Tulsa rally TRANSCRIPT: 6/22/20, MSNBC Live

Guests: Karen Bass, Francis Suarez, Betsy Woodruff Swan, Charles Booker

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Well, he was brought to a hospital. Now, his lawyer is saying he suffered injuries to the head and wrist. The police commissioner is already acknowledging and this is a contrast to some stories we`ve covered that the incident, the clip of which you just saw was, quote, disturbing and an internal investigation is already begun.

We want to bring you update on that story. We`re out of time, so thanks for watching THE BEAT, will be back here tomorrow night at 6:00 P.M.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Steve Kornacki, President Trump is reportedly furious over what he sees as a disappointing turnout at his Tulsa rally this weekend. Trump had predicted that there wouldn`t be an empty seat in the house but rows of seat went largely unfilled in the venue`s upper levels.

According to the Tulsa fire marshal, there were fewer than 6,200 in attendance. That`s about a third of the arena`s 19,000-person capacity.

And according to The New York Times, quote, the president was stunned and he yelled at aides backstage. Several White House officials called the rally a disaster. A broad group of advisers acknowledged that, quote, Trump had not been able to will public opinion away from fears about the spread of the coronavirus in an indoor space. And they conceded that, quote, he might be on course to lose in November.

Amid the fallout from Tulsa, there are new questions about whether the president can count on filling up large arenas for his rallies moving forward given the ongoing threat of the coronavirus. There was also the content of the president`s speech, including his talk about heritage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We are the party of law and order.

You just saw it outside. You saw these thugs that came along. These people call them protesters. Isn`t it beautiful.

These are anarchists. These are not protesters. You listen to the fake news, they say, oh, the protesters were lovely.

The unhinged left wing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments.

They want to demolish our heritage. You want to save that beautiful heritage of ours. We have a great heritage. We`re a great country. You are so lucky I`m president. That`s all I can tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Today, Trump insisted that he`s done more for African-Americans than any president since the end of slavery.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: What does the civil rights movement and this moment in our history, what does that mean to you?

TRUMP: It means a lot to me and the civil rights means a lot to me, and nobody has done more for African-Americans --

REPORTER: But what exclusively does it mean.

TRUMP: Excuse me, sir. Nobody is done more for African-Americans than I have.

Criminal justice reform, prison reform, what we`ve done, nobody`s done. Nobody has done for the African-American community what President Trump has done other than Abraham Lincoln.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: And I`m joined now by Congresswoman Karen Bass of California. She is the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Congresswoman, thank you for joining us.

Well, you heard the president make his case there. What`s your reaction to what you heard him just say?

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Well, I think his comments are really vile. I mean, when he decided to go to Tulsa, Oklahoma, you know, that`s not a dog whistle, that`s a bull horn. Some people said, well, maybe he was tone deaf. He wasn`t tone deaf. That was an act of aggression against African- Americans. He knows exactly what he is doing.

He`s going to talk about all of the code words that he used from thug to the monuments, your heritage, all of the things he was saying, he knows exactly what he`s doing.

And, unfortunately, from the beginning of his race when he came down the escalator, whenever things go bad for him, he always uses race, and he tries to be essentially a flamethrower to racial tension in the country, and it`s just so sad.

And you know what, now the whole world knows it. How sad is it that people around the world are marching for human rights for African-Americans in the United States. That`s pathetic.

KORNACKI: We had a clip there, a bunch of comments from different parts of his speech there. But you mentioned the two part of those clips we just showed, the president talking about heritage, saying it in the context of monuments coming down. When he says, heritage, you mentioned that word. You said that signals something. What do you say that that word signals?

BASS: Well, he`s talking about the confederacy. He`s essentially saying the people that tried to destroy the United States, the traitors, are the ones that we need to celebrate. That`s the heritage that he is interested in. And to be so insulting as to say the only person that did more for African- Americans was President Lincoln because he freed the people who were enslaved, it`s so disrespectful. I mean, I don`t even know what to say about it. It`s racist. He knows it`s racist. And he is using racism to try to win his election again.

He did the exact same thing in 2018, except for 2018, it was the invasion from Central America. He`s also talking about Asians with what he`s trying to say about China bringing in the virus that he`s refused to do anything about. But I know he doesn`t care about African-Americans or people of color.

But he also doesn`t even care about his own constituents. They could have done social distancing there. There was nobody in that stadium. They had plenty of room. If he cared about his own constituents, he would have done this virtually. But he doesn`t mind exposing them for his own personal narcissistic gratification.

