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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, August 13, 2020

Guests: Cory Booker, Aaron Gordon, Dana Nessel, Natasha Bertrand, Catherine Troisi


President Trump, in an interview today, admits he is refusing to fund the USPS to block mail-in voting. Interview with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) about President Trump's effort to sabotage mail-in voting. Today, Michael Cohen released the foreword of his memoir titled Disloyal. The New York Times is out today with a new analysis of Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. that concludes the real death toll from the Coronavirus has already surpassed 200,000 people.


WILLIAM RHODEN, SPORTS JOURNALIST: You've got all these young black players in an industry that is overwhelmingly white. The coaching staffs are white.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: That's right.

RHODEN: The athletic -- I mean, so (INAUDIBLE) doing all these heavy lifting so they can support the softball team.

REID: Absolutely. Jemele Hill, William C. Rhoden, thank you guys very much. I really appreciate you all. And that is tonight's REIDOUT. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now. Thank you.


ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. The President of the United States is actively sabotaging the 2020 election and he's doing it right in front of us. Tonight, Senator Cory Booker on what can actually be done about it, and Michigan's Attorney General on how to fight it on the local level.

Then, tax fraud, sex clubs and dodgy Russian deals, brand new eye-popping revelations from Trump's former fixer.

Plus, the Biden-Harris campaign focuses on getting us out of the Coronavirus crisis as reports say the true death toll could be over 200,000 Americans. ALL IN starts right now.


VELSHI: Good evening from Philadelphia I'm Ali Velshi in for Chris Hayes. One day after the debut of the Democratic presidential ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, a ticket that Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans seem to have no idea how to campaign against, Donald Trump today made explicit how he plans to win a presidential race that he's currently losing by a lot.

That plan is to steal the election. He confessed it literally on live T.V. Once again, he said the quiet part out loud. As you know, states across the country are turning to mail-in voting in this election, in an effort to allow Americans to vote safely during the pandemic. Today, when asked about Democratic efforts to fund mail-in voting as well as the Post Office as part of a new Coronavirus rescue bill, this is actually what Donald Trump said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: $3.5 billion, billion to mail-in voting. Billion. So, if you didn't have it, you wouldn't -- you don't have money. That is -- they want $25 billion for the post office because the post office is going to have to go to town to get these ridiculous ballots in.

Now, if we don't make a deal, that means they don't get the money. That means they can't have universal mail-in voting. They just can't have it.


VELSHI: They just can't have it. If you're wondering why the President is so determined to stop in -- to stop mailing voting, a poll out this week provides an answer. "Among those who say they will vote by mail, 81 percent support Biden, 14 percent support Trump. Among those who vote on Election Day, 76 -- sorry, 67 percent support Trump, 26 percent support Biden.

So, the President looks at those numbers and he sees an otherwise impossible path to victory. His strategy is to steal the election by undermining mail-in voting which clearly favors his opponent while promoting in-person voting, which appears to favor him. And the reason he thinks it favors him is that he's worked hard to convince his supporters not to worry too much about dying from the virus, even as more than 1,000 Americans continue to die from it every single day. The President again admitted to his scheme late this afternoon.


TRUMP: If the Post Office, if they're not going to approve a bill, and the Post Office, therefore, won't have the money, and if they're not going to approve a big bill, a bigger bill, and they're not going to have the $3.5 billion for the universal mail and votes, how can you have those votes?


VELSHI: All right, let's be really clear about what's happening here. The President is blocking a Coronavirus rescue bill that would provide aid that millions of Americans desperately need because he thinks doing so will prevent voters from voting by mail, Biden voters he assumes probably correctly, but his voters will go to the polls and that's how he will win the election. That is our president. That is who he is. And his economic adviser Larry Kudlow isn't much better.


LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: So much of the Democratic asks are really liberal left wishlist. We don't want to vote, you know, voting rights and aid to aliens, and so forth. That's not our game.


VELSHI: That is not our game, he said, voting rights. That actually is our game. That should be every American's game. The most important game, voting rights, democracy kind of what I make -- what makes America America or at least it used to be. And remember, Donald Trump is not just refusing to fund the Post Office in the coming months, Trump's newly installed Postmaster General, Republican megadonor Louis DeJoy is undermining it as we speak right now slowing down mail delivery across the nation, in what sure looks like an effort to make mail-in voting go as badly as possible.

