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Transcript: The ReidOut, August 20, 2020

Guests: Karine Jean-Pierre, Ayanna Pressley, Kurt Bardella, Glenn Kirschner, Cory Booker

Summary

Joe Biden to accept presidential nomination tonight. Democrats deliver high-powered convention speeches. Obama says, Trump and allies hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote. Harris say, we will tell our grandchildren what we did. Kamala Harris makes history by accepting vice presidential nomination. Donald Trump has shown he will do anything to stay in power, even if it means tearing down the institutions he is sworn to protect.

Transcript

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Hello, and welcome to MSNBC's special coverage of the Democratic National Convention. This is the convention's final night, the big finale, when former Vice President Joe Biden, the self-described working class Joe from Scranton, Pennsylvania, will address the American people as the official nominee of the Democratic Party and will make his case for why he should be the 46th president.

Sources tell NBC News that it is a speech that he developed and wrote over the course of the summer and one that makes clear to voters just what is at stake. Biden has a tough act to follow after three nights that featured the most popular and powerful voices in the Democratic Party, starting with Michelle Obama on Monday.

Last night, Democrats went for their maximum firepower, with speeches from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Senator Elizabeth Warren and the party's previous nominee, Hillary Clinton. Each delivered an urgent warning that American democracy itself is at stake.

But it was former President Barack Obama who painted a searing and somber portrait of a democracy on the edge if Donald Trump wins in the fall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This president and those in power, those who benefit from keeping things the way they are, they are counting on your cynicism. They know they can't win you over with their policies, so they're hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote and to convince you that your vote does not matter. That's how a democracy withers, until it's no democracy at all. And we cannot let that happen.

Do not let them take away your power. Do not let them take away your democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Biden's vice-presidential nominee, Kamala Harris, took the baton from Obama and delivered a similar call. It was a deeply personal plea to save the American experiment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESUMPTIVE VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: In this election, we have a chance to change the course of history. We're all in this fight.

Years from now, this moment will have passed and our children and our grandchildren will look in our eyes and they're going to ask us, where were you when the stakes were so high? They will ask us, what was it like? And we will tell them. We will tell them not just how we felt. We will tell them what we did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: And as if to punctuate that warning, 12 hours later, Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's former chief campaign and White House strategist, was indicted for fraud. And Trump all but declared himself the leader of QAnon, a fringe cult-like group that has been labeled a domestic terrorist threat. That follows a conspiracy theory that Trump is a sort of American messiah waging war against a network of cannibalistic pedophiles described -- disguised as Democrats, seriously. I will get to all of that later on this show.

But let's start with a historic week for Democrats. I'm joined by Karine Jean-Pierre, Chief of Staff to Vice Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris and Senior Adviser to the Biden campaign and also my friend. I have not seen you or spoken to you in a minute. I am very excited to see you, young lady.

So give us a preview and tell us everything --

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE KAMALA HARRIS: Thank you, my friend.

REID: Tell us everything we're going to see here tonight. Just spoil all the spoilers. Do it.

JEAN-PIERRE: I'm going to do it right now, Joy. First of all, congratulations on your show. This is my first time on THE REIDOUT.

REID: Yes, it is.

JEAN-PIERRE: So it might be too late to congratulate you, but I'll congratulate anyway.

REID: Thank you. And congratulations to you. By the way, I just want to note for just a moment that you made history, my dear friend, as the first black woman chief of staff to a vice presidential candidate in the United States. That is a big deal. Everyone Haitian-American I know has already (INAUDIBLE) all my inbox. Everyone is very excited and you made history, black girl magic.

JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you so much. Black girl magic as well last night, right, when, look, you just laid it out, as an immigrant, as a black woman, as an American citizen, I could not have been more proud and more moved by watching Kamala Harris receive the vice president nomination, a history maker. And we could not be more proud of her. She laid out a vision, a vision for this country, what a Biden/Harris administration would look like. And this is someone as we know who has been pro-justice, fighting for pro-justice her entire career.

But to your question, Joy, tonight we are going to see a man who is laser-focused on talking about the needs of the American people and as a leader, someone who has been fighting for American -- for the American public and the American dream all his career. He's going to lay out his vision, how to tackle COVID-19 the moment that we're in, how do we rebuild this economy and how do we move this country forward. Because right now, we have a president that all he does is sow chaos, division and destruction really.

