ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Or Ali. I`ll take it. I`ve been called worse.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Oh, Ali.
VELSHI: Rachel, it was a remarkable interview. It`s all good. You can see these things, we work from home environment.
MADDOW: Wait, wait. I`m very sorry. I couldn`t see you. And so I didn`t know. I thought you were Lawrence tonight. I`m very, very sorry. Excuse me.
VELSHI: It`s all good. That was an interesting interview with the ambassador.
And another point, and I appreciate you did, in talking about the Deutsche Bank story. When we talk about Deutsche Bank, it could become numbing to people. They don`t really get where it fits in, but you reminded us that we have learned something that we did not know, and that is this bank that has been loaning Donald Trump money against the advice of its own people for 20 years actually got subpoenaed. This wasn`t just another investigation into why they had this cushy relationship with Donald Trump.
This bank had information subpoenaed a year ago and they had been cooperating with the district attorney, so that`s remarkable.
MADDOW: And handed it over. Yeah.
VELSHI: Yeah, there is a lot of information.
MADDOW: So much of -- yeah. We have had so much of interest in terms of fighting those subpoenas. But for us to now learn that Deutsche Bank received a subpoena, they complied and that information is in the hands of prosecutors, that`s a whole new ball game. That is something that is absolutely new with all the scandals and it is just important stuff.
Anyway. Thank you. Thank you, Ali. Good to see you.
VELSHI: I agree. Well, thank you for doing that and have yourself a great evening, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Ali.
VELSHI: Donald Trump`s coronavirus comments now come with a disclaimer. This misinformation could be harmful to your health. That`s not me talking, that`s Facebook, which rarely steps in to impose standards on Trump. But even Facebook decided that Donald Trump`s claims about children and the virus are dangerous.
Today for the first time, Facebook removed a video that Donald Trump posted saying that children are immune from coronavirus, which Facebook classified as, quote, harmful COVID misinformation.
That harmful misinformation is the cornerstone of Donald Trump`s repeated push to open schools, even though more children are testing positive for coronavirus shortly after returning to in person school. And even though a new study found, quote, higher rates of coronavirus infection amongst minority and socio economically disadvantaged children.
By the way, it`s poor children who are the most hurt by being out of school because they are least likely to have adequate technology at home to fully participate in remote learning. And Donald Trump says schools should open even without teachers.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the teachers are a different story. And if a teacher is at a certain age group, I think they shouldn`t be going in and probably they`re going to have to wait until the thing goes by. They will have to wait. It will go by.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
VELSHI: Well, we know that Donald Trump doesn`t have a plan to help schools reopen safely, and he hasn`t thought about it beyond what he thinks will help him politically, which will be to wish the pandemic away.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: My view is the schools should open. This thing is going away. It will go away like things go away.
REPORTER: Sir, you said in an interview this morning on the coronavirus, this thing is going away. It will go away like things go away. Isn`t that without of touch from reality?
TRUMP: It`s going away. No, it will go away. Things go away, absolutely. No question in my mind, it will go away.
Please, go ahead. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Now, if that sounds familiar, it`s because it is. Donald Trump has repeated a version of that lie every month since February.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It`s going to disappear. One day, it`s like a miracle. It will disappear.
It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.
This is going away.
This is going to go away without a vaccine.
It`s going away.
I said it`s going to disappear. I`ll say it again. It`s going to disappear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: All right. Thankfully, we have Dr. Fauci who today gave us this assessment of what we must now do as a country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: We had the kind of response that was not as well suited to what the dynamics of this outbreak is. What we have seen is a great disparity in how individual states, cities, et cetera, responded. As long as you have any member of society, any demographic group who is not seriously trying to get to the end game of suppressing this, it will continue to smolder and smolder and smolder. And that will be the reason why, in a non-unified way, we have plateaued at an unacceptable level.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: As of tonight, the United States has over 4.8 million confirmed cases of coronavirus. And the United States has suffered 159,215 deaths from coronavirus, with 1,401 deaths reported just today.
New cases are increasing in 12 states and Puerto Rico. New deaths are increasing in 26 states and Puerto Rico. A split picture is emerging of coronavirus in America. In some places like New York, there is a delicate lull thanks to early containment.
And yet in other states, thousands are still facing the worst of this pandemic and trapped by the politicization of science as embodied by Republican leaders and President Trump.
