LGBTQ Worker Protections TRANSCRIPT: 6/15/20, MSNBC Live

Guests: Yamiche Alcindor, Jim Clyburn, Susan Page

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  -- those three woman along with the mother of Oscar Grant to join her at a 2016 award show. It`s a reminder that the conversation we`re having in this country for some has been picked up at this moment, and for others, it has been pushed for a very long time.

That`s our final thought on THE BEAT, thanks for joining. We`ll be back here at 6:00 P.M. Eastern tomorrow night.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, I`m Steve Kornacki in New York.

And tonight, outrage and calls for police reform are continuing to grow in the streets of Atlanta, this following another killing of a black man at the hands of police.

On Friday night, officers responded to a call that 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was asleep in his car and blocking a Wendy`s drive-through. Body camera video from the Atlanta Police Department showed an initially calm interaction between the officers and Brooks. But police say a struggle ensued after Brooks failed a sobriety test.

Eyewitness video caught the apparent struggle during which investigators say Brooks grabbed a taser from one of the officers. Surveillance video provided by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation appears to show Brooks turn and point the taser at the officer while running away. The officer responded by firing at Brooks three times.

An autopsy ruled his death a homicide caused by two gunshot wounds to the back. The officer who shot Brooks has been fired. A second is on administrative duty and Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigned in Saturday, in the wake of the Brooks shooting.

The Fulton County District Attorney says he will make a decision whether to file criminal charges in the fatal shooting by the middle of this week.

Rayshard Brooks` death ignited a fresh wave of anger over police violence in Atlanta and across the country over the weekend. This less than a month after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests that are still ongoing.

Today the Georgia NAACP held a march on the state capitol, calling on lawmakers to make changes to their criminal justice and voting laws in the state. And a press conference today, Brooks` family thanked the community for its support and asked for all protests to remain peaceful.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOMIKA MILLER, RAYSHARD BROOKS` WIFE:  There is no justice that can ever make me feel happy about what`s been done. I can never get my husband back. I can never get my best friend. I can never tell my daughter, oh, he`s coming to take you skating or swimming lessons. So it`s just going to be a long time before I heal. It`s going to be a long time before this family heals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  And I am joined by MSNBC Correspondent Blayne Alexander who is in Atlanta. Blayne, obviously this incident coming on the heels of what happened in Minneapolis of everything that Atlanta, that Minneapolis, that this country has been going through. Just take us through what it is like in Atlanta right now.

BLAYNE ALEXANDER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  So, Steve, what we`re seeing right now at the Wendy`s where that shooting occurred, the Wendy`s that was subsequently set on fire about 24 hours later.

What we`re seeing here behind me is a steady stream of people, the same thing what we`ve seen over the past few days or so. It`s kind of now turned into a place where people have come, they have gathered, they left balloons and other tributes, signs and different things in Rayshard Brooks` name.

But the biggest question, of course, is now that the disciplinary action has been handed down, one officer terminated, another placed on administrative duty, the big question is will there possibly be charges in this case. And that decision, of course, comes down to the district attorney in this area, the Fulton County D.A.

Now, I spoke with him today, and he told me that he plans to announce his decision on this case as early as Wednesday as to whether or not he will actually bring charges. He says that he is considering a number of factors. But, really, the central issue that it comes down to, Steve, is whether or not, Brooks, even as he was running away, was in a position to have caused any sort of harm to the officers or any other member of the public.

So, he is poring through a number of the videos as are other investigators, but we should expect to hear that decision sometime this week.

Now the other piece I want to tell you is that, for the first time tonight, we`re actually hearing the 911 call that brought officers here to this Wendy`s in the first place. The call itself is less than two minutes long and it apparently comes from an employee of this Wendy`s saying, as we all know, that Brooks had fallen asleep, was blocking the drive-through, people had to drive around. But what interesting note in that, Steve, when the 911 operator asked whether that they believed Brooks was armed, the operator said, no, I think he`s intoxicated. Steve?

KORNACKI:  All right. Blayne Alexander in Atlanta, thank you for that, we will all obviously be watching closely for that decision from the district attorney.

Meanwhile from Atlanta to the nation`s capital, where President Trump told reporters today that he would sign an executive order tomorrow to address police reform in America, although Trump offered only a few details of what it might entail.

