IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The ReidOut, August 21, 2020

Guests: Shyne Barrow, Val Demings, Josh Shapiro, Al Franken, Alaina Beverly, Elie Mystal


President Trump ramps up efforts to discredit mail-in voting. Trump tries to sow doubts about election vote-counting. Democratic Party luminaries urge Americans to get out and vote. Trump says law enforcement, U.S. attorneys, state attorneys general will act as poll watchers. Postmaster testifies before Senate panel. Representative Demings predicts Trump will seek to corrupt election.


SHYNE BARROW, BELIZEAN RAPPER: So, really, I try to lead by example and always, whether it'd be policy and legislation, or whether it'd be being a Grammy Award-winning -- putting on a number one album and a number two album, and not just albums but classic albums that you enjoy --

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Respect. Respect. I'm going to hand the mic --


MELBER: Oh, thank you, sir. I've got to hand the mic to Joy Reid. Shyne Barrow, thank you, thank you for telling us about your journey and good luck in your campaign.

That does it for us. REIDOUT with Joy Reid starts now.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. Well, it's been 20 years since Bush versus Gore, 20 years since hundreds of Republican operatives descended upon South Florida staging a mini-riot demanding an end to the statewide recount of the election on behalf of George w Bush, orchestrated by Roger Stone and his ilk, the Brooks Brothers protests were organized to create a distraction and object to the legitimate recount.

20 years later, the new Republican in town, Donald Trump, who happens to be a crony of the now felonious Mr. Stone, is staging his objections in advance. Vice President Joe Biden is leading in the polls and at the DNC Convention this week, he showed himself to be a worthy candidate to replace Trump at 1600 Black Lives Matter Plaza. And so Trump clearly fearing he can't win the election on points, is trying to change the rules of the game, trying to sew doubt that any election that doesn't guarantee that he stays in power is, by definition, illegitimate.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think this is a very disgraceful situation. I really don't think that you're going to know anything on the evening, anything meaningful or anything real on the evening of November 3rd. I don't think you're going to know anything. You're not going to know what happened.


REID: To make matters worse for the former reality show star, Democrats this week staged a solid, well-produced national convention that was strong enough both as just television and in terms of reaffirming how crucial it is to preserve and use our right to vote.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got to vote early, in-person, if we can. We've got to ask our mail-in ballots right now tonight and send them back immediately.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: So I think we need to ask ourselves, why don't they want us to vote? Why is there so much effort to silence our voices? And the answer is because when we vote, things change.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D-GA), ATLANTA: We must pass on the gift John Lewis sacrificed to give us. We must register and we must vote.


REID: Trump wages the public campaign against just the idea of elections. His campaign lawyers (ph) are working behind the scenes to make sure that voting is as difficult as possible. According to the Republican National Committee, there are roughly 40 lawsuits underway against multiple states, including crucial swing states like Pennsylvania, Nevada, Wisconsin, Florida. Republicans are also recruiting nearly 50,000 poll watchers to watch and presumably to intimidate people while they try to vote.

And Trump isn't hiding the ball on this intimidation strategy. He is bragging about it on T.V.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Are you going to have poll watchers? Are you going to have an ability to monitor to avoid fraud?

TRUMP: We're going to have everything. We're going to have sheriffs and we're going to have law enforcement and we're going to have hopefully U.S. attorneys and we're going to have everybody, and attorney generals.


REID: And we've seen one all the other -- we've seen one of the other parts of the plan, involving what has been a full-blown assault on the U.S. Postal Service. Earlier today, the postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, assured senators that recent steps taken to remove equipment were apolitical. Although he made clear that he has no intention of replacing the sorting equipment in mailboxes he had removed around the country. The Trump administration has faced major blowback from the delivery days that resulted ahead of the election.

And Trump's behavior has prompted the editorial board of The Washington Post to warn Americans against giving him a second term. In a scathing piece published today, they write that Trump has sought to undermine the confidence and democracy itself, lying about the prevalence of fraud, floating the possibility of delaying the election and even suggesting he might not accept its results. These are high crimes and misdemeanors, as the framers of the Constitution understood the term. But this time, it's up to us, the American people, to remove Mr. Trump from office.

