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Transcript: The ReidOut, September 17, 2020

Guests: Paul Butler, Joyce Vance, Kavita Patel, David Plouffe, Jena Griswold, Jane Fonda, Jamie Harrison


Trump administration and supporters wage war on masks. Attorney General Barr says, lockdown greatest threat to civil liberties since slavery. Anti-maskers complain masks take away their freedom. Jane Fonda has spent the past year dedicated to bringing attention to the climate change crisis, getting arrested multiple times protesting on Capitol Hill. U.S. Senate candidate Jamie Harrison talked about his tight race against Lindsey Graham.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: You can find me on social media @arimelber on Facebook or Instagram or wherever you online.

And keep it right here right now because THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid is up next.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: One of the loudest and, frankly, whiniest rallying cries from Donald Trump's base is that they are the victims. It's actually what helped Trump get elected, stoking fears of some white Americans who were angry and anxious about losing their standing as America's racial elite, this thing, this phenomenon that people with privilege are now the ones who are oppressed.

Well, you see it everywhere in Trump's America, from outrage over affirmative action and immigration as somehow the theft of their jobs or their status to now the loss of freedom to a seven-inch piece of cloths. That is of course the mask, the mask. The life-saving object that supposedly is robbing America of its promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it's the mask picking away at our humanity apparently.

Rather than say police officers disproportionately are killing people of color on tape, or a government that puts kids in cages or allegedly, forcibly sterilizes immigrant women. No, this belief that mask-wearing, really, all COVID restrictions are somehow assaults on our freedom is being legitimized, not just by Donald Trump but also by none other than William Barr, ostensibly, your attorney general but who instead acts like Trump's personal lawyer and fixer, who made this outrageous statement at a conservative college in Michigan


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Putting a national lockdown, stay-at-home orders is like house arrest. It's other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.


REID: Now, let's just be clear. 245 years of forced labor, rape and the breeding, selling and violent subjugation of human beings is slavery, and nothing, certainly not being asked to cover your sneezes in Walmart comes anywhere close to that, to even utter that these two things in the same sentence is absurd and infuriating.

And make no mistake, Barr and Trump, who eggs on these protesters in tweets, are the architects of this now right-wing truism that COVID precautions are some violation of people's human and civil rights.

So it should surprise no one that their genius followers are taking to the streets as well as to the Targets to rise up against cloth.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because we're being boiled like frogs.

For other people here that don't like our country, I say just go live in Venezuela, go live in Cuba. We're not making you stay here. If you want that kind of government, go, because those people in those countries are dying to come to our country for freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take it off, take it off. Take off your mask. Take it off. Take it off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When George Floyd was saying, I can't breathe and then he died, and now we're wearing a mask and we say, I can't breathe, but we're being forced to do it anyway.


REID: No shirts, no shoes, no service, no liberty.

Joining me are former federal prosecutors, Joyce Vance and Paul Butler.

I mean, I laugh, Paul, but it is ridiculous. I'm sorry. William Barr equating and saying, other than slavery, there is nothing closer to enslavement than being asked to cover up your sneezes and coughs in the Target. That's dumb. But it's actually working on supposedly intelligent grownups. Your thoughts.

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: The purpose of the lockdown was to save lives. And according to the scientific journal nature that lockdown prevented 60 million actual infections and saved hundreds of thousands of lives in the United States. Slavery was not about saving lives. Slavery was about rape and torture and tearing families apart.

So Barr is not just making a false equivalence, he is making a white supremacist history-denying false equivalence. To compare slavery to having to stay home for a few months demonstrates a stunning ignorance of both history and science.

REID: You know, and the thing that's crazy-making or that's frustrating, Joyce Vance, is that if Joe Biden were to win the election, he would then face what could amount to an anti-mask insurgency inside the country, a certain percentage of Americans who will perceive a national lockdown as some sort of tyranny, and that could get violent. Some of these people have shown up with guns to protest mask orders in their states already.

What legal footing would Joe Biden have if he became president to enact a national stay-at-home order or mask orders? Like would he actually have that authority?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: So there are a lot of different actions that you can take in response to a legitimate public health sort of crisis, and I suspect that the Biden team has already looked very carefully at their options and that they'll move forward with that depending what conditions are like, should Biden win the election.