Indeed, we learned today that the Postal Service is removing mailboxes in Portland, and Eugene, Oregon. This is what that looked like. A Postal Service spokesperson citing declining mail volume, look at the truck, and saying that boxes are likely being removed nationwide after a directive from USPS headquarters.

Meanwhile, a new report says that under Louis DeJoy, the post office is deactivating mail sorting machines ahead of the election. I'm going to talk to the reporter who wrote that story in just a moment. Now, the man who wants to stop Donald Trump, Joe Biden, was asked earlier today about the President's effort to undermine mail-in voting and kneecap the Post Office. Biden responded, "Pure Trump. He doesn't want an election," or at least not the type of election that we expect in this country, one that is free and fair and not corrupted by a president so desperate to retain power, that he will do so by any means necessary.

I'm joined now by Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. Senator, good to see you again. I apologize. We seem to talk a lot after Donald Trump seems to drop your name into tweets. He did it again yesterday, very similar to the last time you and I talked about this, in which he talked -- he addresses the tweet to suburban housewives. I don't know who uses that expression. He talks about low-income housing and how people are going to invade the suburbs. And then he drops your name. He says, Biden would reinstall it in a bigger form with Cory Booker in charge.

Now, the only thing -- you know, Senator, I've studied your background. You and I talk a lot. The only thing I can glean from this is he just dropping your name into tweets because you're an African American man and he thinks that might scare his voters. I don't know.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): I really do think that is something as basic as that. Let me find a black person that I could try to scare folks from the suburbs. But it's very personal to me because of my backstory. I mean, the reality is in 1969, when I was a baby, my parents tried to move into these amazing New Jersey suburbs. They were turned away from houses because of the color of their skin. And if it wasn't for activists, many of them white in that community, they would send white couples out to poses by parents after my parents were turned away to see if houses were still for sale.

The house I grew up in, my father and mother were told it was sold. The white couple found out it was still for sale. On the day of the closing, the white couple didn't show up, my father did, and a volunteer lawyer named Marty Friedman. And Marty was then attacked by the real estate agent, punched him in the face, send the dog on my dad. And after all that, we finally moved into this community with some of the best public schools in New Jersey.

18 years later, I was president of my class and all-American football player, on the honor roll, and heading off to Stanford. And I'll tell you that Donald Trump was a part of that 1960s, 70s housing discrimination. Remember, he had a major federal lawsuit against him for that kind of systematic discrimination. And so, for him to try to whip up this Boogeyman, that people like me, are scary to try to prey upon bigotry and fear, I'm sorry, this is a very old trope that was used by generations past, and it's just not going to work in today's America.

And he will lose the suburbs because there are people that are afraid there, but it's not the fear-mongering that he's doing. It's that he has failed to protect them and keep them safe in the midst of this virus. I'm sad to say as I sit here that we in New Jersey, I've had so many deaths in our suburbs that were preventable if we had a President of the United States that took this virus seriously and did the things we're seeing from New Zealand, to Taiwan, where they got the virus the same time we did.

In places like Taiwan have about 10 deaths nationwide, and yet we have a person dying from COVID about every 80 seconds. And so, his fear-mongering is bigotry, sexism, racism, and won't work. But the real concerns that Americans have about their safety and well-being, the real concerns and fears we have that he's not addressing will be one of the many reasons he will lose.

VELSHI: Senator Booker, we -- this post office thing has come into sharp relief in the last couple of weeks. We -- I think all thinking people in America understand that the problems with voting by mail have nothing, zero from a percentage perspective to do with fraud, and a whole lot to do with the fact that a whole bunch of people are planning to cast their ballot by mail and Donald Trump is actually doing everything possible to prevent that from happening.

This is an emergency. This is a major, major problem. What can be done now to stop this? He's out there talking about it. He's saying it in plain words, just like he talks about suburban housewives and low-income people invading. He's talking about stopping mail-in voting. What can we do? Well, I just want you to understand that -- and I know we want to look to the political lens, but this is an emergency for the health and well-being of Americans.

