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Tulsa celebrate Juneteenth TRANSCRIPT: 6/19/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Anthony Douglas, Peniel Joseph, Daniel Desrochers, Adam Serwer,Aimee Allison, Ron Klain

ANDREW WEISSMANN, FORMER FBI GENERAL COUNSEL: So one way that he could easily be free to do that is he could be subpoenaed by the House and then any claim of privilege that to be asserted would be on much shakier grounds. And I also think that there are not independent career people in the Southern District of New York that you`d be likely to hear about it.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Andrew Weissmann, former Justice Department official, thank you very much for your time tonight joining us on zero notice on a Friday night. I really appreciate it, Andrew.

WEISSMANN: No problem.

MADDOW: All right. That is going to do it for us tonight. But, you know what, it`s Friday night, anything could happen. Now it`s time for "The Last Word." Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, NBC NEWS SENIOR ECONOMIC AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Rachel. Thank you. We`ll pick up the story where you left off. Have yourself a great weekend. We`ll see you on Monday.

MADDOW: Thanks.

VELSHI: Tonight, "Tulsa is not prepared." That`s the message we`re hearing from officials in both Oklahoma and Washington as the two biggest stories of the moment, the still raging coronavirus pandemic and the systemic racism that permeates all aspects of our lives, collide this week in Tulsa.

That quote is from Tulsa City Council Vice Chair Vanessa Hall-Harper, who told the L.A. Times, "This is just the perfect storm for something very bad to happen in this community. I wish that leadership in this state and in this city would have done something to stop it from coming here at this time."

The "it" to which she is referring is Donald Trump. Tomorrow, Trump will hold his first big campaign rally in the age of coronavirus, and it is clear that no officials in the heavily-Republican state of Oklahoma will be stopping him. In fact, no Republican officials in the country seem to be brave enough to tell the president not to hold a rally in a 19,000-seat arena in Oklahoma as the state continues to set COVID records.

We`ll have more on that in a moment. We should start hearing what`s happening tonight in Tulsa. You`re looking at live pictures now from Tulsa`s celebration of Juneteenth, which marks the day in 1865 that the last enslaved people in the United States learned that they were free. Soon, we will be going live to a reporter on the ground in Tulsa.

Organizers had at one point cancelled the celebration due to coronavirus concerns. But after the president announced he would be campaigning there, plans changed back and fast. More than a dozen black Tulsa organizations collaborated to peacefully celebrate Juneteenth in the Greenwood District.

Now, Greenwood is the site of the 1921 massacre where white residents killed as many as 300 black people and burned a thriving commercial black- owned district. This year`s theme is "I, too, am America," and MSNBC`s own Reverend Al Sharpton was a keynote speaker.


AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK PRESIDENT: So we celebrate today and on this country of those that are humane and those that are committed to decency should celebrate because Juneteenth represented the first date in this country that you did not have legalized slavery.


VELSHI: The president does not care about that. He does not care or understand the significance of Juneteenth and the Tulsa massacre. He does not understand or care about his campaign`s decision to hold an event on a day and in a city that has such significance to the black community during a moment where protesters are rallying nationwide against systemic racism and he doesn`t care to learn.

Trump was pressured to push his rally back a day, but that pressure has not had any lasting impact on him. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal this week, Trump said -- listen to this, "I made Juneteenth very famous. It`s actually an important event, it`s an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it."

There is a special kind of nerve, a man, a white man, no less, has to have to claim that no one has heard of a holiday that`s been around for more than a century commemorating one of the most important and historic moments in our nation`s struggle with race.

Trump`s nerve reached a new high as he tweeted a threat earlier to those who plan to protest his rally saying, "You will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis." On Juneteenth, of all days, Trump threatens protesters in Tulsa with harsher measures than these, than the ones we have seen police use on protesters in other major cities since the death of George Floyd.

The president is throwing gasoline on the already raging fire of unrest in America. And let`s not forget that he`s doing all of this during a pandemic that is also raging in America. Since Oklahoma reopened for business in April, the state has seen COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations increase, with black and brown people at an especially heightened risk.

Despite that, Trump will not require anyone at the 19,000-seat arena where he`s holding his rally or the nearby 40,000-seat convention center to wear face coverings. That has danger written all over it. Don`t take my word for it. Just ask the Coronavirus Task Force.

