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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, August 26, 2020

Guests: Kavita Patel, Mike Murphy, James Carville, Charlie Sykes


RNC night 2 featured Melania, Eric, & Tiffany Trump. DFA Chief apologizes for overstating benefits of convalescent plasma on COVID-19 treatment. President Donald Trump uses White House and presidential duties during RNC. Mike Pompeo's speech in tonight's RNC raises Hatch Act questions. There's a video that shows protesters confronting diners in the Adams Morgan section of Washington last night. They were demanding the woman who's sitting there eating her dinner, raise her fist in solidarity with them to agree that white silence is violence. Jerry Falwell, Jr. officially resigned today as president of Liberty University. Reuters was first to report "a business partner of Jerry Jr. has come forward to say he had a years long sexual relationship involving Falwell's wife and the evangelical leader." In a statement to the Washington Examiner, Falwell admitted his wife's affair but denied any involvement in it himself.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: The case for a second Trump term came from the First Lady, member of the cabinet, two of his children as well as political allies, various supporters. Notably the White House was used as a prop in a soundstage for tape segments.

The reviews of his administration's record were often at odds with reality, especially the pandemic, and came with a hefty dose of revisionism. But especially notable, as we said, the use of official government functions and backdrops and property on a night devoted to the President's reelection. More on all of that in a moment, but first, here's a look at what we saw and heard tonight.


SEN. RAND PAUL, (R-KY): President Trump gets things done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are delivering every day on their promise to make America great again.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Join us as I grant John, I'm not sure you know this, a full pardon.

CRIS PETERSON, WISCONSIN DAIRY FARMER: Our entire economy and dairy farming are once again roaring back.

LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: There's a housing boom, there's an auto boom, a manufacturing boom, a consumer spending boom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We simply cannot under a Biden-induced recession.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be controlled by the environmental extremists.

MAYOR ROBERT VLAISAVLJEVICH, (D) EVELETH, MINNESOTA: Biden is too weak, too scared and too sleepy to stand up to the radical left.

CISSIE GRAHAM LYNCH, DAUGHTER OF FRANKLIN GRAHAM: Democrats tried to make faith organizations pay for abortion inducing drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has done more for the unborn than any other president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must all embrace our first amendment rights and not heightened fear of the media.

PAUL: Stand up and fight the socialists poisoning our schools and burning our cities.

PAM BONDI, FORMER FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: We all know about Joe's son, Hunter Biden, yet he was paid millions to do nothing.

TIFFANY TRUMP, PRESIDENT TRUMP DAUGHTER: My father does not run away from challenges, even in the face of outright hatred.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let us join our president and his vow that America will never be a socialist country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, you're now a citizen of United States of America.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This President has led bold initiatives in nearly every corner of the world.

ERIC TRUMP, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S SON: Peace in the Middle East, never any wars were finally ended, promises made and promises for the first time were kept.

MELANIA TRUMP, U.S. FIRST LADY: If you tell him he cannot be done, he just works harder. I believe that we need my husband's leadership now more than ever, in order to bring us back once again to the greatest economy and the strongest country ever known.


WILLIAMS: Tonight's televised session started with a prayer that mentioned Jacob Blake, the 29-year old man who was repeatedly shot in the back seven times in fact point blank range by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin this past Sunday.

Protest broke out there for a third straight night. The governor has increased the National Guard presence on the streets. Those barricades were just put up this afternoon. Blake's family now says he's paralyzed from the waist down remains hospitalized. Today his parents spoke out for the first time to address the shooting and the protests.


JACOB BLAKE, SR. JACOB BLAKE'S FATHER: They shot my son seven times, seven times. Lucky didn't matter. But my son matters.

JULIA JACKSON, JACOB BLAKE'S MOTHER: Let's use our hearts, our love and our intelligence to work together to show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other.


WILLIAMS: His mother was extraordinary today. A state investigation into the shooting is underway. Today, the U.S. Justice Department announced it plans to assist in that inquiry. It's a lot to take on but here with us for our leadoff discussion, two Pulitzer Prize recipients from the Washington Post. Phil Rucker, White House Bureau Chief for the Post, co-author with his colleague Carol Leonnig of the best seller, A Very Stable Genius. And Mary Jordan, National Political Correspondent at the Post and author of The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump, published in June. Importantly, she's also co-author of Trump on Trial: The Investigation, Impeachment, Acquittal and Aftermath which came out just today.

