tv Alex Witt Reports MSNBC January 8, 2022 11:00am-12:00pm PST
good day to all of you. welcome, everyone, to alex wooit reports. here's what's happening at 2:00 p.m. eastern, 11:00 a.m. pacific time, a memorial service for former nevada senator harry reid is getting under way in las vegas. president biden is there, along with house speaker nancy pelosi and senate majority leader chuck schumer and former president obama will be delivering the eulogy. nbc capitol hill correspondent leigh ann caldwell is also there. leigh ann, set us up for what we can expect this hour. >> reporter: hey, alex, the service today is going to be the who's who of democratic politics, of course, president joe biden, former president barack obama, speaker pelosi, majority leader schumer in the senate, they're going to speak here but perhaps for the late senator, the most important person who's going to be here is his wife, landra, of 62 years. he kept a poem of e.e. cummingss in his desk to always remember her, titled, "i carry your heart
out with me." so she was someone who was extremely important in his life. you know, senator reid liked to say that his wife, landra reid, was smarter than him, more athletic than him but really just didn't have the same opportunities simply because she was a woman. and i think that really influenced and motivated him to be such a huge champion for women, whether it was through different policies or whether it was through elevating women in his own office, in the senate, having one of the first women chiefs of staff. >> reporter: another issue is suicide prevention. he spoke about that publicly, and that had a huge impact. of course, his father had died by suicide, something he never talked about until just one day in a senate hearing, he announced it, and he did talk about it, and that led to a lot of work and a lot of federal funding for suicide prevention, and so that is the personal side
of him where he used a lot of his personal experience and personal beliefs, legislative as well. of course, he was also a divisive figure. he was very partisan. he had republicans who were always trying to beat him, of course, but some of those republicans are actually going to be here today, including senator roy blunt, senator shelby of alabama, those are two senators who are currently serving in the senate who are retiring, but this is quite a memorial service for the late senator from searchlight, nevada, very small mining town about 45 miles away from here. >> leigh ann, thank you so much for that. we saw the honor guard carrying in the casket of the late senator, and we are looking right now, of course sh at president biden who will be speaking and offering a poignant recollection and he has reason to. president biden served alongside the late senator for more than two decades while they both were in congress. also those eight pivotal years during his time as vice president. let's go right now to nbc's josh
lederman standing by for us at the white house to talk about this aspect of things. do you know, josh, what vice president -- or rather the president is going to speak about, perhaps his time as vice president and all the things that he accomplished with president obama and also harry reid's help? >> reporter: yeah, we're going to see the president returning once again, alex, to this role of consoler in chief, a role that he has played so many times throughout his life, including, according to one count in the "washington post," seven times just since president biden took office a year ago, that he has taken part in remembrances for either friends or former colleagues who have died. on this occasion, it is personal. as you mentioned, they served for decades together. harry reid playing such an instrumental role in getting the obama administration agenda through when biden was vice president, and president biden has credited harry reid not only with getting the affordable care
act through but with other signature pieces of legislation, his work on dodd-frank, his work on ending "don't ask, don't tell" and so many other policies that have really become central to the list of accomplishments that elected democrats claim over the last several decades. and we know that they had a personal friendship too. president biden has described reid as a dear friend, and i want to read a little bit to you of what biden said when harry reid died. president biden saying, at that time, in a statement, that harry reid and i grew up on different sides of the country, but we came from the same place where certain values run deep. loyalty, faith, resolve, service. president biden going on to say that for harry, it wasn't about power for power's sake. it was about the power to do right for the people. so, that's the kind of theme, i think, you're going to hear from president biden as he pays a final tribute to both a colleague and a friend. >> okay. josh, thank you so much. and for all of you, we're going
to continue to bring you live looks periodically in advance of hearing from beginning with majority leader chuck schumer and a litany of really high-profile guests there. you're looking right now at marcus faust. he is conducting this event. that doesn't necessarily mean to a musical conductor. he's overseeing the order of events. we should note for all of you, they are at that center there in the heart of las vegas, and we're going to keep dipping into that as we bring in my panel, carol mosley braun, former illinois senator, geoff bennett, chief washington correspondent for pss "newshour," msnbc contributor, elena beverly and eugene daniels, white house reporter with politico. all of you are welcome here. i appreciate all of your insights and your experience, and i want to reach out to senator braun first and ask you, what stands out for you today as you're reflecting on the years