It`s really sad, and I`m counting the days. I think we have a little over 130 days before we relieve the world of this mess that we`ve experienced for the last three and a half years.

KORNACKI: We`ve talked a little bit here about the -- some pretty significant changes we`ve seen in polling in the last couple weeks, in particular in response to these protests where the national conversation has been. There`s this one, for example, a majority of Americans now 52 percent say that they favor removing confederate statues. This is from Quinnipiac out just a couple of days ago. That is up, that 52 percent number from just 39 percent three years ago. three years ago in the wake of Charlottesville.

However, we are also now seeing that some protesters are targeting non- confederate statues. In Portland, Oregon, they toppled the statue of George Washington as well as one of Thomas Jefferson.

Congresswoman, I want to take this question in two parts with you. First, just on that movement in the polling, that poll from three years ago on confederate monuments, that was taken in the wake of Charlottesville. That got certainly plenty of attention worldwide, at that point, 39 percent, three years later, an outright majority. What do you attribute that pretty significant and quick growth to?

BASS: Well, I`ll tell you, I mean, it makes me feel so hopeful and so inspired, because I feel like we`re at this moment in our country probably similar to how it felt in the 1950s when the cameras, the news media revealed what was going on in the south. And I feel like we`re in one of those moments of inflection in our country where we`re actually maybe finally coming to grips with our history.

You know, we have had a tendency as a country to only want to hear about the wonderful things of our history, George Washington and the cherry tree. We want the nice stories. But we don`t want to hear the more difficult ones.

And so I am very inspired by it, but I`m hoping that we`ll go a little deeper, because people are using terms like systemic racism, and I know that so many people don`t really know what those terms mean, and maybe now we can talk about it.

You know, just dealing with the virus, the coronavirus, and the extreme disproportionate death rate and people are finally learning about the underlying health conditions that African-Americans and other communities of color face in the United States. And so I`m hoping that we`ll be able to move the needle.

And I`ll tell you, if there`s anything that`s good that comes out of this presidency, even though the last three and a half years have been so painful, maybe he has been so extreme that he actually moves the needle in a -- in the other direction because I think most Americans are ashamed by this.

You know, the other poll that`s drastically different is on policing, because you know a few years ago, when they would poll white people and black people, white people would say, there`s no problem, there`s no discrimination in policing, and black people, of course, would say the exact opposite. Well, the needle has moved with that as well. And people are much closer.

So there`s a real heightened awareness, but that`s why we have to do our job here in Congress, and we have to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act because it`s a transformative piece of legislation that really meets what is being called for in the streets. And I just hope that people keep protesting every single day until we get this bill done.

KORNACKI: I just want to ask you quickly though following up on that poll we showed there, the movement on the confederate question. There is that news. We put it up there the last couple days. Some protesters have gone after non-confederates. I saw Ulysses Grant the other day, who was a champion of civil rights in the 1870s in this country. His statue was toppled by protesters. Is there a risk here that the toppling of these statues kind of clouds the issues you`re trying to raise here?

BASS: Well, I mean, there`s the potential for that. But what I really hope happens is a real discussion of our history. And I`m not sure toppling every statue is what we really need to do, but what we do need to do is we need to have an in-depth understanding and discussion of our history and not just the nice parts. And so, hopefully, that will be the outcome.

KORNACKI: All right. Congresswoman Karen Bass from California, thank you for joining us, I appreciate it. And for more, I`m joined by Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times and John Podhoretz is the Editor of Commentary Magazine. I appreciate you both being here.

Peter, let me just start with you. We talked about the crowd that was disappointing to the president, the reaction he`s apparently had to all of this, raises a very basic question going forward, if he couldn`t get more than 6,200 in Tulsa, is he even going to bother having rallies in big arenas the rest of his campaign?

PETER BAKER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it`s a great question. He won Oklahoma by 36 points in 2016. This is not a battleground state. It`s a state that had, you know, less coronavirus than a lot of other ones where he would like to win, battleground states that he needs to win. And so you`re right, it does raise questions about the future of his campaign strategy.

Remember, the campaign rallies are the life blood for this president. He enjoys, he relishes, he cherishes these events, the ability to connect with the crowd, it energizes him. He thinks it projects strength. It is the heart of how he intended to campaign. And he now is in a position where he is not able to do that going forward because he`s embarrassed by what happened in Tulsa, it raises big questions.