And so Vice President Joe Biden is going to talk about how do we bring us together. That's actually what he's been talking about for a long time, the unification of this party, and we saw that. You saw that every night, the last three nights. We saw a party that is ready, ready to lead, ready to deal with the hard issues ahead of us when we do take back the White House. And so that's what I'm really excited about.

As you know, I've worked for the Obama/Biden administration 11 years ago. I had the honor of doing that. And tonight, we're going to see what Joe Biden has in store for our country.

REID: Yes. And in many ways, it was getting the band back together over the last couple of nights where you had President Obama, you obviously had Michelle Obama earlier, you had Kamala Harris. You really are seeing sort of a recapitulation of sort of bringing back together the Obama era.

But added to that where people like Colin Powell, who did endorse President Obama but didn't speak at the convention, and I think that -- seeing him and seeing those voices, you know, even seeing Cindy McCain there, people sort of endorsing him from the other side, what message was that meant to send and what message do you think that also sends to Democrats, this sort of message of people from across the aisle speaking for Joe Biden?

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, I think, look, this is an election that -- the most consequential election of our lifetime. And I think that's the message that we're trying to send as well as unification. Like this is a big tent party. Everybody is welcome, and we cannot do it without building a coalition. And I think that's the message. We're ready to unify, we're ready to bring people together, and we've got to win out there.

You know this, Joy. We cannot win if we do not speak to key constituencies, if we do not have a coalition big enough and strong enough to win in November. That's what it's going to take. And that's what we're bringing this week as we saw every day, every night, people coming together from all stripes, all shades, like you said, across the aisles, trying to say this is it. This is our moment.

If you think about what Obama said last night, you know, he is one of the most popular political figures in the world, and he used his clout last night to send a loud wake-up call, which is vote like your life counts on it, right? Vote like your health and your well-being matters or depends on it. Vote like you've never voted before. Vote for all of us. Vote for our democracy. And that is the message that you heard last night from him and so many others over the last three days.

REID: We have a couple of seconds left. I want to just really quickly play a little bit. We have a little sneak peek of the biographical video that's going to play about Joe Biden really quickly. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The country was losing tens of thousands of jobs a day, and they needed three votes to pass the economic rescue package.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden was handed the task of going to get those three Republican votes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe returned to the place where he had been so effective.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Passionate argument, sympathetic listening, a willingness to make adjustments and accommodations to bring people onboard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the law finally passed, the president tapped his partner to run the program.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Karine Jean-Pierre tell us one thing you know, having known the Bidens for eight years, worked with the administration, that you think people need to know as they go to make the decision about who to vote for for president.

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, Joe Biden is a leader. I think one of the things that you see about him all the time is he knows how to connect with people, his compassion, his heart. And that's what you see from the Bidens. And, honestly, I think one of the things in the beginning of that bio that you just showed is the leadership that we need to get out of this hole that Donald Trump has put us in. We have to dig out of that, and Donald Trump and Kamala Harris as his partner will do that and that is the message. And I think that is the message.

But we can't make that happen unless people go out and vote in November. And that is the message as well. We have to take this very, very seriously. We need to go out and vote.

REID: All right, Karine Jean-Pierre, a pretty great spokesperson for the Biden/Harris campaign, working with Kamala Harris, the vice presidential nominee, thank you so much, my friend, I really appreciate it.

JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you, my friend. Bye-bye.

REID: Thank you very much.

Okay. And last night, former President Obama delivered one of the most direct and sweeping condemnations of his successor that we've ever heard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: For close to four years now, he has shown no interest in putting in the work, no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.

Donald Trump hasn't grown into the job because he can't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: With me now are David Plouffe, a former Obama campaign manager, and an MSNBC Political Analyst, and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. Thank you both for being here.

I'm going to go to you first, David. You also have worked with president. You've also seen up close what it means to run for president and then the gravity of actually becoming president. What do you make of the, I would say, real condemnations of the way that Donald Trump has conducted himself as president that we heard from President Obama last night. A lot of people are surprised by -- he's an institutionalist. It's not something he's normally been willing to do by name. What did you make of it, and what do you make of his critique?

DAVID PLOUFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he didn't, Joy, do it lightly, but he thought the moment demanded it. We are weeks away from the most consequential election not just of our lifetime, maybe in American history. And I think he wanted to lay out in stark terms what's at stake here, which is the future of this country and our democracy.