For more, I'm joined now by Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida, a member of the House Judiciary, Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees, and also, as we all know, an impeachment manager against one Donald J. Trump. Congresswoman, it's always great to see you.

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Joy, it's so good to be with you. And let me just congratulate you on THE REIDOUT. You look good in this time.

REID: Thank you very much. I truly appreciate that. It's always great to talk to my -- I'm a former Floridian, so I'm forever Florida.

DEMINGS: Well, I know.

REID: I appreciate talking with you.

So I want to play back a little bit of what you said. One of the arguments that you made in the attempt to get Donald Trump convicted of high crimes and misdemeanors, which The Washington Post also referred to, here you are talking about Donald Trump.


DEMINGS: The evidence confirms that if left in office, President Trump will continue to harm our America's national security. He will continue to seek to corrupt the upcoming election. And he will undermine, he will undermine our democracy all to further his own personal gain.


REID: What do you make of the fact that given all of the warnings that you all gave, that the impeachment managers gave, and given the fact that Donald Trump has lived down to all of those warnings, he's done almost everything that you all have talked about, that Republicans, elected Republicans in the House, the Senate, and the governors of states like Florida, are 100 percent behind him still?

DEMINGS: Well, Joy, it's not just the warnings that we gave during the impeachment trial. Donald Trump has reminded us of what he will do since the election. What is it that Maya Angelo said, when people show you who they are, believe them. And as a candidate, Donald Trump invited Russia to interfere in the election. As the president of the United States, he stood on the west lawn and invited China to interfere in the election.

And so, you know -- and I think about -- I refer to Donald Trump as a habitual offender. He cannot help himself. And I knew, as an impeachment manager, during the trial, looking at past behavior that he would continue to re-offend as he has done.

He is scared to death. He has seen the polls. He knows that there are people in his own party that are abandoning ship finally. I was so disappointed at the GOP during the impeachment trial and quite frankly some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle in the House.

But he is going to now try to everything that he can to just prevent people from voting. And he's trying to use the post office, the United States Postal Service as his biggest weapon.

REID: Yes. And, you know, as a former law enforcement officer, he said that he's going to put sheriffs and law enforcement officers at the polls to watch and intimidate people. Just as a former law enforcement officer, what do you make of that?

DEMINGS: And let me just say this, and I'm glad you asked that question because I was going to clear that up. Law enforcement is routinely at the polling places because, as you know, we are hoping that it gets really crowded, the lines are so long and they help people get safely in and out of the polling places. That is their primary responsibility. But it does sound like this president is going to try to use law enforcement in a different way.

I cannot imagine the police chiefs and the sheriffs across this nation allowing the president of the United States in his desperate state to use law enforcement in any way to try to decide an election, try to intimidate voters. That's not the oath that they took. They didn't take it to Trump, they took it to the Constitution of the United States. And I would expect them, certainly as a former police chief, to uphold that oath.

REID: You mentioned the Constitution. Donald Trump seems to find it to be an annoyance. Here he is talking about the fact that he claims that we may not be able to decide the election for months, years maybe. And he seems to think that if it's not decided that somehow on January 20th, you know, the Constitution says, you know, it's fine, Trump, just stay in office. He seems to think he would stay in.

Here he is talking about what would happen, in his mind, if there's no decision on November 3rd.


TRUMP: There is a theory that if you don't have it, and that's just part of their whole act, that if you don't have a choice, that the speaker of the House becomes president and that, I think, goes into effect either on the 20th or the 1st. And put that in the hopper. Add that to everything else. It's a disgrace.


REID: That would be -- he thinks the Constitution is a disgrace. That's not a theory. That's actually what the Constitution says, that if no decision is made who the president is on January 20th, the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, becomes the president. That's actually just a fact.

What do you make of the -- who is -- if Donald Trump is not being told by his own legal advisers that that is the fact, do you -- are you concerned that there are people in the White House and people in the Justice Department who are telling Donald Trump that he can stay in office and reinforcing he can stay in office, that the Marco Rubio's of the world who are busy fighting with Steve Schmidt on Twitter are telling Donald Trump, we'll let you stay in office?

Do worry that Republicans, like Marco Rubio, like Rick Scott, would be okay with him trying to stay in office even if he lost the election?

