Biden victory TRANSCRIPT: 7/6/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Tiffany Cross, Errin Haines, Barbara Boxer, Eric Swalwell, Keisha Lance Bottoms

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I`m Joy Reid in New York.

And while most Americans were staying home over the holiday weekend, social distancing and finding unique ways to celebrate America`s independence, like watching -- wishing Malia Obama a happy birthday, or remembering the great TV painter Bob Ross, or rereading Frederick Douglass` iconic essay "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" or getting in a tiny, tiny backyard barbecue just with the people that you`re quarantined with, Donald Trump spent the Independence Day weekend wallowing, wallowing in dark warnings to Americans about the dangers of a new far left fascism that he claimed would wipe out the nation`s values and culture.

He barely mentioned the coronavirus that has already infected nearly three million Americans and killed roughly 130,000, meaning the pandemic is the thing that actually threatens the country.

And why does it matter that Trump doesn`t care about coronavirus and consistently sends the message that it will just disappear or that Americans just need to learn to live with it?

Well, because Donald Trump may not be the president of the entire country or even seem to want to be, but he is all but the king of his base. And as he does, they tend to follow.

Thousands of people packed beaches, such as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina -- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Clearwater, Florida, looking for a distraction, case in point.

This comes as an exploding surge of cases is taking place in several states. Confirmed cases are rising in 41 out of 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, and the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus is increasing in 39 states.

On Saturday, Texas health officials announced more than 8,000 new cases. Florida hit a record number, with more than 11,000. Now, these numbers were the highest single-day totals for both states.

Doctors in Texas in Arizona are warning that they are coming dangerously close to running out of ICU beds.

On Saturday in front of a sparse crowd at the White House, meanwhile, Donald Trump just dismissed this surge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There were no tests for a new virus. But now we have tested almost 40 million people.

By so doing, we show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: And then Trump spent the rest of his weekend golfing.

Behind the scenes, sources tell "The Washington Post" that Trump wants to avoid the topic of the coronavirus, because he views it as a political loser, and that White House officials also hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and just learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day.

For more, I`m joined by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who, moments ago, announced on Twitter that she too has tested -- tested positive for the coronavirus.

I`m also joined by former Senator Barbara Boxer, host of "The " podcast, and Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, associate professor of infectious diseases at Boston University Medical School.

And, Madam Mayor, that was a dramatic announcement. We just saw it on Twitter. I just retweeted it.

Please tell us when your diagnosis came down. And what do you think were -- was the background behind it? Because I assume that you, as somebody who has presided over a city that has faced this virus down, were taking really serious precautions.

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), MAYOR OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA: I have been, Joy.

And thank you for having me.

I am -- and I`m processing this, all of this. I just received my results. My husband literally has been sleeping since Thursday, which is just not like him.

So, I decided that we should all get tested again. We were tested about two weeks ago. We were all negative. And our results came back positive today.

And it`s a shock, because what I have seen with him is not out of the ordinary for seasonal allergies, which are just about year-round allergies in Atlanta.

It`s -- leaves me for a loss of words, because I think it really speaks to how contagious this virus is. And we have taken all of the precautions that you can possibly take. We wear masks. We`re very thoughtful about washing our hands.

I have no idea when and where we were exposed.

REID: And how are you feeling, and how is your husband feeling?

BOTTOMS: Well, like I said, he`s been sleeping a lot. That really has been the only unusual thing about him.

I feel fine. I suffer from allergies. So, aside from just a mild cough and a headache -- and there`s been a lot going on in our city, so enough to give you a headache -- I have not had any symptoms, anything, aside from the fact that my husband`s been sleeping so much, that would have made me think to even get tested.

REID: And, Dr. Bhadelia, this is, I think -- I think a really important kind of marker, to show that even somebody with as much responsibility and who has done such a good job of leading in this nightmarish pandemic, can also be victimized by coronavirus.

I`m noting that, in "The Washington Post," they noted that African- Americans, at least one in three know someone who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. African-Americans are much more likely to know somebody that has been diagnosed with coronavirus.

And African-Americans and Latinos face the highest incidents of coronavirus cases. Out of 10,000 people, it`s 23 among white Americans vs. double that almost, 62 among black Americans, 73 among Latino Americans.

Can you just speak to this just for a moment? Because it does feel like, in a lot of ways, this horror is visiting communities of color, indigenous populations as well, just so much harder.

