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Roger Stone TRANSCRIPT: 7/13/20, The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Jackie Speier, Nick Akerman, Margaret Carlson, Megan Ranney

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST:  THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER, except not Ari Melber tonight.

Stephanie Ruhle is in for Ari.

Steph, I`m so used to saying THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER that it just came out of my mouth before I could see your lovely, shining face.


TUR:  Good to see you, my friend.

RUHLE:  Katy Tur, Katy Tur, yours truly, Joy Reid, we`re about to have a girl party here tonight on MSNBC.

TUR:  You got that.


RUHLE:  All right. Well, have a good night.

Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Stephanie Ruhle, as Katy said, in for our friend Ari Melber.

And we begin this evening with President Trump and his allies smearing and sidelining Dr. Anthony Fauci, as coronavirus cases are spiking in 39 states. At this point, more than 3.3 million Americans have the virus and 135,000 have lost their lives.

The state of Florida shattering the New York record with the largest single day of cases more than 15,000, with some saying Miami is becoming the epicenter of this pandemic, President Trump today denying opposition research against Dr. Fauci, despite memos released against him alleging Dr. Fauci was wrong on the coronavirus, with a litany of comments he made early on.

Now, many of those comments were based on research that we had at the time. Others were completely taken out of context. But here`s President Trump today:


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci. I have had for a long time, right from the very beginning. I find him to be a very nice person. I don`t always agree with him. I get along with him very well. I like him, personally.


RUHLE:  Fauci is the most trusted voice in the United States of America on the coronavirus; 67 percent of Americans trust him, against 26 percent for President Trump.

And who is President Trump backing now, what great medical mind? Former game show host, Chuck Woolery, President Trump retweeted Chuck Woolery, claiming that the CDC doctors and other experts are lying about the spread of the disease.

Just think about that for a moment. President Trump is amplifying the former host of "Love Connection" over the preeminent health expert in the United States of America. Here`s specifically what Chuck Woolery was doing when Dr. Anthony Fauci was helping find a cure for AIDS.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR:  What I`d like to do this evening is to review for you some of the most recent advances in AIDS.

CHUCK WOOLERY, GAME SHOW HOST:  I`m going to give the wheel a final spin of the day. See what happens here.

FAUCI:  I`m working directly on AIDS, both clinically and from a basic science standpoint.

WOOLERY:  I`m still trying to figure out Nathan`s problem with his Japanese plant. It`s going through my head. I just want to work on it.


FAUCI:  Overall in the study, there was a 44 percent decrease in the risk of HIV infection.

WOOLERY:  According to Kool-Aid, what are their current four bestselling flavors?


RUHLE:  And as presidential battles falling polls and a rising pandemic across this country, some of his allies are actually breaking with him.

Trump`s former Chief of Staff and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney criticizing the way testing works in the United States.


TRUMP:  Anybody that needs a test can have a test.

I think we`re doing a great job on testing.

I said to my people, slow the testing down, please.


RUHLE:  Joining me now is Dr. Megan Ranney. She`s an emergency room physician and an associate professor of emergency medicine at Brown University, and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post" my friend Eugene Robinson.

Eugene, these attacks on Dr. Fauci, who are they more damaging for, Dr. Fauci or the White House?

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, if you look at the polls and whom people believe, they should be more damaging for the White House, because people believe Dr. Fauci.

People also know that Dr. Fauci has credentials, has a history, has also a history of being honest. Which is something that you cannot say about the president or about the White House or about Chuck Woolery, for that matter, who I doubt is a true expert on coronaviruses or anything else medical.

I mean, this is -- we have really reached a point of insanity. And, meanwhile, we are failing on this virus. We started failing on testing and we continue to fail. And this won`t get better until we get better leadership.

That`s the way it seems to be headed.

RUHLE:  Doctor, the smearing of Dr. Fauci and the CDC, while it might be completely incorrect, do you worry that it just confuses American people more and more, and, as we get confused and fatigued by this, we stopped listening to the experts?


So, the WHO today actually came out saying that one of the biggest challenges in the fight against COVID was the fact that political leaders were spreading disinformation and that physicians and public health professionals were being dismissed.