NBC News is reporting tonight that Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx both vocalized concerns internally in the last week about the safety of holding a rally in Tulsa at this time. And lest we forget, the campaign forced attendees to sign a waiver releasing the campaign and the president from liability in case they get sick. But I`m sure the president still cares about the health and safety of his supporters, right?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Given that the campaign had attendees of the rally on Saturday sign a waiver to indemnify the campaign if they should get sick with the coronavirus, would the president consider starting or contributing to a fund for the sick or the bereaved if we see a spike in cases come out of the rally Saturday night?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that`s a hypothetical and that`s a speculative question.


VELSHI: Leading off our discussion tonight, NBC`s Cal Perry in Tulsa where the city`s Juneteenth celebration is underway. Also joining us is Anthony Douglas, the president of the Oklahoma State Conference of the NAACP, and Adam Serwer, a staff writer for The Atlantic.

Cal, let me start with you. Good evening to you. Earlier, you had a conversation with Oklahoma State Representative Monroe Nichols. Let`s just play a bit of that.


CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:              Life expectancy here is lower than it is across town. Two times as high black unemployment as for whites in Tulsa. How did we get here?

MONROE NICHOLS, OKLAHOMA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: We got here through systemic racism. That`s why I am glad the conversation across the country is not just on law enforcement reform, but it is how do we close the gap in schools, right? How do we invest in black-own businesses? How do we create homeowners in black communities?

That is what really stolen here in Greenwood, right? We burned down businesses. We burned down homes, really burned down opportunity. So really what has to happen next is that we consider how do we dismantle systemic racism and how do we build Greenwood districts all across the country.


VELSHI: Cal Perry, what is the situation right now in Tulsa? You`ve got two very different things going on, the celebration of Juneteenth in a place in which there was remarkable massacre in 1921, one that most Americans have not learned about, and you`ve got Donald Trump coming in for a rally tomorrow morning.

PERRY: I think people are happy to be having that first conversation, the one that you just heard from that state representative there. They`re upset that tomorrow it is going to pivot and the narrative is going to change.

I think people are out here fighting for equal rights. They are fighting for human rights. They are fighting for basic rights in a city that saw a massacre at the hands of jealous white population taken up on the black population here, that had just fought World War I, that was succeeding economically, and since then, this city has been decimated by institutional racism.

Add to that, the president of the United States has basically forced the people of Tulsa to come out on the streets tonight and counter program tomorrow`s rally by talking about the things that the country is talking about. And they are risking their lives to do so because we are here in a pandemic. People are upset and they`re worried about what`s beginning tomorrow.

And I`ll tell you, an eighth of a mile away, less than a mile away is that BOK Center where people are camping out. There was supposed to be a curfew this weekend. The president made sure through the Secret Service that there wouldn`t be a curfew so that people could stay there.

And so people here are concerned and they`re saying if something happens tomorrow night, if the crowd that is here goes to meet the crowd that is there or if people come out and they start violence, we cannot say that we didn`t see it coming because we have seen it coming over the past few weeks.

And that tweet that you read I think has really affected people here a lot. When you look at the language of that tweet, he basically took the word "dog" out and he replaced it with "lowlife." And people here are taking that seriously, Ali.

VELSHI: Anthony Douglas, give me a sense of the significance of this. We`re trying to get our heads around why Donald Trump decided that Tulsa was where he was going to kick this off. Now, it is a reliably republican place for him, but the significance of initially having this rally planned for Juneteenth. Is that something you think was lost on the Trump administration or do you think it`s a dog whistle?

ANTHONY DOUGLAS, PRESIDENT, OKLAHOMA STATE CONFERENCE NAACP: Well, I think it`s a dog whistle that he attempted to have this on Juneteenth. We have known -- let me first say, we`re upset with the leadership of the State of Oklahoma as well as the mayor of Tulsa, who did not even inform the leadership, especially African-American leadership, that Donald Trump was coming.

This is not a new surprise to them but is a surprise to us that we were left out of the loop of being even notified. But for him to do it, to make this rally here on Juneteenth and even to make it the day after, because in Oklahoma, we celebrate Juneteenth throughout the weekend, we just don`t end on Friday, over the weekend of Juneteenth.

So I think it`s a slap in the face to the citizens of Oklahoma, as well as to the Tulsa (INAUDIBLE). What is he coming here for in Tulsa, Oklahoma? We`re not one of the top tier states that delivering him the vote. We are the one state that can vote.

