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Biden VP Pick TRANSCRIPT: 8/6/20 The Beat w/ Ari Melber

Guests: Errin Haines, Cecile Richards

  ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to THE BEAT. I`m Ari Melber.

And we have a big night here and a busy show. The New York City DA has now  obtained the secret Trump financial documents at the center of that Supreme  Court case and appears to be following the money in a criminal probe. 

A former Mueller prosecutor, a veteran of that probe, joins us later  tonight. 

Plus, new reporting on Biden`s search for running me. We have a very  special report on that. Later tonight, I hope you will stay with me for it.

But we begin right now with the Trump campaign reeling, as this pandemic  stokes more economic problems, with a massive case count, to even some  anecdotal examples, like Donald Trump arriving in the key battleground  state of Ohio today without the customary greeting by the governor, because  he just tested positive for coronavirus. 

Now, there was a manufacturing plant tour. But Democrats say what happens  there is only drawing more attention to the Trump recession, 1.2 million  more Americans now filing for unemployment, but the White House is not  making progress on a relief bill.

Aides say they are trillions of dollars apart from the Democrats. 

Speaker Pelosi, meanwhile, emphasizing that the House already passed its  relief more than 11 weeks ago.

On the virus, Dr. Fauci`s guidance about a vaccine and it possibly coming  in later to widespread use is undercutting Donald Trump stoking different  expectations. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

QUESTION: So, what is the earliest we could see that, a vaccine?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sooner than the end of the  year. Could be much sooner.

QUESTION: Sooner than November 3?

(CROSSTALK) 

TRUMP: Oh, I think, in some cases, yes. It`s possible before, but right  around that time. 

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS  DISEASES: We`re trying very hard to ultimately get a vaccine that might be  available by the end of the year or the beginning of 2021. But that`s many  months away. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The doctor`s timeline appears to be based on the medical  information he has. Trump and his aides eying what sounds more like a  political calendar.

And 89 days to the election, the brand-new electoral map from NBC News  shows a rough projected guesstimate of, if the election were held now, how  Joe Biden could take the Electoral College. You see it there. That`s why  you see a lot of blue. 

But asking people who they are going to vote for in 89 days is a bit like  asking what they will eat for dinner in 89 days. If you`re not a foodie, if  you haven`t been thinking about it, you probably aren`t fully committed to  any one answer. 

The polls and the map do not tell us exactly what will happen 89 days from  now. But they offer a snapshot of what is happening around now, many people  currently bailing on Trump in many different states over the recession and  his handling of the virus.

And he apparently knows it, which is why he`s doing everything from suing  to discourage voting in some places, to saying desperate things about the  voting calendar, which he does not control. 

You heard him musing, for example, about a different election date, when  federal law leaves it and establishes it on November 3, whether the  president likes it or not. 

Let`s get right into it with Cecile Richards, co-founder of the women`s  civic group Supermajority, former president of Planned Parenthood, and  James Carville, a veteran of presidential campaigns, Bill Clinton`s lead  campaign strategist. And you may recognize him on your television screen as  an MSNBC election analyst.

Good to see both you.

JAMES CARVILLE, MSNBC ELECTION ANALYST: Thank you. 

CECILE RICHARDS, CO-FOUNDER, SUPERMAJORITY: Good to see you.

MELBER: James, I think you would agree and know from hard-earned  experience, the farther away and election is, the more can change. 

But what do you see in the fundamentals here that you think could endure? 

CARVILLE: Well, the first thing we got to do is secure funding for the  Postal Service and election officials around the country. 

And the Democrats negotiating this bill have to stand firm, and Democrats,  independents, and people who want change in this country have encourage  them to stand firm. 

That is the first thing that has to happen. Unless that happens, bad things  will follow. So, let`s buck everybody up as we go through this. 

I -- look, I think Trump was going to lose this before the coronavirus  pandemic. I think he`s going to lose it worse as a result of that. I think  they know that. And I think they`re going to try to do anything they can to  muck up this election and not let people vote. 

And the most important thing we can do right now is secure funding for the  Postal Service and secure the funding for secretaries of state and election  officials around the country.

MELBER: When you say you know that, as a strategist who has been inside  these kind of battles, what evidence do you see that makes you think they  know that? 

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, it`s a 80 percent wrong-track country, and  he`s an incumbent.

In the history of the world of democracy, no incumbent in an 80 percent  wrong-track country is going to win an election. It`s just fundamental --  just basically fundamentals. 

And -- but they -- if people know that, they`re going to try to muck it up.  William Barr, man, I wouldn`t trust him any further than I can throw in.  And I guarantee I couldn`t throw him a centimeter, he`s so fat.