The problem here, as you point out, is the attorney general is already setting up a context where a lot of people will believe that a masking order would not be legal, that other public health measures would be violative of their civil liberties.

And what's most abominable about all of this is that the attorney general is, in essence, running a campaign effort out of the Justice Department main building on Pennsylvania Avenue. It is watching him campaign for the president while he's cloaked in office. That's increasingly become so difficult here, he panders to the worst part of the president's base with these comments about slavery and some of the other things he said this week.

REID: Yes, no kidding. We've already had William Barr. This is his record, misrepresenting the findings of the Mueller report, lying about them to try to make Trump look innocent, removing prosecutors who were trying to look at Donald Trump's friends, pushing lower sentences for Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, sending Michael Cohen, literally throwing him back in prison to stop him from publishing his book, moving to kill the E. Jean Carroll suit tied to the rape allegation and saying that, well, the justice department can represent Trump in that, dispatching the National Guard and sticking them on peaceful protesters.

We've also found out that there was a desire to have a heat ray turned on those protesters. The military says that police considered using heat rays on White House protesters. The whistleblower says the National Guard officer called in to enforce the June crackdown on protesters that a top official sought to use heat rays. We don't know if that went through Barr but it is sort of Barr-esque.

And now let's listen to him on Monday talking, and as Joyce mentioned, politicking for Donald Trump about socialism.


BARR: As an attorney general, I am not supposed to get into politics. I think we were getting into a position where we were going to find ourselves irrevocably committed to the socialist path. And I think if Trump loses this election that that will be the case.


REID: Have you ever, Paul, as prosecutor, ever heard an attorney general talk like that about an election?

BUTLER: I have never seen an attorney general as explicitly political as William Barr. When I worked for the Justice Department doing public corruption cases, several of my progressive friends said, it's all going to be political. I worked in Democratic and Republican administrations. We brought the cases based on the facts.

That's not what this attorney general is doing. he is specifically going after protesters connected with the movement for black lives. He is doing that because that's the president's political interest. As you said, he's the president's fixer. He's the president's Roy Cohn. Always have to remember, Roy Cohn got disbarred. What will be the sanction for William Barr?

REID: Yes, one wonders.

Let's play a little more of William Barr, because he also doesn't seem to respect the people who work for him. And I wonder how anyone gets up every day, gets dressed, goes to work for this man, hearing him talk like this. Here he is really belittling the people he works for and comparing them to preschoolers.


BARR: Name one successful organization or institution where the lowest level employees' decisions are deemed sacrosanct. They aren't. There aren't any. Letting the most junior members set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it is no way to run a federal agency.

Individual prosecutors can sometimes become headhunters. That's all too often. They're consumed with taking down their target.


REID: You know, Joyce, that made hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I don't work there. He is basically putting down people who did these prosecutions against people like Michael Flynn, who displeases Donald Trump, so it displeases William Barr, so they're Montessori students

Do you get a sense that this will ultimately start to drive people to resign? I don't know how people react to something like that. How would you?

VANCE: So this makes me incredibly angry on behalf of all my former colleagues and prosecutors in the 94 officers nationwide. William Barr has never tried a case in his life in a courtroom, and I'm not sure that he would know how to. He doesn't look to me that he would be good at it.

But the reality is I hope prosecutors won't resign. I hope that they'll double down and continue to do their work in the professional way that we know we can expect from career lawyers at DOJ. I had a colleague email me this morning, a former colleague, and this person said, I was up at 4:30 A.M. this morning getting work done so that I could accomplish our mission and I will still be here when he is gone.

I hope all of those people will still be there so that they can serve the public like they've done despite the abuse they have taken in this administration.

REID: And, Paul, one of the things that people are doing when they get up every morning, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray, they're working on violent extremism cases, white nationalist violent extremism. That's, at least according to Director Wray, what most of the work is right now.

And yet you have Barr out here telling federal prosecutors they ought to be charging rioters with sedition, that he wanted to have protesters -- he want to explore whether he could bring charges against the mayor of Seattle for allowing a police-free protest zone.

e's pushing U.S. attorneys to bring federal charges against protesters, federal charges in terms of a crackdown that has led to already 300 arrests on federal crimes in the George Floyd protest. He is not focused on violent white nationalist extremism at all. He wants to jail protesters and the mayor of Seattle.