Civil Rights Attorney S. Lee Merritt told NBC News the package, quote, is expected to feature both legislative and executive measures, including databases that track police officers with multiple instances of misconduct and also that the executive order includes language acknowledging systemic racism in policing.

The PBS NewsHour was first to report on the expected order, noting that it is likely to contain several measures, including the creation of national standards for use of force as well as tracking police misconduct.

For more now, I am joined by Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. Yamiche, thank you for joining us, exactly who we want to talk to on what we can expect tomorrow from this apparent executive order that`s on its way.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWS HOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Well, what we can expect tomorrow is an executive order that`s going to be -- it`s really the first time that President Trump in action since the killing of George Floyd, will address in a substantive way the issue of policing and bias in policing.

So the order is supposed to have five parts. The first is going to be an acknowledgement that the activities and actions of law enforcement are -- have really fed into the mistrust among the African-American community and Americans at large.

Then, there`s supposed to be an establishment and the president will going to be asking the attorney general to head this up, an establishment of national standards to track police officers that are accused of wrongdoing, also track officers who might quit if they are in the middle of an investigation.

It`s also supposed to be looking at whether or not programs and departments can be doing more when it comes to mental health facilities and working with mental health officials. So it would be trying to get departments to work with social workers or psychologists when they get a call that someone is distraught.

So, the other thing that we`re looking at and that we expect this executive order to do is look at the issue of how police departments go about credentialing and getting themselves ready and accredited for keeping Americans safe. \ The other thing that the legislation is supposed to do is ask Congress along with the attorney general and Health and Human Services secretary, all of them to work together to come up with some more substantive legislation. White House officials say that this isn`t going to deal specifically with systemic racism, but an attorney that I know who works closely with a lot of these families that are affected by police killings, he says that he expects this to be a step in the right direction.

KORNACKI:  And on that front, Yamiche, there`s also a reporting from you that Ahmaud Arbery`s family might be meeting with the president tomorrow in advance of this executive order. Ahmaud Arbery, of course, he was not shot by police, but it was some locals in a neighborhood who chased him down and he was shot and killed. Talk a little bit about that, if you will. What`s going on there?

ALCINDOR:  From my understanding, a number of families, including Ahmaud Arbery`s, but also Botham Jean and a couple of other families that are impacted by police killings or racially charge incidents. They are supposed to be meeting privately with the president. I`m told that these families are very sensitive to the idea that they don`t want to be used as props. So they`re supposed to be talking to what the president -- it`s likely that we might not see photos of President Trump with those families.

But again, Ahmaud Arbery`s family and a couple of other families are going to be coming to D.C. to attend meeting with President Trump, as well as attend a Congressional hearing on the issue of policing.

KORNACKI:  All right. Yamiche Alcindor, from the PBS NewsHour, thanks as always for joining us, I appreciate that.

And over the weekend, Senate Republicans outlined some of their ideas for a reform proposal slated for release on Wednesday. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who is leading the Republican effort, said there was a path forward in Congress calling chokeholds a policy whose time has come and gone. But he was cautious about banning no-knock warrants in drug cases because of a lack of data outlining how the warrants are served.

Banning both chokeholds and no-knock drug warrants are elements of a reform bill that was unveiled by House Democrats last week. Scott said that another Democratic proposal ending qualified immunity for police, which would making it easier to fire individual officers and to sue them, hold them civilly liable, is a non-starter for Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC):  And from the Republican perspective and the president has sent this signal that qualified immunity is off the table. They see that as a poison pill on our side. So we`re going to have to find a path that helps us reduce misconduct within the officers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  And I am joined now by the House Majority Whip, Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. Congressman, thank you for joining us. I appreciate it.

So you`ve put your bill out. Democrats in the House have put their bill out on this. You`ve heard Tim Scott now, who`s sort of the point man for Senate Republicans on this, start to outline what he thinks, in his view, should and shouldn`t be in a bill. Do you see the grounds for a compromise here at all?

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC):  Well, thank you very much for having me.

Yes, I do. I always see a ground for compromise. We put our bill out, justice in policing. It`s a very comprehensive bill. It is not anything new. We have been at these things for a long time. We have the no chokehold. That`s been around for a while. Hakeem Jeffries has been working on that. Demilitarizing the police, Hank Johnson of Georgia has been working on that ever since he`s been in the House of Representatives and many, many other issues.

