Kamala Harris interview TRANSCRIPT: 5/20/20, MSNBC Live

Guests: Jill Colvin, Charlie Sykes, Patrice Harris, Kamala Harris, Errin Haines

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  That`s our show for tonight. Thanks for watching. We`ll be back here at 6:00 P.M. Eastern. And keep it here right now on MSNBC.

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

We have got a lot of news to get to tonight. In just a moment, I will be joined by Senator Kamala Harris of California.

But, first, a new poll today finds that 83 percent of Americans are at least somewhat concerned about lifting restrictions in their area. That may explain why Donald Trump`s allies are now plotting a P.R. campaign to rebut the advice of public health experts. NBC has confirmed an Associated Press report that Republican political operatives are recruiting extremely pro- Trump doctors to go on television and prescribe reviving the U.S. economy as quickly as possible without waiting to meet safety benchmarks.

And yet, with the health of the country on the line, Trump appears more interested in settling scores. Today, he openly teased a pardon for convicted felon Roger Stone, showing a complete disregard for the administration of justice.

And it all comes amid new questions of corruption surrounding Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. Just two days ago, Pompeo claimed that he didn`t know that he was under investigation when he asked the president to fire the inspector general who was looking into him. The new reporting now appears to contradict that denial.

According to The New York Times, Pompeo was, in fact, aware of the inquiry, at least one of them, which was scrutinizing arms sales to Saudi Arabia. As The Times revealed, Pompeo declined an interview request for the inspector general`s inquiry into whether the administration acted illegally. Pompeo, chose instead to answer written questions from investigators.

And not only that, but NBC News is now reporting that Pompeo was inviting billionaire CEOs, media celebrities, and political heavyweights to fancy dinners that he hosted roughly two dozen times on the taxpayer dime. State Department officials involved in the dinners said they had raised concerns internally that the events were essentially using federal resources to cultivate a donor and supporter base for Pompeo`s political ambitions. Complete with extensive contact information that gets sent back to Susan, Pompeo`s personal email address.

So, while it`s unclear whether the ousted inspector general was also investigating those dinners, NBC News reports that he made some type of inquiry into the protocol office last week before he was fired.

I`m joined now by Claire McCaskill, former Democratic Senator from Missouri. Jill Colvin is a White House Reporter for The Associated Press, and Charlie Sykes, he`s Editor at Large of the Bulwark. Thank you all for being here.

Jill, I`m going to start with you first. NBC News is reporting on these dinners. The dinners were named after James Madison, America`s Fourth President, fifth secretary of state who made a habit of inviting foreign diplomats to exchange ideas over dinner but historians could point to no precedent for a secretary of state playing host to such frequent gatherings paid for by State Department funds, involving public and political leaders.

We have some photos of these dinners. These are these Madison dinner invitations, and some of invitee`s, included political and government, about 30 percent of them were political and government, 29 percent were corporate global types, media entertainment, 23 percent, diplomats, foreign officials. No precedent for this. Is this something that is sort of common in the Trump administration? Because this is odd.

JILL COLVIN, ASSOCIATED PRESS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  Yes. Well, look, there`s nothing wrong with a secretary of state or another cabinet official having dinners, informal gatherings of prominent individuals in the case of a secretary of state to have diplomats from other countries, other, you know, representatives of foreign leaders, maybe even some corporate folks that the state department might interact with.

But the list of attendees here for those NBC obtained invite lists included a whole host of other people, including many that he could potentially call on if he does ever at any point choose to go forward with a senatorial political campaign. These are, you know, Fox News hosts, you know, celebrities, folks that are not typically invited to these kinds of dinners.

But as you saw the president`s reaction this week, he has really just brushed off some of these other allegations including the idea that the I.G. was potentially looking into instances where Pompeo`s government paid staffers may have done personal errands for him, like walking his dog.

REID:  Well, perfect.

You know, you could do, Claire McCaskill, the what would Obama -- what would the right do if Obama, right? I mean, it`s sort of -- or if it was Hillary Clinton. Here is Mike Pompeo`s response to The New York Times story. And this was -- on he`s written responses to the inspector general. Let`s listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  I recommend it to the president, to Steve Linick be terminated. He frankly should have done it some time ago. There claims that this was for retaliation for some investigation that the inspector general`s office here was engaged in. That`s patently false. I have no sense of what investigations were taking place inside the inspector general`s office.