VELSHI: Adam Serwer, it has been a rough week for Donald Trump. This thing has been planned for a while. But then this particular week, he`s had polling that indicates he`s falling precipitously behind Joe Biden. He`s had the Supreme Court rule a few times in a way that didn`t work for him. He`s got continuing increased cases of coronavirus across the country. He seems to have grown completely disinterested in battling the coronavirus at all.

But this tomorrow is supposed to represent the launch of Donald Trump`s campaign. It is a thing he has been itching to do, getting out there in a friendly crowd away from the D.C. media that criticizes him all the time. He wants to set this as the beginning of his campaign for all intents and purposes.

DOUGLAS: Well, if I --

ADAM SERWER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: I think that`s right. No, no, please go ahead.

DOUGLAS: By virtue of him trying to set this as the site of his campaign is not doing any good to Oklahoma or anything good to the citizens of Oklahoma. So he could have went to Mississippi, he could have went to Florida, his own hometown where he moved to.

Why come to Oklahoma? When we see him coming in to Oklahoma, we know that a lot of people would travel across the state and come to Oklahoma. And we`re asking all of our members and supporters not to go down to that rally. Let`s have our own mass rally and continue our support.

VELSHI: And Adam, why Oklahoma?

SERWER: I`m not sure. I think obviously the president draws a lot of his personal security and self-esteem from this back and forth with the crowds that he hasn`t been able -- with his crowds of supporters which he hasn`t been able to do since the pandemic started.

And for some reason, they decided to have this rally indoors, which is going to increase the potential contagion risk for everyone who attends as opposed to having it outdoors where it might be safer. But I think it`s very clear that he wants to be in a space where he can bask in the adulation of his supporters and where his supporters, quite frankly, can celebrate him.

So I think this is a part of an emotional feedback loop that has been part of the Trump campaign since the beginning and it is something he has missed having been unable to do it since the pandemic started.

VELSHI: Anthony Douglas, the one thing that does give us an opportunity to talk about it and we have been talking about it for the last month is the burning of Greenwood, the Tulsa massacre. It is strangely something that a lot of Americans didn`t really learn about, even in Oklahoma. It is not African-American history and the struggles of African-Americans and the successes in places like Greenwood -- are not taught in white schools, to white students, generally speaking.

On one level, the one thing Donald Trump has done is he has achieved much of America learning about Juneteenth, which he says he popularized, and the Tulsa massacre.

DOUGLAS: Well, actually, anybody that serves as the president, you know about the massacre that occurred around America. In Oklahoma, there are about six other states where massacres have occurred. The Greenwood massacre is no different than any other massacre.

The only problem we had here when we went to the Supreme Court for reparation, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma acknowledged that the massacre did happen, however, they wrote and said that it was at a time they didn`t have enough time. It was too late to file it. But if they can go back and get a person out of prison, then we can get reparation here.

If Donald Trump comes to Oklahoma, we want him to put his money where his mouth is. Let him find all the bodies that`s buried that they haven`t been able to locate. Those are things that we are asking for. We want to see what is he coming here and we know our governor has been fighting him to come see the Greenwood district. What is he coming to see? Put your money where your mouth is. Don`t come to Oklahoma to make a dog and pony show out of the citizens of Oklahoma.

VELSHI: Cal Perry, I would assume that there is no plan for Donald Trump to visit Greenwood, but I might be wrong. There was supposed to be a curfew. You mentioned that that has been lifted. People are still on the streets tonight. There are still people lined up for this rally tomorrow. As far as you know, that`s the way it`s going to stay?

PERRY: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the details of this are still very unclear. Will the doors open at 10:00 in the morning? If they open it at 10:00 in the morning, people are going to be indoors for 12 hours packed in. If they open at 3:00 p.m., will they have time to get everybody in?

We don`t know where that outdoor spill over area is going to be. We don`t know how many people are going to be in it. We don`t know how many people are going to be in the streets. We don`t know where the National Guard is going to be.

We do know 250 members of the National Guard have been called up. And I don`t have to remind everybody, when you look at the video from around American cities in the past two weeks, that didn`t work out. So, certainly, all eyes on Tulsa for tomorrow night.

VELSHI: Cal, thank you for your reporting. Anthony Douglas, thank you for being with us. Anthony Douglas is the president of the Oklahoma State Conference of the NAACP. Adam Serwer, stick around. I`m going to continue our conversation shortly.