People every single day, are relying on the postal office for critical resources, to get checks delivered, that right now as quickly they come in, they're going out. Well, if that check is late because of the slowdown, but the Post Office, they're going to miss mortgage payments, car payments, and put their families in jeopardy.

Let me go further than that. Our veterans are disproportionately relying on the Post Office to deliver life-saving medications. Those medications now are going to get slowed down. We have talked to postal unions and employees about the massive slowdowns. It's not just the disappearance of mailboxes as we are seeing, it's not just the removal of sorting machines, but they're also doing things like cutting overtime, which means more and more mail is literally piling up. The backlogs are happening all over this country.

And so he's putting the critical Postal Service, something that's written into our constitution in jeopardy. That alone is an emergency. But for him now to overtly being to say that I am going to gum up the election process, I am not going to allow fair elections to happen, I'm going to do a frontal assault on mail-in balloting, when red states and blue states around America, from Utah to Oregon already have all mail-in elections. You have Republicans that oversee it and are saying it is a safe way to vote.

And he what he wants to do, obviously, is to do everything he can to delegitimize the election so that when he loses, he can make -- put in jeopardy perhaps one of the greatest traditions America has that every other country doesn't. Just look at what's happening in Belarus which is the fair elections with a peaceful transfer of power.

VELSHI: Senator Booker, I haven't had a chance to talk to you since the naming of Kamala Harris as a vice-presidential candidate. You know her from your days in the Senate. You share a lot of experiences with her. She was an opponent of yours in the presidential nomination. Give me your thoughts about Kamala Harris.

BOOKER: It is some of the best news I've had of my entire career. Kamala Harris isn't my colleagues, she's my sister. We have been in the trenches fighting for a long time. And even when she was, as you say, my opponent in a primary, I still always tell reporters when they would try to stir up trouble between our camps, I would say wait a minute, Kamala is my sister and there's some sibling rivalry. But don't let it be mistaken. At the end, she will always be family.

And so, what you have in Kamala Harris irrespective of race and gender, is one of the most qualified people ever to be named a vice presidential candidate nominee. She has ascended through the most difficult terrain to become the senator for the most populous state. And she has shown herself on the campaign trail that she is tough, whip-smart.

And as the guy that sits next to her on the Judiciary Committee, I am telling you right now, America, get excited. Buckle your seatbelt, because you're going to have somebody that's going to bring the best of who we are to the national stage. And so, I'm just thrilled and exciting. And I'll tell you, in our personal conversations, she is somebody that is funny and fun, kind and generous.

In many ways, I think what the Biden-Harris team are offering America is a deep contrast about the -- about the choice we have, which will ultimately be a defining characteristic of the very culture of our country. Are we a nation that will reelect a president who has defined the character of this country with meanness, demeaning, degrading language, who shows us who his values are, he puts them out there, versus folks who want to try to have what we really need in this country, which is a revival of civic grace, which is to celebrate decency and mercy and to begin to heal this country and get us back to the common virtues we have across the political spectrum. And, frankly, help us to be the moral nation on the planet Earth that this -- that this world needs so desperately right now.

VELSHI: Gracious words will resonate; Kamala Harris is my sister. Senator Cory Booker, thank you again for joining me tonight. Now, for more on what is going on at the Post Office, I'm joined by Aaron Gordon. He's a senior writer at the Vice News site Motherboard. His latest piece says the Post Office is deactivating mail sorting machines ahead of the election.

Aaron, thank you for joining me. I have to ask you, the argument about the Post Office that the President has made and Louis DeJoy makes is that there are inefficiencies there. They've got budget problems. They've got inefficient inefficiencies. Now, when you study the Post Office, you understand their budget problems are largely not of their own making. It's about funding a pension in a way that private competitors wouldn't have to.

In the age of Coronavirus, they didn't get the extent of PPP support that their private competitors did. But even if you took that at face value that we were trying to cut down on people and increase efficiency, you wouldn't be removing mail sorting machines. That's the opposite of efficiency.

AARON GORDON, SENIOR WRITER, MOTHERBOARD: Right. Well, one of the things you also wouldn't be doing is intentionally slowing down your mail to provide a worst product for people who extensively are customers to use the language that the Post Office uses. There's definitely a huge paradox between the rhetoric coming from Postal Service leaders about you know, all these business buzzwords that they keep trying out there, and then when I'm hearing from actual Postal Service customers who are upset about the level of service they're getting, and rightly so.