We`re going to discuss both sides of this tonight. Dr. Ashish Jha will tell us about New York which is currently on par with what successful European and Asian countries have done. We will also get the crucial perspective of Dr. Ivan Melendez, who brings us the devastating reality of the dire hotspot of Hidalgo County in Texas.
The population in Hidalgo County is 90 percent Hispanic or Latino. In July alone, Hidalgo reported more than 600 deaths, more than the Houston area, which is five times the size. And more than 85 percent of all coronavirus deaths in Hidalgo County have been announced since the start of July, just 36 days ago.
Joining us now, Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, and Dr. Ivan Melendez, the Hidalgo County, Texas Health Authority.
Thank you to both of you for being here.
Dr. Melendez, I`d say it is good to speak to you except every time we speak it is about tragedy. You have been trying to explain to our viewers why things are as bad as they are in Hidalgo County, much worse than other places in Texas, making up for a disproportionate number of the illnesses in Texas. What`s the situation?
DR. IVAN MELENDEZ, HIDALGO COUNTY HEALTH AUTHORITY TEXAS: The situation has numerically perhaps shine a lot of hope. However, as you know, there is a tragedy behind each number. And the reality of it is that still a vast majority of the patients are admitted to our hospitals have negative consequences. We still have a tremendous amount of deaths. We still have our hospitals that are full. Our ICUs are full.
Our numbers and deaths haven`t dramatically decreased and our utilization rates haven`t decreased. From our perspective, are things better? I think they are slightly better. But are they still extremely painful and extremely busy? Absolutely. This is far from over in Hidalgo County.
VELSHI: Let`s talk about Hidalgo County. You described it as medically sophisticated. It has 1,500 doctors, 14 hospitals. And, yet, the results, the numbers we`re talking about from Hidalgo County are worse than other border towns like Brownsville, El Paso, Corpus Christi, and Laredo. Why is that?
MELENDEZ: So if you -- that`s such a very good question. Thank you for asking it. It is one we ask ourselves almost every day.
You say, which everybody has heard, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, morbid obesity, one or two always in poverty per capita, proximity to the border, density of population distribution. You know, we have all the, I guess, the ingredients for a perfect storm.
But the real question is why is it that the most sophisticated medical communities south of San Antonio where you have an excellent hospital infrastructure, why is it when we compare ourselves to other border places like perhaps Brownsville, El Paso, close to Corpus Christi, why are our numbers worse?
I tend to believe our population was sick. Most of the people we`re seeing in the hospital, which by the way, a majority are dying at the hospital, they arrived very, very sick. And when you look at other border communities, areas close to El Paso, they`re blessed with the V.A. system at Fort Bliss, one of the largest military installations in the world.
So, their family members and the people, they have some access during regular times. Our area, unfortunately, with a 40 percent to 45 percent of under-insured population start off really sick. So by the time they arrive at the hospital, we see a continuous trend of most people getting worse and requiring more oxygen and requiring more treatments.
So I think the answer is our underlying state even compared to other border areas is probably sicker.
VELSHI: Dr. Jha, you tweeted out that you talk or you said you often talk about states that are struggling. And you`re talking about New York as a success story. To 67,000 tests a day, about 670 cases a day, 1 percent positivity rate.
This is South Korea level and it`s awesome. Transition levels so low New York can with proper precautions open schools safely. Explain to me why that`s working so well.
DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes. Ali, thank you for having me on. New York, obviously, went through an extremely difficult time in March, in April, into May.
But here`s a couple of things that they did. During that time, they really ramped up testing. They have an extraordinary capacity to do testing. And they opened up very slowly and carefully into June.
So while Arizona and Texas and Florida opened up too aggressively and far too much, New York didn`t. And New York has been much more methodical. And there has been a payoff of that.
What the payoff is we`re seeing one of the lowest number of cases per population in the country, a percent positive on tests of 1 percent puts it -- there are only a couple other states in the same level. They`re basically Vermont and Maine. But New York is outshining pretty much every other medium or large state in the country.
And when you have community transmission that low, it gives you a window to open up schools safely. You still have to work on making sure the schools have good ventilation and there is plenty of open space and all of that. It doesn`t mean you can automatically open schools. But it certainly gives you a window of opportunity that almost no other state in the country has.