Coming up, my next guest says, "The fact that Trump has moved his rally by one day (INAUDIBLE) to recognize Juneteenth is irrelevant since his message of racial intolerance remains the same."

University of Texas Professor Peniel Joseph will join us this Juneteenth to talk about what has changed in our politics and what hasn`t.


VELSHI: Today, millions took to the street to commemorate Juneteenth, the end of slavery. At least the day that the last enslaved Americans found out that they were enslaved. It was a day of celebration but also a day of reckoning across the country amid new demands to end police brutality and systemic racism in America.

In Washington, D.C., demonstrators marched through the streets to the Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. memorials, chanting "black lives matter." In New York, protesters listened silently, fists in the air, to the names of those killed by police. In California, union members stopped working and marched with protesters from the Port of Oakland to the police department to honor Juneteenth as a day of action.

Local leaders and residents in Cincinnati, Ohio cheered as the Juneteenth flag was flown at city hall. And in Fort Worth, Texas, 93-year-old activist Opal Lee fought to make Juneteenth a national holiday, marching two and a half miles to symbolize the two and a half years it took for slaves in Texas to learn that they were free after the emancipation proclamation was signed.

Demonstrators gathered for the "I, too, am America: Juneteenth Rally" in Tulsa, Oklahoma where the sister of Terence Crutcher, who was fatally shot by police in 2016, spoke, followed by Reverend Al Sharpton.


TIFFANY CRUTCHER, SISTER OF TERENCE CRUTCHER WHO WAS KILLED BY POLICE IN 2016: Here I am thinking that my tears were not in vain and our hurt is serving a purpose, and even Christ suffered before the world could truly understand the weight that love could carry. Here we are, heavy in love, choosing change, even when we`re unsure of the method vacillating between peace and this burn this mother down but always thinking, always praying, always choosing love.

SHARPTON: That`s why we can`t turn around, because it`s in our blood, it`s in our genes, that we don`t give our seats up no more. We are not slaves no more. They levelled the black Wall Street here in Greenwood, but we built businesses back and we`re going to build them right back here in Greenwood. Truth crushed to earth shall rise again. We will not turn around.



VELSHI: Joining us now, Peniel Joseph. He is the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas at Austin. He`s the author of "The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr."

Professor Peniel, glad to have you here. Thank you for joining us. You said something very interesting about Juneteenth. You said, in African-American communities that celebrate it, it represents the birth of a new American freedom that is still obviously tragically incomplete, but it provides us a spring board to have the conversation and a policy impact around racial slavery and the world that black labor actually built in the United States.

So it is both a celebration and a commemoration and a reminder that the work that was marked on this date in 1865 is not done.

PENIEL JOSEPH, FOUNDING DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF RACE AND DEMOCRACY AT UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AUSTIN: Yeah, absolutely right. I think that we are at a watershed moment in American history, Ali, and we can`t turn back. We have to seize this generational opportunity to end systemic racism.

And I think that the Juneteenth celebrations here are really remarkable because this starts in Texas, which is now my home state, and places like Houston, places like Galveston, places like Austin, African-American men and women bought up land and acres to celebrate, to have barbeques, to commemorations.

They did these commemorations during the period of reconstruction and redemption. That redemption is the redeemer self, the lost cause, the confederacy that really articulated this belief system in white supremacy and utilized racial terror and the denial of voting rights and racial segregation to really rob black Americans of dignity and citizenship.

The positive to that story is really the resilience of black people and their love and faith in American democracy and the fact that in 2020, 155 years later, we have so many white allies alongside of Malcolm X, Asian and indigenous, and trans and lesbians and gays.

We have all these folks who are in the streets, protesting for both black dignity and black citizenship and black equality, but really to re-make our country because Juneteenth should have been a new birth of American freedom, but we didn`t complete that birth because we had white supremacy and racist policies that we still have today in 2020.

But I`m hopeful and encouraged by so many different people out there in America protesting over 2,000 different cities for not just social justice and racial justice, but for black dignity, black citizenship, and in the process to re-make American democracy.

VELSHI: This may just be an academic question, but since you`re an academic, I`m going to ask you. Are these allies who are looking to complete the thing that Juneteenth marks or is there a new realization across this country amongst all of us, no matter our skin color or economic situation, that we`re not a free country? If everybody is not enjoying justice and economic dignity and equality, then none of us are.

