BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: And good evening once again. Day 1,293 of the Trump administration leaving 91 days to go until the Presidential Election.
Tropical storm Isaias has left the Atlantic coast crumbled in its wake. It landed in the Carolinas during this hour last night as we were on the air. It landed as a full fledged hurricane then swept up into the northeast almost following the I-95 corridor, unleashing powerful winds and heavy punishing rain, including a wind gusts of 109 miles an hour at the Jersey shore, higher winds in New York City than Sandy produced in fact, yet this was not a category four hurricane wasn`t even a category three. In fact, it wasn`t a hurricane anymore when it did all this. And tonight 3 million Americans are without power as the storm sweeps on up into Canada.
And in the middle of all of this came what we`re going to show you today devastating almost hard to believe video of an explosion in the midst of a fire in Beirut.
At least 78 people were killed. Those numbers are changing. However, thousands of people were injured, many of them wounded by debris inside their own homes. The Lebanese government said ammonium nitrate was stored at the explosion site.
Late this afternoon, President Trump weighed in with an assessment of his own that went well beyond that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I`ve met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel that it was, this was not a some kind of a manufacturing explosion type of event. This was a seems to be according to them, they would know better than I would, but they seem to think it was attack. It was a bomb of subcon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Now, it`s been reported that defense officials are now saying there`s no indication of an attack. We`ll have much more on this just ahead.
In this country, there`s no end insight to the health crisis caused by the pandemic cases have not stopped rising, nor have the number of deaths. Cases are on the rise in 32 states right now. Trump made a point of showing the nation that he remains engaged in the pandemic fight sending out these photos of himself with the Coronavirus Task Force including Doctors Fauci and Birx`s meeting in the Oval Office, the only two seen wearing masks over their face there. He did brief our country today as usual, emphasizing how well he thinks his administration is doing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We`re putting out embers. We`re putting out flames. We`ve also dramatically accelerated the availability of plasma therapies, steroid treatments, antivirals and other therapies to treat the illness. Since March 12, we`ve increased daily testing by 32,000%. We do more testing than anybody in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: But the comments that have gotten everybody`s attention are the embarrassing moments that emerged from his interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Right now, I think it`s under control. I`ll tell you what --
JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS REPORTER: How 1000 Americans are dying a day.
TRUMP: They were dying. That`s true. And you have -- it is what it is, but that doesn`t mean we are doing everything we can. It`s under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague that beset us.
SWAN: You really think this as much as we can control a thousand deaths a day?
TRUMP: Well, I`ll tell, I like to know if somebody -- First of all, we have done a great job. We`ve gotten the governors everything they needed because we are so much better at testing than any other country in the world. We show more cases.
SWAN: The figure I look at is death. And death is going up now. It`s 1000 a day.
TRUMP: OK. We`re lower than the world.
SWAN: Lower than the world?
TRUMP: We`re lower than Europe.
SWAN: In what? In what?
TRUMP: Take a look. Right here is case death.
SWAN: Oh, you`re doing death as a proportion of cases. I`m talking about death as a proportion of population. That`s where the U.S. is really bad.
TRUMP: Well --
SWAN: Much worse than South Korea, Germany, et cetera.
TRUMP: You can`t do that.
SWAN: Why can`t I do that?
TRUMP: You have to go by, you have to go by where -- look, here is the United States, you have to go by the cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Now, a chart created from the findings from the folks at Johns Hopkins gives a more accurate picture. The U.S. leads the 10 nations with the highest death tolls. This afternoon in an interview on Fox Business, Trump appeared to be aware that the situation was not improving.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We`ve lost 160,000 people. We`re going to lose more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Two developments reported by the Washington Post, also giving us clues as to the state of things. Seven governors have now banded together to pressure Biotech companies into ramping up production of rapid detection COVID testing. And Dr. Birx has privately come out against Trump`s push to reopen schools because of the current outbreaks across the country. Again, begging questions about what keeps a public health specialist from going public on a matter of public safety other than a fear of being tweeted about perhaps.