So what we`ve done is brought all these things that the congressional black caucus had been working on for some of them as long as I`ve been in the Congress. We put them all into one piece of legislation. Take Bobby Rush, the Emmett Till No Lynching Bill. The fact of the matter is George Floyd was lynched. That wasn`t simple murder, he was lynched.

So we ought to really have an anti-lynching bill. And then the Senate, as you know, has stopped that from happening. Hopefully, we put all these things in this one comprehensive bill and I thank Karen Bass for the tremendous work she did putting that together. And I understand she is doing the negotiating with Tim Scott and other Republicans in order to reach some compromise.

Now, it`s not going to be everything that I want. It won`t be everything that all members of the congressional black caucus would want. But hopefully it will be significant enough for us to call it a giant step forward. And hopefully we can get to where we need to be. But I want people to remember, the House is one-third, the Senate is a second one-third and the president is a third one-third. So we`re going to do our part. Hopefully we can get the Senate and the president to do their part.

KORNACKI:  Well, let me, you mention the president, and let`s talk about the president. Apparently, there`s an executive order from the president on its way tomorrow. I don`t know if you just heard Yamiche Alcindor laying out what she expects to be in it, but an acknowledgement in this executive law -- of this executive order, the acknowledgement of law enforcement`s actions causing distrust in the African-American community, national standards for policing, a database to track officers around the country, mental health assistance for police officers. The outlines of this executive order, is this what you expect tomorrow? And what do you make of it?

CLYBURN:  All that sounds good, but it is an executive order. If he can issue it, he can rescind it. I want to see legislation. So everything that he`s put in that executive order may be good. I would love to see them come to the table, put those things in the legislation, because the data tracking of police officers going from town to town carrying their brutality with them, we want to be able to keep up with that. That`s what happened up in Ferguson, as we know. So, yes, it`s a good start. But I still want to see it in legislation.

Now, there is one piece to that we may have missed in our bill but I have not heard about and that is school discipline. What I seem to have forgotten and never should have, the number of times that police officers are called to public schools. And I`m remembering today a little 12-year- old child put in handcuffs by a local police called to the school by school authorities. This is the kind of stuff you`ve got to stop. Those are social work problems, mental health problems. We`ve got to get those things out of policing and maybe we need to put that in legislation as well.

KORNACKI:  And finally, the backdrop for an anniversary, all of this are backdrop of an anniversary coming up that this nation will acknowledge on Wednesday, the fifth anniversary of that massacre that took place at the Mother Emmanuel Church in your home state of South Carolina. In light of the national conversation that`s taking place right now, what are your thoughts on that anniversary coming up?

CLYBURN:  Well, thank you very much for bringing that up. I will be participating tomorrow and the next day in events portending to that. But you know, Steve, yesterday I went back and watched the documentary, Emmanuel, again and I found something very amazing. I watched Dylann Roof, who had just killed nine people in the basement of a historic black church, nine black people, a 21-year-old self-proclaimed white supremacist.

I watched his arrest yesterday. When those three or four policemen approached his car, they had guns drawn. But when they went to the door to take him out of the car, the lead policeman put his gun back in the holster. They didn`t drag him out of the car. They didn`t slam him to the ground. They treated him with dignity and respect. That`s all that black people are asking for, treat these people that you are arresting with dignity and respect. That is the difference.

KORNACKI:  All right, Congressman James Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina. Thank you for joining us. I appreciate it.

CLYBURN:  Thank you.

KORNACKI:  And coming up, we are going back to look at the coronavirus and the lockdowns. More and more people heading out of their homes to work, to eat, to shop, to worship, to protest. After months of stay-at-home orders, what is reasonable and what is realistic right now?

Plus, the battle for the Senate and what a surprisingly close race in the state of Iowa might be telling us about Republican efforts to keep their majority.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI:  Welcome back.

More than 2 million Americans have now been infected with the coronavirus, with nearly 117,000 losing their lives. Many states have positive test rates that are flat are falling right now but there are four states where that positivity has been over 10 percent for the last two weeks. Those states are Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina and Mississippi.

The country has also significantly increased daily testing, nearly half a million per day right now, and more and more people are now leaving their homes and congregating in public. This is something we have seen for more than two weeks now with mass protests taking place in cities all across the country, giving rise to concerns that this could aid the spread of the virus. Those concerns also being voiced by public health experts as many also head out to newly reopened business and not always, well, CDC guidelines.