Plus, for good measure, our friend John Heilemann, author, journalist, our National Affairs Analyst, co-host of the Circus on Showtime, Executive Editor over at the Recount.

It's a lot but we're happy to have you. Thanks for staying up with us and welcome to the three of you. Mr. Rucker, I'd like to begin with your beats specifically. Again, this was supposed to be after criticizing the darkness as he saw it of the Democrats gathering. This was supposed to be positive stories. Are you reporting? Are you hearing even a hint of remorse over the use of the levers, the symbolism, the real estate that comes with our presidency for this television presentation tonight?

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Brian, I'm hearing zero remorse. You know, this was a controversy in the weeks leading up to the convention when the President made it known that he intended to use the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday night for his formal acceptance speech.

And you know, he almost invites the controversy. He's almost daring the authorities that exists to try to challenge him on the law here and on the ethics here. There's no question in my mind and based on my reporting that all of the uses of the White House buildings that Secretary Pompeo, his trip to Israel, all the other uses of federal resources behind this convention, that the people making those decisions knew what they were doing, and did so anyways.

You know, they're trying to show the power of incumbency here. They're trying to put the President in the job to show him, you know, walking down the colonnade today to show him leading that immigration ceremony that pardoning ceremony, to show the Secretary of State in Jerusalem, to try to add to the grandeur of the convention and impress upon voters, that these are the people really in charge leading the country, but it is an absolute break with president in this country. It is alarming to most ethics, scholars and others who keep an eye on these things. And it is yet another norm that this President has busted through.

WILLIAMS: Mary, it's great to have you. Let's talk about the First Lady's speech this afternoon, her press secretary said in effect, unlike 2016, this speech was all hers, as it was put all her words, no input this time from Michelle Obama. I know to write about someone you have to kind of occupy their headspace and live with your lead character, having just come off that process. I'm wondering what went through your mind watching tonight?

MARY JORDAN, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, it was almost like -- Well, first of all, is the biggest speech of her life. And if they don't win November, I think she was thinking, you know, I need to tell people who I am. Time and time again. She was saying things that her husband would never say, social media was her big message, right? And he uses social media, to bully people. And of course, she brought that up again, and talked about being civil. She talked about compassion. She talked about pretty much everything he didn't. You know, the victims of hurricanes and of course, you know, the anxiety and all the problems including suicide, which you mentioned that have come off of coronavirus, is completely discordant.

And she was basically saying in by far the longest speech that she's ever given, this is who I am. And very notable, her people were saying that they didn't run it by the West Wing. I've never heard of that. I mean, normally, the East Wing, the First Lady's office works with the President. And they're kind of a unit. This time, this was her, and I do think it helps him but I think it helps Melania Trump. And if she -- if they do win again, I think people will look at her a little differently. You know, she usually speaks one or two minutes and hides sometimes we don't see her for a month or two at a time. This was a big, big night for her.

WILLIAMS: John Heilemann, I guess we're just using the presidency and the White House now as a backdrop for a political convention.

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yeah, I guess we are Brian, little different. And, you know, I've been listening and watching. And I obviously share the sort of shock and the chagrin of a lot of the guests who've been on since you took over at the end of this spectacle of, you know, now we've had two nights of kind of political self-pleasuring on the part of the president.

And I chatted -- with Phil said, I think is important. And I want to get to the politics of this and the strategy here and what I find confounding about it just as a purely strategic matter, you know. They are using, as Phil said, the office of the presidency, the grandeur of the presidency, all of these official buildings and official processes, as you said, to build Donald Trump up, to make him bigger, to make him occupy apparently to make him be persuaded, to build a perception that he somehow occupies the job.