Amid all of this, Trump is staying focused on his reelection campaign. Today he revised his effort to discredit voting by mail, posting this, "Whether you call it vote by mail or absentee voting in Florida, the election system is safe and secure, tried and true. So in Florida, I encourage all to request a ballot and vote by mail."
Florida, of course, is a battleground state and happens to be where the President votes by mail. During today`s briefing, he added this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Florida has got a great Republican governor, and it had a great Republican Governor. Got Ron DeSantis, Rick Scott, they`ve been able to get the absentee ballots done extremely professionally. Florida has been working on this for years. Florida`s a very well run state, low taxes, low everything. They`ve done a great job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: The other thing that caught our ear today during Trump`s earlier event to sign a bipartisan conservation bill, a moment that launched 1000 memes on the spot, as the President apparently didn`t recognize the word Yosemite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When young Americans experience the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon, when their eyes widen in amazement as Old Faithful bursts into the sky, when they gaze upon Yosemite`s -- Yosemite`s towering sequoias, their love of country grows stronger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: On that note, here for our leadoff discussion on a Tuesday night, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, Alexi McCammond, Political Reporter for Axios and Errin Haines, a 10 year veteran of the AP where she last covered race and society. These days Editor-at- Large for the 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom focused on gender, politics. It happened to go live this week @19thnews.org.
Good evening and welcome to you all. Peter, because it`s your day to day beat, I`d like to begin with you. President devoted about half the briefing to non-virus topics. On things like Beirut, since the start of the modern era, presidents have had confidential briefings in the Oval Office from the generals as he calls them. They have not made a custom of going to the briefing room and spewing the theories voiced in confidence in the Oval Office as he did today.
Also, he is coming off the positively (inaudible) remark, it is what it is, maybe not the best way to describe a death toll of 150,000 souls.
PETER BAKER, THE NEW YORK TIMES CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it seems like every single day he`s giving his critics ammunition. You know, the Biden campaign, turn that interview. It is what it is into ad and pretty quick fashion, it`s already online.
Because it`s it undermines the President`s argument that he does have this under control. We have, as you put it, 1000 deaths a day, think about that we`ve got 90 days until Election Day that could be another 90,000 deaths. If it keeps it this pace that would be a total of 250,000 deaths this year, an extraordinary number of and something that the President has yet to really grapple with, he has yet to, you know, hold any kind of National Day of Mourning to express in any meaningful way, empathy for the crisis that people are undergoing. In addition to people who have passed away, there are the families who were left behind without them. There are people who have been sick and didn`t die, but suffered enormously from this virus, while some people may have relatively mild cases. A lot of people have pretty, pretty traumatic experiences with this disease. And I think that he has yet to sort of show that he understands that in a human way and it didn`t help himself. I think with that interview.
WILLIAMS: Alexi, we all have our burdens. You guys, of course, at Axios have to now live with Jonathan Swan. I grew up in New Jersey where a local axiom all my life was, it is what it is. And now that axiom has gone global. To Peter`s point, though, the part of Jonathan`s interview that will live in perpetuity now has the President summing it up using that phrase.
ALEXI MCCAMMOND, AXIOS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: You know, public kudos to my colleague, Jonathan Swan, who, you know, it`s just a case study and how to interview the President. But, you know, that was a really damning line from the President himself that really kind of reinforces not just the way the Democrats have been trying to characterize how the President has been mishandling, they say the coronavirus, but what Americans around the country have been watching and sort of getting glimpses up from his daily coronavirus briefings but now sharing from himself this sort of complacency that, you know, to Peter`s point, he`s not really showing any sort of human empathy about the human death toll and cost of lives that has been caused because of this pandemic.
It`s not only being turned into ads, but you know, that`s something that people are going to think about when they also hear President Trump saying things like, well, the virus will just disappear. You know, or in April, he was saying that he wanted the economy to reopen, then it`s all a bit -- but it`s all have been about speed with President Trump and getting over this as quickly as possible without really stopping to acknowledge again, the human toll that this virus has taken and how Americans are feeling which is really scared heading into this election and into the fall when we`re expected to have a second wave while we`re not even done with this first wave.
