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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, September 1, 2020

Guests: Donna Edwards, Michael Osterholm


President Donald Trump has visited Kenosha, Wisconsin, to back law enforcement after the police shooting of a black man sparked civil strife. Protests continue in Portland and Los Angeles. Trump and allies seek to turn violence at protests to his advantage. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is leading President Trump across six key battleground states.


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Jacob Blake Sr. gets tonight's LAST WORD. Jacob Blake, thank you very, very much for joining us tonight and sharing what you and your family are going through. And attorney Benjamin Crump, thank you for joining us. We always appreciate your input here. That is Tonight's LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, once again. I'm Steve Kornacki in for Brian Williams who has the night off. Day 1,321 of the Trump administration and 63 days to go now until the Presidential Election.

Donald Trump took his law in order campaign message to Kenosha, Wisconsin today. This nine days after a police officer shot an unarmed 29 year old African American man, Jacob Blake seven times in the back.

The President along with Attorney General William Barr, and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf toward areas damaged during the unrest that followed the shooting. The President and Jacob Blake's family did not meet. His focus was largely on supporting law enforcement in a key battleground state.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: These are not acts of peaceful protest but really domestic terror. Reckless far left politicians continue to push the destructive message that our nation and our law enforcement are oppressive or racist.

You may have protesters, but you have some really bad people too. You have anarchists and you have the looters and you have the rioters. You have all types, you have agitators.


KORNACKI: Wisconsin's Democratic Governor in Kenosha, his Mayor had urged the President not to make today's trip. During a meeting with other local officials, Trump defended police officers and promised more funding for law enforcement while rejecting suggestions of systemic racism. And he continued an analogy that he first made last night when he compared the police shooting of Jacob Blake to a golfer who quote chokes when missing a critical shot.


TRUMP: And you have people that joke, they're under tremendous. I said it yesterday I said it last night. They were under tremendous pressure. And they may be there for 15 years and -- and if they make a wrong decision one way or the other they're either dead, or they're in big trouble. And people have to understand that. They choke sometimes. And it's a very tough situation.

The police do an incredible job. And I think you do have some bad apples. And you do have the other the situation too where they're under this tremendous pressure and they don't handle it well. They call it choking. And it happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe systemic racism is a problem in this country?

TRUMP: Well, you know, just keep getting back to the opposite subject. We should talk about the kind of violence that we've seen in Portland and here. You could take the people of Kenosha that aren't here and that you won't see and that aren't protesting, but they want change. Also, they want to see law and order.


KORNACKI: The President also claimed credit for the deployment of the National Guard in Kenosha. He's been publicly goading leaders in various cities and states to call up the guard. And that was a step that Wisconsin's Governor Tony Evers took as the unrest broke out early last week later, calling in additional support. The President did not mention Jacob Blake during his visit. He is still hospitalized and said to be unable to walk. Today, Blake's family joined community leaders in a series of events near the scene of the shooting.


JUSTIN BLAKE, JACOB BLAKE'S UNCLE: And I'm sucking up all the pain we have just to stand on our square to we get justice for little Jake, which means we get an indictment and a conviction of the man who shot him seven times in the back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you want to tell the President today?

J. BLAKE: We don't have any words for the orange man. All I ask is that he keep his -- disrespect his foul language far away from our family.


KORNACKI: And this afternoon, Trump was asked if he had anything to say to Blake's family.


TRUMP: I feel terribly for anybody that goes through that. I didn't get to speak to the mother. I hear she's a fine woman. If we can help we're going to help but it is a question. It's under investigation. A lot of things happened with that and other things, frankly, that we're looking at very, very closely.


KORNACKI: Protests continued in Portland last night. There was some property destruction and at one point, police declared it a riot. And there were demonstrations in Los Angeles after police shot and killed a black man in that city. Authorities there are saying the shooting occurred after the man punched an officer and dropped a bundle that included a gun.

The President is now insisting these types of protests were never meant to be peaceful. Last night on Fox News, Trump said he'd been told about people who he called "thugs" on a plane dressed in black flying to places to disrupt events like last week's Republican convention. Before leaving the White House for Wisconsin today Trump was asked about that story.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us more about this plot that you were referring to on Fox News last night?