Our job, as doctors and scientists, is to follow the science and to share it effectively with the public. But we need the support of our political leaders and of our media and entertainment influencers in order to do that effectively.

We cannot afford confusion the ground right now. This virus is too deadly. And we have already seen twice what happens when we pretend that it`s just going to go away. It is essential that we listen to Dr. Fauci and to other medical experts who are speaking up and potentially changing their advice a little bit because, as you said, we follow the science.

RUHLE:  But, Doctor, even if Dr. Fauci gets sidelined, and even if President Trump puts in someone who stays on whatever script the president wants him to, won`t that blow up in this administration`s face?

Clearly, we have learned, as it has spread to many red states that initially called this thing a hoax, you can`t deny it when people get sick. You can`t deny it when you yourself or your family does.

RANNEY:  Yes, science is not partisan, right? This virus does not follow political rules.

The virus is going to spread the same way that this virus is going to spread whether or not it`s a red state or a blue state. In my own home state of Rhode Island, my governor, Raimondo, has worked incredibly effectively with folks across the aisle to put in place good testing, tracing, isolation, and to spread the message of mask squaring.

We have also seen a number of red states that have done that effectively. But anyone who tries to pretend that they can use politics to believe this virus is only going to see a rising tide of illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths.

RUHLE:  That`s what`s so confusing.

Eugene, the president is claiming he likes Dr. Fauci, he knows nothing, nothing about this opposition research. Then who would it be from and why? Who does it benefit, right? Who does it benefit to go after Dr. Anthony Fauci and have the American people not listen to important health guidelines?

ROBINSON:  Well, it benefits nobody.

It`s really crazy, Stephanie, because, as the doctor said, the virus pays absolutely no attention to red or blue. The virus pays no attention to any of this stuff. It`s just trying to replicate itself. So, it`s going to continue doing that, whether we do anything or not, no matter what we do.

And so when the president continues to say, as he said again today, well, the only reason we have all these cases is that we`re doing all this testing, it`s just transparently nuts. Of course, these cases would exist,. Whether or not we knew about them, whether or not we had tested for them, people would still be getting sick.

It is -- it is only through testing, it is only through knowing what the virus is doing, that we can hope to control it, hope to contain it, hope to tamp it down until we get a vaccine.

It is -- so, the president now is actively working against the interests of public health. And that`s a real tragedy.

RUHLE:  To that very point, Doctor, in order to slow the spread, you need this three-pronged approach where government, business and the American people work together, coordinate and address our behavior and how we protect people.

The fact that the president at this very moment has gone all in on the country and schools reopening, what does that mean for the spread?

RANNEY:  So, it is going to make it much more difficult for us to control this virus, unfortunately.

We are looking at individual states that are doing a good job. We are looking at grassroots organizations, like my own group, Get Us PPE, which has have formed organically to try to fill the void left by the federal government.

But, gosh, we really need a coordinated response, because not only does this virus not respect red or blue. It also does not respect state borders, right? People are traveling. I live in Rhode Island. People go to Massachusetts and Connecticut to live and work.

We need to work together in order to have that adequate testing to get protective equipment where it needs to go, to make sure that people are masked. And, my goodness, if we don`t get this virus under control, we are not going to be able to rebuild the economy.

We started to see things shutting down before the worst of the pandemic in March and April because people were scared. If the president really wants to see businesses reopen and see jobs come back, the very best thing he could do would be to support a very robust public health approach across all 50 states.

RUHLE:  Well, the only way we`re going to get through this is together.

Doctor, Eugene, thank you so much.

I want to dig deeper. I want to talk about one of those hardest-hit states that are seeing businesses close again to try to address this.

Let`s bring in Congresswoman Jackie Speier of the state of California, seeing a surge of new cases that are overwhelming their hospitals, over 300,000 cases and over 7,000 deaths as of this morning.

Congresswoman, what is your reaction to this surge? Your governor, your mayors across some of your largest cities have been addressing this in an aggressive way from the beginning.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA):  Well, we have.

