KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now, as we wait for the president to take questions.
Hi there, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Katy. Thank you so much.
Welcome to THE BEAT. I am Ari Melber.
Let me tell you what we have in tonight`s show. Number one, we are monitoring the briefing from the president. He`s currently giving updates on the federal coronavirus response. There`s no medical experts there.
And based on what we have heard thus far, we do not yet hear any new or newsworthy information. So we are not carrying on this part of the presentation.
However, if news breaks, we will bring it to you. And if there is a question-and-answer period, where the journalists in the room are able to question the president, which we have seen in other briefings, we will bring you that as well.
Let me begin with the facts.
The United States is now approaching five million COVID cases, over 159,000 Americans dead in this pandemic, another day passing in Washington without any deal to provide extension for the relief that Congress had said was necessary for these millions of Americans who are jobless or facing evictions or, in some cases, both.
There are negotiations ongoing. There is discussion that there could be a deal as soon as Friday. The president has been talking about the idea that the virus would -- quote -- "go away." That is not happening.
There are over 54,000 new cases reported in just the last 24-hour period in the United States. That`s a floor, not a ceiling. The president openly at odds with his own task force.
Dr. Fauci saying today, there`s many different reasons to be concerned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: Obviously, when you have 50,000 cases, as a public health official, if you look at it in the big picture of things, even though there are some sections of the country that have done well, come down, and are at a good baseline and are staying there, you could pick some parts of the country that are on fire, in a sense.
I mean, you`re having outbreaks that -- you don`t get 70,000 cases a day when nothing`s going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We are joined by Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, NBC News medical contributor and infectious disease physician, Daniella Gibbs Leger, a former Obama administration official at the Center for American progress, and the editorial director and publisher of "The "Nation," my former boss, Katrina Vanden Heuvel.
Good to see each of you.
Daniella, we are coming on the air at a time of real contrast between the way the president is dealing with this, what Joe Biden is telegraphing, the talk of these virtual conventions. What do you see as important tonight with those virus facts that we laid out?
DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, I think facts is the most important word that you just said.
A lot of what we hear coming from the president is just outright lies. He`s talking about how the virus will just go away, how kids are virtually immune. And he`s telling information that is potentially deadly to the people in this country.
So, for people who are looking for leadership, unfortunately, they can`t find it in the White House. And I`m relieved to hear Dr. Fauci speaking truth to power and talking about what`s really happening on the ground.
And then you have Vice President Biden obviously talking about what he would do if he were president and bring some stability and some leadership, the national leadership, which is what`s needed, because the virus doesn`t know borders.
So this hodgepodge of things that have been happening in this space is why we`re in this terrible situation that we`re in right now.
MELBER: Yes, you mentioned the facts and Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx.
You can see, viewers can see we have a great panel here.
As mentioned, we`re going to go to the journalistic questioning part of this, listen in, and come back to our experts in a whole big episode of THE BEAT.
Let`s listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... machinery, which is old, doesn`t allow them to. So, they`re going to -- it`s going to be physically impossible for them to do that, especially in a short period of time.
In addition, you have the November 3 election, and they`re allowed to count votes until seven days after the election.
So, what does that mean? If Nevada, which is a big state and a great state, a state I like very much, and I think we`re going to do very well there. Are we going to wait a week after November 3, if it comes down to Nevada, which it could very well?
I don`t think so. I don`t think it`s appropriate.
So, with all of the bundling that you`re going to have, with the harvesting you`re going to have, with people being sent ballots all over that have maybe nothing to do with the state anymore, it`s a terrible thing.
In New York, they had the Carolyn Maloney situation. And I criticized it badly over the last two years and -- two days. I mean, I gave it some very, very strong criticism.
And, all of a sudden, like a miracle, they just approved the winner. Well, what happened? Did the person that was second concede the race, even though it was very close and all mixed up?
They have a terrible situation in New York with the ballots. You know that. And as soon as I said, well, I think you should have a new election, because the election, obviously, they`re not going to know what to do. I think you should have a new election.
They, all of a sudden announced a winner. I assume it was her, but they announced a winner.
Well, I don`t agree with it. Did somebody speak to the person on the other side, the opponent? Did they do something for the opponent on the other side?
Take a look at Paterson, New Jersey. Take a look at many things. It`s all over newspapers, what`s going on with the mail-in ballots.
They -- they send out millions of ballots, millions of ballots. They`re totally unprepared to do it, and then they come back in the millions. It`s going to be a disaster.
I`m doing our country a big favor by bringing it up. And, you know, from a common stance point, even -- commonsense standpoint, if you look at it, just out of common sense and pure, basic, beautiful intelligence, you know it can`t work.
Now, Florida has worked very hard for years and years in developing a system, and I`m sure they probably have problems also.
But absentee ballots are different than mail-in ballots, what you call universal mail-in ballots, much different. You have to apply for it. You have to do different things, and it`s a much better system, and it`s a system that can be reasonably accurate.