WILLIAMS: Errin, you`ve covered the intersection of politics and society for a long time. The President seemed to be saying today, mail in balloting is good as long as it`s in Florida where he mails his vote in especially if it`s absentee and not called anything else. But Errin, don`t you think some down ballot Republicans who are up on that same election day as him are realizing that an effort to delegitimize an election hurts both parties at the end of the day?
ERRIN HAINES, THE 19TH EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I think that`s right, Brian. And thank you for your kind words about our launch. You know, I think it was interesting. He was holding up Florida. I don`t think that those of us who have covered, you know, presidential cycles in years past really think of Florida when we think of smooth elections. And so holding them up as kind of the beacon for smooth elections process needed, just I think, again, speaks to raising the specter around voter fraud or somehow a corrupt process to a mail in -- widespread mail-in balloting this November, as well.
You know, I think that what -- the concern is, I mean it continues to raise uncertainty around the pandemic, generally speaking, right? There`s uncertainty around when we`re going to have a vaccine. There`s uncertainty around, you know, when the numbers are going to go back down. And yet the President continues to, you know, not really say that the administration is not responding appropriately. But it`s saying that, you know, if China hadn`t gotten involved in this never would have happened to our country, which really is not the message that Americans are looking to hear, especially if he is encouraging people to go back to work, to go back to school. And I can say, you know, that our -- at our new site @19thnews.org, we are talking about the first female recession in this country where, you know, women are grappling with the impact that this pandemic has had on the economy, which is absolutely political, for a lot of folks and I think that certainly Republicans down ballot are thinking about those issues as well as we head into November.
WILLIAMS: Peter Baker, as Errin reminds us that the backdrop for all of this, of course, is a slow rolling pandemic. For the folks watching tonight who are hurting, who have family members who are hurting, what can we tell them through you is the status of the next relief bill?
BAKER: Yeah, that`s a great question. This is dragged on now, so long that millions of Americans are losing the $600 bump that they had gotten in unemployment relief since the first relief package passed. And now they`re feeling the bite of it. And these are people who may be out of work, who may be soon out of their homes, who may not be able to pay their bills and may not be able to, you know, will struggle to pay other medical bills that might be coming in.
And the negotiations are plodding along without any noticeable progress. There seem to be a little tiny bit of sliver of progress today. The Democrats that came out saying that they have seen some movement by the Republicans. You heard the President as briefing sailing the Democrats for being too obstinate. And they have a deadline coming up. Friday is when the Congress heads off for a month long, you know, recess, that`s a month that people at home can`t live without some sort of understanding what`s going to happen, some sort of relief, some sort of help. So that deadline is coming up fast and furious on them. And I think that it may be one of these things where we always see in the hill, everything comes up to the very last minute. But, you know, there`s not a lot of reported progress at this point is pretty significant gulf between them. And it seems to be ideological and political as much as it is over, you know, basic policy and numbers.
WILLIAMS: Hey, Alexi, because I have total confidence in you, no pressure, but help us answer these two questions. Will there be debates? And who will Joe Biden pick?
MCCAMMOND: I`m so glad you asked about this, Brian. I was thinking about this today and tried to get the Trump campaign to give me an answer about whether or not they`re going to do three debates with Joe Biden because a Trump campaign spokeswoman said during an interview with Fox News that they had confirmed with the debate commission that they will be doing debates but then the campaign refuses to still say whether or not they will do the three that they are -- that they`ve decided.
So, yes, we will see. I`m curious when they will actually start doing debate prep. And then your second question, I`m sorry?
WILLIAMS: Who`s he going to pick?
MCCAMMOND: Oh, that`s unfair. You have to read Axios AM tomorrow morning. Read Axios AM there`ll be some new reporting from my colleague Hans and I about the VP search.
WILLIAMS: OK, colleague and friend of ours at NBC Hans Nichols and as unfair as the question really was your answer is completely fair. And we will -- we will do just that.
Hey, Errin, a bit of a turn in subject here. But I want to play for you what the President told Alexi`s colleague Jonathan, about John Lewis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SWAN: How do you think history will remember John Lewis?
TRUMP: I don`t know. I really don`t know. I don`t know. I don`t know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration. He chose. I don`t -- I never met John Lewis actually, I don`t believe.