We were the first state and the first area in the Bay Area to shut down back in March. And as we started to open, we saw an increase in the cases take place.

So the governor has shown great leadership and guts, frankly, to say today that we are now shutting down all bars, all in-restaurant dining. And, if necessary, we will go back to a total shutdown, because lives are at stake here.

RUHLE:  Then what can you do, what will the state of California do or the federal government to economically support California? We are seeing small businesses closed every single day.

And I realize they need to from a health perspective, but, economically, it`s disastrous. Well, it is.

SPEIER:  And PPP has been a lifesaver to many of the small businesses in my district, and they have been able to withstand this first surge.

But what we got to remember is that we are not driving this virus. We are riding it. And as someone once said to me, you have got to show a great deal of humility with this virus. We do not have all the answers. And as we have seen in states like Florida and Arizona, the actual incidence of those infected now has dropped from age 65 to 35 in Florida, and, in Arizona, it`s a much younger population.

So it is -- like, it`s not following state mines or party affiliation, it is not following age groups either. And that`s because there has been a lack of a national strategy. And the president has to take full responsibility for the fact that we don`t have a national strategy.

We have not invoked the Defense Production Act. And so we`re scraping around for reagents and nasal swabs and can`t test properly. And then we have got to change our testing strategy.

Dr. Osterholm, who has been on your show many times, talks about smart testing, testing the right people at the right time for the right purposes. And if we don`t do any of that, we`re going to be in this for a very long time.

RUHLE:  The CARES Act did a lot for people economically. The HEROES Act got bounced by Republicans, they didn`t want to play ball. They said, let`s see how things go.

This month, those expanded unemployment benefits are going to run out. Those businesses you`re talking about that were saved by PPP, they`re going to shut down again. They can`t keep their employees on if they remain in this altered state.

What needs to be done from Congress` standpoint to keep people afloat?

SPEIER:  Well, we have got a pass the HEROES Act. And I think the senators are starting to feel the heat. I think Mitch McConnell is starting to feel the heat, because if you don`t take the steps in the HEROES Act, you`re going to have heavy layoffs in state and local governments.

That`s going to raise unemployment. We already see the airline industry is talking about layoffs in October, even after they have received an injection of much aid from the federal government.

So, while money is cheap right now, the cost of money is cheap, we have got to use it in a way that`s going to be effective to keep companies and business -- small businesses afloat and people employed.

RUHLE:  Eugene, how do you see any or all of this impacting the election, which is less than five months away?

We just lost him.

Congresswoman, with the election your mind, what are your constituents telling you?

SPEIER:  Well, my constituents are combination of angry and frustrated and scared.

And I think that`s probably true across the country. We need a leader who`s going to have the level of confidence that we can trust them. And, unfortunately, the president brings us into this parallel universe where he talks about hydroxychloroquine, as if it`s -- that`s going to be the solution.

And we find out that can actually hurt people and create heart problems. He says, anyone can get a test who wants a test. That, of course, isn`t the case. And he`s never really invoked the Defense Production Act. So, we are scraping for the testing agents that we need.

So, there`s a total lack of leadership on the federal level. So you have states doing very different things. And that`s why we are not being able to rein in this virus.

You look at China, with so much more in terms of population, four times as much in population. And they`re faring much better because they have shown the kind of discipline necessary to address this.

RUHLE:  This administration has said over and over they want to see all schools open.

We`re already seeing some very large school districts in the state of California saying, we are not going back to school this fall. Betsy DeVos has said, kids have to go back to school, or they`re at risk of losing federal funding.

Unless the federal government does something significant from an economic perspective to help schools reopen, how can they possibly do it? As it stands right now, 90 -- 92 percent of education funding comes at a state level. California cannot afford to reconfigure all of their schools and get kids back there, with the government only putting aside, federal government, $13 billion.

It`s a $100 billion task.

SPEIER:  So, the federal government spends very little money on the K-12 education system. Most of it does come from the state.

I think what we`re seeing in California and probably across the country you have got about a third of the teaching population that is at risk, high risk. You have got another third that is over the age of 40 and concerned about their well-being.