But there`s no system like going to the poll and voting. So, I would like to find out why, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, in the midst of all of this grief, why is it that they approve the New York race, why you asked that question?
QUESTION: In the Maloney race, sir, there`s no evidence of widespread voter fraud...
TRUMP: Which one? Oh, really? Well, then you`re reading a different newspaper than me.
Go ahead, please.
QUESTION:... delivery and the postmark...
TRUMP: Go ahead, please. Go.
QUESTION: Sir, you said in an interview this morning on the coronavirus: "This thing`s going away. It will go away, like things go away," despite ongoing cases and death.
TRUMP: It`s going away.
QUESTION: Isn`t that...
TRUMP: It`s going away.
TRUMP: It`s going away. No, it`ll go away. Things go away, absolutely. It`s no question in my mind. It will go away.
Please. Go ahead.
Hopefully, sooner rather than later.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you have praised Governor`s Ducey`s handling of the epidemic in his state.
One of the things that he did was delay the start of public schools opening. Is that a model that governors and states experiencing hot spots should do, as the beginning of school does approach?
TRUMP: Well, I would like to see the schools open.
I think many of the schools, most of the schools will be open. I can say that Republican areas want to see them open, and the Democrats probably want to keep them closed until after November 3, because they think it`s good for them politically.
I actually don`t think it`s good for them politically. Parents want the schools open. We want them open. We want them open safely. We`re going to practice very strong hygiene, and all of the other things that I have enumerated many times.
But we want to see the schools open.
QUESTION:... states to follow Governor`s Ducey`s model here.
And what part of that model was...
TRUMP:... his model. I just think he`s done a very good job. I mean, he`s really done a great job. You look at the numbers, you look at how it`s dropped, and very rapidly, he`s done a great job. He`s a great governor.
QUESTION: In an interview this morning, Mr. President, you were talking about opening the schools, and you said children are virtually immune from COVID-19.
But children have contracted this virus, and some have died from it.
TRUMP: Well, when I say that, I`m talking about from getting very sick.
If you look at children, I mean, they`re able to throw it off very easily. And it`s an amazing thing, because some flus, they don`t. They get very sick, and they have problems with flus, and they have problems with other things.
But, for whatever reason, the China virus, children handle it very well.
TRUMP: And they may -- they may get it, but they get it, and it doesn`t have much of an impact on them.
And if you look at the numbers, the numbers of -- in terms of mortality, fatality, the numbers for children under a certain age, meaning young, their immune systems are very, very strong. They`re very powerful.
And they -- they seem to be able to handle it very well. And that`s according to every statistic.
QUESTION: Mr. President, at least two people connected to Kanye West`s effort to get on the ballot have been connected to the Republican party. Is this...
TRUMP: Whose ballot?
QUESTION: Kanye West.
TRUMP: With Kanye West. Oh.
QUESTION: He`s getting on the ballot, including in swing states.
And, as you know, his wife has raised issues about whether he`s having mental issues right now. So, my question to you is...
TRUMP: That Kanye West does? I don`t know that.
Who said that?
QUESTION: His wife said that his wife might be going through an episode.
TRUMP: I don`t know.
TRUMP: I like him.
QUESTION: But, in any event, my question to you is...
TRUMP: I mean, I like him. He`s always been very nice to me.
QUESTION: Are you aware of...
TRUMP: He`s talking about Kanye West.
QUESTION: Are you aware of or have you encouraged anyone in the party to help him get on the ballot, including the swing states?
TRUMP: No, not at all. No, not at all, other than I get along with him very well. I like him. I like his wife.
His wife recommended certain people, as you know, for -- including Alice Johnson, who is a fantastic woman. But his wife recommended certain people to get out of prison. They were in prison for a long time, a long, long time. It should have never happened.
And I took what she said very strong, Kim, Kim Kardashian, and got a good heart, very good heart. And I like Kanye very much. No, I have nothing to do with him getting on the ballot.
We`ll have to see what happens. We`ll see if he gets on the ballot, but I`m not involved.
QUESTION: Mr. President, I wanted to ask you.
The group of Republican senators are backing $25 billion in payroll assistance to keep the airlines being able to pay their payrolls. Do you endorse that plan?
TRUMP: What Republican senators are doing...
QUESTION: Republican senators want to go ahead with another $25 billion for air -- airlines to keep their payrolls going.
TRUMP: Well, if they need it, certainly, that`s a business Some businesses are doing better than they would normally. Obviously, we know what those businesses are.
And, obviously, the airline business is not doing very well. You have shutdowns all over the world, and you have airlines that are essentially shut down. Some airlines are doing modest -- the best they`re doing is modest.
I think it`s very important that we keep the airlines going. They`ll be very good times very soon, I hope. And we don`t want to lose our airlines. So, if they`re looking at that, whether they`re Republican or Democrat, I would be certainly in favor. We can`t lose our transportation system.