JOSEPH: Yeah. I think it is both end, Ali. I think that if we look at freedom and liberation as a multiple choice question, it`s really all of the above. So you have the completion of black dignity and citizenship is how we`re going to end institutional systemic racism and white supremacy.

Ending racial cast means that people who are Latin X, people who are Asian, people who are indigenous are going to have citizenship access. And without all of us being free, none of us are free. And we`re really seeing unprecedented solidarity and all politics are local. So people are at the local level whether in Tulsa or Austin, Texas where I live or in New York City.

They are saying we want to both end racist policies, institutionalize anti- racist policies, but also institutional racial justice and inequity for all people in all communities.

So this is a really transformative time. And the fact that we can push Juneteenth to be a federal holiday is important because symbols matter, Ali. When we think about the confederate flag, when we think about symbols of confederate war memorials, those things matter and they become an extension of a society that is rooted in racial slavery, anti-black racism.

So if we could end those symbols and at the same time we have these new symbols of justice and the kind of America that Dr. King talked about, Martin Luther King, Jr. told us about this beloved community that we could create here. He said it was going to take a bitter but beautiful struggle and that was a community that was free of racial injustice, free of hyper- materialism, was free of violence, and free of segregation.

And people really want that community in 2020. I think the best aspect of what`s happened out of this tragedy, the tragedy of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many thousands killed by police brutality, by the criminal justice system, by racism, is the fact that we all come together and we are finally saying we can achieve our country if we end racism. But we also have to acknowledge the past. The only way we could move forward together as a country is by acknowledging the past.

VELSHI: Professor Peniel Joseph, thank you for joining us. Professor Joseph is the founding director of the Center for Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of "The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr." Thank you, sir. I hope to continue this conversation with you.

Coming up, this is the video of people in Kentucky waiting in line for hours and hours, even getting turned away. For what? To speak to a real person about problems with their unemployment claims, problems that Kentucky`s Democratic governor said today are a feature, not a bug of Republican politicians who don`t want people to get access to their benefits. We`re going to talk about that, next.


VELSHI: Today, at least four states reported their highest single day increase in cases of coronavirus. The spikes were reported in Arizona, Florida, California and Nevada. There are now 2,229,199 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, and 119,721 confirmed deaths of coronavirus. That is greater than the number of Americans who lost their lives in the First World War. And the economic pain caused by the pandemic is accumulating and growing.

In the last three months, there have been 46 million unemployment claims in the United States, with 1.5 million new claims just last week. In Kentucky, more than 40% of the workforce has filed for unemployment. Thousands in Kentuckians applied for unemployment as early as March are still waiting to receive their benefits. Look at this video from Frankfurt, Kentucky. Hundreds of unemployed workers lining up for their first chance to meet with a real life person who could give them answers, instead of depending on a website or a phone call.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have not got through to nobody since I filed in April the 19th.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My family has been trying to help us, because if I don`t get help today, I will lose my apartment at the end of the month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not on unemployment just to stay on it. It is just something to get me by.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When are you going to help us? We are your people. We put you in the position that you are in, you need to hear our voices.


VELSHI: Joining me now is Daniel Desrochers a Political Reporter for the Lexington Herald Leader. Daniel recorded that video of people lining up for up to ten hours. And, Daniel that this is where the rubber hits the road, right? We hear about the economy reopening. We look at that stock market and see the amazing recovery that it has had. But that`s not the reality for these people. That woman who said, if I don`t get something, I lose my apartment. That is the reality for tens of millions of Americans.

DANIEL DESROCHERS, POLITICAL REPORTER, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER: Yes. That really is the reality, right. As I went through the line and I talked to a lot of these people, you have heard kind of the same sort of story over and over again about how difficult it is to make ends meet right now. These are people who filed unemployment claims in March, in April, in May, and so it`s been weeks and weeks without them getting any money.

So I talked to people who they have been skipping meals to make sure that their partner could have a meal. I talked to one man who he actually made it through the line. He got his money, but he had been evicted from one apartment and had to move to a second apartment. There were other people who there is a ban on evictions right now in Kentucky, but even with that ban on evictions people are still being harassed by their landlords. They`re still being told that they have to pay their bills. And so, there are a lot of people who are really, really struggling right now.

VELSHI: And that`s amazing. People skipping meals in the richest country in the world and the Governor Andy Beshear says he`s putting more resources behind this, but he sort of pointed out that this, as he said, is not a bug. It`s a feature of a system that is designed to make it difficult. We make people jump through hoops in this country to get things like unemployment or Medicaid.