TRUMP: Which I could probably refer you to the person and they could do it. I'd like to ask that person who it's OK but a person who was on a plane said that there were about six people like that person more or less. And what happened is the entire plane filled up with the looters, the anarchists, the rioters, people that obviously were looking for trouble. And the person felt very uncomfortable in the plane. This was a first handicap of a plane going from Washington to wherever. And I'll see if I can get that information for you. Maybe they'll speak to you maybe they won't.


KORNACKI: Tonight a Trump campaign official was pressed about the supposed plot, but was an unable to shed much light.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have all the information that the President has. Someone is organizing these trips. Someone is transporting these people from other states into these other cities.


KORNACKI: NBC News reports that this new Trump claim is nearly identical to a rumor that went viral on Facebook three months ago, and that there is no evidence of any such flight.

Today we also learned Facebook has removed several fake accounts and pages said to be created by Russian operatives. Facebook says they recruited American journalists to write articles critical of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, in an effort to undermine support among liberal voters. And there is yet another controversy fueled today by the President. It's bringing renewed scrutiny to his health. This morning, Trump posted this message. "Now they are trying to say that your favorite president, me, went to Walter Reed Medical Center, having suffered a series of mini-strokes, never happened to this candidate, fake news."

White House physician Sean Conley then issued a statement saying the President has not had any strokes. The administration later told NBC News that Trump had been referring to a tweet from former President Bill Clinton's press secretary then press secretary during his administration, Joe Lockhart, who had raised the possibility of strokes. That was in response to a new account about Trump's mysterious November 2019 visit to Walter Reed Medical Center.

A new book by New York Times Reporter Michael Schmidt does not mention strokes. But does say in the hours leading up to that unscheduled Medical Center visit the Vice President Mike Pence was put on standby in case Trump was put under anesthesia. This evening, Pence was asked about that day.


MIKE PENCE, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: President Donald Trump is in excellent health. It was nothing out of the ordinary about that moment or that day. And I just refer to the other questions to the White House physician. But as far as being on standby, I don't I don't recall being told to be on standby.


KORNACKI: And another item as well, earlier tonight, the author of a new book about the First Lady confirmed to Rachel Maddow that there are recordings of conversations she had with her former close friend Melania Trump. Stephanie Winston Wolkoff said she began recording after she was accused of mismanaging inauguration funds.


STEPHANIE WINSTON WOLKOFF, AUTHOR, "MELANIA AND ME & FORMER MELANIA TRUMP SR. ADVISER: Melania and the White House had accused me of criminal activity and publicly shamed and fired me and made me their scapegoat. At that moment in time, that's when I pressed record. She was no longer my friend. And she was willing to let them take me down. And she told me herself. That is what that -- this is the way it has to be.

She was advised by the attorneys at the White House, that there was no other choice because there was a possible investigation, is the presidential inauguration committee. And that's how you treat a friend.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Are you saying this, Wolkoff, that at that point, you decided in order to protect yourself that you would make recordings of some of your conversations with the First Lady or that you did?

WOLKOFF: I did, Rachel. I did.


KORNACKI: And she went on to say that the recordings would likely be released in an upcoming report. And tonight The Washington Post is reporting that Melania Trump has used private email accounts while in the White House according to the First Lady's former colleague and friend.

Here for our leadoff discussion on a Tuesday night, Ashley Parker, Pulitzer Prize Winning White House Reporter for The Washington Post, Jeremy Bash, Former Chief of Staff at the CIA in the Pentagon and Former Chief Counsel to the House Intelligence Committee, and Donna Edwards, former Democratic Member of Congress, and now a Washington Post Columnist.

Thanks to all of you for being with us. Appreciate it. Ashley, let me start with you on the run up to Trump's visit to Kenosha today. We just went through what his day looked like. There was a lot of discussion, a lot of speculation, and I think some conflicting reports that emerged at various times about whether he would meet with Jacob Blake's family, whether there had been outreach on that front, whether the family might be open to it. Was that ever something that was a possibility here and how did it evolved to what we saw today?

ASHLEY PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, the President's focus was never on Jacob Blake or his family. He was not going here in the traditional role of presidents as a sort of healer in chief that you might expect in these moments. He was going here to press a political advantage. He believes he holds over Joe Biden when it comes to the civil unrest, roiling these cities, where time after time, often an unarmed black man is shot, sometimes in the back as it was the case of Jacob Blake by a white police officer. And the President does believe that what you see these protests and these riots, the looting, there were fires in Kenosha, that he can go there and use that to establish himself as a strong leader and press a lot in order message.