There`s one exception, I was asked a series of questions in writing. I responded to those questions with respect to a particular investigation. I did what was right. I don`t know if that investigation is continuing. I don`t know if that investigation has been closed out. I don`t have any sense of that. Again, it`s not possible that there has been retaliation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID:  Claire, a normal United States Senate would be investigating this, let`s just be honest. If it was Hillary Clinton, they`d be investigating this. Nothing it seems to be being done. He`s just operating freely doing sell-ons (ph) paid by us, the taxpayer.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes. Normally, the chairman of the Homeland Security, Government Affairs Committee that has jurisdiction over the inspectors general community would be calling up a hearing. Instead, Ron Johnson in off on some idiotic trope on subpoenaing Hunter Biden stuff, which is just, you know, playing offense for the president on stuff that does not have anything to do with the character of Joe Biden.

You know, and there`s a couple things about this. First, all the I.G.s that are being fired makes this a crisis and the Republican senators know that. And did you say personal emails, did I hear that? The idea that the secretary of state`s wife was getting personal emails of intel about people attending taxpayer functions at the State Department. You know, is there anybody who has any shred of decency around the topic of hypocrisy? This is unbelievable.

And by the way, this inspector general, Joy, is the same one that investigated (INAUDIBLE). He went after a very aggressive investigation about her pay and conflict of interest, also looked into Hillary Clinton and her use of a private server and emails.

So this is not an inspector general who was playing for one team or the other. This was an inspector general who was trying to do his job, and, frankly, Pompeo wanted to make sure he didn`t.

REID:  You know, Charlie, you had eight years of Republican sort of imagining a different Obama, right? Sort of pretending that he was this evil, corrupt guy that was doing all the -- there was no hint of scandal in that administration. And yet we`re just seeing just it open now. We`re now just seeing people using their offices to make a list for future campaign run, if that`s what he was doing and having the taxpayer pay for it. And there is a sort of almost the sense of let them eat cake about this administration. And I wonder why that doesn`t offend more Republicans.

CHARLIE SYKES, THE BULWARK, EDITOR-AT-LARGE:  Well, we can spend a lot of time answering that particular question. Look, put this in the context of the way in which this administration has really become a kleptocracy, whether you`re talking about Trump himself, whether you`re talking about the family, other members of the cabinet.

I mean, remember, there have been other members of the cabinet who have been forced out for basically trying to emulate Donald Trump`s grift, including people like Scott Pruitt. Look, this is exactly what it looks like. And I think that what you`re seeing is the arrogance of power and the arrogance of non-accountability, that you`re seeing that, in fact, a president who claimed that he would come to Washington to drain the swamp has in fact filled the swamp with his own new lizard creatures.

And I don`t know that this will move the needle in any way considering what Republicans have been willing to tolerate, what the base has been willing to tolerate. But every once in a while there`s a dazzling detail that you have the secretary of state making the taxpayers pay to walk his dog. I don`t know whether that cuts through. Probably it doesn`t cut through. But right now, for an administration that ran as a populous, anti-elitist, anti-special interest, you know, movement, look at what we`re finding out about Secretary of State Pompeo.

And by the way, when he says that he does not know about the investigations, he`s obviously lying. I don`t think we need mince words about that. And I want to underline what Claire McCaskill just said. It is -- it`s really troubling and deeply embarrassing, I think, for my senior senator, I`m from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, at this particular moment, with all the things that he could be investigating, to basically doing for Donald Trump what the president of Ukraine would not do for him.

REID:  Yes, indeed. There is a noblesse oblige sort of vibe to this supposedly populous administration. I`m going to come back to you on this, Claire. I want to let you, as a former United States Senator, listen back to the president of the United States talking about the deaths, the rampant into shocking level of deaths that have taken place under his watch due to the pandemic. Here is what he had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  When we have a lot of cases, I don`t look at that as a bad thing. I look at that as, in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better. So if we were testing a million people instead of 14 million people, we would have far few cases, right? So I view it as a badge of honor. Really, it`s a badge of honor. It`s a great tribute to the testing and all of the work that a lot of professionals have done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID:  Okay, that`s not how the math of testing works, but I`m just going to let you comment on that. It`s a badge of honor, he says.