Large crowds gathered over the weekend in Manhattan`s East Village and it was the same in Nashville over the weekend, where crowds flocked to Kid Rock`s Honky Tonk and other bars.

In some states, there is alarming data now and talk of rethinking reopening plans. However, that same concern was shown following that overly packed pool party in the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri over Memorial Day weekend, and that apparently has not resulted in any mass spreading.

Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb says it is time for health officials to build up the public`s confidence and to minimize weariness.

In an op-ed yesterday, he wrote this -- quote -- "The public is clearly willing to follow focused guidance, but broad shutdowns are unlikely to be tolerated this summer, and therefore are unlikely to be proposed, regardless of what the epidemiology shows."

And for more, I`m joined by the mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, Kate Gallego, and Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Thank you both for being with us. Appreciate it.

Mayor, let me begin with you.

You are in one of those states where, clearly, this is not just an issue of testing. The positive rate is increasing as well. You have more cases. You have more tests that are coming back positive as well.

So, something is happening there in Arizona. My question to you is, what do you want to do about it? Do you want to go back to a stay-at-home order? Or do you think that`s -- that ship has sailed at this point?

KATE GALLEGO (D), MAYOR OF PHOENIX, ARIZONA:  I would like to see us follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

In Arizona, we opened very quickly and ahead of CDC guidelines. We went to phase three in many areas. So, for example, nightclubs are now open in Arizona, and public health experts are telling me that that close, up-close transmission, where you`re wearing not wearing masks, is among the most dangerous indoor situations that we can have.

I also would love to see a strong masking push in Arizona. Right now, our governor has said that we do not want to mandate and that mayors cannot. But we know that masking is important because it slows transmission, but also sends a signal that we are still in a crisis, which the Arizona numbers demonstrate.

Twenty-seven percent of the cases that we have had in my county the entire time we have been tracking occurred in the last week.

KORNACKI:  What do you think is causing that? You are mentioning the nightclubs being open.

What about -- we just mentioned this. Do you think the protests -- it`s been a little bit more than two weeks now -- that`s the incubation period. Do you think the protests are going to contribute to this?

GALLEGO:  What public health officials have told me is that cases are rising throughout Arizona, including communities that did not have any protests.

If we look at the data, to the extent we have it, particularly with fatalities, it seems to be most linked to indoor transmission. So, certainly, any contact can spread COVID-19, and we need to be concerned. But epidemiologists are telling me that, if you look at the data, it tracks most closely with lifting the stay-at-home order.

KORNACKI:  Well, Dr. Jha, let me bring you in on that, because that does seem to be a key point, possibly.

Is that your sense of this, the difference between indoor and outdoor transmission? Do you think that`s significant? And, if so, how should that be shaping what is and isn`t open, where people are and aren`t gathering?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE:  Yes. So thanks for having me on.

And the mayor clearly has some very good epidemiologists that she`s listening to, because pretty much everything she said was right, as how I see it.

What we know is that large gatherings are dangerous, they`re risky, but they`re much more risky when you have large numbers of people getting together indoors than when they`re outdoors.

We also know that masks really do help reduce the risk. And my best assessment of what`s going on in Arizona is, as the mayor said, the state really opened up too early, did not meet the CDC guidelines, did not meet the White House guidelines.

And it was a risk. And what we are seeing, unfortunately, is a spike in cases. And I think the key here is to intervene now, so that we don`t have to think about a shelter-in-place order down the road. There`s a narrow window of -- window of action here, and we have got to take it.

KORNACKI:  When you say there`s a narrow window of action, you don`t want to return to shelter in place, what would you be talking about?

JHA:  Well, so, I think things that create large indoor gatherings.

I mean, nightclubs may be a lot of fun, but if -- but I wouldn`t do it. So, right now, I would move backwards. I would get rid of the nightclubs. I would really think about how many people you`re willing to have in indoor restaurants and think about mostly just moving to outdoor spaces.

Any large indoor gatherings, I think, is a very risky thing. And then I would push absolutely for universal masking. I think that`s a really critical thing. So, we do all of those things in Arizona, I think there`s a pretty good chance that we can slow this down and avoid getting to a place where the only choice left is shelter in place.