BUTLER: Yes. So some of the people, the 300 people that have been charged with federal crimes are right wing agitators who came to disrupt the protesters, for example, two members of Boogaloo boys were charged -- two members of the Boogaloo boys were charged in connection with the killing of a law enforcement officer in Oakland.

Black Lives Matter protesters, some of the federal charges seem ginned up to score political points, for example, according to the Associated Press, a teenager posted online, we're not each other's enemies, the police are the enemy, and that kid has been charged with a federal crime.

Compare that, Joy, to who has not been charged with federal crimes, Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot two protesters dead in Kenosha and wounded another. Trump defended him. The couple who pointed guns at non-violent protesters in St. Louis haven't been charged with a federal crime, but instead were invited to speak at the Republican Convention.

REID: Yes. How do you deal with lawlessness at the top at the Department of Justice? I have no idea.

Joy Vance, Paul Butler, thank you both for being here. I really appreciate your time.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, a former White House coronavirus adviser says Trump has a flat-out disregard for human life.


OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER TO MIKE PENCE: When we were in a task force meeting, the president said, maybe this COVID thing is a good thing. I don't like shaking hands with people. I don't have to shake hands with these disgusting people.


REID: Meanwhile, to Trump, COVID is not even a national health catastrophe. He says it is a P.R. failure, believe it or not.

Plus, Jane Fonda, the Hollywood legend, who is also a big time activist, we will talk about civil disobedience in the age of Trump.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: With the United States approaching 200,000 coronavirus deaths, Donald Trump has shown a total lack of empathy or any plan. Indeed, he seems to have essentially given up on trying to stop the virus.

Now, a former coronavirus adviser to Mike Pence is confirming what we've known all along. Republican Olivia Troye, who left the White House in August, says she is voting for Joe Biden because of, quote, Trump's flat-out disregard for human life during the pandemic. And in a political ad, she says she saw firsthand what he really cares about.


TROYE: The president didn't want to hear that because his biggest concern was that we were in election year and how was this going to affect what he considered to be his record of success. The truth is he doesn't actually care about anyone else but himself.


REID: He certainly has proved that he doesn't care about human lives when in an ABC News town hall on Tuesday. He seemed to advocate for this ridiculously dangerous idea that you've heard floating around him and his people about herd immunity.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Sure, with time, it goes --


TRUMP: And you'll develop like a herd mentality. It's going to be herd-developed, and that's going to happen.


REID: Herd mentality, paging Dr. Freud.

Okay. So we would like to remind you now of something that our friends at the Rachel Maddow Show dug into last night. According to the Mayo Clinic, to achieve herd immunity, not mentality, roughly 70 percent of the population would have to recover from COVID-19 to halt the epidemic. That means with a population of about 330 million people, roughly 230 million people would have to get infected. 230 million, with a roughly 3 percent fatality rate in this country, according to Johns Hopkins, that means potentially 6.9 million more Americans would have to die to get Donald Trump his herd immunity. Take that in for a second, and that appears to be the plan.

I'm joined now by David Plouffe, former campaign manager for President Obama's 2008 campaign, and Dr. Kavita Patel, former Obama administration White House policy director and fellow at the Brookings Institution.

It is shocking to think, Dr. Patel, that any human being, anyone with a heart and a soul would ever be willing to risk 6.9 million of their fellow Americans or, I mean, 6.9 million fellow human beings dying because they don't want to fight the virus, they just want to let it take us, basically. But this appears to be the plan -- I mean, item.

I just found this -- saw this today for the first time. There was a plan in the Postal Service in April, U.S. Postal Service leaders drafted a news release announcing that they have plans to distribute 650 million masks nationwide, which have been enough to offer five face coverings to every American household. There was a press release and everything that was written up. It was never sent because the White House didn't want it.

If you don't want coronavirus to kill people, you send that out. They stopped it. Does it look to you like, and Rachel Maddow did a great job on this last night, does it look to you like, in practice, this administration is going for the herd immunity gambit?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE HEALTH POLICY ADVISER: It absolutely does. And, Joy, I mean, the case of the masks is just one of so many, starting with the audiotapes that we've heard where the president acknowledged how serious this was way back in January and kind of every action since then has gone against scientific advice, public health advice.

And now we are learning, even in the last 72 hours, Joy, that we have had career scientists whose opinions -- or, actually, whose facts have been stymied by political appointees, not even -- not even Dr. Redfield, who I have been very critical of, but tried to speak some truth this week, but people who are in charge of communications at HHS.