VELSHI: I want to just quote from your story in which you talk to a postal worker. "I'm not sure you're going to find an answer for why the machines are being removed. That makes said Iowa Postal Workers Union President Kimberly Karol, because we haven't figured that out yet." What's the -- what's the -- is there a response from the United States Postal Service leadership about why you'd be doing that?

GORDON: They pretty much say the same thing they say every single time I contact them for a story, which is we're interested in improving our operational efficiency and making sure we deliver for our customers in a cost-effective way to deal with the financial problems that they're facing. They rarely answer direct -- questions directly. They rarely provide any level of detail about what they're doing. It seems like there's very much kind of like company lines, so to speak.

But no, it's not clear at all why they're doing this or why this would be beneficial for the organization. I mean, one of the kind of interesting things is that, you know, they say it's because of declining mail volume, that they no longer need these machines. And that's certainly true. They are, they do have less mail recently than they have before. And that's a long-standing trend.

But they're not simply just like parking over the machines. And you know, they're like, oh, well, if we need them again, we'll take off the tarps and run them again. They're completely dismantling them and throwing them out. So, it doesn't really jive with their message that they're trying to be more efficient by throwing away equipment they already have.

VELSHI: So, it's not a topic we discussed much because people don't really understand the running of the post office. This is the prime example of not really understanding how the sausage is made but benefiting from the sausage every single day. Where -- what is there in terms of oversight for this? We've got lots of members of Congress who have written letters to the Postal Service saying that they need to retain the level of service they had on January 1, 2020 until at least next year or after the pandemic. We've got the -- we've got committees at the Congress who are dealing with it. But the bottom line is the Postmaster General is the boss. It's a bit of an autonomous organization. They're not getting the funding they want. What happens now?

GORDON: It's a great question. I mean, there are, you know, offices that can investigate the Post Office, but that takes time and they can only kind of issue recommendations. They can't really make any directives or change policy. There is a board of governors that offensively has oversight over the Postmaster General, but they're the ones who appointed him just a few months ago, so it's hard to see them taking much action anytime soon, and they're entirely Trump appointee at this point.

It's kind of interesting because this dynamic you've outlined is a product of the Post Office being a patronage male, political patronage bill for most of its history, and having a lot of problems of corruption for that reason. And it's easy to see why. If politicians can appoint postmasters to, you know, do their bidding, or you know, they get to give people jobs, essentially, once they hold office, that's an indication for corruption.

And there's -- there have been decades, you know, of reforms leading up to the current version of Post Office we had that was created in 1971, and that hasn't been an issue since. But now, of course, as you pointed out, we have this new issue where if someone takes over the post office eventually starts doing things we don't like, it becomes much harder for elected officials to kind of exercise some oversight power over them.

VELSHI: Yes. Aaron Gordon, in times gone by, if someone's beat, we're covering the Post Office, one would wonder what they did to annoy their boss. This has probably become one of the most important beats of this time and I'm grateful for the coverage that you have provided. Aaron Gordon is the senior staff writer at Motherboard which reports tech news from Vice.

Coming up, there's no doubt that the Trump administration's targeting of the Postal Service is a clear and dangerous attack on democracy. The question now every state has to answer is what can you do about it? We're going to talk about concrete action after this.


VELSHI: Here's something you may or may not know. The Postal Service is referenced in the U.S. Constitution. It's known as the Postal Clause, and it says who gets to decide if there's a Post Office. Article one, section eight, says, "The Congress shall have power to establish post offices and post roads." Congress."

Then there are laws as you know about voting. Section 10 307 of the U.S. code which should be enforced by William Barr's Justice Department says, "No person acting under color of law shall fail or refuse to permit any person to vote who is entitled to vote or willfully fail or refuse to tabulate, count and report such person's vote."

Even for non-legal guys like me, that's actually pretty straightforward. So, when the president says out loud that he will not fund the United States Postal Service in order to prevent people from voting by mail, it seems like he is both committing a civil rights violation and undermining the Constitution at the same time. The question is what our state attorneys general across the country going to do about it?