But we have to be vigilant, and we have to give people the opportunity to  vote. I am completely confident that, if you give the American people the  chance, they`re going to vote for change, and they`re vote for change in  big numbers.

But we got to give them a chance. That`s what we got to do. 

MELBER: I would have to say, as a journalist, I don`t think Bill Barr`s  weight is relevant to the more substantive issues you raise, James. 

CARVILLE: No, it`s not, but I like to -- I like to make fun of him. It`s  just a gratuitous cheap shot, but I feel -- it makes me feel good to do it. 

MELBER: Cecile?

RICHARDS: Well, of course, I always agree with James. 

James, good to see you again. 

CARVILLE: Hi, Cecile.

RICHARDS: Look, I think the basics are true. 

Donald Trump has never taken this pandemic seriously. He`s never listened  to experts. He hasn`t had a plan. And six (AUDIO GAP) that is so evident. 

I will tell you, the one group of people who have had to have a plan, and  that`s women. They have had to have a plan to deal with their families,  their health care, their jobs, their kids. 

And that`s why you`re seeing right now -- and, James, I`d be interested in  your thoughts on this, but the reason that Donald Trump is not going to win  is because women have left him overwhelmingly across the country. 

I just looked at numbers for suburban women, the CBS poll, more than 30  percent of suburban women -- it`s a 30-point gap. In the state of Ohio,  where he just was, he can`t win that state, he can`t win any of these  states with a kind of gender gap we`re seeing. 

And it has been steady. This has not been a fluke. Women want a plan. They  want someone who can lead this country. And when you add to this ticket,  when Joe Biden announces his vice presidential running mate, I`m telling  you, women are on fire already, and they`re going to -- they will crawl  across broken glass to get to the polls in November. 

MELBER: Well, let`s take broken glass -- I would say broken glass  potentially from the shattered ceiling, if there is a broken barrier on the  ticket. 

I mean, you set it up, Cecile, so I had to.

Let`s take your question to James with what Donald Trump is doing perhaps  against those currents, bringing up new topics, things that he`s not known  for. He wasn`t known, I think it`s fair to say -- and you know I try to be  fair -- he was not known throughout his life for his religious activities,  or his fidelity to the faith. 

Not my business to grade, but it`s not what he was known for. But here he  is now, James. Take a look. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We`re running against radical left ideology. Their messenger, sleepy  Joe, he`s going to do things that nobody ever would ever think even  possible, because he`s following the radical left agenda, take away your  guns, destroy your Second Amendment, no religion, no anything, hurt the  Bible, hurt God. He`s against God. He`s against guns. He`s against energy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: James?

CARVILLE: Well, I was reading about that in 2 Corinthians while I was  sitting in Yosemite National Park. 

I mean, he`s a blathering fool. He`s going to say something. He is just  going to continue to make a fool of himself. And I don`t know why they`re  taking him off Twitter. They ought to leave him on everything, so he can  continue to demonstrate his stupidity. 

I mean, Biden, as I am, is a cradle Catholic. He`s totally -- a total guy.  And Trump is just going to -- they`re going to go -- and now he`s against  energy? I mean, I don`t know -- what do you -- how do you answer this? You  don`t. You just let him sit there and let the camera roll, so people can  see what a blathering idiot he is. 

MELBER: You know, Cecile, it`s always hard to get a full read on what --  where James is coming from. 

RICHARDS: I know. I know.

(LAUGHTER)

RICHARDS: He`s a man of mystery, but of strong opinions, right? 

MELBER: This is why it was rumored, James, it was rumored that Bill Clinton  was thinking about making you a diplomat, because you`re known for your  diplomacy, but then the ambassadorship just didn`t work out.

CARVILLE: Right. Guess not. I would have probably stepped on toes. 

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: But I think what I said, I think there`s real truth to it.

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Yes. You know what? I think a lot of viewers...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... forthrightly and bluntly, but I think, at the end of the day,  there`s truth to it. 

MELBER: Well, you`re being blunt. 

And I will take it to Cecile. A lot of viewers do come up to me. Now, we`re  physically distanced, but when I see them -- I still hear from people,  well, call it like it is. Look at the way the president is acting. It`s not  about blue or red, when you look at some of the conduct, particularly,  Cecile, what you were mentioning about women and families, during a health  care crisis, where the president is totally MIA or, worse, giving people  dangerous misinformation.

RICHARDS: Absolutely. 

And, again, that`s what we have been seeing consistently with women, women  across the board. 

We just got out of the field having talked to and then who are not usual  voters. And they are saying -- they are desperate to vote in this election,  because the -- they really never appreciated how much damage a president  could do to their lives economically. They`re so concerned about health  care. 