Yes, go ahead.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask you two On Beirut.
So, there`s been some question about your comments yesterday saying that it was an attack, and that you`d heard from military officials that there was an explosion that looked like some sort of a bomb.
TRUMP: Well, they don`t really know what it was.
I can tell you, whatever happened, it`s terrible, but they don`t really know what it is. Nobody knows yet. At this moment, they`re looking. It could have -- I mean, how can you say accident? Somebody was -- left some terrible explosive-type devices and things around perhaps. Perhaps it was that. Perhaps it was an attack.
I don`t think anybody can say right now. We`re looking into it very strongly. Right now, it`s -- you have some people think it was an attack, and you have some people that think it wasn`t.
In any event, it was a terrible event. And a lot of people were killed, and a tremendous number of people were badly wounded, injured.
And we`re standing with that country. You know, we have a very good relationship with that country, but it`s a country under a lot of turmoil, a lot of problems. But we stand with them.
QUESTION: Thank you.
You said earlier today that you are considering using the White House as the venue for your nomination speech.
QUESTION: Senator John Thune questioned whether or not that`s actually legal, given the Hatch Act. Is this something that you would get clearance for before proceeding?
TRUMP: John Thune did, right, the Republican John Thune? Oh. OK.
Well, it is legal. There is no Hatch Act, because it doesn`t pertain to the president. But if I use the White House, we save tremendous amounts of money for the government, in terms of security, traveling.
If we go to another state or some other location, the amount of money is very enormous. So, that`s something to consider also.
I think it would be a very convenient location. And it would be by far the least expensive location. There would be very little in terms of that tremendous traveling security, with airplanes and everybody flying all over the place. So, I think it would be a very convenient idea. It`s something that we threw out. It would be very cost-conscious by comparison to any other location.
Your son Don Jr. tweeted yesterday asking you to direct the EPA to reject the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. It`s a giant copper and gold mine. And the thinking is that...
TRUMP: Reject it in what way?
QUESTION: Just reject its construction.
The Army Corps of Engineers two weeks ago suggested it would be OK to proceed with the project, but sportsmen like your son are saying that it would be harmful for fisheries.
TRUMP: Well, I would listen to both sides. I don`t know of the argument yet, but I would certainly listen to both sides.
My son has some very strong opinions. And he is very much of an environmentalist. And he was very impressed with what we did yesterday, because that`s one of the great environmental bills, and beyond that, ever signed, since -- since, well, I guess over 100 years, if you think about it. It`s been a long time.
But I will look at both sides of it. I had heard about it. I will be -- I understand they`re going to be doing a briefing sometime over the next 48 hours. It`s going to go very quickly. I have done a lot for Alaska.
I love Alaska. It`s a special place. ANWR was one thing, the highway, Cove highway, or whatever the new name is, whatever the old name is. We -- we`re getting approvals for a tremendous highway that`s been sought. For 40 years, they`ve been trying to get it approved, and I`m getting it approved.
We`ve done a lot for Alaska. It`s a special place. And I will take a look at that. It`s interesting.
Yes, please. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. Two brief questions.
First, your administration has praised ambulance drivers and the ambulance service for their role in dealing with the coronavirus.
QUESTION: And, recently, there has been scuttlebutt that the ambulance association`s drivers and all have not been fully reimbursed for the work they`re doing.
They said they are owed $2.89 billion, and they`ve only received $300 million from the Provider Relief Fund.
TRUMP: Not $300 billion, no. Not 300...
TRUMP: You mean $300 million?
QUESTION: At the Provider Relief Fund at HHS.
Are you going to look into this or...
TRUMP: I will. I just heard of it for the first time.
The ambulance people have done an incredible job, as have the doctors, the nurses, the front-line workers. Law enforcement has been incredible, the military, FEMA. I could name almost every group.
I can`t tell you of a group that`s done poorly, but the ambulance people have done a very -- it`s a tough job too, very dangerous job, very tough job.
I will certainly look in -- I mean, you`re telling me something, that for the first time. Nobody is complaining about not getting paid too much, but we`ll take a look at the ambulance drivers.
QUESTION: The other thing, Secretary Esper said today that, based on what he had heard, the incident in Beirut, he felt, was an accident.
Now, he`s disagreed with you on other things before. Do you have any comment about his remark?
TRUMP: Yes, you know, whatever he -- if he -- if that`s what he heard, I think that -- I have heard it both ways too.
I have heard accident. I have heard explosives. And, obviously, it must have been some form of explosives. But whether it was a bomb intentionally set off -- it ended up being a bomb.
But, no, I have heard it both ways. It could have been an accident, and it could have also been something that was very offensive. And I wouldn`t be very happy with that.
QUESTION: And you have no problem with him...
QUESTION: Just a follow-up on that, Mr. President.