Joining me now Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. In May, she called President Trump's threat to withhold funding for Michigan over absentee ballots completely illegal. Attorney General, good to see you again. Thank you for being with us. I just -- I want to like un-lawyer this for a second. You sent ballots -- ballot applications, absentee ballot applications to everybody who might be entitled to one in Michigan. What in the weirdest world if you turn the world like a snow globe upside down, what part of that could possibly be illegal?

DANA NESSEL, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MICHIGAN: Well, it's not illegal. It was our Secretary of State who made the decision to do that and I think it was a wise decision. Obviously, we've had major concerns about COVID in our state, like we have all across the nation. But you know, in terms of the Post Office, you know, obviously, over 200 years of service, and we know that despite hail and wind and snow, somehow, they've been able to carry through and deliver the mail.

But Donald Trump obviously was one natural disaster that nobody saw coming. So, you know, it's up to the states at this point, because as you noted, the Department of Justice and Bill Barr cannot be trusted to enforce the Constitution. It's up to the state attorneys general to do that. And so that's what I'm prepared to do here in Michigan.

VELSHI: So, the president almost seems to be departing from his talking points about how it's fraud. It's going to be the most fraudulent election in American history because there's no evidence to support that whatsoever. The problem is going to be logistics. And the Detroit Free Press had an article about what Michigan does to guarantee absentee ballots security.

Again, this doesn't tend to be a problem in America, but voters have to fill out and sign an application to receive an absentee ballot. A barcode helps clerks determine whether or not there are duplicate applications. And a signature on an absentee ballot is matched against the signature that was used when people register to vote. It is your -- is it your impression that you have any sort of material problem with voter fraud?

NESSEL: No, absolutely we don't. Voter fraud is not an issue in our state and it's not something that we would be concerned about. What we are concerned about, though, is voter disinformation and, you know, and also the Post Office. In 2018, we made it part of our constitution here in Michigan via a ballot proposal in overwhelming numbers. It is now a constitutional right to be able to vote absentee or vote by mail.

And so that's why you see Donald Trump and his cronies doing absolutely everything they can to interfere with that right. But, you know, with that exception, we don't see any issue here in terms of ensuring that we have is safe and secure vote. We can protect the vote both from foreign and domestic interference.

But obviously, the Post Office is a grave concern to us because people need to know that they are receiving their absentee ballots, and that when they send them back, they're going to be counted in time. And the law here in Michigan is that ballot has to be in the hands of the local clerk by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, or it will not be counted.

So the timeliness of the mail is incredibly important. And so, any delays are going to ensure that a number of people's votes are not counted. And our perspective is here, we don't care if you're a Republican, a Democrat, Independent, or what your political persuasion is. We just want to make certain that every vote counts.

VELSHI: Now that the President said it, that the reason he doesn't want to do this is because, you know, he just doesn't want people to vote by mail. Now that he sort of dropped the fake, fraudulent, you know, nonsense that he's talking about, is there any legal basis on which to challenge the defunding of the Post Office or the efforts that the President is making to undermine mail-in voting?

NESSEL: Well, we're looking at a number of different ways in which to combat this effort. Firstly, from a procedural standpoint, we believe it could be a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act, and that the Postmaster General is acting outside of his legal authority. We're looking at substantive attacks, Constitutional issues, such as the violations of the Voting Rights Act or the Equal Protection Clause. And lastly, we are looking at state constitutional violations because as I just indicated to you earlier, it's part of our state constitution that you have the right to vote absentee in Michigan now.

And so, to subvert that effort, so that people cannot vote absentee or that to ensure the slowdown in the mail so that you won't be able to get to have your ballot voted in time could very well violate our state constitution. So, we're prepared to attack this on all different fronts to ensure that every vote is counted in Michigan.

VELSHI: All right, please keep me posted as those things develop, and we'll continue this conversation. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, thank you for joining me tonight. Coming up, the President's former fixer is telling all more than you might want to hear around dinnertime. The new allegations from Michael Cohen after this.



REP. MARK GREEN (R-TN): Is there a book deal coming or anything like that?

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: I have no book deal right now in the process.