And we still don`t know enough about the virus. I was just on a conference call with some epidemiologists who said, small children probably do not actually pass the virus on very extensively.

But once you get into the high school age group, they act much like adults and could, in fact, pass on the virus. So, again, we don`t know enough, but we do know that we have got to keep our children safe. We have got to engage them in school again.

And whether it`s going in for two or three days a week, I think they do need the socialization that comes when they`re in a classroom. And we certainly need to protect our teachers as well.

So it`s going to be a juggling act. There`s no question about it.

RUHLE:  Well, it`s certainly a circus right now.

Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us, Jackie Speier.

SPEIER:  Thank you, Stephanie.

RUHLE:  Coming up: the new fallout in the Roger Stone case. No, he is not going to prison tomorrow. Of course, the president commuted his sentence. And who President Trump is talking about pardoning next.

Also, a stunning new poll shows former Vice President Biden over President Trump in -- wait for it -- Texas -- that`s right, Texas -- as Democrats begin to talk about what they are calling a blue tsunami, a blunami.

Plus:  Rudy Giuliani just wipes out Trump`s excuse for not releasing his taxes. We`re going to explain that on the other side of the break.

And guess who`s here? The one and only Bill Nye, the Science Guy. He`s got you covered on how to stay safe with a mask.

I`m Stephanie Ruhle, and you are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.



REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  I think anyone who cares about the rule of law in this country is nauseated by the fact that the president has commuted the sentence of someone who willfully lied to Congress, covered up for the president.

Other Americans, different standard. Friends of the president`s, accomplices of the president, they get off scot-free.


RUHLE:  Accomplices of the president. Did you hear what he said?

That was Intel Chairman Adam Schiff reacting to the news that President Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime adviser and friend Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering, all related to the 2016 presidential election.

Stone was supposed to report to prison for more than three years starting tomorrow.


ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER:  The president has saved my life. And he`s given me the opportunity to fight for vindication, to fight for my exoneration.


RUHLE:  And in a very, very rare rebuke, special counsel Robert Mueller responding to President Trump`s move in an op-ed, writing this: "I feel compelled to respond to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office. Someone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."

There were many aides urging President Trump not to save Stone, including his own attorney general, Bill Barr. Barr reportedly discussed Stone`s sentence with Trump and recommended clemency not be offered, other advisers telling him it was -- quote -- "a very big mistake."

Remember, Attorney General Barr has said this at his confirmation hearing last January:


 SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT):  Do believe a president could lawfully issue a pardon in exchange for the recipient`s promise to not incriminate him?



RUHLE: "The New York Times" noting that President Trump has done what even Richard Nixon didn`t dare do, the Watergate tapes revealing how dangerous everyone thought a pardon would be.


RICHARD NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  What I mean to say is this. We`re talking in the confidence of this room. I don`t give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) what comes out on you or John or even on poor, damn, dumb John Mitchell. There is going to be a total pardon."

H.R. HALDEMAN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF:  Don`t -- don`t even say that.

NIXON:  You know it. You know it and I know it.


RUHLE:  Well, for all you loyal BEAT enthusiasts, you know this hour is all about law and order.

So, I may not be Ari Melber, but, when we get back, I`m going to get into all of this and more with presidential historian Jon Meacham and Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman, when we are back in 30 seconds.


RUHLE:  I said it was just 30 seconds.

Joining me now, presidential historian Jon Meacham and former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman, who just wrote a "New York Times" op-ed on this case. And he questioned Roger Stone back in 1973.

Jon, give us a history lesson. Is this commutation different than others?

JON MEACHAM, NBC NEWS HISTORIAN:  I think it is, for the reasons even President Nixon laid out there.

It`s as close -- here`s a phrase, remember this from 1,000 years ago -- quid pro quo from a different galaxy. It`s clearly a self-protective maneuver. The clemency power in the Constitution is absolute. It was meant to be a check and balance against other branches going too far.

But in this case, you have a president who has insisted on the absolutist elements of his job and of his task, and has now used the Constitution specifically to protect himself.

RUHLE:  But that`s the thing, Nick. Even if it`s the absolutist elements, the president`s allowed to do it.