And then, of course, women, and not only women, but people across the  country, are expected to send their children back to school with no safety  measures in place. There is -- I think that the time has run out.

And this president hasn`t cared about numbers (AUDIO GAP). One person dies  every 80 seconds in this country from this pandemic. He doesn`t care about  numbers of deaths. He doesn`t care about numbers of unemployment. He  doesn`t care about numbers of infections. 

The only thing he seems to care about are poll numbers. And that`s what`s  driving all of his decision-making. And women are simply saying, we need a  leader, and you`re right, someone who can lead across party, across this  country. And Donald Trump had his chance, and he`s blown it.

MELBER: Well, and, James, I`m curious.

CARVILLE: Well, Ari, to Cecile`s point...

MELBER: Go ahead.

CARVILLE: To her point, I have been talking a lot of people doing focus  groups. Obviously, they call me.

And the rural women are turning on Trump, big time. And I have seen  evidence in polls. I see it in evidence of friends of mine who do focus  groups. And they have been so let down. And health care is just driving a  lot of this. 

It`s really driving this home. In Northern Wisconsin, in Western  Pennsylvania, places like that, he is going to do a lot worse in these  rural, predominantly white areas than anybody thinks. 

And it`s -- and Cecile knows this too. She`s from Texas. This is going to  be driven by women. They have had enough of this. All across the country,  not just in the urban areas, they know what`s happened to them, and they  know what`s happening to their children. And they know what`s happening to  their husbands. And you can feel it coming.

MELBER: I love it.

RICHARDS: And how exciting, James, to think...

MELBER: Go ahead.

RICHARDS: Well, just to think, this is the 100th anniversary of women  beginning to get the right to vote in this country, and to think, on the  100th anniversary this November, we will not only elect a new president,  women will be the majority voters. 

But, for the first time, we will have a woman in the executive branch  because we will have a woman vice president. I`m telling you, women are  excited about it. Of course, we`re all on edge waiting to hear, but whoever  this woman is, we`re going to get behind and get behind big time. 

(CROSSTALK)

MELBER: Well, that`s a point...

CARVILLE: That`s the attitude. That`s the attitude. We`re behind whoever it  is. We have -- we`re on the team. Let`s roll. 

MELBER: Well, I hear it.

And, Cecile, we have got a little more on what you`re referencing, which is  Joe Biden pledging to have a gender diversity ticket. He`s made that  pledge. We have more on that later in the show. 

James Carville, I always love -- I love having you on, as a student of  politics. I mean, I remember growing up watching "The War Room," where you  talk about Bush Sr., so yesterday, he looks like an old calendar. 

And when you`re on here, it`s the same voice. I would say, in a good way,  you haven`t changed in decades. 

CARVILLE: Well, thank you, Ari. That means a lot to me. And I love being on  the show with Cecile. She`s an old dear friend. Her mother was a very, very  dear friend of mine. 

She`s -- she comes from a great lineage. And she`s doing a great job. And  she`s standing up for these women around the country. And they`re ready to  go. Yes, I can feel in my bones.

MELBER: Amen. And happy to do an Ann Richards shout-out on our way out of  the segment.

Cecile and James, thanks to both of you. 

CARVILLE: Thank you, Ari.

RICHARDS: Thank you. 

MELBER: Appreciate it.

Coming up: big news about potential Trump prosecutions, depending what  happens and if and when he leaves office after one term. We have a top  prosecutor with experience on Bob Mueller`s team in the FBI, Andrew  Weissmann. 

Plus, tonight, our special report, as mentioned, on this big decision  facing Joe Biden and how it could literally shape whether or not he`s in  the position to oust Donald Trump from the White House. 

Later tonight, Michelle Obama making some deeply personal new comments  about her feelings of basically low-grade depression, looking at racial  injustice in Trump`s America. 

All that and news on a push to dissolve the NRA. We will explain. 

I`m Ari Melber, and you`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

MELBER: President Trump under mounting criminal legal pressure.

"The New York Times" with an update on a big story. You have Manhattan  district attorney Cy Vance subpoenaing Trump`s longtime lender Deutsche  Bank. This is part of a criminal investigation into Trump`s financial  dealings, Deutsche Bank complying with the subpoena, handing over detailed  records, financial statements, as well as -- this is interesting -- other  materials Mr. Trump had provided to the bank when he was seeking loans. 

Now, what does this all mean? Well, for one thing, it is obviously a wider- ranging probe following the money and the alleged or potential fraud out of  New York City. That`s where Trump`s organization is, his family, his  charity organizations, which were under fire for shenanigans. That`s what  they all are. 

