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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, August 14, 2020

Guests: Jocelyn Benson, Jamie Raskin, Amber McReynolds, Ashish Jha, LaTosha Brown


The United States Postal Service wands 46 states that their voters could be disenfranchised by delayed mail-in ballots. Interview with Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) about the Postal Services' new policies that cause delays in mails. Since the end of July, testing is down in the U.S. by 17 percent despite the fact that Coronavirus deaths are on the rise across the country.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Beto O'Rourke, Errin Haines, that's tonight's REIDOUT. Please buy stamps, everyone. Buy stamps. I'll be back here on Monday with our special coverage of the Democratic National Convention beginning at 7:00 p.m. So buy some stamps, support the Post Office. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes is next.


ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. Election sabotage. The Postal Service telling 46 states it cannot guarantee your mail-in ballots will be counted. Tonight, what to do to protect the election?

Then, Trump promised to slow down testing, and now it's down 17 percent while cases keep going up.

Plus, the Biden Harris ticket bringing hope back to Democrats in the age of Trump, when ALL IN starts now.


MAXWELL: Good evening from Washington, DC. I'm Zerlina Maxwell in for Chris Hayes. The U.S. Postal Service says if you vote by mail, there is a good chance that your vote will not be counted. The Washington Post reports the Postal Service warned 46 states and the District of Columbia that they cannot guarantee all mail-in ballots will arrive in time to be counted.

40 of those states including battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida were told "Their long-standing deadlines for requesting and returning or counting ballots were in congruence with mail service, and that voters who send ballots in close to those deadlines may become disenfranchised."

Every one of those orange states on that map you see there on the screen got that warning. That would impact about 186 million voters. This report comes just one day after President Trump openly said that he would not fund the U.S. Postal Service in order to prevent mail-in ballots that would likely be cast for Joe Biden.

And this is not some theoretical threat, we can literally see our ability to use the Postal Service shrinking right before our eyes. Mailboxes around the country are being physically removed like these mailboxes here in New York. And New York Times reporter spotted this on a truck in Manhattan, or the 31 mailboxes, the Postal Service confirmed, it removed from two cities in Oregon in the past week, or the dozens of mailboxes removed from across the state of Montana.

It is happening right in front of us. And there is a reason why the President doesn't want those votes to count. Here is what Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris had to say about it.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESUMPTIVE VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Why don't they want us to vote? Why are they creating obstacles to us voting? Well, the answer is because when we vote, things change. When we vote, things get better.


MAXWELL: Joining me now for more on the Postal Service's warning about mail-in ballots is NBC News White House Correspondent Jeff Bennett, who has been covering the story on the ground. Geoff, thank you so much for being here this evening. My first question is, what are you seeing on the ground? What are these warnings from a variety of Postal Service in these states? And what does it mean?

GEOFF BENNETT, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's great to see you, Zerlina. And let's break this down because what's happening at the Postal Service, to use the technical term, is a confusing mess, right? So, let's start with this warning from the Postal Service to 46 out of 50 states, that even if voters in those states, follow the rules, follow the deadlines, follow the guidelines, their ballot may not be received in time and their vote would be disqualified. And that's because the Postal Service is saying that based on state deadlines, there might not be, likely won't be sufficient time for those ballots to be mailed out, to be received, completed, and then sent back in.

And it's important to point out that the Postal Service says they have the capacity to handle election year mail. When I saw that statement come out, I didn't necessarily believe it, so I did the reporting. I talked to Postal Service workers, to Postal Service local union presidents, and they all say across the board, yes, they're up to the job. They can handle the volume. They can handle the capacity.

What's causing the delays, though, is a different issue entirely. And they all point to the policy changes and the budget cuts put in place by the new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who before he became Postmaster General, was a top Republican donor, a prolific Trump fundraiser and donor, and who had no direct Postal Service experience before he was tapped to lead the agency.

And the people I've talked to say that he views the Postal Service not as a service but as a business. And so he's making all of these changes he says to cut costs and to make the organization more solvent, but that is what is causing the delays and that is what if these delays don't change, will cause a lot of confusion and will cause across the board disenfranchisement come Election Day.