There`s a lot of talk about whether there might be a campaign shake-up as a result. It`s a moment of disappointment in the Trump campaign where they`re already feeling bad because of the polls, so we have to watch and see how he takes that disappointment and translates it into a future strategy.

But right now, it`s a bad week in the Trump campaign.

KORNACKI: John, I was just talking with Congresswoman Bass about the issue of these monuments that have been torn down, the question there in the polling too of confederate monuments, in particular, now a majority say they want those to go in this country. She was making the point there the argument she said that she thought that Donald Trump had basically stirred a backlash that was advancing the agenda that she`s working toward here. Do you agree with that?

JOHN PODHORETZ, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think there`s something to it. And I think it has a great deal to do with the degree of passion that is being shown, you know, in these countervailing, symbolic efforts. That said, the notion that tearing down statues of great Americans like, as you mentioned, Ulysses S. Grant, who was a signature figure in the passage of the 15th Amendment, was a leading figure in American civil rights, was somebody who found himself in ownership of a slave due to marriage and freed the slave and was humiliated and upset by the fact that he had been put in this position for his entire life, that a person like that, a complex, flawed but significant American who, you know, arguably won the civil war for the north should be somebody who is disrespected in this fashion, who is treated as though he is no different from a statue of a traitor like a leader of the confederacy, that shows a degree of a historical anger and vulgarity and, frankly, nihilism that I think is very, very dangerous.

KORNACKI: Peter, there`s also the question where we`re talking about what was in the president`s speech. There was some but there wasn`t a ton in the president`s speech about his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden. You think back to those Trump rallies four years ago in 2016, it was Hillary this, Hillary that. She was the centerpiece of his rhetoric in all of his rallies. Joe Biden playing a much more sort of subdued role in this Trump rally. Does that tell us anything about the president, about his strategy here, about potentially struggles in terms of formulating a message against Joe Biden?

BAKER: Yes, it`s a great question. Of course, Joe Biden has basically been all but missing from the public conversation for a while. He`s -- you know, because of the COVID-19 virus, not been active on the campaign trail nearly as much as he might have been otherwise, and that`s been frustrating, I think, to the president.

He is most confident, most comfortable when he has an opponent to attack and to play off of, a foil to work off of, and it`s -- Biden`s absence from the scene is discomforting to a lot of Democrats, but it`s also deprived the president of an active target. And he`s been trying to flush Biden out of the basement, if you will, and try to get him to be more public and visible so he can have an opponent. If the contest in the fall is referendum on Trump, that obviously plays to Vice President Biden`s advantage.

If it`s a choice between President Trump and Vice President Biden, then President Trump has at least the opportunity to try to tear down his opponent, to try to explain to voters why Biden would be worse, to explain to them why he`s unacceptable, at the very least, energize his own supporters that way. And so far, we haven`t seen that.

And so we`ll see whether he does that going forward. For the moment, I think he`s frustrated not to have a Joe Biden more visible in order to play off.

KORNACKI: And, John, another name in the news right now is John Bolton, the former National Security Advisor to the president. His book, apparently, now is going to be released. Everybody is going to get a chance to read that if they want to.

On one level, it`s extraordinary to have a former national security adviser out there saying the kinds of things about his former boss that John Bolton is saying about Donald Trump. Another way of looking at it, I think, after the last three, three and a half years is this is almost par for the course, given the development we`ve seen. What impact do you think this will have?

PODHORETZ: I don`t think it has much impact, electorally. I don`t think that Bolton is going to change minds of Trump voters and turn them into Biden voters. What it does is that it joins this general sense that every news story, every news cycle, every detail in the news over the last three months has redounded to Donald Trump`s disadvantage.

This is something he didn`t need to have to deal with now. It`s something that triggers his, you know, counterpunch hostility. That then means that he`s engaging with a figure that he should probably ignore because he`s got a bigger fish to fry in Biden and in the Democrats. And the distraction is, I think, extremely unhelpful to him, and he is incapable, I think, of ignoring and going right at the subject he needs to when somebody starts punching at him from the sidelines.

KORNACKI: All right. John Podhoretz and Peter Baker, thanks to both of you, I appreciate it.

And coming up, cases are up and way up in some places, but deaths aren`t, at least not yet. The coronavirus is still very much with us, and new numbers suggest some interesting possibilities. We`ve got much more to get to. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Welcome back.

Welcome back.

New coronavirus cases are up 18 percent across the country over the last two weeks. And in some places, especially warm weather states in the Sun Belt, they are rising at a much faster rate than that.