So, not distributing masks is one thing. Lying to the American people, and then, honestly, Joy, what gave me heartburn was that rebuke of Dr. Redfield. When he tried to say that masks can really save lives, potentially more than a vaccine, that was his moment to try to do something to turn around the country's action and not making this political.

And the president did what? He punished him and said he made a mistake, and he didn't hear, and he's not privy to the information that the president is.

Well, that's simply just not true. And now we have been left to kind of pick up the pieces.

REID: Yes, let's hear that, just what you're talking about there.

This is Donald Trump rebuking Dr. Redfield, who is the head of the CDC, on the subject of masks.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: These face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have. I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Number one, it's not more effective, by any means, than a vaccine.

On masks -- masks have problems, too.

As far as the mask is concerned, he made a mistake.


REID: And, David Plouffe, Trump obviously just says, this is just a P.R. problem. It's just -- we just need to get the messaging right, get people back to school, get people back out, and everything will be fine.

He -- as if the people won't still be dying and people will never find out how many people have died.

We just now learned, as of tonight from "The New York Times," that the CDC, the same CDC that Redfield runs, did not write its own testing guidelines that were published on its Web site. Here's a quote.

"A heavily criticized recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month about who should be tested for the coronavirus was not written by the CDC scientists and was posted to the agency's Web site, despite their serious objections."

You now have interference from the political units into the scientific process because they want the P.R. to look like everything is fine.

I don't even know what to ask you about this. I'm just going to let you comment on it.


DAVID PLOUFFE, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, first of all, Joy, having worked in the White House, someone like me -- and I had governmental responsibilities -- wouldn't be anywhere near something like that.

So, what we find out every day here is, it's worse than we thought. And we all thought it was pretty bad. It's dangerous. It's dumb. And it's dereliction of duty.

And Donald Trump doesn't have credibility with the American people outside of his herd. So, the loyal FOX News viewers, the Breitbart refreshers, they believe Donald Trump. That's about 20 percent of the country, sadly. I wish it was 2.

Everybody else doesn't trust him. They trust people like Dr. Redfield. They trust medical professionals and scientists.

And here we are, where we still have, I saw today, 19 states having rising cases, and you're still getting from the president negative and mixed messages about something as simple as wearing a mask.

So, he views everything -- the spot that you mentioned from Mike Pence's COVID task force member, so such a brave and, I think, brutal indictment of Trump's leadership from somebody who saw it up first is so important.

He sees everything through his distorted narcissistic own windshield, and it's about him. But, at the end of the day, the American people don't see this as a P.R. problem. They see it as a problem. They don't want to die. They don't want to go to the hospital. They want their kids to go back to their school. They want their small businesses to open.

And, at the end of the day, I think Donald Trump is not being listened to by the American people on this anymore. And, at the end of the day, he's got to face reelection in a matter of weeks, and the most important issue to the American people is the pandemic, both how it was mismanaged, but who do you trust to manage it going forward?

Is anybody going to trust Donald Trump to properly execute the distribution of a vaccine? And I think that's what he calls into question every day.

REID: Yes, but here's the problem. There's some people who do listen to him.

Can we just show this? This is a Target in, of course, Florida. Come on, Florida. You can do better than this.


REID: In Fort Lauderdale.

Invading -- a group of people took it upon themselves to invade this Target with their masks off and run through it with even their children or some children that are with them, and start -- quote, unquote -- "protesting."

There are people who do listen to him. When this Pence aide, when Mike Pence's -- when the vice president's aide says that Donald Trump does not care about human life, it's these lives he doesn't care about, Dr. Patel.

These people could be sick. They could be spreading COVID. And when they leave this Target, everyone who comes in this Target after them is now at risk, because they have now yelled and screamed and spewed droplets all over the cereal and the carpets and the pillows and everything.

Are we safe from them?

PATEL: No, I mean, this virus has -- the virus doesn't know blue or red or boundaries or any sort of color.

But what it does know is how to stay alive. The virus is going to be incredibly smart at propagating itself. That's why many of us know that, even with a vaccine, we're still going to need to deal with these public health measures and be responsible.

And, Joy, just while we have been talking, there have been at least three people who have died of COVID. I mean, we're still clocking in 1,000 deaths, not cases, deaths a day. So, we're clearly -- the virus is clearly winning, while we're having a president who is lying to us and having -- and dividing kind of doctors and health professionals having to deal with people now who are skeptical about this.