Now, this is a local New York case. It`s not a federal case. So that`s very  important, because it means there`s no way that Donald Trump, in his role  as president, has any legal or managerial intersection, let alone pardon  power. 

Joe Biden -- excuse me -- Joe Biden, meanwhile, making news with this  comment:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will not interfere with the  Justice Department`s judgment of whether or not they think they should  pursue the prosecution of anyone that they think has violated the law.

But I also am not going to...

QUESTION: Including the former president?

BIDEN: It depends on what happens. It depends on what happens. I think it  is a very, very unusual thing, and probably not very -- very -- how can I  say it? -- good for democracy to be talking about prosecuting former  presidents. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: We are joined now by a veteran of the Mueller probe, a former  prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York, a counsel at the FBI, and  you may know him as an MSNBC legal analyst, Andrew Weissmann.

Sir, how are you? 

ANDREW WEISSMANN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I`m good. It`s a tough act to follow  from your last segment. 

MELBER: What were you thinking watching big Carville up there? 

WEISSMANN: I`m thinking that he`s much more plainspoken than I am. 

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: And, as I pointed out, perhaps, to some ears, particularly  personally plainspoken. But we`re glad you`re enjoying that.

WEISSMANN: Yes. 

MELBER: You look at this story, Andrew, you have a tremendous experience  and everyone understands, in your role, there are things you still don`t  say under the law and the rules. 

But when you look at the DA moving forward, what do you glean from this? 

WEISSMANN: So, what I glean from this is confirmation of what the DA said a  few days ago.

He filed in connection, with a skirmish that is still going on in  connection with the subpoena for the material from the Mazars -- that`s the  accountants for the Trump Organization -- in connection with that dispute,  which, remarkably, is still going on, even after the DA won in the Supreme  Court. 

The DA just represented to the court that this investigation is far beyond  just hush money payments. So, if "The New York Times"` reporting is  accurate, that, indeed, the Manhattan DA`s office has now obtained  information from Deutsche Bank, the Trump organism longtime lender, that  lends a lot of credence to what the Manhattan DA has said, and really seems  like a very classic case of white-collar investigation. 

MELBER: This also goes to something that, in our somewhat cynical era,  people can forget, because people say, oh, well, if a politician, Trump or  whomever, gets away with a lot and breaks rules -- and, as you know, you  were involved in a probe where some people feel that he got off, regardless  of what he said and did -- oh, nothing matters anymore, when, in fact, you  have spoken about this before. 

I`m curious if you could walk us through the fact that there are third  parties, whether it`s that accounting firm you mentioned or a bank, the  bank already complying. It`s not up to Donald Trump. 

WEISSMANN: Right. 

So, it`s -- this is something where a subpoena, particularly a state  subpoena, is something that the president of the United States has no  ability to control. This is not something that Bill Barr can actually do  the president`s bidding. The Manhattan DA`s office has the ability to go  forward. 

As you mentioned, there`s no pardon power at all when it comes to a state  prosecution. So, what I expect is, you`re going to see more subpoenas being  issued in a classic white-collar way. 

And it seems like it`s complicated, but it really isn`t. What`s going to be  sort of the focus for prosecutors is, what is the Trump Organization  representing to its lenders? Because they have an incentive to say they  have lots of income and lots of assets. 

And what the DA`s office is going to look at is, were those evaluations  that were being represented to Deutsche Bank and other lenders, were those  accurate or not?

So, there`s still a lot of work to do, but it seems like it`s taking sort  of a normal course for a white-collar investigation.

MELBER: In this type of situation, would a fair prosecutor, regardless of  whether the owner or majority owner of the business is a politician or not,  would a fair prosecutor indict just the Trump Organization, or potentially  Donald Trump personally as well? 

WEISSMANN: Well, obviously, look, this depends on what the facts show. 

I mean, you have to be able -- for a criminal case, you have to be able to  show, if you`re going to indict any individual -- it`s true for Donald  Trump or anybody in the Trump Organization -- you have to be able to show  that it was knowing and intentional that -- and so that`s a very high  standard. 

But I think that any fair prosecutor is not going to think, oh, let`s just  go after the organization. An organization can`t go to jail. If you have  the head of the organization committing a crime, it seems quite unlikely  that a prosecutor is going to say, let`s just go after the company, but not  the individuals. 

MELBER: Now, you are a colleague here now, but I`m going to ask you a  question that I would ask you even if you weren`t, if you were simply an  independent citizen...

WEISSMANN: OK.

MELBER: ... although you might not like it or want to answer it.

WEISSMANN: Shoot.

MELBER: Are you ready? 