MAXWELL: What are -- what about the reports about the sorting machines being removed from a variety of large cities? Is that because they want, you know, to lower the capacity for these precincts potentially to be able to count those mail-in ballots?

BENNETT: So, this is an interesting question because I obtained an internal USPS Postal Service document that really pinpointed 671 of these high-volume sorting machines from coast to coast that were slated for removal. Now, the Postal Service says that these machines are no longer needed in the areas where they are and that they're going to be removed and reallocated.

So far, based on my conversations, I've had heard no instances of where these machines are being reallocated. I've only heard instances of where they're being taken out of, removed from. And the Postal Service, whenever it gets questions about this sort of thing, they always point to, well, this is an issue of effectiveness and efficiency.

But I heard from one veteran, now retired postal worker 30 years on the job, and he says, you can't get more efficient than these machines. They're designed to process the 35,000 pieces of mail in an hour and spit it out with 99.5 percent accuracy so then a postal service worker can take their bag and hit the streets. And so, this notion that the Postal Service has to make cuts -- to make these cuts to really ramp up capacity just isn't on the level.

Here's the -- here's the fundamental question. What remains to be seen is whether Louis DeJoy is making these changes because he's doing the bidding of President Trump, if he's trying to make this a self-fulfilling prophecy where the President is conspiracy-mongering and raising all of these unfounded attacks on the Postal Service, and he has his longtime ally as the Postmaster General to do his work, or if DeJoy as a businessman, a successful North Carolina businessman is coming into a Postal Service, that he fully doesn't understand the tradition and the institutional history of, who has decided to make these changes and it's all sort of -- sort of oddly time to happen just as President Trump is making these unfounded attacks. That's a -- that's a question that we have not been able to answer based on our reporting.

But setting aside to Joy's motivation, the end result is the same. There are these delays where you now have the Postal Service telling states, look, if people in your state want to vote, what they're going to have to do is get these ballots early and send them back in way early, because if you wait until the deadline, if you wait too long, it might not get back in time.

MAXWELL: I think that's probably good advice all around, Geoff Bennett. Thank you so much for joining us with the latest about what's going on with the United States Postal Service ahead of this election. This is a story that I am sure this show will keep an eye on as we move forward into the election.

Joining me now for more on how states are responding to this warning is Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Thank you so much, Secretary, for being here this evening. My first question to you is about President Trump. You recently got into a bit of a scuffle with him because he accused you of mailing out illegally mail-in ballots and you had to correct the record.

In terms of the impact of what's happening with the Postal Service, though, what is your response to the perceived attacks on the Postal Service from this administration?

JOCELYN BENSON, SECRETARY OF STATE, MICHIGAN: I think it's incredibly disturbing and concerning that in this time of great uncertainty, we're in the middle of a global pandemic, more citizens on both sides of the aisle are saying they want to vote safely from home this November. This is the time to the Postal Service to step up and show how it truly is a service organization and can meet the demands of the electorate.

And for it to be going in the opposite direction right now with all of these changes combining collaterally to make it more difficult for citizens to receive and return their ballots on time, leading the opening up the possible disenfranchisement of thousands of valid voters, citizens throughout the country, is very disturbing. It is alarming. And myself and secretaries of state all across the country are going to be fighting this along with many others. Because at the end of the day, we need to ensure that every vote counts and every voice is heard.

MAXWELL: What are you and those other secretaries of state doing to fight back against these funding cuts and manipulations of the Postal Service?

BENSON: Well, it's a two-prong strategy. One, we want to meet -- we've asked to meet with the Postmaster General to explain why this is a concern. How this is going to impact not just domestic delivery and return of ballots, but international as well for our military service members and others overseas, and of course prescriptions all the reasons -- other reasons why we need the Postal Service to be reliable.

So we're trying to, you know, work with the Postal Service, hopefully, to address these issues, but also creating a separate workaround, like drop boxes, which I in Michigan, and many of my colleagues are installing all across the country, so that citizens, if they can't rely on the mail to return their ballot, they can rely on our drop boxes that will be secured and monitored, where citizens can drop off their ballots and ensure that they're returned and received on time.