I think a lot of people were alarmed by the message and that was the point, that if you are thinking about working five hours a week for Joe Biden, you need to work ten. If you think you've talked to all your friends and family about how to vote by mail, double check your list. Like people have to be on it. So I thought it was needed.

I also think that critique, obviously, you saw Bernie Sanders, as well as Michelle Obama, I think really critiqued the Trump presidency and raised the stakes. I'm sure Joe Biden will do some of that tonight. That also gives him a little more space to talk about what he'll do as president.

And tonight is really important. There's three debates and tonight. Those are the four most remaining two and a half hours for Joe Biden. Debates are hard, they're combat. You're getting your head chopped off by your opponent or trying to. This is a speech that you control what you want to say, how you say it, the audiences you're trying to reach.

So I'm excited about this opportunity for Joe Biden tonight because I think more than enough Americans have decided they do not want to rehire Donald Trump, but not everybody is yet convinced they want to hire Joe Biden. So he has got an opportunity tonight to assure people he's up to the job, he's got good ideas, he's got good plans.

And to your last conversation with Karine, like being president isn't just speech making. It's not tweets. It's hiring the right people, making tough calls, running good process, being honest with the American people. And I think Joe Biden can go a long way tonight to building what Barack Obama said last night, which is both raising the stakes but also offering him as the remedy for what ails the country.

REID: Yes. And that brings me to you, Congresswoman, because even with Senator Harris, you know, she laid out both the view of the beloved community and sort of this dream of trying to get back to that vision of America, but she also called Donald Trump a predator and talked about the stakes as well. I think their speeches married well together in that sense.

But you represent, I think, a progressive view that is the idea of not going back to what we had during the Obama era, but going back to something very, very different for the American people. So, for the progressive folks that listen to you, and there are very many who revere you and listen to your voice, what would you, on their behalf, want to hear from Joe Biden tonight?

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Let me just say this has been an unconventional convention because of this global pandemic and it needed to be anyway, because we find ourselves in unprecedented times with an occupant of the Oval Office who has a deficit of empathy, who has created a tsunami of hurt and an abundance of cruelty.

And so what I'm looking to hear from Vice President Biden this evening is for him to build upon what Dr. Biden did. There have been so many powerful moments throughout this convention, many of them created by women, Dr. Biden amongst them.

And when she spoke of him repairing a broken family with love, and just think about what he could do for our nation. What I'm looking for this evening is a unifying message, a vision, and I'm also looking to hear policy, because, again, policy is my love language.

The inequities and disparities and racial injustices that existed long before Donald Trump and this pandemic have only been worsened in this moment. And so that's what I'm looking for is how will he heal the nation, and how will he do that through policy.

And then I think picking up on what President Obama offered, we don't have the luxury of being apathetic or cynical. And the people that I work with and organize in in community do not organize just for an election cycle or a campaign. We organize to build community and to build power.

And so I know in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris we will have partners to do that work with and that they represent the door, not a destination. But right now we have got to be focused on ensuring that they are successful, because as President Obama, so eloquently, in his scathing rebuke articulated, not only are our lives at stake, but our very democracy is.

REID: Yes. And for, you know, David, the task at hand for Biden is actually pretty huge, right? And I think that he's having to follow what you heard from President Obama, as well as, really, from everyone who spoke, including Senator Harris, and the stakes being so high. Obviously, the stakes are high for him.

And I think about the fact that President Obama made that speech from Philadelphia where we will all recall in 2008 he had to make a very important speech, the same location, on the subject of race that was, for a lot of people, solidified the fact that he was definitely going to win, at least for me.

I knew he was going to be president when you heard him say those words. But that was also about racial hearing and the racial reckoning. Do you expect to hear a lot from Joe Biden on that score?

PLOUFFE: I would hope so and expect to. Obviously, that's -- leaving aside the election, it's a central issue in the country, but it's also an important issue in this election. And I also think it's a great contrast to Donald Trump.

What puzzles me, joy, you know, I used to be in politics back in the day and used to think about how many votes you needed to get to win elections. Right now, Donald Trump is losing. This election will probably tighten. He needs to add vote. And the types of people who left him, suburban voters, senior voters, they don't like the racism. They don't like the sexism. They don't like the attacks.

And so, for me, Joe Biden, I think, can set up a very nice contrast with next week. Maybe Trump will surprise us next week and he gives a dry speech about how he's going to rebuild the economy, but that's kind of not the way he rolls. And I think what we're going to see next week is a lot of insults, a lot of lies, a lot of basically white power hours throughout the course of the week and I think Joe Biden can almost rebut that by addressing some of these issues tonight.