VELSHI: Dr. Melendez, does any of this give you any hope? You have put pressure on own governor to say, you could see the road you were going down, not just in Texas but in Hidalgo County, in the Rio Grande Valley. Do you have some hope that after looking at these examples of things that can work, that somehow there is more help coming to you?
MELENDEZ: Thank you. We can never lose hope, so I always have hope. Those of us in this field, once we lose hope, how can we be a source of strength for our patients?
The doctor made some excellent, excellent comments and I cannot agree more. Our testing has been traditional underserved, although, it`s notably improving. Our ability to control social mobility and social isolation has been greatly hindered not only because of support from our state government but also because of our population. The average age is 29 years of age, which is an age where you`re extremely hungry to be out and about.
So the hope that I have, and let me -- let me just say that I agree 100 percent what New York did as compared to what we`re trying to do. But I agree 100 percent that even in these extremely difficult times in our country, because we`re seeing less people coming in, even though still a tremendous amount of people, because our death rates are still high but they are improving, because the state government has given us four military human resources to help us, because we have just opened up an additional treatment center and because we have had focus up to 5,000 people a day that are being tested with the assistance of the federal government -- yes, there is hope. There is absolute hope.
VELSHI: Well, we continue to wish for an improvement in your situation, Dr. Melendez. Thank you for being with us.
Dr. Jha, good to see you again. Thank you as well for joining us tonight.
Dr. Ashish Jha is with the Harvard Global Health Institute. Dr. Melendez is with the Texas Health Authority.
Coming up, tonight`s breaking news, "The New York Times" is reporting tonight that Deutsche Bank has complied with a subpoena for Donald Trump`s financial records from the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. Andrew Weissmann, a former senior member of special counsel Robert Mueller`s investigative team and Tim O`Brien will join us next.
VELSHI: We have breaking news tonight in the fight for Donald Trump`s financial records.
"The New York Times" is reporting tonight that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has subpoenaed Donald Trump`s long-time lender Deutsche Bank last year for financial records related to him and his company. Quote, a sign that their criminal investigation into Mr. Trump`s businesses practices is more wide-ranging than previously known.
Prosecutors in New York had been seeking Trump`s tax returns as part of their criminal investigation into hush money payments to women, ahead of the 2016 election. But prosecutors recently revealed in court filings that they were looking into extensive criminal conduct at the Trump Organization, including possible bank and insurance fraud.
According to "The New York Times," Deutsche Bank complied with the subpoena.
Over a period of months last year provided Mr. Vance`s office with detailed records, including financial statements and other materials that Mr. Trump had provided to the bank as he sought loans, according to two of the people familiar with the inquiry. The bank`s response to the subpoena reinforces the seriousness of the legal threat the district attorney`s investigation poses for Mr. Trump, his family and his company, end quote.
David Enrich, one of the reporters who broke the story told Rachel Maddow last hour what this could mean for Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID ENRICH, REPORTER: Talking to people inside the bank over the past couple of days, it`s clear that the bank has spent a lot of time over, you know, over the past year now really fully cooperating with the district attorney`s investigation and providing a lot of information. There`s wiser perception within the bank that Trump was, you know, not playing it particularly straight. And prosecutor`s standpoint, what they`re generally going to look for in a bank fraud case is whether there is intent to mislead. Having spoken to a lot of people inside the bank on this, they perceive the intent as having been to mislead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Joining us now is Andrew Weissmann. He`s a former FBI general counsel and former senior member of Robert Mueller`s special counsel that investigated Russia`s interference in the 2016 election. He`s now an MSNBC legal analyst.
And Tim O`Brien, senior columnist for "Bloomberg Opinion". He`s the author of "TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald."
Gentlemen, good to see you this evening.
Andrew, let`s just rewind this a little bit so our viewers can remember what this is all about. We know that Deutsche Bank has been the banker to the Trumps for two decades. And we know that the bank has its own documentation that indicated that at various times in the lending of over $2 billion Donald Trump was a bad risk. He`s not somebody that a financial institution, particularly a public company should have been lending to.
And there are all sorts of questions speculating why Deutsche Bank would have been involved with the Trumps and what they know.
What does this lead you to believe?
ANDREW WEISSMANN, FORMER FBI GENERAL COUNSEL: So I think it`s really interesting because I think two things. One, it confirms what we learned just a few days ago from the Manhattan district attorney`s office, which is that their investigation, as you noted, is not just about hush money payments. To me, this is going to be a classic money laundering and sort of bank fraud investigation where you look to see what were the representations made to the bank.
