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President Trump TRANSCRIPT: 8/6/20, MTP Daily

Guests: Alex Padilla, Michael Waldman

KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to Thursday. It is MEET THE PRESS DAILY. I`m  Katy Tur in for Chuck Todd. Nearly 160,000 Americans have died from  coronavirus. People in this country are dying at a rate of 1,000 a day.  Another 1 million Americans have now lost their jobs. And key unemployment  benefits have expired. Neither Congress nor the White House can agree on a  relief package. Negotiators are meeting again right now for basically the  10th time. 

Cases while declining nationally remain at levels Dr. Fauci calls  unacceptable. Dr. Deborah Birx says privately sounding the alarm with state  and local officials and Ohio`s Republican Governor today tested positive as  he was about to meet with President Trump who is striking an increasingly  desperate tone.

With 89 days until the election and early voting just weeks away in some  states, there is simply no way to sugar coat the full extent of the  political crisis that is facing this White House. 

Our first NBC news battleground map of 2020 has President Trump right now  headed toward a significant defeat. We are going to have much more on this  coming up with, who else, but Steve Kornacki at the big board.

Right now, though, President Trump appears to be looking for any Hail Mary  that he can find whether it`s claims of a rigged election or warnings of  violent bloodshed. The end of the suburbs or socialist indoctrination of  your children. 

Today in Ohio he told crowds that his opponent Joe Biden is against God.  Facebook and Twitter have removed his post for spreading coronavirus  misinformation, specifically his claim that children are immune.

Also, today, President Trump suggested a vaccine could be available, you  guessed it, by Election Day. Even though a number of health experts say the  most optimistic scenario, this is the most optic -- optimistic scenario  possible is to have a vaccine widely available next year. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEW ROAMING CORRESPONDENT: So, what`s the earliest we  could see that, a vaccine? 

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

RIVERA: Sooner than November 3rd? 

TRUMP: Oh, I think in some cases, yes. Possibly before but right around  that time. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said a vaccine could be ready around November 3rd.  Are you optimistic that that will happen? And will that give you a boost on  the Election Day? 

TRUMP: On the vaccine? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. 

TRUMP: I am. I`m optimistic that it will be probably around that date. I  believe we`ll have the vaccine before the end of the year certainly but  around that date, yes. I think so. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, would that give you a boost in the  election? Would that help you in the election? 

TRUMP: It wouldn`t hurt. It wouldn`t hurt but I`m not doing that, I`m doing  it not for the election. I want it fast because I want to save a lot of  lives. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

TUR: Joining me now from New Jersey where President Trump will be shortly  after visiting Ohio is my NBC news colleague Kelly O`Donnell. Also, with us  is Phil Rucker, White House bureau chief for the Washington Post and an  MSNBC political analyst. And Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious disease  physician and a MSNBC medical contributor. 

Kelly, the president when he does travel is largely traveling to states  that he needs to win in November. Today one of those states was Ohio. Was  this anything more than a campaign stop? 

KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Katy, as you  know there are times where they align an official event and campaign stops  like fundraising tonight in Ohio and it gives the appearance of being  government business and a president visiting a state and speaking on behalf  of all the people, but the president`s also able to use it as a way to get  his campaign message. 

Remember, in states that are those key battleground, Ohio is the example  today, there`s a lot of local coverage, there are a lot of opportunities  for the president to be seen in the community and those are things that any  campaign views as valuable currency. So, the president more than past  presidents tends to blur the line between the official event and the  campaign event. 

So he uses what is a White House taxpayer funded setting and more and more  we see him talking about themes that are really very much from his campaign  side. Now, obviously the rallies are gone due to COVID, other kinds of  retail campaign opportunities have dissolved because of the pandemic. So  the president is fusing all of that together to try to get the most punch  out of his official visits. 

And so typically if it were just campaign business, the campaign would pay  for the airplane, would pay for all of the different thing that go along  with setting up an official visit or a campaign visit. In this case  taxpayers get the bill, and this is a way for the president to try to talk  about the things that matter to him. He likes to have that optimistic,  cheerleader for America persona that you talked about. 

Some of that sometimes trampling right beyond the bounds of what is factual  in order to try to push those ideas like we have seen him moving up the  timeline on a potential vaccine when the scientists are saying early 2021,  that could conceivably be in for him a second term or for Joe Biden a first  term depending on the outcome. 