DR. NAHID BHADELIA, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: That`s right, Joy.

And thanks for having me.

And, Mayor Bottoms, my best wishes for your speedy recovery and the recovery of your family.

And you might have also seen, Joy, in addition to this data, "The New York Times"` article that -- today that was released that gave a more complete information about the distribution and burden of this disease among different minorities in our country.

And what they found is, Hispanics and African-Americans are three times as likely to get infected and two times as likely to die from this disease. And it`s multifactorial.

It is really -- you and I, when we last talked about this, I said to you, pandemics attack us at our fault lines. Well, they also attack those, they prey on those that we leave out in the dark and don`t protect.

And the multifactorial story that "The New York Times"` piece sort of talks about today is that 40 percent of African-American and Hispanic Americans are part of service industry that are -- that are front lines, that can`t work from home. And many of those jobs didn`t have the personal protective equipment or weren`t protected as well as they should have been and were forced out a lot more quickly, before we were ready to provide that kind of protection.

You also have not just -- there`s no biological basis that we have discovered that explains this. It is access to care. It is -- it is potentially, at some baseline, comorbidity, the impact of medical conditions there might have impacted it.

But a huge part is that minority populations are getting infected, have greater opportunity of getting infected, because where they are, where they live, and their access to health care.

REID: Yes.

And, you know, Barbara Boxer, former senator, it strikes me that Donald Trump is delivering this message that, don`t worry about this, just don`t care about it, to a base that is 90 percent white. That is who his base is. He has a strong base among white voters without a college degree.

And that`s pretty much who his base is. And so when he`s delivering a message saying, don`t care about this, and then you`re seeing all these videos of people who look like members of his base walking into stores and refusing to wear a mask, refusing to be inside, going to beaches, yelling and screaming at reporters who try to talk to them, and being belligerent about the idea that they`re not going to do a darn thing to stop this virus from spreading, that is really felt and read within communities of color in a very particular way, as saying, we don`t care that you all are the ones who are dying.

And I think when you see the mayor of Atlanta is now facing this, it just - - it -- I guess it just brings it home even more for a lot of people.

Your thoughts on this?

BARBARA BOXER (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: My first thought is, Mayor, we need you badly out there, so get well. And I wish you nothing but a quick recovery, you and your husband and family.

Listen, Donald Trump every day is nurturing his base. And that base is getting smaller and smaller and smaller. And, Joy, even though we all know who is taking the brunt of this, and there`s so many reasons -- and we know what they are, people who have to work every day, who don`t have the ability to work from home, people who have underlying conditions, they don`t have good health care -- all this adds up.

But I have news for Donald Trump. He`s killing off some of his base, too, believe me. I have seen case after case where you know this is happening. It`s happening even in his own circle, where they are getting sick.

And for this president to say, oh, 99 percent is nothing, this is nothing, this is nothing, belies the facts. The facts are the facts.

More people in America of every background have died of this coronavirus than we lost in three wars, really, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq. And those wars brought our country to its knees, because we hurt so much for the people who were losing their loved ones.

This man is delusional. He is dangerous. And I want to put it in the most stark terms. And that is, he`s really killing us, because remember when he was peddling these drugs that didn`t work, and then he said, inject yourself with chlorine? And a couple of his people did it, by the way. One died, actually.

And everything he`s doing, the whole mask fiasco, this is our only prevention, as the doctor will tell us, at the moment.

And I will just bring it -- I will close with this. I think a lot about the AIDS crisis, because I was a young woman, and I was in the House, and I represented San Francisco in those years.

And I had to say a word that was embarrassing, and it was condom. I had to say, to save your life, use a condom. It was hard. I said it.

What is so hard about saying, wear a mask?

REID: Yes.

BOXER: Because it`s the only prevention we have. So, he`s killing people. And that`s a fact.

REID: Well, and, you know, Dr. Bhadelia, that is a really good point.

I have had friends who are HIV-positive who have made this point, that it reminds them as well of Ronald Reagan refusing to speak to the AIDS crisis in the early days, because it was affecting a particular community that was not his community, his constituency.

And aren`t -- isn`t it true that Donald Trump is also wrong about this? He`s almost making it sound like, if you are a white Christian conservative, you can`t get coronavirus, that this is only affecting people of color, it`s only affecting black and brown and indigenous people, and so his base doesn`t need to worry about it.

But that is not true. If you could just make -- I mean, is that true? Is there something about black and brown and indigenous people that make them more likely to get this?