SWAN: Do you find him impressive?
TRUMP: I can`t say one way or the other. I find a lot of people impressive. I find many people not impressive, but no. But I didn`t --
SWAN: Do you find his story impressive?
TRUMP: He didn`t come to my inauguration. He didn`t come to my State of the Union speeches. And that`s OK. That`s his right. And, again, nobody has done more --
TRUMP: -- for Americans than I have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Errin, I wanted to ask you this question as a daughter of the State of Georgia I want to remind our audience that John Lewis boycotted the inauguration of Bush-43 who eulogized him at his funeral. So Errin about that last claim and how much this President has done for African Americans. What do you make of that?
HAINES: Well, I have to chime in on this beefsteaks conversation. I mean, I work in a newsroom, focused on women in politics, and I will tell you, Brian, Joe Biden`s going to pick the woman, just so you know.
But on John Lewis, what we know is that John Lewis had a reputation that preceded, you know, Donald Trump`s presidency. You know, for decades, this man built his life, fighting for civil rights, fighting for voting rights. Here we are, on Thursday, celebrating the 55th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, you know what he bled for on that bridge, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
And so, you know, for President Trump to just kind of dismiss Congressman Lewis because he was not at his inauguration or State of the Union speeches, really is to diminish his legacy and that is certainly not being an either or those events are certainly not what Congressman Lewis is going to be remembered for that was certainly not the first line of his obituary. And it`s certainly not the first thing that comes to mind for the many Americans who are very grateful for the sacrifice and continued work that John Lewis gave to this country for more than six decades.
WILLIAMS: We`re grateful to our friends who made up our big three tonight, Peter Baker, Alexi McCammond and with continued congratulations for a great debut, Errin Haines, thank you, three of you very much for starting us off.
Coming up for us, President Trump says there is such a thing as too much testing in the face of a pandemic. We`ll ask a doctor practicing in the Midwest if that`s the situation where he lives and works.
And later, Paul Begala is here to break some furniture and talk about his new book and what he thinks it`ll take for Democrats to fire Donald Trump. All of it as "THE 11TH HOUR" is just getting started on this consequential Tuesday night.
WILLIAMS: Well, we`ve heard Dr. Birx and the President run through the list. Indiana, one of the many states experiencing an increase in new coronavirus cases over just these past several weeks, states been averaging about 800 new cases a day and that`s a lot. For the week ending July 28 the positivity rate in Indiana was 7.3%. But five counties had a positivity rate of over 15% and the county where our next guest practices medicine leads the state at just over 19%.
So without further delay, back with us tonight, Dr. Stephen Sample. He`s an ER doc at Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper, Indiana.
So Doctor, here is your county leading the state in positivity, not the good kind, not opinion poll saying how did you enjoy our county? The kind you don`t want? So the question to you is, given all the conversations you and I had before it got there, what`s it like for you now in the fight?
DR. STEPHEN SAMPLE, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN IN JASPER, INDIANA: Well, we`re number one, right? So hey, Brian, it`s good to see you again. Look, yeah, the numbers are terrible here right now. And the scheme of things this is not New York City, we have to remember that. We`re a small county with about 50,000 or so residents. But our numbers are definitely steadily on the rise. And for the last couple of weeks, we`ve been leading the state in positivity. We`ve ranged from 25% positive test to I think you said 18 today, it varies from day to day, but it`s still not good. When our targets below 5% this just means that we`re in the dark with this virus. We don`t know where it is.
WILLIAMS: Another part of the Trump interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios, I came prepared to play for you in our audience. We`ll talk about it on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know, there are those that say, you can test too much, you do know that, who says that? Oh, just read the manuals, read the books, manuals, read the manual, read the books, what books?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Doctor, did they give you the manuals? Do you have the manuals? And is anyone in your community complaining of the burden of too much testing?
SAMPLE: So I`m glad you asked. I watched that interview just a little bit ago and I actually got an advance copy of the manual. It`s called, How to Rona by Science. And if you open it and you skip past the demon semen and the hydroxychloroquine it`s you get to tell into the tea`s. First you see the take no responsibility. And then you say, if you don`t test, maybe they`ll just forget about it. That`s the manual as far as I can tell.