The president`s moving that timeline up saying it could be much before the  end of the year. Now it may be the case to identify by that point some of  the promising medicines that are in the works right now. But to disseminate  and to have a system to distribute that would be much tougher to do so the  president trying to do that in order to make the vaccines a deliverable  potentially that he could claim for campaign benefit. Katy, Chuck? 

TUR: I remember mail-in ballots are starting to go out soon so, it`s not  just something that would be decided on Election Day. People could be using  that as hope when they mail in their ballots. Phil, let`s talk about these  claims. Vaccine by Election Day. Children are immune so don`t worry about  sending your kids to school.

Joe Biden is against God. It looks as if the president of the United States  is desperate right now, especially when you put it up against the polling  that is out there. From your reporting, how desperate is this campaign?  And, I mean, perhaps maybe they`re not desperate at all. What are you  hearing? 

PHILIP RUCKER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, THE  WASHINGTON POST: Well, the president is incredibly desperate to try to turn  the dynamics of this race in his favor to find a way to generate fresh  momentum in his bid against Joe Biden. And one of the ways he is doing that  is by talking about a vaccine. We hear in these regular coronavirus  briefings that he`s been having. He`ll talk about how optimistic he is  about a vaccine. 

Of course, the news today being that he thinks a timeline could be in early  November. You know that conflicts with what we`re hearing from medical  professionals and we should also keep in mind that having a vaccine is not  like flipping a switch. It is not like one day it`s discovered and all of  the sudden all, you know, 300 odd million Americans are cured from the  coronavirus. 

There`s a process underway to get that vaccine produced, to get it  distributed to the masses. Get it tested and so forth. So, it could be a  very long time. But the president has shown himself these last few months  to be prone to magical thinking. You know, first he thought the  hydroxychloroquine anti-malarial drug is going to be a cure-all, but  science prove him wrong. 

TUR: Yes. 

RUCKER: Now, he`s touting a vaccine and it`s all an effort according to our  reporting to give people something to hope for and to give people some  positive impression of the way that this administration is managing the  crisis. 

TUR: But what about the way he`s trying to characterize and even run  against Joe Biden? Today saying that he is against God. Where is that  coming from? 

RUCKER: Katy, I don`t know. I mean, Joe Biden is a catholic, a devout  catholic. He`s talked publicly repeatedly about how his catholic faith had  helped him get through the untimely death of his first wife, the death of  his young daughter, the death more recently of his adult son. This is a man  who lives his faith. 

Trump, I don`t know what inspired him to say that Joe Biden is against God.  I don`t know how one can actually be against God but I think it speaks to  the effort by Trump and his campaign to find something that they can use to  weaponized against Biden because so many of the attacks they have tried  against Biden the last several months have really not worked. 

TUR: Sleepy claim isn`t working. The cognitive test hasn`t been working  according to the polling. Dr. Bhadelia, let`s talk about the virus and  where we stand with the death toll and the spread. The very latest IHME  model says as many as 300,000 Americans could die from this by the  beginning of December.

And they also say that if mask wearing was universal that 70,000 lives  could be saved and that video we just showed a moment ago, the president is  walking up to the podium. 

You can see people weren`t socially distanced. It`s hard to tell if they  are wearing masks, because we are just looking at the back of their heads  but these projections, I mean, they`re not good. And to say that we could  save that many lives by just wearing masks seems like it`s an easy thing to  get behind. 

NAHID BHADELIA, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Katy, you know, just  weaving everything together, whether the president says this will go away  or if he gets his false hope of a vaccine that might be available. The  function that that serves is basically telling people, hey, business as  usual. You don`t need to change your behavior, or you don`t need to do  anything as Americans while in the middle of this pandemic and the truth is  the exact opposite. 

As you said, I mean, I think that what we really need in this moment is to  take on this charge and unify as Americans to really come behind this idea  that it is our responsibility.

By simple things like wearing the mask, by reducing indoor gatherings, by  staying home when we`re sick and for the government to put in the  investment, the concrete actions need to be taken to avoid actual losses of  American lives between now and December as you talked about so the myth,  the most painful myth of spreading these idea that we are in normal times  is that people are not taking the importance of these measures into  consideration. 

You know? And honestly if there`s one plea that I can make as you said, you  know, the mask, the hand washing, the physical distancing, it will have an  impact and honestly those are the only tools we currently have available to  avoid new infections because, you know, even our testing is falling behind. 