KORNACKI:  So, Mayor, in terms of what you think where things should be in Arizona now, where you would like to see them in Arizona right now, is there an argument here for thinking of more ways to open up outdoor spaces to give people a possibility to do some activities there with masks, with distancing, but to be outside, as opposed to indoor?

GALLEGO:  Part of it is just sending a message to our residents that they have to take this seriously.

When I talk to people, particularly people who do not follow the news closely, they are stunned by the increase and the fact that Arizona is a hot spot. I think many people in my community thought this would follow the patterns of the seasonal flu spread, where it really declines during summer. And so they thought we were home-free.

The message I am trying to send as mayor is, not only are we not home-free, we are in the midst of a crisis. I would encourage people, if they can find good ways to spend time outdoors, that they do so, particularly a great morning hike. Phoenix has more acres of parks than any other city in the United States. So there are good opportunities, as long as you practice social distancing.

KORNACKI:  There`s also President Trump. Today, he downplayed concerns about the rise in coronavirus cases that are being seen in some places. He attributed this to the increase in testing. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Our testing is so far advanced. It`s so much bigger and better than any other country that we`re going to have more cases. We`re always going to have more cases.

And, as I said this morning, that`s probably the downside of having good testing is, you find a lot of cases that other countries who don`t even test don`t have. If you don`t test, you don`t have any cases. If we stopped testing right now, we would have very few cases, if any.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  Dr. Jha, I looked at this too. I mentioned this at the beginning. The number of tests per day right now is sitting at about 461,000 for the last two weeks.

I can remember being in this studio maybe about two months ago looking at numbers like 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 a day. So, testing has come a long way here in a short time. Is that -- I know, at the beginning, it`s fair to say there were all sorts of issues, but is testing right now, do you think, getting close to where it needs to be?

JHA:  Yes, so testing initially was abysmal. And now I would say it`s inadequate.

It`s not anywhere near where it needs to be. I don`t know any expert who thinks that 400,000 tests a day for a country our size and for the outbreak our size is enough. And the estimates of how much we should be doing vary from about one million a day to about five million a day. So, we`re still pretty far behind.

And one of the things, I hear the president and I understand what he`s saying. On a per capita basis, there are many countries, many advanced countries that are doing a lot more testing than we are. So that`s not the explanation.

The reason we have more cases is not because we`re doing more testing. It`s because we actually have more infections in this country. And not identifying them and closing our eyes won`t make them go away. It just will mean we won`t know about them until our hospitals get overwhelmed.

So we need to be doing more testing, not less testing.

KORNACKI:  All right, Dr. Ashish Jha and Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix, Arizona, thank you both for being with us. Appreciate that.

And coming up: a landmark Supreme Court decision on LGBT rights. NBC`s Pete Williams joins me next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI:  Welcome back.

In a major decision today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay and transgender employees from workplace discrimination. It was a 6-3 vote for the conservative court. The four liberal justices were joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and, in a surprise to many, Justice Neil Gorsuch, of course, a Trump appointee.

In fact, it was  Gorsuch who authored the majority opinion. This was a move that enraged many of the same conservative legal scholars and activists who had lobbied for his appointment. The Trump administration had argued that the 1964 law did not cover discrimination over sexual orientation.

The ruling may also represent a political setback for the president, who made the appointment of conservatives to the bench a key promise to Christian conservatives during his 2016 campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  The justices that I`m going to appoint will be pro-life. They will have a conservative bent.

I have picked, through Federalist Society, we picked 11 Supreme Court justices. We`re going to add probably four more, all vetted.

The biggest thing a president can do, they have always said, is Supreme Court justice.

I have been there less than two years, and I have two of them.

We have judges that are very young. They will be there for 40 years.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP:  Think of it.

Two hundred and fifty-52 judges, two Supreme Court justices. Nobody`s ever done things like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI:  And some conservatives have pointed to Gorsuch`s appointment to make the case for Trump`s reelection.

In a recent book, former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed argued that the 2017 appointment of Gorsuch had shown that -- quote -- "All the doubts, the reservations, even suspicions that Trump`s critics had, every one of them had been false."

I`m joined now by Pete Williams, NBC`s chief legal correspondent.

Pete, thanks for joining us.

Well, let`s start on this decision. It seems that the fact that Gorsuch voted the way he did and then authored the opinion on this caught many by surprise. How big of a shock was that?