DEMINGS: Joy, Donald Trump has a laundry list of violations of the Constitution, the rule of law. He's trying to destroy our democracy and, quite frankly, I haven't heard any senator from Florida try to hold him accountable. I don't think they're saying anything out of fear of what this president will do, afraid of a tweet or whatever other foolishness that this president engages in.

So I don't think they're telling him anything, and it would be absolutely disgraceful for the leaders in the Senate, and including the Justice Department, to just stand around and let this president continue to do what he's trying to do to uphold, to stop this election, to sabotage this election and the people's right to vote.

And so here, again, you know, I think about the House of Representatives during the impeachment trial, and actually, quite frankly, doing the shenanigans that the president has been involved in over the last two years. Think about where we would be were it not for the fire wall in the House of Representatives. And so we're going to continue to do everything within our power to stop him from trying to stop Americans from exercising their right to vote.

REID: Well, Congresswoman Val Demings, it's always good to talk to you. This is my own editorial comment, that when we have a sister here who is not afraid to be a chief of police and the boss of one of the largest police forces in the country and to drive a Harley, to have these grown men senators be afraid of him tweeting at them, shame on them. Shame on them.

DEMIGNS: It's disgraceful.

REID: Yes, that's disgraceful. Thank you very much, Val Demings. I appreciate that.

And as I mentioned, the Trump campaign is suing the State of Pennsylvania in an effort to stop people from dropping ballots off at secure locations. They're also suing to allow for election, quote, monitors to challenge the eligibility of voters. And for more I'm joined by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

And my first question to you, Attorney Shapiro, is can you stop this? Can you stop Donald Trump from sending these monitors who have no legal authority to intimidate people at the polls and try to challenge their right to vote?

JOSH SHAPIRO (D), PENNSYLVANIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, Joy, it's good to be with you. And congrats on a great first month, I think I'm a day before that, but congratulations.

Look, we have a long track record in Pennsylvania and my fellow Democratic attorneys general have a long track record of holding this president accountable when he breaks the law. And, sadly, he breaks the law a lot. And now, what he's doing in Pennsylvania is actually suing us over a law that was passed, by the way, with more Republican votes than Democratic votes, that's supposed to make it easier for people to legally participate in our democracy, he's suing us to make it harder for people to vote.

And, Joy, to answer your question directly, yes, we will prevail. We will stop his efforts to undermine the vote here in Pennsylvania, as we've stopped his efforts to undermine our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, as we've stopped his efforts to undermine our planet and so many other issues time and time again. We're in court right now.

Let me give you a concrete example of what's happening in court. This president tweets and makes statements about how they're all kinds of voter fraud in Pennsylvania. So we said in our court filings, hey, Mr. President, put up or shut up. Show us that evidence. And you know what they did? His lawyers filed a brief with the court that demonstrated that there was zero fraud in the last election here in Pennsylvania. They can't even back up their ridiculous tweets and assertions that he makes.

So we're not going to back down to this president. I may not ride a Harley like Val Demings, who's incredibly cool and incredibly competent, but I'll tell you what, I do know how to take this president to court and I do know how to win and that's what we're doing here in Pennsylvania right now.

REID: I'm sure Pennsylvania voters appreciate that. I want to play for you one Louis DeJoy, because there's a tale of two lawsuits in Pennsylvania right now. There's the lawsuit with the Trump suing your state. But then you, your state, is also a part of a lawsuit by multiple states trying to stop the post office from basically being shattered in order to help Donald Trump win an election.

Here is Louis DeJoy testifying today, saying that -- about whether or not he's going to give the machines back that he took away.


SEN. GARY PETERS (D-MI): Well, when we've heard about these orders, you addressed that earlier. Will you be bringing back any mail sorting machines that have been removed since you became postmaster general? Will any of those come back?

LOUIS DEJOY, POSTMASTER GENERAL, U.S. POSTAL SERVICE: There is no intention to do that. They are not needed, sir.

PETERS: You will not bring back any processors?

DEJOY: They're not needed, sir.


REID: Give us the sort of structure of what your lawsuit is. What is your lawsuit alleging and what do you think it will help? How will it help?

SHAPIRO: So, I filed a lawsuit, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania together with several other states, including states like California, Massachusetts. And what we alleged in our suit is that the structural changes that DeJoy and his cronies made back in July slowed down the mail by altering the way the shifts work.