BHADELIA: No.

Aside from structural racism, and lack of ability to access -- less opportunities to access good quality of care at a baseline, there is nothing different. And you can say that there`s this intersection between economic inequality and health inequality that sort of this virus takes advantage of.

And it does -- in that way, it doesn`t see what color it is. And, as Senator Boxer just said, we have over 130,000 Americans who are dead from this disease of every community, of every stripe.

And what we know is that, if we started wearing masks today -- the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation says that, if we started wearing masks today, 95 percent of us started wearing masks today, we would save about 3,300 fellow Americans between now and October alone of every community.

When you don`t follow those public health measures, it`s really the people you live around, your neighbors, your family members, your friends, that are most likely to be at risk, not somebody in a community far away that you don`t identify, but it`s people that are in your communities that get sick.

REID: Yes.

And so, Mayor Bottoms, I wonder if you could just talk to us, talk us through how you then go on continuing leading your city. I mean, obviously, you have a lot on your plate. You just gave a very moving presentation with the family of a young child who was killed.

We still have gun violence in this country. That is still happening. You`re still dealing with that in your community.

So, just walk us through how you go forward, also dealing with this with yourself and your husband and your family.

BOTTOMS: Joy, like so many people, I -- I immediately began doing the necessary thing. I even reached out to Secoriea`s parents, or someone from my team did, to let them know, because I was with them on yesterday.

And I will be in one place, in my home office, for the next two weeks, and praying that the rest of my family is healthy. I have -- I have talked about my kids before. So, they, of course, are a concern. And I was even with my mother on yesterday.

And so, I mean, this is -- this is startling for me, because we have been so very careful. But, certainly, we are not immune. And, again, this is just a lesson to everyone that you have to take every single symptom seriously.

And, as I see this growing list of symptoms, you can`t assume that it`s seasonal allergies.

REID: Yes.

BOTTOMS: You can`t assume that a mild cough are your seasonal allergies.

We all need to be tested, and, in my case, tested regularly, because, like I said, this is probably my second test in within a month. I was tested right after the funeral for Rayshard Brooks, because I was in a large crowd, and then tested again. And now I have tested positive.

REID: And can you just talk about some of the availability of testing?

Because that was a big problem in the early days of this pandemic. It was not that easy to get a test. I can remember, being here in New York, and not being able to figure out how to get a test, and then being in the DMV area and not being able to figure out how to get a test, even though we had a colleague here that also passed, unfortunately, a friend of mine who was a sound guy here at NBC.

So, even knowing somebody and having been near that person, that didn`t make it easy enough to get a test.

How easy is it right now in the city of Atlanta to get tested, if you`re not Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms?

BOTTOMS: Well, you can get the testing. The challenge is the results.

I had a test done. This is actually my third test. I had a test done last Monday that I still haven`t gotten the results back from, because it`s such a backlog.

So, we have testing sites set up throughout the city. But, again, an important part of managing COVID-19 and containing COVID-19 is the contact tracing.

REID: Yes.

BOTTOMS: So, in my situation, I got a test last Monday, just a routine -- a routine test, because I said I would started getting tested regularly.

And I was out yesterday doing -- doing a press conference with 50 family members and press. And my test came back. I got -- was able to get a rapid test today.

And so we have to do better, if we are going to get to the other side of COVID-19. We keep making the same mistakes over and over again. And this is why we keep getting the same results over and over again. This is why our numbers are going up so high.

REID: Yes.

And, Dr. Bhadelia, that is what it feels like, that we have been locked in this vicious cycle of testing not being quite available, the president and some governors refusing to take seriously the threat of coronavirus. Then people get sick. Then people reopen.

And it`s just -- it`s a cycle that doesn`t seem to be ending. I don`t see how this ends. No one is safe from this, obviously, from what the mayor is going through right now. But I don`t see an end to it, because, in her state, the governor is acting in contravention to what she`s been trying to do to keep her city safe.

How does this end?

BHADELIA: Well, Joy, you know, I agree with you.

And it is so frustrating to see this, because you`re seeing this sort of play out. And, at some point, numbers don`t make sense to the human brain, when you -- when you talk about the number of people that might be affected with this, if we let the floodgates open, the number of people, which is why it seems like some quarters of our politicians, some areas want to just let everybody just live their lives.