MCCASKILL:  It`s not a badge of honor. United States of America has about 4 percent of the world`s population. And we have almost 30 percent of the world`s deaths. I`m not talking about how many tests are being done, I`m talking about how many body bags there are. How many families -- something this president cannot acknowledge, the loss of families and friends of almost 100,000 Americans.

And, clearly, if he had not wanted this to go away, clearly, if he wasn`t focused on his own image instead of the health and safety of America, we could have done a much better job. We`ve been playing catch upon this ever since he ignored this problem for weeks on end and lied about it over and over again. At least the American people are now telling pollsters they don`t believe a word he says about this pandemic. And the deaths are going to continue to stack up and he`s not going to be able to get around that reality.

REID:  Yes. But, Charlie, some of it -- I mean, about a third of the people still believe everything that he says. I mean, what Donald Trump is doing, rather than face the truth and the horror of what`s happening in this country, is he`s hiring doctors, friendly doctors who come out and they will say, no, he`s doing a great job.

Well, Washington Public Relations Firm distribute and open letter to Trump signed by more than 400 doctors calling the state coronavirus lockdowns a mass casualty event. The first signature on the letter was Dr. Simone Gold, an Emergency Medicine Specialist in Los Angeles, who is listed as a member of the Save Our Country Coalition on the group`s website. She has recently appeared on conservative talk show podcasts program to advocate for the use of hydroxychloroquine, of course.

She told USA Today that she`s speaking out against shelter-in-place and other infection control measures because there was no basis that the average American should be concerned about COVID-19, denied she`s coordinating her efforts with Trump, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. This is what, right, it`s come to and it will work on some people. They`re going to just to have their own doctors say their own things and not science.

SYKES:  Well, before we do that, I wanted to just follow up that if shamelessness is Donald Trump`s super power, I think his lack of empathy is his Achilles heel. And that quote about badge of honor is going to be in a hundred television ads.

But to your point, the doctors have the right to speak out, but I think the key here is that they`re going to be used to say that the country ought to reopen without meeting the safety standards. That strikes me as skirting the dark edges of unethical behavior.

And I hope that (INAUDIBLE) is extremely skeptical here, because there`s an organization out there. It is called, I want to make this sure I get this right, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. And Brad Parscale, who is the president`s campaign manager, has been tweeting it out. This is an association of hacks and quacks. This is a group that has questions in between AIDS and HIV. They are anti-vaxers. They have suggested that nicotine is not addictive.

So, first of all, I think there ought to be skepticism of the people that are being trotted out. But then also, step back for a moment. If, in fact - - look, Donald Trump`s presidency is going to be determined on the success of the reopening whether or not people feel safe. To have doctors out there telling people to not take this as seriously, not adhere to the safety guidelines, runs the risk, I would think, of sabotaging his own reopening just like this politicization of the use of masks. So I think that this is another area where the tribalism might actually work against the Trump agenda.

REID:  Indeed. And we`re out of time. But, Jill, are we going to get a Roger Stone pardon as the cherry on this horrible Sunday, very quickly?

COLVIN:  That`s a key question here and that`s something that Roger and his lawyers are certainly paying a lot of attention to waiting, you know, to see what other signals they might get from the president. We saw him move recently on Michael Flynn, now Roger is the one waiting.

REID:  Yes. Everybody gets something. Everybody gets a prize. Thank you so much former Senator Claire McCaskill, Jill Colvin, Charlie Sykes, thank you guys very much.

Coming up, Donald Trump is once again sounding false cries of voter fraud. This time he says mail-in ballot are rigged, even though Trump himself voted by mail. I`ll ask Senator Kamala Harris about that and other inexplicable recent events from Trump world.

Plus, after blaming President Obama every time something goes wrong in his presidency, Trump`s election strategy should not surprise you, smear Obama.

We`ve got much more to get to. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID:  Welcome back.

Well, Donald Trump threatened financial retaliation against states trying to make it easier to vote during the pandemic.

In tweets this morning, he made the bogus claim that Michigan`s voters were sent absentee ballots, quote, illegally and without authorization from a rogue secretary of state, and threatened to withhold federal funding. He also attacked Nevada, although in neither case did he cite what federal funding he thinks can he withhold.