And as a result of that, we've got, for example, veterans here in Pennsylvania who aren't getting their prescription drugs on time and they're spoiling in the mail. We've got small businesses who were really struggling because they're not getting their mail on time. I just heard from a small business owner roofer in Southeastern Pennsylvania today who struggled with that. And people are worried, of course, that their ballots aren't going to be getting there on time.

So we sued in order to get DeJoy in order to roll back those structural changes they made in July. And if you listen to his words, he refused to commit to that. Now,

he put out a press release a few days ago, he made some statements, but what we've learned is you can't trust Donald Trump or his enablers, like DeJoy. I want proof. We deal with facts and evidence as attorneys general. That's what the law is all about, and DeJoy has offered us no binding agreement that he's going to roll back those July changes. And as a result, we've taken him to court. And we're going to do everything in our power to secure and protect every vote here in Pennsylvania.

Look, I just want to stress this. Joy, voting is safe. We've been doing this for centuries. Trump knows this. But he carries on to try to sow doubt. His recklessness and his unlawful behavior has a goal, it's to make us feel powerless. And I'm here to tell you that the people of Pennsylvania, people of United States of America, we have the power in this election and we've got to vote.

REID: All right. Well, you don't need a Harley, because protecting voters and saving the post office is pretty cool. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, thank you very, much. I really appreciate it. Have a great weekend.

And up next on THE REIDOUT --


TRUMP: Think of the smoldering ruins in Minneapolis, the violent anarchy of Portland, the blood-stained sidewalks of Chicago and imagine the mayhem coming to your town.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I'll be an ally of the light, not the darkness.


REID: Darkness versus light. Former Senator Al Franken joins me on Biden's vision and the stark, stark contrast with Trump.

Plus, how ugly will it get at Trump's dark coronation next week? The guest list offers some clues.

Plus, Vladimir Putin knows that with Trump in the White House, he can get away with murder and he may have just tried to do that.

THE REIDOUT continues after this.


REID: Joe Biden's acceptance speech was a stark contrast to the American carnage Donald Trump has peddled throughout his entire presidency, including his attempt to troll his opponent in Biden's Pennsylvania hometown yesterday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you want a vision of your life under a Biden presidency, imagine the mayhem coming to your town and every single town in America.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I will be an ally of the light, not the darkness.

TRUMP: They're coming to get you. Me, we, we're the wall between the American dream and total insanity.

BIDEN: We can choose a path of becoming angrier, or we can choose a different path, and together take this chance to heal.

TRUMP: We're dealing with crazy people on the other side. They have gone totally stone-cold crazy.

BIDEN: I will be an American president. That's the job of a president, to represent all of us, not just our base.


REID: Um, they're coming to get you?

And late tonight, whew, Biden struck another contrast with Trump on coronavirus.


QUESTION: Would you be prepared to shut this country down again?

BIDEN: I would be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives, because we cannot get the country moving until we control the virus. That is the fundamental flaw of this administration's thinking to begin with.

QUESTION: So, if the scientists say, shut it down?

BIDEN: I would shut it down. I would listen to the scientists.


REID: Wow.

I'm joined now by former Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, host of "The Al Franken Podcast."

And, Senator, you know Joe Biden. Donald Trump has tried to portray the convention that we all just watched for four days as some dark and terrifying, you know, scary horror show. And then he's out there saying, they're coming to get you. These are crazy people.

Did you see four days of scary, crazy people in the convention?

FMR. SEN. AL FRANKEN (D-MN): I think the crazy person may be somebody else.

That was a beautiful -- mention, that was a great speech. The contrast, it's night and day. As he said, it's light vs. darkness.

This -- Joe Biden showed who he was. And this was a beautiful convention. You saw him with the conductor. You saw Brayden Harrington, who was inspired by -- the kid who stuttered. That was so moving.

And you saw who Joe Biden is. And when you talk about that -- you saw that interview on the science. He knows that you have to you have to go to the science, and not your son-in-law, for goodness' sakes.

REID: Yes.

FRANKEN: This was a beautiful convention, I thought.

REID: And you're right. And it was such a contrast.

Just on the contrast front, I want to play you two back to back.