We`re not going to achieve herd immunity, because not enough of us have gotten sick to achieve that. And we don`t even know how long immunity lasts. And so we`re just pushing our health systems to this level, this level of being overwhelmed.

One way that -- I saw the former CDC director this weekend comment on the fact that one way that we can talk about getting together among states is this consortium among states and governors, bipartisan states and governors, and coming up with a strategy, because what happens in Sunbelt states affects us here in the Northeast.

When you guys run out of -- when you guys have a large demand for tests down there, Mayor Bottoms, the reagents are part of the same pool that we pull from. So, we start feeling shortages. When you pull from PPE, we start seeing shortages here.

We need to have a national strategy. And it doesn`t seem like the federal government is willing to do that. And so we need to have some sort of consortium among governors, among local bipartisan sort of gathering of politicians.

REID: Or cities.

This is insane. This is a modern country in the 21st century, and we can`t get ourselves together to have a national strategy to make sure that we rein in coronavirus. New York managed to do it, and no one learned from it. No other state really learned from it, hardly ever.

I mean, this is really insane that we are in this place. And you have to have a national strategy to make it work. Really insane.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, we wish you and your family well. Please get well soon. Please keep us posted on how you`re doing. Thank you so much for taking the time, particularly given the circumstances, to be here tonight.

And, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, former Senator Barbara Boxer, thank you all very much. You all stay safe.

Coming up: Two things have not changed. One, Russia is still actively trying to interfere in our democracy, of course, and, two, Donald Trump is ignoring the threat, hoping that they help him a second time.

Plus: Trump continues to campaign on racial division today, bashing the only black NASCAR driver, because that should help.

We have got so much more to get to. Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): And did you think that this was a single attempt by the Russians to get involved in our election, or did you find evidence to suggest they will try to do this again?

ROBERT MUELLER, RUSSIA PROBE SPECIAL COUNSEL: No, it wasn`t a single attempt. They`re doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: That dire warning from Robert Mueller should have put the U.S. government on full alert.

Instead, the Trump administration and congressional Republicans have seemed to shrug off the fact that, having succeeded beyond their wildest dreams in 2016, Russia has put the 2020 election in their crosshairs.

In an ominous new report in "The Atlantic," Franklin Foer writes that: "Russia`s interference in 2016 might be remembered as the experimental prelude that foreshadowed the attack of 2020."

He reports that, when it comes to our election security: "Many of the warnings have gone unheated. And what fortifications have been built appear inadequate."

That`s in large part thanks to Trump, who was not just ignored Russian interference. He has been hostile to even hearing about it, even as Russia`s behavior has only gotten worse, including apparently putting cash bounties on American troops.

As "The New York Times" reported last year, former Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said any discussion of Russia`s malign election activity is not a good subject and should be kept below Trump`s level.

More recently, "The Times" reported that Trump berated his former director of national intelligence for allowing Congress to be told that Russia favors his reelection.

Now, needless to say, it`s a disturbing pattern that leaves us more vulnerable, you would hate to think by design. As Foer concludes his piece in "The Atlantic": "A democracy can`t defend itself if it can`t honestly describe the attacks against it."

I`m joined now by Congressman Eric Swalwell well of the House Intelligence Committee, and author of "Endgame: Inside the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump," and Malcolm Nance, MSNBC terrorism analyst and the author of the upcoming book "The Plot to Betray America." Well, it`s not upcoming. It`s the book "The Plot to Betray America."

I`m going to start with you, Malcolm. Then I`m going to go to the Congress -- the member -- congressman, because you and I have been -- we are now in, what, year five of this conversation about Russian interference in the election of 2016.

What Franklin Foer is describing in his "Atlantic" piece is that that almost seems like a test for what they are going to try to do or can do, if they wanted to do, in 2020.

How worried are you, given how right you were about the threat in 2016, about that threat in 2020?

MALCOLM NANCE, NBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I`m extremely worried.

And I was so worried that I wrote an entire book about it two years ago. And we have been discussing this on MSNBC, as you said, going on full-time for years.

The thing about Russia as a strategic adversary against the United States is that they are going to always test the boundaries of what we think our defenses are and what their offensive capabilities are, in this case, using asymmetric warfare or active measures.

That is, going out and doing a direct attack on American democracy. And then, of course, you step back, and you watch to see what the response from your opponent is. The response from the United States has been this: We approve of what you do. We`re not going to do anything of what you -- punish you for anything that you have done.