You're also going to see an increase in ballot tracking mechanisms. We've created this in Michigan, other states are doing this too, so that citizens can track when their ballots been sent to them and when it's been received by their local election administrator to again, give that confidence in the process when there's so many uncertainties and variables challenging that confidence right now.

MAXWELL: How do we get young voters to participate in mail-in voting? It's not as if mail-in voting is something younger voters have done all the time. What are this -- what's the strategy on the ground in Michigan to ensure that young people are able to participate in really what's an unprecedented election process?

BENSON: Well, interestingly, in Michigan, we saw a number of changes that voters enacted in 2018 that have enabled more young people to vote, in particular, allowing people to register to vote on Election Day, and then vote right there in their clerk's office. That has dramatically increased participation among 18 and 19-year-olds who've been by far the largest age group to take advantage of that reform.

On top of that, college-age students as well as highly mobile young people who've been moving and going different places, we're seeing them take advantage of the opportunity to vote by mail, because it ensures they're able to get their ballot wherever they are, and return it. But the key this year especially with all these challenges with the Postal Service is to do this early. Request your ballot as soon as you can, return it as soon as you can, and track it to make sure it's received and counted.

MAXWELL: That's really important making sure that everyone knows that Election Day is not November 3rd, if you're planning to mail and vote, you can figure out how to do that right this second. My last question to you is, you know, what's your reaction to the fact that Melania and the President themselves requested their absentee ballots recently, and yet they're saying that mail-in balloting cannot be trusted? What's your reaction to that?

BENSON: Yes, I mean, first of all, there's zero difference between voting absentee and voting by mail. And absentee voting has been happening in our country for years. And, of course, as you noted, not just the president, not just the family, but his staff as well who voted by mail. Democrats and Republicans have agreed that it's safe for years and several states like Colorado, Utah, and Oregon have all been voting by mail for decades safely, securely, with infinitesimal levels of fraud.

So, this is a system that works and it's -- this is a moment when citizens across both aisles are demanding their right to vote by mail in the midst of this pandemic. And so, we truly should be doing all we can to make that happen for our voters. And if the powers that be, if those in our congress, if those in the White House are not stepping up to make the changes in the protections we need, we need voters to be more informed than ever before on how to request return and track their ballots so that they can ensure that every vote including theirs is counted.

MAXWELL: Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, thank you so much for joining us this evening.

For more on what can be done about the President's attack on the election, I'm joined by Congressman Jamie Raskin. He's a Democrat from Maryland. He's also a member of the House Oversight Committee which oversees the Postal Service.

I'm so glad to chat with you today, Congressman, about this important issue as we head into the selection. What can be done from the part of Congress to ensure that these attacks on the Postal Service don't interfere in the election process?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, I'm delighted to be with you. 91 days ago, the House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act, which includes $25 billion in funding for the Postal Service. And this was something that was very clear many months ago that the Postal Service needed in order to conduct its operations.

And just a couple of days ago, the general counsel, Thomas Marshall sent a letter to Congress saying essentially it does not have the funds needed in order to conduct its usual operations. So, one very easy thing that could happen is that the Senate of the United States could pass the Heroes Act.

Now, alas, President Trump seems to have made it perfectly clear in his inimitable way of disclosing exactly what's going on that the whole reason for not coming to terms with the House of Representatives for not passing the Heroes Act, which is so desperately needed by our first responders, by unemployed people by the states and counties, is that they want to prevent the postal service from getting that $25 billion. That's what Donald Trump seemed to make perfectly clear yesterday.

So, the GOP apparently has a strategy of sabotaging the Post Office, thereby creating all kinds of collateral damage for other people. I spoke to one of my constituents today who is a 30-year naval captain veteran who is not getting her hypertension medication, it's more than 10 days late already, because they're disrupting the mails, all to create as much chaos and confusion as possible in advance with the election.

So, we're demanding that the Senate act. Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer sent a letter today to Mr. DeJoy demanding answers essentially to 10 pages of questions about what's going on with the demobilization of postal machinery, the destruction of overtime, which is all an attempt to squeeze the Post Office and to make it inoperative and inoperable.