REID: This is Joe Biden doing something that we haven't seen Donald Trump do, to speak directly to the grief of the 170,000 families who have lost someone to coronavirus. Here he is.


BIDEN: Look, I understand.

I understand how hard it is to have any hope right now. On this summer night, let me take a moment to speak to those you who have lost the most.

First, your loved one may have left this earth, but they'll never leave your heart. They'll always be with you. You will always hear them.

And second, I've found the best way through pain and loss and grief is to find purpose.


REID: OK. And now here's Donald Trump when being asked by NBC's Peter Alexander what he would say to the people who are grieving.


PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What do you say to Americans were scared, though, I guess, nearly 200 dead, 14,000 who are sick, millions, as you witnessed, who are scared right now?

What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?

TRUMP: I say that you're a terrible reporter. That's what I say.


TRUMP: I think that's a very nasty question. And I think it's a very bad signal that you're putting out to the American people.


REID: Do you anticipate the Republican Party and Donald Trump addressing the pandemic at all next week? And, if so, what would you anticipate?

FRANKEN: Well, first of all, how horrible was that?

And if you're any kind of politician and someone asks you that, that's a lob. That's a softball right over the plate to talk about your empathy for people, which he has none.

These guys could not be more opposite.

Yes, he will talk about how he saved millions of lives by closing most -- the air travel from China, which he actually didn't really do.

But this issue -- this is the biggest issue of the campaign is how spectacularly this guy failed at dealing with this pandemic, and that has to do with not just the 170,000-plus deaths, but it has to do with the destruction, the collapse of our economy.

Both of those are on Donald Trump. And that is going to be the biggest issue in this campaign, and rightfully so.

And what he laid out last night, Joe Biden, was exactly what we should have been doing from the beginning, which is testing, that you can test that day, immediately, and then trace, contact tracing, isolation, and wearing masks, and social distancing.

It's -- every other -- not every other country, but almost every other country has done this. If you look at South Korea, they had their first infection on the same day we did.

They have lost, I think, 300-and-some people.

REID: Yes.

FRANKEN: This is -- and this guy has no -- no empathy at all for anyone. That is so clear.

REID: There's a sense -- there's a performative aspect to being president.

There's part of it that's doing policy and doing -- running the entire government. But there's also a performative aspect of it.

And Donald Trump has obviously not been able to grasp the part that -- where you show empathy. And I think Joe Biden, he does that naturally. Trump would have to work at it. He hasn't.

Today, he did something that struck a lot of us just watching it, as we were on our show calls earlier, as being odd.

Unfortunately, his brother, his younger brother, Robert, passed away, and God rest his soul. And we really give our condolences to the Trump family on a loss of his younger brother.

But he did not die in Washington, D.C. But, today, his funeral was held in the White House, and so that you had this image of Donald Trump exiting the White House with the coffin of his brother to show -- and, in a sense, it appeared that this was a response to what we saw this week, that he wanted to show his own sort of image of grieving.

I mean, is that -- I don't know if that's unfair of me to say, but I have never seen him perform that kind of thing. But to have it coming out of the White House, I don't know there's ever been a funeral for somebody who wasn't president of the United States in the White House.

FRANKEN: You know, he lost his brother, and he wanted to celebrate his brother and mourn for brother.

I think that's fine. I mean, I -- there's nothing about Donald Trump that I like, that I trust, that I admire, but, on that one, that was his younger brother.

REID: Yes.

And you don't think that using the White House in that way was in a way -- in any way inappropriate?

FRANKEN: Everything he does is inappropriate.


FRANKEN: So, you know, I don't want to say in this instance, this one instance.

REID: Yes.

FRANKEN: Everything else he's ever done is inappropriate.

REID: I think that's absolutely fair.

Senator Al Franken, always great to see you. Have a wonderful weekend. Thank you.

FRANKEN: And you, too.

REID: Thank you.

And still ahead: the collective shrug from the White House after an outspoken political opponent of Vladimir Putin ends up in a coma after a suspected poisoning.

THE REIDOUT will be right back.


REID: Former Vice President and would-be president Joe Biden needed to give the speech of his life last night. And, by all accounts, mine included, in a speech that was as poignant as it was plainspoken, he did.