Arizona was not hit hard in the early months of the outbreak, but it is getting it now, with numbers in all key categories rising, and rapidly.

Elsewhere, though, the picture is more complicated. In Florida, for instance, new cases are way up, 155 percent over the last two weeks. And this weekend, the state recorded yet another new record for most new cases in a day.

However, the number of deaths in Florida is flat. There was one fewer death last week, in fact, than the week before. Now, deaths can be a lagging indicator here. But these trends have endured for a few weeks now.

Florida`s governor says it`s because the people who are becoming infected in his state now tend to be younger. He says the median age in Florida is 37. More than 80 percent of COVID deaths in the U.S. are among those over 65. And only eight-tenths of 1 percent of those deaths have been under 35 years old.

And, nationally, while cases are up, deaths are down 25 percent over the past two weeks.

So, what is going on here?

For more, I am joined by Dr. John Torres, MSNBC medical correspondent.

Doctor, thank you for joining us, just the person to talk to here.

So, we keep seeing these alarming numbers of new cases out there. But so far -- and I know this can be a lagging indicator -- but, so far, the deaths are declining nationally, and in a lot of these states, they`re flat or only up slightly.

What do you make of that?

DR. JOHN TORRES, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Steve, there`s a couple things going on here.

Number one, we talked about a week ago, and we were talking about how, across the nation, cases were down, but, in certain spots, cases had started to creep up. Well, the story`s changed this week. And now, across the nation cases are up, including those areas that had cases up last week. They`re even more so.

And hospitalizations are up as well, especially in certain areas, Texas, Arizona. Those are the states that are having the most difficulty with the hospitalizations. But you`re right. You`re not seeing those deaths. And that`s happening for a couple reasons.

Number one, like you mentioned, the deaths do lag. And what typically happens is, you start seeing the cases first. A week or two later, you start seeing hospitalizations, and then two to three weeks later, you start seeing the deaths associated with that.

So I think, in the next couple of weeks, we`re going to see an increased number of deaths, but we`re not going to see as many as we did back in February/March/April time frame. And the reason behind that is because the population that is being affected right now by the cases, the spikes in cases.

And those tend to be younger. So the younger people that get coronavirus don`t get affected nearly as much, and they don`t have the deaths. Like you mentioned, 65 and above are the bulk numbers of people who have unfortunately died from coronavirus. So the younger ones that are getting it certainly can`t have complications from it, they certainly can die from it, but they`re not doing that in the same numbers as people that are older than them, Steve.

KORNACKI: So, we mentioned that these big increases, they tend to be -- not always, but they tend to be in these southern Sun Belt states.

I want to put up a graphic here. This is from Vox. They put this together. It shows how many of the states that are seeing upticks are these Sun Belt states. They`re warmer. And they tend to have -- the key thing here is, they tend to have the days right now that are so far above temperature -- above normal in temperature, that air conditioning might be used.

And I think that`s a question a lot of people have been starting to ask here, because I`m looking at this. I see there are some states, like Colorado, that have reopened and are not seeing increases here. There are other states, particularly in the South, that are getting these increases.

Is there a sense here that the really hot weather keeps people inside in these HVAC systems, the air conditioning shared? Does that somehow contribute to this? Do you have a sense of that at all?

TORRES: And, Steve, it doesn`t seem to really contribute it, if it`s an individual air conditioner you have in your house.

But you`re right. It`s kind of a bit of a dichotomy, because what we have talked about in the past is that heat and humidity seem to keep the virus under control. Turns out it doesn`t keep it under control as much as we would like or as much as we thought, but, to a limited extent, it might.

And so these states that have higher heat, higher humidity -- I`m in Colorado right now. It`s not that hot and it`s certainly not that humid, but the cases are down here compared to other areas.

I think part of the reason is because, number one, people are going out more in these Southern states, and they`re congregating more. They`re not necessarily following the guidelines of wearing the masks and the social distancing. That`s number one.

As far as the air conditioner, now, there was a case where an air conditioner in a restaurant seemed to have passed coronavirus on to other people. But as far as air conditioners in people`s homes, that seems to be a very, very low risk of causing coronavirus to pass them among other people.

But we do know that, once you start moving inside, if you start moving inside in groups, that too can cause coronavirus to spread more than it does outside. So you got a lot of different things at play here.

And like I said, it`s a bit of a dichotomy looking at the states that are increasing in cases and looking at their temperature and their humidity. And we don`t have the full answer right now. We`re getting there, Steve.