So yes, you are right. There were some conflicting accounts about who in the White House was trying to reach out to who, in Jacob Blake's family if they reached out to his family pastor, then it came out he didn't have a family pastor, perhaps his mother had a pastor. But again, I think the important context is that that was never the goal of the trip. The goal of the trip is what we saw from the President, which was to stand there with law enforcement offer solidarity and support to law enforcement, support to local businesses and establish himself as tough on law and order and he hopes contrast to Joe Biden.

KORNACKI: So on that front end the political imperative for the President in his in his reelection campaign specifically in Wisconsin always talking about this as a must win state for Trump. There's this from Politico, they say in Wisconsin they reporting here, that prediction that those put off by the protest will embrace Trump hasn't yet been supported by the polling or in conversations with pollsters and operatives here to Wisconsinites, after such a tense, violent summer the protesters might look bad, but Trump and his law and order supporters don't look much better.

Donna Edwards, that's from Politico. There is a poll from morning console today that puts the Wisconsin race at nine. There's a poll from before a Kenosha they put it at four from Marquette Law, which is sort of the gold standard pollster in that state. Here's my question to you is, how confident are you that Democrats, the Biden campaign, that Republicans, the Trump campaign, that anyone has a firm handle on the politics of how something like this is shaking out in Wisconsin and other places like it?

DONNA EDWARDS, (D) MARYLAND FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: I'm not confident in any of that. And especially in the polling, I mean, we've seen that it's been problematic in the past. Look, I think the important thing is that over the course of this last week, what we saw and we saw yesterday was Joe Biden, the former vice president getting out there and being out front really calling on the president to do something that he has done, which is to try to calm the waters to try to make sure that to ensure peace and that now we validate peaceful protest and that we hold accountable those who are acting in violence.

And I think even today, we saw that the President of the United States, even as he was in Kenosha, Wisconsin could not even acknowledge Jacob Blake and the tragedy that happened to him and even to acknowledge this -- the concept of systemic racism, which virtually everyone is seeing now, and especially with the systematic shooting of unarmed black men and women, Jacob Blake seven times in the back. I mean, even the President has to understand that there's something awry there. And he wasn't even able to acknowledge that. And so when I look at polling in Wisconsin, I say to Democrats, hold your fire and keep up the work because we know that there's a long road ahead and the President is no stranger to stoking chaos and confusion.

KORNACKI: Jeremy Bash, we mentioned overnight in Portland last night, a riot was declared. There's this been sort of an ongoing situation there for a few months now. You know, we talk so much about protest -- peaceful protests that often play out during the day, but Portland's one of those places where it's been a very different story at night. That seems to be sort of the type of thing that Trump is trying to play up here politically set himself in opposition to say the Democrats are being weak on. Meantime, the President and as we've seen this week, when he's got his supporters driving through firing off paintball guns is the reporting as it. You've got him encouraging them on Twitter. This situation we are talking about on the show last night, the situation we're seeing in Portland and many other cities, really a sensitive one. What would it take to turn the volume down on that right now? And do you think that can happen before the election?

JEREMY BASH, FORMER, CIA CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, I think the right approach is the approach that the Biden team has come out with which if you look at the Biden team's new ad tonight called, Be Not Afraid. You have quotes from Biden's speech in Pittsburgh in which he quotes scripture. He quotes the Pope. He's clearly appealing to moderates. He's clearly appealing to a centrist notion, a notion steeped in faith that we can come together and that this stoking of violence on all sides, including the looters, including the property destroyers, including those who are engaging in violence in the streets should be repudiated. And so too should the president come forward and repudiate those who are firing on protesters and those who are stoking his violence.

And I think we just have to pause here, Steve, and note that the President interrupt Kenosha said one of the most racially divisive things a president has ever said. He said that shooting an unarmed black man getting into a car with his children seven times in the back was akin to missing play (ph) golf. Don't be me, rats. I had a bad day. I missed a golf but don't be me rats. I had a bad day I shot a black man in the back seven times as a gun to the curb his children. How racially insensitive can the President of the United States get? Is this his playbook. He wants to divide people. And I think, you know, it's up to voters not to let him get away with that.