And if, in fact, you do it again, and it is in my benefit, as the Mueller report said about the Trump campaign, we will even assist you and call for your interference.

That, of course, doesn`t -- for anyone who`s in the intelligence community on the opponent`s side, it`s a whistle that allows for them to do anything that they want, knowing there will be no consequence if their preferred candidate, Donald Trump, is elected, which leaves us wholly and utterly defenseless, except for maybe a few elements at the National Security Agency, the CIA, and Department of Homeland Security.

But the rest of the nation, they`re on their own.

REID: And the problem I think, Representative Swalwell, is, it`s not just Trump. It doesn`t -- Mitch McConnell got nicknamed Moscow Mitch because he too seems to look around and go, Russia, what`s that?

Whenever he`s presented with an opportunity to put a bill on the floor that could protect our elections, he`s like, I`m not doing that.

And we do know that Russia also looked below the presidential line and thought, well, maybe those people could use some assistance too. I mean, the reality is the Republican Party overall doesn`t seem interested in doing anything about this.

So let me read a little bit for you from Franklin Foer`s article.

He writes: "The Russians have learned much about American weaknesses. Having probed state voting systems for more -- far more extensively than is generally understood by the public, they are now surely more capable of mayhem on Election Day. Given the fragility of American democracy, even the tiniest interference or hint of interference could undermine faith in the tally of the vote."

So, it`s not just that what they do. It`s what people think they`re going to do. And I think one of the big worries is that that will actually suppress the vote, that people will think, well, my vote isn`t going to count, I shouldn`t bother.

And that is a big fear, because people want to vote. What is the Democratic Party doing to ensure that not only is the election safe, but that people feel it`s safe, so that they feel confident going out and voting?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Thank you, Joy.

Nice to see you, Malcolm.

First and foremost, it`s overwhelm the ballot box on the issues that people care about, especially on health care, but a submarine mission below the surface, in the courts, at the county registrars` offices to make sure that we`re preventing suppression, making sure that they have hardened election security systems.

But you pointed it out, Joy. If we are talking about suppression of the vote, that actually has the effect of suppressing the vote. And the Republicans know that.

Now, Russia, as that article points out, they look at our elections like an open speedway, because there`s no stop sign, there`s no stoplight, and there`s not many cops on the beat right now.

And so what we`re trying to do, in the HEROES Act and the COVID relief packages that we have passed, is to have the Republicans welcome the election security funding that we`re putting in place, allowing people to vote from home, having an increase in the election security protections that we have passed in the House that states could apply for.

But, Joy, what`s so concerning, and you pointed it out, they have, on the Senate side, stripped those out of relief packages, and, just last week, we wrote a duty to report, saying that, if you are a campaign and you`re contacted by an agent of a foreign power, you have to tell the FBI, or the same for a social media company.

And Senator Rubio took that out of the intelligence bill. So that`s what we`re up against right now.

REID: Yes, I mean, and, Malcolm, that`s the problem, right?

If Republicans are open to it, as open as Trump is, it`s very difficult to do anything about it. So what can Americans do to make sure that their ballot is secure, to the extent that they can?

NANCE: Well, first, the single most important thing you can do is to actually vote. And, if possible, vote ahead of time.

Try to get an absentee ballot. Try to get a provisional ballot, some -- anything other than waiting for the collapse to happen. Believe me, the trouble is not going to be Russian hackers who come in there, and they change your voting machine, even though they may experiment with that. We don`t know.

It`s going to be at the state level. And I had trouble in 2016 with the secretary of state of Florida, who swore and insisted and complained when I said they had been probed by Russian intelligence. Lo and behold, a year later, they were more than probed. They were checked out. Voter registration databases were -- could have been affected.

This year, what we can do, of course, is, you have to blow out the margins. They have to get so many people to come out to vote that, whatever machinations that they do will -- can be seen and won`t affect the vote.

REID: Yes. Yes. And there is some reporting that the Biden campaign is prepared to fight it to the bitter end in case it`s close.

But I think the point that both of you are making is, don`t let it be close if you want the election to be legitimate.

I want to stay with you, Malcolm, for just one moment. There was a strange thing that appeared on social media this -- over the last couple of days that was really weird over the July 4 weekend, and it was Michael Flynn.

I think we have a V.O. of it of him appearing to take the QAnon pledge. He`s standing there. They do a pledge that sounds like a sort of standard pledge you take if you WERE taking office, et cetera. And then they ended with this statement that has appeared a lot among the QAnon world.