So, we only have, you know, two to three weeks to turn this around on that front. And then we're going to have to try to make other plans for the election. But it is not too late, but we need a full-scale mobilization of the legislative machinery of government to bear down on oversight and to get everybody that we can, obviously, every mayor and governor in the country, Democrat, Republican, Independent, to say that an attack on the post office is essentially a declaration of war against the United States of America against our democracy and we won't tolerate it. It's unacceptable.

MAXWELL: When you say it's an attack on the United States of America, previously, President Trump was impeached for trying to manipulate the election in 2020. It seems like this is the same set of circumstances he's trying to manipulate the upcoming election. Is that an impeachable offense what he's doing at the Post Office?

RASKIN: Well, it's obviously an impeachable offense. That doesn't necessarily mean that any minds have been changed in Mitch McConnell Senate. So, for us, it's always a balancing act of whether it makes sense to go down that road and, you know, as well as I do, how much Donald Trump loves the circus atmosphere of it all in distracting everyone from what's going on.

We have an election that is less than 90 days away. And we've got to make sure that we secure the American election. We were able to conduct elections with integrity with accuracy through World War II -- World War II, through the Civil War, through the Great Depression. We've got to be able to do it now. But that means resisting the constant provocations and antics of this president and the collaboration of the Republicans with his growing authoritarianism.

The democracy is on the ballot in 2020. I mean, I said before, all of the nonsense with the Post Office started that basically you've got D on the ballot for democracy, and R for Russia, and Putin's puppet in the White House. And, you know, this is the choice for us. We can go down the road of authoritarianism and chaos. The President has advanced no plans and no discussion of what he wants to do in his new term. All he wants to do is hang on to power. Or we can renew American democracy and begin to rebuild everything that has been so ravaged by the terrible policies of this president.

MAXWELL: Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, I want to thank you for joining me this evening. This is such an important conversation that we should continue having because the election interference -- or the attempted election interference seems to be happening right in our faces, unlike in 2016. So, we will have you back to talk about this important topic.

And if you're planning to vote by mail in your -- in your ballot, we're going to walk you through exactly what you need to do to make sure your vote is counted this November. You don't want to miss it. That's coming up next.



BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How do we protect the integrity of the election process? How do we make sure that people's votes are counted? How do we police and monitor how state officials are setting up polling places and ensuring that every vote is counted? So there's a whole bunch of work to be done there. And by the way, that's not all just the job of political operatives and lawyers.


MAXWELL: If you're planning to vote by mail in the presidential election, and if you're worried about how to do that, in the middle of a pandemic, when the President is attacking the post office, there are ways to make sure your vote gets counted. For one thing, register to get your absentee ballot as early as possible. That way state and local systems do not get overwhelmed with last-minute requests.

Once you do get your ballot, consider turning it in by hand instead of by mail, which many states offer, but it varies state by state. There are ways to protect your vote in this election. And here with me now is someone who understands what steps can help you do just that.

Amber McReynolds, the chief executive officer of the National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition, which works with states to help more Americans vote at home. You seem like the perfect guest to talk to this evening. Thank you so much for being here.

AMBER MCREYNOLDS, CEO, NATIONAL VOTE AT HOME INSTITUTE AND COALITION: Oh, thanks for having me. It's great to be here.

MAXWELL: So, my first question for folks at home, I'm sure they're wondering is, what do you do? Ask yourself? Am I going to vote in person or am I going to vote by mail? Is that the first question you should be asking yourself?

MCREYNOLDS: Yes, I think starting today what's really critical is are you registered to vote and is your address up to date? Those are the first two things that we really need all Americans to think about starting today. And check that information. Make sure you're registered to vote.

And then the second piece is make a plan to vote. So, if you decide that you want to vote at home, you should sign up for that as soon as you can in your state.

MAXWELL: It seems to me that these attacks on the Post Office are not without an intention. In your view, what is the purpose behind these attacks? Is it to suppress the vote? Is it to ensure that the ballots are not counted? What is your view on that?