TUR: Yes. Let me ask you this. And it`s a question that we ask every single  day but it`s one that needs to be asked because the president keeps  repeating this claim that kids are immune to this virus. Be very clear.  Where do we stand on what we know about how the virus affects children? 

BHADELIA: Katy, there is not just studies but American experience now that  the fact that kids can get sick from this virus. They get infected, fewer  kids get hospitalized and get sick enough to come for medical care but they  can be hospitalized in smaller numbers.

But they carry the virus, you know, as well as adults do. We know that  older children transmit it at least as well as adults do and we know from  both summer camp experiences and it is all just this week, you know, in  Georgia, in Missouri, schools had to quarantine the entire classes or large  groups of students because students came back positive. 

And so to put this claim, again, it is just as pushed towards normalcy to  say, hey, we don`t need to do the hard work, we don`t need to drive the  community transmission down, we don`t need to make the investments to make  sure that if we do have in certain areas in-person learning that schools  don`t have to follow the same type of physical distancing or decontamination or wearing personal protective equipment such as masks. I  think all of this is hurting us in the long term. 

TUR: There seems to be certain -- sorry for interrupting. The delays get  you -- a certain level of complacency among many people on this country and  I`m just going to put up a graph, Dr. Bhadelia, something that happened in  Ohio.

One man went to church and it seems that he infected at least 91 others,  and this is just going to show you the spread. One man and we`re going to  get it on the screen just a moment, was able to infect a number of people  within the Ohio church. 

So secondary cases you can see ringed around in yellow. It`s a number of  people and then the tertiary cases, 35 cases, the tertiary cases in green.  This is one person, one super spreader going to one event linked to 91  other infections.

Is this just -- you know, a unique event, a unique experience or are we  potentially going to be already seeing this at events across the country  that we aren`t able to track yet, because we don`t have the testing  necessary or the tracking structures in place, infrastructures in place to  figure out who people are in contact with? 

BHADELIA: Well, Katy, I never assumed in my entire career, you know, doing  outbreak response that six or seven months out into this pandemic that  United States with all these resources would not yet have that capacity to  even answer that simple question that you asked.

How frequent are super spreader events? And so this call for data, the fact  that, you know, not only do we not have accurate hospitalizations in some  areas their (INAUDIBLE) are measured other measures that the death, but we  don`t have intricate data such as how many new infections come from  clusters like this? 

You know, how do we not have that? The tough part of this is as you said,  you know, so that particular Ohio case we saw to five different counties  and the studies that I saw today basically said that asymptomatic patients,  patients without symptoms carry as much virus as patients who have  symptoms.

And so, you know, I think people are looking at this as saying if I`m not  sick, that if I get sick I will (INAUDIBLE) the circumstances or the -- you  know, the impact of that. But they are not considering is that, if you get  infected even if you don`t have symptoms you will make a lasting impact on  those around you. 

TUR: Phil Rucker, one last question to you. These things are all tied  together. The economy is tied to how the virus is under control, the  president`s poll numbers at least on the coronavirus are tied to how well  the virus is under control and the economy, as well.

So does he understand the importance of getting serious about this? And  wearing a mask all the time, leading by example, beating the drum on social  distancing, on hand washing, telling everybody to take it seriously? Does  he understand that it`s in his own electoral benefit to start treating this  very seriously? 

RUCKER: Well, you are exactly right, Katy, and it has confounded some of  the president`s allies these last few months. The president hasn`t really  understood that the easiest way for him to fix all of these problems, to  fix his own political problems, but also to revive the economy and get the  schools back open is to get control of the virus. 

And he had an opportunity in the spring to do that and with the assessment  of a lot of health experts, the administration failed to putt in the  measures required to really get control of this virus which puts us in the  situation we are in right now. But you`re right, everything is connected to  that virus and if they can get those numbers down and get some control over  this all of the other pieces could potentially fall into place to the  president`s benefit. 

TUR: Phil Rucker, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia and Kelly O`Donnell, everybody thank  you very much. 

Ahead, three months out from Election Day and our first NBC News  battleground map has a lot of blue on it. Steve Kornacki is at the big  board with a closer look at the state of the race right now.