So I think he has to, I think he will. And, again, I think that is something where, to the congresswoman's point, just speaking wildly (ph) politically. There's two things you have to do in an election. There's swing voters that truly are undecided. Joe Biden is doing pretty well with them right now. He wants to maintain that. But to win an election, particularly a tough a presidential election, you have to drive turnout and registration. And I think we could use a little more intensity there.

REID: Yes, we shall see. David Plouffe, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, you guys are great. Thank you very much. I really appreciate your time.

And up next on THE REIDOUT, call off the boat parade. A well-known name from Trump world is hauled off a fancy yacht and joins the very long list of Trumpers facing criminal charges.

Plus, Biden's historic night and what he needs to tell American voters, as we just discussed. Senator Cory Booker joins me.

And Trump's now public support for the conspiracy cult, QAnon, which believes, among other ridiculous things, that Trump is a messiah sent to save the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? I mean, you know, if I can help save the world from problems, I'm willing to do it. I'm willing to put myself out there. And we are actually.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Back with more of THE REIDOUT after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Donald Trump's former political adviser Steve Bannon was indicted this morning on conspiracy charges of fraud and money laundering. He was taken into custody from aboard a 154-foot yacht off the coast of Connecticut and arrested by agents for the U.S. Postal Service.

Karma is real.

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York say that Bannon and three other defendants schemed to defraud donors through a nonprofit group called We Build the Wall. To get wall enthusiasts to donate, they assured givers that 100 percent of funds raised would be used toward the construction of a wall, and the organizers wouldn't take a dime.

Instead, hundreds of thousands of dollars were siphoned out for the personal use and benefit of Bannon and the others, using shell companies to keep it all secret.

In other words, Bannon and friends enriched themselves by preying on Trump's supporters. Today, Bannon pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The advisory board of Bannon's group reads like a who's-who of Trump's fan club, including Kris Kobach. In fact, Kobach tied Trump to the scheme last year, telling "The New York Times" -- quote -- "The president said, 'The project has my blessing,' and you can tell the media that" -- unquote.

Now Trump is conveniently trying to distance himself from the whole thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Yes, I haven't been dealing with him for a long period of time, as most of the people in this room know. I know nothing about the project, other than I didn't like -- when I read about it, I didn't like it.

QUESTION: Respectfully, sir, it's not just Steve Bannon. It's Roger Stone. It's Michael Flynn. It's Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen.

What does it say about your judgment that these are the kind of people who you're affiliated with...

TRUMP: Well, I have no idea.

QUESTION: ... and the culture of lawlessness...

TRUMP: Yes. Yes.

QUESTION: ... around people who are involved in the leadership of your 2016 campaign?

TRUMP: Well, no, there was great lawlessness in the Obama administration. They spied on our campaign illegally. And if you look at all of the things and all of the scandals they had, they had tremendous lawlessness.

But I know nothing about it. I was not involved in the project.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Mm-hmm. If it was a drinking game.

Bannon is now one of seven Trump associates from his campaign and administration who have been criminally charged in less than four years. By comparison, here is how that number stacks up against Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama.

Oh, wait, zero -- zero of Obama's people were indicted in his eight years as president.

Joining me now is Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor, and Kurt Bardella, senior adviser to The Lincoln Project. Thank you both for being here.

I'm going to ask you first, Kurt, what you make of this. You were -- you were an adviser to Breitbart. You know Steve Bannon.

Is it all just a grift? This whole thing about xenophobia and building a wall to keep out the brown folks, is it all just a moneymaking grift?

KURT BARDELLA, SENIOR ADVISER, THE LINCOLN PROJECT: I mean, well, first of all, Joy, I thought Mexico was supposed to pay for the wall. That's what I remember from the 2016 campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

BARDELLA: Why there needs to be the existence of an effort raising money to build a wall, I can't quite put my hands on.

But the reality is, this has been the pattern that we have seen from Donald Trump and his criminal enterprise. It's people who take advantage of the American public and who try to outrage them into giving them money, so they can enrich themselves, line their pockets and live a lavish lifestyle.

For all the talk about Donald Trump painting himself as the everyman, as out for the average guy, the working-class American, the reality is, neither Donald Trump, nor anybody who has ever worked for him, from Steve Bannon, to Paul Manafort, to Michael Cohen, to Rick Gates, to Michael Flynn, on and on, none of them live this average lifestyle that they talk about.