MCREYNOLDS: So, my view on the post office is actually very similar to how I view election administration, and that both are critical to our, our democracy, and they have been since the start of our country, but more importantly, it's critical that they're not politicized and used as political weapons.

And we see this over and over and over where elections are politicized for one side or the other, trying to make a make a point, score political points. And now we're seeing that a little bit with the Post Office. And so, what I like to do is sort of like look through the noise and try to look at the real facts of what's going on, make sure the operations are sound, and make sure that we understand truly what are the issues at hand.

And I've known -- I'm obviously been involved in elections ran elections for 13 years. The Post Office has made operational changes for a long period of time. And I even toured a few postal facilities a couple years ago, and they had tarps over some of the equipment in one of the larger facilities. And I said, why is the tarp over that? And they said, well, it's a machine that we've decommissioned. We just couldn't take it out of -- out of the network yet.

So I just want everybody to be clear and be sure that we kind of assess the facts for what they are. If there are operational issues, we need to solve those. We need those questions answered. We need transparency around that. But if it is part of a normal process, we also want to be hesitant before anything gets politicized and impacts the American people in a negative way.

MAXWELL: So basically, what you're recommending is for people to as early as possible, figure out what they're going to do and request their ballots. But what happens like so many of us, when we procrastinate, and we wait to the last minute to either request them valid or actually mail it in? What options do we have?

MCREYNOLDS: Sure. Well, requesting that valid is really critical, because that's how, you know, it gets delivered to you, and then you have multiple days to vote it and return it. But if you're really within a week of the election, if you're going to request a ballot, you should go in person if you can and pick it up, or you should really not wait any -- beyond that -- beyond that kind of seven-day period before election day to mail it back in if you choose to do that.

After that point, we really recommend that you drop off your ballot if that's possible in your state. Again, every state varies in terms of their rules and regulations, so it's critical to check the Secretary of State's Web sites or the local election official's Web sites in each state. But really within seven days of the election, you should drop it off in person on Election Day, or anytime, kind of within that seven days to make sure that it's received efficiently and timely by your election official.

MAXWELL: How do you track the status of your mail-in ballot? In some states, I'm aware that you're you can look online to see if your ballot has been received and accepted. What do you recommend people do to ensure that their ballot is being counted?

MCREYNOLDS: Yes, that's a great question. Thank you for that question. And actually, when I was running elections in Denver, way back in 2009, we created and pioneered the first-ever ballot tracking system in the country. And that basically set up a process where you can get a text or an e-mail about the status of your ballot, just like you would, tracking a package online.

So a lot of states like California, Colorado, has expanded this type of program, Oregon and Washington offer tracking solutions, Maricopa County, Arizona, jurisdictions in Florida, Virginia, and various other states like Michigan, North Carolina, all are in the middle of or expanding that type of service right now.

And that really allows voters to track their ballot just like they would a package and get confirmations of when the ballot was mailed, as well as when the ballot was received by election officials. So depending on the state you're in, you have that option to sign up.

The second piece is the Post Office also offers informed delivery service. So, you can actually get confirmations when you're about -- when your mail is on the way to you of everything you're going to see in your postbox that day. So that's another service that's offered by the Post Office that you can sign up for. And then within states it will vary, but truly it's important to sign up for that tracking notification process, especially if it exists in your state.

MAXWELL: Amber McReynolds, thank you so much for sharing all of that. I hope people took some of that information to heart and they're looking on their phones right now to figure out how to get their mail-in ballot or vote in their particular state. Thank you so much, again.

Coming up, as Coronavirus testing rates go down in across the country, I'll talk to Dr. Ashish Jha about the dangers of only testing people with severe symptoms and he joins me next.


MAXWELL: We are at an insane point in the pandemic where testing is dropping off. And that's because the president said to slow down the testing. It is similar to what we are seeing with the President's attacks on the U.S. Postal Service and mail-in ballots. Since the end of July, testing is down nationally by 17 percent despite the fact that Coronavirus deaths are on the rise across the country, and testing is key.

The new drop off is something the head of the Harvard Global Health Institute, Dr. Ashish Jha, is sounding the alarm over. He says, we don't just want to diagnose the sickest. We want to catch asymptomatic and presymptomatic because they spread. And identifying them lets you control the virus and get our lives back.