that you worked with senator reid? >> well, i'd like to offer my condolences to his family, which were very important to him, and to say how honored i am that you have invited me to be part of this. i wish i could be in las vegas right now because harry reid, i adored him. he was a wonderful, wonderful man, and i can say this with a special, i think, take on events, because at the time that i was in the united states senate, i was the only person of color, the only black woman in the senate. there are no black women there now. and harry reid was nicer to me than just about anybody else. i mean, he was as nice to me as anybody, and so not only that, me personally, but even on the issues that i cared about, he was always really a stellar banner carrier. quite frankly, one of the things that used to shock me was how many members of the senate had come from humble beginnings themselves but then had decided they didn't like poor people,
and they would just be nasty and mean to them on policy issues. harry never forgot where he came from, and he was always looking out for the little guy, and quite frankly, i want to tell you a quick story if i can. i don't want to take up too many time. >> absolutely, go ahead. >> an illinois resident had played in the negro league and he came to me one day and pointed out that the negro league players in the days of segregation when blacks could not play baseball in the major league teams, but he said that the negro league players had never gotten pensions and they were having a hard time, many of them, and so i went -- as it turned out, i tried to push the ball myself. i was a freshman so it wasn't possible, but i went to harry and discovered that he had three former negro league players in nevada, and so he was willing to take up the cause to try to get these guys a pension. it was a handful of people.
you can imagine, negro league players, there are under 40 of them even now because of time, but the fact of the matter is, harry took on the issue, proceeded to get the owners and the union together, and got a deal struck in which they put together a special fund to have pensions for the negro league players. and i just thought, i'm so grateful to him for doing that. because you know, these guys died off, as you can imagine, failure quickly after this was done, but they were able to go -- they were able to have some financial support for their years of service to baseball that they hadn't had before, because of harry reid. so that's a personal story. >> absolutely. and he focused on a very small, specific group of people, but who could benefit so much not only financially but just the respect and honor due to them and putting them on the level of their peers. you know? that, i'm sure, meant so much. i love that story. that's a great one.
geoff, as i bring you into the conversation, arguably, senator reid will probably be best remembered for shepherding then president obama's affordable care act through the senate without any republican support. sounds familiar from these days too. what are you expecting to hear today from both the former president obama and from president biden? >> well, from president obama, you can expect that he will mention the fact that it was harry reid who encouraged him to run for president. back in 2006. it was then a freshman senator, barack obama, who was really at the beck and call of leadership, and the story goes that he was called into a meeting with a senate majority leader, the then senate majority leader, reid, and he said, look, i can tell that you're a little impatient, that the way the senate works is a little too slow for you. i want to make sure you're not going to leave here and try to run for governor of illinois. he said, i've heard that you're mulling over running for president. i think you can win. and reid told him that he would
stay out of the primary because at the time, obviously, there were lots of talk and considerations that hillary clinton would also run, and reid said, i'm going to stay neutral throughout this process, but you know, if you're worried that you don't have enough experience to run, the lack of experience for you could actually be an asset. and so, imagine being barack obama at the time, getting that sort of green light from someone like harry reid. they weren't particularly close. they were cordial, but they weren't close friends or anything. and so, that was really a seminal moment that led to barack obama becoming the first black president, and it was harry reid, the top elected mormon at the time, in politics. house speaker nancy pelosi, the highest ranking woman in politics, and barack obama, of course, the first african american president who saw over not just the passage of the affordable care act but also an $800 billion stimulus plan at the time, the passage of the
dodd-frank wall street reform, the end of "don't ask, don't tell," and they also oversaw the elena kagan and justice sotomayor confirmed to the supreme court. so, it is a really substantial and -- substantial record that the three of them have and certainly barack obama and joe biden, then as vice president, and harry reid as the senate majority leader at the time all saw over. >> so extraordinary to think that harry reid -- it's like he had a crystal ball or he was clairvoyant or something to look and see this freshman senator from illinois, really, the odds were against him, but harry reid saw the promise of barack obama and helped shepherd that. interesting. thank you for that. let's move to you, elena, because when reid announced his retirement, that happened back in 2015, he said, quote, the records will be written about the eight years of obama and reid. publicly, then president obama spoke about trying to reach across the aisle, but what was the relationship behind the