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CHIEF CORRESPONDENT:  Double, I would say the fact that the court made this decision, and that he wrote the decision.

I -- obviously, he was assigned the decision by Chief Justice Roberts, because whoever is the senior most justice in the majority assigns the opinion. And I think he wanted to sort of reinforce the fact that this was based on the text of the reading of the law.

Gorsuch says, in the majority opinion, clearly, when the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, nobody was thinking about sexual orientation or gender identity, but it`s not what was in the minds of Congress that counts. It`s the words of the law that make the difference. And he said, it`s basically hard to take the sex out of sex discrim -- sexual orientation.

KORNACKI:  So, in terms of the politics of this, we were playing there some of those clips from the 2016 campaign.

Donald Trump took an extraordinary step as a candidate in 2016. He publicly released a name -- the names of prospective justices that he would appoint. Neil Gorsuch was among them. It`s been argued by some of his conservative supporters that this was the reason he got such strong support from evangelical Christians.

Fair to say this is not a ruling they expected?

WILLIAMS:  Oh, I think that`s fair to say.

I don`t know, though, that -- how important this issue was to them. I think the abortion question is much more important for people that were hoping Donald Trump would put more people on the Supreme Court. And who knows where Neil Gorsuch will be on that.

  We`re going to get a big abortion decision here in the next couple of weeks, the one from Louisiana that said abortion clinics have to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. So, we will see how we voted on that.

Justice Gorsuch did kind of give us a little glimmer that this might be the direction he was going when this case was argued a mere eight months ago.

KORNACKI:  Yes, I`m curious.

Take us inside the court a little bit here, because we think of it as a conservative court, obviously, because of who did the appointing of these justices. But you had Gorsuch writing the majority opinion here. You had John Roberts siding with the majority as well.

You had a dissent from Sam Alito, who, of course, was appointed by George W. Bush back in 2006. Is this a one-issue divide, or does this speak to any kind of a broader divide on the right side of that court?

WILLIAMS:  Well, remember, this is not like -- unlike the gay marriage decision. This was not a constitutional interpretation question. This was not -- this was a statutory interpretation:  What does this law mean?

So, in a sense, it is confined to this specific law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. And this is an issue, by the way, that has divided the lower courts. Now, Alito in his dissent says, this is legislating, this isn`t -- in deciding.

Interestingly, Justice Kavanaugh, the other Trump appointee, says, I agree, this is for Congress to decide, not the court. But then, at the very end, he says, but gay and lesbian people and transgender people have been working very hard to make some good policy arguments, and I`m sure that they have every reason to be proud of this decision.

KORNACKI:  All right, NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

WILLIAMS:  You bet.

KORNACKI:  All right, and up next, we have got -- we have been talking about the race, the battle for the Senate, Democrats trying to get that majority from Republicans, obviously hoping they get help at the top of the ticket from Joe Biden.

There`s a certain set of states we always talk about as the battleground. We may have to expand that list.

I will show you when we get back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI:  All right. This is a set of numbers you`re going to be seeing a lot between now and November. This is the current balance in the United States senate. Democrats, of course, in the minority, 47 seats. Republicans with 53.

Democrats obviously this year, they are hoping not just to unseat Donald Trump, not just to have Biden beat Trump, but to have Biden beat Trump and to bring in with him a Democratic Senate, which potentially would go hand in hand with the Democratic House presuming they held that in this scenario. So, for that to happen, Democrats need a net gain of three seats. That would get them to 50. If Biden is president, then the Biden vice president breaks the tie in the Senate, Democrats have the Senate. So they need three and a Biden win.

Now, some interesting numbers we`ve gotten in the last couple of days and I want to show you how it affects the battle for the Senate map. First of all, these are all the seats that are up this year, the party that currently occupies them. Not all of these are going to be close races so let`s take you through what the battleground looks like.

First of all, one state stands out. This is Alabama. This is where Doug Jones won that special election. Doug Jones has a very, very steep uphill re-election fight. We`ll see who the Republicans nominate. Is it going to be Tommy Tuberville? Is it going to be Jeff Sessions? This will be a tough slog for Doug Jones no matter what.

This very, very possibly will be a loss for Democrats. So right away, we said they needed three and a Biden victory. Without Alabama, it becomes four and a Biden victory.