WEISSMANN: I`m ready. 

MELBER: Based on the public evidence, is Cy Vance, as the Manhattan DA,  approaching this more aggressively than Bob Mueller did? 

WEISSMANN: It`s a good question. 

I hate to give you this answer, but we don`t know, because, so far, all we  have seen is what has happened sort of on the surface. And so we know two  things. We know about the effort to get at the accounting documents from  the Mazars, and we know about a "New York Times" report about Deutsche  Bank. 

If those are the only two things, which I highly doubt, then I`d say less  aggressive than Bob Mueller. But we don`t know the data to really be able  to say, is it more or less?

The one thing I can say is, Cy Vance and his office is terrific. I mean,  they`re really career people. And they do very, very good work. Certainly,  in connection with the Mazars subpoena, they have been tenacious. 

MELBER: This was a very nuanced, lawyerly, but precise answer. 

People may forget, when Bob Mueller wanted a lawyer at the FBI, and he`s  one of the best lawyers in the country, he chose you, for whatever reasons  he had. And here you have given us a nuanced answer that probably doesn`t  have a headline comparing the two individuals, Andrew. 

(LAUGHTER)

WEISSMANN: So sorry. 

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: Now, what would Carville have said? 

WEISSMANN: Yes, that would have been a really good question.

But I think even...

(CROSSTALK) 

MELBER: Go ahead.

WEISSMANN: ... he, without knowing all the data, might have said the same  thing. 

MELBER: OK.

Well, we appreciate, as always, your expertise, and your being game about  it, and there`s a lot more potentially coming down the pipe. We`re going to  watch the DA. 

So I hope you will come back. Always good to see you, sir. 

WEISSMANN: Nice to see you. 

MELBER: Thanks, Andrew. 

We`re turning it to this special report on the Biden V.P. search and how  Democrats say it could be crucial to beating Trump -- when I`m back in just  30 seconds. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

MELBER: Now to a decision that could reshape the effort to defeat President  Trump, Joe Biden saying he may announce his running mate any day. 

New reports that he`s down to a very short list, including well-known names  like Kamala Harris and Susan Rice and a few others, which brings us to  tonight`s "Backstory," our series that tries to provide substantive  reporting on one person in the presidential cycle.

We reported on Harris and Demings, and now we turn to a popular, but  probably lesser known figure on this list, Karen Bass. The California  congresswoman was picked by her peers to run the Congressional Black  Caucus. And she has a history in grassroots politics, from volunteering as  a teenager on the 1968 RFK campaign, then taking what she saw as basically  the lessons from working as a physician`s assistant and applying them to  social change. 

She founded a nonprofit that tackled community problems like poverty, drugs  and crime. And while some movements tout their charismatic and famous  leaders, Bass was saying back then that she didn`t want any celebrity-style  politics, even telling new recruits: "If you`re here to make a name for  yourself, you should find another place to work."

The organization the Community Coalition soon became one of L.A.`s largest  and most influential advocacy groups, according to "The New York Times,"  tackling longstanding issues like poverty, to newer developments that came  up, like the unrest and devastation after the protests and riots when the  cops who beat Rodney King were acquitted, and that was the response.

Bass that was out there surveying the damage and working on tangible  reforms afterward. She even wrote this 1992 op-ed about a campaign to limit  the many, many liquor stores that appeared in poorer neighborhoods, arguing  they stoked wider problems. 

Allies say that was classic Karen Bass, digging into a real issue that  mattered, regardless of whether it got any national attention. And, by the  way, the saturation of liquor stores in poor and minority communities is a  longstanding issue. 

Shawn Carter himself famously intoned, "Mr. Governor, I swear there`s a  cover-up. Every other corner, there`s a liquor store. F is up?"

And there`s a direct line from that early `90s grassroots work to how Bass  tackles justice reform now. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): As I watched the news those three days, realizing  that the organization was going to be put in a situation where we were  going to have to step up. 

We are supposed to be the beacon of hope for human rights in other  countries. And the Justice in Policing Act is a bill for human rights in  our country. 

We are not going to stop until we get a transformative bill on the  president`s desk. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That`s where you see Bass now, as a national leader.

And that`s partly because her own congressional colleagues picked her. But  that trend first began in the California legislature, where her state  colleagues chose her to be assembly speaker, breaking a barrier out of all  50 states in the union. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thunderous applause and a rock star-like greeting today  for the new assembly speaker, Karen Bass, who was feeling:

BASS: The weight of history on my shoulders today, as the first African  American woman in U.S. history elected to be speaker of a legislative body. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

MELBER: That was 2008, but there was basically no time to savor the  historic first.