Even if you just have suspicion that the Beirut explosion is a bomb, do you have any plans pertaining to U.S. assets in the region, for example? I mean, how are you looking into this?
TRUMP: We`re working very closely with the government, and we`re working very closely with many different agencies, including the military, and we`ll be able to figure it out.
We already probably have figured it out.
Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.
QUESTION: What did you mean when you said, "It is what it is" about 1,000 Americans dying a day?
MELBER: We have been listening to part of the president`s press conference today.
If you have been watching MSNBC, we took a little bit of his opening, cut away when there was not much news, and cut back to see the discussions there.
There were discussions of COVID, foreign policy, as well as the election.
I want to bring back in are experts who have been standing by, and go right to our doctor on a substantive matter that did come up, which was this issue of reopening schools and the level of threat or danger posed to children by this virus.
DR. NAHID BHADELIA, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Ari, I mean, just as fact-checked as the conference is going on, the studies have now shown that children can carry this virus.
We know that they can transmit it, because we have seen multiple case studies now, even from last week from a camp in Georgia that showed transmission among children and adults, both staff members, as well as others who were at a camp. So they can transmit it.
And the biggest part of this is, when you say the children are not that sick, yes, the majority of the children do not get very sick, but there are those who get hospitalized. And we don`t know what the long-term effects of this disease is.
However, children do not live alone by themselves in homes. They do not teach themselves in schools. They do not ride buses by themselves. And all of those -- all of the places, where they touch adults in their lives, they are potentially carrying that risk back and forth.
And to talk about that in that vacuum, I think, is basically giving us not the right path forward to prepare to keep all of this population safe.
MELBER: Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, I want to thank you for being part of our informational medical sandwich, if you will, both before and after the briefing. And we will be coming back to you in the days ahead. Thank you so much.
Our panel stays.
And I want to give a little bit of a setup to something else that`s important tonight.
We`re 90 days out from this election. The president has been leaning towards something that was just discussed in that briefing and that many critics say is completely unacceptable, trying to break historical precedent by having an acceptance speech, a political speech, at the White House itself.
Using the White House as a backdrop in the reelection campaign is something that comes right up against traditional ethical rules binding government activity, because you have, of course, the Hatch Act that bars most government employees, but not the president, from using this kind of property for anything political.
Over on the Democratic side, the DNC announcing Joe Biden will accept his nomination from the home state of Delaware. He`s not going to go to the virtual convention site in Milwaukee.
His campaign, though, is on offense, with the largest ad buy this cycle, $280 million, starting next month. And that`s not all. We look at everything, including the presidential race, but there`s something else happening across America.
Take a look, for example, at a primary yesterday where you had the progressive wing of the Democratic Party clearly gaining seen with AOC- style challengers like Cori Bush in Missouri, defeating a longtime incumbent.
"The New York Times" reporting today Bush`s victory, which came on the same night that Missouri voters decided to expand Medicaid eligibility, was a significant milestone for insurgent progressive candidates.
With that, we bring back our panel.
And I want to go right to you, Katrina. This is something that you have written about and worked on for some time.
What does it mean to you to see Missouri voters, thought of as a more conservative place, both embrace this candidate and a more progressive approach to health care?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "THE NATION": It`s a sweet victory, Ari.
And it`s not out of nowhere. There is an insurgency in (AUDIO GAP) progressive (AUDIO GAP) Rashida Tlaib, who won last night in the primary, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, the Squad.
But it`s a group of organizations, Justice Democrats, Working Families Party, Real Justice, groups on the ground in Missouri that fought to expand Medicare for 230,000 citizens.
And Cori Bush, I mean, she -- we have been writing about her, Ari, for more than 10 years, and she`s someone who comes from the streets. So, you`re seeing the street heat meet electoral heat, and I find that very exciting.
And it`s not just Cori Bush in Missouri. You had a circuit judge, Kim Gardner. You`re seeing progressive DAs across the country.
So, I think Biden is having to wrestle with this. And I think there`s a progressive realism that is part of this moment, Ari. I mean, when this country faces these triple crises, pandemic, economic injustice inequality, and racial justice, you get moved.
I mean, in a sense, the FDR-Roosevelt analogies are too often cited, but Roosevelt was a budget-balancing deficit governor who was moved by the times and move by those around them.
So I will end by simply saying, I wrote a column for "The Washington Post" a few days ago. The vice presidential pick is going to be important, but so is his Cabinet, Biden`s Cabinet, if he wins.
One last thing. I mean, if Donald Trump continues to discredit the vote, this is un-American, and I think -- think that about the fact that this bill that`s going to pass has no funding for vote-by-mail security or the post office, one of the great institutions of our country.
So I will say, Ari, when you talk about how they`re not cutting a deal, it`s the Republicans who are abetting Donald Trump, as they have for so long.
MELBER: All really important points.