So, while he may be highly criticized or it stinks to the high heavens, is there anything anyone can do about it?

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR:  Well, unfortunately, there`s nobody -- nobody can do anything about it.

But I would argue that this power is limited. It can`t be that a president of the United States can grant clemency to somebody who is his own co- conspirator, in which he has an obvious conflict of interest.

I mean, the problem is no court has ever confronted this issue. And no court is ever going to confront this issue with respect to Roger Stone, because there is no special counsel or special prosecutor in place to contest this issue in the courts.

And that is what I find to be the absolute shame of this situation and what makes it so different from Watergate, where we were totally independent from the Department of Justice. We didn`t have to answer to an attorney general. We didn`t have to be worried about -- threatened to be fired every other day.

We ran our own shop. Our -- what we investigated was far more expansive than what Robert Mueller`s team had. We looked at all of the crimes, not just relating to the break-in at the Watergate complex, but also to the cover-up, and lots of other crimes, including Nixon`s taxes, his treatment of demonstrators, his illegal campaign contributions.

We covered the waterfront. Unfortunately, Robert Mueller was really in a straitjacket on this one.

RUHLE:  But, Nick, even if it can`t be philosophically, literally, it is. The president did it. Roger Stone is not going to jail. He`s not going to turn on the president.

And, in fact, now that he`s not, his loyalty to the president is supercharged. That`s a win for the president.

AKERMAN:  No question about it.

But if there had been somebody in place right now, if Robert Mueller`s group is still in place, they could actually challenge this through the courts. You certainly know that Bill Barr, the attorney general, is not going to do a thing about challenging Donald Trump`s commutation. No way.

And so you`re right. We`re left in a situation, unlike Watergate, where we all believed that the system worked, here, the system is broken. Donald Trump has gotten away with this time after time, and he`s going to continue to get away with it with the two other individuals who are knowledgeable about the Russian interference.

That involves Michael Flynn and his campaign manager Manafort. He`s gotten Manafort out of prison. Manafort is now at home. Flynn, he`s asked the judge to drop the case. And there`s going to be a legal battle over that.

But, essentially, what Donald Trump is doing is, he`s doing everything he can possibly do to make sure that any anyone with any knowledge about this Russian interference is going to keep silent, keep their mouths shut and not point the finger at Donald Trump.

RUHLE:  And the president is getting his way.

Jon, Bill Barr has shown us he is willing to do a lot for this president, a lot that hurts his own reputation and credibility. But Bill Barr advised against this. Does that tell you anything?

MEACHAM:  Just that he was speaking or writing at that particular moment.

I think it was a little bit like -- in that most overused of cliches, it`s like being shocked that there`s gambling going on in the casino from "Casablanca." He can advise that, but Donald Trump has never, by my reading of the record, taken advice he didn`t want to take, or certainly very rarely.

So I think there are, quickly, two things that are so fascinating about this moment. One is, we have to remember what this is about. And Nick alluded to it. This is about Russian interference in our election. And President Trump and others can say as much as they want that it`s a hoax.

But history is like an iceberg. It`s like -- a legal case is like that, too. You see part of it, but there`s a whole lot underneath. And Roger Stone is a part of the stuff that is very much underneath.

The other, to the Mueller point, we`re going to miss two opportunities, I think, this year, more or less. One was the ability to challenge the extent of the clemency power, as Nick mentioned, also the question about whether you can indict a sitting president.

Remember, the special prosecutor accepted that as a premise. And I think that one of the reasons we`re seeing a lot of the interference and the prosecutorial offices beyond Washington is, there is still an ambient anxiety within the highest levels of the government that they can`t really control all of this, which tells you that there`s a lot of that iceberg under the surface.

RUHLE:  Oof. Iceberg dead ahead. Also a line from a movie.

Jon Meacham, Nick Akerman, thank you both. Always better and smarter after speaking to both of you.

We`re going to leave it there.

Ahead:  President Trump`s personal lawyer, dear friend Rudy Giuliani did it again, blowing up his number one client, where else, on live TV, this time on President Trump`s taxes.