DESROCHERS: Yes. And so he`s really referencing the fact that under the CARES Act they kind of expanded the people who are eligible for unemployment, people who are independent contractors or people who are self-employed, people who may work in a Church Day Care, that sort of thing. And so when they go through this antiquated unemployment systems in Kentucky, there are a lot of prompts that are basically saying, no, you are not eligible, no, you are not eligible, no, you are not eligible. And so they have to have this sort of tier workers who can manually override that system to help resolve a lot of these problems, right.

So we have had over 800,000 people file first time unemployment claims in Kentucky and about 95% of those claims have been processed. But that still leaves these thousands of people who have these, sort of trickier claims and haven`t been able to talk to a human being to get those tricky claims resolved and they only have a limited staff that who can actually do this. And that`s what we`re seeing is a lot of people who - there was this one lady that showed me nine different phone numbers she has called because she can`t get through to a human because of the system.

VELSHI: Unbelievable, but really happening and unfortunately your state is not the only place it is happening. Daniel, thank you for that sort of coverage because unless we see the faces of those people who are skipping meals or going to lose their apartments, we may not understand the depth of what some Americans are going through. Thank you for that, Daniel Desrochers is a Political Reporter with the Lexington Herald Leader. I want to bring back Adam Serwer the Staff Writer for The Atlantic. Adam wrote, "It didn`t have to be like this. The desperation of the American workers in the aftermath of the coronavirus was the product of a series of policy decisions and missed opportunities". Adam, what do you mean by that?

ADAM SERWER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: After the 2008 recession, the government, the Obama administration, really didn`t do enough to make sure that Americans, you know, in the bottom 70% of the income bracket recovered quickly enough. And, so, as a result, people were really treading water between the 2008 recession and the coronavirus shutdown that just happened right now. And in between that, you know, Donald Trump was elected. He promised to work on behalf of the forgotten man. He was going to do a big infrastructure bill. He was going to raise wages. He was going to create more jobs, and he really didn`t do that.

He really just - his biggest legislative accomplishment was giving people in his income bracket a massive tax cut, much as the previous republican president before him. So what we have seen for the past ten years really is a series of missed opportunities to make the economy work for Americans who are not upper, middle class or wealthy and we just didn`t do it. And we`re seeing the consequences of that right now when you see people lining up in that massive line in Kentucky for unemployment insurance or here in San Antonio when you see lines and lines of cars of people who had never been to a food bank before who are in line to try to get food help.

VELSHI: Adam and I think this is an important point because the stock market, even despite everything that`s happened over the course of ten years, is still up double digits. So people have - many Americans have seen not only a full recovery, but if you went into the last recession with credit and with money, you came out better. If you didn`t, some of those people you talked to at the food bank in San Antonio have continued to tread water economically, financially since the last recession. They have never felt a big recovery.

SERWER: That`s right. The stock market after the 2008 recession recovered fairly quickly. So if you are an upper, middle class person, you are a wealthy person. And if you have a lot of wealth is tied up in the stock market, you did okay. But for people who don`t have that, they were basically just paying their bills.

They didn`t have a lot of money. They weren`t able to save, and so when the pandemic hit and the shutdown happened, they didn`t have anything to fall back on. These are people who really needed the help that came with the unemployment insurance and the cares act with the stimulus checks, but that`s not enough. That`s not enough to hold them over for a long period of time. Unless something changes in the way that our economy works, we are going to be back here again the next time there is a big economic problem.

VELSHI: Or not, Adam. If we were to look at this as an opportunity, if we were to say that all those things that we didn`t fix because we said it`s too difficult to fix or too expensive to fix, well, it seems like we live under a money tree now, right. We have found trillions of dollars to put emergency fixes in place in the last three months. We could spend less money for permanent fixes.

SERWER: That`s right, we could. But that depends on having legislators and presidents who are willing to do that sort of thing on behalf of the vast majority of Americans instead of those who get political donations and have enough money to pay for lobbyists in Washington.

VELSHI: Adam, thank you for your article. Thank you for the writing that you do. Adam Serwer has written a great new article on this, it didn`t have to be like this.

SERWER: Thank you.

VELSHI: Coming up, there are many things that Donald Trump has done lately that could explain why his poll numbers are as low as they are. We are just going to show you some of them that happened this week.