He pledged to get the coronavirus under control and stop the mass death that we're seeing under the current administration, and turn the economy around for the 50 million unemployed, and to restore a spirit of national unity, no small tasks.

There was also a section in the speech in which Biden focused on foreign policy, as part of his pledge to overcome what he called the season of darkness that we're all trapped in. And he vowed to be an ally of the light.

Biden pointedly promised to be -- quote -- "an American president." That kind of implies that that's not clearly what we have right now.

The current occupant of the White House got in with Russia's help, and he seems bound and determined to serve their interests whenever possible and to ignore the really alarming things that that they do, like allegedly putting bounties on our troops and interfering in our elections.

Biden, in his speech, directly vowed to stand up against all that. Trump never has.

An American president, any of them, post-World War II would have led the international outcry if, just months after ex-KGB agent Vladimir Putin essentially declared himself president for life, Russia's strongest opposition leader turned up potentially poisoned and comatose under very suspicious circumstances.

We got that very news about Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny just hours before Joe Biden gave his speech last night.

And what we got from the current president of the United States was not much. Trump's National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien called it concerning. Trump himself said, you know, we're looking at it.

That's not the way American presidents typically react to the poisoning of an opposition leader in a supposed emerging democracy.

And Trump isn't just some disinterested party when it comes to Vladimir Putin. He invited Putin into the Oval Office. He took his side, in humiliating fashion, in Helsinki. He broke with Europe in a huge Christmas gift to the Kremlin.

And he's chatted with Putin nearly a dozen times, with no American transcript. He wants to let Putin back into the G7 and reportedly to invite him to New York. For what, to hang out?

I mean, we're looking at it?

Last night, during the pre-convention interview with my friends Rachel Maddow and Nicolle Wallace and me, Rachel asked the woman who likely would have been president had Russia not intervened in 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to react to the news of what happened to Mr. Navalny.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This is the kind of regime that Donald Trump supports. And this is the kind of leadership from an autocrat like Putin that he aspires to.

And to circle back to Nicolle's question, every American should ask him or herself, you know, do you want a country where your president admires someone who kills, literally kills his opposition?

And it is a demonstration of the moral bankruptcy, but also the clear and present danger that the Trump administration poses to our freedoms, to our values.

And I am really concerned that more people in our country are not understanding what has happened elsewhere in the world that Trump seems to admire.

And what would stop him from going even further than he has, if given the chance?


REID: Behold, a normal American response to the outrage of what's happening in Russia, a country that, as Rachel wrote in her bestselling book "Blowout," is basically a mobbed-up oil cartel disguised as a country, with millions of innocent people trapped inside.

But our current president loves that mafioso government, just like he loves so many other dictatorial regimes, but none more than Russia.

Don't you just wonder what's up with that?

We have a problem, America. Donald Trump cannot seem to decide whether he is an American president or a member of the Russian Duma. Is that good enough for you?

We will be right back.


REID: It was the first of its kind.

This week, the Democratic Party showed that a packed arena of sign-waving supporters wasn't necessary for a successful convention. In fact, foregoing the adoring crowd, Democrats were able to pack even more in, with 49 live speakers and nearly 300 others on camera.

Even as it was labeled the unconventional convention, the Democrats shared a diverse selection of American stories, had a roll call vote that gave viewers a stunning visual, visual tour of the nation, and, of course, was filled with all the heavy hitters in the party making the case for Joe Biden.

And joining me now are Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for "The Nation," Alaina Beverly, former national deputy director of African-American outreach for President Obama's 2008 campaign, and presidential historian Jon Meacham, who spoke at the Democratic Convention last night.

So, I'm going to go in reverse order.

Jon, first of all, congratulations on your speech, because I thought it was one of the best of the convention, honestly.


REID: I'm a history geek. And so I love a good history turn.

When you were going...

MEACHAM: That makes you part of the base, the dork base. We appreciate that.

REID: Yes. We're the nerd base. But you know what? We're proud of it. We love being nerds. Nerds rule.

MEACHAM: That's right.


REID: So, you know what the term is. Nerds rule, dot, dot, dot eventually.


MEACHAM: We keep waiting.

REID: So, when you were going into this, knowing it was going to be an unusual, sort of unconventional speech, what did you want to convey? And who did you want to convey it to?

