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"Toothless" GOP Police Reform Bill TRANSCRIPT: 6/24/20, MSNBC Live

Guests: Ayesha Rascoe, Anthony Scaramucci, Maria Teresa Kumar, Leana Wen, Donna Shalala, Cynthia Alksne

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t expect things to fundamentally change well into next year would be my best guess.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: We are back to where we started in April, when everyone said that was the worst period, something to keep in mind.

That does it for our show tonight. As always, thanks for watching. I`ll be back at 6:00 P.M. Eastern tomorrow, and keep it right here right now on MSNBC.

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

 14 points, that`s how far Donald Trump has fallen behind Joe Biden in the race for president, according to a stunning new poll out just today. That poll conducted by The New York Times shows that 50 percent of registered voters say they would vote for Biden, but only 36 percent support Trump. It`s the latest in a series of polls that spell trouble for this president. The RealClearPolitics polling average now has Trump trailing Biden by ten points.

And what is Trump doing about that very significant problem for his re- elect? Well, he`s wallowing, just bathing in the same pit of racism, xenophobia and racial grievance that defined his 2020 campaign. Except now, he`s doing it in an even more frantic way.

As The New York Times put, said Trump is pushing anew to divide Americans by race, and yet for the time as Trump has rarely been so inflammatory on race in such a narrow window of time.

Despite the outcry over police brutality, Trump has acquitted Black Life Matter protesters with anarchists and terrorists, openly calling them thugs. He`s used incendiary language to refer to the coronavirus and he speaks of preserving America`s heritage using that racially loaded terms to defend confederate monuments.

On top of that, Trump is stoking racial resentment by re-tweeting videos of African-Americans attacking white people. And he made the baseless accusation that Barack Obama, the country`s first black president, committed treason.

Joining me tonight is Ayesha Rascoe, NPR White House Reporter, Anthony Scaramucci, former Communications Director in the Trump White House, and Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino. Thank you all for being here.

I`m going to start with you, Ayesha, The New York Times piece on Donald Trump and his plot to divide Americans by race as a campaign strategy. This is what The New York Times writes, answering to his own instincts in what he thinks, quote, my people want, as he often puts it to advisers. The president is exploiting racial divisions in a way that appeals to only a segment of his party.

Per your reporting, does Donald Trump understand, my people, to mean quite frankly white people?

AYESHA RASCOE, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think that when you hear the president talking -- I don`t want to try to get into his head, but he has said just a few weeks ago that MAGA loves the black people. MAGA loves African-Americans, seeming to say that MAGA does not include African-Americans. And so he`s used that sort of language in the past.

Now, it is clear the president does have this outreach that he does to call black voices for Trump and black surrogates that he does use to talk about his record and things of that nature. But as you said, there has been a lot of very mixed messages coming from him, particularly with those clips that he`s tweeting, like just with random black people attacking a white person without context or anything like that. It`s not the message that he is sending is one that is rooted in division.

REID: Let me go to you, Anthony, because you`re absolutely right, you should, you know, from a reporting point of view, they`re not going to blatantly say that. But Donald Trump, you know, has said he should have whites versus blacks Apprentice. He said the MAGAs love the black people, which implies that the MAGAs aren`t in the black people. We know there are few black for Trump. People -- there are diamond and silk and such that do show up at his rallies to entertain his base. But when he`s saying things like that, is that a very barely coded way of saying his people are white Americans and he thinks in his mind that overt racist appeals are what they want?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, he`s experimenting. You know, the Kung Flu statement, that racist statement yesterday was part of that experimentation. He is searching for what he thinks is the Rubik`s Cube answer to getting him re-elected, and that is more white turnout in November.

And so he`s decided that he`s going to make this a race-baiting race war. He`s going to do everything he can to defy the people, Joy, and he`s hoping that he can get his base to turn out in terms of voter participation at a higher percentage than last time.

And so right now he`s experimenting. You know, it`s June. By August, he`ll have a much more refined, much more negative, much more racist pitch.

REID: And just the problem with that, Maria Teresa, is that, number one, the polls show that the majority of White Voters don`t want that. That they`re not interested in it, that they agree more and more and more with people of color about things like policing and about Black Lives Matter even.