Now, let`s take you where they might get those. We have been talking these four states, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Maine, as prime pickup opportunities for Democrats.

Of course, Colorado and Maine are states that didn`t vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Cory Gardner, Susan Collins, running in difficult re-election races. North Carolina, you have Thom Tillis and some polls have been discouraging for him.

How about Arizona, a state Trump won in 2016? This is the average right now. Martha McSally, the appointed Republican incumbent, she is trailing big in the average of polls right there.

Those are four opportunities for Democrats right there. Some of them starting to look pretty ripe for them. And then when you get beyond those four, this is where it gets interesting.

We`ve looked at these to varying degrees as reaches for Democrats. Montana, Kansas, Texas, Georgia. You see that little s there, there`s a special election going on. There are two seats up for Georgia this year. The calendar doesn`t quite align. There could be an election after the November election to settle one of those seats but there could be opportunities for Democrats there.

And then Iowa -- Iowa an interesting state. Barack Obama carried this state. It swung and swung hard for Donald Trump in 2016. He won this thing going away in 2016.

There are some indications, though, that Iowa might be moving back to the Democratic side. A poll out over the weekend, "The Des Moines Register" in Iowa, how about this, Joni Ernst, the Republican running for her second term., trailing in "The Des Moines Register" poll, the Democratic nominee Theresa Greenfield by three points. And that "Des Moines Register" poll in the presidential race, their poll has Trump leading by one point in Iowa right now.

So that`s the opportunity for Democrats. A state like Iowa, plus if they can do well in the four I just showed you, that`s where they start to get opportunities, in Iowa and maybe some of those other states. That`s what they`re hoping. They`re hoping for a Biden win, a big Biden win and coattails and it would look like, for instance, Iowa.

Meanwhile, new reporting that some Republicans are concerned about Trump`s chances in November due to polls like this. How concerned should Republicans be when -- remember how worried they were in 2016? How does that affect this?

The memory of 2016.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI:  Welcome back.

"The Associated Press" is reporting that, quote, Trump`s divisive law and order response to protests against police killings of African-Americans, the untamed coronavirus pandemic and the worst economy in decades have wounded him. That`s left nervous Republicans debating whether congressional candidates in tight races should link hands with him or create distance.

"The Washington Post" also reports that Trump`s, quote, on a precipitous slide that has triggered deep distress within the GOP about the incumbent`s judgment and instincts as well as fears that voters could sweep the party out of power completely on election day. These headlines about the state of the 2020 race are a little reminiscent of the dire headlines about Trump in 2016 that predicted Hillary Clinton -- a Hillary Clinton presidency was a sure bet and some aren`t so quick to believe them again.

"Politico" reports that local Republican officials see, quote, an electoral landscape that is no worse for Trump than six months ago and possibly even slightly better. There is an overriding belief that just as Trump defied political gravity four years ago, there`s no reason he won`t do it again.

I`m joined now by Robert Costa, a national political report for "The Washington Post" and Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today."

Thanks to both of you for being with us.

Robert, let me start with you. It seems that that memory of 2016 is going to kind of lurk for better or for worse, whatever side you`re on, all year. In the president`s inner circle in terms of who he`s talking to and what he`s hearing, do they look at this, do they look at 2016 and say confidently, yeah, that`s going to happen again or do they look at this as something different?

ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Inside the president`s political orbit, there is a lot of confidence because they know that Republicans have often been tempted by the siren song of the never Trump coalition, but they believe that so many Republicans now across the country have bought into the idea that he has political capital with the political base, that they need to come out in November. And so, they`re not ready to desert him despite these polling numbers being terrible for the president and Republicans in many states.

So, the argument they`re making to me privately as a reporter is they say, look, Costa, the economy will reopen in these states. That`s going to help him bounce back. He has a debate with Biden on the horizon.

I always say to them, though, you could have a second spike of coronavirus in certain areas of the country and we don`t know how that`s going to play out. But they are banking on economy to come roaring back and to lift all their votes.

KORNACKI:  You know, Susan, there`s this question, too, of how Republicans who are on the ballot for the House, we just mentioned some of those key Senate races, how they should be regarding the president right now, whether they should be trying to create distance. I`m reminded of 2016, though. I`m remembering the "Access Hollywood" tape coming out weeks before the election. Republicans renouncing Trump in public, trying to create distance.