He later amended his tweet after Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson responded, noting she`d sent applications for ballots, not the ballots themselves, just like her Republican counterparts in three other states, because that is how absentee voting works. Secretary of state sends you an absentee ballot application, you fill it out, then you get to vote by mail.

You think Donald Trump would actually know that, because he himself voted by mail in Florida`s March primary. That, of course, hasn`t stopped him from stepping up his attacks in recent weeks, claiming that mail-in voting is rife with fraud and puts Republicans at a disadvantage.

A reminder:  There`s no evidence of any widespread voter fraud in the United States, according to numerous investigations and studies.

I`m joined now by Senator Kamala Harris of California.

And, Senator, I`m going to give you an opportunity to respond back to the president. He seems to think that voting by mail is cheating and bad.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA):  Yes.

Mr. President, it is a federal crime to withhold money from states with the purpose of interfering with people`s right to vote.

So, you may want to talk with your lawyer Bill Barr about that. And that would be my advice to the president.

But, you know, Joy, it -- clearly, he has done this because, one, he is always in the business of attempting to intimidate and using his tweets as the method by which he does that.

But, also, it`s clear that he`s worried about whether he`s going win this election. And so it is an attempt to suppress the vote, which is an attempt to have these states not send these applications for vote by mail, so that people will not get those applications to vote by mail, and then not vote by mail.

REID:  Yes.

K. HARRIS:  And, again, this is another example of Donald Trump being complicit with an attempt or even purposely attempting to suppress the vote in an election.

REID:  And, you know, there is the now infamous quote -- which I won`t even -- I won`t even ask the team to play it back -- where he says that -- he claims that there will be levels of voting, if you ever agreed to, you would never have a Republican elected again, essentially saying, if you have high levels of voting, no Republican would be elected.

It seems that he`s saying the quiet part out loud again.

K. HARRIS:  Right.

(LAUGHTER)

K. HARRIS:  Right.

But -- and if it weren`t so serious, it is absolutely comical. But we already know -- look, I serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee. We have published publicly the reports which indicate -- and the source of a lot of the information is from the -- all of the intelligence community of the United States -- that Russia attempted to interfere in the election of the president of the United States in 2016.

And they attempted to do it with a misinformation campaign, which was designed to turn people off, to make them suspicious or skeptical of our democracy and our election system.

And this is -- this is exactly what Donald Trump is attempting to do again. We have seen this playbook. He`s playing right into a playbook that we have seen before.

And so the important thing is that we make sure people aren`t duped into believing that their votes don`t matter and that our democracy is frail.

Our democracy will be as strong as the American people are strong in participating in it. And Donald Trump cannot ruin our democracy if we all turn out and we vote and we exhibit the power of the people.

REID:  Are you surprised that Donald Trump is proactively bringing up the help he got from Russia as a campaign strategy, that his strategy seems to be to go back and relitigate a done deal?

The Mueller report is -- it is what it is. The reports have already been done. Everybody understands Russia interfered.

Are you surprised that his strategy is to attack President Obama, who is extremely popular, and relitigate the fact that he was helped by Russia to get the job in the first place?

K. HARRIS:  My response to that -- and Claire McCaskill spoke so eloquently about it -- 91,000 people have died in America in just a matter of months because of a pandemic that the commander in chief, the president of the United States, could have done something about, had he acted swiftly and embraced the truth, embraced science, and did what a leader, a true leader, must do, which is lead.

And so all of this is about him attempting to distract from the matter at hand, which is that we have 36 million people in America who have become unemployed in just the last couple of months, that one in five mothers is describing her children under the age of 12 as being hungry.

He doesn`t want us to talk about that, much less think about that, and how he has been an utter failure, as the president of the United States, to meet the moment of this crisis and lift up the American people.

He doesn`t want us to talk about that. He doesn`t want us to look at his performance.

REID:  Yes.

K. HARRIS:  He wants us to follow and look -- to read his tweets and be distracted by the outrageousness of what he writes and the lies that he writes and the intimidation tactics that he pursues.

And -- but this is the reason he`s doing that, because he has good reason to be scared about this election, because if you contrast...

REID:  Yes.

K. HARRIS:  ... him with someone like a Joe Biden, we know that there`s a huge difference, including the fact that Joe Biden operates from empathy and concern and care.