No, nobody`s complaining about too many tests, Brian, we don`t have enough tests. That`s why we are where we are.
WILLIAMS: Somebody came to play tonight. Hey, on the topic of schools, I know they are starting to reopen in Indiana. How do you feel about it? And as an Indianan, what are you satisfied that protocols are being followed?
SAMPLE: No, I`m not satisfied with anything. You know, over the last months, other than working in the Emergency Department, basically, my life has been, ER Doc, whack a mole with internet trolls and trying to help my friends and family navigate through this illness. And I get phone calls and texts every day. What do I do? Do I send my kid my mom`s sick? Should I go? Nobody really knows.
Our school system is opening next week, as we are the most positive test rate in the state of Indiana. And from what I can tell, there just was an email sent out today. No masks are going to be recommended in class so long as they`re facing forward and three feet apart. So they`ll sit there for 45 minutes and breathe their teenager breath all over each other. So I don`t expect this to be a terribly long school year. I hope I`m wrong, but not optimistic.
WILLIAMS: Final question about your day job and your night job for that matter, when someone presents at the ER with a broken arm from a baseball game or a softball game or head trauma from a car accident, you usually know it when the sliding doors open, but when they present with something more mysterious these days, chest tightness, abdominal pain, whatever it is, do you then -- is there a moment where you pause and get up PPE up and bring in a different protocol for how that patient gets surrounded with medical care?
SAMPLE: Absolutely. So because we are still coveting PPE and hoarding PPE because during the last six months we don`t have enough PPE, we try to be judicious. So certainly everybody has masks and gloves for every patient. But if it even smells like it could be coronavirus, absolutely everybody stops. They go into the hot zone of the emergency department. We put on our ridiculous masks and our goggles and our gowns and our gloves. And we treat everybody like they`re sick because now we have enough people in the county that the broken ankle from the softball game could actually be coronavirus, and you just don`t know where it is. So you have to pretend like it`s everywhere.
WILLIAMS: Well, it`s enough for our viewers to want to schedule all their emergencies for your county because nice people like Dr. Stephen Sample will treat you there if you do, Doc. Thank you as always for your generosity --
SAMPLE: Any time, Brian.
WILLIAMS: -- your time and for coming on the air with us.
Coming up for us, one former presidential adviser says when Donald Trump jokes about being president for life, we would best listen up. Paul Begala and his new guide for beating this incumbent, when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we have a new phenomena. It`s called in -- it`s called mail in voting, where you send where there is no way you can go through a mail in vote without massive cheating. You know, you could have a case where this election will be decided on the evening of November 3rd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s wrong with that?
TRUMP: Absolutely selection was two months later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: While the President continues to undermine the election damaged the legitimacy of mailing voting, our next guest makes this prediction in his brand new book out today, quote, if the voter purges the voter suppression, the misinformation, if all of that still fails, I would not put it past Trump to try to cancel elections themselves. I know that sounds alarmist but you should be alarmed. Trump has clearly and repeatedly stated his desire to be president for a life. He`s not joking, folks. He doesn`t joke.
We see what way too much of our next guest on another network. But we are so lucky to have him with us tonight by dint of this new book he has published and so we welcome to the broadcast. Veteran democratic strategist Paul Begala. The new book out today is "You`re Fired: The Perfect Guide to Beating Donald Trump."
Paul, thank you very much for coming on tonight and we`re happy to help you roll this thing out. It started the first time it entered. My awareness was a Bill Maher theory. He kept saying to his audience and his guests, folks, he`s not going to leave. And I heard others like Michael Moore add to that theory while appearing on Bill Maher.
Then came the theory that he was actually going to monkey with the election date. Then came a rare attack by the President of the United States on the U.S. Postal Service happens to be a heroic group of tens of thousands of veterans, by the way, during a pandemic of all things. I know part of your book as a sermon to your fellow Democrats just how seriously to take these threats. You have the air?