His lawyer is saying that that`s not what he was doing. But let`s play this real quick.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help me God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALES: So help me God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where we go one, we go all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Where we go one, we go all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: OK, so he recently also added a QAnon hashtag to his Twitter bio.

And he started writing an Internet column filled with QAnon-style imagery.

This guy used to be the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. What is going on, Malcolm, with this man?

NANCE: A few years ago, when he wrote his book about a vast global conspiracy that was pulled against the -- pit against the United States that was made up of Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, ISIS, and al Qaeda, and Russia, we in the intelligence community all thought, it`s a good thing he`s gone, because that`s nutty.

This is order of magnitude beyond nutty. Michael Flynn is over the edge. That pledge, that whole, where we go one, where we go all, that is a conspiracy theory that the FBI has called a threat to the national security of the United States.

I know, going through this whole trial, him confessing to the crimes that he confessed to, trying to reengineer a way out of it, has put the zap on his head. But I will tell you right now he`s lost it. He cannot stand now in any platform with any decency without people thinking he`s crazy, because it appears that he is.

REID: Well, before we go, I do want to ask Eric Swalwell. I know we are out of time.

But it appears that about a half-a-dozen Republican congressional candidates who are running in November are also QAnon people.

Are you prepared? How excited are you about the idea of potentially serving with some QAnon folks?

SWALWELL: Well, I`m going to work like hell to make sure they never see Congress.

QAnon is associated with white nationalism terrorism. But let`s just take General Flynn at his word. And that`s a better allegiance pledge that he gave than the one that he gave to Russia right after the election when he talked to their ambassador and asked them to go easy on us after we put sanctions on them.

So it seems that his allegiances, at least publicly, are shifting from where they were, which was toward Russia after the 2016 election.

REID: Wow. All right.

Nobody`s mincing words tonight. Everybody is very open with their opinions. You guys are not shy and retiring, like we`re used to.

SWALWELL: Playing for keeps.

REID: Congressman Eric Swalwell, Malcolm Nance, thank you both very much.

And still ahead: Joe Biden...

(CROSSTALK)

REID: Thank you.

Joe Biden`s most critical constituency and the role that they might play in his search for the perfect running mate.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden, I love you! I love you!

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve loved you all my life!

Oh, God bless you. Oh, oh, oh.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you.

Thanks for that hug. God love you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You. Oh, my goodness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Welcome back.

That was from the Biden campaign back in February, before the pivotal South Carolina Democratic primary that propelled him to the Democratic nomination.

Leading that surge were black women voters. And they could well be the key to back to a Biden victory in November.

The 19th`s Errin Haines points out in "The Washington Post" that black women are not just the country`s most consistent voters. They could be among the most coveted. Black women are only 7 percent of the population, but tend to vote at higher rates than other groups, voting at or above 60 percent in the past five presidential cycles.

So, they`re also the Democratic Party`s most loyal voters. How much will the Biden campaign factor this in when choosing Biden`s running mate and, if he wins, in formulating policy?

For more, I`m joined by Errin Haines, editor at large for The 19th, and Tiffany Cross, resident fellow at Harvard`s Kennedy school and author of "Say It Louder! Black Voters, White Narratives and the Saving of Our Democracy," which, by the way, is out.

Congratulations on the new book.

So, let -- but I`m going to go to you first, Errin. Your piece was excellent, by the way. Congratulations on that.

But you talk not just about black women lining up behind the Democratic candidate, which is what tends to happen in Democratic elections, but also talking about wanting power to flow from, that, actually, they want -- black women voters want more than just to show up on Election Day.

Talk a little bit more about that.

ERRIN HAINES, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE 19TH: Yes, well, thank you so much for having me, Joy. And thanks for featuring this story, which is really the culmination of three years of work that I have been doing since the 2016 election around the value of the black women who organize, vote and run for office, because they are the protectors of this democracy, as we know.

Look, black woman have long foreseen the national reckoning that we now find ourselves, the political and racialized climate that we now find ourselves in, and the systemic -- systematic racism that has really been laid bare by the dual pandemics of coronavirus and race that we now see ourselves in.

And so that brings us to this primary, where black women showed up and showed out at the polls in record numbers in many states. And looking ahead to November, they are galvanized and energized.