And so he`s pitching to not even a majority of white Americans at this point. But he -- what he`s doing does have a precedent. I want to play really a great montage that was put together by the wonderful theme here. And it is the thing that`s the most like Donald Trump in a lot of ways, and that would be one, George Wallace. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Law and order must be further restored nationwide.

FMR. GOV. GEORGE WALLACE (D-AL): We all have a majority that people of both races are sick and tired of the breakdown of law enforcement.

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

WALLACE: You anarchists better have your day now, because I tell you again, you`re through after November 5th in this country.

TRUMP: Our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa.

WALLACE: They are mobs, they employing the streets war craft tactics of the communists.

TRUMP: If the Democrats gain power, then the rioters will be in charge.

WALLACE: The American people are tired of some of the treasonal conduct allowed in the name of academic freedom. That`s giving a moral boost to the enemies of our country.

TRUMP: Americans want law and order, they demand law and order.

WALLACE: When does it come to have racial overtones in this country to stand for law and order?


REID: I mean, you were not even alive when all of this was happening (INAUDIBLE) but you are (INAUDIBLE). I mean, this time -- go on.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VOTO LATINO: No. So I think that this is the -- the very first time that Donald Trump descended and declared his presidency, he used the worst names that you can call a whole community, racists and criminals, and blanketed it. And he successfully then went on and said -- talked about law and order, talked about being anti-trade, talked about saying that immigrants were the problem. And these were he dusted off the Make America Great of the 1950s, 1930s, 1940s rhetoric and nothing really has changed, sadly in his -- in his current pitch.

Most presidents, when they`re going to go for re-election, they try to create policy positions and tell the American people how they`ll improve their lives. He has that opportunity given that we are teetering on Democrat economic depression that he is creating, that he has not addressed the pandemic of the COVID crisis, and that he is right now overseeing the 1960 level civil unrest. He has so many opportunities to do the right thing, and he just does not know how to.

I think part of the challenge with Trump though is that what he doesn`t recognize is that you can`t get to the White House by such a marginal base, because you have so many individuals that have come back to the Democratic Party during the midterms. I`m speaking specifically to suburban white women, who, one, wanted the healthcare, they wanted to say credit, but they also were so concerned (ph) of what was happening with children at the border and the separation of children.

Currently, Joy, under COVID, the president is separating families once again. He is asking parents to sign away they`re parental rights if they want to get their kids out of detention, and the stories goes on. And it`s one thing to demonstrate what his rhetoric is, Joy, but we just have to look at his anti-immigrant, anti-people of color policies to know where he really stands.

The policing task force that President Obama put together to talk about police brutality, to talk about changing the culture, the need to make sure that we are resetting, because we knew that there was a problem, one of the first things he did when he took office was zero that program out. He let all of these police departments and communities holding a bag of empty promises. He did the exact same thing when you talk about immigration reform. He had a huge defeat with DACA last week, so what did he do on Monday? He`s trying to rescind immigration visas once again.

So this is what he knows. And the 2020 election is going to be based on two things, one, the world view of Donald Trump, of us versus them, versus Biden having to come back to this idea of coalition building, that we are stronger together, that we are Americans of all shades, and all, you know, of all religious preferences. And that is what makes us strong. And that is where I don`t think that Donald Trump has the ability to pivot, but that is where we are.

But we do know that he has sent out three trial balloons. He`s trying to figure out, what he`s afraid of, was, if you listen to the first rally and then yesterday too, he laid out three things that he`s really afraid of. He`s still afraid of kids in cages. He tried to connect that on Obama. He`s very much afraid of COVID. He tried to paint that on the Chinese. And then he`s really, really afraid of unemployment, and he`s keep saying, we will go ahead and bring unemployment back, don`t worry about it, come September.

REID: Yes, and, you know, Anthony, the challenge that Donald Trump has right now is that if he`s trying to play the role of George Wallace, George Wallace was not the incumbent. George Wallace was challenging the incumbent, and saying the incumbent was failing and causing chaos. Donald Trump is the one presiding over chaos. So -- and meanwhile, he`s running against what he pretended to be a regular guy.

Adam Silver Serwer had a brilliant piece at The Atlantic, I think everyone should read, and he talks about the fact that Trump is struggling because he`s running against a white guy. So it`s becoming clear that after 12 years of feasting on white identity politics, Adam writes, with a black man and a woman as its preeminent villains, the Republican Party is struggling to run its Obama culture war playbook against an old moderate white guy.