Joining me now is Dr. Ashish Jha, a physician and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. Thank you so much for being here this evening.


MAXWELL: So, my first question is, what does the decline in testing mean and why is it that testing is the to getting this virus under control.

JHA: Yes. So testing isn't, of course, the only thing. Other things like wearing masks and avoiding indoor gatherings are also very, very important. But testing is critical, right because it helps identify who's infected and who's not. And once you identify who's infected, you can help them stop spread the virus to other people.

And Americans know this intuitively, when you want to go visit somebody who might be a high risk relative, it'd be helpful to have a test. If we want to be able to get kids and teachers back to school, it would be helpful to have testing. So, there's a lot that testing allows us to do and it's really a critical part of our national response.

MAXWELL: And when you're talking about asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people, can you explain to us what that means and why particularly with pre-symptomatic folks, why testing early on and getting that result is so important to preventing community spread for example?

JHA: Absolutely. So what we have learned About this virus, really in some ways the Achilles heel of this virus makes it so hard to control is that about half the spread happens when people don't have any symptoms at all. And since we can't test everybody in America every day, we need a testing strategy. And we need a testing strategy that targets asymptomatic people in high-risk situations, such as nursing homes, such as meatpacking plants on an ongoing basis so you prevent large outbreaks.

MAXWELL: In terms of the President's rhetoric around the virus, he says a lot of misleading statements, but one of the things that he references, and I want the audience to understand what this really means, is herd immunity. So, there are a number of different ways to get to herd immunity. Can you explain to us what those different routes to herd immunity are and why it's actually a very bad thing to naturally get to herd immunity?

JHA: Yes. So, herd immunity is the idea that there are enough people in the population who are immune to the virus, that if the virus gets introduced in that population, it doesn't self-propagate and lead to exponential growth. You know, the models on this virus are that 60 to 70 percent of Americans would need to get infected. Our best guess right now is that maybe 10, or 15 percent of Americans at most have been infected with this virus.

In order to get to herd immunity, we would need to have five or six times as many people get infected. And if 160,000 people have already died, you can envision hundreds more thousands dying, maybe up to a million more dying in order to achieve herd immunity. That is not the strategy we want.

MAXWELL: No, that does not seem like a strategy that we would want certainly. Without a national strategy to handle the sufficient number of tests that you were talking about so that we can prevent communities spread, what are your predictions, frankly, for the next couple of months as we head into the fall and into flu season?

JHA: Yes. So what we're really seeing is a divergence. We are seeing parts of America, certain states that are actually figuring this out on their own. New York is one of the best examples. They've been doing a fabulous job on testing. Massachusetts, Michigan, there are other states that actually are more or less able to figure it out, where obviously a lot of states like Texas and Florida and Mississippi are really struggling.

The problem is that we live in one country, people travel back and forth, so big outbreaks in Florida will see cases in New York and Massachusetts. The second part is as we head into the fall, we are going to have the flu comeback. Now, I'm hopeful that maybe with all the social distancing and hand washing, we won't have a bad flu season. But it's worth remembering that most flu seasons fill up hospitals and ICUs on their own, throwing COVID on top of that.

And if things don't go well, and if we don't get a break, and this year has not been a year of a lot of breaks, we could easily end up in a lot of trouble in terms of a lot of people sick and clearly outstripping the supply of our hospital beds.

MAXWELL: That is very alarming. And hopefully, we will be able to write the ship by getting more testing and hopefully a national strategy in place. Dr. Ashish Jha, thank you so much for joining us this evening. Still to come, just 48 hours after adding Kamala Harris to the ticket, the Biden campaign raised $48 million. We'll talk about the renewed energy on the left just ahead.


MAXWELL: Back in 2011, then-private citizen Donald Trump who was mulling the idea of a run for president became the most prominent promoter of a racist lie that President Barack Obama was not actually born in the United States. And it stuck around for years in large part due to Donald Trump promoting it.