The last nearly three, nearly four years of Donald Trump the problem, the political problem for the White House has not been that Donald Trump is too small a figure. The problem is that Donald Trump is too big, a figure already in some ways and too pervasive figure and what the public has rendered so far as a judgment on him. If you look at all of the data that we've seen, particularly since the start of COVID, is that there is an -- the President is behind the eight ball politically there. He is not a popular figure in America. He is he is trying to launch a comeback with this convention. And the key element of that was to try to make this election not about him, not a referendum on Donald Trump, but make it a choice between him and Joe Biden then seek to disqualify Joe Biden, although we have heard attacks on Joe Biden for the last two nights. What I think these last two nights are particularly tonight with all the Trump children and Melania Trump speaking, these two nights have been all about Donald Trump.

They've kept the focus exclusively on him and enlarged him as a presence. I think that fights their interests. They should be -- they must try to make this about Joe Biden because if they make it about Donald Trump, that is what the campaign wants and I think there's no one in politics right now who thinks that I referendum election on Donald Trump is an election he can win.

So it beyond serving his narcissism, I don't see how this is advancing their strategic interests, the kind of convention we've seen the last few nights and that it looks like we're going to see for the next two nights.

WILLIAMS: And Phil, indeed, to John's point, now everyone uses the interregnum, these hours between now and tomorrow night session, to look and see what the President tosses out on social media that may reverse some of the perceived gains of tonight. Secondly, Phil, it's been argued that this is -- a lot of this is aimed at a potentially shaky base and not looking to bring in and dependence at all.

RUCKER: I think that's right, to the President's tweets by the way, we'll see what he does tomorrow but it might be in violation of the ethos that his wife laid out in her speech tonight.

But looking at the base here, you're absolutely right. So many of the speeches we saw last night and that we saw again tonight, were aimed at bringing that base together, knitting back together the Trump coalition from 2016. Not necessarily looking to expand it, but trying to give all of those base voters a reason to get further energized about Donald Trump.

You heard a lot of talk tonight, including a speech that was particularly graphic about abortion, for example. You heard a lot of talk about the economy. You've heard from the Catholic High School students, talking about wearing his Make America Great Again hat and his war with the media.

You even heard from the President's three adult children who have spoken so far Don Jr. on Monday night, Eric and Tiffany tonight, very unusual speeches. They did not talk about the president as their father or a man of compassion or sort of peel back the curtain on what growing up in the Trump household was like, but you heard them deliver basically MAGA talking points to give fiery political partisan speeches to rile up Trump's base. And that's an indication that the Trump campaign may not feel secure in their base right now and that they need to make an effort here to make sure that they've got all those voters with them before they go reaching out into the middle.

WILLIAMS: Mary, one of the speakers tonight has in the past advocated going back to one household vote. I guess one person one vote is overrated. One of the speaker -- the speaker who was polled tonight was pulled from the program for saying out loud, throwing her weight behind an old anti-Semitic trope brought to you by QAnon. It seems to me they got Mike Pence to denounce QAnon over the past what, 72 hours. Is that impossible for this President to do who when asked about them said they seem to like me?

JORDAN: You know, I think that the message every time one of these things comes up is, oh, it's the media blowing that up, you know, are they canceling people for nothing?

I think we were just talking about the base. A lot of tonight was about women. We're hearing from their own campaign, how worried they are about the softening vote, particularly suburban white women. Trump won 52% of white women last time. It shocked people actually because he's running against Hillary Clinton. But there's all kinds of science and how soft that was. You saw the video about Kellyanne Conway and all the women that worked for him at the White House. And you saw Billy Graham's granddaughter, it was -- his own daughter, Tiffany, and then of course, Melania. A lot of this was geared towards saying that he is good for women.

And we'll see because I know that the campaign is worried about the base. And so even though they're focusing on the base and not kind of expanding out and trying to get some independence they have a lot to worry even about who voted for them the last time.

WILLIAMS: John, Mary invoked HRC, Democrats prone to an eye roll regard her as the gift that keeps on giving your show play this clip of Hillary Clinton. We'll play it for our audience, discuss it on the other side.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They have a couple of scenarios that they're looking toward. One is messing up absentee balloting so that they then get maybe a narrow advantage in the Electoral College on Election Day. Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances because I think this is going to drag out and eventually I do believe he will win if we don't give an inch and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is.