MEACHAM: Well, Vice President Biden gave me a very clear essay question.

It was, define the soul of America, and do it quick.


MEACHAM: So, I had my march -- that's a direct quotation. I had my marching orders.

And, really, you know, it's a commonplace phrase now, but it is one of those things that, because it's so commonplace, sometimes, we sort of lose -- might lose what it means.

And my argument about the soul of the country is not that it's all good or all bad, but that it's an arena of contention between our worst instincts and our better angels.

And the task of politics, the task of civic life is to do all we can to give those better angels an advantage.

And so I wanted to make the point that, in American history, the person at the pinnacle of power matters enormously, always has. And it's only in the absence of consistent dignity, of a genuine embrace of the American spirit of inclusion, as opposed to exclusion, focusing on the worst of us, not the best, when we have a president who does that, we need to ride to the point.

And I think that's what I wanted to convey. At our best, we reach out. We don't clench a fist.

REID: Yes. And you did it very beautifully.

And, Ms. Alaina Beverly, my homey from 2008, when I was a wee little junior person, and you were like a boss lady doing all those great things.

So, it's so great to see you. I'm so proud of you. And the reality...


REID: Well, the reality is, is, that what we saw this week was only made possible by what happened in 2008, right? The election of Barack Obama literally made possible the selection as the Democratic nominee of Joe Biden, because, had he not picked Joe Biden, had there not been that convention in '08, this would not have happened.

So, I want you to talk to me about this trajectory.

Last night -- I'm going to show a little bit of Elizabeth Warren. We're not going to play it, but I'm going to show it.

There was a beautiful little touch here where you could see the blocks in the classroom she's standing in had BLM, Black Lives Matter, spelled out. Rachel actually is the first one who noticed that, because I can barely see.

You also had, out of the DNC keynote speakers, 17 of them were next generation leaders. They gave time and space, lots of time, for these new generation leaders to speak.

Talk to me about what you think that has grown from 2008 to 2020 in the Democratic Party. What's changed?

BEVERLY: Well, thank you for that question.

So, certainly, we wouldn't have Joe Biden in the position that he's in today without the Obama/Biden coalition and the unity that was brokered across the country in support of that ticket.

But he's also -- what I thought was so unique about his speech was that he built upon that vision, because now we -- in addition to being a very diverse country, we are also a deeply hurting country. And he spoke to the trauma that all of us are facing right now.

And I love that he said he was going to be an ally of the light, because, when people are traumatized, they don't move and they don't act and they don't vote. And he spoke to the trauma that the country is facing, the over 170,000 lives that have been lost, our friends, our families, the businesses that have been shuttered, the black lives, black bodies, that we all walk in fear in the street, knowing that we could be George Floyd.

He actually invoked George Floyd's name. And I think that this is carrying out and expanding upon that over Obama/Biden coalition, but also speaking to the country where we are right now.

I was so -- I was pleased and delighted with the convention because of those new voices, as you mentioned, that were brought in, because there were references to Black Lives Matter, because it was clear that we understand that the progressive and the more moderate-leaning arms of the movement are coming together for this moment.

But they're opening the door, the possibility that we can together broker the type of future that we want.

So, I think that this is a natural expansion of what we saw in 2008, but with very different times and rising to meet that challenge of leadership.

REID: Yes.

And, Elie, I note that you did write that there was a glaring thing missing from what we saw over the last four days, and that was a lot of focus on the court. And I mentioned that knowing that you had during this convention, Donald Trump's counterprogramming was his former campaign manager getting arrested, the -- Cy Vance getting his tax returns, and him going off on Twitter.

But there are a lot -- there's a lot in the law that matters, and there's a lot that was in the convention that has to do with the law, about whether or not a president can hide his tax returns, about abortion access, about a lot of different stuff.

You did write that you think there should have been a more direct focus on the courts. Spell that out for us.


I hate to be like a human whomp, whomp, but this was a great convention, if there was only one branch of government. There are three branches of government. And what we understood -- what we need to understand is that, whatever you feel about Biden -- look, I loved the Democratic Convention for homeless Republicans as much as anybody.

I'm a liberal. I like helping refugees.