KORNACKI: All right, Dr. John Torres, always appreciate having you on. Thank you very much.

And, as we were talking about, Florida one of those states seeing an uptick in reported cases, the governor saying he plans to increase enforcement of social distancing in bars and nightclubs.

Just last week, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez delayed the implementation of phase three of reopening in that city. And earlier today, the mayor warned that, if the surge was not controlled, it would spiral out of control.

Mayor Suarez joins me now.

Your Honor, thank you for taking a few minutes. Appreciate it.

Let me start just by understanding the situation the ground where you are in South Florida. The governor is saying, the new cases tend to be younger, significantly younger than we were seeing back March, April and into May.

Is that what you`re seeing on the ground there in Miami?

FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MAYOR OF MIAMI, FLORIDA: That is what we`re seeing.

And that is what we`re being told by the Department of Health. Significant increase in cases are in 18-to-35-year age range. But what we also know is that a lot of people that are in that age range obviously live either with their parents or with their grandparents.

So, the concern is that, even though the increase in cases is in that age range, that it could spill over into more vulnerable age ranges that could increase even more than we`re seeing, the hospitalizations, the ventilations, and the ICUs that we`re already seeing increase.

KORNACKI: So, yes, I`m wondering, is there a policy implication if suddenly it tends to be more among younger folks, and there`s that risk there?

You`re talking about if they live with an older relative or something. Is there a policy implication there in terms of, this is how we`re going to handle reopening, this is a way to keep -- perhaps to put some kind of a barrier, to keep the young away from the vulnerable?

Is there anything from a policy standpoint that would address that specific phenomenon of the younger folks getting it now?

SUAREZ: We had a press conference today with 15 mayors from a variety of different cities in Miami County.

And one of the things that we decided to do, most of us, as a policy matter, is require a mask be worn outside in public. Up until then, masks were being required under imminent circumstances. And now we`re going to have a blanket requirement that masks be worn in public, so that hopefully those in that population group will prevent themselves or be at a lower risk from getting the infection, which, of course, would then potentially expose people that are much more vulnerable in terms of age and medical conditions.

KORNACKI: You say you delayed the implementation of the next phase of reopening there in Florida. Talk a little bit, if you would, about what that phase would entail, what things would look like, and what you want to see to get there.

SUAREZ: What that entailed was movie theaters, bars, and nightclubs, and also large sporting events.

What we saw in our call this morning with the Department of Health is the high water mark when we implemented a stay-at-home order for Miami-Dade County was about 533 cases. Just about two days ago, we had over 900 cases in one day. So we have had double the amount of what we had when we decided to implement a stay-at-home order.

We know a stay-at-home order is effective. The problem is, it`s also effective at crippling the economy. So we have to balance the measures that we take with the understanding that we`re not in the same position that we were a few months ago.

As your previous guest was saying, the hospitalizations are up. The ICU and the ventilators are also up, but the deaths still remain low. But that could also be (AUDIO GAP) potential lag from -- you know, for a few weeks after seeing the uptick in, you know, spike in cases and patients.

KORNACKI: OK, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, thank you for joining us. Appreciate that.

And up next: the White House`s new rationale for the controversial firing of a high-profile U.S. attorney in New York.

We`re back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Why was Mr. Berman being dismissed in the first place?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Because Mr. Clayton wanted to go back to New York City. We wanted to keep him in government, and, therefore, he was given the position at SDNY.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KORNACKI: Welcome back.

That was the explanation from White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany of this weekend`s sudden firing of one of the top federal prosecutors in America.

Geoffrey Berman was the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. And his office had been investigating close associates of President Trump.

Now, late Friday night, Attorney General William Barr announced that Berman was resigning. Berman then disputed that claim and showed up for work on Saturday, creating a standoff that ended hours later, when Barr announced that Trump had fired Berman.

The White House is denying that the investigations had any role in the decision to get rid of Berman and to replace him with the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton.

Clayton has no experience as a prosecutor, but he has been a golfing partner of the president. Democratic lawmakers are already calling for investigations into Berman`s firing, with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler hoping to hear testimony from him as soon as this Wednesday.

And for more, I`m joined by Betsy Woodruff Swan, Politico national correspondent, and Maya Wiley, professor at The New School and former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Thank you both for being with us.

Betsy, let me just start with you.

We mentioned that this office, the United States attorney`s office for the Southern District of New York, has been investigating close associates of the president. Is there any indication that that played any role here?

BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, POLITICO: If that played a role, then the entire Berman-Barr situation was an abject failure.

When the attorney general, Bill Barr, announced that he was firing Geoff Berman, he also announced that he would pick an unusual person to replace him. He said he was going to replace him with another U.S. attorney, Craig Carpenito, who`s an ally of Chris Christie`s and currently working a full- time job as the U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey.

However, when Berman said, heck, no, I`m not stepping down, by the time he and Barr were able to somehow rectify their differences, Barr conceded that, rather than having Carpenito come in, a different person would temporarily take Geoff Berman`s job.

That different person is his first assistant, a woman who was viewed very much as not a political animal. She`s been in the U.S. attorney`s office for quite some time. It`s a -- it`s very much like her expertise, the cases that she`s going to be handling.

The fact that she is taking this role rather than Craig Carpenito, indicates it`s very unlikely that any of the sensitive high-profile political investigations that are under way will be impeded or hindered because of the musical chairs that the Justice Department senior leadership tried to pull off.

KORNACKI: Well, Maya, you`re obviously very familiar with how this office works.

So for those of us who are sort of laymen here, the Southern District of New York has this reputation as being obviously one of the most consequential offices in the country, but also a reputation for independence.

If it was this president or any president, for that matter, intent on meddling with this office somehow, could that be pulled off by replacing the guy at the top, or would it take more than that?

MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: When you replace your own appointee -- because remember that Mr. Berman was appointed by Donald Trump, had given to Donald Trump`s campaign, and was a law partner of Rudy Giuliani, the president`s defense attorney -- you would think that this is not a person who you would remove in order to meddle in investigations.

The reality here seems much different, because Mr. Berman, in part, has been so independent. If you remember, when he announced the process of looking into Lev Parnas and other associates of Rudy Giuliani, he made a public statement making very clear that he was going to be independent, that he would follow the investigation where it led.

It was a very strong message. We also know that, as we have said, there`s several investigations. It is highly irregular for a president to replace his own appointee in less than a year out from his own reelection to give it to someone as a favor who has no background or qualification for the job.

So, when you put all that together and you add the fact that we`re talking about Bill Barr, Bill Barr, who has not exactly been demonstrating his independence from the president, to say it lightly, it`s very hard to look at this and not say, this needs to be investigated.

And, frankly, the story now that`s emerging that`s like, well, we just wanted to take care of Mr. Clayton, well, why did Mr. Clayton need to be taken care of so shortly before the election? And, frankly, if that`s true, then why did it take so many days to hear the explanation? Why did that take until Monday, when this news broke Friday night?

KORNACKI: Well...

WILEY: I say that there needs to be an investigation. And if this is true, bring it.

KORNACKI: So, Betsy, in terms of that investigation, then you have got Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, saying, there are going to be hearings here. He wants to hear from Berman.

Are Democrats, is Congress, are all of us going to hear from Berman, and soon?

WOODRUFF SWAN: That`s an open question. We don`t know the answer to that.

What we do know, though, is that the House Judiciary Committee will be having a very interesting hearing this week. They`re bringing in, for what I believe is the first time under the Trump administration, a career prosecutor, a career lawyer from the Justice Department, who currently works there, who`s been working at a very high level, and who says he`s going to testify about politicization.

This person is named John Elias. He formerly was the chief of staff in the division`s -- in the department`s powerful Antitrust Division. He`s currently a lawyer in that division still. And he says he`s going to be testifying about improper -- or he`s indicated he`s going to be testifying about improper political interference.

So, I can guarantee you that firm is going to be keeping an eye on that hearing to see how the House Judiciary Committee handles this very sensitive and potentially revelatory, kind of unprecedented testimony from someone who currently works at the Justice Department and thinks it`s being handled in a politically inappropriate way.

KORNACKI: Maya, you want an investigation.

What do you think specifically the House Judiciary Committee can learn here?

WILEY: Well, specifically, the House Judiciary Committee should ask why Mr. Berman put in his statement that sentence that was so damning, in my view, about the investigations under way would move forward without delay or interruption.

That is a highly unusual sentence to include in what was otherwise also a highly unusual statement, saying that he did not resign and that he was not stepping down.

And the implication seemed clear. So, the question is, was it? Was that exactly what he was trying to communicate? And, if so, why?