WILLIAMS: So John Heilemann, what do you make of her very public advice and its timing?

HEILEMANN: Well, I'm -- Brian, I make a bit, something that's a perfect horshack for the American body politic right now. The reaction to this clip has been, you had on the right has seized on the clip, you've had -- from this morning, you had Sean Hannity, the President's team put it up on his YouTube page, basically saying, you know, Hillary Clinton is advising Joe Biden to try to steal the election. There's been an incredible amount of invective thrown her way as there always is when she says something controversial from the right. But on the left in the Democratic Party, they've all been saying damn right. She's telling the truth right here and she's given him very good advice.

And I guess I would say, you know, Donald Trump has made it very clear over the last months that if -- that any result other than a clear cut victory for him, which is to say or at any result by which Joe Biden might win, he's going to challenge. He's going to say that the races are legitimate. He's going to blame mail-in voting, he's going to say the system was rigged, and he's going to litigate like crazy.

Hillary Clinton here seems to be essentially saying, this is what Donald Trump's going to do, Joe Biden, you better get ready to do the same thing, that we're going to be likely in an overtime situation, that this is going to be not a clear cut outcome on election night, and that you better lawyer up and get ready for the fight that might play out not just in one Florida situation like in 2000, but in multiple Florida, so to speak, from November all the way through potentially to January. And to me that that may be polarizing to partisans but that seems to me to be a pretty clear eyed assessment of where we're headed.

WILLIAMS: It being 17 minutes into Wednesday here in the East, special thanks, are in order for Phil Rucker, Mary Jordan, John Heilemann, greatly appreciate the three of you coming on with us.

Coming up the days coronavirus headlines including something of a Mea culpa, walk back from our government official. Our special coverage of the Republican National Convention continues.


E. TRUMP: This is a fight that we are in right now. And it is a fight that only my father can win.




DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: I personally could have been done better job and should have done a better job at that press conference explaining what the data is show regarding convalescent plasma. And I can assure the American people that this decision was made based upon sound science and data.


WILLIAMS: So that apology from the head of the FDA, Dr. Hahn, who now says he overstated the benefits of convalescent plasma as a coronavirus treatment. He was referring to the comments made during the President's Sunday news conference announcing the emergency use authorization for the plasma or plasma as the President calls it despite lingering questions about the effectiveness of the treatment.

So back with us again tonight Dr. Kavita Patel, clinical physician, former Senior Aide to Valerie Jarrett during the Obama years. She is now a nonresident fellow at Brookings and among our political contributors. So, Doc, after this f FDA correction, do you still fear because they're involved as well, an unproven vaccine rushed to market for political reasons, it sure is possible?

DR. KAVITA PATEL, FORMER AIDE TO VALERIE JARRETT IN THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: Yeah, absolutely, Brian. And I think you said it's really the political reasons that are the caution here. And by the way, this convalescent plasma is just one in a series of events, starting with hydroxychloroquine also getting one of those emergency use approvals, through claims and misstatements made by scientific advisors to the President about the virus testing treatment.

So it's no surprise, Brian, that people are very much calling to question legislators, doctors, scientists alike, and simply put, Dr. Hahn is a respected oncologist. And for him to make that kind of mistake. It just really it feels like -- it's just Pandora's Box and what can we do but to ask for scrutiny of the data. We must demand transparency and full view of the data around those phase three trials, the very important trials going on right now, for any vaccine that receives an emergency approval.

WILLIAMS: Anti vaxxers are already a potent force in our society. Our own experts have pointed out how they're getting an assist from the Russians on social media, if you add to their percentage of the population, doubts about the safety or effectiveness of a vaccine, we've got a real public health problem on top of a public health problem, correct?

PATEL: Yeah, absolutely. And we know that vaccine hesitancy exists, anti vaxxers as well as people for different reasons who just do not want to get a vaccine. And Brian, what's really tragic about this series of events culminating in that apology, from Hahn is that now you have people like myself who have been very clear that vaccines are safe and that I would personally take that vaccine, put a pause on that because we are doubtful of the credibility behind the very agency, which should be independent of politics. And that's historical, Brian. That's in Republican and Democratic administrations, which I've worked through. And I've never seen such level of political interference for the Food and Drug Administration.