They live a life in which they leech off of other people. And Steve Bannon is the ultimate parasite, Joy. He is someone who finds a host, invades it, infects it, and tries to suck it dry, to take every morsel of money and power that he can get to sustain himself.

And, finally, it all caught up with him. I think this is the least surprising thing that I have seen happen in the last four years, is that Steve Bannon being indicted and arrested.

And, really, if you look at the 2016 Republican National Convention, it reads like America's Most Wanted. I mean, you have got all of these people who had close ties to the president, who were in the president's leadership, inner circle, who have been arrested or indicted.

What does that say about Donald Trump?

REID: And, by the way, what you're seeing for the audience there is, that is Steve Bannon exiting the courtroom.

And for Bloomberg, he came out and said to the media there that all of this, this indictment, is just to stop people who want to build the wall.

And I will stay with you just for one moment, Kurt, because they're not leeching off the American people. They're leeching off very particular American people, people who are afraid of demographic change, people who are afraid of Mexican immigrants, people who don't like immigrants from Africa and from other places that are not Europe.

They're leeching off a particular kind of people. And they're getting them. There's one piece in this indictment where it said that people told them that, you know, we don't have -- I don't have a lot of money, but -- I don't have a lot of money, but I'm willing give it to get the wall.

So, they're leeching off a particular kind of people, Kurt.

BARDELLA: Yes.

And it's the people that Steve Bannon trafficked in long before Donald Trump came along, using the platform of Breitbart to bring these racist, xenophobic people together in one place to congregate around and to try to blame anyone who isn't white for the problems that exist in this country.

REID: Yes.

BARDELLA: And it's just -- again, this is just the next iteration, the manifestation of that to a new level.

REID: Yes.

BARDELLA: And you're right, Joy.

Again, it's Steve Bannon and Donald Trump and the Stephen Millers of the world preying on these racist white nationalists. And, again, it's exactly, by the way, what we're going to see all next week at the Republican National...

(CROSSTALK)

REID: It should be fun.

It's the same people the MyPillow guy is selling a miracle cure to. Apparently, he's got a miracle cure for COVID.

Let's go to get Glenn in here.

Here are the people who are indicted, Steve Bannon, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea.

What I find very interesting here, in reading this indictment, Glenn, is that the -- when Bannon gets into this, he doesn't get into the scheme until they have already raised more than $20 million. And then the -- you know, the funding entity that they're using, the -- whatever it is, the GoFundMe type of entity, says, oh, wait a minute, we can't turn this money over to you unless you have got a genuine charity that you're going to give this money to.

And so Bannon whips up the charity, and then uses that to funnel the money to Kolfage and the others.

This is a pretty classic -- what do you call this kind of a scheme? Is it a Ponzi scheme? Like, what would you call it?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think what I would call it is Steve Bannon and company taking a chapter out of money laundering for dummies, because when you look at some of what's contained in the indictment, there are shell companies set up to launder the money.

There are fake invoices generated. There are sham vendors, which I can tell you, as a former prosecutor, it's not that hard to unravel a criminal scheme like this.

So, you know, this is amateur hour. And this is another example -- I'm with Kurt -- of Steve Bannon, who is just taking every opportunity to grift.

As Kurt said, Mexico was supposed to pay for the wall. Then Donald Trump was robbing Peter to pay Paul by taking funds that had been appropriated for military use and diverting them to his vanity project, the wall.

And all of these people are running around paying too much for red hats that are made in China. This is just more of the same with Trump and companies' incessant grifting.

REID: And, by the way, one of the things that was taken from them is a marine boat named the Warfighter.

Brian Kolfage, who has been a lot on FOX talking about the wall, a Land Rover Range Rover, that is what he was buying.

I wanted to stay with you for just a minute, Kurt, because this is just one of the things.

You also had texted, when we were texting with our producers, about William Barr, because I wonder whether William Barr winds up jumping into this and saving Steve Bannon, as he saved other friends of Trump.

Do you worry about that?

BARDELLA: Well, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

REID: No, I mean -- I'm sorry, to Glenn. I apologize. I mean to Glenn.

Sorry.

(CROSSTALK)

KIRSCHNER: OK.

I was actually somewhat surprised, Joy, when I saw this indictment handed down, because we all know what William Barr did to the Roger Stone case.

REID: Right.