Also, later, New York State pulls out the big guns against the NRA. The  latest on the lawsuit trying to bring down the powerful group for good. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

TUR: Welcome back. As we said at the top of the show NBC News is rolling  out our first battleground map of 2020 today and it shows Joe Biden with a  commanding lead. Our map which we`re basing on public and private polling,  as well as conversations with Democratic and Republican strategist shows  Biden with a whopping 334 electoral votes.

President Trump with 125 electoral votes and 79 electoral votes in the  toss-up category. Among the states we have right now in the lean Democratic  column are Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan, all states that Donald  Trump won four years ago. 

In just a moment you`re going to hear why Biden is dominating this map  right now from some lifelong Republican voters who have become  disillusioned with their party. It`s part of our Meet the Press County to  County Project. But first, let`s go to our own Steve Kornacki at the big  board. So, Steve, explain these numbers and how we got to this point in the  electoral map or a battleground maps so far. 

STEVE KORNACKI, NBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think one way to look  at this maybe is let`s take a look at where it landed in 2016, whereas of  right now we think things have changed. Of course, this was the 2016 map.  Remember Trump with 306 electoral votes, 232 for Hillary Clinton. So, this  is where it landed. Now, I`m going to show you what the NBC news map looks  like right now. 

By the way, some of these states are lean Biden or lean Trump. We`re going  to making them blue or red here so you`re not seeing the difference between  the solid and the lean. If it`s lean, we are giving it to the candidate it  is leaning to. Just for the purpose of showing you where these things  stand. And you can see that as you mentioned, we have got Biden at 334  right now. Trump only at 125. So, what are the changes? Six states here.  Six states that Trump won in 2016 that we now have leaning to the Biden  column. 

That is Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, those big three Midwest states  that Trump was the first Republican to carry in three decades. All three of  those now over the Biden side and then Arizona, Florida, North Carolina.  Six states there and also by the way there`s that one Congressional  district in Maine, the 2nd Congressional district in Maine.

Remember they give out electoral votes by district there. Trump won one of  those districts in 2016. We have that over on the Biden side. So that adds  up to a gain there of 112 electoral votes for Biden -- from 102 from where  Hillary Clinton landed in 2016. 

So, there`s these states Trump`s lost and then there`s an additional four  here, Texas, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa. And again, these were solid Trump margins  in 2016, all moving to the undecided to the tossed-up column right here.

Remember, Trump won Iowa by nearly 10 points in 2016. Eight points in Ohio.  Nine points in Texas. Five points in Georgia, all four of those states now  again not in Trump`s column or not in Biden`s column, not in Trump`s  column. We`ve got them in the tossed-up column right now. 

In additionally if you see that gray in the middle of the map, Nebraska  like Maine gives them out by Congressional district. There`s a district in  Omaha, we`ve got that as a tossup right now too, a district that Trump had  won in 2016. So, the only movement you are seeing on this map from 2016,  you know, Trump campaign has talked about Minnesota. You know, Clinton  state in `16, trying to make it a Trump state in 20. 

We`re not seeing that movement now. They`ve talked about that in Nevada, in  New Mexico, New Hampshire. They picked a number of states, you are not  seeing any movement from what where the Clinton states in `16 to Trump in  `20 but you are seeing a lot of movement on this initial map from the Trump  states in `16 either to tossup or to Biden. 

And right now, Katy, again, that`s just basically that`s what the polling  is showing. We are here all the time talking about there`s a poll in  Michigan, there`s a poll in Texas. We are going to put it all together at  this point this is what it looks like. 

TUR: Steve Kornacki, Steve, let`s try to figure out why this is. So let`s  turn now to Michigan, a state Donald Trump won four years ago but is in  jeopardy of losing this year and he`s handling of the pandemic may be one  reason. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

DASHA BURNS, NBC NEWS REPORTER: What made you go from pretty solidly for  Trump to backing away from that and now winding up more on the fence? 

JERRY STEPANOVICH, KENT COUNTY, MI VOTER: When he said that you know, well,  we`re just going to knock this right down, well, that`s not -- that ain`t  going to happen. Not with the actions that we took. He took some right  actions. I agree. Some he should have taken a lot sooner and taken a lot  more seriously. 

BURNS: What do you think he should have done differently? 

STEPANOVICH: Not made such a -- I don`t want to say a mockery. It is not  the right term but not had it so blase, blase. Like, you know, we`ll take  care of this. The bravado. The bravado would be -- that`s kind of irking me  right now at this point. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

TUR: NBC`s Dasha Burns joins us from East Grand Rapids, Michigan, in Kent  County. It`s one of the counties we are watching through Election Day in  our Meet The Press County to County Project.