And, Daniella, I`m curious if you would weigh in on it. Katrina`s talking about what led up to someone like this winning. People now, most people involved in politics, left or right, have heard of AOC. But she didn`t start out as AOC, a famous person. She started out, as she says herself -- I`m not saying she hasn`t said -- as an organizer and a waitress and a person running against a very powerful incumbent, and nobody thought she could win.
And so my question to you, Daniella, as Joe Biden is weighing whether to go into more of an establishment centrist running mate or something else, is what you think about what we hear from so many people, to choose Katrina`s formulation, in the streets or on the ground, which is, the problem with the Democratic Party`s conventional wisdom is not that it`s conventional. It`s that it`s so often wrong, and that people like this can win in Missouri.
GIBBS LEGER: Right.
I mean, I think what you saw last night also is that no one is guaranteed a congressional seat, regardless of your last name, how long you have been there. You have to work every two years.
And Cori Bush put in the work. She almost won last time. And she was victorious last night.
I mean, look, I think whoever the vice president picks as his vice president, she is going to be great. But the proof is going to be in the pudding. And to agree with Katrina, it`s, who`s going to be in the Cabinet? What policies are they pushing?
I`m more concerned about what policies, what progressive policies these folks are going to be pushing once they`re in the White House once they win less than I am about which one of the great women he`s going to choose us as his vice president.
And I think that he and President Obama would be the first to acknowledge that vice president`s platform is the most progressive platform we have ever seen. Like, we are -- we continuously....
MELBER: Well, can I press you a little bit on that...
GIBBS LEGER: Yes.
MELBER: ... and then get you and Katrina to respond?
Because I`m sure viewers listening would say, OK, sounds good. And you`re being optimistic. Nothing wrong with that.
MELBER: But, at this moment, with what Trumpism has wrought, and this national reckoning across the country, there is certainly a policy difference. I`m not saying who`s better or worse, but there is a measurable policy difference between someone like Karen Bass, who comes out of a progressive tradition and was picked by people like John Lewis to run the Congressional Black Caucus, of course, and, say, a Susan Rice, who is, as far as we know at this point, much more of a Washington foreign policy establishment wonk.
Great for her. She`s good at those things, but there`s certainly a difference.
GIBBS LEGER: I think there is a difference.
MELBER: Well, I will go Daniella, then Katrina. I`m sorry. I will go Daniella, then Katrina. That was my bad.
GIBBS LEGER: Sorry.
Yes, there is a difference. But, like I said, I think the most important thing is what his platform is and what policies he`s going to champion as president.
And he will -- of course, the vice president will be an important ear, an important adviser to a hopeful President Biden. But I don`t think that the differences between those two particular people or any particular vice presidential candidate is what`s most important.
It really is what`s most important is what comes out of Vice President, hopefully, president-elect, Joe Biden`s mouth saying, these are going to be my priorities as soon as I get in the White House, and then the rest of us holding their feet to the fire.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I think that`s right.
I also think, though, that you want a vice presidential candidate -- though Trump is your best get-out-the-vote card, you want someone who may bring out younger people.
I didn`t talk before about Cori Bush`s background. I mean, she comes out of Ferguson. She came into politics after Michael Brown was killed by police. She`s been evicted. She has been in the street protesting.
These groups I mentioned are multiracial, Color of Change, others on the ground, and populist, economically progressive. So I do think you want a candidate who can rouse that base, which I wouldn`t take for granted, though Trump again is the biggest card.
I do think, on Susan Rice, I have to say we don`t talk about it enough, but Joe Biden`s foreign policy. This is a time, if there ever was a time, Ari, to reimagine what security means. And the militarized security, the Cold War policies, the hawkish liberal elements of the Democratic Party should really think hard.
And I worry Susan Rice is part of that wing. And I think we can do much stronger rethinking, again, a policy of realism, restraint and prioritizing, giving priority to non-military solutions, peace.
MELBER: I mean, Daniella, you can`t argue with peace. We...
GIBBS LEGER: Can`t argue with peace.
MELBER: Give it a chance, as they say.
Let me get you on more big thing...
GIBBS LEGER: Yes.
MELBER: ... which is we have a rule on THE BEAT where we do not cover non- news events that just emit from the president`s Twitter feed.
But when things become actual things in the world, because they have action, they impact people`s lives, we cover it. So we haven`t covered a lot of the threats. But the president and his campaign are now actually going to court trying to restrict voting access.
I will read you the headline Daniella, Trump campaign suing to stop Nevadans from voting by mail. But that`s what you have. You have a sitting president before the election has started literally going to court to try to stop voting. Your response?
GIBBS LEGER: My response is probably something that I can`t say on air right now.
It makes me very angry that the president of the United States and the Republican Party are focused on restricting the number of people who can vote, period. That`s that endgame. And we`re in the middle of a pandemic, which makes it even worse.
The lies that he spews about fraud happening by vote by mail, all of that, it is not true. And it has been proven not to be true over and over again. And it`s because he is afraid of the maximum amount of people in this country casting their ballots.