And now he's at it again, questioning whether Kamala Harris is eligible to be vice president because her parents were immigrants. To be clear, Kamala Harris was born in the United States. She is a natural-born citizen, as the Constitution requires. Her parents immigrated from Jamaica and India, just like Donald Trump's mother immigrated from Scotland.

But to Donald Trump, there is clearly a right and a wrong type of immigrant. And this is overtly racist. We saw it done to the first black president, and we are seeing it again with the first black and South Asian vice presidential candidate. Donald Trump says these things simply because of what Barack Obama and Kamala Harris look like, and where they're parents came from.

He is saying that people of color, they're not legitimate. We need to stop calling this Birtherism. Let's call it what it is, racism.



HARRIS: By Joe asking me to be his running mate, he has pushed forward something that might have otherwise taken decades. This is a statement about the fact that we're not going to just wait for somebody to give us permission. We're not going to just wait for some broad consensus where everyone feels like oh, yes, that's normal. I'm comfortable with it. Sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zone to do what is right to move forward.


MAXWELL: Earlier today, Senator Kamala Harris laid out why Joe Biden, picking her as his running mate is anything but a safe choice. Harris checks off boxes that none of the previous president -- vice presidential candidates could. She is a black woman, a graduate of a historically black college, and she's the daughter of immigrants.

And while her selection is definitely a big deal, it is certainly not, as President Barack Obama pointed out today, some stunt.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Kamala is somebody I've known for years. She is smart, she is tough. She is somebody who I think will be able to share the stage with Mike Pence or whoever -- anybody else and dissect some of the terrible decisions that have been made over the last four years that have helped create worse problems than were necessary in the midst of this pandemic.

And most importantly, I think she's somebody who is going to be able to give Joe sound advice and be a terrific sounding board when he has to make tough decisions during the course of his presidency.


MAXWELL: To talk more about this, I'm joined by Paola Ramos, former deputy director of Hispanic media for Hillary Clinton, and LaTosha Brown, she's the co-founder of Black Voters Matter, an organization dedicated to expanding black voter engagement. Thank you so much for being here tonight.

Latasha, I want to start with you. As a black woman, seeing Kamala Harris being selected to be the vice presidential nominee is historic. Just what's your gut-level of reaction to seeing a black woman in that position?

LATOSHA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTERS MATTER: This is our moment that black women have always been on the vanguard of really protecting democracy. We have done the work, we stood with the suffrages and we still didn't get the right to vote. 50 years later, we stood in Selma, Alabama on the bridge and most people didn't see us because we're in the back.

But here we are on this even where I think that a ceiling has been broken. And anytime a glass ceiling is broken, it creates light and room for others and rooms for the imagination. And so I think that this is really a historic moment that was co-created by millions of black women in this country who have continued to stand in this place and fight for democracy.

MAXWELL: Absolutely. Black women have been on the forefront fighting for our democratic values. Paola, in terms of what Kamala Harris means to the Latinx community and to people who are from immigrant families, obviously, black women, you know, can see themselves in Kamala, but there are other aspects of her story that I think are relevant in terms of how the Latinx community sees this nomination. What's your reaction, and in terms of those folks, what's your reporting show from the ground what they're feeling about Kamala Harris's nomination?

PAOLA RAMOS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think what they're feeling and what many people are feeling is that it's needed. Now, I think the incredible effect that we've seen just in the past three days is that suddenly now within hours millions of more people were able to suddenly see themselves in the White House.

Now, I think there was this larger understanding that Joe Biden could be Donald Trump, right. That's what the polls indicated. But I think there was this general question of, can we see ourselves in the White House? Can we see ourselves in this larger vision that Joe Biden has. And Kamala Harris is allowing a lot of us to see ourselves there. And it's not just black folks, it's that suddenly immigrants come to and Latinos and biracial folks, and those that come from AAPI communities and women, right? And that's what she represents, right?

Many people suddenly just see themselves in her. And so, I think it's incredibly powerful. And I'm talking to you from Miami, where I've been talking to Latinas all day long. And until this moment, many people have felt invisible and neglected by both parties. And so, I think now this is a very important opportunity for the Democratic Party to start inserting themselves in these spaces.