KIRSCHNER: We all know what William Barr is trying to do to the Mike Flynn case. He's trying to tank it.

So, I kind of raised an eyebrow when I saw that Bill Barr let this one slip by. And I assume he was consulted. So, we will have to see moving forward what Bill Barr does, because one of the big-ticket questions is, does Steve Bannon want to fight these charges and go to trial?

It looks like it's a pretty strong case against him. Or does he want to consider cooperating with the Southern District of New York prosecutors? But that will mean he has to give up not only his three co-defendants in this case, but you can bet they are going to debrief him out the wazoo about what he knows about Donald Trump shenanigans, abuses, crimes and misconduct.

So, you know, Steve Bannon has got a big decision to make.

REID: Well, I mean, very quickly, just for -- and we are way out of time, Glenn.

You have already had Barr fire Geoffrey Berman, who was a previous U.S. attorney. He's got a history of intervening.

Could he ultimately face some sort of sanction with his -- the fact -- if he intervenes again? Could there be anything that might stop him from doing it, a fear of himself facing some sort of sanction?

KIRSCHNER: It doesn't seem like anything has stopped him thus far.

The only thing that will ever, you know, result in Bill Barr being held accountable is voting Trump out in November, and then, beginning in January, launching the Trump crimes commission to hold so -- fair apolitical grand jury investigations into all of the crimes that we have seen other the past four years.

REID: Yes.

Glenn Kirschner, Kurt Bardella, Thank you guys very much. Really appreciate it.

Up next on THE REIDOUT:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D-AZ): Words once came easily. Today, I struggle to speak. But I have not lost my voice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: More from Gabby Giffords and the other inspirational voices making themselves heard at the Democratic Convention -- after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I wish Donald Trump knew how to be a president, because America needs a president right now.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Joe Biden is the president we need right now.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): I love a good plan, and Joe Biden has some really good plans.

GIFFORDS: America needs all of us to speak out, even when you have to fight to find the words. Vote, vote, vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Last night's DNC set the stage for tonight's historic night for Joe Biden, when he accepts the Democratic presidential nomination.

And joining me now is Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, who will be speaking at the convention tonight.

And, Senator, you ran against this man. You have been on the stage with him in a debate setting.

So, preview it for us. What do you expect him to say tonight? What do you expect from him? And do you think that he will shine in this format? It's one we're not used to seeing him in.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Well, look, I think that America is going to feel him.

He's a guy that has said that this is about the soul of our nation. And this convention, we have talked about the issues, from health care, to gun violence, to even foreign policy and the urgencies on a global context, like issues like climate change.

But, tonight, I think you're going to hear him talk about that, but you're going to hear him talk from his heart. And I'm just excited, because I know that I think that that's what America needs. We need his decency. We need his grace. We need his honor.

REID: "The New York Times," in their preview, has called it the speech that Joe Biden has been preparing for his entire life.

It says "Mr. Biden's speech will be -- Biden's speech will be fashioned accordingly to meet the moment, more sober than jubilant, more restrained than swaggering, and his most ambitious effort yet to offer the American people a vision of steady leadership and national unity, in the face of extraordinary crises."

There's some polling, including the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, which shows that people are determined to vote for Joe Biden, but, even if they are, they're not like super optimistic about the future or satisfied. They're more so than with Trump.

But what people seem to want, when you dig deeper into the poll, are more policies. What will he do about coronavirus? What will he do about the economic recovery? How will he restore America's vision in the world? What will they know about his life story?

Does he need to lay out, as Congresswoman Pressley said, policy in order to make people feel not just determined, but also enthusiastic?

BOOKER: Well, remember, this is a president who has been trying to shake our confidence in our government, in our principal institutions, everything from his attacks on the intelligence community, to his attacks on the media itself.

So, coming off of Donald Trump, I understand that a lot of people are beginning to question or feel uncertain about our future.

But I think that Joe Biden has shown -- and we have seen in this incredible few nights about how he has faced economic uncertainty before. He was the vice president during an economic decline of dramatic proportions. He has faced down the threats of pandemics. He has been in that Situation Room.

So, this is one of the most qualified people to ever serve in that office. And so I have a lot of confidence that he can balance tonight between showing us that he knows his stuff and also showing us that, when it comes to his heart and spirit, that he's got the right stuff.

REID: You are speaking tonight.