KORNACKI: Ashley, I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you about some of what we were reminiscing there in the opening with the President's tweets today regarding his health. Again, he said this was driven by Joe Lockhart Bill Clinton's old press secretary speculating about strokes. And the President saying no, no, no series of mini strokes apparently in the last 30 minutes or so. He's tweeted again on this subject. So he's really through his tweets amplified whatever Lockhart was saying there. You've had statements from the White House on this today. Can you shed any light about what's going on there? As the matter of health on one hand, but there's also just a matter of what is going on in the White House right now when it comes to this subject?

PARKER: This is purely driven by the President. The President, as we discussed earlier, had a trip to Kenosha that his team believed was a good trip and a good message for him. And he overshadowed as he often does that trip, that message by becoming obsessed with something that was not even on cable news that was basically that was not reported. It was not in Michael Schmidt's very good book, but the idea of mini strokes was not in the book. It was a single tweet by a former press secretary under Bill Clinton. The President saw it. He got obsessed with it. He had his White House put out a statement from his physician, he tweeted about it again. And he is the one who purely injected it in into the media today. And it's also worth noting there's more than a little hypocrisy complaining about speculation of his health. Speculation about someone's health when you're not a medical doctor is of course irresponsible. But that is exactly what President Trump did in 2016 about Hillary Clinton, and it's exactly what he's doing this time about Vice President Joe Biden. So you're seeing here a President who doesn't seem to be able to handle a dose of his own medicine.

KORNACKI: And Jeremy Bash, we also mentioned there in that lead, the news about Facebook today about Russia is well apparently trying to recruit journalists, recruit folks with some sort of platform here to try to sow discord on the left. Again, echoes direct sort of parallels to what we were talking about in the 2016 campaign.

BASH: We're going to see this over and over again, Steve. The Russians are coming in favor of Donald Trump. Intelligence community assessed that the Russian Federation is going to engage once again in a campaign to benefit Donald Trump in this election. And again, I think we've got to have our Department of Homeland Security, our intelligence community and all the state election officials on high alert for this Russia interference once again, in 2020.

KORNACKI: And Donna Edwards, again, we -- the backdrop here for Trump's visit to Kenosha, we're talking about it Democrats, Joe Biden with that speech yesterday, trying to shore up his credentials on the subjects that Donald Trump's now attacking on. Has Biden sufficiently fortified himself there?

EDWARDS: Well, I mean, I do think that his speech yesterday in Pittsburgh really grounded his campaign. I mean it's very clear that Joe Biden came out of the Democratic Convention with people feeling very favorably about him. No one believes that he's out there stoking violence. I do believe that about President and I think the important thing for Joe Biden is to continue when he needs to, to meet Trump head-to-head when it comes to this contest over who is going to preserve peace, who's going to make sure that all of our citizens voices are heard. And he's going to do that in a way that doesn't inflame and doesn't antagonize, and I think no one would conclude that Donald Trump would be that kind of President and I think Joe Biden demonstrated by his -- in his speech, but continues to demonstrate in his manner, that he will be a president who really leads on these issues, and can be counted on. And so I think that the Biden campaign is right on target here, but they can't take their eye off of the prize.

KORNACKI: All right, Donna Edwards, Jeremy Bash, Ashley Parker, thank you all for being with us. I appreciate that.

And coming up, another indication the U.S. may be going it alone in the rush for a workable vaccine for the coronavirus. And later going over to the big board, history was made in Massachusetts tonight in a Democratic primary. We're going to take a look at that and the presidential election, just nine weeks away. THE 11TH HOUR, just getting started on a Tuesday night.



ADM. BRETT GIROIR, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION'S CORONAVIRUS TESTING CZAR: It's great to talk about this utopian kind of idea where everybody has a test every day and we can do that. I don't live in a utopian world. I live in the real world. We can return to society without having everyone have a test every single day. You know, we can do that and we're showing you can do that.


KORNACKI: That was President Trump's Coronavirus Testing Czar responding to a question about when rapid tests will become widely available.