So I think that the D.A.`s office is going to be scouring the Deutsche Bank documents to see what exactly was told to the bank about the Trump organization assets.
The other thing that I think is fascinating is that, you know, we had a case, the Mazars case, that went all the way up to the Supreme Court litigating whether the Manhattan district attorney could get documents from the Trump organization accountants. In the meantime, Deutsche Bank, instead of litigating it, just handed over the documents.
My suspicion is its question of timing. I think that Deutsche Bank`s subpoena was given by the Manhattan D.A.`s office while the special counsel was still in operation. It would have given Donald Trump incentive to not fight it publicly. The reason you are hearing it happened so long ago is because it happened while the special counsel`s office was still investigating.
And the reason that Mazars was litigated is because that subpoena was issued after the special counsel`s office investigation had officially closed.
VELSHI: Mazars, of course, the accountants for Donald Trump.
Tim O`Brien, there was a remarkable piece in "The New York Times." it was 12 pages or something of newspaper ink about the degree to which Donald Trump`s family and business dealings were not kosher to say the least. In it, there was an allegation that Donald Trump underestimated the value of some of his assets for purposes of taxation, which would lead him to have lower tax liability and overestimated them for purposes of the bank.
Do you think this has something to do with this whole thing?
TIMOTHY O`BRIEN, BLOOMBERG OPINION SENIOR COLUMNIST: You know, I would suspect not in this case, Ali. The D.A. may go there, but I think a lot of the transactions, the times you`re looking at in the piece you are referring to, I think the statute of limitations may have run out in terms of tax fraud.
You know, Andrew touched on the issue of money laundering. I think that`s very salient here. The question that always hung over Deutsche Bank is after the early 1990s when every other bank fled from Donald Trump because he essentially welched on $3 billion in loans, Deutsche Bank came back and decided to do business with him.
They litigated in the mid-2000s after Trump tried to walk away from a big Deutsche Bank loan on a Chicago property. And, yet, the bank kept doing business with him. They moved his bank from the commercial side of the bank into their private bank.
So why is Deutsche Bank, among all other major banks, continued to do business with the president? Deutsche Bank has had a long history of trouble, including money laundering issues that drew the attention of investigators in U.S. and Europe.
Deutsche Bank knows very well that Donald Trump has inflated his assets for a long time. When we litigated, we produced a document in that litigation. When we litigated with Trump, he sued me for liable over my biography, Deutsche Bank had an assessment of Trump`s wealth in 2004 at $788 million at a time when Trump was saying he was worth $6 billion.
So the idea that Trump is out there inflating his wealth isn`t a new thing for Deutsche Bank. I think -- I think where this goes around bank fraud and insurance fraud and possible money laundering is the stuff that could really worry Trump.
VELSHI: Andrew, let`s talk about -- the southern district of New York having some independence from the Department of Justice, but it is still the Department of Justice. The Manhattan D.A. isn`t.
We also the attorney general of the state of New York got elected on a promise to prosecute the Trump family, the Trump Organization. Where does all this lead? If the Manhattan D.A. has stuff, what does it mean?
WEISSMANN: Well, the clear immediate thing for your viewers is that what it means is that no pardon is possible because the state, any state, is a separate sovereign. So the president has no ability to pardon himself or anyone else. Not an end state, not any people.
So he can`t protect people from what the Manhattan D.A.`s office, you know, digs up. It still remains to be seen, of course, whether there is criminal liability, whether they can make a case. But if they can, they`re not going to have to deal with the issue of the president dangling pardons to try and thwart the cooperation of witnesses.
VELSHI: Tim, this has long been a source of intrigue for a lot of people, the relationship between the Trump companies, the Trump charity at the time, the Trump family and the business that they did in New York. You, of course, have studied this a great deal. What`s the stuff that you think the D.A. is -- might be latching on to here? We know it is not just the hush money payments.
O`BRIEN: Well, again, I think it`s the classic issue of the money trail and the extent to which either foreign entities or domestic entities had leverage over the president of the United States because of financial relationships. Donald Trump has been in a, you know, a number of cash- centric businesses from real estate to casinos, both in Atlantic City and New York. He openly did business with members of organized crime.