And when you looked at Election Day, it looked like in the voters` minds, they were all tied together for better or for worse. Is that the same this time around, too?

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF:  It`s different now because this time President Trump is the Republican Party. It was passable to distance yourself from Donald Trump four years ago if you were a Republican candidate. That is not really possible today. For better or worse, you are tied to him.

You see very few Republican candidates actually publicly, you don`t see them denouncing the president or saying they`re not supporting the president -- really very exceptional for any Republican in office to say that. You do have some of them talking about him more than others. Some Republicans would prefer not to have to discuss President Trump`s latest tweet, for instance. But for better or worse, this is Donald Trump`s Republican Party, and that`s going to be true in November.

KORNACKI:  Robert, you were describing the thinking about the around the president. I`m curious given the memory of 2016 that a lot of his supporters have, is there anything that could happen in the polling? Is there anything that could happen news development-wise that would shake them of that confidence after going through the experience they had in 2016?

COSTA:  At this point, they don`t really know which direction to go in, Steve. That`s what my colleague Phil Rucker and I paint the picture of in our story for "The Washington Post," is that they are looking at the economy as their key metric here and of course the coronavirus COVID-19 numbers as well.

But the economy is so much part of the Trump story three and a half years in. You see Republican playing it up in their adds. That`s why so many Republicans see their own political futures on the line.

But to your 2016 point, I was there covering it all and many Republicans in October of 2016 were ready to walk away or started to walk away. And when he won and he won states like Michigan and he won states like Wisconsin, they said to themselves, we`re not sure how we could have done that, so we might as well just stay on this train.

It has cost them with suburban voters, women voters, other voters across the country, but they feel there is no other option to build that electoral map.

KORNACKI:  Well, that`s the Trump side of things. There is also his Democratic opponent. "The New York Times" reporting that Joe Biden`s advisers have conducted several rounds of interviews with a select group of vice presidential candidates. Some of the contenders who have advanced furthest in the process, are well-known, including Senators Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

But "The Times" notes that some lower profile candidates like Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin are advancing steadily in the search process, and according to "The Times", quote, the wave of demonstrations touched off by the killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd has elevated a pair of black women well regarded as intriguing long shot candidates. Representative Val Demings of Florida and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta.

Susan, let me start with you. We`re talking at the top of this show, Atlanta the developments in the city of Atlanta in the last couple of days have once again put that city`s mayor back in the national spotlight. It is unusual for a presidential candidate to put a mayor on a national ticket. I think George McGovern wanted to put Kevin White on in `72 and Ted Kennedy said, no, I can`t think of other one.

Given the significance of policing issues, of race relations right now, is that a direction you think that Joe Biden might take?

PAGE:  I think probably not because one of the things that Joe Biden has talked about is he needs someone who is going to be ready on day one to be president. And I think he actually means that.

And it`s hard for a mayor to get over that line. But we`re at the point in the vice presidential process where it is free to say I`ve got you on my list. It is a way to show respect to a community, a way to show respect for an office holder who has supported you. It`s a good thing for a politician to, even though I suspect the list is smaller, the real list is smaller than the list of people that he is talking to. Of course he`s got a little time. He said about August 1st, he would announce his pick.

We have seen from just the events of the last few weeks how important it is to wait as long as possible because things happen that make a candidate look stronger or weaker.

KORNACKI:  All right. Susan Page and Robert Costa, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

COSTA:  Thank you.

KORNACKI:  All right. And up next, the return of normal in the sports world may take some time, but this weekend, NASCAR fans and golf fans did have something to cheer about.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI:  Well, the world of sports gradually began to return to something like normal this weekend. This as NASCAR became the first American sport to allow fans back into the seats. Not many, though. Social distancing still the rule, but NASCAR invited about 100 -- about 1,000 service members and their guests to watch the race at Homestead, Miami Speedway, and that track normally holds about 55,000.

One thing notably missing, though, at the race, the Confederate flag. Last week, NASCAR announced a ban on the flag going forward. And leading that campaign was Bubba Wallace, who is NASCAR`s only black full time driver.

And this weekend, we also saw the PGa`s first golf tournament since the beginning of the pandemic. Now, no spectators were allowed on the course, although, some were able to watch from the comfort of their backyards.

Like we said, slowly beginning to get back to normal. That will have to be good enough for now.

And for now, that is it for us. Thank you for being with us.

And 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