MAXWELL: Latosha, in your work, you are working directly with black voters. And I feel like the turnout between -- or not I feel, but I know for a fact that the turnout between 2012 and 2016. It fell off in terms of black voter turnout due to a number of factors voter suppression, voter I.D. laws and also a lack of enthusiasm in the process. Do you think this election of Kamala Harris will excite young black voters and other voters of color as we head into the upcoming election?

BROWN: I will tell you that my phone has been ringing off the hook, that I have gotten all messages and people are calling, volunteer with organization, saying they want to help. One, we do want to see ourselves, that having a black woman in a ticket, as we knew and those of us who are supporting that knew that it would energize the ticket. I think Kamala energizes the ticket.

I think that when we're looking at -- we want to see reflective democracy, that the majority of people in this country are women, yet we have not held the position of vice president or president. And so, now, I think that what you're seeing is you're going to see a coalition of not only just black voters, I think you're going to see immigrants, I think you're going to see people of color. I think you're going to see women; I think you're going to see progressive. I think now we have a ticket that is more reflective of America. And I think people -- Americans will respond to that.

And so, what I have been seeing so far, people engaged and really wanting to figure out how can they get involved, and I think that's what we're going to see. I don't think it's just boots on the ticket. I think we're in a particular moment in time that people are really concerned about issues, people are concerned about, if we've got 40 million Americans that have lost their income, they are concerned about that.

People are concerned about voter suppression, and now you're seeing mailboxes being taken. People -- I've got all kinds of phone calls around that. Folks want democracy. People want to make sure that they and their families can actually be OK, that they have the economics that they need, that they have -- they have job security, and they have healthcare.

Let us not forget that we are in the largest health pandemic in the last hundred years, So there's a lot of anxiety. Folks want change, and they want someone that's going to be responsive, and I do think that that's what this ticket represent.

MAXWELL: Absolutely. In the last minute here, Paola, I want to ask you, as we head into the Democratic Convention, next week, there's been a lot of conversation about the fact that Julian Castro was not included in the lineup of speakers and that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the congressman from New York was given 60 seconds to speak. What's the reaction of the Latino community you've been interacting with all week on the ground to that, you know, snub? It seems to be a snub.

RAMOS: Yes. It is. I mean, just look at the big picture, right. Latinos are about to become the largest minority voting party. There's 32 million eligible that female voters. We are the youngest demographic. Beyond that, in the past four years, Latinos have also been the center of attack of this administration.

And so I think the question that everyone has is at a time where Latinos do need the Democratic Party, and when the Democratic Party also needs Latinos in order to win the White House, why not give Julian Castro the same amount of time, primetime slot as say, Andrew Yang, or Mayor Pete, or Bloomberg? Why?

And so that -- when we're talking about equality, when Senator Harris, we have an opportunity to talk about why representation matters, why it goes beyond the narrative, right? Why it goes beyond statistics, why not use this as an opportunity to put Julian Castro who's been an important voice in the Latino community and give him the same equal amount of time as other candidates?

MAXWELL: Yes, it feels like that perspective is very much needed in a moment where at the beginning of this administration, we were talking a lot about the impact of the Trump administration on Latinx people and children. And it feels like that is something that The Democratic Party, to your point Paola, may want to focus on in an upcoming convention.

RAMOS: Right. And it's a time to celebrate. And I think there's a lot to celebrate about what the DNC convention means next week. But it's also a time to hold ourselves accountable. And so again, I think that this is a question for the party. And then the simple question, why not? Why does he not have the same time as some Republicans and as some former candidates do during the Primetime?

MAXWELL: These are -- these are important questions. One minute more to go. Latosha, in this last minute, I want to ask you, you know, what's your message to young girls who look at Kamala Harris and now can see themselves?

BROWN: To be ambitious, to be proud, to be smart, to stand in your power. When women work together, we win. And I think Kamala Harris being on the ticket is an example of what happens when women work together.

MAXWELL: Thank you so much, Paola Ramos and LaTosha Brown. Thank you for joining us tonight.

That is ALL IN for this Friday night. I'm Zerlina Maxwell. The Rachel Maddow Show starts now. Good evening, Rachel.


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