So, you know, let`s not get distracted.

REID:  Well, I have a question for you on Joe Biden in a minute.

But I have to come back to this, because the...

K. HARRIS:  OK.

REID:  Donald Trump, yes, it`s clear that his strategy is what it is.

However, it`s harder, I think, for a lot people to understand why people like Lindsey Graham do some of things that they`re doing. Lindsey Graham is also in a state that is much more competitive. His race is much more competitive than it`s been in the past for his Senate reelect.

Yet Lindsey Graham has come out against extending unemployment insurance. He`s told NBC News that Trump agrees that it is hurting the recovery.

And here`s what he said about unemployment insurance. He said: "You can extend some assistance, but you don`t want to pay people more unemployed than they work -- than they are working. You should never make more than your actual wages," and saying Trump then "agrees that it`s hurting the economic recovery."

There`s also reporting that Trump`s circle wants to pump the brakes on more COVID aid, assuming that they can just come back closer to the election and then, if there`s more money needed, they will just throw some more money in right before the election.

What do you make of that attitude toward the people who are suffering? Because, as you said, a lot of people have died. A lot of people are really, really hurting economically.

K. HARRIS:  Well, I would ask that we -- we can pay attention to the attitude, but let`s also definitely pay attention to the strategy that`s at play, which is hold off giving aid to people when they need it right now, and then write a check right before the election, sincerely Donald Trump, see, I helped you. Help me with November.

So, that`s the strategy. But here`s the reality of what`s happening.

The relief that the United States Congress passed in terms of unemployment was just for four months, Joy. And so, for people who already qualified for unemployment insurance, they would get for the duration of that time, then, an extra $600 a person.

It included that gig workers, that freelancers would, for the first time, qualify for unemployment insurance. And we know that we are not ready at this point to reemploy those 36 million people. They`re going to need relief as soon as this money -- this money dries out, which is going to be in July.

REID:  Yes.

K. HARRIS:  And the only -- the right thing to do is to help them sustain themselves and their families until they can get back on their feet and we truly reopen.

It`s just the right thing to do, instead of allowing people to fall deeper and deeper into debt, into poverty, into hunger. And so, you know, there`s a strategy, though, that`s at play by this president. I have no doubt about that.

REID:  Yes. Well, and I -- and...

K. HARRIS:  And it`s about his political survival, which is consistent with who he has been.

It is about him. It is about him. It is about having a Cabinet of people who praise the great leader. It is about him always looking in the mirror, when he should be looking in the eyes of the American people.

REID:  Well, you know, and we think a lot about the first responders and the people that are actually, you know, risking their lives and doing the work of trying to save everyone else in this pandemic.

One of those women -- people that was doing that, young people, is Breonna Taylor, who lost her life...

K. HARRIS:  Yes.

REID:  ... shot in her own home by police.

And this is one of our first responders, the people we`re supposed to be singing songs to at the end of the day that people are doing throughout the country.

There is now an update on this case. "The Louisville Courier-Journal" reports that Louisville police have completed an internal investigation into Breonna Taylor`s shooting.

"The findings of an internal investigation into the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police have been turned over to Attorney General Daniel Cameron. The Louisville Police Department`s Public Integrity Unit is also providing the same materials to the FBI and the U.S. attorney`s office."

Number one, do you have faith in the Department of Justice currently to get involved and to do something to get justice for this young woman? And what would -- what would you do? I mean, having been a prosecutor, having had that job, what should be done in this case...

K. HARRIS:  Yes.

REID:  ... knowing it involves police?

K. HARRIS:  There should be an independent -- there should be an independent investigation, which I have called on the United States Department of Justice to conduct an independent investigation of the Louisville Police Department, to conduct an independent investigation of the incident that occurred in the early morning hours of that day, and to do an investigation to determine if there has been a violation of federal laws, and, in particular, civil rights laws, and whether there should be some kind of consequence and accountability because of that.

And, Joy, let me tell you, I have talked, for example, with Breonna`s mother. And you -- her, as an EMT, this young woman had a history and a nature of always taking care of people. She was an EMT because she thought that would be the best foundational work that she could do to then become a nurse, because she wanted to understand what was going on outside, and then go into a hospital to heal people, this beautiful young woman shot down senselessly.

And there needs to be an investigation of this.