WILLIAMS: In the meantime, testing still is not where it needs to be. We all know people who for financial reasons or availability or convenience still can't get tested despite wanting to explain this new CDC policy on testing having to do I think with people who have had exposure but are asymptomatic?

PATEL: Yeah, it's causing all of us to scratch our heads in the public health community. And we're anxiously trying to understand what data went into it because this is the very same agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which cited the large number of people that are asymptomatic and are positive for the coronavirus.

But in short, Brian, tonight like earlier today, they issued guidance that if you've been in contact with someone who is known to have COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes and closer than six feet, that you do not need a test unless you are vulnerable or a frontline worker of some type. And so -- and they don't even recommend -- what's really confusing is they don't even recommend that you self-isolate or quarantine, they just say simply that you don't need to get tested.

And one can only conclude that this might be because we've got such a long turnaround time two to three days to get results back and that those are not as useful, but it certainly is a very different move for the agency and especially just one additional point as you see universities all around the country with hundreds of cases that each place their positive. Those are asymptomatic carriers and we know that they're a source of transmission for the virus.

WILLIAMS: Two to three days in some cases if you're lucky, Dr. Kavita Patel, thank you, as always. And thanks tonight for staying up to talk with us.

Coming up to political veterans from two political parties, James Carville, Mike Murphy when we come back.


BONDI: Democrats have been lecturing America about integrity for four years while their nominee has been writing the textbook on abuse of power for 40 years. If they want to make this election a choice between who's saved in America and who's swindled in America, bring it on.




M. TRUMP: I have been moved by the way Americans have come together in such an unfamiliar and often frightening situation. It is in times like this that we will look back and tell our grandchildren the true kindness and compassion, strength and determination, we were able to restore the promise of our future.


WILLIAMS: Speaking from the Rose Garden, which she just redesigned, the First Lady tonight And that brings us to our next segment, talk to two political pros.

So back again with us tonight, James Carville, a veteran democratic strategist who rose to national fame with the Clinton presidential effort, who is cohost of the 2020 politics "War Room" podcast. And Mike Murphy, Republican strategist, co-director of the Center for the political future at the University of Southern California. He's got a podcast of his own. He is cohost of the "Hacks on Top" podcast. Gentlemen, good evening to you.

Mike, for people like you who came up in politics in a world of rules and regulations governing your behavior laws like the Hatch Act, a lot of people like you look upon tonight as the low point, the use of the grantor and the backdrop of the U.S. presidency, the House that still has scorch marks from when the Brits tried to burn it down. Still has John Adams admonition on the fireplace hearth. How did you view what happened tonight?

MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Oh, I was sickened by it as an institutionalist. You know, this isn't a South Baltimore alderman's race here. It's not a toy, it's the presidency of the United States.

And, you know, Donald Trump, the country knows now that he's a cheater, he cheats on his wives. It looks like he's been cheating on his taxes, and is now cheating the rules of an election where you have to respect the voters.

So, for everything from Pompeo's deal to the tin pot dictator routine of the Marines opening the door form, the whole thing that anybody who cares about the institution, I don't care what sides you're on RD (ph), it was it was a transgression. And it just shows you that in Trump's mind, there are no rules, there is no respect for democracy and frankly no respect for the American voter.

WILLIAMS: James, same question, and no one has to tell you when you were a campaign guy, your campaign guy, the White House staff, the West Wing staff, the East Wing staff for that matter, is walled off or is supposed to be, your reaction to using the United States presidency with no consequence in a political convention?

JAMES CARVILLE, VETERAN DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, it's good to be on with Mike Murphy (ph), haven't seen him in a while. But, look, this whole thing and in the Clinton ministration, Obama administration to Bush administration, there was a wall between the foreign policy people and the political people. And that is just been sort of traditional the whole time.

But I think what you saw from Pompeo tonight is just ongoing continuum, just breaking everything has been traditional about how the United States conduct foreign policy and how the United States current political campaigns. Remember, he tried to get the Ukrainians to do research on his political opponent.