Bass was running a legislature that was running into an immediate crisis. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Meltdown. The American financial system is  rocked to its foundations.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: Stocks plunge after the opening bell, as wary  investors digest yet another blow to the economy. 

WILLIAMS: It was perhaps the worst financial collapse since the Great  Depression. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With California house prices falling by 50 percent or  more, those who bought during the bubble are in big trouble.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: The financial crash rocked California, destroying state revenue.  And when it struggled with debts, the state`s credit score was downgraded. 

Now, as Democrats eye Bass for a job that is pretty close to running, of  course, the whole country, this is where she actually has more experience  than many members of Congress.

As California speaker, she was the government official responsible for an  economy that, if it were a country, would be about the fifth largest in the  whole world, between Germany and India. 

She was responsible for all of that, in tandem with one other official, the  Governator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORMER GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R-CA): We have declared a fiscal  emergency. And every day that goes by makes the budget problem that much  harder to solve. 

As a result of all of this, California, the eighth largest economy in the  world, faces insolvency within weeks. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: All of that meant Bass, the longtime activist and the community  organizer, was now a top government official hurtling towards a pitched  battle with Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

And, of course, he`s had other battles in his life and on screen, but this  was, if you think about it, even more complicated than the duel in the film  "T2," because, while Bass was set to play the role of an epic nemesis to  Arnold, if you think about it, it was even more difficult than a one-on- one, because, under the state law rules, you needed a two-thirds  supermajority for budget votes, meaning Bass, who was popular among her  colleagues, now had to press on them and get hard calls made, and also win  over three Republican votes. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASS: Well, I think the biggest obstacle, which I hope that we can  overcome, is if both sides of it approach it in real ideological terms. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, then, as now, Bass was a liberal Democrat, but she approached  that task trying to lead towards an actual solution, not just get her own  ideological way.

And people working on the budget noted that Republicans wanted to cut  spending, Democrats wanted to raise taxes. It was a classic dilemma, but  the hole there, the budget hole was so big, one top Republican noting: "We  could never cut enough to balance the budget, nor raise taxes enough to  balance the budget."

They needed more. They needed a deal. The pressure was on for both sides to  compromise on ideology, on campaign pledges. And then, because it`s hard to  get politicians to do, recession or not, when some of them wouldn`t budge,  with millions of jobs on the line -- this was a huge deal -- Bass was  telling her colleagues, you`re not leaving until you reach a deal,  literally. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A rear sight in the California state capitol last  night, the legislature locked down, the leaders forcing lawmakers to come  up with a budget plan or a place to sleep. 

BASS: Our members are here, and they`re going to be here until we get this  deal done. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: How about that? 

Now, Bass won some hard compromises, but then found the governor wouldn`t  even sign that. And she started playing hardball in public. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASS: It`s like a child telling Santa, if you don`t bring every single item  on my list, then stay out of my chimney. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: That was her view of Governor Schwarzenegger. 

Meanwhile, regular Californians were suffering during that recession, the  government stalling out and potentially bailing on its own obligations. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Californians will not get tax refund checks if we do not  act. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The comptroller`s office is actively considering issuing  IOUs, instead of refunds, due to a cash squeeze.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Considering that I work, and I pay my taxes, of  course, I want some of my money back. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: So, as Democrats and Joe Biden look for a doer, someone who can  really lead and deal with big, hard calls, not just give floor speeches,  you have to look at the scale and the scope of this.

Many may have forgotten that this was the issue facing millions of people`s  everyday lives. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHWARZENEGGER: This latest action to solve our $42 billion deficit was  difficult, but courageous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Courage by who? I didn`t see any courage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have courage. We have brains. We have hearts. The  legislators and the governor need to get a brain and use it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: There was heat on all sides. And Bass was facing Democrats concerned about deep cuts to education and social programs, and she  acknowledged once unthinkable cuts were needed. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

BASS: For Democrats, I have to tell you that many of the cuts that we had  to make, in another time, we would have thought were unthinkable. But  because of the unprecedented and ongoing recession that`s plaguing our  nation and our state, we certainly did not feel that we had a choice. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Bass and Schwarzenegger kept at it, pushing, making concessions. 

And then it brings us naturally to another one of his movies, the little  known 1970 film "Hercules in New York."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Skip the wisecracks. Put your money where your mouth  is. 

SCHWARZENEGGER: I do not have any money. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: All right, you asked for it. 

SCHWARZENEGGER: You have struck Hercules. 

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: This will teach you respect for your elders!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: OK, why are we talking about this right now? 