REP. MICHAEL CLOUD (R-TX): Will you today to commit to donate any further proceeds to book deals, to film reviews, to charity?


REP. VIRGINIA FOXX (R-NC): Can you commit under oath that you have not and will not pursue a book or movie based on your experiences working for the president?



VELSHI: That was almost a year and a half ago. It feels like a very different time when Donald Trump's infamous fixer, Michael Cohen, testified before Congress. Now, that day, Republicans were quite hard at work trying to get Cohen to promise not to write a book about Donald Trump.

Cohen, of course, ignored those calls, started writing while he was in upstate New York prison. And today, he released the foreword of his memoir titled Disloyal. In those few pages, Michael Cohen teases accusations like this. "Trump had colluded with the Russians but not in the sophisticated ways imagined by his detractors. I also knew that the Mueller investigation was not a witch hunt. Trump had cheated in the election with Russian connivance as you will discover in these pages because doing anything and I mean, anything to win has always been his business model and way of life."

Cohen also teases a slew of other things. "From golden showers in a sex club in Vegas, to tax fraud, to deals with corrupt officials from the former Soviet Union, to catch and kill conspiracies to silence Trump's clandestine lovers. I wasn't just a witness to the President's rise; I was an active and eager participant."

For more on Cohen's new revelations, I'm joined now by Natasha Bertrand. She's a national security correspondent at Politico. Natasha, good to see you. Thank you for being with us. What's your sense of what's new in this from the context of what can be new in this? In other words, what can Michael Cohen say in a book that he wasn't compelled to say to investigators?

NATASHA BERTRAND, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Yes, great question, Ali. So, I think that we're probably going to see a lot of overlap in this book with Michael Cohen's testimony from February of 2019. He of course has been in prison the last couple years and is serving out the rest of his sentence in home confinement. But I think what we have to remember as we're reading through this is the lengths that the Justice Department and even the Bureau of Prisons, for that matter, apparently were willing to go to, to try to prevent Michael Cohen from releasing this book.

He was originally sentenced to home confinement due to the coronavirus pandemic, from jail. And he was ultimately brought back to prison after he refused to sign a statement saying that he would not write a book or speak to the media. That of course, was kind of a you know, a deal-breaker for Michael Cohen and a federal judge ruled that it was clear retaliation and violated his first amendment rights.

So, it's pretty remarkable how much the Trump administration doesn't want this book to come out to the point that a judge last month said, this is something that I've never seen in my -- in my two decades of being on the bench.

VELSHI: There's an excerpt from this that I want to read to you from the foreword in which he says, "Trump is also continued -- had also continued to pursue a major real estate deal in Moscow during the campaign. He attempted to insinuate himself into the world of President Vladimir Putin and his coterie of corrupt billionaire oligarchs. I know because I personally ran the deal and kept Trump and his children closely informed of all updates, even as the candidate blatantly lied to the American people saying, there is no Russian collusion. I have no dealings with Russia. There's no Russia."

Is there anything in this book that is dangerous for the purposes of Michael Cohen, because he was invited to tell investigators everything he knew? In other words, is this color -- is this stuff we generally knew in greater detail or is there something that is so damning that it could actually have an impact on Donald Trump and either the election or his legal exposure?

BERTRAND: Yes. So, there might have been things, for example, that members of Congress just didn't ask Michael Cohen pointedly enough, right. And in that sense, we might not have gotten the fullest picture of what Michael Cohen found out about the president, now-president in the 10 years that he was working for him for the Trump Organization.

So, there are certain things that Michael Cohen, simply by virtue of not having that put out into the public domain during that testimony, is able to save for his book, especially given his testimony that he recorded over a dozen -- over 100 conversations over the course of his 10 years working for the President.

So, he has tapes, he has documents, several of which did turn over to Congress when he testified. But the full extent of what's in his back pocket, I think, is not fully known because he was cooperating with prosecutors, and he was charged and a lot of that came out in, you know, the court proceedings.

But I do think that given that length of time that he was working for Trump, there is a lot probably that he has yet to reveal that he's going to reveal in this book. I mean, just some of the details from this foreword, things like the golden shower example in Las Vegas.