So, Dasha, I find all of this conversations you have to be really  interesting and two of the big stories lately have been one the virus which  you were just talking about there with that gentleman and the other one the  president handling of racial issues in this country after the George Floyd  protests. How do you summarize what you have been hearing over the past few  months? 

BURNS: Yes. Katy, it`s so fascinating. This is why I love this project  because I have been in touch with these voters since last November. We are  coming up on our one-year anniversary here.

And Jerry, who you just heard from there, when I first met him at  (INAUDIBLE) farmer`s market in downtown and he was echoing the president`s  language on impeachment. He was calling it a witch hunt. He was very much a  Trump voter and speaking like one and since then so much has changed in all  of our lives. 

For Jerry it`s really been the pandemic but for another voter I talked to,  a mom of two, named Katey Morse, for her it`s really been that the  president`s handling of the black lives matter movement and some of this  messaging he`s using now to target suburban moms like her, this law and  order message she said is actually turning her off. She says, I`m not the  suburban housewife of the 1950s and it`s made her pretty frustrated and  offended in fact. 

And remember Trump won both Michigan and Kent County by a very narrow  margin. So, he needs to hang on to these voters here, particularly this  slice of the electorate that we`ve been following which are this moderate  Republicans.

Kent County is the hometown of Gerald Ford and its home to a lot of voters  who view themselves as moderate Gerry Ford Republicans and they feel like  they don`t really have a home in this Republican Party. 

In fact, one voter how he calls himself politically homeless. So, there are  a lot of factors at play here and of course the other big conversation is  the V.P. pick and that is going to be a big deal here as well. And could be  make or break for some of these voters. Take a listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

HAL OSTROW, KENT COUNTY, MI VOTER: I`d have a very hard time, as much as I  don`t want to vote for Trump, voting for Biden if he were to nominates  somebody or ask somebody to be his running mate who is extremely divisive. 

KATEY MORSE, KENT COUNTY, MI VOTER: I think it`s important not necessarily  to me as an individual but I think for the ticket as a whole and there`s  still, you know, people that need to go ahead and make their decision if  they`re going to vote for Trump or Biden just like, you know, that you two  gentlemen sitting here. I really like Gretchen Whitmer. 

BURNS: Jerry, do you agree with Katey? 

STEPANOVICH: No. 

MORSE: And that`s OK. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

BURNS: They fall along the spectrum, Katy and when it comes to Gretchen  Whitmer, the Governor of Michigan, we know she is still on that short list.  Katey is all for her. Hal is open and Jerry, if Biden picks her will  probably be going for Trump. Katy? 

TUR: So interesting that they would put so much stock in the V.P. pick. It  is not as if Vice President Pence is doing much of the governing. It is  Donald Trump that does the governing as it would be Joe Biden. NBC`s Dasha  Burns, thank you so much. We appreciate it. 

Ahead President Trump is railing against mail-in ballots, but California  says they are absolutely trustworthy. I`m going to talk to California`s  Secretary of State about how they are securing the vote, next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TUR: Welcome back. President Trump continues to rail against -- I`m sorry.  One hundred and sixty thousand people are dead, there is a pandemic going  on, there is an election in November, and the president is railing against  mail-in ballots.

He is railing against the expansion of mail-in voting in Nevada this  morning, this time during a radio interview with Fox News anchor Geraldo  Rivera, claiming again without evidence that mail-in ballots are -- quote - - "rigged."

But the real danger to mail-in voting in November may be coming from one of  his own appointees. In July, the postmaster general implemented dramatic  changes and cuts to the U.S. Postal Service workflow, resulting in some  pretty significant delivery delays.

And with states like Nevada and California now sending ballots to every  registered voter, there are real worries that the volume could be  overwhelming.

Joining me now to discuss California`s approach to vote by mail is  California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Mr. Secretary of State, thank  you so much. What do you say to those who might be concerned about the  volume, the number of ballots that are going to be heading the postal  service`s way and their ability not just to get them to the voters but get  those ballots back to you on time?

ALEX PADILLA, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Katy, good to see you again.  Look, it is a legitimate question and there`s good news to report, right?  Vote by mail has been around for decades, no excuse vote by mail  specifically, and California is not just the most populist state in the  nation, we have the largest electorate of any state in the nation.