Because, however bad that movie looks, the negotiations were even worse.  And before you think, wait, Ari, that`s pretty harsh to Arnold, keep in  mind, that was actually Arnold`s line. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHWARZENEGGER: The negotiations were worse than sitting through my first  movie, "Hercules in New York."

(LAUGHTER)

SCHWARZENEGGER: And let me tell you, when I say that, that means a lot. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Now, however painful it was to get through, after those sleepless  marathon sessions, and the standoffs and the posturing, that governor and  Bass reached a deal, averting the fiscal crisis that both had said would be  far worse without a deal, that news echoing across the state. 

The plan slashed basically public health programs, crucial programs, and  some other popular liberal agendas by over $14 billion. It also -- on the  conservative side, what they were worried about -- it hiked taxes by over  $12 billion. 

A deal with pain for all sides meant the governor and his Republican  colleagues were breaking their pledges against new taxes, some Republicans  losing their seats over it in the next election, while Bass insisted that  it was needed to save the economy by pruning parts of the safety net and  arguing the net itself could still work. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASS: We have closed the deficit in a responsible manner, and wanted to  make sure that, during this time of economic recession, when people need  services more, that we did not eliminate the safety net for California. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And there you have it. To cite a simple lesson from Coldplay,  nobody said it was easy. 

Now, Bass did deliver on the consensus, and one of her Republican  colleagues credited her, saying: "There aren`t a lot of people are well- liked and well-respected. Karen is one of them."

A former assembly speaker credited the leadership on display, touting Bass  as a coalition builder who wanted the buy-in. 

And then, in a scene that might be pretty hard to imagine happening now,  she joined up with her Republican colleagues to accept a joint bipartisan  award, not for beating the other side, but for working together. 

And then -- we were digging through all this and we found it -- in classic  Bass fashion, while accepting a John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award,  which probably meant extra to her, given the long-ago work with the Kennedy  family, she took it and she made that night all about her colleagues for  getting the deal done. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASS: I will be accepting this award on behalf of all the women and men of  the California Assembly who painfully cast tough votes in a time of crisis. 

I also will accept it as motivation to continue fighting, fighting to  protect the integrity and the promise of public education and higher  education in California, the foundation of the future for California. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: An ambitious Democratic politician gets a Kennedy Award and makes  it about other people. 

That`s part of the spirit that some of Bass` allies say distinguish her  from other politicians, which is how she earned that trust in the Assembly,  and found herself tapped again to lead the CBC, a coalition with plenty of  experienced leaders and big personalities. 

It`s why her allies hope Biden basically does his vetting homework, when  comparing the experience of multiple qualified contenders. 

Bass` critics argue against her more vocal liberal positions going on the  ticket now. And some say the sacrifices that she did negotiate with the  Governator at the state level are not a model for Democrats to replicate  anytime soon. 

But when you take a little bit of time here and look at her record, it`s  just a reminder of how superficial the political lens in Washington can be,  reducing people`s entire careers to categories or a simple ideology, since  this liberal official`s really most consequential achievement for her  constituents was achieving a centrist and bipartisan deal. 

Now, as I have told you before, in this series, we don`t try to tackle  every issue in one contender`s past. It`s a whole life they have lived, let  alone endorse the different people that we`re looking at. 

But I will tell you, at a time when a lot of Americans look up and see a  broken politics, we do try to take the time to go beyond those labels and  categories and learn a little bit more about these people who might be on  the ticket. 

And, with Karen Bass, you see a whole rich history you might not have  known, as Joe Biden decides who he would like to run to be potentially a  heartbeat away from the presidency. 

That`s our special report. 

We have a lot more on the program tonight, though, a new lawsuit from New  York`s attorney general going after the NRA, and a special guest on the  outrage after police handcuffed children at gunpoint, a story we first  brought you earlier this week. 

Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CRYING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want my mother.

(CRYING)

(SCREAMING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I have my sister next to me?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: Just a little bit of the disturbing video of a wrongful police stop  of a black family in Colorado. 

That`s a story we first brought you earlier this week fact-checking claims  by Attorney General Bill Barr. We return to it in a wider discussion. 

I`m thrilled to tell you we`re joined by Errin Haines, a journalist who has  just launched The 19th, a newsroom reporting at the intersection of gender  politics and policy. 

How are you? 

ERRIN HAINES, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE 19TH: Not bad, for somebody who just  started up a whole newsroom. So, thanks so much for the congratulations,  Ari. I really appreciate it. 

MELBER: Absolutely. 

We have had you on the program before, but The 19th is out there, and we do  encourage people to check it out, particularly given the range of stories  you`re covering. 

And so, obviously, bringing you back on the program to look at this tough  one. We went through some of the fact-checking and how this is, very  tragically, routine across the nation. 