VELSHI: There is no such thing as a normal week in Trump world, but even by those standards, this last week has been a disaster for Donald Trump. After a delay in a lengthy legal battle, details of the controversial book by Donald Trump`s Former National Security Adviser, John Bolton were revealed this week and it painted a picture of a dangerously ignorant and uninformed president.


JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I don`t think he`s fit for our office. And I don`t think he has the competence to carry out the job. There really isn`t any guiding principal that I was able to discern other than what`s good for Donald Trump`s re-election.


VELSHI: Among the revelations, Donald Trump`s effort to leverage trade negotiations with China to his benefit in his re-election, coziness with dictators like Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and a general lack of global diplomacy and geographical understanding. After a last minute attempt to block the publication of the book, that`s already been printed shift in the hand of many journalists, a federal judge today said, "the horse as we used to say in Texas, seemed to be out of the barn". This week we also saw the resignation of one of the Trump administrations top African-American officials. In her resignation letter, Mary Elizabeth Taylor, the Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs wrote "moments of upheaval can change you, shift the trajectory of your life and mold your character".

The president`s comments and actions surrounding racial injustice and Black Americans cut sharply against my core values and convictions. Donald Trump also faced a pair of defeats before the Supreme Court. The first, that gay and transgender individuals cannot be fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation. That majority ruling anchored by justice Neil Gorsuch, a Donald Trump appointee. The second a rejection of the Trump administration`s efforts to end a program that allows nearly 800,000 DACA recipients to remain in the United States.

Those rulings caused Donald Trump to tweet. Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn`t like me? Despite Donald Trump`s erratic and reckless style of governing, many republicans have stood by the president for two reasons, the economy and conservative judicial appointments. But after this week Supreme Court defeat and a devastated the economy because of coronavirus, will conservatives still standby Donald Trump? Several polls released this week indicate they will not. All those polls, including one from Fox News showed that the tides of the 2020 Presidential Election continue to turn toward Joe Biden, all showing Donald Trump behind by 8 to 12 points.

"The New York Times" reports, "the president is acting trapped and defensive and is self-destructive behavior has been so out of step for an incumbent in an election year that many advisers wonder if he is truly interested in serving a second term". When we come back, where this week leaves Donald Trump and what it means for a November election.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATE: We`re ahead in our polls and some others too by the way. But we`re ahead in our polls and especially in the battleground states. I think we`re going to do very well.


VELSHI: That was Donald Trump earlier this week talking about his poll numbers, and these are the numbers from a CNBC poll released earlier this week showing Donald Trump trailing Joe Biden in each of the six swing states that are essential to his re-election. Joining our discussion now, Aimee Allison, she`s the Founder of She the People, a network aiming to amplify the political voice of women of color. And Ron Klain, the Former Chief of Staff to Vice President Joe Biden and a Senior Aide to President Obama. Great to see both of you. Thank you for being here. Aimee let me start with you. What do you make of what`s happening? This has been a difficult week for the president, but he`s in the context of a difficult three months for this country.

AIMEE ALLISON, FOUNDER SHE THE PEOPLE: Well, we just came out of a period where Donald Trump wasn`t defining the news cycle for once. The power of the people in the streets. And you know, I think we can look at those polls but also not be complacent. We have to understand that some of the wins that we`ve experienced this week are indications that we have still a democracy that`s functioning.

We have people power in the streets. We have a court that`s independent and that`s giving people some hope after some punishing years. So I think right now it`s time to double down on our commitment to focusing on turning out our base and not being complacent because the polls say Trump had a bad week.

VELSHI: Ron Klain, let`s just talk about Donald Trump`s base. He has made two cases to them. In fact, he uses two answers to a lot of questions, difficult questions that reporters ask him about unrelated matters. The answers tend to be the strong economy and judges. He often just uses it in short form. Well, now we don`t have a strong economy, and his judges haven`t worked for him that well this week.

RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Yes, I think that`s right. I mean, look, I think fundamentally the president`s in trouble politically because he`s failing to do his job as president. Tomorrow we`ll go over the 120,000 dead mark from coronavirus, a botched response. You`ve talked tonight about people waiting in food lines or to get basic sustenance in a country where 20 million people are out of work because Donald Trump botched the coronavirus response. And his answer to demands for justice in the streets has been to use the U.S. military on his own people, to tear gas his own people for a photo op.