scenes between reid and the white house? i mean, geoff has just very articulately outlined the precursor to that, before he got elected, but sometimes when you get to office, when it's about legislating, the tenor changes. >> you recalled that when president obama came to office, we were coming -- we were going straight into the recession. and so, in order to get us out of the recession, harry reid was pivotal in making sure that we were able to pass the american recovery act and then moving forward with those critical pieces of legacy building legislation like dodd-frank and making sure that we reformed wall street, and like the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" and then of course the signature, our hallmark legacy legislation, the affordable care act. and he really -- he ran with it. he was a mentor to president obama during those first two years of tumultuous years of the white house. and he really ran with the agenda, even changing his own
position, harry reid changing his own personal positions in order to get these items of the agenda passed in order to improve the lives of american people, and if he -- i look at his farewell speech. you'll see how important the affordable care act was to him, how important healthcare was to him, based on his trajectory, based on his experience growing up without healthcare, the way it affected his mother, the way it affected his father, and that he saw this as a real passion. relationship between harry reid and the white house was really -- was one of mentorship in the first, you know, in the first two years when i was there. >> yeah. i want to let all of us, as i thank you for that comment, alaina, we're letting you look at the elder m. russell ballard, president of the quorum of the
twelve apostles and this is taking place at the smith center for performing arts in las vegas. eugene, you're next here. certainly, speaker pelosi was the big legislative star of the obama years. she and reid forged quite a strong bond. what can you tell us about their relationship? >> yeah, i think that's another thing that's really important here is about how close he was to his colleagues, right? you heard the senator just a bit ago talk about, you know, his support for her, and that's something that you hear from a lot of different people, whether they were up and coming folks like president obama or even alexandra ocasio-cortez who says that he has reached out to her or he had reached out to her multiple times over the years. and that relationship with nancy pelosi is something that, as you look back at the obama years, the biden as vice president years, is pinnacle and is really important about -- it tells you how those eight years worked out, because working hand-in-glove, both nancy pelosi and senator reid, as teammates,
and as equals, in pushing through the legislation from president obama that they wanted to push through, the healthcare, all of that good stuff that they're talking about, but also the other things, and changing his positions as was just said. that is someone that people see as a partisan. you talk to democrats, and they see him as someone who was a team player and someone who folks talk about the times in which folks reached across the aisle in those days, but harry reid was someone who definitely fought for his team, and that was something that was really important for him, and i think when you look at how his legacy, that is a strong part of his legacy, making sure that democrats, when he came in as leader in 2005, fighting with the bush administration in that first year was a large part of that, so fighting for his team was really important to him, and doing that with nancy pelosi was really important for his legacy. >> yeah. yeah. 100%.
eugene, you've also added a wonderful contribution to this discussion about harry reid and for all of you, i'm going to ask you to stick around. we are going to take a short break, everyone. we are preparing, waiting for senate majority leader chuck schumer to be the first of a bunch of really high-profile democrats, including the president of the united states right there, so -- oh, look at these great pictures. oh, look. there he is, harry reid, with the love of his life, his wife of 62 years. you can only imagine what she must be going through today, she and that family. what a tremendous loss for them. but as we wait more, we're going to have a discussion on some new legal troubles for donald trump, also the potential for the former president to be criminally charged for january 6th. short break. we'll be right back here on msnbc. ort break. we'll be right bachek re on msnbc. about customization. that's why i love liberty mutual. they customize my car insurance, so i only pay for what i need. how about a throwback? ♪ liberty, liberty, liberty, liberty ♪ only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty, liberty, liberty, liberty ♪
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barringer who has been speaking eloquently about her father and getting a little choked up as we would understand as we look at a beautiful picture of clearly the wedding of the late senator and his beloved wife of 62 years. just a little while from now, we're going to hear from the current senate majority leader chuck schumer as well as house speaker nancy pelosi and of course president biden and what is expected to be a moving eulogy from former president barack obama. we will take you there when those things get under way. meantime, we look at the one-year anniversary of the january 6th attacks, which brought a new legal challenge for the former president. capitol police officer kirkland has filed a 57-page lawsuit, happened thursday, accusing donald trump of contributing to the physical and emotional injuries that she sustained while trying to protect the capitol last year. the 27-year-old officer was dispatched right here. that is the west side of the capitol. you can plainly see it became one of the scenes of significant violence, and at one point, the lawsuit says she was outnumbered