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first, Brian, it`s great to see you again. My old friend, thank you for having me on, you`re very kind to do so.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
BEGALA: They tell me my veteran friends who served at Strategic Air Command that the screensaver on the computers that goes across at Strategic Air Command says, honor every threat. And I think that`s what Americans, not just Democrats have to do that when this President was asked about Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist leader who was made president for life without getting a single vote, because they don`t have a free society. He didn`t say, what JFK or Reagan or Clinton or Obama, any real president would have said. They didn`t say, well, we believe in freedom, we have a better system. He said, Gee, I`d like to try that here.
And in fact, one of the things I found when I was researching the book was in Trump`s first year of office, voters were asked, would you support Trump if he called for suspending the elections and 52 percent of Republicans said yes, that was three years ago.
So I do think is real. Now he doesn`t have the power under our constitution to do that. But he undermined the election that he won falsely claiming that millions of illegal votes were cast in California, which is nonsense. He undermines every check and balance the Free Press, the federal judiciary, the very electoral system as we talked about, so I do think that this guy`s an autocrat wannabe.
And you`re right, Bill Maher gets the credit. He`s the guy`s been -- I`ve been on his show many times. And he was the first one to say that to me in the first year of Trump`s presidency. So, I`m usually skeptical about these things, but I believe that Trump is an autocrat wannabe, he`s certainly not joking. He`s not a jokester.
WILLIAMS: I want to see if you`ll engage in some tough love and I`m going to hit you with some devil`s advocate theories, beliefs and fears about the party you love and you`re a member of and here goes. The theory goes like this. They suck at the fight. They`re not killers. They are purity testers. In fact, they often allow good, great to be the enemy of good.
They are Charlie Brown in a Charlie Manson era. The best ads are being made by the disaffected Republicans. And I myself have already had a quote directed to me on background from inside the Biden campaign saying, in effect, all we got to do is play mistake free baseball here on out, I would posit that`s not the way to get elected Are any of the preceding points true in your view?
BEGALA: Look, I always joke that the definition of a liberal is somebody who`s afraid to take his own side in a fight. But, in the era of Trump, Democrats have gotten their fight back. I think if you look at Nancy Pelosi, who if there`s any hero in this book, it`s Nancy. Pelosi, she has taken the fight to Trump every single day.
And the way to do it though, and I love these ads that the Lincoln Project and other disaffected Republicans are doing. But what I think Democrats pickney (ph) Biden needs to do is take the fight to Trump, not on Trump, not on his character, but on what`s happening to the country that he allegedly leads, right, under his watch.
Last year, we lost 71,000 dead to drug overdoses. We lost 38,000 dead to gun violence. We`ve lost 156,000 dead to COVID. He`s in court right now, trying to cancel the health care for 22 million Americans under Obamacare and take 129 million more Americans who have pre existing condition and allow health insurance companies to take that away from them.
So I do think very much I believe in fighting you covered me long enough to know. But I think what they`ve got to do is make sure that the fight is not on Trump`s terms. That is only talking about Trump. That`s what every narcissist wants, but instead don`t make it about Trump`s life or Trump`s family, make it about yours, make it about the voters. And I think that`s something frankly I got wrong in 2016. I was so distracted by Trump`s sewer level character that I forgot to focus on the implications in the lives of a retiree in Pennsylvania or an office worker in Michigan, and I`m not going to make that mistake again.
WILLIAMS: Every journalist in this country worth his or her salt recognizes what you have and I love being invited into people`s homes. What you have on the shelf behind you as a first edition, foil covered what it takes by the late great Richard Ben Kramer, maybe the best modern work since Theodore White on politics. What would an author like Kramer make of the characters we are seeing today in this campaign?
BEGALA: Wow. In fact, in that book, there`s a terrific mini profile of Joe Biden. It`s just an outstanding. I think it`s the best book about politics, best nonfiction book ever read about politics. You`re right. Terrific profile of Bob Dole in that book. It`s just a wonderful, wonderful book.
And what Richard, God rest his soul, was able to do is get into these guys. It was all guys then. These guys heads. I don`t know that we need that now. We still have Mary Trump`s book, which is an astonishing success. I think we kind of know enough about Trump and what`s in his head.