And, candidly, Joy, the most disturbing thing is now you're starting to seek out people who don't necessarily believe public health professionals or even want to get a vaccine, even if it's deemed safe and effective.

So, the destruction is going to be longstanding.

REID: Yes.

Michael Steele called this stuck on stupid. I mean, we are in a -- it's like a broken record. And we're never going to get out of this nightmare until a majority of Americans accept that this is real and do the minimum. I mean, covering your sneezes is not losing your liberty, for God's sakes.

David Plouffe, Dr. Kavita Patel, thank you both very much.

And coming up: Which is the greatest threat to the election, foreign interference or Donald Trump's ongoing frenzied assault on mail-in voting? Or how about option C: all of the above?

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: Just 47 days until Election Day, and just like last time, Russia is trying to interfere on Donald Trump's behalf.

Here is what FBI Director Christopher Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee that morning:


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Well, we certainly have seen very active, very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020 through what I would call more the malign foreign influence side of things, social media, use of proxies, state media, online journals, et cetera, an effort to both sow divisiveness and discord, and -- and I think the intelligence community has assessed this -- to -- primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment.


REID: And, in a "New York Times" op-ed, former director of National Intelligence Dan Coats writes that Congress should establish a bipartisan commission to monitor voting and try to safeguard the election from claims of illegitimacy.

Quote: "Our democracy's enemies, foreign and domestic, want us to concede in advance that our voting systems are faulty or fraudulent, that sinister conspiracies have distorted the political will of the people, that our public discourse has been perverted by the news media and social networks riddled with prejudice, lies and ill will.

"If those are the results of this tumultuous election year, we are lost, no matter which candidate wins. No American and certainly no American leader should want such an outcome. Total destruction and sowing salt in the earth of American democracy is a catastrophe well beyond simple defeat and a poison for generations."

No one in the U.S. is working harder, however, to pervert the electoral process than Donald Trump. After absurdly claiming that the only way he could lose is if the election is rigged, he's now saying that we may never even know who won.

Maybe he thinks that that would mean he gets to stay president. Nope.

That's next.


REID: Welcome back.

Donald Trump spent another morning live-tweeting his favorite morning show and again attacking the use of mail-in ballots.

In his latest temper tantrum, Trump is claiming that, because of mail-in ballots, the election results may never be accurately determined. And if people don't vote in person, it would be utter mayhem.

He continues to defend absentee ballots, which is how he and many of his cronies cast their votes and which are exactly the same as mail-in ballots.

Joining me now is Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold.

And, Secretary Griswold, thank you so much for being here. I'm looking at a "Denver Post" headline, my old hometown paper when I lived in Colorado. A federal judge has now blocked the United States Postal Service from sending mailers containing incorrect voting information to your -- to Coloradans.

You sued the United States Postal Service and -- over these ballots that you said were misleading, and you want them to pay for a mailer with correct information. Can you explain what the ballots were and why you sued?

JENA GRISWOLD (D), COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, thank you for having me on, Joy.

Colorado welcomes you back, if you ever want to come for a visit.

But, yes, we were alerted last Thursday.

REID: Yes.

GRISWOLD: Whenever you want.

Last Thursday, we were told the Postal Service was planning on sending a mailer with wrong information for Coloradans. So, as secretary of state, I need to make sure that we're trying to get correct election information out.

So, we filed the restraining order, were granted it, and have a hearing tomorrow.

But I think it just underlines the amount of misinformation in our elections. And we need to be spreading good information, because confusion, chaos leads to low turn -- voter turnout. It could suppress the vote itself.

REID: Yes.

And Colorado has been voting 100 percent by mail since 2013. So, Colorado is very good at this. So, when you hear this kind of misinformation, but also when you see what's been done by Louis DeJoy to the Postal Service, number one, are you worried?

I know you were in a meeting with him today. Did you address concerns that DeJoy -- with DeJoy at the head of the Postal Service, that USPS not be prepared this cycle to handle a Colorado election?

GRISWOLD: Well, Colorado has been voting by mail for several years.

The Colorado election model is very straightforward. You register to vote. You're sent a ballot, and you return it to one of hundreds of drop boxes through the mail, or you can even go vote in person. We have early voting.