Here is an ad that I want to show you. This is from Unite the Country PAC, and this is talking about Joe Biden.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 2020 economic crash. We`ve been through this before. Then Vice President Joe Biden oversaw the 2009 American Recovery Act. 14 million jobs created, the auto industry rescued, the longest sustained job growth in American history, with 6 million kicked out of poverty in less than 1 percent waste. He`s done it before, he`ll do it again.


REID: I mean, it doesn`t really work if you`re trying to pretend to be -- you`re playing the role of George Wallace, but you`re the incumbent, Anthony.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, it`s like if Roy Cohn had a baby with George Wallace, it would be Donald Trump. This has only got into the White House. So -- but I think the president is making a big mistake. He`s actually George Wallace of 1963, Joy. And that`s the George Wallace that was embarrassed by the Kennedys when the National Guard came to the University of Alabama to enforce civil rights.

And so what`s happening right now, the three or four of us and many others around America, there`s a beautiful, colorful mosaic of Americans that are going to come together and defeat him because he is the tyranny of the minority right now.

And as a Republican, what I need to do is go into those precincts and explain to those Republicans, who are moderate, that he is the wrong person for America, that he is systemically dangerous to our civilized system. And we`re going to do that, he`s going to lose, but we can`t let our guard down given those poll numbers. Do not be complacent out there. He was behind Secretary Clinton by 15 points in June of 2016, he and went on and won the election. So we cannot be complacent, we have to dig in right here, right now until the end.

REID: And, you know, Ayesha, I`m sure that the White House is not complacent to they`re campaign, it`s like they`re throwing everything they can at the election, except that none of it is actually working at the moment. If you look at these polls, just going to state polls, Ohio, Biden is up by one point and Trump won that by eight points in 2016. Wisconsin, Biden is up 49-41 in the Marquette poll. In Texas, a state that is supposed to eventually become a purple state, but it isn`t yet, Trump 44, Biden 43.

You even look at how well progressives are doing in states like Kentucky. I interviewed Charles Booker earlier today on this network. He is, you know, in a good shape to win that primary, and he`s the more progressive of the two candidates. This is an issue.

Do Republicans on the hill understand that Donald Trump could wind up being a drag on their ability to hold the Senate?

RASCOE: I think at this point, they know that -- Republicans on the Hill know that they`re tied to Donald Trump. They`re tied to President Trump, and his fate is going to be their fate. And you`ve seen some of this where President Trump has kind of put out a warning to the Hill in other interviews saying, look, don`t be cool on me, don`t try to distance yourself from me, because my base is strong. You need me and you better stick with me.

So I think right now, that, I mean, their fates are definitely tied. And it is early. We have to say it is still June. There is a lot that can happen between now and then. And he still does have a strong base. But these polls will be worrying to any campaign, and particularly to an incumbent who had an economy, had all these things and now just can`t seem to get the winds that they want to put up. They can`t get the full rallies. They can`t do things that they were doing before.

REID: Well, he has a strong base, but it`s in the 40s and he needs to be 50, you know, it`s 50 plus one to win. But we shall see what happens. Ayesha Rascoe, Anthony Scaramucci, Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you guys very much. I appreciate you all.

And Donald Trump -- meanwhile, Donald Trump`s coronavirus denial, saying it`s going away, as cases in the U.S. hit a record, daily total of over 36,000.

Plus, the former lead prosecutor in the Roger Stone case testifies on the political pressure to go easy on Trump`s friends.


AARON ZELINSKY, ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: What I saw is that Roger Stone was being treated differently from every other defendant. He received breaks that are, in my experience, unheard of.

REID: That on the same day that another of Trump`s pals, Michael Flynn, receives a very favorable decision from a Trump-appointed judge.

Much more ahead. Stay with us.



TRUMP: We`re doing so well after the plague, it`s going away.

LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: And just for the record that a lot of people don`t want to report this, the reality is we`ve had huge declines in the case rate, okay?

MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Every day, we`re one day closer to putting the coronavirus in the past. That`s what leadership looks like. That`s the leadership of President Donald Trump.


REID: No, none of that is true. Welcome back.

As Donald Trump and his administration tried to turn the page from the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. recorded its highest daily one-day total with more than 36,000 new coronavirus cases. Hospitalizations and caseloads hit record highs in roughly half a dozen states.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott told local media the state is facing a massive outbreak. Yesterday, Arizona reported a record high in new cases, as Donald Trump visited a mega church in phoenix, with limited coronavirus precautions.