And I think, you know, one of the great unanswered questions of his presidency so far is why does he consort with dictators? What`s his fascination with Vladimir Putin? Why does he get into these financial entanglements overseas in situations that would make other reputable real estate dealers blink twice, at least, or walk away?
He doesn`t. I think that`s his motivation financially for pursuing the presidency or for doing, I think, some of the things he`s done while president that are very questions about his motivations. They`re answered in his wallet. They`re answered in the money trail.
And the extent to which the Manhattan district attorney is going to explore those relationships and document them is very significant.
VELSHI: Guys, thanks very much for your analysis on this one. It`s valuable.
Andrew Weissmann and Tim O`Brien, we appreciate it.
Coming up, it`s happening again, foreign interference in our elections. American voters are being kept in the dark about it. Senator Richard Blumenthal wants classified intelligence to be made public, and he says some Russian tactics released previously makes previous interference look like, quote, child`s play. Senator Blumenthal joins me next.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: We are 90 days away from election day. Lawmakers are sounding the alarms about foreign interference in our election again.
This should come as no surprise. We have been uncovering the extent of Russia`s 2016 interference to help Donald Trump`s campaign for the past three and a half years. Now intelligence officials are briefing members of Congress about the 2020 election.
Last week it was the House where Politico reports "National counterintelligence and security center director William Evanina ultimately acknowledged that Russia is again trying to boost Donald Trump`s reelection and denigrate his opponent, the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, sources who attended that briefing said. But that didn`t satisfy Democrats who urged him to say as much publicly and to be specific."
This week it was the Senate`s turn to receive a briefing which set off this hair on fire tweet storm from Senator Richard Blumenthal. "Shocked and appalled. I just left a 90-minute classified briefing on foreign maligned threats to our elections, from spying to sabotage. Americans need to see and hear these reports. Protect our democracy from destruction by declassifying key intel describing the danger of foreign subterfuge to our elections. Congress has been briefed but sworn to secrecy unacceptably."
Joining us now Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. He`s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator, good to see you. Thank you for being with us tonight.
I guess I have to ask you. Remind our viewers about how this works. You and your colleagues have been briefed about stuff that alarms you, but you are not free to tell us about it because it is classified information.
BLUMENTHAL: We go to a room that is debugged and set aside specifically for these top secret briefing. We read documents there. We take no notes. And we`re sworn to secrecy.
But the American people need to know. In fact, when you think about it, the foreign maligned actors know what they`re doing. They know what they are doing and that we know what they`re doing. The ones kept in the dark are the American people and they need to know about these deeply dangerous threats to our democracy which go to the core of our institutional integrity.
And that`s why these documents should be declassified, or at least, as much as possible without compromising sources and methods.
VELSHI: So I want to be careful here not to get you into trouble about what you can tell us. You are no stranger to this. You and I have been talking about this for years. You are aware of the most maligned threats, the most dangerous things. You are alarmed.
BLUMENTHAL: I`m more than alarmed. I`m shocked and appalled. These reports are chilling. And if you want some flavor of the kind of malign activities ongoing, you should read the report released today by the department of State as to what the Russians are doing globally outside the United States, the techniques and tactics now underway by the Russians globally make their past disruption look rudimentary and quaint.
In fact, as I said, like child`s play. And that is a signal to the American people of what the threats are from these kinds of maligned foreign actors.
VELSHI: You tweeted an article out from "The New York Times" about that State Department report. Let me just read a piece from that article. "Russia continues to use a network of proxy Web sites to spread pro-Kremlin disinformation and propaganda in the United States and other parts of the West, according to a State Department report released on Wednesday. Most of the report focuses on an ecosystem of Web sites, many of them fringe or conspiracy-minded that Russia has used or directed to spread propaganda on a variety of topics."
The question I have for you, Senator is that this is happening in broad daylight. We have been studying this for the last three and a half years. Books have been written about it. An entire Mueller investigation has gone on about it.
Russia continues to, in the information given to us by the State Department report, act as if nothing has changed, that they can act with impunity.
BLUMENTHAL: Russia has been completely undeterred because it`s paid no price. Donald Trump has, in fact, lifted up and elevated Vladimir Putin rather than, in fact, enlightening the American people about a lot of what was done, and he`s tried to discredit the Mueller report.