But if you are unsure about Biden, what you need to know is that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 87 years old, Stephen Breyer is 81 years old. And if you don't take back the courts, you take back nothing. If you do not take back the Senate, if Jaime Harrison does not win, if Sara Gideon does not win, if M.J. Hegar doesn't win, then you take back nothing.

I didn't hear nearly enough of that at the Democratic National Convention. I will tell you where I'm going to hear it, the Republican National Convention, because next week, when they're in between their Confederate reenactments, and in between their authoritarian bootlicking, what you will hear is judges, judges, judges, judges.

The Republicans are going to hit that drum. They're going to bang that drum. Like, that's why bringing the Covington High School kid to bang some drums on judges, right?

But our convention didn't hit that point. And I think that's a real missed opportunity.

REID: Yes.

And, Alaina, I will give that to you, because, I mean, if you look at their speakers next week, it's Tim Scott, Joni Ernst. They don't have any big stars. But they have got anti-abortion activists in there that's coming.

BEVERLY: Oh, they sure do.

REID: There's some school safety activists. They want to talk about school safety. They want to talk about criminal justice.

So they're on themes. They're not -- because they don't really have celebrities. Like, they can't get Jennifer Hudson, right? So they're going to go for themes, and the court is going to be a theme next week.

BEVERLY: Yes, they can't get Tracee Ellis Ross, so they're going to go for hate, division. They're going to bring that teenager that you just mentioned who was banging the drum -- or who was taunting the Native American elder.

They're going to bring those -- that crazy couple from Saint Louis, that gun-toting couple, the McCloskeys. The sideshow will be real for the RNC.

But the contrast couldn't be different -- I mean, couldn't be more different. If you think about us, we have Brayden Harrington. We have real people. We have those 17 newly elected Democrats coming to the table.

REID: Right. Yes.

BEVERLY: We have real people.

REID: Yes.

BEVERLY: They're going to stoke hate and division and anger and nasty comments about our next madam vice president. That's what we can expect.

REID: I just hope that that couple doesn't actually bring their guns, because that would be weird.

Elie Mystal, my friends, all, Alaina Beverly, Jon Meacham, thank you.

Jon Meacham is actually sticking around. He's going to stick around, because you know what? Pretty soon, we're going to have "Who Won the Week?"And he's sticking around for that.

But, first, we're going to give you your "Moment of Joy." And that is straight ahead.


REID: We have heard some incredibly talented musical guests perform on the virtual DNC stage over the past four nights.

Take a look.




REID: And that is our "Moment of Joy."

I guarantee you, Donald Trump and them won't have anything like that next week. Sorry.

"Who Won the Week?" is next.


REID: Ooh, we have made it to Friday. And you know what that mean.

It is time to find out "Who Won the Week?"

And back with me, Jon Meacham. And joining us now is "The Washington Post"'s Jonathan Capehart.

But you have to wait, because Jon Meacham is going to tell us first who won the week.

MEACHAM: The spirit and substance of John Lewis' life and work, which was very much on display in the Democratic Convention, culminating in Thursday night with that wonderful tribute to him, and followed up by Joe Biden articulating how a united party can lead to a united nation, and actually create a bridge to a better future.

REID: Wow. Yes. No, that's a tough one to follow.

It's just the images of him, especially when he was young, were just so poignant and amazing.

All right, big shoes to fill here, Jonathan Capehart.

Who won the week?


But I'm going to try.


CAPEHART: The Democratic National Committee, I think, won the week, because they had no road map for what to do with a convention in the age of COVID, and had even lower expectations.

But what they ended up doing was creating the template by which and through which the Republican National Convention next week will be judged.

REID: Yes.

CAPEHART: And if those four days for any marker, I don't know if they can meet it.

REID: Yes, it was really, really good. I think I'm with Lawrence O'Donnell. Leave it that way.

My pick is Brayden Harrington, the 13-year-old young man who gave his speech. He talked about overcoming stammering. He was wonderful -- overcoming stuttering. He was fabulous. And I believe he won the week.

Thank you, guys, very much.

He was amazing. He was an amazing young man.

So, you won the weak, young guy.

Thank you so much, Jon Meacham, Jonathan Capehart.

That is tonight's REIDOUT.

Be sure to tune in for "A.M. JOY" tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Jonathan is hosting it. I will be one of his guests.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.



Content and programming copyright 2020 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.