Meantime the CDC continues to face backlash for changing its guidance and downplaying the need to test asymptomatic patients. The headline of a New York Times Op-Ed says this. "It has come to this ignore the CDC that was co authored by a former NIH Director." And the article reads this as well. The CDC, the federal agency that should be crushing the pandemic is promoting policies that prolong it. That means that local state and organizational leaders will have to do what the federal government won't.

Michael Osterholm is a Professor and the Director of the Center for Infectious Disease and Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He is also the co author of the recent book, Deadliest Enemy: Our War against Killer Germs.

Thank you, sir, for joining us. I appreciate it. Let me just ask you about this question of testing guidelines. The idea of trying to return to some form of normal life here before there's a vaccine. What's a reasonable threshold do you think for our country right now, when it comes to this question of who should be getting tested and how often and in what circumstances?

DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Well, you know, Steve, this is obviously a very critical question. But I think there's even a more fundamental question that we have to ask first. How many Americans even believe that this pandemic is happening? We're seeing a growing number of individuals who just flaunt the fact that they're in large crowds there without mask, they believe, in fact that what we're seeing right now is a hoax. And you can do all the testing you want. And if you have a certain segment of your population, and particularly a large segment, that don't believe it's even a real problem, testing is not going to get you out of it.

We need someone at the top to tell us why we need to respond to this pandemic, and how to do it with authority and public health principles in the background. That's the only way we're going to get through these with or without testing.

KORNACKI: Given what you just said, what do you see on the horizon? There's been so much talk that it probably a few months from now, as the weather really starts to turn, there's been all this talk about a second wave. What do you see on the short-term horizon?

OSTERHOLM: Well, I think we've got some really tough days ahead of us. First of all, we're -- I'm sitting here in the Midwest right now, where the states of Minnesota, Iowa, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, are all basically in a stage that it was not that dissimilar from what we saw in Florida, Georgia and Texas several weeks before it blew in those states. And we're very concerned that we may be the next hot spot.

Number two is the fact that with schools, colleges, universities all opening right now, we're going to see a major number of cases occur in all of our state's law as a result of that. We spill over then occurring into those other individuals in the community who work with or live near these individuals. Then, combine that with the cold weather season coming to us. And we're going to do be breathing more indoor air. We know this virus is much more efficiently transmitted. And it doesn't look good. And that's why we have to understand why we've taken precautions we do. We do -- while testing is part of that it's about distancing. It's about not having these big parties. Here in our state alone, we've investigated more than 50 some bar outbreaks, largely associated with young adults, some of them with very large numbers of cases. That's the kind of thing that I talked about in a moment ago, is until the public believes this is a problem. There's only a limited amount that we can do in public health.

KORNACKI: Also this as we talk so much about the race for a vaccine, The Washington Post reporting about one particular global effort here, international effort involving the World Health Organization, the United States they report will not participate, in part because the White House does not want to work with the WHO which President Trump has criticized over what he has characterized as it's China's centric response to the pandemic. Talk, if you will a little bit about what this effort is, and what it means for the United States not to be a part of it, both to the folks engaged in it and to us?

OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, remember there are over 8.4 billion people on the face of the Earth right now, all of them vulnerable in one way or another to this virus. The United States has 330 million of that, that's all. How the rest of the world goes will determine in part how the pandemic ultimately still affects the United States. And if we're only going to take care of our own, countries like China and Russia will take care of the rest of the world and help them with their vaccine issues.

Health diplomacy, the ability to outreach to countries based on health, and helping them with the most fundamental aspects of public health has been by far the most effective diplomacy we've ever had. That's how you win friends. That's how you are able to show the world, the leader that you are. And if we're going to shut off the rest of the world from responding to this pandemic and helping them with vaccine, when we surely could possibly do that, that is the biggest mistake I can imagine.

So from a health diplomacy standpoint, if we're not helping these other countries of the world who don't have the manufacturing capacity, who don't have access to vaccines like this, then we really are cutting off our nose to spite ourselves. We'll pay a price for that down the road.

KORNACKI: All right, Michael Osterholm, thank you for joining us. Really appreciate that.

OSTERHOLM: Thank you, Steve.

KORNACKO: All right, and coming up, the decades old streak. It gives one goes all the way back basically to World War II and it just came to a crashing end. Going to the big board to break down what happened in Massachusetts with THE 11TH HOUR continues.