Also yesterday, members of the White House coronavirus task force had a very different message than the people they work for. Take a look.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: In some respects, we`ve done very well. However, in other areas of the country, we`re now seeing a disturbing surge of infections that looks like it`s a combination, but one of the things is an increase in community spread. And that`s something that I`m really quite concerned about.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: We`ve all done the best that we can do to tackle this virus, and the reality is that it brought this nation to its knees.


REID: Meanwhile, as cases skyrocket in the Sun Belt, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced a plan to impose a quarantine on visitors from states with big outbreaks.

And for more, I`m joined by Florida Congresswoman, Donna Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton Administration, and Dr. Leana Wen, Emergency Physician and Public Health Professor at George Washington University. Thank you both for being here.

And, Congresswoman Shalala, I want to play your governor, Ron DeSantis, and a trio of comments that he made, including today, about the Coronavirus outbreak. Take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Ultimately, we have got to trust people to make good decisions.

We`re not shutting down. You know, we`re going to go forward. We`re going to continue to protect the most vulnerable.

Go look at New York and what New York had. That`s a spike. So, to say that there`s a spike, there`s just never been a spike in Florida. It`s been, you know, relatively -- relatively modest.


REID: So June 11, June 16, and today. Those are his three sets of comments.

Congresswoman, is the governor of Florida taking good care of the people of Florida when it comes to COVID-19?

REP. DONNA SHALALA (D-FL): Absolutely not.

And he`s going to be responsible for people dying because of his failed leadership. I mean, I don`t know what he`s talking about. Today, we have the biggest number that we have ever had, 5,500 people. That`s the biggest -- that`s the biggest number we have had in Florida on a daily basis.

This is shocking. Both the governor, under pressure, I assume, from the business community, as well as the president, who he`s also following, are going to be responsible for thousands of deaths in this country because of their failed leadership.

We should have hit this with a hammer from the beginning, starved the virus, then done contact tracing. And leadership would have had everybody with a mask on. Now, in South Florida, the mayors have taken hold and have said everybody has to wear a mask when they go out. Unless they`re doing vigorous exercising, they have got to be wearing a mask.

We should have been doing that months ago, literally. This is tragic. And it`s a total failure of leadership.


REID: You know, and, Dr. Wen, we are seeing all of these videos, including some out of Florida, of people refusing to go wear a mask, then people resisting it on a political basis or an ideological basis.

And as the congresswoman mentioned, "The Tampa Bay Times" has a piece out talking about the 5,511 cases, as weekly death rates are averaging upward. And here`s a bit from it. Florida has been tracking coronavirus cases for nearly four months, but about 27 percent of all infections have come in just the past seven days. Wednesday was the ninth consecutive day with a new caseload above 2,000 and the 16th day now above 1,000.

Florida is now one of those states that New York is saying, you need to quarantine if you come from there.

Given Florida`s population size, which is extremely large, and given the fact that it`s got the most elderly population in the country, what are we talking about in terms of potential risks? Because New York, obviously, had a huge outbreak. Are we looking at something on that scale, potentially, in the state of Florida?

DR. LEANA WEN, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: We are, and not only in Florida, but in multiple other states.

I`m also looking at Texas, at Arizona, Alabama, the Carolinas, and others that are seeing not only a rise in the number of cases, but also a rise in the positivity rates, which is very concerning. It means that we`re not even testing all of those individuals who have the infection.

And we`re seeing a rise in hospitalizations. Seven states today have set a record in terms of the number of hospitalizations. And there are now reports coming out from multiple states, including in Arizona, where the ICUs are already nearing capacity. In Arizona overall, 88 percent of ICU beds are already full.

And these -- this is the same pattern, actually, that we saw in New York, in the New York area, prior to the huge spike. And, unfortunately, in New York, they were actually able to contain the virus by imposing strict shelter-in-place orders.

But I can`t imagine that we would be willing to do that in so many other states. And the unfortunate thing about all of this is, we could have prevented it. We could have done the testing, tracing, isolation, and we could have reopened more safely.

But we have not. And now people are suffering the consequences.

REID: And, Congresswoman, I have lived in Florida for a long time.