450 to 1 at the capitol door, having just a baton and very little protective gear. she says she's been forced to take a year off work after suffering a traumatic brain injury. the lawsuit charges that the former president had extraordinary influence over his followers and through his words and conduct, he directed the mob that assaulted and battered officer kirkland. joining me now, msnbc legal analyst and former u.s. attorney joyce vance. joyce, this one's got a lot of emotion packed into it, and in fact, this officer, officer kirkland, is not the only law enforcement officer to file suit now against donald trump because of his conduct on january 6th. but do you think her case stands a chance? could it ever see a jury trial? because she has requested that. >> there are two very interesting aspects of these civil cases. one is that the burden of proof is lower than in a criminal case. these civil plaintiffs have to make out their claims by a
preponderance of the evidence. that means that it's more likely than not that their allegations are true, and of course, it's a sharp contrast to the high burden in criminal cases of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. and then, alex, to get to your question about whether these cases will make it to a jury, that largely depends upon what evidence comes out in the discovery process, because in civil cases, again, unlike criminal, there's robust discovery, and so the plaintiff is able to propound questions to the defendant that they're required to answer to. they have the ability to search for documents and to have those documents and other materials returned and to ask defendants to sit for depositions, so there's rich opportunity to garner evidence, whether in this case that will be enough to go to a jury is still unsettled, but the process itself may shake loose a good bit of information. >> it's been interesting, joyce, because the doj has not been really quick to charge the
former president and that's been much to the chagrin of some lawmakers, but in some rare comments about its investigation, attorney general merrick garland sought to reassure critics that the doj was not standing down. take a listen to this. >> the justice department remains committed to holding all january 6th perpetrators at any level accountable under law. whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy. we will follow the facts wherever they lead. >> do those comments there help uphold the waning faith for some in our justice system, and did you interpret that to mean that the doj investigation may indeed narrow in on donald trump? >> so, with my prosecutors' ears on, my former prosecutors' ears, that very understated series of comments from the attorney
general indicates that he has committed to investigating all aspects, not just of what happened on january 6th but of what led to january 6th. and it's a little bit perplexing, because up until now, we've seen no signs that doj is actively investigating. we haven't seen, for instance, witnesses complaining that they have been subpoenaed to the grand jury, and you would expect you might see that. on the other hand, merrick garland has a little bit of a history for running very quiet investigations. for instance, he oversaw the oklahoma city bombing investigation, and although in a different time when there wasn't as much 24-hour news cycle attention focused on these cases, that case managed to show up for indictment without a lot of previous information coming to light, so i think, really, we're all speculating right now about what's going on in doj, but the attorney general was at least trying to send a signal when he spoke to the country on wednesday to say, we're looking at this. we are involved, game on.
>> just want to say, your speculations often are proven to be 100% correct. i'm just saying that, my friend. butlet talk about the january 6th investigation. as you know, it may be the largest in the doj history because prosecutors have issued 5,000 subpoenas and search warrants. they have seized 2,000 devices, collected 20,000 hours of video footage, which, by the way, alone would take well over two years to review. i mean, this is a huge job. do you know why, though, it has remained so secretive? i mean, you speak about merrick garland and his tendencies, okay, we'll take that. but is it just that we all need to be more patient with the process? >> it's very hard, because, you know, there's this simultaneous need for information. we've lived through something in this country that is unprecedented, but at the same time, doj has to follow the rules when it conducts an investigation, because if it fails to follow those rules, it can mean that when they are prosecuting cases down the road,