There are times where we say, oh, it`s alleged or it`s to be litigated.  This isn`t one of those times, as I told viewers, because police have  already apologized, they have said this was wrong. 

What do you see here that`s important for people to understand, in this  year of reckoning over policing? 

HAINES: Well, again, I think that we`re seeing the power of video to really  prove the lived experience of so many black Americans in this country. 

Listen, we know that what was seen in that horrifying and upsetting footage  is something that is the worst nightmare of so many black mothers and  fathers, right, of children who are watching the things that -- incidents  like George Floyd or Breonna Taylor or Ahmaud Arbery, and are wondering,  could I be next?

You look at that video, and you think about the pavement, how hot -- I  mean, it`s summertime. Is it hot? They`re crying out for their siblings. It  just is -- it`s something that really gives a picture and voice to an  experience that people have long talked about in a way that makes this more  about facts and not just feelings.

MELBER: And something we have reported on a lot is the fact that the misuse  of what we might call black progress in America as a cover or fig leaf for  racism in America. 

So, yes, Barack Obama was elected. And, yes, there has been progress from  the `60s, including laws that Martin Luther King forced the Congress to  pass. But, no, it doesn`t mean everything`s OK. 

I say that in service of listening something brand-new from Michelle Obama  that`s quite powerful that I want everyone to just hear.

This was her speaking quite candidly about all of this. Take a listen. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY: I know that I am dealing with some form  of low-grade depression, not just because of the quarantine, but because of  the racial strife. And just seeing this administration, watching the  hypocrisy of it day in and day out is dispiriting. 

Waking up to yet another story of a black man or a black person somehow  being dehumanized or hurt or killed or falsely accused of something, it is  exhausting. 

(END AUDIO CLIP) 

MELBER: Your response? 

HAINES: Well, my response is that, even in a pandemic, racism does not take  a break. 

What we heard from the former first lady is something that I have heard  echoed from black mothers that I know and talk to across the country, that  they are exhausted dealing with the dual pandemics of coronavirus and  racism, both from a global health and economic standpoint, but also the  day-to-day toll that racism takes on us, even under normal circumstances. 

So, imagine trying to navigate the pandemic, which would be a lot for any  of us in this country, but then also having to talk to your children about  the things that they are seeing on TV, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud  Arbery, the video out of Colorado that you just showed.

And so I think that what Michelle Obama is speaking to is giving voice to  the way that a lot of black women, I know, are feeling. And it`s why it`s  hard to kind of celebrate things like the 55th anniversary of the Voting  Rights Act, which is today, knowing that these things are still happening  in America, despite the progress that has been hard-fought in this country  by black Americans.

MELBER: Makes a lot of sense, what you say. And, again, it`s a time for  continued vigorous reporting and scrutiny on this, which you`re doing, and  then a lot of us listening and making sure that what started this year is  not just something that gets pushed along or forgotten.

And I thought Michelle Obama`s a powerful person. She`s sharing with us,  almost in a potentially vulnerable way, what this feels like, so that we  hear it. 

Errin, I look forward to having you back. 

HAINES: Thank you so much. Look forward to coming back any time.

Please check out 19thnews.org, if you haven`t already, everybody. Thanks.

MELBER: Look at that, ready, like a -- even amidst all the other sad stuff,  like a candidate dropping your URL on the debate stage. 

(LAUGHTER)

MELBER: Thank you, Errin.

HAINES: Oh, if nothing else, I`m definitely campaigning for The 19th, so  thank you. 

MELBER: Hey, hey, hey, the 19th, check it out. 

Thank you. We will see you again. 

We fit in a break, but there`s a new push in New York to legally dissolve  the NRA, and Neil Young suing Donald Trump. Wait until you hear it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

MELBER: New York state making a formal legal move to try to dissolve the  NRA today, the attorney general, Letitia James, announcing a lawsuit  against the gun group. It operates as a nonprofit. 

The effort is to shut them down, alleging corruption, fraud and misuse of  funds. The NRA, strenuously rejecting the new accusations, it`s filed a  counterlawsuit in a New York court.

An interesting story we will stay on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

MELBER: Musician Neil Young taking legal action against the Trump campaign,  filing a new lawsuit, claiming Donald Trump is breaching copyright laws by  playing Young`s hits, like "Rockin` in the Free World."

That happened at Trump`s Tulsa and Mount Rushmore rallies just this summer.  The suit says the campaign is using the music as a kind of a -- quote --  "theme song" and accuses it of "divisive and un-American campaigning of  ignorance and hate," which Neil Young doesn`t want to cosign. 

That`s a little political musical update for you. 

Stay tuned right now. "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