I talked to a voter who said in the story that black women lose sleep at night over injustice. And that`s certainly true of a lot of the black women voters that I talk to. Black women, as LaTosha Brown from Black Voters Matter, told me in the story, are the caregivers of our democracy.

And that was true even before we were free and even before we could vote. And so I think, looking ahead to the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which is this year and which is what my newsroom is named for, black women are asking to be valued, not just for their output six weeks ahead of the election, but for their input, long before the election happens and also when it comes time to govern.

REID: Tiffany, I note that the mayor of Atlanta, now having tested positive for the coronavirus, she and her husband, "The Washington Post" had noted that one in three African-Americans know someone who has died from coronavirus, or at least has been diagnosed, I should say, with coronavirus.

I know somebody who has died from coronavirus. And so I wonder if, in a moment like this, where we`re seeing that even some of our most powerful women, somebody who was talked about as a potential V.P., are also vulnerable to this, how do you think that that`s going to start impacting the way that black women voters think going into November?

TIFFANY CROSS, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL: Well, first of all, I want to say my best wishes and for a speedy recovery to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

And I certainly don`t want to put undue pressure on her, because I hope that she takes the time to get well. But I predict, as is the tradition of black women, that she will go on and show up and work every day even through battling this illness, even through dealing with children getting shot over the weekend, even through a white supremacist in the White House.

She will still continue to lead, organize, campaign for Joe Biden, because that is the spirit of black women. And so I think what this highlights is that, as we deal with the fallout of COVID-19, as we deal with GOP voter- led suppression, that black women are going to have to leapfrog over these -- the huge issues that can suppress or oppress the vote and suppress the vote and oppress black lives.

And so I don`t doubt that black women will still show up, but we are asking to make our job easier. And so I think we need to take seriously the impact of COVID-19 it`s going to have on voting. We need to take seriously the threats that foreign adversaries are we -- that we face from foreign adversaries and at the election booth.

And we need to take seriously voter suppression. So, with this combination, I just -- I predict a lot of challenges in November, but I also, coming from the kind of lineage that we come from, do not think that will be enough to stop the will of the people, specifically this lane that Errin wrote so beautifully about.

REID: And you were one of -- I`m going to stay with you for just one moment.

You were one of seven women who signed an op-ed that was -- also ran in "The Washington Post" about Joe Biden needing to pick a black woman V.P.

There`s a lot of other names that are circulating around, a lot of other very popular politicians that are also being considered. Do you think that, as this -- as we get closer to Election Day, that that still becomes a top priority for black women over Donald Trump simply not being president of the United States anymore?

CROSS: It`s not really -- when we wrote that op-ed, it`s not really about appealing to black women, because black women show up. We do what needs to be done.

But when you have a Democratic Party and a Democratic candidate who sometimes seems to want to appeal to these mythical swing voters the media seems to be obsessed with or to these red state voters or these Obama-Trump voters, we aren`t simply saying, make our jobs easier, because, while you`re talking to red state voters, we`re talking to the people on the block, we`re talking to the streets.

And the streets lately have been speaking for themselves, demanding what they want, finally, at a time where we sit at the epicenter of political power. So it`s not necessarily good enough to have a black woman running mate, if she`s not willing to adopt an agenda that comprehensively addresses so many of the needs in the black community.

And that is what I think the Biden campaign should focus on. They have already laid out some policies that at this time, where people are putting it all on the line -- I mean, black people are finally saying, look, this is what we want. This is what we demand.

And I think some of Joe Biden`s policies venture towards the middle of the road, and that is how you become political roadkill. And so we`re saying, it`s not the time to make the safe move. It`s not the time to make a move that might appear -- appeal to these MAGA voters.

This is the time to go hard or go home. Go hard in the paint and pick somebody who can inspire people, who can excite people about this ticket. And I think that`s what people want.

I said over the weekend that a lot of people have an Obama hangover, and I just -- I don`t think that people look at Obama as their ceiling. They look at him as their floor.

REID: Right.

CROSS: And they`re ready -- they`re ready to aim higher.

So, I would encourage the campaign, don`t make the safe choice. Don`t appeal the middle-of-the-road voters. Go -- dance with the ones who brung you, the ones who resurrected your campaign, and that is overwhelmingly black women.

REID: And, Errin -- and I wonder if, when you are talking to black women voters, the climate that we`re in that has become really just with exacerbated, very overt and obvious hate -- that`s the thing now -- you had in Oregon state a police trooper who appeared to throw the white power sign during a Black Lives Matter rally where there was an anti-Black Lives Matter protesters on the side of this Black Lives Matter rally.