SEN. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We asked what we could do for our country. We went out. We did it. With all due respect, it's time to start asking what your county can do for you.


KORNACKI: If I had told you that that ad ran in a Massachusetts Democratic primary, a candidate taking the words of John F. Kennedy, and completely inverting them to try to defeat a Kennedy for generations now that would have been an absolutely politically suicidal move. And yet tonight, look at this Ed Markey, who ran that ad, who took JFK's words who said no, it's the opposite. He has defeated a Kennedy in Massachusetts. This is officially AP is called this. Joe Kennedy has called Ed Markey to concede Ed Markey incumbent senator who was challenged by Joe Kennedy. Ed Markey has held off that challenge. He's won. He's won comfortably tonight.

What happened here in Massachusetts? Remember at the start of this campaign about a year ago here, Joe Kennedy said he was running, he was going to try to defeat Ed Markey. Kennedy went into this the big favorite, a Kennedy in Massachusetts, basically, before now entered every race as a favorite.

Well, Ed Markey did a couple of things that resulted in this tonight. And as we look at the results across Massachusetts, we see it number one, Ed Markey aligns himself very, very strongly, very, very forcefully with the Green New Deal with climate change efforts. He got an endorsement from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and result from that and from moves like that Ed Markey, one thing you see when you look at the map in Massachusetts tonight, he is cleaning up in college towns. He is cleaning up in places is where there are young voters.

If you think back to the presidential primaries, and you think of the types of voters and the types of places where Bernie Sanders did best, that's exactly what Ed Markey is doing there in Massachusetts tonight. He's performing very well in those places.

But he also did something else, something that if you think back to the presidential primaries, maybe Bernie Sanders wasn't able to do, something that held Sanders back in the primaries, but Markey in Massachusetts was able to do and if you look at one bedroom community after another, one suburb after another, we've got that sort of professional class, white collar suburban night.

Those places overwhelmingly going for Ed Markey tonight over Joe Kennedy, the types of voters, the types of places I'm describing in the presidential primary are the types of places where Elizabeth Warren did the best.

And so what you're seeing here in this Ed Markey coalition is he put together Sanders and Warren in Massachusetts, he kind of fused those two coalitions together. And it resulted in this primary in a strong majority. Joe Kennedy was left with he had strength, Fall River, he had strengthened Springfield, he had strengthened some of the older cities of Massachusetts, but not enough, nearly enough to win this thing.

In fact, I was just looking. The results have come in from the city of Boston, Ed Markey won Boston. He won it overwhelmingly tonight. So a Kennedy loses in Massachusetts. The backdrop for this, of course, we were showing you this all day to day, you know, since JFK launched his political career, the PT one on the high boat hero after World War II, JFK was undefeated in Massachusetts Democratic primaries. So was Ted. So was Joe Kennedy II coming into tonight. So was Joe Kennedy III.

I mean, this is a dynasty. 26 wins spanning generations of Massachusetts democratic politics, not a single loss and one of those Massachusetts Democratic primaries until tonight. Joe Kennedy III, you can update it, you can see it that's the first lost. The first ever lost in a democratic primary for a Kennedy in Massachusetts. Didn't matter from in terms of control the Senate, the Democrats going to be heavily favored in this race in the fall, no matter who won tonight, but from a historic standpoint, it's a big deal. Kennedy just lost in Massachusetts. Some people thought they'd never see that.

Coming up, nine weeks from tonight. Be right back here with election night results. Some of the signals we're seeing tonight, about November 3, when THE 11TH HOUR continues.



TRUMP: The fact is that we've seen tremendous violence and we will put it out very, very quickly if given the chance and that's what this is all about.

Yes, I keep hearing about peaceful protests. I hear it about everything and then I come into an area like this and I see the town is burned down.


KORNACKI: As the president ramps up his message of law and order. David Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report writes that Trump is going after some of Biden's supporters, quote, Trump and Republicans have settled on recasting Biden as a Trojan horse for the radical left, who would promote lawlessness and disorder abolish the suburbs and crash stock markets.

It's an admission that Trump needs to distract attention away from voters top concern, COVID-19. And Trump's rhetorical fuselages against Democrat run cities are a tale of a fall strategy heavy on pumping up his base from 2016 small town working class whites.