The boundary here has to be on protecting ongoing investigations, because that`s something that is his ethical responsibility to do. But I think short of saying specific investigations or what was being investigated or what the evidence in those investigations were, I do think he can and must answer that question.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: All right, Maya Wiley and Betsy Woodruff Swan, thank you both for being with us. I appreciate that.

And up next, what impact is Black Lives Matter and the protest going to have on the upcoming election tomorrow? We`ve got two very interesting tests, if Black Lives Matter is having a big effect on Democratic Party politics. That`s coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: We`ve been talking about how the protests the last few weeks, the focus on Black Lives Matter, how poll numbers are starting to change. Let me show you a prime example of it. This is a question from our friends at CNN. We use their polls sometimes. They asked folks recently, how important will race relations be to your vote for president?

Now, check this out. The percent saying it`s extremely/very important, if you look at Republicans, it`s 49 percent. It`s about half who say race relations will be railroad very important to their vote. If you look at independents, that number jumps up, now you got a clear majority, 63 percent, almost two-thirds.

And if you look at Democrats and you ask how many of you are extremely or very important -- how many of you say race relations are extremely or very important? Eighty-nine percent. It`s almost unanimous there in the Democratic side. This issue of race relations will be important to them in November.

We saw something like this a couple years ago. Remember the me too movement and remember how in Democratic primaries in 2018, one thing that that led to was Democratic voters wanted to promote and put out there female candidates. We saw that in 2018. Will Black Lives Matter and will polling like this result in Democrats, in eagerness to back African-American candidates, one interesting test could be tomorrow in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

This is a Democratic primary for the United States senate. The winner of this race will take on Mitch McConnell in the fall.

Amy McGrath, perhaps you remember her from 2018. She was one of the female candidates who Democrats got behind. She narrowly lost a race for the House in Kentucky. She decided to run for the Senate -- looked like she was the odds-on favorite for this nomination.

But Charles Booker, a member of the statehouse in Kentucky, got in the race late. He has gotten some momentum late. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez all endorsing him. There is a big financial disparity here between these campaigns, McGrath, nearly $20 million, Booker, only a couple hundred thousand dollars.

But this is an interesting test, this late momentum that`s behind Booker, this sudden focus, grassroots emphasis on Black Lives Matter and all those issues. The question is, could this lift Booker to an upset victory tomorrow in the Democratic primary?

By the way, one thing to keep in mind here, Kentucky`s got mail-in voting for this primary, got a lot of people who have requested ballots but in terms of in-person voting tomorrow, Lexington and Louisville, they had 2,400 polling places in the state. There are 177 tomorrow. There`s one for the county where Louisville is. There`s one for the county where Lexington is. These are the big population centers.

These are big polling places. It`s an expo center and a football field, but that`s one thing to keep an eye on tomorrow, some pretty big counties. If a lot of people decide they want to vote on primary day tomorrow, will it be an issue, having only one, be it large, one venue?

Something to keep an eye on tomorrow, but that race, Booker/McGrath, be very interesting to take a look at that.

And still ahead, a closer look at how these issues are reshaping the race in Kentucky. Charles Booker will join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: Welcome back.

Tomorrow is primary for the Democratic nomination to face-off against Mitch McConnell in Kentucky in November is looking like it could be a close one, with State Representative Charles Booker gaining steam late against Amy McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot who`s been endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

As "The New York Times" reports, quote: The fury in Kentucky over Breonna Taylor`s death, uncertainty about voting in a pandemic and a host of late endorsements from progressive leaders have provided fresh momentum to Booker`s candidacy, upending a nominating contest few in the national party were even following last month.

And I am joined now by Kentucky state representative and U.S. Senate candidate, Charles Booker.

We should note, we invited his opponent Amy McGrath to join us as well. She was not available.

Representative, thank you for joining us.

We started a few minutes ago in the last segment looking at how voting is going to be conducted in Kentucky. For the first time, you`ve got widespread mail-in voting in this primary. That`s been going on for weeks. It looks like just in the mail-in ballots, there is already a higher turnout than we`ve seen in past primaries.

But tomorrow, for anybody who wants to go and vote in person, in Louisville, where you`re from, Lexington, they got one giant venue for each county. The governor, a Democrat, says he`s confident this is going to go well tomorrow.

Are you?

STATE REP. CHARLES BOOKER (D-KY), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, I`m going to be there fighting to make sure it does. And, Steve, it`s an honor to be with you.

And, you know, Kentucky is one of the most disenfranchised states in the county. It`s hard for people to vote here. And we are aware of having one polling location is just naturally going to disfranchise folks.