He then gives a pound to this member of the Proud Boys, who we know are a white nationalist group and also an anti-woman group. The state police cleared the trooper, saying that he made the gesture when he was checking on a man who had been knocked to the ground and he used his hands because he was wearing a mask and was just checking sure to see the man was OK.

We you have that. When you have Donald Trump attacking Bubba Wallace again, how much does this overt hate that also comes from the White House factor into the votes that black women are going to cast in November?

HAINES: What they tell me, Joy, is that it`s going to be a huge factor.

Look, even before the pandemic happened, the dual pandemics of racism and coronavirus, black women were telling me that racism was on the ballot for them in 2020. And racism, the economy, health care, in some order, those are usually the top three issues for black women. And they are certainly seeing racism on full display headed into the 2020 election.

And they -- that is something that galvanizes black women. And it is something that they want to push back on, and to use their caregiving role, the vote is an extension of that for so many of them.

And so I think that what we can expect to see is, as this -- as these protests go on, you see black women at the forefront of these protests, you see black women mayors, like Mayor Bottoms and others, on the front lines of this coronavirus fight, you see people like Stacey Abrams on the front line against voter suppression, the idea of a black woman in the number two slot in that historic, potentially historic role, is more than symbolic for many black women voters.

Black women`s leadership is proven. And it`s something that many voters that I talk to say is needed in this moment, because black women are solutions-oriented and are ready and willing and stand to do the work.

REID: Yes.

Well, I thank you for writing. It`s a great story. I hope everybody will check it out.

I want to thank you, Errin Haines and Tiffany Cross.

And, by the way, I noticed that Errin has Tiffany`s book in the back. I have a copy of Tiffany`s book here. Let`s show this. OK. The only person...

(CROSSTALK)

REID: OK. I was going to say the only person not displaying the book -- now we`re all in accord.

(LAUGHTER)

REID: Thank you all very much. Great book. All right, thank you all very much.

All right, up next: the future of travel in the age of coronavirus.

We`re back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Welcome back.

The beginning of July is typically one of the busiest times for travel, but, this year, with the pandemic still out of control, most of us are staying home.

NBC News correspondent Sarah Harman has a look at how international travel is changing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARAH HARMAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. flights are taking off again, but few are headed overseas, after the E.U. extended a travel ban barring U.S. tourists and dealing a major blow to U.S. carriers, which typically earn far more on lucrative international routes than domestic ones.

The skies are increasingly busy, but, on the water, the outlook is less clear. The once booming $45 billion cruise industry is now fighting for its very survival. Major cruise lines, including Carnival, Norwegian and , have voluntarily suspended U.S. operations until mid-September, canceling ocean cruises through fall.

But, in Europe, the first handful of river cruises are cautiously resuming. This five-day cruise down Germany`s Rhine and Moselle rivers is only operating at 70 percent capacity, and boarding is now a lengthy process.

First, there`s paperwork.

(on camera): Have you had COVID? No.

(voice-over): An antibody test.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, turn your hand around, please. And then I will just put it right in the test area.

HARMAN: And a temperature check.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s in green area.

HARMAN (on camera): All right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, welcome aboard.

HARMAN: Thank you.

(voice-over): All before you set foot on the ship. Meals look different too.

(on camera): So, this entire area, this would have been the buffet, but it`s completely off-limits.

(voice-over): Plastic dividers keep diners apart, and floor markings keep them moving in one direction.

(on camera): Up here on the deck, passengers have a bit more freedom. They can even take off their masks, as long as they stay at least six feet from their neighbor.

(voice-over): Still, there`s no live music, no spa, and the swimming pool is off-limits.

(on camera): Was it hard to wear the mask?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, the whole time.

HARMAN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the problem.

HARMAN (voice-over): With all the restrictions, it may not feel like a vacation.

(on camera): What did you guys do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had some dinner and some (INAUDIBLE) of course.

HARMAN (voice-over): For Americans, if and when cruises come back, they might look a lot like this one, fewer passengers closer to home, with limited activities and excursions.

After months of lockdown, operators will be hoping that stringent hygiene protocols, combined with simple pleasures, will be enough to convince wary customers to return.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

REID: NBC`s Sarah Harman reporting.

We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: OK, I`m very excited.

Al Franken joins me in three minutes. Do not go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END