I mean, that is something that has been reported in the past, but it's never been corroborated by someone who was this close to the press. And obviously it raises a whole bunch of new questions. That, and of course, things about Trump's financials that Michael Cohen could potentially reveal in his book that could be dangerous to the President. These are -- these are things that we'll be looking out for.

VELSHI: Well, that's still in play because there are still investigations in New York, there are still investigations by the district attorney, there are still -- by the -- by the D.A. in New York, there are still investigations by the Attorney General in New York and other investigations. So is there -- is there a possibility that Michael Cohen can be called upon to testify further on some of these issues that come up in his book?

BERTRAND: I think it's definitely possible. Obviously, it depends on how far Congress wants to go with this. There is a possibility that they'll be able to get him to testify perhaps from his home confinement. Prosecutors, of course, could get further cooperation from him during his confinement subject, of course, to permission from that -- from his superiors there.

So, I think that there is a possibility that we could see more cooperation from Michael Cohen on this front. But if he has not yet turned over everything he already has about this to prosecutors, I would also be pretty surprised just given what invaluable resource he has been to them in the past. It would seem surprising that he was holding anything back from them at this point. It would not seem so surprising if he was holding things back from the public.

VELSHI: Natasha Bertrand, good to see you again. Thank you for joining us tonight. Natasha Bertrand is a national security correspondent with Politico. Coming up, a staggering new report finds that we are undercounting deaths from Coronavirus across the country. And in that reality, we have already passed a grim milestone. The details just ahead.



MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator Kamala Harris said she would change the dietary guidelines of this country to reduce the amount of red meat Americans can eat. Well, I got some red meat for you. We're not going to let Joe Biden and Kamala Harris cut America's meat.


VELSHI: It's day two of the Joe Biden Kamala Harris ticket in the best line of attack Mike Pence has is that someone's going to take away his rump roast. While he was doing that, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were in Delaware today getting briefed by public health officials on an actual real serious problem in America, the raging Coronavirus crisis and how to stop it from spreading.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every governor should mandate -- every governor should mandate mandatory mask wearing. The estimates by the experts are, it will save over 40,000 lives in the next three months. This is America. Be a patriot. Protect your fellow citizens. Protect your fellow citizens. Step up. Do the right thing.

This is not about Democrat, Republican, or independent. It's about saving Americans lives. So let's institute mass mandate nationwide starting immediately and we will save lives.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): That's what real leadership looks like. We just witnessed real leadership which is Joe Biden said that as a nation, we should all be wearing a mask for the next three months because it will save lives. And the need for this mandatory mask-wearing will also be about what Joe has articulated and what a Biden-Harris administration will do in terms of creating a pandemic testing board to get tens of millions of testing kits where needed, to build a public health jobs core, hiring at least 100,000 Americans to lead us through contact tracing as soon as we take office, and to chart a clear path forward for a safe and effective vaccine.


VELSHI: Can you imagine if just once, that's what a coronavirus briefing from the White House came across like? Joe Biden and Kamala Harris made very clear today the difference between them and the current administration when it comes to the pandemic that is raging through American communities. And the CDC just warned that the worst could be yet to come. That's next.


VELSHI: During this hour, during the time when I'm with you, 60 Americans will die of Coronavirus. We're living -- losing one American to the virus every single minute. And the director of the Centers for Disease Control delivered a dire warning yesterday about what could lie ahead if we don't all start taking the necessary preventative measures.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I'm asking you to do four simple things. Wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands and be smart about crowds. If you do those four things, that will bring this outbreak down. But if we don't do that, as I said last April, this could be the worst fall from a public health perspective we've ever had. When the big one came, and this is not a minor one, this is the greatest public health crisis of this nation in a century that we were under.


VELSHI: This is the gravest public health crisis to hit this nation in a century and we were underprepared. It's a stark admission from the head of the CDC who I should remind you, like Dr. Birx, has not typically had the courage or the fortitude that this country needs in its public health officials. He has tended to shy away from criticizing Trump for his anti-science lies, but better late than never I suppose. We are now approaching the third season of the Coronavirus crisis.

The New York Times is out today with a new analysis of Coronavirus deaths in the United States concluding that the real death toll from the Coronavirus has already surpassed 200,000 people. According to this analysis, from mid-March to August 1st, nearly 212,000 people died of the virus. The number is 56,000 higher than the official tally of deaths during that period.

