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Harry Reid doesn’t pull punches in wide-ranging interview

Harry Reid doesn’t pull punches in wide-ranging interview

Throughout his 30 years in the Senate, former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid was revered by Democrats and reviled by Republicans.

The 79-year-old Reid, a former newbie light-weight boxer, stays pugilistic and doesn’t pull any punches when requested concerning the present state of affairs in Washington.

Reid stated Republican pushback from the longest authorities shutdown in U.S. historical past will pressure President Donald Trump to simply accept a bipartisan settlement or declare a nationwide emergency to fund a border wall.

Reid additionally stated Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., ought to have moved earlier to finish the 35-day partial authorities closure that value the nation greater than $three billion.

Regardless of earlier approval, McConnell refused to place a invoice on the Senate flooring for a vote after Trump waged a protest and closed the federal government as a result of stopgap laws didn’t embrace $5.7 billion for development of a border wall he had as soon as claimed Mexico would finance.

“He should have moved forward on it,” Reid stated of McConnell. “It was his bill.”

The feedback got here throughout a wide-ranging interview from his government workplace in the Bellagio on the Las Vegas Strip.

Reid informed the Assessment-Journal that Trump has broken the Republican model, prompting a GOP backlash, claims the Nevada caucus is pivotal in choosing the subsequent Democratic presidential nominee and that opposition to Yucca Mountain improvement might be a litmus check for candidates.

“Absolutely,” Reid declared.

The previous lawmaker, who held the titles of Senate majority and minority chief as head of the Democratic caucus throughout that period, additionally spoke fondly of his associations with former President Barack Obama, present and former state officers, Grateful Lifeless drummer Mickey Hart and Bryce Harper, the free agent Main League Baseball slugger.

Whereas in the Senate, Reid locked horns with McConnell, who as soon as claimed Reid had a “Jekyll and Hyde” character. He referred to as former President George W. Bush a liar, and falsely accused 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney of not paying taxes.

In 2017, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, advised Politico that he blamed Reid for “poisoning the atmosphere” in the Senate.

Reid stated he was lucky to be a pacesetter and all the time tried to do the perfect for his Democratic caucus. And he famous the GOP opposition to Obama and his agenda throughout his first time period when Democrats handed the Reasonably priced Care Act, and Reid modified Senate filibuster guidelines to fill judicial vacancies.

“Certainly, I was far from perfect,” he admitted, “but I think we did a pretty good job.”

Since then, McConnell once more has modified filibuster guidelines, permitting Republicans to seat two Supreme Courtroom justices.

“They had the right to change the rules just as I did,” Reid stated, however he stated GOP opposition that blocked the Obama nomination of Appellate Decide Merrick Garland for a Supreme Courtroom emptiness for almost a yr was mistaken.

“That has nothing to do with rule changes,” Reid stated. That needed to do with partisanship “and in a very bad way.”

What Reid now fears is that the system turns into so dysfunctional that authorities shutdowns grow to be commonplace as a device for legislating. There have been three shutdowns final yr alone, together with one prompted by Democrats over deportation safety for childhood immigrants.

A bicameral, bipartisan committee has till Friday to craft laws on border safety that Trump, Senate Republicans and Home Democrats will settle for in order to keep away from one other shutdown.

“I’m afraid that Trump is going to declare a national emergency for his wall and that will be tied up in the courts,” Reid stated.

That transfer would permit Trump to fulfill his conservative critics, like commentators Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, Reid stated. These critics prompted Trump to close down the federal government in December, a stalemate that lasted by way of January.

As for an additional shutdown, Reid stated, “I don’t believe the Republicans would allow him to do it again. He has hurt the Republican brand.”

McConnell, Reid stated, ought to have ended the shutdown earlier with a unbroken decision to fund the federal government whereas negotiations continued, defying the president who threatened a veto.

“It’s pretty hard to be someone who is the prime mover of the legislation, especially when you are the leader, and you decide not to have a vote on it,” Reid stated. “That’s pretty hard to sell.”

McConnell’s workplace didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

The White Home has repeatedly declined to answer Reid feedback essential of the president.

Reid stated the Structure establishes three separate and equal branches of presidency. “The Senate does not work for the president. It works with the president.”

“You disagree on occasion, which I did, with the White House. I tried my best to make the Democrat in the White House to look as best as possible and I tried not to humiliate the Republican who was in the White House, but I repeat, the Senate does not work for the president, you work with the president,” Reid stated.

Most cancers analysis

The previous Nevada senator retired from the Senate in 2017 and was recognized final yr with pancreatic most cancers. He lives with spouse, Landra, in Henderson, however maintains an workplace on the Bellagio in Las Vegas the place he attends to affairs.