And here with us Beth Fouhy, Senior Politics Editor for MSNBC and NBC News and Philip Rucker Pulitzer Prize winning White House bureau chief for The Washington Post, also the co-author along with his colleague Carol Leonnig of the best selling book, "A Very Stable Genius."

Thanks to both of you for being here. Philip, let me start with you. Wasserman in that piece we just read describing a bit of the strategy, the political strategy that's at work here. What is your sense of the world around Trump right now? Their confidence level, if we polls we show him all the time. He's trailing in the polls, you can question the exact amount there, but he's trailing in the polls. Are they confident that they're on the right track here that this is going to work or is doubt seeping in at all?

PHILIP RUCKER, THE WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: You know, they are Steve, there's been a notable difference in the last 10 days or so in the way. Trump's advisors and outside allies have talked about this race. They, of course, acknowledge that he has been behind Biden in the polls for many months now. But they feel like they've hit on a message that's going to end up working for the President.

You just talked about it. They're trying to focus on disorder and upheaval and unrest in some of these major cities that are run by Democrats in portray that somehow as the responsibility of Joe Biden even though of course Donald Trump is the sitting President and is the country that he is leading right now.

But nonetheless, Trump's advisors know if this election is a referendum on the President's management of the coronavirus pandemic, and a referendum on the president more generally. That is not a good election for Donald Trump. And so they're trying to come up with ways to frame this race and voters minds more on Joe Biden, and the policies that he represents and the other leaders in the Democratic Party.

KORNACKI: Every election has its own surprises and often they pop up on election night and then suddenly we realized there was something there the whole time that we didn't know I had thinking in 2016. One of those things, Beth, was it was the support Trump had from rural white voters. We look in the polling it's white voters without a college degree. It wasn't just how big his lead was with that grid -- those group of voters, it was what the turnout levels were in some place. Just massive off the charts turnout from working class white voters in a lot of places. It's something Democrats. You saw the speech from Biden this week. Democrats think they can eat into a little bit here. I guess my question to you is, well, how confident should the Biden campaign be that giving speeches like he gave this week, will be able to address the imperative there? Or are there uncertainties around this that, frankly, we might not know till Election Day?

BETH FOUHY, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR: Well, from what we've seen so far, Joe Biden and his team really want to refocus this election back on to the President's management or mismanagement, if you will, of the COVID crisis. Joe Biden speech yesterday, did a pretty good job of that, saying that, in fact, not only is it President Trump, who's been fanning the flames of division around the urban unrest that we've been seeing it flips -- flipping it back to him rather than saying somehow Biden is responsible.

He also said the President has looked his start -- has made us look weak has made the country look weak, in large part because of his mismanagement of COVID. That's probably an effective message, Steve, because let's face it, suburban voters, those ones that Trump's team is trying to peel away at. They're scared of things. Sure, but they're probably way more scared of what's going to happen if they or their family members get sick with COVID than they are of a -- of something that may be going on in a city many thousands of miles away.

Like let's think about Wisconsin where he was today. Wisconsin has seen 82,000 cases of COVID. So far, they've had 1,100 deaths. We didn't hear any mention of that from President Trump. He just kind of wants to push the whole thing away. President Trump's going in North Carolina tomorrow. They've had 170,000 cases there.

So if President, excuse me, Vice President Biden can continuously remind voters that that's the true danger facing this country. And not these isolated incidences of protesting and rioting that have gotten out of hand. It's very hard for me to see how President Trump combats that.

KORNACKI: Well, Phil, what do you hear from the White House an interest folks are again around the president who are looking at the same things we're talking about. What do you hear from them on that in terms of, you know, look, if there's a flare up a further flare up, I should say of COVID. In the fall, if we get one of those situations where it's spiking in some pretty significant places, I mean, it's something they're expecting. Is it something -- what do they say about that?

RUCKER: Well, they definitely realize that a flare up this fall and into the winter, which is something by the way, that the CDC Director Robert Redfield has predicted and a number of other public health officials have talked about as a very real possibility that if that were to occur, that could hurt the president politically, but his advisors are looking for ways to change the psychology around the coronavirus pandemic.

So, understanding that COVID is probably going to be with us for many more months to come. It's there's other things that the White House in the federal government can do to make Americans feel more secure about the virus being out there to give people hope that a vaccine is coming very soon, even if it may not be coming. As soon as the president is proclaiming, are there other ways to make people feel safer going about their daily routines and therefore less concerned about the pandemic and may perhaps more likely to elect Trump to a second term.