And even today in the United States Senate, in our Judiciary Committee, there was an effort to deflect attention from it by focusing on relitigating the Steele dossier when in fact there should be a complete focus on the threat to our election integrity ongoing right now.
And sunlight is in many ways the best disinfectant. The Trump administration is responsible for declassification. It could do it literally tomorrow. And that`s why I am pushing for the American people and their right to know. And they really deserve and need it.
VELSHI: Well, that was -- you halfway answered my next question. What do you do about it? And we appreciate that you are pushing for it. But if you are out here, and my viewers and Americans are saying this is basic information. It is not partisan. This is basic information that we have a right to know.
Who else is pushing for it? Have you got Republican colleagues who are pushing for it, too? Because we should know, no matter what party you vote for, whether somebody else is influencing your election.
BLUMENTHAL: No Republican seems to have been nearly as outspoken as a number of us on this side of the aisle, but I`m hoping it will be bipartisan because the threat to our democracy is, in fact, to the core institutions that safeguard our election system. And I`m going to continue pushing. I am obviously barred from talking about the contents of the briefings and the documents but the people need to know.
And we can push the administration. There`s always the danger with classification especially over-classification that it enables officials to hide behind that kind of barrier.
My hope is that my Republican colleagues will join in this effort. It needs to be bipartisan.
VELSHI: And by the way, this is a thing have commented on for years before the Trump administration. That America does have a habit of over- classifying. Most times people don`t care about it because it doesn`t seem to be stuff that matters to them, but this is.
BLUMENTHAL: It is deeply dangerous information. And the American people need to know it. And I would argue that a lot of that other information that we cannot disclose is also information that would bear directly on national security issues, on other kinds of foreign threats that Americans should know.
There is over-classification. Obviously, we`re sensitive, protecting methods and sources. But we live in a democracy and one of the guiding principles of democracy is that sunlight is the best disinfectant.
But we also should go against the Russians now that we know what they`re doing and use sanctions, use our allies and other means to stop this interference.
VELSHI: Senator, good to see you. Thanks you for joining us. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
Coming up, a tale of two campaigns. Donald Trump stokes racism and Joe Biden gets closer to putting the first black woman on a presidential ticket. It could be down to two.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If I`m elected president my cabinet, my administration will look like the country. And I commit that I will, in fact, appoint a -- pick a woman to be vice president. There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow. I would pick a woman to be my vice president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Now, that was Joe Biden on March the 15th during what would be the final debate of the Democratic presidential primary. The promise was made well before the death of George Floyd and the national reckoning that followed over race relations and the use of police force.
After encouragement and pressure from outside groups to pick a woman of color, today Axios is reporting that confidants of Joe Biden think that he has narrowed his VP short list down to two, Senator Kamala Harris of California and Susan Rice, the former national security adviser under President Obama.
Joe Biden is expected to hold final interviews with the top candidates in the coming days and make the final announcement in the next week.
Joining me now to discuss this: Yamiche Alcindor, she`s the White House correspondent for PBS Newshour and an MSNBC political analyst; and Renee Graham, she`s an opinion columnist and associate editor at "The Boston Globe". Good evening to both of you. Thank you for being here.
Renee, you and I spoke a few days ago after you had written a column in "The Boston Globe" which you said, the headline was Biden must choose a black woman for vice president. We don`t know really how accurate the reporting is, but it sounds like he`s moving in that direction. What are your thoughts?
RENEE GRAHAM, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": That`s the feeling we have. I mean, it`s down to two names, that`s what we`re hearing anyway. It makes sense. You know, if you think about what Joe Biden is looking for. In Susan Rice he has someone he`s already familiar with. I think that`s very attractive to him. I think he wants someone with whom he could have a relationship like he had with Obama during those eight years in the White House.
He wants a partner in this administration. And what he would get from Susan Rice is someone with whom he could hit the ground running. They already know each other, they`re familiar with each other. And I think that`s something that`s, you know, very interesting to him.
And Kamala Harris, I mean let`s face it. I mean they had their issues during the campaign, but she`s an extraordinarily strong campaigner.
She has done several -- she`s been on several campaigns. She`s battle tested. And he also knows that, you know, she is going to do everything she possibly can to add to that ticket and get him there in November.