I mean, I don't -- I'm not so appalled by what happened tonight because I just think so much has happened before that we shouldn't really be surprised by this.

WILLIAMS: But James, you not being surprised, isn't that a living breathing example of the frog boiling experiment? We are living day in and day out in this country. I mean, another way to ask it is, who do we see about this? Who will right size the country and normalize us to the quaint days of say, four years ago?

CARVILLE: A 160 million people may come out and vote this election, and they're going to have to say so. And, you know, we were all outraged and people can, you know, don't know what to think about this, but the voters are getting ready to weigh in. And I suspect they're going to weigh in rather decisively here. But this is going to be an enormous turnout election and people are going to vote in -- they're going to make a decision here, but we'll see which way it goes, but I'm optimistic it will go a good way.

WILLIAMS: Mike, do you agree with your friend from Louisiana?

MURPHY: Yes. The biggest political party in America right now is the fire Donald Trump party. You know, the great thing about democracy is you can get a million of these horrible transgressions, but the voters have the biggest sledgehammer ever made and they can crack it down hard.

I would tell my Democratic friends though, is you know, I'm a Republican voters against Trump, so, I'm renting not buying in Election Day be in for Biden. But careful about these process issues.

As much as they make folks who work in the system and respect that like me and James furious, on the kitchen tables of America. It's Trump's screwed up COVID and he ruined the economy. And if you've ever liked have a job again and not be broke, you got to fire him.

You know, let's keep it on the real issues because I love Democrats some of the time but they tend to want to give the speeding tickets and the wait a minute you cheated on Page 11 of the regulations. I get it to the meat and potatoes economy in Trump incompetence to fire him and then you can clean up this big mess this guy has created against our institutions.

WILLIAMS: And Mike, because, to take your point, do you think they hold anybody over tonight? Or do you just -- do you vote your own life and circumstance?

CARVILLE: Tonight? Look, last night was the high point at Kimberly Guilfoyle or whatever, they don't have a top down, but that they can go for years and not top that night. I mean, they're going to have to bring QE on Wednesday night to stimulate interest like she did.

The biggest complaint that I hear that people tell me to do focus groups and talk to voters is a lot of people actually thought Trump was going to do something on health care. And this is a dominant crushing issue. And if you watch that convention tonight you wouldn't know that there's a health care crisis or pandemic going on in this country.

And Mike is right, you know, and even some of the never Trumpers have to get back to more earthy issues here, and that's a criticism, I think, from both the Democratic side and the never Trump side that we can get too far into esoterica hit. And we got to realize if people really hurt, I mean, an ominous high. Health care cost is skyrocketing.

In the countries in economic banks (ph) and social banks right now. And we've got to be careful to jerk this back in and focus on that coming down the stretch.

I thought the Democratic Convention was pretty good until Biden -- I thought Biden was very good. I thought he had the most relevant speech of the entire convention, which I'm glad because it's the one that counted the most.

WILLIAMS: All right, gentlemen, don't move an inch. Our questions continue, one, on the topic of tough love. In our next segment both gentlemen have agreed to stay with us. We're back after this



BONDI: When millions of Americans voted for Donald Trump, they knew he'd be different. And he is. He's a tough, no nonsense outsider who can't be bought or intimidated.


WILLIAMS: So, still with us are our guests Mike Murphy and James Carville.

So Mike, you heard the lady from Florida. We heard the First Lady tonight say Donald Trump was an authentic person. Who's this designed to work on?

MURPHY: Well, every once in a while, these two knives they've taken kind of an awkward fling at humanizing Trump. You know, captain empathy, and it's a hard sell.

I thought Melania gave a good speech, but it had very little to do with her husband. At the end of it, I wanted to put her down as undecided on the reelection because, you know, she gives the kind of empathy speech that he can. And when Tiffany and Eric spoke, it was just the talking points of the Trump, you know, revolution, all Republican primary stuff, and not anything about any dimension to this guy. So I -- they're bad at it and it doesn't work and I don't think people believe it.

Trump's brand is kind of strength and fighting and grievance. And so the softer side of Donald things, I think fall pretty flat. And it's just striking to me that if anybody ought to be able to say something about him as a human being it ought to be as kids, but apparently the cupboard is bare.