So that`s why the president`s in trouble. I think Aimee`s point though is exactly right. What we saw with the Supreme Court this week was how narrowly balanced that court is. A 5 to 4 ruling that allow 800,000 dreamers to stay in this country. If the president gets re-elected, that Supreme Court will flip in the opposite direction. There will be no constraint on Trump, and we`re going to see just a wave of injustice from that court. So I think there`s good news this week but a warning to people that we need to win this election if we don`t want to see a reversal on even these wins we`ve had so far.

VELSHI: Aimee, you and I were talking months ago when there were several candidates in the democratic presidential race, and you were talking about the things that would have to happen to motivate democratic voters to come out and defeat Donald Trump. The world is such a different place now. Do you feel that everything that has happened will actually motivate people because right now the Trump administration continues to push against making it easier to vote, especially during coronavirus?

ALLISON: You talk about a president who`s already been impeached and but we can`t ride on that all the way to success in the polls. I think the lesson from 2016 was that the Democratic Party has to speak to directly the people who are out on the street, the people who are demanding transformational in politics. They want to speak to racial justice and racism.

Today being June 18th (ph), that many people who never heard of it now celebrating and honoring that moment. But we can`t take that change in culture and sentiment that we`re seeing really, you know, unveil itself to us and have such political ramifications, we can`t take that for granted. The lesson from 2016 is particularly black voters.

You have to go into those swing states, speak directly to them, and have a plan that addresses particularly racial justice in this moment. And I think that`s going to be the cornerstone to motivating voters to, despite the pandemic and talk about vote by mail and all the problems of voter suppression, to make sure and get their vote counted.

VELSHI: Ron, you`ve had so many jobs that it`s hard to list, and I mean that in a good way by the way. But one of them was that you were involved in a very close presidential election and things having to do with ballots and voting. And now we are back in that place where Donald Trump`s only hope at this point is to delegitimize vote by mail, to talk about the fraud that is likely - that he says is likely to take place even though there`s no evidence that it`s going to happen. He is setting up for a close election. We don`t know if it will be close, but he`s setting up for a close election in which he can delegitimize his opponent.

KLAIN: Well, Ali, no question about it. And I want to build on something that Aimee said a minute ago, which is this. We obviously have to do everything possible to protect people`s rights to vote, to enable people to vote by mail, to make sure that votes are cast and counted. But I`ll tell you as you alluded to, I was chief counsel for Al Gore in the recount in 2000. People asked me what lesson did I learned from that.

The number one lesson I learned from that is you need to win an election by enough votes that the other side can`t take it away. That`s what we did in 2008 with president Obama. We left no doubt on election night who had won the presidency of the United States, and we need every person who wants to get rid of Donald Trump, who wants to see change in this country, who wants to see progress in this country on health care, on the economy, on social justice, on racial justice to get out and vote this time so there can be no doubt what the result of the election is.

VELSHI: Aimee, you have your finger on the pulse of people who go out and try and get people to vote and run for office. Have you seen the needle moving? Do you feel that everything that has happened in the last three months is - and particularly in the last three weeks is going to cause not just African-Americans but all Americans of good conscience to say they can`t sit this one out?

ALLISON: Yes. We`re certainly at a transformational moment that it could have really major implications. We hope it will, on politics. I mean the people out on the street, protesters can become voters, and we`ve been in conversation with women of color who, you know, I always say are the most loyal democrats and those who are in battleground states saw during the quarantine registrations fall off a cliff because you can`t go out.

You can`t be at events. You can`t door knock. And because they`re so creative leaning into digital strategies, we`re seeing an uptick after the protests into voter registration and engagement. Many, many people paying attention now, turning from what`s happening in the street to the elections, and they want to hear more. They want to engage more. They want to make a difference.

So we can`t just assume people will go out and be able to vote because of the problems, both the vote by mail issues, the fact look at Wisconsin. Decrease in the number of polling locations, all kinds of confusion. So we have to invest deeply. This goes for the democrats. This goes for people in the whole ecosystem who want to guarantee that every individual has their vote counted. That means going to people and to places where we can`t assume that they`re going to have their vote counted unless we make sure that there are organizers on the ground and a real focus on that. I think that`s where we need to spend our money, spend our focus, spend our time.

VELSHI: Thank you to both of you this evening, Aimee Allison and Ron Klain for your analysis and your clarity tonight. Aimee Allison is a Founder of She the People; Ron Klain, Former Chief of Staff to Joe Biden and Former Senior Aide to President Obama.