On the wall is an image of Pyramid Lake, the most important in Nevada, a framed license plate, Nev 2, from when he was lieutenant governor 49 years in the past, and a signed letter from Donald Trump dated Nov. eight, 2010: “Dear Harry, Congratulations — you are amazing.”

The letter, written eight years in the past, prompts a chortle from Reid who remained seated throughout a one-hour interview in his workplace, with a wheelchair close by.

Reid’s Senate profession ended following an accident with an train machine in 2015, which he claimed malfunctioned, and left him blind in his proper eye. Reid didn’t search re-election in 2016, ending a 30-year profession in the Senate.

Reid stated he was “really doing well, cancer-wise,” however has hassle with mobility and depth notion. He stated he hasn’t been “behind the wheel” of a car in 25 years.

“You are lucky I’m not driving,” he stated.

Grateful Lifeless live shows

Since leaving the Senate, Reid stated he stays busy with podcasts, 19 grandchildren and stays up on present occasions, sports activities and music.

A satellite tv for pc radio program lately talked about Grateful Lifeless live shows in the nation’s capital, and the celebrities and politicians who confirmed up backstage for these raucous occasions in 1990s. One of many politico sightings was Reid.

Reid glowingly stated he collected the signature of the late guitarist Jerry Garcia, and stays in contact with drummer Mickey Hart, who appeared in the Home gallery final month as a visitor of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for the swearing in of the 116th Congress.

Reid stated he struck up a friendship with Hart following a Senate committee listening to the place he was referred to as to testify many years in the past.

“I still keep in touch with Mickey Hart, the drummer,” Reid stated. “He’s hard to talk to because he is so deaf because of his rock and roll stuff.”

2020 Nevada caucus

As all political eyes flip towards the 2020 presidential race, the place Trump is elevating tens of millions to fend off a main battle and run for re-election, Democrats in search of their get together’s nomination are reaching out to Reid, nonetheless thought-about a political godfather in Nevada and head of a machine that has proved itself in the previous two cycles.

It was Reid who lobbied for and engineered the transfer in 2008 to place Nevada behind Iowa and New Hampshire, together with South Carolina, as one of many first presidential main and caucus states.

Reid stated he didn’t do it for a candidate, or the Democratic Social gathering.

“Back then we were really small. I thought it would be good for the state,” he stated. “It has been tremendous for the state.”

A number of Democratic candidates and potential hopefuls have reached out to Reid: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s a pal, and most just lately Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who referred to as him final week.

The massive and rising area of candidates is “good and healthy,” he stated, including that he’s not planning to endorse, however will advise these looking for the nomination.

Reid stated he’s telling candidates they “don’t have to campaign on how bad Trump is, everybody knows that.”

“Even Republicans know he has a few faults,” Reid stated.

The dialogue, he stated, ought to middle on the supply of well being care and the skyrocketing prices of upper schooling which might be financially crippling college students.

Reid stated the argument that Democrats are veering far to the left is overstated, and he famous that the current Home takeover beneath Pelosi consists of a variety of moderates who picked off Republican seats.

He stated there’s nothing outrageous about “dynamic new politicians talking about doing things that have not been done before.” Nevertheless, he stated he’s lately warned Democrats concerning the sabre-rattling on impeachment.

All politics is native

Reid refused to wade into the scandals swirling across the Virginia statehouse involving Gov. Ralph Northam, whose school yearbook confirmed an image of a person dressed in blackface and one other in a Ku Klux Klan gown.

“It would be somewhat piling on,” Reid stated of the quite a few requires Northam to step down. “He’s going to have to decide that personally.”

Reid additionally stated it was “up to the people of Virginia to say.”

He additionally brushed apart a Trump declare this previous week that former Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican, misplaced to Democrat Jackie Rosen as a result of he had been disloyal and imply to the president.

Reid helped clear the trail for Rosen to run for the U.S. Home in 2016, which led to her profitable 2018 Senate election on a blue wave that despatched a historic variety of ladies to Congress.

“She is a natural. People just like her,” Reid stated of Rosen. “I think she won because of her soft-sell, terrific presentation.”

Reid additionally stated he has talked with Heller, a “good guy,” and his spouse, Lynne, because the election.

Trump’s tackle the race is simply extra “falsehoods and exaggerations” by the president, Reid stated.

“Maybe I should be gloating that he has damaged the Republican Party, but I don’t think that it’s good for the country,” Reid stated.

Contact Gary Martin at [email protected] or 202-662-7390. Comply with @garymartindc on Twitter.