Is Jackson Memorial Hospital, the bigger hospitals that take a lot of public patients, since Florida didn`t expand the Medicaid -- expand Medicaid, are the hospitals in Florida ready for a huge outbreak on the level that New York had in the earliest days?


We`re used to expansion in hospitals in South Florida because of hurricanes. And we do have plans for that. But if we`re going into the scale of New York, we`re going to be overwhelmed. And it was -- I just can`t keep repeating, it was unnecessary. It didn`t have to happen.

If we had proper leadership, both at the national and at the state level, we could have clearly contained this, at least to a smaller number.

REID: Yes.

Well, congratulations to the United States. We now join countries like Russia and Brazil that are now restricted in entering the European union, because we have not contained the coronavirus outbreak. It`s quite a place to be.

Congresswoman Donna Shalala, Dr. Leana Wen, thank you both very much.

And coming up: Attorney General William Barr is set to testify next month before the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee. He is sure to face some pointed questions about the prosecutions of Trump allies, of Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.

And we will bring you the latest on those prosecutorial debacles next.


REID: Welcome back.

On Capitol Hill today, there was some dramatic testimony about the politicization of the Justice Department under Donald Trump and his Attorney General William Barr.

Two Justice Department whistle-blowers testified that Barr and other Trump appointees exerted pressure to go easy on the president`s close associate Roger Stone.


AARON ZELINSKY, FORMER ROGER STONE PROSECUTOR: In the United States of America, we do not prosecute people based on politics, and we don`t cut them a break based on politics either.

But that wasn`t what happened here. And what I heard repeatedly was that this leniency was happening because of Stone`s relationship to the president, that the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia was receiving heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice, and that his instructions to us were based on political considerations.

And I was told that the acting U.S. attorney was giving Stone a break because he was afraid of the president of the United States.


REID: Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Zelinsky was one of the four prosecutors who quit the Stone case back in February, after the Justice Department decided to downplay Stone`s criminal conduct, and reduce his recommended sentence.


ZELINSKY: What I saw was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from every other defendant.

He received breaks that are, in my experience, unheard of, and all the more so for a defendant in his circumstances, a defendant who lied to Congress, who remained unrepentant, and who made threats against a judge and a witness in his case.


REID: The Justice Department responded to Zelinsky`s allegations in a statement, saying that -- quote -- "Mr. Zelinsky`s allegations concerning the U.S. attorney`s motivation are based on his own interpretation of events and hearsay, not firsthand knowledge" -- unquote.

As you may recall, Stone was sentenced to more than three years in prison for lying to Congress about his contacts with WikiLeaks in regard to the release of the Russian-hacked Clinton campaign e-mails.

And the Stone investigation is just part of a long pattern of William Barr putting politics ahead of justice.

And that is next.



REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): Mr. Barr`s actions made clear that, in his Department of Justice, the president`s allies get special treatment. The president`s enemies, real and imagined, are targeted for extra scrutiny, and the needs of the American people and the needs of justice are generally ignored.


REID: Welcome back.

Well, that was House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler`s stinging indictment of Attorney General William Barr. Instead of giving the country`s chief law enforcement -- instead of being the country`s chief law enforcement officer, Barr`s conduct frequently makes it seem like he`s Donald Trump`s personal lawyer.

Former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer, who served under President George Herbert Walker Bush, outlined why he believes Barr is using the DOJ to advance Trump`s political interests.


DONALD AYER, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I was privileged to serve in the Department of Justice under two Republican and one Democratic president, and I am here because I believe that William Barr poses the greatest threat in my lifetime to our rule of law and to public trust in it.

That is because he does not believe in its core principle, that no person is above the law. He has regularly undermined the authority of independent decision-making processes and career professionals, whose disinterested integrity Levy (ph) saw as a key element justifying public trust.

He has done this by his own statements, such as last March, when he publicly whitewashed the Mueller report`s extensive findings on obstruction of justice, and last December, when he publicly contradicted key conclusions reached by Inspector General Horowitz in his FBI election interference probe.


REID: The House Judiciary Committee will have a chance to question Barr directly when he testifies late next month.

And for more, I`m joined by Cynthia Alksne, a former federal prosecutor, and David Frum, senior editor at "The Atlantic."

And, Cynthia, I want to go to you on this first.