We believe in accessible elections. And you are correct. I spoke with the postmaster general today. It's the first time, after months of trying to talk with him. And, believe it or not, he admitted that he does not agree with President Trump's lies about vote by mail.

And I asked him specifically if he had confidence in postal workers, saying, I have confidence in postal workers, and I thought that the attorney general's statements about postal workers being bribed was just outlandish and intended to undermine confidence. And he said he agreed.

But there is major concern with the postmaster general. A federal judge also today just determined in a multistate suit that the postmaster general and the president has been acting in a politically motivated way with their treatment of the United States Postal Service to help themselves politically.

REID: Yes.

And when you spoke with Mr. DeJoy, did you address the fact that he has undermined the physical maintenance of the Postal Service, such that, just structurally, it's going to make it harder for the Postal Service?

Because, again, this is all mail-in ballots. This is how Colorado votes, are you worried that because of his intervention, the Postal Service just might not be physically able this cycle to handle the ballots?

GRISWOLD: In Colorado, we're confident that we're going to have a great election.

We have a great relationship with mail carriers, the regional postal leadership. And the federal lawsuit that was a multistate lawsuit that was partially decided today, an injunction came down, bars the postal master and the post office from making any other changes.

But, overall, I think it's really important to highlight in a big way that the president is using any tool to try to undermine the election. We have a president of the United States willing to try to cheat to keep power.

And that is so undemocratic. It's so un-American. And we have to do everything we can to safeguard our democracy.

REID: Absolutely.

Watch Colorado, America. Colorado knows how to do this, and they do it very, very well when it comes to elections.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, thank you so much. Really appreciate you being here. And see you in Denver maybe when we can travel again.


REID: Take care.

Meanwhile, Jane Fonda joins me next on how she's using her star power and civil disobedience to fight for the cause that she believes in. So excited about this conversation.

Stay with us.



JANE FONDA, ACTRESS/ACTIVIST: This is an ongoing action to draw attention and a sense of urgency to the climate crisis. This is the last possible moment in history when changing course can mean saving lives and speaks on an unimaginable scale.


REID: Jane Fonda has spent the past year dedicated to bringing attention to the climate change crisis, getting arrested multiple times protesting on Capitol Hill.

And I'm joined now by Jane Fonda, actress, founder of the Women's Media Center, and author of "What Can I Do: My Path from Climate Despair to Action".

And, Ms. Fonda, it is great to talk with you. Thank you so much for coming on the show tonight.

And let's talk a little about -- I'll start with the book, because you write in the book "What Can I Do". It did come out on September 8th.

And you write this: As important as our individual lifestyle decisions are, they cannot be brought to scale in time to get us where we need to be by 2030. It's structural change that we need to focus on while continuing individual commitments to the planet. Maybe the Friday actions would help bring about that policy change.

You're talking about these Fire Drill Fridays that you started.

Talk about that Fire Drill Fridays. What is it, why did you start it?

FONDA: When you're famous, you have a platform. The question is how to use it most effectively and responsibly -- and inspired by Greta Thunberg and the young climate strikers and Naomi Klein who wrote a great book that kind of motivated me to get off my butt. I worked with Greenpeace, moved to D.C.

And every Thursday night, we had a teach-in focusing on a specific aspect of the climate crisis, oceans, trees, forest, jobs, women, the military, et cetera.

Celebrities like my friend Sam Waterston (ph), Ben and Jerry, they're coming tomorrow because we're continuing them virally. And -- or I should say virtually.

And then the next day, Friday, we would have a rally focusing on the same issue, then we would engage in civil disobedience, risk getting arrested. Civil disobedience, really, history has proved that's the only thing that really works when you tried everything else. When you tried all of the levers that democracy offers you -- protesting, marching, writing, lobbying, petitioning, and you're not listened to, then you step it up.

And when we started, we didn't know if it was going to work, we didn't know if it would gain traction or if it was just going to some stunt by an old movie star coming to D.C.

People started coming in large numbers. Every week, there would be more and more people, coming from all over the country, and they had never engaged in civil disobedience before, and they had never risk arrest, and I could see -- well, I asked them, you know, how do you feel? Great. It made them feel empowered.

Had they ever done it before? No, and that's what we were aiming for.

You know, the Yale Project on Climate and Communication says there are 23 million Americans that care about the climate who have never done anything about it, because nobody asked them. There are 13 million who would engage in civil disobedience, but nobody asked them.