And just in the state of Texas, 5,500 excess deaths not officially attributed to Coronavirus occurred since the start of the pandemic, indicating that the true death toll there is likely much higher than the official count of about 9,000.

Joining me now is one of the people on the frontline in Texas, Dr. Catherine Troisi. She's an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Texas School of Public Health. Dr. Troisi, thank you for being with us. Let me just ask you about this concept of undercounting. What is it about it? It appears to be some version of classifying how people die, what they die of, and what sort of tests they had to determine whether they had Coronavirus. But if you could help us understand why we would have been undercounting.

CATHERINE TROISI, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EPIDEMIOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes, there's a couple of reasons why we have been undercounting Coronavirus deaths. One is that our testing capacity has been inadequate since the start of this pandemic. And you can't count as a case unless you are tested, so that's one reason. People who die at home may not be tested. It may be that death certificates do not list Coronavirus as the primary cause of death and so it's not counted as a COVID death.

And so, we -- by comparing how many deaths we've seen in other years during this time period, we can estimate how many excess deaths have occurred. Now, it may not be not that all of those are not due to Coronavirus, but it's probably a good bet that most of them are.

VELSHI: I want to ask you about the situation in Texas right now. Governor Abbott says Texas is investigating its high proportion of Coronavirus tests that are coming back positive. Texas recently plummeted in Coronavirus testing. And at the same time, the percentage of tests yielding positive results has climbed to alarming highs up to 25 percent on average in the week ending August the 11th. Talk to me about what that means to you.

TROISI: Yes, we have seen this dramatic decrease in testing, but it is less due to supply chain issues than to demand. People are not asking to get tested. And we're not really sure why that's the case. It may be that it used to be -- it took a long time to get testing. There were these long lines of cars. And maybe people just have given up. They don't want to wait. You know, we're having a heat wave here. I don't blame them for not wanting to wait in their car for hours and hours, although you don't have to now.

It also has been taking a long time to get results back when you are tested. And it may be that people are thinking, well, if I'm not going to find out for two weeks, it's not worth getting tested. It may be partially pandemic fatigue that people are tired of thinking about the virus. If you have symptoms, you're probably going to go get tested. But if you just may have been exposed, you may not.

And along with that, because we've had so many cases in Texas, our contact tracing is way behind where it should be. So, there are undoubtedly people who have been exposed who have not been contacted. They don't know that they've been exposed and so are not getting tested.

The fact that the positivity rate is so high indicates to me that it is only or mainly people who have symptoms who are getting tested and that does not do epidemiologists any good to figure out what's happening in the community.

VELSHI: So, you are an epidemiologist Catherine Troisi, and you study infectious diseases. And when I speak to people like you or virologists or vaccine experts or people who have worked in other outbreaks, the one thing they tell me is that these -- we've learned enough about how to deal with these things. There are public health measures. You know, we all think about this golden -- this holy grail of a -- of a vaccine or a therapeutic, but in fact, for most infectious diseases, it's much simpler to prevent spread. It's behavioral stuff. It's policy stuff.

What do you want to see happen now, now that we may be at 212,000 deaths or we may be somewhere lower? We're still at a lot of deaths and a lot of people continue to die. What do you think politicians need to do now?

TROISI: I think part of the problem, and there have been a lot problems with our response to this pandemic, but one of them has been mixed messages from our leaders. We need a national strategy and we need consistent messaging indicating that this is serious that people do need to take precautions, and some good risk communication strategies, some -- you know, here in Texas, a very successful slogan was don't mess with Texas.

Well, we need something like that. Maybe don't mess with Texans. Wear your mask. It doesn't rhyme but, you know, someone clever than I can come up with something. We need to understand we're all in this together. And we know how to stop spreading the virus, we're just not doing it.

VELSHI: Yes. We do know how to spread the stop -- to stop the spread of this virus. Dr. Troisi, thank you for the hard work that you and so many other health officials are undertaking in this country. Dr. Catherine Troisi is an infectious disease expert, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas Campus in Austin.

That is it for ALL IN on this Thursday night. Don't forget, you can find me again on weekends from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. Eastern. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.


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