those cases can either be kicked out of court by judges or fail to stand up on appeal. so, for instance, grand jury proceedings are required to be kept secret. the attorney general, the u.s. attorney, and the district of columbia, they cannot go and talk about what they are or aren't doing in front of grand juries, and there's also a concern that anything that they say right now could prejudice a jury pool down the road. so, they have to be extraordinarily careful in their conduct of whatever they're doing. i think something that sends a signal to me is that both is d.c. u.s. attorney's office and the highest offices at doj are helmed by prosecutors who know how to make cases when the evidence is there but it's a lot easier to be a living room armchair prosecutor, my current job, than it is to be the person inside of the department who has to make sure that they've got evidence that's admissible in court under very restrictive rules, that that evidence will
prove specific crimes beyond a reasonable doubt and that there are no legal issues that could impair the cases on appeal, because the worst thing here would be a swing and a miss, to indict these cases and then be able to obtain or sustain convictions. >> okay. a favorite armchair prosecutor of ours, joyce vance, thank you so much for your insights. and tomorrow, for all of you, representative jamie raskin will join jonathan capehart to reflect on the attack and much more. the sunday show with jonathan capehart, tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. right here on msnbc. there is new hope today as the nation is grappling with the record number of covid infections. the cdc says there is evidence that omicron-related cases could drop significantly over the next several weeks. this comes after researchers in south africa say they are already on the other side of their omicron surge, less than two months after they first discovered that variant. and joining me now to discuss it all, dr. kavita patel, msnbc medical contributor, and
physician and fellow at the brookings institution. welcome to you, doctor. your reaction to that, the cdc saying there could soon be a democratic drop in omicron cases, based on what you're seeing, do you agree with that? do you think it's hypothetical in too positive of a tone or do you think it's spot on? >> yeah, so, it's spot on in terms of the data because alex, as you point out, not only does the cdc modeling represent this, but this is based on what we've seen in other countries. having said that, alex, it feels like i'm swimming in, like, omicron positive cases, really scared parents, families, and people, so it's not the way we feel today. so -- and to be honest with you, projections don't mean anything when you're in the middle of it. so, they're correct, but right now, my message to people is, like, don't let your guard down. don't get complacent about this. >> interesting you say this in
advance of what i'm going to ask you about right now and that is relative to the cdc offering clarification on its new, keyword, relaxed quarantine guidelines, but they stood by their recommendation, people with covid to only isolate for five days. as opposed to previously it was ten. what are your thoughts on this? >> yeah, look, it's a lot of mixed thoughts. instead of being emotional about it, let me go to the evidence. the evidence does support, alex, there's sufficient evidence to support that you are likely to get or give omicron or covid in general in the first several days. that's on average. and i think that's also assuming a lot of things that i don't think we have in place. number one, that people are going to wear masks if they end isolation early because that's what we ask people to do. but alex, we know that's not what's happening. number two, it asks that people assess their own symptoms. are your symptoms resolving? after 20 years of practice and 7 years of advanced education, it's hard for me to assess my own symptoms. that's why i tell myself not to be my own doctor so i think the
reality is very difficult, and i think we're feeling the crunch. people want to be able to afford rent, send their kids to school, day cares stay open, but we have this pressure. so i do feel like the cdc's guidance is just that. it's guidance. at the end of the day, look at your local community, what's happening to you, and use your common sense. >> okay. let's talk masks because there are reports that the cloth and surgical masks that are so common don't, in fact, offer the maximum protection from omicron, so does that mean we all should be switching to the now more expensive, by the way, n95s? >> right, yeah, look, i would love if people had the ability, yes, i would love for people to switch, and my clinic is looking to ask and see if your local clinics or people are giving away some of the masks. we're going to do a big push to get out masks to people who can't afford them, which, by the way, is most of america, and it's hard to get them now because everybody wants one, but the better your mask, the better protected you can be. if you cannot afford a higher quality mask, kn95, n95, then
double mask, put a fabric mask over that surgical mask. i'm not being crazy about this. it's science. it backs it up. and with omicron literally everywhere, it can make a difference. >> okay. let's turn to rapid tests, big concern out there that these tests are not detecting covid infections, especially with the omicron variant. i can't tell you how many mixed reports i've heard. got the pcr and then got with a rapid and then didn't get with a rapid, i mean, it's just -- there's been a lot of back and forth. >> yeah. >> there are some folks that are advocating for swabbing your throat now instead of your nose. >> right. >> is that a good idea? >> sure. yeah, so, i've been trying this myself with patients and family members, and omicron lives in the throat, so i do think that if you don't have a lot of rapid test to, quote, experiment on, which is everybody in the country, that if you're feeling throat symptoms and those are your predominant symptoms, swab the back of your throat. but it's not easy.
