passed. We saw, after the election of David Dinkins, they elected who? Rudy Giuliani, because white people were afraid of this moderate black man who didn't do anything to them.

So, we see -- I mean, there are numerous historical examples of this. So, it's -- Barack Obama saying it was just reinforcing all the examples that we have already seen.

REID: I mean, the Stephen Miller crowd, just -- they did an entire memo that went throughout the federal government saying, you can't say intersectionality, because that makes people feel sad.

Like, these people are projecting fragility and then being like, don't call us fragile.

The other thing, apparently, President Obama can't say anything obvious, because it just makes people go crazy. I want to play you one other sound bite. And this is when he talked about the differences between various groups of Latino voters.

Here is the president.


OBAMA: People were surprised about a lot of Hispanic folks who voted for Trump.

But there are a lot of evangelical Hispanics, who -- the fact that Trump says racist things about Mexicans or puts detainees, undocumented workers in cages, they think that's less important than the fact that he supports their views on gay marriage or abortion.



So, that's the other one people went absolutely crazy on Twitter. But one of our great contributors to NBC who is Latino wrote in September: "Opposition to abortion rights and gay rights can be a deal-breaker for many Latinos who come from countries where abortions and gay marriages are illegal."

You have got evangelical black folk who only vote about abortion. That's their main issue, just like white evangelicals.

Why do you think that these same truths that are just obvious and fact-based drive people so nuts when President Obama is the one to say them?

HARRIOT: We -- both you and I know why. Because it's a black dude saying it, right?


HARRIOT: But he's saying things that there is empirical evidence for.

It's not like he's, like, bringing something out of the sky and spontaneously manifesting these thoughts. This -- these are documented thoughts with evidence and proof and research.

You know, we know that -- first of all, we have to realize that most of the Latinos who vote are -- well, all of the Latinos who vote are legal citizens. And so Trump can get them to vilify what he calls illegal immigrants or undocumented immigrants, the same way he does to white people.

And we also know, with the history of America, the way to become white is to assimilate into the oppression of the people who white supremacy has forced to hold down for every year since this country was founded.

REID: Yes.

And my last question to you, I'm just going to ask people to play it as -- ask my producers to just play it as V.O., so I can just ask you the question.

The other black man who seems to really drive people on the right crazy is Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where all Republicans line up at King Day because they want to be seen there.

The fact that he gave a sermon in which he talked about no man can serve two masters, you either serve God or you serve the military, you either serve God or you serve man, that's, like, a thing that is said in the black church said all the time, that -- this is one of the greatest ads ever.

And they're going -- people are going crazy. Dr. King wrote a sermon saying, America might go to hell, and I don't think that people remember that. They like to remember him as a postcard.

What do you make of this -- these attacks on Reverend Warnock's faith?

HARRIOT: Well, aside from being a thing that is said in a black church, it's also a thing that is said in the Bible by Jesus Christ.


HARRIOT: So, this isn't -- it isn't a thing that, again, Raphael Warnock made up. It is a thing that is in the Bible.

So, you got to take that up with Jesus. Don't at him. At Jesus.

But it's interesting to be that -- this whole Raphael Warnock thing, because we know that the reason that Georgia turned into a blue state was because a lot of voters were tired of them vilifying and playing the race card, right, white people playing the race card...

REID: Right.

HARRIOT: ... and amplifying white supremacy's messages, right?

And so I think that, by Loeffler and Perdue just continuing to amplify that same message, they might end up turning more black people and more...

REID: There you go.

HARRIOT: ... Democratic voters out than they intended, because they're doing the thing that turned the black voters out...

REID: Exactly.

HARRIOT: ... which is a dumb idea.

REID: Exactly.

Every church usher in Atlanta is going to be voting. They just -- they have ensured it, every church usher. And that's who votes.

Michael Harriot, always great to talk to you. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Thank you, my friend. Appreciate you.

HARRIOT: Yes, I'm going to. Thank you.

REID: And a reminder to all of our friends in Georgia.


You have until December 7 to register to vote for the January 5 Senate run-off. Every -- early voting starts on December 14. You can go online and request your mail-in ballot right now. Do it during the commercial break.

Up next: Native American tribes have been hit especially hard by this pandemic.

A member of a tribal COVID task force battling the virus in North Dakota joins me next.