The issue of body cameras. Her mother has been advocating for that, because, of course, those three police officers were not wearing body cameras.

To your point, in my experience, when I was attorney general of California, I believe I was the first state to require our agents to wear body cameras and keep them on, because it`s about transparency. It`s about accountability. It`s about justice.

And, you know, none of this is going to bring that young woman back to her family, to her community, but there`s a lot of work that needs to happen in terms of investigating whether there should be -- which I believe there should be -- serious consequence and accountability for the loss of that young woman`s life.

REID:  All right, we have run out of time, because you know I wanted to ask you about the ticket, but I -- they -- I`m told I am out of time.

So, you may get off the hook asking the question about the ticket.

K. HARRIS:  OK.

REID:  But will you promise to come back and tell us any developments that you may have...

K. HARRIS:  Of course I will do that.

REID:  ... as far as -- as far as Joe Biden?

All right, thank you very much. Really appreciate it, Senator Harris.

Thank you.

K. HARRIS:  OK, thank you.

REID:  And come -- thank you very much.

And coming up next:  The CDC has quietly released detailed guidance on reopening America`s schools, mass transit systems and nonessential businesses.

But with all 50 states already reopening, is it a case of too little too late?

We`re back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID:  Welcome back.

Earlier today, Massachusetts joined the rest of the country in lifting stay-at-home restrictions. All 50 states are now at least partially open for business, ready or not.

This comes despite the fact that the American death toll continues to rise. More than 93,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, and more than 1.5 million Americans have been infected.

Many of the states reopening have not met the benchmarks laid out by the Trump administration, and some public health experts are warning that a new surge of infections could follow.

A new PBS/NPR/Marist poll shows that 65 percent of Americans don`t expect life to return to normal for at least six more months, and 77 percent of Americans are concerned about a second outbreak.

Meanwhile, Florida and Georgia have come under fire from some critics for allegedly manipulating coronavirus data.

For more, I`m joined by Dr. Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association.

And, Dr. Harris, the manipulation-of-data part, it sticks with me, because it seems that, if people are not telling the truth about the number of people who are sick and are dying, it`s a great way to reopen your state, because people will think things are better than they are.

But it doesn`t seem terribly ethical. What do you make of the fact that the data is not necessarily reliable out of some of these states?

DR. PATRICE HARRIS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION:  Well, Joy, good to be with you.

And, quite frankly, that`s dangerous. I mean, we at the AMA have said from the beginning that we need the data to make sure that we are proceeding in a safe manner.

And it`s very distressing to me to know that the data that is out there may not be accurate. We need transparency. We need some standard data collection.

Right before on air, I just read another article that said that Georgia may have included antibody tests along with the diagnostic tests. So, we really have to make sure that the data is accurate. There is just no question about that, no debate about that.

REID:  And when you see things like -- I was reading earlier today the story about Yellowstone reopening.

I`m remember going to Yellowstone as a kid, but the idea of going to Yellowstone, people with no masks on -- this was a piece that ran, I believe, in "The Guardian," showing people -- there they are -- people are just out there.

Are people taking this still, even with all this death, way too lightly?

P. HARRIS:  Well, Joy, the survey that you mentioned said that most people are.

But I -- like you, I`m seeing those photos and others, and I don`t see enough folks who are wearing masks and staying six feet apart. And, as a physician, when I look at that, I worry, because I know that those folks are at risk for infection themselves or transmitting the disease to others.

And so we will continue to sound the alarm and make sure that we -- that people know that they need to continue to wear a mask, they continue to do the physical distancing, and not gather in large gatherings.

REID:  Yes.

P. HARRIS:  We don`t have treatment. We don`t have a vaccine yet.

And so we have to use these tried-and-true public health measures.

REID:  And, very quickly, very quickly, I want to ask you to comment on the -- there is a story out of New York City that parents are skipping vaccinations, or at least the numbers of the vaccine -- vaccinations being given to young children are declining because of people`s fear of going into the doctor`s office, people not wanting to be in a medical setting.

So, it`s actually -- we`re seeing numbers of vaccinations go down for children. That does not sound like a good thing. What do you make of that?