Here`s an interview that William Barr gave back in February. And this was just after the Department of Justice overruled the recommendations by career prosecutors that Roger Stone needed to spend seven to nine years in prison. And here he is:


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: The president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case. I am responsible for everything that happens in the department. But the thing I have most responsibility for are the issues that are brought to me for decision.

And I will make those decisions based on what I think is the right thing to do. And I`m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody.

And I say, whether Congress, newspaper editorial boards, or the president. I`m going to do what I think is right.



REID: It`s ironic what he seems to think is right is whatever Donald Trump needs and whatever Donald Trump`s friends would need to keep them out of prison or keep them not in trouble.

I mean, it seems to me that what he said back in February was what one might call horse pucky.

Your thoughts on what it is that William Barr seems to be up to?

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, you don`t have to have a conversation with Donald Trump to know what he wants. I mean, I know what he wants, and I have never talked to the man in my life.

(AUDIO GAP) because he has a running dialogue on (AUDIO GAP). So that`s not much of a defense for me.

I sort of have two thoughts about today. First of all, it does show how cavalier they are. They`re so sure, Barr is so sure that he is above any oversight, that he`s actually kind of cavalier about the corruption.

This line attorney -- line attorneys don`t know get to know important things, like the president and the attorney general are pressuring for a certain sentencing guideline. And yet the chief of the fraud and public corruption section at the Department of Justice -- I mean -- I`m sorry -- at the attorney`s office -- apparently told him that.

And there`s there`s a certain confidence about, we`re above everything, in order for that to be communicated the level of the line attorney. And I`m sure that that chief is now getting a subpoena.

But let me just say one other thing about the Stone case. And that is, on some level, forget about it, because the president is going to pardon him anyway. And I think we see that, but the damage of the Stone case is what really is important, the damage to the people`s perception that, when they go to a courtroom, they get a fair shake.

That`s so fundamental to our criminal justice system. And it`s challenged in so many ways, I mean, not only just in police cases and policing and sentencing and the imposition of the death penalty and all kinds of things. And now add this, and it just is undermining and so rips the fabric of our country.

And that`s why it`s more important than Roger Stone and him going to jail, because let`s just face it. He`s not going to jail.

REID: Yes.

I mean, and the Michael Flynn case, obviously, is even more -- well, I mean, I don`t know which one is worse. I mean, Michael Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI, and now he`s gotten to skate, thanks to a Donald Trump judge, which is why people need to vote for the United States Senate, because the Senate decides who the judges are.

But I have to ask, David, what is surprising about this, honestly? I mean, back during the George Herbert Walker Bush era, William Safire called Mr. Barr the -- that he was the cover-up general, that he assisted in undermining the prosecutions that Lawrence Walsh tried to bring in Iran- Contra. He suggested pardons.

He`s been this guy since Mr. Ayer worked with him. And so I wonder what`s happening among Republicans. Are they rediscovering that Mr. Barr is exactly who he was under George Herbert Walker Bush, under George W. Bush I presume because the unitary executive?

I didn`t see him jump up saying Dick Cheney shouldn`t have a unitary executive theory. He agreed with it then.

What is different about him now that is so surprising to so many people?

DAVID FRUM, THE ATLANTIC SENIOR EDITOR: For me, the best guidance about the whole Trump Justice Department was imparted to me before there was a Trump Justice Department, on a reporting visit to Hungary early in 2016. And a wise observer of the Hungarian dictatorship explained to me how Viktor Orban worked.

Hungary is a member of the European Union, a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights, you can`t just shoot people in the street. This observer said in a state like Hungary, in a modern rule of law bureaucratic state, the most important power of people who would abuse justice is not the power to persecute the innocent, it`s the power to protect the guilty.

So, in Hungary, what would happen is you`d have two restaurants, both of which had some health and safety violations. One was owned by a friend of the president, or the prime minister, and one was not. One was owned by an opponent. For the opponent, there would be the law. For the friend, there would be the special favor.

That has been the way the Trump Justice Department has worked. President Trump has called for persecutions of his opponents. By and large, he`s been unsuccessful. But what he`s got, and especially often Barr, are -- is impunity for his friends, for (AUDIO GAP) the people under investigation in the Mueller report. He got the destruction from -- he got the cover-up and the suppression of the Mueller report and he got redactions that were very much not driven by the need to protect national security but driven by the need to protect secrets that were embarrassing to the president.