VAUSE: Yamiche, let`s talk about where we are as a country given all of the reporting that you have done in the last few weeks, particularly about John Lewis. We elected an African-American president. We didn`t elect a woman as president. We haven`t had -- the first woman on a vice presidential ticket was Geraldine Ferrero in 1984.
Now we`re talking about for sure a woman on the vice presidential ticket, quite likely an African-American woman and someone who, given Joe Biden`s age and the noises that have been made about him not staying for a second term could be the next president of the United States or the next, next president of the United States.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s right. In picking a vice president in some ways Joe Biden is already starting the 2024 Democratic primary or the 2028 Democratic primary because this person, whoever he chooses is going to be instantly be seen as the future of the Democratic Party.
My understanding, based on my reporting, is that Joe Biden understands the moment. He understands that Democrats, especially black women who are loyal to the party, who are some of the most -- fiercest supporters of the party, that they are looking ahead and thinking we want someone who looks like us in high places.
Now, Joe Biden has already said his first Supreme Court nominee is going to be a black woman. Not just any woman, an African-American woman. So in some ways, my reporting bears out that he wasn`t feeling particular pressure to pick a black woman. But now that it sounds like these two names are on the finals list.
You have two women that are familiar with Joe Biden. women. Of course, they each come with their own baggage and I think that`s what he`s weighing. But he`s also weighing, based on my reporting, the personal connection that he feels with each one of them.
There`s going to be these one-on-one meetings. And I think that`s going to be what seals the deal. And I think in some way when you think about the larger picture, which is the moment that we`re all living through for the Democratic Party to say look, we`re a party that only (INAUDIBLE) -- also wants a black woman on the ticket, someone who understands firsthand what it is to face the injustices that African-Americans all over this country face every single day in health care and education and so many other fields.
That`s going to say something for their party. I think that, of course, the flip side of this is that President Trump is going to attack that person no matter who he picks. So if it`s Kamala Harris, he`s going to quickly go to her attacking Vice President Biden. If it`s Susan Rice, we all know that Benghazi is going to be one of the things that Republicans hone in on.
VELSHI: Renee Graham, you don`t get to be a vice presidential pick without bringing some baggage along with you. But tell us about this moment that Yamiche is talking about. How do we get to a moment where we`re talking about a black woman as a vice presidential candidate, a black woman as the next nominee to the Supreme Court? Is it a moment?
Is it the fact that when you start breaking that ceiling the cracks start? Or is it the fact that what Joe Biden has done is presented us with or the moment has presented us with a plethora of African-American women who it is very easy to imagine as vice president or president or a Supreme Court justice.
GRAHAM: Well, look, in now way could Joe Biden get away with thinking that there is a pipeline problem. There are way too many qualified and formidable black women out there who could be on the ticket with him. I think it`s also really important to remember that black women have been the backbone of the modern Democratic Party.
And after all these years of the party looking to black women to be loyal and to become these sort of king makers, it is time for them to be the queens. It is time for them to be the people at the top of the ticket or near the top of the ticket.
It has happened so rarely that a woman has even gotten this close. The idea that it`s time for a black woman, it is not just time, it`s past time. It is overdue for this to be happening.
And Joe Biden, as Yamiche said, is seizing the moment. He sees what this moment calls for and it is what the movement demands. You know, John Lewis said it`s time for the ticket to look like America. This moves towards that.
VELSHI: Please stay with us, Renee and Yamiche. When we come back, we`re going to look at what the other candidate for president did today because it turns out Donald Trump had a lot to say about John Lewis` funeral, athletes taking a knee and Black Lives Matter.
VELSHI: You just heard what Joe Biden and his campaign are doing to address the needs and concerns of people of color. Today Donald Trump called into "Fox & Friends" for a 54-minute wide-ranging, perhaps rambling interview.
This is what Donald Trump had to say about President Obama`s eulogy for the late congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis whereas you recall, President Obama called for the restoration of the Voting Rights Act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought it was terrible speech, it was an angry speech. It showed this anger there that people don`t see. He lost control.