And I don`t know why that is, but it`s disgusting and despicable.
And I just want to say, happy birthday, mom.
MELBER: Happy birthday.
GIBBS LEGER: But I wanted to get it in.
MELBER: Hey, we can get it in. You`re a long time Beatnik.
Can you tell us something? What can I say to your -- what can I say to your mom, since you brought it up?
GIBBS LEGER: You can say to my mom that her grandson misses her very much and that, as soon as our country can get our COVID stuff together, I`m on the first plane to go see her, as soon as (INAUDIBLE) lets us in.
You heard it here first. This is what we call primary source reporting.
MELBER: And happy birthday. Give peace a chance.
A great panel around. Daniella and Katrina, thanks to both of you.
Let me tell everyone what we have to come, because, in this show, we have something we have been working on, a policing fact-check, so you understand the facts and some of the misleading claims coming from Attorney General Barr, new incidents caught on tape.
But coming up, we have a very special guest on Donald Trump, the rule of law, and the criminal probe against him, Jeffrey Toobin, yes, that Jeffrey Toobin, on THE BEAT next.
MELBER: Now we turn to one of the most prominent legal voices in America, Jeffrey Toobin, who served as a federal prosecutor, a lawyer for the Iran- Contra independent counsel. He`s a "New Yorker" writer, CNN`s chief legal analyst, the author of several bestselling legal books, including a new one on the Mueller probe, "True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump."
Jeffrey Toobin, as an admirer of your work and a colleague, thanks for making your debut on THE BEAT, sir.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, AUTHOR, "TRUE CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS: THE INVESTIGATION OF DONALD TRUMP": Thanks, buddy. It`s great to be here.
MELBER: I`m thrilled that we have got you over here, instead of the usual place you are.
And we`re going to get to this book.
TOOBIN: I`m going to break out in hives. It`s all good.
MELBER: We will get to your book.
But I want to start with some of the news. Attorney General Barr finally faced Congress, continues to be out on a warpath, told the members of Congress, hey, are you surprised I`m a Republican, minimized the documented police killings of black Americans, and continues to do favors for Donald Trump.
What do you think of Bill Barr`s role right now heading into this pivotal election?
TOOBIN: Well, we have had politically motivated attorneys general throughout our history, but I don`t think we have seen anything like this in -- certainly in the modern era.
And I think it`s important for people to realize that there is a fundamental disbelief on the part of Barr and many people around him that there is any problem with policing in this country. They don`t believe that there is systemic racism, and they don`t believe that there`s racism.
I mean, it is really a -- it`s not like he`s positioning himself. It`s true. That`s what he really believes. And when you look at what he`s done in the Flynn case, what he`s done in the Roger Stone case, and this fishing expedition to trash the old guard at the FBI in the Connecticut U.S. attorney`s investigation, I mean, it`s just -- it hasn`t happened before.
We haven`t had an attorney general who is this transparent in doing the president`s bidding.
MELBER: And as we look towards this election night, do you expect that it could be a long one, an election week or more, like 2000, which you covered? And what do Americans take from it if there are legal battles?
TOOBIN: Well, I think, just as a practical matter, the counting of votes cannot possibly all be done on election night, as it has customarily been done, because of all the mail-in voting. I mean, you just can`t count all those votes on election night in the way that you can count the machines.
So that`s certainly going to be longer, even if there are no legal battles, and I expect there will be some. So, I mean, I think this is a very chilling and sober thing to consider, is that how difficult this election is going to be, both as a practical matter to get done, and to get accepted by the American people.
MELBER: Very interesting. And you have been there, and you will be busy if it turns that way.
I want to now look at the book. We have put together just very brief highlights of your grades of the Mueller probe. So, we will put these up now, drawn from your book.
You say, basically, he ran a fair investigation, but he avoided Trump`s finances. He didn`t demand Trump sit for an interview, and he found major evidence of criminal obstruction, but then didn`t issue a clear conclusion.
What is important about what you found in your reporting here about a probe that we all lived through?
TOOBIN: Well, I think points one, three and four are really the most important there.
I give Mueller and his team tremendous credit for their thoroughness, for their ethics, for their integrity.
But I think Mueller really failed when he did not seek a real interview with the president. And in my book, it`s a long saga. I mean, one of the great pleasures, as you covered this story, I covered this story, we had no inside access to the workings of the office as it was happening.
TOOBIN: But, in my book, looking back, I really did -- I was able to talk to the Mueller people, as well as the Trump people.
And I think that what we have to acknowledge is that the Trump lawyers really outmaneuver the Mueller lawyers by extending the debate over the subpoena so long that Mueller felt a legal fight would have just dragged this thing on too long.
And that was a conscious strategy. And Rudy Giuliani, for all his nuttiness on television, recognized that and did an effective job, both politicizing Mueller as an enemy of the president and by dragging out the subpoena fight, to the point where Mueller had to settle for these really ridiculous written questions and answers that were of virtually no value.