REID: But I guess my question is, isn`t that also what, you know, George Bush, Sr. got from the same guy? William Barr has been doing this since the late 1980s, getting -- making sure that the president`s friends, that friends of Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush would not get in trouble, would not go down in Iran Contra. This is his career. This isn`t some new thing he`s doing, it`s what he does.

FRUMP: Well, this is the new -- this is a new thing in the history of the United States. Look, because it`s not Barr alone. Barr alone could not do this. Barr has associates. People are being promoted.

We have seen attempts to change who holds U.S. attorneys offices. Look what happened in Washington, D.C. President Trump had an independent Washington, D.C. U.S. attorney, Jessie Liu, in order to get her out of time, Barr and Trump held out to Attorney Liu, the promise of a promotion, an important job at the Treasury. She then resigned, and the moment that resignation was in hand, they yanked away that promotion.

They tried that same trick to Geoffrey Berman. They offered him, maybe you`d like to be head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. All you have to do is resign. He didn`t do it, because he had seen before that the promise had been yanked away.

So there is some -- a new and more coordinated strategy to get control of the U.S. attorney`s offices, and to use them to protect Trump`s friends and maybe some day -President Trump himself.

REID: And very quickly, before we go, Cynthia Alksne. You know, as he does just do whatever it is that he thinks Donald Trump wants, and he just assumes he knows what he wants, Donald Trump has said very clearly, he would like his former national security adviser, long-time Republican donor and friend, John Bolton, to go to prison.

Do you see that William Barr has it in him to do that for Donald Trump?

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No, I do not. And let me tell you something, I think everybody is disheartened by the Flynn dismissal, Davis today to dismiss the Flynn case. That is not over. It very well may be heard by a court of appeals. And I would suggest that finally Sullivan is going to get that hearing, because it`s a very unusual opinion.

REID: Yes.

ALKSNE: And not to give up hope, we`re still going to get that information.

REID: All right. We shall see.

Cynthia Alksne, David Frum, thank you both very much.

And coming up, the Republican`s police reform bill is blocked by Democrats who describe it as toothless. At this point, is the best chance for meaningful reform out of Washington a new Senate?

Stay with us.


REID: Welcome back.

After weeks of demonstrations, taking to the streets, crying out for action on police reform in this country, that momentum came to a standstill in the U.S. Senate today. Democrats blocked a vote to consider the Republican- backed proposal this afternoon by a vote of 55-45.

After the vote, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted the Republicans` proposal as lacking substance.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The Senate Democrats just sent a very clear signal that the Senate Republican Justice Act lacks the substance and the strong, desperately needed reforms to stop police brutality against black Americans. This bill lost because it was woefully inadequate. It never would have passed, and McConnell provided no path to improve it.

So it was going to lose. The minute he put it together, and the more cynical among us would say that`s why he did it.


REID: Meanwhile, the House plans to vote in a sweeping Democratic proposal tomorrow that includes a ban on chokeholds, on no-knock warrants in drug cases, and changes to qualified immunity for police officers, items that were not included in the Republican proposal.

And joining me now is Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

And, Senator, thank you so much for being here.

I just want to put up on the screen for our viewers what was in the GOP versus Democratic bills and why the Democrats said the Republican bill was inadequate.

The ban on the chokeholds, that`s in the Democratic bill, not in the Republican bill. Tracking police misconduct, a national registry, is in the Democratic bill, a state registry is in the Republican bill.

The federal civil rights law that would be amended by Democrats would not be amended by Republicans. The changes in qualified immunity, not in the Republican bill. A ban on no-knock warrants, no -- not in the Republican bill, et cetera. They`re just saying collect state data, more data, more data, more data.

And I want to note that today charges were -- I mean, an officer was fired. There haven`t been charges in the Breonna Taylor case, but here`s what the Breonna Taylor case reporting said. This is from the "A.P."

The termination letter was sent to Officer Brett Hankison. So, Hankinson violated procedures by showing extreme indifference to the value of human life when he wantonly and blindly shot 10 rounds of gunfire into Taylor`s apartment in March.

The letter said Hankison fired the rounds without supporting facts that the deadly force was directed at a person that posed no imminent threat.