WILLIAMS: Hey, James --


WILLIAMS: -- what brings us to the tough love portion of our broadcast, and that is some stuff the left may have to answer for. A video that was sent around all day. I've know you've seen it. Outdoor dining in the Adams Morgan section of Washington last night. They were demanding this woman who's sitting there eating her dinner, raise her fist in solidarity with them to agree that white silence is violence.

The woman happens to have marched with the Black Lives Matter because she says for weeks she felt coerced, attacked and harassed. This was a public spectacle. I saw a number of people passing this around on Twitter today with the tagline "This is how Trump wins."

Because of what the right will do with imagery like this, say nothing thing of the fact that last night in Kenosha, Wisconsin, at one point there were 40 buildings with fires burning in them, and it's not discussed all day long. And it's often not discussed in prime time. But it's the image of America that we have seen on trial this week.

CARVILLE: This is a problem. And basically they're not Democrats. I mean, who would do something like that? And you know, there are a lot of people who got a genuinely outraged for what happened, they should just criminality, no. And the, you know, this is a problem and it gets passed around.

And we should not be sympathetic to people acting like that. They have no right to go in and intrude on that woman space like that. And I'm not going to defend that at all. It's just -- it's indefensible to do something like that.

And get, in addition, to be in a health risk, getting in her face like that, good God. But what is wrong with people --

WILLIAMS: Mike, of course, it's in tolerance by --


WILLIAMS: -- it's intolerance by any other name, Mike, and of violence summary in these cities feed into the plotline we're seeing that you're just not safe.

MURPHY: Yes. Look, it is absolute high octane gasoline for a demagogue like Trump to work with. So if I were Biden, I'd start to put the race away by taking a tough line on this a little bit of Nixon to China.

You know, they put out a statement, which was fine, but I'd like to see video of Biden saying protest, yes. Peaceful, yes. Changed the world, yes, elect me, but zero tolerance for this kind of intimidation, bullying and violence.

He ought to get out there and drop that hammer and preempt Trump. You do himself a lot of good.

CARVILLE: I think he will. I think he will. Because I think Biden is outraged --

WILLIAMS: If you knew any prominent Democrats I could pick up the phone and make that call.

CARVILLE: Think a lot of mob (ph). And I don't think Biden is not at all, at all like this. So I think he is all about as anybody in the United States, I really do.

WILLIAMS: Well, this is still a moving object. James Carville, Mike Murphy, great to have you both. Thank you both for staying up with us tonight. We greatly appreciate it.

Coming up for us, the religious right front and center tonight. Charlie Sykes, who let's not forget is the man who wrote the book on "How the Right Lost Its Mind," weighs in for us next. He's standing by as our special coverage continues.


ABBY JOHNSON, ACTIVIST: This election is a choice between two radical antilife activists and the most prolife president we have ever had.




CISSIE GRAHAM LYNCH, FRANKLIN GRAHAM'S DAUGHTER: The Biden-Harris vision for America leaves no room for people of faith. Whether you're a baker, a florist, or a football coach, they will force the choice between being obedient to God or to Caesar. Because the radical left God is government power.


WILLIAMS: On the same day we heard from the granddaughter and daughter of the Reverend Billy and Franklin Graham, the scandal surrounding another of his high profile, evangelical supporters is intensifying all around Donald Trump.

Jerry Falwell, Jr. officially resigned today as president of Liberty University. Reuters was first to report "a business partner of Jerry Jr. has come forward to say he had a years long sexual relationship involving Falwell's wife and the evangelical leader."

In a statement to the Washington Examiner, Falwell admitted his wife's affair but denied any involvement in it himself.

For more, we are joined by our old friend Charlie Sykes, Founder and Editor-At-Large of the Bulwark. And let's not forget the author of "How the Right Lost Its Mind," which a book that came out while people were still trying to figure out just what it is they were seeing.

Hey, Charlie, how much of your party tonight seemed familiar to you?