MELBER: Yes, and you lay that out, which is super interesting, even for people who, understandably, give Mueller a lot of respect or benefit of the doubt.
But you also look at this strange cast of characters of witnesses. I`m reading here from your discussion of Jerome Corsi, who is the only person that was actually threatened with a written draft indictment and wasn`t indicted.
You write: "Corsi stared them down. They filed no charges against him. The surrender on Corsi made Mueller`s plans clearer than any announcement: He was finished."
And unlike some other probes, and I mentioned for viewers, way back in the day, you were a part of an independent counsel probe, we were hearing from some of these witnesses in real time.
I want to play a little bit of our interviews with several of them for your analysis, now that we have your book and your 2020 hindsight. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Did you speak to the FBI or Mueller`s prosecutors?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason us three are essentially in there is because of Stone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he goes around and lies and says that he was -- I was the only person he told as a joke that he met with Julian Assange, give me a break.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I think you`re putting your old friend in danger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he put us all in danger, by the way, Mike.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t believe that, at the time, they believed that Donald Trump was involved. I believe right now they still think there was some kind of coordination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: There were multiple witnesses...
TOOBIN: Can we just stop and say...
MELBER: Go ahead.
TOOBIN: ... how great it was to have the four of them together?
It was, as far as I`m concerned, the bar scene in "Star Wars," the four of them all together, Corsi and company.
Corsi, he stared them down. I mean, I was a federal prosecutor. When you send someone a draft indictment or a draft...
TOOBIN: ... that means you`re getting indicted. And they sent Corsi one.
And Corsi not only didn`t sign it, but he just distributed it publicly. And he said, I`m not signing. I`m not doing it.
And you know what? I mean, look, he was a fringe figure in all of this, but I think it was indicative of the fact that Mueller did not push every button he could have.
And the irony is that Trump and his supporters have said, oh, they were so aggressive, they were so outrageous. The things that Mueller didn`t do were from the absence of zeal, not an excess of zeal.
MELBER: Absence of zeal. And you take a look at those witnesses.
I heard from one person who was in those rooms. They said, look, you knew the investigation wasn`t going to the top when it ends with Corsi and Stone and these sort of, as you put it, fringe figures.
Did you find that, or do you think, at the end of the day, although it may not be provable, there was more of a there, there potentially when it came to outreach to a foreign power?
TOOBIN: You know, that is the great unanswered question, and I wish I could give you a solid answer.
Mueller did not go beyond 2015. He did not look at Trump`s tax returns. He did not look at Trump`s Deutsche Bank records. He did not try to unravel the question that so many of us have struggled with is, what is it about Vladimir Putin and Russia that Trump continues to defer to?
Why does he never criticize Putin? And that question remains unanswered. And Mueller didn`t seek it out.
I`m a little more sympathetic to him in that area, because it was outside his original jurisdiction. It`s not like his failure on the subpoena. It`s not like his failure to spell out in plain English that Trump obstructed justice in a way that was far worse than either Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon, as far as I`m concerned.
And you make -- Jeffrey, you make a crucial distinction there between the jurisdiction, which is the rules, and then the actual attitude, which was, yes, Mueller was no star when it came to pushing the boundaries.
I`m running out of time. My last question for you is just a trick question. As your readers and fans will debate, do you think this book is better than your classic O.J. book, "The Run of His Life"?
TOOBIN: You know, it was harder to write, I will tell you that, because it was a moving target throughout, and to say nothing of finishing it during COVID.
TOOBIN: This story -- what I loved about this story was that so much of it had not been told before, is that -- the O.J. case unfolded. It was pretty much what you see is what you get.
But all of us suffered in ignorance during the Mueller investigation.
TOOBIN: And I like to think that I`m telling people a lot of stuff they didn`t know.
MELBER: Well, it`s fascinating, which is why I wanted to have you on. It`s a good one.
I will say, as a reader, "The Run of His Life" is one of the best books about a court case ever. So, you have a high bar to meet when you`re writing your own books.
TOOBIN: Well, you`re the man. You`re the man.
MELBER: Jeffrey Toobin, counselor.
The book, again, is "True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump." We recommend it.
Thank you, Jeffrey.
Coming up, we turn to the outrage, as Colorado police were cuffing kids at gunpoint, and then not arresting them because they didn`t do anything wrong. Attorney General Barr, also, fact-check, our breakdown -- coming up.
MELBER: This ongoing reckoning of policing continues across the country, with new reports of alleged racial profiling incidents drawing important scrutiny, stories that offer a factual contrast to an emerging defense by Trump officials like Bill Barr, who denies systemic racism, as evidence points to certain data.
And he has been pointing to some data on a subset of police killings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: And I don`t agree that there`s systemic racism in police departments.