I thought his speech the other day at the funeral was a terrible, terrible representation of what our country is all about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Here`s what Donald Trump had to say about black lives matter protesters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They had Black Lives Matter, where did it start? Marching down streets screaming "pigs in a blanket", "fry them like bacon". They were talking about policemen. So all of a sudden, this has taken on this air of great respectability. Well, how does it start there? It`s a Marxist group. It`s a Marxist group that is not looking for good things for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: And with the return of professional sports, Donald Trump had this to say about athletes kneeling during the national anthem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When I see people kneeling during the playing and disrespecting our flag and disrespecting our national anthem, what I do personally is turn off the game. We have to stand up for our anthem. And a lot of people agree with me. Hey if I`m wrong, I`m going to lose on election, ok. And that`s ok with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Yamiche Alcindor and Renee Graham are back with us.
Yamiche, I saw you tweeting about this today, some of the things that the President was saying. Some people do agree with him. There`s no question. He doesn`t seem to be trying to expand his reach to others. Polling consistently shows that Americans think, particularly on the issue of African-Americans or treatment at the hands of police, inequality -- that most Americans think there`s something to be fixed here.
ALCINDOR: That`s right. I mean we know just through statistics that African-Americans, they`re only 13 percent of the population, and African- Americans are more than 2.5 times more likely to be killed by the police, by white people.
That`s at the heart of what Black Lives Matter is about. They`re about stopping police brutality and about stopping the unjust treatment of African-Americans in this country.
This, of course, is par for the course of President Trump. This is what he does. He`s really been against Black Lives Matter for a long time. I should just fact check really quickly which is the organization and movement did not start with that chant denigrating police officers. They started with the idea that Trayvon Martin was a young man who shouldn`t have been killed and they went on to talk about the fact that there should be really reforms in policing.
But the President continues to say that these are anarchists. I know, as someone who has reported on Black Lives Matter, that these are people who want America to be better and want America live up to the ideals of treating every man and woman equally.
And quickly he talked about President Obama. It was a very political speech by President Obama but he was calling for some of the same things that John Lewis wanted which was a reuniting and really putting teeth back into the Voting Rights Act. So that was President Obama saying this is what John Lewis`s life and work was about and we should continue to do that work.
VELSHI: Well, Renee Graham, this Black Lives Matter issue is interesting because people who wear the shirts or have the sign don`t, in many cases, know that they have anything to do with an organization or founding principles. This idea of they`re Marxist and they`re anarchist. Most people hear the three words Black Lives Matter and they say, come on, that`s true. I can support that, it`s not a political thing to support it whatsoever.
GRAHAM: I don`t think Donald Trump knows what Marxism is. It was just a word someone said to him and he threw it out there. The thing to remember is that racism is Trump`s comfort food. He`s doling it out in heaping portions to his base because he believes that`s what binds them to him.
So what he`s doing right now as his campaign is failing, so he doesn`t have to talk about the 157,000 people dead from coronavirus and COVID is he`s playing a medley of his greatest hits.
You know, he`s lambasting athletes because of kneeling, he`s talking about Black Lives Matter banners. But this is all Donald Trump`s -- his idea of a winning strategy which is to scare white people silly by painting protesters as violent anarchists because he has nothing else to hang this campaign on.
VELSHI: Yamiche, at some juncture, you have been -- you`ll go down in history as one of the people who attempts to hold the President to account on these things he says. You do it very artfully. You simply state the facts. You know the facts and you state them back to him.
It doesn`t move him. It doesn`t change his view. He`s not challenged by that idea something he said -- as we saw with Jonathan Swan a couple of nights ago, it doesn`t move him that somebody presents him with the facts.
ALCINDOR: That`s right. The President since the beginning of his presidency has trafficked in misleading statements from the virus to Black Lives Matter to all sorts of other things. And what the President is doing is really doubling down on a strategy that worked for him in 2016 and that he`s hoping works for him in 2020.
I will say what is interesting about this "Fox & Friends" interview is that the president is saying the hill the he dies on might be the fact that he has a different stance on racial inequality in this country and that he doesn`t believe that we should be focused on systemic racism and that he wants to continue to talk about policing as if there aren`t things that need to be fixed.
So I think the President is acknowledging, hey I might lose in 2020, and maybe that`s because he`s seeing polling in swing states that I`m seeing as a reporter that shows that he really has some work to do. That`s not saying that he can`t win but it`s saying that he is not in a strong position.
So that being said, I think this is the President starting to maybe also acknowledge that he might lose.
VELSHI: Thanks to both of you. Yamiche, thanks as well for your great reporting today. Yamiche Alcindor and Renee Graham, we appreciate your time tonight.
And that`s is tonight`s LAST WORD.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" begins right now.