Maya Wiley is with us next.

But first:  President Trump`s campaign has a problem in the state of Texas, and some are seeing a Democratic tsunami coming.


RUHLE:  Everything`s bigger in Texas.

And President Trump woke up to maybe a very big problem there. A new poll from "The Dallas Morning News" has former Vice President Joe Biden up five points over Trump in Texas. This is alarming.

We know there is a very long way to go, but down five in a state as red as Texas is not good news. Democrats now sensing -- or hoping, I should say, for a Democratic tsunami come this November.

With Senate GOP candidates not mentioning Trump in ads and not wanting to hug him tightly, concerned about turning off more moderate voters, one GOP senators saying, Trump will win because people will just sort of forget the last six months.


SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC):  The stakes are very high this election, but why I know we`re going to win? Because people remember how good their lives were in February.


RUHLE:  These last six months aren`t over. We have got five months to go. And Texas, for example, is seeing a surge in coronavirus cases.

Amid all of this, there are reports that President Trump is frustrated with his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and there are rumblings of a possible shakeup.

Joining us now, Margaret Carlson, columnist for The Daily Beast, and Republican strategist Susan Del Percio.

Susan, let`s start with this poll. Do you actually buy it?

SUSAN DEL PERCIO, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I buy it in the sense that I think people are really upset with Donald Trump.

I don`t think it`s necessarily going to be the case come November. So, the polling is interesting. It`s very good news for Joe Biden, for no other reason, then it`s going to freak Donald Trump out. So he will have to shore up resources in states that he`s supposed to take.

RUHLE:  What do you think, Margaret?

MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST:  Well, I don`t know if people are going to forget how many people died on Donald Trump`s watch in the fall, especially because it`s unlikely to be that much better.

As Dr. Fauci said, we have ended up only being in the first phase, and look at California having to close again. And I think that`s going to be on voters` minds.

And as Texas goes, so goes the country. I mean, that would be a phenomenal switch. And North Carolina -- as the senator from North Carolina just said, North Carolina is in play. And Democrats haven`t won that since Jimmy Carter, if I`m right. It`s been a while.

And that`s in play, where Trump would have been having his big party, until he moved into Florida. And I would watch, Stephanie, those senators who aren`t going, who are dropping out, and not going, which is a real rebuke to Trump.

He doesn`t -- he doesn`t want that to happen. And I don`t think Charles Grassley would be doing that if people didn`t sense that Trump was going to be a little bit -- was sinking a bit and could be a drag on some races, because, in Iowa -- take Iowa, where the challenger is beating Joni Ernst, and she just won the primary, Theresa Greenfield.

Trump won that state by 10 points, and it`s neck and neck.

RUHLE:  Susan, are these polling trends more about a rebuke of the president or voters changing their minds about him, or changing demographics of voters in Texas?

DEL PERCIO:  Well, it`s a combination of things, actually.

I think it`s -- one is a reflection of the environment we`re in. And people now -- this is unlike Russia. This is unlike Roger Stone. This is in people`s homes, their families, their children, their grandparents.

This crisis, this pandemic is actually affecting people`s jobs, the economy, and it`s personal. Those other things that we hate about Donald Trump -- or some hate about Donald Trump, I should say -- are down in Washington. They`re not the things that touch people right at home.

And, in Texas, there is a shifting demographic. I do not think that Texas is ready to go blue yet. It`s definitely moving purple. But I think it`s a bit too early.

And I think, at this point, Biden has a responsibility to win. He doesn`t have a responsibility to run the table. Maybe, in a second term, that`s what you if you`re really up, like and Ronald Reagan was. But this is a chance -- he`s trying to beat the incumbent.

You don`t take chances. All he needs to do is win Michigan and Florida, and it`s game over, literally. That gets him to 270. That has to be his game.

So look at Michigan, look at Wisconsin. Pennsylvania should be his. Donald Trump won Florida with 1.2 percent of the vote. That`s where Biden should be focused. His job is to win. It`s not to expand the party. It`s not to be the leader of the party.