Do you want to tell us a little -- give us a little preview of what you're going to say? I'm going to show the list of speakers here. You're on a -- you're in a good list here. You have got -- Beto O'Rourke is also speaking, a lot of people not necessarily thrilled Michael Bloomberg will be speaking. I wonder if he ever gave that money, all the money that he showed. I don't know that he's given all of the money that he promised.

Andrew Yang, and the mayor of -- Keisha Lance Bottoms, mayor of Atlanta.

What do you -- what is your message tonight?

BOOKER: Well, I'm honored to be included on such a spectacular handful of nights, to have a very, very small part.

And you know me, Joy. I ran a whole presidential campaign talking about that we needed more courageous empathy in this country, that we need to be caring for each other, looking out for each other, and, ultimately, recognizing that, in this nation, we're in this together, and the lines that divide us are nowhere near as strong as the ties that bind us.

So I'm looking forward to sharing for a very brief period of time --

REID: Yeah, yeah.

BOOKER: -- a lot of my heart and affirmation of this ticket and especially this great dynamic duo of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

REID: And I know Kamala is your friend. So give me the ten-second review of her -- of her speech last night.

BOOKER: I could do the knocking it out of the park. I can tell you that I reached for those tissues. I can tell you my phone was blowing up with family even who were celebrating last night. So it was history.

But I'll tell you this. This might be surprising to you. I'm not satisfied.

She's the nominee, but I want her and Joe to be elected to those positions and become the president and vice president of the United States. That's victory for me and the start of another era of us doing repair, renewal and rebuilding.

REID: Senator Cory Booker of the great state of New Jersey, thank you very much. Always appreciate you being here. Thank you.

BOOKER: Thank you.

REID: All right. Good luck tonight.

And be sure to check out NBC's interactive "Plan Your Vote" guide. You'll find everything you need to know about casting your ballot, voting rules and deadlines in your state, so get registered and plan your vote.

Still ahead, Donald Trump has shown he will do anything to stay in power, even if it means tearing down the institutions he is sworn to protect.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Over the past few years, we've seen Donald Trump cozy up to world dictators, autocrats and despots. And like them Trump has shown that he would be willing to do almost anything to remain in power, even if it means burning down the institutions he swore to protect.

Over the last few months we've seen him relentlessly attack mail-in voting and the postal service. Why? Because the agency would have the audacity to deliver the ballots that would boot him from office in November. He all but admitted that's why he's not making a deal.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TRUMP: If we don't make a deal, that means they don't get their money. That means we can't have universal mail-in voting. You just can't have it.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

REID: He continued to disparage our intelligence agencies as they warn that foreign actors are still trying to interfere in our elections. Trump told us last year that he'd still welcome their help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NWES HOST: Your campaign this time, if foreigners, Russia, China, someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept it or call the FBI?

TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. There's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent. Oh, I think I'd want to hear it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP: It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Hmm. And just yesterday, the president embraced a conspiracy group that the FBI has labeled a domestic terrorism threat. Why? Because they like him, and that's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: Over a year ago, the FBI identified the fringe conspiracy group QAnon as a domestic terrorist threat, writing that such a group could very likely motivate some domestic extremists wholly or in part to commit criminal or sometimes violent activity.

So, with that warning from the FBI, you'd think with that warning from the FBI, you would Donald Trump would be wary of embracing them, right? Wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, I don't know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much. I heard these are people that love our country.

REPORTER: The theory is this belief that you are secretly saving the world from this satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals. Does that sound like something you are behind or --

TRUMP: Well, I haven't -- I haven't heard that, but is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? If I can help save the world from problems, I'm willing to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Joining me now is Charlie Sykes, editor at large at "The Bulwark".

And, Charlie, you have been in the wild word of right wing talk radio, so you know it gets crazy out there with a lot of things people will believe.

Here is some other stuff that QAnon has thrown on the table. They believe the world is run by a cabal of satanic child-eating cannibals, and Donald Trump is personally waging a secret war to stop them. They believe Obama is a secret Muslim, as if there is something wrong with being a Muslim and it's not a secret, and that pics will surface of Hussein wearing an AK-47 in tribal attire. I thought they like guns.

There are secret videos of Hillary Clinton murdering children they believe and they believe JFK Jr. is secretly alive and advising the president.

What does it mean for the Republican Party that there are more than a dozen candidates for Congress who believe that stuff and that Trump is into it? Trump seems to think it's great because they like him?

CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE BULWARK: Well, it tells you that the crazy is strong. How intense this alternative reality has become where you can have this kind of toxic insanity spread. There is actually two parts of this. Number one, there are the candidates who have been -- who have been embracing this. That's been shocking and some people have distanced themselves.

But it's still, Joy, it is staggering to watch the president of the United States embracing this. I mean, this is in a whole new category even for Donald Trump. I hope people will realize that.

I'm really glad you went through the full craziness of all of this. The -- you know, we use words like racism and sexism and xenophobia and everything. But when, you know, when you start drilling down into the real sickness here and what that tells me is that Donald Trump thinks that they're part of his constituency, that saying nice things about him helps his election campaign and that Republicans really think that they need this group out there and they're willing to look the other way.

REID: Well, I mean, you have got Donald Trump retweeting one of the women who won one of the congressional candidates. You've got Mike Flynn allegedly, apparently taking the QAnon pledge. You've got a few Republicans that have said, no, no, no, please no, but it is not like they are leading a movement to oust QAnon. They're criticizing it.

But what is the party doing to get rid of this? Are they just saying these are our voters, we have to embrace them?

SYKES: Yeah, no, they're rolling over. They're rolling over once again. A healthy political party will engage in certain acts of political hygiene and saying, look, you know, we can't have this. We can't -- we cannot embrace this because it's crazy. It is offensive. It is going to lose us votes. The Republican Party has lost its ability to do that. The immune system to this kind of thing has been destroyed.

And you mention, you know, some of the congressional candidates that the president has tweeted. I think it's worth actually looking at who they are because they want to lure down Florida. You could say that she is a far right extremist. But she's a detestable human being who revels in cruelty, who applauds the death of migrants, who refers to Muslims as savages.

When somebody tweeted out that 2,000 migrants died in the Mediterranean. She tweeted out 2,000 more when 51 people were murdered by a white nationalist terrorist in New Zealand, she took to social media to say she didn't care. So, this is somebody who is now being embraced by the president of the United States.

REID: Well --

SYKES: And this is something that Republicans need to confront and own.

REID: It's not a tiny thing either. It's not like -- I mean, there were people who also believed there were children locked in the basement of comic -- of a pizza shop in D.C. that doesn't have a basement. And so, you know, it's not a small group of people who get on to rich conspiracies. It's a big group, 900 Facebook -- this is just on Facebook. Facebook has shut down 900 Facebook pages and groups, 1,500 Facebook ads, 10,000 Instagram pages, 2,000 Facebook groups.

This is not a tiny movement inside of the Republican Party. It's becoming mainstream.

SYKES: Right. And this is one of the consequences of Donald Trump's presidency, is that he has given these -- he's the wind beneath their wings for all of this. Now he's given even more of a green light. One of the reasons why Republicans are being silenced is the usually explanation of cowardice, they don't want to take on the president, but also because they recognize that there are millions of people that believe this.

REID: Yeah.

SYKES: So, and frankly this may be Donald Trump's legacy. Even after he leaves, this is what he has done to the American culture.

REID: But this has happened before. I mean, Donald Trump pretended he didn't know who David Duke was. There is video of him condemning David Duke on the Larry King show. So, he pretends he doesn't know, but he really knows.

Is this a similar thing? Because there were a lot of people who voted for David Duke, a majority of white voters in the state of Louisiana did twice, statewide. So is this just a consequence of the party embracing a fringe before Donald Trump even got there?

SKYES: Yes, it is. I was actually thinking about this. That's an excellent parallel. I'm tempted to say go back to his Charlottesville comment about the tiki torch yielding racists who said Jews will not replace us and how he described them as good people.

I'm more tempted to say what happened yesterday is that on steroids where he is now using the full weight of the presidency to give a green light to all of these ugly elements, which tell you the kind of campaign that he's going to run, that he is going to push this culture war as far as he can, and it's not just not to say that I disagree with the Democrats. They are evil. They are bad. They are part of a satanic cult of cannibals and pedophiles.

REID: Yeah.

SKYES: This is what we're up against over the next 74, 75 days.

REID: Next week is going to be epic. Charlie Sykes, oh, it's going to be weird. It is a historic night.

Thank you very much for being here, Charlie. Really appreciate it.

It is a historic night as Joe Biden accepts the nomination for president taking down the mantle handed down to him from FDR, JFK, LBJ and Barack Obama.

So stay right here. After the break, I will be back with Rachel Maddow and Nicolle Wallace for full coverage of the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention.

Stay right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.END

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