look on the internet for some directions. i'll try to post them, alex, on our twitter, but you need to follow the directions. if you can't do your nose, but remember, a positive is real. don't doubt the positives. but don't get complacent with the negative. if you get a negative and you have symptoms, i want you to get to a doctor or try to get a pcr before you kind of go back out in society. until then, isolate until you can hone in on what it is. we're also seeing a lot of flu along with covid, so just be warned, i've got rapid flu tests in doctors' offices. we're catching both, sometimes at the same time. >> yeah, okay, dr. kavita patel, sobering always, but much appreciated. thank you so much. well, the supreme court considering a federal mandate requiring tens of millions of workers to get vaccinated or take weekly tests. justices heard more than three hours of arguments on friday and appeared willing to block the mandate that applies to about 80 million people. the rule was imposed by osha, the occupation safety and health administration. the court's conservative majority, skeptical that osha
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timber... [ sighs heavily ] when owning a small business gets real, progressive helps protect what you've built with affordable coverage. we have been following the memorial service under way for former senate majority leader harry reid, and soon we should be hearing from the current senate majority leader chuck schumer followed by house speaker nancy pelosi. then, former president obama. he will deliver the eulogy, and president biden will be giving his remarks as we look right now at one of harry reid's sons, that being key reid, and they are talking about their father in such emotional context. actually, that is josh. key has just wrapped up. that is josh reid. josh was preceded by key, his brother, and his sister, lana, and it really is quite something
to listen to that through the control booth and we may be bringing you some of the children's recollections, again, so emotional about the father they clearly adored and admired so much. i'm joined by leigh ann caldwell once again along with my panel, carol mosley braun, geoff bennett, alaina beverly and eugene daniels. i know you were inside of that performing arts center for a few minutes. talk about the mood there. >> yeah, it was somber, of course, because people are extremely sad. he touched so many people's lives, but it was also -- there was a moment of celebration as well. people who haven't seen each other in years. of course, coming together for this event. there were several hundred people there. it's a gorgeous performing arts center when his casket was brought in, it was a very emotional moment, of course, tears were shed. his entire family in the front row. he has a rather large family. he has five children, 19
grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and of course, his wife, lantra, was instrumental in his life, in his career. they were married for 62 years. he had a poem in his desk by e.e. cummings about love that he always kept there in the senate office to remind him of her, and then i spoke earlier with one of his former staffers who told me she worked on women's issues for him, and she worked with him for almost 20 years and said that he would always tell her that landra, his wife, was smarter than him, a better politician than him, more athletic than him, better-looking than him, better at everything but he realized that he was in the position that he was in because he had more opportunities because he is a man, and so he devoted much of his career to empowering and raising up women. he was one of the first senators, male senators, to appoint a -- or hire a woman chief of staff. he surrounded himself with
women. and so that was really an important part of him that is often -- a personal side of him that is often left behind because of his legislative accomplishments. but of course he was also very divisive too. he was a shrewd politician, and he, you know, very controversial tenure in the senate, even though he ushered through some of the most consequential pieces of legislation the country has seen, alex. >> yeah. 100%. and as we just give everyone, again, a look at what we are watching right there, of course, you see president biden and jill biden, our first lady right next to him as we await a musical performance if the program goes according to schedule, "be still" will be performed by brandon flowers of the killers but then they'll have two more of senator reid's sons, those being reif and rory, before we hear from the senate majority leader currently, chuck schumer, so we're monitoring all this for you. carol, we asked the legacy question always, but with this much depth and breadth in the political career of senator
harry reid, you combine that with these complexities of his public image versus what we hear about how he was in private, more soft spoken and very sensitive and thoughtful, but there are those who have said that he was a pretty tough negotiator, that he could be ruthless. putting all that together, what do you think he should be remembered most for? >> i think he should be remembered for the fact that he never forgot the little guy. he devoted his entire political career, at least from what i saw, to fighting for the rights of ordinary americans. he was, at the end of the day, a quintessential american and he represented the american dream, if you think about it. he came from humble beginnings, worked his way up, worked very hard, a tough negotiator, he gave no brook to -- he didn't suffer fools lightly, but he was good to people.