It is to become the next president of the United States. And you do that by getting to 270. Getting yourself over 300 really doesn`t make much of a difference, because he`s already pretty secure that he will get the popular vote.


CARLSON:  And, Stephanie...

RUHLE:  Margaret, "The Washington Post" reports -- yes?

CARLSON:  Oh, I was just going to say Michigan is only 10,000 votes. And that`s a few Pilates classes from suburban women that do have it.

As Susan says, this virus is in everybody`s house. It`s their kids that are going to school or not back to school. So Michigan is gone, as Susan says. Pennsylvania, my hometown, was about 30,000 votes. I think that`s gone.

Biden doesn`t even have to be as ahead as much as he is ahead by all the polls now to be winning back those states.

But you go ahead, Stephanie. I didn`t mean to interrupt.

RUHLE:  The president, at this point, according to "The Washington Post," has made 20,000 false or misleading claims. When he was running in 2016, he didn`t have to run against his former political record. He didn`t have one.

But now he`s three plus-years in. What do you think matters to voters?

CARLSON:  The astonishing thing is that he`s trying to run not on his record, and as an outsider, like he doesn`t have all this to answer for, when, in fact, he does.

And he`s throwing punches that are landing back on him, like gratuitous mistakes like going after Dr. Anthony Fauci. That`s no win for him. And on the one hand, you have Trump insisting what with our own eyes we can see isn`t true, that the virus is disappearing, and Fauci very delicately saying, no, it`s not.

And everything Fauci, except for one thing, which Trump with the oppo research, made a point of, which was, he once said, we didn`t have to wear masks -- and he said at the time, all the information was it didn`t really help. Now we have learned that it does.

But, be that as it may, you cannot put up a man with 20,000 lies against a man with no lies. But that`s how Trump is going to play it. He`s still going to find people to go after.

But it`s going to ricocheted back on him, because his record is bad and his targets are not easy.

RUHLE:  Susan, you said Joe Biden should not try to run the table. He shouldn`t get cute here. He should just focus on those swing states and bring it home.

However, there are some Democrats who say, he shouldn`t do that, he should go for it. And if you look at his economic plan that he put out last week, there`s a lot of talk that`s similar to a make America great again, buy American, produce in America, doing things that President Trump swore he would do, but actually fell down on.

So is Joe Biden trying to go for it and get those red states, get manufacturing America?

DEL PERCIO:  Well, I understand why people want him to do it.

Now, that kind of message, what it does and he should continue will help the Senate -- the folks running for Senate. And there is a chance to flip a couple of seats. We look at Arizona, we look at North Carolina, Maine. These are places that the incumbents are in big trouble.

And a message like Joe Biden`s will work. But how much resources should he put to it? Until we get closer -- maybe if we`re looking at things in October, and they`re just blowout numbers and there`s tons of money at hand, maybe you start playing there. But he should stay on that message. That`s a fantastic message.

It`s what people are looking for. They want hope, and they want to see a plan of action. And that`s what Biden`s giving them.

RUHLE:  Susan, Margaret, always great to have two extraordinary women on TV. Thanks. I enjoyed it.


RUHLE:  Margaret Carlson, Susan Del Percio.

Up ahead: cleanup in aisle Giuliani. President Trump`s lawyer and longtime friend just demolished President Trump`s tax excuse. The excuse the president has been making over and over on why he can`t release his taxes, Rudy Giuliani blew it up.

Maya Wiley on that next.


RUHLE:  President Trump`s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, he did it again.

He reemerged on national TV. You haven`t seen him in a while. And he blew up his number one client`s defense. This time, it was President Trump`s excuse to keep tax returns hidden. And this is a pattern for Rudy Giuliani.

Remember when he told Sean Hannity about payments to Stormy Daniel?


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:  Having something to do with paying some Stormy Daniels woman $130,000, I mean, which is going to turn out to be perfectly legal.

That money was not campaign money. Sorry. I`m giving you a fact now that you don`t know. Funneled through a law firm, and then the president repaid it.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS:  Oh, I didn`t know he did.



RUHLE:  Yes.

Then he admitted on live TV a quid pro quo plot with Ukraine.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN:  Did you ask the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?