Vote by mail has only increased in popularity over the last several  election cycles. In fact, more than 70 percent of the more than 20 million  registered voters in California received a mail-in ballot in the primary.

And so while we, too, are keeping an eye on funding levels for the U.S.  Postal Service overall, we have years of practice working in partnership  with local postal service leaders and representatives to ensure the timely  delivery of not just ballots to the voters but the ballots back to  counties, number one.

Number two, in California, we have a "postmark plus three" (ph) policy. So  as long as the ballot is postmarked on or before Election Day, we allow for  more time for it to be delivered and still be counted.

In fact, we are extending that delivery deadline even more for this  November, just in case all the ballots still must be postmarked before the  election.

And last but not least, in our efforts to improve transparency, you can now  sign up to track your ballot through the postal delivery system, and so  will be alerted if there`s any bottlenecks or delays.

TUR: Let me talk about the authorizing of somebody else to return your  ballot. That seems like an area that critics of this process will point to  say it`s ripe for tampering.

PADILLA: Critics when they think it doesn`t suit their agenda or their  interests, right?

So here`s what some of Trump`s friends don`t like about California. We have  empowered voters to decide for themselves how they prefer to return their  vote by mail ballot, either through the postal service, in California the  return postage is prepaid, voters can drop their ballot off at any secure  drop box anywhere in the county convenient to them over the course of the  weeks leading up to the election, or they can drop it off in person  themselves at any voting location.

And on top of that, if for some reason they get caught up with a work  schedule, a sick child, whatever the case may be, voter can decide who they  trust to return their ballot for them, who shouldn`t have any artificial  restrictions especially in the area of COVID. We should be working harder  to give voters more options for safe voting, not make it harder.

TUR: So, the president, the administration is suing Nevada for its decision  to count ballots after Election Day that are postmarked on or before  Election Day. Are you worried that you`re going to end up getting sued, as  well?

PADILLA: Katy, we have already been sued.

(LAUGHTER)

PADILLA: Both the state Republican Party and the RNC sued California for  our audacity to provide voters for more safe options to vote this November.  Only took a matter of weeks and a couple times in front of the judge for  the Republican Party to voluntarily withdraw the lawsuit.

California will not make voters choose between exercising the right to vote  and protecting their health and that of their loved ones. We are getting  ready for November. We have some work to do. I am pleased to see that many  other states across the country are following similar models.

TUR: So I have two last questions I am going to ask you both at the same  time. Number One, what do you tell voters -- how long should they give to  mail their ballot in? Should they be filling it out on Election Day or  should they be giving 10 days, 14 days to get it back on time?

And number two, I know you`re going to count them past Election Day if  they`re postmarked on the right day, how long is it going to take to count  all these ballots? When do you expect to have results?

PADILLA: I appreciate both of those questions. So, look, in California,  voters should check their ballots not in eight or nine days from today but  in 60 days from today. Ballots will begin to arrive 29 days before the  election.

My suggestion, fill it out, mail it back right away. I don`t think most  people are changing their mind as to who to vote for this November. But  according to law, your right is to be able to vote up through Election Day.  And so as long as your vote by mail ballot is postmarked on or before  Election Day, it will be counted. But the sooner, the better is our  recommendation.

And you`re right, California is notorious for taking a little bit of extra  time to finish counting the ballots first of all because of our volume, and  second because of the steps we go to ensure the integrity of the vote, the  signature checks that are required for vote by mail ballots, to post  election audits, etcetera.

So on election night, we will have a pretty good sense of the outcome of  most contests. For close contests and final results, it is going to be a  few weeks. And that`s normal. It is for a good reason. And I appreciate  your help in setting those expectations now. We may have a tense election  night, but we may not know final results for a couple weeks until after the  election. That`s simply the process at work.

TUR: Just very quickly, when it comes to your signature, it got to match  your driver`s license or your state ID, right?

PADILLA: Right. So the first thing that election officials check when the  vote by mail ballots come back is the signature on the envelope compared to  the signature on file as part of one`s voter registration record. If they  match up, the ballot is then counted, not beforehand. If they don`t match  or the voter forgot to sign the envelope, the county will attempt to reach  the voter and rectify that issue.

TUR: Look at your driver`s license and match that signature.

(LAUGHTER)

TUR: California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Thank you, sir, for coming  on. I appreciate all of your time.