REID: From 1620 to 2020, the indigenous people of America have been marginalized and neglected. And on this day before Thanksgiving, as we reflect on the devastation and dispossession these communities faced from the start due to the awful combination of guns and germs, sadly things are no different.

Amid the exploding coronavirus surge, Native Americans face disproportionately higher rates of infection due to social inequities and high rates of pre-existing conditions. The full impact isn't even clear due to failures to properly represent indigenous communities in our data.

But let's take, for example, North Dakota, home to five federally recognized tribes. There have been roughly 80,000 cases statewide. Nearly 657 COVID cases have been recorded among the three affiliated tribes located in the Indian reservation in Central North Dakota.

Last week, the state reported the highest COVID mortality rate in the entire world. Nearly two weeks ago, the governor of the state, Doug Burgum, begrudgingly issued a statewide mask mandate.

In neighboring South Dakota, the Republican Governor Kristi Noem has avoided enforcing any mitigating measures, even challenging tribal leaders who have sought to enforce their own measures to protect themselves.

Joining me now is Twyla Baker, president of Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish Tribal College, and former member of the COVID task force for three affiliated tribes in North Dakota.

And thank you so much for being here. I'm really excited to be able to talk with you, Twyla, and I want to start about talking about the toll that COVID has taken on these communities. Just walk us through what's been going on.

TWYLA BAKER, PRESIDENT, NUETA HIDATSA SAHNISH TRIBAL COLLEGE: Well, I think as far as Indian country goes, the impact has been colossal and incredibly damaging. Part of the reason for that is the fact that we are small, tight-knit communities and a lot of that impact in terms of presence of the disease, people getting the virus, people dying of the virus.

These aren't just numbers for us. These are our family members. They are our elders. They are people that are the fabric of our communities.

And for us, it represents I guess a bigger threat to even our life ways, our cultural life ways because every elder that passes is part of the body of language that leaves us, part of our cultural life ways that leave us, songs, everything that makes us goes with them.

So there's a lot more at stake for us than there might be for other populations.

REID: You know, and on this Thanksgiving holiday, it's always a difficult holiday I think for a lot of us to really contemplate because a lot of it is about a lie that's told about indigenous people that they sort of welcomed the colonists with open arms and basically gave away this country when, in fact, millions and millions of indigenous people were killed by guns but also by germs.


REID: So, I wonder what has been the impact of the resistance to masks that has grown up among conservative communities and sometimes violent resistance to it. Has that sneaked over and caused infection to cross over from these, you know, European-American communities into Indian country?

BAKER: It has. And it's funny that you talk about, like, the virus and the disease presence because my particular tribe has been -- one of those tribes that was absolutely decimated when colonizers first arrived. Smallpox unduly impacted the Mandan people, 90 percent, 90 percent of my tribe of the Mandan people were killed in that -- in that -- basically it was, like, an apocalyptic event for us. We still tell stories about that impact.

And we've used those stories in our response and talking about the resilience that our people had, and encouraging people to use masks and to follow the science, quite honestly. Our tribe actually enacted a mask mandate prior to the state of North Dakota doing one. And I know at the -- at the state level, the mask mandate did not come until after the election.

So, it's been incredibly politicized and it's really kind of disheartening see that happen when you know that so many people are dying. So many people are sick. Our hospitals are over -- overfull. They're to overflowing. And it's just really difficult to watch all of that happen.

REID: You talked about the belated mask mandate. We know that the South Dakota governor, Kristi Noem, has been a horror, but let's talk about North Dakota a little bit.

You have 31,000-plus indigenous citizens living in your state, about 5 percent of the population. 60 percent live on reservations, which is basically what's left from the stolen land. Forty percent are under age 20.

So is it more the concentration of the population or is it more the neglect of the governor or the government?

BAKER: I think it's a combination of both of those factors, actually, Joy. Because like you said, a larger portion of our population actually lives off the reservation. However, they come back to the reservation for any number of reasons. They could be visiting family members or caring for loved ones, they could be taking care of business or whatever happens to be happening, so they're back and forth from the reservation.

And we've also got plenty of presence of non-native people here, particularly because we have the oil industry very, very present here. So, there's a back and forth there. I know that the tribe has enacted a mask mandate, but it's really difficult to try to mitigate when you have a bunch of in your jurisdiction to, you know, to control or to try to mitigate those factors.

So, it's a number of things that are at play right now. I know with South Dakota, the resistance is a little more overt. Here it seemed to be more passive/aggressive.