The great unasked -- that's what we're doing. We're rousing the great unasked, because we're going to need unprecedented numbers in order to change the policies and laws that brought us what we have now.

REID: So I think for a lot of people -- you know, when people think climate, if not thinking of wildfires that are devastating the West, you're now seeing, you know, these blood red skies, you're seeing sort of, you know, the visual image between that and hurricanes of what climate change is bringing right now, you know, the Green New Deal is what's talked about.

And we're just going to put up to the screen just what that the Green New Deal is. For those who don't know, I think I sometimes forget what all of it is. Greenhouse emissions by 2050, upgrade existing buildings, getting America on board with lower climate change cars, et cetera.

How do you get from knowing what it is and talking about it in theory, even with fires burning to get people to focus on this and actually get people to want to implement it.

FONDA: They do. They are -- they're getting focused. It is hard not to when your state is on fire. Not only is the state on fire, birds are falling out of the air, dive bombing dead into the ground because of the bad air.

And, you know, it's -- talking about it is important, because if you don't talk about it, you can't care about it. If you don't care, you won't act. We need to act.

And the main thing that we have to act about is getting rid of fossil fuels, not at once, but science and COVID has taught us this, importance of listening to science, listening to the experts, says we have to cut fuel emissions in half in ten years.

Now, that's really, really hard, and it's not going to happen unless unprecedented numbers of people demanding it, no matter who is elected in November.

But November is important, because, you know, one of the things that happens during the election, you choose your opponent -- by opponent, I mean the person that you're going to have to go up against when you want other things to happen, like equal pay for equal work between men and women, like all of the things that need to happen in this country, because it's not just a climate crisis. Our society, the fabric of our society is unraveling.

The great thing about the Green New Deal is it gives us a way to do it all at once. But we have to get rid of fossil fuels. That's the main thing.

REID: Yeah.

Well, Jane Fonda, you're out there fighting the good fight. Thank you so much for giving us some of your time. Stay at it.

FONDA: I'm happy to see you. It is great that you're in this position now, I love it. We love watching you.

REID: OK. I officially retire. I retire.


REID: That's it, I'm done. Not doing any more TV. Jane Fonda knows who I am. Thank you very much.

OK, I appreciate you. Thank you so much.

And up next, wow, that happened. Up next, the fight for the South. U.S. Senate candidate Jamie Harrison is here to talk about his tight race against Lindsey Graham.

Stay with us. I'll retire later.


REID: William Barr's influence on our democracy has been entirely negative and corrosive. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is just as dangerous. Under McConnell's control, conservatives have packed the courts with unqualified conservatives, blocked a voting rights bill and refused to take up legislation that would protect the election from foreign interference.

To unseat McConnell as majority leader, Democrats would need to either beat him in November, which Amy McGrath doesn't seem to be doing too well at in the polls, or they need to pull the Senate seat in Alabama and pick up four seats from Republicans, three if Democrats win the White House.

Now, there are 13 opportunities for Democrats to flip Senate seats versus just two for Republicans. In one of those unexpected Democratic opportunities is in South Carolina where a new Quinnipiac poll shows Lindsey Graham tied with his Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison, 48-48.

In the 24 hours after the poll was released, Harrison raised $1 million.

And Jaime Harrison joins me now.

And, Jamie, this poll I think was sort of a shot across the bow to your opponent.

Right now, Donald Trump is leading Joe Biden in your state 51/45 according to the same company, Quinnipiac. But you're ahead.

Can you explain -- you're tied. Can you explain why you seem to be outdoing or outpolling the vice president right now?

JAMIE HARRISON (D-SC), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: That's because, you know, Joy, that old adage of all politics is local, it's true. You know, Lindsey Graham has been in Washington, D.C. for 25 years, and 18 of those spent in the United States Senate.

And people understand that this Lindsey Graham is very different than the other old Lindsey Graham. This Lindsey Graham doesn't really care about the people in South Carolina and the issues they're dealing with on a day-to-day basis. What he cares about is his own re-election, his political relevance, going on Sean Hannity every night, instead of doing the town halls here, addressing the issues that people are dealing with.

It's sad when your senator fights against you instead of fights for you. I mean, Joy, when you think about it, here in South Carolina, we had over 700,000 people file for unemployment in our state. And it was our senator that said, over our dead bodies we'll be allowing the extension of the federal benefit of unemployment.