And so, we`re going to have teams all across Kentucky reviewing the process, make sure folks can vote, that their voice is heard. And I hope it is a smooth process. But if it`s not, we`ll be ready to fight.

KORNACKI: We mentioned this campaign a year ago this time, Amy McGrath was getting quite a bit of attention nationally. You see those fund-raising numbers that enabled her to bring in the kind of money she`s brought in.

Your candidacy has been getting a lot of attention late in this campaign. We mentioned the flood of endorsements that`s come in. Do you attribute to the -- what happened in Louisville with Breonna Taylor, to the protests there, to the Black Lives movement nationally that`s taken hold? Has that been something that`s fueled your campaign here late?

BOOKER: Well, I will say that what`s happened lately has allowed the country to see what we have been building all along. My platform is focused on uprooting and ending generational poverty, addressing structural inequity and structural racism and uplifting our Kentuckians.

And the momentum has been there. It`s been growing.

Now, nobody pays attention in Kentucky. Nobody looks to us and listens to us and they tell us that all we deserve is a pro-Trump Democrat. They never pay attention to us.

But we`ve been working. We`ve been inspiring people to stand that have never gotten involved in politics before. And because we fought the fight the right way, we raised and spent over $3 million since the 3rd of this month.

And we`ve been able to go dollar to dollar with the DSCC`s chosen candidate because we`re standing up for regular people. We`re fighting to say not only are we going to beat Mitch McConnell, but we`re getting him out of the way so that we can transform our future and also fired up from Appalachia to the perches, from the hoods to the highway. We`re taking a stand. We`re going to win this race.

KORNACKI: I notice you call your opponent a pro-Trump Democrat.

Kentucky voted for Donald Trump, as you know, by a 30 point margin in 2016. This was one of his strongest states in the country.

I was looking at a poll the other day that actually had you leading in the Democratic race, but it still showed Donald Trump very popular in Kentucky, well over 50 percent, 20 points ahead of Joe Biden.

To win an election in Kentucky, to connect with the kind of voters you got to connect to win there, I don`t say (ph) being pro-Trump on everything, but on something maybe?

BOOKER: Well, it`s not about being pro-Trump as it is about listening to Kentuckians. And the problem with saying you are going to be a pro-Trump Democrat is, what in the world does that even mean?

We`re talking about issues that are very populist. We`re talking about investing in people. We`re calling out that the system is broken. Those are things that Donald Trump did.

And a lot of people that voted for Trump are going to vote for me because they know that I`m standing for them. And I`m not pandering. I`m not giving them political B.S. and no, I`m not saying that I`m going to support Donald Trump`s agenda. I`m supporting Kentucky`s agenda.

And because of that, we are building this momentum that is from -- again, from Appalachia, all the way to the perches, of regular folks saying that, OK, we want health care. We`re tired of rationing our insulin. I`m a type 1 diabetic. I`ve nearly died from diabetic ketoacidosis.

We`re tired of jobs leaving. We`re tired of poverty. We`re tired of struggling.

And if you are going to fight for us, I don`t care what your party is, then we`re going to stand with you. And that`s why they will stand with me now - - labor, folks and teachers, educators, student leaders, folks that are in the streets demanding justice, even (INAUDIBLE) at us, they`re standing with me now because they know where I stood. And that`s bigger than party.

And so, I`m proud of this coalition we`re building because it means we`re going to get Mitch out of there.

KORNACKI: All right. Kentucky State Representative Charles Booker, candidate for the U.S. Senate, we will see how that primary goes tomorrow. Good luck to you. Thank you for joining us.

And coming up, NASCAR stands with Bubba Wallace. More on that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KORNACKI: A very emotional scene before today`s race at NASCAR`s Talladega Super Speedway in Alabama. Hundreds of Bubba Wallace`s competitors, drivers and crew members rallied around him, pushing his number 43 car to the front of the field.

Wallace is the only black driver in NASCAR`s Cup Series. And over the weekend, someone put a noose inside his garage stall. The FBI and the Department of Justice say they are investigating the matter.

It comes less than two weeks after NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from all of its events, something that Wallace had fought for.

And in a statement, Bubba Wallace wrote, in part, quote, this will not break me. I will not give in nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in.

After today`s show of support from fellow drivers, Wallace tweeted this photo with just one word, "Together".

That`s it for us. Thank you for being with us.

And don`t go anywhere. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" is up next.

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