REID: Yeah.

BAKER: It wasn't as in your face.

REID: Well, I can say your governor giving away money that came from the CARES Act to fracking company. So, it's passive/aggressive, but it's still aggressive.

BAKER: Yeah, absolutely.

REID: Twyla Baker, welcome back anytime.

Thank you so much and wishing you a very safe and happy long weekend. Cheers. Thank you very much.

BAKER: Thank you.

REID: And still ahead, industry -- thank you. Industry experts say that up to 85 percent of all independent restaurants might wind up closing permanently as a result of this pandemic. We'll talk to the owner of one very famous New York City restaurant and one of my favorites, about the challenges ahead, next.


REID: As we enter the holiday season in the middle of a pandemic, from Washington state to Washington, D.C., cases are surging, but so is COVID fatigue. On the eve of Thanksgiving, we're making another plea to our viewers to please stay home, stay home. According to the National Restaurant Association, the industry has already lost $120 billion with a B, dollars, and could lose as much $240 billion by year's end.


IRMA GONZALEZ, RESTAURANT OWNER: It's trained to stay in business and try to keep going, because it's hard. Even if you're closed, you're going to lose the business for the day, but you might also lose customers.

MICHAEL SWIFT, RESTAURANT OWNER: I would love government help. It's scary that no one's doing anything right now, you know, so just got to keep doing what you can do. You can't really depend on other people to do things for you. You got to do what you can do.


REID: Businesses reported that by the end of December, as many as 85 percent of independent restaurants could close permanently.

For more, I'm joined now by friend, Melba Wilson, owner of Melba's restaurant in Harlem, and president of the New York City Hospitality Alliance.

But, hey, Melba, I want to jump right in. There is something the federal government could do. It's called the Restaurants Act. It's sitting there waiting to be passed. Can you tell us what that is and how it would help restaurants like yours?

MELBA WILSON, OWNER, MELBA'S IN HARLEM: Sure. The Restaurant Act is a $120 billion revitalization fund. That would give us the injection that we need that would help us pay rent, keep our employees working, help us pay all our other bills.

And this is what we need. It's sitting there waiting, ready to be signed. We're very, very disappointed, because we were hoping that this would have been done before Thanksgiving, but now that the -- you know, now the Senate and the Republicans are develop, we already know that this is not going to be done. Thanksgiving is tomorrow.

And we are worried that anywhere between 75 to 80 percent of our businesses will not survive through the wintertime. So it's a very, very desperate time for us.

REID: And I know that I've been there when you have -- now it's getting cold, walk us through what restaurants are dealing with now that they're dealing with cold weather and limits on indoor dining? What is that doing to your businesses?

WILSON: Well, it's putting a lot of us out of business, and you know, when you look at the restaurant industry, when a restaurant closes down, it is not just the physical space. It is the employees, of course, it's the truck drivers, it's the produce farmers, it's our fish mongers, it's the vineyards. It's so many different people, our maintenance men, that depend on us to be open in order to also support their families and to live.

And so, we're looking at the unemployment rate going up. We're looking at the homeless rates going up. But we're looking at something a lot of people aren't talking about. That's mental health issues.

You know, the stress of not being able to feed your family is devastating. At the end of the day, that's what we all want to do. We want to support and take care of our communities and our families.

REID: Yeah. What can people do? Give us an idea? People love their restaurant, how can they be helpful for this Thanksgiving?

WILSON: Oh, there are a myriad of things you can do to help restaurants. One thing you can do is to get us takeout orders. You know, you can buy gift certificates for the holiday for your friend and your families.

You can go on social media and post a picture of you at a time when you dined out, gift certificates, you know, write a review on yelp or Google. There are so many different things that you can do. Buy dinner for a friend. But also if you're cooking at home, there's certain things that you can also be doing.

I want to make sure we're doing a lot of virtual cooking classes right now, and I do want to encourage people to enroll. If you are going to cook at home, you know, make sure that you limit the amount of people that you have at home --

REID: Yeah.

WILSON: -- to about ten people.

REID: Absolutely.

WILSON: I'm putting little sanitizers on the table so that my family members have sanitizers. We're wearing masks.

REID: I wish that we had -- I wish we had more time, but I'm running into the next show. But, Melba Wilson, I love you. Thank you so much for being here.

That is tonight's REIDOUT. Have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone. And goodnight, Lorraine (ph).

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.


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