Who says something like that when your people are desperate and they are in need and need help?

But that's what Lindsey Graham has done and that's part of the reason why we are neck and neck in this race, and it's going to be the reason why we end up winning this race.

REID: Yeah. And I should note that we did invite Lindsey Graham on, by the way. And he didn't even respond to our calls, but he didn't respond, but we didn't mind. He's welcome any time.

You have a better favorable rate than Senator Graham, 47 percent to a favorable opinion of you. Only 44 percent have a favorable opinion of him.

But the unfavorable opinion, he's at 49, he's underwater by five points in terms of his favorable, unfavorables while your unfavorables are 34, so I guess fewer people know you. I wonder if you -- if part of the reason is that you feel this was an opportunity. Is it Lindsey Graham won his races but not by an overwhelming margin. The last guy who ran against him got 39 percent of the vote.

How do you beat that? He's won with about 55 percent in the past. Structurally, how do you actually beat this guy?

HARRISON: Well, part of this is just about this campaign, Joy. Listen, Lindsey Graham is trying to scare people to vote for him. I'm trying to inspire people to vote for me.

And so, structurally, we -- our campaign is built around hope. It's about the hopes and the aspirations and tackling the fears that people are dealing with. So the way that I talk about things, I talk about it in the way that people perceive it.

You know, it's -- you know, their hospitals are closing in rural communities. There aren't a Democratic or a Republican solution to it. They just want a solution.

When your roads are crumbling, you don't care if it is a Democratic or Republican solution, you just want somebody with a solution. I'm talking about the issues that people are dealing with. Thirty-eight percent of rural communities in South Carolina don't have access to broadband, and some of the ones that do, Joy, it is slower than you would find in Cuba and Venezuela.

So, what we are doing and building here is a movement and that's why I need people to go down, be a part of our movement to transform South Carolina and transform the South when we do that as well

REID: Yeah. You -- we're finally hearing that there is going to be some spending from the DSCC, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee in the South. The word is they will spent about seven figures in the South.

Do you believe that Democrats in general are missing an opportunity?

You know, I asked my team to pull up some of the polling on these Southern races. In Kentucky, Mitch McConnell is doing quite against Amy McGrath. Let's set that aside for a second.

The other races are competitive. Georgia looks competitive. The David Purdue race against Jon Ossoff is a two-point race.

The Kelly Loeffler against Doug Collins, Matt Lieberman, and Reverend Warnock is just all over the place polling-wise.

You got the John Cornyn race where me's up pretty significantly over Hegar.

But in general, if you go through Mississippi and some of these other states, are Democrats missing an opportunity by not putting more money in the South, even in races like Alabama where they got an incumbent they need to defend in Doug Jones?

HARRISON: Well, it is important that you compete everywhere. It is important that when you think about the South, and I talk about the South often, you have a large pocket of African-American voters right there in the South and they need representation, too, the entire region.

And some of the issues that we are dealing with are consistent. In South Carolina, in Georgia, in Mississippi, we have rural hospitals that have closed, and that is because people like Lindsey Graham have refused to expand medicate. And, you know, those areas also don't have broadband.

I mean, these issues are consistent. The issues I talk about in South Carolina are the same issues they're dealing with in Mississippi, in Georgia and Alabama.

So it is time for a new leadership that is addressing the ills of the people, and I believe it is important to invest in the South. It's really important. And I hope that we see more investment not only in my race but across the region.

REID: Yeah. Is Lindsey Graham going to debate you? He seems to like to try to get at you on Twitter. I don't know why he doesn't focus on Donald Trump.

But anyway, he likes to tweet at you. Is he going to debate you?

HARRISON: Well, joy, he is desperate at this moment. But he is -- has agreed to three debates. So, October 3rd, October 12th and the 21st, I believe, of October.

But he's a very desperate guy at this point in time

REID: Yeah. Well, it's an interesting twitter conversation the two of you are having we definitely look forward to those debates.

Jamie Harrison, thank you very much. Really appreciate you being here always. Good luck.

And meanwhile, tomorrow night, I'm going to be joined by comedian and talk show host Larry Wilmore. I'm excited about that. You do not want to miss it. That should be a fun conversation.

And that is tonight's REIDOUT.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.



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