and he helped people who needed help. and i think that's the most important thing that can be said about all right. harry reid. >> that's a beautiful thing to be said about harry reid. geoff, are there going to be many republicans paying tribute to reid today or next week at the capitol? i mean, when you give the length of his tenure serving in congress, yes, the end of his tenure, he had gotten right into the mix of the extreme partisanship of this country, but he preceded that as well. when you had democrats and republicans working alongside one another across the aisle. >> that's true, and based on leigh ann's reporting, there are a couple of current republican lawmakers who are there in las vegas to pay their respects and we'll certainly see more next week when the late senator lies in state at the u.s. capitol. i'll tell you, though, i'm struck by the written statement that president biden released where he said that harry reid was focused on attaining power not just for power's sake but to use it, to wield it to help people like him, and to help
families like his, and it speaks to the point that senator moseley braun made f. you look at harry reid's life, his journey from rock miner's son to being senate majority leader, alex, is so cinematic, parts of it seem invented, even though they're not. his father was a rock miner who died by suicide. he was also an alcoholic. his mother was then left to raise the family, and in this tiny speck of a town, searchlight, nevada, the only two industries were mining and prostitution, and she made money for the family by doing the laundry of the local brothels, and that really is what harry reid was born into. and from there, he was an amateur boxer. he had a stint as a capitol police officer, in fact. and worked his way up to the top of nevada politics and ultimately became senate majority leader. and it's former president barack obama who said that harry reid never lost that chip on his shoulder. and so, yes, he was known for being tough and tenacious. he was tactically ruthless as a
politician, but it was all because he knew how to wield the processes of the senate. he knew how to use politics to advance democratic goals, and so now i think the question that democrats face is, will they pick up where harry reid left off? there are all sorts of questions about, you know, will democrats change the filibuster to push through voting rights legislation? harry reid has called for democrats to do that. of course, it was harry reid who changed the filibuster years ago to make it easier to get through president barack obama's nominations to the court, and since then, i don't think any president has had as many justices or rather federal judges on the bench as barack obama did in that two-year stretch. and harry reid has also called for shaking up the way that the electoral calendar is right now. he didn't want iowa and new hampshire to go first. he wanted states like nevada and south carolina that are more representative of the democratic party to be much higher in that calendar. so there are questions left for democrats to figure out how they're going to move forward with a legacy that he left, even
as they pay tribute to him on this day, alex. >> you know, geoff, it's wonderful listening to your assessment of all the many accomplishments and level of influence of harry reid, but we also have been listening -- there was this undercurrent, this sort of soft, subtle musical narration to your conversation there in those comments, geoff. we've been listening to "be still," and that is brandon flowers you see there playing that solo on the piano, he of the killers group. let's just listen a bit, because this is pretty beautiful. ♪ and labor 'til the work the done ♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪
>> pretty music there being performed. i hope you were able to hear some of it, all of you, as geoff bennett was speaking as well, and we now do expect to have leif reid, one of harry reid's sons take to the podium and offer remembrances about his father. i think we're going to listen to that and perhaps dip into that as well, because all of his children have spoken so beautifully about their father, and it's really been very, very emotional. but alaina, before we possibly get to that, let me ask you about what happened in 2010 as mitch mcconnell had said at the time that his top goal was to make barack obama a one-term president. he failed. but how did reid and white house insiders at the time see this? >> i think that we responded to
that as mcconnell trying to undo all of the great achievements that had been accomplished in those first two years, namely the passage of the affordable care act. he wanted to make sure that president obama was a one-term president because we had, as the administration, along with a partnership with harry reid, we had accomplished so much for the american people in order for republicans after they -- after the 2010 elections, in order for republicans to be able to both get their agenda passed and also secure the white house going forward in 2012, they needed to make sure that president obama was out of office so they would be able to get -- the republicans would be able to get their agenda passed so basically it was a statement of party over people, party over the american people, party over the accomplishments for the american people, and again, trying to ensure that the republicans were able to ascend to the white house to take that power. >> interesting. so, for all of you, again, you're looking at leif reid, the
fourth of five children to address their father's passing publicly there. this happening at that performing arts center, the smith center of performing arts in las vegas, nevada. eugene, i'm going to ask you to stand by. we're going to take a short break. we do expect after leif finishes speaking, his brother rory to speak and that will be followed by senate majority leader chuck schumer. short break, everyone. leader c schumer. short break, everyon e. ♪♪ three times the electorlytes and half the sugar. ♪♪ pedialyte powder packs. feel better fast. ♪♪ it only takes a second for an everyday item to become dangerous. tide pods child-guard pack helps keep your laundry pacs in a safe place and your child safer. to close, twist until it clicks. tide pods child-guard packaging.