And as the U.S. passes the grim milestone of 160,000 deaths, coronavirus  relief negotiations are happening right now on Capitol Hill. We have got  the latest, next.

First up, though, new developments in the Beirut warehouse explosion. At  least 135 people are confirmed dead, including one American. And now, 5,000  more are hurt. The number of people left homeless has grown to 300,000.

More than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded Tuesday, flattening  Beirut`s buildings in the downtown port. Many are now pointing the finger  at Lebanese authorities, accusing them of corruption, neglect, and  mismanagement. Newly surfaced documents show the government knew the  explosive chemicals were there but failed to act to secure them.

Other countries are stepping in to help Lebanon deal with this catastrophe.  President Emmanuel Macron of France arrived in Beirut today where he called  for an international investigation into the blast.

We`ll be right back.

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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Yes, I`m not going to speculate about the  timing. But what I do want to reassure the American people is that there is  a desire on the part of both the Democrats and the Republicans, at least  most of the Republicans, not every single one, that we get to an outcome  because the economy does need an additional boost until we get the vaccine.  Exactly when that deal comes together, I couldn`t tell you, but I think it  will at some point in the near future.

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TUR: Welcome back. That was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this  morning, highlighting one of the obstacles in the next round of coronavirus  relief.

Right now, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary  Steve Mnuchin are back on Capitol Hill for another round of negotiations  with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.  They are scrambling to reach a deal on major components of the coronavirus  bill by tomorrow. The two sides have been making incremental progress, but  they are still far apart on many key issues.

My NBC News colleague Kasie Hunt is on Capitol Hill this evening. Kasie, it  is always good to see you. Where do the negotiations stand right now? Have  they agreed on anything? Are there other sticking points and when are we  going to get a bill?

KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: It is always good to see  you, too, Katy. They just headed into this meeting a couple of minutes ago.  It started at 5:00 p.m. On the way in, Mark Meadows and Mnuchin stopped  briefly to talk to reporters. Mark Meadows in particular was focused on the  top line number for what this bill may cost in the end.

Remember, Republicans initially made an offer of 1 trillion in total aid.  Democrats are north of three trillion with their Heroes Act. Meadows  claimed that that kept going north. He said that Republicans had moved up  from 1 trillion but said that there was very little incentive to negotiate  if they couldn`t figure out that top line number.

But I think what Mitch McConnell said and the fact that he went out on TV  and said what he said signals that there is quite a bit of pressure to  actually crack a deal, even if it spends more money than some of these  Republicans are now saying is too much.

Meadows, of course, you will remember was the Tea Party congressman who was  a thorn in John Boehner`s side on a lot of these spending issues. So that  seems to be something that is complicating the talks a little bit.

But, you know, I think we can`t lose sight of the reality here, which is  all of these Americans who are waiting to find out what is going to happen  to them. They are struggling to make rent, to put food on the table, and  they are relying on that money from the federal government.

And Nancy Pelosi framed it today. She said she sees light at the end of the  tunnel on the negotiations, but that the light at the end of the tunnel  might be the oncoming train that is the virus. So that is a bit dark here.

TUR: Yes.

HUNT: But I do think the next 24 hours, Katy, are going to be critical for  these negotiations. It seems as though there is still the will to do a big  bill. It may not be done by Friday. We may see intense negotiations through  the weekend. But of course, you know, nothing is done until it`s absolutely  -- every single detail is agreed upon up here on Capitol Hill. So, we are  going to be watching it for the next couple of days, Katy.

TUR: And then it is voted on and the president signs it. Very quickly, what  about money to states, Kasie?

HUNT: So that has been one of the big sticking points. That really  contributes to the overall amount of money, the total price tag of the  bill. And Republicans have basically agreed to let states move money around  that they had already given them.

Democrats, on the other hand, want to send a lot more because there`s a lot  on the line -- cops, firefighters, teachers, people that are paid by cities  and municipalities and by state governments who are at risk if they don`t  get that money, Katy.

TUR: Kasie Hunt on Capitol Hill. Kasie, thank you very much.

And coming up next is an epic legal battle that is in the works, New York  State versus the NRA. The AG is accusing the leadership of the NRA of a lot  of corruption. Stay with us.

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LETITIA JAMES, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW YORK: They use millions upon  millions dollars from the NRA for personal use, including for lavish trips  for themselves and their families, private jets, expensive meals, and other  private travel. For these years of fraud and misconduct, we are seeking an  order to dissolve the NRA in its entirety.