P. HARRIS:  It is not a good thing.

 And, in fact, I wrote an op-ed, along with Dr. Sally Goza, who is the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, another physician here in Georgia. And we raised the level of alert regarding that, because the last thing we need right now, Joy, is another infectious disease outbreak on top of COVID-19.

So, certainly, it was appropriate to reduce hours, but we want our families to take their children in for their regular well child visits, to make sure they get their vaccinations on time, or as close to on time as possible.

REID:  Yes, indeed.

Dr. Patrice Harris, thank you so much. Really appreciate you joining us. Please stay safe.

And still ahead, the latest from the virtual campaign trail, including a new national poll showing Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by double digits. So, he won`t be happy about that.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID:  Welcome back.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the apparent Democratic nominee, has been limited to online campaigning from his home in Delaware. Last night during a virtual town hall, he addressed Trump`s claim that he is taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and the president`s -- for offering medical advice despite having zero qualifications do so.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It`s like maybe saying if you inject Clorox into your blood, you know, it may cure you. Come on, man, what is he doing? What in god`s name is he doing? And the things that presidents say, the words of a president matter.

Look, this is absolutely irresponsible. There`s no serious medical personnel out there saying to use that drug. It`s counterproductive. It`s not going to help.

But the president, he decided that`s an answer. So what do you think people are going to be doing? You think they`re not going to use it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID:  His catchphrase is come on, man.

With less than six months until Election Day, a new Quinnipiac national poll shows Biden leading Trump by double digits, 50 percent to 39 percent.

That`s up from last month when Biden was leading by eight points. But while Joe Biden is Trump`s apparent opponent, Trump is focusing on a different target heading into November, former President Barack Obama. Yep, it`s a strategy that has a lot of Republicans nervous. That`s coming up next.

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REID:  Welcome back.

The focus of Donald Trump`s impromptu visit with Republican senators or Capitol Hill yesterday was not the coronavirus, as you might expect. During their nearly hour-long lunch, Trump set his sights on November`s election. His message to the Republicans, according to senators in the room: get tough in their phony investigations of the Obama administration`s handling of the Michael Flynn case, Trump`s former national adviser.

It`s all part of Trump`s latest campaign strategy to focus his attacks not on Biden, but on Biden`s former boss, former President Barack Obama.

Some Republicans are telling "Vanity Fair`s" Gabe Sherman that they see a big risk in that approach. One Republican tells Sherman that Obama, he`s likely to go for the jugular. Wouldn`t be surprised if he pulls out the really dirty stuff.

For more, I`m joined now by Michelle Goldberg, columnist for "The New York Times", and Errin Haines, editorial at large for The 19th.

What -- I mean, it is a strange strategy, Errin, I`ll start I`ll start with you on this. President Obama is extremely popular. He just did a virtual graduation, he`s going to do another one with Beyonce, people like Joe Biden.

The idea of using him as the strategy and focusing on him does not make sense to me. You`re a political reporter. Do the people you`re talking to out there in the world think it makes sense?

ERRIN HAINES, THE 19TH EDITOR-AT-LARGE:  Well, good evening, Joy. You know, my reporting has certainly reflected that we know that former President Obama did stay off of the trail during the primary. And, in fact, you know, then candidate now presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden said that he did not want the vice president -- I mean, President Obama`s endorsement during the primary. He wanted to earn this on his own.

But I think we know that`s not going to be the case as this pivots to a general election strategy. I think that we can expect to see President Obama on the campaign trail -- look, we`ve already seen him weighing in on the Trump administration`s response to this pandemic, which has elicited is response in kind from President Trump on Twitter. Then we saw President Obama taking the opportunity during last weekend`s commencement speeches, for example, to comment on the current state of leadership in our American government.

And so, President Obama remains largely popular and with that said, you know, I think him being on the campaign trail and any criticism of him could actually energize Democrats headed into the fall.

REID:  That`s what it seems to me, seems logical to me.

Michelle, Donald Trump is also, he seems to only be able to operate in one way and that is in a rally. It`s the only way he feels confident and comfortable. So, he`s now talking about going back and doing rallies again, which seems insane because there is still a risk out there of a health risk. But is it likely people will still be willing to gather in rallies with Donald Trump even with COVID-19 out there?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  My guess is that it is because he has been sending a lot of mixed messages about the deadliness of COVID and about the treatability, right? So people might go to his rallies thinking that they are protected if they`re on a preventive dose of hydroxychloroquine.