♪♪ back now with our continuing coverage as we have been listening in our control booth and it periodically given you a listen to what's happening there. that is leif reid, the fourth of the late senator's children to speak there at their father's memorial service at the performing arts center there in las vegas. he's been quite poignant in his recollections of his father and talking about and sharing notes that his father had given them over the years. we should also add that key reid got quite emotional, actually reading letters that his father had sent to them, the bygone art of actually sending handwritten letters, something that will be a very precious commodity to that family going forward, certainly. i'm going to bring back eugene daniels right now to ask you a bit of a political question. in 2021, so just last year,
mitch mcconnell had said the same thing that he had said back in 2010 when he failed to make president barack obama a one-term president, said he's going to do the same thing with joe biden. do you think chuck schumer, who, by the way, will be speaking shortly, everybody, at this memorial service, can he pull off for biden what harry reid did for barack obama? what do you think? >> i mean, i think that is what he's attempting to do, right? you see how he's working to shepherd through the build back better. they have already done some impressive things despite how ugly the sausage-making, as the white house often puts it, has been. you look at the bipartisan infrastructure bill that stayed bipartisan throughout the senate process and through the house process. you look at the american rescue plan. you look at the fact that there is a pandemic going on. and so there are things that chuck schumer has done to help build biden's legacy. we're still, you know, just a year in, and i think that the
times now have changed so much from then in 2010 where you have so much more incoming on presidents, and so i think you may not ever see a senate majority leader or house speaker be able to prop up their president as much as harry reid was able to, because of how much is going on and how many different factors and success happened in washington, d.c., now, right? there are so many different things, especially when you look at joe biden, there are all these other circumstances, his age, the fact that he has said himself that he sees himself as a bridge candidate when he was running, though he contends publicly and privately that he is going to run again. that -- some of that is out of chuck schumer's hands, and so i don't think that we're going to see that same relationship that they had, but i wanted to read one statement that came out when mitch mcconnell -- when harry reid passed away.
you could hardly invent a more quintessentially american story, and it took harry's legendary bluntness, toughness and tenacity to make it happen. that was from mitch mcconnell, someone who, you know, harry reid and him had their beefs and i think mitch mcconnell said they were -- had a cordial relationship, which we all know in washington, d.c., usually means that they don't love each other as much as they want, but that is his legacy, right? that he was someone who had this windy road to where he ended up, and more importantly, never forgot where he came from, and i think democrats that we have talked to over and over again, you heard the senator earlier say some of the same things, and that's what you hear over and over. and as we listen to his kids talking and we think about these political questions, it's also a reminder that senators, members of congress, presidents, these are also just people, right? just humans who happen to find themselves in these extraordinary positions, working to figure out how to make this country better, and i think
harry reid's legacy is that as a reminder as well. >> do you think that he represents the end of an era, given the partisan politics -- again, he preceded the extreme partisanship that exists in washington today. he was able to be something of a deal maker earlier in his career. yes, the partisanship began during the obama presidency and got, you know, remarkably worse since those years, but does he represent, then, in your mind, eugene, the end of an era? >> i think so. all of the folks who were around during -- even during the obama years, it seems like, end of an era. you look at congress now, there are rarely -- especially after january 6th, an anniversary that we just saw this week, there are rarely things that they can agree on because of how far apart the parties are. when you look at bipartisanship, some of these folks don't even want to be in the same room with each other because, for democrats, they don't trust that republicans didn't have anything to do with the folks that
stormed the capitol on january 6th and put their lives in danger. and so it's hard to see how congress comes back from that, right, that extreme lack of trust, because partisanship is one thing, fighting for your team, being as shrewd as you possibly can, but when you don't even trust that the other side sees you as human, wants to also protect you, those kinds of things, it's hard to see congress come back from that, so it does feel like harry reid and folks like him are at the end of an era and this darker era that we're currently in, in american politics, depending on how long it is, is going to be defining for the country, i think, over the next few years. >> yeah, yeah. as we look, everybody, at the left of your screen, you're looking at the last of the five children of senator harry reid. you see rory reid there, and again, the three other sons and daughter of harry reid have had really remarkable insights and very emotional stuff. we've been getting word about that. but we wanted to have, of course, the expertise and
insights of former senator carol moseley braun, alaina beverly, geoff bennett and eugene daniels. we expect chuck schumer to join our coverage and that conversation will be shepherded by my friend and colleague, yasmin vossoughian. i'll see you guys tomorrow at noon eastern. ♪♪ welcome, everybody, i'm yasmin vossoughian. thank you for joining us for our continuing coverage of the memorial service. >> former senate majority leader harry reid. we are still expecting to hear shortly from current majority leader charles schumer, house speaker nancy pelosi, and then the eulogy from barack obama and president biden as well. nbc's leigh ann caldwell is in nevada for us for today's service honoring harry reid. i want to go to leigh ann. leigh ann, it's good to see you this afternoon. thanks for joining us on