The fact is that these events are, fortunately, quite rare. According to statistics compiled by "The Washington Post," the number of unarmed black men killed by police so far this year is eight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Barr may be arguing that he thinks eight is not a large number.
But that same "Washington Post" source actually found 976 total people shot and killed by police in the past year, with black Americans killed at more than twice the rate of white Americans.
So, the disparities in killings are documented.
But this also goes beyond horrific killings. The scrutiny on systemic racism does go, of course, beyond the most extreme thing an officer could possibly do, kill someone, to also probe how racial profiling and racism can infect many parts of policing, from when police choose to de-escalate or escalate, to when they give people a break on a technicality, instead of throwing the book at them, to who the police stop in the first place, like this new video of Colorado police pulling over a black woman and taking some escalating measures, like ordering four children, at gunpoint, to lie face-down in the parking lot, leading to this scene.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want my mother.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I have my sister next to me?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Those are children. You can hear and see yourself what happened, a witness describing the moments leading up to that stop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER WURTZ, WITNESS: I saw a car next to me with four girls in it. Feet were up on the dash. It was real cute.
And next thing I know, the police pull up silently behind them and had guns drawn on the children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The officers say they were investigating a stolen vehicle.
The department, though, has already apologized. They say this was mistaken identity.
Here`s reaction from two of the women in the car who were pulled over and handcuffed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRITTANY GILLIAM, HANDCUFFED BY POLICE: That`s police brutality. I don`t give a damn what nobody say. That`s police brutality.
TERIANA THOMAS, HANDCUFFED BY POLICE: It`s like they don`t care. Who am I going to call when my life is in danger?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: A life in danger.
Now, we have been hearing these types of stories for decades in America, the documented concern that, for many communities of color, it is the police who pose the danger.
Now, that`s an incident there regarding local police.
There`s also scrutiny on Trump administration officials in the Secret Service who detained these two mothers who were then surrounded at gunpoint. They were handcuffed. They were detained without the legally required Miranda rights warning, according to "The Washington Post."
And adding to the cruelty, they were then stuck like that for 45 minutes. "The Post" reporting babies wailing in the backseat of the car.
One of the women pulled over says she could have been another Breonna Taylor, another innocent woman shot. She went on to say she thought the police are here to protect and serve, and now it`s really uncomfortable having lived through that.
The federal officers in that totally separate case, guess what, they offered the same defense we heard from Colorado police, mistaken identity. They were pursuing a stolen car.
The data shows these are not just incidents. This happens all the time in pockets of America large and small and, yes, places run by both political parties.
Consider the largest police force in the nation, the NYPD, which stopped hundreds of thousands of black people annually. The vast majority were not accused of anything, never even arrested, let alone convicted.
These numbers add up. They are the documented widespread American reality. And it is far different from these attempts you may hear to cherry-pick a small subset from the most extreme tragedies of killings to assure Americans, as Bill Barr did under oath, that what you keep seeing, what you keep hearing about is some sort of -- quote -- "rarity" that barely occurs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: The fact is that these events are, fortunately, quite rare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: There is nothing rare about this wider documented reports of profiling, of police stopping and detaining people without charges, or systemic bias.
The only question, as we continue to live through this year of national reckoning, is whether people listen more to what`s already being reported, and whether Americans decide to do something about it.
We wanted to bring you that important breakdown.
When we come back, there is a late piece of breaking news about New York prosecutors and how they`re going after Trump`s taxes. I have the update next.
MELBER: Breaking news late today on the criminal probe into Donald Trump out of the Manhattan DA`s office.
And the context here is key, because there have been two major legal questions swirling around Donald Trump`s first term. One, how would he get through the Mueller probe? We actually covered that tonight. And, two, would his long secret taxes ever be used legally or become public?
Well, now you have "The New York Times" tonight reporting the prosecutors in New York in that case, which has proceeded because of the Supreme Court victory on the tax matter, now has DA Cy Vance subpoenaing Trump`s longtime lender Deutsche Bank as part of this criminal investigation into Trump`s financial dealings.
The suggestion, according to this reporting, that the investigation could even extend well beyond the 2016 hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and another woman.
The report also confirms that Deutsche Bank is, yes, complying with the subpoena, meaning these debates about whether the law matters or whether Donald Trump can get around everything, well, it`s a lot harder once the Supreme Court says, A, your taxes are not off the table, and, B, third parties, in this case, the bank that did so much lending, well, they have to comply.
Donald Trump and his company, we should note, have previously denied any wrongdoing here.
But the big headline is, that DA investigation, which was even paused at one point, in deference to the feds, well, it`s not only alive and well. It`s been turbocharged by Donald Trump`s major loss at the Supreme Court over his secret taxes.
It`s a big update. We will have more on this story as it develops.
That does it for THE BEAT tonight, though. We will see you back here, hopefully, if you join us, tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
Don`t go anywhere, though, because "THE REIDOUT WITH JOY REID" is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END