That's what they're banking on. But the polling we have seen certainly shows that the majority of American people are very concerned about COVID and are not necessarily buying all of the happy talk, at least right now.

KORNACKI: You know, Beth, to when we look at this messaging from the Trump campaign we think so much about Wisconsin, obviously, is the one we're talking about. But it's those three Midwest states, it's Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, maybe even the Trump campaign, you know, talks about making a move in Minnesota very similar demographics, may be thinking a similar message could give them make up some ground in all of those states.

But again, I look at some of the -- and have some polling up on the screen here. This is from Morning Consult. Look at the one at the top of that list there, Arizona, and there's a state that Donald Trump won in 2016 and traditionally Republican state in the swing voters you're talking about an Arizona demographically are different than the swing voters you're talking about in Michigan or Wisconsin or Minnesota and it raises the question of the efforts that Trump is making in those Midwest states. If they help him in those states, does that progress potentially come at the expense of a state like Arizona for him?

FOUHY: It does sort of feel that way, doesn't it, Steve? I mean, obviously, he's trying to thread the same exact needle that he threaded in 2016. That very tiny, narrow win that he got in those three states that he flipped that had been under democratic -- had gone for Democrats for two decades. Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.

But you're right, the Sun Belt is changing. Arizona is changing. Georgia is changing. These are states were the suburbs are growing, where educated people are living in those suburbs. They're responding to different kinds of messages.

Let's also remember that Arizona has had perhaps one of the worst experiences with COVID of any state their governor is a very pro Trump guy who sort of followed the President's admonition to not take the virus so seriously. They went through a terrible time of this. And in the summer, there's a lot of elderly people who live in Arizona as well who are very frightened of COVID.

So there's a lot of things going on in Arizona demographically, that number one show the shift from 2016, but also show why Trump's vulnerabilities have grown in a place like that. And it really comes down to his response to COVID.

KORNACKI: All right, Beth Fouhy and Philip Rucker, thank you both for being with us. Appreciate that.

RUCKER: Thank you.

KORNACKI: And coming up with the first day of school looks like on the other side of the world. And in a city that was once the epicenter of the pandemic. Richard Engel brings us that report when THE 11TH HOUR continues.


KORNACKI: Here in the United States, New York City officials are delaying the start of school for a few more weeks. And some other schools have been sending students back home almost immediately after letting them in.

But in the original epicenter of the pandemic, kids today returned to the classroom. NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel reports on what, excuse me, Wuhan, China and other countries are doing differently.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Wuhan in China, the original epicenter of the coronavirus 1.4 million children went back to school today in masks passing through infrared scanners to check their body temperature. The city ramping up testing capacity in case of a spike.

In May, officials tested this entire city of 11 million in just three weeks.

In France, President Manuel Macron took to Instagram to warn children the virus is still out there and to take precautions. Children 11 and up and teachers and staff are also required to wear masks in the classrooms

In the United Kingdom, no masks in the classroom, the education system deeming them to have a negative impact on teaching.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In between all your fingers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's always going to be that worry. But then life has to go on so we back together.

ENGEL: Masks are recommended in hallways and communal areas and British children are divided into what are called bubbles where they can interact freely. If a student test positive, the whole bubble goes into quarantine.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had COVID has been saying missing school outweighs the COVID risk.





ENGEL: Many different approaches no perfect answers. In Africa most schools remain closed. In Germany schools reopened last month, but several had to shut because of outbreaks. Richard Engel, NBC News, London.


KORNACKI: And there's more 11TH HOUR just ahead.


KORNACKI: And as we close tonight we repeat the top story in politics tonight in election surprise in Massachusetts, although by the end it wasn't a surprise. Ed Markey, United States Senator Ed Markey defeats handily, Congressman Joe Kennedy III in a primary for United States Senate. Kennedy had been challenging Markey. He went into the races the heavy favorite. Markey comes out though a 10-point victor. The first ever loss for Kennedy in a Massachusetts Democratic primary. They say if you live long enough, you'll see everything. We saw that tonight.

That's our broadcast on tonight. On behalf of all my colleagues at the networks of NBC News, good night.


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