And I guess I`m not even all that interested in what motivates him. I just want to get to what he has done and what he has failed to do. And the cost of those actions and inactions. I do you think that any reading of politics, I think will tell you that the most important quality certainly I think having worked in the White House, you and I had flashbacks, that last segment when you and Peter Baker were talking, you guys used to make my life hell when I worked in the White House.
The most important thing for a president to have is empathy. You can`t lead a country you don`t love. And Biden has that in abundance and Trump has that not at all, it is the greatest gap on the most important quality that I think I`ve ever seen. And I think that that`s probably where the -- when the era is written about it will be, I think this narcissist in the White House who neglected. He didn`t even defend his own troops when putting put a bounty on their head. I think it`s the worst thing that presidents done in American history. So I think it`s that and I think that Biden`s empathy actually matches up perfectly well with Trump`s narcissism.
WILLIAMS: Ladies and gentlemen, the book can be ordered starting today it is called and we`ll show the cover again, if it was ambiguous behind the author. "You`re Fired: The Perfect Guide to Beating Donald Trump." Our thanks to our friend Paul Begala, we wish you health and safety happy trails. And as always hook them horns. Go get him Paul.
BEGALA: Thank you, Brian. It`s great to see you.
WILLIAMS: Coming up for us, voters in several states did go to the polls today. Steve Kornacki at the big board in New York. If you remember the big board in New York with a primary update of all things, when we come right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATIE HOBBS, ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: We`ve had no excuse absentee voting in Arizona for four decades. So we have a good track record. We know it`s secure. My biggest concern is misinformation. We already knew misinformation was a big thing coming into this election. And, you know, the additional misinformation about vote by mail is kind of another layer on top of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Well, we knew it was coming and now it`s here how the pandemic and politics are straining the voting process. We can see it play out every day. Arizona was one of five states to hold primaries today. Did you know that? Who better to run us through what we need to know so far? But our friend Steve Kornacki, who`s back at the big board tonight and Steve, we desperately need you to kind of reset what you and I would normally be talking about non-stop, where are our politics as of tonight.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this would be a big one. Normally what`s happens night here in Kansas, in particular, a big republican primary for the United States Senate, they could have significant implications for the general election battle for control of the Senate.
Let me take you through what happened here. This is the Republican primary. And you see here the winner here, Roger Marshall, Congressman Roger Marshall. Why is this so significant, because look who he defeated tonight in the Republican primary in Kansas, Kris Kobach, the controversial former Secretary of State. Kobach had run for governor in Kansas a few years ago, he lost that race and that was the key.
Kobach had a real chance to win this primary become the Republican nominee for Senate in Kansas. And Democrats believe that if Kobach could win this primary that they the Democrats could get this seat in November. Democrats were so convinced of that possibility. They put money here trying to prop up Kobach in this primary, while national Republicans put money behind Roger Marshall trying to get him across the finish line. It has been 88 years. Nearly a century since Democrats won a Senate race in Kansas. They were hoping Kobach would win this thing. But Marshall has come through. He`s won this primary tonight. He will be the Republican nominee in Kansas. He will face Barbara Bollier is renamed the Democratic nominee.
Again, she still has plenty of money here. She`ll still put a campaign forward here. We will see what happens. But the real hope for Democrats tonight was that she would be facing off against Kobach and that this seat in deep red, Kansas could be in play in November, with Roger Marshall winning that nomination. I could tell you Republicans in Washington, Mitch McConnell in particular, breathing a big sigh of relief with that result from Kansas tonight.
Also a primary in Arizona tonight. Not a surprise here. Martha McSalley, the appointed Republican incumbent in Arizona winning that primary she will face off she`s got an uphill fight here. That`s what the polls say right now. She`s trying to defend that seat. Democrat Mark Kelly is who she will face in November. The polling has consistently put Kelly ahead in this race. So McSalley trying to defend that seat. If she fails, Democrats flip it. Democrats get a gain in Arizona, if they can knock off Martha McSalley.
Also news from Kansas tonight. Steve Watkins, he`s a Republican member of Congress looks like he has been defeated. In his primary all sorts of scandals around Watkins looks like he has lost in a Republican primary.