GIULIANI:  No. Actually, I didn`t.


GIULIANI:  The only thing I asked about Joe Biden is to get to the bottom of how it was that Lutsenko, who was appointed, dismissed the case against AntAC.

CUOMO:  Right. So, you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?

GIULIANI:  Of course I did.

CUOMO:  You just said you didn`t.


RUHLE: "Of course I did."

And now there is a new one.

This is President Trump`s excuse not to reveal his tax returns:


TRUMP:  I don`t mind releasing. I`m under a routine audit. And it`ll be released. And as soon as the audit is finished, it`ll be released.

Well, I`m not releasing the tax returns, because, as you know, they`re under audit.

While I`m under audit, I won`t do it. If I`m not under audit, I would do it. I had no problem with it.


RUHLE:  Under audit.

But now check out what former Mayor Giuliani says about those so-called audits.


GIULIANI:  They have no reason to believe that there`s anything wrong with his tax returns. I mean, all these tax returns have been, by and large -- maybe not the last one -- but all of them have been audited. All of them have been either passed on or settled.


RUHLE:  Joining me now, Maya Wiley, former counsel to New York City mayor and former SDNY civil prosecutor.

Maya, let`s take the outrage, the embarrassment, and put it over here. What legally happens now if those audits are done?

MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Well, let`s start at the beginning, Stephanie.

There was never a solid argument to withhold the tax returns, based on a supposed audit. That`s just not a thing. So I just want to start there. That was an excuse that Donald Trump used that was more about the spin cycle than the washing machine.

This is about what his tax returns said, not whether there was some auditing. So, that`s number one.

Number two, the issue here is -- especially when we`re looking at the criminal proceeding in the Manhattan district attorney`s office, is about whether the Trump Organization did not properly and lawfully account for the payments, the repayments to Michael Cohen for the Stormy Daniels hush money.

So, that is not -- there`s no audit issue there. It`s like, how did the Trump board book it? Donald Trump has been using every lever available to him to prevent any transparency into financial transactions, tax returns and other financial documents.

And he simply has not been behaving as a man who doesn`t have something to hide. He`s been behaving as a man who`s got everything to lose. Giuliani`s just been the perfect witness for the prosecution, which is not a good look in your defense attorney.

RUHLE:  Except, of course, it`s worked for the president.

I haven`t seen his taxes. Have you?


But what`s worked is the fact that -- the political stall tactics, the fact that the Republican Party has not called this for what it is, just simply outrageous. We just haven`t had a U.S. president or even a candidate for president refuse to release these basic financial -- just his tax returns.

Yes, there are other financial documents that there are arguments about, but there`s plenty of evidence, including what Giuliani himself has said, funneling the payments through the law firm. Well, funneling the payments through the law firm is one of the reasons why there`s a credible investigation into whether or not there was a violation of New York law.

So, everything points to, you can`t stop a criminal proceeding. The Supreme Court has said you can`t stop the criminal proceeding. It`s going to happen anyway. But there`s no question that Donald Trump, as he has done before holding office and during office, has been very aggressive about using the courts as delay tactics.

This one is going to come home to -- these chickens are going to come home to roost one way or the other at some point or another, because it`s a criminal proceeding, because it`s in Manhattan, because it`s not federal.

RUHLE:  And what do you think`s going to happen with that? Because there is a hearing this week on his taxes with the Manhattan DA.

WILEY:  Yes, look, I think, eventually, the Manhattan DA is going to get those records.

Donald Trump`s attorneys can certainly tied up longer just by fighting the subpoena, but they don`t really have a leg to stand on legally. And the Supreme Court made that fairly clear. He only has any of the arguments against a subpoena that any -- that you or I would have.

There`s no special protection for the president. That means that I don`t see a legitimate reason for a judge to say that the grand jury cannot have and see those materials.

RUHLE:  And the clock is ticking.

Maya, great to have you here, Maya Wiley. Thank you so much.

We will be right back. We got more to cover.


RUHLE:  That does it for me. I will see you right back here tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

And my dear friend Steve Kornacki is up next.