CHARLIE SYKES, THE BULWARK FOUNDER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, it's not my party anymore. But you know, when you're talking about how the right lost its mind, this convention really does seem to codify the Republican Party's abandonment of any ideas or policies or ideology, and it's become really a cult of personality. And I think that was on display last night and certainly on display again tonight.

WILLIAMS: We're talking about the problems for Trump because of the problems that have blown up Mr. Falwell's life. I want to play for you and remind our audience some of what Donald Trump has said about this individual. We'll talk about it on the other side.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Evangelicals like Donald Trump, they like Donald Trump.

And you know, Jerry Falwell Jr, who's an incredible guy from Liberty University, he endorsed me.

Jerry Falwell, Jr. has had so much to do with my success with the evangelicals.


WILLIAMS: Charlie, where does this leave Donald Trump?

SYKES: Well, by the way, he's absolutely right about that. Jerry Falwell, Jr. was crucial in that remarkable shift of evangelicals behind Donald Trump. And their decision, that personal character didn't matter that much anymore.

So, where does that leave Donald Trump? Where does that leave evangelical Christianity which has made this Gaussian bargain with Donald Trump when they decided that the access to power was more important than the content of their fate?

So, I -- you would like to think that people would be repelled by this, that this would have an effect, but no. Look, if you've gone so far as to support Donald Trump to be the president of the United States, the role model in chief, you've obviously also signaled that you're prepared to sacrifice a lot of other values. And I think we'll look back on this, though, and we'll see this as is really kind of addictive of what's happened to the Christian right. And how this this lust for power has corrupted both our politics and unfortunately our fate.

WILLIAMS: How do you answer it when people ask you what happened to the party? We have no platform this year, just the one guy. How has this one guy been able to exert this personal hold over all these elected officials think about Republicans in the Senate, who have just signed over their seats, their voting records, all they are in hope to be, is it all out of fear that he might tweet about them?

SYKES: You know, there is obviously a certain amount of fear and we've talked about this for the last four years, but it's still remarkable, you know. And they're afraid of him because of what's happened to the party at a deeper level.

Look, Donald Trump is transforming the Republican Party. There's no question about it that that's on display this week. But also the Republican Party's dysfunction was a preexisting condition. Otherwise, you wouldn't have had Donald Trump.

And I think this has been coming for a lot longer than guys like me would like to admit. I think it does indicate how radicalized the party had become, how hollowed out it become, how vulnerable it would become to propaganda and to conspiracy theories. And I think that when we look back on all of this, well, we are looking back on all of this.

I think we're going to have to come to grips with how badly broken the party was even before Trump. Because you know, Brian, would Donald Trump leaves office, the Republican Party is just not going to snap back to sanity and normality. It's not going to get rid of the crazies, it's not going to be able to shed all of the things that it has exposed about itself over the last four years.

WILLIAMS: What happens in the event of a Trump loss? Who gets to decide the design of what is formed from the ashes? And while it will be entertaining to watch, Republican elected officials saying, hey, that wasn't me, I made my criticisms known privately. It's also going to be sad knowing who was complicit this whole time.

SYKES: Yes, I honestly don't know. But I think that we got to be prepared for Trump and Trumpism to be a force and a factor in Republican politics for a long time. I don't think he's going anywhere. I don't think his supporters are going anywhere.

And I don't want to leave on a really depressing note, but believe he loses. There's nothing that blocked him from running again in four years. And if you think that that's implausible, ask yourself what Republican would run against him in the primary and would be able to beat him in 2024.

So, you know, look, my position on this, my feelings about this is basically look, the house is burning down right now. And let's put out the fire. Let's deal with the crisis and we'll worry about the redecorating later. It's very difficult to predict what's going to happen and a lot depends on obviously whether Donald Trump loses, which is not a sure thing, and how badly he loses.

Obviously, the Republican Party is going to react very differently to a landslide defeat, rather than to a very close defeat, which Donald Trump will of course insist was the result of fraud.

WILLIAMS: I think that's exactly the kind of thing our viewers need to hear. And Charlie Sykes, thank you for coming on. Thank you for saying it. Good to see you.

And that's going to do it for our broadcast tonight. Thank you for being here with us. Our special coverage of the Republican National Convention night two continues right after this quick break.



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