Michigan we`re keeping an eye on this one Rashida Tlaib. She`s got a primary challenge from the city council president in Detroit. You see an early big lead here for Tlaib, not a lot of votes, all that sort of absentee ballots yet to be counted. We will see what happens there. One other piece of news.
This is not a primary that took place today, not a primary that took place this month. This is a primary that took place at the end of June for United States House of Representatives congressional primary in New York, but Carolyn Maloney tonight, was finally certified the winner of that race by the board of elections in New York. It took them forever to get all these ballots counted. There are still some legal questions there about what exactly will be counted. But the board of election says that Carolyn Maloney, longtime member of Congress there has survived for a primary challenge again, that actually took place in June. Welcome to voting in the age of the pandemic.
WILLIAMS: President said yesterday`s you just rerun the race. I guess they didn`t follow his advice. Steve, that`s exactly what I missed. Someday we`ll be back together in the studio. Steve Kornacki, our man at the big board. Thanks.
Coming up for us, questions tonight about what caused that devastating blast in Beirut. More on that when we come back.
WILLIAMS: The video is strangely fascinating and also absolutely tragic. One of the greatest explosions you will witness outside of warfare. Early theories were perhaps it was liquefied natural gas or weapons storage. You heard our own president`s theory about what happened.
The Lebanese Prime Minister says over 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate left to unsecured in a warehouse for years. That appears to be the cause of the deadly explosions in Beirut today. People were killed just walking on the street. People were wounded in their homes far from the blast scene. The Premiere has vowed to punish those responsible. NBC News correspondent Bill Neely brings us the latest in his story tonight.
BILL NEELY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Extraordinary images tonight of deadly explosions felt by millions in Lebanon. Blasts shook a city and injured thousands. This was the first coming just after six in the evening at Beirut`s main port, sending up a plume of thick smoke beneath it fires raging and flashes of light filmed by nearby residents.
None of them could have guessed what would happen next. A second massive explosion that some described as like an earthquake, a mushroom cloud of debris and sea water blasted into the air. That destination was hurt 200 miles away in at least two other countries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw something flash and I put it here anymore. It was raining glass all over the city of Beirut.
NEELY: On the ground doesn`t lay dead. Lebanon`s health minister says almost 3,000 people have been injured. The port area destroyed. But what caused it? Officials tonight say a warehouse has for years been filled with dangerous explosive chemicals.
Warnings about the dangers they say ignored. Beirut so often a battleground in war resembling a war zone tonight.
(on camera): This is a national disaster for Lebanon. Tomorrow a day of national mourning and have many questions. If this was a warehouse for dangerous chemicals, were the explosions accidental or sabotage.
WILLIAMS: Our thanks to Bill Neely for that report tonight.
Coming up for us, part of our occasional series of reports here to remind everyone watching that elections have consequences.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is the 2020 census? Every 10 years the census records everyone living in this country. It`s written in the constitution and comes with a questionnaire that counts everyone who lives at your address on April 1. The data can be used to inform funding for services like fire stations, schools, clinics and representation that affect your community. Shift your future start here, visit 2020 census.gov.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: So that is the topic of the last thing before we go here tonight part of our occasional series of reminders and reports that elections have consequences. We`ll let the New York Times tell the story of what`s happening to your census. The headline reads, with census count finishing early fears of a skewed tally rise and the story starts this way. With the Trump administration`s decision to end the 2020 census count four weeks early, the Census Bureau now has to accomplish what officials have said it cannot do accurately count the nation`s hardest-to-reach residents -- nearly four out of every 10 households in just six weeks.
On Tuesday, four former directors of the Census Bureau issued a statement warning that an earlier deadline would, quote, result in seriously incomplete enumerations in many areas across our country. They urge the administration to restore the last weeks.
Now they go on at the times to report that 63 percent of us have already voluntarily taken part in the census. They on to the report that like other things that Trump does to protect the GOP political base, like delegitimizing mail in voting. This can also hurt the Republicans when they stop and think about it. So we submit the story to you tonight again, because elections have consequences.
That is our broadcast on this Tuesday evening. Thank you so very much for being here with us. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END