To me, what it shows and we`ve seen this over and over again is just how little he cares about his supporters, right? And his contempt for them has always been sort of obvious, it`s something that Howard Stern spoke about recently, these are not the people he wants to spend time with and his approval he`s seeking his whole life, and he is willing to put their health, their lives at risk in order to get this adrenaline shot that he craves of these adoring crowds and that he really can`t function without.

REID:  Yeah, the political story says some White House officials -- go on.

HAINES:  No, I was just going to say. I mean, I would add to that this puts president Trump at odds with some governors, you know, in states where he would like to have these rallies who are balancing public safety with public health concerns and even the mayor of Charlotte raised concerns whether it`s going to be safe for the RNC to have their convention in Charlotte later this summer which they at this point are still on track to do.

REID:  Yeah, absolutely. You know, apparently according to aids who talked to Trump, he thinks the face masks look gloomy and lack the showmanship. Let`s talk about Biden. We had Senator Kamala Harris on earlier this evening. She is one of the top names you hear talked about when it comes to Joe Biden making choices about who he is going to pick.

You know what? I`m going to go ahead and play Kellyanne Conway. I don`t think the other side, the Republican side really has an answer for the idea there will likely be a woman on the ticket but here is Kellyanne.

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KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT:  You see the long short list of Joe Biden`s V.P. choices. They happen to be female. He sounds like a coed at the end of a frat party. I don`t a woman, so now he has binders of women he`s looking through.

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REID:  OK, that doesn`t make sense. Biden is going to pick a woman. But let`s talk about what it sounds like what he needs.

There is this "New York Times" piece that talks about black voters are key witnesses to crimes against democracy. This is gettable voters that can overwhelm the political system if Democratic candidates persuade them voting will get them power to build the state and country they want, but the Democrats are treating black people as though they need a gentle nudge this week before the -- just need a gentle nudge before the election and there is fear that there will be another catastrophe on election day.

There is a choice right now. There is a pull and push between women in general and black women. That is very obvious. There are op-eds written and emails and open letters to the campaign.

I`ll let you start, Michelle. Does -- is it important that Joe Biden pick a woman, a black woman because that is where the core base is or there is a push on the other side? I know there is a lot of Amy Klobuchar talk, et cetera.

GOLDBERG:  OK. Well, I hope it`s not Amy Klobuchar. I will say, I think, if you look at polling, I don`t think you see in the polling African-American voters saying that it`s very important to them to have a black woman on the ticket. If I`m not mistaken in some of the most recent polling, the most popular candidate among all Democrats, I think including African Americans was Elizabeth Warren. My husband used to work for during her campaign.

I think what is more important than the vice presidential pick is the campaign`s entire approach. I mean, they`ve been I think somewhat hobbled by the coronavirus pandemic. You had Stacey Abrams doing this really intensive long work to create a new electorate in Georgia and I think what she showed is that you can`t just kind of come in a couple weeks before the election and start trying to turn people out, right? It`s a very, very long term project and I think it`s unclear who is doing that work in this environment.

REID:  You know, the same question here, Karine Jean-Pierre has now been hired on the campaign, smart hire. Errin, this was your scoop so I`m going to let you weigh in on it. Is the Biden campaign aggressively trying to fix a problem, to enhance their standing with black voters? What is the strategy because it does seem like they are starting the Amy Alisons, that kind of a hire starting to happen.

HAINES:  Yes, so I think it is the ladder to your point, joy, that Joe Biden understands, you know, how he got to this point is my understanding from the campaign. He knows that black voters are the reason that he in large part is your presumptive nominee in the spring, you know, months ahead of schedule and, you know, black women have been saying for several years now they want to be valued not just for their output but for their input, right?

So, a signal of that could be him picking a black woman vice president but also, showing other ways in which he might govern with the backbone of the Democratic Party in mind.

REID:  Yes, absolutely. Well, we will keep an eye on it. Michelle Goldberg, Errin Haines, thank you very much. We`ll be right back.

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REID:  That does it for us this hour. I`ll see you again tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Don`t miss Lawrence O`Donnell tonight at 10:00 p.m. He`ll be joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Don`t miss it.

Thanks for being with us. Don`t go anywhere. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" is up next.

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