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TUR: Welcome back. That was New York Attorney General Letitia James today,  announcing a lawsuit she filed to dissolve the National Rifle Association.

The lawsuit accuses NRA leadership, including its chief executive, Wayne  LaPierre, of a pattern of widespread corruption and financial fraud, and of  diverting more than $64 million from the non-profit organization for their  own benefit over a three-year period.

In response, the NRA has filed its own lawsuit, alleging the New York case  is a political hit job. NRA President Carolyn Meadows said, "This was a  baseless, premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment  freedoms it fights to defend. You could have set your watch by it. The  investigation was going to reach its crescendo as we move into the 2020  election cycle."

Michael Waldman is the president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU  Law. He is also the author of the book, "Second Amendment: A Biography."  Michael, always good to have you on.

Let us talk about the allegations in this lawsuit. That NRA statement is  not addressing what the lawsuit is alleging, what they`re charging the NRA  with, saying that it`s fraud and corruption and that the people at the top  were pocketing the organization`s money for their own benefit. It says  nothing about guns or the Second Amendment.

MICHAEL WALDMAN, PRESIDENT, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: Well, there`s an  old saying in the law that when the law is on your side, pound the law.  When it`s not, yell and pound the table. They`re making that response.

But the allegations in the lawsuit are really quite something. The NRA  would not be the first organization, but it certainly seems like one of  many that start as a cause and become a bureaucracy and end up as a rocket.

It really is a remarkable portrayal of grifting and self-dealing of Wayne  LaPierre arranging for himself a $17-million contract, in case he gets  pushed out. That`s a stimulus, if ever there was one.

Any charitable organization -- and New York State`s attorney general does  have authority over charities in New York -- would really raise questions  about whether there`s been a lot of misconduct. And it comes, as you know,  because of revelations to the internal splits in the NRA involving Oliver  North --

TUR: Yes.

WALDMAN: -- where a lot of these charges were first made public.

TUR: So, this is accusing the leadership of fraud and of pocketing this  money. Does the organization, thereby, have to be dissolved or can there be  new leadership to rectify these issues?

WALDMAN: Well, as you know, this is a civil lawsuit. It`s not a criminal  prosecution. It will get hashed out in court presumably over many months.  The suit was against the NRA and also against the leadership. It is not  necessarily going to be a surprise if the organization decides that its  interests diverge from this leadership.

And it`s conceivable that the organization could face this kind of penalty,  but that one of the possible consequences is that LaPierre and the others  are tossed out. That`s how these things go and there is a lot of litigation  and a lot of lawyers` hours ahead. 

TUR: Is this likely to be a successful lawsuit?

WALDMAN: Again, the facts of it are quite damning, and there`s no question  that both the New York and the Washington, D.C.`s attorneys general have  the authority to do this kind of thing. But it`s a very big deal, of  course, to ask for the dissolution of any organization, certainly one as  prominent as the NRA.

In a lot of ways, one of the things significant is, even before this  lawsuit, the NRA was something of a shell, so to speak, of its former self.  It was this force that struck fear in the hearts of politicians. And that  made them think if they did anything around gun regulation that they would  be struck down at the ballot box.

And in recent years, the NRA has lost of its focus, has lost the sense of  its political invincibility. And so it`s hard to know how a suit like this  will go. But in a lot of ways, the political fading from power of the NRA  had begun already.

TUR: Couldn`t they just change the name of the organization? I mean,  sometimes when a restaurant is not doing well, they`ll change the name of  the restaurant in order to boost -- to boost its sales. Could they take  this lawsuit, deal with it, and then afterwards just form another  organization that isn`t called the NRA but called something else and is  functionally the same?

WALDMAN: Well, that`s -- you know, the key fact is that there are millions  of Americans who care a great deal about their gun rights. And they are out  there. They passionately believe in this. And whether it`s through the  organization called the NRA or something else, they will continue to be a  force in politics and to be something to be reckoned with and to be part of  the national conversation.

I don`t think if the NRA goes away that that point of view goes away. And  there could be other organizations popping up with similar interests and  even similar personnel. But this kind of monolithic terrorizing effect that  the NRA had, it would be hard to replicate at least at first. And one does  have to be concerned about the timing.

TUR: Michael Waldman. Thanks so much. Sorry, we were up against a hard  deadline. Thank you very much. We will be right back.

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