Have Republicans explained why they oppose getting rid of the kind of no- knock warrant that caused Breonna Taylor to be killed in her bed, killed while she`s literally in bed?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): They failed to explain why they have no ban on no-knock warrants, why there is no ban on chokeholds, why there is no ban on racial profiling, why there is no standard use of force and why, as you said, there is no reform of qualified immunity, and Section 242 criminal prosecution, a change in the standard from willfully to reckless disregard, which is essential to deterrence.

If you look at the Minneapolis police officer as he put his knee on George Floyd`s neck for eight and a half minutes, he looks with utter impunity into the camera knowing that he would never be charged or prosecuted. And under the standard now, there is going to be a challenge to do it.

But there is no explanation for why there is a complete lack of real accountability, real reform with real teeth in that Republican bill.

I think Mitch McConnell, frankly, was just looking for a partisan talking point. He knew what the outcome was going to be. He knew that Republicans and Democrats was split along partisan lines.

But there is a path forward, and I know from my Republican colleagues that some of them want some real action here.

REID: And is it going to be better for Democrats to just wait out until the next Senate, hoping that Democrats retake the Senate and there is a more favorable environment to maybe take up the House bill that`s currently worked its way into the House?

BLUMENTHAL: This issue is too important to wait, number one. The people who are marching in the streets want real action. I have been with them at probably 15 of the demonstrations in Connecticut. So powerful and so passionate but peaceful.

And the House tomorrow will pass a real bill. The Congressional Black Caucus called the Senate Republican bill a fake, watered down reform. The congressional -- the leadership conference called it menial.

The fact is the Senate can act, and we must act now. Time is not on our side because more African-Americans and people of color will fall prey to these abusive police tactics.

REID: We do know that now the three suspects in the Ahmaud Arbery killing have now been charged. The grand jury has charged them all with murder and malice.

On the idea of passing an anti-lynching law, a lot of people saw that as a lynching on tape, it doesn`t seem that Republicans are interested in doing any of that. Is the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee prepared to spend some money advertising aggressively against the senators who refused to pass real reform? And that includes Mitch McConnell.

BLUMENTHAL: Joy, my great Democratic colleague, Kamala Harris, has said we are in the midst of a movement, not a moment. We have to regard it as a political movement and do whatever is necessary to make the American people aware that there must be accountability.

There must be accountability for law enforcement, and there also has to be political accountability for Republicans who are unwilling to take a stand. And going back to your first question, there is no justifiable explanation for delay or diluting what needs to be done. We know what is necessary, and we can do it if we come together through the Judiciary Committee as we do with a lot of bipartisan legislation. There is a path forward.

REID: Well, we hope to see what you all do. And there are a lot of seats up, especially a lot of Southern seats where some money could be spent to make that message very clear in the states. We will keep an eye on it.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you very much, sir. Really appreciate your time.

And up next, this Friday, I`m hosting a special event with members of the Congressional Black Caucus on police reform, and we want to hear from you.

That is next.


REID: What happened in the United States Senate today was that we saw the very stark difference between talking about a problem and doing something about it. One party, in this case the Democrats, has legislative answers in mind to address the theory of a majority of Americans about police brutality, racial profiling and, yes, police abuse and killing predominantly of black, brown and indigenous people.

On the other side, the Republicans have talked. Mitch McConnell and his senators, including Tim Scott of South Carolina, have done a lot of talking. But what they have actually offered was studies and grants -- oh, yes, and more far right wing overwhelmingly white male judges. Stacking the courts for the far right is the only action they`re willing to take.

That`s not what America or this moment are demanding. Several Republican talkers, including McConnell, Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, et cetera, et cetera, are on the ballot in November, and they may discover that when you`re all talk, particularly at a time when the country in so many ways is crying out for change, you could wind out talking yourself out of a job.

And speaking of this moment of reckoning in America, please join me Friday night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern for a special town hall event. We`re calling it the road to reform, and my guest for the full hour will be members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chairwoman Karen Bass, Congresswoman Val Demings, and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. And the best part is you are asking the questions. So, if you want to participate in the town hall, please go to, and you can submit your questions about police reform. We want to get as many of them in as possible so that we can get to them.

Thank you so much for being with us. Don`t go anywhere because "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" is up next.


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight on "ALL IN," American failure. Think he was kidding now? Trump pulls funding for testing as the coronavirus explodes in states like Texas and Florida, and the national curve reaches new heights.